Prelims Booster

29th June – Prelims Booster

Mar Thoma Church

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed distinguished members of Mar Thoma Church on the 90th birthday celebrations of reverend Dr Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan.

About Malankara Mar Thoma Church –

  • Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church otherwise called as Mar Thoma Church in a shorter form, which is a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. is one of the ancient Churches in the world.
  • It is traditionally believed that St. Thomas (Mar Thoma in Syriac), the disciple of Jesus Christ came to India in AD 52 and established the Church in the Malabar coast. Kerala was known as Malankara in those times.
  • Being rooted in the Bible, the Church maintains its Episcopal heritage and value oriented democratic form of administration.
  • The Church accepts Holy Bible as the basis for all matters of faith and doctrine, and the Nicene Creed formulated in accordance with the Holy Scripture. The Church is regarded as a ’bridge’ church in the Ecumenical world.

Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw

Recently, the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington commemorated the 12th death anniversary of Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw.

About Sam Manekshaw –

  • Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw was born on 03 April 1914 at Amritsar. As a young Captain in WW-II, he saw action in Burma and was severely wounded. He was awarded Military Cross in 1942 for the conspicuous gallantry displayed in the face of enemy.
  • During 1946-47 Field Marshal Manekshaw was posted in Military Operations Directorate and oversaw the planning and administration of various issue related to partition and subsequently military operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • As Corps Commander during the 1962 operations, he demonstrated distinguished leadership and positively impacted the conduct of operations. He was also the Commandant of Infantry School, Mhow and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968.
  • Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw took over as Chief of Army Staff on 08 January 1969. He successfully crafted India’s greatest military triumph by leading Indian Army into 1971 Operations which resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh within a short duration of 13 days.
  • He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972. In recognition of the outstanding contribution made by the General Officer to the armed forces and the nation, he was elevated to the rank of Field Marshal on 15 January 1973. He breathed his last on 27 Jun 2008.

PV Narasimha Rao

The Vice President of India paid tributes to former Prime Minister, Shri P V Narasimha Rao on his birth anniversary and recalled the pioneering role played by him in initiating economic reforms at a critical juncture when the Indian economy was on the brink of a collapse.

About PV Narasimha Rao –

  • Narasimha Rao was born on 28th June 1921 in Laknepalli, Warangal District in present-day Telangana.
  • He took part in the freedom struggle and was part of the Vande Mataram movement in Hyderabad State.
  • In the 1940s, he co-edited and contributed articles to a Telugu weekly journal called Kakatiya Patrika.
  • He joined the Indian National Congress and entered politics full-time after independence.
  • He became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in 1971 and remained in office till 1973. His CM tenure was marked by a stringent implementation of the land ceilings act in the Telangana region.
  • He became the External Affairs Minister in 1980 under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi. He was the External Affairs Minister for four years and then again from 1988 to 1989 under Rajiv Gandhi. He was also the Defence Minister under Rajiv Gandhi.
  • After a near-retirement from politics in 1991, Rao made a comeback after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. In the elections that followed, the Congress Party could lead a minority government and Rao was selected as the PM. He got elected in a by-election from Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh. This win entered the Guinness Book for the victory margin (of 5 lakh votes).
  • He was the first person from the non-Hindi belt to become India’s PM. When he completed his five-year term, he became the first person outside of the Nehru-Gandhi family to do so as the PM.

Contributions –

  • His tenure as PM is most remembered for the major economic reforms under which the government decided to open up the economy and move towards a market economy.
  • The dreaded License Raj was dismantled by Rao and his team. The finance minister was Manmohan Singh, whose non-political lineage caused a flutter when he was appointed by Rao. He opened up to foreign investment, deregulated domestic business, and reformed the capital markets and the trade regime.
  • From $132 million in 1991-92, the total foreign investment in the country rose to $5.3 billion in 1995-96.
  • Industrial licensing was drastically reduced and rationalised.
  • He supported and nurtured the nuclear security and missiles program of the country. The 1998 Pokhran tests of 1998 (carried out by the Vajpayee government) were actually planned under Rao’s term itself, it is speculated.
  • He started India’s Look East Policy as part of foreign relations with South East Asia.
  • India’s first anti-terrorism legislation, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) was passed by his government.

World Drug Report 2020

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released the World Drug Report for the year 2020.

Findings of the report –

  • It has highlighted a wide range of possible consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on illegal drug production, supply and consumption.
  • The report has expressed concern over the adverse impact of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic. This could lead to an increase in the number of people resorting to illicit activities linked to drugs to make a living.
  • As experienced during the 2008 economic crisis, it could result in reductions in drug-related budgets of the governments; overall increase in drug use, with a shift towards cheaper and more harmful drugs.
  • The report says that the lockdown could hinder the production and sale of opiates in major producing countries. The key months for the opium harvest in Afghanistan are March to June. This year’s harvest took place during the pandemic.
  • A recent uptick in heroin seizures in the Indian Ocean could be interpreted as an indication of an increase in the use of maritime routes for trafficking heroin to Europe along the ‘southern route’.

Drug use –

  • The report said that about 26.9 crore people used drugs in 2018, which was 30% more than the 2009 figure, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users.
  • Compared with earlier estimates from a survey done in 2004, overall opioid use in India is estimated to have increased fivefold.

About World Drug Report –

  • The World Drug Report provides an annual overview of the major developments in drug markets for the various drug categories, ranging from production to trafficking, including development of new routes and modalities, as well as consumption.
  • It is released annually by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

About United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) –

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations Office at Vienna.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and was renamed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2002.
  • It releases ‘World Drug Report’ annually.

UN-75 declaration

A commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter was delayed as member states could not reach an agreement on phraseology.

The Chinese angle –

  • The Five Eyes — the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada — along with India, objected to the use of a phrase “shared vision of a common future”, associated with China.
  • The phrase, “community with a shared future for mankind” is closely associated with the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and especially Chinese President Xi Jinping as an articulation of the country’s vision for the world.
  • The ‘silence’ process (a procedure by which a resolution passes if no formal objections are raised within a stipulated time) was broken at the request of the U.K.’s UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen, who wrote a letter dated June 24 on behalf of the six countries to the President of the 74th General Assembly, suggesting alternative wording.

Formation of the UN Charter –

  • The UN was formed following the devastating aftermath of World War II, with the aim of preventing future global-scale conflicts. It was a successor to the ineffective League of Nations.
  • The representatives of 50 governments met in San Francisco on 25 April 1945, to draft what would become the UN Charter. The charter was adopted on 25 June 1945 and came into effect on 24 October 1945.
  • In accordance with the Charter, the organisation’s objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law.

What is ‘five eyes’?

  • The Five Eyes network is an intelligence alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.
  • As per a former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the Five Eyes is a ‘supra-national intelligence organisation’ and is not accountable to the laws of its countries.
  • In 1943, after World War II ended, the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement to continue sharing the intelligence inputs between them. The agreement was known as the British-U.S. Communication Agreement (BRUSA) which was later renamed as the United Kingdom-United States of America Agreement (UKUSA). 
  • The Five Eyes was primarily formed to handle the global threats mainly from the Soviet Union, China and several other eastern European countries. In the following years, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were added and the agreement is known as Five Eyes Alliance. Canada became a part of Five Eyes in 1948 while Australia and New Zealand became its part in 1956.

Press Trust of India

The state broadcaster Prasar Bharati has threatened to cancel its subscription to the Press Trust of India (PTI), alleging that the news agency’s recent coverage was “detrimental to national interest” and undermined India’s “territorial integrity”.

What is the issue?

  • The state broadcaster’s disquiet seems to have been sparked by an interview with China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong by the news agency.
  • In the interview, Mr. Sun had put the onus of the conflict at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, and the subsequent clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers, on India.
  • Critics have alleged that the PTI failed to actually interview the Chinese Ambassador and rather put out a ‘propaganda’ paper of the Chinese Ambassador as the interview of the Chinese Ambassador.

About Press Trust of India –

  • Press Trust of India (PTI) is the largest news agency in India employing over 400 journalists and 500 part-time correspondents located in most of the district headquarters in the country.
  • It was registered in 1947 and started functioning in 1949.
  • It is India’s largest news agency, a non-profit trust run by a Board, comprising owners and proprietors of key newspapers groups in the country.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi. Its corporate office is located in New Delhi and registered office in Mumbai.

South China Sea

The leaders of the ASEAN have said that UNCLOS 1982 should be the basis of sovereign rights and entitlements in the South China Sea.

South China Sea dispute –

  • The South China Sea is a busy international waterway, one of the main arteries of global trade worth more than $5 trillion and is growing year on year. It is a rich source of hydrocarbons and natural resources.
  • The South China Sea is an area of growing conflicts due to territorial claims by different countries. With respect to the Spratly Islands, different geographic features are reportedly occupied by claimants such as Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, and Malaysia. The Paracels Islands are claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
  • In the first half of the 20th century, the Sea remained almost quiet. In fact, at the end of World War II, no claimant occupied a single island in the entire South China Sea.
  • China laid claim to the South China Sea in 1947. It demarcated its claims with a U-shaped line made up of eleven dashes on a map, covering most of the area.
  • But two “dashes” were removed in the early 1950s to bypass the Gulf of Tonkin as a gesture to communist comrades in North Vietnam. The remaining ‘nine-dash line’ stretches hundreds of kilometres south and east of its southerly Hainan Island, covering almost 90% of South China Sea.
  • After 1960’s when the huge reserve of oil and natural gas were discovered in the region, the territorial claims started growing in an unprecedented manner.

Importance of South China Sea for India –

  • Trade and Energy – 55% of India’s trade passes through Strait of Malacca which opens into South China Sea and India has a stake in ensuring freedom of navigation. (ONGC and PetroVietnam oil exploration MoU in South China Sea)
  • It is important for India to maintain good relations with ASEAN countries and Japan.
  • From Strategic point of view, India might be interested in developing strategic contacts in South China Sea (as suggested by Former Defence Minister George Fernandes) to counter Chinese presence in Indian Ocean. ((Vietnam has offered naval base facilities at Cam Ranh Bay to Indian Navy)
  • India has discreetly contested the claims of U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ marking the vast area that China claims in the sea, a route for more than $5 trillion in trade each year. 

What is UNCLOS 1982?

  • The ‘Law of the Sea Treaty’, formally known as United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) was adopted in 1982 to establish jurisdictional limits over the ocean areas.
  • The convention defines a distance of 12 nautical miles from the baseline as Territorial Sea limit and a distance of 200 nautical miles distance as Exclusive Economic Zone limit.
  • It provides for technology and wealth transfer from developed to underdeveloped nations and requires parties to implement regulations and laws to control marine pollution.
  • India became a signatory to the UNCLOS in 1982.
  • UNCLOS created three new institutions –
    • International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea – It is an independent judicial body established by UNCLOS to adjudicate disputes arising out of the convention.
    • International Seabed Authority – It is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. 
    • Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf –  It facilitates the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

What is ASEAN?

  • ASEAN was founded in 1967 (by ASEAN Declaration at Bangkok, Thailand) by Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines with the aim of containing communism in their region.
  • ASEAN Member nations – A total of 10-nations – Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines.
  • The Secretariat of ASEAN is located at Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • India, a leader of the NAM, which also leaned towards the Soviet Union, wasn’t enthusiastic about what it saw as a pro-US bloc in Asia. The year 2017 marked the 50 years of ASEAN.
  • East Asia Summit (EAS) – A total of 18-nations – ASEAN (10 nations) + (China, Japan, South Korea) + (India, Australia, New Zealand) + (Russia, US)
  • ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – ARF is a formal, official, multilateral, dialogue in the Asia Pacific region. Participants: All EAS members (18 nations) +Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Mongolia, Canada and EU. Objectives – To foster dialogue and consultation, and to promote CBMs and preventive diplomacy in the region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994.

Indian Ocean’s ancient climate patterns

About 19,000-21,000 years ago, ice-sheets covered North America and Eurasia, and sea-levels were much lower. This period, the peak of ice age conditions, is called the Last Glacial Maximum.

Research –

  • Researchers analysed simulations of this past climate and predicted that the ongoing climate change could reawaken an ancient climate pattern of the Indian Ocean.
  • They find that this could be similar to the El Niño phenomenon of the Pacific Ocean bringing more frequent and devastating floods and drought to several densely populated countries around the Indian Ocean region.
  • If current warming trends continue, this new Indian Ocean El Niño could emerge as early as 2050.

Predictions –

  • As it is, under present-day conditions, changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation strongly affect Indian Monsoon variability from year to year.
  • If the hypothesised ‘equatorial mode’ emerges in the near future, it will pose another source of uncertainty in rainfall prediction and will likely amplify swings in monsoon rainfall.”

Impact –

The paper adds that it could bring more frequent droughts to East Africa and southern India and increased rainfall over Indonesia.

Daily MCQs

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