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25th December Current Affairs

What is the S-400 deal? Why is India cautious as US sanctions Turkey?

In News:

The United States has imposed sanctions (Under CAATSA) on Turkey over Ankara’s acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.

What is the S-400 air defence missile system? Why does India need it?

The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

India’s acquisition is crucial to counter attacks in a two-front war, including even high-end F-35 US fighter aircraft.

What is CAATSA, and how did the S-400 deal fall foul of this Act?

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

The Act primarily deals with sanctions on Russian interests such as its oil and gas industry, defence and security sector, and financial institutions, in the backdrop of its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections.

But why does the US have a law like CAATSA to begin with?

Following the US elections and allegations of Russian meddling some call it collusion in the US elections, the strain between Washington and Moscow has reached a new level.

Angry with Moscow’s actions around the world, US lawmakers are hoping to hit Russia where it hurts most, its defense and energy business, through CAATSA.

And what does it mean for India’s defence landscape?

As per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Transfer Database, during the period 2010-17, Russia was the top arms supplier to India.

Most of India’s weapons are of Soviet/Russian origin – nuclear submarine INS Chakra, the Kilo-class conventional submarine, the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile, the MiG 21/27/29 and Su-30 MKI fighters, IL-76/78 transport planes, T-72 and T-90 tanks, Mi-series of helicopters, and Vikramaditya aircraft carrier

Therefore, CAATSA impacts Indo-US ties and dents the image of the US as a reliable partner.

While India has got a waiver from the outgoing Trump administration on the S-400 air defence system, Delhi hopes that the incoming Biden administration would not work towards reversing the decision.

Who are Uighurs?

In News:

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority labourers in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region are being forced to pick cotton through a coercive state-run scheme, a report has said.

Details:

This report is likely to heap more pressure on global brands such as Nike, Gap and Adidas, which have been accused of using Uighur forced labour in their textile supply chains.

Background:

Rights activists have said Xinjiang is home to a vast network of extrajudicial internment camps that have imprisoned at least one million people, which China has defended as vocational training centres to counter extremism.

Who are Uighurs?

Uighurs are a Muslim minority community concentrated in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province.

They claim closer ethnic ties to Turkey and other central Asian countries than to China, by brute — and brutal — force.

Why is China targeting the Uighurs?

Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

Over the past few decades, as economic prosperity has come to Xinjiang, it has brought with it in large numbers the majority Han Chinese,who have cornered the better jobs, and left the Uighurs feeling their livelihoods and identity were under threat.

This led to sporadic violence, in 2009 culminating in a riot that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, in the region’s capital Urumqi. And many other violent incidents have taken place since then.

Beijing also says Uighur groups want to establish an independent state and, because of the Uighurs’ cultural ties to their neighbours, leaders fear that elements in places like Pakistan may back a separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Therefore, the Chinese policy seems to have been one of treating the entire community as suspect, and launching a systematic project to chip away at every marker of a distinct Uighur identity.

Spike in return of people to Bangladesh

BSF and NCRB data says:

In the past four years, nearly twice the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants were caught leaving the country compared to those coming in illegally.

Till December 14 this year, as many as 3,173 illegal migrants were apprehended by the BSF when they were attempting to cross over to Bangladesh, three times more than the 1,115 caught while trying to enter India through illegal means.

In 2019, 2018 and 2017, the numbers of Bangladeshis leaving the country stood at 2,638, 2,971 and 821 respectively, compared to the 1,351, 1,118 and 871 persons respectively who entered illegally.

Reasons behind these migrations:

Another official added that there had been a surge in numbers of illegal Bangladeshis leaving the country due to the lack of work following the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

Once caught, what do security agencies do with them?

If they are apprehended, they let them go back. If they are arrested, it leads to lengthy legal procedures and the illegal migrants then have to be placed in a shelter or detention home till their nationality is proved.

Concern:

It is becoming difficult to distinguish between the Rohingya and Bangladeshis and the BSF personnel were not equipped to differentiate between the two on the basis of dialect.

Background:

India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours.

The India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) came into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification in June 2015.