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28th January Current Affairs

Comic book ‘India’s Women Unsung Heroes’ released

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

A pictorial book telling the stories of 20 unsung women freedom fighters was released by the Culture Ministry recently.

Details:

The book was brought out in partnership with Amar Chitra Katha.

Key leaders covered include:

Rani Abbakka:

Rani Abbakka who thwarted Portuguese attacks for several decades.

Rani Abbakka Chowta was the first Tuluva Queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th century.

She belonged to the Chowta dynasty who ruled over parts of coastal Karnataka (Tulu Nadu), India. Their capital was Puttige.

Matangiri Hazra:

Matangiri Hazra, a freedom fighter from Bengal who laid down her life in the struggle.

She participated in the Indian independence movement until she was shot dead by the British Indian police in front of the Tamluk Police Station (of erstwhile Midnapore District) on 29 September 1942.

She was affectionately known as Gandhi buri, Bengali for old lady Gandhi.

In 1930, she took part in the Civil Disobedience movement and was arrested for breaking the Salt Act.

Gulab Kaur:

Gulab Kaur, who fought against the British rule after abandoning her own dreams of a life abroad.

In Manila, Gulab Kaur joined Ghadar Party, an organization founded by Indian immigrants with the aim to liberate the Indian Subcontinent from British Rule.

Padmaja Naidu:

Padmaja Naidu, Sarojini Naidu’s daughter and a freedom fighter in her own right.

She was also a politician who was the 5th Governor of West Bengal from 3 November 1956 to 1 June 1967.

At the age of 21, she co-founded the Indian National Congress in the Nizam ruled princely state of Hyderabad.

She was jailed for taking part in the “Quit India” movement in 1942. After Independence, she was elected to the Indian Parliament in 1950.

Velu Nachiyar:

Velu Nachiyar, the first Indian queen to wage war against the East India Company.

She was a queen of Sivaganga estate from 1780–1790.

She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai (“brave woman”).

With the support of Haider Alis Army, feudal lords, marudhu brothers, Dalit commanders and thandavarayan pillai she fought the East India company.

Jhalkari Bai:

Jhalkari Bai, a solider and adviser to the Rani of Jhansi.

She was a woman soldier who played an important role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

At the height of the Siege of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on her behalf, on the front, allowing the queen to escape safely out of the fort.

WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

The European Union has launched a case against Beijing at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for targeting Lithuania over its stance on Taiwan.

Details:

Lithuania made waves in July when it allowed Taiwan to open a diplomatic outpost in Vilnius.

The move outraged Beijing, which does not recognise Taiwan as a state and considers the self-ruled democratic island a rebellious territory of the mainland.

Lithuania:

It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea.

Lithuania shares land borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia to the southwest.

Dispute settlement:

Resolving trade disputes is one of the core activities of the WTO.

A dispute arises when a member government believes another member government is violating an agreement or a commitment that it has made in the WTO.

The WTO has one of the most active international dispute settlement mechanisms in the world. Since 1995, 609 disputes have been brought to the WTO and over 350 rulings have been issued.

There are two main ways to settle a dispute once a complaint has been filed in the WTO:

(i) the parties find a mutually agreed solution, particularly during the phase of bilateral consultations.

(ii) through adjudication, including the subsequent implementation of the panel and Appellate Body reports, which are binding upon the parties once adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body.

There are three main stages to the WTO dispute settlement process:

(i) consultations between the parties.

(ii) adjudication by panels and, if applicable, by the Appellate Body.

(iii) the implementation of the ruling, which includes the possibility of countermeasures in the event of failure by the losing party to implement the ruling.

WTO’s Appellate Body:

The Appellate Body, set up in 1995, is a standing committee of seven members that presides over appeals against judgments passed in trade-related disputes brought by WTO members.

Countries involved in a dispute over measures purported to break a WTO agreement or obligation can approach the Appellate Body if they feel the report of the panel set up to examine the issue needs to be reviewed on points of law.

However, existing evidence is not re-examined but legal interpretations are reviewed.

The Appellate Body can uphold, modify, or reverse the legal findings of the panel that heard the dispute. Countries on either or both sides of the dispute can appeal.

Tipu Sultan

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

Tipu Sultan is at the centre of controversy in Mumbai with the BJP claiming a Congress leader is planning to rename a playground in a Muslim dominated locality after the Mysore king.

Who was Tipu Sultan?

He was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore and the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore.

In the wider national narrative, Tipu has so far been seen as a man of imagination and courage, a brilliant military strategist who, in a short reign of 17 years, mounted the most serious challenge the Company faced in India.

Contributions of Tipu Sultan:

Fought the first Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69) at the age of 17 and subsequently, against the Marathas and in the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84).

He fought Company forces four times during 1767-99 and was killed defending his capital Srirangapatnam in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War.

Tipu reorganised his army along European lines, using new technology, including what is considered the first war rocket.

Devised a land revenue system based on detailed surveys and classification, in which the tax was imposed directly on the peasant, and collected through salaried agents in cash, widening the state’s resource base.

Modernised agriculture, gave tax breaks for developing wasteland, built irrigation infrastructure and repaired old dams, and promoted agricultural manufacturing and sericulture. Built a navy to support trade.

Commissioned a “state commercial corporation” to set up factories.

Why are there so many controversies surrounding him?

There are concerns raised against Tipu Sultan on nearly every historical figure, perspectives differ.

Haider and Tipu had strong territorial ambitions, and invaded and annexed territories outside Mysore. In doing so, they burnt down entire towns and villages, razed hundreds of temples and churches, and forcibly converted Hindus.

The historical record has Tipu boasting about having forced “infidels” to convert to Islam, and of having destroyed their places of worship.

The disagreement then, is between those who see the “Tiger of Mysore” as a bulwark against colonialism and a great son of Karnataka, and those who point to his destruction of temples and forced conversions of Hindus and Christians to accuse him of tyranny and fanaticism.

Central Asia Meet

(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)

In News:

First India-Central Asia Summit was recently hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Details:

The India-Central Asia summit marked 30 years of diplomatic relations.

Outcomes of the meet – the “Delhi Declaration”:

India expressed concerns over the lack of land connectivity between India and Central Asia’s land–locked countries.

The leaders announced plan to build a “Central Asia Centre” in New Delhi.

They also announced two “Joint Working Groups” (JWGs) on Afghanistan and the Chabahar port project.

The leaders highlighted the importance of TAPI gas pipeline project that runs from Turkmenistan’s Galknyshk oil fields near Mary (Marv) through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.

Alternative routes available:

India can reach these land locked countries over sea provided by Iranian ports including the Chabahar port terminal managed by Indian and the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through Bandar Abbas that is promoted by Russia and Iran.

Geo Strategic importance of Central Asia:

Central Asia is strategically positioned as an access point between Europe and Asia and offers extensive potential for trade, investment, and growth.

Central Asia is not a part of India’s immediate neighborhood and therefore it doesn’t share borders with India, the issue of connectivity between the two regions becomes of paramount importance.

Geo economic Importance of Central Asia:

The region is richly endowed with natural resources like  crude oil, natural gas,  gold, copper, aluminum, and iron.

International North – South Transport Corridor:

India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg. ‘

It is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight.

Regions involved: India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

About TAPI Project:

Inaugurated in 2015.

It is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank.

The project has run into issues over India-Pakistan tensions and the situation in Afghanistan.

Benefits of this project for India:

Energy is a growing need, and even if India is able to source energy from other countries like Iran and further afield, both the proximity and abundance of Turkmenistan’s reserves, that rank fourth in the world, will make it an attractive proposition.

It will bring India much needed energy at competitive pricing, and could easily supply about 15% of India’s projected needs by the time it is completed in the 2020s.

This project also gives India an opportunity to secure its interest in Central Asia. TAPI’s success will also ensure that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan find ways of cooperating on other issues as well.