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4th Feb Current Affairs

India proposes to expand research, tourism in the Arctic

In News:

India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy.

India’s Arctic Policy Roadmap For Sustainable Engagement draft rides on five pillars:

  • Science and research activities.
  • Economic and human development cooperation.
  • Transportation and connectivity.
  • Governance and international cooperation.
  • National capacity building.

Highlights of the Policy:

The policy commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.

The draft spells out goals in India’s Arctic Mission such as to better understand the scientific and climate-related linkages between the Arctic and the Indian monsoons.

It also seeks to harmonise polar research with the third pole (the Himalayas) and to advance the study and understanding of the Arctic within India.

The policy calls for exploration opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals from the Arctic and identifying opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure in areas such as “offshore exploration/mining, ports, railways and airports.

Arctic region:

The Arctic region comprises the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries such as Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, USA (Alaska), Finland, Sweden and Iceland.

These countries together form the core of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum. The region is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which, about one-tenth are indigenous people.

India’s engagement in the Arctic:

India already has a research station in the Arctic, Himadri, for the research work.

India received the ‘Observer’ country status in the Arctic Council in 2013 and is one among the 13 countries across the world, including China, to have that position. The status was renewed in 2018.

Significance of arctic study for India:

Though none of India’s territory directly falls in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area as the Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.

Due to climate change, the region faces the loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean which in turn impacts the global climate.

The frigid Arctic, which keeps losing ice due to global warming, is one of the batteries feeding the variations in Indian monsoons.

Pakistan risks FATF blacklisting

In News:

Pakistan might be pushed into the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘black list’ next month as it continues to finance and tolerate terrorist organisations.

Details:

According to a report, terrorist organisations, such as Jamaar-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM), continue to operate with impunity in Pakistan.

What is FATF Blacklist?

It is a list of countries that the intra-governmental organisation considers non-cooperative in the global effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Background:

In October, the FATF decided that Pakistan will continue to be on its greylist and asked it to continue to work on implementing an action plan to address its strategic deficiencies.

Pakistan is on the FATF’s grey list since June 2018 and the government was given a final warning in February 2020 to complete the 27 action points by June in the same year.

The FATF extended the June deadline to September due to the spread of coronavirus that disrupted the FATF plenary meetings.

About FATF:

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.
  • It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Roles and functions:

Initially it was established to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.

In October 2001, the FATF expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, in addition to money laundering.

In April 2012, it added efforts to counter the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Bhima Koregaon Battle

In News:

OCHCR has called for release of Bhima Koregaon activists.

What’s the issue?

The Bhima Koregaon case dates back to January 1, 2018, which marked the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle.

The event was organised to celebrate the victory of the British army, which included a large number of Mahars, against Peshwa Baji Rao II’s army.

Several human rights activists, including Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, were arrested during the course of the investigation.

About the Bhima- Koregaon battle:

A battle was fought in Bhima Koregaon, a district in Pune with a strong historical Dalit connection, between the Peshwa forces and the British on January 1, 1818.

The British army, which comprised mainly of Dalit soldiers, fought the upper caste-dominated Peshwa army. The British troops defeated the Peshwa army.

Outcomes of the battle:

The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.

However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.

Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol?

The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company force were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the the Peshwa force is seen as Dalit assertion.

On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.

About OHCHR:

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights.

It is mandated to, Inter alia protect and promote all human rights and to conduct necessary advocacy in that regard, established pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/141.

It also has to promote adherence to international human rights law and, with this purpose in mind, to support domestic courts, with their constitutional or judicial function, in ensuring the implementation of international legal obligations. This is the basis for seeking intervention.