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5th September Current Affairs

India-Bangladesh ties

(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings involving India and Affecting Indian interests, India-Bangladesh relations etc)

In News:

On the occasion of, Sheikh Hasina’s much-anticipated visit to India,  countries are expected to sign at least one major river agreement.

India-Bangladesh trade:

Sixth largest trading partner: Bangladesh is India’s sixth largest trade partner with bilateral trade rising from $2.4 billion (two point four) in 2009 to $10.8 billion in 2020-21.

Industrial raw materials: Bangladesh imports critical industrial raw materials from India on which its exports are reliant.

World Bank working paper: Bangladesh’s exports could rise 182% under a free trade agreement.

This could become 300% if combined with trade facilitation measures and reduced transaction costs.

Service sectors: Bangladesh also could improve several manufacturing industries by leveraging Indian expertise in service sectors.

India and Bangladesh have expanded their partnership to include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Fintech
  • Cybersecurity
  • Startups
  • Connectivity

Projects to boost eastern India-Bangladesh connectivity:

Economic growth: India’s connectivity projects with ASEAN and Bangladesh will open up the region to economic growth.

Joining IMT project: Bangladesh’s interest in joining the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway project.

Use of Bangladesh ports: India-Bangladesh bilateral waterway trade will get boosted as India can now use the Mongla and Chittagong

Use of Indian ports: India is rallying Bangladesh to divert its exports through Indian ports in place of Malaysian or Singaporean ports.

Train and bus connectivity: Three express trains and international bus services operate between India and Bangladesh.

Importance of Teesta for India and Bangladesh:

India:

Important for farming: For West Bengal, Teesta is important to sustain its impoverished farming districts which comprise 12.77% (twelve point seven seven) of its population.

Bangladesh:

Dependence on agriculture: For Bangladesh, the Teesta’s flood plains cover about 14% of the total cropped area of the country and provide direct livelihood opportunities to approximately 7.3% (Seven point three) of the population.

Role of China:

Bilateral ties: China has been actively pursuing bilateral ties with Bangladesh.

Mega projects: Bangladesh had successfully approached China for a mega project to enhance the Teesta river water flow.

Rohingya issue: Bangladesh also requires China’s support in resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Arms import: Bangladesh is the second biggest arms market for China after Pakistan.

Issues:

Teesta water sharing: The two have failed to resolve long-standing issues such as Teesta water-sharing and killings at the border.

China factor: Chinese inroads into Bangladesh have been a cause of worry for India.

Conclusion:

Earn the trust and confidence across the spectrum: The prevailing perception in Bangladesh is that India’s goodwill towards the country is aligned to one particular political ideology or school of thought as opposed to Bangladeshi society at large.

For India, the challenge is to earn the trust and confidence of Bangladeshis across the spectrum and strata.

RBI guidelines for digital lending

In News:

RBI has tightened the norms for digital lending seeing a number of cases of fraud.

About the guidelines:

No middlemen: All loans disbursals/repayment between the holder of the bank account and the Regulated entities ( e.g. Commercial banks, cooperatives, NBFC etc.)

Limited information can be stored: Name, address etc. are allowed but no biometric information of borrower can be stored by Digital lending apps (DLAs)

Reporting of all lending activities to be done to Credit Information companies (CICs).

A borrower can exit the digital loan by paying principal and interest after the cooling-off period/ look-up period.

Benefits: Guidelines will help in protecting consumers from harassment, breach of data, etc.

Basics:

Digital lending involves giving and recovering loans through web platforms or mobile apps. It facilitates speedy disbursal and helps lower the costs of lending.

Nano Urea

In News:

Nano urea fast-tracked for approval despite incomplete trials.

Concerns:

Normally, three seasons of independent assessment by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is required for approving a new fertiliser, but in the case of nano urea, this was reduced to two.

Scientists are still unclear if the product can on its own cut farmers’ dependence on urea.

Government’s view:

Government has clarified that established and existing procedures are fully followed for the registration of the fertilizer as per Fertiliser Control Order (FCO), 1985

Nano Urea has been provisionally notified under FCO based on encouraging results and feedback received from ICAR and State Agricultural Universities

What is Nano Urea:

Nano urea is a patented and indigenously made liquid  (developed and patented by IFFCO) that contains nanoparticles of urea, the most crucial chemical fertiliser for farmers in India.

A single half-litre bottle of the liquid can compensate for a 45kg sack of urea that farmers traditionally rely on.

Dark sky reserve

In News:

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of India’s first Dark Sky Reserve in Hanle, Ladakh in the next three months.

Details:

It is the partnership of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru.

What is dark-sky-reserve?

A dark-sky reserve is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory, that restricts artificial light pollution. The purpose of the dark-sky movement is generally to promote astronomy and avoid interference during astronomical observations.

The International Dark Sky Association is a U.S.-based non-profit that designates places as International Dark Sky Places, Parks, Sanctuaries and Reserves, depending on the criteria they meet.

Several such reserves exist around the world but none so far in India.

Why Hanle?

Located atop Mt. Saraswati in the Nilamkhul Plain in the Hanle Valley of Changthang, it is a dry, cold desert with a sparse human population and has the Hanle monastery as its nearest neighbour. The cloudless skies and low atmospheric water vapour make it one of the best sites in the world for optical, infrared, sub-millimetre, and millimetre wavelengths.

Changing the age of consent

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for the development of the social sector, Institutions and bodies constituted to protect vulnerable sections etc)

In News:

In Rama Bande Rama v. the State of Karnataka, the Karnataka High Court quashed criminal proceedings of rape and kidnapping under the Indian Penal Code, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Details:

It was based on a complaint of a 17-year-old girl’s father against her 20-year-old partner.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012:

It was enacted to protect the children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.

Consent of person under 18 years: Under POCSO, the consent of a person under the age of 18 is irrelevant, regardless of the nature and circumstance of the sexual interaction, or the particulars of the person with whom it takes place.

It defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age.

Issues:

Criminal justice system: A number of young couples in consensual and non-exploitative relationships have found themselves embroiled in the criminal justice system

Sexual offences: Boys/young men are charged with sexual offences without proper investigations.

Institutionalized in children’s homes: The girls are treated as victims and institutionalized in children’s homes when they refuse to return to their parents or their parents refuse to accept them.

Related Judgments:

Vijaylakshmi v. State Rep (2021): The Madras High Court observed that, punishing an adolescent boy who enters into a relationship with a minor girl by treating him as an offender, was never the objective of the POCSO Act.

Need of Reforms in Law:

Social realities: The high rate of acquittals shows that the law is not in sync with the social realities of adolescent relationships.

Blanket criminalisation: Consensual sexual acts involving older adolescents erodes their dignity, best interests, liberty, privacy, evolving autonomy, and development potential.

Burden on courts: It also impacts the delivery of justice as these cases constitute a large burden on our courts.

They divert attention from investigation and prosecution of actual cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Conclusion:

Prevent criminalisation: There is a compelling need for law reform to revise the age of consent and prevent the criminalisation of older adolescents engaging in factually consensual and non-exploitative acts.