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7th September Current Affairs

Karbi Agreement

(GS-III: Security challenges and their management in border areas; -linkages of organized crime with terroris)

In News:

A tripartite agreement among five insurgent groups of Assam, the Centre and the State government was recently signed to end years of violence in the Karbi Anglong region.

The insurgent groups which signed the peace accord include:

  • Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF),
  • People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK),
  • Kuki Liberation Front (KLF),
  • United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA) and
  • Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT).

Highlights of the Agreement:

Under the peace accord, more than 1,000 armed cadres have abjured violence and joined the mainstream.

The agreement provides for their rehabilitation.

The Centre will make available a special development package of ₹1,000 crore over the next five years, for the Assam government to undertake specific projects for the development of Karbi areas.

The Assam government will set up a Karbi Welfare Council for focused development of Karbi people living outside the ‘Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council’ (KAAC) area.

The consolidated fund of the State will be augmented to supplement the resources of KAAC.

Overall, the present settlement proposes to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to KAAC.

The memorandum of settlement would ensure:

  • Greater devolution of autonomy to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).
  • Protection of identity, language and culture of the Karbi people.
  • Focused development of the Council area, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.

Who are Karbis?

A major ethnic community of Assam— Karbis are dotted by many factions, and marked by ethnic violence, killings, abductions, taxation since the late 1980s.

Originally, they are one of Northeast India’s tribal groups, largely inhabiting the Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao (formerly North Cachar) hills districts.

What did the Karbis demand?

The core demand of the Karbi outfits was the formation of a separate state.

In late 1990s, the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Force (KPF) had come together to form the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS).

In November 2011, the organisation decided to lay down its arms and sign a tripartite memorandum of settlement with the Centre and the Assam government, settling for enhanced autonomy and special packages for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC).

The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, which is protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Bodo peace accord:

The former militants belonging to five Karbi splinter groups laid down their arms a year after the Assam state government signed the historic Bodo peace accord, bringing an end to the long-run violence in Bodoland.

The Bodoland region is also an autonomous territorial region that is administered by the elected body – Bodoland Territorial Council.

The Accord was first signed in 2003 and then extended in 2020.

Significance of Karbi Anglong Agreement:

The Karbi Anglong Agreement is important as an insurgency by Karbi has had a long history in Assam, which has been marked by killings, ethnic violence, abductions and taxation since the late 1980s.

The agreement hopes to bring an end to this violence and establish peace in the state.

Around 1000 Karbi militants had surrendered before the Assam government in February 2021.

Around 150 of those Karbi militants reached North Block where the Karbi Anglong Agreement was being signed and about 15 of them were present in the meeting.

Eastern Economic Forum 2021

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

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a video-address during the plenary session of the 6th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, Russia recently.

Details:

It may be recalled that the PM was the Chief Guest for the 5th EEF in 2019.

About the ‘EEF’:

The Eastern Economic Forum was established by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015.

It supports the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

It takes place each year in Vladivostok, a city in Russia.

It serves as a platform for the discussion of key issues in the world economy, regional integration, and the development of new industrial and technological sectors, as well as of the global challenges facing Russia and other nations.

Over the years, it has emerged as an international platform for discussing the strategy for developing political, economic and cultural ties between Russia and Asia Pacific.

Participants:

The Forum business programme includes a number of business dialogues with leading partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and with ASEAN, a key integration organization of dynamically developing nations in Southeast Asia.

About the FAR EAST:

The Far East is the easternmost part of Russia.

It borders two oceans, the Pacific and the Arctic, and five countries (China, Japan, Mongolia, the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)).

The Far Eastern Federal District covers more than a third of the country’s territory.

The Far East is rich in natural resources like diamonds, stannary, borax materials, 50 gold, tungsten, and fish and seafood.

About 1/3 of all coal reserves and hydro-engineering resources of the country are here.

Forests of the region comprise about 30% of the total forest area of Russia.

India’s interest in the EEF:

Going beyond the bonhomie and historical ties, India is also a key customer of the Russian arms industry.

In March, India entered into a joint venture with Russia to manufacture the legendary Kalashnikov assault rifles in India.

In 2018, Russia sold the S-400 advanced air defence system to India.

India is interested in expanding the level of trade between the two countries.

An area of special interest for India is the exploration of hydrocarbon reserves along the coast of Russia’s Far East.

Ayush prophylactic medicines

(GS-II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources)

In News:

Ayush Ministry kickstarts campaign to distribute prophylactic medicines.

Details:

The kit of Ayurveda prophylactic medicines for Covid-19 contains Sanshamani Vati, which is also known as Guduchi or Giloy Ghan Vati and Ashwagandha Ghan Vati.

The kit and the guidelines have been prepared by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Medicines (CCRAS).

Targets:

In the next one year, the immunity booster medicines and the guidelines to combat Covid-19 will be distributed to 75 lakh people across the country.

Special focus will be on geriatric (people of 60 years and above age) population and the front-line workers.

Benefits and Significance:

Distribution of Ayush prophylactic medicines will help citizens to boost immunity against the coronavirus.

What are the Prophylactic Medicines?

Prophylactic means a preventive measure.

The word comes from the Greek for “an advance guard,” an apt term for a measure taken to fend off a disease or another unwanted consequence.

A prophylactic is a medication or a treatment designed and used to prevent a disease from occurring. For example, prophylactic antibiotics may be used after a bout of rheumatic fever to prevent the subsequent development of Sydenham’s chorea.

Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Various pressure groups in Assam groups recently held a rally against the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, stating that the law was an assault on the farm economy in the name of religion.

Aim:

It is aimed at regulating slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle.

Highlights of the law:

Slaughter of cow, calf and heifer is prohibited.

Transportation of cattle from or through Assam is prohibited.

Sale of beef or beef products is prohibited in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jains, Sikhs, and other non-beef eating communities.

Sale of beef or beef products is prohibited within a 5-km radius of any temple, satra or other Hindu religious institutions.

Punishment under the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 for violation:

Those found violating the rules shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and up to eight years or a fine that may vary between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh or both. If someone convicted is found guilty of the same or a related offence the second time, the punishment will be doubled.

Need for this law:

There is a rise of illegal cattle smuggling along the India-Bangladesh border despite the deployment of adequate security forces.

According to the Union government, the Border Security Forces seized 476,035 head of cattle between 2016 and 2020 along the Indo-Bangla border.

Controversial provisions/Criticisms surrounding the law:

The law completely prohibits Cow slaughter irrespective of any provisions.

It prohibits the sale of Beef and beef products within a radius of 5 km from any temple. This seems like a complete restriction on Beef for residents residing within the 5 km radius.

It specifies who is empowered to inspect, search and detain. The power has been provided to Veterinary Officer, Police Officer (Sub Inspector or above), and any person authorized by the State Government. This also might lead to political or communal misuse.

The punishments and Fines provided are very extreme. These kinds of punishments are given to a very serious offender in the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Background:

Assam shares 263 km of border with Bangladesh, out of which 143.9 km is land and 119.1 km is riverine.

Challenges ahead:

In Assam, there are many exit points along the porous India-Bangladesh border that facilitate the illicit cattle smuggling.

The smuggling also happens through West Bengal and Meghalaya which also share a border with Bangladesh.

A couple of years ago, the BSF had identified 65 cattle corridors along the border and had recommended certain measures to stop cattle smuggling.

Local police officials in Assam often claim that the law doesn’t allow them to stop someone from transporting cattle to another state. If accosted, the smugglers can claim that these are personal cattle.

Inspiration4: SpaceX’s first all-civilian space mission

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently announced that ‘Inspiration4’, its first all-civilian, non-governmental spaceflight, is on track for launch on September 15.

Details:

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is set to be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in the US.

It will take a group of four private citizens into space for three days.

Who will travel?

All four seats on the spacecraft have been purchased by US billionaire Jared Isaacman, founder of the fintech company Shift4 Payments.

This is a part of an effort to raise millions for the Tennessee-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a paediatric treatment and research facility that focuses on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukaemia and other cancers.

What is Inspiration4?

The mission involves circling the Earth for three days, and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.

Inspiration4 will orbit the Earth at 575km, higher than the International Space Station (408km) and the Hubble space telescope (547km).

This will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts last went to repair the Hubble.

The Dragon module that the group will be using has also been modified for the mission.

Why is the journey significant?

According to the reports, the journey will present an opportunity for collecting large amounts of health data that will aid in planning future crewed space missions.

This will also help in assessing behavioural and cognitive changes over the journey.

Along with the recent space journeys by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, Inspiration4 is seen as part of an effort to open up space travel to non-professionals.