25thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 25thFebruary,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Graveyard Orbit: What Happens When Artificial Satellites Die? (TH, pg 12)
  • Crisis a chance for India to export more wheat (TH, pg 14)
  • Russian Aggression on Ukraine and International Law (TH, pg 17)
  • Indus Water Treaty (IWT)_Updated (TH, pg 17)
  • Sustainable Cities India Program (PIB)
  • Meet the Champions Initiative (PIB)
  • Ombudsperson App (PIB)
  • SPARSH Initiative (PIB)
  • Meiteis (TH, pg 11)
  1. Graveyard Orbit: What Happens When Artificial Satellites Die?

    (TH, pg 12)

  • Context:China’s latest demonstration of physically moving one of its disabled satellites into the graveyard orbit was bringing in newer threats in the race to weaponise the space domain.
Analysis
  • In the early days of space exploration, we didn’t worry so much about what would happen to the stuff we launched into orbit.
  • These days, though, there is so much junk that we are worried one tiny collision could trigger a big chain reaction. This possibility is called the “Kessler Effect.”

What happens when a trusty satellite’s time has come?

  • These days there are two choices, depending on how high the satellite is. For the closer satellites, engineers will use its last bit of fuel to slow it down. That way, it will fall out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
  • Getting rid of the smaller satellites in low orbits is simple. The heat from the friction of the air burns up the satellite as it falls toward Earth at thousands of miles per hour.
  • However, bigger things like space stations and larger spacecraft in low orbit might not entirely burn up before reaching the ground.
  • In this case, spacecraft operators can plan for the final destination of their old satellites to make sure that any debris falls into a remote area.
  • A remote region of the Pacific Ocean known as Point Nemo, which lies between New Zealand and South America, is fittingly known as the spacecraft cemetery, as the United States, Russia, Japan, and Europe have used it to dump space debris since 1971.
  • Point Nemo was chosen by these nations because it is far from human habitat and is within the South Pacific Gyre. This current prevents nutrient-rich waters from filtering through the region, limiting the life that can call it home.

Graveyard orbits

  • The second choice is to send the satellite even farther away from Earth. It can take a lot of fuel for a satellite to slow down enough to fall back into the atmosphere. That is especially true if a satellite is in a very high orbit.
  • For many of these high satellites, it takes less fuel to blast it farther into space into a “graveyard orbit” than to send it back to Earth.
  • Graveyard orbit is an orbit almost 200 miles (about 321 km) farther away from Earth than the farthest active satellites.
  • And it’s a whopping 22,400 miles above Earth! Once satellites reach this final orbit their instruments and subsystems are shut down, the remaining fuel is depleted and they are left to orbit in peace.
  1. Crisis a chance for India to export more wheat (TH, pg 14)
  • Context:The Russia-Ukraine crisis might give India an opportunity to export more wheat in the global markets.
Analysis
  • India’s central pool stood at 24.2 million tonnes, twice more than the buffer and strategic needs.
  • More than a quarter of the world’s wheat export comes from Russia and Ukraine.
  • Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, accounting for more than 18% of international exports. Egypt, Turkey and Bangladesh bought more than half of Russia’s wheat.
  • Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat, spending more than $4 billion annually. Russia and Ukraine cover more than 70% of Egypt’s imported wheat demand.
  • Turkey is also a big spender with 74% of its imports worth $1.6 billion coming from Russia and Ukraine in 2019.
  1. Russian Aggression on Ukraine and International Law (TH, pg 17)

  • Context: Recently, Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine. The Russian actions have been widely condemned and raise several questions concerning violation of international law.
Analysis

How is Russia violating the UN Charter?

  • The principle of non-intervention in domestic affairs is the foundational principle on which existing international order is based.
  • The principle is enshrined in article 2(4) of the UN Charter requiring states to refrain from using force or threat of using force against territorial integrity or political independence of any state.
  • The Russian attack on Ukraine is violative of the non-intervention principle, and amounts to aggression under international law.
  • Additionally, allowing one’s territory to be used by another state for aggression against a third state, also qualifies as an act of aggression. Accordingly, Belarus can also be held responsible for aggression as it has allowed its territory to be used by Russia for attacking Ukraine.
  • Aggression is also considered an international crime under customary international law and the Rome statute establishing the International Criminal Court.
  • Russia’s desire to keep Ukraine out of NATO is a prime reason for its use of force against Ukraine. This is violative of Ukraine’s political independence under article 2(4) as Ukraine being a sovereign state is free to decide which organisations it wants to join.
  • Also, by resorting to use of force, Russia has violated article 2(3) which requires the states to settle their dispute by peaceful means in order to preserve international peace and security.

What about the principle of self-defence?

  • The UN Charter under article 51 authorises a state to resort to individual or collective self-defence, until the Security Council take steps to ensure international peace and security.
  • In this case, it seems implausible for the UNSC to arrive at a decision as Russia is a permanent member and has veto power.
  • On the other hand, Russia has also claimed that it is acting in self-defence. This claim is questionable, as there has been no use of force, or such threats against Russia by Ukraine.
  • It has been claimed by Russia that Ukraine may acquire nuclear weapons with the help of western allies. However, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Legality of Threat of Nuclear Weapons case held that mere possession of nuclear weapons does not necessarily constitute a threat.
  • Thus, even if Ukraine has, or were to acquire nuclear weapons in the future, it does not become a ground for invoking self defence by Russia.
  • Further, mere membership in a defence alliance such as NATO cannot necessarily be considered as a threat of aggression against Russia. Thus, here too Russia cannot invoke self-defence.
  • Russia can also not invoke anticipatory self defence as such invocation according to the Caroline test would require that the necessity of self defence was instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation. However, this is not the case with Russia.

United Nations Charter

  • The Charter of the United Nations is the founding document of the United Nations.
  • It was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945.
  • The UN Charter is an instrument of international law, and UN Member States are bound by it.
  1. Indus Water Treaty (IWT)_Updated (TH, pg 17)
  • Context:In the upcoming session of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), Pakistan is likely to bring up its objections to three Indian Hydropower projects in the Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir — the 1000 Megawatt (MW) Pakal Dul project, the 48 MW Lower Kalnai project and the 624 MW Kiru project, aside from other smaller Hydropower units of India in Ladakh.
  • Among the key points on the table was evolving a procedure to solve differences on technical aspects governing the construction of the Ratle run-of-the-river (RoR) project (that will need little water storage) on the Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir.
Analysis

Indus Waters Treaty: key provisions

  • It was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 between India and Pakistan.
  • The treaty allocated the three western rivers— Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—to Pakistan for unrestricted use, barring certain non-consumptive, agricultural and domestic uses by India and the three Eastern rivers— Ravi, Beas and Sutlej — to India for unrestricted usage.
  • This means that 80% of the share of water or about 135 Million Acre Feet (MAF) went to Pakistan, leaving the rest 33 MAF or 20% of water for use by India.
  • Besides, India is also allowed a minimum storage level on the western rivers— it can store up to 3.75 MAF for conservation and flood storage purposes.
  • While Pakistan has rights over the waters of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus, the treaty allows India to build ‘run of the river’ hydropower projects, meaning projects not requiring live storage of water.
  • It also provides certain design specifications which India has to follow for such projects.
  • It also required both the countries to establish a Permanent Indus Commission constituted by permanent commissioners on both sides.
  • The functions of the commission include serving as a forum for exchange of information on the rivers, for continued cooperation and as a first stop for resolution of conflicts.
  • The IWT also provides a three step dispute resolution mechanism, under which issues can first be resolved at the commission or inter-Government level.
  • If that fails, either side can approach the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert (NE). And eventually, if either party is still not satisfied, matters can be referred to a Court of Arbitration.

What have been the past objections raised under the treaty?

  • One of the longest conflicts that arose from Pakistan’s objections to Indian projects was over the Kishanganga Hydro Electricity Project (KHEP). Kishanganga is a tributary of the Jhelum river.
  • The IWT does not have a unilateral exit provision, and is supposed to remain in force unless both the countries ratify another mutually agreed pact.
  • Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan.
  1. Sustainable Cities India Program (PIB)

  • Context:The World Economic Forum and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on a jointly designed ‘Sustainable Cities India program’ which will aim to create an enabling environment for cities to generate decarbonization solutions across the energy, transport, and the built environment sectors.
Analysis
  • This initiative is particularly noteworthy as it comes after India’s commitment to turn net zero by 2070 as a climate mitigation response at COP26.
  • The ‘Sustainable Cities India program’ intends to enable cities to decarbonize in a systematic and sustainable way that will reduce emissions and deliver resilient and equitable urban ecosystems.
  • The Forum and NIUA will adapt the Forum’s City Sprint process andToolbox of Solutions for decarbonization in the context of five to seven Indian cities across two years.
  • The City Sprint process is a series of multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder workshops involving business, government, and civil society leaders to enable decarbonization, especially through clean electrification and circularity.
  • The City Sprint process uses the Toolbox of Solutions – a digital platform containing over 200 examples of clean electrification, efficiency and smart infrastructure best practices and case studies across buildings, energy systems and mobility from over 110 cities around the world.
  • As per the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, densely populated countries that are highly dependent on agriculture, such as India, are especially vulnerable to climate insecurity.
  • Decarbonization in cities is a real opportunity to keep global warming well below 2°C and cities in India can make an enormous contribution in reaching this goal.

About Net Zero Carbon Cities

  • The World Economic Forum’s Net Zero Carbon Cities’ mission is to create an enabling environment for clean electrification and circularity, resulting in urban decarbonization and resilience.
  • The program aims to do this by fostering public-private collaboration to bridge the gap across the energy, built environment and transport sectors.
  1. Meet the Champions Initiative (PIB)

  • Meet the Champions’ initiative is a unique school visit campaign that, is jointly being organized by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  • During their visit, the Olympians share their own experiences, life lessons, tips on how to eat right and also give an overall inspirational boost to school children.
  1. Ombudsperson App (PIB)

  • Ministry of Rural Development has developed an Ombudsperson App for smooth reporting and categorization of grievances by Ombudsperson based on complaints he received from various sources viz. physical, digital and mass media, related to the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi NREG Scheme in the States/UTs.
  • At present, the reporting of complaints, passing awards and disposal of complaints are in physical form.
  1. SPARSH Initiative (PIB)

  • Defence Accounts Department (DAD) of Ministry of Defence has signed an MoU with CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, to onboard pension services under the System for Pension Administration (Raksha) {SPARSH} initiative across more than four lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs) all over the country.
  • SPARSH is an initiative of Ministry of Defence which aims at providing a comprehensive solution to the administration of pension to the defence pensioners in line with the Government’s vision of ‘Digital India’, ‘Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)’ and ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.
  1. Meiteis (TH, pg 11)

  • A demand for granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Meiteis has found no takers among the political parties in poll-bound Manipur.
  • The Meiteis are the dominant community in 40 of the 60 Assembly constituencies straddling the Imphal and Jiribam Valleys.

A majority follow Hinduism, while a little more than 8% are Muslims, known as Pangals here

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