Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 23 March 2023

MEA invokes Vienna Convention

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

After a group of people chanting pro-Khalistan slogans took down the Indian flag at the High Commission in London. On the London incident, a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said, “An explanation was demanded for the complete absence of the British security that allowed these elements to enter the High Commission premises. She (Dy High Commissioner Scott) was reminded in this regard of the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention.”

What is the Vienna Convention?

  1. The term “Vienna Convention” can refer to any of a number of treaties signed in Vienna, most of which are related to the harmonisation or formalisation of the procedures of international diplomacy.

  2. The treaty being referred to by the MEA in this instance is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) which “provides a complete framework for the establishment, maintenance and termination of diplomatic relations on a basis of consent between independent sovereign States”, as per an introductory note on the treaty in UN’s Audiovisual Library of International Law.

  3. Most notably, the Convention codifies the longstanding custom of diplomatic immunity, in which diplomatic missions are granted privileges that enable diplomats to perform their functions without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.

  4. It affirms the concept of “inviolability” of a diplomatic mission, which has been one of the enduring cornerstones of international diplomacy.

  5. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations entered into force on 24 April 1964 and is nearly universally ratified, with Palau and South Sudan being the exceptions.

What does the Vienna Convention say about obligations of a “receiving State”?

  1. As per the Vienna Convention, a “receiving State” refers to the state in which the host nation, where a diplomatic mission is located.

  2. In this case, the host nation is the UK and as per the Vienna Convention, it has some basic obligations towards the diplomatic missions it hosts in its sovereign territory. Article 22 of the Convention deals with obligations with regards to the premises of the Mission.

  3. Part 2 of this article states that “The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity”.

  4. Basically, the security of any High Commission or Embassy is the responsibility of the host nation.

  5. While diplomatic missions can also employ their own security, the ultimately, host nation is accountable to provide security.

U.N. World Water Development Report 2023

GS Paper -2 (International Organization)

new report launched on the eve of the first major U.N. conference on water in over 45 years says, 26% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water and 46% lack access to basic sanitation.

More about the news:

v  The U.N. World Water Development Report 2023 painted a stark picture of the huge gap that needs to be filled to meet U.N. goals to ensure all people have access to clean water and sanitation by 2030.

Findings of the report:

v  The report said that the estimated cost of meeting the goals is somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion a year.

v  According to the report, water use has been increasing globally by roughly 1% per year over the last 40 years and is expected to grow at a similar rate through to 2050. It is driven by a combination of population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns.

v  The agriculture uses 70% of all water globally; irrigation for crops has to be more efficient, such as the use of drip irrigation, which saves water.

v  Due to climate change, the report said, seasonal water scarcity will increase in regions where it is currently abundant, such as Central Africa, East Asia and parts of South America.

v  The report issued by UNESCO said, on average, “10% of the global population lives in countries with high or critical water stress” and up to 3.5 billion people live under conditions of water stress at least one month a year.

v  It further said, since 2000, floods in the tropics have quadrupled while floods in the north mid-latitudes have increased 2.5-fold.

v  Trends in droughts are more difficult to establish, but increase in intensity or frequency of droughts and 'heat extremes’ can be expected in most regions as a direct result of climate change.

v  As for water pollution, the biggest source of pollution is untreated wastewater.

v  Globally, 80% of wastewater is released to the environment without any treatment and in many developing countries it’s around 99%.

Flashback:

Measures taken in India:

Water conservation initiatives are taken up by the Central Government:

Ø  Under various schemes and programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS),  Atal Bhujal Yojana,  Pradhan Mantri Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT.

Ø  In order to boost water conservation and rain water harvesting in the country, Ministry of Jal Shakti has taken up a nationwide campaign “Jal Shakti Abhiyan - Catch the Rain” with the theme Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls  for creating appropriate rainwater harvesting structures  in urban and rural areas of all the districts in the country.

Ø  Traditional methods of water conservation and rain water harvesting in the country varies from area to area depending upon the topography, climatic conditions, soil structure, etc.

Anti-submarine craft INS Androth launched

GS Paper - 3 (Security)

The INS Androth, second in a series of eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC), was launched in Kolkata. Built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata, INS Androth is about 77.6 metres long and 10.5 metres wide, and requires a draught of only 2.7 metres. Propelled by three diesel-driven water jets, these ships can attain a maximum speed of 25 knots. Their primary role is to conduct anti-submarine operations in coastal waters, low intensity maritime operations and mine laying operations.

Warship Capability

  1. These ships are also capable of full-scale sub surface surveillance of coastal waters and various surface platforms and coordinated ASW operations with aircraft. 

  2. These ships may be smaller in size but will pack a lethal punch. 

  3. These ships also carry lightweight torpedoes, ASW rockets and mines, a close-in weapon system (with a 30 mm gun) and 16.7 mm stabilised remote-controlled guns.

  4. The Androth and its fellow craft will be fitted with hull mounted sonar and a low frequency variable depth sonar.

Facing future challenges

  1. The construction of specialized ships such as these for Anti-Submarine Warfare is indeed in sync with the provisioning of a combat-ready credible cohesive and future-proof force, which is ready to face the existing and future challenges in the maritime domain”.

  2. The ship to be launched today has made quick progress during construction notwithstanding the vicissitudes of shipbuilding as we all know.

  3. The Chairman and Managing Director of GRSE, highlighted the long and fruitful relations that the shipyard has had with the Indian Navy over 63 years of coexistence, during which 70 warships were delivered to the Indian Navy, with 15 more under various stages of construction.

  4. “The sheer numbers reflected the strength of this partnership, with platforms ranging from boats to fast attack crafts, to survey vessels, to landing crafts to corvettes, to frigates, and now anti-submarine shallow water crafts, and advanced frigates,”.

  5. The first ship of the series, the INS Arnala, was launched three months ago.

Nomenclature of Ship

  1. INS Androth draws its name from the largest and longest island from Andrott Island, also known as Androth Island, in the Lakshadweep archipelago.

Air Information sharing agreement: Indo-US

GS Paper -2 (International Organization)

After signing all the four foundational agreements to take forward strategic partnership, India and the U.S. are now working to finalise an “air information sharing agreement”, said Frank Kendall, Secretary, U.S. Air Force.

More about the news:

v  The two sides are trusted partners; both are sharing more intelligence which will form the basis for “additional agreements”.

v  The areas of cooperation include surveillance, joint development of jet engines and space capabilities as areas where the two sides could build together.

v  The U.S. has moved forward more than it did in the past in terms of technology sharing with India.

v  India is a major defence partner and the US share security concerns. In addition, the U.S. is considering an application from engine manufacturer General Electric to jointly produce the GE-414 jet engines in India to power the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk2 and the fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

v  US shares interest in the Indo-Pacific region and the globe as well; there is scope for more co-production and co-development.

v  The two countries also continue exploring opportunities under Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) for co-development of high-tech weapon systems as well as the much broader Initiative on Critical & Emerging Technologies (iCET).

v  India has now signed all four foundational agreements with the U.S.; the logistics agreement in 2016, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018 and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) in 2020.

v  While the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed a long time ago, an extension to it, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed in 2019.

SC ask the govt. to clear OROP arrears

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Supreme Court asked the government to clear One Rank One Pension (OROP) dues of 10-11 lakh pensioners by February end of next year in three equal instalmentsRefusing to take the sealed cover from the defence ministry on the OROP arrears case, the apex court also set deadlines of 30 April 2023 for the defence ministry to clear pending arrears to six lakh family pensioners and gallantry award winners and dues to retired servicemen aged 70 and above in one or more instalments by 30 June 2023. The dues for the remaining pensioners will have to be cleared by 28 February 2024.

What is OROP?

  1. The government implemented the OROP for Armed Forces personnel and family pensioners in 2015.

  2. In a letter issued in 2015, it said pensions would be revised with effect from 1 July 2014, and said the pension would be reset every five years.

  3. In keeping with that, the union cabinet in December last year had approved revision of pension of Armed Forces pensioners and family pensioners under OROP with effect from 1 July 2019.

  4. This meant that the pension of the past pensioners would be reset based on the average of minimum and maximum pensions of the defence forces retirees of the calendar year 2018 in the same rank with the same length of service.

  5. All Armed Forces Personnel who retired till 30 June 2019, were to be covered under this revision, which will include more than 25.13 lakh (including over 4.52 lakh new beneficiaries) Armed Forces pensioners/family pensioners.

  6. The benefit would also be extended to family pensioners, including war widows and disabled pensioners.

  7. At that time, the government had said that arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalmentsexcept for family pensioners — including those in receipt of special/liberalised family pension and Gallantry Award Winners — who will be paid arrears in one instalment.

  8. The arrears are the amount calculated between July 2019 and December 2022, when the revised OROP was not under implementation but was supposed to be.

  9. Accordingly, an amount of Rs 28,138 crore was included in the defence pensions budget for 2023-24 to meet this requirement.

Why is there an issue with OROP arrears?

  1. After the government’s December 2022 decision — further reiterated by a government order issued in January this year — a group of ex-servicemen moved the apex court seeking that the arrears be paid in a single instalment instead of four instalments.

  2. The January order stated that the OROP arrears would be paid in four half-yearly instalments.

  3. The ex-servicemen in its plea said the Centre, by issuing this order, subverted the apex court’s March 2022 order, in which it had said that arrears payable to all eligible pensioners of the armed forces shall be computed and paid over accordingly within a period of three months.

  4. Subsequently, the Supreme Court earlier this month asked the defence ministry to withdraw the order. It had said the communication was “directly contrary” to its verdict of last year that had asked for the clearing of all arrears within three months.

  5. The Supreme Court’s 19 March 2023 directives to the government on new deadlines come against this backdrop.

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