DOKLAM ISSUE: Let’s both pull back, says Sushma

Image: Doklam Issue: Lets both pull back, says Sushma
Image Source: newindianexpress.com

Offering solution to the ongoing standoff with China, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha that both Indian and Chinese soldiers should withdraw from the Doklam region in the tri-junction with Bhutan.

To know in detail about the ongoing stand-off, click here

The Minister said Panchsheel, the Nehruvian principle of peaceful mutual co-existence, is on track but any unilateral altering of the border by China will amount to a “direct threat” to India’s security concerns. The comment on Panchsheel is significant as the English media from Beijing in recent weeks had described the Indian action in Doklam, as against Panchsheel’s emphasis on ‘peaceful co-existence.”

The Minister also highlighted India’s position on the issue saying that if there is to be any sit-down talks, both the sides’ army should withdraw from the region.

She also indicated that dialogue with other countries had been held on this issue and India received support for its position

About DOKLAM stand-off:

To read in detail about Doklam stand-off, read this: Doklam stand-off b/w India and China

Image: Detailed explanation of India-China standoff
Image Source: IndiaToday
  • The Doklam confrontation is focused on a small patch of remote pastureland in Bhutan. Its location, however, is perceived to be of great strategic importance for both India and China. The plateau holds strategic importance for both India and China. It became a bone of contention b/w India and China after 1962 border war, prior to which no one showed interest in the plateau.
  • China claims Doklam plateau, which is currently disputed b/w Beijing and Thimpu, to gain a strategic edge over India. The road China claims to be building in its “own territory” in Doklam Plateau would give it a strategic advantage against India in a possible military conflict in future. Doklam is critical as it brings China even closer to the Indian border in a vulnerable location towards the direction of the 27-km-long Siliguri Corridor or “chicken’s neck” that links the northeastern state to the rest of India.
  • For India, Doklam Plateau holds immense importance as Chinese control over Doklam plateau will undo the terrain and tactical advantage that India has in the region. Chinese foray into the Doklam plateau will also impact India economically as the Chumbi Valley, which is close to the plateau, has served as a trade route from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok through Yadong and Gyantse on to Dalai Lama’s court at Lhasa.

References: The Hindu Newspaper

INDIA SIGNS SEVEN AGREEMENTS WITH ISRAEL DURING PM NARENDRA MODI’S VISIT

Image: India signs seven agreements with Israel during PM Modi's Israel visit
Image Source: LiveMint

During the maiden visit of any Indian PM to Israel, India signed seven agreements with Israel, including three on space co-operation, two in the water sectors, one in the agriculture sector, and an MoU was also signed to set up an India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (i4F).

India signs seven agreements with Israel during PM Modi's Israel visit
Img Source: EconomicTimes

Let’s have a look at the agreements in a bit detail:

Agreements in the water sector:

India signed two MoUs in the water sector to increase cooperation on water conservation and state water utility reform in India.

One was signed b/w Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India.

The second one was signed b/w Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources on State Water Utility Reform in India.

Agreements on space co-operation:

Three MoUs were signed b/w India and Israel on space co-operation. It included co-operation in electric propulsion for small satellites, cooperation on atomic clocks, as well as cooperation for the development of GEO-LEO optical link.

These MoUs were signed b/w India’s space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its Israeli counterpart Israel Space Agency (ISA)

Agreement in the agriculture sector:

In the agriculture sector, the two countries have agreed upon India-Israel Development Cooperation – a three-year work programme in agriculture from 2018-20.

Agreement to setup a tech fund (i4F):

India and Israel launched a five-year technology fund – India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (i4D) – aimed at growing the countries’ business relationship, the way a similar fund has boosted the Jewish state’s ties with the US for the past 40 years.

 

Apart from concluding these seven agreements, India and Israel on Wednesday announced that the two countries will safeguard each other’s strategic interests and cooperate to combat growing radicalisation and terrorism.

 

References:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-israel-sign-seven-agreements-to-cooperate-in-fight-against-terror/articleshow/59457610.cms

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2017/jul/05/israel-india-sign-seven-agreements-across-sectors-call-for-action-against-terrorism-1624613–1.html

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/VfBkBe1kLYqzkRyJeCPFiM/Modi-in-Israel-Day-2-highlights-Focus-shifts-to-ModiNetany.html

Violence continues to roil Darjeeling

Image: Violence continues to roil Darjeeling
Image Source: IndiaToday

Stepping up the movement for separate Gorkhaland State, at least three personalities from the Darjeeling hills on Thursday returned awards conferred on them by the West Bengal government at a public gathering.

Writer and translator Krishna Singh Moktan, musician Karma Younzon and Kurseong College Principal Prakash Pradhan returned their awards at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya, being observed as Gorkha Ekta Dibas. This returning of the award by the above mentioned personalities was in response to the July 8 call by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

Meanwhile, incidents of arson were reported from different places in the hills as the indefinite shutdown entered its 29th day on Thursday including a forest office and residence of foreign guards were set on fire in the Teesta area in the hills.

What is the demand of the Darjeeling Hill people?

Also read: Demand for Gorkhaland-A separate state for Gorkhas: Detailed Timeline

Gorkhas are demanding separate state, viz. Gorkhaland for their community. This demand is not a new one but is being asked by the Gorkhas since the British time period.

This demand from Gorkhas was dormant for some time but a recent announcement of the Bengal government making Bengali compulsory in the Hills from Class I to X acted like a fuel in the fire and provoked Gorkhas. Gorkhas saw this announcement as an imposition on their community and started demanding for separate states.

 

Reference(s):

The Hindu [the pdf of this newspaper is uploaded for free on UPSC Aspirants Forum (Facebook group) everyday]

The HINDU Editorial: Is CBI the handmaiden of the government?

The debate whether CBI is a tool used by government of the day against their opposition has once again come to the fore.. Let’s dissect an editorial from The Hindu dated 14th of July,2017 to get some opinions on the same.

CBI handmaiden government
Image Source:MapsofIndia

This is an explanation of an editorial from The Hindu newspaper. I have just tried to elaborate the points mentioned in the editorial and explain it in the simplest possible way. I hope you’ll like it.

In this article, three sets of opinions are presented and all are explained below:

Opinion 1: Yes, CBI is the handmaiden of the government.

The opinion is put forward by Prashant Bhusan. He is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court.

According to Prashant Bhusan, the CBI acts largely at the behest of the government of the day which becomes evident from the activity and inactivity of the institution, viz. CBI. If we observe some of the recent cases of activity like in case of Arvind Kejriwal, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Praful Patel (former Minister of Civil Aviation and Heavy Industries), or Mamata Banerjee (Bengal CM) we’ll find that the institution acts at the behest of the government who seeks to pressurise its opponents.

He isn’t of the opinion that they are not corrupt and are being harassed without any cause, rather he wants to point out the timing at which the CBI acts. When the Congress government was in power, it didn’t place CBI against his minister (Praful Patel) despite various mentions of corruption during his tenure. Even after the incumbent government came to power, it wasn’t initiated but now all of a sudden it has been?

Similarly, when Mamata Banerjee started raising her voice again PM Modi’s demonetisation move, the CBI started acting against her MLA in the Sharda Chit Fund scam.

The only point that he wants to highlight is why not then? Why now?

Even the SC in 2013 called the institution a “caged parrot”.

We can go as far as the Bofors case to understand how the CBI has been used by successive governments to work for them.

He opines that as long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigative agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely.

Also, there are instances of corrupt officers in the CBI who become pliable in the hands of the government. Who can forget the tenure of Ranjit Sinha? He misused his position as chief of the CBI to scuttle enquiries, investigations and prosecutions in the coal block allocation cases.

Prashant Bhushan is of the opinion that yes CBI acts at the behest of government of the day and therefore needs to be placed under an independent body.

Opinion 2: It wouldn’t be fair to damn an organisation for its poor recent performance and ignore its long-term record

This opinion is put forward by Navneet Rajan Wasan. He retired as Director-General of Bureau of Police Research and Development and has earlier served in the CBI and the NIA.

He lauds the long-term record of the CBI and claims that the institution has made its mark as an independent, objective and fair investigative agency over the years. He adds, the institution has won the confidence of the judiciary, public and media, resulting in a frequent demand that it investigate sensitive and complex cases, especially of corruption among the upper echelons of public service.

Though he acknowledges that the CBI’s image has suffered a setback in the last few years, he opines that it wouldn’t be fair to damn an organisation for its poor recent performance and ignore its long-term record.

Succinctly, he believes that the CBI overall has acted as an independent institution and that’s the reason why in every sensitive case, a CBI enquiry is demanded. The image, though has suffered a setback in the last few years, it can’t be made the premise to question CBI’s credibility as a whole.

Opinion 3: The fault is not so much of the organisation as of the people who shape its structure and define its powers.

The opinion is forward by Prakash Singh. He is a former Director-General of the Border Security Force.

He highlights that the CBI has been criticised several times (like in 2009 Justice Verma in an article stated that “it is sad that even now the CBI continues to disappoint whenever it deals with cases against the powerful”) and calls them valid but raises a legitimate question that can we hold CBI responsible for that?

He answers that despite successive committees at different periods of time suggested changes in the composition and structure of the CBI, it is the government who needs to be blamed for not reforming CBI accordingly. It would be unfair to blame the organisation when it is not given the required legal mandate, when it is not provided with the requisite manpower and financial resources.

Some of the committees that recommended changes in the composition and structure of the CBI are:

L.P. Singh Committee in 1978 recommended the “enactment of a comprehensive central legislation to remove the deficiency of not having a central investigative agency with a self-sufficient statutory charter of duties and functions

19th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (2007) recommended that a separate act should be promulgated for the CBI “in tune with the requirements of the time to ensure credibility and impartiality.”

24th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (2008) was of the unanimous opinion that “the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.”

Succinctly, Prakash Singh is of the opinion that as the political class shapes CBI’s structure and define its power, it is the political class who should be blamed and not the CBI.

 

References:

The Hindu Newspaper (Visit UPSC Aspirants Forum on FB to download it for free)

What is crypto-currency and how does it works?

 

Image: Cryptocurrency
Image Source: CalvinAyre.com

What is cryptography?

A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of currency.

It allows transacting parties to remain anonymous while confirming that the transaction is a valid one.

It is not owned or controlled by any institution – governments or private.

Bitcoin became the first decentralised cryptocurrency in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have been created like Ethereum, Ripple, etc.

How does cryptocurrency works?

Image Explaning of how Bitcoin works

Here I’ll explain, by using Bitcoin as an example, how cryptocurrency works but before that let’s understand some of the basic concepts:

Public Ledgers: Ledger, in laymen terms, is a book or other collection of financial accounts. Similarly, in cryptocurrency world, a public ledger is a space where all confirmed transactions from the start of a cryptocurrencies creation are stored. The identities of the coin owners are encrypted, and the system uses other cryptographic techniques to ensure the legitimacy of record keeping. The ledger ensures that corresponding “digital wallets” can calculate an accurate spendable balance. Bitcoin call this public ledger a “transaction block chain

Transaction: Transaction in cryptocurrencies means same as in conventional fiat money; transfer of funds b/w two digital wallets. That transaction gets submitted to a public ledger and awaits confirmation. When a transaction is made, wallets use an encrypted electronic signature (an encrypted piece of data called a cryptographic signature) to provide a mathematical proof that the transaction is coming from the owner of the wallet. The confirmation takes a bit of time (ten minutes for bitcoin) while “miners” mine (i.e. confirm transactions and add them to the public ledger)

Mining: In simple terms, mining is the process of confirming transactions and adding them to a public ledger. In order to add a transaction to the ledger, the “miner” must solve an increasingly complex computational problem. Mining is an open-source so anyone can confirm the transaction. The first miner to solve the puzzle adds a “block” of transaction to the ledger. The way in which transactions, blocks, and the public blockchain ledger work together ensures that no one individual can easily add or change a block at will. Once a block is added to the ledger, all correlating transactions are permanent and a small transaction fee is added to the miner’s wallet (along with newly created coins). The mining process is what gives value to the coins and is known as a proof-of-work system.

Address: A Bitcoin address, or simply address, is an identifier of 26-35 alphanumeric characters that represents a possible destination for a bitcoin payment. Like e-mail addresses, you can send bitcoins to a person by sending bitcoins to one of their addresses. However, unlike e-mail addresses, people may have different Bitcoin addresses and a unique address should be used for each transaction. Most Bitcoin software and websites will help with this by generating a brand new address each time you create an invoice or payment request.

Wallet: A Bitcoin wallet is a collection of private keys but may also refer to client software like Bitcoin Core used to manage those keys and to make transactions on the Bitcoin network.

Now let’s trying to consider a fictitious example. Suppose you are an aspirant of civil services examination. You follow GKVarsity ardently and it’s helping a lot in your preparation. One fine morning, you thought of donating some money to GKVarsity (don’t worry this is just an example) for their social service which they are doing by helping aspirants in their preparation. Among the payment options, paying through bitcoin is also available. You choose to pay through Bitcoin mode. When you’ll do the same an address (defined above) will be created automatically or GKVarsity can make one offline using some tools and send you the address. This address is where you have to send the money.

How will you send it?

You must be using some client software like Bitcoin Core or some e-wallet to send the amount to the address created by GKVarsity. Remember, your wallet contains several private keys for each of your address. When you’ll request your client software to send GKVarsity the donation amount, your client software will use one of your private key to transfer fund from.

After this is done, miners (term defined above) will use the public key to verify that the transaction is coming from the legitimate account owner. Miner has to solve a complex computation problem to verify a transaction after which he/she adds a block of transaction to the ledger (explained above what is ledger? What is miner? Read them properly)

Once a miner confirms the legitimacy of the sender by solve the complex problem, the transaction gets successfully done.

I hope it’s clear. If there is any question or doubt, do comment in comment section below and I promise that I’ll revert back with the solution as soon as possible.

 

References:

https://visual.ly/community/infographic/technology/bitcoin-infographic

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cryptocurrency.asp

An article from The Hindu newspaper titled “Bitcoin trade may come under SEBI”

http://cryptocurrencyfacts.com/how-does-cryptocurrency-work-2/

Takeaways from Modi’s U.S. visit

During the three-day visit of PM Narendra Modi to the U.S., several crucial developments took place. Here are the important highlights:

  1. Use of strong words for Pakistan

                                Pic Credit: India TV News

The joint statement went beyond the US’ usual lines and entailed strong wordings against Pakistan. Both the leaders pulled Pakistan for making its territory safe haven for the radical terrorist outfits and asked it to ensure that its territory is not used for the same.

They further asked Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.

  1. Meeting of minds on dealing with terrorism

                                              Pic credit: The Quint

Stressing that terrorism is a global scourge, both the leaders gave out a call to root out the safe havens from every part of the world. Also, both the leaders re-affirmed their commitments to strengthen their cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaeda, ISIS, JeM, and others.

India appreciated the US’ move to designate Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist

  1. Sale of 22 Guardian unmanned aerial systems

Pic Credit: FirstPost

The US has cleared the sale of 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India, with the deal being termed as “game changer”. These drones will help the Indian Navy in keeping watch over the Indian Ocean. The deal would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the NATO alliance.

  1. Positive response of top CEOs about India

Pic Credit: TOI

After PM Narendra Modi met top American CEOs of global giants, including Apple chief Tim Cook, Google head Sundar Pichai and told them about the opportunities both the countries have and role that the companies need to play in reaping them, they (CEOs) seem to be upbeat about continued future investment in India.

  1. Maritime Security and Data Sharing

Pic Credit: DefenseWorld.net

The two leaders also announced their intention to build on the implementation of the “White Shipping” data sharing arrangement. White Shipping data sharing arrangement refers to exchange of relevant advance information on the identity and movement of cargo ships.

They also determined to expand their engagements on shared maritime objectives and explore new exercises, while noting the importance of upcoming Malabar naval exercise. Malabar exercise is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners, and Singapore and Australia as non-permanent partners.

  1. Shifting focus from the Indo-Pacific

While vowing to strengthen their relationship in the Indo-Pacific region, the language seems to be bit softer. This time the wording is more in line with Trump’s take on China.

  1. U.S. LNG for India

It is expected that from next year liquefied petroleum gas (LNG) from the U.S. will start flowing to India. Natural gas being the cleanest fossil fuels among available fuels, LNG import is much-needed to meet the increasing energy demand in India.

  1. Climate change not the agenda

Climate change, which was a major component of Mr. Modi’s engagement with Mr. Obama, has not been part of the agenda during this bilateral meet. US President Donald Trump has been quite vocal in opposing Paris climate treaty and termed it as a hoax perpetrated by China during his election campaign.

  1. Ivanka Trump in India                                                   Pic Credit: The Quint

The President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will lead the U.S. delegation to Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). GES is key foreign policy initiative of former President Barack Obama to bring together global entrepreneurs and innovators, and India will be hosting its next edition.

  1. North Korea comes up

The two leaders also condemned the North Korea’s “continued provocations”. The leaders pledged to work together to counter North Korea’s weapons of mass destructions programs, including by holding accountable all parties that support these programs.

 

References:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/top-10-takeaways-from-modis-us-visit/article19154197.ece