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GS II – IR- Maritime Security

Why in news : INS Sumitra foils hijack attempt in Gulf of Aden

INS Sumitra, the final vessel in the Saryu-class patrol series, is crafted by Goa Shipyard Limited for the Indian Navy. It serves as both a patrol vessel and the presidential yacht of India. Its versatile design enables fleet support, coastal and offshore patrols, ocean surveillance, monitoring of sea routes and offshore installations, as well as escort missions.

What is Maritime Piracy

Maritime piracy refers to acts of violence, detention, or plundering carried out for personal gain on the high seas or outside the jurisdiction of any state. Defined by Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), piracy involves seizing ships, their cargo, or kidnapping passengers or crew members. It is considered a severe maritime offense and is governed by international laws and conventions.

The strongest zones of piracy

The strongest zones of pirate activity include regions such as Northwest Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, the Red Sea, Somalia, the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. These areas often experience heightened levels of piracy due to various factors such as geopolitical instability, economic disparities, and insufficient maritime law enforcement.

Gulf of Aden

gulf of aden

The Gulf of Aden, located between Yemen on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in Africa, is an arm of the Indian Ocean. It is bordered to the south by Somalia and the Socotra Islands, to the north by Yemen, to the east by the Arabian Sea, and to the west by Djibouti. This approximately 900 kilometers long and 500 kilometers wide gulf serves as a crucial water passage for transporting oil from the Persian Gulf. It acts as a vital link between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea through the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, facilitating oil transportation between Europe and the Far East.

The Gulf of Aden is abundant in marine life, featuring diverse species in significant quantities. Although its coastline lacks large-scale fishing infrastructure, it sustains numerous fishing communities and hosts major ports like Aden and Djibouti.

In recent times, the Gulf of Aden has drawn significant attention due to issues such as piracy, terrorism, and the smuggling of refugees.

Global Initiatives Related to Maritime Piracy:

  1. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

It establishes the legal framework for combating piracy, as outlined in. The UN Security Council and General Assembly have consistently emphasized the importance of international cooperation in addressing piracy and armed robbery at sea, stressing the applicability of UNCLOS in combating maritime threats.

  • Operation Prosperity Guardian:

The United States has initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian, a multinational security initiative to ensure security in the Red Sea.

  • Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the safety of Maritime Navigation (1988):

It is a multilateral treaty. The main purpose of the treaty is to ensure that appropriate action is taken against people who commit unlawful acts against ships.

It was adopted in 1988 at the Suppression of Unlawful Acts(SUA) Convention in Rome.

  • Combined Maritime Forces (CMF):

The CMF is a multinational naval partnership with primary focus areas aimed at defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, fostering regional cooperation, and promoting a secure maritime environment.

CMF has 39 member nations including India.

GS II –  Polity and Legislature

Why in news : Elections to 56 RajyaSabha seats on Feb 27

About Rajya Sabha:

Origin: India follows the British parliamentary system, so the Rajya Sabha, or the Upper House of Parliament, is equivalent to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.

Present strength:  The Rajya Sabha currently has 245 members, including 233 elected members and 12 nominated. As per the constitutional limit, the Upper House strength cannot exceed 250.

Membership: While 233 members are elected from states and Union Territories (UTs), the President of India nominates the remaining 12 from the fields of art, literature, science and social services.

Tenure: Every Rajya Sabha MP has a tenure of six years, and elections to one-third of seats are held every two years.

Vacancy: According to Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a member chosen to fill a casual vacancy will serve for the remainder of his predecessor’s term of office.

Chair: The Indian vice-president is the chairperson of the Upper House, which also has a deputy chair.

Election Process to Rajya Sabha:

While Lok Sabha members are elected directly by the voters, Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the people, that is, by the elected Members of a state’s Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

How many Rajya Sabha members a state can send depends on its population.

MLAs vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system. Each MLA’s vote is counted only once.

In this system, MLAs don’t vote for each seat.

Instead, the MLAs are given a paper with the names of all candidates. They have to give their order of preference for each candidate, marking 1,2,3… against their names.

The ballot is open, but MLAs have to show their ballots to an authorised agent from their party to prevent practices such as cross-voting. A vote cannot be counted if the ballot is not shown to the agent. Independent MLAs cannot show their ballot to anyone.

If a qualifying number of voters choose a candidate as their first choice, he or she is elected.

The remaining votes go to the next candidates but with a lesser value. So, MLAs also vote for candidates from other parties.

The candidate that gets rank 1 from an MLA secures a first preference vote. In order to win, a candidate needs a specific number of such first-preference votes. This number depends on the strength of the state Assembly and the number of MPs it sends to Rajya Sabha.

To win, a candidate should get a required number of votes which is known as a quota or preference vote. The formula is = [Total number of votes/(Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1)] + 1.

However, the formula is changed in case more than one seat needs to be filled. The total number of votes required for a candidate in the case is = [(Number of votes x 100) / (Vacancies + 1)] + 1.

GS II – Government policies and Interventions

Why in News : Committee examining bill on marriage age gets extension

India and Minimum Marriageable Age

The Current Laws: For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.

In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.

The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

India’s Efforts for Reducing Gender Gap: India had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1993.

Article 16 of this Convention strictly forbids child marriage and asks governments to identify and enforce the minimum marriage age for women.

Since 1998, India has had national legislation exclusively on human rights protections drafted in consonance with international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

Reasons behind the Minimum Age: The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.

Child marriages expose women to early pregnancy, malnutrition, and violence (mental, emotional, and physical).

Early pregnancy is associated with increased child mortality rates and affects the health of the mother.

GS II International Relations- Neighbourhood

Why in News : Foreign Secretary is on trip to Bhutan

Bhutan is nestled between India and China and is a landlocked country. Mountains and valleys dominate the landscape of Bhutan.Thimphu is the Capital City of Butan.Bhutan became a democracy in 2008 after the first democratic elections were held in the country. The King of Bhutan is the Head of State.

It is named ‘Kingdom of Bhutan’. The Bhutanese name is Druk GyalKhap, which means the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’.

Significance of Bhutan for India

Strategic Importance:

Bhutan shares its borders with India and China, and its strategic location makes it an important buffer state for India’s security interests.

India has provided Bhutan with assistance in areas such as defense, infrastructure, and communication, which has helped to maintain Bhutan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India has helped Bhutan build and maintain its border infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to strengthen its defense capabilities and ensure its territorial integrity.

In 2017, during the Doklam standoff between India and China, Bhutan played a crucial role in allowing Indian troops to enter its territory to resist Chinese incursions.

Economic Importance:

India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner, and Bhutan’s major export destination.

Bhutan’s hydropower potential is a significant source of revenue for the country, and India has been instrumental in assisting Bhutan in developing its hydropower projects.

India also provides Bhutan with financial assistance for its development projects.

Cultural Importance:

Bhutan and India share strong cultural ties, as both countries are predominantly Buddhist.

India has provided assistance to Bhutan in preserving its cultural heritage, and many Bhutanese students come to India for higher education.

Environmental Importance:

Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that has pledged to remain carbon-neutral, and India has been a key partner in helping Bhutan achieve this goal.

India has provided assistance to Bhutan in areas such as Renewable energy, forest conservation, and sustainable tourism.

What are the Challenges in the India-Bhutan Relations?

China’s Growing Influence:

China’s increasing presence in Bhutan, particularly along the disputed border between Bhutan and China, has raised concerns in India. India has been Bhutan’s closest ally and has played a key role in protecting Bhutan’s sovereignty and security.

However, China’s growing economic and military influence in the region poses a challenge to India’s strategic interests in Bhutan.

Border Disputes:

India and Bhutan share a 699 km long border, which has been largely peaceful.

However, there have been some incidents of border incursions by Chinese forces in recent years.

The Doklam standoff in 2017 was a major flashpoint in the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction. Any escalation of such disputes could strain India-Bhutan relations.

Hydropower Projects:

Bhutan’s hydropower sector is a key pillar of its economy, and India has been a major partner in its development.

However, there have been concerns in Bhutan over the terms of some of the hydropower projects, which have been seen as too favorable to India.

This has led to some public opposition in Bhutan to Indian involvement in the sector.

Trade Issues:

India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner, accounting for over 80% of Bhutan’s total imports and exports. However, there have been some concerns in Bhutan over the trade imbalance, with Bhutan importing more from India than it exports.

Bhutan has been seeking greater access to the Indian market for its products, which could help to reduce the Trade Deficit.

GS I – Art and Culture, GS III Internal Security

“Beating Retreat” is a centuries-old military tradition, which dates back from the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. The drumbeats recall the days when troops, billeted in towns and cities, were recalled to their quarters at an appointed time in the evening. It marks the culmination of the Republic Day Celebrations.

About CRPF

CRPF is one of the oldest Central para military forces (now termed as Central Armed Police Force) and it comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

CRPF came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police on 27th July 1939.

It became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act in December 1949.

It is All India in character, both in deployment and in its composition.

CRPF has, over the years, acquired the distinction of being perhaps the most acceptable Force, by the people and the State administrations.

This is due to its unique capability to quickly adapt to various situations, and also, to work in perfect harmony with the State Police.

Duties of CRPF

  • Crowd & Riot control
  • Counter Militancy / Insurgency operations/Dealing with Left Wing Extremism
  • Overall co-ordination of large-scale security arrangement especially with regard to elections in disturbed areas.
  • Protection of VIPs and vital installations.
  • Checking environmental de-gradation and protection of local Flora and Fauna
  • Fighting aggression during War time
  • Participating in UN Peace Keeping Mission
  • Rescue and Relief operations at the time of Natural Calamities.

GS II – Government policies and Interventions

Why news : Majority of air travellers who flew out of Delhi using Digi Yatra, did so unknowingly or were compelled to use it.

Digi Yathra: Digi Yatra is conceived to achieve contactless, seamless processing of passengers at airports based on Facial Recognition Technology (FRT).

  • To use this facility, one-time registration on Digi Yatra app is required using Aadhar based validation and a self-image capture.
  • The project has tremendous advantages of improving passenger convenience and ease of travel.
  • With Digi Yatra, India will now stand in the ranks of world class airports like Heathrow in London and Atlanta in United States of America.
  • Privacy features of the project:
    • There is no central storage of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
    • Passenger’s ID and travel credentials are stored in a secure wallet in the passenger’s smartphone itself.
    • The uploaded data will utilise blockchain technology and all the data will be purged from the servers within 24 hours of use.
  • It saves passenger time.
  • The service is presently being launched for domestic flights passengers only.
  • It is voluntary is nature.

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