- India – ASEAN Relationship
- PM-PVTG Development Mission
- NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)
- General Relativity Theory and Raychaudhary Equation
- Facts for Prelims
1 . India – ASEAN Relationship
Context: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will pay an official visit to Jakarta to attend the 10th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) and will address the forum on regional and international security issues.
About the news:
- Indonesia is hosting the meeting as the chair of ADMM-Plus. The meeting comes at a time of escalated fighting in Myanmar, with Myanmar refugees coming into Mizoram in India.
- On the sidelines of the ADMM-Plus, the defence minister will hold bilateral meetings with the Defence Ministers of the participating countries and discuss defence cooperation matters to further strengthen mutually beneficial engagements.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that aims to promote economic and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- The group has played a central role in Asian economic integration, joining negotiations to form the world’s largest free trade agreement and signing six free trade deals with other regional economies.
- ASEAN was preceded by an organisation formed on 31 July 1961 called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), a group consisting of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya.
- ASEAN itself was created on 8 August 1967, when the foreign ministers of five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the Bangkok Declaration.
- ASEAN’s primary objectives are: to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region; and to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charte
- The ADMM is the highest defence consultative and cooperative mechanism in ASEAN.
- The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight Dialogue Partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States (collectively referred to as the “Plus Countries”), to strengthen security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.
- The Inaugural ADMM-Plus was convened in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.
- Since 2017, the ADMM-Plus meets annually, to allow enhanced dialogue and cooperation among ASEAN and the Plus Countries in the midst of an increasingly challenging regional security environment.
Background of India – ASEAN Relationship
India-ASEAN – areas of cooperation
- Trade and Economic Cooperation: Economically, India-ASEAN trade and investment relations have grown significantly, with ASEAN ranking as India’s fourth-largest trading partner. Investment flows between the regions have also been substantial, signifying a robust economic partnership. Notably, the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area has been fully implemented, bolstering economic ties.
- Security and Counterterrorism: Cooperation in counterterrorism, maritime security, and defense engagement is crucial for regional stability. India participates in ASEAN-led forums like the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) to address security concerns.
- Cultural and Educational Exchanges: Promoting people-to-people ties through cultural exchanges, scholarships, and educational programs fosters a deeper understanding between India and ASEAN member states.
- Connectivity and Infrastructure Development: India is involved in several infrastructure projects in ASEAN, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which aim to enhance connectivity in the region.
- Science and Technology Collaboration: Collaboration in science and technology, including space research and disaster management, strengthens the technological capabilities of both India and ASEAN countries.
- Climate Change and Environmental Cooperation: Addressing climate change and environmental challenges is a shared priority. Both sides work together on initiatives related to renewable energy, sustainable development, and biodiversity conservation.
- Crisis Response and Humanitarian Assistance: Cooperation in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance helps in responding effectively to natural disasters and emergencies in the region.
- Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals: Collaboration in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a focal point of cooperation.
- Regional Forums and Diplomacy: India actively participates in ASEAN-led regional forums and diplomacy to address regional and global issues, contributing to peace and stability in the region.
- Funds – Several funds, including the ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund, ASEAN-India S&T Development Fund, and ASEAN-India Green Fund, facilitate projects in areas such as agriculture, science and technology, environment, and climate change. These initiatives further cement the India-ASEAN partnership.
- Geopolitical Competition: The region is marked by complex geopolitics, including competition between major powers like China and the United States. India and ASEAN nations must navigate these dynamics carefully.
- Economic Disparities: Economic disparities exist among ASEAN member states, which can pose challenges to economic integration and cooperation with India. Bridging these gaps is crucial for balanced development.
- Infrastructure Development: Despite infrastructure projects, there are still connectivity gaps in the region, hindering trade and people-to-people exchanges. Further investment and development are needed.
- Maritime Disputes: Some ASEAN nations have territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which can create tensions. India supports freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of these disputes but must tread carefully to avoid escalation.
- Bureaucratic Hurdles: Bureaucratic red tape and administrative complexities can slow down cooperation efforts, making it necessary to streamline processes for smoother collaboration.
- Security Challenges: Transnational threats like terrorism, piracy, and cyberattacks require constant vigilance and coordinated efforts between India and ASEAN nations.
- Divergent Interests: While both India and ASEAN seek economic growth and stability, their specific interests and priorities may not always align. Balancing these differences can be a challenge.
- Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: The diversity within ASEAN in terms of cultures, languages, and historical backgrounds can sometimes pose challenges in building common understanding and cooperation.
- Environmental Concerns: Climate change and environmental degradation are growing concerns. Both sides need to work together to address these issues effectively.
- Political Stability: Political instability in some ASEAN nations can affect the overall regional stability and cooperation efforts.
- Competing Regional Blocs: The presence of multiple regional blocs and organizations in Asia, such as ASEAN, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), and others, can lead to overlapping interests and competition for influence.
- Rivalries Within ASEAN: Differences in foreign policy approaches and priorities among ASEAN member states can at times hinder a unified response to regional challenges.
India-ASEAN relationship- Significance
- Economic Collaboration: The relationship fosters economic cooperation, trade, and investment between India and ASEAN member states. Enhanced economic ties contribute to the growth and development of both regions.
- Strategic Partnership: India and ASEAN share common strategic interests, particularly in areas of maritime security, counter-terrorism, and regional stability. Strengthening ties serves mutual security concerns and contributes to peace in the region.
- Cultural and People-to-People Ties: The partnership facilitates cultural exchanges and people-to-people connections. It helps in promoting understanding, tolerance, and appreciation of the diverse cultures within the region.
- Connectivity and Infrastructure Development: Collaboration in infrastructure projects and connectivity initiatives, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, aims to enhance physical linkages and promote regional integration.
- ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA): The AIFTA promotes tariff reduction and elimination, facilitating smoother trade flows. It encourages a more integrated and inclusive economic environment for businesses in both India and ASEAN.
- ASEAN-India Plan of Action: The Plan of Action outlines cooperative efforts in various sectors, including trade and investment, science and technology, and cultural exchanges. It provides a structured framework for sustained collaboration.
- Act East Policy: India’s Act East Policy emphasizes increased engagement with ASEAN nations. This policy aims to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties, and strategic partnerships for shared prosperity and security.
2 . PM-PVTG Development Mission
Context: Recently, the Prime Minister launched the ₹24,000-crore PM-PVTG Development Mission and a Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra focused on government scheme saturation to the last mile in tribal districts.
About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
- In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (UT), in the country (2011 census).
- Currently there are 75 tribal groups have been categorized by the Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s.
- PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
- For the identification of PVTGs the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
- Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha
How they are identified
- The criteria for identifying Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are: –
- Pre-agricultural level of technology
- Low level of literacy
- Economic backwardness
- A declining or stagnant population
- According to the procedure, the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
- In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
- In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc
- They are largely dependent upon hunting for food and a pre-agriculture level of technology.
- They collect Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) like honey, gum, bamboo and wax for consumption as well as sale.
- Due to their diet, these tribes often suffer diseases like anaemia, malaria, gastrointestinal disorders and skin infections.
Population of PVTGs
- Currently, there are 2.8 million PVTGs belonging to 75 tribes across 22,544 villages in 220 districts across 18 states and Union Territories in India.
- According to the 2011 Census, Odisha has the largest population of PVTGs at 866,000. It is followed by Madhya Pradesh at 609,000 and Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) at 539,000.
- The largest PVTG is Odisha’s Saura community, numbering 535,000
Schemes for PVTGs
- Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): this scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs exclusively for PVTG. Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry. Activities for development of PVTGs are undertaken in Sectors of Education, Health, Livelihood and Skill Development , Agricultural Development , Housing & Habitat, Conservation of Culture etc.
What is the PM PVTG Development Mission?
- The Rs 24,000-crore project is aimed at the development of the PVTGs.
- As part of the mission, basic facilities such as road and telecom connectivity, electricity, safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition and sustainable livelihood opportunities will be provided to areas where these tribal groups live as these are mostly remote, scattered and inaccessible.
- Under the scheme, several ministries will work in tandem to implement development projects. The schemes include Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana, and Jal Jeevan Mission, among others.
3 . NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)
Context: The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) is set to be launched in the first quarter of 2024 after a few tests, particularly those related to vibration, NASA officials have said.
- NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with the goal to make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
- NISAR will be the first radar of its kind in space to systematically map Earth, using two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) to measure changes in our planet’s surface, including movements as small as centimeters. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) refers to a technique for producing fine-resolution images from a resolution-limited radar system.
- NASA is providing the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder and payload data subsystem. ISRO is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
- NISAR will map the entire globe in 12 days and provide spatially and temporally consistent data for understanding changes in Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, ground water and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.
- It carries L and S dual band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which operates with Sweep SAR technique to achieve large swath with high resolution data.
- The SAR payloads mounted on Integrated Radar Instrument Structure (IRIS) and the spacecraft bus are together called an observatory.
- Jet Propulsion Laboratories and ISRO are realizing the observatory which shall not only meet the respective national needs but also feed the science community with data encouraging studies related to surface deformation measurements through repeat-pass InSAR technique.
- NASA is responsible for providing the L-Band SAR payload system in which the ISRO supplied S-Band SAR payload and both these SAR systems will make use of a large size (about 12m diameter) common unfurl able reflector antenna.
- The NISAR Observatory will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre(SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on the southeast coast of the Indian peninsula, on the GSLV expendable launch vehicle contributed by ISRO.
Significance of the mission
- NISAR, focused on Earth Science, will furnish extensive data on alterations to the Earth’s surface, natural calamities, and disruptions to ecosystems, contributing to the advancement of our comprehension of Earth system dynamics and climate change.
- In disaster management, it will offer crucial insights for handling events like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, facilitating quicker responses and enhanced risk evaluations.
- With a focus on climate change, NISAR is poised to monitor and elucidate the repercussions of climate variations on the Earth’s land surface, encompassing phenomena like glacier melting, rising sea levels, and shifts in carbon storage.
- The mission’s data will be instrumental in refining agricultural practices and ensuring food security by delivering insights into crop development, soil moisture, and alterations in land use.
What are the applications of NISAR?
- NISAR will provide a wealth of data and information about the Earth’s surface changes, natural hazards, and ecosystem disturbances, helping to advance our understanding of Earth system processes and climate change.
- The mission will provide critical information to help manage natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, enabling faster response times and better risk assessments.
- NISAR data will be used to improve agriculture management and food security by providing information about crop growth, soil moisture, and land-use changes.
- The mission will provide data for infrastructure monitoring and management, such as monitoring of oil spills, urbanization, and deforestation.
- NISAR will help to monitor and understand the impacts of climate change on the Earth’s land surface, including melting glaciers, sea-level rise, and changes in carbon storage.
- The NISAR satellite, expected to cost approximately $900 million (with ISRO contributing about one-tenth) will use two frequency bands: the L-band and S-band to image the seismically active Himalayan region that will, every 12 days, create a “deformation map”
- These two frequency bands will together provide high-resolution, all-weather data from the satellite that is expected to follow a sun-synchronous orbit and will be launched in January 2024.
3 . General Relativity Theory and Raychaudhary Equation
Context: 2023 is Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri’s birth centenary. He defied pressure from Meghnad Saha to pursue his passion for general relativity. His 1955 paper on the Raychaudhuri equation revolutionised the field of relativity and was key to the work of Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking.
- Raychaudhuri was born in Barisal (now in Bangladesh) in 1923 and educated in Kolkata. After completing his MSc in physics from Science College, he joined the Indian Association of Cultivation of Science (IACS) to pursue experimental physics research. While the work didn’t suit him and he eventually dropped out, he discovered in the IACS library his deep interest in general relativity.
About General Theory of Relativity
- The General Theory of Relativity, proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915, describes gravity as the curvature of spacetime caused by mass and energy.
- It has been confirmed through various experiments and is a fundamental framework for understanding gravitational phenomena on large scales, such as the motion of planets and the bending of light around massive objects.
- General relativity is a physical theory about space and time and it has a beautiful mathematical description. According to general relativity, the spacetime is a 4-dimensional object that has to obey an equation, called the Einstein equation, which explains how the matter curves the spacetime.
- In general relativity, the Raychaudhuri equation is a fundamental result describing the motion of nearby bits of matter.
- Raychaudhuri studied the motion of bits of matter navigating the fabric of spacetime. Each bit followed the straightest path in space-time. He found that the bits of matter were bound to converge to a single point as long as they had positive energy.
- The equation is important as a fundamental lemma for the Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems and for the study of exact solutions in general relativity, but has independent interest, since it offers a simple and general validation of our intuitive expectation that gravitation should be a universal attractive force between any two bits of mass–energy in general relativity, as it is in Newton’s theory of gravitation.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, climatology, hydrology and geophysics.
- It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- It originated from the International Meteorological Organization, a nongovernmental organization founded in 1873 as a forum for exchanging weather data and research.
- Proposals to reform the status and structure of the IMO culminated in the World Meteorological Convention of 1947, which formally established the World Meteorological Organization.
- The WMO is made up of 193 countries and territories, and facilitates the “free and unrestricted” exchange of data, information, and research between the respective meteorological and hydrological institutions of its members.
- It is governed by the World Meteorological Congress, composed of member states, which meets every four years to set policies and priorities.
Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar’ (RVP):
- The Government of India has come out with a new set of National Awards in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation known as “Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar’’.
- The objective of the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar (RVP) is to recognize the notable and inspiring contribution made by the scientists, technologists, and innovators individually or in teams in various fields of science, technology and technology led innovation.
- Scientists/ technologists/innovators working in government, private sector organizations or any individual working outside any organization, who have made distinguished contributions in terms of path-breaking research or innovation or discovery in any field of science, technology, or technology- led innovation shall be eligible for the awards.
- People of Indian Origin staying abroad with exceptional contributions benefiting the Indian communities or society shall also be eligible for the awards.
- The awards shall be given in following four categories:-
- Vigyan Ratna (VR) award will recognize lifetime achievements & contributions made in any field of science and technology.
- Vigyan Shri (VS) award will recognize distinguished contributions in any field of science and technology.
- Vigyan Yuva-Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (VY-SSB) award will recognize & encourage young scientists up to the age of 45 years who made an exceptional contribution in any field of science and technology.
- Vigyan Team (VT) award to be given to a team comprising of three or more scientists/researchers/innovators who have made an exceptional contribution working in a team in any field of science and technology.
- All nominations received for the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar awards shall be placed before the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar Committee (RVPC) to be headed by the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to Government of India and comprising Secretaries of Science Departments, members of Science and Engineering Academies and some distinguished scientists and technologists from different fields of science and technology.