Daily Current Affairs : 1st and 2nd September 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Cold War and Disintegration of USSR – Mikhail Gorbachev article
  2. Single Use plastic
  3. HPV
  4. SEAC
  5. Crime Multi Agency Centre
  6. Facts for Prelims – Reports Published by IMF and Loans given by IMF, Vostok 2022

1 . Cold War and Disintegration of USSR


Context: Russian President will miss the funeral of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, denying the man who failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet empire the full state honors. Gorbachev is idolized in the West for allowing eastern Europe to escape Soviet communist control but unloved in Russia for the chaos that his “perestroika” reforms unleashed. Gorbachev will be given a military guard of honor — but his funeral will not be a state one.

About Cold war

  • Cold War was an open yet restricted rivalry that developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies.
  • The Cold War was waged on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and had only limited recourse to weapons.
  • The term was first used by the English writer George Orwell in an article published in 1945 to refer to what he predicted would be a nuclear stalemate between “two or three monstrous super-states, each possessed of a weapon by which millions of people can be wiped out in a few seconds.”
  • It was first used in the United States by the American financier and presidential adviser Bernard Baruch in a speech at the State House in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1947.

Origins of the Cold War

  • Following the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945 near the close of World War II, the uneasy wartime alliance between the United States and Great Britain on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other began to unravel.
  • By 1948 the Soviets had installed left-wing governments in the countries of eastern Europe that had been liberated by the Red Army. The Americans and the British feared the permanent Soviet domination of eastern Europe and the threat of Soviet-influenced communist parties coming to power in the democracies of western Europe.
  • The Soviets, on the other hand, were determined to maintain control of eastern Europe to safeguard against any possible renewed threat from Germany, and they were adamant on spreading communism worldwide, largely for ideological reasons.
  • The Cold War solidified by 1947–48, when U.S. aid provided under the Marshall Plan to western Europe had brought those countries under American influence and the Soviets had installed openly communist regimes in eastern Europe.

 The struggle between superpowers

  • The Cold War reached its peak in 1948–53.
    • In this period the Soviets unsuccessfully blockaded the Western-held sectors of West Berlin (1948–49); the United States and its European allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a unified military command to resist the Soviet presence in Europe (1949); the Soviets exploded their first atomic warhead (1949), thus ending the American monopoly on the atomic bomb; the Chinese communists came to power in mainland China (1949); and the Soviet-supported communist government of North Korea invaded U.S.-supported South Korea in 1950, setting off an indecisive Korean War that lasted until 1953.
  • From 1953 to 1957 Cold War tensions relaxed somewhat, largely owing to the death of the longtime Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953; nevertheless, the standoff remained.
    • A unified military organization among the Soviet-bloc countries, the Warsaw Pact, was formed in 1955; and West Germany was admitted into NATO that same year.
  • Another intense stage of the Cold War was in 1958–62.
    • The United States and the Soviet Union began developing intercontinental ballistic missiles, and in 1962 the Soviets began secretly installing missiles in Cuba that could be used to launch nuclear attacks on U.S. cities.
      • This sparked the Cuban missile crisis (1962), a confrontation that brought the two superpowers to the brink of war before an agreement was reached to withdraw the missiles.
    • The Cuban missile crisis showed that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union were ready to use nuclear weapons for fear of the other’s retaliation (and thus of mutual atomic annihilation).
  • The two superpowers soon signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963, which banned above-ground nuclear weapons testing. But the crisis also hardened the Soviets’ determination never again to be humiliated by their military inferiority, and they began a buildup of both conventional and strategic forces that the United States was forced to match for the next 25 years.
  • Throughout the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union avoided direct military confrontation in Europe and engaged in actual combat operations only to keep allies from defecting to the other side or to overthrow them after they had done so.
    • Thus, the Soviet Union sent troops to preserve communist rule in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan (1979).
    • For its part, the United States helped overthrow a left-wing government in Guatemala (1954), supported an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba (1961), invaded the Dominican Republic (1965) and Grenada (1983), and undertook a long (1964–75) and unsuccessful effort to prevent communist North Vietnam from bringing South Vietnam under its rule (see Vietnam War).

Toward a new world order

  • In the course of the 1960s and ’70s, however, the bipolar struggle between the Soviet and American blocs gave way to a more-complicated pattern of international relationships in which the world was no longer split into two clearly opposed blocs.
    • A major split had occurred between the Soviet Union and China in 1960 and widened over the years, shattering the unity of the communist bloc.
    • In the meantime, western Europe and Japan achieved dynamic economic growth in the 1950s and ’60s, reducing their relative inferiority to the United States. Less-powerful countries had more room to assert their independence and often showed themselves resistant to superpower coercion or cajoling.
    • The 1970s saw an easing of Cold War tensions as evinced in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) that led to the SALT I and II agreements of 1972 and 1979, respectively, in which the two superpowers set limits on their antiballistic missiles and on their strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
    • That was followed by a period of renewed Cold War tensions in the early 1980s as the two superpowers continued their massive arms buildup and competed for influence in the Third World.
    • But the Cold War began to break down in the late 1980s during the administration of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
      • He dismantled the totalitarian aspects of the Soviet system and began efforts to democratize the Soviet political system. When communist regimes in the Soviet-bloc countries of eastern Europe collapsed in 1989–90, Gorbachev acquiesced in their fall.
      • The rise to power of democratic governments in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia was quickly followed by the unification of West and East Germany under NATO auspices, again with Soviet approval.
      • Gorbachev’s internal reforms had meanwhile weakened his own Communist Party and allowed power to shift to Russia and the other constituent republics of the Soviet Union.
      • In late 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed, and 15 newly independent nations were born from its corpse, including a Russia with a democratically elected, anticommunist leader.
      • The Cold War had come to an end.
Gorbachev internal reforms : He proposed dual reform programs of perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“openness”). The Soviet Union was a military and industrial power for much of its history, but in its waning decades it was faltering under the strain of its outmoded economic system and industrial infrastructure. To compete against the West, the Soviet economy and society would need drastic restructuring. Gorbachev, however, could not afford to continue down the path to reform without assurances about national security.


2 . Single Use Plastic


Context: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 in August ,2021. In keeping with the spirit of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the country is taking steps to curb litter and unmanaged plastic waste pollution. Since July 1, 2022, India has banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of single-use plastic (SUP) items with low utility and high littering potential. India is a party to the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). In all, 124 nations are party to the UNEA, and India has signed a resolution to draw up an agreement in the future that will make it legally binding for signatories to address the full life cycle of plastics, from production to disposal.

 Why are single-use plastics harmful?

  • The purpose of single-use plastics is to use them once or for a short period of time before disposing of them. Plastic waste has drastic impacts on the environment and human health.
  • There is a greater likelihood of single-use plastic products ending up in the sea than reusable ones.
  •  India has taken resolute steps to mitigate pollution caused by littered single-use plastics.
  • A number of items are banned, including earbuds with plastic sticks, balloon sticks, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decorations, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers, etc.

 What is the impact on the environment?

  •  Littered single-use plastic items have an adverse effect on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • All countries face a major environmental challenge due to pollution caused by single-use plastic items.
  • India piloted a resolution on single-use plastics pollution at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019, recognizing the urgent need for the global community to address this issue.
  • This resolution was adopted at the UN Environment Assembly as an important step forward. In the recently concluded 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, India engaged constructively with all member states to develop a consensus on a resolution to drive global action against plastic pollution.
  •  However, India is not the first country to ban single-use plastics. Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002; New Zealand banned plastic bags in July 2019. China had issued a ban on plastic bags in 2020 with a phased implementation.
  •  As of July 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.

 What are the plastic waste management rules in India?

  •  With effect from September 30, 2021, the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibited the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 75 microns. From December 31, 2022, plastic carry bags whose thickness is less than 120 microns will be banned.
  • It means that the ban does not cover all plastic bags; however, it requires the manufacturers to produce plastic bags thicker than 75 microns which was earlier 50 microns. As per the notification, the standard shall be increased to 120 microns in December this year.
  •  The notification clearly mentioned that plastic or PVC banners/ hoardings should have more than 100 microns in thickness, and non-woven plastic (polypropylene) must be more than 60 GSM (grams per square metre).
  • Non-woven plastic bags have a cloth-like texture but are counted among plastics. Still, plastic or PET bottles, counted among the most recyclable types of plastic, have been left out of the scope of the ban.
  •  In addition, the Indian government has taken steps to promote innovation and create an ecosystem for accelerated adoption and availability of alternatives across the country.
    • To ensure the effective enforcement of the ban, national and State-level control rooms will be established, as well as special enforcement teams for the purpose of checking the illegal sale and use of single-use plastics.
    • To prevent the movement of banned single-use plastic items between States and Union Territories, border checkpoints have been established.
  •  To empower citizens to help curb the plastic menace, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has launched a grievance redressal application.
  •  The Government has been taking measures for awareness generation towards the elimination of single-use plastics The awareness campaign has brought together entrepreneurs and start-ups, industry, Central, State and local Governments, regulatory bodies, experts, citizen organisations, R&D and academic institutions.

Role of the manufacturer

  •  In addition, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022 on February 16, 2022.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the responsibility of a producer for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
  • The guidelines provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote the development of new alternatives to plastic packaging and provide the next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses.

 What are the challenges?

  • The ban will succeed only if all stakeholders participate enthusiastically and engage in effective engagement and concerted actions.
  • However, if we look back at our past, almost 25 Indian States previously banned plastic at the state level. However, these bans had a very limited impact in reality because of the widespread use of these items.
  •  Now the challenge is to see how the local level authorities will enforce the ban in accordance with the guidelines.
  • Banned items such as earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, etc., are non-branded items and it is difficult to find out who the manufacturer is and who is accountable for selling because these items will be available in the market even after the issuing of guidelines.

 What’s happening on the research and development front?

  •  The consumer needs to be informed about the ban through advertisements, newspaper or TV commercials, or on social media.
  • In order to find sustainable alternatives, companies need to invest in research and development.
  • The solution to the plastic pollution problem is not the responsibility of the government alone, but of industries, brands, manufacturers and most importantly consumers. Finding alternatives to plastic seems a little difficult, however, greener alternatives to plastic may be considered a sustainable option. For example, compostable and bio-degradable plastic, etc., may be considered as an option.
  •  While the total ban on the use of plastic sounds like a great idea, its feasibility seems difficult at this time, especially in the absence of workable alternatives.


3 . Human papillomavirus


Context: India’s first indigenously developed vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, CERVAVAC, will likely cost ₹200-400 a shot and be commercially available later this year according to the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII).

About HPV (human papillomavirus)

  • HPV is a group of more than 200 related viruses, some of which are spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sexually transmitted HPV types fall into two groups, low risk and high risk.
  • Low-risk HPVs mostly cause no disease. However, a few low-risk HPV types can cause warts on or around the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat.
  • High-risk HPVs can cause several types of cancer. There are about 14 high-risk HPV types including HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68. Two of these, HPV16 and HPV18, are responsible for most HPV-related cancers.
  • HPV infection is common: Nearly all sexually active people are infected with HPV within months to a few years of becoming sexually active. Around half of these infections are with a high-risk HPV type.
  •  HPV can infect both males and females. Both men and women can become infected with HPV and develop HPV-caused cancers.
  • Most HPV infections don’t cause cancer: Immune system usually controls HPV infections, so they don’t cause cancer.
  • High-risk HPV infections that persist can cause cancer: Sometimes HPV infections are not successfully controlled by your immune system. When a high-risk HPV infection persists for many years, it can lead to cell changes that, if untreated, may get worse over time and become cancer.
  • HPV vaccination can prevent cancer: HPV vaccines can prevent infection with disease-causing HPV types, preventing many HPV-related cancers and cases of genital warts.

 What Cancers Are Caused by HPV Infection?

  • Long-lasting infections with high-risk HPVs can cause cancer in parts of the body where HPV infects cells, such as in the cervix, oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth, behind the oral cavity that also includes the back third of the tongue, the soft palate, the side and back walls of the throat, and the tonsils), anus, penis, vagina, and vulva.
  • HPV infects the squamous cells that line the inner surfaces of these organs. For this reason, most HPV-related cancers are a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Some cervical cancers come from HPV infection of gland cells in the cervix and are called adenocarcinomas.
  •  HPV-related cancers include:
    • Cervical cancer: Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Routine screening can prevent most cervical cancers by allowing health care providers to find and remove precancerous cells before they develop into cancer.
    • Oropharyngeal cancers: Most of these cancers, which develop in the throat (usually the tonsils or the back of the tongue), are caused by HPV (70% of those in the United States). The number of new cases is increasing each year, and oropharyngeal cancers are now the most common HPV-related cancer in the United States.
    • Anal cancer: Over 90% of anal cancers are caused by HPV. The number of new cases and deaths from anal cancer is increasing each year. Anal cancer is nearly twice as common in women as in men.
    • Penile cancer: Most penile cancers (over 60%) are caused by HPV.
    • Vaginal cancer: Most vaginal cancers (75%) are caused by HPV.
    • Vulvar cancer: Most vulvar cancers (70%) are caused by HPV. 
  • Worldwide, the burden of HPV-related cancers is much greater. High-risk HPVs cause about 5% of all cancers worldwide, with an estimated 570,000 women and 60,000 men getting an HPV-related cancer each year.
  • Cervical cancer is among the most common cancers and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in low- and middle-income countries, where screening tests and treatment of early cervical cell changes are not readily available.
    • In India, it is the second most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age.
    • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year.

 How is HPV Transmitted?

  • HPV passes easily between sexual partners.
  • It can be transmitted through any intimate skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal–penile sex, penile–anal sex, penile–oral sex, vaginal–oral sex, and use of sex toys or other objects. 

Does HPV Infection Cause Symptoms?

  • Infection with high-risk HPV does not usually cause symptoms.
  • The precancerous cell changes caused by a persistent HPV infection at the cervix rarely cause symptoms, which is why regular cervical cancer screening is important.
  • Precancerous lesions at other sites in the body may cause symptoms like itching or bleeding.
  • And if an HPV infection develops into cancer, the cancer may cause symptoms like bleeding, pain, or swollen glands.

Cervavac

  • It was developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in coordination with the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • The project to develop the vaccine was implemented by the then secretary of the DBT in 2011.
  • Since then, 30 meetings of scientific advisory groups and site visits conducted by DBT have helped review the scientific merit of the entire journey to develop the vaccine.
  •  Cervavac received market authorisation approval from the Drug Controller General of India on July 12 this year.
  • HPV vaccines are given in two doses and data has shown that the antibodies that develop after both are administered can last up to six or seven years.


4 . State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC)


Context: The government’s Executive Enclave project, which includes construction of a new Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), received environmental clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Delhi (SEIAA-Delhi). In a letter to the Central Public Works Department, the SEIAA said it had approved the recommendation of the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC), which had recommended grant of environmental clearance to the project.

About State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC)

  • Expert appraisal committees (EAC) exist at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC) to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects.
  • It is mandatory for prior Environmental Clearance for certain new projects, expansion or modernization of existing projects based on their potential environmental impact.
  •  Projects falling under Category ‘A’, requires Environmental Clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC), GoI and for matters falling under Category ‘B’, depending upon the thresholds of the activities require Clearance at State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
  • The Notification provides for constitution of a SEIAA empowered to grant Environmental Clearance to mitigate pollution and protect environment.
  • To assist SEIAA, a State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) is constituted.
  • The Expert Appraisal Committee scrutinizes the projects and forwards its recommendations to the SEIAA for taking a decision on granting Environmental Clearance.


5 . Crime Muti Agency Centre


Context: At least seven States and one Union Territory have given the cold shoulder to the Centre’s online platform meant to share information and coordinate action among law enforcement agencies on serious criminal incidents, including human trafficking

About The Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC)

  • It was launched in 2020 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to share information on crime and criminals 24×7 with various law enforcement agencies and ensure a seamless flow of information among them.
  • The application is run by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
  • It aims to help in early detection and prevention of crime incidents across the country.
  • West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim and Union Territory of Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have not uploaded a single alert on Cri-MAC since the portal was launched in March 2020.
  • Delhi, Assam and Haryana uploaded the maximum number of alerts on the portal, which included information on the release of a hardened criminal from jail or an incident of terror, murder, dacoity among others.
  • As on July 1, the number of alerts uploaded on the portal stood at 35,145 though there are 16,361 police stations in the country.
  • Significance: Cri-MAC facilitates dissemination of information about significant crimes, including human trafficking across the country on real-time basis and enables inter-State coordination.
    • This can help in locating and identifying the trafficked victims as also in prevention, detection and investigation of crime.

Human trafficking

  • Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
  • This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal.
  • Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. It is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim’s rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation.
  • Human trafficking is the trade in people, especially women and children, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.
  • MHA said the “Government of India recognizes that human trafficking is a grave crime” and attaches high importance to the efforts directed at preventing and countering it.
  •  It said human trafficking was a highly organized crime often involving inter-State gangs.
  •  The MHA cautioned that human trafficking cases are not registered under Sections 370/370A of the IPC by some authorities and requested to make optimal use of the penal Sections.
  •  It urged States to sensitize and train police personnel to keep a close watch on suspicious activities and persons.


6 . Facts for Prelims


Reports Published by IMF and Loans given by IMF

Context: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reached a staff-level agreement with crisis-hit Sri Lanka, in a first step before extending a $2.9-billion loan package that the Fund has made contingent on assurances from the island nation’s creditors.

IMF Lending

  • IMF lending aims to give countries breathing room to implement adjustment policies in an orderly manner, which will restore conditions for a stable economy and sustainable growth.
  • These policies will vary depending upon the country’s circumstances.
    • For instance, a country facing a sudden drop in the prices of key exports may need financial assistance while implementing measures to strengthen the economy and widen its export base etc.
  • The IMF’s various lending instruments are tailored to different types of balance of payments need as well as the specific circumstances of its diverse membership.
  • General Resources Account (GRA): All IMF members are eligible to access the Fund’s resources in the General Resources Account (GRA) on non-concessional terms.
  • Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust: IMF provides concessional financial support (currently at zero interest rates through June 2021) through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which is better tailored to the diversity and needs of low-income countries.
  • Stand-By Arrangements (SBAs): Historically, for emerging and advanced market economies in crises, the bulk of IMF assistance has been provided through Stand-By Arrangements (SBAs) to address short-term or potential balance of payments problems.
  • Standby Credit Facility (SCF): It serves a similar purpose for low-income countries.
  • Extended Fund Facility (EFF): It is for low-income countries and is the Fund’s main tool for medium-term support to countries facing protracted balance of payments problems.
    • Their use has increased substantially since the global financial crisis, reflecting the structural nature of some members’ balance of payments problems.
  •  Flexible Credit Line (FCL) or the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL): To help prevent or mitigate crises and boost market confidence during periods of heightened risks, members with already strong policies can use the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) or the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL).
  • Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) and the corresponding Rapid Credit Facility (RCF): It is for low-income countries provide rapid assistance to countries with urgent balance of payments need, including from commodity price shocks, natural disasters, and domestic fragilities.
  • Reflecting different country circumstances, GRA-supported programs are expected to resolve the member’s BoP problems during the program period, while PRGT programs envisage a longer duration for addressing BoP problems.

Reports by IMF

  • As part of its World Economic and Financial Surveys, the IMF publishes flagship reports on multilateral surveillance twice a year: World Economic Outlook (WEO), Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), and Fiscal Monitor (FM).
  • The WEO provides detailed analysis of the state of the world economy, addressing issues of pressing interest such as the protracted global financial turmoil and ongoing economic recovery from the global financial crisis.
  • The GFSR provides an up-to-date assessment of global financial markets and prospects and highlights imbalances and vulnerabilities that could pose risks to financial market stability.
  • The FM updates medium-term fiscal projections and assesses developments in public finances. The IMF also publishes Regional Economic Outlook (REO) reports as part of its World Economic and Financial Surveys.

Vostok 2022

Context: An Indian Army contingent comprising troops from 7/8 Gorkha Rifles is participating in the multilateral strategic and command exercise ‘Vostok-2022’ which commenced on Friday at the training grounds of the eastern military district in Russia. The exercise also includes participation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

About Vostok-2022

  • The exercise is aimed at interaction and coordination amongst other participating military contingents and observers,” the Army said in a statement.
  • The exercise is scheduled to be held from Sept. 01 to 07. The seven day drills have land, air and sea components.
  •  The Indian Army contingent, over the next seven days, will undertake joint maneuvers to include field training exercises, combat discussions, and firepower exercises, it said.
  • Vostok-2022 will be conducted in two phases.
  • Participating contingents include observers from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and other partner states including Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan.
  • India defended its participation in the exercises in response to U.S. criticism.
    • US had expressed its concerns over India participating in the exercises with Russia
  • Japan objected to Russia holding the maritime component of Vostok 2022 close to Northern Territories — Southern Kuril Island which is claimed by both.

Naval ensign

  • The Indian Navy’s new ensign was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi on Friday, on the sidelines of the commissioning of INS Vikrant, the country’s first Indigenously Aircraft Carrier (IAC-1).
  • In a bid to do away with the “colonial past”, the Saint George’s Cross has been removed from the Indian Navy’s new flag. Instead, it now features the national emblem with the Tricolour on the upper canton (top left corner of flag). The national emblem is encompassed by an octagonal shield and sits atop an anchor. Beneath it is the Navy’s motto ‘Sam No Varunah’.
  • The golden border surrounding the national emblem draws inspiration from the seal of Indian emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and depicts steadfastness. The octagonal shape of the national emblem has been designed to represent eight directions, symbolising the multi-directional reach and multi-dimensional operational capability of the Indian Navy.
  • The new ensign is a successor to the pre-Independence ensign of the Indian Navy, featuring the Saint George’s Cross on a white background with the Tricolour in the canton. The previous ensign carried the Saint George’s Cross and was a successor to the pre-Independence ensign which had the red Cross on a white background with the Union Jack of the United Kingdom on the top left corner.

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