Daily Current Affairs : 20th October 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Mission Def Space
  2. 1267 Committee
  3. Swadesh Darshan 2
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Mission Def Space

Context: Earlier this week, Indian Prime Minister launched Mission Defense Space (DefSpace) at the annual Defense Expo held in Gujarat.

Mission DefSpace

  • The mission was launched in order “to develop innovative solutions for the Defense Forces in the Space domain through industry & startups.” 
  • Mission Defspace will encourage innovation and strengthen the forces but also provide new and innovative solutions.
  • DefSpace missions goal is to provide the private sector an opportunity to operate in India’s defense space sector.
  • Under the new DefSpace mission, the government is looking for innovative solutions to 75 challenges that are being put out in the open. The programme will focus on various challenges in this area that have been reviewed and identified by the three defence services.

Importance of outer space in case of security

  • Land, water and sky are already witness to the valor of our military, but now countries are expanding defense capabilities by reaching the depths of the ocean in the form of Under Water Domain Awareness and heights of space as Aero-Space force.
  • Defense space challenges are primarily aimed at making a range of defense applications to enhance the capability of the three Services.

Space diplomacy

  • There are more than 60 developing countries with whom India is sharing its space science. Many African countries and many other small countries are benefiting from this.
  • The ‘South Asia satellite’ is an effective example of this. By next year, ten ASEAN countries will also get real-time access to India’s satellite data.

2 . 1267 Committee

Context: China placed a “hold” on two joint India-US proposals, to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) top leaders including Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Saeed and Shahid Mehmood, deputy chief of an LeT front at the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) 1267 list of terrorists affiliated to Al Qaeda and ISIS. The holds marked the fourth and fifth time China had attempted to block a listing move by India and the U.S. in the past four months.

What does “placing a hold” mean?

  • The 1267 committee was set up in 1999 (updated in 2011 and 2015) allows any UN member state to propose adding the name of a terrorist or terror group to a consolidated list, maintained by the Committee, that has affiliations to Al Qaeda and ISIS.
  • India has successfully proposed the listing of several terror entities in the past two decades, including Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
  • According to the rules, once a listing is proposed, it will be adopted into the list according to a “no-objections” procedure: which means, if any member of the Committee, which comprises all members of the UN Security Council, places a hold on the listing or objects outright to it, the listing cannot be adopted. As a permanent member of the UNSC, China can do this any number of times as its term doesn’t run out, and it carries a veto vote.
  • The Committee is bound to resolve all such pending issues within six months, but can allow extensions, meaning that technically at the end of the six-month period, the “holding” country has to decide whether to accept the listing or place a permanent objection to it.
  • However, in practice, many of the listing proposals have had prolonged waits.

 Does India have options?

  • Since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, India has tried a number of different ways to build international consensus on cross-border terrorism, and the UNSC terror listings have been one such route.
  • While China has blocked many of the listings, there are hundreds of names of terrorists and entities in Pakistan that pose a threat to India.
  • As a UN member state, Pakistan has an obligation under the sanctions to block access for all designated entities to funds, arms and travel outside its jurisdiction.
  • This is something India has also pursued with the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, where Pakistan was placed on a “grey list” due to its inability to curb terror financing and money laundering from 2012-2015 and 2018-2022.
    • While Pakistan is likely to be taken off that list this week, it has had to carry out several actions against terror entities on its soil and will continue to be under scrutiny.
  • Finally, India and the U.S. have built their own separate lists of “most wanted” terrorists that document the cases against them, with a view to eventually receiving global cooperation on banning them.
  • Since 2001, China has placed holds on a number of listing proposals relating mainly to Pakistan-based groups and their leaders, given the close bilateral ties between the two countries
  • Most notable was China’s objections to the listing of JeM founder Masood Azhar. Azhar was released from prison by India in 1999 and handed over to terrorists in return for hostages onboard Indian Airlines flight IC-814, which should have left little doubt about Azhar’s own status as a terrorist
  • Even after the Parliament attack and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, China kept placing a hold on the UNSC terror listing proposals for him: in 2009, 2010, 2016-18, claiming it had “inadequate information” on Masood Azhar’s terror activities.

1267 Sanctions regime

  • Counter-terrorism is an important objective of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.1
  • The two main UNSC regimes establishing sanctions against individuals and entities suspected of terrorism are known as the 1267 regime and the 1373 regime. They impose mandatory obligations on all UN members concerning their implementation.
  • The 1267 sanctions regime was initially based on three UNSC resolutions.
    • First, UNSCR 1267 (1999), adopted following the Al-Qaeda attacks on United States (US) embassies in East Africa, imposed a limited air embargo and assets freeze on individuals and entities connected with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    • Second, UNSCR 1333 (2000), extended those sanctions to individuals and entities associated with Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. This regime evolved to include asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes against individuals and entities named on the 1267 Sanctions List, without the requirement of any territorial connection and for a potentially unlimited period of time (UNSCR 1390 (2002)). A Sanctions Committee was established to oversee the regime. In 2011, UNSCR 1988 split the regime in two: a new Taliban sanctions regime was established alongside the Al-Qaida sanctions regime.
    • Finally, UNSCR 2253 (2015) extended the Al-Qaida Sanctions List to individuals and entities connected with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), changing the title of the Sanctions Committee and of the Sanctions List, now the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.

Listing Procedure & Sanctions

  • Under the listing procedure, any UN member state may submit names to the Sanctions Committee to request their inclusion on the Sanctions List.
  • The committee approves or rejects the listing requests, unless a UNSC member objects within a certain period. All decisions of the Committee are taken through consensus.
  • Once an individual or entity is placed on the Sanctions List, all UN member states are obliged to implement the asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban against them

Listing Criteria

Acts or activities indicating that an individual, group, undertaking or entity is associated with ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida include:

  • Participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of;
  • Supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to;
  • Recruiting for; or otherwise supporting acts or activities of, ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida or any cell, affiliate, splinter group or derivative thereof.

1373 Regime

  • The other main counter-terrorist sanctions regime was set up by the UNSC by means of Resolution 1373 (2001) in the aftermath of the attacks on 11 September, 2001.
  • The resolution requires states to criminalise the support of terrorism, by freezing the funds of those suspected of making financial resources available to terrorists and by introducing domestic legislation making support for terrorist acts a serious criminal offence, sanctioned accordingly. UNSCR 1373(2001) therefore establishes a ‘parallel’ or ‘decentralised’ listing system, whereby UN member states are given discretion over decisions on whom to list.
  • Under this regime, suspects or groups need not therefore necessarily be associated with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, as UNSCR 1373 allows for the listing of individuals or groups as considered necessary ‘to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts’.
  • As these designations are made at national or regional level, however, individuals or groups have greater means to challenge their listing, including through judicial review. The 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) was established as a subsidiary body of the UNSC to monitor the implementation of the 1373 regime

3 . Swadesh Darshan 2

Context: The governemnt has launched first phase of the ‘Swadesh Darshan 2’ which will be kicked off from January.

About the Scheme

  • Prayagraj, Chitrakoot, and Gwalior are among the cities identified in 15 States across the country.
  • They will be promoted as part of India’s new domestic tourism policy which moves away from theme-based tourist circuits and focuses on revving up destination tourism.
  • Fifteen States are part of the first phase which include Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
  • Two destinations from each State have been identified.
    • Some of the prominent places identified are
      • Jhansi and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh
      • Gwalior, Chitrakoot and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh and
      • Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.
  • Destinations had been identified after consultations with the State Tourism Departments, and the Centre was now waiting for approval from Tourism Minister.
  • It is a Central sector scheme.
  • The government recently revamped the scheme as Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD2.0) to develop sustainable and responsible destinations with a tourist and destination centric approach.
  • The scheme has been revamped with the mantra of “vocal for local”.
  • It was essentially aimed at targeting domestic tourists.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme

  • The Swadesh Darshan Scheme was launched by the Centre in 2014-15 for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
  • Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to State governments, Union Territory Administrations or Central Agencies for development of tourism infrastructure in the country.
  • The scheme was envisioned to synergise with other government schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, and Make in India with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation, driving force for economic growth, building synergy with various sectors to enable tourism to realise its potential.
  • Some of the prominent circuits launched under this were the Buddhist tourist circle, Ambedkar Tourist Circle and the North-East Tourist Circle.
  • Part 1 of Swadesh Darshan I had faced some criticism mainly pertaining to “resources being spread thin due to the many destinations being covered and too many stakeholders being involved”.
  • Out of the 76 projects sanctioned under the scheme, 52 have been completed.
  • From December, the revamped scheme will be launched which seeks to enhance the contribution of tourism to local economies.

Objective of the new scheme

  • To create jobs including self-employment for local communities
  • To enhance the skills of local youth in tourism and hospitality
  • To increase private sector investment in tourism and hospitality and
  • To preserve and enhance local cultural and natural resources.

Tourism in India

  • According to the third Tourism Satellite Account for 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20, the contribution of tourism to the employment of the country is 14.78%, 14.87 % and 15.34 % respectively.
  • The total jobs generated by the by tourism are 72.69 million (2017-18), 75.85 million (2018-19) and 79.86 million (2019-20).  
  • Domestic tourist visits in 2021 were around 677 million and in 2022 (data available till date) is 572 million.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Web 3 ecosystem

  • Web3 (also known as Web 3.0) is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web which incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies, and token-based economics.
  • Some technologists and journalists have contrasted it with Web 2.0, wherein they say data and content are centralized in a small group of companies sometimes referred to as “Big Tech”.
  • The term “Web3” was coined in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, and the idea gained interest in 2021 from cryptocurrency enthusiasts, large technology companies, and venture capital firms.
  • Some commentators argue that Web3 will provide increased data security, scalability, and privacy for users and combat the influence of large technology companies.
  • Others have raised concerns about the decentralized web component of Web3, citing the potential for low moderation and the proliferation of harmful content.
  • Some have expressed concerns over the centralization of wealth to a small group of investors and individuals, or a loss of privacy due to more expansive data collection.
  • Others, such as Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey, have argued that Web3 only serves as a buzzword or marketing term.

Rustom 2 UAV

  • Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201 or TAPAS BH-201 (formerly referred to as Rustom-II) is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
  • It is being developed in India by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) on the lines of General Atomics MQ-1 Predator.
  • It is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and is capable of carrying different combinations of advanced payload and capable of auto landing, among others.
  • Parallelly, a separate project for the weaponisation of the Rustom UAV is also under way.
  • Four prototypes of Rustom-2 are currently flying.
  • Five production models will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), which is the production partner.
  • The first flight of the UAV took place in November 2016

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