Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Nobel Prize
- Nobel Prize – Medicine
- Caste Survey
- Lagrange Point
- Reservation quota in Minority institutions
- Nobel Prize Physics
- Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G)
- Nagorno – Karabakh Stand off
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Nobel Prize
What is the Nobel Prize
- Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and the inventor of dynamite, in his last will and testament in 1895, gave the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and Peace, to be called the “Nobel Prizes”.
- In 1968, the sixth award, the Prize in Economic Sciences was started by Sweden’s central bank, the Sveriges Riksbank.
- The Nobel Prize consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.
- The awardees of the 2019 Nobel Prize will receive in prize money Swedish kronor (SEK) 9 million (approximately Rs 6.45 crore) for a full Prize.
- In his will, Alfred Nobel dedicated most of his fortune, SEK 31 million at that time, for the Awards. This money was to be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.” The income from the investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”.
How candidates are nominated
- The Nobel Committees of four prize-awarding institutions every year invite thousands of members of academies, university professors, scientists, previous Nobel Laureates, and members of parliamentary assemblies among others to submit candidates for the Nobel Prizes for the coming year.
- Per the Nobel website, the nominators are selected in such a way that as many countries and universities as possible are represented over time.
- One cannot nominate himself/herself for a Nobel Prize.
- The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later.
The institutions that choose winners
- The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:
- Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
- Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: The Karolinska Institutet
- Nobel Prize in Literature: The Swedish Academy
- Nobel Peace Prize: A five-member Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
- Prize in Economic Sciences: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Nobel Prize and India
- The following Indians (or individuals of Indian origin) have been honoured with the Nobel:
- Rabindranath Tagore (Literature, 1913)
- C V Raman (Physics, 1930)
- Hargobind Khorana (Medicine, 1968)
- Mother Teresa (Peace, 1979)
- Subramanian Chandrashekhar (Physics, 1983)
- Dalai Lama (Peace, 1989)
- Amartya Sen (Economics, 1998)
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009)
- Kailash Satyarthi (Peace, 2014).
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the chairmanship of R K Pachauri won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
2 . Nobel Prize – Medicine
Context: The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has gone to scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman, for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
About the discovery
- Karikó and Weissman noticed that dendritic cells recognize in vitro transcribed mRNA as a foreign substance, which leads to their activation and the release of inflammatory signaling molecules. They wondered why the in vitro transcribed mRNA was recognized as foreign while mRNA from mammalian cells did not give rise to the same reaction. Karikó and Weissman realized that some critical properties must distinguish the different types of mRNA.
- RNA contains four bases, abbreviated A, U, G, and C, corresponding to A, T, G, and C in DNA, the letters of the genetic code. Karikó and Weissman knew that bases in RNA from mammalian cells are frequently chemically modified, while in vitro transcribed mRNA is not. They wondered if the absence of altered bases in the in vitro transcribed RNA could explain the unwanted inflammatory reaction.
- To investigate this, they produced different variants of mRNA, each with unique chemical alterations in their bases, which they delivered to dendritic cells. The results were striking: The inflammatory response was almost abolished when base modifications were included in the mRNA. This was a paradigm change in our understanding of how cells recognize and respond to different forms of mRNA. Karikó and Weissman immediately understood that their discovery had profound significance for using mRNA as therapy. These seminal results were published in 2005, fifteen years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In further studies published in 2008 and 2010, they showed that the delivery of mRNA generated with base modifications markedly increased protein production compared to unmodified mRNA. The effect was due to the reduced activation of an enzyme that regulates protein production. Through their discoveries that base modifications both reduced inflammatory responses and increased protein production, Karikó and Weissman had eliminated critical obstacles on the way to clinical applications of mRNA.
What are mRNA vaccines, why they were crucial during Covid?
- mRNA vaccines, or messenger RNA vaccines, are a type of innovative vaccine that work by introducing a small piece of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) into the body. This mRNA carries instructions for cells to produce a harmless piece of the target pathogen, typically a viral spike protein, triggering an immune response.
- Traditionally, vaccines have depended on introducing dead or weakened viruses into the human body, so it can develop antibodies against them. Thus, when the actual virus infects someone, their body is prepared to fight it. As technology evolved, instead of the whole virus, just a part of the viral genetic code, instead of the whole virus, began to be introduced through vaccines. But the large-scale development of such vaccines requires cell culture (growing of cells under controlled conditions) and takes time.
- During the Covid-19 outbreak, time was of the essence in finding a weapon against the deadly and fast-spreading virus. This is where mRNA technology proved crucial.
- This technology had been known since the 1980s, but had not been perfected enough to create vaccines at a viable scale. Basically, instead of putting an inactivated virus in the body to activate an immune response, vaccines using this technology use messenger Ribonucleic Acid, or mRNA, to deliver a message to the immune system. Genetically engineered mRNA can instruct cells to make the protein needed to fight a particular virus.
2 . Caste Survey
Context: The Bihar government has released the results of its survey of castes in the state, which puts the share of Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) cumulatively at more than 63%. The “unreserved” category of so-called “forward” castes is about 15.5%.
About Caste Survey
- A caste survey, also known as a caste census or caste enumeration, refers to a government initiative to collect data on the caste demographics of a population within a specific country or region.
- The purpose of a caste survey is to gather information about the distribution, social and economic status, and other relevant characteristics of various caste groups or communities within the population. These surveys are typically conducted for sociopolitical, policy, and planning purposes.
- Caste count gives a state a reason to offer maximum government benefits to the largest social group in accordance with the idea of proportional distribution of state-provided assistance.
- It can aid in a more detailed , informed policy making by the government.
- Violation of the Constitution- The Bihar caste survey was challenged by several petitioners in the Patna High Court on various grounds, such as violating the Constitution, infringing on privacy, being beyond the competence of the state government, being politically motivated, and being based on unreliable methods.
- Politicization of caste- The survey can be used as a political tool for electoral politics.
- Complexity of caste identity- Due to its dynamic nature. Caste identities are not static due to the prevalence of inter-caste marriages. Further, The caste system in India is incredibly complex, with thousands of castes and sub-castes. Categorizing and recording this complexity accurately can be challenging, leading to errors and inconsistencies in the data.
Key Findings of the Bihar Caste Survey :
- The survey reported that The EBCs are the biggest social group comprising 4,70,80,514 individuals, or 36.01% of the state’s population. The OBCs number 3,54,63,936 (27.12%), and the Scheduled Castes (SCs) 2,56,89,820 (19.65%).’
- Scheduled Tribes (STs) number only 21,99,361 (1.68%), the bulk of the tribal population having become part of Jharkhand after the bifurcation of the state in 2000. The “unreserved” category comprises 2,02,91,679 individuals (15.52%).
- The survey results will amplify the clamour for increasing the OBC quota beyond 27%, and for a quota within quota for the EBCs. The Justice Rohini Commission, which had been examining the question of “sub-categorisation” since 2017, submitted its report at the end of July — its recommendations are not yet public. The Bihar survey may well push other states to carry out similar exercises.
- The survey data also reopens the longstanding debate over the 50% ceiling on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling in Indra Sawhney v Union of India (1992). The ceiling was imposed to ensure “efficiency” in administration, and courts have since blocked several attempts by states to breach it.
3 . Lagrange Point
Context: Some of the most amazing phenomena in nature,from electromagnetic radiation and infrared vision to subatomic particles and cosmic rays,are invisible, and we get to know them only through their various applications. This is true of Lagrange points as well –points in space between celestial bodies where a spacecraft stays more or less stationary, as if held in place by some cosmic magic.
What is it?
- Lagrange points are positions in space where objects sent there tend to stay put. At Lagrange points, the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them.
- These points in space can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
- Lagrange points are named in honor of Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange.
- There are five special points where a small mass can orbit in a constant pattern with two larger masses. The Lagrange Points are positions where the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them. This mathematical problem, known as the “General Three-Body Problem” was considered by Lagrange in his prize winning paper.
Contributions of Lagrange
- Lagrange’s most important contributions were related to the so-called ‘three body problem’, which investigated the motion of three bodies (with mass) relative to each other in space – such as the sun, the earth, and the moon.
- The problem question itself is: if you know the starting positions of the sun, the earth, and the moon, can you predict their exact locations at a later date as they move under the influence of each other’s gravity
- Lagrange found that the problem could be solved if he assumed the third body was much smaller than the other two larger masses. This eventually led him to describe the famous five Lagrange points that we know today as L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5.
- In any three-body system, three of these Lagrange points –L1, L2, and L3 –are unstable positions that lie along an imaginary straight line connecting the two larger bodies.
- The other two –L4 and L5 –are stable locations that form the apexes of two imaginary equilateral triangles with the two large celestial bodies at the vertices of each triangle.
Points of accumulation
- Objects stay undisturbed at L4 or L5 because of a ‘restoring force’ – a force acting against any displacement – that prevents them from being nudged away from the stable point. Because of their stability, however, L4 and L5 also tend to accumulate a lot of interstellar dust and asteroids called Trojans that zip around the points. Scientists have detected nearly 10,000 Trojans in the L4 and L5 points of the sun-Jupiter system alone, where gravitational and centrifugal forces prompt the space rocks to follow the giant planet’s revolution around the sun.
- Astronomers have also found four Trojans at Lagrange points around Mars and eight Trojans in the L4 and the L5 points around Neptune. One of Saturn’s larger moons, Tethys, even has two moonlets at its Lagrange points.
- On the other hand, an object positioned at one of the three unstable Lagrange points L1, L2, and L3 – can be easily de-orbited by even weak forces, and they will then drift off into space. That is to say: a spacecraft at, say, L3 needs only the slightest disruption to slip and fall from its orbit towards the sun or the earth, unless it frequently burns fuel via its thrusters, at the various moments of displacement, to adjust its orbital movement frequently.
- Without Lagrange points, space exploration would have been restricted, with scientists struggling to find the best orbits and velocities for satellites, and reckoning with the challenges of orbital perturbations.
- space efforts like the Aditya-L1 solar mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would never have materialised without it. Aditya-L1 is a space-based observatory that ISRO launched. It is now en routeto its designated parking slot at L1 in the sun-earth system. Once it reaches L1 – at a distance of 1.5 million km away from the earth – the probe will settle into a ‘halo’ orbit around L1 to acquire an unobstructed view of the Sun.
- L1 is already home to four other robotic explorers: NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite, Deep Space Climate Observatory,Advanced Composition Explorer, and the Global Geospace Science Windsatellite.
Sites of space colonies
- Space scientists are also exploring the potential of the L4 and the L5 points to host space colonies in the future because these points are relatively close to the earth. At these locations, where gravitational forces cancel each other out, spacecraft will need very little fuel to remain in orbit or to launch to another planet, unlike launches from the earth that take up most of the fuel rockets carry. This, in theory, allows space engineers to build habitable space stations at L4 and L5 using resources mined from the moon or an asteroid.
- A big space station built this way could be spun on its axis using rocket thrusters so that the artificial gravity thus created would help a large number of people to live and work on board the orbiting post permanently.
4 . Reservation quota in Minority institutions
Context: Educational institutions run by religious, linguistic minorities need not provide reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs: Madras High Court.
Details about the Verdict
- In a significant judgement, the Madras High Court has ruled that educational institutions run by religious and linguistic minorities need not follow the rule of reservation with respect to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class students. It has also held that the government cannot compel such institutions to provide reservation to such candidates.
- The judges also ruled the State government would not have any right to restrict the minority status of an institution to a particular period. They held the status, once granted, would continue until the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) cancels it on valid grounds such as the institution having lost the character in view of a change in its objective.
- Yet, it upheld the right of the State government to insist that the minority institutions could admit students from the religious and linguistic minorities concerned only up to 50% of the sanctioned intake and that the rest must be filled up on the basis of merit. The minorities who gain admission on merit should be excluded while calculating the first 50% of students.
- In reply to the plea, The judges said, Article 15(5) of the Constitution, introduced through the 93rd amendment in 2005, specifically excludes minority institutions while enabling the State Government to make special provisions by law for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes relating to their admission to educational institutions.
- Further, the definition of ‘private educational institution’ under Section 2(d) of the 2006 Act also excludes minority institutions established under Article 30(1) of the Constitution.
About National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI)
- The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) Act has been enacted to safeguard the educational rights of the minorities enshrined in Article 30(1) of the Constitution.
- The Commission is a quasi judicial body and has been endowed with the powers of a Civil Court for the purpose of discharging its functions under the Act. The commission has three main roles namely adjudicatory, advisory and recommendatory.
- Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India provides for linguistic and religious minorities a fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- SC has said in a 1968 judgment (S. Azeez Basha V Union of India) that where a university is incorporated under an act of Parliament, it cannot claim the status of a minority institution.
5 . Nobel Prize Physics
Context: The 2023 Nobel Prize for Physics was shared by three scientists—Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier—for their “experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”
About the discovery
- The three Nobel Laureates in Physics 2023 are being recognised for their experiments, which have given humanity new tools for exploring the world of electrons inside atoms and molecules.
- Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier have demonstrated a way to create extremely short pulses of light that can be used to measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy.
- An atom, a tiny unit into which matter can be divided, is composed of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and electrons that travel around this nucleus. Electrons move so fast that it is impossible to observe them in real time. The work of L’Huillier, Agostini, and Krausz has brought humanity closer to observing and studying the movement of electrons, by producing pulses of light that last only attoseconds, which is 1×10−18 of a second.
- Roughly, this can be compared to a high-shutter-speed camera. If a normal camera is used to capture a moving train, the image will be blurred. But a high shutter-speed camera can freeze motion and capture a clear image of the train.
- Fast-moving events flow into each other when perceived by humans, just like a film that consists of still images is perceived as continual movement. If we want to investigate really brief events, we need special technology.
- In the world of electrons, changes occur in a few tenths of an attosecond – an attosecond is so short that there are as many in one second as there have been seconds since the birth of the universe.
How did they do this?
- All three worked in the field for years. According to the Nobel website, back in 1987, L’Huillier discovered that when a laser light wave was passed through a noble gas, it interacted with the atoms, giving some electrons extra energy that was then emitted as light. She continued to work on this.
- In 2001, Pierre Agostini succeeded in producing and investigating a series of consecutive light pulses [or flashes of light], in which each pulse lasted just 250 attoseconds. At the same time, Ferenc Krausz was working with another type of experiment, one that made it possible to isolate a single light pulse that lasted 650 attoseconds.
- These flashes of light made it possible to provide images of processes inside atoms.
- To observe any process, the measurement must be made at a pace quicker than the rate of change. That is how clear images of moving objects are generated: for example, by making the shutter open and close faster than the motion being captured. But there is a limit to how fast the shutter speed can be.
- Light pulses, the only plausible tool to capture processes at the atomic level, cannot be made indefinitely shorter. Light consists of waves, or vibrations in the electromagnetic field. The shortest possible pulse would have to be at least one cycle long, equivalent to its wavelength. For all sorts of light produced by laser systems, this cycle used to take at least a few femtoseconds to complete. This was longer than the sub-atomic motion that was happening in a matter of attoseconds. Scientists were therefore unable to glimpse the motion of electrons with existing technologies.
- Attosecond science has potential applications in a variety of areas, from electronics to medicine, across disciplines in physics, chemistry and biology.
- Further, it helps to study molecular-level changes in blood, to identify diseases.
- A better understanding of how electrons move and transmit energy can also help in creating more efficient electronic gadgets.
6 . Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G)
Context: A departmental working paper by the World Bank on the progress of the Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) has now found that despite “breathtaking” gains made by the programme to bring toilet access to rural India since 2014-15, when it began, there has been a clear trend of regular toilet use declining in rural India from 2018-19, with the largest drop being seen among Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe socio-economic groups.
About the news
- The World Bank paper has found that toilet use in rural India has been declining since 2018-19.
- The paper, by researchers at the World Bank and a faculty member of economics at Yale University, reconciles varied data points on toilet access and usage from the National Family Health Surveys (NFHS), National Sample Surveys (NSS) and National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) and the SBM-G’s own information system.
- The paper also said that most low-income States were among the best performers in terms of their overall increase in regular use of toilets and that the performance of richer States was mixed.
Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin:
- The Prime Minister of India had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin on 2nd October 2014 to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put the focus on sanitation.
- Under the mission, all villages, Gram Panchayats, Districts, States and Union Territories in India declared themselves “open-defecation free” (ODF) by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing over 100 million toilets in rural India.
- To ensure that the open defecation free behaviours are sustained, no one is left behind, and that solid and liquid waste management facilities are accessible, the Mission is moving towards the next Phase II of SBMG i.e ODF-Plus. ODF Plus activities under Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) will reinforce ODF behaviours and focus on providing interventions for the safe management of solid and liquid waste in villages.
Key features of SBM-Gramin: Cut the content down – keep it in simple readable points format
- Phase I
- It seeks to improve the levels of cleanliness in rural areas through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making Gram Panchayats Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean and sanitized.
- Incentive amount upto Rs 12,000 are provided under the Mission for the construction of Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) is available for all Below Poverty Line (BPL) Households and Above Poverty Line (APL) households restricted to SCs/STs, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers with homestead, physically handicapped and women headed households.
- Central Share of this Incentive for IHHLs was Rs.9,000/- (75%) from Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin). The State share was Rs.3,000/-(25%). For North Eastern State, and Special category States, the Central share was Rs. 10,800/- and the State share Rs.1,200/- (90% : 10%). The beneficiary was encouraged to additionally contribute in the construction of his/her IHHL to promote ownership.
- Phase II- Having achieved the milestone of an ODF India in a time bound manner in the last five years from 2014 to 2019, the work on sanitation and the behaviour change campaign has to continue to sustain the gains made under the programme and also to ensure no one is left behind and the overall cleanliness (Sampoorn Swachhata) in villages as well.
- In February 2020, the Phase-II of the SBM(G) with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores was approved with a focus on the sustainability of ODF status and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).
- SBM(G) Phase-II is planned to be a novel model of convergence between different verticals of financing and various schemes of Central and State Governments. The programme will be implemented in mission mode from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
Issues with SBM-G:
- On-ground, studies have shown that many of the achievements claimed were inflated, the quality of toilets constructed were not up to the mark, and local level malpractice were extensive in construction of toilets.
- Issue of partial toilet use, and toilets which are not yet sustainably safe remains.
- There is a time bomb of rural and small town faecal sludge management as tanks and single pits fill up and are difficult to empty.
- In settlements where some houses have toilets, the underground sewerage network is not available. Here, excreta are released in nearby open areas/drains/water bodies, or removed by manual scavengers.
- Other usage-related challenges include: tackling cultural and mind-set issues, providing water in rural areas, addressing the problem of small and dingy toilets, stigma associated with pit-emptying, and making-men use toilets.
7 . Nagorno – Karabakh Stand off
Context: On September 20, Azerbaijan claimed full control over the contentious Nagorno-Karabakh region after local forces, mostly Armenians, agreed to disarm and disband. Hundreds of local Armenians fled the area overnight, fearing ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan.
About the news:
- A fresh round of violence broke out in September when Azerbaijan launched an attack against ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting lasted one day, and a ceasefire was announced a day later.
About the conflict
- Christian majority Armenia and Muslim majority Azerbaijan have been in a state of near conflict for centuries, initially over religion but more recently concerning territorial disputes.
- The current crisis draws its roots from the early 1920s when Russia under Joseph Stalin conquered large parts of the Caucasus.
- At the time, Stalin placed the Armenian dominated region of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan.
- As the erstwhile USSR started to collapse in the late 1980s, nationalist forces on both sides started a battle for control over the disputed region.
- In 1991, ethnic Armenians in the region declared independence culminating in an all-out war three years later.
- By 1994, Armenia managed to drove Azerbaijani military out of Nagorno-Karabakh. The violence left tens and thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.
- Later that year, a Russian imposed ceasefire took effect but failed to resolve the underlying dispute. Clashes have broken out sporadically since then, most notably in 2020.
The peace process
- Although the enclave is recognised internationally as Azerbaijani territory, it is dominated by ethnic Armenians and controlled by Armenian separatists who have declared it as the “Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”.
- While the Armenian government does not recognize the region as independent, it does support the region politically and militarily.
- In 2018, Armenia went through a so-called Velvet Revolution in which its president at the time was peacefully deposed, leading to hopes that the conflict could be peacefully resolved.
- Although Armenia’s new president indicated that he was willing to settle the issue diplomatically, he later backtracked on his statements, arguing that Nagorno-Karabakh belonged to Armenia.
What happened in 2020?
- In 2020, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev launched an offensive to take Nagorno-Karabakh back, leading the country into a fierce war with Armenia that lasted six weeks and killed more than 2,000 people. The Azeri forces attacked Armenian defences and took back 40% of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan was backed by Turkey, and while Armenia’s ally Russia did little to support Armenia, it helped broker a ceasefire.
- However, despite the ceasefire, Azerbaijan did not give up attempts to capture Nagorno-Karabakh. In December 2022, it blockaded the Lachin Corridor, the main road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the rest of the world, adding to the economic misery of the region. The road was blocked under the pretext of environmental concerns.
How did Azerbaijan capture the area?
- On September 19, days after an agreement to reopen the Lachin Corridor for aid deliveries sparked hopes of easing the crisis, Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist” offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh and claimed to have regained full control over the region.
- Experts believe that Turkey had a big role to play in the latest developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkey, however, denied any direct involvement in Azerbaijan’s offensive, although it is a political and military supporter of Azerbaijan.
- Russia’s absence in the Caucasus is owed to its war in Ukraine. As retaliation for Russia’s lack of help over the last few years, Armenia voted to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite Russia’s warnings (the ICC has issued a warrant for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin). Over 1,00,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, have fled to Armenia in the last one week, the WHO estimates. The exodus has triggered a massive humanitarian crisis.
India’s Position on Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict:
- India remains neutral and refrains from taking sides in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
- Supports peaceful resolution through diplomatic negotiations and the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts.
India’s Ties with Armenia & Azerbaijan
- India’s historical ties with Armenia date back millennia. Indian settlements in Armenia were established in 149 BC. Armenian communities emerged in Indian cities during the Mughal Empire.India recognized Armenia’s independence in 1991 and has diplomatic relations. India has an embassy in Armenia, a treaty relationship, and high-level visits. Armenia publicly endorses India’s position on the resolution of the Kashmir issue on a bilateral basis and supports India’s aspiration for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council. In fact, in 2022, the India-Armenia deal to supply Armenian armed forces with PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), anti-tank munitions, and ammunitions and warlike stores worth US $250 million was viewed as Delhi siding with Yerevan.
- Historical ties with Azerbaijan are more recent. Ateshgah’ fire temple in the vicinity of Baku is an 18th-century monument, with a much older history, and has wall inscriptions in Devanagari and Gurmukhi. It is a surviving proof of the hospitality that Indian merchants on the Silk Route to Europe enjoyed in Azerbaijani cities such as Baku and Ganja. Recognition of Azerbaijan’s independence after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Few high-level visits between India and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s proximity to Pakistan has been perceived as an irritant in the ties. There has not been a single visit at the level of Head of State/ Government between India and Azerbaijan.
Geopolitical Significance and Connectivity:
- The region (Armenia and Azerbaijan) is crucial for India’s connectivity with Russia, Europe, Central Asia, and Iran.
- Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
- India supports Armenia’s proposal to include Iran’s Chabahar port in INSTC.
8 . Facts for Prelims
- It is a vaccine recommended by WHO for prevention of malaria in children.
- The recommendation follows advice from the WHO: Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group (MPAG) and was endorsed by the WHO Director-General following its regular biannual meeting.
- The R21 vaccine is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO, following the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021. Both vaccines are shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and, when implemented broadly, are expected to have high public health impact.
- Astra is an all weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Different missiles of this family are capable of engaging targets at varying distances of 500 m (0.31 mi) up to 340 km (210 mi).
- Astra Mk-1 has been integrated with Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI and will be integrated with Dassault Mirage 2000, HAL Tejas and Mikoyan MiG-29 in the future.