Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 10 January 2023

Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2023 begins

GS Paper- 1 (Culture)

The 17th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), or the day for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) that is commemorated annually on 9 January, was marked by the Central government with events in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The programme began on 8 January 2023, when the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was held.

What is PBD?

  1. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is an annual event celebrated in India to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India.
  2. It is held on 9th January every year to commemorate the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in 1915, and his role in India's Independence movement
  3. The event was first held in 2003, and has been held annually since then. It is organised by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and other organisations.

What it offers

  1. PBD provides a platform for the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of India, and to share their experiences and insights.
  2. It also helps to strengthen ties between India and the global Indian diaspora, and to recognise the achievements and contributions of Indians living abroad.

What's Indian diaspora?

  1. The Indian diaspora includes the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and the Person of Indian Origin (PIO).
  2. The two communities have played a major role in promoting and facilitating investments by expatriate Indians in India.

PBD and economy

  1. PBD has contributed to the growth of India's economy by attracting foreign investment and promoting the export of Indian goods and services.
  2. It has also helped to create jobs and stimulate economic activity in India, by encouraging the return of skilled Indian workers and entrepreneurs.
  3. PBD has helped to promote the transfer of knowledge, technology, and expertise between India and the global Indian diaspora, which has contributed to the overall development of the Indian economy.

Why PBD matters

  1. PBD is an opportunity for the government to showcase the progress and development of the country to the global Indian community.
  2. It is a way to showcase the achievements and potential of India as a nation, and to highlight the opportunities that are available for Indians living abroad to invest, work, and study in India.

 

Joshimath crisis caused by land subsidence

GS Paper - 3 (Disaster Management)

After cracks appeared in many roads and hundreds of houses of Joshimath, Uttarakhand, authorities on 8 January 2023 declared it a landslide and subsidence-hit zone. The announcement came after a high-level meeting took place among the senior officials of the Central government, Uttarakhand state officials, and top officers from agencies including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH).

What is land subsidence?

  1. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), subsidence is the “sinking of the ground because of underground material movement”.
  2. It can happen for a host of reasons, man-made or natural, such as the removal of water, oil, or natural resources, along with mining activities.
  3. Earthquakes, soil erosion, and soil compaction are also some of the well-known causes of subsidence.
  4. This phenomenon can “happen over very large areas like whole states or provinces, or very small areas like the corner of your yard.”

What can be the reasons behind Joshimath subsidence?

  1. The exact reason behind Joshimath land subsidence is still unknown but experts suggest that the incident might have occurred because of unplanned construction, over-population, obstruction of the natural flow of water and hydel power activities.
  2. Not only this, the area is a seismic zone, which makes it prone to frequent earthquakes.
  3. The possibility of such an incident happening in the region was first highlighted around 50 years when the MC Mishra committee report was published and it cautioned against “unplanned development in this area, and identified the natural vulnerabilities.”
  4. According to experts, Joshimath city has been built on an ancient landslide material — meaning it rests on a deposit of sand and stone, not rock, which doesn’t have high load-bearing capacity.
  5. This makes the area extremely vulnerable to ever-burgeoning infrastructure and population.
  6. Moreover, the lack of a proper drainage system might have also contributed to the sinking of the area.
  7. Experts say that unplanned and unauthorised construction has led to the blocking of the natural flow of water, which eventually results in frequent landslides.
  8. Apart from the aforementioned possible reasons, reports have pointed out that subsidence in Joshimath might have been triggered by the reactivation of a geographic fault — defined as a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock — where the Indian Plate has pushed under the Eurasian Plate along the Himalayas.

 

‘Title 42’ immigration policy

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The United States announced it will extend COVID-19 pandemic-era restrictions, known as Title 42, to expel migrants from Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico, a move would block more nationalities from seeking asylum in the United States. At the same time, the White House said it would open more legal pathways for migrants from those nations to apply to enter the country from abroad.

Why are migrants blocked at the border under covid rules?

  1. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, U.S. health authorities issued Title 42 to allow border agents to rapidly send migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico or other countries.
  2. The order was implemented under Republican former President Donald Trump, whose administration sought to greatly curtail both immigration.
  3. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said at the time it was needed to stem the spread of COVID-19 in crowded detention settings.
  4. Some public health experts, Democrats and advocates have criticized and pushed back against the order, saying it unlawfully blocked migrants from claiming asylum and subjected them to dangers, like kidnapping and assault, in Mexico.
  5. Migrants and immigrant advocate organizations sued seeking to lift the order, while Republican states have sued to keep it in place, litigation that is still ongoing.

How did Biden handle Title 42?

  1. U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat who took office in January 2021, campaigned on a promise to reverse Trump’s restrictive asylum policies.
  2. While Biden moved to end some Trump restrictions, he left Title 42 in place for more than a year, exempting unaccompanied children but allowing U.S. authorities to send hundreds of thousands of migrants, including families, back to Mexico.
  3. Since Biden took office, there have been record numbers of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, causing operational and political challenges for his administration. Many have repeatedly crossed after being expelled under Title 42 to nearby Mexican border cities.
  4. Mexico, however, had initially only accepted the return of some nationalities, including its own citizens and migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
  5. In October, the expulsions were expanded to Venezuelans. Other nationalities have generally been let into the United States to pursue their immigration cases, straining some border cities where many migrants have recently arrived like El Paso, Texas.

 

India-China border escalation:

GS Paper -2 (International Relations)

On 9 December 2022, Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Yangtse area in the Tawang region along the India-China border. The confrontation in Tawang was the most serious skirmish between the two sides since the Galwan Valley clash in 2020.

More about the news

  1. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has found that the skirmish that took place in December was aided by new road infrastructure on the Chinese side, part of rapid infrastructure development by China along the border in this region allowing access to key locations on the Yangste plateau more easily than a year ago.

Why Tawang?

  1. Tawang is a strategically significant Indian territorywedged between China and Bhutan. The region’s border with China is a part of the de facto but unsettled India-China border, known as the Line of Actual Control, or LAC.
  2. Within Tawang, the Yangtse plateau is important for both the Indian and Chinese militaries. With its peak at over 5,700 metres above sea level, the plateau enables visibility of much of the region.
  3. Crucially, India’s control of the ridgeline that makes up the LAC allows it to prevent Chinese over watch of roads leading to the Sela Pass, a critical mountain pass that provides the only access in and out of Tawang.
  4. India is constructing an all-weather tunnel through the pass, due to be completed in 2023. However, all traffic in and out of the region along the road will still be visible from the Yangtse plateau.

What led to 9 December?

  1. India’s defences along the plateau consist of a network of six frontline outposts along the LAC. They are supplied by a forward base about 1.5 kilometres from the LAC that appears to be approximately battalion sized.
  2. Indian forces occupy a commanding position along the ridgeline, it is not impregnable. The access roads leading from the larger Indian bases are extremely steep dirt tracks.
  3. While China’s positions are lower on the plateau, it has invested more heavily than the Indian military in building new roads and other infrastructure over the past year.
  4. There is also a small PLA camp at the end of this road. It was the construction of this new road that enabled Chinese troops to surge upwards to Indian positions during the December 9 skirmish.

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