UPSC Prelims News of 15 March 2023
Context: Australia will be procuring five nuclear-powered US submarines, and then build a new model with U.S. and British technology, under the AUKUS Alliance.
More on the News
- Australia will only get access to stealthy submarines powered by nuclear reactors, and not nuclear weapons.
- The submarines are expected to be equipped with conventional long-range cruise missiles, offering a potent deterrent to would-be attackers.
- Cost of the deal: The multi-decade project will cost about $40 billion in the first 10 years.
- In future, Britain and Australia will build a new nuclear-powered submarine carrying conventional weapons, dubbed the SSN-AUKUS.
- The AUKUS is a strategic alliance consisting of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- The alliance seeks to provide Australia with eight nuclear-powered submarines (but armed with conventional weapons).
- The AUKUS will also include cooperation across emerging technologies (applied AI, quantum technologies and undersea capabilities).
- Nuclear technology: Under the deal, the US has agreed to share its capability of building nuclear-powered submarines with another country, only for the second time in history.
- Chinese threat: The alliance is seen as a response by the three alliance countries to the increasingly aggressive and assertive behaviour of China across the Indo-Pacific.
- Greater role in Indo-pacific: Nuclear submarines provide Australia the strategic capability to conduct operations in the larger Pacific region, including the South China Sea.
- China has responded by saying that the deal would constitute a serious nuclear proliferation risk, affecting peace and stability in the region.
- Australia has not clearly spelt out its plan to handle the nuclear waste generated from the spent fuel of the submarine.
- This is for the first time that fissile material and nuclear technology will be transferred from a nuclear weapons state to a non-weapons state. This will be a violation of international order.
- The provision in nuclear NPT, which exempts inspection and monitoring of fissile material used in non-explosive military use by the International Atomic Energy Agency, can be misused in future, citing AUKUS precedent.
Context: The Manipur government has withdrawn Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with Kuki National Army (KNA).
The Kuki Tribe
- Kukis are an ethnic group native to the Mizo Hills (formerly Lushai), covering parts of Mizoram and Manipur.
- In Northeast India, they can be found in all states except Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Chin people of Myanmar and the Mizo people of Mizoram are kindred tribes of the Kukis and are collectively called as Zo people.
- Language: Their language is closely related to Kuki-Chin linguistic family of Sino-Tibetan race.
- Religion: Majority of Kukis have embraced Christianity as their religion. There are many animistic elements in their beliefs.
- Festivals: Mim Kut is the main festival of the Kuki tribe.
- Cultural feature:
- Sawm: A community centre for boys of the community
- Lawm: An institution in which boys and girls engaged in social activities for betterment of their community.
- Semang (cabinet) is the annual assembly of a Kuki village community, which makes a major part of their governance.
- Kuki insurgent groups have fought against the Indian government for an ‘independent Kuki homeland’, spread across Manipur.
- The insurgency gained momentum after ethnic clashes with the Manipur Nagas in the early 1990s.
- Reason: This was because of overlapping of Kuki’s territorial interests with that of Naga homeland of Greater Nagaland.
Suspension of Operations Pact
- SoO pact is a tripartite agreement between 30 Kuki insurgent groups, Government of India and the state government.
- The tenure of agreement is one year and is extendable based on the progress of its implementation.
- A Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), with representatives from all the signatories, has been formed to oversee implementation of the pact.
- The primary objective of the pact was initiating political dialogue. The talks have reduced the demands from a separate Kuki state to a ‘Kukiland territorial council’.
- Terms of agreement
- Security forces must not launch any operations, nor can the signatory groups.
- The signatories must abide by the Constitution of India, the laws of the land and the territorial integrity of Manipur.
- Insurgent groups are prohibited from committing any kinds of atrocities, extortion, among others.
- The militant cadres must stay in designated camps identified by the Government. Arms must be deposited in a safe room under a double-locking system.
- Arms are provided only to guard their camps and protect their leaders.
- Militant cadres living in the camps are provided a monthly stipend of Rs 5000. Camps are also given funds for their maintenance.
Context: Indian Air Force (IAF) has developed indigenous ‘Vayulink’ platform for jammer-proof communication with base station.
- Vayulink is an ad-hoc data link communication system, which when installed in an aircraft, gives position of other aircrafts close by, through secure, jammer-proof communication channel.
- When used in a complex combat situation, the system can help all aircraft observe each other’s position and location of ground troops.
- It uses the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) that is also known as NAVIC, to send radio communication to the base station when the signals are low.
Significance of Vayulink
- It would help pilots to deal with bad weather and also provide them jammer-proof uninterrupted communication with the base station.
- It would facilitate better coordination during complex operations and curb instances of mistaken friendly fire.
- It prevents aircraft collision, provides better combat teaming and helps plan real-time basis where multiple teams can get together and go towards the target coming from different areas.
- It can have a range of applications and is not confined to one service, but can integrate all combat entities through a single link.
- It has been inducted into the Army under the name Trishul link.
Exclusion from Blood Donation
Context: Central Government has told Supreme Court said that Trans and gay people, women sex workers can’t donate blood.
About Thangjam Santa Singh v. Union of India Case
- A member of the transgender community had moved the Supreme Court seeking to strike down the prohibition on gay and transgender people from donating blood under clauses 12 and 51 of the ‘Guidelines for Blood Donor Selection & Blood Donor Referral, 2017’ issued by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and the National Aids Control Organisation on October 11, 2017.
- Clauses 12 and 51 of the Guidelines are being challenged as “violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India to the extent they exclude transgender persons, homosexual men and female sex workers from being blood donors.
- PIL argues that exclusion of persons without any examination of the actual risk of HIV amounts to discrimination under Articles 14 and 15 and does not meet the test of intelligible differentia.
Supreme Court Previous Judgment on Right of LGBTQ+
- Supreme Court in ‘NALSA v Union of India’ (2014) and ‘Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India’ (2018) held discrimination on the basis of sex under Article 15 will include gender-based discrimination and sexual orientation-based discrimination.
- In ‘Navtej Singh’, the Court declared IPC’s Section 377, which criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private, as “violative of Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution”.
Central Government Stance on Blood Donations
- Exclusion of transgender and gays from blood donation is premised on scientific evidence.
- Evidence shows that transgender persons, homosexual men and female sex workers are at risk for HIV, Hepatitis B or C infections.
- According to Annual Report of the Department of Health and Family Welfare (2020-2021), there are three to six times higher HIV prevalence among adults who are Hijras, Transgenders, MSM (Homosexual men), and female sex workers.
- Other Country Example: Most European countries permanently defer sexually active MSM from donating blood.
Context: Recently, Ministry of MSMEs launched the MSME Competitive (LEAN) Scheme to provide a roadmap to global competitiveness for the MSMEs of India.
About LEAN Scheme
- LEAN is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal, other than the creation of value for the end customer, to be wasteful and hence should be eliminated.
- The aim of the LEAN is to enhance the quality, productivity, performance, and capability of manufacturers by shifting their mindsets and transforming them into manufacturers of world-class standards.
- Under the scheme, MSMEs will implement LEAN manufacturing tools like 5S, Kaizen, KANBAN, visual workplace, and Poka Yoka under the able guidance of trained and competent LEAN consultants to attain LEAN levels like basic, intermediate and advanced.
- Government support: To support MSMEs, the government will contribute 90% of implementation cost for handholding and consultancy fees. There will be an additional contribution of 5% for the MSMEs which are part of SFURTI clusters, owned by women/SC/ST and located in NER.
- Implementing Agency: The National Productivity Council and Quality Council of India have been selected as National Monitoring and Implementing Units (NMIUs) for the scheme.