CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 19/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 19/06/2023

Gita Press, Gorakhpur, awarded Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021

The Gandhi Peace Prize for 2021 will be conferred on Gita Press, Gorakhpur, one of the largest publishers of religious texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana and the Upanishads.

The decision to confer the award on Gita Press was taken by a jury headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after due deliberations on Sunday in recognition of the publishing house’s “outstanding contribution towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violent and other Gandhian methods”, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.

While recalling the contribution of Gita Press in promoting the Gandhian ideals of peace and social harmony, Mr. Modi observed that the conferment of the award was a recognition of the work done by the institution in community service.

The annual Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The award carries an amount of ₹1 crore, a citation, a plaque and an exquisite handicraft or handloom item.

The previous awardees include organisations such as the Indian Space Research Organisation, Ramakrishna Mission, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari and Sulabh International, New Delhi.

It has also been awarded to former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, social worker Baba Amte, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh.

Centenary year

Gita Press is one of the world’s largest publishers, having published 41.7 crore books in 14 languages, including 16.21 crore Bhagavad Gita. It completes 100 years of its establishment in 2023. “The institution has never relied on advertisement in its publications, for revenue generation. Gita Press along with its affiliated organizations, strives for the betterment of life and the well-being of all,” the Ministry said.

According to the official website of the Gita Press, the institution’s main objective is to “promote and spread the principles of Sanatana Dharma, the Hindu religion among the general public by publishing Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads, Puranas, Discourses of eminent Saints and other character-building books and magazines and marketing them at highly subsidised prices”.

It has published 41.7 crore books in 14 languages, including 16.21 crore copies of the Gita.

Facts about the News

Gandhi Peace Prize:

  • Institution of Award:  Gandhi peace prize was named after Mahatma Gandhi and it is awarded annually by the government of India. The international Gandhi peace prize was launched in 1995 on the 125th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as a tribute, to groups, organizations, institutes, or individuals for their contribution to the society towards economic growth, social growth, and political transformation through non-violence and Gandhian methods
  • Rewards: The award carries an amount of Rs. 1 crore, a Citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.

It can be divided between two persons/institutions who are considered by the Jury to be equally deserving of recognition in a given year.

It is open to all persons regardless of nationality, creed, race or sex.

  • Selection Committee: The jury chaired by the Prime Minister and other members are the Chief Justice of India, the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Lok Sabha Speaker and founder of Sulabh International.

Note- 1995 – Dr.Julius K.Nyerere, former President of Tanzania

Facts about the News 

What is sickle cell anaemia?

  • Disease – Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited group of blood disorders that is genetic in nature.
  • It is an autosomal recessive disease or Mendelian disorder.
  • In this disease, the red blood cells distort in the shape of a sickle. They are not healthy developments and the cells die early, causing a shortage of healthy red blood cells. Low red blood cells can block blood flow causing pain.
  • It can also cause infections, pain and fatigue.
  • Patients suffering from sickle cell anaemia can suffer from episodes of pain known as vaso-occlusive crises, which vary in intensity and can last from a few days to weeks.
  • The pain crisis can be triggered by illness, over-activity, stress, or lack of hydration at high altitudes. Recurrent episodes of pain can lead to permanent damage to organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys, brain, and bones.

Cause – It is caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin-β gene found on chromosome 11.

This mutation results in defective haemoglobin (Hb).

Characteristics – After giving up oxygen, these defective Hb molecules cluster together resulting in formation of rod like structures.

  • The red blood cells become stiff and assume sickle shape.

Transmission – It is usually transferred from the parents to the child during birth i.e. both parents can be carriers of SCDs.

Symptoms – Babies who are born with sickle cell anaemia might not show symptoms for many months.

  • Extreme tiredness, fussiness and painfully swollen hands and feet and jaundice.

Effects – The misshapen cells lack plasticity and can block small blood vessels, impairing blood flow.

  • The sickle cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic lack of red blood cells (anaemia), often called sickle-cell anaemia.
  • Chronic acute pain syndromes, severe bacterial infections, and necrosis (tissue death).

Treatment – Blood Transfusions: These can help relieve anaemia and reduce the risk of pain crises.

  • Hydroxyurea: This is a medication that can help reduce the frequency of painful episodes and prevent some of the long-term complications of the disease.
  • It can also be treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation

Sickle Cell Anaemia Prevalence

Research has found that the occurrence of the blood disorder disease is more prevalent in tribal populations compared to non-tribal populations in India. 

Studies have also shown that sickle cell anaemia is widespread in areas where malaria is endemic.

  • During the 1940s, another relation between these diseases was found according to which people having sickle red blood cells have more chances of surviving malaria.

Indian scenario: In India, tribal populations have the most malaria caseload. India stood as the 2nd most affected country for cases of predicted births with sickle cell anaemia.

Responsibility and the complexities of climate leadership

Over the last few weeks, there has been an increasingly vocal campaign to unseat the President-Designate of COP28, Minister Sultan Al Jaber of the host nation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This includes a recent letter from United States and European parliamentarians calling for his removal on the grounds that he is CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. As representatives of developing countries in the climate change front line, i.e., Bangladesh and the Maldives, and as leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 58 of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries hosting 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people, we know only too well the urgency of the climate challenge. We have endured climate-related economic losses of $500 billion in the last two decades alone.

This is a journey of unity

However, we also recognise that this journey, towards a clean energy future, is one we must embark on together. Fossil fuel-dependent economies are critical to these efforts, and they clearly have a more difficult task defining their energy transition strategy. It is important to avoid division and we must continue to engage our fellow parties at COP28 and elsewhere on the best way forward for their economies and for the planet.

Sultan Al-Jaber has led Masdar, the renewable energy company which has made huge investments in solar and wind projects. The UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant, which was recently opened, generates 6 gigawatts (5.6 or 5.8?) of clean power. Masdar and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently signed an agreement aiming to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. This is leadership of our global clean energy future, in the most practical sense.

Finance will be crucial for COP28. Our programme of Climate Prosperity Plans, including the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan adopted in Bangladesh, seeks to generate inward investment of tens of trillions of dollars in building clean energy infrastructure. This climate prosperity agenda recognises that economic growth for the poorest countries is non-negotiable, and that our prospects should not be curtailed so that the rich countries can keep on polluting.

Luckily we do not seek coal, oil and gas; we seek electricity, transport and industry, all of which can now be increasingly delivered with clean energy. We seek the UAE’s leadership in helping secure investments supported by sovereign wealth funds and multilateral development banks which can deliver the huge boost in climate prosperity we need.

Debt is a barrier

Many of our nations are also crippled by unsustainable debts, including debts which are becoming unpayable due to climate damages largely caused by emissions elsewhere. Rather than going one by one over the financial cliff, we urgently need a collective approach which recognises the debt problem and the barrier it now poses to clean energy investment and climate adaptation. Sovereign wealth funds and multilateral development banks (MDBs) could assist in de-risking restructured debts and insuring re-issued climate bonds, as Sultan Al-Jaber has suggested. Sultan Al-Jaber can now demonstrate to Europe and North America what leadership really means by explicitly signalling to sovereign wealth funds and MDBs that he wants to see their full participation. We further call on the UAE leadership for a clean energy target starting in 2025, transforming the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company into the Abu Dhabi Clean Energy and Grid Company by 2030, and towards global financial reform including of the International Monetary Fund.

Thus, finance continues to be central to the COP outcome. The Loss and Damage fund that was secured last year in Sharm El-Sheikh must not be just be another empty bank account, and fossil fuels-dependent economies can demonstrate their commitment to a shared future by making subscriptions to support funding for climate damages in the most vulnerable countries, well in advance of the COP.

There are no winners and losers in a global climate breakdown, the oil industry included. As representatives of the most climate vulnerable developing nations, we call on American and European parliamentarians to reconsider their position. Instead of seeking to exclude relevant parties and stakeholders, we believe everyone should participate in decisions with such important ramifications.

Holding COP28 in the UAE, and with Sultan Al-Jaber as COP President-Designate, may well be an opportunity to engage the fossil fuels industry to make some significant and quantifiable commitments to emissions cuts and climate action in general. Time is running out, and we all need to work together to save the 1.5°C Paris target before it is too late.

The misplaced campaign to unseat the President-Designate of COP28 could result in setbacks to emissions cuts and climate action.

Biparjoy part of a new trend in Indian cyclones


The cyclonic disturbances over the North Indian Ocean, which includes the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the land area in between, have gone through many significant changes in recent decades.

First, the number of cyclonic disturbances in the North Indian Ocean has declined considerably over the past four decades.

Second, this decline was mostly due to a rapid decrease in the number of cyclonic disturbances originating from the Bay of Bengal, the source of most past cyclones to have made landfall in south-east and west Asia. In contrast, the number of such disturbances originating from the Arabian Sea has been steadily increasing in recent years, though the count is still relatively low. More importantly, while the frequency of disturbances has decreased, the intensity of cyclones has increased in recent decades.

Chart 1 shows the 10-year rolling average of cyclonic disturbances between 1891 and 2022. For instance, in 2022, the 10-year average was 10.27, that is, in the previous 10 years (2013-2022), on average, there were 10 cyclonic disturbances per year. As the chart shows, the average was about 15 disturbances in the 1940s and 1950s and later in the 1970s. It decreased to below 10 in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. After a gap of almost three decades, the average went slightly above 10 cyclonic disturbances in 2023.

Chart 2 shows the 10-year rolling average of cyclonic disturbances between 1891 and 2022 originating from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The number of cyclonic disturbances originating from the Bay of Bengal has rapidly declined since the 1970s. In contrast, those originating from the Arabian Sea have considerably increased. From 1891 to 1962, on average, less than two disturbances per year were recorded from the Arabian Sea. However, since then, the average has increased, with over three cyclones being recorded in the 2020s (similar to the peak in the 1979-1983 period).

A story published in The Hindu on Saturday reported that global warming is causing the Arabian Sea to heat up, which is resulting in more, stronger cyclones. Data show that about 34% of all disturbances that originated in the Arabian Sea have become severe cyclonic storms (a top speed of >48 knots) compared to the 19% of disturbances which originated from the Bay of Bengal and become severe cyclonic storms. The report further points out that the Indian Meteorological Department finds it tougher to forecast cyclones originating from the Arabian Sea as the models have to be adjusted given the oceanographic differences it has with the Bay of Bengal.

Chart 3 shows the peak intensity recorded by all cyclonic disturbances between 1994 and 2023. The chart only plots the peak surface wind (in knots) recorded by a cyclone during its journey. For instance, Biparjoy reached a peak intensity of 90 knots, three days before its landfall on June 15 in Gujarat. As can be observed from the chart, between 2019 and 2023 (latest five years), the share of severe cyclonic storms (>48 knots) in all cyclonic disturbances increased to 32%, the highest for any five-year period since 2004. In the last five years, 55% and 17% of the cyclonic disturbances were depressions (<33 knots) and cyclonic storms (34-47 knots), respectively. The 1999-2003 period too recorded a 34% share of severe cyclonic storms, with the 1994-1998 period recording 52%. So, the intensity of storms originating in the North Indian ocean is once again on an upward cycle.

Facts about the News

The Climate Vulnerable Forum is an international cooperation group of developing countries tackling global climate change.

  • The CVF was founded by the Maldives government before the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which sought to increase awareness of countries considered vulnerable.
  • United Nations agencies collaborate in implementing activities linked to the CVF with the UNDP, the lead organization supporting the forum’s work.
  • The CVF was formed to increase the accountability of industrialized nations for the consequences of global climate change.
  • Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan are its members, whereas India is one of the observer states.

China’s ‘developmental’ security approach


Why are the Chinese authorities cracking down on U.S. based companies and domestic firms dealing with overseas clients? Is the U.S- China rivalry at the root of these aggressions? How is China trying to balance development and security concerns? What is the view from India?


The story so far:

Late in May this year, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that the U.S. chip giant Micron, which had been under investigation by the Cybersecurity Review Office, failed to obtain a security clearance, and that its products posed a threat to national security. Consequently, business operators tied to critical information infrastructure were advised not to procure Micron products. This is the latest incident in a series of crackdowns by the Chinese government against American consultancies and domestic firms dealing with overseas clients.

What are the other instances?

Two weeks before the Micron announcement, the Chinese authorities had raided the offices of Capvision, a Shanghai-based consultancy firm that connects lakhs of China-based experts with backgrounds in defence, military, finance, high tech, trade, energy, and medicine among others, to mostly overseas clients. Capvision was charged by Chinese security authorities with using economic inducements to steal state secrets and facilitating the transfer of sensitive information sourced from its experts, to its foreign clients. In the process, the company was found guilty of violating several laws relating to national security.

Before that, in April this year, the offices of American consultancy firm Bain and Co. were raided and its employees in China questioned. While no employee was detained, the authorities seized computers and phones from its offices. In March too, Chinese authorities raided another American firm called Mintz, and detained some of its employees, forcing the firm to shut its two offices in Beijing. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been stalling several mergers and acquisition applications involving foreign entities, which has, in turn, led to mounting operational costs for foreign businesses.

Why is the Chinese government cracking down on such firms?

In October 2022, the U.S. tightened export controls which would make it harder for China to obtain and manufacture advanced computing chips and supercomputers. Therefore, at the outset, the actions by Chinese authorities appear motivated by vengeance against the U.S.-led efforts to constrain China’s tech advancement, as has been widely reported in the Western media. By heckling American firms and restricting their access to the vast Chinese market, Beijing seeks to capitalise on the divergence that exists between the U.S. administration and the American business community over the former’s China policy. Observers felt vindicated when Nvidia’s founder and CEO, Jensen Huang, expressed his reservations over U.S.’s export control measures against China. He feared a fallout on Nvidia’s revenues as China contributes to around 11% of its global earnings. In his statement to the Financial Times, Jensen even called China more valuable than Taiwan, owing to its irreplaceability as a large market.

The crackdown on consultancy and due diligence firms is likely to have ripple effects across all overseas businesses operating in China. Businesses rely on consultancy firms to navigate the regulatory environment which may prove to be challenging, especially in a country like China where regulatory unpredictability and uncertainty have been a norm in the last few years.

However, the above perspective amounts to a limited understanding of the motives of the Chinese authorities. There is a domestic component to these decisions that is different from the one that has largely been featured by mainstream media.

Why has security come to the forefront in Chinese politics?

Beijing has justified each of the above-discussed actions using national security concerns. However rhetorical as it may sound, the reality is that threat to security has become a ubiquitous concern in all aspects of governance in China.

Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese discourse on national security has repeatedly underlined that the idea of ‘development’ cannot be isolated from that of ‘security’. On numerous occasions, including at the 20th Party Congress last year and the Two Sessions (the annual plenary sessions of the National People’s Congress and of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) this year, Mr. Xi emphasised the need to balance development with security. At the recently concluded meeting of the Central National Security Commission (CNSC), Mr. Xi said, “it is necessary to ensure the new development pattern with the new security pattern, actively shape a favourable external security environment for China in order to better safeguard its opening up and push for a deep integration of development and security.” It is fairly evident that Mr. Xi wants the developmental agenda to be qualified by security.

China’s incessant attempt to securitise its development has meant that non-traditional security issues have acquired greater significance in its developmental narrative. And among all the non-traditional security issues, cybersecurity and data/information security seem to concern Chinese authorities the most. This is apparent in their recent attempts to strengthen cybersecurity and counter-espionage laws.

The recently amended Counter-Espionage Law that will come into effect from July 1, 2023, aims to treat all “documents, data, materials, and items relating to national security and interests,” at par with state secrets, thus, broadening the scope of espionage. It also expands the definition of espionage to include cyberattacks against state organs or critical information infrastructure. The revised law also empowers authorities to seize data, electronic equipment, information on personal property, and even ban border crossing. Following up on the above amendments, China also unveiled in late May its position paper on Global Digital Governance that calls upon States to “respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other States,” and to “not obtain data located in other States through companies or individuals without other States’ permission.” A combined reading of these documents with the Comprehensive National Security concept, first floated in 2014, suggests that the concept of national security has permeated each and every aspect of governance and developmental strategy during Mr. Xi’s reign.

The recent crackdowns are thus reflective of this approach to ‘developmental’ security. The existing view within the Chinese administration is that several foreign businesses operating in China are indulging in espionage. The suspicion is that due diligence firms and consultancies are leveraging their vast networks to extract sensitive data under the garb of free exchange of information. The authorities also suspect the installation of backdoors by U.S. tech companies at the behest of their government.

What next?

China now, finds itself in an odd spot where development and security are applying diametrically opposing forces, thereby creating a regulatory dilemma. While development requires “reform and opening up,” and creating a business-friendly environment as the Party says, the need to balance development with security warrants enforcing restrictive measures which impinge upon free economic activity. The victims of the recent crackdowns not only have the U.S.-China competition to blame but also China’s evolving national security discourse. The fact that Chinese authorities clarified that their actions against Micron are an isolated case and all foreign businesses are welcome so long as they comply with domestic regulations, supports this idea. Nevertheless, the blurring of lines between development and security are likely to hurt foreign business sentiment in the long run.

However, from India’s perspective, one cannot help but notice the outright contradiction that China’s discourse presents when it comes to its relationship with New Delhi. While Beijing insists on the need to hyphenate development with security, it calls on India to keep the border issue (security) at its proper place and not let it derail the overall relationship (economics and development) with China.

Amit Kumar is a Research Analyst with the Indo-Pacific Studies Programme at the Takshashila Institution


Late in May this year, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that the U.S. chip giant Micron, which had been under investigation by the Cybersecurity Review Office, failed to obtain a security clearance, and that its products posed a threat to national security.

At the outset, the actions by Chinese authorities appear motivated by vengeance against the U.S.-led efforts to constrain China’s tech advancement, as has been widely reported in the Western media. By heckling American firms and restricting their access to the vast Chinese market, Beijing seeks to capitalise on the divergence that exists between the U.S. administration and the American business community over the former’s China policy.

China now, finds itself in an odd spot where development and security are applying diametrically opposing forces, thereby creating a regulatory dilemma. While development requires “reform and opening up,” and creating a business-friendly environment as the Party says, the need to balance development with security warrants enforcing restrictive measures which impinge upon free economic activity.

In Mann Ki Baat, PM speaks on Emergency, efforts to eradicate TB

Modi hails the achievements of sportspersons in his monthly radio broadcast; Congress takes a dig at PM over ‘silence’ on Manipur violence

Ahead of his state visit to the U.S., Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed a special out-of-turn episode of Mann Ki Baat, where he sought the blessings of the citizens for the trip and also recalled the horrors of the Emergency, saying that “as India is the mother of democracy, we can never forget June 25”, the day the measure was imposed.

Mr. Modi said that usually the episode was put out on the last Sunday of every month, but since he was travelling to the U.S., he wanted to speak to the people before that.

Mr. Modi hailed the progress that is being made towards a tuberculosis-free India by 2025. He spoke of how dairy farming was picking up pace in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla, India’s strong disaster response strategy as seen in the preparations for Cyclone Biparjoy, the need to conserve nature through means like rainwater harvesting and afforestation, and the continuous hard work of the nation’s sportspersons, which was bringing international laurels.

However, the Congress took the opportunity to take a dig at the Prime Minister’s silence over the ethnic violence in Manipur, where over 100 have been killed and tens of thousands displaced.

Jairam Ramesh, Congress leader, said in a tweet, “So one more Mann ki Baat but Maun (Silence) on Manipur. The PM patted himself on the back for India’s great capabilities in disaster management. What about the entirely man-made [actually self-inflicted] humanitarian disaster in Manipur. Still no appeal for peace from him. There is a non-auditable PM-CARES Fund, but does the PM even care for Manipur is the real question.”

In the episode, Mr. Modi tied the themes of his topics around public participation, citing the role of the people in helping preparations for Biparjoy, their efforts to conserve water, and their active participation in the mission to eradicate TB.

Mr. Modi mentioned the Nikshay Mitra programme, under which social organisations, villages, panchayats and individuals can “adopt” TB patients to help and support and remove the stigma.

Reminding listeners that June 25 was nearby, Mr. Modi said, “It was a dark period in the history of India. Lakhs of people opposed the Emergency with full might. The supporters of democracy were tortured so much during that time, that even today, it makes the mind tremble. I wish that, today, when we are celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav we must also have a glance at such crimes which endanger the freedom of the country.”