GS Paper II- International Relations.

10th India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue: EU, India Agrees To Enhance Counter-Terrorism Cooperation.

Background

  • India and the European Union on 27th August, 2017, agreed to strengthen cooperation between their security and intelligence agencies to combat the threat of terrorism and check terror financing.
  • The two sides deliberated extensively on combating terror financing and challenges posed by radicalisation and violent extremism, during the 10th India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue.
  • The two sides exchanged views and assessments on prevailing terrorist threats in their respective regions including state-sponsored, cross-border terrorism in the Af-Pak region.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Discussions were also held regarding the current challenges posed by various terrorist entities, radicalisation and violent extremism, foreign terrorist fighters and combating financing of terrorism.
  • Both sides agreed to strengthen institutional linkages by establishing point of contact between Indian agencies and their European Union counterparts including Europol for closer interaction and cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism.
  • They also agreed to identify relevant training programmes for capacity building of individuals on both sides working in the sphere of countering terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Prospects for deepening counter-terrorism cooperation under the UN and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) were also emphasised. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body which monitors the progress of member countries in implementing necessary measures to check money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • The Indian delegation at the dialogue was led by Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary for Counter Terrorism at the Ministry of External Affairs while the European Union side was led by Pawel Herczynski, Director for Security Policy of European External Action Service.
  • The next India-European Union Counter Terrorism Dialogue will take place in Brussels in 2018 on a mutually convenient date, the MEA said.

Sources- The Indian Express.

 

GS Paper III- Technology.

PSLV-C39 Mission Fails; IRNSS-H1 Satellite Trapped Inside Heat Shield Of The Rocket.

Background

  • On August 31, 2017, the PSLV C39 mission launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) failed. The mission was to launch the IRNSS 1H satellite, slated to be part of the network of seven satellites of the regional navigation system India has been setting up over the last four years. The 1H satellite itself was going to replace the 1A, launched in 2013, after a timekeeping system onboard the latter failed completely last year (2016).
  • IRNSS stands for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It consists of a spaceborne network of seven satellites – from 1A (now 1H) through to 1G, all in a geosynchronous orbit. The last satellite of this network was launched in April 2016.
  • This is only the third failure of a PSLV mission. The first failure was with the PSLV rocket’s first launch in September 1993. In 1997, the rocket failed to reach the orbit it was aiming for. Twenty years later, the C39 mission – also the 41st ISRO mission using the PSLV rocket – has failed.

Key Points Of The Development-

  • ISRO has initiated an official investigation into the causes of the problem. Such a procedure could take three to six months. However, the reasons for the failure indicate that the rocket launch itself was successful. It was a procedure to separate the satellite from the rocket that had gone awry.
  • After the mishap was first reported, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar held a news conference where he said that the satellite’s holding mechanism inside the rocket had unclasped but the heat shield did not separate, as a result the satellite is enclosed in the body of the fourth stage. So the mission is unsuccessful.
  • Earlier, the rocket’s launch from Sriharikota had been delayed by one minute because mission scientists were trying to avoid a piece of space debris that would likely have been in the rocket’s path. After the rocket had reached the sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit, the satellite separated from the rocket’s fourth stage but couldn’t exit it altogether. Some scientists had suggested that if the payload fairing could be opened partially, the satellite’s motors could be used to propel itself out of its cage, although this would risk damaging its instruments.
  • It seems no such rescue ops were conducted, and the rocket and its satellite have now been classified as debris – leaving ISRO, and other space agencies, with yet more junk to avoid during future launches. The C39 mission’s official debris designation is 2017-051A, located in a 166 km × 6,556 km orbit inclined at 19.16º.
  • With the 1A satellite having gone kaput and the 1H undelivered, the IRNSS – colloquially referred to as ‘India’s GPS’ – remains incomplete. Unlike the American GPS or the Russian GLONASS systems, the IRNSS is not global but regional. According to ISRO, its primary service area is a region that includes India and an area “extending up to 1,500 km from India’s boundary”, over which it is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India. Notwithstanding the failure of the timekeeping systems (in the form of three rubidium atomic clocks onboard), the satellites are expected to have a lifetime of 10 years. Even IRNSS 1A, all of whose clocks failed in 2016, has been broadcasting system messages to the ground station.

Sources- The Wire.

 

GS Paper IV- Ethics.

Canada Introduces Gender-Neutral ‘X’ Option On Passports.

Background

  • In a move to promote acceptance and equality, Canada has introduced a third sex category option on passports and other government documents.
  • Beginning August 31, 2017, people can select “X” as an “unspecified” gender designation, which will be available on any federal document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Canada becomes the first country in the Americas to allow its citizens to use an “X” category, joining those in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand and Pakistan. India, Ireland and Nepal are among the countries that provide various third-options.
  • This move is part of a larger push to embrace nontraditional forms of gender expression. Back in November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to promote equality for the LGBTQ2 community, protect the rights of its members, and address discrimination against them — both historical and current.
  • In June, 2017, Oregon became the first state to allow residents to mark their gender as “not specified” on applications for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and identity cards.
  • For the time being at least, sex fields are mandatory on all travel documents under International Civil Aviation Organization rules.
  • There are fears that those who identity as “X” may encounter issues when trying to enter other countries.
  • Immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement that all Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose.

Sources- The Guardian.