Current Affairs 11th February

Both sides disengaging from Pangong lake area, says China #GS2 #IR

China’s military announced that frontline troops of India and China had begun disengaging in a “synchronised and organised” manner from the north and south banks of Pangong lake, where both sides have been locked in a stand-off for months which, an official source in Delhi said, was the first step in the long process of disengagement and de-escalation.

This restarts the stalled process of disengagement in the most protracted military stand-offs between India and China in decades that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese casualties at Galwan last year.

This is the first phase of disengagement with some tanks and armoured elements on the south bank being withdrawn as well as thinning down of troops on the north bank, a Government of India source said. However, troops continue to remain in key positions.

It would be a multi-step process for disengagement and de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control and would take time, said a second government source.

Chinese and Indian frontline troops at the southern and northern banks of Pangong Tso start synchronised and organised disengagement from February 10. This move is in accordance with the consensus reached by both sides at the 9th round of China-India Corps Commander-Level Meeting.”

Benefit of the News– India- China disengagement at Pangong Tso

Twitter must follow Indian laws: Centre #GS3 #SnT

With the government and Twitter at loggerheads over issues related to content removal and freedom of expression, the Centre expressed “deep disappointment” over the microblogging platform’s partial compliance of its orders “grudgingly” and with substantial delay.

While Twitter was free to formulate its own rules and guidelines, Indian laws, which are enacted by Parliament, must be followed irrespective of Twitter’s own rules.

An official source told The Hindu that during the meeting, requested by Twitter, it was informed that the government expected full compliance of the blocking orders and that it was unlikely to revisit the list. Twitter, however, said that no action had been taken against the accounts of news media entities, journalists, activists and politicians. “To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law. We informed MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) of our enforcement actions today, February 10, 2021.

The meeting follows a blog post by Twitter, where it said it withheld “a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders given by the government”. The firm has been under fire over non-compliance to block 250 accounts using hashtags related to “farmer genocide”, and about 1,178 accounts that security agencies suspect are backed by Khalistani sympathisers and Pakistan.

In a blog post, Twitter said it had taken enforcement actions, including permanent suspension of accounts in certain cases, against over 500 accounts escalated across all MeitY orders for clear violations of Twitter’s Rules.

Benefit of the News– Tussle between Twitter and Government

‘India, China agree to return to pre-April 2020 positions’ #GS2 #IR

China and India have agreed to return to the pre-April 2020 positions in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to the latest disengagement plan being implemented on the ground.

A senior official said the agreement effectively means that China will vacate the Finger area on the north bank of Pangong Tso (lake) and India will have to climb down from the advantageous position it has taken on the southern side of the lake. Depsang and Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) junction in Demchok sector are not part of the current disengagement plan and will be discussed in the next meeting.

The ground commanders are meeting twice a day and we are hopeful of achieving a pre-April 2020 status in all sectors. The official said reduction of troops will be visible on the ground in the next two or three days.

After the Corps Commanders meeting, the disengagement plan was approved by the government. There will be simultaneous withdrawal on both the banks of Pangong Tso. In the north bank, India will move back to DS Post where the troops had earlier started their patrols. But a little caution is required and whether China matches words with actions is to be seen.

Dismantling camps

Not only troops but mechanised armoured elements and temporary structures, such as tents and camps, will also be removed. Explaining the details, the official said, “If the troops have to move from point A to B, then preparations have to be made at point B where the troops will recede. We are synchronising the plan with the Chinese troops. The Southern bank, where Indian troops are in a dominant position since August 2020, is a big pressure point for the Chinese.”

India and China have been engaged in a face-off in various pockets in eastern Ladakh since April last year after China stopped Indian patrols in the Finger area of Pangong Tso. The troops have not been able to patrol beyond Finger 4 since the last week of April 2020 after China had ingressed about 8 km. Earlier, the troops could patrol up to Finger 8.

The other areas where the buildup continues are the Depsang plains, Galwan, Gogra-Hot Springs and the south bank of Pangong.

Benefit of the News– India- China disengagement at Pangong Tso

‘Himalayas host to complex processes’ #GS3 #DM

The Wadia Institute has sent a team of scientists to explore the causes of the flash flood. What have they found so far?

A team of five immediately left for the spot. They have made some measurements of the topography near the locations but access is difficult. They also undertook an aerial survey. What we know so far is almost entirely based on an analysis of satellite imagery, with some ground observations. Ground-based measurements are critical to supplement this but the prevailing conditions aren’t conducive.

These are glaciers at an elevation of 5,000-6,000 metres. Himachal Pradesh has 10,000 glaciers, Uttarakhand has 1,000 glaciers — and all are in extremely inhospitable locations. Normally, access to these regions is only possible in the summer, and it’s not easy even then. That’s why our knowledge of glaciers is limited and this is inadequate. That makes satellite analysis or aerial surveys critical but they have their limitations.

What does your preliminary analysis suggest?

We are about 90% certain that this was caused by a combination of a large piece of rock, possibly from a mountain peak, breaking off. This was probably part of the Raunthi/Mrigudhani mountain. It fell on a hanging glacier, probably perched off a cliff.

The impact from the falling rock broke it [the glacier] and this mass of rock and ice debris avalanched over a nearly 40 degree slope for two kilometres before falling onto the Raunthi Gadhera stream floor. There was thus a huge mass of rock, ice and other debris that stayed that way for a while. It looks like it stayed that way for three days and the ice and snow started to melt from the heat. It was a clear sky.

Eventually, the pressure created by the volume of water and other debris forced its way down the valley and led to the flooding and deluge. This was different from a situation like Kedarnath in 2013. There, multiple cloudbursts in June led to a torrent of snow and water that resulted in a flash flood. (This resulted in widespread destruction in Uttarakhand and the loss of nearly 5,700 lives, along with damaged hydropower tunnels as well as destruction of livestock and property.)

What made the mountain peak break?

This is still to be determined. What is likely is that this is a result of decades of freezing and thawing that would have led to weaknesses and cracks forking in those mountain structures. It was not a sudden event, and this underlines the reasons of why we need to keep monitoring the Himalayas.

They are fragile and host to several complex processes that need to be monitored. Global warming contributes to the weakening of the glaciers and we need several organisations and specialists working on these aspects to monitor, make models and thereby make predictive forecasts that can warn of such occurrences in the future.

We need some ground-based measurements and we have already made a scientific plan to be able to access these mountains in the summer. We will have to investigate if there was some tectonic activity, or a blast from somewhere higher up that triggered fault-lines.

We don’t know yet and it will take some time to establish that. But imagine a heap of rice. If the base is not strong and grains accumulate, there will at some point be single rice grain, that when added to the heap, will cause it to crumble. So we have to determine structural weaknesses too.

Do such accidents show that it’s foolhardy to construct hydropower projects in Uttarakhand beyond a certain elevation?

Ideally, before projects are conceived, there are expert assessments done and these are expected to be followed.

Benefit of the News– About UK Glacial Burst

India is an important partner in the Indo-Pacific region, says U.S. #GS2 #IR

Describing India as one of the most important partners of the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region, the Joe Biden administration said it welcomes India’s emergence as a leading global power. India is one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region for us. We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region.

Mr. Blinken expressed concern over the military coup and the importance of the democratic process in Myanmar.

Regional developments

They also discussed regional developments, including the value of U.S.-India cooperation across the Indo-Pacific. Both sides look forward to expanded regional cooperation, including through the Quad, and to address the challenges related to COVID-19 and climate change.

Responding to a question, Mr. Price said the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is both broad as well as multifaceted. We’ll continue to engage at the highest levels of our government to deepen cooperation on many fronts, and we are confident that the strong and upward trajectory of our partnership will, in fact, continue.

The U.S., he said, also remains India’s largest and most important trading partner, with the total bilateral trade increasing to $146 billion in 2019. U.S. companies are a large source of India’s foreign direct investment.

Benefit of the News– India- US relations

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