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Here are the topics covered for 11th October 2023:
Table of Content
GS-2: The Implications of Internet Shutdowns, India-Italy sign defence cooperation agreement
GS-3: ISRO’s test flight of Gaganyaan mission, MGNREGA
Facts for Prelims: Kuki Zomi militant group, Nobel Prize in Economic
The Implications of Internet Shutdowns
- Despite its critical role in connecting us to information, education, and jobs, India led the world with over 100 internet shutdowns in 2022, marking a worrisome trend.
About Internet Shutdowns:
- An internet shutdown is a deliberate disruption of internet access to a specific region or population. Shutdowns can be implemented by governments, telecommunications companies, or other actors.
- There are a number of reasons why governments may impose internet shutdowns. Some common reasons include:
- To prevent the spread of misinformation or rumours during a crisis
- To maintain public order during protests or demonstrations
- To prevent cheating during exams
- To suppress dissent or silence critics
Impact of Internet Shutdowns
- Economic impact: Internet shutdowns can disrupt businesses, reduce productivity, and discourage investment. According to a 2021 study by the Brookings Institution, internet shutdowns in India cost the economy an estimated $1.5 billion in 2020.
- Social impact: Internet shutdowns can also have a negative impact on society. They can restrict people’s access to information, education, and healthcare. They can also make it difficult for people to stay connected with their loved ones and communities.
- Human rights impact: Internet shutdowns can also violate human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression and the right to access information.
It is important to hold the government accountable for its use of internet shutdowns and to advocate for the right to access the internet for everyone. Here are some ways to do this:
- Raise awareness about the issue of internet shutdowns. Many people are not aware of the negative impact of internet shutdowns. Raising awareness about this issue can help to build public support for measures to prevent them.
- Support organizations that are working to protect internet freedom. There are a number of organizations that are working to protect internet freedom in India and around the world. You can support these organizations by donating your time, money, or expertise.
- Contact your elected representatives and demand that they take action to prevent internet shutdowns. You can write to your elected representatives, attend public meetings, or call their offices to express your opposition to internet shutdowns.
India – Italy India-Italy sign defence cooperation agreement
- India and Italy signed a significant defence cooperation agreement aimed at enhancing collaboration in various defence sectors. The agreement encompasses a wide range of areas, including “security and defence policy, R&D, military education, maritime domain awareness, the exchange of defence information, and industrial cooperation,” which involves co-development, co-production, and the establishment of joint ventures.
About India- Italy defence agreement:
- This historic accord was reached following bilateral talks between India’s Defence Minister, and his Italian counterpart, Guido Crosetto, in Rome.
- The defence minister’s visit to Italy and France from October 9 to 12 was instrumental in cementing this agreement, underlining the growing importance of international partnerships in the field of defence.
- During the discussions, both ministers explored numerous aspects of defence cooperation, including training, information sharing, maritime exercises, and maritime security. They also emphasized the potential for collaboration in defence industries, recognizing the complementary capabilities of India and Italy.
- A notable point in the discussions was the Indian defence minister’s suggestion to foster interaction between Indian start-ups and Italian defence companies. This aligns with the broader goal of nurturing innovation and cooperation between the two nations in the field of defence.
- The visit began with a Guard of Honour presented to the defence minister of India at Villa Madama. Upon his arrival at Ciampino Airport in Rome, he was warmly received by the Indian Ambassador to Italy and senior Italian officials.
- The India-Italy relationship was upgraded to a Strategic Partnership in March 2023 during the visit of the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, to India. This elevated status reflects the mutual commitment to strengthening ties between the two nations.
- In the subsequent leg of the visit of Indian defence minister will travel to Paris for the 5th annual defence dialogue with his French counterpart, Sebastian Lecornu. India and France recently celebrated 25 years of their Strategic Partnership. The depth of their bilateral defence relationship includes substantial industrial cooperation, demonstrating the strong bonds that exist between the two countries.
- The defence cooperation agreement between India and Italy represents a significant milestone in the field of international partnerships in defence.
- This agreement with Italy and the ongoing dialogue with France highlight India’s focus on bolstering its strategic alliances in the field of defence.
- These diplomatic efforts and agreements highlight the strategic importance of international collaborations in defence and underline the commitment of these nations to enhancing their capabilities and fostering innovation in the field of defence.
Why in the News?
- Recently, the central government has stopped releasing MGNREGA funds to West Bengal due to non-compliance with certain norms. This has led to delays in the payment of wages to workers in the state.
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also known as NREGA, is a social welfare program that aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The Act was enacted in 2005 and came into force on 2 February 2006.
- MGNREGA is one of the world’s largest public works programs. It has played a significant role in reducing poverty and unemployment in rural India. The program has also helped to create durable assets in rural areas, such as roads, canals, and ponds.
- MGNREGA is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development. The program is funded by the central government and the state governments.
- MGNREGA is open to all rural households in India. Any adult member of a rural household can apply for work under the program. The wages paid under MGNREGA are linked to the minimum wage rates in the respective states.
- MGNREGA has also had a positive impact on women’s empowerment and social inclusion. The wages paid under MGNREGA are linked to the minimum wage rates in the respective states.
- Corruption and mismanagement
- Delays in payment of wages
- Lack of transparency and accountability
- Difficulty in finding work
- Seasonal migration
The central government has stopped releasing MGNREGA funds to West Bengal due to non-compliance with certain norms, including:
- Delay in payment of wages to workers: The West Bengal government has been accused of delaying the payment of wages to MGNREGA workers. This is a violation of the MGNREGA Act, which requires wages to be paid within 15 days of the completion of work.
- Corruption and mismanagement: The central government has also alleged that there has been large-scale corruption and mismanagement in the implementation of MGNREGA in West Bengal. This includes instances of ghost workers, inflated bills, and poor quality of work.
- Non-compliance with central directives: The West Bengal government has also been accused of not complying with certain central directives related to the implementation of MGNREGA. For example, the state government needs to start using the prescribed software for managing MGNREGA data.
The issue of MGNREGA funding in West Bengal is a complex one. There are allegations and counter-allegations from both the central and state governments. It is important to note that MGNREGA is a vital program that provides social safety nets to rural people. It is hoped that the central and state governments will be able to resolve their differences and ensure that MGNREGA funds are released to West Bengal so that the program can continue to benefit rural people in the state.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to conduct the first of several crucial test flights in preparation for the Gaganyaan mission.
- India’s maiden manned mission to outer space. This significant step is scheduled for October 21 and will take place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.
Key points to remember:
- The primary objective of this test flight is to assess the performance of the ‘crew module,’ which is the section of the spacecraft where Indian astronauts will reside during their mission.
- The procedure involves launching the crew module into outer space and subsequently returning it safely to Earth. The module will be recovered from the Bay of Bengal. To facilitate the recovery, the Indian Navy has begun mock operations to retrieve the module.
- In addition to the crew module, there will be a ‘crew escape’ system, designed to ensure the safety of the astronauts in the event of any issues during the spacecraft’s ascent into space.
- If a problem arises, this escape system will activate, separating the crew module from the spacecraft and returning the crew safely to the sea, where they will be picked up by Navy personnel.
- The upcoming test, known as Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1), will employ an unpressurized module identical to the one that will be used in space. It is important to note that TV-D1 is a single-stage liquid-fueled rocket developed specifically for this abort mission.
- The payload of TV-D1 includes the Crew Module (CM) and Crew Escape Systems (CES), and it will simulate an abort condition during the ascent phase, corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2 (1 Mach equals 330 meters per second, or the speed of sound). The CES, along with the CM, will be detached from the test vehicle at an altitude of about 17 kilometres.
- Following this separation, an autonomous abort sequence will commence, deploying a series of parachutes to ensure the safe touchdown of the CM in the sea, approximately 10 kilometres from the coast of Sriharikota.
- The success of this critical test flight will pave the way for the first unmanned “Gaganyaan” mission, and eventually, the manned mission into low Earth orbit.
- Minister of State for Space, Science, and Technology, has also mentioned that there will be another test flight next year, which will carry “Vyommitra,” a female robot astronaut, as a precursor to the ultimate manned “Gaganyaan” mission.
- The Gaganyaan mission itself is expected to be executed in the second half of the following year, marking a significant milestone in India’s space exploration endeavours.
Facts for Prelims
Kuki Zomi militant group
- Kuki Zomi militant groups are armed insurgent groups in India and Myanmar that claim to represent the interests of the Kuki and Zomi people, two closely related ethnic groups.
- There are over 30 Kuki Zomi militant groups, some of the most prominent ones include: the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), United People’s Front (UPF), Kuki National Army (KNA), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Kuki National Front (Nehlun faction), United Kuki Liberation Army (UKLA)
- These groups have been fighting for a variety of reasons, including:
- Greater autonomy or independence for the Kuki Zomi people
- Protection of their culture and identity
- Economic development of their regions
- An end to discrimination and marginalization
- In 2008, the Government of India signed a Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with 20 Kuki Zomi militant groups in Manipur. This agreement aimed to reduce violence and create a conducive environment for peace talks.
- In recent years, there has been a renewed surge in violence by Kuki Zomi militant groups in Manipur. This violence has been accompanied by ethnic clashes between the Kukis and the Meiteis, the majority ethnic group in Manipur.
Nobel Prize in Economic
- The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2023 was awarded to Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University professor, for “having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes”.
- Goldin’s work has shown how women’s participation in the labour market has changed over time, the factors that have contributed to these changes, and the reasons why women continue to earn less than men on average.
- Her research has been highly influential and has helped to shape our understanding of the labour market and the role of women in it.