Today Current Affairs English 29 January 2022

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India-Central Asia Virtual Summit

Why in news?

Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the inaugural India-Central Asia Summit in virtual format, which was hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

How has the India-Central Asia relation evolved?

Ancient kingdoms with territory in both regions, such as the Kushana Empire, created historical and civilizational ties. With the arrival of Islam and the foundation of Muslim control in India, the relationship grew stronger throughout the mediaeval times, with many of the monarchs hailing from Central Asia.Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are the five countries that make up modern Central Asia. They became independent after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.The region of Central Asia is considered part of India’s “extended neighbourhood.”

Geostrategic importance

Central Asia is ideally located as a crossroads for trade, investment, and prosperity between Europe and Asia.

Geo economic Importance

Commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, cotton, gold, copper, aluminium, and iron are abundant in the region. India is seeking to invest in the region’s IT and education sectors because it has a large IT sector and highly trained workers.

Geo Security Cooperation

Conducting cooperative research on military-defence issues, coordinating counterterrorism efforts, and a special focus on the subject of Afghanistan are all examples of security cooperation.

What is the summit about?

The inaugural India-Central Asia summit took place on the 30th anniversary of India’s diplomatic relations with Central Asian countries.The leaders of the five Central Asian countries were expected to attend, but the country’s celebrations were cut short due to an increase of COVID-19 cases.The summit’s goals are to make it clear that cooperation between India and Central Asia is critical for regional security and prosperity, to give India-Central Asia cooperation an effective structure by establishing a framework of regular interactions at various levels, and to develop an ambitious roadmap for cooperation.

What was the outcome of the summit?

Institutionalization of the Summit- The Leaders agreed to make the Summit mechanism permanent by deciding that it would be held every two years.

They also decided to hold frequent meetings of Foreign Ministers, Trade Ministers, Culture Ministers, and Security Council Secretaries to lay the basis for the Summit. A Secretariat for India and Central Asia would be established in New Delhi to assist the new structure. The Leaders addressed ways to strengthen collaboration in sectors such as trade and connectivity, development cooperation, defence and security, as well as cultural and people-to-people ties.

These included the following:

  • Energy and Connectivity Roundtable
  • Joint Working Groups on Afghanistan at the highest levels of government
  • The port of Chabahar is being used to display Buddhist exhibitions in Central Asian countries.
  • The creation of a common terms dictionary for India and Central Asia.
  • Exercises in counter-terrorism cooperation
  • Every year, a 100-member youth delegation from Central Asian countries travels to India.
  • Diplomats from Central Asia are given special training.

Concerns: Lack of access to land routes and the situation in Afghanistan are two of the most pressing issues.

The leaders signed a thorough Joint Declaration in support of a long-term and comprehensive India-Central Asia collaboration.

What were the areas of concern noted in the joint statement?

Trade- There is an issue with retreating trade, with barely $2 billion spent on Kazakhstan’s energy exports to India.

Apart from the money invested in the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s CAR trade figures have exceeded 41 billion dollars.

Pakistan refuses to allow India to transit through its territory.

New Delhi’s option is to smooth the path through Iran’s Chabahar port, but this will require more investment in rail and road infrastructure, which India is loath to do in the face of US sanctions.

The possibility of using the Russia-Iran International North-South Transport Corridor via Bandar Abbas port is also difficult due to the fact that it is not yet completely operational and at least two CARs (Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) are not members.

Given the tensions with Pakistan, India is especially concerned about the TAPI gas pipeline proposals (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India).

Afghanistan is the tenuous thread that connects Central Asia and South Asia.

With the Taliban in control, there is no recognised government, a humanitarian catastrophe is brewing, and fears of terrorism and radicalism spreading beyond the country’s borders are growing.

What interventions were made by India in Central Asia?

To boost defence cooperation and expand trade relations, New Delhi signed Strategic Partnership Agreements with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

India’s Connect Central Asia Policy is a multi-pronged effort that includes political, security, economic, and cultural ties.

In 2015, India and Iran signed memorandums of understanding to build the Chabahar port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province in order to diversify export markets and limit China’s ambitions.

In addition, the government has recommended that the key Chabahar Port be included in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). New Delhi has been admitted to the Ashgabat Agreement, which allows India to facilitate trade and commercial ties with Central Asia and Eurasia.

India has provided a $200 million credit line to Kyrgyzstan to help fund economic projects.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects has been signed (HICDP).

India has backed efforts in Azerbaijan and Armenia to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Anganwadis should provide Early Childhood Care and Education

What is the Issue?

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is emphasised in the National Education Policy 2020, yet according to the NFHS-5, just 13.6 percent of children are enrolled in pre-primary schools.

What is the significance of early childhood care and education?

Children are heavily influenced by their environment and the people around them during their early years.

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than just a way to get kids ready for kindergarten.

It seeks to meet a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical requirements holistically in order to lay a strong and comprehensive foundation for lifetime learning and happiness.

ECCE has the potential to raise future citizens who are compassionate, capable, and responsible.

ECCE plays a vital role in compensating for parental disadvantages and combating educational inequities for disadvantaged children.

By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goal 4 intends to provide quality early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education to all girls and boys.

Does every child have the access to ECCE?

The current Anganwadi system only serves children aged 3-6 years, ignoring newborns and toddlers.Disadvantaged homes are unable to create an early learning environment due to a lack of parental knowledge coupled by the daily stresses of poverty.Many low-income families have started sending their children to low-cost pre-schools that teach in a developmentally inappropriate manner. ECCE in anganwadis is a non-starter due to the enormous workload of anganwadi employees.


How to promote a meaningful ECCE programme in Anganwadis?

Framework based on activities- A relevant activity-based ECCE framework must be created that recognises the reality on the ground while being autonomous enough to reflect the local environment and setting.ICDS must frequently provide age-appropriate activity-based play material in sufficient quantities.Activity allocation- Anganwadi employees’ routine responsibilities can be minimised, and non-ICDS work, including as surveys, can be eliminated entirely.Helpers can be reclassified as childcare employees and do routine job with sufficient training and additional incentives.

Working hours- Anganwadi hours can be increased by at least three hours by increasing current remuneration for personnel, with the additional time allocated to ECCE. This will also serve as a partial daycare facility, allowing disadvantaged mothers to earn a living. By working from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Karnataka has already seized the lead.Policy- By prioritising and monitoring ECCE, ICDS requires a shift in policy thinking at both the national and state levels. This will also necessitate thorough ECCE training for all ICDS staff, including assessment through group activities and child observation. Parents must be engaged- Anganwadi staff must be retrained to interact closely with parents, as they play a critical role in their children’s cognitive development. Appropriate messaging and low-cost, easily accessible educational materials can be created and made available to parents.State investment-States should invest in early childhood education research and training, and guarantee that the ECCE programme is not a downward extension of school instruction.

James Webb Space Telescope may help answer Humanity’s Questions

What is the issue?

The telescope, which was installed in its final location this week, has already started exploring for answers to some of humanity’s most important problems, such as whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.

What is James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope, formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope,” is an infrared telescope.

It was launched on December 25, 2021, with the goal of studying the first stars and peering further back into the history of the universe than ever before.

Webb is a NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and CNSA (Canadian Space Agency) international partnership (CSA).

The Webb telescope is considered to be the Hubble Space Telescope’s scientific successor.

It is the world’s largest and most powerful space science telescope, built by NASA.

Webb is currently orbiting Lagrange point 2 (L2), which is almost 1 million miles between Earth and the Sun (1.6 million km). The telescope will look for evidence of the undetected development of the early galaxies, as well as inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are still forming.The cameras and spectrometers of the telescope’s four instruments contain detectors that can record extremely low signals.The information gathered will be used to answer questions in four areas of current astronomy.The very first light,The formation of galaxies,The formation of stars and protoplanetary systems, as well as Planetary systems are made up of planets.The beginnings of life.

What is Hubble Space Telescope?

What is the issue?

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched.

Hubble is a Cassegrain reflector telescope with a main concave mirror and a secondary convex mirror combination.Hubble detects ultraviolet light, which is absorbed by the atmosphere and visible only from space, in addition to visible and near-infrared light. Hubble’s Ultraviolet Legacy Library of Young Stars as Essential Standards (ULLYSES) is a three-year project in which the telescope will survey a group of high- and low-mass young stars. Contributions

Hubble has determined that the cosmos is 13.8 billion years old.

Hubble was instrumental in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious element that causes the universe’s expansion to speed up.

Hubble has provided scientists with images of galaxies at various phases of evolution, including galaxies that existed when the cosmos was still young, allowing them to better understand how galaxies originate.

It discovered protoplanetary discs, which are groupings of gas and dust that form around young stars and are thought to be the birthplace of new planets.

It detected gamma-ray bursts, which are bizarre, tremendously strong outbursts of energy that occur when enormous stars collapse in far-off galaxies.

What is the difference between Hubble and James Webb Telescope?

  • Location– Hubble was launched into low-Earth orbit whereas Webb is orbiting in L2 region.
  • Size– Webb will have an approximately 6.5 meter diameter primary mirror, which would give it a significantly larger collecting area than the mirror available in the Hubble which is 2.4 meters in diameter.
  • Images Captured- The images taken by Webb will be better than that of Hubble and would be fundamentally different because of its different wavelengths.
  • Wavelength- Webb has the ability to detect infrared light while Hubble can observe light at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

Webb must be cooler than Hubble in order to collect faint infrared wavelengths of light and must be insulated from infrared radiation from the Sun, Earth, and Moon.The South Atlantic Anomaly- Hubble passes over the South Atlantic Anomaly (a small dent in the Earth’s magnetic field that can interfere with satellites) around 15% of the time, whereas Webb will not.Webb will penetrate beyond Hubble’s range to see light from the universe’s initial stars and galaxies, revealing what the stars looked like 13.7 billion years ago.

Other Important Topics

Rani Gaidinliu:

The Naga spiritual and political leader Rani Gaidinliu (1915-1993) led an armed insurrection against the British in Manipur, Nagaland, and Assam.

She was a member of the Rongmei tribe (also known as Kabui).Gaidinliu joined the Heraka movement, led by her cousin Haipou Jadonang, when she was 13 years old in 1927.The movement aspired to revive Naga tribal religion and establish Naga self-government (Naga Raj), putting a stop to British domination.

Things of honour – Nehru referred to Gaidinliu as the “daughter of the hills” and bestowed the title of “Rani” on her in recognition of her bravery.

Tamra Patra and Padma Bhushan were also bestowed upon her.

In Silchar, Assam, a park with a statue has been created.

In 1996, the Indian government issued a postage stamp and a commemorative coin in her honour.

Usha Mehta:

Usha Mehta was a freedom fighter who is most known for operating an underground radio station (Secret Congress Radio) during Gandhiji’s ‘Do or Die’ message during the Quit India Movement of 1942.Mehta was born in Saras, Gujarat, not far from Surat. She met Mahatma Gandhi as a child and became a devout disciple.When the entire Congress leadership, including Mahatma Gandhi, was arrested during the Quit India Movement, Mehta raised the Indian national movement’s tricolour flag at Gowalia tank ground.Mehta wrote a variety of works, most of them focused on Gandhiji and his ideas.’Bharat Ki Mahan Nariyan,’ her book about famous Indian women, is well-known.The Indian government honoured her with the coveted Padma Vibhushan award.

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