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June 2020

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

A chill in US-China relations and India as a collateral damage


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- U.S.-China tensions and impact on India

Even before the covid pandemic we could sense the rising tension between the U.S. and China. However, pandemic proved to be the tipping point. This article explains the role the U.S. played in China’s rise. And its recent acceptance under Donald Trump of not so peaceful rise of China.

Let’s look into recent announcements on China by the US President

  •  On May 29, the Trump administration said it would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status under U.S. law.
  • It passed an order limiting the entry of certain Chinese graduate students and researchers who may have ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
  • The U.S. President has also ordered financial regulators to closely examine Chinese firms listed in U.S. stock markets.
  • And warned those that do not comply with U.S. laws could be delisted.

So, what all these measures indicate?

  • These announcements are a clear indication that the competition between the U.S. and China is likely to sharpen in the post-COVID world.

U.S. is complicit in China’s rise, but how?

  •  After the Chinese communists seized power, the Americans hoped to cohabit with Mao Zedong in a world under U.S. hegemony.
  • The Chinese allowed them to believe this and extracted their price.
  • U.S. President Richard Nixon gave China the international acceptability it craved in return for being admitted to Mao’s presence in 1972.
  • President Jimmy Carter terminated diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to normalise relations with China in 1978.
  • President George H.W. Bush washed away the sins of Tiananmen in 1989 for ephemeral geopolitical gain.
  • And Bill Clinton, who as a presidential candidate had criticised Bush for indulging the Chinese, proceeded as President to usher the country into the World Trade Organization at the expense of American business.
  • All American administrations since the 1960s have been complicit in China’s rise in the unrealised hope that it will become a ‘responsible stakeholder’ under Pax Americana.

China is creating its own universe

  • The collapse of the Soviet Union reinforced the view that the U.S. wants to keep its order and change China’s system.
  • This strengthened China’s resolve to resist by creating its own parallel universe.
  • China is building an alternate trading system: the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • A multilateral banking system under its control-Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank.
  • Its own global positioning system BeiDou.
  • Digital payment platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay.
  • A world-class digital network-Huawei 5G.
  • Cutting-edge technological processes in sunrise industries.
  • And a modern military force.
  • It is doing this under the noses of the Americans and some of it with the financial and technological resources of the West.

U.S. accepting the uneasy fact that China’s rise has not been peaceful

  • It is only under Mr. Trump that the Americans are finally acknowledging the uneasy fact that the Chinese are not graven in their image.
  • He has called China out on trade practices.
  • He has called China out on 5G.
  • It was Mr. Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy document that, perhaps for the first time, clubbed China along with Russia as a challenge to American power, influence and interests.
  • His recent China-specific restrictions on trade and legal migration are, possibly, only the beginning of a serious re-adjustment.

Decoupling of the economies and new cold war

  • A full-spectrum debate on China is now raging across the U.S.
  • Former White House Chief of Staff Steve Bannon declared that the U.S. is already at war with China.
  • Others like diplomat Richard Haass and former president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, warn that a new Cold War will be a mistake.
  • Scholar Julian Gewirtz, in his brilliant essay, ‘The Chinese Reassessment of Interdependence’, talks about a similar process underway in Beijing.
  • Both sides are acutely aware how closely their economies are tied together: from farm to factory, the U.S. is heavily dependent on supply chains in China and the Chinese have been unable to break free of the dollar.
  • If Mr. Trump’s wish is to disentangle China’s supply chains, Mr. Xi is equally determined to escape from the U.S. ‘chokehold’ on technology.
  • To what extent the de-coupling is possible is yet to be determined.
  • But one thing is inevitable, India will become part of the collateral damage.

Hong Kong: Sign of U.S. China rivalry entering in ideological domain

  • Will Hong Kong become a game-changer in the post-COVID world?
  • China’s decision to enact the new national security law for Hong Kong has been condemned in unison by the U.S. and its Western allies as an assault on human freedoms.

Why is this significant?

  • The points of divergence, even dispute, between them have so far been in the material realm.
  • With Hong Kong, the U.S.-China rivalry may, possibly, be entering the ideological domain.
  • For some time now there are reports about Chinese interference in the internal affairs of democracies.
  • Countries in the West have tackled this individually, always mindful of not jeopardising their trade with China.
  • Hong Kong may be different.
  • It is not only a bastion for Western capitalism in the East, but more importantly the torch-bearer of Western democratic ideals.
  • Think of it as a sort of Statue of Liberty; it holds aloft the torch of freedom and democracy for all those who pass through Hong Kong en route to China.
  • This is an assault on beliefs, so to speak.

Issue of China’s role in Covid-19 pandemic

  • These is growing demands that China should come clean on its errors of omission in the early days of COVID-19.
  • In the months ahead, more information may become public, from sources inside China itself, about the shortcomings of the regime.
  • That will further fuel a debate on the superiority of the Chinese Model as an alternative to democracy.

Will this form the ideological underpinning for the birth of a new Cold War?

  • That will depend on who wins in Washington in November.
  • It will also depend on whether profit will again trump politics in Europe.
  • Moreover, how skilfully the Wolf Warriors of China can manipulate global public opinion will also make the be an important factor.

Consider the question-“Various recent measures by the U.S. on China and the debate on the role of China in Covid-19 makes it clear that the next Cold War is all but imminent. And India has to be careful to avoid being collateral damage in that war. Comment.”


The lines are beginning to be drawn between the Americans on the one side and China on the other. A binary choice is likely to test to the limit India’s capacity to maintain strategic and decisional autonomy.

Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

Defence reforms must ensure the alignment of its various domains


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDS

Mains level : Paper 3- Defence reforms.

This article draws on the model used for accident investigation but in a reverse manner. For proper functioning of the defence system of a country, proper alignment of various domains is essential. This article divides the defence system of the country into three layers and visualises them as a slice of cheese in the model. Each component is analysed and the issues associated with it are looked into.

What is the Swiss Cheese Model?

  • The Swiss cheese model is associated with accident investigation in an organisation or a system.
  • A system consists of multiple domains or layers, each having some shortcomings.
  • These layers are visualised in the model as slices of Swiss cheese, with the holes in them being the imperfections.
  • Normally, weaknesses get nullified, other than when, at some point, the holes in every slice align to let a hazard pass through and cause an accident.

Applying the Swiss Cheese Model for nations defence preparedness

  • When applied to a nation’s defence preparedness, the Swiss cheese model, in its simplest form, works the reverse way.
  • The slices represent the major constituents in a nation’s war-making potential, while the holes are pathways through which the domains interact.
  • At the macro level, there are only three slices with holes in each.
  • These must align to ensure that a nation’s defence posture is in tune with its political objectives.
  • Any mismatch may turn out to be detrimental to the nation’s aatma samman (self-respect) when the balloon goes up.
  • In these days of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, a clinical analysis is necessary to obviate any missteps that may prove costly a few years or decades down the line.

Let’s analyse the Indian defence set-up from three slice perspective

  • In the Indian defence set-up, the three slices are as described below-
  • 1)The policymaking apparatus comprising the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • 2) The defence research and development (R&D) establishment and domestic manufacturing industry.
  • 3) The three services.
  • When the MoD alone existed, a certain relationship between the three layers saw India prosecute four major wars since independence.
  • The holes in the three slices were aligned to different degrees and hence the results were varied in each conflict.
  • That the system required an overhaul would be an understatement.

So, let’s look at the three-slices of Indian defence

1) Policymaking: How changes in technology forced militaries to be joint?

  • With technology progressing exponentially, a single service prosecution of war was no longer tenable.
  • Because the advent of smart munitions, computer processing, networking capabilities and the skyrocketing cost of equipment brought in the concept of parallel warfare.
  • Synergised application of tools of national power became an imperative.
  • Thus, it became essential for militaries to be joint to apply violence in an economical way.
  • Economical in terms of time, casualties, costs incurred, and political gains achieved.
  • The setting up of the DMA and the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to achieve synergy are the most fundamental changes.
  • As further modifications and tweaking take place in the way the services prepare to go to war, it is imperative that the transformation be thought through with clinical analysis, without any external, emotional, political or rhetorical pressure.

Hostile security environment

  • India’s security managers have to factor in the increasingly belligerent posture of the country’s two adversaries.
  • Terrorist activities have not reduced in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Ongoing incidents along the northern border with China do not foretell a peaceful future.
  • And the China-Pakistan nexus can only be expected to get stronger and portentous.
  • Such a security environment demands that capability accretion of the three services proceed unhindered.

2) Indigenous R&D and manufacturing is still some years away

  • To elaborate, the Indian Air Force at a minimum requires 300 fighters to bolster its squadron strength.
  • The Army needs guns of all types; and the Navy wants ships, helicopters, etc.
  • The requirements are worth billions of dollars but with COVID-19-induced cuts in defence spending.
  • Enter the well-meaning government diktat for buying indigenous only, but for that, in-house R&D and manufacturing entities have to play ball.
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited can, at best, produce just eight Tejas fighters per year presently.
  • The Army has had to import rifles due to the failure of the Defence Research and Development Organisation to produce them.
  • And the Navy has earnest hopes that the hull designs that its internal R&D makes get the vital innards for going to war.
  • So, the Swiss cheese slice representing indigenous R&D and a manufacturing supply chain that ensures quality war-fighting equipment, at the right time and in required quantities, is still some years away.

3) The three services and creation of theatre commands

  • The forthcoming reform of creating theatre commands is the most talked about result of jointness expected from the Swiss cheese slice in which lie the DMA and a restructured MoD.
  • Doing so would be a shake-up of huge proportions as it strikes at the very foundation of the war-fighting structure of the services.
  • The three-year deadline spoken about by the CDS must take into account the not-so-comfortable state of assets of each service which would need to be carved up for each theatre.
  • The Chinese announced their ‘theaterisation’ concept in 2015; it is still work in progress.
  • The U.S. had a bruising debate for decades before the Goldwater-Nichols Act came into force in 1986.
  • New relationships take time to smooth out, and in the arena of defence policymaking, which is where the DMA and MoD lie, the element of time has a value of its own.
  • Any ramming through, just to meet a publicly declared timeline, could result in creating a not-so-optimal war-fighting organisation to our detriment.
  • So, the three services that constitute the third Swiss cheese slice have to contend with the other two slices being in a state of flux for some time to come.

Consider the question “Any defence system reforms must ensure the alignment and coordination of the various component of it which involves policymaking apparatus,  defence R&D and manufacturing and the three services. Comment.”


The political, civil and military leadership must have their feet firmly on ground to ensure that the holes in their Swiss cheese continue to stay aligned; impractical timelines and pressures of public pronouncements must not be the drivers in such a fundamental overhaul of our defence apparatus.

G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

Setting agenda for G-12


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G-7 Members, their combined gdp in the world

Mains level : Paper 2- Expansion of G-7 membership

Recently, there was a call for expansion of the membership of the G-7 by the U.S. President. But the expanded group should not be seen as an anti-China gang-up. Disciplining and not isolating China is what most of the members of the group would want. And to do so, this new group needs to have new agenda. This article discusses the items that must form the part of the new agenda.

Evolution of the G-7

  • When it started in 1975—with six members, Canada joining a year later—it represented about 70% of the world economy.
  • And it was a cosy club for tackling issues such as the response to oil shocks.
  • Now it accounts for about 40% of global gdp.
  • Since the global financial crisis of 2007-09 it has sometimes been overshadowed by the broader g20.
  • The G-7 became the G-8 in 1997 when Russia was invited to join.
  • In 2014, Russia was debarred after it took over Crimea.

Call for expansion of the membership

  • It was the French who first flew the kite of membership expansion.
  • France had invited heads of government of several “emerging economies” for a meeting of the group at Évian-les-Bains, France, in June 2003. 
  • After 2003, G-8 host countries began organising a meeting on the sidelines of their summits with a select group of five or six developing countries.
  • India and China were invited to all those summits.
  • Now, President Trump has, however, gone a step further.
  • Rather than invite “guests” to a G-7 summit, he has suggested expanding the G-7 to a G-10 or G-11.
  • Trump has come up with an interesting list of new members — Australia, India, South Korea and, possibly, Russia.
  • Inclusion of Russia: Trump’s pragmatism in including Russia should be welcomed.
  • The advantage of getting Russia in is that the group would not be viewed merely as an anti-China gang-up but, in fact, as a club of “free market democracies”.
  • The group could easily be made the G-12 with the inclusion of Indonesia — one of the few democratic nations in the Islamic world.

Discipline China, not isolate it

  • Trump’s motivation in expanding the G-7 to include India and Russia while keeping China out is transparent.
  • If keeping China out was not the intention, the G-7 could easily have dissolved themselves and revitalised the presently inert G-20.
  • There are, of course, good reasons why Xi Jinping’s China requires to be put on notice for its various acts of omission and commission and disrespect for international law.
  • However, disciplining China is one thing, isolating it quite another.
  • If the new group is viewed as yet another arrow in the China containment quiver it would place India and most other members of the group in a spot.
  • Everyone wants China disciplined, few would like to be seen seeking its isolation.
  • Asia needs a law-abiding China, not a sullen China.
  • Japan and Australia, have serious concerns about China’s behaviour.
  • But they may not like the new group to be viewed purely as an anti-China gang-up.
  • That may well be the case with South Korea too.
  • Indeed, even India should tread cautiously.
  • India has more issues with China than most others in the group, spanning across economic and national security issues and yet it should seek a disciplined China, not an isolated one.

So, what should be on the agenda of the new group?

  • The proposed new group should define its agenda in terms that would encourage China to return to the pre-Xi era of global good behaviour.
  • The G-7 came into being in the mid-1970s against the background of shocks to the global financial and energy markets.
  • The G-12 would come into being against the background of a global economic crisis and the disruption to global trade caused both by protectionism and a pandemic.
  • The two items on the next summit agenda would have to be the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rising tide of protectionism and mercantilism and the global economic slowdown.
  • The summit will have to come forward with some international dos and don’ts to deal with the challenge posed by these disruptions.

New rules should apply to both the US and China

  • These new rules of international conduct would have to apply to both China and the US.
  • The G-12— have a shared interest in ensuring that both China and the US respect international law and desist from unilateralism in dealing with neighbours and global challenges.

Widening the agenda

  • To be able to alter China’s behaviour without isolating it, the G-12 will have to widen their agenda.
  • Widening involves going beyond the purely economic issues that the G-7 originally focused on, and include climate change, health care and human rights.

What should the “free market democracies” mean

  • In identifying themselves as “free market democracies” the G-12 must issue a new charter of respect for human rights, adherence to international law and multilateralism in trade and security.
  • This is easier said than done.
  • President Trump will have to re-assure the group’s members that he has their combined interests at heart in proposing a new group.
  • And he also has to show that he has an imagination beyond just an “America First” policy.
  • Even as the world is increasingly wary of an assertive China and of Xi Jinping’s China Dream and his version of a “China First” policy, it is also wary of Trump’s unilateralism on many fronts.

What should the invitee nations consider before joining the group?

  • Many countries share Trump’s displeasure with China for its manipulation of the World Health Organisation.
  • But many of them are equally unhappy with the manner in which the Trump administration has treated the World Trade Organisation.
  • A G-12 cannot ignore such partisan behaviour by either the US or China.
  • If Trump does issue an invitation to the three or four new members to join the new group, they should seek clarity on the terms of membership.
  • Russia’s experience, of being invited and then disinvited and now being considered for being re-invited should be a salutary message to all others invitees.

Consider the question- “The expanded new G-12 with India as its member, should also needs new agenda with its focus beyond China. Comment.”


As the world’s largest free market democracy India deserves to be a member of not just a G-12 but of even a new G-7. India’s political and economic credentials are certainly stronger than those of Canada, Britain and Italy.

Contention over South China Sea

What is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

Mains level : VFA and its significance for the US

Security issue in the disputed South China Sea has helped convince the Philippines to delay quitting a key U.S. military pact called the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Practice question for mains:

Q. What’s behind diplomatic tensions in the South China Sea? How it is set to become another flashpoint between the US and China?

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

  • A VFA is a version of a status of forces agreement that only applies to troops temporarily in a country.
  • The US military operates around the world thanks to Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) in 100 or so countries.
  • Similarly, the VFA spells out the rules, guidelines and legal status of the US military when operating in the Philippines.
  • The VFA also affirms the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty as well as the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement — agreements that enable the U.S. military to conduct joint exercises and operations in the Philippines.
  • It came into force on May 27, 1999, upon ratification by the Senate of the Philippines.
  • It also exempts U.S. military personnel from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines.

Significance of VFA

  • Both the US and Philippines remain wary of Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea (SCS). The VFA, therefore, act as an insurance policy against Chinese threats.
  • Terminating the VFA would leave the U.S. military without any legal or operational standing in the Philippines — and that’s a problem for the alliance.
  • Without a VFA, the U.S. military would not be able to support either of these defence agreements.

Philippines-China spat on SCS

  • The Philippines has had diplomatic spats with China over the Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys in particular.
  • It says China’s “nine-dash line”, which China uses to demarcate its territorial claims, is unlawful under the UNCLOS convention.
  • The SCS is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.

Back2Basics: South China Sea Row

  • It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.
  • China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims.
  • Alongside the fully-fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.
  • China claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.
  • Beijing says its right to the area goes back centuries to when the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation, and in 1947 it issued a map detailing its claims.
  • It showed the two island groups falling entirely within its territory. Those claims are mirrored by Taiwan.

Spat over Chinese claims

  • China has backed its expansive claims with island-building and naval patrols.
  • The US says it does not take sides in territorial disputes but has sent military ships and planes near disputed islands, calling them “freedom of navigation” operations to ensure access to key shipping and air routes.
  • Both sides have accused each other of “militarizing” the South China Sea.
  • There are fears that the area is becoming a flashpoint, with potentially serious global consequences.

With inputs from Washington Post

Global Geological And Climatic Events

What is Lunar Eclipse?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lunar and Solar Eclipse

Mains level : Not Much

A penumbral lunar eclipse will be observed today midnight. The Earth will imperfectly align itself between the Sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the latter, marking the second lunar eclipse of the year.

Solar and Lunar eclipse has been quite frequent this year. Mark the major differences between them.

Lunar Eclipse

  • A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.
  • This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned with Earth between the other two.
  • A lunar eclipse can occur only on the night of a full moon. The type and length of a lunar eclipse depend on the Moon’s proximity to either node of its orbit.
  • Any object that obstructs light will produce two shadows: one which will be dark and dense, is called the umbra; and the other which is light and diffused is called the penumbra.
  • The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth’s atmosphere.
  • This light appears reddish for the same reason that a sunset or sunrise does: the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light. Due to this reddish colour, a totally eclipsed Moon is sometimes called a blood moon.


  • In a total eclipse of the moon, the inner part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, falls on the moon’s face. At mid-eclipse, the entire moon is in shadow, which may appear blood red.
  • In a partial lunar eclipse, the umbra takes a bite out of only a fraction of the moon. The dark bite grows larger and then recedes, never reaching the total phase.
  • In a penumbral lunar eclipse, only the more diffuse outer shadow of Earth – the penumbra – falls on the moon’s face. This third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle and much more difficult to observe than either a total or partial eclipse of the moon.

How it is different from Solar Eclipse?

  • A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes in between the earth and the sun. A lunar eclipse happens when the earth passes in between the moon and the sun.
  • During a solar eclipse, the moon partially or fully hides the sun’s rays for a few minutes.
  • Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of Earth.
  • Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full Moon.

What’s special this time?

  • This eclipse is also called a strawberry moon eclipse — the term, interestingly, originates from an American concept and has little to do with the Euro-Asia region.
  • June’s full moon usually coincides with the harvesting season of wild strawberries in America and the phenomenon was often addressed in reference to that.
  • India had already witnessed an eclipse earlier this year, in January.
  • The strawberry moon eclipse is going to be its second and probably the last visible lunar one in 2020.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Malabar Naval Exercise to include Australia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malabar Naval Exercise

Mains level : India-Australia bilateral relations

India is prepared to expand the Malabar trilateral naval exercise involving India, the U.S. and Japan, to permanently include Australia.

Go through the list for once. UPSC may ask a match the pair type question asking exercise name and countries involved.

[Prelims Spotlight] Defence Exercises

About Ex. Malabar

  • Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
  • Originally begun in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
  • Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
  • The annual Malabar series began in 1992 and includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises.

Significance of Australia’s inclusion

  • Earlier, India had concerns that it would give the appearance of a “quadrilateral military alliance” aimed at China.
  • Now both look forward to the cooperation in the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and the strengthening of defence ties.
  • This has led to a convergence of mutual interest in many areas for a better understanding of regional and global issues.
  • Both are expected to conclude the long-pending Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) as part of measures to elevate the strategic partnership.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Ambarnaya River Oil spill in Russia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ambarnaya River

Mains level : NA

Russia has declared a state of emergency after a power plant fuel leak in its Arctic region caused 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil to escape into a local river, turning its surface crimson red.

Locate major rivers in Russia in the given map from east-west and west-east directions.

Details of the spillage

  • The Ambarnaya River, into which the oil has been discharged, is part of a network that flows into the environmentally sensitive Arctic Ocean.
  • The state-owned TASS news agency reported that the emergency measures were announced within Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, located in the vast and sparsely populated Siberian peninsula.

How did the leak happen?

  • The thermoelectric power plant at Norilsk is built on permafrost, which has weakened over the years owing to climate change.
  • The power plant is located near the Region’s Norilsk city, around 3000 km northeast of Moscow.
  • This caused the pillars that supported the plant’s fuel tank to sink.
  • Around 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil was released into the Ambarnaya river, which has since drifted 12 km on its surface.

What has Russia done so far?

  • Boom obstacles were placed in the river, but they were unable to contain the oil because of shallow waters.
  • The state of emergency declared would bring in extra forces and federal resources for the clean-up efforts.

What is the extent of the damage?

  • Environmentalists have said the river would be difficult to clean, given its shallow waters and remote location, as well as the magnitude of the spill.
  • This is the second-largest known oil leak in modern Russia’s history in terms of volume.
  • The clean-up effort could take between 5-10 years.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TULIP

Mains level : Various employment measures

The govt. has launched the TULIP program for providing internship opportunities to fresh Graduates in all ULBs & Smart Cities.

Possible prelims question:

Q. The TULIP program recently seen in news is related to: HRD/Floriculture/Urban Livelihood etc.


  • TULIP is a portal jointly developed by the Ministry of HRD, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
  • It will help reap the benefits of India’s demographic dividend as it is poised to have the largest working-age population in the world in the coming years.
  • It would help enhance the value-to-market of India’s graduates and help create a potential talent pool in diverse fields like urban planning, transport engineering, environment, municipal finance etc.
  • It will further the Government’s endeavours to boost community partnership and government- academia-industry-civil society linkages.
  • This launch is also an important stepping stone for the fulfillment of MHRD and AICTE’s goal of 1 crore successful internships by the year 2025.

Why need such a program?

  • India has a substantial pool of technical graduates for whom exposure to real-world project implementation and planning is essential for professional development.
  • General education may not reflect the depth of productive knowledge present in society.
  • Instead of approaching education as ‘doing by learning,’ our societies need to reimagine education as ‘learning by doing.’