21 Sep 2023: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

21 September 2023 CNA
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A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
1. What is the tussle between the Central government and the Delhi Waqf Board?
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Taking a giant leap for a new ethics in outer space
1. Vietnam, key piece of America’s Indo-Pacific puzzle
2. Three years of the Abraham Accords
F. Prelims Facts
1. Oldest yet fossils of a plant eating dinosaur found in Rajasthan
G. Tidbits
1. ICMR nod to conduct Truenat test to detect Nipah
2. SC to hear challenge to Section 6A of Citizenship Act from Oct. 17
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
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1. Vietnam, key piece of America’s Indo-Pacific puzzle

Syllabus: GS-2, Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains: Rising bonhomie between USA and Vietnam and its impact on India


  • The shift in U.S.-Vietnam relations since the end of the Cold War has been notable, and it reached a significant milestone on September 10 when the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, Nguyen Phu Trong, and U.S. President Joe Biden met in Vietnam, elevating their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership from the previous Comprehensive Partnership established in 2013 under Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang and U.S. President Barack Obama.
  • This shift in relations is particularly noteworthy given the historical complexities stemming from the Vietnam War and Vietnam’s past alignment with communist states. 
  • Vietnam has been cautious about engaging in strategic partnerships, and the emergence of this partnership reflects evolving geopolitical dynamics, particularly concerning China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, an issue that directly affects Vietnam’s interests.

A Complex Foreign Policy Legacy:

  • Vietnam’s historical legacy of conflict with the United States during the Vietnam War, as well as its alignment with communist nations such as China and the Soviet Union, initially pushed its foreign policy in a direction contrary to U.S. interests. The 1978 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union further complicated its foreign relations.
  • This complex history explains why, until recently, Vietnam had established ‘comprehensive strategic partnerships’ with only a few nations, including China, Russia, India, and South Korea.

 Bolstering Ties between USA-Vietnam:

  • The Biden administration has displayed a proactive stance in strengthening the U.S.-Vietnam relationship. High-level visits by U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have paved the way for President Biden’s visit, signalling the importance of the bilateral relationship.
  • The partnership is now expanding across various domains, including building political trust, enhancing cooperation in science, technology, health, and digital innovation, focusing on workforce development, addressing climate change, and establishing a robust defence relationship. These efforts also include addressing historical issues that have affected the relationship.

An Assertive China:

  • Recent developments, such as the conflict in Europe, have posed challenges for Vietnam as it faces difficulties in importing weapons from Russia, its largest defence supplier, due to Western-led sanctions. 
  • Concurrently, China’s assertive actions, like placing oil rigs in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone and adopting an aggressive posture in the South China Sea, have tested Vietnam’s traditional policy of avoiding great power politics in the region.
  • Recognizing the changing dynamics, the United States views this as an opportunity and is actively working to bolster Vietnam’s defence and security capabilities as a key component of its broader Indo-Pacific strategy.

Economic and Technological Partnerships:

  • As part of President Biden’s visit, there is a concerted effort to strengthen economic ties and technological cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam. The focus is on the semiconductor industry, with plans to establish supply chains and boost Hanoi’s chip manufacturing capabilities. This initiative aligns with the broader goals of enhancing economic partnership and increasing investments in critical technologies, chips, and Artificial Intelligence.
  • There is also potential for expanding these partnerships across the broader Indo-Pacific region. For instance, India’s Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) partnership with the U.S., along with the Quad’s principles of critical and emerging technology, could serve as an overarching framework for standardizing technology design, development, and use. 
  • Additionally, the vision of a supply chain extending from Vietnam to Europe via West Asia, anchored by India and its newly launched India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, symbolizes the potential of a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ in the Indo-Pacific.

Nut Graf: The elevation of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership holds immense significance in the Indo-Pacific region. It reflects the evolving geopolitical landscape, the need to address shared challenges, and the growing importance of Vietnam as a key player in the region. The partnership not only strengthens bilateral ties but also contributes to the broader stability and security of the Indo-Pacific.

2. Three years of the Abraham Accords

Syllabus: GS-2, Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains: Impact on India-Israel relations in the backdrop of  Abraham Accords

Context: The Abraham Accords were signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and later, Morocco, with the United States playing a mediating role. These historic agreements aimed to promote stability in the tumultuous West Asian region.

Outcomes of  Abraham Accords:

One of the primary outcomes of the Abraham Accords has been the fostering of normalization and peace in the region. These agreements not only connected governments but also brought people from diverse backgrounds together, bridging the gaps created by differences in language, religion, and culture.

Gains for West Asian Countries:

  • Economic Impact: The economic impact of the Abraham Accords has been substantial. Trade between Israel and other West Asian countries saw a remarkable 74% increase between 2021 and 2022. Additionally, the previously limited tourism sector experienced significant growth, with visits from Israel to the UAE increasing by 172%. The establishment of direct flights also led to a surge in the number of Israelis travelling to Bahrain.
  • Regional Cooperation: One of the notable achievements of the Abraham Accords was the Prosperity Green & Blue Agreement. Under this agreement, Israel, the UAE, and Jordan decided to establish a solar field in Jordan to supply 600 megawatts of electricity to Israel, while in return, a desalination plant in Israel would deliver 200 million cubic meters of water to Jordan. This agreement laid the foundation for expanded regional and multinational cooperation.
  • Youth Programs: Recognizing the importance of engaging the younger generation in fostering long-term stability, the Abraham Accords initiated youth delegations. These delegations enable young influencers to experience each other’s cultures and visit significant religious and historic sites while focusing on community building. Moreover, educational exchanges between universities have further strengthened ties among the youth.
  • Promoting Tolerance: The Abraham Accords have had a profound impact on promoting tolerance and coexistence. For example, after Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the UAE incorporated Holocaust education into its school curriculum as a mandatory subject. This serves as an attestation to the ability of the Accords to foster coexistence and religious tolerance.

Opportunity for India:

  • Connectivity Benefits: India has reaped several benefits from the Abraham Accords. The vibrant Indian diaspora in the Gulf now enjoys the convenience of direct flights between the UAE and Israel, as well as between Israel and Bahrain. Indian students have also benefited from increased ease of travel, gaining improved access to universities and international study programs.
  • I2U2 Group: One concrete illustration of high-level economic cooperation between governments is the establishment of the I2U2 Group, comprising Israel, India, the UAE, and the U.S. This group focuses on joint investments in critical areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security. The Abraham Accords paved the way for such strategic collaborations.
  • Shared Interests: India holds a significant position among the partners involved in the Accords. The scope of collaboration underscores shared interests, including championing a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding trade, addressing climate change, and countering threats to international security. Through concerted efforts of both public and private sectors, these nations are poised to deliver promising outcomes for the world. India’s special bond with these nations and their commitment to realizing the full potential of the Accords as partners in peace and prosperity remain evident.

Nut Graf: The Abraham Accords, signed three years ago between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and later Morocco, have transformed West Asia and North Africa. These agreements have ushered in a new era of peace and cooperation, with significant economic and cultural benefits. Moreover, they have opened up exciting opportunities for India, strengthening regional connectivity and promoting mutual interests in areas like sustainability and international security. The Accords demonstrate the power of unity and cooperation in shaping a more promising future for the region.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Oldest yet fossils of a plant eating dinosaur found in Rajasthan

Syllabus: GS 3- Science and Technology

Prelims: Evolution

Discovery of Tharosaurus Indicus

  • Researchers from IIT Roorkee identified dinosaur fossils in India’s Thar desert.
  • The fossils belong to a sauropod dinosaur called Tharosaurus indicus, a member of the Dicraeosauridae family and Diplodocoidea superfamily.
  • These fossils, which are 167 million years old, are the world’s oldest known diplodocoid fossils.

Unique Dinosaur Characteristics

  • Dicraeosauridae sauropods like Tharosaurus were smaller with shorter necks and tails compared to other long-necked sauropods.
  • Sauropods, in general, were massive, growing over a hundred feet in length, making them one of the largest dinosaur groups.
  • India had few sauropod fossils from the Middle Jurassic period, creating a paleontological mystery.

Ancient Indian Landmass Significance

  • India’s geological position as part of Gondwanaland, 167 million years ago is crucial.
  • The scientists believe Tharosaurus may have originated in India and migrated to other continents.
  • The fact that other continents have younger diplodocoid fossils supports this theory, suggesting India played a vital role in sauropod evolution.

Importance of More Fossils

  • While the discovery is significant, it’s based on partial dinosaur remains.
  • Additional fossils, especially from different parts of Tharosaurus or related skeletons, are needed to understand sauropod evolution better.
  • More paleontological exploration and investment in India are necessary due to the country’s rich fossil wealth.

Rare Indian Dinosaur Discoveries

  • Indian dinosaurs are rare due to limited paleontological interest and investment compared to other countries.
  • The lack of natural history museums in India emphasises the need for more attention to paleontological discoveries.
  • The discovery of Tharosaurus indicus highlights the potential for Middle Jurassic dinosaur findings in India.

Nut Graf: Researchers unearthed Tharosaurus indicus, shedding light on India’s pivotal role in sauropod evolution and emphasising the need for more paleontological exploration in the country.

G. Tidbits

1. ICMR nod to conduct Truenat test to detect Nipah

  • Kerala has received approval from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to use the Truenat test for diagnosing Nipah virus (NiV).
  • Hospitals equipped with BSL 2 level labs are authorised to conduct the Truenat test.
  • This approval allows more labs in Kerala to perform NiV diagnostics.
  • Samples testing positive for NiV through the Truenat test can be sent to labs in Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospitals, or the Institute of Advanced Virology in the capital.
  • Kerala effectively contained the Nipah virus outbreak and no new Nipah cases have been reported recently.
  • Surveillance for Nipah is an integral part of Kerala’s Aarogya Jagratha calendar, with healthcare workers trained according to the Nipah protocol.
  • Despite a 21-day incubation period, the state will continue surveillance for an additional 21 days.
  • Efforts are underway to strengthen activities under the One Health initiative, involving collaboration with other departments.

2. SC to hear challenge to Section 6A of Citizenship Act from Oct. 17

  • A Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, has decided to start hearing petitions challenging the legality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, from October 17.
  • Section 6A was added to the 1955 Act as part of the ‘Assam Accord’ in 1985 to safeguard Assamese culture and identity.
  • The Union government believes Section 6A is valid and wants the court to reject the petitions, which were filed almost 40 years after its enactment.
  • Under Section 6A, foreigners who came to Assam before January 1, 1966, and lived there as regular residents would have the same rights and duties as Indian citizens.
  • People who arrived in Assam between January 1, 1966, and March 25, 1971, would also have the same rights and responsibilities, except they couldn’t vote for 10 years.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. With reference to the Truenat test, which of the following statements is/are incorrect?
  1. Truenat can detect TB, HIV, and Covid-19.
  2. The Truenat machine is not portable and cannot be carried to remote places.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b

Explanation: Truenat can detect TB, HIV, and Covid-19, and it is portable for use in remote areas.

Q2. The recent discovery by the Geological Survey of India, of a sauropod dinosaur 
fossil from the Middle Jurassic period, is found in which region?
  1. Thar Desert
  2. Ladakh Basin
  3. Deccan Plateau 
  4. Assam

Answer: a

Explanation: The dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic period are found in the Thar desert near the Jaisalmer Basin.

Q3. With reference to Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, which of the following 
statements is/are correct?
  1. Section 6A was inserted into the 1955 Act as part of the Assam Accord to preserve and protect Assamese culture and identity.
  2. Under Section 6A, foreigners who entered Assam before January 1, 1966, have the same rights and obligations as Indian citizens.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: c

Explanation: Section 6A was inserted into the 1955 Act as part of the Assam Accord, and it grants certain rights and obligations to foreigners based on their entry dates.

Q4. The Abraham Accords are bilateral agreements involving which of the following countries?
  1. Israel, Jordan and Egypt
  2. Israel and Saudi Arabia
  3. Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
  4. Israel, France and Jordan

Answer: c

Explanation: The Abraham Accords was signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, under the auspices of the U.S. government in 2020.

Q5. Consider the following statements, with reference to the Antarctic Treaty:
  1. The Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties.
  2. The treaty promotes the freedom of scientific research and allows military activities.
  3. India is not a member of this treaty.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Answer: a

Explanation: The Antarctic Treaty promotes scientific research, and prohibits military activities; India is a member of this treaty.


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