Daily GS Mains Notes or Mains Content Enrichment for Civil Services
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
China Proposes Territory Swap with Bhutan
Why in News
Recently, China has offered Bhutan a “package solution” to its boundary dispute. Although the package solution is not specified, it may be seen as a revival of the 1996 proposal by China for a territory swap.
- In 1996, China wanted to exchange the valleys to the north of Bhutan (an area of 495 square kilometres), with the pasture land to the west (including Doklam), totalling 269 square kilometres.
- The deal would have benefited Bhutan by giving it the larger chunk of land, and resolving its tensions with China.
- However it was a big worry for India, as the Doklam swap would have given China access to the strategically sensitive “chicken neck” of the Siliguri corridor.
Repeated Claim Over Sakteng:
- China also repeated its claim on Bhutan’s eastern boundary at Sakteng. Earlier, China has made the claim over Sakteng at an online meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, while unsuccessfully objecting to the funding request to develop the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary project in eastern Bhutan.
- China claims that the boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited. It has had disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors of Bhutan. Bhutan outrightly rejected the claim made by China by saying that Sakteng is an integral and sovereign territory of Bhutan.
- According to Bhutan, China and Bhutan have a dispute in only two sectors of the border, one in the north (central) – Pasamlung and Jakarlung, and second in the west – Doklam.
Reason Behind the New Offer:
- The aim may be to pressure Bhutan into concluding a deal quickly on terms on offer, otherwise the claims may keep increasing. The similar offer was made to India on Arunachal Pradesh, which subsequently expanded to include a Chinese claim on Tawang in 1985.
Concerns for India:
- In 2017 China had intruded into Doklam plateau, which is claimed by Bhutan, leading to a standoff between Indian and Chinese Armies. Even after the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty of 2007, Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses.
- Bhutan has protested against Chinese territorial claims in eastern Bhutan and said that it will also contest in future if China refers to the territory as disputed. Safety of Border from China is a concern for both India and Bhutan. Therefore, both sides need to work together on this issue.
- ‘Close to limited trade deal with U.S.’
Why in news
The Union Commerce Minister has said that India and the U.S. have almost finalised a limited trade deal.
- As an intermediate step between the imminent limited deal and the comprehensive deal, the minister proposed a preferential trade agreement that would cover 50 to 100 goods and services, at a virtual conference organised by the U.S.-India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit.
- India and the U.S. have apparently been close to finalising a limited trade deal several times over the past year, including when both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump were in New York in 2019 for the United Nations General Assembly session.
- India wanted Washington to restore its access to the U.S. preferential trading system or Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), an end to the steel and aluminum tariffs, increased market access for some categories of Indian agricultural products among others.
- S. concerns during the negotiations have included market access for American dairy and agricultural products, medical devices and a cut in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) import tariffs.
- The U.S. also has concerns with India’s digital trade policies. For instance, FDI in commerce, and data localisation.
- Consumer law kicks in, regulator on the anvil
Why in news
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 came into force on 20th July 2020.
- The new Act empowers buyers to ask for replacements, refunds or damages from brands, e-tailers and service providers.
- Aggrieved customers in India will now be able to seek effective legal remedy, on the lines of class action suits seen in many countries.
Salient features of the Act:
Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA):
- The law proposes a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to regulate matters of consumer rights, trade practices and advertisements prejudicial to the interests of the public, and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers as a class.
- The proposed CCPA will be able to file suo motu cases on behalf of a class of customers, thereby initiating class action suits that would hold brands and e-tailers accountable.
Simplified Dispute Resolution Process:
- Consumer Commissions are empowered to enforce their orders.
- State Commissions & District Commissions can now review their own orders.
- Ease of approaching Consumer Commissions through E-filing and video conferencing for hearing.
- Mediation is prescribed as an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
- Reference to mediation by Consumer Commissions wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it. No appeal against settlement through mediation.
- A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller to be responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services.
- This provision would deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services.
Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
- IIT-M researchers use artificial materials and ultrasound to detect defects in large structures
Why in news
Researchers in the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and the University of Nairobi have used metamaterials to improve detection of defects in large structures by guided wave ultrasound.
- Engineering structures including buildings, pipelines and rails require periodic testing to prevent catastrophic failures occurring due to corrosion, impact, and strain.
- Conventional bulk ultrasonic inspection is tedious and time-consuming as it involves point-by-point assessment of structures.
Guided Wave Testing:
- In guided wave testing (GWT), the sound waves are sent along the length of the structure rather than into the structure, allowing the waves to travel longer distances.
- GWT has poorer resolution than conventional ultrasound-based testing due to diffraction limitations.
- The research team used metamaterials to improve the resolution of guided ultrasound waves.
- Metamaterials are artificially crafted materials with unique internal microstructures that give them properties not found in nature.
- The constituent artificial units of the metamaterial can be tailored in shape, size, and interatomic interaction, to exhibit unusual properties.