4th February 2021

HAL gets contract for 83 LCAs in ?48,000 cr. deal
At the 13th edition of Aero India in Bengaluru, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was awarded the contract to manufacture 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

HAL Tejas:

  • The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
  • It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters.
  • In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”.
  • Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single vertical stabilizer. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs.
  • It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system and composite material structures.
  • It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
  • The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut.
  • Production of the Tejas Mark 1 for the Indian Air Force (IAF) began in 2016, at which time the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN). 
  • The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft.
  • The Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, reported to parliament that the indigenous content of the Tejas was 59.7% by value and 75.5% by number of line replaceable units in 2016.

INDIA MOTIVES:

  • India has long witnessed unfortunate attempts to employ force to change the status quo along our unresolved border and India is vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventure and defend people and territorial integrity at all costs. India’s resolve towards this is shown by our growing defence capabilities”
  • India plans to spend $130 bn on military modernisation in the next 7-8 years.
  • India faced threats and challenges emanating from multiple fronts and it was a victim of state-sponsored terrorism, which was now a global threat.

DELIVERIES IN 8 YEARS:

  • This contract is the biggest Make in India defence contract till date.
  • The contract includes 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at a cost of ?45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth ?1,202 crore.
  • The deliveries of all 83 aircraft shall be completed in eight years from now.
  • Globally we are facing unprecedented levels of ‘uncertainty, volatility and interconnected threats’. In this regard he pitched for greater regional coordination.
  • As part of efforts to boost defence exports, HAL displayed an ‘Atmanirbhar formation’ consisting of its platforms — LCA trainer, HTT-40 trainer, Intermediate Jet Trainer, Advanced Hawk Mk-132 and Civil Dornier Do-228.

 

‘Collection of DNA samples will lead to misuse’

  • DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019 allows investigating agencies to collect DNA samples from “suspects”.
  • Retired SC Justice Madan Lokur has observed in a written submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology that it will give investigating agencies “unbridled power that is easily capable of misuse and abuse” and amount to a “threat to the life, liberty, dignity and privacy of a person”.

USE OF DNA:

  • DNA testing is currently being done on an extremely limited scale in India, with approximately 30-40 DNA experts in 15-18 laboratories undertaking fewer than 3,000 cases a year.
  • The standards of the laboratories are not monitored or regulated. The Bill aims to introduce the regulation of the entire process from collection to storage.
  • The preamble to the Bill says that it aims to provide for “the regulation of use and application of Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] technology for the purposes of establishing the identity of certain categories of persons, including the victims, offenders, suspects, undertrials, missing persons and unknown deceased persons”.

JUSTICE LOKUR’S OBSERVATION

  • Justice Lokur has questioned the need to collect DNA of a “suspect”. In his submission, he argued that in a blind crime or a crime involving a large number of persons (such as a riot), everybody is a suspect without any real basis.
  • This would mean that thousands of persons could be subjected to DNA profiling on a mere suspicion.
  • Such an unbridled power is easily capable of misuse and abuse by targeting innocents, against whom there is not a shred of evidence.
  • Such an unbridled police power ought not to be conferred on anybody or any agency as it would amount to a threat to the life, liberty, dignity and privacy of a person.

OBSERVATION OF OTHER MEMBERS

  • Many members of the committee, too, had expressed concern over including “suspects” in this list, flagging that it could lead to misuse and targeting certain categories of people.
  • Bill would lead to the targeting of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis.
  • The committee has said while taking on board these concerns, it has gone with the majority view of retaining the preamble.

COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

  • Its report, however, notes that these fears are not entirely unfounded and have to be addressed by the government and by Parliament as well.
  • At the same time, the committee observed that it does not negate the need for such legislation, especially when DNA technology was in use.
  • Its use in recent months has exposed a false encounter in which innocents were killed contradicting initial claims made that they were militants,” the report said.
  • It pointed to the encounter at Shopian in Kashmir last September, where the Army had killed three men claiming to be unidentified terrorists.
  • The DNA sample from the three dead men matched with their families, confirming it to be a fake encounter.

 

U.S. extends New START nuclear treaty with Russia

  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration extended the New START nuclear treaty with Russia by five years, saying it hoped to prevent an arms race despite rising tensions with Moscow.
  • One day before the treaty was set to expire, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was extending New START by the maximum allowed time of five years.

DISARMAMENT

  • President Biden pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring U.S. leadership on arms control and nonproliferation.
  • The United States is committed to effective arms control that enhances stability, transparency and predictability while reducing the risks of costly, dangerous arms races.”
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on legislation extending the accord, meaning that the treaty — signed by then-President Barack Obama in 2010 — will run until February 5, 2026.
  • The last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals, New START caps to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington.

CHINA’S ARSENAL

  • Former President Donald Trump’s administration tore up previous agreements with Moscow and unsuccessfully sought to expand New START to cover China.
  • Mr. Blinken said the U.S. would use the coming five years to pursue diplomacy that addresses “all” of Russia’s nuclear weapons and to “reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal”.

 

‘India’s weak fiscal position to remain a key credit challenge’

  • The Union Budget’s focus on higher capital expenditure, financial sector reforms and asset sales would help to stimulate growth and supply broad-based credit support.
  • However, India’s weak fiscal position would remain a key credit challenge compared with its rating peers.
  • The budget projects a narrowing of the central government’s fiscal deficit to 6.8% of GDP in fiscal 2022 from an estimated 9.5% in fiscal 2021.

MOODY’S ASSESSMENT:

  • Moddy previously expected a smaller central government deficit target of about 5.5% of GDP for fiscal 2022 down from around 7.5% of GDP in fiscal 2021.
  • However, compared with previous budgets, the gap between our forecasts and the government’s largely reflects increased transparency on subsidy spending and more credible overall assumptions.
  • The ratings agency said the widening of the deficit in fiscal 2021 was driven almost entirely by expenditure to support Indian households and the economy from the pandemic shock.
  • Given India’s very high debt burden, this gradual pace of consolidation will prevent any material strengthening in the government’s fiscal position over the medium term, unless nominal GDP growth were to pick up sustainably to historically very high rates.

 

Chauri Chaura Centenary Celebrations

  • Prime Minister of India will inaugurate the Chauri Chaura Centenary Celebrations at Chauri Chaura, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, on 4th February 2021.
  • The day marks 100 years of the ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident, a landmark event in the country’s fight for independence.
  • DATE: 4 February 1922
  • PLACE: Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province (modern Uttar Pradesh) in British India
  • In this, a large group of protesters participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police who opened fire.
  • In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants.
  • The incident led to the death of three civilians and 22 policemen.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the non-co-operation movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.

GOBARDHAN activities

  • Agriculture Ministry, Petroleum Ministry, Animal Husbandry Ministry, Jal Shakti Ministry and Ministry of State for Jal Shakti jointly launched a unified web portal for monitoring the progress of GOBARDHAN activities across the nation.
  • Gobardhan is an important component of Swachh Bharat  Mission Phase-2 for organic solid waste management.
  • At the rural level, earlier there was no way of proper disposal of cattle dung waste, but after the introduction of Gobardhan programme, people will be able to provide proper disposal of dung and achieve the goal of ODF Plus.
  • Gobardhan pilot project will prove to be an important and useful step in cleanliness. Through this farmers will be able to get wealth from waste in a true sense.
  • Apart from making the country ODF Plus, through the important scheme of Gobardhan, India will get ethanol, bio-diesel and compressed bio-fuel in the coming years.
  • The launch of unified portal of Gobardhan will further strengthen the rural economy through a convergent approach for various Biogas projects models and initiatives.
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