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21th February 2023

Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv


The US president made an unannounced visit to Ukraine to meet his counterpart President of Ukraine as the war completes a year.

  • This is the first visit to the war-torn nation since Russia’s invasion began on 24 February 2022.

What did the two leaders discuss? (Key-highlights)

  • Increased arms delivery: The US promised increased arms deliveries for Ukraine and vowed Washington’s “unflagging commitment” to defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
  • Financial assistance: The US announced an additional half-billion dollars in US assistance — on top of the more than $50 billion already provided — including shells for howitzers, anti-tank missiles, air surveillance radars and other aid but no new advanced weaponry. 
    • A further announcement in the White House of another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armour systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments.
  • Warning for Russia: There will be more sanctions on Russia.

Significance of visit

  • America is back: Biden’s visit to Kyiv is to underscore that the US is prepared to stick with Ukraine “as long as it takes” to repel Russian forces.
  • Strong support for Ukraine: For Ukraine, the symbolism of having the US president stand side by side with him on Ukrainian land as the anniversary nears is no small thing.
  • Defiance against Russia: The visit marked an act of defiance against Russia, who had hoped his military would swiftly overrun Kyiv within days.

Rattled by China, U.S. and allies are beefing up defenses in the Pacific


The provocative actions taken by China, North Korea and Russia have prompted the United States and its closest allies in the Indo-Pacific to ramp up military capabilities and deepen their cooperation. 


What prompted the US to ramp up activities in the Indo-Pacific Ocean?

  • North Korea’s record number of missile launches last year
  • Beijing’s “no limits” relationship with Moscow

Other Important Seas Shaping Geopolitics

As sites of trade, migration, and warfare, the world’s seas are natural geopolitical hotspots.

  • Black Sea
  • Red Sea
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Baltic Sea
  • China’s unrelenting expansion of militarized air bases in the South China Sea
  • Chinese spy balloon spotted over sensitive nuclear sites in Montana

How US allies are working towards the goal?

  • Japan: In December, Japan announced it will massively hike its defence budget and buy U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles.
  • Philippines: The Philippines would allow U.S. troops to access four additional military sites in the country.
  • Australia: The country is expected to unveil a path forward to acquire nuclear-powered submarines with the help of the United States and Britain — a plan that is likely to include rotational deployment of U.S. submarines in Australia to help the navy there train its crews.

What is India’s stand?

  • India, an important partner in the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, has been willing to cooperate with the United States in military exercises and most recently in defence technology.
  • But, keen to preserve its policy of strategic autonomy, it has avoided becoming part of any multilateral security arrangement or joining any coalition to pressure Russia or China.

India and Italy likely to announce defence agreement


India and Italy are expected to hold discussions about bilateral defence cooperation that is likely to be announced during Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s visit to India.



  • Meloni would be travelling to Delhi as chief guest of the Raisina Dialogue conference (March 2).
  • She will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, three months after they met on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in Bali.

Background (controversies surrounding the bilateral relations)

  • During 2012-2015, Italy-India ties nosedived over the arrest of two Italian marines for the killing of Kerala fishermen off the Indian coast.
  • In 2015, Italy also vetoed India’s application to join the exclusive club of countries in the Missile Technology Control Regime and lobbied for India to be designated a human rights violator at the European Parliament.
  • Subsequently, the Modi government decided to send the marines back to Italy, and the case was resolved mutually at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which declared that the marines had immunity when they shot at the Indian fishermen and not under Indian jurisdiction, and India chose not to appeal the verdict.
  • In addition, the controversy surrounding the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal disrupted bilateral relations as well as defence cooperation for several years.

Even so, Italy and India remained involved in some ways.

Diplomatic relations between India and Italy

  • Military Cooperation Group (MCG): The two countries also have a Military Cooperation Group (MCG).
    • MCG is a forum established to boost defence cooperation between the two countries through regular talks at the strategic and operational levels between Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff and the Joint Staff HQ of the Italian Armed Forces.
    • The 11th MCG meeting was held in June 2022 in New Delhi.
  • Engagement atmultilateral for a: India and Italy are also engaged in multilateral fora in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.
    • Last year, the Indian Navy joined the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a Bahrain-based, U.S.-led multilateral construct, as an associate partner.
  • IORA: Italy is also a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Dialogue Partner since 2019.
  • Italy is also evaluating the possibility of sending an International Liaison Partner to the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which also hosts several Liaison Officers and has emerged as a centre for maritime domain awareness in the region.

Government planning to reduce Army presence in J&K


The government is considering a plan to withdraw the Army from the interior of Kashmir in a phased manner and replace it with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. 


What is in the plan?

  • The government is discussing a proposal to withdraw the Indian Army completely from the Valley hinterland.
  • If approved, the Army will have a presence only on the Line of Control (LoC).
  • The idea is to have J&K Police along with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) fill in for the Army when it is withdrawn. 

The Strength (in numbers)

  • The Army maintains a strength of around 1.3 lakh personnel in the entire J&K of which around 80,000 are deployed on the border.
  • About 40,000-45,000 personnel from the Rashtriya Rifles have the mantle of conducting counter-terror operations in Kashmir’s hinterland.
  • The CRPF is said to have a strength of close to 60,000 personnel in J&K, of which more than 45,000 are deployed in Kashmir Valley.
  • J&K Police is 83,000 strong.
  • Apart from this, a few companies from other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) remain deployed in the Valley. The figures for CAPFs fluctuate depending on the security situation in the Valley.

The reason behind the move

  • To show (prove) normalcy: The idea behind the deliberations is to not just claim normalcy in Kashmir but also make it visible.
    • The government claims that terrorist violence incidents and the killing of security personnel in J&K have reduced by almost 50 per cent since August 5, 2019, compared with the same period before it.

Centre in final stages of notifying emissions trading scheme


After the passing of the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill last December, the Centre is now in the final stages of notifying an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that would require polluting industries to achieve certain standards of energy efficiency and permit them to ‘trade’ these improvements.


What is the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)?

  • Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) missions trading is a market-based approach to control pollution.

Kyoto Protocol

  • The Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement that aimed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the presence of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. 
  • Emissions trading, as set out in Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol, allows countries that have emission units to spare - emissions permitted them but not "used" - to sell this excess capacity to countries that are over their targets. 
  • By creating tradable pollution permits it attempts to add the profit motive as an incentive for good performance.
  • The main form of emissions trading is known as “cap and trade“:
    • acap on emissions is set and then permits are created up to the level of this cap.
  • The companies or other entities covered by the scheme need to hold one permit for every tonne of pollution (CO2e) they emit. 
  • Allowing trade in these permits puts a price on pollution – the cost of emitting one tonne of carbon dioxide is the cost of the permit – and creates flexibility as to how and where pollution is reduced.
  • Emissions trading is a central element of the Kyoto protocol in the form of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Why is it preferred?

  • This is preferable to other forms of pricing, such as carbon taxes, which do not guarantee any particular level of reduction.


  • Criticism is that emission trading has been marred by weak caps, free handouts of permits to the biggest polluters and the purchase of “offsets” – carbon credits bought from outside the cap-and-trade system from carbon reduction projects in the developing world.

9 Indian states among top vulnerable places in the world: Report


According to a recent ranking, the vast majority (80%) of 50 provinces facing the highest climate risk to their physical infrastructure by 2050 are in China, the US, and India.


The Report

  • Report: 2023 Gross Domestic ClimateRisk report
  • Released by: Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI)
  • The report calculated the physical climate risk to the built environment in over 2,600 states and provinces worldwide in 2050.

Key highlights of the Report

  • Asia dominated the list with 114 among the top 200 regions falling here. 
    • China had the highest number of regions, followed by India and the United States of America (USA).
    • India has nine states in the 50 high-risk states; China, has 26, and the US, has five.

What does it say about India?

  • Most Vulnerable: In India, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and Assam are the most vulnerable.
    • The ranking indicates underlining that India’s commercial capital, Mumbai is at high risk. 
  • Extreme event hotspots: Currently, with a 0.8 degrees rise in temperature, India’s 27 states and more than three-quarters of its districts are extreme event hotspots accounting for a 5 per cent loss in GDP. 
  • Economic loss: If global warming is not limited to 2-degree thresholds, climate-vulnerable states like Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, among others, will lose more than 10 per cent of their gross state domestic product (GSDP).
  • The Gross Domestic Climate Risk ranking reflects the physical risk to the built infrastructure from eight climate change hazards: riverine and surface flooding, coastal inundation (coastal flooding), extreme heat, forest fire, soil movement (drought-related), extreme wind and freeze-thaw. 

Concern for India

The Himalayas in the north, coastal areas in the south and the semi-arid region in central India — no part and sector of the country is spared.

  • Exposure to sea: India has one of the highest populations exposed to rising sea levels. 
  • Alarming urbanisation: In the next 15 years, 600 million Indians will be living in cities, which makes improving their adaptive capacities more urgent.
  • Hit on agriculture: In the agrarian economy, crop production is to be hit severely with rising cases of heat waves, drought, floods
  • Disease spread: Health hazards, especially communicable diseases, instances of widespread flu to increase

Suggestive Measures

  • Climate-oriented activities: India needs to integrate climate adaptation into its development by investing in
    • climate-smart agriculture
    • blue-green infrastructure (the infrastructure that capitalises on the benefits of working with green spaces and naturalised water flows)

Government Initiative to deal with climate change

  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): A solar power development project in collaboration with France. Launched in 2015, it’s an alliance of the “sunshine countries” with an objective of efficient utilization of solar energy. The alliance was formed with the vision of reducing the dependence on non-renewable sources of energy like fossil fuels.
  • One sun, one world, one grid project along with the United Kingdom: OSOWOG is based on the vision of building and scaling inter-regional energy grids to share solar energy across the globe. It can be the solution to most of our global problems in the energy sector.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission: The all-encompassing programme emphasized cleaning India and its cities and villages by providing toilets for every household.
  • COP26 Glasgow summit: The biggest and most important move by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on behalf of India committed;
    • To take India’s non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
    • To bring down the carbon intensity of India by more than 45% by 2030.
    • India will achieve the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2070.

Panel to assess impact of higher temperatures on Wheat Crop


India has set up a panel of officials to assess the impact of rising temperatures on the wheat crop, as the weather office warned that above-normal temperatures would prevail in key producing states.


About the Committee

  • India's agriculture commissioner will head the committee, and officials from the country's key wheat-growing states and government scientists will also be on the panel.
  • India is the world's second-biggest wheat producer. Earlier this month its production was likely to rise 4.1% to a record 112.2 million tonnes.
  • India is also the world's second-biggest consumer of wheat.

Important facts about the Crop

  • Wheat is the main cereal crop in India. In recent years, a major increase in the productivity of wheat has been observed in the states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Climatic requirement: Tropical and sub-tropical zones, temperate zone and the cold tracts (far north)
  • Soil: Soils with a clay loam or loam texture, good structure and moderate water-holding capacity are ideal for wheat cultivation.

Indian Wheat Growing Zones

The entire wheat growing areas of the country has been categorized into 6 major zones as follows


States/Regions Covered

Northern Hill Zone(NHZ)

Hilly areas of J&K( except Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts), Himachal Pradesh ( except Una &Paonta valley),Uttarakhand(excluding Tarai region) & Sikkim

North Western Plains Zone(NWPZ)

Punjab, Haryana, Western UP(except Jhansi Div), Rajasthan (excluding Kota & Udaipur div), Delhi, Tarai region of Uttarakhand, Una &Paonta valley of HP, Jammu, Samba&Kathua districts of J&K and Chandigarh.

North Eastern Plains Zone(NEPZ)

Eastern UP(28 dist), Bihar, Jharkhand, WestBengal, Assam, Odisha and other NE states (except Sikkim)

Central Zone

MP, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Kota& Udaipur Div of Rajasthan & Jhansi Div of UP.

Peninsular Zone

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu(except Nilgiris&Palani Hills),Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh

Southern Hill Zone(SHZ)

Nilgiris&Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu

Why higher temperature is a concern for the crop?

  • The optimum temperature range for ideal germination of wheat seed is 20-25 C though the seeds can germinate in the temperature range of 3.5 to 35 c.
  • Areas with a warm and damp climate are not suited for wheat growing.
  • This higher day temperature might lead to adverse effects on wheat approaching the reproductive growth period, which is sensitive to temperature. 
    • High temperature during flowering and maturing periods leads to a loss in yield.
    • The country grows only one wheat crop in a year, with planting in October and November and harvesting from March.

Short News Articles

International Relations

“DUSTLIK", joint military exercise between Indian and Uzbekistan

The fourth edition of "DUSTLIK", the joint military exercise between the Indian Army and the Uzbekistan Army started on in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. 

  • The first edition of the exercise was conducted in Uzbekistan in November 2019.
    • First edition- Uzbekistan’s Chirchiq Training Area.
    • Second edition- Foreign Training Node in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand
    • Third edition- Yangiarik, Uzbekistan
  • Objective:to enhance cooperation, understanding, and interoperability between the two armies.

Polity & Governance

International Mother Language Day

Every year, International Mother Language Day is observed on February 21 to highlight the cultural and linguistic diversity in the country.


  • The day was first observed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2000, following a resolution adopted at the 30th General Conference in November 1999.
  • Objective: to focus on the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable communities all over the map.
  • Theme 2023:Multilingual Education – A Necessity to Transform Education.

Polity & Governance

Centre approves construction of Shinkun La tunnel

In a significant step that will steel defence of Ladakh, government cleared a 4.1 kilometer tunnel under Shinkun La on Manali-Darcha-Padam-Nimu axis.


  • Length: 4.1 km.
  • Completion year: 2025
  • Benefits: 
    • would connect Ladakh’sZanskar Valley with the rest part of the country
    • allow all weather connectivity to the Union Territory
    • shortest route to the border areas of UT
    • continuous supply of troops and equipment in the worst case scenario with either of the two adversaries


Slow progress to creating a safe workplace for women


Unless society works incessantly to change the prevalent socio-cultural and economic structures, it could well be status quo.

The Background:

  • In a recent case of sexual harassment of sportswomen, the victims had to demonstrate a protest to get their voices herd and highlighting the non-functioning of internal committee.
  • The Vishaka guidelines on reporting harassment are meant to be followed by government and private institutions equally.
  • A specific offence relating to ‘sexual harassment’ (under Section 354-A) was inserted in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2013, the allegations largely fell under Section 509 (i.e., to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.
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