1. Reopening Kartarpur Corridor
- The Kartarpur corridor was closed in March 2020, just four months after it had been opened with much fanfare
- The government is considering reopening the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara corridor to Pakistan to allow Sikh pilgrims to cross over after it was shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Government is in a view to open the route by November 19, the birth anniversary of the Sikh founder Guru Nanak, known as Gurpurab or “Prakash Parv”.
- The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in the Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in the Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province.
- The agreement will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims who would just need a permit to cross over to Pakistan.
- The corridor was built to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism on 12th November 2019.
- Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti is observed on the full-moon day in the month of Katak to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539).
- He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ form of bhakti.
- He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities, and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
- He set up rules for congregational worship (Sangat) involving collective recitation.
- He appointed one of his disciples, Angad, to succeed him as the preceptor (guru), and this practice was followed for nearly 200 years.
- The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled Baba Guru Nanak’s hymns along with those of his four successors and also other religious poets, like Baba Farid, Ravidas (also known as Raidas), and Kabir, in the Adi Granth Sahib
- These hymns, called ‘Gurbani’, are composed in many languages.
- Kartarpur gurudwara is the revered shrine about 4km across the border where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.
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2. Devasahayam Pillai
- A Hindu man from the Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu, who converted to Christianity in the 18th century, is set to become by the Vatican on May 15, 2022.
- Devasahayam Pillai, who took the name ‘Lazarus’ in 1745, was first approved for sainthood for “enduring increasing hardships” after he decided to embrace Christianity.
- Devasahayam is said to have faced harsh persecution and imprisonment after he decided to convert to Christianity, ultimately resulting in his killing in 1752.
- While he was declared eligible for sainthood last year, the Vatican announced the date of the ceremony.
About Devasahayam Pillai
- Born on April 23, 1712, in the village of Nattalam in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari District, Devasahayam went on to serve in the court of Travancore’s Maharaja Marthanda Varma.
- It was here that he met a Dutch naval commander, who taught him about the Catholic faith.
- In 1745, soon after he was baptized, he assumed the name ‘Lazarus’, meaning ‘God is my help’.
- But he then faced the wrath of the Travancore state, which was against his conversion.
- His conversion did not go well with the heads of his native religion. He was imprisoned and subjected to harsh persecution.
- While preaching, he particularly insisted on the equality of all people, despite caste differences.
- On January 14, 1752, just seven years after he became a Catholic, Devasahayam was shot dead in the Aralvaimozhy forest.
- Since then, he has widely been considered a martyr by the Catholic community in South India. His body is now at Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in the Diocese of Kottar.
- In 2004, the diocese of Kottar in Kanyakumari, along with the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) recommended Devasahayam for beatification to the Vatican.
- In February, last year, the Vatican declared that he was eligible for sainthood.
- He was declared Blessed by the Kottar diocese in 2012, 300 years after his birth.
3. Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite
- Russia has carried out a Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite (DA-ASAT) test by shooting down an old satellite which has created huge debris in the low earth orbit, according to the U.S. space command.
- It drew sharp reactions from US officials who also said it endangered the International Space Station (ISS).
- According to the US space command, Russia has conducted the DA-ASAT test to shoot down an old Soviet Tselina-D SIGINT satellite, Kosmos-1408, which was launched in 1982 and had been dead for a long time.
- The test so far has generated more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and will likely generate hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris.
- While Russia has previously tested ASAT weapons, the DA-ASAT is more advanced and similar to the ones the US has in its inventory, according to observers.
- ASAT weapon gives the capability to destroy satellites in orbit disrupting the communications and surveillance capabilities of adversaries.
- Only a handful of countries have successfully demonstrated ASAT capability – China, India, Russia, and the U.S.
4. Mid-Year Trends 2021 report
Recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has published its Mid-Year Trends 2021 report on November 11, 2021.
Highlights of the report
- As many as 50.9 people were internally displaced across 33 countries due to conflict and violence in the first six months of 2021
- The number is nearly five percent more than the 48.6 million reported at the end of 2020
- The report showed that the trend of rising forced displacement continued into 2021, with global numbers now exceeding 84 million, this resulted largely from internal displacement.
- More than 4.3 million new displacements were reported by 18 countries — 50 percent more than the estimated 2.9 million people displaced during the same period in the previous year.
- Much of the new internal displacement were in Africa, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.3 million), Ethiopia (1.2 million), Central African Republic (202,500), South Sudan (170,400), Nigeria (164,600), Mozambique, and Burkina Faso.
- A crisis of governance and instability in the rural areas of Burkina Faso linked to the presence of armed insurgents impacted its civilians, fuelling the fastest growing internal displacement crisis.
- Internal and cross-border mobility in the East and Horn of Africa contributed to around 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDP) and 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2020 alone.
- Africa accounted for 80 percent of the most neglected displacement crises across the globe, according to a report by the humanitarian watchdog Norwegian Refugee Council.
- Violence in Myanmar and Afghanistan also forced 217,000 and 318,500 people from their homes between January and June 2021.
- The lethal mix of conflict, COVID-19, poverty, food insecurity, and the climate emergency has compounded the humanitarian plight of the displaced, most of whom are hosted in developing regions.
- Solutions for forcibly displaced populations remain in short supply.
- An estimated 936,000 IDPs, compared to just 126,700 refugees, were able to return home in the first six months of 2021.
- The UNHCR supported the development of a national durable solutions strategy in Somalia, representing an important milestone in finding solutions for many IDPs experiencing protracted displacement in the country.
- In Mozambique, UNHCR supported the government in developing a policy and strategy on displacement management that addresses all causes and phases of displacement.
5. SITMEX 2021
A trilateral naval exercise involving Singapore, India, and Thailand is being conducted in the Indian Ocean from 15 to 16 November.
- The Singapore-India-Thailand Maritime Exercise (SITMEX) 21 exercise is taking place in the Andaman Sea.
- It features the Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) Formidable-class frigate RSS Tenacious and the Royal Thai Navy’s (RTN) Khamrosin-class anti-submarine patrol craft HTMS Thayanchon.
- The Indian Navy is being represented by the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Karmuk missile corvette in the exercise.
- The RTN is hosting the two-day exercise, which is the third edition of SITMEX.
- SITMEX-21 will include a number of tactical training drills between the three navies such as naval maneuvers and surface warfare exercises.
- The first SITMEX exercise took place in September 2019 at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This lasted five days and was hosted by India.
- RSN hosted the second edition, SITMEX 20, last November.
- The Singapore Maritime Crisis Centre (SMCC) is currently developing a ‘next-generation sense-making system’ to allow Singapore to detect maritime security (MARSEC) threats as early as possible.
6. International Atomic Energy Agency
Iran has invited the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for talks after the UN official expressed concern over a lack of contact with Iranian authorities.
- Previously, the IAEA complained that it had been denied “indispensable” access to a centrifuge component manufacturing workshop where it needed to service equipment.
- Iran has produced more than 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium, far more than what the U.N. nuclear watchdog had reported.
- The 2015 deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
- The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.
- Under the deal with world powers, the other signatories were to provide Iran with 20% enriched uranium needed for its research reactor.
- Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran was prohibited from enriching uranium above 3.67% with the exception of its research reactor activities.
- Set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family.
- Reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
- Headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
- Works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
- Seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
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