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UPSC Key—12 September, 2023: India-Saudi Arabia, India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, Indian Football and Sports governance

Important topics and their relevance in UPSC CSE exam for September 12, 2023. If you missed the September 11, 2023 UPSC CSE exam key from the Indian Express, read it here

FRONT PAGE

Asian Cup prelims: India football coach gave details of players to astrologer, picked team on his advice

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- ON June 9, 2022, 48 hours before India were scheduled to face Afghanistan in a crucial Asian Cup qualifier in Kolkata, national football team coach Igor Stimac sent this message to Bhupesh Sharma, an astrologer from Delhi NCR, who was introduced to him by a top All India Football Federation (AIFF) official, The Indian Express has learnt. The “list” Stimac referred to had the names of the probable 11 for the game, a must-win for an out-of-form and injury-ridden India to remain in contention for the prestigious continental championship.

• What is the current state of football in India?

• What is All India Football Federation?

• Are you familiar with the long-term strategic plan known as Indian Football’s Vision 2047?

• What are the most remarkable achievements in Indian football history?

• Indian football is facing a period of decline in subsequent decades-what are the reasons?

• What problems do football players in India face?

• What is the prevailing framework of sports governance in India?

• What are the rules and regulations governing good governance in the field of sports?

• What are the concerns pertaining to sports governance in India?

• What strategies can be employed to tackle the challenges associated with sports governance?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Indian football has a deep-rooted governance problem. It won’t be solved by a FIFA suspension

📍Explained: Why FIFA has banned India, what happens to Indian football now

Previous year UPSC Prelims Question Covering similar theme:

📍Consider the following statements in respect of the Laureus World Sports Award which was instituted in the year 2000: (UPSC GS1, 2021)1. American golfer Tiger Woods was the first winner of this award.2. The award has been received mostly by ‘Formula One’ players so far.3. Roger Federer received this award a maximum number of times compared to others.Which of the above statements are correct?(a) 1 and 2 only(b) 2 and 3 only(c) 1 and 3 only(d) 1, 2 and 3Previous year UPSC Mains Question Covering similar theme:📍An athlete participates in the Olympics for personal triumph and nation’s glory; victors are showered with cash incentives by various agencies, on their return. Discuss the merit of state sponsored talent hunt and its cultivation as against the rationale of a reward mechanism as encouragement. (UPSC GS2, 2014)

On immunity to senior govt officers, SC says ’14 ruling retrospective

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- THE ALREADY struck down provision in the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, which made central government sanction mandatory for the CBI to prosecute officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above, will stand nullified from September 11, 2003, when it was inserted in the Act, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

• What exactly a five-judge Constitution bench presided by Justice S K Kaul said?

• First of all, what have you understood in this article? What’s the issue exactly?

• What was the 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India case?

• What is Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946?

• The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) draws its power from which act/statute?

• Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-Connect the dots

• Is CBI constitutional or non-constitutional or statutory body?

• ‘A five-judge Constitution bench presided by Justice S K Kaul said that its 2014 judgment in the Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India case, in which Section 6A(1) of the DSPE Act was held as invalid, will have retrospective effect’- What Section 6A(1) of the DSPE Act says?

• For Your Information- In its 2014 judgment, the court had said: “Section 6A(1), which requires approval of the central government to conduct any inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 where such allegation relates to (a) the employees of the central government of the level of Joint Secretary and above and (b) such officers as are appointed by the central government in corporations established by or under any central Act, government companies, societies and local authorities owned or controlled by the government, is invalid and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”On Monday, the bench said that “Section 6A of the DSPE Act is a part of the procedure only in the form of a protection to senior government servants. It does not introduce any new offence nor it enhances the punishment or sentence” and as such will not attract Article 20(1) of the Constitution.Article 20 (1) states that no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the Act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.The question arose when the court was hearing an appeal filed by the CBI challenging a Delhi High Court order in the case of a Chief District Medical Officer arrested while allegedly accepting a bribe.The matter, which came up before a two-judge bench, was then referred to the five-judge Constitution bench that pronounced its verdict on Monday.Delving into the history of the safeguards to government servants from prosecution, the five-judge bench said that “in 1969, the central government issued the Single Directive, which is a consolidated set of instructions issued to the CBI by various ministries/departments and has been amended from time to time”.“Directive No.4.7(3) contained instructions regarding modalities of initiating an enquiry or registering a case against certain categories of civil servants and provided for a prior sanction of the designated authority to initiate investigation against officers of the government and public sector undertakings and nationalized banks above a certain level,” it said.This was held as invalid by the Supreme Court in its December 18, 1997 judgment in Vineet Narain case.The requirement of sanction similar to Single Directive No.4.7(3) was introduced by way of an ordinance with effect from August 25, 1998 and it lasted till October 27, 1998 when it lapsed. Thereafter, in 2003, Section 6A, akin to the Single Directive, was inserted in the DSPE Act, but was held invalid in the 2014 judgment.However, Parliament again inserted Section 17A in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 with effect from July 26, 2018 and it has continued to remain in the statute book, the bench noted, adding that it also provided for sanction before prosecution but without any classification of government servants. “All government servants of whatever category, class, or level, are provided protection under Section 17A of the PC Act, 1988,” it said.“From the above, we notice that there are small windows of couple of years on two occasions when there was no such protection available, otherwise, right from 1969, the protection regarding sanction before prosecution has remained in force and continues as such even now,” the ruling said.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Explained: What is ‘general consent’ for the CBI, now withdrawn by Meghalaya?

Post-G20, India and Saudi Arabia build on corridor, strategic ties

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Days after the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), an ambitious infrastructure project to connect India to Europe via West Asia, was unveiled at the G20 Summit, India and Saudi Arabia on Monday signed eight agreements to boost cooperation in a range of areas — from energy to interconnectivity, digitalisation and electronic manufacturing to finance and security. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who was on a day-long State visit on Monday after the conclusion of the G20 Summit.

• What is India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)?

• For Your Information-The rail and shipping corridor is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII) — a collaborative effort by G7 nations to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations. PGII is considered to be the bloc’s counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.The project will aim to enable greater trade among the involved countries, including energy products. “It could also be one of the more ambitious counters to China’s massive infrastructure program, through which it has sought to connect more of the world to that country’s economy,” AP said.The corridor will include a rail link as well as an electricity cable, a hydrogen pipeline and a high-speed data cable, according to a document prepared by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The document also called the project “a green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations.”Speaking to AP, Jon Finer, President Biden’s principal deputy national security adviser, gave three major reasons for developing the corridor. First, it would increase prosperity among the countries involved through an increased flow of energy and digital communications. Second, the project would help deal with the lack of infrastructure needed for growth in lower- and middle-income nations. And third, it could help “turn the temperature down” on “turbulence and insecurity” coming out of the Middle East, Finer said, according to AP.“We see this as having a high appeal to the countries involved, and also globally, because it is transparent, because it is a high standard because it is not coercive,” he added. Moreover, the project could be seen as Biden’s attempt to further strengthen the G20 group to counter the dominance of China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

• The IMEC will include two separate corridors-Know them and mark them on map

• Can you mark or sketch the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) on world map?

• Which are the key places, water bodies and industrial belt in India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor? Mark them on the map

• What is the objective behind this corridor?

• What is the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council?

• For Your Information-The pact to establish the SPC was signed during PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019, his second in three years. The Strategic Partnership Council essentially aimed to “establish a high-level council to steer the Indo-Saudi relationship”, according to a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement.PM Modi had then said that the SPC would “begin a new era of cooperation across sectors. Our ties across various dimensions such as trade, investment, security and defence cooperation are robust and deep, and will only strengthen further.”According to the MEA, the SPC has two main pillars: Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation; and Committee on Economy and Investments.Both sub-committees have four functional levels of engagements: Summit level (Prime Minister & Crown Prince); Ministerial-level; Senior Officials’ Meetings; and Joint Working Groups (JWGs).Four JWGs have been formed under each sub-committee. The JWGs under the Political committee are Political & Consular; Legal & Security; Social & Cultural; and Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation.The JWGs under the Economic committee are Agriculture & Food Security; Energy; Technology & Information Technology; and Industry and Infrastructure.In September 2022, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal visited Saudi Arabia to attend the Ministerial meeting of the SPC. From the Saudi side, the Minister for Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, co-chaired the meeting.Outcomes from that meeting included streamlining efforts to realise the announcement made by Mohammad Bin Salman during his visit to India in February 2019, of investments worth $100 billion in India.The meeting also saw the “endorsement of the 41 areas of cooperation identified by the technical teams under the four broad domains of Agriculture & Food Security; Energy; Technology & IT; and Industry & Infrastructure,” according to a Press Information Bureau (PIB) statement.The PIB listed as another outcome the “agreement to undertake implementation of the priority projects in a time bound manner. Priority areas of cooperation include: Collaboration in digital fintech sector through operationalisation of UPI and Rupay Card in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Re-affirmation of continued cooperation in joint projects including the West coast refinery, LNG infrastructure investment and development of strategic petroleum storage facilities in India.”

• How India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is different from China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI)?

• India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) and China’s Belt and Road initiative-Compare and contrast

• To what degree will the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) contribute to the enhancement of India’s external trade?

• What will be the challenges in implementing India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)?

• Map Work-Saudi Arabia

• What is the Economic Significance of the Saudi Arabia for India?

• India and the Saudi Arabia diplomatic relations established when?

• What is the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council?

• Gulf Cooperation Council and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-compare and contrast

• Gulf Cooperation Council, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and India-Connect the dot

• Is India Member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation?

• What is the Status of India’s relationship with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)?

• What does the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) do?

• Which countries include in Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)?

• Why is the Gulf and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) important for India?

• How much trade does India do with Gulf countries?

• How much oil does India import?

• How many Indians work in the Gulf, and how much remittance do they send?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor: What is the project and why is it being proposed?

📍PM Modi, Saudi Crown Prince MBS chair SPC meeting: What is the Strategic Partnership Council

📍Why the Gulf matters for India

📍Explained: Why Saudi Arabia matters to India

Centre plans to open TRAI chairperson’s post to private sector

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story– In a move to open up key regulatory posts to the private sector, the Centre is considering an amendment to the TRAI Act, 1997, which would lay down specific requirements to enable senior corporate executives to become the chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

• What are the changes being considered under the upcoming Telecommunications Bill?

• Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022-Know the highlights of the bill

• The draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022 proposed to dilute some crucial powers and responsibilities of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on issuing new licences to service providers-Know the powers and functions of TRAI

• Telecom Regulatory Authority of India -Role and Mandate

• What is the Composition of TRAI?

• How TRAI Chairperson of the TRAI is selected?

• Know about the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Protection) Act, 1950

• How these three acts (the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and The Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Protection) Act, 1950) governs the telecommunication sector in India?

• For Your Information-According to sources, this would essentially mean an amendment to Section 4 of the TRAI Act, 1997, under which the Centre is empowered to appoint the chairperson and members of the regulatory body who have “special knowledge of, and professional experience in, telecommunication, industry, finance, accountancy, law, management or consumer affairs”.The government official said there have been no appointments from the private sector for the post so far, since the basic eligibility criteria was never laid down. “Besides, the changes being mulled also signal that TRAI has evolved as a regulator over the years and could now do well under a person from the private sector,” said sources.According to the current rules, a TRAI member must have held the post of Secretary or Additional Secretary to the Government of India, or any equivalent post in the central or state government, for at least three years. However, no rules are specified for the post of chairperson.“While technically, the chairperson could have been appointed from the private sector, the government had so far stayed away from appointing such an individual due to obvious concerns of conflict of interest. But the changes being considered now signal the changing mindset of the Centre towards opening up key regulatory posts for individuals from the private sector,” said the official.The current TRAI chairperson, P D Vaghela, is a Gujarat-cadre 1986-batch IAS officer, and was earlier Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals. His predecessor, R S Sharma, a Jharkhand-cadre 1978-batch IAS officer, was the IT Secretary from 2014 to 2015.TRAI’s first chairperson S S Sodhi, who was in office from 1997 till 2000, was former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. Its second chairperson, M S Verma, who demitted office in 2003, was former chairman of the State Bank of India. So far, they are the only two non-IAS officers who served as TRAI chairpersons.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Draft Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022

EXPRESS NETWORK

Nipah virus alert in Kerala’s Kozhikode

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Two people have died and four others are under treatment after contracting Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. The four persons undergoing treatment are close relatives of one of the victims. Meanwhile, confirming the two deaths, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Tuesday said a central team of experts has been sent to the state to take stock of the situation and assist the government in the management of the Nipah virus infection.Earlier, the Department of Health had sounded an alert in the district following the two deaths.

• What is the Nipah virus infection?

• Do You Know-Nipah is a zoonotic disease, which means it is transmitted to humans through infected animals or contaminated food. It can also be transmitted directly from person to person through close contact with an infected person, the WHO says. Its symptoms, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fever, headache, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, and vomiting.In severe cases, disorientation, drowsiness, seizures, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) can occur, progressing to coma and death.

• How is Nipah transmitted?

• How fast does the Nipah virus spread?

• How is Nipah transmitted?

• For Your Information-The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999). The virus takes its name from the village in Malaysia where the person in whom the virus was first isolated died of the disease.The transmission from animals happens mainly through consumption of contaminated food. According to the CDC, transmission can happen due to “consumption of raw date palm sap or fruit that has been contaminated with saliva or urine from infected bats. Some cases of NiV [Nipah] infection have also been reported among people who climb trees where bats often roost.”The animal host reservoir for this virus is known to be the fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox. Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.Humans get infected mainly through direct contact with these animals, or through consumption of food contaminated by saliva or urine of these infected animals. But human-to-human transmission is also considered possible. The CD says “person-to-person spread of NiV is regularly reported in Bangladesh and India. This is most commonly seen in the families and caregivers of NiV-infected patients, and in healthcare settings.”Since it was first identified in 1998-99, there have been multiple outbreaks of the Nipah virus, all of them in South and Southeast Asian nations. In Bangladesh, there have been at least 10 outbreaks since 2001.In India, West Bengal had seen an outbreak in 2001 and 2007, while Kerala had reported several cases in 2018, and isolated cases in 2019 and 2021.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Nipah kills two in Kerala: What is this virus, why is it dangerous even though it doesn’t spread fast

THE EDITORIAL PAGE

CAUTIOUSLY ON AI

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The G20 Delhi Declaration stresses the importance of responsible artificial intelligence (AI) practices, including the protection of human rights, transparency, fairness, and accountability. This month, the G7 nations agreed to draft an international AI code of conduct, focusing on drawing voluntary company commitments to prevent harm. Approximately 700 policy instruments are being discussed to regulate AI. A broad agreement exists on the regulatory principles even though there is minimal intervention in the mechanism to realise them. The root of many concerns lies in control, or the potential lack thereof.

• “As fire once illuminated dark caves, AI now lights up our digital age, redefining progress”-Comment

• What is Artificial Intelligence?

• India and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-Know in detail

• How is artificial intelligence (AI) currently governed?

• NITI Aayog and National Strategy for AI and the Responsible AI for All report-Know in detail

• What are the use of AI in different areas?

• Is Artificial Intelligence a Human-stein Monster?

• Artificial Intelligence (AI) given the tag of a Sunrise Technology-why?

• ‘AI is not intelligence and idea that AI will replace human intelligence is unlikely’-Comment

• Why AI regulation is needed?

• If Regulated then what should be the limit?

• If regulated, then what are the risks associated with regulating AI?

• What has been India’s Response to demands for AI Regulation?

• AI presents well-documented challenges in biased models, privacy issues, and opaque decision-making, impacting diverse sectors-what are they?

• Do You Know-According to Stanford’s Artificial Index Report of 2023, private investment in AI has increased 18-fold since 2013, and company adoption has doubled since 2017. McKinsey projects that the annual value of AI could range from $17.1 trillion to $25.6 trillion. AI is on the ascent, with rising capabilities, affordable access, and widespread applications. Its potential is as captivating as the gravity of its risks.AI presents well-documented challenges in biased models, privacy issues, and opaque decision-making, impacting diverse sectors. Generative AI’s rise risks tarnishing public discourse integrity with misinformation, disinformation, influence operations and personalised persuasion strategies, potentially eroding social trust. As AI begins to weave into the defence frameworks of nation-states, there is a risk that its inexplicable hallucinations and unchecked analyses might trigger unanticipated and unmanageable military escalations.Within the web of challenges, the possibility of Artificial General Intelligence has been cited as the towering danger. Concerns around rogue yet powerful AI systems, or those hijacked by malicious actors, have risen. The chilling potential for AI to autonomously chart its course, duplicate its capabilities and evolve unchecked has been articulated as a very real possibility in the years ahead.In 2023, in response to these challenges, global institutions undertook pivotalinterventions. The draft EU AI Act and the US’s voluntary safeguards framework announced in concurrence with seven AI firms are two such interventions.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍The 360° UPSC Debate: Should Artificial Intelligence Be Regulated?

EXPLAINED

India-Europe trade, c. 100 CE

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: History of India

Mains Examination: General Studies I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor announced at the G20 Summit harkens to an ancient trade route between the subcontinent and the Roman Empire. The existence of this trade, which peaked in the early centuries of the common era, has been known for long; however, evidence of its scale — eclipsing the more romanticised overland Silk Road— has only recently emerged strongly. William Dalrymple’s upcoming book, The Golden Road, delves into this subject in detail. Here, he speaks to The Indian Express regarding the ancient Red Sea trade route, much bigger and historically more significant than the overland route from China.

• What do we know about the ancient Red Sea trade route?

• Do You Know-For years, we have known that there was trade between Rome and India in Antiquity. Sir Mortimer Wheeler was digging south of modern Pondicherry at Arikamedu in the 1930s and 40s, and established the existence of Indo-Roman trade in the 1st century CE. However, he incorrectly interpreted his finds solely in terms of Roman merchants trading to India: he failed to give Indian merchants and ship owners any agency in this trade, which they undoubtedly had. Also, no one, I think, realised the scale of this trade. According to latest estimates, custom taxes on the Red Sea trade with India, Persia, and Ethiopia may have generated as much as one-third of the income of the Roman exchequer. The principal source for this striking figure is the Muziris Papyrus — a document taken out by an Alexandria-based Egypto-Roman financier for the purchase of goods from an Indian merchant based in far-away Muziris on the coast of Kerala. The Papyrus gives precise details of one particular cargo sent to the Egyptian port of Berenike from Muziris aboard the ship Hermapollon. The total value of the goods — calculated as worth 131 talents, “enough to purchase 2,400 acres of the best farmland in Egypt” or “a premium estate in central Italy” — is jaw-dropping. And a single trading ship such as the Hermapollon could apparently carry several such consignments, each worth a small fortune.

• How much would the Roman Empire earn from such a cargo?

• What was being traded on this route?

• What about the trade from Rome to India?

• Was there trade on this route before the Common Era?

• How organised was the trade, and how long did a typical journey take?

• What roles did Indians have in this trade?

• How does this route compare with the Silk Road?

• Why is the scale of Indo-Roman trade emerging only now? Is it just the discovery of new evidence, or something more?

• Now that we are learning about India’s centrality in this trade, what is next?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Pepper: The magic spice from Kerala that triggered global trade, drained the Romans and spawned new empires

THE WORLD

Kim to visit Russia, both sides confirm

Syllabus:

Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (September 12). The two leaders are expected to discuss the possibility of North Korea providing Moscow with weapons to support its invasion of Ukraine. Kim reached the country from Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, in his favoured mode of transport: a swanky, bulletproof but agonisingly slow train. Since he assumed power in 2011, Kim has predominantly gone abroad by train, much like his father and grandfather, piquing curiosity about it.

• Is it unusual for Kim and Putin to meet?

• Map Work-North Korea, Russia, and Border between these two countries

• Do You Know-This is the first time in four years and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that Kim has gone abroad — North Korea had sealed its border at the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and opened it only recently by sending a large group of taekwondo athletes and officials to an international competition last month.Moreover, the reclusive leader is known to rarely go on foreign trips. His first overseas trip came in 2018, about seven years after he assumed power as North Korea’s president. One of his last trips came in April 2019 to the Russian port city of Vladivostok for his first summit with Putin.But that meeting “was almost an afterthought amid the flashier meetings with then US President Donald Trump and multiple visits to meet with North Korea’s only treaty ally and main economic partner, China,” Reuters said. Over the years, Russia-North Korea relations have seen several highs and lows. And until now, they have been far from being allies. For instance, in the late 2000s, Russia twice supported UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea over what was then a nascent nuclear weapons and missile programme. The upcoming summit, however, seems to be an attempt to boost ties between the two nations. That’s why it has grabbed the attention of analysts as well as the Western countries.

• What does Russia want from North Korea?

• What does North Korea want from Russia?

• What could be the other likely outcomes of the meeting?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

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📍Kim Jong Un to meet Vladimir Putin: Is it unusual? What do the two leaders need from each other?

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