Daily Current Affairs 28.03.2021 (Bangladesh Liberation War, Teesta River, Disinvestment)

Daily Current Affairs 28.03.2021 (Bangladesh Liberation War, Teesta River, Disinvestment)


1. Millions depend on Teesta, Hasina tells Modi

Dhaka underlines need to conclude water sharing agreement at bilateral talks during PM’s visit

Bangladesh on Saturday reiterated that the livelihood of “millions” of its citizens depended on Teesta river and the country should receive a proper share of its waters.

The forceful message on the issue was conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina during bilateral talks at the end of a two-day visit by the Indian PM.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh’s long-pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of Teesta river. She underscored that to alleviate the sufferings and save the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on the Teesta river basin, it is necessary that Bangladesh receives its fair share of the waters, the draft agreement of which has already been agreed upon by both governments in January 2011,” declared a joint statement issued at the end of bilateral discussions between the two delegations.

Sharing of resources

The two leaders also instructed their Ministries of Water Resources to firm up the Framework of Interim Agreement over the six common rivers — Monu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

Sharing of water resources has been a contentious issue between the two neighbours because of the number of stakeholders.

The two Prime Ministers also agreed that the incidents of killings along the settled Indo-Bangladesh borders is a matter of concern and instructed their respective border guards to initiate “people-oriented” border management.

The Joint Statement said the leaders have expressed their desire to bring the number of such incidents involving civilians to ‘zero’.

The killing of citizens of Bangladesh along the borders has been at the centre of bilateral ties over the last decade. India reiterated its demand for completion of border fencing by Bangladesh “at the earliest”.

Bangladesh has called upon India to revive the jute sector with investment and through public private partnership. In this regard, Dhaka urged Delhi to withdraw the duties that were imposed on jute products of Bangladesh since 2017.

Both sides reviewed a slew of measures that have been under way over the last several years that will ease connectivity between the northeastern States of India and West Bengal. The two Prime Ministers on Saturday inaugurated the Mitali Express, a new AC train that will connect Jalpaiguri with Dhaka.

Bangladesh also offered the airports of Sylhet and Chittagong for the passengers of the Northeastern States, especially of Tripura saying these airports will help in improving connectivity in the region.

Teesta River

  • Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
  • It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • Originally, the river continued southward to empty directly into the Padma River (main channel of Ganga in Bangladesh) but around 1787 the river changed its course to flow eastward to join the Jamuna river.
  • The Teesta Barrage dam helps to provide irrigation for the plains between the upper Padma and the Jamuna.
  • Teesta river water conflict is one of the most contentious issues between India and Bangladesh.

Teesta river dispute:

Negotiations on how to share the water have been going on since 1983.

2011 interim deal – that was supposed to last 15 years – gave India 42.5 percent of the Teesta’s waters and gave Bangladesh 37.5 percent. Bengal opposed this deal so it was shelved and remains unsigned.

Bangladesh sought a fair and equitable distribution of Teesta waters from India, on the lines of the Ganga Water Treaty 1996.

The treaty is an agreement to share surface waters at the Farakka Barrage near their mutual border.

In 2015, the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Dhaka generated expectations to take forward the issue but it still remains unresolved.
However, In India, individual states have significant influence over trans-boundary agreements, impeding the policymaking process.

West Bengalis one of the key stakeholders of the Teesta agreement and is yet to endorse the deal.

Importance of Teesta River:

For Bangladesh:

Its flood plain covers about 14% of the total cropped area of Bangladesh and provides direct livelihood opportunities to approximately 73% of its population.

For West Bengal:

Teesta is the lifeline of North Bengal and almost half a dozen of districts of West Bengal are dependent on the waters of Teesta.

2. Disinvestment goal achievable; LIC IPO to fetch 1 lakh cr.: CEA

Inflation targeting helped in lowering volatility, level of inflation, he says

Asserting that the disinvestment target of ₹1.75 lakh crore for 2021-22 was ‘eminently achievable,’ Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) K. V. Subramanian on Saturday said the proposed initial public offering (IPO) by LIC itself could garner ₹1 lakh crore for the government.

He also said targeting of retail inflation by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has helped bring down the volatility and level of inflation.

The RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee has been mandated to maintain annual inflation at 4% until March 31, 2021, with an upper tolerance of 6% and lower limit of 2%. Speaking at a virtual conference organised by Jana Small Finance Bank, the CEA said the disinvestment target of ₹1.75 lakh crore for FY22 is actually a carry-over of the ₹2.10 lakh crore target set for the current fiscal ending March 31. “Of this, BPCL privatisation and LIC listing itself were important contributors. There are estimates suggesting ₹75,000-₹80,000 crore or even higher can just come from the privatisation of BPCL. LIC IPO could bring in ₹1 lakh crore approximately,” he said. With regard to LIC’s IPO, the Centre has already had amendments in the LIC Act passed through Finance Bill 2021 in Parliament.

Mr. Subramanian also emphasised that India needed a lot more banks for meeting its growth potential. He cited the example of the U.S. which, with one-third the India’s population, has about 25,000-30,000 banks.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Fund raising through Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2019 stood at Rs 12,362 crore, lowest since 2014 when companies raised Rs 1,201 crore through IPOs.

  • However, fund-raising through Offers-For-Sale (OFS) and Qualified Institutional Placements (QIPs) remained higher in 2019 as compared to 2018.
  • The overall amount raised through Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and Real estate Investment Trusts (ReITs) was 127% more than in previous year.

Initial Public Offering

  • IPO is the selling of securities to the public in the primary market.
  • Primary market deals with new securities being issued for the first time. It is also known as the new issues market.
  • It is different from secondary market where existing securities are bought and sold. It is also known as the stock market or stock exchange.
  • It is when an unlisted company makes either a fresh issue of securities or an offer for sale of its existing securities or both for the first time to the public.
  • Unlisted companies are companies that are not listed on the stock exchange.
  • It is generally used by new and medium-sized firms that are looking for funds to grow and expand their business.

Offer for Sale

  • Under this method, securities are not issued directly to the public but are offered for sale through intermediaries like issuing houses or stock brokers.
  • In this case, a company sells securities enbloc at an agreed price to brokers who, in turn, resell them to the investing public.

Qualified Institutional Placements

  • A QIP is a capital raising tool wherein a listed company can issue equity shares, fully and partly convertible debentures, or any security (other than warrants) that is convertible to equity shares.
  • A listed company is a firm whose shares are listed (quoted) on a stock exchange for public trading. It is also called quoted company.
  • It is a method of private placement whereby a listed company can issue shares or convertible securities to a select group of investors.
  • But unlike in an IPO, only institutions or Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs) can participate in a QIP issuance.
  • QIBs include mutual funds, domestic financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, venture capital funds, foreign institutional investors, and others.

Infrastructure Investment Trust

  • InvIT is a collective investment scheme similar to a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of money from individual and institutional investors in infrastructure projects to earn a small portion of the income as return.
  • The InvITs are regulated by the SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014.

Real estate Investment Trust

  • ReITs are securities linked to real estate that can be traded on stock exchanges once they get listed.
  • The structure of ReITs is similar to that of a mutual fund. Just like mutual funds, there are sponsors, trustees, fund managers and unit holders in ReITs.
  • However, unlike mutual funds, where the underlying asset is bonds, stocks and gold, ReITs invest in physical real estate.
  • The money collected is deployed in income-generating real estate. This income gets distributed among the unit holders. Besides regular income from rents and leases, gains from capital appreciation of real estate also form an income for the unit holders.

3. The Afghan endgame

What is the U.S. proposal on pulling out troops and how is India involved in peace negotiations?

The story so far: As the May 1 deadline for pulling out all American troops from Afghanistan nears, United States President Joe Biden faces some difficult decisions. The U.S. could abide by the promise made in the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in February 2020 to withdraw the last of the around 2,500 American marines stationed in Afghanistan, but Mr. Biden has said it would be tough given the levels of violence there. The U.S. could negotiate with the Taliban for an extension of the agreement, offering other incentives like the release of more prisoners and the delisting of sanctioned Taliban terrorists, although the Taliban has thus far rejected that suggestion. The other option is that the U.S. could scrap the 2020 agreement and back the Ashraf Ghani government to continue towards a negotiated settlement, even as U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan to stabilise the security situation.

What is the U.S. likely to do?

During his visit to Delhi last week, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said an extensive review of the U.S.’s plans for Afghanistan is still under way and that “no decision on the length of stay or troop numbers have been made to this point”. At a press conference, Mr. Biden said he did not foresee U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan “for a long time” or until 2022, but that adhering to the May 1 commitment at this point would be “hard”. No U.S. troops have been targeted by Taliban militants in the past year, but violence against Afghan civilians, particularly women, journalists, students and activists has gone up manifold, and despite the peace agreement, more than 3,000 civilians were killed in 2020. The U.S. has shown some impatience with the Ghani government as well, believing that it is dragging its feet on intra-Afghan negotiations that began last year in Doha but have stalled for the moment. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a letter, which has been leaked and not denied, that Mr. Ghani must understand the “urgency of [his] tone” as he proposed a new peace plan. The plan proposes that Mr. Ghani step up negotiations with the Taliban for “power-sharing”, discuss principles of future governance with the Taliban, and step aside eventually for a “more inclusive” or interim government. The tone of the letter seems to make it clear that the U.S. is not in favour of completely scrapping the 2020 agreement. Therefore, it is most likely to pursue the option of negotiating for an extension of the agreement, according to experts, as it builds other dialogue platforms.

What are those platforms?

Apart from the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, the U.S. revealed this month that it has been part of a “Troika” with Russia and China that have met several times since March 2019 along with Pakistan in search of a regional solution. The extended Troika met last on March 18 in Moscow, where Turkey, Qatar and Afghan and Taliban leaders were also invited.

In his letter, Mr. Blinken proposed another mechanism for regional envoys to be led by the United Nations, which would include India and Iran as well. The next round of intra-Afghan Negotiations will be hosted in Istanbul in April, according to Mr. Blinken’s proposal.

What is President Ghani’s plan?

Mr. Ghani has proposed his own peace plan. The plan was announced by Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar during his visit to Delhi this week, where he reached out for support. It would involve a full ceasefire, inviting the Taliban to participate in early elections in Afghanistan, and then for Mr. Ghani to hand over power to the elected government.

Mr. Atmar told The Hindu that the proposal was a “generous” offer from Mr. Ghani, who has completed just a little over a year in his present term as President. He also said no regional talks could be successful if they did not include India, which is a development partner and a stakeholder, and called the Troika meet in Moscow that did not include India, ostensibly due to objections from Pakistan and China, a mistake.

Where does India stand?

India’s position has been to back an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led, Afghan-controlled” peace process, backing the elected government in Kabul, and it has not yet held talks with the Taliban directly. As a result, its option remains to stand with the Ghani government and support the constitution that guarantees a democratic process and rights of women and minorities, over any plans the Taliban might have if they come to power.

At the same time, India has not foreclosed the option of talking to the Taliban if it does join the government in Afghanistan, and, in a first step, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addressed the Doha inauguration of intra-Afghan talks last year. The government has not yet announced a special envoy on Afghanistan who could be a part of the UN-led process for regional countries, but it has made it clear that it seeks to be an integral part of the process, as the outcomes will have a deep impact on India’s security matrix as well.

4. Permanent commission for women in Army

Why has the Supreme Court issued fresh directions on the process of evaluation?

The story so far: The Supreme Court in Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya last February directed the government to ensure that women officers in the Army are granted permanent commission (PC) as well as command postings in all services other than combat. Later, questioning the compliance of the Army with the directions in the judgment, around 80 women short service commission officers approached the Supreme Court challenging the arbitrary process, including unjust medical standards, applied to deny permanent commission to women officers. On March 25, the Supreme Court in Lt. Col. Nitisha vs. Union of India held that the Army’s selective evaluation process discriminated against and disproportionately affected women officers seeking permanent commission.

What did the Supreme Court observe?

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed that the pattern of evaluation inherently caused economic and psychological harm to women short service commission officers. The judgment, authored by Justice Chandrachud, said the evaluation criteria set by the Army constituted “systemic discrimination” against the petitioners.

The Bench found several deviations in the standards adopted by the Army for evaluating women officers. “This disproportionate impact is attributable to the structural discrimination against women, by dint of which the facially neutral criteria of selective ACR [annual confidential reports] evaluation and fulfilling the medical criteria to be in SHAPE-1 at a belated stage, to secure PC [permanent commission] disproportionately impacts them vis-à-vis their male counterparts,” the court said in its judgment. Fitness is assessed under five categories, under the code letter SHAPE that includes psychological including cognitive function abnormalities, hearing, appendages, physical capacity and eyesight.

The court observed that the reliance placed on women officers’ ACRs for determining the grant of permanent commission was unfair.

What is the procedure for granting permanent commission?

In 1992, the Union Government issued a notification making women eligible for appointment as officers in select non-combat branches. In 2008, the government extended the permanent commission to women in two branches — Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).

In a long legal battle for equality, 322 women officers had approached the top court for granting permanent commission, and the Supreme Court delivered its landmark verdict in February 2020. In July 2020, the Defence Ministry issued the government sanction letter, specifying grant of permanent commission to women officers in all streams in which they are presently serving — Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) and Intelligence Corps.

How did the Army respond to the sanction letter?

Following the sanction letter, the Army constituted a special selection board for screening women officers for grant of permanent commission who joined the service through the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) and Short Service Commission Women (SSCW). Of the 365 optee officers who were considered fit for permanent commission by the Special No. 5 Selection Board, 277 women short service commission officers (WSSCOs) were granted permanent commission after medical scrutiny. However, some petitioners said the process followed was arbitrary and challenged it in the top court.

What are the fresh directives?

The Supreme Court noted that the Army’s process of benchmarking women officers against the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch is “irrational and arbitrary”, and said this requirement should be removed. All women officers who have fulfilled the cut-off grade of 60% in the Special Selection Board held in September 2020 shall be entitled to the grant of permanent commission, the judgment said, subject to their meeting the prescribed medical criteria and receiving disciplinary and vigilance clearance.

“In the spirit of true equality with their male counterparts in the corresponding batches, the WSSCOs must be considered medically fit for grant of PC by reliance on their medical fitness, as recorded in the 5th or 10th year of their service,” the court said. Other than “non-optees”, the cases of all WSSCOs, including the petitioners who have been rejected on medical grounds, shall be reconsidered within a month and orders for the grant of permanent commission must be issued within two months. Further, the court directed that the method of evaluation of ACRs and the cut-off must be reviewed for future batches to assess a disproportionate impact on WSSCOs who became eligible for the grant of permanent commission in the subsequent years of their service.

Also, for the Babita Puniya case, the court held that for officers within the service bracket of 10 to 14 years who have been denied permanent commission, it has allowed them to continue in service till they attain 20 years of pensionable service.

5. New species of red algae seen in West, South-East Indian coast

Two new species of seaweed have been discovered by a group of marine biologists from Central University of Punjab, Bathinda. Named Hypnea indica (after India) and Hypnea bullata (because of the blisterlike marks on its body – bullate), the seaweeds are part of the genus Hypnea or red seaweeds.

They grow in the intertidal regions of the coast, namely the area that is submerged during the high tide and exposed during low tides. The discovery was recorded in the journal Botanica Marina.

Adding to the number

The genus Hypnea consists of calcareous, erect, branched red seaweeds. “There are 61 species of which 10 were reported in India. With our two new species, the total number of species now would be 63,” says Felix Bast, from the Department of Botany, in the University, who led the research.

While Hypnea indica was discovered Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, and Somnath Pathan and Sivrajpur in Gujarat, Hypnea bullata was discovered from Kanyakumari and Diu island of Daman and Diu.

To rule out the possibility that the species had been around earlier, but that now had been documented, the researchers compared characteristics of these specimens with all the 61 currently accepted species of Hypnea one by one.

“Comparison not only included morphology, but also DNA sequences. Such a polyphasic approach combining morphology (traditional) with DNA sequencing (modern) is the gold standard in species discoveries in taxonomy these days,” says Dr. Bast.

Chance discovery

The researchers were on a routine survey and collected a large number of species. “Our heuristics involve making a checklist of obviously known species (by carefully examining the morphology) and shortlisting unique specimens that do not conform to existing species descriptions. Such unique specimens would be subjected to DNA barcoding to check homology with other sequences worldwide (to reduce the costs).” Dr. Bast explains.

Food industry

Species of Hypnea contain the biomolecule carrageenan, which is widely used in the food industry.

As the two species have been found on the west and south east coasts of India, it suggests good prospects for their cultivation which can be put to good use economically.

The study also reports one other species of Hypnea for the first time in Indian coasts, Hypnea nidifica.

The extensive calcareous deposits on the body that has been observed also provides room for thought. Several recent studies have shown that algae with calcareous mineral deposits are prone for the damage from ocean acidification – an aftermath of climate change.

As carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gets dissolved in ocean waters, the seawater becomes more acidic. Algae like Hypnea cannot survive in acidic seawater, hence, the only way to help these species is to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by adopting sustainable lifestyle choices.


An alga is the living, eukaryotic, and photosynthetic organism usually grown in moist areas. Hence, they are called the members of aquatic organisms. Alike plants, these organisms also contain chlorophyll and other biological pigments that act as a primary colouring agent and also helps in absorbing energy from light.

Types of Algae

These diverse group of aquatic organisms is neither plant nor animals.  Based on their general features, algae are grouped into Kingdom Protista. According to the records, there are more than 50,000’s known species of Algae and based on their habitat, presence of biological pigments and other characteristics they are classified into seven different types.

  1. Pyrrophyta
  2. Euglenophyta
  3. Red algae or Rhodophyta
  4. Brown algae or Phaeophyta
  5. Green algae or Chlorophyta
  6. Yellow-green algae or Xanthophyta
  7. Golden-brown algae or Chrysophyceae


The scientific name of Red Algae is Rhodophyta and they belong to Class Rhodophyceae. There are two classes of red algal namely the Florideophyceae and Bangiophyceae. Both Florideophyceae and Bangiophyceae comprise 99% of red algal diversity in marine and freshwater habitats.

Red algae or Rhodophyta – It is a distinctive type of species that are mostly found in the freshwater lakes and are the oldest type of eukaryotic algae. They are red in colour due to the presence of a pigment called chlorophyll A, phycocyanin, and phycoerythrin. They are the member of the tribe Amansieae (Rhodomelaceae, Ceramiales, Rhodophyta), in which only Aneurianna and Lenormandia Sonder have foliar blades. They are the distinctive type of species, mostly found in the deep freshwater bodies.

According to the original description of the genus (Phillips, 2006), Aneurianna differs from Lenormandia in having endogenous branching and elliptic surface pattern with various irregularly ordered ellipses on the blade (so-called “elliptical areolation”) and incurved or inflexed apices, in contrast to the absence of endogenous branching, rhombic surface pattern with regularly arranged rhombi (“rhombic areolation”).

General Characteristics of Red Algae

Red algae are different from other groups except for diatoms. Listed below are general characteristics of Red Algae.

  • Lack of flagella and centrioles
  • Presence of photosynthetic pigments
  • Found both in marine and freshwater
  • They show biphasic or triphasic life cycle patterns.
  • They are a multicellular, filament, blade structure.
  • Stored food is in the form of starch and polymers of galactan sulphate
  • A pit connection (hole in the septum) is formed between two algal cells.
  • Have a diffuse growth pattern- Apical growth, Complex oogamy (triphasic)
  • These group of red algae is generally found in tropical marine locations
  • The mode of nutrition may either be saprophytic, parasitic or also epiphytic.
  • Their cell walls consist of cellulose and many different types of carbohydrates.
  • Grow on solid surfaces independently or sometimes found attached to other algae.
  • Presence of pit in the cell walls, through which cytoplasmic connec­tions are maintained.
  • The male sex organs are known as spermatangium and the female sex organs are called carpogonia or procarp.
  • Mode of Reproduction: It takes place by all the three means: vegetative, asexual and sexual. Asexual mode of reproduction is by monospores and during the sexual mode of reproduction, they undergo alternation of generations.

Uses of Red Algae

Red Algae have great ecological importance. They form a vital part of the food chain and are also involved in producing about 40 to 60 per cent of the total global oxygen for both terrestrial habitat and other aquatic habitats. Listed below are a few ecological and commercial importance of red algae.

  • Algae provide natural food for fish and other aquatic animals.
  • Red alga is the most important commercial food in Japan and in the region of North Atlantic.
  • Agar or agar-agar, a jelly-like substance which is used in puddings, dairy toppings and other instant food products is extracted from Red algae.
  • Red algae are used as the source of food for thousands of years as they are high in vitamins, minerals, a rich source of calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants.
  • They are sources of dietary fibre as they have the ability to promote healthy circulation, lower bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.
  • They are also involved in nourishing your skin, boosting the immune system and contributing to bone health.

6. Is the LHC on the brink of discovering new physics?

The latest announcement from CERN hints at the inadequacy of existing theories of elementary particles

Once in a way, the world of physics is in a state of upheaval – experiments are carried out that reveal limitations to older, established theories, and new physics is born. In this manner, on March 23, a wave of excitement propagated through the particle physics community when researchers from the LHCb experiment at CERN, situated in the Franco-Swiss border, announced the results of their latest analysis of data.

Verge of discovery

While the findings were not sufficiently strong to be counted as a discovery, CERN scientists were excited enough to reveal that if the anomaly they had detected was confirmed, “It would require a new physical process, such as the existence of new fundamental particles or interactions.” Spokesperson for LHCb, Professor Chris Parkes from the University of Manchester and CERN qualified this by saying, “More studies on related processes are under way using the existing LHCb data. We will be excited to see if they strengthen the intriguing hints in the current results.”

What was this excitement all about? It is necessary to delve into the world of elementary particles to understand this.

Particle zoo

Broadly speaking, elementary particles are classified into the particles called baryons – which include protons, neutrons and their antiparticles the antiprotons etc. The “middle mass” particles, roughly speaking, are called the mesons and they include members such as the K and B particles.

You then have the leptons, which include the electron and its cousins the muon and tau particles and the anti-particles. At a still smaller scale, there are tiny particles called quarks and gluons. There are six flavours of quarks: up, down, truth, beauty, charm and strange. They too have antiquarks associated with them.

In this particle zoo, while the baryons are made up of combinations of three quarks, the mesons contain two quarks, more accurately a quark and antiquark pair, and the leptons are truly fundamental and are thought to be indivisible.

Until now it is believed that the electron, muon and tauon and their antiparticles, though they differ in mass, behave similarly in particle interactions.

Colliding particle beams

By interactions here, is meant the following: If a huge particle accelerator such as the LHC were to accelerate beams of hadrons (such as protons) to very high speeds, a fraction of that of light, and then cause them to collide. Basically, smash through the repulsive nuclear forces and shatter them, the hadrons would break up into constituents which would recombine to form short-lived particles, which would decay into stabler states. Roughly speaking, during this process, they are imaged in a huge multistorey detector and the number of specific processes and particles are counted.

One such process that was measured was the decay of a meson B (which contained the beauty quark) into K-meson (which contains the strange quark) and a muon-antimuon pair, and this was compared with the decay of B into K and an electron-antielectron pair.

The expectation is that the ratio of the strengths of these two sets of interactions would be just one. This is because the muons are not essentially different from the electrons as per the Standard Model, the presently accepted theoretical model of all elementary particle interactions. This is called the lepton universality principle.

Anomaly or fluke?

However, what the LHCb has seen is that the ratio is not 1, but it is approximately 0.846. However, the discrepancy is only at the level of 3.1 sigma, which is a measure of the chances that it might be due to a fluke. Scientists have agreed that in order to declare something a discovery, it should have a significance of 5 sigma or more (which is a much lower chance of a fluke).

Commenting on what would happen if, with analysis of more data, this significance was found to increase, Prof. Rahul Sinha of The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, says, “The standard model will no longer be a complete description of particles and their interactions. It assumes as a starting point that electron, muon and tau interactions are universal and hence of the same strength.”

Prof. Rahul Sinha and collaborators have worked on these so-called flavour-changing neutral current penguin decays since the mid 1990s. “These interactions are highly suppressed in the standard model, and they were understood to be important even in the late 1970s,” he says.

According to Prof. Sinha, “It was realised by mid-1990s that they are small but not vanishingly small because of the very heavy top quark… In 1996, we realised that the decay b (quark) to s (quark) and lepton-antilepton pair can result in many observables because of the rich kinematics. Hence, we realised that this was great mode to look for new physics. It took several more years before they were observed.”

7. Amid Bangladesh liberation anniversary, role of India, U.S. in 1971 in spotlight

Washington’s policy chronicled through a series of memos and taped conversations between then President Richard Nixon and his NSA Henry Kissinger

“To all hands, don’t squeeze Yahya at this time,” wrote the then U.S. President Richard Nixon in his own hand in a memo that crystallised Washington’s policy during Bangladesh’s liberation war.

The memo, dated April 28, 1971, came a month after Pakistani troops had launched Operation Searchlight that targeted Bangladeshi freedom fighters, the minority Hindu population, teachers, students, and activists brutally, with millions of casualties.

As Bangladesh commemorates 50 years of its Liberation movement, that began with the declaration of Independence by the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters) led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 26, 1971, the spotlight also turns to events at the time in India and the United States, that were recounted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka, and through a special remembrance in the U.S. Congress last week.

A few days after the Mujib declaration, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi moved a resolution in Parliament condemning the Pakistani crackdown as “genocide”. On April 3, she met Tajuddin Ahmed, Mujib’s nominee for PM of the provisional government, and promised support, including an office in Calcutta that belonged to the RAW intelligence agency. Mrs. Gandhi insisted on secrecy, however, until she was able to garner international support for the cause. While the U.S. was deadset against India’s stand, Mrs. Gandhi found some support in Moscow, and the Indo-Soviet treaty of Peace and Cooperation was signed in August 1971.

During his visit to Dhaka, Mr. Modi described opposition protests that he had taken part in — against the Soviet treaty and demanding that India recognise Bangladesh immediately.

“I must have been 20 to 22 years old when my colleagues and I did a Satyagraha for the freedom of the people of Bangladesh. I was arrested and had an opportunity to go to jail in support of Bangladesh’s Independence,” he said at the special commemoration on Friday.

Back in 1971, far from the public eye, the government’s plans for Bangladesh’s liberation, the diplomatic outreach and training and arming the Mukti Bahini cadres, were all already under way by August of the year. The Soviet treaty dented India’s non-aligned policy, but Soviet naval support and military supplies assisted New Delhi in the war that followed.

Through that time, the U.S. policy was chronicled through a series of memos, and taped conversations between Mr. Nixon and Dr. Kissinger. “I think that in fact, the April 28 memo is one the most important documents of the time, because this memo set the course of American policy towards Bangladesh’s liberation war,” said military historian Srinath Raghavan, who authored the book 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh.

“It set the U.S. ‘tilt’ (towards Pakistan) as policy and asked everyone in the U.S. government to fall in line,” he added, referring to the fact that Mr. Nixon put the words down in his own hand and then underlined the word “Don’t” three times for emphasis.

In a special commemoration in the U.S. Congress last Monday, Representative Shiela Lee Jackson said, “Approximately 2 to 3 million people were killed, over 200,000 women were raped in organised rape camps, and over 10 million people were displaced, most finding refuge in India.” Ms. Jackson called for an apology from Pakistan and an acknowledgement from the U.S. of its “solidarity” with Bangladesh.

While many historians have focused on the more sensational comments made by Mr. Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger about India’s role and their anger at Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the secret White House Memorandum (Action 27870/April 28,1971) titled “Policy Options towards Pakistan” is a detailed account of the U.S.’s strategy during the year, that eventually led to it moving its “Seventh fleet” into the Bay of Bengal in an attempt to deter the Indian Army from advancing towards Dhaka (Dacca) during the two-week war in December 1971.

In the Memo, declassified 30 years later in 2001, Dr. Kissinger proposes three options to Mr. Nixon: to support Pakistani President General Yahya Khan’s political and military plans, without sending any ammunition; to remain neutral, and delay all aid, food and military equipment until India-Pakistan tensions were resolved; and to help Gen Yahya to “end the war”, establish an autonomous government in East Pakistan, and give control of aid, food shipments and military equipment to West Pakistan.

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