15 Apr 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

CNA 15th April 2021:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
EDUCATION
1. State obliged to facilitate access to education: SC
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. ‘NATO to exit Afghanistan along with U.S.’
2. ‘Hope India reviews stand on pacts’
C. GS 3 Related
ECONOMY
1. ‘India’s public debt level among highest in emerging economies’
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Why less may be more for India and China
2. Navigation with permission
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. It’s time to enact a Siras Act
F. Prelims Facts
G. Tidbits
1. ‘India can be hardware manufacturing hub’
2. ‘Quad navies enjoy high degree of interoperability’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. ‘NATO to exit Afghanistan along with U.S.’

Context:

Foreign troops under NATO command will withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with a U.S. pull-out by September 11, 2021.

  • September 11 is a highly symbolic date as it will be 20 years since Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. with hijacked airliners, triggering military intervention in Afghanistan.

Background:

  • President Joe Biden announced, “It’s time to end America’s longest war with the unconditional withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, where they have spent two decades in a bloody, largely fruitless battle against the Taliban”.
  • He said the U.S. will begin its final withdrawal from Afghanistan on May 1, 2021.

Details:

  • Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries, also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, outnumber the 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • A key reason for a coordinated withdrawal is the fact that NATO relies on U.S. airlift capabilities and shipping to move valuable equipment in and out of landlocked Afghanistan.
  • After withdrawing, the U.S. and NATO aim to rely on Afghan military and police forces, which they have developed with billions of dollars in funding, to maintain security though peace talks are struggling and the insurgency is resilient.

Resolute Support:

  • An integral part of NATO’s current mission, Resolute Support, is to train and equip Afghan security forces fighting the Islamist Taliban.
    • Taliban was ousted from power by a U.S. invasion in late 2001 and has since waged an insurgency.
  • With non-U.S. troop numbers reaching as high as 40,000 in 2008, Europe, Canada and Australia have moved in tandem with the U.S., also providing long-term funding to rebuild Afghanistan despite the resurgence of Taliban-led violence and endemic official corruption in the country.

2. ‘Hope India reviews stand on pacts’

Context:

Singapore’s Foreign Minister said that he hoped India would reassess its stand on regional trading agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact that India withdrew from in 2019.

Details:

  • He asserted that India had a crucial role to play in helping the region build an inclusive architecture at a time of increasing global instability.
  • He was making a plea for India to revisit RCEP and even the CPTPP [Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership].
  • India withdrew from the RCEP largely because of concerns it would open it up to Chinese goods amid an already wide trade imbalance with China, and the failure of the agreement to adequately open up to services.

Note:

  • The RCEP came into force in November 2020 without India.
  • It is the world’s largest trading agreement, covering the 10 ASEAN nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The CPTPP, the successor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which the U.S. withdrew from, includes Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam from ASEAN, along with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

2. Navigation with permission

Context:

This issue has been discussed previously in the following article:

UPSC Comprehensive News Analysis of 12th Apr 2021

Background:

FONOP exercise:

  • On April 7, the U.S.’s 7th Fleet Destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones, conducted a ‘Freedom of Navigation Operation’ 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • This exercise was conducted without requesting India’s consent as required by Indian laws.

Differing stands:

  • The two countries have expressed two different positions on the issue.
  • While the U.S. has asserted that India’s requirement of prior consent is “inconsistent with international law”, India has asserted that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “does not authorize other States to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state”.

Details:

  • The article evaluates the legal position of the stand taken by the two countries.

UNCLOS law:

  • UNCLOS binds all its signatories and customary international law binds all states, subject to exceptions like the doctrine of persistent objector.
  • As per the UNCLOS, EEZ is an area adjacent to the territorial waters of a coastal state where the sovereign coastal state has rights and duties relating to the management of natural resources; establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures; marine scientific research; and protection of the marine environment.

Freedom of navigation:

  • Article 58 (1) provides that in the EEZ, all States enjoy, subject to the relevant provisions of this Convention, the freedoms referred to in Article 87 of navigation and overflight and of the laying of submarine cables and pipelines as well as other internationally lawful uses of the sea.
  • Article 87 provides for freedom of the high seas under which all states have the freedom of navigation.

Regulation:

  • Despite the freedoms conferred by Article 87 of UNCLOS, it is to be noted that the freedom of navigation is subject to the conditions laid down under the UNCLOS and other rules of international law.
  • Notably, Article 58 (3) notes that “In exercising their rights and performing their duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, States shall have due regard to the rights and duties of the coastal State and shall comply with the laws and regulations adopted by the coastal State…”

India’s 1995 declaration:

  • The Indian law – Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones of India Act, 1976 under Section 7 sub-section 9 recognises the freedom of navigation of the ships of all States but makes them subject to the exercise of rights by India within the zone.
  • India in its declaration in 1995 noted that its understanding of the provisions of the Convention is that it does not authorize other States to carry out in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal State.
  • It is important to note the legal effect of such declarations. Article 310 of the UNCLOS does permit states to make declarations in order to explain the relationship between the Convention and their own laws, but such declarations should not “purport to exclude or to modify the legal effect of the provisions of this Convention in their application to that State”.

Conclusion:

  • A conjoint reading of Articles 58, 87 and 310 of the UNCLOS, makes it clear that freedom of navigation cannot be read in an absolute and isolated manner.
  • Also given that non-consensual military activities hinder the lawful enjoyment of EEZ rights of the concerned country and that military exercises and manoeuvres pose a risk to its coastal communities, its installations or artificial islands, as well as the marine environment, any state which wishes to conduct such exercises must do so only in consultation with the coastal state.
  • Any state which wishes to conduct military exercises in an exclusive economic zone must first consult the coastal state.

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. It’s time to enact a Siras Act

Context:

  • The article argues for an ex post facto pardon to those who were convicted under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Background:

Section 377 of the IPC:

  • Section 377 dealing with unnatural offences notes that whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
  • While the statute criminalises all anal sex and oral sex, including between opposite-sex couples, it largely affected same-sex relationships.

Naz Foundation case:

  • The Delhi High Court’s verdict in Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi (2009) resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts involving consenting adults.
  • The Court held that Section 377 offended the guarantee of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution because it creates an unreasonable classification and targets homosexuals as a class.

Supreme Court’s stand:

Suresh Kumar Koushal case:

  • The Supreme Court, in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs. Naz Foundation (2013), reinstated Section 377 in the IPC.

Navtej Singh Johar case:

  • The SC’s judgment in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India (2018) is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that decriminalised all consensual sex among adults, including homosexual sex. The Supreme Court of India ruled that the application of Section 377 of the IPC to consensual homosexual behaviour between adults was “unconstitutional, irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”. The verdict was hailed as a landmark decision for LGBT rights in India.
    • Elements of Section 377 relating to sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts such as rape, and bestiality remain in force.

Details:

  • The article argues for an ex post facto pardon to those who were convicted under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The author argues that such an enabling law would help do justice to those convicted in the LGBTQ+ community under Section 377 of the IPC.
  • Also notably such a law would be in line with international practice in some countries like the U.K which has enacted the Alan Turing law.
    • The U.K.’s Alan Turing law grants amnesty and pardon to those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships. The Alan Turing law provides not only a posthumous pardon but also an automatic formal pardon for living people.
  • The Indian state could enact a ‘Siras Act’ on the lines of the Alan Turing law. Ex post facto pardon may be a novel concept in India, but it would do justice, even though delayed, to the prisoners of sexual conscience.

F. Prelims Facts

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Tidbits

1. ‘India can be hardware manufacturing hub’

What’s in News?

Microsoft president has suggested that there is an opportunity for India to become a hardware manufacturing location as the world’s technology majors have been moving their supply chains out of China.

  • Terming the recent spate of cyberattacks a wake-up call for tech companies as well as governments, he emphasised the need to train more professionals to cope with cyber threats.
  • He also urged India and the U.S. to join the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace that now has 75 countries on board to deal with new cybersecurity threats facing the world.
  • He emphasised the need for a global initiative to really accelerate all kinds of training to put more cybersecurity professionals in place.

Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace:
  • The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace is a nonbinding declaration.
  • It calls for states, the private sector, and civil society organizations to work together to promote security in cyberspace, counter disinformation, and address new threats endangering citizens and infrastructure.

2. ‘Quad navies enjoy high degree of interoperability’

What’s in News?

Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh’s comments at the Raisina Dialogue.

  • According to the Navy chief, the Quad navies of India, the U.S., Japan and Australia already enjoy a high degree of interoperability and have the capability and capacity to come together in an “almost plug and play mechanism” if the opportunity arises.
  • He stated that it would not be surprising to see a Chinese naval expansion in the Indian Ocean region.
    • The Chinese Navy has seen a massive expansion in recent years, with the rapid addition of frontline warships. It has two aircraft carriers and a more capable one is under construction.
    • In 2017, China opened its first overseas base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Koundiya wildlife sanctuary is located in:
  1. Karnataka
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. Kerala
  4. Andhra Pradesh
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation:

  • Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary and an elephant reserve situated in Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is the only sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh with a population of Asian elephants, which migrated after 200 years from neighbouring regions.
Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to Uranium:
  1. Natural uranium consists of nearly 99% U-238 and only around 0.7% of U-235.
  2. U-235 is a fissile material that can sustain a chain reaction in a nuclear reactor.
  3. Nuclear reactors require Highly Enriched Uranium with enrichment of up to 90% or more.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 1 and 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 3 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Natural uranium consists of nearly 99% U-238 and only around 0.7% of U-235.
  • U-235 is a fissile material that can sustain a chain reaction in a nuclear reactor.
  • Enrichment of up to 3-4% is required for nuclear reactors, which is known as Low Enriched Uranium.
  • Enrichment of up to 90% or more is required for nuclear weapons. This is known as Highly Enriched Uranium or weapons-grade uranium.
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to public debt:
  1. It is the total liabilities of the central government contracted against the Consolidated Fund of India.
  2. It excludes liabilities contracted against Public Account.
  3. Government securities (G-Secs) and treasury bills are sources of public debt.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. 1 and 3 only
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Union government classifies its liabilities into two broad categories.
  • The debt contracted against the Consolidated Fund of India is defined as public debt and includes all other funds received outside Consolidated Fund of India under Article 266 (2) of the Constitution, where the government merely acts as a banker or custodian.
  • The second type of liabilities is called public account.
  • Public debt excludes liabilities contracted against Public Account.
  • Government securities (G-Secs), treasury bills, external assistance, and short-term borrowings are sources of public debt.
Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to International Covenant on Economic, 
Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR):
  1. It is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  2. India is not a signatory to ICESR.

Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
  • India is a signatory to ICESR.
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) was set up in 1985 by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
  • It was constituted with an aim to monitor on its behalf the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR).

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. In the light of the recent Track-II dialogue held between India and China, discuss the criticality of managing the three issues of the boundary question, trade, and the increasing impact of third-party and multilateral engagements on the two-way relationship to arrive at a new and more realistic state of relations between the two emerging powers. (15 marks, 250 words)[GS-2, International Relations]
  2. Discuss the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India case and evaluate its significance in protecting the right to equality of homosexuals. (10 marks, 150 words) [GS-1, Social Issues]

Read the previous CNA here.

CNA 15th April 2021:- Download PDF Here

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