TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Sex workers, lawyers seek to amend language of anti-trafficking Bill 2. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana to have separate High Courts C. GS3 Related INTERNAL SECURITY 1. NIA busts IS-style module, foils terror strikes in Delhi D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Being a good neighbour (India’s Neighbourhood) ECONOMY 1. The shape of growth matters (NITI Aayog Report) F. Tidbits 1. Govt. body chief calls loan waiver a failure 2. Golfer Jyoti Randhawa held on poaching charge 3. SC rejects plea of staff who ‘abandoned work’ 4. Nepal caps expenditure of its citizens in India G. Prelims Fact 1. Another olive ridley nesting site soon 2. Russia successfully tests hypersonic missile H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- The anti-trafficking Bill, set to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, has triggered disquiet among sex workers and lawyers about the proposed law’s potential to criminalise all adult sex work in the absence of a clear distinction between the victims of sexual exploitation or human trafficking and persons who voluntarily opt to provide sex to make a living.
Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018
- The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of “from 10 years up to life imprisonment” for aggravated forms of trafficking.
- Trading of persons for ‘bonded labour’ or ‘bearing a child’, or administering harmful substances to the trafficked could attract severe punishment.
- The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases.
- It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (RRC) and Rehabilitation Fund (RF) with an initial allocation of Rs. 10 crore.
- Further, it prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.
Analysis of the issue
- Voluntary adult sex work is not illegal in India under certain circumstances, such as when a woman provides the service in her own home without any solicitation.
- The primary law on trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation — the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1986 — punishes offences including procuring a person for the purpose of prostitution, living on the earnings of prostitution of another person and keeping or using a brothel.
- But enforcement agencies often conflate trafficking with voluntary sex work and abuse the provisions of the law to evict sex workers from their houses.
- It is this experience that has stoked fears among sex workers about the new Bill, which is aimed at curbing “physical and other forms of trafficking”; they are urging lawmakers to revisit the language used in the Bill and to ensure that the legislation provides built-in safeguards.
- Their key demand is that the Bill should explicitly exclude adult persons voluntarily engaged in sex work.
- Sex workers also demand that the consent of a person rescued from trafficking should be a mandatory requirement before a decision is taken to send him or her to a rehabilitation centre.
- A study titled ‘Raided’ conducted by a sex workers’ group called VAMP (Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad) and NGO Sangram between 2005 and 2017 traced the lives of 243 “rescued” women after they had been released. As many as 79%, or 193, of these women stated that at the time of the raid they had been in sex work voluntarily and had not wanted to be ‘rescued’.
- Following a Supreme Court order to the Centre to notify the bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Courts by January 1, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday ordered the separation of the “common” Hyderabad High Court into the separate High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Details of the decision
- Both will function separately from January 1, 2019.
- The principal seat of the Andhra Pradesh High Court is Amaravati, the capital of the State. The High Court in Hyderabad will function separately as the High Court of the State of Telangana.
- Sixteen HC judges, including Justice Ramesh Ranganathan, who is now the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, shall become judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court from January 1.
- The new Telangana High Court will have a sanctioned strength of 10 judges.
- The presidential notification quoted Article 214 of the Constitution, which provides for a High Court for each State.
- The judiciary in the states consists of a High Court and a system of subordinate courts below it.
- The High Court is at the apex of the judiciary in the state.
- Article 214 provides for High Court for each state but there can be common High Courts for two or more states established by Parliament under Article 231.
- Under Article 230 the jurisdiction of High Court can be extended to the Union Territories also.
- A High Court may also have one or more benches of itself within the area of its territorial jurisdiction.
Indian High court Act, 1861
- High courts established at Calcutta, Bombay & Madras
- Constitution states that there shall be HC in every state, but, parliament has the power to establish a common HC for 2 or more states (At present 24 HC for 29 states & 7 UTs)
- Strength of HC is flexible (Unlike SC – which can be increased by parliament)
- President may from time to time appoint judges of HC, keeping in view amount of work before HC.
Court of Record
- A High Court is also a court of record, like the Supreme Court.
- Lower courts in a State are bound to follow the decisions of the High Court which are cited as precedents.
- A High Court has also the power to punish for its contempt or disrespect.
C. GS3 Related
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested 10 alleged members of an Islamic State (IS)-inspired module and detained six suspects in a joint operation with the Delhi police’s Special Cell and the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh.
National Investigation Agency (NIA)
- National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a central agency founded by the Indian Government to combat terror in India. It is the dedicated Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
- The organization deals with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
- The Agency came into survival with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India.
Its objectives are:
- To set the standards of excellence in counter terrorism and other national security related investigations.
- It strives towards developing a highly trained, partnership oriented workforce to excel in its objective to set excellent standards in counter terrorism and national security investigations.
- It also acts as deterrence for existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals.
- It aims to develop as a storehouse of all terrorist related information.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- Some experts opine that if South Asia is one of the world’s least integrated regions, India is one of the world’s least regionally-integrated major powers.
- Critics have alleged that successive regimes have considered the neighbourhood as an irritant and challenge, not an opportunity.
- Critics also allege that seldom have India’s policies displayed a sense of belonging to the region or a desire to work with the neighbourhood for greater integration and cooperation.
- Critics further point out that today, we have become even more transactional, impatient and small-minded towards our neighbourhood which has, as a result, restricted our space for manoeuvre in the regional geopolitical scheme of things.
Poised at a critical juncture
- Experts point out that whichever way one looks at it, India’s neighbourhood policy is at a critical juncture. That although, when one takes a critical view, one observes that there has been a perceptible decline in India’s influence and goodwill in the region, and that this coupled with an absence of a coherent and well-planned regional policy will most definitely ensure that it may eventually slip out of India’s sphere of influence.
- It is in light of this that India’s foreign policy planners therefore need to reimagine the country’s neighbourhood policy before it is too late.
Steps Taken: The Present Administration
- It is important to note that the present administration’s neighbourhood policy began exceptionally well with Prime Minister Modi reaching out to the regional capitals and making foreign policy commitments.
- However, almost immediately, it seemed to lose a sense of diplomatic balance, for instance, when it tried to interfere with the Constitution-making process in Nepal and was accused of trying to influence electoral outcomes in Sri Lanka.
- Critics allege that while India’s refugee policy went against its own traditional practices, it was found severely wanting on the Rohingya question, and didn’t act decisively on how to deal with the political crisis in the Maldives.
- Currently, in India’s neighbourhood, the arrival of an India-friendly Ibrahim Mohamed Solih regime in Male has brought much cheer.
- Further, experts point out that the return of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Sri Lankan Prime Minister is to India’s advantage too. Also, Nepal has reached out to India to put an end to the acrimony that persisted through 2015 to 2017.
- Further, neighbours such as Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh are also positively disposed towards India, though, as critics allege, the relationship with Pakistan continues to be directionless.
- What this then means is that India has a real opportunity today to recalibrate its neighbourhood relations.
Certain lessons from the past
There are a few lessons that India can learn from her past which we will briefly examine:
- Firstly, let’s briefly examine what should not be done in dealing with a sensitive neighbourhood. For one, India must shed its aggression and deal with tricky situations with far more diplomatic subtlety and finesse. Critics point out that the manner in which India weighed down on Nepal in 2015 during the Constitution-making process is an example of how not to influence outcomes. Further, it is important to note that the ability of diplomacy lies in subtly persuading the smaller neighbour to accept an argument rather than forcing it to, which is bound to backfire.
- Secondly, it must be kept in mind that meddling in the domestic politics of neighbour countries is a recipe for disaster, even when invited to do so by one political faction or another. Preferring one faction or regime over another is unwise in the longer term. Critics point out the example of incumbent Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. There was a great deal of cheer in New Delhi when he took office in January 2015 (with some saying India helped him cobble together a winnable coalition) after defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa, considered less well disposed toward India. However, Mr. Sirisena’s political transformation was quick, as were India’s fortunes in Colombo, at least temporarily.
- Thirdly, experts point out that India must not fail to follow up on its promises to its neighbours. Critics allege that India does not have a good track record in this regard.
- Fourthly, experts point out that there is no point in competing with China where China is at an advantage vis-à-vis India. This is especially true of regional infrastructure projects. Further, experts point out that India simply does not have the political, material or financial wherewithal to outdo China in building infrastructure.
Hence India must invest where China falls short, especially at the level of institution-building and the use of soft power. However, it is important to note that even in those areas, China seems to be forging ahead. India must therefore invest a great deal more in soft power promotion (and not the Hindutva kind of outreach).
A Prescriptive Path Forward: To begin with, India could expand the scope and work of the South Asian University (SAU), including by providing a proper campus (instead of allowing it to function out of a hotel building) and ensuring that its students get research visas to India without much hassle. If properly utilised, the SAU can become a point for regional integration.
Looking for convergence in the Region:
- Finally, experts point out that while India reimagines its neighbourhood policy, she must also look for convergence of interests with China in the Southern Asian region spanning from Afghanistan to Nepal to Sri Lanka.
- There are several possible areas of convergence, including counter terrorism, regional trade and infrastructure development. China and India’s engagement of the South Asian region needn’t be based on zero-sum calculations.
- For example, any non-military infrastructure constructed by China in the region can also be beneficial to India while it trades with those countries. A road or a rail line built by China in Bangladesh or Nepal can be used by India in trading with those countries.
- Going forward, experts point out that India must invest in three major policy areas.
- There needs to be better regional trading arrangements. The reason why South Asia is the least integrated region in the world is because the economic linkages are shockingly weak among the countries of the region.
- The lead to correct this must be taken by India even if this means offering better terms of trade for the smaller neighbours.
- While it is true that long ‘sensitive lists’ maintained by South Asian countries are a major impediment in the implementation of SAFTA, or the South Asian Free Trade Area, India could do a lot more to persuade them to reduce the items on such lists. Second, several of India’s border States have the capacity to engage in trading arrangements with neighbouring counties.
- This should be made easier by the government by way of constructing border infrastructure and easing restrictions on such border trade.
- Resurrection of SAARC: India prefers bilateral engagements in the region rather than deal with neighbours on multilateral forums. However, there is only so much that can be gained from bilateral arrangements, and there should be more attempts at forging multilateral arrangements, including by resurrecting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
- Lastly, India must have a coherent and long-term vision for the neighbourhood devoid of empty rhetoric and spectacular visits without follow up. We must ask ourselves, as the biggest country in the South Asian neighbourhood, what kind of a region do we want to be situated in, and work towards enabling that.
- Experts point out that while there are many refreshing improvements in NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ from the erstwhile Planning Commission’s plans, there are also concerns about some of the strategies recommended.
- As a matter of fact, experts point out that the intent to change the approach to planning from preparations of plans and budgets to the creation of a mass movement for development in which “every Indian recognises her role and experiences the tangible benefits” is laudable.
- Further, the strategy affirms that “policymaking will have to be rooted in ground realities” rather than economic abstractions.
- It also says that stakeholders have been consulted widely in preparing the strategy, which is also something that the erstwhile Planning Commission had also said.
- However, experts point out that what matters is the quality of consultations. It will be worthwhile for NITI Aayog to get feedback from stakeholders on whether it has improved the process of consultation substantially or not.
- Further, the strategy emphasises the need to improve implementation of policies and service delivery on the ground, which is what matters to citizens.
- Experts point out that the resurrection of the 15 reports of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and recommendation that they must be implemented vigorously are welcome.
- Also, some critics point out that the previous government had taken its eye off the ball. It did not put its weight behind the implementation of these well-thought-out recommendations, which had the endorsement of all political parties, by a Commission it had supported.
The meaning of growth
- Some experts also point out that employment and labour reforms, which is the second chapter in the strategy, have rightly been given the highest priority, which was not the case in the previous plans.
- Experts also point out that the overall growth is also emphasised by NITI Aayog: “Besides having rapid growth, which reaches 9-10 per cent by 2022-23, it is also necessary to ensure that growth is inclusive, sustained, clean and formalised.” However, it is the shape of growth that matters more than size.
- Experts point out that the employment-generating capacity of the economy is what matters more to citizens than the overall GDP growth rate. Further, there is no joy for the citizens if India is the fastest-growing economy and yet does not provide jobs and incomes.
- It is important to note that the growth of industry and manufacturing is essential to create more employment, and to provide bigger opportunities to Indians who have been too dependent on agriculture so far.
- Here, too, it is not the size of the manufacturing sector that matters but its shape.
- Labour-intensive industries are required for job creation.
- Further, experts point out that if the manufacturing sector is to grow from 16% to 25% of the GDP, which the strategy states as the goal, with more capital-intensive industries, it will not solve the employment problem.
- The strategy does say that labour-intensive industries must be promoted, but the overall goal remains the size of the sector. What one measures, one manages.
- Therefore, the goal must be clearly set in terms of employment, and policies and measurements of progress set accordingly.
- Indian statistical systems must be improved quickly to measure employment in various forms, formal as well as informal.
- The strategy highlights the urgency of increasing the tax base to provide more resources for human development. It also says financial investments must be increased to strengthen India’s production base.
- However, experts point out that managing this trade-off will not be easy.
- If tax incentives must be given, they should favour employment creation, not more capital investment.
Weakness in the Indian Economy:
- It is important to note that a big weakness in the Indian economy’s industrial infrastructure is that middle-level institutions are missing.
- Rather than formalising small enterprises excessively, clusters and associations of small enterprises should be formalised. Small enterprises cannot bear the burden of excessive formalisation — which the state and the banking system need to make the informal sector ‘legible’ to them.
- Professionally managed formal clusters will connect the informal side of the economy with its formal side, i.e. government and large enterprises’ supply chains. NITI Aayog’s plan for industrial growth has very rightly highlighted the need for strong clusters of small enterprises as a principal strategy for the growth of a more competitive industrial sector.
Reorienting labour laws:
- Critics allege that the strategy on labour laws appears pedestrian compared with the ambitious strategy of uplifting the lives of millions of Indians so that they share the fruits of economic growth.
- It recommends complete codification of central labour laws into four codes by 2019. While this will enable easier navigation for investors and employers through the Indian regulatory maze, what is required is a fundamental reorientation of the laws and regulations — they must fit emerging social and economic realities.
- Firstly, the nature of work and employment is changing, even in more developed economies. It is moving towards more informal employment, through contract work and self-employment, even in formal enterprises.
- In such a scenario, social security systems must provide for all citizens, not only those in formal employment.
- Indeed, if employers want more flexibility to improve competitiveness of their enterprises, the state will have to provide citizens the fairness they expect from the economy. The NITI Aayog strategy suggests some contours of a universal social security system. These must be sharpened.
- Secondly, in a world where workers are atomised as individuals, they must have associations to aggregate themselves to have more weight in the economic debate with owners of capital. Rather than weakening unions to give employers more flexibility, laws must strengthen unions to ensure more fairness.
- Indeed, many international studies point out that one of the principal causes of the vulgar inequalities that have emerged around the world is the weakening of unions.
- The NITI Aayog strategy mentions the need for social security for domestic workers too. This will not be enforceable unless domestic workers, scattered across millions of homes, have the means to collectively assert their rights.
- Thirdly, all employers in India should realise that workers must be their source of competitive advantage. India has an abundance of labour as a resource, whereas capital is relatively scarce. Human beings can learn new skills and be productive if employers invest in them. Employers must treat their workers — whether on their rolls or on contract — as assets and sources of competitive advantage, not as costs.
– In conclusion, the shape of the development process matters more to people than the size of the GDP.
– Development must be by the people (more participative), of the people (health, education, skills), and for the people (growth of their incomes, well-being, and happiness).
– Lastly, how well India is doing at 75 must be measured by the qualities of development, as experienced by its citizens, along these three dimensions. GDP growth will not be enough.
- Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government counts its farm loan waiver scheme as one of its successes, one of the government’s own organisations does not think so. Kishore Tiwari, chairman, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), on Wednesday said the scheme has flopped, and blamed banks and the bureaucracy for its failure.
- Tiwari, who holds the Minister of State rank and is also one of the leading activists in Vidarbha on agrarian issues, has submitted 10 demands to the State to ‘save farmers’.
- Among other demands raised by Mr. Tiwari are free education from KG to PG for farmers’ children, ₹1 lakh for the wedding of farmers’ daughter, and banning private companies from the Prime Minister crop insurance scheme.
- Tiwari has cited examples of Telangana and Jharkhand where ₹5,000 per acre is given to farmers every season in the form of grant, and has demanded that a similar scheme be launched for farmers with non-irrigated lands in Vidarbha, north Maharashtra, Khandesh, and Marathwada.
- International golfer Jyoti Randhawa was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly poaching in a forest range in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, known for its variety of endangered species, officials said.
- National shooter Mahesh Virajdar, who accompanied him, was also arrested in the Motipur range of Katarniaghat, said Ramesh Pandey, Field Director of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
- The police slapped serious charges on the two under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
- A former HSBC Bank employee whose services as a ‘senior confidential secretary’ became redundant after the officer she was attached to left the services of the bank. The bank offered her four alternate jobs with the same pay scale. But she refused on the ground that such jobs were either temporary in nature, or the claimant did not possess the experience or work-knowledge to take any of them up.
- The bank terminated her services in 2005 after she expressed unwillingness to accept the redundancy package offered to her.
- The former employee moved the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, which ordered her to be reinstated. The High Court, however, differed with the tribunal’s conclusion, saying she had voluntarily abandoned work.
- Agreeing with the High Court, the Supreme Court concluded that her “conduct would constitute a voluntary abandonment of service, since she herself had declined to accept the various offers of service in the bank.”
- Retrenchment procedure under the Industrial Disputes Act will not apply to employees who have voluntarily “abandoned” work, the Supreme Court has held.
- Nepal on Tuesday imposed a monthly limit on the amount of Indian currency its citizen can spend in India. A spokesperson of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) said a Nepali citizen would be unable to spend more than ₹1 lakh per month while paying for goods and services in India and that the decision was taken to address the country’s current account deficit.
- The policy applicable to prepaid, credit and debit cards of Nepali banks came into effect on Tuesday.
- Central bank spokesperson Narayan Prasad Paudel said the decision was taken to deal with the growing problem of current account deficit and the balance of payment crisis.
- Kathmandu-based expert Achyut Wagle said India’s demonetisation had created a negative sentiment in Nepal and by taking charge of its currency, Kathmandu wanted to secure itself against any future Indian moves.
G. Prelims Fact
- The Odisha forest department is all set to add another olive ridley mass nesting site to its wildlife map.
- It has started preparing the beach at the Bahuda river mouth in Ganjam district to lure the endangered turtles to come over for mass nesting next year.
- Around 3-km stretch of the beach from Sunapur to Anantpur at Bahuda rookery is being developed as a possible olive ridley mass nesting site.
Olive Ridley Turtle
- Vulnerable — IUCN Red list
- Habitat — warm and tropical waters of primarily in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Atlantic ocean.
- Gets name from its olive colored carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded
- Arribadas — synchronized nesting in mass numbers,
- Operation Olivia — Olive Ridely Turtle protection program undertaken by Indian Coast Guard
- Mating and breeding season — winter
- Mostly carnivorous, feeding on such creatures as jellyfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp. They will occasionally eat algae and seaweed
- Threats -Poaching for their meat, shell and leather, and their eggs, pet trading, accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches, predators like feral dogs and pigs, ghost crabs, snakes, etc.
- Some important nesting sites in India – Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andra Pradesh), Gahirmatha beach (Odisha), Astaranga coast (Odisha), Beach of Rushikulya River.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed final tests of a hypersonic missile, which he had earlier said would render existing missile systems obsolete.
- “Russia has a new type of strategic weapon,” he said, adding that the intercontinental “Avangard” system would be ready for use from 2019.
- Avangard is a hypersonic glide vehicle developed by Russia.
- Avangard is a strategically valuable weapons for two main reasons, its maneuverability and its versatility.
- President Vladimir Putin announced that, “the weapon is capable of performing sharp maneuvers on its way to targets making it absolutely invulnerable for any missile defense system.”
- It also boasts the ability to deploy countermeasures during flight allowing it to penetrate air and missile defenses virtually undetected.
- As for its versatility, Avangard can be fitted with both nuclear and conventional payloads depending on a situation.
- Moreover, even without an explosive payload, the precision and speed of the weapon is believed to have enough force to obliterate smaller targets, such as vehicles or bases, making it an invaluable weapon in the Russian arsenal.
- The hypersonic missile could fly at 20 times the speed of sound and manoeuvre up and down, meaning that it could breach defence systems.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements regarding Inter-State Council:
- It was set up in 1990 on the recommendations of Sarkaria Commission.
- The council promotes cooperative federalism.
- Union Home Minister is the chairman of council.
Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?
- Only 1 and 2
- Only 1 and 3
- Only 2
- Only 2 and 3
Question 2. Which one of the following subjects is under the Union List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India?
- Regulation of labour and safety in mines and oilfields
- Public health
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
- A person who has held office as a permanent Judge of a High Court cannot plead or act in any court or before any authority in India except the Supreme Court.
- A person is not qualified for appointment as a Judge of a High Court in India unless he has held a judicial office in the territory of India for at least five years.
Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- None of the above
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- The debate for a separate time zone for the northeast has been in existence for as long as the history of modern India goes. In this context, analyse the pros and cons of having two time zones for the country. (10 Marks; 150 words)
- Recently, Chairman of India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI), Rajnish Kumar, said that loan waivers are not a permanent solution; instead, he argued for an investment scheme to increase the income of farmers on similar lines of Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu. Discuss the statement. (10 Marks; 150 words)
See previous CNA