01 Dec 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Bihar, Punjab take DGP issue to SC
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. SC defers hearing on Rohingya plea
2. Modi meets Trump, Putin ahead of G20 summit
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Oppn. rallies behind farmers
2. The back series GDP data
ENVIRONMENT
1. Paris Agreement can’t be renegotiated: India
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Neighbourhood first? (India-Maldives Relations)
2. Together in an uncertain world (India- EU Relations)
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. The death debate (Capital Punishment)
F. Tidbits
1. ‘Army not ready for women in combat roles’
2. Captive elephants enter Kerala registry
G. Prelims Fact
1. Ancient whale a key link to solve evolutionary puzzle
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Bihar, Punjab take DGP issue to SC

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the pleas of Bihar and Punjab seeking modification of an earlier order directing the States to mandatorily take assistance of the Union Public Service Commission in shortlisting names for appointing Director General of Police (DGP).
  • The top court, on July 3 this year, passed a slew of directions on police reforms in the country and chronicled the steps for appointment of regular DGPs.
  • The apex court, while deciding the PIL filed by two former DGPs Prakash Singh and N.K. Singh in 2006, had issued several directions, including setting up of a State Security Commission, to ensure that the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.

Present guidelines for appointing the DGP

  • The State government concerned has to send to the service commission the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire.
  • The UPSC will prepare a list of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.
  • It shall, as far as practicable, choose the people who have got a clear two years of service and must give due weightage to merit and seniority.
  • The State, in turn, shall immediately appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the commission.
  • States may make an endeavour to allow the DGP appointed to continue in office despite his or her date of superannuation, this extension of tenure should be only for a reasonable period.
  • On the practice of States appointing ‘Acting DGPs’, the court ordered that States shall not ever conceive of the idea of such appointments. There is no concept of Acting DGPs.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. SC defers hearing on Rohingya plea

Context

  • The Supreme Court on Friday deferred its hearing on a plea by Rohingya immigrants against the government’s proposed move to deport their 40,000-strong refugee community back to their native land of Myanmar, where discrimination and possibly summary execution await them.
  • The Rohingya community, which fled to India after violence in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar, have settled down in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.
  • The Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the case would be posted for final disposal in January.
  • The petitions have said the Centre’s move to deport them violates the constitutional guarantee that the Indian State should “protect the life and liberty of every human being, whether citizen or not.”
  • The petition filed in the Supreme Court submits that the 40,000-odd Rohingya in the country were recognised by the UNHCR in 2016 and given refugee identity cards. Their deportment would violate India’s commitment to international conventions that recognise the ‘Principle of Non-Refoulement.’ This prohibits the deportation of refugees to a country where they face threat to their lives.

Who are Rohingyas?

  • Rohingya Muslims comprise one million out of the 53 million people that live in Myanmar, forming the world’s largest stateless population in a single country.
  • Universally reviled by the country’s Buddhist majority, they have been oppressed by the government since the late 1970s when the government launched a campaign to identify ‘illegal immigrants’.
  • Serious abuses were committed, forcing as many as 250,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh.
  • The 1982 Citizenship Law in former Burma made the Rohingyas stateless people.
  • They have often been called the most persecuted minority in the world.
  • The 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims squeezed precariously into the north-west state of Rakhine, in mainly Buddhist Burma, bordering majority Muslim Bangladesh, are stateless and unwanted.

What are the living conditions?

  • The 2017 monsoon was a shocker as most of the refugees had come with almost nothing and they had nowhere to stay.
  • But now at least most of them have a roof overhead, though conditions are far from perfect, with large families cramped in tiny hutments.
  • Just a year ago, the hills near Kutupalong used to host wild elephants and leopards, but the tide of Rohingya refugees from across the Myanmar border has evicted the wildlife and removed the forest. On the denuded hills and knolls has emerged a gigantic slum colony supported mainly by Bangladesh.
  • China and India have also pledged support, but the real issue is the return of the refugees and ensuring justice for the victims who faced atrocities at the hands of the Myanmar military.
  • The ultimate fate of the 13 lakh refugees is being debated and it is not clear where they will finally reside.

2. Modi meets Trump, Putin ahead of G20 summit

Context

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday interacted with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of the G-20 summit.
  • The brief exchange of views took place before the first trilateral meeting between Mr. Modi, Mr. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scheduled for later in the day.

About G20

  • Formed in 1999, the G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
  • Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 percent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade.
  • To tackle the problems or the address issues that plague the world, the heads of governments of the G20 nations periodically participate in summits. In addition to it, the group also hosts separate meetings of the finance ministers and foreign ministers.
  • The G20 has no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.
  • The first G20 Summit was held in Berlin in December 1999 and was hosted by the finance ministers of Germany and Canada.
  • 2018 Summit will be the 13th meeting of Group of Twenty (G20) and the first G20 summit to be hosted in South America.

Member Countries

  • The members of the G20 consist of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU).
  • The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The European Union is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.

Objectives

  • The Group was formed with an aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • The forum aims to pre-empt balance of payments problems and turmoil on financial markets by improved coordination of monetary, fiscal, and financial policies.
  • The forum seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organisation.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Oppn. rallies behind farmers

Context

  • Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal shared the stage, for the first time, at Friday’s Kisan Mukti March, leading a show of Opposition unity in support of the farmers’ demands for fair prices and debt relief. Farmer leaders welcomed the political support as a sign that the agrarian crisis is now on top of the poll agenda in the run-up to the 2019 general election.
  • Thousands of farmers from across the country took to the capital’s streets under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), demanding that the government pass legislation to guarantee remunerative prices and debt relief.
  • Political parties spanning the Opposition spectrum turned up to express support at the protest venue on Parliament Street.

Significance of Agriculture

  • Though agriculture now accounts for less than 15% of gross domestic product (GDP), it is still the main source of livelihood for nearly half of our population.
  • Agriculture is still the core of our food security.
  • With rising population and increasing needs, imports will not solve these problems for ever.

Problems in Agriculture

  • There is an intense pressure of population on land resulting in low land- man ratio in rural areas.
  • The landlessness and presence of marginal farming households are the consequences of decades of land fragmentation.
  • The landless or marginal farmers lack the resources to either buy or lease more land or invest in farm infrastructure to compensate for the scarcity of land.
  • Government procurement at the minimum support price is supposed to protect these farmers but it mainly benefits the large traders.
  • Small farmers typically do not have enough marketable surplus to justify the cost of transporting the crop to government corporations in the towns.
  • Uncertainty with the price of the produce is a cause of concern. Many farmers continue to be at the mercy of the trader.
  • Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) are also unfavourable because farmers have to sell their produce through auctions in regulated markets controlled by cartels of licensed traders.
  • These cartels fix low purchase prices, extract large commissions, delay payments, etc.
  • Despite subsidies on power, fertilizers, etc., input costs have been rising faster than sale prices, squeezing the meagre income of the small farmers and driving them into debt.
  • Other risks include weather, a weak monsoon or even a delayed monsoon, weak soil fertility, pests and plant diseases, perishability of crops, etc.

2. The back series GDP data

Context

  • The government on Wednesday released the GDP growth estimates for previous years based on the new method of calculation and base year it had adopted in 2015.

Background

  • In 2015, the government adopted a new method for the calculation of the gross domestic product of the country, and also adopted the Gross Value Added measure to better estimate economic activity.
  • Further, the change involved a bringing forward of the base year used for calculations to 2011-12 from the previous 2004-05.
  • However, this had led to the problem of not being able to compare recent data with the years preceding 2011-12. The back series data released on Wednesday provided the earlier years’ data using the new calculations.

What does the new data say?

  • The new data release shows that GDP growth during the UPA years averaged 6.7% during both UPA-I and UPA-II, compared with the 8.1% and 7.46%, respectively, estimated using the older method. In comparison, the current government has witnessed an average GDP growth rate of 7.35% during the first four years of its term, based on the new method.
  • The new data shows that, contrary to the earlier perception, the Indian economy never graduated to a ‘high growth’ phase of more than 9% in the last decade or so. Former Chief Statistician of India TCA Anant also pointed out that the newer data, especially for the mining and manufacturing sectors, shows that India did not recover from the global financial crisis as quickly as initially thought.

What were the changes made?

  • The first and most basic change made in the data calculations was changing the base year. While using 2011-12 as the base year is simpler for calculations for subsequent years, it was a tougher exercise calculating backwards using the new base.
  • According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the method for preparing the back series is largely the same as what is used to calculate the data using the new base, which is how all national accounts calculations will be made going forward.
  • While doing the exercise, the government adopted the recommendations of the United Nations System of National Accounts, which included measuring the GVA, Net Value Added (NVA), and the use of new data sources wherever available. One of these data sources is the Ministry of Corporate Affairs MCA-21 database, which became available since 2011-12.
  • One problem encountered was in finding matching data for the older series as what the MCA-21 database provided. The key difference between the two was that the old method measured volumes — actual physical output in the manufacturing sector, crop production, and employment for the services sector. The MCA-21 database allows for a more granular approach, looking at the balance sheet data of each company and aggregating the performance of the sector from that, after adjusting for inflation.
  • For most sectors, simply changing the price vectors from a 2004-05 to a 2011-12 base was enough, but others required a splicing of new and old data in the relevant proportions to arrive at the closest approximation.
  • The new method is also statistically more robust as it tries to relate the estimates to more indicators such as consumption, employment, and the performance of enterprises, and also incorporates factors that are more responsive to current changes, unlike the old series that usually took 2-3 years to register an underlying change.

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Paris Agreement can’t be renegotiated: India

Context

  • India will resist attempts by countries to renegotiate the Paris Agreement, said one of India’s key negotiators at climate talks set to begin next week in Katowice, Poland.
  • “India won’t create obstacles…however, we want that the Conference of Parties-24 (discussions) be balanced, inclusive and consistent with the Paris Agreement,” said C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change. “Some countries are trying to reopen the Paris Agreement.”

What is Paris Agreement?

  • Paris Agreement is an international agreement to combat climate change.
  • From 30 November to 11 December 2015, the governments of 195 nations gathered in Paris, France, and discussed a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce the threat of dangerous climate change.
  • The 32-page Paris agreement with 29 articles is widely recognized as a historic deal to stop global warming.
  • As countries around the world recognized that climate change is a reality, they came together to sign a historic deal to combat climate change – Paris Agreement.

The aims of Paris Agreement

  • Keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.
  • Pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Neighbourhood first? (India-Maldives Relations)

Larger Background:

    • India and Maldives enjoy close ties of friendship and cooperation and share a common destiny. Peace and stability in Maldives is of utmost importance to India and the region.
    • Maldives is a nascent democracy and is in the process of strengthening its institutions and capacity building. India remains committed to assist the Government and people of Maldives in their endeavours to build a stable, democratic, peaceful and prosperous country. In this context, India is actively engaged with all stakeholders in the reconciliation process in the wake of recent developments, in order to ensure that they continue to take the democratic process forward.
    • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations. India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at the level of CDA in 1972 and resident High Commissioner in 1980. Maldives opened a full fledged High Commission in New Delhi in November 2004, at that time one of its only four diplomatic missions worldwide.  
    • Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives with a total strength of around 28000 plus. The Indian expatriate community consists of doctors, nurses and technicians, teachers, construction workers, tailors, etc. spread all over the country. Of the country’s approximately 400 doctors, over 125 are Indians. Similarly around 25% of teachers in Maldives are Indians, mostly at middle and senior levels.
  • It is important to note that India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for export of essential commodities. However, Bilateral trade is not commensurate with their potential.
  • The government of India’s vision of inclusive development also extends to our neighbourhood including Maldives.
  • Recently, the President of India as well noted that the government of Maldives has launched a 100-day action plan that is people-centric and aimed at transforming the lives of the people of Maldives. He stated that India will support the government of Maldives’ efforts and work in alignment with its identified priorities.

A Brief Account of India’s Assistance to the Maldives:

  • Following the tsunami waves that hit Maldives on the morning of 26 December 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to the Maldives.
  • The total cost of India’s relief operations has been estimated at Rs. 36.39 crores. Government of India also sanctioned a budget support aid of Rs.10 crores to Maldives in 2005 in response to President Gayoom’s request for financial help in view of the serious financial difficulties Maldives was facing on account of the tsunami and related factors. Again in 2007, following President Gayoom’s appeal in the aftermath of tidal surges in Maldives, Government of India gave a cash assistance of Rs.10 crores.
  • During the visit of President Nasheed to India in December 2008, Government of India extended a Standby Credit Facility of US$100 million to Maldives. Again a new Standby Credit Facility of US$ 100 million was extended to Government of Maldives during the November 2011 visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh to Maldives.

Editorial Analysis:

The Issue:

  • There were many “firsts” in the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Maldives in mid-November, 2018.  
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Maldives to attend the swearing-in of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the country’s President.

The noteworthy points from this visit were the following:

  • This was Mr. Modi’s first visit to the Maldives.
  • Maldives was also the only country in South Asia he had not yet visited in his tenure.
  • This was also the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in seven years to the Maldives.
  • Further, the only time a visit by Mr. Modi had been planned, in 2015, he cancelled his travel plan abruptly, to register a strong protest at the treatment of opposition leaders, who are now in government.
  • However, one development that was not as prominent, was that despite inviting all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders to his own swearing-in ceremony in May 2014, the Maldives visit marked the first time Mr. Modi attended the swearing-in ceremony of any other leader.
  • The fact that he did, and chose to be one among the audience rather than on stage, may be a more visible sign of a new, softer neighbourhood policy than the one Mr. Modi’s government has pursued in previous years.

Developments in the year 2018

  • Experts point out that the current year, 2018, has marked a year of reaching out in the region by the Modi government in general, with a view to dial down disagreements that otherwise marked ties with major powers such as Russia and China.
  • Further, while Mr. Modi’s “Wuhan summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the “Sochi retreat” with Russian President Vladimir Putin merited much attention, it is important to take stock of attempts at rapprochement in the immediate neighbourhood.

The Surrounding Geopolitics

  • With Nepal, some experts have opined that India’s moves were a clear turn-around from the ‘tough love’ policy since the 2015 blockade.
  • They add that India seemed to want nothing more than to usher Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli out of power.
  • However in the year 2018, experts have critically pointed out that when Mr. Oli was re-elected, despite his anti-India campaign, the Government of India reached out and, in a highly unconventional move, despatched External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Kathmandu even before Mr. Oli had been invited to form the government.
  • Since this event, Mr. Oli has been invited to Delhi and Mr. Modi has made two visits to Nepal, with a third one planned in December to be part of the “Vivaha Panchami” festival. Experts have pointed out that the frequency of visits in 2018 are in stark contrast to the three preceding years, when Mr. Modi did not visit Nepal at all.
  • As a matter of fact, similar comparisons abound with India’s reaction to major developments in the neighbourhood.
  • Critics have pointed out that in the Maldives, when a state of emergency was declared by the previous regime of Abdulla Yameen, India made no attempt to threaten him militarily despite expectations of domestic commentators and Western diplomats.
  • Further, when Mr. Yameen went further, denying visas to thousands of Indian job seekers and naval and military personnel stationed there, India’s response was to say that every country has a right to decide its visa policy.

Concluding Remarks:

  • With elections in Bhutan (completed) and Bangladesh (to be held in December 2018), as well as the ongoing political crisis in Sri Lanka, India has chosen to make no public political statement that could be construed as interference or preference for one side over the other.
  • Experts point out that perhaps the biggest policy shift this year, 2018, was carried out as a concession to the Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul.
  • Experts also point out that after a policy of more than two decades of refusing to engage with the Taliban, or even sit at the table with them, in November 2018, India sent envoys to the Moscow conference on Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s representatives were present.
  • It is important to note that the U.S. chose to send a diplomat based in Moscow as an “observer”, but the Indian delegation of former Ambassadors to the region represented non-official “participation” at the event. The shift was palpable. Earlier, the government had stayed aloof from the process, explaining that any meeting outside Afghanistan crossed the redline on an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution”. While the change in position was eventually achieved by a high-level outreach by the Russian government, which has projected the conference as a big diplomatic success, India’s participation had been nudged by President Ghani himself.
  • President of Afghanistan, Ghani had made a strong pitch for backing talks with the Taliban during a visit to Delhi in mid-September, 2018. Both in his meeting with Mr. Modi and in a public speech, Mr. Ghani had stressed that the Islamic State and “foreign terrorists” were the problem in Afghanistan, as opposed to the Afghan Taliban itself, and talks with them had the support of the Afghan people.
  • Experts suggest that Whatever India’s reservations may have been about the Taliban, the Modi government eventually decided to extend its participation to the Moscow event.

The Kartarpur Corridor Perspective:  

  • Given the above context, it may be possible to see the India’s latest shift. The Government of India recently sent two Union Ministers to Pakistan to join Prime Minister Imran Khan for the ground-breaking ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor, as part of the larger pattern of softening towards the neighbourhood.
  • It is important to note that no Indian Minister has visited Pakistan since the Uri attack in September 2016, and after the cancellation of Foreign Minister talks at the UN this year, it was assumed that the government would not pursue conciliatory proposals with the new government in Islamabad.
  • It is also significant to note that the current Government in India and the Prime Minister has chosen not to make Pakistan an electoral issue in the current round of State elections, as they did during last year’s Assembly polls.
  • While it seems unlikely that the larger shift required for a Prime Ministerial visit to Pakistan for the SAARC summit is possible before elections next year, it is not inconceivable that people-to-people ties, of the kind Mr. Modi spoke of in his speech comparing the transformative potential of the Kartarpur corridor to the falling of the Berlin wall, will be allowed to grow.
  • Finally, all these moves lead to the question, why has the government decided to make the change from playing big brother in the neighbourhood to a more genial and avuncular version of its previous self?
  • One reason that experts suggest is the backlash which the Government of India received from some of its smallest neighbours like Nepal and the Maldives, that didn’t take kindly to being strong-armed, even if India projected its advice to be in their best interests.
  • Another reason that experts suggest could be the conscious rolling back of India’s previous policy of dissuading neighbours from Chinese engagement to now standing back as they learn the risks of debt-traps and over-construction of infrastructure on their own.
  • It is important to note that India’s own rapprochement with China post-Wuhan in the spirit of channelling both “cooperation and competition together” has also led to this outcome.
  • In conclusion, it must be stressed, however, that retreating from an aggressive position must not give the impression that India is retrenching within the region, opening space for the U.S.-China rivalry to play out in its own backyard.
  • Further, the most obvious reason for the government’s neighbourhood policy shift of 2018, that resounds closer to the “neighbourhood first” articulation of 2014, is that general elections are around the corner.
  • This leads to the question, is the new policy simply a temporary move or a more permanent course correction: Neighbourhood 2.0 or merely Neighbourhood 1.2.0?

2. Together in an uncertain world (India- EU Relations)

Editorial Analysis:

  • The month of November, 2018 saw the European Union releasing its strategy on India after 14 years.
  • Launching the strategy document, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to India, Tomasz Kozlowski, underlined that “India is on the top of the agenda of the EU in the field of external relations… this strategy paper reflects that EU has taken India’s priorities very seriously. We are ready for a joint leap.”
  • It is important to note that the 2004 EU-India declaration on building bilateral strategic partnership, which this road map replaces, has not had much of a success in reconfiguring the relationship as was expected.

A Transformative shift?

    • The new document is sweeping in its scope and lays out a road map for strengthening the EU-India partnership, which has been adrift for a while in the absence of a clearly articulated strategy.
    • The new strategy underscores a transformative shift in Brussels vis-à-vis India and talks of key focus areas such as the need to conclude a broader Strategic Partnership Agreement, intensifying dialogue on Afghanistan and Central Asia, strengthening technical cooperation on fighting terrorism, and countering radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorist financing.
  • Further, what is more significant from the perspective of the EU, which has been traditionally shy of using its hard power tools, is a recognition of the need to develop defence and security cooperation with India.
    • Despite sharing a congruence of values and democratic ideals, India and the EU have both struggled to build a partnership that can be instrumental in shaping the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the 21st century.
  • Critics point out that both India and the EU complain of the other’s ignorance, and often arrogance, and both have their own litany of grievances.
  • However, experts point out that where India’s relations with individual EU nations have progressed dramatically over the last few years and the EU’s focus on India has grown, it has become imperative for the two to give each other a serious look.
  • From a global perspective, we are in an age when U.S. President Donald Trump is turning the global liberal order that is so dear to the Europeans upside down; also China’s rise is challenging the very values which Brussels likes to showcase as the ones underpinning global stability, a substantive engagement with India is a natural corollary.

What experts suggest?

  • Experts suggest that the Government of India too has shed India’s diffidence of the past in engaging with the West.
  • However, India has found the bureaucratic maze of Brussels rather difficult to navigate and in the process, ignored the EU as a collective. At times, India also objected to the high moralistic tone emanating from Brussels.

Where individual nations of the EU started becoming more pragmatic in their engagement with India, Brussels continued to be big-brotherly in its attitude on political issues and ignorant of the geostrategic imperatives of Indian foreign and security policies.

  • As a consequence, what followed was a limited partnership which largely remained confined to economics and trade. Further, even as the EU emerged as India’s largest trading partner and biggest foreign investor, the relationship remained devoid of any strategic content.
  • Critics point out that though the Modi government did initially make a push for reviving the talks on EU-India bilateral trade and investment agreement, nothing much of substance has happened on the bilateral front.
  • However, as the wider EU political landscape evolves after Brexit, and India seeks to manage the turbulent geopolitics in Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, both recognise the importance of engaging each other.

Concluding Remarks:

    • There is a new push in Brussels to emerge as a geopolitical actor of some significance and India is a natural partner in many respects.
    • Also, it is important to note that there is widespread disappointment with the trajectory of China’s evolution and the Trump administration’s disdain for its Western allies is highly disruptive.
    • At a time when India’s horizons are widening beyond South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Brussels is also being forced to look beyond its periphery.
    • The EU will be part of the International Solar Alliance, and has invited India to escort World Food Programme vessels to transport food to Somalia. The two have been coordinating closely on regional issues.
    • The new India strategy document unveiled by the EU, therefore, comes at an appropriate time when both have to seriously recalibrate their partnership.
    • Merely reiterating that India and the EU are “natural partners” is not enough, and the areas outlined in the document, from security sector cooperation to countering terrorism and regional security, need to be focussed on.
    • India needs resources and expertise from the EU for its various priority areas, such as cybersecurity, urbanisation, environmental regeneration, and skill development.
    • As the EU shifts its focus to India, New Delhi should heartily reciprocate this outreach.
  • In the past, India had complained that Brussels does not take India seriously and that despite the two not having any ideological affinity, the EU-China relations carried greater traction. Now all that might change.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. The death debate (Capital Punishment)

Note to Students:

Students are requested to go through the video available on YouTube which we at BYJUS had recorded on the issue concerning capital punishment.

Editorial Analysis:

The Issue:

  • In a recent development, Justice Kurian Joseph has re-ignited a debate that is important and requires serious thought surrounding the merits of retaining the death penalty.
  • What he said cannot be ignored, though the law laid down in Bachan Singh (1980), upholding the validity of the death penalty and laying down guidelines for awarding death in ‘the rarest of rare’ cases’, still holds the field.
  • Further, even the other two judges on the Bench have disagreed with Justice Joseph’s view that the time has come to review the death penalty, its purpose and practice.

A Brief Note on the Bachan Singh (1980) Case:

    • The Indian judiciary pointed out their view regarding death penalty by ruling out in Bacchan singh vs state of Punjab that the death penalty must be restricted to the “rarest of rare” cases.
    • It is important to note that this view of Supreme Court was very much favoring to minimize the use of capital punishment to penalize the criminals, but this view of the  highest court in the country was contradicted by the legislation by increasing the number of crimes for which capital punishment is awarded.
    • It is important to note that the Constitution clearly states in Article 21 that no person shall be deprived of Right to life unless done following due process of law but Capital punishment denies due process of law.
  • Its imposition is always irrevocable – forever depriving an individual of the opportunity to benefit from new evidence or new laws that might warrant the reversal of a conviction, or the setting aside of a death sentence.

The Different Dimensions of the debate:

  • Experts point out that it is impossible to ignore the ethical and practical dimensions of the debate in a world that is increasingly questioning the wisdom of capital punishment.
  • Further, Justice Joseph has underscored the arbitrary manner in which it is awarded by different judges and the way public discourse influences such decisions.
  • Also, concerns over judge-centric variations have been raised in the past. The Supreme Court itself spoke of the “extremely uneven application” of the norms laid down in Bachan Singh.
  • It is important to note that the Law Commission, in its Report in 2015, said the constitutional regulation of capital punishment attempted in that case has failed to prevent death sentences from being “arbitrarily and freakishly imposed”.
  • Justice Joseph seems to endorse the Commission’s assertion that “there exists no principled method to remove such arbitrariness from capital sentencing”.
  • In individual cases, much of the conversation about the maximum sentence that may be imposed usually revolves around the nature of the crime, its gravity and cruelty, and the number of fatalities. In recent times, public outrage, the need for deterrence, and the clamour for a befitting punishment to render substantial justice have dominated the discourse. Theories of punishment on whether it ought to be punitive, retributive, reformative or restorative are less relevant to the public imagination and the law enforcers when the crime is grave and heinous.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts point out that there is a conflict between those who sense the danger of inconsistent application and those who believe in condign justice.
  • Further, this conflict can be resolved only if the debate is taken to a higher plane: a moral position that there shall be no death penalty in law, regardless of the nature, circumstances and consequences of an offence.
  • Experts suggest that the Supreme Court has covered considerable ground in limiting the scope, to the ‘rarest of rare cases’.
  • Post-appeal reviews and curative petitions are routinely admitted. Review petitions are now heard in open court. The treatment of death row prisoners has been humanised, and there is scope for judicial review even against a sovereign decision denying clemency.
  • In conclusion, if there still prevails a perception of arbitrariness in the way death sentences are awarded, the only lasting solution is their abolition. The views of the Law Commission and Justice Joseph should not be ignored.

F. Tidbits

1. ‘Army not ready for women in combat roles’

 

  • Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday that while the force would take in increasing numbers of woman officers in the coming years, it wasn’t ready yet to cast them in combat roles.
  • “You will see an increase in the role of women in the armed forces. But we are not yet ready for them in front-line combat roles. Facilities for that need to be created from within and the women need to be prepared to face those kinds of hardships,” he said on the sidelines of the Passing Out Parade of the 135th course at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla here.
  • The Army Chief said that it was pointless comparing the culture here to that of the Western nations which was much more open. “While we may be [culturally and socially] more open in our big cities, our Army personnel do not come only from the big cities. Large numbers come from the rural areas where the intermingling between genders is still not there,” he said.
  • Rawat, however, pointed out that there were several fields where women could be inducted and said that the Army was contemplating setting up a Permanent Commission for women in the forces.

2. Captive elephants enter Kerala registry

 

  • As many as 521 elephants were enumerated in the massive exercise undertaken by the Forests and Wildlife Department on the basis of a Supreme Court order.
  • These included 401 male elephants, 98 female elephants, and 22 ‘makhna’ (tusk-less male elephants; also known as ‘mozha’ in local parlance).
  • Several details pertaining to the elephants, including measurements, permanent shelters, and information of owners and mahouts, were collected during the census. Besides, forest officials also examined various documents, including ownership certificates and registers for recording the elephants’ work, feed, movement, treatment, disease and vaccination, and musth, besides the data-book issued by the department.
  • The microchip embedded in the animals and their DNA profiles were also ascertained.
  • Sources said many elephants were found maintained without proper documentation. The Supreme Court order had permitted granting provisional certificates in such cases.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Ancient whale a key link to solve evolutionary puzzle

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. NovaSAR and S1-4 are 
  1. Asteroids recently fallen on earth
  2. Newly discovered galaxies
  3. Satellites launched by ISRO
  4. Recently found asteroids

See

Answer
Question 2. Which country launched world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train?
  1. United States of America
  2. India
  3. Switzerland
  4. Germany

See

Answer
Question 3. Which of the following diseases are considered to be Lifestyle Diseases? 
  1. Diabetes
  2. Chronic liver disease
  3. Cancer
  4. AIDS
  5. Atherosclerosis

Choose the correct options:

  1. 1,2,3,4,5
  2. 2,4,5
  3. 1,2,3,5
  4. 1,2,3,4,5

See

Answer

 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Pune has recently hosted an international conference on microbiome research — a field of study that is still in its infancy in India. What do you understand by human microbiome? Why is it important to study human microbiome? (150 words)
  2. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has predicted that there is a 75-80% chance of a weak El Niño weather pattern forming by February and a slightly lower likelihood that it will continue through the northern hemisphere winter of 2018-19. In this context write a note El Nino by highlighting its causes and effects.
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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