17 Dec 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
HISTORY
1. Vijay Diwas
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. Direct benefit transfer scheme for TB patients makes slow progress
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Information Fusion Centre (IFC)
C. GS3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. N-E varsity researchers patent process to treat industrial waste
2. GSAT-7A
ENVIRONMENT
1. Tiger Deaths
2. Markermeer
ECONOMY
1. Tourism Economy
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Restoration of political sanity
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. The spectre of deportation (Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC))
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
1. Great Indian bustard
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Category: Vijay Diwas

  • It is commemorated every year on the 16th of December in India.
  • On this date in 1971, Pakistan’s General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi along with 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the allied forces of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Bangladesh.
  • After winning the War of Liberation, East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Details

  • The backdrop to the War of 1971 was the state of politics in Pakistan where the Bengali Muslims of East Pakistan were clearly resistant to the idea of being subjugated by the dominant Punjabi and Mohajir influence.
  • Besides language, it was the sharing of resources between East Pakistan and West Pakistan which created the cleavage.
  • Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of the current prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajed, was illegally denied his electoral victory in 1970 by Pakistan’s ruling military coterie greatly influenced by Zulfiqar Bhutto, the hugely anti-India ex-foreign minister under Ayub Khan.
  • The crisis spilled into the streets of East Pakistan and became a point of no return in March 1971. The Pakistan army launched a reign of terror on the Bengalis, exacerbating the situation with an initial displacement of a million refugees who spilled across the border into India.
  • In a path-breaking set of strategic decisions under advice from the iconic Field Marshal (then General) Sam Manekshaw, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi awaited the right moment, prepared the nation and the armed forces, cultivated international opinion and signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, before launching India into a show of arms instigated by Pakistan.
  • In 14 days of conventional war fighting aided by the Mukti Bahini (the nationalist guerilla force of Bengali Muslims), Pakistan was roundly defeated resulting in the creation of Bangladesh as a free and independent nation.

Introspection

  • Vijay Diwas should be more appropriately used to self-examination on the state of national security; at different levels and with diverse understanding of the term “security”.
  • Professional military advice in national security and especially emergent situations is something a political leader can ignore only at the cost of the nation’s peril.
  • If the armed forces have to deliver, then they need to be at optimum preparedness levels at all time, especially now, when wars can be triggered on the basis of public anger and pressure instigated by major acts of terror on Indian soil.

So alongside celebration there should be introspection about the state of preparedness, should we ever be threatened again.

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. Direct benefit transfer scheme for TB patients makes slow progress

Context

  • The direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for nutritional support to Tuberculosis (TB) patients — Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) has recorded slow progress in the last eight months

Details

  • Of the 18 lakh registered TB patients across the country, only 4.69 lakh, barely 26% of the beneficiary pool, have received cash transfer so far.
  • This is because many of the rural poor either do not have a bank account or are migrant patients, whose bank accounts are difficult to be captured.

Transfer to blood relative

  • In case the beneficiary does not have an account in his/her own name, but a family member (spouse, parents, brother/sister /blood relatives) has a bank account, the health staff/treatment supporter can transfer the benefits of NPY to the account of a family member by obtaining an undertaking from the beneficiary
  • Also for beneficiaries who do not have a bank account even in his family member’s name, provision of opening zero balance bank account is available under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Indian Postal Bank.
  • The District Magistrates/Collectors should ensure that zero balance bank accounts for the TB patients are opened expeditiously. The District TB officers should coordinate with the Lead Bank manager, nodal officer for PMJDY and Postal Bank in the district

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

Context

  • The Navy will formally inaugurate the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Details

  • This center will provide information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, which will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.
    • White-shipping refers to commercial shipping information about the movement of cargo ships.
  • The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, which is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  • All countries that have signed white shipping information exchange agreements with India, about 21 of them, are IFC partners.

Significance

  • The IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region
  • Establishment of the IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.
  • This will help in addressing issues related to Piracy by mutual coordination with other countries.
  • This will also help in tackling the growing influence of china in the region.

Trans-Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN)

  • India has signed the ascension agreement to join the Trans-Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN).
  • The pact will give India access to information on ships which pass through the Indian Ocean region that will greatly help the security forces in keeping a tab on any suspicious activity.
  • The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. N-E varsity researchers patent process to treat industrial waste

Context

  • Researchers from the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) based in Meghalaya capital Shillong have patented a fast, energy-efficient and low-cost process for treatment and bio-detoxification of industrial effluents contaminated with harmful azo-dye.

Background

  • The traditional treatment of environmentally damaging waste-water effluents with appropriate chemicals processes such as chemical precipitation, coagulation and electrocoagulation only transfers the contaminating chemical entities and chemical groups of the waste-water to other media, thereby producing secondary wastes.
  • In some cases, these secondary wastes, intermediates and by-products formed by the second process of chemical remediation or detoxification may produce equally or more toxic chemical entities than the original toxicants and pollutants

Concerns

  • Most strains of E. coli, a common kind of bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and people, are Their survival is crucial for bio-flora and fauna
  • The release of such effluents into the environment could adversely affect the survival of aquatic micro-organisms, flora and fauna, thereby disturbing the entire ecosystem and ecological balance.

Current Scenario

  • The so-called waste-water is not really suitable for release directly into streams, rivers and other water bodies. So the reserchers recognised this serious shortcoming of the existing technologies in the domain, and came up with the innovative technology
  • The ‘green process’ developed for treating waste-water from industries such as textile, leather and paint is 25% faster, 40% more energy-efficient and more sustainable than the existing technology.
  • This process has also been found to leave the discharge environmentally benign and thus likely to be equally non-toxic to other bio-flora and fauna.

2. GSAT-7A

  • It is a Military communication satellite
  • Although all Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations.
  • This new space-based dimension adds color to the way the Indian Air Force interlinks, operates and communicates with its aircraft as they fly and with command centres on ground
  • This satellite using Ku band will enable superior real time aircraft-to-aircraft communication; and between planes that are in flight and their commanders on the ground.
  • It will also support aerial activities of the Army and the Navy when required.
  • The GSAT-7A incorporates Chemical Propulsion System to provide an operational mission life of a minimum of eight years.
    • Chemical propulsion will be used for orbit raising as well as for on orbit attitude correction
    • Sufficient redundancy is built into the Spacecraft for continued service.

Context

  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – F11 (GSLV-F11), will undertake its 13th flight carrying the 35th Indian Communication satellite GSAT-7A built by the ISRO.
  • It will place the 2,250-kg GSAT-7A communication satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

GSLV – F11

It is ISRO’s fourth generation launch vehicle with three stages.

  • The four liquid strap-ons and a solid rocket motor at the core form the first stage.
  • The second stage is equipped with high thrust engine using liquid fuel.
  • The Cryogenic Upper Stage forms the third and final stage of the vehicle.

Significance

  • It would enhance by many times the coverage now provided by ground communication systems such as radars and stations of the Army.
  • Out-of-sight and remote areas where ground infrastructure and signals are difficult would get into the critical information loop.
  • The satellite is expected to help the IAF interconnect with various ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft.
  • Pilots can communicate much better with headquarters while they fly. Headquarters can receive data in real time.

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Tiger Deaths

Context

  • According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) records till December 15, 2018, there were 95 cases of tiger deaths in the country. Of this, 41 cases of tiger deaths outside tiger reserves have been reported.
  • The NTCA maintains the official database of tiger mortality in the country, and compiles figures from reports sent by different States on the basis of recovery of bodies or seizure of body parts.

Stats

Causes of Death

  • One of the major reason why tigers are dying in Maharashtra is because many of the tigers are living outside tiger reserves.
  • In several areas, tigers are not only living outside reserve areas, but are venturing into human dominated landscapes, which increases the probability of human-animal conflict and results in deaths.

2. Markermeer

  • It is one of Europe’s largest freshwater lakes.
  • The lake was once part of the Zuiderzee, an engineering wonder of the world completed in 1932, which closed off a huge expanse of water to keep out the North Sea and combat flooding.
  • Vital in a country where 26% of the land is below sea level, the scheme created an inland lake and polders, land reclaimed from the sea, but at a cost to the environment.
  • Over the subsequent decades, sediment used to create a dyke separating the Markermeer from a neighbouring body of water, the Ijsselmeer, washed away and sunk to the bottom of the lake.
  • That turned the water cloudy, negatively impacting fish and bird populations, plants and molluscs.
  • This lake once was teeming with fish, But this vast 700-square-km expanse of water, is currently devoid of aquatic life.

Context

  • Dutch engineers build artificial islands to bring wildlife back.
  • The Marker Wadden is an artificial archipelago in development located in the Markermeer.

Details

  • The project, initiated by Natuurmonumenten, a Dutch non-governmental organisation, cost €60 million ($68 million) — much of it donated by individuals.
  • The main aims was to create breeding grounds, islands and coastline and to improve the water ecology of the Markermeer. The project creates a wetland, comparable with the Wadden Sea.
  • The Dutch used an innovative technique, forming the islets with silt, a sedimentary formation halfway between clay and sand.
  • So the uniqueness of the project is use of silt while sand is used world over.

Significance

  • There is increase in plankton activity that guarantees a large amount of food for the birds.
  • Greylag goose, common tern, several species of waders such as the great egret and the night heron have also returned, testifying to the islands’ success.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Tourism Economy

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Restoration of political sanity

Note to Students:

The issue surrounding the constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka has been a topical issue for sometime now. We at BYJUs have recorded a video lecture on the issue which is available under the below link:

Context:

Why in the news?

    • Recently, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa, his erstwhile political rival, as the new Prime Minister.
    • Subsequently, on 14th December, 2018, Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to resign as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.  
  • Also, recently the Supreme Court ruled categorically that President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of Parliament on November 9, 2018 was illegal and void.
  • Experts believe that the crisis was an outcome of the uneasy coalition between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe which was formed with the main objective of defeating Rajapaksa in the previous elections.

At the heart of the constitutional dispute:

  • A provision in the 1978 Sri Lankan Constitution provided for the dismissal of the Prime Minister by the President after one year of Parliamentary elections.
  • However, this was removed through a constitutional amendment in 2015. The recent development has created a constitutional logjam with both sides claiming the validity of one over the other and it is likely to be hammered out through unconstitutional means which would be a big blow to democratic norms.
  • There is a much bigger structural problem that underlies the ongoing crisis.
  • Sri Lanka has had four different constitutions since Independence and Ranil Wickremesinghe was pushing for a fifth constitution.
  • This multiplicity of constitutions and the long ethnic war has not allowed Sri Lanka to settle basic constitutional questions such as:
  1. Executive Presidency vs Westminster Model,
  2. Division of powers between the President and the Prime Minister,
  3. Unitary vs Federal System etc.
    • The constitution of 1978 gave Sri Lanka a powerful President who shared powers with the Prime Minister and this was largely modelled on the French constitution.
    • This arrangement continued until the end of Rajapaksa’s regime in 2015, so much so that Rajapaksa’s government was accused of being an authoritarian government with complete disregard to human rights of Tamil minorities and fundamental rights of its citizens.
    • This was partially corrected by the coalition government of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe which was elected in 2015.
    • However, the structural problems continue to persist and can be rectified either by a court of law or through popular struggle. What compounds matters is the India vs China faceoff, where in both powers are eager to establish their strategic supremacy.
  • It is also important to note that the constitutional provision which Mr. Sirisena has cited in the official letter to Mr. Wickremesinghe does not grant the President authority to remove a Prime Minister from office.

A Closer Look:

  • It is important to note that Section 42(4) of the Sri Lankan Constitution merely enables the President to appoint a PM.
    • The President has taken the position that since he is the appointing authority, he also has the implicit power to sack the PM.
  • Further, it is important to note that the PM is not a public servant who can be sacked by the appointing authority at his will. It is a constitutional office with protection from the executive. This is the crux of the constitutional dispute.
  • Experts point out that the entire operation of altering the composition of the government seems to have been executed in a great hurry and in secrecy.
  • Some experts have also labelled this a ‘constitutional coup’. What lends credence to this is the fact that there there is a lack of clarity as to whether Mr. Sirisena’s letter (removing Mr. Wickremesinghe) had actually reached him by the time Mr. Rajapaksa was sworn in.

19th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution:

  • It is important to note that the 19th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, was passed in 2015 under the joint political leadership of both Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe.
  • The 19th Amendment restricted the powers of the President under the 1978 Constitution (the original) as well as the 18th Amendment passed in 2010.
  • Among the presidential powers taken away by the 19th Amendment, which is valid, is the one pertaining to the President’s powers over the PM.
  • The 19th Amendment created a dual executive.
  • The 19th Amendment also made the PM’s position secure from the arbitrary actions of the President. Thus, the office of the PM falls vacant only under limited circumstances.

These limited circumstances include:

  1. Death,
  2. voluntary resignation,
  3. loss of support in Parliament,
  4. rejection by Parliament of the budget, and
  5. ceasing to be an MP are these circumstances.

It is important to note that the sacking by the President is certainly not in this list.

  • By this change, the 19th Amendment has also restored the Westminster framework of relationship between the head of state, the PM, and Parliament.
    • All these make the constitutionality as well as democratic legitimacy of the actions of Mr. Sirisena less than clear.
    • An argument put forward on behalf of the President is that when the United People’s Freedom Alliance, which was a partner in the so-called unity government, informed the Speaker that it was leaving the ruling coalition, the cabinet automatically stood dissolved, thereby creating a vacancy for the office of the PM.
  • However, this is not an argument derived from any explicit provision of the Constitution. It is merely a political argument. What it does is no more than confirm that the composition of the coalition government was altered. It does not automatically lead to the loss of constitutional validity of the cabinet and the position of the person holding the office of the PM.

Conflicting Interpretations of the Constitution?

  • Some lawyers even point to a discrepancy between the English and Sinhala texts of the Constitution and claim the President, as per the Sinhala version, still has the power to remove a Prime Minister.
  • Other constitutional lawyers have argued that while there is a discrepancy in language and framing, the import and essence of the Sinhala text is consistent with that in English, especially when read along with the rest of the Constitution in Sinhala.
  • On the dissolution of Parliament, the President does not have the powers to dissolve Parliament within four-and-a-half years of its convening, unless requested by two-thirds of its members, as per the 19th Amendment.
  • The President’s side has invoked Article 33(2) C that lists the powers to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament, in addition to his existing powers.
  • Nevertheless, critics have noted that while the Article is a general enumeration of his powers, it is the 19th Amendment’s specific provision that must prevail in such a situation.

Position taken by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka:

  • It is important to note that the President’s credibility has taken yet another beating after the Supreme Court ruled categorically that his dissolution of Parliament on November 9, 2018 was illegal and void.
  • The court has rejected the President’s claim that he had an unfettered right to dissolve Parliament at any time, notwithstanding provisions in the Constitution that barred such action for the first four and a half years of the legislature’s term. The court dismissed his camp’s attempt to stretch and twist the meaning of some constitutional provisions in order to justify his bizarre actions. Although Mr. Sirisena has been obstinately sticking to his position that he will not appoint Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister “even if all 225 members” were with him, there are indications he may be forced to alter his stand.
  • In conclusion, experts opine that nothing short of respecting the current composition of Parliament and reinstating Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister will solve the current imbroglio.

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts have pointed out that new space has emerged for de-escalating Sri Lanka’s political crisis with the timely and judicious intervention by the Sri Lankan Supreme Court.
  • Following the two rulings made by the top court in Sri Lanka in December 2018, Ranil Wickremesinghe — the Prime Minister who was sacked on October 26, 2018 by Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka’s President — was again sworn in as the new Prime Minister. The new cabinet is now scheduled to be sworn-in on the 17th of December, 2018.
  • It is important to note that with the Wickremesinghe-led United National Front (UNF) now back in power, the 50-day long tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa, who replaced Mr. Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister, has also come to an abrupt end.
  • Further, Mr. Rajapaksa, who was appointed on October 26, 2018, could not properly function as his appointment was legally challenged by the Wickremesinghe camp.
  • Also, Mr. Sirisena’s order, on November 9, 2018 to dissolve Parliament was also legally challenged, leading to a situation where Sri Lanka was without an effective government for six weeks. Now, as a result of judicial intervention, Sri Lanka has a new government that enjoys constitutional validity.
  • Thus almost seven weeks of unprecedented political turmoil and governance vacuum have come to an end, at least for the moment.

The Role of the Supreme Court

  • Experts point out that the huge significance of the Supreme Court’s role in restoring constitutional governance for Sri Lanka’s democracy warrants no exaggeration.
  • As a matter of fact, when Mr. Sirisena changed the government on October 26, 2018 and dissolved Parliament sometime after, there were serious doubts about the constitutionality of his shocking and sudden actions.
  • It is important to note that under the reformed presidential system in Sri Lanka with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the President’s powers over the Prime Minister, the cabinet and Parliament are severely restricted.
  • Further, due to conflicts that developed within the coalition government that was jointly led by Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe, Mr. Sirisena seemed to have disregarded the constitutional limits of his legitimate authority.
  • Experts point out that it is his acts of constitutional transgression that the Supreme Court has now reversed and corrected.

Landmark Judgement by the Supreme Court:

  • It is important to note that the most significant feature of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of three major political decisions made by Mr. Sirisena is the re-emergence of the judiciary with a clear sense of institutional autonomy and independence.
  • This is all the more important given the thoroughly negative political consequences a judicial endorsement of the President’s actions would have carried.
  • The highest court of the country asserted itself against the arbitrary exercise of constitutional authority by the head of the executive and refused to be submissive to the executive.
  • It also protected the institutional autonomy of the legislature and ensured the constitutional protection to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
  • In doing so, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ultimately proved itself to be a reliable arbiter of disputes that have the potential to endanger democracy and the freedom and rights of the country’s citizens.
  • Experts believe that the two decisions by the Supreme Court taken in December 2018 are not only landmark judgments but are also future-defining judicial verdicts.
  • It is believed that hereafter, Sri Lanka’s political leaders or their random legal advisers, both official and unofficial, cannot take for granted the limits of political power as set out in the Constitution.
  • Thus, Mr. Sirisena’s loss is in fact a gain for Sri Lanka’s democracy and its freedom-loving citizen.

A citizens’ awakening

    • Experts believe that this happy end to the constitutional crisis — which is only one part of the larger crisis — also shows the resilience of Sri Lanka’s democracy, amid periodic setbacks.
    • Further, Mr. Sirisena’s act of stabbing democracy in the back has not only outraged many citizens, particularly young voters, but also led to a reactive regeneration and sudden burst of political activism, participation and resistance by citizens.
  • Citizens committed to defending constitutional governance, democracy, and freedom found themselves spontaneously mobilised.
  • This was also the time when political humour — its creation, enjoyment, and sharing of it on social media — emerged as the sharpest political weapon available to citizens. In brief, there was a republicanist surge of political consciousness, education, participation, and activism by citizens in defence of political freedom.
  • It is also important to note that the opening of Sri Lanka’s democratic space, ironically under the leadership of the same President, Mr. Sirisena, in January 2015 seems to have had a lasting effect on the political commitment of citizens to defend democracy the moment they see it facing an imminent danger.
  • Nearly seven weeks of continuous political resistance by a multiplicity of citizens’ groups, defying the government, probably set the example for the judiciary also to be courageous in performing its constitutional duty.
  • Ironically again, these are all positive outcomes of the democratic revival of January 2015 that Mr. Sirisena co-authored and which, less than four years later, he decided to turn his back on.

Concluding Remarks:

    • In conclusion, although the constitutional dimension of the crisis seems to have, to some, ended peacefully, the larger conflict between two rival factions of the political class is far from over.
    • As a matter of fact, the risk is that the conflict will continue, expressing itself in new forms under new circumstances.
    • It is important to note that prevention of the re-eruption of this power struggle is the biggest challenge Sri Lanka faces immediately.
    • Experts opine that the first step in the direction of preventing its resurgence and a re-escalation is for Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe to find a modus vivendi for at least a minimum level of peaceful cohabitation.
    • After their bitter separation on October 26, 2018, this will not be an easy proposition to put into practice.
    • The past few weeks have also seen how the poisoned personal relationship between the two leaders caused a major crisis in the government, with Mr. Sirisena even refusing to accept Mr. Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister even if all MPs reposed their confidence in him.
  • As President, Mr. Sirisena will also have some crucial powers in the government. He will not only be the head of state and the executive but also of the government and the cabinet. As the head of state and the cabinet, Mr. Sirisena might even want to be in charge of defence and national security.
  • In Sri Lanka’s dual executive system, if the President and the Prime Minister resume the old habit of working on competing political agendas, eruption of another major crisis of governance is inevitable.
  • A Look at the coming years:
    • It is also important to note that the next two years will be crucial for Sri Lanka’s politics of the future.
    • A new President will have to be elected before the end of 2019, followed by fresh parliamentary elections in early or mid-2020. Provincial Council elections are also on the cards.
    • Mr. Sirisena’s political future will depend on the nature of the political balance of forces by early to the middle of next year.
    • The Rajapaksa camp envisages a coalition between its newly formed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP, Sri Lanka People’s Front) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by Mr. Sirisena. Mr. Wickremesinghe’s party, the United National Party (UNP), is also in the process of forming a broad coalition for the next provincial, parliamentary and presidential elections
    • Thus, what can be expected in the run-up to the next round of elections is a crystallisation of existing fissures, divisions and groupings into two broad political camps — one led by Mr. Wickremesinghe and the UNP, and the other jointly by Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Sirisena with the SLPP and the SLFP as its key components.
  • Finally, the resilience of the citizens of Sri Lanka in defending their democracy will once again be put to the test within months.

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. The spectre of deportation (Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC))

What’s in the news?

  • In a recent development, the last date for filing claims and objections for Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been extended by the Supreme Court to December 31, 2018 from December 15, 2018.

Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that this exercise of compiling the NRC in the first place has sparked a debate around its political, economic and humanitarian consequences, and its implications for India’s relationship with its neighbours, particularly Bangladesh.
  • As a matter of fact, there was some disquiet in Bangladesh when the Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, lent support to the NRC drive, claiming that those settled in Indian territory without legal jurisdiction posed a threat to national security.

A Closer Look:

    • Few seem to realise that there are legal as well as illegal Indian immigrants in Bangladesh too.
    • According to the latest available Bangladesh government estimates of 2009, more than 500,000 Indians were working in Bangladesh.
    • As a matter of fact, recently, Bangladesh was reported to be among the highest source of remittances to India, behind the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K.
    • It is important to note that many Indian citizens are securing coveted employment opportunities in Bangladesh through multinational companies, non-governmental organisations, and trading activities.
    • Experts point out that most Indian citizens are employed in advantageous jobs in Bangladesh while Bangladeshis in India are largely employed in low-paying jobs. They add that the ruling establishment in India maintains that the NRC is an administrative task overseen by the Supreme Court, and not a political gambit. A few experts opine that some members of the ruling party have been making hateful anti-migration and anti-Bangladeshi comments that reflect poorly on the prevalent positive relationship between Bangladesh and India.
  • It is important to note that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the Bangladesh government, that those excluded from the NRC will not be deported, Dhaka has so far been silent on the issue, terming it as an ‘internal matter of India’.
  • Experts suggest that this is seen as a signal that Bangladesh, already stretched in terms of resources and manpower to host Rohingya refugees, would not be acceding to a request of taking back Bengali-speaking Muslims in case deportation is initiated.
  • However, some remain apprehensive, pointing out that Bangladesh had been similarly unconcerned about the Rohingya issue, which did not prevent the country from ultimately hosting more than a million Rohingya.

A Critical Perspective on the Neighbourhood First Policy:

  • Mr. Modi came to power with proclamation of a ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
  • Critics point out that midway in the final year of his term, the reality speaks quite differently.

Perspective on India-Nepal:

    • For example, Nepal, which was once a time-tested ally, has tilted towards China since the 2015 Nepal blockade barring the entry of fuel, medicine and other vital supplies and holding the state to a literal siege.
  • Currently, Nepal has been given access to four Chinese ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang in addition to its dry (land) ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse, as well as roads to these facilities, ending India’s monopoly to its trading routes.

Perspective on India-Bhutan:

  • The India-Bhutan relationship has also been strained ever since India temporarily withdrew subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene in 2013, constraining bilateral ties. The Doklam stand-off in the summer of 2017 reinforced Bhutan’s scepticism towards Chinese expansionist plans across the region.
  • Simultaneously, Bhutan has been underlining the landlocked kingdom’s aspiration to affirm its sovereignty.
  • It has, for instance, stepped out of India’s diplomatic influence, as evidenced by its withdrawal from the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement.

Perspective on India-China and India-Bangladesh:

  • The India-China power play has also cast its shadow over Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the last few years. It is important to note that against this backdrop of China making inroads into South Asia and India’s backyard, Bangladesh has so far been the most trusted ally of India.
  • On the security front, it has cooperated in India’s crackdown on insurgents.
  • As a matter of fact, Border Security Force (BSF) chief K.K. Sharma said in 2017 that because of close cooperation with Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) “the number of training places and hideouts of these insurgents (in Bangladesh) has been reduced to almost zero.”  Further, annual bilateral trade is set to cross the $9 billion mark, making it India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia.
  • In addition, Bangladesh has facilitated connectivity with the Northeast by allowing the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports.
  • However, the Teesta water-sharing issue remains unaddressed, non-tariff barriers on Bangladeshi exports persist and border killings are yet to become a thing of the past.

Concluding Remarks:

    • In conclusion, experts point out that the NRC issue threatens to disturb the equilibrium in India-Bangladesh ties.
    • Further, it is vital to note that Bangladesh is heading for elections at the end of the month of December, 2018 and in poll campaigns, relations with India tend to be played up.
  • It is important to note that plans for deportation of those not on the NRC list are not only politically imprudent but also risk inciting unrest across the region.
  • Previous similar exercises have not been effective and only resulted in alienating individuals from their natural rights.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

1. Great Indian bustard

  • It is a bustard found in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The body is brownish and the wings are marked with black, brown and grey. Males and females generally grow to the same height and weight but males have larger black crowns and a black band across the breast.

Status

  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  • CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES,
  • Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List

Threats

  • The biggest threat to this species is hunting
  • collisions with high tension electric wires
  • The untamed, arid grasslands that bustards thrive in are categorised as ‘wastelands’, like most grassland habitats in India. The push to make these areas more ‘productive’ has seen an increase in water availability in these parts, resulting in the spillover of agricultural land into bustard habitats.
    • These birds are predominantly insect-eaters, bustards “relished” arugula plants and ate cultivated Bengal gram and Ziziphus or ber berries.
    • But, Intensification of agriculture — including more pesticides, barbed-wire fences and new crops — could endanger the birds’ survival.

Measures

  • A landscape-level approach that will incentivise people to take up less intensive agriculture is required.
  • Talks for a bustard conservation breeding centre in Rajasthan are ongoing, and land will soon be allotted.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With respect to the Puggie Community, consider the following statements:
  1. Puggies are people with traditional knowledge of reading camel footprints.
  2. They are present in Kutch and Banaskantha in Rajasthan.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. All of the above
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. Which of the security groups is not correctly matched?
  1. Border Security Force (BSF) – Pakistan and Myanmar
  2. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) – Riots and Naxals
  3. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) – China
  4. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) – Nepal only

Options:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 3 and 4
  3. Only 1 and 4
  4. Only 2 and 3

See

Answer
Question 3. Read the following statements carefully and choose the incorrect answer by using the 
codes given below: 
  1. Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) is airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is performed
  2. The concept of an ADIZ is defined in Tokyo Convention
  3. It covers only that country’s territory

Options:

  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. The parliamentary panel report about dearth in basic amenities for the security personnel needs immediate assistance and needs more financial support. Examine.
  2. Gene editing is a revolution in science but it advancements is marred with safety and ethical dimensions. Critically comment.
  3. From the touch of soil while playing, nature’s breeze and friendship we have walked miles into quod of technological arrest. Analyse the statement and give suitable measures to avoid alienation.

See previous CNA

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