13 Jan 2021: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

13 Jan 2021 CNA:- Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
POLITY
1. SC stays implementation of three controversial farm laws
2. HC notice to Centre on PIL challenging contempt Act
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. In his first speech at UNSC, Jaishankar slams China and Pak.
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. In ancient Al-Ula, forging a new future
2. Reclaiming SAARC from the ashes of 2020
POLITY
1. Strained ties
F. Prelims Facts
1. Bharat Biotech to supply Covaxin to Brazil
2. Harvesting Festival
G. Tidbits
1. CBDT unveils e-portal to report evasions
2. Ahead of Gyawali’s visit, Nepal, India differ on conducting ‘border talks’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

Nothing here for today!!!

Category: POLITY

1. SC stays implementation of three controversial farm laws

Context:

The Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of three controversial farm laws.

Background:

  • Farmers have been protesting for months against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
  • The farm laws brought the farmers and the government to a confrontation.
  • Several rounds of negotiations between the Centre and the farmers had produced no results.
  • Senior citizens, women and children among the protesters are exposed to serious health hazards posed by the cold and the spread of COVID-19.

Read about the Agricultural Reforms covered in 27th September 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Details:

  • Due to the stay on the implementation of the laws the Centre cannot, for the time being, proceed with any executive actions to enforce the laws.
  • As a consequence of the stay, the Minimum Support Price System shall be maintained until further orders.
  • It has directed that the farmers’ landholdings be protected.
  • The court formed a four-member committee of experts to listen to the grievances of the farmers on the laws and the views of the government and make recommendations.
    • The committee consists of Bhupinder Singh Mann, National President, Bhartiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Coordination Committee; Dr. Parmod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist, Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices; and Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sanghatana.
    • The committee has to start work in 10 days and submit a report to the court in two months.

2. HC notice to Centre on PIL challenging contempt Act

Context:

The Karnataka High Court has ordered issue of notice to the union government on a PIL petition challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, that makes “scandalising or tends to scandalising courts” as a ground for contempt.

Details:

  • All the four petitioners have narrated the proceedings faced by them under the Contempt of Courts Act at different point of time before the High Courts and the apex court.
  • A Division Bench passed the order on the petitions filed.

Issue:

  • The petitioners have contended in their present petition that Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act violates the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and does not amount to a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2).
  • It is argued that the Section 2(c)(i) fails the test of overbreadth, abridges the right to free speech and expression in the absence of tangible and proximate harm, and it creates a chilling effect on free speech and expression.
  • It is contended that the offence of “scandalising the court” cannot be considered to be covered under the category of “contempt of court” under Article 19(2), claiming that even if Section 2(c)(i) were permissible under the ground of contempt in Article 19(2), it would be disproportionate and therefore unreasonable.
  • “The offence of ‘scandalising the court’ is rooted in colonial assumptions and objects, which have no place in legal orders committed to democratic constitutionalism and the maintenance of an open robust public sphere,” the petition said.
Contempt of court:
  • Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.
  • Contempt of court, as a concept, seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority.
  • The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
  • Read more on Contempt of Court in the linked article.

Also, read more on Criminal Contempt covered in 27th July 2020 Comprehensive News Analysis.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. In his first speech at UNSC, Jaishankar slams China and Pak.

Context:

The UN Security Council convened a session to mark two decades since the 1373 anti-terror resolution was passed after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

Details:

  • In his first speech at the UN Security Council, India’s External Affairs Minister made indirect references to both China and Pakistan for delaying the process of designating terrorist individuals and entities, as well as failing to stop the funding of terror.
  • He referred to a number of blocks and holds China placed on designating Pakistan-based terrorists including Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar before agreeing to put him on the UNSC’s 1267 sanction list in 2019.
  • He called for “zero tolerance to terrorism”.
  • He also made a call for enhanced UN coordination with the FATF.
    • This comes just ahead of a meeting of the Task Force’s Asia Pacific Joint Group (APJG), which will review Pakistan’s performance in countering terror financing and money laundering.

UN Security Council resolution 1373:

  • The UN Security Council resolution 1373 requires all Member States of the United Nations to implement a number of measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to prevent and counter terrorist activities at home, in their regions, and around the world.
  • It was adopted in September 2001.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267:

  • UN Security Council resolution 1267 was adopted in October 1999.
  • The 1267 Sanctions Committee designated Osama bin Laden and his associates as terrorists and established a sanctions regime to cover individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban wherever located.
  • The sanctions have been applied to individuals and organizations in all parts of the world.
  • The regime is composed of a UN Security Council Committee, a “consolidated list” of people and entities it has determined as being associated with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and laws which must be passed within each member nation in order to implement the sanctions.
  • The Committee receives reports from each nation as to how the work is proceeding, and is able to vary the conditions imposed on any individual as it sees fit.

2. Reclaiming SAARC from the ashes of 2020

Context:

  • Thirty-six years after it first began, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), appears to be all but dead in the water.
  • SAARC had been dysfunctional for the largest period ever since its establishment in 1985. Although the postponement and cancellation of SAARC summits have happened before, this time it took South Asian Heads of Governments nearly six years to sit together under a common platform. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the charge and convened a virtual SAARC conference over the COVID-19 crisis.

Details:

  • The SAARC platform has gone quiet ever since India pulled out of the summit in Islamabad in 2016.
  • The future of the platform doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, with Mr Modi categorically declaring that India’s position on cross-border terrorism from Pakistan that led to New Delhi’s refusal to attend the SAARC summit in 2016 in Islamabad, has not wavered.

SAARC countries

The shadows over the meets

  • The stalemate in India-Pakistan relations has hijacked the platform, with other meetings of SAARC being impacted as well.
  • The regional integration has never been this fragile making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies, to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group rather than a collective group.
  • The relations in the region has largely been bilateral with not many regional efforts concerning any particular issue.
  • However, if events in 2020 are anything to go by, then India must look towards SAARC as a platform and look towards reviving it.
  • The two most pressing challenges faced by the Indian political leadership in 2020 was the novel coronavirus pandemic and China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • India’s issues with Pakistan revolve around terrorism, territorial claims and a constant effort from Pakistan’s side to hamstring the platform by obstructing SAARC initiatives on connectivity and trade.
  • India has refused to allow Pakistan to host the SAARC summit because of those problems and this is virtually handing Pakistan a ‘veto’ over the entire SAARC process.
  • There has been an anomaly in this stance of Indian leadership given that India still sends representation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meetings along with their Pakistani counterparts, including the SCO Heads of Government meeting in November where New Delhi even invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (he deputed another official).
  • The skirmishes at the Line of Actual Control with the Chinese PLA meant a challenge to India’s territorial integrity. India still attends the meetings with the Chinese leadership at the SCO, the Russia-India-China trilateral, the G-20 and others.
  • Another strange aspect of India’s foreign policy conduct has been the engagement with Nepal, despite controversy over Nepal’s map and Constitution to include Indian territories.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that most multilateral summits have gone virtual, it is inexplicable that India cannot attend a virtual SAARC summit hosted by Pakistan, which would allow the South Asian process to move forward.

Pandemic-caused challenges

  • SAARC is the biggest regional platform in South Asia, it is crucial towards tackling common challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To ensure that the region is ready for any future pandemics, there is a need to keep an open channel of communication.
  • Having a common platform and a regional strategy is quintessential for the distribution and further trials needed for vaccines, as well as developing cold storage chains for the vast market that South Asia represents.
  • The pandemic’s impact on South Asian economies is another area that calls for coordination. The economic outlook of the region doesn’t bode well, with the region witnessing a decline in the overall GDP figures, global job cuts which will lead to an estimated 22% fall in revenue for migrant labour and expatriates from South Asian countries; there is an expected loss of about 10.77 million jobs and US$52.32 billion in GDP in the tourism sector alone from the impact of COVID-19.
  • World Bank team has studied the impact of the pandemic on the region and also have put forth recommendations to put the economy on a recovery path.
  • The suggestion is that South Asian countries work as a collective to set standards for labour from the region, and also to look towards promoting a more intra-regional, transnational approach towards tourism.
  • There have been successful models of such an approach, such as the ‘East Africa Single Joint Visa’ system, or similar joint tourism initiatives like in the Mekong region or the Caribbean islands.

A time for regional initiatives

  • The pandemic has put the spotlight on health security, food security, and job security, as all these were diminished, threatened for large sections of the population in the region.
  • The impact of COVID-19 will be seen in broader, global trends, with an increasing rejection for ‘globalisation’ of trade, travel and migration all of which were seen to have aided the pandemic spread from China, as well as a growing preference for going local, focusing on self-reliance and indigenizing supply chains.
  • Though it is not entirely possible for countries to ‘disentangle’ completely from the global market, the regional initiatives will become a more viable option, a compromise between globalisation and hyper-nationalism.
  • There have been a plethora of regional trade arrangements currently, such as new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA (North America), the Southern Common Market, or MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials (South America), the European Union (Europe), the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA (Africa), the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC (Gulf) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP (South East Asia and Australasia including China). Astonishingly, India’s only regional trading agreement at present is the South Asian Free Trade Area, or SAFTA (with SAARC countries).
  • SAFTA provides India with an opportunity to infuse dynamism into the region, the integration of supply chains, markets will have spillover effects as well, it could lead to greater economic interdependence and possibly lead to a more peaceful region.
  • Thus India should aim to bring the different countries on board and chart out a roadmap to increase intra-regional trade and this can begin with reducing the ‘negative-list’ of items of trade, by bringing in more items under trade.

China’s quest

  • A unified South Asian platform will help India in dealing with China in the region. It will give India a platform in building a consensus against China’s revisionist tendencies.
  • India is having to deal with tensions at the border, historically from Pakistan and China and with Nepal stepping up now, India’s border will have to be on constant vigil.
  • The threat at the border is further exacerbated while other SAARC members (minus Bhutan), all of whom are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners of China, will be hard placed to help individually.
  • China, for close to a decade between 2005-14, pushed vigorously for a seat in the SAARC table as a member country.
  • On each occasion, it was fought back by India and most other countries in the grouping, with the logic that despite sharing boundaries with three South Asian countries, China is not South Asian.
  • Despite not getting its wish fulfilled, China has continued to push its way into South Asia, as several statistical indicators for investment, trade, tourism and South Asian student preferences for universities.
  • The Chinese government and its Communist Party of China arms such as the United Front Work Department, or the UFWD have used the pandemic as a golden opportunity to make further inroads into the region.
  • Apart from sending medicines, personal protective equipment kits and promising vaccines to most SAARC countries as part of its “Health Silk Road” initiative, China’s vice minister has held three separate meetings with combinations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and discussed economic issues and Sinovac vaccine availability with them.
  • Experts have flagged a possibility of China holding a meeting of all SAARC countries (minus India and Bhutan), for they are all part of the BRI, and even that they will be invited to join RCEP, which India refused to join.

Way forward

  • India has ramped up its health and economic diplomacy in the region, but apart from one SAARC meeting convened by the Indian Prime Minister in March, these have been bilateral initiatives, not a combined effort for South Asia.
  • All SAARC leaders with the exception of the Indian Prime Minister have called for a revival of SAARC during their charter day messages recently, underlining the willingness in the region to see the platform back from the wilderness.
  • China will be looking at India’s SAARC neighbourhood as a means to contain India, with the People’s Liberation Army strategies against India over the LAC at present, or in conjunction with Pakistan or Nepal at other disputed fronts in the future.
  • However, India must come up with its own policy for the neighbourhood. Political grievances may be fleeting but geography is a constant that cannot be altered.

Category: POLITY

1. Strained ties

Context:

  • The recent three-day-long protest, led by Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, under the banner of the Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance, against Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.

Details:

  • The Puducherry Lt Governor and the Puducherry Chief Minister have been locked in a tussle over several issues in the past, the recent one being the appointment of the State Election Commissioner.
  • The two constitutional functionaries have not been seeing eye to eye over issues of appointment and the implementation of a social welfare scheme, causing the Chief Minister to call for a three-day protest.

What is the issue?

  • They have been at loggerheads over several matters in the past, most recently they have differed on the appointment of the State Election Commissioner, an office critical to holding elections to local bodies in the Union Territory.
  • Another important cause for friction between the two has been the implementation of direct benefit transfer in the public distribution system using cash, instead of free rice, being given to beneficiaries.
  • The agitation was meant to highlight the demand of the Congress and its allies for the recall of the Lt Governor.
  • The governing alliance led by the Chief Minister has been critical of the functioning of the Lt. Governor, they have raised issues with regards to the manner of functioning of the Lt. Governor.
  • The Chief Minister in a memorandum submitted to the President has raised issues like autocratic manner of functioning and adoption of an obstructionist attitude.
  • The Lt. Governor on her behalf has accused the Chief Minister of trying to mislead the public about the Centre and her office.

Upcoming elections:

  • With the Assembly election likely to be held in April or May, it has been pointed out that the incumbent Chief Minister has been trying to mobilise people by blaming the Lt. Governor and the Centre.
  • Some have pointed out that the Chief Minister is trying to pass off government’s “non-functioning” by laying the blame at the doorstep of the Lt Governor.
  • The Lt. Governor Ms Bedi should take into account the legitimate requirements of an elected government and try to accommodate the Chief Minister’s views on important matters such as the free rice scheme.
  • After all, the Centre itself did not see any great virtue in the DBT mode when it decided to give additional food grains (rice or wheat) free of cost at five kg per person a month to ration cardholders during April-November last year — a relief measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conclusion:

  • With the near breakdown of communication between the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister, the Centre should step in, in the interest of smooth administration.
  • The Puducherry Lt Gov. should heed the legitimate demands of the elected government.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Bharat Biotech to supply Covaxin to Brazil

What’s in News?

Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech has signed an agreement with Precisa Medicamentos, a firm in Brazil, to supply the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to the Latin American country.

  • Twelve million doses of the indigenous vaccine are likely to be supplied over a period of time.

Covaxin:

  • Covaxin is India’s first indigenous COVID vaccine.
  • It is being developed by the corona vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech.
  • It has been developed based on an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 strain cultured at the National Institute of Virology, an ICMR body.
  • This vaccine is developed on the Vero cell platform, which has a well-established track record of safety and efficacy in the country and globally.

2. Harvesting Festival

  • The Magh Bihu or the Bhogaali Bihu celebrates the culmination of the harvesting period.
  • Similarly, Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival that is dedicated to express gratitude to the Sun God (Surya).
  • This is observed in the second week of January every year. People thank nature for its abundant resources and good produce during the winter harvest festival.
  • The festival, celebrated in different parts of the country in diverse ways, denotes the entry of the sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) as it travels on its celestial path.
  • This harvesting festival is known by various names across India:
    • Lohri by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs
    • Maghi in Punjab
    • Sukarat in central India
    • Magh Bihu by Assamese
    • Pongal by Tamilians
    • Uttarayan in Gujarat
    • Sakraat in Delhi and Haryana and many neighbouring states
    • Saaji in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. It is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month.

G. Tidbits

1. CBDT unveils e-portal to report evasions

What’s in News?

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has unveiled an e­-portal for filing complaints about tax evasions, ‘benami’ properties and undisclosed assets overseas.

This topic has been covered in 12th January 2021 PIB Summary and Analysis.

2. Ahead of Gyawali’s visit, Nepal, India differ on conducting ‘border talks’

What’s in News?

The Kalapani territorial dispute is expected to be raised by Nepal during the Joint Commission meeting to be held during the visit of Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, but there will be no border talks.

  • The 6th Joint Commission meeting has been delayed by more than a year because of the row over the Kalapani issue and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Commission met for the 5th round on August 22, 2019, when the entire gamut of bilateral relation was discussed.
  • Earlier, Nepal’s PM had announced that the Foreign Minister during his visit to India would discuss the dispute related to the border and several other issues.
  • It is expected that the talks would help revive the relationship which was hit by the Kalapani territorial dispute.

This topic has been covered in 11th January 2021 Comprehensive News Analysis.

  • Nepal is also expected to raise the need to discuss and adopt the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report which has been completed but has not found official recognition from the Indian side.
  • The EPG, constituted by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal’s PM Mr. Oli in 2016, has recommended several measures such as firming up Nepal’s land boundary with India and the revision of historic treaties.
    • The established procedure agreed among the members of the EPG was that the completed report should be submitted to the Indian PM first. The report is yet to be accepted by the Indian PM.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1.Consider the following statements with respect to Migrant Integration Policy
 Index (MIPEX):
  1. It covers 52 countries in five continents.
  2. There are 5 policy indicators on migrant integration in the MIPEX.
  3. The Migrant Integration Policy Index was earlier called European Civic Citizenship and Inclusion Index.

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

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

Answer: b

Explanation:

  • Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) is a unique tool which measures policies to integrate migrants in countries across 52 countries in five continents.
  • There are 167 policy indicators on migrant integration in the MIPEX.
  • The Migrant Integration Policy Index was earlier called European Civic Citizenship and Inclusion Index.
  • The Index was first published in 2004.
  • Policy indicators have been developed to create a rich, multi-dimensional picture of migrants’ opportunities to participate in society.
  • The index is a useful tool to evaluate and compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants in all the countries analysed.
  • The project informs and engages key policy actors about how to use indicators to improve integration governance, policy effectiveness and also to improve standards for equal treatment.
  • It is produced by a group of think tanks and is funded by the European Union.
Q2. Consider the following pairs:

     Festival                  State

  1. Maghi                 Punjab
  2. Saaji              Himachal Pradesh
  3. Uttarayan          Rajasthan
  4. Pongal                 Kerala

Which of the given pairs are correctly matched?

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

Harvesting festivals are known by various names across India:

  • Lohri by north Indian Hindus and Sikhs
  • Maghi in Punjab
  • Sukarat in central India
  • Magh Bihu by Assamese
  • Pongal by Tamilians
  • Uttarayan in Gujarat
  • Sakraat in Delhi and Haryana and many neighbouring states
  • Saaji in Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. It is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month.
Q3. Consider the following statements:
  1. India derives the provision of criminal contempt from the English system.
  2. Interfering or obstructing the administration of justice in any manner would amount to civil contempt.
  3. Criminal contempt is the wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.

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

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 2 and 3
  4. None of the above
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation:

  • India derives the provision of criminal contempt from the English system.
  • The King of England used to deliver judgments himself and the need to uphold the authority of the King led to the provision of “respecting the authority and dignity of the court”.
  • Civil Contempt: As per the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, civil contempt has been defined as wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  • Criminal Contempt: As per the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, criminal contempt has been defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which:
    • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
    • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or
    • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
Q4. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established by G-7.
  2. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
  3. All the members of FATF Asia-Pacific Group are the members of the Financial Action Task Force.

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

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

Answer: c

Explanation:

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
  • FATF Asia-Pacific Group is one of the regional affiliates of the Financial Action Task Force.
  • At present, there are 41 members of APG. Of these, 11 countries are also the members of the head FATF – India, China, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand Singapore and the United States.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Highlight the role of SAARC as a platform in furthering India’s regional ambitions. (15 marks, 250 words) [GS-2, International relations]
  2. ‘The role of the judiciary is to interpret laws and not make one.’ Critically examine. (10 marks, 150 words) [GS-2, Polity]

13 Jan 2021 CNA:- Download PDF Here

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