23 Mar 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

March 23rd 2019 CNA:-Download PDF Here

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
CULTURE
1. Gond paintings
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. ‘Diary Entries’ and Evidence Act
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Golan Heights
C. GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT
1. Indian Forest Act, 2019
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Next stage in the Great Game
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. The Kerala alert
MODERN INDIAN HISTORY
1. Revolutionary ideas that live on
F. Tidbits
1. Govt. earns ₹85,000 crore from disinvestment, overshoots target
2. EU gives U.K. new Brexit deadlines
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

Category: CULTURE

1. Gond paintings

  • Gond comes from the Dravidian expression, Kond which means ‘the green mountain’.
  • Gond paintings are a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practiced Gond tribe in India
  • Gond paintings are considered to be from predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, it is also quite common in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh and Odisha.

Features

  • According to the Gond belief system, each and everything whether it is a hill, river, rock or a tree is inhabited by a spirit and, consequently, is sacred. So the Gond people paint them as a form of respect and reverence.
  • Gond paintings are a reflection of man’s close connection with his natural surroundings.
  • Gond paintings can also take inspiration from myths and legends of India or alternatively, they may also showcase images from the daily lives of the tribe. It can also showcase abstract concepts like emotions, dreams and imagination.
  • The Gond paintings stand out for use of bright colours and intricate lines. The Gond art mostly represents a tree emerging out of birds (peacocks) and animals (ox, horse, deer, elephant and tiger).

Context

  • Tribal artists make a splash on online platform.
  • The paintings of tribal artists from the remote agency areas of Telangana have arrived on a global platform of Amazon, the largest e-commerce market place.

Other Paintings

  • The Koya artists draw on the surface motifs of their sacred ‘Hariveni’ posts, sacred flags and big bottle gourds.
  • The paintings of Naikpod tribals are reflections of face masks of their kings, Pandavas like Bheema, and traditional village temple deities.

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. ‘Diary Entries’ and Evidence Act

Context

  • The documents involving former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, which disclosed alleged payouts in 2009, have once again raised the question: Can entries in diaries be treated as admissible evidence?

Details

Section 34 of the Indian Evidence Act requires ‘diary entries’ to cross a series of steep hurdles to pass muster as evidence.

  • The diary entries should be made in a book. The book should be a ‘book of account’ kept regularly in the course of business. The diary entries alone will not be sufficient evidence to charge any person even if all the requirements are fulfilled and the jottings are proved relevant and admissible.
    • The entries may, at best, be some form of corroborative evidence.
    • Further independent proof is required before an FIR is lodged against the persons named in the diary.
  • The diary or book of account should be ‘regularly kept in the course of business.’ That is, the entries should be part of “some continuous and uniform practice in the current routine of the business of the particular person to whom they belong.”

Supreme Court Cases

  • The apex court’s judgment in Beni v. Bisan Dayal explains why diary entries alone cannot form the basis for an FIR.
    • “A man cannot be allowed to make evidence for himself by what he chooses to write in his own books behind the back of the parties.
    • There must be independent evidence of the transaction to which the entries relate and in absence of such evidence no relief can be given to the party who relies upon such entries to support his claim against another,”
  • In CBI versus V.C. Shukla (Jain Hawala case), reported in 1998, the apex court explains the import of each term used in Section 34, the provision which deals with entries in a diary or a book.
    • The term ‘book’ in the section means “a collection of sheets of paper or other material, blank, written, or printed, fastened or bound together so as to form a material whole.”
    • A ‘book of account’ used in Section 34 means a record of “formal statement of transactions between two parties, including debtor-creditor relation and arising out of contract, or some fiduciary relations.”
  • In its order in 2017 in the Sahara-Birla pay-offs case, a Supreme Court held that ordering the registration of an FIR against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, other national leaders and senior bureaucrats merely banking on “some diary entries and random loose computer sheets” was “inherently improbable.”

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Golan Heights

Context

  • President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. should recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area seized from Syria and annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Details

  • Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967 and formally annexed the territory in 1981.
  • But that annexation has not been recognized by the international community, which has regarded the Golan Heights as occupied territory and Israeli settlements there as illegal under international law.
  • Syria tried to regain the Heights in the 1973 Middle East war, but was thwarted. Israel and Syria signed an armistice in 1974 and the Golan had been relatively quiet since.
  • In 2000, Israel and Syria held their highest-level talks over a possible return of the Golan and a peace agreement. But the negotiations collapsed and subsequent talks also failed.

Why does Israel want the Golan?

  • Israel says that the civil war in Syria demonstrates the need to keep the plateau as a buffer zone between Israeli towns and the instability of its neighbour.
  • Israel’s government says it also fears that Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is seeking to establish itself permanently on the Syrian side of the border in order to launch attacks on Israel.
  • Both sides covet the Golan’s water resources and naturally fertile soil.

Who lives there?

  • More than 40,000 people live on the Israeli-occupied Golan, more than half of them Druze residents.
    • The Druze are an Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam and many of its adherents in Syria have long been loyal to the Assad regime.
    • After annexing the Golan, Israel gave the Druze the option of citizenship, but most rejected it and still identify as Syrian.
  • About another 20,000 Israeli settlers also live there, many of them working in farming and tourism.

Who controls the Syrian side of the Golan?

  • Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, there was an uneasy stand-off between Israeli and Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
  • But in 2014 anti-government Islamist rebels overran Quneitra province on the Syrian side. The rebels forced Assad’s forces to withdraw and also turned on US forces in the area, forcing them to pull back from some of their positions.
  • The area remained under rebel control until the summer of 2018, when Assad’s forces returned to the largely ruined city of Quneitra and the surrounding area following a Russian-backed offensive and a deal that allowed rebels to withdraw.

What is the current military situation?

  • Assad’s forces are now back in control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, which reopened in October 2018.

What separates the two sides on the Golan?

  • A United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is stationed in camps and observation posts along the Golan, supported by military observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
  • Between the Israeli and Syrian armies is a 400-square-km (155-square-mile) “Area of Separation” – often called a demilitarized zone – in which the two countries’ military forces are not permitted under the ceasefire arrangement.
  • The Separation of Forces Agreement of May 31, 1974 created an Alpha Line to the west of the area of separation, behind which Israeli military forces must remain, and a Bravo Line to the east behind which Syrian military forces must remain.
  • Extending 25 km beyond the “Area of Separation” on both sides is an “Area of Limitation” in which there are restrictions on the number of troops and number and kinds of weapons that both sides can have there.

Geography

  • The Golan Heights borders Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.
  • The area is hilly and elevated, overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley which contains the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and is itself dominated by the 2,814 metres (9,232 ft) tall Mount Hermon.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. Indian Forest Act, 2019

Context

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has finalized the first draft of the comprehensive amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA).
  • The Indian Forest Act, 2019 is envisaged as an amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and is an attempt to address contemporary challenges to India’s forests.

Background

  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was imposed by British rulers to take over Indian forests, use them to produce timber, while curtailing and extinguishing rights of millions
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 has been criticized for years for providing immense discretion and powers to the forest bureaucracy to govern areas declared as forestlands of different classes and summarily arrest and prosecute forest-dwellers.
  • On several occasions, states have had to cancel prosecution in hundreds of thousands of cases of alleged petty crimes imposed against tribals and other forest dwellers.
  • Many experts and several Central government reports submitted under different political dispensations have blamed the draconian powers of the forest bureaucracy under the Indian Forest Act, 1927

Definitions in the Draft

  • Forest is defined to include “any government or private or institutional land recorded or notified as forest/forest land in any government record and the lands managed by government/community as forest and mangroves, and also any land which the central or state government may by notification declare to be forest for the purpose of this Act.”
  • “Village forests”, according to the proposed Act, may be forestland or wasteland, which is the property of the government and would be jointly managed by the community through the Joint Forest Management Committee or Gram Sabha.
    • The amendment defines community as “a group of persons specified on the basis of government records living in a specific locality and in joint possession and enjoyment of common property resources, without regard to race, religion, caste, language and culture”.
  • The amendment also introduces a new category of forests — Production Forest. These will be forests with specific objectives for production of timber, pulp, pulpwood, firewood, non-timber forest produce, medicinal plants or any forest species to increase production in the country for a specified period.

Features

  • It accords significant powers to India’s forest officers — including the power issue search warrants, enter and investigate lands within their jurisdictions, and to provide indemnity to forest officers using arms to prevent forest-related offences.
  • The legislation also proposes a forest development cess of up to 10% of the assessed value of mining products removed from forests, and water used for irrigation or in industries.
    • This amount would be deposited in a special fund and used “exclusively for reforestation; forest protection and other ancillary purposes connected with tree planting, forest development and conservation,”
  • The aim is to strengthen the forest bureaucracy in terms of deciding on how to decide on [title claims] over forest land, what parts to declare [off-limits] for conservation, checking encroachments
  • The Union government has proposed that the Centre will be able to intervene in the states on matters of management of forestlands, overruling the states on several counts when it deems fit.
  • While the preamble of IFA, 1927, said the Act was focused on laws related to transport of forest produce and the tax on it,
    • The amendment has increased the focus to “conservation, enrichment and sustainable management of forest resources and matters connected therewith to safeguard ecological stability to ensure provision of ecosystem services in perpetuity and to address the concerns related to climate change and international commitments”.
  • The amendments specifically deal with the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA). The amendments say if the state government, after consultation with the central government, feels that the rights under FRA will hamper conservation efforts, then the state “may commute such rights by paying such persons a sum of money in lieu thereof, or grant of land, or in such other manner as it thinks fit, to maintain the social organisation of the forest dwelling communities or alternatively set out some other forest tract of sufficient extent, and in a locality reasonably convenient, for the purpose of such forest dwellers”.

Concerns

  • It would lead to conflicts during implementation, particularly when seen in the context of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
  • Excessive powers to forest bureaucracy would not only directly clash with decentralised governance mechanism but also turn the country’s forest into a police state.
  • India’s current dependence on import is to the tune of Rs 46,000 crore every year to meet its demand for wood. The idea of creating ‘production forests’ is catching the imagination of all stakeholders while generating apprehensions.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Next stage in the Great Game