29 Nov 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. ‘Rarest of Rare’ test ‘inconsistently applied’ says Justice Kurian Joseph
2. HC upholds conviction of 70 in anti-Sikh riots case
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Kashmir the single issue, says Imran
2. Ghani forms team for talks with Taliban
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. ‘India never hit 9% phase under UPA’
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. Lanceturges response to heatwave exposure surge
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Central bank recap (RBI and the Central Government)
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Dire strait (Russia- Ukraine)
HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
1. Protect indigenous people
F. Tidbits
1. Savanna principle
2. NGT slaps ₹5-crore fine on Bengal
3. CBI to probe Bihar shelters
4. BJP gets most trusts donations
G. Prelims Fact
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. ‘Rarest of Rare’ test ‘inconsistently applied’ says Justice Kurian Joseph

Context

  • Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, in his judgment in the case of Chhannu Lal Verma v. State of Chhattisgarh, Joseph J. while commuting the death sentence awarded to the appellant to life imprisonment, stated said the courts had been imposing the death penalty “arbitrarily and freakishly” all these years. He says the test of “rarest of rare” had been “inconsistently applied” by courts.

General Rule

  • The extreme penalty of death need not be inflicted except in gravest cases of extreme culpability. Before opting for the death penalty the circumstances of the ‘offender’ also require to be taken into consideration along with the circumstances of the ‘crime’. Life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is an exception.

Background

Jagmohan Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh

  • The five judge bench of the Supreme Court, by a unanimous verdict, upheld the constitutional validity of death penalty held that capital punishment was not violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21

Rajendra Prasad vs. State of UP

  • Justice Krishna Iyer empathetically stressed that death penalty is violative of articles 14, 19 and 21. He further said that to impose death penalty the two things must be required: The special reason should be recorded for imposing death penalty in a case. The death penalty must be imposed only in extraordinary circumstances.

Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab

  • This was the case that gave birth to the “rarest of the rare cases” doctrine
  • In a majority of 4 to 1 the five judge bench of the Supreme Court overruled its earlier decision in Rajendra Prasad.
  • It expressed the view that death penalty, as an alternative punishment for murder is not unreasonable and hence not violative of articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, because the “public order” contemplated by clauses (2) to (4) of Article 19 is different from “law and order” and also enunciated the principle of awarding death penalty only in the ‘rarest of rare cases’.
  • Bhagwati J. in his dissenting judgement observed that “death penalty is not only unconstitutional being violative of Articles 14 and 21 but also undesirable from several points of view.”

Machhi Singh vs. State of Punjab

  • The Supreme Court in Machhi Singh vs. State of Punjab laid down the broad outlines of the circumstances when death sentence should be imposed. Justice Thakkar speaking for the Court held that five categories of cases may be regarded as rarest of rare cases deserving extreme penalty.
  • Firstly: Manner of Commission of murder – When the murder is committed in an extremely brutal manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation in the community, for instance, when the house of the victim is set a flame to roast him alive, when the body is cut to pieces or the victim is subjected to inhuman torture.
  • Secondly: Motive – When the murder is committed for a motive which evinces depravity and meanness eg. a hired assassin, a cold blooded murder to inherit property, or gain control over property of a ward, or a murder committed for betrayal of the motherland.
  • Thirdly: Anti-social or socially abhorrent nature of the crime – where a scheduled caste or minority community person is murdered in circumstances which arouse: social wrath; “Bride burning” and “dowry deaths” — including cases where murder is committed in order to remarry and extract dowry again — as well as killing the wife to marry another woman should attract capital punishment
  • Fourthly: Magnitude of the Crime – Crimes of enormous proportion, like multiple murders of a family or persons of a particular caste, community or locality.
  • Fifthly: Personality of victim of murder

In order to apply these guidelines inter-alia the following questions may be asked and answers:

  • Is there something uncommon about the crime which renders sentence of imprisonment for life inadequate and called for a death sentence?
  • Are the circumstances of the crime such that there is no alternative but to impose death sentence even after according maximum weightage to the mitigating circumstances which speak in favor of the offender.

If upon taking an overall global view of all the circumstances in the light of the aforesaid proposition and taking into account the answers to the questions posed here in above, the circumstances of the case are such that death sentence is warranted, the court would proceed to do so.

2. HC upholds conviction of 70 in anti-Sikh riots case

Context

  • Noting that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots were a “dark chapter in the history of independent India,” the Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of 70 persons on the charges of rioting, burning houses and violating curfew in the Trilokpuri area in the national capital.

Details of the judgment

  • The riots took place after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Justice R.K. Gauba dismissed the appeals of the convicts against August 27, 1996, judgment of a sessions court here, sending 89 persons to jail for five years.
  • The judge said: “Thirty-four years have passed, yet the victims await justice and closure.” Of the 89, 16 died during the pendency of the trial before the High Court, which dragged on for 22 years. The court dismissed the appeal of three more convicts who absconded during the trial.
  • “The manner of prosecution of the case at hand would undoubtedly go down in the judicial history of this country as an example of criminal law process that must never be emulated,” the High Court said.

Criminal law ill-equipped to deal with cases of riots: HC

  • Noting that the general criminal law is provenly ill-equipped to deal with communal riots cases, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday suggested several reforms, including possibility of entrusting investigative and prosecution process in such cases to authorities other than normal agencies of the State.
  • Justice R.K. Gauba remarked that after each event of communal riots, allegations of political influence have worked as the root cause or for protection of those responsible.
  • The High Court’s observation came while upholding the conviction of 70 persons in connection with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in Capital’s Trilokpuri area.
  • It said there had been no meaningful thought spared till date to usher in reforms in the judicial process to effectively deal with the cases of communal riots which were engineered, more often than not, by those who had clout or influence — of various kind.
  • To inject a sense of neutrality in the investigative and prosecution process, Justice Gauba said the possibility of entrusting such tasks to authorities other than normal agencies of the State needs to be explored.
  • The Court suggested amendments to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to entrust the responsibility of investigation in communal riots through SITs specially constituted under their respective control.
  • With the technological advancements that have been made and the rise of media — print and electronic — as an effective fourth pillar of democracy, the HC said there was a strong case for utilising as evidence the press reports, supported by photographic material or video footages in trials of criminal cases arising out of communal riots.

Anti Sikh Riots 1984

  • Due to the orders of Indira Gandhi, Indian Army launched its offensive against Sikh militants at the Golden Temple in Amritsar under the code name “Operation Blue Star”.
  • The army was successful in driving out the militants from the Sikh’s sacred place, but this event angered the Sikh People and their sentiments got hurt.
  • To avenge this action, bodyguards of Mrs. Gandhi killed her at her own house.
  • Later the angry congress workers and supporters allegedly began their brutal actions of killing innocent Sikh People in the country; Delhi was the most affected area during anti Sikh riots.
  • Union Government appointed so many commissions to enquire about the guilty people and to find out their masterminds, but nothing concrete came out of such commissions.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Kashmir the single issue, says Imran

Context

  • Pakistan’s Army and political leadership are on “one page” to take dialogue with India forward, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the corridor. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa was also present.
  • The four-kilometre corridor from the border with India will allow pilgrims easy access and will be ready in time for Sikh founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary on November 23, 2019.
  • “I want to say that today I as the Prime Minister [of Pakistan], my party, all our political parties, and our Army are on one page. We want to move forward,” Mr. Khan told a large gathering of Sikhs from Pakistan and Sikh pilgrims from India.

Timeline of India – Pakistan Relation

  • 1947-48: The first Indo-Pak war over Kashmir is fought; The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India
  • 1960: Indus Water treaty
  • 1965: War- first in Rann of Kutch and later on in Kashmir
  • 1966: Tashkent agreement
  • 1971: War and creation of Bangladesh
  • 1972: Shimla Agreement- Both sides agree to settle any disputes “by peaceful means”
  • 1974: Pokhran Experiment
  • 1989: Terrorism in Kashmir begins
  • 1992: A joint declaration prohibiting the use of chemical weapons is signed in New Delhi
  • 1994: Gujral Doctrine
  • 1998: Pokhran-2, Pakistan responded by its own nuclear test
  • 1999: PM Vajpayee’s Bus Diplomacy
  • 1999: Kargil war
  • 2001: Agra Summit
  • 2001: Attack on Srinagar Assembly; Attack on Indian Parliament
  • 2004: SAARC Islamabad Summit, Composite Dialogue process
  • 2007: Samjhauta Express is bombed
  • 2008: Mumbai Terror Attack
  • 2014: PM Modi invited Pakistan along with all SAARC leaders for swearing I ceremony
  • 2015: Terrorist attack in Gurdaspur
  • 2016: Pathankot Attack
  • 2016: Uri attack
  • 2016: surgical strikes to destroy terror launch pads across the LoC in Pakistan

India-Pakistan relation in recent time

  • In 2014, Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif attended swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi along with their SAARC counterpart which signaled the beginning of a new South Asian solidarity
  • In 2015, PM Modi paid a surprise visit to Lahore which signal’s positive development of relationship between India and Pakistan
  • However, with the attack on the Indian Air Force Base in 2016 (Pathankot) and Uri attack, there was a complete stoppage of talks at all levels in between the nations. Speculations, however, run that back channel talks exist.

2. Ghani forms team for talks with Taliban

Context

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday announced a 12-person team for prospective peace talks with the Taliban.
  • The Afghan government, Western diplomats and UN officials have in recent weeks raised hopes of finally reaching a deal to end the Taliban’s insurgency.
  • The President also laid out what he termed a “road map” for the talks and four principles that he said must form the backbone of any agreement.

Background

  • The Taliban is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan which is at present waging war within that country.
  • It was founded in 1994 and from 1996 to 2001; it was governing the country enforcing a strict interpretation of Islamic or Sharia law.
  • Many leading Muslims as well as much of the international community were highly critical of the Taliban government and ways.
  • Taliban then ruled it after 1996 as a totalitarian regime till it was removed by NATO-led coalition in 2001 forming a new democratically elected government political structure.
  • Hamid Karzai became the first ever democratically elected head of state in 2004 and the current President is Ashraf Ghani, since 29 September 2014.
  • Even after formation of a democratically elected government and removal of Taliban from power in Afghanistan, it still faces several internal issues and multipronged attacks by groups like Taliban and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
  • Taliban still controls very large parts of Afghanistan and insurgency and terrorist forces are still strong in the nation. The control of government is limited only to urban areas and highways in reality.
  • US led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces have been in Afghanistan in the longest conflict engagement since World War II. They are trying to establish a Government in Afghanistan to a substantial extent and there is a ‘Rule of Law’.

Role of India in Afghanistan

  • India has focused on development of infrastructure and military aid in Afghanistan. India has aided the overthrow of Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.
  • India wants to improve transport connectivity and economic collaboration with countries in Central and South Asia. India has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan and has worked on projects like Salma Dam.
  • India is also investing in the expansion of Chabahar port in Southeastern Iran, which will improve its connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. ‘India never hit 9% phase under UPA’

Context

  • India never hit the 9% ‘high-growth’ phase in the years of UPA I and II as was earlier believed, according to new back series GDP data released by the government on Wednesday.
  • The data also show that India’s recovery from the global financial crisis took longer than previously thought.

Details of the data

  • The government in 2015 changed the methodology to Gross Value Added (GVA) from the earlier GDP and brought forward the base year for computation to 2011-12 from 2004-05. The back series release on Wednesday provides the growth estimates for previous years using the new methodology.
  • The new data release shows that GDP growth during the UPA years averaged 6.7% during both UPA-I and UPA-II.
  • The old series had pegged these at about 8.1% and 7.46% respectively. In comparison, the current government has witnessed an average GDP growth rate of 7.35% during the first four years of its term.

Why the GDP accounting norms are changed?

  • Most tempting factor that compelled the CSO to introduce these changes is to make India’s national income accounting standards in conformity with global standards.
  • Globally, most accepted and followed national income accounting format is the System of National Accounting (SNA), prepared by the UN and ratified by the IMF, World Bank, OECD and EC.
  • The SNA describes a coherent, consistent and integrated set of measures in the context of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules.

Methodological Changes

  • Methodology is the science of doing something. Specifically, there are two methodological changes adopted by the CSO in its new estimates and both are highly interrelated.
  • GDP of the country is to be estimated in terms of Market Price. Gross Value Added (GA) from different sectors will be calculated at basic prices.

Change in the base year

  • The base year for national income estimation in the country has changed to 2011-12 from 2004-05. Usually a base year change is done periodically to accommodate the changes in the economy. Here, 2011-12 is considered to be a stable year among the available options

More coverage

  • The coverage has been enhanced with greater representation of manufacturing and financial sectors and this became a notable change that caused an upward revision of GDP for few years. Comprehensive coverage of the financial sector including that of stock brokers, coverage of activities of local bodies etc marks a deviation that seems to have caused the increase in GDP figures.

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. Lanceturges response to heatwave exposure surge

Context

  • Average length of heatwaves in India ranged from 3-4 days compared with the global average of 0.8-1.8 days.
  • Indian policy makers must take a series of initiatives to mitigate the increased risks to health, and the loss of labour hours due to a surge in exposure to heatwave events in the country over the 2012-2016 period, the Lancet Countdown 2018 report recommends.
  • The agriculture sector was more vulnerable compared to the industrial and service sectors because workers there were more likely to be exposed to heat.
  • The findings are significant for India as agriculture makes up 18% of the country’s GDP and employs almost half the population.
  • A recent World Bank report on South Asia’s hotspots predicted a 2.8% erosion of the country’s GDP by 2050, accompanied by a fall in living standards due to changes in temperature, rainfall and precipitation patterns.

Heat Wave

  • World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature exceeds the average maximum temperature by five degrees Celsius.
  • If the maximum temperature of any place continues to be more than 45° C consecutively for two days, it is called a heat wave condition.
  • Heat wave is also called a “silent disaster” as it develops slowly and kills and injures humans and animals nationwide.
  • In India, heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • Heat waves are more frequent over the Indo-Gangetic plains of India.

Heat wave risk reduction

  • Early warning system and inter-agency coordination –Temperature forecasts and heat alerts will must sent as bulk messages on mobile phones
  • Medical upgradation and administrative measures –Heat treatment wings planned in hospitals, and heat alerts would trigger early morning shifts for schools and offices.
  • Public Awareness and community outreach –Disseminating public awareness messages on how to protect against the extreme heat-wave through electronic, print as well as social media, and IEC materials.
  • Collaboration with NGOs and civil society organizations –to improve bus stands, building temporary shelters, wherever necessary, improved water delivery systems in public areas and other innovative measures to tackle Heat wave conditions.
  • Assessing the impact –feedback for reviewing and updating the plan for heat wave disaster risk reduction.

Do’s and Dont’s as suggested by National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India

Do’s

  • Drink enough water and whenever possible, even if not thirsty.
  • Schedule strenuous jobs to cooler times of the day
  • Increasing the frequency and length of rest breaks for outdoor activities.
  • Pregnant workers and workers with a medical condition should be given additional attention.

Dont’s

  • Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles.
  • Avoid going out in the sun, especially between 12.00 noon and 3.00 p.m.
  • Avoid wearing dark, heavy or tight clothing.
  • Do not engage in exhausting activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working out in the sun between 12 noon and 3 p.m.
  • Avoid cooking during peak hours. Open doors and windows to ventilate cooking area adequately
  • Avoid drinks that dehydrate the body like tea, alcohol, coffee and aerated drinks.
  • Avoid food items high in proteins and completely avoid eating stale food.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. Central bank recap (RBI and the Central Government)

Larger Background:

The larger issue which civil services aspirants would need to read about is that concerning the autonomy of the RBI. We at BYJUs have covered a detailed video on the same. The link is as below:

Composition of the RBI Board:  

  • Currently, the RBI Board has 18 members, inclusive of the Governor and four Deputy Governors and two top bureaucrats from the Finance Ministry. In addition, the government nominates 10 public representatives from different fields of activity to the board.
  • As a matter of fact, some of the well-known names nominated by the government to the Board now are N. Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, Teamlease founder and chairman Manish Sabharwal, agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, chartered accountant S. Gurumurthy and Bharat Doshi, former CFO of Mahindra & Mahindra. Economic Affairs Secretary Subash C. Garg and Rajiv Kumar, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, represent the government’s interests.

Points of divergence in the views of the RBI and the Government:

  • There are several issues on which the government and the RBI disagree.
  1. A circular of the central bank that dragged several power companies defaulting on repayments to the insolvency process,
  2. Classification of some weak banks as those needing immediate corrective action (which prevented them from lending freely) and
  3. The RBI’s reluctance to open the liquidity tap for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) have been sore points with the government.
  4. Over and above this, the government has been coveting the RBI’s reserves, which it feels belongs to the government.
  5. As a matter of fact, the RBI has been transferring its entire annual profits to the government as dividend in the last five years, but it is reluctant to touch the stock of reserves on its balance sheet.

Brief Commentary on the recent Board Meeting of the RBI:

  • A board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India was held on 19th November, 2018. This turned out to be muted and professional, as it should have been.  
  • Experts point out that the decisions taken by the board address the concerns of both the Centre and the central bank, though on balance it appears that the RBI carried the day.

There were two major concerns of the Centre where it was expecting an immediate resolution. These were:
a) Relaxation of the Prompt Corrective Action framework on 11 public sector banks and
b) Provision of liquidity for non-banking financial companies

These concerns will be addressed at a future date.

  • The first concern, that of relaxation of the Prompt Corrective Action framework on 11 public sector banks, has been referred to a department of the RBI for examination. However, no decision seems to have been taken on the concern surrounding  Provision of liquidity for non-banking financial companies
    • In addition to this, the Centre’s attempt to tap the RBI’s rich reserves has also been staved off for now, with the matter left to be decided by a committee set up exclusively for the purpose. Experts point out that this is as it should be.
    • Experts also add that given that the membership and terms of reference of the committee will be jointly decided by the Centre and the RBI, there is little scope for either side to complain of bias.
  • It is important to note that the RBI has been transferring all of its surpluses to the Centre in the last five years based on the recommendations of an earlier committee led by Y.H. Malegam.
  • Given this, it is unclear what more the new committee can possibly recommend on future surpluses, unless of course it is allowed to go into sharing of the reserves that now exist on the RBI’s balance sheet.
    • The meeting was crucial in the backdrop of the fraught relationship between the government and the RBI. Experts believed that this meeting could have resulted either in resolution or lead to a point of no return.
  • The choices were clear: the RBI and the government had to arrive at an understanding on the issues listed above through a spirit of give and take.
  • After the meeting on 19th November, 2018, the central bank partially yielded to the Centre on two other issues — the Basel capital framework for banks and easing credit flow to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • The RBI didn’t concede the demand for alignment of the capital norms to Basel (they are higher now), but by pushing back the deadline by a year for increasing the capital buffer, it has freed up funds for banks to lend.
  • Further, by permitting debt recast for MSME borrowers of up to Rs. 25 crore, the RBI has attempted to address their credit concerns, which was one of the major demands of the Centre.
  • Experts point out that there was enough give-and-take in the meeting that left both sides with the feeling that they had gained something.
  • At this meeting, the board turned hands-on probably for the first time in recent memory, from being just an advisory body.
  • Further, the fact that the meeting went on for over nine hours clearly indicates that there was an intense exchange of views, which is not a bad thing at all. Differences between the Centre and the central bank must be thrashed out in such a setting, rather than in the media or in public speeches.

Editorial Analysis:

  • On 27th November, 2018, Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel made a deposition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

There were a few important takeaways from this development:  

    • Firstly, the banking industry is over the hump on non-performing assets (NPAs), which peaked in the quarter ending March 2018 at 11.18% of advances.
    • Both gross and net NPAs have registered a decline for two consecutive quarters — June and September 2018.
    • Crucially, there has been a sharp fall in slippages (fresh NPAs added to the existing heap) from 7.3% in March 2018 to 3.87% in September.
    • This is certainly good news as it indicates that the skeletons are mostly out of the cupboard now.
    • It is true that there is still the onerous task of resolving the bad loans stock, which is at a little over Rs. 10 lakh crore now.
  • Experts suggest that profitability of banks will continue to remain under stress as they provide for the bad loans in their books and/or take hair-cuts on recoveries through the insolvency process.
  • Meanwhile, banks will also have to be wary of their small loans portfolio, especially those made under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which already add up to Rs. 6.77 lakh crore. These will need close monitoring.
  • The second important aspect of Mr. Patel’s deposition was his spirited defence of the RBI’s autonomy. Though he was careful not to say anything that would break the détente forged by the Centre and the central bank at its last board meeting on November 19, he made three forceful points: that the RBI’s autonomy is important to protect depositors’ interests; monetary policy has to be the exclusive domain of the RBI; and its reserves are central to maintaining its AAA rating. These statements are probably aimed at nipping in the bud any attempts to change the governance structure of the central bank.

Concluding Remarks:

    • It is important to note that after the last board meeting, there have been reports that the Centre is planning to push for board committees to be set up to “assist” the RBI in the discharge of its work.
    • Further, monetary policy is anyway the preserve of the Monetary Policy Committee created two years ago under the RBI Act, but there are other equally important functions which the Centre may be attempting to control through the board.
  • Finally, the issue of autonomy is clearly the gorilla in the room and driving it out is not going to be an easy task.
  • Yet, for the Centre and the RBI, there is no alternative but to continue talking on this subject even while ensuring that it does not cast a shadow over their other respective roles and responsibilities.
  • In conclusion, the issue of RBI autonomy is not something that first emerged during this government’s tenure, nor is it likely to be solved in its remaining tenure.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Dire strait (Russia- Ukraine)

Larger Background:

Context

  • Ukraine’s government has agreed to impose thirty days of martial law, starting 28th November across ten regions bordering Russia to the east and the Black and Azov Seas to the south.
  • The decision came in response to a Black Sea spat, where Russia fired upon and seized three Ukrainian vessels, and detained 23 Ukrainian sailors. Ukraine called the incident “an act of aggression,” but Russia maintains Ukrainian ships had trespassed in its waters.

Ukraine’s martial law

    • Martial law is generally implemented when a country incurs civil unrest, is in a time of national crisis, or is in a state of war.
  • However, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has maintained that the introduction of martial law “does not mean a declaration of war.”

Ukraine’s Imposition of law is due to following factors

The Sea of Azov—a small sea linked to the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait

  • Ukraine insists that the patrol of the Kerch Strait, where the vessels were impounded, was authorised under a bilateral agreement with Moscow.
  • A new bridge over the strait that connects mainland Russia with Crimea has raised concerns about Moscow’s greater control and influence in the region.

Russia’s View of this issue

  • A court in Russian-annexed Crimea, has ordered many of them to be held in pre-trial detention, charging them with illegally entering its territorial waters. 

Has martial law been declared in the past?

  • This is the first time Ukraine has declared martial law since 1945. It was not declared during the flare-up in tensions and subsequent war in the country’s east in 2014.
  • Many have questioned whether Poroshenko chose now to enact the martial law in a bid to postpone the upcoming presidential elections and increase his dwindling popularity.

Other Areas of Conflict

  • The Ukraine-Russia conflict has also widened religious schisms. The independence granted to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Russian entity was criticised by Moscow.
  • In turn, the election of two breakaway enclaves of Kiev, with Moscow’s endorsement, drew criticism from Ukraine, leading European powers and the U.S. as violations of the Minsk accords.

Implications

  • Russia now regularly inspects Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, imposing extra costs on Ukraine. The area is vital to the Ukrainian economy – steel, grain and other goods pass through it.
  • The risk is that the conflict in eastern Ukraine could intensify. The pro-Russian separatists there have Russian heavy weapons, while Ukraine has received help from the West. They have been fighting since April 2014.
  • The latest incident coincides with the anniversary of the November 2013 Maidan Square protests in Ukraine demanding integration with Europe, which was the prelude to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The protracted conflict has so far claimed about 10,000 lives and displaced millions, and no lasting resolution is in sight.

International Negotiations to address the rising tussle

  • There has been constant Western diplomatic pressure since this conflict has mushroomed, with the UN Security Council and NATO calling on Moscow and Kiev to de-escalate tensions.
  • European powers are divided between those advocating greater diplomatic engagement with the Kremlin and others wanting to press with further sanctions to punish perceived Russian political interference. With this dilemma, lack of firm conviction to this issue it has achieved little by way of confidence-building in the region.

Conclusion

  • With hawkish behavior emanating from the US administration and Provocation from NATO’s continued expansion into former Eastern Europe and the erstwhile USSR, it is time for greater engagement with Moscow
  • So with the humanitarian situation arising from the continuing conflict brooks no delay in arriving at a speedy resolution

Minsk agreements

  • The Minsk Protocol (later known as Minsk-1) with the Minsk Memorandum of September 2014 and the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements (Minsk-2) are agreements between Ukraine and Russia to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
  • The Minsk Protocol (Minsk-1) failed. Four months later Minsk-2 was signed to revive the peace efforts featured by Minsk-1. Minsk-2 is basically a more detailed Minsk-1 agreement. Minsk-2 didn’t replace the first agreement, but it was intended to revive the Minsk-1 after its collapse.
  • The 2014-15 Minsk peace accords prohibited air strikes and heavy artillery firing.

Category: HUMAN GEOGRAPHY

1. Protect indigenous people

Larger Background:

  • The Sentinelese are the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island.
    • The area is about 60 Sq. Kilometers.
  • They are probably the world’s only Paleolithic people surviving today without contact with any other group or community.
  • They are considered as an off-shoot to the Onge Jarawa tribes which have acquired a different identity due to their habitation in an isolated and have lost contact with the main tribes.
  • The Sentinelese are very hostile and never leave their Island. Very little is known about these hostile tribes.

A Closer Look:

  • The recent death of a young American, John Chau at the hands of the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has led to dangerous lines of debate.
  • Some have called for the Sentinelese to be convicted and punished and others have urged that they be integrated into modern society.
  • Experts suggest that both these demands are misguided, and can only result in the extinction of a people.
  • It is important to note that John Chau’s killing was a tragedy but his attempt to make contact with the Sentinelese, who he seemed to know something about, was dangerous, not only to himself but to them.
  • There is a reason why no one — whether missionary, scholar, adventurer, U.S. citizen or Indian — is allowed to venture near North Sentinel Island without permission, which is given only in the rarest of circumstances and with meticulous precautions in place to ensure that the Sentinelese are not disturbed.
  • The Sentinelese have lived in isolation in an island in the Bay of Bengal for thousands of years. The Sentinelese have no immunity or resistance to even the commonest of infections.
  • Various degrees of protection are in place for the indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in the case of the Sentinelese. The administration enforces “an ‘eyes-on and hands-off’ policy to ensure that no poachers enter the island”.
  • A protocol of circumnavigation of the island is in place, and the buffer maintained around the island is enforced under various laws.
  • The Sentinelese are perhaps the most reclusive community in the world today.
  • Their language is so far understood by no other group and they have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders with spears and arrows. Arrows were fired even at a government aircraft that flew over the island after the 2004 Tsunami.
  • Chau knowingly broke the law, as did those who took him to the waters off North Sentinel Island.
  • As a matter of fact, seven persons, including five fishermen, have been arrested for facilitating this misadventure.
  • Further, to call for an investigation on the island, however, is to fail to see its historical and administrative uniqueness.
  • At the heart of the issue is the survival of the Sentinelese.
  • According to the 2011 Census, their population was just 15 — though anthropologists like T.N. Pandit, who made contact with them in the 1960s, put the figure at 80-90.
  • Finally, Chau’s death is a cautionary incident — for the danger of adventurism, and for the administration to step up oversight. But it is also an occasion for the country to embrace its human heritage in all its diversity, and to empathetically try to see the world from the eyes of its most vulnerable inhabitants.
  • Having said the above, much of the debates on the alleged killing of John Allen Chau by “hostile” islanders remains focused on the intent, circumstances and tragic upshot of his misadventure.
  • Other experts raise larger and more disturbing questions about the North Sentinel tribal community at large and the efficacy of the Indian government’s tribal welfare policies.

Differing Narratives: The Question of Isolation

    • Experts point out that what is of greater significance surrounding the issue is the commentary on the “hostility” of the Sentinel islanders and the many experiences of heroic “contact” by visiting anthropologists and government officials.
  • The broader media interest is in the peculiar and almost brutal hostility displayed by the Sentinel islanders towards the outsider.
  • Some observers see it as signs of a pathological “primitivity” and the result of “complete isolation” from “civilisation” while others interpret it as an effect of the historical memory of colonial brutality.
  • It has also been pointed out that given the fact that we do not know the language of the Sentinelese, nor have we had any opportunity to understand their varied gestures of hostility, it’s hard to come to any definitive answer.

Grounds for questioning their isolation:

    • Importantly, experts point out that it is the question of “isolation” that demands more critical attention. Currently, we are not entirely sure if it can be established that the Sentinelese, or the “Sentinel Jarawas” as they were classified in colonial records, were or are completely isolated.
    • Both colonial records and Census reports up to 1931 reveal that officials did set foot on the islands and were able to walk through it to collect information.
    • Further, the Government of India’s own official “contact” photographs from the 1970s onwards reveal interesting signs that question the “complete isolation” thesis.
    • If we carefully analyse this visual record, we can see how the shape of Sentinelese outrigger canoes has changed and how they continue to use large quantities of iron to make adze blades and arrowheads. We also notice small glass bead necklaces around their necks. Where are these glass beads, trinkets, large tarpaulin sheets and ready supplies of iron coming from?
  • Further, out of the Anthropological Survey of India’s recorded 26 visits to the islands, it is stated that seven were met with overt hostility.
    • Thus, stemming from this argument, the point put forward that the hostility of the Sentinelese is chronic or pathological needs to be seen in perspective.
  • Experts point out that the Sentinel Islanders decide on what kind of visitations pose a threat to their survival or dignity and what are “safe” or “useful”. Further, their hostility towards the outsider is then to be regarded as “strategic” and deliberate and therefore key to their survival.
  • Some experts have asked why the Indian state cannot devise a method by which the Sentinelese could be “pacified” and brought under the welfare net.

A Perspective on the Policies of Protection:

    • Experts point out that the Policies of “protection” demand strong surveillance infrastructures, empowered staff, coordination among police, forest and welfare agencies and, more importantly, investment in projects of sensitisation.
    • They further add that the settler population on the islands clearly remains conflicted. There is an understanding that the islands’ indigenous communities are sources of tourist interest and potential revenue churners, yet the fact that public monies are invested to sustain them in their habitats remain a source of discomfort.
    • Further, apart from a small segment of progressive citizens, there are clear marks of stress in settler-indigene relations on the islands. Experts point out that it is tensions like these that allow collusive breaches of the law and the undermining of the protective cover for the Sentinelese and other Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) like the Jarawas. Experts further add that what may aggravate such tensions are the skewed developmental priorities that mainland India may impose on these islands.
    • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have historically been treated as terra nullius, or empty space, wherein mainland governments could inscribe their authority and initiate projects of control.
    • The British initiated these projects treating the islands first as a strategic outpost and then a penal colony.
    • The Indian government gave it a free society but used it as a space to settle its “excess” population. Hence the refugee rehabilitation schemes in the post-Partition years.
    • It is this resettlement of the islands in independent India that demanded a renegotiation of its relations with the Islands’ indigenous communities. They had to be protected and cared for but moved out of their original forest habitats into newly designated “tribal reserves”.
  • Further, as a result of continuous settlement and often ill-conceived developmental projects on the islands over the past six decades, these reserves have become increasingly vulnerable to the intrusions of poachers, encroachers and tourists.

A Note on Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

There are 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) notified as on date in the country.  The criteria followed for determination of PVTGs are as under:

  1. A pre-agriculture level of technology;
  2. A stagnant or declining population;
  3. Extremely low literacy; and
  4. A subsistence level of economy.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing a scheme namely “Development of PVTGs” which covers the 75 identified PVTGs among Scheduled Tribes in 18 States/ UT of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.  
  • It is a flexible scheme and covers funding for activities like housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy for lighting purpose, social security including Janshree Beema Yojana or any other innovative activity meant for the comprehensive socio-economic development of PVTGs.  
  • Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme(TSS), Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Schedule Tribes and Strengthening of Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts.

Editorial Analysis:

  • It is important to note that the debates following the recent alleged killing of an American national, John Allen Chau, by the Sentinelese have put the spotlight on the vulnerability of an indigenous community that has lived for thousands of years with little contact with outsiders.
  • Experts The Sentinelese have been more fortunate than the Jarawas, though.
  • The Andaman Trunk Road, among other projects, has cut into the heart of the Jarawa reserve, which has not only disturbed their ecological environment but also changed their lifestyle and dietary habits and endangered them.
  • There are four ancient Negrito tribal communities in the Andaman Islands (the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese) and two Mongoloid tribal communities in the Nicobar Islands (the Shompen and Nicobarese). Except the Nicobarese, the populations of the other tribes have reduced drastically over the decades.

India’s Policy Towards Tribals:

    • Jawaharlal Nehru’s Tribal Panchsheel were the guiding principles after Independence to formulate policies for the indigenous communities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Based on them, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation (ANPATR), 1956 was promulgated by the President.
    • This Regulation protected the tribals from outside interference, specified the limits of reserved areas and said no land in a reserved area shall be allotted for agricultural purposes or sold or mortgaged to outsiders.
    • Those violating the land rights of the tribals were to be imprisoned for one year, fined Rs. 1,000, or both.
    • Despite this, there continued to be constant interactions between the tribals and settlers/ outsiders.
    • A policy of non-intervention was also proposed by an expert committee on the directions of the Supreme Court. The committee submitted its report in July 2003.
    • The trigger for this was a 1999 petition that sought to bring the Jarawas into the mainstream. The committee recommended protecting the Jarawas from harmful contact with outsiders, preserving their cultural and social identity, conserving their land and advocated sensitising settlers about the Jarawas.
    • In 2005, nearly 50 years after it was promulgated, the ANPATR was amended.
    • The term of imprisonment as well as the fine were increased. However, in the years in between, the Andaman Trunk Road had already ensured increased interaction with the tribals.
    • In the case of the Jarawas, this had led to the spread of diseases, sexual exploitation, and begging. Similarly, a policy for protecting the Shompen tribes was released only in 2015. However, in spite of the 2005 amendment, videos of commercial exploitation of the Jarawas in the name of “human safaris” were widely reported in the media.
  • Following this, the government amended the ANPATR yet again in 2012, creating a buffer zone contiguous to the Jarawa tribal reserve where commercial establishments were prohibited, and regulating tourist operators.
  • Despite all these amendments and provisions, there continue to be numerous reports of civilian intrusion into the Jarawa tribal reserve.

A Note on International Conventions:

    • It is important to note that International policy has changed over the decades.
  • While the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957, of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) insisted on an integrationist approach towards tribal communities, the 1989 convention insisted on a policy of non-intervention, “recognising the aspirations of these peoples to exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic development.”

Concluding Remarks:

    • It goes to the credit of the Indian government that unlike its colonial predecessors it has completely abjured all kinds of coercion against the indigenous communities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • Further, colonial punitive expeditions, kidnappings, forced confinements that devastated the Andamanese populations at large are a thing of the past. Tribal welfare policy in the islands remains committed to protection and clearly “pacification” via coercion is no option. The policy today is to ensure “protection” but also to accept their right to self-determination.
    • Further, India ratified the 1957 convention but has not ratified the 1989 convention. However, despite not signing it, India tried to tread the path of non-interference.
    • Stemming from this, some experts have pointed out that it is puzzling that in August, 2018 the government relaxed the restricted area permit (RAP) for 29 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar, including North Sentinel Island.
    • Also, if the government has decided to ease the restrictions in a phased manner, this could adversely affect the indigenous population in the long run.
    • It is important to note that such commercialisation of tribal spaces could lead to encroachment of land, as we see in other parts of the country.
    • Considering the significance of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the government needs to reorient its priorities towards protecting them from outside influence. India needs to sign the 1989 convention of the ILO, and implement its various policies to protect the rights of the indigenous population. It should also make efforts to sensitise settlers and outsiders about them. That Chau was helped in his journey shows a lack of understanding about the Sentinelese. Only concrete efforts can prevent such an incident from happening again.
    • In conclusion, one hopes that we can draw a few lessons from the unfortunate death of John Allen Chau and question the ways in which mainland India views the islands from its distant perch in New Delhi.
  • One can only hope that the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the announcement of new projects for “holistic” development take a context-sensitive “island view” of development and recognise settlers and PVTGs as equal stakeholders in a common sustainable future.

F. Tidbits

1. Savanna principle

  • This refers to the hypothesis that the human brain is adapted primarily to the conditions in which human ancestors survived once upon a time rather than to the modern age.
  • The term was coined by American evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa in an academic article published in 2004 to state that the human brain may be adapted to the time when human ancestors lived in the African savannas.
  • The Savanna principle has been used to explain why a lot of human behaviour in the modern age seems irrational. Since the modern age is relatively recent in evolutionary terms, the human brain may not have evolved sufficiently to deal with the modern environment.

2. NGT slaps ₹5-crore fine on Bengal

 

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a fine of ₹5 crore on the West Bengal government for failing to take steps to improve the air quality of Kolkata and Howrah.
  • Subhas Datta, the petitioner, said that the cost has been imposed for failing to comply with an earlier order of the NGT in August 2016.
  • In an order on Tuesday, the principal bench of NGT’s Eastern Zone, comprising Judges S.P. Wangdi and non-judicial member Nagin Nanda, directed the State’s Chief Secretary to file an affidavit by January 8, 2019 regarding the payment of compensation and the action taken report in this regard.
  • The NGT directed that the cost should be paid within two weeks to the Central Pollution Control Board. If the government failed to do so, it would have to pay an additional ₹1 crore as fine for every month’s delay.
  • The 2016 order included taking steps like augmentation of air monitoring network, traffic management, streamlining of efficiency auto emission training centres, and phasing out of commercial vehicles more than 15-years-old.

3. CBI to probe Bihar shelters

 

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the CBI to investigate the “gamut of allegations” involving 17 Bihar shelter homes for children, destitute women, beggars and senior citizens after the case of sexual abuse of children in a Muzaffarpur home.
  • The CBI has already been investigating the Muzaffarpur case on a directive from the court.
  • The court criticised the Nitish Kumar government — in the presence of the Bihar Chief Secretary — for “not doing its job properly.”
  • The State, represented by advocates Gopal Singh and Manish Kumar, repeatedly urged the court not to transfer the cases to the CBI, but the court was firm. “If the State government had done its job properly, these cases would not have gone to the CBI. You had enough time; yet, you did not do your job properly,” Justice Madan B. Lokur said.

4. BJP gets most trusts donations

 

  • The BJP was the recipient of 86.6% of all donations made by electoral trusts in the financial year 2017-18, new data show.
  • A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms analysing data on the receipts and donations of electoral trusts shows that the BJP received ₹8 crore, or 86.59%, of the total donations received by all political parties from electoral trusts in 2017-18 while the Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, the Nationalist Congress Party and the National Conference received only ₹25.98 crore collectively.
  • “Bharti Airtel contributed the highest amount of ₹005 crore amongst all donors of the electoral trusts,” the report said.

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Plants take nutrients from soil by the process called 

  1. Osmosis
  2. Diffusion
  3. Transpiration
  4. Absorption

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. An interim Budget is a complete set of accounts, including both expenditure and receipts.
  2. It made by the government just before the election.

Select the correct ones:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Exercise KAZIND-2018, a joint military exercise is conducted between 
  1. India and Kazakhstan
  2. India and Pakistan
  3. India and Afghanistan
  4. India and Kyrgyzstan

See

Answer

 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. India and Germany share several values and objectives. They are among the world’s largest economies and share a long history of a bilateral relationship.  In this context, discuss the contemporary relationship between these two countries in detail. (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. Explain how technology can be helpful in better fulfilling the objectives of the National Health Protection Mission? (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
 

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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