TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Centenary of the end of the First World War: Saffron marigold 2. PM inaugurates revamped National Police Memorial 3. PMO told to disclose corruption complaints INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. U.S. to pull out of Russia missile pact 2. Maldives judiciary upholds poll result C. GS3 Related INTERNAL SECURITY 1. Blast after J&K police raid on hideout ECONOMY 1. Brexit: Ireland woos Indian companies ENVIRONMENT 1. The practice of burning crop waste D. GS4 Related E. Editorials DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. Railways Tragedy: Dussehra celebrations at Amritsar’s Dhobi Ghat SOCIAL ISSUES 1. Migrant workers in India: A case study of Gujarat F. Tidbits G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
Context: Why in news
- Marigold will be the symbol of India’s sacrifices when the world marks the centenary of the end of the First World War on November 11.
- It was felt that there was a strong need for India to have a uniquely Indian symbol that could allow citizens in India, as well as the international diaspora, to acknowledge the valour and sacrifice of the Indian armed forces in the service of the nation, including those who fell in the two world wars.
- In line with this, the ‘India Remembers’ project, initiated by the USI, proposed that the marigold flower join the poppy as a uniquely Indian symbol of remembrance.
Why was it chosen?
- The marigold was chosen because it is easily and widely available and also because saffron is often seen as a colour of sacrifice.
- The India Remembers project is a joint endeavour of the USI and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a part of the ‘India and the Great War’ Centenary Commemoration project initiated by the USI in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and in close association with the British High Commission.
- The proposal was put up in 2016 and since then, the marigold has been widely promoted in all India-related commemorative events around the world.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laid a marigold wreath at India Gate during their visit in April 2016.
- Since then, the marigold has also been used across the United Kingdom, along with the poppy, as part of community engagement projects to highlight India’s contribution in the First World War, a diplomatic source said.
- The Indian War Memorial, to be inaugurated at Villers-Guislain in France, has a bronze marigold wreath as an integral part of its design.
- The First World War ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. Since then, poppy was adopted as the symbol of remembrance as it grew widely in the Flanders fields in Europe where some of the major battles were fought.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a revamped National Police Memorial and a museum at Chankayapuri on Sunday.
- Conceptualised in 1984, the earlier memorial, a 150-foot structure of steel, was brought down on the order of the Delhi High Court in 2008 because it violated environmental norms.
National Police Commemoration Day
- The National Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21 every year to pay homage to the 10 men of the Central Reserve Police Force killed in an ambush by Chinese troops in 1959 in Ladakh’s Hot Spring area.
- Modi said the plan to have a National Police Memorial was conceptualised when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.
- Modi also announced a decoration in the name of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for police and paramilitary men engaged in disaster relief.
- The Central Information Commission has directed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to disclose complaints of corruption received against Union Ministers between 2014 and 2017 and the action taken on them.
- Chief Information Commissioner Radha Krishna Mathur, while considering a plea of Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, also directed the PMO to share information on the quantum and value of black money brought back from abroad during the government’s tenure, along with records of efforts made in this direction.
- The order asked the PMO to disclose information related to deposits made by the government in bank accounts of Indian citizens from the black money brought from abroad.
- The Prime Minister’s Office had termed the questions asked by Mr. Chaturvedi, in his RTI application related to black money, as not covered in the definition of information that can be accessed under the Right to Information Act, but Mr. Mathur rejected the contention.
- The Commission further observed that the respondent has not given a correct and specific reply/information to the appellant on point numbers 1(b) (corruption complaints against Ministers), 4, 5, 12 & 13 (related to corruption in AIIMS) of the RTI application.
- U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that the U.S. would pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, a crucial Cold War-era treaty banning the development, testing and possession of short and medium-range ground-launched nuclear missiles with a range of 500-5,000 km.
- The treaty, signed in 1987, was central to ending the arms race between the two superpowers, and protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attacks.
- John Bolton, Mr Trump’s National Security Advisor, is in Moscow on a visit and is expected to convey the decision to the Russians.
- At issue is Russia’s alleged development and deployment of the Novator 9M729 missile, also known as the SSC-8, that could strike Europe at short notice, an allegation that Russia has repeatedly denied.
- Accusations of Russia violating the treaty pre-date the Trump presidency and go back to 2008.
- The U.S. administration, under former President Barack Obama, raised the issue of Russia testing a ground-launched cruise missile with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.
- The Russians denied the allegations and raised counter-allegations of the U.S. installing missile defence systems in Europe.
- While the two countries failed to find a resolution using the dispute resolution mechanism in the treaty, the U.S. continued to remain a party to the treaty under pressure from its European allies.
- U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis had told NATO Ministers earlier in October that the U.S. would withdraw from the INF if Russia did not roll-back its Novator missiles.
- A withdrawal will allow the U.S. new weapon options in the Pacific in its efforts to counter China’s growing influence. There are also concerns that the treaty’s end could mark the beginning of a new arms race between the U.S. and Russia.
- The Russian government warned the U.S. against such a withdrawal.
- The Maldives Supreme Court rejected a petition by outgoing President Abdulla Yameen to annul the September presidential election, clearing the way for transfer of power to joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- Yameen’s claim that the poll was rigged was not substantiated with evidence, the five-member bench ruled, underscoring the comfortable majority that Mr. Solih won in the high-stakes election.
- Many Maldivians feared that the September 23 poll may not be free and fair, given Mr. Yameen’s authoritarian tendencies. However, the election was largely peaceful, with complaints mostly pertaining to a rather slow voting process that forced people to wait in long queues for hours.
- Soon after the results were out — Mr. Solih won 58.4% of the vote — Mr. Yameen publicly conceded defeat, but about a fortnight later, his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) filed a legal petition contesting the outcome, claiming the vote was “rigged”.
- Following Sunday’s Supreme Court ruling, Male will now prepare for the swearing-in ceremony in November.
- Meanwhile, Mr. Solih’s Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) has sought a travel ban on Mr. Yameen, so that he can face investigations into alleged graft cases.
- After Maldivians voted for change, dissident Opposition leaders, who were either jailed by Mr. Yameen or in exile, are hopeful of release and return.
- Last week, a Maldivian court overturned the jail term of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a month after Mr. Yameen, his estranged half-brother, lost the election.
- Exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed has vowed to return to Male on November 1.
C. GS3 Related
Context: Why in news?
- Six civilians, including a teenager, were killed in a blast caused by ammunition in a house, where three Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants were earlier killed in a pre-dawn operation at Kulgam in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.
- People didn’t follow appeals to refrain from going to the encounter site. They went inside the house and touched a grenade, which exploded, said Additional DGP Muneer Ahmad Khan.
- The explosion at Laroo village, 60 km south of Srinagar, took place immediately after security forces ended a five-hour gunfight and withdrew from the encounter site around noon.
- It was a joint pre-dawn operation led by the Army, with the components of the police’s special operations group and the CRPF.
- Security forces had detonated the house, where three local militants were holed up, with explosives, leaving behind a skeleton of a three-storey building. Two soldiers were also injured.
- Local residents were seen shifting the dead and the injured on motorbikes and three-wheelers to the nearest hospital. Over a dozen civilians were critically injured in the blast.
- The deaths sparked spontaneous shutdown in large parts of the valley, including capital Srinagar.
Police blame civilians for Kulgam deaths
- After six civilians were killed in a blast at a house in Kulgam after an operation by security forces on Sunday, a police spokesman said a large congregation entered the encounter site before sanitisation of the spot.
- The police said they had seized arms and ammunition from the site and retrieved the bodies of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, identified as Shahid Ahmad Tantary, Zubair Ahmad Lone and Yazil Ahmad Makroo, ahead of the explosion.
- A JeM spokesman threatened to “avenge the deaths”. The separatists’ conglomerate, Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, termed the incident a “carnage”, and called for a shutdown on Monday and a protest march on Tuesday.
- The Army on Sunday foiled an infiltration bid in Jammu’s Sunderbani area and killed two infiltrators. However, three soldiers were also killed in the operation.
- The deceased soldiers were identified as havildar Kaushal Kumar, lance naik Ranjeet Singh, and rifleman Rajat Kumar Basan.
- With just six months away for Brexit to become a reality, Ireland is wooing Indian companies, currently having United Kingdom (U.K.) as their EU headquarters, to shift base to the country.
- Indian companies in the U.K. and particularly, those using the U.K. as a gateway to the EU face some important strategic and operational decisions.
- Since IT, automobile and pharmaceutical industries may be among the most prominent sectors for which Brexit poses some special challenges, Ireland has stepped up efforts to attract them.
- Also, other industries such as garments, chemicals, polymers and consumer goods, which will have to review their strategies for a post-Brexit EU, are on the radar.
- Setting up offices in multiple EU countries is likely to be an expensive, unnecessary and complex exercise, and therefore the need for companies to identify the one, right location within the EU that works for them.
- As per IDA’s estimates India’s trade with the EU — minus the U.K. — has more than trebled since 2000.
- The EU, even without the U.K., is the third largest market for Indian companies. About 800 Indian companies use the U.K. as a gateway into the EU; over 1,10,000 people are employed with those companies.
- For Tata Motors Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Europe is an important market, accounting for 25% of the global sales.
- As Brexit draws closer, she said Indian firms must also factor in several uncertainties that are lying ahead.
- In May this year, the government announced a National Policy on Biofuels, which laid out the path towards increasing the country’s ethanol and biodiesel production.
- One of the stated benefits of biofuels was the impact this would have on the practice of burning crop waste in preparation for the next planting season.
- By reducing crop burning and conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels, there will be further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- However, this has not come to pass. Crop burning still remains a major problem across the country, and in particular, in the agrarian States of Haryana and Punjab.
- It will still take years before the process of using crop residue for biofuel and thus, eliminating the need for stubble burning, becomes economically viable for the farmers and biofuel companies alike, according to industry players.
- All in all, in India, the problem of crop residue burning is a very large problem. There are varying estimates, but they range from 200 million tonnes to 240 million tonnes a year. And this is crop residue that is not usable for other purposes such as animal feed, etc.
- Punjab and Haryana together account for about 20 million tonnes, or about 10%, of the crop residue burnt in the country every year.
- A lot of work is happening in the biofuel sector but from a private player perspective, it is still not economically viable to go and collect all the husk from a big geographical area because only a certain quantity can be fit on one truck.
- The logistical cost is very high if private players go to collect this husk. And the yield of converting this husk to ethanol is very low.
- Collecting and using husk is actually not that viable a solution until there is an incentive from the government, whether State or the Centre. That is why it has not picked up over the last couple of years.
- Sector experts say that while the government has introduced the macro-level policy on biofuels, there is a need for the State governments to come out with their own specific guidelines and then, for the companies to begin making the required changes.
Pellets from residue
- There are various ways in which crop residue can be used as fuel for energy. One option is to make pellets from the residue and use them to complement the coal burned in thermal power plants.
- Another option is to set up more ethanol and bio-CNG plants that can use the crop residue as fuel. However, the problem is in creating a chain from the field to the power plant.
- The Ministry of Power has a regulation where it is mandatory for all coal-fired thermal plants to use a minimum percentage of crop-residue pellets.
- But for States to now make guidelines and enforce this policy, and for companies to actually start buying the pellets, and for suppliers to come in and make the required investments, this takes a certain amount of time. In the next year or two years, we should see a positive traction in the industry.
- The key problem is that the harvest window is very short, about 20-30 days.
Burning: A Quick solution
- In this time, farmers have to harvest their crop, and then clear the fields in preparation for the next crop. Burning has been the quickest solution.
- The government has already started giving subsidies for farm equipment. The way forward is in using such technologies, such as baling machines and other automated machines, to do the work.
- With India’s ethanol consumption is set to rise in the coming years, crop residue can serve as a ready and environmentally-friendly source of raw material to bolster this trend.
- India’s ethanol consumption will outgrow production for the fourth consecutive year due to an uptick in fuel ethanol purchases and steady demand from the industrial and potable sectors.
- As a result, consumption will grow from 2 billion litres in 2017 to 2.4 billion litres in 2018.
- Industry estimates peg the total investment in the biofuel sector in India, across ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas, at about $1.5-2 billion. However, this is expected to rise tenfold by 2022 to $15 billion.
Context: What happened?
- Dussehra turned into a tragedy as nearly 60 were killed and several injured after two trains mowed down around 150 people who stood on the railway tracks watching the effigy of burning Ravana near Amritsar.
- The injured were admitted to different hospitals in the city. As the effigy was lit and fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event.
- According to estimates, around 300 spectators were present at the Dhobi Ghat ground, which is almost a couple of kilometers away from the Amritsar railway station.
Background: How did the disaster occur?
- Dussehra celebrations at Amritsar’s Dhobi Ghat have been a four-decade-old affair. Hundreds throng the place to see the fireworks as the effigy of Ravana is set on fire, celebrating the victory of good over evil.
- There was no complaint from the Indian Railways or locals over the choice of venue until Friday when train accident took place, killing 61 people.
- While the Dussehra revelers stood on the ground, witnessing the symbolic victory of good over evil in the fall of Ravana’s effigy, train no. 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU ran over those, who chose to come on the tracks to get a better view of the fireworks.
- Before the survivors could grasp a sense of what had happened, a second train- Amritsar-Howrah Express sped past the railway tracks mowing down people who had jumped on the second set of tracks to escape the incoming disaster.
- Most of the people who attended the celebrations were migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who settled in Punjab for earning a livelihood, dabbling in small-time occupations like sanitary workers, wood polish workers, gardeners, painters among others.
What’s wrong with the venue?
- Organizing the event at the small triangular ground with just two gates—one opening on the main road and the other facing the railway tracks, besides the open dias at one corner that doubled up as a platform for the Dussehra celebrations—was always a risky proposition.
Was it the Organizers’ fault?
- Organizers did not care to seek a written permission from either the district administration or the municipal corporation.
- There was no prior arrangement to deal with any untoward incident. This time it was no different. The public and the administration knew about the celebrations, but no one cared to find out if adequate safety measures were taken.
Who else is responsible?
- In the aftermath of the disaster, there is an effort to pin responsibility on agencies and individuals.
- The disaster at Amritsar is a reminder that government departments have not yet taken official protocols for safety at mass gatherings seriously.
- It is the basic failure of the district administration and the police, which should have ensured law and order.
- Even after getting a No-Objection-Certificate from police, there was no effort by the police in controlling the law and order.
- The Municipal Corporation in Amritsar has tried to distance itself claiming that its permission was not sought.
- The magisterial inquiry ordered by the Punjab government should examine the actions of the revenue authorities and the police in organising the event, and whether rules were ignored to favour the organisers who claimed proximity to some politicians.
To what extent is the Railways responsible?
- Indian Railways has 63,000km of railway track and there is no surveillance system on tracks. If a track is laid, it is railways’ property and not public property.
- If any person comes on tracks, it amounts to trespassing. Under the Railways’ rules, people who have been injured were trespassers and can be fined and punished.
Religious festivals in India: Recent tragedies
- Major religious festivals in India are often overshadowed by deadly incidents such as stampedes and fires, ranging from the terrible toll of 249 deaths at the Chamunda Devi temple stampede in Jodhpur in 2008, to the railway station stampede during the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad five years later in which 36 people died.
Way Forward: Issues to be addressed in mass gatherings
- There is a serious deficit of common spaces in cities, towns and villages to conduct spectacular events safely. This is incongruous in a populous country with a tradition of festivals and cultural gatherings.
- There should be a transformation of the way such events are organised, with a lead agency in each State and district empowered to issue instructions, and in turn be accountable for public safety.
- The National Disaster Management Authority has created a guide for State governments and local bodies, laying down a clear protocol to be followed for mass gatherings and festivals.
- Whether this was followed by the Amritsar authorities in the planning of the Dasara celebrations is one of the questions that must be addressed.
- The Punjab government says it will draw up guidelines for the future. At Amritsar, trespass on the track was the prime reason for the accident.
- A campaign to educate the public that railway tracks cannot be treated as commons, and vigorous enforcement, will reduce the probability of such incidents.
- The Railways must identify hazard spots for train movement in heavily built-up areas and prevent trespass by barricading them.
Context: why in news?
- The recent attacks on migrant labour after an incident in Gujarat late last month, involving the sexual assault of a 14-month-old girl, allegedly by a migrant labourer from Bihar, appears to be have been a consequence of resentment.
- Many migrant workers have now rushed out to their home States out of fear despite several local people having been taken into custody on the charge of inciting violence against migrant workers.
- There have been reports of an estimated 60,000 to more than a lakh workers leaving the State of Gujarat.
Gujarat: A hub for migration
- Gujarat is one of the top States in India that receive migrant workers, largely temporary and seasonal, on a large scale.
- In Gujarat, they work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in a wide range of activities such as in agriculture, brick kilns and construction work, salt pans and domestic work, petty services and trades such as food and street vending as well as in textiles and garments, embroidery and diamond cutting and polishing, small engineering and electronics and also small and big factories.
- These workers are from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and even from as far as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Karnataka.
- Employers send contractors to distant unexplored places to gather labour at the lowest possible wage rate. For example, a new township in Gujarat being promoted by a large industrialist is to be built with workers from Assam.
What are the problems faced by migrant workers in Gujarat?
- Surprisingly, the Gujarat government has no data on/estimates of migrant workers coming to Gujarat. Informally, the figures are estimated to be between 40 lakh to one crore.
- Segmenting the labour market and creating a separate labour market for migrant workers — who are easy to exploit — has been a common strategy of employers across India.
Conditions of work
- The pathetic conditions migrant workers face have been widely documented. They earn low wages, work very long hours without any overtime benefits, and are almost without any leave or social protection.
- Lakhs of unskilled and migrant workers live on worksites in makeshift huts (usually made of tin sheets) or on roads, slums and in illegal settlements not served by municipalities.
- They are neither able to save much to improve their conditions back in their home States nor save enough to live comfortably in Gujarat.
- They go back home only once or twice to celebrate festivals. Semi-skilled workers with some education and skills such as those in diamond cutting and polishing units, power looms and factories get slightly higher wages and earn some leave.
- However, these workers are also exploited in multiple ways and are mostly unprotected. Factory owners, employers and traders are only too happy with such a situation as they earn huge profits from wage labour exploitation.
Insider versus Outsider
- Local workers resent the presence of migrant workers who they feel take away their jobs in factories and other places on account of being cheap labour. Those who have stayed back now live under constant fear.
Impact of exodus of workers
- The exodus is cause for concern as it is bound to impact Gujarat’s growth and create resentment among factory owners and other employers, especially at a time when the general election is drawing close.
- This would also avert a crisis in the migrants’ home States which would have to cope with an army of the unemployed.
- States are indifferent to the well being of migrant workers and their rights.
- The Gujarat government wants normalcy to return so that migrant workers can toil for the prosperity of Gujarat, while the Bihar government, which is at its end trying to manage the sudden inflow of returning migrants, wants migration to Gujarat to continue as before.
- Uttar Pradesh has lauded the Gujarat government for handling the situation well.
Labour laws in India
- Under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act and other labour laws (for unorganised workers), migrant workers in Gujarat are legally entitled to all their basic labour rights.
- These include minimum wages, regular wage payment, regular working hours and overtime payment, and decent working and living conditions which include taking care of the health and education of their children.
- Under the same Act, the governments of the States from where migrant workforce originate are expected to issue licences to contractors who take workers away, register such workers and also monitor their working and living conditions in other States.
- But most State governments remain indifferent to these laws. Gujarat has taken a few steps but these are far from adequate.
- In the political sphere, there has been hardly any mention about protecting the legal rights of migrant workers in India.
- The political impulse has been to maintain status quo — the continuation of the situation where migrant workers are exploited.
Preference to the locals: The case of Gujarat
- The Gujarat government passed a rule in the 1990s making it mandatory for industries and employers in Gujarat to give 85% of jobs to local people.
- This rule was never really implemented in reality, but watered down by the State government in its subsequent industrial policies, as new and large investors coming to the State did not like any such restrictions.
- Now there is a move in the State to introduce a law for industries and investors in Gujarat which reserves 80% of labour jobs for State domiciles and at least 25% for local workers.
- But those behind the idea are perhaps fully aware of the futility of such a move. As long as there are huge surpluses from the labour of migrant workers, employers will have no incentive in hiring local workers.
A way out
- In the end, the real solution to this issue would be to enforce all relevant labour laws for migrant workers so that segmentation of the labour market becomes weak, and workers (local and migrant) get a fair and equal deal in the labour market.
- This will also weaken unfair competition between local and migrant labour and enable migrant workers either to settle down in the place of destination or to go back home and make a good living there.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements about Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces:
- Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces is a treaty between U.S and Russia.
- This treaty requires destruction of the Parties’ ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2. Consider the following statements about National Police Commemoration Day (NPCD):
- The National Police Commemoration Day (NPCD) is observed every year in India on October 21 to mark the memory of brave policemen who sacrificed their lives while discharging their duties.
- The day commemorates the sacrifices of ten policemen while defending our borders with China in 1959.
Select the incorrect answer using the code given below:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 3. Consider the following statements :
- India’s maiden lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 was launched by ISRO using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
- The purpose of the mission was chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the moon.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam
- Discuss the problems faced by migrant laborers in India. Suggest some measures to improve their conditions.(250 words)
- The disaster at Amritsar is a reminder that government departments have not yet taken official protocols for safety at mass gatherings seriously. Critically analyze.(250 words)
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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