01 Sep 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. The Law Commission of India on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
GOVERNANCE
1. Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Root out terror: BIMSTEC
2. SAARC meet to allow India-Pak. interface
3. U.S. to stop funding UN’s Palestine agency
4. EU to scrap time change rule
5. Ramon Magsaysay award: ‘Asia’s Nobel’ celebrates social heroes
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. GDP grows 8.2% in April-June
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India and the U.S. — it’s complicated
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
1. Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands development Story: Good or bad?
POLITY
1. The sedition debate
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

Category: POLITY

1. The Law Commission of India on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

 

Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.
  • The constitution has a provision for Uniform Civil Code in Article 44 as a Directive Principle of State Policy which states that “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

In news

  • NEW DELHI, September 01, 2018 00:00 IST
  • Updated: September 01, 2018 05:44 IST
  • The Law Commission of India on Friday said a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.
  • The commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  • The commission, led by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, said “cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.”
  • A unified nation does not necessarily need to have “uniformity.” Efforts have to be made to reconcile our diversity with universal and indisputable arguments on human rights, the commission said.
  • Difference does not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy, the government’s topmost law advisory body said.
  • The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference.
  • This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority, the commission said.
  • At the same time, it said, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.

Codify all personal laws

  • It said the way forward may not be UCC, but the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution.
  • “By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritise equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code, which would discourage many from using the law altogether, given that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially,” the commission reasoned.
  • It suggested certain measures in marriage and divorce which should be uniformly accepted in the personal laws of all religions.
  • These amendments in personal laws include fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years so that they marry as equals, making adultery a ground for divorce for men and women and to simplify divorce procedure.
  • The commission said the filing of Section 498A IPC (dowry harassment) cases is actually done by women wanting a quick exit from a difficult marriage.

A criminal offence

  • It suggested that nikahnamas make it clear that polygamy is a criminal offence and this should apply to “all communities.”
  • This is not recommended owing to merely a moral position on bigamy, or to glorify monogamy, but emanates from the fact that only a man is permitted multiple wives, which is unfair,” the commission explained.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps

About Census

  • A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture, business, and traffic censuses.
  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, As of 2011.
  • While it has been conducted every 10 years, beginning in 1872, the first complete census was taken in the year 1881.
  • Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
  • All the census since 1951 are conducted under 1948 Census of India Act. The last census was held in 2011 and next census will be held in 2021.

  • Census 2021 will for the first time collect data on Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Centre said.
  • The decennial exercise will involve 25 lakh trained enumerators and the use of “maps/geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration,” a statement issued by the Home Ministry said.
  • A senior Minister said the decision to count the OBCs in the next Census was to get a correct perspective on the social status in the country.
  • The 2011 caste data collected as part of the Socio-economic Caste Census (SECC) is yet to be released by the Centre. The National Commission for Backward Classes says there are 2,479 entries on the Central list of the OBCs.
  • The 2011 Census collected information in 29 categories that included a separate column for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes. A senior Home Ministry official said the OBCs would be an option in the column in 2021.
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the functioning of the Office of the Registrar-General and the Census Commissioner on Friday.
  • It was emphasised that improvements in design and technological interventions be made so as to ensure that the Census data is finalised within three years after conducting of Census. At present it takes seven or eight years to release the complete data.
  • The enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020 and the headcount will begin from February 2021.
  • It was also informed that nearly 25 lakh enumerators are trained and engaged for the gigantic exercise and accurate collection of data will be ensured in Census 2021.
  • The Home Minister also emphasised the need for improvement in the Civil Registration System, especially on registration of birth and death in remote areas, and strengthening sample registration system for estimating the data namely, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and fertility rates,” the statement said.

Ad-hoc basis

  • The Census Organisation was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census till the 1951 Census when the Census Act was enacted in 1948 to provide for the scheme of conducting population census with duties and responsibilities of census officers.
  • As per the 2011 Census, the country’s population stood at 1.21 billion, almost equal to the combined population of the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan put together [1214.3 million].
  • Earlier, the Home Ministry issued notification that the data collected during 2021 Census would be stored electronically, also a first.
  • Presently, the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households was being stored in a physical form at government’s storehouse in Delhi.
  • It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, occupation, etc, are sorted from and published.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Root out terror: BIMSTEC

About BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC includes countries of the Bay of Bengal region and seeks to act as a bridge between South and Southeast Asia.
  • Originally formed as BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation) in 1997, it became BIMST-EC when Myanmar joined, and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) in 2004 with the inclusion of Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Around 22% of the world’s population live in the seven countries around the Bay of Bengal, with a combined GDP close to $2.7 trillion.

In news

  • Describing terrorism as a “great threat” to international peace and security, India and six other BIMSTEC nations called for identifying and holding accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and falsely extol their virtues.
  • The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The Kathmandu Declaration issued at the end of the two-day fourth BIMSTEC summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deplored terror attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and stressed that there could be no justification for any act of terrorism.

Great threat

  • Terrorism and transnational organised crimes continue to pose a great threat to international peace and security including in the BIMSTEC countries.
  • The unanimously adopted declaration said the fight against terrorism should target not only terrorists, terror organisations and networks but also identify and hold accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues.
  • The declaration did not name any specific country, but Pakistan is often accused by its neighbours, including India, of providing safe havens to terrorists.
  • The declaration underlined the importance of multidimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in the region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity.
  • An MoU was signed on establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection. The MoU provides for optimisation of using energy resources in the region & promotion of efficient & secure operation of power system.

2. SAARC meet to allow India-Pak. interface

About SAARC

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia.
  • Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2015.
  • SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration.
  • It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.

In news

  • The first face-to-face engagement between the new Pakistani government and India could come later this month when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attend the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) Council of Ministers’ meeting in New York, officials in Delhi and Islamabad confirmed.
  • However, they said there were no plans “so far” for a one-on-one meeting between the two Ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which begins on September 25.
  • The SAARC meeting, which will most likely include a lunch attended by the Foreign Ministers of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, is scheduled for September 27.
  • Swaraj is slotted to address the UNGA on September 29, as will her Pakistani counterpart.
  • The informal Council of Minister’s meeting was also held last year on the sidelines of the UNGA, and is expected to be chaired by Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, and organised by Pakistani diplomat Amjad Sial, who is the SAARC Secretary-General.
  • Sources confirmed to The Hindu that preparations for the informal meeting of Ministers of the grouping are being made by the SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu.
  • External Affairs Ministry sources confirmed the meeting would be attended by Ms. Swaraj “as in previous years”, as did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Islamabad, who also said several unspecified steps may be taken by the two countries.
  • “In the wake of recent overtures by both Pakistan and India to lessen the ever-widening gulf between the two neighbours, some future steps are under consideration. I will share details with you, in due course,” spokesperson Mohammad Faisal told presspersons on Thursday.
  • In the past month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan to congratulate him on his win and followed the call with a letter calling for “constructive and meaningful engagement with Pakistan.”
  • In his speeches Mr. Khan has promised to meet every step India takes with “two steps” from Pakistan, and Islamabad sent a Ministerial team to Delhi to attend former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s funeral.
  • Despite the “overtures”, there has been little movement in scheduling the SAARC summit due to be held in Pakistan, after it was called off in 2016 following the Uri attack.
  • Nepal, which hosted the last SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November 2014, has been keen to pass on its chairmanship of the regional grouping, which it can only do once India and other members agree to attend the summit in Islamabad.
  • Inaugurating the BIMSTEC summit on Thursday, Mr. Oli reiterated that the newly revived BIMSTEC grouping would not replace the SAARC group.
  • “Nepal stands for meaningful regional cooperation. We believe that SAARC and BIMSTEC do not substitute but complement each other,” Mr. Oli said.

3. U.S. to stop funding UN’s Palestine agency

About UN Palestine Agency: UNRWA

  • Created in December 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, and their descendants.
  • It supports those who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war as well as those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six Day war.
  • Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports.
  • Aid is provided in five areas of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas is provided by UNHCR.

In news

  • The U.S. government has decided to stop all funding it gives to a UN agency that provides assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees, ending a decades-long policy of supporting it, according to a former senior U.S. aid official.
  • The move was pushed hardest by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser on West Asia, as part of a plan to compel Palestinian politicians to drop demands that many of those refugees be given the right to return to what they call their homeland.
  • Each year, the State Department transfers money by the end of September to the UN Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees across the West Asian region.
  • Earlier this year, the State Department released $60 million of the $350 million allocated for the agency, but Mr. Kushner and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, have decided not to give the remaining $290 million.

4. EU to scrap time change rule

About EU

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • It has an area of 4,475,757 km and an estimated population of over 510 million.
  • The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters (only) where members have agreed to act as one.
  • EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.
  • For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished.
  • A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

About Time Zones

  • A time zone is a region of the globe that observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social Time zones tend to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to keep the same time.
  • Most of the time zones on land are offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by a whole number of hours (UTC−12 to UTC+14), but a few zones are offset by 30 or 45 minutes (e.g. Newfoundland Standard Time is UTC−03:30, Nepal Standard Time is UTC+05:45, and Indian Standard Time is UTC+05:30).
  • Some higher latitude and temperate zone countries use daylight saving time for part of the year, typically by adjusting local clock time by an hour.
  • Many land time zones are skewed toward the west of the corresponding nautical time zones. This also creates a permanent daylight saving time effect.

In news

  • The European Union (EU) said on Friday that it would propose a legal change that would end the ritual of switching between summer and winter time, leaving it up to governments across the bloc to agree on whether to permanently use summer time or winter time.
  • The proposal comes after a survey found that 84% of 4.6 million citizens across the EU’s 28 member states opposed changing the clocks ahead in the summer or back in the winter.
  • In response, the EU’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Brussels would propose scrapping an EU law requiring member states to change their clocks. Millions believe that summertime should be all the time.
  • Since 1996, EU law has been moving clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March and back an hour on the final Sunday in October.
  • The proposal would drop that requirement, a spokesman said. He rebuffed suggestions that would lead to confusing variations in keeping time from one country to the next.
  • Critics of the clock change say it can cause long-term health problems, especially among young children and elderly people.
  • Supporters say making the switch to give extra morning daylight in winter and evening light in summer can help reduce traffic accidents and save energy.
  • Any change would need approval from national governments and European Parliament to become law — a process that can take up to two years.

5. Ramon Magsaysay award: ‘Asia’s Nobel’ celebrates social heroes

About the Ramon Magsaysay award

  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.
  • The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government.
  • The award is internationally-recognized as Asia’s Nobel Prize counterpart and is the highest award given to Asian individuals and organizations.

In news

  • Two Indians, Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk, received the Ramon Magsaysay award, popularly known as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Cambodian activist Youk Chhang, Filipino Howard Dee, Vietnam’s Vo Thi Hoang Yen and East Timor’s Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz were also honoured for their work at a ceremony in Manila.

  • All of them have worked for the poor or those who have suffered violence. All are unafraid to take on large causes. All have refused to give up despite meagre resources, daunting adversity and strong opposition.
  • Vatwani has dedicated his life to rescuing mentally ill people from the streets and providing them with shelter and treatment through his Shraddha Rehabilitaion Foundation.
  • Since 1988, Mr. Vatwani has helped around 7,000 mental patients, reuniting many of them with their families.
  • Wangchuk has been recognised for his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote northern India, thus improving the life opportunities of Ladakhi youth, and his constructive engagement of all sectors in local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress.
  • Chhang survived the large-scale violence and oppression of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and returned to his country after living in exile to head the Documentation Center, which has gathered evidence about the regime’s crimes against humanity.
  • Dee, the former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican and Malta, as well as a former negotiator with the communist rebels, was honoured for working for peace.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. GDP grows 8.2% in April-June

 

About GDP

  • GDP is the total value of everything produced by all the people and companies in the country.
  • If they are located within the country’s boundaries, the government counts their production as GDP.  The only exception is the shadow or black economy.
  • Gross domestic (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a period (quarterly or yearly) of time. 
  • Nominal GDP estimates are commonly used to determine the economic performance of a whole country or region, and to make international comparisons.

Gross Value Added (GVA) Vs. GDP

  • Gross value added (GVA) is defined as the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption.
  • Value added represents the contribution of labour and capital to the production process.
  • When the value of taxes on products (less subsidies on products) is added, the sum of value added for all resident units gives the value of gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Thus, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any nation represents the sum total of gross value added (GVA) (i.e, without discounting for capital consumption or depreciation) in all the sectors of that economy during the said year after adjusting for taxes and subsidies. 

In news

Manufacturing, construction lead robust revival

  • The Indian economy grew 8.2% — the highest in two years — in the April-June quarter, driven by robust growth in the manufacturing, construction and farm sectors. The figures raised hopes of a higher than estimated annual growth of 7.5%.
  • The pace of growth was the highest since the 9.3% rise reported for the January-March quarter of 2016. The latest figures, however, come on a lower base of 5.6% growth in the first quarter of 2017-18.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted that achieving a growth rate of 8.2% in “an environment of global turmoil” represented the “potential of New India.”
  • The manufacturing sector grew 13.5% in the first quarter of 2018-19, as against a contraction of 1.8% a year earlier, while the construction sector grew 8.7% as compared to a growth of 1.8% in the first quarter of last year.
  • The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant (2011-12) prices in the first quarter of 2018-19 is estimated at Rs. 33.74 lakh crore as against Rs. 31.18 lakh crore in Q1 of 2017-18, the Central Statistics Office said in a statement.
  • Despite an uncertain international environment and volatile crude oil prices, India’s sustained growth reflects its strong resilience to adverse global conditions, because of strong economic fundamentals.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India and the U.S. — it’s complicated

Context:

The first round of India- U.S. 2+2 talks at the level of External Affairs Ministers and Defence Ministers of both the countries was scheduled on the 6th of September but has been postponed by the US, citing unavoidable reasons.

What is 2+2 Dialogue?

It is a dialogue mechanism that would include defence and foreign ministers of the two countries. It is similar to India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries and ministers of the two countries. It replaces earlier India -Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries and ministers of the two countries. It replaces earlier India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

Significance of “2+2” Dialogue 

  • The objective of this dialogue mechanism is to raise defence and security issues to the forefront and centre of the relationship between India and the U.S.
  • It is aimed at enhancing peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by elevating strategic consultations in the dialogue.
  • The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
  • The U.S. has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

India US Relations:

  • It is a significant development but one that appears perfectly logical when seen against the two-decade-old trend line of India-U.S. relations.
  • The trend line has not been smooth but the trajectory definitively reflects a growing strategic engagement.
  • From estranged democracies, India and U.S. can worst be described today as prickly partners.

Strategic convergence:

Three factors have contributed to the emerging strategic convergence.

  1. The end of the Cold War provided an opportunity to both countries to review their relationship in the light of changing global and regional realities.
  2. With the opening of the Indian economy, the American private sector began to look at India with greater interest. U.S. foreign direct investment in India is more than $20 billion, Indian companies too have invested $15 billion in the U.S., reflecting a sustained mutual interest.
  3. The political coming of age of the three-million-strong Indian diaspora. Its influence can be seen in the bipartisan composition of the India Caucus in the U.S. Congress and the Senate Friends of India group.

Nature of India-US Engagement:

  • The US wants to team up with India to contain China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • However, engagement of India-US has not been smooth sailing. The U.S. is used to dealing with allies, invariably junior partners in a U.S.-dominated alliance structure and adversaries. India is neither, and is also determined to safeguard its strategic autonomy. Developing a habit of talking to each other as equal partners has been a learning experience for India and the U.S.
  • Both countries also consider themselves to be ‘exceptional’, the U.S. as among the oldest democracies and India as the largest!
  • Indians become cautious of the U.S.’s attempts to drive unequal bargains and Americans find the Indian approach rigid and sanctimonious.
  • Despite this, significant progress has been registered over the years resulting in the 60-plus bilateral dialogues, to which the 2+2 is now being added.

Growing defence cooperation:

  • Two parallel tracks of dialogue began in the 1990s.
  • The strategic dialogue covering nuclear issues shifted gears following the nuclear tests of 1998 and imposition of sanctions by the U.S.
  • India-U.S. concluded a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2008.
  • The defence dialogue began in 1995 with the setting up of the Defence Policy Group at the level of the Defence Secretary and his Pentagon counterpart and three Steering Groups to develop exchanges between the Services.
  • A decade later, this was formalised and enlarged into the India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement which was renewed for 10 years in 2015.
  • Today, the U.S. is the country with which India undertakes the largest number of military exercises which have gradually evolved in scale and complexity.
  • During the Cold War, more than three-fourths of India’s defence equipment was of Soviet origin. This gradually began to change, and in recent years, the U.S. and Israel emerged as major suppliers.
    • The Indian Air Force went in for C-130J Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster aircraft, along with Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters.
    • The Indian Navy acquired a troop carrier ship and the P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
    • An agreement for 24 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy is expected soon.
    • The Indian Army went in for the M-777 howitzers and artillery radars.
  • From a total of less than $400 million of defence acquisitions during 1947-2005, the U.S. has signed defence contracts of over $15 billion since.
  • Pathfinder projects have been identified under this Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTII).
  • To get around export control licensing and other bureaucratic hurdles, an India Rapid Reaction Cell in the Pentagon was set up. In 2016, India was designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ country.
  • Another step forward in the middle of this year was the inclusion of India in the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) category, putting it on a par with allies in terms of technology access. This should enable the DTII to graduate to more ambitious projects.

Obligations and challenges

  • Acquiring U.S. high technology comes with its own set of obligations in terms of ensuring its security. These take the form of various undertakings often described as foundational agreements. The first of these was GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) which India signed in 2002.
  • The other three related to logistics support, communications compatibility and security, and exchanges of geospatial information.
  • The U.S. proposed its standard logistics support agreement text in 2003 which was finally concluded in 2016, after it was made into an India-specific text.It facilitates logistics supplies during port visits and joint exercises and does not contain any obligations for joint activity or any basing arrangements.
  • Realising Indian reservations, the U.S. was more flexible, and now the India-specific Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is likely to be signed.
    • It makes it possible to install high-end secure communication equipment on U.S. platforms that we have been acquiring.
    • With the possibility of acquiring armed Sea Guardian drones, COMCASA was necessary to ensure optimal use.

What opportunities does 2+2 dialogue offer?

Two difficult issues loom large and the 2+2 offers an opportunity for addressing these:

  1. CAATSA
  • India’s proposed purchase of the S-400 missile defence system would attract CAATSA sanctions.
  • Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) enacted last year which enables the U.S. government to sanction countries that engage in ‘significant transactions’ with Russian military and intelligence entities.
  • A waiver provision has now been introduced to cover India, Indonesia and Vietnam. It requires certification by the U.S. that the country concerned is gradually reducing its dependency on Russian equipment and cooperating with the U.S. on critical security issues.
  • Indian concerns on this need to be addressed.

 

  1. About Chabahar
  • The U.S. sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal is another concern that needs to be addressed.
  • Iranian crude imports have grown significantly in recent years and India also stepped up its involvement in developing Chabahar port.
  • The port provides connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act (2012) contains a waiver provision in case of activities for reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan, which is a U.S. priority too.

Way forward:

  • Creative thinking will be needed in the 2+2 dialogue to overcome these challenges.
  • It should be ensured that there are no nasty surprises and difficult issues are settled through quiet diplomacy.
  • In order to realise the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region (2015), and contain China’s growing dominance in the region, both countries will have to nurture the habit of talking and working together.

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands development Story: Good or bad?

Holistic Development of Islands & Investors Conference

  • It will involve development of eco-tourism hubs with active participation of private developers in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands undersuitable risk-sharing model and through open-competitive bidding
  • NITI Aayog has been mandated to steer the Holistic Development of Islands program, along with the respective UT administration/ State Governments
  • It is a vision for developing India’s maritime economy while preserving the natural eco-system and addressing the security concerns
  • Emphasis is laid upon the need for sustainable development of Islands with people’s participation.
  • The projects on four islands — Long, Neil, Smith and Aves — are being undertaken as per decisions of the Islands Development Agency (IDA)

The developmental Story includes

  • Development of 220 rooms Premium Island Resort in 42 hectares land at Long Island, 50 beach tents in 2.75 hectares land at Aves Island, 70 premium tents & tree houses in 25 hectares land at Smith Island and 120 rooms premium beach resort in 9.75 hectares land at Bharatpur, Neil Island.
  • Setting up of infrastructure for power, water, floating jetty, adventure sports, banqueting and conferences.
  • Air strips, jetty, helipads, Roll On/Roll Off (RORO) ferry and roads works.

Merits:

  • It provides economic and livelihood opportunities.
  • The islands will be developed as world-class tourism destination
  • It will provide world class and sustainable tourism infrastructure with low environmental impact and provision for socio-economic involvement of local population

Issues:

  • How would the ecological and cultural sensitivity be ensured?
  • Does a capacity really exist to ensure the safeguards when the scale and the ambition is so large?
  • How much will it really benefit the local people and the local economy?
  • An island set-up that is promising everything from air strips and floating jetties to premium resorts, not to mention ecological sensitivity, global bench marking and overall socio-economic development, is unable to ensure that the local community has a safe and reliable ship to travel on, in an island system where shipping is the lifeline. If such a basic and critical element cannot be ensured, what is the guarantee that the grand plans and promises will not meet the same fate?

Way forward:

  • What is required is addressing key issues and that involves providing transport facility to people of this region.
  • This involves the safe shipping which is one of the most important means of travel
  • With earlier cases of disaster the imperative part on the government would be to provide basic infrastructural development that means providing safe and effective means of travelling which is the lifeline of the local community so that any disaster due to ships are avoided.

Category: POLITY

1. The sedition debate

Context:

The Law Commission has said that a person should not be charged with sedition for “merely expressing a thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the Government of the day”.

It has said that the stringent sedition law should be invoked only in cases “where intention” behind the act is to “disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means”.

What is Section 124 A:

  • Sedition in India is defined by section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Section 124A was introduced by the British colonial government in 1870 when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with radical Wahabi movement of the 19thcentury, led by Syed Ahmed Barelvi and centred around Patna.

Section 124 A of IPC says, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

Issue:

  • It is argued that along with colonial laws like criminal defamation, laws on obscenity and blasphemy, the sedition law also runs against the ideal of Freedom of Expression, guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian constitution. 
  • There have been repeated instances of its misuse.
  • Regimes at the Centre and the States have often been shown in poor light after they invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists.
  • Since Independence, many have seen the irony of retaining a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle.
  • Despite all this, Section 124-A has survived all attempts by successive generations to reconsider it, if not repeal it altogether.
  • How far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle, when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?

Details:

  • The Law Commission, for the third time in five decades, is now in the process of revisiting the section.
  • The consultation paper calls for a thorough reconsideration and presents the various issues related to it before the public for a national debate.
  • In an earlier report in 1968, the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section.
  • In 1971, the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which ‘disaffection’ should not be tolerated.
  • The only dilution it mooted was to modify the wide gap between the two jail terms prescribed in the section (either three years or life) and fix the maximum sanction at seven years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine.

What are the objections to the provision?

  • Its definition remains too wide. ‘Overbroad’ definitions typically cover both what is harmless and what is offensive.
  • Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence.
  • The core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court — that the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence — has been forgotten.

Way forward:

  • As long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief.
  • Currently the section is slapped against any discording entity, without any fairness. It is this grey area, which needs to be corrected. 
  • The government has to follow the Supreme Court order that “the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence has been forgotten” in letter and spirit.
  • It can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition, but the far better course is to do away with it altogether.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Constitution of India provides for a Uniform Civil Code as a fundamental duty.

  2. Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India proposes to replace the personal laws  based on religion and customs with a set of common laws.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The first complete census in India was taken in the year 1881.

  2. The census has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia.
  2. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency which supports registered Palestinian refugees, and their descendants.

  2. Under UNRWA Aid is provided in five areas of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Despite an uncertain international environment and volatile crude oil prices, India’s sustained growth reflects its strong resilience to adverse global conditions, because of strong economic fundamentals.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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