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November 2018

Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

[op-ed snap] Why Does India Refuse to Recognise Kosovo?


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Non-Aligned Movement

Mains level: India’s stance on Kosovo and similar cases in light of its domestic politics


India denies recognition to Kosovo endangering future hosting prospects

  1. India denied a visa to Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku to participate in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships
  2. After this, Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) President wrote to the Sports Minister and the Indian Olympic Association President, saying the visa denial “cast doubt” on India’s eligibility for hosting future international sporting events
  3. For its part, AIBA threatened that it would reconsider India as the host for 2021 AIBA Men’s Boxing Championships

History of Kosovo

  1. At one time, Kosovo had been the heart of the Serbian Empire, only to be lost to the Ottomans in 1398
  2. Centuries later, in 1912, Serbia regained control of Kosovo, and by 1946, Kosovo was absorbed into the Yugoslav federation
  3. Around the 1960s, Kosovo began to assert its autonomy, being a majority-Muslim province after centuries of Ottoman rule, in a majority-Christian federation
  4. The Yugoslav federation accepted this autonomy in the 1980s, giving Kosovo a ‘de facto self-government’
  5. But from 1998-99, Kosovo was the site of a bitter and deadly war that killed thousands, largely fought between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians
  6. In a conflict that spiralled into killings and revenge killings, NATO finally intervened against Yugoslavia, and the Kumanovo Agreement was reached in 1999 to end the war
  7. In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, in a move that was summarily rejected by the Serbian government

Adhering to its principles

  1. For India, this is about more than just Kosovo, a tiny European nation
  2. This is about a long- and tightly-held principle that India holds dear – that of sovereignty and respecting the territorial integrity
  3. India does not recognise Kosovo as an independent nation, despite it having declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008
  4. As one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement in the aftermath of World War II, India’s foreign policy follows these principles: Non-interference in other nation’s internal affairs and an expectation of non-interference in its own; mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; and peaceful coexistence

Such moves can backfire for India

  1. Kosovo can set a very dangerous precedent for similar cases around the world
  2. With a conflict-ridden Kashmir to the north, where cries of ‘azaadi’ are routinely heard, and a recurring Khalistani struggle, India is reluctant to lend weight to the notion that territories within a sovereign nation can secede at will
  3. Such an action would, India fears, open it up to legitimate charges of hypocrisy – ‘If you will accept the right of self-determination of xyz country, why not of your own Kashmiris/Khalistanis?’

The Russia factor

  1. Another reason for not recognising Kosovo is India’s friendship with Russia
  2. India and Russia have long maintained a close relationship, through the Cold War to the present day
  3. For Russia, Serbia is the touchstone of its ambitions of a revived empire. For reasons similar to India’s, and because Serbia is essential to Russian interests in its region, Russia too has refused to recognise Kosovo’s independence
  4. For India, it doesn’t make sense to rub a trusted ally the wrong way in order to recognise the secession of a much smaller and less important player

What could have India done to avoid controversy?

  1. India does not yet have a good enough reason to sideline its long-standing foreign policy principles on which it bases its interactions with other countries
  2. India didn’t need to sacrifice hosting all future international competitions
  3. We should (like China) have just given the boxer a visa on a piece of paper stapled to her passport

Original Article: Why Does India Refuse to Recognise Kosovo?

Way forward taken from Mr Shashi Tharoor’s (M.P.) Tweet regarding this issue

Judicial Reforms

[op-ed snap] Gender of justice


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The need for gender sensitisation in judiciary


Sexist notions in the judiciary

  1. Conservative and progressive elements tend to coincide in judicial discourse
  2. The Supreme Court has recently passed certain key judgments to safeguard the rights of women
  3. It abolished triple talaq, upheld women’s autonomy, while declaring the law on adultery unconstitutional, and ruled that the bar on women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple is illegal
  4. But the judiciary has also been a purveyor of sexist notions — at times, perhaps inadvertently. Victim-blaming by the courts lends credence to certain stereotypes, and such responses go on to influence the entire criminal justice system

Analysis of rape cases

  1. In a study conducted by researchers of the National Law University, Delhi, 50 rape case judgments of the Supreme Court were analysed to understand how the court tends to perpetuate gendered opinions
  2. The researchers also tried to understand if the court evaluates victims in a stereotypical manner
  3. These include how a rape survivor would or ought to react, what a perpetrator would do after the rape and whether a sexually active victim would make a false rape accusation
  4. It was observed that judges often have a stereotypical image of a rape victim
  5. The researchers found that the judges betrayed sexist notions of gender roles, showed a tendency to use insensitive language and made comments that undermined the seriousness of the incident
  6. Certain judgments did have sensitive comments that broke gender stereotypes and rape myths. However, such verdicts were very few

Findings of the study

The study came out with four significant findings

  1. First, was a sharp increase in gender insensitive comments in cases where the woman was sexually active. Sexist comments were made in 52.3 per cent of the cases which involved a sexually-active victim
  2. Second, the presence of a female judge on the bench led to a sharp decline in sexist comments. There was no female judge in 44.4 per cent of the cases where the bench made a sexist comment. But only 14.2 percent of the benches with a female judge made a sexist comment
  3. Third, the conviction was overturned in 80 per cent of the cases in which the bench made gender insensitive comments
  4. Fourth, gender insensitive comments have declined with significant amendments in law. While all the cases studied prior to 2003 had gender insensitive comments, only 15.1 per cent of the judgments after the 2013 criminal law amendment carried such comments

Way forward

  1. Rape victims are subjected to institutional sexism that begins with their treatment by the police, continues through a male-dominated judiciary influenced by notions of victim blaming and ends in the acquittal of many alleged rapists
  2. The solution lies in initiating conversations amongst those who are entrusted with setting the tone of public discourse
  3. Gender sensitisation of the judiciary and appointing more female judges is imperative

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[op-ed snap] Further stressed by thermal power


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)

Mains level: India’s projected energy demand and how it will affect the water availability


Water crisis in India highlighted by CWMI

  1. The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayog, which was released this June, shows that 600 million people face high to extreme water stress in India
  2. The report, which was published in association with the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Rural Development, places India at a dismal 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index
  3. It predicts that a persistent water crisis will lead to an eventual 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030

Gap between demand and supply

  1. A significant key to this stress is the vast gulf — of about 1498 billion cubic metres (BCM) versus 744 BCM — that has been predicted between the demand and supply of fresh water, by 2030
  2. In the projections that the Central Water Commission (CWC) released in 2015, the sector-wise requirement of water (that is, for drinking and domestic use, industry and energy) will rise steeply between 2030 and 2050
  3. This mounting rise in demand is starkly evident in the energy sector, which is key to India’s ambitious developmental plan
  4. The share of water consumed by this sector was 0.62% in 2010, which is pegged to rise up to 1.37% in 2030 and 8.98% in 2050
  5. The projected water demand of the energy sector makes it an important point for the NITI Aayog to consider while bringing out future iterations of the CWMI
  6. As the power sector consumes more water, competition between power and the other thirsty players is only likely to increase — a factor that future editions of the CWMI will have to consider

Water demand of the energy sector

  1. As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), March 2018, thermal electricity accounts for more than 86% of India’s total power generation
  2. The analysis shows that 77% of India’s total electricity comes from thermal power plants that are dependent on freshwater sources
  3. Of all the freshwater-cooled thermal plants, 38.9% of generation capacity is installed in areas with high or extremely high water-stress
  4. By 2030, more than 70% of India’s existing thermal power utilities are likely to experience an increased level of water competition from agricultural, urban, and other industrial demands

Need of measuring water consumption data of energy sector

  1. The CWMI also raises three main issues related to data: limited coverage, unreliable data and limited coordination and sharing
  2. It can easily be tackled by using the existing CEA reporting mechanism for the daily generation. To do so, daily water withdrawal and consumption reporting should be mandated
  3. These can be measured with existing technology and added to this reporting framework
  4. In addition, information about water stress, power plant siting (location) and so on must be shared seamlessly across departments — a service that the CWMI could perform
  5. Such information will also help in the implementation of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Notification (dated December 7, 2015), which mandates specific water consumption norms for existing and new thermal power plants

Way forward

  1. Factoring in the water-energy nexus linkages, especially the metrics around power plant water withdrawal and consumption, will only help make the Index better and the States better prepared to manage their water and power resources

President’s Rule

J&K all set for President’s rule


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Governor’s rule in J&K

Mains level: Salient Features of Presidents Rule


Governor’s rule to expire

  1. Jammu and Kashmir is all set for President’s rule in January as there were no plans to dissolve the Assembly yet.
  2. Since J&K has a separate Constitution, Governor’s rule is imposed under Section 92 for six months after an approval by the President.
  3. In case the Assembly is not dissolved within six months, President’s rule under Article 356 is extended to the State.

Centre has to decide

  1. There are no plans to dissolve the Assembly yet.
  2. The decision to hold fresh Assembly elections in the State lies with the Centre and the Election Commission.


Governor’s rule in J&K

  1. In all states of India, the state government’s failure results in President’s rule.
  2. The process is slightly more nuanced in Jammu and Kashmir where not the President’s but Governor’s rule is imposed.
  3. The Constitution of India grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir among Indian states, and it is the only state in India to have a separate Constitution and regulations specific to it.
  4. Under the provision of Section 92 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, Governor’s rule is imposed for six months, but only after the consent of the President of India.
  5. The President’s rule in other states of India is imposed under Article 356 of the Constitution of India.
  6. Under the Governor’s rule, the State Assembly is either kept in suspended animation or dissolved.
  7. If it is not possible to restore the state machinery before the expiry of the six-month period, the provision is extended.
  8. The Governor’s rule was imposed on the state for the first time in March 1977, when the Congress withdrew support to National Conference (NC) government led by the late Sheikh Abdullah.
  9. Among notable differences with other states, till 1965, the head of state in Jammu and Kashmir was called Sadr-e-Riyasat, whereas in other state, the title was Governor, and head of government was called Prime Minister in place of Chief Minister in other states.

Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

India steps up agro-diplomacy with China

Image result for india china trade deficit


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level:  Indian measures to counter trade imbalances with China


China opens up to non-US Imports

  1. As the trade war with the US continues to grow, China appears to be opening up to non-U.S. imports.
  2. Sensing that China would look first at its food security by diversifying imports in view of the trade war, New Delhi has stepped up its agro-diplomacy with Beijing.
  3. The focus so far has been on pushing agri-products into the Chinese market.
  4. Over the past two months, Indian food and beverage producers have been conducting seminars and road shows in the Chinese capital.

Chinese Agri-imports likely to grow from India

Soya bean

  • Indian soya bean exports are apparently a priority, especially after the China imposed a 25% levy on U.S. imports.
  • Success in the huge Chinese soya bean market is yet to materialize, though some progress may have registered during talks.


  • Recently an Indian Company signed a $1-million black tea export contract with Chinese state-owned COFCO.
  • China has been traditionally a green tea market. Assam tea, in particular, has good prospects in China as it blends well with milk-based tea drinks.
  • But of late, its young people are developing a taste for milk infused bubble tea, potentially opening a larger market for Indian black teas.


  • India’s efforts to export sugar to China, which began in earnest in June, also appear to have paid dividends.
  • The Indian Sugar Mills Association had signed its first sugar export contract of 50,000 tonnes with COFCO
  • The Chinese Sugar Association was recently briefed about India’s proven capacity to meet China’s sugar needs over the long haul.


  • China is a lucrative $1.5-$2 billion market for Indian rice.
  • Recently China has opened up imports of non-Basmati rice from India in June on the sidelines of the Qingdao summit of the SCO.

Hurdles to Trade Balance

  1. Despite signs of incremental progress, India’s $63-billion trade imbalance with China is alarming.
  2. India had raised the red flag about its adverse trade balance during China’s trade policy review at the WTO.
  3. It specifically cited hindrances that Indian exporters of rice, meat, pharmaceuticals and IT products were encountering to access the Chinese market.

Way Forward

  1. It’s a matter to be considered that pharmaceuticals, information technology services and tourism, in which India has a significant global footprint, had a minuscule presence in China.
  2. There are some positive developments as well in this regard. But we want that to be reflected in concrete trade figures.
  3. Then only we can conclude that there has been a turnaround in our commercial ties with China.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about GROWTH India Telescope, Supernovae

Mains level: Utility of the Telescope


  • The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion.

GROWTH-India Telescope

  1. The GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which it saw first light, on the night of June 12.
  2. It is part of a multi-country collaborative initiative – known as the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) – to observe transient events in the universe.
  3. The fully robotic telescope is designed to capture cosmic events occurring over relatively shorter periods of the cosmological timescale: years, days and even hours.
  4. Universities and research institutes from the US, the UK, Japan, India, Germany, Taiwan and Israel are part of the initiative.
  5. Their primary research objective is time-domain astronomy, which entails the study of explosive transients and variable sources (of light and other radiation) in the universe.


  • The telescope is potentially fully robotic and can operate on its own, but the way these readings were taken has only partly used its potential for automation.
  • The group sitting in IIT Bombay worked through Bengaluru’s IIAP to control the telescope.
  • While the IITB-IIAP link was through regular internet connection, the one from IIAP to the telescope in Ladakh was through a satellite link.
  • A typical professional telescope has a field of about 0.1 square degrees. This telescope has a field that is five to six times larger.
  • It can ‘slew’ or move its focus from one part of the sky to another in just about 10-15 seconds and its camera can view stellar objects that are thousands to millions of light years away.

Threefold goals

  1. The GROWTH-India telescope is part of the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
  2. Its goals are threefold:
  • Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger
  • Study nearby young supernova explosions
  • Study nearby asteroids.

Nova Observation

  1. The telescope has been taking readings since then, and this is the first ‘follow-up’ work.
  2. The celestial object was first noticed by a different group which saw the nova explosion.
  3. Though a small step in astronomy but it is a big leap, because it is the first scientific result obtained by this telescope.

Details of the Nova

  1. Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to temporary increase in brightness of the star.
  2. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion.
  3. This recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018.
  4. Transient phenomena such as supernovae are important parts of time-domain astronomy which is a less-explored frontier in astronomy.
  5. Such an explosion is when the inner material of the star is thrown out. There is no other way we can actually see what is inside a star.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

IIT devises program to maximize LPG Connections


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Decision Support System (DSS)

Mains level: Effective implementation of govt. schemes


  • IIT Kharagpur researchers have devised a decision support system to help maximize the LPG connections in BPL (below poverty line) households.
  • It is a first of its kind for analysis of a national level energy policy, it said.

Decision Support System (DSS)

  1. A DSS is a computer programme that helps in making sound rational decisions using mathematical programming and operation research techniques.
  2. The DSS devised at the IIT uses mixed integer linear programming to mathematically formulate the policy using input parameters, decision variables and their relationships.
  3. The mathematical model has found the optimum number of total (BPL) connections required in a region, number of dealerships that need to be commissioned in a region over the policy time frame.
  4. The research has done sensitivity analysis with the mathematical model — change in a decision variable with respect to the change in parameter.

Benefits of the DSS

  1. With this, they can predict not only how the number of household connections can be increased but also the critical region that contributes most in each zone of LPG distribution.
  2. The DSS for such policies can provide the exact values of important parameters over the prescribed policy time period.
  3. This in turn will help researchers to take important measures to ascertain the proper functioning (monitoring) of the policy towards the desired goal.
  4. This kind of DSS can be developed for various federal and state level policies for various commodities like solar panels distributions, agricultural commodities and so on.

Findings of the DSS

  1. The government has recently revised the target to eight crore LPG connections by 2020.
  2. Certain areas though have been well covered, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
  3. The government needs to pay special attention to regions critical to LPG penetration, such as Assam in the Northeastern zone, in order to achieve 100 per cent BPL household penetration.

Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[pib] National Integration Week


Mains Paper 2: Indian Society| Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Integration Week

Mains level:  Govt initiatives promoting Communal Harmony in India


  • With a view to foster and reinforce the spirit of Communal Harmony, National Integration and pride in vibrant, composite culture and nationhood, the “Qaumi Ekta Week” is observed all over the country.

National Integration Week

  1. The observation of the week is aimed to highlight the inherent strength and resilience of our nation to withstand actual and potential threats to the secular fabric of our country.
  2. This occasion provides an opportunity to reaffirm age old traditions and faith in the values of tolerance, co-existence and brotherhood in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
  3. The week long programmes to be observed during Qaumi Ekta Week will be as under:
  • November 19: National Integration Day- To emphasize the themes of secularism, anti-communalism and non-violence.
  • November 20: Welfare of Minorities Day- In riot prone towns, special fraternal processions are taken out.
  • November 21: Linguistic Harmony Day- Programmes like Special literary functions and Kavi Sammelan.
  • November 22: Weaker Sections Day- Highlighting various Govt Schemes which help SCs/STs with particular emphasis on the distribution of surplus land to landless labourers.
  • November 23: Cultural Unity Day- Cultural functions to showcase the Indian tradition of unity in diversity
  • November 24: Women’s Day
  • November 25: Conservation Day- To emphasise the growing need for awareness and action to conserve the environment.

About National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH)

  1. The NFCH is an autonomous organisation with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. It organizes Communal Harmony Campaign coinciding with the Qaumi Ekta Week and observes the Communal Harmony Flag Day on 25th
  3. It promotes Communal Harmony and strengthens National Integration.
  4. It also provides financial assistance for relief and rehabilitation of children rendered orphan or destitute in communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence.