May 2019
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[op-ed snap] The smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRC

Mains level : Citizenship on the basis of religion is not a good idea,


CONTEXT

The real aim of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is to segregate non-citizens on the basis of religion.

Background of NRC

  • At present, Assam is the only State in the country to have an NRC, which was compiled way back in 1951.
  • The process of updating the 1951 NRC in Assam has been on since 2015 under constant monitoring by the Supreme Court.
  • The complete draft of the updated NRC in Assam published on July 30, 2018 excluded the names of over 40 lakh of the total 3.29 crore applicants.
  • The Supreme Court has fixed July 31 for publication of the final NRC list after disposal of all claims and objections.

No definition of infiltrators

  • The ideological position of the ruling party is that undocumented immigrants belonging to Hindu and other religious minority groups in these three countries cannot be treated as “illegal migrants” in India and need to be granted citizenship, while the Muslims among them are “infiltrators” must be identified and driven out.
  • This is an attempt to manufacture consent of the people on the definition of “infiltrator” according to the ideological lexicon of the saffron party.

The problem of the cut-off date

  • If the cut-off date is going to be different from that taken for updating the NRC in Assam, what will be the legal status of those included in the updated register in Assam in the rest of the country, and vice versa?
  • The cut-off date for updating the NRC in Assam is March 24, 1971, which is also the cut-off date in the Assam Accord for implementation of the core clause, Clause 5, which calls for identification, deletion of names and expulsion of “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion.
  • Updating the NRC in Assam on the basis of this core clause led to a broad political consensus in the State that the updated register will be a critical document for implementing this clause and addressing the apprehension of the Assamese and other ethnic communities in the State of losing their linguistic, cultural and ethnic identities due to unabated migration from Bangladesh.
  • The Assam government recently informed the Supreme Court that it has submitted a ₹900 crore proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs for sanctioning 1,000 Foreigners Tribunals to decide the cases of those to be excluded from the final NRC list. The State has a hundred Foreigners Tribunals at present.

Conclusion

The smokescreen of an infiltrator-free India without explicitly defining an infiltrator will not be able hide the real threat posed to the country’s secular fabric. If the Bill is made into an Act, it poses the threat of abusing the NRC to divide people on religious lines. The country can ill afford such a divisive agenda.

 

Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] The cost of antimicrobial resistance

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AMR

Mains level : Steps to be taken to fightAntimicrobial Resistance in India.


CONTEXT

India must brace for the economic shocks from uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.

Background

  • Even though antimicrobial resistance is acknowledged by policymakers as a major health crisis, few have considered its economic impact.
  •  Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) – Now, a report from the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) puts the financial fall-out in perspective.
  • Titled “No Time to Wait: Securing The Future From Drug Resistant Infections”, it says in about three decades from now uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance will cause global economic shocks on the scale of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Findings of the report

  • High human and economic cost – With nearly 10 million people estimated to die annually from resistant infections by 2050, health-care costs and the cost of food production will spike, while income inequality will widen.
  • GDP loss and poverty widening – In the worst-case scenario, the world will lose 3.8% of its annual GDP by 2050, while 24 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030.
  • Nations must acknowledge this eventuality, the IACG says, and act to fight it.
  • For high- and mid-income nations, the price of prevention, at $2 per head a year, is extremely affordable.
  • For poorer countries, the price is higher but still modest compared to the costs of an antibiotic apocalypse.

India’s efforts to fight resistance

  • India first published almost nine years ago the broad contours of a plan to fight antimicrobial resistance.
  • The difficulty has been in implementing it, given the twin challenges of antibiotic overuse and underuse.
  • On the one hand, many Indians still die of diseases like sepsis and pneumonia because they don’t get the right drug at the right time.
  • On the other hand, a poorly regulated pharmaceutical industry means that antibiotics are freely available to those who can afford them.
  • The IACG report acknowledges these obstacles, and calls for efforts to overcome them.

Steps required

  • Phasing out critical human-use antibiotics in the animal husbandry sector – Some steps can be initiated right away, it says, such as phasing out critical human-use antibiotics in the animal husbandry sector, such as quinolones.
  • Multi-stakeholder approach -But these steps cannot be driven by regulation alone.A multi-stakeholder approach, involving private industry, philanthropic groups and citizen activists is needed.
  • Responsibility of Private pharmaceutical – Private pharmaceutical industries must take it upon themselves to distribute drugs in a responsible manner.
  • Responsibility of Philanthropic charities – Philanthropic charities must fund the development of new antibiotics, while citizen activists must drive awareness.
  • These stakeholders must appreciate that the only way to postpone resistance is through improved hygiene and vaccinations.

Conclusion

It is a formidable task as India still struggles with low immunisation rates and drinking water contamination. But it must consider the consequences of a failure.

While the 2008-09 financial crisis caused global hardships, its effects began to wear off by 2011. Once crucial antibiotics are lost to humankind, they may be lost for decades.

 

Antibiotics Resistance

[op-ed snap] Power shift

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lt. Governor

Mains level : Madras High Court Judgement will resolve power tussle in Puducherry.


CONTEXT

The Madras High Court verdict that the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry should not interfere in the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory is a serious setback to the incumbent Administrator, Kiran Bedi. She has been locked in a prolonged dispute over the extent of her powers with Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, who says she has been disregarding the elected regime and seeking to run the Union Territory on her own.

Verdict

1. Decisions are Binding on officials -The court has laid down that “the decision taken by the Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister is binding on the Secretaries and other officials.”

2. Inspired by Supreme Court –  Inspired by the Supreme Court’s appeal to constitutional morality and trust among high dignitaries, the High Court has also reminded the Centre and the Administrator that they should be true to the concept of democratic principles, lest the constitutional scheme based on democracy and republicanism be defeated.

3. L-G has no independent decision-making powers –

  • The judgment is based  in last year’s Constitution Bench decision on the conflict between the elected regime in the National Capital Territory (NCT) and its Lt.Governor.
  • The five-judge Bench had ruled that the L-G has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers, or refer to the President for a decision any matter on which there is a difference with the Ministry, but has no independent decision-making powers.
  • The High Court also says the Administrator is bound by the ‘aid and advice’ clause in matters over which the Assembly is competent to enact laws.
  • The L-G’s power to refer any matter to the President to resolve differences should not mean “every matter”, the court has cautioned.

Difference between Delhi and Puducherry

1. The difference in status – Justice R. Mahadevan, who delivered the Madras High Court judgment, is conscious of the difference in status between Delhi and Puducherry.

2. Constitutional and parliamentary Law – The Puducherry legislature is the creation of a parliamentary law, based on an enabling provision in Article 239A of the Constitution, whereas the NCT legislature has been created by the Constitution itself under Article 239AA.

3. NCT is sui generis – The Supreme Court had described the NCT as sui generis. At the same time, the NCT Assembly is limited in the extent of its legislative powers, as it is barred from dealing with the subjects of public order, police and land.

More Power to representative Government

  • However, looking at the Business Rules as well as other statutory provisions on Puducherry, the judge has sought to give greater credence to the concept of a representative government.
  • He has set aside two clarifications issued by the Centre in 2017 to the effect that the L-G enjoys more power than the Governor of a State and can act without aid and advice.
  • In view of the Constitution Bench judgment on Delhi, he has differed with another Madras High Court decision of 2018 in which the LG’s power to act irrespective of the Cabinet’s advice was upheld.

Conclusion

In the event that the latest judgment is taken up on appeal, a key question may be how far the decision of the five-judge Bench on the limits of the Delhi L-G’s powers would indeed apply to Puducherry.

Delhi Full Statehood Issue

UNSC designates Masood Azhar as global terrorist

Mains Paper 2 : Important International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC 1267

Mains level : Blacklisting of Azhar and its implications for India


News

Context

  • Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was listed as a designated terrorist by the UN Security Council 1267 Committee.
  • It would mean a travel ban, arms embargo and asset freeze on Azhar.
  • The listing is a victory for India in a decade-old diplomatic battle waged primarily by it and supported by its friends at the UNSC.

Paradigm shift by China

  • Since China had blocked it four times at the UNSC Resolution 1267 Sanctions committee, US felt that this would put China in an awkward position.
  • It would have to publicly defend the veto — and, in effect, a terrorist.

Image source: TOI

 

Speculating Chinese intentions

  • China’s decision appears to be a well-rounded exercise aimed at encouraging India to bond with Eurasia instead of the Indo-Pacific.
  • It has taken its “all weather” ally Pakistan on board before taking the decision.
  • China’s move followed Russia’s decision last month to honour Mr. Modi with ‘Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,’ –Russia’s highest civilian award, in the midst of the election campaign.
  • Both China and Russia want New Delhi to consolidate its ties with Eurasia on Mr. Modi’s watch, rather than allow India to drift further in the direction of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • India is already a member of the Eurasia-centred Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Again a bliss for Pakistan

  • Beijing had decided to announce listing after the Belt and Road Forum (BRF), so as not to embarrass visiting Pakistan PM Imran Khan, who was guest at the conclave.
  • Pakistan may not be averse to Azhar’s designation, as it could help avoid being “blacklisted” by the FATF.
  • Otherwise it could advance Islamabad’s economic isolation.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Explained: Cyclone Fani- an unusual storm

Mains Paper 1 : Geographical Features & Their Location |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cyclone Fani

Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India


News

Cyclone Fani

  • A powerful cyclonic storm named Fani (pronounced Foni) is headed towards the Odisha coast..
  • It is not just a severe cyclone but an “extremely severe cyclone”.
  • Expected to generate storms with wind speeds as high as 200 km per hour, it has the potential to cause widespread damage in Odisha and neighbouring states.
  • The last time such a powerful cyclonic storm had emerged in the Bay of Bengal at this time of the year, in 2008, it had killed more than 1.25 lakh people in Myanmar.
  • However India has impressively managed disasters caused by cyclones, most remarkably during Cyclone Phailin of 2013, which was even stronger than the approaching Fani.
  • Fani is, thus, unusual, and that is mainly because of the place it originated, very close to the Equator, and the long route it has taken to reach the landmass.

How are they formed?

  • Cyclones are formed over slightly warm ocean waters.
  • The temperature of the top layer of the sea, up to a depth of about 60 metres, need to be at least 28°C to support the formation of a cyclone.
  • This explains why the April-May and October-December periods are conducive for cyclones.
  • Then, the low level of air above the waters needs to have an ‘anticlockwise’ rotation (in the northern hemisphere; clockwise in the southern hemisphere).
  • During these periods, there is a ITCZ in the Bay of Bengal whose southern boundary experiences winds from west to east, while the northern boundary has winds flowing east to west.
  • This induces the anticlockwise rotation of air.
  • Once formed, cyclones in this area usually move northwest. As it travels over the sea, the cyclone gathers more moist air from the warm sea, and adds to its heft.

What strengthens them?

  • A thumb rule for cyclones is that the more time they spend over the seas, the stronger they become.
  • Hurricanes around the US, which originate in the vast open Pacific Ocean, are usually much stronger than the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, a relatively narrow and enclosed region.
  • The cyclones originating here, after hitting the landmass, decay rapidly due to friction and absence of moisture.

Cyclone Fani in Odisha: In situ origins

  • A big difference between the strengths of cyclones in April-May and October-December is that the former originate in situ in the Bay of Bengal itself, barely a few hundred kilometres from the landmass.
  • On the other hand, cyclones in October-December are usually remnants of cyclonic systems that emerge in the Pacific Ocean, but manage to come to the Bay of Bengal.
  • They are considerably weakened after crossing the southeast Asian landmass near the South China Sea.
  • These systems already have some energy, and gather momentum as they traverse over the Bay of Bengal.
  • April-May is not the season for typhoons in the west Pacific Ocean. Most of the typhoons in west Pacific in northern hemisphere form between June and November.
  • That is why almost all the cyclones in the Bay of Bengal in April-May period are in situ systems.

What’s unusual with Fani?

  • The in situ cyclonic systems in the Bay of Bengal usually originate around latitude 10°, in line with Chennai or Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Fani, on the other hand, originated quite close to the Equator, around latitude 2°, well below the Sri Lankan landmass.
  • The forecast landfall on the Odisha coast is at a latitude of almost 20°.
  • It has traversed a long way on the sea, thus gaining strength that is unusual for cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal in this season.
  • It was initially headed northwestwards, towards the Tamil Nadu coast, but changed course midway, and swerved northeast away from the coastline to reach Odisha.
  • If it had remained on its original course, and made a landfall over the Tamil Nadu coastline, Fani would only have been a normal cyclone, not the extremely severe cyclone it has now become.

Back2Basics

Tropical Cyclones in India

  • The eastern coast of India is no stranger to cyclones.
  • On an average, five to six significant cyclonic storms emerge in the Bay of Bengal region every year.
  • The months of April and May just before the start of the monsoon, and then October to December immediately after the end of the monsoon, are the prime seasons for tropical cyclones.
  • Cyclones emerging in April-May usually are much weaker than those during October-December.
  • There have been only 14 instances of a “severe cyclone” forming in the Bay of Bengal region in April since 1891, and only one of them, which formed in 1956, touched the Indian mainland.
  • The others all swerved northeast to hit Bangladesh, Myanmar or other countries in the southeast Asian region. Since 1990, there have been only four such cyclones in April.

Grading of Cyclones

  • Tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are graded according to maximum wind speeds at their centre.
  • At the lower end are depressions that generate wind speeds of 30 to 60 km per hour, followed by:
  1. cyclonic storms (61 to 88 kph)
  2. severe cyclonic storms (89 to 117 kph)
  3. very severe cyclonic storms (118 to 166 kph)
  4. extremely severe cyclonic storms (167 to 221 kph) and
  5. super cyclones (222 kph or higher)
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • A massive decline in the population of Kashmir’s iconic wildlife species, the Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu), also known as the Kashmir stag, continues to be a big concern.

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

  • Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir, is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.
  • The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.
  • The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
  • The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endangered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the MoEFCC.

Why is Hangul crucial?

  • From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades.
  • The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
  • It is the only Asiatic survivor or sub-species of the European red deer. But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
  • According to the latest survey in 2017, the population of Hangul is 182 in Dachigam and adjoining areas. Earlier population estimates suggest that there were 197 deer in 2004 and 186 in 2015.
  • The IUCN Red Data Book — which contains lists of species at risk of extinction — has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in J&K.
  • The other two are the Markhor — the world’s largest species of wild goat found in Kashmir and several regions of central Asia — and the Tibetan antelope or ‘Chiru’.

Various threats

  • The biggest challenges which have been identified by experts in the way of conservation and population growth of Hangul are habitat fragmentation, predation and very low fawn-female ratio.
  • Lack of desirable breeding and fawn survival is a grave concern for the population growth.
  • Another challenge is the male-female and fawn-adult disparity in the Hangul population.
  • Influx of livestock herds of nomadic communities in the Dachigam National Park has been a challenge for years.
  • After the closing down of their traditional routes leading to over a dozen alpine pastures (in Gurez) by the army after the inception of armed conflict in Kashmir, nomads have not been able to graze their herds in those pastures.
  • So, they are taking their large herds of livestock to the upper reaches of Dachigam during summers.
  • Other dangers for the Hangul population include excessive predation of fawns by the Common Leopard, the Himalayan Black Bear and nomads’ dogs.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

99942 Apophis

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 99942 Apophis

Mains level : Not Much


News

Asteroid ‘99942 Apophis’

  • On April 13, 2029, a near-Earth asteroid will cruise by Earth, about 31,000 km above the surface.
  • The asteroid, called 99942 Apophis, is 340 m wide.
  • At one point, it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • It is rare for an asteroid this size to pass by Earth so close.
  • Although scientists have spotted small asteroids, on the order of 5-10 metres, flying by Earth at a similar distance, asteroids the size of Apophis are far fewer in number and so do not pass this close to Earth as often.
  • Among potential lessons from Apophis, scientists are hoping they can use its flyby to learn about an asteroid’s interior.
  • Apophis is one of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, and scientists also hope their observations might help gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defence.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Exercise Varuna 19.1

Mains :

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Exercise

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • The first part of the Indo-French joint naval exercise, Varuna 19.1 is being held off the Goa coast.

Exercise Varuna 19.1

  • The bilateral naval exercise initiated in 1983 and christened as ‘Varuna’ in 2001, form a vital part of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
  • Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise exemplifies the strong relations between the two nations, in line with the Joint Strategic Vision of India-French Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The Varuna exercise aims at developing interoperability between the two navies and fostering mutual cooperation by learning from each other’s best practices to conduct joint operations.
  • The exercise underscores the shared interests and commitment of both nations in promoting maritime security.
  • The second part, Varuna 19.2, is scheduled to be held at the end of May in Djibouti.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-France