[op-ed snap] A global label

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Way forward to ensure UNSC's labelling of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.


CONTEXT

Masood Azhar’s listing as a designated terrorist by the UN Security Council at long last closes an important chapter in India’s quest to bring the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief to justice.

Background

  • He eluded the designation for 20 years, despite his release in 1999 in exchange for hostages after the IC-814 hijack, and his leadership of the JeM as it carried out dozens of deadly attacks in India, including the Parliament attack of 2001, and more recent ones like the Pathankot airbase attack in 2016 and the Pulwama police convoy bombing this year.
  • China’s opposition to the listing has long been a thorn in India’s side, given the toll Azhar and the JeM have exacted, and Beijing’s veto of the listing three times between 2009 and 2017 had driven a wedge in India-China relations.
  • Despite the frustration over China’s last hold on a proposal moved by the U.S., the U.K., and France just weeks after Pulwama, the government has done well to approach Beijing with what the Ministry of External Affairs called “patience and persistence”.

Disappointments

  • No mention of Mr. Azhar’s role –There is much disappointment, however, over the final listing released by the Security Council, with no mention of Mr. Azhar’s role in any of the attacks against India, or directing the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Pulwama reference dropped – A specific reference to Pulwama, which was in the original proposal, was also dropped, presumably to effect China’s change of mind on the issue.
  • Pakistan’s claims of a victory in this are hardly credible; Masood Azhar is one of about twenty 1267-sanctioned terrorists who have Pakistani nationality, and more are based there, which is hardly a situation that gives it cause for pride.
  • It is necessary to recognise that India’s efforts and those of its partners in the Security Council have been rewarded with a UNSC designation at its 1267 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The focus must now move to ensuring its full implementation in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Track record

  • Pakistan’s actions against others on the 1267 list have been far from effective, and in many cases obstructionist.
  • Hafiz Saeed, the 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Toiba chief, roams free, addresses rallies, and runs a political party and several NGOs without any government restrictions.
  • LeT’s operations commander Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi was granted bail some years ago despite the UNSC sanctions mandating that funds and assets to the sanctioned individuals must be frozen.

Way forward

  • It will take constant focus from New Delhi, and a push from the global community, to ensure that Masood Azhar is not just starved of funds, arms and ammunition as mandated, but that he is prosecuted in Pakistan for the acts of terror he is responsible for.
  • Azhar and his JeM must lose all capacity to carry out attacks, particularly across the border.
  • Global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force will also be watching Pakistan’s next moves closely, ahead of a decision, that could come as early as in June, on whether to “blacklist” Pakistan or keep it on the “greylist”.
  • Both financial and political pressure should be maintained on Islamabad to bring the hard-fought designation of Masood Azhar to its logical conclusion.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] The gender ladder to socio-economic transformation

Mains Paper 1 : Role Of Women & Women Organization |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Steps to be taken to improve women participation in work force in India.


CONTEXT

India is in the middle of a historical election which is noteworthy in many respects, one of them being the unprecedented focus on women’s employment.

Women Employment Data

  • Currently, the participation of women in the workforce in India is one of the lowest globally.
  • The female labour force participation rate (LFPR) in India fell from 31.2% in 2011-2012 to 23.3% in 2017-2018.
  • This decline has been sharper in rural areas, where the female LFPR fell by more than 11 percentage points in 2017-2018.

Reasons For low rate

  • The answers can be found in a complex set of factors including low social acceptability of women working outside the household, lack of access to safe and secure workspaces, widespread prevalence of poor and unequal wages, and a dearth of decent and suitable jobs.
  • Most women in India are engaged in subsistence-level work in agriculture in rural areas, and in low-paying jobs such as domestic service and petty home-based manufacturing in urban areas.
  • But with better education, women are refusing to do casual wage labour or work in family farms and enterprises.

Education and work

1.Negative relationship –

    • A recent study observed a strong negative relationship between a woman’s education level and her participation in agricultural and non-agricultural wage work and in family farms.
    • The study also showed a preference among women for salaried jobs as their educational attainment increases; but such jobs remain extremely limited for women.
    • It is estimated that among people (25 to 59 years) working as farmers, farm labourers and service workers, nearly a third are women, while the proportion of women among professionals, managers and clerical workers is only about 15% (NSSO, 2011-2012).
    • 2.Unpaid Labour –
      • Time-use surveys have found that they devote a substantial amount of their time to work which is not considered as work, but an extension of their duties, and is largely unpaid.
      • The incidence and drudgery of this unpaid labour is growing.
      • This includes unpaid care work such as childcare, elderly care, and household work such as collecting water.
      • The burden of these activities falls disproportionately on women, especially in the absence of adequately available or accessible public services.
      • It also encompasses significant chunks of women’s contribution to agriculture, animal husbandry, and non-timber forest produce on which most of the household production and consumption is based.

Steps to improve women’s participation

  • A two-pronged approach must entail facilitating women’s access to decent work by providing public services, eliminating discrimination in hiring, ensuring equal and decent wages, and improving women’s security in public spaces.
  • It must also recognise, reduce, redistribute, and remunerate women’s unpaid work.

Demands by women

  • Gender-responsive public services – On the question of work, women’s demands include gender-responsive public services such as free and accessible public toilets, household water connections, safe and secure public transport, and adequate lighting and CCTV cameras to prevent violence against women in public spaces and to increase their mobility.
  • Decent living wages  & social security –Furthermore, they want fair and decent living wages and appropriate social security including maternity benefit, sickness benefit, provident fund, and pension.
  • Provisions for migrant workers – Women have also expressed the need for policies which ensure safe and dignified working and living conditions for migrant workers.
  • For example, in cities, governments must set up migration facilitation and crisis centres (temporary shelter facility, helpline, legal aid, and medical and counselling facilities).
  • Spaces for women – They must also allocate social housing spaces for women workers, which include rental housing and hostels. They must ensure spaces for women shopkeepers and hawkers in all markets and vending zones.

Recognition as farmers

1. Their fundamental demand is that women must be recognised as farmers in accordance with the National Policy for Farmers.

    • This should include cultivators, agricultural labourers, pastoralists, livestock rearers, forest workers, fish-workers, and salt pan workers.
    • Thereafter, their equal rights and entitlements over land and access to inputs, credit, markets, and extension services must be ensured.

Conclusion

Unless policymakers correctly assess and address the structural issues which keep women from entering and staying in the workforce, promising more jobs — while a welcome step — is unlikely to lead to the socio-economic transformation India needs.

 

 

 

 

Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The Maoist challenge

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Maoism is a challenge to internal security of country.


CONTEXT

The IED blast that claimed the lives of 15 security personnel and their driver in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra on Wednesday is a grim reminder of the challenge the Maoist movement continues to pose to the country’s internal security.

Background

  • The dead men belong to the C-60 force, an elite commando group of Maharashtra police, modelled on the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The attack comes a year after Maharashtra police gunned down 40 suspected Maoists in the same region.
  • Clearly, the Maoists want to sent out a message that they still posses the firepower to take on the security forces and establish territorial dominance.

1.A base in  a tri-junction – The geographical location and forested terrain has enabled the Maoists to establish a base in Gadchiroli, a tri-junction of Maharashtra, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.

Infiltration by police forces – However, the state police reportedly has infiltrated the Maoist organisation in the region and created its own network of informers.

Drop in activity in Maharashtra – Maoist actions in the region has drastically come down unlike in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, where in April an MLA was killed along with four security personnel.

False sense of security 

  • In fact, the success in containing Maoist activities may have given a false sense of security to the commandos, who ignored the standard operating procedure when they drove out, all of them in a single vehicle, to confront the ultras who had torched the vehicles of a road construction contractor in the area.
  • That they didn’t suspect any possible ambush on the way also points to intelligence failure.

Remarkable capacity to regroup – The Maoists have always shown a remarkable capacity to regroup and strike back even in places they have faced severe crackdown: For instance, they had killed an MLA and a former legislator in Araku Valley last year, when it was believed that the movement had been crushed in Andhra Pradesh.

Unable to address underdevelopment – It could also be that the state had failed to address the deprivation and underdevelopment that in the first place created an enabling climate for the Maoists to build a base.

Conclusion

Influential militarist political group -The Maoist movement or CPI (Maoist), born out of splits in the communist movement in the 1960s, has reinvented itself many times to become an influential militarist political group.

Shift to tribals – Its cadre base too has shifted from peasants in the 1960s to tribals in the 1990s and thereafter.

Restricted to central India – However, a decade since the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, described them as the gravest internal security threat, the ultra-left political movement is now restricted to pockets of Central India.

A focussed and co-ordinated effort by security agencies could further limit its footprint and finally end its violent run. That’s both a political and administrative challenge.

Internal Security Trends and Incidents

Explained: Naming of cyclones

Mains Paper 1 : Geographical Features & Their Location |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cyclone nomenclature

Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India


News

Context

  • The newest cyclone to emerge out of the Bay of Bengal has been named Fani.
  • Before that, there were cyclones Hudhud in 2014, Ockhi in 2017 and Titli and Gaja in 2018.
  • Each Tropical Cyclone basin in the world has its own rotating list of names.
  • For cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, the naming system was agreed by eight member countries of a group called WMO/ESCAP and took effect in 2004.

Naming a Cyclone

  • There are five tropical cyclone regional bodies, i.e. ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee, WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones, RA-I Tropical Cyclone Committee, RA-IV Hurricane Committee, and RA-V Tropical Cyclone Committee.
  • In general, tropical cyclones are named according to the rules at a regional level.
  • The WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones at its twenty-seventh Session held in 2000 in Muscat, Oman agreed in principal to assign names to the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
  • After long deliberations among the member countries, the naming of the tropical cyclones over north Indian Ocean commenced from September 2004.
  • Eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand participated in the panel and came up with a list of 64 names.
  • If public wants to suggest the name of a cyclone to be included in the list, the proposed name must meet some fundamental criteria, the RSMC website says.
  • The name should be short and readily understood when broadcast.
  • Further, the names must not be culturally sensitive and should not convey any unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning.

How naming takes place?

  • These countries submitted eight names each, which are arranged in an 8×8 table.
  • The first cyclone after the list was adopted was given the name in the first row of the first column — Onil, proposed by Bangladesh.
  • Subsequent cyclones are being named sequentially, column-wise, with each cyclone given the name immediately below that of the previous cyclone.
  • Once the bottom of the column is reached, the sequence moves to the top of the next column.
  • So far, the first seven columns have been exhausted, and Fani (again proposed by Bangladesh) is the top name in the last column.
  • The next cyclone will be named Vayu. The lists will wind up with Cyclone Amphan, whenever it comes.

When the lists end

  • After the 64 names are exhausted, the eight countries will propose fresh lists of names.
  • The lists for storms in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins are, however, rotated.
  • Exception are, however, made in certain cases — if a storm causes excessive death and destruction, its name is considered for retirement and is not repeated; it is replaced with another name.

Why name cyclones?

  • It is generally agreed that appending names to cyclones makes it easier for the media to report on these cyclones, heightens interest in warnings, and increases community preparedness.
  • Names are presumed to be easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
  • The practice of naming a storm/tropical cyclone would help identify each individual tropical cyclone.
  • The purpose of the move was also to make it easier for people to easily understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane in a region, thus to facilitate disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.
  • It does not confuse the public when there is more than one tropical cyclone in the same area.
  • Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.
  • It’s easier and less confusing to say “Cyclone Titli” than remember the storm’s number or its longitude and latitude.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

Rare life-size stucco figurine unearthed in Telangana

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ikshavaku dynasty, Stucco

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist art


News

  • Archaeologists in Telangana have unearthed a rare treasure in the form of a life-sized stucco sculpture from a Buddhist site at Phanigiri.

What is stucco?

  • Stucco is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid.
  • It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture.
  • Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

About the Bodhisattva statue

  • It is the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far.
  • The life-size figurine found in the excavations is thought to represent one of Bhodhisattva in Jathaka Chakra.
  • The stucco is about 1.73 metres in height and 35 cm in width, thus the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far
  • Apart from the life-sized stucco, these excavations brought to light a Mahastupa, apsidal chaitya grihas, votive stupas, pillared congregation halls, viharas, platforms with staircases at various levels.
  • It also had sculptural panels with Brahmi inscriptions, belonging to Satavahana period from first century BC, continued with Mahayana till the end of Ikshvaku period and others in third-fourth century AD.

About Ikshvaku Dynasty

  • The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a dynasty founded by the legendary king Ikshvaku. The dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty).
  • Lord Rama belonged to the Ikshavaku dynasty.
  • Twenty-two out of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara belonged to this dynasty.
  • Rishabha is present in both Hindu as well as Jain mythology. Both refers to the same person.
  • According to the Buddhist texts, Prince Siddhartha belonged to this dynasty.
  • The Buddhist text, Mahavamsa traces the origin of the Shakyas to king Okkaka (Pali equivalent to Sanskrit Ikshvaku) and gives their genealogy from Mahasammata, an ancestor of Okkaka.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

U.S. Commission says religious freedom in India deteriorated in 2018

Mains Paper 1 : Communalism, Secularism, Regionalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan, independent federal government commission has said that there is an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018” in India.

Declining religious freedom across world

  • India continues to remain a Tier 2 country, according to the Commission, a list it has been unable to get off of since 2009.
  • Tier 2 countries are those in which “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious” CPC (Country of Particular Concern) standard.
  • CPCs are designated by the State Department and the latest list, from November 2018, contains 10 countries (including Burma, China, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia).
  • In these countries the government has tolerated or engaged in “particularly severe religious freedom violations, meaning those are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”
  • Other Tier 2 countries for 2018 are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
  • The Commission says in several countries where it found religious freedom declining, it also found an increased securitization and politicization of religion.

Indian case

  • In countries like India, it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.
  • The report says conditions for minorities in India have deteriorated over the last decade, adding that a “multifaceted campaign by various right wing nationalist groups.
  • It calls out the role of extremist groups, India’s anti-conversion laws, cow-protection lynch mobs, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of the NRC and a lack of transparency on denying international NGOs registration and political targeting of NGOs.

750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vedanta Desikan

Mains level : Socio-religious movements in South India


News

  • Vice-President has unveiled commemorative postage stamps on the 750th birth anniversary of ‘Vedanta Desikan’ a religious philosopher.

Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369)

  • Sri Vedanta Desikan was a Sri Vaishnava philosopher and one of the most brilliant stalwarts of Vaishnavism in the post-Ramanuja period.
  • He was a poet, devotee, philosopher and master-teacher (desikan).
  • He was the disciple of Kidambi Appullar, also known as Aathreya Ramanujachariar, who was of a master-disciple lineage that began with Ramanuja.
  • He composed many different works in languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil).

His work

  • He was know by various titles such as ‘Kavitarkika-kesari’ and ‘Kavitarkika-simham’, the lion amongst poets; and ‘Ramanuja-daya-patram’, the recipient of Ramanuja’s causeless mercy, given in a laudatory verse composed by the famous Brahma Tantra Svatantra Swami.
  • He is known as Sarva-tantra-svatantra or a master of science, philosophy, arts and crafts.
History- Important places, persons in news