[op-ed of the day] A bridge across the India-Pakistan abyss

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 : Impact of kartarpur talks on future bilateral talks


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

Ties between India and Pakistan are at an ebb — their lowest in two decades. The thread from this phase, as a series of events — the Kargil war (1999), the Agra Summit (2001), the attack on Parliament (2001) and Operation Parakram (2001-02) — meant a sustained period of deep hostilities, with diplomatic missions downgraded and travel routes truncated.

Kartarpur corridor

  • What has been disconnected from all those tensions are the talks on the Kartarpur corridor.
  • That the talks have continued through one of the most difficult years in the relationship is equally remarkable; there have been three rounds of technical-level meetings to ensure both sides complete the infrastructure needed before November 2019, the 550th anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak.
  • The symbolism for pilgrims who will be able to travel from Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur just a few kilometres inside Pakistan, which are sites where Guru Nanak spent his last few years, goes well beyond the date and year.

Some irritants

  •  The Kartarpur corridor project is an issue that has been raised by India for several decades, with New Delhi’s reasons for wanting the corridor clear.
  • However, in the case of Pakistan, these have not been as transparent, with the military establishment’s surprise backing only raised doubts on whether Islamabad has an ulterior motive.

1.Allowing Separatist groups –

  • In a dossier handed over during the last round of talks on Kartarpur on July 14, India spelt out its apprehensions over Pakistan allowing separatist Khalistani groups, including those funded by groups based in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, to try and influence pilgrims.
  • Of specific concern is the ‘Referendum 2020’ plan by the Sikhs for Justice group (banned by India).

2.Drugs and Arms Supply –

  • The other irritant is the possible use of the corridor for drugs and arms movement; there are many routes and tunnels at the border between the two Punjabs.
  • The terror threat by Pakistani Punjab-based anti-India groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad is also a constant concern.

Hope for future Talks

  • With such strictures in place, New Delhi’s decision to embark on a course that will need regular and repeated India-Pakistan meetings is nothing short of a breach of its otherwise firm “no talks without terror ending” policy.
  • For example, at a time when Indian and Pakistani Ministers do not even hold talks when they meet at multilateral conferences, New Delhi sent two senior Ministers to Pakistan to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the event.

A range of possibilities

1.Other faith-based corridors – The obvious extension from this would be for having other faith-based “corridors” for Hindu, Muslim and Sikh pilgrims in both countries; this would be in addition to the list of 20 shrines (15 in Pakistan, five in India) that were negotiated under the 1974 Protocol on visits to Religious Shrines.

2.Template for bilateral negotiations

  • The template that Kartarpur has given both sides is also worth considering for the format of other bilateral negotiations given that the talks have been immunised from both terror attacks and election rhetoric.
  • The venue of the talks, at the Attari-Wagah zero point, lends itself to more successful outcomes too away from the glare of the media, without focus on arrangements for both parties.
  • The two sides can cross over, meet for the duration of talks and return after issuing a pre-arranged joint statement.

Impact of FATF

  • Ahead of the next plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October, Pakistan will remain under pressure to keep terror groups subdued.
  • According to various reports, infiltration figures at the LoC are significantly lower (a 43% reduction since the Balakot strikes in February); officials have marked about 20 terror camps in PoK they believe have been “shut down” recently.
  • Civilian and military casualties from ceasefire violations have also reduced.

Way Forward

Thus, it would be a travesty to waste the opportunity made possible by the Kartarpur corridor, and by extension, the founder of the Sikh faith himself (revered by Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan) to bring both countries back to the table for talks.

 

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] The complexities of Naga identity

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) issue


CONTEXT

The Nagaland government’s move to compile a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) opens up possibilities in the context of the decision to link the register to the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system without a consensus on the definition of an ‘indigenous inhabitant’.

Cut off date

Though the official notification on RIIN has not mentioned a cut-off date to compile the proposed register, the authorities in Nagaland have till date issued indigenous inhabitant certificates using December 1, 1963 as the cut-off date.

Opposition from NSCN (I-M)

  • The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), which has been engaged in peace talks with the government of India since 1997, has opposed the compilation of RIIN asserting that “all Nagas, wherever they are, are indigenous in their land by virtue of their common history”.
  • On June 29, the Nagaland government notified that RIIN “will be the master-list of all indigenous inhabitants” of the State.
  • All those to be included will be issued “barcoded and numbered indigenous inhabitant certificates”.
  • It added that all existing indigenous inhabitant certificates would become invalid once the process of compiling RIIN is completed and fresh certificates issued.
  • RIIN is different from Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) as exclusion or inclusion in RIIN is not going to determine the Indian citizenship of anyone in Nagaland.

Three conditions

Since 1977, a person, in order to be eligible to obtain a certificate of indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland, has to fulfil either of these three conditions:

a) the person settled permanently in Nagaland prior to December 1, 1963;

b) his or her parents or legitimate guardians were paying house tax prior to this cut-off date; and

c) the applicant, or his/her parents or legitimate guardians, acquired property and a patta (land certificate) prior to this cut-off date.

The compilation of RIIN also involves the complexities of deciding claims in respect of children of non-Naga fathers as well as non-Naga children adopted by Naga parents.

Issues

  • If the Nagaland government goes ahead with a compilation of RIIN with this cut-off date, then all Naga people who have migrated to the State from the neighbouring States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere in India after this day will have to be excluded.
  • The NSCN(I-M) statement adds, “Nothing is conclusive on the Naga issue, until and unless a mutually agreed honourable political solution is signed between the two entities.
  • Therefore, any attempt to dilute the final political settlement by justifying any past accord of treasons should be seriously viewed by all Nagas.”
  • This clearly indicates the opposition the Nagaland government may have to face if it goes ahead with the move to compile RIIN.

Conflicts

  • The Centre and the NSCN (I-M), which is the largest among all armed Naga rebel groups, signed a Framework Agreement in 2015, the content of which has still not been made public, in turn leaving room for speculation on the contentious issue of integration of all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Unless otherwise clarified through an official notification, the proposed linking of RIIN with the ILP system may require large numbers of non-indigenous inhabitants of Dimapur district, more particularly the commercial hub (Dimapur town), to obtain an ILP to carry out day-to-day activities.
  • Most of them migrated from other States and have been carrying out trade, business and other activities for decades.
  • Migration also explains the higher density of population in Dimapur district (409 persons per sq. km) when compared to all the other districts in the State.
  • The ILP is a travel document issued by the government of India to allow a ‘domestic tourist’ to enter Nagaland, and is valid for 30 days.

 

Challenges

1.Cut-off date – While the move to streamline the ILP system to curb the influx of “illegal migration” to Nagaland has been welcomed by civil society, public opinion is still divided on compiling RIIN without a consensus on the cut-off date.

2.De-link the work of streamlining the ILP mechanism – As the Nagaland government has begun a consultation process on RIIN, it will be under pressure to de-link the work of streamlining the ILP mechanism from the proposed register and put it on hold till the ongoing peace process concludes and the final solution is worked out.

3. Issues in streamlining the ILP-  Besides this, the complexities that may arise in streamlining the ILP mechanism due to non-issuance of domicile certificates or permanent residence certificates to a large number of non-Naga, non-indigenous inhabitants could also make the task even more difficult for the Neiphiu Rio-led Nagaland government

Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] Kashmir mediation

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 : USA's stand on Kashmir Issue


CONTEXT

Facing a furore in Parliament over the issue, the government has clarified in no uncertain terms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not request U.S. President Donald Trump to “mediate or arbitrate” on the Kashmir issue, as Mr. Trump claimed on Monday.

Response by government

  • Addressing Parliament, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India remains committed to its policy of discussing all outstanding issues with Pakistan only bilaterally, and assured the House that Mr. Modi did not raise this with Mr. Trump at their recent meeting in Osaka during the G-20 summit.
  • In making the claim that has been roundly denied by New Delhi, Mr. Trump breached several well-laid diplomatic protocols, including one against discussing privileged conversations with a leader, during a public conversation with another.

Statements

Mr. Trump also said a “lot” of his talks with the Pakistan Prime Minister would focus on India and Afghanistan, an odd departure from the precept of putting bilateral issues to the fore, and being more discreet when discussing sensitive relations involving other countries.

New Realities

  • For New Delhi, it may be time to recognise that Mr. Trump’s comments are a sign of new realities in international diplomacy, where leaders care less about niceties and more about open communication.
  • Mr. Modi will have to prepare accordingly for some plain-speaking when he visits the U.S. and meets with Mr. Trump, as he is expected to, in September this year.
  • In the short term, the government’s decision to address the claim by Mr. Trump will have nipped any repercussions in the bud.

Way Forward

The government should pursue the issue through diplomatic channels with the U.S. government, and determine whether Mr. Trump made the comments out of confusion or deliberately.

Stand on Kashmir

Opposition to third part mediation – India has always opposed any suggestion of third-party mediation on Jammu and Kashmir; both the 1972 Shimla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore declaration included India’s and Pakistan’s commitment to resolving issues between them.

It is unlikely that Mr. Modi would have spoken out of line with this policy, and the most charitable explanation for Mr. Trump’s new contention is that he mistook India’s appeal to the international community to hold Pakistan accountable for terror groups on its soil that carry out attacks in Kashmir, for a general desire for mediation.

Contentious Issues

  • Mr. Trump’s comment in March that the U.S. successfully mediated for the release of captured fighter pilot Abhinandan by Pakistan may have even given him some hope that the U.S. could play a larger role on the Kashmir issue, and New Delhi would need to address that.
  • A more worrying proposition is that Mr. Trump took the line favoured by his Pakistani interlocutors on Kashmir as a way of enhancing his own plans for a pullout from Afghanistan with Pakistan’s help on security and talks with the Taliban.

Conclusion

While the damage from Mr. Trump’s words may not have a very lasting impact on India-U.S. ties, that from any rushed measures to force a resolution in Afghanistan will have far-reaching and lasting impact, including on India.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Explained: Why President Trump possibly offered to mediate on Kashmir issue

Mains Paper 2 : Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India'S Interests |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Kashmir issue and its international prospects



News

  • US President Donald Trump threw a bombshell at India during a meeting with visiting Pakistan PM Imran Khan.
  • He bluffed by saying that PM Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir.

An offer unwanted

  • How this will impact the present uneven relations between US-India remains to be seen. It will be for diplomats to manage the fallout if any.
  • The most likely assessment on both sides may be that the episode should be buried quietly, and both countries should move ahead.

India stands for Bilateralism

  • India’s insistence on bilateralism has historically stemmed from the distrust of outsiders meddling in its internal affairs.
  • The framework for bilateral resolution of problems between India and Pakistan was written into the 1972 Shimla Agreement, reiterated 27 years later in the Lahore Declaration.
  • The world was out to demonstrate that India’s secular nationhood project was doomed, and that outside mediators viewed the Kashmir view through Pakistani eyes.
  • India has sought outside help from the world, not for mediation, but to rein in Pakistan’s meddling of terror in Kashmir.

Why no international mediation?

  • Soon after Nehru took Pakistan’s invasion in 1947 to the UN, he had had second thoughts about it.
  • Subsequent UN missions, including the Dixon Mission led to the Dixon Plan of 1950 for partition of some areas of J&K between India and Pakistan.
  • Plus they proposed for a plebiscite in the Valley.
  • This strengthened India’s determination to shut the door to international mediation.
  • Since then, India has resisted attempts at internationalizing the Kashmir problem and mostly succeeded in making it clear to the world that there is no place for a third party in the room.

US was always consulted

I. During Kargil War

  • In 1999, one year after India and Pakistan went nuclear, it was US intervention that brought the Kargil crisis to an end.
  • The Vajpayee government had been in touch with the Clinton administration to get the Sharif government to call off the intrusion in Kargil even as it fought Pakistani forces.
  • Pakistan then took Clinton’s help for a face-saving ceasefire with India that would include a settlement on Kashmir.
  • It had to agree to an unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Kargil back to the Line of Control.
  • Clinton denied a face-saver of mediation over Kashmir, and reaffirmed US commitment to the bilateral Lahore Declaration signed earlier.

II. UNSC issues

  • After 9/11, which ushered in a UNSC-backed international architecture against terrorism, India has looked increasingly to the global community for help against Pakistan terror flourishment.
  • India always insisted global community to put pressure on the Pakistan Army and political leadership to desist from permitting anti-India terrorist activity on its territory.
  • Asking international players for help on Pakistan on one issue and expecting them to respect India’s red lines on other kinds of involvement has worked more or less.

Why did Trump comment so?

1) US credit mongering as usual:

  • The US president claimed to have defused the India-Pakistan stand off that arose from the Pulwama attack. The US is said to have played a part in release of Abhinandan.
  • The US also played a role in forcing China to agree to the designation of Jaish chief Masood Azhar.
  • And most recently, Trump took credit for the arrest of Hafiz Saeed. Perhaps, the President of the US thinks he has already resolved much of the problem.

2) Failure in the Middle-East:  He may think there is a better chance of resolving a knotty international issue – all US presidents like this on their CVs and an isolationist Trump may not be above this.

3) Afghan Talks:  He may also believe that if his administration has succeeded in dragging the Taliban to the table in Afghanistan, so can it do the same with India and Pakistan.

J&K – The issues around the state

IndSpaceEx

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 : IndSpaceEx

Mains level : India's quest for security amidst clouds of space war



News

  • The Indian armed forces are all set to conduct the country’s first-ever simulated space warfare exercise “IndSpaceEx” this week.

IndSpaceEx

  • The tri-Service integrated defence staff under the defence ministry is conducting the two-day “IndSpaceEx”, with all military and scientific stakeholders.
  • Aim: to assess the requisite space and counter-space capabilities that are needed by India to ensure we can protect our national security interests in this final frontier of warfare.
  • Such an exercise was being planned after India successfully tested an anti-satellite (A-Sat) interceptor missile to destroy the 740-kg Microsat-R satellite, at an altitude of 283-km in the low earth orbit, in a “hit-to-kill mode”.
  • The exercise will help Indian armed forces in testing the cosmic war zone and see how the A-Sat capabilities can be used to defend the Indian skies.
  • The exercise comes at a time when India’s neighbour China is aggressively growing in this field.
  • Shortly after ‘Mission Shakti’, Beijing had launched several missiles from a ship to demonstrate its A-Sat capabilities.

In response to China

  • China has been developing an array of A-Sat weapons, both kinetic in the shape of co-orbital killer satellites and direct ascent missiles as well as non-kinetic ones like lasers and electro-magnetic pulse weapons.
  • Though India for long has had an expansive civilian space programme, it largely restricted military use of space to intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, communication and navigation.
  • It will lead to an assessment of the “imminent threats” in the expanse beyond earth and the drafting of a joint space doctrine for futuristic battles.
  • The A-Sat test and the approval for the tri-Service Defence Space Agency signifies the crossing of that self-imposed threshold for developing offensive space capabilities.
  • India has no option but to develop deterrence capabilities to ensure no adversary can threaten its assets in outer-space.

Why such exercise?

  • Not only can an adversary’s counter-space weapons take out India’s assets critical for its economic and social infrastructure, they can also “blind and deafen” the Indian armed forces.
  • They could do so by destroying or jamming satellites vital for surveillance, communication, and precision-targeting.

Way Forward

  • Having demonstrated its ASAT capability, India is in an ideal place to demonstrate its global governance credentials.
  • Clearly, efforts like the IndSpaceEx are important to determine the degree of the space security challenges India faces and to develop appropriate measures for effective deterrence.
  • But India must step up its efforts to develop global rules and norms about such challenges and threats.
  • India must continue working towards all-encompassing legally-binding instruments such as the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

Cryptocurrency panel for ban on private digital currencies

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blockchain, Distributed ledger technology (DLT)

Mains level : Cryptocurrencies regulation in India


News

  • The committee set up to look into the legality of cryptocurrencies and blockchain has submitted its report to the Finance Ministry and recommended that private cryptocurrencies be banned completely in India.

Committee on cryptocurrencies

  • The government had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee in November 2017, under the Chairmanship of Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg and comprising senior officials of the MEITY, SEBI and the RBI.
  • The committee notes with serious concern mushrooming of cryptocurrencies almost invariably issued abroad and numerous people in India investing in these.
  • The Committee, however, leaves the door open for the central bank issued cryptocurrencies, adding that it endorsed the RBI’s stance of banning any sort of interface of cryptocurrencies with the banking system in India.
  • The Committee recommends that all private cryptocurrencies, except any cryptocurrency issued by the state, be banned in India.
  • It endorses the stand taken by the RBI to eliminate the interface of institutions regulated by the RBI from cryptocurrencies.
  • However, the report goes on to say that it would be advisable to “have an open mind” regarding the introduction of an official, government-backed cryptocurrency in India.
  • But it also added that it is currently unclear what the advantages of such a currency in India would be.

Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019

  • The committee has drafted a law which mandates a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years for offences.
  • The draft law says that anybody who mines, generates, holds, sells, deals in, transfers, disposes of or issues cryptocurrencies with will face a fine and/or jail time of between 1 and 10 years.
  • The fine has been set at the either three times the loss or harm caused by a person, or three times the gain made by the person, whichever is higher.

Why ban cryptocurrencies?

  • All the cryptocurrencies have been created by non-sovereigns.
  • They do not have any intrinsic value of their own and lack any of the attributes of a currency.
  • That is, they neither act as a store of value nor are they a medium of exchange in themselves.
  • These cryptocurrencies cannot serve the purpose of a currency.
  • The private cryptocurrencies are inconsistent with the essential functions of money/currency, hence private cryptocurrencies cannot replace fiat currencies.

More focus on the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain

  • Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is a digital system for recording the transaction of assets in which the transactions and their details are recorded in multiple places at the same time.
  • Unlike traditional databases, distributed ledgers have no central data store or administration functionality.
  • While the committee has taken a strong stance against cryptocurrencies, it has highlighted the benefits of the underlying technology—the distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain.
  • The Committee recommends that blockchain based systems may be considered by MEITY for building a low-cost KYC system that reduces the need for duplication of KYC requirements for individuals.
  • Further, the report said that DLT-based systems can be used by banks and other financial firms for loan tracking, collateral management, fraud detection, claims management in insurance etc.
  • Similarly, DLT can be beneficial for removing errors and frauds in land markets if the technology is implemented for maintaining land records.
  • The Committee therefore recommends that various state governments may examine the feasibility of using DLT for land-records management.

Back2Basics

Blockchains

  • Blockchain/ DLT are the building block of “internet of value,” and enable recording of interactions and transfer “value” peer-to-peer, without a need for a centrally coordinating entity.
  • “Value” refers to any record of ownership of asset — for example, money, securities, land titles — and also ownership of specific information like identity, health information and other personal data.
  • Blockchain is one type of a distributed ledger.
Blockchain Technology: Prospects and Challenges

[pib] Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Achievements Of Indians In S&T |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Measures of GII

Mains level : Innovation ecosystem in India



News

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways has launched the Global Innovation Index (GII) in New Delhi. This is the first time that the GII is being launched in an emerging economy.

India’s Performance

  • India has jumped five notches to 52nd in the GII 2019 which ranked 129 countries.
  • In 2019, India continues to stand out in the GII ranking of the world’s top science and technology clusters with Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi featuring among global top-100 clusters.
  • During 2015 to 2019, India exhibited the second-largest improvement in any economy.
  • The period also represented the largest upward move among any of the top-five biggest economies in the world (based on 2018 GDP).

Global Scene

  • The top-10 countries in GII 2019 ranking are Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands, Britain, Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Germany and Israel.

About Global Innovation Index

  • The GII is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation. It was started in 2007 by INSEAD and World Business a British magazine.
  • It is published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with other organisations and institutions.
  • It is based on both subjective and objective data derived from several sources, including the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
  • The GII is commonly used by corporate and government officials to compare countries by their level of innovation.
  • The theme of the 2019 GII is Creating Healthy Lives – The Future of Medical Innovation, which aims to explore the role of medical innovation as it shapes the future of healthcare.

Components of GII

Five input pillars capture elements of the national economy that enable innovative activities under GII are:

  1. Institutions,
  2. Human capital and research,
  3. Infrastructure,
  4. Market sophistication, and
  5. Business sophistication.

Two output pillars capture actual evidence of innovation outputs:

  1. Knowledge and technology outputs and
  2. Creative outputs
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPPEL Scheme

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The Government of India has initiated a scheme known as “Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India (SPPEL)”, informed an MP in Parliament.

About SPPEL Scheme

  • Galvanized by the grim situation of lesser known languages in the country, the Scheme was instituted by Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2013.
  • The sole objective of the Scheme is to document and archive the country’s languages that have become endangered or likely to be endangered in the near future.
  • The scheme is monitored by Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) located in Mysuru, Karnataka.
  • The CIIL has collaborated with various universities and institutes across India for this mission.
  • University Grants Commission (UGC) is also providing financial assistance for creation of centres for endangered languages at Central and State Universities.

Present status

  • At the moment, the languages which are spoken by less than 10,000 speakers or languages which are not linguistically studied earlier are chiefly considered to be documented in this scheme.
  • Presently, 117 languages have been listed for the documentation.
  • Documentation in the form of grammar, dictionary and ethno-linguistic profiles of about 500 lesser known languages are estimated to be accomplished in the coming years.
Tribal Development