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[op-ed snap] Bringing back treasures: On stolen idols

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Cultural Artefacts

Context

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will bring three cultural artefacts, during his 2022 visit to India. The sculptures include a pair of dwarapalas from Tamil Nadu and one nagaraja or serpent king from either Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh.

Repatriation

  • The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) voluntarily returned them to India after establishing that they were stolen. 
  • This ‘cultural repatriation’ comes in the wake of a similar return of idols in 2016. Washington handed over around 200 sculpture pieces valued at $100 million to India.

Artefacts

  • India’s historical artefacts are a treasure-trove of a rich cultural legacy and religious significance.
  • They are strewn across far-flung lands as a result of decades of trafficking. 
  • The most extensive and ruthless of smuggling rings is by Subhash Kapoor, who has taken the illicit trade in antiquities to a global scale. 
  • The NGA and many U.S. museums and art galleries had obtained artefacts from Kapoor in good faith.
  • Rigorous provenance research had proved that their acquisition was a mistake.

Issue of missing artefacts

  • We still see continued operations of idol thieves who are looting ancient temples.
  • We have to request foreign institutions collecting art to conduct a greater degree of due diligence before acquiring any Indian idols.
  • Even among Indian institutions, the inventory documentation of idols is poor. 
  • Southern Tamil Nadu has many ancient temples situated in small, abandoned premises of a village.
  • Investigative reports have revealed the extent to which certain sections of law enforcement have abetted the loot. 

Way ahead

  • Major institutional reforms are required to end the operations of smugglers.
  • India should leverage the power of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. 
  • Most major western nations are signatories. India should demand that they institute stricter vetting protocols for international trade in historical artefacts. 

Conclusion

Unless such multi-pronged action is taken by the government, targeting loopholes in domestic legislation and enforcement, idol trafficking will continue to erode India’s invaluable cultural heritage.

US policy wise : Visa, Free Trade and WTO

Global Migration Report 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Migration Report 2020

Mains level : Remittances inflows in India


The Global Migration Report 2020 highlighting the international migrants stock was recently released.

Global Migration Report 2020

  • It released by the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM).
  • It reiterates the key trend of the International Migrant Stock 2019 dataset released by the UN Population Division in September — of the 272 international migrants worldwide (3.5% of the global population).
  • According to the report, roughly two-thirds of international migrants are labour migrants.
  • Oceania (a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) is the region with the highest proportion of international migrants.
  • The UAE is the country with the highest proportion of international migrants.

Top destinations

  • The top destination for international migrants is the US where, as of September 2019, there were 50.7 million international migrants.
  • The US is followed by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russian Federation and the UK.
  • The top migration corridors for Indians are the United Arab Emirates, the US and Saudi Arabia.
  • Conversely, the highest number of migrants entering India comes from Bangladesh.
  • The US is also the top choice for migrants from China.

Indian case

  • India accounts for the highest share with 17.5 million Indians living outside the country
  • India is followed by Mexico (11.8 million) and China (10.7 million).

Remittances inflows

  • Among other details in the new report, the high count of international migrants living abroad also makes India the leading recipient of remittances.
  • International remittances in 2018 (2020 report) reached $689 billion, out of which India received $78.6 billion from the 17.5 million living abroad.
  • India is currently followed by China ($67.4 billion), Mexico ($35.7 billion), Philippines ($33.8 billion), Egypt ($28.9 billion) and France ($26.4 billion).
  • The US was the top remittance-issuer, at $68 billion, followed by the United Arab Emirates ($44.4 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($36.1 billion).

Internal Security Trends and Incidents

Gujarat terror law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Definition of "Terrorist Act"

Mains level : Curbing terror related activities in India

The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Act which received President’s this month comes into effect on December 1.

An edge over MCOCA

  • The anti-terrorism law, which three Presidents had returned to the state, draws heavily from The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999, with two significant differences t.
  • The checks on interception of communication that are part of the Maharashtra law are missing in the Gujarat law; and the definition of “terrorist act” in the GCTOCA also covers “intention to disturb public order”.
  • These differences make the Gujarat law tougher and broader in scope than MCOCA.

Interception in MCOCA

  • Five MCOCA sections (13, 14, 15, 16, and 27) deal with the interception of communication.
  • The law states that the interception, if approved by the competent authority, cannot be for more than 60 days and that an extension would require permission.
  • The application for extension must include a statement of the results of the interception thus far, or a reasonable explanation for the failure to obtain results.
  • Extension, if granted, cannot be for more than 60 days.
  • The law provides for a panel to review the orders of the competent authority, and stipulates a prison term of up to a year for unauthorized interception or violation of the rules of interception.
  • The analysis of the utility of the interceptions must be submitted to the Maharashtra Assembly within three months of the end of the calendar year.

Who can intercept the calls?

  • A police officer of the rank of SP or above is required to supervise the investigation and to submit the application seeking authorisation for the interception of electronic or oral communication.
  • The law specifies various details that the application must mention.
  • Interception is allowed only if the investigating agency states that other modes of intelligence gathering have been tried, and have failed.
  • The competent authority shall be an officer of the state Home department, not below the rank of Secretary to the government.
  • In urgent cases, an officer of the rank of Additional DGP or above can authorise interception, but an application must be made to the competent authority within 48 hours of the ADGP’s order.

How is GCTOCA more powerful?

  • The Gujarat law deals only with the admissibility of evidence collected through interception, and do not mention the procedure for intercepting communication.
  • Its section 14 mirrors a corresponding section of MCOCA, and adds: “Notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC, 1973 or in any other law for the time being in force, the evidence collected shall be admissible as evidence against accused in the court during trial of case.”
  • “Any other law” is not defined.
  • GCTOCA also has no provision similar to the annual report mandated in the MCOCA.

Definition of ‘terrorist act’

  • The Gujarat law’s definition of a “terrorist act” is similar to the one in the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002, but includes “an act committed with the intention to disturb public order”.
  • A prosecutor in Gujarat said that the widening of the definition “allows, say, the Patidar agitation to be described as an act of terrorism, allowing stricter punishment”.
  • This prosecutor underlined that The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, India’s main central anti-terror law, “does not allow an agitation of such form or scale (to be called) ‘terrorism’, and is instead covered under IPC sections, (and) the law of sedition, (which) is not effective enough for stringent punishment”.
  • The Gujarat law defines a terrorist act as “an act committed with the intention to disturb public order or threaten the unity, integrity and security of the State or to strike terror in the minds of the people or any section of the people”

Argument for Gujarat law

  • The government could, while framing the Rules, introduce the checks and balances that are absent in the Gujarat terror law.
  • In case this is not done, there is also the provision where the court can ask the state government to frame Rules to this effect.
  • The constitutional validity of the law can be challenged on a “case-specific” basis.
  • With respect to GCTOC, there is a competing interest of law and order versus privacy. However, only time will tell how communication interception is used, and is interpreted.”
  • The definition of “terrorist act” was “very wide” — however, there were mechanisms built into the law to limit it.
  • The first check is the registration of FIR that can be done by an officer of rank SP or above. Ordinarily, if the power to register FIR is given to a sub-inspector- or inspector-level officer, it can be misused.
  • Secondly, assuming that the FIR is registered with a political motive, there is the provision that after submission of chargesheet, sanction from the state government is required before the court takes cognizance.
  • While the GCTOC Act does grant power to the executive with respect to the investigation process, there were similar provisions under previous laws TADA and POTA, both now repealed.

History- Important places, persons in news

Persons in news: Udham Singh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Udham Singh, Ghadar Party

Mains level : Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its aftermath


An extremely chauvinist MP raked up a storm in the Lok Sabha after she praised Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse and she later claimed that remark was meant for Udham Singh and not Godse.

This is not the first time that Udham Singh has been mentioned in Parliament.

Who was Udham Singh?

  • Singh, born in Sunam in Punjab’s Sangrur district in 1899, was a political activist who got associated with the Ghadar Party while in the US.
  • The multi-ethnic party was believed to have communist tendencies and was founded by Sohan Singh Bhakna in 1913.
  • Headquartered in California, the party was committed to the ouster of the British from India.
  • In 1934, Singh made his way to London with the purpose of assassinating O’Dwyer who in 1919 had been the Lt. Governor of Punjab and unsurprisingly Singh considered O’Dwyer to be responsible for the massacre.
  • As per a book, “A Patient Assassin” written by Anita Anand, when O’Dwyer ordered Brigadier Reginald Dyer to Amritsar before the massacre, he was worried that there might be a second Indian mutiny, given the Hindu-Muslim unity and the demonstrations and strikes.
  • Instead of Dyer, who instructed his men to open fire at the crowd gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, O’Dwyer is considered to be the actual perpetrator, since Dyer could not have executed it without his permission.

The assassination of O’Dwyer

  • On March 13, 1940 Singh shot O’Dwyer at a meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hill.
  • Singh was immediately arrested and held in Brixton prison following this.
  • At the prison, Singh staged a 36-day hunger strike and in police statements and at the court referred to himself as Mohamed Singh Azad, to symbolize Hindu-Sikh-Muslim unity in the fight for India’s freedom.
  • He was sentenced to death and was hanged on July 31, 1940 at Pentonville Prison.
  • In 1974, his remains were sent back to India and he was cremated in his village in Sunam.

In popularity

  • For avenging the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Singh is seen by some as a hero.
  • Gandhi had famously decried Singh’s revenge as an “act of insanity”.
  • Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand is named after the freedom fighter.

Indian Ocean Power Competition

Chagos Archipelago

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chagos Islands

Mains level : Decolonization of Asian countries

 


In a heated statement, Mauritius has called the UK an “illegal colonial occupier” of Chagos Island after it ignored a UN mandated deadline to return Islands. The UN had given UK six months to process the transfer, a move the UK and the US have bitterly resisted.

Chagos

  • Mauritius has argued that the Chagos Islands has been a part of its territory since at least the 18th century.
  • The UK broke the archipelago away from Mauritius in 1965 and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches from the Seychelles in the region to form the British Indian Ocean Territory.
  • In June 1976, after the Seychelles gained independence from the United Kingdom, the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches were returned by the UK.

Colonization of Chagos

  • The UK retained sovereignty over the islands after Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968.
  • It has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814.
  • The islands have since been used for defence purposes by the UK and the US, which established a military base on the island of Diego Garcia.
  • The entire Chagossian population was forcibly removed from the territory between 1967 and 1973, and prevented from returning.

An ICJ obligation for UK

  • The ICJ had said in its opinion that the UK Government is “under an obligation” to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.
  • It demanded that the UK withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally within six months, enabling Mauritius to complete the decolonization of its territory as rapidly as possible.

Assist this newscard with:

ICJ rejects UK’s claim of sovereignty over Chagos Archipelago

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Species in news: Clownfish

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Clownfish

Mains level : Climate change and its impact


The clownfish, made so popular by the animated film Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding Dory, cannot be expected to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, a new study has concluded.

Clownfish

  • Clownfish are found in various parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef.
  • They typically live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons. It is this habitat that is under threat.

Habitat under threat

  • Clownfish breed only in sea anemones, sharing a symbiotic bond.
  • Clownfish shelter in the anemone and are the only fish that do not get stung by the nematocysts of the anemone.
  • The anemone benefits because clownfish can defend the anemone from fish that might eat it. They never live anywhere but in the anemone.
  • Like coral reefs in general, Anemones are under direct threat from the impacts of climate change.
  • The anemones share another symbiotic bond, with algae. Under stress in warming waters, the algae leave the anemones.
  • If the algae stay away too long, the anemone starve to death. Which leaves the clownfish without a home.

GI(Geographical Indicator) Tags

[pib] List of certain G.I. Tagged Handloom Textile Products

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : NA

The Ministry of Textiles provides financial assistance for registration of handloom products under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods Act, 1999.

So far, 65 handloom products and 6 product logos are registered under GI Act. State- wise list of handloom products is as under:

[Note: It’s neither necessary nor possible to memorize all these GIs. But a simple overlook is advised.]

 

S.No.

Geographical Indications

Goods

State

1 Uppada Jamdani Sarees Handloom Andhra Pradesh
2 Venkatagiri Sarees Handloom Andhra Pradesh
3 Mangalagiri Sarees And Fabrics Handloom Andhra Pradesh
4 Dharmavaram Handloom Pattu Sarres And Paavadas Handloom Andhra Pradesh
5 Muga Silk of Assam Handloom Assam
6 Bhagalpur Silk Handloom Bihar
7 Champa Silk Saree And Fabrics Handloom Chhattisgarh
8 Tangaliya Shawl Handloom Gujarat
9 Kachchh Shawls Handloom Gujarat
10 Patan Patola Handloom Gujarat
11 Kullu Shawl Handloom Himachal Pradesh
12 Kinnauri Shawl Handloom Himachal Pradesh
13 Kashmir Pashmina Handloom Jammu & Kashmir
14 Kani Shawl Handloom Jammu & Kashmir
15 Navalgund Durries Handloom Karnataka
16 Ilkal Sarees Handloom Karnataka
17 Molakalmuru Sarees Handloom Karnataka
18 Udupi Sarees Handloom Karnataka
19 Cannanore Home Furnishings Handloom Kerala
20 Balaramapuram Sarees And Fine Cotton Fabrics Handloom Kerala
21 Kasaragod Sarees Handloom Kerala
22 Kuthampully Sarees Handloom Kerala
23 Chendamangalam Dhoties & Set Mundu Handloom Kerala
24 Kuthampully Dhoties & Set Mundu Handloom Kerala
25 Chanderi Sarees Handloom Madhya Pradesh
26 Maheshwar Sarees & Fabrics Handloom Madhya Pradesh
27 Solapur Chaddar Handloom Maharashtra
28 Paithani Sarees And Fabrics Handloom Maharashtra
29 Shaphee Lanphee Handloom Manipur
30 Wangkhei Phee Handloom Manipur
31  Moirang Phee Handloom Manipur
32 Kotpad Handloom Fabric Handloom Odisha
33 Orissa Ikat Handloom Odisha
34 Khandua Saree And Fabrics Handloom Odisha
35 Gopalpur Tussar Fabrics Handloom Odisha
36 Dhalapathar Parda & Fabrics Handloom Odisha
37 Sambalpuri Bandha Saree & Fabrics Handloom Odisha
38 Bomkai Saree & Fabrics Handloom Odisha
39 Habaspuri Saree & Fabrics Handloom Odisha
40 Berhampur Patta (Phoda Kumbha) Saree & Joda Handloom Odisha
41 Kota Doria Handloom Rajasthan
42 Kancheepuram Silk Handloom Tamil Nadu
43 Bhavani Jamakkalam Handloom Tamil Nadu
44 Madurai Sungudi Handloom Tamil Nadu
45 Arani Silk Handloom Tamil Nadu
46 Kovai Kora Cotton Sarees Handloom Tamil Nadu
47 Salem Silk know as Salem Venpattu Handloom Tamil Nadu
48 Pochampally Ikat Handloom Telangana
49 Gadwal Sarees Handloom Telangana
50 Siddipet Gollabama Handloom Telangana
51 Narayanpet Handloom Sarees Handloom Telangana
52 Agra Durrie Handloom Uttar Pradesh
53 Banaras Brocades And Sarees Handloom Uttar Pradesh
54 Mirzapur Handmade Dari Handloom Uttar Pradesh
55 Santipore Saree Handloom West Bengal
56 Baluchari Saree Handloom West Bengal
57 Dhaniakhali Saree Handloom West Bengal
58 RajKot Patola Handloom Gujarat
59 Mysore Silk Handloom Karnataka
60 Guledgudd Khana Handloom Karnataka
61 Solapur Terry Towel Handloom Maharashtra
62 Karvath Kati Tussar Sarees And Fabrics Handloom Maharashtra
63 Chakhesang Shawls Handloom Nagaland
64 Salem Fabric Handloom Tamil Nadu
65 Warangal Durries Handloom Telangana

 

Details of GI Registered Handloom Products Logos
1 Mysore Silk (Logo) Handloom Karnataka
2 Muga Silk of Assam (Logo) Handloom Assam
3 Kullu Shawl (Logo) Handloom Himachal Pradesh
4 Navalgund Durries (Logo) Handloom Karnataka
5 Kota Doria (Logo) Handloom Rajasthan
6 Banaras Brocades and Sarees (Logo) Handloom Uttar Pradesh

 

Railway Reforms

[pib] Diamond Quadrilateral Bullet Train Network Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Diamond Quadrilateral Bullet Train Network Project

Mains level : High speed railway connectivity in India: Prospects and Challenges


Some information about the Diamond Quadrilateral Bullet Train Network Project was given by the Minister of Railways in Rajya Sabha.

Diamond Quadrilateral Bullet Train Network Project

  • In the Railway Budget 2014-15, it was announced to undertake planning of high speed rail connectivity on Diamond Quadrilateral network connecting major metros and growth centres of the country.
  • Accordingly, Ministry of Railways has undertaken feasibility studies for some routes namely Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Nagpur and Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru.
  • However, being highly capital intensive, the sanction of any High Speed Rail Project has not yet commended.
  • Till now, Government has sanctioned Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) Project with technical and financial assistance of Government of Japan.
  • This project is targetted for completion by the year 2023.

 

Note: Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail isn’t a part of this project.

Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

[pib] Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme (NAIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pashu Aadhaar

Mains level : Bovine productivity in India

The Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme (N.A.I.P) which was recently launched by PM covering 600 chosen districts including aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.

Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme

  • The NAIP is a campaign mode genetic upgradation program covering all breeds of bovines to enhance the milk production using low cost breeding technology.
  • It aims for improving genetic merit of milch animals with high quality seed.
  • The gestation period for getting the benefits from the AI bovine is approximately 3 years.

A mission mode project

  • The aim of the program is to inseminate over 1 crore bovines in 6 months.
  • The rate of Artificial Insemination is continuously increasing and has reached an average of 25,000 animals per day so far.
  • 8 Lakh Artificial Inseminations has been performed under this programme benefitting more than 3.7 lakh farmers as on 29th November, 2019.

Pashu Aadhaar

  • The NAIP also aims to ear-tag them with ‘PashuAadhaar’ which is a unique identification provided to the animals.
  • This will enable the Government to identify and track the animals uniquely with all details such as the breed, age, gender and owner details.
  • Every cow and buffalo under AI will be tagged and can be tracked through the Information Network on Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) Database.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

[pib] Exercise SURYA KIRAN – XIV

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Exercise

Mains level : India-Nepal strategic realtions

Joint military exercise ‘SURYA KIRAN – XIV’ between India and Nepal will be conducted in Nepal in the coming week.

Exercise SURYA KIRAN – XIV

  • It is an annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India.
  • It is an important exercise in terms of the security challenges faced by both the nations in the realm of changing facets of global terrorism.
  • The aim of this exercise is to conduct a Battalion level combined training between Indian Army and Nepal Army to increase interoperability in jungle warfare and counter terrorist operations in mountainous terrain, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, medical and environmental conservation including aviation aspects.
  • The joint military exercise will enhance the level of defence cooperation which will further foster the bilateral relations between the two nations.

Organ & Tissue Transplant- Policies, Technologies, etc.

[op-ed snap] Getting organ donation to tick again

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Organ Donation

Context

Organ donation day is observed with the primary objective of promoting organ donation and transplantation. This helps a number of persons suffering from organ failures, such as the kidneys and liver, as they can get a new lease of life using organs gifted by others who have lost their lives.

Undermining altruism

  • Certain negative perceptions appear to be growing and undermining the altruistic donation mindset of donor families. 
  • There is a steep drop seen in Kerala — from 76 deceased donors in 2015 to 8 in 2018.
  • This is due to a perceived scandal that private hospitals were declaring a person brain dead when they were not really so, to harvest their organs and profit from them.
  • The reasons are as below:
    • the highly privatized health-care system in India and the growing trust gap between patients and doctors in the tertiary care-seeking second and third opinion on patient treatment is commonplace today
  • Though an organ comes free, transplanting it to another person costs between ₹5 lakh and ₹25 lakh, including profit to the hospital. 
  • There will be an unavoidable suspicion that unethical practices may take place, as seen in a recently published book “Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India.”
  • A majority of accident victims who become donors are lower middle class and below. A majority of organ recipients are from the small number of persons who can afford transplant surgery and costly lifetime medication thereafter. 
  • The cost factor is the key reason why more than 3/4th of the donated hearts and lungs do not get taken.

Public hospitals cannot help

  • Very few public hospitals in the country do kidney transplants and less than five do liver and heart transplants. 
  • In a country where public spending on healthcare remains an abysmal 1.2% of GDP, priority should be on spending on areas that would benefit the greatest number of persons. 
  • A World Health Organisation Consultative Group in its 2014 report points to a study in Thailand which finds that money spent on dialysis can save 300 times more healthy life years if spent on tuberculosis control. 
  • It considers expansion of low- and medium-priority services before near-universal coverage of high priority services as an “unacceptable trade-off”.
  • It does not include dialysis or organ transplantation even in the low-priority category. 
  • If a given amount is spent on organ failure prevention, it will save many more lives than if spent on organ transplants.

Solutions

  • Regulate hospitals through acts and rules. The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 should be revisited for its effectiveness.
  • Substitution of bureaucratic procedures for hospital and transplant approval by self-declaration and mandatory sample verification involving civil society.
  • A further amendment is needed to ensure full State autonomy in this area. 
  • Avoiding the Central government’s interference in organ distribution, which is demotivating many hospitals. 
  • State organ distribution agencies need to make their operations fully transparent
  • Making online organ distribution norms and the full details on every organ donation will help build public confidence.
  • To tackle the feeling of “organs from poor to rich” moderation of the inequality in our country is needed. India figures in the top 10% of unequal countries in the world. It is among the top 10% of high proportion population spending more than 1/10th of their income on health.
  • Mandate that every third or fourth transplant done in a private hospital should be done free of cost to a public hospital patient.