North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sep, 26, 2019

[op-ed snap] After Assam NRC, troubles may visit ‘sister’ Tripura

Context

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) can negatively impact the politics and ethnic unrest alike in North-east India.

Problems with the exercise

  • Assam released a list which could make 1.9 million people stateless. A large number are Hindus. This is proving to be tricky for the government.

  • Both BJP and RSS stands on the proposal to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, would allow non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan the opportunity for naturalization by reducing residency requirements.

Tripura – a background

  • In Tripura, the matter has received focus in an unexpected manner. The largely Bengali population of Tripura, more Hindu than Muslim, are essentially not from Tripura.

  • While many are settlers for a generation or more, some are more recent arrivals.

  • Tripura was not long ago a kingdom. The Manikya kings ruled in a nearly unbroken line from the 15th century.

  • The current titular king, Pradyot, identifies himself as Tiprasa, as the province’s indigenous collective of peoples call themselves.

  • Tiprasa as an identity is more inclusive than Borok because it includes people beyond the Tripuri tribes who have immigrated over the past several centuries.

  • It’s an important nuance because this identity is distinct from Tripura’s overwhelming Bengali identity.

  • In 1949, the queen regent, Kanchan Prava Devi, Pradyot’s grandmother, signed a treaty of accession to India.

  • It stopped being Twipra, the land by the water, jettisoned the British-colonial Hill Tipperah, and emerged fully as the Sanskritized Tripura.

  • Tripura went from being majority indigenous Borok people – Tripuri, Reang, Noatia, Halam and some Meitei (Manipuri) to being majority Bengali.

  • Between 1941 and 1951 the percentage of tribal folk in Tripura dropped from a little over 53% to a little over 37%. By 1981, it had dropped below 30%. The census of 2011 showed the tribal population hovering above 30%.

The arrival of Bengalis

  • Bengalis arrived as refugees from East Pakistan as a result of communal violence years after 1946 and 1947, and wars with India, in waves of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and sometimes, hundreds of thousands.

  • In 1952, close to a quarter of a million refugees poured in.

  • Pakistan’s conflict with India over 1964–1965 drew more than a hundred thousand. Pakistan’s actions in Bangladesh in 1971 opened the floodgates. Tripura’s population of about 1.5 million at the time—already majority Bengali—swelled by a third.

  • Dainik Sangbad, a daily newspaper in Agartala, in mid-1971, estimated refugees at nearly 1.3 million. Nearly all were Bengalis.

  • Tripura took them all in, during what is called the Regency Period, when Kanchan Prava Devi ran affairs on behalf of her minor son from 1947 to Tripura’s formal accession to India in 1949.

Conclusion

The ethnic churn of Tripura’s past and present is evident now. The BJP’s ally in Tripura, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), has also demanded NRC. Pandora’s box is wide open.

Sep, 04, 2019

[op-ed snap] Assam: from the state of influx to a state of flux

CONTEXT

It’s been less than a week after the final list was released on 31 August. Uncertainty prevails over the process that could take nearly two million people stateless.

Problems

  • Though people can appeal within 120 days, a majority aren’t well-off and many live in areas away from NRC tribunals. 
  • Vast numbers of non-Muslim people out of the NRC net. Govt tried to give non-Muslim immigrants the opportunity for naturalization by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955 by reducing the residency requirements for persons belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan from 11 years to 6 years.
  • NRC and the Citizenship Bill proved a contradictory and volatile mix. NRC sought to address long-time local feelings against ‘outsiders’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ while the Citizenship Bill seemed to be a way to legitimize such migration.
  • The complexity of the issue can be understood from the Cachar area where matters of religion, language and ethnicity are incendiary.

Cachar area

  • This area wasn’t even part of Assam not too long ago. 
  • The East India Company extended its conquest of Assam in 1826 with that of Cachar six years later and merged them with the Bengal Presidency. 
  • After the administrative reorganization in the wake of the 1857 mutiny, the largely Bengali-speaking districts of Sylhet, Cachar, and Goalpara (or) Lower Assam—were merged into the new Chief Commissioner’s Province of Assam. 
  • It administratively cut off Bengali speakers from Bengal, besides isolating the Sylheti people.
  • With partition in 1947, much of Muslim-majority Sylhet went over to newly born Pakistan after a referendum except for the eastern extremity of Sylhet. 
  • The anti-Bengali violence in Assam in the 1960s following the pro-Bengali language movement in Cachar, sharpened divides. 
  • Bursts of migration from East Pakistan and later heightened pressures as well as expectations.
  • Many non-Muslim Bengalis out of the final NRC register in the Cachar area do not have the Citizenship Bill sought to provide.
Aug, 21, 2019

Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state


News

Context

  • Last week in Sikkim, 10 MLAs from the Opposition SDF defected to the BJP, adding to the political uncertainty that has loomed over since Assembly elections this year delivered a fractured mandate.
  • The current instability follows a unique event: the voting out of a government in power for the first time in Sikkim’s history.
  • Since joining India in 1975, Sikkim has seen its government changed only twice — in both cases, the government had fallen before the new one was voted in.

Departure from Monarchy

  • Before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyal rulers, and democratic rights were limited.
  • Analysts have described the current events as a departure from what has been called a “monarchic psychology”.
  • The overall trajectory has been seen as being geared towards strengthening democracy.

Sikkim under the Chogyal rulers

  • For 333 years before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyals (or kings) of the Namgyal dynasty of Tibetan descent.
  • According to one account, the first ruler, Penchu Namgyal, was installed as king by Tibetan lamas in 1642.
  • At its zenith, the Sikkim kingdom included the Chumbi valley and Darjeeling. The former is part of China now.
  • After 1706, there were a series of conflicts between the powers of the region, which included Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, resulting in a shrinking of Sikkim’s territorial boundaries.

Contact with British India

  • In 1814, Sikkim allied with the East India Company in the latter’s campaign against Nepal.
  • After the Company won, it restored to Sikkim some of the territories that Nepal had wrested from it in 1780.
  • In 1841, the Company purchased Darjeeling from the Namgyal rulers.
  • A treaty in 1861 made Sikkim a de facto protectorate of British India.
  • Subsequently, the Calcutta Convention of 1890 demarcated the border between Sikkim and Tibet, and was signed by Viceroy Lord Lansdowne and Qing China’s Imperial Associate Resident in Tibet.
  • The Lhasa Convention of 1904 affirmed the Calcutta Convention.

Sikkim becomes a Protectorate

  • After India became independent in 1947, the relationship between New Delhi and Gangtok had to be redefined.
  • In 1950, a treaty was signed between Maharaja Tashi Namgyal and India’s then Political Officer in Sikkim Harishwar Dayal.
  • The relationship between India and Sikkim was encapsulated in the clause: “Sikkim shall continue to be a Protectorate of India and, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, shall enjoy autonomy in regard to its internal affairs.”

Continued struggle in Sikkim

  • In the following decades, gaping income inequality and feudal control over key resources led to popular discontent against the Chogyal rulers.
  • In December 1947, diverse political groupings came together to form the Sikkim State Congress.
  • In 1949, the Chogyal agreed to appoint a five-member Council of Ministers, with three Congress nominees, and two of his own.
  • In 1953, the Chogyal introduced a new Constitution, and four general elections were held based on separate electorates in 1957, 1960, 1967, and 1970.
  • Plagued by distrust between the Chogyal and the Congress, none of these elections helped further democracy.

India comes in

  • Matters came to a head in 1973, when the royal palace was besieged by thousands of protesters.
  • The Chogyal was left with no choice but to ask India to send troops for his assistance.
  • Finally, a tripartite agreement was signed in the same year between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three major political parties, so that major political reforms could be introduced.

From protectorate to full state

  • In 1974, elections were held, in which the Congress led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji emerged victorious over pro-independence parties.
  • In the same year, a new constitution was adopted, which restricted the role of the Chogyal to a titular post.
  • The Chogyal resented this, and refused to deliver the customary address to the elected Assembly.
  • In the same year, India upgraded Sikkim’s status from protectorate to “associated state”, allotting to it one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chogyal was unhappy with this move, and sought to internationalize the issue. This did not go down well with Sikkim’s elected leaders, and a referendum was held in 1975.
  • A total 59,637 voted in favour of abolishing the monarchy and joining India, with only 1,496 voting against.
  • Subsequently, India’s Parliament approved an amendment to make Sikkim a full state.
Aug, 14, 2019

[pib] ‘Shillong Declaration’ on e-Governance

News

About the Shillong Declaration

  • The ‘Shillong Declaration’ on e-Governance was recently adopted.
  • The declaration has outlined the future trajectory that would be taken in terms of e-governance with a focus on improving connectivity in Northeast.

The Conference resolved that Government of India and State Governments shall collaborate to:

  1. The central government and state governments would collaborate to improve the citizens’ experience with government services.
  2. In order to do so, they would promote the timely implementation of India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA).
  3. They would also implement a single sign-on for interoperability and integration among e-Government applications throughout the country.
  4. It also resolved to consolidate the plethora of successful state-level e-Governance projects and domain-based projects with a focus to replicate them as common application software with configurable features.
  5. The declaration also stressed the need to ensure improvement in ease of living and ease of doing business by making a big shift in the role of government from Service Provider to Service Enabler.
  6. It also stressed on the need to take steps to further improve connectivity in the Northeast.
  7. Issues and challenges of telecommunication connectivity at the grassroots and formulate and implement a comprehensive telecom development plan were also addressed in the declaration.
  8. It was also resolved to improve the quality of delivery of e-Services in the Northeast to fulfil the vision of improved citizen experience.
  9. It was also resolved to develop India as a global cloud hub and facilitate the development of Government applications and databases on Cloud by default.
  10. To adopt emerging technologies for finding e-Governance solutions and to promote the Digital India Projects with focus on Smart Cities and Smart Villages through Startups and Smart Entrepreneurship were also resolved in the declaration.
Feb, 11, 2019

Government introduces Bill on northeast

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fifth and Sixth Schedules

Mains level: Development of Tribal Areas


News

  • The government has introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the NE region.
  • The Bill is introduced in the wake of protests in the region following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha.

The Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, 2019: Key Proposals

  1. The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  2. The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  3. The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  4. The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  5. At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.
  6. The amendment will impact one crore tribal people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Why in Raja Sabha?

  1. A call was taken to introduce in the Rajya Sabha so that the legislation remains alive even after the House has adjourned sine die.
  2. Introducing it in the Lok Sabha would have meant that the Bill’s life is co-terminus with that of the term of the Lok Sabha.
  3. The fate of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is uncertain as it was passed by the Lok Sabha but has to be passed by the Rajya Sabha in the current session to become a law.

Back2Basics

Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Elaborate. (150 W/ 10 M)

Feb, 11, 2019

Sela Pass Tunnel Project

Note4Students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: About the project

Mains Level: Infrastructure project in the north-east


News

  • In a key move aimed at improving all weather connectivity and enabling the swift movement of Indian troops to Arunachal Pradesh bordering China, PM laid the foundation stone for the Sela Tunnel Project.

Sela Pass Tunnel Project

  1. The tunnel covers a total distance of 12.04 kms which consist of two tunnels of 1790 metres and 475 meters.
  2. It is being built at an estimated cost of ₹687 crores by the Border Roads Organisation.
  3. It aims to provide all weather connectivity to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh — an area claimed entirely by China — and other forward areas.
  4. Once built it will cut travel time to Tawang by at least an hour for Indian troops stationed in adjoining Assam’s Tezpur town — the headquarters of the Indian army’s IV Corps.

Strategic Importance

  1. The lack of motorable roads and rail connections in India’s northeast and Arunachal Pradesh in particular were seen as distinct disadvantages for India vis a vis China in the region.
  2. Analysts had been warning of China building infrastructure including access roads right up to the Indian border that would give it a strategic advantage in any conflict with India.
  3. Once completed this would result in all weather connectivity to Tawang and forward areas and reduction in more than one hour of travelling time from Tezpur to Tawang.
Jan, 25, 2019

Cabinet decides to strengthen Northeast autonomous councils

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fifth and Sixth Schedules

Mains level: Development of Tribal Areas


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a Constitutional amendment to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 autonomous councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeast.

Highlights of the Amendments

Easing Finances

  • The Finance Commission would be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to the councils.
  • Till now, the autonomous councils have depended on grants from Central Ministries and the State governments for specific projects.

Transfer of Subjects

  • The amendment also provides for transfer of additional 30 subjects including departments of Public Works, Forests, Public Health Engineering, Health and Family Welfare, Urban Development and Food and Civil Supply to Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council in Assam.

Amendments in Schedule VI

  • The cabinet approves landmark amendment to Article 280 and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • As per the amendment, at least one third of the seats would be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.

More powers to Village Councils

  • The village councils would be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  • The State Election Commissions would hold elections to the autonomous councils, village and municipal councils in the areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. There would be a provision for anti-defection too.
  • Meghalaya has for the time being opted out of the provision for elected village and municipal councils and one-third reservation for women.

Way Forward

  • This will be a game changer, as it will substantially enhance the funds available to these local government institutions for undertaking development works in these tribal areas.
  • The proposed amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grass-roots level.
Jan, 10, 2019

Sikkim to roll out Universal Basic Income

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Inclusive growth & issues arising from it.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Universal Basic Income

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


News

  • Sikkim will be the first state to roll out Universal Basic Income (UBI) by 2022 and has started the process to introduce the unconditional direct cash transfer scheme.

Background

  1. The 2017 Economic Survey had flagged the UBI scheme as a conceptually appealing idea and a possible alternative to social welfare programmes targeted at reducing poverty.
  2. It has been tested even in India, debated within the Finance Ministry as early as 2017.
  3. It has been tried in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and tribal belts with fairly large samples and it has shown it works.

What is UBI?

  1. A UBI would mean every single individual, regardless of their identity or economic status, is guaranteed a monthly income, transferred directly into their bank account by the government every month.
  2. It has three key components: universality, unconditionality and agency – the last condition as a way to give people a choice in how to spend the transferred money.

How will it be financed?

  1. The successful implementation of the hydropower projects by Sikkim has made it a surplus power generating state.
  2. The state produces 2200 MW and it will go up to 3000 MW in the next few years.
  3. The state’s requirement is only 200-300 MW and the rest goes to power trading firms.
  4. This money will be utilized by UTI and it will be for everyone and every household.
  5. The idea is to subsume other subsidies and allowances in order to provide a particular amount every month to people.

Feasibility Check

  1. Sikkim has a literacy rate of 98 per cent and its monthly per capita expenditure in rural areas is Rs 1,444.06 and it is Rs Rs 2,538.11 for urban areas.
  2. The BPL percentage has come down from 41.43% in 1994 to 8.19% in 2011-12.
  3. The state will also restructure some social schemes and the “skewed” tax structure to find more resources.
  4. With tourism being another source of revenue for the state – the state gets around 2.5 million tourists a year –there could be some cess in future to generate additional resource to implement the scheme.

Also refer:

Should India adopt Universal Basic income Model

Dec, 29, 2018

[op-ed snap] A bridge across the Brahmaputra

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of infrastructure development in Northeast India


Context

Bogibeel bridge inaugrated

  1. Bogibeel, the longest railroad bridge of India, spanning nearly five-km across the Brahmaputra was inaugurated recently
  2. It will link Dibrugarh with North Lakhimpur district of Assam and parts of eastern Arunachal Pradesh
  3. For thousands of poor people, living in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, this is truly a momentous occasion

Why the bogibeel bridge is important?

  1. For decades, the only recourse for people to cross the Brahmaputra would be to chug along for over an hour, in a diesel-propelled ferry, which would also carry their vehicles and goods, even cattle
  2. Crossing the river could be a costlier proposition than flying between Mumbai and Goa
  3. Commissioning the bridge has reduced the journey time across the river to less than five minutes, bringing relief to people living in these remote parts

New era for northeast India

  1. The single biggest factor which has shackled the development of the Northeast region is the absence of robust connectivity
  2. A maze of river systems across Arunachal Pradesh, with their confluence in the Brahmaputra, have posed an enormous challenge
  3. The commissioning of Bogibeel, therefore, is a harbinger of hope
  4. The bridge’s significance goes well beyond the succour to local residents
  5. It has the potential to infuse economic dynamism in the region and provide opportunities for the expansion of tourism, industrial development and trade
  6. The iconic Bhupen Hazarika bridge over the Lohit river was commissioned recently
  7. A 7.5 km long bridge over the Dibang river was dedicated to the nation a few days ago
  8. The Trans Arunachal Highway has seen considerable progress, especially in the eastern part of the state
  9. An airport has been commissioned at Pasighat, barely two hours away from Dibrugarh

Dibrugarh connectivity is essential

  1. Dibrugarh is reclaiming its lost glory
  2. It used to be a thriving centre of the plantation industry during the colonial times
  3. For the people of the region, it remains a hub of higher education and medical treatment
  4. Dibrugarh lies at the heart of a crucial oil and gas axis in Assam, given its proximity to Digboi and Duliajan oilfields
  5. Further east lie the Kharsang gas fields and Kumchai oilfields of Arunachal Pradesh. The district also has significant coal deposits
  6. There are more than 200 tea factories in Dibrugarh
  7. Commissioning of the bridge has raised the prospects of industrial development and opportunities of productive employment for the youth, especially in the mining and plantation sectors

Foreign policy implications

  1. Bogibeel is the gateway to the historic Stilwell Road, which connects Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China, passing through Myanmar’s Kachin state, via Arunachal Pradesh
  2. The 1,800 km long route was used for transporting arms to the Chinese by the Americans during World War II
  3. Its revival for trade is well within grasp now
  4. The route could well become the centrepiece of the ambitious Act East Policy

Strategic importance

  1. From a strategic standpoint, movement of troops has become a much quicker, efficient and reliable proposition
  2. The road beyond Dibrugarh leads to the frontier parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with a fully functional advanced landing ground of Air Force at Walong, barely 100 km from the Chinese border
  3. This was a theatre of armed incursion in 1962. Now access to one of the remotest border outposts in Anjaw has been made much easier

Way forward

  1. Bogibeel is poised to usher winds of change in this part of the world
  2. However, the advantage of connectivity must be accompanied by an imaginative blueprint of economic development, drawing upon the region’s advantages
  3. The symbolism of Bogibeel goes well beyond the Brahmaputra
Dec, 27, 2018

[pib] North East Industrial Development Scheme

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NEID Scheme

Mains level: Development projects in the NE


News

North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017

  1. NEIDS has been launched to catalyse the industrial development in the North Eastern Region.
  2. It has come into force from 01.04.2017 and will remain in force up to 31.03.2022.
  3. It covers eligible industrial units in the manufacturing and service sectors Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
  4. The scheme provides:
  • Central Capital Investment Incentive (30% of the investment in plant & machinery with an upper limit of Rs. 5 crore),
  • Central Interest Incentive (3% interest on working capital for 5 years),
  • Central Comprehensive Insurance Incentive (Reimbursement of 100% insurance premium for 5 years),
  • Income Tax Reimbursement of centre’s share for 5 years,
  • GST reimbursement of Central Govt. share of CGST & IGST for 5 years,
  • Employment Incentive under which additional 3.67% of the employer’s contribution to EPF in addition to Govt. bearing 8.33% Employee Pension Scheme (EPS) contribution of the employer in PMRPY and
  • Transport incentive on finished goods movement by Railways (20% cost of the transportation), by Inland Waterways Authority (20% of the cost of transportation) & by air (33% of cost transportation of air freight).
  1. The Scheme does not envisage sanction of projects; rather, eligible units are registered after following due process.
Dec, 26, 2018

Government rejects separate time zone for NE States

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  IST system

Mains level: Issue of two time zones being raised by NE India receives a full stop.


News

  • A panel, formed to examine having a separate time zone for the NE States, recommended against it for “strategic reasons”.

Proposed time zones: IST-I and IST-II

  1. The custodian of Indian Standard Time (IST) proposed two time zones IST-I and IST-II for the country as follows:
  • IST-I would be same as current IST, that is, UTC +5:30
  • IST-II would be UTC +6:30 owing to the difference of one hour between eastern and western part of the country
  1. The borderline between two time zones would have been 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal.
  2. States west of this line would have followed IST-I (UTC +5:30) while states east of this line (Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands) would have followed IST-II (UTC +6:30).
  3. The implementation would require the establishment of a laboratory for ‘Primary Time Ensemble II’ generating IST-II in any of the north-eastern states, which would be equivalent to the existing ‘Primary Time Ensemble-I’ at CSIR-NPL, New Delhi.

Need for two time zones

  1. India extends from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, with the spread of 29 degrees, which amounts to almost two-hours from the geographical perspective.
  2. For decades, legislators, activists, industrialists and ordinary citizens from India’s northeast have complained about the effect of IST on their lives.

Following are the factors which compelled the people from northeast to demand a different time zone:

1. Loss of daylight hours and excess electricity usage

  • Since the sun rises as early as four in the morning and in winter it sets by four in the evening, the region loses most of its daytime hours before the government offices and schools are opened.
  • This ends up with more electricity usage.
  • A different time zone would allow sunsets to take place later, allowing the citizens to better use their daylight hours.
  • A study done by Bengaluru based National Institute of Advanced Studies concluded that a separate time zone for the northeastern region could help in saving 2.7 billion units of electricity every year.

2. Effect on biological clocks of citizens

  • The longitudinal extremes of the country are assigned a single time zone which not only creates the loss of daylight hours but also creates problems relating to the biological clock.
  • The biological clock is so active that when we move from one time zone to another, it forces us to sleep at an unusual time.
  • This is commonly known as jetlag and it requires few days to resynchronize our biological clock with the local solar timings.

No need for separate Time Zone

What are the strategic reasons?

  1. The other countries that have multiple times zones in single land mass, the population density is much less compared to India.
  2. The NE is hung with mainland of India through the narrow chicken’s neck.
  3. But in India, any border between separated time zones will run through densely populated areas, creating huge chaos.
  4. Separate time zones will mean separate schedules for same trains, flights that criss-cross the country on a daily basis.
  5. Moreover, the administration in India is not known for its efficiency.

Easy Solutions against separate time zone

  1. Although India has a single time zone, it does not mean that everyone has to follow the same routine/ work shifts.
  2. The regions in the east can start and end their work day one or two hours earlier, and get all the benefits of having a separate time zone, without the chaos associated with it.
  3. Individual organisations, companies, factories, educational institutions, public sector units, state governments can fix work hours based on their geographic location.
  4. For example, an office in Kolkata can have a workday of 8 to 4, there is no bar on doing so.

Best Example

  1. In Assam, the tea gardens follow a different time zone, known as Tea Garden Time or Bagan Time which is one hour ahead of IST.
  2. Most tea gardens in the organised sector in Assam start their workday at around 7 AM.
  3. Even the administrative offices of public sector companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam start working at 7 AM.
  4. As long as total work hours do not exceed prescribed limits set by labour laws, there is no bar on the private sector to fix their own work timings.
  5. Likewise, several colleges in Assam start their classes at 7 AM, or even before that.

Electricity: Not a big deal

  1. While talking about the benefit of separate time zone, it is said that there will be huge savings in money due to better utilisation of daylight.
  2. In the analysis of estimated savings, the entire power bill of an organisation is taken into account.
  3. But that is the wrong approach to estimate that, because the light is not the only purpose that uses electricity, it is not even the largest user.
  4. In fact, with the advent of LED lights, the lighting takes a minuscule amount of power in a house.
  5. Most power is consumed in cooling, running computers and other equipment etc, and those uses will remain fixed no matter what the work timings are.

Global examples are misleading

  1. There is a misleading information about countries like France has 12 time zones, and Britain has 9 time zones.
  2. France and Great Britain has only one time zone each.
  3. But as both the countries have several overseas territories, a legacy of colonies they had in past, those territories have separate time zones according to their geographic locations.
  4. Those are separate land masses located at different continents, most of them being islands at oceans, hence they do not suffer from any problem that India might face with multiple time zones.

Back2Basics

Biological / Circadian Clock

  1. The 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young for their research which elucidated that plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with Earth’s revolution.
  2. They established that biological species are ruled by internal clocks (biological clocks) that run on a 24-h light-dark cycle in synchronization with the sun.
  3. Due to this synchronization humans fall asleep at night and plants synthesize chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight.
  4. This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in the morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 pm).

With inputs from: India Today

Dec, 11, 2018

India's tallest bridge pier built in Manipur

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Noney Bridge and its details

Mains level: Development projects in the NE


News

  • The Northeast Frontier Railway Construction Organization has constructed India’s tallest pier as part of the project to build a railway bridge at Noney in Manipur.
  • The proposed bridge will be the world’s tallest railway bridge.

Noney Bridge

  1. The bridge is being constructed across the valley of river Ijai near Noney, with the height of the final pier being 141 metres.
  2. On completion, the bridge will surpass the existing world record, held by the 139-metre Mala-Rijeka viaduct in Montenegro.
  3. The total length of the Noney bridge will be 703 metres.
  4. The bridge is a part of the 111-km Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new broad gauge line project, a national project which is set to be completed by 2022.
  5. The project also includes 45 tunnels, the longest being 10.28 km, which will be the longest railway tunnel of the northeast.
Oct, 27, 2018

[pib] 'Experiencing North East’ festival

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Experiencing North East festival

Mains level: Tourism promoting initiatives for North-Eastern Region


News

Context

  • The ‘Experiencing North East’ festival depicting the uniqueness of North Eastern culture is being organised 27th-31st October, 2018.

‘Experiencing North East’ Festival

  1. The festival, a part of Destination North East series, is being organised by North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) in collaboration with India International Centre.
  2. The festival will showcase the vibrant strengths of North East India and display its art, handicraft, handlooms, tourism, food, culture etc.
  3. There will be special performances daily by eminent cultural troupes, bands and artistes from North East, including Nise Meruno, classical pianist and vocalist.
  4. The event which is a part of ‘Destination North East’ series aims at showcasing the diverse culture and heritage of North East all under one roof.
Oct, 24, 2018

India, Myanmar sign MoU towards Sittwe Port operationalization

Note4Students:

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Kaladan Project

Mains Level: Importance of Kaladan Project


News

Kaladan Project: A step closer

  1. India and Myanmar signed a MoU for the appointment of a private Port Operator for the Operation and Maintenance of Sittwe Port, Paletwa Inland Water Terminal and associated facilities.
  2. All these facilities are included in the Kaladan Multi Model Transit Transport Project in implementation of India’s Act East Policy.

Importance of the move

  1. Following this MoU the process of identifying bidders to maintain these facilities will be initiated by floating a request for proposal.
  2. The commencement of operations at this port, it would offer new infrastructure for trade including between India and Myanmar.
  3. It would thereby contribute to job creation and development in the whole region, particularly in the Rakhine and Chin States of Myanmar.

Back2Basics

Kaladan Project

  1. The project is aimed to connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea.
  2. The project includes a waterway component of 158 km on Kaladan River from Sittwe to Paletwa in Myanmar and a road component of 109 km from Paletwa to Zorinpui along the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram.
  3. Originally, the project was scheduled to be completed by 2014, but is expected to be operational only by 2019-2020.
  4. All components of the project, including Sittwe port and power, river dredging, Paletwa jetty, have been completed, except the under construction Zorinpui-Paletwaa road.
  5. This project will reduce distance from Kolkata to Sittwe by approximately 1328 km and will reduce the need to transport good through the narrow Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck.
Oct, 22, 2018

20km Assam bridge to be India's longest

Note4Students:

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: remember the name of the bridge, and its location, river, etc. Also note down the advantages of this bridge.

Mains Level: Infrastructure project in the north-east


News

Dhubri- Phulbari Bridge

  1. India’s longest river bridge will be built across the Brahmaputra, connecting Dhubri in Assam to Phulbari in Meghalaya, and will cut road travel by 203km as also travel time.
  2. The 19.3km, four-lane bridge will be built by 2026-27.
  3. The construction of any bridge across the Brahmaputra takes time since construction work can be carried out only for six months in a year.
  4. It will be built by the government’s highway construction wing, the National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation Ltd.
  5. Japanese funding agency JICA has approved a loan for this project as a part of a road infrastructure improvement package in the north-east.

Benefits of the bridge

  1. The new bridge will complete the missing link of NH127B from Assam to Meghalaya. Currently, small boats run between Dhubri and Phulbari.
  2. It takes about two and a half hours to cross the river. It will hardly take 15-20 minutes to cross the river after the bridge becomes operational.
  3. It will push economic activities and development on both sides of the river.

Back2Basics

India’s longest bridges

19.3 km

  • The proposed new bridge, between Dhubri and Phulbari.
  • At present, people cross the river either in small boats and by vehicles that have to take a detour of 100 km before climbing the Naranarayan bridge.

9.15 km

  • The country’s longest river bridge, as of now.
  • Between Dhola and Sadiya in Assam, it extends to 28.50 km if the approach roads on either side are included.
  • It reduces the distance from Rupai (Assam) to Roing (Arunachal Pradesh) by 165 km, and travel time from 6 hours to 1 hour.

6.2 km

  • In Arunachal Pradesh, over the river Dibang, opened this year.
  • Second only to Dhola-Sadiya bridge so far.

5.75 km

  • Patna-Hajipur, over the Ganga, next on the list of river bridges

5.6 km

  • Bandra Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, longest bridge over sea

4.94 km

  • To be opened this year, India’s longest rail-cum-road river bridge (the river bridges above are all road).
  • This bridge, too, will be over the Brahmaputra, connecting Dibrugarh (Assam) to Pasighat (Arunachal).
Oct, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] Lost in time

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Time zones

Mains level: Need of 2 time zones in India and hurdles in having it


Context

A new report advocating 2 time zones in India

  1. There is a request to change the temporal modalities of the Indian nation-state from its official time-keeper
  2. Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) have now argued that IST should be done away with at the Chicken’s Neck

Impact of 2 time zones

  1. Northeast India would move an hour ahead, increasing the region’s productive, daylight hours and the country’s potential energy savings could amount to a whopping 20 million kWh a year
  2. Offices could open sooner after sunrise, and perhaps workers could even savour the last dregs of dusk as they trudge towards home or their desired form of recreation
  3. Biomedical research has consistently pointed to the physical and psychological benefits of aligning circadian (sleep) rhythms to the sun’s rising and setting

Hurdles in implementation

  1. A long-standing argument against doing away with IST has been it would confuse the railway infrastructure
  2. In a country with so many diversities to amalgamate into a proverbial unity, asking the people of the Northeast to wake up an hour earlier might lead to yet another point of difference

Way forward

  1. Indian Standard Time (IST) disregards longitudinal reality — from east to west, there is “actually” a two-hour difference — which results in a significant loss of daylight hours in the eastern parts of the country
  2. A refreshing, if antediluvian, idea accompanies the notion of two time zones
Oct, 19, 2018

Should India have two time zones? National timekeeper adds new arguments

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Latitude and longitudes, IST system

Mains level: Demand of two time zones being raised by northeast India and weight behind it


Context

Debate over 2 time zones

  1. Over the years, various citizens and political leaders have debated whether India should have two separate time zones
  2. The demand is based on the huge difference in daylight times between the country’s longitudinal extremes, and the costs associated with following the same time zone
  3. Opposition to the idea is based on impracticability — particularly the risk of railway accidents, given the need to reset times at every crossing from one time zone into another

New research suggests 2 time zones

  1. Now, a proposal for two time zones has come from India’s national timekeeper itself
  2. Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), which maintains Indian Standard Time, have published a research article describing the necessity of two time zones, with the new one an hour ahead of the existing time zone

Why have 2 time zones?

  1. India extends from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, with the spread of 29° representing almost two hours from the geographic perspective
  2. This has led to the argument that early sunrise in the easternmost parts — the Northeast — causes the loss of many daylight hours by the time offices or educational institutions open and that early sunset, for its part, leads to higher consumption of electricity
  3. Research identifies where the two time zones can be demarcated from each other — at the “chicken neck” that connects the Northeast to the rest of India, an area that is spatially narrow and reduces the possibility of railway accidents
  4. As the railway signals have not yet been fully automated in the country, the border between the two time zones should have a very narrow spatial-width with the minimum number of train stations so that the train timings while crossing the border can be managed manually without any untoward incidents
  5. The article also puts a figure to the country’s potential savings in energy consumption — 20 million kWh a year — if it does follow two time zones
  6. Synchronising office hours — as well as biological activities — to sunrise and sunset timings is important

The new system of time zones

  1. The research paper proposes to call the two time zones IST-I (UTC + 5.30 h) and IST-II (UTC + 6.30 h)
  2. The proposed line of demarcation is at 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal
  3. States west of the line would continue to follow IST (to be called IST-I). States east of the line — Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands —would follow IST-II

Global & Indian standard time

  1. The geographic “zero line” runs through Greenwich, London
  2. It identifies GMT, now known as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), which is maintained by the Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in France
  3. Indian Standard Time, maintained by CSIR-NPL, is based on a line of longitude that runs through Mirzapur in UP
  4. At 82°33’E, the line is 82.5° east of Greenwich, or 5.5 hours (5 hours 30 minutes) ahead of UCT
Aug, 14, 2018

Vision Document for Digital North-East 2022 released

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Vision Document

Mains level: Development initiatives for North-Eastern Region


News

Context

  1. Union IT Minister released the ‘Vision Document’ for a digital North East by 2022 that aims to enhance peoples’ lives by capacity building of government staff and doubling BPO (business process outsourcing) strength in the region
  2. The Vision Document aims to empower the people of the North Eastern region and state-wise roadmaps have been developed for implementing digital initiatives.

Particulars of Vision Document

  1. The document emphasises leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the North East and enhance the ease of living
  2. A cloud hub for NE will be created in Guwahati and capacity building for 50,000 government staff will be taken up in using digital technologies, including Goods and Services Tax and payment platforms
  3. The number of seats planned for BPOs in the NE states will be doubled to 10,000 from 5,000, while the network of common service centres will be expanded to cover all villages
  4. High-speed broadband connectivity in all the uncovered villages in the NE region shall be provided.

Focus on 8 thrust areas

The document identifies eight digital thrust areas

  • digital infrastructure
  • digital services
  • digital empowerment
  • promotion of electronics manufacturing
  • promotion of IT and IT-enabled services including BPOs
  • digital payments
  • innovation & startups, and
  • cybersecurity
Jun, 14, 2018

[pib] Cabinet approves Repositioning of North Eastern Council

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NEC

Mains level: Development of North Eastern Region


News

  1. The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM has approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).
  2. It held the nomination of Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC) – a statutory body with Governors and Chief Ministers of all the eight North Eastern States as its Member.
  3. The Cabinet also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.

Impact of  this Restructuring

  1. NEC implements various projects through the State and Central agencies.
  2. This change would provide a forum for discussing inter-state matters more comprehensively and also consider common approaches to be taken in future.
  3. NEC can now also perform the tasks undertaken by the various Zonal Councils to discuss such inter-State issues as drug trafficking, smuggling of arms and ammunition, boundary disputes etc.

Back2Basics

North Eastern Council

  1. North Eastern Council (NEC) was constituted as a statutory advisory body under the NEC Act 1971 and came into being on the 7th November 1972 at Shillong.
  2. NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971 as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.
  3. Sikkim was added to the council in the year 2002
  4. Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern
  5. While formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states.
  6. In case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that
May, 08, 2018

Sikkim House expansion likely to get Home Ministry nod

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Representation of People Act, 1950

Mains level: Various tribal groups in the northeast and their representation in the state assembly as well as parliament


News

Increase in assembly seats

  1. The Ministry of Home Affairs is all set to move a proposal before the Union Cabinet to increase the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40
  2. This would be the first expansion of seats since Sikkim was merged with India in 1975

Process for an increase in seats

  1. The cabinet proposal will include amendments to the Second Schedule to the Representation of People Act, 1950

Reservation of seats

  1. The proposal to expand the House is likely to benefit the Limboo and Tamang communities
  2. They were notified as Scheduled Tribes in 2002
  3. The existing reservations for Bhutias, Lepchas, Scheduled Castes and Sanghas will be retained
Apr, 24, 2018

AFSPA revoked in Meghalaya, parts of Arunachal

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges & their management in border areas

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Protected Area Permit (PAP)

Mains level: Security situation in North-East and ways to improve it


News

Reducing AFSPA expanse

  1. The Centre has revoked The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya since April 1
  2. Earlier the AFSPA was effective in 20 km area along the Assam-Meghalaya border
  3. In Arunachal Pradesh, the impact of AFSPA was reduced to eight police stations instead of 16 police stations and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam

Relaxing the Protected Area Permit (PAP)

  1. The Ministry has also relaxed the Protected Area Permit (PAP) for foreigners visiting Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland
  2. The PAP will be valid for five years, but residents from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China will not be allowed to visit these areas

AFSPA applicability

  1. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Tripura withdrew AFSPA in 2015
Mar, 26, 2018

Centre to ease access to border areas with an eye on tourism

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges & their management in border areas

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Protected Area Permit

Mains level: Measures being taken for mainstreaming northeast India


News

Protected Area Permit (PAP) regime to be eased

  1. The Centre is set to relax the Protected Area Permit (PAP) regime to enable foreign tourists to access border areas
  2. The move follows several requests from the border States of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Manipur and also the Tourism Ministry

Back2Basics

Protected Area Permit (PAP)

  1. Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the ‘Inner line’ and the International Border of the State have been declared as a ‘Protected Area’
  2. This is applicable to all of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand
  3. Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who wants to enter and stay in a Protected Area, is required to get a special permit
  4. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are not issued the permit without the Home Ministry’s approval
Mar, 22, 2018

Govt says no decision made yet on separate time zones in India

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Time zones

Mains level: Demand for two time zones in India and its feasibility


News

Different time zones not possible

  1. The government said it has not made any decision on the demands for separate time zones in the country, especially by the northeastern states
  2. The government had set up a high-level committee in 2002 that had not recommended implementation of two-time zones in India because of complexities involved in the process

Why demand for different time zone?

  1. In a vast country like India, the sunrise and sunset timings are different in the east, west and north India
  2. In the far northeastern states, the sun rises and sets early when compared to northern and western regions of the country
  3. Having a single time zone hampers productivity in east and northeastern states

Global examples

  1. Several countries across the world have opted for multiple time zones for varied reasons, including increasing economic activity and productivity
  2. The US has seven time zones, Russia has 11, while China, like India, follows a single time zone
Feb, 14, 2018

Logistics hub to turn Assam’s Jogighopa into India’s new gateway to South-East Asia

Image source

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jogighopa multimodal logistics park, special purpose vehicle, Asian Development Bank, Northeast Economic Corridor, Bharatmala programme, Logistic Performance Index

Mains level: Much needed infrastructure boost in northeast


News

Multimodal logistics park in Jogighopa

  1. Jogighopa, a small town in Assam, is set to become India’s gateway to South-East Asia as well as the rest of the North-East
  2. The road ministry is gearing up to develop a multimodal logistics park (MMLP) there with road, rail, waterways and air transport facilities

Execution of project

  1. A special purpose vehicle, backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be created to execute the project
  2. Under the project, all four types of transportation—road, rail, air and waterways—will be available

Initiatives to make alternatives to ‘chicken’s neck’

  1. The current transit corridors from mainland India to the North-East region pass through an area known as the “Chicken’s Neck”
  2. It is a narrow tract of land in India between the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan
  3. The North-East region requires an alternative route for providing connectivity to the rest of India—a route with adequate expansion potential
  4. Recent developments like the announcement of the Northeast Economic Corridor under the Bharatmala programme of the road ministry aims to make more routes available
  5. The signing of the MoU (memorandum of understanding) between India and Bangladesh for developing the Dalu-Tura-Goalpara-Gelephu multimodal trade route will also help

Logistics sector: Rising importance

  1. Since last year the government has started prioritizing the logistics sector by granting it infrastructure status
  2. The Logistic Performance Index published by the World Bank shows India jumping 19 spots in the global ranking from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016
Dec, 18, 2017

[pib] Cabinet approves continuation of NLCPR scheme for North East till March 2020

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NLCPR, NESIDS scheme

Mains level: Development efforts for North-east India


News:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of the existing Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme
  • The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of new Central Sector Scheme of “North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from the Central Government to fill up the gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors

Features of NESIDS

  • Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and especially the projects promoting tourism
  • The infrastructure of social sectors of education and health will be created

Benefits of NESIDS:

  • The assets to be created under the new scheme of NESIDS will not only strengthen health care and education facilities in the region but will also encourage tourism thereby the employment opportunities for local youth.
  • The scheme will act as a catalyst for overall development of the region in the years to come
Aug, 13, 2016

Centre, NSCN-IM issue joint statement on Naga talks

  1. News: The Centre and the NSCN-IM issued a joint statement saying they were closer than ever before to the final settlement and hope to conclude it sooner than later
  2. Right direction: The peace dialogue has become more purposeful, less ritualistic and far more frequent & in the last two years there were more meetings than all the years before
  3. Background: Almost a year back, the framework agreement on Naga peace talks was finalised between Govt and NSCN-IM
  4. The signing of the framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations that spanned 18 years with first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed
Aug, 04, 2016

What is Ceasefire monitoring group?

  1. CMG was created in 2001 to formalise a permanent peace accord with Naga groups
  2. The various factions of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) have been a problem for North East India’s stability
  3. Aim of CMG: Creating an atmosphere for a political negotiation to end the decades-old insurgency problem in the border state
  4. News: For the first time a police officer (Former DG of BSF D.K. Pathak) has been appointed to the post of chairman of CMG
Jul, 28, 2016

India asks Myanmar to act against NSCN-K leaders

  1. Context: Myanmar based NSCN-K violated the ceasefire agreement with the India in March 2015
  2. Background: Indian army’s special forces had launched an attack on insurgent camps 20 km inside Myanmar last year after they infiltrated parts of India
  3. Since India and Myanmar do not have an extradition treaty, we cannot ask Myanmar to hand over the leaders
Jul, 08, 2016

NSCN has not given up on sovereignty

  1. News: Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), told that the outfit had not given up its demand for sovereignty
  2. In contrast with what the Minister of State for Home told last year – that the NSCN (I-M) had given up its demand for sovereignty and wants a Constitutional solution
  3. Muivah also said that a separate flag and passport for Nagas was not just a ‘demand’ but a right as the ‘Nagas were never under Indian rule’
  4. Background: NSCN (I-M) had signed a framework agreement with the government last year, to find a final solution to the Naga issue
Jun, 25, 2016

Time frame for final Naga accord

  1. News: Government is not sure of giving a timeframe for the Naga framework agreement
  2. The insurgent group may have also gone back on its demand for full sovereignty
  3. Background: Naga framework agreement was signed between the government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) [NSCN-IM] in Aug 2015
  4. Context: Claim made by the NSCN-IM recently that the government had accepted its demand for a separate passport and flag
Jan, 14, 2016

Northeast capitals to get rail link by 2020

  1. Govt. said that the north-eastern State capitals would be connected by rail by 2020 and Agartala would get broad gauge facility by March.
  2. Govt. has accorded priority to the development of the north-eastern region, though taking the rails to hilly areas is a major challenge.
  3. Govt. is constructing 15-km railway track connecting Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh with top priority.
  4. This project is funded by the Centre for connecting Tripura and West Bengal via Bangladesh.
Dec, 19, 2015

It was a ‘framework pact’ with NSCN (IM)

  1. Union Home Minister referred the accord as a “framework agreement” and said it would help in resolving the Naga problem.
  2. The agreement between Govt. of India and NSCN(IM) was signed in August 2015.
  3. Govt. has denied referring it as peace accord and the minor details are still being worked out.
  4. The two parties have agreed on the basic fundamental ground on which the accord would be signed.
Nov, 26, 2015

Chetia has given support to peace talks: Rajkhowa

  1. ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia has given his support to the ongoing peace talks between the banned outfit and the Centre.
  2. The ULFA central committee had demanded that Chetia be included in the peace talks.
  3. Even, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi wants that Anup Chetia should be associated with the peace talks.
Nov, 19, 2015

Centre sets up panel to review Garo Hills security

The Centre informed the Meghalaya HC that a committee has been set up to review the security situation in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills districts.

  1. Earlier, the HC issued an order directing the Centre to consider the use of the AFSPA and deployment of armed and paramilitary forces.
  2. HC wanted to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the Garo Hills.
  3. The committee will review the security situation in the Garo Hills and on the India-Bangladesh border (in Meghalaya).
Nov, 10, 2015

NSCN factions making inroads in Arunachal

  1. The framework peace agreement signed by the NDA govt. with the NSCN(IM) is haunting the govt. again!
  2. Two other factions — the Khole-Kitovi and Reformation — were not part of the initiative.
  3. Recently, MHA has extended the imposition of the AFSPA in 3 districts of Arunachal Pradesh by another 6 months as these two breakaway factions were making inroads in the State.
  4. NSCN(K) is gaining foothold in parts of Longding district and the NSCN(R) is aiming areas which were hitherto dominated by NSCN(IM) and NSCN(K).

 

Seems like one of the pertinent issue here is the multiplicity of factions!

Oct, 07, 2015

Security agencies suspect NSCN (I-M) is regrouping

  1. A series of developments raises serious concern about the security situation in the region, especially in Manipur.
  2. Reports of extortion, arms and drugs smuggling have registered a rising trend.
  3. The outfit has seems to have setup new camps in the hills of Manipur to accommodate fresh cadres recruited since the peace accord.
Sep, 09, 2015

Bridging the North-East for Act East

Can Northeast become economic hub of India? What factors promote or prevent from that happening?

Southeast Asia and East Asia have become the most dynamic components of India’s external economic relations.

  1. Geography wise – The region shares more than 4,500 km of international border, imparts a critical role to India’s Northeast in the pursuit of any plan to foster economic integration with both South and Southeast Asian neighbours.
  2. These land borders also become important for ensuring border security and maintaining peace and tranquility.
  3. The Northeast is connected to the rest of India through the narrow Siliguri corridor quite appropriately called the “Chicken’s Neck.”
  4. The first need to improve connectivity between the Northeast and the rest of India; the second would be to enhance connectivity within the Northeast itself and the third would be to establish new cross-border transport and communication links with neighbours.
  5. There has to be a master plan for linking all the Northeastern states together with a network of road, rail and air links.
  6. Northeast connectivity has not been given much attention so far, but without progress in this category, the Act East policy would not bring economic benefits to the region.
  7. Cross-border connectivity needs to be focus. There is an ambitious Trilateral Highway Project to link India, Myanmar and Thailand, with possible extensions to Laos and Vietnam.
  8. Economic integration with larger East Asia such as through the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor would then be possible on more equal terms.

If all these comes into real picture, then economically vibrant sub-regional economic zone would emerge, with the Northeast as its hub.

Aug, 27, 2015

The fractious demand for ILP in Manipur

  1. Manipur is demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit(ILP) in the state.
  2. If ILP bill is passed and enacted into law, it will require outsiders to obtain a special pass or permit to enter the state.
  3. System is already in force in the state of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
  4. Since Manipur is not officially a tribal State there are constitutional challenges to implement the ILP System.
  5. Among 3 major communities of Manipur – Meities, Kukis, Nagas, the ILP System is demanded by Meties.
  6. The govt. could implement the 6th Schedule in the hill areas which would ensure autonomy for the Kukis and Nagas in their respective regions within Manipur.
Aug, 10, 2015

Peace pact only a formula to a final accord, says Nagaland CM

  1. The agreement evoked serious responses from CM’s of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh about their territorial integrity.
  2. Nagaland CM promised to meet the neighbouring CMs to remove their apprehensions.
  3. A 16-member Naga delegation would visit Myanmar to meet S.S. Khaplang, the chief of the NSCN(K) to discuss the agreement.
  4. Naga customary system and landholding system needs to be respected based on the unique history of Nagas across Naga-inhabited areas of the Northeast.
Aug, 07, 2015

Assam, Manipur, Arunachal CMs still in the dark on Naga accord

  1. Union govt. did not keep the CMs of the neighbouring states in loop and neither informed them about framework agreement.
  2. Centre was ready to give autonomous councils to the Naga-dominated population in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
  3. The CMs opposed the idea of creating autonomous councils in their states and refused to accept any kind of law imposed from outside.
Aug, 06, 2015

Autonomous councils key to Naga deal success

  1. The creation of autonomous councils for Naga people outside Nagaland is under consideration by the Union govt.
  2. These are locally appointed governments that already function in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.
  3. Their creation is likely to be met with stiff resistance from the neighbouring states, where the migrant Naga population lives.

 

Evaluate the usefulness of this policy maneuver [Creation of autonomous councils] in India’s political and governance history.

Aug, 05, 2015

Breakthrough in Nagaland

  1. The landmark deal leaves some smaller groups such as Khole-Kitovi and the reformation factions, out of decisive phases of the peace process.
  2. NSCN(K) is already hostile about engagement and is building alliance with other small insurgent groups.
  3. Govt. needs to take into account that several players of insurgency are not yet taken on board.
  4. The agreements should be built upon by involving all the stakeholders viz. other groups, Naga civil society and representatives of neighbouring states.
  5. The challenge for the govt. is to provide Naga sense of identity without acceding the claims on territories of other states.
Aug, 05, 2015

Autonomous councils for Nagas key to deal success

  1. Autonomous councils for Nagas outside Nagaland is under consideration although redrawing of state boundaries is not on cards.
  2. A similar peace accord failed in 2011 when States with a sizeable Naga population of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh opposed such councils.
  3. Autonomous councils are locally appointed Govts. that operate in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, West Bengal and J&K.
Aug, 04, 2015

Centre inks peace accord with Naga insurgent group

  1. Govt. has signed a peace accord with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muviah) – one of the largest insurgent outfits in the North East.
  2. They have been demanding a unified Naga identity and a separate state of Nagalism for past six decades.
  3. However, there is no clarity on the Sovereignty clause and the details of accord have not yet been made public.
Jul, 16, 2015

Controversial Bill on migrants goes

  1. A special session of the Manipur Assembly on Wednesday withdrew the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015.
  2. The Bill did not provide for same protections as Inner Line Permit system and the Meitis community – the most powerful community – demanded regulation of outsiders to maintain their grip on power.
Jul, 14, 2015

Protests continue to rock Manipur

  1. Fearing they will become minority in their own state if ILP is not implemented, locals launched a campaign to get it implemented.
  2. Inner Line Permit is currently in operation in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and is a system making it mandatory for Indian citizens to seek permission for entering the State.
Jul, 12, 2015

Rajnath for cut in Central forces in North East. Why?

  1. Citing that the insurgencies in the region were at all time low and state police forces were strengthened, HM urged CMs to realistically decrease deployment of central forces in their states.
  2. This will make the environment easy and encourage positive thinking of outsiders about this region.
Jun, 18, 2015

[op-ed snap] The tortuous road to Naga peace

The publicity that surrounds the success of India’s ‘cross-border’ strike against rebels in Myanmar cannot hide the fact that the real failure of Indian intelligence was not in predicting the possible spot of the ambush but in anticipating the emergence of a rebel coalition in the jungles of Myanmar.

Quick recap of the history:

  1. In 1997, civil society organisations brokered a ceasefire agreement between Govt. of India and NSCN (Isaac-Muivah), which was later joined by Khaplang faction in 2001.
  2. Govt. later discontinued the negotiations with NSCN (Khaplang) owing to his Myanmarese origin, strategically separating it.
  3. Khaplang signed a ceasefire agreement with Myanmar in 2012, allowing him to roam freely in the territory.
  4. Many critics of the Indian decision-making process have suggested that very limited success has been achieved by the ceasefire and so the GoI is trying to wear these rebels down.
  5. There are so many splinter groups that brokering peace with one/ some leads to fallout with others and they rise up waging a war again.

 

Jun, 14, 2015

[op-ed snap] Governments don’t sing about covert operations

India’s security challenge is complex. But its strategic communication, official and unofficial, needs a lot more maturity. We have an uncanny ability to cast shadows over our own achievements.

And as the great Atal Bihari Vajpayee — no stranger to covert operations and cross-border engagement — said: Kahani shuru toh sab ko karni aati hai, khatam kaise karenge kisi ko nahi pata (everyone knows how to start something, but no one knows how to end it).

Jun, 12, 2015

[cd explains] Manipur Ambush: Tracing the Roots

 

Jun, 09, 2015

[op-ed snap] Manipur ambush: Why the attack?

  1. NSCN(K) along with KCP and KYKL claimed responsibility for 4th June attack on 6 Dogra regiment killing 18 army personnel.
  2. The Myanmar-based NSCN(K) pulled out of the ceasefire agreement with Indian govt. in March,2015.
  3. The deeper story points to its rift with the NSCN (IM), the rival outfit on which the Indian government has focused its attention in recent years.
  4. Despite being based in Myanmar, the NSCN (K)’s sphere of influence and strike capability extended deep inside India.
  5. Funding for NSCN(K) is sourced from extraction rackets and drugs trade across the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and India.
  6. These movements continue to survive for over 50 years, due to great deal of support and public sympathy, despite growing disillusionment with ‘liberation movements’ in Manipur.
Jun, 06, 2015

[op-ed snap] Manipur: Waiting to happen

  1. Reactive measures have never achieved lasting results in tackling insurgency in the Northeast.
  2. Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) continue to operate out of Myanmar to carry-out violence in N-E states, which makes the case for Myanmar’s cooperation to ensure border security.
  3. This issue has been discussed at various high-level interactions, but IIGs continue to use Myanmar territory, despite Myanmar’s repeated assurances not to allow activities inimical to India.
  4. The solution to problem of militancy in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam lies in joint operation with the Indian security forces stationed on the Indo-Myanmar border.
  5. Myanmar fell short of India’s expectation to ensure peace along the border, due to its deliberations on country-wide ceasefire with ethnic groups, including NSCN(K).
Jun, 05, 2015

20 soldiers killed in Manipur militant ambush

  1. Insurgents ambushed a military convoy killing at least 20 Army personnel.
  2. Naga insurgent outfit NSCN (Khaplang) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
  3. The NSCN (K) had withdrawn from the ceasefire arrangement with New Delhi in March.
  4. The SS Khaplang-led Naga NSCN (K) is based in Myanmar and is closely tied to the Meitei insurgent groups.
  5. Although there are several militant outfits in Manipur, most of them operate under the NSCN’s shadow, particularly in Naga-dominated areas like Chandel.
Dec, 31, 2014

Where armed insurgents roam about freely

  1. The ceasefire agreement with NSCN puts restriction on movement outside camps, prohibition on acquiring any new arms and refraining from extortions and intimidation.
  2. The agreement makes these cadres eligible for remuneration from govt.
  3. The free movement of insurgent cadres had created an atmosphere of fear amongst civilians, who are later forced to offer support to them.
  4. The ceasefire ensures that there will be no state operation against these armed groups.
  5. The solution lies in raising a common Northeast law enforcement force for monitoring internal cross border ‘ceasefire signatory’ insurgencies.
  6. The monitoring and supervision of the ceasefire camps should be carried out on a monthly basis, which includes updated data of cadres, weapons and illegal activities.
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