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Explained: Significance of computing GDP

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDP, GNP

Mains level : National income accounting


News

  • With the upsetting news of a secular decline in India’s GDP growth rate, the government has offered several arguments to either say the picture is not as bleak as it is being made out to be.
  • This has questioned the merit of the basic variable, GDP used to map economic growth.

What is GDP?

  • GDP measures the monetary value of all goods and services produced within the domestic boundaries of a country within a timeframe (generally, a year).
  • It is slightly different from the other commonly used statistic for national income — the GNP.
  • The Gross National Product (GNP) measures the monetary value of all goods and services by the people and companies of a country regardless of where this value was created.
  • For example, if Apple manufactures its mobile phone worth $1 million within India, then this $1 million will be counted in India’s GDP and US’ GNP.
  • On the other hand, if the US office of Infosys created software worth $1 million, then it will be counted in US’ GDP and India’s GNP. It is the domestic boundary that distinguishes the GDP.

Its creation

  • The modern-day definitions of GDP and GNP can indeed be traced back to Simon Kuznets, who was entrusted with the task of creating National Accounts in 1933 by then US President Franklin D Roosevelt.
  • Kuznets’ team travelled the length and breadth of the USA asking farmers and factory managers what and how much they had produced and what they had purchased in order to make their final product.
  • The final report, National Income, 1929-32, was presented to the US Congress in January 1934.
  • However, the origins of GDP as a concept date far back. Indeed, the man credited with inventing the concept is William Petty (1623-1687), an Englishman who was a professor of anatomy at Brasenose College.
  • Petty’s quest started when he received an estate in Ireland. To figure out how much did it value, Petty attempted to account for the benefits from the estate and find an appropriate “present value” of the estate.
  • Later on, he applied his approach to the whole of England and Wales to provide the first set of national accounts for the two countries.

Was Kuznets completely satisfied with GDP as a measure?

  • But, again, one has to understand that no measure can accurately summarize the welfare or wellbeing of an entire population.
  • Kuznets was striving for a measure that would reflect welfare rather than what he considered a crude summation of all activities.
  • All measures suffer from some weaknesses. For instance, annual GDP of India is $2.8 trillion but that does not mean that an average Indian is better off than say the average New Zealander ($0.18 trillion).
  • An average Kiwi is 19-times richer than an average Indian even though India’s annual GDP is 15-times than of NZ’s.

So, what is the point of GDP?

  • Yet, GDP is a variable of great merit. That’s because as a measure, it most sums up more information about an economy than any other variable.
  • For instance, countries with higher GDPs have citizens with higher incomes and better standards of living.
  • Of course, one can point out variations and suggest that a country ranked 1 in GDP is ranked 9 in GDP per capita but these divergences would be relatively small when data is seen at a global level.
  • Similarly, countries with higher GDP can be expected to have much better health and education metrics.
  • The so-called richer countries would have better institutions devoted to higher education, research and development etc primarily because they have the money to spare.
  • As such, while it helps not to depend overly on just the GDP of a country to make up one’s mind, it is also not a good idea to disregard it as a measure.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD, etc

Explained: The Bodoland dispute

Mains Paper 3 : Linkages Between Development & Spread Of Extremism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bodoland

Mains level : About the dispute



News

The central government has extended the ban on the Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) by five more years for its involvement in a series of violent anti-state activities.

The Bodoland

  • Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6 per cent of the state’s population. They have controlled large parts of Assam in the past.
  • The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang — that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to several ethnic groups.

What is the dispute?

  • The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands, marked by armed struggle.
  • In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state called Bodoland was raised under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit.
  • In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renewed the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”, was a call given by the ABSU’s then leader, Upendra Nath Brahma.
  • The unrest was a fallout of the Assam Movement (1979-85), whose culmination — the Assam Accord — addressed the demands of protection and safeguards for the “Assamese people”, leading the Bodos to launch a movement to protect their own identity.
  • In December 2014, separatists killed more than 30 people in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur. In the 2012 Bodo-Muslim riots, hundreds were killed and almost 5 lakh were displaced.

Who are the NDFB?

  • Alongside political movements, armed groups have also sought to create a separate Bodo state.
  • In October 1986, the prominent group Bodo Security Force (BdSF) was formed by Ranjan Daimary.
  • The BdSF subsequently renamed itself as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an organisation that is known to be involved in attacks, killings, and extortions.
  • In the 1990s, Indian security forces launched extensive operations against the group, causing the latter to flee to bordering Bhutan.
  • In Bhutan, the group faced stiff counter-insurgency operations by the Indian Army and the Royal Bhutan Army in the early 2000s.
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: Anti-defection law and its evolution

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |


News

  • In the extraordinary political drama unfolding in Maharashtra, it remains unclear precisely till when is the new government established.
  • The gazette notification for the revocation of President’s Rule by President was issued at 5.47 am.

Seeds of Ant-Defection: The 1967 elections

  • The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, inserted by The Constitution (52nd Amendment) Act, 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi’s government was in power.
  • The seeds were sown after the general elections in 1967.
  • The results of those elections were a mixed bag for the Congress. It formed the government at the Centre, but its strength in Lok Sabha fell from 361 to 283.
  • During the year it lost control of seven state governments as MLAs shifted their political allegiance.
  • In this backdrop, P Venkatasubbaiah, a MP in Lok Sabha proposed the setting up of a high-level committee to make recommendations to tackle the “problem of legislators changing their allegiance from one party to another”.
  • The proposal saw a spirited debate in Lok Sabha. Opposition members suggested renaming the proposal to “save Congress”, while the ruling party accused the opposition of inducing MLAs to defect.

The Y B Chavan panel

  • Despite the acrimony, the Lok Sabha agreed to the setting up of a committee to examine the problem of political defections. The then Home Minister, Y B Chavan, headed the committee.
  • The panel defined defection — and an exception for genuine defectors.
  • According to the committee, defection was the voluntary giving up of allegiance of a political party on whose symbol a legislator was elected, except when such action was the result of the decision of the party.
  • In its report, the committee noted “that the lure of office played a dominant part in decisions of legislators to defect”.
  • To combat this, the committee recommended a bar on defecting legislators from holding ministerial positions for a year — or until the time they got themselves re-elected.
  • It also suggested a smaller CoM both at the levels of the Centre and the states.
  • The committee was in favour of political parties working together to help evolve a code of conduct to effectively tackle disruptions.

Early attempts at a law

  • Following the report of the Y B Chavan committee, two separate legislative attempts, both unsuccessful, were made to find a solution to defections.
  • The first one was made by Indira’s Home Minister Uma Shankar Dikshit in 1973; the second, in 1978, by Shanti Bhushan, Minister for Law and Justice in the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai.
  • The third attempt — which was successful — was made in 1985, after the Congress won more than 400 seats in Lok Sabha in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination.

The Tenth Schedule

  • The Bill to amend the Constitution was introduced by Rajiv Gandhi’s Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen, the veteran barrister and politician who had also served in the Cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said: “The evil of political defections has been a matter of national concern. If it is not combated, it is likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it.”
  • The amendment by which the Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution, did three broad things.
  1. One, it made legislators liable to be penalised for their conduct both inside (voting against the whip of the party) and outside (making speeches, etc.) the legislature — the penalty being the loss of their seats in Parliament or the state legislatures.
  2. Two, it protected legislators from disqualification in cases where there was a split (with 1/3rd of members splitting) or merger (with 2/3rds of members merging) of a legislature party with another political party.
  3. Three, it made the Presiding Officer of the concerned legislature the sole arbiter of defection proceedings.

Criticism and passage

  • Opposition argued that the Bill would curtail the freedom of speech and expression of legislators.
  • The leftists expressed concern over the impact the amendment could have on the office of the Speaker.
  • The Bill was debated in Lok Sabha on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and was passed by Rajya Sabha the following day.
  • Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi referred in Parliament to the Mahatma’s seven social sins, the first one being politics without principles.

The immediate challenges

  • No sooner was the law put in place than political parties started to stress-test its boundaries.
  • The issue of what constitutes a spilt in a political party rocked both the V P Singh and the Chandra Shekhar governments.
  • The role of the Presiding Officers also became increasingly politicised.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil said in 1992: “The Speaker is not expected to dabble in keeping the political parties weak or strong or discipline the Parliamentarians for their party purposes.”

Judicial intervention

  • The intervention of the higher judiciary was sought to decide questions such as what kinds of conduct outside the legislature would fall in the category of defection, and what was the extent of the Speaker’s power in deciding defections.
  • The Supreme Court, while upholding the supremacy of the Speaker in defection proceedings, also held that the Speaker’s decisions were subject to judicial review.

The 2003 Amendment

  • The last step in the legislative journey of the anti-defection law came in 2003.
  • An Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament by the government of PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address some of the issues with the law.
  • However, as events in the years and decades since have demonstrated, these amendments have had only limited impact.

Pranab Mukherjee Committee

  • A committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee examined the Bill.
  • The committee observed that the provision of split has been grossly misused to engineer multiple divisions in the party, as a result of which the evil of defection has not been checked in the right earnest.
  • Further it is also observed that the lure of office of profit plays dominant part in the political horse-trading resulting in spate of defections and counter defections
  • The one-third split provision which offered protection to defectors was deleted from the law on the committee’s recommendation.
  • The 2003 Amendment also incorporated the 1967 advice of the Y B Chavan committee in limiting the size of the Council of Ministers, and preventing defecting legislators from joining the Council of Ministers until their re-election.

The (ab)use of the law

  • The removal of the split provision prompted political parties to engineer wholesale defections (to merge) instead of smaller ‘retail’ ones.
  • Legislators started resigning from the membership of the House in order to escape disqualification from ministerial berths.
  • The ceiling on the size of the Council of Ministers meant an increase in the number of positions of parliamentary secretaries in states.
  • The Speakers started taking an active interest in political matters, helping build and break governments.

Prime focus: the Speaker

  • The anti-defection law does not specify a timeframe for Speakers to decide on defection proceedings.
  • When the politics demanded, Speakers were either quick to pass judgment on defection proceedings or delayed acting on them for years on end.
  • The events in the Karnataka Vidhan Sabha in the summer of this year showed that even after three decades, the anti-defection law has not been able to stop political defections.
Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Explained: Surveillance laws in India

Mains Paper 3 : Social Media Networks & Internal Security |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Provisions of the IT Act


News

  • On October 30, many publications reported that phones of several dozen Indian journalists, lawyers and human rights activists had been compromised using an invasive Israeli-developed malware called Pegasus.

Is surveillance of this kind illegal in India?

  • First, it’s important to explain that there are legal routes to surveillance that can be conducted by the government.
  • The laws governing this are the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, which deals with interception of calls and the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, which deals with interception of data.
  • Under both laws, only the government, under certain circumstances, is permitted to conduct surveillance, and not private actors.
  • Moreover, hacking is expressly prohibited under the IT Act. Section 43 and Section 66 of the IT Act cover the civil and criminal offences of data theft and hacking respectively.
  • Section 66B covers punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication. The punishment includes imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years.

How broad are the laws regarding legal surveillance?

  • The framework for understanding the checks and balances built into these laws dates back to 1996.
  • In 1996, the Supreme Court noted that there was a lack of procedural safeguards in the Indian Telegraph Act.
  • It laid down some guidelines that were later codified into rules in 2007.
  • This included a specific rule that orders on interceptions of communication should only be issued by the Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • These rules were partly reflected in the IT (Procedures and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules framed in 2009 under the IT Act.

What do the Rules say?

  • The rules state that only the competent authority can issue an order for the interception, monitoring or decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource (mobile phones would count).
  • The competent authority is once again the Union Home Secretary or State Secretaries in charge of the Home Departments.
  • In December 2018, the Central government created a furore when it authorised 10 Central agencies to conduct surveillance.
  • In the face of criticism that it was building a ‘surveillance state’, the government countered that it was building upon the rules laid down in 2009 and the agencies would still need approval from a competent authority, usually the Union Home Secretary.
  • The 2018 action of the Union government has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

What about the Supreme Court verdict on privacy?

  • The Supreme Court in a landmark decision in August, 2017 (Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Others) unanimously upheld right to privacy as a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • It is a building block and an important component of the legal battles that are to come over the state’s ability to conduct surveillance.
  • But as yet a grey area remains between privacy and the state’s requirements for security.
  • In the same year, the government also constituted a Data Protection Committee under retired Justice B.N. Srikrishna.
  • It held public hearings across India and submitted a draft data protection law in 2018 which Parliament is yet to enact.
  • Experts have pointed out, however, that the draft law does not deal adequately with surveillance reform.

Do other countries have stricter laws against surveillance?

  • This continues to be a grey area around the world.
  • Take the U.S. for example. Electronic surveillance is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment which protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure.
  • Thus the government has to obtain a warrant from a court in each case and crucially, establish probable cause to believe a search is justified.
  • It also has to provide a specific time period under which the surveillance is to be conducted and to describe in particularity the conversation that is to be intercepted.
  • There are very few exceptions or exigent circumstances under which the government may proceed without a warrant.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

Explained: What bringing the CJI’s office under RTI means

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RTI

Mains level : Read the attached story


Context

  • Recently the Supreme Court has ruled that the office of the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by CJI Gogoi upheld a Delhi High Court ruling of 2010 and dismissed three appeals.

SC plea to SC

  • The Supreme Court in 2010 petitioned itself challenging the Delhi High Court order.
  • The matter was placed before a Division Bench, which decided that it should be heard by a Constitution Bench.
  • The Constitution Bench remained pending across the tenures of CJI K G Balakrishnan, S H Kapadia, Altamas Kabir, P Sathasivam, R M Lodha, H L Dattu, T S Thakur, J S Khehar and Dipak Misra.

What is the new ruling?

  • While ruling that the office of the CJI is a public authority, the Supreme Court held that RTI cannot be used as a tool of surveillance and that judicial independence has to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.
  • While CJI Gogoi, Justice Gupta and Justice Khanna wrote one judgment, Justices Ramana and Chandrachud wrote separate verdicts.
  • Justice Ramana noted that Right to Privacy is an important aspect and has to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice of India.
  • Justice Chandrachud wrote in his separate judgment that the judiciary cannot function in total insulation as judges enjoy a constitutional post and discharge public duty.

Balancing is crucial

  • The verdict underlines the balance Supreme Court needs between transparency and protecting its independence.
  • The step is significant because it opens the doors to RTI requests that will test the frontiers of what has been a rather opaque system.
  • What new red lines are drawn will decide how effective the step is.

Where lies Public Authority?

Under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, information means “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.

Implications of the ruling

  • The outcome is that the office of the CJI will now entertain RTI applications.
  • Whether a public authority discloses the information sought or not, however, is a different matter.
  • Offices such as those of the PM and the President too are public authorities under the RTI Act.
  • But public authorities have often denied information quoting separate observations by the Supreme Court itself in 2011.
  • Officials need to furnish only such information which already exists and is held by the public authority and not collate or create information.
  • It held that the nation does not want a scenario where 75% of the staff of public authorities spends 75% of their time in collecting and furnishing information to applicants instead of discharging their regular duties”.

CBI is still out of RTI

  • While the office of the CJI is now under the RTI’s ambit, the CBI is exempt.
  • The CBI, which is an agency that is often engaged in investigation of corruption cases, is today included in a list of exempted organisations in which most of the others are engaged in intelligence gathering.
  • The Administrative Reforms Commission had earlier recommended exemption of the armed forces from the RTI Act, but had not made such a recommendation for the CBI.
  • While the CBI demanded exemption only for units in intelligence gathering, exemption was granted in 2011 to the agency as a whole.
  • Litigation challenging the decision to exempt the CBI is pending with the Supreme Court; the next date of hearing, however, has not been fixed.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Explained: How Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is helping UN achieve its ‘zero hunger’ goal

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Langar

Mains level : Zero Hunger With Langar initiaitve



News

It is reported that Guru Nanak’s ‘Langar’ is contributing to achieve the SDG 2nd goal of Zero Hunger in African countries and is bringing down ‘preventable children deaths’ due to malnutrition.

What is Langar?

  • Langar refers to a system of developing a community kitchen, where people irrespective of their caste, religion and social status sit together on the floor and have food.
  • The word ‘langar’ has its origin in Persian, and means a public eating place where people, especially the needy, are given food.
  • The institution of langar finds its roots in two teachings of Sikhism — ‘Naam japo, kirat karo, vand chako’ (pray, work and share with others whatever you earn) and ‘Sangat aur pangat’ (eat sitting together in rows on the floor).
  • The langar kitchen at Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar feeds nearly a lakh people a day daily.
  • In Delhi, Sri Bangla Sahib gurdwara kitchen serves langar to 45,000-50,000 persons a day.

What is the link between Guru Nanak and langar?

  • Guru Nanak in his teenage had served some hungry sages on his way out of his own money purposed for buying grocery.
  • On being questioned, Nanak said that he did a ‘Sacha Sauda’ by feeding hungry men, which he said was ‘the most profitable deal’ for him.
  • Currently, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda stands at Farooqabad in Sheikhupura district of Pakistan, which is where Guru Nanak is believed to have fed those sadhus.
  • At Kartarpur, his final resting place, Guru Nanak had later established a dharamsal where food is served without discrimination.

How have other Sikh gurus contributed to this tradition?

  • The second Sikh guru Angad Dev and his wife Mata Khivi played a crucial role in strengthening the tradition of langar.
  • The third Sikh Guru, Amar Das, too devoutly followed ‘sangat aur pangat’ and anyone who used to come to meet him, was first served langar.
  • It is said that even when Emperor Akbar came to meet him, Guru suggested he should first have langar sitting with everyone on the floor, which Akbar accepted.

Zero Hunger With Langar

  • Several Sikh organisations like Khalsa Aid, Langar Aid, Midland Langar Seva Society and others are now branching out to other countries where langar is used to provide nutritious meals to the undernourished.
  • One such organisation is ‘Zero Hunger With Langar’ which is specifically working in two African countries — Malawi and Kenya — which are among the countries with the highest malnutrition rates among children and feature in the UN’s target list.

Why such move?

  • There are 821 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss.
  • Over 90 million children under 5 (years) are dangerously underweight. Undernourishment and severe food insecurity appear to be increasing in almost all regions of Africa, as well as in South America.
  • In 2017, Asia accounted for nearly two-thirds, 63 per cent of world’s hungry and nearly 151 million children under 5 22 per cent, were stunted in 2017 across the world.

Impact of the movement

  • Attendance in primary schools and nurseries has improved considerably. More than 90 per cent malnutrition-free status is achieved in Malawi.
History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: The fall of the Berlin Wall and how it impacted geo-politics

Mains Paper 1 : Communalism, Secularism, Regionalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Berlin Wall

Mains level : Significance of fall of Berlin Wall



News

  • Today marks 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall and Google has celebrated this with a doodle.

The Berlin Wall

  • It was a concrete barrier that cut across and divided the city of Berlin from 1961 to 1989 and was constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • After the Wall was fully dismantled in 1989, it led to the reunification of a divided Germany and its people.
  • However it also came to symbolize the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ that had divided the Eastern Bloc from Western Europe during the Cold War.

Why was it built?

Germany’s defeat

  • After Germany’s defeat in the war, the Allied powers — the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union — took control of Germany’s territorial borders and divided it into four zones managed by each Allied power.
  • The capital Berlin was also subjected to this division, despite the city falling mostly inside the zone controlled by the Soviet Union.
  • Two year after the Allied powers had gained control of Germany, political divisions arose between the Allied powers and the Soviet Union over several socio-political aspects that were meant to determine Germany’s future.

The Marshall Plan

  • The most contentious of all however, was the proposal for the extension of the Marshall Plan, a reconstruction plan signed by then US Prez Harry Truman in 1948.
  • The plan aimed to provide economic assistance to Western Europe for reconstruction efforts after the Second World War.
  • The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin did not approve of this plan because the proposal did not align with Stalin’s vision of a united communist Germany within the Eastern Bloc.

The Berlin Blockade

  • The Berlin Blockade in 1948 set the ground for the start of the construction of the Berlin Wall and in 1949 the Soviet Union declared the existence of the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany.
  • In 1961, the borders between East and West Germany were closed, and the division cost common people their homes, families, jobs and changed their lives irrevocably, creating two separate nations built on different socio-political and economic ideologies.
  • This was separated by blocks of concrete that were collectively 140 km longIt took take almost three decades for the Berlin Wall to come down.

Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

  • Civil unrest across East and West Germany put pressure on the East Germany administration to loosen some travel restrictions.
  • Günter Schabowski, a political leader in East Germany had been tasked with the job of announcing the easing of travel restrictions but had not been given full information regarding when the new travel regulations.
  • At a press conference on November 9 when Schabowski was asked when the new regulations would be put into effect, he stated that it was with immediate effect.
  • East Germans who were listening to the live news broadcast rushed to the checkpoints at the Berlin Wall in droves, seeking entry.
  • Armed guards at the checkpoints had not been given instructions on how to handle the crowds and outnumbered checkpoint guards began allowing people to cross without any significant checks.
  • Crowds began climbing on top of the Berlin Wall and the atmosphere changed entirely. It was the day the Berlin Wall was brought down.

Global consequences of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Formation of EU

  • After the fall of the Berlin Wall, decades of separation and unaligned socio-economic development brought several differences between East and West Berlin to the fore.
  • Eastern Europe was dramatically altered with political changes requiring a reexamination of alliances within Europe.
  • These changes resulted in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that led to the formation of the European Union in 1993.

Rise of Asian Tigers

  • Following the end of the WW II and the Korean War, East Asia and Southeast Asia were slowly beginning to emerge from the ravages of the wars, relying on what was left of colonial infrastructure and post-colonial economic assistance.
  • Many relied on China for economic support to build their own economies over the next decade.
  • Of the nations in the region, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea came to be known as the ‘Asian Tigers’, and became models for good governance and development and “miracle” economies.
  • Their socio-economic models of development were so robust that these countries escaped relatively unscathed from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Rise of regional powers

  • After the Soviet Union collapsed, China witnessed an unprecedented rise in importance not only in the region, but also in the world political order.
  • The Soviet Union’s collapse also impacted Cuba and its economy which was reliant on financial subsidies from Moscow.

Birth of Taliban

  • The fall of the Berlin Wall also coincided with Russia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Despite the wishes of Soviet-backed Afghanistan President Mohammad Najibullah, Soviet troops began withdrawing from the country.
  • The Mujahideen began their offensives against the Afghan army with more vigor knowing that the army did not have the support of Soviets anymore.
  • Civil unrest and war continued in the country with the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992 and was ongoing till the Taliban came to power in 1996 and brought even more war and unrest in Afghanistan.
History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: Second Judges Case, 1993

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Collegium system

Mains level : Issues over Judicial appointments and transfers


News

  • A Bench of the Supreme Court, led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, has dismissed a bunch of petitions seeking a review of the court’s judgment in the Second Judges Case in 1993, which led to the Collegium system of appointment of judges.

Collegium System

  • The Collegium of judges is the Indian Supreme Court’s invention.
  • It does not figure in the Constitution, which says judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President and speaks of a process of consultation.
  • In effect, it is a system under which judges are appointed by an institution comprising judges.
  • After some judges were superseded in the appointment of the CJI in the 1970s, and attempts made subsequently to effect a mass transfer of High Court judges across the country.
  • Hence there was a perception that the independence of the judiciary was under threat. This resulted in a series of cases over the years.

What was the Second Judges Case of 1993?

  • In The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCARA) Vs Union of India, 1993, a nine-judge Constitution Bench overruled the decision in S P Gupta, and devised a specific procedure called ‘Collegium System’ for the appointment and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary.
  • The Case accorded primacy to the CJI in matters of appointment and transfers while also ruling that the term “consultation” would not diminish the primary role of the CJI in judicial appointments.

CJI’s role

  • The role of the CJI is primal in nature because this being a topic within the judicial family, the executive cannot have an equal say in the matter.
  • Here the word ‘consultation’ would shrink in a mini form.
  • Should the executive have an equal role and be in divergence of many a proposal, germs of indiscipline would grow in the judiciary.
  • Ushering in the collegium system the recommendation should be made by the CJI in consultation with his two seniormost colleagues, and that such recommendation should normally be given effect to by the executive.
  • It added that although it was open to the executive to ask the collegium to reconsider the matter if it had an objection to the name recommended.
  • If, on reconsideration, the collegium reiterated the recommendation, the executive was bound to make the appointment.

Criticisms of the Judgement

  • Critics argue that the system is non-transparent since it does not involve any official mechanism or secretariat.
  • It is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure.
  • There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets, and how it takes its decisions.
  • Lawyers too are usually in the dark on whether their names have been considered for elevation as a judge.

What efforts have been made to address these concerns?

  • The government of 1998-2003 had appointed the Justice M N Venkatachaliah Commission to opine whether there was need to change the Collegium system.
  • The Commission favoured change, and prescribed a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) consisting of the CJI and two seniormost judges, the Law Minister, and an eminent person from the public, to be chosen by the President in consultation with the CJI.
  • The NDA 2 regime had NJAC as one of its priorities, and the constitutional amendment and NJAC Act were cleared swiftly.
  • In 2015, a Constitution Bench declared as unconstitutional the NJAC Bill.
  • The Bench sealed the fate of the proposed system with a 4:1 majority verdict that held that judges’ appointments shall continue to be made by the collegium system in which the CJI will have “the last word”.
  • Justice J Chelameswar wrote a dissenting verdict, criticising the collegium system by holding that “proceedings of the collegium were absolutely opaque and inaccessible both to public and history, barring occasional leaks”.

Back2Basics

Explained: Collegium of Judges

Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

Explained: Balance of Trade and its significance

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trade Deficit

Mains level : Balance of Trade issue in India


News

  • A key reason that India forwarded for declining to sign on was the existence of trade deficits with many of the constituents of the RCEP.

What concerned India?

  • India was concerned that joining the RCEP trade pact could lead to Chinese goods flooding the Indian markets, and India’s trade deficit ballooning against most of the RCEP members.
  • This, India argued, would have led to several sectoral producers such as those in the dairy and steel sector being dominated by foreign competition.

India’s trade deficit

  • For instance, against the 10 member ASEAN, India’s trade deficit was nearly $22 billion in 2018.
  • Against South Korea it was $12 billion, against Australia $9.6 billion, against Japan almost $8 billion.
  • Worst of all is the trade deficit with China – $53.6 billion.

What is Trade Deficit?

  • Simply put, the trade “balance” of a country shows the difference between what it earns from its exports and what it pays for its imports.
  • If this number is in negative – that is, the total value of goods imported by a country is more than the total value of goods exported by that country – then it is referred to as a “trade deficit”.
  • If India has a trade deficit with China then China would necessarily have a “trade surplus” with India.

What does it mean?

  • A trade deficit broadly can mean two things. One, that the demand in the domestic economy is not being met by the domestic producers.
  • For instance, India may be producing a lot of milk but still not enough for the total milk demand in the country. As such, India may choose to import milk.
  • Two, many a time a deficit signifies the lack of competitiveness of the domestic industry.
  • For instance, Indian car manufacturers could import steel from China instead of procuring it from the domestic producers if the Chinese steel was decidedly cheaper, for the same quality.
  • More often than not, the trade deficit of a country is due to a combination of both these main factors.

Is a trade deficit a bad thing?

  • No trade is ever balanced. That’s because all countries have different strengths and weaknesses.
  • India may have a trade deficit with China but a surplus with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It all depends on whether a country is playing to its strength or not.
  • Trade typically enhances wellbeing all across the world by forcing countries to do what they can do most efficiently and procure (import) from the rest of the world what they cannot produce efficiently.

Do higher tariffs help in bringing down trade deficits?

  • Of course, they do. For instance, if cheaper milk and steel from New Zealand and China, respectively, was held off by India levying higher.
  • Then the people most hurt would be Indian consumers of milk and steel – a number far in excess of the number of Indian producers of milk and steel.
  • The consumers would have to either pay a higher cost for imported steel or use equally costly or poorer quality domestic steel or indeed, go without milk (at least the poorer consumers).

Conclusion

  • That is not to say that trade doesn’t have elements that compromise a country’s strategic interests and that is why there are some commodities in which every country wants to maintain self-sufficiency.
  • But merely levying higher tariffs or not choosing to trade do not bring about self-sufficiency.
  • For attaining self-reliance, a country’s domestic industry has to improve and the best of this happening is when one learns from the competition.
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

Explained: Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) in Telecom Sector

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AGR

Mains level : Slowdown in the Telecom sector



News

  • In a strongly-worded order, the Supreme Court of India upheld the Department of Telecom (DoT)’s interpretation of “adjusted gross revenue” (AGR).
  • This came as a huge blow to telecom service providers.
  • Following the order, the telcos are now staring at dues of an estimated ₹1.4 lakh crore, which needs to be paid to the government within three months.
  • Most industry players and analysts have argued that the payout of the huge amount could be the final straw for the already distressed sector.

What is AGR?

  • Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Why is AGR important?

  • The definition of AGR has been under litigation for 14 years.
  • While telecom companies argued that it should comprise revenue from telecom services, the DoT’s stand was that the AGR should include all revenue earned by an operator, including that from non-core telecom operations.
  • The AGR directly impacts the outgo from the pockets of telcos to the DoT as it is used to calculate the levies payable by operators.
  • Currently, telecom operators pay 8% of the AGR as licence fee, while spectrum usage charges (SUC) vary between 3-5% of AGR.

Why do telcos need to pay out large amounts?

  • Telecom companies now owe the government not just the shortfall in AGR for the past 14 years but also an interest on that amount along with penalty and interest on the penalty.
  • While the exact amount telcos will need to shell out is not clear, as in a government affidavit filed in the top court, the DoT had calculated the outstanding licence fee to be over ₹92,000 crore.
  • However, the actual payout can go up to ₹1.4 lakh crore as the government is likely to also raise a demand for shortfall in SUC along with interest and penalty.
  • Of the total amount, it is estimated that the actual dues is about 25%, while the remaining amount is interest and penalties.

Is there stress in the sector?

  • The telecom industry is reeling under a debt of over ₹4 lakh crore and has been seeking a relief package from the government.
  • Even the government has on various occasions admitted that the sector is indeed undergoing stress and needs support.
  • Giving a ray of hope to the telecom companies, the government recently announced setting up of a Committee of Secretaries to examine the financial stress in the sector, and recommend measures to mitigate it.

Issue of lower tariff

  • Currently, telecom tariffs are among the lowest globally, driven down due to intense competition following the entry of Reliance in the sector.
  • The TRAI examines the merits of a “minimum charge” that operators may charge for voice and data services.
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Explained: What it means to host UNFCCC COP?

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNFCCC COP

Mains level : Climate change negotiations and issues



News

  • Chile, the designated host for this year’s UN climate change conference, has said it would not be able to organise the December event because of political unrest at home.
  • Spain which stepped in and offered to host it on the same dates, December 2-13 will host the CoP.

COP25: The event

  • The signatories to the 1992 UNFCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) meet to discuss and decide on steps that countries need to take to fight climate change.
  • The year-end conference called COP has been held since 1995 and never been postponed.
  • This will be the 25th edition of the meeting, hence COP25.

Why is it for?

  • It is the same meeting that, at COP3, delivered the 1997 Kyoto Protocol the first international agreement to fight climate change.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was later deemed to be inadequate, and after several years of negotiations, COP21 in 2015 delivered the Paris Agreement.
  • In subsequent years, countries have been trying to finalise the rules and procedures that will govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
  • One of the most important tasks at the upcoming COP is to complete the negotiations over the rulebook.

How is a host decided?

  • The venue for the COP meeting is rotated among the five UN-identified regions — Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, and Western Europe and Others.
  • The countries in the region have to propose a candidate, and a host is usually decided at least two years in advance.
  • If no one else agrees to do it, Bonn in Germany, as headquarters of the UNFCCC secretariat, has to step in and host the event.

Trends in the hosting pattern

  • The rotation cycle has not been followed very strictly.
  • The first and second COPs were both held in Western Europe (Berlin and Geneva), and so were the fifth and sixth (Bonn and the Hague).
  • After the 2012 COP in Doha, the event has not returned to Asia.
  • That is because Fiji, the host in 2017, lacked the resources to organise an event of this scale; as a compromise, the event had to be held in Bonn under the Fijian presidency.
  • Even before the ongoing unrest, Chile had been a reluctant host. The only other contender from the region to host COP25 was Costa Rica, but it lacked the resources.

Why hosting a COP is difficult?

  • The host city incurs huge expenditure on the event, not all of which is reimbursed.
  • Apart from the over 20,000 participants, the city has to make arrangements for visits by heads of states and governments, and other personalities.
  • Side events and demonstrations invariably come with the conference, and the host city has to brace for such disruptionsthe for more than two weeks.
  • The event does help local economy, and tourism, but many countries do not see that as an adequate incentive.

A weak climate leadership

  • For countries with smaller greenhouse gas emissions, this is not much of a problem, but such expectations explain why the US, China or Russia have not shown much interest in hosting the event.
  • Japan hosted the 1997 event that produced the Kyoto Protocol, but it also happened to be the first country to walk out of it in 2011.
  • Australia, which too withdrew from Kyoto Protocol, has never hosted it.
  • Spain will now host it for the first time, and so will the UK, in Glasgow next year. Germany and Poland have been hosts three times each.
  • India, the third largest emitter, hosted the 2002 COP in New Delhi, much before climate change became this big.
  • The EU which has a relatively strong climate change action plan, has hosted the most COP editions — 11 of 24 COPs, with Madrid now the 12th of 25.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Explained: How to read Tipu Sultan’s place in history

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anglo Mysore Wars

Mains level : Read the attached story



Context

  • Karnataka CM has announced that his government is trying to remove Tipu Sultan’s history lessons from textbooks in the state.
  • It is held that Tipu used tyranny and cruelty against Hindus & Kannada rulers.
  • However the removal of Tipu from textbooks will fundamentally alter the history of early modern India.

Who was Tipu Sultan?

  • Tipu was the son of Haider Ali, a professional soldier who climbed the ranks in the army of the Wodeyar king of Mysore, and ultimately took power in 1761.
  • Tipu was born in 1750 and, as a 17-year-old, fought in the first Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69) and subsequently, against the Marathas and in the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84).
  • Haider died while this war was on, and Tipu succeeded him in 1782.

Why remove his name?

  • The right wing activists has long underlined Tipu’s cruel treatment including torture, forced conversions, and the razing of temples in the course of his conquests, as the central feature of his personality.
  • In the hills and jungles of Kodagu on the Kerala-Karnataka border, as well as in Kerala, Tipu is not seen as a hero.

Reason lies in history

  • Both Tipu and his father Haider Ali had strong territorial ambitions, and invaded and annexed territories outside Mysore.
  • Haider annexed Malabar and Kozhikode, and conquered Kodagu, Thrissur and Kochi.Tipu raided Kodagu, Mangaluru, and Kochi.
  • Tipu’s keenness to subjugate Kodagu was linked directly to his desire to control the port of Mangaluru, on whose path Kodagu fell.
  • In all these places, he is seen as a bloodthirsty tyrant who burnt down entire towns and villages, razed hundreds of temples and churches, and forcibly converted Hindus.
  • The historical record has Tipu boasting about having forced “infidels” to convert, and of having destroyed their places of worship.

What is the counternarrative to this understanding of Tipu Sultan?

  • In this narrative, Tipu Sultan is the fearless “Tiger of Mysore”, a powerful bulwark against colonialism, and a great son of Karnataka.
  • He has been seen as a man of imagination and courage, a brilliant military strategist who, in a short reign of 17 years, mounted the most serious challenge the East India Company faced in India.
  • He fought the forces of the Company four times during 1767-99, and gave Cornwallis and Wellesley bloody noses before he was killed heroically defending his capital Srirangapatnam in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War.
  • With Tipu gone, Wellesley imposed the Subsidiary Alliance on the reinstated Wodeyar king, and Mysore became a client state of the East India Company.

Tipu’s pioneering work

  • Tipu reorganized his army along European lines, using new technology, including what is considered the first war rocket.
  • He devised a land revenue system based on detailed surveys and classification, in which the tax was imposed directly on the peasant, and collected through salaried agents in cash, widening the state’s resource base.
  • He modernized agriculture, gave tax breaks for developing wasteland, built irrigation infrastructure and repaired old dams, and promoted agricultural manufacturing and sericulture.
  • He built a navy to support trade, and commissioned a “state commercial corporation” to set up factories.
  • Tipu battled nearly all powers in the region, irrespective of the faith of his opponents.

Secular Tipu

  • His army had both Hindus and Muslims, and among the populations that he slaughtered in Kerala, there were sizeable numbers of Muslims.
  • Just as there is evidence that Tipu persecuted Hindus and Christians, there is also evidence that he patronised Hindu temples and priests, and gave them grants and gifts.
  • He donated to temples at Nanjangud, Kanchi and Kalale, and patronised the Sringeri mutt.

Assessing Tipu’s reign

  • The existing narrative does not seek to whitewash or deny the accounts of Tipu’s brutality, but it does seek to understand these specific incidents within the larger historical context of late medieval and early modern India.
  • Tipu is only one of several historical figures about whom sharply differing perspectives exist.
  • This is because in much of India, history is frequently seen through ethnic, communal, regional, or religious lenses.
  • On the other hand, his destruction of temples and forced conversions of Hindus and Christians feeds into the right wing narrative of the tyrannical and fanatical ruler.
  • It is misleading to argue that if Tipu fought the British, it was “only to save his kingdom” — because so did every other pre-modern ruler, in India and elsewhere.

Conclusion

  • It is important to be aware that much of the criticism of Tipu is rooted in the accounts of those whom he vanquished — and of colonial historians who had powerful reasons to demonize him.
  • It serves no purpose to view Tipu’s multilayered personality through the prism of morality or religion.
  • It is not necessary that he be judged only in terms of either a hero or a tyrant.
History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: Edge Computing

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Edge Computing

Mains level : Applications of Edge Computing



News

  • Cloud computing — by which remote servers hosted on the Internet store and process data, rather than local servers or personal computers — is ready to move to the next level i.e. ‘Edge Computing’.

Cloud Computing

  • Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user.
  • The term is generally used to describe data centres available to many users over the Internet.

Why need an upgrade?

  • Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google — the technology giants that provide cloud computing infrastructure to major corporates and governments.
  • They want to leverage 5G wireless technology and artificial intelligence to enable faster response times, lower latency (ability to process very high volumes of data with minimal delay), and simplified maintenance in computing.
  • This is where Edge Computing comes in — which many see as an extension to the cloud, but which is, in fact, different in several basic ways.
  • By 2025 companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data outside of traditional centralised data centres — that is, at the “edge” of the cloud.

So, what is Edge Computing?

  • Edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed and transferred at the edge of a network.
  • The idea is to analyse data locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre.
  • So whether you are streaming a video or accessing a library of video games in the cloud, edge computing allows for quicker data processing and content delivery.

How is edge computing different from cloud computing?

  • The basic difference between edge computing and cloud computing lies in the place where the data processing takes place.
  • At the moment, the existing Internet of Things (IoT) systems performs all of their computations in the cloud using data centres.
  • Edge computing, on the other hand, essentially manages the massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices by storing and processing data locally.
  • That data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed; only important data is sent — therefore, an edge computing network reduces the amount of data that travels over the network.

And how soon can edge computing becomes part of our lives?

  • Experts believe the true potential of edge computing will become apparent when 5G networks go mainstream in a year from now.
  • Users will be able to enjoy consistent connectivity without even realizing it.
  • Nvidia, one of the biggest players in the design and manufacture of graphics and AI acceleration hardware, has just announced its EGX edge computing platform.
  • This will help telecom operators adopt 5G networks capable of supporting edge workloads.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Explained: Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Mains Paper 1 : Geographical Features & Their Location |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DST

Mains level : DST and its significance



Context

  • Clocks in Europe went back an hour on Sunday, signalling the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this year. The same will happen with clocks in the United States next week.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite has happened.
  • Thus, clocks have gone ahead by an hour — in New Zealand and in Australia.

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

  • DST is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.
  • It is in use during the period from spring to autumn (or fall), when Europe and the United States get an extra hour of daylight in the evening.

When did the system of putting clocks forward and back start?

  • The idea of fixing clocks to save energy and to make the day seem longer than it is, is over 200 years old, but its sustained implementation took longer.
  • Written accounts suggest that a group of Canadians in Port Arthur (Ontario) were the first to adopt the practice on July 1, 1908, setting their clocks an hour ahead. Other parts of Canada followed suit.
  • In April 1916, during World War I, with Europe facing severe coal shortages, Germany and Austria-Hungary introduced DST to minimize the use of artificial lighting.
  • Many other countries on both the warring sides followed suit. The US introduced it in May 1916, and has stuck with it ever since.

Why use DST?

  • No daylight is of course, actually ‘saved’ — rather, the idea is to make better use of daylight.
  • So when it is autumn (or fall) in the Northern Hemisphere, and days are typically beginning to become shorter and nights longer, clocks are moved back an hour.
  • The rationale behind setting clocks ahead of standard time during springtime was to ensure that clocks showed a later sunrise and a later sunset — in effect, a longer evening daytime.
  • Individuals were expected to wake up an hour earlier than usual, and complete their daily work routines an hour earlier.
  • The governments decide to in effect transfer an hour of daylight from evening to morning, when it is assumed to be of greater use to most people.

Who uses DST?

  • Countries around the equator (in Africa, South America, and southeast Asia) do not usually follow DST; there isn’t much variation in the daylight they receive round the year in any case.
  • India does not have a DST, even though there are large parts of the country where winter days are shorter.
  • Most Gulf countries do not use DST — during the holy month of Ramzan, this could mean delaying the breaking of the fast for longer.
  • Morocco has DST, but suspends it during Ramzan. However, Iran has DST, and stays with it even during Ramzan.
  • Countries in East Asia and Africa mostly do not have a system of DST.

DST across the world

  • Dates for this switch, which happens twice a year (in the spring and autumn) are decided beforehand.
  • By law, the 28 member states of the EU switch together — moving forward on the last Sunday of March and falling back on the last Sunday in October.
  • In the US, clocks go back on the first Sunday of November.
  • Russia experimented with having permanent DST in 2011, but that created a situation in which it was dark at midday at some places.
  • So in 2014, it returned to switching from DST to standard time in the autumn.

What is the change with respect to Indian time?

  • Now that DST has ended in Europe and clocks have gone back an hour, the time difference between London and India is five and a half hours (and that between Paris or Berlin and India is four and a half hours).
  • Britain is now on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); until Saturday when it was on DST or British Summer Time (BST).
  • Earlier the time difference between London and India was four and a half hours (three and a half hours for Paris or Berlin).
Global Geological And Climatic Events

Explained: Naga Peace Talks

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nagalim

Mains level : Naga peace process



News

  • The deadline set by the Centre for wrapping up the Naga peace talks, October 31, arrives this week.
  • While the Centre’s interlocutor and now Nagaland’s Governor, R N Ravi, has stressed that some key issues remain unresolved with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN(I-M).

What are the Naga peace talks?

  • The talks seek to settle disputes that date back to colonial rule.
  • The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood
  • One key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim that would cover not only the state of Nagaland but parts of neighbouring states, and even of Myanmar.

Rise of Naga nationalism

  • The British had annexed Assam in 1826, in which they subsequently created the Naga Hills district and went on to extend its boundaries.
  • The assertion of Naga nationalism, which began during British rule, has continued after Independence, and even after Nagaland became a state.
  • Along the way, the unresolved issues gave rise to decades of insurgency that claimed thousands of lives, including of civilians.

How has the Naga assertion played out historically?

  • The earliest sign of Naga resistance dates back to 1918, with the formation of the Naga Club.
  • In 1929, the Club famously told the Simon Commission “to leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient times”.
  • In 1946, A Z Phizo formed the Naga National Council (NNC), which declared Naga independence on August 14, 1947, and then, in 1951, claimed to have conducted a referendum.
  • The referendum got overwhelming majority in support of an independent Naga state.
  • By the early 1950s, the NNC had taken up arms and gone underground.
  • The NNC split in 1975, the breakaway group being the NSCN, which split further in later years, most prominently into the NSCN(I-M) and NSCN (Khaplang) in 1988.

And how have the peace talks played out in recent years?

Before the ongoing talks, which followed a framework agreement in 2015, there were two other agreements between Naga groups and the Centre.

1975:

  • A peace accord was signed in Shillong in which the NNC leadership agreed to give up arms.
  • Several NNC leaders, including Isak Chishi Swu, Thuingaleng Muivah and S S Khaplang refused to accept the agreement and broke away to form the NSCN.
  • In 1988 came another split, with Khaplang breaking away to form the NSCN(K) while Isak and Muivah headed the NSCN(I-M).

1997:

  • The NSCN(I-M ) signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1997, preceded by rounds of talks since 1995.
  • The key agreement was that there would be no counter-insurgency offensive against the NSCN(I-M), who in turn would not attack Indian forces.
  • The NSCN(I-M) had then announced to “every citizen of Nagalim wherever they may be”, that a ceasefire agreement was entered into between India and the outfit to bring about a lasting political solution.

2015:

  • In August that year, the Centre signed a framework agreement with the NSCN(I-M).
  • PM Modi described it as a “historic agreement” towards settling the “oldest insurgency” in India. This set the stage for the ongoing peace talks.
  • In 2017, six other Naga armed outfits under the banned of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) joined the talks.
  • Today, Muivah remains the senior-most Naga rebel leader. Isak died in 2016. In the NSCN(-K), its leader Khaplang died in 2018.

What was in the framework agreement?

  • The government has not yet spelt out the details in public.
  • Following the agreement, the government had said in a press statement: “The Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations.
  • The NSCN understood and appreciated the Indian political system and governance.
  • On the other hand, the NSCN(I-M) issued a statement earlier this year which said that Nagaland State does and will not represent the national decision of the Naga people.
  • The statement was in opposition the proposal for a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) in the state of Nagaland.

Where does the territorial demand currently stand?

  • The accord being finalised “does not change the boundary of states; provides autonomous Naga territorial councils for Arunachal and Manipur; a common cultural body for Nagas across states.
  • It provides for specific institutions for state’s development, integration and rehabilitation of non-state Naga militia and the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
  • The map of Greater Nagalim in the NSCN(IM) vision, on the other hand, covers a 1,20,000 sq km sprawl across the Northeast and Myanmar — the area of Nagaland state itself is only 16,527 sq km, a fraction of this vision.
  • Amid the anxiety this has caused among citizens in neighbouring states, state governments have assured them that their respective states’ territorial integrity would not be compromised.

What are the other issues?

  • The government and the NSCN(I-M) have failed to agree on issues relating to a separate Naga flag and a constitution.
  • In its latest statement, the NSCN(I-M) has said it will not budge from the demand for the flag and the constitution — and that it is looking for a lasting solution.
  • However the NSCN(I-M) has adopted a procrastinating attitude to delay the settlement raising the contentious symbolic issues of separate Naga national flag and constitution.

Where could the disagreement lead to?

  • The statement from the Governor’s office has given rise to speculation that the government is ready to sign a final peace agreement with other groups without the NSCN(I-M), the largest group.
  • Civil society groups in Nagaland are divided in their opinion.
  • Some have said the talks should be wrapped up with whatever is offered now and keep other issues open for later negotiations.
  • Others believe all issues should be settled and the NSCN(I-M) should be on board, even if it takes longer than the deadline.
Tribes in News

Explained: What is Quantum Supremacy, claimed by Google?

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quantum Supremacy

Mains level : Quantum Computing and its applications



News

  • Google announced that it has achieved a breakthrough called quantum supremacy in computing.
  • Scientists have developed an experimental processor that took just 200 seconds, to complete a calculation that would have taken a classical computer 10,000 years.

Quantum supremacy

  • It refers to a quantum computer solving a problem that cannot be expected of a classical computer in a normal lifetime.
  • This relates to the speed at which a quantum computer performs.
  • The phrase “quantum supremacy” was coined in 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology in a speech.
  • According to reports, the quantum processor took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that the world’s fastest supercomputer Summit would have taken 10,000 years to accomplish.

What is quantum computing?

  • Quantum computing takes advantage of the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any time.
  • Due to the way the tiniest of particles behave, operations can be done much more quickly and use less energy than classical computers.

How is Quantum computer different from a traditional computer?

  • What differentiates a quantum computer from a traditional computer is the way the two store information.
  • Quantum computers perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before it is measured – instead of just 1s or 0s – which means they have the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers.
  • Classical computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state.
  • These are usually binary, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions. A single state – such as on or off, up or down, 1 or 0 – is called a bit.
  • In quantum computing, operations instead use the quantum state of an object to produce what’s known as a qubit.
  • These states are the undefined properties of an object before they’ve been detected, such as the spin of an electron or the polarisation of a photon.

 What makes a quantum computer so powerful?

  • In their research paper published in the journal Nature, scientists have announced that their Sycamore computer has solved a problem that is considered intractable for classical computers.
  • This was achieved by developing architecture of what is known as “qubits”.
  • “Qubits” is short for “quantum bits”, which are to quantum computers what bits are to traditional computers.
  • The more the number of qubits, the higher the amount of information, which increases exponentially compared to the information stored in the same number of bits.

What exactly has Google achieved?

  • From the development of a single superconducting qubit, the researchers proceeded to systems including architecture of 54 qubits with Sycamore.
  • One of these did not perform, the University of California, Santa Barbara said in a statement.
  • This architecture led to the 53 qubits being entangled into a superposition state.
  • Preparing this superposition state was accomplished in a matter of microseconds.
  • The researchers then sampled from this distribution by measuring the qubits a million times in 200 seconds.
  • The equivalent task for a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer would take approximately 10,000 years, they wrote in their paper.

Why does it matter?

  • First, it is important to know that scientists are still a long way from developing a quantum computer.
  • What they have achieved is the development of an architecture of qubits, and the demonstration of its computing capabilities.
  • In the long term, scientists are always looking to improve on what they have already achieved.
  • If and when created, a quantum computer could revolutionise science research and technological advances.
  • It could boost areas like artificial intelligence, lead to new energy sources and even to new drug therapies.

Issues with QC

  • On the other hand, there may also be issues of national security.
  • They could also override the encryption that protects our computers and the data we use online.
  • Because of that, the governments of the United States and China consider quantum computing a national priority.
  • As some scientists work on quantum computers, others are devising security techniques that could thwart their code-breaking abilities.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Explained: Why the govt wants to change the definition of MSMEs

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSME definition

Mains level : MSME sector reforms


News

  • It has been reported that the government will soon change the way it defines the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

A move for single definition

  • The government would consider shifting to a “single definition” of MSMEs. The change in definition would require an amendment to the MSME Development Act.
  • The Union Cabinet had decided to shift from a criterion of classifying MSMEs based on ‘investment in plant and machinery’ to a criterion based on ‘annual turnover’.

What is the importance of the MSME sector?

  • According to a RBI report, the MSMEs are amongst the strongest drivers of economic development, innovation and employment.
  • Looking back at data since 2000-01, MSME sector growth has almost every year outstripped overall industrial growth in the country.
  • The MSME sector also contributes in a significant way to the growth of the Indian economy with a vast network of about 63.38 million enterprises.
  • The sector contributes about 45% to manufacturing output, more than 40% of exports, over 28% of the GDP while creating employment for about 111 million people, which in terms of volume stands next to agricultural sector.
  • However, the RBI report also noted that at present the sector is “exceedingly heterogeneous in terms of size of the enterprises and variety of products and services, and levels of technology employed” .
  • It has the potential to grow at a much faster rate. One of the key attractions of this sector is that it huge employment generation potential at relatively lower capital investment.

How are MSMEs defined at present?

  • There has been no uniformity over the years about the definition of what exactly one means by “small scale industries” in India.
  • Moreover, the definition also changes from one country to another.
  • In India, for instance, under the Industrial Development and Regulation (IDR) Act, 1951, small industries were conceived in terms of “number of employees”.
  • But it was found that obtaining reliable data on the number of employees was difficult.
  • As such, a proxy was found – and this was to look at the investments in plant and machinery; it was relatively easy to reliably ascertain and verify this data.
  • So at present, the classification of MSMEs is done based on investment in plant & machinery/equipment (see table) in accordance with the provision of Section 7 of the MSMED Act, 2006.

Classification of MSMEs in India at present

How do others define MSMEs?

  • According to the World Bank, a business is classified as an MSME when it meets two of the three following criteria: employee strength, assets size, or annual sales.
  • According to a 2014 report, as many as 267 definitions were used by different institutions in 155 economies.
  • But the most widely used variable for defining an MSME was the number of employees — 92% of the institutions use this.
  • Other definitions were based on turnover as well as the value of assets (49% and 36%, respectively).
  • Around 11% used other variables like loan size, formality, years of experience, type of technology, size of the manufacturing space, and initial investment amount etc.
  • The crucial thing, however, is that most of the countries used only one variable to define MSMEs.

How does a change in definition help?

  • Definitions based on investment limits in plant and machinery/ equipment were decided when the Act was formulated in 2006.
  • But such a definition “does not reflect the current increase in price index of plant and machinery/equipment,” stated the RBI report.
  • Moreover, MSMEs, thanks to their small scale of operations and informal organisation, MSMEs don’t always maintain proper books of accounts. This essentially results in their not being classified as MSMEs.
  • The change of definition is likely to improve the ease of doing business for MSMEs, and in the process, make it easier for them to pay taxes, attract investments and create more jobs.
  • The clear and unambiguous definition – that is also in consonance with global norms and learns from the best practices across countries – is the starting point to reforming this crucial sector of the economy.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Explained: Should Aadhaar be linked to social media accounts?

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over right to privacy


News

  • From January 2020 the Supreme Court will hear cases seeking the linking of Aadhaar with social media profiles of individuals.
  • It will be the first big legal battle on the right to privacy after the Supreme Court held in a landmark verdict in 2017 that privacy is a fundamental right.

What is the Issue?

The two significant questions of law that the court will look into are:

  1. Whether mandatory linking of Aadhaar to social media accounts violates an individual’s right to privacy, and
  2. The balance between intermediary liability and free speech.

Context

  • The government submitted an affidavit stating that the Internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.
  • It said that it will notify “extant rules” for “effective regulation of intermediaries” such as social media platforms.
  • Intermediaries, as defined by the IT Act, 2000, include telecom service providers, network service providers, Internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online market places, and cyber cafes.
  • Section 87 of the IT Act gives power to the central government to frame Rules; currently, Rules framed in 2011 regulate intermediaries.

The cases

  • Facebook, WhatsApp and Google had appealed for the transfer of such cases to the Supreme Court from the Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts, where at least four such cases were pending.
  • In October 2018, Sagar Suryavanshi, an advocate, moved the Bombay High Court seeking a ban on all paid political content online 48 hours before elections.
  • Suryavanshi has withdrawn the case, and informed the High Court that he would join the proceedings before the Supreme Court as an intervener.
  • In July 2019, advocate Amitabh Gupta move the MP High Court seeking mandatory KYC of all social media users using Aadhaar and other identity proof.
  • Facebook argued that these cases involved answering questions related to fundamental rights — specifically the rights to privacy and free speech.
  • If different High Courts heard the cases separately and gave conflicting verdicts, citizens’ fundamental rights could be affected, Facebook argued.

New guidelines on the way

  • The central government informed the apex Court that fresh guidelines for regulating intermediaries under the IT Act were in the pipeline.
  • There are various messages and content spread/shared on the social media, some of which are harmful. Some messages can incite violence.
  • There may be messages which are against the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Social media has today become the source of large amount of pornography.
  • Paedophiles use social media in a big way. Drugs, weapons and other contraband can be sold through the use of platforms run by the intermediaries the court said.
  • In January, the Ministry for Information and Technology had published draft Rules on regulating intermediaries, seeking responses from the public.

Privacy and sovereignty

  • The Madras High Court had sought an affidavit from V Kamakoti, a professor with IIT Madras, who said he could provide the technology to enable the intermediary to decrypt the encrypted message when necessary.
  • WhatsApp, on the other hand, has submitted that it is impossible for it to trace the creator of the “questionable content” since it has end-to-end encryption.
  • While the court highlighted that “de-encryption, if available easily, could defeat the fundamental right of privacy.
  • The court said that de-encryption of messages may be done under special circumstances but it must be ensured that the privacy of an individual is not invaded.
  • At the same time “the sovereignty of the state and the dignity and reputation of an individual are required to be protected”.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Explained: RCEP trade negotiations

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RCEP

Mains level : India's reservations on the RCEP deal


News

  • Negotiations on the final agreement under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are becoming increasingly urgent as the deadline approaches.
  • The final ministerial meeting prior to that concluded recently, but with no final agreement in place.
  • The Leaders Summit, in which PM Modi is taking part, will to be held on November 4 in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • But there are several sticking points that remain preventing a harmonious agreement from taking shape.

What is RCEP?

  • Once finalised, the RCEP trade grouping will be one of the world’s biggest free trade pacts as it includes the 10 ASEAN members, as well as India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
  • These 16 nations account for a little less than half of the world’s population and about a third of the world’s GDP.
  • Trade between the 16 countries also makes up a little more than a quarter of global trade.
  • Talks on finalising RCEP began all the way back in 2012, but have not yet been concluded. The uncertainty in global trade is slowing down talks further.

Potential benefits

  • Once the deal is concluded, it will likely bring stability to trade relations in an area where such ties have historically been unpredictable.
  • The deal — in essence a free trade agreement between the signatories — would open up markets of each of the partner countries to the others.
  • On the face of it, this is a favourable outcome for all involved, but there are some niggling issues, especially between India and China, that are throwing a spanner in the works.

Disadvantages

  • There is a fear that, at a time when the U.S. and China are embroiled in a trade war, a trade grouping with China at the helm would mean that the other countries, including India, would be forced to take its side against the U.S.
  • This is a complicated issue since India has been going to great lengths to further bolster trade with the U.S.
  • In fact, the two countries are currently in talks on a bilateral trade deal, which could be put at risk if India is seen to be overtly siding with China.

India’s issues with RCEP

China Factor

  • The main problem Indian industry has with the RCEP trade deal is that it would give China near-unfettered access to India markets.
  • Cheap imports from China have already been seen to be impacting India’s domestic industry, with the Indian government having taken a number of steps to curb such imports.
  • According to reports from the various RCEP negotiations that have taken place, India would, under the agreement, reduce duties on 80% of items imported from China.
  • While this is a smaller percentage of items as compared to what India is prepared to do for other countries, the figure has nevertheless spooked Indian industry, especially the agriculture and dairy sectors.
  • Under the agreement, India would have to cut duties on 86% of imports from Australia and New Zealand, and 90% for products from ASEAN, Japan and South Korea.

Investment issues

  • India’s problems with RCEP are not restricted to China.
  • There are several other aspects to the RCEP agreement which include investments and e-commerce that are of major concern as well.
  • India has agreed to the investment chapter of the RCEP agreement, which would mean that the government can no longer mandate that a company investing in India must also transfer technology to its Indian partners.
  • The investment chapter also says that a signatory government cannot set a cap on the amount of royalties an Indian company can pay to its foreign parent or partner.
  • These aspects have also raised concerns since technology sharing was a major way in which Indian companies were being able to compete globally.

Way forward

  • However, time is running out. China has already said that the grouping should go ahead without the nay-sayers, with a clause allowing them to join later.
  • This suggestion was echoed by Malaysia as well, but was ultimately rejected.
  • It does not seem a good idea for India to be out of the agreement from its inception, only to join it later.
  • This would mean it would have missed out on the chance to frame the discussions and the precedents from the beginning and would have to accept them later.
  • India should make clear its stance and stick to it.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Explained: Rising tensions between Nagas and Kukis

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kuki Tribals

Mains level : Anglo-Kuki War


News

  • Few groups of the Kuki militants have sought the intervention of PM Modi to subdue the rising tension between the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur.

What is the cause of recent tensions?

  • Tensions between the Kukis and Nagas are not new, and in light of them building up again, the Manipur government ordered that the stone memorials be taken down.
  • The centenary the Anglo-Kuki War was celebrated by a Committee under the aegis of Kuki Inpi Churachandpur (KIC).
  • The KIC which is the apex body of Kuki people in various northeastern states, asked all Kuki villages to install memorial stones with the inscription,
  • But Naga bodies objected to the Kukis installing these stone memorials on the Naga’s ancestral land.

The Anglo-Kuki War

  • Before the British came in, the Kukis had been one of the dominant tribes of hill areas surrounding Imphal during the rule of the Maharajas of Manipur.
  • The Kukis exercised full control over their territory until then.
  • Therefore, the Anglo-Kuki War was essentially a war for the independence and liberation of the Kukis from the imperialists.
  • The war had unified the efforts of Kukis living in northeast India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • Even so, the state of Manipur had already lost its independence to the Britishers in 1891 and became free only after India became independent in 1947.
  • The Anglo-Kuki War began when the Britishers asked the Kukis to get enrolled in their labour corps in France and the latter resisted.

Naga claims it as rebellion

  • The Nagas claimed that the Kukis have been trying to distort history as there has been no “Anglo-Kuki War” but a “Kuki Rebellion” in 1917.
  • The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of the Nagas of Manipur, asserted that the Kuki rebellion against the British was for labour recruitment drive under the Labour Corps Plan.
  • Following this, the Nagas conveyed to the state government to take appropriate steps such that the history of Manipur is not distorted.

What has been the reason for Kuki-Naga clashes in the past?

I. Reorganization of Manipur

  • After the conclusion of the Anglo-Kuki War in 1919, for administrative and logistical ease, the state of Manipur was divided into four areas.
  • It included Imphal, Churachandpur, Tamenglong (that was inhabited by the Kukis, Kabui Nagas and Katcha Nagas) and Ukhrul (that was inhabited by Kukis and the Tangkhul Nagas).
  • The reorganization of Manipur is cited to be the most central result of the war.
  • The Kuki chiefs who were not used to any bureaucratic control in the earlier now had to function bureaucratically.

II. Identity

  • Furthermore, it is believed that Kukis came to Manipur in the late 18th/early 19th century from neighbouring Myanmar.
  • While some of the Kukis settled next to the Myanmar border, others settled in Naga villages, which ultimately became a contentious issue between the two tribes.
  • The relationship between the two worsened during the colonial period and reached a low point during the Anglo-Kuki war, referred to as a “dark period” in the oral history of the Tangkhul Nagas.
  • Essentially, identity and land govern their ethnic conflict.
Tribes in News