Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Govt. to enumerate Sanitation Workers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan

Mains level : Plight of sanitation workers in India

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) is now preparing to undertake a nationwide survey to enumerate all people engaged in the hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.

Why such move?

  • Cleaning of sewers and septic tanks has led to at least 351 deaths since 2017.

Various initiatives for sanitation workers

  • The ministry now has proper distinction between sanitation work and manual scavenging.
  • The practice of manual scavenging no longer takes place in the country as all manual scavengers had been accounted for and enrolled into the rehabilitation scheme, said the ministry.
  • The enumeration of sanitization workers is soon to be conducted across 500 AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities, as a part of National Action Plan for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE).
  • The NAMASTE scheme aims to eradicate unsafe sewer and septic tank cleaning practices.

Manual Scavenging in India

  • Manual scavenging is the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewers or septic tanks.
  • India banned the practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR).
  • The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta till its disposal.
  • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks.
  • The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a “dehumanizing practice,” and cites a need to “correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.”

Why is it still prevalent in India?

  • Low awareness: Manual scavenging is mostly done by the marginalized section of the society and they are generally not aware about their rights.
  • Enforcement issues: The lack of enforcement of the Act and exploitation of unskilled labourers are the reasons why the practice is still prevalent in India.
  • High cost of automated: The Mumbai civic body charges anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 to clean septic tanks.
  • Cheaper availability: The unskilled labourers, meanwhile, are much cheaper to hire and contractors illegally employ them at a daily wage of Rs 300-500.
  • Caste dynamics: Caste hierarchy still exists and it reinforces the caste’s relation with occupation. Almost all the manual scavengers belong to lower castes.

Various policy initiatives

  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: It proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning, introduce ways for ‘on-site’ protection and provide compensation to manual scavengers in case of sewer deaths.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: Superseding the 1993 Act, the 2013 Act goes beyond prohibitions on dry latrines, and outlaws all manual excrement cleaning of insanitary latrines, open drains, or pits.
  • Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan: It started national wide march “Maila Mukti Yatra” for total eradication of manual scavenging from 30th November 2012 from Bhopal.
  • Prevention of Atrocities Act: In 1989, the Prevention of Atrocities Act became an integrated guard for sanitation workers since majority of the manual scavengers belonged to the Scheduled Caste.
  • Compensation: As per the Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act, 2013 and the Supreme Court’s decision in the Safai Karamchari Andolan vs Union of India case, a compensation of Rs 10 lakh is awarded to the victims family.
  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK): It is currently a temporary non-statutory body that investigates the conditions of Safai Karamcharis (waste collectors) in India and makes recommendations to the Government.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Explained: Baloch Freedom Movement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Balochistan, BLA, Khan of Kelat

Mains level : Baloch Freedom Movement

Baloch separatism under the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has been an ongoing issue in Pakistan since the birth of the nation in 1947.

Who are the BLA fighters?

  • The BLA announced itself in 2005 with a rocket attack on a paramilitary camp in Balochistan Kohlu during a visit by then President Pervez Musharraf.
  • It is a nationalist militant group that has been waging an insurgency for Baloch self-determination and a separate homeland for the Baloch people.

Rise of Baloch nationalism

  • While the BLA’s armed insurgency is about two decades old, demands of Baloch nationalists for political autonomy and threats of secession date back to 1947.
  • The Khan of Kalat (who claimed sovereignty over the four princely states of Kalat, Lasbela, Kharan and Makran) held out for independence, and the Pakistan Army forced his accession in March 1948.
  • Between 1973 and 1977, the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto-led government sent in the Pakistan Army to crush a leftist guerilla war inspired by the liberation of Bangladesh.
  • The tribal sardars of Balochistan, who had been at the forefront of Baloch nationalism, and were co-opted by the state in the late 1970s, grew rebellious again.
  • The insurgency gathered momentum from 2006, after the Pakistan Army killed the Bugti sardar, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, who had been also been a chief minister and governor of the province.

Why it is gaining momentum now?

  • The Pakistan Army’s operations against Baloch nationalists over the last two decades have seen hundreds of disappearances, and other alleged human rights violations.
  • Baloch nationalists also see the sudden influx of jihadist groups in the province as a move by the Pakistan security establishment to counter their nationalist demands.
  • In 2012, the US Congress convened a hearing on Balochistan and supported the demand for a free Baloch land.
  • In a significant shift in policy, back then in 2016, PM Modi had made a reference to the Baloch freedom struggle in his Independence Day speech.

Why does Balochistan matters?

  • Balochistan borders Afghanistan and Iran.
  • The people are mostly tribal with secular principles and are admirers of ties with India.
  • With gas, oil, copper and gold deposits, it is the most resource-rich of Pakistan’s four provinces.
  • It makes up half of Pakistan’s area, but has only 3.6% of its population.
  • Pakistan alleges that the insurgency is backed by India.
  • This is the region where a former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was abducted from Iran and charged for espionage supporting Baloch activism in Pakistan.
  • Many Baloch activists had been seeking asylum and has applied for Indian citizenship. New Delhi neither confirmed nor deny the reports.

Why did BLA target the Chinese now?

  • The BLA claimed it attacks Chinese nationals because Beijing ignored warnings not to enter deals and agreements regarding Balochistan before the province had been “liberated”.
  • Baloch people see China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a neo-colonist move against their sovereignty.
  • Among China’s major projects in Balochistan is the port of Gwadar, strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz – a crucial oil shipping route in the Arabian Sea.
  • The security of its nationals in Pakistan has become a major issue for Beijing, especially since it launched the CPEC.
  • Such attacks has literally stalled the work in progress of CPEC projects making it a sheer failure.

Significance of recent events

  • It is rare that the BLA deployed female suicide bombers. Recent attack was done by a highly educated lady and mother of two.
  • This is also the first time that a non-jihadist ethno-nationalist group has deployed a woman suicide bomber in the manner of Sri Lanka’s LTTE.
  • According to security experts familiar with the Baloch insurgency, it marks a worsening security situation in Pakistan.
  • As the training camps are alleged by Pakistan to be in Afghanistan, the incident may also be a pointer to Pakistan’s loss of control over the Talibans.

 

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Uniform Civil Code: Triple Talaq debate, Polygamy issue, etc.

Need of uniform civil code

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UCC

Mains level : Read the attached story

Context

  • The Portuguese Civil Code of 1867, the so-called “common civil code” of Goa, is in the news again. A 28-member parliamentary standing committee headed by senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member, Sushil Kumar Modi, recently visited the state to study it in the context of the demand for a uniform civil code.
  • India Needs Uniform Civil Code; One Nation, One Law Will Restore Equality and Gender Parity

Definition

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.

Importance of article 44

  • The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country.

Brief history of UCC

  • The origin of the UCC dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.

Objectives of UCC:

  • Bringing simplicity in personal laws: When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others.
  • Uniformity across country: The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all.  The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
  • National integration: The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Babasaheb Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity.

Why it is needed now

  • To counter the gender disparity produced by specific personal laws: India has a history of severely patriarchal and misogynistic traditions perpetuated by society and ancient religious norms that continue to dominate family life.
  • Plugging the loopholes in legal system: By legalising personal laws, we’ve established a parallel court system based on thousands of ancient values. By eliminating all loopholes, the universal civil code would tip the balance in favour of society.
  • Reaffirming equality to everyone: While Muslims are permitted to marry many times in India, a Hindu or a Christian will face prosecution for doing the same. Similarly, there are significant disparities between many religious-related regulations.
  • Addressing problem of vote bank politics: If all religions are subject to the same laws, there will be no room for politicising issues of discrimination, concessions, or special privileges enjoyed by a particular community on the basis of their religious personal laws.
  • Infusing secularism: At the moment, we practise selective secularism, which means that we are secular in some areas but not in others. A Uniform Civil Code requires all citizens of India to adhere to the same set of laws, regardless of whether they follow Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Sikhism.

SC verdict on UCC: Daniel Latifi Case

This case demonstrates how universally applicable law should prevail over unjust religious laws. In this case, Muslim Women’s Act (MWA) was challenged for violation of Articles 14, 15 & 21 of the Constitution. The primary point of contention was the amount paid throughout the iddat period. The Supreme Court upheld the act’s constitutionality but interpreted it in accordance with Section 125 of the CrPC, holding that the amount received by a wife during the iddat period should be sufficient to support her during the iddat period as well as for the remainder of her life or until she remarries.

 

Challenges ahead in its application

  • Less education to understand this: India is a country of a diverse culture where the beliefs of the people are too vehement but with the right communication and education to all the religious groups, the implementation can take place efficiently and effectively.
  • Apprehension of some people: Fear of the certain section of society who are subjected to the special rights, shall be addressed since such rights will have no impact or interference by enactment of the Uniform Civil Code, which shall be ensured to the society as this is one of their Fundamental Rights as under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution.

Case study of Goa:

It is pertinent to note that the State of Goa is the first State to implement a uniform civil code since its liberation from the Portuguese in 1961. The Supreme Court has even hailed Goa as a shining example where the uniform civil code is applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.

Conclusion

  • With so much diversity, India needs something like a UCC which can work as an agent to promote uniformity and to some extent mute the sound pollution created by the religious radical forces.
  • On individual level, it is important to understand UCC is with the objective of One Nation, One Lawsided by oneness among the people rather than a mere tool to overcome oppression and discrimination against women or a target on a particular religion.

Try this question:

 

What is uniform civil code? Do you think that right time has arrived to implement it? Discuss challenges in its implementation with your suggestions to overcome the same.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022

Mains level : Read the attached story

While the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 was enacted earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified it to come into effect from August 4, 2022. It also repeals the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

  • This act provides legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for “taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters”.
  • The Minister of Home Affairs has observed that with advancements in forensics, there was a need to recognise more kinds of “measurements” that can be used by law enforcement agencies for investigation.

What is the use of identification details in criminal trials?

  • Measurements and photographs for identification have three main purposes:
  1. To establish the identity of the culprit against the person being arrested
  2. To identify suspected repetition of similar offences by the same person and third
  3. To establish a previous conviction

What was the previous Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920?

  • Even though the police has powers of arrest, mere arrest does not give Police the right to search a person.
  • The police requires legal sanction to search the person and collect evidence.
  • These legal sanctions are designed so as to maintain a balance between the rights of an individual and the interests of society in prosecution and prevention of offences.
  • The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 became a necessity when the recording of newer forms of evidence such as fingerprints, footprints and measurements started becoming more accurate and reliable.

What was the need to replace this Act?

  • Over the years, the need to amend/update the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 has been voiced several times.
  • In 1980, the 87th Report of the Law Commission of India undertook a review of this legislation and recommended several amendments.
  • This was done in the backdrop of the State of UP vs Ram Babu Misra case, where the Supreme Court had highlighted the need for amending this law.
  • The first set of recommendations laid out the need to amend the Act to expand the scope of measurements to include “palm impressions”, “specimen of signature or writing” and “specimen of voice”.
  • The second set of recommendations raised the need of allowing measurements to be taken for proceedings other than those under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

What are the main highlights and differences in both the legislations?

  • Like the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, the new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 provides for legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for the collection of measurements.
  • The purpose is to create a useable database of these measurements.
  • At the State level, each State is required to notify an appropriate agency to collect and preserve this database of measurements.
  • At the national level, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is the designated agency to manage, process, share and disseminate the records collected at the State level.

What are some of the concerns with the present legislation?

  • The new legislation has raised some concerns related to the protection of fundamental rights.
  • The legislation comes in the backdrop of the right to privacy being recognised as a fundamental right.
  • A fundamental facet of the right to privacy is protection from the invasion of one’s physical privacy.
  • As per the Puttaswamy judgment, there is a need for the measure to be taken in pursuance of a legitimate aim of the state, be backed by the law and be “necessary and proportionate” to the aim being sought to be achieved.

(1) Various tests behind

  • In this case, while the first two tests are satisfied, as:
  1. prevention and investigation of crime” is a legitimate aim of the state
  2. measurements” are being taken under a valid legislation,
  • Satisfaction of the third test of “necessity and proportionality” has been challenged on multiple counts.

(2) A probable police state in making

  • Analysis and measurement of behavioural attributes have raised concerns that data processing may go beyond recording of core “measurements”.
  • That is some of these measurements could be processed for predictive policing.

(3) Includes petty offences

  • The current law allows for “measurements” to be taken if a person has been convicted/arrested for any offence, including petty offences.
  • The necessity of taking measurements of such persons for investigation of offences is unclear, and such discretion is likely to result in abuse of the law at lower levels.
  • This would definitely overburden the systems used for collection and storage of these measurements.

(4) Period of storage of data

  • Given that these records will be stored for 75 years from the time of collection, the law has been criticised as being disproportionate.

(5) Surveillance state

  • Such collection can also result in mass surveillance, with the database under this law being combined with other databases such as those of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).

(6) Promotes self-incrimination

  • Concerns are being raised that the present law violates the right against self-incrimination enshrined in Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.
  • However, this argument is nebulous since the Supreme Court has already settled this point.
  • In the State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad, the Supreme Court had conclusively held that “non-communicative” evidence i.e. evidence which does not convey information within the personal knowledge of the accused cannot be understood to be leading to self-incrimination.
  • Therefore, no challenge lies to the law on this ground.

Way forward

  • Extensive pre-legislative consultation is must for any sensitive law as such.
  • Privacy and data protection-related concerns must be addressed in the Rules formulated under the legislation and through model Prison Manuals that States can refer to.

 

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J&K – The issues around the state

UN appoints new leader of UNMOGIP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNMOGIP

Mains level : Internationalization of Kashmir Issue

The United Nations (UN) has appointed Rear Admiral Guillermo Pablo Rios of Argentina as the Head of Mission and Chief Military Observer for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

What is UNMOGIP?

  • The first group of UN military observers arrived in the mission area on 24 January of 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • These observers, under the command of the Military Adviser appointed by the UN Secretary-General, formed the nucleus of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

Functions of UNMOGIP

  • Following renewed hostilities of 1971, UNMOGIP has remained in the area to observe developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of 17 December 1971 and report thereon to the UN Secretary-General.
  • The Karachi Agreement of July 1949 firmed up the role of UN-level military observers and permitted supervision of the Ceasefire Line established in Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian contentions with UNMOGIP

  • India has not officially gone to the UNMOGIP since 1972 with complaints against Pakistan.
  • India officially maintains that the UNMOGIP’s role was “overtaken” by the Simla Agreement of 1972 that established the Line of Control or the LoC.
  • This with minor deviations followed the earlier Ceasefire Line.
  • Pakistan, however, did not accept the Indian argument and continued to seek cooperation from the UNMOGIP.
  • As a result of these divergent policies, Pakistan continues to lodge complaints with the UNMOGIP against alleged Indian ceasefire violations.

Substantiation of India’s stance

  • Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, India has adopted a non-recognition policy towards third parties in their bilateral exchanges with Pakistan over the question regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Kashmir and the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism within now is largely an internal matter of India.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Significance of India’s talks with NATO

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATO

Mains level : India-NATO relations

It has been learnt that India had held its first political dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Brussels on December 12, 2019.

The idea was to ensure the dialogue was primarily political in character, and to avoid making any commitment on military or other bilateral cooperation.

What is NATO?

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Why was it founded?

Ans. Communist sweep in Europe post-WWII and rise of Soviet dominance

  • After World War II in 1945, Western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak, and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy.
  • By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and Eastern Europe.
  • By 1948 communists under Moscow’s sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all non-communist political activity.
  • What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and Eastern Europe.

Ideology of NATO

  • NATO ensures that the security of its European member countries is inseparably linked to that of its North American member countries.
  • It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • It also provides a unique forum for dialogue and cooperation across the Atlantic.

Key feature: Article 5

  • Article 5 was a key part of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, or Washington Treaty, and was meant to offer a collective defence against a potential invasion of Western Europe.
  • It states: (NATO members) will assist the party or parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
  • However, since then, it has only been invoked once, soon after the 9/11 attack in the United States.

What is the significance of India’s talks with NATO?

  • India’s talks with NATO hold significance given that the North Atlantic alliance has been engaging both China and Pakistan in bilateral dialogue.
  • There was a view here that given the role of Beijing and Islamabad in New Delhi’s strategic imperatives, reaching out to NATO would add a key dimension to India’s growing engagement with US and Europe.
  • Until December 2019, NATO had held nine rounds of talks with Beijing, and the Chinese Ambassador in Brussels and NATO’s Deputy Secretary General engaged with each other every quarter.
  • NATO had also been in political dialogue and military cooperation with Pakistan; it opened selective training for Pakistani officers and its military delegation visited Pakistan in November 2019 for military staff talks.

Was there any common ground?

  • In New Delhi’s assessment, there was a convergence in the perspectives of both India and NATO on China, terrorism, and Afghanistan, including Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.
  • The first dialogue, it is learnt, revealed three critical issues on which India expected only limited common ground with NATO:
  1. NATO’s perspective: It was not China, but Russia whose aggressive actions continued to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security, and NATO had faced difficulties to convene meetings of the NATO-Russia Council due to Russian refusal to place issues such as Ukraine and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on the agenda.
  2. Divergence among NATO countries: NATOs view on China was seen as mixed; while it did deliberate on China’s rise, the conclusion was that China presented both a challenge and an opportunity.
  3. Divergences over Taliban: In Afghanistan, NATO saw the Taliban as a political entity, which was not in line with India’s stance. This was almost two years before the Taliban announced an interim government in Afghanistan in September 2021.

India-NATO talks: Is there a common ground on China?

  • In its first round of talks with NATO, New Delhi realised it did not share a common ground with the grouping on Russia and the Taliban.
  • With NATO’s views on China are mixed, given the divergent views of its members, India’s Quad membership is aimed at countering Beijing.
  • Otherwise, the alliance’s engagement with China and Pakistan separately would leave it with lopsided perspectives on regional and global security matters of concern to India, sourced said.

What are the next steps?

  • NATO delegation have expressed interest to continue engagement with India on a mutually agreed agenda.
  • In NATO’s view, India, given its geo-strategic position and unique perspectives on various issues, was relevant to international security and could be an important partner in informing the alliance about India’s own region and beyond.
  • As far as India is concerned, it was felt New Delhi may consider proposals emanating from NATO, if any, on bilateral cooperation in areas of interest to India, based on the progress achieved in the initial rounds.

 

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Electoral Reforms In India

SC to take up plea to ban convicts from polls for life

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Decriminalization of Politics

The Supreme Court has said that it would consider a plea seeking a lifetime ban on people convicted of offenses from contesting elections and becoming MPs and MLAs.

Why such petition?

  • The petition has made a very logical argument that even a constable can lose his job after conviction for corruption.
  • The Centre maintained affirmation on the existing (namesake) bar of disqualification was enough for legislators.
  • The disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 is the period of prison sentence and six years thereafter.

What did the Centre argue against lifetime ban?

  • In 2017, the ECI endorsed the call for a life ban in the top court. This was a boost for the cause of decriminalisation of politics.
  • In Dec 2020, the Centre rejected the idea of a lifetime ban on convicted persons contesting elections or forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.
  • It had reasoned that MPs and MLAs were not bound by specific “service conditions”.
  • They are bound by their oath to serve citizens and country along with propriety, good conscience and interest of the nation.

Criminalization of politics: Indian Case

  • The criminalization of politics has become a headache for the Indian democracy and it is a harsh reality now.
  • Criminalization of politics in India includes political control of the police, state money, corruption, weak laws, lack of ethics, values, vote bank politics and loopholes in the function of the election commission.
  • Deep down, it’s a large nexus of police, money, corrupt bureaucracy, casteism, religion and the drawbacks of functioning in the election commission.

Why are tainted candidates inducted by political parties?

  • Innocent until proven guilty maxim: The other reason offered by political parties is summarised by the maxim of Indian law, which is that any accused is innocent until proven guilty.
  • Popularity: Such candidates with serious records seem to do well despite their public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and bring substantive resources to their respective parties.
  • Prospected victory: The logic of a candidate with criminal charges doing better for the cause of people of is another flawed argument.
  • Destabilizing other electors: Others do not seek to punish these candidates in instances where they are in contest with other candidates with similar records.
  • Vested interests: Some voters tend to view such candidates through a narrow prism: of being able to represent their interests by hook or by crook.

A harsh reality of Political Asylum

  • The NN Vohra committee’s report on the criminalization of politics discussed how criminal gangs flourish under the care and protection of politicians.
  • Many times the candidates themselves are the gang leaders.
  • This protection is paid back to them during elections through capital investment in election spending and voter support.

Issues with Criminals in Politics

  • Morality of the process: It is extremely important that the people who enter the field of politics have a clear image and high moral character.
  • No rule of law: A leader with criminal character undoubtedly tends to undermine the rule of law.
  • Violation of right to equality: There were 4.78 lakh prisoners (as of December 2019) of whom 3.30 lakh were under trial, i.e. not yet proven guilty.
  • Problem of undertrial: An “innocent” undertrial cannot vote, but a man chargesheeted for murder can even contest election from jail.

Supreme Courts guidelines in this regard

The Supreme Court earlier in Feb 2020 had ordered political parties to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

  • Reasons for nomination: It has also asked for the reasons that goaded them to field suspected criminals over decent people.
  • Publication of records: The information should be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles.
  • 48hr time frame: It should mandatorily be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
  • Contempt for non-compliance: It also ordered political parties to submit compliance reports with the Election Commission of India within 72 hours or risk contempt of court action.
  • No escape: The judgment is applicable to parties both at Central and State levels.

Immediate Reason for Judicial Action

  • The immediate provocation is the finding that 46% of MPs have criminal records.
  • The number might be inflated as many politicians tend to be charged with relatively minor offences —“unlawful assembly” and “defamation”.
  • The real worry is that the current cohort of Lok Sabha MPs has the highest (29%) proportion of those with serious declared criminal cases compared to its recent predecessors.

Way forward

(1) ECI suggestion on vendetta politics

The ECI has suggested some safeguards against vendetta politics.

  • First, only offences that carry an imprisonment of at least 5 years are to be considered.
  • The case against the candidate should have been filed at least six months before the scheduled elections for it to be considered.
  • And finally, a competent court must have framed the charges.

(2) Speedy trials

  • An alternative solution would be to try cases against political candidates in fast-track courts.
  • The SC had sent a directive in 2014, directing that cases against political candidates must be completed within a year, failing which the matter should be reported to the CJs.

(3) Legislative reforms

  • We must have a law which debars persons with serious criminal cases from entering the assemblies and the Parliament.
  • There must be stringent criteria in Representation of Peoples Act as well.

(4) Revamping Criminal Justice System

  • The criminal justice system must be revamped as recommended by the Malimath Committee.
  • An institution comprising representatives of the police/CBI/NIA, IB, IT department, Revenue Intelligence and Enforcement Directorate should be set up to monitor the activities of the mafia and criminal syndicates in the country.

 

 

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Digital India Initiatives

Microsoft joins India’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ONDC

Mains level : Read the attached story

US firm Microsoft has become the first big tech company to join the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

What does Microsoft joining ONDC mean?

  • Microsoft getting on board the ONDC wagon means the project gets its first international marquee name ahead of its Bengaluru launch.
  • A number of participants are currently live on the ONDC network, offering a number of services in the e-commerce supply chain such as buying, selling and offering logistics services.

Who else is on board

  • Among those that are live are Paytm, which has joined the platform as a buyer, and Reliance-backed Dunzo, which is offering logistics services for hyperlocal deliveries.
  • Companies like Kotak, PhonePe, Zoho and Snapdeal are in the “advanced stage of development”, according to the ONDC website.
  • Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Airtel have already initiated integration with the network.
  • According to some media reports, e-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon are also considering joining the network.

What is ONDC?

  • ONDC seeks to promote open networks, which are developed using the open-source methodology.
  • The project is aimed at curbing “digital monopolies”.
  • This is a step in the direction of making e-commerce processes open-source, thus creating a platform that can be utilized by all online retailers.
  • They will encourage the usage of standardized open specifications and open network protocols, which are not dependent on any particular platform or customized one.

What does one mean by ‘Open-sourcing’?

  • An open-source project means that anybody is free to use, study, modify and distribute the project for any purpose.
  • These permissions are enforced through an open-source licence easing adoption and facilitating collaboration.

What processes are expecting to be open-sourced with this project?

  • Several operational aspects including onboarding of sellers, vendor discovery, price discovery and product cataloguing could be made open source on the lines of Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • If mandated, this could be problematic for larger e-commerce companies, which have proprietary processes and technology deployed for these segments of operations.

What is the significance of making something open-source?

  • Making a software or a process open-source means that the code or the steps of that process is made available freely for others to use, redistribute and modify.
  • If the ONDC gets implemented and mandated, it would mean that all e-commerce companies will have to operate using the same processes.
  • This could give a huge booster shot to smaller online retailers and new entrants.

What does the DPIIT intend from the project?

  • ONDC is expected to digitize the entire value chain, standardize operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for stakeholders and consumers.

Countering ‘Digital Monopoly’

  • Digital monopolies refer to a scenario wherein e-commerce giants or Big Tech companies tend to dominate and flout competition law pertaining to monopoly.
  • The Giants have built their own proprietary platforms for operations.
  • In March, India moved to shake up digital monopolies in the country’s $ 1+ trillion retail market by making public a draft of a code of conduct — Draft Ecommerce Policy, reported Bloomberg.
  • The government sought to help local start-ups and reduce the dominance of giants such as Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart.
  • The rules sought to define the cross-border flow of user data after taking into account complaints by small retailers.

Processes in the ONDC

  • Sellers will be onboarded through open networks. Other open-source processes will include those such as vendor and price discovery; and product cataloging.
  • The format will be similar to the one which is used in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Mega e-commerce companies have proprietary processes and technology for these operations.
  • Marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, BigBasket and Grofers will need to register on the ONDC platform to be created by DPIIT and QCI.
  • The task of implementing DPIIT’s ONDC project has been assigned to the Quality Council of India (QCI).

Why such a move by the govt?

  • This COVID pandemic has made every business to go digital.
  • India is a country with 700 million internet users of whom large crunch of population are active buyers on e-coms.
  • There are 9 platforms in the world which are billion user platform and all are private. This is the monopoly which the govt aims to hit.
  • No country would ever want a few (foreign) companies to control their domestic e-commerce ecosystem.
  • Countries like US are struggling to control their monopoly over the e-commerce giants leaving no space for Indian legislations to control these overseas companies.
  • In India Amazon, Walmart, Uber are controlling larger crunch of share in the market leaving very less scope for domestic companies to cope up with.

Scope for ONDCs success

  • Over last 50 years India is dealing with Big Tech companies with responsibility and pragmatic manner. Now it is also coming with new policies to control them.
  • The drafting panel has extraordinary persons like Mr. Nandan Nilekani and others who were in Aadhar, NPCI, MyGov, Retail industry and these make it inclusive and innovative.
  • India has successfully executed various public digital platforms like JAM Trinity, Aadhar linked projects. India for sure can handle its digital ecosystem better in e-coms too.
  • Open-sourcing will benefit society at large as did the UPI.

Issues that can be raised

  • Draft E-Commerce policy can raise resistance from companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Walmart etc.
  • They may raise hues over operability and ease of doing business.
  • MSMEs have already raised the growing compliance burden for e-commerce.
  • They have argued that the govt is technologically and digitally motivating everybody to get online and on the other hand it is culling their very ability to reach out to the consumer to get more people on board.

Possible issues with ONDC

  • Every platform has its own challenges so would the ONDC may have.
  • While UPI was ruled out (BHIM being the first) people were reluctant in using it due to transaction failures.
  • With subsequent improvements and openness people and businesses are using it in every walks of life. So it would work with ONDC.

Conclusion

  • Once adopted, ONDC will make sure consumer and seller interest will be protected as the UPI did.
  • Best is yet to come and we are in 4th industrial revolution where the Govt should strengthen itself accordingly and make businesses inclusive and restrict the monopolies.

 

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Black Money – Domestic and International Efforts

Decoding the Crypto Route for Money Laundering

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cryptocurrency

Mains level : Money laundering

Money laundering is one of the key charges made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against crypto exchange WazirX.

Also a leader in Maharashtra has made ridiculous claim after ED inquiry that he has made Rs.15 Lakh by investing only Rs.5000 in crypto.

Are Blockchains traceable?

  • Transactions on a blockchain are always traceable.
  • Most courts and law enforcement bodies around the world have recognized their immutable nature and accept blockchain records as legal proof of transaction histories.
  • However, crypto transactions can sometimes happen “off-chain”, or other methods can be used to obfuscate the flow of funds.
  • Moreover, blockchains are like conveyor belts, which facilitate the flow of crypto from one wallet to another.
  • The identity of the person who holds that wallet has to be ascertained by the wallet service provider and this is often not done to protect user privacy.

How do they hide transaction trails?

  • One of the most common methods used by hackers and criminals, is called mixing or tumbler.
  • As each crypto token is traceable, tumblers break down multiple tokens from different blockchains and mix them.
  • They then transfer the original amount to the owner, but through multiple transactions and from multiple wallets, obfuscating the trail.
  • Illicit users also transfer traceable tokens to privacy-centric blockchains such as Monero, which hide wallet addresses and particulars.
  • There are also over-the-counter brokers who accept payments in any form, including cash, and transfer the equivalent amount in crypto to a user’s wallet.

What has ED accused Binance and WazirX of?

  • Among other things, the ED claims that WazirX’s holding company is offering “contradictory and ambiguous answers” about crypto-to-crypto transactions made on WazirX.
  • The ED said WazirX had failed to provide data and show transactions on its blockchain for purchases made by numerous under-investigation fintech firms.

How do off-chain transactions work?

  • When users withdraw crypto from an exchange, they enter a wallet address and the tokens are transferred, with a record being maintained on the blockchain.
  • However, they also have to pay a gas fee, which is used to pay miners on the blockchain.
  • To avoid this fee, two platforms can integrate with each other and allow users to transfer crypto without using the blockchain.
  • Such transactions can raise questions regarding the tracing of money, as the records aren’t maintained on the blockchain.

How can exchanges prevent laundering?

  • Exchanges could adopt a resolution on KYC data and maintain transaction logs for eight to 10 years on a blockchain, said industry stakeholders.
  • The use of KYC-compliant wallets could help add a layer of traceability.
  • However, KYC norms for wallets held on platforms outside India can differ from those in India.
  • Some blockchain research firms are also working on machine learning-based tools that can flag illicit accounts.

Back2Basics: Cryptocurrency

  • Cryptocurrency is a digital payment system that doesn’t rely on banks to verify transactions.
  • It’s a peer-to-peer system that can enable anyone anywhere to send and receive payments.
  • Instead of being physical money carried around and exchanged in the real world, cryptocurrency payments exist purely as digital entries to an online database describing specific transactions.
  • When you transfer cryptocurrency funds, the transactions are recorded in a public ledger. Cryptocurrency is stored in digital wallets.
  • The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009 and remains the best known today.
  • Much of the interest in cryptocurrencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving prices skyward.

How does cryptocurrency work?

  • Cryptocurrencies run on a distributed public ledger called blockchain, a record of all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • Units of cryptocurrency are created through a process called mining, which involves using computer power to solve complicated mathematical problems that generate coins.
  • Users can also buy the currencies from brokers, then store and spend them using cryptographic wallets.
  • If you own cryptocurrency, you don’t own anything tangible. What you own is a key that allows you to move a record or a unit of measure from one person to another without a trusted third party.
  • Although Bitcoin has been around since 2009, cryptocurrencies and applications of blockchain technology are still emerging in financial terms, and more uses are expected in the future.
  • Transactions including bonds, stocks, and other financial assets could eventually be traded using the technology.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

India-Bangladesh River Disputes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : India-Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh are likely to ink at least one major river agreement later this month.

It is gauged that India has agreed to offer Bangladesh a package on river waters-related deals that will be considered a significant advancement in terms of sharing of river resources with Dhaka.

Why in news?

  • There is a strong possibility that an agreement on the River Kushiyara that flows from Assam into Bangladesh is part of one such agreement.
  • This river got its fame in recent Assam floods.
  • Water sharing is considered a sensitive subject given the fact that it often takes political meaning.

Rivers between India and Bangladesh

  • Overall, India and Bangladesh have 54 transboundary rivers between them, all of which are part of the drainage system of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin.
  • The Padma (the Ganga), the Jamuna (the Brahmaputra) and the Meghna (the Barak) and their tributaries are integral in maintaining food and water security in Bangladesh.
  • In most of these cases, Bangladesh is the lower riparian.
  • This causes concern in Bangladesh that India—being both the upper riparian and first to develop the water resources—can have far more disproportionate control over the rivers.
  • Compounded by the lack of transparent data regarding trans-boundary rivers, such concern can lead to a more serious conflict between the two otherwise friendly neighbours.

Genesis of the disputes

  • The issues between India and Bangladesh regarding water resource allotment can be traced to the time Bangladesh was still East Pakistan.
  • In 1961, India began construction of the Farakka Barrage—which was to be operational by April 1975—to divert a portion of the dry-season flow and increase the navigability of Kolkata port.
  • When India began its preliminary planning for the project in 1950-51, Pakistan immediately expressed concerns over the potential effect of the project on East Pakistan.

Moves for disputes resolution: Joint River Commission

  • Soon after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the Joint River Commission was formed between India and Bangladesh in 1972.
  • In a joint declaration issued on 16 May 1974, the PM of Bangladesh and India acknowledged the need for the flow augmentation of the Ganga in the lean season to meet the requirements of both countries.

Often in news: Teesta River Dispute

  • The Bangladesh government has been insistent on sealing the Teesta Waters Agreement, which has eluded settlement so far.
  • Teesta River is a 315 km long river that rises in the eastern Himalayas, flows through the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal through Bangladesh and enters the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
  • It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • Originally, it continued southward to empty directly into the Padma River but around 1787 the river changed its course to flow eastward to join the Jamuna river.
  • The Teesta Barrage dam helps to provide irrigation for the plains between the upper Padma and the Jamuna.

What is the dispute about?

  • The point of contention between India and Bangladesh is mainly the lean season flow in the Teesta draining into Bangladesh.
  • The river covers nearly the entire floodplains of Sikkim while draining 2,800 sq km of Bangladesh, governing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
  • For West Bengal, Teesta is equally important, considered the lifeline of half-a-dozen districts in North Bengal.
  • Bangladesh has sought an “equitable” distribution of Teesta waters from India, on the lines of the Ganga Water Treaty of 1996, but to no avail.
  • The failure to ink a deal had its fallout on the country’s politics, putting the ruling party of PM Sheikh Hasina in a spot.

Q.The hydrological linkages between India and Bangladesh are a product of geography and a matter of shared history. Discuss this statement in line with the Teesta water sharing dispute.

The deal

  • Following a half-hearted deal in 1983, when a nearly equal division of water was proposed, the countries hit a roadblock. The transient agreement could not be implemented.
  • Talks resumed after the Awami League returned to power in 2008 and the former Indian PM Manmohan Singh visited Dhaka in 2011.
  • In 2015, PM Modi’s visit to Dhaka generated more ebullient lines: deliberations were underway involving all the stakeholders to conclude the agreement as soon as possible.

Issues from the Indian side

  • It remains an unfinished project and one of the key stakeholders — West Bengal CM is yet to endorse the deal.
  • Her objection is connected to “global warming. Many of the glaciers on the Teesta basin have retreated.
  • The importance of the flow and the seasonal variation of this river is felt during the lean season (from October to April/May) as the average flow is about 500 million cubic metres (MCM) per month.
  • The CM opposed an arrangement in 2011, by which India would get 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of the water during the lean season, and the plan was shelved.

Why does this deal matters?

  • India and Bangladesh have resolved border problems through the Land Boundary Agreement of 2015.
  • However, both nations have locked horns over the sharing of multiple rivers that define the borders and impact lives and livelihoods on both sides.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s problem with top US senator visiting Taiwan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : US meddling in China-Tawian friction

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, landed in Taiwan, ignoring Chinese threats and a warning by President Xi Jinping to “not play with fire”.

Why in news?

  • Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is the highest-level visit by an American official to the island in a quarter century.
  • The senior US politician has been critical of China on multiple fronts over the decades.

US defiance of One China Policy

  • The US has maintained a ‘One China’ policy since the 1970s, under which it recognises Taiwan as a part of China.
  • But it has unofficial ties with Taiwan as well — a strategy that is known as strategic or deliberate ambiguity.
  • Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China, threatens it frequently, and has not ruled out taking the island by military force at any time.

Why does China have a problem with Pelosi visiting Taiwan?

  • For China, the presence of a senior American figure in Taiwan would indicate some kind of US support for Taiwan’s independence.
  • This move severely undermined China’s perception of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Brief history of China-Taiwan Tensions

  • Taiwan is an island about 160 km off the coast of southeastern China, opposite the Chinese cities of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen.
  • It was administered by the imperial Qing dynasty, but its control passed to the Japanese in 1895.
  • After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the island passed back into Chinese hands.
  • After the communists led by Mao Zedong won the civil war in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the nationalist Kuomintang party, fled to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Chiang Kai-shek set up the government of the Republic of China on the island, and remained President until 1975.
  • Beijing has never recognised the existence of Taiwan as an independent political entity, arguing that it was always a Chinese province.

Taiwanese stance

  • Taiwan says that the modern Chinese state was only formed after the revolution of 1911.
  • It was not a part of that state or of the People’s Republic of China that was established after the communist revolution.
  • While the political tensions have continued, China and Taiwan have had economic ties.
  • Many migrants from Taiwan work in China, and China has investments in Taiwan.
  • No doubt, cultural ties are indispensable.
  • In recent years, Taiwan’s government has said only the island’s 23 million people have the right to decide their future and that it will defend itself when attacked.
  • Since 2016, Taiwan has elected a party that leans towards independence.

How does the world, and US, view Taiwan?

  • The UN does NOT recognise Taiwan as a separate country; in fact, only 13 countries around the world — mainly in South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and the Vatican — do.
  • In June, President Biden said that the US would defend Taiwan if it was invaded, but it was clarified soon afterward but America does not support Taiwan’s independence.
  • While the US has no formal ties with Taipei, it remains Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.

 

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History- Important places, persons in news

80 years of Quit India Movement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quit India Movement

Mains level : Read the attached story

On this day 80 years ago — on August 9, 1942 — the people of India launched the decisive final phase of the struggle for independence through the Quit India Movement.

Quit India Movement

  • It was a mass upsurge against colonial rule on a scale not seen earlier, and it sent out the unmistakable message that the sun was about to set on the British Empire in India.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, who had told the Raj to “Quit India” on the previous day (August 8) was already in jail along with the entire Congress leadership.
  • So when August 9 dawned, the people were on their own — out on the street, driven by the Mahatma’s call of “Do or Die”.
  • This truly people-led movement was eventually crushed violently by the British, but by then it was clear that nothing short of their final departure was acceptable to India’s masses.

The slogan ‘Quit India’

  • While Gandhi gave the clarion call of Quit India, the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as Mayor of Bombay.
  • A few years ago, in 1928, it was Meherally who had coined the slogan “Simon Go Back”.

Build-up to August 1942

  • Failure of Cripps Mission: While factors leading to such a movement had been building up, matters came to a head with the failure of the Cripps Mission. With WW2 raging, the beleaguered British government needed the cooperation of its colonial subjects. With this in mind, in March 1942, a mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India to meet leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League.
  • Betrayal on WW2 Promises: The idea was to secure India’s whole-hearted support in the war, and the return offer to Indians was the promise of self-governance. But things did not go that way.
  • No complete freedom: Despite the promise of “the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India”, Cripps only offered dominion status, not freedom.
  • Unviable partition plan: Also, there was a provision for the partition of India, which was not acceptable to the Congress.

Gandhiji’s departure from non-violent struggle

  • The failure of the Cripps Mission made Gandhi realise that freedom would come only if Indians fought tooth and nail for it.
  • The Congress was initially reluctant to launch a movement that could hamper Britain’s efforts to defeat the fascist forces. But it eventually decided on mass civil disobedience.
  • At the Working Committee meeting in Wardha in July 1942, it was decided the time had come for the movement to move into an active phase.

Gandhi’s address: Do or Die

  • On August 8, 1942, Gandhi addressed the people in the Gowalia Tank maidan in Bombay (Mumbai). “Here is a mantra, a short one that I give you.
  • Imprint it on your hearts, so that in every breath you give expression to it,” he said.
  • “The mantra is: ‘Do or Die’. We shall either free India or die trying; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery,” Gandhi said.
  • Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the Tricolour on the ground. The Quit India movement had been officially announced.
  • The government cracked down immediately, and by August 9, Gandhi and all other senior Congress leaders had been jailed.
  • Gandhi was taken to the Aga Khan Palace in Poona (Pune), and later to Yerwada jail. It was during this time that Kasturba Gandhi died at the Aga Khan Palace.

Course of events

(1) People vs. the Raj

  • The arrest of their leaders failed to deter the masses.
  • With no one to give directions, people took the movement into their own hands.
  • In Bombay, Poona, and Ahmedabad, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Indians clashed with the police.
  • The following day (August 10), protests erupted in Delhi, UP, and Bihar.
  • There were strikes, demonstrations and people’s marches in defiance of prohibitory orders in Kanpur, Patna, Varanasi, and Allahabad.
  • The protests spread rapidly into smaller towns and villages.
  • Till mid-September, police stations, courts, post offices, and other symbols of government authority came under repeated attack.

(2) Working class involvement

  • Railway tracks were blocked, students went on strike in schools and colleges across India, and distributed illegal nationalist literature.
  • Mill and factory workers in Bombay, Ahmedabad, Poona, Ahmednagar, and Jamshedpur stayed away for weeks.

(3) Violent phase

  • Bridges were blown up, telegraph wires were cut, and railway lines were taken apart.

Outcome: Brutal suppression

  • The Quit India movement was violently suppressed by the British — people were shot and lathi-charged, villages were burnt, and backbreaking fines were imposed.
  • In the five months up to December 1942, an estimated 60,000 people had been thrown into jail.
  • However, though the movement was quelled, it changed the character of the Indian freedom struggle, with the masses rising up to demand with a passion and intensity like never before.

 

Try this PYQ:

Q. Quit India Movement was launched in response to:

(a) Cabinet Mission Plan

(b) Cripps Proposals

(c) Simon Commission Report

(d) Wavell Plan

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

US-Iran Nuclear talks restart with EU mediation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : JCPOA

Mains level : US sanctions on Iran, Nuclear deal

Negotiators kicked off a fresh round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna, seeking to salvage the agreement on Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

Do you know how the enmity between Iran and the US came into reality?  We hope you have watched the Argo (2012) movie for sure!

Context

  • After a gap of five months, Iran, Russia, China and the European countries resumed negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • The 2015 JCPOA agreement sought to cut Iran off a possible path to a nuclear bomb in return for lifting of economic sanctions.

What is JCPOA?

  • The Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the JCPOA is a landmark accord reached between Iran and several world powers, including the United States, in July 2015.
  • Under its terms, Iran agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to more extensive international inspections in exchange for billions of dollars’ worth of sanctions relief.

Expected outcomes of the deal

  • Curb on the nuclear program: Proponents of the deal said that it would help prevent a revival of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
  • Increasing regional engagement: It would thereby reduce the prospects for conflict between Iran and its regional rivals, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Background of the JCPOA

  • Iran had previously agreed to forgo the development of nuclear weapons as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which has been in force since 1970.
  • However, after the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979, Iranian leaders secretly pursued this technology.
  • In 2007, U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that Iran halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003 but continued to acquire nuclear technology and expertise.
  • Prior to the JCPOA, the P5+1 had been negotiating with Iran for years, offering its government various incentives to halt uranium enrichment.

Issues with the deal

(1) US withdrawal

  • The deal has been in jeopardy since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from it in 2018.
  • In retaliation for the US, Iran resumed some of its nuclear activities.

(2) Iran’s insistence over sanctions removal

  • In 2021, President Joe Biden said the US will return to the deal if Iran comes back into compliance, though Iran’s leaders have insisted that Washington lift sanctions first.
  • Iran now has indicated that he will take a harder line than his predecessor in nuclear negotiations.

Who are the participants?

  • The JCPOA, which went into effect in January 2016, imposes restrictions on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program.
  • At the heart of negotiations with Iran were the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Germany—collectively known as the P5+1.
  • The European Union also took part. Israel explicitly opposed the agreement, calling it too lenient.
  • Some Middle Eastern powers, such as Saudi Arabia, said they should have been consulted or included in the talks because they would be most affected by a nuclear-armed Iran.

What did Iran agree to?

  • Nuclear restrictions: Iran agreed not to produce either the highly enriched uranium or the plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.
  • Monitoring and verification:  Iran agreed to eventually implement a protocol that would allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

What did the other signatories agree to?

  • Sanctions relief: The EU, United Nations, and United States all committed to lifting their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. However, many other U.S. sanctions on Iran, some dating back to the 1979 hostage crisis, remained in effect.
  • Weapons embargo: The parties agreed to lift an existing UN ban on Iran’s transfer of conventional weapons and ballistic missiles after five years if the IAEA certifies that Iran is only engaged in civilian nuclear activity.

How has the deal affected Iran’s economy?

  • Prior to the JCPOA, Iran’s economy suffered years of recession, currency depreciation, and inflation, largely because of sanctions on its energy sector.
  • With the sanctions lifted, inflation slowed, exchange rates stabilized, and exports—especially of oil, agricultural goods, and luxury items­—skyrocketed as Iran regained trading partners, particularly in the EU.
  • After the JCPOA took effect, Iran began exporting more than 2.1 million barrels per day (approaching pre-2012 levels, when the oil sanctions were originally put in place).

 

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Anti Defection Law

Election Symbols Issue in Maharashtra

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Election symbols

Mains level : Political split vs Defection

 

The Supreme Court has said it would decide the question of referring the battle between a political party leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister over the “real” heir of a political party to a Constitution Bench.

What is the news?

Why the split leader (the CM) is making such claims?

  • One of the cardinal issues, as pointed out by the CJI, would be whether the dissent of split faction, without subsequently forming a new party or merging with another, amounted to a “split” from the original political party.
  • The anti-defection law cannot be an “anti-dissent” law.

Issues raised by the apex Court

  • The Bench warned that if the split is completely ignoring the political party after being elected then it is a danger to democracy.

Note: For aspirants, one thing is very clear. The Supreme Court will definitely give another landmark judgment in this regard. Arriving at a conclusion is a tight rope walk for the judiciary too. But our judiciary never disappoints!

EC’s powers in Election Symbol Dispute

  • The question of a split in a political party outside the legislature is dealt by Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968.
  • It states that the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) may take into account all the available facts and circumstances and undertake a test of majority.
  • The decision of the ECI shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups emerged after the split.
  • This applies to disputes in recognized national and state parties.
  • For splits in registered but unrecognized parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.

How did the EC deal with such matters before the Symbols Order came into effect?

  • Before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  • The most high-profile split of a party before 1968 was that of the CPI in 1964.
  • A breakaway group approached the ECI in December 1964 urging it to recognize them as CPI(Marxist). They provided a list of MPs and MLAs of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal who supported them.
  • The ECI recognized the faction as CPI(M) after it found that the votes secured by the MPs and MLAs supporting the breakaway group added up to more than 4% in the 3 states.

Options for ECI

  • The ECI in all likelihood can freeze the symbol so that neither of the two sides is able to use it until a final decision is made.
  • EC hearings are long and detailed and may take at least six months.

What was the first case decided under Para 15 of the 1968 Order?

  • It was the first split in the Indian National Congress in 1969.
  • Indira Gandhi’s tensions with a rival group within the party came to a head with the death of President Dr Zakir Hussain on May 3, 1969.

Is there a way other than the test of the majority to resolve a dispute over election symbols?

  • In almost all disputes decided by the EC so far, a clear majority of party delegates/office bearers, MPs and MLAs have supported one of the factions.
  • Whenever the EC could not test the strength of rival groups based on support within the party organization (because of disputes regarding the list of office bearers), it fell back on testing the majority only among elected MPs and MLAs.

What happens to the group that doesn’t get the parent party’s symbol?

  • The EC in 1997 did not recognize the new parties as either state or national parties.
  • It felt that merely having MPs and MLAs is not enough, as the elected representatives had fought and won polls on tickets of their parent (undivided) parties.
  • The EC introduced a new rule under which the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol — had to register itself as a separate party.
  • It could lay claim to national or state party status only on the basis of its performance in the state or central elections after registration.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

India and Minerals Security Partnership (MSP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSP

Mains level : India's import dependece for semiconductors

India is aspiring to join the 11-member US-led partnership for critical mineral supply chains called ‘Minerals Security Partnership (MSP)’.

Why in news?

  • A group of western nations are cooperating to develop alternatives to China to ensure key industrial supplies.
  • This is a part of a global ‘China-plus-one’ strategy adopted post pandemic that caused massive supply-chain disruptions.
  • India is not part of this arrangement but New Delhi is working through diplomatic channels to fetch an entry.

What is the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP)?

  • The US and 10 partners — Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission — have come together to form the MSP.
  • The new grouping is aimed at catalysing investment from governments and the private sector to develop strategic opportunities.
  • Demand for critical minerals, which are essential for clean energy and other technologies, is projected to expand significantly in the coming decades.
  • The MSP will help catalyse investment from governments and the private sector for strategic opportunities — across the full value chain — that adhere to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards.

Focus of MSP

  • The new grouping could focus on the supply chains of minerals such as Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium, and also the 17 ‘rare earth’ minerals.
  • The alliance is seen as primarily focused on evolving an alternative to China, which has created processing infrastructure in rare earth minerals and has acquired mines in Africa for elements such as Cobalt.

What are Rare Earth Elements?

  • The 17 rare earth elements (REE) include the 15 Lanthanides (atomic numbers 57 — which is Lanthanum — to 71 in the periodic table) plus Scandium (atomic number 21) and Yttrium (39).
  • REEs are classified as light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).
  • Some REEs are available in India — such as Lanthanum, Cerium, Neodymium, Praseodymium and Samarium, etc.
  • Others such as Dysprosium, Terbium, and Europium, which are classified as HREEs, are not available in Indian deposits in extractable quantities.

Why are these minerals important?

  • Minerals like Cobalt, Nickel, and Lithium are required for batteries used in electric vehicles.
  • REEs are an essential — although often tiny — component of more than 200 consumer products, including mobile phones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, semiconductors etc.

Where does India stand?

  • There is a dependence on countries such as China for HREEs, which is one of the leading producers of REEs, with an estimated 70 per cent share of the global production.
  • India is seen as a late mover in attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when EVs are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
  • The year 2022 is likely to be an inflection point for battery technology — with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology.
  • India has an ambitious plan to convert a large percentage of its transport to electric, and would require these minerals.
  • According to the plan, 80 per cent of the country’s two- and three-wheeler fleet, 40 per cent of buses, and 30 to 70 per cent of cars will be EVs by 2030.

What is India’s major concern at this moment?

  • If India is not able to explore and produce these minerals, it will have to depend on a handful of countries, including China, to power its energy transition plans to electric vehicles.
  • That will be similar to our dependence on a few countries for oil.

Why was India excluded?

  • Industry watchers say that the reason India would not have found a place in the MSP grouping is that the country does not bring any expertise to the table.
  • In the group, countries like Australia and Canada have reserves and also the technology to extract them, and countries like Japan have the technology to process REEs.

 

 

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Electoral Reforms In India

SC calls for a panel to inquire Freebies Issue

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Cost of election freebies

The Supreme Court has said that Parliament may not be able to effectively debate the issue of doing away with “irrational freebies” offered to voters during elections, saying the “reality” is that not a single political party wants to take away freebies.

Why in news?

  • The freebies were paving the way for an “economic disaster” besides “distorting the informed decision of voters”, CJI said.

What did the CJI say?

Ans. Compose a non-partisan panel

  • The court suggested setting up a specialized body composed of persons who can “dispassionately” examine the problem.
  • The court directed the parties to make “suggestions for the composition of a body”.
  • It proposed that this body could examine ways to resolve the issue of freebies and file a report before the Centre or the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • The court said once the parties come up with suggestions on the composition of such a body in a week, it would pass orders.

What is Freebie?

  • The term Freebies is not new; rather it is a prevalent culture in Indian politics (in the name of socialism).
  • The political parties are always trying to outdo each other in luring the Indian voters with assorted freebies.
  • From free water to free smartphones the Indian politicians promise everything to attract prospective voters in favour.
  • This trend has gained more momentum in the recent times with the political parties being innovative in their offerings as the ‘traditional free water and electricity’ is no longer sufficient as election goodies.

Examples of freebies

  1. Promise of Rs 15 lakh in our bank accounts
  2. Free TV, Laptops
  3. Free electricity
  4. Loan waivers
  5. Offering free public transport ride to all women in Delhi

Why are such policies popular among the public?

  • Failure of economic policies: The answer lies in the utter failure of our economic policies to create decent livelihood for a vast majority of Indians.
  • Quest for decent livelihood: The already low income had to be reoriented towards spending a disproportionately higher amount on education and health, from which, the state increasingly withdrew.
  • Prevailing unemployment:  Employment surveys have shown that employment growth initially slowed down from the 1990s, and then has turned negative over the past few years.
  • Increased cost of living: Real income growth of the marginal sections has actually slowed down since 1991 reforms.
  • Increased consumerism: The poor today also spend on things that appear to be luxuries; cellphones and data-packs are two such examples which are shown as signs of India’s increased affluence.
  • Necessity: For migrant workers, the mobile phone helps them keep in touch with their families back home, or do a quick video-call to see how their infant is learning to sit up or crawl.

Can Freebies be compared with Welfare Politics?

  • These freebies are not bad. It is a part of social welfare.
  • Using freebies to lure voters is not good.
  • Voter’s greediness may lead to a problem in choosing a good leader.
  • When we don’t have a good leader then democracy will be a mockery.

Impact of such policies

  • Never ending trail: The continuity of freebies is another major disadvantage as parties keep on coming up with lucrative offers to lure more number of votes to minimize the risk of losing in the elections.
  • Burden on exchequer: People forget that such benefits are been given at the cost of exchequer and from the tax paid.
  • Ultimate loss of poors: The politicians and middlemen wipe away the benefits and the poor have to suffer as they are deprived from their share of benefits which was to be achieved out of the money.
  • Inflationary practice: Such distribution freebie commodity largely disrupts demand-supply dynamics.
  • Lethargy in population: Freebies actually have the tendency to turn the nation’s population into: Lethargy and devoid of entrepreneurship.
  • Money becomes only remedy: Everyone at the slightest sign of distress starts demanding some kind of freebies from the Govt.
  • Popular politics: This is psychology driving sections of the population expecting and the government promptly responds with immediate monetary relief or compensation.

What cannot be accounted to a freebie?

  • MGNREGA scheme (rural employment guarantee scheme)
  • Right to Education (RTE)
  • Food Security through fair price shops ( under National Food Security Act)
  • Prime Minister Kisan Samman Yojana (PM-KISAN)

Arguments in favour

  • Social investment: Aid to the poor is seen as a wasteful expenditure. But low interest rates for corporates to get cheap loans or the ‘sop’ of cutting corporate taxes are never criticized.
  • Socialistic policy: This attitude comes from decades of operating within the dominant discourse of market capitalism.
  • Election manifesto: Proponents of such policies would argue that poll promises are essential for voters to know what the party would do if it comes to power and have the chance to weigh options.
  • Welfare: Economists opine that as long as any State has the capacity and ability to finance freebies then its fine; if not then freebies are the burden on economy.
  • Other wasteful expenditure: When the Centre gives incentives like free land to big companies and announce multi-year tax holidays, questions are not asked as to where the money will come from.

A rational analysis of freebies

  • Winning election and good governance are two different things. The role of freebies to avail good governance is definitely questionable.
  • The social, political and economic consequences of freebies are very short-lived in nature.
  • There are many freebies and subsidies schemes available in many States but we still find starvation deaths, lack of electricity, poor education and health service.
  • Hence the sorrow of the masses of India cannot be solved by freebies or by incentives.

So are not freebies meant only to attract voters and swing voters by concentrating on a preferential group or community?

Way forward

  • It can be agreed that democracy requires popular support for its rule to continue. The sops and freebies to the poor buy it the requisite votes.
  • But the democratic process of election and election promises should be clear. It should not control voters thought.
  • What some people term as ‘populism’ actually constitutes what real economics should be.
  • If you deprive people of what they really need, you will have to throw allurements at them.
  • This can only be stopped if political masters try to follow what economist EA Schumacher had conveyed through his seminal work Small is beautiful – “Treat economics as if people matter.”

 

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Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

CJI’s recommendation on ‘Successor’ sought

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Appointment of CJI

Mains level : Read the attached story

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has received a communication from the Union Law Minister seeking his recommendation on the appointment of the next top judge.

What is the news?

  • Chief Justice Ramana is retiring this month.
  • It is now left to CJI to give the Law Minister his recommendation on his successor.

How is CJI selected?

  • Justice U.U. Lalit is the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court now.
  • He is in line to be appointed the 49th CJI as per the seniority norm.
  • The ‘Memorandum of Procedure of Appointment of Supreme Court Judges’ says “appointment to the office of the CJI should be of the seniormost Judge of the SC considered fit to hold the office”.
  • The process begins with the Union Law Minister seeking the recommendation of the outgoing CJI about the next appointment.

What is the time frame?

  • The Minister has to seek the CJI’s recommendation at the “appropriate time”.
  • The Memorandum does NOT elaborate or specify a timeline.

Making final appointment

The Memorandum says:

  1. Receipt of the recommendation of the CJI
  2. The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the PM
  3. PM will advise the President in the matter of appointment
  4. President of India appoints the CJI

Chief Justice of India: A brief background

  • The CJI is the chief judge of the Supreme Court of India as well as the highest-ranking officer of the Indian federal judiciary.

Appointment

  • The Constitution of India grants power to the President to nominate, and with the advice and consent of the Parliament, appoint a chief justice, who serves until they reach the age of 65 or until removed by impeachment.
  • Earlier, it was a convention to appoint seniormost judges.
  • However, this has been broken twice. In 1973, Justice A. N. Ray was appointed superseding 3 senior judges.
  • Also, in 1977 Justice Mirza Hameedullah Beg was appointed as the chief justice superseding Justice Hans Raj Khanna.

Qualifications

The Indian Constitution says in Article 124 (3) that in order to be appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of India, the person has to fit in the following criteria:

  • He/She is a citizen of India and
  • has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
  • has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
  • is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist

Functions

  • As head of the Supreme Court, the CJI is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law.
  • In accordance with Article 145 of the Constitution and the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure of 1966, the chief justice allocates all work to the other judges.

On the administrative side, the CJI carries out the following functions:

  • maintenance of the roster; appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court

Removal

  • Article 124(4) of the Constitution lays down the procedure for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court which is applicable to chief justices as well.
  • Once appointed, the chief justice remains in the office until the age of 65 years. He can be removed only through a process of removal by Parliament as follows:
  • He/She can be removed by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present.
  • The voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proven misbehavior or incapacity.

Try this PYQ:

  1. Who/Which of the following is the custodian of the Constitution of India?

(a) The President of India

(b) The Prime Minister of India

(c) The Lok Sabha Secretariat

(d) The Supreme Court of India

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Taiwan Crisis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : One-China Principle

Mains level : India-Taiwan Relations

As US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived upsetting China, India was keenly watching the developments, although it has not yet commented on it.

What is the ‘One China’ policy?

  • It is the diplomatic acknowledgment of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
  • Taiwan’s government was set up by the Kuomintang, whose party logo is reflected in Taiwan’s flag
  • Initially, many governments including the US recognised Taiwan as they shied away from Communist China.
  • But the diplomatic winds shifted as China and the United States saw a mutual need to develop relations beginning in the 1970s, with the US and other countries cutting ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.

Why is China obsessed with Taiwan?

  • Taiwan is the largest producer of electronic chips, which are supplied to almost all the industries, from phones to laptops, watches to game consoles, industrial equipment to automotive, and aircraft and fighter jets.
  • TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is the largest foundry in the world and holds around 65 percent of the global production of chips.
  • Any potential conflict with China would completely disrupt the entire supply chain of TSMC and labor availability, and could cause major shortage of electronic chips.
  • Additionally, China controls five percent of the global production of chips, which could also be affected.
  • This could further impact the already existing supply-demand gap for electronic components.

India- Taiwan Relations

Background

  • India does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan yet, as it follows the One-China policy.
  • However, during then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, India did not mention support for the One-China policy in the joint communique.
  • In 2014, when PM Modi came to power, he invited Taiwan’s Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien, along with Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration to his swearing-in.

Diplomatic ties

  • While following the One-China policy, India has an office in Taipei for diplomatic functions — India-Taipei Association (ITA) is headed by a senior diplomat.
  • Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi. Both were established in 1995.
  • Their ties focus on commerce, culture and education.
  • Now in their third decade, these have been deliberately kept low-profile, owing to China’s sensitivities.
  • For example, parliamentary delegation visits and legislature-level dialogues have stopped since 2017, around the time the India-China border standoff happened in Doklam.

The new push

  • Any significant development in India-Taiwan relations runs the risk of meeting with a likely stern reaction from Beijing.
  • This explains India’s steady, albeit slow, outreach to Taiwan.
  • Given that India-China relations are not likely to witness a return to normalcy in the near future, India should consider adopting a bold, comprehensive and long-term approach to engage Taiwan.

 

 

Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

What is the New START treaty?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Start Treaty, INF Treaty

Mains level : Not Much

Russia is ready for talks with the United States on nuclear arms control even as Moscow and Washington have remained locked in a tense stand-off over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The New START, INF and the Open Skies …. Be clear about the differences of these treaties. For example- to check if their inception was during cold war era etc.

New START Treaty

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations

  • The US formally QUIT the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
  • The agreement obliged the two countries to eliminate all ground-based missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

When did nuclear disarmament begin?

  • In 1985, the two countries entered into arms control negotiations on three tracks.
  • The first dealt with strategic weapons with ranges of over 5,500 km, leading to the START agreement in 1991.
  • It limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles and this led to the INF Treaty in 1987.
  • A third track, Nuclear, and Space Talks was intended to address Soviet concerns regarding the U.S.’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) but this did not yield any outcome.

Success of INF

  • The INF Treaty was hailed as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled.
  • As it is a bilateral agreement, it did not restrict other countries.
  • By 1991, the INF was implemented. USSR destroyed 1,846 and the US destroyed 846 Pershing and cruise missiles. 
  • Associated production facilities were also closed down.
  • INF Treaty was the first pact to include intensive verification measures, including on-site inspections.

How has the nuclear behavior been?

  • With the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR in end-1991, former Soviet allies were joining NATO and becoming EU members.
  • The U.S. was investing in missile defense and conventional global precision strike capabilities to expand its technological lead.
  • In 2001, the U.S. announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
  • The US also blamed Russia for not complying with the ‘zero-yield’ standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This may indicate the beginning of a new nuclear arms race.

Implications of the New Start

  • The 2011 New START lapsed in 2021. It may meet the fate of the INF Treaty.
  • The 2018 NPR envisaged the development of new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons.
  • China is preparing to operate its test site year-round with its goals for its nuclear force.
  • CTBT requires ratification by U.S., China, and Iran, Israel and Egypt and adherence by India, Pakistan and North Korea. It is unlikely to ever enter into force.

Conclusion

  • A new nuclear arms race could just be the beginning. It may be more complicated because of multiple countries being involved.
  • Technological changes are bringing cyber and space domains into contention. It raises the risks of escalation.

 

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Uniform Civil Code: Triple Talaq debate, Polygamy issue, etc.

Parliamentary panel reviews Goa Civil Code

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Uniform Civil Code

Mains level : UCC debate

A parliamentary panel has reviewed Goa’s uniform civil code, and some of its members feel that there are some peculiar and outdated provisions related to matrimony in it.

What is Goa Civil Code?

  • The Goa Civil Code is a set of civil laws that governs all residents of the coastal State irrespective of their religion and ethnicity.
  • Citing various positives of the Goa Civil Code, Goa CM had urged that it could be a model for implementing the UCC across the country.

Why in news?

  • GCC has come under focus amid a call for the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) across the country.
  • The UCC features prominently on the present regime’s ideological agenda, and the party had made promises on it in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019.
  • This had an intimidating impact on certain sections of the population whose archaic provisions of personal laws were untouched for the sake of appeasement.

Why Goa model is in news?

  • It was observed that a majority of the State’s people are “quite happy and content with it”.
  • It is a living example of peaceful implementation of UCC.
  • There were, however, some peculiar clauses in the law related to matrimony and division of property, which were outdated and not based on the principle of equality.

What is a Uniform Civil Code?

  • A Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is one that would provide for one personal civil law for the entire country.
  • This would be applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.

Basis for UCC

  • Article 44, one of the Directive Principles of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a UCC for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
  • These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.

UCC vs. Right to Freedom of Religion

  1. Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion
  2. Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”
  3. Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture

Reasonable restrictions on the Freedom of Religion

  • An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to FRs, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other FRs.
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote.
  • By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of FRs and therefore the UCC was made less important.

Minority Opinion in the Constituent Assembly

  • Some members sought to immunize Muslim Personal Law from state regulation.
  • Mohammed Ismail, who thrice tried unsuccessfully to get Muslim Personal Law exempted from Article 44, said a secular state should not interfere with the personal law of people.
  • B Pocker Saheb said he had received representations against a common civil code from various organizations, including Hindu organizations.
  • Hussain Imam questioned whether there could ever be uniformity of personal laws in a diverse country like India.
  • B R Ambedkar said “no government can use its provisions in a way that would force the Muslims to revolt”.
  • Alladi Krishnaswami, who was in favour of a UCC, conceded that it would be unwise to enact UCC ignoring strong opposition from any community.
  • Gender justice was never discussed in these debates.

What about Personal Laws?

  • Citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which are an affront to the nation’s unity.
  • If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a UCC, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List.
  • “Personal Laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.

Various customary laws

  • All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians.
  • Muslims of Kashmir were governed by a customary law, which in many ways was at variance with Muslim Personal Law in the rest of the country and was, in fact, closer to Hindu law.
  • Even on registration of marriage among Muslims, laws differ from place to place.
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws.
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.

 Why need UCC?

  • UCC would provide equal status to all citizens
  • It would promote gender parity in Indian society.
  • UCC would accommodate the aspirations of the young population who imbibe liberal ideology.
  • Its implementation would thus support the national integration.

Hurdles to UCC implementation

  • There are practical difficulties due to religious and cultural diversity in India.
  • The UCC is often perceived by the minorities as an encroachment of religious freedom.
  • It is often regarded as interference of the state in personal matters of the minorities.
  • Experts often argue that the time is not ripe for Indian society to embrace such UCC.

These questions need to be addressed which are being completely ignored in the present din around UCC.

  1. Firstly, how can uniformity in personal laws are brought without disturbing the distinct essence of each and every component of the society.
  2. Secondly, what makes us believe that practices of one community are backward and unjust?
  3. Thirdly, has other uniformities been able to eradicate inequalities which diminish the status of our society as a whole?

Way forward

  • It should be the duty of the religious intelligentia to educate the community about its rights and obligations based on modern liberal interpretations.
  • A good environment for the UCC must be prepared by the government by explaining the contents and significance of Article 44 taking all into confidence.
  • Social reforms are not overnight but gradual phenomenon. They are often vulnerable to media evils such as fake news and disinformation.
  • Social harmony and cultural fabric of our nation must be the priority.

 

Also read this comprehensive article:

[Sansad TV] Perspective: Uniform Civil Code

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