North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

What is Khujli Ghar?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 371A

Mains level : Naga customs and their constitutional protection

Some villages in Nagaland are trying to revive a traditional form of punishment that seeks to check crime with an itch in time.

What is Khujli Ghar?

  • Social offenders or violators of Naga customary laws have over the ages dreaded a cramped, triangular cage made from the logs of an indigenous tree that irritates the skin.
  • The dread is more of humiliation or loss of face within the community or clan than of spending at least a day scratching furiously without any space to move.
  • Such itchy cages are referred to as khujli ghar in Nagamese but each Naga community has its own name.
  • The Aos, one of the major tribes of Nagaland, call it Shi-ki that means flesh-house.

Terminologies associated

  • The cage is usually placed at a central spot in the village, usually in front of the morung or bachelor’s dormitory, for the inmate to be in full public view.
  • The cage is made of the logs of Masang-fung, a local tree that people avoid because of the irritation it causes.
  • It does not affect the palm but people who make the cages have to be careful.

Naga belief in this

  • It is not proper to view the itchy cages from the prism of modern laws.
  • They have served a purpose for ages and have often proved to reform offenders, as identity and family or clan reputation is very important to a Naga.

Do you know?

Article 371(A) of the Constitution guarantees the preservation of the Naga customary laws.

The State also funds the customary courts in villages and towns where cases — mostly dealing with land litigation, money-lending and marital disputes — have a high rate of prompt disposal.


Back2Basics: Article 371A

  • Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
  • Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
  • A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Caracal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Caracal and its IUCN status

Mains level : Species Recovery Programme of NBWL

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) and MoEFCC last month included the caracal, a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in the list of critically endangered species under the Species Recovery Programme.

Caracal in India

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • The wildcat has long legs, a short face, long canine teeth, and distinctive ears — long and pointy, with tufts of black hair at their tips.
  • The iconic ears are what give the animal its name — caracal comes from the Turkish karakulak, meaning ‘black ears’.
  • In India, it is called siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’.
  • A Sanskrit fable exists about a small wild cat named deergha-karn or ‘long-eared’.
  • While it flourishes in parts of Africa, its numbers in Asia are declining.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

Wildlife:  Naturally found in

  1. Blue-finned Mahseer: Cauvery River
  2. Irrawaddy Dolphin: Chambal River
  3. Rusty-spotted Cat: Eastern Ghats

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched? (CSP 2018)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

In history and myth

  • The earliest evidence of the caracal in the subcontinent comes from a fossil dating back to the civilization of the Indus Valley c. 3000-2000 BC.
  • The caracal has traditionally been valued for its litheness and extraordinary ability to catch birds in flight; it was a favourite coursing or hunting animal in medieval India.
  • Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) had siyah-goshdar khana, stables that housed large numbers of coursing caracal.
  • It finds mention in Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama, like a hunting animal in the time of Akbar (1556-1605).
  • Descriptions and illustrations of the caracal can be found in medieval texts such as the Anvar-i-Suhayli, Tutinama, Khamsa-e-Nizami, and Shahnameh.
  • The East India Company’s Robert Clive is said to have been presented with a caracal after he defeated Siraj-ud-daullah in the Battle of Plassey (1757).

Back2Basics: Species Recovery Programme of NBWL

  • The programme is one of the three components of the centrally funded scheme, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH).
  • Started in 2008-09, IDWH is meant for providing support to protected areas, protection of wildlife outside protected areas and recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.
  • So far, the recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.
  • The NBWL in 2018 has added four species- the Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, Red Panda- to the list.
  • Other species include the Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Demand for Greater Tipraland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tipraland

Mains level : Demand for separate states

Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya has recently announced his political demand for a new state called ‘Greater Tipraland’.

Try this:

Q.New-age ethnic politics in North East is driving demands for separate statehood movements in India. Discuss.

What is Greater Tipraland?

  • ‘Greater Tipraland’ is essentially an extension of the ruling tribal partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura – IPFT’s demand of Tipraland, which sought a separate state for tribals of Tripura.
  • The new demand seeks to include every tribal person living in an indigenous area or village outside the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) under the proposed model.
  • However, the idea doesn’t restrict to simply the Tripura tribal council areas but seeks to include ‘Tiprasa’ of Tripuris spread across different states of India like Assam, Mizoram etc. as well.
  • It seeks to include even those living in Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari and other bordering areas of neighbouring Bangladesh.

Land Reforms

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

Mains level : Not Much

The Punjab state cabinet has approved the implementation of mission ‘Lal Lakir’.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SVAMITVA Scheme sometimes seen in the news is related to:

Urban Employment/ Land records management/ Child Adoption/ None of these

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

  • ‘Lal Lakir’ refers to land that is part of the village ‘abaadi’ (habitation) and is used for non-agriculture purposes only.
  • The mission is aimed at facilitating villagers to monetize property rights and availing benefits provided by government departments, institutions and banks in all villages across the state.
  • As no record of rights is available for such properties within the ‘Lal Lakir’, the same cannot currently be monetized as per the real value of the property and no mortgages can be created on such properties.
  • There are households within the ‘Lal Lakir’, which do not own property other than the areas within the ‘Lal Lakir’, and are thus at a disadvantage.

An extension to SVAMITVA

  • Under the mission, the right of record of properties within ‘Lal Lakir’ in the villages of the state will be prepared with the cooperation of the government of India under the SVAMITVA scheme.
  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • This will enable mapping the land, households, habitation and all other areas falling within ‘Lal Lakir’.
  • It will go a long way in improving the living standard of villagers and boosting their self-esteem.

Back2Basics: SVAMITVA

  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village.
  • Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Why hydel projects in the Himalayas are worrying?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dams in Uttarakhand

Mains level : Risks posed by Hydel projects

The flash flood that claimed several lives in Chamoli has caused Uttarakhand’s hydroelectric projects (HEPs) to be scrutinized closely.

Q.How do hydropower projects pose geological and topographical threats to the ecosystem? (150W)

Why Hydropower in Uttarakhand?

  • Uttarakhand has a tricky relationship with electricity.
  • With a landscape that’s inhospitable to thermal power grid lines and with people too poor to pay for electricity, micro and mini hydro-electric power projects were seen as the answer.
  • Between the government’s long-standing ‘power for all’ objective, and environmentalists pushing for a cleaner, renewable energy, setting up dozens of hydel power plants seemed ideal.

Impacts of HEPs

Limitless quarrying, deforestation, stopping the flow of rivers, and mushrooming of hydropower projects have made the Himalayas unstable.

  • Existing and under-construction hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand have led to several deleterious environmental impacts (Char Dham Committee).
  • Among the significant impacts are on the river ecosystem, forest and terrestrial biodiversity, geological environment and social infrastructure.
  • More than seven years later, some experts believe that over-exploitation of rivers and rampant damming for hydroelectric projects (HEPs) could be one of the big factors responsible for the Chamoli disaster.
  • The ‘river-bed profile’ across the major HEPs of Uttarakhand has changed significantly, suggesting the possibility of disasters in future.

The Kedarnath floods

  • Between June 13 and 17, 2013, Uttarakhand had received an unusual amount of rainfall.
  • This led to the melting of the Chorabari glacier and the eruption of the Mandakini river.
  • The floods affected large parts of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal.
  • The heavy rainfall caused massive flash floods and landslides resulting in the death of residents and tourists as well as extensive damage to property.
  • Over 5,000 people were killed in the floods

Construction still persists

  • Neglecting all warnings of the experts, rampant construction was carried out in the sensitive zones even after the 2013 Kedarnath deluge.
  • Notably, two dozen hydropower plants of Uttarakhand were rejected by the Supreme Court after the expert panel report.

HEPs in Uttarakhand

The rivers and basins in the state are dotted with 43 micro hydel projects. Some of them are:

Alarms have been raised earlier

  • The Kedarnath expert committee had warned about the excessive exploitation of vulnerable regions and the need to re-study and re-evaluate the HEPs of Uttarakhand.
  • The report also objected to HEPs at an altitude of over 2000 metres.
  • The report pointed out that the potential threat of landslide, cloudburst, subsidence, flash floods has increased tremendously in the past few years and many critical zones need immediate attention.
  • The study also mentioned that a lot of anthropogenic pressure due to different activities related to HEPs was alarming and needed checks.

Electoral Reforms In India

Maharashtra to introduce ballot papers along with EVMs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 328

Mains level : EVM issues

Maharashtra Assembly Speaker has directed the State Law and Justice Department to prepare the draft of a Bill which provides an option to voters to exercise their franchise on ballot papers along with electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Manner of holding elections

  • Article 328 of the Indian Constitution and number 37 of the State List of the seventh schedule of the Constitution provide rights to the State legislature to formulate a law on the manner of holding elections within the State.
  • The state cannot abolish the EVMs completely.
  • They are just demanding an additional provision of ballot paper as well for whoever wants to use that.
  • Directions have been given to check the constitutional validity of the argument and prepare the draft of a Bill.

Background

  • The Election Commission has been conducting all elections through EVMs since 2001.
  • The Indian EVM is a direct recording device, which is a stand-alone machine.
  • The Election Commission has clarified several times that Indian EVMs don’t talk to any machine outside its own system – be it through a wired network, internet, satellite, and WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • The EVM is not connected to the server, so cyber hacking of Indian EVMs is not possible unless an authorised person acts with malafide intention.
  • In 2014, a whopping 55.38 crore people cast their votes in EVMs in the parliamentary elections.

Considerations behind such a move

  • On EVMs, a voter can never be 100% sure about whom he or she has voted and whether that particular candidate has received the vote.
  • It is a right of every voter to be 100% sure about it and also essential for the democratic process.”
  • Over the past few years, serious concerns and doubts had been raised over the EVMs and whether those could be manipulated.
  • The option of ballot voting would boost people’s confidence in the electoral process which would ultimately lead to an increase in voting percentage.

Q.The EC’s role in ensuring the people’s faith in democracy is paramount. The loss of public faith in democracy and its protector institutions spells nothing but disaster. Discuss.

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

[pib] Rajasthan becomes the 5th State to complete ULB reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ULBs in India

Mains level : ULB reforms

Rajasthan has become the 5thState in the country to successfully undertake Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and has thus become eligible for additional reform linked to borrowing.

Which are the four other States?

: They are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and Telangana, who have completed ULB reforms.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992, which aims at promoting the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the country, provides for which of the following?

  1. Constitution of District Planning Committees.
  2. State Election Commissions to conduct all panchayat elections.
  3. Establishment of State Finance Commissions.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) Only 1

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are the ULB reforms?

The four citizen-centric areas identified for reforms are:

  1. Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System
  2. Ease of doing business reform
  3. Urban Local body/ utility reforms
  4. Power Sector reforms.

The set of reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure are:

(a) The State will notify:

  • Floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and;
  • Floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water supply, drainage, and sewerage which reflect current costs/past inflation.

(b)   The State will put in place a system of periodic increases in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.

Why need such reforms?

  • Reforms in ULBs and the urban utility reforms are aimed at the financial strengthening of ULBs to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services to citizens.
  • Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.

Back2Basics: Municipal Governance in India

  • Municipal or local governance refers to the third tier of governance in India, at the level of the municipality or urban local body.
  • Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are small local bodies that administer or govern a city or a town of a specified population.
  • They are vested with a long list of functions delegated to them by the state governments.
  • These functions broadly relate to public health, welfare, regulatory functions, public safety, public infrastructure works, and development activities.
  • There are several types of Urban Local Bodies in India such as Municipal Corporation, Municipality, Notified Area Committee, Town Area Committee, Special Purpose Agency, Township, Port Trust, Cantonment Board, etc.

Development through history

  • It has existed since the year 1687, with the formation of Madras Municipal Corporation, and then Calcutta and Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1726.
  • In the early part of the nineteenth century, almost all towns in India had experienced some form of municipal governance.
  • In 1882 the then Viceroy of India, Lord Ripon, known as the Father of Local Self Government, passed a resolution of local self-government which lead to the democratic forms of municipal governance in India.
  • In 1919, a Government of India Act incorporated the need of the resolution and the powers of democratically elected government were formulated.
  • In 1935 another Government of India act brought local government under the preview of the state or provincial government and specific powers were given.

Changes after the 74th Amendment (1992)

  • It was the 74th amendment to the Constitution that brought constitutional validity to municipal or local governments.
  • Until amendments were made in respective state legislation on an ultra vires (beyond the authority) basis and the state governments were free to extend or control the functional sphere.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is the ‘Top 25’ drive initiated by Mumbai police?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Top 25 drive

Mains level : Preventive detention, Chapter proceedings

The Mumbai police have started a drive titled ‘Top 25’ aimed at keeping under check history-sheeters and those they believe could create trouble.

Preventive detention laws in India have come to be associated with gross and frequent misuse.

What is the ‘Top 25’ drive of the Mumbai police?

  • The Mumbai police commissioner has asked all police stations in the city to make a list of the “top 25” criminals and ask them to sign a bond of good behavior failing which they would have to pay a fine.
  • The aim is to rein in criminal elements and those the police believe could create a law and order problem in the city.
  • While this practices that is termed “chapter proceedings” has been followed in the past, the amount a person would usually forfeit was around Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000.
  • Now, the amount has been raised up to Rs 50 lakh.

How is the police calculating the surety amount now?

  • The police are now going through the bank details and tax returns of the person and the surety amount is set in accordance with the annual income of the offender or his family.
  • The police believe that the threat of having to pay a high amount will act as a deterrent and that a few thousand as surety amount did not have the desired effect.

What are Chapter Proceedings?

  • Chapter proceedings are preventive actions taken by the police if they fear that a particular person is likely to cause law and order trouble.
  • These proceedings are unlike punitive action taken in case of an FIR with an intention to punish.
  • Here, the police can issue notices under sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the person is aware that creating a nuisance could result in action against him.
  • Recently, the Mumbai police initiated chapter proceedings against an extremely chauvinistic news reporter and media head.

Rights of the accuse

  • On receiving such notice, a person can appeal before the courts.
  • In fact, in the past, courts have come down strongly against chapter proceedings in some cases.
  • In 2017, while striking down a notice issued to the owner of a bar, the Bombay High Court said: “chapter proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature”.

Back2Basics: Arrest vs. Preventive Detention

An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime. An arrested person is produced before a magistrate within the next 24 hours. In case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law and order situation.

  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides safeguards against the misuse of police powers to make arrests and detentions.
  • Clause (2) of Article 22 reads that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey.
  • Clause (4) of the article states that no individual can be detained for more than 3 months unless a bench of High court judges or an Advisory board decides to extend the date.
  • Clause (5) states that the detained individual should be made aware of the grounds he/she has been detained (in pursuance of the order) and should provide him/her with an opportunity of making a representation against the case.
  • Parliament may by law prescribe the circumstances under a person may be detained for a period longer than three months under any law.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Brus’ resettlement in Tripura

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bru Tribals

Mains level : Bru-Reang Repatriation Agreement

People erupted in violent protests against the planned resettlement of thousands of Bru migrants permanently at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura.

Try this PYQ:

 

Q. With reference to ‘Changpa’ community of India, consider the following statement:

  1. They live mainly in the State of Uttarakhand.
  2. They rear the Pashmina goats that yield fine wool.
  3. They are kept in the category of Scheduled Tribes.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2014)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Who are the Brus?

  • Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram.
  • Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area when they demanded the creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.
  • Around 34,000 people were forced to live in sub-human conditions in tents in Tripura. No solution could be reached all these years.
  • These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Why have there been violent protests?

  • Twenty-three years after ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people of the Bru (or Reang) community to flee their homes to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The news was not welcomed by the Bengali and Mizo communities in Tripura.
  • They fear a demographic imbalance, which would exert pressure on local resources and potentially lead to law and order problems.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Bru– Reang Repatriation Agreement

Punjab’s claim over Chandigarh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandigarh

Mains level : Interstate boundary disputes in India

Earlier this month, Haryana Dy. CM said it would be better if both Haryana and Punjab agreed on Chandigarh as a Union Territory and make their independent capitals and Benches of High Courts.

Try answering this

Q.The linguistic re-organization of Indian states in the post-Independence period has prevented its balkanization, unlike our neighbourhood. Comment.

Why was Chandigarh created?

  • Chandigarh was planned to replace Lahore, the capital of erstwhile Punjab, which became part of Pakistan during the Partition.
  • In March 1948, the Government of (India’s) Punjab, in consultation with the Centre, approved the area of the foothills of the Shivaliks as the site for the new capital.
  • From 1952 to 1966 (till Haryana was carved out of Punjab), Chandigarh remained the capital of Punjab.

How did it become a shared capital?

  • At the time of reorganization of Punjab in 1966, the city assumed the unique distinction of being the capital of both Punjab and Haryana.
  • Even as it was declared a union territory and was placed under the direct control of the Centre.
  • The properties in Chandigarh were to be divided into 60:40 ratio in favour of Punjab.

Punjab’s claim

  • The-then PM Indira Gandhi had announced that Haryana, in due course, would have its own capital and Chandigarh would go to Punjab.
  • As per documents submitted in the Lok Sabha, the Centre had even issued a formal communication is this regard on January 29, 1970, almost three years after Haryana came into being.
  • Again, in 1985, under the Rajiv-Longowal accord, Chandigarh was to be handed over to Punjab on January 26, 1986, but the Rajiv Gandhi government withdrew at the last minute.

Haryana’s counter-claim

  • As per the 1970 documents, the Centre had considered various alternatives for settling the matter, including dividing the city.
  • But that wasn’t feasible since Chandigarh was built as a planned city to serve as the capital of one state.
  • Haryana was told to use the office and residential accommodation in Chandigarh only for five years till it shifts to its own new capital.
  • The Centre had offered Rs 10 crore grant to Haryana and an equal amount of loan for setting up the new capital.
  • In 2018, Haryana CM suggested setting up a special body for the development of Chandigarh, but the Punjab CM rejected it, saying the city “indisputably belonged to Punjab”.

Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

What are Deemed Forests?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Deemed forest

Mains level : Forest conservation in India

Karnataka Forest Minister has announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

Try this PYQ:

Q. In India, in which one of the following types of forests is teak a dominant tree species?

(a) Tropical moist deciduous forest

(b) Tropical rain forest

(c) Tropical thorn scrub forest

(d) Temperate forest with grasslands

What are Deemed Forests?

  • The concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
  • However, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.
  • It covered all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2 (1) of the Forest Conservation Act.
  • The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 will not only include ‘forest’ as understood in the dictionary sense but also any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the owners said the court.

Why it is in news?

  • The issue of deemed forests is a contentious one in Karnataka, with legislators across party lines often alleging that large amounts of agriculture and non-forest land are “unscientifically” classified as such.

Demands to reclassify

  • A deemed forest fits “dictionary meaning” of a forest, “irrespective of ownership”.
  • Amidst claims that the move hit farmers, as well as barred large tracts from mining, the state has been arguing that the classification was done without taking into account the needs of people.

Why does the government want to release these forests?

  • In 2014, the then government decided to have a relook at the categorisation of forests.
  • The dictionary definition of forests was applied to identify thickly wooded areas as deemed forests, a well-defined scientific, verifiable criterion was not used, resulting in a subjective classification.
  • The subjective classification in turn resulted in conflicts.
  • Ministers have also argued that land was randomly classified as deemed forest by officials, causing hardship to farmers in some areas.
  • There is also a commercial demand for mining in some regions designated as deemed forests.

Back2Basics: Forest Classification in India

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) classifies forest cover in 4 classes.

  • Very Dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above.
  • Moderately dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40% and 70%.
  • Open forests: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
  • Scrubs: All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees having canopy density less than 10%.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked Assam and Mizoram to maintain peace and display “no aggressive posturing” after violent clashes took place at the border between the two States on Saturday night.

Can you recall the chronology of reorganization of the entire North-East region?

What is the issue?

  • Assam has had a boundary dispute with Mizoram for decades and several rounds of talks have been held since 1994-95 to solve the issue.
  • Till 1972, Mizoram was a part of Assam and acquired full statehood in 1987.
  • The 164.6 km-long border between the States runs along with Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts in Assam and Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts in Mizoram.
  • There are several border areas where violence have been reported.

How complex is this dispute?

  • In the Northeast’s complex boundary equations, showdowns between Assam and Mizoram residents are less frequent than they are.
  • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram, 165 km long today, dates back to the colonial era when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • The dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • Mizoram believes the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
  • Mizo leaders have argued in the past argued against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted.

Other boundary disputes in North-East

During British rule, Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides Mizoram, which became separate state one by one. Today, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.

  • Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam.
  • In two major incidents of violence in 1979 and 1985, at least 100 persons were killed. The boundary dispute is now in the Supreme Court
  • On the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary (over 800 km), clashes were first reported in 1992, according to the same research paper.
  • Since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes. This boundary issue is being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The 884-km Assam-Meghalaya boundary, too, witnesses flare-ups frequently. As per Meghalaya government statements, today there are 12 areas of dispute between the two states.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Green-Blue Infrastructure Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green-Blue Infrastructure

Mains level : Urban water resources management

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is holding public consultations for the preparation of the Master Plan for Delhi 2041 with special focus on water bodies and the land.

Try this question:      

Q.Urban water resources management is an uphill task for Indian cities. Discuss.

What is Green-Blue infrastructure?

  • ‘Blue’ infrastructure refers to water bodies like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, and water treatment facilities; while ‘Green’ stands for trees, lawns, hedgerows, parks, fields, and forests.
  • The concept refers to urban planning where water bodies and land are interdependent, and grow with the help of each other while offering environmental and social benefits.

How does DDA plan to go ahead with it?

  • In the first stage, the DDA plans to deal with the multiplicity of agencies, which because of the special nature of the state, has plagued it for several years.
  • DDA wants the first map out the issues of jurisdiction, work being done by different agencies on drains and the areas around them.
  • Thereafter, a comprehensive policy will be drawn up, which would then act as the common direction for all agencies.

Why such a policy?

  • Delhi has around 50 big drains (blue areas) managed by different agencies, and due to their poor condition and encroachment, the land around (green areas) has also been affected.
  • DDA, along with other agencies, will integrate them and remove all sources of pollution by checking the outfall of untreated wastewater as well as the removal of existing pollutants.
  • A mix of mechanized and natural systems may be adopted, and dumping of solid wastes in any of these sites will be strictly prohibited by local bodies, through the imposition of penalties.

Major features

  • The land around these drains, carrying stormwater, will be declared as special buffer projects.
  • The network of connected green spaces would be developed in the form of green mobility circuits of pedestrian and cycling paths.
  • It will be developed along the drains to serve functional as well as leisure trips.

Challenges ahead

  • The biggest challenge is the multiplicity of agencies.
  • Secondly, cleaning of water bodies and drains has been a challenge for agencies in Delhi for years now.

J&K – The issues around the state

New Official Languages in J&K

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Official languages

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Cabinet has approved a Bill to introduce Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri as official languages in Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to Urdu and English. As of now, the official language is Urdu and Kashmiri is recognised as a regional language.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following languages:

  1. Gujarati
  2. Kannada
  3. Telugu

Which of the above has/have been declared as ‘Classical Language/ Languages’ by the Government?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Languages in J&K

  • In the undivided Jammu and Kashmir state, various ethnicities spoke Kashmiri, Pahari, Gojri, Ladakhi, Dogri, Balti and Punjabi as their mother tongues.
  • Urdu and Hindi had become a means for inter-community communication.
  • In 1889, Maharaja Pratap Singh, the third ruler of the Hindu Dogra dynasty, replaced Persian with Urdu as the court language.
  • It was an anomaly that the three languages — Dogri, Hindi and Kashmiri — which are spoken by nearly 70 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir were not approved for use in official business.

Official languages in India

  • Article 343 of the Indian constitution stated that the official language of the Union is Hindi in Devanagari script instead of the extant English.
  • Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English alongside Hindi in the Indian government indefinitely until legislation decides to change it.
  • The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union is “the international form of Indian numerals”, which are referred to as Arabic numerals in most English-speaking countries.
  • Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is not the national language of India; the Constitution of India does not give any language the status of the national language.
  • The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement.

Other classical languages

  • In addition, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.
  • Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sixth Schedule

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The revival of the demand for two autonomous councils has made political parties and community-based groups call for bringing the entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q.The provisions in Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule in the Constitution of India are made in order to-

(a) protect the interests of Scheduled Tribes

(b) determine the boundaries between States

(c) determine the powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats

(d) protect the interests of all the border States

What is the Sixth Schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of the tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganize boundaries of the tribal areas.
  • In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one.
  • They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without separate legislation.

Autonomous districts and regional councils

  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear the trial of cases involving the tribes.
  • Governors of states that fall under the Sixth Schedule specify the jurisdiction of high courts for each of these cases.
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
  • These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.

B2BASICS

Try this question from AWE Initiative:

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

Aadhaar Card Issues

What is Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PPP

Mains level : Aadhaar and its limitations

Haryana CM Manohar Khattar has distributed ‘Parivar Pehchan Patra’ to the eligible families and announced that welfare schemes of all departments would be linked with the PPP within the next three months.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP) recently rolled out by Haryana Govt.? How it is beneficial compared to the Aadhaar?

What is Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP)?

  • It is an 8-digit Unique Identity Card number meant for each family to enable smooth and automatic delivery of several citizen-centric services.
  • The government will establish the scheme-wise eligibility of a particular family using this 8-digit code according to the information available in the PPP of the family.
  • The benefits, according to the schemes, shall automatically be transferred to the family using the same code.
  • PPP will ensure that not a single beneficiary is left out from the government benefits that they are entitled to.

How is PPP different from the Aadhaar card?

  • The PPP, mathematically, is an integral number of Aadhaar.
  • While Aadhaar represents an individual as a unit, a PPP represents a family as a unit. Most of our government schemes are structured around the family.
  • It is not structured around an individual.
  • For example, ration eligibility is there for the family but the family can split it into various members as long as they are above 18 years and say they are separating entitlements for all individuals.

Will it be mandatory for every family of Haryana to get PPP?

  • No, it will not be mandatory for every family of the state to obtain a PPP.
  • But, PPP is mandatory for families availing benefits under government schemes.
  • Also, whenever a family wants to avail any government scheme, it will have to first get a PPP to be eligible.

The logic behind

  • Haryana officials said although there is a union government’s Aadhaar card, it contains individual’s details and does not cater to the entire family as a unit.
  • In certain circumstances, it may not be possible for a state government to keep track of all the families residing in the state.
  • Although the ration card system is there, it is not updated and does not contain adequate family records.
  • With the PPP, it will be easier for the state government to maintain a complete database of all the state dwellers.

How would it work?

  • To begin with, the government has already linked PPP with three social security schemes – old age Samman allowance, divyang pension, and the widow and destitute women pension scheme.
  • For instance, when a family member turns 60, they will automatically get a message through the software and will automatically start getting benefits of the old-age pension if they meet the required criteria.
  • Similarly, the teenagers will get messages on turning 18 years old and shall become eligible for various government schemes that will be notified to them through the software.

Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

How aerial seeding is helping plantation in hard-to-access Aravalli regions?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aravalli Range

Mains level : Various afforestation measures

The Haryana Forest Department has started aerial seeding across the state on a pilot basis with special focus on the Aravalli region.

Do you know?

The Aravalli range is considered the “lungs” of the polluted National Capital Region.

What is Aerial Seeding?

  • Aerial seeding is a technique of plantation wherein seed balls – seeds covered with a mixture of clay, compost, char and other components.
  • They are sprayed on the ground using aerial devices, including planes, helicopters or drones.

How does this technique work?

  • Seeds balls or seed pellets are dispersed in a targeted area by the low-flying drones, falling to the ground with the help of the coating of clay, compost, char and other material.
  • Coating provides the required weight for seeds to drop on a predetermined location rather than disperse in the wind.
  • These pellets will then sprout when there is enough rain, with the nutrients present within them helping in the initial growth.

Why Aravallis?

  • Aravallis these days is severely inundated due to heavy mining and has undergone rapid development and construction activities.

What are the advantages of this technique?

  • Areas that are inaccessible, have steep slopes, are fragmented or disconnected with no forest routes, making conventional plantation difficult, can be targeted with aerial seeding.
  • Furthermore, the process of the seed’s germination and growth is such that it requires no attention after it is dispersed – the reason why seed pellets are known as the “fire and forget” way of the plantation.
  • They eliminate the need for ploughing and digging holes in the soil and the seeds do not need to be planted, since they are already surrounded by soil, nutrients, and microorganisms.
  • The clay shell of these pellets along with the other items in the mixture also protects them from birds, ants and rats.

What kind of species can be dispersed using aerial seeding?

  • The species selected have to be native to the area and hardy, with seeds that are of an appropriate size for preparing seedballs and have to have a higher survival percentage.
  • It is critical that the timing of the seeding be correct in order for the plantation to be successful.

Can this replace conventional plantation methods?

  • Seeding should be done only on a pilot basis to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and the dispersal mechanism.
  • Conventional methods of afforestation cannot be replaced but supplemented with areal seeding.
  • In this case, the technique will allow plantation in sections of the Aravallis that are either difficult to access or inaccessible altogether.

Back2Basics: Aravalli Range

  • The Aravalli Range is a mountain range running approximately 692 km in a south-west direction, starting near Delhi, passing through southern Haryana and Rajasthan, and ending in Gujarat.
  • The highest peak is Guru Shikhar at 1,722 metres (5,650 ft).
  • The Aravalli Range, an eroded stub of ancient mountains, is the oldest range of Fold Mountains in India.
  • The natural history of the Aravalli Range dates back to times when the Indian Plate was separated from the Eurasian Plate by an ocean.
  • Aravalli, being the old fold mountains, have stopped growing higher due to the cessation of upward thrust caused by the stopping of movement of the tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust below them.
  • In ancient times, Aravalli was extremely high but since have worn down almost completely by millions of years of weathering, whereas the Himalayas being young fold mountains are still continuously rising.

Tribes in News

Who are the Tangams?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tangam tribe

Mains level : Tribal issues in the NE

Last week Arunachal CM released a book titled “Tangams: An Ethnolinguistic Study Of The Critically Endangered Group of Arunachal Pradesh”.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

Q.Consider the following statements about Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India:

  1. PVTGs reside in 18 States and one Union Territory.
  2. A stagnant or declining population is one of the criteria for determining PVTG status.
  3. There are 95 PVTGs officially notified in the country so far.
  4. Irular and Konda Reddi tribes are included in the list of PVTGs.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1, 2 and 3

(b) 2, 3 and 4

(c) 1, 2 and 4

(d) 1, 3 and 4

Who are the Tangams?

  • The Tangams is a little-known community within the larger Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh and resides in the hamlet of Kugging in Upper Siang district’s Paindem circle.
  • In 1975, the community’s population was pegged at 2,000 spread across 25 villages.
  • From 2016 to 2020, a team from the Centre for Endangered Languages (CFEL) of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU), carried out extensive field research and documented the community.
  • Their survey revealed that Tangams were now concentrated in only one village (Kugging), with only 253 reported speakers.
  • As per the UNESCO World Atlas of Endangered Languages (2009), Tangam — an oral language that belongs to the Tani group, under the greater Tibeto-Burman language family — is marked ‘critically endangered’.

Why are there only a few speakers?

  • Kugging is surrounded by a number of villages inhabited by Adi subgroups such as Shimong, Minyongs, as well as the Buddhist tribal community of Khambas, among others.
  • To communicate with their neighbours over the years, the Tangams have become multilingual, speaking not just Tangam, but other tongues such as Shimong, Khamba and Hindi.
  • They rarely speak their own language now since their population is restricted to a single village. Moreover, the Tangams are relatively unknown — even within their state.
  • The village lacks proper infrastructure in all basic sectors of education, health, drinking water facilities, road and electricity. Roads have reached Kugging only in 2018.
  • Not a single person from the community has gone to university.

Why are the languages at risk?

  • The diversity of languages has led various communities to depend on English, Assamese and colloquial variety of Hindi called Arunachalee Hindi as the link languages.
  • Many believe this shift has led to the loss of native languages of the tribal communities.
  • Even the numerically larger tribes like Nyishi, Galo, Mishmi, Tangsa etc. whose population exceed the ten thousand mark are also not safe from endangerment, hence marked unsafe.
  • The younger generation of these tribes especially in the urban areas has mostly discarded the use of their mother tongue.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Article 371A and Nagaland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 370 and 371

Mains level : Naga Peace Accord and its outcomes

In a scathing letter to CM, Nagaland Governor has said the “scenario in the State is grim” and that “law and order has collapsed”.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the success of Naga Peace Accord in light of the ongoing law and order crisis in the state.

Nagaland (Article 371A, 13th Amendment Act, 1962)

  • Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
  • Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
  • A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.

What is the issue?

  • Challenging the legitimacy of the government without any resistance from the State law and order machinery has created a crisis of confidence in the system.
  • The constitutional establishment is being challenged on a day-to-day basis by armed gangs who question the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
  • The instruments of law and order have remained totally unresponsive.

Armed militancy is back again

  • Their armed miscreants appoint their own dealers for every commodity from salt to construction material coming into the State and levy illegal taxes on every item.
  • There is over 200% cost escalation in transportation the moment a goods laden truck enters Nagaland due to gunpoint extortions by the armed miscreants.

History- Important places, persons in news

Sukapha: The founder of Ahom kingdom

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ahom Kingdom

Mains level : Not Much

Recently, Assam CM ordered the arrest of a political commentator who had described Chaolung Sukapha as a “Chinese invader”.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Who are the Ahoms? Describe the role of Ahom Kingdom in cultural assimilation of modern-day Assam.

Who was Chaolung Sukapha?

  • Sukapha was a 13th-century ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. Contemporary scholars trace his roots to Burma.
  • He reached Brahmaputra valley in Assam from upper Burma in the 13th century with around 9,000 followers.
  • Sukapha is said to have left a place called Maulung ( in Yunnan, China ) in AD 1215 with eight nobles and 9,000 men, women and children — mostly men.
  • In 1235, Sukapha and his people settled in Charaideo in upper Assam after wandering about for years, defeating those who protested his advance and temporarily staying at different locations.
  • It was in Charaideo (in Assam) that Sukapha established his first small principality, sowing the seeds of further expansion of the Ahom kingdom.

Who are the Ahoms today?

  • The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.
  • Over the centuries, the Ahoms accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language, scholars say.
  • The Ahoms embraced the language, religion and rituals of the communities living here — they did not impose theirs on those living here.
  • Today, the Ahom community is estimated to number between 4 million and 5 million.

Why is Sukapha important in Assamese culture?

  • Sukapha’s significance — especially in today’s Assam — lies in his successful efforts towards the assimilation of different communities and tribes.
  • He developed very amicable relationships with the tribal communities living here — especially the Sutias, the Morans and the Kacharis.
  • Intermarriage also increased assimilation processes. He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”.