12 September, 2020
- India, China agree on 5-point action plan + Glimmer of Hope + Divergences remain despite 5-point plan (International Relations)
- Gujarat emerges best for start-ups again: DPIIT + Initiatives for Start-Ups - (Economy)
- Centre releases Post-Devolution Grants to 14 States - (Polity & Governance)
- Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor - Article (Polity & Governance)
- Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (Environment & Biodiversity)
- IIP and Index of Eight Core Industries (Economy)
- A game of Chess in Himalayas- Reference (International Relations)
- Question for the day
UPSC Current Affairs: India, China agree on 5-point action plan + glimmer of Hope + Divergence remain despite 5-point plan – Pg 01 + 06 + 09
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relation | Mains: GS Paper II
Sub Theme: Indo-China border conflict | Chinese aggression at LAC | UPSC
India, China agree on 5-point action plan + glimmer of Hope + Divergence remain despite 5-point plan
Recently, the Foreign Ministers of India and China met on the sidelines of the SCO Meeting which was held in Russia. Now, this face-to-face meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries was considered to be significant on account of growing tensions along the LAC. Hence, it was expected that the meeting between the two Ministers would ease tensions and ensure peace and tranquility along LAC.
Growing Tensions along the LAC:
As you all must be aware, the tensions along the LAC have escalated in recent times. There has been massive deployment of Chinese Troops along the northern Bank of Pangong Lake. Prior to Border stand off, the Chinese troops were earlier stationed at Finger 8 area. But after the stand-off, the Chinese Troops have moved in at least 8 km inside the LAC at finger 4 area. Even after agreeing to disengage, the Chinese troops have never vacated the Finger 4 area. On the other hand, according to the latest satellite images, they have now mobilized at least 2,000 soldiers in the last 2-3 days.
In response, the Indian Army has been trying to match the Chinese troop presence by increasing the soldiers along the ridges in the finger 3 area. Forces on either side are armed and well within the shooting range.
Further, until last Saturday, the South Bank of Pangong Lake was peaceful. However, on the night of August 29-30, Indian army thwarted an attempt by Chinese PLA to occupy strategic heights along the South Bank of Pangong lake. In response, India now occupies heights of Thatung, Black Top, Helmet Top, Gurung Hill, and Magger Hill besides passes such as Rezang La and Rechin La, the Spanggur Gap, and the Chushul valley.
This sector has plains that are a couple of kilometres wide, where mechanised forces, including tanks, can be deployed. Its airstrip and connectivity by road to Leh add to its operational advantages. Indian troops have now secured the ridgeline in this sub-sector that allows them to dominate the Chushul bowl on the Indian side, and Moldo sector on the Chinese side.
They also have a clear sight of the almost 2-km-wide Spanggur gap, which the Chinese used in the past to launch attacks on this sector in the 1962 War.
Violations of Border Agreements: Recently, For the first time in the last 45 years, shots have been fired along the LAC. Similarly, for the first time since 1975, 20 Indian soldiers and unknown number of Chinese soldiers have died in the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020. India has accused China of violating various agreements that have been put in place to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border.
It was amidst this particular backdrop, the Foreign Ministers of India and China met on the sidelines of the SCO Meeting which was held in Russia. Now, this face-to-face meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries was considered to be significant in order to ease tensions and ensure peace and tranquility along the LAC. At the end of meeting, India and China have come out with 5-point Action to quickly disengage the troops and ease tensions along the border. Hence, the very fact that these two countries came out with a Joint Press Statement to defuse the tensions shows both of them are willing to engage with each other and address some of the common concerns. Hence, undoubtedly, it is a glimmer of hope, but at the same time, a number of concerns/challenges still remain
Hence, in this regard, let us focus on the following dimensions:
- Broad Contours of 5-Point Plan
- Concerns/ Challenges which 5-Point Action
Broad Contours of 5-Point Plan
- Both the countries have highlighted that they would not allow differences to become disputes. This means that both the countries recognize that differences are bound to arise between them, however, at the same time, these differences have to be resolved diplomatically so that they do not turn into unresolvable disputes.
- The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
- The two Ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
- The two sides also agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings.
- The Ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Willingness to negotiate: In spite of growing escalations between the two countries, mere fact that both these countries have come together, discussed ways and means to address the stand-off and come out with a joint statement highlights that both these countries want peace and tranquillity along the border.
Toned-down China: Apart from Joint Statement, China has also come out with a separate press statement. In the earlier press statements, China was highly critical of India and entirely blamed India for the current border stand-off. But in the recent press statement, China has significantly toned down on criticising India. The tone against India in the press statement is not so harsh as it used to be earlier.
Now, what do these two things mean for India? How should we interpret these signals from China?
Now, in response to Border stand-off, India has taken a multi-faceted approach involving diplomatic, military and economic to deal with China. India has unambiguously and categorically stated that border dispute would be linked to overall Indo-China relations. That means, unless the border dispute resolves, we cannot continue to have normal relations with China. So, by linking Border dispute to the wider Indo-China relations, Indian Government has taken a number of steps to economically punish China and decouple Indian Economy from Chinese Economy. It has tightened FDI norms to restrict Investment from Chinese Companies, it has increased customs duty on Chinese goods, it has cancelled the projects which were earlier awarded to Chinese companies, it has banned a number of Chinese apps such as TikTok, PUBG etc. So, India has been trying to economically bleed China.
Now, such strategies were not adopted by Indian Government to deal with China during the previous Border-stand offs such as over Doklam or for that matter Depsang plains. But this time, the mere fact that China has come out with toned down press statement highlights that these strategies may have actually worked to India's advantage.
Need to learn from History: But, Optimism and Credibility are usually not the words which can be associated with China. While dealing with China, we must learn from history and never be too optimistic and trust China. We do know that since the border stand-off started, China has always been willing to negotiate, but at the same time, it has been carrying out military adventurism, violating the previous agreements and occupying the previously unoccupied areas such as Depsang plains, Finger 4 area. On one hand, China's diplomats give commitment to India that it would withdraw its troops, but on the other hand, Chinese PLA, deceptively and silently tries to occupy the areas, involve in unnecessary military provocation, violate the agreements and escalate the tensions.
No Clarity on withdrawal of Chinese Troops: No statement on the withdrawal of Chinese Troops and return to Status-Quo prior to border stand-off. Unless that happens, the LAC will always be on boil.
Future Course of Action: In next 2-3 months, winter would be setting in the areas which are presently occupied by Indian and Chinese soldiers. Hence, it would become a logistical challenge for India to maintain its troops in the strategic heights along the LAC. We must be mindful of the fact that continued presence of Indian troops in this area even during winter would mean that this area would emerge as another Siachen glacier for us. Hence, there is a need to find a resolution to border dispute before the winter sets in.
Lack of Consensus on Core Issues: In its press statement, China has come out with statements which are completely in conflict with India's stand. This clearly that both these countries have failed to achieve consensus on a number of core issues
- In its press statement, it has highlighted that India does not consider the relationship between the two countries to be dependent upon resolution of border dispute. This is in clear contrast to India's stand that there cannot be business-as-usual approach unless the border dispute resolves. Now, why is China saying so? This in a way, highlights that China wants to normalize its relationship with India in order to resume trade and investment and boost its economy. But, at the same time, it is not willing at least in the near term to find peaceful resolution of border dispute at the earliest. That is why China has been reluctant to formally demarcate LAC.
- Indian side believes that China's policy towards India has not changed. On the contrary, India feels that it is the changed behavior of China at the LAC which has been responsible for the current crisis. It is the provocation of Chinese PLA which has led to increased tensions in the border areas.
Agreement on 5-point action plan shows that India and China have something to agree upon. But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in eating, the success of 5-point plan would ultimately depend upon how well it is implemented, how well will China abide by the commitments it has given. As highlighted before, Credibility and Optimism are rarely used in reference to China, India needs to cautious of China's designs on the LAC and be appropriately prepared to deal with Chinese incursions.
UPSC Current Affairs: Gujarat emerges best for start-ups again: DPIIT + Initiatives for the Start-Ups – Page 15
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III I Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Start-Up ecosystem in India |Government initiative for start-up in India |UPSC
Gujarat emerges best for start-ups again: DPIIT + Initiatives for the Start-Ups
UPSC Current Affairs: Centre releases Post-Devolution grants to 14 states - Page 15
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS II: Polity & Governance
Sub theme: Post-Devolution grants | Grants from the central government to the states| UPSC
UPSC Current Affairs: Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor - Pg 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS II: Polity & Governance
Sub theme: Housing for All | Affordable housing in urban areas |UPSC
Smothering the housing rights of the urban poor
- The Supreme Court of India on August 31 ordered the removal of about 48,000 slum dwellings situated along the railway tracks in Delhi.
- A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, in one of his last orders before his retirement, directed State authorities to remove the jhuggi jhopri clusters in the railway safety zone within a period of three months.
- Most shockingly, the order stated that “no Court shall grant any stay with respect to removal of the encroachments” and in case any such interim order is granted “that shall not be effective”.
- This editorial discusses legal flaws in this particular judgment. According to the author The order is fundamentally flawed because the Court has ignored principles of natural justice, judicial precedents on the right to shelter, and state policies governing evictions.
- Let us understand them.
What did SC order?
- Relying on an affidavit filed by the Railways, the Court observed that there is a “predominant presence” of slums in close vicinity of the 140 km-long railway line in Delhi.
- It noted that while the National Green Tribunal had constituted a special task force for the removal of encroachments from railway property — “There seems to be some political intervention against removal of such encroachments”.
- The Court ordered that these “encroachments” should be removed within three months and “no interference, political or otherwise, should be there.”
Why is this order flawed?
- The order violates principles of natural justice and due process:
- It decided on the removal of jhuggi jhopris without hearing the affected party, the jhuggi dwellers.
- The two cases which were being heard, did not have any connection with illegal settlements
- The order was passed in the long-running case, M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India & Ors., regarding pollution in Delhi and was in response to a report by Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region on the piling up of garbage along railway tracks.
- However, neither this case nor the report concerns itself with the legality of informal settlements.
- Then how did SC order the eviction?
- The Court made an unconvincing connection between the piling of garbage and the presence of slums and gave an eviction order without giving the residents a fair hearing.
- The current judgment is violation of SC ruling in Olga Trellis & Others
- In the landmark decision concerning pavement-dwellers, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Olga Tellis & Ors vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation & Ors. (1985) held that the right to life also includes the “right to livelihood” and that no eviction shall take place without notice and hearing those affected.
- The Court ignored its long-standing jurisprudence on the right to livelihood and shelter upheld in various judgments.
- The Court also failed to consider the policies and case laws on slum eviction and rehabilitation in Delhi.
- In Sudama Singh & Others vs Government Of Delhi & Anr. (2010), the High Court of Delhi held that prior to any eviction, a survey must be conducted and those evicted should have a right to “meaningful engagement” with the relocation plans.
- The procedure laid down in this judgment formed the basis for the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015.
- This was reiterated in Ajay Maken & Ors. vs Union Of India & Ors. (2019), a case concerning the demolition of Shakur Basti on railway land, where the Delhi High Court invoked the idea of the “Right to the City” to uphold the housing rights of slum dwellers.
- Evictions amid pandemic
- The Supreme Court order that threatens to leave lakhs of people homeless amid a health and economic emergency is callous and unconscionable.
- As the pandemic makes urban informal livelihoods more vulnerable, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing has called on member-states to declare an end to forced evictions.
- However, as in a recent report of the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), over 20,000 people were displaced in 45 incidents of forced evictions between March 25 and July 31, when India was under lockdown. Over the last three years, over five lakh people have been evicted, most often for various “city beautification” projects.
The promise of the right to housing offered by Sudama Singh and Ajay Maken is now being undone by an insidious and legally dubious order that pre-empts other courts from giving orders to stop the eviction. These residents would now need to employ a combination of political and legal strategies to protect their housing rights and ensure that no eviction or rehabilitation is conducted without their prior informed consent.
UPSC Current Affairs: Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework – Pg 11
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS II: Polity & Governance
Sub theme: Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework | Smart cities ranking| UPSC
Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework
Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (I/C) has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0, along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’ in a virtual event organized by the Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), here today. The objective of CSCAF is to provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments. In the last decade, an increasing frequency of cyclones, floods, heat waves, water scarcity and drought-like conditions have had adverse impacts on many of our cities. Such extreme events and risks cause loss of life as well as impact the economic growth. In this context, CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.
India's efforts for combating Climate Change
As a Party to the UNFCCC, India submitted its Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UNFCCC towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation under the Convention. As per the BUR, the emission intensity of India’s GDP has reduced by 21 per cent over the period of 2005-2014 which is the result of India’s proactive and sustained actions on climate change.
National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): Launched in 2008, India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) identifies a number of measures that simultaneously advance the country’s development and climate change related objectives of adaptation and mitigation through focused National Missions.
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE): Under it, The Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme was designed on the concept of reduction in Specific Energy Consumption.
National Solar Mission: It aims to increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix. Under the total target of 100 GW, 32.5 GW of solar electric generation capacity has been installed.
National Water Mission: It focuses on monitoring of ground water, aquifer mapping, capacity building, water quality monitoring and other baseline studies. It seeks to increase water use efficiency by 20%.
National Mission for a Green India : It seeks to increase tree and forest cover by 5 mha. It also seeks to increase the quality of existing forests by additional 5 mha.
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: It is being implemented through three programmes: Atal Mission on Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Swachh Bharat Mission, and Smart Cities Mission. Energy Conservation Building Rules 2018 for commercial buildings has been made mandatory.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: It aims at enhancing food security and protection of resources. Key targets include covering 3.5 lakh hectare of area under organic farming, 3.70 under precision irrigation, 4.0 lakh hectare under System of Rice Intensification, 3.41 lakh hectare under diversification to less water consuming crop, 3.09 lakh hectare additional area under plantation in arable land and 7 bypass protein feed making. The mission has resulted in the formation of National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture, a network project.
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem : It aims to evolve suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan Ecosystem.
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: It seeks to build a knowledge system that would inform and support national action for ecologically sustainable development. Key achievements include setting up of 11 Centres of Excellence and 10 State Climate Change Centres.
UPSC Current Affairs: IIP and Index of Eight Core industries – Pg 01
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS III: Indian Economy
Sub theme: Core industries in Indian Economy | IIP| UPSC
IIP and Index of Eight Core industries