25 September, 2020
- (i) India, Pak. Trade charges at SAARC, CICA meet (ii) Gilgit-Baltistan poll has no legal basis, says India (International Relations)
- (i) The foreign hand Editorial (ii) FCRA Bill incompatible with international law (Polity & Governance)
- Environmentalism at the core - Article - (Environment)
- Bio-decomposer technique will curb stubble burning (Environment)
- RBI releases document on UCB's cybersecurity (Economy)
- Question for the Day
- UPSC Current Affairs:India - Pak trade charges at SAARC, CICA + Gilgit-Baltistan polls have no legal basis, says India |Pages 01/08 +10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations |Mains: GS Paper II
Sub Theme: SAARC | Gilgit-Baltistan | UPSC
Context: India and Pakistan crossed swords over terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir at the Foreign Minister’s meetings of the 8-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the 27-nation Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar called on all SAARC members to “collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to realise its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia”, without a direct reference to Pakistan.
In Pakistan’s response, Minister advised Pakistan to cease its sponsorship and overt and covert support to terrorism against India.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi used the SAARC platform to make a detailed statement on the resolution of “long-standing disputes”, a veiled reference to Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi’s 2019 move to withdraw Article 370.
Their Foreign Minister said that they condemn, oppose any unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions with reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Qureshi also referred to systematic human rights violations of the people suffering from long-running disputes.
A similar statement was made at the CICA Special Ministerial conference that brings together Asian nations ranging from Russia and Central Asia to the Gulf and South-East Asia.
India on Elections in Gilgit-Baltistan to be conducted by Pakistan
- Pakistan in recent weeks has moved to give full provincial status to the Gilgit-Baltistan region through an election slated for November. The region earlier was known as the “Northern Areas” and Pakistan dealt with it through a special administrative arrangement.
- Pakistan’s proposed election in Gilgit-Baltistan had no legal ground as India considers the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir to be its integral part.
- Any action by Pakistan to alter the status of the militarily occupied so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally void ab initio.
- India considers Gilgit and Baltistan as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir. Its new political map published in November 2019 depicts the UTs of J&K and Ladakh consist of Gilgit-Baltistan.
- The entire territories of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been and are an integral part of India and would remain so.
Initiative to fight Corona Virus
- All SAARC nations including India and Pakistan built a common stand on the need to cooperate in battling the coronavirus pandemic.
- Jaishankar listed a number of measures taken by India in the past few months including the SAARC Leaders video-conference convened by PM Modi, a ‘COVID-19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX), a SAARC Food Bank mechanism, as well as the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, to which India has contributed $10 million.
About Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
- CICA is a multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. It is a forum based on the recognition that there is a close link between peace, security and stability in Asia and in the rest of the world.
- The Member States, while affirming their commitment to the UN Charter, believe that peace and security in Asia can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation leading to a common indivisible area of security in Asia where all states co-exist peacefully and their peoples live in peace, freedom and prosperity.
- The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Elbasy H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, on 5 October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
- The moving spirit behind this initiative was the aspiration to set up an efficient and acceptable structure for ensuring peace and security in Asia. Unlike other regions in the world, Asia did not have such a structure at the time and earlier attempts to create a suitable structure had not been very successful.
- This initiative was supported by a number of Asian countries who felt that such a structure was the need of the time.
Founding Documents of CICA
- The two founding documents of CICA are Declaration on the Principles Guiding Relations between the CICA Member Statesadopted at the First Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs held in Almaty in Kazakhstan on 14 September 1999 and Almaty Act, the charter of the CICA, adopted at the First Summit Meeting held in Almaty on 4 June 2002. These two documents became the stepping stone towards future evolution of the CICA.
- Following the spirit of the founding documents, CICA pursues its policy based on the principles of sovereign equality, non-interference in internal affairs of the Member States and economic, social and cultural cooperation to achieve its main objective of enhancing co-operation through elaborating multilateral approaches towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. All decisions within CICA framework are taken by consensus.
Meetings of CICA
- The highest decision making organ of CICA is the Meeting of the CICA Heads of State and Government. The CICA Summit is convened every four years in order to conduct consultations, review the progress of, and set priorities for CICA activities.
- Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is required to be held every two years. Ministerial Meetings are the central forum for consultations and examination of all issues related to CICA activities.
- CICA was conferred observer status by the United Nations General Assembly at its 62nd session in 2007. In pursuance of its efforts to establish links with other organizations, CICA has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK) , Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS SOC) and Shanghai Institute for International Studies.
- First Ministerial Meeting – September, 1999
- First Summit – June, 2002
- Second Ministerial Meeting – October, 2004
- Second Summit – June, 2006
- Third Ministerial Meeting – August, 2008
- Third Summit – June, 2010
- Fourth Ministerial Meeting – September, 2012
- Fourth Summit – May, 2014
- Fifth Ministerial Meeting – April, 2016
- Special Ministerial Meeting – September, 2018
Objectives of CICA:
- enhance co-operation through elaborating multilateral approaches towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia;
- eradicate the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations;
- combat illicit drug production and trafficking;
- promote trade and economic cooperation for the prosperity and stability in Asia;
- cooperation on all issues relating to environment;
- prevention of proliferation and eventual elimination of weapons of mass destruction;
- develop measures to address humanitarian issues;
- promote mutual respect, understanding and tolerance in the relations among civilizations;
- facilitate implementation of Confidence Building Measures among Member States.
- UPSC Current Affairs: The foreign hand - Editorial + FCRA Bill incompatible with international law | Pg 06 + 09
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Polity| Mains: GS Paper-II
Sub Theme: FCRA| Foreign donation | UPSC
Context: The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has observed that the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 passed by Parliament is incompatible with international law.
Against International Law
- The UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution 22/6 on Protecting Human Rights Defenders declared that, “no law should criminalize or delegitimize activities in defence of human rights on account of the origin of funding”.
- Further, the UN Special Rapporteur on Assembly and Association has clarified that controls in laws should not “unduly obstruct the legitimate work” and need to be “fair, objective and non-discriminatory, and not be used as a pretext to silence critics”.
- Resolution 22/6 call upon states states that legislation affecting the activities of human rights defenders and its application must be consistent with international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and guided by the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and, in this regard, condemns the imposition of any limitations on the work and activities of human rights defenders enforced in contravention of international human rights law.
- The resolution also call upon states to ensure that they do not discriminatorily impose restrictions on potential sources of funding aimed at supporting the work of human rights defenders.
Claims made by ICJ
- ICJ claimed that FCRA Amendment fails to comply with India’s international legal obligations and constitutional provisions to respect and protect the rights to freedom of association, expression, and freedom of assembly.
- The ICJ stressed that the Bill’s provisions would impose arbitrary and extraordinary obstacles on the capacity of human rights defenders and other civil society actors to carry out their important work.
- The ICJ noted that the restrictions in the Bill continued a larger pattern of threats and harassment faced by civil society in India. The Indian Government has sought to restrict human rights defenders from traveling outside India and used overbroad laws like sedition (Section 124A, Indian Penal Code) and Unlawful Activities Prevention, 1967 Act to arbitrarily arrest human rights defenders.
- FCRA 2020 provides for overly broad rules and measures which would effectively restrict access to foreign funding particularly for public servants and smaller non-governmental organizations. It adds onerous governmental oversight, additional regulations and certification processes, and operational requirements, while simultaneously reducing the limit of administrative expenditure that can be allocated to foreign contributions to 20 percent from the previous 50 percent.
Role of NGOs in Society
- Non-Government Organisations (NGO) is an institution or a private organisations which are free from government control and operate on non-profit basis. Traditionally an NGO play an important role in the society as an implementing organisation, a catalyst and also as a partner which mobilizes the local resources for development.
- NGOs have also been key drivers of inter-governmental negotiations, ranging from the regulation of hazardous wastes to a global ban on land mines and the elimination of slavery. Further, their presence not only fills the governance gap but also pushes the government to take up important reforms and legislation in various sectors of the society.
- The important case where the Supreme Court granted homosexuals their right to chose consensual sex partners was initiated by an NGO, Naaz Foundation. In the important case of NALSA v Union of India which declared transgender as third gender of the society was also taken up by an NGO.
- As development actors, NGOs have become the main service providers in countries where the government is unable to fulfill its traditional role especially for vulnerable section of the society especially in the field of health, education as well as climate change.
- An NGO Goonj uses urban discard as a tool to alleviate poverty and enhance the dignity of the poor in the world. It address basic but neglected issues of the poor by involving them in evolving their own solutions with dignity and urban material as reward.
- NGOs helps in capacity building in diverse fields such as health, education, environment awareness, social inclusion, skill enhancement etc. and also helps in filling the development deficit. Thus, NGOs are important stakeholders in the development process and helps in imparting their extensive knowledge for capacity building.
How their role benefits government and citizens?
- Supplementing electoral democracy - They keep governments up to date with public opinion between elections and give voice to sections of society who might otherwise be unheard or overlooked.
- Capacity Building by filling the development needs of citizens.
- Community Participation- They encourage people’s participation in policy or decision-making of the government. For example, during the budget preparation finance ministry organizes the meetings with pressure groups of several areas of economy.
- Education - Pressure groups & NGOs play an important role in promoting healthy discussion and debate, and broaden the variety of beliefs and views, leading to a better informed public. An educated electorate means that public policy will better reflect the needs of society.
- Benefits of competition - Pressure groups constantly compete against each other which in turn even out the spread of power. This competition among non-state actors motivates them to perform better in their respective fields for development and benefit of the society. This in turn becomes productive for the government as well for the citizens.
- It provides a Platform to raise important issues of regional and national importance including those whose belong to the margins of the society and are by themselves not capable to deliver their needs and requirement to the government.
- They also work as the agents of voiceless and vulnerable people like prostitutes, LGBT, HIV victims, victims of custodial torture etc to fight for their rights.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Environmentalism at the core |Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III | Environment & Ecology
Sub theme: Environmental sustainability | UPSC
- The United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the World Bank Group’s global practices have recognised sustainability as an essential issue of global importance.
- In this regard, let us understand
- So what is environment sustainability?
- Policies to promote environmental sustainability
So what is environment sustainability?
- Environmental sustainability is responsibly interacting with the planet to maintain natural resources and avoid jeopardizing the ability for future generations to meet their needs.
But how can we practice it in terms of manufacturing?
- Buying greener products
- Avoiding hazardous materials
- Energy optimisation
- Waste reduction
With practices starting from acquisition of eco-friendly raw material to disposal/ reuse/ recycle of used products, employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers will be able to integrate environmental concerns in the daily operations of a firm. Thus, green supply chain practices enable organisational learning in environmental sustainability.
Policies to promote environmental sustainability
- Carbon tax – a tax placed on production/consumption of carbon – e.g. burning fossil fuels. The aim is to make users face the full social cost as opposed to just the private cost.
- Government regulation to limit harmful emissions. For example, some cities have promised to ban diesel cars by a certain date.
- Subsidising/encouraging more sustainable environmental practices. For example, moving toward renewable energy, like solar and wind power rather than relying on non-renewable energy sources which create pollution.
- Including all environmental consequences in the cost-benefit analysis of decision making.
- Shifting consumer/firm behaviour through persuasion and use of behavioural economics – for example discouraging the use of plastic tax.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Bio-decomposer technique will curb stubble burning pollution | Page 03
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III | Environment & Ecology
Sub theme: Pusa Decomposer | Bio-decomposer technique | Converting crop stubble into compost |UPSC
Pusa Agricultural Institute has developed a new and innovative bio-decomposer technique of converting crop stubble into compost, which is deemed a cost-effective way to deal with air pollution caused due to crop stubble burning.
The technology, called ‘Pusa Decomposer’, involves making a liquid formulation using decomposer capsules and readily available inputs (jaggery and chickpea flour), fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on fields with crop stubble to ensure speedy bio-decomposition of the stubble.
How it works?
- Pusa Agricultural Institute has made capsules, with the help of which the farmers can prepare 25 litre of liquid mixture with jaggery and chickpea flour. This is sufficient to cover 1 hectare of land.
- When the farmer sprays the liquid mix on the stubble, the stubble softens and melts down in 20 days.
- The farmer can then begin sowing again and he does not need to burn the crop stubble.
- The soil loses its richness due to stubble burning and it also destroys the useful bacteria and fungi in the soil, apart from causing harm to the environment.
- Bio-decomposer technique improves the fertility and productivity of the soil as the stubble works as manure and compost for the crops and lesser fertiliser consumption is required in the future.
Delhi and many other North Indian States are covered with smoke due to stubble burning in the neighbouring States by the farmers. Bio-decomposer technique (‘Pusa Decomposer’) can become a practical solution to the problem. The cost of the capsule is very less. It is simple, doable and practical technique to stop stubble burning.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Urban Cooperative Banks | Page 14
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-II | Polity & Governance
Sub theme: Cyber resilience of the Urban Co-operative Banks | UPSC
The RBI has recently come out with a document titled as "Technology Vision for Cyber Security for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) 2020-23". This vision document aims at enhancing cyber security of the UCBs. It envisages to achieve its objective through a five-pillared strategic approach GUARD- Governance Oversight, Utile Technology Investment, Appropriate Regulation and Supervision, Robust Collaboration and Developing necessary IT, cyber security skills set. The implementation of the approach outlined in this Technology Vision document will strengthen the cyber resilience of the Urban Co-operative Banks.
According to some of the estimates, In the last 5 years, the Urban cooperative banks have reported nearly 1000 cases of fraud worth more than Rs 220 crores. This failure of the UCBs is attributed to mainly two reasons:
- Dual regulation by the RBI and Registrar of Cooperative Societies. This has been addressed through the passage of banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020.
- Poor adoption of Cybersecurity measures. This has been addressed through GUARD approach.