28 October, 2020
- MAINS TEST SERIES AND QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS
- India Discom stress is more than the sum of its past- (Economy)
- The Gilgit-Baltistan game plan (International Relations)
- India outreach to Myanmar (International Relations)
- GST and the complexity of political negotiations (Polity and Governance)
- Now, outsiders can buy land in J&K (Polity and Governance)
UPSC Current Affairs: India’s DisCom stress is more than the sum of its past | Page 0
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: Telecom Sector | UPSC
Distribution Companies (DisComs) have been called the lynchpin but also the weakest link in the electricity chain. For all of India’s global leadership for growth of renewable energy, or ambitions of smart energy, the buck stops with the DisComs, the utilities that typically buy power from generators and retail these to consumers.
UPSC Current Affairs:The Gilgit-Baltistan game plan| Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International relations
Sub Theme: India & Pakistan | Neighbourhood | UPSC
- Reports indicate that the Pakistan government is on the verge of declaring Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan. The most authoritative declaration came last month from Pakistan’s Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan who stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon make an announcement to this effect.
Where was Gilgit Baltistan before partition?
- Technically speaking Gilgit-Baltistan was a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) at the time of Partition although Dogra rule sat very lightly on this region.
- Much of it, particularly Gilgit, because of its strategic importance in the context of the Great Game in Central Asia, had been leased to the British by the Maharaja and was under the direct control of the British government until the lapse of suzerainty.
- Gilgit had its own British-officered local army, the Gilgit Scouts, which switched allegiance to Pakistan within a week of the Maharaja’s accession to India.
How has Pakistan Governed this region since?
- From the beginning Gilgit-Baltistan was governed as a separate entity by Pakistan and not as a part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- Islamabad had hesitated to declare it a province of Pakistan because of its claim that J&K is disputed territory and its future must be decided by a plebiscite among all its inhabitants.
Why change status now?
- There are several reasons why Islamabad has now decided to formally integrate Gilgit-Baltistan into Pakistan. First, the revocation of Article 370 by India and the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories have sent a clear message that the Kashmir dispute is not only dead but also buried as far as New Delhi is concerned. Pakistan’s imminent move, transforming Gilgit-Baltistan’s de facto status into a de jure one, is a clear riposte to the Indian decision.
- Second, public opinion in Gilgit-Baltistan has long been in favour of full integration into Pakistan as a province as the predominantly Shia and ethnically distinct population of the region has very little in common with PoK. Islamabad feels that by declaring it a province will assuage domestic dissatisfaction on this score.
- Third, China has been encouraging Islamabad to turn Gilgit-Baltistan into a province. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs through Gilgit-Baltistan and China has invested heavily in the region. In view of India’s continuing claim to the area, Beijing is interested in delinking Gilgit-Baltistan formally from Kashmir so that its investment does not remain hostage to the possibility of another round of India-Pakistan hostilities over Kashmir.
- China also wants to repay India in its own coin following New Delhi’s decision to separate Ladakh from J&K. Beijing views the Indian move as the first step towards India attempting to enforce its claim on Aksai Chin, currently under Chinese occupation.
- In addition to CPEC, China considers Gilgit-Baltistan very important because of its strategic location. It is contiguous to Ladakh as well as Xinjiang and could act as a staging post against India if a major conflict erupts in Ladakh. Beijing possibly presumes that Pakistan will agree to a Chinese military presence in Gilgit-Baltistan because Islamabad would like to see India embroiled simultaneously in a two-front war — in Ladakh and Gilgit — with China.
- There is already substantial Chinese civilian presence in Gilgit-Baltistan related to CPEC projects. China is interested in stationing military personnel as well. Delinking the region from the Kashmir dispute would make it easier for the international community to accept Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan. It would also serve Pakistan’s purpose of getting back at India for abrogating Article 370 as well as complicating India’s strategic environment by the implicit threat of turning it into a Chinese staging ground.
- India must calibrate its response carefully because merely by turning up the rhetorical heat, it may play into Chinese and Pakistani hands and escalate the situation. Rhetoric must always be determined by a meticulous assessment of capability.
UPSC Current Affairs: India’s outreach to Myanmar.| Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper-III – International Relations
Sub Theme: India & its neighbourhood | UPSC
India’s outreach to Myanmar
The recent visit of Foreign Secretary and Chief of the Army Staff to Myanmar reflected India’s multidimensional interests in the country and the deepening of ties between Delhi and Naypyidaw.
India and Myanmar have shared cultural roots and historical relations, apart from the strategic, economic, social and political ties.
India’s Myanmar policy
Non-interference in internal politic
Since 1990s India has supported democratisation of Myanmar, driven from within the country. This has allowed Delhi to engage with the military and the party in power, whether the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party or the pro-democracy National League for Democracy, which is in power now.
The visit would be viewed as India’s support for Myanmar’s efforts in strengthening democratisation amidst criticisms by rights groups over the credibility of its upcoming election.
Engagement rather than criticising
India is cognisant of the geopolitical dimension of Myanmar’s democratisation. India has made it clear that it supports Myanmar’s efforts and also understands Bangladesh’s burden. For Delhi, engaging rather than criticising is the most practical approach to finding a solution.
Balancing influence of China
There was inauguration of liaison office of the Embassy of India in Naypyidaw recently. This is significant as only a few countries have set up such office in Myanmar. Interestingly, China was the first country to establish a liaison office in 2017. Myanmar's growing closeness with China and the recent proposal of China Myanmar Economic Corridor is a cause of concern for India amidst growing India-China tension.
India also has taken significant step towards establishing its embassy in Nay Pyi Taw. India has its embassy in Yangon, the former capital.
Strategic Infrastructure development
India has also proposed to build a petroleum refinery in Myanmar that would involve an investment of $6 billion. It shows India’s competitive dynamic with China.
Commitment has been made to operationalise of the crucial Sittwe port in Myanmar’s Rakhine state by March 2021.
The two sides also discussed progress in the ongoing Indian-assisted infrastructure projects such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. The project will link Kolkata to Sittwe in Myanmar and then from Myanmar’s Kaladan river to India’s north-east.
Border security and development
The joint visit reiterated the “mutual commitment not to allow respective territories to be used for activities inimical to each other.” Both Delhi and Naypyidaw have been collaborating in the development of border areas with the understanding that it is the best guarantee to secure their borders. And this is an area where the fruits of bilateral cooperation are already evident on the ground.
Importance of Myanmar for India
- Myanmar is key in linking South Asia to Southeast Asia. Myanmar is a member of both ASEAN as well as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) which bridges South and South-East Asia.
- Myanmar stands at the confluence of India’s Neighbourhood First and Act East Policy and India-Myanmar partnership is at the heart of India’s vision to create a connected and cooperative neighbourhood.
- Connectivity projects through Myanmar help India overcome its Chicken-neck dilemma (Siliguri Corridor). Myanmar is also necessary for the development of North-Eastern India.
A bust of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Mandalay Jail is a symbolic gesture for a closer relationship and understanding mutual existence.
- Between 1908 and 1914, Bal Gangadhar Tilak spent 6 years in Mandalay Prison for defending the actions of revolutionaries Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki.
- Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki had tried to assassinate the District Judge, Mr. Kingsford by throwing bombs at the carriage in which he was supposed to travel.
UPSC Current Affairs: GST and the complexity of political negotiations | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: GST | Fiscal Federalism | UPSC
Context: Over the last couple of months, the Centre and States have not been on the same page over issues connected with the Goods and Services Tax (GST). As a result, Centre-State relations have plumbed the depths. This tussle, between the Centre and the States is, however, not uncommon and all federations witness bargaining in some form or other. A diversity of interests is the badge of federalism, and there will be constant negotiation and renegotiation
UPSC Current Affairs: Now, outsiders can buy land in J&K | Page 05
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: J&K| Article 370 | UPSC
Context: Ministry of Home Affairs has notified new land rules governing municipal areas in Jammu and Kashmir allowing any Indian citizen to purchase non-agricultural land in the Union territory. This has ended the exclusive rights enjoyed earlier by permanent residents of the erstwhile state under Article 35A of the Indian constitution which has now been scrapped.
How were the laws changed?
- The change has been brought through THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION (ADAPTATION OF CENTRAL LAWS) THIRD ORDER, 2020. The Order was enacted in exercise of power under Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
- The Acts or legislations mentioned in the Schedule of THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION (ADAPTATION OF CENTRAL LAWS) THIRD ORDER, 2020 stands repealed subject to certain adaptations and modifications.
- The Order has come into force with immediate effect.
- Laws which are repeal as a whole includes -
- The Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act
- Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act
- Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act 1956
- Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation of Holdings Act 1962
- Jammu and Kashmir Right of Prior Purchase Act
- Jammu and Kashmir Utilization of Lands Act
- And few other laws
What has been changed in J&K
- In the order, the MHA has amended The J&K Land Revenue Act, 1996, as it paved the way for anyone to buy land in the two UTs with an exception of agricultural land, which can only be transferred or sold to an agriculturist. However, the government can authorise an agriculturist to alienate land to a non-agriculturist for sale/gift/exchange.
- Thus, the amended laws
- Ended the exclusive rights of “permanent residents” over land in J&K
- Has opened up urban or non-agricultural land for purchase by outsiders including investors,
- provides for setting up of an industrial development corporation,
- Further amending the J&K Development Act, 1970, the order said that the government might on the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of Corp commander, can declare an area as “strategic area” within a local area “only for direct operational and training requirement of armed forces”.
- MHA has further amended the domicile law by allowing “spouse of a domicile” to be deemed a domicile. This was earlier applied only to children of Central government officials posted in J&K for a total period of 10 years, who are also eligible as domiciles.
- Under the order, a new body - The J&K Industrial Development Co-operation - has been set up and if it is unable to acquire land, the government could invoke the provision of the Right to Fair Compensation Act, and acquire the land on behalf of the corporation for public purposes.
- With the changes in the land acts, The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), 2016 is now applicable in the UT of J&K.
- Article 35A was added to the Indian Constitution through The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
- Article 35A was a “saving clause” which is generally considered as an exception in law. It highlighted that if State of Jammu and Kashmir makes law on the following subjects, then such laws shall not be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this Part. The subjects on which Article 35A applies were:
- A law defining the classes of persons who were permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- A law conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions with respect to
- employment under the State Government
- acquisition of immovable property in the State
- settlement in the State
- right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide
The concept of Permanent Resident was implicit in Article 35A which is also prescribed in section 6 of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. It says that every person who is, or is deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India, shall be a permanent resident of the State-
- If on the fourteenth day of May, 1954 they were state subject,
- He/she has acquired immovable property and has been resident of the state for not less than 10 years from May, 1954
- Any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954, was a State Subject – who migrated to Pakistan after the first day of March, 1947 – has returned to the state under a permit for resettlement – or has returned permanently to the state as acknowledged by state authorities.