14 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Connectivity, infrastructure key points in Modi Hasina summit Page 09 - (international Relations)
- Hazardous ideas for the Himalayas Page 07- (Environment)
- U.S. court rejects bail plea by Tahawwur Rana Page 01 - (Security)
- The roots of agricultural crisis run deep Page 06 - (Economy)
UPSC Current Affairs: Connectivity, infrastructure key points in Modi-Hasina summit| Page 09
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International relations
Sub Theme: India-Bangladesh relations| UPSC
India-Bangladesh relations in recent times have been touted as one of India’s best with any country in South Asia. The upswing came in January 2009 when the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League Government came to power in Bangladesh. Since then, there has been no looking back and both sides have continued to strengthen the relationship. A number of important bilateral issues were resolved over the years, barring the sharing of Teesta River waters. However, in the last year or two, some irritants have developed which many perceive as reasons for Bangladesh turning towards China. It remains to be seen whether this turning of Bangladesh towards China is because of its annoyance with India or simply to seek more economic favour.
Resolution of Outstanding Issues
Since January 2009, when India-Bangladesh relations entered a new phase, both countries have managed to solve a number of vexed issues, which appear simple once they have been resolved. Issues such as the land and maritime border disputes were sorted out at considerable disadvantage to New Delhi. In the land border dispute, India lost 10,000 acres of land while in the maritime dispute the United Nations (UN) tribunal awarded Dhaka 19,467 sq. km of the 25,602 sq. km sea area of Bay of Bengal. India could have chosen not to abide by the verdict of the UN tribunal as has been done by China in the case of South China Sea. India, however, chose to ignore the disadvantages in the interest of building a friendly and sustainable relationship with Bangladesh.
Bangladesh cooperated with India in sorting out security issues in the Northeast. India's northeastern region had been plagued by insurgency for a number of years and many insurgent leaders took shelter in Bangladesh earlier. Post improvement in relations, Bangladesh handed over these leaders and shut down their training camps. Prominent among them were Ranjan Daimary, the founder-chief of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Anup Chetia of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). It also took the remarkable step of granting a trans-shipment facility to India to transport goods through Bangladesh to the Northeastern states. Clearly, the intention for a friendly relationship was visible on both sides. However, the opposition and some Bangladeshi commentators tried to argue that India has not responded to Bangladesh’s gestures.
Issue of Teesta River Water
The issue of Teesta river water could not be solved because of the non-cooperation of the West Bengal Government. Water is a state subject in India. Hence, for a bilateral agreement on the sharing of Teesta waters, the support of the West Bengal Government would also be needed. The West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, appeared unwilling to oblige the Central government in this regard. She had backed out on the agreement during the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and has taken the same stance with the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government.
The Teesta is an important river for Bangladesh. It helps in irrigation in the northern parts of Bangladesh, which is often considered as the granary of the country. As no agreement has taken place on the sharing of Teesta river waters, the Bangladesh Government now wants to go for an alternative. It wants to manage the water of its side by building a reservoir so that it could use it in an optimum manner and all through the year. To complete this project, Dhaka in early August 2020 sought financial assistance of nearly $1 billion from Beijing.
Bangladesh enjoys a close relationship with China and there is bipartisan consensus over the approach to be taken towards it. China is Bangladesh’s main arms supplier, investor and trade partner. It has invested large sums in Bangladesh on a string of power and infrastructure projects. Between 2008 and 2018, China supplied weapons worth $1.93 billion to Bangladesh. This constitutes 71.8 per cent of Bangladesh’s military acquisitions over this period and makes China the biggest supplier of arms to Dhaka. Although Bangladesh’s dependence on China has increased, it has always tried to balance its relationship with India and China. The Awami League Government has shown sensitivity to India’s security concerns and avoided projects that have such implications.
After the COVID-19 crisis, Bangladesh towards the end of June 2020 sought funding for the construction of the first phase of Pyra Seaport, the Barisal Bhola Bridge, and a technology park. It has also sought funding for the management and restoration of the Teesta River. The domestic politics of India has made the settlement of the Teesta issue tricky. Sensing the deadlock, Bangladesh seems to have decided to improve management of the Teesta waters within its own boundaries.
Bangladesh’s tilt towards China to undertake the Teesta river project is being perceived by many as Dhaka turning away from India. However, this may not be true. It appears that there is a tendency at present to see everything in the light of recent Chinese incursion in Ladakh or in terms of Sino-Indian competition in South Asia. India should not have problems if Bangladesh wants to manage its side of the water of the Teesta River. If an agreement is reached between India and Bangladesh at a later date, it would only make the situation better for India. However, even if that does not happen, Bangladesh would feel less aggrieved as it would have water on its side at its disposal.
Beijing, however, is likely to use the opportunity to blunt the resentment of Bangladesh over the damming of Brahmaputra. In any case, it is unlikely that either India’s or Bangladesh’s protests will have much impact and stop China in its endeavour. The pro-Chinese constituency in Bangladesh would also use it to present Beijing in a positive light.
When Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called Sheikh Hasina on July 22, 2020 and tried to discuss Kashmir, it was seen as another instance of manifestation of annoyance by Bangladesh. It must be noted here that Pakistan would always seek to create fissures in India–Bangladesh relations. Moreover, Pakistan has been shunned by even its old partner Saudi Arabia on Kashmir. Perhaps, it hoped that there would be resentment in Bangladesh over India’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which it can exploit to its advantage. There may be some confusion in Bangladesh over these issues, but the annoyance is not to the extent where Pakistan can emerge as a positive player in Bangladesh’s external relations. Bangladesh has not forgotten the role of the Pakistani Army in 1971 and a government with a pro-liberation ideology would remember that.
Need for Proactiveness
Perhaps, Sheikh Hasina needs big projects to give a boost to Bangladesh’s economy that is reeling from the COVID-19 crisis. Though the government claims that the economy is growing at the rate of 5.24 per cent, the figures have been questioned. Hasina also needs the support of the army, police and the bureaucracy to rule the country successfully. As long as the economy was growing at a rapid pace and the government was able to shower bounties, their support was guaranteed. But as the economy faces difficult circumstances due to COVID-19, their support may become uncertain. The deep state of Bangladesh might then begin to work against the government.
When the pandemic was raging in Bangladesh, India ensured that there was no shortage of daily use commodities in the country. Policymakers in Bangladesh are definitely going to take note of it. Moreover, India has appointed a new High Commissioner to Dhaka in order to improve things at the diplomatic level.
This, however, does not mean that India should be complacent. India has to remain careful of both China and Pakistan, who would like to wean South Asian countries away from India. Given the assertive foreign policy followed by China and the desperation of Pakistan after India abolished Article 370 in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, India has to follow a proactive foreign policy. It cannot afford to simply react to what China and Pakistan do. During the COVID-19 crisis, India tried to help Bangladeshi people meet some of their daily requirements by ensuring the supply of food items at a reasonable price. It is also trying to create greater comfort at the diplomatic level. Only India’s proactiveness in South Asia would keep both China and Pakistan in check.
UPSC Current Affairs:Hazardous ideas for the Himalayas| Page 07
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Environment |
Sub Theme: Dams | UPSC
Advantages and disadvantages of Hydropower
UPSC Current: U.S. court rejects bail plea filed by Tahawwur Rana| Page 01
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III | Security
Sub Theme: Maritime strategy | UPSC
Context: The terrorist came to Mumbai (November, 2008) through sea in jetties and caused mayhem and held the city to ransom for almost four days. So, in this context, enhancing and improving maritime security architecture along with coordination with other agencies became one of the top priorities of the central government. Government of India since then has taken number of measures to enhance India’s National Security on all fronts. Let us go through some the changes made so far.
Additional Responsibilities for Indian Coast Guard post 2008
- After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, there has been a paradigm shift in the maritime security apparatus that increased emphasis on surveillance, intelligence gathering and information sharing amongst the various stakeholders to ensure an effective response to any emerging situation.
- In Feb 2009, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) was additionally designated as the authority responsible for coastal security in territorial waters, including areas to be patrolled by the Coastal Police.
- The Coast Guard is also responsible for overall coordination between Central and State agencies in matters relating to Coastal Security.
Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN)
- As part of Coastal Security mechanism, a surveillance system, called Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN), comprising of Chain of Static Sensors having Radars, Automatic Identification System (AIS), Day/Night Cameras and Met Sensors at 46 locations along the coastline and Islands has been established by the Indian Coast Guard.
- In order to achieve near gap-free surveillance of the entire coastline, 38 additional Radar Stations and 08 Mobile Surveillance Systems apart from VTMS connectivity at Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Khambat, are being installed under CSN phase-II.
Setting Joint Operations Centres (JOC) & Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB)
- The foremost step towards synergy was creation of Joint Operations Centres (JOC) at Mumbai, Cochin, Visakhapatnam and Port Blair. Each of these JOCs operates under a Commander-in-Chief to synergise coastal security efforts of over 15 central and coastal state government agencies.
- The Sagar Prahari Bal meaning Ocean Sentinel Force was created in March 2009 as a unit of the Indian Navy. It was entrusted with the responsibility of patrolling India's coastal waters.
- The raising of Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB), comprising over 1,000 personnel, with the addition of over 100 Fast Interceptor Craft (FICs) further enhanced security of major harbours in India.
The government has also facilitated strengthening of legislative framework for overall maritime security such as
- The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2019 – Authorises to take action against piracy in the high seas as per United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- The National Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, 2020 - Regulates fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone of India and high seas. Promotes responsible and sustainable utilisation of marine fish resources and safety and security of fishermen at sea.
- The Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 – It aims at promotion of growth of the Indian shipping industry by incorporating the best practices adopted by other advanced countries like the U.S., Japan, U.K., Singapore and Australia. All up-to-date IMO Conventions/protocols, to which India is a party, have been adopted in it. Adequate provisions are incorporated to ensure the safety and security of vessels, safety of life at sea, prevent marine pollution, provide for maritime liabilities and compensations, and ensure comprehensive adoption of India’s obligations under International Conventions. It aims to repeal and replace the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.
India Joined Indian Ocean Commission as Observer (March 2020)
- India joined Indian Ocean Commission(IOC) as Observer in March 2020 (along with Japan and the United Nations). Till now, IOC had four observers – China, Malta, European Union and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
- India is now looking to post Navy Liaison Officers (LO) at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre(RMIFC) in Madagascar and also at the European Maritime Surveillance initiative in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).
- India has an Liaison Officers at the Information Fusion Centre (IFC)in Singapore for over four years now. LO at RMFIC and EMASOH will be in the overall realm of improving linkages of Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) in Gurugram with other IFCs and will become the repository for all maritime data in the Indian Ocean Region.
Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region
- The IFC-IOR stems from the importance of the Indian Ocean to world trade and security, and the need for the various maritime nations and organisations to collaborate towards enhancing maritime safety and security on the seas of this region.
- In addition to utilising the collective wisdom and resources towards addressing myriad challenges in the region, IFC-IOR will help interface and integrate, wherein, all partners and stakeholders would benefit from each other’s best practices and expertise.
- The IFC has been established at Gurugram, India and is collocated with Information Management and Analysis Centre which is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
- IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
- Establishment of IFC- IOR would ensure that the entire region is benefitted by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.
- The information Exchange at the IFC-IOR would be initially undertaken by virtual means, using telephone calls, faxes, emails and video conferencing over internet.
- Subsequently, to enable better interconnection, quicker analysis of information and provide timely inputs, the IFC-IOR would host Liaison Officers from partner countries.
- Additionally, towards enhancing capability building, the IFC-IOR would undertake conduct of exercises and training capsules in maritime information collection and sharing.
- The setting up of IFC-IOR underscores the governmental approach and effort in line with the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister towards Security and Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR).
- Project Mausamwas launched to strengthen ties with Indian Ocean Littoral countries.
- The Indian PM has proposed an “Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative” under the aegis of East Asia Summit to further enhance maritime security in the region.
Benefits for India
- Admission of India, even as an observer, to IOC is of great strategic significance since it will allow collective engagement with the island nations of western Indian Ocean (WIO).
- Decision to join IOC is part of the government’s push for greater salience in the whole Indian Ocean Region (IOR), including what is called the Western or African Indian Ocean.
- The IOC is also significant for its geographical location, as the islands sit around a “key choke-point” in the Indian Ocean — the Mozambique Channel. This channel is being watched more closely as the U.S.-Iran tensions threaten the Strait of Hormuz.
- Given China’s growing presence in the region, India hopes to increase its naval presence and gain support for its maritime projects across the Indo-Pacific, beginning at East African shores.
- The move will also lend greater significance to India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy.
Changes Made through 2019 Amendment in UAPA
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (also referred as UAPA) has mentioned about unlawful associations, punishment for terrorist activities including defining terrorist act (section 15), offences by companies, forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism or any property intended to be used for terrorism, listing of terrorist organisation under Schedule I of the Act and constituting Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal under section 5 and Three Schedule.
- Chapter VI of UAPA 1967 is about “Terrorist Organisation”. 2019 Amendment has changed the chapter to “Terrorists Organisations and Individuals”.
- Section 36 of the original Act provides for “Denotification of terrorist organisation”. The 2019 Amendment adds the word “Individual” along with terrorist organisation.
- Accordingly, the 2019 Amendment adds a new schedule namely Fourth Schedule providing names of individual terrorists.
- Section 25 of UAPA 1967 provided for “Powers of investigating officer and designated authority and appeal against order of designated authority”. The 2019 Amendment adds - “Investigation to be conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency, with the prior approval of the Director General of National Investigation Agency”.
- Section 43 of UAPA 1967 provided for Officers competent to investigate offences. The 2019 Amendment provides investigative powers to National Investigation Agency below the rank of Inspector.
- In the Second Schedule, International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has been added.
Purpose of the 2019 Amendment made to UAPA
- The object of amendment is to facilitate speedy investigation and prosecution of terror offences by empowering National Investigative Agencies (NIA) and designating an individual as terrorist in line with the international practices.
- According to Home Minister as stated in Parliament, amendment made to UAPA will not be misused against any individual unless individuals including Urban Maoists engage in terrorist activities against the security and sovereignty of India.
- The amendment does not take away powers of the state police. However, when National Investigative Agency (NIA) takes up a case having international and inter-state ramifications, all the facts pertinent to the case are with the NIA, and not with the state police.
- Previously under the 1967 UAPA law, it required that NIA take prior permission from the respective state DGPs to start investigation in terror cases. This delayed the investigation process and allowed the accused to hide their traces or activities.
- The 2019 amendment also gives powers to DG, NIA to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism.
- Earlier, under section 43 of UAPA, an officer not below the rank of DSP or equivalent was competent to investigate offences under UAPA. Amendment to section 43 has allowed to make the Inspectors of NIA competent to investigate offences punishable under UAPA.
- The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in Second Schedule to the Act. The Second Schedule earlier listed Nine Treaties.
- The Amendment has added another treaty to the list namely The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).
UPSC Current: The roots of the agricultural crisis run deep| Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III- Economy
Sub Theme: Agriculture | UPSC
This article has appeared in the newspaper in the context of the recent farmers' protests over the three farm acts. This article highlights that the farmers and the government could come to an amicable agreement over the recent issue, but it will only be a temporary solution.
Presently, the agriculture sector is staring at agrarian crisis and hence the Government would need to find a long-term sustainable solution to address this problem.
Poor Status of Indian Agriculture
The Agriculture sector accounts for only around 16% of India's GDP, yet it accounts for 45% of India's workforce. Hence, overall development of Agricultural sector is quite critical for ensuring inclusive and sustainable development.
The success of Green Revolution during 1970s has indeed enhanced the food production and ensured food security. However, the performance of agriculture sector is quite poor on account of 3 main factors- Rising Input Costs, Decline in Productivity and lower price realisation for the farmers.
Rising Input costs: The Green Revolution has made the Indian Agriculture highly input-intensive leading to higher economic costs and lower environmental sustainability. Rising labour costs accompanied by increased mechanisation has led to increase in input costs. The over-use of water, fertilisers, pesticides etc. has led to depletion of ground water, decrease in soil fertility, loss of biodiversity etc. leading to long term adverse effect on Indian agriculture.
Decline in Productivity: The Production basket of Indian agriculture has come to be dominated by Rice and Wheat. The average yield of Rice and Wheat in India is much lower as compared to countries such as USA and China. Further, lack of diversification of Indian agriculture towards other crops (such as Oilseeds and Pulses) and allied sector (Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Sericulture, Apiculture etc) has also acted as biggest hindrances for doubling the income levels of farmers.
For example, according to Committee on Doubling Farmers' income, an increase in agriculture diversification by 1 ha can fetch an additional annual income of Rs 80,000 for the farmers.
Lower Price Realisation: The APMC Regime in India is highly Restrictive, fragmented, Pro-trader and anti-farmer. Some of the problems with agricultural marketing include- Lack of Freedom to farmers to sell their produce anywhere within India, domination of large number of middlemen and intermediaries, lower marketable surplus of small and marginal farmers, higher price volatility, lack of cold-chain infrastructure which leads to higher post-harvest losses etc. On account of these factors, farmers realise only around 25-40% of the prices paid by consumers.
All these aspects clearly highlight that enhancing agricultural production alone will not lead to enhance in the income levels of the farmers. In order to double the income levels of the farmers, agriculture should be treated as an enterprise with focus on 3 aspects- Reducing Input costs, Enhancing Productivity and higher price realization.