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GS 1

Marking the 100th year of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report

Article:

  1. Manuj Shunmugasundaram, politician, highlight his views on the Montague-Chelmsford Report (MCR) on the eve of its 100 years completion.

Important Analysis:

  1. The 100 years of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian constitutional reforms’, known as the Montague-Chelmsford Report (MCR) completed this month.
  2. Edwin Montagu, then Secretary of State for India, had advocated for increased participation of Indians in the British Indian administration.
  3. After many meetings with Indian representatives, Montagu and the then Governor-General, Lord Chelmsford, published the MCR on July 8, 1918.
  4. The key highlights of the report:
  • The MCR proposed administrative changes for giving provincial legislatures the mantle of self-governance.
  • The report advocated the need “to emancipate the local governments and legislatures from central control; and to advance, by successive stages, in the direction of conferring responsible government on the provinces.”
  • The report recommended that “the Provinces are the domain in which the earlier steps towards the progressive realisation of responsible government should be taken”.
  • Another one of the most far-reaching objectives of the report was to elucidate the principle of accountable governance by directing that the “Government of India must remain wholly responsible to Parliament.”
  • Laid the platform for the development of a responsible government.
  • However, in the 32nd session of the Indian National Congress, led by British theosophist Annie Besant, there was strong opposition to the Montagu declaration.
  • The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms.
  • The MCR along with the Montagu Declaration are worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of modern India.
  1. The Montagu-Chelmsford Committee visited Madras Presidency to gather the views of political leaders.
  2. Finally, the MCR established the framework for devolution of powers.

GS 2

Different messages, different methods

Article

  1. Harsh V. Pant, Director, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Abhishek Mishra, Research Assistant,  analyse how India and China are developing their relations with Africa.

Important Analysis:

2. Africa’s global outreach is changing as not only are African countries seeking other partners but emerging powers in Asia are also growing in self-confidence.

3. Recent visit of PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping  to Africa underscore, both India and China are shaping new narratives of engaging with Africa.

4. PM Modi’ visited Rwanda and Uganda ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. While Chinese President visited Senegal , Rwanda and Mauritius.

5. This was PM Modi’s second visit to Africa after his visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 2016.

6. In last few years, there have been multiple visits to Africa by the Indian authorities.

7. PM Modi’s visit to Rwanda is the first ever Prime Ministerial visit to the fast-developing East African nation with which India developed its strategic partnership last year.

8. For both China and India, developing economic ties are of paramount importance though Africa’s trading patterns with the Asian giants still remain important.

9. Africa exports raw materials and imports manufactured goods.

10. India-Africa trade grew from $11.9 billion (2005-2006) to $62.66 billion (2017-2018), it is still no match to China, which is now Africa’s largest trading partner ($166 billion in 2011).

11. The Indian private sector has yet to take full advantage of the investment climate in Africa.

12. India’s approach is different from China’s in the following manner:

  • India lays emphasis on the long term enhancing Africa’s productive capacities,
  • Diversifying skills and knowledge,
  • Investing in small- and medium-sized enterprises.
  • However, China’s approach is more traditional, resource-extraction, infrastructure development and elite-level wealth creation.

13. Both India and China are laying emphasis on infrastructure and connectivity projects in priority regions of the world. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), East Africa and the Indian Ocean Region are key focus areas.

14. Rationale behind India’s cross-border connectivity with Easter African countries:

  • To foster more robust people-to-people connections
  • Increase investment-led trade and business opportunities.
  • Strengthen bilateral partnerships.

15. India’s engagement with Africa:

  • India is also seeking to enhance its cultural links with East Africa under the rubric of Project ‘Mausam’, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture,.
  • The project seeks to revive lost linkages with the Indian Ocean ‘world’ (East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia).
  • India’s African cross-border connectivity has three primary forms:

a) Maritime-port connectivity under the government’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) and the SagarMala initiative;

b) Digital connectivity under the Pan African e-Network project on tele-education and tele-medicine (launched in 2004).

c) Air connectivity in the form of direct flights from Indian cities to African destinations.

d) Recently, PM Modi outlined 10 guiding principles for deepening India’s engagement with Africa to help in its economic growth and tackle challenges such as terrorism and climate change.

e) During his recent visit to Uganda, PM said, Uganda is central to India’s commitment. He also said, Uganda is also known as the “Pearl of Africa” with great wealth of resources and rich heritage.

f) The two nations were connected to each other by ancient maritime links, shared struggle for freedom, PM said.

g) According to PM Modi, India’s engagement with Africa would be guided by 10 principles which are given below:

  • Strengthen our cooperation and mutual capabilities in combating terrorism and extremism;
  • keeping cyberspace safe and secure;
  • Supporting the UN in advancing and keeping peace.
  • India would work with African nations to keep the oceans open and free for the benefit of all nations.
  • India will harness its experience with digital revolution to support Africa’s development
  • improve delivery of public services;
  • extend education and health;
  • spread digital literacy;
  • Expand financial inclusion; and mainstream the marginalized.

Defence Cooperation:

a) India’s security and defence cooperation with Africa is mainly limited to maritime cooperation in the form of anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia

b) Deployment of Indian forces to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

c) Regular shipping visits

d) Joint-naval patrolling in the Western Indian Ocean Region. These are mainly with Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean island countries Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros.

e) China supports Africa’s military transformation by providing equipment, advanced technology, and independent capacity-building in security — and the China-Africa Defence and Security Forum is an important development.

16. India, Japan and many African nations have also launched a trilateral initiative:

  • The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC). The AAGC is a consultative initiative between three equal partners (India, Japan and Africa)
  • To develop ‘industrial corridors’, ‘institutional networks’ for the growth of Asia and Africa,
  • To promote development cooperation.

17. Way ahead:

  • Despite having differences in their approaches both India and China need to develop partnership with African nations in a way that makes Africa a part of their growth story.

 

Sanctions relief

News:

  1. The CAATSA standoff is posing a major hurdle in India-U.S. relations.

Important facts:

2. Recently, the U.S. congress allowed the introduction of a presidential waiver of its controversial Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

3. Both sides are working hard to standoff over issue.

4. The situation became even more tensed because India has decided to go ahead with S-400 deal with Russia despite U.S. sanctions.

5. CAATSA:

  • Signed by President Donald Trump last year against Russia for influencing and manipulating the 2016 presidential election process.
  • It imposes sanctions on any country carrying out significant defence and energy trade with sanctioned entities in Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • The sanctions which are implemented through executive order create both primary sanctions risk and secondary sanction risk.
  • It aims to counter the aggression through punitive measures.
  • Primary sanctionunder this U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with blocked persons or organisation.
  • Secondary sanctionNon-U.S. persons could face the imposition of secondary sanctions under Section of CAATSA. This prohibit the foreign government and companies to do business with Russia.

6. Recently, Indian authorities has made three fold case for the waiver:

  • India has made it clear that no weapons India bought would be used against the U.S.
  • The U.S. which wants to partner with India in the Indo-pacific. It would hamper India’s military abilities by applying the sanctions.
  • India has significantly reduced its dependence on Russian military hardware while increasing defence purchases from the U.S.

7. Recently, U.S. decided to push for waiver for countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia.

8. The Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference has accepted the need for waivers.

9. The “modified waiver authority”, or amendment to section 231 of CAATSA proposed by congress, allows the President to waive sanctions in certain circumstances, for six months at a time, if it is in U.S’s national security interest.

10. The issue further needs to grasp attention during the upcoming 2+2 dialogue between the Indian and U.S defence and a foreign minister.

11. Apart from CAATSA, other areas which are destroying the Indo-U.S relations is sanctions proposed by the Trump for energy trade with Iran.

 

Muzzling information

Article:

  1. Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri, RTI activists, emphasized on the reasons for amending RTI act.

Important Analysis:

2. The RTI act, 2005 hold public functionaries accountable.

3. Over the years, the act has been used by citizens to question the highest officers in the country.

4. However, the legislation has frequently faced criticisms from powerful vested interests. The latest one is proposed by the politician to amend it.

5. The amended act provides:

  • The salaries, allowances and other terms of the service of the Chief of the Central Information Commission shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
  • The Central Information Commissioners and State Chief Commissioners will be on par with Election Commissioner.
  • The Chief and other Election Commissioner are paid a salary equal to the salary of a judge of the SC.
  • The amendment seeks to empower the Central government to decide the tenure, salaries, allowances and other terms of service of all Information Commissioners in the country.

6. Reasons for amendment:

  • It contravenes with the pre-legislative consultation policy.
  • It seeks to destroy the independence of Information Commissions.
  • The RTI act fixes the tenure of information commissioner at five years and 65 years whichever is earlier.
  • Treating Information Commissioner on par with functionaries of the Election Commission is not fair, as the latter is a constitutional body while Information Commissioner are statutory bodies.

7. Empowering the Central government to decide the tenure and salaries of Information Commissioners will undermine their independence.

8. The amendment Bill comes at a time when the apex court has issued notice to the government for failing to fill vacancies in the Commission.

9. Out of a total sanctioned strength of 11 Commissioners, there are currently four vacancies and four more are due to arise in 2018, including that of the chief.

10. Failure to make timely appointments is leading to huge backlogs of appeals and complaints resulting in inordinate delays in the Commission, which render the law meaningless for citizens.

 

It’s not straight to detention centres for those not on NRC

News:

  1. The Home Ministry has asked the Assam government to ensure maintenance of law and order on the publication of the draft NRC on July 30.

Important facts:

2. The Assam government has been advised to set up a State-level coordination committee to ensure coordination among State agencies, NRC authorities and Central agencies.

3. As per directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General of India (RGI) is to publish the final list to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.

4. The first draft containing was published last year. The second and final draft is scheduled to be published on July 30.

5. Around 52 Bangladeshis currently in detention centres in Assam would be deported on July 30.

6. The Bangladesh government has accepted the identity of these people as its nationals.

 

GS 3

Detention no cure

News:

  1. Recently, the Lok Sabha passed amendment to RTE Act to re-introduce ‘pass-fail’ system in schools.

Important facts:

2. The amendment allows states to hold a regular examination at the end of Classes 5 and 8.

3. According to the amendment bill, a child who fails in the examination held after Classes 5 and 8 will be given additional instruction and the opportunity to appear for a re-examination.

4. This examination must be held within a period of two months from the date of the declaration of the result.

5. If the child still does not pass the exam, the state government may decide to detain them.

6. However, no child can be expelled from school before they complete elementary education, the amendment bill states.

7. Criticisms of the amended Bill:

  • Many educationists argued that amendment will hamper the one of the key feature of the RTE Act, which is guarantee during the formative learning plan in schools.
  • The proposed change will allow state boards to declare a student failed and detain on the basis of an examination, although section 30(1) of the RTE act holds out the assurance that no child shall be required to free any board examination till completion of elementary education.
  • Detaining already disadvantaged children will break it further.

8. There are some concerns on learning outcomes of students. These concerns are determined by:

  • Quality of teachers
  • Students efforts
  • Process for continuous assessment
  • Active engagement of parents and the community.

9. The sub-committee of the central advisory board of education was set up for the purpose.

10. But, its assumptions were faulty because:-

  • It concluded that the crucial guarantee could be implemented only under ideal conditions, and these were not available, while the RTE act wanted to extend it all grades within its purview.
  • Tinkering with the RTE Act without sufficient thought will erode a major constitutional achievement.

11. The amended Bill have following positive aspect:

  • Enable all children to attend schools
  • In 2016 the NITI Aayog based on Punjab study found that bringing back detention in elementary schooling would increase the dropout rate, impacting the poor and Dalits the most as they depended on government institutions.

12. No detention policy is recommended by T.S.R Subramanian Committee.

 

Underground lake detected on Mars

News:

  1.  The first stable body of liquid water found on Mars.

Important facts:

2. It is about 20 km wide, shaped like a rounded triangle and located about 1.5 km beneath the ice surface.

3. The research was undertaken by the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Italy.

4. Scientist used a radar instrument for spotting water.

5. The detection was made using the data collected between May 2012 and December 2015 by an instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft that transmits radar pulses, which penetrate the Martian surface and ice caps.

6. The location’s radar profile resembled that of subglacial lakes found beneath Earth’s Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.

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