India, Indonesia elevate ties
- India and Indonesia has elevated their bilateral relationship to Comprehensive Stategic Partnership.
- Prime Minster Narendra Modi has recently made his first ever visit to Indonesia.
- He observed that India’s Act East Policy and the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) matched Indonesia’s Maritime Fulcrum Vision.
- Major takeaways from the visit:
- Fifteen agreements are signed, including one to boost defence cooperation and freedom of navigation in the Indo-pacific region
- Free of cost visas for Indonesian citizens up to thirty days was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Maritime security and safety was discussed.
Charting its own path
- Priyanjali Malik, an expert on nuclear security in South Asia, talks about India’s position after 20 years of Pokhran.
- After Pokhran India has shifted its focus from Nuclear Bomb to its civil nuclear technology. India now celebrate May 11 as National Technology Day,
- Author consider Pokhran test as the last truly sovereign decision taken by India in the field of nuclear capability. In present context nuclear technology became a global concern.
- Nuclear presence in South Asia gave Pakistan the ability to invite international attention to the bilateral relation by playing on extra-regional fears of tensions escalating to a nuclear level.
- India after Pokhran
- No place at the top table: NPT sanctioned only 5 states that conducted a nuclear test before 1968 as NWS. However India’s position in global arena is better than other two nuclear weapon state of Pakistan and North Korea.
- India not looking for NPT: India acknowledge that NPT cannot recognize it as nuclear have state. Thus India’s nuclear choice is to make NPT irrelevant
- India to join MECR: India joined three out of four MECR group ie MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group recently. India is also vocal about joining NSG.
- Focus on civil use: India signed civil nuclear deal with US in 2008. This deal reflects India’s steady shift from nuclear weapons towards civil nuclear technology.
- Draft nuclear doctrine: India published its first nuclear doctrine within five years of testing. US released its Nuclear Posture Review in 1994. No other state has explicitly published doctrine.
- Responsible Nuclear state: India shows its position as responsible nuclear state on various occasion such as during kargil war and Mumbai attack. India restraint herself from nuclear retaliation.
- Less focus on modernizing nuclear assets: US, Russia, China and Pakistan are modernizing their nuclear assets by developing tactical nuclear weapons in recent times. India still follow minimum credible deterrence. In 2003, India declared that India will respond to WMD use against it with a strike to cause maximum damage.
- India declared a self-moratorium on nuclear test after Pokhran test.
The federalist principles
- Varghese k. George has analysed the deeper question of equity in India and US.
- In US and India, there are many concerns in terms of federalism and the regional power balance, citizenship, identity and marginalisation of religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities.
- In US, the decision of Trump Administration to include question on citizenship in 2020 census is being challenged by several states.
- The new census will suppress the count of non-citizens. The non-citizens are legal residents and potential future citizen. They pay taxes without legislative representation. This is against the founding principle of US ‘no taxation without representation’.
- The new census will shift political power from North east states like New York and Michigan to south states like Texas and Washington.
- The census will determine allocation of federal, state and local government funds for social service, community programme and infrastructure.
- Many fear that the citizenship question in the Census could be a prelude to citizenship-based redistricting and resource allocation which would disempower immigrants, legal and undocumented.
- Second critical principle of democracy is ‘one person one vote’.
- In US, the massive growth of cities led Rural-Urban divide in terms of representation.
- US cities represents massive political power.
- Several Republican States in recent years have introduced measures that make minority voters less effective, diluting the “one person, one vote” principle
- In India, current practice of distribution of parliamentary representation among various states is based on 1971 census, until the first census after 2026. Redrawing of constituencies is done without affecting the number of seats in individual states.
- But when delimitation of constituencies will be done after 1931 census the states with higher success in controlling population, better education and welfare strategies will be penalized.
- Due to this delimitation political power in India will shift to northern states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar post 2031.
- Kerala could lose six of its current 20 Lok Sabha seats and Tamil Nadu could lose 11 of its 39.
- The impact on the political character of a region or the country as a whole due to these shifts is difficult to anticipate.
- In recent years, the political power in India and relative share of tax revenue is slowly shifting from non-Hindi States to the Hindi belt.
- Regionalism has always been a part of Indian and US politics but is more prominent in the recent years with growing emphasis on competitive federalism. This has been institutionalised and undermined by the market economy.
- NITI Aayog has been ranking states on the basis of Ease of Doing Business.
- Amazon is conducting a competition among American States to decide where to house its second headquarters.
- This institutionalisation of competition among states would create tensions as the State which wins would have to give resources to the weaker states for the good of the nation.
- Author also indicate that an imbalance of power is as problematic as the regional imbalance of power.
- The current Lok Sabha has 4% Muslim members against their share of 14% in the total population.
- Debates over taxation and representation have been central to the evolution of democracy over centuries.
- Democracy is based on the principle of equality. This involves redistribution of wealth from well off regions to the poorer regions.
- The hyper-nationalism undercurrents in India in 2014 and in the U.S. in 2016 undermine the core issues of representation and taxation.
- Several policies enacted by governments in both countries is considered as a majoritarian project.
- The challenge before both democracies is to manage a national community that is inclusive, representative and reassuring for all its minorities — religious, linguistic, ethnic and the economically marginalised.
Moody’s cuts India’s 2018 growth forecast to 7.3% from 7.5%
- Moody’s Investor Service has lowered India’s GDP forecast of 7.5% by 2018 to 7.3%.
- Other observations made by Moody’s Investor Service are:
- Indian economy is recovering in cyclical nature.
- Recovery of private investment cycle depends on recovery of twin balance sheet issue.
- G-20 countries will grow 3.3% in 2018 and 3.2% in 2019.
- Advanced economies will grow at a moderate 2.3% in 2018 and 2% in 2019.
- G-20 emerging markets will remain the growth drivers, at 5.2% in both 2018 and 2019, down from 5.3% in 2017.
- The GDP growth should be benefited from increase of rural consumption, higher minimum support price and a normal monsoon.
- Risk factor to GDP growth:
- Higher oil prices,
- Tighter financial conditions,
- Transition to Good and Service tax regime, and
- Trade conflict between India and China.
Nepal leads the way in cutting emissions in brick kilns
- The Brick Kiln Initiative provides a technology to cut the black carbon emission from brick kilns in Nepal.
- Brick kilns produce thousand tonne of toxic soot known as black carbon.
- To cut black carbon from brick kiln ‘the Brick kiln initiative’ is formulated by ‘International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’
- It provides a way to redesign the ovens and stack the bricks in a zig-zag pattern.
- The heat passes through the gaps of the bricks, completely burns the coal and produces less toxic soot.
- It uses less coal in the production and makes it economically productive.
34 leopards die each year in Rajasthan, says wildlife report
- Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) data revealed that there is average of 34 leopard deaths every year in Rajasthan.
- Leopard is listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, along with tiger.
- The population of leopards decline due to
- Man-animal conflicts.
- Availability of prey base.
- Road/train accidents.
- Infighting between animals
- Seizure and poaching of leopard
- Electrocution or serious injury
- Rescue operations
- Reason for increasing Man-Animal conflict
- the rise in population of leopards
- depletion of natural prey base in forest areas
- To reduce Man-Animal conflict Project Leopard is launched by government
- Main feature of project leopard
- To increase prey base so that animals do not move out of forest for food and water.
- Boundary wall near forest area
Contaminants making their way into food-contact items
- A study found that manufacturers are using recycled electrical equipment, containing toxic chemical, as a source of black plastic.
- Black plastic is used as food containers and children’s toys which makes it toxic.
- Chemicals like are applied to eclectic devices as flame retardants and pigments.
- These chemicals remain within the products even when they reach the product’s expiration
- The inefficiency to separate black waste before recycling the expired electronic items leads to contamination.
- Black plastics in the waste stream cannot be recycled easily.
- This poses a threat to human health, marine life and coastal environment.