India and neighbors
Diplomacy at work to end border stand-off with China: (The Hindu)
Diplomacy at work: India – China Context
- Diplomatic channels are still being used to resolve the stand-off between India and China despite rising rhetoric from Beijing.
- India and China have diplomatic channels, have embassies in both capitals that are available and they will continue to be used even in current environment.
- MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that India and China were a “factor of stability” in a turbulent world, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed not to allow “differences to become disputes.”
- Chinese spokesperson Geng Shuang on their part have urged India to immediately pull its troops back and “properly settle this incident.”
Healing The Sea: (Indian Express, Editorial)
India must learn from Sri Lanka’s ban on bottom-trawling Context: The Sri Lankan Parliament’s recent amendment of its Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Act to ban trawling is a welcome step from both political and ecological perspectives. Introduction:
- Sri Lanka’s legislative amendment to prohibit bottom trawling, a destructive fishing practice, is a welcome move despite its likely near-term consequence of deepening the fisheries conflict in the Palk Bay region.
- Bottom trawling in the island nation’s territorial waters will now attract a possible two year prison term and a fine of 50,000 Sri Lankan rupees.
- The practice involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea floor, is known to cause great depletion of fishery resources, and curbing it is in the interest of sustainable fishing.
- The amendment is aimed at curbing local trawlers as well as deterring trawlers from Tamil Nadu.
What is bottom trawling?
- Bottom Trawling is a fishing technique where a heavy bag-shaped net is dragged along the sea bottom using a mechanically powered boat.
- Trawling, a more efficient and active technique, could “plough out” prawns from their marine habitats at the sea bottom, resulting in a manifold increase in output.
- Trawling was developed in the temperate marine waters, which are home to fewer species. Inter-species interactions are limited there, while each species is available in millions of tonnes. In such an ecological context, trawling is not overly destructive.
Possible consequences of law amended by Sri Lanka:
- If more are arrested and slapped with two-year jail terms after a summary trial, as the law now envisages, it may create new flashpoints
- In recent years, some fishermen in northern Sri Lanka have also adopted bottom trawling.
- If this practice of bottom trawling continues even among local fisherman, the long-term consequences on fishing resources in the contested Palk Bay region will be irremediable.
- Consequence of deepening the fisheries conflict in the Palk Bay region
- It will have an impact on the conflict between Indian Tamil fisherman and the fishermen of Northern Sri Lanka who fish in the Palk Bay, a highly productive but spatially limited marine ecosystem.
- During the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka’s northern districts, Colombo had prohibited all coastal fishing in a bid to curb the LTTE’s naval prowess.
- The Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay took advantage of the cessation of fishing on the Sri Lankan side and expanded their trawler fleet.
- They also made risky fishing ventures into Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
- Their clashes with the Sri Lankan Navy often resulted in the impounding of trawlers, arrests and jail terms for fishermen.
- The civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009.
- When the fishermen of northern Sri Lanka set out to restart their lives, they found the coastal ecosystem significantly damaged.
- It was attributed to incessant bottom trawling by Indian fishers.
- From a marine ecological standpoint and socio-economic and justice perspective, trawling must be banned in coastal waters of all tropical Asian countries
- It is important point to note that despite the signing of maritime boundary agreements, fishermen communities of both the sides continued thareir fishing in the Palk Bay area peacefully until the Eelam war broke out in 1983.
- After the end of war in 2009, the Sri Lankan fishermen have been raising objection to Indian fishermen fishing in their waters.
- According to an estimate, more than 500 trawlers from Tamil Nadu cross the International Maritime Boundary Line.
- Extensive trawlerisation engendered conflicts in Asian waters.
- In Indonesia, conflicts took racial overtones as trawlers were owned by Chinese capitalists.
- The widespread and violent protests by local small fishermen forced the military dictatorship to pronounce the first-ever trawler ban in Asia in 1980.
- In India, the National Fishworkers Forum started protests against trawling in 1978. Monsoon trawl ban was introduced in Kerala in 1984.
- In tropical marine waters, there are thousands of species, exhibiting phenomenal inter-species interactions, but each in limited quantities. Trawls used in such a milieu damage the ecosystem.
Conclusion: Both the countries should ensure that the situation does not disrupt regular meetings of the Joint Working Groups.
Besides the fisheries conflict, they need to discuss marine conservation, thus giving equal importance to protecting livelihoods and sustainable fishing. Both countries need adopt to peaceful amicable solution.
The 30-year itch in India-China ties: (Live Mint, Editorial)
Issues related to governance
Tribunal prohibits dumping of waste near Ganga banks: (The Hindu)
No development zone near Ganga river, says NGT Context
- An area of 100 metres from the edge of the Ganga between Haridwar and Unnao has been declared a ‘No Development Zone,’ with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) prohibiting dumping of waste within 500 metres of the river.
Directions given by NGT
- The NGT directed the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to formulate new guidelines for the religious activities performed on the Ganga Ghats and its tributaries.
- An environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 will be imposed on anyone dumping waste in the river.
- NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the authorities concerned to complete projects within two years including a sewage treatment plant and cleaning of drains.
- The Uttar Pradesh government is duty-bound to shift tanneries, within six weeks, from Jajmau in Kanpur to leather parks in Unnao or any other place it considers appropriate.
- The court also appointed a supervisory committee, headed by the Secretary of the Water Resources Ministry and comprising IIT professors and officials of the Uttar Pradesh government.
- The Supervisory committee will oversee implementation of the directions passed in its verdict.
- All industrial units in the catchment areas of the Ganga will be stopped from indiscriminate groundwater extraction.
- No in-stream mechanical mining is permitted and even the mining on the floodplain will now be semi-mechanical and more manual.
- Such mining will be allowed only after a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the annual replenishment of sand and gravel in the riverbed.
Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment
Inflation conundrum: (The Hindu, Editorial)
Confusion with Inflation Context:
- The latest Consumer Price Index data shows headline that retail inflation has decelerated to a record low of 1.54% in June, 2017.
- The reading has slid below the 2% lower bound of the Reserve Bank of India’s medium-term target for CPI inflation has understandably led to calls for the RBI to support economic growth by cutting interest rates.
- Core inflation, which strips out the relatively volatile food and fuel prices, has also trended lower and eased below 4% for the first time in at least five years.
- Economists have openly questioned the assumptions made by the majority of the members of the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee with regard to prices and have urged a reboot of the policy rationale.
- They have also flagged concerns about “deflationary trends” and the risks of relying too heavily on forecasting models.
- Fiscally expansive measures taken by several State governments to address farmers’ demands for debt relief could pose a “tail risk” by triggering generalised inflation over time.