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GS-1


Urbanisation

Business Of Cleanliness: (Indian Express, Editorial)

Brief overview

The article talks about:

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission
  • Challenge of disposing fecal waste
  • Fecal Sludge Management as a solution; FSM advantages

Swachh Bharat Mission

  • The Swachh Bharat Mission plans to achieve safe sanitation for all by 2019.
  • The government has a clearly-defined progress path for achieving open defecation free cities and districts/villages.
  • There is also a well-defined process, for the different phases of the mission, across the sanitation value chain — build, use, maintain and treat (BUMT).

Challenge of disposing fecal waste

  • Nationally, we generate a staggering 1.7 million tonnes of fecal waste every day.
  • There are no systems in place to safely dispose the bulk of this waste.
  • Nearly 80 per cent of this sludge remains untreated and is dumped into drains, lakes or rivers, posing a serious threat to safe and healthy living.
  • This poses grievous dangers of infection since the untreated sludge comes back into human contact through either the soil, or through untreated water contaminated with the bacteria and pathogen load of the dumped sludge.
  • We lose nearly 1,000 children a day to poor sanitation.

Fecal Sludge Management

  • FSM is successfully adopted by several countries in south-east Asia.
  • FSM involves collecting, transporting and treating fecal sludge and septage from pit latrines, septic tanks or other onsite sanitation systems.
  • This waste is then treated at septage treatment plants.
  • It is a cost and time effective system.
  • The waste is collected by private operators, who empty the sludge using vacu-trucks.
  • Now these truck operators can be monitored through a simple GPS tracking process in order to ensure that they dump the waste at treatment plants/pre-determined sites.
  • The FSM ecosystem requires its stakeholders- government, private vacu-truck operators and citizens- to collaborate closely.

Advantages of FSM

  • The most significant benefit that improved sanitation is improved public health.
  • Cleaner water bodies mean reduced incidence of water-borne diseases and reduced mortality linked to diarrhoeal diseases — especially among children less than five years old.
  • There is a huge potential in the FSM system businesses for sanitation workers.

The sludge is nutrient-rich. The waste, after treatment, can be:

  • Used by farmers as organic compost
  • treated and used for biogas, or to manufacture fuel pellets or ethanol
  • used for irrigation
  • used for construction
  • used in cooling plants
  • used by housing societies for gardens and flushing
  • used by government agencies for parks.
  • With appropriate training, sanitation workers can be empowered to own and run FSM businesses — much like the producer cooperatives of the agriculture sector.

Way Forward

  • Effective sanitation measures like FSM are critical in saving these lives.
  • A national policy is in place; it is now incumbent on cities and state governments to operationalise it.
  • FSM is not only an engineering or infrastructure solution, but a city system that requires the resolve of each stakeholder to make the city fecal sludge free, and meet the objective of clean cities, as envisioned in the Swachh Bharat Mission.

GS-2


Government policies

‘Finalise body for Cauvery water sharing’: (The Hindu)

Context

  • The Cauvery river water dispute, primarily between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, dates back to the 19th century.
  • Tamil Nadu government is insisting that the Supreme Court should appoint an authority and frame a scheme for sharing and management of Cauvery river waters among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry, and not leave the responsibility to the Centre.

What is the argument being made?

  • For the past 25 years, Tamil Nadu had a frictional relationship with Karnataka over Cauvery, and had often had to make the journey to the Supreme Court for release of water.
  • Court did chide the Centre for not implementing the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal in 2007.

Responsibility of the government questioned

  • Supreme Court has questioned the reluctance shown by the Centre to set up of the Cauvery Management Board and frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award despite it having been notified in 2013.
  • Centre did set up the Cauvery River Water Authority and Supervisory Committee following the Supreme Court’s direction.
  • Centre had decided to wait till the Supreme Court took a final call on the tribunal award.
  • The tribunal award was not clear about water release during times of distress. There was no clarity in the award in times of surplus.

Across faiths, personal laws debated in courts and Parliament: (Indian Express, Explained)

Context

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that  ruled triple talaq to be illegal, the question of certain aspects of Muslim personal law being supposedly in conflict with the law and constitutional values has been much discussed recently.

Article 25 Vs article 19?

  • While some believe that personal laws are protected by the Constitution under their right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25), the other, opposing view is that personal laws must necessarily be vetted in the light of firm constitutional values as outlined in the Right to Equality and other Rights.

Various article in constitution related to religion

  • Art 15– No discrimination on grounds of religions, race,caste, sex, place of birth only.
  • Art 25– Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religionsubject to reasonable restrictions on the grounds of public order, health and mortality.
  • Art 25 (2) provides for regulating secular activities associated with religious practices and social welfare and reform.
  • Art 26– right to establish and administer religious institutions.
  • Art 27–  Prohibit state from levying tax proceeds of which are used for the benefit of a particular religion.
  • Art 28– deals with issue of religious instruction in educational institutions.
  • Art 44- A DPSP provides for  uniform civil code
  • CAA 42nd inserted secularism in preamble.

Personal Laws of various religions coming being challenged in courts

Christian inheritance law:

  • In the landmark Mary Roy vs State of Kerala case, Mary Roy challenged Christian law and petitioned the Supreme Court for equal inheritance. Eventually, the court ruled that Christians in the former State of Travancore were governed by provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

Santhara fast:

  • In 2006, Nikhil Soni filed a PIL in Rajasthan High Court and sought directions under Article 226 to the central and state governments to treat Santhara, the fast unto death practised by Swetambara Jains (Digambars call it Sallekhana), as illegal and punishable under the laws of the land. He termed it suicide and, therefore, a criminal act. Following a high court ruling that outlawed it, members of the Jain community organised massive protests and challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court, where a bench headed by then Chief Justice H L Dattu restored the practice.

Sabarimala entry:

  • In 1991, Kerala High Court had restricted the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 from entering the Sabarimala temple. After hearing petitions in 2016, the Supreme Court reserved its judgment. Last April, Justice Deepak Misra hinted at the possibility of a constitution bench being set up to take up the matter.

Parsi women:

  • Parsi Personal Law decrees that a Parsi woman who marries a non-Parsi cannot offer prayers as a Parsi, or be treated as a Parsi., AParsi woman who married a Hindu, challenged the law in Gujarat High Court. In March 2012, the court ruled in favour of the ValsadParsiAnjuman Trust, which had not allowed Goolrokh to offer prayers at the Tower of Silence following the death of of her father. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a challenge against that ruling.

SikhiSwarup:

  • The constitutional validity of the definition of a Sikh under the Sikh Gurudwara Act,1925, was challenged by GurleenKaur. She and others had been denied admission to an MBBS course at an institution run by the ShiromaniGurdwaraPrabandhak Committee (SGPC) on the ground that some of them were not eligible to be treated as Sikhs as they had plucked their eyebrows or trimmed their beards. In a landmark order in 2009, a three-judge bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court headed by J S Khehar (then chief justice) ruled that it was essential to the Sikh faith and that “SikhiSwarup” will be decided by those who practice the faith, and not by adherence to any other values/ideals.

What is Uniform Civil Code?

One nation,one law

  • Uniform civil Code is a proposal to have a generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code.
  • According to this article, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them.

Why India needs a Uniform Civil Code?

  • A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
  • Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
  • Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
  • Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.

What are the hindrances in it’s implementation?

Court judgements:

  • One argument in favour of a status quo and against a UCC is that the courts have in innumerable cases given secular laws precedence over personal, religious codes. In the past 12 months alone, a two-judge bench ruled that Muslim women are entitled to maintenance beyond the iddat (roughly three months) period. It upheld a previous Allahabad high court judgement that “polygamy was not an integral part of religion”. It has questioned why Christian couples must wait for a two-year separation before filing for divorce when it is just one year for others

Lack of political will:

  • The unfortunate interference and mixing of religions with politics has further complicated the social atmosphere.  The political stakes will ensure that no one can enforce a UCC over the multicultural society of India.

Article 25:

  • On the other hand, if a different set of rules that violate the religious precepts are enforced upon individuals that would negate the fundamental rights of ‘Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion’ guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India

How Chakmas and Hajongs settled in North East, why Arunachal worries about citizenship: (Indian Express, Explained)

Context:

Adhering to the Supreme Court verdict, the Centre on Wednesday decided to grant citizenship to all Chakma and Hajong refugees living in the Northeast for the past five decades.

Introduction:

  • Arunachal Pradesh witnessed widespread protests against the Centre’s decision to grant citizenship
  • Several organisations and civil society in Arunachal Pradesh have been opposing citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees saying it would change the demography of the State.
  • A Rajya Sabha committee led by Sushma Swaraj in 1997 first recommended that these refugees from Bangladesh be granted Indian citizenship.

Who are the Chakmas and Hajongs?

  • They were originally inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who were forced out of that country.
  • They were displaced from their original homesteads because of the Kaptai hydroelectric dam on the Karnaphuli river in the early 1960s, and there was no rehabilitation and compensation.
  • Later, they became victims of religious persecution in East Pakistan, and fled to India.
  • While the Chakmas are Buddhists, the Hajongs are Hindus.

Why were they sent to Arunachal Pradesh?

  • They had initially crossed over to the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). But fearing trouble between the Mizos and the Chakmas, the Assam government sent them to the Tirap division of North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, present-day Arunachal Pradesh).

Have they remained refugees?

  • Although all of them were treated as refugees originally, the Government of India decided to grant them citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act  in 1972.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, which came into being the same year as a Union Territory, immediately opposed this and said that it could not permit “outsiders” to settle on its territory because that would adversely affect its demography and limited resources.

Why didn’t NEFA oppose it in the beginning?

  • When the birth of Arunachal Pradesh coincided with the joint statement of the PMs of India and Bangladesh, political parties emerging in the new state immediately identified it as a potential threat to their demography.
  • By the time Arunachal Pradesh attained full statehood in 1987, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) had already built a strong movement against settling Chakmas and Hajongs there.

What are their numbers now?

  • Only about 5,000 of the original 14,888 who were sent to the then NEFA are alive today.
  • A white paper published by the state government in1996 said their numbers had increased more than 300% from the original 14,888 persons settled in 1964-69 to over 60,000 in 1995.
  • According to the Supreme Court, all those born in India could invoke Section 5(i)(a) and apply for citizenship. So far, about 5,000 people have applied, but they are yet to be granted citizenship.
  • In 2005, the Election Commission issued general guidelines to include the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state’s electoral rolls. Though the AAPSU contested this, Gauhati High Court dismissed its plea in March 2013.
  • The names of about 3,200 Chakmas currently appear in Arunachal’s electoral rolls.

How do they sustain themselves?

  • Though refugees, each of the 2,748 families was allotted five acres of land in Changlang district in eastern Arunachal Pradesh which they continue to use for cultivation.
  • The younger generation has moved out for education and jobs, but face problems because of lack of citizenship status.
  • The state government provides them basic amenities such as education, healthcare, sanitation and rations.

What about other political parties in Arunachal Pradesh?

  • All parties in the state are unanimous in the view that granting citizenship to the Chakmas would seriously affect the demographic structure of the state where most of the tribes are less in number in comparison to the growing Chakma population.
  • Political parties said granting citizenship would contravene various laws such as the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, Scheduled District Act, 1874, Assam Frontier Tract Regulation, 1880, Assam Frontier Forest Regulation, 1891, Chin Hills Regulations, 1896, and Assam Frontier (Administration & Justice) Regulation, 1945 (1 of 1945).

What is the AAPSU’s current stance?

  • Recently, the AAPSU said granting citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh would not only grant them political rights, but also have far-reaching ramifications to the state’s social fabric.
  • It would dilute the constitutional safeguards for the indigenous communities, pose a threat to their identity and culture, and flare up social unrest unless the rights of the indigenous people are adequately protected and safeguarded.

India calls for a representative UN: (The Hindu)

Context

  • India has extended support to efforts of U.S. President Donald Trump to reform the UN, as it would include the expansion of the number of permanent and non-permanent members of the world body.

What were the discussions on reform?

  • During a discussion on UN reform, Mr. Trump insisted that he had always seen the “great potential” of the organization, but warned that “bureaucracy” was stopping it from realizing its potential.
  • Once a harsh critic of the U.N., Trump called for reforms — a view India had been expressing for a long time.

What was India’s take on it?

  • “We have said the world body should be reformed to keep pace with the changed times, including the expansion of its permanent or non-permanent members,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press conference here. “We have consistently maintained the same line,” he added.

What were the words on fair globalization?

  • Reforming the development system to become much more field-focused, well-coordinated and accountable to better assist countries through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the way paved to a fair globalization.

Targeting refugees: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

  • The Union government’s stand on the Rohingya refugee issue

What is the government’s opinion?

  • It considers Rohingya refugees as a potential security threat to the country
  • It argues in the Supreme Court that refugees would deprive India’s citizens of their legitimate share in employment, housing, educational and medical facilities.
  • The Buddhist citizens of India would face the threat of violence from the refugees.

Why the idea of deportation not just and fair?

  • The intention of deportation itself an unusual abandonment of humanitarian principles
  • The Rohingyas are stateless
  • Myanmar refuses to accept most Rohingya as its citizens
  • Hundreds of thousands have fled to Bangladesh in just the past few weeks.
  • It is estimated to be 40,000 Rohingyas living in India

Why is India obliged?

  • India is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees (1951) but it but has so far adhered to its normative standards.
  • It has played host to refugees of all hues, and stood by the principle of non-refoulement, under which refugees cannot be forced to return to conditions of danger.
  • India should not forget the Right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution which is confined to anyone who has to face the rigours of law on Indian soil.

Conclusion:

The existing law on the subject as well as some judicial decisions do support the norm on deportation of illegal immigrants.

New Delhi and Tokyo: Asia’s new leaders: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Context

  • The India-Japan relationship is rapidly gathering momentum, taking shape faster than any of India’s other current strategic partnerships
  • Changing Trend between India and Japan
  • Post 2016 annual summit, the partnership between India and Japan began to take a bolder tone and approach to the changing security environment
  • Japan and India, today are beginning to outline a framework to shape and lead the region.
  • Today, the two countries clearly see each other much more strategically  and realize the importance of shaping Asia’s architecture promoting its growth, development, and stability. Earlier it was based only on economic terms
  • Both the countries have moved towards exploring the possibilities of collaborating on projects in third countries.
  • Recently India and Japan,  took a step forward with the launch of the “Japan-India Coordination Forum for Development of Northeastern Region”.
  • This is perhaps the only dedicated forum between India and a foreign government on the development of the northeast—a region that physically connects India to southeast Asia
  • India and Japan also share a regional view in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

What caused this positive transition?

  • One of the fundamental reason for this growing understanding is – connectivity.
  • New Delhi is perhaps one of the sharpest and loudest critics of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Japan was the first country to come out in India’s support during the Doklam standoff.
  • Apart from development on the domestic front, such as the inauguration of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high-speed rail project, India and Japan are now projecting this partnership at a regional level, beginning in South Asia, expanding into the Indian Ocean and onwards to Africa.
  • Where India struggled to meet its domestic requirements on infrastructure development, it is now outlining regional strategic connectivity and infrastructure investments in partnership with Japan.

2016 Annual Summit was the initiation point

  • In 2016, Japan had talked about a “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” in Kenya
  • The joint statement post the 2016 annual summit laid the ground for a broad Indo-Japanese vision for the Indo-Pacific.
  • The two leaders discussed the strategy and announced their intention to build a maritime corridor connecting Asia and Africa.
  • The idea was simple: to provide seamless connectivity between the two continents with immense infrastructure and commercial potential.
  • The pace of developments since these announcements have been rapid and significant given the technicalities in bureaucratic negotiations.
  • The 2016 summit also saw the leaders underlining their intent to enhance connectivity in northeast India, develop “smart islands” and joint collaboration in the port of Chabahar.

2017 Summit as the Next Step Forward

  • The 2017 summit significantly advanced the initiative to develop the northeast which shares international borders with China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, with a territory contested by China (Arunachal Pradesh).
  • While the idea of building smart islands is interpreted as developing India’s sensitive Andaman and Nicobar Islands, any real commitments are yet to be seen.

What does these new improvements imply?

  • The 2017 summit though reinforces Indo-Japanese commitment for developing smart islands to boost connectivity.
  • India’s decision to engage Japan in the northeast underlines its pragmatism and a shift toward a bolder foreign policy engagement.
  • There is unmatched intent and willingness in the Indo-Japanese relationship to collaborate on new areas and across the region.

Joint Effort to handle China

  • India and Japan realise their limitations in competing with China-led initiatives.
  • However, Beijing’s assertive behaviour, both at sea and its continental border with India, created a platform for deeper collaboration between India and its partners.
  • India and Japan realize the need to act on the changing security dynamics to secure their interests and strategic ambitions.
  • Instead of competing with China’s ambitious commercial activities backed by unrivalled capital, India and Japan began creating an alternative narrative—aiming at stabilizing the region in times of uncertainty.

What should both the countries do, to take forward the partnership?

  • Having outlined the vision and intent, India and Japan will now have to consolidate their economic engagements and expand strategic partnership with specific projects, goals and deliverables.
  • The key will be in maintaining the steam in this relationship. The bureaucracy on both sides will have to tap into this political will to implement and realize the initiatives that have been laid out.
  • The partnership must identify infrastructure projects in countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal
  • India and Japan must also deepen their trilateral relationships with the US, Australia and France to shape the security architecture consistent with their vision and goals

GS-3


Intellectual Property Rights

India needs to push for a new deal: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context

  • Global trade and intellectual property are at a crossroads. India must reopen the discussion on balancing the global intellectual property system with development

What are the rising problems with the trade deal?

  • With The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) coming in 1995, the promotion of private sector was excessive.
  • Since then promoted excessive protection of private investor interests through bilateral trade agreements, often at the expense of wider public interests were done.
  • Corporate libertarians, riding high on increased market power, continue to lobby their governments for absolute protection of intellectual property (IP) rights of corporations.

What are the US concerns?

  • For the U.S., trade agreements are a prime vehicle to supplant its strong domestic standards of IP protection in partner countries, in a bid to ensure the same level of privileges for its companies abroad.
  • Over the past 20 years, the American strategy has been a neat one: to pursue bilateral agreements with individual countries one by one to ensure stronger IP protection across markets, by sidestepping the multilateral regime.

What is happening in the globalized world?

  • But in an inter-connected and highly globalized world, what goes around comes around quite fast and often with drastic consequences for all. I
  • While patent protection is getting stronger in all sectors in a large number of countries, the conditions for its grant are becoming greatly relaxed.
  • Not only do such lax patenting requirements allow companies to claim patents more broadly or consecutively, with little show of original effort as in the case of evergreening — but also patents can be claimed on all possible inventions (and discoveries) that are of relevance to the present, and even to the future.
  • A large number of countries have already foregone many degrees of policy freedom by signing up to ‘TRIPS-Plus’ standards of protection. This, in conjunction with other trade measures, is disintegrating existing markets and rigging established rules of the game.
  • At the global level, these sectors are stratified, with profits neatly split up between large corporations and new kinds of non-innovator firms that simply amass patents speculatively in upcoming, promising technologies for spurious returns.
  • The non-innovator companies are the patriciates of the system: when they hit the technology jackpot, they control the market and have the power to shift wealth and control competition.

What is there for India in this according to the report?

  • For India, the fate of its pharmaceutical and software sectors swings in the balance, and guaranteeing fair and unfettered competition will be critical.
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s recent Trade and Development Report calls for stronger measures to protect domestic sectors against the undue domination of large companies, particularly in high-profit sectors such as pharmaceuticals, media and information and communications technology (ICT).
  • Warning against trade deals that seek to protect the status quo, the report identifies patents as an instrument of unfair market power across markets.
  • The report uses data for U.S. multinational companies (MNCs) and their foreign affiliates in India to show that patent reforms have led to significant increases in the rates of return to affiliates of American companies by enabling monopoly profits when compared to publicly listed and locally headquartered companies, which are increasingly being left behind.
  • India’s high-technology sectors are already taking a beating because they operate in a volatile global environment.
  • Supporting IP standards that simply follow a ‘winner takes all’ ideology without emphasis on technological advancement and competitive markets will be a regrettable mistake.

What India needs right now?

  • A clear and tough stance on intellectual property both in domestic policy and at the multilateral level.
  • At home, support for innovation has to be accompanied with instruments that guard against the misuse of market power, coercive bargaining and aggressive merger and acquisition strategies if local firms should survive and flourish.
  • There are ongoing attempts by big business to push for new rules in areas such as e-commerce to slice up profit-making opportunities of the future.
  • India need return to old-fashioned pragmatism that clearly shows the West that India recognizes the fallacy of the current IP system and leads the way to broker a global new deal.
  • This new deal should not only call for a return to business in the WTO by tackling the forgotten issues of the Doha Round but also firmly reopen the discussion on balancing the global IP system with development.

U.S. defence firms want grip on technology in Make-in-India plan: (The Hindu)

Context:

  • The issue of technology transfer in arms deals

What are the major defence firms in the fray to join the Make-in-India initiative?

  • Lockheed Martin and Boeing are among the companies bidding for contracts.

What are the concerns raised?

  • Foreign arms manufacturers concerned over legal liabilities
  • Want stronger assurances that they won’t have to part with proprietary technology
  • They shouldn’t be held liable for defects in products manufactured in collaboration with local partners in India
  • Foreign companies seek a guarantee to allow them to retain control over sensitive technology

What is the urgency from the Indian side?

  • India is running short of combat jets.
  • Hundreds of aircraft, Soviet-era MiG planes are to retire
  • There is a delay in India’s own three-decade-long effort to produce a domestic jet

What is Strategic Partnership model?

  • Under the defence ministry’s new Strategic Partnership model under which foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can hold up to a 49% stake in a joint venture with an Indian private firm which will hold the majority of shares.

What is India’s position on Technology transfer?

  • India is insisting on the transfer of technology so that critical military equipment is designed and manufactured in India.

What was the outcome of previous arms deals?

  • Without full technology transfer in previous arms deals, India’s state-run defence factories have largely been left to assemble knock-down kits; including for tanks and aircraft
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