- India and Pakistan decided to resume the meetings between “sector commanders” deployed along the International Border (IB).
What were the issues raised in the meet?
- The quarterly meeting between officials of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General on the Wagah-Atari border had not taken place for the past year-and-a-half.
- At the 44th biannual meeting with the Pakistan Rangers, the Border Security Force (BSF) “strongly” raised the issue of unprovoked firing, killing of civilians and use of tunnels for cross-border crimes along the Pakistan border.
- The 19-member delegation of Rangers, arrived in India on November 8 for the three-day meet.
What are the issues between the two sides?
- The Indian side firmly and strongly took up specific issues of concern including
- Incidents of unprovoked cross-border firing
- Smuggling of narcotics
- Infiltration attempts
- Defence construction activities
- It underlined the discovery of a number of tunnels along the border in the Jammu region that are used by the other side to facilitate cross-border smuggling and infiltration
- While the Pakistani delegation raised the issue of targeted firing by the BSF, it was made clear that such action is resorted to when unprovoked firing from the other side kills troops, civilians or leads to other damage. The issue of inadvertent crossing over by the border population and ways to facilitate their return on both the sides was also discussed
- The two sides also decided to ensure that the wild growth of the ‘Sarkanda’ (elephant grass) along the IB will be checked and it will be disposed of within the existing norms.
Where is the next meeting scheduled?
- The next round of these talks is scheduled to be held in Pakistan.
- India’s 3,323-km border with Pakistan runs through four States — Jammu and Kashmir (1,225 km which includes 740 km of Line of Control), Rajasthan (1,037 km), Punjab (553 km) and Gujarat (508 km).
- While the BSF guards the IB independently, it works under the operational command of the Army while working at the LoC.
- Pakistan has offered to let Kulbhushan Jadhav meet his wife on humanitarian grounds.
Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav?
- Kulbhushan Jadhav is the former Indian naval officer convicted by a military court for alleged espionage.
- He was arrested in Balochistan, Pakistan, over charges of terrorism and spying for India’s intelligence agency
What happened now?
- The Government of Pakistan has decided to arrange a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev with his wife, in Pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds.
- Pakistan has consistently denied India’s requests for consular access to Mr. Jhadav. Mr. Jadhav was arrested by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016 after he allegedly crossed over from Iran.
- His video confession was released by Islamabad in which he stated that he was tasked by the RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities aimed at destabilising and waging war against Pakistan.
What was the court’s verdict?
- He was sentenced to death by a military court.
- The ruling has been upheld by the Army Chief.
- However, on India’s appeal, the International Court of Justice stayed the sentence
- A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has annulled an unprecedented order passed by the second senior-most judge, Justice J. Chelameshwar, to constitute a five-judge bench to deal with bribery allegations against a retired high court judge
- On Thursday, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameshwar had issued the order to set up the constitution bench to decide whether a special team should probe allegations that former Orissa High Court judge Justice I.M. Quiddusi had taken a bribe with the promise of influencing a Supreme Court case involving a private medical college.
What is the issue?
- The matter concerns two petitions seeking a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into allegations of corruption contained in a first information report registered by the CBI last September.
- The FIR alleged that a conspiracy was hatched by some persons, including a former Orissa High Court judge and a hawala dealer, to bribe Supreme Court judges hearing the case of a debarred private medical college.
- The case involves corruption in the very highest echelons of power, including the justice delivery system.
Constitutional Benches of the Supreme Court:
- Constitution bench is the name given to the benches of the Supreme Court of India which consist of at least five judges of the court which sit to decide any case “involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution of India.
- This provision has been mandated by Article 145 (3) of the Constitution of India.
- The Chief Justice of India has the power to constitute a Constitution Bench and refer cases to it.
- Constitution benches have decided many of India’s best-known and most important Supreme Court cases.
Removal of judges:
- Removal of a Supreme Court or High Court judge is governed by Articles 124 (4) and (5) and 217 (1) (b) and 218 of the Constitution on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
- The words “misbehaviour” or “incapacity” have neither been defined nor clarified in the Constitution.
- The complaint about misbehaviour or incapacity against a judge has to be probed under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
Art. 124 of Constitution of India
- As per Art. 124(2), “Every Judges of Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of 65 year.”
- So it is quite clear with the Art. that President can appoint any Judges of Supreme Court and High Court after consultation with the Senior Judges.
- Any judge is not appointed by directly by the President of India.
- But if anyone is appointed by the pleasure of President of India than President of Indian has a direct power to remove that particular corrupt person. Like, Attorney-General of India.
- According to Human Rights Watch, in Myanmar’s Rakhine province, in the three coastal areas of Maungdaw, Rathedaung and Buthidaung, 288 Rohingya villages were destroyed by the Myanmar army between August 25 and September 25, 2017.
- The Bangladesh government’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) is estimated to have accommodated 536,000 Rohingya refugees, of which more than 50% were children.
The history of migration
- Since 1978, there have been five major migrations of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The most recent one that began on August 25 is the biggest.
- Most of the migration takes the route of the river Naf. It flows along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border until it meets the Bay of Bengal.
- Between August 29 and October 16, 26 boats capsized in the Naf river and the Bay of Bengal, costing 183 lives. Of them, 182 were Rohingya, half of them children. This is one of the reasons why the local administration banned “any entry by boat”.
Why not migrate via land?
- The land border remains open but is both more difficult to access and riskier.
- The internally displaced Rohingya prefer to flee by boat, as eastern Rakhine is much closer to riverine crossing points.
- On the other hand, to reach any of the half a dozen crossover points on land, they would have to walk for about two weeks through a mountainous terrain manned by the trigger-happy Myanmar military.
The upsurge in boatman charges
- In August, the boatmen are making 2,000-3,000 Taka per passenger as there weren’t any restrictions. But now with the ban, the boatmen are charging 7,000-10,000 Taka for each adult.
- Typically, the boat’s owner (known as the ‘Company’) gets 50% of the revenue, while the remaining 50% is split between the boatmen and his helpers, with the motorman and the assistant together receiving 50% of what the pilot (the one drives the boat) gets.
At the refugee camp
- Many have linked the internal displacement of Rohingya to the discovery of gas, as the villages of the Rohingya Muslims sit atop a large chunk of the reserves in Myanmar.
- Global experts such as Azeem Ibrahim, a senior fellow with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, see a connection between “the (Rohingya) genocide” and the “discovery of large offshore gas and oil supplies” which has drawn the attention of “leading companies… from China, India, Australia and South Korea”, with some of them obtaining “exploration licenses from the State-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.”
The Status of refugee shelter
- The camp is a temporary shelter, set up in a forest area. A thousand trees were felled to make way for 8 by 10 ft tents made of plastic sheets.
- The shelters are on either side of the road in ankle-deep mud. The stench of human faeces is overpowering.
- Clean water and hygienic food are in severe short supply. Despite the best efforts of aid agencies and the RRRC, filth floats on stagnant pools around the makeshift shanties.
Private humanitarian networks
- Well established “private humanitarian network” with people in Europe and West Asia, which secretly arrange for money to fund the transfer, mainly of women and children, from Myanmar to Bangladesh are looking into this matter.
- The network has a handful of volunteers who pay the Company and arrange the boats. The money bypasses the established banking networks and uses the route of Hundi or alternative remittance.
- The volunteers are paid the money in Bangladesh on the basis of instructions issued by the person who is funding the boat trip from outside Bangladesh.
- Senior police officials said that they were aware of such “engagements” but could not do much about it.
What remains the issue then?
- The main problem is that there are no boats in Myanmar to bring the refugees. Any boat that brings the refugees to safety has to leave from Bangladesh.
- If the boats are disallowed, then the people stranded on the beach will die as the Myanmar military will not allow them to enter the mainland by crossing the Arakan range.
- The government is putting “all efforts in” to ensure the election of its nominee Judge Dalveer Bhandari for the International Court of Justice
What is ICJ?
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is one of the principal organs of the United Nations.
- Also known as the World Court, it adjudicates legal disputes between states, and provides advisory opinions on legal questions submitted by other UN organs or agencies.
- The court consists of 15 judges, with five judges elected every three years.
- Judges are required to be independent and impartial; they may not exercise any political or administrative function, and do not act as a representative of their home state.
What is the election procedure?
- Elections of members of the Court are governed by articles 2 through 15 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
- To be elected, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority of votes both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.
- The words “absolute majority” are interpreted as meaning a majority of all electors, whether or not they vote or are allowed to vote.
- To be elected, any candidate must obtain a majority of 97 votes or more in the UN general assembly and also a majority of eight votes in the Security Council.
- Only those candidates whose names appear on the ballot papers are eligible for election.
- Each elector in the General Assembly and in the Security Council may vote for not more than five candidates on the first ballot and, on subsequent ballots for five less the number of candidates who have already obtained an absolute majority.
How is the election significant for India?
- India has a particular interest in the ICJ spot, given the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the man convicted of spying in Pakistan, which is now in the international court at The Hague.
What is the status of this year’s election?
- The next round of voting will be on Monday, when Mr. Bhandari will face off with the United Kingdom candidate Christopher Greenwood, who also lost in the vote, in what is being described as a close contest.
- India finished far ahead in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly and Britain got more votes in the United Nations Security Council.
- If the next round of voting proves inconclusive, the U.N. would hold a “joint conference” made up of members from both the Assembly and the Council, after which the elected judges may be asked to decide.
- During the last unsuccessful round India won 115 to U.K.’s 74 votes in the UNGA, but won only six out of 15 U.N. Security Council members, while U.K. won 9.
- The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the creation of a National Testing Agency (NTA) as a Society registered under the Indian Society Registration Act, 1860, and as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions
- The NTA will begin by conducting exams managed by the CBSE and gradually conduct other examinations too.
- The NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- There will be a Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.
Benefits of NTA:
- Establishment of NTA will benefit about lakhs of students appearing in various entrance examinations.
- It will also bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing the aptitude, intelligence and problem solving abilities of the students.
Features of NTA :
- The NTA will initially conduct entrance examinations currently being conducted by CBSE. Other examinations will be taken up gradually a gradually after NTA is fully geared up.
- These examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.
- In order to serve requirements of the rural students, it will locate centres at sub-district and district level and as far as possible it will undertake hands-on training to the students.
- It would locate the centres at sub-district/district level and as far as possible would undertake hands-on training to the students.
- Its creation will relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)- which conducts exams like the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test- and the All-India Council for Technical Education of the burden of conducting entrance tests.
- NTA will be given one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from Union Government to start its operation in first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable. It will be subjected to Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG) audit.
- NTA will benefit about 4 million students appearing in various entrance examinations. It will relieve AICTE, CBSE, and other agencies from from responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations. It will bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing intelligence, aptitude and problem solving abilities of students.
- Finance Minister in his Budget speech of 2017-18 had announced setting up of NTA as autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions in view to have specialized body in India like most advanced countries.
Indian Society Registration Act, 1860
- The Societies Registration Act, 1860 is legislation in India which allows the registration of entities generally involved in the benefit of society-education, health, employment etc.
- It was enacted under the British Raj in India, but is still in force in India today.
- It provides for the registration of literary, scientific and charitable societies.
- Under the Act societies may be formed, by way of a memorandum of association, by any seven or more people associated for any literary, scientific or charitable purpose.
- The memorandum of association has to be filed with the Registrar of Societies.
- The memorandum has to contain the name of the society, its objects, names, addresses and occupation of the members of the governing body.
- Chinese president Xi Jinping laid out his country’s credentials as the new champion of world trade calling globalisation an “irreversible historical trend”, in comments that offered a contrast to the “America First” doctrine espoused by Donald Trump moments earlier.
- Mr Xi was speaking at the APEC summit in Vietnam
- President Xi Jinping conceded that the philosophy behind free trade needed to be repurposed to be “more open, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all” but defended multinational trade deals, which he said helped poorer nations benefit from global commerce.
- “We should support the multilateral trading regime and practice open regionalism to allow developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment,” he said.
- The U.S. president Donald Trump used his speech at the APEC business meet to promote his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. “
- The use of the term Indo-Pacific by President Trump has led to speculation that it may have something to do with Washington preparing the ground for a revival of the so-called Quadrilateral strategic alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India to counter China’s rise.
- In his address, Mr. Trump also praised countries like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan, which also briefly touched on the bloody history of the Vietnam war, in which Da Nang was a key battlefield.
- China has already reacted cautiously over a proposal by the Trump administration for a working-level quadrilateral meeting with India, Japan and Australia, saying Beijing hopes that it would not target or damage a “third party’s interest”.
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989.
- It has became the pre-eminent economic forum in the Asia-Pacific economic region.
- Its primary purpose is to facilitate economic growth and prosperity in the region.
- APEC operates on the basis of non-binding commitments and dialogue.
- APEC aims to strengthen regional economic integration by removing impediments to trade and investment “at the border”.
- Enhancing supply chain connectivity “across the border”
- Improving business environment “behind the border”
- It also help member countries built the institutional capacity for trade and investment reforms
Why India want to join?
- APEC would provide India with an opportunity to socialize with the developed economies of Asia-Pacific region.
- With India’ entry in APEC, its chances to get into TPP and FTAAP brightens
- APEC is a missing link between India’s Act East Policy.
- APEC membership would embed India in the premier organization promoting free trade and economic cooperation in Asia.
Barriers for India
- Large trade deficit is not allowing India to be more liberal in trade policies.
- APEC member economies also have concerns over India’s trade policy and record in international trade negotiations.
- India’s role in endangering the WTO trade facilitation agreement has created a negative and constructive image in the eye of other countries.
- APEC membership would allow India to engage member countries on evolving trade and investment rules and norms.
- The Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council has proposed a road map for stepping up skill development, creating jobs, enhancing resource investment in the social sector including for health and education, and for boosting infrastructure financing.
- The Council was headed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy.
- EAC members recently discussed the improvements needed in national accounts and innovative steps for unlocking growth, exports and the employment potential of growth drivers, including through transformation of India’s gold market.
Key highlights of the Council:
- The Council has formulated far-reaching recommendations to guide the evolving framework for the 15th Finance Commission which would recommend the formula for sharing taxes between the Centre and the State and the allocation that each State would receive, for the five-year period between 2020-2025.
- It formulated recommendations to guide the evolving framework for the Fifteenth Finance Commission, including the incentivisation of State for achieving Health, Education and Social Inclusion outcomes.
- The Council did not share any assessment of the present state of the economy, but said it “took stock of the economic and social analysis done by the them groups and ‘evolving initiatives’ led by its different members.
- Innovative steps for unlocking growth, exports and employment potential were also deliberated upon –including through transformation of India’s gold market.
- The council is also evolving the design of a new economy tracking monitor, linking economic growth indicators with social indicators for last-mile connectivity
- The Council stressed on the need for according high priority to infrastructure financing and made a presentation on the issue with a focus on developing new mechanisms for a risk coverage umbrella.
About Finance Commission:
- The Finance Commission was established by the President in 1951 under Article 280 of the Indian Constitution.
- It was formed to define the financial relations between the central government and state governments.
- According to the Constitution, the commission is appointed in every five years and consists of a chairman and four other members.
Functions of Finance Commission:
- Distribution of net proceeds of taxes between Center and the States, to be divided as per their respective contributions to the taxes.
- Determine factors governing Grants-in Aid to the states and the magnitude of the same.
- To make recommendations to president as to the measures needed to augment the Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the panchayats and municipalities in the state on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the state.
- any other matter related to it by the president in the interest of sound finance
- Finance commission is autonomous body which is governed by the government of India.
Qualifications of the members
- The Chairman of the Finance Commission is selected from people with experience of public affairs. The other four members are selected from people who:
- Are, or have been, or are qualified, as judges of High Court,
- Have knowledge of Government finances or accounts, or
- Have had experience in administration and financial expertise;
- Have special knowledge of economics
Disqualification from being a member of the Commission
A member may be disqualified,
- He is mentally unsound;
- He is an undischarged insolvent
- He has been convicted of an immoral offence;
- His financial and other interests are such that it hinders smooth functioning of the Commission.