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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 3, 2021

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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Regional stability in South-Asia depends on India, Pakistan and China

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2: India and neighbourhood relations

Synopsis: If China, Pakistan and India can remain humble, then there is hope for better regional development and stability.

Introduction   

Recently India and Pakistan have announced the strict observance of all ceasefire agreements along the Line of Control(LoC). On the other hand, India has also seen a de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control with China.

Lessons from these announcements:

  1. India has shown that China’s military and economic domination can be resisted.
  2. India showed that Pakistan’s ceasefire violations cannot yield any result on the ground.
  3. On the other hand, Pakistan also learned a few significant things.
    • The abrogation of Article 370 did not result in a cycle of violence in the Kashmir Valley that Pakistan wanted to exploit.
    • Pakistan at present remained on the FATF grey list. So, Pakistan’s state funding of terrorism has burdened Pakistan itself.

Challenges in regional stability:

  1. There are a few things that can disrupt the de-escalation between India and China.
    • There is a possibility that some fringe group might try to disrupt the de-escalation.
    • Chinese intentions behind de-escalation are still unknown. There is also not enough trust between both the countries among each other.
  2. Similarly, the ceasefire declaration by Pakistan also cannot be trusted, considering the past instability in Pakistan’s actions.
  3. The Issue of Kashmir, now seen by the world as a trilateral dispute. As the LAC with India-China and LoC with India-Pakistan was disputed. If it is true then India will need significant resources to deal with China and Pakistan at the same time.

Suggestions to improve the regional stability:

  1. India has to realise that the aggressive use of foreign policy for domestic political gains has serious effects on India’s international stand. For example, assuring that India will retake Pakistan occupied Kashmir for gaining votes in elections will harm bilateral relations and India’s international credibility.
  2. Pakistan should open up to the South Asian region instead of depending on China. As it will help Pakistan to realise its full economic potential. Further, it will provide access to the Central Asian region to the South Asian countries. Pakistan can get a large revenue as they are the transit of goods and services.
  3. China has to maintain stable relations in their deals. China has to avoid things such as non-adherence to the principles, frequent violation in the region, etc.
  • Conclusion
  • The pandemic offers an opportunity for greater economic cooperation between the three countries.
  • Political establishments of India, Pakistan and China have to rethink their geostrategic interests. Also, they need to analyse what they can offer to their citizens from peaceful relations. Then only regional stability is feasible in South Asia.

Ceasefire agreements between India and Pakistan and their significance

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3: Security challenges and Their management in border areas

Synopsis: Recently India and Pakistan issued a joint statement to strictly observe the ceasefire agreements along the LoC and other sectors. This has significant implications for peaceful border management along LoC (J&K) and other sectors.

Background

  • There were around 5130 ceasefire violations in 2020 registered on either side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • In the backdrop of this hostile climate, the two Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) from both India and Pakistan had issued a joint statement on February 24-25, to begin the ceasefire.
  • This statement is viewed as a path-breaking initiative from a conflict management point of view. It can be attributed to the success of high-level contacts through back-channel process.
  • It can be understood that both countries have realised that an unsettled border helps no one.

Ceasefire agreements between India and Pakistan:

There are several agreements signed between India and Pakistan to resolve the border dispute. They are,

  1. The Karachi agreement of 1949
    • This agreement ended the first war between newly formed India and Pakistan.
    • It was the first ceasefire agreement between the two countries. It was supervised by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan. This agreement created a boundary line in Kashmir called the Ceasefire Line or CFL.
    • Accordingly, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was mandated to monitor the ceasefire along the CFL.
  2. The Tashkent Agreement of 1965
    • The India-Pakistan war of 1965 also ended in a ceasefire. But, the CFL was unaltered in this agreement also. So similar to the Karachi agreement the status quo was maintained in border areas even after signing the Tashkent agreement.
  3. The Simla Agreement of 1972
    • This agreement was signed after the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.
    • But unlike 1965, the status quo was changed under the Simla Agreement.
    • The Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972 delineated the ‘line of control’ in Jammu and Kashmir. So the Simla Agreement converted the ceasefire line into a Line of Control (LoC).
    • Further, under this agreement both the countries agreed to resolve the disputes bilaterally.
    • This was considered as a smart move by India because of two reasons,
      1. It changed the nomenclature and the physical alignment of the India-Pakistan dividing line in Kashmir.
      2. It also made the UNMOGIP presence in Kashmir irrelevant. As the UN was not even a party to the Simla Agreement.
  4. Ceasefire Agreement of 2003
    • This agreement came after four years of Kargil and two years after the Indian Parliament got attacked.
    • Pakistan PM announced the Ceasefire on LoC on November 26, 2003.
    • It is not a formalised document.

Recent developments:

  1. The recent announcement by the DGMOs is also seen as the reiteration of the ceasefire agreement of Simla. As the 2003 agreement was not formalised.
  2. Further, the announcement is also considered as one of the most significant military measures by India and Pakistan in over 18 years. The reasons are, 
    • The recent announcement mentions a specific date to begin the ceasefire. (midnight of February 24-25).
    • It will help India to avoid a two-front situation i.e., Pakistan and China on both sides of Indian borders. Dealing with a two-front situation is neither easy nor practical for India for reasons like,
        • The Indian Army had to redeploy forces from the western border with Pakistan to the northern border with China to deal with the situation. It poses serious material challenges.
        • By agreeing to February 2021 ceasefire, India has defused the western challenge from Pakistan first. Now the army can focus more on the Northern borders with China.

Way forward:

  1. The rules enshrined in the Simla Agreement has to be rewritten or both the countries have to formalise the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Experiences from conflict zones around the world show that an unwritten ceasefire tends to break down easily and trigger tensions.
  2. To create stability in bilateral relations both countries need to progress in other domains also.

Knowledge-Economy in India

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3: Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.

Synopsis: India has lost its leadership in the production of a knowledge economy. But still India maintaining leaderships in few sectors like space, pharma and information technology.

India as Knowledge economy

Background

  • The global success of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the pharmaceutical industry signifies the diplomatic potential of India’s Knowledge Economy (production of goods and services is based mainly on knowledge-intensive activities).
  • For instance, recently ISRO launched Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite and India exported the COVID-19 vaccine to Brazil, as part of its “Vaccine Maitri” diplomacy.
  • However, India does not hold its leadership position in the production of knowledge Economy like in the 1950s.

What was the reason behind the success of these two sectors?

  1. Sustained state support: India’s current knowledge economy leadership in space and pharmaceuticals is due to 50 years of sustained state support.
      • It was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who authorised the creation of ISRO in 1972.
      • Again, it was her decision to enact the Indian Patents Act, 1970. The Act facilitated the growth of the domestic pharmaceuticals sector.
      • Subsequent governments have all contributed to the development of both industries.
  2. The credit to Indian engineering, scientific and technological talent. There is large scale development of educational institutions throughout India. This made Indian students pursuing world-class standards at a fraction of the cost compared to developed countries.
  3. With these initiatives, India became the leader in the Knowledge Economy in the space and pharma sector. Further, India built the capacity to place satellites of several countries at globally competitive rates and also able to supply drugs and vaccines at affordable prices to developing countries.
  4. Moreover, it has to be noted that these two sectors were successful even when the western countries created constraints for indigenous technology development. For instance,
      • Unilateral sanctions were imposed by the US to deny Indian industry access to technology and markets.
      • A multilateral regime for intellectual property rights (IPRs) protection was created, under the patronage of the World Trade Organisation.
      • Even today, many developed countries oppose India’s Compulsory Licence of medicines.

Proof for India as a Knowledge Economy in the past:

There were many instances in the past that shows India’s knowledge is in high demand. They are,

  1. Students from across Asia and Africa sought admission to Indian universities for post-graduate courses.
  2. Indian expertise was sought by global organisations such as the FAO, UNIDO, etc.
  3. The government of South Korea even sent its economists to the Indian Planning Commission till the early 1960s. They got their training in long-term planning.
  4. Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), had acquired a global profile with business in Africa and Asia.
  5. The development of India’s dairy and livestock economy also attracted global interest.

Why India lost its leadership in the Knowledge Economy?

Irrespective of the dominant position during the 1950s, India lost its leadership in the production of the knowledge economy. The reasons are,

  1. Flight of Indian talent to other developed countries. It had accelerated since the 1970s and has sharply increased in recent years.
  2. China has emerged as a major competitor offering equally good S&T products and services at a lower cost.
  3. The appeal of higher education in India for overseas students has decreased. This is the biggest setback for India trying to become the powerhouse of the knowledge economy. This is because of two reasons,
      • The quality of education offered in most institutions is not up to date. The education institutes in India still teach old technologies instead of new ones.
      • The social environment offered in India is no longer as cosmopolitan as it used to be. There is a significant growth in the narrow-minded ideologies in India.
  4. Lack of political and intellectual support to the development of India’s knowledge base and an inadequate commitment by the government. For example, the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) is discontinued without an alternative programme hurts the quality of technical education in India.

The success of the ISRO and Pharma sector is a tribute to public policy, government support, private sector involvement and middle-class talent. This has to spread across the sector to regain India as the leader of the Knowledge Economy.


NGT and associated challenges

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Synopsis- The National Green Tribunal(NGT) instead of protecting the environment is facing trouble due to internal issues within the NGT.

Introduction

The National Green Tribunal(NGT) is a dedicated tribunal to deal with matters relating to the environment. The NGT website even mentions that the tribunal has cleared 90% of the cases. But a close look will reveal the tribunal’s mandate to protect the environment is not yet fulfilled.

About the National Green Tribunal (NGT):

  1. National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a quasi-judicial body established on October 18, 2010. It was established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 to handle environment-related disputes.
  2. India is the third country following Australia and New Zealand to have such a system.
  3. The Mandate of NGT is to dispose of the cases related to the environment in an effective and efficient manner. The NGT handles cases related to,
    • Environmental protection
    • Environmental clearances for projects by the government are covered under the jurisdiction of NGT.
    • Conservation of forests and other natural resources.
    • Enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment.
    • Relief and compensation for damages to persons and properties.

Challenges with the working of NGT

  1. Since the inception of the NGT Act, the tribunal never functioned in its full capacity. According to the NGT Act, the tribunal should have 10 members in the Judicial and 10 members in the Expert capacity. At present, the NGT is functioning with three judicial and three expert members only. This is much less than the official requirement under the NGT Act.
  2. It has failed to achieve the Right to a healthy environment as a part of the Right to Life under Article 21.
  3. NGT has invoked the deadline associated with the technical clause and dismissed 11 petitions last year alone. This shows the inability of NGT to solve the cases in a time-bound manner.
  4. Lack of expertise in the functioning of Tribunal. This is evident by the fact that many decisions of NGT have been challenged and overruled in the Supreme Court. For instance
    • The Supreme Court questioned the expertise of NGT in the case of the Subansiri Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh 2019. Further, the court also overruled the ban imposed by NGT on that project.
  5. The tribunal also failed to carry out the merits-based review and discharge of adjudicatory function. For example, In Mopa Airport Case, the apex court held that the NGT lacks merits-based review on its judgements.
  6. Limited Regional Benches: The NGT is located only in big cities. But, environmental exploitation is majorly taking place in the tribal areas of dense forest. There is a limited opportunity for these people to come forward and file a case in NGT.

Way Forward

  • The Government needs to reform the provisions of the NGT Act to include more number of judicial and expert officials.
  • Apart from that, the government also needs to ensure the filling of Vacancies in a time-bound manner. This will ensure the proper functioning of NGT.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 3, 2021

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