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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 20th June, 2017

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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 20th June 2017

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NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Creation of Gorkhaland: A long-standing demand

In news:

West Bengal’s Darjeeling district has been on the boil over a separate state demand and witnessed widespread clashes between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists and the police. The tourism sector has been hit hard.

Background:

  • Sikkim gifted Darjeeling to the East India Company in 1835. Historically, until 1905, when the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, effected the partition of Bengal, Darjeeling was a part of the Rajshahi division, now in Bangladesh. From 1905 to 1912 Darjeeling formed a part of the Bhagalpur division now in Bihar. It was given back to Rajshahi in 1912 and remained with the Rajshahi division till Partition.

  • The Gorkhaland region, comprising the districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, is home to a large number of Nepali speakers, who resent being part of a state dominated by Bengali speakers. It remains among the earliest demands for statehood in India. Recognised as an official language of Bengal in 1961, Nepali is the official language in the hills of West Bengal. In 1992, Nepali was recognised as one of the official languages of India.

Why the Nepali people agitate?

  • Although the Nepali-speaking segment makes up just 1.2 per cent of Bengal’s population, Darjeeling evokes more interest in Nepal than any other Indian region where Nepali-speaking persons are settled.

  • The idea of a “Greater Nepal” still motivates a section of Nepal activists who want Darjeeling restored.

  • The tactful and rigid segregation of workers from the British era to the line of ethnicity in the hills, where the Nepalese were brought in and the plains, where the Chottanagpur migrants worked, rendered one community hostile against the other.

  • The few Bengalis present in the hills were and have always been the babus, working for the British and then the State. The marwaris have controlled most of the wealth, further isolating the Nepali population.

  • The Nepalese find themselves reduced to second class citizens, at the hands of these otherwise miniscule inhabitants.

  • The movement led by the Gorkha National Liberation Front, projected the CPM-led government in Bengal as anti-Nepali.

  • The demand for Gorkhaland has always found its support among the tea plantation workers. Kipat (ownership of land by a community) and Maato (mud) remain central to the movement.

What sparked the renewed protest?
Gorkhaland demand has been there for more than 75-80 years. Between 1907 and 1987, demands for a separate Darjeeling were raised on “at least on 15 occasions. Ongoing for over decades, language is at the heart of the Gorkhaland crisis. Supporters of Gorkhaland want a separate Nepalese-speaking region.
However, the approximate cause of unrest is:

  • The present crisis in Darjeeling was sparked by fears of Bengali being imposed in schools in the GJM-administered areas where a majority of the people are Nepali-speaking Gorkhas. The GJM and other separatist political forces saw this as a ploy to undermine the GTA’s authority.

  • Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led by Bimal Gurung intensified its demands for a separate state of Gorkhaland calling an indefinite bandh in the region. GJM is a political party which campaigns for the creation of a separate state Gorkhaland within India, out of districts in the north of West Bengal

  • While the protests started with the suspicion that Bengali would be made mandatory in the hills. Later it spiralled into a broad-based ‘indefinite’ agitation with the GJM targeting symbols of the state and ordering closure of all government offices.

Tripartite agreement, 2011:
Long back, the Gorkhaland movement was called off following a tripartite agreement that led to creation of an autonomous hill council. In 2011, after the Trinamool Congress came to power in the State, the GJM, the State government and the Centre signed a tripartite agreement for the establishment of the GTA, a regional autonomous body aimed at giving significant administrative control over the region to the elected party in the hills.

Way forward:

  • The State government must reach out to the GJM and work out a way to transfer powers to the GTA as was promised in 2011. A signal in this direction will go a long way in tamping down the violent agitation. It should also abandon its wishful thinking that short cuts can solve the intractable Gorkhaland issue, which is culturally rooted.

  • Take steps to empower the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. In the years since the establishment of GTA, little has been done on the ground to transfer many of the subjects to the body as was promised, rendering the notion of autonomous rule in the Hills rather moot.

  • Legitimate grievances with the West Bengal government on transfer of powers to the GTA aside, the GJM, which has ruled the Authority, too has been guilty of lackadaisical administration. Thus GTA needs to strengthen its administration.

  • Language has been a fraught issue in the Darjeeling hills for more than a century. Identity politics aside, there is something utilitarian about learning a language. Learning the language, formally, will only help expand the economic avenues of Nepali-speaking people in the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal.

  • A dialogue must be initiated with those demanding a separate Gorkhaland state and the issue thoroughly examined, and that it should not be kept lingering for long.

Conclusion:

The demand for carving out a separate state, Gorkhaland, from West Bengal is a decades old demand. The issue needs to be handled diplomatically. The cultural divide based on ethnicity and language must be bridged and this can be done only through discussion and engagement rather than violence. The GJM and the state government with the Centre as mediator must come together to bring this issue to a peaceful end.

Connecting the dots:

  • Recently separate statehood movement got renewed and intensified in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Critically analyze the reasons behind the demand and also discuss if creation of another state would help bring stability in the region.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Transforming India into a knowledge-based economy

Introduction:
Knowledge-based economies use ICT, innovation and research, higher education and specialised skills to create, disseminate and apply knowledge for growth. Transformational idea emanates from knowledge institutions. This can then be put to practical use by a for-profit company.
Advanced Asian economies such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taipei and China have successfully shifted from agriculture to manufacturing to knowledge-based industries. China and India, have built pockets of knowledge-based growth, but have not yet translated this into a broader economic model. Countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Lao have yet to really embark upon knowledge-based growth.

Importance of creating a knowledge-based economy:

  • A shift to innovation-based growth would help countries avoid the middle-income trap and also address rising income inequalities.

  • The advantage of availability of cheap labour from which countries like India and China and others in the region derive the strength that adds so much value to their economies is likely to disappear in the near future.

  • Some examples form across the world shows how knowledge based economies are already transforming economies and can have an effect on job creation and affect industries in India.

Examples:

  • Nike has been experimenting with the use of 3D printers to manufacture shoes. These areas of high-end technology have a rapid rate of convergence. It is well nigh possible that our shoe manufacturing industry could be hard-hit in no time.

  • Google is still very much smaller than the Indian IT company in terms of employees, but it earns much more in one quarter than what the Indian IT company earns in a whole year. This is simply because Google is based on a knowledge idea that has connections to Stanford. The Indian IT company, alas, is dependent on brawn as opposed to brains.

  • A former professor of robotics at the Georgia Institute of Technology has helped create a robotic tailor that can stitch a perfect circle. The only seemingly viable option for the garments industry in the Asian region is to seek to import such machines. There goes a part of our plan to keep unemployment figures down. This indicates troubling future of the garments industry.

Indian context:
As per the Mimansa school of Indian philosophy, Knowledge without action is meaningless. India has accrued enormous for centuries based on our knowledge systems:

  • C.V. Raman was in the office of the accountant general while making his discovery. In ancient India, much before Christ and the Greeks, some outstanding mathematics was discovered and driven by societal needs.

  • Knowledge systems in India invented cataract surgery and plastic surgery much before Christ.

  • The invention and use of the rapalgai — a rope-based device also called kamal enabled our merchant ships to calculate positions at sea at a time when Europe was clueless.

Way ahead:

  • India has the potential to become a leading knowledge-based economy with its youth population and growing information technology.

  • Policy — if at all — must simply be more in the realm of enlightened inducement that encourages and engenders good practices. It must nurture and encourage initiative and out-of-the-box thinking and should be, to an extent, ready to accommodate risk taking and have room for failure.

  • Institutions have to move out of traditional modes of thinking and must recognise that knowledge can exist in all realms, not just in formal systems around academia.

  • The need to develop and nurture educational institutions in a manner that ensures their linkages to the needs and challenges of the nation — including its economic needs. This requires inducing young minds to grapple with the challenges of the nation and society.

  • Steps such as supportive laws, improved infrastructure, removal of barriers to trade and investment, up-skilling of labour force, higher spending in R&D and innovative financing for small businesses must be taken urgently.

  • Regulatory, education, and infrastructure barriers must be overcome.

  • What is required is a strong, coordinated government policies coupled with investment in ICT including universal, affordable and high-speed broadband connectivity, better education notably tertiary and skills-focused training, and a culture of research and innovation with strong intellectual property rights. Flexible capital and labor markets are also crucial.

Conclusion:
The shift to knowledge-based growth is critical since India’s comparative advantages in labor and capital-intensive manufacturing are fading. New technologies like robotics, and increasing stress on resources like energy and water, are emerging as threats to Asia’s competitive edge. A shift to innovation-based growth would help India avoid the middle-income trap and also address rising income inequalities.

Connecting the dots:

  • India needs to transform itself into a knowledge-based economy. Discuss the yrgency, India’s potential as well as the challenges in bringing such a transformation

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