IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 5th January 2018
Exclusive Human Rights Courts
Part of: Mains GS Paper I- Social Issues
- The human rights law of 1993 makes States responsible for setting up exclusive human rights courts with special public prosecutors in every district.
- But till now not a single State has done it.
- The Supreme Court recently asked States why exclusive human rights courts had not been set up yet.
- In the light of the rampant problem of orphanages trafficking children under their care, the Court decided to step in to protect the dignity of the child.
- “The future of the country depends on our children. States have a great role to play… It is necessary to have a comprehensive view regarding the running of orphanages, mode and method of adoptions, care given to children in these institutions, treatment meted out to the children,” the Supreme Court observed.
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Pakistan on ‘special watch list’ for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- International relations
- The United States of America has put Pakistan on its ‘special watch list’ for ‘severe violations of religious freedom’.
- Around ten other nations have been listed as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ by the US.
- Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have been listed as Countries of Particular Concern, and Pakistan as part of a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom”.
- The United States Secretary of State annually designates governments, which have undertaken or allowed measures to violate religious freedom, as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ observing the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
- The government of Pakistan continues to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, religious freedom violations.
Religiously discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, continue to result in prosecutions and imprisonments.
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Iceland become first country to legalise equal pay
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- International developments
- A new law making it illegal to pay men more than women has taken effect in Iceland.
- The legislation makes Iceland the first country in the world to legalise equal pay between men and women.
- Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies.
- Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to approximately 323,000 people, has a strong economy, based on tourism and fisheries.
- For the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the world’s most gender-equal country.
- The Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020.
Global Gender Gap Report: World Economic Forum
- The Global Gender Gap Report uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment, and health and survival to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
- The report began in 2006. , Iceland has closed around 10 percent of its total gender gap, making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world.
Gender inequality worldwide
- According to the latest WEF report, the top five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.
- Yemen, on the other hand, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report.
- Hungary was the only European country to be ranked lower than the global average, having scored poorly on political empowerment.
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
25 years of India-ASEAN relationship
India and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are currently celebrating 25 years of their rapidly expanding partnership. They are also marking 15 years of their Summit engagement and five years of Strategic their Partnership.
In addition, ASEAN completed 50 years of its establishment in 2017.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the partnership, all 10 Heads of States/Governments of ASEAN States will participate as Chief Guests in the Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2018.
The presence of the entire ASEAN leadership on this occasion is a natural extrapolation of the Act East Policy (AEP).
India and ASEAN:
India and ASEAN account for about 30 per cent of the global population (i.e., 1.85 billion people) and a combined GDP of approximately USD 5.1 trillion. Together, they would form the third largest economy in the world.
Given their combined clout, it is but natural for them to expand their areas of collaboration particularly in view of the rapidly changing and uncertain global and regional scenario.
Originally conceived as an economic initiative in 1991, this engagement has evolved in terms of geographical expanse and sectoral reach across the three pillars of politico-security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation. Besides geographical proximity, historical commonalities, cultural affinities and commercial interests, India’s AEP has been driven by geo-strategic concerns as well.
Relations with ASEAN have become multi-faceted to encompass security, connectivity, strategic, political, space technology, counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations, anti-radicalisation, trade and investment, maritime security and defence collaboration, in addition to economic ties.
India’s two-way trade with ASEAN now stands at approximately USD 76 billion. The India-ASEAN Free Trade pact in services and investments, which was concluded in 2014, has the potential to reduce India’s trade deficit with the region as also impart a strong impulse to bilateral exchanges.
India is also a part of the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which, when concluded and implemented, will cover almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, 33 per cent of global GDP and 40 per cent of world trade.
The ASEAN-India Centre (AIC), established in 2013, has enhanced the strategic partnership by concentrating on policy research and recommendations as well as organising meetings between think-tanks and similar institutions in India and ASEAN countries.
AIC seeks to bridge the existing information divide amongst the people of the two regions. Exchange programmes have been put in place for frequent interaction between students, senior officials, diplomats, academics, media professionals, etc.
Connectivity between India and ASEAN:
Better infrastructure connecting Northeast India and ASEAN has become the sine qua non for stronger economic and trade partnership and vital contributor to prosperity and economic development of the region.
Two major connectivity projects, viz., the Trilateral Highway between north-east India and Myanmar and onwards to Thailand (and Laos and Vietnam) as well as the Kaladan multi-modal transit and transport project, have been under implementation for several years.
Act East Policy:
AEP is the successor to the Look East Policy (LEP) that was put in place by then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992 under radically different geo-political and economic circumstances.
LEP was primarily focused on strengthening economic ties between India and ASEAN states. The end of the cold war and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 provided a welcome opportunity for India to reach out to South-East Asia to capitalize upon its historical, cultural and civilisational linkages with the region.
ASEAN continues to form the central pillar of India’s Act East Policy.
India, ASEAN, and the Chinese Conundrum:
In a rapidly evolving geo-political scenario marked by China’s assertive military, political and economic rise, the AEP has imparted greater dynamism to India’s ties with ASEAN.
The issue of ownership, control, use and exploitation of oil, gas, mineral and fisheries resources in the South China Sea has emerged as a major dispute between China and several ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.
There is no unanimity amongst the ASEAN countries on how to deal with China on this issue.
Importance of SCS for Inida:
- 40 per cent of India’s trade passes through the South China Sea.
- India is also interested in harnessing fossil fuel resources in the region for meeting its energy needs.
- ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) entered into an agreement with Vietnam to prospect in oil blocks 127 and 128 off the Paracel islands which fall within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Vietnam.
India and several other countries have supported freedom of navigation, ensuring maritime security, expeditious resolution of disputes according to provisions of international law, viz., the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas 1982, developing a Code of Conduct, and settlement of disputes through dialogue and peaceful means.
China’s actions have added to the anxieties and concerns of countries in South East Asia and beyond. They want India to play a more active countervailing role in the region. This interest and desire on the part of these countries goes with the efforts by India to pro-actively reach out to countries of the region for mutually beneficial engagements.
India – U.S. Partnership in the Region:
Relations between India and USA have progressed and grown in recent years.
Trump’s consistent use of the expression ”Indo-Pacific” throughout his visit, instead of the more commonly used ”Asia Pacific” to signify that India is a significant player in the region, sent out a clear message about the common position held by India and USA regarding developments in the region. It also signalled that the USA and India will partner each other to promote a free and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
A meeting of the Quad (USA, Japan, Australia and India) at the level of officials also gave a strong indication of the interest of these countries in working together to ensure a free, open, inclusive and prosperous region.
Challenges and Opportunities:
- Stronger relations between India and Myanmar have helped to quell insurgency and extremism in the north-eastern states of India.
Peace, stability and security of north-east India will be further preserved and promoted with more robust ties and understanding with Myanmar.
India has recognized that the success of the AEP will be determined by its contribution to security and economic development of Northeast India.
- The large Indian diasporas in many Southeast Asian countries help strengthen diplomatic, economic and security relations between India and ASEAN as they contribute to expand and intensify bonds. The Indian diaspora comprises an important instrument of India’s soft power.
- The promotion of India’s geostrategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region depend on India’s bilateral and multilateral/regional engagements with the countries in the region. It is hence essential to strengthen collaboration with ASEAN as an organisation as well as with individual Southeast Asian countries.
Despite progress made over the last 25 years in India-ASEAN ties, there remains immense scope for further growth in the relationship. This is one of the most dynamic regions of the world today, and it is necessary for both India and ASEAN to actively collaborate to shape the so-called ‘Asian century’. A stronger partnership and enhanced cooperation should be prioritised by both sides if the full potential of this engagement is to be realised.
Connecting the dots:
- India and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are currently celebrating 25 years of their partnership. Discuss how the relation has evolved over time and also the challenges and opportunities for India when it comes to ASEAN.
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Updated National Register of Citizens(NRC) of Assam
The first draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam has been published recently by the Office of the State Coordinator of NRC on December 31, 2017.
The objective behind updating and publishing the 1951 NRC is to compile a list of the names of genuine Indian citizens residing in Assam and, in the process, detect foreigners (read Bangladeshis) who may have illegally entered the state after March 24, 1971.
Of the 3.29 crore residents of Assam who applied for the inclusion of their names in the NRC by submitting legacy documents, 1.9 crore names have been included as citizens in the initial list.
The publication of the initial NRC list is the outcome of a long-standing demand of the Assamese people to detect and deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants from their state.
- The Assam Accord of 1985 did not contain any specific mention of updating the NRC.
- The Government of India constituted a number of Tribunals and Appellate Courts under both the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act of 1983 and the Foreigners Tribunal Act of 1964 to detect illegal Bangladeshis.
- In May 2005 that the first step towards updating the NRC of 1951 was taken, when a tripartite meeting between the Centre, the Assam government and AASU was held to review the progress made in the implementation of the Assam Accord.
- Successive governments have been extremely reluctant to update the NRC of 1951 due to various political considerations and vested interests. Supreme Court ordered the Union and State governments to begin the process of updating of the NRC in Assam.
- Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs, issued the notification for starting the work of updating the NRC. The Supreme Court constituted a Committee “to take care of any clarification that would be required with regard to the modalities in the preparation of the NRC.”
Significance of updated NRC:
The publication of the updated NRC is a positive step in so far as-
- It is an important milestone in dealing with the influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into that state.
- It puts to rest wild speculations about the extent of the illegal migrant population in Assam and the resulting polarization that political parties have been exploiting to make electoral gains.
Issues and apprehensions:
- Given that a proper documentation system does not exist in the country, for most of those whose names do not appear in the NRC, procuring the required documents, especially birth certificates, in order to establish their citizenship is difficult.
- Another issue is what happens to those people whose names do not figure in the final NRC and are declared illegal entrants into the state.
The popular rhetoric for dealing with such illegal migrants has always been to deport them to Bangladesh, but this is easier said than done. Bangladesh has consistently denied that its citizens have illegally emigrated to India.
Although the Supreme Court in its order of 2014 had instructed the Government of India to enter into discussions with Bangladesh on streamlining the deportation of illegal Bangladeshis, nothing has happened on the ground.
The absence of any clear policy as to how to deal with the proclaimed illegal migrants has created a sense of unease in the minds of many presently residing in Assam.
- Many illegal migrants who were earlier declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals have either absconded to other states to evade arrest or are dead.
Since the deportation of illegal migrants is not feasible, the only option before the government is to let them reside in the country on humanitarian grounds but after stripping them of all citizenship rights.
While the NRC is being updated for Assam, there is no plan to prepare similar NRCs for the other states in the North East where illegal migration continues to be a volatile issue.
The need of the hour is for the Union Government to allay apprehensions presently in the minds of the people of Assam and take steps to contain any adverse fallout after the publication of the final draft of the NRC. At the same time, it also needs to spell out what it intends to do with the persons whose names do not figure in the final NRC.
Connecting the dots:
- An updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam has been published this year. What was the need of the list? Discuss its significance and associates issues, if any.
Should MPs and MLAs be barred from practising law
Civil wrong, criminal act
State of conflict
Heed the patient
Privilege the honest taxpayer