IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd March 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
U.S. puts Pakistan on notice over terror attack
Part of: GS Mains II and III – International Relations; Security issues; Terrorism
- The United States has asked Pakistan to take sustained, verifiable and irreversible action against the perpetrators of terrorism.
- It also warned Pakistan that another terror attack on India will prove to be “extremely problematic.”
SCO offers ‘mediation’ in India-Pak. Talks
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Security issues; Terrorism
- The eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) offered to smoothen a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan so that the two countries can resolve their differences, following last month’s terror attack in Kashmir.
Do you know?
- The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was established in Shanghai in 2001 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as founding members. It was expanded in 2017 with the inclusion of India and Pakistan.
- Pakistan had accepted Russia’s offer to mediate between Pakistan and India.
- Before joining the SCO as full members, India and Pakistan committed themselves to strictly implement all the provisions of the legal framework that has been developed by the Member States of the Organisation.
- One of the such fundamental obligation is not to bring bilateral contradictions and disagreements to the SCO family, as the SCO is not engaged in the settlement of disputable bilateral issues, whether border, water or other topics in relations between individual Member States.
- The most important condition for participation in a multi-disciplinary cooperation within the SCO is the commitment to unconditional and consistent struggle against terrorism, separatism and extremism. Otherwise, it would be impossible for the two states to participate in the SCO.
- After joining the SCO, India and Pakistan have common ground and are ready to work in the SCO format to ensure regional security, joint counteraction to complex challenges and threats, sustainable socio-economic development.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Pollution
According to a team of Swiss and Indian researchers –
- Enforcing a ban will not end the menace of stubble burning.
- In other words, government’s efforts earmarking funds for specialised farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the State-led ban on the practice are unlikely to solve the problem.
- Only educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year in Punjab.
- Farmer cooperative groups, a key link between the government and farmers, ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers.
- There needs to be greater participation by village cooperatives in being able to impose social norms that would dissuade burners.
Do you know?
- The burning of paddy stubble by farmers to clear their fields for the next crop is considered to be responsible for 20% of the smog in Delhi.
- In 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, asking them to ban stubble burning.
- The Environment Ministers of these States as well as top officials at the Centre declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble, which has been estimated to contribute anywhere from 7% to 78% of the particulate matter-emission load in Delhi during winter.
- The Centre has spent about ₹600 crore in subsidising farm equipment via village cooperatives to enable farmers to access them and avoid stubble burning.
Political parties yet to comply with RTI Act
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity; Governance issues
- Despite a June 2013 ruling from the Central Information Commission (CIC) that they fall within the ambit of the transparency law, parties insist that they cannot be considered public authorities under the Act.
- Six years on, with another Lok Sabha election in the offing, the Supreme Court is set to adjudicate on the issue, with a petition filed jointly by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal coming up for hearing on March 26.
- Most political parties refused to comment publicly on the issue, saying it was sub judice.
Do you know?
- The issue goes back to October 2010, when ADR filed an RTI request seeking information on donations and contributions received by political parties.
- Of the six parties then recognised by the Election Commission as national parties, only one, the CPI, accepted that it was a public authority under the Act. (It later changed its stance.)
- ADR complained to the CIC, the highest appellate body under the RTI Act.
- In June 2013, a full bench of the CIC ruled that the national parties are public authorities under Section 2(h) of the Act, and directed them to make voluntary disclosures, appoint public information officers and respond to RTI applications.
Important value additions:
Central Information Commission (CIC) has passed order for bringing political parties under the purview of RTI act declaring them as public authorities. CIC has based its order on following reasons
- Political Parties are substantially financed by the Central Government.
- Public Character: The criticality of the role being played by these Political Parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them.
- Elections are contested on party basis and Political Parties affect the lives of citizens, directly or indirectly and are continuously engaged in performing public duty.
However, political parties are reluctant come under RTI and have cited following reasons
- Political parties are not public authorities as they are not set up under the Constitution or any law enacted by Parliament – they can’t be treated as an institution or establishment.
- If political parties come under the RTI it will affect their smooth internal functioning.
- Political rivals will start using RTI tool with malicious intent.
- There are already provisions in the Income Tax Act, 1961, and Representation of the People Act, 1951, which demand necessary transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties. These mechanisms ensure transparency in financial dealings of parties.
- Information about a political body is already in the public domain on the website of the Election Commission.
Bringing political parties under RTI would help in following ways
- Internal democracy in political parties.
- Bring financial transparency given 75% of funds received by political parties today are from anonymous sources. This would help check corporate-politician nexus, role of black money and foreign influence.
- Check corruption and nepotism within the political parties.
- This will be in line with the recommendations of ECI and Law commission for bringing Transparency in the political parties.
- Informed citizen and thus better decision making by voter.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements with respect to ‘Central Information Commission (CIC)’
- It has been constituted under the Right to Information Act, 2005
- Chief Information Commissioner is appointed by the President of India
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is associated with
- European Union
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- None of the above
Q.3) Recently signed ‘Qingdao Declaration’ is associated with
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Q.4) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is associated with which of the following organisations?
- European Union
Q.5) ‘Right to information’ comes under which of the following Rights?
- Fundamental Right
- Legal Right
- Neither Fundamental nor Legal right
- Both fundamental and legal right
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