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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 28th February 2019

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  • March 1, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 28th February 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


IAF’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman held captive by Pakistan Army

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International relations; India and its neighbour relations

In news:

  • IAF plane was shot down and pilot has been held captive by Pakistan Army.
  • India has demanded that the pilot be treated in accordance to Geneva Convention of 1929.

Do you know?

  • The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols sets out how soldiers and civilians should be treated during armed conflict.
  • The Geneva Conventions is a body of Public International Law, also known as the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts, whose purpose is to provide minimum protections, standards of humane treatment, and fundamental guarantees of respect to individuals who become victims of armed conflicts.

Important Value Additions:

About the Geneva Conventions

  • Adopted first in 1864 for the “Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field,” the Geneva Conventions, understood in the present form, evolved through centuries as an agreement that extensively defines the basic rights of the civilian and military personnel imprisoned during the time of a war.
  • The first Geneva Convention came about due to the efforts of Swiss businessman and founder of the Red Cross society Henry Dunant after he published a book proposing the establishment of an organisation for relief work and humanitarian aid in wartime.
  • Thereafter, up to 1949, the conventions were updated several times. At present, the conventions comprise four treaties that mark out the benchmark of international law for humanitarian treatment in the event of a war and a total of 196 countries have ratified it.

Prisoners of War (POWs)

  • The rules protecting prisoners of war (POWs) are specific. They were first detailed in the 1929 Geneva Convention and later amended in the third 1949 Geneva Convention following the lessons of World War II.

Note: But since India and Pakistan have not declared a state of war against each other, pilot Abhinandan cannot be considered a POW.

Geneva protocols

  1. Protocol 1 expands protection for the civilian population as well as military and civilian medical workers in international armed conflicts.
  2. Protocol 2 elaborates on protections for victims caught up in high-intensity internal conflicts such as civil wars. It does not apply to internal disturbances such as riots, demonstrations and isolated acts of violence.
  3. Protocol 3 provides for another distinctive emblem: the red crystal. The red crystal is an optional emblem, equal in status to the red cross and red crescent.

The four Geneva Conventions

  1. Convention 1: This convention protects wounded and infirm soldiers and ensures humane treatment without discrimination founded on race, color, sex, religion or faith, birth or wealth, etc. The convention prohibits torture, assaults upon personal dignity, and execution without judgment. It also grants the right to proper medical treatment and care.
  2. Convention 2: This agreement extended the protections described in the first convention to shipwrecked soldiers and other naval forces, including special protections afforded to hospital ships.
  3. Convention 3: this defined ‘Prisoner of War,’ and accorded such prisoners proper and humane treatment as specified by the first convention. Specifically, it required POWs to give only their names, ranks, and serial numbers to their captors. Nations party to the convention may not use torture to extract information from POWs.
  4. Convention 4: Under this convention, civilians are afforded the same protections from inhumane treatment and attack afforded to sick and wounded soldiers in the first convention.

Applicability of the Geneva Conventions

  • The conventions apply to all cases of declared war between signatory nations.
  • The conventions apply to all cases of armed conflict between two or more signatory nations, even in the absence of a declaration of war.
  • The conventions apply to a signatory nation even if the opposing nation is not a signatory, but only if the opposing nation ‘accepts and applies the provisions’ of the conventions.

Andhra Pradesh gets new South Coast Railway zone

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Infrastructure; Railways

In news:

  • The Centre announced the creation of a separate railway zone in Andhra Pradesh
  • The new zone, South Coast Railway (SCoR), would comprise the existing Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions. Additionally, the Waltair division would be bifurcated.

Pic: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/article22724846.ece/ALTERNATES/FREE_960/12hy%20railway%20zonecol

Do you know?

  • A separate railway zone was one of the key promises made to Andhra Pradesh in the bifurcation act.
  • As per item 8 of Schedule 13 (Infrastructure) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Indian Railways was required to examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The matter has been examined in detail in consultation with stakeholders and it has been decided to go ahead with creation of a new zone with headquarters at Visakhapatnam.
  • At present, South Central Railway has six divisions — Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntakal, Guntur and Nanded. With the formation of a new zone, the SCR would comprise Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions.

42 cancer drugs brought under price control

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Government polciies and schemes

In news:

  • The government has brought 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, capping trade margin at 30%, which would reduce their retail prices by up to 85%.
  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control.
  • As per data available with NPPA, the MRP for 105 brands will be reduced up to 85%, entailing minimum savings of ₹105 crore to consumers.
  • Currently, 57 anti-cancer drugs are under price control as scheduled formulations.
  • Now, 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer medicines have been selected for price regulation by restricting trade margin on the selling price (MRP) up to 30%, the notification said.

Govt. detects ₹20,000 cr. GST evasion, ₹10,000 cr. Recovered

Part of: GS Paper II – Economic Development

In news:

  • The government has detected ₹20,000 crore worth GST evasion so far this fiscal and will take more steps to check frauds and increase compliance.
  • GST evasion worth ₹20,000 crore had been detected, of which ₹10,000 crore was recovered.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL/SECURITY ISSUE

TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests ; 
  • India and the World ; India and its neighbourhood- relations. 
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • Role of external state and nonstate actors in creating challenges to internal security
  • Security challenges and their management

India-Pakistan: Time to reset our relations

Introduction:

  • India made its point loud and clear, locally and globally, by striking against terror and then rebuffing an adventurous attack.
  • After the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) precision strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp at Balakot, an impetuous Pakistan retaliated the following day, but was quickly prevented or thwarted.
  • Pakistan claimed an Indian MiG fighter was shot down and its pilot captured; India said a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was destroyed.

Undoubtedly, it’s a war-type situation, with nobody likely to understand after much thought what’s next.

Why both the countries should avoid such war-type situation?

  • As Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu said: Battles are won before they are fought. For, they are fought in the meadows of the mind or at the desks of diplomacy. And talking wins the day.
  • Reaction from most countries has centred around the customary call to the parties concerned to engage in talks and sort out matters peacefully. China too has called for restraint. So have been the Saudis.
  • Pakistan’s economy in distress – According to a UN report, Pakistan’s economy is projected to slow down markedly in 2019 and 2020 to below 4%, after an estimated expansion of 5.4% in 2018. With its economy in distress, Pakistan should realize its days of conducting low-intensity terror campaigns are over. They can’t afford the costs for running such proxy wars, when Pakistan is currently seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

De-escalation is the solution

  • A quick release of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman captured by Pakistan and handing over Masood Azhar may just be the perfect way for Pakistan to de-escalate matters.
  • Clearly, the battle needs to shift to the theatre of negotiation.
  • India should set the agenda by fetching Pakistan to the table, influencing Pakistan’s allies, and playing the role of a regional power that seeks mutually beneficial solutions.

Conclusion:

  • Terrorism is not a problem that can be solved by eliminating a few individuals in terrorist camps. Terrorism is a complex social behavioural problem.
  • The decision of becoming a terrorist results from the interplay of contexts and influences of narratives sold to these sensitive social groups at the bottom of the pyramid, which gradually converts an otherwise normal person into a destructive one.
  • Terrorism has different stages, much like a building having various floors. The largest number of people are on the ground floor.
  • India should focus on a different type of a surgical strike; it’s a strike that could push Pakistan out of its terror past and military dependency. It won’t come soon, but it’s worth a start.

Connecting the dots:

  • Terrorism cannot be stopped by attacking terror camps; it requires a deeper understanding of vulnerable social groups. Substantiate.
  • Essay: “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”

WELFARE/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • Rights and Welfare of STs, SCs, and OBCs – Schemes & their Performance, Mechanisms, Laws Institutions and Bodies

Supreme Court suspends order evicting forest dwellers

Context:

  • The recent Supreme Court judgment on the eviction of forest dwellers (especially STs and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers) had evoked much ire and anxiety.
  • The apex court’s order would displace more than a million people from their homes in the forests.
  • Many had raised the questions on the responsibility of the apex court in upholding constitutional claims and equal citizenship as this order negates the claims of citizen under special protection of the Constitution.
  • The Centre and the Gujarat government had moved petitions in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on its order.

Do you know?

  • The Parliament had passed the Forest Rights Act in 2006. This law gave back to traditional forest dwellers their rights to access, manage and govern forest lands and resources within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department since colonial times.
  • The law made the gram sabha the statutory body for managing forestlands, and protecting them. It provides that no activity should be carried out in these forests until individual and community claims over them have been settled.
  • A 2014 report of a high-level committee on socio-economic, health and educational status of tribal communities in India (Virginius Xaxa Committee) noted that – “Gram sabhas were rejecting claims of forest-dwellers without assigning reasons”.
  • The report had pointed out that the rejections are not being communicated to the claimants, and their right to appeal is not being explained to them nor its exercise facilitated.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/02/28/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_07/eb26a389_2764279_101_mr.jpg

Now in news:

  • Supreme Court put on hold its recent order asking states to evict forest-dwellers whose claims on land had been rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. The court’s decision to review its earlier verdict is welcome.
  • The apex court acknowledged the need to ask whether due processes were followed by gram sabhas and state authorities before the claims for forest rights were rejected.
  • State governments must now take the cue and ensure that due processes are followed in deciding — or rejecting — FRA claims.
  • The forest land claims of these tribes and forest dwellers, who live off the forest, are mostly rejected by the States. Being poor and illiterate people who live in remote areas, they do not know the appropriate procedure for filing claims, the government submitted.
  • The gram sabhas, which initiate the verification of their claims, are low on awareness about how to deal with these claims and rejection orders are not even communicated to the forest-dwelling STs and communities.
  • There is a need for awareness and sensitisation of field staff about the symbiotic relationship of forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers with forests and forest ecosystems.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyze the recent Supreme Court order directed various state governments to initiate the process of eviction of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) from forestland.
  • Essay: The strength of India’s democracy is that it recognises the pluralism of Indian society.

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