Polity & Governance
- AFSPA extended in Nagaland
- NITI Aayog Releases SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019
- Supreme Court rules flouted in demand for damages
Government Schemes & Policies
- Government launches web portal to block stolen, lost mobile phones
- Telangana Industrial Health Clinic to spread wings
Bilateral & International Relations
- Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan
Defence & Security Issues
- Outgoing Army Chief appointed as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff
Science & Technology
- National children’s science congress began
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Polity & Governance
AFSPA extended in Nagaland
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the entire State of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months, under the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without prior notice.
- Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), is an Act of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in disturbed areas.
- It was preceded by the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance 1958. The Ordinance gave the armed forces certain special powers in the ‘disturbed areas’ of Manipur and Assam.
- In the backdrop of the growing insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, the Central government issued a similar enactment known as the ‘’The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990.
Why is this required?
- The government (either the state or centre) considers those areas to be ‘disturbed’ ‘by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.’
Under which conditions AFSPA can be declared?
- When the local administration fails to deal with local issues and the police proves inefficient to cope with them.
- When the scale of unrest or instability in the state is too large for the police to handle.
Where it is applicable currently?
- Presently, AFSPA, 1958, is operational in the entire States of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (except Imphal Municipal area), three districts (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) of Arunachal Pradesh and the areas falling within the jurisdiction of 8 police stations in the districts of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam.
How does one officially declare a region to be ‘disturbed’?
- Section (3) of the AFSPA Act empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification on The Gazette of India, following which the centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
- It is still unclear whether the governor has to prompt the centre to send in the army or whether the centre on its own sends in troops.
- Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
What about the state government’s role?
- The state governments can suggest whether the Act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the Act, their opinion can still be overruled by the governor or the centre.
What are the special powers given to army officials under AFSPA Act?
- The authorised officer has the power to open fire at any individual even if it results in death if the individual violates laws which prohibit (a) the assembly of five or more persons; or (b) carrying of weapons. However, the officer has to give a warning before opening fire.
- The authorised officer has also been given the power to (a) arrest without a warrant; and (b) seize and search without any warrant any premise in order to make an arrest or recovery of hostages, arms and ammunitions.
Review of the Act:
- In November, 2004, the Central government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy to review the provisions of the act in the north eastern states.
- The committee submitted its report in 2005, which included the following recommendations: (a) AFSPA should be repealed and appropriate provisions should be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967; (b) The Unlawful Activities Act should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and paramilitary forces and (c) grievance cells should be set up in each district where the armed forces are deployed.
- The 5th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission on public order has also recommended the repeal of the AFSPA. These recommendations have not been implemented.
- This act has not been withdrawn despite a framework agreement being signed in August 2015 between Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM (National Socialist Council of Nagaland led by Isak Muivah) and the Union government.
- The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA in a 1998 judgement (Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights v. Union of India).
NITI Aayog Releases SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019
NITI Aayog released the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets.
About SDG India Index
- The SDG India Index has been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), United Nations in India, and Global Green Growth Institute.
- The SDG India Index 2019 tracks progress of all States and UTs based on 54 targets spread over 100 indicators (drawn from the MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework) out of 306 outlined by the UN.
- Based on the score, the States and UTs were classified into four categories: Achiever (100 score), Front Runner (between 65 to 100), Performer (between 50 to 65) and Aspirant (less than 50).
New improvements in 2019 Index compared to 2018 Index
The 2019 Index spans 16 out of 17 SDGs with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17. This marks an improvement over the 2018 Index, which covered only 13 goals.
Highlights of the SDG India Index 2019
Overall Top 3 ranks
2nd: Himachal Pradesh
3rd: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu
- India’s composite score in Index has improved from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019.
- The maximum gains been made in Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure) and 7 (affordable and clean energy).
- Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim have shown maximum improvement but states like Gujarat have not shown any progress since 2018 rankings.
- Bihar, Jharkhand, and Arunachal Pradesh are the worst performing
- Nutrition and gender gap continue to be problem areas for India, requiring more focussed approach from the government.
- Only three States were placed in the category of Front Runners (with a score in the range 65-99, including both) in 2018 – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. In 2019, five more States were placed in Front Runners: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Sikkim and Goa.
SDG that lowered the overall rank of India
- 2nd SDG (Zero hunger): High level of hunger, malnutrition, child stunting, obesity and anaemia, as well as low agricultural production.
- 5th SDG (Gender equality): A sex ratio of 896 females per 1000 males, a 17.5% female labour participation rate, and the fact that one in three women experience spousal violence all contribute to a low score countrywide.
Significance of SDG Index
- Help highlight crucial gaps related to monitoring SDGs and the need for improving statistical systems at the National/State/UT levels
- Supplements NITI Aayog’s efforts to encourage evidence-based policymaking by supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress.
Supreme Court rules flouted in demand for damages
The Uttar Pradesh government’s acceptance of ₹6.27 lakh from the Muslim community as “compensation” for damages caused to public property during anti-CAA protests lacks due process.
- The Supreme Court had suo motu laid down 10-point guidelines for assessment of damages and liability in its judgment in ‘Destruction of Public and Private Properties Vs State of A.P’ in 2009.
Key highlights of 10 point guidelines
- Wherever a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests or thereof, the High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation related thereto.
- Where there is more than one state involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court.
- In each case, the High Court/Supreme Court, appoint a sitting or retired High Court Judge or a sitting or retired District Judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages.
- An Assessor may be appointed to assist the Claims Commissioner.
- The Claims Commissioner and the Assessor may seek instructions from the High Court or Supreme Court, to summon the existing video or other recordings from private and public sources to pinpoint the damage and establish nexus with the perpetrators of the damage.
- The principles of absolute liability shall apply once the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established.
- The liability will be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as organisers of the event giving rise to the liability.
- Exemplary damages may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damages liable to be paid.
- Damages shall be assessed for damages to public property/private property, Causing injury or death to a person or persons; Cost of the actions by the authorities and police to take preventive and other actions.
- The Claims Commissioner will make a report to the High Court or Supreme Court which will determine the liability after hearing the parties.
Government Schemes & Policies
Government launches web portal to block stolen, lost mobile phones
The government has launched a web portal, ‘Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).
About Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)
- It is a web portal launched by The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to enable blocking as well as tracing of stolen or lost mobile phones in Delhi.
- Besides blocking of stolen or lost mobile phone, the launch of the project in Delhi will facilitate sharing of traceability data with the Police and allowing services to other existing customers having mobile phones with the same International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
What is IMEI number?
- International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique identifier for every mobile phone ever manufactured.
- It is a 15-digit number that is used to identify the device. It also reveals the manufacturer and model number.
Telangana Industrial Health Clinic to spread wings
The Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd (TIHCL), a one-of-its-kind initiative of the State government to handhold micro and small manufacturing enterprises from slipping into sickness, is ready to extend services beyond the boundaries of Telangana on demand.
- TIHCL has been managing with just one-tenth of the originally envisaged ₹100 crore corpus This decision makes it eligible for Central government funding.
- The proposed foray, however, would be subject to the State government giving an assurance of no intrusion either in the model of funding, offered to the micro and small enterprises, or governance.
- Another condition is that the Centre or the State government concerned ought to take care of the administrative, legal and consulting expenses.
About Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Limited
- Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Limited (TIHCL) is a first of its kind co-financing Non-bank financial institution (NBFC) for reviving micro and small manufacturing enterprises. It is promoted by State Government of Telangana.
- TIHCL has a corpus of Rs.100 Crores fund, with an initial contribution of Rs.10 cr from State Government of Telangana, a Rs.50 cr from Government of India and the rest through Equity holding.
Bilateral & International Relations
Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan
The Taliban’s ruling council agreed to a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the United States can be signed, officials from the insurgent group said.
- A cease-fire had been demanded by US before any peace agreement could be signed. A peace deal would allow the U.S. to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest.
- Afghanistan has been ravaged by war since 2001 when a US-led coalition overthrew the Taliban. The US had accused Taliban of harbouring Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks in the US.
- Since October 2018, Taliban representatives and US officials have been meeting in Doha, Qatar trying to sign a peace treaty.
- In 2018, Afghanistan war was the world’s deadliest conflict.
Demands of Afghan peace agreements
- Intra-Afghan talks (Direct negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict)
- Implementation of cease-fire between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s National Security Forces.
One of the core issues of a potential peace agreement is the freedom of speech, education and women’s rights that is practised in Afghanistan under its constitution. However, under the Taliban’s rule, such rights were suppressed. Afghan officials have called these rights should not be sacrificed in a peace agreement.[Ref: The Hindu]
Defence & Security Issues
Outgoing Army Chief appointed as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff
The outgoing Army chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, was appointed as the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a day before he was to step down on superannuation.
About Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)
- CDS is the most senior military officer and adviser to the President.
- He is a four-star General and function as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister and also act as the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).
- The CDS will head the new Department of Military Affairs in the Defence Ministry and function as a Secretary to Government.
- The CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council and Defence Planning Committee.
- The upper age limit for the CDS has been fixed at 65 years. However, the tenure of CDS has not been fixed.
- A single-point military advisorto the government on long-term defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy.
- Act as the military advisor to the Prime Ministeron nuclear issues.
Immediate tasks for the CDS
- Improving inter-services synergy and laying the road map for time-bound integration
- Attaining a seamless integration of the Ministry of Defence
- Assuming the operational responsibilities for all tri-service commands and agencies
- Steering the creation of integrated battle groups for various contingencies as a precursor to validating the concept of theatre commands.
- As part of higher level military reforms, a number of Committees, the Kargil Review Committee, Group of Ministers (GOM) Report, Task Force on National Security and Shekatkar Committee have recommended creation of the post of CDS.
- In 2012, the Naresh Chandra committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent COSC as a midway to remove fears over the CDS.
Who heads what department?
To know more about Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), refer IASToppers’ Mains Article here: https://www.iastoppers.com/chief-defence-staff-cds-can-act-catalyst-defence-reforms-mains-article/[Ref: The Hindu]
Science & Technology
National children’s science congress began
The Kerala will host the 27th National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC). The theme of this edition of science congress is ‘Science, Technology and Innovation for a clean, green and healthy nation’.
About National Children’s Science Congress
- National Children’s Science Congress at the district and state levels is the flagship programme of National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.
- It is a platform for children to carry out small research activities at micro-level.
- The primary objective is to make a forum for the children of 10-17 years’ age group, both from formal school system as well as from out of school, to show-case their creativity and their ability to solve a societal problem experienced locally using the method of science under the supervision of a Guide Teacher.
About National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC)
The NCSTC is mandated to communicate Science and Technology to masses, stimulate scientific and technological temper and coordinate and orchestrate such efforts throughout India.
Major programmes of NCSTC
- National Children’s Science Congress
- National Science Day (February 28)
- Mission eco NEXT – Initiatives 2019-20
- National Teachers’ Science Congress (NTSC)
- The UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is an award given by UNESCO for exceptional skill in presenting scientific ideas to lay people.
[Ref: Times of India]