Polity & Governance
- Motion of thanks to Presidential Address
- 100% use of VVPAT for Lok Sabha polls: EC
Government Schemes & Policies
- Arundhati Gold Scheme of Assam
- Ujjwala Utsav observed to celebrate the stellar role played by various stakeholders
Issues related to Health & Education
- Eradicating TB by 2025 in India a tough task: The Global Fund
- The Dard Aryans of Ladakh
- 2nd Phase of River Information System Between Farakka- Patna in Prayagraj
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Workshop on Global Environment Facility, UNDP Small Grants Programme (SGP)
Bilateral & International Relations
- Greece backs Macedonia’s NATO bid, completing name deal
Defence & Security Issues
- MHA bans J&K outfit Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen over terror
Key Facts for Prelims
- Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative
- LAIRCM Self-Protection Suites
- Parmanu Tech 2019
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Motion of thanks to Presidential Address
What is Motion of thanks?
- Under article 87 of the Constitution, the president addresses the joint sitting of both houses of the parliament at the commencement of the first session after every General Election and the first session of every fiscal year is called Motion of Thanks.
- This address is discussed by Rajya sabha and Lok sabha on a motion which is called Motion of thanks.
- The President reads the Address in Hindi or English. The other version of Address in English or Hindi, as the case may be, is read out by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- National anthem is played before and after the president’s address.
- Budget session, being the first Parliamentary session of the year, starts with the Presidential Address to a joint sitting of both houses in the iconic central hall of Parliament.
- President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in sabha.
- Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.
- A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.
Contents of the Address:
- The President’s Address is the statement of policy of the Government which contains a review of various activities and achievements of the Government during the previous year.
- Speech includes the programmes which Government wishes to pursue in future.
- The Address also indicates items of legislative business which are proposed to be brought during the sessions to be held in that year.
Session begun Without the President’s Address:
- The president’s Address has to be to both Houses of Parliament assembled together.
- If at the time of commencement of the first session of the year, Lok Sabha is not in existence and has been dissolved, Rajya Sabha can have its session without the President’s Address.
- This happened in 1977, during the dissolution of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha had its session in without the President’s Address.
Discussion on the Address by Motion of Thanks:
- The president’s address is followed by the motion of thanks which is moved in each house by a member (of Ruling party) and seconded by another member.
- Members who are to move and second the Motion are selected by the Prime Minister.
- The critical analysis on this motion last for three to four days in which opposition critically discusses the government’s policies and mission.
- The discussion may also be postponed in favour of an urgent Government Bill or other business.
- The time allotted by the House for discussion on the Motion of Thanks is distributed amongst various parties and groups in proportion to their strength in the House.
- At the end of the discussion, the Prime Minister replies to the debate.
- Thereafter, the amendments by opposition party are disposed and then the Motion of Thanks is put to vote in the House.
- If any of the amendments is accepted, then the Motion of Thanks is adopted in the amended form.
- A motion of thanks must be passed or else it is considering defeat of government and leads to collapse of government.
Amendment to the Motion of Thanks:
- Amendments may refer to matters contained in the President’s Address which, in the opinion of the members, the Address has failed to mention.
- Every year, a large number of amendments are moved by members of the opposition highlighting the issues.
- The lists of amendments are circulated to members in advance and amendments are moved in the House.
- The Motion of Thanks with an amendment was adopted for the first time in January 1980. In December 1989, the Motion of Thanks was adopted with six amendments. Again in March 2001, the Motion of Thanks was adopted with an amendment.
- In its entire history, the Rajya Sabha has only five times amended the Motion of Thanks to Presidential Address. Once each during the time of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, VP Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, in last three years alone, the Motion of Thanks to Presidential Address has been twice amended during Prime Minister Modi’s tenure.
- In the past, there have been only two instances when the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address was not passed.
- The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.
100% use of VVPAT for Lok Sabha polls: EC
The Election Commission recently informed the Madras High Court that it had made it clear way back in 2017 that there shall be 100% use of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system during the Lok Sabha election this year to gain voter confidence.
- In 2013, conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended to facilitate the introduction of VVPAT units. For the first time, VVPAT with EVMs was used for the Noksen Assembly seat in Tuensang district of Nagaland.
- In the case of Subramanian Swamy vs Election Commission of India (ECI), the Supreme Court held that VVPAT is “indispensable for free and fair elections” and directed the ECI to equip EVMs with VVPAT systems.
- The apex court had directed the EC to introduce EVMs in a phased manner for the next General Elections in 2014, saying it would ensure free and fair polls.
What is VVPAT?
- The VVPAT system is a new initiative of the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections.
- In the VVPAT system, when a voter presses the button for a candidate of his choice in the electronic voting machines (EVM), a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol will be printed for the voter.
- It is intended as an independent verification system for EVM designed to allow voters to verify that their votes are casted correctly, detect possible election fraud or malfunction and provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.
How do VVPAT machines work?
- When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT.
- The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate.
- It allows the voter to verify his/her choice. After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.
- VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.
- VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted for. The slip dropped in a box but the voter cannot take it home.
- VVPAT is independent verification printer machine attached to EVMs. It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate. Thus, ensure free and fair elections.
- SC also directed the Centre to provide financial assistance for introducing VVPAT system.
- It enables to verify vote. Instant feedback to voter that vote polled has been allocated to the intended candidate.
- It enables authorities to count the votes manually if there is a dispute in the electronically polled votes.
- It operates under a Direct Recording Election system (DRE) which detects fraud and existent malfunctions.
- It will ensure greater transparency in voting process.
- It gives both the voters and political parties an assurance.
Government Schemes & Policies
Arundhati Gold Scheme of Assam
The government of Assam has announced a new scheme called Arundhati to provide gold at free of cost to the brides.
Key features of the scheme:
- Under the scheme, the government of Assam aims to provide 1 Tola Gold to brides belonging to all such communities of Assam where it is customary to provide gold at the time of the wedding.
- The scheme is named after Arundhati, wife of great sage Basistha. The government has set aside Rs 300 cr has been for the implementation of the Arundhati Scheme.
- The benefit under Arundhati scheme can be availed upon formal registration of marriages under Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954.
- The scheme is limited for economically weaker sections, whose annual income is below Rs 5 lakh.
Eligibility Criteria for Scheme:
- For Assam Arundhati yojana girl’s age must be 18 year or above.
- The facility will be for economically weaker sections with an annual income of below ₹5 lakh.
Significance of the scheme:
- Gold forms an inherent part of Indian weddings. With the introduction of the Arundhati Scheme, the government wants to stand with those fathers who cannot afford to gift a set of gold ornaments to their daughters and would to resort to borrowings and put themselves in the vicious cycle of debt.
Ujjwala Utsav observed to celebrate the stellar role played by various stakeholders
The ‘Ujjwala Utsav’ was organized by the Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.
Highlights of Ujjwala Utsav:
- The event was organised under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.
- The PMUY anthem – Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala – composed by Padma Shri Kailash Kher was also launched during the celebration.
- During the occasion, the top three performers in three states which garnered the highest LPG penetration figures i.e. J&K, Chhattisgarh and Assam were acknowledged.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to provide clean fuel to women who are below poverty line (BPL).
Highlights of scheme:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by Prime Minister of India in May 2016.
- Under this scheme, 5 crore LPG connections will be provided to Below poverty line (BPL) families over a period of three years.
- Eligible households will receive a support of Rs. 1,600 and will be in the name of the female head of the entire household.
- Money that has been saved due to the ‘Give-it-up’ subsidy campaign will be used for this scheme.
Objectives of PMUY:
- Empowering women and protecting their health.
- Abate health issues that result from using fossil fuels
- Minimize fatalities which occur due to unclean fuels used for cooking
- Controlling respiratory issues that occur due to indoor pollution as a result of using fossil fuel
- Preventing the degradation of purity of environment compromised by usage of unclean cooking fuel.
Who are eligible?
- Only adult women with Below Poverty Line are eligible.
- Identification of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data.
Why consider LPG over other fuels?
- LPG is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value other commonly used fuels which means that an LPG flame burns hotter, an advantage that can translate into higher efficiency.
- It is a fuel that is available in even the remotest of areas providing a further impetus to regional development.
- It is a clean burning fuel that is low carbon, emits virtually no black carbon and does not spills.
- LPG can be accessible to everyone everywhere without major infrastructure investment.
- PMUY is likely to result in an additional employment of around 1 Lakh and provide business opportunity of at least Rs. 10,000 Cr. over the next 3 Years to the Indian Industry.
- Launch of this scheme will also provide a great boost to the ‘Make in India’ campaign as all the manufacturers of cylinders, gas stoves, regulators, and gas hose are domestic.
Issues related to Health & Education
Eradicating TB by 2025 in India a tough task: The Global Fund
According to Switzerland-based non-profit organization – ‘The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’, goal of Indian government to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025 is tough and very stretching.
- In March 2017, Prime Minister announced India’s target for complete elimination of TB by 2025, five years ahead of global target of 2030.
What is Elimination of TB?
- Elimination of TB will mean there should be less than one case of TB for a population of 10 lakhs by 2025, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Tuberculosis (TB) statistic of India:
- India currently has the world’s highest burden of TB, with 27 % of all global cases and over 30 % of all deaths worldwide.
- Without treatment, a person with active TB can spread the disease to as many as 15 others.
- TB notification in India has increased from 1.7 million in 2015 to 2.15 million in 2018.
- Although India accounts for 4 per cent of the estimated global malaria cases and 68 per cent of reported cases in South-East Asia, it has halved since 2000.
- One of the biggest challenges in the fight against TB are the 3.6 million “missing” people with active TB – people who are undiagnosed, unreported and untreated each year, contributing to ongoing transmission.
- Overcoming barriers to access to marginalised communities, especially to women in the remote areas, by leveraging the ‘Accredited Social Health Activist’ (ASHA) network and mobile clinics could help in the fight against the epidemics.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria:
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or simply the Global Fund) is an international financing organization that aims to invest additional resources to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
- It is the world’s largest financier of AIDS, TB, and malaria prevention, treatment, and care programs.
- The fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
- The organization maintains its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The Global Fund has been active since 2002 and have partnered with the Indian government in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria.
- For the 2017-2019-allocation period, the organisation has allocated the largest proportion of fund on TB.
- It is a financing mechanism rather than an implementing agency.
What is HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus)?
- HIV is a virus that damages the immune system.
- Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell. Over time, as HIV kills more CD4 cells, the body is more likely to get various types of infections and cancers.
- The virus doesn’t spread in air or water, or through casual contact.
- HIV is a lifelong condition and currently there is no cure, although many scientists are working to find one.
- However, Currently, the main treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy, a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing to some extent.
- HIV is found in semen, blood, vaginal, anal fluids and breastmilk.
- The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period.
What tests are used to diagnose HIV?
- Antibody/antigen tests
- Nucleic acid test (NAT)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may also be referred to as HIV disease or HIV infection.
- Serological tests, such as RDTs or enzyme immunoassays (EIAs), detect the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV-1/2 and/or HIV p24 antigen.
- No single HIV test can provide an HIV-positive diagnosis. It is important that these tests are used in combination and in a specific order.
- HIV/AIDS is a pandemic disease caused due to the infection of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If untreated, person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed.
- AIDS refers to set of symptoms and illnesses that occur at very final stage of HIV infection.
Common reasons for getting infected with AIDS:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Contaminated blood transfusions.
- Hypodermic needles.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
- Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV.
- The UNAIDS is a UN program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
- It seeks to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- It is established by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- Since its launch in 1996, UNAIDS has been providing the strategic direction, advocacy, coordination and technical support to deliver life-saving HIV services.
- Its flagship programme 90-90-90 aims for 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive antiretroviral therapy, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression all by 2020.
Steps taken by Indian authorities against HIV/AIDS:
National AIDS Control Programme IV
- The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), launched in 1992, is being implemented as a comprehensive programme for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India.
- NACP has been busy in raising awareness about behaviour change and increasing involvement of NGOs and networks of PLHIV.
- This initiative was started by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003 in order to work towards reducing HIV/AIDS cases in India
- The main objective of Avahan is to fill the void between existing initiatives and people who are suffering from this fatal disease.
- Their main target is high-risk populations — including female sex workers, their clients, same-sex relations between men, transgenders (known as hijras) and drug-injecting users.
National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO):
- NACO was set up by the government of India to introduce comprehensive strategies, and to realise the goal of HIV prevention and control among the high-risk populations.
The Dard Aryans of Ladakh
Members of the Dard Aryan tribe from Jammu & Kashmir’s Ladakh region attend a seminar that extensively discussed the need to preserve their legacy.
Who are Dard Aryans?
- Dard Aryan is a Scheduled Tribe from Jammu & Kashmir’s Ladakh region.
- On both sides of the Indus River, the villages of Dha, Hanu, Garkone and Darchik are situated far from 200 km from Leh. The villages are together called the “Aryan valley”. The word ‘Dard’ is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Daradas’, which means “people who live on hillsides”.
- People of this region are culturally and linguistically different from those in other parts of Ladakh.
- It is believed that the “Aryans of Ladakh” or the “Brokpas” might have descended from soldiers in Alexander’s army who had come to the region over 2,000 years ago.
They wear heavy fur costumes and flower bouquets on their heads.
- They rear goat and sheep for milk and meat.
- Their festivals are based on the solar calendar. They worship trees, rivers and mountains.
- These tribal are mainly dependent on agriculture.
- The community prohibits marriage with outsiders to keep the gene pool intact.
- The tribal perceive a threat to the heritage of the community owing to modernisation, migration and religious conversion as many of them have embraced Islam or Buddhism.
- As the Dard men have been migrating to other parts of the region (in search of livelihood) and marrying outside the tribe, these tribe is struggling to find a balance between modernity and traditional values.
- Development work in this region has been restricted after the Kargil War
- They have demanded that the government set up a tribal hostel and declare the “Aryan valley” a heritage village to boost tourism.
- There are only three high schools in their villages and very limited resources for livelihood.
- They have no option but to migrate to cities for higher education and employment.
- They have also asked for a Dardi post be filled at J K Art, Culture and Language Academy in Kargil. That will be a regional Study Centre for Dardi Tradition.
- Cluster Model Village at Garkon to boost the cultural heritage of the Dard Aryans.
- There are just 4,000 of them left in the world.
- The apricots grown here are considered among the best in the world and there are 12 varieties of grapes in the region.
- Grape-wine is very popular in the “Aryan valley”.
2nd Phase of River Information System Between Farakka- Patna in Prayagraj
To boost cargo movement on Ganga, the Phase 2 of the River Information System on National Waterway-1 (River Ganga) between Farakka and Patna in Prayagraj was inaugurated.
- The new arrangement of Navigation Lock at Farakka was also unveiled that would enable breeding of Hilsa fish in River Ganga and help preserve the river ecosystem.
What is River Information Services (RIS)?
- River Information Services (RIS) are modern traffic management systems enhancing a swift electronic data transfer between water and shore.
- It will help in crises management and enhanced inland navigation safety by preventing ship-to-ship collisions, ship – bridge collisions, groundings etc.
- This Services are a combination of sensors like Automated Identification system, Meteorological and Hydrological equipment and software related services designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.
- The service will immensely help in optimization of navigation and are being used in advanced waterways of Europe, China and U.S.A.
- The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information.
This would facilitate:
- Enhancement of inland navigation safety in ports and rivers.
- Better use of the inland waterways.
- Environmental protection.
RIS enables achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding the following risks:
- Ship- to – Ship collisions.
- Ship – Bridge collisions.
Hilsa Passage through Farakka Navigation Lock:
- Under Jal Marg Vikas Pariyojana, a new state of the art navigational Lock/Fish passage on NW-1 is being constructed at Farakka for the free movement of Hilsa fish.
- IWAI is implementing the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 on the Haldia – Varanasi stretch of Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System with the technical and financial support of the World Bank.
- After the construction of Farakka Navigation Lock in 1976, movement of Hilsa, which once reached up to Prayagraj also, was restricted up to Farakka only.
- IWAI has made a special arrangement to allow passage of the Hilsa fish – which has a significant cultural importance in West Bengal, besides being the national fish of Bangladesh.
- The time of opening the gates at the Lock will be based on the nature and time of movement of Hilsa fish, period of migration and breeding of species etc.
What is Fish pass?
- Fish pass/Fish way is a structure on or around artificial and natural barriers (such as dams, locks and waterfalls) to facilitate natural fish migration.
- Most fishways enable fish to pass around the barriers by swimming into the waters on the other side.
Why Fish passage are important?
- Fish needs need connections between and within waterways during various life stages to reproduce, feed, and contribute to their ecosystems by recycling the nutrients they take in.
- Other aquatic wildlife, like mussels, also depend on the ability to move from place to place in order to survive.
- When fish and other aquatic species can’t move, they could potentially be listed as a threatened or endangered species or, maybe even become extinct.
- An example is the Atlantic salmon. Once plentiful and found in every river north of the Hudson River, today less than 1% of population remains due to barriers.
- Barrier removal can also help manage flooding by allowing rivers to flow naturally which restores floodplains.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Managemen
Workshop on Global Environment Facility, UNDP Small Grants Programme (SGP)
A Workshop on ‘Global Environment Facility’ (GEF) implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Small Grants Programme, was inaugurated by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in implementing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and financed Small Grants Programme (SGP) in India since 1997.
Small Grants Programme (SGP):
- Established in 1992, the Small Grants Programme embodies the very essence of sustainable development.
- Small Grants Programme (UNDP/SGP), globally in 122 countries, is funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the corporate program of the GEF is executed by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), on behalf of the GEF partnership.
- The SGP has been working extensively in the areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change and land degradation.
Objectives of SGP:
- Develop community-level strategies that could reduce threats to the global environment.
- Gather lessons from community-level experience and initiate the sharing of successful community-level strategies and innovations.
- Build networks of stakeholders to support and strengthen community, NGO and national capacities.
How it functions?
- Through a decentralized, national-level delivery mechanism, SGP finances community-led initiatives to address global environmental issues.
- It is currently implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.
- The Programme funds grants up to a maximum of $50,000. In practice, the average grant has been around $25,000. In addition, the SGP provides a maximum of $150,000 for strategic projects. These larger projects allow for scaling up and cover a large number of communities within a critical landscape or seascape.
SGP in India:
- MoEFCC, GEF UNDP – SGP has been operational for over 25 years and is being implemented throughout India.
- As one of the upgraded SGP Country Programmes, SGP India has supported 112 community-based projects.
- SGP projects in India contributed and resulted in economic, social, and political benefits, access to credit including job creation and expanded local markets.
- Projects under the SGP are implemented through a National Host Institution (NHI) – Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and other NGO partners and stakeholders that has presence in different parts of India.
Key achievements of SGP India:
- Huge amount of land brought under sustainable land and resource management in the Western Ghats, Himalayan Front and Arid and Semi-Arid Regions via organic farming and community managed enterprises for non-timber forest products
- Improved agricultural, land and water management practices
- Promotion of sustainable income generation activities among the small farm holders
- CO2 emissions reduced through a range of alternative energy and energy efficient technologies which resulted in enhancing the livelihoods of poor.
Bilateral & International Relations
Greece backs Macedonia’s NATO bid, completing name deal
Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO.
- The signing of accession papers allows Macedonia take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee.
- To acquire full membership, all 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.
- The agreement last month with Greece to change the name of the former Yugoslav republic to the Republic of North Macedonia ended disputes and paved the way for Skopje (capital of North Macedonia) to join NATO and the European Union.
- NATO and the EU welcomed the move as bringing more stability to the Balkans, but the alliance’s expansion into the region has been opposed by Moscow.
- Macedonia’s moves to join NATO, following Montenegro’s admission in 2017, have ruffled feathers in the Russia.
- Along with all that Macedonia became the 30th alliance member of NATO.
- NATO and the EU believe Macedonia’s membership will enhance stability in the Balkans.
- Russia has raised concerns against Macedonia becoming part of NATO. Russia has always accused NATO of destabilising the Balkans by pushing Macedonia and Montenegro to join NATO.
- Russia sees Balkan nations as its sphere of influence and is against NATO or any other body led by US or EUmaking inroads to these Balkan countries.
- Russia is mainly concerned because NATO’s membership provides a guarantee of mutual defence, provides a welcome insurance policy against possible incursions. Russia perceives this as an attempt by the west to contain it by making inroads to the areas which Russia considers its sphere of influence.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries.
- The organization was founded on April 4th, 1949 in Washington, D.C., United States.
- Its headquarter is in Brussels, Belgium.
- NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
- There are 12 countries which are the founding members of NATO including United States of America, France, United Kingdom etc.
- NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
- NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.
About the Republic of North Macedonia:
- North Macedonia, officially the Republic of North Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.
- A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo[a] to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west.
- It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991 under the name Republic of Macedonia.
- The use of the name “Macedonia” was disputed between the Southeast European countries of Greece and North Macedonia because a region of Greece bordering the Macedonian republic is also called Macedonia.
- In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece resolved the conflict with an agreement that the country should rename itself to Republic of North Macedonia. This renaming came into effect in February 2019.
Defence & Security Issues
MHA bans J&K outfit Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen over terror
The Union Home Ministry banned the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for its alleged involvement in a series of terror acts.
- The central government believes that TuM is involved in terrorism as it has committed and participated in various acts of terrorism in India and its members are getting financial as well as logistic support from their handlers based abroad.
- The TuM came into existence in 1990 with the objective of “liberation of Kashmir”.
Evolution of UAPA:
- A Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation under the chairmanship of PM to look into the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. On recommendations of the Committee, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted to impose by parliament of India. The bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and received the assent of the President on 30th December 1967.
- The UAPA was introduced in 1967 as a legislation to set out reasonable restrictions on the fundamental freedoms under Article 19(1) of the the Constitution, such as freedom of speech, right to assemble peacefully and right to form associations. These restrictions were meant to be used to safeguard India’s integrity and sovereignty.
- Over the years, terror-specific legislations like Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) were repealed after running into legal trouble, and the UAPA became the primary anti-terror legislation in India. Since 2004, there have been a number of amendments to the UAPA to make it stricter when it comes to the rights of accused, and include more terror-related offences.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA):
- UAPA is an Indian law aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
- The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.
- There are 6 Amendments have been done to the Act. The last Amendment was enacted in 2012 after POTA was withdrawn by the Parliament.
Why are arrests under UAPA so problematic?
- The Act introduces a vague definition of terrorism to encompass a wide range of non-violent political activity, including political protest.
- The provisions of the UAPA have an extremely wide ambit, which makes it possible to use them against not just criminals and terrorists, but even authors, academics, lawyers for alleged terrorists, and human rights activists.
- It empowers the government to declare an organisation as ‘terrorist’ and ban it. Mere membership of such a proscribed organisation itself becomes a criminal offence.
- It allows detention without a chargesheet for up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days.
- It creates a strong presumption against bail and anticipatory bail is out of the question. It creates a presumption of guilt for terrorism offences merely based on the evidence allegedly seized.
- It authorises the creation of special courts, with wide discretion to hold in-camera proceedings (closed-door hearings) and use secret witnesses but contains no sunset clause and provisions for mandatory periodic review.
Key Facts for Prelims
Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative
- The US government has unveiled the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.
- It is a government wide project led by the senior adviser and daughter to President Donald Trump- Ivanka Trump.
- It is an effort aimed at helping 50 million women in the developing world get ahead economically over the next six years.
- The initiative will involve the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies.
- It aims to coordinate current programs and develop new ones to assist women in areas such as job training, financial support, and legal or regulatory reforms.
- It seeks to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025 through U.S. government activities, private-public partnerships, and a new, innovative fund at USAID.
LAIRCM Self-Protection Suites
What is LAIRCM?
- LAIRCM is a programme meant to protect large aircraft from man-portable missiles. It increases crew-warning time, decreases false alarm rates and automatically counters advanced infrared missile systems.
Significance of LAIRCM:
- These systems will protect two Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft. This would bring the security of Air India One at par with that of Air Force One, the aircraft used by the American President.
- It consists of missile warning sensors (MWS), a laser transmitter assembly, control interface unit (CIU) and processors to detect, track, jam and counter incoming infrared missiles.
Why in news?
- US has approved a foreign military sale to India — two 777 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self-Protection Suites (SPS), for an estimated $190 million.
Parmanu Tech 2019
- The ‘Parmanu Tech 2019’ conference was recently organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
- The conference discussed issues related to Nuclear Energy and Radiation Technologies.