Brief of newspaper articles for the day bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation
- GS PAPER 2
- GS PAPER 3
GS PAPER 2
India signs five agreements with Tanzania
India and Tanzania have signed 5 agreements whereby India has agreed to support the developmental needs of resource-rich Tanzania.
- One of the most important agreements which was signed was that India would provide $92 million Line of Credit to improve Zanzibars water supply system.
- Other agreements include MoUs on water resource management, vocational training centres, visa waiver for diplomatic/official passport holders and an agreement to improve small scale industries in Tanzania.
- Apart from the agreements both the nations have also agreed to deepen their defense ties.
- Both the India and Tanzania are willing to work closely on combating the twin threat of terrorism and climate change
Uniform civil code: One nation, one law
The central government has recently asked the law commission to study the feasibility of implementing Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Thus, a lot of opinions have started coming in on the same.
- The need of having a uniform civil code has been voiced right since the time when constituent assembly was deciding upon the constitution.
- However, many felt that one nation one law must be implemented in stages and hence it was kept as a Directive Principle of State Policy.
- Support for UCC has often come from women based groups- who have been facing problems due to personal and religious laws skewed in favour of men- and some right winged parties.
- Over the years no matter which party has been in power, it has always been lax in going along with the UCC. But can UCC be brought in now?
Issues in bringing out UCC
- Bringing UCC at the time when the Muslims are already complaining about their problem which are growing day by day will be troublesome. Already a lot of events like beef controversy, love jihad, saffronization of schools and colleges have lowered the moral of the minority group. In such a time even a well intentioned move of UCC might seem majoritarian.
- Everybody talks about UCC but there is no clarity on what the UCC would be. How would the interest of everybody esp. the various religious communities be taken care by it. How will the existing laws be tweaked to be in line with UCC?
Many who favour against UCC put a reasoning that anyways the courts uphold secular laws and not personal laws when approached, so why have a UCC in place? However, one must understand that it is a case by case approach and. Not all the people and women have access to courts and lawyers, thus, a uniform UCC becomes the need.
No doubt, a UCC will bring homogeneity and put an end to practices such as triple talaq which are an attack on women’s dignity and independence, yet care has to be taken to make sure that it is brought out at the right time and with consensus.
Ending impunity under AFSPA
- Demand for the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
- Refer to the earlier article, SC ends impunity for armed forces in disturbed areas
- The court said that the provisions of the AFSPA and the purported immunity it offers to the use of force “even to the extent of causing death” are not invincible.
- Such legal protection, especially in a State (Manipur) that has been under AFSPA for nearly 60 years, has to yield to larger principles of human rights, and no allegation of the use of excessive or retaliatory force can be ignored without a thorough inquiry.
- This is a requirement both of democracy and for the preservation of the rule of law.
Case for repeal of AFSPA
- There is near-total absence of any inquiry in such cases.
- In most cases, not even a first information report has been registered, and in some, the cases are against the victims.
- The court has acknowledged that additional powers have been given to the armed forces to deal with terrorism effectively.
- However, it also made clear that this cannot be an excuse for extrajudicial killings — whenever such allegations surface, they have to be investigated, regardless of whether the person concerned is a dreaded criminal, terrorist or insurgent.
- The occasion calls for an investigation into allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, especially those already documented or partially probed.
- It must give momentum to the demand for the repeal of AFSPA as a necessary step to end impunity.
Storm in the South China Sea
- The International Court of Arbitration is set to give its ruling on the South China Sea disputes on July 12 amid strong opposition from China.
- The case filed by the Philippines at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at The Hague in 2013 seeks to counter the Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
- There are no easy answers to the South China Sea disputes.
- At the same time, it is well understood by the parties concerned as well as the international community that the disputes need to be resolved.
- Because of the capital spent on island-building works by individual countries on the one hand and the sea’s rich natural resources and annual revenues generated from the sea routes on the other, none of the disputing parties is likely to sacrifice or surrender its claims easily.
Divide and Expand
- Over the years, the position of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea disputes has been weak.
- At times, the organisation has been unable to formulate a consensus policy.
- This is partly due to the fact that not all 10 ASEAN members are claimants to the South China Sea. Another reason is that members of ASEAN have overlapping claims among themselves.
- Because of its economic and military power, China has been able to win over some ASEAN members.
- The pace and scale of China’s island-building works have dwarfed the presence of other countries that engage in similar activities, and is beginning to take on a more overtly strategic character, which includes the construction of runways and port facilities.
Dynamics within ASEAN
- There is no single country in ASEAN party to the South China Sea disputes that is capable of challenging China individually.
- This is an important reason why ASEAN has welcomed the role of the United States as a power balancer on the issue.
- While China insists on talks among the parties concerned, the claimants in ASEAN want to pursue it through multilateralism or the Court of Arbitration.
- The existence of two diametrically opposing approaches is a major challenge for bringing a mutually acceptable solution to the South China Sea disputes.
- One possible peaceful solution would be for all claimants to limit their claim to the areas of 200 nautical miles of the Exclusive Economic Zone in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). By agreeing to such proposal, the parties to the dispute can also reach an agreement to leave international waters for free navigation.
- The parties concerned can establish a common ownership of the disputed areas whereby all the revenues from the South China Sea are equitably shared among the littoral countries.
- Disputing countries can specifically lay out their claims and allow a neutral party to adjudicate on the basis of the UNCLOS or any other relevant international laws.
- To resolve the disputes peacefully, the claimants should be willing to abandon their confrontational attitude and agree to find some common grounds even if this requires sacrificing certain portions of their claims.
More of the same
- Critical analysis of the Namami Gange programme
Namami Gange is an improvement over Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in several aspects
- It has projects to develop interceptor drains, plant trees and improve the river species composition.
- There are also plans to develop Ganga Grams — villages where people will be educated in reducing pollution. The GAP had none of these.
But, the government has not learned lessons from the GAP’s failure as far as sewage treatment plants are concerned
- Namami Gange lays much store on improving the sewerage infrastructure by constructing new sewage treatment plants (STPs) and improving the older ones.
- The lag between sewage generation and treatment has remained between 55 per cent and 60 per cent even as new sewage treatment plants were built under the GAP.
- This is because a lot of the waste is generated outside the sewerage network and is not conveyed to the STPs.
- A large section of the country’s urban population lives outside this network.
- The water treated at the STPs undergoes final cleansing at the river.
- For cleansing, a river must have sufficient water.
- But with more than 40 dams, barrages and weirs — and many more planned — aviral Ganga seems nothing more than an empty catchphrase.
- Ganga is the sum total of the contribution of some 12 major tributaries.
- Without a rejuvenation strategy for each of Ganga’s tributaries, there can be no Ganga rejuvenation.
GS PAPER 3
Govt. to announce recapitalisation of public sector banks
Government is all set to announce the the first set of money infusion into Public Sector Banks (PSBs) as a move towards their recapitalisation.
- Rs. 2500 crore will be infused in PSBs for the financial year 2016-17.
- This infusion of money is likely to boost the lendings by PSBs which they have restricted due to piling of bad loans and weak capital base.
- The NPAs of PSBs have been continuously on the rise since 2012 which has severely affected their lending capabilities and impaired their assets.
- This infusion was requested by banks after the 4th quarter result showed rising cumulative losses.
This move toward recapitalisation will bring some respite to PSBs and will probably be helpful in further increasing the lending capacities of the banks
India to seek help for services pact at UN
Ahead of UnIted Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting at Nairobi, India is looking for support of its proposal on a global pact to expedite service trade flow.
- This pact has an objective of making cross-border movement easier for skilled workers and service professionals for short-term projects.
- In WTO, This proposal will be known as ‘Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for services”. It would have an objective of streamlining the trade in services.
- This TFA in services will have similar motive like TFA in goods which broadly aims at increasing the global merchandise trade.
- UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.
- The organization’s goals are to: “maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.
- Nairobi meeting will be its 14th quadrennial ministerial conference.
- The ‘Ministerial Conference’ is UNCTAD’s highest decision-making body, and is held every four years ever since UNCTAD was set up in 1964.
Russia offers firms stake in Yamal project
Indian oil companies have been offered a stake by Russia in Yamal LNG, the biggest project to produce Liquefied natural gas in Arctic.
This is the 2nd phase of the project.
- An offer was also made in the first phase wherein Novatek OSJC offered a 9% stake in Yamal LNJ to a consortium of Indian companies: Petronet, IOC and ONGC Videsh Ltd. But the consortium did not take it up
- As of now, Petronet is studying the offer made and later on IOC may join.
- OVL is interested in the upstream part of the project which pertains to gas field development