1) NJAC – The flaws in Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Judgement :-
- In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s verdict that invalidated the 99th Constitution Amendment, rendering nugatory the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), a popular narrative has entered our conscience: that the commission is not a credible alternative to the Supreme Court’s ‘collegium.’.
- The verdict upholds an extra-constitutional forum, created by the Supreme Court’s own members to serve its own ends, in the place of a system lawfully enacted by a popularly elected Parliament.
- The judgment fails to adequately answer the fundamental question at the root of the controversy: how is judicial primacy in making appointments to the higher judiciary a part of our Constitution’s basic structure?
- Second Judges case :- the Constitution, in Articles 124 and 217, is crystal clear in its mandate. It accords to the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and to the various High Courts. In performing this function, the executive is required to compulsorily consult with certain persons. To make appointments to the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) must always be consulted. In elevating persons to a High Court’s bench, in addition to the CJI, the Chief Justice of that High Court and the Governor of the State concerned, acting through his or her Council of Ministers, must be mandatorily conferred with.In 1993, in a case commonly referred to as the Second Judges Case, the Supreme Court, sitting as a nine-judge bench, interpreted the word “consultation,” used in Articles 124 and 217, to mean concurrence. In making appointments to the higher judiciary, the Court held, the executive was bound by the advise of the CJI — who acted in concert with a group that also comprised his two (later four) senior-most colleagues, a body that we today call the “collegium.”
- During the Constituent Assembly (CA) debates, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer had warned against vesting untrammelled power in the judiciary, which, he believed, could engineer the creation of a super legislature. This is precisely the role that the Supreme Court performed in the Second Judges Case, by effectively rewriting the Constitution to create a self-serving body, usurping powers from both Parliament and the executive. Appointment is an executive function.
- The Contradiction with in:- Justice Khehar also fails to show us how the removal of judicial primacy in matter of judicial appointments impairs the Constitution’s basic structure. The learned judge relies on the decision in the Second Judges Case to tell us that the word “consultation” in Articles 124 and 217 means “concurrence.” If so ,then there is no need of primacy as ‘consultation’ means ‘concurrence’ and ‘one vote equals one value’, the whole argument of CJI primacy , make the the CJI , ‘Holier than Thou’ among its own member and self defeats the meaning of concurrence.
- Blindsiding its own precedence :- One of the contentious issue with the NJAC was the – The ability of the two ‘eminent persons’ to veto any appointment flowed not from the 99th Constitutional Amendment but the NJAC Act. Therefore, it defied logic to render the entire amendment invalid solely because of this provision .It defied the “Doctorine of severability”.
2) BRICS Signs MOSCOW DECLARATION :-
- BRICS countries- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed for co-investment of resources for supporting multilateral R&D Projects in mutually agreed areas. The Indian delegation led by the Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, signed a joint Declaration called Moscow Declaration to this effect, at the 3rd Meeting of BRICS Ministers for Science, Technology and Innovation held at Moscow on 28 October, 2015.
- This Declaration reflects BRICS partnership in addressing common global and regional socio-economic challenges, utilizing such drivers as science, technology and innovation (STI)
3) Buddhist Tourism Circuit – Commencement of Special Train
- The route is:- Delhi- GAYA-RAJGIR-NALANDA-VARANASI-KUSHINAGAR/LUMBINI-SRAVASTI-Agra-Delhi
Note 1- The news of commencement of train as such is not important for civil service aspirants, but Buddhist Circuit is of paramount importance.
Note 2-The funny part of this journey is you get to see Taj Mahal in Agra and how that is part of Buddhist Circuit, is probably a case for historians to answer, but for a traveler, it is probably an indispensable part of the journey , so it is a realistic promotion to keep Agra in the loop.
4) Third India-Africa Forum Summit, Summary on areas of cooperation :-
- General Areas of Co-operation:-
mutual understanding of cultures, traditions and heritage and bringing our people closer through exchanges at various levels
- Promote gender equality and empowerment of women
Encourage use of modern social networks to build communities of mutual interest.Linkages between academia, journalists, media entities and civil society will befurther encouraged inter-alia through the Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC) to document successful development interventions by civilsociety among communities in developing countries.
Promote good governance through the efficient use of emerging e-governance technologies.
Reaffirm our strong commitment to work together for a comprehensive Reform of the United Nations system, including its Security Council,to make it more regionally representative, democratic, accountable and effective.
ensuring free, fair and transparent parliamentary and electoral processes, such as training and capacity building in tandem with current international best practices
more liberal visa procedures and visa concessions to enhance tourism, trade and other people to people contacts
Support African Small Island States tackling the impact of climate change as well as their connectivity with mainland Africa
- Economic Co-operation:-
Africa-India trade has multiplied in the last 15 years and doubled in the last five years to reach nearly US$ 72 billion in 2014 -2015. There is growing investment byIndian companies, both multinational and SMEs, in Africa in a range of sectors.
Both sides recognize that India was among the first emerging economies to propose a duty -free market access scheme for LDCs(least developed countries) .
One of the most significant forms of Africa-India partnership has been the offer of concessional credit under the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme(IDEAS) for implementing a range of projects as per the economic and social priorities of African countries in areas where Indian companies have relevant expertise.
Enhance cooperation through training and collective negotiations on global trade issues, including at the WTO to protect and promote the legitimate interests ofdeveloping countries, especially the LDCs.
- Cooperation on Sustainable agriculture and ensuring Food security and access to market
- Cooperation on renewable energy sector and providing technical know-how
- Cooperation in Blue economy (Ocean)
Livelihoods of large sections of our peoples are dependent on Oceans which have emerged as the new frontier for the development of the peoples of Africa andIndia. The significance of Oceans for global or regional trade and its marine resources as a contributor to the economic prosperity of our people is evident
- Cooperation in Infrastructure and Skills Development
- Cooperation in Health
commitment to enhance collaboration and share experience in the application of advancement in science, technology, research and development totraining in the area of HIV, TB, Malaria, Ebola and Polio
- Cooperation in Peace and secuirty
Pursue cooperation on Maritime security issues through training, capacity building, sharing of information, surveillance and other measures in securing SeaLines of Communication, preventing transnational crimes of piracy, combating terrorism, illegal and unregulated fishing, trafficking of drugs, arms and humansthrough surveillance, and hydrography surveys.
5)China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)- Implication on India
- The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a ongoing development megaproject which aims to connect Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan to China’s northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang, via a network of highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas. The economic corridor is considered central to China–Pakistan relations and will run about 3,000 km from Gwadar to Kashgar. Overall construction costs are estimated at over $46 billion, with the entire project expected to be completed in several years.
- The deal includes a $44 million fibre optic cable and will add 10,400 Megawatts to Pakistan’s energy grid through coal, nuclear and renewable energy projects.Also included are major upgrades to Pakistan’s transport infrastructure, including:
Karakorum Highway (Havelian in the Abbottabad District to Thakot)
Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Multan to Sukkur)
The Gwadar Port East Bay Expressway Project
Gwadar International Airport
Strategic Implication on Geopolitik:-
- According to experts, the completion of Gwadar would make it the economic hub of Balochistan and create a strategic nexus between Pakistan, China and Central Asia, generating billions in revenue and providing shorter land routes.
- It would provide links from the Caspian Sea to the Strait of Hormuz, and enable Gwadar to compete with Persian Gulf ports. The United States, wary of Chinese strategic access to the Arabian Sea and its presence in the region, has reportedly tried several times to persuade Pakistan against involving China in the development.
- The subsequent “Karamay Declaration” of August 2015 defined Pakistan’s role in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. The nexus is nothing new but the motivation, significance and implications of CPEC needs careful analysis
- The Karakoram (land) with Gwadar (sea) alignment has both commercial and military significance to serve as strategic chokepoints vis-à-vis India.
- CPEC is suspected to be about offsetting the growing U.S.-India intimacy as also in China’s quid pro quo to counter India’s “Act East” policy
- It seems linked to preventing the Afghan-Pak area from potentially becoming a safe haven for Uighur militants once the U.S. troops leave Afghanistan. Beijing’s frantic initiatives for Afghan reconciliation talks explain that.
- Beijing seeks new opportunity to fill up gaps where India has largely failed. Considering PoK’s strategic location, it could have many ramifications for India. It is here that CPEC is linked to Pakistan’s recent attempts at manipulating the legal and demographic profile of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). Islamabad wants to make GB the fifth province of Pakistan. As speculations go Pakistan could lease additional areas in GB to China like the Shaksgam Valley that was surrendered in 1963. Opening a Chinese Consulate is also in the offing. This is too serious for India to ignore
Course Correction for India:-
- India should start placing Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) plus Ladakh (82 per cent of J&K) on the centre-stage as a keystone policy to blunt both the Kashmir rhetoric and CPEC. It is also time to start working on Pakistan’s domestic resistance i.e. in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.
- India should explore opportunistic aspects in the OBOR (One belt one road)especially for regaining access to the northern axis, prevented by loss of (Gilgit-Baltistan)to Pakistan.
- Further considering the region remains a critical focus of India’s threat perceptions, being on the road would be beneficial for tracking regional terrorism and developing capabilities to respond to future uncertainties Opting out is a diplomatic risk as Pakistan may exploit India’s absence. As in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Pakistan would be on the lookout to place India in the role of the spoiler within the SCO( Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)
- Clearly, Russia and others would want India in the OBOR as a counterweight to Chinese influence.
- Regardless of economic interests, India can’t ignore the symbolic significance as it was along the Silk Route that Indian trade and philosophy (Buddhism) once travelled to the rest of Asia.
- Just as India joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a wise approach would be to creatively join the Silk Route