GS III Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
Union Government extends AFSPA in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh
The Centre has decided to extend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh. It is being extended in the districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, all bordering Assam.
The three districts were declared as “disturbed area” under Section 3 of the AFSPA as “Naga underground factions including NSCN-IM and NSCN-K continue to indulge in extortion, area domination, recruitment of locals and inter-factional rivalry.”
The notification has been issued even after the government signed a ‘framework agreement’ with NSCN-IM in September 2015 to find a final solution to the six-decade-old Naga issue. However, the government defends its move by saying that the ceasefire signed with NSCN-IM is only for Nagaland. It does not include Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
What is AFSPA?
AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
Under this act, a member of the Indian armed forces cannot be prosecuted or tried in any criminal or civil court for any act committed by him or her while performing duty in a disturbed area. Moreover, no court or quasi-judicial body can question the government’s decision to declare any area disturbed.
It is in force in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area). In Arunachal Pradesh, only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam come under its purview. And in Meghalaya Afspa is confined to a 20-km area bordering Assam.
Why provisions of AFSPA are objectionable?
The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
Even a non-commissioned officer of the armed forces is free, on the mere suspicion of violation of the law or commission of an offence, to fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person.
Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.
No prosecution of anyone indulging in excesses purporting to act under AFSPA is possible except with the previous sanction of the Government.
What are ‘disturbed’ areas ?
The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.”
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
No change in our stand on India’s NSG entry bid: China
China has decided to once again block India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership ahead of plenary meet of NSG in Vienna, Austria. The development comes just days after India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, failed to reach a consensus on the issue.
What is China’s concern ?
China says that India’s membership and also of Pakistan will be considered only after rules for the entry of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) countries is finalised by the elite group.
It supports the notion of the two-step approach within the NSG to address the question of membership.
The first stage includes reaching agreement on a non-discriminatory formula applicable to all the non-NPT states and in second stage to take up country-specific membership issues.
China is using India’s membership bid as a bargaining card for its membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which has been blocked by Western countries over the concerns about China’s export control standards.
Even, China had supported Pakistan’s membership bid (applied May 2016) to counter India’s bid. However, many NSG members opposed Pakistan’s membership bid because of its poor track record.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
It was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s first successful nuclear tests (code name Smiling Buddha conducted on 18 May 1974) to stop so called misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes. Currently, it has 48 members.
What are benefits for India by joining NSG?
NSG membership will be a significant boost for India which is seeking to expand its atomic energy sector.
It will pave the way for India to access to the advance technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants.
With this advance technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment which will in turn boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India.
It will give big boost to Make in India programme and exports as India will have ability to offer its own nuclear power plants to the world.
It will make domestic nuclear industry companies comply with international norms and make it easier for them to trade in international market.
It will also help to realise India’s commitment to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce burden of oil and gas for energy security and to meet its commitment to tackle the issue of the climate change.
Besides, it will recognition to India’s clean record track record in nuclear non-proliferation without being signatory of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
‘Direction of supreme court to Keep birth database to curb female foeticide’
The Supreme Court has issued 16 directives to curb sex-selective abortion in the country. These directions aims to ensure immediate and effective implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and the Rules framed thereunder.
The Court, expressing concern over the worsening sex ratio in the country, has also said that any discrimination against women was “constitutionally impermissible”.
The court passed the verdict while disposing of a PIL by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab urging it to intervene in the matter in view of decreasing number of girls-boys ratio in the country.
All the States and the Union Territories in India shall maintain a centralised database of civil registration records from all registration units so that information can be made available from the website regarding the number of boys and girls being born.
The information that shall be displayed on the website shall contain birth information for each District, Municipality, Corporation or Gram Panchayat so that a visual comparison of boys and girls born can be immediately seen.
The states and UTs which do not have any incentive schemes for the girl child shall frame the same.
If there has been violation of any of the provisions of the Act or the Rules, proper action has to be taken by the authorities under the Act so that the legally inapposite acts are immediately curbed. The courts dealing with such complaints shall be fast tracked and the concerned High Courts shall issue appropriate directions.
Courts dealing with such complaints shall hear these matters in promptitude and submit the quarterly report to the High Courts through the concerned Sessions and District Judge.
The Chief Justices of all the High Courts should constitute a Committee of three judges to periodically oversee the progress of these cases.
The judicial officers who are to deal with these cases under the Act shall be periodically imparted training in the Judicial Academies or Training Institutes, as the case may be, so that they can be sensitive and develop the requisite sensitivity as projected in the objects and reasons of the Act and its various provisions and in view of the need of the society.
The court has also directed the authorities concerned to carry out awareness campaigns on this issue and asked the State Legal Services Authorities to give emphasis on these campaigns.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Union Cabinet approves India-Japan MoU for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
The MoU will be signed between Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The prime objective of the MoU is for the advancement of academic research in the field of Earth Sciences for the benefit of the peace and human welfare.
It will help to enhance needed exposure and hands-on experience to Indian scientists in the field of atmospheric and climate research, ocean technology observation and hazard mitigation.
The cooperation between both countries under this MoU will be pursued primarily through joint survey, exchange of scientific visits, cruise and R&D activities, joint scientific seminars, workshops and meetings or exchange of information and data.
Important facts for prelims
India’s first LNG-powered bus rolled out in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
The LNG-driven bus was rolled out as part of the Centre’s plans to use LNG. Thus, it opens new chapter in the country’s transport sector which moves towards clean fuel. The project has been a joint effort of Petronet LNG Limited (PLL), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOL) and Tata Motors Ltd.
As it is a pilot project, the LNG-driven bus will run on a trial basis and later after certification it will be launched for commercial application.
Benefits of LNG
LNG is considered to be a cleaner and safer fuel which emits 50% less carbon, for mass transportation.
It eco-friendly and more economical compared to diesel for public transportation.
Scientists discover water on metallic asteroid Psyche
Scientists have detected the presence of water on Psyche, the largest metallic asteroid in our solar system. It was detected based on the new observations from the NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii. The telescope observations show evidence of water or hydroxyl on its surface.
The source of these hydroxyl or water molecules on Psyche remains a mystery. Researchers believe that Water-rich minerals detected on Psyche may have been delivered by carbonaceous asteroids that might have impacted it in the distant past.
Based on the previous observations of Psyche, it was believed that the asteroid did not have water-rich minerals on its surface.
About Psyche Asteroid
Psyche is made of almost pure nickel-iron metal and is about 300 kilometres across. It is located in the asteroid belt. It is considered as the remnant core of a budding planet that was mostly destroyed by impacts billions of years ago.
NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF):
It is a 3-meter telescope optimized for use in infrared astronomy. It is located at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.