India Pakistan Ceasefire Agreement 

#GS2 #GS3 #InternationalRelations #Security

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday welcomed the ceasefire agreement with India, but said the onus of creating an “enabling environment” for further progress in bilateral relations rests with New Delhi.

The interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace 

  • In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence. 
  • They would use existing mechanisms of hotlines and flag meetings to resolve any “misunderstandings”. 
  • As per the existing mechanism, there is a discussion by officials from the Military Operations directorate every Tuesday but the DGMOs speak only when one side requests for a conversation. 
  • However, there would be “no let-up” in counter-terror operations as a result of the agreement, adding that the agreement with Pakistan was “an attempt to bring violence levels down”, but the Army retained the “right to respond” in case there is a terror attack in the future. 

India Pakistan Ceasefire Agreement 

  • The 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan came just four years after the Kargil war, and soon after both the countries almost went to war following the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. 
  • Pakistan Prime Minister announced a unilateral ceasefire on the Line of Control. 
  • India accepted Pakistan's offer and suggested including the Siachen heights. 
  • The ceasefire was eventually extended to the International Boundary. 
  • It had resulted in a dramatic drop in military casualties, and thousands of border residents had been able to return home from temporary shelters on both sides. 

Current  scenario 

  • The recent casualties are an extension of what has been unfolding along the International Boundary as well as the Line of Control for the past several months. 
  • The two countries are caught in a spiral of almost daily exchanges of fire along the border. 
  • 2017 has turned out to be the worst year since the commencement of the agreement, with at least 860 incidents of ceasefire violations recorded on the LoC alone. 
  • So there is a danger of political rhetoric acquiring its own momentum. 
  • January 2018 recorded the highest number of ceasefire violations in a month since 2003.
  • Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their border homes. 

What is LoC?

  • Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was redesignated as the “Line of Control” following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972.
  • The part of Jammu that is under Indian control is known as the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani-controlled part is divided into Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan. The northernmost point of the Line of Control is known as NJ9842.
  • The Line of Control divided Kashmir into two parts and closed the Jehlum valley route.

 

 

Contempt of Court

#GS2 #Constitution #Polity #Governance

Attorney-General K.K.Venugopal has refused to give consent to an activist to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for his comments about the Supreme Court.

Section 15 in the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971

Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases: 

In the case of criminal contempt, other than a contempt referred to in section 14, the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by - (in case of the Supreme Court)

  1. the Attorney General/Solicitor General or
  2. any other person, with the consent in writing to the Attorney General/Solicitor General

Contempt of Court

  • Contempt of Court refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court.
  • The objective for contempt is stated to be to safeguard the interests of the public if the authority of the Court is denigrated and public confidence in the administration of justice is weakened or eroded.
  • The Supreme Court and High Courts derive their contempt powers from the Constitution.
  • The Contempt of Court Act, 1971, outlines the procedure in relation to investigation and punishment for contempt.
  • The Act divides contempt into civil and criminal contempt.
    • Civil contempt refers to the willful disobedience of an order of any court.
    • Criminal contempt includes any act or publication which:
      1. Scandalises the court,
      2. Prejudices any judicial proceeding
      3. Interferes with the administration of justice in any other manner.
  • ‘Scandalising the Court’ broadly refers to statements or publications which have the effect of undermining public confidence in the judiciary.

Constitutional Background

  • Article 129: Grants Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
  • Article 142(2): Enables the Supreme Court to investigate and punish any person for its contempt.
  • Article 215: Grants every High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.

Issues with Contempt Law

  • Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution gives the right to freedom of speech and expression to all citizens, while “contempt provisions” curb people’s freedom to speak against the court’s functioning.
  • The law is very subjective which might be used by the judiciary arbitrarily to suppress their criticism by the public.

 

 

Snow Leopard

#GS1 #GS3 #FloraandFauna #Environment #Ecology

Himachal Pradesh’s high-altitude hilly terrain could be harbouring as many as 73 snow leopards (Panthera uncia), says a recent study based on a scientific enumeration of the elusive animal.

Snow Leopard

  • Snow Leopard, often described as the Ghost of the mountains indicates the health of the mountain ecosystem as they are apex predators here. 
  • Their habitat includes high-altitude mountains of Central and Southern Asia with extreme cold climate.
  • In India, they thrive in the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape. They are found in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • India has a presence of 5 big cats: Snow Leopard, Lion, Tiger, Common Leopard, and Clouded Leopard.
  • Hemis, Ladakh is called as Snow Leopard capital of the world. Hemis National Park is the biggest national park in India and also has a good presence of Snow Leopard.

Challenges:

  • Factors that have contributed to the decline in the snow leopard populations include, reduction in prey populations, illegal poaching, and increased human population infiltration into the species habitat and illegal trade of wildlife parts and products among others.

Initiatives
 

  • IUCN Red List- Vulnerable
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)- Appendix I
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)- Appendix I
    • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction.
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972- Schedule I
    • Schedule I provides absolute protection and offences under this have the highest penalties.

Conservation Efforts Launched by India:

  • HimalSanrakshak: It is a community volunteer program, to protect snow leopards, launched on 23rd October 2020.
  • In 2019, First National Protocol was also launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem.
    • This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
  • Snow Leopard is on the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery program of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • Snow Leopard conservation breeding program is undertaken at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling, West Bengal.

 

 

India - Bangladesh

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

  • The Home Secretaries of India and Bangladesh met virtually on Saturday and discussed early completion of pending fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border as agreed to by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, a statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said.
  • The 19th Home Secretary-level talks between India and Bangladesh were held in the backdrop of ‘Mujib Barsho’ and 50 years since the Bangladesh Liberation War.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Bangladesh was led by Mostafa Kamal Uddin, Senior Secretary, Public Security Division.

Click here to read more on India-Bangladesh relations 

 

 

Syrian Crisis

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

President Joe Biden said on Friday that a U.S. airstrike against an Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria, the first since he took office, should be seen by Iran as a warning.

Infographic: The Current Situation in Syria | Statista

Arab Spring and the Syrian Crisis

  • Arab Spring
    • The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Bahrain.
    • The Arab Spring began in December 2010 when Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the arbitrary seizing of his vegetable stands by police over failure to obtain a permit.
  • Syrian Crisis
    • In 2011, successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt gave hope to Syrian pro-democracy activists.
    • The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more.
    • In July 2011, defectors from the military announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army(FSA), a rebel group aiming to overthrow the government, and Syria began to slide into civil war.
    • Foreign backing and open intervention have played a large role in Syria's civil war. Russia entered the conflict in 2015 and has been the Syrian government's main ally since then.
    • In September 2015, Russia launched a bombing campaign against what is referred to as "terrorist groups" in Syria, which included ISIS as well as FSA backed by the USA.
    • Due to this Syrian civil war has turned into a regional proxy war.
      • Syria + Iran + Russia vs Saudi Arabia + Israel + US.

 

 

TRIPS

#PrelimsFacts 

Failing to approve the COVID-19 waiver for equitable access to medicines under the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement could dent global economic output by trillions of dollars at the cost of protecting vaccine makers’ business worth just $30-40 billion, India’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Saturday.

Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights

  • TRIPS (Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) is an international agreement on intellectual property rights.
  • It is the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP). 
  • It plays a central role in facilitating trade in knowledge and creativity, in resolving trade disputes over IP, and in assuring WTO members the latitude to achieve their domestic policy objectives. 
  • It frames the IP system in terms of innovation, technology transfer, and public welfare. 
  • The Agreement is a legal recognition of the significance of links between IP and trade and the need for a balanced IP system.
  • The Agreement covers most forms of intellectual property including
    • patents,
    • copyright,
    • trademarks,
    • geographical indications,
    • industrial designs,
    • trade secrets, &
    • exclusionary rights over new plant varieties.
  • It came into force in 1995 & is binding on all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

What is the WTO?

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. 
  • At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. 
  • Objective: To help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

 

 

IAEA

#PrelimsFacts

The move by the Joe Biden administration of the U.S. to revive the Iran nuclear deal has once again turned the spotlight on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which played a key role in enforcing the original nuclear deal from which Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. in 2018.

International Atomic Energy Agency

  • IAEA was set up as an autonomous organisation on July 29, 1957, at the height of the Cold War. 
  • Objective: to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
  • HQ: Vienna, Austria.
  • Though established independently of the UN through its own international treaty, the Agency reports to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. 
  • As the preeminent nuclear watchdog under the UN, the IAEA is entrusted with the task of upholding the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.
  • The IAEA was the first to announce that the North Korean nuclear programme was not peaceful. North Korea finally expelled IAEA observers and as a result, there are no on-the-ground international inspectors in North Korea. 

Function

  • Promoting and assisting the research, development and practical applications of peaceful uses of nuclear technologies.
  • Establishing and administering safety guards to ensure that such research/development, etc., by the IAEA is not used for military purposes.
  • Applying, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international treaties, mandatory comprehensive safeguards in non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) parties to such treaties.

Criticism

  • The IAEA’s lack of enforcement capability was hinted by El Baradei who had observed that IAEA had “uneven authority” as it does not have any power to override the sovereign rights of any member nation of the UN.
  • It never challenges the nuclear dominance of the five permanent members of the UNSC, who themselves hold some of the biggest nuclear arsenals of the world.
  • There were controversies in the case of inspection of Iranian nuclear installations when Iran’s then Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi had accused the IAEA of sending intelligence operatives who engaged in espionage against the interest of the Islamic Republic. The 2010 allegation also hinted that IAEA inspectors and observers had shared information with the U.S. government.
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