Afghanistan raises delay in India's acceptance of envoy & NSA Doval holds talks in Afghanistan

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

India Afghanistan Relations since 2001

  • Contact has existed between Afghanistan & India since the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation.  Diplomatic relations between the two nations were officially developed post the 1950’s.
  • India provided intelligence and logistic help for the Allied forces during the U.S invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. 
  • India established diplomatic relations with the civilian government which was formed later and participated in relief and reconstruction efforts as Taliban retreated. 
  • India became the largest regional provider of aid for Afghanistan. India provided about $700 million worth of humanitarian and economic aid. 
  • Support and cooperation of India extend to the rebuilding of airway link, energy sector, and investing in health and education sectors. India also provided training Afghan civil servants, diplomats, and police.
  • India even proposed Afghanistan’s membership to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 2005. Later Afghanistan became the 8th member of SAARC.
  • Multiple MOUs were signed between the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Afghan National Standardisation Authority for strengthening cooperation in rural development, education, and standardization.
  • India donated three Mi-25 attack helicopters to help Afghanistan fight the Taliban insurgency. 
  • The newly constructed Afghan parliament had also been built by India.

Economic Relations between India and Afghanistan

  • India seeks to expand its economic presence in Afghanistan. 
  • India aspires to improve transport connectivity and economic cooperation with Central and South Asian countries. 
  • India aims to set up: 
  1. Iron ore mines 
  2. 6 MTPA steel plant (by Steel Authority of India Limited)
  3. 800 MW power plant
  • Hydro-electric power projects, transmission lines and roads. 
  • India supported in the reconstruction of Salma Dam in the Herat province. In addition to producing 42 MW power, this dam provides irrigation for 75,000 hectares of farmland.
  • The Afghan cabinet renamed the Salma Dam to the Afghan-India Friendship Dam in a move to strengthen relations between the two countries.
  • It is a hydroelectric and irrigation dam project located on the Hari River in Chishti Sharif District of Herat Province in western Afghanistan. 
  • India and Iran will be signing on a transit agreement on transporting goods to landlocked Afghanistan. The Indian government is investing in the expansion of the Chabahar port (Iran). This will serve as a hub for the transportation of transit goods. 

India & Taliban

  • The Taliban regime was initially recognized only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha monuments by the Taliban resulted in outrage and angry protests by India. 
  • During the Indian Airlines Flight 814 highjack in 1999, it was landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, allegedly with Taliban’s support. 
  • India was one among the supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance since these developments.

NSA

  • The post of NSA was created in 1998 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. It went on to be highly influential and powerful over time along the rise of India on the world stage.
  • The NSA is the senior official on the National Security Council (NSC) of India. 
  • He/she is the chief adviser to the Prime Minister of India on national and international security policy.  
  • NSA is most powerful bureaucrat in the Government of India.
  • The National Security Adviser (NSA) is supposed to regularly advise the Prime Minister of India on every matters relating to internal and external threats and opportunities to India, and oversees strategic and sensitive issues on behalf of the Prime Minister.
  • The NSA of India also has the duty of being Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor with China as well as the envoy to Pakistan and Israel on security affairs.
  • The NSA receives all intelligence reports and co-ordinates them to present before the Prime Minister. 

 

 

Employee from Bihar will be victim if ‘due share’ not paid, ULFA (I) tells oil firm

#GS3 #InternalSecurity

ULFA:

  • Based in Assam, The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is a militant outfit. It’s objective is to achieve freedom with an armed struggle and establish an independent state of socialist Assam. 
  • Formed in 1979 by Paresh Baruah, The ULFA established ties with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in 1983, Burma based Kachin Independent Army in 1987 and began operations in 1990.
  • Military action against the ULFA by the Indian Army began in 1990 and still pertains. 
  • GoI banned ULFA in 1990 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) citing it as a terrorist organisation.

Spread of ULFA:

  • ULFA emerged as one of the most powerful and violent insurgent outfit in Southeast Asia within a decade’s time.
  • ULFA engaged in aggressive campaign in the early 90s. Security forces, political opponents, and blasting rail links were the victims.
  • Later on, due to ULFA’s undue emphasis on collection of money and weapons in the name of furthering the ‘revolution’ resulted in further violence throughout the state. It witnessed a period marked by growing disillusionment and anger amid its supporters. 
  • In their bloody conflict with the security agencies, many innocent people lost their lives and several thousands were permanently maimed.

 

NIA court allows five books a month to Sudha Bharadwaj

#GS3 #InternalSecurity

NIA

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.
  • It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:
  • NIA’s primary objective is to combat terror in India. It acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.
  • It implements international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
  • The terrorist incidents are found to have complex inter-State and international linkages, and possible connection with organised crime, for example, the smuggling of arms and drugs, circulation of fake Indian currency etc.
  • The agency at the Central level was created for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other Act post-2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Special Courts

  • The Central Government for the trial of Scheduled Offences, constitute one or more Special Courts under Section 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008.
  • Composition: Special Court shall be presided over by a judge to be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
    • The Central Government may, if required, appoint an additional judge or additional judges to the Special Court, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
  • Jurisdiction of Special Courts:
    • The Special Courts have all powers of the court of sessions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
    • Where any question arises as to the jurisdiction of any Special Court, it shall be referred to the Central Government whose decision in the matter shall be final.
    • The Supreme Court can transfer a case pending before a Special Court to any other Special Court within that State or any other State in some exceptional cases where it is not feasible to conduct a peaceful, fair, impartial and speedy trial.
  • Similarly, the High Court has the power to transfer a case pending before a Special Court in a State to any other Special Court within that State.

 

CBFC chief for regulating OTT platforms

#GS2 #Governance

OTT (Over The Top) Platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others need to be regulated, Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Prasoon Joshi, said at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology.

OTT

  • Over-the-Top platforms are audio and video hosting and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar etc, which started out as content hosting platforms but soon branched out into the production and release of short movies, feature films, documentaries and web series themselves. 
  • India is currently the world’s fastest growing OTT market, and is all set to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest by 2024.
  • In January 2019, eight video streaming services had signed a self-regulatory code that laid down a set of guiding principles for content on these platforms which prohibited five types of content. This includes:
    • Content that deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag.
    • Any visual or story line that promotes child pornography.
    • Any content that “maliciously” intends to outrage religious sentiments.
    • Content that “deliberately and maliciously” promotes or encourages terrorism.
    • Any content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by law or court.
  • Content regulation: There is no law or autonomous body to monitor and manage the digital contents provided on OTT platforms and it is made available to the public at large without any filter or screening.
    • Unlike television, print or radio which follow guidelines released by governments, OTT platforms classified as digital media or social media, had little to no regulation on the choice of content they offered, the subscription rates, certification for adult movies and others

Regulation of OTT Content

  • In a move that will have a far-reaching impact, the Union government has brought Over The Top (OTT) platforms, or video streaming service providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others, under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • The latest order covers “Digital/Online Media”, including “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers” and “news and current affairs content on online platforms”.
  • It will enable the government to have control over these platforms, which were unregulated till now as there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content.
  • Initially content providers come under the legal framework of the Information Technology Act 2000, unlike print and broadcast media, which were not directly under any Ministry. Recently the government has brought video streaming over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Hotstar, and others under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

 

CCS approves 83 Tejas fighters for Air Force

#GS3 #ScienceandTechnology

In the biggest indigenous defence deal, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday approved the manufacture of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of around Rs.47,000 crore.

Tejas

  • Designed and developed by India’s HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is an indigenous supersonic a single-engine multirole light combat aircraft used by the Indian military.
  • The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme was begun by the Government of India in 1984 with the establishment of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to manage the LCA programme.
  • Tejas replaced the ageing Mig 21 fighter planes. It uses fourth-generation technology. In every technical parameter, Tejas outperforms MiG 21.
  • It is the second supersonic fighter jet that was developed by HAL (the first one being HAL HF-24 Marut).
  • It is designed to carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided, and standoff weaponry.
  • Tejas has a single-engine, compound Delta wing, and has a tailless design.
  • Prime objective of the LCA programme was to replace the ageing MiGs and to expand and develop India’s indigenous aerospace capabilities.

 

 

Ministry denies RTI query on farm law consultations

#GS2  #Governance

  • The Agriculture Ministry has denied a Right to Information (RTI) request for details on pre-legislative consultations on the farm reform laws, saying the matter is sub judice.
  • In its response, the Ministry cited the clause from the RTI Act that exempts information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by a court of law or whose disclosure would amount to contempt of court.

RTI

The Right to Information Act of 2005

  • The RTI act empowers ordinary citizens to question the government and its working. 
  • RTI has been widely utilised by citizens and media to uncover corruption, progress in government work, expenses related information, etc.
  • All constitutional authorities, agencies, owned and controlled, also those organisations which are substantially financed by the government comes under the purview of the act. The act also mandates public authorities of union government or state government, to provide timely response to the citizens’ request for information.
  • The act also imposes penalties if the authorities delay in responding to the citizen in the stipulated time.

Questions allowed under RTI

  • Citizens can seek any information from the government authorities that the government can disclose to the parliament.
  • Certain information that could jeopardize the sovereignty and the integrity of India is excluded from the purview of RTI.
  • Information relating to internal security, relations with foreign countries, intellectual property rights (IPR), cabinet discussions are exempted from RTI.

Objective

  1. Empower citizens to question the government.
  2. Exercise transparency and accountability in the working of the government.
  3. Limiting corruption in the government and make the government more effective.
  4. Promoting better-informed citizens who would exercise necessary vigil about the functioning of the government machinery.

Section 8(1) (b) of The Right to Information Act

  • This provision is regarding matters which are to be forbidden from publication.
  • “information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court;”
  • To interpret the section lets first break it into smaller parts. So we can say, Section 8 (1) (b) exempts disclosure of information: 
    1. which has been expressly forbidden by any court of law or tribunal; or
    2. the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.
  • Only that information which has been expressly forbidden by any court of law is exempted and mere pendency of information, of some related case, before a court does not signifies its exemption. So, one of the prerequisite for application of Section 8 (1) (b) is an expressed order from any court of law or tribunal exempting publication of the information asked for.
  • “What may constitute ‘contempt of court’ is not per-se defined in The RTI Act 2005. So to know what constitutes contempt of court we should look at the definition given in Section 2 (a) (b) and (c) of the Contempt of Court Act 1971

Sub-judice matters

  • Sub-judice matters are those matters which are currently under trial or are being considered by a judge or court. In another words we can say that, a matter which is still under consideration by a court i.e. still a subject of active litigation is sub-judice matter.
  • It is deployed on Indo-Pakistan International Border, Indo-Bangladesh International Border, Line of Control (LoC) along with Indian Army and in Anti-Naxal Operations.

 

 

BSF unearths tunnel in Jammu

#GS3 #InternalSecurity #SecurityForces

The Border Security Force on Wednesday unearthed a 30 foot deep and 150 metre long crossborder tunnel in Samba district in Jammu, the third such tunnel since last November.

  • The BSF was raised in 1965 after the India-Pakistan war. They are defined as First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.
  • It is one among the 7 Central Armed Police Forces.  
  • Their mandate is to guard the Indian borders shared with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • CAPF comes under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Other Central Armed Police Forces are: 
    • Assam Rifles (AR)
    • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
    • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
    • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
    • National Security Guards (NSG) 
    • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • It has an air wing, marine wing, an artillery regiment, and commando units.
    • BSF defends Sir Creak in Arabian Sea and Sundarban delta in the Bay of Bengal with its state of art fleet of Water Crafts.
    • BSF has an instrumental role in helping state administration in maintaining Law and Order and conduct of peaceful election.
    • BSF also operates during natural calamity to save precious human lives as and when warranted.
    • They are even deployed to counter insurgency in Left Wing Extremism ares.
  • It contributes dedicated services to the UN peacekeeping Mission by sending a large contingent of its trained manpower every year.

Cross-Border Terrorism

  • The term ‘cross-border’ implies a movement or an activity across a border between the two countries.
  • Cross-Border Terrorism is a form in which soil of one country is used to create terror in bordering countries.
  • As a grey zone conflict, it is an undeclared war and considered to be highest form of strategy to bleed a nation for prolonged period by small efforts.
  • During last 15 years thousands of civilians have lost their lives in acts of terrorism, apart from thousands of defence, paramilitary and police personnel who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
  • Infiltration and smuggling of narcotics, arms and weapons across the borders have been matters of constant and unmitigated anxiety to all concerned agencies manning the borders.
  • Cross-Border Terrorism from Pakistan has exacerbated due to non-recognition of boundaries by its terrorist groups and their success in acquiring legitimacy due to religious or ethnic identity.
  • Inadequate Cooperation from Pakistan has made the management of border further difficult for India.

 

 

A strong India would act as ‘counterbalance’ to China: U.S

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

With days to go before its end, the Trump administration has declassified a sensitive document on the U.S. strategic framework for the IndoPacific’ from 2018.

  • Maintaining U.S. strategic primacy in the region and promoting a liberal economic order while stopping China from establishing illiberal spheres of influence is the U.S.’s first national security challenge as per the document. 
  • The other two challenges are ensuring that North Korea does not threaten the U.S. and advancing U.S. economic leadership globally while pushing fair and reciprocal trade.
  • With regard to India, one of the desired end states of the U.S.’s strategy is for the U.S. to be India’s preferred partner on security issues and for the two countries to cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South Asia, Southeast Asia and other regions of mutual concern. 
  • Consequently, the U.S.’s to-do list has on it offers of support to India via military, diplomatic and intelligence channels “to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China and access to water,  including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion by China."
  •  U.S. aims to support India’s “Act East” policy and “its aspiration to be a leading global power, highlighting its compatibility with the U.S., Japanese and Australian vision” of the Indo-Pacific, as per the document.
  • “A strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counterbalance to China,” is one of the underlying assumptions of the strategy

India-US Relationship

India-US relations have become increasingly multi-faceted, covering cooperation in areas such as trade, defence and security, education, science and technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, environment and health.

 

 

What does Gujarat seek to achieve with its new ‘MICE’ tourism policy?

January 14 2021 ,    #The Indian express explained.

The acronym “MICE” stands for “Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions”, and is essentially a version of business tourism that draws domestic and international tourists to a destination.

Context:

  • Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced the tourism policy for 2021-25, seeking to position the state as the country’s best tourist destination, with a focus on investment and livelihood opportunities. 
  • The policy urges to make Gujarat a hub of “MICE” tourism.

What is MICE tourism?    

The acronym “MICE” stands for “Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions”, and is essentially a version of business tourism that draws domestic and international tourists to a destination.

The policy aims to make Gujarat one of the top five MICE tourism destinations in the country.

How does the policy intervene to attract MICE tourism?

To incentivise international events, the government has announced an assistance of Rs 5,000 to the event organiser per foreign participant staying overnight, subject to an upper limit of Rs 5 lakh.

For domestic events, the policy promises financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh per event, capped at three events per organiser per year.

Cm said that for Gujarat to emerge as a venue of big national and international conferences, large convention centres are required. The policy promises special incentives for building big convention centres, 15% capital subsidy on the eligible capital investment.

The government has also promised land on lease, if required. A precondition to avail the incentive is that the convention centre should have at least one hall that can seat a minimum of 2,500 persons.

Which are the MICE destinations in Gujarat currently?

The Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gandhinagar

which was built as the venue for the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister, can seat up to 5,000 persons.   

 The Dandi Kutir at the complex: built in the shape of a salt mound, houses a multimedia museum dedicated to Gandhi. It hosted the 13th UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP13) meeting in February last year.                                

 

The Tent City near Kevadia in Narmada district of central Gujarat: 

Billed as an ideal conference venue for 100 to 1,000 delegates. The national presiding officers’ conference, which was opened by President Ram Nath Kovind in November, was held in Kevadia.                      

 

The Tent City at Dhordo in the White Desert of Kutch hosted the national DG Conference in 2015. 

                      

But why is there specific focus on MICE tourism?

A senior government official said MICE events are major tourism generators, and there is significant scope for Gujarat to tap into it.

“By incentivising the organising of MICE events and construction of convention centres in Gujarat, we are trying to plug the gaps [in MICE tourism potential]. The organiser of an international event can prolong the stay of guests by one or two days, and visitors can visit tourist attractions, of which Gujarat has many,” was affirmed  

Which tourist attractions is the policy promoting

  • Some of the attractions are Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue; 
  • Gir, the only home of the Asiatic lion; the Girnar ropeway, Asia’s longest; Ahmedabad, 
  • the first UNESCO World Heritage City in India;  
  • Lothal, the earliest known dock in the world, and India’s first port city; 
  • Dholavira, a showcase of the urban civilisation of the Indus Valley; 
  • Shivrajpur, one of India’s ‘Blue Flag’ beaches;  
  • India’s first seaplane service from the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity in Kevadia. 

 


 

 

Terror trail. 

January 14 2021,     # The Hindu editorial analysis  

 CONTEXT:  

UN Security Council (UNSC) marking 20 years since the resolutions that announced a global commitment to the war against terror after the U.S. 9/11 attacks, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made a pitch for greater coordination between counter terrorism agencies worldwide. 

In According with His words are significant that a FATF committee, the Asia Pacific Joint Group (APJG), is meeting this week to finalise recommendations for the FATF on whether to continue Pakistan’s ‘greylisting status’, downgrade it to a blacklist, or let it off. 

Pakistan and FATF 

Pakistan, which continues to remain on the “grey list” of FATF, had earlier been given the deadline till the June to ensure compliance with the 27-point action plan against terror funding networks. 

It has been under the FATF’s scanner since June 2018, when it was put on the Grey List for terror financing and money laundering risks. 

FATF and its partners such as the Asia Pacific Group (APG) are reviewing Pakistan’s processes, systems, and weaknesses on the basis of a standard matrix for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) regime. 

 Gist of the ministry talk regarding actions of Pakistan over the past days  

 While Mr. Jaishankar’s words were meant for the global struggle with terrorism since 2001, their import is for India’s particular problems with Pakistan and cross-border terrorism in the present for the impending decision at the FATF plenary next month.  

Pakistan’s recent actions, including the sudden arrests and quick convictions of most wanted figures Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed, and the warrant for JeM chief Masood Azhar, all in cases of terror financing, indicate that Islamabad is aware of the importance of these decisions for its economic future; for the moment, 

the government is appearing to fall in line with the FATF’s 27-point action plan. By drawing the connection between the actions of the UNSC and the FATF together, 

Mr. Jaishankar is indicating that India is not only watching what Pakistan does but also how the international community “walks the talk” on “zero tolerance to terrorism”. 

What is the FATF? 

FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. 

The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris. 

It holds three Plenary meetings in the course of each of its 12-month rotating presidencies. 

As of 2019, FATF consisted of 37 member jurisdictions. 

India became an Observer at FATF in 2006. Since then, it had been working towards full-fledged membership. On June 25, 2010, India was taken in as the 34th country member of FATF.