Daily Current Affairs 19th August – Topics
- Crisis in Meghalaya
- Implication of water crisis on Indian women
- Foreigners’ Tribunals and Gurkhas
- Defence testing Infrastructure Scheme
- Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme
Crisis in Meghalaya
#GS3 # Threats from Non-State Actors -North-east Insurgency
# Linkages between Development & Spread of Extremism
Context: Recently, State government of Meghalaya has ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of a former militant of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), who was killed in a police encounter during a raid at his residence in Shillong.
- The order for Judicial inquiry comes amid reports and visuals of protests, damage and arson coming from Shillong, as well as neighbouring areas.
- Thangkhiew’s death has started a huge outrage amid the public, who have called it a ‘fake encounter’ and a violation of human rights by the police.
- This also resulted in the resignation of the state Home Minister, and the cabinet taking a slew of decisions relating to the incident and the outrage.
- However, the Meghalaya Police claims that Thangkhiew had become “active” in the last six months and they had “clear indications” of his involvement in two low-intensity blasts that happened recently.
Who is Chierishterfield Thangkiew?
- Chierishterfield Thangkiew was an ex-rebel leader and reported to have been one of the founding members of HNLC and a self-styled general secretary.
- In 2004, he left for Bangladesh and did not return to India, till he surrendered before Meghalaya Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong in 2018.
- As per social activist and journalist Patricia Mukhim, most recently Thangkiew was unofficially a sort of interlocutor between the HNLC and the Government.
- Meghalaya has seen years of migration from Bangladesh as well as from other parts of India – Bengal, Punjab and Bihar.
- This has created concerns in indigenous communities who’s afraid of becoming a “minority in their own homeland” because of the influx of “outsiders”.
- It was piling up of these “anti-outsider sentiments” that finally led to the creation of Meghalaya’s first militant group, the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALC), in 1992 as a movement against the domination of the ‘dkhars’ (outsiders).
- Hynniewtrep represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and Achik represented the Garo community.
- HALC was later divided as HNLC and Achik Matgrik Liberation Army.
- The Achik Matgrik Liberation Army was later replaced by the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).
- HNLC claimed to represent only the interest of Khasi Communities, whereas, the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army demanded a separate state for the Garo community.
Present Status of militancy in Meghalaya:
- In the early 2000s, the HNLC was very active frequently calling for bandhs, boycotting Independence Day, carrying out extortions etc.
- But the continuous counter-insurgency operations, over the years, has weakened both the outfits.
- Since July 23, 2004, the ANVC is under an extended ceasefire agreement with the government while the HNLC’s leadership, based in Bangladesh, continue to resist any type of peace deals.
- Over the last few years, militancy in Meghalaya was seen as falling.
- In 2018, the Centre withdrew the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya after almost 27 years of witnessing a decline by 80% in insurgency-related incidents.
Implications of militancy in North Eastern States:
- Many mortalities have been reported from the northeast including both civilians and security forces.
- National projects have either been delayed or id going in a slow pace after militants’ attacks.
- Even Tourism has suffered a lot due to instability in the region.
- The chances of linking the economy of the northeast with the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries has also been hit by the militancy.
Measures to Counter Insurgency:
- 02 military operations, Operation Rhino and Bajrang, were launched against U.L.F.A. militants in Assam in early 1990s.
- Special powers under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) were given armed forces to deal with emergency conditions.
- Today, almost all the significant militant groups in the region, have entered into a ceasefire agreement with the governments.
- They are engaged in peace talks with some even disbanding their armed cadres.
- Restrictions are put on on the entry of outsiders to preserve the original identity of indigenous people of Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh entry of outsiders are not allowed without Inner Line Permit.
- A Separate ministry for the development of North Eastern region has been created at Union level to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the region.
- Better integration of the region with the mainland by enhancing communication and connectivity networks, infrastructure improvement.
- Strict law and fast criminal justice system for speedy disposal of insurgent’s attack cases should be imposed.
- Government should work on better coordination between central forces and state forces for efficient strategic response and greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.
- Implication of water crisis on Indian women
#GS1 # Population and Associated Issues # Problems of Urban Areas #GS2 #Issues related to Women
Context: India is water-stressed due to shifting weather patterns and recurrent droughts. And the worst sufferers of this crisis are mostly women.
- Water scarcity in India is likely to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2050.
Ground reality on India’s water crisis:
- Although India has 16% of the world’s population, the country possesses only 04% of the total freshwater resources.
- As many as 256 of 700 districts in India have reported ‘critical’ or ‘over-exploited’ groundwater levels according to the most recent Central Ground Water Board data (from 2017).
- This implies that getting water in these places has grown harder as the water table has dropped.
- 3/4TH of India’s rural families does not have access to piped, drinkable water and must depend on unsafe sources.
- India has become the world’s largest extractor of groundwater, accounting for 25% of the total.
- Around 70% of our water sources are polluted and our major rivers are dying because of contamination.
What Causes Water Crisis in India:
- India’s large population has stressed planned water resources.
- Rapid growth in India’s urban areas has strained government solutions, which have been compromised by over-privatization.
- Regardless of improvements to drinking water, many other water sources are polluted with both bio and chemical pollutants, and over 21% of the country’s diseases are water-related.
- India lacks overall long-term availability of replenishable water resources.
- While India’s aquifers are currently associated with replenishing sources, the country is also a major grain producer with a great need for water to support the commodity.
- Excess water consumption for food production depletes the overall water table.
- Reduction in traditional water recharging areas. Rapid construction is ignoring traditional water bodies
- India’s water crisis is often attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption.
- With no rain catchment programs in high rainfall areas, most of the water is displaced or dried up instead of used.
Impact on Women:
- The idea that household chores are a duty for an ‘ideal woman’ and that she must fetch water for the family, has continued for 100’s of years due to Indian patriarchy.
- The water crisis only puts them at a higher risk of vulnerability.
- Women, especially in the rural areas, walk miles to collect water from the nearest source.
- Their marginalisation is compounded by the indignity and insecurity of not having a private spot to fulfil their toilet needs.
- This whole system of women being pushed to be water carriers leads to them having very less time for themselves. This further cut access to clean sanitation, better physical and mental health of women.
- The complete water management by women has led to polygamy in 01 drought affected village of Maharashtra. This involves having more than one partner to collect water. The arrangement is termed as ‘water wives’.
- This is undoubtedly an example of regressive thinking — of women being seen as substitutes for water pipes or tankers.
- Working on solving women’s water, sanitation and hygiene requirements is a critical driver in attaining gender equity and unlocking the potential of half of the world’s population.
- The water levels of the floodplain aquifers need to be supervised continuously to be well above the river water level to avoid pollution by river water.
- Floodplains can be secured by growing organic food forests or fruit forests which consume less water.
- In water management, corporations must play a more active role in using their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts towards innovation and conservation of water and harness water recharge.
3.Foreigners’ Tribunals and Gurkhas
#GS2 # Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation #Population and associated issues
Context: Assam government ordered the State police’s Border wing not to forward any case against Gurkhas to the Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT).
- FTs are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946 to ascertain whether a person is a citizen or not.
- The Foreigners Act, 1946 empowers the Central Government to make
- provisions regarding foreigners’ entry or departure
- In Assam, there was a refugee incursion ever since independence because of porous borders with neighbouring countries and states.
- Assam was the 01st National Register of Citizens (NRC) was made in 1951 comprising names of Indian citizens.
- The final updated NRC for Assam, published 31 August 2019, comprised 31 million names out of 33 million population.
- Earlier, Supreme court ruled that the order of the FT will prevail over the NRC order on citizenship and refused to create an appellate forum for appeal from the tribunals.
- The Border wing is tasked with finding people of doubtful citizenship and serving them notices for a Foreigners’ Tribunal to take over.
Gurkhas in Assam:
- As per 2011 census, Assam has more than 5 lakh Gurkhas, most of whom came as members of armed forces under the British rule and as workers in tea plantations.
- About 22,000 Gurkhas were left out of the draft National Register of Citizens published on August 31, 2019.
- Back in 2018 when the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) was updated, the Home Ministry issued a communication citing the Foreigners Act (1946) and 1950 Friendship treaty, to state that Gorkhas (both Indian and Nepali citizens) living in India cannot be referred to FTs in Assam.
- Though Nepali citizens are not eligible for inclusion in NRC, they are legal migrants and the 1950 treaty protects them from referral to a FT.
- The latest move will help around 2,500 Gurkhas on whom there are numerous cases in many FT’s in Assam.
- A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) for supposedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.
What is a Foreigners tribunal?
- Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946 to determine if a person staying illegally is a “foreigner” or not.
- As per the 2019 amendment order to FTs, even individuals, whose name does not figure in the final National Register of Citizens (NRC), can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority i.e. Foreigners Tribunals (FT).
- Previously, only the State government could move the Tribunal against a suspect.
- Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.
- A member is also required to have a good knowledge of the official languages of Assam (Assamese, Bengali, Bodo and English) as well as be familiar with the historical background to the foreigners’ issue.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has authorized district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying unlawfully in India is a foreigner or not.
- Previously, the powers to establish tribunals were entrusted only to Centre.
4.Defence testing Infrastructure Scheme
#GS2 #Government policies and interventions #GS3 # Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology # Various Security Forces & Agencies & Their Mandate
Context: Recently, the Defence Ministry has published 08 Expression of Interest (EOIs) catering to setting up of Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) in selected domains.
DTIS and Its Key Provisions:
- The DTIS was launched in May 2020 by the Ministry of Defence with an outlay of Rs.400 crore in order to boost domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing.
- The Scheme would run for the duration of five years.
- It envisages establishing 6-8 stat-of-the-art Greenfield Defence Testing Infrastructure facilities that are required for defence and aerospace related production in partnership with the private industry.
- Majority of test facilities are expected to come up in the 02 defence Industrial corridors (in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh)
- Under Make in India, India has accorded high priority to development of the manufacturing base of Defence and Aerospace sectors in the country so as to reduce dependence on imports.
- Towards this, the establishment of Defence Industrial Corridors (DICs) in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu was announced.
- Several other policies like Revised Make-II procedures, Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) and Defence Investors Cell have been created with an objective of providing an ecosystem to promote innovation and technology development and nudge Indian industry to invest in Aerospace and Defence sectors.
- Defence Investors Cell was established to provide all required info including addressing questions regarding the investment opportunities, procedures and regulatory requirements for investment in the sector.
Objectives of DTIS:
- Encourage indigenous defence production, with special focus on participation of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Start Ups by bridging gaps in defence testing infrastructure in the country.
- Offer easy access and to meet the testing needs of the domestic defence industry.
- Enable indigenous defence production, thus reducing imports of military equipment and help make India self-reliant.
- The projects under the Scheme will be provided with up to 75% government funding in the form of ‘Grant-in-Aid’.
- The remaining 25% of the project cost will have to be financed by the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) whose constituents will be Indian private entities and State Governments.
- Only private entities registered in India and State Government agencies will qualify for forming the implementation agency for the Scheme.
- The SPVs under the Scheme will be registered under Companies Act 2013.
- Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme
#Gs02 #Government policies and Intervention #GS3
# Mobilisation of Resources #Taxatation
Context: Recently, Union Commerce ministry announced rates and guidelines for new scheme covering 8,555 products at an outlay of Rs 12,454 cr accounting for around 75 percent of traded items and 65% of India’s export.
About the scheme:
- The scheme was announced in 2020 to replace Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS)
- MEIS was not compliant with the provisions of the World Trade Organisation by giving export subsidies to a wide range of goods.
- The scheme would refund to exporters the embedded central, state and local duties or taxes that were so far not being rebated or refunded and were, therefore, placing India’s exports at a disadvantage.
- It will be implemented by Customs through a simplified IT System whereby Rebates will be issued in form of a transferable duty credit/ electronic scrip (e-scrip) which will be maintained in an electronic ledger by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
- To enable zero rating of exports by ensuring domestic taxes are not exported, all taxes, including those levied by States and even Gram Panchayats like mandi tax etc., will be refunded under the scheme.
- These taxes are not getting exempted or refunded under any other existing scheme.
- The rebates under RoDTEP is WTO-compliant as per legal advice, range from 0.5% to 4.3% of the Free On Board value of outbound consignments.
- The lowest rate is given on items like chocolates, toffees and sugar confectionary, while yarns and fibres have been offered the highest rate.
- Steel, pharma and chemicals have been excluded under the scheme because their exports have done well without incentives.
- Global Competitiveness of exports by providing a level playing field to domestic industry;
- Generate employment;
- Increase foreign exchange reserves and encourage investments.
- Also under it, tax assessment is set to become fully automatic for exporters. Businesses will get access to their refunds for GST via an automatic refund-route which in-turn increases then working capital for the enterprises.
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