POSHAN Abhiyaan : Analysis

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POSHAN Abhiyan:
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The Mission is aimed at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers in a time bound manner during the next three years beginning 2017-18.
  • The Abhiyan aims to achieve convergence with various programmes i.e., Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Health Mission, Swachh-Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Analysis:
  • Poshan Abhiyaan which focuses on reducing stunting, under-nutrition and anaemia in women and adolescents through direct cash transfers is a massive step towards eradicating malnutrition.
  • Poshan Abhiyaan has got global recognition for its effort to eradicate malnutrition.
  • Cash transfers under the mission provide an additional support to the family income.
  • The whole issue of malnutrition requires concrete action starting from the grassroot level at households as well as the community level.
  • The first and the most important step for reducing malnutrition in India is providing sufficient nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers. The child then automatically is at much less risk of being malnourished.

Balakot Airstrikes

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Context:
  • Indian Air Force (IAF) has struck against Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot of Pakistan occupied Kashmir in the pre-dawn hours of 26th February 2019.
  • Mirage-2000 fighter jets were used to drop explosives on these training camps.
  • A dozen Mirage-2000 fighter jets used to carry out the attack were escorted by four Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft.
  • Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System of Israel and the indigenous Netra Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft (AEW&C) aircraft were deployed to monitor the mission.
Highlights of the statement by the Ministry of External Affairs
  • A suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) which led to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF.
  • The terrorist organisation JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades and is led by Masood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.
  • JeM has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
  • Even though India provided location of training camps in Pakistan from time to time, Pakistan continued to deny their existence and Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.
  • The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.
  • India has struck biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. A large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.

Shillong Times Controversy

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Controversy:
  • Government amended rules to exclude protocol services and guest house facilities from being applicable to the retired judges and their spouses and children.
  • The matter was taken up by the high court on its own and further the high court had set aside the amendment.
  • The Shillong Times has published an article titled “When judges judge for themselves” in pursuant to above order.
  • Meghalaya High Court’s held The Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and publisher Shobha Chaudhuri guilty of contempt and fined them Rs 2 lakh each.
  • The Supreme Court has put on hold the Meghalaya High Court’s order.
Contempt of Court
  • Contempt of court refers to actions which defy a court’s authority, cast disrespect on a court, or impede the ability of the court to perform its function.
  • The Contempt of Court provisions in India are enshrined under Articles 129 and 215 of the constitution for Supreme Court and High Court respectively and Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Civil Contempt is defined as willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
Criminal Contempt is defined as the publication (whether by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of any matter or the doing of any other act which:
  • Scandalises or tends to scandalise, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or
  • Prejudices, or interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding, or
  • Interferes or tends to interfere with, or obstructs or tends to obstruct, the administration of justice in any other manner.
Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 limits the period for initiating contempt proceedings is of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.

125th Constitutional Amendment Bill

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The government has introduced the 125th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Parliament to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the north-eastern region.

Features of the Amendment Bill

The salient features of the 125th Constitutional Amendment Bill which will impact one crore tribal people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram are:

  • The amendments proposed provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grass-root level.
  • The amendment empowers the village councils to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  • The amendment bill mandates the finance commission to recommend devolution of financial resources to these autonomous councils. The Autonomous Councils are dependent on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  • The amendment bill also reserve one-third of the seats for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and

The bill to empower the Autonomous Councils was announced by the government last month in the backdrop of the protests in the North-East following the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha.

Macedonia to join NATO

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Macedonia to Join NATO:

  • Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO
  • The signing of accession papers allows Macedonia to take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee.
  • To acquire full membership, all 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.
  • The conflict over the name with Greece had become a damper in its membership to NATO.
  • With the conflict with Greece taken to logical end with the conclusion of Prespa Agreement, Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO.

Russia Raises Concerns

  • Russia has raised concerns against Macedonia becoming part of NATO. Russia has accused NATO of destabilising the Balkans by pushing Macedonia and Montenegro to join NATO.
  • Russia sees Balkan nations as its sphere of influence and is against NATO or any other body led by US or EU making inroads to these Balkan countries. NATO’s membership provides a guarantee of mutual defence, provides a welcome insurance policy against possible incursions.
  • Russia perceives this as an attempt by the west to contain it by making inroads to the areas which Russia considers its sphere of influence.

Dispute between Macedonia and Greece

  • The use of the name “Macedonia” was disputed between the European countries of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, formerly a state within Yugoslavia. 
  • After the declaration of independence of Macedonia from erstwhile Yugoslavia, the country named it as the Republic of Macedonia.
  • The dispute was mainly due to the ambiguity in nomenclature between the Republic of Macedonia, the adjacent Greek region of Macedonia and the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia.
  • Greece opposed the use of the name “Macedonia” by the Republic of Macedonia without a geographical qualifier such as “Northern Macedonia.
  • Greece accused the Republic of Macedonia of appropriating symbols and figures that are historically considered part of Greek culture such as the Vergina Sun and Alexander the Great, and of promoting the irredentist concept of a United Macedonia, which involves territorial claims on Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia.
  • Due to the conflict over the name, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s attempt to join Nato in 2008 and even blocked its EU membership ambitions.
  • The opposition of Greece was so fierce that the United Nations was forced to refer Macedonia as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

Prespa Agreement with Greece

  • After a lot of negotiations, an agreement was reached between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev.
  • The agreement is famously referred to as the Prespa Agreement.
  • As per the agreement the Republic of Macedonia would be renamed as the Republic of North Macedonia.
  • The language of the country would be referred to as Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).
  • The Parliament of Macedonia has passed the resolution to amend the constitution of the country to rename it as the Republic of Northern Macedonia.
  • The opposition parties had boycotted the vote and the proposal narrowly got the two-thirds majority vote required for the constitutional amendment.

Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2019

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The amendment bill aims to amend the Cinematograph Amendment act 1952.

The features of the amendment bill are:

  • The amendment bill makes film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fines that may extend to 10 lakh or both.
  • The amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.
  • Section 7 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 deals with who can watch and exhibit which films and penalties for violating terms and conditions related to the exhibition of board-certified films.
  • The amendment bill adds a new subsection (4) to section 7 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 with the definition of piracy and the penal provisions for the same.

The Cinematograph Amendment Bill, 2019 aims to tackle film piracy by including the penal provisions for unauthorised camcording and duplication of films. The bill when passed will build a credible deterrence which would increase industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of India’s National Intellectual Property policy and will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.

Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018

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Features of the Bill

The salient features of the bill are:

  • The Bill bans Deposit Takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme.
  • The Bill ban unregulated deposit-taking activities altogether, by making them an offence. The existing legislative-cum-regulatory framework only comes into effect ex-post with considerable time lags;
  • The Bill creates three different types of offences, namely, running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes, fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes, and wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
  • The Bill provides for severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines to act as a deterrent.
  • The Bill provides for repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally.
  • The Bill provides for attachment of properties/assets by the Competent Authority, and subsequent realization of assets for repayment to depositors.
  • Timelines have been provided for attachment of property and restitution to depositors.
  • The Bill enables the creation of an online central database, for collection and sharing of information on deposit-taking activities in the country;
  • The Bill also defines “Deposit Taker” and “Deposit” comprehensively.

Definition of “Deposit Taker” and “Deposit” under the Bill

  • Deposit Takers include all possible entities (including individuals) receiving or soliciting deposits, except specific entities such as those incorporated by legislation;
  • Deposit is defined in such a manner that deposit-takers are restricted from camouflaging public deposits as receipts, and at the same time, not to curb or hinder acceptance of money by an establishment in the ordinary course of its business.

Venezuela Political Crisis

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What’s the crisis?

  • Both Juan Guaidó and Nicolás Maduro have debatable claims to legitimacy.
  • European Union, Australia, US, New Zealand have recognised Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader as the president.
  • Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, has said that President Nicolás Maduro is illegitimate and has asserted himself as Venezuela’s interim president.

How did the Presidential Crisis begin?

  • On 23rd January the leader of the legislature, Juan Guaidó, declared himself acting president and said he would assume the powers of the executive branch from there onwards.
  • This was a challenge to President Nicolás Maduro, who had been sworn into a second six-year term in office just two weeks previously.
  • President Maduro condemned this as a ploy by the US to oust him.
  • Nicolás Maduro was first elected as President with a thin margin of 1.6 percentage votes in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez.
  • Nicolás Maduro was re-elected to the office of president for a second six-year term in highly controversial elections in May 2018, which most opposition parties boycotted.
  • After being re-elected Nicolás Maduro announced that he would serve out his remaining first term and only then be sworn in for a second term.
  • The National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó argues that because the election was not fair Articles 233 and 333 of Venezuela’s constitution empower the head of the National Assembly takes over as acting president under such circumstances.
  • Juan Guaidó has staked the claim to be the acting president, as he was the head of the legislature.

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty suspended

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With the formal announcement by the United States about the withdrawal from the INF treaty, Russia has followed the suit and declared the suspension of the treaty.

 

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty

  • It was crucial Cold War-era treaty banning development, testing and possession of short and medium range ground-launched nuclear missiles with range of 500-5,000 km.
  • The treaty was signed in December 1987 between then US President Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • The treaty banned all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500–1,000 km or (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range).
  • This treaty was central to ending arms race between two superpowers during cold war and protected America’s NATO allies in Europe from Soviet missile attacks.
  • It was designed to provide measure of some strategic stability on continent of Europe.

How the INF treaty aided in Diffusing Tensions?

  • Due to the limited range, short flight times and unpredictable flight patterns, It was difficult to detect the short and medium ranges missiles.
  • As a result, there was a threat of nuclear war in Europe which is sandwiched between Russia and US.
  • The missiles were designed chiefly to fight a theatre nuclear war in Europe. It exacerbated crisis instability and increased the chances of an accidental nuclear war.
  • Hence the destruction of these missiles under the provisions of the INF treaty was highly beneficial towards enhancing both regional and global security.

Reasons of US withdrawal

  • US President Trump has alleged that Russia has violated treaty and has been violating it for many years.
  • This violation comes after Russia’s alleged development and deployment of Novator 9M729 missile (also known as SSC-8), that could strike Europe at short notice.
  • Accusations of Russia violating this treaty pre-dates Trump presidency and go back to 2008 during President Obama administration.
  • Under former President Barack Obama raised issue of Russia testing ground-launched cruise missile with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.
  • But Russia had denied allegations and raised counter-allegations of the US installing missile defence systems in Europe.
  • While two countries failed to find resolution using dispute resolution mechanism in treaty, US continued to remain party to treaty under pressure from its European allies.

Implications

  • Both Russia and US would indulge in the development of these short and medium ranges missiles.
  • There could be an arms race with EU joining the race as a third entity.
  • Since these missiles are mobile, hard to detect, nuclear-capable and can reach European cities, they have hardly any warning time at all so they reduce the threshold for any potential use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. This would lead to instability and trust deficit.

History of INF Treaty:

  • The deployment of IRBMs in Europe first became an arms-control issue in the late 1970s, when the Soviet Union began replacing its older single-warhead SS-4 and SS-5 IRBMs with newer and more accurate SS-20s, which could deliver three nuclear warheads apiece from a distance of 5,000 km. Mounted on mobile launchers based in the European part of the Soviet Union, the SS-20s could strike targets anywhere in western Europe in less than 10 minutes.
  • One should note that under pressure from its western European allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United States in 1979 committed itself to deploying two intermediate-range weapons systems of its own in western Europe: the Pershing II and the Tomahawk cruise missile. Mounted on mobile launchers, the Pershing II was an IRBM that could carry a single nuclear warhead a distance of about 2,000 km and strike within the vicinity of Moscow in less than 10 minutes.
  • It is important to point out that the INF Treaty called for the progressive dismantling, over three years, of 2,619 missiles, about half of which were deployed at the time of signing. About two-thirds of the missiles affected were Soviet, and the rest were American.
  • Further, each country was allowed to keep intact the warheads and guidance systems of the destroyed missiles. Also destroyed were missile launchers and various kinds of support equipment and structures.
  • Teams of observers from both countries were given access to certain operating bases, support facilities, and elimination facilities in order to verify the withdrawal and destruction of the missile systems.

NSG and India

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What is NSG?

  • 48 nation grouping that controls nuclear related exports.
  • Setup in 1974 to counter India’s nuclear tests.

 

What are the benefits of being an NSG member?

  • NSG members can trade in and export nuclear technology.
  • Members gets timely information on nuclear matters.
  • Members contributes by way of information.

 

What are the conditions of NSG membership?

  • The ability to supply items on NSG control lists
  • Acting in accordance with NSG guidelines
  • A legally based export control system  
  • Support international non-proliferation efforts
  • Membership of treaties like the NPT that require full-scope safeguards.

 

Where does India stand against these conditions?

  • India fulfils the above mentioned criterions but does not meet the last one.
  • However, it should be noted that these are not mandatory criteria but only factors for consideration.
  • India has  maintained an impeccable non-proliferation record coupled with a strong commitment to controlling exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technologies.
  • The exceptional waiver provided by the NSG in 2008 was an acknowledgement of India’s non-proliferation record.

 

 

Why does India wants to become a member of NSG apart from above benefits?

  • It will improve legitimacy of India’s nuclear programme and India can sign nuclear deal with more countries for civilian use. 
  • India will become an active member in stopping the proliferation of nuclear material . Will get more information about how much nuclear material is possessed by which country. 2 of its neighbour are nuclear state which threat to India’s security. 
  • Many countries have refused to signed civil nuclear deal with India because it is not a signatory of NPT or not a member of NSG. Eg. Japan. For India’s energy security Nuclear reactors are necessary.

 

 

What is the status of India?

  • India has sought NSG membership since 2008.
  • As 48 member NSG works by consensus, not majority, India is reaching out to every possible country.
  • Earlier:
    • NSG asked India to sign NPT before it could be admitted
    • India demanded that it should be recognised as a “nuclear weapon state”
  • Now:
    • Softening of stance.
    • Instead of signing NPT, India has to align its civil nuclear safeguards with NSG guidelines.
    • There has been growing appreciation for Indian nuclear controls and capabilities since 2008.
  • The US has reaffirmed its support to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and said it has called on other members of the elite grouping to back New Delhi’s application
  • But, China supporting Pakistan’s membership in NSG. When NSG decides on India’s membership it would open the way for other non-NPT states like Pakistan and Israel as well.

 

China’s stance:

  • China says India’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is pre-requisite for its membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or else there should be a common guidelines for the membership of the non-NPT states.
  • India has refused to sign the NPT citing the discriminatory provisions which provide undue advantages to the nuclear weapon designated states.

 

Reasons cited by China for opposing India’s Bid

China justifies its stand by citing the following justifications:

  • There should be no double standards in enforcing the NPT.
  • NPT is the cornerstone for the international nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and post-war international security system.
  • China has played important role in all the three aspects and China is committed to all three important goals of the treaty.
  • The international community should stick to multilateralism and promote progress the three pillars namely non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Hence China opposes double standards in enforcing the treaty.

 

Is there a hidden agenda?

  • All the members of P5 except China have endorsed India’s membership of NSG e based on India’s non-proliferation record.
  • After India’s application to the NSG, Pakistan also applied for the same. Pakistan is also a non-signatory to the NPT. Pakistan dubious record and its alleged role in technology transfer to North Korea have put a black mark in its track record.
  • Pakistan is a close ally of China and China is demanding a two-step approach which states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the group and then move forward discussions of specific cases.
  • This insistence of China has become a roadblock in attaining the membership of the NSG.

 

China’s history in this regard:

China has itself violated nuclear non-proliferation treaty in past and continues to do so:

  • After India’s 1974 atomic test, China signed a nuclear pact with Pakistan in 1976, which facilitated the transfer of nuclear weapons technology and missile production capabilities to Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • In a violation of NSG guidelines, China has sold additional nuclear power reactors to Pakistan. China has now encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership and complicate India’s own efforts.

 

What is India’s response to China’s claim?

France was included in the elite group without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  India says, if France could become part of NSG, then India Can.

 

Why India did not join NPT?

India was one of the founder member of disarmament movement. But when NPT got finalised, India opposed it due to its discriminatory nature. India supports nuclear disarmament which will be possible when 5 recognised nuclear states commit themselves to destruct their nuclear stockpile. But, NPT allows them to keep their nuclear stockpile. NPT only restricts proliferation of nuclear technology. So, as per India, NPT divides world in nuclear haves and have-nots, which India opposes.

 

Indias nuclear non-proliferation record :

  1. India has maintained an exceptional record in nuclear non-proliferation despite not being any under legal obligation. India had been an ardent supporter of complete nuclear disarmament in all major international floras such as NAM, UN etc.
  2. It has maintained a strong commitment to controlling exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technologies.
  3. After 1998 nuclear tests when India became a nuclear weapon state, India tightened its systems further by introducing new laws and for nearly a decade, has been a voluntary adherent to the NSG guidelines.
  4. It has been a voluntary adherent to the NSG guidelines for last one decade.
  5. The exceptional waiver provided by the NSG in 2008 was an acknowledgement of India’s non-proliferation record.
  6. India pledged to subject its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and currently 14 out of 23 nuclear reactors are already under IAEA safeguard.
  7. Autonomous institute like AEC to keep strict vigil on nuclear facilities; advanced security provisions in nuclear sites; stable democracy with diffused decision making power 

Also, India’s need for developing nuclear weapons is not driven by any misguided agenda to pursue regional dominance or to strong arm neighbouring states, but by pragmatic realization of threat from China and Pakistan, both nuclear powered states, one communists and other failed democratic state in the immediate neighbourhood. India has also committed to the policy of no-first use.

 

 

How India’s entry into NSG is good for the cause of non-proliferation?

  1. India has declared moratorium on the underground nuclear weapons testing which is in accordance with the spirit of NPT. This shows that India has abided by the non-proliferation rules even without being a party to NPT.
  2. India has carefully drafted its Nuclear Doctrine and has mentioned no first use, second strike capability and a policy of minimum deterrence at the core. This means India will not use its nuclear weapons unless it faced a nuclear attack. The development of INS Arihant and India’s Ballistic Missile Defence system shows that India believes in defensive strategies rather than first strike capability.
  3. India has also signed an additional protocol with IAEA which allows it access to all the civilian nuclear facilities and activities
  4. India may be today restricted by its meagre uranium reserve, but it has the technical capacity to use its abundant Thorium reserves. It will not be long before India loses interest in joining NSG. That will be a blow to non-proliferation effort.
  5. India has technological capacity to work independently. This makes India still more vital to non-proliferation efforts