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Daily News Analysis 27-10-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Tunisia to help rescue Indians (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Tunisian Foreign Minister told that India and Africa will work together in the coming years for a common response to emergencies stemming from terrorism and insecurity.

2.

We need to talk about the Brahmaputra (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)    India and China need to engage in co-managing the regions rivers and ensure that development is not impeded by unnecessary posturing on the sensitive issue of water.

3.

Russian ships near cables concerns US (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some US military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

4.

South Sudan one step short of famine (Page 14)

a)     International

a)    According to food security body (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification), the worlds newest state is under a serious risk of famine before the end of his year if urgent humanitarian access is not provided.

5.

Indian historiography under threat (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     History

a)    Since independence Indian historians have revisited all the assumptions of colonial historiography; religious identities were no more the determining element. History was no longer mono-causal but multifaceted to include social and economic structures.

6.

Re-envisioning the collegium (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The true worth of the NJAC judgment will be tested only when the Supreme Court implements the urgent reform that is needed in the collegium system.

7.

Barbaric indeed (Page 10)

a)     National

b)    Polity

a)     When judges assume messianic roles while seeking to act on perceived outrage, it may result in inventive remedies but not necessarily achieve complete justice.

8.

After IAF, Navy opens its doors to women pilots (Page 12)

a)     National

a)     After the Air Force opened its doors to women fighter pilots, the Navy has decided to follow suit. However, they will be shore-based for the moment, because infrastructural needs have to be addressed.

 

 

 

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Tunisia to help rescue Indians (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Africa relations

b)     India – Tunisia relations

c)     Terrorism

d)     Arab Spring

e)     Libyan and Syrian crisis

f)     Al-Qaeda

g)     Islamic State (IS)

a)     Tunisian Foreign Minister told that India and Africa will work together in the coming years for a common response to emergencies stemming from terrorism and insecurity.

b)     Elaborating on the joint approach to counter-terror, he said that India and Tunisia had set an example by working on these areas together, especially when Tunisia helped India evacuate citizens from Libya in 2011 during the peak of civil war which overthrew Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

c)     He said that Tunisia was aware that Indians had been targeted in Libya repeatedly by violent gangs and Al Qaeda-linked groups and would step in whenever India required to help citizens in distress.

d)     He said India and Tunisia had a lot in common due to the inherent secularism and democratic traditions. These were the same traditions that brought Arab Spring to Tunisia and prevented the country from sliding into anarchy as was the case in Libya and Syria.

e)     Tunisia expected a quick end to the Libyan and Syrian civil wars and hoped the UN would help resolve such crises.

2.

We need to talk about the Brahmaputra (Page 11)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China relations

b)     Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Cooperation Framework

c)     Brahmaputra river system

d)     YarlungZangbo (Tsangpo) river

a)The operational commissioning of the Zam Hydropower Station earlier this month on the YarlungZangbo river (also known as the Zangmu Hydropower Project) located in Gyaca county of the Shannan prefecture in China, and considered to be Tibets largest such facility, has raised fresh concerns in downstream India, especially in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

b)   India had information about Beijings plans of developing hydropower on YarlungZangbo for over five years now, with other projects such as Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu in different stages of planning/construction.

c)     The reading of Sino-Indian diplomatic engagement over the transboundaryYarlungZangbo (Tsangpo)-Brahmaputra river system has largely been through the lens of suspicion and lack of information/data sharing on the shared river system. Any bilateral govt-to-govt interactions on the Brahmaputra are shrouded in bureaucratic secrecy, overshadowed by the baggage of the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict and the ensuing territorial contestations over Arunachal Pradesh.

d)    It is time for both India and China to go beyond specifics of project sanctioning and commissioning announcements, and look at the larger issues facing Brahmaputra basin as a whole, investing in multilateral intent and spirit. We need to understand how the existing inequality in riparian relations of power can be addressed politically and economically, especially in the Brahmaputra case, where both countries are regional competitors, while the co-riparian countries of Bangladesh and Bhutan stagnate in the list of Least Developed Countries.

e)     Therefore, India and China need to move towards a framework of engagement and dialogue on Brahmaputra, as a precursor to any negotiation. The dialogue needs to be inclusive, providing a platform to various stakeholders and identify new approaches to address the common problem.

f)     The dialogue must address the concerns of various stakeholders and sub-national units within the respective riparian countries. The success of internal dialogue processes will depend on how much of a voice sub-national units such as Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have in influencing New Delhis engagement and dialogue with Beijing on the river.

g)     An attempt must be made through the dialogue to bring together the interconnected research on rivers, infrastructure building and other related aspects, ranging from politics, engineering, geology, economics, social scientists, hydrologists, environmentalists, activists forums, local stakeholders, which is now missing.

h)     The MoUs and Expert-Level Mechanisms currently existing between India and China on hydrological data sharing are key building blocks, as information sharing between countries are a critical phase to any negotiation process.

i)     Sub-regional cooperation groupings such as the BCIM Cooperation Framework can create an enabling environment for mutually inclusive sub-regional participation and water resources sharing. The BCIM process can support and lead research on country specific infrastructure projects, their impact on local eco-systems, the riverine communities and other local stakeholders.

j)India and China need to engage purposively in co-managing the rivers of the region, and thereby ensure that the development of the region is not impeded by unnecessary posturing on the sensitive issue of water, which can impact other bilateral issues.

k)     The totality of Sino-Indian bilateral relations and mutual economic cooperation would largely depend on how they handle the issue of water, which will become even more scarce, given huge population growth in both countries, and in downstream Bangladesh.

3.

Russian ships near cables concerns US (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Russia – US relations

b)     Cold War

a)   Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some US military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

b)     The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables - a task US intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago.

c)     While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior US and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by Russian armed forces around the globe.

4.

South Sudan one step short of famine (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     South Sudan crisis

b)     Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)

c)     Internally Displaced Persons

 

a)    According to food security body IPC, the worlds newest state is under a serious risk of famine before the end of his year if urgent humanitarian access is not provided.

b)     Hunger has grown steadily worse since a 2013 political crisis led to fighting between President SalvaKiirsDinka people and ethnic Nuer forces loyal to former Vice-President RiekMachar.

c)     The army and rebels accuse each other of breaking an internationally-brokered August 26 ceasefire, the 8th such agreement. The 22-month civil war has been marked by atrocities and accusations of war crimes, including the blockading of food supplies.

d)     The IPC said famine had not been officially declared because it was hard to get data from conflict zones. IPC classifies hunger on a scale of one to five.

e)     The most affected populations are the Internally Displaced Persons and the host communities affected by the conflict. The war has resulted in loss of livelihoods, income, assets, inadequate food access, market disruption and high prices.

5.

Indian historiography under threat (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     History

a)     Indian historiography

b)     Vedic period

c)     Islamic hijri era

d)     British rule

e)     Colonialism

f)     Marxism

a)    According to the author, the old colonial notion that ancient Indians had no sense of history has by now been blown to bits by outstanding scholars like V. S. Pathak and RomilaThapar. They have also established that ancient India drew its sense of the past from a vast range of sources, of which religious texts were one, and that its understanding of the past differed radically from the Western notions of history.

b)     RomilaThaparscrutinises the vast corpus of Vedic texts, the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, the itihas-purana traditions, the Buddhist and Jain canonical texts, hagiographies, biographies, inscriptions, chronicles and theatrical compositions like the Mudrarakshasa to form her database and arrives at conclusions which frontally challenge received wisdom from the West.

c)     Come medieval India and a new genre of history comes alive. These histories (more like court chronicles, titled Tawarikh, plural of tarikh which denotes both date and history) followed strict codes of chronological and spatial location of an event and were narrative rather than analytical in content, although a certain view point always inheres in any narrative account. There was an interesting dichotomy as part of the narrative.

d)     The framework that enclosed the tawarikh was largely derived from Islam, which not only brought a new religion to the world but also a new concept of history. The chronological framework that was almost invariably followed was that of the Islamic hijri era, with exception of AbulFazl, Akbars courtier and historian.

e)     AbulFazl abandoned it in favour of Ilahi era (created to commemorate Akbars accession to the throne) and disengaged history writing from the axis of Islam. At any rate, AbulFazl had rather a low opinion of the hijri era. Within this overall chronological framework, historians were more particular about locating each event in the precise year of reign of each ruler whose deeds formed their main narrative.

f)     More important, they did not look at history as a branch of Islamic theology, unlike their European counterparts. In medieval Europe, histories composed by church fathers, the only literate class, perceived all historical events as manifestations of Gods will. For them the past, present and future - all constituted part of Gods grand design in which nothing happened haphazardly, even as these appeared so to human beings.

g)    On the other hand, in medieval India, historical events are treated as individual, independent events and not part of a grand pattern, and historical causation is established in human volition and at best human nature.

h)     We are thus introduced to strong or weak rulers, liberal or orthodox rulers and the complete history of their reigns only unfolds their nature. Best examples: Muhammad bin Tughlaq (his nature consisting of contradictory qualities), Akbar (liberal), Aurangzeb (orthodox). Diversity necessarily inhered in the explanation since no two persons, not even rulers, would possess the same nature.

i)     It was James Mill who metamorphosed the entire, long history of ancient and medieval India, divesting it of all its diversities by making religious identity of the rulers, instead of their nature, the central category for understanding the past; all diversity of explanation was lost to the uniformity of the religious identity of all rulers, whether Hindu or Muslim.

j)    His History of British Rule (published in 1818) created the tripartite division of Indias past into the Hindu, the Muslim and British periods. As a Utilitarian and as a colonialist par excellence, he had contempt for religion and emphasised that prior to British rule, India was mired in religious obscurantism with no worthwhile achievement to its credit; thus the Indians ought to be thankful to the colonialists for setting them on the path of progress.

k)    Since then the tripartite division has remained operative in the teaching of history in India and even when the nomenclature was altered to Ancient, Medieval and Modern, first by Stanley Lane-Poole in 1903, the basis of division remained the same until around the early 1960s. Religious identity and religious conflict were clearly central analytical categories in this history.

l)     Fundamental to it was the assumption that colonialism was the harbinger of modernity to India, as it was to the rest of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This view was shared by almost all European thinkers during the 18th and 19th centuries from Montesquieu to Karl Marx, even as their modes of thought as well as their sympathies were as different from one another.

m)     From the late 1950s and 60s, Indian historians began to revisit all the assumptions and categories of historiography handed down to them by colonialism. A few of the historians who fundamentally revised colonial history writing were committed Marxists and many more were not. It is the Marxists who questioned even Marxs understanding of Indias past, including his notion of the Asiatic Mode of Production.

n)     Religious identities were assigned their due priority in the saga of change, but were no more the lone, determining element. History was no longer mono-causal but multifaceted. Sights were moved from individual character of rulers to social and economic structures, technology and trade as the motors of change, uprisings of peasants and artisans against the states exploitative excesses. A threshold had been crossed.

o)    The categories created by colonialism have been abandoned even by the British scholars as a consequence of interaction with Indian historians. But the present regime (guided and controlled by the RSS) is still sticking to them with unprecedented fervour. Ironically, the Hindutva brigade touts its claim to Indianising Indian history as a giant step towards cleansing it of colonialist (and Marxist) pollutants.

6.

Re-envisioning the collegium(Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)    National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)

b)     Collegium System

c)     Supreme Court

d)     High Court

a)    Everyone in legal fraternity is weighing in on whether the recent Supreme Court judgment on the NJAC drew a sound conclusion. This debate will continue for some time. Indeed, the Courts rejection of even the constitutional amendment containing the idea of an NJAC was unexpected.

b)     According to the author, the collegium solved problems of excessive executive intervention in appointments, as well as the systematic court packing practiced by govts. Despite good intentions, the collegium also has many faults. It lacks transparency and provides for no oversight due to which there are no checks or balances on judiciary. Choosing judges based on undisclosed criteria in largely unknown circumstances has led to an increasing democratic deficit.

c)     Recognising these failings is a welcome introspective measure. The object of revisiting the collegium should be single-minded: to remove patronage from the system, and to ensure that judges are appointed according to rational and objective criteria, and nothing else.

d)     Most urgently, the criteria for selecting judges must be delineated. Considerations for appointment to the higher judiciary are numerous, and go beyond the minimum criteria prescribed in the Constitution. These must be pre-determined. Appointments cannot be left to the whims and fancies of the collegium of the day.

e)     Publishing clear selection rules and guidelines also entails abandoning the unwritten informal rules that presently hold sway. Under the informal seniority norm (in place since 1993), High Court CJs are routinely elevated to Supreme Court on the basis of seniority, rather than on merit or other objective qualifications, leading to mediocrity and a decline in judicial standards.

f)     Another unwritten rule (the minimum age for appointments to High Courts (45 years), and Supreme Court (55 years)) has perpetuated the misconception that age and maturity are necessarily tied together. The Law Commission of Indias 14th Report (1958) on judicial reforms observed that young judges would bring a freshness and vigour to constitutional courts. The appointment of older judges (particularly in the Supreme Court) comes with shorter tenures, which threatens the Court with institutional incoherence and consequent ineffectiveness.

g)   Instead, the collegium could fix a zone of consideration while shortlisting candidates for elevation, for example, by considering the senior most five judges in High Courts. This zone should also apply for elevating service and district judges to High Courts.

h)     The notion of a legitimate expectation of a judicial career has no place in appointments to superior courts. Instead, merit should be the main criteria for selection, which will change the incentives for judges, and directly impact the quality, speed and efficacy of adjudication.

i)     A consultative body suggested by Justice Khehar would be useful, which could include distinguished jurists, leading lawyers, or judges outside the collegium, to assist the collegium in scrutinising potential candidates.

j)   A truly democratic judiciary must represent the people it judges. Indian courts operate like closed country clubs, which is their major failing. Diversity is as important as merit and ability. This means not just representation from women, but also from backward classes and minorities.

k) The collegium must become fair, transparent and open, to counter allegations of opaqueness and lack of accountability. When a vacancy arises, the collegium must (in collaboration with consultative body) shortlist candidates for interview. The collegium must conduct interviews with the solitary objective of searching for the most meritorious and outstanding candidate.

l)     Two other issues are important. First, the different retirement ages of judges in High Courts (62 years) and the Supreme Court (65 years) encourages sycophancy and unhealthy competition amongst prospective appointees. It must be removed, and brought at par (ideally, this may go up to 70).

m)     Second, many judges receive post-retirement appointments from the govt (the largest litigant), thus incentivising sitting judges to curry favour with the govt of the day. A 2-3 year cooling off period must be introduced, to ensure that judges are not independent only in fact, but are also seen as being independent of the executive.

n)     The NJAC judgment is important not only because it retains the collegium, but because it recognises its present failings. Its true worth will be tested only when the Supreme Court implements the urgent reform that is needed, absent which existing problems will get further entrenched.

7.

Barbaric indeed (Page 10)

a)     National

b)    Polity

a)     Castration

b)International Covenant on Civil Political Rights

 

a)     When judges assume messianic roles while seeking to act on perceived outrage, it may result in inventive remedies but not necessarily achieve complete justice. It is not unusual these days to find some of them traversing beyond the remit of the cases before them and seeking to find or suggest solutions to many of societys crimes and ills.

b)     In the Madras High Court, one has seen recent instances of a judge suggesting mediation between a victim and the perpetrator of a rape, another laying down that mere sexual relations amount to marriage, and one prescribing pre-marital potency tests to prevent divorces happening.

c)     The latest is the suggestion of Justice N. Kirubakaran that castration be made an additional punishment for child rape. Significantly, he himself acknowledges that this would be criticised as being barbaric and retrograde, but yet goes on to say that barbaric acts require barbaric punishments.

d)     But this is out of character with Indian jurisprudence as well as known canons of modern criminal justice. For one thing, the principle of proportionality of punishment is a limiting norm that militates against excessive punishment, and is not an eye-for-an-eye rule.

e)    Secondly, civilised systems have moved away from retributive sentencing, especially from ideas such as torture, decapitation, mutilation and chopping off of parts of the body as forms of punishment. It may also be counter-productive if castration is added as a form of punishment as it may deter foreign courts from allowing the extradition of offenders to face trial in India.

f)     The judges suggestion is not qualified as chemical castration in the operative part of the judgment. To be fair, he has listed the countries and some States in the US that do have provision for chemical castration, or the injection of drugs that reduce testosterone levels and control libido and it is not a suggestion that has not been made in the past.

g)     The Justice J.S. Verma Committee (which in 2013 recommended far-reaching changes to criminal law to protect women from sexual offences) also received suggestions to that effect. However, it had noted that the effects of chemical castration were temporary, and repeated monitored doses at regular intervals may be required. It will violate human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights, which bars cruel and unusual forms of punishment.

h)     There can be no magical results in curbing crimes against women, unless there is transformation in society and its very thought process. The rising rate of sexual crimes against children in the country is indeed alarming, but that is not reason enough for courts of law to advocate medieval forms of punishment.

8.

After IAF, Navy opens its doors to women pilots (Page 12)

a)     National

a)     Gender inequality

b)     Indian Air Force

c)     Indian Navy

d)     Indian Army

 

a)     After the Air Force opened its doors to women fighter pilots, the Navy has decided to follow suit. However, they will be shore-based for the moment, because infrastructural needs have to be addressed.

b)     The army and the Navy are also looking at appointing women in combat roles.

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