Q.1 With reference to Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation (SCO), consider the following
1. It is a Eurasian political, economic, and
security alliance founded in 2001.
2. It is mainly aimed at cooperating against
non-traditional security challenges like
terrorism, separatism, and extremism.
3. India is a founder member of the
Which of the above statements are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Q.2 Which of the following statements is a feature
of gig economy?
(a) An economy whose gross national product
or gross domestic product to a large extent
comes from natural resources.
(b) An economy that has no trade activity
with outside economies.
(c) An economy that is too dependent on
unreliable foreign investment to finance
its growth ambitions.
(d) An economy where flexible jobs are
common place and companies tend
toward hiring independent contractors
and freelancers instead of full-time
Q.3 Logistics Performance Index is published by:
(a) World Economic Forum
(b) World Bank
(c) International Monetary Fund
(d) World Trade Organisation
FOREIGN ENVOYS VISIT TO KASHMIR
A 15-member foreign envoys’ delegation arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and met over 100 people, including senior Valley-based politicians, top newspaper editors and grassroots representatives.
They were seeking feedback on the ground situation post the revocation of the State’s special status, Pakistan’s attempts at interference and the immediate demands of the people.
During their interactions with politicians, local editors and elected grassroots leaders, the envoys posed pointed questions on the revocation of Article 370 and wanted to know if Pakistan was making attempts to interfere, delegates at the meetings told The Hindu.
There was a common demand for restoration of Internet services, they added.
The foreign envoys, mainly from South American, African and Asian nations, held a closed-door interaction with a group of prominent politicians led by Altaf Bukhari, fast emerging as the face of a non-NC, non-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) third front.
CENTRAL RESERVE POLICE FORCE
NEWS: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has withdrawn the security cover of DMK president M.K Stalin and Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Mr. Stalin had Z-category security cover and Mr. Panneerselvam had Y-category proximate security cover, provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the largest of India’s Central Armed Police Forces.
It functions under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India.
The CRPF’s primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency.
It came into existence as the Crown Representative’s Police on 27 July 1939.
After Indian Independence, it became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28 December 1949.
CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde said the country was already going through difficult times and an endeavour should be made to maintain peace.
The CJI made the oral comments while hearing a petition seeking an “aggressive” implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which fast-tracks benefits of citizenship to illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to six minority religions but denies the same treatment to Muslims.
WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?
The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.
The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.
NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to carry out a study within four months to ascertain whether advance batch automated plants can address pollution caused due to burning of waste tyres in pyrolysis industries.
A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the CPCB to carry out the study with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.
Pyrolysis is a method of recycling old tyres through a thermochemical treatment under high temperature to produce industrial oil and other matters.
National Green Tribunal was formed under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010. Act was enacted under the India’s constitutional provision of Article 21 which assures the citizens of India the right to healthy environment.
Tribunal has been created for effective and expeditious disposal of the cases relating to environmental protection and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.
Tribunal is mandated to make endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals filing within 6 months of the filing of the same.
Chairman of the tribunal must be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or judge of the Supreme Court of India.
The tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice.
New Delhi is the principle place of sitting of the tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkatta and Chennai are other four places of sitting of the tribunal.
Present NGT Chairperson is Justice (Retired) Adarsh Kumar Goel.
TIGER RESERVE IN GOA
Activists and politicians from Goa have demanded that certain areas in wildlife sanctuaries of the State be notified as ‘tiger reserve’.
The demand has come following the death of four tigers in Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary of Sattari taluka in North Goa district in the last few days.
In 2017, the State government had sent a proposal to the Centre according to which, about 500 sq km area of Mahadayi, Netravali and Cotigao sanctuaries and some part of Mahaveer National Park was to be selected and marked as ‘tiger reserve’, considering the presence of the striped animals in those places.
FIRST EDITORIAL: LIBERALIZATION OF COAL MINING
WHY IN NEWS?
Through the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 central government has liberalised norms for entry into coal mining and relax regulations on mining and selling coal in the country.
Until now there were restrictions on who could bid for coal mines — only those in power, iron and steel and coal washery business could bid for mines — and the bidders needed prior experience of mining in India.
ADVANTAGE OF THIS MOVE?
This will free the sector from restrictions that were inhibiting its development.
This will open up the coal mining sector completely, enabling anyone with finances and expertise to bid for blocks and sell the coal freely to any buyer of their choice.
The ordinance essentially democratises the coal industry and makes it attractive for merchant mining companies, including multinationals such as BHP and Rio Tinto, to look at India.
Large investment in mining will create jobs and set off demand in critical sectors such as mining equipment and heavy commercial vehicles.
The country may also benefit from infusion of sophisticated mining technology, especially for underground mines, if multinationals decide to invest.
The move was overdue considering that the country spent a huge ₹1,71,000 crore in coal imports last year to buy 235 million tonnes; of that, 100 million tonnes was not substitutable, as the grade was not available in India, but the balance 135 million tonnes could have been substituted by domestic production had it been available.
CIL is a Maharatna PSU and tremendous public resources have been invested in the company over the years. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that CIL is not compromised the way BSNL has been by the opening up to private players. The company employs about three lakh people, is listed and is a national asset. It has to be nurtured even as private players are welcomed.
LEAD ARTICLE: INDIA LOOSING DEMOCRATIC STREAM
Author highlights that Modi government in its second term is putting fear in minority communities, which is also accelerating India’s economic decline and weakening New Delhi’s international influence.
CAA A BIG GEOPOLITICAL MISTAKE
For domestic appeasement, Home Minister Amit Shah and Mr. Modi brought forth a Bill that essentially accused three selected countries of discrimination against their Hindu, Jain, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi minorities. In one stroke, New Delhi distanced itself from the friendly state establishments of Dhaka and Kabul, and deepened the divide with Islamabad.
While no South Asian country is free of majoritarian discrimination, the concern of New Delhi’s rulers was clearly not the well-being of the minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have been in fact been made more vulnerable by the Act. The Indian authorities did not engage in sustained international effort to address the issue, such as through the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues. The appropriate approach here would have been to join the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, and to be open to foreigners of any faith or persuasion who seek refuge. To cherry-pick among non-citizens on the basis of religion was crass.
One must challenge India’s Home Ministry as to why the CAA ignored the larger number of Muslims of different sects enduring sectarian strife. These include Ahmadiyya and Shia, particularly Hazara, of Pakistan and Ahmadiyya and Bihari Muslims of Bangladesh. And why ignore the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India and the vulnerable Rohingya of Myanmar?
In reality, the adoption of the CAA is just a way-station on the Hindutva highway, which considers not just modern-day India but all of the notional ‘Jambudvipa’ as the Hindu homeland.
WHAT INDIA SHOULD HAVE DONE INSTEAD OF CAA?
India with its ancient-civilisational and modern-Gandhian heritage should have been framing the democratic response to myriad pressing issues, from global warming to nuclear weaponisation.
A confident, egalitarian-minded India would also have been leading the discourse on international migration and challenging China for its internment camps for Uighurs and for using facial recognition technology for surveillance.
HOW INDIA IS LOOKING TO THOSE OUTSIDE IT?
Looking at India from the outside, India seem a country that values mythology more than history and a society losing its scientific edge, its great universities being run to the ground. India under Mr. Modi is losing democratic steam, with its weakened courts, progressively politicised military, and a police force and investigating agencies that are willing instruments of power-brokers.
Amidst the gloom, one sees in the State-side reaction not only an immediate response to the CAA, but the glimmer of possibilities of a longer-term restructuring of the Indian state towards governance that is more accountable to the people. The centripetal force represented by Narendra Modi requires a centrifugal counter from the States of India.
SECOND ARTICLE: ROLE OF THE CHIEF OF DEFENSE STAFF
The announcement on a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) last year and the appointment of Gen. Bipin Rawat as the first CDS has been one of the key policy decisions made by the Narendra Modi government in its second term.
ROLE OF CDS
The CDS will be “first among equals” in that he will consult and solicit the views of the services, but the final judgment will be the CDS’s alone and he will be the principal military adviser to the Defence Minister.
The role here will be confined to the acquisition matters exclusive to each service and won’t extend to the procurement of big-ticket items such as warships or fighter aircraft, which will remain under firm control of the Department of Defence (DoD).
The CDS is also vested with the authority to provide directives to the three chiefs.
Additionally, the CDS will lead the Department of Military Affairs (DoMA) dealing with the three services.
While the CDS does not enjoy any command authority, in his capacity as DoMA, he will wield control over issues governing promotions, travel, appointment to key posts, and overseas assignments.
Consequently, the CDS will enjoy a substantial amount of influence. He will also perform an advisory role in the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). Above all, his core function will be to foster greater operational synergy between the three service branches of the Indian military and keep inter-service frictions to a minimum.
THREE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR CDS
First, there are concerns over matters relating to service parochialism, though there have been no initial indications in this regard. If he privileges support for the Army, his parent service, he is likely to put himself on a collision course with the Naval and Air Force chiefs.
Second challenge is fostering better cooperation between the MoD bureaucracy and the services and ensuring that projected and planned acquisitions of the services do not exceed capital allocations.
The final challenge facing the CDS will be the extent to which he can encourage the services to support indigenisation. Cost saving is not simply about reducing manpower in the Army, it is equally about getting all the services, particularly the capital-intensive services, to rally behind a committed enterprise to support the native Research and Development for production and eventual deployment of weapons systems, which when procured from abroad drive a massive hole in the budget.
SECOND EDITORIAL: WILDFIRE IN AUSTRALIA
Australia’s catastrophic fire has caused large scale destruction, mainly in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland.
Fire this year has devastated over 10 million hectares of land, killing at least 25 people and tens of millions of animals, besides forcing the evacuation of entire communities.
Shocking images of kangaroos burnt in their tracks as they tried to flee and koalas desperately escaping the fire are indelibly imprinted in the consciousness of people around the world. This is a moment of reckoning for Australia.
The government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has sought to downplay the impact of changing climate, is struggling to pacify angry citizens who are calling for a reconsideration of the country’s relationship with fossil fuels.
The current fire season presents a cross-roads, and a wise choice would be to move to a greener future, one that strengthens an already diverse economy through innovation.
The situation is bound to worsen without policy change, as temperatures are predicted to soar to 50°C. Over the past half century, the number of hot days and very hot days each year have steadily increased. It would be tragic if this scientific insight is ignored. Long-term prosperity for Australians and a future for its charismatic animals can be secured only through policies that foster environmental protection.
ISSUE: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO AVOID PLAGIARISM IN RESEARCH PAPERS?
Substantial copying of text from previously published papers and even paraphrasing without due citation are quite common in papers published from India, particularly from state universities.
The introduction of plagiarism-checking software in most universities and compulsory checking for plagiarism prior to paper publication by most journals has largely addressed the problem.
Unlike plagiarism, journals have woken up to inappropriately altered images and manipulation only since the early 2000s.
In India, dozens of papers with questionable images have been published by researchers from a few Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs, and reputed institutions such as IIT-Dhanbad, the Indian Institute of Science, and Bose Institute. It is far worse in the case of state universities.
The magnitude of the problem can be judged by scanning the largest database of retracted papers maintained by the Retraction Watch blog. The blog reveals that of the 1,050 papers from India retracted since the 1970s, 330 have been for plagiarism and nearly 200 for image duplication and/or manipulation.
If UGC is serious about teaching research and publication ethics, it should make scientific conduct and publication ethics separate courses with sufficient teaching hours or retain it as a single course and devote more time to teach research ethics and include image preparation as part of the course.
INSURANCE REGULATORY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF INDIA
NEWS: IRDAI has imposed a penalty of ₹1 crore on Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company (Chola MS) holding that the firm had violated certain provisions of corporate governance guidelines for insurers.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is an autonomous, statutory body tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India.
It was constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999, an Act of Parliament passed by the Government of India.
The agency’s headquarters are in Hyderabad, Telangana.