Q.1 The Chairman of which of the following committee is invariably from the members of the ruling party?
- Committee on Public Undertakings
- Public Accounts Committee
- Estimates Committee
- Committee on Delegated Legislation
Q.2 The institution of Lokayukta was created for the first time by the state of
Q.3 Which of the following writs is not specifically provided in the Constitution of India?
- Quo Warranto
APPOINTMENT OF SUPREME COURT JUDGES
NEWS: Two hundred and thirteen names recommended for appointment to various High Courts are pending with the government/Supreme Court Collegium, the Supreme Court said in a judicial order.
At least the names on which the Supreme Court Collegium, the High Courts and the governments had agreed upon should be appointed within six months, the order said.
If recommendations of the High Court Collegium meet with the approval of the Supreme Court Collegium and the government, at least their appointments must take place within six months. This is not to say that in other cases the process should not be completed within six months
Collegium was coined by the Supreme Court in Third Judges Case 1998. Supreme Court opined that while tendering his advice to the President for appointing SC judge Chief Justice of India should consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice of India along with four senior most judges of the Supreme Court constitute collegium.
CASES THAT LED TO THE FORMATION OF COLLEGIUM: Formation of collegium took place after Supreme Court gave its decision with respect to controversy surrounding consultation in appointment of Supreme Court judges.
In the First Judges Case (1981) Supreme Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies exchange of views.
In the Second Judges Case (1993) Supreme Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence. Hence it ruled that the advice tendered by the Chief Justice of India is binding on President matters of appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court. But the Chief Justice would tender his advice on the matter after consulting two of his seniormost colleagues.
In the THIRD JUDGES CASE (1998) Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice requires “plurality of judges”. The sole opinion of Chief Justice of India does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a COLLEGIUM of four senior most judges of Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion he should not send the recommendation to the government.
CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2019
NEWS: An 11-hour shutdown against the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill disrupted large swathes of the northeastern States on Tuesday, with protesters resorting to violence in some places and clashing with the police.
Several people, including security men, were injured as protesters damaged vehicles and shops in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.
In Tripura, the government ordered suspension of Internet and SMS services for two days as paramilitary personnel opened fire in the air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse violent protesters in some areas.
WHAT DOES THE BILL CONTAINS?
The Bill 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 purpose of the Bill says that it will enable acquisition of Indian citizenship by persons who were forced to seek shelter in India due to persecution or fear of it on grounds of religion and will extend the facility to the class of persons presently facing hardships and difficulties in acquiring citizenship.
The Bill 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 Bill 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).
Citizens of other States require ILP to visit the three States as per the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Manipur has been exempted from the Bill and will be placed under Inner Line Permit States.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT
NEWS: An RTI activist and leader of an anti-liquor movement, Abhimanyu Panda, 54, was shot dead in broad daylight at Baliguda in Odisha’s Kandhamal district on Tuesday.
ABOUT RTI ACT 2005
An act to provide right of information to citizens
to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
The constitution of Central Information Commission and State Information Commission.
This Act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir(but now also in J and k).
INFORMATION : means any material in any form, including recored, docuements, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, Contracts,Reports.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY: means any authority or body or institution of self government established or constituted by
Body owned controlled or substantially financed
NGO substantially financed
1.Section 3: RTI is for all the Indian Citizens
2. Section4: IT is duty of every public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the RTI under this Act.
3. Section 6: Application for seeking the information may be made in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area along with the fees prescribed by CPIO and SPIO
4. Section 7: information has to be provided within 30 days. If information concerns the life and liberty of person then information should be provided within 48 hours.
5. Section 8: Certain grounds on the basis of which information might be denied.
6. Section 19: First Appeal (30 days) and Second Appeal (90 days) to CIC and SIC.
7. Section 20: Empowers the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission as the case may be a penalty of Rs 250 each day till application is received or information is furnished, however total amount of such penalty shall not exceed 25,000 rupees.
8. Section 24: Act does not apply to Intelligence and Security Agencies.
NEWS: Why no protection for persecuted Rohingya Muslims, ask settlers
Who are Rohingya?
Rohingya are an ethnic group, largely comprising Muslims, who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine. They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language.
Though they have been living in the South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during the Colonial rule. So, it has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship.
According the HYPERLINK “https://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/burma/burm005-02.htm”1982 Burmese citizenship law, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1823. Else, they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens” (even if one of the parent is a Myanmar citizen).
Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within the Rakhine state.
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
NEWS: To improve India’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, different government bodies in Delhi are taking the online route and also interacting with stakeholders such as architects following directions from the Centre.
Different departments are also working to make various processes in starting businesses easier, said officials.
In Delhi, the municipal corporations are meeting architects and other professionals, who are also consulted by the World Bank before deciding on the ranking, to know why they have given an adverse review of the government in terms of obtaining construction permits. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal also took a review meeting of the same on Tuesday.
ABOUT EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
Ease of Doing Business is an indicator published by World Bank and is meant mainly as the effect of government regulations on running a business.
India’s ranking rose by 14 places to 63 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 survey is a positive development.
India also figures in the top ten most improved countries in the world for the third consecutive year.
From being ranked 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2020, it has been a significant upward journey for the country in a rank list that is an important input in the plans of global investors.
PARAMETERS ON WHICH EASE OF DOING BUSINESS INDEX IN BASED
Following 10 parameters are considered for Ease of Doing Business Index:
Starting a Business
Obtaining construction permits
Getting an electricity connection
Protection of Investors
Trading across Borders
Enforcement of Contracts
MID DAY MEAL SCHEME
The Midday Meal Scheme comes under the HRD Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.
Launched in the year 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme, it provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I- V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class), free of charge every day except on school holidays.
The scheme covers all government and government aided schools and also Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST GOOGLE
NEWS: In a shock for online platforms like Google, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that internet intermediaries cannot be protected from criminal defamation cases registered against them prior to October 27, 2009.
It was only on October 27, 2009 that Parliament amended the Information Technology Act of 2000 to protect online intermediaries from liability for criminally defamatory content published in them by third parties.
The amended Section 79 of the 2000 Act provided that “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him.” The amendment gave almost blanket protection to intermediaries from legal action under Section 499/500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
What is defamation?
According to section 499 of IPC, whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter expected, to defame that person.
Section 499 also cites exceptions. These include “imputation of truth” which is required for the “public good” and thus has to be published, on the public conduct of government officials, the conduct of any person touching any public question and merits of the public performance.
Section 500, which is on punishment for defamation, reads: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
In India, defamation is both civil and criminal offence. The remedy for civil defamation is covered under the Law of Torts. In a civil defamation case, a person who is defamed can move either High Court or subordinate courts and seek damages in the form of monetary compensation from the accused. Also, under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, a person guilty of criminal defamation can be sent to jail for two years.
NEWS: India on Tuesday proposed that developed countries make good commitments on providing finance to developing countries by 2023, instead of 2020.
According to Mr. Javadekar, India is on its way to achieving voluntary targets it has set for itself to curb emissions.
He was stating India’s position at the 25th Session of the Conference of Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP25), currently under way.
ABOUT KYOTO PROTOCOL
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the “Marrakesh Accords.” Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.
During the first commitment period, 37 industrialized countries and the European Community committed to reduce GHG emissions to an average of five percent against 1990 levels. During the second commitment period, Parties committed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 18 percent below 1990 levels in the eight-year period from 2013 to 2020; however, the composition of Parties in the second commitment period is different from the first.
The Kyoto mechanisms are:
“International Emissions Trading
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
Joint implementation (JI)
ELECTORAL BOND SCHEME
NEWS: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had not objected to the issuance of electoral bonds through the State Bank of India (SBI).
Replying to a supplementary during the Question Hour on electoral bonds through the SBI, the Finance Minister said that being a stakeholder, the RBI was involved in extensive consultations with the government at the stage of conceptualisation.
ABOUT ELECTORAL BOND SCHEME
The electoral bonds scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017 with an aim for increasing transparency in political funding.
It makes India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for electoral funding.
These bonds are bearer instrument in nature of promissory note and interest-free banking instrument.
It aims at rooting out current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to generation of black money in the economy.
These electoral bonds can be bought for any value in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore after fulfilling all existing Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and making payments from bank account.
It will not carry name of payee.
The bond deposited by any eligible political party to its account shall be credited on the same day.
No payment shall be made to any payee political party if bond is deposited after expiry of validity period.
Eligible political parties can encash electoral bonds only through their bank accounts.
Electoral Bonds may be purchased by only citizen of India or an entity incorporated in India.
An individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
Electoral Bonds are valid for fifteen calendar days from the date of issue.
Only registered political parties, that have secured not less than 1% of votes polled in last election of Lok Sabha or legislative assembly of state, will be eligible to receive electoral bonds.
The cash donation has been capped at Rs. 2000 and beyond that donations are via electoral bonds.
NEWS: India’s decision to leave the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was not taken at the last minute, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament, in a statement, on Tuesday while defending the government’s decision to quit the 16-nation Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the ASEAN and other countries.
In his statement to the upper house, Mr. Goyal listed several reasons for the government’s call on RCEP, including the trade deficits India faces with 12 of the 15 RCEP partners it already has FTAs with, and blamed the UPA government for not negotiating the pacts more favourably for Indian companies.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN countries and five Asia Pacific states (China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea) with which ASEAN countries have FTA.
RCEP was proposed in 2012 ASEAN meeting in 2012.
First RCEP summit was held in 2017 in Manila Philippines.
RCEP is considered as an alternative to TPP that includes many Asian and American countries but excludes India and China.
MAJOR AREAS OF CONCERN
Whenever India has rushed into an FTA negotiation, trade deficits have always widened after signing free-trade-agreements. India already has high trade deficit with China and many countries in the bloc like South Korea and Australia.
Indian markets could become dumping ground for Chinese products
India’s insistence on lower services investment and visa barriers for its professionals is not making headway.
126th CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL
NEWS: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019, which continues the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for another 10 years, till January 25, 2030.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad noted that the quota in legislatures was required to build a new political leadership of the two communities. The Bill was passed with 352 members in favour and none against.
The reservation for Anglo-Indians in the form of “nomination” is set to expire on January 25 as the Bill does not extend the facility to the community.
Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution respectively provide for reservation of seats in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the legislative assemblies of the States.
INNER LINE PERMIT
NEWS: Even as the Lok Sabha debated the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on Monday, the Nagaland government extended the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to Dimapur, the commercial hub of the State.
The decision makes it mandatory for “every non-indigenous person” who entered the district after November 21, 1979, to obtain an ILP within 90 days.
The notification said non-indigenous persons living in Dimapur prior to November 21, 1979, would have to produce documents as evidence to get a certificate from the Deputy Commissioner for exemption from the permit system.
ABOUT INNER LINE PERMIT
Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside certain states, to obtain such a permit.
At present, the ILP is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. In Manipur, large scale protests have called for its implementation for years.
Under the ILP system, a certificate can be issued to outsiders only for travel in the areas covered by ILP. A non-resident also cannot buy property in these areas.
INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
NEWS: Mass rapes, the burning alive of Muslim Rohingya families in their homes and the killing with knives of dozens of children were described by Gambia’s legal team as it set out its genocide case against Myanmar at the U.N.’s highest court on Tuesday.
Myanmar’s leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi looked on impassively as the alleged atrocities were detailed on the first of three days of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The case was instituted by Gambia against Buddhist-majority Myanmar in November.
What is it?
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN. Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice,
It has two primary functions:
to SETTLE LEGAL DISPUTES submitted by States in accordance with established international laws,
and to ACT AS AN ADVISORY BOARD on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.
The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs vote simultaneously but separately. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.
What are the qualifications of ICJ judges?
A judge should have a high moral character.
A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.
A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.
The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:
Three from Africa.
Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
Three from Asia.
Five from Western Europe and other states.
Two from Eastern Europe.
CLIMATE CHANGE PERFORMANCE INDEX
NEWS: The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are among major polluters showing “hardly any signs” of reducing their greenhouse gas production, a global assessment of countries’ emissions trajectories said on Tuesday at United Nations climate talks.
The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) measures the emissions, renewable energy share and climate policies of 57 countries and the European Union.
It found the U.S. ranks last, followed by Saudi Arabia and Australia, although several countries did report falls in emissions last year, largely due to an industry-wide fade out of coal.
China, the world’s largest single emitter, was found to have taken “medium action” due to its high investment in renewables.
India, for the first time, ranks among the top 10 in this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) presented on Tuesday at the COP25 climate summit here.
The current levels of per capita emissions and energy use in India, ranked 9th in the “high category”, are still comparatively low and, along with ambitious 2030 targets, result in high ratings for the green house gas emissions and energy use categories, said the report released here in the Spanish capital.
NON PERFORMING ASSETS
NEWS: State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, under reported ₹11,932 crore of bad loans in the financial year 2018-19, according to a Reserve Bank of India inspection report. This has pushed the bank into losses for the said financial year.
According to a filing with the exchanges, SBI had reported ₹1,72,750 crore of gross non-performing assets in FY19, while according to RBI’s risk assessment report (RAR), it was ₹1,84,682 crore.
WHAT ARE NPAS?
Generally speaking, NPA is any asset of a bank which is not producing any income.
In other words, a loan or lease that is not meeting its stated principal and interest payments.
On a bank’s balance sheet, loans made to customers are listed as assets. The biggest risk to a bank is when customers who take out loans stop making their payments, causing the value of the loan assets to decline.
Loans don’t go bad right away. Most loans allow customers a certain grace period. Then they are marked overdue. After a certain number of days, the loan is classified as a nonperforming loan.
Banks usually classify as nonperforming assets any commercial loans which are more than 90 days overdue and any consumer loans which are more than 180 days overdue.
Interest and/ or instalment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days in respect of a term loan.
The account remains ‘out of order’ in respect of an Overdraft/Cash Credit (OD/CC).
The bill remains overdue for a period of more than 90 days in the case of bills purchased and discounted.
The instalment of principal or interest thereon remains overdue for two crop seasons for short duration crops.
The instalment of principal or interest thereon remains overdue for one crop season for long duration crops.
1. Sub-standard: When the NPAs have aged <= 12 months.
2. Doubtful: When the NPAs have aged > 12 months.
3. Loss assets: When the bank or its auditors have identified the loss, but it has not been written off.
FIRST EDITORIAL: INSTANT REWARD
ISSUE: DEFECTORS WINNING THE KARNATAKA BYPOLL
Instant reward, not punishment, is what people willed for Karnataka lawmakers who defected from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to the BJP and sought a fresh mandate in by-elections held on December 5.
With the BJP winning 12 of the 15 seats to which by-elections were held, the party now has 117 MLAs and a comfortable majority in the Assembly.
Sixteen of the 17 MLAs who defected were promptly admitted to the BJP, and 13 were fielded as its candidates. The Chief Minister hinted on Monday that at least 11 of the 12 winners would be given ministerial berths.
What rankles is the fact that there is now a Karnataka model of achieving a majority by engineering an adequate number of by-elections through highly questionable means. In the present instance, it is legitimised by the voters but that is no reason to overlook the undermining of democratic processes
The setback could trigger changes in the Congress also. Party chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah have resigned their respective posts. The party should reflect deeply on its character and strategy as an alternative to the BJP. Political opposition without a foundational ideological basis cannot be the answer.
LEAD ARTICLE:WHOLLY SUBORDINATED TO THE IDEA OF MAJORITARIAN NATION
ISSUE: CREATION OF SAVARKAR’S INDIA THROUGH NRC AND CAB
Author argues that NRC and Citizenship Amendment will create the India of Savarkar idea’s based on the religious identity.
The idea that nation is not territorial, but cultural, was the core of Savarkar’s treatise.
Author highlights that though a group of sedate political experts were hallucinating a delink between Narendra Modi and Hindutva in 2014, he was clear in his promises and has been true to them in government.
WHAT IS THE CORE OF HINDUTVA?
The non-territorial notion of citizenship and nationhood, is the core of Hindutva.
While the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 (CAB) seeks to enact as law the notion of India as the home for all Hindus anywhere, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) seeks to weed out those who are already in the territory but are not part of the nation, as per Savarkar’s doctrine, echoed in numerous resolutions and statements of the BJP and its forebear, the Jan Sangh.
WHAT MUSLIMS CAN DO TO LIVE IN INDIA AS PER THIS IDEOLOGY?
Muslims may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen’s rights.”
This understanding of nationhood and citizenship is reflected in the government’s move to end the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, and demote and divide the region into two Union Territories.
Past appears to be returning, not as a haunting nightmare as it should be, but heralded as the promised glorious future. What makes Hindu majoritarianism more effective is its doctrinaire legacy, supported by texts and enforced by a quasi-military cadre.
SECOND ARTICLE: A PATENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL PIECE OF LEGISLATION
ISSUE: CRITICISM OF THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL 2019
Author highlights that Parliament had enacted the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide the basis for citizenship. Under this Act religion was not a relevant criteria under the 1955 Act.
This position is now sought to be changed through the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (CAB) that seeks to amend certain provisions of the 1955 Act.
Author has raised TWO QUESTIONS with regard to Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019
Whether in a country like India, with a secular Constitution, certain religious groups can be preferred in acquisition of citizenship. Especially when secularism has been declared to be a basic feature of the Constitution in a multitude of judgments.
The classification of countries and communities.
First to the countries. The basis of clubbing Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh together and thereby excluding other (neighbouring) countries is unclear. A common history is not a ground as Afghanistan was never a part of British India and always a separate country. Being a neighbour, geographically, is no ground too as Afghanistan does not share an actual land border with India. More importantly, why have countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, which share a land border with India, been excluded?
The reason stated in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the Bill is that these three countries constitutionally provide for a “state religion”; thus, the Bill is to protect “religious minorities” in these theocratic states. This reason does not hold water. Why then is Bhutan, which is a neighbour and constitutionally a religious state — the official religion being Vajrayana Buddhism — excluded from the list? In fact, Christians in Bhutan can only pray privately inside their homes. Many Bhutanese Christians in the border areas travel to India to pray in a church. Yet, they are not beneficiaries under CAB.
Further, if religious persecution of “religious minorities” in the neighbourhood is the concern, then why has Sri Lanka, which is Buddhist majority and has a history where Tamil Hindus have been persecuted, been excluded?
Why is also Myanmar, which has conducted a genocide against Muslim Rohingyas, many of who have been forced to take refuge in India, not been included? The CAB selection of only these three countries is manifestly arbitrary.
On the classification of individuals, the Bill provides benefits to sufferers of only one kind of persecution, i.e. religious persecution. This itself is a suspect category. Undoubtedly, the world abounds in religious persecution but it abounds equally, if not more, in political persecution. If the intent is to protect victims of persecution, there is no logic to restrict it only to religious persecution.
Further, the assumption that religious persecution does not operate against co-religionists is also false. Taslima Nasreen of Bangladesh is a case in point.
WHY AHAMADIYAS ARE BEING LEFT OUT?
Restricting the benefits of “religious minority” to six religious groups (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians) is equally questionable. Ahmadiyas in Pakistan are not recognised as Muslims there and are treated as belonging to a separate religion. In fact, because they are seen as a religion that has tried to change the meaning of Islam, they are more persecuted than even Christians or Hindus. If the avowed objective of CAB is to grant citizenship to migrants on the basis of religious persecution in their country of origin, the absence of Ahmadiyas from the list makes things clear.
CAB is devoid of any constitutional logic, as explained above. But it does have a sinister political logic. By prioritising Hindus in matters of citizenship as per law, it seeks to make India a Hindu homeland, and is the first de jure attempt to make India a Hindu Rashtra. If India is to stay a country for Indians and not for Hindu Afghans, Hindu Pakistanis and Hindu Bangladeshis and eventually for Hindu Russians, Hindu Americans, CAB should not be passed in Parliament.
SECOND ARTICLE: IRAQ’S AUTUMN OF DISCONTENT
ISSUE: SITUATION IN IRAQ
WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN IRAQ?
Recently, Iraq has been crippled by agitations led by youth railing against an inapt and corrupt leadership. They are frustrated because of unemployment, decaying civic amenities, and foreign domination.
On December 1, the Iraqi Parliament accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister throwing the country into a fresh bout of political instability.
Iraqis’ discontent is rooted in reality. In 2018, Iraq’s oil exports were $91 billion, or over $6 a day for each citizen. Yet, over 41% of population lived below the poverty line of $3.2/day.
Two years after the defeat of the IS, millions of internally displaced Iraqis still await rehabilitation.
Iraqis also resent foreign hegemony, mainly by the U.S. and Iran. The attempts to burn down the Iranian consulates in Karbala and Najaf last month show popular antipathy.
WHAT COULD BE DONE?
To survive, Iraq’s ruling politico-religious elite would need a package addressing agitators’ basic demands and mitigating their distress. The new dispensation would need to be sectarian-light. To make a clean break from the current discredited system, Iraq will need a new electoral law or even a new Constitution. In a young democracy, it is important to create institutions sympathetic to the youth’s aspirations. The new leadership would also be under scrutiny for its nationalism.
WHY IRAQ IS IMPORTANT FOR INDIA?
One, Iraq is India’s largest source of crude. A protracted instability in Iraq would result in oil price rise.
Two, with direct bilateral trade of over $24 billion in 2018-19, Iraq is already a large market for India’s exports with sizeable potential for growth.
Three, in the 1975-85 decade, Iraq was the biggest market for India’s project exports; its post-conflict reconstruction requirement would be huge.
WHAT INDIA CAN DO?
Over the past 70 years, India has created such institutions suited for a multi-ethnic developing society. This makes it compatible to partner with Iraq. Moreover, India’s millennia-long civilisational ties with Mesopotamia give it a tradition of goodwill with all sections of Iraqi society. This legacy needs to be leveraged not only to help transform Iraq, but also revitalise India’s bilateral ties with this friendly country in the extended neighbourhood.
Additionally, India can also help Iraq in MSMEs, skill development, healthcare, education, and improved governance.
THIRD ARTICLE: CONGRESS AND PARTITION
ISSUE: WAS CONGRESS RESPONSIBLE FOR PARTITION?
The idea of religious identity being the basis for Partition has less to do with the Congress and more to do with the ardent advocates of a communal notion of nation-building — V.D. Savarkar of the Hindu Mahasabha and Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League. The Muslim League had a firm grasp on the political value of such an idea. Jinnah outmanoeuvred political opponents on his way towards establishing Pakistan.
By 1940, the germ of the idea, propounded initially in 1923 by Savarkar, had seized Jinnah’s imagination and was fuelled by events on the ground. From the beginning, both M.K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru rejected the idea.
When World War 2 broke out towards the end of 1939, Lord Linlithgow, the then Viceroy of India, did not receive the kind of support that he wanted from the Congress for war efforts, even though there were substantial differences of opinion on the way forward between Nehru and Gandhi. The Congress promised help, but with heavy caveats, including independence at the end of the war. On the other hand, Jinnah was far more canny, less conditional, and more tactical in extending his support.
Soon after Jinnah articulated the idea of Pakistan in the Lahore Resolution of 1940, the British endorsed the essence of it, thereby pushing the idea further into the realm of reality.
WHERE DID CONGRESS FAILED?
Congress failed in persuading either Jinnah to give up his separatist dream or in convincing the British to not help Jinnah take that path.
The short answer to Mr. Shah’s postulation is it was not Congress that caused the division along religious lines. It was the last to reluctantly go along, for want of a better alternative, all things considered.