The Hindu Newspaper 08th June 2020

1)Consider the following statements with respect to STRIDE Scheme

  1. This scheme aimed at strengthening research culture and innovation in universities and colleges of the country.
  2. It was launched by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.  1 only
  • b.  2 only
  • c.  Both 1 and 2
  • d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : c

  • University Grants Commission (UGC) has recently launched the Scheme for Trans-disciplinary Research for India’s Developing Economy’ (STRIDE) scheme.
  • It aimed at strengthening research culture and innovation in universities and colleges of the country.
  • It will provide support to research projects that are socially relevant, locally need-based, nationally important and globally significant.

2)Go Tribal Campaign sometimes seen in the news recently aims to?

  • a.  Impart vocational training to tribal youths
  • b.  Promote tribal’s education in global universities
  • c.  Selecting potential tribal youths for Olympic Games
  • d.  Promote tribal arts, crafts in global markets

Answer : d

  • Organised by the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), the ‘Go Tribal’ campaign will promote and make available tribal handcrafted textiles, jewellery, and other accessories through global online market spaces.

3)With respect to Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), consider the following statements

  1. It divides the Korean Peninsula into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the north and Republic of Korea on the south. 
  2. It was created in 1949 after the end of the Second World War.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  • a.  1 only
  • b.  2 only
  • c.  Both 1 and 2
  • d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : a

  • The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) divides the Korean Peninsula into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the north and Republic of Korea on the south.
  • Recently, Donald Trump becomes the first serving American President to visit the area.
  • The DMZ was created after the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement, which ended the Korean War.

News:-All About NIA :- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.

It is a central agency to investigate and prosecute offences:

  • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.
  • It implements international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.

It’s objective is also to combat terror in India.It acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. Headquarters: New Delhi

Branches: Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur and Jammu.

Goals of NIA:-

  • To execute in-depth professional investigation of scheduled offences using the latest scientific methods of investigation.
  • Upholding the constitution of India and laws of the land.
  • Prime importance to the protection of Human Rights and dignity of the individual.
  • Developing a professional workforce through regular training and exposure to the best practices and procedures.
  • Ensuring effective and speedy trial.
  • Maintaining professional and cordial relations with the governments of States and Union Territories and other law enforcement agencies in compliance with the legal provisions of the NIA Act.
  • Assist all States and other investigating agencies in the investigation of terrorist cases.
  • Build a database of all terrorist-related information and share the database available with the States and other agencies.
  • Study and analyse laws relating to terrorism in other countries and regularly evaluate the adequacy of existing laws in India and propose changes as and when necessary.

Scheduled Offences:-The schedule to the Act specifies a list of offences which are to be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.

These include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Need of NIA:-

The terrorist incidents are found to have complex inter-State and international linkages, and possible connection with organised crime, for example, the smuggling of arms and drugs, circulation of fake Indian currency etc.

The agency at the Central level was created for investigation of offences related to terrorism and certain other Act post-2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Mandate of NIA:

  • The cases are assigned to the NIA by the Central Government in accordance with section VI of the NIA Act, 2008.
  • The investigation of the cases is done by the Agency independently.
  • After investigation, the cases are placed before the NIA Special Court.
  • For prosecuting the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other scheduled offences, the Agency seeks the sanction of the Central Government.
  • The sanction is granted under the UAPA based on the report of the ‘Authority’ constituted under section 45 (2) of the UAPA.
  • It is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • Smuggling and Terror Funding

The amendments to the NIA Act has brought the offences related to the smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency under the definition of a terrorist Act.

To curb various aspects of terrorist financing, a Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell (TFFC) has been created in the NIA.

The Cell maintains a database of terror financing and cases of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).

TFFC also conducts a part investigation into terror financing aspects of regular cases investigated by the NIA.

TFFC Cell conducts verifications of bank accounts of the suspects that are linked with Naxalite groups.

There is an exclusive Left Wing Extremism (LWE) cell to effectively deal with cases related to terror financing aspects of Naxalite groups.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reviews the manpower, financial and infrastructure requirements of NIA from time to time.

Recent Amendment :-

The NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament amending the original Act of 2008.

The Bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following additional offences:

  • Human trafficking
  • Offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes
  • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
  • Cyber-terrorism, and
  • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908

Jurisdiction of the NIA

The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India.

The officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.

The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases as if the offence has been committed in India.

The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.

Special Courts:-The Central Government for the trial of Scheduled Offences, constitute one or more Special Courts under Section 11 and 22 of the NIA Act 2008.

Composition: Special Court shall be presided over by a judge to be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The Central Government may, if required, appoint an additional judge or additional judges to the Special Court, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.

Jurisdiction of Special Courts:

The Special Courts have all powers of the court of sessions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Where any question arises as to the jurisdiction of any Special Court, it shall be referred to the Central Government whose decision in the matter shall be final.

The Supreme Court can transfer a case pending before a Special Court to any other Special Court within that State or any other State in some exceptional cases where it is not feasible to conduct a peaceful, fair, impartial and speedy trial.

Similarly, the High Court has the power to transfer a case pending before a Special Court in a State to any other Special Court within that State.

Issues in the Recent Amendments:-

Under schedule VII of the Constitution, the maintenance of public order and police forces are matters of state list.

However, Criminal law forms part of the concurrent list and national security comes under the domains of union list.

The Central government gets the authority to have the NIA take over the investigation of crimes, which involve allegations of human trafficking, offences under the Explosives Act, and certain offences under the Arms Act.

However, not every criminal offence in the above act is a threat to national security and sovereignty and consequently, states have the competence to deal with the same.

The Amendment Bill puts Section 66F of the Information Technology Act into the Schedule listing offences.

Section 66F deals with cyber terrorism.

But India does not have a data protection act and there is no definition of cyber terrorism.The amendment to the NIA Act also gives the agency authority to investigate crimes committed by persons which are against Indian citizens or “affecting the interest of India”.

However, the term “affecting the interest of India” is undefined and can be misused by governments to curb freedom of speech and expression. Further, the laws, under which the NIA has the authority to investigate, themselves do not mention “affecting the interest of India” as an offence.

News:- What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources. It is frequently a component of other, much more serious, crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery or extortion.   

According to the IMF, global Money Laundering is estimated between 2 to 5% of World GDP.

How Money Laundering works?

It involves three steps: placement, layering and integration.

  • Placement puts the “dirty money” into the legitimate financial system.
  • Layering conceals the source of the money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping tricks.
  • In the case of integration, the now-laundered money is withdrawn from the legitimate account to be used for criminal activities

Impacts of Money Laundering:-

Economic Impacts:

  • Undermines legitimacy of private sector
  • Undermines integrity of financial markets
  • Loss of control of economic policy
  • Economic distortion and instability
  • Loss of revenue
  • Security threats to privatisation efforts
  • Volatility in exchange rates and interest rates due to unanticipated transfers of funds
  • Rise of economic prices
  • Affects trade and international capital flows

Social Impacts:

  • Increased criminality
  • Decreases human development
  • Misallocation of resources
  • Affects trust of local citizens in their domestic financial institutions
  • Declines the moral and social position of the society by exposing it to activities such as drug trafficking, smuggling, corruption and other criminal activities

Political Impacts:

  • Initiates political distrust and instability
  • Criminalisation of politics

Steps Taken by Government of India to Prevent Money Laundering:-

Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance (XXXVIII of 1944): It covers proceeds of only certain crimes such corruption, breach of trust and cheating and not all the crimes under the Indian Penal Code.

The Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976: It covers penalty of illegally acquired properties of smugglers and foreign exchange manipulators and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985: It provides for the penalty of property derived from, or used in illegal traffic in narcotic drugs.

Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA):-

  • It forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat Money Laundering.
  • The provisions of this act are applicable to all financial institutions, banks(Including RBI), mutual funds, insurance companies, and their financial intermediaries.

PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012:-

  • Adds the concept of ‘reporting entity’ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc.
  • PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit.
  • It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities.
  • Financial Intelligence Unit-IND: It is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister.

Enforcement Directorate (ED):

It is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.

One of the main functions of ED is to Investigate offences of money laundering under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002(PMLA).

It can take actions like confiscation of property if the same is determined to be proceeds of crime derived from a Scheduled Offence under PMLA, and to prosecute the persons involved in the offence of money laundering.

India is a full-fledged member of the FATF and follows the guidelines of the same.

Global efforts to combat Money Laundering:-

The Vienna Convention: It creates an obligation for signatory states to criminalize the laundering of money from drug trafficking.

The 1990 Council of Europe Convention: It establishes a common criminal policy on Money Laundering.

G-10’s Basel Committee statement of principles: It issued a “statement of principles” with which the international banks of member states are expected to comply.

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO): It encourages its members to take necessary steps to combat Money Laundering in securities and futures markets.

The Financial Action Task Force: It has been set up by the governments of the G-7 countries at their 1989 Economic Summit, has representatives from

24 OECD countries:-

  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council
  • The European Commission

It monitores members’ progress in applying measures to counter Money Laundering.

The famous Forty Recommendations are given by FATF.

IMF: It has pressed its 189 member countries to comply with international standards to thwart terrorist financing.

The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime: It proactively tries to identify and stop Money Laundering.

News:- GCC AND OPEC:- What is Gulf co-operation Council (GCC)?

The GCC is a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian Peninsula. It was established in 1981 to foster socioeconomic, security, and cultural cooperation.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are its members.

They gather every year to discuss cooperation and regional affairs

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of 13 nations. Founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), it has since 1965 been headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

IGNORE ECUADOR AND QATAR ( BOTH LEFT OPEC)

News :- COVID-19 delays delivery of India’s first VVIP Planes:- The wait for the country’s first ever VVIP planes has become slightly longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aerospace manufacturer Boeing has sought an extension of two months from Air India to finish renovating two of the airline’s B 777300 ER planes for use by the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister.
The two brand new planes joined the Air India fleet in early 2018 and returned to Boeing’s headquarters in Dallas FortWorth in the U.S. six months later so that the passenger aircraft could be completely overhauled.

News:- An adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Chitrangada goes digital

Editorial of the Day :-

Importance of the Persian Gulf 

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Analyzing the geopolitical significance of the Persian Gulf which is characterized by the political relations.

Persian Gulf:                                 

  • It is a shallow marginal sea of Indian Ocean that lies between the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Iran.
  • Shared by: Eight countries (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).
  • Geo-political importance: They are the major producers of crude oil and natural gas.

History of the region:

  • Prior to 1970: 
  • This body was a closely guarded British lake for eight decades which was administered by imperial civil servants from India.
  • After 1970: 
  • Regional players started asserting themselves. According to US State Department report (1973) the main problem is the Saudi-Iranian cooperation is being undercut by psychological, nationalistic and prestige factors.
  • American Hegemony: It was ensured by Nixon and the Carter Doctrines.
  • Collective Security:It was attempted in a conference in Muscat in 1975 which was thwarted by Baathist Iraq.
  • The Iranian Revolution (1979): It put an end to the Twin Pillar approach and disturbed the strategic balance.
  • The Iraq-Iran War: It enhanced U.S. interests and role.
  • Security Council through Resolution 598 (1987): It has to explore ‘measures to enhance the security and stability in the region’.

Contemporary situation in Persian Gulf:

  • The fault lines between the GCC and the US: 
  • Containing Iran: The US has been cooperated by the Arab states of the region (except Iraq) to contain Iran.
  • Aggravation of geopolitical factors: The other conflicts in the West Asian region — Yemen, Syria, Libya has aggravated global and regional relationships and hampered the relations between the U.S.-Iran. It was based on the multilateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme agreed to by western powers and the Obama Administration.
  • Armed conflict: The region has been subject to armed conflict due to changed policies of the Trump administrations. Such as cancelling nuclear agreement with Iran.
  • Changing priorities: The US commitment to sub regional security has declined which have caused disquiet in some members of the GCC. As the GCC security concern is based on an American insurance to deter it.
  • An evolving transformation in GCC:
    • Common Threat Perception: 
    • It has been hampered by the emergence of conflicting tactical and strategic interests of different nations. Such as the problems in the OPEC and the decline in oil prices.
    • Emerging shape of the region:
    • Saudi Arabia is a fading power, UAE, Qatar and Iran are emerging as the new regional leaders and Oman and Iraq will have to struggle to retain their independent identities.
  • Individual arrangements:
  • Pragmatic approach: Oman has lines of communication with Iran openly; Kuwait and Qatar had done same and now the UAE has initiated pragmatic arrangements.
  • Costly alternatives: The Record has shown that the alternative of exclusive security arrangements promotes armament drives, enhances insecurity and aggravates regional tensions.

All framework for the region should aims at ensuring:

  • Conditions of peace and stability in individual littoral states.
  • Freedom to all states of the Gulf littoral to exploit their hydrocarbon and other natural resources and export them.
  • Freedom of commercial shipping in international waters of the Persian Gulf.
  • Freedom of access to, and outlet from, Gulf waters through the Strait of Hormuz.

India’s Relation with the Persian Gulf:

  • Geographical and historical: 
  • The governments in the Gulf are India-friendly.
  • Trade: The bilateral trade between India and GCC is of around $121 billion and remittances of $49 billion from a workforce of over nine million.
  • Import for India: GCC suppliers account for around 34% of our crude imports and national oil companies in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are partners in a $44 billion investment in the giant Ratnagiri oil refinery.
  • Saudi Aramco is reported to take a 20% stake in Reliance oil-to-chemicals business.
  • Importance of Iran: 
  • Complex India-Iran relationship:Particularly due to overt American pressure.
  • Resources: Iran neighbours Turkey and some countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region. Its size, politico-technological potential and economic resources can be useful for India.

Way Forward

Indian interests lie in the totality, peace and regional stability and access to the region’s markets in terms of trade, technology and manpower resources.

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