Daily Analysis 4th September, 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

1. Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking (WUR) 2021

2. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (PIB)

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

3. Some of the gender identifiers in use (IE)

4. AIMA – Chanakya (Business Simulation Game) National Management Games 2020 (PIB)

C) International Relations

5. Nerve agent Novichok (IE)

D) Science and Technology

6. Explained: Two black holes merged billions of years ago. Why is this puzzling scientists? (IE)

7. FASTag: e-toll for the road (PIB)

E) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

8. Experts flag concerns on EIA notification (TH, pg 11)

9. Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and the Solid Waste Management Rules (TH, pg 1)

F) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

10. Right to Effective Education (TH, pg 1)

11. Permanently Commission Vs Short Service Commission (TH, pg 11)

12. Assam Rifles (TH, pg 1)

A) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

1. Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking (WUR) 2021

Context: India recorded its highest ever number of universities to qualify for the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking (WUR) 2021.

Analysis

  • A total of 63 universities from India qualified for the ranking, however, none could make it to the top 300.
  • China’s Tsinghua University becomes the first-ever Asian university to make the overall top 20.
  • The United States is the most represented country with entries in the top 200, followed by the UK and Germany.
  • UK’s University of Oxford retains top spot for the fifth consecutive year, however, the report noted that “UK’s status as a higher education superpower is under challenge, as institutions from Asia continue to impress.”

Top Indian universities

  • Among India varsities, the highest rank is occupied by IISc yet again, however, IIT-Delhi, Bombay, Madras which are top-rankers in the Indian ranking index were not there in the top slots.
  • This could be because the top seven IITs including Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Guwahati, Madras, Roorkee, and Kharagpur had boycotted the THE Ranking last year.
  • India has suffered from a lack of internationalisation within its institutions, which were not attracting as many global scholars, thinkers, or students as much as other countries.
  • India has suffered from a lack of internationalisation within its institutions, which were not attracting as many global scholars, thinkers, or students as much as other countries.

2. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (PIB)

Context: India’s Defence Minister is visiting Moscow from September 3-5, 2020 at the invitation of Defence Minister of Russian Federation to attend the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member States in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of victory in the World War II. 

Analysis

  1. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a free association of sovereign states that was formed in 1991 by Russia and 11 other republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Ukraine) that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, forming a new association to replace the crumbling Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). 
  2. The remaining former Soviet republics—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—declined to join the new organization.
  3. Following an escalation of hostilities between Russia and Georgia over the separatist region of South Ossetia, Georgia withdrew from the CIS.
  4. Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea led to the withdrawal of Ukraine’s membership from the CIS.
  5. In 2005, Turkmenistan withdrew from the CIS, and is now classified as an associate member.
  6. Afghanistan and Mongolia are Observer states.

The city of Minsk in Belarus has been designated as the administrative centre of the CIS.

  • The CIS’s functions are to coordinate its members’ policies regarding their economies, foreign relations, defense, immigration policies, environmental protection, and law enforcement.
  • Its top governmental body is a council composed of the member republics’ heads of state (i.e., presidents) and of government (prime ministers).
  • The CIS’s members pledged to keep both their armed forces and the former Soviet nuclear weapons stationed on their territories under a single unified command.

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

3. Some of the gender identifiers in use (IE)

  • The term cisgendered is used to define people whose gender identity matches the identity assigned to them at birth.
  • For transgender people, their sense of gender identity does not match the one assigned to them at birth.
  • For example, in case of a transman, birth identity is woman, but he himself identifies as man.
  • Trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) (recently used prominently for author JK Rowling) are feminists who deny that transwomen are women, and do not admit that the struggle for women’s rights should include support for transgender rights.

4. AIMA – Chanakya (Business Simulation Game) National Management Games 2020 (PIB)

Context: Team NTPC beats 112 organisations to emerge winner at AIMA – Chanakya (Business Simulation Game) National Management Games 2020.

Analysis

  • AIMA Chanakya National Management Games, an online Business Simulation Game conducted every year by AIMA (All India Management Association), is aimed at ensuring that participating executives from various industries get an introduction to the complexities of running an organisation and gain expertise and skills from this event.
  • The participants experience the complexities of running a company by focusing on resource management, market trends, cost analysis, product positioning, production planning, and inventory control.

C) International Relations

5. Nerve agent Novichok (IE)

Context: The Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok is back in the news. This time it is reported to been used to poison Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Analysis

  • Novichok nerve agents – also known as the “N-series” – were secretly developed by the former Soviet Union beginning in the 1970s.
  • Some Novichoks can be eight times as deadly as the US equivalent known as VX, the V-series agent that was used to kill North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam.

How do nerve agents work?

  • Novichoks work in the same way as other nerve agents, which disrupt nerve signals to the muscles by inhibiting an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase.
  • The gaps between nerve cells become flooded with acetylcholine, causing continuous contraction of the muscles.
  • Symptoms include convulsions (a sudden, violent, irregular movement of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles) and difficulty breathing.
  • Like other binary nerve gases, Novichok too is absorbed through the lungs or skin and interferes with the nervous system, leading to paralysis.
  • In November 2019, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) added Novichok to its list of banned toxins, in one of the first major changes to the treaty since it was signed in the 1990s.

Threat to the Gas pipeline

  • Germany is facing growing pressure to reconsider the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will take gas from Russia to Germany.
  • Nord Stream 2 is set to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline in carrying gas directly from Russia to Germany. It is more than 90% finished and due to operate from 2021

Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea

  • Recently, U.S. put sanctions against companies building a Russian natural gas pipeline to Germany that U.S. fears will give the Kremlin dangerous leverage over European allies.
  • The sanctions are opposed by the European Union (EU).
  • They target companies building the nearly $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea with the aim of doubling deliveries of Russian natural gas to Germany.
  • This pipeline was also delayed due to opposition from Denmark’s environmental activists and could not be completed before the U.S. sanctions kicked in.

Baltic Sea

  • Baltic Sea is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean, and separates the Scandinavian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe.
  • The largest expanse of brackish water in the world, the semi-enclosed and relatively shallow Baltic Sea is of great interest to scientists.
  • Although the great influx of river water and surface runoff, including spring snowmelt, causes an outflow of surface water into the North Sea, a deeper countercurrent of denser salt water flows into the Baltic.
  • The nine countries bounding the Baltic are Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany.
  • The Vistula and the Oder are among the major rivers which drain their water into the Baltic Sea.

D) Science and Technology

6. Explained: Two black holes merged billions of years ago. Why is this puzzling scientists? (IE)

Context: Billions of years ago, a collision between two black holes sent gravitational waves rippling through the universe.

  • In 2019, signals from these waves were detected at the gravitational wave observatory LIGO (United States) and the detector Virgo (Italy).
  • What has excited scientists, however, is the mass of one of the parent black holes, which defies traditional knowledge of how black holes are formed.

Analysis

What are Gravitational waves?

  • Gravitational waves are invisible ripples that form when:
  1. A star explodes in a supernova;
  2. Two big stars orbit each other; and
  3. Two black holes merge etc.
  • Travelling at the speed of light, gravitational waves squeeze and stretch anything in their path.
  • Gravitational waves were proposed by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity over a century ago.
  • It was only in 2015, however, that the first gravitational wave was actually detected — by LIGO. Since then, there have been a number of subsequent detections of gravitational waves.

Where did it come from?

  • Subsequent analysis suggested that GW190521 signal had most likely been generated by a merger of two black holes.
  • But these findings led to further questions. One of the two merging black holes falls in an “intermediate mass” range — a misfit that cannot be explained by traditional knowledge of how black holes form.

Why is it unusual?

  • All the black holes observed so far belong to either of two categories.
  • One category ranges between a few solar masses (one solar mass is the mass of our Sun) and tens of solar masses. These are thought to form when massive stars die.
  • The other category is of supermassive black holes. These range from hundreds of thousands, to billions of times that of our sun.
  • According to traditional knowledge, stars that could give birth to black holes between 65 and 120 solar masses do not do so — stars in this range blow themselves apart when they die, without collapsing into a black hole.
  • But in the merger leading to the GW190521 signal, the larger black hole was of 85 solar masses —well within this unexpected range, known as the pair instability mass gap.
  • It is the first “intermediate mass” black hole ever observed. (In fact, the smaller black hole too is borderline, at 66 solar masses.)
  • The two merged to create a new black hole of about 142 solar masses. Energy equivalent to eight solar masses was released in the form of gravitational waves, leading to the strongest ever wave detected by scientists so far.

How could the black hole of unusual mass have formed?

  • The researchers suggest that the 85-solar-mass black hole was not the product of a collapsing star, but was itself the result of a previous merger.

7. FASTag: e-toll for the road (PIB)

Context: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified draft notification to seek comments and suggestions from the stakeholders on making FASTag mandatory for old vehicles sold before 1st December, 2017.

  • Further, it is proposed to make having a valid FASTag mandatory while getting a new 3rd Party Insurance.
  • As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, FASTag had been made mandatory since 2017 for registration of new four wheeled Vehicles, and is to be supplied by the Vehicle Manufacturer or their dealers.
  • It had further been mandated that the renewal of fitness certificate will be done only after the fitment of FASTag for the Transport Vehicles. 
  • Further that, for National Permit Vehicles, the fitment of FASTag has been mandated since 1st oct 2019.

Analysis

What is FASTag

  • National Highways Authority of India has rolled out program for Electronic Toll Collection on Toll Plazas on National Highways to be called FASTag.
  • FASTag is a reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets you pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.
  • FASTag is linked to a prepaid account from which the applicable toll amount is deducted
  • The tag employs Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology and is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen after the tag account is active.
  1. RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes.
  2. Increasingly, RFID tagging is used in supply chain management as an alternative to bar code technology.
  3. Although more expensive to use than the bar code stickers, RFID tags don’t get dirty or fall off or require an unobstructed line-of-sight between the tag and the reader.
  • FASTag has a validity of 5 years.
  • From December 15, 2019, FASTag, a prepaid rechargeable tag for toll payments, on national highways will become mandatory for all vehicles.
  1. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a Gazette Notification according to which all four wheel motor vehicles sold on or after 1st December 2017 will have FASTags fitted on them by the manufacturer of the vehicle or its authorized dealer, as the case may be.
  2. In case of vehicles that are sold as drive away chassis without wind screen, FASTag will have to be fitted by the vehicle owner before it is registered.
  • FASTag is applicable for all categories, kinds, makes and types of vehicles.

Who is implementing this program?

  • Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) (a company incorporated by National Highways Authority of India) and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) are implementing this program.
  • Vehicle without valid FASTag entering FASTag lane will be charged double the applicable toll amount in cash.
  • Further, bank neutral FASTag “NHAI FASTag” have been launched for easy availability at petrol-pump and on e-commerce site Amazon.
  1. NHAI FASTag is a ‘bank-neutral’ FASTag i.e. no bank is pre-assigned to the FASTag at the time of purchase by customer.

Other benefits are:

  • (a) Environmental benefit:    
  1. Reduced air pollution,    
  2. Reduced use of paper                                                   
  • (b) Social benefit:                    
  1. Reduced toll payment hassles,     
  2. Analytics for better highway management,
  3. The centralised system provides authentic and real-time data to government agencies for better analysis and policy formulation.                               
  • (c) Economic benefit: 
  1. Reduced effort in management at toll plaza, 
  2. Reduced effort in monitoring centrally
  3. Plugging revenue leakages and reducing the cost of delays and fuel consumption, which is also likely to cut down the nation’s GDP loss.
  4. Cuts the cost of managing toll plazas.
  • (c) Economic benefit: 
  1. Reduced effort in management at toll plaza, 
  2. Reduced effort in monitoring centrally
  3. Plugging revenue leakages and reducing the cost of delays and fuel consumption, which is also likely to cut down the nation’s GDP loss.
  4. Cuts the cost of managing toll plazas.

What Lies Ahead?

  • In October 2019, the IHMCL and GST Network signed a memorandum of understanding for integrating FASTag with the e-way Bill system.
  • The arrangement has been made for a more efficient ‘track-and-trace’ mechanism involving goods vehicles.
  • It will also check revenue leakage at toll plazas.
  • The integration, which will become mandatory across the country from April 2020, will help revenue authorities check whether goods vehicles are actually headed to the specified destination.
  • Suppliers and transporters will also be able to keep track of their vehicles through SMS alerts generated at each tag reader-enabled toll plaza.
  • The Central government also plans to enable the use of FASTag for a range of other facilities such as fuel payments and parking charges.

E) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

8. Experts flag concerns on EIA notification (TH, pg 11)

Context: A group of Special Rapporteurs to the United Nations has written to the Centre expressing concern over the proposed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020.

Analysis

  • Special Rapporteurs are independent experts working on behalf of the United Nations.
  • They work on a country or a thematic mandate specified by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  • In their letter, the five experts say the proposed notification appeared to have clauses that obstructed people’s rights to a safe, clean and healthy environment.
  • These were the clauses that exempted several large industries and projects from public consultation — as part of the environment impact assessment process.
  • Environment Ministry Secretary, however, told that nothing in the proposed EIA, 2020 violated the UN Declaration of Human Rights and that the rapporteurs’ concerns were “misplaced”.
  • With regard to post facto clearances, the violation of not taking prior approval would be “punished as per law” and projects that were already running would be considered only on merit.

For details on draft EIA notification, refer to 11th August file.

9. Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and the Solid Waste Management Rules (TH, pg 1)

Context: SC has ordered the removal of slum clusters located within safety zones along railway tracks in Delhi within three months.

  • The court declared “no interference, political or otherwise, should be there” against their removal and even barred all other courts from interfering in this process.
  • This hearing was based on a report filed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which said Railways is not following the Solid Waste Management Rules.

Analysis

  • Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) is the Supreme Court-empowered body.
  • In exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and in pursuance of the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, EPCA has been set up by the central government.
  • It was constituted with the objective of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing and controlling environmental pollution in the National Capital Region.
  • The EPCA is also mandated to enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the city as per the pollution levels.
  • The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the Delhi NCR.

Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • These rules are the sixth category of waste management rules brought out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), as it has earlier notified plastic, e-waste, biomedical, hazardous and construction and demolition waste management rules.

Salient Features

  • These Rules are now applicable beyond municipal areas and will extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.   
  • The responsibility of generators has been introduced to segregate waste into three categories – Wet (biodegradable), Dry (non-biodegradable) and Domestic Hazardous waste (diapers, napkins, mosquito repellents, cleaning agents etc.)
  • The source segregation of waste has been mandated to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle.
  • The generator will have to pay ‘User Fee’ to the waste collector and a ‘Spot Fine’ for littering and non-segregation, the quantum of which will be decided by the local bodies. 
  • Waste processing facilities will have to be set up by all local bodies having 1 million or more population within two years.
  • Integration of waste pickers/ragpickers and waste dealers/Kabadiwalas in the formal system.
  • New townships and Group Housing Societies have been made responsible to develop in-house waste handling, and processing arrangements for bio-degradable waste.
  • Every street vendor should keep suitable containers for storage of waste generated during the course of his activity.
  • The developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, industrial park to earmark at least 5% of the total area of the plot or minimum 5 plots/sheds for recovery and recycling facility.
  • Construction of landfill on the hills shall be avoided. 
  • All manufacturers of disposable products such as tin, glass, plastics packaging etc. or brand owners who introduce such products in the market shall provide necessary financial assistance to local authorities for the establishment of waste management system.
  • Collect Back scheme for packaging waste: All such brand owners who sale or market their products in such packaging material which are non-biodegradable should put in place a system to collect back the packaging waste generated due to their production.  
  • All industrial units using fuel and located within 100 km from a solid waste based Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) plant shall make arrangements within six months from the date of notification of these rules to replace at least 5 % of their fuel requirement by RDF so produced.
  • Non-recyclable waste having calorific value of 1500 K/cal/kg or more shall not be disposed of on landfills and shall only be utilized for generating energy.
  • Collection and disposal of sanitary waste: The manufacturers or brand owners of sanitary napkins are responsible for awareness for proper disposal of such waste by the generator and shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products.
  • The rules have mandated bio?remediation or capping of old and abandoned dump sites within five years.
  • The Department of Fertilisers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers should provide market development assistance on city compost and ensure promotion of co?marketing of compost with chemical fertilisers.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture should provide flexibility in Fertiliser Control Order for manufacturing and sale of compost.

Do you know?

  • Solid waste generated in India in decreasing order: e-waste > hazardous waste > plastic waste > biomedical waste.

F) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

9. Right to Effective Education (TH, pg 1)

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether Andhra Pradesh can insist on making English the medium of instruction in schools and whether it will amount to depriving them of an effective education guaranteed to them under Article 21A (fundamental right to education) of the Constitution.
  • The Andhra Pradesh government approached the Supreme Court challenging the State High Court’s decision to strike down a government order of November 2019, which made English medium education compulsory from Classes I to VI in primary, upper primary and high schools under all managements from 2020-21. It was to be gradually extended to each further class from the consequent academic year. 

10. Permanently Commission Vs Short Service Commission (TH, pg 11)

Context: The Supreme Court declined to hear a plea by a batch of Short Service Commission women officers seeking benefits of permanent commission in the Army.

  • These officers completed 14 years of service only in March.
  • The court had held that only women officers who had completed 14 years of service before or by February 17 would be considered for permanent commission.
  • The court said any relief granted to this batch would open the floodgates for more such petitions.

Analysis

Supreme Court Judgment of February 2020

  • The Supreme Court in February 2020 has done away with all discrimination on the basis of years of service for grant of PC and allowed women to serve as permanently commissioned (PC) officers in 10 combat support arms and services of the Indian Army on a par with their male counterparts in all respects.
  1. A Permanent Commission means a career in the armed forces until one retires
  • It has also removed the restriction of women officers only being allowed to serve in staff appointments, which is the most significant and far-reaching aspect of the judgment.
  • It means that women officers will be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them: if women officers had served only in staff, they would not have gone beyond the rank of Colonel.
  • It also means that in junior ranks and career courses, women officers would be attending the same training courses and tenanting critical appointments, which are necessary for higher promotions.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted permanent commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.
  • The Indian Air Force was first among the three services to grant PC to SSC women officers. The Indian Army chose to appeal in the Supreme Court, citing reasons of peculiar service conditions and operational requirements.
  • In July 2020, the government issued formal sanction offering PC to women officers of the Indian Army.

Women in Army: Background of the case

  • The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992. They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
  • Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
  • In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
  • Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme, or to continue under the erstwhile WSES.
  • They were to be however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
  • While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers.
  • They were, thus, kept out of any command appointment, and could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.

11. Assam Rifles (TH, pg 1)

Context: Mizoram Chief Minister has asked the Assam Rifles to shift its base from the heart of State capital Aizawl to outskirts of the city at the earliest besides stepping up vigil along the border with Myanmar to check drug trafficking.

  • One of the battalions of the Assam Rifles, India’s oldest paramilitary force established in 1835 as the Cachar Levy, had moved to the State capital in 2019.
  • Shifting of Assam Rifles bases from urban centres in the Northeast has been a sentimental issue, as the paramilitary force is seen as a reminder of many a conflict.

Analysis

Central Armed Police Forces in India

  • Assam Rifles (AR)
  • Border Security Force (BSF)
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  • Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  • National Security Guard (NSG)
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
  1. Assam Rifles is the only paramilitary force which is not solely controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
  2. The Assam Rifles functions under the administrative control of the Home Ministry while the operational control lies with the Ministry of Defence (It is headed by Army personnel who come under the Ministry of Defence).
  3. At present, it fulfils the dual role of maintaining internal security in the North-eastern region and guarding the Indo-Myanmar Border.
  4. The HQs of all the Central Armed Police Forces are located at Delhi, except that of Assam Rifles (AR) which is at Shillong.

History of Assam Rifles

  • The Assam Rifles was formed under the British in 1835 by the name of Cachar Levy to assist the British rulers in maintaining peace in the Northeast.
  • Its Battalions rendered great service by assisting the British in Europe and West Asia during the World War I.
  • These battalions were then renamed Assam Rifles. They continued to be regular armed police battalions, but with the ‘Rifles’ tag, which was a matter of honour for their competence, on par with any regular Army battalion.

Why dual control?

  • It was after the Chinese aggression in 1962 in Arunachal Pradesh that the Assam Rifles battalions were placed under the operational control of the Army.
  • Assam Rifles personnel who were acclimatised to the region were better suited for operations then.
  • It needs to be remembered that one of the major causes for India’s defeat was the fact that the regular Army units were not used to the extreme weather.
  • The decision taken then was in keeping with the requirements. This is not the case anymore.
  • All Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are acclimatised to almost every region of the country now due to country-wide deployment of all CAPF battalions.
  • The operational role performed by the ITBP at 18,700 feet in Ladakh is testimony enough to its capability to guard the border in any part of the country.
  • If ITBP can guard the India-China border in Ladakh, there is no reason why it cannot guard the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh and beyond.
  • The concept of having two masters for an organisation — one for administrative control and another for operational control — is not only absurd but also leads to problems of coordination. Therefore, the Home Ministry’s move to merge all its 55,000-strong Assam Rifles with the ITBP is a step in the right direction.

Opposed to the move

  • The Army argues that the Assam Rifles should be merged with it, to ensure national security.
  • It requires no wisdom to conclude that the Army would lose its promotional avenues once this paramilitary force is merged with the ITBP, as it would be directly under the control of the Home Ministry.
  • At present, nearly 80% of officers’ ranks from Major upwards are held by Army officers on deputation. A Lieutenant General of the Army holds the post of Director General of Assam Rifles. It is natural for the Army to oppose the move.
  • The Home Ministry took up the issue of merger with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
  • The matter is also in the Delhi High Court now after retired personnel filed a petition saying they were facing difficulties in drawing pension because of dual control.

Note: The status of “Ex- Servicemen” is currently given only to the personnel of the Army, Air Force and Navy.

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