Daily Analysis 6th September, 2020

Daily Analysis: 6th September 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Draft of Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA) (PIB)

B) Art, Culture and History

2. ASI declares site and remains at Baghpat to be of national importance (TH)

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

3. Project Dolphin: Why is it important to save a declining river species? (IE)

4. Explained: Why is an Amazon tribe talking to Indians about Blood Gold? (IE)

5. IMD Weather Apps: Mausam, Meghdoot and Damini (PIB)

6. Tropospheric or Ground-level Ozone (PIB)

7. Tropical Forest Alliance (IE)

D) Economy

8. Explained: What counts as ‘Act of God’? (IE)

E) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

9. 4th edition of Business Reform Action Plan for the year 2019 declared (PIB)

F) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

10. National Livelihoods Missions (PIB)

11. Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) (TH, pg7)

G) International Relations

12. The U.S. trial at The Hague (TH, pg 13)

H) Miscellaneous

13. Tripura opens its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh (IE)

14. The Circadian Rhythm (TH, pg 11)

A) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

1. Draft of Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA) (PIB)

Context: NITI Aayog has released the draft of an architecture that could allow third parties access to information across sectors ranging from finance to healthcare, after seeking consent of the user.

Analysis

  • In a nutshell, DEPA empowers people to seamlessly and securely access their data and share it with third party institutions.
  • For example, if portability and control of data could allow an MSME owner to digitally share proof of the business’ regular historic tax (GST) payments or receivables invoices easily, a bank (third party) could design and offer regular small ticket working capital loans based on demonstrated ability to repay (known as Flow based lending) rather than only offering bank loans backed by assets or collateral.
  • The draft paper further said that opening up an Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) based data sharing framework would bring significant innovation by new fintech entities.
  • APIs enable seamless encrypted data flow between data providers and data users through a consent manager, it added.
  • It noted that DEPA is predicated on the notion that individuals should have control over how their personal data is used and shared.
  • Orchestrating a paradigm shift to empower individuals with their data requires three key building blocks: enabling regulations, cutting edge technology standards, and new types of public and private organisations with incentives closely aligned to those of individuals. DEPA seeks to provide a foundation for all three in India.
  • DEPA is going live in the financial sector in 2020 under the joint leadership of the Ministry of Finance, RBI, PFRDA, IRDAI, and SEBI.
  • It will be followed by health sector and telecom sector.
  • The first major government department to become a Government Information Provider (GIP) will be GST.

B) Art, Culture and History

2. ASI declares site and remains at Baghpat to be of national importance (TH)

Context: The archaeological site and remains at Sadikpur Sinauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district where evidence of the existence of a warrior class around 2,000 BCE was discovered in 2018 have been declared to be of “national importance” by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Analysis

  • The ASI’s notification under provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 brings the site under Central protection.
  • The site would now be maintained by the ASI and development works around it would be subject to Central rules.
  • The notification comes two years after the ASI unearthed remains of chariots, shields, swords, legged coffins, helmets and other items indicating the presence of a warrior class at the site that is 68 km from Delhi.
  • ASI termed the site the “largest necropolis (a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments) of the late Harappan period datable to around early part of second millennium BCE”.

Threat to Aryan Invasion Theory

  • As for the discovery of the chariots, a conclusion about the animal that pulled them is important. Why?
  • For, the discovery of a horse chariot, dated back to 2000 BC, would challenge the historians who support the Aryan invasion theory that claims horses were brought in by
  • The invading Aryan army around 1500 to 1000 BC.
  • Chariots pulled by horses had given the Aryans the edge over the Dravidians and the power to conquer the North Indian plains by pushing them to south of the peninsula.
  • According to these historians, the Vedic culture was brought into India by the invading Aryans from central Asia.
  • The Rig Veda, for instance, carries references to horses, they point out about the ancient Hindu text said to be composed during the same period (1500-1100 BC) when the Harappan civilisation was on its decline.
  • This argument gets empirical support: there was hardly any evidence to show the presence of horses in the Harappan civilisation.
  • Clay seals of different shapes and sizes with figures of bulls and dancing girls had been unearthed in large numbers at the Harappan sites, but none with the figure of a horse. This is one of the prime arguments that support the Aryan invasion theory.
  • The most controversial and sought-after animal in Indian archaeology has been the horse. At Surkotada (Gujarat) from all three periods [roughly 2100-1700 BCE] quite a good number of bones of horse and ass have been recovered. 

C) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

3. Project Dolphin: Why is it important to save a declining river species? (IE)

Context: In his Independence Day Speech this year, Prime Minister of India announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin.

  • The proposed project is aimed at saving both river and marine dolphins.

Analysis

What is the Gangetic dolphin?

  • Gangetic river dolphins are found in the rivers systems of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Karnaphuli- Sangu in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
  • It is the only surviving freshwater dolphin in India.
  • The Ganges River dolphin is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List and has been included in the Schedule I for the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds.
  • Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.
     
  • Their eyes lack a lens and therefore function solely as a means of detecting the direction of light.
  • It uses echolocation to navigate and hunt. Like bats, they produce high-frequency sounds which helps them ‘see’ objects when the sound waves bounce off them.
  • The species is found exclusively in freshwater habitat.
  • River Dolphins are solitary creatures and females tend to be larger than males. 
  • The Ganges River dolphin (Susu) is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are: the baiji now likely extinct From the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America.
  • Obligate species: Restricted to a particular condition of life; for example, dependent on a particular habitat to be able to breed
  • Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.
  • The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS), from Sultanganj to Kahalganj on the Ganga in Bihar is the only dolphin sanctuary in the country. National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to Varanasi passes through it.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.
  • Special Conservation program needs to be taken up for Gangetic Dolphin which is national aquatic animal and also indicator species for the river Ganga spread over several states.

Have other governments used aquatic life as an indicator of the health of a river system?

  • Salmon used to migrate from the North Sea to the Rhine every year and reproduce, but this stopped when pollution increased in the river.
  • After a chemical accident in 1986 that caused the death of fish and microorganisms, the Rhine Action Plan (1987) was launched. This led to improvement in the quality of the river water, and the salmons began to return.

4. Explained: Why is an Amazon tribe talking to Indians about Blood Gold? (IE)

Context: From the remote rainforests of Brazil, the little-known Yanomami tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians not to buy the gold which has come from Yanomami territory.

Analysis

Why the appeal to Indians?

  • Gold mined illegally in Yanomami land has most likely been coming to India since at least 2018 – “but it could be earlier than this as it has been traded on the black market for years”.
  • India is “the fourth largest importer of Brazilian gold in the world”.

The Yanomami People

  • The Yanomami live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and are, according to Survival International, the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America.
  • Survival International is an international human rights advocacy based in London, which campaigns for the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples around the world.
  • The Yanomami live in large, circular houses called yanos or shabonos, some of which can hold up to 400 people.
  • It is a Yanomami custom that a hunter does not eat the meat he has killed. He shares it out among friends and family. In return, he will be given meat by another hunter.
  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief. Instead, all decisions are based on consensus after long discussions and debates.
  • Following a sustained campaign led by Survival International, the Brazilian government notified a ‘Yanomami Park’ in 1992.

What now for Yanomami

  • The tribe has launched an initiative called MinersOutCovidOut to enlist the support of Brazilian society and the international community to lobby the Brazilian government to take urgent action to remove the miners and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

5. IMD Weather Apps: Mausam, Meghdoot and Damini (PIB)

  • Mausam is a mobile app that provides all current weather forecasts through the week and even radar-based forecasts updated every 10 minutes.
  • This is the first app launched by the 145-year-old India Meteorological Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Sciences, that is meant for everyone.
  • It already has another app, Meghdoot, meant only for farmers and those involved in agriculture.
  • The Mausam mobile App has the following 5 services:
  1. Current Weather: Current temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction for 200 cities updated 8 times a day. Information on Sunrise/ sunset and moonrise/ moonset are also given.
  2. Nowcast: Three hourly warnings of localized weather phenomena and their intensity issued for about 800 stations, and districts of India by State Meteorological Centres of IMD. In case of severe weather, its impact also is included in the warning.
  3. City Forecast: Past 24 hours and 7 day forecast of weather conditions around 450 cities in India.
  4. Warnings: Alerts issued twice a day for all districts for the next five days in colour code (Red, Orange and Yellow) to warn citizens of approaching dangerous weather. The colour code Red is the most severe category urging authorities to take action, Orange code prompts authorities and public to be alert and Yellow code prompts authorities and public to keep themselves updated.
  5. Radar products: Latest Station wise radar products updated every 10 minutes.
  • The Meghdoot app was developed jointly by the Digital Agriculture & Youth (DAY) team at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Damini

  • Damini Lightning Alert app, developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), is for giving warning to the user about the lightning on the basis of user location.
  • Lightning is shown on the map on the basis of 5 min lightning, 10 min lightning and 15 min lightning.
  • User can also register for the application.

6. Tropospheric or Ground-level Ozone (PIB)

Context: Researchers have evaluated the near surface ozone in the Brahmaputra River Valley (BRV) and found relatively low concentration of Ozone over Guwahati compared to the other urban locations in India.

Analysis

  • Tropospheric, or ground-level ozone, is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  • It usually increases when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight, impacting human health.

Ground-level ozone (O3)

  • Ozone is primarily a “sunny weather problem” in India, that otherwise remains highly variable during the year.
  • It is a highly reactive gas; even short-term exposure of an hour is dangerous for those with respiratory conditions and asthma.
  • That’s why an eight-hour average is considered for ozone instead of the 24-hour average for other pollutants.
  • Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.
  • It can be curtailed only if gases from all sources are controlled.

Ozone builds up in the cleaner areas

  • Ozone pollution is the highest in areas with the lowest NO2 pollution – ozone levels build up in the greenest parts of the city where the NO2 levels are very low.
  • This is because ozone is formed when NOx, VOCs and gases react with each other under the influence of sunlight and temperature. A high NOx level can again react with ozone and mop it up.
  • The ozone that escapes to cleaner areas has no NOx to further cannibalise it – and as a result, ozone concentration builds up in these areas. 
  • This is because of chemistry. NOx consists of NO and NO2. NO eats ozone and NO2 makes ozone. Transport is responsible for more than 50% of the NOx emissions in the city. So, with a limited amount of NO present, ozone accumulates.
  • Ground-level ozone (O3), unlike other primary pollutants, is not emitted directly into the atmosphere, but is a secondary pollutant produced by reaction between nitrogen dioxide (NO2), hydrocarbons and sunlight.
  • Ozone can irritate the eyes and air passages causing breathing difficulties and may increase susceptibility to infection.
  • It is a highly reactive chemical, capable of attacking surfaces, fabrics and rubber materials. Ozone is also toxic to some crops, vegetation and trees.
  • Whereas nitrogen dioxide (NO2) participates in the formation of ozone, nitrogen oxide (NO) destroys ozone to form oxygen (O2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
  • For this reason, ozone levels are not as high in urban areas (where high levels of NO are emitted from vehicles) as in rural areas.
  • As the nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are transported out of urban areas, the ozone-destroying NO is oxidised to NO2, which participates in ozone formation.

7. Tropical Forest Alliance (IE)

  • The Tropical Forest Alliance a global public-private partnership dedicated to tackle the drivers of deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp.
  • The Tropical Forest Alliance was founded in 2012 at Rio+20 after the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) committed to zero net deforestation by 2020 for palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp supply chains in 2010.
  • The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) — an alliance of 400 companies including retailers, manufacturers and service providers across 70 countries — pledged in 2012 to achieve ‘zero net deforestation’ by 2020.
  • Even the finance sector has recognised the risks with 12 international banks joining with the CGF to form a ‘Soft Commodities Compact’ in 2013 to support a 2020 target for zero net deforestation in supply chains. 
  • TFA fosters cross-sector collaboration and involves working across Latin America, West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia to implement these commitments.
  • TFA is funded by the governments of Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Germany, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and hosted at the World Economic Forum.  
  • Among others, it aims to drive 10 priority actions to reduce tropical deforestation from global agricultural supply chains, as defined in the Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020.

Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020

  1. The Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020 summarizes the areas in which most urgent action is needed to eliminate deforestation from global agricultural supply chains.

    10 Priority Actions:
  2. Eliminating illegality from supply chains
  3. Growing and strengthening palm oil certification
  4. Scaling up pilot programmes of sustainable intensification of cattle grazing
  5. Sustainably increasing smallholder yields in palm oil and cocoa
  6. Achieving sustainable soy production
  7. Accelerating the implementation of jurisdictional programmes
  8. Addressing land conflicts, tenure security and land rights
  9. Mobilizing demand for deforestation- free commodities in emerging markets
  10. Redirecting finance towards deforestation-free supply chains
  11. Improving the quality and availability of deforestation and supply chain data

D) Economy

8. Explained: What counts as ‘Act of God’? (IE)

Context: Amid disruptions caused by Covid-19, the Finance Minister has referred to an Act of God while businesses are looking at a legal provision, force majeure, to cut losses. How does it work, and when can it be invoked?

Analysis

What is a force majeure clause?

  • The law of contracts is built around a fundamental norm that the parties must perform the contract.
  • When a party fails to perform its part of the contract, the loss to the other party is made good.
  • However, the law carves out exceptions when performance of the contract becomes impossible to the parties.
  • A force majeure clause (FMC) is one such exception that releases the party of its obligations to an extent when events beyond their control take place and leave them unable to perform their part of the contract.
  • FMC is a clause that is present in most commercial contracts and is a carefully drafted legal arrangement in the event of a crisis.
  • When the clause is triggered, parties can decide to break from their obligations temporarily or permanently without necessarily breaching the contract.
  • Companies in such situations use the clause as a safe exit route, sometimes in opportunistic ways, without having to incur the penalty of breaching the contract.
  • Generally, an “Act of God” is understood to include only natural unforeseen circumstances, whereas force majeure is wider in its ambit and includes both naturally occurring events and events that occur due to human intervention. However, both concepts elicit the same consequences in law.

What situations legally qualify for use of force majeure?

  • A force majeure clause is negotiated by parties, and events that could potentially hamper the performance of the contract are catalogued.
  • It is not invoked just by expressing that an unforeseen event has occurred.
  • In case a contract does not have a force majeure clause, there are some protections in common law that can be invoked by parties.
  • For example, the Indian Contract Act, 1872 provides that a contract becomes void if it becomes impossible due to an event after the contract was signed that the party could not prevent.
  • Court rulings have established that force majeure cannot be invoked when performance of the contract has become difficult, but only when it has become impossible.
  • For example, in a 2017 case, the Supreme Court cited a 1961 House of Lords decision that ruled that the closure of Suez Canal, although unforeseen, had not rendered a contract to ship goods from Africa impossible since a longer route around the Cape of Good Hope existed.

Are there other global precedents dealing with pandemics and force majeure?

  • China’s Supreme People’s Court had recognised the 2002 SARS outbreak as a force majeure event.
  • Singapore enacted the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act in April to provide relief to businesses that could not perform their contractual obligations due to the pandemic.

E) Indices/Committees/Reports/Organisations

9. 4th edition of Business Reform Action Plan for the year 2019 declared (PIB)

Context: The Business Reform Action Plan 2018-19, released by the Department of Industrial Promotion and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, includes 180 reform points covering 12 business regulatory areas such as Access to Information, Single Window System, Labour, Environment, etc. 

Analysis

  • The exercise was aimed at promoting competition among states with a view to improving the business climate to attract domestic as well as foreign investments.

    The top ten states under State Reform Action Plan 2019 are:
  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Uttar Pradesh
  3. Telangana
  4. Madhya Pradesh
  5. Jharkhand
  6. Chhattisgarh
  7. Himachal Pradesh
  8. Rajasthan
  9. West Bengal
  10. Gujarat
  • Andhra Pradesh has bagged the top rank among states for the third consecutive time in the annual ease of doing business ranking of States and Union Territories.
  • Registering a jump of 10 places in the rankings, Uttar Pradesh occupied the second position in 2019 as against 12th in 2018.
  • Telangana slipped to the third position from second in 2018.
  • Goa at 24th, Bihar at 26th, Kerala at 28th place and Tripura at 36th (ranked at the bottom) did not perform well.
  • The DPIIT, in collaboration with the World Bank, conducts this annual reform exercise for all States/UTs under the Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP).
  • In the World Bank’s latest ‘Doing Business’ report, India has jumped 14 places to the 63rd position.

F) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

10. National Livelihoods Missions (PIB)

Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (Ministry of Rural Development) (PIB)

  • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) seeks to reach out to 8-9 crore rural poor households and organize one woman member from each household into affinity-based women SHGs and federations at village level and at higher levels.
  • The programme is being implemented in all the States and Union Territories, except Delhi and Chandigarh, in a phased manner.

Is NRLM only for women?

  • NRLM’s priority is to reach out to the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized. It begins with targeting women and they are considered as representatives of their households.
  • Only for groups to be formed with Persons with disabilities, and other special categories like elders, transgender, NRLM will have both men and women in the SHGs.

Who are eligible for benefits under NRLM?

  • The NRLM Target Households (NTH) are identified through the Participatory Identification of Poor (PIP) instead of the BPL.
  • The PIP is a community-driven process where the Community Based Organisations (CBOs) themselves identify the poor in the village using participatory tools.
  • The list of poor identified by the CBO is vetted by the Gram Sabha.

Sub-schemes under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)

a) Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP)

  • SVEP is being implemented to promote start – up enterprises in rural areas.
  • SVEP focusses on providing self-employment opportunities with financial assistance and training in business management and soft skills while creating local community cadres for promotion of enterprises.
  • SVEP addresses three major pillars of rural start-ups namely – finances, incubation and skill ecosystems.
  • Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad is the technical support partner of SVEP. 
  • SVEP promotes both individual and group enterprises, set-up and promote enterprises majorly on manufacturing, trading and service sectors.
  • The program invested largely on building the capacities of the entrepreneurs to run the businesses profitably based on the local demand and eco-system.

b) Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)

  • Specific objectives of MKSP are as under:
  • To enhance the productive participation of women in agriculture.
  • To create sustainable agricultural livelihood opportunities for women in agriculture.
  • To improve the skills and capabilities of women in agriculture to support farm and non- farm-based activities.
  • To ensure food and nutrition security at the household and the community level.
  • To enable women to have better access to inputs and services of the government and other agencies.
  • To enhance the managerial capacities of women in agriculture for better management of bio-diversity.
  • To improve the capacities of women in agriculture to access the resources of other institutions and schemes within a convergence framework.
  • The MKSP has two streams – Agriculture (and Livestock) and NTFP (Non-timber Forest Produce).

c) Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)

  • The main objectives of AGEY are:

    (i) To provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of SHGs under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas, as identified by the States.

    (ii) To provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services to connect remote villages with key services and amenities (including access to markets, education and health) for the overall economic development of the area by making use of the supports available within the framework of DAY-NRLM. The vehicles are owned and operated by members of Self-Help Group (SHG) networks and operate in regions which are not served by regular transport services.

d) National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP)

  • NRLP has been designed as a sub-set of NRLM to create ‘proof of concept’, build capacities of the Centre and States and create an enabling environment to facilitate all States and Union Territories to transit to the NRLM.
  • NRLP would be implemented in 13 high poverty states (Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) accounting for about 90 percent of the rural poor in the country.
  • Distribution of project funds among the states would be based on inter-se poverty ratios.

e) National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP)

  • It is an Externally Aided Project under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) through loan assistance (IBRD Credit) from World Bank.
  • It aims to enhance the livelihoods promotion and access to finance and scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihood interventions.
  • DAY-NRLM lays special emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable communities and their financial inclusion. 
  • Innovative projects will be undertaken under NRETP to pilot:
  1. Alternate channels of financial inclusion,
  2. Creating value chains around rural products,
  3. Introduce innovative models in livelihoods promotion and access to finance and
  4. Scale-up initiatives on digital finance and livelihoods interventions. 

Deendayan Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM)

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is implementing DAY-NULM to reduce poverty and vulnerability of urban poor households by:
  • Enabling them to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities, for improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis;
  • Building strong grass root level institutions of the urban poor, including those in vulnerable occupations;
  • Providing shelter equipped with essential services to the urban homeless;
  • Addressing livelihood concerns of the urban street vendors by facilitating access to suitable spaces, institutional credit, social security, etc.
  • In August 2019, Deendayan Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) was conferred the prestigious SKOCH Governance Gold Award for its Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access (PAISA).
  • Launched in November 2018, PAiSA is a centralized IT platform which simplifies and streamlines release of interest subvention under the Mission.

Skoch Awards 

  • The Skoch Awards recognize leadership and excellence in accelerating socio-economic changes.
  • These awards have become a benchmark of best practices in India in the fields of governance, infrastructure, finance, banking, technology, corporate citizenship, economics and inclusive growth.

11. Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) (TH, pg7)

  • The “Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana” (KVPY) is a program started in 1999 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India to encourage students who are studying Basic Sciences to take up research career in Science.
  • Generous fellowship and contingency grant are provided to the selected KVPY Fellows up to the pre-Ph.D. level or 5 years whichever is earlier.
  • In addition, summer camps for the KVPY Fellows are organized in prestigious research and educational institutions in the country.
  • KVPY Fellowship is awarded on the basis of an aptitude test and interview to final selected students.

G) International Relations

12. The U.S. trial at The Hague (TH, pg 13)

Context:

U.S. authorised new sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an act of retaliation against the UN body’s high-profile investigation to bring justice to victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  • The U.S. decision has been criticised by the UN, the EU, 10 members of the UN Security Council, including the U.K. and France, as well as several international human rights agencies, all of which have called for the sanctions to be reversed.

Analysis

  • In March 2020, the Hague Court’s Appeals Chamber unanimously authorised investigation into alleged atrocities by U.S. troops in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003 as well as other alleged crimes committed since July 1, 2002 in the Central Intelligence Agency’s so-called black sites in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.
  • The U.S. has always refused to recognise ICC jurisdiction over U.S. personnel on the grounds that it is not party to the Rome Statute that underpins the court.
  • On the other hand, the 1998 Rome Statute provides for the prosecution of crimes committed in the territory of any one of the 123 states-parties, even if the accused come from a non-member nation.
  • This is the basis for the current investigation wherein Afghanistan and the three European nations, the location of the alleged crimes, are within the ICC’s jurisdiction, even if the U.S. remains outside.
  • U.S. said that the new measures would also be deployed to shield Israel, which faces a separate inquiry at ICC.
  • It relates to Israel’s settlements on the West Bank and the 2014 invasion of Gaza, resulting in hundreds of Palestinian casualties.
  • Both U.S. and Israel have refused to sign up to the court, which was set up in 2002 to be the only global tribunal trying the world’s worst crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • A full ICC investigation could possibly lead to charges against individuals. States cannot be charged by the ICC.
  • While the U.S.’s concerns about the ICC are shared by India and other countries that weren’t signatories, the U.S. action is seen as another blow to multilateralism.
  • In the last few years, the Trump administration has walked out of several UN agencies and international agreements, including Human Rights Council, UNESCO, the Paris climate change agreement and the Iran nuclear accord.

The International Criminal Court

  • The ICC is the world’s first and only permanent international criminal tribunal and is considered a court of last resort.
  • It is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and is charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, aggression, and war crimes.
  • The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.
  • Under the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can only investigate and prosecute the four core international crimes in situations where states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so themselves; the jurisdiction of the court is complementary to jurisdictions of domestic courts.
  • The court has jurisdiction over crimes only if they are committed in the territory of a state party or if they are committed by a national of a state party.
  • The ICC has jurisdiction over the gravest instances of atrocity crimes and targets only the highest priority perpetrators of these crimes.
  • The ICC prosecutes individuals, not organizations or governments.
  • The ICC is not part of the United Nations.
  • The UN Security Council is empowered, under the Rome Statute, to refer complaints against non-member nations to the International Criminal Court.
  • Cases are referred to the court by national governments or the United Nations Security Council.
  • The 18 judges of the Court serve nine-year terms.
  • The governing body of ICC, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), currently consists of 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute: largest number of countries are from the Africa region.
  • Malaysia recently become the latest ICC member.
  • Burundi withdrew from the ICC effective October 2017, and the Philippines gave notice of withdrawal in March 2018, which goes into effect one year later. An effort by the government of Kenya – at a time when its president and deputy president were facing charges before the court – to lead a mass withdrawal of African states from the treaty failed to materialize.
  1. Burundi is the first member-country to leave the ICC because, in September 2017, a UN commission investigating violence for over two years under President Pierre Nkurunziza recommended a criminal investigation by the court..
  • Some notable countries like United States, Russia, India, China, Israel, Qatar, Iraq, and Libya – aren’t part of the ICC.
  • The Rome Statute has been signed by 139 countries, and 123 have ratified it through their Parliaments and internal process.
  • Although the U.S. was part of the founding movement to build the ICC to try cases of genocide and war crime, especially after the courts in Rwanda failed, it decided not to ratify the Statute in 2002.
  • Countries like Russia, China and India, however, were never in favour of the Rome Statute or the ICC, and never signed on.
  • For India, the decision was based on a number of principles.
  1. To start with, the ICC is a criminal court, unlike the International Court of Justice (which adjudicates on civil matters), and arrogates to itself the right to prosecute matters against countries that aren’t even signatories.
  2. “India said that the Statute gave to the UN Security Council a role in terms that violates international law by giving the power to refer cases to the ICC, the power to block such references and the power to bind non-State parties to such decisions,” former Indian envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji told The Hindu, explaining that India based its objections on the basis of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
  3. India also objected to the omission of cross-border terror, use of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction from the areas the ICC would institute its investigations.

India and ICC

  • India abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council draft resolution, in March 2019, on the “situation of human rights in Myanmar.”
  • Co-sponsored by the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh, the resolution “expresses grave concern at continuing reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar”, particularly in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, and calls for a full inquiry into these by the Council’s own mechanism and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Both India and Myanmar are non-signatory of the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.

What differentiates the International Court of Justice from the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc international criminal tribunals?

  • The International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity.
  • As it is not a criminal court, it does not have a prosecutor able to initiate proceedings.
  • This task is the preserve of national courts, the ad hoc criminal tribunals established by the United Nations and also of the International Criminal Court, set up under the Rome Statute.
  • The Court is not a supreme court to which national courts can turn; it does not act as a court of last resort for individuals. Nor is it an appeal court for any international tribunal. It can, however, rule on the validity of arbitral awards.

India and Crimes Against Humanity

  • Neither ‘crimes against humanity’ nor ‘genocide’ has been made part of India’s criminal law, a lacuna that needs to be addressed urgently.
  • This was the lament of Delhi High Court, while pronouncing the judgment in State v. Sajjan Kumar (2018).
  • The case concerned the mass killing of Sikhs during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 in Delhi — and throughout the country.
  • The court categorically stated that these kind of mass crimes “engineered by political actors with the assistance of the law enforcement agencies” fit into the category of crimes against humanity (CAH).
  • Internationally, CAH are dealt with under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • They are defined as offences such as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, torture, imprisonment and rape committed as a part of “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.
  • India is not a party to the Rome Statute, which means that it is under no obligation at present to enact a separate legislation dealing with CAH.
  • Even after ratification of the Genocide Convention (1948), India has not enacted it in domestic legislation.

Reasons for Reluctance

  • The most probable reason for India’s reluctance to actively participate in the negotiation process on a separate Convention on CAH, which started in 2014, could be the adoption of the same definition of CAH as provided in the Rome Statute.
  1. The Indian representatives at the International Law Commission (ILC) have stated that the draft articles should not conflict with or duplicate the existing treaty regimes.
  • India had objected to the definition of CAH during negotiations of the Rome Statute on three grounds.
  • First, India was not in favour of using ‘widespread or systematic’ as one of the conditions, preferring ‘widespread and systematic’, which would require a higher threshold of proof.
  • Second, India wanted a distinction to be made between international and internal armed conflicts.
  • This was probably because its internal conflicts with naxals and other non-state actors in places like Kashmir and the Northeast could fall under the scope of CAH.
  • The third objection related to the inclusion of enforced disappearance of persons under CAH
  • It is pertinent here that India has signed but not yet ratified the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances as it would put the country under an obligation to criminalise it through domestic legislation.

A Familiar Pattern

  • In State v. Sajjan Kumar, the Delhi High Court also said that “a familiar pattern of mass killings” was seen “in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, and Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in 2013”, where the criminals “have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution”.

Conclusion

  • India’s missing voice at the ILC does not go well with its claim of respect for an international rules-based order.
  • Turning a blind eye to the mass crimes taking place in its territory and shielding the perpetrators reflect poorly on India’s status as a democracy.
  • It would be advisable for India to show political will and constructively engage with the ILC, which would also, in the process, address the shortcomings in the domestic criminal justice system.

H) Miscellaneous

13. Tripura opens its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh (IE)

  • The route connecting Sonamura, about 60 km from Agartala in the Indian side, and Daudkandi of Chittagong in Bangladesh was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes agreed up on May 20 this year.

14. The Circadian Rhythm (TH, pg 11)

  • The circadian rhythm, or day-night cycles that constitute the body’s internal clock, is different for men and women, a study published in Science finds.
  • Women have higher peaks of activity during the earlier parts of the day than men, the study finds.
  • Women are also more resilient to shifts in daylight – for example, in shift work.

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