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Current Affairs 31 December 2020 for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. Missions in Estonia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic
  2. BPR&D data on Police Organizations
  3. AFSPA extended in Nagaland
  4. Conservation plan for Kolar Leaf-Nosed Bat

MISSIONS IN ESTONIA, PARAGUAY AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Context:

The government announced that it would open three missions in Estonia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic in 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Foreign Mission?
  2. About India’s Foreign Missions
  3. Benefits of the three missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic
  4. India-Estonia relations
  5. India–Paraguay relations
  6. India-Dominican Republic relations

What is a Foreign Mission?

  • A Foreign Mission is a permanent diplomatic legation established in a foreign country.
  • The Primary objective of Foreign Missions is to conduct negotiations, establish relations, provide scientific and technical assistance, or the like.

About India’s Foreign Missions

  • India has a large diplomatic network, reflecting its links in the world and particularly in neighbouring regions: Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the Indian subcontinent.
  • There are also far-flung missions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, locations of historical Indian diaspora communities.
  • As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Indian diplomatic missions in the capitals of other Commonwealth members are known as High Commissions.

Benefits of the three missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic

The decision to open these three missions is a forward-looking step in pursuit of our national priority of growth and development or ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.

Enhancement of India’s diplomatic presence will provide market access for companies and bolster exports of goods and services

The opening of the missions will help

  1. Expand India’s diplomatic footprint, deepen political relations,
  2. Enable growth of bilateral trade, investment and economic engagements,
  3. Facilitate stronger people-to-people contacts,
  4. Bolster political outreach in multilateral fora and
  5. Help garner support for the foreign policy objectives.

India-Estonia relations

  • India first recognized Estonia in 1921 when the former had just acquired membership in the League of Nations. India re-recognized Estonia in 1991.
  • In 1999 India and Estonia signed a joint business council agreement to increase investment and trade between the two countries.
  • While Indian investment in Estonia is small-scale and is in the commercial and food sector, Estonia has no direct investment in India.
  • India has signed the Joint Business Council Agreement with the Estonian Chamber of Commerce.
  • Estonia and India have several agreements on co-operations on subjects varying from Science and Technology to Culture, Education, Science, Sports, Arts, Mass Media, Tourism and Youth Affairs.

India–Paraguay relations

  • Diplomatic relations between India and Paraguay were established in 1961.
  • Paraguay opened its embassy in India fairly recently in 2006 and this embassy is jointly accredited to Sri Lanka.
  • An agreement between India and Paraguay provides visa-free travel privileges to holders of Diplomatic and Official passports since 1996.
  • Paraguay supported India’s bid for election to the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2015–17.
  • Citizens of Paraguay are eligible for scholarships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme.

India-Dominican Republic relations

  • The Dominican Republic and India established diplomatic relations in 1999.
  • The Dominican Republic maintains an embassy in New Delhi which was established fairly recently in 2006 (similar as in case of Paraguay).
  • The main commodities exported by India to the Dominican Republic are cotton textiles and readymade garments, drugs and pharmaceuticals, furniture, transport equipment, manufactures of metals, chemicals, plastic and linoleum products, tea, processed foods and marine products.
  • The major commodities imported by India from the Dominican Republic are tobacco, pearls, precious stones, semi-precious stones, jewels, and coins.
  • India donated $50,000 worth of life saving drugs to the Dominican Republic in 2006.
  • India donated medicines to the Dominican Republic to provide relief in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Noel in 2007.
  • Since 1999, citizens of the Dominican Republic are eligible for scholarships under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme.

-Source: The Hindu


BPR&D DATA ON POLICE ORGANIZATIONS

Context:

The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D or BPRD) has released data on police organizations which shows different aspects of policing in the country like woman police, police expenditure, constabulary ratio, transport facilities, communication facilities, representation of various castes and police training centers.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Data on Police Organizations by BPRD
  2. Issues with Representation of Minorities in the Police Force from BPRD data
  3. Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D)
  4. Functions of the BPR&D

Highlights of the Data on Police Organizations by BPRD

  • The Indian Government has spent more than 1500 Crore Rupees in 2019-20 for expenditure and police training.
  • The goal of proportionate representation has remained unfulfilled despite all state governments providing reservation to these categories.
  • Over 5 lakh posts in police forces of different states and more than 1 lakh posts in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are lying vacant.
  • Sanctioned Police Population Ratio (PPR) in India is lower than 200 – which means there are only about 195 police personnel per one lakh of the population.
  • It should also be noted that this number (Police Population Ratio PPR) has actually reduced since 2018.
  • The UN-mandated police-population ratio is over 220.

Issues with Representation of Minorities in the Police Force from BPRD data

Backward Classes, Dalits and Tribals constitute almost 67% of India’s population, but their representation in police forces in the country is only at 51%.

Scheduled Tribes

  • They form almost 9% of the population and have 12% representation in the police forces, placing them at a comparatively better position.
  • This is the only positive note regarding representation as only STs have better representation in police forces in comparison to their share in population while all other backward classes fare poorly.

Women – Most under-represented

  • Even though their share in population is 48% women hold a meagre 10% share in the actual strength of the police in the country
  • However, it is important to note that their situation has improved considerably over the past years as the actual strength of women in police forces has almost doubled since 2014.
  • Women population per woman police ratio stands at 3,026 nationally which is very low.
  • Poor representation of women in the police is posing serious challenges in dealing with crimes against women and women criminals.

Dalits

  • Dalits make up more than 16% of the population, however, only 14% of all positions in police forces across the country were represented by Dalits at the end of 2019.

Other Backward Classes (OBCs)

  • Regarding OBCs – despite their 41% share in the population, they constitute only 25% of the police forces.

Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D)

The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), was set up in furtherance of the objective of the Government of India for the modernisation of police forces.

It has evolved as a multifaceted, consultancy organisation, and at present it has 4 divisions – Research, Development, Training and Correctional Administration.

Reasons for creation:

  1. To take direct and active interest in the issues
  2. To promote a speedy and systematic study of the police problems,
  3. To apply science and technology in the methods and techniques used by police.

Functions of the BPR&D

Research Division

  1. Analysis and study of crime and problems of general nature affecting the police
  2. Assistance of Police Research programmes in States and Union Territories
  3. Work relating to Standing Committee on Police Research
  4. Maintenance of all India statistics of crime

BPR&D Publications

  1. Police Research & Development Journal
  2. Crime in India
  3. Indian Police Journal
  4. Accidental Deaths and Suicides
  5. Research Reports and News Letters
  6. Reports, Reviews, other journals and books relating to matters connected with police work

Development Division

  1. Review of the performance of various types of equipment used by the police forces in India and development of new equipment
  2. Liaison with the National laboratories, Indian Ordnance Factories and other organisations
  3. Police publicity and police publicity files, police weeks and parades

Training Division

  1. To review from time to time the arrangements for Police training and the needs of the country in this field in the changing social conditions
  2. Introduction of scientific techniques in training and in police work and to formulate and coordinate training policies and programmes in the field of police administration and management.
  3. To help devise new refresher, promotion, specialist and orientation courses

Correctional Administration

  1. Analysis and study of prison statistics and problems of general nature affecting Prison Administration
  2. Coordination of Research Studies conducted by RICAs and other Academic/Research Institutes in Correctional Administration
  3. To set up an Advisory Committee to guide the work relating to Correctional Administration

-Source: Indian Express


AFSPA EXTENDED IN NAGALAND

Context:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the entire State of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) that empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without prior notice.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
  2. Important Criticisms of AFSPA
  3. AFSPA Acts in force
  4. Powers Given to an officer of the Armed Forces in a “disturbed” area under AFSPA
  5. Why is AFSPA Being extended in Nagaland now?

Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • AFSPA is invoked when a case of militancy or insurgency takes place and the territorial integrity of India is at risk.
  • Security forces can “arrest a person without warrant”, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even based on “reasonable suspicion”.
  • It also provides security forces with legal immunity for their actions in disturbed areas.
  • While the armed forces and the government justify its need in order to combat militancy and insurgency, critics have pointed out cases of possible human rights violations linked to the act.
  • According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 once declared ‘disturbed’, the area has to maintain status quo for a minimum of 3 months.
  • The Acts have received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement alleged to have happened.

Important Criticisms of AFSPA

  • When India presented its second periodic report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1991, members of the UNHRC asked numerous questions about the validity of the AFSPA.
  • They questioned the constitutionality of the AFSPA under Indian law and asked how it could be justified in light of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR.
  • In 2012, the UN asked India to revoke AFSPA saying it had no place in Indian democracy.
  • The Act has been criticized by Human Rights Watch as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and discrimination”.

Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission

  • The commission recommended to repeal AFSPA as “the Act is a symbol of hate, oppression and instrument of high handedness”.

Second Administrative Reforms Commission

  • The second Administratively Reforms Commission (ARC) in its fifth report on “Public Order,” recommended to repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
  • It commented that its scrapping would remove sentiments of discrimination and alienation among the people of the North East India.
  • The commission recommended to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 inserting a new chapter to deploy the armed forces of the Union in the North eastern States.
  • It supported a new doctrine of policing and criminal justice inherent in an inclusive approach to governance.

Supreme Court of India

  • Supreme Court said that any encounter carried out by armed forces in the garb of AFSPA should be subjected to thorough inquiry.
  • According to the Supreme Court – it does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both.

AFSPA Acts in force

It is effective in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

History of AFSPA Acts

  • An AFSPA Act passed in 1958 was applicable to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam.
  • In the following decades it spread, one by one, to the other Seven Sister States in India’s northeast (at present, it is in force in the States of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh, and areas falling within the jurisdiction of the eight police stations of districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering the State of Assam).
  • Another one passed in 1983 and applicable to Punjab and Chandigarh was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came to force.
  • An Act passed in 1990 was applied to Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since.
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Powers Given to an officer of the Armed Forces in a “disturbed” area under AFSPA

  1. After giving such due warning, Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death, against the person who is acting against law or order in the disturbed area for the maintenance of public order,
  2. Destroy any arms dump, hide-outs, prepared or fortified position or shelter or training camp from which armed attacks are made by the armed volunteers or armed gangs or absconders wanted for any offence.
  3. To arrest without a warrant anyone who has committed cognizable offences or is reasonably suspected of having done so and may use force if needed for the arrest.
  4. To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
  5. Stop and search any vehicle or vessel reasonably suspected to be carrying such person or weapons.
  6. Any person arrested and taken into custody under this Act shall be made present over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station with least possible delay, together with a report of the circumstances occasioning the arrest.
  7. Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government’s judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
  8. Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.

Why is AFSPA Being extended in Nagaland now?

  • A home ministry official said the decision to continue the declaration of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” has been taken as killings, loot and extortion have been going on in various parts of the state which necessitated the action for the convenience of the security forces operating there.
  • There have been demands from various organizations in the Northeast as well as in Jammu and Kashmir for repealing the AFSPA, which, they allege, gives “sweeping powers” to security forces.
  • The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland.
  • However, the peace process has been stuck for some time as the NSCN-IM has been pressing for a separate flag and Constitution, a demand rejected by the central government.

-Source: The Hindu


CONSERVATION PLAN FOR KOLAR LEAF-NOSED BAT

Context:

The Karnataka Forest Department, along with the Bat Conservation India Trust (BCIT), is getting prepared to save the Kolar leaf-nosed bat from extinction.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Kolar leaf-nosed bat
  2. Concerns regarding Bat population in India

Kolar leaf-nosed bat

  • The Kolar leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros hypophyllus), or leafletted leaf-nosed bat is a species of bat in the family Hipposideridae.
  • It is endemic to India. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and caves.
  • It is found in only one cave in India, and its population is less than 200 individuals.
  • It is currently evaluated as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
  • However, it HAS NOT been accorded legal protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
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Critically Endangered (IUCN

Threats to the Kolar Leaf Nosed Bat

Its habitat is under threat due to illegal granite mining. Granite miners have driven them out of at least two caves by setting fires; the fires make granite extraction easier. As reported in 2014, there was a temporary mining ban on the cave where this species is still found.

Concerns regarding Bat population in India

  • Bats are one of the least studied mammals in the country, though there are 130 species in India.
  • Bats are vital for the ecology as they are pollinators, their main diet being nectar.
  • Bats also help in insect control and therefore, help in the protection of crops.
  • They are very adaptable creatures and therefore can often be found near human habitation or even in urban settlements, which makes them vulnerable.
  • They also have a bad image in the public eye, as carriers of diseases.

-Source: Indian Express

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