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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 31 January 2022

Contents

  1. SC judges on use of social media to troll their work
  2. ‘Gehri dosti’ says Israel PM about ties with India
  3. Oman’s top defence official visit and India-Oman ties
  4. Kerala’s SilverLine project

SC Judges On Use of Social Media To Troll Their Work

Context:

Supreme Court judges have often criticized social media of being a pliant tool at the hands of the wrong people who want to “villainise” judges, launch personal attacks and troll them for their work.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Fundamental Rights, Judiciary)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Mixed Views of the SC on use of social media to troll Judiciary
  2. More about the use of social media to undermine the judiciary
    1. Media Trials

Mixed Views of the SC on use of social media to troll Judiciary

  • In his Constitution Day speech in November 2021, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana drew attention on the “attacks on the judiciary in the media, particularly social media”. He recommended that the law enforcing agencies, particularly the Central agencies, need to deal with such malicious attacks effectively.
  • All the way back in 2019, Justice (retired) Arun Mishra had said a concerted campaign was on in the social media to “malign” him while he was working in the bench examining the land acquisition law of 2013. Solicitor General in 2019, had at that time noted that “a pattern has emerged whereby articles and social media posts appear a couple of days before an important hearing is due in the Supreme Court in a bid to influence opinion outside the court about the issue at stake.”
  • In March 2021, the then Minister of Law and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, flagged the government’s concern about “social media campaigns” conducted against individual judges for their judicial opinions and judgments. He was criticizing “some people” who file PILs in court, campaign on social media for a particular judgment, and later troll judges when the verdict does not meet their expectations. He termed it “campaign justice”.
  • However, some SC judges say that a judge does his duty and remains faithful to the Constitution despite the “criticisms”, trolls etc. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed that the shoulders of the judges are “broad” enough to bear the barbs shot at them.

More about the use of social media to undermine the judiciary

  • It is said that Media (including social media) is the 4th pillar of the country responsible for keeping the other three organs (legislature, judiciary and executive) of democracy in check.
  • However, since its inception, there are uncountable instances where media has misused its power to undermine the judiciary by crossing the ethical line. This is in line with what Jeremy Bentham said, “There is no right where there is no attention. Publicity is the essence of justice itself. It is the strongest spur to exertion and the most sure of all guards against improbation”.

Media Trials

  • The Supreme Court defines media trials as “the effect of television and newspaper reporting on a person’s image by generating a common presumption of guilt, irrespective of any decision in a court of law.”
  • The social media usually portrays the accused as a villain not based on facts but only to sensationalize the news, which causes damage to the dignity of the accused.
  • Media through their trial attempts to reincarnate itself into a ‘public court’ and interfere with court proceedings.
  • The media separately starts an investigation and forms public opinion, acting as a reincarnated “public court”. The public support to the trend of trial by media is on the rise due to the extreme pendency problem and decreasing trend of faith in the judicial system.
  • By publishing inadmissible evidence and bringing it into the public domain, the media could bring facts to the attention of the judge (and the public) that cannot be taken into consideration when adjudicating the matter. Those facts may subconsciously affect the decision of the judge.
  • Social media causes defamation to persons who are acquitted from the Courts on grounds of lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. They face difficulty to resurrect their reputation in society.
  • The media in its quest for sensationalism fails to realize that such exposure jeopardizes the right to a life of dignity of the accused.
  • Justice Sikri commented that the media has undergone a complete transformation in the digital age and “we are in the era of paid and fake news”. Social Media has a broad coverage which can easily sway the opinion of an individual. 

-Source: The Hindu


‘Gehri Dosti’ says Israel PM about ties with India

Context:

Israeli Prime Minister said that Israel and India have a “gehri dosti” (deep friendship) and thanked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for his “deep commitment” to the “strong and robust friendship”.

This was said in conjunction with the completion of 30 years since full-fledged diplomatic relations between India and Israel were established on January 29, 1992.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. History of India–Israel relations
  2. Bilateral Cooperation on defence between India and Israel

History of India–Israel relations

  • India and the State of Israel have an extensive economic, military, and strategic relationship.
  • India’s position on the establishment of the State of Israel was affected by many factors, including India’s own partition on religious lines, and India’s relationship with other nations.
  • Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi believed the Jews had a good case and a prior claim for Israel, but opposed the creation of Israel on religious or mandated terms. Gandhi believed that the Arabs were the rightful occupants of Palestine, and was of the view that the Jews should return to their countries of origin.
  • Albert Einstein wrote a four-page letter to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947, to persuade India to support the setting up of a Jewish state. (Einstein’s request was not accepted).
  • India voted against the Partitioning of Palestine plan of 1947 and voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949.
  • It was only in 1950, that India officially recognised the State of Israel.

Bilateral Cooperation on defence between India and Israel

  • The strategic cooperation between the two countries began during the Sino-India War of 1962 and improved when Israel supplied M-58 160-mm mortar ammunition to India in the war against Pakistan in 1965.
  • Israel was also one of the few countries that chose not to condemn India’s Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998.
  • India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India after Russia.
  • Israel has been among the top four arms suppliers to India for almost two decades now, notching military sales worth around USD 1 billion every year.
  • The Indian armed forces have inducted a wide array of Israeli weapon systems over the years, which range from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and Heron, Searcher-II and Harop drones to Barak anti-missile defence systems and Spyder quick-reaction anti-aircraft missile systems.
  • Military and strategic ties between the two nations extend to intelligence-sharing on terrorist groups and joint military training.

Recently in news: India is in dialogue with Israel for concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

-Source: The Hindu


Oman’s top Defence Official Visit and India-Oman ties

Context:

India is welcoming Oman’s top defence official Mohammed Nasser Al Zaabi for an official visit from January 30, 2022.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Oman’s top defence official’s visit to India for JMMC
  2. India–Oman relations
  3. Significance of Oman in defence and strategy perspectives
  4. What’s the significance of the Duqm port?

Oman’s top defence official’s visit to India for JMMC

  • The Secretary General of Ministry of Defence of the Sultanate of Oman, Al Zaabi, will be in Delhi to co-chair the Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMMC) with Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.
  • The JMCC is the highest forum of engagement between India and Oman in the field of defence that evaluates and provides guidance to the overall framework of defence exchanges between India and Oman.
  • The JMCC is expected to meet annually, but could not be organised since 2018 when the meeting of the 9th JMCC was held in Oman.
  • The 10th JMCC of 2022 is expected to comprehensively evaluate the ongoing defence exchanges and provide a roadmap for further strengthening defence ties in the coming years.

India–Oman relations

  • India and Oman have had trade and people-to-people ties for several millennia and archaeological excavations in Oman have unearthed evidence to show Indo-Oman trade in the during the Classical Age dated to circa third century BCE.
  • Another important development in India-Oman relations in history can be traced to when the Indian prince Tipu Sultan sent a diplomatic delegation to Oman during his reign.
  • Oman has over 500 thousand Indian nationals living there making them the largest expatriate community in Oman. They annually remit over $750 million to India.
  • India is a major destination for Omani students pursuing higher studies and in recent years there have been increasing numbers of medical tourists coming into the country from Oman.
  • Oman established its embassy in New Delhi in 1972 and a consulate general in Mumbai in 1976.
  • Oman is the first Gulf nation to have formalised defence relations with India. Both countries conducted joint military exercises in 2006 and subsequently signed a defense agreement.
  • Politically, Oman has been supportive of India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.

Significance of Oman in defence and strategy perspectives

  • Oman is India’s closest defence partner in the Gulf region and an important anchor for India’s defence and strategic interests.
  • Defence cooperation has emerged as a key pillar for the robust India-Oman strategic partnership.
  • Defence exchanges are guided by a Framework MOU which was recently renewed in 2021.
  • Oman is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, enabling close cooperation and trust at the professional level.
  • Oman also provides critical operational support to Indian naval deployments in the Arabian sea for anti-piracy missions.
  • Bilateral training cooperation between the two sides is also robust with Omani forces regularly subscribing to training courses in India both at professional as well as higher command level.
  • Indian armed forces also subscribe to the Staff and Command courses conducted at NDC, Oman. Oman also actively participates in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).

What’s the significance of the Duqm port?

  • The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is strategically located, in close proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran. With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
  • Duqm has seen a rise in Indian activities. In recent years, India had deployed an attack submarine to this port in the western Arabian Sea.
  • The Port of Duqm also has a special economic zone, where about $1.8 billion investments are being made by some Indian companies. The Adani group had signed an MoU with Duqm port authorities in recent years.
  • In the context of strategic oil reserves near Duqm, India had extended an invitation to Oman to participate in building strategic oil reserves in India.

-Source: Indian Express


Kerala’s SilverLine Project

Context:

Despite the protests taking place across Kerala against SilverLine, the Kerala state government remains firm on implementing the project.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Infrastructure- Roads, Railways etc.)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is SilverLine in Kerala?
  2. Details regarding the SilverLine
  3. Advantages of the SilverLine project
  4. Why are there protests against the project?

What is SilverLine in Kerala?

  • SilverLine is a semi high-speed railway project connecting the state’s northern and southern ends at a cost of over Rs 63,000 crore. The government has said that the project will bring about an upgrade to the railway infrastructure.
  • The proposed 529.45-km line will link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north, covering 11 districts through 11 stations.
  • The deadline for the project, being executed by the Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL, or K-Rail is a joint venture between the Kerala government and the Union Ministry of Railways created to execute big railway projects), is 2025.
  • The state government has begun the process of land acquisition after the Cabinet gave its approval in June 2021. The Cabinet has also approved administrative sanction to get Rs 2,100 crore from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the central investment arm of the government.

Details regarding the SilverLine

  • As per the alignment, the railway line, beginning from Thiruvananthapuram, will have stations in Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam (Kakkanad), Cochin Airport, Thrissur, Tirur, Kozhikode and Kannur before culminating in Kasaragod.
  • The Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) has already offered one acre for the station there.
  • According to K-Rail, the project will have trains of electric multiple unit (EMU) type, each with preferably 9 cars (maximum of 675 passengers) extendable to 12. The trains can run at a maximum speed of 220 km/hr on a standard gauge track, completing journeys in either direction in under four hours.
  • Of the 11 stations, three will be elevated (Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur), one underground (Kozhikode) and the rest at grade.

Advantages of the SilverLine project

  • When the project is completed, one can travel from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in less than four hours at 200 km/hr. On the existing Indian Railways network, it now takes 12 hours.
  • The government claims the SilverLine project can take a significant load of traffic off the existing stretch and make travel faster for commuters, which in turn will reduce congestion on roads and help reduce accidents.
  • The government claims the line will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help in expansion of Ro-Ro services, produce employment opportunities, integrate airports and IT corridors, and enable faster development of cities it passes through.
  • The SilverLine is meant to meet the demands of the future as the existing railway infrastructure in Kerala cannot do so with most of the trains run at an average speed of 45 km/hr due to a lot of curves and bends on the existing stretch.

Why are there protests against the project?

  • Primary criticisms of the SilverLine project are over its “lack” of financial viability as well as environmental and social impact.
  • Some of the main concerns put forth are:
    • Why is there such an obvious lack of consultation?
    • How a debt-ridden state can afford the project?
    • Would the train service be affordable given the cost of building it?
    • What are the plans are to rehabilitate those displaced?
    • What are the ecological costs for tackling climate change and other ecological damage as an effect of this SilverLine project?

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

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