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Current Affairs 08 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. U.S. warns Russia against Ukraine invasion
  2. Judicial ‘inaction’ favours those in power
  3. Tribal outfits in Tripura pushing for ‘Greater Tipraland’
  4. China’s export growth slows, imports quicken on demand

U.S. warns Russia against Ukraine invasion

Context:

The United States will impose “severe economic harm” on Russia and boost its military presence in Eastern Europe should Moscow invade Ukraine, the White House warned

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Russia – Ukraine crisis
  2. Recent Developments
  3. Russia’s moves
  4. What are Russia’s and the West’s interests in Ukraine?
  5. What are the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict?
  6. Conclusion: For a peaceful resolution

About the Russia – Ukraine crisis

  • Despite being an independent country since 1991, as the former Soviet republic Ukraine has been perceived by Russia as being part of its sphere of influence.
  • Ukraine was one of the republics within the USSR during the cold war days, and has remained a strong ally of Russia ever since, till 2013.
  • While it was planning to sing an association agreement with the European Union in 2013, Russia sternly objected to it, leading to tensions.
  • Russia subsequently annexed “Crimea” (Russian speaking province in Ukraine) by force and declared its sovereignty over it with people’s support.
  • The Russo-Ukrainian War is an ongoing and protracted conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014, centred around the status of the Ukrainian regions of Crimea and Donbas.
  • The resultant conflict has so far claimed about 10,000 lives and displaced millions with no lasting resolution in sight.
  • Though the 2014-15 Minsk peace accords prohibited air strikes and heavy artillery firing, the dispute still prevails as a low-intensity combat.

Recent Developments

  • From the beginning of April 2021, Moscow has allegedly deployed thousands of troops as well as tanks and artillery near Ukraine’s eastern border. It has also mobilised troops in the annexed Black Sea region of Crimea.
  • This was enough to send a shock wave among the political elite in Ukraine, forcing them to appeal to the U.S. and NATO and ask for an intervention, if needed.
  • In April 2021, NATO Secretary General invited Ukrainian Foreign Minister to the NATO headquarters for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on the security situation in Ukraine.
  • It was reaffirmed that NATO would continue to provide significant political and practical support to Ukraine.
  • Besides powerful rhetoric from NATO, Ukraine seems to be desperate to receive more commitments and concrete actions.
  • The Ukrainian President has also used the current tension as an opportunity to push for NATO membership, arguing that ‘this is the only way to end the war in Donbas’.

Russia’s moves

  • Arguably, the cornerstone of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is insufficient communication, especially on the part of Russia. A deficit of explicit messages from Moscow creates room for misinterpretations and exaggerations on the part of Ukraine and its western supporters.
  • From the Russian perspective, the current ‘military build-up’ can be viewed as another round of muscle flexing and an attempt to perpetuate the narrative of a powerful and capable Russia.

What are Russia’s and the West’s interests in Ukraine?

  • Ukraine and Russia share hundreds of years of cultural, linguistic and familial links. As part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the second-most powerful Soviet republic after Russia, and was crucial strategically, economically and culturally. Ever since Ukraine split from the Soviet Union, both Russia and the West have vied for greater influence in the country in order to keep the balance of power in the region in their favour.
  • For many in Russia and in the ethically Russian parts of Ukraine, the shared heritage of the countries is an emotional issue that has been exploited for electoral and military purposes.
  • For the United States and the European Union, Ukraine is a crucial buffer between Russia and the West. As tensions with Russia rise, the US and the EU are increasingly determined to keep Ukraine away from Russian control.
  • Efforts to induct Ukraine into NATO have been ongoing for many years and seems to have picked up pace recently. Russia has declared such a move a “red line”, with Moscow worried about the consequences of the US-led military alliances expanding right up to its doorstep.

What are the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict?

MINSK I

  • Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in Minsk, the capital of Belarus in 2014.
  • Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
  • The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.

MINSK II

  • Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions signed a 13-point agreement in 2015 in Minsk.
  • The deal set out a series of military and political steps that remain unimplemented.
  • An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire,Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides, Monitoring and verification by the OSCE, Dialogue on interim self-government for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and An exchange of hostages and prisoners are the primary points.

Conclusion: For a peaceful resolution

  • All the stakeholders in the ongoing crisis should focus on establishing a constructive dialogue among themselves using clear and unambiguous language.
  • The only way forward is to seek a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict rather than exacerbating the reality and using quid pro quo tactics.
  • Both countries do need support from the global community, but not in a military form. There is a need for a platform (similarly to the Minsk Agreements) that will facilitate negotiation, mutual consensus and possible compromises, as well as engagement with mediators.
  • The long-term solution should be sought out in order to break the vicious cycle of animosity and misunderstanding.

-Source: The Hindu


Judicial ‘inaction’ favours those in power

Context:

High pendency of cases, large number of vacancies and the Collegium system of appointment were among the key issues raised by Lok Sabha members on while debating a bill that seeks to bring clarity on when Supreme Court and High Court judges will get enhanced pension on attaining a certain age.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Arguments about the Judiciary put forth in Lok Sabha
  2. What does the Judiciary’s Inaction mean?
  3. Militant Majoritarianism
  4. Concerns with Judiciary’s Inaction
  5. Conclusion
  6. Back to Basics: Judicial Review Resulting in Judicial Activism
  7. Judicial Overreach

Arguments about the Judiciary put forth in Lok Sabha

  • Opening the debate on the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021 Shashi Tharoor made some critical observations about “the judiciary failing to stem the tide of majoritarianism”.
  • Judiciary’s “inaction” always favours those in power as observed in examples such as the judicial challenge to the abrogation of Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
  • He also flagged the “insensitivity” shown by high judiciary while dealing with the plight of migrant workers during the COVID lockdown.
  • Several members also stressed on the need to increase the retirement age of high court judges and bring it on a par with the retirement age of SC judges. As of now, HC judges retire at 62 years and SC judges at 65 years of age.

What does the Judiciary’s Inaction mean?

  • In India, the problem of judicial activism has been confounded and exacerbated by the Executive’s and sometimes even the Legislature’s inactivity, leaving the people with little choice but to turn to the courts.
  • There is nothing wrong with courts intervening to protect citizens from the Executive’s excesses or inactivity, or to enforce citizens’ rights.
  • The line between judicial activism and excess is narrow. When judicial activism touches on policy areas that the Executive perceives to be solely its domain, a problem occurs.
  • In many circumstances, rather than granting mandamus to the Executive, the Supreme Court and numerous high courts have taken on Executive tasks by establishing their own systems to regularly review cases.

Militant Majoritarianism

  • India’s incapacity to respond to radical majoritarianism is becoming a catastrophe. There is no effective opposition in politics, and there is no effective opposition in society.
  • Academics and the media are frequently the focal points of such pushback in liberal democracies across the world.
  • In India, whereas the media intellectual is admired but not taken seriously, academics have never had an impact.

Concerns with Judiciary’s Inaction

  • Inaction on the part of the Judiciary nearly always benefits those in power.
  • The Supreme Court’s continuous passivity has not only allowed the government’s violations against people to go unpunished, but it has also caused some opponents to question if the court can be deemed an accomplice to the violation of constitutional rights.
  • However, many of these issues are the result of inadequate governance.
  • The independence of the Supreme Court (SC) has been questioned in recent years, with the primary issue being the government’s significant influence on judicial appointments and transfers.

Conclusion

The Indian judiciary has been characterized as an overly ambitious organization that really seeks to address people’s issues. The courts will have to make a calculated retreat as the government improves. It’s past time for judges to accept that there isn’t a legal remedy to every issue. But before complaining about judicial overreach, the Executive must first offer excellent governance.

Back to Basics: Judicial Review Resulting in Judicial Activism

  • However, at times Supreme Court or High Court for doing complete justice, over extends its jurisdiction into the arena or legislature and executive.
  • It is often seen that in the name of giving judgments, SC or HC end up directing the centre or state for certain commissions or omissions. This results in instances of judicial activism.
  • Judicial activismis an approach to the exercise of judicial review, or a description of a particular judicial decision, in which a judge is generally considered more willing to decide constitutional issues and invalidate legislative or executive actions.
  • The judges use their powers to correct injustices and play an active role in shaping social policy on various issues as civil rights, protection of individual rights, environmental protection, protection of weaker sections etc.
  • Judicial Activism mainly occurs due to the non-activity of the other organs of the government.
  • The phrase judicial activismappears to have been coined by the American historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. in a 1947 article in Fortune.

Judicial Overreach

  • “Judicial overreach” occurs when a court acts beyond its jurisdiction and interferes in areas which fall within the executive and/or the legislature’s mandate.
  • It means the Court has violated the doctrine of separation of powersby taking on the functions such as law enforcement, policy making or framing of laws or interfering in day to day activities of the executive.
  • This is a situation where the court goes beyond its jurisdiction as stated in the constitution and other legal documents.
  • The courts also encroach upon the role of the executive by taking executive decisions.

-Source: The Hindu


Tribal outfits in Tripura pushing for ‘Greater Tipraland’

Context:

Several tribal outfits in Tripura have joined hands to push their demand for a separate state for indigenous communities in the region, arguing that their “survival and existence” was at stake.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges, GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Historical Background of Tipra Land
  2. Demands of tribal outfits in Tripura
  3. Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council
  4. Back to Basics: Article 2 & 3

Historical Background of Tripura

  • Tripura was a kingdom ruled by the Manikya dynasty from the late 13th century until the signing of the Instrument of Accession with the Indian government in 1949.
  • The demand stems from the anxiety of the indigenous communities in connection with the change in the demographics of the state, which has reduced them to a minority.
  • It happened due to the displacement of Bengalis from the erstwhile East Pakistan between 1947 and 1971.
  • From 63.77% in 1881, the population of the tribals in Tripura was down to 31.80% by 2011.
  • In the intervening decades, ethnic conflict and insurgency gripped the state, which shares a nearly 860-km long boundary with Bangladesh.
  • The joint forum has also pointed out that the indigenous people have not only been reduced to a minority, but have also been dislodged from land reserved for them by the penultimate king of the Manikya dynasty Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman.

Demands of tribal outfits in Tripura

  • The parties are demanding a separate state of ‘Greater Tipraland’ for the indigenous communities of the north-eastern state.
  • They want the Centre to carve out the separate state under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
  • Among the 19 notified Scheduled Tribes in Tripura, Tripuris (aka Tipra and Tiprasas) are the largest.
  • According to the 2011 census, there are at least 5.92 lakh Tripuris in the state, followed by Bru or Reang (1.88 lakh) and Jamatias (83,000).

Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council

  • The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC) was formed under the sixth schedule of the Constitution in 1985 to ensure development and secure the rights and cultural heritage of the tribal communities.
  • ‘Greater Tipraland’ envisages a situation in which the entire TTADC area will be a separate state. It also proposes dedicated bodies to secure the rights of the Tripuris and other aboriginal communities living outside Tripura.
  • The TTADC, which has legislative and executive powers, covers nearly two-third of the state’s geographical area.
  • The council comprises 30 members of which 28 are elected while two are nominated by the Governor.
  • Also, out of the 60 Assembly seats in the state, 20 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Back to Basics: Article 2 & 3

  • Article 2: Parliament may by law admit into the Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. However, Parliament cannot establish a new union territory by passing a law, that can only be done through a constitutional amendment. States like Sikkim (previously not within India) became a part of the country under Article 2.
  • Article 3: It empowered the Parliament to make law relating to the formation of new states and alteration of existing states.

-Source: Indian Express


China’s export growth slows, imports quicken on demand

Context:

Export growth decelerated from 2021 October’s 27.1% and Imports surged 31.7% faster than the previous month’s 20.6% rate in China.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s Slowing exports and rising imports
  2. Why is China’s Growth slowing down?
  3. Impact of this Chinese Economy slowdown

About China’s Slowing exports and rising imports

  • China’s exports have been boosted by foreign demand at a time when other global competitors are hampered by anti-coronavirus controls.
  • Economic growth sank to an unexpectedly low 4.9% over a year earlier in the three months ended in September 2021.
  • Stronger imports suggest consumer and other demand is rebounding after a dip brought on by a government crackdown on debt in the real estate industry.
  • Factory activity also was hampered by power shortages that started in September 2021 and the global shortage of semiconductors used in products from cars to smartphones.

Why is China’s Growth slowing down?

  • China did well in reviving economic growth after the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, the reference point of higher levels of growth rate in the previous quarter is resulting in a lower growth rate.
  • China is going through a ‘mature’ stage of economic development i.e., an economy which has witnessed a double-digit growth for two decades is bound to face a slowdown.
  • A surge in coal prices and a resultant electricity shortage prompted provincial governments to cut power supplies. This fuel/power crisis in China continues to affect factories and units across the country’s industrial heartland in its south east have had to curtail output.
  • The Real Estate Sector which accounts for about a quarter of China’s GDP, is now beginning to show signs of perceptible slowdown. The reason for this slowdown can be primarily attributed to the Evergrande fiasco – wherein the real estate giant (Evergrande) in China is struggling to avoid defaulting on billions of dollars owed to bond holders.

Impact of this Chinese Economy slowdown

  • China’s control of pandemic and restarting its industries has played an instrumental role in the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
  • The Chinese economy falling into systemic risks could lead to overall loss of momentum to the global post-pandemic economic recovery.
  • US-China trade war, has resulted in slowdown in Chinese exports resulting in losses for the countries (especially South Asian Countries) that depend on China for ‘Supply Value Chain’ for producing components and other finished goods.

Impact on India

  • India depends majorly on imports from China including smartphones and automobile components, telecom equipment, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other chemicals and India’s bilateral trade with China has grown nearly 50% in the first nine months of 2021. – Thus, slowing the Indian economy will have an impact on India’s consumer market and infrastructure development.
  • India’s buoyant iron ore exports, much of which is headed to China, could also see an impact if the twin crises in China triggers an extended slowdown in the Chinese real estate market.
  • Slowing Chinese economy can trigger an investment outflow from India. If India can expedite the economic reforms, it can become the next global manufacturing hub.

-Source: The Hindu

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