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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 10 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. SC: Why monitor foreign funds for NGOs?
  2. China exports warship to Pakistan
  3. India’s submarine strength explained
  4. Migrants trapped in Belarus-Poland stand-off

SC: Why monitor foreign funds for NGOs?

Context:

The Supreme Court asked the government why the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been tasked to keep an eye on the inflow and subsequent outflow of foreign funds to NGOs under the foreign contributions regulations law.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies & Interventions, Non-Governmental Organisations -NGOs)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
  2. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020
  3. About the MHA guidelines regarding FCRA and NGOs
  4. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India
  5. Why have NGOs been controversial recently?
  6. Government’s arguments

About the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

  • The Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act, 2010 is a consolidating act whose scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Key Points regarding FCRA

  • Foreign funding of voluntary organizations in India is regulated under FCRA act and is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The FCRA regulates the receipt of funding from sources outside of India to NGOs working in India.
  • It prohibits the receipt of foreign contribution “for any activities detrimental to the national interest”.
  • The Act held that the government can refuse permission if it believes that the donation to the NGO will adversely affect “public interest” or the “economic interest of the state”. However, there is no clear guidance on what constitutes “public interest”.
  • The Acts ensures that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.
  • Under the Act, organisations require to register themselves every five years.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020

  • The Act bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions. Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
  • The Act prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person not registered to accept foreign contributions.
  • The Act makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document.
  • The Act states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
  • The Act proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
  • The Act allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.

About the MHA guidelines regarding FCRA and NGOs

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new regulating guidelines to banks under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. It states that the donations received in Indian rupees by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations from any foreign source (even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation) should be treated as foreign contribution.
  • Under the issued regulations, donations given in Indian rupees (INR) by any foreigner/foreign source including foreigners of Indian origin like Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) or Person of India Origin (PIO) cardholders should also be treated as foreign contribution.
  • The guidelines mandate that good practices should be followed by NGOs in accordance with standards of global financial watchdog- Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • MHA asked NGOs to inform the Ministry about “suspicious activities” of any donor or recipient and “take due diligence of its employees at the time of recruitment.”
  • Several NGOs have argued that the amendment severely restricted the use of foreign funds by them for their activities and also restricts their ability to transfer funds to other philanthropic organisations within the country.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India

  • Worldwide, the term ‘NGO’ is used to describe a body that is neither part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business organisation.
  • NGOs are groups of ordinary citizens that are involved in a wide range of activities that may have charitable, social, political, religious or other interests.
  • In India, NGOs can be registered under a plethora of Acts such as the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, Religious Endowments Act,1863, Indian Trusts Act, etc.
  • India has possibly the largest number of active NGOs in the world.
  • Ministries such as Health and Family Welfare, Human Resource Department, etc., provide funding to NGOs, but only a handful of NGOs get hefty government funds.
  • NGOs also receive funds from abroad, if they are registered with the Home Ministry under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). There are more than 22,500 FCRA-registered NGOs.
  • Registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution under five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.

Why have NGOs been controversial recently?

  • An Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, submitted to the PMO and National Security Adviser in 2019, alleged that several foreign-funded NGOs were stalling India’s economic growth by their obstructionist activism.
  • In 2015, the Home Ministry had cancelled the FCRA licences of 10,000 organisations.
  • The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution are being not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under amended provisions of the FCRA 2010.
  • Recently, the Union Home Ministry has suspended licenses of the six (NGOs) who were alleged to have used foreign contributions for religious conversion.
  • Recently the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against a foreign based group that provides funds for secessionist and pro-Khalistani activities in India.

Government’s arguments

  • There have been Intelligence Bureau (IB) inputs showing the utilization of incoming foreign funds for funding activities that destabilise national peace and security. The inputs even indicated that the money was used to train naxals. The element of national security and integrity of the nation involved in the inflow of foreign funds necessitates the involvement of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the regulation of foreign funding to NGOs.
  • The provision to make Aadhaar mandatory for the registration of NGOs will make it easy to identify the recipients of foreign funds.
  • The amendments will bring in much-needed transparency and accountability in the functioning of NGOs by letting the government monitor the flow of foreign funds to NGOs.
  • The law mandating the NGOs to use foreign funds they receive for the registered purposes or activities — social, educational, religious, cultural and economic — avoids possible misutilization of the funds. The amendment also helps prevent NGOs from acting as “middlemen” between foreign contributors and local, unregistered NGOs.
  • The provision to decrease administrative expenses by an organisation to 20% from 50% earlier also helps ensure that a greater part of the foreign funds is actually used by NGOs for their registered objectives.

-Source: The Hindu


China exports warship to Pakistan

Context:

China delivered to Pakistan’s Navy what its official media described as the “most advanced” Chinese warship ever exported, which is to be deployed by Pakistan in the Indian Ocean.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s frigate export to Pakistan
  2. China-Pakistan
  3. China-Pakistan military and strategic relationship
  4. Pakistani concept of borrowed power with China and impact on India

About China’s frigate export to Pakistan

  • The delivery of the Type 054A frigate to Pakistan is the latest example of increasingly close military cooperation, which many Chinese and Pakistani analysts see as aimed at bolstering Pakistani capabilities in an effort to balance India in the region.
  • Pakistan’s envoy to China said that the commissioning of the frigate “in the context of the overall security paradigm of the region” would “strengthen Pakistan Navy’s capabilities to respond to maritime challenges to ensure seaward defence, maintain peace, stability and balance of power in the Indian Ocean region”.

China-Pakistan

  • The China-Pakistan relations are often described as ‘higher than Himalayas’ and of being ‘Iron brothers‘.
  • It is a unique friendship that exists between a god-fearing Pakistan and the godless state of China. Pakistan looks at China as a pole star with respect to its security and China looks at Pakistan as a hub with respect to its South Asia policy.
  • The beauty of the relationship is that it is sacrosanct irrespective of a civilian or a military regime in Pakistan.
  • China has three interests in Pakistan.
  1. Firstly, there is a mutuality between Pakistan and China with respect to undercutting India.
  2. Secondly, the prevention of radical Islam from Afghanistan and Pakistan into the Xinjiang province of China to create a stir amongst the Uyghur Muslims.
  3. Thirdly, Pakistan is a gateway for China to Afghanistan and the Middle East.

China-Pakistan military and strategic relationship

  • The China-Pakistan military and strategic relationship continues to deepen as recently the Pakistan Army inducted its first batch of Chinese-made VT-4 battle tanks.
  • Similarly, Pakistan’s use of Chinese-made combat drones or unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) against India cannot be ignored. After being an importer of drones, China today has emerged as a major exporter of civil and combat UAVs to a number of countries.
  • The China-Pakistan defense trade is not new, but the latest arms deliveries are a sign of a mutual desire to deepen their strategic engagement.
  • The growing number of China-Pakistan military exercises are a further sign of the deepening partnership between the two militaries.
  • Pakistan has been an important partner to China for decades and this importance may have increased further due to the following reasons:
  • China has antagonized a large number of countries with its wolf warrior diplomacy, from its neighborhood in the Indo-Pacific to Europe. This raises the importance of the few real partners it has, like Pakistan.
  • Increasingly worsening relations of China with India have resulted in New Delhi becoming closer to Washington and its allies, including Canberra and Tokyo. India has, in addition, developed a web of security and strategic partnerships including the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Australia, and Japan, (known as the Quad), etc., such that all of these new partnerships are clearly designed to counter China, even if India is reluctant to say that plainly. But all of these also make China depend more on Pakistan to counter India.
  • Another reason for the growing Chinese dependence on Pakistan has to do with the evolving situation in Afghanistan. China has multiple reasons to want workable relations with the Taliban – For one, China is clearly worried about the possibility of the spread of extremists from Afghanistan to Xinjiang. In addition, with the U.S. exiting the theater, China might want to have greater access to Central Asia through Afghanistan. All of this will be possible only through the good offices of Islamabad and the links that the Pakistani establishment has with the Taliban.
  • China might also want to demonstrate its loyalty to close friends such as Pakistan and its capacity to maintain good relations with other countries at a time when its relations with many countries in the region are in trouble.

Pakistani concept of borrowed power with China and impact on India

  • For Pakistan, China fits into the concept of borrowed power, to undercut India.
  • China also serves the interests of Pakistan, be it regionally constraining India or globally vetoing decisions that are harmful to Pakistan that range from blocking India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership to preventing the rise of India as a regional power.
  • China has a very important relationship with Pakistan in the dimension of defence.
  • It has provided Pakistan with nuclear support, ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
  • This support to Pakistan is perceived by China as a low-cost option, which delivers high results.
    1. Firstly, it keeps India bogged down with Pakistan to prevent its healing due to the Pakistani strategy of bleeding India by causing death by a thousand cuts.
    2. Secondly, it always puts pressure on India for the possibility of a two-front war in the future.
  • If military cooperation is at the heart of the China-Pakistan axis, then nuclear cooperation is at the heart of this military axis.

-Source: The Hindu


India’s submarine strength explained

Context:

Recently, the CBI filed two chargesheets against serving and retired naval officers, and some others, for allegedly sharing details of the ongoing modernisation project of India’s Kilo Class submarines.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Status of Submarines in India
  2. Challenges to Indian Naval Buildup

Status of Submarines in India

  • Submarines first became a major factor in naval warfare during World War I (1914–18), also played a similar role on a larger scale in World War II (1939–45).
  • Currently, India has 15 conventional diesel-electric submarines, classified as SSKs, and one nuclear ballistic submarine, classified as SSBN. Most of India’s submarines are over 25 years old, and many are getting refitted.

India’s Modernisation Plan

  • The 30-year plan (2000-30) for indigenous submarine construction, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999, envisaged two production lines of six submarines each, built in India in partnership with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The projects were called P-75 and P-75I.
  • It anticipated that India would get the 12 new submarines by 2012-15. Subsequently, India would make 12 of its own by 2030, taking the fleet size to 24, with the older submarines getting decommissioned. But the contract for P-75 was signed only by 2005, with France’s DCNS, now the Naval Group.

Challenges to Indian Naval Buildup

  • China is already far ahead of India with respect to naval prowess: India’s underwater fleet continues to lack the requisite teeth despite the fact that high seas are the only domain in which India can checkmate China given its natural geographic advantages. China already has the world’s largest navy with 350 warships, including 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines.
  • There are other significant shortfalls of the Indian Navy including essentials capacities such as Advanced Towed Array Sonars (ATAS) to detect enemy submarines, heavyweight torpedoes to neutralize them, and varied air defense systems, all of which are critical not only to their survivability, but also their overall offensive capability.
  • Slow Development of AIP System: The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system allows submarines to stay underwater for longer periods of time without being detected. However, the development of the indigenous AIP system by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has been delayed.
  • Government’s Less Attention to Navy: Much of the Indian budget is focused on the Army, with the air force being a distant second and the navy a poor third. And with naval capability building proving time-consuming and capital-intensive, that leaves India stuck with a continued slow pace of development of its naval capabilities relative to other actors, even as competitors such as China forge ahead more quickly.
  • India cancelled a deal for the heavy-weight Black Shark torpedoes, built by the Finmecannica subsidiary WASS, as a result of an unrelated corruption scandal that involved another subsidiary of Finmecannica, Augusta-Westland.
  • India’s Delay in Modernisation: For example, delay in signing the contract for P-75.

-Source: Indian Express


Migrants trapped in Belarus-Poland stand-off

Context:

Hundreds of desperate migrants were trapped in freezing weather on the border between Belarus and EU and NATO member Poland, with Warsaw accusing the regime in Minsk of using them to threaten European security.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (Maps)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Belarus
  2. About Poland

About Belarus

  • Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Minsk is the capital and largest city.
  • It is bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.
  • Belarus is a developing country, ranking 53rd in the Human Development Index.
  • It has been a member of the United Nations since its founding as well as joined the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU, the OSCE and the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • It has shown no aspirations for joining the European Union but nevertheless maintains a bilateral relationship with the EU.

About Poland

  • Poland is a country located in Central Europe and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.
  • Warsaw is the nation’s capital and largest metropolis.
  • Poland’s topographically diverse territory extends from the beaches along the Baltic Sea in the north to the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains in its south.
  • The country is bordered by Lithuania and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the northeast, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west.
  • Poland is a member state of the Schengen Area, European Union, European Economic Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative and the Visegrád Group.

-Source: The Hindu

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