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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 12 July 2021

Contents

  1. Set aside preconditions for peace process: Nagaland panel
  2. U.P.’s new population policy
  3. A proposed elephant reserve in Chhattisgarh
  4. Electing a Speaker and Deputy Speaker
  5. Bihar’s Kesaria Buddha stupa waterlogged

Set aside preconditions for peace process: Nagaland panel

Context:

A panel of Nagaland’s lawmakers asked the negotiating parties of the “Indo-Naga” political dialogue to resume the peace talks with a positive approach, setting aside the preconditions in the “greater interest of the people’s cry for long-term peace”.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Centre-State Relations), GS-I: Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are the Nagas and what is the Naga Issue?
  2. Peace Initiatives with the Naga
  3. NSCN-IM
  4. NSCN-IM stand and the deadlock

Who are the Nagas and what is the Naga Issue?

  • The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community, belonging to Indo-Mongoloid Family, that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.
  • There are nineteen major Naga tribes, namely, Aos, Angamis, Changs, Chakesang, Kabuis, Kacharis, Khain-Mangas, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas (Lothas), Maos, Mikirs, Phoms, Rengmas, Sangtams, Semas, Tankhuls, Yamchumgar and Zeeliang.
  • The key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim (sovereign statehood) i.e., redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella.
  • The Naga inhabited areas include various parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Myanmar.
  • The demand also includes the separate Naga Yezabo (Constitution) and Naga national flag.

Peace Initiatives with the Naga

  • Shillong Accord (1975): A peace accord was signed in Shillong in which the NNC leadership agreed to give up arms. However, several leaders refused to accept the agreement, which led to the split of NNC.
  • Ceasefire Agreement (1997): The NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement with the government to stop attacks on Indian armed forces. In return, the government would stop all counter-insurgency offensive operations.
  • Framework Agreement (2015): In this agreement, the Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. The NSCN also appreciated the Indian political system and governance. However, the details of the agreement are yet to be released by the government.
  • Recently, the State government decided to prepare the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland but later due to pressure from various fractions, the decision was put on hold.

Issues:

  • The 2015 agreement apparently made the peace process inclusive but it created suspicion about the central government exploiting divisions within the Nagas on tribal and geopolitical lines.
  • The issue of integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in view of the demand for territorial unification of ‘Greater Nagalim’ will trigger violent clashes in the different affected states.
  • Another major hindrance to the peace process in Nagaland is the existence of more than one organisation, each claiming to be representative of the Nagas.

NSCN-IM

  • The Isaak Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IM), one of the largest Naga groups fighting for an independent Naga homeland.
  • They have been engaged in guerrilla warfare against successive Indian administrations since the 1950s.
  • One of the main demands of NSCN-IM has been the creation of a sovereign Naga territory that includes Naga-inhabited parts of neighbouring states like Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as well as a portion of Burma across the international border, and leaders from those states have long been wary of any accord that would allow the annexation of parts of their land.
  • Lack of infrastructure development in the region is one of the perceived reasons for the decades’ long insurgency.
  • In 2015, NSCN-IM had entered into an historic Peace Accord (Framework Agreement) with Union government to bring lasting peace in Nagaland.

NSCN-IM stand and the deadlock

  • The Naga talks have hit the deadlock since early 2020 as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-(Isak Muivah) (NSCN-IM) leader has refused to hold any dialogue with interlocutor and Nagaland Governor R.N Ravi.
  • The Governor’s letter to the Nagaland Chief Minister saying “over half a dozen organized armed gangs were brazenly running their respective ‘so called governments’ challenging the legitimacy of the State government” had caused the situation to worsen.
  • There was also an order asking government officials to declare if their family members or relatives are members of any “underground organisation.”
  • NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 2001, hence they took offense with the “organized armed gangs” view.
  • And also given that in a tribal set-up most people are related to each other, asking government officials to declare regarding their family members was seen as insensitive.
  • Following the failure of the breakdown of communication between the NSCN-IM and the Nagaland Governor, the Union Home Minister deputed a team of Intelligence Bureau officials to continue the discussions with the NSCN-IM.

-Source: The Hindu


U.P.’s new population policy

Context:

Uttar Pradesh (UP) unveiled its New Population Policy 2021-30, on the occasion of World Population Day (11th July).

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society (Population and Associated Issues), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About U.P.’s New Population Policy
  2. What is Two-Child Policy?
  3. Criticisms related to two- child policy:
  4. Two-Child Policy in Indian States

About U.P.’s New Population Policy

  • The U.P. government’s law commission has also prepared a population control bill, under which a two-child norm will be implemented and promoted.
  • As per the draft, violation of the policy is penalised with measures such as barring for elections and abidance is rewarded with measures such as promotion in jobs, subsidy etc.
  • The new policy aims to
    1. Decrease the Total Fertility Rate
    2. Increase Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate
    3. Increase male methods of contraception use
    4. Decrease Maternal Mortality Rate, Infant Mortality Rate and Under 5 Infant Mortality Rate.
  • Targeting population stabilization, the draft of the policy also said the state would attempt to maintain a balance of population among the various communities.

What is Two-Child Policy?

  • The two-child policy is a state-imposed limit of two children allowed per family or the payment of government subsidies only to the first two children.
  • A two-child policy has previously been used in several countries including Iran, Singapore, and Vietnam.
  • In British Hong Kong in the 1970s, citizens were also highly encouraged to have two children as a limit (although it was not mandated by law), and it was used as part of the region’s family planning strategies.
  • Since 2016, it has been re-implemented in China replacing the country’s previous one-child policy.

Criticisms related to two- child policy:

  • Critics argue that the population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated.
  • There are already well-documented problems with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys and millions of undocumented children who were born to parents that already had their one child.
  • By interfering with the birth rate, India faces a future with severe negative population growth, a serious problem that most developed countries are trying to reverse. With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for the social services.
  • The law related may also be anti-women. Human rights activists argue that the law discriminate against women right from birth (through abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and babies).
  • A legal restriction to two children could force couples to go for sex-selective abortions as there are only two ‘attempts’.

Two-Child Policy in Indian States

  • Maharashtra: Maharashtra is one of the few states in the country that have a ‘two children’ policy for appointment in government jobs or even for the elections of some local government bodies. The Maharashtra Zilla Parishads And Panchayat Samitis Act disqualifies people who have more than two children from contesting local body elections (gram panchayats to municipal corporations). The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005 states that a person having more than two children is disqualified from holding a post in the state government. Women with more than two children are also not allowed to benefit from the Public Distribution System.
  • Rajasthan: For government jobs, candidates who have more than two children are not eligible for appointment. The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act 1994 says that if a person has more than two children, he will be disqualified from contesting election as a panch or a member. However, the previous BJP government relaxed the two-child norm in case of a disabled child.
  • Madhya Pradesh: The state follows the two-child norm since 2001. Under Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (General Condition of Services) Rules, if the third child was born on or after January 26, 2001, one becomes ineligible for government service. The rule also applies to higher judicial services.
  • Telangana and Andhra Pradesh: Under Section 19 (3) read with Sections 156 (2) and 184 (2) of Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, a person with more than two children shall be disqualified from contesting election. However, if a person had more than two children before May 30, 1994, he or she will not be disqualified.
  • Gujarat: In 2005, the government amended the Gujarat Local Authorities Act. The amendment disqualifies anyone with more than two children from contesting elections for bodies of local self-governance — panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations.
  • Uttarakhand: The state government had decided to bar people with more than two children from contesting panchayat elections and had passed a Bill in Vidhan Sabha in this regard. But the decision was challenged in the High Court by those preparing for village pradhan and gram panchayat ward member elections, and they got relief from the court. Hence, the condition of two-child norm was applied to only those who contested the elections of zila panchayat and blocks development committee membership.
  • Karnataka: The Karnataka (Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj) Act, 1993 does not bar individuals with more than two children from contesting elections to local bodies like the gram panchayat. The law, however, says that a person is ineligible to contest “if he does not have a sanitary latrine for the use of the members of his family”.
  • Odisha: The Odisha Zilla Parishad Act bars those individuals with more than two children from contesting.
  • Assam: The Assam government announced in 2019 that people who have more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs, with effect from 1 January 2021.

-Source: The Hindu


A proposed elephant reserve in Chhattisgarh

Context:

The Chhattisgarh government has proposed to reduce the area of Lemru Elephant Reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important Protected Areas, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?
  2. Significance of Reserve
  3. What is Project Elephant?

What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?

  • The Lemru Elephant Reserve is located in the Korba district of Chhattisgarh and aims at reducing human-animal conflict and destruction of property in addition to providing a permanent habitat to the elephants.
  • The Centre gave its approval in 2007 for the creation of the 450 sq km Lemru Elephant Reserve and in 2019, the state government decided to increase the area to 1,995 sq km.
  • Earlier, the state government notified the reserve (Conservation Reserve) in 2020 under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA). The WLPA has a special provision that gives the Union government a say in the process of notification in case the land to be notified as conservation reserve has areas belonging to the Centre.
  • The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
  • The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.

Significance of Reserve

  • North Chhattisgarh alone is home to over 240 elephants. More than 150 elephants have died in the state over the last 20 years, including 16 between June and October 2020.
  • Elephants in Chhattisgarh are relatively new; they started moving into undivided Madhya Pradesh (MP) in 1990.
  • While MP had a policy of pushing back the animals coming from Jharkhand, after Chhattisgarh was formed, the lack of a formal policy allowed elephants to use as a corridor a route in the north and central parts of the state.
  • Since these animals were relatively new, human-animal conflict started once elephants started straying into inhabited areas, looking for food.

What is Project Elephant?

  • Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
  • Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.
  • It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.
  • This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

-Source: Indian Express


Electing a Speaker and Deputy Speaker

Context:

Maharashtra has been without a Speaker since February, 2021 while Lok Sabha and several State Assemblies are without a Deputy Speaker.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Legislature)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Speaker of Lok Sabha
  2. Election and Term of Office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha
  3. Vacancy of office

Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha (Or the Legislative Assemblies of the States), and its representative and his/her decision in any Parliamentary matter is final.
  • He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, apart from being the principal spokesman of the House.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives his powers and duties from three sources: Usually, a member belonging to the ruling party is elected Speaker. The process has evolved over the years where the ruling party nominates its candidate after informal consultations with leaders of other parties and groups in the House.
  • This convention ensures that once elected, the Speaker enjoys the respect of all sections of the House.
    • The Constitution of India,
    • The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha, and
    • Parliamentary Conventions (residuary powers that are unwritten or unspecified in the Rules).

Election and Term of Office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • The Speaker of the LS is chosen by the members of LS from among themselves, after the first meeting of the Lok Sabha.
  • The Speaker (along with the Deputy Speaker) is elected from among the Lok Sabha members by a simple majority of members present and voting in the House.
  • Although there are no specific qualifications prescribed for being elected the Speaker, an understanding of the Constitution and the laws of the country is considered a major asset for the holder of the Office of the Speaker.
  • The Speaker of LS generally remains in office during the life of Lok Sabha. However, to remain in office, he needs to remain a member of the Lok Sabha. Whenever the Lok Sabha is dissolved, its Speaker continues to remain in office until immediately before the first meeting of Lok Sabha after it is reconstituted.

Vacancy of office

  • If a Speaker is disqualified to be a member of Lok Sabha due to any reason, he/she also ceases to be a Speaker.
  • The Speaker can also vacate his office by addressing a resignation letter to Deputy Speaker.
  • He can also be removed by the members of Lok Sabha by a resolution (with the support of at least 50 members) passed by an absolute majority of the LS (50% of the total membership of the House).
  • When such resolution is under consideration of the house, Speaker cannot preside the meeting of the house but can participate and vote (except the casting vote in case of an equality of votes.)
  • When the Speaker’s seat falls vacant, the members elect another speaker on a date fixed by the President.

Removal of Speaker

  • Under following conditions, the speaker, may have to vacate the office earlier:
    1. If he ceases to be a member of the Lok Sabha.
    2. If he resigns by writing to the Deputy Speaker.
    3. If he is removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the members of the Lok Sabha.
      1. Such a resolution can be moved only after giving 14 days’ advance notice.
      2. When a resolution for the removal of the Speaker is under consideration of the House, he/she may be present at the sitting but not preside.

-Source: Indian Express


Bihar’s Kesaria Buddha stupa waterlogged

Context:

Kesaria Buddha stupa in east Champaran district of Bihar is waterlogged following floods in some parts of the district.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Art and Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Stupas
  2. About Kesaria Buddha stupa

About Stupas

  • The Stupas holds the most important place among all the earliest Buddhist architecture. They offer the earliest sculptural representations of important episodes in the Buddha s life and of the Jataka stories.
  • A Stupa is a dome-shaped sacred burial mound of brick which was used to house Buddha’s relics or to commemorate significant facts and events related to Buddhism.
  • The earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of Buddhist stupas dates back to the late 4th century BCE. In India, Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati and Bharhut are among the oldest known stupas.

Characteristics of Stupas

  • Initially, mounds of Earth are taken to form the core of the stupa. In due course of time, the earthen mound is encased in bricks. The brick encasing is sometimes superimposed by a cover of stones.
  • Stupas are usually built on a foundation laid with blocks of stone or bricks. On this foundation, a hemispherical dome (anda) was raised.
  • In later years, the drum of the stupa became more elongated and elevated. Almost it took the form of a cylindrical vessel.
  • On the truncated top of the hemisphere, a harmika is placed, surrounded by a railing.
  • The stupa is enclosed by a vedika. At Barhut, Sanchi and Amaravati the vedika consisted of upright pillars with three transverse bars known as the suchi. The railing is provided with four gateways.
  • A path of circumambulation (Pradakshinapath) runs around the stupa at the ground level within the railing.
  • Toranas were ceremonial gateways around the stupas.

About Kesaria Buddha stupa

  • The Kesaria Buddha stupa is said to be the tallest and the largest Buddhist stupa in the world.
  • It is located in Kesariya, at a distance of 110 kilometers from Patna, in the East Champaran district of Bihar.
  • It has a circumference of almost 400 feet and stands at a height of about 104 feet.
  • The first construction of the Stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE. The original Kesaria stupa probably dates to the time of Ashoka (circa 250 BCE), as the remains of a capital of a Pillar of Ashoka were discovered there.
  • The current stupa dates to the Gupta Dynasty between 200 AD and 750 AD and may have been associated with the 4th century ruler Raja Chakravarti.
  • The stupa mound may even have been inaugurated during the Buddha’s time, as it corresponds in many respects to the description of the stupa erected by the Licchavis of Vaishali to house the alms bowl the Buddha has given them. In ancient times, Kesaria was under the rule of the Mauryas and the Licchavis.

-Source: The Hindu

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