- India’s commitment to security in Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
- Five Central Asian leaders invited for Republic Day
- Trafficking in Persons Draft Bill 2021
India’s commitment to security in Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
- India remained committed to promoting a free, open and rules-based order rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, the Centre informed Parliament while reiterating support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- The government has stated that it stands committed to promoting a free, open and rules-based order rooted in international law and has stated that it would remain undaunted by coercion. This seems to be in reference to China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.
GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbours, Foreign Policies Affecting India’s interests)
Dimensions of the Article:
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- About the Indian Ocean
- Challenges in Indian Ocean Region
- Significance of Indian Ocean for India
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the international agreement defining the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
- UNCLOS replaces the older ‘freedom of the seas’ concept, dating from the 17th century: national rights were limited to a specified belt of water extending from a nation’s coastlines according to the ‘cannon shot’ rule.
- All waters beyond national boundaries were considered international waters: free to all nations, but belonging to none of them.
- While India ratified UNCLOS in 1995, the U.S. has failed to do it so far.
About the Indian Ocean
- India is a peninsular country which is surrounded by Indian Ocean on three sides. The geographical location of India makes Indian Ocean integral part of its foreign policy, security decision, trade etc.
- The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world, covering around 20% of the Earth’s water surface.
- At present, Indian Ocean carries about half of world’s container shipment, one-third of bulk cargo traffic and two-third of oil shipments. Its littoral states are densely populated with over 40% of global population which makes it an attractive market.
- It also carries 90% of India’s trade by volume and 90% of oil imports.
- With the changing geopolitical equations of the world powers such as USA and China, importance of Indian Ocean has increased.
About the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
- The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) comprises of the Indian Ocean and the countries bordering it– Australia, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Madagascar, Somalia, Tanzania, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
- The Indian Ocean has 51 coastal and landlocked states- 26 Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) states, 5 Red Sea states, 4 Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and 13 landlocked states.
- The IOR is home to around 2.5 billion people or one-third of the population of our planet.
- Around 55% of the oil reserves and 40% of the gas reserves are in this region.
- The IOR is plentiful in energy resources and minerals including gold, tin, uranium, cobalt, nickel, aluminium and cadmium. The region furthermore contains abundant fishing resources.
- The IOR has four important waterways:
- Suez Canal (Egypt),
- Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen),
- Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman), and
- Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia).
- The main seaports of IOR are:
- Chennai (Madras, India);
- Colombo (Sri Lanka);
- Durban (South Africa);
- Jakarta (Indonesia);
- Kolkata(Calcutta, India);
- Melbourne (Australia);
- Mumbai (Bombay, India);
- Richards Bay (South Africa).
Important International Organizations and Groupings of the IOR
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)
- The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)
- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
- Southern African Development Community (SADC)
- East African Community (EAC)
- Indian Ocean Commission (COI)
- The Arab League, or League of Arab States
- The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
- The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA)
Challenges in Indian Ocean Region
- Despite a decline in piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Indian Ocean has been witnessing a sudden rise in non-traditional challenges.
- Maritime crime has been increasing, with a record number of drug hauls in the Asian littoral in the recent years.
- Migration and human trafficking in South and Southeast Asia too has registered a surge in numbers. A rise in refugee movement from Bangladesh and Myanmar resulted in a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.
Significance of Indian Ocean for India
- Geostrategic location –Indian Ocean gives India access to the South-Asia, South East Asia, Africa, West Asia and Oceania which are important from the point of view of energy, economic trade and security.
- Choke points i.e., Strait of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Strait of Malacca, Sunda strait and Lombok are important for not only India but also global trade.
- It’s also important for India to counter the increasing Chinese dominance over Indian Ocean. China at present is developing several ports in Indian Ocean such as Hambantota, in Mauritius, Gwadar in Pakistan etc.
- Economic Integration – India is an Emerging Market Economy which will benefit through its trade links with South East Asia, South Asia, Africa, West Asia and Oceania.
- Africa currently holds enormous potential for energy exploration, mineral resources and employment opportunities for Indian diaspora.
- Australia which is the biggest nation in the Indian Ocean is already a world leader and its partnership with India would benefit Indian economy in more than one way i.e. access to nuclear energy, new economic market for Indian goods, people to people contact etc.
- South East and West Asia is important to India for its abundant oil reserves and other mineral resources.
- Security – Due to possibility of terrorist attacks and increasing presence of China in Indian Ocean such as inauguration of first overseas military base in Djibouti, Indian Ocean has become an integral part of India’s maritime policy. China also inaugurated its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
- The new Maritime Security Policy of 2015 highlights the need to develop seamless and holistic approach for greater coordination between various maritime agencies.
- It also validates the use of Indian Navy as an instrument to secure the blurring traditional and non-traditional sea lines of communication for the purpose of economic integration.
- The Indian Navy played a pivotal role in containing piracy on the high seas and is positioning itself as the “net security provider” in the broader Indian Ocean region with capacity building, joint exercises and increased multilateral exchanges.
- Energy Security: India is world’s third largest oil importer with maximum import from West and South-east Asian countries. For this purpose, Indian Ocean is a very important medium for India’s energy security.
- Ocean Resources: India is highly dependent upon ocean resources such as fishing and aquaculture. India is also involved in deep sea mineral exploration in Central Indian Ocean with ship Samudra Ratnakar from South Korea.
- Emerging Geopolitics: While India has been increasing its outreach in Indian Ocean under SAGAR — Security and Growth for All in the Region strategy, now it is also trying to increase its centrality in the wider Indo-Pacific, a concept which situates India at the very heart of the changing geopolitical transitions in the region.
- Multilateral Cooperation: Indian Ocean RIM Association; India is planning to expand and further invigorate IORA’s activities, from renewable energy and the blue economy to maritime safety and security, water science and greater institutional and think-tank networking.
- Earlier 21-member states of IORA had issued a strategic vision document, known as the Jakarta Concord, that “sets out a vision for a revitalized and sustainable regional architecture’’.
- Besides maximizing the potential of trade, investment and economic cooperation in the region, the Jakarta Concord also aims to address non-traditional issues, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, human trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal migration and piracy.
- A Declaration on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was also adopted last year.
-Source: The Hindu
India is awaiting responses from leaders of five Central Asian nations to an invitation to attend as chief guests of Republic Day 2022. If they accept, this will be the first time all five countries would attend the Republic Day parade together, although Kazakhstan’s former President Nursultan Nazarbayez was the chief guest in 2009.
The invite for Republic Day celebrations has diplomatic undertones and the invitation to the leaders of the five Central Asian nations seems to be part of India’s reach-out to the former Soviet states that have received enhanced attention during the recent years.
GS-II: International Relations (India’s Foreign policy, Foreign Policies, Treaties and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Central Asia
- What is the genesis of India-Central Asia relations?
- What are India’s strategic interests in Central Asia?
- Recent ties between India and Central Asian countries
About Central Asia
- Central Asia is the central region of Asia, extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to the border of western China in the east.
- It is bounded on the north by Russia and on the south by Iran, Afghanistan, and China.
- The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.
- All of these nations became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR.
- On the east and south Central Asia is bounded by the western Altai and other high mountain ranges extending into Iran, Afghanistan, and western China.
- Central Asia’s landscape can be divided into the vast grassy steppes of Kazakhstan in the north and the Aral Sea drainage basin in the south. About 60 percent of the region consists of desert land, the principal deserts being the Karakum, occupying most of Turkmenistan, and the Kyzylkum, covering much of western Uzbekistan.
- The scarcity of water has led to a very uneven population distribution, with most people living along the fertile banks of the rivers or in fertile mountain foothills in the southeast; comparatively few live in the vast arid expanses of central and western Kazakhstan and western Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
- The five largest ethnic groups in Central Asia are, in descending order of size, the Uzbek, Kazakh, Tajik, Turkmen, and Kyrgyz.
What is the genesis of India-Central Asia relations?
- India’s relations with the Central Asian countries can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road, along which people, goods and ideas flowed.
- During the period of the Kushan Empire, which spanned across the territories of modern Central Asia and India, the people-to-people contact, cultural and economic ties were flourishing.
- The dissolution of the ancient Silk Road, the invasion of Central Asia by Russia and China and the Anglo-Russian rivalry has limited the exchanges between India and Central Asia.
- Immediately after independence, India maintained limited ties with Central Asian countries because of the former’s excessive focus on the immediate neighbourhood, major powers in the international arena and other Afro-Asian countries.
- This may be because of the lack of shared boundaries.
- Following the USSR dissolution, the five Central Asian countries gained independence and India started to improve ties with them.
- India was the only non-communist country with a diplomatic presence in the region.
- It was also one of the first to accord diplomatic recognition to the newly independent countries.
- Immediately after the formation of the Central Asian states, New Delhi signed agreements focusing on expanding Indian trade, investment and developmental assistance.
- At present, Central Asia is considered to be a part of India’s extended neighbourhood.
What are India’s strategic interests in Central Asia?
- Central Asia sits at the heart of Eurasia, making it strategically vital for countries like the US, China, Russia, Europe and India.
- This is because it serves as a pivot for geopolitical transformations within the international arena.
- Many countries are currently competing to increase influence and power over the region.
- Through this region, countries like India and China can expand their markets throughout Eurasia.
- Apart from its geostrategic position, Central Asia has been rich with natural resources – Turkmenistan with gas, Kazakhstan with gas and uranium, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with hydropower.
- With a population of 33 million in the 1990s, this region is potentially a large market.
Recent ties between India and Central Asian countries
- In Kyrgyzstan, the External Affairs Minister extended a credit line of $200 million for the support of development projects and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP).
- In Kazakhstan, the External Affairs Minister attended the 6th Foreign Ministers’ Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). At CICA, he targeted China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Admonishing China’s methods in promoting the BRI, he said while greater connectivity was essential for the promotion of regional stability, it must not be pursued for parochial interests. He also confronted Pakistan for its support towards cross-border terrorism.
- New Delhi signed the Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPA) with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to stimulate defence cooperation and deepen trade relations.
- In 2012, New Delhi’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy aimed at furthering India’s political, economic, historical and cultural connections with the region. However, India’s efforts were stonewalled by Pakistan’s lack of willingness to allow India passage through its territory. China took advantage of the situation and unveiled the much-hyped BRI in Kazakhstan.
- Mr. Jaishankar has become the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit Armenia. The two countries agreed to enhance trade and cultural exchanges to boost bilateral relations. India also supported efforts for a peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk group.
-Source: The Hindu
Trafficking in Persons Draft Bill 2021
The Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) has written to the Ministry of Women and Child Development identifying gaps in the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) draft Bill 2021, which is expected to be tabled in the Winter session of Parliament.
GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Human Trafficking
- Legislative Framework on Human Trafficking:
- Reasons for Human Trafficking:
- Government Efforts against Trafficking
- Provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Draft Bill 2021
- Issues with the Bill
About Human Trafficking
- Elements of Human Trafficking: Trafficking in persons has three constituent elements:
- The Act (What is done): Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons;
- The Means (How it is done): Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim;
- The Purpose (Why it is done): For exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
Legislative Framework on Human Trafficking:
- The Constitution of India:
- Article 23 which prohibits trafficking in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour.
- Article 39(e) and 39(f) which ordain that the health and strength of individuals are not abused and that no one is forced by the economic necessity to do work unsuited to their age or strength and that childhood and youth should be protected against exploitation.
- Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956: It is the only legislation which specifically addresses Trafficking. It penalizes trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation.
- Other Legislations: There are some more legislations which directly or indirectly deal with human trafficking like:
- Indian Penal Code, 1860;
- Bonded labour system (Abolition) Act, 1976;
- Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986;
- Juvenile Justice Act, 2000;
- Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and
- Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 (Nirbhaya Act)
Reasons for Human Trafficking:
Poverty is one of the main driving force behind human trafficking. Other factors include:
- Caste and gender-based discrimination along with commodification of women (bride trafficking)
- Lack of resources and lack of human and social capital,
- Social insecurity and exclusion,
- Inadequate and outdated state policies,
- Nexus of police and traffickers,
- Cheap child labour,
- Lack of awareness etc.
Government Efforts against Trafficking
- Project on “strengthening the law enforcement response in India against trafficking in persons through training and capacity building”: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in association with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has initiated a two year project for training the Law Enforcement Officers on human trafficking in four States, namely Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
- Coordination Meetings: The MHA conducts regular coordination meetings with the Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) of States/UTs for effective inter-state coordination.
- Since ‘Police’ is a State subject, registration, investigation and prevention of human trafficking is primarily the responsibility of State Governments.
- IGNOU Certificate Course: The course is mandatory for the Officers/Officials dealing with such cases to develop a comprehensive and functional understanding on anti-human trafficking.
- Anti-Trafficking Cell: The MHA has set up a nodal cell for dealing with matters relating to trafficking in human beings.
- Web Portal on Anti-Human Trafficking: A Website on Anti Human Trafficking has been launched.
- Ujjawala Scheme: The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing “Ujjawala” –a Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of Trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation, Re-integration and Repatriation of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation. The Schemes provide shelter, food and clothing, counseling, medical care, legal aid and other support, vocational training and income generation activities for the victims.
Provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Draft Bill 2021
- Provisions of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Draft Bill 2021 extends to all citizens inside as well as outside India including: persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be / A foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act.
- The law will apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
- It extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims to now include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.
- It also does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.
- It also defines exploitation to include: The exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography, any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research.
- According to the draft, Offenders will also include defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.
- It includes provisions for a minimum of seven years of imprisonment which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh in most cases of child trafficking.
- In case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.
- Property bought via such income as well as used for trafficking can now be forfeited with provisions set in place, similar to that of the money laundering Act.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) shall act as the national investigating and coordinating agency responsible for prevention and combating of trafficking in persons.
National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee
- Once the law is enacted, the Centre will notify and establish a National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, for ensuring overall effective implementation of the provisions of this law.
- This committee will have representation from various ministries with the home secretary as the chairperson and secretary of the women and child development ministry as co-chair.
- State and district level anti-human trafficking committees will also be constituted.
Issues with the Bill
- While the Bill provides rehabilitation to the survivors, it does not extend the relief beyond shelter homes. There is a demand for a community-based rehabilitation model that provides health services, legal aid, access to welfare schemes and income opportunities crucial for ensuring “all-round reintegration of victims’’ back into their community and family.
- According to the United Nations’ human rights experts, it was not in accordance with the international human rights laws.
- The Bill seemed to combine sex work and migration with trafficking.
- The Bill was criticised for addressing trafficking through a criminal law perspective instead of complementing it with a human-rights based and victim-centred approach.
- It was also criticised for promoting “rescue raids” by the police as well as institutionalisation of victims in the name of rehabilitation.
- It was pointed out that certain vague provisions would lead to blanket criminalisation of activities that do not necessarily relate to trafficking.
-Source: The Hindu