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Current Affairs 24 December 2021 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. India seeks return of democracy in Myanmar
  2. Population not the sole factor in J&K delimitation
  3. Deadline for credit and debit card data storage norms extended
  4. Mass tagging mission of Olive Ridley Sea turtles

India seeks return of democracy in Myanmar

Context:

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla conveyed that democracy should be restored in Myanmar “at the earliest” to the military rulers of Myanmar during his December 2021 visit.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions, Foreign Policies and developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Myanmar
  2. Form of government in Myanmar
  3. Highlights of India’s Views on Myanmar Government (December 2021)
  4. Importance of Myanmar to India
  5. Issues in India-Myanmar ties

About Myanmar

Myanmar or Burma (officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) is a country in Southeast Asia bordered by:

  • Bangladesh and India to its northwest,
  • China to its northeast,
  • Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast,
  • The Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest.

Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city is Yangon (Rangoon).

  • Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma.
  • Following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture, and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country.
  • The British East India Company seized control of the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century, and the country became a British colony.
  • After a brief Japanese occupation, Myanmar was reconquered by the Allies and granted independence in 1948.
  • Unlike most other former British colonies, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth.
  • Following a coup d’état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship under the Burma Socialist Programme Party.

Form of government in Myanmar

  • In 1948, Burma achieved independence from Britain, and became a democracy based on the parliamentary system. A bicameral parliament was formed, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Nationalities.
  • The military succeeded in its coup d’état of 1962 and established a nominally socialist military government that sought to follow the “Burmese Way to Socialism”.
  • Myanmar’s army-drafted constitution was overwhelmingly approved in 2008, and the Multi-party elections in 2010 ended 5 decades of military rule in Myanmar.
  • The 2015 elections in Myanmar were the first openly contested elections held in Myanmar since 1990 – and this resulted in a resounding victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy raising hope for a successful political transition from a closely held military rule to a free democratic system.
  • Now, Myanmar operates de jure as a unitary assembly-independent republic under its 2008 constitution.
  • The president is the head of state and de jure head of government, and oversees the Cabinet of Myanmar.
  • The Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defense Forces has the right to appoint 25% of the members in all legislative assembly which means that legislations cannot obtain super-majority without support from the Military. This prevents the democratically elected members from amending the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar.
  • Burma’s judicial system is limited. British-era laws and legal systems remain much intact, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial.
  • In Burma, the judiciary is NOT independent of the executive branch.

The Situation of Myanmar government as of December 2021

  • The military, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, had displaced a democratically elected government in Myanmar through a military coup in February 2021.
  • This was followed by protests by citizens demanding the restoration of democracy.
  • The military had launched a campaign against the democratic elements in Myanmar, while the democratic protest has received support from the insurgent groups in Myanmar’s forested regions that border India. This had given rise to a cycle of violence in Myanmar.

Highlights of India’s Views on Myanmar Government (December 2021)

  • The visiting Foreign Secretary has called on the Myanmar administration for the early restoration of democracy and has also conveyed India’s offer to mediate between the various stakeholders to end the crisis in Myanmar through dialogue.
  • The foreign secretary raised India’s past engagements with different stakeholders to stabilise the country.
  • India had hosted various democratic groups of Myanmar for many years after the 1988 crackdown that forced them to seek shelter abroad.
  • India emphasized its interest in seeing normalcy return in Myanmar.
  • The large influx of displaced people from Myanmar into India and the escalating narcotic and insurgent movements in the northeastern States has added to India’s problems.
  • Given that India shares a 1700-km long border with Myanmar that runs along the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, the developments in Myanmar would have a direct impact on India’s bordering regions. Hence peace and stability in Myanmar remain of utmost importance to India.

Importance of Myanmar to India

  • Myanmar is at the heart of Indian government’s Act East policy with the India-Myanmar-Thailand Asian Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan multimodal project, a road-river-port cargo transport project, and BIMSTEC.
  • India is also working closely with the security forces of Myanmar to target the insurgents operating in the country’s northeast.
  • Myanmar is expected to act as the bridge between India and ASEAN, has risen in much significance in the context of India’s Act East Policy, and good neighbourhood policy.
  • Better relations with Myanmar have become crucial for India with China gradually gaining confidence of countries in the region. Further India’s completion of the projects with Myanmar would also prove India to be a responsible regional player, thus improving its reliability.
  • In terms of security and strategic partnership, several deep-sea ports of Myanmar, including Yangon and Dawei, can be crucial for India like Chabahar port in the west.
  • Myanmar is on India’s energy security radar on account of its “abundant oil and natural gas” reserves. Oil and gas companies ONGC Videsh and GAIL are aggressively scouting for more exploratory blocks in Myanmar.
  • Myanmar like the other CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) — represents a rapidly growing economy with rising consumption, strategic location and access, rich natural resources (oil, gas, teak, copper and gemstones), biodiversity and an industrious workforce with low wages. And it offers significant opportunities for trade in goods and services, investment and project exports.

Issues in India-Myanmar ties

  1. The Rohingya crisis: India does not directly engage with the issue of Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority. But India condemned the recent terrorist attacks in northern Rakhine State in a measure of support to Myanmar. Further both sides agreed that there will be no glorification of terrorists as martyrs.
  2. China factor: As China’s profile continues to rise in India’s vicinity, New Delhi would like to enhance India’s presence by developing infrastructure and connectivity projects in the country. India has found it difficult to counter Chinese influence in Myanmar.
  3. Project Delays: India is losing friends because of widespread discontent over continuing delay in completion of flagship projects — Kaladan and the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway. Conceived over a decade back, they are scheduled to be completed by 2019.

-Source: The Hindu


Population not the sole factor in J&K delimitation

Context:

A provision in delimitation acts from 1952 onward, which says other than population, factors like physical features, boundaries of administrative units, communication facilities and public convenience, should be taken into account while drawing constituency boundaries, has led to the Opposition’s concerns over the ongoing delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Initiatives and Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Delimitation?
  2. How delimitation is carried out?
  3. Delimitation Commission
  4. Delimitation Commission Act, 2002
  5. About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

What is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.
  • Delimitation is done in order
    • to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population,
    • to facilitate Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
    • To follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

How delimitation is carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
  • The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
  • The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Delimitation Commission

  • The Delimitation commission (or Boundary commission) of India is a commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.
  • Hence, Delimitation Commission is a Statutory Body, based on Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

Important Points about the Delimitation Commission:

  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • The main task of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census.

The representation from each State is NOT CHANGED during this exercise.

  • However, the number of SC and ST seats in a state are changed in accordance with the census.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • The Commission is a powerful and independent body whose orders cannot be challenged in any court of law.
  • The orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, modifications are NOT permitted.

Delimitation Commission Act, 2002

  • An Act to provide for the readjustment of:
    • The allocation of seats in the House of the People to the States
    • The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State
    • The division of each State and each Union territory having a Legislative Assembly into territorial constituencies for elections to the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union territories and for matters connected therewith.
  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.

About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

  • The commission for delimitation in Jammu Kashmir was set up in February-March 2020 to delineate Assembly and parliamentary constituencies and given a year’s extension in March 2020.
  • It is only after the completion of the delimitation exercise that elections for the Assembly can be held, although District Development Council (DDC) polls were held in 2020 on earlier patterns and based on the 2011 census.
  • The renewed push by the Central government for talks has raised hopes not only of early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but also of an eventual restoration of statehood, which was taken away under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, a reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution. For all this, the delimitation exercise, a laborious and sensitive process of carving out parliamentary and Assembly seats, has to be done.
  • A provision in the delimitation acts from 1952 onwards states that other than population, factors like physical features, boundaries of administrative units, communication facilities and public convenience should be taken into account while drawing constituency boundaries.
  • Section 9 (1) (a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002, states that all “constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience”.

The 2002-2008 exercise

  • The then State of Jammu and Kashmir (before reorganization) was kept out of the delimitation exercise when it was carried out in the rest of country (between 2002-2008), as delimitation of Assembly seats was under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and its separate Representation of People Act. After becoming a Union Territory, the delimitation commission was constituted and asked to mark out Assembly and Parliament seats.

-Source: The Hindu


Deadline for credit and debit card data storage norms extended

Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) extended the timeline for implementation of the new credit and debit card data storage norms, or card-on-file tokenisation (CoF) by six months to June 2022.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Mobilization of Resources, Financial Inclusion, Banking Sector)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Tokenisation and what are RBI’s guidelines?
  2. About RBI’s extension of the timeline for card-on-file tokenisation (CoF)

What is Tokenisation and what are RBI’s guidelines?

  • Tokenisation means replacement of actual card details with an alternate code dubbed as “token”. The token will be unique for a combination of card, token requestor and device. This token us used to do card transactions in contactless mode at point-of-sale terminals, code payments and quick response.
  • A tokenised card transaction is considered safer as the actual card details are not shared with the merchant during transaction processing.
  • Customers who do not have the tokenisation facility will have to key in their name, 16-digit card number, expiry date and CVV each time they order something online.
  • RBI had issued new guidelines in September 2021. Under the guidelines, merchants will not be able to store customers’ card data in their servers.
  • It prohibited merchants from storing customer card details as well as mandated for the adoption of card-on-file (CoF) tokenisation as an alternative to card storage.
  • The new rule was to be implemented from January 1, 2022.
  • As per RBI’s new directive on tokenisation, customer has to enter full card details each time to make payments online.

Card-on-File (CoF)

  • In CoF transaction, cardholder authorises a merchant to store his/her Mastercard or Visa payment details. The cardholder then authorises same merchant to bill the stored Mastercard or Visa account.
  • E-commerce companies and airlines and supermarket chains normally store card details in their system.

About RBI’s extension of the timeline for card-on-file tokenisation (CoF)

  • Digital payment firms, merchant bodies and banks had sought more time to integrate the systems and onboard all the stakeholders amid fears over disruption of business transactions.
  • If the new RBI mandate is implemented in the present state of readiness, it could cause major disruptions and loss of revenue, especially for merchants.
  • Online merchants can lose up to 20-40 % of their revenues post 31st December due to tokenisation norms, and for many of them, especially smaller ones, this would sound the death knell, causing them to shut shop.
  • Disruptions of this nature erode trust in digital payments and reverses consumer habits back towards cash-based payments.
  • Merchants cannot start the testing and certification of their payment processing systems until banks and card networks are certified and live with stable APIs (Application Programming Interface) for consumer-ready solutions.

-Source: Indian Express


Mass tagging mission of Olive Ridley Sea turtles

Context:

Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) are carrying out tagging of Olive Ridley turtles at three mass nesting sites – Gahirmatha, Devi River mouth and Rushikulya.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
  2. Breeding Grounds of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in India
  3. Threats to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
  4. Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

  • The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known commonly as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a species of turtle in the family Cheloniidae.
  • The species is the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • This turtle and the related Kemps ridley turtle are best known for their unique mass nesting called arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Olive-ridleys face serious threats across their migratory route, habitat and nesting beaches, due to human activities such as unfriendly turtle fishing practices, development, and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres.

Breeding Grounds of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in India

  • The Gahirmatha Beach in Kendrapara district of Odisha (India), which is now a part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, is the largest breeding ground for these turtles.
  • The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, was created in September 1997, and encompasses Gahirmatha Beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Bhitarkanika mangroves were designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. It is the world’s largest known rookery of olive ridley sea turtles.
  • Apart from Gahirmatha rookery, two other mass nesting beaches have been located, which are on the mouth of rivers Rushikulya and Devi.
  • The spectacular site of mass congregation of olive ridley sea turtles for mating and nesting enthralls both the scientists and the nature lovers throughout the world.

Threats to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

  • Known predators of olive ridley eggs include raccoons, coyotes, feral dogs and pigs, opossums, coatimundi, caimans, ghost crabs, and the sunbeam snake.
  • Hatchlings are preyed upon as they travel across the beach to the water by vultures, frigate birds, crabs, raccoons, coyotes, iguanas, and snakes. In the water, hatchling predators most likely include oceanic fishes, sharks, and crocodiles.
  • Adults have relatively few known predators, other than sharks, and killer whales are responsible for occasional attacks. On land, nesting females may be attacked by jaguars. Notably, the jaguar is the only cat with a strong enough bite to penetrate a sea turtle’s shell, thought to be an evolutionary adaption from the Holocene extinction event.
  • In recent years, increased predation on turtles by jaguars has been noted, perhaps due to habitat loss and fewer alternative food sources. Sea turtles are comparatively defenseless in this situation, as they cannot pull their heads into their shells like freshwater and terrestrial turtles.
  • Humans are still listed as the leading threat to L. olivacea, responsible for unsustainable egg collection, slaughtering nesting females on the beach, and direct harvesting adults at sea for commercial sale of both the meat and hides.

Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

  • There are five turtle species in Indian waters — Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.
  • In India sea turtles are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, under the Schedule I Part II.
  • Every year, thousands of sea turtles are accidentally captured, injured or killed by mechanised boats, trawl nets and gill nets operated and used by comercial fishermen.
  • The turtle breeding season is usually between November and December. In Tamil Nadu, for example, the Olive Ridley nests between December and April along the Chennai-Kancheepuram coastline.
  • Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
  • The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.

-Source: The Hindu

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