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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 27 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. China offers support to Taliban
  2. Updated NPR form retains contentious questions
  3. China’s new land border law explained
  4. National Steering Committee for NIPUN Bharat Mission

China offers support to Taliban

Context:

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pledged support and assistance to the Taliban in a meeting in Doha.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s recent promise of support?
  2. What is China’s economic interest in Afghanistan?
  3. China’s Security Interest in Afghanistan
  4. Impact of China-Taliban Engagement on India

About China’s recent promise of support?

  • China vowed to help the Taliban “rebuild the country” during its first high-level face-to-face talks between the Chinese Foreign Minister and the Taliban’s Acting Deputy Prime Minister, in the Qatari capital of Doha.
  • This is the first face-to-face talks between the two sides since the takeover of Afghanistan by the group.
  • During the meeting China said that Afghanistan is facing quadruple challenges, namely the humanitarian crisis, economic chaos, terrorist threats and governance difficulties, adding that overcoming these challenges requires more understanding and support from the international community
  • China expressed hope that the Taliban will further demonstrate openness and tolerance, unite all ethnic groups and factions in Afghanistan to work together for peaceful reconstruction, and effectively protect the rights and interests of women and children.
  • The top Chinese official also urged the Taliban to adopt a friendly policy toward its neighbouring countries, and build a modern country that conforms to the wishes of the people as well as the trend of the times.
  • It was also asserted that China always respects Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and supports the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and choose the development path.

What is China’s economic interest in Afghanistan?

  • Afghanistan is sitting on mineral deposits estimated to be worth up to $3 trillion according to a a former mines minister of Afghanistan.
  • The country is probably home to what may be the world’s largest reserves of lithium – the key ingredient of the large-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Since, China dominates Lithium-Ion Battery Production worldwide, it may seek long-term a contract with the Taliban to develop Afghanistan’s massive untapped lithium reserves in return for mining rights and ownership arrangements.
  • Afghanistan is also rich in several other resources such as gold, oil, bauxite, rare earths, chromium, copper, natural gas, uranium, coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, gemstones, talc, sulphur, travertine, gypsum and marble.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative: China’s strategic Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) could get more reach if it able to extend the initiative from Pakistan to Afghanistan, with a Peshawar-to-Kabul motorway. The road, which is already being discussed, would create a much shorter land route for faster and convenient access to markets in the Middle East for Chinese goods. A new route through Kabul would also render India’s reluctance to join BRI less consequential.

China’s Security Interest in Afghanistan

  • According to the UN security council, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) had roots in Afghanistan as it received support from the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the 2000s.
  • ETIM is an Uyghur Islamic extremist organisation founded in Western China with the aim to establish an independent state called East Turkestan in the place of Xinjiang.
  • Thus, ETIM poses a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity.
  • China is worried that Afghanistan could become a potential haven for the Uyghur extremist group, which could retaliate against the widespread repression of Uyghurs.

Impact of China-Taliban Engagement on India

  • A new route of BRI through Kabul would render India’s reluctance to join BRI less consequential.
  • With China-Taliban engagement, there can be formation of a new regional geopolitical axis between China-Pakistan-Taliban, which may go against the interests of India.
  • China’s stronghold in Afghanistan will also hamper connectivity projects to Central Asia via Afghanistan. For example, Chabahar Port, International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), TAPI Pipeline.

-Source: The Hindu


Updated NPR form retains contentious questions

Context:

The latest form of the National Population Register (NPR) appears to have retained contentious questions such as “mother tongue, place of birth of father and mother and last place of residence”, according to a document compiled by a committee under the Registrar General of India.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of these policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is NPR?
  2. Proving Citizenship
  3. What is the NPR format of 2010?
  4. What does the updated manual of 2020 say?
  5. Concerns of the The Standing Committee on Ministry of Home Affairs tabled in its report on Demands for Grants (2020-2021)
  6. Response of the Government

What is NPR?

  • National Population Register (NPR) is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
  • “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  • The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  • It will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry.
  • The NPR database was first created in 2010. The NPR was last updated, except in Assam and Meghalaya, in 2015-16.

How is the NPR linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

  • Successive governments have said that the NPR is the mother database for “identity purposes”.
  • The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 mandates that particulars of “every family and individual” in the NPR would be used for verification in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process.

Proving Citizenship

  • The Local Registrar is empowered, during verification, to mark out the particulars of individuals whose citizenship is doubtful, with “appropriate remarks” for further enquiry.
  • The individual concerned has to then appear before the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration to prove he or she is a citizen before a formal decision is taken to include or to exclude their particulars in the National Register of Indian Citizens.
  • The onus to prove he or she is a citizen is entirely on the individual concerned.
  • Thus, the data collected through NPR becomes the crux for determining the citizenship of a person.

What is the NPR format of 2010?

  • Fifteen identity particulars of the individual members of the household are sought in the 2010 format.
  • These include name, relationship to the head of the household, sex, date of birth, marital status, educational qualification, occupation/activity, names of parents, place of birth (of everybody staying in the household at the time), nationality, present address of usual residence, duration of stay at the present address and permanent residential address.

What does the updated manual of 2020 say?

  • The NPR 2020 enumeration exercise will be undertaken during April–September this year.
  • Certain new information will be collected by enumerators in a house-to-house collection exercise such as Aadhaar, mobile, voter ID, passport and driving licence, if available with the residents on a voluntarily basis.
  • Unlike in the 2010 NPR, the new format for NPR 2020 requires residents to disclose their mother tongue and the places and dates of birth of their parents even if they are not living in the same household at the time or not alive.
  • Individuals have to disclose the districts and States of their parents’ birth.

Concerns of the The Standing Committee on Ministry of Home Affairs tabled in its report on Demands for Grants (2020-2021)

  • The Committee, on 18th February observed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among people regarding the upcoming NPR and Census.
  • The Committee feels these apprehensions should have been duly ventilated in the media. The MHA must consider some way out so that the Census goes smoothly.
  • The committee had enquired about the possibility of using Aadhaar database for updating NPR without undergoing fresh exercise to prevent duplication of efforts and expenditure.
  • West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have demanded that either the NPR be scrapped or the update be done using the 2010 form.

Response of the Government

  • The Union Home Ministry had informed a parliamentary panel that it proposes to collect details on additional questions such as “date and place of birth of parents” in the National Population Register (NPR) to “facilitate back-end data processing and making the data items of date and place of birth complete for all household[s]”.
  • In an indication that the government is reluctant to drop contentious questions from the National Population Register (NPR) form, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had told a Parliamentary standing committee that these questions were asked in the past as well and are necessary for back-end data processing.
  • Various welfare schemes of the State and Central governments are generally family-based, for which NPR data may be used
  • The government says linking the two will facilitate Aadhaar’s integration with other databases and help clean the various other databases.
  • The MHA says government-created databases such as Aadhaar, Voter ID, birth & death register, NPR, driving licence and passport may contain “many spurious and incorrect entries in databases”.
  • These databases, the ministry told the House panel, do not communicate with one another since there is no common identifier. “Collection of Aadhaar number (on voluntary basis), Voter ID, passport number and driving licence number during updation of NPR will facilitate communication among these databases, subject to the existing laws,” it said.
  • The Aadhaar number, the MHA reasons, can act as a common link among these large databases.

-Source: The Hindu


China’s new land border law explained

Context:

For the first time, China has enacted a national law on “protection and exploitation” of country’s land border areas.

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s new law on Border
  2. How will the law impact India?
  3. India – China Border disputes

About China’s new law on Border

  • The Chinese law calls on the state and military to safeguard territory and “combat any acts” that undermine China’s territorial claims.
  • It stipulates that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable.
  • It designates the various responsibilities of the military, the State Council or Cabinet, and provincial governments in managing the security and economic issues in border areas.
  • The state shall take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty and land boundaries.
  • The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “shall carry out border duties” including “organising drills” and “resolutely prevent, stop and combat invasion, encroachment, provocation and other acts”.
  • The state shall, following the principle of equality, mutual trust and friendly consultation, handle land border-related affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and longstanding border issues.

How will the law impact India?

  • The announcement of a law that makes China’s borders “sacred and inviolable” at a time of prolonged ongoing discussions to resolve the standoff in eastern Ladakh signals that Beijing is likely to dig in its heels at the current positions.
  • However, some experts feel it is not what the law says, but what China does on the ground that matters and the law only “states the obvious”.
  • It would formalise some of China’s recent actions in disputed territories with both India and Bhutan. The passing of the law coincides with stepped up Chinese activity along the land borders, which have mirrored actions in disputed waters in the East and South China Sea.
  • It includes the PLA’s massing of troops in forward areas along the India border and multiple transgressions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • China in recent years has been strengthening border infrastructure, including the establishment of air, rail and road networks. It also launched a bullet train in Tibet which extends up to Nyingchi, the border town close to Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The construction of new “frontier villages” along the border with Bhutan.

India – China Border disputes

The Sino-Indian border is generally divided into three sectors namely:

  1. The Western sector,
  2. The Middle sector, and
  3. The Eastern sector.
  1. The western sector: it is around 2152 km long. It is between Jammu and Kashmir and Xinjian province of China.
    1. Aksai chin: The Johnson’s line shows Aksai chin under India control while McDonald’s line shows it under China’s control.
  2. The middle sector: it is 625km long. It runs along the watershed from Ladakh to Nepal.
  3. The eastern sector: it is around 1140 km long. It was demarked by Henry Mc Mohan in 1913-14 under Shimla accord. China consider Mc Mohan line as illegal and unacceptable because during Shimla accord, Tibet was not a part of China.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


National Steering Committee for NIPUN Bharat Mission

Context:

A National Steering Committee (NSC) has been formed for the implementation of NIPUN Bharat Mission.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About NIPUN Bharat Mission
  2. Why was the NIPUN Bharat Scheme needed?
  3. Samagra Shiksha Scheme
  4. The major objectives of the Scheme are
  5. About the National Steering Committee (NSC) for NIPUB Bharat

About NIPUN Bharat Mission

  • National Initiative for Proficiency in reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat) is a scheme to ensure that every child achieves desired learning competencies in reading, writing, and numeracy by end of Grade 3, by the year 2026-27 – to provide an enabling environment in a bid to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy.
  • The NIPUN Bharat Mission is a part of school education programme, Samagra Shiksha.
  • NIPUN Bharat initiative will be implemented by school education department of Union government and to implement it, a five-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at national, state, district, block, and school levels across all states and Union territories.
  • No additional funding is being allocated for the mission. Instead, money is being allocated from the Samagra Shiksha scheme, which saw a 20% drop in its budget in 2021.
  • So far, the goal has simply been to enrol children in school, and then to ensure that they finish Class 10. This mission specifies stage-wise learning goals to ensure that students are acquiring the necessary building blocks.
  • The NIPUN Bharat strategy includes changes in curriculum and teaching methods to include more activity, art and story-telling, creation of print-rich materials and resources, teacher training, and stress-free assessment methods in order to reach these goals.
  • NIPUN Bharat also emphasises the importance of using a child’s mother tongue in teaching, a principle of the National Education Policy 2020, which received some criticism.

Why was the NIPUN Bharat Scheme needed?

  • Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) found that less than 30% of Class 3 students could read at Class 2 level or do double digit subtraction in 2018.
  • ASER report in 2020 found that only 25% of school-going children in four to eight age group do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills. Thus, there is a huge learning deficit at very early stage.

Samagra Shiksha Scheme

  • Samagra Shiksha is an integrated scheme for school education extending from pre-school to class XII to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
  • The Scheme is being implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the fund sharing pattern for the scheme between Centre and States is at present in the ratio of 90:10 for the North-Eastern States and the Himalayan States and 60:40 for all other States and Union Territories with Legislatures and 100% centrally sponsored for Union Territories without Legislature.
  • It subsumes the three Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
  • The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from pre-school to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Education.
  • The main emphasis of the Scheme is on improving the quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology.

The major objectives of the Scheme are

  • Provision of quality education and enhancing learning outcomes of students;
  • Bridging Social and Gender Gaps in School Education;
  • Ensuring equity and inclusion at all levels of school education;
  • Ensuring minimum standards in schooling provisions;
  • Promoting Vocationalisation of education;
  • Support States in implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009; and
  • Strengthening and up-gradation of SCERTs/State Institutes of Education and DIET as a nodal agencies for teacher training.

About the National Steering Committee (NSC) for NIPUB Bharat

Roles and Responsibilities of NSC:

  1. To oversee the progress of the National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy and provide guidance on policy issues.
  2. To arrive at the target to be achieved nationally in 2026-27.
  3. To disseminate tools for measurement of yearly progress in the form of guidelines.
  4. To prepare and approve a National Action Plan (based on the State’s Action Plans).
  5. To review programmatic and financial norms periodically to ensure they are synchronised with targets to be achieved.

-Source: NDTV News

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