International Organisations and Reports: Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

Headline : India protests over UN chief’s report

Details :

In News:

  • The United Nation has recently released its Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.
  • India is disappointed with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for including in the report situations in India that are neither armed conflicts nor a threat to international security.

 

About Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

  • The present report covers the period from January to December 2018, was submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2427 (2018).

UN Resolution 2427In 2018, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at a framework for mainstreaming protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children throughout the conflict cycle.

  • The report highlights global trends regarding the impact  of  armed  conflict  on  children  and  provides  information  on  violations committed as well as related protection concerns.
  • The present report also include a list of parties that, in violation of international law, engage in the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel,1and the abduction of children.

Highlights of the Report:

  • Violence against Children: More than 12,000 children were killed or maimed in around 20 conflict situations of 2018. Children continue to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria. They also continue to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence,
  • Sexual Violence against children: Some 933 cases of sexual violence against boys and girls were reported, but this is believed to be an under-estimate, due to lack of access, stigma and fear of reprisals.
  • Overall decrease in attacks on schools and hospitals: Attacks on schools and hospitals have decreased overall, but have intensified in some conflict situations, such as Afghanistan and Syria, which has seen the highest number of such attacks since the beginning of the conflict in the country.
  • Access to education: Mali provides the most serious example of children being deprived of access to education, and the military use of schools.
  • Detention and release of children involved in conflict: Rather than being seen as victims of recruitment, thousands of children around the world were detained for their actual or alleged association with armed groups in 2018 (in Syria and Iraq), the majority of children deprived of their liberty are under the age of five.
  • Increase in number of children benefiting from release and reintegration: The number of children benefiting from release and reintegration support, however, rose in 2018 to 13,600 (up from 12,000 in 2017).

Recommendations given:

  • All parties to conflict must refrain from directing attacks against civilians, including children, as peace remains the best protection for children affected by armed conflict.
  • Parties to conflict must protect children and put in place tangible measures to end and prevent these violations.
  • The nations to work with the UN to help relocate foreign children and women actually or allegedly affiliated with extremist groups, with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.
  • Increased resources and funding to meet the growing needs, as more children are separated from armed groups.

 

About India in the report:

  • India was mentioned under a section of the report titled “Situations not on the agenda of the Security Council or other situations”.
  • The report mentions terrorist groups in Jammu & Kashmir and Maoist groups elsewhere that recruit child fighters, children killed in these areas, and sexual violence against them, although India is not in armed conflict.
    • According to the report, terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoists groups elsewhere have recruited children as fighters.
    • It also added that children continued to be killed or injured in operations by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and in areas of Maoist activity.
    • The report noted that there were reports of sexual violence against girls by security forces in Kashmir citing the Kathua rape case.

 

India’s Objections to the Report:

  • India has strongly expressed its disappointment over the report.
  • The section on “Situations on the agenda of the Security Council”, which conforms to its mandate, deals with countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are in a civil war situation that overwhelms the nations. (This section also included Israel and Palestine territories.)
  • The inclusion of India and countries like Thailand and even Pakistan in an added section appears to be arbitrary because it places them on the same level as those countries covered by the Council mandate.
  • However, at the same time the report ignored countries in Central America, for example, where violence has led to an exodus of thousands of children escaping the brutalities.
  • Such attempt to expand mandate in a selective manner to certain situations only politicises and instrumentalises the agenda, obfuscating and diverting attention from the real threats to international peace and security.
Section : International Relation

About Consular access, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)

Headline : Consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav: What ICJ ordered; Pakistan has ‘offered’ to India

Details :

In News:

  • Pakistan has offered India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the India who’s been in jail in Pakistan since 2016.
  • India is “evaluating” the Pakistani proposal which comes with some strict conditions.

Background:

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, who was arrested by Pakistani officials in 2016, on suspicion of spying and obstructing activities against the country.
  • Claiming that Jadhav was an Indian spy, the Pakistani military court sentenced him to death.
  • However, India insists that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government.
  • As a last resort of appeal, India went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which stayed the execution.
  • India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by failing to provide Jadhav with consular access, as well as breaking human rights laws.
  • On 17 July 2019, International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and sentencing, and grant consular access to him without delay.
  • The ICJ also upheld India’s stand that Pakistan is in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

 

What is the concept of “consular access”?

  • Consular access simply means that a diplomat or an official will have a meeting with the prisoner who is in the custody of another country.
  • The Diplomat will first confirm the identity of the person, and then will ask some basic questions on his treatment in the custody and about his needs.
  • Depending on the response, the diplomat/official will report back to his/her government, and the next steps will be initiated.
  • The principle of consular access was agreed to in the 1950s and 60s.

 

About Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)

  • The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) is an international treaty that defines consular relations between independent states and was framed in 1963, at the height of Cold War.
  • During the Cold war era, “spies” from the US and USSR were caught in each other’s countries and across the world, and the idea was to ensure that they were not denied consular access.
  • All countries agreed to the principle, and more than 170 have ratified the Vienna Convention, making it one of the most universally recognised treaties in the world.
  • The object and purpose of the Vienna Convention is to contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations.
  • Under Article 36 of the VCCR,
    • At the request of a detained foreign national, the consulate of the sending State must be notified of the detention “without delay”.
    • The consulate has the right “to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation”.

Challenges in the implementation of the treaty:

  • The ability of a consulate to provide effective aid has been heavily dependent on the prompt receipt of information of the detention, and timely access to the detainee.
  • No time interval is indicated for granting consular access.
    • However, consular access must be provided in all cases where a foreigner is “arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial or is detained in any other manner”, regardless of the circumstances or charges.

 

News Summary:

  • After the ICJ verdict, Pakistan has finally offered India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.
  • Pakistan’s Proposal: Pakistan has laid down 3 conditions for consular access to Jadhav:
    • The presence of a Pakistani official in the room where Indian officials will speak to Jadhav.
    • The room to have CCTVs
    • Sound recording facilities in the room.
  • Pakistan’s proposal violative of Article 36, 1 para (a) of VCCR:
    • According to Article 36, 1 para (a) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR): Consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State (India) and to have access to them.
    • Nationals of the sending State (Kulbhushan Jadhav) shall have the same freedom with respect to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending State (India).
    • The conditions being laid down by Pakistan are violative of that spirit of free access to Jadhav.
  • India is evaluating the Pakistan proposal in light of the ICJ judgment and will maintain communication with Pakistan on this through diplomatic channels.
  • While Islamabad has given a date and time, it is unlikely that India would accept such a monitored meeting.
Section : International Relation

Productivity of Parliament

Headline : Lawmakers work overtime, Lok Sabha session set to be most productive in 20 years

Details :

In News:

  • In this session of the Parliament, Lok Sabha has already passed 30 Bills, while Rajya Sabha has passes 25 Bills.
  • In terms of legislative business transacted during the first session of a fresh Lok Sabha, the government claims the current session is on course to be one of the most productive since the first Lok Sabha in 1952.
  • On the other hand, the Opposition has accused the government of rushing through bills.

Parliament Productivity

  • Productivity means the number of hours the House actually functioned compared to the number of hours officially earmarked for it to work.
  • Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are scheduled to meet for six hours every day when in session.
  • Productivity goes beyond 100% when the houses meets for more than 6 hours in a day by working late.

Factors on which Productivity depends:

  • The productivity declines when the proceedings of the house are disrupted.
  • Productivity is also impacted when the house adjourns before transacting any business. For example, when the house adjourns to mourn the demise of a sitting member or a dignitary.

Most Productive Session:

Lok Sabha Productivity

  • According to an analysis conducted by PRS Legislative Research, the Lower House had registered a record productivity of 128 per cent between June 17 and July 16, which is expected to push up further.
  • In comparative terms, the first session of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 had seen a productivity of 67 per cent and the first session of the 16th Lok Sabha a productivity of 66 per cent.
  • The current session is set to be the most productive session for the Lok Sabha in the last 20 years.
  • The members sit late into the night, sometimes even past midnight, to ensure full debates.

Rajya Sabha Productivity

  • The high output of legislations makes the current 249th session of the Rajya Sabha among its most productive ever.
  • However, the the record for the passage of the highest number of Bills is held by the 9th session of the Rajya Sabha when 50 Bills were passed when Jawaharlal Nehru was the PM.

Note: The Lok Sabha, which dissolves after every five years, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and is counted by the number of sessions

More Bills to be Introduced:

  • The government proposes to pass four more legislations in the remaining three sittings of the Upper House.
  • These are the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (second amendment) Bill, Dam Safety Bill, Chit funds Amendment Bill and SC Judges Bill.
Section : Polity & Governance

Significance of US Federal Reserves rate cut and its impact on India

Headline : Significance of US Federal Reserves rate cut and its impact on India

Details :

In News:

  • The US Federal Reserve has recently announced a quarter-percentage-point cut in interest rates, the first rate cut by the US central bank in 11 years.

About US Federal Reserves rate:

  • The fed funds rate is critical in determining the U.S. economic outlook.
  • It controls short-term interest rates including banks’ prime rate, most adjustable-rate and interest-only loans, and credit card rates.
  • The 2008 recession caused the Federal bank to lower its benchmark rate to 0.25% which is effectively zero.

News Summary:

  • The central bank of U.S. reduced its benchmark rate which affects many loans for households and businesses by a quarter-point to a range of 2% to 2.25%.
  • The Fed has also signaled a readiness to lower borrowing costs further if needed.
  • It is the first rate cut since December 2008 during the depths of the Great Recession, when the Fed slashed its rate to a record low near zero and kept it there until 2015.
  • This move comes despite a strong US economy and indicators such as job market data showing renewed buoyancy.

Reason cited for rate cut:

  • To counter threats ranging from uncertainties caused by trade wars, chronically low inflation and a dim global outlook.

Repercussions on Indian Economy:

Negative Impacts

  • Increased Trade deficit:
    • Lower interest rates and a weaker dollar also means stronger gold. From the Indian point of view greater investment demand for gold can surface putting pressure on a trade deficit.
  • Decrease in demand for Indian products:
    • A rate cut cycle means a weaker dollar, as the dollar weakens due to lower growth tendencies, the rupee has tended to strengthen.
    • This will slower demand from Indian exporters due to lower global growth and thus will further increase current account deficit (CAD).

Positive Impact

  • More investment in emerging economies like India:
    • Emerging economies such as India tend to have higher inflation and thereby higher interest rates than those in developed countries such as the US and Europe.
    • As a result, Foreign Investment Inflows would want to borrow money in the US at low-interest rates in dollar terms and then invest that money in bonds of emerging countries such as India in Re terms to earn a higher rate of interest.
    • When the US Fed cuts its interest rates, the difference between interest rates of the two countries increases, thus making India more attractive for the currency carry trade.
Section : Economics

Prelims 2019 : Current Affairs by Sriram’s IAS

Prelims 2019 : Current Affairs by Sriram’s IAS

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Covered points:
Artificial sun
AIIB loan
Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd
Strategic sale of Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL)
BOLD–QIT in Dhubri, Assam
Gandhi Peace Prize
ISRO and Reusable Rocket Technology

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Economy Survey: Jayant Parikshit PPT’s

Economy Prelims 2019 : Jayant Parikshit PPT’s

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Mrunal’s Handouts on Census, Health, Education and Poverty

Handout 16: – EF6_P1_Census_Health_Edu_Poverty_Batch1

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Smart farming: Agriculture data can reap a bumper harvest Editorial 25th Apr’19 FinancialExpress

Headline : Smart farming: Agriculture data can reap a bumper harvest Editorial 25th Apr’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

Dependence on government for agriculture data:

  • Agricultural statistics is not easy to collect and compile, hence the dependence on the government.
  • But this data suffers from the issues of timeliness, reliability and integrity.
  • Yet, since it is only source, there is no option but to use government data.

Huge data in various silos:

  • Data available with the government in various silos, not correlated, and often not inter-operable. .
  • This includes data on land, ownership of lands, weather and rainfall, irrigation, electrification, crop-wise sowing, production and yield, fertiliser consumption, market arrivals and prices from APMCs,wholesale and consumer prices, procurement, etc.
  • Then there are the new ‘data-driven’ schemes like soil health, PM crop insurance, PM KISAN etc, which have important data.

Issues with data:

  • Data collection:
    • The elaborate exercise of collection of primary data (collected by a researcher from first-hand sources) on even those crops (rice, wheat, etc) that have established systems still has design errors and implementation gaps.
    • Crops like sugarcane and cotton are more difficult.
  • Compilation:
    • Even the compilation and publishing of data needs to be improved.
  • Delays:
    • For example, it is is well known that data related to sowing or crop-cutting always comes late.

 

Agriculture data has been used by policymakers:

  • A large volume of data related to agriculture exists, but in a number of segregated silos. They are collected at different intervals of time for different purposes. This data is collated, summarised and published by various government agencies.
  • Historical data sets have been used extensively for analysis, understanding trends, estimating impacts of weather and policy on crops and prices, etc.
  • These have helped policymakers and researchers to suggest changes in policy prescriptions, and design, implement and monitor schemes.

But has not helped the farmers much:

  • But the policy prescriptions and scheme have not helped farmers take timely decisions to increase their income or even reduce losses in the event of a change in the situation.

Due to focus on macro indicators:

  • Rather than providing micro level data to help the farmers, what is happening currently is that modern technology is being used to give ‘unsolicited’, often irrelevant, advice based on macro indicators.
  • Most advice, though scientifically correct, is not farmer-specific, and is of limited use.

 

Need micro-level data for farmers to benefit:

  • The farmer will be better off if provided with specific crop, soil ,weather and market information advisories.
  • This requires micro-climate details like rainfall, moisture levels, soil fertility, etc, are mapped along with his crops as also advisories on fertilisation and irrigation schedules, pest control measures and market trends are given on time.
  • Today’s technology is capable of doing this in real time.

This information can be provided by tech entrepreneurs:

  • Modern technology enables using of data in the agriculture sector to help farmers take more informed decisions and further the prosperity and income of farmers.
  • Young technology entrepreneurs today can offer farmers specific solutions using data from the sky, the soil and the market.

But they need help:

  • These new start-ups can help the farmers if two core issues are addressed:
    1. Access to existing data
    2. The revenue model

 

Way forward:

  • Give open, but ‘limited’ (limited on account of privacy and national security issues) access to primary data in the government.
  • Provide technical backing to agri start-ups and enable a revenue model to enable them to participate in the extension space.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

India and Pak Relation: In Brief : Cross-LoC trade, Intra Kashmir Trade Report

Headline : Explained: LoC trade, in perspective

Details :

Context of the topic:

  • Last week, the government of India suspended the cross-LoC trade, alleging misuse of the facility by individuals linked to terrorist groups

 

Theme of the topic:

  • The topic gives a brief account of information about the History of the cross-LoC trade and its objective.

 

Historical background of the Cross-LoC trade

  • The cross-LoC trade between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and also the cross LoC bus service, these two measures were started in 2005 as “Kashmir specific confidence building measures” and to improve India-Pakistan relations.
  • In October 2005, two crossing points, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad at Uri, and Poonch-Rawalakot at Chakan da Bagh, were opened for trade.

  • However, the Mumbai attacks, 2008 put a hold on India-Pakistan relations, but the cross-LoC trade remained unaffected by that.

 

Issues in trade

  • The agreement was for zero duty trade for a list of 21 items.
  • Traders on both sides struggled through currency and communication issues, which led to the formation of the Intra Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCCI).

 

Trade Suspension:

  • Last week, the government of India cited malpractice and the involvement of terrorist groups in the trade and thus suspended the LoC trade.

 

The Intra Kashmir Trade Report:

  • In 2011, a report called Intra Kashmir Trade,was jointly prepared by the Delhi-based IPCS, Conciliation Resources of London, and the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency.
  • According to the report, cross border trade could be insulated from the India-PAkistan relationship, and has been establishing a “bottom up” approach to peace-building.
  • Trade has also attracted divided families and some former combatants and thus provided them an alternative non-violent option for change and conflict transformation.

Note: The cross Loc trade holds much symbolic value in Jammu & Kashmir more than its value in currency terms.

Section : International Relation

North Korea and USA Relation : Current

Headline : After unsuccessful summit with Trump, North Korean Kim Jong Un is again using military optics

Details :

The news

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is returning to his military optics two months after his unsuccessful summit with the US President.

 

Background

  • North Korea’s quest for a nuclear weapon can be traced back decades to the Korean War.
  • Ever since the Korean War, North Korea always assumed that the US would attack them any day and wipe them out and hence began development of Nuclear weapons.
  • Initially North Korea promised of peaceful use of nuclear energy and signed NPT in 1985 but later it was suspected that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
  • Negotiations began with North Korea and by October 1994 a deal known as the Agreed Framework was achieved.
  • Again in 1998, North Korea test-fired an intermediate-range missile but talks with the U.S. continued.
  • In October 2006, the situation reached a dangerous new stage with North Korea’s first nuclear test.
  • Between 2013 and 2016, North Korea held three more nuclear tests.
  • In September 2016, North Korea claimed to test its first hydrogen bomb.
  • In 2017, North Korea successfully test-fired it’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles and again claimed to successfully test a hydrogen bomb.
  • Later, South reached out to North Korea for winter Olympics and the tensions relieved a with the indications that the North was willing to talk with the U.S.
  • In 2018, Kim Jong Un invited the US President to meet for negotiations about North Korea’s nuclear program.
  • In late March 2018, the meeting held between North Korea and the US.
  • On April 20, North Korea announced that it would suspend nuclear and missile testing, and shut down the site where its six previous nuclear tests were carried out.
  • Trump and Kim held a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on 27th and 28thFebruary, 2019.
  • However, both delegations left from meeting with no deal or agreement signed…

 

Summary of the news

  • North Korean leader expressed deep disappointment with inflexible demands by the US in Hanoi summit.
  • This unsuccessful summit is the reason why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is cautiously returning to its military optics, which is reflected by the following postures-
    • Kim paid a surprise visit to an Air Force base to inspect fighter combat readiness.
    • He supervised a new type of tactical guided weapon.
    • Kim is also about to visit Russia later this month at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.
  • Kim has also asked the US to come up with a more mutually acceptable negotiation strategyuntil the end of this year.
  • North Korea wants lifting of the sanctions over its development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.
  • In the meantime Kim is maintaining his self-imposed moratorium on its nuclear tests and long-range missile launches.

 

The U.S and North Korea’s position on the issue

  • Kim claims he still has a good personal relationship with the US president but is frustrated with Trump’s top advisers.
  • North Korea wants replacement of dialogue counterpart Pompeo for maturely communicating.
  • The US president has also indicated that he wants a third summit.
  • However, there are growing worries due to the mismatched demands between the US and North Korea over sanctions relief and disarmament.
  • Washington won’t allow the North Korea’s desired sanctions relief until it commits to verifiably destroy his nuclear facilities, weapons, and missiles.
  • North Korea is also not willing to give away an arsenal, as they are considered as their strongest guarantee of survival.

 

The South Korea’s role in the matter

  • South Korea has played the role of mediator in initiating talks between US and North Korea.
  • Since, North Korea’s first summit with the US, South Korea and US have renamed and scaled back their joint maneuvers.
  • However, since the second summit in Hanoi, North Korea has been openly critical of South Korea and its President’s role of middleman.
  • North Korea has alleged South Korea of adhering too closely to his American allies, as South Korea has dragged his feet on inter-Korean projects due to the sanctions from US.
  • South Korean president want to continue on the inter-Korean infrastructure projects that would provide the North Korea to develop its infrastructure but Washington wants South Korea to stick to sanctions.

 

Role of Russia in the matter

  • Russia has been outsider over the past years even though North Korea held multiple summits with the leaders of China, the United States, and South Korea.
  • However, the upcoming visit of North Korean leader to Russia is leading to some speculations.
  • It is suspected that Russia could provide important political cover or economic aid for North Korea.
  • If Russia jumps into playing a bigger role in the issue, it could be a biggest challenge for the US.

 

Section : International Relation