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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 16 January 2023

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. What led to the Governor-CM rift in TN?
  2. The Qatar conundrum

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. National Clean Air Programme

 

GS Paper 4:

  1. Why UAE’s Sultan Al Jaber, an oil company CEO, has caused controversy for heading the climate change conference

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay/ Governance)

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
  2. Doctor Didi’s creating social capital in Jharkhand
  3. Environment/India-related Keywords

 

Facts for Prelims

  1. Magh Bihu
  2. ‘Music in the Park’ series under “Shruti Amrut”
  3. Exporters under scanner for tax scheme misuse
  4. National Coal Index
  5. National Textile Corporation
  6. Saltie census 2023: 1,793 estuarine crocodiles including 20 whitish ones counted in Bhitarkanika
  7. A novel spray that could prevent COVID-19 infection developed
  8. India arms civilians in border villages

 

What led to the Governor-CM rift in TN?

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues and Challenges pertaining to the Federal Structure

 

Source:  TH

 Direction: The article discusses the recent dispute between the TN Governor and the state govt, which culminated in the Governor omitting certain sections of his customary address.

 Context: There has been a dispute between the Tamil Nadu Governor and the state government recently

Background:

  • The TN Assembly witnessed unprecedented scenes when the Governor while delivering his customary address to the House, omitted certain paragraphs from the text prepared by the State government.
    • He left out the references to national and regional stalwarts and the phrase “Dravidian model of governance”.
    • He skipped describing Tamil Nadu as “a haven of peace” – in terms of the law-and-order situation, its ability to attract foreign investments, etc.
  • The CM later moved a motion to take on record only the transcript distributed to legislators, prompting the Governor to walk out of the House.
  • The state government has sought the President’s intervention to ensure that the Governor acts as per Article 163 (1) [Council of Ministers to aid and advise Governor] of the Constitution.

 

What triggered the tussle?

  • Since the Governor took office (in September 2021), the ruling party (DMK) has demanded his resignation for failing to forward a Bill to the President.
  • The Assembly passed a Bill to exempt government seats in undergraduate medical and dental courses from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
  • Even though the Bill is presently pending Presidential assent, other Bills are awaiting the Governor’s approval

 

Similar instances in the past of Governor- State government tussles:

  • In Kerala, at least three Governors had skipped sections during their Assembly address since January 1969.
  • In 1965, the then West Bengal Governor, annoyed by the Opposition’s interruptions, walked out of the Assembly without addressing the House.
  • In 1960, then-President Rajendra Prasad made certain corrections in the printed copies of the address.
  • In 1988, then President Venkataraman, changed (in his address) the expression “My government” to “The government” as the original practice was a part of the British legacy.
  • Former President Pranab Mukherjee (2012-2017), did not shy away from making suggestions at the appropriate fora, but his addresses never created controversy or embarrassed the government of the day.

 

Governor’s address – The larger issue

[su_tale]
Meaning Constitutional provisions Convention Implications of Governor deviating from the speech
●        It includes a review of the previous year, goals for the session and policy and legislative measures that the government intends to execute in the next year.

●        It is produced and submitted to the Governor in advance by the state government.

Article 176 (Special address by the Governor): The Governor shall address the Legislative Assembly or both Houses (in the case of a State having a Legislative Council), assembled together at the

●        Commencement of the first session after each general election to the Legislative Assembly and

●        Commencement of the first session of each year

 

Article 87: Special address by the President

The governor must read the entire speech without alteration because it is fundamentally the message of the government, for which the governor’s office bears no responsibility. Widens the trust deficit

 

May lead to a Constitutional crisis

●        Governor violating Article 163.

●        The state government may choose not to defend the address, thus losing the confidence of the house.

  

Conclusion: According to the British constitutional law expert Ivor Jennings, the Governor can correct errors and suggest changes or revisions to the address, but the Cabinet has the final say.

 

Related topic: History of TN

Source: IE

 Context: Days before the Assembly convened, the TN Governor sparked a dispute by stating his preference for the word ‘Tamizhagam’ to refer to the state rather than Tamil Nadu.

Tamizhagam or ancient TN during Sangam Age:

 

A short history of Tamil Nadu:

  • Social activist E V Ramasamy/ Periyar (1879-1973), had started the Self-Respect Movement in 1925 to reclaim the identity and self-respect of Tamils.
  • He envisaged an independent Dravida homeland of Dravida Nadu (In Tamil, Nadu means country), comprising Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada speakers.
  • He launched a political party called the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and opposed the imposition of Hindi and emphasised the need for a cultural identity of the Tamil nation.
  • It was on January 14, 1969, that the Madras State was officially renamed Tamil Nadu, under the then Chief Minister CN Annadurai, who was silent on the demand for an independent Dravida Nadu.
  • He instead decided to work for greater autonomy for Tamil Nadu and better cooperation among the southern states.

 

Insta Links:

The office of the Governor

 

Mains Links:

Q. Though not very useful from the point of view of a connected political history of South India, the Sangam literature portrays the social and economic conditions of its time with remarkable vividness. Comment. (UPSC 2013)

The Qatar conundrum: India, Qatar and the continuing saga of eight detained ex-Indian Navy officers

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: IE

 

Direction: The article covers India-Qatar ties in the context of recent challenges emerging due to the arrest of 8 former Indian Navy soldiers arrested by Qatari authorities.

  

Context: Eight former Indian Navy soldiers arrested by Qatari authorities in August have been imprisoned in Doha for more than four and a half months.

 

Background:

  • The eight veterans were in a defence services provider company owned by an Omani national, who was also arrested along with the eight Indians.
  • Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retd) received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award 2019 (the only person from the armed forces to receive the honour) for his contributions to improving India-Qatar ties.
  • According to the company’s website, it provided training, logistics and maintenance services to the Qatari Emiri Naval Force (QENF) – the naval branch of the armed forces of the State of Qatar.
  • The charges against the men have not been made public, but their solitary confinement has led to speculation of their detention in connection with a security-related offence.

 

India and Qatar – A history of friendly ties:

  • Since diplomatic relations between India and Qatar were established in 1973, the two countries have maintained friendly relations.
  • However, since the visit of India’s PM (Manmohan Singh) in 2008, the first by an Indian PM, the relationship has grown.
  • When the Qatari Emir (Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani) visited in 2015, five MoUs entailing cooperation in several fields were signed.
  • Additionally, an agreement on prisoner repatriation was made, permitting citizens of India or Qatar who have been convicted and sentenced for a crime to be extradited back to their home country to serve the remainder of their prison sentence.
  • Last year, the two sides agreed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2023.

 

Indian community: It is the largest expatriate group in Qatar which is estimated to be around 800,000 Indians. They are contributing in a variety of areas, the most visible of which is the projects related to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

  

Economic ties: In 2021, India was one of Qatar’s top four export destinations, as well as one of the top three import sources. The bilateral trade is about $15 billion, with over $13 billion in LNG and LPG exports from Qatar.

 

Defence co-operation: The India-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2008 and officially described as a “pillar” of Indian-Qatar cooperation, was extended for another five years in 2018.

  • The pact included training of the QENF by India, as well as mutual visits.
  • Two editions of a joint naval exercise called Zair Al Bahr have been held.

 

Recent challenges in the relationship:

 

India-Qatar ties in perspective of India-Arab relations:

  • The eruption of the Qatar diplomatic crisis in 2017 complicated India’s relations with the Arab Gulf states.
  • The Indian government referred to the rift as an internal matter involving the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • The Saudi-led bloc’s closing of sea, land, and air borders appeared to present Delhi with hurdles in maintaining trading links with Qatar.
  • However, the feared negative consequences of the dispute never occurred. After Delhi temporarily halted exports to Qatar, normal commercial flows between the two countries resumed.

 

India is being painted as anti-Muslim: The first major test of the relationship (after 2017) was a ruling party’s spokesperson’s derogatory references to the Prophet on a TV show. Qatar was the first country to react and demand a “public apology” from India.

The jailing of the eight ex-Navy personnel: The second major challenge signalled that all is not well with the relationship.

 

Conclusion:

  • The long custody of the veterans for reasons not yet in the public domain is a test for Indian diplomacy and its engagement with the Indian diaspora.
  • The well-being of Indians abroad should be the priority by reaching out personally to individuals in need or their families.

 

Insta Links:

Qatar’s isolation

 

Mains Links:

Q. The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries. (UPSC 2017)

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2014)

Turkey is located between

  1. Black Sea and Caspian Sea
  2. Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea
  3. Gulf of Suez and Mediterranean Sea
  4. Gulf of Aqaba and Dead Sea

 

Ans: 2

National Clean Air Programme

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment Pollution, Geography

Source: The Hindu

Context: Four years since the Centre launched the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP), analysts found that progress has been slow and pollution has only incrementally reduced in most cities.

  

The Launch: In January 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to prepare clean air action plans.

 

The mandate of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP); –

  • The goal of NCAP (annual average ambient air quality standards at all locations in the country): 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
  • Under NCAP, 132 non-attainment cities have been identified across the country based on the Air Quality data from 2014-2018.
  • Preparation of the city-specific action plans including measures to strengthen the monitoring network, reduce vehicular/industrial emissions, and increase public awareness.
  • Implementation of the city-specific action plans to be regularly monitored by Committees at the Central and State level namely Steering Committee, Monitoring Committee and Implementation Committee.

  

Objectives of NCAP

  • To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring networks across the country for ensuring a comprehensive and reliable database
  • To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for the prevention and mitigation of air pollution
  • To have a feasible management plan for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

  

Performance of National Clean Air Programme: 

Positive

  • Monitoring station: Out of the targeted 1500 manual monitoring stations to be installed across the country, 818 have been installed.
  • Region-specific programme: city-specific action plan has been developed for all the major cities of India. For instance, Delhi, Mumbai etc.
    • 131 cities of the country have developed City Action Plans and Micro Action Plans
  • PRANA web portal: The Portal for Regulation of Air Pollution in Non-Attainment Cities which provides all information related to various policies/programs/schemes/activities of the stakeholders along with the progress made towards improvement in air quality across the country.
  • Improvement: There has been an overall improvement in Particulate Matter concentration in 95 cities including 20 cities conforming to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the year 2021-22 compared to 2017. 

The issue facing NCAP:

  • Unsatisfactory performance: The CSE in its national analysis of PM2.5 levels in cities for which data is available found that between 2019 and 2021, only 14 of 43 (NCAP) cities registered a 10% or more reduction in their PM2.5 level between 2019 and 2021.
    • On the other hand, out of 46 non-NCAP cities, 21 recorded significant improvement in their annual PM2.5 value with a 5% or more decline between 2019 and 2021.
    • There is hardly any difference between the performance of NCAP and non-NCAP cities between 2019 and 2021.
  • Funding issue: For disbursing funds, the Central Pollution Control Board, which coordinates the programme, only considers levels of PM10, the relatively larger, coarser particles. However, PM2.5, the smaller, more dangerous particles, aren’t monitored as robustly in all cities, mostly due to the lack of equipment.
  • Compartmentalizing rural-urban areas: The scheme focuses on air pollution mitigation within cities while ignoring rural air pollution thus compartmentalizing both. But cities like Delhi are significantly affected by rural air pollution, hence making purely city-based efforts less ineffective.
  • Sluggish improvement: The progress is even more sluggish in equipping all manual stations with PM2.5 monitoring, where only 261 stations have PM2.5 monitoring facilities.
  • Almost a quarter of NCAP cities with real-time monitoring doesn’t meet the minimum data completeness requirement: In 2021, 15 out of the 63 NCAP cities (24 per cent) did not meet the minimum data completeness requirement (60 days of valid 24-hour values in each quarter of the year). In 2019, the number was lower: only 16 per cent did not meet the requirement.
  • No carrying capacity studies: None of the 132 non-attainment cities has completed their carrying capacity studies. Carrying capacity is the region’s ability to accumulate and disperse emissions while maintaining breathable air quality.
    • In 93 cities, the study is either undergoing or at the MoU/proposal stage. 

Conclusion

It is important that NCAP be made legally binding on responsible authorities while setting interim (WHO interim targets) and long-term targets to achieve breathable air equivalent to WHO guideline levels over the next decade.

Further, enhancing transparency in the allocation and utilisation of finances and tracking the indicators through publicly available information under the PRANA web portal developed by CPCB can be a way forward. 

 

Mains Links:

 Q. Highlighting the major mandate and objectives of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), evaluate its performance in mitigating pollution in Indian Cities. (15M)

 

Prelims Links

Consider the following statements:

  1. The National Clean Air Programme aims for a reduction in particulate matter concentrations in cities that don’t meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
  2. India’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) meet the WHO’s existing standards.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Solution: a)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first-ever update since 2005 has tightened global air pollution standards in a recognition of the emerging science in the last decade that the impact of air pollution on health is much more serious than earlier envisaged.

 

The move doesn’t immediately impact India as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) don’t meet the WHO’s existing standards. The government has a dedicated National Clean Air Programme that aims for a 20% to 30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 in 122 cities, keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. These are cities that don’t meet the NAAQS when calculated from 2011-2015.

Why UAE’s Sultan Al Jaber, an oil company CEO, has caused controversy for heading the climate change conference

GS Paper 4

Syllabus: Conflict Of Interest

Source: Indian Express

 

Context: The UAE, which will host this year’s annual climate change conference has named one of its ministers, Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the CEO of an oil company as the president of the conference.

  • The fact that the CEO of an oil company has been named to preside over a conference on climate change when the world is attempting to move away from oil and other fossil fuels is being seen as a conflict of interest.
  • This is the first time that anyone having a direct connection to the fossil fuel industry has been appointed as president of the climate change conference.

 

 

 

Conflict Of Interest:

A “conflict of interest” involves a conflict between the public duty and private interests of a public official, in which the public official has private-capacity interests, which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

 

 

In such a situation, the judgement of an individual could be impaired. A conflict of interest can exist in many different situations. Conflict of interest is seen as a moral issue and not strictly a legal one.

 

 

Mechanism to check Conflict Of Interest:

  • Declaration: Office bearers may be required to disclose interests where they hold pecuniary interests (income from employment, shareholding, and directorship) and non-pecuniary interests (membership of an interest group).
  • Recusal: In some cases, the office bearers may be asked not to participate in the discussion or vote on a topic where there may be a conflict of interest.
  • Incompatibility: Office bearers may be prohibited from holding the office of profit or some types of private jobs. There may also be some restrictions related to post-tenure employment.
  • Regulation of Gifts and Travel.

  

Mains Link: UPSC 2018

Q. What is meant by conflict of interest? Illustrate with examples, the difference between the actual and potential conflicts of interest.

 

 

Content for Mains Enrichment


Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Source: BBC

Direction: Quotes, values and stories can be used in the essay and ethics answers.

 

Doctor Didi’s creating social capital in Jharkhand

Source: The Hindu

Direction: Can be used as an example in Governance case studies/ Ethics (persuasion, community relation)/ Essay

 

Doctor Didis (or Pashu Sakhi) of around 1,000 women in all 24 districts of Jharkhand have been recruited since October 2013 for the last mile of livestock management

 

 

Values that can be learnt:

  • Social engagement and persuasion: They advise farmers on health checks of their livestock, vaccinations, deworming, hygiene, breeding, feeding and management of animal waste.
    • These women go door to door when called.
  • Collaboration: Jharkhand Government (under its Jharkhand Opportunities for Harnessing Rural Growth (JOHAR)) and central government (under National Rural Livelihood Mission) together with World Bank
  • Capacity building of community resources: The pashu sakhis receive a 30-day training program (Introductory, Practical, and Higher) at three levels in seven-day instalments on how to care for poultry, goats, and pigs.

 

What is social capital?

Social capital is a set of shared values or resources that allows individuals to work together in a group to effectively achieve a common purpose.

 

Environment/ India related Keywords which can be used in the Answer writings (you may click on the link to know more about the context of the keywords):

 


Facts for prelims:


Magh Bihu

Source: PIB

Context: Prime Minister greeted the people on the occasion of Magh Bihu.

 

About Magh Bihu:

  • It is a harvest festival of Assam where people express gratitude for a good harvest and marks the end of the harvest season.
  • It believes in sharing the gifts of nature as a community and strengthening a sense of identity and belonging.
  • The festival of Bihu has three forms: Bohag Bihu, Kati Bihu, and Magh Bihu. Each of these falls in the agriculture calendar.

 

This day is considered auspicious in the Hindu lunar year as well and is known as the Makar Sankranti, i.e., the day when the sun begins its northward journey or Uttarayan and transitions into the Hindu zodiac sign of Makara.

 

On this day the Sun God is worshipped in various parts of India in the form of different festivals such as Pongal (Tamil Nadu), Maghi (Punjab), and Uttarayan (Gujarat).

 

 

Related News: Indian Express

Maghi Mela has been celebrated in the city of Sri Muktsar Sahib in Punjab for centuries in memory of 40 Sikh warriors who were killed fighting the Mughals in the Battle of Khidrana in 1705. It was after this battle that Khidrana was named Muktsar, or the pool of liberation.

 

Gangasagar mela

Gangasagar Mela is known as the world’s second-largest human congregation after Kumbh. The event is organized every year during Makar Sankranti. The mela is held at Sagar Island (West Bengal). Recently, West Bengal has demanded National Mela status for Gangasagar mela.

 

 ‘Music in the Park’ series under “Shruti Amrut”

Source: PIB

Context: SPIC MACAY organizes its very popular ‘Music in the Park’ series this year under the name “Shruti Amrut” in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the New Delhi Municipal Council.

 

About SPIC MACAY:

SPIC MACAY- The Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture amongst youth is a voluntary youth movement that promotes the tangible & intangible aspects of Indian & world heritage by organizing programs and workshops on Indian Classical, Folk Music and dance, Yoga, meditation, crafts, and other aspects of Indian culture. It is a movement started in 1977 and has chapters in over 850 towns across the world.

 

Exporters under scanner for tax scheme misuse

Source: Business-Standards

 

Context: As per the GST authorities, exporters are misusing the government’s duty drawback scheme (DDS) by claiming it along with refunds of integrated goods and services tax (GST).

  

What is the issue?

Over 100 exporters (mainly in apparel, drugs and leather) have “illegally” drawn benefits from the integrated GST refund claims on exports while also claiming under DDS.

  • Duty drawback can be only claimed for compensating unrelated taxes and duties and not for GST.

  

What is Duty Drawback Scheme?

The Duty Drawback Scheme provides exporters with a refund of customs duty paid on unused imported goods, or goods that will be treated, processed or incorporated into other goods for export.

Claims must be lodged within 4 years from the date the goods were exported.

 

National Coal Index

Source: Business-Standards

Context: While launching the sixth-round commercial coal mines’ auction for 141 coal mines, the ministry of Coal has decided to annually revise Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) annually based on the National Coal Index (NCI) for the month of April at the beginning of the year.

  

Why the revision in PBG?

Since the prices of coal fluctuate and have increased recently, the revision of PBG will ensure ease of doing business for companies and allow more investors in the coal sector.

 

What is PBG?

It is a bank guarantee that needs to be submitted for each successfully auctioned coal mine by the winning entity. It shows that the entity has the capability to carry on the mining activity.

 

What is a coal auction?

After the cancellation of coal licenses by India’s supreme court, an auction-based regime was introduced in 2014, which allowed private sector participation. However, it was limited to captive usage in its own end-use plants. The sector has recently been opened for commercial mining by the private sector.

 

What is NCI?

It is a price index reflecting the change in the price level of coal in a particular month relative to the fixed base year (2017-18 in this case)

  • The ministry of coal has started the commercial auction of coal mines on a revenue-share basis using the National Coal Index

 

National Textile Corporation

Source: Indian Express

Context: Union Textile Ministry will form a committee to speed up the redevelopment of land under nine mills of the National Textile Corporation (NTC) in Mumbai.

  • A total of 11 chawls exist on the lands of these nine mills, and residents of these chawls will now get 405 sqft houses as compared with their current 100-150 sqft houses, he said.

 

About NTC:

National Textile Corporation is a central public sector undertaking under the ownership of the Ministry of Textiles. It owns 23 working textile mills which produce yarn and fabric. The company was incorporated in 1968.

 

Saltie census 2023: 1,793 estuarine crocodiles including 20 whitish ones counted in Bhitarkanika

Source: DTE

 Context: The population of saltwater crocodiles in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas in Odisha’s Kendrapara district has marginally increased in 2023, according to the annual reptile census.

About the annual reptile census:

  • Techniques used for the census: Spotlights at night, GPS, and Photographic Interpretation to measure the length and age of the crocodiles

 

Crocodile conservation programmes in India:

  • The Gharial, Mugger and Saltwater crocodile conservation programme: The breeding and rearing programme for three species of crocodilians — saltwater crocodile, mugger and gharial — had been started in 1975 in 34 places in West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states in India and Nepal.
  • BAULA’ PROJECT AT DANGAMAL: ‘Baula’ is the Oriya term for Saltwater Crocodile. Dangmal is in the Bhitarkanika sanctuary.
  • CAPTIVE BREEDING OF CROCODILES AT NANDANKANAN, Odisha
  • Odisha is having the distinction for the existence of all three species of Indian crocodilians

 

A novel spray that could prevent COVID-19 infection developed

Source: The Hindu

Context:  Researchers have created new molecules that can be sprayed into the nose to block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering the lungs and causing infection.

  

About research:

  • Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University in the US have now created thin, thread-like strands of molecules called supramolecular filaments capable of blocking the virus in its tracks.
  • The key to this approach is the way that the filaments carry a receptor called angiotensin converting enzyme-2, or ACE2, which is also found in cells in the nasal lining, the lung surface, and the small intestine.
  • The spike protein of the virus clicks into this receptor, much like a key going into a lock, allowing it to enter the cell and replicate. Once the virus is locked into the cell, it prevents the cell from executing its normal functions, leading to and exacerbating infections.
  • It is known to researchers that adding extra ACE2 into airways can block virus entry, essentially preventing the virus from binding with ACE2 in the lungs.
  • The team’s newly developed filament, called fACE2, serves as a decoy binding site for the virus, with each filament offering several receptors for the COVID-19 spike protein to attach to, and silences ACE2’s biological functions to avoid potential side effects.

 

India arms civilians in border villages

Source: The Hindu

Context: With heightened terror activity in Jammu, the CRPF is reviving Village Defense Committees that was disbanded in the early 2000s

 

 

What is a JK Village Defence Committee (VDC)?

  • The VDCs were first formed in the mid-1990s as a force multiplier against militant attacks. The VDCs have now been renamed Village Defence Guards (VDG).
  • Each VDG will be provided with a gun and 100 rounds of ammunition
  • Persons leading the VDGs will be paid Rs 4,500 per month by the government, while others will get Rs 4,000 each

 

 

Origin of the VDCs:

The idea was taken from the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars when the government armed ex-servicemen and abled-bodied youth in villages along the border to guard against the infiltration of Pakistani spies. The same was used in 1995 when violence escalated in Kashmir.

 

 

Controversies surrounding the scheme:

  • In the past VDCs have faced allegations of human rights violations and other crimes, including murder, rape and extortion.
  • SC judgement in the case of Salwa Judum (anti-Naxalite militia in the Chhatisgarh): In 2008, the Supreme Court directed the state government to stop supporting and providing alms to Salwa Judum. The state government has no right to provide arms to a civilian and allow him to kill someone else.

 

 

Government’s stand:

  • The government is not absolving itself of responsibilities by arming civilians.
  • A State is empowered to empower its citizens. There are three aspects to this:
    • Protection
    • Confidence building of a community
    • Visibility of armed people that could act as a deterrence in case of an attack

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