National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 11th December 2019
In News: External affairs minister introduced a bill in Parliament that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty, for those involved in piracy at sea.
More on the Topic:
- The introduction of the bill comes days after some 18 Indians aboard a crude oil carrier were kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria.
- The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill 2019 is aimed at promoting the safety and security of India’s maritime trade, and the safety of its crew members.
- The government’s aim in drafting the proposed legislation was to keep up with India’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which concluded in 1982. India had ratified the UNCLOS in 1995.
Significance of the bill:
- Piracy has been growing in the Indian Ocean region since 2008. It is especially more in the Gulf of Aden, which is used by more than 2,000 ships a day.
- The Gulf has seen several attacks from Somalia. The region is important as it is the busiest trade route between Europe, Asia and East Coast of Africa. These incidents affect the west coast of India as well.
- This is because, several countries jointly and individually are increasing their security in the Gulf of Aden region to protect their ships.
- This has forced the pirates to shift their operation eastwards and southwards. This affects India greatly and a strict legislation is required.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):
- The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is considered the “constitution of the oceans”.
- It was open for signature at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10 December 1982 but entered into force on 14 November 1994 and is presently binding for 154 States, as well as the European Community (as of 24 July 2008).
- Internal waters: According to this treaty, country can make laws without interference of the alien country; regulate its use and use of its resources. Foreign vessels have no right of passage within internal waters without permission.
- Territorial waters: This convention defined the territorial water baseline as 12 Nautical miles in which parent country is free to set laws, regulate use and use of its resources. Alien vessel are not allowed to enter within the territorial water baseline without permission except innocent passage (Innocent passage” is defined by the convention as passing through waters in an expeditious and continuous manner, which is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of the coastal state.)
- Archipelagic waters: According to this convention, States consisting of archipelagos, provided certain conditions are satisfied, can be considered as “archipelagic States”, the outermost islands being connected by “archipelagic baselines” so that the waters inside these lines are archipelagic waters (similar to internal waters but with a right of innocent passage and a right of archipelagic sea lanes passage similar to transit passage through straits, for third States).
- Exclusive Economic Zone: According to this convention, a 200-mile exclusive economic zone including the seabed and the water column, may be established by coastal States in which such States exercise sovereign rights and jurisdiction on all resource-related activities, including artificial islands and installations, marine scientific research and the protection of the environment; other States enjoy in the exclusive economic zone high seas freedoms of navigation, overflight, laying of cables and pipelines and other internationally lawful uses of the sea connected with these freedoms; a rule of reciprocal “due regard” applies to ensure compatibility between the exercise of the rights of the coastal States and of those of other States in the exclusive economic zone.
- Continental Shelf: This convention defined the external limits of the continental shelf which may exceed 200 nautical miles until the natural prolongation ends. However, it may never exceed 350 nautical miles from the baseline; or it may never exceed 100 nautical miles beyond the line connecting the depth of 2,500 meters. Coastal states have the right to use mineral and non-living material in the subsoil of its continental shelf, to the exclusion of others.
- Contiguous zone: The area of the 12 Nautical miles beyond the territorial waters baseline is called Contiguous zone. According to the convention, beyond the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) limit, there is a further 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the territorial sea baseline limit, the contiguous zone. The countries that coming within the ambit of this zone can enforce laws only in four areas, i.e. Pollution, taxation, customs and immigration.
Topic: Polity and Governance
In News: The heinous rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad in late November shook the collective conscience of India and resulted in an outcry for justice for the victim and outrage over the persisting lack of safety for women in public spaces. The killing of the four accused of the rape and murder of the veterinary doctor by the Cyberabad police raises disturbing questions.
More on the Topic:
- The police claim that two of the accused snatched their weapons and fired at them when the four had been taken to the crime scene to reconstruct the sequence of events late after midnight, and that they killed them in self-defence. The claim stretches credulity.
- The National Human Rights Commission has deputed a fact-finding team to Hyderabad to probe the incident. The guidelines set by the Supreme Court to deal with such events, including the need for an independent investigation, must be strictly observed to get to the bottom of this sordid episode.
When are extra-judicial killings permissible?
- The following are the observations made by Justice Venkatachaliah, who was Chief Justice of India in 1993-94.
- Under Indian laws, the police have not been conferred any right to take away the life of another person.
- If, by his act, the policeman kills a person, he commits the offence of culpable homicide unless it is proved that such killing was not an offence under the law.
- This remains the case whether it amounts to the offence of murder or not.
The only two circumstances in which such killing would not constitute an offence are:
- If death is caused in the exercise of the right of private defence under Section 46 of the CrPC
- Section 46 “authorises the police to use force, extending up to the causing of death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.
- In this regard, the NHRC asked all states and UTs to ensure that police follow a set of guidelines in cases where death is caused in police encounters.
- An FIR must be registered under IPC if a complaint is received against the police, alleging commission of a criminal act amounting to a cognisable case of culpable homicide.
- A magisterial enquiry must be held in all cases of death which occurs in the course of police action, as expeditiously as possible, preferably within 3 months.
- All cases of deaths in police action in the states shall be reported to the Commission.
- The Senior Superintendent of Police/Superintendent of Police of the District should report in a given format within 48 hours of such death.
- A second report must be sent in all cases to the Commission within 3 months.
- This should provide information including post mortem report, inquest report, findings of the magisterial enquiry/enquiry by senior officers.
Directions by the Supreme Court:
- 2014, the court had, issued a detailed 16-point procedure to be followed in the matters of investigating police encounters in the cases of death.
- Highlights are given below,
- If the police is in receipt of any intelligence regarding criminal movements or activities relating to grave criminal offence, it shall be written in some form (preferably into case diary) or in some electronic form.
- In regards with this, if encounter takes place and firearm used and death occurs, an FIR shall be registered. The FIR shall be forwarded to the court under Section 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure without any delay.
- An independent investigation into the incident/encounter shall be conducted by the CID or police team of another police station.
- This should take place under the supervision of a senior officer (at least a level above the head of the police party engaged in the encounter).
- A Magisterial inquiry under Section 176 of the Code must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police firing.
- A report thereof must be sent to Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code.
- The involvement of NHRC is not necessary unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.
- However, the information of the incident without any delay must be sent to NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission, as the case may be.
Are cops involved in encounters worthy of praise and rewards?
- No promotions or gallantry awards should be presented to the officials who were a part of the encounter immediately after the incident. Rewards should be given only when the gallantry of the officer is established beyond doubt.
Source: The Hindu
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In News: The water availability per person in India has significantly reduced due to the expanding population in the country.
More on the Topic:
- The average per capita water availability in the year 2011 was recorded at 1545 cubic meters, falling from 1816 cubic meters a decade ago in the year 2001. If that’s not worrying enough, the water availability per person in India is set to fall further to 1486 cubic meters in 2021 (According to Jal Shakti ministry data)
- Water does not only cater to sanitation, cooking, drinking, and farming requirements, but it directly affects job creation and the economic growth of the country. Hence, the low availability of water can be dangerous for the holistic growth of India’s economy.
Steps taken by Government for water conservation:
- To balance the availability of water, the central government has made a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Water Resources Development which envisages a transfer of water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins.(River Interlinking)
- In Rajasthan, there is a scheme called ‘Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan’. One of its objectives is to ensure effective implementation of water conservation and water harvesting related activities in rural areas.
- Maharashtra has launched a project called ‘Jalyukt-Shivar’, which aims to make 5000 villages free of water scarcity every year.
- The Telangana government has launched a mission called Mission Kakatiya, the objective of which is to enhance the development of agriculture based income for small and marginal farmers, by accelerating the development of minor irrigation infrastructure, strengthening community based irrigation management and adopting a comprehensive programme for restoration of tanks.
- The govt. has launched Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which aims at providing functional household tap connections to every rural household by 2024 at the service level of 55 litre per capita per day.
- This mission will focus on integrated demand and supply side management of water at the local level, including creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse in agriculture.
Topic: Environment and Ecology
In News: The world’s oceans have less oxygen today than they did up to, say, 1950 or 1960, according to the report by IUCN.
More on the Topic:
- According to the findings of the study, the levels of oxygen in oceans fell by around 2 per cent from 1960 to 2010. The deoxygenation of the oceans occurred due to climate change and other human activities (such as the nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers into waterways).
What can deoxygenation do to oceans?
- In many parts of the world, including along the western coast of the United States, fish have been dying en masse, a clear illustration of the ways in which deoxygenation is choking the oceans.
- Also, the loss of oxygen in the oceans can affect the planetary cycling of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous which are essential for life on Earth.
- As oceans lose oxygen, they become more acidic, a phenomenon that has resulted in some places in shellfish having their shells degraded or dissolved — the so called “osteoporosis of the sea”.
- Apart from their declining oxygen content, oceans have, since the middle of the 20th century, absorbed 93 per cent of the heat associated with human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, leading to mass bleaching of coral reefs.
- Also, since warmer water occupies more space than cooler water, NASA estimates that this is the reason for roughly a third of the rise in sea levels.
Model Mains Question: Comment on the effects of climate change on oceans.
In News: Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has developed a typhoid vaccine (Typbar TCV) which has better efficacy than the previously used vaccinations in preventing typhoid fever.
More on the Topic:
- Typbar TCV is a type of conjugate vaccine which has already been pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO-SAGE).
- Currently, two typhoid vaccines viz. Polysaccharide Typhoid Vaccine and Live, Weakened Typhoid Vaccine are used in India. However, their efficacy is lower than the conjugate vaccine as they offer 60-70% protection, unlike the conjugate vaccine which confers nearly 82% protection.
- Conjugate vaccines are made using a combination of two different components. In Typbar TCV, an antigen is chemically linked to a carrier protein to create more powerful combined immune response.
|Typhoid fever is caused by the highly contagious Salmonella Typhi bacteria. The bacteria spread through contaminated food or water. According to the WHO, a large proportion of severe typhoid fever cases occur in children aged below two years.|
Topic: Government Policies
In News: Indian Railways has successfully completed the work of providing free public Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country. This is a unique initiative as this Wi-Fi network is one of the largest Wi-Fi networks in the world.
More on the Topic:
- To transform the Railway stations into the hub of Digital inclusion, Indian Railways mandated RailTel, a Miniratna PSU under Ministry of Railways, to provide free high-speed Wi-Fi at the Railway stations.
- The journey started in January 2016 from the financial capital of India – Mumbai Central station and in a span of 46 months Railways has successfully provided Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country.
- The mission is to provide Wi-Fi at all Railway stations (except the halt ones).
- The Wi-Fi is being provided under the brand name of RailWire.