Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 12th October 2021

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1.  Dangerous deadlock

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper III – Security
Sub Theme: Border management | UPSC

Basics of Border Management 

International Border (IB): Border which has been accepted by both the Countries as well as the rest of the world. For example, the Radcliffe line that divided British India into India and Pakistan is an International border between the two countries. It stretches for approximately 2,400 km from Gujarat to  Akhnoor in Jammu. The IB has in place mechanisms to guard the border against illegal trespassing as well as to regulate the legal flow of trade and travel across it. It is guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF) and has land custom stations and immigration check posts to allow entry and exit of passengers and cargo. The administration of IB is the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Line of Control: It is a ceasefire line which came into existence after 1947-48 Indo-Pak War. This line was renamed as Line of Control (LoC) during the Shimla Agreement. Since it acts as ceasefire line, both countries have in principle agreed not to not to alter it unilaterally until the dispute over J&K gets resolved peacefully. So, unlike International Border, the Line of Control (LoC) is disputed border. But the countries decide to maintain status quo until there is a peaceful resolution of dispute.

Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL): It divides the current position of Indian and Pakistani troops in the Siachen region. It extends from northern most point of LoC (NJ 9842)  to Indira Col in the north.

Line of Actual Control (LAC): The Line of Control (LoC) between between India and Pakistan is delineated on a map and signed by armies of both countries with international sanctity. However, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China remains ambiguous. It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.

The first ever mention of LAC was made by Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in his letter to PM Nehru in 1959. According to him, the  LAC consisted of the McMahon Line in the east and the line up to which each side exercises actual control in the west”. However, this was not put on map.

This was followed by Indo-China War in 1962 over the differences in the perception of border in Aksai Chin region and Arunachal Pradesh. Subsequently, in 1962, Chinese PM clarified that the LAC would consist of McMahon Line in the east and  in the western and middle sectors it coincides in the main with the traditional customary line which has consistently been pointed out by China.

India rejected the concept of LAC in both 1959 and 1962 on account of number of reasons:

  1. The LAC as pointed out by China in 1962 also included the areas occupied by Chinese troops during the 1962  war. So, India wanted China to first withdraw from its territory before accepting LAC.
  2. The LAC was not delineated on the map correctly. Rather then being in form of line, it was a series of disconnected points of a map. Now, these series of disconnected points could have been joined in a manner which could have led to loss of Indian territory.
  3. The LAC was something which came into being at the behest of China due to its aggression and was not a mutually accepted line.

Finally, both the countries signed the Agreement to Maintain Peace and Tranquillity at the LAC in 1993 and India formally accepted the LAC. However, the LAC here does not correspond to the LAC of 1959 0r 1962. But the LAC here corresponds to the time when the agreement was signed in 1993.

The need to formally recognise LAC arose from the fact that Indian and Chinese patrolling teams came into frequent contacts due to differing perception of the LAC and hence it increased the possibility of another war. Hence, India decided to recognise LAC as on 1993. At the same, both the countries decided to set up joint working group for clear delineation of LAC.

 

2.  HK’s largest pro democracy party shuns patriot only polls

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – International relations
Sub Theme: Historical perspectives over Hong Kong, China-Hong Kong issue, India-Hong kong relation | UPSC

World History perspective on Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong was acquired by Britain after defeating China in the Opium War. The war broke out after Qing-dynasty China attempted to crack down an illegal opium trade that led to widespread addiction in China. In 1842, China agreed to cede the island of Hong Kong to the British in perpetuity through the Treaty of Nanjing.
  • Over the next half-century, the United Kingdom gained control over all three main regions of Hong Kong: After Hong Kong Island came the Kowloon Peninsula, and finally the New Territories, a swath of land that comprises the bulk of Hong Kong today.
  • The final treaty, the 1898 Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, leased the New Territories to Britain for 99 years. Under the terms of the treaty, China would regain control of its leased lands on July 1, 1997.
  • India’s relations with Hong Kong also date back to this this time period of 1840s.

Handover to China:

  • As the 99-year treaty was to expire on July 1, 1997, both Britain and China signed a joint declaration on the future of Hong Kong in 1984. Under the joint declaration, an innovative “one country, two systems” was devised, under which Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty while retaining its political and economic system.
  • The political process in Hong Kong is guided as per the province’s Basic Law, and it has two main features:
  • The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.
  • The Chief Executive (CE) is the highest representative leader in Hong Kong and he shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People’s Government. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a nominating committee.

Current Perspective: 

Geographical Significance

  • Hong Kong forms a part of the Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. It is the wealthiest region in South China & the largest urban area in the world in both size and population.
    It includes major economic centers such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Macau. Its GDP is at $1.2 trillion, which make it the largest economic region in South East Asia, above Indonesia.

Cause of tensions between China & Hong Kong:

  • The main crux of the tension is about the right to universal suffrage in selecting the highest governing personnel in Hong Kong, whereby it is the Chinese government that nominates individuals who then can stand for Chief Executive. China wants its control on the nominations process wherein China nominates only Pro-Chinese government individuals that do not critique Chinese policies in Hong Kong. The pro-democracy activists prefer a more direct election process.
  • Apart from this, when Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997, it was a major source of economic investment into mainland China, however the growth of Chinese economy has allowed Chinese government to increase stronghold of Hong Kong.
  • The are several cultural differences between Hong Kong and China, whereby Mainland China is a Mandarin speaking region, while Hong Kong is a Cantonese speaking region. Hong Kong considers itself culturally distinct from China like other countries of Indo-China region.

Editorial Context:

  • Hong Kong is currently witnessing anti-government and pro-democracy protests, wherein the a bill has been introduced to allow Hong Kong courts to allow extradition to mainland China, which would allow China to legally take actions against anti-China activists.
  • China has hinted at using People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to quell the protests, however according to author this may lead to a similar fallout as the Tiananmen square incident in 1989, in which PLA killed thousands of pro-democracy protesters. This would not be tolerated by other countries such as the U.S., UK and EU.
  • China for now has put on hold the law, but the protests are still continuing.

India – Hong Kong relations:

  • India respects and follows the ‘One Nation, two system’ policy of China and Hong Kong. India on this basis does sign separate agreement with China and Hong Kong on economic issues such as DTAA, Customs, etc. This is due to their different economic systems.
  • Hong Kong has always acted as a “Gateway to China” for the companies in rest of the world. With the rapid growth in engagement between the Chinese and Indian economies, Hong Kong acts as a “Gateway to India” for the mainland companies. Hong Kong is major re-exporter of items it imports from India to Mainland China.
  • India was Hong Kong’s 3rd  largest export market destination (after China, US) in 2017 (Jan-Dec) and Hong Kong was India’s 3rd largest export market (after US, UAE).  Hong Kong occupies the 12th position in FDI equity inflows into India in 2018.
  • Hong Kong has for more than 150 years been home to a large Indian community and its contribution to Hong Kong includes their oldest university: Hong Kong University. Several Hong Kong based persons of Indian origin have been awarded the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award.

 

3.  The next step is constitutional right to health

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity | Mains – GS Paper II – Polity and constituion
Sub Theme: Right to health | SC’s view on right to health| | UPSC

Context: Under Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) provides a cover of up to Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. The article suggests that making “Right to Health” as part of fundamental rights will further strengthen the claim under PMJAY specially for 1. Farmers and Unorganised Workers 2. Women & 3. Children.

Constitutional Provisions related to Health

PART – III

  • Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour – indirectly protects physical and mental health of people trapped in trafficking
  • Article 24 – Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc – No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment – also protects health of children working in hazardous environment.

PART IV

  • Article 39(e) – The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing – that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.
  • Article 42 – Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief
  • Article 47 – Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health – including endeavour by state to prohibit consumption of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health except for medicinal purposes.

11th & 12th Schedule

  • In addition to the DPSP, some other health-related provisions can be found in the 11th and 12th Schedules, as subjects within the jurisdictions of Panchayats and Municipalities, respectively. These include the duty to provide clean drinking water, adequate healthcare and sanitation (including hospitals, primary health care centers and dispensaries), promotion of family welfare, development of women and children, promotion of social welfare, etc.   

Supreme Court on Right to Health as Part of Article 21

  • The Constitution of India does not expressly recognize Right to Health as a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution (Fundamental Rights). However, through judicial interpretation, this has been read into the fundamental right to life & personal liberty (Article 21) and is now considered an inseparable part of the Right to Life. Article 23 of the Constitution of India also indirectly contributes to protecting the Right to Health as it prohibits human trafficking and child labour.
  • Francis Coralie Mullin v The Administrator, UT of Delhi – The Supreme Court observed that the expression “life” in Article 21 means a life with human dignity and not mere survival or animal existence. Right to life has a very broad scope which includes right to livelihood, better standard of life, hygienic conditions in the workplace & right to leisure. Right to Health is, therefore, an inherent and inescapable part of a dignified life. Article 21 should also be read in tandem with the directive principles of state policy, cited above, to truly understand the nature of the obligations of the state in this respect.
  • Bandhua Mukti Morcha v Union of India – Supreme Court held that although the DPSP are not binding obligations but hold only persuasive value, yet they should be duly implemented by the State. Further, the Court held that dignity and health fall within the ambit of life and liberty under Article 21.
  • Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity v State of West Bengal – the scope of Article 21 was further widened, as the court held that it is the responsibility of the Government to provide adequate medical aid to every person and to strive for the welfare of the public at large.
Now we understand that Right to Health has been recognised as part of Article 21 by Supreme Court in successive judgments. However, the Article raises the contention that “Right to Health” just like Right to Education should be added as a separate provision under Fundamental Rights chapter.

Impact of not including “Right to Health” under PART III

  • On Farmers – Majority of farmers remain at a loose end when it comes to their own rights and well-being, and that of their families. Without an anchor during times of severe illness or disease, generations of children of small and landless farmers, and unorganised, migrant and seasonal workers are thrown into bondage and debt by having to pay for medical costs from their limited earnings. Employment benefit schemes seldom reach them.
  • On Women – Women bear a disproportionate burden of the gaps in our health-care system. The taboos and patriarchal expectations surrounding their health lead to immense avoidable suffering. In addition, social and economic challenges prevent them from freely and openly accessing the little care that is available. A ‘Right to Health’ would mean that services reach the woman where and when she needs them.
  • On Children – A large number of children who belong to the poorest and most marginalised communities of our country grow up working in hazardous situations be it fields, mines, brick kilns or factories. They are either not enrolled in schools or are not able to attend it due to the pressing financial needs of the family — often because of unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Way Forward

  • A constitutional ‘Right to Health’ will transform not only the health and well-being of our people but will act as a leap for the economic and developmental progress of the nation.
  • The vision for Ayushman Bharat will be further strengthened with a constitutional ‘Right to Health’.
  • The immediate financial security that will come with the constitutional ‘Right to Health’ will be seen as a measurable impact on family savings, greater investment, and jobs creation on the one hand, and in the long-term emotional, psychological and social security of people.
  • Thus, right to health can provide simple, transparent and quality health care to those who are most in need of such care.
  • Provision of Right to Health under PART-III will ensure mandatory compliance by state, else writ petitions can be filed under Article 32 for its enforcement.

 

4.  Protecting India’s natural laboratories

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Art and culture | Mains – GS Paper I – Art and culture
Sub Theme: Protecting India’s geological heritage| UPSC

Protecting India’s natural laboratories:

Geological heritage- “Geologic Heritage encompasses the significant geologic features, landforms, and landscapes characteristic of our Nation which are preserved for the full range of values that society places on them, including scientific, aesthetic, cultural, ecosystem, educational, recreational, tourism, and other values

Indian geological diversity- Indian landmass separated from Gondwana land and merged with the southern margins of the Eurasian continental landmass

  • The geological features and landscapes that evolved over billions of years through numerous cycles of tectonic and climate upheavals are recorded in India’s rock formations and terrains, and are part of the country’s heritage.
  • India has tall mountains, deep valleys, sculpted landforms, long-winding coastlines, hot mineral springs, active volcanoes, diverse soil types, mineralised areas, and globally important fossil-bearing sites.
  • It is long known as the world’s ‘natural laboratory’ for geo-scientific learning.

    Some famous examples:

  • The Kutch region in Gujarat has dinosaur fossils and is our version of a Jurassic Park.
  • The Tiruchirappalli region of Tamil Nadu, originally a Mesozoic Ocean, is a store house of Cretaceous (60 million years ago) marine fossils.

    Why it needs to be protected?

  • Geo- heritage sites are educational spaces important not only from the scientific point of view but also for understanding the cultural evolution of the society for example, history of the Indus River Valley, one of the cradles of human civilisation. India offers plenty of such examples.
  • It offers many solutions like dealing with climate change. Learning from the geological past, like the warmer intervals during the Miocene Epoch (23 to 5 million years ago), whose climate can be reconstructed using proxies and simulations, may serve as an analogue for future climate.
  • It also offers source of revenue and potential to generate employment in the name of geo tourism.

    Steps taken world wide:

  • 1991 – UNESCO sponsored event -‘First International Symposium on the Conservation of our Geological Heritage’ endorsed the concept of a shared legacy: “Man and the Earth share a common heritage, of which we and our governments are but the custodians.” This declaration foresaw the establishment of geo-parks as sites.
  • Digne resolution- UNESCO facilitated efforts to create a formal programme promoting a global network of geoheritage sites. These were intended to complement the World Heritage Convention and the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere programme. Today, there are 169 Global Geoparks across 44 countries.
  • Countries like Vietnam and Thailand have also implemented laws to conserve their geological and natural heritage.

    Status in India:

  • India does not have any specific legislation and policy for conservation.
  • Though the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified 32 sites as National Geological Monuments, there is not a single geo-park in India which is recognised by the UNESCO.
  • India is a signatory to the establishment of UNESCO Global Geoparks.
  • The GSI had submitted a draft legislation for geo-heritage conservation to the Ministry of Mines in 2014, but it did not make any impact.
  • Lack of clear cut policies – Many fossil-bearing sites have been destroyed in the name of development.
Case Study:  High concentration of iridium in the geological section at Anjar, Kutch district, provides evidence for a massive meteoritic impact that caused the extinction of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. This site was destroyed due to the laying of a new rail track in the area.
  • Unplanned and booming real estate business along with unregulated stone mining activities is creating a havoc.

 

5. Noble for wages

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy
Sub Theme: Noble prize in economic sciences | UPSC

The Prize in Economic Sciences 2021

  • To: David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens.
  • For: provided new insights about the labour market and showing conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from natural experiments.

Understanding their findings:

  • Nature works on a cause and effect relation. Things fall on the surface. Why? Because of gravity. Price of a product rise. Why? Because of demand or scarcity.
  • But economist does not have exact comparative analysis on how the counter argument would go? That what would happen if there increase in demand with scarcity and yet price does not rise. What if economist could get answers to those questions where it is hard to find the cause effect relation.
  • These three economist have developed a statistical model showing answers to these questions and similar questions using natural experiments.
  • The key is to use situations in which chance events or policy changes result in groups of people being treated differently, in a way that resembles clinical trials in medicine.

Experiment:

  • Using natural experiments, David Card has analysed the labour market effects of minimum wages, immigration and education.
  • His studies from the early 1990s challenged conventional wisdom, leading to new analyses and additional insights.
  • The results showed, among other things, that increasing the minimum wage does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs.

Other example:

  • Extending compulsory education by a year for one group of students (but not another) will not affect everyone in that group in the same way. Some students would have kept studying anyway and, for them, the value of education is often not representative of the entire group.
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