10 March, 2020 48 Min Read
|GS-I||SC/ST Education-Social Inclusion||Indian Society|
|GS-II||Afghanistan crisis and US - Taliban peace process||International Relations|
|India and Afghanistan analysis||International Relations|
|COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM||International Organisations|
|GS-III||Quantum Supremacy||Science and Technology|
GS-I : Indian Society
‘Fall in percentage of school education funds for SC, STs’
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Social Issue
What’s in News?
After several years of rising trends, the Centre has reduced the percentage allocation of funds for education of schoolchildren from SC and ST communities as well as for the north-eastern region in the coming year.
Scheme for SC/ST in education.
Scheme of Grant in Aid to Voluntary Organisations working for Scheduled Castes
Pre-Matric Scholarship to the SC Students studying in classes IX & X
Pre-Matric Scholarships to the Children of those Engaged in occupations involving cleaning and prone to health hazards
Post-Matric Scholarship for SC students
Upggadation of Merit Of SC Students
Central Sector Scholarship of Top Class Education for SC Students
National Overseas scholarship
National Fellowship for Scheduled Caste Students
BABU JAGJIVAN RAM CHHATRAWAS YOJANA
Free Coaching Scheme for SC and OBC Students
Schemes for Economic Development
Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for the Scheduled Castes (SCs)
National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC)
National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC)
Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP)
Scheme of Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs)
Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)
Venture Capital Fund For Scheduled Castes
Schemes for Social Empowerment
Centrally Sponsored Scheme for implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)
SCHOLARSHIP SCHEMES FOR SC/ST STUDENTS
The Finance Minister in his budget speech on the Union Budget 2005-06 made the following announcements –
“The key to empowering the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is to provide top class education opportunities to meritorious students. The three on-going scholarship schemes for SC/ST students under the Central Plan – pre-Matric, post-Matric and merit-based – will continue.
To provide an added incentive, I propose a new window: a short list of institutes of excellence will be notified, and any SC/ST student who secures admission in one of those institutes will be awarded a larger scholarship that will meet the requirements for tuition fees, living expenses, books and a computer.”
The Scheme was approved in 2007 and was subsequently revised in January, 2012 and June 2016.
2. Objectives and Coverage
2.1 The Scheme aims at recognizing and promoting quality education amongst students belonging to SCs, by providing full financial support. The scheme will cover SC students for pursuing studies beyond 12th class.
2.2 The scheme will operate in all institutions notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
2.3 The SC students, who secure admission in the notified institutions, will be awarded scholarship to meet the requirements for (i) full tuition fee and non-refundable charges (there will be a ceiling of Rs. 2.00 lakhs per annum per student for private sector institutions and Rs.3.72 lakhs per annum per student for the private sector flying clubs for Commercial Pilot Training and Type Rating Courses), (ii) living expenses to the beneficiary @ Rs. 2220/- per month per student. However, the advance payment of living expenses, to be paid directly by the Central Government, through Direct Benefits Transfer mode would be restricted to 1 quarter only. (iii) books and stationery @ Rs. 3000/- per annum per student and (iv) a latest computer with accessories like UPS, Printer, Multi-media limited to Rs. 45000/- per student as one time assistance during the course. The Institute will procure computers and supply to the awardees. Alternatively, the Institute may also consider re-imbursement of expenses made by a student on Purchase of the computer. Limited Rs. 45,000/- provided, the computer and accessories are procured from a reputed manufacturer/supplier.
2.4 The scholarship, once awarded, will continue till the completion of the course, subject to satisfactory performance.
3.1 Those SC students who have secured admission in the notified institutions according to the norms prescribed by the respective institutions will be eligible for the scholarship under the scheme to the extent of the number of scholarships allocated to the institutes concerned. In case the number of students admitted exceeds the number of awards, then the scholarship will be restricted to the top ones in the inter-se merit list. The remaining students from SC category admitted in the institute in different courses shall be eligible for the Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS) administered by this Ministry as a centrally sponsored scheme, provided such students are otherwise eligible for the said scheme. In case, the institute finds that the number of eligible candidates in the 1st year are less than the number of scholarships allotted to it, the balance scholarships may be offered to students studying in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year, etc. one the basis of inter-se merit of previous year’s result giving priority to those with higher number of Years left to complete their respective course i.e. 1st Year students is to get priority over the 2nd year students and so on.
3.2 Thirty percent (30%) of slots allotted to the Institute shall be reserved for eligible SC girl students as per their inter-se merit. In absence of sufficient number of girl students, the slots may be transferred to eligible boy students as per their merit.
3.3 However, the 30% slots as mentioned above will not include those girl students who are selected on the basis of their performance in the overall merit list of SC students of the Institute.
3.4 The ceiling of total annual family income from all sources under the Scheme is Rs. 6.00 lakh and the general selection criteria among the eligible candidates of any institution must be the merit. However, if for the last available slot in an institution, there is more than one student with equal marks; preference may be given to the student with the lowest parental income.
3.5 The benefit of the Scheme will not be provided to more than 2 siblings in a family. The students will submit an affidavit to this effect in the Institute to certify that he/she is not the 3rd sibling of the family who is availing the benefit under the Scheme.
3.6 The ceiling of total annual family income from all sources under the Scheme is Rs. 6.00 lakh and the general selection criteria among the eligible candidates of any institution must be the merit. However, if for the last available slot in an institution, there is more than one student with equal marks; preference may be given to the student with the lowest parental income.
3.7 The scholarship will become payable immediately after a student has secured admission and has started attending the classes.
3.8 The scholarship will be terminated if the student fails to pass the final examination of each year or any terminal examination or semester examination prescribed. He will, however, remain eligible for the Post-Matric Scholarship.
The Department may also look into the feasibility of bringing back the students who drop out at secondary level and simultaneously providing them vocational training so that these students can look for job opportunities at the earliest possible and also continue their studies.
GS-II : International Relations
Afghanistan Crisis- US TALIBAN DEAL
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR
The Saur Revolution had taken place in Afghanistan in 1978 which installed a communist party in power. Nur Muhammad Taraki became the head of the state replacing the previous president Daoud Khan. Taraki’s government introduced many modernisation reforms that were considered too radical and left them unpopular, especially in the rural areas and with the traditional power structures. The communist government also had a policy of brutally suppressing all opposition. Even unarmed civilians opposing the government were not spared. This led to the rise of various anti-government armed groups in the country. The government itself was divided and Taraki was killed by a rival, Hafizullah Amin, who became the president. The Soviet Union, which at that time, wanted a communist ally in the country, decided to intervene.
Soviet army was deployed on 24th December 1979 in Kabul. They staged a coup and killed Amin, installing Babrak Karmal as the president. Karmal was a Soviet ally. This intervention was seen as an invasion by the USA and other western nations. While the Soviet army had control of the cities and towns, the insurgency groups called the Mujahideen had the rural parts of Afghanistan under their control. A bitter war was fought between both groups. The Soviet Union, which had planned to stay for 6 months to a year in Afghanistan found themselves stuck in a war that was proving to be too costly.
The Mujahideen did not relent in their pursuit to ‘drive out’ the Soviets. They had the support of many countries like the USA, Pakistan, China, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They were given assistance like arms and training needed to fight the soviets. The soviets followed a policy of wiping out the rural regions in order to defeat the Mujahideen. Millions of land mines were planted and important irrigation systems were destroyed. As a result, millions of Afghan refugees took refuge in Pakistan and Iran. Some came to India as well. It is estimated that in the Soviet-Afghan war, about 20 lakh Afghan civilians were killed.
In 1987, after the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union, he announced that his government would start withdrawing troops. The final soviet troops were withdrawn on 15 February 1989. Now, the government of Afghanistan was left alone to fight the Mujahideen. Finally, they succeeded in taking control of Kabul in 1992. Again, the Mujahideen had different factions within and they could not agree on power sharing. The country collapsed into a bloody civil war.
In 1994, a group of fundamentalist students, wrought control of the city of Kandahar and started a campaign to seize power in the country. They were called the Taliban . Many of them were trained in Pakistan when they were in refugee camps. By 1998, almost entire Afghanistan was under the control of the Taliban. Many of the Mujahideen warlords fled to the north of the country and joined the Northern Alliance who were fighting the Taliban. This time, Russia lent support to the Northern Alliance, though they were fighting against them earlier. The Taliban ruled the country under strict interpretation of the Sharia law and many of the progress with regard to women and education which the country had seen earlier, were reversed. Girls were forbidden from attending schools and women banned from working. The Taliban-ruled country also became a safe haven for international terrorists. Only Pakistan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia recognised the Taliban government.
In 2001, a US-led coalition defeated the Taliban and established another government in place. However, Afghanistan still sees resistance from the Taliban in certain pockets.
US fighting a war in Afghanistan and why has it lasted so long?
The Taliban first took control of the capital Kabul in 1996, and ruled most of the country within two years. They followed a radical form of Islam and enforced punishments like public executions. Within two months of the US and its international and Afghan allies launching their attacks, the Taliban regime collapsed and its fighters melted away into Pakistan.
A new US-backed government took over in 2004, but the Taliban still had a lot of support in areas around the Pakistani border, and made hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the drug trade, mining and taxes. As the Taliban carried out more and more suicide attacks, international forces working with Afghan troops struggled to counter the threat the re-energised group posed.
In 2014, at the end of what was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, Nato's international forces - wary of staying in Afghanistan indefinitely - ended their combat mission, leaving it to the Afghan army to fight the Taliban. But that gave the Taliban momentum, as they seized territory and detonated bombs against government and civilian targets. In 2018, Taliban was openly active across 70% of Afghanistan.
Where did the Taliban come from?
Why has the war lasted so long?
5 Main reasons why war is still going on:
How have the Taliban managed to stay so strong?
The group could be making as much as $1.5bn (£1.2bn) a year, a huge increase even within the past decade. Some of this is through drugs - Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer, and most opium poppies - used for heroin - are grown in Taliban-held areas.
But the Taliban also make money by taxing people who travel through their territory, and through businesses like telecommunications, electricity and minerals.
Foreign countries, including Pakistan and Iran, have denied funding them, but private citizens from the region are thought to have done so.
The figures for Afghan civilians are more difficult to quantify. A UN report in February 2019 said more than 32,000 civilians had died. The Watson Institute at Brown University says 42,000 opposition fighters have died. The same institute says conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan have cost the US $5.9 trillion since 2001. The US is still conducting air strikes against the Taliban, instigated by the third president to oversee the war, Donald Trump. But he is keen to reduce troop numbers before he faces another election in November 2020. The Taliban now control much more territory than they did when international troops left Afghanistan in 2014. Many in Washington and elsewhere fear that a full US troop pull-out would leave a vacuum that could be filled by militant groups seeking to plot attacks in the West. The Afghan people, meanwhile, continue to bear the brunt of the long and bloody conflict.
What do the Taliban and the United States want?
The negotiations appear to be focused on four elements:
Reasons for India to be part of reconciliation process with the Taliban:
US- Taliban Deal
Recently, the U.S. signed a deal (at Qatar's capital-Doha) with the Taliban that could pave the way towards a full withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Afghanistan over the next 14 months and represent a step towards ending the 18-year-war in Afghanistan. Along with this, a separate joint declaration was also signed between the Afghan government and the US at Kabul.
The peace deal is expected to kick-off two processes- a phased withdrawal of US troops and an ‘intra-Afghan’ dialogue. The deal is a fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan peace process and the Central region.
Background of the Deal
Salient Features of the Deal
Challenges in the Deal
Impact of the Deal on Other Stakeholders
Impact of this Deal on India
This deal alters the balance of power in favour of the Taliban, which will have strategic, security and political implications for India. The deal may jeopardise the key stakes of India in Afghanistan:
An independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan is crucial for peace and stability in the region. In order to ensure this:
Though the deal is a good step, the road ahead would not be easy. Achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan will require patience and compromise among all parties.
Recent News: Afghanistan’s two rival leaders have sworn themselves in as President at simultaneous ceremonies that were interrupted by at least two blasts.
Ashraf Ghani was declared the winner of a disputed presidential election in Afghanistan by the country’s independent Election Commission.
Source: TH/ BBC
India's role in Afghanistan
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR
Responding to President Donald Trump, the Indian government has stressed on the fact that developmental assistance can play a major role in transforming Afghanistan. US mocked at India for funding a "library" in Afghanistan, saying it is of no use in the war-torn country as he criticised India and others for not doing enough for the nation's security. US also asked India, Russia, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to take responsibility for Afghanistan's security as he defended his push for the US to invest less overseas.
India most of the investments in Afghanistan were on mega infrastructure projects including the 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram, the Salma Dam and the new Afghan Parliament building. India has also been supplying military equipment to Afghanistan besides providing training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.
India and Afghanistan (PT and Mains)
Heart of Asia Conference
The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA) was founded on November 2nd, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey to address the shared challenges and interests of Afghanistan and its neighbours and regional partners. It will also contribute to the stability and prosperity to Afghanistan’s extended neighbourhood in South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates. Three pillars of this conference process are: • Political Consultations: Political consultation involving Afghanistan and its near and extended neighbours • Confidence Building Measures (CBMs): Areas for CBMs identified in the Istanbul Process document are Disaster management, Counter-terrorism, Counter-narcotics, Trade, Commerce and Investment, Regional infrastructure, and Education. • Cooperation with Regional Organizations Key Highlights of the Sixth Conference a) Menace of terrorism dominated the Amritsar meet o Amritsar Declaration named the terrorist organisations that are jeopardising the security situation in Afghanistan: – This was a big blow to Pakistan as almost all the terrorist organisations which are named in the declaration are based in Pakistan. – The declaration mentions two groups targeting India, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, in addition to the Haqqani network, among the organisations causing a “high level of violence” in Afghanistan and the region. b) A regional approach to eliminate terrorism is suggested: o It included dismantling of terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens in the Heart of Asia region, as well as disrupting all financial, tactical and logistical support for terrorism. o It also includes tapping the capacities of political and religious leaders, civil society, mass media and social networks in the fight against terror. c) The declaration asks for early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism with consensus. d) For the first time, a Heart of Asia declaration has expressed concern at the violence caused in Afghanistan and the region by groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad etc. e) The declaration has spoken of the dangers emanating from the increase in production and cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the volume of drug trafficking and demand in the HoA Region and beyond. f) Afghanistan rejected Pakistan’s offer of $500 million for reconstruction of Afghanistan, and advised it to use the money to counter terrorist activities emanating from Pakistan.
Afghan Peace Process
There are a number of indigenous players with regard to Afghan peace process
India’s Engagement with the Peace Process
Source: RS tv
COMPREHENSIVE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR
The date 26/11 has gone down in the history as a day that saw the most heinous attack carried on the Indian soil. The attack claimed 164 lives; leftover 300 injured and sent shock waves around the world. Terrorism has reared its ugly head every now and then and has devastated the world like nothing else. It is an issue which has affected millions of lives from Asia to the Americas but till date, there is no consensus on an international convention on terrorism. Several efforts have been made to address the problem but negotiations have not borne out results to address the issue.
What is it?
The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a proposed treaty which intends to criminalize all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens. It is a draft proposed by India in 1996 that is yet to be adopted by the UNGA.
What does it call for?
Universal definition of terrorism: no good terrorist or bad terrorist.
Ban on all groups regardless of country of operation, cut off access to funds and safe havens.
Prosecution of all groups including cross border groups.
Amending domestic laws to make cross-border terror an extraditable offence.
It also addresses, among other things, the issue of Pakistan’s alleged support for cross-border terrorism in south Asia.
Concerns expressed by various countries:
US + allies: concerns over definition of terrorism, including acts by US soldiers in international interventions without UN mandate.
Latin American countries: concerns over international humanitarian laws being ignored.
There are also concerns that convention will be used to target Pakistan and restrict rights of self-determination groups in Palestine, Kashmir etc.
Why the Lack of Consensus?
Origin and Status of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)New Delhi has pushed for an intergovernmental convention to enhance prosecution and extradition of terrorists since 1996. In 2018, even after two decades, there is still a lack of consensus. Although consensus eludes towards the adoption of the terrorism convention, discussions have yielded three separate protocols that aim to tackle terrorism:
Geopolitics and the Act of terror
Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)
The global impact of terrorism:
Measures to Tackle Terrorism
GS-III : Science and Technology
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T
Recently, Google’s quantum computer, named Sycamore, claimed “quantum supremacy”, as it reportedly did the task in 200 seconds that would have apparently taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.
What is “quantum supremacy”?
Quantum Computing vs Traditional Computing
What is quantum computing?
Let’s start with the basics.
An ordinary computer chip uses bits. These are like tiny switches, that can either be in the off position – represented by a zero – or in the on position – represented by a one. Every app you use, website you visit and photograph you take is ultimately made up of millions of these bits in some combination of ones and zeroes.
This works great for most things, but it doesn’t reflect the way the universe actually works. In nature, things aren’t just on or off. They’re uncertain. And even our best supercomputers aren’t very good at dealing with uncertainty. That’s a problem.
That's because, over the last century, physicists have discovered when you go down to a really small scale, weird things start to happen. They’ve developed a whole new field of science to try and explain them. It’s called quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics is the foundation of physics, which underlies chemistry, which is the foundation of biology. So for scientists to accurately simulate any of those things, they need a better way of making calculations that can handle uncertainty. Enter, quantum computers.
How do quantum computers work?
Instead of bits, quantum computers use qubits. Rather than just being on or off, qubits can also be in what’s called ‘superposition’ – where they’re both on and off at the same time, or somewhere on a spectrum between the two.
Take a coin. If you flip it, it can either be heads or tails. But if you spin it – it’s got a chance of landing on heads, and a chance of landing on tails. Until you measure it, by stopping the coin, it can be either. Superposition is like a spinning coin, and it’s one of the things that makes quantum computers so powerful. A qubit allows for uncertainty.
If you ask a normal computer to figure its way out of a maze, it will try every single branch in turn, ruling them all out individually until it finds the right one. A quantum computer can go down every path of the maze at once. It can hold uncertainty in its head.
It’s a bit like keeping a finger in the pages of a choose your own adventure book. If your character dies, you can immediately choose a different path, instead of having to return to the start of the book.
The other thing that qubits can do is called entanglement. Normally, if you flip two coins, the result of one coin toss has no bearing on the result of the other one. They’re independent. In entanglement, two particles are linked together, even if they’re physically separate. If one comes up heads, the other one will also be heads.
It sounds like magic, and physicists still don’t fully understand how or why it works. But in the realm of quantum computing, it means that you can move information around, even if it contains uncertainty. You can take that spinning coin and use it to perform complex calculations. And if you can string together multiple qubits, you can tackle problems that would take our best computers millions of years to solve.
What can quantum computers do?
Quantum computers aren’t just about doing things faster or more efficiently. They’ll let us do things that we couldn’t even have dreamed of without them. Things that even the best supercomputer just isn’t capable of.
They have the potential to rapidly accelerate the development of artificial intelligence. Google is already using them to improve the software of self-driving cars. They’ll also be vital for modelling chemical reactions.
Right now, supercomputers can only analyse the most basic molecules. But quantum computers operate using the same quantum properties as the molecules they’re trying to simulate. They should have no problem handling even the most complicated reactions.
That could mean more efficient products – from new materials for batteries in electric cars, through to better and cheaper drugs, or vastly improved solar panels. Scientists hope that quantum simulations could even help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Quantum computers will find a use anywhere where there’s a large, uncertain complicated system that needs to be simulated. That could be anything from predicting the financial markets, to improving weather forecasts, to modelling the behaviour of individual electrons: using quantum computing to understand quantum physics.
Cryptography will be another key application. Right now, a lot of encryption systems rely on the difficulty of breaking down large numbers into prime numbers. This is called factoring, and for classical computers, it’s slow, expensive and impractical. But quantum computers can do it easily. And that could put our data at risk.
There are rumours that intelligence agencies across the world are already stockpiling vast amounts of encrypted data in the hope that they’ll soon have access to a quantum computer that can crack it.
The only way to fight back is with quantum encryption. This relies on the uncertainty principle – the idea that you can’t measure something without influencing the result. Quantum encryption keys could not be copied or hacked. They would be completely unbreakable.
How will it help us?
Challenges Associated with Quantum Computing