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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

16 Jan, 2021

59 Min Read

UP Anti Conversion Ordinance, 2020

GS-II : Indian Polity State Legislatures

UP Anti-Conversion Ordinance, 2020

  • At least 91 persons have been booked and 54 arrested so far, an overwhelming number of them Muslims, under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
  • The most number of arrests have been made in Etah (14) followed by Sitapur (13), Mau (8), Gautam Buddha Nagar (4), Azamgarh (3) and Firozabad (3).
  • The FIRs were spread across 14 districts of six administrative zones of the State. The other districts are Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Kannauj, Hardoi, Bijnor and Shahjahanpur.
  • In addition to these cases, an FIR was registered in Shahjahanpur on January 3 against five persons, including two Christians from Tamil Nadu and two local Dalits, on charges of allegedly trying to allure a Bajrang Dal convener into conversion for jobs and free education for children. However, no arrests were made in the case.
  • A petitioner, Saurabh Kumar of Prayagraj, had prayed for the ordinance to be declared ultra vires saying it was “both morally and constitutionally repugnant”.
  • Following this, the Allahabad High Court issued a notice to the government and sought its response.
  • The Allahabad High Court ruling that people marrying under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, can choose not to publicise their union with a notice 30 days in advance may not exactly be a judicial pushback against problematic anti-conversion laws enacted by the several BJP-ruled States.
  • But it serves to get a major irritant out of the way of couples wanting to marry against the wishes of their parents or their immediate community.
  • Many intercaste and inter-faith marriages have faced violent opposition from those acting in the name of community pride or those raising the bogey of ‘love jihad.
  • Hindutva activists have been targeting Muslim men marrying Hindu women, especially if the women have converted to Islam prior to the marriage.
  • The court said that mandatorily publishing a notice of the intended marriage and calling for objections violates the right to privacy.
  • According to the new order, if a couple gives it in writing that they do not want the notice publicised, the Marriage Officer can solemnise the marriage.
  • Under Section 5 of the Act, which enables inter-faith marriages, the couple has to give notice to the Marriage Officer; and under Sections 6 and 7, the officer has to publicise the notice and call for objections.
  • But, in his order, Justice Vivek Chaudhary said the Act’s interpretation has to be such that it upholds fundamental rights, not violate them.
  • Laws should not invade liberty and privacy, he said, “including within its sphere freedom to choose for marriage without interference from state and non-state actors, of the persons concerned”.
  • The HC ruling came on the plea of a Muslim woman who converted to Hinduism for marriage as the couple saw the notice period under the Special Marriage Act as an invasion of their privacy.
  • Justice Chaudhary’s remarks on ‘state and non-state actors’ will undoubtedly be read in the context of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, that particularly targets inter-faith marriages.
  • This new law declares conversion of religion by marriage to be unlawful, mandates a 60-day notice to the District Magistrate and also requires the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to find out the explicit reason for the conversion. Enacted last November, there have been 54 arrests till date by the U.P. police.
  • The HC ruling can now be cited across India to prevent public notices under the Special Marriage Act.
  • Inter-faith couples will hope that when the Supreme Court hears pleas on the U.P. conversion law, it will be guided by progressive verdicts, such as the 2017 Aadhaar ruling, on the right to privacy as a basic right, and the 2018 judgment on Hadiya, upholding the student’s right to choose a partner, a Muslim man in Kerala, as an essential freedom.

For complete Article on UP Anti Conversion Law: click here

Source: TH

Impeachment of USA President Donald Trump twice

GS-II : Indian Polity Comparison of Indian Constitution with others

Impeachment of USA President Donald Trump twice

  • Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump has entered the record books for being the only American President to be impeached twice.
  • The moment of ignominy came after the House of Representatives passed a motion of impeachment against him, this time for “incitement of insurrection,” following the assault on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 by a violent pro-Trump mob.
  • His first impeachment, in September 2019, was for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice” over his dealings with Ukraine and attempts by Congress to investigate the same, yet he survived in office owing to a Senate acquittal.
  • On this occasion, not only did the House vote resoundingly, by a margin of 232-197, to impeach him but it passed with an unprecedented margin of bipartisan support after 10 Republicans crossed the aisle.
  • This might signal a broader mood across Congress, particularly in the Senate, to vote differently to the outcome last time, specifically that there will be sufficient support among Republican ranks for a Senate conviction.
  • Given the tight timeline leading up to the inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, it might be that the Senate does not have the opportunity to conduct a full trial based on the article of impeachment sent to it by the House, before Mr. Trump demits office.
  • Nevertheless, Senate Democrats have vowed to carry out the trial even after the fact, including not only a vote on convicting him for high crimes and misdemeanours but also potentially on barring him from running again.
  • The question looming before Congressional Republicans is this: are they, as a group united in safeguarding mainstream conservative values, convinced that the harm that Mr. Trump has done to the presidency and the fabric of American society warrants banning him from the highest office in the land, or will there be too many holdouts within their ranks to successfully bring closure to this turbulent saga in American politics?
  • The answer also depends on what Senate and House Republicans make of the broader “movement” that he has come to represent — a rowdy, vicious campaign built on white privilege and regularly indulging in racist attacks, yet one that has pulled in elements of economically disenfranchised middle America.
  • Will they believe that they can cut off Mr. Trump from leading this cohort, yet appear responsive to the needs of the 74 million Americans who voted for him?
  • Or will they fear that they have no other leaders of national standing who could bring the kind of support that he did into the Republican tent?
  • The course of action that Senate Republicans choose now will determine which vector the country’s battered politics will travel along — one that strikes a balance between national interest and the traditional formula of economic growth with social pluralism, or one that gives ever greater voice to nativist populism and disregard for the cherished institutions of democracy.

Source: TH

Nepal raises Kalapani boundary issue with India

GS-II : International Relations Border disputes

Nepal raises Kalapani boundary issue with India

  • Nepal has raised the Kalapani boundary dispute with India during the Joint Commission meeting, visiting Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said.
  • The Minister said that the Indo-Nepal boundary dispute existed in “two segments” and Kathmandu wished to find a solution to the matter urgently. Mr Gyawali also took up Nepal’s requirement for vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as Kathmandu has approved the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield vaccine.
  • “We started the demarcation and mapping of the boundary in 1981. At that time, a Joint Technical Committee was founded which had tenure till 2007. It produced 182 strip maps which depict the border... but for various reasons [work on] two segments — Susta and Kalapani — were not completed. If we talk of the overall boundary between Nepal and India, it is a smaller segment. However, it is an unfinished work and that’s why we are talking of the need and urgency of finalising and finishing those segments as well,” said Mr. Gyawali.
  • This is the first time that the Foreign Minister of Nepal has presented the dispute on the boundary front from the Indian capital since the issue erupted in November 2019 prompting Nepal to unveil a new political map that showed the Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura region of Pithoragarh district as part of the country’s sovereign territory.
  • The Hindu had reported earlier citing sources that the Indian side was aware the Nepalese delegation would raise the boundary issue in Friday’s interaction but said that India would not discuss the matter at the Joint Commission level as the boundary dispute has a dedicated Foreign Secretary-level mechanism that is yet to meet.
  • Addressing the bitterness that was witnessed in India-Nepal relations in 2020, Mr. Gyawali said there were “ups and downs” and there were differences on some issues.
  • “But overall partnership and relations moved smoothly and we should take this momentum ahead by drawing lessons from that,” said Mr. Gyawali, highlighting that Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared “very personal” ties.
  • A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal said “boundary and border management” was part of the discussion. In contrast, a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said “border management” was part of the discussion.
  • The statement from Nepal said that both the teams “discussed the review of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950”.
  • It is understood that the review has been recommended by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) constituted by Mr. Modi and Mr. Oli in 2016.
  • The EPG report, which has been completed, is yet to be submitted to the Indian Prime Minister.
  • The Nepalese statement said the issue of “submission” of the report was also raised during the meeting.

For India – Nepal relations: click here

Analysis of India – Nepal relations: click here

India – Nepal ties during COVID-19: click here

Source: TH

Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion Coronavirus plan

GS-II : International Relations U.S.A

Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion Coronavirus plan

  • President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.
  • Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the proposal would meet Mr. Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring.
  • On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilise the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.
  • “We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Mr Biden said in a nationwide address on Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

Economic recovery

  • Mr. Biden proposed $1,400 cheques for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 Bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Mr. Biden has called for.
  • It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.
  • And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children.
  • The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

Source: TH

India – China Trade relations

GS-II : International Relations China

India – China Trade relations

  • India’s trade with China declined last year to the lowest level since 2017, with the trade deficit narrowing to a five-year low as the country imported far fewer goods from its northern neighbour.
  • Bilateral trade slid 5.6% to $87.6 billion, according to new figures from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC).
  • India’s imports from China shrank by 10.8% to $66.7 billion, marking the lowest level of inbound shipments since 2016.
  • India’s exports to China, however, jumped 16%, crossing the $20 billion mark for the first time to a record high of $20.86 billion.
  • The trade deficit, a source of friction in bilateral ties, shrank to $45.8 billion, the lowest level since 2015.
  • While there was no immediate break-up of the data for 2020, India’s biggest import in 2019 was electrical machinery and equipment, worth $20.17 billion.
  • Other major imports in 2019 were organic chemicals ($8.39 billion) and fertilisers ($1.67 billion), while India’s top exports that year were iron ore, organic chemicals, cotton and unfinished diamonds.

Appetite for iron ore

  • The last 12 months saw a surge in demand for iron ore in China, as a slew of new infrastructure projects aimed at reviving growth after the COVID-19 slump lifted consumption of steel.
  • Total iron ore imports in Asia’s largest economy rose 9.5% in 2020.
  • The drop in India’s imports from China largely mirrored a decline in overall inbound shipments last year as domestic demand slumped in the wake of the pandemic.
  • That makes it difficult to determine whether 2020 is an exception or marks a turn away from the recent pattern of India’s trade with China, especially since there is, as yet, no evidence to suggest India has replaced its import dependence on China by either sourcing those goods elsewhere or manufacturing them at home.
  • The dip in exports to India bucked a strong year for Chinese exports, which surged 10.9% in December and grew 4% in 2020, aided by the economic recovery in China while many countries worldwide remained in various stages of lockdown.
  • The full year’s export performance marked a sharp turnaround for the world’s second-largest economy, which saw its GDP contract 6.8% during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter, while foreign trade fell 4.9% year-on-year over the first five months through May.
  • With a stringent lockdown containing the outbreak in China by the summer, the economy rebounded to grow 3.2% in the second quarter and 4.9% in the third, with China’s industries humming back to life even as much of the rest of the world remained in varied states of lockdown.

‘Positive growth’

  • China was “the world’s only major economy to have registered positive growth in foreign trade in goods,” said Li Kuiwen, spokesperson of the GAC, with China’s foreign trade and exports in the first 10 months of the year accounting for a record 12.8% and 14.2% share of the global totals, respectively.
  • That was reflected in the annual export figures, as China posted sharp increases with most of its major trading partners.
  • Exports to the ASEAN bloc, China’s largest trading partner last year with bilateral trade amounting to $684 billion, rose 6.7%, while exports to the EU, China’s second-largest trading partner, also rose 6.7% as total trade reached $649 billion.
  • Despite the trade war with the U.S. and the pandemic, two-way trade was up 8.3% to $586 billion, with China’s exports rising 7.9% to reach a record $451 billion.
  • The trade surplus with the U.S. expanded to $317 billion in 2020, compared with the $288 billion figure at the end of President Donald Trump’s first year in office in 2017, underlining the limited impact of his tariff measures as he ends his presidency.

Source: TH

World’s largest vaccination programme

GS-III : S&T COVID-19

World’s largest vaccination programme

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the first phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.
  • The world’s largest vaccination programme will begin at a total of 3,006 session sites across all the States and the Union Territories, which will be connected virtually throughout the exercise. Nearly 100 beneficiaries will receive the vaccine at each of the session sites on Saturday.

  • A dedicated 24x7 call centre — 1075 — has been set up to address queries related to the pandemic and the vaccine roll-out, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said adequate doses of both the vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — had been delivered across the country. He reviewed the functioning of the CoWIN system, the online digital platform that will be used to drive the vaccination programme.
  • The vaccination drive, where the beneficiaries currently will not have a choice between the two vaccines, has been planned in a phased manner after identifying the priority groups, the Ministry said.
  • Healthcare workers, both in the government and private sectors, including Integrated Child Development Services workers, will receive the vaccine in the first phase.

Source: TH

Air India flight between Hyderabad and Chicago

GS-III : Economic Issues Airports

Air India flight between Hyderabad and Chicago

  • The first-ever non-stop service of Air India between Hyderabad and Chicago commenced with the maiden flight arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here early on Friday. The flight, operating on Wednesdays, left Chicago at 21.30 hours (local time) on January 13 and arrived at 1 a.m.
  • The return flight AI-107 from Hyderabad to Chicago, which operates once a week every Friday, left Hyderabad at 12.50 p.m. to arrive in Chicago at 18.05 hours (local time) the same day with 226 passengers and 16 aircraft crew. amidst fanfare at the airport.
  • The AI flight is a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft with a seating capacity of 238, including eight first class, 35 business class, 195 economy class seats, besides four cockpit and 12 cabin crew.
  • The total flight time from Hyderabad to Chicago will be approximately 16 hours 45 minutes, while the duration from Chicago to Hyderabad will be 15 hours 40 minutes.
  • The city is a gateway to south and central India, and will connect Air India’s direct flight from Chicago to Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Bengaluru and Chennai, said an official spokesperson. GMR Hyderabad International Airport, AI officials and others were present at the terminal to see off passengers.

Source: TH

SWITCH UAV

GS-III : Economic Issues Defense industry

SWITCH UAV

  • The Indian Army has signed a $20-million contract with ideaForge, a player in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, to procure undisclosed quantities of a high-altitude variant of SWITCH UAV, an indigenous system used in surveillance operations.
  • SWITCH UAV is an indigenous system built to cater to the most demanding surveillance operations of the Indian forces.
  • This fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing UAV can be deployed at high altitudes and under harsh environments for day and night surveillance, ideaForge said in a statement.
  • “UAV player ideaForge has been awarded this one-year contract after it qualified the operational requirements in an evaluation done in real-world conditions. The contract marks a strategic shift in the Indian defence procurement process,” the company added.

Source: TH

Flight Lieutanant Bhawana Kanth

GS-I : Art and Culture Persons in News

Flight Lieutanant Bhawana Kanth

  • Bhawana Kanth is to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade.
  • She was one of the first women fighter Pilots inducted into the Indian Air Force in 2016.
  • The other fighter pilots inducted into the Indian Air Force were Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh.

Bhawana Kanth

  • In 2019, Bhawana Kanth became the first female fighter pilot of India to qualify to undertake combat missions.
  • She received the Nari Shakti Puraskar from President of India Ramnath Kovind in March 2020.

Source: TH

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