12th October 2018, Current Affairs and News Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Examination, SSC CGL and State Civil Service Examinations.

12th October 2018 - Current Affairs for UPSC IAS and State Civil Service Exam

National

PM visits Haryana, unveils statue of Sir Chhotu Ram, lays Foundation Stone of Rail Coach Refurbishing Karkhana

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, visited Sampla, Rohtak in Haryana today. He unveiled a statue of Deenbandhu Sir Chhotu Ram. At a public meeting, the Prime Minister unveiled a plaque to mark the laying of Foundation Stone of the Rail Coach Refurbishing Karkhana, Sonepat. Once complete, this will be a major repair and maintenance facility for rail coaches in the northern region. It is being set up using modular and prefabricated construction techniques, modern machinery, and environment-friendly features

International

Teaming up with Tokyo: India-Japan Relationship

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo later this month will be keenly watched by India’s strategic community. Since he assumed office in 2014, Mr. Modi has made India-Japan relations a key priority area of his foreign policy

Fortunately for India, Mr. Modi’s Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe is a keen advocate of closer bilateral relations. Mr. Abe views India as the pivotal state in the Indian Ocean.

The Abe administration is focusing attention on two critical areas -

  1. maritime security
  2. strategic connectivity

Closer maritime ties

In a bid to raise its Indian Ocean profile, Japan recently deployed its state-of-the-art helicopter carrier-destroyer, Kaga, to South Asia. After a brief stopover at Colombo, the ship is in Visakhapatnam for the Japan-India Maritime Exercises.

Role of Japan in Growing Asia

  • During the 2017 exercise, the Japanese Navy deployed a maritime surveillance aircraft and a submarine, demonstrating a readiness for a strategic role in Asia’s sensitive littorals.
  • In a bid to raise its Indian Ocean profile, Japan recently deployed its state-of-the-art helicopter carrier-destroyer, Kaga, to South Asia.

India-Japan on balancing Chinese power

  • Tokyo is keen that its military exchanges with India also include Army and Air Force exchanges.
  • An Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement — on the lines of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S. — is in the offing, and there is also talk of joint collaboration in unmanned armoured vehicles and robotic systems.
  • Japan also wants to assist India in improving the state of maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, where India is keen to set up an ‘information fusion centre’.
  • Tokyo and New Delhi have been working together on infrastructure projects in the Northeast.
  • They are also building the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, whose four pillars — developmental projects, quality infrastructure, capacity building, and people-to-people partnership — make it an effective counterpoint to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

India and Russia: Salvaging a strategic partnership

At their meeting in Goa at the India-Russia annual summit, in October 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted a Russian proverb to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “An old friend is better than two new ones.” It was a reassurance that India’s growing proximity to the U.S. would not affect India-Russia relations. As Mr. Putin came calling two years on, the shadow of America again loomed over the summit, in New Delhi. This time, it was closer, larger and more menacing.

Assertion of autonomy

  • The question that dominated the meet was whether or not the deal for the Russian air defence missile system, the S-400, would go through.
  • The U.S. has been publicly warning for months that this purchase could attract provisions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
  • CAATSA authorises the U.S. government to impose sanctions on entities for “significant” defence transactions with Russia.
  • The state-of-the-art S-400 deal, at a little over $5 billion, would naturally qualify as “significant”.
  • The sanctioned entity would be cut off from all business in the U.S. and with U.S. companies.
  • India’s decision to go ahead with the S-400 deal was a clear assertion of autonomy of Indian decision-making on Russia.

Outlook on neighbourhood

  • There is a general perception that Indian and Russian perspectives today differ on key issues in India’s neighbourhood — Pakistan, Afghanistan and China — and on India’s strategic linkages with the U.S., including on the Indo-Pacific.
  • India asserted that there were detailed discussions on “all international issues of mutual interest”, specifically citing “common interests” on terrorism, Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.
  • On Pakistan, one might note the nuance that the Joint Statement mentions cross-border terrorism, which some earlier Joint Statements did not.
  • On Afghanistan, India expressed support for the “Moscow format”, in which Russia involves regional countries and major powers in an effort to draw the Taliban into negotiations with the Afghan leadership.
  • The U.S. has boycotted this initiative, but has initiated its own dialogue with the Taliban.
  • A U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan is now touring Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to generate help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Governance/Polity

Misuse of Section 124 -Should be amended ?

A Tamil magazine editor was recently arrested under Section 124 of the IPC.

About Section 124

  1. The section 124A of Indian Penal Code is a pre-independence provision which covers sedition charges against government.
  2. Section 124A of the IPC defines sedition and says:
    • whoever by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, the government established by law; or
    • Whoever by the above means excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law, has committed the offence of sedition.

controversy

  • The arrest was based on a published report about Governor and his Secretary holding several meetings with an arrested assistant professor few months ago.
  • The magazine based its report on this issue, not on a sting operation, but on police evidence.
  • However, the Tamil Nadu Governor’s office had complained to the police, seeking to book the editor under Section 124 of IPC.
  • They cited that the offending articles express an “intention of inducing or compelling the Governor to refrain from exercising his lawful powers”.
  • Section 124 applies to assaulting high constitutional functionaries such as the President and the Governor with “an intent to compel or restrain the use of any lawful power”.
  • It was intended to cover cases where these functionaries are prevented from exercising their power through criminal force, attempts to overawe, or wrongful restraint.
  • The offence shall be punished with 7 years imprisonment and shall also be liable to fine.
  • It is a Non-Bailable, Cognizable offence and not compoundable.

What was the wrongdoing?

  • The Governor had also invoked Section 124 previously when a state party staged black flag demonstrations at sites where he held meetings with district-level officials.
  • It is unlikely that a black flag demonstration can attempt to “overawe” the Governor in a manner that restrains his office from exercising power.
  • Overawe would suggest the commission of an offence that poses a real danger to the exercise of authority.
  • Hence, to extend the meaning of “overawe” to a mere protest or a work of journalism amounts to misuse of the intended provisions.
  • In the recent case, the Metropolitan Magistrate in Chennai realising the absurdity of the prosecution’s case, declined to jail the accused editor.

precedences in this regard

  • A well-defined law has been laid down by the Supreme Court’s 1994 judgement in R Rajagopal vs State of Tamil Nadu, popularly known as the Auto Shankar case.
  • According to that, public figures have to satisfy a very high threshold to claim privacy and the right to reputation for demanding prior restraint of a publication.
  • Therefore, it would be very difficult for the governor in this case to demand prior restraint of the news article.
  • Also, prior restraint has a chilling effect on press freedom, violating Articles 19(1) & 361A.
  • In contrast, in the Subramanian Swamy case, the apex court stated that a person’s right to reputation takes precedence over the media’s right to report.
  • Countries like US have recognised that the complainant of prior restraint must prove the presence of actual malice in order to proceed with a defamation suit against a media house.
  • But Indian courts are yet to adopt this standard.

What should be done ?

  • In a period of five years between 2011 and 2016, over 200 criminal defamation suits against a vast swathe of journalists and media houses for their criticism of governmental actions and policies.
  • The governor could have used other forms of legal redress available to him rather than going for this provision.
  • By citing them to seek registration of a Section 124 case against the magazine’s Editor, journalists and employees, the Governor’s office has only turned the spotlight on itself unnecessarily.
  • Hence, the governor could do himself a favour by withdrawing the complaint, since it is unlikely the TN police will take such a decision on its own.

Geography

Titli turns into severe cyclonic storm

  • The very severe cyclonic storm ‘Titli’ over the westcentral Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards with a speed of about 18 kmph and lay centred about 230 km southsoutheast of Gopalpur (Odisha) and 190 km southeast of Kalingapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) on Wednesday night.
  • It is very likely to intensify and move north northwestwards and make landfall between Gopalpur (Odisha) and Kalingapatnam on Thursday morning, with wind speed touching 145 kmph. Thereafter, it is very likely to re-curve northeastwards, move towards the Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha and weaken gradually.

How a cyclone gets its name?

  • Tropical cyclones passing over the northern part of the Indian Ocean are named by eight countries in the region, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman and Thailand.
  • The process only began in 2004, four years after World Meteorological Organization agreed in principle to allow them to name cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The alphabet system is used to designate the name of a cyclone, which means the name of the year’s first cyclone begins with A.
  • Previously, till 1979, cyclones were only given female names. Male names were only introduced in the same year. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) maintains the database of cyclone/hurricane/typhoon names.
  • There are six lists of names used in rotation and they are recycled every six years. The names are picked from this pre-designated list and are usually familiar with the people living in the region. India has so far contributed the following names: Agni, Bijli, Akash, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar and Vayu.