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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th October 2019
Published on Oct. 7, 2019, 9:49 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th October 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III –Environment Conservation

In News

  • Vishnu Nandan, a 32-year-old polar researcher from Kerala, will be the only Indian among 300 scientists from across the world aboard the MOSAiC expedition
  • The aim of the expedition will be to parameterise the atmospheric, geophysical, oceanographic and all other possible variables in the Arctic, and use it to more accurately forecast the changes in our weather systems.
  • MOSAiC, the largest ever Arctic expedition in history, will be the first to conduct a study of the North Pole for an entire year. Previous studies have been of shorter periods as the thicker sea ice sheets prevent access in winter.
  • Under it, the German research vessel Polarstern has locked itself into a large sea ice sheet, before the winter, and will drift along with it
  • Spearheaded by the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, scientists from 17 nations will take part in the year-long mission.

NATIONAL e-ASSESSMENT CENTRE (NeAC)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economy

In News

  • Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurated National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC) in New Delhi.
  • With this, Income Tax Department is introducing faceless e-assessment to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the assessment process. There would be no physical interface between taxpayers and tax officers.
  • Under the new system, taxpayers have received notices on their registered emails as well as on registered accounts on the web portal, with real-time by way of SMS on their registered mobile number,specifying the issues for which their cases have been selected for scrutiny.
  • Replies to the notices can be prepared at ease by taxpayers at their own residence or office and sent by email to the National e-Assessment Centre by uploading the same on the designated web portal.

Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Security

In News

  • The Navy’s IFC-IOR is a single point centre linking all coastal radar chain networks along the 7500km Indian coastline and in some neighbouring countries
  • The FC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 at Gurugramand has now started functioning as an information sharing hub of maritime data and “cuing incident responses” to maritime security situations through a collaborative approach
  • The IFC tracks and monitors 75,000-1.5 lakh shipping vessels in real timeround the clock
  • The IFC actively interacts with maritime community and has already built linkages with 18 countries and 15 multinational and maritime security centres
  • India has asked neighbours to draw upon it and consider it as their own facilityrather than duplicating it. This statement is important in the context of reports that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are considering setting up similar fusion centres.

(MAINS FOCUS)


CITIZENSHIP

TOPIC: General Studies 2:
  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Citizenship amendment bill 

Context:

  • Mr. Amit Shah recently said ,that the new government would re-introduce, and pass, the citizenship amendment bill in the next parliamentary session, or soon thereafter.

How is citizenship determined?

  • Citizenship signifies the relationship between individual and state. It begins and ends with state and law, and is thus about the state, not people. Citizenship is an idea of exclusion as it excludes non-citizens.
  • There are two well-known principles for grant of citizenship. While jus soli confers citizenship on the basis of place of birth, jus sanguinis gives recognition to blood ties. From the time of the Motilal Nehru Committee (1928), the Indian leadership was in favour of the enlightened concept of jus soli. The racial idea of jus sanguis was rejected by the Constituent Assembly as it was against the Indian ethos.
  • Citizenship is in the Union List under the Constitution and thus under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament. 
  • The Constitution does not define the term ‘citizen’ but gives, in Articles 5 to 11, details of various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship. 
  • Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on January 26, 1950, these articles were enforced on November 26, 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted. However, Article 11 itself confers wide powers on Parliament by laying down that “nothing in the foregoing provisions shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all matters relating to citizenship”. Thus Parliament can go against the citizenship provisions of the Constitution.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 was passed and has been amended four times — in 1986, 2003, 2005, and 2015. The Act empowers the government to determine the citizenship of persons in whose case it is in doubt. 
  • However, over the decades, Parliament has narrowed down the wider and universal principles of citizenship based on the fact of birth. Moreover, the Foreigners Act places a heavy burden on the individual to prove that he is not a foreigner.

So who is, or is not, a citizen of India?

  • Article 5: It provided for citizenship on commencement of the Constitution. All those domiciled and born in India were given citizenship. Even those who were domiciled but not born in India, but either of whose parents was born in India, were considered citizens. Anyone who had been an ordinary resident for more than five years, too, was entitled to apply for citizenship.
  • Article 6: Since Independence was preceded by Partition and migration, Article 6 laid down that anyone who migrated to India before July 19, 1949, would automatically become an Indian citizen if either of his parents or grandparents was born in India. But those who entered India after this date needed to register themselves.
  • Article 7: Even those who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 but subsequently returned on resettlement permits were included within the citizenship net. The law was more sympathetic to those who migrated from Pakistan and called them refugees than to those who, in a state of confusion, were stranded in Pakistan or went there but decided to return soon.
  • Article 8: Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who, or either of whose parents or grandparents, was born in India could register himself or herself as ab Indian citizen with Indian Diplomatic Mission.
  • 1986 amendment: Unlike the constitutional provision and the original Citizenship Act that gave citizenship on the principle of jus soli to everyone born in India, the 1986 amendment to Section 3 was less inclusive as it added the condition that those who were born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987, shall be Indian citizen. Those born after July 1, 1987 and before December 4, 2003, in addition to one’s own birth in India, can get citizenship only if either of his parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.
  • 2003 amendment: The then NDA government made the above condition more stringent, keeping in view infiltration from Bangladesh. Now the law requires that for those born on or after December 4, 2004, in addition to the fact of their own birth, both parents should be Indian citizens or one parent must be Indian citizen and other should not be an illegal migrant. With these restrictive amendments, India has almost moved towards the narrow principle of jus sanguinis or blood relationship. This lays down that an illegal migrant cannot claim citizenship by naturalisation or registration even if he has been a resident of India for seven years.
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: The amendment proposes to permit members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to continue to live in India if they entered India before December 14, 2014. It also reduces the requirement for citizenship from 11 years out of the preceding 14 years, to just 6 years. Two notifications also exempted these migrants from the Passport Act and Foreigner Act. A large number of organisations in Assam protested against this Bill as it may grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants

Logic behind this:

  • Both the text of the Bill and its ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ refers to “minority communities” from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 
  • The logic appears to be that as these three countries are Muslim-majority, they may be subject to persecution on account of their faith, and, therefore, need refuge in a country such as India.

Crux:

Citizenship Amendment Bill does two things:

  • it shields a set of individuals from being declared illegal migrants (and, by extension, shields them from detention or deportation); 
  • It creates a fast-track to citizenship for these individuals. 
  • It does so on an explicitly communal basis: it categorically excludes Muslims from its ambit.

Implication:

If the government goes ahead with its plan of implementing a nation-wide National Register of Citizens, then those who find themselves excluded from it will be divided into two categories: 

  • (predominantly) Muslims, who will now be deemed illegal migrants,
  •  all others, who would have been deemed illegal migrants, but are now immunised by the Citizenship Amendment Bill, if they can show that their country of origin is Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.

Criticism:

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill explicitly, and blatantly, seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law, contrary to our long-standing, secular constitutional ethos.  
  • If the objective is the protection of minorities, then there is no explanation for why Jews and atheists (to take just two examples) have been left out.
  • There are Muslim religious minorities within these countries who are subjected to grave and serious persecution: Ex : Ahmadis in Pakistan.
  • Lately, the Rohingya community in Myanmar, another neighbouring country, has been subjected to prolonged persecution, ethnic cleansing, and potentially genocide. However, the government has been openly hostile towards the Rohingyas and has even argued for their deportation before the Supreme Court.
  • The Bill, will be the first time that religion or ethnicity will be made the basis of citizenship. That would do grave damage to the very idea of India as an inclusive and diverse polity, where religion has no bearing on who can become a full member of society.

Hence it is religious discrimination, plain and simple.

Constitutionality:

  • Article 15 of the Constitution — that bars religious discrimination — applies only to citizens.
  • But ,Article 14 of the same Constitution, which guarantees to all persons equality before the law, and the equal protection of law.
  • Discriminatory treatment and especially, discrimination that is arbitrary, and classifications that are unreasonable violate the essence of the equal treatment clause.

Conclusion:

  • A nationwide NRC will replicate the flaws of the Assam NRC on a much larger scale; and for those who find themselves on its wrong side, the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Bill will protect some — but only some — based on their religion.

Connecting the dots:

  • During the framing of the Indian Constitution, it was agreed that the primary basis for Indian citizenship would be jus soli — or, citizenship by birth (in the territory of India). Over the years this principle has been diluted . Analyse. 

LAW

TOPIC: General Studies 2:
  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Section 124-A (Sedition law)

  • An FIR has been lodged in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur against a group of eminent personalities, including historian Ramchandra Guha, filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen among others, who had written an open letter to PM Narendra Modi against the incidents of lynching in the country.
  • The FIR filed under various sections of IPC related to sedition, breach of peace and hurting religious sentiments

History:

  • Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England, when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy. This sentiment (and law) was borrowed and inserted into the IPC in 1870.
  • The law was first used to prosecute Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1897. That case led to Section 124A of the IPC (which deals with sedition) being amended, to add the words “hatred” and “contempt” to “disaffection”, which was defined to include disloyalty and feelings of enmity.
  • In 1908, upon conviction for sedition in another case, and imprisonment, Tilak reportedly said, “The government has converted the entire nation into a prison and we are all prisoners.” Gandhi, too, was later tried for sedition for his articles in Young India, and famously pleaded guilty.
  • The Supreme Court highlighted these debates in 1950 in its decisions in Brij Bhushan v the State of Delhi and Romesh Thappar v. the State of Madras. 
  • These decisions prompted the First Constitution Amendment, where Article 19(2) was rewritten to replace “undermining the security of the State” with “in the interest of public order”.
  • In 1962, the Supreme Court decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar. It upheld the constitutionality of sedition, but limited its application to “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence”
  • In 1995, the Supreme Court, in Balwant Singh v State of Punjab, acquitted persons from charges of sedition for shouting slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabaad” and “Raj Karega Khalsa” outside a cinema after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Instead of looking at the “tendency” of the words to cause public disorder, the Court held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition

About Section 124-A and Criticism on it

  • Rulers everywhere tend to treat trenchant criticism as attempts to excite disaffection and disloyalty.
  • That is perhaps the only reason that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, enacted under colonial rule, remains on the statute book.
  • The foremost objection to the provision on sedition is that its definition remains too wide. ‘Overbroad’ definitions typically cover both what is innocuous and what is harmful.
  • Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence.
  • In fact, so mindless have some prosecutions been in recent years that the core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court — that the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence — has been forgotten.
  • However, as long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief. 

Misuse of Section 124-A

  • There have been repeated instances of its misuse. Regimes at the Centre and the States have often been shown in poor light after they invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists.
  • Since Independence, many have seen the irony of retaining a provision that was used extensively to suppress the freedom struggle. 
  • Despite all this, Section 124-A has tenaciously survived all attempts by successive generations to reconsider it, if not repeal it altogether.
  • In particular, it has raised the pertinent question: how far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle, when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?

Law Commissions’ observations

  • The Law Commission, for the third time in five decades, is now in the process of revisiting the section.
  • Its consultation paper calls for a thorough reconsideration and presents the various issues related to it before the public for a national debate.
  • In an earlier report in 1968, the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section.
  • In 1971, the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which ‘disaffection’ should not be tolerated.
  • The only dilution it mooted was to modify the wide gap between the two jail terms prescribed in the section (either three years or life) and fix the maximum sanction at seven years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine.

Way forward:

  • The law and its application clearly distinguishes between strong criticism of the government and incitement of violence. 
  • Even if the letter is considered hateful, or contemptuous and disdainful of the government, if it did not incite violence, it is not seditious 

Conclusion:

  • The broad scope of Section 124A means that the state can use it to chase those who challenge its power, and the mere pressing of sedition charges ends up acting as a deterrent against any voice of dissent or criticism.

Connecting the dots:

  • The threat of sedition leads to a sort of unauthorised self-censorship. Analyse
  • We must protect our right to dissent as fiercely as we protect our right to live. If we fail to do so, our existence as a proudly democratic nation is at risk. Justify

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition

  1. MOSAiC is the largest ever Arctic expedition in history which will be the first to conduct a study of the North Pole for an entire year.
  2. The MOSAiC mission is being spearheaded by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with scientists from 17 nations (including India) taking part in the year-long mission.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements about NATIONAL e-ASSESSMENT CENTRE (NeAC)

  1. NeAC centre has been set up in Mumbai
  2. With this, Income Tax Department is introducing faceless e-assessment to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability in the assessment process

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR)

  1. It was set up by Ministry of Home Affairs in Gurugram in 2018
  2. It is a single point centre linking all coastal radar chain networks along the 7500km Indian coastline and in some neighbouring countries

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

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