Daily Current affairs 18/Feb/2019UPSC - Daily Current Affair
Experts involved in the recent terrorist attack on CRPF:
- The nation mourns the tragic loss of 40 gallant CRPF jawans, killed in a suicide bombing attack.
- The pictures of the mangled CRPF vehicle speak of the technical expertise that went into the preparation of a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) as well as the detailed planning undertaken for this deadly ambush of the police convoy.
- This is certainly not the work of amateurs, but those of bomb-rigging experts from Pakistan.
The method of attack could mark new phase in Kashmir operations:
- This is one of the first instances of a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) being used in J&K.
- The success of this tactic could mark a new phase in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations.
This calls for a review of operations in Kashmir:
- With the use of VBIEDs expected to rise now, for preventing a recurrence of such tragedies, it is vital that an urgent review be undertaken of:
- The quality and timeliness of intelligence inputs
- The standard operating procedures (SOP) being followed by the armed police force convoys (especially if different from the army’s)
Understanding Pakistan's Army and ISI's role:
- This is a time for reflection and introspection about our management of crisis situations in general, and of Pakistan’s role in Kashmir, in particular.
- The firm focus needs to be retained on the centrality of the unholy nexus of Pakistan's army’s General Headquarters and the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Directorate.
- They have an existential stake (Pak's army and ISI keep their prominence by keeping the issue of Kashmir burning) in keeping Kashmir ablaze through the steady, clandestine and deniable infusion of violence and terrorism.
- The Pulwama attack on Indian security forces marks just another step in the continuum of ISI’s ongoing “grab-Kashmir” campaign.
Pakistan bleeding India (which keeps showing restraint):
- It has been Pakistan’s three-decade-long strategy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts” — that is, using terrorists and religious fanatics for attacking India.
- Pakistan's belligerence is premised on India’s “strategic restraint” (not going to war despite many attacks), and then on its own nuclear capability (India fearing Pakistan's use of nuclear weapons).
Lessons not learnt:
- Even after 2001 attack on Parliament and 2008 attacks in Mumbai, right lessons were not learnt from them.
- As the Pakistani fidayeen attacks on the Pathankot air base, followed by the Uri and Nagrota army camps — and now, VBIED attack on Pulwama — showed, little had changed.
- Whether it is kidnappings, hijackings, terrorist strikes or other assaults on India’s sovereignty, we have been found wanting in an early and coherent response.
India needs a clear strategy on Pakistan:
- There are allegations of lack of clear thinking and resolve, and absence of a coherent long-term vision, which is emboldening our adversaries.
- Crisis after crisis has caught our nation by surprise — unprepared and invariably in the reactive mode.
- The Indian state has failed to evolve a strategy for resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio.
- They have allowed, instead, this issue to become a pressure-point for exploitation by our western and eastern neighbours, separately and in collusion.
Also need to name the problems correctly:
- War not "cross-border terrorism":
- Acts by the terrorists are committed through training and arming fighters on Pakistan's territory, and then, launching them, under its army’s covering fire, to wreak death and destruction on Indian soil.
- Amongst India’s major missteps has been the coining of the term “cross-border terrorism” to describe, what were clearly, “acts of war” by Pakistan.
- Not "non-state actors":
- Another problem is the description of Pakistani perpetrators as “non-state actors” - this provides Pakistan the opening to declare that they were Kashmiri “freedom fighters”.
- Coining terms like "non-state actors" and “cross-border terrorism” is seen as excuse India gives for exercising “strategic restraint” (that is, for not going to war).
Surgical strikes did not evolve into a strong deterrent policy:
- The September 2016 cross-border commando raids into Pakistan marked a welcome change that could have conveyed strong signals of national resolve and retribution.
- However, the absence of a policy underpinning that action diluted their deterrent value.
Focus needed on national security:
- National security has suffered neglect for decades due to the intense and sustained pre-occupation of our politicians with electoral politics.
- This neglect is evident in the big gap between political pronouncements and the voids in our military capabilities (material as well as organisational).
- It demands first priority on the government’s and Parliament’s time.
Need a national security doctrine:
- India created an elaborate national security framework post Pokhran II (1998), but has strangely shied away from promulgating a doctrine.
- Even today, India remains deficient in intelligence-analysis, inter-agency coordination, and, most importantly, a national security doctrine.
- Apart from diplomatic and economic steps that are being initiated, the current juncture would be apt for the urgent promulgation of a security-cum-defence doctrine.
Will form the basis for instant retaliation:
- Such a national security doctrine defining India’s vital interests, aims and objectives will become the basis for strategy-formulation, contingency-planning and evolution of SOPs. It will also send a reassuring message to our public.
- This will set in place clear “red lines” (actions which will get immediate retaliation) for adversary nations and non-state entities.
- It will mean that, in future, no further notice is required for instant punitive or retaliatory actions for any infringement of India’s red lines.
GS Paper III: Security Issues
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Section : Editorial Analysis
- The World Bank has approved Rs. 11000 Crore in order to bring more states under the ambit of DRIP (Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Programme) in phase 2 and 3 of the project, starting 2020.
- The decision to fund DRIP Phases 2 and 3 was announced at the 5th International Dam Safety Conference in Bhubaneswar.
Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)
- In 2012, the government of India has taken up the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) with the financial assistance of the World Bank for the repair and rehabilitation of dam projects across India.
- Phase-I: Originally meant for six years, the phase-I of the project was extended to 2020.
Key takeaways of 5th International Conference on Dam Safety
1. DRIP: Phase 2 and 3
- Deriving inspiration from the success of Phase-1 of DRIP, the government has approved Phases 2 and 3 of the project.
- While Phase 1 of DRIP covered 4% of the dams across 7 states, Phase 2 and 3 will cover at least 13% of the dams across 18 states in India.
- Phase 2 and 3 will be implemented over a period of 10 years starting from 2020, with the two phases lasting 6 years each and 2 overlapping years.
- DRIP 2 and 3 will cover 733 large dams in the country with major ones including Bhakra dam (Himachal Pradesh), Srisailam (Telangana) etc.
2. Capacity Building - The conference also discussed ways to:
- Strengthen institutions dealing with dam safety in India
- Encourage more technical institutes to offer post graduate programmes in dam safety.
- To augment capacity of 9 premier research institutes and 2 central institutes under DRIP.
3. Modern Dam Safety Management
- This includes stepping up monitoring efforts by laying more optical fibre.
Dam Safety in India
- Currently, India has 5264 large dams in operation and about 437 are under construction.
- India has witnessed 36 dam failures so far, with the worst dam disaster being failure of Machu dam in Gujarat in 1979.
- Besides, 30 out of 36 dam failures are associated with earth dams which constitute about 85% of dams in India.
- About 16 out of 36 dam failures have occurred in the first 5 years of construction hinting inadequate design or poor quality of construction.
- Further, about 80% of 5264 operational large dams in India are over 25 years old and 213 of these are over 100 years old.
- With more number of dams becoming older, the likelihood of dam failures in India is expected to be high.
- Inadequate support from states
- Failure of states to provide sufficient budgets for maintenance and repair of the dam.
- Lack of institutional and technical capacities at the state level for addressing dam safety issues.
- As a result, Indian government has taken a number of steps towards dam safety including Dam Rehabilitation Improvement Project launched in 2012.
Dam Rehabilitation Improvement Project (DRIP)
- Phase 1 of DRIP was conceived as a 6-year project in 2012, with World Bank assistance.
- It is primarily aimed at comprehensive rehabilitation and improvement of 198 large dams in India.
- 80% of the total project is provided by the World Bank as loan/credit and remaining 20% is borne by the States / Central Government.
- The Phase 1 of DRIP covered about 4% of the large dams in 7 states with an estimated cost of Rs. 2100 crore.
- Recently in September 2018, the government approved an additional 1300 crores and extended the project by two years till 2020.
- Now, Phase 2 and 3 are being approved with assistance from World Bank.
Components of DRIP
- Led by the Dam Safety Rehabilitation Directorate of the Central Water Commission.
Rehabilitation and Improvement of dams
- Focuses on structural and non-structural measures at 198 projects across 7 states.
- The activities include hydrological assessments, preparation of asset management plans and emergency preparedness plans, development of emergency warning system, public awareness campaigns, and flood plain mapping.
- Regulatory and technical frameworks for dam safety assurance and including targeted training.
Monitoring through DHARMA
- Monitoring the health of all large dams in India is done through DHARMA, web-based asset management softwarefor collection and management of asset data.
- DHARMA stands for Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application.
- The Central Dam Safety Organization of Central Water Commission (CWC) is the coordinating and supervising authority for the project implementation.
- At states level, the implementation agencies for DRIP are Water Resources Departments and State Electricity Boards.
- The state implementation agencies also act as Dam Safety Review Panel at state level for dam safety inspection of their respective dams.
Other Steps towards Dam Safety
Dam Safety Bill, 2018
- In July 2018, the Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Dam Safety Bill, 2018.
- The draft Bill aims to provide proper surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
- National Committee on Dam Safety for coordination.
- State Committee on Dam Safety to ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation, maintenance, and safe functioning of all specified dams in a state.
- National Dam Safety Authority with following functions:
- Act as a regulatory body to implement policies, guidelines, and standards for dam safety in the country.
- Maintain a national level database of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures.
- Look into unresolved issues between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states.
- State Dam Safety Organisation in every state to look into the safety aspects of the state specific dams.
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Section : Environment & Ecology
- In view of the Pulwama terror attack, India is weighing its options for retaliation against Pakistan which sponsored the attack.
Options that India have:
- Economic moves:
- India has removed Pakistan from the Most Favoured Nations status and imposed 200 % customs duty on all goods imported from Pakistan.
- However, revoking the MFN status has symbolic value only. It will hardly hurt the Pakistan state as the country’s exports to India are 2% of its global exports
- Military retaliation:
- In past, coercive mechanisms have been used to induce behaviour change in Pakistan. But the changes, if at all, have been temporary.
- Though the “surgical strike” after the Uri attack proved effective in the short-term, it alone was not expected to significantly impact the large scale terror infrastructure inside Pakistan.
- A limited military strike against Pakistan is likely in the current situation with options ranging from airstrikes to ground attacks on Pakistani troops in Kashmir.
- Getting Pakistan on FATF blacklist:
- India will lobby to put Pakistan on FATF (Financial Action Task Force) "blacklist" for terror financing & money laundering at the Paris plenary meet. Pakistan was earlier placed on the FATF grey list in June 2018.
- This will be an effective move if India can convince FATF as it will starve Pakistan of global finance from IMF, World Bank and ADB, further damaging its weak economy.
- Diplomatic Isolation:
- Downgrading diplomatic relations with Pakistan, withdrawing India's High Commissioner and putting pressure via other countries can be done to islolate Pakistan.
- Abrogating the Indus Waters Treaty:
- India can suspect permanent Indus Commission, which in these circumstances will be legal as Pakistan has behaved like a rogue state. Some analysts say this move in the long run can be bad for India’s interests as it could set a wrong precedent and used against India internationally (especially by China).
- Calling off the Kartarpur Corridor talks:
- In November 2018, approval for the construction of the Katarpur Corridor was given by Union Cabinet.
- The 4 km corridor could link holy shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur district of Punjab in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan and could have provided a visa-free access to the shrines.
- Calling off this project would also have limited impact but will make the point of scaling back of relations with Pakistan from all possibilities.
Note: The content can be used as part of Mains answer writing.
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Section : Defence & Security
- The Blackbuck population is continuing to decline in India as a result of the loss of habitat due to human intervention.
- Currently, Blackbuck is the fastest running land animal in India.
- Blackbuck was named the state animal of Punjab in 1989.
- Blackbucks are herbivore antelope species usually found in open grasslands, dry scrub areas and thinly forested areas.
- Its predators include Feral dogs, wolf, Hyena, Jackal, Wild Pigs etc. (Cheetah, when found in India, was the important predator of Blackbuck).
- In India, they are found in arid and semi-arid short grass plains of Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat up to Tamil Nadu.
- India has 95% of the Blackbuck population. Some Blackbucks are also found in arid areas of Nepal and Pakistan.
- As a result of large scale conversion of grasslands for agriculture and habitat fragmentation, the Blackbuck population is on the decline.
- Thus, IUCN included Blackbuck under ‘Near Threatened’ status in the Red List.
- Given the declining number, Blackbuck is included in Schedule 1 list of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, being accorded highest protection.
Important sanctuaries in India
- The Velavadar Blackbuck National Park, Gujarat has the highest number of blackbucks.
- Other importance sanctuaries include Tal Chhapar Blackbuck Sanctuary, Rajasthan, Point Calimere Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary, Maharashtra, Bishnoi-dominated areas in Haryana and Punjab.
- Except in Rajasthan, their habitat coincides with the habitat of Great Indian Bustard.
Abohar wildlife sanctuary in Punjab seeing decline in population:
- Blackbuck presence in Punjab is confined to Abohar wildlife sanctuary (AWS) due to the unique habitat of semi-arid plains consisting agricultural fields, intermittent fallow-barren lands, scattered sand dunes, sand mounds and ridges.
- In AWS, the land in mainly owned by the Bishnoi community, and they protect the Blackbuck with great zeal.
- Despite that, due to various reasons like habitat fragmentation, barbed fences and attacks by stray dogs, the population of Blackbucks in on the decline.
Reasons for decline
- Habitat destruction and Habitat fragmentation as a result of land-use change to agriculture.
- Attacks by stray dogs
- Urbanisation and increasing automobiles leading to road accidents
- Falling into water storage tanks, and concrete drains
- Fencing of agricultural lands with barbed wire especially ‘cobra wires’ - into which the blackbucks run into when chased by dogs and get trapped and seriously injured
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Section : Environment & Ecology
- Despite of anti-dumping duty imposed over 70-80% of imported Chinese steel products, there has been surge in imports of 8% in a year.
- This has called for revisiting the anti-dumping duty rules of India.
About Anti-dumping Measures
- Dumping is a situation of international price discrimination, where the price of a product when sold in the importing country is less than the price of that product in the market of the exporting country. For example, some products manufactured in China are 'dumped' in India for lower prices that in Chinese market, thus hurting competitiveness of Indian manufacturing.
- Countries initiate anti-dumping probes to determine if the domestic industry has been hurt by a surge in below-cost imports.
- As a counter-measure, they impose duties under the multilateral WTO regime.
- Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry.
Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR)
- In 2018, Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) was substituted by Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) in Department of Commerce.
- This paved way for creation of an integrated single umbrella National Authority to be called the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) for providing comprehensive and swift trade defence mechanism in India.
- DGTR deals with Anti-dumping, Countervailing Duties (CVD) and Safeguard measures.
- It also provides trade defence support to our domestic industry and exporters in dealing with increasing instances of trade remedy investigations instituted against them by other countries.
- The creation of DGTR provides a level playing field to the domestic industry.
- India imposed anti-dumping duties for five years on certain varieties of Chinese steel to guard domestic players from cheap imports.
- The Chinese steel product imports have increased 8 per cent in a year, despite nearly 80 per cent of these products being covered under anti-dumping duty.
- Nothing has been done to revise or rationalise the anti-dumping duty imposed.
- Thus, there has been a need of rationalisation of these duties.
- The concerns raised by the domestic steel lobby focus largely on the Chinese non-alloy steel which is being imported by mis-declaring as alloy steel, which otherwise is value-added and expensive steel.
- Thus, the DGTR is scrambling to commission a study for an impact assessment of India’s anti-dumping measures.
- Change in reference price:
- The reference price used to levy anti-dumping duties was arrived at by looking at the international prices vis-à-vis the prevailing domestic prices at that time.
- However, considering the price appreciation in the steel sector since then, there is need for the reference price to be reviewed, as the earlier prices might not be relevant in the current scenario.
- Fixed duty:
- Increase in the basic customs duty will not be able to check the imports arriving from countries with which India has Free Trade Agreements.
- As a result, alternative being suggested is to convert the current trade remedial measures (anti-dumping duty etc.) be converted to fix duty rates.
Measures earlier taken to protect the steel sector
- Apart from steel, increased imports of solar cells have also caused serious injury to the domestic producers in India.
- In 2018, the DGTR recommended imposition of safeguard duty on imports of solar cells for two years. Imports from developing nations other than China and Malaysia were exempted from the Safeguard Duty up to certain limits.
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Section : Economics
About Gobar-Dhan Yojana
- GOBAR is an acronym for Galvanizing Organic Bio Agro Resources.
- Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation launched the GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) - DHAN scheme.
- The objective of the scheme is to ensure cleanliness in villages and generate wealth and energy by converting cattle dung and solid agricultural waste into compost and Bio Gas.
- The scheme is being implemented as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).
- The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) comprises two main components for creating clean villages:
- Creating open defecation free (ODF) villages
- Managing solid and liquid waste in villages
- With over 3.5 lakh villages, 374 districts and 16 States/UTs of the country being declared ODF, the stage is set for ODF-plus activities, including measures to enhance Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).
- The GOBAR-DHAN scheme, with its focus on keeping villages clean, increasing the income of rural households, and generation of energy from cattle waste, is an important element of this ODF-plus strategy.
- The scheme aims to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste.
- The scheme also aims at creating new rural livelihood opportunities and enhancing income for farmers and other rural people.
- Use of animal dung and other bio-waste to produce energy like some European countries and China, is hugely helpful for the country as India is home to the highest cattle population in the world, close to 300 million in number, with a daily output of 3 million tonnes of dung.
- The Gobar Dhan Scheme encouraged the farmers to consider dung and other waste not just as a waste but as a source of income.
- The Gobar Dhan scheme or Gobar Dhan Yojana provided many benefits to the rural people. It is now easier to keep the village clean and sanitized, livestock health improvement and farm yields increment.
- Biogas generation increased self-reliance in energy utilized for cooking and lighting.
- Farmers and cattle herders are being helped in augmenting their income.
- In addition to this, an online trading platform is created for better implementation of Gobar Dhan Yojana that connects farmers to buyers so that they can get the right price for dung and agricultural waste.
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Section : Miscellaneous