What are the takeaways from the NATO summit?
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 Bilateral Groupings & Agreements
Context: Latest NATO summit held in Vilnius.
NATO 2023 Summit
Significance of the NATO-Ukraine Council:
- The creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council addressed Ukraine’s feelings of exclusion by providing a mechanism for engagement and support.
- Ukraine’s three priorities (new weapons packages, security guarantees, and NATO membership) were unfulfilled, but the UK pledged ammunition support.
- NATO also boosted its own defenses, maintaining a force of 300,000 troops with air and naval capabilities and endorsing a Defense Production Action Plan.
Implications of New NATO Members:
- Finland and Sweden’s approval as NATO members demonstrates the alliance’s practice of inviting European countries to join.
- Turkey’s change in stance regarding Sweden’s inclusion signifies a significant shift in relations, potentially benefiting the US-Turkey relationship.
U.S. Stance and Support:
- President Biden extended unwavering support to NATO and Ukraine, contrasting with former President Trump’s approach.
- Biden’s support for Ukraine aims to strengthen trans-Atlantic solidarity and gain bipartisan consensus domestically.
- Other Threat Actors to NATO:
- The summit acknowledged China’s ambitions and coercive policies, including malicious hybrid cyber operations and confrontational rhetoric.
- NATO recognized the increasing relevance of developments in the Indo-Pacific region for Euro-Atlantic security, involving Quad countries, New Zealand, and South Korea.
- Russia’s drone attack on Kyiv during the summit reflects a contested future for Eurasian security in the context of NATO’s potential expansion.
A job and career right the disabled cannot be denied
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 Judiciary
Context: Justice delayed is justice denied” often applies to long-pending judicial cases.
- Reservation in promotion for persons with disabilities (PWD) became a victim of delayed justice.
- The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, recognized the right of PWD to be employed and promoted on equal basis in government jobs.
- Initially, the Act introduced 3% reservation for PWD in employment, later extended to Groups A and B.
Reservation in Promotion and Reversal:
- In 1998, the Department of Personnel and Training recognized reservation in promotion for PWD as an integral part of reservation.
- However, in 2005, another order withdrew reservation for PWD in promotion in Groups A and B, reflecting apathy towards the disabled.
Contempt Filing and Challenges to Indra Sawhney Judgment:
- A contempt case was filed in 2017 when the government did not implement the Supreme Court’s judgment.
- Both cases (Siddaraju vs State of Karnataka & Ors. and the contempt case) upheld the reservation in promotion for PWD, challenging the Indra Sawhney judgment.
- Reservation for PWD is based on physical disability, not forbidden under Article 16(1) of the Constitution.
Government’s Response and Delay Tactics:
- The government filed miscellaneous applications to delay the implementation of reservation in promotion for PWD.
- An order in 2022 clarified recruitment reservation but didn’t mention promotion reservation, denying justice to PWD.
Role of Judiciary and Conclusion:
- Judiciary has played a significant role in achieving justice and equality for PWD.
- However, prolonged adjudication has compounded government apathy towards PWD.
- Denying reservation in promotion hinders inclusion, prevents active contribution to India’s development, and contradicts the constitutional wisdom of equal opportunity. The judiciary should proactively decide to uphold justice for PWD.
More than court action, revisit the Indus Waters Treaty
Relevance: GS Paper – 2 India and its Neighbourhood
Context: On July 6, 2023, the court unanimously rejected India’s objections and found itself competent to consider Pakistan’s arbitration request.
The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT):
- The IWT regulates the Indus water courses between India and Pakistan.
- It is often cited as an example of cooperation between unfriendly neighbours due to its survival through wars and dispute resolution procedures.
Increase in Judicial Recourse:
- In the last decade, judicial recourse has increased to settle disputes arising from India’s construction of run-of-river hydroelectric projects on the tributaries of the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab rivers.
- Pakistan initiated arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in January 2023 for two hydroelectric projects, and India objected.
Court’s Decision and Challenges:
- Judicial recourse appears rational in an atmosphere of mistrust between India and Pakistan but may not address their growing industrial needs.
Water Availability and Challenges:
- The IWT allocates rivers to each country without considering future water availability, making it vulnerable to climate change.
- Climate change alters precipitation and runoff, affecting water supplies for agriculture and industry.
Revisiting the IWT and Principles of Water Course:
- The IWT’s partitioning of rivers hinders resource capacity building.
- Reconciliation can be achieved through the principles of Equitable and Reasonable Utilization (ERU) and the No Harm Rule (NHR) from international watercourses law.
- Including ERU and NHR in the IWT can help erasing differences and ensuring predictability.
World Bank’s Role and Revisiting the IWT:
- The World Bank, a party to the IWT, can use its forum to build a transnational alliance of epistemic communities for convergent state policies.
- Revisiting the IWT is necessary to incorporate principles like ERU and NHR, providing a more comprehensive and predictable framework for water sharing between India and Pakistan.
Why are tomato prices still high?
Relevance: GS 3 Economy
Context: High tomato prices in India
Tomato Production in India:
- Tomato production is concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, and Gujarat, accounting for 50% of total production.
- Two major crops, kharif and rabi, are produced annually, with the rabi crop hitting the market from March to August and the kharif crop from September.
Factors Fueling Price Rise:
- Extreme weather conditions, high temperatures, and delayed monsoon led to pest attacks in tomato crops.
- Inferior-quality varieties came to markets earlier, fetching low prices for farmers, leading to supply crunch.
- Incessant rains further affected the new crop, compounded by the lean production period of July-August.
Seasonal Issue or Policy Concerns:
- The government considers the price rise as a seasonal and temporary issue.
- Policy experts, RBI, and NABARD express concerns over the high seasonal price volatility of tomatoes and its impact on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- Tomato is the most volatile among the three TOP (tomato, onion, potato) agri-commodities.
- Improvements in the value and supply chains can help with the problem of tomato’s perishability.
- Developing more processing units for tomato paste and puree during peak seasons and using them in the lean season can be a solution.
- Encouraging direct selling by Farmer Producers Organisations and reducing commission and fees can help farmers get a fair share of tomato prices.
Online abuse among college students
Relevance: GS 3 Internal security
Context: The article discusses the issue of technology-facilitated sexual violence (TFSV) in India, particularly affecting college students.
What is Technology-Facilitated Sexual Violence (TFSV)?
- It refers to a form of harassment and abuse that occurs using digital technologies, including social media platforms, messaging apps, and the internet.
- Forms of TFSV include morphed nude images, sexualized blackmailing, digital flashing, rape threats, and explicit comments.
- Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp are particularly involved.
Impact of TFSV:
- TFSV leads to severe consequences for survivors, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
- It affects academic or career prospects, social isolation, and family violence and ostracization.
- Abusers often exploit anonymity to evade accountability.
Legal and Technological Challenges:
- India’s IT Act of 2000 criminalizes some TFSV, but ambiguities hinder reporting.
- Tech giants like Meta have not optimized their platforms for Indian context, leading to ineffective safety measures.
Role of Higher Education Institutions (IHEs):
- IHEs must have Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) to address sexual harassment, including TFSV incidents.
- Implementation and management of ICCs are often inadequate.
- Many students are unaware of ICCs or reluctant to report.
- Institutions should provide anonymous helplines and reporting options.
- Mental health services by trained counselors are necessary for survivors.
- Workshops, safety training, and gender sensitization programs should be held.
- Grassroots solutions through student organizations can lead response efforts.
The Intersectionality of TFSV:
- TFSV magnifies existing social inequalities and disempowers women.
- Vulnerability is heightened for survivors based on gender, caste, religion, sexual orientation, class, and region.
- Research on the impact of TFSV on other marginalized identities is essential.
Raising Awareness and Eliminating Stigmatization:
- Open discussions about TFSV are crucial without shaming or blaming survivors.
- Raising awareness and implementing solutions is essential before the problem grows out of control.
India supports U.N. on Black Sea initiative
Black Sea Grain initiative
- The Black Sea Grain Initiative is a collaborative effort among grain-producing and exporting countries in the Black Sea region, primarily Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
- Its main goal is to enhance grain trade and cooperation in the region by leveraging the geographical advantage, fertile lands, and favorable climate conditions for grain production.
- The initiative focuses on improving infrastructure, logistics, and trade facilitation to increase grain exports to international markets.
- It aims to streamline customs procedures, standardize regulations, and develop efficient transportation routes, especially through Black Sea ports, to optimize grain exports.
- The initiative promotes market transparency and cooperation among its member countries by sharing information on crop forecasts, production data, and grain availability to stabilize prices and reduce market volatility.
- One of its key objectives is to attract investments in agriculture, processing facilities, and storage infrastructure to improve the overall grain supply chain.
- The Black Sea Grain Initiative has become a significant player in the global grain trade, with implications for food security and agricultural markets worldwide.
Complaint on improper use of India
A complaint has been filed with the Delhi police against 26 Opposition parties for the “improper use” of the name ‘INDIA’ in their newly-formed alliance to gain “undue influence” in elections.
- It has cited multiple sections of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, claiming that the use of the name ‘INDIA’ is prohibited by any person.
- The complaint alleges that the parties have contravened Section 3 of the Emblems Act, and they could be punished under Section 5 of the same Act.
India climbs seven points to 80 on Passport Index; Singapore at top position
Context: India has climbed seven places on the Henley Passport Index, 2023 to the 80th rank from 87 last year, though the number of countries allowed visafree access to Indian passport holders remains unchanged.
Henley Passport Index
- The Henley Passport Index is a global ranking of passports based on the number of countries their holders can access without a visa.
- It includes data from 199 passports and covers 227 travel destinations.
- The index is published by Henley and Partners.
Top Positions and Changes
- Japan, which held the top position for five consecutive years, has now dropped to third place.
- Singapore has emerged as the new leader, becoming the most powerful passport globally, with citizens enjoying visa-free access to 192 destinations out of 227.
- Germany, Italy, and Spain share the second position on the index.
- Japan, along with Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden, holds the third position.
- Four countries, including Afghanistan, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, and Turkmenistan, scored zero on the Henley Openness Index for not permitting visa-free access to any passport.