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Here are the topics covered for 28th October 2023:
GS-2: The Bhutan-China Relationship
GS- 3: Alarming Land Degradation Trends, Transformative Role of Women in Overhauling Economic Systems, Legal Implications of Social Media Post “Likes”
Facts for Prelims: Parliamentary Standing Committee, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
The Bhutan-China Relationship
- The recent visit of the Bhutanese Foreign Minister to China, which marked the first-ever visit of a Bhutanese Foreign Minister to China, has raised important concerns and implications for India. Bhutan, with its unique relationship with India, is exploring diplomatic ties and boundary agreements with China, and this development has stirred a range of concerns for India.
- Border Talks and Cooperation Agreement: China and Bhutan held their 25th round of boundary talks, signing a Cooperation Agreement regarding the “Responsibilities and Functions of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) on the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Bhutan-China Boundary.” This marks progress in their 3-Step Roadmap initiated in 2021 for border resolution, which includes agreeing on the border, ground inspections, and formal demarcation.
- India’s Unique Relationship: India’s exceptional relationship with Bhutan has made it cautious about formalizing diplomatic ties and boundary agreements between Bhutan and China. This is a significant factor that has fueled India’s concerns.
- Concerns and Implications for India:
- Security Concerns: The presence and influence of China in Bhutan could potentially pose a threat to India’s security interests, particularly in the Doklam plateau, a strategically vital area near the tri-junction of India, Bhutan, and China.
- Economic Implications: India and Bhutan share a strong economic partnership, particularly in hydropower cooperation. Any diversification of Bhutan’s economic ties with China could reduce its dependence on India and potentially affect India’s energy security.
- Diplomatic Implications: Bhutan has traditionally shared a unique and close relationship with India, based on historical, cultural, and political ties. The Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1949, has given India significant influence over Bhutan’s foreign policy and defence. Any formal diplomatic relations between Bhutan and China could challenge India’s influence in the region and alter Bhutan’s pro-India foreign policy.
- India’s response to the growing relationship between Bhutan and China should involve diplomatic engagement, collaborative border negotiations, and efforts to understand Bhutan’s perspective and motivations.
- It is essential to maintain trust and confidence in Bhutan’s commitment to considering India’s interests alongside its own.
- Strengthening bilateral ties with Bhutan, regional cooperation involving all parties, and maintaining open dialogue are key strategies for India to navigate these evolving dynamics while preserving its strategic interests in the region.
Alarming Land Degradation Trends
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has unveiled its first-ever Data Dashboard, highlighting the rapid advancement of land degradation across the globe.
- This development is concerning and necessitates a comprehensive understanding of its implications. The 21st session of the UNCCD is scheduled to convene in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in November 2023, with a specific focus on evaluating global progress toward achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN):
- LDN is a powerful concept aimed at securing healthy and productive natural resources by preventing further degradation and restoring already degraded land.
- It encompasses enhanced land management practices and land-use planning to promote economic, social, and ecological sustainability.
- LDN offers substantial benefits in climate change mitigation and adaptation by converting land from a source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) into a carbon sink.
Key Highlights of UNCCD Data:
- From 2015 to 2019, the world experienced an annual loss of over 100 million hectares of productive land, twice the size of Greenland.
- Land degradation is intensifying globally, raising significant concerns.
- Eastern and Central Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean suffer severe degradation, affecting over 20% of their total land area.
- Sub-Saharan Africa, Western and Southern Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean witness land degradation rates exceeding the global average.
- Notable land degradation has occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, resulting in a loss of 163 million and 108 million hectares, respectively, since 2015.
- Certain countries have shown progress in combating land degradation.
- Examples include Botswana, the Dominican Republic, and Uzbekistan, which have successfully reduced degradation in specific regions.
UNCCD Recommendations for Achieving LDN Targets:
- To meet or surpass LDN goals, it is imperative to restore 1.5 billion hectares of degraded land by 2030, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- Collaboration between countries with voluntary LDN targets for 2030 is crucial, with adequate funding support.
- The UNCCD’s data emphasizes the urgency of addressing land degradation and achieving LDN goals. Understanding the implications of land degradation and collaborating to restore degraded land are vital steps toward a sustainable future. India and other nations must prioritize concerted efforts to combat this critical environmental challenge to ensure global ecological and economic well-being.
Transformative Role of Women in Overhauling Economic Systems
- Historically, economic history has revolved around the contributions and viewpoints of men, often overshadowing women’s roles. The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences is a glaring example, awarded to 90 men and only three women since 1969. Claudia Goldin, one of the women laureates in 2023, received the Nobel Prize for her work on the gender wage gap, highlighting why women earn less than men even for similar work.
Economics and the Value of Women’s Work:
- Economics, as a discipline, focuses on efficiently producing economically valuable goods and services. It typically measures resources in monetary terms, which often undervalues women’s unpaid work in caregiving and family support. This skewed perspective affects the economic value attributed to women in society.
Challenges in the Changing World of Work:
- Evolving economic patterns globally include a shift away from long-term employment in traditional industries toward the gig economy and the informal sector. Short-term contracts have become common even in large industrial firms, posing unique challenges, particularly for a youth-populated country like India.
The Need for Recognizing Care-Giving Work:
- In India, where human development ranks 132 out of 191 countries, there is a growing need to invest in care-giving services. However, caregiving work is often undervalued in economic terms, leading to the exploitation of domestic service providers and community care workers like ASHA and Anganwadi workers.
Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development:
- The global push for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasizes the need to address environmental, social, and economic issues concurrently. However, current progress on SDGs is lagging, with only 12% of targets on track at the midpoint of 2030. A shift in approach is imperative to make tangible progress.
Reassessing the Economy:
- Economic paradigms must evolve to encompass a feminine view of the economy. It should emphasize cooperation, equity, and sustainability over competition. Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom demonstrated how local communities, often led by women, can cooperatively and sustainably manage their resources.
Power Shift and Institutional Overhaul:
- Revising economic paradigms demands a power shift, which is challenging because entrenched power structures resist change. Empowerment through money, political authority, and formal education must be reevaluated to foster inclusivity. Inclusive institutions should be shaped by women and local communities to create better governance.
- The prevailing global, male-dominated, money-driven economic system requires a fundamental overhaul. Women should be given the freedom to not merely rise within existing structures but to shape more inclusive, family-centric institutions.
- Additionally, local communities should gain more authority to design and implement sustainable solutions tailored to their unique challenges.
- Without these institutional reforms, the vision of “One Family, One Earth, One Future” may remain a distant goal.
Legal Implications of Social Media Post “Likes”
- The Allahabad High Court has delivered a significant judgment regarding the legal consequences of liking a post on social media platforms, stating that merely liking a post does not constitute an offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act. The ruling clarifies that this legal provision applies when a person shares or retweets a post.
- The case revolved around Mohammed Imran Kazi, who was accused by the Agra police in 2019 of making posts that led to the assembly of a large group of Muslims for a procession without obtaining the necessary permit, potentially disturbing peace and security.
- During the case, the Investigating Officer argued that Mr Kazi had liked a post on social media that called for the assembly, although there was no evidence that Mr Kazi had posted or shared the content himself.
Liking vs. Sharing:
- The Allahabad High Court’s single-judge bench, led by Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal, clarified the distinction between liking and sharing.
- It emphasized that posting a message amounts to publishing while sharing or retweeting constitutes transmitting. In this context, the Court ruled that merely liking a post does not qualify as publishing or transmitting under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.
- Therefore, the Court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish that Mr. Kazi’s act of liking a post amounted to a violation.
Scope of Section 67 of the IT Act:
- The High Court also highlighted that Section 67 of the Information Technology Act primarily concerns obscene material rather than provocative content.
- It noted that the provisions of this act relate to materials that are lascivious or appeal to the prurient interest, which pertains to sexual content. Thus, Section 67 does not prescribe any punishment for content that is merely provocative.
- This judgment from the Allahabad High Court brings clarity to the legal interpretation of social media interactions.
- It emphasizes the legal distinction between liking and sharing a post and clarifies that liking a post does not constitute an offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.
- Furthermore, the ruling underscores the importance of distinguishing between provocative and obscene content when applying Section 67.
Facts for Prelims:
Parliamentary Standing Committee
- Parliamentary standing committees are permanent bodies responsible for overseeing specific government ministries or departments.
- Scrutinize legislation, examine budgets, and investigate concerns.
- Members are appointed by the speaker or chairman. Composed of members from both ruling and opposition parties.
- Produce reports with findings and recommendations, which the government is expected to respond to.
- They draw their authority from Article 105 and Article 118. Article 105 deals with the privileges of MPs. Article 118 gives Parliament authority to make rules to regulate its procedure and conduct of business.
- In Parliament, there are 24 standing committees, including 21 departmentally related standing committees (DRSCs) and 3 other committees.
- DRSCs are responsible for overseeing the work of specific government ministries or departments, while other standing committees are responsible for overseeing more general issues, such as public undertakings, ethics, and the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
- The government is expected to respond to committee recommendations, and non-compliance can lead to censure or ministerial resignations.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
- PMKSY, launched in 2015, focuses on enhancing access to water for farming, expanding irrigated areas, improving water use efficiency, and promoting sustainable water conservation practices.
- It’s a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with a 75:25 fund-sharing pattern between the Central and State governments (90:10 for the northeastern region and hilly states).
- PMKSY includes the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Har Khet ko Pani (HKKP), Watershed Development, and more.
- The program encourages decentralized implementation through State and District Irrigation Plans.
- Other Agriculture Initiatives:
- Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER)
- National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
- Sub-mission on AgroForestry (SMAF)
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
- Digital Agriculture Mission
- Unified Farmer Service Platform (UFSP)
- National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A)