Census and NPR
The first phase of the census and collection of details to update the National Population Register (NPR) have been postponed at least till September.
Mandatory requirements for Census:
Freezing of boundary limits of administrative units: Freezing of boundary limits of administrative units (boundaries of districts, sub-districts, tehsils, talukas, police stations etc.), at least three months prior, is a pre-requisite for conducting the census.
For Census 2021, all the changes between January 1, 2010 i.e. after the date of freezing of boundaries for Census 2011 up to the date of freezing of boundaries for forthcoming exercise (presently up to June 30, 2022) are to be considered for finalising the administrative units.
The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
The Census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872. It helped in framing new policies, government programs to uplift areas of improvement in the community.
The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
Draft national air sports policy
The government has released a draft national policy for air sports.
Highlights of the Policy:
Two-tier governance structure: The policy proposes a two-tier governance structure for air sports in the country, which will include an apex governing body called the Air Sports Federation of India (ASFI) and associations for each air sport.
About ASFI: The ASFI will be an autonomous body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and will represent India at the Lausanne-headquartered Fédération Aéronaautique Internationale (FAI) and other global platforms related to air sports.
Functions: It will provide governance over various aspects of air sports, including regulation, certification, competitions, awards and penalties, etc.
Rules and Functions of Each air sports association: Lay down its safety standards for equipment, infrastructure, personnel and training, and specify the disciplinary actions to be taken in case of non-compliance. Inability to do so may lead to penal action by the ASFI.
Coverage: It will cover activities like aerobatics, aeromodelling, amateur-built and experimental aircraft, ballooning, drones, gliding, hang gliding, paragliding, microlighting, paramotoring, skydiving, and vintage aircraft.
Registration: It requires entities providing these services and their equipment to be registered, as well as be liable for penalties.
Indian airspace is divided into red, yellow and green zones, according to the DigitalSky platform of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which allows air sports enthusiasts to rely on the easily accessible map for guidance. Operations in red zones require a permission from the central government.
Control zone: Popular air sports attractions in the country such as Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh, Gangtok in Sikkim, Hadapsar in Maharashtra and Vagamon in Kerala can be declared as a “control zone” for air sports in order to ensure the safety of other manned aircraft.
Significance of the Policy:
Besides the revenue from air sports activities, multiplier benefits in terms of growth in travel, tourism, infrastructure and local employment, especially in hilly areas of the country, are much greater.
Creating air sports hubs across the country will bring in air sports professionals and tourists from across the world
China’s border law and India
China’s new law on land borders has come into effect from the new year. While some feel India should worry about its border areas, others note that China’s actions have been aggressive even without it.
About the law:
It is called the law for the “protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas”.
Under the law, “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China are sacred and inviolable”.
The state needs to “take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines these”.
The law encourages the development of villages for civilians in the border areas.
The law also asks the state to follow the principles of “equality, mutual trust, and friendly consultation, handle land border related-affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and longstanding border issues.
The law lays down four conditions under which the state can impose emergency measures, including border shutdown.
Rationale behind the law:
This law reflects Beijing’s renewed concerns over the security of its land border. It also underscores the imperative for Beijing to exert greater control over its somewhat porous land border.
The law “reflects Beijing’s thinly-veiled worries about the stability of its hinterland bordering Central Asia” as the withdrawal of the US forces and Taliban takeover “aggravated Beijing’s concerns that Afghanistan may become a hotbed for terrorism and extremism that could spread to Xinjiang”.
Domestic politics too may have been a contributing factor, bolstering President Xi Jinping’s standing in the lead-up to the 20th Party Congress later this year when he would secure a third term.
Does it concern India?
Although the law is not meant specifically for India, it is bound to have some impact.
China and India share a disputed 3,488-km boundary, the third longest among China’s 22,457-km land boundaries with 14 countries, after the borders with Mongolia and Russia.
There is a growing suspicion that China may have been stalling further negotiations on the standoff in eastern Ladakh for this new law to come into force. The Corps Commanders last met in October.
The new law also prohibits construction of permanent infrastructure close to the border without China’s permission. Both, India and China have been building new roads, bridges and other facilities faster since the standoff began; in fact, China had objected to India’s workers even before.
Hamas and Gaza Strip
Israel’s military has launched strikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip, a day after rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled territory.
What’s the issue?
The cease-fire, brokered by Egypt and other mediators, has been fragile. The militant Hamas group says Israel did not take serious steps to ease the blockade it imposed on Gaza with Egypt’s help when the Islamic movement seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007.
Who are Hamas?
Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks.
It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian state. It also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority.
Need for an agreement:
Gaza has been under a tightened Israeli blockade since 2007 in which most basic goods still enter the region under highly restricted measures.
In May, an Israeli offensive left nearly 260 Palestinians dead and thousands wounded as well as a vast trail of destruction in Gaza. Palestinian resistance groups responded with rocket barrages into Israeli areas, killing at least 13 Israelis.
Where is the Gaza Strip?
The Gaza Strip is an entirely artificial creation that emerged in 1948 when roughly three-fourths of Palestine’s Arab population was displaced, in some cases expelled, during the course of Israel’s creation. And most of the refugees, they were sort of scattered across the region in neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Some went to the West Bank, which came under Jordanian rule after 1948. And a very large number went to the Gaza Strip, which is this tiny little coastal strip between Egypt and what is now Israel. Today, the population of Gaza, about 70% of Gaza’s population are refugees.
Who controls it?
Hamas forcibly took control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the Israelis imposed a complete closure on Gaza’s borders. They declared Gaza to be an enemy entity. Of course, Gaza is not a state.
Hamas, of course, is viewed by Israel and by much of the international community as a terrorist organization, including the United States, for their history of attacks on civilians and so forth.
Trincomalee oil tank farm
Recently, Sri Lanka announced that the Indian Oil Subsidiary Lanka IOC would be given 49% stake in the joint development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank farm, with Ceylon Petroleum Corporation keeping 51%.
Why has this become a historical deal?
35-year-old agreement: If it goes according to plan, India and Sri Lanka would have finally achieved the implementation of an agreement — contained in an exchange of letters between then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J R Jayewarndene as part of the annexure to the India-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987 — that the tank farm would be developed jointly.
Why does Trincomalee matter?
The pre-WWII era oil storage facility has a capacity of nearly 1 million tonnes, which far outstrips the demand in Sri Lanka.
Strategic Location in the Indian Ocean: Located inland from China Bay, the facility was meant to be serviced by the natural harbour at Trincomalee.
Easily Accessible: In 2010-2011, officials had pitched for refurbishing the tank farm as an extension of Indian Oil storage on the Indian east coast, or for developing it as a refuelling facility to small ships. Trincomalee is the nearest port to Chennai.
Balancing China: From India’s geostrategic viewpoint, Trincomalee is an important counterbalance to the southern Hambantota Port backed substantially by China.
Therefore, India’s interest is to prevent a third country from entering the 850-acre facility.
The total funds disbursed under Rythu Bandhu, Telangana government’s direct benefit transfer scheme for farmers, will soon touch Rs 50,000 crore in the coming days.
The scheme was launched in 2018.
What is the Rythu Bandhu?
Rythu Bandhu scheme or Farmer’s Investment Support Scheme (FISS) is a welfare program to support farmer’s investment for two crops a year by the Government of Telangana.
The scheme is meant to incentivise the state’s farmers for their day to day work.
Under the scheme, almost 58.33 lakh farmers of Telangana state are provided Rs 5000 per acre, per season (crop-sowing) – to support the farm investment twice a year, for both – the Rabi and the Kharif seasons.
The purpose behind the scheme was to break the vicious cycle of rural indebtedness.
Who qualifies under the Rythu Bandhu scheme?
To apply under the scheme and to make the cut, the farmer should have been a resident of Telangana state and must own farming land.
The scheme is applicable for small and marginal farmers; however, commercial farmers are excluded from the scheme.
Also, farmers who till rented land are excluded from under this scheme.
Currently, more than 8 lakh farmers in Telangana enjoy the benefits of the Rythu Bandhu scheme.”