India past COVID peak
A modelling study- the “COVID-19 India National Supermodel”- was conducted by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology.
The commission has submitted its report.
India passed its COVID peak in September and, if current trends continue, there will be “minimal cases” by February.
India’s COVID burden is expected to be capped at 106 lakh symptomatic infections by early next year, with less than 50,000 active cases from December.
This, however, is premised on no spikes being triggered by festivals or mutations in the virus aiding its spread in winter.
A complete shutdown should be considered only at sub-district levels if there is a spike that threatens local healthcare capacity.
Nearly 30% of the country had been exposed to the virus, so far.
Had there been no lockdown India would have seen symptomatic active infections peak from 40-147 lakh by June and a lockdown beginning on April 1 or May would have seen a peak of 30-40 lakh by July.
Myanmar Rohingya- an overview of the crisis
Who are the Rohingya?
Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”, the Rohingya are one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities.
They numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017.
They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
What’s the issue?
The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people.
It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
When did the latest crisis happen?
In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.
They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.
The country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, once a human rights icon, has repeatedly denied allegations of genocide.
What has been the international response?
Amnesty International says the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.
A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”.
The ICJ case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim countries, called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched.
Where are they now?
About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.
The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.
China passes law to safeguard national security, sensitive tech
China has passed a new law restricting sensitive exports to protect national security.
It comes into effect on December 1.
Overview of the new law:
It allows Beijing to “take reciprocal measures” against countries that abuse export controls and pose a threat to national security.
Chinese authorities will formulate and adjust an export control list of items to be published in a “timely manner”.
Foreign individuals and groups can also be found liable for violating export control rules.
Analysis– Impact of such legislations:
Not all is well between China and the US. The US, in recent times, has imposed unprecedented tariffs, threats of bans and sanctions on Chinese tech firms.
The US has also moved against popular platforms and major companies — including apps TikTok and WeChat, tech giant Huawei and chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.
Therefore, the latest law is a move that adds to policy tools that China could wield against the U.S. as tensions — especially in technology — continue to rise.
Previously, in September, China launched a long-expected “unreliable entities list”, widely seen as a weapon to retaliate against the US which has used its own “entity list” to shut Huawei out of the U.S. market.
The month before that, China’s Commerce Ministry stepped up rules on technologies restricted for export, adding “civilian use” to the list.
UN Human Rights Council
Pakistan and Nepal were recently re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, China won a seat by the smallest margin while Saudi Arabia was defeated in the elections.
UNHRC was reconstituted from its predecessor organisation, the UN Commission on Human Rights to help overcome the “credibility deficit” of the previous organisation.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UNHRC has 47 members serving at any time with elections held to fill up seats every year, based on allocations to regions across the world to ensure geographical representation.
Each elected member serves for a term of three years.
Countries are disallowed from occupying a seat for more than two consecutive terms.
The UNHRC passes non-binding resolutions on human rights issues through a periodic review of all 193 UN member states called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
It oversees expert investigation of violations in specific countries (Special Procedures).
Challenges and Need for reforms:
The human rights record of the member-states such as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia in the council has also not been in line with the aims and mission of the UNHRC, which has led to critics questioning its relevance.
Despite the continued participation of several western countries in the UNHRC, they continue to harbour misgivings on the understanding of Human rights.
Non-compliance has been a serious issue with respect to the UNHRC’s functioning.
Non-participation of powerful nations such as the US.