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10th February Current Affairs

What are detention centres for foreigners?

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently informed the Rajya Sabha that it does not maintain a centralised data on the total number of detention centres in the country, as powers have been delegated to the State governments “to make necessary arrangements for detention centres/camps as per their requirement.”

What are detention centres?

They are places designated to keep illegal migrants (people who have entered a country without necessary documents) once they are detected by the authorities till the time their nationality is confirmed and they are deported to the country of their origin.

Detention centres were set up in Assam after the Union government authorized the state to do so under the provisions of the Foreigners’ Act, 1946 and the Foreigners Order, 1948.

Foreigners Act, 1946:

It replaced the Foreigners Act, 1940 conferring wide powers to deal with all foreigners.

The act empowered the government to take such steps as are necessary to prevent illegal migrants including the use of force.

The concept of ‘burden of proof’ lies with the person, and not with the authorities.

The act originally empowered the government to establish tribunals which would have powers similar to those of a civil court.

Amendments (2019) to the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 empowered even district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

Who is a declared foreigner?

A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) for allegedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.

People adjudged non-citizens are sent to detention centres.

Such people are tried after the Assam police’s Border wing serve them notice on suspicion of being foreigners.

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946.

Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.

Who can setup these tribunals?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Who can approach?

The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.

Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.

UN peacekeepers

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

UN peacekeepers and troops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have increased patrols near the site of last week’s deadly raid on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northeast Ituri province.

What’s the issue?

The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym as MONUSCO, recently exchanged fire with members of the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia. The clash occurred during an operation to cordon and search in the Uzi area of Ituri province.

The Savo attack is the latest in a string of devastating raids by CODECO on sites for displaced people in Ituri, where ethnic tensions between the Hema and the Lendu communities have existed for years.

How are UN Peacekeeping operations funded?

While decisions about establishing, maintaining or expanding a peacekeeping operation are taken by the Security Council, the financing of UN Peacekeeping operations is the collective responsibility of all UN Member States.

Every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The top 5 providers of assessed contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping operations for 2020-2021 are:

  • United States.
  • United Kingdom.

What is peacekeeping? It’s significance?

United Nations Peacekeeping is a joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support.

Every peacekeeping mission is authorized by the Security Council.

Composition:

UN peacekeepers (often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets) can include soldiers, police officers, and civilian personnel.

Peacekeeping forces are contributed by member states on a voluntary basis.

Civilian staff of peace operations are international civil servants, recruited and deployed by the UN Secretariat.

UN Peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:

  • Consent of the parties.
  • Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.

UNITE AWARE:

UNITE AWARE is a mobile tech platform developed by India to provide terrain-related information to the UN peacekeepers so as to ensure their safety. It is being developed in partnership with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support. India has spent 1.64 million USD for this project.

Farm loan waiver

(GS-III: Agriculture and farm subsidies)

In News:

The Congress manifesto for the UP polls promises waiver of farm loans within 10 days of coming to power and a subquota for the most backward classes (MBCs) within the other backward classes (OBC) quota to ensure maximum benefits, if voted to office Uttar Pradesh.

Background:

To help the farm sector, state governments have time and again announced loan waiver schemes. Back in 2008-09, the then UPA government at the Centre had announced a loan waiver scheme for the entire country. States like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and others have announced similar schemes in the recent past.

Drawbacks of loan waivers:

Firstly, it covers only a tiny fraction of farmers. The loan waiver as a concept excludes most of the farm households in dire need of relief and includes some who do not deserve such relief on economic grounds.

Second, it provides only a partial relief to the indebted farmers as about half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.

Third, in many cases, one household has multiple loanseither from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.

Fourth, loan waiving excludes agricultural labourerswho are even weaker than cultivators in bearing the consequences of economic distress.

Fifth, it severely erodes the credit culture, with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.

Sixth, the scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors, as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.

Lastly, schemes have serious implications for other developmental expenditure, having a much larger multiplier effect on the economy.

What needs to be done?

Proper identification: For providing immediate relief to the needy farmers, a more inclusive alternative approach is to identify the vulnerable farmers based on certain criteria and give an equal amount as financial relief to the vulnerable and distressed families.

Enhance non- farm income: The sustainable solution to indebtedness and agrarian distress is to raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income. The low scale of farms necessitates that some cultivators move from agriculture to non-farm jobs.

Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers’ income. All these require more public funding and support.

Observations made by RBI:

As per RBI, loan waivers not only inhibit investment in the farm sector but put pressure on the fiscal of states which undertake farm loan waiver.

In every state election during the last five years, loan waiver promise made by one political party or other. Also, loan waivers, as the RBI has repeatedly argued, vitiate the credit culture, and stress the budgets of the waiving state or central government.

Way ahead:

The magic wand of a waiver can offer temporary relief, but long-term solutions are needed to solve farmer woes. There are many dimensions of the present agrarian crisis in India. The search for a solution therefore needs to be comprehensive by taking into consideration all the factors that contribute to the crisis. Furthermore, both short- and long-term measures are required to address the numerous problems associated with the agrarian crisis.