GS 3 : Nuclear Diplomacy & Disarmament
25th anniversary of Pokhran-II
The article provides a historical context for India’s nuclear program and focuses specifically on the Pokhran-II nuclear tests conducted in 1998. This year is special, marking 25 years since we started celebrating National Technology Day.
India’s Nuclear Journey: A quick recap –
- India conducted nuclear bomb test explosions at Pokhran Test Range in 1998.
- Codenamed Operation Shakti, these tests showcased India’s capability to build nuclear weapons.
- The tests marked the culmination of a long journey that began in the 1940s-50s.
- Physicist Homi J Bhaba played a crucial role in laying the foundations of India’s nuclear program.
- Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bhaba’s efforts and established the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1954.
Reasons: Threat of China and Pakistan –
- India’s perspective on nuclear weapons changed after the 1962 Sino-Indian War and China’s nuclear bomb test in 1964.
- The political establishment realized the need for self-sufficiency in the face of an unfriendly China and Pakistan.
- India sought nuclear guarantees from established nuclear weapons states but was unsuccessful.
- The path to obtaining nuclear weapons became a priority for India.
The “Discriminatory” NPT –
- The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was established in 1968, creating a divide between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear states.
- India refused to sign the treaty, as it felt it did not address its concerns about reciprocal obligations from nuclear weapons states.
- The NPT gained widespread international acceptance, but India remained one of the few non-signatories.
Pokhran-I and its Aftermath –
- In 1974, India conducted its first nuclear test at Pokhran, known as Pokhran-I or Operation Smiling Buddha.
- The test was described as a “peaceful nuclear explosion” but faced international condemnation and sanctions.
- Political instability, including the Emergency in 1975, hindered India’s nuclear program’s progress.
- Clamor for nuclear weapons resurfaced in the 1980s due to Pakistan’s advancing nuclear capabilities.
The Period between the Two Tests –
- India faced challenges due to domestic political instability and changing international dynamics.
- The fall of the USSR in 1991 weakened India’s military alliances.
- The US continued to support Pakistan despite concerns about its nuclear program.
- India faced pressure to quickly develop nuclear weapons as the window of opportunity appeared to be closing.
Pokhran-II: Projecting India’s Strength
- In 1998, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- Operation Shakti, conducted as a response to Pakistan’s missile launch, marked the culmination of India’s nuclear weaponization.
- India declared itself a nuclear weapons state following Pokhran-II.
- The tests faced some sanctions, but India’s growing economy and market potential helped it withstand international pressure.
GS 2 : historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
Delhi Govt V/s Centre : Supreme Court Verdict
The Supreme Court held that the National Capital Territory of Delhi has legislative and executive power over administrative services, with certain exceptions.
The dispute revolves around the regulation of services and is a continuation of a previous tussle between state govt & central govt.
(1) Disagreement with Justice Bhushan’s Judgment
- The Supreme Court stated that it does not agree with Justice Ashok Bhushan’s judgment that the Delhi government has no power over services.
(2) Article 239A and Legislative Assembly for NCT
- The Supreme Court highlighted that Article 239A establishes a legislative assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- The members of the legislative assembly are elected by the electorate of Delhi, and the interpretation of Article 239A should support representative democracy.
(3) Limits of Power
- The court clarified that the control over services does not extend to areas related to public order, police, and land.
(4) Delhi Government Represents Representative Form of Government
- According to the Supreme Court, the Delhi government, like other states, represents the representative form of government.
- Any expansion of the central government’s power would contradict the Constitutional scheme.
(5) Impact on Ministers’ Control
- The court noted that if administrative services are excluded from the legislative and executive domains, ministers would be excluded from controlling civil servants responsible for implementing executive decisions.
(6) Executive Power and Existing Law
- The court clarified that the executive power of the state is subject to existing union laws.
(7) Principle of Collective Responsibility
- The Supreme Court emphasized that if officers do not report to ministers or fail to follow their instructions, the principle of collective responsibility will be affected.
(8) Triple Chain of Accountability
- Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud highlighted that denying democratically elected governments the power to control officers would render the principle of the triple chain of accountability redundant.
Article 239AA –
- Article 239AA granted Special Status to Delhi among Union Territories (UTs) in the year 1991 through the 69th Constitutional Amendment.
- It provided a Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers responsible to such Assembly with appropriate powers.
- That’s when Delhi was named as the National Capital Region (NCT) of Delhi.
- As per this article – Public Order, Police & Land in NCT of Delhi fall within the domain and control of Central Government which shall have the power to make laws on these matters.
- For remaining matters of State List or Concurrent List, in so far as any such matter is applicable to UTs, the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to make laws for NCT of Delhi.
GS 2 : historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
Supreme Court verdict on Maharashtra Politics –
The Supreme Court issued a unanimous judgment on various issues related to the split in a political party in Maharashtra in June 2022.
Here are the key takeaways from the verdict:
- MLA disqualifications upheld:The Supreme Court did not interfere with the proceedings related to the disqualification of 16 MLAs (who had gone to Dehradun) including Chief Minister.
- Onus on Speaker:The court stated that the issue of disqualification should be decided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly as per established procedures in law.
(2) Consideration of Party Constitution
- Political party constitution:The court emphasized that while deciding disqualification pleas, the Speaker must consider the constitution of the political party, which was submitted to the Election Commission (EC) with the consent of both factions.
- Split occurred later:The court clarified that the “split” in the party would no longer be a defense available to MLAs facing disqualification.
(3) Governor’s Role
- Issue over floor test circumstances:The court criticized the then Governor for calling a floor test without sufficient objective material to show that the incumbent government had lost the confidence of the House.
- Must remain politically neutral:The court stated that the Governor should exercise their power within the limits of the law and should not enter the political arena nor interfere in intra-party disputes.
(4) Former CM Resignation
- Should have faced floor test:The court mentioned that erstwhile CM of tripartite government, who led one of the factions, had resigned and did not face the floor test.
- Re-instation was possible:The court held that it could not quash a resignation submitted voluntarily, but if ex-CM had refrained from resigning, the court could have considered a remedy to reinstate his government.
(5) Illegal Appointment of Whip
- The court deemed the appointment of the whip by the split-led faction to be illegal.
- The Speaker should have conducted an independent inquiry to verify the decision of the political party regarding the appointment of the whip.
(6) Distinction between Legislature Party and Political Party
- The court clarified that the legislature party and the political party cannot be conflated.
- The court stated that a political party must be registered with the Election Commission, while the legislature party has independent existence to provide defense to legislators’ actions within the political party.
(7) Concurrent Jurisdiction of Speaker and EC
- The court rejected the contention that the Election Commission was barred from deciding on the party symbol dispute until the Speaker decided the disqualification pleas.
- The court stated that both the Speaker and the EC can adjudicate issues concurrently.
- Nabam Rebia Case, 2016:Additionally, the court referred certain issues related to its judgment in the Nabam Rebia Case to a larger Bench.
- Restrictions on the ousted Speaker:This included the restriction of the Speaker’s powers in issuing disqualification notices to MLAs in the presence of a notice for the Speaker’s removal.
GS 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India
Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) –
The sixth edition of the International Indian Ocean Conference is scheduled to take place in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, starting from May 12. (Note: This should not be confused with Indian Ocean Commission.)
Indian Ocean Conference (IOC), 2023
- The IOC has been held annually since 2016 and has become a key platform for regional countries to discuss regional affairs.
- It focuses on fostering regional cooperation for Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), bringing together critical states and maritime partners in the region.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership for a Resilient Future,” focusing on the post-Covid situation and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
- The conference primarily targets coastal countries of the Indian Ocean but has expanded its scope to discuss important and relevant issues in the changing global context.
- Dignitaries attending the conference include the President of Mauritius, Vice President of Maldives, and the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
- Foreign Ministers from Bhutan, Nepal, Bahrain, and Singapore, along with ministerial representatives from Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar, will also participate.
- Around 150 foreign guests, including representatives from D8, SAARC, and BIMSTEC, are expected to attend.
The conference is being organized by the India Foundation in collaboration with the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Significance of the Indian Ocean Conference (IOC)
- The conference aims to strengthen partnerships with Indian Ocean countries, enhance regional political engagement, and facilitate decision-making in crisis situations.
- It provides an opportunity for participating countries to discuss ongoing global events and make informed decisions for future actions.
GS 1 : Salient features of Indian Society
Marriage and Reforms in India –
As the Supreme Court examines the case for expanding the definition of marriage, it becomes evident that legal rights do not automatically translate into social acceptance. The discussion revolves around whether laws should reflect existing societal morality or push the envelope by making unions possible despite lacking social approval.
Historical Context and Parliamentary Debates –
- During the parliamentary debate on the Special Marriage Bill, former Member of Parliament Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit advocated for the right to choose one’s partner. She foresaw that while the law may not have immediate takers, an emancipated next generation would demand this right.
- Many women representatives believed the proposed law would improve the lives of women. However, concerns were raised about potential societal collapse and the proliferation of sexual desires, with even brief references to queer unions accompanied by homophobic remarks
Challenges to Marriage Reform –
- Societal Resistance:One of the primary challenges to marriage reform is societal resistance rooted in deeply ingrained cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs. Changes to the institution of marriage are often met with resistance from those who fear the erosion of traditional values or view such reforms as a threat to established social norms.
- Conservative Opposition:Conservative groups and individuals, driven by their ideological and religious beliefs, often vehemently oppose any modifications to the existing definition of marriage. They argue that altering the definition undermines the sanctity of marriage and may have far-reaching consequences for societal stability.
- Lack of Political Consensus:Achieving political consensus on marriage reform can be challenging due to divergent viewpoints among lawmakers. Political parties may have different ideological positions or may be wary of alienating their voter base, leading to a lack of consensus and delayed progress in enacting comprehensive reforms.
- Legal Complexities:Marriage reform often involves complex legal considerations, such as redefining legal frameworks, rights, and obligations associated with marriage. These complexities can pose challenges in drafting legislation that adequately addresses the concerns and rights of all stakeholders involved.
- Institutional Resistance:Institutional resistance, including within bureaucratic systems, can hinder marriage reform efforts. Bureaucratic processes and administrative hurdles may impede the smooth implementation of new laws or regulations related to marriage equality.
- Cultural and Religious Diversity:India’s diverse cultural and religious landscape presents challenges in enacting uniform marriage reforms. Different religious communities may have their own distinct laws and customs governing marriage, making it difficult to achieve consensus and uniformity across the country.
- Lack of Public Awareness and Education:Limited public awareness and understanding about the importance of marriage reform can impede progress. Education and awareness campaigns can help dispel misconceptions, challenge prejudices, and promote a more inclusive understanding of marriage.
- Legal Precedents and Interpretations:Existing legal precedents and interpretations can influence the trajectory of marriage reform. Courts’ interpretations of constitutional provisions and previous judgments may shape the scope and direction of reforms, posing challenges for those advocating for comprehensive changes.
Bureaucratic and vigilante challenges related to marriage reform –
- Bureaucratic Overreach:Bureaucratic challenges arise when officials, driven by personal biases or reflecting societal attitudes, go beyond their legal authority to obstruct or delay the implementation of marriage reform. This can include refusal to issue marriage licenses, unnecessary administrative hurdles, or arbitrary interpretations of existing laws that discriminate against certain individuals or couples.
- Denial of Recognition: Bureaucratic systems may withhold recognition and legitimacy from marriages that fall outside traditional norms, such as inter-caste, interfaith, or same-sex marriages. This denial can perpetuate societal inequalities and limit access to legal rights and protections that married couples should enjoy.
- Lack of Clarity in Legal Processes:The absence of clear guidelines or procedures for registering non-traditional marriages can create confusion and inconsistency in bureaucratic practices. This lack of clarity can lead to varying interpretations and implementation of the law, making it difficult for couples seeking marriage recognition.
- Vigilante Groups and Social Stigma:Vigilante groups, driven by societal prejudices and intolerance, may take it upon themselves to enforce their own version of social morality by intimidating or threatening individuals involved in non-traditional marriages. Such groups can use extra-judicial methods to prevent unions and impose social sanctions on couples, creating an environment of fear and insecurity.
- Exclusion and Discrimination:Bureaucratic and vigilante challenges can result in the exclusion and discrimination of individuals in non-traditional marriages. This can manifest in various forms, such as denial of legal rights, social ostracization, or lack of access to essential services and benefits that married couples typically enjoy.
- Privacy Violations:Bureaucratic processes and vigilante actions can infringe upon the privacy of individuals seeking non-traditional marriages. Public notice requirements or invasive inquiries into personal details can violate citizens’ right to privacy and subject them to unwarranted scrutiny and judgment.
What is the need of Reaffirming Rights and Transformations?
- Upholding Equality:Reaffirming rights and promoting transformations in marriage laws is essential for upholding the principle of equality. It ensures that all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, caste, or community, have equal access to the institution of marriage and the legal rights and protections associated with it.
- Recognizing Individual Autonomy:Marriage reform recognizes and respects the autonomy of individuals to choose their life partners based on their own free will and preferences. It shifts the focus from societal expectations and norms to the fundamental principle of individual agency in making personal decisions related to marriage.
- Overcoming Discrimination:Transforming marriage laws helps overcome discrimination and social biases that exist within the institution. It challenges societal prejudices based on gender, caste, and community, fostering a more inclusive and egalitarian society.
- Empowering Marginalized Communities:Reaffirming rights through marriage reform empowers marginalized communities, including the LGBTQI+ community, by granting them legal recognition, rights, and protections. It provides an opportunity for historically marginalized groups to claim their rightful place in society and have their relationships acknowledged and respected.
- Promoting Social Progress: Transformations in marriage laws contribute to broader social progress by challenging traditional norms and practices that perpetuate inequality and discrimination. It encourages a shift towards more inclusive and progressive attitudes, fostering a society that values diversity, individual choices, and human rights.
- Strengthening Constitutional Principles: Reaffirming rights and transformations in marriage laws align with constitutional principles of equality, non-discrimination, and individual freedoms. It strengthens the foundation of a democratic society by ensuring that laws and policies reflect the core values enshrined in the constitution.
- Encouraging Social Awareness and Acceptance:Marriage reform promotes social awareness and acceptance of diverse relationships and identities. It encourages dialogue, education, and engagement to challenge stereotypes and prejudices, fostering a more inclusive and tolerant society.
- Building a Foundation for Future Generations: Reaffirming rights and transformations in marriage laws builds a solid foundation for future generations. It sets a precedent for a society that values equality, individual autonomy, and social progress, ensuring a more inclusive and just society for generations to come.
Special Marriage Act?
- The Special Marriage Act is a law in India that allows individuals of different religions or nationalities to marry each other.
- It was enacted in 1954 and came into effect from 1955
- The Special Marriage Act allows for inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, and couples who register under this act are not required to change their religion or follow any religious rites or rituals.
- The act also provides for divorce on certain grounds and maintenance to the spouse and children.
The debate on marriage equality in India necessitates a delicate balance between laws and societal morality. As the Supreme Court deliberates on expanding the definition of marriage, it is crucial to recognize that legal rights and social acceptance do not always align. While opposition and resistance persist, the law should strive to improve the lives of marginalized communities and reaffirm the rights of the citizenry as a whole. By moving towards marriage equality, India can create a more inclusive society that upholds individual choice and recognizes diverse identities.