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14 December Current Affairs

Partners in Population and Development (PPD)

In News:

Inter-Ministerial Conference by Partners in Population and Development (PPD). India took part in it.

About PPD:

It is an intergovernmental organisation for promoting south-south cooperation in the fields of reproductive health, population, and development.

Its Secretariat is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Currently, PPD has the membership of 26 developing countries, representing more than 59% of the world’s population.

Launched at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), when ten developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America formed an intergovernmental alliance to help implement the Cairo Program of Action (POA).

This POA, endorsed by 179 nations, stresses the need to establish mechanisms to promote development through the sharing of experiences in reproductive health (RH) and family planning (FP) within and among countries and to promote effective partnerships among the governments, NGOs, research institutions and the private sector.

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

In News:

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) authorities have submitted to the Gauhati High Court an affidavit reportedly containing the details of “illegal foreigners” whose names had crept into the updated list of citizens released in 2019.

Background:

Some 19.06 lakh out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded from the complete draft NRC published on August 31, 2019. It was later found that some “ineligible people” — those without papers establishing their domicile in Assam before March 24, 1971 — had been included in the citizens’ list.

About NRC:

The NRC was created in 1951 to determine who was born in Assam and is therefore Indian, and who might be a migrant from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The demand for updating the NRC was first raised in 1980 during the anti-foreigners Assam agitation spearheaded by the All Assam Students’ Union.

A 2009 petition before the Supreme Court by the NGO Assam Public Works led to the updating exercise through a notification in December 2013.

IAF moves court against RTI disclosure

In News:

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has moved the Delhi High Court challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) direction to provide an RTI activist details regarding every foreign visit undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on lAF aircraft.

What’s the issue?

CIC had directed the Indian Air Force (IAF) to disclose details of the Prime Minister’s entourage under the RTI Act (Right to Information Act, 2005).

The IAF, in its plea, said the information sought to be disclosed was “extremely sensitive in nature” as it related to details of the Prime Minister’s security apparatus. It can potentially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India.

What information has been sought?

The information sought includes details related to the entire entourage, names of Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel accompanying the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on foreign tours for his personal safety.

Is there any exemption in this regard?

IAF says, the information sought is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a), 8(1)(e) & 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act.

Besides, SPG is explicitly exempted from the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005 by the virtue of section 24(1) read with the Schedule II of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Key Provisions:

Section 24of the RTI Act 2005 lays down that this law is not applicable to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule. However, the only exception these organisations have is for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

Second Schedule: It includes 26 intelligence and security agencies under its ambit. Some of them are (i) Intelligence Bureau (IB), (ii) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (iii) Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), (iv) Special Frontier Force (SFF), (v) Border Security Force (BSF) (vi) National Security Guards (NSG) and (Vii) Assam Rifles.

Section 8 of the RTI: It deals with exemption from disclosure of information under this legislation. As per this section there shall be no obligation on Government to provide any citizen information, disclosure which will affect (i) India’s sovereignty and integrity, (ii) security, (iii) strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state and (iv) relations with foreign States or (v) will lead to incitement of an offence.

Quad is U.S. anti-China game: Russia

In News:

Russia has called the four-nation quadrilateral strategic dialogue or Quad as a “devious policy” by western powers to engage India in “anti-China games”.

What’s the issue?

It expressed concerns about the U.S. Indo-Pacific policy and criticised the Quad. Also, for the first time it has suggested that India-Russia ties could be affected by it.

What are Russia’s concerns?

India has become an object of the western countries’ persistent, aggressive and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called “Quad”.

At the same time the West is attempting to undermine Russia’s close partnership and privileged relations with India. This is the goal of the U.S.’s very tough pressure on New Delhi in the MTC [military and technical cooperation] area.

The incoming Biden administration is also expected to press harder on India against its purchase of the S-400 anti-missile system from Russia, which could attract U.S. sanctions.

Overall, the U.S. and European countries are trying to “restore” the unipolar model with U.S. leadership.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

Genesis:

The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.

Significance of the grouping:

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.

Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

What are China’s views on the Quad?

There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.

Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.

Why there is a need for formalisation?

Despite renewed efforts, the QUAD has faced criticism over its lack of formal structure. There have been calls for institutionalisation, a formal agreement to transform the group into a formidable anti-China bloc.

A lot has changed over the years. Each member state has faced the heat of China’s increased aggression.

China has grown in might and influence and is keen on picking up fights.

After attempting to influence Australia’s domestic policies, it slapped punitive tariffs on the country.

It is engaged in what has become a routine border confrontation with India.

China has flared up territorial disputes with Japan with regards to the Senkaku Islands and is battling a fully-fledged trade war with the United States.