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3rd January Current Affairs

Draft national air sports policy

(GS-II: Government Policies and associated issues)

In News:

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.

Need for:

The aerosports industry has expressed its displeasure that the government was not doing enough to encourage aero sports in the country despite the fact that there is a tremendous potential in the country keeping in view the diverse scenic locales.

Aerosports create significant opportunities for growth of tourism, employment generation and interest in aviation activities.

A growth-oriented NASP may help attract investments in latest aerosports technology, infrastructure and best practices.

Hamas and Gaza Strip

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

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.

Present scenario:

Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.

Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The US is one of only a handful of countries to recognise Israel’s claim to the whole of the city.

What’s happening now?

Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian militant group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Israel and Egypt tightly control Gaza’s borders to stop weapons getting to Hamas.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they’re suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel say it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.

Things have escalated since the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, with nightly clashes between police and Palestinians.

The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger.

Census and NPR

(GS-I: Population and Related Issues)

In News:

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.

Census:

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.

Who conducts census?

The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

The Census is one of the most credible sources of information on the following:

  • Economic Activity.
  • Literacy and Education.
  • Housing & Household Amenities.
  • Urbanization, Fertility, and Mortality.
  • Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Historical Significance:

‘Rig-Veda‘ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained during 800-600 BC in India.

Arthashastra by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.

During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari‘ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.

How is NPR different from Census?

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country and it is “mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.”

While similar data is collected through Census, according to Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948, all individual level information collected in Census is confidential and “only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”

The NPR was first compiled in 2010 and updated in 2015 and it already has a database of 119 crore residents.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

Criticisms surrounding NPR:

Many Opposition-ruled States have opposed the updation of the NPR due to its link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

According to Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003, NPR is the first step towards compilation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.

China’s border law and India

(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)

In News:

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.

What impact can it have on India-China relations?

Much depends on China’s actions, regardless of the new law.

Some experts feel the new law will make China dig its heels in, on the ongoing standoff as well as for resolution of the larger boundary issue.

Others feel the new law is only a tool China government will use if it wants, as its actions have been aggressive even before this law.

Overall, the new law is the “latest attempt by China to unilaterally delineate and demarcate territorial boundaries with India and Bhutan”.

Concerns and challenges ahead:

The border standoff in eastern Ladakh remains unresolved.

China has renamed several places in Arunachal Pradesh as part of its claim on the Indian state.

The Chinese Embassy in Delhi has written to Indian MPs, including a minister, who had attended a dinner reception hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.