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4th January Current Affairs

AFSPA Extended in Nagaland

(GS-III: Internal Security)

In News:

The Konyak Civil Society Organizations, the guardian umbrella of organizations of the Konyaks, has slammed the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA).

Details:

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 has been extended in Nagaland for six months from 30th December 2021.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958:

A reincarnation of the British-era legislation that was enacted to quell the protests during the Quit India movement, the AFSPA was issued by way of four ordinances in 1947.

The ordinances were replaced by an Act in 1948 and the present law effective in the Northeast was introduced in Parliament in 1958 by the then Home Minister, G.B. Pant.

It was known initially as the Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958.

After the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland came into being, the Act was adapted to apply to these States as well.

About:

The ASFPA gives unfettered powers to the armed forces and the Central armed police forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law and arrest and search any premises without a warrant and with protection from prosecution and legal suits.

The law first came into effect in 1958 to deal with the uprising in the Naga Hills, followed by the insurgency in Assam.

Disturbed Areas:

The Act was amended in 1972 and the powers to declare an area as “disturbed” were conferred concurrently upon the Central government along with the States.

Currently, the Union Home Ministry issues periodic “disturbed area” notification to extend AFSPA only for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The notification for Manipur and Assam is issued by the State governments.

Tripura revoked the Act in 2015 and Meghalaya was under AFSPA for 27 years, until it was revoked by the MHA from 1st April 2018.

The Act was implemented in a 20-km area along the border with Assam.

Jammu and Kashmir has a separate J&K Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990.

Recommendations of Jeevan Reddy Committee:

In November 2004, the Central government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy to review the provisions of the act in the northeastern states.

The committee recommended that:

AFSPA should be repealed and appropriate provisions should be inserted in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967

The Unlawful Activities Act should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and paramilitary forces and Grievance cells should be set up in each district where the armed forces are deployed.

Second ARC Recommendation: The 5th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) on public order has also recommended the repeal of the AFSPA. However, these recommendations have not been implemented.

Pledge to Stop Nuclear Proliferation

(GS-II: International Relations)

In News:

Recently, the Five permanent United Nations Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the U.K. and US) pledged to prevent atomic weapons spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict.

Background:

The pledge was made in a rare joint statement ahead of a review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 1970.

The statement comes as tensions between Russia and the US have reached heights rarely seen since the Cold War over a troop build-up by Russia close to the Ukrainian border.

The statement also comes as the world powers seek to reach agreement with Iran on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) 2015 over its controversial nuclear drive, which was rendered dying by the US walking out of the accord in 2018.

Details:

The Pledge:

The further spread of such weapons must be prevented. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

The avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.

Nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.

They intend to maintain and further strengthen their national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons.

China’s Stand:

It raised concerns that tensions with the US could lead to conflict, notably over the island of Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

Russia’s Stand:

Russia welcomed the declaration by the atomic powers and expressed hope it would reduce global tensions.

Non-Proliferation Treaty:

The NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament.

The treaty was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. Presently, it has 190 member states.

India is not a member.

It requires countries to give up any present or future plans to build nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.

Nuclear-weapon states parties under the NPT are defined as those that manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive devices before 1st January, 1967.

India’s Stand:

India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew later, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.

India always considered the NPT as discriminatory and had refused to sign it.

India has opposed the international treaties aimed at non-proliferation since they were selectively applicable to the non-nuclear powers and legitimised the monopoly of the five nuclear weapons powers.

Govt Policies of 2021 To Help Boost EV Adoption

(GS-III: Infrastructure- Roadways)

In News:

In a thrust towards incentivising new age technologies and fulfil the pledged taken at COP26 to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by the year 2070, India is aggressively promoting the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Aim:

India aims to switch 30 percent of private cars, 70 percent of commercial vehicles, and 80 percent of two and three-wheelers to EV by the year 2030.

Details:

For this, both Central and state governments are offering various incentives to buyers and manufacturers. Various measures undertaken include:

PLI Scheme For Auto Sector: In September this year, the Union Cabinet approved a Rs 26,058 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to accelerate domestic manufacturing of electric and fuel cell vehicles and drones in India.

FAME II Amendment: Under FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles-II) scheme, the government significantly reduced the price gap between petrol-powered two-wheelers and electric ones by increasing the subsidy rate for electric two-wheelers.

Scrappage Policy: In August this year, the government launched the Vehicle Scrappage Policy virtually at the Gujarat Investor Summit. The policy aims to phase out unfit and polluting vehicles in an environment-friendly manner.

Along with Centre, state governments are also leaving no stone unturned to promote faster adoption of EVs in India. To increase penetration and adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), governments of around 20 states in India, including Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have already come up with either a draft or final state level EV policies.

Challenges ahead:

The Indian electric vehicle (EV) market currently has one of the lowest penetration rates in the world.

Capital costs are high and the payoff is uncertain.

The Indian EV industry has been hit hard due to rupee’s dramatic depreciation in recent months.

Local production of inputs for EVs is at just about 35% of total input production.

The production will be severely affected in terms of production costs.

The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (Fame) framework has been extended repeatedly.

An uncertain policy environment and the lack of supporting infrastructure are major roadblocks.

India does not have any known reserves of lithium and cobalt, which makes it dependent on imports of lithium-ion batteries from Japan and China.

Need of the hour:

For EVs to contribute effectively, we need commensurate efforts in developing an entire ecosystem.

Need to shift the focus from subsidizing vehicles to subsidizing batteries because batteries make up 50% of EV costs.

Increasing focus on incentivizing electric two-wheelers because two-wheelers account for 76% of the vehicles in the country and consume most of the fuel.

A wide network of charging stations is imminent for attracting investment.

Work places in tech parks, Public bus depots, and Multiplexes are the potential places where charging points could be installed. In Bangalore, some malls have charging points in parking lots.

Corporates could invest in charging stations as Corporate Social Responsibility compliances.

Acquiring lithium fields in Bolivia, Australia, and Chile could become as important as buying oil fields as India needs raw material to make batteries for electric vehicles.