Migrants should not be prosecuted

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The Supreme Court has said that migrant workers should not be prosecuted for trying to reach home amid the national lockdown. The court passed the order after Suo motu taking cognizance of the migrant workers’ exodus.

Key Details:

  • A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan directed the Centre and the States to withdraw any complaint or prosecution lodged against migrant labourers, under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, who had set out on foot from big cities for their native villages to escape starvation, unemployment and disease during the pandemic.
  • The court said “society as a whole was moved by their miseries and difficulties”.
  • The Bench also ordered the States and the UTs to bring the stranded migrant workers home within the next 15 days.
  • It ordered the Railways to provide the States with more Shramik Special trains to transport migrant workers.
  • The Bench directed that counselling centres should be set up to reach out to them and explain the various schemes framed for their rehabilitation and employment.
  • The States and UTs were directed to conduct extensive skill-mapping of the returned workers.
  • In a report to the government criticism of High Courts running a “parallel government” with their orders on migrants, the Supreme court said that the High Courts, as constitutional courts, were well within their jurisdiction to take cognizance of the violation of fundamental rights of the migrant workers and there is no doubt that those proceedings would proceed.

Centre to take stock of Krishna and Godavari water utilization

Paper:  II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The Union Government is going to take stock of water utilization from the Krishna and Godavari rivers following Telangana and Andhra Pradesh filing complaints against each other.

Key Details:

  • At a video-conference, Secretary, Department of Water Resources, Union Ministry of Jal Sakthi, asked the Chairpersons of the Krishna and Godavari River Management Boards to procure the details of the irrigation projects in Maharashtra and Karnataka, too, and submit them to the Centre.
  • The main objective of the exercise appears to be to assess whether surplus water will be available for the new projects in the light of the disputes.
  • Information about the projects that Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had on the two rivers was also sought.

Issue:

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana share stretches of the Krishna and the Godavari and own their tributaries.
  • They have embarked on several new projects without getting clearance from the river boards, the Central Water Commission and the apex council comprising the Union Water Resources Minister and the Chief Ministers, as mandated by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.
  • While the Godavari discharges over 3,000 tmc ft into the sea, the Krishna has almost dried up, with Maharashtra and Karnataka taking up large projects.
  • Telangana has also taken up several projects on the Krishna and the Godavari.

Cross-party backing in Nepal for new map

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

  • The Lower House of Nepal’s Parliament has expressed cross-party support for the new map which shows the disputed Kalapani region as part of Nepalese sovereign territory.
  • During the discussion on the Second Constitution Amendment Bill, which will grant legal status to the updated map, Nepal’s Foreign Minister said India has undermined Nepal’s sovereignty by building the Lipulekh link road in the area.

Background

  • In November 2019, India released fresh maps of the then newly created Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, along with a map of India depicting these UTs.
  • In the maps, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was part of Jammu and Kashmir, while Gilgit-Baltistan was included in Ladakh.
  • The new map showed Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as part of Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand state.
  • Nepal government lodged a protest against the inclusion of Kalapani area in India’s far west, claiming it as Nepalese territory.
  • Kalapani, they claimed, was a part of the Darchula district of Nepal, while the Indian map placed it under the Pithoragarh district in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • Nepal’s cabinet endorsed a new political map of that country that showed Kalapani and Lipulekh as part of Dharchula district of Nepal.

Sugauli Treaty of 1816

Before the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej River in the West to the Teesta River in the East. Nepal lost the Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.

  • The Treaty of Sugauli established the boundary line of Nepal.
  • It was signed between the East India Company and King of Nepal following the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16.
  • The Treaty that brought the Anglo-Nepal war to an end demarcated the Mahakali River as the western boundary of Nepal. But it is the origin of this river that causes the dispute.

Nepal:

  • It claims that River Mahakali originates at Limpiyadhura, Northwest of Lipulekh, and flows southwest.
  • Thus, all the territories East of Kali (Mahakali) river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh, belong to Nepal.

India:

  • India says that Kali Ganga (as the Mahakali is called in Uttarakhand) originates in black water springs at Kalapani (which is how the area gets its name) well below the Lipulekh Pass and flows South and slightly East.

Historical References:

  • The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China. The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India.
  • Both the Rana rulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary and did not raise any objection with the government of India after India’s Independence.
  • As a reward for the military help rendered by Jung Bahadur Rana in controlling the 1857 uprising, the areas of Nepalgunj and Kapilvastu were restituted to Nepal soon thereafter. The British did not return any part of Garhwal or Kumaon, including the Kalapani area, to Nepal.
  • India’s present borders, not just with Nepal, but with many of its other neighbors, were drawn by the erstwhile British regime. India inherited the boundaries of British India. It cannot now unravel the historic past.

Nepal’s Diversion Tactics?

  • The controversy has given Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli an opportunity to hide his government’s incompetence and failure to meet the basic needs of the people, and to divert attention away from the rising tide of opposition from within his own party.

India, China agree to ease stand-off

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

Indian and Chinese troops began a partial disengagement from some of the stand-off points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, in the first sign of moving towards resolution of the month-long stand-off between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army.

Key Details:

  • The two countries are engaged in dialogue at military and diplomatic levels to ease the standoff.
  • However, major worries remain at the Pangong Tso (lake).
  • No mention was made of the situation at Naku La in Sikkim, where the stand-off continues, as the focus for these talks was the Ladakh situation.
  • Unlike the previously localized stand-offs, the current stand-offs have occurred at multiple points along the LAC, from Ladakh to Naku La in Sikkim.
  • There have been intrusions even at places where there has been no instance of a difference in perception of the LAC like the stand-off at Galwan Valley.

BEML’s internal data, staff email IDs hacked, leaked on dark web

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

In what is prima facie suspected to be an act of cyber terrorism from Pakistan, the official email ids of seven employees of an Indian Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) working in the defence industry were found to be hacked, and internal data dumped on the dark net.

Cyber terrorism:

  • When a threat of extortion or any kind of harm is being subjected towards a person, organization, group or state, it is known as the crime of Cyber Terrorism.
  • Generally, it includes well-planned attack strategies on the Government and corporate computer system.

Details:

  • The company targeted, BEML, previously known as Bharat Earth Movers Limited, is headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • BEML has several crucial business verticals such as defence products, high mobility vehicles, Indian railway products and Metro rail cars.
  • The leak was discovered by Cyble Inc, a global cyber intelligence agency.
  • Cyble said that the actor had targeted the part of the BEML website detailing about their Indigenization Levels, which seem to be a warning for the government of India that they would face in the near future for their actions.
  • The leaked data includes several email conversations, records, internal memos and invoices.

Way forward:

  • According to the officials, information contained in the files was non-classified and has no adverse impact for the company.
  • Vulnerabilities are being further analyzed and immediate action is being undertaken with regards to security posture and further steps are being planned to strengthen people level security awareness.
  • Steps are being taken on recommendations on the basis of internal review. A Cyber Security Audit is also being undertaken.

Govt. to review if private banks taking part in MSME revival

Paper: III

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

While public sector banks (PSBs) have started sanctioning loans under the credit guarantee scheme for micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), the government now wants to know if private lenders are also participating in the scheme.

Key Details:

  • The decision to review the performance of private sector lenders in the credit guarantee scheme comes amid tightening of credit norms by these banks in view of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, denting borrowers’ ability to service loans.
  • This is because the private sector banks have a significant exposure to MSME credit.
  • The total loan outstanding to the MSMEs is at ₹17.75 lakh crore.
  • Of this, India’s largest private lender, the HDFC Bank’s share is about 13%.
  • The balance is shared between other private lenders, PSBs and NBFCs.
  • The State Bank of India — the country’s largest lender — has a share of about 23% in MSME loans.
  • The issue was discussed during a meeting convened to review the status of the emergency credit line guarantee scheme (ECLGS) and extended partial credit guarantee scheme, according to a communication by the Finance Ministry to the PSBs.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme:

  • In May 2020, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, gave approval to enable additional funding of up to Rs. three lakh crores to eligible MSMEs and interested MUDRA borrowers by way of “Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme.”
  • Under the Scheme, 100% guarantee coverage is to be provided by National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) for additional funding of up to Rs. three lakh crores to eligible MSMEs and interested MUDRA borrowers, in the form of a Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility.
  • The Scheme would be applicable to all loans sanctioned under GECL Facility during the period from the date of announcement of the Scheme to 31.10.2020, or till an amount of Rs 3,00,000 crore is sanctioned under the GECL, whichever is earlier.
  • The Scheme aims at mitigating the economic distress being faced by MSMEs by providing them additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crores in the form of a fully guaranteed emergency credit line.
  • The entire funding provided under GECL shall be provided with a 100% credit guarantee by NCGTC to MLIs under ECLGS.
  • Tenor of loan under the scheme shall be four years with moratorium period of one year on the principal amount.

Objective of the Scheme:

The main objective of the Scheme is to provide an incentive to Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), i.e., Banks, Financial Institutions (FIs) and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) to increase access to, and enable availability of additional funding facility to MSME borrowers, in view of the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 crisis, by providing them 100 per cent guarantee for any losses suffered by them due to non-repayment of the GECL funding by borrowers.

Way forward:

  • While the RBI had cut the repo rate by 115 bps since March 2020, banks’ response to the cut has not been proportionate.
  • For the ₹3-lakh crore credit guarantee scheme to be successful, the private sector banks should also play an important role.
  • The Finance Minister also indicated that banks need to drop their lending rates to revive economic activity.