Revoking Ashok Swain OCI Status
Why in news?
- In a significant development, the Delhi High Court has overturned an order issued by the Indian Embassy in Sweden and Latvia, revoking the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status of renowned professor Ashok Swain.
- The court emphasized that the revocation order failed to provide any substantial reasons for its decision, citing a generic reference to Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act.
- Justice Subramonium Prasad, presiding over the single-judge bench, directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, and the embassy to provide a detailed explanation for exercising their power under the mentioned section within three weeks.
- Professor Ashok Swain, based in Sweden, had his OCI status revoked on February 8, 2022, by the Indian Embassy.
- The embassy justified its action by claiming that Swain was engaging in activities detrimental to India’s sovereignty and integrity, national security, and friendly relationships with foreign countries.
- However, the court found the order to be deficient in providing explicit reasons justifying the cancellation of Swain’s OCI card.
Court’s Ruling and Directives
- Justice Prasad, in his observation, pointed out that the embassy’s order merely repeated the section of the Citizenship Act without providing any substantive justification for the revocation.
- Consequently, the court set aside the impugned order and directed the concerned authorities to issue a detailed order explicitly elucidating the reasons for exercising their power under Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act.
- The court emphasized the importance of a thorough examination and reasoned decision-making process.
Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)
- Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is a status granted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- It applies to individuals who were citizens of India on or after January 26, 1950, or eligible for citizenship on that date.
- OCI cardholders enjoy benefits such as multiple entries to India, a lifelong visa, exemption from FRRO registration, and access to special immigration counters at airports.
- They can open special bank accounts, purchase non-farm property, and apply for a PAN card.
- However, they have limitations, including no voting rights, government job eligibility, or purchase of agricultural land.
- The Constitution empowers Parliament to enact laws on citizenship, leading to the Citizenship Act of 1955, later amended in 2015.
- Applicants for OCI cards are ineligible if they, their parents, or grandparents have held citizenship of Pakistan or Bangladesh, as per Section 7A of the OCI card rules.
- The purpose of Section 7(D)(e) of the Citizenship Act is to revoke the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status.
Swain’s Academic Credentials
- Swain’s plea contended that the embassy’s notice, received on October 6, 2020, barred his OCI card on the grounds of alleged involvement in anti-India activities.
- The petitioner highlighted that the notice lacked specific materials to substantiate the allegations made against him, further underscoring the need for a more thorough examination and justification for the revocation.
- Swain’s counsel emphasized the academic stature of his client, highlighting that he holds the prestigious position of UNESCO Chair on International Water Cooperation since 2007.
- Additionally, Swain serves as a professor and heads the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden.
- The petitioner was granted the OCI card on January 14, 2020, prior to the revocation.
GS PAPER – II
Solomon Islands and China
Why in the News?
Solomon Islands and China sign agreements on police, economy, and technology, intensifying their relationship and raising concerns about Beijing’s influence in the South Pacific.
- In a significant development, the Solomon Islands and China have strengthened their ties through the signing of agreements on police cooperation, economic collaboration, and technical support.
- The meeting between Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Chinese leaders Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang aims to further enhance relations between the two nations.
- During their meeting, Chinese leader Xi Jinping expressed Beijing’s intention to expand relations and trade through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative aims to develop ports and other infrastructures across Asia and Africa, connecting the Pacific region with these continents.
- This deepening alliance has raised concerns among Washington and Australia regarding China’s growing influence in the South Pacific region.
China’s Success in the South Pacific
- The Solomon Islands, located northeast of Australia, has become China’s most prominent achievement in its efforts to expand its presence in the South Pacific.
- In 2019, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sogavare, the government officially switched its recognition from Taiwan to Beijing, which is claimed by the ruling Communist Party of China as part of its territory.
- The Solomon Islands had previously signed a secretive security agreement with Beijing, fueling speculation about potential Chinese military presence in the South Pacific.
- However, Prime Minister Sogavare firmly rejected suggestions that his government would allow Beijing to establish a foothold in the region, seeking to allay concerns about compromising regional security.
The Solomon Islands
- The Solomon Islands are located in the South Pacific, east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia. Spanning over 1,500 kilometers, they consist of six major islands and numerous smaller islands and atolls.
- The six main islands, including Guadalcanal, Malaita, Makira, Choiseul, Santa Isabel, and New Georgia.
- The archipelago features rugged mountains, dense rainforests, fertile valleys, and stunning coastal scenery with pristine beaches and dramatic cliffs.
- It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.
- The climate is tropical, with high humidity and consistent temperatures throughout the year.
The signing of agreements between the Solomon Islands and China underscores the deepening ties between the two nations. While the Solomon Islands’ shift in recognition to Beijing has triggered concerns about China’s regional influence, the government has emphasized its commitment to maintaining regional security. The evolving relationship will continue to be closely watched by regional and international stakeholders, given the broader geopolitical dynamics at play in the South Pacific.
GS PAPER – III
SEBI Highlights Challenges in FPI Regulations
Why in the News?
SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) acknowledges the difficulties in identifying beneficial owners of Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) due to opaque structures and jurisdictional ambiguity. The regulatory changes made by Sebi have tightened disclosure requirements for FPIs, but tax havens pose a global challenge.
- SEBI has addressed the challenges it faces in uncovering the true beneficial owners of FPIs, citing obstacles related to entities controlling FPIs in jurisdictions that lack clarity on economic interests versus control.
- The repeal of provisions on “opaque structures” in 2019 was identified by an expert committee as contributing to these difficulties.
- Tax havens present a global challenge in identifying entities with economic interests in FPIs but no obvious control.
SEBI’s Efforts and Disclosure Requirements
- Sebi has implemented regulatory changes, including tighter disclosure requirements for beneficial owners (BOs) of FPIs.
- However, entities with economic interests in FPIs based in certain jurisdictions may only require identification based on control or ownership under the equivalent regulations, creating complexities in identifying the actual investing constituents.
Concerns Raised by FATF and Expert Committee
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has identified the challenges posed by tax havens as a global issue.
- SEBI ‘s affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court highlights the need for mandatory disclosure of all BOs by FPIs.
- In the absence of a natural person as the BO, a Senior Managing Official (SMO) is identified. This issue is further complicated when investments are spread across multiple FPIs.
- Sebi emphasizes that if a scheme to circumvent regulations is identified, a long-standing relationship can support allegations of violation. Enforcement actions are based on the extant law rather than subsequent amendments.
- SEBI cannot assail past transactions that were made when certain provisions were not in force. The expert committee had raised concerns about burdening an arm’s length business relationship as an RPT (related party transaction).
- Sebi differs from the expert committee’s recommendations regarding the stipulation of specific timelines for investigations and proceedings.
- The regulator argues that factors such as case complexity and information availability influence the investigation’s duration. Prescribing timelines may compromise the quality of investigation and increase litigation.
Sebi’s acknowledgement of challenges in FPI regulations, particularly related to tax havens, underscores the need for greater transparency in identifying beneficial owners. The regulatory landscape and investigation timelines are subjects of ongoing discussions, ensuring effective enforcement and compliance within the Indian securities market.
GS PAPER – III
Majorana Zero Modes
Why in news?
In a recent publication, Microsoft researchers announced a breakthrough in creating Majorana zero modes, a type of particle with unique properties that could have significant implications for quantum computing. Majorana zero modes have the potential to enhance the stability and computational power of quantum computers.
Microsoft’s Recent Breakthrough: Microsoft researchers have engineered a topological superconductor using an aluminium superconductor and an indium arsenide semiconductor. Through measurements and simulations, they demonstrated a high probability of hosting Majorana zero modes in the device. The researchers applied a stringent protocol known as the topological gap protocol to support their findings.
- All subatomic particles that make up matter are known as fermions.
- In 1937, physicist Ettore Majorana discovered that certain fermions can exist as their own antiparticles, leading to the naming of such fermions as Majorana fermions.
- Majorana zero modes refer to bound states of these fermions that exhibit specific characteristics.
Key Role in Quantum Computing
- Majorana zero modes can be utilized in topological quantum computing, a powerful form of computing.
- Quantum computers rely on qubits, and Majorana zero modes can serve as highly stable qubits due to their unique properties.
- They allow for the protection of encoded information, even when the constituent entities are separated.
Topological Protection and Advantages
- Majorana zero modes offer topological protection, where information is safeguarded due to topological degeneracy.
- This means that multiple states can exist at the lowest energy level, allowing for the recovery of encoded information from different states.
- Furthermore, Majorana zero modes possess non-Abelian statistics, enabling additional degrees of freedom in quantum algorithms.
Challenges in Observation
- Creating and confirming the presence of Majorana zero modes pose challenges.
- These particles are inferred indirectly from their effects on the surrounding material.
- Indications such as the presence of a zero-bias conductance peak have been suggested but later found to be inconclusive.
While this advancement by Microsoft researchers is promising, the existence of Majorana fermions and their practical application in quantum computing is still subject to independent confirmation and further improvement in simulation, growth, fabrication, and measurement capabilities.