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GS Paper II –International Relations

Rohingya refugees to be relocated on remote island

What’s Happening-
Bangladeshi authorities have decided to relocate thousands of Myanmar refugees to a thinly populated island in the Bay of Bengal to avoid adverse socioeconomic impacts in the mainland.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The Rohingya refugees, including those who moved into the country from Myanmar in the recent months, would be relocated from Cox’s Bazar district to Thengar Char, an island in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Thengar Char is about 30,000 hectares in area and more than 37 miles from the mainland.

Living in different camps:

  • Rohingyas are currently living in different camps in Cox’s Bazar including Nayapara, Leda and Kutupalang — apart from other parts of the country.
  • Officially disclosing the plan for the first time, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmud Ali told the diplomatic community based in Dhaka, including top officials of the UN agencies, that the country needs international support to provide “assistance in developing the island and in transporting the refugees to the new place”.
  • Some refugees are being moved against their will and that the place chosen for relocation was uninhabitable and prone to floods.
  • According to the government, over 4,00,000 Myanmar nationals, including the recently-arrived 69,000, are now living in Cox’s Bazar after fleeing military persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Government New Problems:

  • Networks” of human trafficking and narcotic drag smuggling have emerged in the Cox’s Bazar region due to the “vulnerable” nature of this refugee population.

Background-
The  are a  minority group residing in the Rakhine state, formerly known as Arakan.
The Rohingya people are considered “stateless entities”, as the  has been refusing to recognise them as one of the ethnic groups of the country.
Rohingya people lack legal protection from the Government of Myanmar, are regarded as mere refugees from , and face strong hostility in the country.
To escape the dire situation in Myanmar, the Rohingya try to illegally enter Southeast Asian states, begging for humanitarian support from potential host countries.
The 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis refers to the  of thousands of  from  and   in 2015, collectively dubbed “boat people” by international media. Nearly all who fled traveled to  countries by boats via the waters of the  and the .

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.

GS Paper II – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Arsenic-tainted drinking water in 66,663 habitations, Centre tells Rajya Sabha

What’s Happening-
Drinking water in about 66,700 habitations across the country is affected due to the presence of arsenic and fluorides, the government.
Main Issue:
Untreated water was being provided for drinking purposes

Key Points discussed were:

Narendra Singh Tomar said in the Rajya Sabha-

  • Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  • There are 66,663 areas where drinking water is affected due to the presence of arsenic and fluorides.
  • Maintaining that government was working to provide safe, clean drinking water and has evolved various schemes in this regard.
  • He said piped drinking water would be provided to homes of 80% population in the country by 2022.

‘₹20,000 crore spent to provide clean drinking water’

  • The Minister said the Centre has evolved a special scheme for States where mining takes place and said the Niti Ayog has provided special funds to the tune of ₹800 crores for improving drinking water in various States.
  • “Special assistance of ₹100 crores each has also been provided to West Bengal and Rajasthan, which are the most affected States due to fluorides and arsenic and the government is working towards removing them.
  • As there are pockets in some other States as well, a special scheme of ₹25,000 crores has been evolved, of which ₹1,250 has been earmarked for this year and ₹760 crores already released to States to ensure that clean drinking water is provided to the people.
  • Mr. Tamar said small improvements like installation of 9,113 clean drinking water stations to provide drinkable water in different parts of the country and provision of 1,000 litres of RO water each day in one lakh schools have been undertaken and a sum of ₹20,000 crores has been spent on this.

Background-
Drinking water is a State subject and the Centre supplemented the States’ efforts by providing them with technical and financial assistance through centrally-sponsored National Rural Drinking Water programme and other programmes.

GS Paper III – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning

Ministries, sectoral regulators to screen FDI proposals

What’s Happening-
The applications — on foreign direct investment (FDI) in India in sectors under the approval route — considered by the inter-ministerial Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) will soon be taken up by the concerned ministries and sectoral regulators, according to Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Key Points discussed were:

  • The Centre had, in the Budget 2017-18, proposed that the FIPB — which offered a single window clearance mechanism for FDI applications in sectors under the approval route – will be abolished in FY’18.
  • More than 92% of the FDI inflows were through the automatic route. “For the rest of the FDI (about 8% of the total FDI inflows), every department concerned has a framework or a regulator for it. 

Maximum governance:

Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said

  • “In keeping in line with the government’s policy of maximum governance and minimum government, we have taken the FIPB to the logical conclusion, which was to wind it up. The whole idea was to make doing business in India easier. Now that majority of the investments coming in are through the automatic route, a superfluous or an additional layer in the form of FIPB is not any longer required.”
  • Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) — the nodal agency on FDI issues – told reporters, “The government doesn’t make any policy or take a policy decision for a particular company. When a decision is taken, it will be applicable for everyone. It will be good for the sector.”
  • On January 25, a high-level panel — including officials from the Departments of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Commerce and Revenue — had heard out Apple’s demands including tax and duty concessions to help it go ahead with its ‘Make In India’ plans.

Background-
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was a national agency of , with the remit to consider and recommend   (FDI) which does not come under the automatic route.
FIPB acted as a single window clearance for proposals on  (FDI) in India.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was housed in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
FIPB was abolished on 24 May 2017, as announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during 2017-2018 budget speech in Lok Sabha.
In FY’18 Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said: “We have now reached a stage where FIPB can be phased out. We have therefore decided to abolish the FIPB in 2017-18.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 11