1.Back on track (The Hindu)

2.National Nutrition Strategy (The Economic times, News on Air)

3.There is a Rohingya in all of us (The Hindu)

1.Back on track (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue on the BRICS summit which gave India and China opportunities to address their bilateral issues in a sustainable way. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Looking beyond the Doklam crisis, India and China on BRICS summit decided to open a new “forward looking” round of engagement, anchored by fresh mechanisms to ensure calm at the borders and proposing a revival of the ‘Panchsheel principles’ of peaceful cooperation, Indian Prime Minister and Chinese President have signalled they are trying to put the bitterness of the past few months behind them.
  • A closure of the Doklam crisis has opened a fresh round of calibrated bonding between the two countries and the Xiamen summit is becoming a turning point in the positive trend in Sino-Indian relations.  It is imperative that the gains of the BRICS summit in terms of the India-China bilateral atmospherics are optimised.

BRICS Summit- a fresh start

  • India and China are looking for new mechanisms to strengthen the border defence agreements that have held in the past. It is also significant that both countries expressed similar views about resisting economic protectionism of the kind that the U.S. government has been espousing-the BRICS countries have together committed to an “open and inclusive” multilateral trading system.
  • China’s nod to the inclusion of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed among the terrorist groups threatening regional stability along with other international terror groups such as Taliban, ISS and Al-Qaida and China choosing not to speak about the contentious Belt and Road Initiative at the summit suggested it was heeding India’s concerns.
  • Analysts say the BRICS position underscores a shift in China’s position, on hyphenating its ties with India with its relationship with Pakistan. In the past, Beijing has repeatedly asked for a “technical hold” in designating the head of Pakistan based JeM as in international terrorist in the United Nations Security Council committee a move that seemed to reflect its special ties with Islamabad.
  • There are other factors that may have shaped Chinese decision-making process is Russian influence over Beijing to keep BRICS spirit intact and rising anti-China sentiments in India during Doklam episode.
  • According to the Xiamen declaration “those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable.” It adds that fighting terrorism is primarily the role of the state. “Recalling the primary leading role and responsibility of states in preventing and countering terrorism, it stresses the necessity to develop international cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, including that of sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs”.
  • China was also concerned about Islamist influence spilling over from Pakistan and Afghanistan into its far-western Xinjiang region, where some members of a Muslim minority chafe at Chinese Communist Party rule.
  • However Pakistan finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially after being repeatedly criticised for offering a safe haven to terrorists by US. Pakistan rejected the BRICS Declaration, which named and shamed terrorist groups operating from its soil.

Way ahead

  • Stepping up the combat against global terrorism further at the international level, India is now planning to hold a global conference on countering radicalisation. Converging on counterterrorism, India and China are taking a big confidence building step especially in the context of the recent military tensions at the Doklam plateau.
  • China had also highlighted the urgency of avoiding “confrontation” as the security template for the five emerging economies, which are setting course on the second decade of their collaboration. There is need that BRICS grouping must uphold the value of diplomacy to resolve “hotspot issues”.

Question– Explain the importance of BRICS to act as a platform to mend border disputes of India and China.

2.National Nutrition Strategy (The Economic times, News on Air)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the government action plan ‘National Nutrition Strategy’ for “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • In India 20 per cent of children under five years of age suffer from wasting due to acute under-nutrition and it pays an income penalty of 9 to 10 per cent due to a workforce that was stunted during their childhood, there is a lack of real time measurement of these determinants, which reduces the capacity for targeted action among the most vulnerable mothers and children.
  • A high-level panel under Niti Aayog has drawn up a 10-point nutrition action plan that includes governance reforms in line with Prime Minister’s vision for “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”.
  • It intends at bringing nutrition to the centre-stage of the National Development Agenda. The strategy lays down a road-map for targeted action to address India’s nutritional needs, among both implementers and practitioners, in achieving our nutrition objectives.

The National Nutrition Strategy

  • The National Nutrition Strategy aims at ensuring every child, adolescent girl and woman attains optimal nutritional status by 2022.
  • ‘The National Nutrition Strategy’ will focus on governance reforms, convergence of state-district implementation programmes, counselling and community-based monitoring to significantly reduce undernourishment in the country.
  • The aim is ensure that states create customised state-district action plans to address local needs and challenges. The strategy enables states to make strategic choices through decentralised planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes.
  • The nutrition strategy envisages a framework under which the four proximate determinants of nutrition uptake of health services, food, drinking water and sanitation and income and livelihoods work together to accelerate decline of under-nutrition in India.
  • The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat which will be linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. The aim is to ensure states create customised State and District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with states to prioritise focused interventions with a greater role for Panchayats and urban local bodies.
  • The strategy enables states to make strategic choices, through decentralised planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes. The Integrated Child Development Services Mission would be expanded to form a National Nutrition Mission along the lines of National Health Mission under the Ministry Of Women and Child Development (WCD), as per the strategy document.
  • There are three types of nutrition deficiencies- Undernutrition, Malnutrition and Protein Hunger that needed to be looked at in totality. This strategy gives prominence to demand and community mobilisation as a key determinant to address India’s nutritional needs.

Way forward

  • In India around 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight. 72% of infants and 52% of married women have anaemia. Research also shows that malnutrition during pregnancy causes the child to have increased risk of future diseases, physical retardation, and reduced cognitive abilities. Malnutrition among children has been “India’s biggest governance failure.
  • The National nutrition strategy will be step in the right direction as it will create customised district specific action plans with greater role for rural and urban local bodies. The focus will be on decentralised planning and local innovation, and nutrition outcomes will be monitored by the think tank.

Question–  India face a huge burden of hidden hunger. How National nutrition mission can hwlp in this regard?

3.There is a Rohingya in all of us (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of Government decision to deport Rohingyas people.

(GS paper II)

Overview

  • Rejected by the country they were born in and shunned by the neighbouring states, the Rohingya are among the most vulnerable amongst forcibly displaced groups.
  • Recently the Minister of State for Home Affairs informed the Parliament that of an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in India are illegal immigrants, even those registered with the UN refugee agency, and the government aims to deport them. The Supreme Court has also refused to revise its stand on deporting Rohingya immigrants in India.

Who are Rohingya?

  • Rohingya are an ethnic group, largely comprising Muslims, who predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine. They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language.
  • Though they have been living in the South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during the Colonial rule. So, it has not granted Rohingyas full citizenship.
  • According the 1982 Burmese citizenship law, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in the country prior to 1823. Else, they are classified as “resident foreigners” or as “associate citizens” (even if one of the parents is a Myanmar citizen). Since they are not citizens, they are not entitled to be part of civil service. Their movements are also restricted within the Rakhine state.
  • They are the world’s most persecuted minority. They are Muslims, belonging to the Sunni sect, scattered mainly over the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Harassed by the Myanmar Army and forced to serve as slave labour, they have also been systematically persecuted by the Buddhist majority.

What happened in 2012?

  • Myanmar state, which was ruled by the military junta until 2011, has been accused of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine by the United Nations. It deported thousands of Rohingya to Bangladesh in the seventies and the citizenship law was also enacted by the junta. Things changed little for the Rohingya even after the political reforms in 2011 that eventually led to the first general elections in 2015, as the democratically-elected government has been unwilling to grant citizenship.
  • Sectarian violence between Rohingyas and Rakhine’s Buddhist natives began flaring up in 2012, following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman in a Rohingya-dominated locality. The riots, which were triggered as a result, went on for almost a month with causalities on both the sides. This ethnic conflict flared up as religious violence spreading to the other provinces of Myanmar. It was finally contained in 2013 after military intervention.
  • The persecution of the Rohingya also highlights the silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, destroying another myth of ethics and human rights; a woman whose campaign for human rights won her the Peace Nobel now stands embarrassingly silent in case her broader political strategies are affected.

India’s decision to deport Rohingyas

  • The Home Ministry in an advisory to states said “infiltration from Rakhine State of Myanmar into Indian territory, besides being burden on the limited resources of the country, it also aggravates the security challenges posed to the country.”
  • With that, the idea of India, the India of democracy and hospitality disappeared in a single stroke. A dream of India disappeared in a single moment. The marginal life of the Rohingya became a greater nightmare.
  • The Government of India has returned to an idea of hard state, dropping its dreams of compassion, care and civility. Behind the tragedy of the decision will be a nit-picking bureaucracy and the security think tanks, convinced that an aspirational India does not need a defeated people like the Rohingya. India can no longer criticise the West for being hostile to Syrian and Sudanese refugees.
  • Rohingyas are group that is threatened with continuous persecution, whose homes are unsafe, whose livelihoods have been destroyed. To be forced to return to Myanmar would only subject them to harassment, ethnic persecution and a genocidal future.
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the government over its plan to deport Rohingya staying illegally in India, asking the government to report in four weeks. The Commission added hopefully that the Supreme Court had declared that fundamental rights are applicable to all regardless of whether they are citizens of India. The NHRC came up with a memorable line that Rohingya refugees “are no doubt foreign nationals but they are human beings”.

A slow exodus

  • When Rohingyas were persecuted by the army and the Buddhist majority, they began a slow exodus over India, Bangladesh, spreading to States such as Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, moving as far as Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • The Rohingya became temporary boat people as Bangladesh shut its borders on them piously condemning them as drug peddlers. The Rohingya then attempted to cross into Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia only to realise that fellow Islamic nations had little sympathy for them.Pope Francis’s statement mentioned that the “campaign of terror” against the Rohingya must cease fell on deaf ears. Sadly, India missed the leadership and compassion of a Mother Teresa. She would have stepped out and offered some care and relief to them, stirring the Indian middle class into some acts of caring.
  • The vulnerability of such a people is often lost in bureaucratic issues of legal and political status. It is not clear whether Rohingya are refugees or illegal migrants. As refugees they are entitled to some care; as illegal migrants they become subject to harassment and exploitation. Refugees become a target for an informal economy of bonded labour.

Way forward

  • India confronts a case of ethics, a challenge to its understanding of citizenship and freedom. If we abandon the Rohingya, we abandon the idea of India as a home of refugees and hospitality. A country which offered a home to the Parsis, the Tibetans, the Afghans and the Jews cannot turn a little minority of helpless people back. One hopes civil society protests, challenging the indifference of the state. It is not just a question of saving a beleaguered people; it is question of saving the soul of India.

Question–  Throw light on the Rohingya issue and their plight. How India’s present act of deporting them is not an appreciable decision?