1.Crimes of Apartheid (The Hindu)
2.Comparing budgets (The Hindu)
3. Nagas and Manipur crisis
4.Multi Modal Transport Plan of Government
1.Crimes of Apartheid (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the recent report by UN which alleges establishment of apartheid by Israel.(GS paper II)
- Recently, a UN report has charged Israel with grave charges of apartheid due to racial discrimination meted out with Palestinian Arabs.
- It is supposed to be a giant step from the camp of UN as usually the word “discrimination” is not used by the UN in its report. Moreover, recent visit of Israel PM to USA and subsequent support from USA also casts shadow on future of two state solution.
What is Apartheid?
- Apartheid was a political and social system in South Africa while it was under white minority rule. This was in use in the 20th century, from 1948 to 1994.
- Racial segregation had been used for centuries but the new policy started in 1948 was stricter and more systematic.
- In the system, the people of South Africa were divided by their race and the races were forced to live apart from each other. There were laws that kept up the racial separation. The system of apartheid in South Africa was banned in 1994.
- Today, the term apartheid is sometimes used to speak about similar systems in other countries.
- Israel (or Arab Palestine region) is an important location as it houses “Jerusalem” which is a sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims due to their religious affinities. But Israel is a Jewish country as huge no. of Jews flocked to Israel in the aftermath of World War II to escape the Nazi hardships.
- Palestine as a nation does not exist on map (though it is recognised by 136 UN States) as the areas of “supposed to be” Palestine are captured by Israel since 1967 third Arab-Israel war. Hence, what exists today is a monolith Israel (in which Arabs want their own land by the name of Palestine).
- However, Israel is alleged to cause atrocities on the Arab people living in Israel and had bombarded Gaza strip (it is a narrow patch of land on coast of Mediterranean Sea where Arab people are living, it shares border with Egypt and Israel).
- Hence, in 2015, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was charged by its member-states, the eighteen Arab states in West Asia and North Africa – to study whether Israel has established an apartheid regime.
- UN has submitted its report and have charged Israel of establishing an Apartheid regime by committing racial atrocities on Arab origin people in its own territory as well as in the areas of Gaza, West bank and East Jerusalem (all of them are disputed areas and Arabs want to create Palestine on them)
- Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship (ezrahut) do not have the right to nationality (le’um), which means that they can only access inferior social services, face restrictive zoning laws, and find themselves unable freely to buy land.
- Palestinians in East Jerusalem are reduced to the status of permanent residents, who have to constantly prove that they live in the city and that they do not have any political ambitions.
- Since most of the world’s states have signed the Convention Against Apartheid, they are now obliged to act to punish instances of apartheid. Two recommendations from the report stand out. First, the authors ask that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate the situation in Israel.
- Second, the report asks that member states allow ‘criminal prosecutions of Israeli officials demonstrably connected with the practices of apartheid against the Palestinian people’
- Two states solution: this solution is in line with 1947 UN mandate which mandated that two separate lands for Jews (Israel) and Arabs should be made (Palestine). However, it does not seem viable because Israel will not let go its territories and most importantly the Jerusalem area.
- One State Solution: it calls for maintaining one land in which both Jews and Arabs can live peacefully but such a solution is also not acceptable to Israel as well because to consider a one-state solution with equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians is what they call a ‘demographic threat’. If the 12 million Palestinians – exiles and refugees included as would be citizens of this one-state, then they would dwarf the six million Jews in the country.
- Now, India is in a dilemma as on one hand, India has condemned every sort of exploitation while on the other hand Israel is an important defense partner of India. Hence, India had to carefully devise its policy with regard to move against Israel.
2.Comparing budgets (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: it throws light on how budget allocation of major economic country affect geopolitics. (GS II)
- Chinese economy is going through slower pace with around 7% increase in defence budget, it will not log a double-digit percentage as expected by watchers.
New about China budget
- China has announced its annual budget for 2017 with around 7% increase in defence spending after boost of the US defence budget.
- China’s defence spending will remain around 1.3 per cent of the country’s GDP, while U.S. announced around 10% of its GDP for military spending in 2018. While India lagging far behind in actual terms. India spends 1.57% of its GDP on military, which is a third of Chinese defence budget.
- According to Chinese military experts the increase in military expenditure is especially for the navy with aim of safeguarding the country’s fast expanding overseas interests and is in response to the unstable security situation in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Defending its right to build, China has said it is necessary for defensive purposes, Due to the US ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy, the possibility of military conflict is increasing in the Asia-Pacific region, including the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan Straits, East and South China seas, so there is no reason for us not to increase the defence budget.
- China mentioned that it is currently the world’s largest trading nation, so the country is heavily reliant on free trade, and the world also needs to trade with China, so the Chinese navy has to gain enough ability to protect those key trade routes around the globe.
- China’s military build-up has rattled nerves around the region with its increasingly assertive stance in its territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.
- The officially announced figure may not fully reflect the Chinese spending in beefing up its military capabilities in both conventional and unconventional arenas. Most China observers believe that the total spending by the country is significantly more than the official budget. It is well known that much of the Chinese spending on dual-use capabilities is not accounted as military spending.
Nagas and Manipur crisis
- Recently, Manipur was engulfed in the crisis which was lead by a total blockade of Manipur and particularly Imphal region.
Brief background of Crisis
- Manipur, with a population of over 2.7 million, is home to three major groups: Kuki, Naga, and Meitei. While Meiteis are primarily settled in the four valley districts and want territorial integrity of the State to be maintained, Kukis and Nagas are calling for separate administrative arrangements in the hill areas, Kukis for a Kukiland and Nagas to join a greater Nagaland.
- Meiteis live in valley region which constitutes 90 percent of population and 10 percent of area.
- While kukis and Nagas live in surrounding hilly areas which constitutes 90 percent of area and 10 percent of population.
- The Manipur government issued a gazette notification creating seven new districts by carving out and bifurcating the state’s existing nine districts. This took the total number of districts in the state to 16.
- The government did not pay any heed to the UNC’s demands. Its argument was that the new districts were created keeping in mind administrative convenience. But the Nagas didn’t want to stay under the same administrative roof as the Meiteis.
- The genesis of the present conflict between the Nagas of Manipur and the State Government goes back to October 2016 when the govt. decided to elevate the sub-divisions of Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged districts.
- The United Naga Council (UNC), being the apex civil organisation of the Nagas in Manipur, objected to the decision, stating that it should be done only after consulting all the tribal organisations.
- Subsequently, in November 2016, the UNC called for an indefinite economic blockade of the two national highways, NH-2 and NH-37, which are the lifelines of the state. All transport vehicles carrying essential goods from the hills to the Imphal Valley were blocked.
- In response, on December 9, the Manipur Chief Minister announced the creation of seven new districts. The UNC vehemently objected to the creation of the new districts and intensified its economic blockade.
- In retaliation, the Meiteis imposed a counter-blockade, preventing vehicles carrying essential goods from moving to the four Naga-dominated hill districts from the Imphal Valley.
- The economic blockade has caused misery and untold sufferings to the common people and has fuelled ethnic tensions in Manipur. Nagas feel that their peaceful protests and appeals to the state as well as the Centre have been ignored. Thus, the economic blockade was seen as the only means through which they are able to raise the pitch.
Biased Political Structure
- There is a perception amongst the tribal community (Nagas and Kukis) in Manipur that the political structure in the State is skewed against them, given that 40 out of 60 Assembly seats have been allotted to the Meitei-dominated areas in the Imphal Valley thus giving an overwhelming majority to the Meiteis in decision making. This political arrangement is seen as an instrument of continued domination by the Meitei over the hill people.
Violation of Memoranda of Understanding
- There were four Memoranda of Understanding signed between the Naga civil society and the Manipur Government. According to these, all stake holders would be consulted and the land rights of Naga people would be ensured. Given this, the Nagas perceive the creation of the seven new districts without consulting the stakeholders as a demonstration of utter disregard for the four memoranda as well as for the assurances given to them about consultations on matters affecting them
- While many tribal groups spearheaded by the Naga fraternity have expressed reservations about the creation of the seven new districts, the majority Meiteis and even the Kuki minority have welcomed the move.
- The onus now remains with the new Government of Manipur to embrace the perspective of the Nagas and address their core concerns. The views of the Nagas on the formulation of the new districts must be considered and addressed to foster peace and harmony in the state.
Multi Modal Transport Plan of Government
- India is gearing for its ambitious multi-modal programme to reduce logistics costs and make the economy competitive.
- Multi Modal Transportation System (MMTS) will put railways, highways, inland waterways and airports in place of effective transportation grid, for speedy, safe, pleasant and comfortable movement of freight in urban areas.
- It provides convenient and economical connection of various modes. It will increase India’s exports, provide employment opportunities, will be cost effective, and will make goods cheaper in the country.
Models of MMTS
The Government envisions implementing the “Hub and Spoke” model instead of the “point to point” modal that is in place today in our country.
- The “Hub and Spoke” model mainly consists of a central hub comprising of state of the art freight aggregation and modern warehousing facilities that efficiently handles the goods coming from various centers also called as spokes in this modal.
- Plan is to setup 35 multi-modal logistics parks, development of 50 economic corridors and an investment template which involves roping in the states and the private sector for setting up special vehicles for implementation.
- To implement this, the government plans to host a multi-modal summit—India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit—in May, on the lines of the maritime summit to pitch project opportunities to the investors.
- Sites for the proposed 35 logistics parks have been identified and they will be set up on railways, highways, inland waterways and airports transportation grid.
- Fifteen such logistics parks will be constructed in the next five years, and 20 more over the next 10 years. They will act as hubs for freight movement enabling freight aggregation and distribution with modern mechanized warehousing space.
- A joint venture will be set up between National Highways Authority of India (49% share) and the partner (51%) for the project which may be a state government or a private entity.
- Of the land acquired for the project, 40% will be developed and returned to the land owner. While 20% of the land will be sold to finance the project, the profit from the rest 40% of the land will go to National Highway Authority of India.
- According to transport minister with plan to build pre-cooling plants, cold storages, storage facilities for agricultural produce, food grains, hardware, cement, steel, fertilizer and will create a transport city and logistics park.
- It will have fuel pumps and also truck maintenance shops. It will impact in reducing pollution, traffic jam, creating new employment opportunities and contributing towards increasing exports.