The HINDU Notes – 01st May 2019 - VISION

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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 01st May 2019

πŸ“° ASI unearths treasure at U.P. site

4,000-year-old rice, dal, sacred chambers and coffins found in Sanauli

•The Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) ongoing excavation of 4,000-year-old burial sites in Uttar Pradesh’s Sanauli has unearthed underground “sacred chambers”, decorated “legged coffins” as well as rice and dal in pots and animal bones buried with the bodies, ASI Institute of Archaeology director S.K. Manjul said on Tuesday.

•The excavation in the Baghpat district of U.P. was first started in 2018 and resumed in January this year, Dr. Manjul said, adding that the process of listing and preservation at the site was on at the moment.

•He said three chariots, some coffins, shields, swords and helmets had been unearthed, pointing towards the existence of a “warrior class in the area around 2,000 BCE”.

•“As an excavator, I think this is different from Harappan culture. It is contemporary to the last phase of the mature Harappan culture. These findings are important to understand the culture pattern of the Upper Ganga-Yamuna doab. We found copper swords, helmets, shields and chariots,” said Dr. Manjul. 

•The excavators have found rice and urad dal in pots, cattle bones, wild pig and mongoose buried along with bodies, he said.

•“These may have been offered to the departed souls. We also found sacred chambers below the ground. After the procession, they put the body in the chamber for some treatment or rituals,” he said.

•Right now, the ASI is in the process of carrying out DNA, metallurgical and botanical analysis of samples and ground penetrating radar survey of the site, Dr. Manjul said.

Largest necropolis

•While Dr. Manjul said he felt the site was different from the Harappan culture, an ASI statement on the excavation said: “Sanauli is located on the left bank of the River Yamuna, 68 km north-east of Delhi which brought to light the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period datable to around early part of second millennium BCE”.

•In one of the burial pits, the excavators found a wooden legged coffin that was decorated with steatite inlays with a female skeleton, the ASI said. The pit also contained an armlet of semiprecious stones, pottery and an antenna sword placed near the head.

•Another area of the site included remains of four furnaces with three working levels and the “overall ceramic assemblage has late Harappan characters”, the ASI statement said.

πŸ“° ‘Progress’ in U.N. listing of Masood Azhar, says China

China put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama terror attack.

•Citing “some progress” on the issue of listing of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the UN Security Council, China indicated on Tuesday that it was willing to change its decade-old stand opposing the move.

•“The relevant consultations are going on within the committee and have achieved some progress,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, adding that he believed the issue of Azhar’s listing, which was put on hold by Beijing on March 13, “can be properly resolved.”

•Diplomatic sources confirmed to The Hindu that Masood Azhar could be placed on the UNSC’s 1267 Committee’s list of sanctioned individuals and entities as early as Wednesday, once China formally intimated its decision to lift the hold, which it placed on a proposal initiated by the U.S., the U.K, and France after the Pulwama attack in February this year.

May 1 deadline

•A UN diplomat in New York told The Hindu that a silence period (during which objections may be raised), which kicked off on April 23, would end at 9 a.m. (New York time) on May 1.

•The UNSC 1267 panel last met to discuss the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist on April 23, when China and the U.S. disagreed on when the listing would go through, the diplomat said.

•While China wanted to hold off on the decision until mid-May, the U.S. did not want to wait beyond April 23 to wrap up the process to list Azhar.

•Asked specifically about a newspaper report that the listing would be done on May 1, Mr. Geng said, “China is still working with the relevant parties and we are in contact with all relevant parties within the 1267 Committee and I believe with the efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved.”

•The Ministry of External Affairs did not comment on the report, as an official said the government would “wait for the decision” before making any statement.

•The listing of Masood Azhar, who’s organisation JeM was listed in 2001, has been pending for more than a decade.

•This is the fourth attempt by countries at the UNSC and India to bring Azhar under UN sanctions . China had vetoed each of the previous proposals citing it had not received enough evidence against Azhar, who was released in 1999 during the IC-814 hijacking in exchange for hostages.

•Diplomatic sources said China’s turnaround came after Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s visit to Beijing last week, where India shared details of all the evidence on Masood Azhar, including links to the February 14 Pulwama attack for which the JeM had claimed responsibility. American, British and French diplomats had been pursuing the case with China, even threatening to bring the listing proposal to the entire UNSC for a vote if China refused to relent.

Optimistic note

•On Friday, British High Commissioner to India Dominic Asquith said he was “optimistic” that the proposal would go through shortly.

•In an interview on Monday, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan was “willing to discuss the listing”, but rejected evidence of Azhar's links to the Pulwama attack.

πŸ“° CJI sexual harassment issue: former SC staff says she won’t take part in panel hearing

The woman says Bobde panel refused to let her have a lawyer or a support person during the hearing

•The former Supreme Court staffer who alleged sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued a statement stating that she will not further participate in the Justice S.A. Bobde in-house inquiry committee proceedings into her accusations.

Hearing defect

•In a press release issued on Tuesday, she said her decision to withdraw came after the panel refused to let her have a lawyer or a support person with her during the hearing. She said she suffered from impaired hearing and was left nervous and scared. Due to her hearing defect, she could not even follow what was dictated by Justice Bobde to the court official as a record of her statements before the committee.

Recording proceedings

•The former apex court employee said the committee declined her request to record the proceedings on video or audio. She was also not supplied with copies of her statements made during the panel hearings of April 26 and April 29. Finally, she said no information was given to her about the procedure followed by Justice Bobde.

•“I was compelled to walk out of the committee proceedings today [April 30] because the committee seemed not to appreciate the fact that this was not an ordinary complaint but a complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI and therefore it was required to adopt a procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances that I am placed,” the woman’s statement said.

‘Informal proceeding’

•She claimed that the committee, which also comprised Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, had told her that “this was neither an in-house committee proceeding nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding.”

•The woman said she found it extremely intimidating to face three Supreme Court judges alone. Besides, her loss of hearing in one ear, which she said was “due to stress,” made it worse for her.

•She claimed to have been “orally instructed” to not disclose the panel proceedings to the media or share the details with her lawyer Vrinda Grover.

•“I was repeatedly asked by the committee as to why I had made this complaint of sexual harassment so late,” she said.

•She said the committee had not in its first hearing accepted her application to summon the call data records and WhatsApp call and chat records of two mobile numbers. The application was taken up on April 30.

•She said she had written a detailed letter to the panel judges to treat the proceedings as a formal inquiry under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act.

πŸ“° Madras High Court curbs L-G role in Puducherry administration

“The apex court has clearly held that there is a distinction between the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry,” the judge said.

•The Madras High Court on Tuesday ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place. The court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government.”

•Authoring a 150-page judgement, Justice R. Mahadevan said: “The Central government as well as the Administrator [the term used in the Constitution to refer to the L-G] should be true to the concept of democratic principles. Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.”

•The judge made it clear that government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the Ministers and the Council of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister.

•In a 150-page judgement on Tuesday, Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court pointed out the significant differences in the powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi under Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution.

•In his judgement that held that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place. ruled that the powers of the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G), Justice Mahadevan said though Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi, no such restrictions had been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.

•“The above Article symbolises the supremacy of the Legislature above the Administrator in case of the Union Territory of Puducherry.”

•The judge held that government secretaries of the Puducherry administration were required to report to the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister on all official matters.

•“The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator,” Justice Mahadevan said.

•He also disapproved of the alleged practice of government officials being part of social media groups through which the L-G was issuing instructions to them for redress of public grievances and reminded them that as per rules, they were bound to use only authorised medium of communication when it came to issues related to administration.

•The judgement was delivered while allowing a petition filed by Congress MLA K. Lakshminarayanan in 2017, and quashing two clarifications issued by the Union Home Ministry that year with regard to the powers of the L-G. The judge held that those communications had been issued without reference to the constitutional provisions and other laws.

•Though the Centre had primarily questioned the locus standi of the petitioner to file the case, the judge rejected the objections on the ground that such a writ petition at the instance of an MLA was maintainable.

•Referring to the provisions of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, the judge said Section 44 of the Act states that there shall be a Council of Ministers in each Union Territory to aid and advice the Administrator who shall act in his/her discretion only in so far as any special responsibilities were concerned.

•However, since the Act does not specify the ‘special responsibilities’ in relation to which the L-G could apply his/her discretion, “it is the bounden duty of the Administrator and the Council of Ministers to avoid logjam and facilitate the smooth functioning of the government in public interest, leaving the political differences apart,” the judge said.

•He also dealt with the provisions of Rules of Business of the Government of Pondicherry, of 1963, the Delegation of Financial Powers Rules, 1978, the Government of Puducherry (Custody of Public Money) Rules, 2006, the Government of Puducherry Accounting Rules, 2006, and the periodical orders issued by the Central government before deciding the case.

πŸ“° Assam deportation figure given to Supreme Court doesn’t add up

Bangladesh has taken back at least 73 people since 2018: diplomat

•Dhaka is apparently at a loss trying to figure out why the Assam government told the Supreme Court last week that only four Bangladeshi nationals have been deported to the country since 2014.

•Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar, in a case related to detention camps for foreigners in the State, said that the government detected 1.12 lakh foreigners and deported four of them in the past six years. He also said there were 900 foreigners across six detention camps in the State.

•People of doubtful citizenship identified by 100 Foreigners’ Tribunals are sent to the detention camps to be eventually deported to the country they came from. Assam has six such camps within jails.

•“The figures cited are quite baffling. In June 2018, we took back 52 people and in January this year, 21 Bangladeshi nationals were sent home via our Deputy High Commission office in Guwahati. But the Assam government says only four people were deported,” a Bangladeshi diplomat posted in India said on condition of anonymity.

More exits ahead

•He said that officials from Bangladesh have visited all the detention camps in Assam — excluding the one in Dibrugarh — to verify the nationality of those India had declared as foreigners. “We found 87 Bangladeshi nationals and 40 of them are likely to be sent home soon,” he said.

•Jail officials said that though there are 900 inmates in the camps suspected to be Bangladeshi, only about 90 were presented before representatives of the Bangladesh government. One of the reasons was that the others did not have documents connecting them to Bangladesh.

•A diplomat of the neighbouring country said they came across inmates who declared themselves as Bangladeshi in desperation to get out of prison. “There have been two cases of people sneaking right back in after being pushed into Bangladesh,” he added.

πŸ“° Sushma asks U.S. for Iran oil import waiver

Tells Pompeo that vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight

•External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the weekend and asked for a waiver for continued import of Iranian crude after the May 2 deadline imposed by the U.S. administration, a source has confirmed.

•“Both sides discussed issues relevant to bilateral ties including the waiver for energy from Iran,” said a source about a telephone discussion between Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Pompeo on Saturday.

•The phone call came days before the U.S. sanctions on import of Iranian crude comes into effect on May 2 when all energy imports from Iran must be stopped by the importing nations. It is learnt that Ms. Swaraj urged the U.S. Secretary of State to consider India’s current situation, highlighting that the vast amount of Iranian energy cannot be replaced overnight.

No indication

•However, there was no indication from the U.S. official for issuing a new waiver for India. Earlier, India and Turkey had held discussion about how to avoid a breakdown in the domestic energy markets due to the sanctions.

•Addressing a gathering at the Observer Research Foundation on April 26, Ibrahim Kalin, Senior Advisor to the Turkish President, had said that both India and Turkey have urged for waivers. “We are looking at possibilities. In principle we believe sanctions do not work. They hurt everybody. We are talking to all colleagues and the Europeans and we are on the same page on this issue,” said Mr. Kalin.

•The May 2 deadline is expected to deliver an oil shock to the leading economies of the world as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to insist that leading importers like India should zero out energy supply from Iran.

πŸ“° China defends crackdown in Xinjiang

•China on Tuesday rejected “any interference” in its internal affairs after U.N. chief Antonio Guterres raised the plight of ethnic Uighurs in the restive Xinjiang region during a visit to Beijing.

•Mr. Guterres had been under pressure from rights groups to publicly confront Beijing over the mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

•Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China was willing to discuss human rights issues with all parties on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

•“At the same time, we firmly oppose any interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues,” Mr. Geng said.

πŸ“° Now a portal to register e-vehicles

Government to provide fiscal incentives to owners of first one lakh EVs

•Maharashtra government’s new web portal, thrown open last week for the registration of battery-operated vehicles, expects to receive about 1,00,000 applications under the State Electric Vehicle Policy. A gateway for sanction and disbursement of fiscal incentive to the buyers of Electric Vehicle (EVs), the portal is designed to accommodate one lakh applications including those of 70,000 battery-operated two-wheelers, 20,000 three-wheelers, and 10,000 four-wheelers. The portal could also take registration of 1,000 battery-operated buses, officials said.

•As per the policy approved by the State Cabinet last year, an enabling environment is being created for the manufacture of nearly 5,00,000 EVs in the next five years. The government proposes exempting e-vehicles from road tax and registration charges. In addition, 15% subsidy will be provided to owners of first 1,00,000 EVs registered which would be ₹5,000 for two-wheelers, ₹12,000 for three-wheelers, and up to ₹1,00,000 for the four-wheelers, officials said.

•Senior officials of the industries department said fiscal incentive will be admissible only to application of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) sold in Maharashtra for the first time and registered with Regional Transport Offices (RTOs). “We have ensured buyers are eligible for incentive only once. The subsidy should be applicable on the base price of eligible BEV,” said an official.

•As per the policy, not only vehicles but even charging stations set up on public and private parking lots, fuel pumps, bus and railway stations and approved by local planning authority will be considered for grant of capital subsidy of 25% up to ₹10 lakh. As part of this, first 250 commercial public EV charging stations will be considered for assistance.

•Senior officials said the Directorate of Industries will verify the vehicle application within 15 days. They added that as per availability of funds, and within 90 days of filing valid claim online, sanctioned subsidy amount shall be deposited directly into the buyer’s account through RTGS.

πŸ“° Fani is country’s strongest April cyclone in 43 years: IMD data

Unusual formation due to the ‘warming of the Bay of Bengal basin’; protracted gestation could lead to it gaining strength

•Cyclonic storm Fani, which is lying about 600 km east of Vishakapatnam and 800 km south of Puri, is the first severe, cyclonic storm to have formed in April in India’s oceanic neighbourhood since 1976, according to records from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

•While severe cyclones (defined as generating maximum windspeeds of 89-117 kmph) can form any time, they tend to be concentrated in November — after the monsoon — or around May, when the monsoon prepares to arrive in Kerala in June.

•The head of IMD told The Hindu that such quirks were a consequence of global warming. “This is a cyclone that’s forming due to the warming of the Bay of Bengal basin… with global warming we have to be prepared for such occurrences and take precaution accordingly,” said K. J. Ramesh, Director-General, IMD. He said that Fani, so far, was unlikely to have an impact on the advent of the monsoon.

•From 1965-2017, the Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea have collectively registered 46 ‘severe cyclonic storms.’ As many as 28 of them were from October-December. Seven of them have been in May and only two — in 1966 and 1976 — were recorded in April, data from the IMD’s cyclone-statistics unit shows.

•Tropical cyclones in the Indian neighbourhood begin as ‘depressions’ or a gradual build-up of warm air and pockets of low pressure. About 35% of such formations intensify to ‘cyclones’ and only 7% intensify to ‘very severe cyclones’. About 20-30 severe tropical storms occur around the world every year.

•The IMD ranks cyclones on a 5-point scale with the mildest at 62-88 kmph and the strongest, a ‘super cyclonic storm’, at 221 kmph). Cyclone Fani is expected to graduate to an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’ by Wednesday and make landfall in Orissa (as a very severe cyclonic storm) by May 4, according to an evening forecast by the IMD on Tuesday.

•“It is very likely to move northwestwards till May 1 evening and thereafter re-curve north-northeastwards and reach Odisha Coast by May 3 afternoon with maximum sustained wind of speed 170-180 gusting to 200 kmph,” the IMD statement notes.

•Meteorologists also point to Fani’s protracted gestation. The storm had been building up since April 25 and is expected to make landfall, according to current models, only after May 3. “Nearly 10 days is an extremely long period,” said Mr. Ramesh. On an average, tropical cyclones form and make landfall in less than a week.

•Satheesh Shenoi, Director, INCOIS (Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services), a research unit responsible for tracking the oceans, said that Fani’s slow progress — it is now moving at 11-18 kmph — was also a matter of worry as the longer it hovered in the ocean, the more moisture and energy it gained from the ocean and the stronger its impact along the coast.

•“For now, models suggest that waves as high as 6.3 m are possible in the ocean under the influence of the storm,” he told The Hindu .

•Heavy rains are expected in north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and light rains in West Bengal under the influence of the cyclone. Strong winds are expected in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra. Fishermen have been advised to stay away from the sea.

πŸ“° India’s ASAT test a response to growing space threats: France

‘Outer space becoming an arena of rivalry between nations’

•Stating that defence and offensive space technologies are being developed with various aims of spying, gaining control, deactivating service and destroying, French Envoy in India Alexandre Ziegler has supported India’s Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test as a response to these growing threats.

•“India shared the same observation and desire to act, which is actually reflected in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the ASAT missile test on March 27 this year. It is obvious that it was a clear response to an assessment of growing threats in the outer space. And that’s an assessment that we share…,” Mr. Ziegler said addressing the 5th Kalpana Chawla annual space policy dialogue organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) that began on Monday.

Debris concerns

•He also observed that outer space has become an “arena of rivalry between major powers.”

•At the same time, he said there was common concern on space debris. Satellites today have to avoid almost 6,00,000 debris of over 1cm travelling at speed faster than a bullet, he stated.

•On March 27, India shot down a live satellite in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) of 300 km using a modified interceptor of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system. Officials had stated that the LEO was particularly chosen to minimise space debris.

•India and France, which have been cooperating in the area of space for several decades, had announced the setting up of a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance of the Indian Ocean. Mr. Ziegler said as part of this, the two countries are co-developing a constellation 10-15 satellites that could help “monitor the maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean.”

Maritime surveillance

•“It is part of the joint vision that we signed. It is a civilian project,” he stated.

•In this regard, Rod Hilton, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia, said his country was keen to be part of the broader maritime security cooperation and was working with India and France. “We have signed technology cooperation agreements with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and space situational awareness is part of that,” he said.

•As space gets increasingly crowded, Mr. Ziegler also called for the need to regulate space traffic on the lines of air traffic or railways. He said France shares India’s view on the use of outer space for peaceful purposes and said, “We therefore refuse any destabilising arms race, which would be detrimental to all of us.”

πŸ“° Assam Rifles, NSCN(IM) agree to withdraw from Manipur villages

Issue amicably resolved: CFMG chief

•Assam Rifles personnel and members of the Isak-Muivah faction of the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) have after almost a week of stand-off agreed to withdraw from two remote villages of Ukhrul in Manipur.

•This followed a meeting between the Ceasefire Monitoring Group (CFMG) and a delegation of NSCN(IM) leaders in Nagaland’s capital Kohima on Tuesday. Various Naga organisations in Ukhrul too had taken out a peace rally urging both sides to defuse the tension.

‘Unauthorised’ camp

•The Assam Rifles had moved troops to Sihai village, about 5 km from Khamasom, near the India-Myanmar border where about 70 NSCN(IM) members had set up an “unauthorised” camp a few months ago. They were asked to vacate the camp since it violated the ceasefire ground rules that warranted them to stay in designated camps.

•The NSCN(IM) had inked a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in July 1997.

•“The matter was amicably resolved at a meeting with CFMG chairman Lt. Gen. (retd) Shokin Chauhan in Kohima. The simultaneous withdrawal from the areas, as agreed upon in the meeting, is in process,” Kraibo Chawang, convener of the NSCN(IM)’s Ceasefire Monitoring Cell said.

•Lt. Gen. Chauhan had earlier instructed the NSCN(IM) leadership to tell its members in Manipur to vacate the Khamasom camp. The outfit declined to move, saying that the ground rules apply to wherever their members are settled.

Aerial survey

•The paramilitary force had learnt about the presence of the ‘unauthorised’ camp during a routine aerial survey on April 25. It then engaged local and church leaders to make the extremists vacate the camp.

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