The HINDU Notes – 04th November 2019 - VISION

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Monday, November 04, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 04th November 2019






📰 Intransigence as villain of the peace?

In Nagaland, aspirations of a new era can seldom be seen from an aging, fixed vision; the NSCN(IM) must recognise this

•It is fortunate that the peace talks between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), NSCN(IM), did not break down on October 31, the government’s deadline for concluding an accord. Although there are no specific details, both sides apparently agreed to step back a little from earlier stances and to sign a deal sometime soon. This delay, however, cannot be for long as other Naga groups have already been promised a settlement with or without the NSCN(IM) if the deadlock with it holds; going against this promise can result in complications.

Potential spoilers

•The deadlock was on the insistence for a separate flag and constitution by the NSCN(IM) to make way for India and Nagaland to be independent allies in a shared-sovereignty federal relationship. Conceding to this, especially after the abrogation of Article 370, would have been impossible for the Government. The uncertainty, however, was also on account of many other thorny internal contradictions — some old and some new; in the days ahead, they can show up to become spoilers.

•Call it determination or obduracy, the most pronounced of these is a seeming intransigence of vision on the part of the NSCN(IM), and a refusal to accept radical shifts in aspirations all around brought by new challenges and opportunities of a new era. Ernest Renan’s “a nation is a daily plebiscite” must be heeded by the nation and its challengers alike, for aspiration of any collective of people is a moving target which can seldom be hit from a fixed vision.

•The 70 years of struggle by the Nagas is heroic; so is the identity formation among these linguistically disparate tribes at constant war with each other in pre-modern times. There is now no lack of a sense of peoplehood around the Naga identity, and considering the germination of this identity is just about 100 years old, this is phenomenal. As many scholars have pointed out, the watershed years were the First World War. Tribesmen from these hills recruited in the British Labour Corps, discovered their commonness of destiny in Europe. The formation of the Naga Club upon their return, their memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929 asserting their distinct identity and wish for self-determination, the formation of the Naga National Council and its decision under visionary leader A.Z. Phizo to take to armed struggle not long after Indian independence, etc., are well-documented. The grit and romance of this resistance was magnetic, and affiliation to the Naga identity expanded among more tribes in these hills, crossing established political boundaries, and in the process creating their shares of ethnic frictions.

Need for moderating notions

•Several decades down the line, the fight is getting weary. Obviously, no revolution can sustain on 70-year-old slogans. Moreover, this struggle has also seen violent splits, ugly divisive tribalism, fratricidal feuds and untold sufferings. These also have to be factored into this story of a unique history. If history is the record of a given state building project, and is blind to events which do not contribute this exercise and relies on memory and myths — as the Naga story often does — to reconstruct the past can be equally problematic. Memory too is extremely selective and chooses to forget events which go against the image of the past being constructed. It also often confabulates to fill gaps in the story. Therefore, all notions of unique histories and ancestral homelands will need moderation against this scale.

Decisive shifts

•Even in the last 22 years of Naga peace negotiations, radical shifts in perspective have been evident. For instance, when parleys began in 1997, it was exclusively with the NSCN(IM). In 2001, the NSCN’s other major faction led by the late S.S. Khaplang, NSCN(K), too entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government, but they were not made part of the peace negotiations, ostensibly because of objections from the NSCN(IM), which instead offered amnesty to all other factions if they joined them. Expectedly, the NSCN(K) began showing signs of disintegrative pressures from within. By 2011, two important leaders, Kitovi Zhimomi and Khole Konyak, had left in moves allegedly engineered by Indian intelligence to separate the Myanmar Nagas from India in anticipation of a settlement. Khaplang is from Myanmar. In 2016, Khole Konyak formally joined the NSCN(IM).

•Erosion from within the NSCN(K) ranks continued and Khaplang, in June 2015, decided to abrogate the ceasefire agreement. Two months later, on August 3, the Government signed the Framework Agreement with the NSCN(IM). The latter continued to hold centre stage but not for long. Realising that the NSCN(IM) cannot be the sole representatives of the Nagas, in 2017 other Naga underground factions were also brought to the negotiating table, lowering the prestige of the NSCN(IM). Today there are seven of these factions under an umbrella organisation, the Naga National Political Groups (NNPG), taking part in the parleys, and they are willing to sign a peace pact under the Constitution, leaving other demands to be pursued later.

•The Framework Agreement envisaged a bilateral truce between “two entities”, but today it is set to be a multilateral one. Not only this, as a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson clarified through the Press Information Bureau on October 31 evening, the accord will only be concluded after consultations with Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, all States which have a stake in the matter. Till date the talks were in complete secrecy, raising anxiety in these States.

•The other tangible mood in Nagaland is, if the settlement is for an Indian state and not a sovereign Naga homeland, they are happy with the present Nagaland State. The willingness of the NNPG, most of whose leadership are Nagaland based, to keep in abeyance demands such as for a Greater Nagaland, is an indication. There are now more urgent indicators. On October 25, a total of 17 leaders of the NSCN(IM) ditched the organisation to join the NNPG. All defectors are Nagaland based and most are from the Sema tribe. This is significant. When the NSCN(IM)’s respected Sema leader, Isak Chishi Swu died in June 2016, there was speculation this might erode the support base of the NSCN(IM) among Semas, thereby its foothold also in Nagaland, leaving it largely a Manipur-based organisation. Most of its other top leaders and cadres, including its supremo Thuingaleng Muivah, are from Manipur. Today this prophesy seems to be unfolding.

•There has also been a growing social movement in Nagaland for consolidation of Nagaland’s own people. The demand for a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland, and now the formation of the Nagaland Indigenous People’s Forum on October 28 (at its launch, former Nagaland Chief Minister and retired Governor of several States, S.C. Jamir, unambiguously reminded the Nagaland public that the State is already burdened with difficulties and should not take on more excess baggage) are some of these.

•A Nagaland-centred truce would indeed leave the NSCN(IM) in a bind. For then, from the lofty demand for a sovereign homeland, the people may be left to be content with territorial councils in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Even such a settlement will not be without resistance, as these States, most vocally Manipur, are unwilling to make compromises to their territorial integrity or administrative structures. Whatever is to be given to the Nagas in their State, they want it done via their existing State governments and institutions.

•It is not too late yet, but the NSCN(IM) leadership should have read the writing on the wall earlier to make way for aspirations of the new era. Shakespeare put it so well in King Lear: “What, in ill thoughts again? Men must endure. Their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.”

📰 NRC exercise only to update 1951 list: CJI

Document meant as base document for future claims, says Ranjan Gogoi

•Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Sunday that the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) process, to identify illegal migrants residing in the border State, was “neither a new or novel idea” but only an attempt to update the 1951 NRC list.

•Chief Justice Gogoi, who is retiring on November 17, headed the Special Bench of the Supreme Court which monitored the Assam NRC process. The Supreme Court’s intervention led to the publication of the final citizenship list on August 31.

•The NRC 2019 is an attempt to end vicious cycles of violence and agitations in Assam over the presence of illegal foreigners, Chief Justice Gogoi said.

📰 ISRO’s NavIC set to be commercialised by Antrix

The regional navigation satellite system can serve as an indigenous-GPS

•The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its older commercial arm Antrix Corporation Ltd. are poised to commercialise India’s regional navigation satellite system, NavIC, with Antrix recently floating two separate tenders to identify industries that can develop dedicated NavIC-based hardware and systems.





•NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) is the Indian system of eight satellites that is aimed at telling business and individual users where they are, or how their products and services are moving. The indigenous positioning or location based service (LBS) works just like the established and popular U.S. Global Positioning System or GPS, but within a 1,500-km radius over the sub-continent.

•Antrix’s Chairman and Managing Director S. Rakesh said the company was currently identifying suitable device manufacturers on the one side and comprehensive integrators of NavIC-based systems (SIs) on the other side. Eligible manufacturers from the two sets would be empanelled so that they could bid for government projects that require monitoring of moving assets and fleet.

Early users

•The early set of commercial NavIC users, he said, would be potentially transporters of resources such as mined ore, coal and sand in various States. Several transporters currently use GPS-based systems.

•“Mining and transportation sectors need vehicle tracking applications that are tied to revenue sharing systems of the government,” said Mr. Rakesh. “Many are using a GPS-based system to check pilferage [and fudging]. They can now add NavIC to this and to new activities,” he added.

•The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways mandated last year that all national-permit vehicles must have such tracking devices. As a pilot, many fishing boats have been fitted with these devices that have a unique texting facility.

•Besides the Antrix tenders, two other recent developments have paved the way for taking NavIC closer to end users.

Positive developments

•In mid-October, ISRO announced that Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a leading producer of semiconductor chips, had developed and tested NavIC-friendly chipsets across its user bases and that it would add NavIC to them.

•Apart from GPS, its chips can work with the global navigation satellite systems of Europe (Galileo), Russia (GLONASS) and China (Beidou.)

•ISRO said this support would be available for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from November. It expects the indigenous system to ‘enhance’ the use of NavIC on mobile, automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

•The third and important positive for NavIC was the certification of the Indian system by the 3GPP (The 3rd Generation Partnership Project), a global body for coordinating mobile telephony standards.

•The specifications will be available in March 2020 and the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) has said it would adopt them as a national standard. “The implication is that 4G and 5G devices with NavIC capability can use assisted-NavIC solution in place of, or in addition to, other constellations,” TSDSI said.

•According to Broadband India Forum, the potential market for NavIC-based products and integrated circuits can be very large and Indian companies and start-ups can now design them.

•Some potential applications of the regional navigation system include: terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation; disaster management; vehicle tracking and fleet management; integration with mobile phones; precise timing (as for ATMs and power grids); mapping and geodetic data capture; as terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers; and for visual and voice navigation for drivers.

📰 Indian Army to have first Dhanush regiment by March 2020

Entire order of 114 guns will be completed by 2022: Indian Army

•The Indian Army, which began inducting the indigenously upgraded Dhanush artillery guns, will have the first regiment in place by March 2020 and will get all 114 guns by 2022, Army sources said. Dhanush is the indigenously upgraded variant of the Swedish Bofors gun imported in the 1980s.

•“The first regiment of 18 guns will be in place by March 2020. We will get another 36 guns by March 2021 and another 40 by March 2022. The entire order for 114 guns will be completed by 2022,” an Army source said.

•In April, the Ordnance Factory Board had handed over the first batch of six Dhanush guns. The Gun Carriage Factory, Jabalpur, received the Bulk Production Clearance to manufacture 114 guns from the Army on February 18, 2019.

•The Defence Ministry had stated earlier that indigenisation to the extent of about 81%, has “already been achieved” and by the end of 2019, the level of indigenisation in the manufacture of the gun “will go up to 91%.”

Options discussed

•Sources said the induction process was reviewed at the recently concluded Army Commanders’ Conference and “various options for the employment were discussed”.

•Dhanush is a 155 mm, 45-calibre towed artillery gun with a range of 36km and has demonstrated a range of 38 km with specialised ammunition. It is an upgrade of the existing 155m, 39 calibre Bofors FH 77 gun.

•The Army recently procured 155mm Excalibur precision guided ammunition from the U.S. having the ability for targeted artillery strikes at extended ranges. Sources said the ammunition can be used with all 155-mm artillery guns in the inventory.

•The Excalibur projectile is developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems Bofors, and according to information on Raytheon’s website, it provides accurate “first-round effects” at all ranges in all weather conditions and “extends the reach of .39-calibre artillery to 40 km and .52-calibre artillery to more than 50 km”.

Phased trials

•The first phase of trials of Dhanush were conducted between July to September 2016 at Pokhran and Babina ranges and the second phase was conducted between October to December 2016 at Siachen base camp with three guns. The last round of user exploitation trials were completed with six guns in June last year.

•The gun is fitted with an inertial navigation system having global positioning system (GPS)-based gun recording and auto-laying, an enhanced tactical computer for on-board ballistic computations, an on-board muzzle velocity recording, an automated gun sighting system equipped with camera, thermal imaging, and laser range finder.

•After close to three decades, the Army inducted its first modern artillery guns system in November last year. These include M-777 Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH) from the U.S. and K9 Vajra-T self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.

📰 Pegasus misadventure: On WhatsApp snooping scandal

The government must clarify whether it deployed spyware to snoop on its critics

•The Government’s reaction to messaging platform WhatsApp’s revelation that Indian journalists and human rights activists were among some 1,400 people globally spied upon using a surveillance technology developed by Israel-based NSO Group is inadequate and, more unfortunately, far from reassuring. Thursday’s disclosure by Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which is suing the Israeli company in a California federal court for the hack, is a chilling reminder that nothing is private in the digital world, given the right tools. In this case, a malicious code, named Pegasus, exploited a bug in the call function of WhatsApp to make its way into the phones of those select users, where it would potentially have had access to every bit of information. But the disclosure raises a more worrying question: on whose directions were the Indian journalists and human rights activists spied upon? There are a few reasons why this question is important. One, this was not done with money in mind. Two, as the NSO says on its website, “NSO products are used exclusively by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and terror.” The NSO, by its own admission, sells its service only to government agencies. Three, those targeted include civil rights activists, lawyers, and journalists. Notably, some of them have legally represented activists arrested in the case related to the violence in Bhima Koregaon in 2018. Lawyer Nihalsing Rathod, academic Anand Teltumbde, Dalit activist Vivek Sundara, and human rights lawyer Jagdish Meshram are some of those who have been targeted by Pegasus. Who would have wanted to snoop on them?

•It is, therefore, extremely important for the Government to clear the air on this issue in no uncertain terms especially when WhatsApp had given information to CERT-IN, a government agency, in May, even if without any mention of Pegasus or the extent of breach. It is all right to ask WhatsApp, as the Government has done, as to why the breach happened and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of its users in India, estimated to be around 400 million. In separate statements, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Ministry of Home Affairs have expressed concern about privacy breaches while at the same time hinting that this issue is being politicised and an attempt is being made to malign the Government. This is hardly a trivial issue, as it concerns the digital well-being of citizens, the very thing this Government says it wants to promote. In a country where data protection and privacy laws are still in a nascent stage, incidents such as this highlight the big dangers to privacy and freedom in an increasingly digital society. It is thus imperative that the Government sends a strong message on privacy, something that the Supreme Court in 2017 declared to be intrinsic to life and liberty and therefore an inherent part of the fundamental rights. The first thing it could do is to answer categorically if any of the governmental agencies used NSO’s services.




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