Lord Dalhousie – Founder of modern India

Lord Dalhousie was an able administrator, though forceful and tough. His contribution in the development of communication-railways, roads, postal and telegraph services-contiributed to the modernization and unity of India. His notable achievement was the creation of modern, centralized states.

Other measures with the same object were carried out in the Company’s own territories. Bengal, long ruled by the Governor-General or his delegate, was placed under its own Lieutenant-Governor in May 1854.

A department of public works was in each presidency, and engineering colleges were provided. An imperial system of telegraphs followed. The first link of railway communication was completed in 1855.

The construction of massive irrigation works such as the 350-mile Ganges Canal, which contains thousands of miles of distributaries, was a substantial project that was particularly beneficial for the largely agricultural India.

He created an imperial system of post-offices, reducing the rates of carrying letters and introducing postage stamps. He created the department of public instruction; he improved the system of inspection of goals, abolishing the practice of branding convicts; freed converts to other religions from the loss of their civil rights; inaugurated the system of administrative reports; and enlarged the Legislative Council of India

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To the civil service he gave improved leave and pension rules, while he purified its moral by forbidding all share in trading concerns, by vigorously punishing insolvents, and by his personal example of careful selection in the matter of patronage.

Another consequential set of reforms, were those aimed at modernizing the land tenure and revenue system.

Challenges for women

The status of women in India has been subject to many changes over the span of recorded Indian history. Their position in history deteriorated early in India’s ancient period, especially in the Indo-Aryan speaking region and their subordination continued to be refined well with India’s early modern period.

Even though, women nowadays are aware of their basic rights like right to vote, right to freedom etc but most women of India are unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive traditions. Some of the challenges faced by India women are:

=> Gender discrimination: Women face discrimination right from the birth in the form of female foeticide and infanticide.

=>Major socio-cultural challenges such as patriarchy and gender inequality in society is the main cause of women’s deprivation by way of health, food and nutrition, more susceptible to mortality and contributing to unbalanced male female ratio as well as in the sphere of education, employment, wages and that of political representation. Subsequently this has led to increasing violence and denial of human rights, liberty, equality and justice.

=> The patriarchal family system that prevails in India gives more rights and authorities to the male enabling them to enjoy more power over the female in the family. So women are suppressed, oppressed, harassed, subjugated and deprived of even their basic rights till date.

=>Illiteracy and traditional beliefs and practices of family have prevented a great majority of women from access to health care and knowledge about their rights and privileges resulting in high rate of maternal mortality and morbidity. The high mortality rates among women as revealed by maternal death due to various diseases indicate that women health in general and reproductive health in particular are neglected in our society.

=> Rising crime and violence against women is only due to social stigma that women are weaker section of society. Due to financial constraints and acute poverty, young girls are often married at a very early stage.

=> Political challenges such as less political participation and Pati panchayats affects the role of women in decision-making process in society. Even after the reservation in Panchayats, women leaders are often used as a rubber stamp by their male family members thereby affecting the significance of the laws enacted by the government for women empowerment.

Conclusion:

Rightly did Swami Vivekanand say, “Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing only, a Nation cannot march forward if the women are left behind”.Men and women are two halves of a perfect whole. Therefore the women ought to be empowered as well as respected.

UAPA Act

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 is a law that aims at preventing any unlawful activities by any association that might jeopardise India’s sovereignty and integrity. Parliament has recently passed the UAPA Bill in 2019 which have made some changes in the existing law.

Amendments:

In the existing law, only the associations/groups are termed “terrorist organisations”. However, in the new bill, individuals can be designated as ” terrorists “.

The new existing law states that the power to conduct investigations on cases related to UAPA rest with officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or ACP and above whereas the new bill provides this power to officers of the rank of inspectors and above. The changes are not made on aspects related to arrest and bails.

In the existing law, the NIA must have prior permission from the Director General of Police before seizure or attachment of properties. However, the bill gives the power to NIA to approve of the seizure or attachment of the property without any permission from the DGPs.

International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism(2005) has been added in the amendment.

Conclusion

Human Rights groups are openly opposing the proposed changes in the laws. According to them, notifying an individual as a terrorist without giving him an opportunity of being heard violates the individual’s right to dignity and reputation, which is a facey of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.

Further, the ambiguous nature of the act affects federal structure of the nation as it gives more power to the central government. Branding anyone a terrorist without any judicial process, legal consequences and defence and limited justice for the accused and curtailing the powers of the State Police Forces are among the concerns with regard to the bill.

The idea behind passing of such amendments was to strengthen the security of a nation from external state and non-state actors. However, an integrated approach should be followed while making such amendments to create a balance between human rights, fundamental rights and national security.

Pegasus – A malicious software

Pegasus, a malicious software, has been developed in 2010 by the Israel firm, the NSO(Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio-company’s founders) group. It was initially discovered for iOS devices later it extended to the Android devices.

Birth of Pegasus:

2016 – Hackers send malicious link to the targeted persons(smartphones,laptops) via text messages and email. This process was given a name called “spear fishing”.

2019 – Pegasus got updated where a single missed call on WhatsApp can infiltrate a device and even delete the record of this missed call which makes it difficult for the user to know what had happened to their device.

Also in the same year, WhatsApp Pegasus exploited a bug in its code to infect more than 1,400 iPhones and Android phones. These include journalists, government officials and human rights activists. But soon WhatsApp done away with the bug.

2021 – The Pegasus Project,an international investigative journalism effort, proved that various governments used the software to spy on opposition politicians, government officials, activists, journalists and many other.

Working of Pegasus:

=> Once the Pegasus got installed in a device, the entire control of device is in hacker’s hands. It gives access to hacker to gather data and forwards to the third party without the consent of the user.

=> It can read messages, emails, take screenshots, access contacts and know browser history.

=> Through hijacking, hacker gets access to microphone and camera turning it into a real-time surveillance device through capturing all activities in the phone’s vicinity.

=> Pegasus sends back the private data of the user to the hacker including contact list, calendar events, passwords, text messages and live voice calls from popular messaging apps thus accentuating the chances of user being blackmailed.

=> It is a software that can compromise a phone without the user having to click on a single link called “Zero-link-attack“.

=> Business executives, activists politicians, heads of state, many Royal Family members of Arab, journalists were found to be on the targeted list.

How to detect:

Mobile Verification Tool: A tool to check whether your phone has been targeted to attack or not and works with both iOS devices and Android. It has been developed by researchers at Amnesty International.

Measures taken to mitigate cyber crimes:

International Telecommunication Union: It is a specialized agency within the United Nations which plays an significant role in development and standardization of telecommunication and cyber security issues.

Budapest convention: An international convention which seeks to address Internet and computer crime by improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation among nations. India is not a signatory to this convention.

Conclusion:

The government need to take certain measures to restrict the usage only for authorized agencies and purposes. Unrestricted usage will become power to hackers and a pain to the society. To reap the benefits of this software, proper implementation is necessary.

Afghanistan-India-Taliban

India-Afghanistan relation:

The relation between India and Afghanistan dates back to the post independence period. Both Government of India and Royal government of Afghanistan have happily signed the Treaty of Friendship in 1950.

India-Taliban relation:

In 1996, the capture of Kabul by Taliban have posed serious threat to the Indian interests and influence in Afghanistan. Hijacking of IC flight 814 and followed landings in Kandahar, Afghanistan added fuel to the existing disturbances between India and Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The U.S have shown it’s heroic characteristics in it’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when it ousted Taliban from Afghanistan. The situation is saved for India. This gave vaccum for the India to regain its influence in Afghanistan and made investments worth over $3 billon. From then onwards economic and defense ties have cemented between India and Afghanistan.

Current situation in Afghanistan:

The withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan base gave an opportunity for Taliban to bag more territories under its control. Over third of Afghanistan which tantamount to more than 400 districts have came under Taliban control.

Is this gonna be headache to India?

Yes of course it is. As India made huge investments in Afghanistan, there is a need for India to be concerned about the political situation in Afghanistan.

About the talk-to-the-Taliban option:

Considering the investments made in Afghan, it is necessary for India to count all it’s stakeholders. As Taliban powers have accentuated with the withdrawal of U.S troops, India should think about the talks with Taliban in order to safeguard it’s interests.

India should develop stronger ties with Taliban as anything less than that would give more space to occupy for Pakistan which pose threat to India’s internal security.

Taliban was also in desperate need of recognition in international community. So the chances for Taliban welcoming India’s partnership are more likely.

As Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan are competing to portray themselves as shapers of Afghanistan’s political and geopolitical destiny, India cannot be the odd one out in this regard.

The proactive approach would aid India open up the congested north-western frontier,proceed for back channel talks with Pakistan, to give way for India’s continental strategy.

Recommendations:

India talks with Taliban shouldn’t dilute the existing cordial relationship between India and Afghanistan.

India should shed it’s inhibitions and replace the hesitant and indulge in open talks with Taliban instead of doing backchannel talks.

Taliban even in a desperate need for recognition in international community so it is obvious that Taliban would be intrigued to have more global partners.

India should adopt a layered approach in dealing with the issues in Afghanistan. Safeguarding India’s interests should be short term goal while finding a solution for political situation in Afghanistan being the long term goal.

India should be the part of unfolding great game in and around Afghanistan.

Conclusion:

Non-engagement with Taliban would do more harm than good. The talk-to-the-Taliban is indeed the best of the many less than perfect options available to India. Any step taken in the direction of developing talks with Taliban is welcoming in both strategic and economic sense.

Farm Loan Waiver

Before diving to the details about loan waiver let’s all get an idea about what actually is loan waiver.

Farm loan waiver: To assist the farmers who are in distress, the Government came up with the process called Loan waiver. In accordance with this, the government will pay defaulted loans taken by the farmers. There is a timeline vis-a-vis when this process took it’s birth but acknowledging those details are meant to eat your time. But dont worry I will fill you about the details in gist/crisp manner.

2016-18: States too have followed the footsteps of Union Government and adopted loan waiver. Ex. Madhyapradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Andhrapradesh etc.

Budget -2008: Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (ADWDRS) promised to pay loans taken by the small&marginal farmers and other farmers offering waiving percentage 100% and 25% respectively.

2017- Considering the problems faced by farmers during demonetization, the Budget (17) announced 60 days of interest waivers to farmers.

Arguments in favor:

=>Few people opine that the situation of farmers since a decade(2008-18) have became worse with post-subpime crisis (2008), global financial crisis (2008) ,droughts (2017, 18), and demonetization (2016). These have raised issues like dropping down prices and demand for the products example being textile industry in international market and are forced to sell them in domestic market at cheaper rates

=>In addition to this, the government have came up with the plans of restructuring for loans by corporate borrowers which reinforced support-farmer people to demand for same as debt waiver.

=>Violent agrarian agitations in Maharashtra, Uttarpradesh and Madhyapradesh also made it visible the pathetic plight of the farmers.

=>Farmers are being more prone to Debt Overhang (where all the income earned so far was used to repay accumulated debts) and are forced to use savings/income in buying farm inputs(seeds, fertilizers, pesticides)

Challenges associated with loan waiver:

” Loan waivers undermine credit culture. NPA problem will get aggravated ” __ ex-RBI Governor Urjit Patel

“Farm loan waiver should not form part of election poll promises”__ Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan

These are only individual opinions but serious measures are yet to be taken and implemented.

=>Impact on behavior: Loan waiver reduces the hard working capacity and chances for developing negligent behavior/lack of discipline in farmers are more likely.

=>Partial Coverage: Out of 100% loans borrowed by farmers only 60% are from formal sector(banks,NBFCs) and rest of the borrowings are from informal sector (Marwadi, Shroff). So even though government announced loan waiver significant percentage of farmers deprived of benefit.

=>Feedback: Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) commented on ADWDRS which implemented in 2008 ,as it is prone to serious exclusion and inclusive errors. Also Economic Survey-2017 pointed out that loan waivers haven’t contributed neither in accentuating GDP contribution nor in development of farmers.

=>Multiplier Effect: WHO recommended 5% of GDP to health sector whereas the actual allocation was less than 2%.The amount allotted for waiving tantamount to 1.5% of GDP. So it would be justifiable for the government to invest money in the schemes which promotes welfare for majority of populace than in the schemes which have serious implications on other developmental expenditure.

=>Fiscal Deficit: It would be burdensome on state governments implementing the waiver process and there are also chances that a particular state would end up in inflation too. Ex: Report in 2017 by RBI quoted that ₹88000 crores used as loan waiver by 7 States ( Uttarpradesh. Maharashtra etc) notified as a states with inflation.

=>No recognition: Loan waiver focussed mainly on cultivators and the truth that agricultural workers are also being impacted was neglected.

Farmers distress is a real and pressing problem.But the government intervention has hurt more than it has helped.Loan waiver is not a magic wand that could solve the long-standing problems, it could only be used as a temporary relief (like a bandage to serious wound).There are certain issues to be considered in this regard to get ushered in right direction. Like proper identification of vulnerable farmers, enhancing non-farm works, improving technology , expansion of irrigation cover ,focussing on long-term solutions etc.

Hope you have enjoyed the article. Happy reading!