Current Affairs in English

28 June 2021 The Hindu Editorial

1) New Delhi’s tactical half-measure on Kashmir

GS 2- Centre state relations

Context: In the given article the author discuss about the meeting between the representatives of mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and the central leadership and it’s consequences.

What’s the issue?

The author argues that it is more than a conflict resolution exercise, the agenda-less meeting was more about the ruling government setting the rules of politics in Kashmir and getting them accepted by the mainstream stakeholders in J&K.

Clever political move

Organising the all-party meeting was a clever political move by ruling government for a variety of reasons.

The two justifications made by the ruling government for the decisions of 2019 — ushering in a new era of development and prosperity in J&K, and rooting out terrorism from Kashmir

This seem to have disappeared from public memory today. There has been little development in the now Union Territory since 2019.

Until the India-Pakistan ceasefire of February this year, the security situation in the Kashmir Valley saw no significant improvement despite the double lockdown.

As for home-grown insurgency, there is no way to measure anti-India sentiments in the Union Territory given the strict security clampdown and the subsequent double lockdown.

Brandishing the absence of violent protests during a double lockdown as a measure of success of the 2019 decisions is methodologically erroneous.

The author  argues that neither has the removal of special status improved the economic conditions of the general population  nor has it been helpful in rooting out Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the Valley or reducing anti-India feelings there.

Ruling party’s political gains

The author claims that the ruling party’s Kashmir grand strategy has hardly been a failure especially since the key objectives of its mission Kashmir were different from the stated ones.

By politically reaching out to Kashmir now, New Delhi has lost nothing given that both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister had stated several times in the past that Statehood would be returned to J&K at an ‘appropriate time’.

Statehood versus Article 370 was a carefully thought-out artificial choice made by the ruling government to gain advantage during future negotiations.

The offer of Statehood without the reunification of the State or return of special status, New Delhi would have laid down the rules of the game in Kashmir.

Therefore, the demands for the restoration of Statehood, and the well-timed and purposefully long drawn-out negotiations thereof, will bury the mainstream political demand for Article 370.

The author furthur argues that , perhaps most importantly, the real gain for the ruling party is ideological.

Bilateral implications

Pakistan, had maintained ever since August 2019 that it would not engage in a dialogue process with India until New Delhi retracts the Kashmir decisions of 2019.

Pakistan tried to internationalise what it called India’s “annexation” of Kashmir but garnered little support, and increased the heat on the LoC and inside Kashmir, again to no avail.

Islamabad’s stated position has evidently changed with the February 2021 ceasefire agreement on the LoC and the backchannel talks preceding it.

If New Delhi offers Statehood to J&K,  Pakistan might be open to talks with India.

By offering to return Statehood to Kashmir and politically burying the issue of J&K’s special status, New Delhi has won a tactical victory over Pakistan without making any real concessions.

On the brighter side it has the potential to bring the two sides to the negotiating table on various outstanding bilateral issues.

New Delhi has clearly signalled to Pakistan how far it will go on the Kashmir question and how far it will tolerate the menace of terrorism.

The challenges

Whether or not ruling party’s political gain vis-à-vis the Kashmiri political parties, and tactical gain over Pakistan will help root out insurgency and terrorism from Kashmir is something we will have to wait and see.

The author further states that the ruling government has not politically reached out to the Kashmiri dissidents is indicative of the fact that it will want to single-handedly dictate the contours of politics in Jammu and Kashmir — ceding limited space to the mainstream political parties, and little space for either the dissidents or Pakistan.

A cursory glance at Jammu and Kashmir’s history would show that New Delhi’s deals with Kashmir’s mainstream politicians routinely found little favour with either the ordinary Kashmiri or the agitating Kashmiri.


2) On the margins with full equality still out of reach

GS 2- Vulnerable section

Context: In the given article the author talks about the rights of the minority sexual commnities.Despite judicial verdicts, India’s sexual minorities face discrimination in employment, health issues and personal rights.

What’s the matter?

The  Google Doodle of Dr. Frank Kameny (1925-2011), an American astronomer, veteran, and gay rights activist, led to worldwide awareness of gay rights.

Kameny, in the early 1970s, ‘successfully challenged the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder’. The global LGBTQ+ community marched ahead after the 1970s.

In India, the queer community is still a stigmatised and invisible minority, a fact that is alarmingly incompatible with the country’s living, liberal and inclusive Constitution.

Despite such a liberating Constitution, the Indian state and the law have been abusing and given many marginalised segments of the citizenry such as the queer community of India the cold shoulder.

Launch pad for jurisprudence

The meagre gains that the queer community won have been granted by the judiciary; not by legislatures.

The Supreme Court of India’s ruling in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. vs Union of India (2018), that the application of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to consensual homosexual behaviour between adults was “unconstitutional, irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”,

This judgement has been a great victory to the Indian individual in his quest for identity and dignity. This judgment has provided a launch pad for the LGBTQ+ jurisprudence and queer liberation movement in India.

Delhi High Court’s verdict in Naz Foundation vs Government of NCT of Delhi (2009) was a 38th parallel in the law of sexuality and equality jurisprudence in India.

The court held that Section 377 offended the guarantee of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, because it creates an unreasonable classification and targets homosexuals as a class.

Despite the judgments of the Supreme Court, queer community still lacks full equality in India. In matters of employment, health and personal relationship, there is still a lot of discrimination against sexual minorities.

 When these problems are adequately addressed that the LGBTQ+ community will be able to enjoy full autonomy and agency.

Legal sanction opposed

Union of India has recently opposed any move to accord legal sanction to same-sex marriages in India stating that the decriminalisation of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code does not automatically translate into a fundamental right for same sex couples to marry.

As of 2021, same-sex marriage is legally performed and recognised in 29 countries. Indian society and the state should synchronise themselves with changing trends.

Amend Article 15

Article 15 secures the citizens from every sort of discrimination by the state, on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them.

This Article is the cornerstone of the concept that equality is the antithesis of discrimination.

The author argues that grounds of non-discrimination should be expanded by including gender and sexual orientation.

In May 1996, South Africa became the first country to constitutionally prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The United Kingdom passed the “Alan Turing law” in 2017 which ‘granted amnesty and pardon to the men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts’.

Alan Turing, a World War II code-breaker and computing genius, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, provided a ‘posthumous pardon.

The Indian state should also enact a law on these lines to do justice to the ‘prisoners of sexual conscience’.

Justice Rohinton F. Nariman had directed in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors., the Government to sensitise the general public and officials, including police officials, to reduce and finally eliminate the stigma associated with LGBTQ+ community through the mass media and the official channels.

School and university students too should be sensitised about the diversity of sexuality to deconstruct the myth of heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is the root cause of hetero-sexism and homophobia.

Conclusion

For Queeristan, the Constitution has been ‘a beautiful and ineffectual angel’ so far. Hence, it is time for change; but the burden should not be left to the powers that be. The onus remains with the civil society, the citizenry concerned and the LGBTQ+ community itself.


3) The power of an apology (GS 1 World History; GS 2 IR; GS 4 ethical issues in international relations)

Context –

In May, Germany apologised to Namibia for the murder of the Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908, for the first time calling it a genocide.

Around the same time, in Rwanda, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged his country’s part in the Rwandan genocide and expressed hope for forgiveness.

Importance of Apology-

Apart from strengthening the relations between the countries involved, apologies by leaders help people reconcile with the past and countries and communities take lessons from history and avoid similar tragedies. Most importantly, they provide some solace to the victims’ descendants; they give them a sense of justice and rectitude.

Herero activists insist that the development aid offered by the German authorities is not enough and is generic in nature.

According to them, the descendants of the genocide’s victims should receive a tangible compensation, primarily in the form of land property that had been taken away by the German colonisers.

This is a complex issue, whereby it is difficult to find a mutually acceptable compromise. ‘What is the right price to pay for genocide?’ is a rhetorical question.

Turkey has been in constant denial of the Armenian genocide during World War I. In April 2021, the Turkish President went as far as condemning the recognition of the genocide by the newly elected American President, Joe Biden.

There is enough evidence that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War 1 was indeed genocide. Leaders like Mr. Erdogan seem to believe that asking for forgiveness can be interpreted as a sign of weakness. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has a propensity for apologies. According to him, “apologies for things in the past are important to make sure that we actually understand and know and share and do not repeat those mistakes”.

In 2016, Mr. Trudeau apologised before the descendants of passengers of the Komagata Maru ship. In 1914, the Canadian government of the day had decided to turn away the ship carrying South Asian migrants, mostly Sikhs. The ship was forced to return to India. Back home, the British suspected the passengers to be revolutionaries and an altercation began. Many passengers were shot dead.

In 2018, Mr. Trudeau apologised for his country’s role in turning away a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

Such apologies require courage, good will, compassion, and humility. It is not an easy task to apologise, given that one has to do so for events that took place decades or even a century ago.

Conclusion –

Arguably, a sense of humility is a rare phenomenon in contemporary geopolitics.

We are witnessing a re-emergence of political leaders, from Nicaragua to Myanmar, who are ready to resort to any means in order to remain in power.

In this environment, apologetic voices become even more precious as they help us reconcile with tragic events of the past and remove the stains of history. Besides, they add a moral dimension to international relations.

In this sense, to be a pillar of the multipolar world is not to be a military power, manufacturing and/or financial hub, and/or a global investor alone.

Countries that strive for global leadership should be able to provide moral leadership as well.

This includes critical self-reflection, humility, compassion, and care not only towards their own people, but also towards the most vulnerable communities around the world.

 

Probable Question –

1)   Recently we have seen the phenomena of apology from the leaders of the various nations for their respective counties’ actions in the past. Elaborate such events. Can India government  seek apology from the British government for colonial repression? Justify your argument. (GS 1)

2)   Comment about efficacy of ‘Apology Diplomacy’ we have experienced recently. How will it impact soft power of the respective country? (GS 2)

3)   What is role of ‘Apology diplomacy’ in ethical issues in international relations? Write some suitable examples. (GS 4)


28.06.21 Mains Expected Questions

Q.1) Even today the LGBTQ+ community of India faces discrimination in terms of health, personal issues and employment. In the light of the above statement discuss the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and measures to address them.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com

 

Q.2) With a neighbour on the FATF’s grey list and nuclear armed, what are the challenges that India faces on it’s borders with Pakistan and what are the means to address them.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com

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