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In Manipur, Nagas rally for early solution of peace process

IMPHAL: Seeking an honourable and logical conclusion to the NSCN (I-M) and Centre peace process, a large number of Nagas on Tuesday took out a rally in four districts of Manipur.

Held under the aegis of the United Naga Council (UNC) — a conglomerate of several Naga civil bodies — the rallies were staged at the headquarters of Tamenglong, Ukhrul, Chandel and Senapati districts. The protesters also submitted a memoranda to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the respective district administrations highlighting the same plea.

This comes at a time when various civil bodies of the state are pressing the Centre to protect Manipur’s territorial integrity and unity while finalising a deal. Holding banners reading “Peace rally for honourable and logical conclusion of India-Naga peace talk”, the protesters, some of whom also held small ‘NSCN (IM) flags’, began the march at around 11 am .

The Nagas said that the peace march was aimed at drawing the attention of the Centre that the Nagas want a logical and honourable political solution to the decades-old Naga problem. The memorandum submitted to the PM reda, “Under your able leadership, the historic Indo-Naga Framework agreement was signed on 3rd August in New Delhi paving the way for a final settlement which we hope will be acceptable and honorable to the Naga people.”

It added, “While assuring our unwavering participation and support to the peace building initiatives in our land, we earnestly entreat you to conclude the Indo-Naga peace process keeping in mind the ‘Unique history and situation of the Nagas’ and based on the true spirit of Framework Agreement signed on 3rd August.” The Nagas are also convinced that a separate Naga national flag and constitution must be recognized by virtue of the unique history and shall form the basis of the final settlement, the memorandum said. “We repose our faith in your visionary leadership and would prayerfully anticipated peace and progress in our land,” the memo added. (TNN)

Politics

As Myanmar Genocide Hearing Closes, Focus Is on Trapped Rohingya

Half a world away from the elegant confines of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where Myanmar is being accused of genocide in a landmark case that opened this week, a Rohingya Muslim man was preparing to die.

It was, he said by phone on Thursday, going to be a slow demise. His village in Rakhine State in far western Myanmar had been attacked in recent weeks. The rice had been ready to harvest, but Buddhists had stolen the crop. Aid from international groups had ceased. People were hungry, sick and desperate.

“I have a home and a rice field, but I am just waiting to die,” said the man, who did not want his name used because he feared he would be killed for speaking out.

This week’s dramatic opening in The Hague saw agonizing testimony about the mass slaughter and rape of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military and local mobs, followed by strenuous denials from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader, that there had been any orchestrated persecution of the Muslim minority.

But the three days of hearings, which ended on Thursday, had a narrower objective than deciding whether Myanmar’s treatment of the mostly stateless minority group constitutes the gravest of international crimes. A determination of whether Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country, is guilty of acting with genocidal intent could take years to make.

The point of this week’s legal proceedings, instead, was to determine whether judges need to issue an emergency order to protect the Rohingya still in Myanmar from what United Nations investigators say is an ongoing genocidal campaign. The judges said on Thursday that they would issue a decision as soon as possible.

After decades of discrimination, capped by slaughter, rape and wholesale village burnings in 2017 — atrocities that have been well documented by human rights groups and journalists — there are now far more Rohingya living outside of their homeland in Rakhine than inside it.

Over the years, about a million have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where they live in a series of settlements that constitute the world’s largest refugee camp. Others survived perilous passages by boat to work as migrant workers elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Thousands more toil in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia.

The roughly half a million Rohingya still in Rakhine survive at the whim of a security state that considers them foreign interlopers. Their tenuous situation has been aggravated in recent months by open warfare between Myanmar’s military and another ethnic group native to the state, the Rakhine.

In testimony presented to the court this week, lawyers for Gambia, the West African country that has brought the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice on behalf of other Muslim-majority nations, said that the Rohingya in Rakhine are facing mounting pressure, even the risk of starvation.

“The evidence of Myanmar’s genocidal intentions has actually strengthened over the past year,” said Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, a lawyer on the Gambian team.

Officials in the state, however, said the fact that Muslims still lived in Rakhine proved that crimes against humanity were not unfolding.

“Gambia’s accusation that genocide is going on in Rakhine is nonsense because there are some Muslims still living here peacefully,” said U Win Myint, a spokesman for the Rakhine State government. “If you still can see them in Rakhine State, how can you say there is a genocide?”

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has said that her government is committed to welcoming back Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh. But since the Rohingya exodus, the local government has taken over some of their villages, which had been razed by fire, and built security bases and government buildings on the land.

Since outbreaks of sectarian violence in 2012, Rohingya living in and around Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, have been confined to internment camps. Sittwe’s grandest mosques have fallen into disrepair. Others were reduced to rubble.

Fatima Khatun, a 30-year-old Rohingya who graduated from what was once a religiously mixed high school in Sittwe, said her husband had died this year of what should have been an easily treatable case of kidney stones.

“We couldn’t get him to the hospital in time,” she said, sitting in her wooden shack in an internment camp on Sittwe’s outskirts. “Now my family has nothing.”

Late last month, 95 Rohingya, including 23 children, boarded a boat to try to escape the country, only to be caught by the authorities as their vessel rounded the bulk of the Myanmar landmass for the Andaman Sea. They are now in prison, charged with illegal movement, according to a rights group, Fortify Rights.

Because most Rohingya lack citizenship in their homeland, they are not allowed to travel freely inside Myanmar.

At the International Court of Justice on Wednesday, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi disputed the notion that the military, with whom her government now shares power, had planned a genocide of the Rohingya.

She accused the Gambian team of painting “an incomplete and misleading factual picture” of what happened in Rakhine and insisted authorities in Myanmar were trying to help the Muslim group.

Scholarships would be made available to Muslim students, she said, even though almost no Rohingya have had access to higher education for years.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi also said on Wednesday that Myanmar could depend on its own justice system to prosecute any crimes that might have occurred in Rakhine, obviating the need for an international court to get involved.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi pointed to a guilty verdict in which a military tribunal convicted seven soldiers for their roles in the killing of 10 Rohingya in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine in 2017. Details of that massacre were uncovered by two Reuters reporters of Myanmar nationality, who spent more than 16 months in jail for their exposé.

U Aung Than Wai, a politician from the ethnic Rakhine minority, which is embroiled in its own insurgency with the state of Myanmar, was in jail with the seven soldiers back when he was a political prisoner. The military men were given premium cigarettes by their jailers, he said, and beer, too.

In November 2018, less than a year into the soldiers’ 10-year sentences, Mr. Aung Than Wai looked at a notice board of inmates who would be released in the coming week and saw the soldiers’ names listed, he said.

“I was shocked that they killed innocent people in cold blood and they were being released early,” he said. “I knew then that there was no rule of law in Myanmar.”

Hannah Beech reported from Bangkok and Saw Nang from Mandalay, Myanmar. Marlise Simons contributed reporting from The Hague.

By Hannah Beech and 
The New York Times

 

Human Rights, Politics

What is CAB ? Isn’t it a injustice and deprivation to Assam

 

THE CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019
A BILL
further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
BE it enacted by Parliament in the Seventieth Year of the Republic of India as
follows:—
1. (1) This Act may be called the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, appoint.
Short title and
commencement.
Bill No. 370 of 2019
AS INTRODUCED IN LOK SABHA
5
2
2. In the Citizenship Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), in section 2,
in sub-section (1), in clause (b), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—
“Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or
Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into
India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the
Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the
Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the
Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as
illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act;”.
3. After section 6A of the principal Act, the following section shall be inserted,
namely:—
‘6B. (1) The Central Government or an authority specified by it in this behalf
may, subject to such conditions, restrictions and manner as may be prescribed, on an
application made in this behalf, grant a certificate of registration or certificate of
naturalisation to a person referred to in the proviso to clause (b) of sub-section (1) of
section 2.
(2) Subject to fulfilment of the conditions specified in section 5 or the
qualifications for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule, a
person granted the certificate of registration or certificate of naturalisation under
sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be a citizen of India from the date of his entry into
India.
(3) On and from the date of commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment)
Act, 2019, any proceeding pending against a person under this section in respect of
illegal migration or citizenship shall stand abated on conferment of citizenship to him:
Provided that such person shall not be disqualified for making application for
citizenship under this section on the ground that the proceeding is pending against
him and the Central Government or authority specified by it in this behalf shall not
reject his application on that ground if he is otherwise found qualified for grant of
citizenship under this section:
Provided further that the person who makes the application for citizenship
under this section shall not be deprived of his rights and privileges to which he was
entitled on the date of receipt of his application on the ground of making such
application.
(4) Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya,
Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the
area covered under “The Inner Line” notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier
Regulation, 1873.’.
4. In section 7D of the principal Act,—
(i) after clause (d), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—
“(da) the Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has violated any of the
provisions of this Act or provisions of any other law for time being in force as
may be specified by the Central Government in the notification published in the
Official Gazette; or”.
(ii) after clause (f), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—
“Provided that no order under this section shall be passed unless the
Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder has been given a reasonable opportunity
of being heard.”.
5. In section 18 of the principal Act, in sub-section (2), after clause (ee), the following
clause shall be inserted, namely:—
“(eei) the conditions, restrictions and manner for granting certificate of
registration or certificate of naturalisation under sub-section (1) of section 6B;”.
Amendment
of section 2.
Reg. 5 of 1873.
34 of 1920.
31 of 1946.
Insertion of
new section 6B.
Special
provisions as
to citizenship
of person
covered by
proviso to
clause (b) of
sub-section (1)
of section 2.
Amendment
of section 7D.
Amendment
of section 18.
57 of 1955.
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
3
6. In the Third Schedule to the principal Act, in clause (d), the following proviso shall
be inserted, namely:—
‘Provided that for the person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or
Christian community in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, the aggregate period of
residence or service of Government in India as required under this clause shall be
read as “not less than five years” in place of “not less than eleven years”.’.

_______________________________________

What Home Ministry published about CAB

Ministry:
Home Affairs
  • Introduced
    Lok Sabha
    Dec 09, 2019
  • Passed
    Lok Sabha
    Dec 09, 2019

The Citizenship Act, 1955 regulates who may acquire Indian citizenship and on what grounds.  A person may become an Indian citizen if they are born in India or have Indian parentage or have resided in the country for a period of time, etc.  However, illegal migrants are prohibited from acquiring Indian citizenship.  An illegal migrant is a foreigner who: (i) enters the country without valid travel documents, like a passport and visa, or (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period.[1]

Illegal migrants may be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.  The 1946 and the 1920 Acts empower the central government to regulate the entry, exit and residence of foreigners within India.  In 2015 and 2016, the central government issued two notifications exempting certain groups of illegal migrants from provisions of the 1946 and the 1920 Acts.[2]  These groups are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014.2  This implies that these groups of illegal migrants will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India without valid documents.

In 2016, a Bill was introduced to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.[3]  The Bill sought to make illegal migrants belonging to these six religions and three countries eligible for citizenship and made some changes in the provisions on registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.  It was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee, which submitted its report on January 7, 2019.[4]  The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019.[5]  However, it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.  Subsequently, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is being introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2019.

The 2019 Bill seeks to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.  It exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision.  The Bill also makes amendments to provisions related to OCI cardholders.  A foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.  This will entitle them to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country.  The Bill amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the central government.

Table 1 below compares the provisions of the 2016 Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) with that of the 2019 Bill.

Table 1: Comparison of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, as passed by Lok Sabha, with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (as passed by Lok Sabha) Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019
  • Eligibility for citizenship for certain illegal migrants:  The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. Illegal migrants are foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel document, or stay beyond the permitted time.
  • The Bill amended the Act to provide that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants.  In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.  The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passport, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.
  • The Bill further stated from the date of its enactment, all legal proceedings pending against such an illegal migrant will be closed.
  • The Bill adds two additional provisions on citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to these religions from the three countries.
  • Consequences of acquiring citizenship:  The Bill says that on acquiring citizenship: (i) such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India, and (ii) all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
  • Exception:  Further, the Bill adds that the provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.  These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.  It will also not apply to the areas under the Inner Line” under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.  The Inner Line Permit regulates visit of Indians to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
  • Citizenship by naturalisation:  The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, if the person meets certain qualifications. One of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or been in central government service for the last 12 months and at least 11 years of the preceding 14 years.
  • The Bill created an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with regard to this qualification. For these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to six years.
  • The Bill further reduces the period of naturalisation for such group of persons from six years to five years.
  • Grounds for cancelling OCI registration:  The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on five grounds including registration through fraud, showing disaffection to the Constitution, engaging with the enemy during war, necessity in the interest of sovereignty of India, security of state or public interest, or if within five years of registration the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The Bill added one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated any law that is in force in the country.
  • When the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha, this was amended to limit the disqualification to violations of the Citizenship Act or of any other law so notified by the central government.  Also, the cardholder has to be given an opportunity to be heard.
  • Same as the 2016 Bill passed by Lok Sabha.

Sources: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, as passed by Lok Sabha; The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019; PRS.

Issues to consider

Whether differentiating on grounds of religion is a violation of Article 14

The Bill provides that illegal migrants who fulfil four conditions will not be treated as illegal migrants under the Act.  The conditions are: (a) they are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians; (b) they are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan; (c) they entered India on or before December 31, 2014; (d) they are not in  certain tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, or  areas under the “Inner Line” permit, i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

Article 14 guarantees equality to all persons, including citizens and foreigners.  It only permits laws to differentiate between groups of people if the rationale for doing so serves a reasonable purpose.[6]  The question is whether this provision violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution as it provides differential treatment to illegal migrants on the basis of (a) their country of origin, (b) religion, (c) date of entry into India, and (d) place of residence in India.  We examine below whether these differentiating factors could serve a reasonable purpose.

First, the Bill classifies migrants based on their country of origin to include only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  The Statement of Objects and Reasons in the Bill (SoR) states that India has had historic migration of people with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and these countries have a state religion, which has resulted in religious persecution of minority groups.  While the SoR reasons that millions of citizens of undivided India were living in Pakistan and Bangladesh, no reason has been provided to explain the inclusion of Afghanistan.

Further, it is not clear why migrants from these countries are differentiated from migrants from other neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka (Buddhist state religion)[7] and Myanmar (primacy to Buddhism)[8].  Sri Lanka has had a history of persecution of a linguistic minority in the country, the Tamil Eelams.[9]  Similarly, India shares a border with Myanmar, which has had a history of persecution of a religious minority, the Rohingya Muslims.[10]  Over the years, there have been reports of both Tamil Eelams and Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution from their respective countries and seeking refuge in India.[11]  Given that the objective of the Bill is to provide citizenship to migrants escaping from religious persecution, it is not clear why illegal migrants belonging to religious minorities from these countries have been excluded from the Bill.

Second, with respect to classification based on religious persecution of certain minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, it may be argued that there are other religious minorities in these countries, who face religious persecution and may have illegally migrated to India.  For example, over the years, there have been reports of persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan (who are considered non-Muslims in that country)[12], and the murder of atheists in Bangladesh.[13]  It is unclear why illegal migrants from only six specified religious minorities have been included in the Bill.

Third, it is also unclear why there is a differential treatment of migrants based on their date of entry into India, i.e., whether they entered India before or after December 31, 2014.

Fourth, the Bill also excludes illegal migrants residing in areas covered by the Sixth Schedule, that is, notified tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.  The purpose behind the enactment of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was to aid in the development of tribal areas through autonomous councils, while protecting the indigenous population in these areas from exploitation and preserving their distinct social customs.[14]  The Bill also excludes the Inner Line Permit areas.  Inner Line regulates the entry of persons, including Indian citizens, into Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.  Once an illegal migrant residing in these areas acquires citizenship, he would be subject to the same restrictions in these areas, as are applicable to other Indian citizens.  Therefore, it is unclear why the Bill excludes illegal migrants residing in these areas.

Wide discretion to government to cancel OCI registration

The 1955 Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on various grounds.  The Bill adds one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated any law notified by the central government.  It further states that orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.

It may be argued that giving the central government the power to prescribe the list of laws whose violation result in cancellation of OCI registration, may amount to an excessive delegation of powers by the legislature.  The Supreme Court has held that while delegating powers to an executive authority, the legislature must prescribe a policy, standard, or rule for their guidance, which will set limits on the authority’s powers and not give them arbitrary discretion to decide how to frame the rules.[15]  The Bill does not provide any guidance on the nature of laws which the central government may notify.  Therefore, in the absence of standards, criteria or principles on the types of laws which may be notified by the government, it may be argued that the powers given to the executive may go beyond the permissible limits of valid delegation.

 

[1].  Section 2(1)(b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

[2].  G.S.R. 685 (E) and G.S.R. 686 (E), Gazette of India, September 7, 2015, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2015/165755.pdf; G.S.R. 702(E) and G.S.R. 703(E), Gazette of India, July 18, 2016, http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2016/170822.pdf.

[3]. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Citizenship_%28A%29_bill%2C_2016_0.pdf.

[4]. Report of the Joint Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Joint Parliamentary Committee, Lok Sabha, January 7, 2019, https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Joint%20committee%20report%20on%20citizenship%20%28A%29%20bill.pdf..

[5]. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (As passed by Lok Sabha), https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/bill_files/Citizenship%20%28A%29%20Bill%2C%202019%20as%20passed%20by%20LS.pdf.

[6].  State of West Bengal vs Anwar Ali Sarkar, AIR 1952 SC 75.

[7].  Article 9 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka states: “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).”

[8].  Articles 361 and 362 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar state the following.  “361. The Union recognizes special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the Union. 362. The Union also recognizes Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Animism as the religions existing in the Union at the day of the coming into operation of this Constitution.”

[9]. It is estimated that there are over a lakh Sri Lankan refugees in India, two-thirds of them in government camps.  See https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/why-lankan-refugees-are-reluctant-to-go-back-home/articleshow/65591130.cms

[10]. “Myanmar Rohingya: What you need to know about the crisis”, BBC News, April 24, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41566561.

[11]. “Why India is refusing refuge to Rohingyas”, Times of India, September 6, 2017, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/why-india-is-refusing-refuge-to-rohingyas/articleshow/60386974.cms.

[12].  The Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan passed in 1974 effectively declared Ahmaddiyas as non-Muslims.

[13].  For example, see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/11/bangladesh-murders-bloggers-foreigners-religion.

[14].  Report of the Sub-Committee on North East Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excluded Areas (Chairperson: Gopinath Bardoloi), July 28, 1947; Constituent Assembly of India Debates, Volume IX, 5th, 6th and 7th September, 1949.

[15].  Hamdard Dawakhana and Anr., v. The Union of India (UOI) and Ors., AIR1960SC554; Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies and Ors. vs. The State of Bihar and Ors., 2016(4) PLJR369.

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.  This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

Human Rights, Politics

Citizenship Amendment Bill

There are many reasons to oppose the government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) combined with a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). In its current form, the CAB seems to violate article 14 of the Constitution, which protects all persons, not just citizens, from discrimination. However, even those who support its stated objective should oppose it for one simple reason—its extremely high cost of error, which, given India’s poor state capacity, is inevitable.

The CAB aims to amend India’s Citizenship Act, which lays down the elements of Indian citizenship. The amendment states that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan… shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of that Act”. It protects individuals belonging to some groups from being declared illegal immigrants (and facing detention/deportation), and fast-tracks their citizenship, but categorically excludes Muslim immigrants from getting similar protection, even if they belong to minority and persecuted groups such as Ahmadis or Rohingyas.

The government is also considering a nationwide NRC. Once created, the NRC will list the names of all those included as Indian citizens. Those not on the list will get a chance to prove their status as citizens. If the exercise turns out like the one in Assam, those excluded will have a short period to appeal their exclusion, failing which they would face detention and deportation.

The exercise would be highly prone to error—both Type I and Type II. Type I errors, or false positives, mean mistakenly identifying a person as an immigrant from protected minority communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and erroneously giving them the benefit of Indian citizenship. Immigrants are usually a net economic benefit; so the costs of Type I errors are related to national security. These costs are not nationwide and typically limited to a handful of border districts in India.

Type II errors, or false negatives, occur when those who qualify as Indian citizens are mistakenly categorized as illegal immigrants. A nationwide NRC, if similar to the one in Assam, would imply that false negatives get sent to detention centres or deported, making Type II errors extremely costly. To minimize false negatives, the bar to qualify as a citizen has to be very simple and easily identifiable. Also, the state capacity to scrutinize the paperwork for the NRC has to be exceptionally high. The Indian state usually fails on both counts. Given the CAB’s current religious exclusionary basis, Muslims are at higher risk of exclusion through false negatives, though all groups, including Hindus, are likely to be affected by errors.

There are three main issues to consider here. The first is the trade-off between Type I and Type II errors. If, to avoid false positives, the government has a high level of scrutiny for NRC inclusion, all individuals will have the burden of meeting this higher bar. In the process, some might be mistakenly excluded. On the other hand, if the bar is set very low to prevent false negatives and erroneous exclusions, then some illegal immigrants may slip through the cracks. The current CAB framework, combined with the NRC, is set up to minimize false positives, which will automatically increase false negatives.

The second issue to consider is whether the costs of both kinds of errors are symmetric. In the case of symmetric costs, the trade-off between the two kinds of errors is of less concern. However, when the costs are asymmetric, the trade-off in the system must be considered. Illegal immigration is a minuscule problem nationwide and the concern of terrorist conduits is an issue in a handful of border districts. However, false negatives—that is, mistakenly excluding an Indian from the NRC—has an extremely high human cost because of the severe penalties. False negatives could tear families apart, and force the poor, who tend to lack documents, to spend their resources on legal appeals against detention, or spend years at detention centres. So, trading Type I errors for Type II errors is a very bad bargain for Indians.

The third issue is of the magnitude of error. If the government executes the task exceptionally well, such as for voter identity, and has a Type II error rate of just 5%, 67.5 million people will face action, equalling the human displacement caused by World War II. Most Indian systems have a far higher error rate. The State Of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 by IDinsight, covering 2,947 households, found that 8.8% of Aadhaar holders reported errors in their name, age, address or other information in their Aadhaar letter. In the NRC, a spelling mistake can deprive one of citizenship and 8.8% affects over 120 million people. If the Indian state outsources the project’s execution to an organization with capacity equalling Scandinavian government systems, with a very low error rate of 1%, 13.5 million Indians would still be erroneously excluded, equalling the human displacement caused by Partition.

Those who support the idea of the CAB and NRC need to take a hard look at our state capability to execute such a policy across the country. Once the human costs of error are acknowledged, surely even they would find it difficult to support such an error-prone exercise.

*Shruti Rajagopalan is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, US

Politics

Aung San Suu Kyi heads to Hague for Myanmar genocide showdown

A momentous legal confrontation will take place at the UN’s highest court this week when the Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi appears in person to defend Myanmar against accusations of genocide.

Once internationally feted as a human rights champion, Myanmar’s state counsellor is scheduled to lead a delegation to the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

The claim that Myanmar’s military carried out mass murder, rape and destruction of Rohingya Muslim communities has been brought by the Gambia, a west African state that belongs to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Peace Palace in The Hague

The contrast is repeatedly drawn between Aung San Suu Kyi’s 1991 peace prize win and 15 years spent under house arrest, and her present position as chief denier that any ethnic violence has been perpetrated against the Rohingya. Last year, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum revoked her Elie Wiesel award.

Sc. & Tech.

Rhino horns created in laboratory will help conservation reducing poaching

Chandan Kumar Duarah : – Scientists are going to produce artificial rhino horns of made of exactly same components and make it available in the black market.  Actually realistic fake rhino horns made from horse hair in an attempt to reduce illegal poaching. High price of rhino horn leaves bloody trail across the globe. While a number of ways have been proposed to address the problem of poaching and to reduce the demand in international market some scientists firmly believe the artificial horns made of same componets will reduce the poaching. From stigmatising the use of rhino horn to legalising domestic trade, experts say there is another option: swamp the market with fakes, means artificial.

In India, people driven by superstitions believe in  rhino horn as a protector of evils and misfortune. They use a piece of horn with purpose of ornamental as well as astrological. In South-east Asian countries powder if rhino horn is used in traditional medicine. Rhino horn is believed to have many benefits in Chinese medicine, including working as an aphrodisiac.  So horn is in demand for a range of uses, from traditional Chinese medicine to ornamental carvings, and the illegal international trade is thriving.

In South Africa alone, 769 rhinos were poached in 2018, and there have also been attempts to steal rhino horns from museums in Europe. In Assam, rhino poaching or deaths have not been stopped and many death cases has been kept under cover. A total of 239 one-horned rhinos have been killed by poachers in Assam from 2001 to 2016, and despite high security, most were from Kaziranga National Park, which accounted for 161, the state assembly was told by the department of forest of Assam. So cientists plan to flood black market with fake rhino horn to reduce its commercial uses and it will help poaching in India(Assam) as well as in Africa.

According to the scientists from the University of Oxford and Fudan University, Shanghai, this will be done by demonstrating a way to a vastly cheaper copy that can be used to infiltrate the market. “The economists seem to think that if you flood the market with substitutes, the price will drop,” said Prof Fritz Vollrath, the co-author of the research at the University of Oxford. “If the price drops and the penalty of having rhino horn is still very high, then the value proposition changes for the trader” he said. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Now scientists say they have made a convincing fake rhino horn by gluing together the hair of a horse’s tail, stripped of its outer layer. It is exactly same with horn of rhino unlike horns of other animals like cow, buffalos, deers, goats etc. The team say they chose horse hair because the animal is a close cousin to the rhinoceros, while the hairs have similar dimensions to the keratin filaments – or hair – that the team say make up rhino horn. The team uses “glue” which is a silk-based substance they say emulates the materials that fulfil the role in real rhino horn. They used cellulose also in the artificial mix to resemble the plant material that is incorporated when the animal sharpens its horn.

It is surprising that this material developd artificially shows similar chemical properties like rhino horns. The resulting material, said Vollrath, can easily be moulded into a rhino horn shape, dried under vacuum in a hot oven and polished. The upshot is a material that shows similar mechanical properties to the real deal, feels similar and even looks similar under a microscope. Analytical studies demonstrated similarities in composition and properties between natural and faux horns.

“It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy, as well as cheap, to make a bio-inspired horn-like material that mimics the rhino’s extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair,” the authors write. According to the researchers, it is important that plausible copies should be simple to produce while being very similar in both structure and chemical composition.

Co-author Ruixin Mi, from the Department of Macromolecular Science at Fudan University, says their study demonstrates that materials science can contribute to fundamental issues in biology and conservation. “The fundamental structure of the rhino horn is a highly evolved and tough fibre reinforced bio-composite and we hope that our attempts to copy it will not only undermine the trade in rhino horn but might also find uses as a novel bio-inspired material” he said.

The team believe the development could lead to the rhino horn market being swamped with faux horns, thereby sowing confusion and causing a price crash – making it less profitable for poachers to source the real thing. “[The idea is] any punter who wants to spend 1,000 quid on a couple of grams says, ‘Wait a minute, what is my probability that my stuff is real or that it is just horse hair?’” said Vollrath. “It is just rattling the market.” However, the team say it will be up to others to develop their idea.

The latest study is not the first to look at the possibility of producing fake horns. Among those working on the idea is the start-up Pembient, which is attempting to bioengineer fake horns that are genetically identical to the real thing. The first are reportedly expected to go on sale in 2022.

Dr Richard Thomas from the wildlife organisation Traffic said that while the latest study had good intentions, it posed considerable risks. “Pushing a synthetic alternative could help to reinforce the perception that rhino horn is a desirable commodity, thus perpetuating existing demand, while presenting consumers with a synthetic alternative may actually stimulate demand for the real thing, thus exacerbating the existing situation,” he said.  Thomas added that another problem was that unlabelled fake horn might bring legal and enforcement challenges. Fake horns may help smmuglers to tranportalthough Vollrath said experts would be able to spot the fake.

“This initiative to flood market with artificial horns, I doubt, would do more harm than any good. It would only reaffirm the faith of the users on the so called curative properties of the horn and could be a setback to the existing conservation strategies’  Mubina Akhtar, an environmentalist from Assam, India said.

Above all , it is important to reduce demand for rhino horn and scientists thik so.  Scientists believe this can be achieved through long-term consumer behavioural change interventions coupled with strong enforcement measures to deter would-be and existing consumers of rhino horn.

 

Sc. & Tech.

IBM and Google disagree on quantum computing achievement

  • Google has a new paper in Nature that shows the results of a quantum computing experiment.
  • One practical application of the technology could be a decade away, Google CEO Sundar Pichai says.

Image Google CEO Sundar Pichai stands with a quantum computer a Google laboratory in Santa Barbara, CaliforniaGoogle

Alphabet subsidiary Google on Wednesday touted a breakthrough in computing research that’s documented in the latest issue of the journal Nature. The paper was actually released online by accident last month by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which contributed on the research alongside Google, and was quickly removed. Now the full paper is live.

There’s just one problem: IBM thinks Google has overstated its achievement.

The controversy is the latest example of major technology companies trying to one-up each other in quantum computing, a futuristic realm with no clear winner yet. Microsoft and Intel have also been working actively in the area.

Quantum computing is utterly unlike today’s computing. Our existing PCs and mobile devices express information that ultimately gets boiled down to ones and zeros. Quantum computers work in quantum bits, or qubits, which is more nuanced — information can be a one and a zero at the same time.

This technology has promise. It could come in handy to solve problems that modern computers aren’t so good at. It could improve the computing of artificial intelligence models, and it could help with materials science and chemistry work. It could even be used to break encryption one day, and Google is aware of that possibility.

Google’s Nature paper talks about an experiment that researchers conducted with a custom 54-qubit processor called Sycamore. The goal for Google was attaining quantum supremacy — essentially doing something with a quantum computer that would take an impractically long time with normal computers. Google has been focused on the challenge of quantum supremacy — a concept that dates to 2012 — for some time.

“Our Sycamore processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times — our benchmarks currently indicate that the equivalent task for a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer would take approximately 10,000 years,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

“This dramatic increase in speed compared to all known classical algorithms is an experimental realization of quantum supremacy for this specific computational task, heralding a much-anticipated computing paradigm.”

Google tapped its own computing infrastructure as well as Summit, currently the world’s most powerful supercomputer, to simulate the quantum work and then extrapolate.

IBM took issue with the 10,000-year calculation.

“We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity,” IBM’s Edwin Pednault, John Gunnels and Jay Gambetta wrote in a blog post. They said quantum supremacy in the strictest terms had not in fact been accomplished.

Applications in drug discovery, climate change

Leaving aside IBM’s skepticism about how long it would take a classical computer to do what Google’s chip did, the question now becomes what Google, IBM and other companies will eventually be able to do with their quantum systems.

“We are only one creative algorithm away from valuable near-term applications,” the researchers wrote in the Nature paper.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked about this in an interview with MIT Technology Review. The answer suggests that the company at least has some clues about the possibilities.

“The real excitement about quantum is that the universe fundamentally works in a quantum way, so you will be able to understand nature better. It’s early days, but where quantum mechanics shines is the ability to simulate molecules, molecular processes, and I think that is where it will be the strongest. Drug discovery is a great example. Or fertilizers — the Haber process produces 2% of carbon [emissions] in the world. In nature the same process gets done more efficiently.”

Evolving the Haber process, he said, could be a decade away.

The IBMers also recognized that much more work lies ahead.

“For quantum to positively impact society, the task ahead is to continue to build and make widely accessible ever more powerful programmable quantum computing systems that can implement, reproducibly and reliably, a broad array of quantum demonstrations, algorithms and programs. This is the only path forward for practical solutions to be realized in quantum computers,” they wrote.

Politics

Ayodhya case: five SC lawyers refute reports of Muslim parties willing to give up claim over land

They say the Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee or Nirvana Akhara could be behind ‘leak’

Five Supreme Court lawyers issued a joint statement on Friday, refuting media reports that the Muslim parties were willing to relinquish their claim over the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land and said the Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee or Nirvana Akhara could be behind the “leak”.

The statement was issued by the advocates for the various Muslim parties, including the U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board. The advocates are Ejaz Maqbool, Shakil Ahmed Syed, M.R. Shamshad, Irshad Ahmad and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi.

On Wednesday, parties engaged in the mediation told the media that a settlement had been filed in the Supreme Court. They claimed that a consensus had been struck among certain Hindus and Muslim parties, in which the Sunni Waqf Board was said to have raised no objection to the acquisition of the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site by the government. The development came on the last day of the Supreme Court hearing of the Ayodhya appeals.

This was followed by news reports attributing to Shahid Rizvi, advocate on record, that the waqf board was willing to withdraw the claim on site of the Babri Masjid.

The lawyers’ statement contend that the “recent attempts before the mediation committee were not representative”.

The statement said only a “limited” number of persons attended the mediation — “Dharma Das of Nirvani Akhara, Zufar Faruqui of Sunni Central Waqf Board and Chakrapani of Hindu Maha Sabha. We are also made to understand that the two other persons interested may attended the mediation”.

The statement by the lawyers reasoned that it was hard to accept that mediation would have worked, as certain stakeholders across the religious divide had openly resisted attempts to make amends and settle the decades-old feud over the ownership of the disputed land.

“The leak to the press may have been inspired by either the mediation committee directly or those who participated in the said mediation proceedings or participants. It needs emphasis that such a leak was in total violation of the orders of the Supreme Court that had directed that such proceedings should remain confidential,” the statement said.

“The timing of the leak to the press and its confirmation by Mr. Rizvi on October 17, 2019, on the very date when the hearing closed seem to have been well thought out,” the statement said.

“Accordingly, we must make it absolutely clear that we, the appellants before Supreme Court, do not accept the proposal made, which has been leaked to the press, nor the procedure by which the mediation has taken place, nor the manner in which a withdrawal of the claim has been suggested as a compromise,” the statement said.  (The Hindu)