News Analysis 12 Sept, 2022

12 Sep, 2022


1. Path of Development of India - Bangladesh Relations
2. Major Challenges associated with Water Conservation
3. The Outline of an Essential Global Pandemic Treaty
4. Moving out of the shadows, from silence to assertion

1. Path of Development of India - Bangladesh Relations.


Theme : International Relations



                                  TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. India-Bangladesh Relations

      (c) Major Issues between India and Bangladesh

      (d) Important Steps to be taken


Context :
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s state visit to India and meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi have resulted in positive outcomes.



India-Bangladesh Relations: 

  • Political: India was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh and establish diplomatic relations immediately after its independence in December 1971.

  • Common Platforms  : Internationally both the nations share the following platforms: SAARC, BIMSTEC, Indian Ocean Coastal Regional Cooperation Association, and Commonwealth.

  • Existing frameworks: Under the provisions of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), Bangladesh extends preferential tariffs to Indian exports of products outside the ‘sensitive list’ of 993 items.

    • An Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments has been in force since 2011.

    •  Joint Interpretative Notes to the agreement were signed during the visit of the Indian Finance Minister to Bangladesh in October 2017.

  • Refugee crisis : The Rohingya refugee issue has imposed a huge burden on Bangladesh. PM Hasina raised this issue and called on India to help in repatriating the refugees to Myanmar. India has done so with humanitarian assistance and quiet dialogue with the military government in Naypyidaw.

  • Economic : In 2021-22, Bangladesh has emerged as the largest trade partner for India in South Asia and the fourth largest destination for Indian exports worldwide. Exports to Bangladesh grew more than 66 per cent from $9.69 billion in FY 2020-21 to $16.15 billion in FY 2021-22.

    • India is Bangladesh’s second biggest trade partner, and its largest export market in Asia.


Major Issues between India and Bangladesh :

  • Teesta River Water Dispute: Teesta river flows from India to the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh. Almost half a dozen districts in West Bengal are dependent on this river. It is also a major source of irrigation to the paddy growing greater Rangpur region of Bangladesh.

    • Bangladesh complains that it does not get a fair share of the water. Since water is a state subject in India, the bottleneck lies in the non-consensus between the state government of Bengal and central government

    • Meanwhile, no treaty has been signed yet to resolve the Teesta water-sharing dispute between the two nations.

  • Illegal Migration: Illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India, which includes both refugees and economic migrants, continues unabated.

    • The large influx of such migrants across the boundary has posed serious socio-economic-political problems for the people of Indian states bordering Bangladesh with serious implications for its resources and national security.

    • Also, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), that is expected to deter future migrants from Bangladesh from entering India illegally, has also triggered a major concern in Bangladesh.

  • Drug Smuggling & Trafficking: There have been many incidences of cross border drug smuggling & trafficking. Humans ( especially children & women) are trafficked & various animal & bird species are poached through these borders.

  • Terrorism: The borders are susceptible to terrorist infiltration. A number of outfits are trying to spread their tentacles across India, such as Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

    • JMB is listed as a terror group by Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

    • Recently, The National Investigation Agency has filed a charge-sheet against 6 members of the JMB in a special court in Bhopal.

  • Growing Chinese Influence in Bangladesh: At present, Bangladesh is an active partner in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (India is not a part of BRI).


Important  Steps to be taken :

  • Shifting Focus Towards Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): Bangladesh will graduate from a Less Developed Country (LDC) to a developing country by 2026 and will no longer be entitled to trade and other benefits that are accorded to LDCs under international and regional trading agreements.

    • Through the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Bangladesh will be able to manage this transition and preserve its trade privileges. It will also strengthen economic ties between India and Bangladesh.

  • Countering China’s Influence: Assisting Bangladesh with Nuclear technology, Artificial intelligence, Modern farming techniques, and flood data exchange will further strengthen India's relationship with Bangladesh and help India in countering China’s influence to a greater extent.


2. Major Challenges associated with Water Conservation.


Theme : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


GS - 3


  1. Context

  2. Water Stress

  3. Issues Related to Water Stress

  4. Issues with unavailability of Water

  5. Centrality of Women in Managing Water Resources

  6. Benefits of Waterways over other means of transport


Context : 
India is the country with 18% of global population, 15% of the global livestock and yet, it has only 2.4% of the world area and 4% of the world’s freshwater reserves. Therefore, conservation of water and its judicious use is critical.


Water Stress :

Water stress is a condition where the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality of available water restricts its use. Thus water stress occurs when deterioration of fresh water takes place in terms of quality and quantity.


Issues Related to Water Stress : 

  • Drought: According to media reports, 42% of the total area of the country is drought-prone. This is complicated by the agricultural-dependent economy of India. The occurrence of drought in a region leads to a fall in agricultural output, thereby decreasing the rural demand. Considering that almost two-thirds of India resides in rural areas, this decrease in demand has the potential to disrupt the economic indicators of the country.

  • Desertification: Heavy use of chemicals under the garb of pesticides, weedicides and fertilizers has led to degradation in the quality of soil as well as an increase in desertification in India. Approx. 30% of the total area in India is undergoing desertification and is water-stressed. This needs urgent attention from the government of India, as India is already stressed by the increasing population (18% of the global population) in a limited area (2.4% of the global area).

  • Inequitable Access to Water: The wide availability of water purification systems in India is a double-edged sword. Though it has decreased the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the country, yet it has increased inequality, as a significant proportion of the population does not have the necessary income to buy such stand-alone systems, thereby exacerbating water inequality in the country.

  • Dependence of Food Security on Monsoon: Despite impressive strides in irrigation coverage under multiple schemes like the PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, almost 51% of the total agricultural area in India is still rainfed. This does not bode well for a country, where the primary source of irrigation is the monsoon. Therefore, any monsoon-deficit year leads to a decrease in food grain production, compromising the food security in the country.

  • Anthropometric failure: Unavailability of water creates a stress scenario for a country like India which has seen a significant proportion of its population fall below the poverty levels due to the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lesser water supply leads to a decrease in the agricultural output and supply of food grains in the market. This leads to a rise in prices and affects the growth prospects of the country, affecting the poor disproportionately as food expenditure comprises a major drain on their already meagre resources.

  • Unsustainable usage: India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. This has contributed a lot to the green revolution, making India self-dependent in food production. However, in the long term, unsustainable groundwater usage can be a potential crisis. It can contribute to lowering of water table and unavailability of water for household and agricultural usage.

  • Urban Drought: It refers to the decrease in the availability of water in urban areas because of high demand, on the one hand, and increase in the pollution of water bodies, on the other hand. Urban drought may exacerbate the existing water stress due to the following reasons:

    • Long distance sources of Water: Due to the exhaustion of the availability of water in the nearby areas, the water supply at far-away needs to be tapped to fulfill the basic needs of the urban residents. Even the far-away supplies are stresses in the deficit years.

    • Losses in Distribution: Long distance water supply has the inherent disadvantage of increased losses in distribution attributed to leakages and other factors. It also requires undertaking maintenance activity regularly to maintain the supply of water.

    • Expensive: A supply system from faraway places requires huge initial capital investment. At the same time, the maintenance of such a supply needs investment in human resources as well as logistical costs for covering the whole extent of the supply system.

    • Inequitable: Apart from that, the long-distance supply system tries to cover up a deficit in a region by transferring water from a surplus region. In the long run, this may induce a deficit in the surplus region also, exacerbating the differences and leading to political costs.

  • Water Pollution: The use of various chemical inputs including fertilizers and pesticides has exacerbated the water crisis in India. The chemical-laden water enters the ecosystem in the form of run-off and seepage and leads to eutrophication in the water bodies and contamination in the groundwater.

  • Climate Change: Global warming has increased the concerns of water stress by inducing irregularity in the geographical phenomenon like El-Nino and La-Nina, as well as accelerating the meltdown of glaciers, leading to concerns about the future shortage of flow of water in the perennial Himalayan rivers.


Issues with unavailability of Water :

  • COVID-appropriate behavior: COVID-19 has changed the approach to education globally. While most of the education has shifted online, it is imperative to prepare for the times when children are back in schools. Considering the congestion in the education system, there would be a need to continue the COVID-related norms in the schools like wearing masks and cleaning the hands. Frequent cleaning of the hands and disinfecting would require regular furnishing of soap and supply of clean, drinking water. Therefore, the campaign is a step in the right direction.

  • Implement infection prevention and cleaning protocols: Also, COVID has brought about a focus on keeping the environment clean and sanitized at appropriate intervals. Again, to keep the schools and the related infrastructure clean, an adequate supply of water would be required, apart from other cleaning aids like disinfectants and sanitizers.

  • Running water in toilets: The level of infrastructure in public schools, especially in the rural areas, leaves much to desire. Appropriate toilets with a clean flushing mechanism are generally an exception, rather than a norm. In the absence of running water in toilets, it is difficult to keep them clean, leading to repulsion to the usage of such toilets. For many children who might require regular usage of toilets, this can be the difference between regular schooling and being a dropout. It goes without saying that such unclean toilets are a hotbed of water-based and other infectious diseases.

  • Menstrual Hygiene: A major problem with adolescent girls is the lack of awareness regarding menstrual hygiene, which is exacerbated by the absence of such facilities at the public schools and the education system, in general. The level of sex education in India is appalling, leading to peer flow of inaccurate information, as well as an attitude of embarrassment and ignorance towards menstrual hygiene, leading to complications in personal health.

  • Increased Absenteeism in girl students: Since the school-going girls are unable to access hygienic facilities at the schools, they are forced to stay at home during the menstrual period. This leads to gaps in education and disturbs the continuity of learning. In the long run, this can lead to dropouts of girls from the education system and increase gender inequality in the country.


Centrality of Women in Managing Water Resources :

  • Collection of Drinking Water: In most societies, the collection of drinking water has been traditionally associated with women. Historically, women have traveled long distances in search of water from different sources like wells, rivers, canals etc. Therefore, they have a larger interest in the building of water infrastructure on account of time and energy consumption and reduction in drudgery.

  • Management of drinking water: It refers to the availability of water for all needs of the family and the animal husbandry. Women are expected to know the seasonal availability of water as well as the schedule and timings of water supply, if available in the vicinity.

  • Role as Health care-takers of the family: Generally, it is the women who are considered the traditional care-givers in the family. It is they who bear the burden of taking care of the children, elderlies or even the other adults in the household when any of them falls ill. Therefore, they are expected to understand the importance of clean drinking water to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases in the family as well as the community.


Benefits of Waterways over other means of transport :

  • Energy consumption: Waterways consume less energy than other means of transport. In an energy-intensive economy like India, saving energy in all potential sectors is the priority as we are dependent on oil imports from other countries.

  • Economical: India has one of the highest logistical costs in the world, amounting to about 14% of the GDP as compared to the global average of 8% of the GDP. Waterways can be a useful mode of transport in this scenario as they are comparatively cheaper than the other modes of transport, including rail and road transport.

  • Saves Forex: As stated above, India is dependent upon the middle eastern and other oil-exporting nations for our oil imports. This not only causes a drain on the precious foreign exchange but also compromises the fuel security of the nation. Also, in case of any disturbances in the middle eastern region, the rise in crude oil prices upsets the balance of the economy. Therefore, the development of waterways is critical to the fuel security of the nation.

  • Environmentally Sustainable: Since waterways consume lesser fuel, they have a very low ecological footprint. This bodes well in India’s fight against climate change and could be an important factor in meeting Indian commitments under the Nationally Determined Contributions as a part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

  • Recreation: Inland navigation and Shipping can be used to boost tourism by providing better facilities on the rivers and their banks. For e.g. various means of inland water transport like hovercrafts, water-taxis and seaplanes can be started to exploit the tourism potential of the rivers. Also, floating hotels can be opened in the rivers by taking inspiration from the houseboats in Kerala backwaters and Kashmir’s Dal Lake, at the picturesque locations in the waterways.

  • Religious Tourism: Inland waterways can also be useful in promoting religious tourism as many major pilgrimage sites are situated on the banks of rivers like Varanasi, Prayagraj etc. Also, in the animist religious culture of India, the origin points of rivers are revered as the rivers are considered deities. For e.g. Gangotri, Yamunotri, Trimbakeshwar, Tala-Cauvery etc. They can be connected via inland waterways to improve the connectivity from nearby tourist hotspots.

  • Takes off load from the Road transport: As of now, road transport is the chief mode of transport in the country. However, switching from road to inland water transport can provide various benefits:

    • Lesser Congestion: The National Highways and roads are blocked due to the presence of vehicles, which are many times more than the carrying capacity of the road transport. Providing an alternate mode of transport like Inland waterways can relieve the traffic congestion off the highways.

    • Lesser cost: Road transport costs more for transporting per unit weight of the cargo as compared to water-based transport. Therefore, creating better infrastructure in inland shipping can boost the economy, by incentivizing the logistical companies.

    • Lesser Pollution: Road transport consumes more fuel per unit weight of transport. Therefore, inland shipping has the potential of decreasing the carbon footprint of the country and encouraging cleaner transportation of goods.

    • Lesser road accidents: 40% of accidents in India happen on National highways. The major factors contributing to the accidents are overworked drivers, unsuitable roads and lack of traffic etiquette in India, apart from other reasons. Inland waterways can decrease traffic congestion, thereby decreasing incidents of accidents and promoting road safety.

    • Lesser noise pollution: Inland ships are comparatively quieter than means of road transport. This will increase the standard of living for the people living close to National Highways.

    • Strikes by transporters: A nationwide strike by the road transporters has the potential to choke the road transport, also called the arteries of the country. In the presence of alternate modes of transport, the consumers would have the option to switch to inland shipping, thus, maintaining the flow in the economy.

    • Land Acquisition for highway projects: Land acquisition in India has turned out to be a politically sensitive issue, with political parties usually siding with the farmers due to opportunistic reasons. Also, it leads to cost and time overruns in the project. Instead, use of inland shipping has no such obstructions. It will require minimal land acquisition for the construction of river ports, which can be managed easily by the government.


3. The Outline of an Essential Global Pandemic Treaty.


Theme : Effect of Policies & Politics Of World On India's Interests, Health


GS - 2


                              TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2. Background for the Issue

  3. Inequity In Healthcare

  4. What did we learn?

  5. India’s Role

  6. Need for the Treaty?


Context :
The outline of an essential global pandemic treaty for full preparedness.



Background for the Issue :

  • Once-in-a-century crises: COVID-19 is among the most severe pandemics the world has seen in the last 100 years.

  • Deaths: An estimated 18 million people may have died as a result of COVID-19.

  • Global calamity: With over 120 million people pushed into extreme poverty and a massive global recession, no single government or institution has been able to address this emergency on its own. It provided a broader perspective on how no one is safe until everyone is safe.

  • New pandemic crises: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) with over 32,000 cases from over 80 countries (August 2022), putting the world at risk of another health crisis.


Inequity In Healthcare :

  • Gross inequity in distribution: Health-care systems have been stretched beyond their capacity and gross health inequity has been observed in the distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics across the world.

  • Irreversible consequences: While high-income economies are still recovering from the aftereffects, the socioeconomic consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic are irreversible in low and low middle-income countries.

  • The monopolies: Held by pharma majors such as Pfizer and Moderna created at least nine new billionaires since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and made over $1,000 a second in profits, even as fewer of their vaccines reached people in low-income countries.

  • Skewed distribution: As of March 2022, only 3% of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 60.18% in high-income countries. The international target to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against COVID-19 by mid-2022 was missed because poorer countries were at the “back of the queue” when vaccines were rolled out.


What did we learn?

  • Umbrella treaty: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were numerous initiatives, such as the Vaccine Alliance, to address the pandemic and do better in the future. A treaty under the auspices of WHO, on the other hand, would promote coherence and avoid fragmentation.

  • Characteristics: A treaty of this type should address critical issues such as data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses. It should formally commit governments and legislatures to putting in place an early warning system and a properly funded rapid response system.

  • Closing gaps: A treaty of this type should mobilize nation states to agree on a set of common metrics related to health investments and the return on those investments. These investments should aim to close the gap between the public and private sectors.

  • Addressing inequalities: Finally, a global pandemic treaty will not only reduce socioeconomic disparities between nations, but will also improve global pandemic preparedness for future health emergencies. In this regard, India must take the lead.


India’s Role : 

  • Dynamic response: India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reinstating global equity by leveraging its own potential has set an example to legislators worldwide.

  • Vaccine diplomacy: India produces nearly 60% of the world’s vaccines and is said to account for 60%-80% of the United Nations’ annual vaccine procurement “vaccine diplomacy” or “vaccine maitri” with a commitment against health inequity.

  • A classic example of global cooperation: As of 2021, India shipped 594.35 lakh doses of ‘Made-in-India’ COVID-19 vaccines to 72 countries, a classic example of global cooperation. Among these, 81.25 lakh doses were gifts, 339.67 lakh doses were commercially distributed and 173.43 lakh doses were delivered via the Covax programme under the aegis of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.


Need for the Treaty?

  • Data sharing: A treaty should cover crucial aspects such as data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses.

  • Rapid response mechanism: It should formally commit governments and parliaments to implement an early warning system and a properly funded rapid response mechanism.

  • Health investments: Further, it should mobilize nation states to agree on a set of common metrics that are related to health investments and a return on those investments. 


4. Moving out of the shadows, from silence to assertion.


Theme : Policies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections of society etc


GS - 2


                                      TABLE OF CONTENT

  1. Context

  2.  Triple Talaq and Talaq-e- Hasan

  3. Khula

  4. Present status of Muslim Women

  5. Court judgments

  6. Obstacles faced


Context :
A Talaq-e-Hasan petition filed by a Ghaziabad-based woman, seeking to make the divorce pronounced by the husband at an interval of at least a month extra-judicial, was in the limelight recently when the Supreme Court (SC) observed that the practice of Talaq-e-Hasan or divorce pronounced to the wife once a month for three months is “not so improper”.


Triple Talaq and Talaq-e- Hasan :

Triple Talaq :

  • Any pronouncement of “talaq” by a Muslim husband to his wife in any manner, spoken or written, will be void and illegal.

  • Any Muslim husband who communicates the “talaq” orally or in writing may face punishment up to three years in jail. The punishment may also be extended.

  • If a Muslim man pronounces “talaq” to his wife, then the woman and her children are entitled to receive an allowance for subsistence. Such an amount can be determined by a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.

  • A Muslim woman is entitled to the custody of her minor children even if her husband has pronounced “talaq” to her.

  • The offence is also compoundable (i.e. the parties may arrive at a compromise), if the Muslim woman insists for the same and the Magistrates allows certain terms and conditions which he may determine.

  • A person accused of this offence cannot be granted bail unless an application is filed by the accused after a hearing in the presence of the Muslim woman (on whom talaq is pronounced) is conducted and the Magistrate is satisfied with the reasonable grounds for granting bail.


Talaq-e-Hasan :

  • Talaq-e-Hasan is a form of ‘triple talaq’ by which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ at three separate intervals — the gap being least one month or one menstrual cycle.

  • Justice Dinesh Kumar issued a notice to the Delhi Police on the woman’s petition to protect her from religious groups that permit and propagate such practices, and from those who are forcing her to accept Talaq-e-Hasan.

  • The woman, in her plea, stated that even though she and her husband were in a relationship prior to their ‘love marriage’ in September 2020, her husband never stopped his parents from demanding dowry or expensive gifts again and again.


Khula :

  • While the widely-acclaimed invalidation of instant triple talaq by a five-judge Bench of the Court, in 2017, is well documented, there was a Kerala High Court judgment of 2021 which upheld the validity of khula.

  • The court called khula, “the form of divorce conferred upon the wife similar to talaq conferred upon the husband”. Incidentally, there are more cases of khula in Darul Qazas or shariah courts than those of instant triple talaq, post the 2017 verdict, according to a rough estimate.


Present status of Muslim Women :

  • Rights in marriage: Increasing Muslim women standing up for their rights in marriage or otherwise.

  • Departure from old: A clear departure from times when women left the husband’s house in silence, battered, bruised.

  • Martial grievances: More Muslim women are now approaching various courts, including Darul Qaza or shariah courts, for redress of marital grievances.



Court judgments :

  • Shayara Bano case (2017): The Supreme Court had declared the practice of Triple Talaq (talaq-e-bidat) as unconstitutional.

  • Kerala High Court judgment of 2021: It upheld the validity of khula.The court called khula, “the form of divorce conferred upon the wife similar to talaq conferred upon the husband”.


Obstacles faced : 

  • Man’s consent: Even as women assert their right to end a marriage through khula, some clerics still insist on the man’s consent, thereby defeating the very purpose of khula.

  • Misuse of provisions: On the same lines, even as cases against nikah halala are pending before the Supreme Court, some maulanas still tend to misuse the provision for halala.

  • Circumventing the Koran: The Koran allows two divorces, considering them revocable, and the third one is considered final, some clerics tend to circumvent it through a distortion of the provision of halala.

  • Final divorce: Many maulanas still consider a divorce pronounced in haste as final, and tell the victim to marry another man.