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2nd November 2022

Mangarh Massacre: A Tale of Tribal Valour Less Told

Context

The PM has said that the Mangarg massacre of tribals to crush the Mangarh uprising was not given its due place, but now is the time.

Key points highlighted by PM

  • PM has ensured the Bhil Tribal of Mangarh on Gujrat-Rajasthan Border that the sacrifices of tribals during the freedom struggle will get due importance.
  • PM hailed the role of Govind Guru in the movement launched in the Banswara region by tribals in 1913 against colonial rule.

About Govind Guru:

  • Govindgiri, also known as Govind Guru, (1858–1931) was a social and religious reformer in the early 1900s in the Adivasi-dominated border areas of present-day Rajasthan and Gujarat states in India.
  • He encouraged his followers to tend a dhuni (fire pit) and hoist a Nishan (flag) outside their houses.
  • Govindgiri critiqued upper-caste treatment of women and argued that Adivasi practices were much better for women
About

About Mangarh massacre

  • The Mangarh massacre (17 November 1913) took place six years before the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.
  • Also known as Adivasi Jallianwala
  • The soldiers of the British Indian Army fired indiscriminately on Bhil protesters who were demanding the abolition of bonded labor.
  • The Bhil tribe’s movement was challenging the colonial government as well as the wrongs of the princely states in which they were residing.
  • Approximately 1,500 Bhil tribals and forest dwellers died in the incident which came to be known as the Mangarh massacre.
  • The movement was initiated by Guru Govindgiri who raised a front against local rulers forcing the Bhils into unpaid labor, labor heavy taxes, and high land revenue rates.

Events at Mangarh massacre:


  • Govindgiri’s representatives submitted a list of grievances and demands against the Rajput States after which the British called upon the Bhils to leave Mangarh Hill before November 15, 1913.
  • The princely kingdoms of nearby Dungarpur, Banswara, and Synth pressured the colonial government who then sent in the Mewar Bhil Corps to attack the Mangarh Hill.
  • According to Bhil's oral accounts and later records, more than 1,500 men, women, and children were killed and many were wounded in the indiscriminate firing.
  • In 1952, an annual fair was instituted in Mangarh in memory of Guru Govindgiri and his disciples.

Bhil tribe

  • The word Bhil is derived from “Veel”, which means “bow” in the Dravidian language.
  • The Bhil tribe is called the “Dhanush Purush of India” because they are highly adept at learning Dhanush.
  • Bhils are a group of tribal Indians scattered throughout India from Gujarat in the west to Tripura in the Far East.
  • As of 2013, they were the largest tribal group in India with the majority living in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
  • The Bhilala subdivision is known for its Pithora painting.
  • Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of the Bhil tribe. Ghoomar is the symbol of femininity. The young women take art in this dance and declare that they are stepping into women’s shoes.


Significance:

  • The demand for national monument status for Rajasthan’s Mangarh Dham is “long-due”.
  • The initiative will bring the forgotten sacrifice of the Bhil tribe in one of the most sordid chapters of Indian history into the spotlight.

Mulling remote vote facility for NRIs, govt. tells SC

Context

In the context of a petition in SC, the union government has replied suggesting that it is considering ways to facilitate non-resident Indians (NRI) and migrant laborers to cast their votes ‘remotely’.

Who qualifies as an overseas elector/ NRI voter?

  • A citizen of India, absent from the country owing to employment, education, etc., has not acquired citizenship of any other country and is otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter in the address mentioned in its passport qualifies as an overseas elector/ NRI voter.
  • According to the provisions of Section 20A of the Representation of People Act, 1950, an NRI settled in a foreign land can become an elector in the electoral roll in India.

Non-Resident Indian:

  • NRI means a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India or is a person of Indian origin.
  • An Indian citizen residing outside India for a combined total of at least 183 days in a financial year is considered to be an NRI.
  • NRIs enjoy voting rights and are required to pay and file the income tax return on their Indian income like resident Indians.
  • However, in case an NRI wishes to take up foreign citizenship, he/she will have to give up Indian citizenship as the Indian constitution does not allow dual citizenship.

Voting Process for Overseas Voters in Indian elections:

  • Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • It is after the amendment that, the eligible NRIs who had stayed abroad beyond six months were allowed to vote, but only in person at the polling station where they have been enrolled as an overseas elector.
  • Before 2010, an Indian citizen who is an eligible voter and was residing abroad for more than six months, would not have been able to vote in elections.
  • This was because the NRI’s name was deleted from electoral rolls if he or she stayed outside the country for more than six months at a stretch.
  • An NRI can vote in the constituency in his/her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • He/she can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

Performance of existing facility:

  • Low Proportion of Eligible Overseas: From merely 11,846 overseas voters who registered in 2014, the number went up to close to a lakh in 2019. However, only a low proportion of such voters turned up to vote.
  • Provision to Visit the Polling Booth Discouraged Eligible Voters: The provision of having to visit the polling booth in person has discouraged eligible voters from exercising their mandate.

Recent steps were taken by Government:

  • In the Parliament in 2017, the government proposed to remove the restriction imposed by Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act.
  • The Bill was later passed in 2018 but lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
  • The Bill provided for overseas voters to be able to appoint a proxy to cast their votes on their behalf, subject to conditions laid down in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  • 20A of the Representation of the People Act required them to be physically present to vote in their constituencies.
  • The ECI then approached the government to permit NRIs to vote via postal ballots.

Voting rights of expatriates of other countries:

  • A British citizen living abroad can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK, as long as he is a British or Irish citizen and was a registered voter in the UK for the last 15 years.
  • American expatriates enjoy voting rights in the US irrespective of how long they have been living abroad. They can vote for federal office candidates in the primary and general elections.

 

India cuts windfall tax on crude oil

Context

India has slashed the windfall tax on the export of crude oil from Rs 11,000 to Rs 9,500 per tonne and has hiked it for Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and diesel.

Background:

  • The government initially introduced the windfall tax on July 1, 2022.
  • The Centre had initially imposed a cess of Rs 23,250 per tonne on crude oil.
  • The notification containing the revised tax structure shall come into force immediately.
  • Windfall gains are being accumulated by domestic crude producers due to rising global crude prices.
  • Private refiners Reliance Industries Ltd and Rosneft-based Nayara Energy are the primary exporters of fuels like diesel and ATF.

Global Crude Prices:

  • Global crude prices had risen and domestic crude producers were making windfall gains on exports.
  • Private oil marketing companies were exporting petrol and diesel to foreign countries like Australia for better realization.
  • The shortage of fuel at retail outlets was because oil marketing companies were not willing to sell the commodity at a loss since prices had not increased despite rising crude and depreciating rupee.

Reasons behind imposing these Taxes:

  • The special additional excise duty on the export of petrol and diesel to address the issue of fuel shortage in the country.
  • Fuel pumps across the country have been reporting fuel shortages, leading to their closure.
  • As exports are becoming highly remunerative, it has been seen that certain refiners are drying out their pumps in the domestic market.
  • The levy was also seen as a step to compensate for the reduction in the excise duty on petrol and diesel to provide relief to consumers.
About

About Windfall Tax:

  • Windfall taxes are designed to tax the profits a company derives from an external, sometimes unprecedented event— for instance, the energy price rise as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • These are profits that cannot be attributed to something the firm actively did, like an investment strategy or an expansion of business.
  • A windfall is defined as an “unearned, unanticipated gain in income through no additional effort or expense”.
  • Governments typically levy a one-off tax retrospectively over and above the normal rates of tax on such profits, called windfall tax.
  • One area where such taxes have routinely been discussed is oil markets, where price fluctuation leads to volatile or erratic profits for the industry.

Impacts of Windfall tax:

  • On External Trade: For India, which imports 85% of its requirements, costlier oil implies a higher import bill and inflation, besides straining the current account, the broadest measure of India’s goods and services transactions with the rest of the world.
  • Less Investment: Investments in the Oil sector and related industry hit hard after the spur in Windfall tax.

Issues with Imposing Windfall Tax:

  • Uncertainty in the Market: Since windfall taxes are imposed retrospectively and are often influenced by unexpected events, they can brew uncertainty in the market about future taxes.
  • Populists in Nature: It is believed that such taxes are populist and politically opportune in the short term.
  • Reduces Future Investment: Introducing a temporary windfall profit tax reduces future investment because prospective investors will internalize the likelihood of potential taxes when making investment decisions.
  • Not Defined Precisely: It is not defined what exactly constitutes true windfall profits and how it can be determined what level of profit is normal or excessive.

The C-295 and India’s aircraft industry

Context

Recently, PM laid the foundation stone for the C-295 transport aircraft manufacturing facility in Vadodara to be set up by Airbus Defense and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL).

About C-295 Transporter:

Capacity:

  • The C-295 MW is a transport aircraft of 5-10 tonne capacity with contemporary technology.
  • The aircraft, with a flight endurance of up to 11 hours, can carry out multi-role operations under all weather conditions.

Features:

  • It has a rear ramp door for quick reaction and para-dropping of troops and cargo.
  • It will be installed with the indigenous Electronic Warfare Suite.
  • The C-295 has very good fuel efficiency and can take off and land from short as well as unprepared runways.

Replacement:

  • It will replace the Indian Air Force’s aging fleet of Avro-748 planes.
  • The Avro-748 planes are a British-origin twin-engine turboprop, military transport, and freighter with a 6-tonne freight capacity.
  • The C-295 is also a potential replacement for the AN-32 aircraft, the workhorse of the IAF with over 100 of them in service.

Fleet:

  • Of the 56 aircraft contracted, 16 will come in fly-away condition from Spain between September 2023 and August 2025.
  • The remaining 40 will be manufactured here to be delivered between September 2026 and 2031 at the rate of eight aircraft per year.

C-295 Transport Aircraft Manufacturing Facility

  • About: The C-295 Transport Aircraft Manufacturing facility will manufacture C-295 aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
    • It is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company.
  • Collaboration: C-295 Transport Aircraft Manufacturing facility is being set up through collaboration between Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Airbus Defense and Space S.A., Spain.
  • Cost: The total cost of the C-295 aircraft manufacturing facility project is Rs 21,935 crore. The aircraft can be used for civilian purposes as well.

Importance of C-295 Transport Aircraft Manufacturing Facility:

  • Promote Self-Reliance: The project offers a unique opportunity for the Indian private sector to enter into the technology-intensive and highly competitive aviation industry.
  • Employment Generation: The TATA Consortium has identified more than 125 in-country MSME suppliers spread over seven states. This will act as a catalyst for employment generation in the aerospace ecosystem of the country.
    • This is the first time a private sector company would be manufacturing a full aircraft in the country. This is a huge step forward for India in the global aircraft manufacturing domain.

Impact on domestic aircraft manufacturing ecosystem:

  • Expanding Footprints: Indian companies, both public and private, have steadily expanded their presence in the global supply chains of major defense and aerospace manufacturers.
  • Involvement of MSMEs: Boeing’s sourcing from India stands at $1 billion annually, and 60% of its manufacturing requirement is sourced through a growing network of 300+ supplier partners of which over 25% are micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME).
  • Joint Ventures: Both Lockheed Martin (manufacturing aerospace components for commercial helicopters and aircraft) and Boeing (manufacturing aero-structures for its AH-64 Apache helicopter) has joint ventures with TATAs.
  • Boost to domestic defense manufacturing sector: The C-295 project will lead to the development of a strong private industrial aerospace ecosystem not only in and around Vadodara but across the country.
  • Employment Generation: The C-295 project is expected to create more than 15,000 skilled direct and indirect jobs across the aerospace ecosystem.

Invasive species in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR)

Context

The Forest Department is coming up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the spread of the invasive species, in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), which continues to spread rapidly in the buffer zone.

About

About the Species

  • An invasive species, Senna spectabilis is an exotic tree. The species has taken over between 800 and 1,200 hectares of the buffer zones of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR).
  • The species has now become highly invasive in the Sigur plateau in both the core and buffer zones of the MTR.
  • Senna spectabilis is spreading fastest in the Singara and Masinagudi forest ranges in the MTR buffer zone.
  • Senna spectabilis pose a major threat if proper action is not taken soon.
  • Now the Forest Department is coming up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the spread of the invasive species, which continues to spread rapidly in the buffer zone.

Senna spectabilis:

  • It is native species of America, introduced to India as an ornamental plant.
  • Senna spectabilis belongs to the Fabaceae family and is grown as an ornamental plant across tropical America.
  • This invasive species is very hardy and survives under challenging conditions. Removing it is a big task and eradicating it from a landscape can take years.
  • It can grow 7 - 18 meters tail; is evergreen in climates with rain all year round, but can become deciduous in some regions, and produces yellow flowers.
  • Spectabilis has been commonly used in traditional medicine for many years. It possesses significant biological activity, such as antibacterial, antibiofilm, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
  • It is considered an environmental weed by the Global Compendium of Weeds.
  • As compared to Eucalyptus and pine, though exotic, do not spread as quickly as the other species and are considered easier to manage.

Steps were taken to curb the spread of invasive species:

  • Demarcation: The Forest department is demarcating areas where the species is spreading.
  • Using it as wood: Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) plan to use wood from Senna spectabilis from the MTR for paper-making.
  • Systematic Removal: Senna spectabilis, along with Lantana Camara, is among five major invasive weeds that had taken over vast swathes of the Nilgiris.
  • The Forest Department is also formulating a 10-year-plan to systematically remove Lantana camera.
  • Court Monitoring: The judges from the court inspected the Tiger Reserve this year to monitor progress in the removal of invasive species.

About Mudumalai Tiger Reserve:

  • Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu state at the tri-junction of three states, viz, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • It is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (1st Biosphere Reserve in India) along with Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) in the West, Bandipur National Park (Karnataka) in the North, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley in the South.
  • The name Mudumalai means “the ancient hill range”. Indeed, it is as old as 65 million years since when the Western Ghats were formed.
  • Flora:
  • The Reserve has tall grasses, commonly referred to as ‘Elephant Grass'.
  • Bamboo of the giant variety, valuable timber species like Teak, Rosewood, etc.
  • There are several species of endemic flora.
  • Fauna:
  • Flagship Species: Tiger and Asian Elephant.
  • Other species: Indian Gaur, Spotted Deer, Common Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Wild Dog, and Jungle Cat among others.
  • Birds:
    • Reserve has got a wide variety of more than 260 species of birds.
    • 8% of bird species found in India are recorded in Mudumalai.
    • This includes rare birds like the Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, and Malabar laughing thrush among others.

 

Editorial

The weakest link in the air pollution fight

Context:

State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) are failing to live up to their statutory mandate.

Enhanced Mandate:

  • Establishment of SPCBs: It was constituted under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Later its mandate was expanded to include air quality management.
  • Under Performance: It is observed as the environmental indicators have worsened across the country, the SPCBs appear to have failed to discharge their statutory mandate.

Board composition as a conflict of interest:

  • Element of Expertise Missing: Scientists, medical practitioners, and academics constitute only 7% of the Board members, which indicates a lack of crucial expertise on the board.
  • SPCB leadership: Members do not enjoy a long, stable, and full-time tenure. Many times, they do not even have time to understand their mandate fully.
  • Conflict of Interest: Over 50% of the Board members across the 10 SPCBs and PCC studied represent potential polluters. This raises fundamental questions about conflicts of interest.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 2nd November 2022

Mains Question:

Question: India has set up the C-295 transport aircraft manufacturing facility in Vadodra. Discuss how this development would affect the domestic aircraft manufacturing ecosystem? (150 words)

Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about the development 
  • Impact on domestic ecosystem 
    • Boost to domestic defence manufacturing ecosystem
    • development of a strong private industrial aerospace ecosystem
    • employment opportunities across the aerospace ecosystem
  • Government policies 
  • Sum up your answer by suggesting a way forward 
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