India declares nuclear triad operational
GS Prelims and Mains III – Defence; Security
- India declared that its nuclear triad, stated in its nuclear doctrine, is operational.
- A nuclear triad is a three-pronged military force structure that consists of land-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-missile-armed submarines and strategic aircraft with nuclear bombs and missiles.
- India’s And-triad became operational with its indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant conducted its first deterrence patrol.
- The purpose of having this three-branched nuclear capability is to significantly reduce the possibility that an enemy could destroy all of a nation’s nuclear forces in a first-strike attack.
- This, in turn, ensures a credible threat of a second strike, and thus increases a nation’s nuclear deterrence.
- India’s nuclear weapons policy is that of “no first use” and “minimum credible deterrence,” which means that the country will not use nuclear weapons unless they are attacked first, but the country does have the capability to induce the second strike.
- India completed its nuclear triad with the commissioning of INS Arihant in August 2016, which was India’s first submarine built ingenuously.
US sanctions on Iran: India, China get relief
GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the world
- India is one of eight countries to receive temporary exemptions from U.S. sanctions on Iran.
- China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey – are the eight countries.
- NHIDCL fined ₹2 cr. for pollution – The National Green Tribunal has levied a fine of ₹2 crore on the National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL) for dumping muck into the Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand during the construction of a road.
- Centre eyes seaplanes in UDAN 3 – Seaplanes may soon be operating commercial passenger flights in India with the Centre inviting bids for connecting selected destinations under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS). Opening the third round of the RCS, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited proposals for air routes that include tourist destinations.
- Ozone layer is recovering, says UN – Ozone layer is recovering is recovering at a rate of one to three percent per decade. (Thanks to Montreal Protocol, a 1987 ban on man-made gases that damage the fragile high-altitude ozone layer)
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests.
- Bilateral and multilateral agreements and their impact on India’s interests.
Preserving the taboo: on nuclear arms control
- The U.S. President declared that the U.S. is quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a bilateral agreement with Russia signed in 1987.
- S.’s decision has generated dismay and concern that this will trigger a new nuclear arms race in Europe and elsewhere.
- What it ignores is that the INF Treaty reflected the political reality of the Cold War — of a bi-polar world with two nuclear superpowers — no longer consistent with today’s multi-polar nuclear world.
- The greater challenge today is to understand that existing nuclear arms control instruments can only be preserved if these evolve to take new realities into account.
Background of the INF treaty
- By the early 1980s, the U.S.S.R. had accumulated nuclear weapons, exceeding the U.S. arsenal, and deployed more powerful weapons in Europe.
- To reassure its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies about its nuclear umbrella, the U.S. began deploying Pershing IIs and GLCMs in the U.K., Belgium, Italy and West Germany, setting off a new arms race.
- Realisation dawned that any nuclear conflict on European soil would only lead to more European casualties, catalysing a movement for ‘no-deployments’ in Europe.
- In the 1980s, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. began three sets of parallel negotiations — on strategic weapons leading to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), on intermediate-range weapons leading to the INF, and the Nuclear and Space Talks to address Soviet concerns about Reagan’s newly launched ‘space wars’ programme (Strategic Defense Initiative).
- Under the INF Treaty, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. agreed to eliminate within three years all ground-launched-missiles of 500-5,500 km range and not to develop, produce or deploy these in future.
- The INF talks originally considered equal ceilings on both sides but then moved to equal ceilings and non-deployment in Europe to address the sensitivities of allies.
- Europe breathed a sigh of relief and the INF was hailed as a great disarmament treaty even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled and similar range air-launched and sea-launched missiles were not constrained.
- Since it was bilateral, the INF Treaty did not restrict other countries but this hardly mattered as it was the age of bi-polarity and the U.S.-U.S.S.R. nuclear equation was the only one that counted.
Changing political backdrop
- Since 2008, the U.S. has voiced suspicions that with the Novator 9M729 missile tests, Russia was in breach; in 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama formally accused Russia of violating the INF Treaty.
- On the other hand, Russia alleges that the U.S. launchers for its missile defence interceptors deployed in Poland and Romania are constituting a violation.
- China has always had a number of Chinese missiles in the 500-5,500 km range but its modernisation plans, which include the commissioning of the DF-26, today raise the U.S.’s concerns.
- The U.S.’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) reflects a harsher assessment of the security environment faced by the U.S. and envisages a more expansive role for nuclear weapons than in the past.
- Russia is blamed for seeking the break-up of NATO and a re-ordering of ‘European and Middle East security and economic structures in its favour’.
- China is identified for the first time as a strategic competitor seeking regional hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region in the near-term and ‘displacement of the U.S. to achieve global pre-eminence in the future’.
- A 30-year modernisation plan with a price tag of $1.2 trillion with new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCMs) and low-yield warheads is detailed in the NPR.
- Russia has unveiled plans to develop a new nuclear torpedo and nuclear-powered cruise missile.
- The INF Treaty is not the first casualty of unravelling nuclear arms control.
- In December 2001, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with the U.S.S.R. which limited deployment of ABM systems thereby ensuring mutual vulnerability, a key ingredient of deterrence stability in the bipolar era.
- The next casualty is likely to be the New START agreement between the U.S. and Russia, which will lapse in 2021, unless renewed for a five-year period.
- This limits both countries to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBMs) and heavy bombers and 1,550 warheads each.
- The lapse of the New START would mark the first time since 1968 that the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals would be unconstrained by any agreement.
Complex race of weapon development
- Even more worrisome are developments that blur the line between nuclear and conventional weapons.
- In order to lessen its dependence on nuclear weapons, the U.S. developed layered missile defences and conventional Prompt Global Strike (PGS) capabilities that use conventional payloads against strategic targets.
- Other countries have responded with hypersonics and a shift to lower yield tactical warheads.
- With growing dependence on space-based and cyber systems, such asymmetric approaches only increase the risks of accidental and inadvertent nuclear escalation.
Preserving the nuclear taboo
- In today’s return of major power rivalry, it is no longer a bi-polar world, and nuclear arms control is no longer governed by a single binary equation.
- There are multiple nuclear equations — U.S.-Russia, U.S.-China, U.S.-North Korea, India-Pakistan, India-China, but none is standalone.
- Therefore, neither nuclear stability nor strategic stability in today’s world can be ensured by the U.S. and Russia alone and this requires us to think afresh.
What about NPT?
- The political disconnect is also evident in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the most successful example of multilateral arms control. It has become a victim of its success.
- It can neither accommodate the four countries outside it (India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan) as all four possess nuclear weapons, nor can it register any progress on nuclear disarmament.
- It succeeded in delegitimising nuclear proliferation but not nuclear weapons. This is why NPT Review Conferences have become increasingly contentious.
- The most important achievement of nuclear arms control is that the taboo against use of nuclear weapons has held since 1945.
- Preserving the taboo is critical but this needs realisation that existing nuclear arms control has to be brought into line with today’s political realities.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Constitution: Parliament; functions and powers
‘Private’ efforts at legislation: How they are made, how often they succeed
- Nominated Member of Rajya Sabha Rakesh Sinha said he would bring a private member’s Bill “on the Ram Temple”.
- How are private member’s Bills introduced and discussed? What chance does such a Bill have of becoming law?
Private members, their Bills
- Any MP who is not a Minister is referred to as a private member.
- Parliament’s key role is to debate and make laws. Both Ministers and private members contribute to the lawmaking process.
- Bills introduced by Ministers are referred to as government bills. They are backed by the government, and reflect its legislative agenda.
- Private member’s bills are piloted by non-Minister MPs.
- Their purpose is to draw the government’s attention to what individual MPs see as issues and gaps in the existing legal framework, which require legislative intervention.
Introduction in the House
- The admissibility of a private member’s Bill is decided by the Rajya Sabha Chairman. (In the case of Lok Sabha, it is the Speaker; the procedure is roughly the same for both Houses.)
- The Member must give at least a month’s notice before the Bill can be listed for introduction; the House secretariat examines it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.
- Up to 1997, private members could introduce up to three Bills in a week.
- This led to a piling up of Bills that were introduced but never discussed; Chairman K R Narayanan, therefore, capped the number of private member’s Bills to three per session.
- While government Bills can be introduced and discussed on any day, private member’s Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.
- Private member’s Bills have been introduced and discussed in Rajya Sabha on 20 days in the last three years.
Procedure for introduction
- On the scheduled Friday, the private member moves a motion for introduction of the Bill, which is usually not opposed.
- Two recent exceptions to this convention were in 2004, when nominated MP Vidya Nivas Misra’s Bill seeking to amend the Preamble of the Constitution was opposed; and in 2015, when Shashi Tharoor’s Bill to decriminalise homosexuality was not introduced in Lok Sabha after the BJP’s Nishikant Dubey forced a division, which led to the motion being defeated.
- (The Supreme Court struck down IPC Section 377 this September.)
- Rajya Sabha draws a ballot to decide the sequence of discussion of Bills. If a Bill is successful in the ballot, it has to wait for the discussion to conclude on a Bill currently being debated by the House.
- For example, a Bill related to sittings of Parliament introduced by Naresh Gujral in March 2017 was taken up for discussion only in August 2018.
- The discussion will resume when private member business is taken up in the upcoming Winter Session, and other private member’s bills will have to wait for the debate to conclude.
- Over the last three years, Rajya Sabha saw the introduction of 165 private member’s Bills; discussion was concluded on only 18.
- A private member’s Bill that is introduced but not discussed in Rajya Sabha, lapses when Member retires.
After discussion ends
- Upon conclusion of the discussion, the Member piloting the Bill can either withdraw it on the request of the Minister concerned, or he may choose to press ahead with its passage.
- In the latter case, the Bill is put to vote and, if the private member gets the support of the House, it is passed.
- In 1977, Rajya Sabha passed a private member’s Bill to amend the Aligarh Muslim University Act. The Bill then went to the sixth Lok Sabha, where it lapsed with the dissolution of the House in 1979.
- In 2015, Rajya Sabha passed The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, a private member’s Bill piloted by Tiruchi Siva of the DMK. The Bill is now pending before Lok Sabha.
- Many private members’ bills were introduced in parliament, but only a fraction of them are taken up for discussion and very few finally passed.
- The last time a private member’s Bill was passed by both Houses was in 1970. This was the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Bill, 1968.
- Fourteen private member’s Bills — five of which were introduced in Rajya Sabha — have become law so far.
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