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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | PDF Download

Date: 20 May 2019

MCQ 1

  •  The MalabarCivet
  1. Is a critically endangered Reptile
  2. Its in schedule 1 of the WPA-1972 Act
  • Choose correct

(A) Only 1

(B) Only 2

(C) Both

(D)None

  • The Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina), also known as the Malabar civet, is a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List as the population is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals, with no subpopulation greater than 50 individuals. In the early 1990s, isolated populations still survived in less disturbed areas of South Malabar but were seriously threatened by habitat destruction and hunting outside protected areas.
  • It is known as Kannan chandu and Male meru in Kerala (veruk) in Malayalam, and in Karnataka as Mangala kutri, Bal kutri and Dodda punugina

MCQ 2

  1. The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China
  2. It is endangered and also called Giant Panda
  • Choose correct

(A) Only 1

(B) Only 2

(C) Both

(D) None

  • The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because the wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
  • The red panda has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs; it is roughly the size of a domestic cat, though with a longer body and somewhat heavier. It is arboreal, feeds mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day. It is also called the lesser panda, the red bearcat, and the red cat-bear.
  • The red panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It has been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families, but the results of phylogenetic analysis provide strong support for its taxonomicclassification in its own family, Ailuridae, which is part of the superfamily Musteloidea, along with the weasel, raccoon and skunk families. Two subspeci es are recognized. It is not closely related to the giant panda, which is a basal ursid

MCQ 3

  • UN Sasakawa Award is given in the field of
  1. Economy
  2. Climate change
  3. Peacework
  4. None
  • The United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is awarded to an individual or institutions that have taken active efforts in reducing disaster risk in their communities and advocates for disaster risk reduction. UNISDR is the administrator of the UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.
  • The United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is one of three prestigious prizes established in 1986 by founding Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Ryoichi Sasakawa. It is worth approximately US $50,000 and is shared among the Laureates.
  • Nominees also receive Certificates of Distinction and Merit.The Award recognizes individuals, organizations and initiatives that have best contributed to ensuring inclusive, accessible and non-discriminatory participation in disaster risk reduction activities for all sections of society, especially the poor.
  • Odisha-born IAS officer and Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Pramod Kumar Mishra was conferred with the prestigious United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction for the year 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday.

MCQ 4

  1. GPDRR was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
  2. It a biennial meeting which takes place every two years.
  3. Latest was held in Japan in May 2019
  • Choose correct

(A) 1 & 2

(B) 2 & 3

(C) All

(D) None

MCQ 5

  • Christchurch call to action is related to
  1. Climate change
  2. Conservation of aquatic animals
  3. To combat children’s trafficking
  4. None

MCQ 6

  • First state in Asia to legalise Gay marriage
  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. Vietnam
  4. Taiwan

Taking stock of Islamic State 2.0

  • The belief in India and Sri Lanka that they are shielded from radical extremist tendencies needs a relook
  • On Easter Sunday this year, April 21, Sri Lanka witnessed a series of coordinated bomb blasts, killing over 250 people. It was the heaviest toll in Sri Lanka in terms of lives lost since the civil war ended in 2009, thus ending a decade of peace.
  • The orchestrated attacks, on three churches and three hotels frequented by tourists, were clearly intended to forward a message. The way they were carried out further indicated that the dynamics were global though the perpetrators were locals. The pattern of attacks on the churches was not dissimilar from Islamic State (IS)-mounted attacks on churches in Surabaya in Indonesia in May last year, and in Jolo in the Philippines this January. The IS’s statement soon after the attacks put to rest all speculation. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself was to announce subsequently that the attacks in Sri Lanka were revenge for the fall of the Syrian town of Baghuz, the last IS-ruled village overrun by Syrian forces in March this year.
  • Key Setting For Radicalism
  • The question most often asked is why Sri Lanka was chosen by the IS to announce that it was business as usual. A more relevant question might well be why an IS attack of this scale had not been seen in this region previously. South Asia today is a virtual cauldron of radical Islamist extremist activity. From Afghanistan through Pakistan to the Maldives to Bangladesh, radical Islamist extremism is an ever present reality. Both India and Sri Lanka, however, prefer to believe that they are shielded from such tendencies, but this needs a relook.
  • In the case of Sri Lanka, it is by now evident that officials had turned a blind eye to the fact that areas such as Kattankudy and its environs in the northeast have become hotbeds of Wahabi-Salafi attitudes and practices. Muslim youth here have been radicalized to such an extent that it should have set alarm bells ringing. The example of Zahran Mohammed Hashim, who founded the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) in 2014 in Kattankudy, and within a couple of years expanded its membership multi-fold, was one index of what was happening. Hashim, who was among the terrorists who carried out the Easter Day bombings and died in the process, had swayed hundreds of impressionable youth with his oratory to support his radical agenda and was able to transform the moderate Islamic landscape to a more radicalized one. From this, it was but a short step to embark on the path of terror.
  • The advent of the IS occurred at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, at a time when a new breed of terrorists had emerged, inspired by the Egyptian, Sayyid Qutb, and the Palestinian, Abdullah Azzam. Combining this with the practical theology of Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani made for a potent mixture. In addition to this, the IS introduced the concept of a new Caliphate — especially al-Baghdadi’s vision of a Caliphate based on Islamic history. This further ignited the imagination of Muslim youth across the globe and became a powerful magnet to attract volunteers to their cause. Employing the themes of hijra and bay’ah, Sunni Muslims everywhere were urged to migrate to the Islamic Caliphate. At the peak of its power, the IS held territory both in Iraq and Syria, almost equal in size to the United Kingdom.
  • Pivotal role of the Net
  • Islamic State 2.0 remains wedded to this idea of a caliphate, even though the caliphate is no longer in existence. It retains its ability to proselytise over the Internet, making a special virtue of ‘direct-to-home’ jihad. It continues to manage a ‘virtual community’ of fanatical sympathisers who adhere to their doctrine.
  • IS State 2.0 includes several new variations from the original concept. Returnees from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq appear more inclined to follow tactics employed by other ‘oppressed’ Muslim communities, as for instance the Chechens. In Sri Lanka, a close knit web of family relationships has ensured secrecy and prevented leakage of information, thereby opting for methods of old-time anarchists. Reliance on online propaganda and social media has vastly increased. The IS has also refashioned several of its existing relationships.
  • Tactics have varied from ‘lone wolf’ attacks that were seen over the past year and more in the West, to coordinated, large-scale simultaneous attacks on multiple targets, as witnessed in Sri Lanka. The real threat that the IS, however, poses is that it is able to convince the Muslim extremist fringe that their time has come. The ‘idea’ is the medium. As the IS morphs into IS 2.0, ‘territorial flexibility’ is being replaced with ‘strategic flexibility’.
  • Ideas have an enormous impact. Radicalisation, in any event, has less to do with numbers than with the intensity of beliefs. The struggle is not against presumed disparities or injustices meted out to Muslim minorities. Rather, it reflects the quest for a new militant Islamist identity. It has more to do with the internal dynamics of Muslim societies, which across the world appear to be tilting towards radicalist tendencies. Saudi funding and the role of foreign preachers are playing a significant role in this.

Lessons for India

  • India must heed the lessons of what occurred on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. India is already in the cross hairs of the IS, and the announcement that the IS has created a separate ‘province’ should not be ignored. Some of the claims made may appear exaggerated but the threat posed by IS 2.0 is real.
  • Links between IS groups in Sri Lanka and India currently stand exposed and they should be cause for concern. The kingpin of the Easter blasts, Hashim, was linked to jihadis in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. He had a corresponding unit in Tamil Nadu. Indian authorities may do well to revisit the September 2018 criminal conspiracy case registered in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, which contained certain over-arching plans by the IS to target Hindus and non-Muslim activists in India. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) during its investigations has since come across links connecting IS units in Kerala and Tamil Nadu with the NTJ in Sri Lanka. These need to be pursued further. Detailed investigation by the NIA is called for to unearth connections of the kind that involved Aadhil Ameez, a Sri Lankan software engineer suspected in the Easter bombings, in India.
  • The number of Indian returnees from Syria may be small, but each of them would have come back having lost ‘all sense of purpose’. Their memories would only be of relentless artillery barrages, rocket fire and the air strikes that battered IS strongholds into submission. This is bound to nurture feelings of revenge — mainly against the West but extending to other segments as well. The attacks on luxury hotels and churches in Sri Lanka do smack of revenge against so-called atrocities on the IS in their Syrian stronghold. IS 2.0 is likely to nurture two types: the less informed rabid supporters and a band of highly radical ideologues who can entice Muslim youth to their cause.
  • The path to radicalization of both segments is through the Internet. Time spent alone online listening to propaganda can produce fanaticism of the most extreme variety. It could promote a binary world view of a conflict between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’, allowing radical Islamists to set the agenda. Zahran Mohammed Hashim is a striking example of how an individual can sway hundreds of impressionable youth in favour of a cause and not only transform the landscape from moderate Islam to radicalised Islam, but also induce the cadres to embark on terror. It is not so much the NTJ per se as propaganda by erstwhile leaders such as Zahran Hashim, who are the true flag bearers of a new era of radicalist Islam, and of the new brand of terror that they propound.

The task of restoring democracy

  • Civil society has a big role to play in restoring institutions that form the bulwark of democracy
  • On April 24, an ultra-right wing Italian group assembled in Milan to resurrect Benito Mussolini. The day and the place were both symbolically significant. April 25 is celebrated as Liberation Day in Italy, and it was at the Piazzale Loreto in central Milan that Mussolini’s body was hung upside down on April 28, 1945. Pictures of the people in the group showed them holding with one hand a big banner that read ‘Honour to Mussolini’, while their other hand was raised in the old fascist style of salutation to his memory.
  • This story is not dissimilar to how an ultra-right wing group recreated Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on his death anniversary this year. Not dissimilar, too, to how a Lok Sabha election candidate bragged about the ‘patriotism’ of Gandhi’s killer.
  • As we are seeing now, the memory of the assassin of the Mahatma is being brought to the surface by the ultra-right to take pride in what was clearly a shameful and sorrowful event in India’s history.
  • The dark clouds of fascism
  • These instances send shivers down the spine of all those who shun violence. All over the world, decent human beings have spent the last seven decades thinking that fascism is a thing of the past and that the crimes against humanity that fascism consciously perpetrated will always be seen as the most heinous among brutal crimes. But that confidence is now becoming a precious luxury. This year, for instance, in Italy, the right wing Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has proposed to put up a joint right wing front for contesting the upcoming election to the European Parliament. The ominous possibility of the ultras in Austria, Germany, France, and some ‘new’ European countries confronts Europe in the face.
  • The Italian development is not entirely unrelated to the outcome of the elections in Spain. While the Socialists won the election, the right wing continues to play an important role in the formation of the new government there. The Spanish election results bring to mind a term that has dominated the Indian media for the last few months — a hung Parliament. In Spain, the Socialist party (PSOE) has won 123 seats and the anti-capitalist Podemos, which has indicated a readiness to work in a PSOEled coalition, has won 42, which makes it a total of 165. This is 11 seats short of a clear majority. The traditional conservative People’s Party has got 66 seats; their stronger shade, the centre-right Citizens party has won 57 seats; and the far-right Vox, the type that wants to resurrect Mussolini, has won 24 seats.
  • The dark clouds of openly declared fascism have cast a large shadow over Europe. The history of Hitler’s rule tells us how he befriended the rich industrial class and destroyed the German Parliament. His use of capital, science and technology for creating an unprecedented torture machine for Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, communists and all his critics was based on the capacities available in his time. Today, these capacities have increased beyond one’s imagination. The technological aids for deeply invasive surveillance that the state has at its disposal are so advanced that the idea of individual freedom and non-conformist thought will have no space left if the ideas of the ultra-right were to capture power.
  • The Lok Sabha election has come to an end and in a few days we will know what the ballot box has in store for us. Given India’s place in the world, there is no doubt that all political parties in Europe will be keenly watching the outcome of the Indian election. Is it a small irony that a powerful bloc of nations, the BRICS, that was seen as being on an impressive and economic rise some years ago has changed so much? Brazil, Russia and China today have totalitarian and anti-people regimes, and India has obscurantist theological outfits openly claiming space in the decision-making process.

Challenges for the new regime

  • After the election results are announced, the new government will have many challenges waiting for its attention. These include jobless growth and a record drop in employment rates, deep agrarian distress, an education system that has completely eroded, caste discrimination and the continuing harassment of women. All these are real issues even if the government pretends they do not exist.
  • The most important, though, is the serious loss of credibility of democratic institutions. The Central Bureau of Investigation and the gubernatorial offices have declined beyond repair. The Election Commission, the judiciary and the Comptroller and Auditor General can still be rebuilt. Many other institutions such as the University Grants Commission, the national academies, scientific institutions and data-gathering mechanisms will require not just first-aid care but serious cure. The TRP demon will hardly permit redemption of the electronic media, but traditional print journalism and online journalism will require greater self-reflection and self-regulation. No government will be able to cope with these challenges by itself unless many active sections of the citizenry participate in the task of restoring democracy.
  • The task I suggest will be difficult for the country to accomplish even if a non-right government is formed, no matter of what composition. Over the last seven decades, democracy has been protected by civil society, which has critiqued the faults of various regimes. This time, civil society will have to rush to the assistance of the government in restoring institutions that form the bulwark of democracy. This task will be enormously daunting if a right wing government comes to power. Curbing its jingoism and propaganda juggernaut will require heroic efforts. To keep vigil on complicit office-holders in key institutions will become full-time voluntary work for political opponents and non-party groups.
  • Yet, if many of us do not do this, we will provide an unintended impetus to the ultra-right. It is true that democracy has erred often. Yet, it is also true that democracy solidly stood the world’s guarantee for averting wars. Democracy has erred, but it has not failed us. The idea of democracy today is a pale shadow of what it was imagined to be.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s vision for the country as a place only for Americans and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s imagining of India as a place for only those who agree with him are versions of democracy that have reduced their respective Constitutions to a forgotten baggage. Indians must hold vigil in both good and bad times. We will soon know if we can.
  • Why are exit polls banned by EC?
  • Seeking an amendment to the Representation of the People Act to provide for a ban on both exit and opinion polls during a period specified by the Election Commission, the poll watchdog in 2004 had approached the Law Ministry along with the endorsement of six national parties and 18 state parties. The recommendation was accepted in part, and in February 2010, restrictions were imposed only on exit polls through the introduction of Section 126(A) in the Act.
  • The commission also reiterated its earlier advisory banning exit polls till the evening of May 19. “Election Commission of India, in exercise of the powers under sub-section(1) of Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has notified the period between 7.00 A.M. on 11.04.2019 (Thursday) and 6.30 P.M. on 19.05.2019 (Sunday) as the period during which conducting any exit poll and publishing or publicizing the result of exit poll by means of the print or electronic media or in any other manner shall be prohibited,” the advisory read.