India on Thursday said the new map of the country did not revise anything as far as the border with Nepal is concerned. The response came after Nepal’s Foreign Ministry complained that the map depicted Nepali territory of Kalapani as part of the Indian State of Uttarakhand.
“Our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India. The new map has in no manner revised our boundary with Nepal. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism. We reiterate our commitment to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, Foreign Ministry.
Nepal on Wednesday had formally protested over the issue. A press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there said Kathmandu is committed to protect Nepal’s territorial integrity. “Nepal is clear that Kalapani is a part of Nepali territory. We are committed to protect the international boundaries of Nepal and for that we have diplomatic dialogue with friendly Nepali Foreign Ministry declared,” said the press release.
Junking fast food
Enforcement is key in preventing school children from accessing unhealthy food
In a welcome step, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified a draft regulation aimed at prohibiting the sale and advertisement of food rich in fat, sugar and salt to schoolchildren inside the school premises and within 50 m around it. It comes in response to the 2015 order from the Delhi High Court directing the central agency to frame norms to promote healthy diets in schools. Besides prohibiting the sale of junk food, the FSSAI requires schools to simultaneously encourage and promote a safe and balanced diet. In a bid to shield the children from consuming unhealthy food items and snacks, the FSSAI prohibits food companies that manufacture such items from advertising or offering for free such foods in school premises and within 50 m of the campus. To thwart food companies from luring children to consume foods rich in fat, sugar and salt, the companies are prohibited from using their logos, brand names and product names on books and other educational materials, as well as on school property such as buildings, buses, and athletic fields. As a general guidance to provide wholesome food, the agency recommends the use of a combination of whole grains, milk, eggs, and millets; it also listed a set of general guidelines for selection of food products that can be offered in schools.
Even as malnutrition accounted for over seven lakh (68%) deaths in children under the age of five years in 2017 in India, there is rising obesity in schoolchildren in many States. According to a July 2017 study, India, with 14.4 million, had the second most number of obese children among 195 countries. A recent study found 23 States to have child overweight prevalence more than the national average, with six States having a prevalence of over 20%. Several studies have shown how a western diet affects the composition and diversity of gut bacteria and sets the stage for many metabolic diseases. Hence, any attempt to reduce and discourage the intake of unhealthy foods, which is a major cause of unhealthy weight gain in children, should be welcomed. The challenge will be in enforcement, particularly in preventing the sale and promotion of unhealthy food near schools. For instance, despite the sale and advertisement of tobacco products within 100 yards of a school being prohibited, violation is more the norm than the exception. Shops that sell tobacco products very often also sell many of the packaged unhealthy foods that the FSSAI now wants to ban. The onus of inculcating healthy eating habits also starts at home. Besides taking steps to reduce the intake of unhealthy food, both schools and parents should ensure children get adequate physical activity, which is increasingly being neglected for various reasons. It is a combination of healthy food and regular physical activity that will go a long way in bringing up healthier children.
Ban proposed on sale, ads of junk food in schools
FSSAI releases draft regulations
Aimed at enabling children to eat and grow healthy, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday released draft regulations titled Food Safety and Standards (Safe Food and healthy diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019.
“At the heart of these regulations is a fundamental idea to make it clear what is healthy for children and what is not,” said a senior FSSAI official.
One of the important regulations proposed is that foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) cannot be sold to children in school canteens/mess premises/hostel kitchens or within 50 m of the school campus.
Schools should adopt a comprehensive programme for promoting healthy diets among children. The school campus should be converted into ‘Eat Right School’ focussing on local and seasonal food and no food waste as per the specified benchmarks.
According to studies, about 8% of schoolchildren are obese. FSSAI has also proposed that children have to be encouraged to consume balanced diet in the school as per the guidelines issued by the National Institute of Nutrition. “Nutritionists, dieticians may be engaged by the school to assist in the preparation of menu periodically. Also it has been proposed that there should be regular inspection of school premises where safe, healthy and hygienic food should be served to students,’’ noted FSSAI.
The FSSAI has invited suggestions and objections from stakeholders within 30 days.
NOV,6,2019 Hindu Analysis
Indian cow’s milk has gold, says BJP leader
The BJP’s chief in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, has said that the hump of Indian cows could produce gold.
Speaking at an event on Monday organised by the Ghosh community in Bardhaman on the welfare of cows, he said, “Foreign cows are not mothers but aunties.”
“The special characteristic of Indian cow milk is that it has gold in it. The hump of cow has a blood vessel in it which can produce gold as sunray touches the hump. That is a reason why milk of desi cows is a little yellow,” he said. He further added that “foreign cows like Jerseys” produce impure milk unlike Indian cows and that the milk of such cows should not be used in Hindu rituals.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. But the Islamic State (IS) is not. The death of its “Caliph” is certainly a blow to the terrorist group. But the IS is ideologically stronger to survive the fall of its leader, and the geopolitical conditions that led to the rise of the group remain more or less intact. Much has been discussed about these conditions.
Geopolitical tensions, civil conflicts and foreign interventions have been a source of power for jihadist groups such as the al-Qaeda and the IS. Remember, Osama bin Laden was a nobody before the Americans and their allies started bankrolling and training the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet Red Army.
The Taliban, which rose to power from the civil war-stricken Afghanistan was hosting the al-Qaeda when it carried out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Virginia. The al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) rose from the ruins of the Iraq that was destroyed by the American invasion. And the AQI morphed into today’s IS, exploiting the chaos Syria fell into in the wake of the civil war. While these are the objective conditions behind the rise of terrorist-jihadism , what is its subjectivity? Do these groups have an agency?
Brothers with arms
Though the al-Qaeda and the IS are cut from the same cloth, there are tactical and strategic differences in their operations. The al-Qaeda was basically a hit-and-run organisation until the IS changed the landscape of terrorism. The group would carry out attacks and then retreat to the deserts, caves or mountains where it was hiding. It did not expose itself to the conventional military might of its enemies. Barring certain pockets that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups now control, such as Syria’s Idlib, the group largely remains a hit-and-run organisation. The IS, however, took insurgency a step further. It started holding on to territories it captured, established a proto-state in those territories and called it the Islamic State. While the al-Qaeda also wants to create a global emirate, the IS took steps to implement its world-view. It declared a Caliphate, trying to revive an Islamic institution that ceased to exist following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. And by doing so, Baghdadi tried to place himself in the long list of Islamic Caliphs, the rightful leaders of the ummah (the global Muslim community).
Violent jihadism is inherently anti-modern and very unpopular among Muslims across the world . It is because of their unpopularity that these groups are involved in extreme violence. With their asymmetrical barbarity, jihadist groups have sought to overcome not just the shortcomings in their military capabilities but also the lack of their political capital. For Baghdadi’s group, violence was both a means and an end in itself. The puritanical interpretation of Islam by the IS has echoes from Salafi Islam. The Salafis follow the “pious forefathers” of Islam. For them, man cannot interpret the holy book or the Hadith. But Salafism itself is not a monolith. It can be a spiritual way of life. There are Salafi organisations whose members dedicate themselves to a “pure” Islamic way of life and have nothing to do with violence. But for groups such as the al-Qaeda and the IS, Salafism is a political ideology to attain power. And since they cannot attain power through mass movements, popular elections or revolutions, they turn to violent jihadism as a vehicle to reach that goal, which makes them Salafi-Jihadists.
‘Pure’ Islamic State
Unlike the al-Qaeda, the IS’s operations were not confined to carrying out suicide attacks in the West or West-backed countries. It wanted to create a “pure” Islamic State where the “true” believers can come and live. These “true believers”, for the IS, were Sunni Muslims alone and who followed the IS’s diktats.
The Shias are in this worldview, considered “rafidha” (rejectionists, who “reject” the first three Caliphs of the Sunni Islam), and therefore merit second class status. In areas under their control, the minority communities had to pay minority tax to the state for protection. They could not publicly practise their religion. In the IS worldview, homosexuals were to be thrown off high-rises, the fingers of smokers had to be chopped off, slavery permitted and music and films forbidden. The concept of “nation-states” is also alien to the IS world-view, for whom the world is the Caliphate and where the ummah should be living under the leadership of their rightful Caliph.
In effect, the IS has stood opposed to everything modern liberalism offers — individual freedom, equality, liberty are all completely denied by the group. The IS also frowns upon and denies critical thinking, demanding only loyalty to its cause. At the same time, where the IS succeeded is in exploiting the contradictions within modern societies — the contradictions that were swept under the carpet by the roadroller of nationalism. The identity crisis of Muslims, especially young Muslims, in liberal societies, is what the IS tapped into using modern communication technologies. It offered a violent, alternative, vengeful vision to trap these people, while in Muslim-majority societies, western aggression was used as propaganda for recruitment. The IS managed to do this while holding on to territories that it captured within Iraq and Syria. It was for the first time in decades that a group claimed to have established a caliphate by erasing the borders of modern states (Iraq and Syria in this case) and by calling upon followers to migrate. The IS succeeded in attracting tens of thousands of people to its “Caliphate”— from Tunisia to India and the U.S. It was also opposed to the diversity of Islam terming Shias, Ismailis, Ahmedias and Alawites as non-Muslims. Syncretic traditions of Islam such as Sufism were branded anti-Islam by the IS. Even if Sunni Muslims did not buy into the IS version of Islam, they could be excommunicated (takfir) and killed according to its worldview. It is no surprise that most of the IS’s victims in the Arab world were Muslims.
Problems in the anti-IS fight
The IS’ Caliphate has now been destroyed and its leader gone. But there are two problems in the fight against the IS.
One, the objective conditions that led to the rise of the IS remain intact in West Asia and the larger Arab world. The group still has affiliates and arms in several parts of the world such as Afghanistan, Egypt and Nigeria. The recent Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria is threatening even the limited advances made in the fight against the IS. The Shia-Sunni sectarianism that the IS tried to exploit is still burning across West Asia.
Two, the IS will be defeated only when its ideologywill be defeated, which is a tall ask. The IS is not an organisation that was created by “western imperialism”, but an organisation that used the chaos created by “imperialism”. It will continue to do so even after all these setbacks — this includes even the rump of the IS. The group does not need a standing army of thousands of soldiers to attack civilians through suicide blasts. For them, violence is linked to their survival. If the IS goes silent, it becomes irrelevant in the global jihadist landscape and all its talk of the expansionary Caliphate will come to an end. It is like Macbeth. The group will retain its need to kill in order to survive. To stop the group, its organisational and ideological apparatus has to be taken down in a region that is free of foreign interventions and repressions. For now, this looks a distant possibility.
Changing the status quo
The Home Ministry’s move to merge the Assam Rifles with the ITBP is a step in the right direction
The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed that the Assam Rifles should be merged with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and serve under the operational control of the MHA. At present, the Assam Rifles, a Central paramilitary force, is under the administrative control of the MHA and operational control of the Army, i.e. the Ministry of Defence. The Army is opposed to this proposal.
History of Assam Rifles
Formed as Cachar Levy in 1835 to assist the British rulers in maintaining peace in the Northeast, the Assam Rifles, which had just about 750 men, proved its capability and efficiency. This necessitated its expansion. The unit was converted into the Assam Military Police Battalion with two additional battalions in 1870. They were known as the Lushai Hills Battalion, Lakhimpur Battalion and Naga Hills Battalion. Just before World War I, another battalion, the Darrang Battalion, was added. They all rendered great service by assisting the British in Europe and West Asia during the war. These battalions were then renamed Assam Rifles. They continued to be regular armed police battalions, but with the ‘Rifles’ tag, which was a matter of honour for their competence, on par with any regular Army battalion.
It was after the Chinese aggression in 1962 in Arunachal Pradesh that the Assam Rifles battalions were placed under the operational control of the Army. Assam Rifles personnel who were acclimatised to the region were better suited for operations then. It needs to be remembered that one of the major causes for India’s defeat was the fact that the regular Army units were not used to the extreme weather. The decision taken then was in keeping with the requirements. This is not the case any more.
All Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are acclimatised to almost every region of the country now due to country-wide deployment of all CAPF battalions. The operational role performed by the ITBP at 18,700 feet in Ladakh is testimony enough to its capability to guard the border in any part of the country. It needs to be noted that back in 2001, the Group of Ministers had stated that the principle of ‘One Border, One Force’ should be strictly adhered to. If ITBP can guard the India-China border in Ladakh, there is no reason why it cannot guard the IndiaChina border in Arunachal Pradesh and beyond.
The concept of having two masters for an organisation — one for administrative control and another for operational control — is not only absurd but also leads to problems of coordination. Therefore, the Home Ministry’s move to merge all its 55,000-strong Assam Rifles with the ITBP is a step in the right direction.
Opposed to the move
The Army argues that the Assam Rifles should be merged with it, to ensure national security. It requires no wisdom to conclude that the Army would lose its promotional avenues once this paramilitary force is merged with the ITBP, as it would be directly under the control of the Home Ministry. At present, nearly 80% of officers’ ranks from Major upwards are held by Army officers on deputation. A Lieutenant General of the Army holds the post of Director General of Assam Rifles. It is natural for the Army to oppose the move.
For the time being, the Chief may be appointed from among IPS officers. But for the tussle between the IPS and the CAPF officers, consequent to the CAPF being brought under the fold of Organised Group ‘A’ Service this year, it would be the direct officers of Assam Rifles who will eventually take up the top posts.
The Home Ministry, under Rajnath Singh, took up the issue of merger with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The matter is in the Delhi High Court now after retired personnel filed a petition saying they were facing difficulties in drawing pension because of dual control. The merger issue needs to be taken up on priority by the CCS so that doubts are cleared. The modalities of absorbing the officers should be worked out to stall any situation of a vacuum being created once the deputationists are repatriated to the Army.