Defence Acquisition Council
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Raksha Mantri accorded approval for capital acquisition of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian Armed Forces. Proposals for an approximate cost of Rs 38,900 crore were approved.
- The indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost.
- A large number of these projects have been made possible due to Transfer of Technology (ToT) by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to the indigenous industry.
- These include Pinaka ammunitions, BMP armament upgrades and software defined radios for the Indian Army, Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems and Astra Missiles for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF).
- Further, addressing the long felt need of the IAF to increase its fighter squadrons, the DAC also approved the proposal for procurement of 21 MIG-29 along with upgradation of existing 59 MIG-29 aircraft and procurement of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft.
While acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted, addition of Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems having a firing range of 1,000 kilometres to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Navy and the Air Force.
About Defence Acquisition Council –
- Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the Defence Minister was constituted for overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process. The composition of the DAC is as follows – Defence Minister: Chairman; Minister of State for Defence: Member; Chief of Army Staff: Member; Chief of Naval Staff: Member; Chief of Air Staff: Member etc. It decides on the new policies and capital acquisitions for the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force) and the Indian Coast Guard.
- It was formed, after the Group of Ministers recommendations on ‘Reforming the National Security System’, in 2001, post Kargil War (1999).
- The objective of the Defence Acquisition Council is to ensure expeditious procurement of the approved requirements of the Armed Forces in terms of capabilities sought, and time frame prescribed, by optimally utilising the allocated budgetary resources.
- The functions of the DAC include –
- in-principle approval of 15 Year Long-Term Integrated Perspective Plan for Defence Forces;
- accord of Acceptance of Necessity to acquisition proposals;
- categorisation of the acquisition proposals relating to ‘Buy’, ‘Buy & Make’ and ‘Make’;
- issues relating to Single vendor clearance;
- decision regarding ‘offset’ provisions in respect of acquisition proposals above Rs. 300 crores;
- decisions regarding Transfer of Technology under ‘Buy & Make’ category of acquisition proposals; and
- Field Trial evaluation.
Israel’s plan to annex West Bank
In 2019, weeks before the Israeli legislative election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he had plans to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Months later, in September, Netanyahu said that his government was considering annexing the Jordan Valley if he were to be reelected.
These annexation plans have been extremely controversial because it would mean Israel unilaterally declaring sovereignty over parts of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Such moves by Netanyahu are also contrary to the two-state solution and have the potential to trigger further conflict in the region.
Where is West Bank?
- The West Bank is located on the west bank of the Jordan River and is bounded by Israel on the north, west and south. On the east of this river lies Jordan.
- Since the Six-Day War in 1967, also known as the Third Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank has been occupied by Israel.
- Both Israelis and Palestinians assert their rights to the territory of the West Bank and its disputed status and the conflict has not been resolved as yet.
- The Palestinians who live in the West Bank live under Israeli military rule, as well as limited self-rule. Also present in the West Bank are some 132 Israeli settlements and 124 unauthorised settlements, along with military outposts.
- While the Israeli government and the US under the Trump presidency have insisted that these settlements are legal, the larger international community does not believe so and considers these settlements to be illegal under the provisions of international law.
What does this annexation mean?
- Netanyahu has claimed that his plans do not involve an annexation of the West Bank. However, it would mean enforcing Israeli sovereignty over Israeli settlements and a significant chunk of land in the Jordan Valley, an area near the Jordanian border; approximately 30% of total land in the West Bank. The Palestinians believe that the annexation would prevent their access to essential water resources and key agricultural land, particularly in the Jordan Valley.
- In the West Bank, Palestinians are only subject to Israeli military rules and their own Palestinian laws. Observers say the annexation will largely impact the establishment of settlements and other Israeli construction in the area that has been a long-standing bone of contention between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
National Security Law of Hong Kong
Recently, China has passed the legislation titled ‘The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’ and subsequently made it a part of the Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
About the National Security Law –
- The new law includes the following as offences– Secession, Subversion, Terrorist Activities, and Collusion with a Foreign Country or with External Elements to Endanger National Security. All four offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.
- Collusion includes as an offence “provoking by unlawful means hatred among Hong Kong residents” towards Beijing or the city government.
- Terrorism includes “sabotage of means of transport, transport facilities, electric power or gas facilities, or other combustible or explosible facilities”, and “attacking or damaging the premises and facilities” of the city government is among the definitions of subversion.
- Taking aim at the perceived involvement of foreigners in city politics, the law also allows the prosecution of persons who are not the residents of Hong Kong for committing an offence under the law outside Hong Kong.
Office for National Security –
- The new national security law further blurs the distinction between the legal systems of semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which maintained aspects of British law after the 1997 handover, and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.
- Bolstering its presence in Hong Kong, mainland China will establish a new department here called the ‘Office for Safeguarding National Security’.
- With Beijing’s approval, the Office would be able to take over jurisdiction from the city’s independent law courts if a case is “is complex due to the involvement of a foreign country or external elements”, if “a serious situation” makes the local application of the security law difficult, or due to the occurrence of “a major and imminent threat to national security”.
- In cases that are taken over by the Office, prosecutors as well as adjudicators will be appointed by mainland China, and Chinese procedural laws would apply.
- Like their counterparts in India, Hong Kong courts are known to follow a strict interpretation of criminal statutes– offering a greater advantage for the person accused. Under the new law, however, the power of interpretation has been vested in the Standing Committee of the Chinese parliament, which could prescribe harsher sentences for the same offences.
- If a trial involves “State secrets” or “public order”, it could be closed to the media and the public; only the judgment would be delivered in open court.
- A new body called the ‘Committee for Safeguarding National Security’ will be formed with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive at its helm, and will be immune from judicial scrutiny. The Committee, which will have a Beijing-appointed national security adviser, will be responsible for formulating national security policies among other tasks.
- Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong was supposed to enact the national security law on its own. But, when the city government first tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for massive protests that year. Ever since, the government steered clear of introducing the legislation again.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
The Union Home Ministry designated nine more individuals as “terrorists” under the amended anti-terror law that was passed by Parliament last year. The nine persons declared terrorists are linked to separatist Khalistani groups.
About UAPA –
- It is a law which is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
- It empowered appropriate authorities to declare any association as ‘unlawful’ if it is carrying out ‘unlawful activities’.
- This law was comprehensively amended by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004 to deal with terrorist activities. Like POTA, it defines a ‘terrorist act’ and also defines a “terrorist organisation” as an organisation listed in the Schedule or an organisation operating under the same name as an organisation so listed.
- It further provides a mechanism for forfeiture of the proceeds of terrorism apart from providing stringent punishments for terrorism related offences.
- Further, it is amended in by Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019. Thus, at present the only Union Legislation dealing specifically with terrorism is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019.
Amendments to UAPA –
- The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 providing special procedures to deal with terrorist activities and individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India.
- Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it –
- commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
- prepares for terrorism
- promotes terrorism or
- is otherwise involved in terrorism.
- The bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
- Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency, the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
- Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
- The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases.
- The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Bill adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism(2005).
Central Zoo Authority
The Environment Ministry has reconstituted the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to include an expert from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and a molecular biologist.
About ‘Central Zoo Authority’ –
- The CZA is a statutory body chaired by the Environment Minister and tasked with regulating zoos across the country.
- The authority lays down guidelines and prescribes rules under which animals may be transferred among zoos nationally and internationally.
- Apart from the chairman, it consists of 10 members and a member-secretary. Almost all of them are officials in the Environment Ministry and non-government experts are those who are wildlife conservationists or retired forest officers.
- Zoos are regulated as per the provisions of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and are guided by the National Zoo Policy, 1992. The Wildlife Protection Act was amended in 1991 to establish the Central Zoo Authority.