Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
- Questions in Parliament & Ethics committee
- Fast Radio Burst
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Context: MEA issued statement after Canada hits out at India for seeking reduction in number of diplomats.
About the news
- India’s Ministry of External Affairs reiterated that it did not violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by asking 41 Canadian diplomats to be repatriated. Statement was in response to Canadian Foreign Minister who had accused India of violating diplomatic norms by seeking a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats posted in India.
- Canada announced that due to the reduced number of officials, Canada was forced to stop in-person services at its consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Such services will now be available only in the High Commission in Delhi.
- According to the statement India’s actions in implementing the decision is fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Accusing the Canadian government of maintaining a much higher number of diplomats in India, the MEA said that the reduction was necessitated by Canada’s “continued interference” in India’s internal affairs.
- India’s decision to seek parity was not sudden and was conveyed to Canada around a month back, with the deadline of October 10 being extended till October 20 subsequently, in consultation with the Canadian side.
About Vienna Convention:
- The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.
- Its aim is to facilitate the development of friendly relations among governments through a uniform set of practices and principles.
- It codifies the longstanding custom of diplomatic immunity, in which diplomatic missions are granted privileges that enable diplomats to perform their functions without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country.
- The Vienna Convention is a cornerstone of modern international relations and international law and is almost universally ratified and observed; it is considered one of the most successful legal instruments drafted under the United Nations.
- The Convention is an extensive document , containing 53 articles.
- Membership: 193 state parties including all UN member states, with the exceptions of Palau and South Sudan, and the UN observer states of the Holy See and State of Palestine.
- The host nation at any time and for any reason can declare a particular member of the diplomatic staff to be persona non grata. The sending state must recall this person within a reasonable period of time, or otherwise this person may lose their diplomatic immunity (Article 9).
- The premises of a diplomatic mission, diplomatic premiers are the houses of ambassadors and are inviolable and must not be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission; likewise, the host country must never search the premises, may not seize its documents or property, and must protect the mission from intrusion or damage (Article 22). Article 30 extends this provision to the private residence of the diplomats.
- The archives and documents of a diplomatic mission are inviolable and shall not be seized or opened by the host government (Article 24).
- The host country must permit and protect free communication between the diplomats of the mission and their home country. A diplomatic bag must never be opened, even on suspicion of abuse, and a diplomatic courier must never be arrested or detained (Article 27).
- Diplomats must not be liable to any form of arrest or detention, and the receiving state must make all efforts to protect their person and dignity (Article 29).
- Diplomats are immune from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the host state, with exceptions for professional activities outside the diplomat’s official functions (Article 31). Article 32 permits sending states to waive this immunity.
- Diplomatic missions are exempt from taxes (Article 34) and customs duties (Article 36).
- Family members of diplomats living in the host country enjoy most of the same protections as the diplomats themselves (Article 37)
About Article 11
- It states that in the absence of specific agreement as to the size of the mission, the receiving State may require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal, having regard to circumstances and conditions in the receiving State and to the needs of the particular mission.
- The receiving State may equally, within similar bounds and on a non-discriminatory basis, refuse to accept officials of a particular category.
What is diplomatic immunity?
- It’s the privilege of exemption from certain laws and taxes granted to diplomats by the country in which they are posted.
- It was framed so that diplomats can function without fear, threat or intimidation from the host country. Diplomatic immunity is granted on the basis of two conventions, popularly called the Vienna Conventions — the Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, and the Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.
- They have been ratified by 187 countries, including India. Which means, it is a law under the Indian legal framework and cannot be violated.
What is the extent of their immunity?
- According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the immunity enjoyed by a diplomat posted in the embassy is “inviolable”.
- The diplomat cannot be arrested or detained and his house will have the same inviolability and protection as the embassy.
- It is possible for the diplomat’s home country to waive immunity but this can happen only when the individual has committed a ‘serious crime’, unconnected with their diplomatic role or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual.
Is this immunity same for all diplomats
- The Vienna Convention classifies diplomats according to their posting in the embassy, consular or international organisations such as the UN.
- A nation has only one embassy per foreign country, usually in the capital, but may have multiple consulate offices, generally in locations where many of its citizens live or visit.
- Diplomats posted in an embassy get immunity, along with his or her family members. While diplomats posted in consulates too get immunity, they can be prosecuted in case of serious crimes, that is, when a warrant is issued. Besides, their families don’t share that immunity.
2 . Questions in Parliament & Ethics committee – Affidavit sworn under oath
Context: TMC MP Mahua Moitra said she welcomes answering questions from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee pertaining to ‘cash for query’ allegations against her.
- When in session, the Lok Sabha generally starts with the Question Hour which is a one hour time period provided to MPs to ask questions of ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries.
What is the procedure for raising the questions?
- The procedure for raising questions is governed by Rules 32 to 54 of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha” and Directions 10 to 18 of the “Directions by the Speaker, Lok Sabha‟.
- To ask a question, an MP has to first give a notice addressed to the lower house’s Secretary-General, intimating their intention to ask a question. The notice usually contains the text of the question, the official designation of the Minister to whom the question is addressed, the date on which the answer is desired, and the order of preference, in case the MP tables more than one notice of questions for the same day.
- A Member is allowed to give not more than five notices of questions, both for oral and written answers, in all, for any day. Notices received in excess of five from a Member for a day, are considered for the subsequent day(s) concerning that Minister(s) during the period of that session only.
- Usually, the period of notice of a question isn’t less than 15 days.
- There are two ways through which MPs can submit the notices of their questions.
- First, through an online ‘Member’s Portal’, where they have to enter their ID and password to get access.
- Second, through the printed forms available in the Parliamentary Notice Office.The next stage is when the Speaker of Lok Sabha examines the notices of the questions in the light of the laid out rules.
- It is the Speaker, who decides if a question, or a part thereof, is or isn’t admissible.
What are the conditions for the admissibility of questions?
- There are numerous rules that govern the admissibility of a question raised by an MP. For example, questions shall not ordinarily contain more than 150 words. They shouldn’t contain arguments, defamatory statements, refer to the character or conduct of any person except in their official or public capacity.
- Queries raising larger issues of policy are not allowed, for it is not possible to enunciate policies within the limited compass of an answer to a question.
- Besides these, a question isn’t admissible if its subject matter is pending judgment before any court of law or any other tribunal or body set up under law or is under consideration before a Parliamentary Committee.
- A query also can’t seek information on matters which may weaken the unity and integrity of the country.
Different types of questions
- There are four different types of questions: starred, unstarred, short-notice questions and questions addressed to private Members.
- A starred question is asked by an MP and answered orally by the Minister-in-charge. Each MP is allowed to ask one starred question per day. Starred questions have to be submitted at least 15 days in advance (so that the Minister-in-charge has the time to prepare the answers) and only 20 questions can be listed for oral answers on a day. When a question is answered orally, supplementary questions can be asked thereon.
- An unstarred question receives a written reply from the Ministry. These also need to be submitted at least 15 days in advance. Only 230 questions can be listed for written answers in a day. Unlike starred questions, unstarred questions don’t permit any follow-up questions.
- Short notice questions are ones pertaining to a matter of urgent public importance. They can be asked with less than 10 days’ notice, with reasons for the short notice. Like a starred question, they are answered orally, followed by supplementary questions.
- The question to a private Member is addressed to the MP themselves. It is asked when the subject matter pertains to any Bill, Resolution or any matter relating to the Business of the House for which that MP is responsible.
Importance of raising Questions :
- Asking questions is an inherent and unfettered parliamentary right of an MP.
- The exercise is meant to act as a parliamentary device to practise legislative control over executive actions. It can be used to get information on aspects of administration and government activity, criticise government policies and schemes, throw light on government lapses, and push ministers to take substantive steps for the common good.
- On the other hand, the government can use these questions to gauge public reaction to their policies and administration. At times, questions lead to the formation of a parliamentary commission, a court of enquiry or even the enactment of a legislation.
LS Ethics Committee
- A study group of the Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha visited Australia, the UK, and the US in 1997 to look into practices pertaining to the conduct and ethics of legislators. It drafted a report for the constitution of an Ethics Committee but the Lok Sabha was dissolved before the report could be laid on the table.
- It was tabled in the 12th Lok Sabha but before the Committee of Privileges could take a view on it, the Lok Sabha was again dissolved. The Committee of Privileges finally recommended the constitution of an Ethics Committee during the 13th Lok Sabha. Late Speaker G M C Balayogi constituted an ad-hoc Ethics Committee in 2000 and it became a permanent part of the House only in 2015.
- Under it, any person can complain against a member through another Lok Sabha MP along with all evidence of misconduct and an affidavit stating that the complaint is not “false, frivolous or vexatious”. A member, too, can complain against another member with evidence without any need for an accompanying affidavit.
- The Committee does not entertain complaints based only on media reports or on sub-judice matters. The Speaker can refer to the committee any complaint against an MP. The committee makes a prima facie enquiry before deciding to examine a complaint and after the evaluation of the complaint makes its recommendations.
- The committee report is presented to the Speaker who asks the House if the report should be taken up for consideration. There is also a provision for a half-an-hour discussion on the report
- The members are appointed by the Speaker for a one year term period.
What is a sworn affidavit?
- As per the Cornell Law School an affidavit is a “sworn statement a person makes before a notary or officer of the court outside of the court asserting that certain facts are true to the best of that person’s knowledge”.
- Section 3(3) of India’s General Clauses Act, 1897, defines an “affidavit” as an “affirmation and declaration in the case of persons by law allowed to affirm or declare instead of swearing”.
- In its 1977 ruling in Chhotan Prasad Singh vs. Hari Dusadh, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that it is an essential characteristic of an affidavit that it should be made on oath or affirmation before a person having authority to administer the oath or affirmation.
What is an “approver affidavit”?
- In legal terms, an “approver” is a person who is directly or indirectly concerned, involved or privy to an offence. An accomplice or an accused in a case can later turn approver, siding with the prosecution in return for a lesser sentence or pardon.
- Section 306 of the CrPC has provisions for tender of pardon for an accomplice in a crime “on condition of his making a full and true disclosure of the whole of the circumstances [of the offence] within his knowledge relative to the offence”.
3 . Fast Radio Burst
Context: A new study that documented the most distant “fast radio burst” in history says that FRBs can be used to measure the mass of the universe.
What are Fast Radio Bursts?
- In radio astronomy, a fast radio burst (FRB) is a transient radio pulse of length ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to 3 seconds, caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not yet understood.
- Astronomers estimate the average FRB releases as much energy in a millisecond as the Sun puts out in three days.
- While extremely energetic at their source, the strength of the signal reaching Earth has been described as 1,000 times less than from a mobile phone on the Moon.
- The first FRB was discovered by Duncan Lorimer and his student David Narkevic in 2007 when they were looking through archival pulsar survey data, and it is therefore commonly referred to as the Lorimer Burst.
- Most FRBs are extragalactic, but the first Milky Way FRB was detected by the CHIME radio telescope in April 2020.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- The Delhi–Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System, also called as Delhi–Meerut RRTS, is an 82.15 km (51.05 mi) long, rapid rail corridor that will connect Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut, currently under construction.
- A total of eight RRTS corridors have been identified to be developed in NCR, out of which three corridors have been prioritized to be implemented in Phase-I. It is one of the three rapid rail corridors planned under Phase I of the RapidX project managed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
- With a maximum speed of 180 km/h (110 mph), the distance between Delhi and Meerut will be covered in less than 60 minutes. The project is being executed at a cost of ₹30,274 crore (US$3.8 billion).
- The Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor is the first RRTS corridor to be implemented in India.
- Multi-Modal Integration: RRTS stations will be integrated with various modes of transport like Airports, Railway Stations, Inter-State Bus Terminals, Delhi Metro Stations etc. It will facilitate the movement of commuters between modes.
Global Development Initiative
- The Global Development Initiative is a global initiative proposed by China in 2021. It is regarded as another important public good and cooperation platform provided by China to the world since Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013.
- The stated purpose of GDI is to galvanise worldwide attention to development, strengthen global development partnership, promote international development cooperation, and give a fresh impetus to the realisation of the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
- While announcing the initiative, President Xi talked about eight priority areas for cooperation:
- (i) poverty alleviation, (ii) food security, (iii) COVID-19 and vaccines, (iv) financing for development, (v) climate change and green development, (vi) industrialisation, (vii) digital economy, and (viii) connectivity. Further, he called for the acceleration in the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for SDG’s as a means to ‘build a global community of development with a shared future
Global Security Initiative
- Global Security Initiative is an initiative proposed by China.
- Officially, the initiative is meant to “uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the building of national security on the basis of insecurity in other countries.”
- It identifies six commitments: (1) common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security; (2) respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; (3) abiding by the purpose and principles of the UN Charter; (4) taking the security concerns of all countries seriously; (5) peacefully resolving disputes between countries through dialogue; and (6) maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional fields.
- The principles outlined by the Global Security Initiative are long-standing elements of China’s security policy.
Global Civilization Initiative
- Confronted with the questions of the world, the history and the era, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Civilization Initiative after presenting the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative.
- The Global Civilization Initiative advocates that countries need to uphold the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend feelings of superiority.
- Through these initiatives, China has made its own devotion to the international community to cope with the common challenges and helped build strong support for the promotion of the community with a shared future for mankind.