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Daily Current affairs 29.06.2021 (The law of sedition is unconstitutional, Nuclear-capable Agni-P missile test-fired)

Daily Current affairs 29.06.2021 (The law of sedition is unconstitutional, Nuclear-capable Agni-P missile test-fired)

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1.The law of sedition is unconstitutional

An urgent review of the Kedar Nath judgment is necessary as ‘sedition’ violates the basic right of speech and expression

In Vinod Dua’s case (2021), the Supreme Court of India has reaffirmed the law of sedition laid down in Kedar Nath Singh (1962) and directed governments to adhere to it. This reaffirmation seems to be a little problematic. The Kedar Nath judgment upheld the constitutional validity of sedition as defined in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. And the Court read down the provision by holding that only writings or speeches which incite people to violence against the Government will come within the mischief of sedition. So, as per this judgment, unless speeches or writings tend to cause violence or disorder, there is no sedition.

Issue of ‘disaffection’

Section 124A of the IPC, which contains the law of sedition, categorises four sources of seditious acts. They are, spoken words, written words, signs or visible representations. The gist of the offence is: bringing or attempting to bring the government into contempt or hatred, or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards the government. There are three explanations attached to this section. The first explanation says that ‘disaffection’ includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. The second and third explanations say that one can comment on the measures of the government or other actions of the government without bringing or attempting to bring it into contempt or hatred or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards the government. These explanations do not convey anything different from what the defining section says.

Here is an illustration. If a person writes that the Government is very good but the vaccine policy is bad, perhaps he may not attract the charge of sedition as per the explanations. But he should invariably state that the government is very good. If he only says that the policies and actions of the government are consistently bad and does not say that the government is very good, he is liable to be charged with sedition. The recent examples of sedition cases amply prove this point.

The Supreme Court’s assertion in Kedar Nath that there is sedition only when writing or speech can lead to violence or disorder has consistently been ignored by governments all these years, and citizens of all ages have been charged with sedition for merely criticising the authorities. The Lakshadweep case is the latest example.

The problem actually lies in the fact that the law of sedition was not struck down by the Supreme Court in 1962 as unconstitutional. There was every justification for doing that because sedition, as defined in Section 124A of the IPC, clearly violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which confers the Fundamental Right of freedom of speech and expression, the most valuable right of free citizens of a free country.

Not a reasonable restriction

Further, this section does not get protection under Article 19(2) on the ground of reasonable restriction. It may be mentioned in this context that sedition as a reasonable restriction, though included in the draft Article 19 was deleted when that Article was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It clearly shows that the Constitution makers did not consider sedition as a reasonable restriction. However, the Supreme Court was not swayed by the decision of the Constituent Assembly. It took advantage of the words ‘in the interest … of public order’ used in Article 19(2) and held that the offence of sedition arises when seditious utterances can lead to disorder or violence. This act of reading down Section 124A brought it clearly under Article 19(2) and saved the law of sedition. Otherwise, sedition would have had to be struck down as unconstitutional. Thus, it continues to remain on the statute book and citizens continue to go to jail not because their writings led to any disorder but because they made critical comments against the authorities.

A few ironies

A great irony here is that the law of sedition, which should have gone out of the Statute Book when the Constitution of India came into force, was softened through interpretation and made constitutionally valid by the Supreme Court. This law was enacted by the British colonial government in 1870 with the sole object of suppressing all voices of Indians critical of the government. James Stephen, the author of the Bill, had clarified then that not only critical comments but even a seditious disposition of a person will attract this penal law. It was the policeman who would decide whether a person’s disposition was seditious.

The history of this most draconian law during colonial rule would reveal that the basic propositions laid down by Stephen have been followed by courts in all cases on sedition before Independence. In the Bangobasi case in 1891, Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s case in 1897 and 1908 and Mahatma Gandhi’s case in 1922, the High Courts, and ultimately the judicial committee of the Privy Council, consistently held that incitement to violence or rebellion is not a necessary part of sedition under Section 124A of the IPC and a mere comment which the authorities think has the potential to cause disaffection towards the government is seditious and the person can be arrested and put on trial. Justice Arthur Strachey, while stating the law of sedition before the jury in Tilak’s case, had made it absolutely clear that even attempts to cause disaffection would attract the provision, meaning thereby that rebellion, disorder or violence are not an ingredient of sedition. This statement of law by Justice Strachey was approved by the Privy Council.

The Supreme Court, while dealing with Kedar Nath, faced a tricky situation. On the one hand, there was the overwhelming judicial opinion saying that in order to attract sedition, a critical comment which causes disaffection towards the government or bring the government into hatred or contempt, is all that is necessary. If this opinion were followed by the Supreme Court, sedition in the IPC would have become unconstitutional. But the top court, for some unexplained reason, did not want to hold it unconstitutional. So, it adopted the reasoning given by the Federal Court in Niharendu Dutta Majumdar vs Emperor in 1942 in which it was held that the gist of the offence of sedition is public disorder or a reasonable apprehension of public disorder. In fact the Privy Council’s statement of law of sedition had clearly held that public disorder was not an ingredient of sedition. The Supreme Court itself admits that the Federal Court did not have the advantage of seeing the Privy Council’s statement of law, otherwise it would have affirmed the Privy Council’s view.

Here we cannot miss the irony that the Supreme Court’s attempt to read down Section 124A, to soften it and make its application conditional on public disorder, has made this colonial law constitutionally valid which otherwise it is not. On the other hand, if the judicial opinion on sedition given during the colonial period had been accepted, it would have been held unconstitutional and free India’s citizens would not have been thrown into jails for criticising the governments.

Impacting rights

In the ultimate analysis, the judgment in Kedar Nath which read down Section 124A and held that without incitement to violence or rebellion there is no sedition, has not closed the door on misuse of this law. It says that ‘only when the words written or spoken etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder’ the law steps in. So if a policeman thinks that a cartoon has the pernicious tendency to create public disorder, he will arrest that cartoonist. It is the personal opinion of the policeman that counts. The Kedar Nath judgment makes it possible for the law enforcement machinery to easily take away the fundamental right of citizens.

In a democracy, people have the inalienable right to change the government they do not like. People will display disaffection towards a government which has failed them. The law of sedition which penalises them for hating a government which does not serve them cannot exist because it violates Article 19(1)(a) and is not protected by Article 19(2). Therefore, an urgent review of the Kedar Nath judgement by a larger Bench has become necessary.

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court protected a political leader and six senior journalists from arrest in multiple sedition FIRs registered against them.

Key Points

  • Historical Background of Sedition Law:
    • Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy.
    • The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was enacted in 1860.
  • Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence.
  • It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time.

  • Sedition Law Today: Sedition is a crime under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
    • Section 124A IPC:
      • It defines sedition as an offence committed when “any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India”.
      • Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.
    • Punishment for the Offence of Sedition:
      • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
      • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job.
        • They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in the court at all times as and when required.
  • Major Supreme Court Decisions on Sedition Law:
    • The SC highlighted debates over sedition in 1950 in its decisions in Brij Bhushan vs the State of Delhiand Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras.
      • In these cases, the court held that a law which restricted speech on the ground that it would disturb public order was unconstitutional.
      • It also held that disturbing the public order will mean nothing less than endangering the foundations of the State or threatening its overthrow.
      • Thus, these decisions prompted the First Constitution Amendment, where Article 19 (2) was rewritten to replace “undermining the security of the State” with “in the interest of public order”.
    • In 1962, the SC decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar.
      • It upheld the constitutionality of sedition, but limited its application to “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence”.
      • It distinguished these from “very strong speech” or the use of “vigorous words” strongly critical of the government.
    • In 1995, the SC, in Balwant Singh vs State of Punjab, held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.
  • Arguments in Support of Section 124A:
    • Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
    • It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means. The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State.
    • If contempt of court invites penal action,  contempt of government should also attract punishment.
    • Many districts in different states face a maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
    • Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases.
  • Arguments against Section 124A:
    • Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
    • Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition.
      • Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
    • The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country. There is no reason why India should not abolish this section.
    • The terms used under Section 124A like ‘disaffection’ are vague and subject to different interpretations to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
    • IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 have provisions that penalize “disrupting the public order” or “overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means”. These are sufficient for protecting national integrity. There is no need for Section 124A.
    • The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse.
    • In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets forth internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. However, misuse of sedition and arbitrary slapping of charges are inconsistent with India’s international commitments.

2.A case of no case

The trend of imputing seditious design to criticism of the government is disturbing

The sedition case against Lakshadweep film-maker Aisha Sultana has all the undesirable indicators of the misuse of the penal provision: intolerance towards any strident criticism of policy, tendency to discern non-existent threats to the state and deliberate resort to it despite the absence of any ingredient of the offence. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Kerala High Court has granted her anticipatory bail mainly on the ground that neither Section 124A, which penalises seditious speech or writing, nor Section 153B, which seeks to punish imputations against national integration, is attracted. There may be some cause for those in the Lakshadweep administration to feel aggrieved that the film-maker, in the course of a heated discussion on the policy changes sought to be brought about by the Administrator, accused the authorities of unleashing a “bioweapon” against the people by relaxing quarantine rules for those entering Lakshadweep. However, as the court has rightly pointed out, there is nothing in use of the term that tended to create disaffection against the government or incite the people against it. It ought to have been clear to everyone except the administration, its police and the BJP functionary who complained against her speech that there was no malice or motive to subvert the government established by law. Of course, it is noteworthy that the police did not rush to arrest her, but only issued a notice to her to appear before the police to explain her remarks, indicating that there may not have been a threat of arrest.

Yet, the very institution of the case is questionable. It is disconcerting that courts are repeatedly called upon to reiterate that strong speech or writing against government policy is not enough to book someone for sedition, and that only incitement to violence or an inclination to cause public disorder amounts to such an offence. The court considered the political context in which the vehement criticism of the administration has come about. There is much debate about the administrative changes introduced by the Administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, since he assumed office last December. The context, indeed, was the criticism of the modified operating procedure, under which the mandatory provision for quarantining visitors to Lakshadweep was given up. Many attribute the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases to this modification. Another Bench of the High Court has stayed the administration’s order to close down dairy farms run by the Animal Husbandry Department and remove meat from the menu for school mid-day meals. When controversial orders are made, they do have a propensity to attract vehement protests and strident criticism. Unfortunately, the tendency to accuse critics and detractors of having a design to provoke disaffection against the government is spreading among authorities across the country. It is clear the problem lies in the continuance of questionable provisions such as the one on sedition on the statute book.

Why in News

As there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “Hate Speech” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws constituted by the Union Home Ministry to suggest reforms to the British-era IPC, is attempting for the first time to define such speech.

Key Points

  • Hate Speech:
    • In general, it refers to words whose intent is to create hatred towards a particular group, that group may be a community, religion or race.This speech may or may not have meaning, but is likely to result in violence.
    • The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as a language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).
    • In the 267th Report of the Law Commission of India, hate speech is stated as an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like.
    • In order to determine whether a particular instance of speech is a hate speech or not, the context of the speech plays an important role.
  • Major Reasons of Hate Speech:
    • Individuals believe in stereotypes that are ingrained in their minds and these stereotypes lead them to believe that a class or group of persons are inferior to them and as such cannot have the same rights as them.
    • The stubbornness to stick to a particular ideology without caring for the right to co-exist peacefully adds further fuel to the fire of hate speech.
  • Indian Penal Provisions Related to Hate Speech:
    • Under Indian Penal Code:
      • Sections 153A and 153B of the IPC: Punishes acts that cause enmity and hatred between two groups.
      • Section 295A of the IPC: Deals with punishing acts which deliberately or with malicious intention outrage the religious feelings of a class of persons.
      • Sections 505(1) and 505(2): Make the publication and circulation of content which may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offence.
    • Under Representation of People’s Act:
      • Section 8of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA): Prevents a person convicted of the illegal use of the freedom of speech from contesting an election.
      • Sections 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA: Bars the promotion of animosity on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in reference to elections and include it under corrupt electoral practices.
  • Suggestion for Changes in IPC:
    • Viswanathan Committee 2019:
      • It proposed inserting Sections 153 C (b) and Section 505 A in the IPC for incitement to commit an offence on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe.
      • It proposed punishment of up to two years along with Rs. 5,000 fine.
    • Bezbaruah Committee 2014:
      • It proposed amendment to Section 153 C IPC (promoting or attempting to promote acts prejudicial to human dignity), punishable by five years and fine or both and Section 509 A IPC (word, gesture or act intended to insult member of a particular race), punishable by three years or fine or both.

3.Nuclear-capable Agni-P missile test-fired

It has many advanced technologies and will strengthen our credible deterrence capabilities: Rajnath

A new-generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile, Agni-P (Prime) was successfully test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday.

“Agni-P is a new-generation advanced variant of Agni class of missiles. It is a canisterised missile with range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 km,” a DRDO statement said. The test was conducted at 10.55 a.m. from the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam island, Balasore, off the coast of Odisha.

High accuracy

Various telemetry and radar stations positioned along the eastern coast tracked and monitored the missile, the statement said. “The missile followed textbook trajectory, meeting all mission objectives with high level of accuracy.”

Congratulating the DRDO, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter: “Many advanced technologies including composites, propulsion systems, innovative guidance and control mechanisms and state-of-the-art navigation systems have been introduced. The Agni-P missile would further strengthen India’s credible deterrence capabilities.”

Explaining the differences from the earlier Agni class of missiles, a DRDO official said Agni-P had improved parameters, including manoeuvring and accuracy. “There is a complete technology upgrade in every way.”

Cuts launch time

Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile while improving its storage and mobility, one defence official explained.

The Agni class of missiles are the mainstay of India’s nuclear launch capability which also includes the Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and fighter aircraft.

The longest of the Agni series, Agni-V, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km, has already been tested several times and validated for induction.

In the past few years, India has also operationalised its submarine-based nuclear launch capability, completing the nuclear triad. This is especially important given India’s no-first-use policy while reserving the right of massive retaliation if struck with nuclear weapons first.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the DRDO, in January 2020, successfully test-fired a 3,500-km range submarine-launched ballistic missile, K-4, from a submerged pontoon off the Visakhapatnam coast.

Once inducted, these missiles will be the mainstay of the Arihant class of indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBN) and will give India the stand-off capability to launch nuclear weapons submerged in Indian waters.

INS Arihant, the only SSBN in service, is armed with K-15 missiles with a range of 750 km.

DRDO

  • DRDO works under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
  • It is working to establish world class science and technology base for India and provides our Defence Services decisive edge by equipping them with internationally competitive systems and solutions.
  • Dr G. Satheesh Reddy is the incumbent Chairman of DRDO.

Genesis & Growth

  • DRDO was established in 1958 after combining Technical Development Establishment (TDEs) of the Indian Army and the Directorate of Technical Development & Production (DTDP) with the Defence Science Organisation (DSO).
  • Starting with 10 laboratories, DRDO has now grown to a network of 52 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defence technologies covering various disciplines, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems and agriculture.
  • Presently, the Organisation is backed by over 5000 scientists and about 25,000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel.
  • Several major projects for the development of missiles, armaments, light combat aircrafts, radars, electronic warfare systems etc are on hand and significant achievements have already been made in several such technologies.

Mission     

  • Design, develop and lead to production state-of-the-art sensors, weapon systems, platforms and allied equipment for our Defence Services.
  • Provide technological solutions to the Services to optimise combat effectiveness and to promote well-being of the troops.
  • Develop infrastructure and committed quality manpower and build strong indigenous technology base.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)

  • IGMDP was brain child of renowned scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • It was intended to attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.
  • After keeping in mind the requirements of various types of missiles by the defense forces, the program recognized the need to develop five missile systems.
  • The IGMDP formally got the approval of Indian government on July 26, 1983.
  • It brought together the country’s scientific community, academic institutions, R&D laboratories, industries and the three defence services in giving shape to the strategic, indigenous missile systems.

The missiles developed under IGMDP are:

  1. Short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile – Prithvi
  2. Intermediate-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile – Agni
  3. Short-range low-level surface-to-air missile – Trishul
  4. Medium-range surface-to-air missile – Akash
  5. Third generation anti-tank missile – Nag

The Agni, which was initially conceived as a technology demonstrator project in the form of a re-entry vehicle, was later upgraded to a ballistic missile with different ranges. Dr. Kalam played a major role in the development and operationalisation of Agni and Prithvi missiles.

After achieving the goal of making India self-reliant in missile technology, DRDO on January 8, 2008, formally announced successful completion of IGMDP.

Missile System of India
MissileFeatures
Agni ISingle stage, solid fuel, Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM).Using solid propulsion booster and a liquid propulsion upper stage.Range of 700-800 km.
Agni IIIntermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).Range more than 2000 km.
Agni IIITwo stage IRBMSupport a wide range of warhead configurations.Strike range of more than 2,500 Km
Agni IVTwo stage missile powered by solid propellant.Can fire from a road mobile launcher.Range is more than 3,500 km.Equipped with indigenously developed ring laser gyro and composite rocket motor.
Agni VThree-stage solid fueled, indigenous Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).Capable of carrying 1.5 tonnes of nuclear warheads.Latest and most advanced variant in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.After induction in the military, India will join an exclusive club of countries like the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain which have intercontinental ballistic missile capability.Canister launches missile system for operational flexibility.Range is more than 5,000 km.
TrishulShort-range, quick reaction, all weather surface-to-air missile designed to counter a low level attack.Has necessary electronic counter-measures against all known aircraft jammers.
AkashMedium-range, surface-to-air missile with multi-target engagement capability.Multiple warheads capable.High-energy solid propellant and ram-rocket propulsion system.
NagThird generation ‘fire-and-forget’ anti-tank missile with a range of 4-8km.Developed indigenously as an anti-armour weapon employing sensor fusion technologies for flight guidance.HELINA (Helicopter Launched NAG) is the air-to-surface version of the NAG integrated into Dhruv Helicopters.
PrithviFirst indigenously built ballistic missile under IGMDP.Surface-to-surface battle field missile.Demonstrates higher lethal effects and high level capability with field interchangeable warheads.Range from 150 km to 300 km.
BrahMosSupersonic cruise missile.Being developed with Russia as a private joint-venture.Multi-platform cruise can strike from various types of platforms.Among the world fastest supersonic cruise missiles with speeds ranging between Mach 2.5 – 2.8.A ‘fire and forget’ weapon i.e. requiring no further guidance from the control centre once the target has been assigned.
NirbhaySubsonic missile, supplement to the BrahMos.Capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air.A terrain hugging, stealth missile capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads depending on mission requirements.Can reach up to 1,000 km.
SagarikaSubmarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)Being integrated with India’s nuclear powered Arihant-class submarine.Range – 700 km.
ShauryaA variant of the K-15 Sagarika.Submarine- nuclear-capable missile.Aims to enhance India’s second-strike capability.
DhanushSea-based, short-range, liquid propellant ballistic missile.Naval version of Prithvi II.Maximum range 350 km.
AstraBeyond-visual-range air-to-air missile using a solid-propellant.In terms of size and weight, one of the smallest weapon developed by the DRDO.Active radar seeker to find targets.Electronic counter-measure capabilities.Designed to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in the head-on mode at a range of 80 km.
PrahaarIndia’s latest surface-to-surface missile with a range of 150 km.Primary objective is to bridge the gap between the unguided Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher and the guided Prithvi missile variants.Have high maneuverability, acceleration and accuracy.

Issues with DRDO

  • The Standing Committee on Defence during 2016-17, expressed concerns over the inadequate budgetary support for the on going projects of DRDO.
  • The committee notes that out of total defence budget, the share of DRDO was 5.79 per cent in 2011-12, which reduced to 5.34 per cent in 2013-14.
  • Government’s lethargic revenue commitments towards DRDO have put major projects involving futuristic technology on hold.
  • The DRDO also suffers from inadequate manpower in critical areas to the lack of proper synergy with the armed forces.
  • Cost escalation and long delays have damaged the reputation of DRDO.
  • Even after 60 years of DRDO formation, India still imports a large share of its defence equipments. In the period 2013-17, India is the world’s largest importer of defence equipment, accounting for 12% of the global total, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
  • DRDO’s list of successes is short- primarily the Agni and Prithvi missiles. Its list of failures is much longer. The Kaveri Engine is running late by 16 years and the cost has escalated by around 800 per cent.
  • DRDO is big on promise and small on delivery. There is no accountability. Nobody is taken to task for time and cost overruns.
  • In 2011, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) put a serious question mark on DRDO’s capabilities. “The organisation, which has a history of its projects suffering endemic time and cost overruns, needs to sanction projects and decide on a probable date of completion on the basis of a conservative assessment of technology available and a realistic costing system,” its report stated.
  • The CAG report also revealed that not all technologies developed by DRDO were suitable for use by the armed forces. The three services have rejected 70 per cent of the products developed at the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, in the last 15 years costing Rs 320 crore because the products did not meet their standard and requirement.
  • The technology development agency is also largely responsible for the fact highlighted by General V.K. Singh that 97 per cent of the army’s air defence is obsolete.
  • DRDO is just tinkering with World War II equipment instead of working on cutting-edge technology.
  • Even if systems are acquired from abroad and DRDO is meant to service them, if it fails. This leaves critical gaps in national defence.

4.Ukraine, U.S. launch Black Sea drills

The exercise comes days after Russia-U.K. row over warship in disputed waters

Ukraine and the United States launched joint naval exercises in the Black Sea on Monday in a show of Western cooperation with Kiev as it faces off with Russia.

The drills come just days after the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender passed near Russian-annexed Crimea in the Black Sea, with Moscow saying it fired warning shots at the destroyer to ward it off.

The Sea Breeze drills — which have taken place 21 times since 1997 — will involve some 5,000 military personnel from more than 30 countries.

The exercises will last two weeks and involve around 30 ships, including the missile destroyer USS Ross.

Ukrainian Navy Commander Oleksiy Neizhpapa said during an opening ceremony in Odessa that the exercises would send a “powerful message to maintain stability and peace in our region.”

Russia said it fired warning shots last Wednesday at the HMS Defender after what it said was a violation of its territorial waters.

Britain said it was making “an innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.”

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and claims the waters around the peninsula as part of its territory. Most countries do not recognise the takeover and stand behind Ukraine’s claims to the waters.

Washington is a key ally of Kiev in its conflict with Moscow over Crimea and pro-Moscow separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

In 2018 Russian forces boarded and took control of three Ukrainian Naval ships off the Black Sea peninsula.

Why in News

In a recent event, Russia alleged that the British warship had breached its territorial waters in Black Sea which Britain and most of the world say belong to Ukraine.

  • Russia seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and considers areas around its coast to be Russian waters.

Key Points

  • Geographical Location of Black Sea:
    • The Black Sea, also known as the Euxine Sea, is one of the major water bodies and a famous inland sea of the world.
    • This marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, located between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
    • It is surrounded by the Pontic, Caucasus, and Crimean Mountains in the south, east and north respectively.
    • The Turkish straits system – the Dardanelles, Bosporus and Marmara Sea – forms a transitional zone between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
    • The Black Sea is also connected to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.
    • The bordering countries of Black Sea are: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.
  • Anoxic Water:
    • There is a significant absence of oxygen in the water.
    • The Black Sea happens to be the largest water body with a meromictic basin, which means the movement of water between the lower and upper layers of the sea is a rare phenomenon to find anywhere in the world.
    • The anoxic condition is also caused due to the presence of the process of Eutrophication in the sea.

Anoxic Waters

  • Anoxic waters are areas of sea water, fresh water, or groundwater that are depleted of dissolved oxygen and are a more severe condition of hypoxia.
  • This condition is generally found in areas that have restricted water exchange.
  • International Rules of Passage through Sea:
    • Under international law of the sea (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982), innocent passage permits a vessel to pass through another state’s territorial waters so long as this does not affect its security.
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