Daily Current Affairs 31.10.2022 (Why was the Miya Museum sealed?, Are there anti-superstition laws in India?, Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse buffers as Meta shares burn, The extra-constitutional delusions of Raj Bhavan, A check over of the U.S.’s much anticipated NSS, United against terror)

Daily Current Affairs 31.10.2022 (Why was the Miya Museum sealed?, Are there anti-superstition laws in India?, Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse buffers as Meta shares burn, The extra-constitutional delusions of Raj Bhavan, A check over of the U.S.’s much anticipated NSS, United against terror)


1. Why was the Miya Museum sealed?

How has a museum established by the Bengali-speaking or Bengal-origin Muslims in Assam generated controversy? Why did the BJP ask for its immediate shutdown? Is there a rift between Assamese Muslims and Bengal-origin Muslims?

The inauguration of a museum showcasing the culture of Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam was sealed on October 25 after it sparked controversy.

The Bengal-origin Muslim community began promoting ‘Miya’ culture as a counter-campaign against the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam. A section of the indigenous communities found this objectionable. The BJP has allegedly been pitting Assamese Muslims, considered indigenous, against the Bengali-speaking Muslims.

Some legislators and former MLAs of the BJP interpreted the museum as a cultural aggression. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the museum was a bid to appropriate Assamese culture.

Rahul Karmakar

The story so far:

The inauguration of a museum showcasing the culture of Bengali-speaking or Bengal-origin Muslims in Assam was sealed on October 25 after it sparked controversy. Officials said that the action was taken as a house allotted under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana-Gramin scheme was converted into a museum in violation of the rules. Leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party say it was opened to appropriate Assamese culture and intimidate indigenous communities.

What happened?

A private centre showcasing the culture and heritage of Bengal-origin or Bengali-speaking Muslims was inaugurated primarily by members of the All Assam Miya Parishad at Dapkarbhita in the Lakhipur circle of Goalpara district on October 23. They named it the Miya Museum. The Parishad had on October 17 intimated the district head about the opening of the museum. Some legislators and former MLAs of the BJP interpreted the museum as a cultural aggression and asked the government to pull it down. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the museum was a bid to appropriate Assamese culture and asked the local authorities to take necessary action. The local authorities sealed the museum after BJP’s minority morcha leader, Abdur Rahim Gibran filed a complaint against it. According to an official notice, the museum was sealed because Mohar Ali, the chairperson of the Parishad, had established the museum, in violation of the rules, at his house allotted in 2018 under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana-Gramin.

Why was there controversy?

The genesis of the controversy lies in the politics of polarisation in Assam fuelled by the fear of a demographic invasion by the so-called “illegal immigrants” or “Bangladeshis”. Although a respectable form of address across the Hindi and Urdu-speaking belts, ‘Miya’ is used pejoratively against the Bengali-speaking Muslims and also to sift them from the Assamese Muslims who the BJP have been wooing. The migrant Muslims form the bulk of Assam’s Muslims accounting for more than 34% of the State’s 3.3 crore people. The BJP has allegedly been pitting Assamese Muslims, considered ‘khilonjia’ (indigenous), against the Bengali-speaking Muslims and had in July approved the awarding of special status to five groups of indigenous Muslims. This is in line with the BJP’s vow to protect the ‘bhumiputras’ (sons of the soil) from illegal immigrants. The museum was thus seen as a bid to assert the ‘Miya’ identity and by default, intimidation to the current dispensation.

Has this happened before?

The Bengal-origin Muslim community began promoting ‘Miya’ culture as a counter-campaign against the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens in Assam. This found expression in Miya literature underlining the plight of migrant Muslims. A section of the indigenous communities found this objectionable.

The issue was stoked before when suspended Congress MLA, Sherman Ali Ahmed sought a Miya Museum in the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, that showcases the cultural heritage of various ethnic groups of Assam. Mr. Sarma, then a Minister in the Sarbananda Sonowal government, said that he would not allow such a museum to be set up. Ironically, Mr. Ahmed had cited the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Art and Culture (which comprised 16 members of which six were BJP legislators) presented to the 126-member Assembly on March 24, 2020. The committee had proposed a museum in the Kalakshetra “reflecting the culture and heritage of the people living in the char-chaporis (sandbars or river islands) of Assam”. Most char-chaporis are inhabited by the so-called Miyas.

How have other groups reacted?

While distancing itself from the museum, MLA and general secretary of the minority-based All India United Democratic Front, Aminul Islam said that it was the humiliation faced by the community that may have led to the museum. However, the All Assam Minority Students’ Union saw the museum as a bid to polarise ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. “This was a pre-planned drama to stoke sentiments on both sides of the religious divide. There is no such thing as a Miya community and most of the people behind the museum are not migrant Muslims. Ali, who set up the museum at his house, is a Julha and Rafiqul Islam of Bagh Sena, an associate body of Miya Parishad, is a Deshi. So, there you are,” said Rejaul Karim Sarkar, the Union’s leader. Julha and Deshi are two of the five sub-groups of Assamese Muslims that the BJP government has decided to recognise.

2. Are there anti-superstition laws in India?

Are killings and deaths due to superstitious beliefs, black magic and sorcery still prevalent in the country? Is there a pan-India law which deals exclusively with such occult-inspired activities?

Chilling details of the killings of two women in Kerala have sparked a debate about the prevalence and power of superstitious beliefs in society.

As per the 2021 report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), six deaths were linked to human sacrifices, while witchcraft was the motive for 68 killings in the country.

In the absence of a nationwide legislation, a few States have enacted laws to counter witchcraft and protect women from deadly ‘witch-hunting’.


The story so far:

The brutal murders of two women as part of “ritualistic human sacrifices” in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala have left the country in shock. Chilling details of the killings have sparked a debate about the prevalence of superstitious beliefs, black magic and sorcery in Kerala. In the absence of a comprehensive law to counter such acts, the call for a strict anti-superstition law has grown louder.

Are such killings common?

As per the 2021 report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), six deaths were linked to human sacrifices, while witchcraft was the motive for 68 killings. The maximum number of witchcraft cases were reported from Chhattisgarh (20), followed by Madhya Pradesh (18) and Telangana (11). Kerala saw two cases of human sacrifice. In 2020, India saw 88 deaths due to witchcraft and 11 died as part of ‘human sacrifices’, the NCRB report states.

What are the laws in India?

In India, there is no central law that exclusively deals with crimes related to witchcraft, superstition, or occult-inspired activities. In the absence of a nationwide legislation, a few States have enacted laws to counter witchcraft and protect women from deadly ‘witch-hunting’.

Bihar was the first State to enact a law to prevent witchcraft, identification of a woman as a witch and“eliminate torture, humiliation and killing of women.” The Prevention of Witch (Daain) Practices Act came into force in October 1999. Anyone who identifies a person as a “witch” and acts to aid this identification can face a jail term of up to three months, or a fine of ₹1,000, or both. A similar law was passed in Jharkhand in 2001 — the Prevention of Witch (Daain) Practices Act.

Even though Chhattisgarh is one of the worst-affected States in terms of witchcraft-related crimes, the State enacted the Chhattisgarh Tonahi (witch) Pratadna Nivaran Act only in 2005. As per the law, a person convicted for identifying someone as a witch can be sentenced to up to three years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine.

Following the directions of the Odisha High Court to frame a law to deal with rising cases of witch-hunting in the State, the Odisha Prevention of Witch-Hunting Bill was passed by the Assembly in 2013. The bill provides penalties for a witch doctor, or a person claiming to be a black magician.

In Maharashtra, the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013 was passed after the murder of anti-superstition activist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. Rajasthan enacted the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act in 2015 to “provide for effective measures to tackle the menace of witch-hunting and prevent the practice of witchcraft.”

The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015, which received the President’s assent in 2018, prohibits witch hunting completely. “No person shall identify, call, stigmatise, defame or accuse any other person as witch by words, or by signs or indications or by conducts or actions or any other manner or instigate, aid or abet such an act or commit witch hunting,” the law states.

The latest law was passed in Karnataka where the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017 came into effect in January 2020 after it was notified by the BJP government— which initially opposed it when it was the Opposition party. The law bans several practices related to black magic and superstition, like forcing a person to walk on fire at religious festivals and the practice of piercing rods from one side of the jaw to the other.

3. Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse buffers as Meta shares burn

The real challenge with Zuckerberg’s idea of the metaverse, which is to stitch together disparate digital worlds into one single tapestry, is that it still remains a niche offering, unlike his foray into social media which was a problem waiting to be solved

The early 90s ushered in the Internet era which enabled people to access content remotely from the world wide web. In the initial days, to do so, they had to set up a dial-up connection. The network used to take a few minutes to load before a local computer could access a public switch telephone network. Once a connection was established, people could browse ‘the net’ and access largely text-based content. Loading a web page with a dial-up connection would take a while. At times, you could make a cup of tea and return to your computer monitor, and the page might still be only half-way ready. The process of loading the webpage to show content is called ‘buffering’. It simply meant that the to-be-displayed data is being pre-loaded in a certain area of the computer’s memory. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse adventure is in some ways similar to the roughly three-decades old dial-up modem. His version of the metaverse seems to be currently buffering.

Manufacturing virtual reality

About a year ago, in an effort to push away the spotlight from whistle-blower Frances Haugen and her allegations on how Facebook contributed to harms ranging from misinformation on the platform to impacting teenagers’ mental health, the social media firm said it was moving on to the next big thing in tech: metaverse. The company’s plan was to stitch together disparate digital worlds into one single tapestry. In fact, Facebook was already making investments in virtual reality (VR) as early as 2014, long before the company got involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. With the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus, the social media company was gearing up to become the world leader in immersive VR tech. At that point, Oculus had already built strong interest among developers and had received over 75,000 orders for development kits of its Oculus Rift headsets. These headsets were however, largely used for VR-specific gaming.

Expensive transition

Zuckerberg’s vision of a metaverse was far grander and partly stemmed from Neal Stephenson’s three-decade old novel Snow Crash in which the protagonist goes back and forth between dystopian Los Angeles and a digital world. To make that vision a reality, the company has been doubling down on investments in VR. According to estimates by Bloomberg Intelligence, the metaverse could be an $800 billion opportunity by the end of 2024. But the cost of transition for Facebook was high, as it blew $10 billion in its Reality Labs division to build the business of the metaverse. In January, for the first time when Meta revealed the numbers for its hardware division, which includes the Oculus VR headsets, it showed a drop in quarterly profits by as much as 8% in the three months ending in December, compared to a year earlier.

At that point, the company was also buffeted by a change in Apple’s iOS software that made it hard for Facebook to sell targeted ads. The high cost of switching to the metaverse and the effect of the iPhone maker’s software changes made the transition difficult for the social media company. Investors were not happy as stocks tumbled nearly to a fifth during after-hours trading. The company’s shares have been down since then. In June, Zuckerberg briefly spoke about challenges in building a VR headset as it required addressing retinal projection, depth perception and high dynamic range (HDR) imaging. He moved on to note that Meta would ‘soon’ roll out a headset capable of projecting holographic images. Three months later, on October 11, he unveiled a $1,500 VR headset that was nowhere close to his idea of a virtual world seeing gadget. About the expensive goggles, a New York Times reviewer wrote, “Yes, the best [VR headset] is already here, and has been for quite some time.” And its use case continues to be confined to gaming.

A solution waiting for a problem

Meta investors are unhappy as they see the company’s boss diving deeper and deeper into the metaverse without a clear path for return on investments. This has already sent the stock down by over 60% this year. The company’s market value has collapsed by a whopping $676 billion, removing it from the ranks of the 20 largest U.S. companies, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The real challenge with Zuckerberg’s idea of the metaverse is that it still remains a niche offering, unlike his foray into social media, which was a problem waiting to be solved. When he built the social network from his Harvard dorm room, it was the product for a time when people wanted to find newer ways to stay connected as they travelled farther away from each other. With the metaverse, it feels like a solution looking for a problem. In a parallel to the dial-up modem days, the metaverse is buffering, and it is unclear in what shape or size the page will load.

4. Editorial-1: The extra-constitutional delusions of Raj Bhavan

A tweet put out recently by the office of the Kerala Governor evoked nationwide attention for all the wrong reasons. It said: “… the statements of individual Ministers that lower the dignity of the office of the Governor can invite action including withdrawal of pleasure”. Raj Bhavan did not explicitly say that such Ministers would be expelled. But, going by the text of Article 164(1) of the Constitution — that the “Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor” — the indication was clear. This was made even more apparent when the Governor sent a letter to the Kerala Chief Minister asking him to act against the State Finance Minister, who, according to the Governor, had “ceased to enjoy” the Governor’s “pleasure”. The Chief Minister declined to do so.

There are political, constitutional facets

This unprecedented and curious gubernatorial gesture has political and constitutional facets. The Governor’s other move, in the meantime, for ousting Vice-Chancellors of universities in the State, alleging deficits in their appointment process, is purported to be in exercise of his statutory power as Chancellor. As against the Ministers, he has no such special power. He can only act within the bounds of the Constitution.

The function of the appointed Governor is always subject to the policies of the elected government, and not vice-versa. This is a foundational theory of India’s constitutional democracy. Constitutional provisions cannot be read in isolation. Article 163(1) says that the Council of Ministers must aid and advise the Governor. However, according to Article 163(2), the Governor can act in his discretion in certain matters as permitted by the Constitution. This would mean that the Governor is generally bound by the Cabinet decision except when he has a legitimate right to invoke his discretion, say, for example, in deciding on sanction to prosecute a Cabinet Minister or in his decisions as Administrator of a Union Territory, as per the orders of the President of India, etc. Article 164, which contains the provision relevant in the context of the Kerala Governor’s tweet and letter is inseparable from Article 163. Therefore, it follows that unless the Cabinet or the Chief Minister advises the expulsion of a Minister, the Governor cannot cause the exit of a particular Minister by “withdrawing pleasure”.

The jurist H.M. Seervai gave an explanation about the spirit of Article 163, which, in a way, is a prologue to Article 164(1) dealing with “pleasure”. He said, “if Governors have discretion in all matters under Article 163(1), it would be unnecessary to confer on Governors an express power to act in their discretion in a few specified matters (by way of Article 163(2))” (Constitutional Law of India, Vol.2, Universal, 1993, page 2,037).

One finds a democratic reading of Article 164 in the Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974). In Shamsher Singh, for the purpose of comparison, the Supreme Court extracted Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s introductory statement made on November 4, 1948 in the Constituent Assembly, which said: “The President of the United States is not bound to accept any advice tendered to him by any of his secretaries. The President of the Indian Union will be generally bound by the advice of his Ministers. He can do nothing contrary to their advice nor can he do anything without their advice. The President of the United States can dismiss any Secretary at any time. The President of the Indian Union has no power to do so, so long as his Ministers command a majority in Parliament”.

The same principles apply to the Governors as well, since the Union Minister also holds the office “during the pleasure of the President” as in Article 75(2) of the Constitution. “Withdrawal of pleasure”, without advice from the Council of Ministers, as indicated by Raj Bhavan is a misconception.

A titular head

Understanding the constitutional meaning of Article 164(1), which is different from its literal meaning, requires a historical reading of the provision. The draft Constitution, prepared by the Constitutional Adviser in October 1947, contained Article 126, according to which, “Governor’s Ministers shall be chosen and summoned by (the Governor) and shall hold office during his pleasure”. This Article, which was made part of the draft of the erstwhile Article 144, was discussed at length in the Constituent Assembly. The general discretion with the Governor was taken away, and the Cabinet was given the authority to rule. Amendment to the draft Article 144 moved by B.R. Ambedkar resulted in the present constitutional scheme of Articles 163 and 164.

Referring to the speech of Ambedkar, scholar Subhash C. Kashyap has put it pithily, “The words ‘during pleasure’ were, always understood to mean that the ‘pleasure’ should not continue when the Ministry had lost the confidence of the majority; and the moment the Ministry lost the confidence of the majority, the Governor would use his ‘pleasure’ in dismissing it” (Constitutional Law of India, Vol. 2., Universal, 2015, page 1,249). Therefore, the Article implies that the Governor is only a titular head of the State and that if the Cabinet has majority, the Governor cannot act against the Cabinet.

Addressing a concern

The Governor’s office has a colonial origin. The Government of India Act, 1858 situated the post of Governor under the supervision of the Governor General. The subsequently promulgated Government of India Act, 1935 was enforced with effect from April 1, 1937. Even as per this act, Governors were to act based on the advice of the provincial Government.

The potential danger that could be posed by continuation of the colonial institution was a matter of concern for the makers of the Constitution. During the deliberations, H.V. Kamath asked if there was any guarantee against abuse of power by the Governor. The immediate reaction by P.S. Deshmukh, another prominent member was: “the guarantee…. is the Governor’s wisdom and the wisdom of the authority that will appoint the Governor” (Constituent Assembly Debates, June 2, 1949).

But this romanticism of the Constitution was to be translated to a level of judicial realism and pragmatism, which the Supreme Court did in Shamsher Singh. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, in that judgment, and in his characteristic style, has given the best possible response to the extra-constitutional delusions of the Raj Bhavans: “The omnipotence of the President and of the Governor at State level is…. with the obvious intent that even where express conferment of power or functions is written into the Articles, such business has to be disposed of decisively by the Ministry answerable to the Legislature and, through it, vicariously to the people, thus vindicating our democracy instead of surrendering it to a single summit soul, whose deification is incompatible with the basics of our political architecture….”

So, the Constitution Bench has to prevail over the Governor’s tweet and letter.

5. Editorial-2: A check over of the U.S.’s much anticipated NSS

The United States has launched its much anticipated National Security Strategy (NSS). All U.S. Presidents are mandated by the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 to bring out their NSS, to communicate the executive’s vision of national security to the legislative. As a comprehensive document, the NSS reflects certainty about how the government of the day views the national security agenda. Alternatively, the NSS also gives the Congress an opportunity to assess the cost that the country will have to bear and the areas of investments to achieve the nation’s security goals.

Focus on leadership and alliances

The Biden administration’s NSS primarily focuses on the current decade as a ‘decisive’ one in which the U.S. seeks to sustain U.S. leadership, improve the U.S. economy, build on a vast network of alliances and partnerships; counter China as its strategic competitor and Russia as a disruptor, and boost U.S. competitiveness and defend democracy. The document portrays the ambitious agenda of the Biden administration to cover a comprehensive set of transnational challenges tying the domestic with the international. These include climate change, food insecurity, pandemics, terrorism, energy shortages and inflation. Besides, the administration’s NSS has considerable focus on outer space security and governance.

The NSS lays down three main fulcrums of U.S. strategy going forward: invest; build and modernise. It seeks to invest in the “tools of American power and influence” by strengthening the economy at home, improving critical infrastructure and investing in technologies such as microchips and semiconductors. Consistent with this approach, effective October 12, the Biden administration has imposed a slew of sanctions impacting the U.S. sale of semiconductors to China as well as the ability of U.S. citizens and residents to work in chip companies in China. Furthermore, the NSS seeks to build ‘the strongest possible coalition of nations’ — a recognition of both the U.S.’s ambitions as well as limitations in driving global geopolitics unilaterally. Finally, the modernisation sought by the U.S. is intended to cater to the wide-ranging demands of internal and external security, simultaneously. These capability enhancements underscore the recognition by the U.S. of the unprecedented scale and scope of strategic competition with China. It names China as the ‘only competitor’ with the capability and intent to shape the international order in a fundamental way.

Outcompeting China, restraining Russia

The NSS takes both a long-term and an immediate view of the China threat and the challenges emerging from Beijing. While it seeks to outline a joint strategy to tackle external challenges for the U.S. by out-competing China and constraining Russia, it is asymmetrically tilted in its focus on threats from China despite an active war in which Russia is involved. The Biden administration places competition with China at the centre of its decadal outlook, which is increasingly global in character and most pronounced in the Indo-Pacific region across a range of domains such as the economy, technology, development, security, global governance and diplomacy. The NSS is clear about the opposition to any unilateral change to Taiwan’s status by China, portending a contested Indo-Pacific region between China on one hand and a host of democratic partners on the other. Therefore, forging collective capacity through international partnerships and creating new alliances for tackling shared challenges lie at the heart of the NSS. This also forms an essential strategy for the U.S. to synchronously compete with China, constrain Russia, tackle non-traditional threats and transnational challenges such as climate change, communicable diseases, food security and inflation. The NSS makes a serious case for downgraded Russian economy, military, soft power and influence globally, even as it identifies countries such as Japan and India to fill the emerging gaps. One such process at which the NSS hints is India’s possible integration in important global forums such as the G7. Here, some of the expectations in the NSS reflect the U.S. interests purely and may not be entirely in sync with those of its other Indo-Pacific partners.

India as partner

The Biden administration’s NSS identifies India as both a bilateral and multilateral partner in the Indo-Pacific, but, more importantly, its status as the largest democracy and a major defence partner. As India looks to diversify and indigenise its defence needs in the medium and long term, the NSS lays out the space for partnership between India and the U.S. India’s partnership in the Indo-Pacific has been assessed as critical in building a “latticework of strong, resilient and mutually reinforcing relationships” through regional partnerships such as the Quad (India, Australia, Japan the U.S.) and the I2U2 (India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S).

Mr. Biden’s NSS serves three broad purposes. It completes the strategic vision embarked upon by the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance released in March 2021; it seeks to provide further clarity and direction on various policy verticals by the Biden administration; and, finally, it marks an end to one of the most important political expectations about presidential doctrines in the U.S. The NSS comes just before the mid-term elections in November this year and could prove useful in amassing political support for President Biden and the Democratic Party by way of policy clarity.

A critical part of the NSS is to inform the U.S. Department of Defense’s strategy, especially in the two areas of the country’s nuclear posture and missile defence. As such, the NSS’s release — delayed by the Russia-Ukraine war — appears to be a timely assessment in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war with one of the most potent possibilities for the use of a nuclear weapon since the Cuban Missile crisis (1962). The Biden administration also released the National Defense Strategy, the Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review last week further reinforcing the central message of the NSS, thereby aligning the nation’s ends, ways and means and rounding off the arc of the national security assessment.

6. Editorial-3: United against terror

India must continue to persuade others that terrorism is a threat to humanity 

India’s decision to host the United Nations Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) is an important marker of the Government’s ongoing effort to highlight terrorism issues at a time the global body has been more focused on the Ukraine war. Held in Mumbai and Delhi, it brought UN officials, and ministers and diplomats from all members of the Security Council (UNSC), to discuss challenges to the global counter-terrorism architecture. In Mumbai, the spotlight was on the 26/11 attacks. Despite the global nature of the terror targets, India has had an uphill battle since 2008 in international cooperation to pursue the case, and in bringing the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, through a full trial and execution. After a brief period of information sharing, Pakistan has dragged its feet on prosecuting even LeT commanders Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and others that its Federal Investigative Agency held responsible for the attacks. During the UNSC conference, the attendees heard not only from victims of the attacks but also voice samples of LeT recruiter Sajid Mir directing terrorists during the attacks; even so Mir, now in a Pakistani prison on terror financing charges, after Pakistan’s grey-listing at the Financial Action Task Force mandated action, has not been tried. The U.S., which has cooperated in many other ways with India on terrorism, convicted conspirators David Headley and Tahawwur Rana for the attacks, but has refused to extradite them. Meanwhile, China continues to block designating LeT leaders on the UNSC 1267 terror list, a problem External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken specifically mentioned at the conference.

In Delhi, the CTC focus was on online radicalisation and terror recruitment, terror financing through crypto-currency and virtual assets, and unmanned aerial system use including drones for terror strikes, transporting drugs and arms. The deliberations led to the “Delhi Declaration on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes”. While India has only two months left in its current elected tenure at the UNSC, the Government appears to be making efforts to keep up the momentum from the CTC meet; it will host an international “No Money For Terror” conference (November 18-19), and a UNSC special briefing on challenges to global counter-terrorism efforts (December 15-16). As the Indian experience with 26/11 has shown, the global community has often been long on statements but short on cooperative action, and New Delhi will have to keep pressing the point that terrorism remains, in Mr. Jaishankar’s words, amongst the “gravest threats to humanity”.

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