ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERSACT OF 1958
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) was adopted by the Indian Parliament 45 years ago as an emergency measure granting special powers to the Indian Armed Forces for use in an area that has been declared ‘disturbed.’ The ASPA was first applied to the Seven Sister States of North East India, including Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, on 1 September, 1958, to stop the North Eastern States seceding from the Indian Union. Later Punjab and Chandigarh also came within the purview of this act, which was later withdrawn in 1997. AFSPA was applied to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1990 and has been in force since.
WHEN IS AN AREA DEEMED ‘DISTURBED’
The State or Central Government has the right to pronounce an area ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”.
THE FEATURES OF AFSPA
The State or the Central Government have the power to demarcate an area in the Indian Union as ‘disturbed’. But under Section (3) of the Act, the opinion of the State Government as to whether or not an area is ‘disturbed’ can be overruled by the governor or the centre.
Section (3) of the AFSPA Act empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification on The Gazette of India, following which the centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
POWERS OF AFSPA
According to AFSPA, an officer of the armed forces has the following powers in an area which has been deemed as ‘disturbed’:
After a warning, he can use any kind of force including fire-power, even if it results in the death of the individual breaking the law or causing any kind of disturbance which is jeopardising public order.
The power to destroy the fortified positions, hide-outs and dumps of persons deemed to be armed volunteers or armed gangs and wanted for an offence.
The right to arrest without warrant any person who is suspected of having committed a cognizable offence. Any kind of force may be used if needed during the arrest.
The authority to enter and search the premises, without a warrant, in order to make arrests, recover any person wrongfully restrained, or to recover any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
The right to stop and search a vehicle or a vessel suspected to be carrying weapons or a person deemed to have broken the law.
A person taken into custody has to be presented to the officer in charge at the nearest police station at the earliest with a due account of the circumstances leading to the arrest.
Army officers have legal immunity for their actions.
The army officer has the power to protect persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings. Only the Central Government can otherwise intervene.
STATES UNDER AFSPA
In May, 2015, after an exhaustive review of the law and order situation in Tripura, the AFSPA was finally removed from
this state after 18 long years. The following states still fall under the purview of AFSPA:
Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area)
Arunachal Pradesh (only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam)
Meghalaya (confined to a 20-km belt bordering Assam)
Jammu and Kashmir.
ARGUMENTS IN THE FAVOUR OF AFSPA;
1. On the basis of the power given to the armed forces, they are able to protect the boundaries of the country.
2. In the absence of strict law, the armed forces will not be able to tackle the insurgent inside the country esp. in the Kashmir
and North eastern region of the country.
3. The powers given in the ASFPA boost the moral of the armed forces to ensure the rule of law in the disturbed areas of the country.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE AFSPA
1. There are so many examples when the oppressive powers given to the armed forces have been misused.
2. The armed forces are conducting fake encounters and sexually exploiting the women in the disturbed areas.
3. AFSPA,violates human rights.
4. Some critics compared ASFPA with the Rowlatt act of the British time because like the Rowlatt Act, any suspicious person can be arrested on the basis of doubt in the ASFPA also.
As on January,2019; AFSPA is operational in entire States of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (except Imphal
Municipal area), three districts namely Changlang, Tirap and Longding of Arunachal Pradesh and the areas
falling within the jurisdiction of the eight police stations in the districts of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering the State of
Critics of the AFSPA law argue that there is no need to run the country on the basis of bullet while the matter should
be resolved on the basis of the ballet.
ASFPA could not achieve its desired goals even after 60 years of its implementation. So the state government of
the disturbed area along with the central government should find out an alternative to of this law and come out with flying colours.
HYDERABAD-BASED ROCKET MEN AIM FOR THE STARS
They test-fred India’s frst privately built cryogenic engine
When Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace successfully test-fred Dhawan-1 last month, it became the country’s frst
privately developed, fully cryogenic rocket engine running on two high performance rocket propellants liquid natural gas
(LNG) and liquid oxygen (LoX). The engine was developed using 3D printing with a superalloy. That has set the frm on a
higher trajectory with an ambitious plan to launch the frst private space launch vehicle using cryogenic engine Vikram-2 into
orbit in two years. Before that, the two co-founders — C. Pawan Kumar (IIT-Kharagpur, 2012 batch) and Naga Bharath D.
(IIT-Madras, 2012 batch) — plan to put their frst launch vehicle, 20-metre Vikram-1, based on solid propulsion engine, in
space. This was after successfully designing and developing the solid propulsion rocket engine, the frst private frm in the
country to do so. “We are space enthusiasts wanting to become entrepreneurs and to capture emerging opportunities in the
The world over, the private sector is driving innovations at a low cost. There was no regulatory framework when we began
three years ago, but we are on the verge of taking of now testing multiple engines. Very few countries have developed a
cryogenic engine,” said Mr. Pawan Kumar
CRYOGENIC ROCKET ENGINE
A cryogenic rocket engine is a rocket engine that uses a cryogenic fuel and oxidizer, that is, both its fuel and oxidizer are
gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures. These highly efficient engines were first flown on the US AtlasCentaur and were one of the main factors of NASA’s success in reaching the Moon by the Saturn V rocket.
United States, Russia, Japan, India, France and China are the only countries that have operational cryogenic rocket engines.
Rocket engines need high mass flow rates of both oxidizer and fuel to generate useful thrust. Oxygen, the simplest and most common oxidizer, is in the gas phase at standard temperature and pressure, as is hydrogen, the simplest fuel. While it is possible to store propellants as pressurized gases, this would require large, heavy tanks that would make achieving orbital spaceflight difficult if not impossible. On the other hand, if the propellants are cooled sufficiently, they exist in the liquid phase at higher density and lower pressure, simplifying tankage. These cryogenic temperatures vary depending on the propellant, with liquid oxygen existing below −183 °C (−297.4 °F; 90.1 K) and liquid hydrogen below −253 °C (−423.4 °F; 6 | P a g e 20.1 K). Since one or more of the propellants is in the liquid phase, all cryogenic rocket engines are by definition either liquidpropellant rocket engines or hybrid rocket engines.
Various cryogenic fuel-oxidizer combinations have been tried, but the combination of liquid hydrogen (LH2) fuel and the liquid oxygen (LOX) oxidizer is one of the most widely used. Both components are easily and cheaply available, and when burned have one of the highest enthalpy releases in combustion, producing a specific impulse of up to 450 s at an effective exhaust velocity of 4.4 kilometres per second (2.7 mi/s; Mach 13).
JUDICIAL INFRASTRUCTURE, A NEGLECTED CASE
Chief Justice Ramana suggests one central agency, with a degree of autonomy, for overseeing infrastructure development of
subordinate courts in India
A total of ₹981.98 crore sanctioned in 2019-20 under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) to the States and Union
Territories for development of infrastructure in the courts, only ₹84.9 crore was utilised by a combined five States,
rendering the remaining 91.36% funds unused.
This underutilisation of funds is not an anomaly induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The issue has been plaguing
the Indian judiciary for nearly three decades when the CSS was introduced in 1993-94.
This is one of the reasons why the Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, recently proposed creation of a National
Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI), which will take control of the budgeting and infrastructure
development of subordinate courts in the country.
“Good judicial infrastructure for courts in India has always been an afterthought. It is because of this mindset that
courts in India still operate from dilapidated structures making it difficult to effectively perform their function,” Chief
Justice Ramana said.
STATE OF INFRASTRUCTURE
The Indian judiciary’s infrastructure has not kept pace with the sheer number of litigations instituted every year. A
point cemented by the fact that the total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country is 24,280, but the
number of court halls available is just 20,143, including 620 rented halls. Also, there are only 17,800 residential units,
including 3,988 rented ones, for the judicial officers.
As much as 26% of the court complexes do not have separate ladies toilets and 16% do not have gents toilets. Only
32% of the courtrooms have separate record rooms and only 51% of the court complexes have a library.
Only 5% of the court complexes have basic medical facilities. While the pandemic has forced most of the courts to
adopt a hybrid system — physical and videoconferencing mode — of hearing, only 27% of the courtrooms have a
computer placed on the judge’s dais with videoconferencing facility.
Chief Justice Ramana, in his speech at the event, highlighted that the improvement and maintenance of judicial
infrastructure is still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner. He stressed on the need for “financial
autonomy of the judiciary” and creation of the NJIAI that will work as a central agency with a degree of autonomy.
Explaining the requirement for a greater autonomy for the NJIAI, a source familiar with the development in the
Supreme Court, said, “The lack of one particular coordinating agency means each year the funds get lapsed. It remains
This claim is supported by the fact that in 2020-21, of the ₹594.36 crore released under the CSS, only ₹41.28 crore
was utilised by a single State Rajasthan.
The data released by the Department of Justice further revealed that in 2018-19, of the ₹650 crore released by the
Centre under the CSS, the utilisation certificate was submitted by 11 States for a total of ₹225 crore.
The current fund-sharing pattern of the CSS stands at 60:40 (Centre:State) and 90:10 for the eight north-eastern and
three Himalayan States. The Union Territories get 100% funding.
“If the scheme (NJIAI) is placed under the Government, it will be much like the current scheme of thing. Nobody will
bother. There has to be a special purpose vehicle driven by a sense of belongingness and passion, with a degree of
authority. That authority has to come from the Supreme Court,” the source said.
The proposed NJIAI could work as a central agency with each State having its own State Judicial Infrastructure
Authority, much like the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) model.
It has also been suggested that the Chief Justice of India could be the patron-in-chief of the NJIAI, like in NALSA,
and one of the Supreme Court judges nominated by the Chief Justice could be the executive chairman
But, unlike NALSA which is serviced by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the proposed NJIAI should be placed under
the Supreme Court of India, the source said.
“In the NJIAI there could be a few High Court judges as members, and some Central Government officials because
the Centre must also know where the funds are being utilised,” the source said.
Similarly, in the State Judicial Infrastructure Authority, he said, in addition to the Chief Justice of the respective High
Court and a nominated judge, four to five district court judges and State Government officials could be members.
“The Chief Justice is mindful of the fact that the High Courts are independent of the Supreme Court. The only time
when the Supreme Court comes in the picture is the appointment of judges of the High Courts,” he said.
PROPOSAL SENT TO GOVT.
Chief Justice Ramana said that he had sent the proposal for the establishment of the NJIAI to the Ministry of Law and
Justice, and was “hoping for a positive response soon”. He has also urged Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju to
expedite the process and ensure that the proposal to create the NJIAI with statutory backing is taken up in the winter
session of Parliament.
“Institutionalising the mechanism for augmenting and creating state-of-the-art judicial infrastructure is the best gift
that we can think of giving to our people and our country in this 75th year of our Independence,” Chief Justice Ramana
THE ARMS RACE TOWARDS HYPERSONIC WEAPONS
how are hypersonic weapons diferent from traditional weaponry Where does India stand vis-a-vis the technology?
The story so far: In October, The Financial Times had reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile
in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that
caught U.S. intelligence by surprise.
This was later confrmed by U.S. military ofcer Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the joint chiefs of staf. However, China
has denied that it was nuclear capable. This and other recent developments have put the spotlight on hypersonic
weapons development, especially the advancements made by China and Russia.
WHAT ARE HYPERSONIC WEAPONS?
They are manoeuvrable weapons that can fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, fve times the speed of sound. The speed
of sound is Mach 1, and speeds upto Mach 5 are supersonic and speeds above Mach 5 are hypersonic. Ballistic
missiles, though much faster, follow a fixed trajectory and travel outside the atmosphere to re-enter only near impact.
On the contrary, hypersonic weapons travel within the atmosphere and can manoeuvre midway which combined with
their high speeds makes their detection and interception extremely difficult. This means that radars and air defences
cannot detect them till they are very close and little time to react.
According to the latest memo of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), there are two classes of hypersonic
weapons, hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM). HGVs are launched from a rocket
before gliding to a target while HCMs are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines, or scramjets, after acquiring
their target. Hypersonic missiles are a new class of threat because they are capable both of manoeuvring and of fying
faster than 5,000 kms per hour, which would enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defences and to further
compress the timelines for response by a nation under attack, says a 2017 book Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation
published by the RAND Corporation.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF CHINESE AND RUSSIAN PROGRAMMES AND WHERE DOES THE U.S. STAND?
In addition to the Chinese test, early October, Russia announced that it had successfully test launched a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile from a Severodvinsk submarine deployed in the Barents Sea which hit a target 350 kms away. Talking of the test in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the tests were almost complete and the Russian Navy would start receiving them in 2022. “Now, it is especially important to develop and implement the technologies necessary to create new hypersonic weapons systems, high-powered lasers
and robotic systems that will be able to efectively counter potential military threats,” he said.
WHILE THE U.S. HAS ACTIVE HYPERSONIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES,
The CRS memo said it was lagging behind China and Russia because “most U.S. hypersonic weapons, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead.” “As a result, U.S. hypersonic weapons will likely require greater accuracy and will be more technically challenging to develop than nuclear-armed Chinese and Russian systems,” it stated. The U.S. is now looking to accelerate its own programmes, though it is unlikely to feld an operational system before 2023. The Pentagon’s budget request for hypersonic research for fnancial year 2022 is $3.8 billion, up from the $3.2 billion it requested a year earlier.
The Missile Defence Agency additionally requested $247.9 million for hypersonic defence. However, as stated by the U.S. Principal Director for Hypersonics Mike White, the Department of Defence has not yet made a decision to acquire hypersonic weapons and is instead developing prototypes to assist in the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts and mission sets. And yet the widespread perception that hypersonic weapons are a game-changer has increased tensions among the U.S., Russia and China, driving a new arms race and escalating the chances of confict.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF DEVELOPMENT BY OTHER COUNTRIES?
The CRS Memo noted that a number of other countries – including Australia, India, France, Germany, and Japan—are also developing hypersonic weapons technology. India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 13, according to CRS. “Reportedly, India is also developing an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) program and successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020,” the memo stated. This test was carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and demonstrated the scramjet engine technology, a major breakthrough.
In a scramjet engine, air goes inside the engine at supersonic speed and comes out at hypersonic speeds. DRDO had said after the test in 2020, many critical technologies such as aerodynamic confguration for hypersonic manoeuvres, use of scramjet propulsion for ignition and sustained combustion at hypersonic fow, thermo-structural characterisation of high temperature materials, separation mechanism at hypersonic velocities have been validated. Given the rising tensions between the U.S., China and Russia as also the worsening geopolitical situation worldwide, the focus for hypersonic weapons is only set to accelerate more countries to invest signifcant resources in their design and development. EXPLAINER How are hypersonic weapons diferent from traditional weaponry?
THE NEED TO REOPEN ANGANWADIS
India must invest robustly in the world’s largest social programme on early childhood services
Being closed since the April 2020-lockdown, anganwadis are slowly reopening. Those in Karnataka, Bihar and Tamil
Nadu are opening or considering opening shortly. As part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS),
anganwadis play a crucial role in supporting households, particularly from low-income families, by providing
childcare, health and nutrition, education, supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health checkup and referral
services. The largest in the world, ICDS covers about 88 million children aged 0-6 years in India. Their closure
significantly impacted service delivery and weakened an important social safety net.
SOURCE OF CRUCIAL SUPPORT
Surveys by IDinsight across fve States in November 2018 and November 2019 found that anganwadi workers were a
primary source of nutrition information for families. Even as anganwadis resumed services, the closure has impacted
their ability to serve as childcare centres. According to National Family Health Service (NFHS)-5 data, in 2019-20,
less than 15% of fve-year-olds attended any pre-primary school at all.
A recent study estimates that the time women spend on unpaid work may have increased by 30% during the pandemic.
In our COVID-19 rural household surveys across eight States, 58% of women cited home-schooling as the biggest
contributor to increase in unpaid work. Sending younger children to anganwadis will free up women’s time, including
for economic activities. Early childhood, the period from birth to fve years of age, is a crucial developmental window.
As platforms for early childhood education and nutrition support, anganwadis can play an important role for children
to achieve their potential
The National Education Policy, 2020, places anganwadis at the centre of the push to universalise access to early
childhood care and education (ECCE). Last week, the government proposed a phased rollout of ECCE programme
across all anganwadis, covering one-fith each year, starting from 2021 -22. Even as we acknowledge their heroic work
and push for urgent reopening, we need to ofer solutions to their myriad challenges. Despite being the primary
informationsource on nutrition, anganwadi workers can lack key knowledge as found by studies from Delhi and Bihar.
Surveys we conducted in 2018-19 found that among mothers listed with anganwadi workers, knowledge about key
health behaviour such as complementary feeding and handwashing was low, at 54% and 49%. Anganwadi workers
often do not have the support or training to provide ECCE. Administrative responsibilities take up signifcant time,
and core services like pre-school education are deprioritised.
A typical worker spends an estimated 10% of their time 28 minutes per day on preschool education, compared to
the recommended daily 120 minutes. Anganwadis often lack adequate infrastructure. NITI Aayog found that only
59% of anganwadis had adequate seating for children and workers, and more than half were unhygienic.
These issues worsen in an urban context, with the utilisation of early childcare services at anganwadis at only 28%,
compared to 42% for rural areas, according to NFHS-4 data.
As anganwadis reopen, we must prioritise interventions with a demonstrated history of success, and evaluate new
ones. Studies in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh (and globally) have found that home visits, where volunteers work with
children and caregivers, signifcantly improved cognition, language, motor development and nutritional intake while
also reducing stunting. Recent initiatives around home-based newborn and young child care are promising, but they
need to extend beyond the frst few months of a child’s life, with seamless coordination with anganwadi workers.
Many States will have to improve career incentives and remuneration for anganwadi workers. One way to ensure they
have more time is to hire additional workers at anganwadis. A recent study in Tamil Nadu found that an additional
worker devoted to preschool education led to cost efective gains in both learning and nutrition. Policymakers have
tried linking anganwadis and primary schools to strengthen convergence, as well as expanding the duration of daycare
at anganwadis. Reaching out to women during pregnancy can increase the likelihood that their children use ICDS
services – as tried in Tamil Nadu. In order to boost coverage as they reopen, large scale enrolment drives, that worked in Gujarat, may help mobilise eligible children. As the world’s largest provider of early childhood services,
anganwadis perform a crucial role in contributing to life outcomes of children across India. To improve these
outcomes, we need to invest more signifcantly in anganwadis, and roll out proven innovative interventions.