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BIMSTEC: Everything about Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation

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Becoming the Prime Minister of the World’s largest democracy is a very big accomplishment. Since we are referring to the World’s largest democracy, it also happens to be significant. The World’s Largest Democracy described here is India. It was the day of 23rd May that the Bhartiya Janata Party emerged victorious by a huge margin in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and conquered 303 seats. Post winning, the swearing-in ceremony of India’s 15th Prime Minister took place on 30th May 2019. Narendra Damodardas Modi was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of India for the second consecutive time. 58 ministers were also sworn in along with him by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. Around 8000 guests were invited to be a part of this grand event. Of these the most discussed were the BIMSTEC Members.

So what is BIMSTEC? What is its significance and why was it formed? When was it formed? In short let us know everything about BIMSTEC in detail.

What is BIMSTEC?

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation is what BIMSTEC stands for. Comprising of seven member states, it is a regional organization. As the name goes by, these states or members surround the Bay of Bengal and thus are united on regional grounds. Born on 6th June 1997, BIMSTEC has seven members. India along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand are the constituent members.

History

Knowing the history of an organization is a must, in order to know about its reason of existence. When the BIMSTEC came into existence, it had four countries as members and was therefore called BISTEC. On 22nd December 1997 Myanmar joined BISTEC and thus BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation) came into being. The inclusion of Nepal as an observer, in 1998 took place. Bhutan and Nepal became full members in the year 2004.

Objectives of BIMSTEC

Acting as a bridge between the South and South East Asian countries, BIMSTEC aims at developing healthy relations between the member states. BIMSTEC is also another platform for the cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members. Covering around 22% of the entire World Population, BIMSTEC homes nearly 1.5 billion people. By utilizing and taking advantage of the regional resources, BIMSTEC was formed to accelerate growth in areas of common interests. Now what differentiates BIMSTEC from any other regional organization is that it is further segregated into 14 sectors. Those sectors are Trade & Investment, Transport & Communication, Energy, Tourism, Technology, Fisheries, Agriculture, Public Health, Poverty Alleviation, Counter-Terrorism & Transnational Crime, Environment & Disaster Management, People-to-People Contact, Cultural Cooperation and Climate Change.

By contributing 33% of the expenditure, India is one of its significant members. It is a good thing that different nations have joined their hands together towards the betterment of people. If these organizations are driven by good ideas and motives, they will definitely succeed in accomplishing their goals.   

 

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The Kargil War: History and Timeline   

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Late Prime Minister of India with the war heroes
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“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”. Such is the thinking of the heroes protecting us day and night at the border. India and Pakistan have been fighting for more than 70 years, right from the day both the countries got their independence. While few of them are fought on the front foot, the majority of the wars fought are proxy. On 26th July 2019, one of the biggest wars fought between the two countries, The Kargil War, completed 2 decades. The Kargil War, like all other wars fought between India & Pakistanwas initiated by Pakistan and one must remember “Violence Begets Violence”.  

History of Kashmir 

The War history of both countries is horrifying. Both nations share the same issue or have the same reason for fighting with each other, that is, Jammu and Kashmir. Neither of the two is ready to give up its stake or claim on the state. According to the Instrument of Accession, Kashmir belonged to India as the then ruler of the state, Raja Hari Singh, willingly became a part of India in 1947. But even after this, one-third portion of Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan and is called POK by India. The rest, which is in India is called IOK or India Occupied Kashmir, in Pakistan. Today we shall discuss the Kargil War and pay respect and gratitude to the brave hearts who have laid down their lives for us and haven’t asked for anything in return.  

  

About Kargil   

Before knowing about the Kargil War, it is important to know about the place KargilKargil, as it is known today, was earlier called Purig. But its name was changed to Kargil. The name Kargil has a meaning. It is derived from the words Khar and rKil. While the former means castle, the latter signifies centre. Thus, Kargil means a place centering many kingdoms. Before 1947, the towns Kargil and Skardu were a part of British India, separated by a distance of 103 km. It was after 1947, after the partition of India and Pakistan, that Skardu became a part of Pakistan and Kargil was added to India.   

 

Before The Kargil War    

Both India and Pakistan have signed numerous treaties in order to reduce tension between the two countries and resolve disputes. As on 21st September 2012, 47 treaties have been signed between the two nations. Out of these 11 are related to the Kashmir issue. The one which was the most recent at that time was the Lahore Declaration. Ironically this agreement was signed just four months before the Kargil War. We would not explore the Lahore Declaration in-depth as of now, it is another story in itself, but will get a slight idea about this. According to the Lahore Declaration, an understanding or an agreement was made between the two nations regarding the development of atomic weapons and to ensure that no accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons is done. The agreement was signed in view of atomic tests that both the nations conducted in the year 1998. It was assumed that the relations between both the nations would improve after signing of the Lahore Declaration. 

The Kargil War or Operation Vijay    

Before this war, there were less than the required number of soldiers guarding the 300 km Indian border, under an assumption that there is no tension at the border and that there is no need to have soldiers in large numbers at the border. There were several flaws on our side. The region, due to its terrain, was difficult to access and the technology back then wasn’t that advanced. Aerial equipment like drones were not even invented. Also, during winters, the borders of both the nations of that place were left unguarded because of extreme climatic conditions. So obviously Pakistan took advantage of this.    

Pakistani troops, in the month of February, infiltrated at 132 points within the Indian boundary. The areas were between Zojila and Leh, MushkohDrasKargilBatalik and Turtuk sub-sectors, to be more precise.    

It was on the 3rd of May, 1999, that local shepherds reported about this infiltration. The Army at first assumed these Pakistani troops to be Kashmiri Separatists and assured to send them back as early as possible. Little did they know that the magnitude of the planned attack was much larger.      

5th May 1999: Group of five soldiers lead by Captain Saurabh Kalia were sent to check this infiltration.    

9th May 1999: Army Ammunition Dump in Kargil damaged by Pakistan. 

26th May 1999: IAF launched airstrikes against the Pakistani Troops.    

27th May 1999: MiG-21 and MiG-27 shot down by Pakistan and Flt Lt Nachiketa taken as Prisoner of War.    

28th May 1999:  India’s Ml-17 shot down and four soldiers were killed.   

1st June 1999: Pakistan bombed NH1.   

6th June 1999: Indian Army retaliated by attacking the Pakistani troops in Kargil. 

9th June 1999: Two key positions re-captured by the Indian Army in Batalic Sector.    

13th June 1999: Indian Army secured Tololing in Dras.    

29th June 1999: Indian Army captured Point 5060 and Point 5100 near Tiger Hill. 

4th July 1999: Tiger Hill recaptured by Indian Army.    

5th July 1999:  Dras taken back by the Indian Army. Nawaz Sharif announced Pakistan’s withdrawal from Kargil.    

7th July 1999: Jubar Heights snatched back by India   

14th July 1999: Operation Vijay declared successful by the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee    

India won the Kargil War and forced Pakistan to return. We have mentioned Captain Saurabh Kalia and his five soldiers, let us know what happened to them.   

  Captain Saurabh Kalia    

 Troops were sent to combat the infiltration situation. Six soldiersLt Saurabh Kalia, Sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal BagariaBhika Ram, Moola Ram, and Naresh Sing were captured by Pakistanis and tortured to death. Captain Saurabh Kalia was the one who reported that the intrusion was done on a larger scale.  All of them were held captive by Pakistani Troops for 20 days. Their bodies were handed over on the 9th of June 1999 and the amount of torture that they were inflicted with was evident from the condition of their mutilated bodies. A person experiences enormous pain when he/she gets brushed off by a candle flame. As for those five soldiers, the pain that they experienced cannot be described in words. Before shooting them dead with bullets, their bodies were burnt with cigarettes, their eardrums were pierced with hot iron rods, eyes were punctured then removed, teeth broken, bones and skull fractured, lips, nose, limbs and private parts chopped off.    

Imagine the plight of the parents of these martyrs. Till date Captain Kalia’s father is awaiting justice for the gruesome murders of his son and other five soldiers.    

For this victory over Pakistan, 26th of July is celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas every year.   

  

  

 

 

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Apollo 11 completes a golden jubilee   

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The three astronauts of Apollo 11
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As kids, we have all studied about the first man who stepped on the moon. I am pretty sure none of us can forget that man. The name of the astronaut and the words he said are still engraved in the minds of every single human being. Neil Armstrong was the first human being who walked on the moon. Well, why are we discussing this? Actually, the first moon landing completes 5 decades this year. Landing on 20th July 1969, Apollo 11 had three astronauts as its prime members, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin. Today, we will discuss everything in detail about the first moon landing of human beings and Apollo 11.   

History  

There is something that we all must know, that how and why did this mission, Apollo 11, came into existence? There is a big reason behind this mission of NASA.  

USA and USSR have been arch-rivals for quite a time now. For those of you who don’t know what USSR is, let me elaborate on this. Also known as the Soviet Union or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was a union of multiple states from 1922-1991. With Russia acting as the supreme power, the present-day countries that became a part of this union were: Armenia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia. The Union broke up in 1991. Back in 1950, USSR was the largest country and a World Super Power.    

Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, was launched by USSR in 1957. What followed this event was the going of the first man in space, that is, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. This began the space race between the two superpowers of the World that is, USA and USSR.  

It was after 1957 that, the then President of USA, Dwight D. Eisenhower, established NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). John F. Kennedy, who was the President of the USA in 1961, announced that the USA plans to send and land a man on the moon and bring him back to the earth safely.   

Post this, project Apollo was launched. Although Apollo 1 failed miserably and resulted in the death of the three onboard astronauts, NASA did not sit back. Proceeding step by step, they launched Apollo 7, Apollo 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 10, in order to check various aspects like testing the lunar orbit, dress rehearsal, etc. By July 1969 Apollo 11 was ready for its launch.  

We have discussed the astronauts that set their voyage on the moon. Neil A. Armstrong was the commander, Michael Collins was the Command Module Pilot and Buzz Aldrin was the Lunar Module Pilot of the Apollo 11 mission.   

Who will step first?   

It wasn’t accidental that Neil Armstrong stepped first on the moon. This was all planned. There were several reports back then that Aldrin would be the first one to walk on the moon. Attempts were made to let Aldrin step first on the moon by trying this process with a simulator first. During this trial, Aldrin damaged the simulator while attempting to egress. In a bid to avoid any conflicts, Slayton told Aldrin that Armstrong, being the commander, will step first on the moon.   

The pre-launch was started months before the actual launch and the first module to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center was LM-5 on January 8, 1969.    

Landing   

The launch took place from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:32 a.m. Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar module, Eagle, which separated from Command Service Module, Colombia on July 20, 1969.   

Post landing, both the astronauts remained inside the module for two hours. They checked all the systems and configured the craft as well so that it stays. The Eagle was also equipped with a camera that was capturing everything live. On July 20th, 1969, at 11:56 p.m. Armstrong landed on the moon and what followed was the most epic statement, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  

Post Landing  

The astronauts, post landing, collected samples of the soil of the moon and erected the flag of the USA. Also, memorial medallions were laid down. These medallions had the names of several astronauts, including Yuri Gagarin. A silicon disk containing goodwill messages from 73 countries, names of NASA leaders and congressional leaders was left.   

After 21.5 hours, the astronauts headed back to earth.   

On 24th July they landed into the Pacific Ocean after completing a historical journey.   

 

 

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Is Capital Punishment Effective?

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The topic of “Capital punishment” is quite debatable. Some who are against this form of punishment take a strong stand against it by saying that what you cannot give, you have no right to take away. The others who are in favor of capital punishment support their stance by declaring the lesser the number of criminals, lesser is the crime rate. Before concluding whether capital punishment is effective or not, let us know what capital punishment is. When a person commits a crime, which is a heinous one, then according to law, he/ she shall face death as a punishment for the same. This can be put up like this –  that if the law thinks that the punishment for your crime cannot be fulfilled by life imprisonment, then capital punishment is the last option. Not only in India but in a few other countries as well, capital punishment is awarded when the crime is gruesome and not forgivable. In short, capital punishment comes into force in the rarest of rare cases. 

Just like an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, each criminal should get what he/she deserves.  So, if a person has murdered someone and has no genuine motive behind his/ her act, capital punishment is what that person should receive and nothing less than that. Genuine motive is the one where the murder takes place as an act of self-defence.   

Human behavior is not that easy to explain. As all humans are different, their actions and reactions to different things & different situations are also different. To generalize this behavior on behalf of everyone is obviously difficult. For example, some of us learn by committing mistakes.  But some understand in advance as to what consequences can their actions lead to and thus avoid committing mistakes. Both of these are not wrong, it is just different manners in which different persons behave or react. The ones who commit mistakes and learn have a life full of experiences and learnings. On the other hand, the ones who don’t commit mistakes may not regret any of their actions.  

 So just think if you know that on doing something you will be punished and that punishment can cost you your life. Won’t you be scared and refrain yourself from doing so? Of Course, you will be!  

Types of Death Penalties 

Capital punishment is of various types and is executed in different countries in different ways. Following is the list of various forms of capital punishment. 

Serial Number Type of Capital punishment 
1 Hanging  
2 Shooting 
3 Lethal Injection 
4 Electrocution 
5 Gas Inhalation 
6 Beheading  
7 Stoning  
8 Crucification 

  

India follows the capital punishment in the form of hanging. Since death is given in rarest of rare cases, just imagine how horrendous the crime would have been that there is no other punishment left for the criminal.  While awarding death punishment to someone, the court has to give apt justification. It is obviously statutory since the court is taking away someone’s life. Just imagine if someone near and dear to you is murdered, may the almighty forbid that, won’t you feel that the murderer should receive an equal punishment for the crime. This is when capital punishment is effective.  

If we go back to history, the first hanging of independent India was done in the year 1949. The persons to be hanged were Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte and they were convicted for the murder of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Let us now get a brief knowledge of the offenses that the Indian law considers gruesome and awards capital punishment if that crime is committed.  

Punishment for crimes should be such that they create fear amongst people and deter them from committing crimes. Below mentioned crimes have capital punishment as a punishment and if one looks into their details, the number of cases reported under these crimes is less in comparison to the crimes that do not have capital punishment as retribution.  

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 gives death sentence for a number of offenses. It is given for criminal conspiracy, murder, attempting to wage a war against the Government of India, abetment of mutiny, dacoity with murder and a few more like NDPS Act, anti-terrorism laws, etc. Even the armed forces aren’t spared from capital punishment. The Army Act 1950, The Air Force Act 1950 and The Navy Act 1950 punish the army personnel. The sati system has been a part of Indian society for centuries. Although it is supposed to have been abolished from our country but it is still prevalent in some areas of our nation. But if we observe nowadays there are hardly any cases related to the Sati Act. The reason behind this is very simple, people fear that if they force a woman to give up her life by Sati then this act of theirs will cost them their life. The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 is for the same. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 was created to prevent and stop the atrocities that the people of Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Castes had to face.  

Rousseau’s philosophy states that a child learns that fire is harmful only when he/ she puts his/ her hand in the same and realizes that it burns and hurts. So next time, the child will refrain from doing so. Similarly, if one criminal gets capital punishment for his/her comeuppance, this will refrain the others from committing the same crime, since they will fear the repercussion of their crime, which is death.  

Even if the person is not awarded capital punishment and suffers lifetime imprisonment instead, then it is for sure that he/she will be released from jail one day. On release from jail, it is not guaranteed that he will not commit the same crime again. Our law penalizes one for spending 14 years in jail under life imprisonment but does it work to improve the mentality of the criminal?  It is believed that spending 14 years in jail will change the criminal’s behavior and deter him from committing the same crime. It may or may not be true in all cases because we don’t have psychologists in jails who work to change the state of mind of a criminal. On the contrary, there are chances that the criminal would be frustrated and will come out of the jail prepared to revenge the 14 years he/she spent in jail.  

Also, in India, the duration of punishment for a crime remains static and if the same crime is committed again and again the punishment for the crime remains the same. Let me support this with an example. If a person murders 2 people together, then if he/she is given life imprisonment, the duration of this imprisonment would be 14 years and not 28.  So, is this justified? Obviously not. He/she should be awarded capital punishment otherwise this would be a failure of our judiciary system.  

Think about the family of the people who lose the lives of their dear ones. If a person in a family is murdered by a criminal for whatsoever reason, the family would obviously want equal retribution for the criminal. This can be understood only if we keep ourselves in place of the suffering family. Won’t you want to punish the assassin in such a manner that he/she feels what your murdered kin felt? Without any doubt, yes you would want to.  

Cases that should have had capital punishment for the criminals 

  • Aruna Shanbaug Case 

      Shanbaug was a junior nurse at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.  On the night of 27th November 1973, while Shanbaug was changing clothes in the hospital basement, she was sexually assaulted by Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. Walmiki worked as a sweeper on contract at the same hospital. He choked her with a dog chain and sodomized her which cut out the supply of oxygen to her brain. As a consequence of this, Shanbaug suffered a brain stem contusion injury, cervical cord injury and cortical blindness. The next morning, she was discovered by a cleaner and her body was lying with blood all around it.  

     What followed this event was more horrifying. A case of robbery and attempted murder was registered against Sohanlal.  What he faced was just a seven-year jail. What she suffered was something which people wouldn’t want even their enemies to suffer. Shanbaug remained in a vegetative state for 42 years and died on 18th May 2015. Just imagine she couldn’t live her life and lied on the hospital bed just like a dead corpse.  

     So just tell me, was the amount of punishment inflicted on Sohanlal, justified? According to me, the lady was murdered, not directly but indirectly. The convict had just spent 7 years in jail, exactly one-sixth the time that Shanbaug had spent as an almost dead person on the hospital bed.  

  

  •  2012 Delhi Gang Rape 

This case is the one that invited nationwide outrage because of the brutality with which the crime was committed. Jyoti Singh Pandey accompanied by a friend of hers, Awindra, were returning home post watching a movie on the night of 16th December 2012 in Saket, South Delhi. The two then boarded a bus, which was already occupied by six others, including the driver, for Dwarka. The bus then deviated from its normal route and the doors were slammed shut. Obviously, an objection was made by the two passengers and this was followed by an argument and a scuffle between Awindra and the group of six.  Jyoti was then dragged to the rear of the bus and the series of horrific incidents began. First, she was beaten and made unconscious with an iron rod. She was then raped by all six of them. Post raping her, one of the criminals, a juvenile, inserted a rod in her vagina and pulled out her intestine. Both Jyoti and Awindra were then thrown out of the bus.  

While Awindra continues to live today, Jyoti is no more.  

The prime accused, a juvenile, Mohammad Afroz alias Raju, was 17 years and 6 months old at the time when he committed this crime and so was given a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment since he was convicted of rape and murder under the Juvenile Justice Act.  

The other accused were convicted and awarded death sentence although none has been hanged till date.  

Although the prime accused was a juvenile, it was because of his brutality that the chances of survival of Jyoti were nullified and she died. Just imagine the plight of the parents of the young girl who are still awaiting justice. Just put yourself in the place of her parents. What would you feel? Won’t you feel that even capital punishment is not sufficient for the barbaric crime that these criminals committed? Just think about the pain that the girl would have been undergoing before giving up on her life. No person on this earth can even imagine experiencing so much pain and she has undergone.  

Had there been a stricter law or rather capital punishment for grievous crimes committed by juveniles like Mohammad Afroz, it would act as a major deterrent. They would even fear eve-teasing the girls and would not even imagine of raping any women in our country.  

This clearly justifies the point that capital punishment is effective in most of the cases and had there been a capital punishment for the above-mentioned crimes, these cases might not have occurred. 

 

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