Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 26 December 2022

India’s Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Both the houses of the Parliament passed the landmark Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill 2019 – the first domestic law to empower Indian authorities and courts to deal with piracy and pirate ships on the high seas. The Bill “Ensuring maritime security is key to safeguarding India’s security and economic well-being.”

Why is a law needed?

  1. India is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1982, and ratified the convention on 29 June 1995.
  2. Up until now, it did not have any domestic law on maritime piracy. Therefore, Indian Penal Code provisions relating to armed robbery are usually used to prosecute pirates apprehended by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. However, this has proven to be inadequate in the past.
  3. The Bill allows Indian authorities to take action against piracy in the high seas.
  4. High seas include the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India, the EEZ of any other State, as well as all waters beyond the jurisdiction of any other State, i.e. international waters.
  5. EEZ is an area of the ocean between 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles from the coastline of India.
  6. This is an area within which a coastal nation has jurisdiction over both living and non-living resources.
  7. The Bill intends to give effect to the 1992 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which provides a framework for combating piracy and armed robbery at sea.

What is piracy?

  1. The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence or detention or damage or destruction committed by any person, or by the crew or any passenger of a private ship.
  2. Such illegal acts come under the definition of piracy if they are committed against another ship or any person or property on board a ship, on the high seas.
  3. If anybody voluntarily participated in operating a ship knowing that it is a pirate ship, they can also be held guilty of piracy.
  4. pirate ship has been defined as a ship which is intended to be used by anybody who controls it for piracy activities.
  5. The law applies to shipsseaplanes and other aircraft capable of being used as a means of transportation on water or being engaged in any operations at sea.

 

Good Governance Day celebrated

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

India has been marking Good Governance Day or Sushasan Divas every year since 2014. The day is celebrated on 25 December, on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The purpose of celebrating the day is to create awareness amongst the citizenry, especially young people, who are the future of the country.

More about the day

  1. The day fosters awareness among the Indian peopleof accountability in government.
  2. Good Governance Dayacts as a reminder to the present government that it should be unbiased, transparent and development-oriented.
  3. Atal Bihari Vajpayeewas born on 25 December 1924 in Gwalior, present-day Madhya Pradesh.
  4. A poet-politician, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1939, becoming a pracharak (full-time worker) in 1947.
  5. He became the national president of the Jana Sangh, RSS’s new political outfit. He was the most eloquent speakerthat the Hindu right had at that time and soon proved himself to be a capable administrator as well.
  6. He held his first major national position as the External Affairs Ministerin Morarji’s post Emergency government in 1975.
  7. Vajpayee had earned major plauditsfor his tenure, with his UN General Assembly speech in Hindi drawing praise from all quarters.
  8. He first became Prime Minister in 1996 (for 16 days)it was his 1998-1999 and 1999-2004 terms that left a lasting impact on the nation.

Flashback

  1. On 23 December 2014, former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously)were announced as recipients of India's highest civilian award for merit, the Bharat Ratna, by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
  2. In 2019, the government launched the Good Governance Indexon this occasion.
  3. The GGIis a scientifically prepared tool based on various parameters of good governance which assess the level of any state at a given point of time and help in shaping future development.

 

EAGLE Act could benefit Indian immigrants

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

The White House supported the US Congress passing a legislation whose aim is to eliminate the per-country quota on issuing green cards. If passed, the legislation will allow US employers to focus on recruiting people based on ‘merit’ over ‘birthplace’, and is likely to benefit Indian-Americans. The House of Representatives will soon vote on the (Equal Access to Green Card for Legal Employment) EAGLE Act of 2022.

What is a green card and what are its benefits?

  1. Officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, a green card, issued to immigrants, allows them to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.
  2. The card serves as evidence that the holder has been accorded the privilege of residing permanently.
  3. Some of the benefits of having a green card are – it provides a pathway to citizenship, a green card holder can sponsor immediate family members for the same card, it provides easy access to US’ social security system as also education assistance, travel to and from the country becomes much easier, a card holder can choose to live anywhere in the US, there is more freedom in terms of career opportunities as one can apply for a wide variety of jobs, and a card holder can also have some amount of engagement in the political process of the country.

What is H.R. 3648, or the EAGLE Act of 2022?

  1. The goal of the Act is to allow US employers to “focus on hiring immigrants based on meritnot their birthplace, by eliminating the “per country” limitation on employment-based immigrant visas (green cards).”
  2. To reduce the impact of this on less-populated countries and ensure that eligible immigrants from these countries are not excluded when the Act is implemented, the legislation plans to phase out the per-country caps over the course of nine years.
  3. Another goal of the EAGLE Act 2022 is to improve the H-1B specialty occupation visa program. This would be done by bolstering the recruitment requirements, strengthening protections for US workers and boosting transparency, among others.

How will the legislation benefit Indian-Americans?

  1. There are 140,000 employmentbased green cards available, and because of the per-country cap, the backlog has touched millions.
  2. The CATO institute’s 2022 report highlights that nearly all backlogged immigrants are from India.
  3. According to the CATO report of 2020, in the United States, 75 per cent of the employmentbased backlog was made up by skilled Indian workers.
  4. Notably, if they all could remain in the line, the backlogged Indian workers faced a wait of nine decades before they could get a green card.
  5. The 2020 report also notes that over “200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.”

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