Indus Treaty: Other side of India-Pakistan

Water Sharing, transparency and collaboration are the pillars on which the unique Indus Water Treaty was erected in 1960 between India and Pakistan.India’s treaty with Pakistan and Bangladesh are the only pacts in Asia with specific water-sharing formulas on cross-border flows.The 1996 Ganges treaty with Bangladesh set a new standard by guaranteeing delivery of specific water quantities in the critical dry season.

The Indus treaty stands out as the world’s most generous watersharing arrangement by far, in terms of both sharing ratio(80.52 % of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system is reserved for Pakistan) and the total volume of basin waters for the downstream state(90 ties greater volume to Pakistan when compared to Mexico’s share with the USA- 1944 pact).It is the first and only treaty that goes beyond water sharing to partitioning of rivers.It draws a virtual line on the map of India to split the Indus basin into upper and lower parts limiting India’s sovereignty rights to the lower section and reserving for Pakistan the upper section(rivers) of Jammu and Kashmir-the so-called ‘Western rivers’.Today, it remains the only inter-country water arrangement in the world embodying the doctrine of restricted sovereignty which seeks to compel an upper stream state to defer to the interests of a downstream state.

P.S. (India is the upper stream state and Pakistan the Downstream state)

Pakistan wants no Indian works on the three ‘Western rivers’ and seeks International intercession by invoking the treaty’s dispute settlements provisions, which permit a neutral expert assessment or the constitution of a seven member arbitrary tribunal.By aiming to deny Jammu and Kashmir the limited benefits permissible under the treaty, Pakistan further wishes to foment discontent and violence in the valley.

It instituted international arbitration proceedings over India’s 330 megawatt hydropower project on a small Indus tributary, the Kishenganga(Neelum in Pakistan) with India’s work suspended, Pakistan ramped up a three times larger Chinese-aided hydropower plant on same river so as to stake priority right on river-water use.The tribunal’s final ruling in 2013 represented a setback for India.It allowed India to resume work on Kishenganga project but with a stiff condition that India ensure a minimum flow of 9 cumecs of water for Pakistan. More importantly the arbitrary delivered a general prohibition against drawdown flushing in all new India’s hydropower projects.Pakistan’s move to institute new arbitration proceedings over the kishenganaga project is a fresh reminder as to how India’s unparalleled water generosity has engendered undenying trouble for it.In 1960,India thought it was trading water for peace by signing the treaty.within five years Pakistan launched a war to grab India’s part of Jammu and Kashmir in 1965.Today Pakistan’s water relationship with India is becoming murkier due to China’s construction of dams on Pakistan occupied Kashmir

Pakistan, by waging a constant propaganda battle against India on the waters issue risks,undermining the Indus-treaty.And by repeatedly invoking the treaty’s conflict-resolution provisions to bring International intercession, it risks sending the wrong message-that compliance with treaty obligations and arbitrations decisions is counter-productive.In the absence of an enforce mechanism in International law, nothing can stop India from emulating the example of major powers such as China’s stand in the South China Sea.

Pakistan insists on ‘rights’ without responsibilities.In fact, its use of state reared terrorist groups can be invoked by India under Article 62 of the Vienna convention on Lw of treaties, as constituting reasonable grounds for withdrawal from Indus-treaty and all other forms of trade. The International court of justice  has upheld the principle that a treaty may be dissolved by reason of a fundamental change in circumstances.India is not invoking the same because it does not want to  give more voice to nonsensical claims of terror heads like Hafiz Saeed that India is exploiting Pakistan.

If pakistan wishes to preserve the Indus treaty despite the diminishing returns to India, it will have to strike a balance between its rights to keep utilising the bulk of the river system waters and corresponding obligation(enshrined in the International law) not to cause palpable harm to its co-riparian state by exporting terror

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At 70:Expanding the Idea of India

The Independence that we celebrate today was won by the Indian people through a prolonged and hard struggle of epic dimensions, a larger than life battle in which ordinary men and women performed heroic roles.It was a cumulation of revolutionary movement which forced the rulers of an empire on which the ‘sun never set’ to surrender power to their ‘subjects’ whom they had exploited for two centuries.India became the first colony to throw off the imperial yoke, and its example inspired other countries in Asia and Africa and by 1960s, most countries had became independent.

Throwing light upon duties seems to be the most apt headline this independence amidst all the noises of rights and protection.The framers of the Constitution did not deem it appropriate to incorporate Fundamental Duties in the text of the Constitution, however the post-Constitution civic life, for around a quarter of a century did not portray a rosy picture and therefore it was thought fit to have a framework of duties within Constitution itself which ironically came into life at the time of suspension of rights during emergency.Apart from the 11 Fundamental duties, there is need for addition of several duties as the country has grown 70 yrs but is still very young.

Duty to Vote: One method through which this may be achieved is through developing a system of incentives for voters and conversely disadvantages for those who remain abstain from performing their duty to vote.A very large section of people can be motivated to vote this way

Duty to pay taxes: It will shift the onus onto tax payer to pay taxes rather than tax department to collect them

Duty to help accident victims:Every 60 minutes, 16 people die in India in traffic accidents.With the increase in the number of accidents, it has become pertinent for India to recognise this duty as one owed by its citizens towards each other

Duty to keep premises clean, Duty to raise voice against injustice, Duty to protect whistle-blowers are some more which can be incorporated. For the people of country who are so knowledgable about their rights , surely these duties would be welcomed and understood equally well

What could be some of the defining images of India at 70? The growing visibility of gestures of Dalit resistance and attempts to regain dignity, how to define nationalism, what should be the protection for and right of minorities, the correct balance of power between institutions, or the cow vigilantism in many parts of the country which says  that it is right to disrespect human life in the name of the cow. These are desperate images but with a common theme: They speak of freedom’s work half done, or undone, while promising that fight for greater freedom is still on.Having said all this ,India’s image globally was never so powerful in the past 70 years whose bold example is when  Mr Prime Minister from the podium of Red Fort gave life to NSA’s words”that offense is the new defence” by taking into account Balochistan and telling our bitter neighbour that India has the answer to Kashmir and now it is not in the mood to sit back. Strong leader and growing powerful allies in the east as well as west are a welcome signal for an emerging economic power who is growing day by day.

Sixty nine years after Independence, we Indians are more free than when the British left, but less free than what the framers of our Constitution hoped us to be.For now, lets celebrate the growing visibility of Dalit resistance and fight for dignity,refusal to dispose of human waste and remove carcasses of dead animals anymore Let’s welcome Candidate Irom Sharmila in Manipur, when she takes the electoral plunge and an election issue called AFSPA.Let’s look forward to the latest bout between judiciary and government yielding hopefully in a finer balance of institutions.To quote Nehru on 15th August 1947,”It is a tryst with Destiny” and hope the coming generations continue with the same feeling and pride

 

Uniform Civil Code: One Law One Nation

The brave fight put up by Muslim women against the practice of triple talaq has once again brought into focus the lack of a uniform civil code in India. The Narendra Modi government has now asked the Law Commission to examine the issue. This is hopefully the first step towards the implementation of something that has been delayed for far too long.

Article 44 of the Constitution of India states that – The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.This means that the direction notably is not for parliament to enact such a code straight away but for all organs of the state to make efforts to secure uniformity in civil laws.

Any talk on uniform civil code must come at such a time and in such a way that we have gradually moved towards assimilation of the very best from each of personal law system that exists. What we cannot achieve through forced legislation , we are slowly achieving through seemless transition through secular laws.Borrowing freely from laws of each other ,making gradual changes in each of pieces of legislation, making judicial pronouncements that assure gender equality and adopting expansive interpretations for broadening the outlook related to marriage, maintenance, adoption and succession by specifically acknowledging that benefit one community secures from others.The Portugese Civil Code of 1867 was continued in Goa after its liberation and it should serve as a model to all other states.The progressive law provides for equal division of income and property regardless of gender.It is also applicable to Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar haveli and Daman and Diu

Supreme Court at its best in the Sarla Mudgal Judgement said,”The desirability of uniform civil code can be hardly doubted but it can concretise only when social climate is properly built by the elite of the society and statement. Instead of getting personal mileage, rise above and awaken the masses to accept the change”.As the recent events and efforts of the government show a new height acheived in cooperative federalism via passing of 122nd Constitutional amendment Bill regarding GST, the same can be replicated in terms of Uniform civil code

To Dr.B.R. Ambedkar, at the time of initiating the dialogue and finalising the draft of constitution it was the obvious choice, for he saw no merit in religion in its application to personal law.The Uniform Civil Code is the corestone of true secularism.Such a progressive reform would not only help end discrimination against women on religious grounds but also strengthen the secular fabric of our country and promote unity.The whole concept of common civil code is not aimed against any particular religion or its customs , but to prevent oppression in the name of religion by any religion.

An Abomination called ‘AFSPA’

Irom Sharmila abandoning her dance with the death starvation has put back the so-called ‘immovable law’ back in spotlight.The debate around AFSPA is in fact as old as the law itself, waxing and wanning periodically through many decades that it has been around in the country.

The AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Protection Act) bill was passed in September-1958, to tackle the Naga insurgency in the state of Assam.The law based on armed forces(special powers) ordinance 1942 issued during Quit india movement ironically on 15th August, the colonial ordinance allows:

1.Army personnel down to non commissioned officers up to the rank of a Captain the power to use force after giving due warning even to causing of death, if they are convinced it is necessary to do so for maintaining public order

2.It also grants soldiers executive powers to enter premises, search and arrest without a warrant

3. Action taken in line of duty cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts unless sanctioned by Central government(which wont ever issue any such thing)

Finally Supreme Court pointed out keeping AFSPA indefinitely defeats the purpose of what is essentially an emergency provision.When the law and order machinery is broken down and the state is under President’s rule,AFSPA may be understandable.But at other times presence of the army which comes under defense ministry often undermines the elected state government and complicates the political process especially in Kashmir as it is the highest funded state of the country

Nehru writing to then Assam chief minister said, “We have always to remember that the real solution will require political approach and an attempt to make the Nagas feel that we are friendly to them and that can be at home to India.”

Replace Nagas with Kashmiris and the quote, 60 years on still works

 

“IS” this the warning to India?

India cannot afford to adopt ‘Ostrich like’ stance and must acknowledge that India along with Bangladesh is a vital target for the Islamic state in the expanded state of Khorassan, Kashmir,Gujarat,NorthWest India and Greater Bengal figure prominently

The real threat posed by IS is not so much its capacity to engage in violence but in its persuasive appeal to muslim youth.The IS is able to attract an ever-increasing number of recruits and several come from highly educated and elite backgrounds.Social dynamics and manipulations of social media have also brought about certain sociological consequences.This together with online propaganda and media projection is producing an entirely different type of youth radicalized. The holy Grail remains the caliphate which has ignited the imaginations of muslim youth.

The IS has its own version of Islamic state of Khorassan.It however tends to see the battle in not geopolitical terms but one of winning and securing the minds and hearts of muslim youth. Hence countries with large educated muslim populations like Bangladesh and India are at risk

Increased sectarian tensions and violence due to misplaced IS propaganda will almost certainly disturb the equilibrium that cannot exist among muslim communities here. India thus has every reason to feel concerned at the rise of IS