THE EVOLUTION OF BRICS: BRAZIL-RUSSIA-INDIA-CHINA–SOUTH AFRICA

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BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is an association amongst these five emerging national economies of the world. Initially, it was an association only amongst Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRICs) until South Africa joined in 2011. The Heads of these States meet annually to about financial, economic and political matters that are common to all. Although it started as an informal and diplomatic meeting amongst the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS, but it gradually emerged as a powerful political and economic entity, far beyond the original concept tailored for the financial markets.

The successful Summits held at Yekaterinburg, Russia (2009) discussed about reformation of international financial institutions, sustainable development and measures to combat climate change; Brasilia, Brazil (2010) discussed about Iran nuclear programme, reformation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) governance structures, promotion of multilateral trade, food security; Sanya, China (2011) discussed about combating terrorism in lines with UN, UN reform, economic cooperation based on national currencies, and the war in Libya; New Delhi (2012) discussed about anti-crisis measures and settlement issues related to Syria and Iran, integration of markets; Durban (2013) adopted a eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan which reflects the common approaches of the BRICS countries on urgent issues of multilateral cooperation, aid to Africa in terms of funding infrastructure projects; Fortaleza (2014) signed an agreement on establishing a New Development Bank (NDB) and a treaty on creating a Contingent Reserves Arrangement to financially aid the BRICS economies and aim at poverty reduction; Ufa, Russia (2015) had internet governance and cyber regulation and reformation of the international financial system on their agenda.

In this period, BRICS has evolved in an incremental manner, in areas of consensus amongst its members and has strengthened the coordination and cooperation in financial, economic and political governance. Intra-BRICS cooperation has emerged as a powerful economic breakthrough at the international level by providing a platform for discussing security issues and developing international policies on common matters. It has been observed over the time, that there has been a boost in the economic output of BRICS. By establishing NDB and the Reserve fund, BRICS has moved a step forward to give financial independence and stability to its nations by reducing their dependence on IMF and World Bank and to prevent short-term liquidity pressures. Moreover, it has broken the monopoly of IMF and WB which would motivate them to function transparently and efficiently.

The 8th Summit at Goa, India (2016) has on its agenda: to further institutionalize the BRICS cooperation, implement decisions from previous Summits, integrate and continue the existing mechanisms, and invent some mechanisms on cooperation. It will also be looking into combating terrorism measures, investment opportunities, women entrepreneurship and organize a trade fair to encourage Start-ups and provide a platform for young entrepreneurs from across BRICS nations to showcase their technologies. BRICS is cautiously being consolidated and gradually taking forward the institution-building process.

 

 

Daliparthy Harini

Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

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“Information is the currency of democracy”.

The ‘Right To Information’ (RTI) Act was introduced in 2005 with a sole objectthatis to empower the citizens,promote transparency andaccountability in the working of the Government,contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in the real sense.Right to Information is a part of fundamental rights under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India which says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression.The Right To Information Act mandates that timely response should be given to any citizen who asks for the information. This initiative is taken by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to ensure a portal for quick search of information to citizens about the Government.

Right to Information Act 2005, empowers every citizen to:

  • Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information.
  • Take copies of any Government documents.
  • Inspect any Government documents.
  • Inspect any Government works
  • Take samples of materials of any Government work.

 

Recently the Central Information Commission (CIC) announced that as soon as an RTI applicant files an appeal or a complaint, he would be given a registration number and would get an alert on his email and mobile phone. Then the case would be transferred immediately to the concerned Information Commissioner’s Registry electronically.  The CIC now would work like an e-court with all its case files moving digitally and the applicant being alerted about case hearings through an SMS and email.

According to a recent study conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), 4,800 applications are being filedeveryday to access information from the Government across India. This is the first decadal study conducted after Right to Information (RTI) Act implemented in October 2005. This study has revealed that over 1.75 crore applications have been filed since 2005, out of which, one-fourth being requests to the Centre. It also reveals that 27.2% (47.66 lakh) of the total RTIs filed between 2005 and 2015 were to the different ministries and departments under the Centre.

The study shows that the actual number of RTI applications could be higher since many public authorities do not report their annual compliance and thus the number of applications filed with them does not get accounted. Under Section 25 of RTI Act, all public authorities under Centre and State Governments are required to submit annual status of implementation to Information Commissions but the basic responsibilities of publishing annual reports and having functional websites are not followed by the State Commissions. Some of the State Information Commissions have not published any annual report on their website and some have been doing it erratically. Some of them do not have a functional website for example the Information Commission of Goa. Also, the Information Commissions follow disparate cycles of annual reporting – some follow calendar year and some adopt the financial year reporting cycle. The State Information Commissions, the final Appellate Authorities in the States for RTI Act, also have been playing truant as far as their responsibilities are concerned.

CHRI’s Official says, “The number of RTI applications need to reduce. For this, the Governments need to identify frequently asked questions and proactively disclose that information. The Governments also must fulfill their obligations of spreading awareness about RTI with particular focus on the disadvantaged segments of society.”

FEW THINGSONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THE ACT AND FILING AN RTI PLEA-

  • Every public authority has an obligation to maintain computerized versions of all records in such a way that it can be accessed over a network anywhere in the country and issued to the person who has requested for information.

 

  • Every public authority should provide essential information to the public through various channels of information (including internet) at frequent intervals so that the use of the RTI Act to obtain information can be kept to a bare minimum.

 

  • Any person who desires to obtain information shall submit a written or electronic request/application in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area to the Central Public Information Officer or his/her counterpart at the state level or local authority such as the municipal administration/panchayat, while others are handled by the Central Government.

 

  • The law mandates that the information should be provided in 30 days and if it is rejected, the Public Information Officer or his/her equivalent will communicate the reason for rejection, if this does not happen, he can file an appeal. The first appeal should be addressed to ‘The Appellate Authority’ with the name of the department and the address. The Appellate Authority is mandated to revert in 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal. If the Appellate Authority fails to reply, further appeals lie with the Information Commission, the Chief Information Commissioner, State/Central Information Commission.

 

  • The Authority will be under no obligation to provide such information that might hurt the sovereignty and integrity of India, information that has been forbidden to be shared by any court of law, information received under confidence by a foreign Government and cabinet papers.

 

PARUL

SENIOR ASSOCIATE

THE INDIAN LAWYER

INDIA & SINGAPORE

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The close ties between India and Singapore have a history rooted in strong commercial, cultural and people-to-people links. Singapore is not only an important trading partner in ASEAN but also a major source of FDI inflows in India.

India is Singapore’s eight largest investor. India-Singapore bilateral trade accelerated to USD 17.44 billion in 2010-11 from USD 14.04 percent in 2009-10.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, decided to boost cooperation in countering threats of terrorism. Almost a year after they elevated bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, India and Singapore further cemented their relationship with the inking of three new agreements on Tuesday, 4th October.

India and Singapore signed three memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) which are in the field of skill development and IPR to boost bilateral relations between them.

First, MoU in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation: It was signed between Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Singapore.

Second, MoU on collaboration in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training: It was signed between National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and ITEES Singapore.

Third, MoU on collaboration in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training: It was signed between Government of Assam and ITEES Singapore.

Some of the highlights of the MoUs are:

  1. India and Singapore decided to strengthen cooperation in countering threats of rising terrorism.
  2. India seeks to enhance cooperation with Singapore in key sectors including trade and investment.
  3. Highlighted importance of Defence and security cooperation as the key pillar of strategic partnership between India and Singapore.
  4. Raised concern over rising tide of terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism and the rise of radicalization as a grave challenges to our security.
  5. India agreed to expedite the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

 

Sanchayeeta Das

Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

 

 

LEGALITY OF INDIA’S SURGICAL STRIKES

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The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter 1945, had passed a UNSC Resolution 1373 in the year 2001. It emphasizes on all aspects of international terrorism. It allows Member States to take additional measures to prevent and suppress acts of terrorism and prohibits States and individuals from providing funds to carry out acts of terrorism, or providing safe haven to terrorists, or allowing movement of terrorists across borders, etc. Article 51, under Chapter VII, of the UN Charter, allows the Member States to take measures in self-defence to maintain international peace and security if an armed attack takes place against it.

In line with the provisions of UN Charter 1945, the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan had entered into an agreement in Shimla in the year 1972 to put an end to the conflicts between the two countries and establish peace and harmony. In order to achieve this objective, it was agreed between the two that “neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation and both shall prevent the organization, assistance or encouragement of any acts detrimental to the maintenance of peaceful and harmonious relations” and “that in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations they will refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of each other”.

But it has been seen in the month of September 2016, that terrorists, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), have attacked the Indian Army bases at Poonch and Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a Press Conference conducted on 29th September 2016, the Director General of Military Operations, India stated that they have found items including global positioning systems (GPS) having Pakistani markings. Also that the terrorists hailing from Pakistan or PoK, who have been captured by Indian Army, have confessed to their training in Pakistan or territories under its control. India has made multiple efforts to cooperate with Pakistan in assisting their investigations with respect to such terrorists and those killed in the Poonch and Uri attacks, but the infiltration attempts of the terrorists kept rising.

The Indian Army on 28th September 2016 received evidence and information regarding terrorist units positioned across LoC in PoK which was planning to infiltrate into the Indian Territory. On September 29, 2016, the Indian Army had conducted surgical strikes on the terrorist camps across the LoC in PoK, destroying seven terror launch pads used for launching nuclear missiles. It has been clarified by the Indian Army that the motive behind this surgical measure was to maintain peace and tranquility in the Indian Territory and to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks on Indian Territory and not to initiate any cross border firing and ceasefire violation.

 

Daliparthy Harini

Legal Associate