Article 370 Current Affairs - 2020

Democracy Index released: India ranks 51; Slips 10 positions

On January 22, 2020, the Economic Intelligence Unit released Democracy Index for the year 2019. The index was topped by Norway. Norway was followed by Iceland and Sweden at second and third positions respectively. India was pushed to 51st rank slipping 10 positions as compared to its previous ranking

Highlights

According to the report, the slippage of India’s ranking was mainly due to the protests of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Report on Kashmir

With respect to the Kashmir issue of Abrogation of Article 370, the report says that certain acts of government over the issue led to the decline in the country’s ranking. It includes deployment of large troops in Jammu and Kashmir region, restricting internet access and also placing local leaders under house arrest.

Report on NRC

The report said that the citizenship registration exercise excluded 1.9 million people from the final list. Also, the majority of the population excluded were Muslims. This has enraged large Muslim population and has stoked protests in various parts of the country.

History of India’s Index

The democratic indices are awarded over a score of 10. Since the launch of the Index in 2006, India has obtained the lowest score of 6.9 this time in 2019. In 2018, India obtained 7.23. India’s highest score was 7.91 in 2014 and has declined since then. However, India’s scores have always remained above global average. This year, the global average was 5.44.

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J&K Development: Rs 2000 crore for Z-Morh Tunnel; 36 Union Ministers’ visit

After Abrogation of Article 370, Government of India is rapidly working on developing the territories of Ladakh and Jammu Kashmir. In order to hasten the process, 36 Union Ministers are to visit the Union Territory. Also, the concession agreement for the Z-Morh tunnel was signed on January 17, 2020.

Highlights

A concession agreement to complete the 6.5 kilo metre Z-Morh Tunnel was signed. According to the agreement, a two-lane bi-directional tunnel is to be constructed at a cost of Rs 2000 crores. A parallel escape tunnel is to be completed in 3.5 years. The tunnel will open NH-1 Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri highway throughout the year. The highway is seldom closed in winter due to snow.

About the Tunnel

The tunnel is capable of allowing 1,000 vehicles an hour at a speed of 80 km per hour. The Tunnel construction process began in 2012. Border Road Organization (BRO) was the previous implementation agency of the project. The project was however transferred to IL&FS in 2016. In 2019, on request of IL&FS due its financial crisis, the project was foreclosed. NHIDCL (National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation) invited for a new concessionaire through bidding process. APCO won the contract and is to complete the balance work.

Visit of 36 Union Ministers

All the union ministers are to pay a visit to Jammu and Kashmir. The aim of the visit is to spread information about the policies of the Union Government towards the development of J&K. This will help to win hope and trust of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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