1 . Indo-American families face uncertainties over rollback of H4 spouse visa
On December 15, the Department of Homeland Security of US sparked a wave of anxiety among Indian-Americans when it announced that a new law to end work authorisation for dependent spouses, who are on H4 visas, was on the cards. If it goes through, thousands of spouses — many of whom are highly skilled women as well as men from India — could lose their jobs.
It has not yet been three years since spouses of H-1B visa holders got the right to work. In the summer of 2015, the Barack Obama administration signed an executive order, allowing dependent spouses to get an employment authorisation document (EAD) to work. Now, the Donald Trump administration could overturn it.
2 . TRAI’s views on ICT solutions for differently-abled by June
Regulator TRAI will by the middle of this year recommend measures to make telecom and broadcasting services more accessible for the differently-abled
Finding solutions that would make information and communications technology (ICT) accessible for the differently-abled is of utmost importance given the fact that mobile phones and devices have become “ubiquitous and universal”.
The percentage of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the total population has grown to 2.21 per cent in 2011, with 2.68 crore PwDs in the country. Differently-abled individuals are often not able to access the ICT services on account of lack of necessary accessibility features or unaffordable prices of the equipment or due to unavailability of required services.
3 . India’s judge-population ratio improves a bit
The country’s judge-population ratio has gone up marginally in the past few years against the backdrop of increased sanctioned strength. Based on the 2011 census and sanctioned strength of judges of the Supreme Court, the 24 high courts and numerous subordinate courts, the ratio stands at 19.66 judges per million (10 lakh) people.
Still a long way to go
The Supreme Court with a sanctioned strength of 31 is functioning with 25 judges.The 24 high courts have a sanctioned strength of 1,079 judges, but with 395 vacancies they are functioning with 684 judges.
But in cases of the lower courts, the sanctioned strength of judicial officers has gone up and the vacancies have gone down in the past few years.In 2017,the sanctioned strength of judicial officers rose to 22,677. The working strength in 2017 was registered at 16,693. At the end of 2017, the subordinate courts had 5,984 vacancies.
Appeals in Allahabad HC pending for over 40 years
Crimes committed in the late 1960s or early 1970s and some of the appeals in the high court in the late 1970s against decisions of trial courts convicting the accused are still pending in Allahabad HC. A recent report submitted to the Supreme Court by the HC revealed that as many as 14 criminal appeals filed in the seventies — 1976 (2), 1977 (4) and 1978 (8) — are still pending final decisions.
In what can dent the faith of the common people in the efficacy of the justice delivery system, more than 13,600 criminal appeals are pending for more than 30 years in the HC, the biggest in the country with a sanctioned strength of 160 judges. In its report to the bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul , the HC said one of the main reasons for delay is the almost-50% vacancy in judges posts as the high court has only 84 judges, battling the odds stacked heavily against them.
4 . Committee on External Affairs asks for a National security framework towards Pakistan
A parliamentary panel , Committee on External Affairs , has asked the government to “remove stumbling blocks” in resolving outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue, and pitched for a National Security Framework (NSF) and a coherent strategy towards the neighbouring country.
The Committee on External Affairs also noted the fact that by neither publicly accepting nor acting against terrorism emanating from its soil, Pakistan has displayed its unwillingness to create conducive environment for improving bilateral ties.
However, this should not deter the government of India from taking steps from its side so that the situation of stalemate does not linger,” it said in its report on “Indo-Pak relations” presented in Lok Sabha recently.
In the committee’s view, the government of India as a responsible and credible stakeholder should continuously endeavour to utilise its diplomatic clout to create a conducive environment and to remove the stumbling blocks in resolving outstanding issues through dialogue and enforcement of the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration in letter and spirit .
5 . New pattern in Chinese transgressions since Doklam
The Chinese army’s transgressions along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with India appear to have undergone a shift to an attempt to construct permanent structures from the earlier pattern of creating temporary structures or destroying temporary structures made by India.
This was evident in the recent incident of transgression by bulldozer in Arunachal Pradesh, to parts of which China lays a claim . It was similar to the Doklam incident that led to the 75-day standoff last year between the two countries in the territory claimed by both India’s ally Bhutan and China.
Why this Shift ?
China’s aim, according to experts, is to alter status quo along the LAC, which is why its army seeks to move as deep as it can into Indian territory to alter facts on the ground, on the basis of which it can later try to influence negotiations in boundary talks with India.
At the heart of the Sino-Indian boundary dispute is the issue of Arunachal Pradesh (90,000 sq km), which China describes as ‘Southern Tibet’.
China has been demanding that at least the Tawang tract in Arunachal Pradesh, if not the whole of India’s north-easternmost state, be transferred to China.
China argues that since the sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso was born in Tawang, it is close to the hearts and religious sentiments of the Tibetan people, and that India should make a concession on Tawang. The current Dalai Lama fled to India via Tawang in the late 1950s. Therefore, according to China, control over Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh is essential for it to fully establish its control over Tibet.
While China has ruled out a boundary settlement without the transfer of at least Tawang, India has made it clear that there can be no compromise on Arunachal Pradesh . There can’t be any compromise even on Tawang, which is an area with a settled population. The government has repeatedly made it clear to China that the entire state is an integral part of India.