Wednesday, 7 September 2011

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Full form: The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991

ICTY is an adhoc court established by a resolution of the UN Security Council. The objective is to prosecute serious crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal is located in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The ICTY indicted 161 persons, of whom the last two Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic were arrested in 2011. The ICTY has completed 81 cases, and is expected to conclude its work in 2014.

Additional Notes:

The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.

Successes of ICTY:
-       "Spearheading the shift from impunity to accountability"- in the face of reluctance by prosecutors in Yugoslavia to take up these cases.
-       "Establishing the facts"
-       "Bringing justice to thousands of victims and giving them a voice"
-       "The accomplishments in international law"- fleshing out concepts of international criminal law
-       "Strengthening the Rule of Law"

Undoubtedly, the Tribunal’s work has had a major impact on the states of the former Yugoslavia. Simply by removing some of the most senior and notorious criminals and holding them accountable the Tribunal has been able to lift the taint of violence, contribute to ending impunity and help pave the way for reconciliation.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Sculpture: Gandhara and Mathura Schools of Art

Reproduced from: 

Gandhara art,  style of Buddhist visual art developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century bce and the 7th century ce. The style, of Greco-Roman origin,  flourished largely during the Kushan dynasty and was contemporaneous with another school of Kushan art at Mathura.

Gandhara region had long been a crossroads of cultural influences. During the reign of the Indian emperor Ashoka (3rd century bce), the region became the scene of intensive Buddhist missionary activity. And in the 1st century ce, rulers of the Kushan empire, maintained contacts with Rome. In its interpretation of Buddhist legends, the Gandhara school incorporated many motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art, including vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs. The basic iconography, however, remained Indian.

The materials used for Gandhara sculpture were green phyllite and gray-blue mica schist, and stucco. The sculptures were originally painted and gilded. The Gandhara school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religionand represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues. The Gandhara depiction of the seated Buddha was less successful.

The schools of Gandhara and Mathura each independently evolved its own characteristic depiction of the Buddha about the 1st century ce. Nonetheless the schools influenced each other, and the general trend was away from a naturalistic conception and toward a more idealized, abstract image. 

Mathurā art,  was a style of Buddhist visual art that flourished in the trading and pilgrimage centre of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India, from the 2nd century bc to the 12th century ad. Its most distinctive contributions were made during the Kushān and Gupta periods (1st–6th century ad). The material used was the spotted red sandstone from the nearby Sīkri quarries. The fact that these statues are found widely distributed over north central India, attest to Mathurā’s importance as an exporter of sculpture.

The Mathurā images are related to the earlier yaka (male nature deity) figures, a resemblance particularly evident in the colossal standing Buddha images of the early Kushān period. In these, and in the more representative seated Buddhas, the overall effect is one of enormous energy. The shoulders are broad, the chest swells, and the legs are firmly planted with feet spaced apart. Other characteristics are the shaven head; the uṣṇīa (protuberance on the top of the head) indicated by a tiered spiral; a round smiling face; the right arm raised in abhaya-mudrā (gesture of reassurance); the left arm akimbo or resting on the thigh; the drapery closely molding the body and arranged in folds over the left arm, leaving the right shoulder bare; and the presence of the lion throne rather than the lotus throne. Later, the hair began to be treated as a series of short flat spirals lying close to the head, the type that came to be the standard representation throughout the Buddhist world.

Jaina and Hindu images of the period are carved in the same style, and the images of the Jaina Tīrthakaras, or saints, are difficult to distinguish from contemporary images of the Buddha, except by reference to iconography. 

The dynastic portraits produced by the Mathurā workshops are of special interest. These rigidly frontal figures of Kushān kings are dressed in Central Asian fashion, with belted tunic, high boots, and conical cap, a style of dress also used for representations of the Hindu sun god, Sūrya.

The female figures at Mathura, carved in high relief on the pillars and gateways of both Buddhist and Jaina monuments, are frankly sensuous in their appeal. These delightful nude or seminude figures are shown in a variety of toilet (shringar) scenes or in association with trees, indicating their continuance of the yakī (female nature deity) tradition. As auspicious emblems of fertility and abundance they commanded a popular appeal that persisted with the rise of Buddhism.

Integrated Check-Post Project

The ICP project, is part of the government of India's initiative for better border management to put in place systems which address both security concerns, as well as facilitate cross-border trade and commerce.

An ICP is envisaged to discharge sovereign functions of security checking, immigration, customs and quarantine. It will also have facilities for smooth cross-border movement of persons, goods and transport like dedicated passenger and cargo terminal, service stations, fuel stations etc. An institutional framework viz. Land Ports Authorities of India (LPAI) will be established and charged with the responsibility to undertake the construction, management and maintenance of ICPs. 2

The 11th Plan provided for an initial outlay of Rs.635  crore during the plan period to set up 13 ICPs on the borders between India and Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar. Recently FinMin Chindambaram laid the foundation stone of ICP at the India-Bangladesh international border. The setting up of the ICP would augment trade relations and tourism and result in rapid multiplication of the bilateral trade volume. Seven of the 13 ICPs will be set up on the India-Bangladesh border. This is also a sign of improving relations and future prospects of trade between the two neighbours.

RBIs Draft New Banking Guidelines (Sep 2011)

1.    Eligible promoters should have diversified ownership, sound credentials and integrity and a successful track record of at least ten years.
2.    The RBI has barred groups having an exposure even of 10 per cent (by way of assets or income or both) in real estate and/or broking activities over the past three years. Evidently, these sectors are ‘speculative' in nature and the business model adopted in such businesses will be ‘misaligned' with that required by a bank.
3.    Corporate structure: New banks will be set only through a wholly-owned non-operative holding company (NOHC), which will be registered with the RBI as a non-banking finance company. All financial activities of the promoter group will come under the NOHC. The idea is to ring fence the financial interests of the group from its other business activities and give a measure of protection to the bank's depositors.
4.    The minimum capital requirement will be Rs.500 crore.
5.    Corporate governance: At least 50 per cent of the directors of the NOHC should be independent directors.
6.    The business model should propose how the bank proposes to achieve financial inclusion. The bank should have a fourth of its branches in unbanked rural areas.
7.    RBI will get necessary powers for extensive supervision.

Tin Bigha Corridor

The Tin Bigha Corridor is a strip of land formerly belonging to India on the West Bengal- Bangladesh border which has been leased indefinitely to Bangladesh so that it can access its Dahagram–Angarpota enclaves.There is ongoing dispute regarding use of this land by anti-India forces and illegal immigrants to cross over into India which Bangladesh vehemently denies. This Corridor was opened to Bangladesh for transit only in 1992.1 Presently the corridor is controlled by the BSF and a 12-hour access is allowed. In the forthcoming visit of PM Singh to Bangladesh an agreement on 24-hr access to the corridor is to be signed.
The issue of exchanging enclaves has been discussed since independence. In 1958, there was an official agreement to exchange all of the enclaves in the Nehru-Noon Accords, though deteriorating relations between East Pakistan and India and a series of court cases in India prevented this from being implemented. Another attempt to resolve the enclave issue was mounted in 1974 under the Indira-Mujib Accords. The accords make specific provisions to exchange all of the enclaves with the exception of AGDH and Berubari Union, a disputed area along the border with Jalpaiguri. As the Accords have it: "India will retain the southern half of South Berubari Union No.12 … in exchange Bangladesh will retain the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves. India will lease in perpetuity to Bangladesh an area … to connect Dahagram with … Bangladesh."

This agreement, too, remains only partially fulfilled. While Bangladesh ceded South Berubari shortly after the agreement was signed, the corridor only opened 18 years later. There is hope that in the forthcoming visit of PM Singh this issue too will be resolved.2

FYI: A comprehensive article on Tin Bigha Corridor, its politics, the problems of the enclaves and special position of the Angarpota-Dahagram enclave can be read at


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Rome Statute (ICC)

Rome Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome in 1998 and entered into force in 2002.  The statute establishes the court's functions, jurisdiction and structure. As of Aug 2011, 117 states have become party to the statute. In 2012 the ICC is also celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based international criminal court. The ICC is an independent international organisation, and is not part of the United Nations system, but maintains a cooperative relationship with the UN. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.

Under the Rome Statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. The treaty entered into force on 1 July 2002;[10] the ICC can only prosecute crimes committed on or after that date. There are 18 judges.

According to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor can initiate an investigation on the basis of a referral from any State Party or from the United Nations Security Council. In addition, the Prosecutor can initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court received from individuals or organisations (“communications”). Investigations and prosecutions are being initiated in cases from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Darfur, and Kenya


Thailand- Cambodia border dispute

There is a long-running border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over territory in the vicinity of Preah Vihear, a temple complex dating from the 11th century. 

In 1959 the dispute was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ruled that the area in the vicinity of Preah Vihear was part of Cambodian territory. Thailand accepts Cambodia's sovereignty over Preah Vihear. However land surrounding the temple remains in dispute. This assumes importance because the geography of the area is such that the most easily accessible entrance to the temple complex is in Thailand. 

In 2007 Cambodia applied for the temple complex to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple complex was listed despite formal objections from Thailand. Tension between the two countries mounted.  In July 2008, Thailand and Cambodia moved troops into the disputed area.  Several incidents followed, and troops exchanged fire in October 2008, and more recently in Feb- April 2011. Thousands have been displaced in this conflict.

Both Cambodia and Thailand wrote to the Security Council in 2008 following the escalation of tension in July 2008 and more recently in 2011. Eventually both sides have agreed to discuss the issue bilaterally. 

In July 2011, The International Court of Justice issued a series of provisional measures. The two states were ordered to refrain from engaging in further fighting in the area, immediately withdraw all troops and establish a demilitarised zone of approximately 4.5 miles by 2.5 miles along the border. Thailand was further ordered not to obstruct Cambodia’s access to Preah Vihear and both states were ordered to allow observers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations into the demilitarised zone.3

The dispute has become a rallying point of nationalism in both countries. Nationalist movements in both Thailand and Cambodia have stressed the importance of claiming the Preah Vihear temple for their own countries. 2

Also, the dispute occurred at a time when Thailand was holding national elections. In this situation, the dispute raised concerns in Thailand of a resurgence of military and cancellation of polls. However the polls were held and Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra won. (The military has since announced that it would not interfere in the Government’s work).


Problems of the Tea Industry

 The ‘Tea Board’ is the apex organisation looking after all matters concerning tea. The major areas of concern in the tea industry are:
1.    Rising costs of inputs like fertilizers, pesticides,
2.    Labour costs constitute 60% of costs , and the acute labour shortage is hitting the industry hard.
3.    Old age of the tea-bush has resulted in decreasing productivity
4.    Lack of easy credit- this affects acquiring new technology
5.    Lack of proper infrastructure like roads linking remote gardens
6.    Sick and closed gardens, labour unrest
7.    Global warming and climate change has resulted in erratic weather patterns
8.    Lack of integration of supply-chain elements means returns do not trickle down to producers

New Strategy planned by the Tea Board
1.    Provide incentives to farmers for practicing  precision-farming techniques- which will result in quality enhancement
2.    Encourage nurseries for high yielding clones
3.    Empowering small growers through SHGs
4.    Energy conservation through energy-efficient machines, adoption of renewable energy
5.    Mechanization to help deal with labour shortage
6.    Linking of NREGA to agriculture fields
7.    Investments contemplated in organic tea, organized sector
8.    Promotion of tea as a health drink

Reference: Business Standard, 31st August 2011

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Green India Mission


WHAT   - It is one of the 8 missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
-       Aims at doubling the area of afforestation area to 20 million hectares
-       Increase the GHG removals by India’s forests to 6.35% of total GHG emissions by 2020
-       Enhance the resilience of forests/ecosystems- to improve groundwater recharge, biodiversity value, minor forest produce- which will also support forest-dependent communities.
-       Stress on improving quality of forests and not just quantity. Thus increase cover and density of medium and degraded forests.
-       Take a holistic view of forests to consider biodiversity conservation and enhancement, restore ecosystems of grasslands, mangroves, wetlands. It is not confined to traditional plantation forestry method that
-       Active participation of local communities in conservation and afforestation.
-       Engage citizens and civil society in designing the Mission.

National Consultation Document on National Mission for Green India, June 2011, MoEF