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India calls for laws to ensure open access to space for all nations

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United Nations: As a space-faring nation, India has called for strengthening international laws to protect open access for all countries to space.

“India supports strengthening the international legal regime to protect and preserve access to space for all and to prevent without exception the weaponisation of outer space,” DB Venkatesh Varma, India’s permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, told a General Assembly Committee on disarmament issues.

“As a major space-faring nation, India has vital developmental and security interest in space,” he said.

Stressing India’s interest in ensuring that international treaties do not monopolize the power of a few nations, he said, “discussions on a draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities should be inclusive, covering all space-faring nations to ensure a product of universal acceptance adopted by consensus and through a process anchored in the UN.”

In a broad-ranging speech laying out India’s position on disarmament issues, Varma reiterated the crux of India’s nuclear policy, “as a responsible nuclear power, India’s nuclear doctrine continues to stress a policy of credible minimum deterrence with a posture of no-first-use and a non-use against non-nuclear states. We remain committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.”

He said that increasing the restraints on use of nuclear weapons is “not only an essential first step, it is also necessary in the current complex international environment”.

Varma said that complete elimination of nuclear weapons can be achieved through “a step by step process” that is global and non-discriminatory. “All states possessing nuclear weapons can make a contribution by engaging in a meaningful dialogue to build trust and confidence by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrine,” he said.

US Assistant Secretary for Arms Control Frank Rose said that a “full-spectrum” pragmatic approach was necessary to reach the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world, to which Washington was committed.

He criticized proposals for outright ban on nuclear weapons, which could not succeed because they failed to recognize the need to develop the necessary verification capabilities and build the security conditions. Instead, he said, it risked creating a very unstable security environment where miscalculations could escalate crises and even lead to the possible use of a nuclear weapon.

Rose said that nuclear deterrence and disarmament were complementary because both aimed at preventing the use of nuclear weapons. Deterrence sought to constrain threats as countries worked to reduce nuclear weapons and shore-up efforts to prevent further proliferation, he added.

Varma raised the threat of terrorists getting access to weapons of mass destruction and said the international community should continue to exercise utmost vigilance.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) were examples of “global non-discriminatory treaties for the complete elimination” of the weapons of mass destruction of those types, he said.

“India has completed its obligations on stockpile destruction under the CWC,” he said, adding timely destruction by other state parties of the remaining stockpiles is critical for upholding the convention’s credibility and integrity.

Varma noted India’s contribution to the efforts by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

On the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which India has not signed, Varma said New Delhi was continuing to review it “from the perspective of our defense, security and foreign policy interests”.

India’s main concern over the ATT centers on what New Delhi considers its weakness in dealing with terrorists and non-state actors, and unilateral powers it could confer on arms exporters.

Speaking at last week’s committee session, Wang Qun, the director-general of China’s Arms Control Department, brought up cyber-security, the next frontier in international confrontations, and suggested adoption of an international code of conduct on cyberspace that calls for peaceful resolution of disputes in this area and it was used for only peace and security activities.

Stretching it a step further, he said the code should also ensure that nations should not interfere in the internal affairs of others.

If there were no international rules governing cyberspace or outer space, the world “incurred risks of the law of the jungle”, Wang said.

(Arul Louis,IANS)

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Why Is India Still carrying The Social Stigma Of Women Infanticide?

The matter of female infanticide is something that has deeply touched our heart and we feel it as our prime agenda to raise our voice against it

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Female Infanticide has been going on for many years and has resulted in the deaths of countless girl foetuses. Wikimedia Commons
Female Infanticide has been going on for many years and has resulted in the deaths of countless girl foetuses. Wikimedia Commons
  • A lot of social evils which have disgraced our history are still very much prevalent
  • Female infanticide is known to be the intentional killing of female just-born owing to people preferring male just-born
  • In China and India alone, an estimated 2,000,000 baby girls go “missing” each year

Even after so many years of independence, we are not in a position to call our country a superpower. It is not hard to believe this because in an independent country like ours exist horrific acts like the merciless killing of the girl child. A lot of social evils which have disgraced our history are still very much prevalent. The matter of female infanticide is something that has deeply touched our heart and we feel it as our prime agenda to raise our voice against it.

Female infanticide is known to be the intentional killing of female just-born owing to people preferring male just-born. This has been going on for many years and has resulted in the deaths of countless girl foetuses. People are of the opinion that the girl child is inferior to the male child and this is clearly reflected in the fact that in many parts of the world, women are still not given a status equivalent to that of men. This is no doubt the highest level of brutality and the most destructive kind of bias existing in our country and in many other countries.

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A direct proof of these facts comes from UNICEF which in its recent report concluded that 50 million girls and women are missing from the population of India because of this bias. As a matter of fact, in most countries for every 100 male births, there are approximately 105 female births. In our country, the 105 comes straight down to 93! This owes itself to 2000 odd abortions which happen illegally all over the country daily. Our people are of the opinion that only sons can provide income for the family. The system of dowry is still prevalent in some parts of the country. All these reasons have their roots in cultural beliefs of families and if female infanticide is to be stopped, then these beliefs have got to be challenged.

The government has initiated a lot of programmes to bring about a change in the attitude of people and stop these kinds of social evils. Wikimedia Commons
The government has initiated a lot of programmes to bring about a change in the attitude of people and stop these kinds of social evils. Wikimedia Commons

In countries with a history of female infanticide, the modern practice of sex-selective abortion is often discussed as a closely related issue. In several nations such as China, India and Pakistan, female infanticide remains to be a major cause of concern. It has been argued that the “low status” in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females. The practice of female infanticide is found dominant among the indigenous peoples of Australia, Northern Alaska and South Asia, which seems to be “almost universal”, even in the West.

In 1990, Amartya Sen writes in the New York Review of Books estimated that there were 100 million fewer women in Asia that would be expected and that this amount of “missing” women “tells us, quietly, a terrible story of inequality and neglect leading to the excess mortality of women.”  Initially, the Sen’s suggestion of gender bias was contested and it was suggested that hepatitis B was the cause of the alteration in the natural sex ratio.

Also Read: Padman Review: Social Issue Presented Right

The numerical worldwide deficit in women is widely accepted due to gender-specific abortions, infanticide and neglect. Before Islamic culture became established in Arabic country in the seventh-century, female infanticide was widely practised.  According to scholars, the fact was attributed that women were deemed “property” within those societies. Some speculated that some women wanted to prevent their daughters from a life of misery, and thus would kill the child. But with the introduction of Islamic rule, the practice was made illegal.

People in India are of the opinion that only sons can provide income for the family. Wikimedia Commons
People in India are of the opinion that only sons can provide income for the family. Wikimedia Commons

In India, dowry system is one given reason for female infanticide; over a time period spanning centuries, it has become embedded within Indian culture. Although, there are several steps taken to abolish the dowry system but the practice still persists. For the rural families, female infanticide and gender-selective abortion are attributed to the fear of being unable to raise a suitable dowry and then being socially boycotted.

In 1789, during the time of British colonial rule in India, the Britishers discovered that female infanticide in Uttar Pradesh was openly acknowledged. A study by the scholars shows that the majority of female infanticides in India during the colonial period occurred for the most part in the North West. However, not all the groups were involved in this practice it was widespread. It was only after a thorough investigation by the colonial authorities in 1870 that the practice was made illegal.

Also Read: 7 new-age social issues in India that need a check

Some age-old practices seem to be deeply rooted in the Indian culture and making India undergoing a type of “female genocide”. As per one of the reports of the United Nations, India stands out to be the most deadly country for female children, and that in 2012 female children aged between 1 and 5 were 75 percent more likely to die as opposed to boys. One of the children’s rights group called CRY has acknowledged that of 12 million females born yearly in India 1 million will have died within their first year of life. According to the United Nations, there could be a possibility of such a severe crisis that less number of females will lead to a sharp increase in sexual violence.  A consequence of this will be a complete deterioration of social values. This practice of deselecting females is mainly due to factors like religion, economic factors and socio-cultural factors.

In several nations such as China, India and Pakistan, female infanticide remains to be a major cause of concern. Wikimedia Commons
In several nations such as China, India and Pakistan, female infanticide remains to be a major cause of concern. Wikimedia Commons

The economic factor arises from the belief that sons will provide economic stability to the family by earning wages, providing farm labour for family business and support parents during old age. People tend to think that after marriage, a son brings a female addition to the family who provides help in household work as well as dowry payment brings some sort of an economic advantage.

Coming to the socio-cultural factor, it is believed that having at least one male child is essential to continue the familial line and the respect of a family in the society is proportional to the number of male children in it. According to a certain Hindu tradition, only sons are permitted perform the funeral of their parents which assists in the attainment of salvation for the deceased.

Also Read: Today’s Social Issues and their Answers to Children

The government has initiated a lot of programmes to bring about a change in the attitude of people and stop these kinds of social evils by introducing various laws, schemes and acts which favour the education of the girl-child, equal rights and equal property share. In spite of all these steps taken, there is much left to be desired.

In China and India alone, an estimated 2,000,000 baby girls go “missing” each year. They are selectively aborted, killed as newborns, or abandoned and left to die. Other countries with similar cultural traditions, who have also faced this problem are South Korea and Nepal. The root causes of female infanticide are similar but not exactly the same in Confucian countries like China and South Korea, versus predominantly Hindu countries such as India and Nepal.