What’s Going On In France: Free Speech, Murder & International Reactions

What's Going On In France: Free Speech, Murder & International Reactions

The recent killing of a teacher for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammed has sparked the debate over religious extremism and freedom of expression in France, which has witnessed similar events in recent past.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Incident
Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher in Paris, was beheaded on 16 October. The crime was done by Abdullakh Anzorov, an18-year-old refugee student born in Chechnya (Republic in southwestern Russia).

Anzorov was shot dead by police after he attempted an assault on the police officers who went to arrest him.

Reason

  • Paty arranged a class on freedom of speech.
  • Showed teenagers a caricature of Prophet Muhammad published in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine – depiction of Allah or Prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam.
  • Paty reportedly asked the Muslim students to leave the classroom if they didn’t wish to see the cartoons.
  • Several parents demanded his resignation afterwards.
  • Paty also became target of social media hate campaign afterward.
  • 16 October: Anzorov beheaded Paty (10 days after his class).

About The Charlie Hebdo Magazine

  • Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine in France.
  • Attacked thrice: 2011, 2015, and 2020.
  • 2015 attacks were the worst as 12 people including cartoonists of the Magazine were killed.
  • September 2020: Knife attacks at former headquarters as it re-published its cartoons on Prophet.
  • All 3 attacks occurred after publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is banned in Islam.

Reaction

  • French Government has launched a crackdown on several organizations potentially linked with Islamist extremism.
  • Mass rallies occurred across France with the slogan “Je suis enseignant” (I am a teacher).
  • 10 people have been arrested so far. 231 people having extremist religious views would be allegedly deported.
  • Several French mosques have openly condemned the attacks. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the attack but also condemned the “blasphemous” cartoons against Prophet.

Macron Reaction

  • France President Emmanuel Macron stated that Paty was a “victim of a typical Islamist terrorist attack”. He also defended French Laïcité (secularism) and freedom of speech (especially cartoon culture).
  • 2 weeks before the incident, Macron had claimed that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today” over alleged extremism rise. However, he lamented inadequate work done for the betterment of immigrants, and said “we have not sufficiently created diversity, or ensured economic and social mobility”.

International Tussle

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Macron’s response, saying “Macron needs treatment on a mental level”.
  • Turkey, Kuwait, and Qatar have initiated a boycott of French goods.
  • Mentioned countries have been slammed by critics for speaking against cartoons but maintaining silence against Uighur Muslims in China. More than 1 million Uighurs are held in detention camps, with cases of forced labour and organ harvesting being reported.

Curiopedia
  • France has the most number of time zones (12), mostly due to the various territories it controls around the world. They range from French Polynesia (10 hours behind UTC) to the islands of Wallis and Futuna (12 hours ahead of UTC).
  • ‘Je Suis Charlie’ which means ‘I am Charlie’ became the rallying cry for all the supporters of freedom of speech and freedom of Media after the 2015 attacks.
  • Stéphane Charbonnier was a French satirical caricaturist and journalist. He was assassinated by Islamic terrorists during the Charlie Hebdo shooting on 7 January 2015.
  • Satire is a genre of literature and performing arts in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm —“in satire, irony is militant”, according to literary critic Northrup Frye.

Centre V/S State In India Part 2: Farm Bills

Centre V/S State In India Part 2: Farm Bills

Recent Farm Bills passed by the Government have opened arena for a Centre vs State tussle, as the state of Punjab has come up with its own Bills to nullify the ones passed in the Parliament.

Crux of the Matter

Punjab Farm Bills
3 Farm bills were recently passed in Punjab, governed by the Congress party. These Bills would nullify the Farm Laws recently passed by the Central Government to some extent.

Interestingly, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rejected the Bill. SAD was an ally of the BJP before separating over disagreements in the Farm Laws.

Centre Laws
Central Government recently passed Farm Laws which:

  • Allow farmers to sell outside the state-regulated Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC).
  • Allow stockpiling of several crops.
  • No provision of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers selling outside APMC mandis to private traders.

For more comprehensive coverage of the Farm Laws read: New Farm Bills In India: Features And Impact

So What Did Punjab Do?
Punjab has passed Bills to nullify the Central laws in the state with following provisions:

  • 3 years imprisonment for traders for “compelling” farmers to sell below the MSP.
  • Private traders would now come under APMC regulations and would have to pay market fees.
  • Punjab Govt may impose limits on stockpiling and decide what comes in the “essential” category.

Issues
The Bills require the approval of the Governor. Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha, has claimed that the Governor has the following options with the Bills:

  • Give or withhold assent.
  • Send bill for consideration to the President of India, who may approve or reject, or even withhold the Bills “indefinitely”.

Kashyap claimed that approval from the Governor is “unlikely”. Moreover, the Bills have been criticized as the Minimum Support Price ‘legal protection’ is applicable only for Wheat and Paddy crops.

We understand these bills require assent from the President to take shape of laws, and we are not very sure about that. We may have to approach the Supreme Court to implement the bills passed by the state assembly.

Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food And Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab
Curiopedia
  • P. Ayyakannu is a lawyer and farmer born in Tamil Nadu. He is famously known widely throughout India for his protest against the central government at New Delhi, demanding the agricultural loan in cooperative banks to be abandoned. 
  • The breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government in 2011 on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act.

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Maharashtra withdrawing its general consent from allowing CBI to investigate into the state has initiated a ‘Centre vs State‘ debate concerning the organization, which has witnessed similar conflicts in the past for several reasons.

Crux of the Matter

Maharashtra Government recently withdrew the ‘general consent’ for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Consequently, the CBI now requires the permission of the Maharashtra State Government to enter the state and investigate.

The case of Maharashtra is an addition to the Centre versus State conflicts regarding CBI. Several states have withdrawn consent in the past, which include Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc.

Reason For Withdrawal
Uttar Pradesh swiftly transferred a TRP fixing case filed in the state to CBI. The move came days after Maharashtra police filed an FIR against Republic TV for TRP rigging. As per analysis of Shekhar Gupta, founder of The Print:

  • TRPs is not state-specific.
  • CBI, investigating TRP case in UP, could have made it “an inter-state case”.
  • CBI could have then taken over “related FIRs in all states” – including Maharashtra.
  • Maharashtra Govt reportedly wants to handle the Republic TV case by itself.

TRP Scandal Timeline

  • Mumbai Police announced involvement alleged involvement of Republic TV in a TRP scam. The announcement came on the basis on complaint by Hansa research group to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
  • Notably, Republic found complaint of Hansa and claimed that no mention of Republic was there and that India Today was mentioned.
  • Mumbai Police filed an FIR against Republic journalists and editorial team for inciting “disaffection” towards police.
    Mumbai Police recently announced owners of Republic TV, News Nation and Maha Movie as accused in TRP scam.
  • Days after Maharashtra police filed FIR against Republic TV for alleged TRP rigging, another FIR was filed, reportedly on behest of an ad company promoter in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. UP govt referred the case to CBI.

CBI ‘Consent’
CBI was established in 1963 and is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

  • Section 6 of the Act: Consent of state Government mandatory for investigating in that state.
  • 2 types of consent: General and Case-specific.
  • General consent: Facilitates smooth investigation in cases concerning Central Government employees in the state. All other cases required case-specific consent.

Impact Of Withdrawal

  • All cases (whether against Central Government employee or any private individual/organization) now require state consent.
  • CBI officers “lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them”.
  • Doesn’t apply on existing cases.
  • No consent required if any High Court or the Supreme Court directs CBI investigation.
  • CBI can still investigate cases involving people from such states if it files case outside that state.

Why Withdraw Consent?
State Governments withdraw General consent after alleging “loss of faith” in the organization, and allege unfair use by Central Government to target State Governments. The Central Government, on the other hand, claims that State Governments withdraw consent to conceal their own corruption and malpractices.

State Of West Bengal V/S Centre: The Case Of CBI

  • November 2018: West Bengal withdrew General consent from CBI.
  • February 2019: CBI went to question then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar – reportedly went without an order from Court. Kumar investigated the Saradha chit fund scam.
  • CBI blamed State police for ‘destruction of evidence’ in the scam.
  • State Police detained CBI officials instead of letting them question Kumar, and released them after questioning.
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Kumar’s house.
  • Banerjee later sat on ‘Dharna’ (non-compliant demonstration) against the CBI.
  • Finally, the Supreme Court directed Rajeev Kumar to appear before CBI in Shillong (a neutral place). It also directed that no “coercive action” (arrest) should be taken against Kumar by CBI.
Curiopedia
  • P. Ayyakannu is a lawyer and farmer born in Tamil Nadu. He is famously known widely throughout India for his protest against the central government at New Delhi, demanding the agricultural loan in cooperative banks to be abandoned. 
  • The breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government in 2011 on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act.

Mystery Behind Covid-19 Free Trump

Mystery Behind Covid-19 Free Trump

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19. However, within 9 days, he became virus-free. What made a 74-year-old man, recover so fast when the pandemic has already taken 119K+ lives globally?

Crux of the Matter

Antibody Cocktail By Regeneron
After returning to the White House, Trump posted a video on Twitter, stating that it was a “blessing from God” that he had been infected with Covid-19 and that drug maker, Regeneron’s antibody treatment containing 2 monoclonal antibodies, had made him feel “better than he felt 23 years ago”.

What Is An Antibody?
They are the “search-and-destroy” force of the immune system. These Y-shaped proteins bind like a lock-and-key to the body’s foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. They can be gathered from the blood of recovered patients, or manufactured synthetically in a lab.

What About Monoclonal Antibody?
Also called ‘biologic’ or mAb/moAb, it is an antibody made by cloning a single, unique white blood cell. When it comes to Covid-19, it prevents the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, from attaching to the body’s cells to infect them. They are used to treat serious diseases ranging from cancer, eczema, and arthritis.

Best Antibody GIFs | Gfycat

Monoclonal v/s Plasma Treatment
Convalescent plasma is a mixture of different antibodies, that target multiple sites on the virus. Monoclonal antibodies have a high concentration of a single, specific antibody, which makes them more potent than the former. Though both provide help to achieve passive immunity.

Now What Is Passive Immunity?
It is a shortcut to creating an immune defense i.e a person acquiring antibodies from an external source, for a disease, rather than producing them through his or her own immune system (active immunity). Eg: An infant receives a mother’s antibodies through the placenta or breast milk.

What Do Experts Have To Say?
Dr. Peter Chin, a disease specialist at U.C.S.F. Health in San Francisco, said that Mr. Trump is experiencing the effects of the ‘steroid dexamethasone’, which is known to reduce fever and can create feelings of well-being and euphoria in patients.

Will It Be Effective On A Larger Scale?
Like any other drug, Regeneron cocktail must be proved in large clinical trials that compare the outcomes of people, who received the dose with those who received simply a placebo. Those trials are yet to complete.

FDA and Regeneron
Regeneron has now asked the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for emergency authorization to make the drug available, as a part of Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” that promises to come up with viable treatments for COVID-19, in order to help distribute it immediately on availability.

On getting the approval, the drug company would initially start with doses for 50,000 people and hopes to distribute to 300,000 people by the end of the year, which is expected to be provided to Americans for free. The FDA has recently approved the first treatment—Inmazeb from Regeneron—to treat Zaire ebolavirus.

Curiopedia
  • A placebo is a treatment, in which patients perceive their condition and encourage the body’s chemical processes for relieving pain and a few other symptoms, but have no impact on the disease itself.  The use of placebos in clinical medicine raises ethical concerns, especially if they are disguised as an active treatment, as this introduces dishonesty into the doctor–patient relationship and bypasses informed consent. 
  • The Curse of Tippecanoe is the supposed pattern of deaths in office of presidents of the United States elected in years that are evenly divisible by 20, from 1840 to 1960. The presidents fitting this description were William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. 
  • Trump Tower is a 58-floor, 202m tall mixed-use skyscraper at Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Trump Tower serves as the headquarters for the Trump Organization.

What Is The Quad?

What Is The Quad?

Quad is a quadrilateral security alliance formed by India, Japan, Australia and US. Recently, on India’s invitation, Australia agreed to join the Quad’s flagship Malabar naval exercise. Let’s have a look at how was Quad formed, what are its purposes and how it will play a role in the geopolitics of creating a multipolar world.

Crux of the Matter

What is Quad?
In 2007 Japan, Australia, the US, and India started an informal strategic forum among themselves called the Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD). They organize semi-regular summits, information exchanges, and military drills. Diplomatically, as experts say, it is formed to counter the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2008, the Quad alliance stopped as then Australian President Kevin Rudd withdrew Australia. However, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, four countries renegotiated to resume the Quad alliance. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe intended for the Quad to establish an “Asian Arc of Democracy”. Quad countries are also members of the Malabar Naval Exercise that has also become its flagship military drill.

Role Of Malabar Exercise
In 1992, the Indian and the US Navies initiated Malabar Naval Exercise as part of a bilateral treaty. While the Quad was formed in 2007, in which all four nations joined the Malabar drill, Japan became a permanent participant in 2015. Considering China’s increasing muscle in the Indo-Pacific, Australia has been showing a keen interest in becoming a permanent member. This year, on India’s invitation Australia will take part in the Malabar Drill.

What Is Quad Plus?
Quad Plus is an alliance of Quad nations with other regional countries. Recently, Quad plus – 4 member nations along with South Korean, New Zealand, and Vietnam – teleconferenced about how to respond to the pandemic and realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. This has led to speculation that the US might invite South Korea to join Quad.

There is no policy for expansion of the Quad, though the group is a still somewhat undefined entity in and of itself.

Steve BiegunUS Deputy Secretary of State

Speaking on speculation of the US inviting S. Korea to the Quad, an Indian Foreign Ministry official was of the opinion that India should be at the driver’s seat because the US may resort to forming alliances as per its old template. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, has been emphasizing India’s stand on a Multipolar world, where more than one superpower exists.

Where Is China In All This?
China is a major trade partner for all Quad members. It has already started targeting one of the Quad members – Australia – on the trade front. First, China put a high tariff on barley when Australia asked for an investigation into the emergence of Coronavirus, and now it has increased tariff on cotton coming from Australia. Experts believe that the Quad should not indulge in trade policies or economics because China can then easily pick any nation and target it on trade.

China is also forming one-to-one treaties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. For instance, China is the largest provider of arms to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.

China cannot prevent gatherings of the four countries by exerting diplomatic pressure. But China has had the initiative in its relations with India, Japan, and Australia, with abundant resources to keep them away from the US’ anti-China strategy.

Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times Editorial
Curiopedia
  • Japan and China have been in a water dispute themselves regarding Senkaku/Diaoyus islands. They are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyus in China. Before 2020, the last crisis took place in 2012 when Japan nationalized the islands as they were privately owned then. A dispute between China and Japan could get heightened as the USA is obliged to defend Japan if it comes under a foreign attack according to Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty.
  • In the month of July, relations between Australia and China escalated when China imposed 80.5% tariffs on barley and banning the import of beef from four major meat processing plants. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and this move has devastated the economy of Australia.
  • India and Japan defense forces organize a series of bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. Whereas India and the USA conduct Joint Military Exercises namely, Yudha Abhyas. Exercises between India and Australia include PitchBlack and AUSINDEX.
  • Singapore has been the only non-permanent member to be a part of the Malabar exercise in the year 2007