Today’s News Updates -9.February 2018

Kailash Yatra via Nathu La to resume

China has confirmed restarting of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La pass.

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra:

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) is known for its religious importance, cultural significance and arduous nature. The annual pilgrimage holds religious importance for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. The Yatra is organized by the government of India in close cooperation with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. State Governments of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Delhi, and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (KMVN) are other major Indian partners of the Ministry in organizing the Yatra.

Facts for Prelims:

Mansarovar Lake is located at an altitude of 14,950 ft (4,558 m) is said to be the highest freshwater lake in the world. It is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China, 940 kilometres from Lhasa. To the west of it is Lake Rakshastal and to the north is Mount Kailash.

Nathu La is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It is also one of the four officially agreed BPM (Border Personnel Meeting) points between the Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies, which helps in defusing stand-offs.

The four BPM are: Chushul in Ladakh, Nathu La in Sikkim, Bum La Pass in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, and Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand.


Separate Flag For Karnataka

A committee formed by the Karnataka government has recommended a separate flag for the state, discounting any constitutional or legal hurdles for it. The proposed state flag will be a tricolour yellow, white and red, with the state’s emblem at the centre.

What next?

The state government will now seek an amendment to enable provisions of including the Karnataka flag as one of the symbols in the Flag Code. If the Centre gives its nod to the said amendment, Karnataka will be the second state in the country to have its own flag after Jammu and Kashmir, which is allowed the same under Article 370 of the Constitution.

Are states permitted to have their own flags?

In S.R. Bommai v/s Union of India (Supreme Court 1994) case, the Supreme Court has declared that federalism is a basic feature of the Constitution and States are supreme in their sphere. This being the Constitutional position, there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the State flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag. It has to be always below the national flag. The national flag code specifically authorises use of other flags subject to the regulation by the court. So, State flag is not unauthorised.

Is Karnataka’s move justified?

All the 50 States in the U.S. have separate and distinct flags, apart from the national flag. In the U.K., the political units of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own flags without offending or affecting the integrity of the U.K. Karnataka is justified and constitutionally empowered to adopt its own flag to uphold the pride of the State without infringing the law. Democracy and federalism are essential features of the Constitution and are part of its basic structure. It is the democratic right of Karnataka to assert its identity through a separate name, emblem and flag.

Maldives’ ongoing political crisis

The Maldives is engulfed in a deepening political crisis, as the introduction of a state of emergency decree across the holiday islands prompted heavily-armed troops to storm the country’s top court and arrest a former president.


Ever since President Yameen came to power in 2013, he has been jailing almost all the political opposition. The island nation has been witnessing political unrest and street protests since former president Nasheed was convicted in 2015 on terror charges and sentenced to 13 years in jail. He was later allowed to go to Britain for medical treatment in January 2016. He has lived in exile since and is currently in Sri Lanka.

What happened now?

The Maldivian Supreme Court had last week ordered the immediate release of former president Mohamed Nasheed and other opposition leaders. The Court had also ordered the government to restore the seats of 12 legislators sacked for defecting from Mr Yameen’s party, giving the opposition the majority in the assembly which would mean that they could potentially impeach the president.

However, President Yameen refused to comply the top court’s orders, despite growing international pressure and concern, leading to declaration of Emergency in Maldives.

How has the world reacted?

Both former leaders of the Maldives, Nasheed and Gayoom, have called on India to force Yameen to release the recently jailed high court judges and political prisoners. While intervention from New Delhi would certainly be unusual, it is not unprecedented. India sent troops to the Maldives in 1988 to foil a coup.

Alongside India, the U.S. and the U.K. have both urged Yameen to honor the rule of law and free the detainees. Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) human rights chief has warned that Yameen’s state of emergency decree, which had been used to imprison perceived political opponents, was undermining the checks and balances necessary in any functioning democracy.

Facts for Prelims:

Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to the Addu City in the south.
Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population. It is the world’s lowest country, with even its highest natural point being the lowest in the world.
The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep.



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