Sufism in India: Its origins Main Silsilas and Impact.

The early Sufi mystics stressed on the virtues of repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty and trust in God. The early Sufis were wanderers but in due course of time the Sufi groups had become orders and we notice the formation of Sufi orders or Salsilas.

After the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, many Sufi orders were established in different parts of India and Sufism became very influential by the 14th century.They believed in the equality of all human beings and brotherhood of man. Their concept of universal brotherhood and the humanitarian ideas of the Sufi saints attracted the Indian mind. A movement similar to Sufism, called the Bhakti cult, was already afoot in India on the eve of the Muslim conquest of the country. The liberal-minded Sufis were, therefore, welcomed in India. The Sufi movement proved very helpful in bridging the gap between the followers of the two religions and in bringing the Hindus and the Muslims together.

Three of the most important Silsilas during the period of the Sultanate are as follows:

1. The Suhrawardi Silsila which was founded in India by Shaik Bahauddin Zakaria (AD 1182-1262).After his death in 1236 A.D., his devotees continued to celebrate an annual Urs festival at Ajmer.

2. Nizamuddin Auliya. He led a simple austere life and lived in Delhi. By his vast learning, religious knowledge, and tolerant attitude to all religions, he earned devotion of both the Hindu and Muslim masses.

3. The Chisti Silsila introduced in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, who died in AD 1236. Even today he is venerated by Muslims and his tomb is located at Ajmer, which became a sacred pilgrimage. Besides the above two orders, there existed the orders of the Firdausi, the Qadiri, the Shatauri, Qalandari, etc.

While Sufism reached India in the 12th century A.D, ts influence grew considerably during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In India, Chisti and Suhrawardi Silsila were most prominent.

A critical study of the tenets of Sufism indicates that it was acquainted with Hinduism and Hindu thought and had imbibed certain elements of Indian idealism and adopted many Yogic practices and also was influenced by Upanishadic idealism and Vedanta.

The early Sufis were not only ascetics but also lived a life of voluntary poverty shunning all types of worldly pleasures. Khwaja Fariduddin, popularly known as Baba declared, “The main purpose of this path is the concentration of heart which can be achieved only by the abstination from prohibited means of livelihood and association with kings”. Thus, most of the Sufis in India conceived and preached divine unity in terms of idealistic monoism while many Hindus found the Sufi ideas very similar to those of Vedantic philosophy.

The lower strata of Hindu community appear to be greatly attracted by the ideas of social equality and fraternity of Islam. Thus the simplicity, toleration and liberation of the Sufis in India released syncretic forces and led to a sort of cultural synthesis.

The Sufi movement gained impetus during the reign of Akbar who adopted a liberal religious policy under the influence of the Sufi saints.

Abul Fazal had mentioned the existence of 14 Silsilahs in India. A close link that existed between the leader or Pir and his murids or disciples was a vital element of the Sufi system.

The Sufi Movement in India helped in establishing peace and amity among the Hindus and Muslims.

Impact of Sufism

The liberal ideas and unorthodox principles of Sufism had a profound influence on Indian society. The liberal principles of Sufi sects restrained orthodox. Muslims in their attitude and encouraged many Muslim rulers to pursue tolerant attitude to their non-Muslim subjects. Most Sufi saints preached their teachings in the language of common man that contributed greatly to the evolution of various Indian languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Kashmiri and Hindi. The impact of Sufi Movement was deeply felt on some renowned poets of the period, like Amir Khusrau and Malik Muhammad Jayasi who composed poems in Persian and Hindi in praise of Sufi principles.

Differences between pre-emptive strike, preventive strike, covert and clandestine operations, under cover operations and hot pursuit.

A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived imminent offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (allegedly unavoidable) war shortly before that attack materializes. The term: ‘preemptive war’ is sometimes confused with the term: ‘preventive war’. The difference is that a preventive war is launched to destroy the potential threat of the targeted party, when an attack by that party is not imminent or known to be planned, while a preemptive war is launched in anticipation of immediate aggression by another party.

A covert operation is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit denial by the sponsor.” Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation.

To go “undercover” is to avoid detection by the entity one is observing, and especially to disguise one’s own identity or use an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn or confirm confidential information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals in order to gather information or evidence. Traditionally, it is a technique employed by law enforcement agencies or private investigators, and a person who works in such a role is commonly referred to as an undercover agent. It is a part of covert/clandestine operations.

Covert operations and clandestine operations are distinct. A covert operation differs from a clandestine operation in that emphasis is placed on concealment of identity of sponsor rather than on concealment of the operation itself.”

An overt operation is one conducted openly, without concealment.

In a covert operation, the identity of the sponsor is concealed, while in a clandestine operation the operation itself is concealed. Put differently, clandestine means “hidden,” while covert means “deniable.”

What then is stealth? The term stealth refers to tactics aimed at providing and preserving the element of surprise and reducing enemy resistance; and to a set of technologies (stealth technology) to aid in those tactics. Secrecy and stealthiness are often desired in clandestine and covert operations.

Covert operations are employed in situations where openly operating against a target would be disadvantageous. Covert operations may include sabotage, assassinations, support for coups d’état, or support for subversion. Tactics include the use of a false flag or front group.

Hot pursuit implies pursuit without unreasonable delay and generally is immediate pursuit. It can also refer to chasing a suspect into a neighboring jurisdiction in an emergency, without time to alert law enforcement people in that area.

Now, how do we characterise the Indian army’s killing of the insurgents in Myanmar? It was clandestine and covert till it lasted. It has become overt when declared. Undercover agents must have been active. Stealth, there was. Hot pursuit , it was not as we did not chase them after they ambushed. We took time to plan and execute. Pre-emptive, it was for future militant actions. The question of it being ” preventive” does not arise.

What is Codex Alimentarius? Describe its work.

The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “Book of Food”) is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety.

Its texts are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body that was established in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). World Health Organization (WHO) is associated with it . The Commission’s main goals are to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the World Trade Organization as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection. As of 2012, there were the 186 members.

The Codex Alimentarius covers all foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw. In addition to standards for specific foods, the Codex Alimentarius contains general standards covering matters such as food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, and procedures for assessing the safety of foods derived from modern biotechnology. It also contains guidelines for the management of official i.e. governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods.

* Remember, Maggie Noodles of Nestle is in news for violating food safety rules in Uttar Pradesh.

What is lead poisoning and how is it harmful to humans?

Lead poisoning (also known as plumbism, colica pictorum, saturnism, Devon colic, or painter’s colic) is a type of metal poisoning and a medical condition in humans and other vertebrates caused by increased levels of the heavy metal lead in the body. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.

Routes of exposure to lead include contaminated air, water, soil, food, and consumer products. One of the largest threats to children is lead paint that exists in many homes.Prevention of lead exposure can range from individual efforts (e.g., removing lead-containing items such as piping or blinds from the home) to nationwide policies (e.g., laws that ban lead in products, reduce allowable levels in water or soil, or provide for cleanup and mitigation of contaminated soil, etc.)

Elevated lead in the body can be detected by the presence of changes in blood cells visible with a microscope and dense lines in the bones of children seen on X-ray. No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known sufficiently small amount of lead that will not cause harm to the body.

What is the controversy around Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. Authorities classified MSG as a food ingredient that’s “generally recognized as safe,” but its use remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, it is required that it be listed on the label.

MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. Over the years, many complaints have been received of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG. These reactions — known as MSG symptom complex — include:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Numbness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

However, researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms. Researchers acknowledge, though, that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG. Symptoms are usually mild and don’t require treatment. The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid foods containing MSG.

In May 2015 Food Safety Regulators from the Uttar Pradesh, India found that Maggi 2 Minute Noodles had up to 17 times beyond permissible safe limits of lead in addition to monosodium glutamate in it. On 3 June 2015, New Delhi Government banned the sale of Maggi in New Delhi stores for 15 days because it found lead and monosodium glutamate in the eatable beyond permissible limit.The Gujarat FDA on June 4, 2015 banned the noodles for 30 days after 27 out of 39 samples were detected with objectionable levels of metallic lead, among other things. Some of India’s biggest retailers like Future Group, Big Bazaar, Easyday and Nilgiris have imposed a nationwide ban on Maggi. Thereafter multiple state authorities in India found unacceptable amount of lead and it has been banned in many states in India. On June 4 2015 Govt. Of Tamil Nadu also bans maggi and other four brand noodles due to unacceptable amount of lead and other components.

On June 5, 2015, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ordered recall of all nine approved variants of Maggi instant noodles from India, terming them “unsafe and hazardous” for human consumption.On the same day, Food Safety Agency of United Kingdom launched an investigation to find levels of lead in Maggi noodles. Nepal also indefinitely banned Maggi over concerns about lead levels in the product.

Describe the role and importance of Chief Secretary in State government

In India each state and some Union Territories have Chief Secretaries. Chief Secretary serves as head of all government staff in the state and is the Secretary of the State Cabinet of Ministers. The post of Chief Secretary is encadred within the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), meaning that only an IAS officer may hold this position. The Chief Secretary holds the same rank as a Secretary to the Government of India and the post falls within the “Apex Scale”. Other positions in this payscale are Additional or Special Chief Secretary and Special Secretary to the Government of India. By tradition the seniormost IAS officer of the state cadre is chosen as the Chief Secretary but in many cases this is not so. The Chief Secretary heads the Department of General Administration as well.

Chief Secretary is appointed by the Chief Minister and the Ministers. Importance of the CS can be seen in these landmark Supreme Court judgments. E.P. Royappa (1974) states that “The post of Chief Secretary is a highly sensitive post…[Chief Secretary is a] lynchpin in the administration and smooth functioning of the administration requires that there should be complete rapport and understanding between the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister. …” Similarly, Salil Sabhlok (2013) says: “it may be necessary for [the] Chief Minister of a State to appoint a ‘suitable’ person as a Chief Secretary or the Director General of Police…because both the State Government or the Chief Minister and the appointee share a similar vision of the administrative goals and requirements of the State. The underlying premise also is that the State Government or the Chief Minister has confidence that the appointee will deliver the goods, as it were, and both are administratively quite compatible with each other. If there is a loss of confidence or the compatibility comes to an end…”

Differentiate between Governor and Lt.Governor under the Indian law

In India each state has a ceremonial Governor appointed by the President of India. Governor is the head of the state. Generally, a Governor is appointed for each state, but after the 7th Constitutional Amendment, 1956, a Governor can be appointed for more than one state.

Lieutenant-Governor is the head of a Union Territory. However the rank is present only in the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Pondicherry (the other territories have an administrator appointed).

Thus, Governors head the State Government in the states while Lieutenant-Governors exist in some union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The Governors and Lieutenant-Governors are appointed by the President for a term of 5 years.

What is Goldilocks economy ?

RBI Governor used the term Goldilocks economy  while delivering the bimonthly credit and monetary policy yesterday so this is a post explaining the Goldilocks term in brief.

In economics, a Goldilocks economy sustains moderate economic growth and low inflation, which allows a market-friendly monetary policy. Goldilocks economy is characterized by a low unemployment rate, increasing asset prices (stocks, real estate, etc.), low interest rates, steady GDP growth and low inflation.
A bullish economy, with steep growth in market values and low losses due to inflation, denotes strong economic growth, though it may lead to rising inflation. In contrast, a bearish economy is the opposite, with stagnant economic performance and inflation rates soaking up any gains. In either extreme, the RBI acts to either cool off or heat up the economy, primarily by raising or lowering the official interest rates. When there is a balance, i.e. not rapid or stagnant growth, but sustained growth and a reasonably low inflation rate, it is a comfortable zone for investors to find long term growth and attractive values in various asset classes. Therefore, experts have labeled this balance between a bull economy and a bear economy, the Goldilocks Economy.

The name Goldilocks economy comes from children’s story, The Three Bears, when Goldilocks proclaims that the porridge is “not too hot and not too cold…it is just right.” Indeed, with sustained growth and a low inflation rate, the economic is usually considered “just right.”

In climate talks, the terms adaptation and mitigation are used often. What do they mean?

The challenge of dealing with the impacts of climate change is framed in terms of adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation involves cutting down emissions and thus reducing the magnitude of climate change itself. Mitigation of climate change means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking care of greenhouse gas sinks. Renewable energy, afforestation etc are mitigating agencies.

Adaptation, by contrast, involves efforts to limit our vulnerability to climate change impacts through various measures, while not necessarily dealing with the underlying cause of those impacts. Adaptive measures typically only deal with impacts on humans and not on ecosystems and our environment. Coral reefs, for example, are unlikely to adapt to the twin impacts of global warming and ocean acidification.

Restricting emissions is intended to slow and eventually reverse the growth of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels particularly in the atmosphere. Reducing emissions will affect CO2 levels slowly though because this gas has a long lifetime in the atmosphere. Therefore the effect of reductions in emissions on the average global temperature will not be seen for decades. Thus, mitigation has to coexist with adaptation.

Adaptation means to try to reduce the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities. It is thus preparing for a time when the climate, i.e. the average weather, is markedly different from what we experience today. As a word, “preparedness” describes better the active nature of adaptation; we try to forecast future weather conditions and create structures and operating models which will work in these new conditions.

In agriculture, drought resistant varieties, conservation of water structures etc are adaptation measures. Green Climate Fund
As explained above, Measures to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it complement each other. Without taking measures to mitigate climate change, there is a threat that the average temperature could rise to such levels that people’s lives in many regions of the world would be significantly affected or be made impossible. In such a case even adaptation measures would not be able to guarantee everyone’s well-being. Even if emissions were successfully restricted, the slow elimination of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would affect the climate for decades and centuries. That is why at the local level it is necessary to prepare for the future in any case and attempt to forecast the nature of the change and its effects. Thus some degree of preparation for the future is essential.

Measures to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it generally complement each other. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are mitigated, people’s living conditions will become significantly more difficult and adaptation may become impossible in many parts of the globe. Take organic farming , for example, it adapts to climate change by keeping soil moist. At the same time, by avoiding agro chemicals, it also mitigates.

Green Climate Fund (GCF) that is set up internationally is an example for both.

With examples from National Action Plan on Climate Change(NAPCC), differentiate between adaptation and mitigation.

In 2008, GOI released India’s first National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) policies and programs addressing climate mitigation and adaptation. The plan identifies eight core “national missions” running through 2017. Most of them address mitigation needs while adaptation issues are also covered.

1. National Solar Mission
2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat( To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
• Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
• A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
• Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
• Incentives for the use of public transportation)
4. National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
6. National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modeling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While the last Mission addresses both, the last but one Mission is essentially adaptation-centered. Others are primarily mitigation-focused.

Is organic farming the answer to climate change?

Organic farming, as an adaptation strategy to climate change is a concrete and sustainable option and has additional potential as a mitigation strategy. The careful management of nutrients and carbon sequestration in soils are significant contributors in adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions. This is accomplished by using, where possible, cultural, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials. An organic production system is designed to a) enhance biological diversity within the whole system; b) increase soil biological activity; c) maintain long-term soil fertility; d) recycle wastes of plant and animal origin in order to return nutrients to the land, thus minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources; e) rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems; f) promote the healthy use of soil, water, and air, as well as minimize all forms of pollution thereto that may result from agricultural practices;

Organic farming increases resilience to respond to the risk of climate variability. Where a region relies predominantly on rain fed agriculture, organic farming can respond well to droughts. In India, 60% of agriculture depends on rains. They are prone to drought.Climate change may make drought conditions even more common in the future thereby increasing food insecurity and migration rates.

From field trials conducted in arid, semi-arid, sub-humid and humid regions of India, it was found that organic farming techniques can improve soil carbon levels by five per cent to 25 per cent and increase the water holding capacity of soils between two per cent to 17 per cent. Organic agriculture provides environmental benefits through the sequestration of atmospheric carbon in soil organic matter.

Soils with higher concentration of carbon content are better able to absorb and retain water because the organic matter acts like `sponge` absorbing excess water and retaining it in the soil. More moisture in the soil is particularly valuable for farmers in drought prone, dry regions.

Organic farming systems also increase biodiversity by cultivating different genetically diverse crop varieties.

Together with using adaptation strategies such as water efficient irrigation techniques and drought tolerant seed varieties, organic farming can help farmers cope with the impacts of the changing climate.

What is ” big data” ? How is it useful in commerce and governance?

The basic idea behind the phrase ‘Big Data’ is that everything we do is increasingly leaving a digital trace (or data), which we (and others) can use and analyse. Big Data therefore refers to that data being collected and our ability to make use of it.Data collection itself isn’t new. We as humans have been collecting and storing data since as far back as 18,000 BCE. What’s new are the recent technological advances in chip and sensor technology, the Internet, cloud computing, and our ability to store and analyze data that have changed the quantity of data we can collect.Things that have been a part of everyday life for decades — shopping, listening to music, taking pictures, talking on the phone — now happen more and more wholly or in part in the digital realm, and therefore leave a trail of data.

The other big change is in the kind of data we can analyze.Now data analysts can also look at “unstructured” data like photos, tweets, emails, voice recordings and sensor data to find patterns.

As with any leap forward in innovation, the tool can be used for good or nefarious purposes. Some people are concerned about privacy, as more and more details of our lives are being recorded and analyzed by businesses, agencies, and governments every day.

Companies are using big data to better understand and target customers. Using big data, retailers can predict what products will sell, telecom companies can predict if and when a customer might switch carriers etc.

It’s also used to optimize business processes. Retailers are able to optimize their stock levels based on what’s trending on social media, what people are searching for on the web, or even weather forecasts. Supply chains can be optimized so that delivery drivers use less gas and reach customers faster.

Big data analytics enable us to find new cures and better understand and predict the spread of diseases. Police forces use big data tools to catch criminals and even predict criminal activity and credit card companies use big data analytics to detect fraudulent transactions.

As the tools to collect and analyze the data become less and less expensive and more and more accessible, we will develop more and more uses for it — everything from smart yoga mats to better healthcare tools and a more effective police force.

Is altruism a core value for civil servants?

Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. The word was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte as the opposite of egoism.

Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete.

Altruism has deep roots in human nature because helping and cooperation promote the survival of our species. Darwin himself argued that altruism, which he called “sympathy” or “benevolence,” is “an essential part of the social instincts.”

This does not mean that humans are more altruistic than selfish; instead, evidence suggests we have deeply ingrained tendencies to act in either direction. Our challenge lies in finding ways to evoke the better angels of our nature.

Individuals come to exhibit charitable, philanthropic, and other pro-social, altruistic actions for the common good both by nature and by training. Moral education, law, civic leadership also establish ethos to develop altruism. Building social capital is crucial for good governance, economic development and social harmony. At its heart lies altruism and cooperation.

In a welfare state like ours that has the responsibility to eradicate poverty; bring about social equality and deliver goods and services to the deprived and vulnerable, civil service has to be altruistic. It is written in the Code as well. The welfare schemes that we have require our Civil Service to be sensitive , compassionate and generous which is the crux of altruism.

Comment on ” currency manipulation” and its effects.

Currency manipulation occurs when countries sell their own currencies in the foreign exchange markets, usually against dollars, to keep their exchange rates weak and the dollar strong. These countries thereby subsidize their exports and raise the price of their imports, sometimes by as much as 30-40%. They strengthen their international competitive positions, increase their trade surpluses and generate domestic production and employment at the expense of others. It becomes competitive devaluation whcih is a form of ” Beggar , thy neighbour policy” in which those economies that can afford to devalue lose.

Currency manipulation extends throughout the Pacific Rim: in Japan, where Tokyo’s central bank has printed more yen to help its slumbering economy grow; in China, where the renminbi has long been fixed to the dollar rather than allowed to fluctuate in response to market forces; and in Malaysia, where the government has intervened to protect the ringgit against currency traders.The Swiss National Bank (SNB) undervalued swiss francs saying the high value of the franc is a threat to the economy. The SNB said it would enforce the minimum rate by buying foreign currency in unlimited quantities.

India is running a huge trade deficit with China and is becoming de-industrialised because of the undervaluation of Chinese renminbi through manipulation.

The U.S. trade deficit has been several hundred billion dollars a year higher as a result and lost several million additional jobs during the Great Recession. As a result, it joined the currency wars through QE. Currency manipulation is, by far, the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century, but e International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization failed to check it.

What is a heat wave and its effects?

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary,a heat wave is measured relative to the usual weather in the area and relative to normal temperatures for the season. Temperatures that people from a hotter climate consider normal can be termed a heat wave in a cooler area if they are outside the normal climate pattern for that area.[2]

The term is applied both to routine weather variations and to extraordinary spells of heat which may occur only once a century. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning. A heat wave is considered extreme weather, and a danger because heat and sunlight may overheat the human body.

The Odisha model of minimizing damage

After the heavy casualties in 1998, the Odisha government treats it as a disaster on the scale of cyclone or flood.By February-end, the government starts the preparation for fighting heat wave with a single objective in mind: no human casualty. Schools and colleges shift to early morning sessions. They open at 6.30am and end by 12 noon.Government offices also follow the same timings. Examinations are held by March. Public transport does not operate between 12 noon and 3.30pm. Public wage programmes like, MGNREGA is halted from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

A look at the heat wave deaths in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana would reveal that most of the people killed in the two states were labourers at construction sites who continued with their work even when the temperatures were at the peak.

There are other measures in place in Odisha to minimise heat wave impacts. Public health centres keep ice slabs ready to treat stroke patients. Panchayats across the state open water booths.
The state government also puts out continuous advertisements which guide people on how to combat heat wave. Hospitals in cities like Cuttack and Sambalpur deploy extra resources to attend to heat stroke patients. The ambulance network is activated and directed to be ready along the state and national highways. The government takes the help of the civil society in spreading awareness.

During April-June, the government’s state-level and district-level calamity centres continuously monitor the India Meteorological Department (IMD) temperature forecast and devise their strategies at local levels.

In Odisha, not all districts report high temperatures. But districts with high industrial activity report the maximum temperature rise. So, the district authorities devise their own action plans.
Heat wave is predictable and one can easily point out time band and places. We can’t stop it, but we can prepare well to reduce human casualties.

How can we prevent destruction of public property ?

The Union Home Ministry has proposed a set of amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ (PDPP) that seek to deter prospective violators from damaging public property during agitations and also make the office bearers of the organizations calling for such agitations responsible for any damage. These amendments follow the recommendations made by the Justice K T Thomas committee setup by the Supreme Court while dealing with a writ petition on this issue.

Damage to Public Property during violent protests is common place across the country. Public Transport Buses and other Public Property are the first victims during such protests. The government of India now proposes to the amend PDPP Act to put in place proper deterrents so as to prevent damage to public property.

Background

Taking a serious note of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals and the like, suo motu proceedings were initiated by a Bench of the Supreme Court in 2007. The court appointed two different committees, one headed by former supreme court judge, Justice K T Thomas and the other headed by Mr. Fali S Nariman. The Justice K T Thomas committee recommended:

1. The PDPP Act to contain provision to make the leaders of the organization, which calls the direct action, guilty of abetment of the offence.
2. Enable the police officers to arrange videography of the activities damaging public property

The court accepted these recommendations. The court also issued certain guidelines for effecting preventive action. It said, as soon as a demonstration is organized:

1. The organizer shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest
2. All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited
3. An undertaking is to be provided by the organizers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction
4. The police and State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible
5.In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question.