- Ecological ruin is on a spreading across South Asia, with life and livelihood of nearly a quarter of the world’s population affected.
- The distress is severe in the north India
- South Asian societies are apart when they should be joining hands across borders to save our common ground.
- Why we need to be proactive: wildlife, disease vectors, aerosols and river flows do not respect national boundaries, the environmental trends must perforce be discussed at the regional inter-country level.
- China has been resolutely tackling air pollution and promoting clean energy. But while Beijing’s centralised governance mandates environmentalism-by-decree.
- Indian state is neglecting its own realm, and it’s not taking any lead on cross-border environmentalism.
- Examples: Bihar is helping destroy the Chure/Siwalik range of Nepal to feed the construction industry’s demand for boulders and conglomerate, which will hurt Bihar itself through greater floods, desertification and aquifer depletion.
- Air pollution is a huge problem in Lahore, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Dhaka alike, but there is no collaboration.
- Wildlife corridors across States, provinces and countries are becoming constricted by the day, again there is no collaboration.
- Governments are unprepared when the challenges have greatly multiplied and deepened.
- Examples: the subcontinent is running out of the water due to the demands of industrialisation and urbanisation, and continuation of the colonial-era irrigation model based on flooding the fields.
- the Ganga in Uttarakhand and the Teesta of Sikkim have been converted into dry boulder tracts by ‘cascades’ of run-of-river hydroelectric schemes. Rivers of Nepal and India’s Northeast are facing similar threat. Tributaries of the Indus were dried decades ago through water diversion.
- Everywhere, natural drainage is destroyed by highways and railway tracks elevated above the flood line, and bunds encircling towns and cities. Reduced flows and urban/industrial effluents have converted our great rivers into sewers.
- Underground aquifers are exploited to exhaustion
- High-dams: we have not adequately studied the phenomenon of Himalayan cloudbursts.
- Also while building dams they does not factor in the natural silt carried by rivers of the Himalaya.
- leaving an important question : how do you de-silt a deep reservoir when it fills up with sand and mud?
- Sea level: climate change is introducing massive disturbances to South Asia, most notably from the rise of sea levels. The entire Indian Ocean coastline will be affected, but the hardest hit will be the densely populated deltas where the Indus, the Irrawaddy and the Ganga-Brahmaputra meet the sea.
- The climate change discourse has not evolved enough to address the tens of millions of ‘climate refugees’ who will en masse move inland, paying no heed to national boundaries in the search for survival.
- The retreat of the Himalayan glaciers is jeopardising the perennial nature of our rivers and climate scientists are now zeroing in on the ‘atmospheric brown cloud’ to explain the excessive melting of snows in the central Himalaya
- Environmental activists all over tend to be criticized in the media and social media as anti-national, anti-development saboteurs. The task of preserving the forests and landscapes has mostly been relegated to the indigenous communities. The urban middle class is not visible in environmentalism, other than in ‘beautification projects’.
- Way forward: Tomorrow’s activists must work to quantify the economic losses of environmental destruction and get local institutions to act on their ownership of natural resources. The activists must harness information technology so as to engage with the public and to override political frontiers, and they must creatively use the power of the market itself to counter non-sustainable interventions.
- Refer atlas for geographical locations in *Bold
What is Brown Cloud:
This cloud is made up of ‘black carbon’ containing soot and smog sent up by stubble burning, wood fires, smokestacks and fossil fuel exhaust, as well as dust kicked up by winter agriculture, vehicles and wind. It rises up over the plains and some of it settles on Himalayan snow and ice, which absorb heat and melt that much faster.
A cloudburst is an extreme amount of precipitation in a short period of time, sometimes accompanied by hail and thunder, that is capable of creating flood conditions.
Refer Laxmikanth for this topic.
Under the constitutional scheme, the Governor’s mandate is substantial:
From being tasked with overseeing government formation, to reporting on the breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State, to maintaining the chain of command between the Centre and the State, he can also reserve his assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature and promulgate ordinances if the need arises. Further, under Article 355, the Governor, being the Central authority in a State, acts as an overseer in this regard.
The issues with Governor post :
- There are numerous examples of the Governor’s position being abused, usually at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre. The root lies in the process of appointment itself.
- The post has been reduced to becoming a retirement package for politicians for being politically faithful to the government of the day.
- Consequently, a candidate wedded to a political ideology could find it difficult to adjust to the requirements of a constitutionally mandated neutral seat. This could result in bias, as appears to have happened in Karnataka.
- A possible solution would be not to nominate career politicians and choose “eminent persons” from other walks of life. Both the Sarkaria and M.M. Punchhi Commissions recommended in similar lines, this could also lead to the creation of sycophants within the intelligentsia.
- But there are instances of politicians who have risen above partisan politics, and performed their role with dignity and without fear or favour.
- The Supreme Courtverdict of the in B.P. Singhal v. Union of India , on interpreting Article 156 of the Constitution and the arbitrary removal of Governors before the expiration of their tenure. This judgment is crucial since a fixed tenure for Governors could go quite far in encouraging neutrality and fairness in the discharge of their duties, unmindful of the dispensation at the Centre.
- The most crucial issue relates to the exercise of his discretion
- The Governor has the task of inviting the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government; overseeing the dismissal of the government in case of a breakdown of the Constitution in the State; and, through his report, recommending the imposition of President’s rule.
- The importance of the Governor’s position arises
- As a crucial link within this federal structure in maintaining effective communication between the Centre and a State. As a figurehead who ensures the continuance of governance in the State, even in times of constitutional crises, his role is often that of a neutral arbiter in disputes settled informally within the various strata of government, and as the conscience keeper of the community.
- In the current political climate examples being Goa, Manipur and Karnataka — it may seem natural to suggest that the post of the Governor has outlived its utility.
- Way forward: there is a urgent need to ensure proper checks and balances to streamline the functioning of this office. However, misuse of a position of power should not serve as a justification for removing the office altogether, unless such a position has totally lost its relevance.
- Since June 1, many farmers are on an unusual 10-day ‘strike’ to draw the government’s attention to distress in the fields.
- A federation of 130 farmer bodies has decided to stop supplies of vegetables and dairy produce to major cities and hold a dharna on 30 national highways, without blocking vehicular passage.
- Prices of vegetables and fruits are rising up in urban centres given the supply shock created by this Gaon Bandh.
- The farmers’ demands :
- Eenhancement of the minimum support price regime for crops in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations,
- higher prices for milk procurement
- and loan waivers to offset low or negative returns on investment.
- Issues: much of the structural reform agenda to free agricultural markets from the grip of government rules and intermediaries remains pending.
- Even simple things like strengthening the food processing sector are not taking place.
- 100% FDI was allowed in the food retail business in 2016, but little money has come in as retailers want permission to stock a few non-food items like soaps and shampoos for customers.
- President said that the people of a State look at the offices of the Governor as the “fount of ideals and values”.
- Inaugurating a two-day Governors’ conference at the Rashtrapati Bhavan , he asked these constitutional functionaries to be agents of change.
- PM in his speech said that The institution of Governor has a pivotal role to play within the federal structure and constitutional framework of our country.
- The Prime Minister also urged Governors of States with a substantial tribal population to ensure that they benefited from government programmes on education, sports and financial inclusion.
- The President said a Governor is also a mentor and a guide to the State governments.
- The President also urged Governors to serve as “guardians to India’s youth” in their role of Chancellors of universities.
This part give you background information and need for a food security act.
- The right to food is a well established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect, and fulfil their citizens’ right to food security.
- Our current understanding of food security includes the four dimensions of access, availability, utilisation and stability.
- As a state party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, India has the obligation to ensure the right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food.
- Approach to Food security :
- The post-Independence years were turbulent for India. Memories of the Bengal famine remained fresh and fears of a food shortage were rampant.
- Framing of food security in quantitative terms sparked India’s determination to initiate the Green Revolution to boost food production. However,it’s devastating environmental impact has also rightly been critiqued.
- Food Security today: Two occurrences over the 1980s and 1990s set the stage for what we understand as food security in India today.
- The first was when the Supreme Court expanded the ambit of rights, food being g a cluster of basic rights integral to human dignity. Second was a shift of the frame from the problem of availability to the problem of acces.
- It was realized that increasing food supplies was falling short of actually ameliorating hunger. Inspite of government efforts such as the Public Distribution System, people were dying of starvation because they were unable to physically or financially (or both) reach this food.
- In 1996, the World Food Summit stated that food security was achieved “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.”
- This focus on access culminated in India in a 2001 case brought by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, in which the Supreme Court evolved a right to food and read it into the right to life provisions of the Constitution. Following that, a host of court orders and directions ultimately resulted in the 2013 National Food Security Act (NFSA), which has been lauded for guaranteeing a quantitative “right to food” to all Indians.
Assessing the Food Security Act
- The NFSA does not guarantee a universal right to food, it limits the right to food to those identified on the basis of certain criteria. It restrict the right to 75% of the Indian population.
- It also specifies that a claim under the Act would not be available in times of “war, flood, drought, fire, cyclone or earthquake” (notably, it is within the Central government’s remit to declare whether such an occassion has arisen).
- Given that a right to food becomes most valuable in exactly these circumstances, it is questionable whether the Act is effective in guaranteeing the right that it is meant to.
- Another problematic aspect of the NFSA is its embrace of certain objectives that are to be “progressively realised”. These provisions include agrarian reforms, public health and sanitation, and decentralised procurement.
- “progressive realisation” actually retards food security reform in the country. This is because some of the elements mentioned under this head are already incorporated in laws and policies at the State and national levels.
- Food security to citizens might instead have the result of limiting the courts with respect to how far citizen entitlements can be extended.
- Example: Recent Swaraj Abhiyan cases that address the impact of government failures in tackling consecutive drought years in India.
- While the court took a strong stance in ordering the executive to implement the provisions of the NFSA, it was reluctant to go beyond the provisions of the NFSA in terms of what it could order the government to give citizens.
- while the NFSA addresses issues of access, availability and, even tangentially, utilisation, it is largely silent on the issue of stability of food supplies.
- Way forward: There is a need to frame a “third generation” food security law and recognise and mainstream issues including increasing natural disasters and climate adaptation.
- The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015
- A 2017 paper by Peter Mayer, “The better angels of their natures?”, published in Studies in Indian Politics , argues that “contrary to popular understanding, murder, rape and arson against Dalits have declined significantly since a peak in the early 1990s.”
- The highest rates of Dalit homicide are seen in the northern States (Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan) and in Gujarat in the west. Even here, the rates have been declining.
- In the southern States, the homicide rates are very low (as is the case with Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal). These trends are true for other major crimes against Dalits too.
- Reasons for decline ?
- He does not find a statistically significant correlation between literacy and reducing crime rates.
- Higher political mobilisation? A look at parliamentary ascendancy of Dalit Chief Ministers in States suggests that this does not entirely explain the decline either.
- He finds a significant correlation between crime rates against Dalits and overall murder rates across States. The decline in overall rates of interpersonal violence has impacted crimes against Dalits as well.
- The decrease in overall crime rates is due to a better economy which has fostered “gentle commerce”, and a more responsive state that acts upon the agency of the Dalits, which is seen in higher reporting of crimes against them.
- The Centre is gathering inputs from the States on proposed amendments to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- The acts Schedule lists are not up to the mark to grasp the immensity of the country’s biodiversity, have been largely ignored in consultations.
- the Wildlife Act has expanded the number of species given varying degrees of protection under its six Schedules: 184 animals in 1972 to over 909 entries of taxa of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants now.
- The power of inclusion and exclusion, which lies with the Centre. The Schedule lists are critical as they determine anti-poaching regulations and even habitat protection, in part because diverting forest lands is difficult in areas where better-protected species are found.
Issues with the act:
- The lists continue to keep out scientific research that can match species to appropriate protection.
- Inconsistencies abound: Crimson rose, a colourful butterfly that is widely found in south India, remains as protected as the tiger, while the poorly understood, near-threatened striped hyena is in Schedule III along with “least concern” species of wild pig or barking deer.
- A majority of the 659 species of Indian endangered fish do not find mention;
- only an estimated quarter of the butterfly species have been represented;
- and 128 species of bats, including fruit bats, are considered vermin despite their significant role as pollinators.
do we need a pan-India list?
- What is endemic may not be rare, what is widespread elsewhere may be locally endangered, and what is endangered in one area may be a pest elsewhere.
- In Andaman and Nicobar islands, where the British introduced deer and elephants over a century ago. The two protected species (Schedules III and I, respectively) have caused large-scale degradation of native vegetation and threaten other native animals and plants.
- Duly ranked in conservation value, local habitat loss, cultural significance, population decline, and constantly updated through local research, a multi-parameter list would be a far greater reflection of India’s biodiversity than a single Central legislation.
- India on Monday urged for support from Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil to create a new security forum to counter terrorism and radicalisation.
- Speaking at the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting, External Affairs Minister said that the forum could be realised through an understanding among the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the member countries of the grouping.
- The National Security Advisers of the BRICS member states have a dialogue mechanism to counter radicalisation, terrorism, money laundering and other international crimes.
- The statement from the Indian Minister came weeks before the Indian leadership’s meeting with the Russian and the Chinese leaders at the Qingdao summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
- The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) told the Standing Committee on Finance that With non-performing assets (NPA) increasing and banks’ capital positions not improving despite the additional capital infused by the government.
- They said that one way forward could be an extension of the deadline by which Indian banks have to comply with the Basel III norms.
- The ratio of gross NPAs to gross advances basically a metric of bad loans had grown from 2.36% by March 2011 to 4.11% in March 2014, and grew further to 10.41% by December 2017.
- IBA said this growth was also due to the Asset Quality Review conducted by the Reserve Bank of India, which revealed a lot of loans as NPAs, which were earlier classified as standard assets.
- The RBI has been implementing the Basel III norms in a phased manner from April 2013, and they have to be fully implemented by March 31, 2019.
- The Navies of India, Japan and the U.S. will enhance their anti-submarine warfare skills in this year’s Malabar naval war games to be held off the coast of Guam from June 7 to 16.
- For the first time in a Malabar exercise, all three Navies are deploying their maritime reconnaissance (MR) aircraft to sharpen those skills.
- While the Indian Navy is deploying a P-8I long-range MR aircraft, the U.S. is deploying two P-8A aircraft and Japan is sending a Kawasaki P-1 MR aircraft.
- In addition, Japan and the U.S. have anti-submarine warfare helicopters on board their helicopter carrier JS Ise and aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan , respectively.
- The U.S. has one nuclear attack submarine, USS Pasadena , and Japan for the first time is deploying a Soryu class conventional submarine.
- India’s ambitions to procure the Russian-developed S-400 Triumf long-range air-defence system has landed New Delhi right in the middle of global strategic complexities.
- The S-400 is a complex military system comprising several radars, command post, different types of missiles and launchers that can track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously from hundreds of kilometres away, launch counter-missiles within seconds and shoot them down with great efficiency.As the Defence Ministry prepares to present the procurement proposal for the S-400 systems before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Dilemma is about pushing the deal through in the face of possible U.S. sanctions and warnings that it will adversely affect transfer of U.S. military technology.
- Starting this year, the government will begin a five-year exercise to compute district-level data of the country’s environmental wealth.
- The numbers will eventually be used to calculate every State’s ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- The metric will help with a range of policy decisions, such as compensation to be paid during land acquisition, calculation of funds required for climate mitigation, and so on.
- The government has also launched a ‘green skilling’ programme under which youth, particularly school dropouts, would be trained in a range of ‘green jobs’ as operators of scientific instruments used to measure environmental quality, as field staff in nature parks, and as tourist guides.
The green gross domestic product (green GDP or GGDP) is an index of economic growth with the environmental consequences of that growth factored into a country’s conventional GDP. Green GDP monetizes the loss of biodiversity, and accounts for costs caused by climate change.