IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 18th November, 2015
General Studies 3:Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
General Studies 2:Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill
An increase of 4 degrees, when looms large on the international community; nothing less than pro-active interventions and proper deliberations will serve best to capture the temperature at a lower end of the increase. It has been a long time, since the exploitation of natural resources and preference over luxury items paved way for more, and at present, multi-fold damage of our environment, to take place.
Much energy, time and research now, needs to be first dedicated towards understanding the cause and effect relationship, keeping in mind the scope of damage and various interventions that needs to be put in place to arrest these damages. With this viewpoint a new Environment Laws Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha for further deliberations.
The Bill says:
Environmental damage as pollution:
Pollution and damage are two elements denoted by ill-will and constitutes a zero-sum acceptance in the society. Both are despised but both are not the same. All damage is not pollution;whereas pollution does cause damage, in the long run.
Kinds of environmental damage —
Substantial, Non-substantial and Minor:
“Substantial damage means damage to the environment whether by release of environmental pollutant or environmental pollution or handling of hazardous substance or any other substance or otherwise determined in the manner as may be prescribed by which the environment is affected or is likely to be affected. Also, violation of statutory environmental obligations would count as an environmental damage”
A ‘pollution and hazardous’ centric approach seems realistic today, but not without sounding vague. If there are three classifications, one needs to know the differentiating factor between the above stated levels.
India has been fighting with policy paralysis and policies in conflict with one another. In such a scenario, if a policy is being made today, it should contain highest level of clarity with a proper framework behind it to support.
Besides, there are other types of damages which need to be included in the Bill to guarantee future acceptance and strong steps-respecting our ecosystem.
For example, the author of the editorial has rightly pointed out that with the advancement of Construction sciences and the boom being witnessed by the Infrastructural activities, there has been an increase in the dredging activities on the wetland that is supposed to be conserved considering its sensitivity.
Climate Change and Health:
Health is inextricably linked to climate change. Questions remain concerning risks, vulnerabilities, and priorities for policies to promote adaptation (reducing adverse outcomes) and mitigation (reducing heat-inducing emissions).
British laws have spelled out already that specific interest as well as a firm commitment, and concern needs to be put in place to counter damage- India needs to learn from here.
Paradox of Distances:
The Bill suggests that the costs of environmental damage, in the form of hazards and pollution, “may extend to 10 crore rupees” within a 5 km distance from a project site. For damage within 5 to 10 km from a site, the sum should be between Rs.10-15 crore and beyond 10 kilometres, Rs.15-20 crore. Continuing environmental damage would attract a fixed, per day penalty for all three categories.
Environmental damage surpasses areas, skies and distances-true; but can it be one of the core factors determining environmental damage is yet to be seen and especially in the Indian context.
What might be the segregation here is- severity of the pollution or damage caused; irrespective of the factor being proximity or distance.
The spill-over effects are many (No vehicle on the road, if the pollution level goes higher up than specified-one rule) and these can last for a very long time, almost suspended in the environment to wait for the ripe time to attack.
If Bhopal Gas Tragedy has taught us something, it has been the ever-present effects of the damage. If lives were lost, there were many who lost their sanity sitting miles away from the site. Such was its effect and these effects; at the place where damage takes place, lurks around in broad daylight.
Penalties and ceilings should thus be determined accordingly. Policy makers need to take a balanced decision both for minimum and maximum penalties to be awarded, keeping in mind the nature of pollution, the degree of damage and the future of both.
The Bill has proposed an adjudicating authority consisting of two experienced person, qualified to take decisions on the issue of pollution and the question of environmental damage, if any.
The decision will oscillate between the inclusion of government officials or independent judges and would be crucial in India’s way to Green Growth and in setting up examples for the world and a path for its own countrymen.
Half of the answers lie in the questions and thus, while protecting the environment is our fundamental duty, aligning the country’s objectives and policies with that of nature will require some thought-provoking questions to be asked and innovative solutions to be provided, as an answer.
National Green Tribunal has been taking nascent steps towards building up a certain kind of environmental consensus and thus, should be awarded with certain responsibilities that not only deals with the polluting units or policy paralysis but also, addressing the concerns of the citizens.
A human-centric parlance needs to be removed from the policy framework because we need to understand that we just do not survive without nature and thereby, only if the nature has the capacity to sustain humans, by all means, only then can we think of a future ahead.
Connecting the Dots:
Discuss the approaches that are needed to protect human health or reduce the threats posed by climate change.
Short Note on: Ecological Approach vs Single Solution per problem
‘There are many social, economic, and political barriers to realizing reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions’ Examine.
General Studies 2:Functions of the Executive, Governance, Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges.
Gujral doctrine replaced with so called Modi doctrine
India has enormous economic and geopolitical presence in South Asia.
Yet, since Independence, it has maintained certain humility, in the knowledge that it houses some of the world’s largest pockets of poverty.
It has been well-aware of its weaknesses in governance, and also that its smaller neighbours are ahead of it in many human development indices, including infant and maternal mortality rates.
Gujral doctrine for dealing with neighbours:
Ex-Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, in 1997, had propounded a policy to manage relationships with India’s neighbours.
The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India’s immediate neighbours, notably Pakistan.
With the neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity but gives all that it can in good faith and trust.
No South Asian country will allow its territory to be used against the interest of another country of the region.
None will interfere in the internal affairs of another.
All South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The countries will settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.
So called Modi doctrine:
Present Prime Minister had invited leaders from India’s South Asian neighbours to his inauguration in May 2014. However, in retrospect, that looks more like the darbar (court) of George V, with local potentates having been brought together to applaud the King Emperor.
India’s neighbour’s are treated as subordinates to big brother Indian state and the prime minister seeks to establish an ‘Akhand Bharat’ , integrated all the South Asian states.
The west is also promoting this “Akhand Bharat” initiative as the west sees India as an important tool in countering influence of china.
By doing this, India is going to lose confidence of the neighbours and it will become very difficult for India, to become a regional superpower and getting a permanent seat in united nations security council(UNSC).
Comparing Gujral doctrine with Modi doctrine:
While the ‘Gujral doctrine’ was empathetic, the ‘Modi doctrine’ is a mix of political calculations, a complete control over diplomacy by the Prime Minister, and an enthusiastic willingness to ‘front’ for the Western world.
It is totally uncaring towards the sovereignties and sensibilities of the neighbouring countries and marked by a complete lack of historicity and economic foresight.
What India misses with adherence to Modi doctrine?
India’s lack of empathy keeps it away from learning from the success stories of its smaller neighbours: like
Bangladesh’s examples of service delivery and cyclone preparedness;
Pakistan’s show resilience against sectarianism, political violence and impossible geopolitical odds;
Sri Lanka’s fight against autocracy and its development indicators;
Nepal’s experiments with FM radio, local government and community forestry.
It is India that should be showing the self-confident path of soft nationalism, leading towards open borders and symbiotic economic growth.
This would benefit the densely peopled peripheral States in the country, in the arc from Rajasthan to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam.
It is only through gaining confidence of neighbours, India can become a regional superpower in South Asia.
Connecting the dots:
What is meant by Gujral doctrine? Does it have any relevance today? Discuss.
Critically examine the statement “India is an island of stability in an ocean of instability”.
Critically examine the importance of SAARC in promoting regional co operation and development in South Asian region.
Unnecessary cess- The Swachh Bharat cess goes against the logic of GST and fiscal federalism
One world, one battlefield- The global community can’t view terror attacks in different places as only loosely connected. Allies need to recognise that the paradigm shift in global terror requires a new, unified doctrine