- General studies 2: Governance issues
- General studies 3: Infrastructure, Transportation
The Road to Safety
India’s roads have acquired a reputation, quite deservedly, of being the most dangerous in the world.
A report released recently by the Ministry of Road Transport says:
- 1,46,133 people were killed in road accidents in India in 2015, up from 1,39,671 in 2014;
- 400 road deaths take place every day on India’s roads;
- one accident takes place in the country every minute and one person dies in an accident every four minutes and
- Nearly eight in 10 accidents were caused by drivers, with 62 per cent of those blamed on speeding.
In absolute numbers, more people die in road accidents in India than in any other country.
Road traffic accidents have the potential of being one of the largest challenges to orderly human existence necessitating immediate and urgent intervention.
Apart from the human dimension of the tragedy, avoidable death and disability seriously affect economic progress — by some estimates, 3 per cent of GDP is lost in a year due to the carnage.
- A road in the developing world is more than just a road. It is a way of life. Road users have to take into account hawkers, pedlars, beggars and even stray animals.
- Unsafe transport, including services operated by government agencies, are a major part of the problem.
- Several ghastly accidents involving public transport vehicles have been reported, but the State governments involved have shown little sense of accountability. They routinely challenge even claims for compensation. Their response to the need for improved infrastructure has been woefully weak.
- Detailed investigations are a rarity, officials in-charge are almost never held accountable, road design continues to be dangerous, and Indian laws remain poorly enforced.
- Regular maintenance of all highways and roads by both the Central and State governments, in order to make the same traffic worthy, is the minimum that the citizens can expect and are entitled to.
- There is an urgent need to form committees and appoint professionals to address the issue of safety. They must be empowered to upgrade driver-licensing practices, road systems, public lighting and signage. Accident investigation, which remains a neglected area, requires a thorough overhaul, and CCTVs can help determine the cause of mishaps.
- Also, the neglect of the public district hospital network in most States, and the high cost of treatment at private hospitals affect access to good trauma care for accident victims. The right to life demands that the Central and State governments provide medical facilities at a proximate institution free of cost to all.
- Comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
- The Supreme Court should set up a panel and must give road accidents the status of a public health issue that has acquired alarming proportions. Reform to improve road safety cannot be delayed any longer.
- The sad part in all this is that very few genuinely think of road deaths. They are often seen as isolated events when they are actually a collusion between engineering, poor policing, bad planning and poor civics. What is horrible is that our legislators also realise that a human life is worthless in India, which is also reflected in the laws.
- Unless we create the multipronged idea of what a road is, we cannot change the civics of the city. A road is not just a physical entity, but is also a civic space; a way of life; a site for livelihood, and a commons for participation. An accident demolishes all these notions.
- In spite of fast-paced motorisation, India does not have a scientific accident investigation agency. Nine years have passed since the Sundar Committee on Road Safety and Traffic Management recommended the creation of a safety board through legislation.
- Under the archaic Motor Vehicles Act and the Indian Penal Code, the police adopt simplistic methods to determine ‘driver fault’, rather than look at composite factors including bad road design and failure of civic agencies to maintain infrastructure while fixing responsibility for accidents.
- The proposed National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board should try to address all this issues. Without empowered oversight, it is impossible to eliminate systemic corruption in transport departments in vehicle certification and licensing of drivers, and poor monitoring of roadworthiness of commercial vehicles.
- The Centre should also act on the virtual monopoly held by automotive companies on the sale of spares and servicing of vehicles, which is raising cost of ownership and affecting quality of maintenance.
- Research suggests there will be an annual rise in fatalities until 2042, before a decline sets in. That distressing prognosis can be changed only through determined action today.
Connecting the dots:
- In absolute numbers, more people die in road accidents in India than in any other country. Discuss what measures can be taken to address these increasing fatalities and also critically comment on the steps taken by the government in this regard.
General Studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
General Studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interest
Anthropogenic Climate Change @ Bonn
- Climate change refers to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions and is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions and a range of human activities.
- At present—
- Intense El Niño coupled with record high temperatures
- Devastating effects on crops, livestock and humans (parts of southern and eastern Africa, the Philippines & many areas in India)
COP-21—Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Body responsible: The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA)—will develop mechanisms and detailed steps for the implementation of the Paris deal—
- Mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goal of staying well below 2°C
- Mechanisms that support adaptation on the ground
- Means for support through finance, technology and capacity building
- Development of specifics on the global stocktake agreed upon every five years
- Ensuring that countries set up the frameworks for implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
- Establishing processes for transparency across the board on a range of issues, and for dealing with loss and damage as a result of climate change
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs): Under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries across the globe, committed to create a new international climate agreement by the conclusion of the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015, by publicly outlining the actions they intend to take, to counter climate change from their end
- With 177 signatories at the moment, the Paris Agreement will enter into force, or take effect; 30 days after at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the agreement
- UNFCCC: 17 States have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval, accounting for only 0.04 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions
The Bonn meeting
Discussions involved seeking a consensus upon:
- The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)— provision of timely information and advice on scientific and technological matters
- The use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes or ITMOs
- Potential governance structures and avoiding double counting
- Specifying the differences between the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol— all parties have agreed to the Paris Agreement; the Kyoto Protocol was meant only for wealthier or Annex-1 countries
(Can you think about other points of differences?)
Point of Contention between developed and developing countries:
- Whether mitigation alone should be a part of the NDCs or whether adaptation and the means of implementation should also be included
- Interpretation of the Paris Agreement regarding differentiated transparency of action in developed and developing countries
- No clarity yet on what it means to “deliver an overall mitigation in global emissions”—determine of at least one benchmark of a legally binding global target will depend upon it
All of these concerns would require further discussion and have to be resolved before COP-22 in Marrakech, Morocco
India @ the Bonn:
- Recognized the pivotal role of the Bonn meeting in shaping emerging rules and activities of a post-Paris world order, reiterating the importance of the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) of the parties in responding to climate change (Developed countries need to fulfil the obligation to meet their pre-2020 commitments in the Kyoto Protocol and to take early action)
- The Like Minded Developing Countries called for the need for clarity on the role of non-state actors in the Paris Agreement and asked for a report on the topic at the next meeting of the SBI. This is an important development as there could be a conflict of interest in their participation, and the rules and guidelines on non-state actor engagement need to be clear so that their roles are transparent and the integrity of the UNFCCC process is safeguarded.
Responsible Steps taken by India—
- Prepared National Action Plan on Climate Change as well as State-wise Plan:
- Energy efficiency
- Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem as well as forests
- Protection of water & air
- Strategic Knowledge build-up for Climate change
- Target of generating 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020 out of which achieved almost about 1200 mw
- Introduction of PAT: Perform, Achieve and Trade
- Voluntary commitment of reducing emission intensity of GDP by 20-25% by 2020
- Adaptive Mechanism: Agriculture (Organic Farming & Watershed management)
On a broader level, India needs to focus on—
- Cleaner thermal power generation,
- Promoting renewable energy,
- Reducing emissions from transport and waste, and
- Creating climate resilient infrastructure
- Building low-carbon cities,
- Using smarter electric and mass public transit,
- Investing in buildings efficiency and a digital, decentralised electric grid
- The efforts taken to ensure that the resolution will be discussed in a technical session (November 2016 session) will being in a positive effect, recognizing at the same time the importance of building a climate-change perspective on the business side of the global order— Discussion of the following to initiate a broader transformation involving just transitions in forms and types of work and economic production, energizing the types of transformational changes needed to reduce emissions and adapt to living in a warmer world
- Economic diversification and transformation
- Just transition of the workforce
- Creation of decent work and quality jobs
- There is a need for proper rules to be set in place, considering the historical wrongs and rights and the global politics of climate change, and have greater clarity pertaining to the core agreement and the portion of the text which is referred to as the “decision”.
- The concept of ‘Equity’ needs to be put to work in a true operational manner and not just in speeches, talks and documents. Common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) on a continuous scale of differentiation will provide a good benchmark for negotiations and will provide scope to India as well as other developing countries to accept and engage with further negotiations
- Mitigation and adaptation can together go a long way in limiting the adverse impacts of the climate change but it requires a more globally-coordinated response as well as series of steps that needs to be taken at a regional level—
- Prepare—Communicate—Maintain—Implement—Fulfil nationally determined commitments
- Process to access proposed targets & level of implementation (+ Leadership)
Adaptation: Planning—Guaranteed matching support—Proper International mechanism to address loss and damage— Enhanced and Robust Transparency & Accountability System
- The inclusion of the civil society groups to be allowed back in as green movement partners, by the developing countries have been accepted and has also received accolades at Bonn— good way to approach inclusive green development for all.
Connecting the Dots
- Can technology transfer solve the crisis of the present climate change, being witnessed on a large scale? Identify these prospective technological know-how’s that can help us lessen the adverse impacts.
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