IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 15th June 2018
President rejects Tamil Nadu’s request to release Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts
- President Ram Nath Kovind rejects Tamil Nadu government’s request to release the seven prisoners convicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
- In the last four years, Tamil Nadu government has written twice to the Home Ministry to pardon the convicts and release them on humanitarian grounds.
- President has rejected the request on the advice of the Home Ministry.
- The President is bound by the advice of his Council of Ministers in such matters.
Do you know?
Article 72 deals with power of president to grant pardons, etc., and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases
Article 161 deals with power of governor to grant pardons, etc., and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases
President can grant pardon, reprieve, respite and remission of punishment, or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence:
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union law; and
- In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.
The pardoning power of the President is independent of the Judiciary; it is an executive power.
India is facing its worst water crisis: NITI Aayog
Part of: Mains GS Paper I, II- Social issues, Government interventions in key sectors
- NITI Aayog released the results of a study warning that India is facing its “worst” water crisis in history.
- Nearly 600 million Indians faced high-to-extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people died every year because of inadequate access to safe water.
- Worst affected cities – Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad
- Critical groundwater resources, which accounted for 40% of the water supply, are being depleted at “unsustainable” rates and up to 70% of the supply is “contaminated”.
- As per the report, titled ‘Composite Water Management Index’ (CWMI) the crisis is only going to get worse. By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6 per cent loss in the country’s GDP.
|Best managing states (‘Non-Himalayan States’)||Worst managing states (‘Non-Himalayan States’)|
|2. Andhra Pradesh||2. Bihar|
|3. Madhya Pradesh||3. Haryana|
About Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)
- AWBI is constituted under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.
- Established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Recently, AWBI has released a directive to all state departments that it is their responsibility to protect all strays – cattle, dogs and cats wandering on streets.
Animal welfare officers for each district will be appointed and they would have a critical role to play in ensuring that strays are not mistreated.
Do you know?
The AWBI does not have the right to prescribe punishments or fines for violations of the PCA Act but can pursue legal action.
Functions of The Animal Welfare Board of India
- To keep the law in force in India for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals under constant study and to advise the government on the amendments to be undertaken in any such law from time to time.
- To advise the Central Government on the making of rules under the Act with a view to preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals generally, and more particularly when they are being transported from one place to another or When they are used as performing animals or when they are kept in captivity or confinement.
Article link: States should protect all strays: AWBI – NATIONAL
General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
Roadmap for reducing vehicular pollution
The WHO global air pollution database report that ranked 14 Indian cities among the 15 of the world’s most polluted, in terms of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration.
Cities provide 60 per cent to 65 per cent of India’s GDP and 45 per cent to-50 per cent of our consumption. As per a World Economic Forum study, the number of million-plus urban conglomerates in India has increased from 35 in 2001 to 53 in 2011. By 2030, this number is expected to grow to 87.
Cities are often the primary avenue that allow people escape out of poverty, especially from traditional agriculture. The next two decades will only see an acceleration of migration into our cities.
Currently, the World Bank assesses health and welfare losses at 7.7 per cent of India’s GDP (PPP adjusted). If these costs are unchecked, they will grow sharply in the coming decades.
Hence, controlling urban pollution needs to be a key strategic objective for India.
India’s urban pollution:
As measured by PM 2.5 level is already about 40 per cent above the global safe limits across major Indian cities.
70 per cent to 80 per cent of urban pollution (as measured by PM 2.5) comes from vehicular emissions, domestic activity, construction activity, industry activity and road dust.
Government policy can influence all these areas but two require urgent attention and will create the largest short term impact — vehicular emissions and domestic activity.
Vehicular pollution contributes around 35 per cent of the total PM 2.5 emissions today. Of the total vehicular pollution, 40 per cent to 45 per cent comes from two-wheelers and another 30 per cent to-35 per cent from four wheelers.
In a future with internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles (even post BS VI roll out), urban pollution will continue to remain 25 per cent to 30 per cent above safe global standards because of the growth in automobiles.
Addressing vehicular emissions:
It requires a multi-pronged approach. It needs to combine the already-proposed tighter emission norms (in form of BS VI), with a push for shared mobility and public transport and adoption of alternate mobility technologies.
Government policy will impact adoption that will affect both the extent and the future growth of urban pollution.
The policy roadmap:
- Incentives for adoption of alternate mobility technologies.
- Restrictions on elements that contribute negatively to strategic objectives (such as congestion charges on polluting technologies).
- Provision of enabling infrastructure.
Adoption of alternate mobility technologies:
We need to assess and refine the monetary incentives that are offered to bridge the viability gap for electric vehicles for the purpose of containing urban pollution.
These include upfront subsidies, road/registration tax, reduced taxes, and interest rate subsidy.
Globally, incentives for adoption of alternate mobility technologies have been known to help — China grants a 45 per cent subsidy on vehicle purchases and Norway and Brazil have their own schemes.
Given their significance in an EV, India might need to consider pushing for battery localisation. Cell investments would need a long lead-time to materialise. Hence, the government needs to drive immediate investments by providing subsidies and tax breaks to local manufacturers along with support for research and development in the e-mobility domain.
Technology choices should be rewarded with exemption from tolls/taxes, special toll lanes and other preferred access to public infrastructure.
Globally, Norway gives preference to high occupancy vehicles and China gives preferential licence access. London imposes congestion charges during working hours on weekdays to vehicles entering the city centre.
All these disincentives to traditional cars help in the push for electric vehicles.
Providing an enabling infrastructure:
There is an early need to standardise charging infrastructure/equipment to ensure interoperability and make it widespread.
European manufacturers have formed a consortium, “Ionity”, to provide interoperable charging points across the continent. Similarly, China has standardised charging infrastructure to ensure increased usage and set up 16,000 charging points across the country. The country aims to set up more than 4.8 million charging points at an investment of almost $20 billion by 2020. China has regulations to include charging infrastructure in all residential buildings.
India needs to start learning from global examples to push enabling infrastructure.
The need to address urban pollution is urgent. Focusing on reducing contribution of vehicular pollution to overall urban pollution will help address the urgency.
Connecting the dots:
- Controlling urban pollution needs to be a key strategic objective for India. Discuss in brief. Also suggest how vehicular pollution can be controlled by adopting a strategic roadmap.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
- Challenges to internal security through communication networks
- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Shifting taxonomy of violence
India has witnessed saga of violence and conflicts.
Recent events in Thoothukudi (on May 22 and 23) have highlighted the changing nature of violence, and the inadequacy of existing rules and procedures to deal with new-era protests.
There is a need for redefining the internal security landscape as at present no one, the courts of judicature included, seems to understand the shifting taxonomy of violence.
Examples of incidents which caused law and order problems due to industry versus environment concerns –
- Sterlite’s copper smelters in Thoothukudi
- tanneries spewing effluents in Kanpur
- iron mines in Goa
- Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984, the mother of all environmental tragedies.
Added to above list, are the escalating violence resulting from caste conflicts, such as –
- most recent Dalit uprising
- farmers’ woes across the country
- rape of young women and children
- issues revolving around tradition versus modernity
- outsider versus insider syndrome, especially in the Northeast
All the above issues had resulted in highly complex violence (police firings, death of over a dozen individuals, etc) and need careful attention.
In instances of this kind, it is vital to try to determine the actual trigger that led to the violence.
In many conflicts, presence of ‘agent provocateurs’ or outsiders especially militant elements from outside, who are pre-programmed to create chaos, has led to more violence.
Examples of such incidents –
- In Thoothukudi, the revolt was against Sterlite and its so-called disdain for the environment and the suffering of the locals.
- In Bhangar, West Bengal, for months villagers have been up in arms against a power grid project for which land had been acquired many years ago.
The conditions may be different, but the opposition remains equally intense. In both instances, we see organisations genuinely interested in the welfare of the locals initially launching the agitations, which gradually tend to be taken over by extreme right-wing and left-wing organisations. The result remains the same: widespread disruption.
Protests today are beginning to embrace entire communities. Governments and even tribunals are today viewed by protesters with deep suspicion, limiting opportunities for adjudication. Contrary judgments at different times by the High Courts and the Supreme Court have hardly helped.
This is a phenomenon seen in other protest movements elsewhere as well. In other words, this is the age of ‘high voltage’ revolt, basically an expression of repressed anger.
Much of this arises from an “embedded wisdom” that the system is being “manipulated” in favour of the rich, the powerful, and the big multinationals. This is something that is not confined to India alone.
Authorities need to understand the metastasising nature of the protests and signs of the growing revolt of an ‘underclass’ against the so-called ‘elite’. The police also do not seem to have taken into consideration the kind of impetus provided to agitational methodologies by the ‘digital wave’. Unfortunately, the authorities tend to be look at current agitations through simple equations. They remain prisoners to Newton’s Third Law. Outdated ideas can no longer explain the complex nature of today’s agitations.
There is an urgent need for changes in in administrative policies and police methodologies. The latter consequently find themselves severely handicapped in handling agitations, especially those agitations sponsored by today’s newest ‘elite’, viz. the middle class.
Erection of barricades and promulgation of Section 144, have little relevance in the circumstances prevailing today.
Police effectiveness is also hampered on account of several other reasons, including that they are often outnumbered by mobilised crowds, driven by indignation and rage, predisposed towards creating disorder.
The way forward:
The police on their part need to realise that existing laws and procedures notwithstanding, merely putting faith and focus on strength is not likely to succeed. It ignores the asymmetrical measures available to today’s mobs, and the limits that these impose on tactics and policies of a bygone era.
- Revamping intelligence and introduction of new methods to overcome the lacunae in intelligence collection.
- Police need to strengthen their ‘contextual’ intelligence to deal with today’s situations.
- This involves anticipating the meaning of ‘street power’ – enhanced by information technology and the presence of flash mobs.
- New ‘smart tactics’ have to be developed.
Simply blaming the police is no answer to the growing volumes of protests everywhere.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Consider the following statements
- The Governor can pardon a death sentence prescribed by a state law
- A Governor whose term has expired may be reappointed in the same state or any other state
Which of the above statement[s] is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) With regard to pardoning power of the President, which of statements given below is incorrect?
- The power to pardon is to be exercised by the President on the advice of the Union Cabinet
- The President cannot pardon sentences inflicted by court martial
- The Constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President
Q.3) Which of the following can be found as pollutants in the drinking water in some parts of India?
Select the correct answer using the codes given below
- 1 and 3 only
- 2, 4 and 5 only
- 1, 3 and 5 only
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Q.4) Consider the following w.r.t Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)
- The Animal Welfare Board of India is a non-statutory advisory body on Animal Welfare Laws and promotes animal welfare in the country.
- It was established under the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Select the correct statements
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
The changing nature of violence
Decongesting our cities
Health and poverty
Is it advantage wireless tech again?