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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 5th June 2018

  • IASbaba
  • June 6, 2018
  • 12
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 5th June 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


‘Green GDP’ and a ‘Green skilling’ programme

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS Paper III – Environment and Ecology; Pollution; Environment and Development

In News:

  • Government to begin a five-year exercise to compute district-level data of the country’s environmental wealth
  • The data will be used to calculate every State’s ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • The government has also launched a ‘green skilling’ programme under which youth, particularly school dropouts, would be trained in a range of ‘green jobs’.

Important Value Additions:

  • World Environment Day on June 5.
  • India is the host country for this year’s celebration.
  • The theme for the World Environment Day 2018, “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

About Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP)

  • GSDP aims to get 80, 000 people imparted green skills and in filling the skill gaps in the environment sector.
  • Green Skill Development Programme will go a long way in reaping the demographic dividend of the country; GSDP to cover nearly 5 lakh people by 2021.

About Green GDP –

Article link: Centre to start measuring ‘green GDP’ of States


Ban obscene depiction of women on Net

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Welfare and Social issue; Women issue

In news:

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed to ban obscene depiction of women on the Internet and through SMS/MMS by amending the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986.
  • Ministry has also suggested for stricter punishments for such crimes on par with those recommended under the IT Act, 2008.
  • Ministry has proposed amendment in definition of the term ‘advertisement’ to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS, etc.
  • Keeping in mind the technological advancements, it has been decided to widen the scope of the law.

Laws which punishes Indecent Representation of Women

  • The IRW Act provides for punishment of up to two years in jail for an offence committed for the first time and imprisonment of six months to five years for a second conviction.
  • Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act lay down a punishment of three to five years for circulating obscene material and five to seven years for circulating sexually explicit material respectively.

Article link: Ban proposed on obscene depiction of women on Net – The Hindu


(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

To be an environmental world power

About:

  • Impact of ecosystem destruction on life and livelihood is very high in South Asia.
  • Distress is paramount in the northern half of the subcontinent – especially from the Brahmaputra basin to the Indus-Ganga plain.
  • However, countries of South Asia have failed to come up with a concrete and coordinated plan to tackle this ecological ruin.

Need for cross-border environmentalism

Do you know? Consequences of environmental degradation do not respect national or state boundaries.

  • Pollution can originate in one country but can cause damage in another country’s environment, by crossing borders through pathways like water or air. Pollution can be transported across hundreds and even thousands of kilometers.
  • Wind and water too don’t respect national boundaries. One country’s pollution quickly can, and often does, become another country’s environmental and economic crisis.

Examples:

  • Bihar is helping destroy the Chure/Siwalik range of Nepal to feed the construction industry’s demand for boulders and conglomerate, even though this hurts Bihar itself through greater floods, desertification and aquifer depletion.
  • Air pollution is strangling the denizens of 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, but we look the other way.

Therefore, there is a need for South Asian people to join their hands across borders to save our common ground.

As the largest nation-state of South Asian region and the biggest polluter whose population is the most vulnerable, India needs to be alert to the dangerous drift.

Unfortunately, despite being a vast democracy where people power should be in the driving seat, the Indian state not only neglects its own realm, it does not take the lead on cross-border environmentalism.

Big Concerns:

  • There is a need for ecological sanity. India has to connect the dots between representative democracy and ecological sanity.
  • India’s environment ministry is invariably the least empowered in the major countries of South Asia.
  • Inaction of governments and weakened activism.
  • On water, the subcontinent is running out of the resource due to the demands of industrialisation and urbanisation, and continuation of the colonial-era irrigation model based on flooding the fields.
  • Everywhere, natural drainage is destroyed by highways and railway tracks elevated above the flood line, underground aquifers are exploited to exhaustion. Reduced flows and urban/industrial effluents have converted our great rivers into sewers.

Climate change to fuel disturbances:

  • Climate change is introducing massive disturbances to South Asia – most notable is 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.
  • Yet, there is no proper mechanism and framework to deal and address the tens of millions of ‘climate refugees’, who will move inland in search for survival.

Concept of ‘Atmospheric brown cloud’ and ‘Seet lahar’

  • Scientists are studying about ‘atmospheric brown cloud’ and its influence on excessive melting of snows in the central Himalaya.
  • 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.
  • Seet lahar – a violent type of mudflow or ground-hugging fog that engulfs the subcontinent’s northern plains for ever-extended periods in winter –  is one more concern. (observe fig below)

Pic link: http://footage.framepool.com/shotimg/qf/647957811-lahar-yogyakarta-mount-merapi-ash.jpg

The way forward:

  • Environmental impact assessments have become a ritualistic farce in each country.
  • The task of preserving the forests and landscapes has mostly been relegated to the indigenous communities.
  • We usually see the Adivasi communities of the Deccan organising to save ancestral forests, and the indigenous Lepcha fighting against the odds to protect the upper reaches of the Teesta. The urban middle class is not visible in environmentalism, other than in ‘beautification projects’.
  • 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.

There is need for an “environmental system” inbuilt into the infrastructure of state and society. Local government needs to be empowered and elected representatives in cities and districts must be challenged to emerge as the bulwark of environmentalism.

When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss why India should take the lead for a clean planet? Also discuss what changes are required to keep our planet safe for the future?

NATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

About:

The state governors of India, a product of a time long-past, have been under the scrutiny of the public eye for a long time now (especially after the high-drama which happened after recent Karnataka Elections). Yet, despite their notorious reputations, little seems to have been done.

Some of the actions taken by the Governor were part of uncertain grey area of “discretion” — partisan enough to skew the process in favour of the BJP, but not illegal enough to warrant judicial intervention.

In the aftermath, some have called upon the Governor to resign; others have suggested that the post of the Governor be reserved for non-political appointees and some questioned the need for office of Governor; and still others have urged the Supreme Court to lay down the law on how the Governor ought to act when an election yields a fractured verdict.

(The below article is excerpt from the Hindu editorials which analyzes and answers some of these questions.)

Office of Governor during colonial era and pre-independent India:

It is important to understand the origins of the office in the colonial British regime.

  • Through the course of the early 20th century, the Indian nationalist movement managed to extract gradual and incremental reforms towards responsible government from the British rulers. These reforms culminated in the Government of India Act, 1935 which established provincial legislative assemblies elected from a limited franchise.
  • However, in order to ensure that overriding power remained with the British, the Act retained the post of Governor (a holdover from the old, “diarchy” system), and vested him with “special responsibilities” that, in essence, allowed for intervention at will.

K.T. Shah (one of the most articulate members of the Constituent Assembly, or CA), wrote that the Governor would inevitably be biased in his functioning, and his actions would remain at odds with those of popularly elected Ministers.

Despite the nationalist movement’s bitter experience with Governors over almost three decades, the CA chose to retain the post, and continue to vest it with discretionary power.

During CA debates, it was pointed out that the Articles dealing with the powers of the Governor were almost verbatim reproductions of the Government of India 1935 Act.

Defenders of the office raised two broad arguments:

  • First, that there was a dearth of competent legislators in the States; and
  • Second, that a certain amount of centralisation of power was necessary in a nascent state such as India.

They felt that there is need for office of Governor who would stand as a bulwark against secessionism and to act as a check upon both federalism and popular democracy.

Concerned members of the CA were assured that the Governor would remain only a constitutional post, and would have no power to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the State.

But, even though the framers insisted that it was only a “constitutional post”, Karnataka has just been the most recent example demonstrating that the Governor has enough discretion to skew the political process in the direction that the Central government desires.

Now the question arises whether the above arguments of CA serve any valid purpose in 2018 –and if not, whether it should continue to exist. Is there a need for clearly specifying the rules governing government-formation in the Constitution itself?

Misuse of office and flaw in appointment process

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.

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. There are examples of the last two having been frequently misused to dismiss “belligerent” State government, but this has been checked substantially by the Supreme Court through S.R. Bommai v. Union of India.

Since the Bommai verdict allows the Supreme Court to investigate claims of mala fide in the Governor’s report, a similar extension to cover mala fide in the invitation process could be a potential solution.

Why the office of Governor is important?

Governor: An important overseer

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.

Governor: An important link

In India, the balance in power is tilted towards the Union. Governor acts as a crucial link within this federal structure in maintaining effective communication between the Centre and a State. He is also “a mentor and a guide to the State governments”.

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.

Therefore the institution of Governor has a pivotal role to play within the federal structure and constitutional framework of our country. 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.

Connecting the dots:

  • Governor has a constitutional obligation to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. They must not only be fair but also be seen to be fair. Elucidate.
  • What are the functions of the Governor with regard to protecting and promoting the interests of the state concerned? Do you think governors are acting as if they are the employees of the Central government? Examine.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) The theme of Earth Day 2018 is –

  1. “Beat Plastic Pollution”
  2. “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”
  3. “End Plastic Pollution”
  4. “Nature for Water” – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century

Q.2) Seet lahar deals with –

  1. a type of cloud which is made up of ‘black carbon’ containing soot and smog
  2. a violent type of mudflow or ground-hugging fog that engulfs plain areas
  3. ban obscene depiction of women on the Internet and through SMS/MMS
  4. None of the above

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