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GS -2

Clarifying asylum

News:

  1. Recently, Eduador cut off Internet access to WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Important facts:

2. In 2012, to avoid rape allegations, Mr . Assange skipped bail and entered the Ecuadorean embassy, where he has since remained protected by diplomatic asylum status.

3. While Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigations, a U.K. judge refused to withdraw the arrest warrant, making it clear that Mr. Assange will be arrested on bail-jumping charges the moment he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy.

4. Mr Assange’s health has been deteriorating and he needs passage to a hospital, which too, the U.K. has refused.

5. It is against this context that the advisory opinion from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), assumes significance.

6. The IACHR is an independent, multinational court that handles the human rights cases of people affected by the laws of countries that are members of the Organisation of American States (OAS).

7. It considered whether the human right of the asylum-seeker covered both “territorial asylum and diplomatic asylum” and concluded that it did.

8. It ruled that all nations have an obligation to ensue safe passage for asylum seekers to their final territory of asylum.

9. This implies that the U.K. has an obligation to allow safe passage for Mr. Assange to Ecuador, where he has been granted political asylum as well as citizenship.

10. The IACHR’s advisory opinion reflects the moral victory for Mr Assange.

 

GS- 3

Change gears

News:

  1. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, facing opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Important facts:

2. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last year.

3. The subject is included in the Concurrent list; Parliament can make a law defining powers available to the States.

4. Key changes in the  Bill :

  • The changes in the Bill will enable Centrally-drafted schemes to be issued for national, multi-modal and inter-state movement of goods and passengers for last mile connectivity.

5. The Bill is facing criticisms because:

  • The Bill is criticized for lacking the provisions necessary to manage fast motorization.
  • Because of its perceived shift of power from the States to the Centre.
  • Some states are concerned about the new provisions, Section 66A and 88A, which will empower the Centre to form a National Transportation Policy through consultation process.
  • Several States have opposed the provisions of the Bill as being anti-federal.

6. India’s transportation sector is facing problem because:

  • The laws governing motor vehicles and transportation sector are archaic and lacking necessary provisions for fast motorization.
  • The passenger transport sector operating within cities and providing inter-city services has grown amorphously, with vested interest exploiting the lack of transparency and regulatory bottlenecks
  • State-run services have not kept pace with the times.
  • Major investments made in the urban metro rail systems are yielding poor results due to lack of last-mile connectivity services.

7. Suggestions:

  • The lacunae in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, need to be addressed to improve road safety.
  • The act should ensure orderly use of vehicles and expand public transport.
  • States should reconsider their opposition to amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act.
  • Creating an equitable regulatory framework for the orderly growth of services.
  • Bringing necessary changes to the MV Act that set benchmarks for States.
  • Enabling well-run bus services to operate across States with suitable permit charges to meet the needs of a growing economy.
  • Regulatory changes introduced in Europe for bus services have fostered competition, reduced fares, and increased services operating across EU member-States. Such type of changes can also be introduced in India.
  • Strictly enforcement of the road safety norms by the States.
  • The effort to curb institutionalized corruption at Regional Transport Offices by making it possible for dealers to directly register new vehicles.
  •  Enhancing fines for rule violations.
  • New provisions to harness technology, including CCTV monitoring to improve road safety.
  • Need for professional accident investigation agency to determine best practices.

 

Anatomy of an outbreak

Article:

  1.  R.Prasad, author, discussed how Congo learnt from the 2014 Ebola crisis and what measures is adopting in dealing with current crisis.

Important facts:

2. The Democratic Republic of Congo noticed Ebola cases once again this year.

3. Last time the virus was discovered in 1976.

4. Although, the WHO announced that the Ebola outbreak had ended.

5. Areas recorded crisis this year:

  • Congo recorded a fresh outbreak in North Kivu province.
  • Majority of cases are recorded from Mangina, adversely populated area.
  • The cases were also reported from Bikoro in Equateur Province on 8May.
  • Most cases were from report areas because:

6. These areas made it a challenge in terms of surveillance, case detection, and confirmation, contract tracing, and access to vaccines and therapeutics.

6. 2014 Ebola crisis:

  • In 2014, Ebola had struck three West African countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone).
  • Measures taken in 2014 to handle Ebola crisis were delayed and were responsible for the spread and high mortality.
  • In 2014, Wet African epidemic, WHO’s Emergency Committee convened around some thousand death cases confirmed.
  • Despite the heightened global risk, the committee has not viewed it to be a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’, which is formal WHO declaration. There are two reasons for this:

a) Replied and comprehensive response by the government, WHO, and other partners.

b) Availability of vaccine developed by Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory and manufactured by Merck. As a result vaccination trial carried out in Guinea.

7. WHO’s measures this year:

  • A day after Congo declared an outbreak, WHO, and the Ministry of Health set up a specialized cold chain to store the vaccine in the provincial capital Mbandaka.
  • The first batch of more than 4,000 doses of vaccine was provided to Congo.
  • This mark the first time vaccines were available so early in a response.
  • Vaccination of health workers as well as people in contract with Ebola began in Mbandaka.
  • In total , 3,330 people were vaccinated.
  • It took around 30 months to control 2014 crisis, it took less than three months to handle this year crisis.
  • In 2014, Wet African epidemic, WHO’s Emergency Committee convened only after some thousand death cases confirmed.  This time around, it convened 10 days after the outbreak was declared.
  • The WHO released $1 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
  • It multidisciplinary team began an active search for cases and people who had come in contract with those who were infected.

8. However, despite above pro-active measures this time, 14 laboratory confirmed cases were reported within 10 days of outbreak.

 

‘Solar duty may do more harm than good’

News:

  1. Recently, the government decided to impose a safeguard duty on the import of solar cells from China and Malaysia.

Important facts:

2. The government implemented a 25% safeguard duty on solar cell imports from China and Malaysia for the period between July 30, 2018 and July 29, 2019.

3. Thereafter, the duty is decrease to 20% for six months following that period, and further to 15% in the subsequent six months.

4. Impacts of this decision:

Positive:

  • It could benefit domestic manufacturers.
  • The import duty has been placed in order to encourage local solar panel manufactures in the country in a push to the ‘Make in India’ effort.

Negative:

  • More than 10,000 MW capacity of solar panels were imported annually from China and Malaysia.
  • This application of the safeguard duty would adversely impact the commercial viability of some solar projects.
  • The increase tariffs will be ultimately passed on to the customers, hampering the adoption of clean energy.
  • The duty does not provide any relief to developers in SEZs.
  • Another criticism of the government’s decision is that the period of two years will not be enough to actually benefit domestic manufacturers.
  •  ICRA in a report said, tariffs are likely to rise 30-35 paise per unit due to the duty.

5. Other ways to promote the domestic industry:

  • The government needs to procure at competitive rates solar power generated from units using domestically manufactured panels.
  • Timely approval by the regulators and pass-through of the tariff increase to the off-takers is critical from the cash flow perspective of project developers.
  • According to Crisil report, despite the increase in tariffs due to the safeguard duty, solar energy’s cost competitiveness compared with other sources would mean that the sector would not see much slowdown in capacity addition.
  • However, the Crisil report, added that there could be some near-term delays in project implementation.

 

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