The missing tiers
1-Mathew Idiculla, lawyer and researcher on urban issues, analyse the reasons behind disempowerment and depoliticisation of urban local government.
2- The passage of 73 rd and 74th Amendment came into force in 1993
3- 73rd amendment deals with creation of panchayats, while 74th amendment deals with creation of municipalities.
4- Problems associated with 74 amendment act in the Constitution.
- Many of its key provisions are not mandatory for state government.
- 12th schedule do not include essential such as urban transportation, housing or urban commons.
- Power in urban areas is concentrate in a single municipal bodies.
- Municipalities not created in areas declared industrial townships.
- Unlike the 73rd Amendment which provides for three levels of panchayats (village, taluk, and district levels), power in urban areas is concentrated in a single municipal body (whether it is a municipal corporation, municipal council or town panchayat).
- Author raise concern about the continuous dis empowering of local government by state government
- In most municipal corporation, Mayor is the ceremonial head while executive power is vested with the state government appointed commissioner.
- this is usually done to curtail the power of local level politician.
- some other concerns raised by author about urban local government are
- lack of proper finance
- Administrative capacity of ULBs is weak which led yo implementation failure
- By creating many parastatal agencies like urban development authorities (which build infrastructure) and public corporations (which provide services such as water, electricity and transportation)
- Local government need to take permission of state government for levying taxes.
- Smart cities mission of central government further delegate the power of local bodies.
- smart cities program mandates for the creation of special purpose vehicles (SPVs) which will have “operational independence and autonomy in decision making and mission implementation”.
- Ward committee and Metropolitan planning failed to create civic activism as envisaged by 74th amendment.
- Author suggested for reform in urban governance which vests power in a singular municipality
The crimes of a few condemn the fate of many
- Aakar patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International has analyses about India’s insensitivity to Rohingya refugee
- Rohingyas are ethnic muslims who were a minority in Rakhine state of Myanmar. After being pushed out by majority Buddhists, 700,000 of them had to take refuge in neighboring countries of Bangladesh and India.
- However, according to Amnesty International, Rohingya armed group called ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) committed human rights abuses against hindus in Rakhine.
- Thus, both hindus and Rohingyas are victims of human rights’ abuse.
- However, political opportunists have taken the excuse of ARSA’s attacks to push Rohingya’s back to Mynamar, knowing fully well the religious persecution they face at the hands of both state and non-state actors.
- At the same time, Indian government has labelled all 40,000 of them as ‘illegal immigrants’. It has also proposed their forcible return, calling them a threat to national security.
- In the past, GoI has said that best way to address security concerns is to conduct “fair and efficient refugee determination proceedings.”
- In pursuance of this, India has asked UNHCR to determine refugee status of Rohingyas. However, this exercise is futile, given the government’s determination to push all Rohingyas back to Myanmar.
- UN Refugee Convention excludes protection for refugees involved in serious crimes. Thus, it addresses India’s concern regarding ARSA members. However, India is not a party to the convention.
- Lack of sensitivity to Rohingyas’ problems may spoil India’s good record in the matter of asylum seekers’ and refugees’ protection.
An improbable friendship
- Rakesh sood, former diplomat, expresses his views about the recent US-North Korea summit
- Author considers this event equivalent to Nixon’s travel to China, 1972 and Reagon and gorbhachov meeting at Reykjavik.
- In 1994 North Korea threatened to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
- At that time US addressed the concerns regarding North Korea nuclear program with 1994 Agreed Framework.
- This Agreed Framework was annulled by Bush administration in 2002 with ‘axis of evil speech’.
- In 2003 North korea moved out of NPT.
- Subsequent peace initiative failed (six party talks)
- In 2006 North Korea conducted its first nuclear test and actively enhanced its nuclear and missile technology capabilities.
- Musudan (around 3,500 km), Hwasong 12 (4,500 km) and Hwasong 14 (around 10,000 km), Hwasong 15(13000km)
- Consequently, UN imposed sanctions against North Korea.
- This led to deterioration of relation between US and North Korea.
- The situation began to change when South Korea invited North korea for winter Olympics which was accepted by latter.
- Also,North Korea indicated restraint on testing and also willingness to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula if military threats to North Korea decreased and regime safety was guaranteed.
- The testing restraint was formally declared on April 21, a week before the summit between the two Korean leaders on April 27 in Panmunjom, which was acclaimed a success.
- In early march US also indicated meeting with North Korea.
- But Lack of trust and coordination before the meeting led to some wrong signaling which led to collapse of summit.
- But both the leader further soften their stand and meeting was scheduled on 12th
- Joint Statement in Singapore: Outcomes
- Mr. Trump announced suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea.
- North Korea would dismantle a major missile engine testing site.
- There is no sanctions relief yet but given the changing psychological backdrop, it is likely that there may be a loosening by China and Russia.
- Author also hinted about competitive perspective
- S’s & Japan’s Perspective: Both would ideally like complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.
- North Korea’s Perspective: It seeks regime legitimacy and regime security together with sanctions relief while reducing its dependency on China.
- China’s Perspective: It would like to prolong the process to ensure its centrality.
- South Korea’s Perspective: It would like to lower tensions while retaining the American presence.
- Author opined that Instead of obsessing on the nuclear issue, there should be a clear recognition that a new beginning in U.S.-North Korea relations.
This is possible only by replacing the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a permanent peace treaty.
Cleaning up balance sheets
1-The government has revived the idea of setting up an asset reconstruction or asset management company, a sort of ‘bad bank’ first mooted by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian last year.
- Bad bank purchase those assets from public sectors bank that has no salvage value
- they help to extract any residual value from those assets.
- this also helps to clean up bank balance sheet. Thus bank focus on their core operations of providing credit and enhance economic activity
- this also protect the bank from danger of insolvency
- The CEA had proposed a significant part of the bad bank funding to come from the Reserve Bank of India.
4.The chances of private participation are low unless investors are allowed a major say in the governance of the new entity.
- Critics consider establishment of bad bank as an indirect bailout of Public sector banks.
- However, it will not solve the problem of corporate governance issues that led to NPA problem.
National Dam Safety Authority in the works
1-The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for introduction of Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in the Parliament.
2-Key features of the Bill
- Provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
- Provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety.
- Establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body.
- The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
3-Functions of National Dam Safety Authority
- Maintain liason with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices.
- Provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations.
- Maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures.
- Examine the cause of any major dam failure.
- Publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams.
- Accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
- help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams.
- This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.