Govt to reimburse Nipah bills
- The Kerala government announced that it will reimburse the medical bills of all those undergoing treatment for Nipah virus in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
- The medical bills will be reimbursed on the basis of the District Collector’s reports.
- The government will also provide free ration kits to all families who are affected from Nipah virus.
- The high alert will continue till the month-end even though the situation is under control.
- The efforts of Kerala government in controlling the Nipah outburst is appreciated nationally and internationally.
Governance and the Governor
1. Agnidipto Tarafder ,Assistant Professor (Law) at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, has analyses whether the post of the governor has outlived its utility.
2.Important functions of the governor include:
(i)monitoring the formation of the government
(ii)Reporting the breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State
(iii)Maintaining the chain of command between the Centre and the State
(iv)Sometimes, reserve his assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature
(v)Promulgate ordinances in the State.
(vi)Ensure the continuation of governance in the states, especially during times of
(vii)Act as a neutral arbiter and settle disputes informally among various strata of the
(viii)Act as the conscience keeper of the Community.
- The process of appointment of the Governor is the root cause for misuse of the position because it is usually a post offered to retired politicians. They are tuned to being faithful to the government of the day and not the constitution. They are also inclined towards a political ideology which makes it difficult for them to maintain the neutrality envisaged by the Constitution.
- Both the Sarkaria and MM Punchhi Commission recommended appointing a neutral “eminent” person as the Governor. But this could lead to a new problem : the intelligentsia behaving in a biased manner in order to gain favourable terms with the political parties.
- But on a positive note, there are examples of politicians doing justice to the post and being neutral without fear or favour.
- In B.P. Singhal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court considered article 156 and the arbitrary removal of the Governor. It recommended a fixed tenure which would encourage neutrality and fairness without fear of removal by the ruling government at the Centre.
- In the S.R Bommai case, the SC sought to curb the misuse of the discretionary power of the governors, following the Sarkaria Commission report. The governor can, on his/her discretion, recommend President’s rule and dismiss the governor in case of a breakdown of the Constitution of the State.
8.The court said that the material upon which the Governor relied to impose the President’s rule and the Governor’s report were open to judicial scrutiny. The SC could any time declare the Governor’s report mala fide and restore the dismissed government,
- The author suggests that the SC can even look into the appointments of thee Chief Minister and dismiss him/her if the appointment was malafide.
- The governor is seen as a link between the Centre and the States.The governor helps maintain the channel of communication between them.
- In India,the balance of power is tilted towards the Centre.
- The author suggests that going by the events in Goa, Manipur and Karnataka, the post of Governor has outlived its utility.
- There is a need to create effective checks and balances in order to prevent misuse of the discretionary power.
- Debates and discussions about the limitations of power of constitutional posts are required to keep our democracy vibrant.
- In this article he observes that it is enough to add checks and balances and not to remove the post of Governor.
Protect the great and small
- The Centre has been gathering inputs from the States on the proposed amendments to Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Species are given varying degrees of protection under 6 schedules of the Wildlife Act. Currently, there are 909 entries in the Schedules
- The schedule lists vital as they determine anti-poaching regulations and measures for habitat protection
- Issues with Schedule list of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:
- Heavy and out-dated list
- No inclusion of scientific research
- Inconsistencies: Confusion between endemic and rare
- For example: Crimson rose, (butterfly) that is widely found in south India, remains as protected as the tiger. On the other hand, near-threatened striped hyena is in Schedule III along with “least concern” species of wild pig or barking deer
- Exclusion: For example, There is no mention of 659 Indian endangered fish species
- Regional/local factors not given due importance:
- For example, Deer and elephants (features in Schedules III and I, respectively)which were introduced in Andaman and Nicobar Islands by British have caused adversely impacted the native flora and fauna
- States should decide inclusion and exclusion of species for protection in the Schedule lists of the Wildlife Act
- Species should be duly ranked in conservation value,
- A multi-parameter list-local habitat loss, cultural significance, population decline to be kept in mind
- Lists should constantly be updated through local research
Centre to start measuring ‘green GDP’ of States
- Central government for the first time calls for a national environment survey to measure green GDP of state.
- The government will start a five-year exercise to compute district-level data of the country’s environmental wealth.
- The data will be used to calculate ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of every states.
4.The data required for the inventory would be sourced from data-sets that already exist with other government ministries.
- The project will begin from September in 54 districts.
- Under the project, Land will be demarcated into “grids” with about 15-20 grids per district
- The grids will capture the key feature which will be used to compute the value these include:
- Diversity of State geography
- Emissions pattern
- The data obtained will help government to understand policy decisions such as:
- Compensation to be paid during land acquisition
- Calculation of funds required for climate mitigation
- The government has also launched a ‘green skilling’ programme under which youth, particularly school dropouts, would be trained in a range of ‘green jobs.
Ban proposed on obscene depiction of women on Net
- The Centre has proposed amendments to the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986, to include digital and internet-based communication services.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has banded the obscene depiction of women on the Internet and on SMS/MMS by amending the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986.
- Provision of the Indecent Representation of Women Act:
- The IRW Act provides for punishment of up to two years in jail for an offence committed for the first time Imprisonment of six months to five years for a second conviction.
- The Ministry suggested that stricter punishments be awarded for such crimes on par with those recommended under the IT Act, 2008.
- 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.
- The Ministry has proposed amendment in definition of the term ‘advertisement’ which include:
- Digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS, etc
- Any advertisement such as notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, visible representation.
- It seeks to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings, figures, among others.
- The amendment proposed setting up a central authority under the National Commission of Women, including representatives from:
- Advertising Standards Council of India
- Press Council of India
- Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and
- One member with experience of working on women’s issues.
- The Ministry has decided to widen the scope of the law due to technological revolution has led to development of new forms of communication, such as, Whats app, Chat On, Snap chat, Instagram etc.
Farm friction: on the malaise in agriculture
- Farmers are on a 10-day strike to highlight agricultural distress and to nudge the government to take some action.
2. The “Gaon” Bandh:
(i)Many farmer bodies have stopped supplying vegetable and dairy products to major cities.
(ii)The farmers are holding dharnas on different national highways without blocking the
movement of vehicles.
(i)Inflation in prices of vegetables and fruits.(In addition to the existing one in the beginning of
(ii)Fishermen in cities like Mumbai also joined the movement.
- Demands of the farmers:
(i)Increasing Minimum Support Price for crops in accordance with M.S Swaminathan
(ii)Increase procurement price for milk
(iii)Waiver of loans to offset low or negative returns on investments.
- Farmer agitations and problems have been a common phenomena in recent times.For example some some farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, during an agitation for better crop prices. This was followed by agitations in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra etc.
- Reasons behind the strike:
(i)Failure of previous strikes, bandhs, and other efforts to ensure any concrete action from the
(ii)No action taken regarding the government’s assurances of doubling the farmer’s income or
- There is a need for structural reform in the agricultural sector. It must be freed from over regulation.
- The food processing sector is also facing challenges which the government has not rectified inspite of giving assurances a year back. For example, 100% FDI in the Food Retail Business has not taken off as the policy does not allow stocking of non food items.
AAI to embark on study to assess capacity at 48 airports
- Airports Authority of India (AAI) is set to commence a study to assess the capacity of 48 airports.
- The AAI is in the process of selecting a consultant to conduct the survey.
- Status of airport passenger in India:
- All the airports together handled a total of 309 million passengers in 2017-2018
- The current capacity of all airports is 334 million.
- AAI has forecast a demand of approximately 636 million passengers by 2026-2027.
- AAI is looking forward to:
- Initiate the strategic action to cope with the forecast traffic
- To provide required infrastructure and services to its stakeholders at all times
- The AAI will start the study of airports which include:
- Ahmedabad, Pune and Goa, which handle between 5 million and 10 million passengers per annum.
- The airports of Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Bhubaneshwar
- According to a report by CAPA, India needs to invest up to $45 billion on additional capacity to handle 500-600 million air passengers by 2030.
In S-400 deal, U.S. is the elephant in the room
- The proposed purchase of S-400 systems from Russia became a contentious issue between India-US-Russia relation.
2. The Defense Ministry has sent the proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to procure the Russian-developed S-400 missiles..
3. The S-400 is a complex military system comprising:
- Several radars
- Command post
- Different types of missiles and launchers (It track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously)
- It can launch counter-missiles within seconds and shoot them down with great efficiency.
4. The deal has let to standoff between US and India relation and concern raised are :
- U.S. has called for sanctions against Russia.
- U.S. has warned that it will not support the transfer of U.S. military technology.
5. India seek waiver from US sanction. India argue that S-400 acquisition supports the U.S.-India shared goal of enhancing regional capabilities to deter Chinese aggression.
6. Saudi Arabia has also threatened military action against Qatar if goes ahead to acquire S-400 from Russia
Supreme Court backs MCI norms for medical colleges
- Supreme Court in her recent judgment deny re-inspection of medical college which lacks basic standard
- MCI with the support of Centre has appealed to Supreme Court against the Bombay high court judgment.
- Bombay High court ordered MCI for re-inspection of Medical college based on regulation 8(3)(1)(a) of the establishment of Medical Colleges Regulations of 1999.
- Regulation 8 (3) (1) provides that a medical college, which failed the Medical Council of India (MCI) inspection, should be given an opportunity to redeem itself and seek a re-inspection.
- SC in its ruling says that any college seeks for re-inspection, it should satisfy certain minimum standards such as
- The college doesn’t have more than 30% deficiency in faculty
- Residents and the bed occupancy should not be less than 50%.
- In a separate judgment, apex court seeks the response of MCI and CBSE that challenge the MCI norm for upper age limit for NEET for MBBS and BDS courses.
- At present, upper age limit is of 25 years and 30 years for general and reserved categories respectively.
To be an environmental world power
- Kanak Mani Dixit, Kathmandu based journalist, talked about the need of environmental cooperation in South Asia.
- The northern half of subcontinent from Brahmaputra basin to Indus- Ganga plain are running through environmental distress.
- All around the globe, people across the border are joining hand to save our common good but in South Asia this is not happening due to erosion of ‘civility in geopolitics’.
- He observe that wildlife, disease vectors, aerosols and river flows do not respect national boundaries. The environmental trends must be addresses at regional inter-country level.
- The economic and demographic forces are arrayed against the rivers and their right-of-way.
- He raised some concerns about environment in South Asia
- The subcontinent is running out of the resource due to the demands of industrialisation and urbanization.
- Continuation of the colonial-era irrigation model based on flooding the fields depleted water resources.
- Air pollution is damaging New delhi, Kathmandu and Lahore alike but there is no collaboration.
- Construction industry’s demand in Bihar is destroying the chure/shiwalik range of Nepal.
- The rivers were destroyed because of run-of the river hydroelectric schemes in uttrakhand, Sikkim and north east.
- Natural drainage of river is destroyed by highways and railway tracks elevated above the flood line, and bunds encircling towns and cities.
- Reduced flows and urban/industrial effluents have converted our great rivers into sewers.
- Our rivers carry hundreds of tonnes of plastics daily into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
- High-dam construction led to siltation of river belly. There is no way to de-silt big reservoir when fills up with sand and mud.
- Excessive melting of central Himalaya due to ‘atmospheric brown cloud. 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.
- Seet lahar, the ground hugging fog, led to distress of millions of the poorest and shelter-less people of the plains.
- UNEP also mention about the massive climate change in South Asia, especially from the rising sea level.
- Due to this, 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.
- The problem of ‘climate refugee’ will reduce the national boundaries as they move in mass for survival. As for example Farraka Barrage led to movement of lakhs of people from downstream Bangladesh to India. They live undocumented here.
- UN environment programme has choosen India to be the ‘host country’ for World Environment Day for 2018.
- He advised India to take the lead as India is the biggest polluter as well as most vulnerable to environmental damage.
- China has been resolutely tackling air pollution and promoting clean energy. But there is need of more active civil participation.
- He raised concerns about considering environmental activists as anti-national, anti-development in media and social media in recent times.
- He observe that task of preserving the forests and landscapes is primarily the responsibility of indigenous community.
- He observe that there is need for rise of ‘organic environmentalism’ from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable.
- He observe that there is a need of building ‘environmental system’ consist of state and society to protect the South Asia from environmental damage.