1. Climate change is not only about change in temperature and water levels. Explain how climate change effects the life of the population living near the affected area. Also, suggest ways to check the steady loss of the mangroves in the sundarbans.(GS 3)

 The Hindu

How does climate change effect the life of the population living near the affected area:-

  • Agriculture:-
    • A decrease in crop yields is projected which increases the likelihood that additional tens of millions of people will be at risk of hunger.
  • Coastal areas:-
    • Due to rising sea-levels, the densely populated “mega-deltas” especially in Asia and Africa and small islands are most at risk from floods, storms and coastal flooding and eventual submerging, with a potential impact on tens of millions of people.
  • Health:
    • The overall impact on health will be negative, especially for the poor, elderly, young and other marginalized sectors of society.
  • Hundreds of millions of people will be exposed to water stress (i.e. droughts and lack of water or flooding, mudslides etc).
  • In areas affected by pollution,climate change would further lead to concentration of carbon dioxide and would lead to health deterioration and diseases.
  • In areas affected by drought there would be enormous stress on water leading to water crisis and starvation for drinking water.

Situation of mangroves of Sunderbans:-

  • The loss in the mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans is about 5.5 %.
  • The continuation of the process in response to climate change and sea level rise poses a serious threat to the carbon sequestration potential and other ecosystem services of this mangrove forest in future.

Measures to check the steady loss of mangroves here :-

  • Suggestions for fortification against erosion on the lines of the dikes in The Netherlands merit scientific evaluation.
  • Strengthening them with endemic plant and tree species that can thrive in changing salinity conditions can provide co-benefits to local communities.
  • Carefully considered ecotourism holds the potential to raise awareness and funds, since the Sundarbans harbour a raft of bird and animal species.
  • There is also a strong case for international climate finance to be channelled to India and Bangladesh for the region’s preservation, given its global uniqueness.
  • Climate research and social science thus have a synergistic role in giving the Sundarbans a greater chance of survival.
  • Creating awareness 
    • People of the area should be made aware about the issues faced by the Sundarbans.
    • The farmers and their families need to be made to understand that they should embrace the issues or changes that they are facing. They should be made aware of the consequences of man made hazards like deforestation etc.
  • Joint efforts by India and Bangladesh: 
    • A joint meeting to save the Sundarbans should be organized between both the countries. It should involve eminent people like scientists or environmentalists and NGO’s. The meeting should develop an action plan and should be monitored periodically.
  • Public -Private partnership:
    • Various international organizations, NGO’s or other banks should come forward to grant the funds to save Sundarbans.
    • The local communities should be provided with funds so that they can consume other sources of nourishment. A regular auditing on the usage of the fund will be very helpful.
  • Encouragement to eco-tourism:-
    • The local communities should be a participant of the friendly tourism practices in order to encourage eco-tourism. A community based eco-tourism model should be developed which would aim to benefit the whole of the community.
  • Creating alternative sources of livelihood :-
    • Both the governments of India and Bangladesh should introduce alternatives for income generation so that the local people need not depend on the mangrove forest resources. People living nearby the mangrove forests depend on the firewood, meat, fish etc.
  • Legislative measures :
    • Impressive legislative measures should be undertaken and implemented by both the governments of India and Bangladesh.
    • A frequent check should be carried out in order to check whether the rules are implemented or not. The neighboring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, China etc should also contribute in whichever way they can to improve the condition of the Sundarbans.
  • Effective use of IT
    • The Information Technology should be utilized effectively to spread the awareness regarding the issue of Sundarbans.
    • Students should be provided with an opportunity to take part in the contests like essay writing, brochure designing etc related to the topic of Sundarbans. This will inculcate in them a sense of responsibility towards the environment. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc should spread the message of saving the Sundarbans.
  • Mangrove plantation:-
    • The plantation of mangrove forests should be encouraged because it will capture the rate of coastal erosion.
    • Mangrove plantation would increase the survival of the Sundarbans. Unless such large scale measures involving the people are taken, Sundarbans might disappear from the maps of both the countries.

2. The government has recently unveiled a new hydrocarbon policy to make the exploration more attractive for the investors. How is the new Open Acreage Licensing Policy different from the previous policies of the government ? Also, comment on the proposed National Data Repository.(GS 3)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • The recently unveiled open acreage licensing policy  which is part of HELP and the National Data Repository together are a significant and welcome step towards opening up the hydrocarbon exploration and production industry in India.

Differences between the two policies:-

  • By placing greater discretion in the hands of explorers and operators, the Licensing Policy attempts to address a major drawback in the New Exploration Licensing Policy, which forced energy explorers to bid for blocks chosen by the government.
  • Companies can now apply for particular areas they deem to be attractive to invest in, and the Centre will put those areas up for bids. This is more attractive for prospective operators because in the past, the blocks chosen by the government often were large swathes of land or sea in which only a small fraction had hydrocarbon reserves
  • By offering companies the freedom to choose exactly the areas they want to explore, and their size, the government has a better chance to woo serious energy investors in an effort to help achieve a more cohesive framework of the country’s energy security.
  • Companies may also submit applications through the year and not just at designated and often infrequent points, as was the case earlier.

National data repository:-

  • It is a centralised database of geological and hydrocarbon information that will be available to all. Besides allowing potential investors to make informed decisions, this will open up a new sector in India.
  • The main objective is to setup National Data Repository of reliable exploration and production data for India with provisions for seamless access and on-line data management.
  • Specific goals are:
    • To validate, store, maintain and reproduce high quality and reliable geoscientific data
    • To facilitate efficient data reporting, data exchange, and data trading among existing players including all geoscientific agencies
    • To improve DGH’s ability to monitor and control the E&P activities and reporting
    • To encourage new E & P activities by providing high quality and reliable data
    • To strengthen overall geoscientific activities in India
    • To support an open acreage system for an improved Global E & P Business environment in India
    • To provide quality E & P data for Processing, Interpretation and Visualization Centres at DGH
    • NDR will primarily safeguard national E&P data asset and shall help and promote exploration and production activities in India.

3. In the context of Israel – Palestinian relation the ‘two-state’ solution is often in news. What does the solution contain and what is India’s stand on it?(GS 2)

Link

Two state solution :-

  • The two-state solution refers to a solution of the Israel Palestine conflict which calls for “two states for two groups of people.”
  • The two-state solution envisages an independent state of Palestine alongside the State of Israel west of the Jordan river.
  • The boundary between the two states is still subject to dispute and negotiation, with Palestinian and Arab leadership insisting on the “1967 borders”, which is not accepted by Israel.
  • As part of it Palestine is provided with Gaza strip and west bank and rest of the land for Israel.
  • The resolution calls for “two States, Israel and Palestine side by side within secure and recognized borders” together with “a just resolution of the refugee question in conformity with UN resolution 194.
  • However continued growth of settlements on the West Bank and continued strong support of settlements by the Israeli government had greatly reduced the land and resources that would be available to a Palestinian state creating doubt among Palestinians and left-wing Israelis that a two-state solution continued to be viable.
  • In January 2012 the European Union Heads of Mission report on East Jerusalem found that Israel’s continuing settlement activities and the fragile situation of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, as well in area C, was making a two-state solution less likely.

India’s stand on the two state solution :-

  • India believes in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully.
  • Humanitarian support as per declarations of human rights and support through donations, UN Military Observer Group
  • Strong diplomatic ties with both Palestine and Israel because both Muslims and Jews form minority community in India.
  • Therefore India has practiced a policy of non interference and positive interaction with both states and indicated peaceful solution to two state- solution.
  • Going forward India should look forward to promote relationship with both countries for the betterment of the region.

4. Violence and crimes against dalits  are ever increasing. State the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 . Is it time to amend some of its provisions so that it is more effectively implemented?(GS 1)

Link

Introduction:-

  • Crimes against the SCs and STs have been on the rise. A total of 39408 crimes against SCs were reported in the year 2013 while the number of crimes against SCs has gone up to 47064 in 2014.

Provisions of SC and ST act 1989:-

  • The provisions of SC/ST Act and Rules can be divided into three different categories, covering a variety of issues related to atrocities against SC/ST people and their position in society.
    • The first category contains provisions of criminal law. It establishes criminal liability for a number of specifically defined atrocities, and extends the scope of certain categories of penalizations given in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
    • The second category contains provisions for relief and compensation for victims of atrocities.
    • The third category contains provisions that establish special authorities for the implementation and monitoring of the Act.
  • The salient features of the Act are:
    • Creation of new types of offences not in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or in the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 (PCRA).
    • Commission of offences only by specified persons (atrocities can be committed only by non-SCs and non-STs on members of the SC or ST communities.Crimes among SCs and STs or between STs and SCs do not come under the purview of this Act)
    • Defines various types of atrocities against SCs/STs and Prescribes stringent punishment for such atrocities.
    • Punishment for neglect of duties by a public servant.
    • Appointment of Special Public Prosecutors
    • Empowers the government to impose collective fines .
    • Provides compensation, relief and rehabilitation for victims of atrocities or their legal heirs
    • Setting up deterrents to avoid committing of atrocities on the SCs amongst others
    • Setting up a mandatory, periodic monitoring system at different levels
    • Investigation of an offence committed under the SC/ST Act cannot be investigated by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).
    • Special courts

Yes ,provisions need to be amended:-

  • Due tothe high rate of acquittal
  • Secondly, the high rate of pendency of cases and very low rate of disposal;
  • Thirdly, inadequate use of the preventive provisions of the Act, while the punitive provisions are invoked and FIR is registered, preventive provisions are rarely invoked;
  • Fourthly, that the committees and other mechanisms provided in the Act have virtually not been put to use
  • The Act deals with atrocities, but restricts its operation to the particular groups based upon caste.  Atrocities which deals with crimes/offences against humanity should not, in my view, be restricted to particular castes or groups.
  • Terming Section 3 of the Act, which prescribes punishment for various caste atrocities as “inclusive and not exhaustive”, the Judge pitched for an “exhaustive definition…so as to cover all atrocities inflicted on any citizen of this country irrelevant of caste, creed, race, sex, or religion”.
  • There is mention of rehabilitation under Section 21(2)(iii), but there are no provision addressing the same.
  • Though the Act does mention that officers and other staff appointed in an area prone to atrocity shall have the right aptitude and understanding of the problems of the SCs and STs  in practice, these officials often collude with their caste brethren and even file counter-cases against the victims or their family members.
  • The majority of the beneficiaries of this Act are unaware of the legitimate claims of leading a dignified way of life or are unwilling to enforce it intensively. Even the Police, prosecutors and judicial officers are unaware of this Act as was pointed out by Calcutta High Court in the case of M.C. Prasannan v. State of West Bengal.
  • Misapplication of the Act by police and the courts aggravates the problem ultimately leads to acquittals..
  • Some atrocities like Social and economic boycott and blackmail are widespread but are not covered here.

 Not needed :-

  • Once a person is notified as SC/ST in any state/UT, they are protected under the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 throughout the country, irrespective of whether the particular caste or tribe is notified in the state/UT where the offence is committed.
  • Legal aid
    • Legal aid is available for all victims regardless of financial status

What can be done in future?

  • To amend the existing POA act to include more offences and to ensure relief and speedy justice to the victims.
  • The Special Courts established under Section 14 of the Act are required to follow the committal procedure under Cr.P.C. Such an interpretation prevents the speedy trial envisaged under the Act. The absence of adequate special courts has resulted in slow disposal of atrocity cases and a huge backlog.

 

 

 

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