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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 26th October 2016


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Front Page / NATIONAL

 

[1].T.N. opposes Centre’s stand on tribunal

The Hindu

Context

Article deals with litigant parties in cauvery dispute challenging centre’s view that verdict of the tribunal in Cauvery case is final and SC has no power over it.

Backdrop

Centre’s opposition: The Centre had vehemently opposed the Supreme Court hearing appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the tribunal decision.

  • Government has submitted that the Supreme Court was barred under Article 262 (3) and provisions of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 from entertaining appeals under Article 136 against the Cauvery tribunal’s award.

Tamil Nadu’s view

The position taken by the Centre that the Supreme Court has no power tojudicially review the Cauvery tribunal’s 2007 award is tantamount to giving the tribunal absolute, uncontrolled, uncanalised and unguided judicial power which negates the rule of law.

  • The State government challenged the Centre’s position, asking when the Supreme Court could review the decisions of a constitutional authority like a State Governor, what prevents the top court from hearing appeals challenging a decision of a mere tribunal formed under a statute.
  • The established legal position is that this court has the power to examine the validity of not only the statutory enactments but also constitutional amendments. It is inconceivable that the framers of the Constitution denied such power of judicial review in respect of decisions of the Tribunal constituted under 1956 Act

Present position

SC has reserved the question of jurisdiction for judgment on October 19 and ordered Karnataka to continue release of 2,000 cusecs of water till further orders.

[2].Embraer probe will continue

The Hindu

Context

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer has been accused of corruption in securing deals.

Backdrop

India had signed a $208-million deal in 2008 for procuring three Emb-145 aircraft for the Airborne Early-Warning and Control Systems (AEW&C) aircraft that are being indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

CBI investigates

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the $208-million deal will go by Indian laws on corruption

  • The investigation agency began a probe after it recently come to light that Embraer is alleged to have used bribes and middlemen to secure contracts in India and Saudi Arabia

National security a concern

Any decision on blacklisting would be taken based on its effect on national security and much delayed guidelines on blacklisting policy would be cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in its next meeting.

 [3].Constitution Bench declines to go into Hindutva verdict

The Hindu

Context

The Supreme Court has declined social activist Teesta Setalvad’s plea to check the “devastating consequences” of its 1995 judgment that Hindutva or Hinduism is a “way of life” and has nothing to do with “narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry”

Clarification given by SC

Supreme Court is now examining only what constitutes corrupt electoral practice under Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • The court said it would not be going into the larger issue of whether Hindutva meant the Hindu religion.

 What is the current case about?

At present, the Constitution Bench is hearing arguments on whether it amounts to a corrupt electoral practice if a candidate uses the services of religious leaders to use their mass appeal to swing votes in his or her favour

Petitioners’ stand

They had appealed to the Bench that the interpretation given in the December 11, 1995 judgment by Justice J.S. Verma had led to “Hindutva becoming a mark of nationalism and citizenship”.

  • Noting that India has reached a crossroads where “narrow and supremacist” interpretations of history, culture, social studies and law threaten the fundamentals of nationhood, the three citizens urged the court to undo the “devastating consequences” of the Ramesh YeshwantPrabhoo v Prabhakar K. Kuntejudgment
  • Court’s interpretation of Hindutva/Hinduism had today led to “demands of homogenization and assimilation of minority communities and SC/STs in the Hindutva way of life”
  • They contended that the judgment’s interpretation of Hindutva had curtailed faith in secularism and stifled India’s academic pursuit and scientific temper

JS Verma judgement

Justice Verma had concluded in 1995 that “no precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Hinduism’; and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage

  • Hindutva, a way of life: Classifying Hindutva as a way of life of the people in the sub-continent, he dismissed the idea of equating the abstract terms Hindutva or Hinduism with the “narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry”.

[4].Reduced role for Centre in CBI appointment:

The Hindu

Context

Centre is to be entirely guided by a panel headed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

 Backdrop

The early 2013 landmark verdict of the Supreme Court deals with issues related to the status of the CBI as well as the CVC, procedure on appointment of CBI Director and the changed eligibility criteria for selection of the Director of Prosecution.

  • The apex court has said that henceforth the selection of the Director of Prosecution shall be on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.

 

Following the directives of the apex court, the Centre now is to be entirely guided by a panel headed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

 

Editorial/OPINION

[1]. Dealing with the Maoists

The Hindu

Context

The death of 28 members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in an operation by the security forces on the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border is a big blow to the outlawed group.

Military setbacks for Maoists

  • The joint operation was led by anti-Naxalite units of the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police at Panasput village in Malkangiri district in Odisha
  • In September 2013, 13 Maoists were killed by the Odisha police in the same district, and the latest operation indicates the strength of the special forces deployed to counter insurgency in these States.

 

Political setbacks

Maoists are today diminished politically as well

  • Desertion and surrenders: The desertion of one of the top tribal leaders, Sabyasachi Panda, in 2012 and the surrender of tribal cadres in Narayanpatna in Koraput district have set the Maoists on the back foot in southern Odisha
  • Political mess: It is believed that the attacked cadres at Malkangiri district were at a meeting organised to examine ways of getting out of the current organisational and political situation
  • Unable to expand: The Maoists have been unable to expand as a political force in the plains areas; and as a guerrilla force they have been limited to the remote and hilly tribal belt of central India.

Dealing with the problem

The state, for over a decade has failed in its dual strategy of containing the military threat of the Maoists and expanding its development in these backward districts.

  • After driving the Maoists away from undivided Andhra Pradesh into parts of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha, this strategy has been implemented unevenly and with mixed results. A state of civil war along with tribal repression, persists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region
  • In other parts, the implementation of development and welfare programmes has been slow. Greater political will is needed to address these shortcomings.

 

ECONOMY

[1]. India inches up a notch in WB ease of business ranking:

 

The Hindu

Context

India improved its position to 130 in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2017 report. Getting electricity, paying taxes and enforcing contracts are now easier

Marginal improvement

India which had been ranked 130 in the 2016 report, was placed at 131 according to the revised rankings for last year, thus reflecting a marginal improvement

 

World Bank has praised the government for the reforms it undertook last year and noted that India had made a noticeable improvement in the distance to frontier (DTF) score — an absolute measure of progress towards best practices.

  • DTF score is an absolute figure
  • India has improved and is at 55.27 compared with last year’s 53.93, while the perfect score is 100. New Zealand that is ranked first has a DTF score of 87.01

World Bank Doing Business Report

Word Bank Doing Business reports were introduced in 2004

  • They review business regulations and their enforcement across countries —190 this year
  • The latest edition takes into account developments in one year up until June 1, 2016

Reform measures that helped improved India’s DTF score

Four reform measures undertaken by India during the year helped the country improve its DTF score. Following reform the below mentioned things have become easier in India,

  • Getting electricity: India made getting electricity faster and cheaper by streamlining the process of getting a new commercial electricity connection
  • Paying taxes: Paying taxes is easier after the introduction of an electronic system for paying employee state insurance contributions
  • Trading across borders: Exporting and importing is easier because of the introduction of ICEGATE portal and simplification of border and documentary procedures
  • Enforcing contracts: India made enforcing contracts easier by creating dedicated divisions to resolve commercial cases

Observations of the report

The overhaul of the Companies Act has brought Indian “companies in line with global standards, particularly regarding accountability and corporate governance practices

[2]. Workplace gender gaps persist: WEF 

The Hindu

Context

Article deals with the Global Gender Report by World Economic Forum (WEF)

Observations of the report

  • Gender Gap narrows: The gender gap in India has narrowed down over the past year — with the gap closing in primary and secondary education enrolments — pushing it up in the Forum’s global gender gap rankings from 108 last year to 87 in 2016

Stat: India has closed its gender gap by 2 per cent in a year. Overall, India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries, coming in at 135th for labour force participation and 137 for estimated earned income

  • India remains one of the worst countries in the world for women in terms of labour force participation, income levels as well as health and survival
  • Global Gender gap: The global workplace gender gap, measured in terms of economic participation and opportunities, is getting worse and stands at the highest level since 2008, according to the WEF. This gap will ‘now not close until the year 2186,’ going by current trends
  • Bangladesh tops: Within South Asia, India’s neighbor Bangladesh is the top performer (ranked 72nd), recording progress on the political empowerment gender gap but it still has a wider gap on women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income
  • Political empowerment of women in India: India’s women rank highly on political empowerment (9th in the world) and the country is closing the gap on wage equality and across all indicators of the educational attainment sub-index, “fully closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps.”
  • India also sees some regression on women’s estimated earned income and continues to rank third-lowest in the world on Health and Survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country on this sub-index over the past decade

Parameters

WEF compiles the Global Gender Gap report examining the following 4 dimensions of gender equality,

  • Economic participation
  • Education
  • Health
  • Politics

[3]. Cities at Crossroads:

Indian Express

Context

So-called landfills do not address the problems of solid waste management

Sweeping streets with brooms only touches the tip of the problem, especially if there is no mechanism to dispose of what is swept up.

  • Scientific Disposal of waste: The way to keep a city clean is to ensure that segregated waste is collected from homes and/or commercial establishments, and after providing for recycling and resource recovery, what is left (which is much reduced in volume) is disposed of scientifically.

Actual scenario:While the Solid Waste Rules of 2016 and the MSW Rules of 2000 call for “primary” door-to-door collection of waste segregated at source, most municipal corporations and municipalities only make “secondary” collection of unsegregated waste from community bins.

Solution:Swacch Bharat should be focussed on motivating and nudging people to reduce their waste and segregate it into wet, dry, recyclables, etc, and for the municipalities to collect this waste and put it through separate treatment streams for resource recovery and dispose of the residue scientifically

  • Community bins: Garbage is taken from community dustbins to landfill sites outside the cities. Author says that such sites should be termed as garbage hills instead as garbage is stacked at these sites for months, years and even decades. They are a huge public health risk. If we focus only on clearing the community bins in different localities but not on what needs to be done with the waste from that point onwards, we will only make the garbage hills around us higher and will not create swacch cities.

 Problem with landfills

  • Fire at landfills: These landfills are prone to fire hazards due to inflammable material such as plastic, wires and cables, rubber, clothes, paper and garden waste are routinely dumped there without any segregation. The methane produced is highly combustible and catches fire easily, particularly in the summer months.
  1. Only Ghazipur has a plant to capture methane and convert it into energy, although even there, its limited capacity can generate only 12 MW of energy. A mere cigarette stub or a half-lit match is enough to cause accidental fires. More often, youngsters are paid to set fire to waste heaps at these sites to recover metals and other materials of scrap value.

Example: News of fires at Deonar, one of the three landfill sites into which Mumbai’s municipal solid waste is dumped, and also at Bhalswa and Ghazipur, two of the three landfill sites for Delhi, hit the headlines in September 2016

  • Low life expectancy: There are a number of settlements on the edge of the Deonar site, and a study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai has documented the average life expectancy in this area at less than 50 years — much lower than the all-India average of 68 years.
  • Underweight children & Maternal Mortality: Every second child living in the vicinity of such landfills is underweight and there is very high incidence of maternal mortality

Story of Ghazipur& a possible solution

 Oldest landfill: Ghazipur is Delhi’s oldest and largest “landfill” site which is spread across 71 acres and is filled beyond capacity. It was never engineered as a sanitary landfill.

 Unsegregated dumping: Since 1984, indiscriminate dumping has produced a hill of unsegregated garbage which is 45 metres high — about two-thirds the height of the QutabMinar.

 Toxic gas generator: Ghazipur is also spewing toxic gases into Delhi’s environment and causing enormous damage to health.

Earning a living: A colony of ragpickers has set up home next to Ghazipur slum, risking their health for the sake of their livelihood.

 A possible solution: If a recycling mechanism can be put in place by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation by working with informal rag-pickers, as has been done in Pune and Pammal, it would reduce their compulsion to live in toxic surroundings and also reduce the wastage of fuel in carting large volumes of waste to the dumpsite which is described as a landfill.

Sanitary landfills

Sanitary landfills are sites where waste is isolated from the environment until it is safe, that is, until it has completely degraded biologically, chemically and physically.

  • Preparing underground pits: This is done by preparing large and deep underground pits into which the residual waste is deposited in layers and compacted with bulldozers in between scientific layering of geotextile material, and sealed with impermeable synthetic liners to ensure airtight closure and prevent leaching of harmful chemicals into groundwater.
  • Collecting methane gas: Provision is also made for collecting the methane gas that is generated to be used as a substitute fuel.
  • Closing landfill:After closing a landfill scientifically, a cover of topsoil is placed and the land is reclaimed for developing public parks or other green spaces.
  • Landfills must be used only for residual waste:Given the scarcity of land, landfills must be only for the residual waste after the waste has been reduced, segregated, recycled, and resource recovery has been accomplished

Conclusion

As far as managing our current flow of waste is concerned, we must begin with making segregation at source mandatory and enforcing it seriously. Together with campaigns on reduction and recycling of waste, it would then leave us with a number of options on converting waste to energy and prepare sanitary landfills only for what remains.

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