General Studies-02

SC brings back ban on firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region

News:

  • The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1, 2017 in a bid to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.

Beyond News:

  • A Bench of Justices reverted to its November 2016 decision to suspend sales of firecrackers “to test itself to find out whether there would be a positive effect of this suspension, particularly during Deepavali period.”
  • The judgment came on petitions challenging the September 12 modification of the November 2016 ban on sale of firecrackers.
  • Perusing records, the Bench pointed to the various efforts made by the government, media and civil society to create awareness of the harms of bursting firecrackers, especially on children.

Rationale behind:

  • It said the adverse effects of burning of crackers during Deepavali have been witnessed year after year.
  • The air quality deteriorates abysmally and the city chokes. It leads to closing the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergent basis, when faced with a “health emergency”.
  • The judgment said the September 12 verdict modifying the ban on sale of firecrackers was taken without the knowledge of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) consistent stand for the past 20 years that sulphur in fireworks should not be permitted.

SC lays stress on safety norms for schools

News: 

The Supreme Court on Monday stressed the need for safety guidelines for children in schools across India which makes authorities accountable and result in adverse consequences upon them in cases of violation.

Beyond News: 

  • It had made three additions to the school safety guidelines on three separate occasions and handed it over to the States for implementation.
  • The court was hearing a petition filed by the father of Pradyuman, who was found brutally murdered on the premises of Gurugram’s Ryan International School.

Petitioners Stand:

  • Mr. Kumar said the Centre has also modified the National Disaster Management guidelines, specifically focusing on the safety of school children, and to prevent the occurrence of such tragic incidents.

Centres stand: 

  • The Centre said it has already prepared an affidavit on the steps taken and would file it in the Supreme Court in the course of the day.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had recently filed an affidavit stating that the Gurugram incident took place due to the “negligence” of the administration as drivers and conductors were allowed to use washrooms meant for students.

U.S. bid to inject India in Afghanistan won’t work: Pakistan

News:

  • Rejecting any role for India in Afghanistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday warned that the Trump administration’s desire to inject New Delhi in the war-torn country would be “detrimental”.

Beyond News:

  • U.S. President Donald Trump in August unveiled his South Asia policy and vowed to boost strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan.
  • Mr. Trump also sought an enhanced role for India to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
  • India has been supporting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation, and advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.
  • Mr. Abbasi said Pakistan had major U.S. weapons systems in its military, but it also possessed Chinese and European systems, and more recently it inducted Russian attack helicopters.

{Op-Ed}Towards transparency — on judicial appointments.

Issue: Op-Ed is all about the SC decision to publish reasons for selection & rejection of judges in public platform.

  • The Supreme Court collegium’s decision to disclose the reasons for its recommendations marks a historic and welcome departure from the entrenched culture of secrecy surrounding judicial appointments.
  • The collegium, comprises the Chief Justice of India and four senior judges.

What all will be revealed?

  1. The reasons behind decisions on the initial appointment of candidates to High Court benches
  2. their confirmation as permanent judges
  3. elevation as High Court Chief Justices and to the Supreme Court
  4. transfer of judges and Chief Justices from one High Court to another.
  • It is important to strike the right balance between full disclosure and opaqueness. It is to be hoped that this balancing of transparency and confidentiality will augur well for the judiciary.
  • The introduction of transparency acquires salience in the light of the resignation of Justice Jayant M. Patel of the Karnataka High Court after he was transferred to the Allahabad High Court as a puisne judge, despite his being senior enough to be a High Court Chief Justice.

Current scenario:

  • There are 387 vacancies in the various High Courts as on October 1.
  • The mammoth task of filling these vacancies would be better served if a revised Memorandum of Procedure for appointments is agreed upon soon.
  • A screening system, along with a permanent secretariat for the collegium, would be ideal for the task.
  • The introduction of transparency should be backed by a continuous process of addressing perceived shortcomings.
  • The present disclosure norm is a commendable beginning.

Bay of Bengal diplomacy

News:

  • India will seek to reaffirm its regional leadership in environmental and climate diplomacy as it hosts the first Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic CooperationDisaster Management Exercise (BIMSTEC DMEx 2017) starting October 10.

Beyond News:

  • The BIMSTEC region, comprising 22% of the global population, is exposed to an ever-increasing threat from natural disasters.
  • Whether it is the recurrent floods affecting Assam, West Bengal and downstream in Bangladesh or Himalayan landslides in India and Nepal, regular disasters in the sub-region continue to cause transboundary impacts, damaging lives, livelihoods and assets, often leading to mass displacement and migration across borders.
  • BIMSTEC,  has the opportunity to enable a paradigm policy shift from a traditional relief centric, reactive approach towards a joint, proactive, holistic one that encompasses disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation and risk reduction among member states.
  • In order to strengthen inter-governmental coordination, among BIMSTEC members, the first step would be to devise a comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) regional action plan.
  • The road map should reflect a clear strategy to integrate DRR in all development programmes of member nations, adopt a multi-hazard and multi-sectoral approach to DRR and work towards common outcomes through institutionalising partnerships across all levels of governance.

Building capacity

  • India has volunteered to lead the Environment and Natural Disaster Agenda under BIMSTEC, and must make the best of this opportunity by translating the learnings from the disaster management experiences of SAARC and ASEAN.
  • This is also an opportunity for India to take a measured approach and add value to its own regional agenda.
  • General Studies-03

{Op-Ed}Problem animals — on wildlife protection strategies

Key issue: In June this year, the Bombay High Court quashed an order by the Maharashtra Forest Department to shoot a tigress in the Bramhapuri region after she killed two persons.

Rationale behind:

  • The death warrant was overturned as a result of a Public Interest Litigation petition by an animal rights activist, which argued that the tigress’s behaviour had been forged by illegal human intrusion into her territory.
  • Forest officials were then forced to capture the problem animal and re-release her in the Bor forest reserve, less than 200 km away, putting another set of villagers in harm’s way.
  • The released tigress went on to kill two others in Bor, and the authorities scrambled to capture her again. Such actions go against conservation science.

Core issues behind: 

    • Translocating a large carnivore as a response to conflict does not work.
  • Large predators need a certain prey density and are territorial, and they would tend to find their way back, even over hundreds of kilometres, to their original habitat.

A 2011 study in Maharashtra showed that moving leopards from one region to another to reduce attacks on livestock only increased attacks on humans. To translocate a tiger in response to man-eating behaviour is absurd.

  • A major challenge for India in the coming years will be to engage rural communities in conservation, because our burgeoning population and a revival in tiger numbers will only increase the intensity of conflict.
  • Coercing terrified villagers to co-exist with man-eaters is the best way to ensure we lose our chance of doing that.

Will consult States on bringing petroleum products within scope of GST, says Modi

News:

The Union government would consult the States on bringing petroleum products into the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

Beyond News:

  • The Centre now levies an excise duty of ₹19.48 a litre on petrol and the States levy VAT ranging between 6% and 48%.
  • Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has repeatedly urged the GST Council to bring petrol and diesel under the GST.
  • Besides petrol and diesel, natural gas, and alcohol are also outside the GST.

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