From ocean to ozone, the limits of our planet
- The population of vertebrate species on Earth in the wild saw a dramatic fall of about 30% between 1970 and 2006, with the worst effects being in the tropics and in freshwater ecosystems.
- Destruction of species’ habitats by pollutants and land-use change are obliterating flora and fauna at unprecedented rates.
- In fact, the ecological footprint of humanity ;the natural habitats, such as water and land, transformed or destroyed as a result of human activity -far exceeds the biological capacity of the earth.
- In an attempt to understand the natural world, its relationships with human societies and limits, in 2009, Johan Rockstrom and others from the Stockholm Environment Institute described elements of the biophysical world that link us together.
- Often regarded as a “safe operating space for humanity”, these planetary boundaries include loss of biodiversity, land-use change, changes to nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, ocean acidification, atmospheric aerosols loading, ozone depletion, chemical production, freshwater use and, of course, climate change.
India plans to train Afghan police officers
- After training Afghan National Army officers and soldiers for four years, India is now planning to train Afghan police officers here as well.
- The MoU for the proposal, which will be supported by the United Nations Development Programme, is a first, and was discussed as part of enhancing the security partnership between India and Afghanistan during the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council in Delhi this month.
- There were two separate, high-profile visits to Delhi next week, by U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis on Monday, and Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, which are expected to shape the contours of the U.S.’s newly announced Afghanistan policy, in which U.S. President Donald Trump called for greater Indian involvement in development projects in Afghanistan.
- While Mr. Mattis is in Delhi for bilateral talks on the Indo-U.S. defence partnership, he is expected to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, as well as the U.S.’s declared policy to shut down “safe havens for terror” in Pakistan.
[op-Ed]Hopes and fears
- It is only with a great degree of caution and circumspection that the interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka can be welcomed.
- The panel, chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has done creditably by producing a forward-looking proposal within 18 months of its first sitting.
- It is thus difficult to see the interim report as the beginning of an irreversible process of constitutional reform.
There is room for both hope and fear.
- There is scope for optimism that Sri Lanka’s fractious polity could get its act together and adopt a durable constitution that would protect its unity and stability, distribute powers equitably across ethnic and geographical divisions, and ensure economic prosperity for all.
- The report, which incorporates a framework for key elements of a new constitution, envisages an undivided and indivisible country, with the province as the unit for devolution of power.
- It suggests that the controversial terms ‘unitary’ and ‘federal’ be avoided, and instead Sinhala and Tamil terms that suggest an undivided country be used to describe the republic.
- On the lines of proposals made since the 1990s, the interim report aims to abolish the executive presidency.
- It introduces the concept of ‘subsidiarity’, under which whatever function can be performed by the lowest tier of government should be vested in it.
- Other reforms envisaged are a change from the electoral system solely based on proportional representation to a mixed method under which 60% of parliamentary members will be elected under the first-past-the-post system, and the creation of a second parliamentary chamber representing the provinces.
- The government has promised that the pre-eminent status given to Buddhism will remain, an assurance that may help overcome opposition from the majority.
- The willingness of the Tamil National Alliance to accept a founding document arrived at on the basis of a bipartisan consensus is also a good sign.
Next PSLV launch in November-December
- The next launch of the PSLV will be in November-December, ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said here on Friday.
- There was a real problem in certifying a system or a technology for actual usage.
- This was a problem faced by developing countries. Government agencies and industry partners could design, build, and realise products.
- Technology had to be consistently upgraded so that India was globally competitive & there is a need to accelerate commercialization of technologies we developed.
- The nation faced a major lacuna in terms of design capabilities.
‘Tap services potential to aid world economy’
- Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, representing India at the ‘Asia-Europe Meeting’ (ASEM) Economic Ministers’ meeting in Seoul, said on Friday Asia and Europe must look at ways to boost services trade, which has a multiplier effect on job creation.
- India, which has proposed a global pact on ‘Trade Facilitation in Services’ (TFS) has called for tapping the full potential of the services sector to boost the world economy.
- India had submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a proposal for the TFS, aimed at easing norms, including those related to the movement of skilled workers across borders for short-term work, to boost global services trade growth.
- India is keen that the TFS proposal gains traction before the WTO’s Ministerial Conference in December in Argentina.