FROM INSIGHTS MAGAZINE TEAM
January 10, 2014
POLITY & GOVERNMENT BILLS
Supreme court orders states to probe all acquittals
- Far reaching implications for law enforcement and the criminal justice system
- Every criminal case with accused being acquitted will have to be examined by state govts to ascertain whether there were any lapses by police and the prosecution or if accused were deliberately framed
- 6 months time has been given to state govts to put in place a mechanism to examine all acquittal orders and record reasons for failure of prosecution cases. It also suggested a standing committee of seniors officers of police and prosecution departments be vested with aforesaid authority and penal action for erring officers
- Also ordered govts to evolve a concrete procedure so that only those against whom sufficient evidence if available shall undergo rigors of criminal prosecution
- An acquittal means either police or prosecution failed to secure justice for the victims or the accused has been framed
MoEF set to notify new Forest conservation rules 2013 replacing 2003 rules
- Realistic tiered timelines to grant forest clearances depending on requirement of forest land and Explanation by state governments in case of delay along with appropriate action against the responsible officials.
- More relaxed and shorter forest clearance procedure for exploratory/prospecting projects. Earlier these projects through entire forest clearance procedure as full-fledged mining projects
- Under new rules the total timeline including at central and state levels is 140 days for diversion of forest land up to 5ha and it goes up to 300days for projects involving forest land diversion more than 100ha
- CPM opposed these rules saying that the MoEF is trying to circumvent Forest Rights Act and give all powers to bureaucracy as against gram sabhas with regard to settlement of rights involved in projects that require diversions of forest land
Indo-Japan Relations and Issue of China
One of the main contributing factors to the question of peace and security in the Asian region is the phenomenal growth of China. These include the rise of China as an economic power. This rise in the last decade has also led to increased military spending by China, creating one of the most sophisticated armed forces in the world. Consequently, China has used its military and economic power to assert its dominance in Asia.
For both India and Japan, China is a challenge as well as an opportunity. China’s claim over the South China Sea makes the security environment in the East Asian region fragile. Despite tensions between India and China, and Japan and China, their bilateral economic relations have flourished.
China’s position in the world clearly demonstrates the importance of having financial power. Japan cannot afford to derail the process of deepening economic ties with China. Similarly, any irritants between India and China, in the political domain, have not deterred strengthening of economic ties between the two. Engaging China, rather than infuriating it by designing a strategy of containment, would be in the larger interests of securing peace and stability in Asia because the Chinese have spent significant dollars on military expenditures.
Chinese military expenditures were almost 1.5 times more than the defence outlay which stood at 788.0 billion yuan in the year 2010. This expansion of military power is a cause of concern for both countries as they are engaged in talks with China over Arunachal Pradesh and Senoku Islands.
Every relationship has its ups and downs and the Indo-Japan relationship is no exception.
Over the past year, Indo-Japanese relations have gained new momentum. In the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “the time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnership that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole”. In Abe’s words “a strong India is in the best interest of Japan, and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India”. Given the Shared areas of interest and mutual issues of concern, Both the countries have a long way to go together. Might be in near future, they will emerged as a global players in real sense.
To be continued tomorrow :)
International Monetary Fund (IMF)- Structure, Functions, Objectives, and Resources .
IMF came into being on December 27, 1945 when 29 countries of the world signed on ‘’Aricles of Agreement’’. It started functioning in march 1947.
the board of governors is the supreme body of IMF, which is headed by governorand an alternate governor who are appointed by the members of the fund. The of governors deals with the entry of new members, determination of quotas and distribution of SDRs. Board of governor consists of one governor from each of its 188 members. There is an annual meeting of the fund which is held once in a year all members participate in it.
The other big authority in the IMF is ‘Executive Board’. It has a Managing director who is the chairman of the executive board and controls day-to-day matters of the fund.
- To increase international cooperation by providing consultancy services regarding international monetary issues.
- To assist in the balanced growth of world trade, which will be helpful in raising the efficiency, employment and income of the world.
- To stabilize the exchange rate and discourage the tendency of competitive devaluation.
- To abolish those restrictions which are obstacles in the way of world trade and create a multilateral system of payments.
- The countries facing deficit in their balance of payment can borrow from IMF to finance temporarily.
- To reduce the volume and time period of disequilibrium in balance of payment.
- To maintain stable exchange rate policies.
- Surveillance: it is responsibility of the fund to see whether members are serious regarding their functions and responsibilities thus under this function there is regular dialogue and policy advice which IMF offers to each member. Hence IMF makes an appraisal of each member’s economy
- Exchange restrictions: no country can put any type of restrictions on the payment regarding current account. However a country can impose rstrictions on the movement regarding capital amount. Again no country can impose restrictions that the transactions will be made in certain currencies.
- Consultation and Technical Assistance: fund provides technical assistance to its members regarding strengthening their capacity to design and implement effective policies. Fund assists in the area of fiscal policy, monetary policyexchange rate, banking and financial system etc.
- Lending for BOP difficulties: basically fund is aimed to provide assistance to those member countries which suffer from BOP difficulties. But to the poor countries it also assists in the attainment of growth and alleviation of poverty.
The main source of the fund is those subscriptions which are paid by the members in the form of quotas and SDRs. In order to enhance its resources, the fund can borrow from the official as well as non-official sources.
Special Drawing Rights and IMF quota:- the big question at the Bretton Woods conference with respect to the institution that how member country would access international liquidity. After consultation quota was assigned to member countries in accordance to their relative economic power and their credit to IMF. Further members were provided voting rights in proportion to their quotas. Hence there is conflict between developed and developing countries regarding their voting rights as developing nations have lesser say in major decisions of IMF.
SDRs: SDRs are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assests defined and maintained by the IMF. it is not a currency instead represent a claim to currency held by IMF member countries for which they may be exchanged. The value of SDR is defined by a weighted currency basket of four major currencies: the US dollar, the Japanese yen, the Euro and British pound. The central bank of member countries held SDR with IMF and it can be use by them to access fund from IMF in case of financial crisis in their domestic market.
The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
- On 8th Jan, at Balumath, Jharkhand, a group of 250 tribal villagers staged firm protest against the coal mining projects of Tata Steel and Adhunik Power and Natural Resources Ltd..
- They emphatically claimed that they were being forcibly denied their forest rights. Moreover they got little cooperation from local officials and were being threatened by a local pro-mining naxal outfit.
Analysis of The Recognition of Forest Rights Act (2006)
Before dwelling any further, it is necessary to disburse the presumption that in Indian context, forests are the pristine vast stretches of greenery, flora and fauna as in the case of Amazons or Africa. Rather it should be noted that a huge a chunk of tribal population live inside the areas declared in law as forests.
Lump sum purpose of the Act
- To grant ownership of those forest lands to tribal dwellers, which were already under cultivation, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
- To grant tribal dwellers with the usage rights of minor forest produce, grazing zones etc..
- To grant them with proper resettlement and rehabilitation in case of any kind of necessary eviction (either developmental or for conservation purposes).
- To protect forest and wildlife through community conservation programs.
Reasons behind legislation: A critical analysis.
- In India forests are mainly governed by two laws, The Indian Forest Act (1927)(IFA) and The Wildlife Protection Act(1972). The IFA empowers the government to declare any area as forest (Reserved, Protected or Village) and the WPA empowers the government to constitute any area as protected area (National Park, Sanctuary or Reserve), based on studies, reports and recommendations.
- The IFA aims to bring all forests under the centralized control of forest department and take over the lands and rights of people living over there.
- Before Independence, the justification for the Act was give as necessary step for higher timber yield, Post-independence for nation’s Industrial requirements and in current era as a necessity for conservation.
- Thus by law, a Forest Settlement Officer is supposed to survey and settle the rights of people in the area which is going to be declared forests. To no big surprise, these settlement officers either did nothing or recorded the rights of only those who were powerful.
- As a result, millions of people, mostly tribals were declared encroachers in their own homes. They became vulnerable at any time to extortion, jail, assault or eviction. Those who opposed destruction of forests due to Industries, Mining etc. were jailed or evicted.
- Moreover, the serious concern over conservation and the resultant rehabilitation of tribals was not being addressed properly.
Thus, there was need for a set of rules which could address the grievances of these troubled forest dwellers in a more comprehensive and better way. The Forest Rights Act aims at re-invigorating the lost confidence of these people in governance, administration, bring them back in the mainstream development process and help them avail their basic fundamental rights, from which they have long been denied, owing to suppression and exploitation.
Controversy and Misinterpretation:
- A huge section of Indian media and Environmentalists protested against the Forest Rights Act when it was first staged for enactment. And the reason was a gross misinterpretation of the provisions.
- It was wrongly interpreted that the FRA intends to entitle the ownership of forest lands to the tribals in huge proportions, which eventually would result in deforestation and will have devastating effects on flora and fauna.
- But it has to be understood that there is no provision for entitlement of new forest lands. Rather to grant ownership of only those lands, which are already under use. (Cultivation, grazing etc.)
- Moreover it gives communities the legal rights to prevent forests and wildlife, instead of destroying them, as presumed.
Note: For more details on exact provisions of the act and procedures involved, please refer Wikipedia.
A Date Wise Synopsis of Important Environmental Current Affairs:
- Shashi Tharoor was named Person of the year by PETA (INDIA), for taking steps towards animal protection and conservation. Mr. Tharoor recommended NCERT to ban use of animals in training teachers for dissection and other academic activities.
- Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) declared the K. Kasturirangan Committee report as anti- environmental and said that the report was prepared without considering the opinions of local people. They claimed that the report will give opportunities to mafia to exploit the ecologically sensitive areas of Western Ghats. Moreover they said that the committee has a hidden agenda to sabotage the recommendations of Gadgil report, which promotes sustainable development.
Ministry of Environment and Forests granted environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to multi-crore Vizhijam Seaport project in Kerala. MoEF instructed the state government to ensure that
a) Hazardous wastes are disposed in the project area.
b) No hazardous wastes and solid wastes are stored in CRZ.
c) No ground water is extracted from CRZ.
Mango City of Kerala, Muthalamada, has become the first victim of climate change in the state. With nearly 4500 hectares Mango cultivation, Muthalamada is known for its early mango harvest. In fact besides this Mango city, mangoes ripen in January only in Peru and Bolivia. So it is a first to hit the international market and mangoes fetch good export orders and high prices. Flower bloomed late last year due to heavy southeast monsoon and the previous year owing to severe drought.
- The Kerala government has expresses apprehensions over the K.Kasturirangan committee report on Western Ghats, demarcating flaws in the identification of Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) under Environment Protection Act. The panel report has recommended declaring 37%of Western Ghats area as ESA.
- A Pollution Monitoring system was installed on Periyar River, at Eloor, Kerala. The system will continuously monitor Edayar Industrial Area and results of water quality will be displayed live on a display board. The Kerala State Pollution Board will also install 8 surveillance cameras along river banks to monitor changes in color and turbidity.
- Supreme Courts of India ordered the setup of a National Regulatory Body, for processing environmental clearances for industrial projects and implementation of forest policy. The regulator will have offices in most of the states and is a must since the present system under central govt. is deficient. The National regulator will directly deal with Environmental Impact Assessment notification (2006) for every project.
- Sunederbans, the IPCC recognized major climate hot spot fights the destructive implications of climate change without any robust model yet. The team of 50 scientists led by Robert Nicolls (Southampton University) visited Sunderbans to develop a climate change model that can be adapted to secure water supply, health and food security for millions residing along the belt. Every year water rises up to 7 mm in Sunderbans, which may result in large scale migrations.
- An expert committee setup by Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, under the directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT), will decide the standards of multi-tone vehicle horns and sirens. Ironically, while NGT wants regulation to frame guidelines for multi-tone horns, the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR) bans all kinds of multi-toned horns strictly. CMVR restricts any kind of multi toned horn which produces any unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise.
- The Forest Advisory Committee, a statutory authority under Forest Conservation Act, headed by Director General of Forest will reconsider the project proposals awaiting forest clearances. The proposal in Singaruli (M.P.) is in close proximity to the Sanjay Dubhri Tiger reserve. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has already advised against the project, declaring it as an Ecologically sensitive area. The proposal in Saranda, Jharkhand is inside notified Singhbhum Elephant Reserve.
- A rare discovery of conjoined Gray whale calves in the lagoon, Baja (California) is exceptional as till date, any precedent of such a whale has not been found. Siamese whale found were 4 meter long and linked at the waist with the two full heads and tail fins.
- A report was released on Gangotri, one of the largest Himalayan glaciers in Uttrakhand by G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development. The report states the retreating of Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas with a shrinkage in its volume and size. Report also highlights disintegration in the upper region of the glacier due to tectonic activities.