Gist of The Hindu: May + Jun 2013

Gist of The Hindu: May + June 2013


  • Hypertension Major Contributor to Avoidable Deaths in India: WHO

  • No Capital Gains Tax for NIMZs

  • Vienna Meet Sees Divisions on India’s Entry into NSG

  • The P-5 Club

  • Antarctica Concerns Grow as Tourism Numbers Rise

  • Abel Prize for Belgian Pierre Deligne

  • Universal, Rights-based Goals

  • Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Eights

  • India up in Arms against ‘Imbalance’ in ATT Draft

  • BRICS and Mortar for India’s Global Role

  • ISRO Plans a New High-resolution Earth Satellite

  • UNDP Brackets India with Equatorial Guinea in Human Development Index

  • Police Reforms Gender Equality

  • Black Carbon from South Asia Melting Tibetan Glaciers

  • Nuclear Cooperation, Key to Multiple Projects: Kazakhstan


  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) is finalising a set of nine voluntary global targets that will help in reducing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly hypertension which is a major contributor to cardio- ascular diseases.

  • The voluntary targets being discussed are reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 25 per cent by 2020 — by reducing intake of alcohol and physical inactivity by 10 percent each and intake of salt/sodium by 30
    per cent. This will reduce high blood pressure incidence by 25 per cent.

  • Use of tobacco is targeted to be brought down by 30 per cent in addition to improving medicines, technology and counselling.

  • Hypertension is a major contributor to avoidable death and disease in India, too, with an increasing impact in the rural areas.

  • Over 140 million people are believed to be suffering from high blood pressure in the country and the number is expected to cross the 214 million mark in 2030. Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardio-vascular diseases that killed 2.7 million people in 2004 and will result in the death of over 4 million people by 2030.


  • The Central Government, came out with sops for setting up of National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs) doling out various benefits, including exemption from capital gains tax and eligibility for viability gap funding.

  • According to the document notified by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the units in the NIMZs will be exempted from capital gains tax on sale of plant and machinery.

  • The tax break will be granted in case of reinvestment of sale consideration within three years for purchase of new plant and machinery in any other unit located in the same NIMZ or another NIMZ.

  • NIMZs will now be eligible for Viability Gap Funding, which cannot exceed 20 per cent of the project cost. As per the norms, developers of NIMZs will be allowed to raise funds through external commercial borrowings (ECBs) for developing the internal infrastructure. Soft loans from multilateral institutions will be explored for funding infrastructure development in NIMZ.

  • Similarly, assistance would be provided for negotiating non-sovereign multilateral loansby providing back-to-back support, if necessary. On the issue of labour policy, the government will put in place a job loss scheme to enable units to pay suitable compensation, in the eventuality of closures, through insurance.

  • The compensation under this instrument would be equivalent to 20 days’ average pay for every completed year of continuous service, or any part thereof in excess of six months, it said.

  • The government has proposed to set up 11 NIMZs to enhance the share of manufacturing in gross domestic product (GDP) to 25 per cent within a decade and creating 100 million jobs. Welcoming the new norms, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said these guidelines provided a clarity and direction to investors on how the NIMZs needed to be developed.


  • The United States and three other big powers this week argued for allowing nuclear-armed India into an atomic export control group, but China and several European states appeared doubtful about the move, diplomats said.

  • The divisions were in evidence during closed-door talks of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group on whether India could join and become the NSG’s only member outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they said.

  • The U.S., France, Britain and Russia were among those which backed India — Asia’s third largest economy — while smaller European states such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Switzerland had reservations.

  • China stressed need for equal treatment in South Asia, an apparent reference to its ally Pakistan, which is also outside the NPT and has also tested atomic bombs.

  • The NSG — which includes the U.S., Russia, China, European Union countries and some others — is a cartel that tries to ensure that civilian nuclear exports are not diverted for military purposes.

  • India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, have both refused to sign the 189- nation NPT, which would oblige them to scrap nuclear weapons.

  • Close relations between China and Pakistan reflect a long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to counter U.S. influence across the region.


  • Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers in Almaty are the first to indicate the emergence of a possible way out of the stalemate over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.

  • In the talks, the P5+1 dropped three earlier demands: that Iran stop enriching uranium to a 20 per cent concentration of the U-235 isotope, that it close down its heavily fortified Fordow enrichment plant, and that it send its stockpile of enriched fuel abroad.

  • The United States now issues blanket waivers for countries which buy Iranian oil. Secondly, the EU General Court has ruled EU sanctions on two major Iranian banks unlawful. And yet, sanctions have hit Iran’s economy and its people hard: the rial has fallen 40 per cent in the past year, and unemployment is rising.

  • American and European bans have also intimidated many countries and private companies into suspending Iranian links. So anything which helps reverse the sanctions tide ought to be welcomed by Tehran.

  • The latest P5+1 offer is proof that the hardline positions the U.S. has taken on the Iranian nuclear issue in the past have been counterproductive.

  • Two years ago, the Obama administration scuttled a Turkish-Brazilian proposal that would have involved Iran shipping a major chunk of its 3.5 per cent enriched uranium stockpile to Turkey in exchange for enough 20 per cent uranium to produce medical isotopes at the Tehran Research Reactor.

  • By killing that deal, the U.S. merely ensured that the Iranians went ahead and produced the 20 per cent uranium themselves.

  • It was to sidestep this sort of outcome that the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el-Baradei, had first floated the idea of a freeze in sanctions on Iran in exchange for a freeze in enrichment. The Almaty offer suggests the U.S. has finally understood that this is the only way to move forward.

The P-5 Club

  • The exclusive P-5 (Permanent Five) club. Theirs is an entrenched reluctance to share the high table with others and, from their perspective, understandably so.
  • Presently, at least two of them would be hard put to justify their privileged position. Frequently, the P-5 mouth platitudes to please the aspirants, even whilst their negotiators at the United Nations do whatever it takes to hold back progress.
  • Second, the UfC or the Coffee Club countries which at best total 10-11, including our neighbour on the west, along with Italy and a few others. Secure in the knowledge that they would never make it to the expanded setting, they work overtime to create fissures and stall forward movement to keep the house divided.

Need for s128 Votes

For Security Council reform to take place, a minimum of 128 votes will be required in the General Assembly on a resolution calling for expansion in both the categories. In a subsequent phase, individual countries would have to demonstrate their ability to garner 128 votes for their candidatures. Ratification by legislatures of member states would then make possible the Charter amendment.

Why is the present juncture a make or break scenario?

Celestial Fireball

  • The 2012 DA14 asteroid tracked in advance did not harm us; it skimmed past nearly 27,600 km from the Earth on February 15.
  • But the same day, a meteor, unconnected with 2012 DA14, came out of the blue and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia at 9.25 am local time injuring more than a thousand people. It has many firsts to its credit.
  • The 55-foot meteor weighed about 10,000 tonnes before it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is the largest known celestial object to strike Earth more than a century after the one that came crashing down over the Tunguska River in Siberia in 1908.
  • The Chelyabinsk meteor had a speed of only 18 km per second, far less than the April 22, 2012 Sutter’s Mill record speed of 28.6 km per second. Once the Russian meteor entered the atmosphere, a combination of pressure and heat caused it to break apart 19-24 kilometres above the earth producing a fireball that blazed across the sky. According to the Russian Geographic Society, the bright flare was more than 2,500 degree C.
  • The disintegration took place 32.5 seconds after it entered the atmosphere, and released an estimated energy of nearly 500 kilotons, NASA notes.
  • The shockwaves caused by the explosion shattered glass and damaged many buildings. The infrasound produced by the meteor was the strongest ever detected by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBT) sensors.

CITES Convention

  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the only treaty that regulates international trade in wildlife, has banned any trade in tiger parts, either domestically or internationally.

  • The trade, so far, thus has been understood as illegal. But here is the shocker: a new investigation in China by the United Kingdom-basedEnvironmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has found that domestic trade in China in tiger parts, for skins and tiger wine, is allowed, nurtured, and legalised .

  • CITES has begun its 16th Conference of Parties (CoP16) in Bangkok, Thailand (March 3-14).

  • The issue of stockpiles and their sale will come up again, but these international negotiations, while otherwise useful, will be far from adequate to secure our wildlife. As long as stockpiles exist, the only way for India to save its elephants, tigers (and other widely poached animals) is to enforce domestic protection.

  • CITES classifies species under different Appendices, consequent to international threats from poaching and rarity of the species.

  • Elephants, both Asian and African, are on Appendix 1, with a ban on trade in ivory. Several African states allow trophy hunting and management-based culling quotas for shooting elephants.

  • There are thus tonnes of ivory in stockpiles in several African countries. Consequently, several countries demand licences for the legal sale of elephant ivory.

  • In 2007, CITES allowed a one-off sale of ivory in government-held stockpiles for Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. At CoP16, CITES will discuss the workings of a “decision-making mechanism” for further sale of ivory.

  • This will remain a pulsating threat to wild elephants in India and African countries.

  • Consider the numbers: a new study shows that 11,000 elephants have been poached in Gabon since 2004; this year, poachers in Kenya killed a family of 11 elephants. Last year, in what is perhaps a newly documented trend, poachers shot down thousands of elephants, using machine guns fired from Ugandan helicopters, in Congo (and perhaps in other countries as well). In India, the forest department works hard to ensure the safety of elephants, and the threat of poachers, who are adaptive in the killing of several “lucrative” species as well as enforcers who get in the way, is always a real one.

  • Given the global scenario, at this CITES meeting, India will find itself sandwiched between demand and supply forces: both legal, and illegal in the garb of legal. This outlines with even more urgency the need to keep our own forests safe, and not depend on transnational regimes to save our species.

Antarctica Concerns Grow as Tourism Numbers Rise

In a remote, frozen, almost pristine land where the only human residents are involved in research, that tourism comes with risks, for both the continent and the tourists. Boats pollute water and air, and create the potential for more devastating environmental damage. When something goes wrong, help can be an exceptionally long way off. The downturn triggered by the economic meltdown created an opportunity for the 50 countries that share responsibility through the Antarctic Treaty to set rules to manage tourism, but little has been done. An international committee on Antarctica has produced just two mandatory rules since it was formed, and neither of those is yet in force. It’s not just the numbers of tourists but the activities that are changing.

A major worry is that a large cruise ship carrying thousands of passengers will run into trouble in these ice-clogged, storm-prone and poorly charted waters, creating an environmentally disastrous oil spill and a humanitarian crisis for the sparsely resourced Antarctic research stations and distant nations to respond to. The United States has been criticised on environmental grounds for building a 1,600-kilometre (995-mile) ice road from McMurdo Station to the South Pole on which tractors drag fuel and supplies on sleds. The road provides a more reliable alternative to frequently grounded air services.

A Trial Drug Raises hope to Eradicate Malaria

  • A candidate drug (ELQ-300) was found capable of treating and preventing malaria infection, and even blocking transmission during a trial on mice.

  • While the currently available drugs target the parasite at the blood stage of infection, the candidate drug was able to target both the liver and blood stages.

  • Going beyond destroying the parasite in the body, the drug (quinolone-3-diaryether) was found to be effective in preventing infection by attacking the parasite forms that are crucial to disease transmission (gametocytes, and the vector stages — zygote, ookinete and oocyst).

  • Any drug that does even half of what ELQ-300 is capable of will be a boon — nearly 200 million people in the world suffer from malaria every year, and the mortality is as high as 1.2 million. To make matters worse, resistance to currently available drugs is emerging.

  • Two candidate drugs — ELQ-300 and P4Q-391 — were tested against both Plasmodium falciparum andPlasmodium vivax species . Isolates of P. falciparum and P. vivax taken from patients infected with malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia were tested using both the drug candidates. ELQ-300 was found to be superior against both drug-resistant species.

Abel Prize for Belgian Pierre Deligne

Belgian mathematician Pierre Deligne, who is regarded as one of the most celebrated mathematicians of the 20th century, has been chosen for this year’s prestigious Abel Prize in Mathematics. The 69-year-old professor emeritus of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, is being awarded for his “seminal contributions to algebraic geometry and for their transformative impact on number theory, representation theory and related fields.”

Submarine Variant of BrahMos Test-fired

  • The maiden flight of the submarine variant of the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, was successful when it was test-fired from a pontoon off Visakhapatnam in the Bay of Bengal.
  • It marked a global first in the vertical launch of a supersonic cruise missile from an underwater platform.
  • The anti-ship version of the potent missile, with a range of 290 km, blasted off from the pontoon.
  • “The capability has been proven and the missile is ready for fitment on the Navy’s future submarines under Project 75-I,”.

Oslo Summit Asks: Is Melting Arctic Sea Ice a boon or a bane?

  • With India applying for observer status on the intergovernmental Arctic Council, along with China and other countries, the melting sea ice and its consequences, mainly in terms of opportunities for exploration of natural resources in the Arctic region, is a crucial debate.
  • At the first Arctic Summit organised by The Economist in Oslo on Tuesday, though India was not represented, climate change issues figured as much as the region’s undiscovered natural resources, which many countries and oil companies are eyeing.
  • While India set up a research station in the Arctic in the 2008, and is keen on a say in the area, its neighbour is far ahead of it.A Chinese icebreaker made a three-month journey in the Arctic Ocean last year, thus becoming the first Asian ship to navigate through the treacherous waters.

Putting Bharat on an Equal Footing with India

  • Mr. David Cameron is co-chair, along with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of a 27-member High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) to make “recommendations regarding the vision and shape of a post-2015 development agenda”.
  • The Panel was set up by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and has met three times till now.
  • The inter-governmental process of negotiating and adopting new goals will start with the U.N. General Assembly in September 2013 and will conclude by 2015.

  • India, home to a large segment of humanity and quite far from meeting the present Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will have a key role to play in the agreement over a relevant development framework for post-2015.

Universal, Rights-based Goals

  • A universal set of goals based on principles of human rights should be applicable to all countries. The world is no longer divided into north-south, or east-west. The world order has moved from a G7 world to a G20 world, with the poor living largely in middle-income rather than low-income countries and with aid no longer being the main way out of poverty.
  • In such a world, we cannot have one set of goals for the developing world and another one for the developed world, whose only responsibility in the old world order was to provide aid. We need to ensure that we live in a “more equal” and sustainable world, adopting principles of equity and common good but with differentiated responsibilities to attain that.

Tackling Social Exclusion

Eradication of extreme poverty would mean focusing on the one-third of world’s people with daily income below $1.25 who live in India. However, we need sharper focus on the bottom 20 per cent of the population and at the root causes of poverty and inequality. In India, and elsewhere, this group would consist of groups socially excluded because of discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, ethnicity, or gender. This needs to be tackled at the policy level, rather than just focusing on secular economic growth as the sole means to eliminate poverty.

Combating Inequality

We also need to look at inequality and the relationship between the rich and the poor — say the ratio between the income and wealth of the top 20 per cent and the bottom 20 per cent of the population. This would focus attention on correcting and adjusting the pattern of development during the last decade that has led to widening inequalities worldwide, with the rich enjoying a disproportionate share of the gains from development, and very slow progress in poverty reduction.

Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Eights

We need much stronger emphasis on gender equality compared to the last round of MDGs. A strong goal — building on the commitments already made under the Beijing Platform in 1995 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) — ensuring women’s economic, social and political rights is essential. This could be translated into targets on equal ownership of property, including land, a violence-free life, and equitable representation in law-making bodies.

Combining Inclusiveness and Sustainability

The Rio+20 Conference in June 2012 established an Open Working Group of 30 members to propose “sustainable development goals” (SDGs) for presentation to the U.N. General Assembly. The new MDGs and the SDGs need to be combined into one set of goals that have both inclusiveness and sustainability.

Introducing Monitoring and Accountability

The current MDGs have no monitoring mechanism, eliminating accountability. Once the new goals are adopted, each country needs to set up a tripartite mechanism — including the government, civil society, and the private sector — to monitor progress in the attainment of the new MDGs.

Giant Leap in the Theory of Universe

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) unveiled the most detailed map yet of relic radiation from the Big Bang, revealing data it hopes will shed light on the creation and expansion of our Universe.
  • The 50-million pixels, all-sky image of the oldest light adds an edge of precision to some existing theories, defining more precisely the composition of the Universe and its age — about 80 million years older than previously thought.
  • The map is composed of data gathered by ESA’s Planck satellite, launched in May 2009 to study Cosmic Microwave Background — the remains of ancient radiation emitted as the Universe started cooling after the Big Bang.

India up in Arms against ‘Imbalance’ in ATT Draft

  • India may ask western countries to “look for new customers” for their defence equipment as it feels they were instrumental in loading the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) against importers. The Treaty will come up for voting at the U.N. on April 2.

  • India feels let down by the West but welcomed assurances by France and Russia of keeping the ATT out in all future defence contracts.

  • As the largest arms importer in the world, India is concerned about the “imbalance” in the ATT’s final draft. While it allows exporters to unilaterally cancel contracts, a provision to safeguard the interests of importers was quietly dropped.

  • “India has not endorsed the treaty text. The government will take a position after a thorough review. The value of a treaty that does not ensure universal adherence would be obviously questionable,” warned the sources, fearing that the decision to ram through the ATT by a vote would mean it will go the same way as the Oslo Accord on cluster munitions did.

  • The ATT aims at regulating $ 70 billion worth of annual trade in arms. It is expected to be a more effective instrument than the voluntary U.N. register for conventional arms.

  • The third area where Indian views and the text of the final draft do not coincide is the exclusion of gifts and loans from the purview of the Treaty. Sources said this was because of a deal cut between China and the European Union early on in the negotiations.

BRICS and Mortar for India’s Global Role

  • India is at a unique geopolitical moment. On the one hand its neighbourhood and the larger Asian continent are being unpredictably redefined.

  • India and China are charting new geographies of contests, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. The “Arab Spring” has exposed the fundamental inadequacies in Middle Eastern and North African governing structures but has also given rise to an uncertain political future in an important energy-producing region. Last, but certainly not least, China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region has led to increased, if sometimes seemingly unnecessary, conflict with neighbours in Southeast Asia and Japan.

  • On the other hand, the world is seeing a once-in-a-century churn. The global board of directors that sit on the high table and define rules for conduct of political and economic governance are now unrecognisable from the lot just after World War II.

  • India must seize the moment to shape these revisions of rules devised by the Atlantic countries and defend its growth and development interests in areas such as trade, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), space, climate, and energy policy, among others.

  • Regional order and global governance are both in flux and demanding India’s attention. This is not unique by itself. What is different this time around is that India has the capacity, increased capabilities and enhanced level of demonstrated intent to engage with this dual external relations challenge. In order to attain the global power status it desires, India must walk and chew gum at the same time. It must tend to its immediate and extended Asian neighbourhood while also engaging with the task of shaping a new rules-based political and economic order. BRICS represents a uniquely appropriate platform and flexible mechanism with which India can address this dual imperative.

Engaging with China and Russia in an environment free of the sharp edges often wrought in bilateral negotiations will catalyse congruence over an array of mutually important issues. Any stable Asian order must have at its core, a certain level of accord among these three large continental powers. The past would need to be defrayed and the path for future integration would need to sidestep suspicion and history. Annual BRICS summit-level discussions on political and economic matters allow the three countries such an arena of tactical camaraderie. The current moment allows a unique opportunity for the three to shape a new construct for Asia amidst the regional flux. Perhaps at some stage it may be worthwhile having a summit level RIC meeting on the sidelines of BRICS to discuss this Asian project.

On resetting and reshaping economic and political governance, BRICS has the potential to be the new (and often criticised) game changer. The sheer size and rate of growth of intra-BRICS trade and economic exchange will allow each of these countries to exert their collective weight for their individual gains. Who gains more should not matter, as long as every member benefits from this dispensation and the order is visibly equitable.
There are a few benefits that India must seek through and with the BRICS. First, there are many multilateral organisations within which a “BRICS-bloc” can exert significant leverage. The U.N. and World Trade Organization are two such forums. While geopolitical and economic thinking among BRICS is not always in-sync, where there is consensus (and the areas are increasing rapidly) BRICS could be a compelling voice. Like they did on the debates on non-interference and “Responsibility to Protect.” Similarly, India’s views on climate change, financial norms, trade rules and so on could also benefit from BRICS’s aggregate voice. Of course the UNSC membership issue strikes a discordant note but it should not cannibalise the possible coming together on other matters.

ISRO Plans a New High-resolution Earth Satellite

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation is to build a remote sensing satellite, Cartosat-3, capable of taking images of the earth with a resolution of 0.25 metres.

  • Currently, GeoEye-1 produces the highest resolution earth images taken by a commercial satellite. The American spacecraft, launched in September 2008, is capable of taking panchromatic images with 0.41 metre resolution. WorldView-2, another satellite operated by the same company, Digital Globe, offers a best resolution of 0.46 metres. However, in accordance with U.S. regulations, commercially released images from these satellites are degraded to 0.5 metre resolution.

  • Digital Globe plans to launch WorldView-3 next year, which will supply images with a resolution of 0.31 metres. Cartosat-3’s camera would better that performance. In the words of one expert, this satellite’s images could allow a scooter to be distinguished from a car.

  • In 1988, ISRO launched India’s first operational remote-sensing satellite, IRS-1A. The best resolution its cameras could provide was about 36 metres. Seven years later, IRS-1C went into space, with a panchromatic camera that had a resolution of 5.8 metres. It supplied the highest resolution images available from any civilian satellite in the world till Ikonos, an American satellite launched in 1999, began taking images with better than one-metre resolution. India launched the Technology Experiment Satellite in 2001, followed some years later by the Cartosat-2 series of satellites that could take images with 0.8 metre resolution.

Giving Panthera Tigris a Chance

  • India was once the only home to the world’s “big four” cats — the lion, tiger, cheetah and leopard. It also played host to over 13 per cent of global avian species, an impressive number of mammalians and an enviable presence of Lepidopterans (a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies).

  • However, once the Mughals, the British bureaucracy and India’s feudal aristocracy established the hunting of animals to be the ultimate symbol of manhood and nobility, it was only a matter of time before several species became extinct.

  • The earliest recorded extinction was that of the Himalayan Mountain Quail in 1876, followed by the cheetah, when the Rajah of Korwai in northern Madhya Pradesh shot the last three (a mother and her two cubs) on November 24, 1947. Today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, nearly 84 bird species are endangered while among mammals, the tiger is teetering on the brink of extinction.

  • The common Indian is least concerned whether the tiger survives or perishes. Nor does he care about the consequences of global warming or the diminishing green gene pool and biodiversity, which are the key to human survival.

  • India boasts of being home to about 70 per cent of surviving tigers in the world, do I have a feasible plan of action for the species assured survival?

(a) through an ordinance, place all tiger reserves and contiguous sanctuaries and protected/notified forests in the country, together with all their current administrative assets and liabilities, under the existing National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for a decade. Offset the loss of revenue to States arising from this ordinance for the period of its operation, through special budgetary allocations.
(b) concurrently, bring the NTCA under the Prime Minister’s Office.
(c) hold an annual “tiger revival audit” by an independent body of three to five experts, drawn from within and outside the country. Induct 30 per cent new members to the audit team each year and retire an equal number from the previous team.
(d) the Prime Minister must take the annual audit findings as fresh inputs, for mandatory implementation and to keep Parliament informed.
(e) place a moratorium on de-notifications and or alteration of boundaries of existing national parks, tiger reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and notified forests both by Parliament and by State legislatures, through the same ordinance.
(f) enact stringent legislation to deal with poaching
(g) create a “save the tiger caucus” (in the phraseology and practice of the U.S. Capitol Hill) in both Houses of Parliament and State Legislatures, to regularly monitor results and progress on recommendations of the revival audit and insist on midcourse correction when circumstances so demand.

  • Emperor Ashoka chose the Asiatic Lion as the symbol of India’s nationhood. Twenty-two centuries later, the Democratic Republic of India placed the Royal Bengal Tiger on a similar pedestal as the national animal. Let us arise to save both.

  • Let all Indians be fired up by the optimism of Dame Jane Goodall, the British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace, who, when asked by an interviewer in September 2009 if she believed there was “hope for animals and their world,” said: “At one time (the 1980s) there were just 12 Californian Condors [the largest North American land bird and on the verge of extinction] in the wild and one in captivity.

UNDP Brackets India with Equatorial Guinea in Human Development Index

  • India has been ranked 136 among 187 countries evaluated for human development index (HDI) — a measure for assessing progress in life expectancy, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living or gross national income per capita.

  • The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for 2013, released, puts India’s HDI value for the last year at 0.554, placing it in the medium human development category, which it shares with Equatorial Guinea.

  • On the positive side, India’s HDI value went up from 0.345 to 0.554 between 1980 and 2012, an increase of 61 per cent or an average annual increase of 1.5 per cent.

  • Interestingly, the report notes that social movements and the specific issues media highlight do not always result in political transformations benefiting the broader society.

There is a word of appreciation for India for its policies on internal conflicts. “India has shown that while policing may be more effective in curbing violence in the short term, redistribution and overall development are better strategies to prevent and contain civil unrest in the medium term,” the report says, referring to Operation Green Hunt launched against Maoists, which has come under sharp criticism from human rights activists within the country. The other initiatives that have been lauded are the right to education and the rural employment guarantee scheme that provides up to 100 days of unskilled manual labour to eligible poor at a statutory minimum wage. “This initiative [the job guarantee scheme] is promising because it provides access to income and some insurance for the poor against the vagaries of seasonal work and affords individual the self-respect and empowerment associated with work.”

Despite India’s progress, its HDI of 0.554 is below the average of 0.64 for countries in the medium human development group, and of 0.558 for countries in South Asia. From South Asia, countries which are close to India’s HDI rank and population size are Bangladesh and Pakistan with HDIs ranked 146 each. But the report points out that the ranking masks inequality in the distribution of human development across the population.
Even on the Gender Inequality Index — inequalities in reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity — India has been ranked 132nd among the 148 countries for which data is available. In India, only 10.9 per cent of the parliamentary seats are held by women, and 26.6 per cent of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education, compared with 50.4 per cent of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 200 women die of causes related to pregnancy, and female participation in the labour market is 29 per cent, compared with 80.7 per cent for men.

As for the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies multiple deprivations in the same household in education, health and living standard, India’s value averages out at 0.283, a little above Bangladesh’s and Pakistan’s. The figures for evaluating MPI have been drawn from the 2005-06 survey, according to which 53.7 per cent of the population lived in multidimensional poverty, while an additional 16.4 per cent were vulnerable to multiple deprivations.

Police Reforms Gender Equality

  • Behind the rot is the Police Act of 1861 legislated by the British after the Indian Mutiny of 1857 to impose a police force upon their subjects, which could be used solely to consolidate and perpetuate their rule, says Mr. Singh.

  • It has been over a century since the need for reforms was initially felt. The first Indian Police Commission of 1902-03 found that “the police force throughout the country is in a most unsatisfactory condition; that abuses are common everywhere; that this involves great injury to the people and discredit to the government; and that radical reforms are urgently necessary.”

  • “Several commissions and committees have strongly recommended major changes… but the political executive continues to retain its stranglehold on the police. Every successive government finds it convenient to use, misuse and abuse the police for its partisan political ends,” Mr. Singh says.

  • Significantly, three of the seven key Supreme Court directions in the case were — the States were to establish ‘State Security Commission’ (to insulate the police from political pressure), ‘Police Establishment Board’ (to give autonomy in personnel matters), and ‘Police Complaints Authority’ (to look into complaints of police misconduct).

  • A compliance report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) paints a dismal picture. It says that though most States have set up the ‘State Security Commission,’ they do not reflect the court’s criteria with regard to composition, function and powers. Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa and Tamil Nadu have not complied with this directive.

  • Only Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, and Meghalaya are in full compliance with all the criteria laid down by the court for ‘Police Establishment Board,’ while Bihar has been non-compliant.

  • Ironically, no State government has established ‘Police Complaints Authorities’ at district and State levels that fully comply with the court orders. A significant minority — Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh — have completely ignored the directive.

  • Another peculiar case is that of the Model Police Bill, prepared in 2006 by the Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC) of the Union Home Ministry, which complements the court’s judgment. The Ministry, which controls the Delhi Police, was to enact the “Model Act” in the National Capital so that it could be implemented by other States (as law and order in a state subject), but the file has been shuttling between North Block and the Delhi government.

  • Noting that so far only 12 States have enacted their own versions of the new Police Act, CHRI’s Coordinator (Police Reforms Programme) Navaz Kotwal observes: “A cursory look at the recent laws shows that most of these new pieces of legislation are as regressive as — if not more than — the archaic laws that they replaced. New laws are being drafted in complete secrecy by a small lobby of police officers and bureaucrats without involving the public. They give statutory sanction to all the bad practices that existed. Worryingly, these Acts tend to reduce or dilute accountability.”

  • However, since the time the princely state of Travancore appointed women as Special Police Constables in 1933 for the first time in modern India, progress on this front has been tardy. While repeated recommendations state that women should account for at least a third of the civil police force up to the level of sub-inspectors, as of 2011, of a total of 16.6 lakh personnel, only 93,887 were women. This accounted for a mere 5.65 per cent, marking an increase of 4.6 percentage points over two decades since 1991.

  • Among the States, Maharashtra has made a late surge. As of 2011, in absolute terms, it had the highest number of women personnel, doubling the number in two years since 2009. It had 12,813 women in 2009 and the number doubled to 24,219 in 2011, which is 13.2 per cent of the 1.82 lakh-strong force. Tamil Nadu, an early starter, followed with the figure of 15,864, also having doubled the number in the two-year period. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum is Mizoram, with not one woman in a force of 10,861 and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu.

  • Likewise, the representation of women in the Central police forces remains dismal. Women personnel and officers constituted a mere 2 per cent of the more than two lakh troopers recruited by paramilitary forces in the last three years and in the initial few months of 2013. While 20,73,48 personnel were recruited in various ranks in the CRPF, the BSF, the ITBP, the SSB, the CISF, Assam Rifles and so on between 2010 and 2013, the number of women among them was a mere 4,733.

  • Moreover, 13 States and Union Territories have no all-woman police stations. According to data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development, there were just 442 such police stations across India as on January 1, 2011. Tamil Nadu had the maximum number of stations (196), followed by Uttar Pradesh (71). Beyond the numbers, for the women who are already in, there is a range of issues that need to be addressed to mainstream and empower them for the full gamut of policing functions. A lot remains to be done also in terms of working conditions and facilities that are oriented to their needs.

‘Don’t Muddy the Kishenganga Verdict’

The verdict (Part I) of the Court of Arbitration (CoA) on the Kishenganga dispute raised by Pakistan has gone in favour of India on the primary count of whether or not the project ab initio violates the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). On a plain reading of the text of the Treaty, the project was clearly in order. Annexure D, Part 3, Section 15(iii) states, “Where a Plant is located on a tributary of the Jhelum on which Pakistan has any agricultural or hydroelectric use, the water released below the plant may be delivered, if necessary, into another tributary but only to the extent that the then existing agricultural use or hydroelectric use by Pakistan on the former tributary would not be adversely affected.”

The Kishenganga is a tributary of the Jhelum which takes the name Neelum on the Pakistan side of Kashmir. The project under construction by India on this stem was originally planned as a 900 MW storage project but was subsequently converted into a 330 MW run-of-the river scheme following environmental and displacement issues in the Indian catchment. The revised project would divert Kishenganga flows east, less ecological releases, through a tunnel to join the Madmati Nullah. This in turn flows into the Kashmir Valley to join the Wular Lake that is drained by the main Jhelum which flows into the Pakistani side of Kashmir where it is met by the Neelum river a little above Muzaffarabad.

The charge of illegality raised by Pakistan was thus clearly a red herring. The real issue was whether Pakistan would receive sufficient flows for its own 930 MW Neelum-Jhelum project with a vague and fluctuating irrigation component of up to 1,30,000 acres. India had agreed to let down some minimum releases and also argued that these flows would be augmented by other free flowing nullahs that join the river between the Indian and Pakistan dams.

The CoA, however, has ruled that India must maintain a minimum rate of flow below its Kishenganga dam and that it will determine this quantum in its final award to be announced by the year-end. While that award is awaited, what is not clear is whether the CoA satisfied itself about the nature and quantum of Pakistan’s “then existing uses”: when it first raised the issue with India. This a matter on which the Pakistan position has been dodgy from the very start, with varying claims but little to show by way of “then existing uses” on the ground.

This issue needs to be clarified beyond doubt, else it will mean that while India is held to the letter and spirit of the Treaty, Pakistan is not and its water demand may be arbitrarily enhanced at will. The second ruling the CoA has given is on Pakistan’s argument that the Neutral Expert’s (NE) award on the Baglihar dispute is bad insofar as it permits India to deplete its dead storage in order to flush the reservoir of accumulating sediment. India earlier compromised on this issue in the case of the Sallal project, also on the Chenab. In the result the dam all but silted up within a single season, drastically reducing power production. The CoA has however stated the ruling would not apply to Indian projects currently under operation or construction whose designs have been communicated to Pakistan and have not been objected to by the latter.

The fact is that against a total storage of 3.60 million acre feet to which India is entitled on the three western rivers, the current storage is pretty near zero. All its major projects are run-of-river schemes that have strictly determined “pondages.” Section 2(g) of Annexure D, defines a “run-of-river” plant as “a hydroelectric plant that develops power without Live Storage as an integral part of the plant, except for pondage and surcharge storages.” Pondage, in turn, means “Live Storage of only sufficient magnitude to meet the fluctuations in the discharge of the turbines arising from variations in the daily and weekly loads of the plants.” The ponded water must be returned to the river within 24 hours, the system operating much like a circulating fountain.

Third Anti-submarine Warfare corvette launched in Kolkata

  • In a major step towards indigenisation and making the Navy self-reliant, the third anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, designed under the ambitious Project-28 (P-28) by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, was launched in Kolkata.
  • Aimed at enhancing the Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities, the warship, in a first of its kind, will be fitted with indigenous state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including a medium range gun, torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers and close-in weapon system.
  • Being built by one of India’s leading shipbuilders, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), it has been named after an island — Kiltan — in the Lakshwadweep archipelago of India.
  • With nearly 90% indigenisation content, the building of the corvette was a major initiative.
  • The first GRSE-built ASW corvette, Kamorta, is expected to be delivered to the Navy by this year-end. It was launched on April 19, 2010 and had suffered a delay of nearly one year.
  • The remaining ships, according to GRSE, will be delivered by 2016. The fourth ASW corvette will be launched in 2014 and built, fitted and tested and delivered to the Navy in little over 20 months.

Black Carbon from South Asia Melting Tibetan Glaciers

  • Pollutants brought in by monsoon winds from South Asia — and not industrial emissions from China — are behind the melting of glaciers on the Tibetan plateau, a leading Chinese scientist has claimed.

Nuclear Cooperation, Key to Multiple Projects: Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has said interaction with India in nuclear energy will open up prospects for implementation of other “breakthrough projects” in many of the priority sectors. Kazakhstan, the largest and most dynamic economy among five Central Asian states, wants civil nuclear energy cooperation that will benefit both countries. Kazakhstan is a major producer and exporter of uranium and has always signalled its interest in supplying its products to India. Its company Kazatomprom has already signed an MoU with NPCIL. The foundation was laid with the signing of an Inter-Governmental Agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This led to Kazakhstan assuring India of supply of 2,100 tonnes of uranium. “We hope that our cooperation in the nuclear field will lead to intensive cooperation in the exchange of technology and creation of joint ventures,” reiterated Mr. Idrissov, who is fluent in Hindi. The two sides have already agreed to set up a Centre of Excellence in information and communication technology at Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Astana. As it is known, Russia took the initiative in 2000 to establish an international transport corridor “North-South” and Kazakhstan joined it in 2003. Kazakhstan.

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