Gist of The Hindu: May + June 2013
Hypertension Major Contributor to Avoidable Deaths in India:
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
Police Reforms Gender Equality
Black Carbon from South Asia Melting Tibetan Glaciers
Nuclear Cooperation, Key to Multiple Projects: Kazakhstan
HYPERTENSION MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO AVOIDABLE DEATHS IN INDIA:
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
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.
NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX FOR NIMZS
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.
VIENNA MEET SEES DIVISIONS ON INDIA’S ENTRY INTO NSG
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,
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),
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
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.
IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAMME & WESTERN CONCERN
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
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
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,
- 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
Why is the present juncture a make or break scenario?
- 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
- 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
- The disintegration took place 32.5 seconds after it entered the
atmosphere, and released an estimated energy of nearly 500 kilotons,
- 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)
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
‘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
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
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 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
- 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
Black Carbon from South Asia Melting Tibetan
- 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
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.