Gist of The Hindu: May 2014

Gist of The Hindu: May 2014

TELANGANA BIRTH-PANGS

By getting a resolution rejected the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill for creating Telangana passed by the State Assembly just before the deadline set by President Pranab Mukherjee to consider the Bill, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy did what little he could to protect what he saw as his political constituency: those standing for a united Andhra Pradesh in the Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions. Neither the delay nor the ultimate rejection of the Telangana Bill by the Assembly will have any bearing on the creation of the new State if the Centre stands fi rm on its decision on Telangana. The Chief Minister, in raising legal and technical objections to the Bill, might have managed to convey the opposition of large sections of the people in Seemandhra to the division of Andhra Pradesh, but the manner in which the proceedings of the House were conducted from the day the Bill was introduced till the day it was rejected refl ects badly on his government and the democratic traditions of the legislature. Speaker Nadendla Manohar, who too is politically opposed to Telangana, put the Chief Minister’s contentious resolution to a voice vote amid noisy scenes, and declared the motion carried in a matter of two minutes. It was obvious from the regional representation in the House that those opposed to the Bill constituted a majority. The Bill presented a chance to address the concerns raised by the proposal to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. Instead, the time was used for political posturing and the reiteration of known positions by both sides. Pro-Telangana members, on their part, did not press for a division amid the din, perhaps because they did not want to expose their lack of numbers. The voice vote was, in effect, the only mode of expression of the views of the legislature.

Now that the onus is on the Centre to shepherd the Bill through Parliament, the Congress must eschew any temptation to use this issue as part of any electoral strategy before the Lok Sabha polls. With the national leadership of the party backing the creation of Telangana, and the State unit divided on geographical lines, making this a campaign issue is anyway fraught with risks. No political consensus on the Bill is possible at this late stage, but the Centre can bring in amendments to the Bill to incorporate the concerns of other parties and representatives of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra. As the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party is necessary in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress will have to keep the Bill open for amendments. The State legislature was robbed of a free, reasoned debate on the issue, but hopefully Parliament will consider all aspects of the Bill before bringing Telangana into being.

KEEPING PEOPLE AND TIGERS SAFE

As conservation of wild species becomes more successful, higher levels of human-wildlife confl ict are being reported in many parts of the country. The outcome of such encounters is a distressing number of human lives lost, and the tragic elimination of the wild creatures involved in the attacks. The ‘man-eating tiger’ incident in Dodabetta in the Nilgiris, which ended in the gunning down of the cat, brings to the fore the dilemma of ensuring a safe distance between wild animals and people. Evidently, there are no easy answers to this question, not just in India but in several other countries that have well-protected wildlife. Two strategies often adopted to prevent confl ict rely on modifi cation of human and animal behaviour. Farmers are encouraged to switch to cash crops to avoid attracting elephants, while forest departments provide access to water within protected areas to stop animals from moving out. Wild creatures in turn learn to avoid places rendered inaccessible through trench-digging and building of fences. Yet, these are by no means fail-safe interventions. It is necessary to identify areas for intensive protection, and encourage forest-dwelling communities to move out — of course, with suffi cient attention devoted to their rehabilitation at a new location.

Removal of problem animals often becomes unavoidable if there are human casualties and there is a prospect of more people being killed. It would appear ironic, but conservation advice in such circumstances is usually to swiftly eliminate the lone animal, such as the Dodabetta tiger, rather than attempt slow capture and risk negative public attitudes to tigers as a whole. Unfortunately, it is not easy to identify the individual tiger or leopard, and the confl ict may continue even after one animal is shot dead. In Chikmagalur district, for instance, 17 leopards had to be shot in 1995 before the problem of attacks on people stopped. Research evidence supports a strategy that relies on ‘spatial separation’ of people and animals as a more rewarding means of confl ict reduction. If isolated villages and free ranging cattle are moved out of the small land area that makes up India’s protected forests, the risk of an encounter with fi erce creatures can be brought down. The problem today is that successfully managed national parks and sanctuaries are witnessing a rise in tiger and leopard numbers, leading to the dispersal of old and injured animals towards habitations on the periphery and even beyond. Future conservation strategies would have to rely on well-administered wildlife sanctuaries, and equally on a voluntary resettlement programme for forest communities.

NO SOUTH CHINA SEA AIR ZONE, CHINA ASSURES ASEAN COUNTRIES

China has rejected reports suggesting it was planning to set up an air defence zone over the disputed South China Sea, saying it was “yet to feel any air security threat” from its Southeast Asian neighbours.

In November, China established its fi rst Air Defence Identifi cation Zone (ADIZ) over parts of the East China Sea, amid an increasingly tense stand-off with Japan over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. An ADIZ
is a defi ned area in international airspace within which countries monitor and track aircraft heading towards their territory.

The setting up of the ADIZ heightened tensions with Japan, as it overlapped with Japan’s zone and included the disputed islands. China at the time defended the move, pointing out that Japan had established its own ADIZ in 1969.

After a Japanese newspaper reported that China was considering setting up a second such zone over the South China Sea – a move that would be certain to worry the half a dozen or so countries that have competing claims over the sea’s waters and islands – the Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to deny the report, and also, at the same time, accuse Tokyo of attempting to fan tensions.

China-Japan relations have soured over the past year over the disputed islands, and issues relating to wartime history and the Japanese occupation of China during the Second World War. China was especially angered by a visit by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine - a memorial for Japanese who died during the war that also enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals – which was the fi rst by a Japanese leader in seven years.

The rising tensions with Japan have coincided with an apparent diplomatic outreach by China to other Asian countries, ostensibly aimed at attempting to isolate Tokyo. China’s ties have warmed with South Korea, which was also angered by Mr. Abe’s Yasukuni visit.

Last year, both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang visited ASEAN countries. A year after Chinese vessels had run-ins with ships from both Vietnam and the Philippines near contested South China Sea islands, tensions with both countries have subsided. China recently signed an agreement for joint exploration with Vietnam.

IRDA SETS UP 9-MEMBER PANEL TO REVIEW REFORMS COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS

Insurance regulator IRDA has set up a ninemember committee to review the 14 non-legislative recommendations made by the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC). The committee will also examine the extant legislative and regulatory framework in compliance 14 non-legislative recommendations (NLRs), IRDA said in an order. The non-legislative recommendations are related with consumer protection, transparency and capacity building, among others.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said the committee will submit its report by April-end.

The committee members include C.R. Muralidharan, G. Prabhakara, and Mathew Varghese, all ex-Members, IRDA and M.S. Sahoo, ex-Member, SEBI. The committee will identify the gaps and possible improvements in the extant framework vis-a-vis the 14 NLR. The panel will also suggest changes or modifi cations to the extant framework in compliance with the 14 NLR.

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