The Gist of Yojana: April 2014

The Gist of Yojana: April 2014

To be a “Tribe’ in India

Tribes in India have come to be conceptualized primarily in relation to their geographical and social isolation from the larger Indian society and not in relation to the stage of their social formation. This is why a wide range of groups and communities at different levels of the social formation have all come to categorized as tribes.

Tribes as citizens of free India were extended civil, political and social rights in equal measure as others. Civil and political rights have been enshrined within the purview of the Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution while social rights have been envisaged in the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution.

Beside the ones stated above, tribes were extended certain special rights as being members of a distinct community. Such rights, among other things, include provisions for statutory recognition (article 342); proportionate representation in Parliament and state legislatures (article 19(5); conservation of one’s language, dialects and culture, etc (article 29). The Constitution also has a clause that enables the State to make provision or reservation in general (article 14(4) and in particular, in jobs and appointment in favor of tribal communities (article 16(4)). There is also the Directive Principle of the Constitution that requires that the educational and economic interest of the weaker sections of society, including tribes, is especially promoted (Article 46). Besides these, there are provision in the 5th or 6th schedule of the Constitution (Article 244 and 244 (a) that empower the state to bring the area inhabited by the tribes under special treatment of administration.

Of all the provisions, protective discrimination has been seen as one of the most important rights given to tribal people.

Despite these provisions, the result is far from satisfactory, more so in the case of scheduled tribes than scheduled castes.

In short, the provision of protective discrimination is not sufficient in itself. To become effective, the provision must be supplemented by what may be called substantive equality i.e. ability, resources and actual opportunity must be created to make the formal equality or in the case of tribes, even protective discrimination, effective.

To reinforce the constitutional provisions for protection of the tribal’s, two important laws have been enacted in recent years. One was the Provisions of the Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996. The act empowers the scheduled tribes to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution through the Gram Sabha.
The other act in the direction has been the “The Scheduled Tribe and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006. The act is aimed at undoing the age old injustice done to tribals by restoring and recognizing their pre-existing rights. The recognition and restoration has been, however passing through rough weather in respect of its implementation.

Nehru is credited to have enunciated in a foreword to a book entitled. ‘A Philosophy of NEFA’ by Verier Elwin. Since then, those principles have been taken as the ethos of tribal development in post-independence India. The principles entailed development along the lines of their own genius, respect of tribals’ right in land and forest, training and building up a team of their own people to do the work of administration and development, not over-administering the areas with a multiplicity of schemes, working through, and not in rivalry, to their social and cultural institutions.

In western, northern and southern India, there has been much more erosion of the tribal language and culture. In eastern India, especially the northeast, the scenario is somewhat better. This has been mainly due to the fact that in north-east India, there was a kind of institutionalized arrangement that facilitated such development. This has received a major boost with the creation of tribal states and autonomous districts.

It is ironical that despite a large number of well meaning constitutional provision and laws aimed at protecting and safeguarding the welfare and interest of the tribal communities, the process of marginalization of the tribals has gone on unabated. Paradoxically, at the root of such marginalization are the laws themselves. Tribes had no tradition of reading and writing and had, hence, no tradition of record keeping and dealing with such laws. The court language and practice had been alien to them. In the absence of such tradition, the non-tribes have taken advantage of such laws and have been depriving tribals of their lands through variety of ways and means.
Tribal rights have come to be scarified to the greater cause of the nation and public interest. In short, those who are in charge of tribal rights are in general insensitive to the constitutional provision and legal entitlements of the tribal communities.

Climate Change – Reasons and It’s Side Effects

Climate is the sum of weather trends over a long period of time (say, a century or so). Obviously, weather is short term phenomenon. Since Rio Earth Summit in 1992 as well as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992), it has been widely recognised and accepted that there are various forms of climate change in different parts of the world: increase in summer temperature, shorter but severe winter, more erratic rainfall distribution, severe and more frequent fog, more frequent occurrence of extreme events like floods and droughts, though total rainfall in a year may be the same, acid rain and so on.

The climate system is defined by the dynamics and interactions of five components – atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, land surface and biosphere. Climate system dynamics is driven by both internal and external forces like volcanic eruptions, solar variations or human induced activities like green house gases or land use changes. It is estimated by various researchers that the world will experience three to four degree Celsius warming by 2100 A.D. According to Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since 1850 the warmest years were 1998, 2005, 2002, 2003 and 20004 (in descending order). As per UK Meteorological office, global average temperature has been rising by 0.15°C every decade. The period of 2001-2010 was 0.20°C warmer than 1991-2000 decade (that was 0.24°C above 1961-2000 decade (that was 0.24°C above 1961-90 while the period of 2001-2010 was 0.44°C above 1961-90 mean temperature.

Undoubtedly, climate is affected by the multiple factors which are as follows:

(i) Incident solar radiation-variation with latitude – e.g. high latitude is energy deficit while the low latitude has excess energy.
(ii) Closeness to large water bodies-distribution of land and water.
(iii) Mountain barriers – e.g. in Maharashtra, Mumbai and Pune have different mountain scenarios; hence, Pune is colder than Mumbai.
(iv) Ocean temperature and currents.
(v) Altitude – higher altitude is colder.
(vi) Land cover with vegetation and forests.
(vii) Atmospheric pressure (atmosphere consists of 78.09 per cent nitrogen, 20.95 per cent oxygen. 0.93 per cent CO2.

Obviously, three main features of climate change are noticeable:

(a) Deviation from mean magnitudes.
(b) Phase difference from periodicity.
(c) Altered frequency of occurrences.

Anthropogenic Activities and Climate Change

As per IPCC-AR4, various greenhouse gases (namely carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) since 1750 AD had greater cumulative effect than the agreement emissions of the last ten thousand years. Further, during 1995-2005, the level of carbon dioxide increased by 20 percent.

To be more specific, annual global anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide increased to approximately 38 Giga tonnes (GT) and by 2010, emissions from fossil fuel burning alone reached 30.6 GT. Further, it is estimated that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased from 280 PPM in pre-industrial era to 390 PPM in 2010-equivalent to 780 GT of carbon dioxide, compared to 560 GT in pre-industrial era. As per Keeling and Sherts, the main driver for about 55 per cent of global warming is this additional carbon dioxide, the balance coming from other GHGs. Needless to emphasize that, nitrous oxide’s effect is more dangerous, as impact of one kg of nitrous oxide on global warming is over 300 times that of one kg of carbon dioxide. And, agriculture is the largest source of nitrous oxide emissions.

The situation in India’s ‘green revolution’ belt (Punjab, Haryana and western U.P) has aggravated because the so-called ‘miracle’ seed of dwarf wheat requires high doses of nitrogenous fertilizer and consequently, there is soil degradation, falling down of water table, salination of water and soil and decline of bio-diversity (rice-wheat monoculture).

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