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[op-ed snap] Reform, not compliance

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Torture - UN Convention


Context

Common Cause’s recent survey on the Status of Policing in India affirmed that some in the police force find nothing wrong with beating up criminals to extract a confession. 

Torture – mechanisms against it 

    • Torture is not justified under any circumstance. It is a wound in the soul that demeans society.
    • UN convention – India signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1997, but is yet to ratify it by enacting the law on torture. 
    • Instruments to deal with torture – there are instruments in place to take immediate action in torture cases. 
      • Any custodial or other cases of death in police custody is enquired by a magistrate and in some cases, a judicial inquiry
      • Criminal cases can also be instituted against the accused policemen. 
    • Actions taken – Complaints against policemen have been filed in courts, which have taken severe action in such cases. 
    • Infrastructure –  Installation of CCTV cameras covering hawalat rooms in police stations has been made mandatory. 
    • NHRC – National Human Rights Commission acts as the watchdog of human rights. 

To do

    • Justice to victims – The state must ensure that they deliver justice to the victims of human rights abuse. 
    • Police Complaints Authority – Government must implement the Supreme Court’s directive on setting up a Police Complaints Authority in every state of India.
    • Ratify convention – The Law Commission of India in its 273rd report recommended that the government ratify the convention. 
    • Prevention of Torture Bill – The Commission also presented a draft of the bill to the government.

Treaty not panacea

    • Cases of police torture still surface in all the 160 nations that have enacted laws on torture to ratify the treaty. 
    • Case of Pakistan – Detainee torture and custodial deaths remain at a disturbingly high level in Pakistan (signed and ratified the convention). 
    • China signed and ratified the treaty. Yet, the country is condemned for horrific state repression while interrogating detainees and suppressing political dissent. 

Reality of policing

    • Poor Infrastructure
      • Police stations in outlying rural areas lack even the basic technology, forensic aid and materials for crime detection. 
      • Many of them are located in signal gap zones, where mobile phones barely work and internet connectivity is weak or non-existent. 
      • The roads are unmotorable. 
      • A single big police station looks after 70 to 80 villages in large states.
      • The building infrastructure in many cases is still poor and unliveable — forget about interrogation or detention cells. 
    • Manpower deficit – India’s police force is grossly overworked. 
    • Political interference – The heavy pendency of work is coupled with brazen political interference. 
    • Work stress is inordinately high and the quality of life poor and demotivating. 
    • Rate of detection – The urgency to improve the crime detection rate is a matter of constant worry. 
    • All this does make the police lose patience in trying to bring cases to a quick culmination.

Way ahead to tackle the problem

    • Infrastructure – 
      • All police stations need to be provided with modern-day amenities and connectivity. 
      • A dire need is state-of-the-art technology and equipment to promote hassle-free interrogation and crime detection. 
    • Training – The police force needs to be trained at regular intervals and special training should be imparted to the state police personnel by the CBI on questioning suspects. 
    • Criminal justice system – Working on the long-pending gaps in the criminal justice system may disincentivise torture. 
      • Separation of the law and order and investigation wings at police stations
      • Strengthening the prosecution apparatus 
      • Provision of legal advisors in the district police set up
    • A sustained focus on Ease of Doing Policing and measures for empowering the police within a well-established accountability framework could prove to be the biggest step towards reducing this practice. 
    • The recruitment process for the police has to be equipped with modern psychoanalytic tools to shun the entry of those with a grain of brutality.

Conclusion

The ratification of the UN convention against torture needs to be done in letter and spirit. Unless we upgrade our infrastructure, ramp up our capacities, strengthen our police force, enacting the Prevention of Torture Bill will be just another exercise of official compliance to free our conscience.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Chipping away RTI

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : RTI Act - amendments, analysis


Context 

The new rules of RTI Act based on July 2019 amendments to the 2005 Right to Information Act downgraded the office of the chief and other information commissioners at the Centre and in the states.

Background

    • Parity with CEC broken – So far the CIC received the same salary and perks as that of the Chief Election Commissioner or a judge of the Supreme Court. 
    • Now on par with Cabinet Secretary – The new rules make the CIC an equivalent of the cabinet secretary and central information commissioners the same as secretary to the government in terms of salary. In the states, the downgrading will be to the level of a secretary to the government, and additional secretary respectively.
    • Tenure – The tenure has been reduced from 5 years to 3. 

Powers of CIC

    • These reductions are not simply a matter of pay. 
    • Power of ICs undermined- The CICs and ICs at both the Centre and the states have the power to review the functioning of government public information officials, and intervene on behalf of citizens seeking information about decisions of the government. This stands undermined.
    • Lack of enforcing powers – these officials have zero powers to enforce their orders, except the imposition of a fine for non-compliance. 
    • Authority exercised – Over the years, government departments coughed out information because they were seen in the same league and of the same authority as the CEC and Supreme Court judges.

History of attacks on RTI

    • Governments at the Centre and states have pushed back against the promise of transparency in the RTI Act. 
    • Tampered appointments – Appointments to the posts have been used to grant sinecures to favoured retired bureaucrats or dispense favours to camp-followers. 
    • Poor strength – There has been an enormous reluctance in many states to appoint the full strength of commissioners, leading to a large pendency. 
    • Rejection of requests – The CIC returns a large number of complaints and appeals on minor grounds. Still, the RTI Act helped ordinary citizens feel empowered to take on corruption.
    • One-sided transparency – what the government wants to put out is rarely matched with what citizens want to know about its decisions. 

Conclusion

Destroying the authority of the RTI will certainly ensure that the number of applications reduces on their own.

RTI – CIC, RTI Backlog, etc.

20th Livestock Census

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 20th Livestock Census

Mains level : State of livestocks in India



News

  • The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying released the results of the latest livestock census, which provides headcount data of domesticated animals in the country.

Livestock Census

  • Under the livestock census, various species of animals possessed by households, household enterprises or non-household enterprises and institutions are counted at site — both in rural and urban areas.
  • In other words, it covers all domesticated animals in a given period of time.
  • India has been conducting livestock censuses periodically since 1919-20. The last livestock census was conducted in 2012.
  • This is the 20th one, started in October 2018. For the first time data has been collected online through tablet computers.

Which animals and birds are counted in this census?

  • The census tracks the population of various species of domesticated animals such as cattle, buffalo, mithun, yak, sheep, goat, pig, horse, pony, mule, donkey camel, dog, rabbit and elephant and poultry birds (fowl, duck, emu, turkeys, quail and other poultry birds).

What are the population trends for different kinds of cattle?

  • While the overall cattle population has increased by 0.8 per cent between 2012-19, the population of indigenous cattle has come down by 6 per cent — from 151 million to 142.11 million.
  • However, this pace of decline is much slower than the 9 per cent decline between 2007 and 2012.
  • In contrast, the population of the total exotic/crossbred cattle has increased by almost 27 per cent to 50.42 million in 2019.

How do the data show an eastward shift of cattle, as mentioned earlier?

  • West Bengal has emerged as the state with the largest number of cattle in 2019 followed by Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • In 2012, Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of cattle but this population has come down by almost 4 per cent since.
  • The cattle population is also down in Madhya Pradesh (4.42%), Maharashtra (10.07%) and Odisha (15.01%).
  • States that registered the maximum increases between 2012 and 2019 were West Bengal (15.18%), Bihar (25.18%) and Jharkhand (28.16%).

What are the implications of the decline in the numbers of indigenous cattle?

  • Due to continuous fall in productivity, indigenous breeds of cattle have become liabilities for farmers, forcing them to desert the unproductive cows.
  • Farmers find other animals such as buffaloes, goats and sheep much more productive.
  • Unlike cows, if these animals become unproductive, they can be sold and slaughtered for further processing.
  • Experts believe this could have long term health and environmental impacts because the milk of indigenous breed has higher nutritional value than that of crossbreeds.
  • Moreover, there is a danger of losing these indigenous breeds, which have been developed and sustained by generations from time immemorial.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

State of the World’s Children Report 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : State of the World’s Children Report 2019

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • UNICEF released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019.

Highlights of the report

  • The UNICEF report found that one in three children under the age of five years
  • Around 200 million children worldwide — are either undernourished or overweight.

Children in India

  • In India, every second child is affected by some form of malnutrition.
  • The report said 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.
  • According to government figures, stunting and wasting among children in the country has reduced by 3.7 per cent and the number of underweight children have reduced by 2.3 per cent from 2016 to 2018.

Other details

  • One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states.
  • Every second woman in the country is anaemic, as are 40.5% children.
  • One in ten children are pre-diabetic.
  • Indian children are being diagnosed with adult diseases such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

India’s among its neighbors

  • Among countries in South Asia, India fares the worst (54%) on prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight.
  • Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow at 49% and 46%, respectively. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the better performing countries in the region, at 28% and 32%, respectively.
  • India also has the highest burden of deaths among children under five per year, with over 8 lakh deaths in 2018.
  • It is followed by Nigeria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 8.6 lakh, 4.09 lakh and 2.96 lakh deaths per year, respectively.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

India Innovation Index 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India Innovation Index 2019

Mains level : Significance of the index



News

  • NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner released the India Innovation Index (III) 2019.

India Innovation Index (III) 2019

  • The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven UTs in India.
  • It intends to perform the following three functions-
  1. Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores
  2. Recognizing opportunities and challenges, and
  3. Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation
  • The India Innovation Index 2019 is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.
  • The states have been bifurcated into three categories: major states, north-east and hill states, and union territories / city states / small states.

Performance of states

  • Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
  • Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh form the remaining top ten major states respectively.
  • The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India.
  • Sikkim and Delhi take the top spots among the north- eastern & hill states, and union territories/city states/small states respectively.
  • Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most efficient states in translating inputs into output.

Significance

  • The study examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories.
  • The aim is to create a holistic tool which can be used by policymakers across the country to identify the challenges to be addressed and strengths to build on when designing policies.
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Indian Air Force is participating in a Bilateral Joint exercise with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO), named Ex Eastern Bridge-V.

Ex Eastern Bridge-V

  • It is a bilateral Joint exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO).
  • For the first time, MiG-29 fighter aircraft will be participating in an International Exercise outside India.
  • IAF contingent comprises of MiG-29 and C-17 aircraft. MiG-29 will be exercising with Royal Air Force Oman’s Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 and Hawk.

Significance

  • The exercise will enhance inter-operability during mutual operations between the two Air Forces and will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  • The participation of IAF in the exercise will also promote professional interaction, exchange of experience and operational knowledge.
  • Besides strengthening bilateral relations, it will also provide a good opportunity to the air-warriors to operate in an international environment.
Indian Air Force Updates

[pib] GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) Initiative

Mains Paper 2 : E-Governance |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GOAL

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives



News

  • Union Ministry of Tribal Affairannounced the second phase of GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) initiative.

About GOAL

  • It is a Facebook program aimed at inspiring, guiding and encouraging tribal girls from across India to become village-level digital young leaders for their communities.
  • Launched earlier this year in March, GOAL connects underprivileged young tribal women with senior expert mentors in the areas of business, fashion and arts to learn digital and life skills.
  • In the second phase of the program, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Fb together will digitally mentor 5000 young women in India’s tribal dominated districts.

Initiatives under GOAL

  • The GOAL program will provide economically and socially marginalized young women with the tools and guidance they need to succeed, using technology they may otherwise have not had access to.
  • The program will include weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions, focused on a range of skills such as digital literacy, entrepreneurship and online safety.
  • In total, more than 200,000 hours of guidance will be provided using Facebook family of apps including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Digital India Initiatives