December 2019
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Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

[op-ed snap] Retributive justice: On Hyderabad vet rape and murderop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Women Safety - pursuing justice


Context

Justice in any civilized society is not just about retribution, but also about deterrence, and in less serious crimes, rehabilitation of the offenders. 

Disha incident

  • The heinous rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad shook the collective conscience of India.
  • It resulted in an outcry for justice for the victims and outrage over the persisting lack of safety for women in public spaces. 
  • Such societal pressure for justice weighs upon legal institutions, as the police are required to find the culprits with alacrity and the judiciary to complete the legal process without undue delay. 
  • But these institutions must uphold the rule of law and procedure even in such circumstances. 

The killing of the police

  • The police claim that two of the accused snatched their weapons and fired at them when the four had been taken to the crime scene to reconstruct the sequence of events. 
  • The National Human Rights Commission has deputed a fact-finding team to Hyderabad to probe the incident.
  • The guidelines set by the Supreme Court to deal with such events must be strictly observed to get to the bottom of this episode.

Public response

  • The jubilation on social media platforms and on the streets over the killings by the police stems from the public anger and anguish over the burgeoning crimes against women. 
  • There is a perception that the legal institutions are ill-equipped to deal with such crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Way ahead

  • Much more needs to be done in terms of registration and charge-sheeting of sexual crimes by police and addressing the pendency in a court of such cases.
  • There has been greater awareness and improvement in both the policing and judicial process following the horrific bus gang-rape in 2012 in New Delhi. 
  • The Telangana government had issued orders for setting up a fast-track court to try the four accused and this should have brought closure to the case in a time-bound manner. 
  • Existing laws on sexual crimes and punishment need better application.
  • A recourse to brutal retribution as suggested unwisely by many is no solution. 
  • The political sanction of “encounter killings” to deliver swift retribution would only be a disincentive for the police to follow due process and may even deter them from pursuing the course of justice. 
  • Bending the law in such cases would only undermine people’s faith in the criminal justice system.
Internal Security Architecture Shortcomings – Key Forces, NIA, IB, CCTNS, etc.

[op-ed snap] Seeking truth and reconciliation in Chhattisgarhop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Human Rights violations by security forces


Context

The Indian government claims that it is winning the war against Maoist guerillas in India’s forested regions. 

Government actions

  • It has dismissed accusations of human rights violations as propaganda by Maoists or their supporters.
  • It has jailed human rights activists and lawyers working in these areas. 
  • A recent report by a government-appointed inquiry commission shows that these accusations are credible and need to be addressed.

Anti-Maoist action

  • Seven-and-a-half years ago, 17 unarmed villagers, including six minors, were killed by security forces at Sarkeguda village in Chhattisgarh.
  • The commission established that the CRPF and police version of events was false.
  • It said that 15 of the villagers were killed at close quarters while fleeing in a ‘totally disproportionate and unwarranted use of force.” 
  • One man was killed in his home the next morning, while one succumbed to his injuries in hospital. 
  • The judge relied only on circumstantial evidence. The CRPF/police version was dismissed because the lawyers for the villagers picked holes in their claims.

Villagers’ testimony

  • The defence charge on delay is completely unwarranted because the villagers spoke to the press. 
  • They did not file an FIR with the police. It shows their complete and justified lack of faith in the system. 
  • The police was involved in the firing and the government’s own affidavits in the Supreme Court in the ongoing Salwa Judum case have established that the police have never acted on complaints from villagers.
  • The only point where the judge differs from the villagers is in arguing that the meeting that the villagers were attending was not an innocuous one to prepare for a seed-sowing festival because it was held at night and some people with ‘criminal antecedents’ were present. 
  • In an area where anyone can be arbitrarily accused and jailed, people with criminal antecedents are a dime a dozen. 
  • For the security forces, everybody is “hostile”. 

Holes in the judgement

  • Even after exposing the violations by security forces, the judge rewarded the perpetrators. 
  • He did not recommend any prosecutions, or compensation; only better training, better gadgets and better intelligence for the forces.
  • There are issues such as the 2012 Sarkeguda massacre and the Tadmetla arson, murder and rape a year earlier, as well as the accompanying attack on Swami Agnivesh and Art of Living representatives.

Human rights violations

  • High-level committees were appointed to look into releasing adivasi prisoners as well as examine the cases of journalists.
  • There has been no progress on addressing the widespread human rights violations, deaths, rapes and arson caused by Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, despite severe indictments by the National Human Rights Commission in 2008 as well as by the Supreme Court in 2011. 
  • In an internal closure report on Tadmetla, the CBI pointed to the larger systemic issues of deliberate obfuscation by the security forces to ensure impunity. 
  • These include not keeping records of personnel on particular operations or details of ammunition used, deliberately fudging evidence etc.,
  • There have been several more cases of fake encounters, the most recent being of two villagers in the Munga jungle on November 5.

Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court’s 2011 ban on the use of surrendered Naxalites in frontline counterinsurgency has also been ignored by governments.
  • The Court has let this contempt pass without hearing for the last seven years. 
  • A ‘final hearing’ of the Salwa Judum case began in 2018, but one year on, there have been no dates for hearing.
  • The Sarkeguda inquiry raised the callous killing of 17 innocent villagers.

Way ahead

  • Announce a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which would catalogue and compensate for all deaths, and prosecute those responsible. 
  • Action against security personnel in Sarkeguda must be the start, but must not be allowed to become the end.
Human Rights Issues

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NHRC: Power and Functions

Mains level : Extra-judicial modes of delivering justice and Rule of Law


  • The killing by police of all four accused in the Hyderabad rape-murder case have been questioned over the legality and propriety of the action.
  • Extra-judicial or “encounter” killings have been a contested and divisive police procedure for decades.
  • This is what the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court have said on the proper procedures to be followed during such action by police.

About NHRC

  • The NHRC is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
  • It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 (TPHRA).
  • It is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants”.

Powers of NHRC

  • NHRC investigates grievances regarding the violation of human rights either suo moto or after receiving a petition.
  • It has the power to interfere in any judicial proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights.
  • It can visit any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government to see the living conditions of the inmates and to make recommendations thereon.
  • It can review the safeguards provided under the constitution or any law for the protection of human rights and can recommend appropriate remedial measures.

Limitations

  • NHRC does not have any independent mechanism of investigation. In majority cases, it asks the concerned Central and State Governments to investigate the cases of the violation of Human Rights
  • NHRC can only make recommendations, without the power to enforce decisions.
  • Its powers related to violations of human rights by the armed forces have been largely restricted.

NHRC’s guidelines on fake encounters

  • Justice Venkatachaliah, who was Chief Justice of India in 1993-94, underlined that “under our laws the police have not been conferred any right to take away the life of another person”.
  • And “if, by his act, the policeman kills a person, he commits the offence of culpable homicide whether amounting to the offence of murder or not unless it is proved that such killing was not an offence under the law”.
  • The only two circumstances in which such killing would not constitute an offence were-
  1. if death is caused in the exercise of the right of private defence, and
  2. under Section 46 of the CrPC, which “authorises the police to use force, extending upto the causing of death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)IOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)

Mains level : Elephant connservation efforts



The 10th Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) Meeting has started at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)

  • The IUCN AsESG is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus).
  • The overall aim of the AsESG is to promote the long-term conservation of Asia’s elephants and, where possible, the recovery of their populations to viable levels.
  • The AsESG acts as the Red List Authority for the Asian Elephant, carrying out Red List assessments for inclusion in the IUCN Red List
  • Group members have also helped in the development of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) system for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and The Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS).

Membership

  • There are currently over 110 volunteer members from 18 countries led by the Chair Vivek Menon from India.
  • All AsESG members are actively involved in some aspect of elephant conservation and/or management.
  • Apart from the members, the Group also has Ex-officio officials from all Range States nominated by the Ministry looking after elephant conservation in the country.
  • Membership is reviewed and reappointed approximately every four years.
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Adaptation FundIOCR

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adaptation Fund

Mains level : Clean development mechanism



Adaptation Fund

  • The Adaptation Fund is an international fund that finances projects and programs aimed at helping developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.
  • It is set up under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The Adaptation Fund is managed by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB).
  • The secretariat of the Adaptation Fund Board provides research, advisory, administrative, and an array of other services to the Board, and consists of an international staff based in Washington, DC.
  • The World Bank serves as the trustee of the Adaptation Fund.

Members

  • The AFB is composed of 16 members and 16 alternates representing Annex I countries, Non-Annex I countries, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDSs), and regional constituencies.
  • The AFB meets three times per year in Bonn, Germany.
  • The German Parliament has conferred legal capacity to the AFB.

Funding mechanism

  • The Adaptation Fund was initiated to be primarily financed by a share of proceeds from clean development mechanism (CDM) project activities and also with funds from other sources.
  • The share of proceeds amounts to 2% of certified emission reductions (CER) issued for a CDM project activity.
  • As the market for carbon credits plunged, other funding sources became more critical for the Adaptation Fund, and include donations from Annex 1 countries.
  • One unique feature of the AF is its direct access mechanism which enables accredited national implementing entities (NIEs) and regional implementing agencies (RIEs) in developing countries to directly access climate adaptation financing.

Why in news?

  • Since 2010, the Adaptation Fund has directed $532 million to 80 concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries, serving 5.8 million direct beneficiaries.
  • In 2018, the Fund raised $129 million in new pledges, a record-setting year.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

Palestine-India Techno ParkPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Balanced relations between India, Palestine & Israel


The Representative of India to Palestine released third tranche of funding, worth $3 million, for the construction of a Palestine-India Techno Park.

The Palestine-India techno park

  • The techno park is meant to create a national business environment and culture “that will enable knowledge-based and creative enterprises as well as technology clusters to successfully operate locally, regionally and globally”.
  • In 2017, the park became a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), a global network of science and technology parks.
  • Its objectives include establishing an environment that is accessible to industry, supporting the process of commercialisation and industrialisation, supporting entrepreneurship and bridging the knowledge gap between the private sector and academia.

Indian investment in Palestine

  • In total, India has made a commitment of investing over $12 million, part of India’s broader framework of capacity building in Palestine.
  • The Indian government pays $3 million on a half-yearly basis.
  • Trade between India and Palestine stands at roughly US $40 million and spans automotive spare parts, medical tourism, agro-products, textiles, agro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals among others.
  • India’s investment towards the park is part of India’s support to the Palestinian cause.

Back2Basics

India, Palestine & Israel

  • Historically, India’s ties with Israel and Palestine have been more or less balanced. India fully established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992.
  • Defence and agriculture have formed the main pillars of their relationship.
  • In 1974, India became the first non-Arab state to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
  • In 1938, while expressing sympathies for the persecution of Jews in Germany, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French”.
  • In 1988, India was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine after the Palestinian National Congress declared independence.
  • At that time, India maintained its support for the two-state solution and championed a “sovereign, independent, united” Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem.
  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the State of Palestine in Gaza, which was shifted to Ramallah in 2003.
  • In July 2017, PM Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Sukapaika RiverPrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mahanadi river system

Mains level : Threats to natural water bodies



Embankments have killed Odisha’s Sukapaika river that was the lifeline of over 0.5 million people.

Sukapaika

  • Sukapaika is one of the several distributaries of the mighty Mahanadi river in Odisha.
  • It branches away from the Mahanadi at Ayatpur village in Cuttack district and flows for about 40 kilometres (km) before rejoining its parent river at Tarapur in the same district.
  • In the process, it drains a large landmass comprising over 425 villages.
  • However, the river is undergoing sudden barrenness.

Why is the river diminishing?

  • The problem has its roots in 1952, when the state government blocked the starting point of the Sukapaika with an embankment to save the villages around it from floods.
  • Subsequently, in 1957, two major projects — Hirakud Dam in Sambalpur district and Naraj barrage at Cuttack — were built upstream on the Mahanadi, ostensibly to control floods in it.
  • However, the embankment on the Sukapiaka was not removed.
  • This left the distributary totally dependent on rainwater. The neglect has hit the 0.5 million people residing in the villages over the next half a century.
  • The riverbed has suffered erosion and it is full of hyacinth.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[op-ed snap] Climate warnings: On unmet emission goalsop-ed snap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Need to act on climate change


Context

Two reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on the impact of higher global temperatures on land, oceans and the cryosphere, lend urgency to the task before countries meeting for the UN conference. 

UN conference

  • The member-nations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have been trying to finalize measures under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to commodify carbon emissions cuts and to make it financially attractive to reduce emissions.
  • The IPCC scientists’ research helps the international community decide on actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • They are worried that even under the most optimistic scenarios, human health, livelihoods, biodiversity and food systems face a serious threat from climate change. 

Climate change

  • In the case of oceans and frozen areas on land, accelerated rates of loss of ice, particularly in Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic, will produce a destructive rise in sea levels.
  • Increases in tropical cyclone winds, rainfall, and extreme waves, combined with relative sea-level rise, will exacerbate catastrophic sea-level events.
  • All this will also hurt the health of fish stocks. 
  • For countries with a long coastline, local sea level anomalies that occurred once in a century may become annual events, due to the projected global mean sea level rise over the 21st century. 
  • This is alarming for the 680 million residents of low-lying coastal areas, whose population may go up to one billion by 2050, and for those living in small islands.

Way ahead

  • The new IPCC assessment underscores the need for unprecedented and urgent action in all countries with significant greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The industrialized nations need to provide liberal, transparent funding to developing countries under the Paris Agreement. 
  • The principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, recognize that rich countries reduced the carbon space available to the poor. 
  • The developed world will be focusing in Madrid on creating a global system of accounting for emissions reductions, introducing credible carbon markets, and making some of the gains from these markets available to developing nations to invest in green energy. 
  • Scientists have a high degree of certainty on losses that will arise from climate change. There must be steady progress in addressing the damage. 
  • Even with the highest resolve, the existing Nationally Determined Contributions filed under the Paris Agreement fall short and need augmenting. 
  • There is a gap between planned emissions cuts, and what needs to be done by 2030 to contain global temperature rise at 1.5°C.