February 2020
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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] Amending the law against corruptionop-ed snap


Some amendments fail to address key issues in corruption jurisprudence.

  1. In 2013, the bill proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecuting public servants to former officials as well.
  2. The ostensible reason was that Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure protected retired officials, while the PCA covered only serving officials.
  3. But the sanction provision ought to have been restricted to prosecutions that flow from deviations from public policy, laws and regulations.
  4. Possessing unexplained assets, being caught red-handed while taking a bribe and misappropriating property cannot be actions in the course of official functions.
  5. A distinction ought to have been made between collusive bribery and bribery under coercion.
  6. Some +ive features – The trial court itself can now deal with the process of attachment of property instead of the district court.
  7. Fixing a time frame for grant of sanction and completion of trial is a welcome feature.

[op-ed snap] A glass half empty for Adivasisop-ed snapSC Judgements


  1. Adivasi communities living in mineral-rich areas are wary of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill 2015 (MMDRA) which has received presidential assent.
  2. The main flaw in the Act – Adivasis are described in the MMDRA law as ‘occupiers of the surface of the land.
  3. In India, the state has all rights over minerals, but over the years it has acted as a front to hand over mineral resources for private profit.
  4. This despite the Supreme Court Samatha judgment of 1997, which upheld Adivasi rights to informed consent and to a share in mineral wealth.
  5. The 2011 MMDRA Bill had proposed the setting up of a District Mineral Foundation (DMF). The 2015 amendment limits its scope.
  6. Coal companies were mandated to give 26 per cent of profit to the DMF, but the new government has scrapped this provision altogether.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

[op-ed snap] New Kabul Pactop-ed snap


  1. Former President Karzai was seen to be favourably disposed towards India while Ghani is viewed by many as too reliant on Islamabad & Beijing.
  2. There are fears that Pakistan’s increasing role in Afghanistan will allow the Taliban to consolidate its position.
  3. The Strategic Partnership Agreement (2011), which focussed on defence cooperation, was not high on the agenda this time.
  4. India seems to have reconciled itself with Ghani’s outreach to Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
  5. Delhi is also hopeful that China will use its influence to control the rise of Islamist jihadi forces and bring stability to the region.

[op-ed snap] Bridge over Cauveryop-ed snap


  1. The Cauvery waters have been a bone of contention for the 4 southern states — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry — that fall in the river’s basin.
  2. Karanataka’s insistence on building two more dams on Cauvery could lead to a showdown with Tamilnadu.
  3. Tamil Nadu is justifiably apprehensive that the proposed dams at Mekedatu, close to the state border, would impact the flow into the Mettur Dam.
  4. Most of the cultivated area is under water-intensive crop farming like paddy and sugarcane.
  5. Though the Centre has notified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal – a practical solution is not in near sight.

[Announcement] op-ed snap | Editorials made easyop-ed snap


  1. Sometime back, we introduced the concept of [Op-ed snap] – summarising editorial & opinion pieces for an easy consumption.
  2. We are extending this initiative to our readers.
  3. Pick up an op-ed which you think is worthy of inclusion over here. Write a 5-6 point summary along + source link and send it to – civilsdaily@gmail.com
  4. We will print them today & on every other Saturday.

Killing a country’s ecologyop-ed snap


  1. In 2014, SC expressed concerns regd. the adverse effects of Alaknanda Hydroelectric project on Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins.
  2. The mistake made in the earlier environmental assessments — treating each project as stand-alone without going into the cumulative effect of all of them.
  3. Expert Committee had said that EIA reports should be done by an independent agency and not by the project proponent.
  4. The report mentioned that EIA clearances were unreliable, wrongly prepared & in some cases had ulterior motivations.
  5. 5 of the 6 projects now being examined afresh are in the para-glacial zone, rendering them extremely hazardous.
  6. They would impact the protected areas of the Nanda Devi National Park & Biosphere Reserve, the Valley of Flowers National Park (World Heritage Site), the Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary & habitat of the rare and endangered Himalayan Brown Bear.
Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

A Cyber Wing in the National Cadet Corpsop-ed snap


  1. The 2014 Annual Security Report reveals that 2013 was a ‘particularly bad year’ with cumulative annual threat alert levels increasing by 14% since 2012.
  2. The writer explores the possibility of creation of a ‘Cyber Wing’ in each the 4 divisions of the NCC in India.
  3. The motto of the NCC is Unity and Discipline.
  4. The cadets must be given encouragement by way of financial rewards, recognition, scholarships for further studies in cyber security.
  5. With programmes like Digital India, National Optical Fibre Network, e-Governance, e-commerce and e-Services, our vulnerability in cyberspace cannot be condoned.

The potential of opening up Iranop-ed snap


  1. Iran + US & its P5+1 partners have reached a Framework Agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.
  2. Iran has broadly agreed to 3 things – reduce the centrifuges that produce enriched uranium, reduce its existing stocks, change its heavy water Arak reactor to produce non-weapon grade plutonium.
  3. Iran is already a sort of ally of US against ISIS extremists in Iraq.
  4. Iran, with about 80 million people, is the largest country in the region. It has massive oil and gas resources and a technologically well-educated people.
  5. A post-nuclear-deal Iran may look westward for technology and investment and to China for infrastructure and consumer goods.
  6. As for India – our imports of Iranian oil, and increasingly gas through an undersea pipeline, could rapidly be stepped up.
  7. Pharmaceuticals are another promising area, as are IT services. So, the potential exists to build a solid economic and financial relationship with Iran.
  8. Let us hope the euphoria of the Teheran crowds does not prove a false dawn.

Land ‘Billed’op-ed snap


  1. The writer is an activist who brings forth the plight of displacement in the name of land acquisitions for development projects.
  2. Given that 90% of our coal, 50% of most minerals & prospective dam sites are mainly in Adivasi regions, there is likely to be a continuing tension on land acquisition.
  3. At the heart of the 2013 law was the provision of seeking the consent of those whose lands were to be acquired and of caring for those whose livelihoods would be destroyed in the process.
  4. The current ordinance undoes those provisions & comesa cross as a virtual resurrection of undiluted powers of “eminent domain”, which the 1894 law conferred on the state.
  5. He states that the SIA is the basic minimum requirement to keep the arbitrary land acquisitions under check.
  6. Prior consent of those who have occupied the lands is must for healthy development of business. It may appear to be time taking but any hasty push to acquire land costs even further more delays.
  7. He finds that the ever increasing pressure on cities and an industry producing very few jobs but high on ecological footprints cannot be persisted with in the longer run.
  8. It is in everybody’s interest to recall the proposed changes in the Land bill.

Juveniles need reform, not prisonop-ed snap


  1. By clearing amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act and allowing juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 to be tried and punished as adults for ‘heinous offences’ (offences that are punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or more), the Cabinet on April 22 sounded the death knell for juvenile justice.
  2. The government claims that since this assessment will be done with the help of psychologists and social experts, the rights of the juvenile would be protected.
  3. The new Bill is violative of India’s constitutional mandate and its international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  4. As per the writer, there are 3 flawed assumptions: children are as culpable or blameworthy as adults; it is scientifically possible to determine maturity & mindset beyond reasonable doubt; and the transfer system will effectively deter juvenile crime and enhance public safety, particularly of women.
  5. Instead of dealing with the root causes of juvenile crime, such as poverty, broken families, unregulated access to pornography, or the failure of the child protection system, the government seems to be blindly targeting adolescents.
  6. With the Ministry and the Cabinet having turned their back, all hopes are pinned on Parliament to do what is right for India’s adolescent children.

Concession in recessionop-ed snap


  1. The former finance minister/ Home minister writes about the cuts in the various CSS schemes all in the name of federalist ethos.
  2. The schemes like CCTNS, SIS that were framed keeping the modernisation of police forces and providing them with the requisite infrastructure to take on the maoists have been de linked from the annual budget 2014-2015 citing that police is a state list subject.
  3. This is when CCTNS is nearly on the verge of completion. The system needs to keep itself abreast with the latest in technology and so can not be left to the 29 state monitoring systems. It being of centralised nature need to be speedup under a central authority.
  4. However the MHA has expressed its resentment over the pruning. The writer expects similar response from the other ministries whose budgetary expenditure has been cut down.

No more carrots, only sticksop-ed snap


  1. Lakhvi’s release speaks volumes about the sincerity of Pakistan to fight terrorism. Infact, his arrest coming as a pleasure stay during which he even fathered his child is a bigger sham.
  2. USA has committed to renewed military and humanitarian aid despite of Pakistan having a record of diverting them against India.
  3. USA did not respond to the release of Lakhvi unmindful of the fact that 6 out of the 167 killed in 26/11 were US nationals.
  4. In order to make Pakistan check sponsoring the terrorism, sanctions and coercive diplomacy should be resorted to by both India and USA.
  5. USA should impose sanctions the way it made IRAN budge from its stance on nuclear power. It should impose sanctions on the activities of ISI officials and their deep assets in USA.
  6. ISI officials can also be denied visa. Covert operation is also one of the options that can be explored.

Maharashtra Ban and Bovine economicsop-ed snap


  1. What will poor farmers do now that they can’t sell their economically unviable cattle to the butcher?
  2. Bulls and bullocks are extremely expensive animals to maintain anyway, but particularly so beyond their productive years.
  3. The consequence of shutting the butcher’s door on cow-bull-bullock slaughter might therefore be clandestine killing.
  4. As regards cows, if religious sentiment is to override economic reality, the farmer will have no choice but to double the price of milk.
  5. Caught between hard economics, temperamental rain and the government, the farmer has always died.
Crop Insurance – PMFBY, etc.

Two risks that haunt agriculture – Weather & Pricesop-ed snap


  1. Still, less than 20% of the Indian farmers are covered by crop insurance.
  2. Somehow, the Indian psyche cannot seem to accept paying the insurance premium that would be foregone should no adverse event take place.
  3. It is also true that most poor people cannot afford even the lowest premium for insurance.
  4. And imagine it this way – a staggering 70% of the junta which depends on Agriculture wakes up everyday facing risk & uncertainty.
  5. As Indian agriculture will have to adopt new and expensive technologies to counter climate change, insurance cover becomes even more critical.
  6. Narendra Modi government needs to be applauded for trying to introduce a market-based farm income insurance scheme combined with weather-based crop insurance products that will replace the ad hoc grants.
Net Neutrality & The Debate Around It

How to have an informed debate on Net Neutrality?op-ed snap


We all know the cons of doing away with Net Neutrality. Broadly, we do. Add to this – when an uninformed citizenry gets to decide on bigger matters like this – Flipkart ends up getting 1 rating in plenty 😉

  1. But let’s for a moment – take a step back and see a possible rationale to this.
  2. In the telephone networks, 1-800 toll-free numbers allow businesses to subsidize users’ access fees, but that same mechanism is missing for Internet data services.
  3. This is possibly what Airtel Zero wanted to achieve? Maybe!
  4. Should we have fast lanes for different services – Video on Demand vs. Content only?
  5. Yes, because certain type of traffic need faster delivery, such as video streaming, while others such as emails and file transfer don’t!
  6. But will the network providers chide away from the lower tier/ slower lane services?
Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

The road from Lausanneop-ed snap


  1. The Nuclear agreement has left many crucial details to be worked out in the next round of talks, including sequencing of sanctions-relief and details of inspection regime.
  2. Iran is expecting rapid relief on sanctions from UN and EU.
  3. US is looking for conclusive proof of Iranian compliance with the nuclear inspections and limiting Iran’s programme, before taking off sanctions.

  4. Israel has tried all efforts against this deal, which will later draw the international attention on the Israeli arsenal.
  5. If a deal is reached, it will significantly reduce the risk of further proliferation in the Middle East.
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Is your food safe enough?op-ed snap


This year, WHO’s theme is ‘Food Safety’ – To ensure that everyone has the answers to a few questions: What is in your meal and where did the ingredients come from?

  1. WHO is concerned about streamlining the supply chain and stressing on stakeholders to promote food safety.
  2. The approach to food safety requires multi-sectoral collaboration, as it passes through multiple hands from farm to plates.
  3. As groundwater resources deplete & put pressure on other factor, farm markets shift to ‘chemically managed’ crops.
  4. The increasing disregard for food safety norms is based on multiple factors including lack of awareness and training, absence of compliance or plain corruption.

Microfinance Story of India

New regime, old philosophyop-ed snap


  1. There is always a case for direct government intervention to solve any one of our many chronic problems, to justify the need for MUDRA bank.
  2. The govt. is trying to ensure equity through determined government action that previously drove the govt. to nationalise banks and bring priority sector lending.
  3. However, such ‘directed credit’ has not worked successfully in the past.
  4. The govt. control over banks had led to large-scale corruption and repeated recapitalisation through taxpayers’ money.
  5. MUDRA bank has been over-burdened with many conflicting objectives and too-many roles, viz. a lender, consultant, regulator, think tank and an agent of social change.
  6. This new bank has little accountability for taxpayers’ money, which has already wasted on numerous initiatives to “support” small businesses of various kinds.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Iran

How India gains from the Iran N-deal?op-ed snap


  1. The deal could have significant effects on India’s energy needs, as it will allow imports of oil and natural gas from Iran.
  2. Analysts point that oil prices would drop further as a permanent agreement would be reached with Iran, as Iran would then increase its oil production.
  3. A fall in global oil prices would be good news for India. Why?

A $1/barrel fall in international crude oil prices is likely to reduce India’s net import bill by $0.9 billion a year.


 

What else?

  • The Farzad-B gas field project – Discovered by OVL in 2008, might receive a fillip because India could not pursue the project aggressively until now, due to US sanctions against Iran.
  • Gas Pipeline – Between India and Iran.
  • Chabahar Port Route – The peace agreement will lead Indian govt. to push for completion of Chabahar port route to Afghanistan, a gateway to Central Asia.