Biodiversity integration with Development

diversity

Are we responsible and accountable to flora and fauna of the world? We may say yes superficially but truth is we are not sensitive to Biodiversity. We need to understand that very basis of our life is life around us whether animate or inanimate, biotic or abiotic. The alarming rate at which the biodiversity is being affected worldwide because of various industrialised developments taking place reveals that we humans are quite insensitive to other life forms.

Meaning

Biodiversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems. The diversity includes variability within species (genetic diversity) as well as between species (species diversity) and ecosystems (ecosystem diversity). It provides services such as water purification and supply, waste assimilation and the cleaning of air and water, regulation of pests and diseases, and soil nutrient cycling and fertility. Biodiversity helps mitigate unpredictable global changes and natural disasters. A rich biodiversity is the basis for good health, food security, economic growth, livelihood security and moderation of climatic conditions. The annual contribution of biodiversity to the world is put at $33 trillion.

 

What can be done

No doubt, Development is necessary. But we need to change the definition of development. In contemporary world, USA and Europe stand as an example of what development is and emerging economies are trying to follow the same footsteps which is actually a folly. It is estimated that if every human being on earth utilises the resources in same way as an average American then we may not leave anything for future generations. It may result in end of the civilisation.

So, what can be the changed definition of development in synch with contemporary scenario.

A skyscraper should be done away as a symbol of development. Instead a village where organic farming for food, solar panels or renewable sources for electricity, hybrid fuels for public transport etc. are used, should become exemplary to showcase development to world. Research and development results on renewable sources should be shared with emerging and least developed countries. Technology and equipment transfer of green technology should be done from Developed countries towards rest of world. This should be done thinking that we live in one Global village and contribution towards other countries’ green fund is actually a contribution towards contemporary global village we all are part of. Another way to bring the integration of development with biodiversity is to spread awareness to masses that what sustainable development is. Ozone layer depletion, endangered species, extinct species, carbon credits are actually alien terms to majority of masses.

It is clear that to achieve many national and international biodiversity goals such as the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as meet CBD objectives, biodiversity integration into developmental sectors is a pre- requisite. For this to happen active participation from Central and State governments is needed. Private sectors need to come forward for this cause and do funding for the research. Public Private partnerships is another efficient way to make this happen.

In the end, it is We the People who are responsible and accountable to our surroundings. We may not be capable of taking actions but very much capable of responding. Actions will follow once we start responding as a common man to our flora and fauna and also the initiatives being taken in the society. It is not only Government and Private institutions’ prerogative but also common man’s prerogative to bring in Green technology in simple housekeeping.

Sunil K Awasthi

Faculty, North East Institute of Advanced Studies [NE-IAS]

Assam

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WATER: A BRIDGE TOO FAR TO REACH

An insight into Sutlej – Yamuna link (SYL) canal issue between Punjab and Haryana

river

 Jeopardising the construction of Sutlej – Yamuna Link (SYL) in Punjab by the order of five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court- status quo on land marked for the construction for the SYL, has exposed the weakness of entire edifice of constitutional governance in our country – elected governments, constitutional authorities, political parties, autonomous bodies and even the judiciary 

From the Indus water treaty

In 1960, the Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan. This treaty provided that three eastern rivers are allocated to India for exclusive use before they enter Pakistan; while the three western rivers are allocated for exclusive use by Pakistan. The Indus river system comprises of three western rivers viz. Jhelum, Chenab and Indus; and three eastern rivers viz. Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. After signing of the Indus Water Treaty, the water of these three rivers viz. Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was shared between Punjab, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir.

About the Crisis

In 1966, Haryana was carved out from Punjab on linguistic basis. As a successor state, Haryana was eligible to receive a share of Punjab’s river waters. But at the same time, Yamuna River, which used to flow in undivided Punjab before 1966, flowed only in Haryana. The water of Yamuna River was never considered a part of the arrangements made at the time of bifurcation of Punjab. In 1976, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi brokered a deal to divide the water, such that each state received 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) of water. Also, Rajasthan was to get 8 MAF and Delhi 0.20 MAF.

In both the states, the sharing of water became an emotive and political issue. Punjab maintained that it had already shared water with Rajasthan via Indira Gandhi Canal, it does not have additional water to share with Haryana.

To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej and its tributary Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Yamuna, cutting across the state, was planned. In April, 1982, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ceremonially dug the ground at Kapoori village in Patiala district for the construction of the 214km SutlejYamuna Link (or SYL) canal, 122 km of which was to be in Punjab, and 92 km in Haryana. A tripartite agreement was also negotiated between Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan in this regard. However, in 1990, Punjab stopped work when the canal was 90% complete. In 1995, Punjab issued a white paper which said that it would not proceed with the construction of canal and suggested that Haryana be given water from Bhakhra Canal system. When the matter reached to Supreme Court, the court directed Punjab in 2002 to complete construction work by January 2002; and also, rejected the review petition. In 2003, another review petition was filed by Punjab in Supreme Court to relieve it from canal project. In 2004, Supreme Court asked the central government to constitute a high-powered committee to supervise the canal construction process. However, in the same year, the Punjab Government passed Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 to revert the land of the people acquired for the purpose of construction of Canal.

Presidential reference

Earlier in 2004, the Punjab government enacted Punjab Termination of Agreements act (2004) to scrap all water sharing agreements with neighbouring states. Presidential reference was made in the Supreme Court regarding this act.

What is the stand of Punjab?

Punjab has categorically rejected to execute the project saying that it does not have even a drop of water to share with Haryana. So, it has passed Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 to return all of the land acquired for Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal project. Without waiting for the bill to get governor’s assent, the local politicians have encouraged farmers to begin filling up the canal with mud. Punjab defends its act, stating that under Article 143, the Supreme Court has only advisory functions, and hence cannot pass an assumptive interim order. Subsequently, the canal was filled up in many areas before the Supreme Court directed to maintain status quo.

What is the stand of Haryana?

In 2004, the Supreme Court directed the central government to undertake the construction of canal under the supervision of a high-powered committee. So, the Haryana government claims Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 of Punjab is in violation to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Haryana claims to have suffered a loss of Rs 35,020 crore. Haryana finished constructing the canal on its side in 1980. 3.5 MAF of water from Ravi and Beas was allotted to Haryana. Haryana claims it would have grown an additional 8 lakh tone of food grains earning 1000 crore per year had the Punjab government completed the canal. Also, it claims it has spent nearly 20 crores to fight the cases related to the canal project in court.

What is the stand of farmers?

With escalating land prices, the farmers in the three districts (Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala) through which the 214  km long canal passes through in Punjab have begun to claim back their lands by filling it up with mud and by clearing structures such as canal walls, pillars etc. The support of the local politicians have encouraged the farmers to initiate such actions.

Similarly, the farmers of Haryana who had lost their lands for the project have started demanding that their government should also return back their lands.

Conclusion

Punjab’s stand on this issue has become a severe test for inter-state relations and is escalating bad precedent to other states that have similar disputes with their neighbours. By acting on its own way without any regard to the rights of other states, the actions of states like Punjab may have evil consequences to the federal structure and to the unity and integrity of the nation. However, with consensus governance and respecting the phenomenon of “Live and let live” will truly prevent many water wars.

Sankar Ray

North East Institute of Advanced Studies [NE-IAS]

Assam

 

DEMONETISATION: ONE LAST QUEUE TO END ALL QUEUES

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The era of digital India and way forward for cashless economy-

Ever since the decision of government to withdraw the legal tender of INR 500 and INR 1000 currency, there is a mix reaction among all section. Scholars like Noble laureate Amarty Sen terms,” Demonetisation is a despotic move”.  But the historic action should be analysed cautiously in the light of socio-political and economic perspective of India.

Is this a new move?

Although November 08 2016 move is the first since 1991 economic reforms, nevertheless India had witnessed another two moves in January 1946, January 1978.

This historic movement will make the way forward for cashless economy. Not only this it will also curb black money, death blow to terror funding and would certainly stop counterfeit currency and many more.  Before we go in-depth analysis, there is a need to understand what is demonetisation? What is cash economy, how does cash flow in the market? What is cashless economy?

    Demonetisation is the act of stripping of currency from its status as legal tender. It is necessary whenever there is a change of national currency. The old units of currency must be retired and replace with new currency.

PROCESS: CASH FLOW IN MARKET

The crude difference between cash economy and cashless is that, the earlier in which most transactions are made by physical currency and later where transactions are made through online i.e. digitally or in other words there is a minimal use of physical currency.

What is the move?

INR 500 and INR 1000 currency ceased to be legal tender and are replaced with new INR 500 and INR 2000 currency.

Understanding demonetisation from Economic and socio-political perspective

Black money and impact on it

Black money is money which is earned by illegal means or has not been disclosed before legal tax authorities. Government of India had given many chance to its citizen to disclose the undisclosed money under Income Disclosure Scheme where immunities also have been given under IT Act 1961, Wealth Tax Act 1957, Benami Transactions(Prohibition) Act 1988. Starting from constituting SIT(special investigation team) headed by M.B. Shah, later formulating the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, NDA government has taken many measures. Other measures include the passage of Multi-Agency Group(MAG) on Panama paper leaks and passage of Benaim transaction Bill, 2015 etc. But many have not disclosed so far as a token of ignorance.

So, banning the legal tender of old INR 500 and INR 1000 currency, person holding huge cash will certainly face difficulties. Because the value of money is zero now and can’t be used in any transaction. And going to bank for depositing the money will certainly made them under    the purview of legal scrutiny. In other words, there is no way other than disclosing it as black money and paying tax for same as per guidelines, if one wishes to get at least some value out of it rather than getting nothing by not disclosing.

So, here after every transaction made digitally will not only improvise the habit of people but also will put a check on the transactions made digitally, as amount of money present in Bank account has to be explained with source of income before the legal authorities.

In India, major portion of transactions are made in cash. But demonetisation has certainly forced the market to go for cashless economy. It will also reduce the expenses made upon printing and handling of physical currency. However, we should not ignore the negative impact of demonetisation.

Impact on market: who suffers and up to what extend

At least this move has brought rich and poor in same platforms in terms of value of money. But there has been a huge impact on general traders, poor, farmers, small vendors especially unorganised sector who are far away from digital era. They have been facing shortage of demand due to volatility of market. But in a long run many unorganised sectors will be streamlined with main economy.

How does it curb terrorism and its funding, insurgency, counterfeit currency and impact on our Red Corridor!

    In the era of global problem like terrorism, stopping terrorists funding is one of major way to curb the menace of terrorism. Many terrorists funding are done with cash, there is a view that Pakistan sponsored terrorist will meet blow because of demonetisation move, as they will certainly get difficult to get the new currency for their transactions.

Not only this, it is also in view that it will curb the counterfeit currency which are traded within India and outside also, especially from Pakistan, this is a serious death to their action, because many security measures have been adopted in the new currency and almost impossible to copy it.

Nevertheless, it will also make difficult to the operations of many extremist groups that are active along Red corridor of India, because their transactions are done only in cash.

From Constitutional and legal perspective: Does it infringes our Fundamental Rights? What does Directive principle and Fundamental Duties say?

The move was based on Section 26(2) of RBI Act, 1934, which allows only withdraw of a series of particular currency but not whole of it as done in this case. Right to withdraw can be drawn under Article 21-Right to live with dignity and Article 19 –Rights regarding certain freedom, though some legal expertise are in view that sudden demonetisation and a certain cap on withdraw of money from bank account infringes our fundamental right to withdraw. DPSP (Directive Principles of state policy)- Article 39 states that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment. It is a good step towards achieving this goal. Article 51A -Fundamental Duties talks about developing scientific temper, humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform. Indeed, this reform is going to cause a positive impact in near future. Other expertise view the government’s move in a positive way as there is nothing called absolute right and government may impose certain restrictions as per constitution for welfare measurements and necessities.

Conclusion

As our Prime Minister Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi quoted “One last queue to end all queues”, although people are facing temporary discomfort, recent demonetisation indeed will leave a positive foot print in the long run, which would not only help in  uplifting India’s GDP but also would help in achieving the Digital India mission. Also, JAM (Jandhan, Adhar, Mobile) will be the game changer to quote “one person, one account”. This type of financial inclusion will truly meet the globalisation era with other countries. It is soon we can believe that each and every person would come into the main stream economy and would able to contribute in India’s inclusive growth.

Sankar Ray

Faculty

North East Institute of Advanced Studies

http://www.northeastias.org

 

Historic Verdict of Supreme Court on the National Anthem: Should Indians develop a culture of patriotism?

national-anthem-picture

A PIL was filed by one Shayam Narayan Chaoskey in SC after a wheelchair bound man who could not stand and sing the national anthem in Cinema was assaulted by a couple in Panaji, Goa, considering it an insult to the National Anthem. It was sought in the PIL what amounts to an insult to National Anthem?

SC gave the ruling on November 30, 2016 that National Anthem should be played in cinema halls before screening of the movie. This means everyone should stand up to respect the National Anthem which is also stated under article 51A. While giving such a verdict, SC also prohibits any dramatisation of the National Anthem.

The Supreme Court order directing cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening to “instill committed patriotism and nationalism” has received mixed reactions from legal experts with a few terming it as “judiciary’s over-enthusiasm” and others saying playing it and respecting it won’t cause any harm.

Several other questions do also arise with this ruling of SC. Why are Cinema Halls being targeted only while there are other public places like temples, community halls, parties, functions etc. where mass gathering take place without the national anthem.  Why is the need to show patriotism and nationalism in cinema halls or for that matter anywhere at large? Why is judiciary intervening and dictating the nationalistic virtues to be followed unlike before? Is the government responsible for this intervention as Attorney General of India who is appointed by government in power, has welcomed the verdict? Why is it needed by the person who is in no mood to imbibe nationalistic feelings and only wants some relaxation & rejuvenation in the Cinema Halls? These questions still remain unanswered.

However, those who are in favour ask the same questions but with different Intent. Why is 3 mins of respect in cinema halls becoming such an uncomfortable reckoning? Why nationalistic and patriotic feelings should not be promoted when India is doing the surgical strikes across the borders and losing soldiers frequently?  Why shouldn’t it be Cinema hall because it is a place of unity in diversity where everybody comes leaving his identities at home? Is it not the Ideals of National Anthem which are followed in the country and makes it a beautiful and peaceful place to sit and enjoy the movie unlike Middle East turmoil, so why shouldn’t it be played in Cinema halls.

There have been varied reactions from layman as well as prominent people in Indian society over this verdict. It is disheartening to know that some media articles are also misinterpreting the judgement by writing extensively on “why should we sing National Anthem”? The judgement is not about singing or performing on National Anthem, it is just the symbol of showing respect and bringing patriotism at a time when India is growing fastest economically and facing the heat from neighbours for infiltration and terrorism. Standing for 3 minutes won’t do any harm mentally or physically.

Sunil Awasthi

Faculty, NE-IAS

North East Institute of Advanced Studies

Assam

http://www.northeastias.org