CAO The Hindu NOTES – 9th July, 2018 (Daily News Paper Current Affairs Analysis)
Date:- 9th July 2018
The democratic mandate in Delhi(Judiciary)
Why In News
India is fortunate that its courts have not had to resort to the doctrine of necessity.
- “Nations fail when institutions of governance fail. The working of a democratic institution is impacted by the statesmanship shown by those in whom the electorate vests the trust to govern.
A cautionary tale
- The Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra is today well-known for its rugged vehicles.
- The enterprise began when two brothers with engineering backgrounds and bureaucratic careers quit to form a company to manufacture the American Willys jeep on license in India.
- That jeep has had several avatars and its descendants, the Scorpios and the XUVs, still rule Indian roads. The company however began as Mahindra and Mohammed.
- The Assembly petitioned the Sindh High Court, which ruled in its favour, but the decision was overruled by a split decision in the Pakistan Supreme Court by a bench headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Munir.
- An appointed Governor General thus effectively became the ruler of Pakistan. Ghulam Muhammed however fell ill, and appointed another former bureaucrat, Iskander Mirza, as acting Governor General.
- A proviso to Article 239AA of the Constitution, which provides that “in the case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and his Ministers on any matter, the Lieutenant Governor shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to the decision given thereon by the President and pending such decision it shall be competent for the Lieutenant Governor in any case where the matter.”
Sealed by the court
- In almost all administrative matters of consequence, the Lieutenant Governor acted as though he was the final word and that it was not necessary for him to seek the aid and advice of the elected government.
- A government for 20 million residents of Delhi was told that it could not govern if the Lieutenant Governor chose to not let them govern. Last week’s Supreme Court judgment in the Government of the NCT of Delhi has finally put an end to such constitutional coups.
- It negates the bureaucratic usurpation of power that sought to operate in constitutional interstices, at the instance of an inimical central government.
- The majority judgment of Chief Justice Dipak Misra says: “There is no room for absolutism. There is no space for anarchy… Ours is a parliamentary form of government guided by the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet.
- Justice Chandrachud in his concurrence holds that, “In a cabinet form of government, the substantive power of decision making vests in the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head. The aid and advice provision contained in the substantive part of Article 239AA(4) recognises this principle.
- Three and a half years of a five-year term have been lost in a constitutional wrangle, caused as much by the bureaucracy as by the politicians. Apart from administration, what has suffered is the reputation of the bureaucracy for impartial, apolitical governance.
A telling pun
- In 1958 the President responded to a state of political chaos by declaring martial law, and calling out the army.
- A section of the public punned on the term ‘martial law’, saying, “Pakistanmein ab toh mashallah ho gaya (by the grace of God, things in Pakistan are well now).” We in India are fortunate that our courts have not had to resort to the doctrine of necessity.
- Our politicians and bureaucrats may have in this instance failed, but the Supreme Court has, for the moment, delivered us from mischief. Amen to that, and may our quasi-federal Union long endure as a democratic polity.
Discriminatory practice: on the reservation for the disabled
Why In News?
There is a gap between the mandated reservation percentage for disabled persons and the actual numbers.
- Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi may have been in violation of disability reservation provisions in student selection and faculty recruitment.
- The matter came to light when the aspirants who appeared for the M.Phil/PhD entrance examination did not get their final results, even though results for other degree courses were out around two months ago.
- The JNU administration put up a notice on its website that stated, “This is for information of all that declaration of results of JNUEE 2018-19 for M.Phil/Ph.D. programme has been delayed, as the matter is sub judice.”
- The reason it is sub judice is that a writ petition was filed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) challenging the non-fulfilment of reservation requirements for the differently abled in admissions to M.Phil. and PhD courses.
- This is not just one case relating to a single institution; it is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
- Pervasive violations of disability reservation in the last two decades show a lack of progressive intent on the part of the authorities.
- This flies in the face of Parliament passing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Bill and enacting it as a law in 2016.
- The RPwD Act appears commendable as it has increased the quota of reservation for persons with benchmark disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher educational institutions.
- The Act came into force, there have been multiple instances of persons with disabilities having to fight their cases in courts to ensure that government and educational institutions comply with the disability reservation provisions.
- In government jobs and higher educational institutions, where the total seats offered are fewer, disability reservation takes a back seat.
- The argument often given by authorities is that due to the paucity of seats, the disability reservation cannot even be calculated.
- State governments have been in violation of the prior Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995 and of the RPwD Act, 2016.
- The system is designed such that disability is seen as the inability of a person and therefore many differently abled candidates are not recruited, additionally contributing to the mounting huge backlog of vacancies.
- Many think that persons selected under reserved categories, especially under the differently abled category, are not meritorious candidates and their selection brings down the quality of institutions in which they are selected. If this mindset prevails, we must expect the systemic violation of disability reservation to continue.
A tale of two economies: the US and the UK
Why In News
With slow growth and Brexit problems, the U.S. and the U.K. have reason to regard India with some envy.
- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claims that India’s economy has been “systematically dismantled” by the BJP government. He should know that every nation’s economy is only a glass half full. Two of the world’s biggest economies, the U.S. and the U.K., are both facing uncertain economic times.
- S. President Donald Trump could claim to have beaten the 10-year growth period of 1991 to 2001. Cutting interest rates, injecting billions of dollars into the economy, cleansing the financial system so that banks can resume lending, tax cuts by the Barack Obama administration, and spending increases helped the U.S. economy recover.
- But average growth is still only 2.2% without a single annual increase of over 3% over the past 10 years.
- Half the growth benefits during Mr. Obama’s tenure went to the top 1% of households, and the lack of real income growth for society’s lower levels led to the discontent that pushed Mr. Trump to the top position.
- In the U.K., the situation is worse. Leaving the European Union (EU) means getting into uncharted waters.
- Much of the acrimony is within the ruling Conservative Party over the exit plan, leaving Prime Minister Theresa May to negotiate both with the EU and her party simultaneously.
- Britain’s growth rate over the past year is half its average over the past 25 years, investment is stagnating, mortgage approvals are down by nearly a quarter, and almost half of EU businesses have cut back on their investment since Britain decided to leave the EU.
- There is disagreement among the Conservatives over future links with the EU’s single market and customs union.
- To summarise, a country like Norway can be in the single market but not the EU: this involves eliminating tariffs, quotas and taxes on trade, and allowing free movement of goods, services, capital and people against payments towards the EU’s budget, and accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
- The EU is not only a single market, it is also a customs union.
- The EU wants the formalities completed by October this year while Ms. May is apparently counting on Brussels caving in at the eleventh hour rather than precipitating the mutual damage arising from the absence of any deal. But the EU can afford a waiting game while the U.K. cannot.
Consequences of leaving the EU
- Leaving the EU will affect Britain in many ways. It will be excluded from the EU space project Galileo, and lose access to the EU global positioning system that will challenge the American GPS as a market leader.
- It will lose EU funding for scientific research. The U.S. is likely to drive a very hard bargain for rights for British airlines.
- Britain will also lose its place as a leading country in the EU’s customs union. This asset is to be replaced by new trading relationships that will have to be painfully negotiated by Britain one by one.
- The growth model of inward investment based on Britain’s technology and access to the world’s biggest free trade area will disappear, and what will remain is an overpriced housing market in danger of collapse.
- Both the U.S. and the U.K. have reason to regard India’s economic prospects and political stability with some envy.
India denies shifting pillars along Myanmar border
Why In News
v Reports baseless, no confusion about alignment.
- India has not shifted pillars demarcating the international border with Myanmar.
- The statement came after media reports suggested that India had given up land to Myanmar while carrying out a survey.
- “We have come across media reports stating that certain boundary pillars in the Manipur sector of the India-Myanmar international boundary have been allegedly shifted. These reports are completely baseless and unsubstantiated. This sector of the international boundary is settled and there is no confusion as to its alignment.”
- Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had said that the border survey with Myanmar had not led to surrender of Indian territory to Nay Pyi Taw. The spokesperson explained that bilateral border surveys were conducted in keeping with the India-Myanmar Boundary Agreement of 1967.
- “Recently, routine survey work has been carried out jointly by the Indian and Myanmar survey departments during which work on construction of subsidiary pillars in between already settled main boundary pillars 81 and 82 along zero line, that is, agreed and settled international boundary, has also been undertaken.
- This has been done with the objective of apprising the local residents on both sides of the border of the exact alignment of the international boundary,” the spokesperson said.
- Some reports had suggested that India surrendered tracts of land to Myanmar to please the country’s pro-China government. But both the Chief Minister of Manipur and the External Affairs Ministry denied the same.
The tree as an urban coordinate
Why In News?
A mature tree creates a sense of civilisation in a way that a manicured green belt cannot.
- The ongoing protests in some of India’s largest cities (these include Delhi and Mumbai) to save natural and not built entities — trees in urban spaces — are remarkable, even though we understand that cities are centres of construction; spaces curated and created mainly by the human hand.
- Hundreds of Delhi residents took to the streets in protestagainst a plan to have 14,000 trees cut for the “redevelopment” of government colonies in South Delhi. In Mumbai, citizens have been fighting for years to save over 2,000 trees in Aarey, slated to be felled for another kind of development — to make way for a metro line car shed.
Trees outside a forest:
- The UN’s REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, programme lays emphasis on planting and maintaining forests as a means to counter climate change.
- In India, forests are governed under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, State laws, and the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which lay down elaborate rules for the conservation and diversion of forests.
- Despite this, forests are the first targets when it comes to projects such as mining, dams, highways, industrial projects and so on, to be offset by compensatory afforestation.
- Former Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar once remarked that diversion of forest should be seen as ‘reforestation’. As far as the issue of trees outside forest areas is concerned — city trees — the situation is much worse.
- Trees in cities usually come under State Tree Acts; they can have variable descriptions.
- As India moves towards more urbanisation, can cities be looked at more as shared habitats between humans and biodiversity, rather than a jungle of buildings? The question, even if not consciously faced through planning strategies, will need to be tackled in one form or the other as cities become progressively more unliveable.
- With its year-round hazardous air quality and an increase in cars and inhabitants, Delhi is a tough city to live in. Trees in Delhi do not just purify the air; they are also visual relief.
- The fight for Delhi’s trees is also a fight for the right kind of species to be allowed to grow to the right size; this flies in the face of quickly manicured or manufactured ‘green belts’. It outlines a struggle for cities which have a civilisation of shared meaning and relationships between people and nature.
- And clearly this relationship comes through size, age and the tree as an optic for a lived, native habitat for birds and wildlife. Urban biodiversity then can be its own form of civilisation — one that our air as well as our urban identity needs desperately.