Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
Swiss backs Indiaâ€™s bid for NSG
Switzerland has backed Indiaâ€™s bid for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ahead of a meeting of the 48 member group. PM Modi is on a visit to Switzerland. The two countries have also agreed to step up cooperation in unearthing black money stashed by Indians in banks in Switzerland.
Switzerland is a key member of the NSG and its support for Indiaâ€™s bid for membership is seen as crucial in the backdrop of China stressing on the need for consensus as India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The U.S. and many other NSG member countries have supported Indiaâ€™s inclusion, based on its non-proliferation track record. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one countryâ€™s vote against India will scuttle its bid.
What is NSG? – Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975. The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology. Another benefit was that non-NPT and non-Zangger Committee nations, then specifically France, could be brought in. France later joined both the treaties.
What is the Non Proliferation Treaty? – The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.
EC asks statutory power to postpone polls
The Election Commission of India has written to the Centre seeking amendment to the Representation of the People Act to confer specific powers on it to postpone or countermand polls based on evidence that money power was used to influence voters.
The move comes days after the EC rescinded the poll notification for two Tamil Nadu Assembly constituencies, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, following reports of large-scale distribution of money and gifts to voters by the candidates and political parties. The action was taken under Article 324 of the Constitution.
Currently there is no such provision in the law and the EC wants to invoke the constitutional provision sparingly.
In a letter to the Legislative Secretary in the Law Ministry, the Commission said a new clause â€˜58 Bâ€™ be inserted in the Act to allow adjournment or countermanding of election in the affected polling areas on the grounds of use of money power. The provision would also empower the Commission to re-schedule the elections in such areas.
What is Clause 58A? – The Commission said in Clause 58 A and the proposed provision 58 B, the expression â€œcountermand the electionâ€ would mean ab initio rescinding of the entire electoral process in the constituency.
Clause 58 A empowers the Election Commission to cancel polls only if there is an evidence of booth-capturing or use of muscle power to influence the outcome of elections.
What is Art 324? – Art 324 states that the superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission. It has sub clauses that mention the composition of Election Commission, ground and procedure for removal of the Election Commissioners etc.
The Constitution does not prescribe any qualifications, academic or otherwise, for appointment to these offices. The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission. The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
Draft Wetlands Rules
The government has released the draft wetland rules which will replace the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2010. The new rules seek to give power to the States to decide what they must do with their wetlands. This includes deciding which wetlands should be protected and what activities should be allowed or regulated, while making affable calls for â€˜sustainabilityâ€™ and â€˜ecosystem servicesâ€™.
One of the reasons cited for bringing in the new Rules has been ineffective implementation of the 2010 Rules.
What are the differences between the new rules and the 2010 rules?
1) Regulatory Body – Â The Centre created the Central Wetland Regulatory Authority (CWRA), headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, and consisting of bureaucrats and experts. The new rules propose the removal of this body entirely, and its replacement by a State Level Wetland Authority in each state.
2) Time Bound Plan – Â In the 2010 rules wetlands have to be notified within a year of the Rules coming into force, and there are deadlines for each process along the way: 6 months for identification and classification, 30 days to send it to a research institute for reference and opinion, 90 days for the research institute to submit its opinion.
The 2016 draft rules does away with the time-bound process for notification.
3) Permitted Activities – Â According to the 2010 rules activities prohibited in wetlands include reclamation, constructing permanent structures within 50 m, setting up or expanding industries, throwing waste, etc.
The draft rules 2016 the entire list, apart from reclamation, has been deleted. Activities that make â€œwise useâ€ of wetlands have been permitted. The state authority is to decide what does, and doesnâ€™t, amount to â€œwise useâ€.
4) Restricted Activities – In the 2010 rules 12 activities including fishing, boating, dredging, etc. are restricted without prior permission from the state government.
The draft rules do not address the issue of prior permission for any activity.
5) EIA – Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is compulsory before undertaking any activity in a wetland area as per 2010 rules.
The draft rules makes no mention of the need to conduct an EIA.
6) Citizensâ€™ Check – The 2010 rules allow a challenge to a decision taken by the CWRA before the National Green Tribunal(NGT).
The draft rules has no mention of a personâ€™s ability to challenge the state authorityâ€™s decision.
What are the criticisms of the new rule? – The rules have given greater responsibility to the states in the management of the wetlands. This can be seen in the light of greater decentralisation and federalism. But the states have been not able to fulfil their responsibility under the 2010 rules.
The new rules contain clauses that contain no ecological criteria for recognising wetlands, such as biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, and wetland complexes.It has also deleted sections on the protection of wetlands, and interpretation of harmful activities which require regulation, which found reference in the 2010 rules.
The 2016 Draft Wetland Rules also call for wise use of wetlands. â€˜Wise useâ€™ is a concept used by the Ramsar Convention, and is open to interpretation. It could mean optimum use of resources for human purpose. It could mean not using a wetland so that we eventually strengthen future water security. It could also mean just leaving the wetland and its catchment area as is for flood control, carbon sequestration, and water recharge functions.
Source: TheHindu, IndianExpress
National Disaster Management Plan released
PM Modi launched the Disaster Management Plan aiming to make India more disaster resilient and reduce loss of life due to natural disasters. It covers all phases of disaster management- prevention, mitigation, response and recovery
The plan draws from the four priority themes of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The holistic plan outlines all phases of the disaster management cycle and integrates the roles and responsibilities of government agencies and departments from the local to national level. The national plan has a regional approach that can also be used for development planning initiatives.
The plan identifies major activities such as early warning, information dissemination, medical care, fuel, transportation, search and rescue, evacuation, and more to serve as a checklist for agencies responding to a disaster. It also provides a generalized framework for recovery and offers flexibility to assess a situation and build back better. To prepare communities to cope with disasters, the plan emphasizes on a greater need for information, education and communication activities.
What is the Sendai Framework? – The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action.
It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR).
The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
It has mentioned four priorities for Action.
Priority 1. Understanding disaster risk
Priority 2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
Priority 3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
Priority 4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to â€œBuild Back Betterâ€ in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction
Take the Quiz below to know your preparation Level!