Mains Q & A 28 February 2023
Q1. Critically assess whether the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 complies with the Indian Constitution. (250 Words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Government Policies and Interventions
The CAA’s objective is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi, and Christian minority who reside in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
It will not be considered unlawful immigration to classify members of these communities who came in India prior to December 31, 2014, fearing persecution for their religion in their home countries. Instead, they will be granted Indian citizenship.
According to the Act, the central government has a variety of grounds for revoking OCIs’ registrations.
The CAA upholds the following constitutional precepts:
This Bill will have a significant positive impact on every person impacted by Partition and the subsequent conversion of the three countries into theocratic Islamic republics.
The government justified the proposal of this Bill by pointing to the Nehru-Liaqat pact’s inability to safeguard the rights and dignity of minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as the fragmentation of India along religious lines.
The CAA does not follow constitutional guidelines:
The first argument holds that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act transgresses both the letter and the spirit of our Constitution. The criteria for citizenship based on birth, descent, registration, naturalisation, and citizenship via incorporation of territory were defined by the Citizenship Act of 1955. Articles 5 to 11 of the Constitution address citizenship.
By imposing new requirements, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act undermines the notion of common citizenship notwithstanding differences in caste, creed, gender, ethnicity, and culture.
The Constitution’s Article 14 also reads, “State shall not deny to any individual within the territory of India, equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws.”
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act fosters conflict and blatantly biases human rights violations.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is simply one of many things that jeopardise the survival of the unity of our country that was won through conflict. According to our hard-won Constitution, we must foster a sense of inclusion and belonging for everyone in order to weave the thread of oneness because people differ on an individual and social level.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act aims to widen the nation’s ethnic and social gap.
Muslims are expressly excluded from the list of people who are eligible for citizenship under the Act, which includes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
By granting citizenship based on one’s faith, it discriminates against Muslims and goes against the fundamental tenet of secularism.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act has drawn criticism for being discriminatory and violating human rights from those who have demonstrated against it in public places across a number of States.
The Hindutva agenda, which has as its ultimate goal the formation of a “Hindu Nation,” is the foundation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. This goal is firmly defined by the BJP-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s recent actions as well as historical experience.
With the CAA’s ratification last week, there have been various protests across north and northeast India. Ironically, these protests are manifestations of the CAA’s efforts to undermine India’s coexisting multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature.
While religious identity and Muslims’ unfair exclusion from the CAA are the main topics of the protests in Delhi, Aligarh, and Lucknow, the mobilisations in the Northeast were more about concerns about ethnicity, culture, and language than they were about religion.
The Supreme Court must now interpret the Act’s provisions and decide whether or not its “classification” of objects in accordance with Article 14 is “reasonable” because it is the protector of the Constitution. The policies relating to refugees and undocumented immigrants ought to be subject to more thorough deliberation and consideration. But, religion cannot be the basis for Indian citizenship.
Q2. India is presently experiencing an unprecedented growth in the renewable energy sector. In this light, consider its negative consequences on both the environment and human health. How may their effects be lessened? (250 Words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Renewable Energy in India
Global worries about reversing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have led to innovations in the energy sector. The goal is to boost the installation of renewable energy, and 192 countries around the world have announced plans to support it. Renewable energy is viewed as a win-win solution since it enables us to address climate change without impeding economic progress. Renewable energy sources unquestionably have a bright future in the energy sector.
Massive renewable energy programmes in India:
As part of its international climate change commitments, India promised in 2015 to lower its emissions intensity by 33-55% by 2030 and to obtain 40% of its power, or roughly 350,000 MW installed capacity, from renewable sources.
India is rushing to install 175,000 Megawatts of renewable energy by 2022, a target it set as part of its global climate goals.
India now has 89,635 MW of installed renewable energy capacity (as of 31 December 2020), meaning India will need to roughly triple that amount in the following two years to fulfil the required aim.
The 40,000 MW rooftop solar target, which was a significant part of the 175,000 MW target, is not being met by India, though.
The government is undoubtedly attempting to construct huge solar and wind farms in order to close the deficit in such a circumstance.
A 41,500 Megawatt mega solar and wind energy park is planned to be built on 60,000 hectares of land in the Kutch region, which the Gujarati government has approved. The project is anticipated to attract investments of approximately Rs 1.35 trillion.
Renewable energy projects can increase local employment, enhance health, open up new job opportunities, and give customers more options.
Yet, measures to increase the use of renewable energy pose an equal or greater harm to ecological biodiversity and cause extensive displacement from homes and livelihoods.
Large-scale solar or wind generation projects require contiguous land tracts.
The availability of land is a contentious topic, especially in developing countries.
Particularly when it comes to wind and hydroelectric projects, they have to compete with other economic endeavours, local livelihoods, and conservation concerns.
Also, these programmes usually involve a process where growth is prioritised over attempts to support livelihood and conservation.
Shepherds, landless labourers, and other individuals whose livelihoods depend on common lands are not consulted prior to project establishment, nor are they compensated for their losses.
For the local population, this results in a variety of issues, including land alienation, poverty, issues with their physical and mental health, and migration.
In India, all development initiatives, including those utilising renewable energy, require the approval of village-level panchayats.
The certificate of approval from panchayats at the village level is frequently nothing more than lip service.
The project developers frequently make extravagant claims that their initiatives would boost the local community’s economy and supply it with energy in order to get the projects off the ground.
There is no system in place to monitor how much electricity will be provided and to how many households at the local level.
The 113 MW Andhra Lake Wind Power Project, promoted by the multinational Enercon, serves as a prominent example and is located inside the confines of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
The people who live close to the project site lack access to energy, despite the fact that the project endangers their way of life and the region’s abundant biodiversity.
The rapid switch to renewable energy has been criticised for, among other things, removing fertile agricultural land and seriously harming the avifauna.
Forest grounds are the obvious setting choice for wind and hydroelectric power project developers.
Private land purchases are challenging to arrange, and agricultural land that is needed for the development of renewable energy sources must be converted into commercial property.
In contrast, it is typically easier for renewable energy projects to get approval from the federal and local forest departments because they are seen of as “sustainable.”
Trees must be felled, transmission lines must be put in place, and a sub-station must be constructed in order to transport the electricity to the grid in order to set up a renewable energy project.
The wind turbines, which are big structures that must be hauled to greater heights, will have a significant influence on the local ecology.
In areas with heavy rainfall, these changes may cause severe soil erosion, landslides, floods, conflicts with local livelihoods, and other problems.
Gujarat plans to construct a Kutch hybrid renewable energy park with a 41,500 MW capacity, according to a 2020 news report.
The state government has granted the revenue department’s request for 60,000 hectares of land, or nearly the area of Greater Mumbai, for this project.
The Kutch project’s property has been labelled “wasteland” by the government, although the villagers may disagree and see it as a valuable resource.
In Kutch, there are several protected sites that need to be preserved.
Both Pakistan and India share a huge wetland in Kutch known as Shakoor Lake.
This region is home to many different bird species, and the nearby lands provide vultures and flamingos with great habitat.
There have been numerous reports of bird deaths brought on by collisions with power lines from recognised organisations like the Wildlife Institute of India.
This area is also traversed by the Central Asian Flyway.
Because residents objected about the project’s allotted land, which the Rajasthan government had referred to as a wasteland, the Rajasthan High Court delayed development owing to land problems.
What must be done:
RE plants need to be designated go/no-go zones where they may and cannot be built up based on the ecological and livelihood sensitivity of the regions.
A fair and public hearing process must be used for every development application.
It is necessary to conduct sector-wide EIAs and have a separate EIA authority.
creating a central repository for baseline information.
public and neighbourhood communities should get all project-related information, from notification through clearance.
Any efforts that have a high possibility of dramatically affecting the ecosystem must obtain environmental clearance.
Environmentally delicate places shouldn’t be used for industrial expansion.
Public hearings should now be required for all previously exempt categories of projects with environmental implications.
Renewable energy projects are rarely criticised even if they threaten ecological biodiversity and force many people off their lands and out of their livelihoods.
The state should consider the vulnerability of the local inhabitants who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods when supporting renewable energy projects.
Some possible solutions include giving the panchayats more power at the village level, requiring EIA for all renewable energy projects, and making sure that people who live close to renewable energy projects have access to both electricity and the economy.
It is increasingly more crucial to look at the complex and multifaceted processes by which such projects are implemented as more officials and practitioners from various nations focus on developing renewable energy.
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