News & Editorial Analysis 26 May 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Judicial Recusals:
Judiciary related issues
· A former SC judge last week declined to recuse himself from hearing a plea, calling it an attempt to engage in “bench hunting.”
· Recusal: what is it?
· It is the decision not to participate in a government-sponsored event, like a court case, because the administrative or judicial authority presiding over it has a conflict of interest.
· This conflict of interest can occur in a variety of ways, such as by owning stock in a party to a lawsuit or having a prior or personal connection to a party.
· The custom of judicial recusals is a result of:
· The fundamental rules of due process of law are:
· No one shall be a judge in his or her own cause (Nemo judex in sua causa).
· In addition to being carried out, justice must also be seen to be carried out.
· The SC and HC judges take the same oath of office, promising to carry out their responsibilities in line with the Constitution’s III Schedule without regard to personal gain, favour, or animosity.
· The SC’s adoption of the Restatement of the Values of Judicial Life prohibits judges from hearing cases in which they have financial stakes unless the parties involved explicitly express that they have no objections.
· Recusals by judges in recent cases:
· Recusal was requested in the previously mentioned case involving a former member of the Indian Police Service (Sanjiv Bhat) on the grounds that there was a potential of bias because the same Judge, a Gujarat High Court judge, had previously censured the IPS officer.
· An application to have the CJI recuse himself from hearing applications for same-sex marriage legal recognition was denied.
· Rahul Gandhi appealed his conviction in the criminal defamation case, asking for a stay of execution. Gujarat High Court Justice Gita Gopi recused herself from the case.
· Why do judges resign?
· to avoid the impression that the judge’s decision in a case was biassed.
· whenever a SC appeal is brought against an HC decision rendered by the subject judge prior to his promotion.
· How does the recusal process work?
· India lacks written laws governing recusals despite the fact that the matter has been addressed in a number of SC decisions.
· Recusals can be either automatic (when the judge recuses himself from the case) or when a party makes a recusal request.
· No party can force a judge to disqualify themselves from a case; that choice is totally up to the judge’s conscience and judgement.
· If a judge recuses himself, the Chief Justice lists the matter for assignment to a different Bench.
· Should judges keep track of their excuses?
· The process is frequently left up to the judges themselves to record the reasons for recusals because there are no statutory regulations guiding it.
· The majority of the time, the reasons for the recusal are kept a secret, which jeopardises judicial openness.
· However, the Delhi High Court recently decided that any inquiry into the grounds for the recusal would amount to meddling in the legal process.
· What guidelines has the SC previously created?
· The rationality of the suspicion of bias in the view of the interested party is relevant in determining whether a judge should recuse himself or herself, according to Ranjit Thakur v. Union of India (1987).
· In the case of State of West Bengal v. Shivananda Pathak (1998), judicial bias was defined as a mental state that prevents a judge from being impartial in a particular case.
· Union of India v. SC Advocates-on-Record Association (2015): There is no need for additional investigation to determine whether there is a “real danger” of bias when a judge has a financial interest.
· In Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal and Ors (2019), it was held that being impartial was still possible even if one had a legal opinion.
· Practise in other countries:
· The United States has a clear legislation on recusals that outlines the reasons for doing so, including a judge’s financial or corporate interest, their affiliation to a party, or their involvement as a lawyer or crucial witness in the case.
· The law of the United Kingdom established a criteria to consider the possibility of prejudice from the viewpoint of an objective and reasonable observer.
· Recusal reasons must be stated since it is the judge’s “constitutional duty” to be “transparent and accountable” (Justice Kurien Joseph).
· To address the rising number of recusal pleas, there is a need for “procedural and substantive rules” (Justice Madan Lokur).
· Source à The Hindu
2 – Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation:
· The PM of India spoke at the opening session of the FIPIC-3 summit (in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea/PNG) and emphasised the significance of the 14 FIPIC members.
· The nations of the Pacific Islands (PICs):
· Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are the three main island groups that make up this region, which is also used to describe the 14 nations strewn around the South-West Pacific Ocean.
· These include the Solomon Islands, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu as well as the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, and the Marshall Islands.
· The region is made up of small island nations with sparse populations and abundantly resourced Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) that are strategically situated (at the intersection of important maritime trade routes).
· Due in part to the popularity of the Indo-Pacific framework, their profile is growing.
· India’s interactions with PICs:
· Indian labourers were brought to the area at the beginning of the 19th century to work as indentured plantation employees; the majority of them settled mostly in Fiji and PNG.
· The region did not find significant significance in India’s foreign policy after independence.
· However, India’s Pacific policy has been updated and redesigned as a result of the shifting geopolitical landscape, strategic and economic imperatives, and growing naval capabilities.
· India’s rekindled interest should also be viewed in the context of its own Act East policy, which has been renamed.
· Currently, India and PICs conduct roughly $300 million in annual trade, including about $200 million in exports and $100 million in imports.
· FIPIC, or the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation:
· It features 14 of the PICs and was introduced during the 2014 visit of the Indian PM to Fiji.
· The FIPIC programme is a significant effort to advance India’s strategic and economic interests in the Pacific area (from the Indian Ocean).
· The PICs’ primary projects for Indian support include:
· establishing a trade office in India, a special USD 1 million fund for sustainable energy and climate change adaptation, and a Pan Pacific Islands e-network to enhance digital connection.
· India has introduced a new Visitors Programme for PICs and boosted the annual “Grant-in-Aid” to each of the 14 PICs from USD 125,000 to 200,000 for community initiatives of their choice.
· The FICCI introduced the Business Accelerator for FIPIC at the FIPIC-2 (Jaipur, 2015) to give businesspeople on both sides the essential knowledge and assistance.
· India has the advantage of a huge Indian Diaspora; 3000 Indians live in PNG, while approximately 40% of the population of Fiji is of Indian descent.
· India still focuses mostly on its relationships with Fiji and PNG when it comes to its interactions with PICs.
· Way Forward:
· An important area of shared concern where closer collaborations might be established for practical, effective solutions is climate change.
· For India, it’s crucial to create a thorough and precisely defined strategy for communicating with all the PICs.
· The Indian Prime Minister referred to PICs as “large ocean states” during the FIPIC-3, underlining their strategic and economic significance for India.
· India and PICs are now considerably closer together thanks to recent efforts, and in order to further their relationship, India should support the PICs’ development objectives.
· Source à The Hindu
3 – Open Network for Digital Commerce:
Government Policies and Interventions
· The benefits and difficulties of implementing an Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) in India are discussed in the essay.
· About ONDC:
· The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is a government effort that seeks to restructure the Indian e-commerce business by converting it to an open-network paradigm from a platform-centric model.
· The Unified Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) aims to ease transactions between buyers and sellers regardless of the platforms they are registered on, building on the success of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) initiative, which facilitates seamless money transfers across various payment networks.
· Explanation using a concrete instance:
· Consider that you wish to purchase a product—say, a smartphone—online. Although you have an Amazon account, you discover a better offer for the identical smartphone on Flipkart. You wouldn’t be able to buy it from Flipkart under the existing setup because you aren’t registered there.
· However, ONDC functions as a sizable network that links all the various e-commerce platforms together. You can so purchase goods from various platforms, even if you are only enrolled on one of them, rather than being restricted to a single one.
· The goals of ONDC are to democratise and decentralise e-commerce, increase access and variety for sellers, give consumers more power and choice, and lower the cost of goods and services.
· The next steps and conclusion:
· The effectiveness of the product listings from diverse vendors and the upkeep of service quality will be key factors in determining the outcome of the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). The government needs to concentrate on creating a better digital environment, putting a digital education strategy into effect, running a well-funded adoption drive, and offering a secure one-stop shop for problem solving.
· Source à The Hindu
4 – Bushfire Management Program:
· Wildfires called “bushfires” are those that start in bushland or wooded regions. It is characterised by raging, uncontrollable flames that can seriously harm property, wildlife, and vegetation.
· Due to its hot, dry environment, combustible vegetation like eucalypt forests, weather patterns like droughts and high winds, and human activity like land clearing and arson, Australia has regular bushfires.
· Over the past 20 years, a highly successful wildfire management programme has been created to combat it. Fire managers utilise tiny controlled fires from April to June every year to lessen fuel loads and create a safer landscape. This method, also referred to as “painting with fire,” combines satellite data with pastoralists’ and park rangers’ Indigenous knowledge and experience.
· The initiative has significantly reduced the number of fires in the area and is now recognised globally as a successful fire management strategy. It emphasises how crucial it is to combine technology, local expertise, and a variety of skills in order to achieve resilient and sustainable environmental management.
· Source à The Hindu
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
ANDHRA PRADESH TELANGANA WATER DISPUTE:
Even nine years after the splitting of the combined State, the persistent conflict between Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) and Telangana over the water share of the Krishna river is still unsolved.
The Krishna water dispute’s starting point:
The conflict began when Andhra Pradesh was created in November 1956.
Four senior figures from each of the Rayalaseema and Telangana regions of Andhra signed a Gentlemen’s Agreement on February 20, 1956, before to the creation of Andhra Pradesh.
The agreement included, among other things, a clause that protected Telangana’s demands and interests with regard to the equitable allocation of water resources in accordance with international treaties.
However, the united dispensation focused on Andhra, which already had systems created by the British, at the expense of in-basin drought-prone districts in Telangana, a fact that was contested by the latter region’s politicians from the start.
KWDT-I Bachawat Tribunal:
To resolve the disagreement over water sharing among the riparian States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, the Bachawat Tribunal (KWDT-I) was established in 1969.
Andhra Pradesh received 811 tmcft of consistent water from the Tribunal. The A.P. Later, the government divided it between Andhra and Telangana at a ratio of 512:299 tmcft, depending on the command area built at the time or the utilisation mechanism in place.
The Tribunal had additionally suggested delivering water from the Krishna Basin’s Tungabhadra Dam to Telangana’s drought-prone Mahabubnagar region.
This was not implemented, though, and as a result, the populace became dissatisfied.
Telangana repeatedly emphasised how it had experienced unfairness in Andhra Pradesh when it came to the division of water resources.
After the split, arrangements for sharing water have been made:
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 makes no mention of water sharing because the KWDT-I Award, which was still in effect, did not allocate resources based on regions.
The two States agreed to ad hoc water sharing in the ratio of 34:66 (Telangana:AP) during a meeting called by the previous ministry of water resources in 2015. The minutes of the meeting made it plain that the agreement must be reviewed annually.
The Act’s provisions were limited to the management of water resources through the establishment of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) and Godavari River Management Board (GRMB), two boards.
The Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) has been tasked with handling the situation after the river board was unable to persuade the member States.
The Union Minister and the Chief Ministers of Telangana and A.P. have been invited to two meetings of the Apex Council, which has been called by the Centre. without making any move to address the situation, in 2016 and 2020.
Telangana withdrew its case before the Supreme Court about the problem in response to a recommendation issued by the MoJS in 2020 since the Ministry had promised to refer the issue of water shares to a Tribunal.
But even while the two States continue to argue about it day in and day out, the Centre has been sitting on the topic for more than two years.
Steps to Take:
Only by establishing a permanent tribunal with Supreme Court appeal jurisdiction over the panel’s ruling can the water conflicts be resolved or balanced.
Any constitutional government’s first priority should be the amendment of Article 262 and the execution of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act.
It is time for all of us to reevaluate our approach to managing water, not just at the state level but also nationally, keeping in mind the water scenario over the next 30 years.
To reach consensus, the communication channels urgently need to be upgraded.
The system must be strengthened so that the body established by the Centre can appropriately represent the states and safeguard their interests.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN INDIA:
The Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG) just announced its second meeting, which was recently announced by the G20.
Impact of the disaster’s state:
Four of the top ten most vulnerable countries according to the most recent World Risk Index are G20 countries.
G20 countries collectively estimate an annual average loss of $218 billion, or 9% of their average annual infrastructure spending.
According to the XDI Assessment Report 2023, India ranked third among the top 50 countries most at risk from the consequences of climate change in 2050, behind the United States and China.
With 27 of its 29 states and seven union territories vulnerable to frequent natural disasters like cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, floods, and droughts, India is one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations. According to data, 30 various types of disasters could impair the potential for economic, social, and human growth in India as a whole.
From 2000 to 2016, India had five big natural catastrophes that claimed 17,671 children’s lives. An estimated 330 million people were impacted by the 2015–2016 drought in ten states, including 37 million children under the age of five.
According to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) from 2022, India experienced a natural calamity brought on by climate change nearly every day of the year.
Over 416,667 homes have been demolished, 2,755 people have died, 1.8 million hectares of cropland have been impacted, and close to 70,000 animals have perished as a result of these calamities.
These include the floods in Amarnath, the uplandslides in Manipur, Cyclone Asani, the Uttarkhanad Avalanche, etc.
Priority areas for the G20 DRRWG include:
Early alert systems for everyone:
The availability of such systems can be made more widely available by treating them like global public commodities, same to how cyclones are treated.
Infrastructure with a disaster and climate resilience focus:
utilising multiple approaches to handle intense and extended danger.
Dispersed events like heatwaves, lightning, localised flooding, and landslides create extensive risk (risk of losses from frequently occurring but mild impacts), which results in significant losses.
Intensive risk comprises the possibility of suffering losses from rare but significant incidents.
Improving National DRR Financing Frameworks:
Adaptive financial methods, including reserve money, specialised credit lines, and green finance
enhancing catastrophe response capabilities and systems:
by a significant convergence of climate change adaptation and catastrophe risk reduction. Structures for managing food will benefit both.
Ecosystem-based approaches to catastrophe risk are applied:
by approaching disaster risk reduction as a multi-tiered, multi-sectoral effort, integrating the activities horizontally across sectors and vertically from local to sub-national, national, and global.
The goal of the G20’s Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group in 2023 is to promote cooperation among the G20 members, conduct multidisciplinary research, and share best practises in disaster risk reduction.
The Bali Agenda for Resilience, part of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2022 (GP DRR 2022), summarises the results. The conference’s focus was on “From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development For All in a Covid-19 Transformed World.”
a disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategy that considers the entire society, making sure no one is left behind.
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should continue to place DRR at the centre of all development and financial policies, laws, and plans.
Keeping greenhouse gas emissions within the range of their ability to be mitigated will help to lessen the frequency and severity of catastrophic occurrences.
Both disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation seek to lessen vulnerability while boosting capability and resilience.
The 2016 Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Coalition (CDRI):
It is a global alliance of nations, UN organisations, multilateral development banks, the corporate sector, and academic institutions that seeks to advance infrastructure that is disaster-resistant.
At the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, it was introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The primary goal of CDRI is to build ecological, social, and economic infrastructure that is disaster-resistant.
Its goal is to advance study and knowledge exchange in the areas of standards, finance, and recovery methods for infrastructure risk management.
It aspires to bring about significant changes in member nations’ policy frameworks and upcoming infrastructure expenditures, as well as a significant reduction in the financial losses brought on by disasters.
The Sendai Framework was approved at the 2015 Sendai, Miyagi, Japan, Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was replaced by the Sendai Framework.
The current Framework is applicable to risks associated with both small- and large-scale, frequent and rare, rapid and slow-onset disasters brought on by natural or man-made hazards, as well as associated environmental, technological, and biological risks and hazards.
Its goal is to provide direction for the multi-hazard management of catastrophe risk in all facets of development, including at all levels and within and across all industries.
The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) of the United Nations:
It is a worldwide framework created by the UN to encourage action to lessen socioeconomic vulnerability, risks from natural hazards, and disasters related to technology and the environment.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) is the name given to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in its current incarnation.
It builds on the knowledge obtained from the period of time known as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, which ran from 1990 to 1999.
The UNDRR adopts the following principles, which were adopted during the aforementioned Decade:
Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness, and Mitigation and its Plan of Action, Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World.
Initiatives by India:
India is the first nation to have developed a national and local strategy with a short-term objective achievement deadline set for 2020 and has accepted the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction.
The Disaster Management Act of 2005 serves as the foundation for disaster risk governance. The 2009 National Policy on Disaster Management, which was implemented in recognition of the significance of State and District level authorities, widened the scope of legislative provisions.
To further integrate institutional structures and mechanisms with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), the National Disaster Management Plan was also published in 2016. By including not just the SFDRR but also the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement, the NDMP was further modified in 2019 with the goal of enhancing coherence with the entire post-2015 development agenda.
Creation of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which consists of 144 special teams prepared to respond to natural disaster-related occurrences, with 72 units specialising in CBRN and nuclear disasters.
The Ministry-level Disaster Management Committee (MDMC) is in charge of directing Disaster Management Task Forces to carry out response and recovery-related tasks in the event of a disaster. The MDMC is also in charge of activating or deactivating an urgent disaster response based on the information at hand.
Social inclusion as a guiding principle for all endeavours, mainstreaming DRR as the foundation of all development, and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point DRR Agenda.
using structural and non-structural provisions, incorporate DRR within the educational system. This includes the National School Safety Programme, which the NDMA introduced in 2011 using a centralised method.
Checklist for Natural Disaster Impact Assessment, which mandates that all new projects spending more than one billion rupees undergo an evaluation of both the risks of new hazard-related impacts as a result of the project as well as the expected effects of hazards on the project.
This is further supported by the Ministry of Finance’s Guidelines (2009), which emphasise the need for additional costs to be allocated towards prevention or mitigation of natural and/or man-made hazards for all projects involving structural assets, including any modifications to existing land-use plans.
The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), which was developed in 2008 in response to climate change concerns, aims to jump-start climate action in the nation at all scales. It is governed by values that prioritise safeguarding the weakest and poorest people, promoting growth through sustainable development, enhancing the use of technology in risk management, and encouraging cross-agency, transboundary cooperation on relevant issues (Gov. of India, 2008).
The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) made to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015 were a supplement to the agenda, and the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change has been reactivated.
State and union territory authorities were required to establish State Disaster Response Funds as well as the National Disaster Response Fund (Das, 2013). The National calamity Response Fund can help States with extensive rehabilitation and reconstruction following a calamity.
Additionally, National Disaster reduction Funds have been established for DRR and risk reduction efforts, and each level of government is required to imitate them.
The establishment of National and State Disaster Management funding (N/SDMF), as detailed in the 15th Finance Commission’s framework for sector-specific funding, may help to support this by bolstering local-level mitigation initiatives that are focused on mitigation (20%) and response (80%).
Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Society Coalition (CDRIS):
National governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and finance mechanisms, the commercial sector, academic institutions, and research organisations come together to form the CDRI, a worldwide partnership.
It strives to make infrastructure systems more resilient to risks associated with the climate and natural disasters, ensuring sustainable growth.
Steps to Take:
Insurance solutions that cover both residential and domestic assets are necessary to increase resilience in the face of climate change.
To meet the needs of individuals with the lowest purchasing power, the State may need to step in.
Be established housing insurance for the poor along the lines of agricultural insurance programmes.
Minimising Response Time: Whether from the State or insurance companies, it is necessary between exposure to climate risk and the accrual of benefit.
It is possible to use the direct benefit transfer (DBT) architecture.
At several sizes (home, community, and city levels), spanning six policy areas (social protection, public health, livelihood, housing, community infrastructure, and urban planning).
Three motivating elements:
Governance that is capable, responsible, and responsive.
urban statistics and the climate.
urban finance and climate.
To ensure that pro-poor climate resilience solutions to lessen vulnerability, these must be put in place.
Data governance: It is possible to work together with government databases to identify beneficiaries and satellite imagery to detect flooded areas.
Local governments’ functions:
By offering fundamental services that are essential to enhancing the resilience of the urban poor, city governments are at the forefront of tackling hazards.
Incorporating risk reduction into urban management can help city officials increase their resilience.
Public Involvement: People are the first to notice any climate risk, and their active support will help reduce the risk before any serious harm is done.
Through the devolution of funds, functions, and functionaries, financial independence and higher financial support are required.
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