Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NHRC guidelines on encounter deaths

·         Police station must immediately file FIR
·         Hand over investigation to independent agency like CID if a person form local police is involved or there are allegations of fake encounter
·         Family members of deceased must be associated with magisterial enquiry
·         Prompt disciplinary action must be taken against errant officers
·         Police personnel are trained in arms and hence they need to pass test for reasonable apprehension of imminent danger to prove his/her innocence in encounter death case

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Unnamed 02/26/2012 (p.m.)

    • evolved jointly by the Ministry of Rural Development and the Planning Commission, envisages a concerted effort by the Centre, the State governments concerned, and civil society to transform the lives of the tribals
    • Centre intends to set up the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) to support grass-roots level action towards empowerment of the tribals.
    • Centre will provide the initial fund
    • foundation will, however, be expected to be self-sustaining in the long-run.
    • objective is to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the tribals, enhance their access to and control over resources, enhance their mobility and access to information, and create new opportunities for the youth
    • foundation will be expected to support each endeavour for at least five to seven years and probe for scope in areas of watershed management, forest management, irrigation management, dairy, fisheries, agriculture, forestry, skill-development, among others.
    • It will also focus on local institution building, strengthening adivasi leadership, especially women in panchayati raj, self-help groups, community-based organisations and social mobilisation and awareness generation around entitlements and development programmes.
    • World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries, suggesting that the wild polio virus had been totally eliminated from the environment.
    • e feat came after India successfully completed an entire year without an incidence of polio.
    • However, India will have to remain polio free for two more years before it is declared polio-free by the WHO.
    • There were only four countries in the WHO endemic list, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan
    • put in place an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan across the country.
    • Under this plan, there is going to be zero tolerance for any new polio case and such a case will be declared as a public health emergency
    • Rapid response teams have already been formed in all States to respond to any polio case
    • alerted all the States bordering the neighbouring countries to strengthen surveillance
    • Special booths have been established on the Wagah border and the Attari train station in Punjab, and the Munabao train station in Rajasthan to ensure that all children under the age of 5 coming from across the border are given polio drops.
    • real credit should go to to the 23 lakh volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children even in the most remote areas often in very bad weather conditions
    • It is an incredible achievement” which has come about due to the perseverance of Indian government and its people
    • the impact of high medical costs placed an unconscionable burden on the poor
    • therefore, focusing our attention on social security of the poor with regard to their health care
    • Public expenditure on health has increased from less than 1 per cent of our GDP in 2006-07 to an estimated 1.4 per cent of GDP by the end of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan
    • goal of increasing public expenditure on health to at least 2.5 per cent of the GDP
    • Cashless outpatient care and a specialised cadre for public health are major recommendations of the high-level expert group of the Planning Commission on universal health care
    • Just as the polio campaign saw the State and Central governments working closely with a common purpose
    • vision of universal health care will unite all of us in a concerted effort to preserve, protect and promote the health of all our people
    • two-thirds of private health care expenditure was on outpatient and diagnostic care and on purchase of medicines
    • insurance schemes generally tend to focus on in-patient cases
    • need greater capacities for decentralised health care planning and management
    • greater focus on human resource development as well as on technological innovation and information systems that can support such decentralisation

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fighting piracy on dry land

·         navies of 30 nations operate in indian ocean to protect merchanidse shipments from piracy
·         yet pirates managed to attack 237 times in 2011 against 219 in 2010
·         over 150 sailors are still captive with 10 ships
·         root cause of piracy is the failed state
·         somalia ahs remained without a real government since 1991
·         the transition government supported by west has contorl only on mogadishu
·         fall of somalia state had detrimental impact on somalian coast of puntland
·         foreign trawlers enetered puntland fishing grounds and destroyed their traditional source of income
·         the puntland fisherman had no funds to upgrade nor market access
·         this forced several young men to take to piracy
·         piracy kicked off in 2005
·         now it earns close to 200 mn $ a year
·         piracy is costing world 7-12 bn $ a year
·         most of governments have agreed to provide armed guards on the ships to protect from pirates
·         but no amount of armed intervention will help curb piracy
way ahead
·         most of piracy money is spent in buying houses, cars etc
·         hence international development intervention can help cut off the incentive to take to piracy
·         this requries great courage to operate in the dangerous region

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mercury pollution

·         release of mercury into the air, soil and water poses a significant health risk
·         Annually, a large amount of this toxic, complex metal is simply dumped into municipal landfills or released into the air from a “green” source
·         India's domestic production of fluorescent tube lights (FTL) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) involves the use of about eight tonnes of mercury
·         both industry and government must take responsibility for the toxic waste element in end-of-life lamps
·         when mercury turns into methyl mercury, it accumulates in fish
·         Human health, particularly that of foetuses, is greatly harmed when such fish is consumed
·         a part of the mercury from discarded units is released into the air, and the rest goes into the soil, contaminating surface and sub-soil water
·         problem is acute in large cities, which absorb a large portion of about 400 million CFLs and 250 million FTLs that come to market.
·         the lamps made in India have a higher mercury content than those in the developed world
·         India does not specifically identify fluorescent lamps either as municipal waste, or hazardous waste
·         Unlike the more diffused problem of mercury released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, especially coal, fluorescent lamps represent a secondary source of man-made contamination
·         Central Pollution Control Board had written to State Governments asking them to encourage establishment of recycling units so that fused CFLs and FTLs are properly collected, the mercury recovered and recycled scientifically
·         not much progress has been made
·          this exposes governmental indifference to a significant public health issue
·         States and their Pollution Control Boards have not acted to stop the release of this neurotoxic pollutant into the atmosphere

Way ahead

·         adopt the Municipal Solid Waste rules in their entirety
·         segregate waste at the level of the consumer and remove recyclable materials
·         This will reduce pressure on the environment from various waste sources such as batteries, plastic, glass and metal

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Public administration in pictures: Evolution of public administration



  • case was against the Government of A.P. for leasing out tribal lands to private mining companies in the Scheduled areas.
    • led to a historic judgement in July 1997
      • court declared that the Government is also a "Person" and that all lands leased to private mining companies in the Scheduled areas are null and void.
        • every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve community resources
          • Minerals to be exploited by tribals themselves either individually or through cooperative societies with financial assistance of the State.
            • At least 20% of the profits as permanent fund for development needs apart for m reforestation and maintenance of ecology.
              • Transfer of land in Scheduled Area by way of lease to non-tribals, corporation aggregate, etc stands prohibited
                • Transfer of mining lease to non-tribals, company, corporation aggregate or partnership firm etc is unconstitutional, void and inoperative.
                • court urged government to take a policy decision for a consistent scheme throughout the country in respect of tribal lands.

                Tuesday, February 14, 2012

                Extractive industries transparency initiative

                ·         .Transparency in the oil,gas and mining sectors is a growing global concern
                ·         extractive sectors generate $3.5 trillion in annual gross revenues,or around 5% of global GDP
                ·         Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI),a standard for reporting and managing revenues from natural resources,is beginning to usher sanity into the sector
                ·         .It requires extractive companies,including public sector undertakings,to publish what they pay governmentsfees,taxes,royalty,profit shares,et al.Governments also publish what they receive in revenues from companies
                ·         EITI is a global,voluntary coalition of governments,companies and civil society
                ·         An independent audit,in which civil society is a participant,examines both sets of revenue disclosures and looks for discrepancies
                ·         In 2009,Azerbaijan became the first country to become EITI-compliant.Since then,35 countriesthough not Indiaare following the standard

                India is reluctant to sign up
                ·         It insists the idea of EITI is driven by the West and that India doesnt stand to gain as its New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) is quite robust
                ·         It says EITI serves only the interests of Western oil giants who are finding it difficult to operate in countries with poor governance structures
                ·         As a result Indian companies are beginning to be equated with the Chinese,who have acquired a despicable record in bribery and corruption in foreign shores
                ·         EITI process is not a fool-proof mechanism but ,its better than having nothing at all
                ·         India says An online reporting system is expected to be in place by March 2012
                Improvements in EITI
                ·         There is increasing international pressure on the EITI to go beyond mere revenue flows.Today,the process only tells citizens what revenue has been paid by companies,and doesnt examine whether contracts are fair or whether revenues from minerals and oil & gas lead to the well-being of the citizenry

                Monday, February 13, 2012

                India pakistan trade talks: progress report

                ·         India pakistan talks on trade front has made significant progress
                o   Pakistan has agreed to shift over form positive to negative list
                o   Pakistan is willing to give India MFN status
                o   They have set a trade target of 6 bn $ by 2014(currently 2.7 bn $ trade in 2010-11)
                o   Talks underway to liberalise visa norms for businessmen
                o   Addressing inssue of non trabe barriers
                Beyond trade
                ·         Talks on other issues seem to heading nowhere
                ·         Uncertainty within the pakistan politics has lead to slowdown in talks
                ·         Home secretary and foreign  min talks have been delayed
                ·         Uncertainty in afghanistan has kept the tensions on border running high
                ·         Within India , central government is busy fighting allegations of corruption
                In afghanistan
                ·         Both India and pakistan are competing to gain influence in afghanistan
                ·         Pakistan fears the indian government offer of training the afghan army
                o   Pakistan fears afghan army will develop an indian mindset
                ·         India fears that pakistan will provide space for taliban , haqqanis to be part of afghan political setup
                Jammu and kashmir
                ·         India pakistan are yet to decide on even starting point of talks
                ·         India wants to have talks on basis of 4 point formula agreed to through back channel talks during mushraff era
                o   The formula called for self governance, demilitarisation, making borders irrelevant and jt management of kashmir
                ·         Equally India has failed to act on recommendations of JK interlocutors to meet the expectations of people in valley

                Administrative crisis in Andhra pradesh

                ·         For past few months Bureaucrats in Andhra Pradesh are agitated over the arrest of two of their colleagues by the CBI
                ·         State IAS Officers' Association has accused the CBI of violating established procedure
                ·         Officers are upset at being hauled up for the misdeeds of their Ministers.
                ·         complaint by Andhra Pradesh bureaucrats that the CBI is arbitrary in dealing with senior civil servants is only half true
                1.       Home Secretary Acharya was arrested only at an advanced stage of the investigation
                ·         When the progress of an investigation is dependent mainly on the evidence purely within the knowledge of a Secretary to Government, the latter's arrest may become unavoidable
                ·         It is a necessary step forward in a crucial investigation
                ·         However arrests bring to focus the contentious subject of minister-civil servant relationship
                ·         impression in AP is that some senior bureaucrats were intimidated into doing corrupt acts by the political executive
                ·         This demoralisation within the IAS is true of many States
                ·         Earlier civil servants were threatened with a transfer to an insignificant post
                ·         But danger these days is of physical harm to the officer who puts his foot down on an illegal request, and his family too
                ·         it is also true that senior officers are more than willing to oblige a dishonest minister
                ·         this is because of their greed or a desire to enlarge their career prospects
                ·         If officers are so pliant as to consciously commit an act of impropriety, they  will have to pay the penalty subsequently
                Way ahead
                ·         Always put down objections if any in written through filenotes/letters etc
                ·         This will act as evidence of stand of an officer later when it is reviewed

                ·         It is difficult to be courageous and honest these days, when venality rules the corridors of government
                ·         But few years of pain resulting from an honest course of action is very much preferable to the ignominy of criminal action for having been party to dishonesty
                ·         This is certainly not something that will earn one a success, but will definitely fetch him peace of mind and an image that everyone around him will talk about for long years.

                Sunday, February 5, 2012

                Article summaries for 4th Feb 2012

                  • . Under this Bill, the population will be divided into three groups: priority, general and excluded.
                  • Food Security Bill
                  • Each group is to have different entitlements under the public distribution system (PDS): major entitlements, token benefits and nothing, respectively
                  • no clarity, however, as to how these groups are to be identified - the Bill leaves it to the central government to specify identification criteria to be applied by state governments
                  • BPL census was conducted every few years to identify BPL families, based on some sort of scoring system
                  • Until now, the main beneficia-ries of the PDS were "below poverty line" (BPL) familie
                  • cut-off scores were supposed to be set state-wise in such a manner that the proportion of families with a score below the cut-off (i.e. BPL families) matched the proportion of families below the poverty line according to the Planning Commission's poverty estimates
                  • this approach is very unreliable and divisive
                  • three independent national surveys (the National Sample Survey, National Family Health Survey and India Human Development Survey) show that about half of all poor families in rural India did not have a BPL card in 2004-05.
                  • Many states, however, have moved away from BPL targeting in recent years, and extended the PDS well beyond the BPL category - Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, among others
                  • this move seems to have helped them to improve their PDS by creating a broader and stronger constituency for it.
                  • It effectively reimposes BPL targeting under another name, that too based on rigid national criteria
                  • NFSB threatens to undermine this positive trend
                  • Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), which seems to be expected to identify priority households, is much the same as earlier BPL censuses
                  • the hit or miss approach involved in BPL censuses is bad enough when the PDS is run as a scheme
                  • A legal right cannot leave any ambiguity as to who is entitled to it.
                  • he government asserted that the SECC would actually be a departure from the earlier BPL methodology
                  • it promised to stop setting state-wise caps on the BPL list based on official poverty estimates
                  • it is far from clear how the identification process would work without poverty caps
                  • There is a simple way out of this mess: abolish the distinction between general and priority groups and give all households a common minimum entitlement under the PDS unless they meet well defined exclusion criteria
                  • target the rich ins-tead of trying to target the poor.
                  • This simplified framework would be relatively practical, transparent, equitable and politically appealing
                  • people would be clear about their entitlements, making it much more likely that the Bill will succeed
                  • in its present form, it will be very difficult to implement
                  • It will also undermine, instead of supporting, the recent trend towards a more inclusive PDS in many states.
                  • India requires a comprehensive policy to prevent sex selection
                  • use of sex selection technologies to abort female foetuses is linked to the increasing devaluation and disempowerment of women
                  • present framework of economic policies has acted as an engine for crass consumerism glorified by a powerful media
                  • determine the status of a person through the ownership of luxury good
                  • coercive two-child policy being promoted by governments
                  • State governments use coercive and undemocratic methods to enforce the two-child norm
                  • “ Hum do hamare do ” is often translated as “ Hum do hamare do ladke .
                  • any comprehensive policy must target these faulty population control policies
                  • It was said that it is better to abort the female foetus than give birth to an unwanted baby girl who will face discrimination all her life
                  • present campaigns of the government against female foeticide are hypocritical and superficial
                  • strong links between sections of a powerful medical fraternity who make profits through the use of sex-selection technologies and politicians and bureaucrats has made a mockery of the legal provisions.
                  • only a few cases are filed in the courts and there are hardly any convictions
                  • Since 1994 when the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) law was enacted there have been only 93 convictions
                  • For over a decade, the Medical Council of India refused to change its rules to include sex selection as a ground to delicense doctors
                  • law alone can never rid society of crimes linked to systemic discrimination and oppression
                  • Issues of women's economic rights, of employment, of rights in decision making are critical in policies to enhance women's status
                  • By only targeting communication to families and ignoring mass crimes committed by unethical doctors and remaining silent on the vested interests of the ultrasound companies, India is unlikely to stop the ongoing genocide against the next generation of women
                  • After having repeatedly stated that progress based around the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, which has to do with devolution of powers, was his government's roadmap towards finding a solution to the ethnic problem
                  • 13th Amendment itself (a result of the India-Lanka accord of 1987), has been hotly debated and opposed by both Tamils and the Sinhalese
                  • devolution, with a change in political and administrative powers, is the sole possible long-term solution to the conflict
                  • Colombo's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
                  • stressed that devolution is central for genuine reconciliation based on a political solution.
                  • a genuine democratic debate and ethos seem to be missing in Sri Lanka.
                  • it seems to be openly backtracking, which must be roundly condemned.
                  • agitation by villagers near the Kaiga atomic power project
                  • not against nuclear energy or the plant
                  • want is the government acquire the villages in the radius of five km from the plant and rehabilitate the residents
                  • width of the safety ring or ‘exclusion zone' is the central point of disagreement
                  • the committee's demands are based on a plan submitted by the Nuclear Power Board in July 1986 and it recommended a five-km buffe
                  • plant director J.P. Gupta quotes more recent studies that recommend a 1.6-km-wide no-habitation zone
                  • several people afflicted with skin and other diseases, besides cancer patients
                  • plant management counters this claim with health studies conducted by it. These studies show that the prevalence of diseases in the area is no more than in other regions.
                  • [the plant authorities] build their residential colony 20 km from here
                  • the district administration and the State government have no role to play in rehabilitation as this was a Central project.
                  • Significant rise in paddy production in the eastern belt has boosted the overall foodgrains situation
                  • slight shortfall in coarse cereals and pulses production
                  • Bihar and Jharkhand, known as laggard states in farm production and productivity, had outperformed in paddy yields
                  • Rice output in Bihar has more than doubled
                  • trebled in Jharkhand
                  • Helped by winter rains, wheat production is set for an all-time record
                  • output of pulses is expected to be slightly lower at 17.28 million tonnes as also of oilseeds at 30.53 million tonnes due to diversification of significant area to cotton in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan
                  • As a finite, life-giving resource, access to water must remain a fundamental right
                  • state, as custodian under the public trust doctrine, should uphold the right of the citizen to clean, safe drinking water
                  • Many areas in the country are water-stressed, and there are simmering inter-State disputes on sharing river waters
                  • National Water Policy 2012, now published in draft for public comments, should ultimately take a holistic view of the issue
                  • focussed on treating water as an economic good
                  • distort access and prices in the long run
                  • state should exit the service-provider role and become a regulator is only a step away from abandoning the equity objective
                  • Private sector water services have clearly failed in many countries
                  • Just over a decade ago, water wars in Bolivia reversed privatisation moves.
                  • In urban and semi-urban areas, the lack of adequate public investments has weakened municipal systems.
                  • unsustainable extraction from aquifers
                  • proposal to separate groundwater rights from land title by amending the Indian Easements Act, 1882 merits serious consideration
                  • assessment of the national water balance at the basin level is essential
                  • comprehensive legislation to address inter-State riparian issues
                  • calls for urgent action, and the policy can cover major ground if it lays greater emphasis on making the ‘polluter pays' principle work
                  • industrial pollution
                Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

                summary of Antrix- devas scam

                Excerpts from ET article
                • Antrix Corporation was set up as the marketing arm of Isro in 1992
                • company hoped to promote commercial exploitation of space products,technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by Isro
                • A major objective is to facilitate development of space-related industrial capabilities in India
                • Forge Advisors,a US-based strategic consultancy, established an Indian company called Devas Multimedia,with some former Isro scientists on board.
                • Antrix inked a memorandum of understanding with Forge for exploring opportunities in digital multimedia services
                • agreement provided leasing of 90% of the space segment capacity on two satellites for 12 years to Devas
                • Antrixs board approved the draft agreement between the two sides,and the agreement was signed
                Two Satellites
                • Antrix committed to build and launch two satellites
                • These two would have helped Devas deliver a range of services such as broadband to remote areas
                heres how a scam was discovered
                • there was no tendering for awarding the contract to Devas
                • the Cabinet was not informed that the two satellites were being built by Isro for Devas
                • satellites were leased to Devas at throwaway prices

                counter arguments
                • Antrix-Isro,regularly leases satellite capacity to private firms in the direct-to-home business without tendering
                • Devas was bringing in new technology that had a high risk of failure
                • estimated loss of 2 lakh crore was based on comparing what Devas paid to 3G auction prices
                  1. it was a nonsensical comparison because the 3G spectrum and its uses and market are completely different from those of the S-band spectrum and the related technology that Devas would have used
                • Image of Antrix,which was supposed to be the government space technology arm that would bring in private investment and cutting-edge technology and market Indian space capabilities abroad,remains very badly damaged

                Friday, February 3, 2012

                Mental Healthcare- EPW article

                  • World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a resolution on “Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response at the country level” in Geneva recently
                  • It was moved by India
                  • India had also successfully argued for mental disorders being included in the non-communicable disease
                  • India’s mental healthcare scene is dismal, almost bordering on the negligent.
                  • 7% of the population suffers from mental disorders with 90% remaining untreated
                  • one psychiatrist per four lakh people
                  • India’s allocation for mental healthcare is less than 1% of the health budget
                  • huge percentage of the mentally ill are cared for by their families without even getting a proper diagnosis.
                  • social stigma associated with being mentally sick means that families can hardly hope for a support network outside the home
                  • lack of awareness associated with these illnesses also results in many of the patients being taken to religious charlatans who promise to “exorcise” the evil spirit or neutralise the “evil eye” cast on the family
                  • Women sufferers bear a heavier burden.
                  • little appreciation of the need for counselling in times of natural disasters and the attention to be paid to post-traumatic stress disorder
                  • mentally ill are also more prone to suffer violation of their human rights, remain unemployed and poor, and more susceptible to the other non-communicable diseases.
                  • National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) was launched in 1982 while the Mental Health Act, 1987 came into effect in the early 1990s
                  • emphasises community-based system of care
                  • Psychiatrists and judicial activists have called for an overhauling of the Mental Health Act to make it more patient-friendly and in tune with advances in the field of mental healthcare
                  • draft Mental Healthcare Act 2010
                  • DMHP should be incorporated in the National Rural Health Mission, inclusion of mental healthcare in primary healthcare, giving greater attention to rehabilitation in severe illnesses like schizophrenia (there are more than 30 lakh patients in India), increasing the budget for mental healthcare and greater attention to issues facing women patients, especially that of “guardianship”.
                  • HO estimates that the global effect of mental disorders in terms of loss of economic output will reach $16,000 billion over the next two decades
                  • While even in the high-income countries nearly 35% to 50% of those with mental disorders do not get treatment, the figure is 76% to 85% for the low and middle-income countries

                Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.