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
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