TOPIC NO 1 – IN A FOREIGN POLICY HAZE
Ahead of his visit to India this week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set the course for India-U.S. relations going ahead, mapping convergences in connectivity, trade and economics and counter-terrorism cooperation. He also displayed a keen understanding of India’s strengths as a “diverse, dynamic, and pluralistic” democracy.
Confused Politics & Actions :-
If we look at the Coleman hostage case, Before release
- U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford had told a Senate armed service committee that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has proven links to terror groups and suggested the partnership with Pakistan was all but over.
After the release
- President Donald Trump tweeted that he was beginning to “develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders”. Shortly after, his Chief of Staff John Kelly referred to Pakistan as a “great partner”, while Mr. Tillerson said Pakistan was critical to regional stability.
In another incident,
- U.S. forces resumed drone strikes in the Af-Pak region, their big kill was Omar Khalid Khorasani, the leader of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which targets Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
On the Other side,
- U.S. rejoined the Pakistani-led Quadrilateral Coordination Group along with Afghanistan and China, that seeks to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table for talks, a group that’s carried out deadly attacks across Afghanistan just last week
Quadrilateral Coordination Group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States & China to bring an end to the conflict in Afghanistan that continues to inflict senseless violence on the Afghan people and also breeds insecurity throughout the region.
- Another reason is, US has not been similarly pro-active in condemning the Pakistan government’s decision to drop terrorism charges and paving the way for 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed’s release from detention.
US – IRAN STRATEGY & EFFECTS ON INDIA :-
According to Mr. Trump’s Iran strategy, announced on October 13, the U.S. will increase sanctions on Iran to ensure it can no longer “finance terror”, while refusing to certify its nuclear programme as required.
It will certainly have a multi-fold effect on India.
- Trade with Iran, which is already constrained by previous U.S. sanctions and diktats, will be very hard to enlarge. Indian oil imports from Iran have also been decreasing, mainly due to American pressure.
- If Iran is unable to conduct more trade, it will have less incentive to focus on the new Chabahar port over the pre-existing trade through Bandar Abbas. This would certainly impact India’s plans for connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
CONCLUSION :- The government has a multi-fold challenge before it, to address its concerns on all these issues, while keeping the focus on the India-U.S. bilateral relationship, which is largely more beneficial for India.
TOPIC NO 2 :- ITS TIME TO MAKE DEEP EMISSION CUTS
Human activities, the collective choices we have made to deploy fossil fuels and change land uses, are responsible for the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and associated global warming. In 2016, the earth’s temperature was 1.3°C warmer than in pre-industrial times.
More dishearteningly, even if countries take the action they promised at the Paris climate change conference in 2015, the world would be about 3°C warmer by 2100, well above the 2°C temperature guardrail to avoid dangerous climate change.
Clearly, the current pattern of increasing emissions (which reportedly grew at the rate of 2.6% per year during 2000-2015) needs a rapid phase down. But the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that the earth can stay below 2°C.
NEGATIVE EMISSIONS :- The removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
USE OF POSSIBLE MODELS TO REDUCE CO2 :-
- Bioenergy for fuel in combination with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This involves the use of plants as fuel. The released carbon dioxide is then captured and safely stored indefinitely. However, due to competition for land for food and other purposes, and due to technological limitations, this approach is believed to be inappropriate for extensive use.
- Other methods to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and increase carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans are also being explored, but their long-term implications are not clear.
- The possibility of injecting cooling aerosols at a large scale in the atmosphere, but these geoengineering technologies pose huge risks and are also not long-term solutions.
- Better agricultural practices that leave carbon in the ground, use of biochar, undertaking afforestation and reforestation.
RISK OF FAILING OF THESE MODELS :-
- 4°C increase in global temperatures
- Pose a severe risk to society, especially to the poorest countries, which will experience the worst impacts of climate change.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ?
- Need to speak openly and freely about the dangers of climate change.
- Policies therefore need to support practices that successfully keep carbon in the ground, prevent deforestation, support agricultural practice that sequesters carbon and promote sustainable land use practices that reduce emissions.
- Need a carbon tax.
- Policies should nudge especially the more prosperous communities towards less carbon intensive lifestyles, either through taxes or incentives or both.
TOPIC NO 3 :- UNACCEPTABLE FETTERS ON RAJASTHAN ORDINANCE :-
The Rajasthan ordinance making it a punishable offence to disclose the names of public servants facing allegations of corruption before the government grants formal sanction to prosecute them is a grave threat to media freedom and the public’s right to know.
In recent times, the legislative priority is consolidating towards adding more layers of protection to officials from corruption cases.
The ordinance proposes to do two things:
- It introduces provisos to Section 156 and Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974 (CrPC) requiring prior sanction of the government before court-ordered investigation of public servants.
- Introduces a new offence under the Indian Penal Code (Section 228-B) which makes the reporting of allegations against a public servant contrary to the new provisos introduced in Section 156 and 190, punishable with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine.
It is like an additional shield for public servants who already enjoy the protection of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which make prior sanction mandatory before a court can take cognizance of a case. It may even paralyse an impending probe, as no investigating agency can approach a sanctioning authority without gathering any material.
These types of provision destroys the objective of anti-corruption legislation, blocks the truth from surfacing, thwarts independent investigation and forewarns corrupt officers.
Attack On Free Speech :-
Worst thing about this ordinance is until sanction is given by the government, no one can even report the allegations against the government servant concerned. Effectively, the government will tell you if and when you can report the misdeeds of public servants. On the face of it, it is a gross and unconscionable attack on the freedom of speech. It has effectively criminalised reporting of government malfeasance, whether by the press or by individual citizens.
No reasons are offered in the ordinance for such obnoxious provisions. A minister in the Rajasthan government says it was necessary to protect against “frivolous allegations”. The fig leaf of “defamation” falls apart when one notices that even under Section 499 of the IPC, questioning a public servant’s acts (when done in good faith) does not amount to defamation under the law. Under the Rajasthan ordinance, even good faith reporting of even just the facts amounts to an offence under the proposed Section 228-B of the IPC.
This ordinance is a direct attack on the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and there is no way it can be justified as a reasonable restriction for anything.
What needs to be done ?
- Amendments, including those redefining criminal misconduct among public servants so that bona fide decisions by officials do not result in corruption charges, needs to be passed.
- The Lokpal Act needs to be operationalised.
- Centre should enforced a strong body of legislation that punishes the corrupt, protects the honest, and ensures time-bound public services and whistle-blower safety