GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

India Wins Six Elections To UN Economic And Social Council Bodies, Including Influential NGO Committee.

Background

  • India has won six elections to United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) bodies, five of them unanimously.
  • In the polls held on 16th April, 2018, India won places on the executive boards of four UN bodies, three commissions and a committee.
  • India faced an election within the the Asia-Pacific group only for the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Committee and it polled the highest number of votes, receiving 46 votes, followed by Pakistan with 43, while China received 39.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • After that Asia-Pacific vote, India was elected by acclamation in all the six elections by the entire Ecosoc, which comprises all the 193 members of the UN.
  • The NGO committee is considered influential because it scrutinises the NGOs applying for consultative status with Ecosoc and can recommend or block them.
  • India will serve a four-year term on the panel starting January 2019.
  • Another important election was to the Executive Boards of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
  • One election is held for the three and India will serve three-year terms from January 2019 on those executive boards.
  • Separately, India was also elected to a three-year term starting Jnauary 2019 on the Executive Board of UN-Women, which works for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
  • India will start immediately on the Commission on Population and Development and its term will end in September 2021.
  • India will serve a four-year term starting immediately on the Commission for Social Development.
  • On the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, India will serve a three-year term starting January 2019.

Sources- Firstpost.

 

GS Paper II- Polity.

Law Commission Of India Favours Simultaneous Elections.

Background

  • A draft white paper released by the Law Commission of India on 17th April, 2018 recommends holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies, possibly in 2019.
  • It suggests amending the Constitution to realise this objective.
  • In a public notice annexed to the draft, the commission, which is the government’s highest law advisory body, said the white paper would be circulated to constitutional experts, academia, political parties, bureaucrats, students, etc. The commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B.S. Chauhan, says opinions and suggestions should come in by May 8, 2018.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The commission says simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. Dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections. The panel refers to a January 2017 working paper of the NITI Aayog on simultaneous elections.
  • The white paper contains a series of “possible recommendations” of the commission.
  • The first among these is that simultaneous elections may be restored in the nation by amending the Constitution, Representation of the People Act of 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.
  • It recommends that in 2019, the election could be held in phases. In the first phase, it says, elections to the legislatures which are scheduled to go for polls synchronous with the Lok Sabha in 2019 could be held together. The rest of the States could go to elections in proximity with the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.
  • Citing no-confidence motion and premature dissolution of House as major roadblocks to simultaneous elections, the commission says the parties which introduce the no-confidence motion should simultaneously give a suggestion for an alternative government.
  • It even suggests the relaxation of the “rigours” of the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule to prevent a stalemate in the Lok Sabha or Assemblies in case of a hung Parliament or Assembly.
  • The panel says that in case of mid-term elections, the new Lok Sabha or Assembly would only serve the remainder of the term of the previous Lok Sabha/Assembly and not a fresh term of five years.
  • The commission says the Centre should get the Constitutional amendments, if agreed upon, to be ratified by all the States so as to avoid any challenge to them.
  • It also says that the Prime Minister/Chief Minister should be “elected” to lead by the full House like the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Sources- The Hindu.

GS Paper III- Environment.

MoEFCC Releases Details Of National Clean Air Programme.

Background

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) finally released a concept note on the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) on Tuesday, April 17.  The ministry seeks comments from concerned stakeholders by May 17, 2018.
  • The concept note acknowledges that while recent policy interventions like notification of sector-specific emission standards, augmentation of air quality monitoring network, banning the burning of biomass and leapfrogging from BSIV to BSVI for vehicles by April 1, 2020 have resulted in marginal improvements in air quality levels, the need for time-bound initiatives at both city and rural level are absolutely essential to combat the problem of air pollution in our country holistically, thus substantiating the need for the NCAP.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The intended goal of the programme is to meet the annual average air quality standards at all locations in the country in a stipulated timeframe. In order to achieve this, all the 100 non-attainment cities would have to design city-specific action plans with specific timelines for implementation of listed initiatives.
  • The NCAP aspires to overcome the deficits of the ongoing government initiatives targeted towards air pollution control. It lays down a comprehensive strategy framework for enhanced management of air quality. Augmentation of existing air quality monitoring network by increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations, introducing rural monitoring stations, identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network and augmenting capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure PM2.5 concentration, are  integral components of the strategy framework.
  • Devising air quality management plans for 100 non-attainment cities calls for detailed source apportionment (identification of pollution sources) studies for each city. The document stresses the need for taking up these studies in a phased manner. In addition to setting up of an Air Information Centre that would analyse and disseminate monitored data, an Air Quality Forecasting system is also being envisioned. In addition to city-specific source apportionment studies, the NCAP lays down the need for a national-level emission inventory. A technology assessment cell for evaluation of new pollution prevention and control technologies has also been proposed.   
  • The document highlights lack of indigenous studies establishing the correlation between exposure to air pollution and human health. A high-level apex committee and working group has, therefore, been constituted under the Indian Council of Medical Research and the MoEF&CC to overcome this deficit.
  • The NCAP certainly has lofty aspirations for formalising an air quality management system in our country backed by science, technology and data. A budget amounting to Rs 637 crore has been set aside for aiding implementation of the programme. The document lays down specific targets and timelines for each initiative listed under the programme.  

Sources- Down To Earth.