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1.Enabling a law (The Hindu)

2.Game for talks (The Hindu)

 

1.Enabling a law (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the Supreme Court’s direction to the governments with timeline to ensure full access for the disabled. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • People with a disability form around 2.21% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census. Though they have had a law for two decades to enable their full participation in society, but governments have done little to realise those guarantees.
  • Recently the Supreme Court has come with a decision for the rights of the disabled, with a direction to the Central and State governments to provide full access to public facilities, such as buildings and transport, within stipulated deadlines is a welcome step.

Supreme Court’s order

  • The Supreme Court order came in response to a public interest petition filed by a visually handicapped activist, which led the court to issue a series of orders- that all government buildings should be made accessible by June 2019; half of all government buildings in the capital cities should meet accessibility norms by December this year; the Railways should present a report in three months from December 15 on implementing station facilities; 10% of government public transport must be fully accessible by March 2018; and advisory boards should be formed by the States and Union Territories in three months.
  • The court’s directions should be welcomed by the government and service providers as an opportunity to steer policy and practice towards a universal and humane system. For too long, planners and designers have built infrastructure for use only by able-bodied individuals, ignoring the aspirations of those with disabilities, and the letter of the law.
  • For the successful implementation government need to harness the power of newer technologies, for example- Geolocation, it enables targeted provision of services. It is eminently feasible, for instance, to aggregate the travel requirements of disabled people with the help of information technology and smartphones, and provide affordable shared transport using accessible vehicles.
  • Need to give emphasis to schemes like smart cities and upgraded urban facilities, and start-up ideas. Also as Railway stations and access to train carriages continue to pose hurdles for not just the disabled, but even elderly travellers. The Railways should embark on an urgent programme to retrofit all stations, and try simple solutions such as portable step ladders to help board and exit trains, since level boarding is not possible in most places.

Way ahead

  • Political will to change the design of public facilities and stick to professional codes are need of an hour. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 should get highest priority, the act also fulfils the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory. The Law can be a game changer for the millions of disabled citizens of India and will help move the discourse away from charity to one that is rights based with provisions to enforce implementation.

Question– Explain about Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016, and analyse how with this new law, the Indian disability movement has been catapulted onto the next level.

 

2.Game for talks (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue on the resumption of dialogue between the two Korean nations. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Recently North Korea agreed to hold official talks with the South, the first in more than two years, hours after the United States and South Korea delayed a military exercise. North Korea has accepted the South’s proposal that the two Koreas hold the negotiations, the last time the two Koreas engaged in official talks was in December 2015.

Assessment

  • The meeting will take place at the border truce village of Panmunjom where officials from both sides are expected to discuss the Winter Olympics, to be held in the South next month, and other inter-Korean relations. The prospect of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea holds out the hope of denuclearisation on the Peninsula.
  • Lending the move diplomatic heft is the U.S.’s consent to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to delay the controversial joint military exercises between the two allies. These annual operations have traditionally caused consternation in Pyongyang.
  • The significance of the U.S. decision can also be seen in the context of Beijing’s suggestion for a freeze on joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul in exchange for a halt to Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
  • The demand for this added impetus ever since Seoul launched the U.S.-backed Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, raising fears that its radars could snoop on Chinese security infrastructure.
  • North Korea  sees that recognition of his country as a nuclear power as a vantage point from where he could negotiate a roll-back of crippling international sanctions and a possible reconciliation with Washington.
  • North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches and nuclear explosions have raised global alarm over the region’s safety for travel and tourism, not to mention security during the Games.  North Korean leader Kim Jong-un opened the way for talks with South Korea in a New Year’s Day speech in which he called for reduced tensions and flagged the North’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics. It the most effective means of allaying those apprehensions is to confirm the participation of North Korean athletes.
  • The deferment of the joint military exercises with the U.S. lends further credibility to Mr. Moon’s overtures to the North, as much as it assuages Chinese concerns. Beijing had imposed an unofficial blockade on South Korean trade, tourism and entertainment following the THAAD missile installation last year.
  • India’s strident condemnations of North Korean belligerence follow a string of anti-Pyongyang actions. Also India aligned with United Nations (UN) stipulations by banning all trade with North Korea, with the exception of shipments of food and medicine. This decision brought an abrupt end to a decade of growth in India-North Korea trade links.
  • As India and North Korea have a long history of trade links and cordial diplomatic ties, India’s implementation of UN sanctions against Pyongyang could slow the progress of North Korea’s ballistic missile program and weaken its economy.
  • In addition, India’s policy shift on North Korea will help in strengthen India’s relationships with South Korea and the United States, increasing New Delhi’s diplomatic profile and access to foreign investment.
  • India and the United States are uniquely compatible partners against North Korean aggression, as both countries have serious concerns about nuclear proliferation emanating from Pyongyang. If India can successfully contribute to the containment of North Korean aggression, then its diplomatic stature in the Asia-Pacific region will increase significantly, strengthening New Delhi’s long-term aspirations of being a viable competitor with China for regional influence.

Way ahead

  • Though there are many obstacles on this ambitious path. But a detente between neighbours is a possibility few leaders can ignore. Kim also expressed a desire for a peaceful resolution to the decades-old conflict with South Korea. The Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, meaning the two nations technically have been at war since then. Olympics would “provide a very good opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation.”

Question – Critically analyse the importance of relations between two Korean nations for India.