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1.Irrationalism in city planning (The Hindu)

2.Reading the tea leaves (The Hindu)

3.Rethinking police reform (Live Mint)

1.Irrationalism in city planning (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of irrational city planning of Amaravati. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh has been planned by the state government. It is to built on a 217 sq km open field in Guntur district, is being designed to have 51% of green spaces and 10% of water bodies, with a plan to house some of the most iconic buildings there.
  • The city is being modelled on Singapore, with the master plan being prepared by two Singapore government-appointed consultants. Other international consultants and architects will then be roped in to give it an international flavour.
  • Among the innovative features on the drawing board are navigation canals around the city and connecting an island in the river Krishna. These have been embedded into the design of the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state that was left with no capital after Telangana inherited Hyderabad three years ago amid bitter rivalry.

Amaravati in making

  • Recently the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has reportedly sought further improvements to the design by the international architectural firm Foster + Partners for the Amaravati start-up area. There are two issues in the Amaravati city project –first one is of professional integrity and the other of public interest. The city plan has gone for so many changes.
  • In March 2016, Maki and Associates were declared as winners of an invited competition for the Amaravati capital complex. The competition was adjudged by a jury of professionals but the jury’s report on shortcomings or strengths of the winning design has not been made public.
  • When the design itself was made public, it was harshly criticised on several counts that it was similar to the public buildings at Chandigarh; it was too futuristic; it did not display any Indian characteristics, etc.
  • Maki and Associates claim they had made extensive design changes to meet the new demands, but in spite of that, the government decided to reopen the competition and remove the firm from the project. The principal architect of the firm led the complain to the Council of Architecture (CoA) alleging government’s unfair practice, a lack of transparency and his firm’s ‘fraudulent’ removal from the project.
  • In December, the State appointed the U.K.-based Foster + Partners along with Hafeez Contractor as the new architects for the project. At the same time, it announced that the project would be assisted by three film and art directors of Indian cinema. Involvement of movie art directors were that the three had done extensive research on history, architecture, and culture for their films and their inputs were likely to be of enormous value in giving a native touch to the design.

Criticism

  • Amaravati itself had earlier been criticised as an ‘ultra-mega-world-class-city’ that was being rushed through by destroying thousands of acres of prime farm and forest land. Proper environmental impact assessment had not been done.
  • The frequent and opaque changes, the lack of professionalism and accountability are the major concerns. The real danger in the Amaravati story is that a serious, positive planning process has been turned into a flight of whimsy and that public projects remain captive to state caprice

Way ahead

  • This unscientific and irrational approach to city planning and architecture displays the extent to which the malaise has spread. Public money is being wasted on political hubris and nonsensical notions of public architecture.
  • It is time that all right-thinking citizens, especially professionals, condemn this situation and demand a more rational, transparent, open and fair process in the design and construction.

Question–  In order to meet the challenges faced by urbanisation, it is essential to focus on planning with utmost efficiency. Comment.

2.Reading the tea leaves (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue -Reading the tea leaves, which indicates that 2017 may well be the year which marked the reordering of the Asian strategic landscape. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The Indo-Japanese bilateral cooperation is carried out under the framework of a “special strategic and global partnership”. The better part is that the pace of cooperation between the two countries is indeed impressive and therefore justifies the unique nomenclature.
  • With the recent visit of Japanese prime minister to India were hogged by the commencement of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project (bullet train)- a flagship project of bilateral cooperation, Indian prime minister and his counterpart have succeeded in putting the relationship on the fast track in a number of other ways.

China concerns

  • Since the Cold War ended a quarter century ago, there have been a shift of the geopolitical centre of gravity from the Euro-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific region and the rise of China. The U.S. ‘rebalancing’ announced in 2011 was a belated recognition of these changes, driven home by the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Most of the rivalries are being played out in the crowded geopolitical space of the Indo-Pacific, and Asian economies now account for more than half of global GDP and becoming larger in coming years.
  • China is not just willing but eager to assume leadership and expects other countries to yield space. China has suggested ‘a new type of great power relations’ to the U.S. Its assertiveness in the East China Sea with Japan and in the South China Sea with its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbours sends a signal that while multipolarity may be desirable in a global order, in Asia, China is the predominant power and must be treated as such.
  • Creation of a new set of institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank and the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) indicates that China wants to create a new trading infrastructure that reflects its centrality as the largest trading nation.

A new strategic development 

  • Significant content has been added to the India- Japan relationship since the 2006-07, Malabar naval exercises and a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation was concluded (Japanese participation in the Malabar exercises, suspended because of Chinese protests, was restored in 2015). There has been conclusion of the agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy last year.
  • To deepen strategic understanding, the two sides initiated a 2+2 Dialogue. A memorandum on enhancing defence and technology and the security cooperation was signed and talks on acquiring the amphibious maritime surveillance ShinMaywa US-2i also began in 2013.

Way ahead

  • However to maintain this strategic relationship there is need of stronger economic ties. Therefore, the primary focus during the recent visit has been on economic aspects. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor is more than symbolism, in demonstrating that high-cost Japanese technology is viable in developing countries.
  • Another major initiative is the recently launched Asia-Africa Growth Corridor to build connectivity for which Japan has committed $30 billion and India $10 billion. This adds a critical dimension to the ‘global partnership’ between the two countries. The alignment will reordering of the Asian strategic landscape.

Question–  What is the importance of India in furthering the agenda of Asian century. What are strengths of India in this regard?

3.Rethinking police reform (Live Mint) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of need of police reforms. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Though India after independence had adopted the most inclusive and comprehensive constitution to ensure the welfare of the citizens but the institution of ‘Police’ which is responsible for implementing the law and order was not overhauled.
  • While state police forces are responsible for maintaining law and order and investigating crimes, central forces assist them with intelligence and internal security challenges, but the expenditure on police accounts for only about 3% of the central and state government budgets.
  • The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes and ensure security for people in the country. In a large and populous country like India, police forces need to be well-equipped, in terms of personnel, weaponry, forensic, communication and transport support, to perform their role well. 

According to the A.H.L Fraser Commission (1902)

“The police force is far from efficient, it is defective in training and organizing, it is inadequately supervised, it is generally regarded as corrupt, oppressive and it utterly failed to secure the confidence and cordial cooperation of the people.”

A brief introduction

  • The Schedule Seven to the Indian Constitution lays out 61 items that are the subject of state authority. Public order, police and prisons top this list. Each of the 29 states and seven Union territories has a police force of its own.
  • According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), there are around 15,268 police stations in the country today. These stations are organized under various administrative units like circles, subdivisions, districts, ranges and zones.
  • The Police ranks range from the director general of police (DGP, who typically leads a state), the assistant superintendent of police (ASP), to the constable in a police station. The ASP to DGP ranks are officers of the central cadre of Indian Police Service (IPS).
  • In addition to these state police forces, the Centre manages seven police organizations- Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Railway Protection Force (RPF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Assam Rifles (AR).
  • The latter four guard India’s border with Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar, respectively functions allocated to the Centre under the Constitution. CISF is used to guard critical infrastructure, including airports; the CRPF is used to maintain internal law and order, especially during communal rioting.
  • Though the National Security Guard (NSG) is headed by an IPS officer, charged with counter-terrorism, but it is not considered a “police force” because its core operational capability is provided by the Indian Army. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that was born as an internal affairs department to police corruption among central government employees has additionally evolved to take on cases of special crime “referred” from the states that are more complex or more controversial than usual.

The police reforms

  • Numerous committees and commissions have opined on the issue of police reform. Most of them have approached the problem from a quantity, capacity, capability, training, compensation and benefits point of view.  While all of these factors are material, very few expert groups have spoken about the criminalization of the police force as a direct consequence of the criminalization of politics and the capture of the police as an instrument of implementation.
  • We are at the 21st century, but still dealing with the Police Act of 1861, which is also bound to create a host of issues. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), in its fifth report on public order, tackles the issue of police reform in the most constructive way of any recent discussion on the matter, but the recommendations were unheeded.

ARC RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The ARC recommended that the investigative functions of police be separated from the day-to-day law and order functions and that the superintendence of the government over police be restricted in such a manner that the force retains operational autonomy.
  • The ARC suggested a State Accountability Commission made up of five members of government, including the home minister and chief secretary and five non-partisan eminent citizens. The ARC recommendation resolved the politicization dilemma by delegating operational control to the force and democratizing governance to a commission (the public are the ultimate masters, according to the ARC). Others have argued for even less political control.
  • In India, the political executive has the power of superintendence and control over the police forces to ensure their accountability. However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that this power has been misused, and ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons. Hence, experts have recommended that the scope of the political executive’s power must be limited under law.

Way ahead

  • Police need to have the operational freedom to carry out their responsibilities professionally, and satisfactory working conditions for example, a regulated working hours and promotion opportunities, while being held accountable for poor performance or misuse of power. Codifying checks and balances in respective police Acts will bring assurance against illegal orders by the political establishment to the police.

Question–  Explain the issues that plague policing in India. What are the recommendation given by Supreme court in this regard?