Mitras Analysis of News : 10-03-2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1.What ails India’s civic bodies (Mint)

2.Open Gates (The Hindu)

3.Does ‘age’ encompass mental age (The Hindu)

 

1.What ails India’s civic bodies (Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the problems bring faced by Urban local bodies in their functioning. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • India’s civic bodies are ailing under huge malfunctions and India’s civic problems coupled with huge urbanisation are incomparable.
  • Certain systemic reforms are needed to relieve the cities as to make them efficient engines of growth.

Problems with India’s Urban Local Bodies

  1. Poor Fiscal Viability
  • Most of the problems in ULB(s) are rooted in poor fiscal state of these bodies. Recent strikes by MCD workers in Delhi on non-payment of salaries most aptly documents this point.
  • A research paper by shows that cities which are further from state capitals have lower revenue generation abilities and hence are more dependent on state governments to take care of their expenses. Similarly, newer cities with lower population densities find it difficult to generate revenues. As of 2001, cities in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal relied on the state for nearly three-fourths of their revenue.
  • Moreover, according to the India Habitat III report released by the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty, share of own revenue generated by ULBs is just above 50% of their total revenues.
  • The 14 Finance Commission (FFC) raised the devolution to ULBs by 277% but data shows that only nine states received 100% of the basic grant recommended by the FFC in 2015-16. Nine states received less than half of their allocated basic grants. This suggests that there is a systemic pattern to under-allocation of funds earmarked for ULBs, rather than just underperformance on part of ULBs.
  1. Inexperienced and weak leadership in ULB(s)
  • Municipal corporations in India are under the charge of a municipal commissioner, a bureaucrat appointed by the state government. In addition to the bureaucracy, these bodies also have councillors and a mayor.
  • Various data shows that city corporations see frequent changes in commissioners, so much so that often times a commissioner’s tenure at a corporation is less than one year. What is even more worrying is these officials do not have much experience in urban departments before they are appointed to this important position.
  • With no fixed tenure for the municipal commissioner, experts say they are transferred frequently on the whims and fancies of the state governments. When there is conflict of interest between the commissioner and the state government, the commissioner is transferred to a different place.
  • The commissioner needs to have a fixed tenure so that long-term plans for the city can be worked upon.
  1. Lack of informed citizenry                                                                              
  • Polling figures from latest ULB, Lok Sabha/assembly elections show that ULBs often witness lower turnout of voters than state or national level elections.
  • However, it is also possible that poor management of ULBs at various levels generates cynicism within voters’ minds about the efficacy of their votes.

Way ahead

  • To promote competition among cities for better services, the Union urban development ministry is planning a ‘City Liveability Index’ for all cities based on parameters such as air pollution, open space, student-teacher ratio, etc. Such an index should be rolled out as soon as possible.
  • Political populism plays a great role in wasting of revenue generation capabilities. For example, the Shiv Sena in January promised property tax exemption for residential units up to 500 square feet in Mumbai in an apparent bid to retain power in the municipality. Such a behaviour should be checked by State Election commissions and respective state g
  • Direct Election of Mayors should also be initiated as lack of accountable leadership in Municipal corporations is also responsible for poor status of ULB(s). A private members bill was also initiated in this regard in 2016.

2.Open Gates (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line:   it throws light on the recent judgment by European court of Justice regarding the grant of asylum. (GS II)

 Overview

  • The problem of Refugee migration to European countries has been increasing day by day due to absence of possible solution in foresight regarding the crisis in west Asia.
  • Europe Union countries had considered themselves as harbinger of Human rights but recently Europe’s Top court has granted the permission to the countries themselves to consider the policy regarding asylum.

Recent judgment

  • European Union’s top court giving member-states the right to grant or deny asylum as a part of their domestic policy.
  • In the final judgment, the European Court of Justice has turned away the plea to issue humanitarian visas to people at risk of torture and degrading treatment, consistent with their obligations under the European charter on human rights.
  • The common judicial arbiter for the bloc held that member-states were not obliged to issue visas to people from third countries who had no prior links in Europe.

Plight of refugees

  • Since World War II, world is seeing highest magnitude of refugees desperate to come of Humanitarian catastrophe.
  • According to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced in 2014, a figure that rose sharply in 2015.
  • Moreover, the recent verdict will have huge implications on the fate of refugees who embark upon the dangerous journeys on the high seas may as the may find no realistic alternative in their attempt to flee conflict zones.

UN convention of refugee 1951

  • The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.
  • UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Asylum law in India

  • India has one of the largest refugee populations in South Asia, but is yet to enact a uniform law that addresses the issue of asylum. Neither is the term ‘refugee’ mentioned in any domestic law.
  • India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the Status of Refugees, or its 1967 Protocol that stipulates the rights and services host states must provide refugees.
  • The Passport Act, 1967, The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, The Foreigners Act, 1946, and The Foreigners Order, 1948, are consulted by Indian authorities with regard to the entry of refugees and asylum seekers.
  • India does, however, have an informal refugee regime broadly in line with international instruments. While it has no formal asylum policy, the government decides on granting asylum on an ad hoc and case-to-case basis.

Way ahead

  • Europe has been the preferred destination for migrants due to its geographical proximity and bright future prospects. Though European countries have right to safeguard their domestic interests but misfortune of refugees should also be considered.
  • There should be more humane and responsible asylum and immigration policy on the refugee crisis in spirit of Universal Declaration of human rights 1948.

3.Does ‘age’ encompass mental age (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line:  The definition and determination of maturity should be based on your ‘biological age’ only or need of wider interpretation to review ‘mental age’ as well? (GSII)

 Overview

  • Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and any step regarding their safeguard is crucial for a society.
  • However, sexual assault of children leaves dark scars on their mental and social growth.
  • Various acts such as POCSO have been enacted to safeguard the children but many a times they are afflicted with certain grey areas. Such a lacuna has also been exposed in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012, which defines a ‘child’ as a person under 18 years of age.

Recent case

  • Recently, a case came up before the Supreme Court which concerns a sexual assault victim whose biological age is 40 but whose mental age is six. The court has to decide on whether such a person is a ‘child’ under the POCSO Act.
  • The victim was a woman suffering from cerebral palsy since birth. Her mother wants the criminal case to be transferred to a Special Court designated under the POCSO Act.
  • The Act brackets victims as those whose biological age is under 18 years, while the aspect of mental age has not been considered under the act.
  • Supreme Court has reserved the case for judgment and is determined to interpret the 2012 Act in a verdict. Despite the Preamble and the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the POSCO Act, as also United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, make it abundantly clear that the clear purpose of the Act is to “protect children from offences of sexual assault” and “to secure the best interests of the child”.

POCSO ACT 2012

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
  • The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for trial of offences, keeping the best interest of the child as of paramount importance at every stage of the judicial process. The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.
  • According to act the Central and State Governments should spread awareness through media including the television, radio and the print media at regular intervals to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of this Act.
  • The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Act.

Way ahead

  • The court should respond the concern in a positive way as the extension as just considering the biological age will defeat the very essence of POCSO act.
  • Even SPCR to protect the child rights are not functional in various states. Hence courts should also reprimand the errant states.
Previous Post
Next Post

admin