Mitras Analysis of News : 18-04-2017

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1.HIV Bill (The Hindu)

2.The Great Climate Churn (The Hindu)

3.Redefining citizenship (The Hindu)

4.Explained: Referendum in turkey (BBC, Indian express)

 

1.HIV Bill (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the newly passed HIV bill and its implications for the country. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • Parliament had passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017.
  • Now, people living with HIV and AIDS are guaranteed equal rights in medical treatment, admission to educational institutions and jobs. The bill is supposed to strengthened the rights of people infected with HIV.

The bill

  1. The total number of people living with HIV in India is estimated at 21.17 lakhs, whereas around 86000 new HIV infections were reported in 2015, showing 66% decline in new infections from 2000. In 2015 around 68000 people died of AIDS related causes nationally.
  1. The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV-positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.
  1. According to the bill, there will be no discrimination against persons infected with HIV. Whosoever does not adhere to the provisions of the Bill will be penalised. There would also be civil and criminal proceedings against them. Action would be also taken against those who come between the implementation of the provisions of the proposed Bill.
  1. The law provides a broad legislative framework for the response to HIV in India and is the first national HIV law in South Asia.
  1. The legislation prohibits discrimination against people living with, and affected by, HIV in a range of settings, including employment, education, housing and health care, as well as with regard to the holding of public or private office, access to insurance and freedom of movement.
  1. It also bans unfair treatment of people living with and affected by HIV with regard to accessing public facilities, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, public entertainment venues, public facilities and burial grounds.
  1. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.

Critical Analysis and Way ahead

  • There is no denying that it is a good base for an active health rights movement but still many concerns prevail in the proposed bill.
  • The bill passed by Parliament does not guarantee access to anti-retroviral drugs and treatment for opportunistic infections. The law only enjoins the States to provide access “as far as possible”. Hence, it may be the case that the patients struggling with AIDS may be left at the mercy of the state.
  • Conversely, the ART treatment should have been made a right for citizen and a duty on the state. In this way the bill could have been even more encompassing and far-reaching.
  • Goal 3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals provides to “end the epidemic of AIDS” (among others) by 2030. Hence, a rapid scaling up of interventions to prevent new cases and to offer free universal treatment is critical.
  • Publicly funded insurance can easily bring this subset of care-seekers into the overall risk pool. Such a measure is also necessary to make the forward-looking provisions in the new law meaningful, and to provide opportunities for education, skill-building and employment.
  • In this regard, access to insurance for persons with HIV is also an important part of the Bill. Moreover, the penetration of the insurance should be further scaled up as the present numbers are not much inspiring.
  • The legislation empowers those who have contracted the infection in a variety of ways: such as protecting against discrimination in employment, education, health-care services, getting insurance and renting property.
  • It is now for the States to show strong political commitment, and appoint one or more ombudsmen to go into complaints of violations and submit reports as mandated by the law.
  • Here again, State rules should prescribe a reasonable time limit for inquiries into complaints. Evidently, the requirement for the ombudsman to make public the periodic reports on compliance will exert pressure on States to meet their obligations.

Question: Though HIV bill addresses the many impending issues but still it lacks to ensure the safeguard for the people suffering with AIDS. Discuss.

 

2.The Great Climate Churn (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of need of regional and global planning to combat extreme climate events. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • According to ‘Nature’ magazine, there have been unprecedented rates of glacier melts reported both in the Antarctic and the Arctic. Glaciers cover the terrain in both these regions, which have the only permanent ice sheets that still exist on earth today.
  • After enjoying a more or less stable temperature for the last 10,000 years, the earth is now seeing massive change in atmosphere, which has been speed up by anthropogenic activities. Though all the reasons for the temperature fluctuations observed are not yet entirely understood.

Melting Antarctic and arctic

  • The Antarctic ice sheet is 14million sq km in area and it holds a large amount of frozen fresh water. If all the ice over the Antarctic were to melt, sea levels would rise by about 60metres.
  • Antarctica and the Arctic are two very different environments, the former is a continent surrounded by ocean, and the latter is ocean enclosed by land. As a result, sea ice behaves very differently in the two regions; Studies show that globally, the decreases in Arctic sea ice far exceed the increases in Antarctic sea ice.
  • The Larsen Ice Shelf is situated along the northeastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest-warming places on the planet. In the past three decades, two large sections of the ice shelf (Larsen A and B) have collapsed. A third section (Larsen C) seems like it may be on a similar trajectory, with a new iceberg poised to break away soon.

Rising sea levels and India

  • For the last several years, glaciologists have noticed that ice melt in the summer has increased and covers a larger area than previous years. Scientists now realize that a lot of the recent melt has been due to increasing surface melt, in addition to calving or breaking off of chunks of ice.
  • The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.
  • For India, the east coast, especially certain low-lying districts are extremely vulnerable to intensive storms, which then lead to flooding, salt-water intrusion, and loss of land and livelihoods. On the west coast, there will be generally fewer storms; the concern is coastal erosion and flooding from sea level rise. The discussion is not only related to sea level rise and coastal phenomena rather it is more related to economy of the state.

Major causes

  • There are several explanations for melting ice, such as it is affected by the temperature of the water, ocean currents and so on but other factors still not entirely understood, along with various positive feedback mechanisms that can speed up the melting.
  • It has been seen that when large chunks break away from an ice shelf, it speeds up the collapse of the entire shelf. Since this is attached to the rest of the glacier, these processes can increase the speed at which the glacier flows into the ocean.
  • The ice cap helps to cool sea and air temperatures, by reflecting much of the sun’s radiation back into space, and acting as a global cooler when winds and ocean currents swirl over and under it. Soot and dust carried by air from various places, bacteria and algal pigments in the melt water and any other pigments in the glacier, can all reduce the reflection of the sunlight, thus increasing the absorption of heat energy by the ice. This consequently increases ice melt, which then absorbs more solar radiation, thus accelerating a feedback process. The melt water flows into deep shafts or moulins and that then speed up the flow of the glacier.
  • Temperature variations are also other phenomena that have an influence on glacier melt. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when temperatures rise and ice melts, more water flows to the seas from glaciers and ice caps, and ocean water warms and expands in volume. This combination of effects has played the major role in raising average global sea level between four and eight inches in the past hundred years. Temperatures in Northern Greenland have been much warmer and in fact, surface melt has doubled Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise over the period 1992-2011.
  • Oceans are important sinks, or absorption centers, for carbon dioxide, and take up about a third of human-generated CO2.  Data shows that CO2 levels at the ocean surface are rising at about the same rate as atmospheric CO2. Carbon dioxide concentrations have crossed 400ppm in the atmosphere and are the highest they have been in the past 4,00,000 years.

Feedback mechanism

  • The Scientists have speculated for some years that so called feedback mechanisms, by which the warming of one area or type of landscape has knock-on effects for whole ecosystems that could suddenly take hold and change the dynamics of Arctic ice melting from a relatively slow to a fast moving phenomenon with unpredictable and potentially irreversible consequences for global warming.
  • For instance, when sea ice shrinks it leaves areas of dark ocean that absorb more heat than the reflective ice, which in turn causes further shrinkage, and so on in a spiral.

Need of global level efforts – The way ahead

  • Enforcement of the coastal regulation zone, protecting vulnerable districts and the most vulnerable communities which rely on ecosystems and the sea for their livelihoods are areas that need strengthening. Regional agreements related to refugees from climate effects need to be initiated.
  • The global community is well aware that many large and densely populated cities are located along the coast and in low-lying deltas. Protecting the coast is an expensive undertaking and even then dikes, sea walls and similar structures provide only partial protection.
  • Expansion of the use of renewable energy and transformation of our energy system to one that is cleaner and less dependent on coal and other fossil fuels, this will decrease global emissions.
  • The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For this all parties requires to put forward their best efforts through “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.

Question: Threat of global warming is increasing day by day. In the light of recent findings, what should be the move on part of government to curb the global warming?

 

3.Redefining citizenship (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue electoral reform and the need to recognize ‘right to vote’ as constitutional right.(GS paper II)

Overview

  • India is the largest democracy in the world. Elections are the most important and integral part of politics in a democratic system of governance. Democracy can function only upon this faith that elections are free and fair and not manipulated and rigged.
  • In India, with increasing situation likes vote on the basis of caste and rising communalism, criminalization of politics, poll violence, booth capturing, non-serious independent candidates, unemployment, Hence, Electoral Reforms in India are the need of the hour. In democracy the public is most powerful tool and if the public do not vote in favor of dishonest and corrupt politicians and criminals who wish to purchase their votes by money or muscle powers, the democracy will shine in the dark spectrum of criminalized political system.

Recent issue

  • Around the turn of the century, the court increasingly began making decisions addressing the ‘criminalisation of politics’. Early decisions focussed on disclosure and transparent process for ensuring, that candidates declared assets and liabilities, educational qualifications, and criminal antecedents. Yet, it was left to the wisdom of the electorate to decide whom to vote for. Similarly, parties were tasked with determining whether it would be appropriate to field candidates with criminal antecedents.
  • Recent initiatives to reform electoral process raise fundamental questions about the nature of our democracy, and are deeply disquieting for a number of reasons. In the recent case, Supreme Court had requested the government’s views on a PIL seeking to impose a lifetime ban on contesting elections for those sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years. Currently, the ban extends to six years after the completion of a sentence.
  • The proposed change, which is supported by the election commission, would effectively end the electoral career of many prominent political leaders. However the court’s recent decisions have meant that whether the right to vote is a constitutional right or merely a statutory privilege is still a matter of contestation.
  • The court has the power to frame debate and influence the language of argument in ways that perhaps no other institution does, but choice of words by Court like caste-based taxonomy of ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’ in its decisions of 2013, when it endorsed the decision of the Patna High Court observing that candidates with criminal records pollute the electoral process, affect the sanctity of elections and taint democracy. The court’s language is symptomatic of its conception of its own role as a sentinel of democracy seeking to ‘disinfect’ the electoral process.

Absence of constitutional ‘right to vote’

  • Though the article 326 of the Constitution provides for universal adult suffrage, but it does not specifically mention the right to vote, However, Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 prohibits all those who are confined in a prison or are in lawful custody of the police from voting. Moreover, prisoners awaiting trial are also denied this ‘privilege’.
  • Rights that are not explicitly set out in the Constitution, such as the right to privacy, have routinely been impliedly read into the text. But the court has refused to categorically recognize the right to vote as an inalienable constitutional right; frequently holding that it is a privilege that can be taken away as easily as it is granted.
  • The absence of a constitutional right to vote has real consequences, for it makes it easier to impose wide restrictions on who can exercise that right, and the circumstances in which they may do so.  The right to vote and the right to contest elections are fundamental markers of citizenship in a constitutional democracy.
  • The refusal to clearly recognize a constitutional right to vote is the court’s endorsement of the embargo on the voting rights of prisoners.

Way ahead –

  • As Supreme Court, while giving opportunity to have ‘none of the above button’ has mentioned that for democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as representatives of the people for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote.
  • In a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose a sound candidate. This situation palpably tells us the dire need of recognition of right to vote as constitutional right.
  • In nutshell, it would be appropriate to say eradication of three Cs – Cash Corruption and criminality could lead our country towards vibrant polity and democracy, because, “Democracy disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing in the world. A democracy prejudiced, ignorant, superstitions, will land itself in choose.” – M.K. Gandhi

Question: How can “right to vote” be a step in fulfilling the idea of democracy? Comment.

Explained

4.Referendum in turkey (BBC, Indian express)

Introduction

  • A presidential system was proposed in Turkey since 2005. President Erdogen (the incumbent president) was most vocal of the idea to introduce the presidential system.
  • Now, the path is now clear for Turkey to be transformed from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, after a referendum on constitutional reforms proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP) gave the nod for handing sweeping powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Implications of the move

  • The new executive powers that will accrue to Mr. Erdogan if he wins the 2019 elections, a very likely outcome, include the following:
  • The role of prime minister will be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, will be created.
  • The president becomes the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retains ties to a political party.
  • He or she will be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, prepare the budget, choose the majority of senior judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone will be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament will lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it will be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The government and, principally, President Erdogan argue that the reforms streamline decision-making and avoid the unwieldy parliamentary coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past.
  • These changes could herald overwhelming AKP control of state institutions, which in turn could lead to, for example, a purge in the judiciary and the security forces.
  • However, the greatly empowered Mr. Erdogan may do well to design his future policies not only as a reaction to these forces but also as the means to enhance Turkey’s unique effort in reconciling pluralist democracy with political Islam, and Western-style liberalism with populist nationalism.
  • The critics fear the president will use his power to raise an Islamist “pious generation”.

Question: Conversion of Turkey into a presidential form of government signal many prospects. What are the benefits of Presidential form of government over parliamentary form of government?

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