1.Being smart about smart cities mission (The Hindu)
2.Whose privilege? (The Hindu)
3.Explained: The Asia–Africa Growth Corridor
1.Being smart about smart cities mission (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the proposals to make smart cities more meaningful and inclusive. (GS paper III)
- There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people. The conceptualisation of Smart City, therefore, varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents.
- Government has also aimed to develop smart cities under the Smart city project. However, in order to make it a reality, govt. had to focus on the need of data in planning
Smart city mission
- The focus of the smart city mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country.
- There are 10 core infrastructure elements viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient urban mobility and public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.
- The smart solutions under the mission refer to use of technology in such a way that it leads to Smart outcomes. Some examples of smart solutions are as follows:
- E-Governance and Citizen Services:This includes public information and grievance Redressal; Electronic Service Delivery; Citizen Engagement; Citizens as City’s eyes and ears; Video crime monitoring etc.
- Waste Management:This includes waste to energy and fuel; waste to compost; treatment of waste water; Recycling.
- Water Management:Smart meters and management; Leakage identification, prevention and maintenance; water quality monitoring.
- Energy Management:Smart meters and management; renewable source of energy; green buildings.
- Urban mobility:Smart parking; Intelligent traffic management; integrated multi-modal transport.
- The implementation of the Mission at the City level will be done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created for the purpose. The SPV will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects.
Need of data for smart cities
- Any serious attempt at improving the quality of life in cities would depend on how governments approach data. It would be smart, for instance, to use sensors to estimate the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, and create smartphone applications for the public to report on a variety of parameters. Making such data open would enable citizens’ groups to themselves come up with analyses to help city administrators make decisions, boost transparency and make officials accountable.
- There are several international examples now, such as the Array of Things sensors being installed on Chicago streets, which let people download the raw data on air quality, transport, pedestrian movement and standing water.
- Moreover, access to special funding should make it mandatory for all public transport providers city bus corporations, Metro Rail and suburban trains to provide real-time passenger information in the form of open data, an inexpensive global standard that raises both access and efficiency through smartphone applications.
- Making street-level waste management data public would lead to a heat map of the worst sites, compelling managers to solve the problem.
- There is a lot of low-hanging fruit on the road to smartness, and a quick policy approach can tap this quickly. More importantly, the ideology that guides the plan should recognise that the vibrant life of cities depends on variety and enabling environments, rather than a mere technology-led vision.
Question: How government should recast its smart city mission to make it more inclusive and gain-oriented?
2.Whose privilege? (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the recent use of parliamentary privilege by Karnataka legislative assembly. (GS paper II)
- Recently the Karnataka Legislative Assembly had passed an order to imprison editors of two Kannada tabloids for a year with a fine of Rs. 10,000 for breach of privilege enjoyed by an elected representative; the move has sparked widespread criticism.
- While there have been instances of admonition for breach of privilege, this is the first time that imprisonment has been pronounced and approved by the Speaker of the House. It leads to the question, which will prevail in case of conflict between fundamental Rights and powers privileges and immunities of Parliament or the State Legislature.
What is parliamentary privilege?
- Parliamentary privilege refers to rights and immunities enjoyed by Parliament as an institution and MPs in their individual capacity, without which they cannot discharge their functions as entrusted upon them by the Constitution.
- A breach of privilege is a violation of any of the privileges of MPs/Parliament. Among other things, any action ‘casting reflections’ on MPs, parliament or its committees; could be considered breach of privilege. This may include publishing of news items, editorials or statements made in newspaper/magazine/TV interviews or in public speeches.
Breach of Privileges Vs Liberty of Critics?
- The legislature must use the power to punish for contempt or breach of privilege sparingly, invoking it mainly to protect the independence of the House and not to take away the liberty of critics. Legislators are in a position to clarify facts and refute misconceived criticism.
- There are many unsettled questions about the very nature of legislative privileges. The absence of codification gives the House the freedom to decide when and how breach of privilege occurs.
- Although Article 105(3) contains a clear mandate in favour of codifying privileges, Parliament taking cue from the reasoning of the Supreme Court has resolved to leave the privileges uncodified out fear that if privileges were to be codified in the form of a statute, they would be struck down in case of a conflict with Fundamental Rights.
- In 1954 in ‘Searchlight case’ the Editor of a newspaper Searchlight was held guilty of contempt of the Bihar State Legislature when his newspaper carried a report of proceedings expunged by the Speaker of the Bihar Legislature, The editor applied to the Supreme Court seeking an injunction of the contempt proceedings, defending the publication of the report as being protected by the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a). It was argued that right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 would be violated.
- The Court observed that if the editor was to be produced before the Committee of Privileges, the rules framed by the Assembly under Article 208 would constitute a procedure established by law, and therefore rejected the argument that Article 21 could be violated. The Court merely held that Article 19 (1)(a) would not override privileges.
- However the Supreme Court judgment in the Raja Ram Pal case is the first binding change in the law of privileges. The judgment makes Parliamentary privileges subservient to Fundamental Rights on a case to case basis and makes the Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter in determining when a Right has been violated and when it has not.
- Whether the legislature’s power to punish for breach of privilege extends to handing down a prison term is still an open question. But the time has come for the legislature to codify privileges and for the higher judiciary to lay down the limits of penal action for breach of privilege. Several privileges are likely to conflict with Fundamental Rights and these privileges are almost certain to be struck down if codified into a statute.
Question: Why parliamentary immunities have not been codified by the constitution makers? How these uncodified privileges are defeating the purpose?
3.Explained : The Asia–Africa Growth Corridor (GS paper II)
- During the recent annual meeting of the Africa Development Bank at Gandhinagar, Prime Minister announced the launch of India’s latest initiative in Africa, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), in partnership with Japan.
- This initiative is the latest in a series of steps taken by India including the Third India Africa Forum Summit and a number of high level visits to 16 African countries over the last two years, all aimed to boost ties with the continent.
- The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor highlights the growing importance of Africa in Indian foreign policy and also signals India’s willingness to partner with like-minded countries, such as Japan, in this region.
- India’s historical ties with this region are well known. Economic engagement with African countries has increased in the last two decades with a large number of public and private sector companies from India investing in Africa. Trade has seen a five-fold increase from USD 11.9 billion in 2005-2006 to 56.7 billion in 2015-16.
- India engages with African countries at three levels: bilateral, regional and multilateral. Multilateral engagement was launched with the first India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in 2008.
- The third IAFS hosted by the Indian government in 2015 revealed the agenda that would help to empower Africans and bring Africa and India closer in the future. During the summit, India pledged USD 10 billion in concessional lines of credit to African countries.
Japan in Africa
- Japan also has a long standing relationship with African countries. The main feature of Japan’s Africa policy is its support for African “ownership”.
- The most important Japanese initiative in Africa is the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which was set up in 1993 to promote Africa’s development and security through multilateral cooperation.
- To some extent, TICAD refocused the world’s attention on Africa. It was launched at a time when, following the end of the Cold War, Western donors had reduced their economic assistance to Africa and did not consider the region to be strategically important.
- India and Japan institutionalised a dialogue on Africa in 2010. Since then, they have been exploring the possibilities of cooperation in Africa’s socio- economic development.
- However, it was only during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan in November 2016 that the idea of the two countries promoting a growth corridor between Asia and Africa was crystallised.
- During the Africa Development Bank meeting, India unveiled the Vision Document of the Asian Africa Growth Corridor. The vision document was prepared jointly by Indian and Japanese think tanks, i.e. Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries (RIS), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and Institute for Development Economics – Japan External Trade Organisation (IDE-JETRO), in consultation with other think tanks in Asia and Africa.
- The main objective of the corridor is to enhance growth and connectivity between Asia and Africa. The corridor will focus on four areas: Development Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Skills, and People-to-People Partnership. Agriculture, health, technology, and disaster management have been identified as the main areas of development cooperation.
- According to the vision document, AAGC will focus on enhancing skills and research and development capacities in Africa. It will also strive to develop institutional, industrial and transport infrastructure in the Asia -Africa region. The corridor will facilitate greater people-to-people exchanges amongst the participating countries.
Question: What are the prospects or trilateral friendship between India, Japan and Africa for the prosperity of the region?