Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mission Indradhanush


Mission Indradhanush was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on December 25,
2014. Indradhanush mission has been adopted to achieve target of full immunisation of unvaccinated
subjects from seven diseases by 2020.
Specifications of Indradhanush Mission:
* Mission’s aims is to immunize all children against seven vaccine preventable diseases viz.
diphtheria, tuberculosis, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, polio and measles by 2020.
* The mission will be applied on the line of success of the polio programme.
* The mission will cover 201 identified districts in the first phase while, 297 will be covered
under second phase in the year 2015 through improved routine of immunization.
* Out of 201 districts, 82 districts are from four states of UP, Rajasthan Bihar& Madhya
Pradesh which are nearly 25% of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India.
* Aim is to accelerate the immunization process by covering 5% of un-vaccinated children per
annum.
* “Catch-up” campaign will be practiced to cover all the children who have been left out or
missed out for immunization.
* With intensive planning and monitoring of these campaigns four special vaccination
campaigns will be conducted between April and July 2015.
* Technical support for Mission by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other donor
partners.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act has tried to undo the historic injustice done to the forest dweller and tribals. It recognizes the customary right of tribal over the forest land. But this Progressive legislation is also suffering from implementation deficit.
The reasons for non-implementation or slow implementation are: 
1. State government,due to lack of political will, have deliberately delayed the notification of rules and regulation.
2. The forest bureaucracy’s non-responsive attitude. They have vested interest in
non-implementation and they don’t want to lose their hold.
3. The process of reorganization of rights is intensive involving documentation by
gram sabha, their subsequent approval by higher authorities.
4. The absence of documentary proof and lack of reliable data (maps, ownership records, residence proofs etc) further complicated the process of recognition of customary ownership rights.
5. While Individual rights have been recognized in many places, but process of
granting community ownership rights is very slow. This defeats the whole
purpose of act.
To ensure the effective implementation of FRA, following steps should be taken: 
1. Central government should set clear targets and their attainment should be incentivised by fiscal incentives.
2. The upgradation of technology including digitalized mapping, GIS to map area ( in decision making process as well as in monitoring) etc can speed up the process.
2. Capacity building of Gram Sabha with necessary technical help should be provided by Central government or Civil Society organizations.
3. Reform in Forest Bureaucracy to make them responsive and breaking the contractor forest official nexus is required. Use of ICT in decision making to make process transparent is required.
4. Granting of community Ownership should be prioritized by notifying guidelines on same.
Political will combined with responsive and empathetic approach to implementation can ensure effective implementation of FRA.

Solid waste Management

Solid waste consists of everyday items discarded by the people. It does not include electronic or medical wastes. With urbanisation and increase in population, solid waste generated is bound to grow. The governments vision of creating smart cities and rejuvenating existing cities and also providing urban services in rural areas mean that solid waste generated in India will grow tremendously.
Solid waste has economic, environmental, social and health consequences. Environmentally, poor handling of solid waste resukts in contamination of ground water, reduces soil fertility, polluted water bodies and indiscriminate incineration results in air pollution and release of green house gases. These environmental concerns result in health consequences especially for the vulnerable and poor sections who are more exposed to this problem. Health issues increase the out of pocket expenditure of the people and has detrimental effect on their social security.
There are different models for solid waste management. South Africa outsources the work to private players and makes them accountable through concrete data analysis mechanism. Scandinavian countries are known for their expertise in producing huge amounts of energy from solid waste. In India, municipal bodies are responsible for managing the waste. Waste to energy is still in nascent stages. Landfill and incineration are major methods. Recycling has not been encouraged sufficiently. Moreover, an informal economy thrives in the recycling business of solid waste.
Presently, the policy guidelines for solid waste management are haphazardous, over lapping and lack clarity. No clear delineation of work is done. Accountability mechanism are minimal. Economic analysis of solid waste management is not done and as a result most of the burden borne by the municipal bodies. Instead polluter pays principle should be adopted. Emphasis on recycling through formalising the informal sector. Building awareness among people. The swatch Bharat abhiyan is a right move in this direction and this has to be channeled into effective solid waste management.

Forest Rights Act

On June 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) to ensure that all States implement the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and grant land rights to tribals over the next two months. Mr. Modi’s announcement is welcome, but nevertheless surprising, as his government has come under scathing criticism for removing community consent clauses for land acquisition in the ill-conceived land ordinance bill.
Nearly 250 million people live in and around forests in India, of which the estimated indigenous Adivasi or tribal population stands at about 100 million. To put these numbers in perspective, if considered a nation by themselves, they would form the 13th largest country in the world, even though they cannot be depicted as representing any singular, monolithic culture. For this population, there cannot be any better news than the government’s willingness to recognise their customary rights and undo the historical injustice they have faced, as outlined in the FRA.
The directive to achieve this historical transformation in the next two months, however, shows a lack of understanding of what the process entails, and the factors that have prevented the proper implementation of the FRA since its passage in 2006.
One, the process of documenting communities’ claims under the FRA is intensive — rough maps of community and individual claims are prepared democratically by Gram Sabhas. These are then verified on the ground with annotated evidence, before being submitted to relevant authorities. The Gram Sabha is treated as a public authority under the FRA, and if the higher authorities under the law reject its claims, substantive reasons have to be provided for doing so. This exhaustive process is why the official diktat to implement the FRA so quickly lacks any understanding about the extent of the task and labour involved.
Second, the main factor inhibiting the FRA’s full implementation is the reluctance of the forest bureaucracy to give up control. The forest bureaucracy has misinterpreted the FRA as an instrument to regularise encroachment. This is seen in its emphasis on recognising individual claims while ignoring collective claims — Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights as promised under the FRA — by tribal communities. To date, the total amount of land where rights have been recognised under the FRA is just 3.13 million hectares, mostly under claims for individual occupancy rights.
Collective ownership

This deliberately narrow interpretation of the FRA is against the letter and spirit of the law, which seeks to undo historical injustices and return the forests to community jurisdiction. It also contradicts the estimates for forest area collectively used by tribal and other forest communities that are provided by government agencies themselves. The most important of these estimates is from the State of Forest Report 1999, in which the Forest Survey of India, using data from the 1991 Census, identified 32.198 million hectares of forest land inside revenue village boundaries. The inclusion of forest lands within revenue village boundaries reflects and legitimises the use, interaction and dependence of the village community on such forests.
Thus, all forest lands within revenue village boundaries would be eligible for recognition as community forest resources (CFR) under the FRA, and brought under the jurisdiction of Gram Sabhas. It should be noted that these numbers are highly conservative, as the data leaves out the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim, and ignores the forests collectively used by communities outside the revenue boundaries of their villages.
While these facts indicate a remarkably high potential for recognition of CFR rights, the actual recognition of these rights remains tragically low. The MoTA’s February 2015 status report indicates that the total area reported to be recognised under CFR is only 73,000 hectares, less than one-five hundredth of the CFR potential in the country.
This does not, however, mean that progress cannot be accelerated.
The government can start by recognising the role played in the FRA’s meagre implementation by the forest bureaucracy’s resistance as well as the acute lack of awareness of FRA’s community rights provisions in State administrations and forest communities. In almost all States, the Forest Department has either appropriated or been given effective control over the FRA’s rights recognition process. This has created a situation where the officials controlling the implementation of the law often have the strongest interest in its non-implementation, especially the community forest rights provisions, which dilute or challenge the powers of the forest department. Evidence from different States clearly indicates the forest bureaucracy’s efforts to stall or subvert the CFR provisions of the FRA.
If the government is serious about implementing the FRA, it should confront the forest bureaucracy and make it clear that any obstruction on their part is unacceptable. The little progress that has been made in implementation so far has been due to close coordination between tribal departments, district administrations and civil society.
There is a clear need to strengthen the nodal tribal departments, provide clear instructions to the State and district administrations, and encourage civil society actors. Without a strong political will, this historical transformation is unlikely to take place.
The Prime Minister has taken the first step. The strides that come after will need a strong follow-up with a dose of realism.
(Arvind Khare is executive director of the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global coalition engaged in forest and land policy reform across the world, including India.)
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/lets-not-miss-the-wood/article7358626.ece

Friday, June 26, 2015

The narrowing Persian gulf | Ashok K. Mehta

Just days before a final nuclear deal deadline on June 30, Iranian officials in Tehran — where I was attending a conference — were excited that their moral stance renouncing nuclear weapons capability would now be appreciated. With portraits of the Ayatollahs, Khamenei and Khomeini, towering over him, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, declared that Iran would not “hand over its secrets” to others under any additional protocol or any other treaty. Mr. Rouhani who completed two years as President in mid-June, added that while sanctions had had their effect, they had not succeeded in making Iran surrender. He vowed to have the sanctions removed by the UN Security Council.
The Defence Minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, insisted that the nuclear deal would not be signed at any price but with “dignity and power”. The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, said that Iran would not provide access to military sites and that nuclear fuel would be produced in Iran.
Stances to audiences

It is clear that assurances are being given by Iranian leaders to the country that the contents of the final deal would not be a sell out but have the best national interests in mind. While hardliners have been asked to keep quiet, a fiat has been issued not to publicly discuss the pros and cons of the nuclear deal. An air of optimism can be gauged from the hard bargaining with visiting foreign delegations who are now queuing up for contracts in anticipation of the sanctions being lifted.
The Iranian Ambassador to India, Gholamreza Ansari, recently said in New Delhi that Iran had not gone for negotiations due to sanctions. “We have always been ready for talks in 2003 and 2010 and are committed to the Non Proliferation Treaty,” was his line.
Earlier this month in New York at the 2015 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, had said: “The United States and our P5plus One partners have come together with Iran around the series of parameters that if finalised and implemented will close off all of Iran’s possible pathways to the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon and give the international community the confidence that it needs to know that Iran’s nuclear programme is indeed exclusively peaceful.”
Yet, despite the air of confidence, one has to look at the ground realities and see how protracted sanctions and a freezing of assets have damaged the Iranian economy. Oil exports have halved since 2012. Coupled with a decline in oil prices and a high cost of production of oil when compared with Saudi Arabia, the GDP has contracted from $568 billion to $406 billion. The GDP growth rate, which was negative, has picked up and is now between 1 and 2 per cent. Inflation has declined from 35 per cent to 25 per cent. According to the Tehran Times, India dropped crude imports to zero in March 2015, for the first time in a decade, and under pressure from the United States as a push for the Interim Framework Agreement of April 2, 2015 at Lausanne. Sanctions have worked in slowing but not halting Iran’s nuclear capability.
Sticking points

According to the Iranians, the three sticking points are still: timings of sanction relief; access and verification of compliance and a mechanism for restoring sanctions in the event of a breach. Additional points and issues are the number of centrifuges to be kept at Fordow, an invulnerable military facility and the site of Iran’s second pilot enrichment plant, and the amount of uranium permitted for enrichment for research and development. There are also differences within P5+1, and between Russia and China and other P5 members. The P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China, facilitated by the European Union) has been engaged in serious and substantive negotiations with Iran with the goal of reaching a verifiable diplomatic resolution that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. For example, Russia and China do not favour an automatic, snap-back mechanism for non-compliance. However, the mother of all differences is within the U.S.: between the Republican Party-dominated U.S. Congress and U.S. President Barack Obama. This has been influenced by the position taken by the staunch U.S. ally and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The U.S. does not want and will not let Iran have the nuclear bomb while Israel insists that it should not even have the capability to make one. But for the present, Israel’s stand does not count. What the eventual nuclear deal will achieve if all conditions are met is that Iran’s capability to make a bomb will be extended from the current 2-3 months to 12 months. The deal is in arresting Iran’s enrichment capability so as to fix Iran’s breakout time to 12 months.
Hurdles to cross

Assuming that the Iranians accept the condition for their recessed nuclear capabilities for civilian use, with a window open for reverting to the bomb path at some cost, and further that they agree to play by the rules of the game, there still is the hurdle of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 passed by the U.S. Congress. This is heavily influenced by the Zionist lobby and Republicans who control Congress. There is a chance they may block the deal. In addition to all this, Mr. Obama is concerned with his political legacy. He knows that a Democrat President, Jimmy Carter lost Iran; he wants to be the Democrat who brought it back on board.
It is reasonable to predict that other members of P5+1 may simply use the U.S. Congressional attempt to block the nuclear deal with Iran as a pretext to enter into independent agreements with Iran to lift sanctions. This may even dissuade the U.S. Congress from doing so. It has consistently baulked at a rapprochement with Iran. In 2003, Tehran was close to a deal with the Europeans but the U.S. Congress spiked it. Iran could have been capped with 1,000 centrifuges against the present 19,000 centrifuges. In 2010, the Brazil-Turkey plan of taking away Iran’s uranium for enrichment in France or Germany was also stymied by the U.S. Congress.
Michael Krepon, the co-founder/senior associate of the Stimson Center, Washington, has said that the deal will weaken global norms for non-proliferation but U.S. Congress killing a deal that constrains Iran will only lead to worse consequences for proliferation. A rejection by the U.S. Congress will lead to an expulsion of inspectors, increase enrichment and possible air strikes.
Impact on West Asia

If the deal breaks up and Iran returns to its nuclear weapons programme, it will have a cascading effect on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. The spread of enrichment plans without safeguards in West Asia will spell doom for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. With the Islamic State crawling around, it also poses a major risk for nuclear terrorism. Until last year, Saudi Arabia was cocksure that Pakistan would lend a couple of nuclear bombs to it. The former Saudi Arabian chief of intelligence, Prince Turki Bin Faisal Al Saud, recently said in South Korea: “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have too.” After events in Yemen, Islamabad may not be in a mood to oblige.
There are avid votaries of the military option in Israel and the U.S. But they are divided over the feasibility of unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel’s former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan says the military option is unviable and catastrophic, while the former Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, says the military option is on the table. As a regular visitor to Israel, I know discretion in Tel Aviv is increasingly becoming the better part of valour. Incredible as it may sound, at one time, the thinking in the U.S. was that living with a nuclear Iran was better than a military option to denuclearise it. It planned to cap Tehran’s nuclear capability after its tests — no weaponisation, no deployment.
In 2003, U.S. President George Bush had a super majority of 771 votes in both Houses for the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Obama does not want to forward the nuclear deal in the works in Geneva to the U.S. Congress. He wants to use his presidential powers to ratify it; 59 per cent of Americans are for the deal. If it sails through, it would mark the triumph of diplomacy over the use of military belligerence. It will not just be a nuclear deal but will have wider implications for the world in the form of a more normal relationship between the U.S. and Iran after nearly four and a half decades of hostility. India will also be a beneficiary.
The grapevine in Tehran was that the nuclear deal may miss the June 30 deadline but will be stitched up in an extra week or two after settling the outstanding sticking points. We have to wait and watch. 

(Gen. Ashok K. Mehta is the convener of an India-Pakistan and India-Afghanistan Track II process.)

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-narrowing-persian-gulf/article7354682.ece 

TOBI

Tools for brain computer interaction is a project initiated by European union which will make the life of disabled people easy and will help in rehabilitation process of disabled people like who have motor problems . this tobi project have electrodes that will be given to patient to hold that will then monitor the brain activity without actually interfering with brain electrical signal and will ten interact with computer that will inturn send signal of activity to motor control in initiate voluntary movement like in case of a paralysed limb thus controlling and restoring motor or muscle activities of such person .
This is a non invasive technique and is based on electroencephalogram technique

मैंने पन्नो को जुड़-जुड़ मजबूत होते देखा है,


मैंने पन्नो को जुड़-जुड़ मजबूत होते देखा है,
इतना मजबूत की तुम फाड़ नहीं सकते चाह के भी
हाँ, निकाल सकते हो एक-एक कर
या काट सकते हो कुछ एक.
लेकिन बीच से पकड़ मरोड़ना भी मुश्किल होता है,
फाड़ना तो दूर रहा.

जब पन्ने बनते हैं मिल किताब
मैंने उन्हें मजबूत होते देखा है.

उतना,
कि जितना सरकारों ने नहीं सोचा होगा.
कि चंद पन्ने स्याही से मिल किताब बनेंगे
और सरकारें गिरा देंगे.

उतना,
कि चंद पन्ने स्याही से मिल इतिहास लिखेंगे
और कुकृत्य पीढ़ियों को बता देंगे.

उतना,
कि पुस्तकालय जला देने के बावजूद
पन्नों के सीने पे लिखा सच कभी नहीं मिटाया जा सका.

उतना,
कि इक सीने की आग भड़का
कई तक पहुँचाया
और क्रांति ला दी.

मैंने पन्नो को जुड़-जुड़ मजबूत होते देखा है, किताब बनते देखा है.
तुम कब मिल किताब बनोगे, कॉमरेड?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

National Mission of Food Processing

National Mission of Food Processing (NMFP) was a centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) introduced in 2012. The mission was to promote food processing industries in India by providing infrastructural support and 75% financial cost to the state governments.
Objective:
-The objective of the NMFP is-
1. to assist state governments in setting up infrastructure for food processing industries.
2. to spread the message about food processing and thus help in enhancing agricultural productivity.
3. to promote skill development for post-harvest and food processing industries.
4. to assist MSME in setting up Food processing units in terms of capital/technology/skill etc
5. to ensure and enhance food safety laws.
Performance:
-NMFP has performed very well within the last few years. This is evident from the fact that investors are still ready to invest in food processing units.
-Currently, the central government has decided to de-link the project and let the state government run it on its own. This led the central government to stop giving existing 75% fund to the state government.
-The state government should now focus to use the 10% extra revenue sharing given by the central government, as per the fourteenth Finance commission recommendations in funding the NMFP.
-the food processing industry in India is a rising and promising industry with investors ready to pump in money. This project should not be affected by the withdrawal of central government’s share in it. Instead state government should use this opportunity to mould the project according to its own needs and help increase farmers productivity.

Foreign Service must remain elitist

Whether at the time of uncertainty over foreign policy before the Lok Sabha elections, or after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reinvigoration of foreign policy, foreign service reforms have focussed on expansion, lateral entry of officers and general dilution of the service’s elitist character. But no attention is given to the fact that the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is already a shadow of its former self, and does not appeal to civil service aspirants. Most of those who join the IFS are those who did not qualify for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). If IFS has to perform effectively, its elitism should be preserved, its attractiveness enhanced, and it should be brought to the centre of international relations as it was originally intended to be.
Partners in foreign policy
Nobody disputes the academic Amitabh Mattoo’s argument that “India’s foreign policy must be seen as a shared partnership across departments within the government of India, and academia and think tanks outside the traditional corridors of power” (“A new foreign policy agenda”, The Hindu, April 8, 2014). But the answer is not to merge the various partners while destroying the identity of each, but to allow each of them to develop in their own spheres and provide inputs to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). No one seems to suggest that the IAS and Indian Police Service should be expanded through lateral entry to improve their performance. The logic of this argument for the IFS seems to defy the need to preserve a specialised and professional foreign service. IFS, it should be noted, is no less professional or specialised than the other services.
Foreign policy is framed by various departments of the government, academia, think tanks and the media. They should all have their own defined roles in drafting foreign policy and must remain independent of each other. The MEA should not absorb them into a monolithic institution that has no diversity. Think tanks and the media should shape foreign policy from outside rather than from within the government. Is the right remedy to recruit media experts into the IFS in order to get their inputs on foreign policy? Would they fit into the bureaucratic milieu with its hierarchical and political constraints?
The usual lament is that the IFS is smaller (900 officers) than Chinese (4,000) and American (20,000) diplomatic services. This number is insufficient to meet the requirements of our 120 missions and 49 consulates. It is a fact that India started off with more missions than it could manage. It is not easy or politically correct to close down missions once they have begun; India, therefore, maintains them with a skeletal staff in marginal posts. Its larger missions are well-endowed and it does not need to be envious of bigger missions maintained by the U.S. or China. The right mix of need and affordability must determine the numbers. The information revolution should lead to a reduction, rather than an increase, in the number of missions abroad. The size of the service should not by itself detract from the efficiency of diplomacy.
Those who argue for expansion and lateral entry seem unaware of the fact that in most of India’s important missions, the IFS is in a minority, as it is staffed by officers of other Ministries. Many Ministries have preserved positions in the name of specialisation, but most of them are IAS officers, who may have been recruited specifically for assignments abroad. They may not even have gained experience in the concerned Ministries before being posted abroad. When there is such a practice, there should be no need to induct them into the foreign service itself. Moreover, Ministries such as Commerce, Finance, Industry, Environment, Science and Technology, Atomic Energy, Space and the Cabinet Secretariat have officers who specialise in various international negotiations. The missions are merely asked to service these delegations; even the heads of mission receive only a courtesy call and a cursory report. These officers function, in effect, as diplomats, and they should be added to the strength of the IFS when functional requirements are taken into account. In other words, we have more diplomats in action internationally than the strength of the IFS indicates.
If officers who claim their seniority on the basis of their services in totally unrelated areas enter the IFS laterally, this would only dilute the service’s quality. Past experience has shown that such entrants do not leave the service after a term or two, but remain to claim higher positions, spending their whole careers in diplomacy. If there is a need to induct officers from outside, the procedures available should be used rather than induct those who had once spurned the IFS. The expectations of advancement in the IFS should not be belied.
The MEA has already begun to recruit more officers every year, and that is the only way that such a specialised service should be expanded. If necessary, there are retired officers with proven ability, to fill the gaps without claiming high positions and salaries.
Reforms needed
The suggestion here is not that reform of the diplomatic service is unnecessary. First, it should be made more attractive so that the best candidates are chosen. Like Jawaharlal Nehru did, the aptitude and readiness of the selected candidates should be ascertained before they are chosen. It is patently wrong to take in officers who qualify without English proficiency. No amount of language training after entry into the service would equip them for the rigours of the work abroad. The recruitment of a large number of doctors and engineers is by no means negative, particularly in the context of the growth of technology. Some of India’s best diplomats have come from the medical profession. But we should not lose sight of the recent trend in management to deploy more graduates of social sciences and humanities. Training should be constantly revamped to equip officers to deal with different regions.
The present practice of posting on an ad hoc basis should cease. Officers should develop expertise in countries and regions. Multilateral postings should not be meant for rotational blessings, but for those who have the talent and experience. Instead of rotating officers so that they retire comfortably, we should give them other incentives to stay in tough assignments. Those in difficult places must be compensated financially. Postings, an art at present, should be made a science, with a clear criteria. There should be no vagaries of political influence or acceptability.
The real shortage of officers is not in missions abroad, but at the headquarters. Many heads of divisions cover whole continents with very little support. Temporary deputation of officers from various disciplines can strengthen the headquarters till we have a sufficient number of IFS officers to return. The style of the present Prime Minister seems to be to rely on a small number of people to work intensively on issues; this method could be developed into a system.
The role and relevance of the policy planning and historical divisions are often exaggerated. Policy planning cannot be done in a vacuum; it is the territorial divisions which can help formulate policy. The historical division should be a service unit, helping policymakers, as it is functioning right now. Nothing prevents the Ministry from drawing on the experience and wisdom of people from other fields, without absorbing them into the Ministry.
Many youngsters who aspire to the IFS have begun to believe that it really does not call the shots in foreign policymaking, as decision-making has passed on to the technical Ministries. They believe that the MEA has been reduced to a post office. Unless this impression is removed by concrete action, real talent cannot be attracted to the Videsh Bhawan. Foreign services are elitist in most countries, and India should not fritter away its strengths by diluting its specialised and professional character.

(T.P. Sreenivasan is an IFS officer of the 1967 batch. He is former Ambassador of India and Governor for India of the IAEA.)

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/foreign-service-must-remain-elitist/article7351632.ece

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

आखिरी कश


तुम वो सिगरेट हो जिसका बस आखिरी कश बचा है. ये कश भरना... तुम्हें ख़त्म करना है. लबों से दूर करना है... और कश न भरना तुम्हें जलते छोड़ देना है... किसी अधूरी कहानी की तरह. वो कश है जिसे भर लूँ तो दूर जाऊं और न भरूं तो तुम्हें अधूरा छोड़ जाऊं. तुम मेरी सिगरेट और उसका आखिरी कश....

कश न भरना - खुद को प्यासा छोड़ देना... कश भरना - खुद अधूरा होना....


National Food Security Act (NFSA)

National Food Security Act (NFSA) was passed by the parliament to ensure two-third of India gets food at a subsidised rate. The recent Public Distribution System (PDS) Order is seen by some analysts to curtail the provisions of the act.
-The recent PDS order notifies three things- Phasing out of Antyodya Anna Yojana (AAY), count of beneficiary to be determined by decadal census list and limiting the benefits to the citizens.
Implications:
-By adding no new beneficiary houses in the AAY schemes, government is trying to phase out the programme slowly. This would let many ‘poorest of the poor’ families not to be included in the future list.
-The count of the beneficiaries would now be dependent upon census figure and not on the population estimates of the Registrar. This would not let the state government to revise the beneficiaries on yearly basis. Thus a new beneficiary can be added only after a decade.
-The most impacting of all the three orders is to limit the benefits to the citizens, and not to the residents. This would make all the Indian residents who has not got the citizenship out of the ambit of the biggest nutritional legislation. It would also let all the migrant not to avail the benefit of NFSA.
-There is a continuous debate on the continuity of the NFSA after new government took power this year. The focus should not be on phasing out the act but on implementing it fully.


Two-speed regionalism

Last week’s signing of a motor vehicle agreement by the transport ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal marks a big breakthrough in the evolution of South Asian regionalism. Once the necessary steps are taken to implement the agreement over the next six months, cross-border movement of goods and people will get a lot easier in the eastern subcontinent. The agreement marks the birth of a new framework, “Beebin” if you like, among the four South Asian countries. It should also help at least a big part of the subcontinent to challenge the widespread perception that South Asia is the “least integrated region” in the world. Some have labelled the BBIN as a “Saarc minus one” mechanism aimed at “isolating” Pakistan. The Saarc charter, of course, does not prohibit sub-regional cooperation among three or more members of the organisation. But what is driving the BBIN process is quite clearly Pakistan’s foot-dragging in the Saarc. This was quite evident at the last Saarc summit in Kathmandu in November 2014. After prolonged negotiations among all parties, including Pakistan, the Saarc summit was presented with three agreements on cross-border energy cooperation, motor-vehicle movement and railway cooperation. But Pakistan was not ready to sign them, and it was only after great persuasion that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initialled the agreement on energy cooperation. It is beyond doubt that the pace of the Saarc caravan has been set by the slowest camel, Pakistan. Islamabad prefers a more sequential approach, under which economic integration with India follows rather than precedes the resolution of bilateral political issues with New Delhi. Until now, India was not willing to find a way out of this blind alley and was content to let the Saarc drift. No wonder everyone blamed India and Pakistan for the failure of the Saarc. But over the last couple of years, something has changed. India’s eastern neighbours are no longer willing to let South Asian regionalism remain hostage to Indo-Pak ties. They are ready to negotiate practical sub-regional cooperation with India. And Delhi has been willing to respond positively. It is no surprise that the initiative for sub-regional cooperation has come from Bangladesh. Surrounded on all sides by India, separated from Nepal and Bhutan by a sliver of Indian territory called the “chicken’s neck” and connected to Southeast Asia through Myanmar, Bangladesh sees the need for trans-frontier connectivity more clearly than most. The idea has also found considerable appeal in Nepal and Bhutan, two landlocked countries that need regional integration to improve their access to the open seas and global markets. The two countries also need credible arrangements for energy trade across borders that will boost their economies. Two well-known public intellectuals in Kathmandu, Kanak Mani Dixit and Sujeev Shakya, have articulated the idea of “East South Asia”, which can pioneer effective sub-regionalism in the subcontinent. When Bangladesh took the initiative for sub-regional engagement over the last two years, the UPA government responded positively. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been more vigorous in backing sub-regional cooperation through the BBIN. While laying out a positive agenda for the Saarc as a whole in Kathmandu, Modi saw the virtues of marching ahead with whoever is ready for regional integration within the Saarc. If the BBIN programme succeeds, it could spur similar integration in other sub-regions, like the one formed by peninsular India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Some day, even Pakistan might be ready to restore the historic economic connectivity in the region stretching from the west of the Jumna to the Indus and beyond. Instead of agonising over the failures of the Saarc, Delhi has recognised that two-speed regionalism is quite common around the world. For example, Britain, Denmark and Sweden are among the members of the European Union that have not adopted the euro as their currency. Many in Britain, of course, want London to exit from the European Union. In any case, no one can compel Pakistan to love the Saarc and its agenda for economic integration. It is not that Pakistan is against regional cooperation. It has its own preferences in regional partnerships. Islamabad has, in recent years, taken big steps towards economic integration with China. Pakistan has also been an active member of regional institutions like the Economic Cooperation Organisation, whose members include Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and other Central Asian states. It is, indeed, Pakistan’s sovereign prerogative to choose the pace and direction of its regionalism. India, too, has often looked beyond the Saarc to benefit from trans-regional cooperation. Along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India has been promoting a trans-regional forum, called BIMSTEC, with Myanmar and Thailand. BIMSTEC stands for “Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation”. Centred on what we might for a moment call “Greater Bengal”, the BBIN region has always been geographically coherent. There is now political support in all four capitals to reconnect the region and build on its natural synergies. If the four countries are ready to think big about East South Asia, the rest of the world is more than eager to support them. The World Bank has long backed South Asian sub-regionalism. Japan and the Asian Development Bank are ready to invest big time in the sub-region’s energy and transport corridors. China has been pressing for more than a decade to develop trans-border connectivity between eastern India and southwestern China through Bangladesh and Myanmar. East South Asia’s moment is now upon us. Delhi, for its part, must lend full support to Dhaka’s leadership of the BBIN forum. After all, it was Dhaka that took the political initiative in the late 1970s to found the Saarc. Bangladesh is well placed to get the BBIN framework to advance the regional agenda that the Saarc could not over the last three decades. 

The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express'
 See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/two-speed-regionalism/99/#sthash.gvxCFK9W.dpuf

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Teraethyl Lead and Biopurification

Teraethyl Lead (TEL)-
· TEL is an organolead compound(chemical compounds containing a chemical bond between carbon and lead). It is a toxic colorless synthetically made oily liquid and was mixed with leaded petrol in 1920s as a patented octane booster/ anti-knocking agent that allowed engine compression to be raised substantially, which helped in increasing vehicle performance or fuel economy.
· But its negative impact related to neurotoxicity (lead poisoning), damaging effect on catalytic converters and were main cause for spark plug fouling which lead to start of its phase out in 1970s
· Currently, it is still used as an additive in some grades of aviation gasoline and in some developing countries
Biopurification:
· It is the natural process of exclusion of harmful elements from human body (to maintain optimum level) that has evolved through millions of years of human evolution.
· For example: Calcium and Barium are found in tandem. While calcium is useful for us, barium is poisonous. Our body has evolved in such a way that it produces protein that effectively absorbs calcium while being almost ineffective for Barium
· According to concept of biopurification, natural concentration of harmful elements in human body should be far lower than toxic levels
· This concept of biopurification was first conceptualized by Clair patterson, a geochemist in trying to nullify Robert Kehoe's (medical scientist) claim for higher toxic natural level of lead in human body.
The recent publication of Chinese defense papers clear the air on a variety of issues, including the direction the Chinese military is planning to take. It sets out a broad framework within which expansion will take place, with a few defined focus areas. These areas are forays into high seas and overseas interests-including energy security.
A case for an Indian white paper on foreign policy may be built as follows:
1. A white paper lays down an integrated approach to foreign policy, with all variables being put in the balance. It can serve as a document which translates into actions. A foreign policy will define actions, and not actions foreign policy.
2. A piecemeal approach to foreign policy may be avoided. Rather than shaping the very basics of a particular policy over years in joint communiques and conferences (as happened with Look East Policy, now Act East policy after it remained stale for long); it is desirable to put in place a comprehensive plan.
3. A white paper also assure predictability and continuity in foreign policy. In the international arena, it is important to be consistent. The recent breakdown of talks with Pakistan over Hurriyat leaders is an example of break in foreign policy. (Or include Indian vote on Sri Lanka in UNHRC)
4. A white paper will help cover all aspects which have hitherto been on the backburner or neglected: for example, India's policy on the middle east. Rather than ad-hocism, a well thought out approach is required.
5. Lastly, a white paper will assimilate the tenets of Indian foreign policy at one place, listing down its successes and failures-or reasons for its shift, as also future strategies.
With the Indian phenomenon growing larger on the international scene, it is important that India is seen as a country with a broad plan on how to deal with emerging geopolitics in the future, rather than a nation that decides foreign policy at whim.

Monday, June 22, 2015

मैं क्या जानूँ रोज़ा है, या मेरा रोज़ा टूट गया / मुनव्वर राना

समझौतों की भीड़-भाड़ में, सबसे रिश्ता टूट गया
इतने घुटने टेके हमने, आख़िर घुटना टूट गया

देख शिकारी तेरे कारण, एक परिन्दा टूट गया,
पत्थर का तो कुछ नहीं बिगड़ा, लेकिन शीशा टूट गया

घर का बोझ उठाने वाले, बचपन की तक़दीर न पूछ
बच्चा घर से काम पे निकला, और खिलौना टूट गया

किसको फ़ुर्सत इस दुनिया में, ग़म की कहानी पढ़ने की
सूनी कलाई देख के लेकिन, चूड़ी वाला टूट गया

ये मंज़र भी देखे हमने, इस दुनिया के मेले में
टूटा-फूटा नाच रहा है, अच्छा ख़ासा टूट गया

पेट की ख़ातिर फ़ुटपाथों पर बेच रहा हूँ तस्वीरें
मैं क्या जानूँ रोज़ा है, या मेरा रोज़ा टूट गया

मुनव्वर राना

A repeat of Emergency?

L K Advani's comments on the chances of the country having to re-live the nightmare of Indira Gandhi's rule of 1975-77 have been viewed in the immediate political context, sparking speculation on whether they were intended as a comment on the prime minister. Mr Advani has clarified that such was not his intent, although he has made some other barbed comments that are more obviously a comment on Narendra Modi. But who Mr Advani's target may or may not be is merely the stuff of everyday politics; what is important is the substance of his comment, and the systemic question of whether the hijacking of the Constitution that happened during 1975-77 is possible in contemporary India.

In important ways, a repeat of that nightmare of 40 years ago - brought to life most recently by Coomi Kapoor's book on that period - is unlikely for the simple reason that one person and one party do not dominate the political landscape the way and the did in the 1970s. She had a two-thirds majority in Parliament and control of almost all state governments. Today, the has a bare majority in the and none in the Rajya Sabha. A two-thirds majority for a ruling combine in the is unlikely in most scenarios for the future. No one party can, therefore, ram through controversial legislation, let alone any amendment to the Constitution.

Second, no one party controls all state governments; the two leading national parties and a variety of state parties do that. Therefore, arresting all and sundry and gagging the media is not possible in the manner done in June 1975 (since police is a state subject). A putative dictator could, of course, dismiss all inconvenient state governments, but the Supreme Court has struck down such arbitrary action in the past. Meanwhile, the birth of the internet and the popularity of social media make complete clampdown on information flow next to impossible - without which a dictatorship would find it hard to control events. Finally, the Supreme Court had been packed in the - three judges were superseded to select a pliant chief justice. A repeat exercise is inconceivable when formal processes are being set in place for the selection of judges. None of this makes a repeat Emergency impossible; what it does is more or less rule it out for the foreseeable future.

Other institutional safeguards may be less than effective, like the and the Press Council. The mainstream press has made its compromises for a variety of reasons, but the secondary press (especially in the digital space) is a growing force. Civil society is stronger, too. The greatest weakness, though, lies in the culture of sycophancy that has spread in one-person or one-family dominant political parties, including at state level. Party bosses acting as though they are above the law is, therefore, not the rare event one would want it to be.

The question to ask, though, is whether you need an Emergency to impinge on human rights and civil liberties. The country may not have one-person or one-party rule, but the essence of a democracy has been getting diluted. Those with criminal histories are routinely nominated by the leading parties and elected to legislatures; can you really expect them to be great upholders of the law? Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha is at a multi-decade low, so its representativeness has suffered. The room for dissenting voices has shrunk, given the expanded definition of what is considered unacceptable in the worlds of the arts and literature. Corruption is not unknown in the lower courts. A journalist who took on a minister was burnt to death the other day. Non-governmental organisations are being squeezed on funding, and the home ministry has actually sought to take away the broadcasting rights of a large media organisation - fortunately, the attorney general has said this would be illegal. Women's freedoms are under attack from traditionalist male forces. The police force remains unreformed. There are many ways in which the institutional protection of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms can be buttressed. It is a task that awaits attention.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/a-repeat-of-emergency-it-s-not-likely-115062100902_1.html

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Analysis

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or the Clean India Mission as the name suggests aims to ensure holistic cleanliness in the country by the year 2019. However, the thrust of the mission is on ensuring access to toilets and proper sanitation to all the people. While launched with great fanfare, the mission has been facing challenges of implementation -
1. The focus of the sanitation component is completely infrastructure based i.e., on building toilets. It does not involve the community or plan in a holistic manner for ensuring 'ease of usage' to ensure continued use.
2. While promoting the mission, maximum publicity has been on cleanliness. Hence, an opportunity to publicise the more important sanitation component was lost.
3. While the vision is to have holistic cleanliness, the different components of the mission are being executed by different departments and ministries across the three levels of government. This coupled with the large scale corporate participation makes co-ordination a major challenge.
In order to tackle the problems faced, following steps can be taken -
1. While the expertise of the government lies in ensuring scale (or quantity), the NGOs and private sector partners can ensure quality. Hence, the programme must leverage the strengths of both sectors.
2. A decentralised approach must be followed based on the subsidiarity principle to ensure sustainable change.
3. Focus must be on changing behaviour and mindsets instead of creating infrastructure.
There have been many schemes, programmes and mission focusing on cleanliness and sanitation. To ensure that this mission be the last of any such scheme, the government must ensure that the focus remains on changing mindsets rather than creating infrastructure. Only then will be be able to achieve a 'Swach Bharat.'

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