CURRENT AFFAIRS – Topics 08-09-2021
- Spirit of federalism lies in consultation
- IUCN World Conservation Congress
- Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021
- India’s First Dugong Conservation Reserve
- O. Chidambaram Pillai
1.Spirit of federalism lies in consultation
#GS2 #Issues & Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure #Centre-State Relations #Cooperative & Competitive Federalism #Concurrent list
Context: Recently, several State governments expressed concerns about Central unilateralism in the enactment of laws on subjects in the Concurrent List of 7th schedule.
- The model proposed in the Government of India Act, 1935, was adopted by constituent assembly and certain subjects were put in the Concurrent List by giving the Union and the State Legislatures concurrent powers regarding them.
- The subjects in the Concurrent List were to be of common interest to the Union and the States, and the power to legislate on these subjects to be shared with the Union so that there would be uniformity in law across the country.
Recent issues and legislations behind these apprehensions:
- In September 2020, Parliament passed three farm laws without consulting the States first.
- The laws, essentially associated to Entry 14 (agriculture clause) belonging to the State List, were passed by Parliament mentioning Entry 33 (trade and commerce clause) in the Concurrent List.
- They were passed by Parliament even as it does not have legislative competence to deal with agriculture.
Major Ports Authorities Act, 2021, was passed by Parliament earlier this year.
- Coastal States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu Kerala and Goa have objected to this legislation stating that it would lead to the redundancy of several local laws and seize the power of the State government with respect to non-major ports.
- Entry 31 of the Concurrent list deals with the legislation on matter regarding non-major ports.
- Indian Ports Act, 1908 currently governs the field related to non-major ports. This act empowers state government to regulate and control the minor ports.
- However, the new draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021, proposes to change the status quo by transferring the powers related to planning, developing and regulating the non-major ports to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which is overwhelmingly controlled by the Union government.
Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- Several States like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have also come forward against this bill.
- Power to legislate regarding electricity resides in Entry 38 of the Concurrent List.
- The power to regulate the sector was vested with the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs)
- However, the proposed amendment seeks to establish a National Selection Committee, dominated by members nominated by union government to make appointments to SERCs.
- Further, the amendment proposes the establishment of a Centrally-appointed Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) as the sole authority having jurisdiction over matters regarding the performance of obligations under a contract related to the sale, purchase or transmission of electricity.
- These changes in effect will take away state governments power to regulate the electricity sector.
Reaction from the states:
- The lack of consultation in a matter that intrinsically deals with millions of farmers also led to massive protests across India.
- Kerala Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
- Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution against the farm laws.
- The States and the Legislative Assemblies standing up to in favour of true federal spirit assumes significance in the wake of the Union government introducing a number of laws without taking the States into confidence, thereby undermining the federal principles.
- This increasing take-over of the Concurrent subjects by Union government affects the balance of the Constitution.
- As per several decisions of Supreme Court, starting from State of Bombay vs F.N. Balsara case – if an enactment falls within one of the matters assigned to the State List and reconciliation is not possible with any entry in the Concurrent or Union List after employing the ‘doctrine of “pith and substance’, the legislative domain of the State Legislature must prevail.
- Sarkaria Commission Report suggests that there should be a “coordination of policy and action in all areas of concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction through a process of mutual consultation and cooperation for smooth functioning of federal model.
- Union government must refrain from legislating on concurrent subjects unless it is to bring uniformity in basic issues of national policy.
- Venkatachaliah commission advises union government to consult with the States through the Inter-State Council established under Article 263 of the Constitution before legislating on concurrent subjects.
What is the Doctrine of Pith and Substance?
- The doctrine states that within their respective domains the state and the union legislatures are made supreme, they should not encroach upon the sphere demarcated for the other.
- However, if one among the state and the Union does encroach upon the sphere of the other, the courts will apply the Doctrine of Pith and Substance.
- If the pith and substance i.e., the true object of the legislation pertains to a subject within the competence of the legislature that enacted it, it should be held to be intra vires although it may incidentally encroach on the matters not within the competence of the legislature.
IUCN World Conservation Congress
#GS3 #Biodiversity and conservation # International Environment Agencies & Agreements # National Guidelines, Legislations & Other Programmes.
Context: Marseille, France recently hosted ‘IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020’ (postponed from June 2020 to September 2021)
- Held once every 04 years since 1948, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.
- It took critical policy decisions to address conservation priorities including the ongoing biodiversity crisis.
- Indigenous Peoples launch self-determined agenda
- IUCN’s Indigenous Peoples Member Organisations called for the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights and governance over their lands and resources.
- The Global Indigenous Agenda calls for the secure recognition and respect for collective indigenous rights and governance of lands, territories, waters, costal seas and natural resources.
- It also calls upon the global community – from states to the private sector, NGO conservation community, conservation finance and academia – to engage in specific joint efforts to support the realisation of the agenda, such as co-designing initiatives and collaborating on investment opportunities.
- Agenda lays out 10 high-level proposals and outcomes relating to five themes: Indigenous governance; biodiversity conservation; climate action; post-COVID 19 recovery efforts and food security; and global policy setting.
- Threats to crop wild relatives compromising food security and livelihoods:
- As per IUCN authored study, over 70 wild relatives of some of the earth’s most vital crops are threatened with extinction.
- These plants, native to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, provide genetic resources that are necessary to breed crops worldwide with greater resilience to climate change, pests and diseases, as well as to improve yields.
- Wild habitats have been converted for human use,
- Shift from traditional agricultural systems to mechanisation,
- Widespread use of herbicides and pesticides,
- Invasive species and pests,
- Contamination from genetically-modified crops,
- Over-collection and logging.
Changes in IUCN Red List:
- The updated Red List shows the growth of number of species at high risk.
- As per the update, over 900 species of animals have become extinct.
- 30 % of the species (38,543) that it assessed (138,374) face the threat of extinction.
- Around 80 species are extinct in the wild, 8,404 are critically endangered, 14,647 are endangered, 15,492 are vulnerable and 8,127 are near threatened. Some 71,148 species are of least concern, while 19,404 are data deficient.
- It also showed that 37 % of the world’s shark and ray species were threatened with extinction.
- It added that all of the threatened shark and ray species were overfished, with 31 per cent further affected by loss and degradation of habitat and 10 per cent affected by climate change.
- The world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), has been moved from vulnerable to endangered.
- The species is endemic to Indonesia and occurs only in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores.
- The species is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change, with rising sea levels expected to shrink its tiny habitat by at least 30% over the next 45 years.
- Tuna Species: Four of the seven most commercially fished tuna species have shown signs of recovery.
- Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) moved from endangered to least concern.
- Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) moved from critically endangered to endangered.
- Albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and yellowfin tunas (Thunnus albacares), both moved from near threatened to least concern.
- Other tuna species like the bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) remain vulnerable while the skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) remains least concerned.
- The Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) moved from vulnerable to near threatened due to the availability of newer stock assessment data and models.
The IUCN Red List threat categories are as follows, in descending order of threat:
International Union for Conservation of Nature:
- IUCN was established on 5 October 1948 in the French town of Fontainebleau.
- As the first global environmental union, it brought together governments and civil society organisations with a shared goal to protect nature.
- Its aim was to encourage international cooperation and provide scientific knowledge and tools to guide conservation action.
- It is headquartered in Switzerland.
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021
#GS2 #Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. #GS1 #Salient features of Indian society
Context: In Assam, numerous pressure groups recently held a rally against the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, stating that the law was an assault on the farm economy in the name of religion.
- The new act will repeal the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.
- The Act is aimed at regulating slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle.
Key Provisions of the Act
- The Cattle Preservation Bill seeks to make sure that permission for slaughtering cows is not approved in areas that are predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef eating communities or places that fall within a 05km radius of a temple, satra, and any other institution as may be prescribed by the authorities.
- Transportation of cattle from or through Assam is prohibited
- It also seeks to put a check on the transportation of bovines without valid documents.
- The slaughter of cattle will be prohibited unless a necessary certificate issued by the registered veterinary officer of a particular area has been obtained.
- The veterinary officer will issue a certificate only if he believes that the bovine, not being a cow, is over 14 years of age.
- A cow, heifer or calf may be slaughtered only if it is permanently incapacitated.
- All offences under this new legislation are cognizable and non-bailable.
- Those found violating the rules shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than three years and up to eight years or a fine that may vary between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh or both.
- If someone convicted is found guilty of the same or a related offence the second time, the punishment will be doubled.
Need for this law:
- The 1950 act did not have any strong penal provisions to address the issue of cattle smuggling domestically.
- There was no law to prevent movement to other states such as Meghalaya and West Bengal.
- As per the Union government, the Border Security Forces seized 476,035 head of cattle between 2016 and 2020 along the Indo-Bangla border.
- Assam shares 263 km of border with Bangladesh, out of which 143.9 km is land and 119.1 km is riverine.
- Between December 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020, a total of 24,060 cows were seized from the Assam-Bangladesh border as per BSF.
- In Assam, there are many exit points along the porous India-Bangladesh border that facilitate the illicit cattle smuggling.
- The smuggling also happens through West Bengal and Meghalaya which also share a border with Bangladesh.
- A couple of years ago, the BSF had identified 65 cattle corridors along the border and had recommended certain measures to stop cattle smuggling.
Drawback and criticisms:
- The law totally prohibits Cow slaughter irrespective of any provisions.
- Provisions regarding inspection, search and detainment might lead to political or communal misuse.
- The punishments and Fines provided are very extreme. These kinds of punishments are given to a very serious offender in the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- New act will make cattle trading virtually impossible because law-enforcement agencies are likely to interpret it arbitrarily and that ambiguities in the clauses will encourage vigilantism.
- Assam’s 97% of livestock is in the unorganised sector.
- Most farmer own indigenous breeds that have low milk yields, they rely on the additional income they obtain from selling the cattle after they become fallow and stop producing milk, typically after 10 years-12 years of a cow’s life.
- This puts economic burden on the farmers taking care of unproductive cattle.
4.India’s First Dugong Conservation Reserve
#GS3 #Biodiversity and Conservation # In-situ & Ex-Situ
Context: Tamil Nadu government recently announced India’s first Dugong conservation reserve in Palk Bay.
- The conservation reserve will cover an area of 500 square kilometres.
- The proposed conservation area has the highest concentration of dugongs in the country.
- As per the rough estimation on survey by the authorities, there are about 150 to 200 dugongs in the area.
- The dugong (Dugong dugon), also called the sea cow, is a herbivorous mammal.
- They can grow up to three meters long, weigh about 300 kilograms, and live for about 65 to 70 years, grazing on seagrass and coming to the surface to breathe.
- They live in group and are found in over 30 countries and in India are seen in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Palk Bay, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Dugongs are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Dugongs are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits the trade of the species and its parts.
- Loss of seagrass habitats
- Water pollution and degradation of the coastal ecosystem due to developmental activities
- Dugongs are also victims of accidental entanglement in fishing nets and collision with boats, trawlers.
- They are poached for meat.
- Memorandum of understanding and Management of Dugongs and their habitats by UN Environment programme (UNEP) and Conservation of migratory species.
- India signed it in 2008 and formed a task force for the same.
- Dugong and sea grass conservation project by Global environment facility and UNEP for 8 countries in the Indo-Pacific region excluding India.
- Awareness programmes are being conducted for fishing communities in Tamil Nadu.
- Appreciation awards are given to fishermen who release dugongs that are accidentally caught.
- The fisheries and forest department’s work together to conduct regular patrols and inspections in the region.
5.V.O. Chidambaram Pillai
#GS1 #Modern Indian History # The Freedom Struggle # significant events, personalities, issues
Context: Tamil Nadu honours V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, the legendary freedom fighter on his 150th birth anniversary Tamil Nadu government by observing the day as a state event with Chief Minister M K Stalin and leaders cutting across party lines honouring the state’s icon of the freedom movement.
- Valliyappan Ulaganathan Chidambaram Pillai was born on 5 September 1872, popularly known by his initials, V.O.C., also known as Kappalottiya Tamizhan or “The Tamil Helmsman”, was an Indian freedom fighter and leader of the Indian National Congress.
- VOC entered politics in 1905 following the partition of Bengal by joining Indian National Congress.
- Back from 1892 Chidambaram Pillai was influenced by Tilak Maharaj and became his disciple.
- VOC was drawn towards Ramakrishna Mission and came into contact with Subramania Bharati and the Mandayam family.
- It was not until the arrival of VOC at Tuticorin that the Swadeshi movement in Tirunelveli district began to gather force and momentum.
- In 1906, he founded Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company to compete against the monopoly of the British India Steam Navigation Company.
- Tuticorin was a business centre and the merchants there did a lot of business with Sri Lanka.
- At that time, shipping, both passenger as well as cargo, was entirely controlled by European shipping companies.
- The British Indian Steam Navigation Company Ltd., the only shipping business that had a regular steamer service between Tuticorin and Colombo was infamous for its shoddy treatment of Indians.
- He launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company (SSNC), competing against British ships.
- Tuticorin Port Trust, one of India’s thirteen major ports, is named after him.
- He established many institutions like Swadeshi Prachar Sabha, Dharmasanga Nesavu Salai, National Godown, Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd and Desabimana Sangam.
- VOC and Siva were aided in their efforts by a number of Tirunelveli-based lawyers, who formed an organisation called the Swadeshi Sangam, or ‘National Volunteers’.
- O.C took up the workers’ cause and gave many fiery speeches which drew the people’s attention to the plight of the workers. The cause gained widespread sympathy and support.
- On 23 February 1908 Chidambaram Pillai encouraged and led the workers at Coral Mill to protest against their low wages and harsh working conditions.
- Their demands included incremental earnings, weekly holidays and other leave facilities to which the mill agreed after 9 days.
- The outcome of the strike encouraged the workers of other European companies, who also gained increased wages and better treatment.
- O.C along with other leaders decided to hold a procession on 9 March 1908 to observe the release of national leader Bipin Chandra Pal from prison.
- On 12 March 1908, the three leaders including V.O.V, Siva and Iyengar were remanded to the district jail.
- The court sentenced V.O.C to two life imprisonments for charges of sedition.
- An appeal to the Madras High Court reduced the sentence to 6 years in prison and 4 years in transportation both to run concurrently.
- He also presided at the Salem District Congress session.
- Meyyaram (1914), Meyyarivu (1915), Anthology (1915), Thirukural with literary notes of Manakudavar (1917), Tholkappiam with literary notes of Ilampooranar (1928), Autobiography (1946).
- He died on 18th November 1936.
UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 08th September -2021
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