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Focus 360 on Editorials For IAS March 9, 2017

The mystery of police reform – OPINION – The Hindu

  • That police is a State subject complicates matters, but self-correction within the force is essential

    • While the National Police Commission (1977-79), set up by the Janata government that displaced the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi, kick-started reforms, the credit for keeping the debate alive and taking it to the highest judicial forum goes to a colleague of mine, Prakash Singh, former Director General of Police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh and a former Border Security Force chief, who filed a PIL in 1996 and sought major changes to the police structure.
    • His accent was on autonomy and more space for police professionalism by giving a fixed tenure for police officers in crucial positions beginning with the DGPs in the States.

  • Long road to reform

      • The apex court gave its nearly revolutionary directions in 2006, a decade after Mr. Singh first filed his petition.
      • While it is easy to blame the court for such an inordinate delay, one must remember that ‘police’ being a State subject under the Constitution, the process of consultation was tortuous and time-consuming.

  • SC’s directions to the States included

  1. a fixed tenure of two years for top police officers in crucial positions
  2. setting up of a State Security Commission (in which the leader of the Opposition party also had a role, and would give policy directions to the police),
  3. the clear separation of law and order and crime functions of the police
  4. creation of a Police Establishment Board to regulate police placements.
  5. also mandated a new Police Act on the basis of a model Act prepared by the Union government and circulated to the States.

  • State governments devising their own means to dilute — if not wholly sabotage — what the Supreme Court had laid down.

    • The objectives of the Police Establishment Board, conceived only to depoliticise appointments and transfers, have been set at naught by the DGPs getting informal prior political approval from the Chief Minister/Home Minister with a view to placing politically amenable officers in vital places in the police hierarchy.

  • Mere autonomy to the police and job security, without upgrading the quality of recruits and ensuring dedication and honesty in the day-to-day delivery of service to the public, will be of little avail.
  • Scope for improvement

    • sections of the police leadership are not contributing enough to the cause of consumer-sensitive policing.
    • It is equally true that many young IPS officers lose their idealism early in their careers, because of fear of vengeful politicians or disloyal subordinates.
    • Unless there is self-correction within the police, a process initiated by the DGP and his aides, we cannot see a perceptible change in the manner in which policing is carried out in most parts of the country.
    • Just as there are many bright spots in the police forces, there are an equal number of enlightened elements in our polity, who are willing to listen to police woes. There is here a symbiotic relationship without activating which our police forces will remain condemned and shunned by the law-abiding citizen.

Dire straits – OPINION – The Hindu

    • Sustainable use of marine resources is at the heart of the India-Sri Lanka fishing problem
    • ISSUE : The killing of a Tamil Nadu fisherman somewhere between the Indian and Sri Lankan coast on Monday night.
    • the shooting exposes the lack of progress in the implementation of the agreement between the two countries on preventing loss of life while managing the fishing dispute through official channels.
    • Last year, the two countries agreed on establishing a Joint Working Group (JWG) on fisheries to help resolve the dispute.
    • A hotline between the Coast Guards of India and Sri Lanka, convening of the JWG once in three months, and meetings of the fisheries ministers every half-year were the components of the mechanism to be put in place

  • But short-term measures lose their efficacy in the absence of any forward movement toward long-term solutions.

    • Without arriving at a settlement on sustainable exploitation of the marine resources that would end the use of bottom trawlers from Tamil Nadu, India and Sri Lanka will not be able to ensure incident-free fishing in the strait.
    • Although instances of Indian fishermen crossing into Sri Lankan waters have always been commonplace, the consequences for such transgressions in recent years have been limited to seizure of boats and prolonged detention.
    • After he returned to power in 2015, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Indian fishermen who crossed the maritime boundary to fish in another country’s territorial waters would be fired upon.
    • Indian fishermen, who invoke traditional rights to justify their incursions, want a three-year phase-out period before they end trawling.

  • But unless they take to deep- sea fishing, and inland alternatives, India’s fishermen will be locked in a conflict with their Sri Lankan counterparts as well as with a hostile Sri Lankan Navy.

Staying cool – OPINION – The Hindu (Important)

  • It’s time for energy-efficient temperature limits for air-conditioning units in public facilities
  • India has launched the second phase of the programme to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) as part of its commitment under the Montreal Protocol, which requires the complete removal of chemicals that result in ozone depletion and aid global warming.
  • These are used mainly in the air-conditioning, refrigeration, polyurethane foam manufacturing and cold chain sectors, and must be replaced with better alternatives
  • All these sectors are in high growth mode as emerging economies witness greater urbanisation and higher agricultural productivity.
  • It is imperative the Central government ensures that its efforts to upgrade industries using the $44.1 million in funding available under the Protocol are scaled up to meet the need fully.
  • Modernising the technology used by 400 industrial units, many of them small and medium enterprises, by 2023 has to be complemented by policy changes that encourage adoption by consumers