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The climate fight is global – OPINION – The Hindu

  • The Paris accord requires vigilance by all global actors in view of the U.S.’s changed stance on climate change

    • Farmers from Tamil Nadu were gathered in Delhi recently, carrying skulls, apparently belonging to those among them who had committed suicide. They were seeking government assistance following the worst drought in the State in recent times.
    • there are several droughts in many other parts of the world, including Bolivia and several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Scorched lands have led to dying livestock, withering crops, and parched communities.
    • Several recent extreme events such as wildfires, droughts, severe heatwaves and cyclones in other places have a clear signature of a changing climate, but in many cases these are exacerbated by other institutional failures.
    • None of this has, however, persuaded the present U.S. government that anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for climate change. The U.S. is still the world’s second largest annual emitter of GHGs and has generated more than a quarter of the total anthropogenic GHGs in the atmosphere since 1850.
    • Even though the U.S. has not technically withdrawn from the Paris Agreement from last December, when countries came together and set climate-related targets for themselves, President Donald Trump’s recent decisions are a sweeping repudiation of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policies to reduce and limit pollution and GHGs.
    • The curbs on power plant emissions by the Obama administration — the Clean Power Plan (CPP) — were aimed at reducing the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by about a third below the 2005 levels by 2030.

  • Effect of Trump’s actions

      • In any case, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) CPP has been in the courts for more than a year due to a legal challenge mounted by over half the U.S. states and a number of companies that opposed the rule.
      • Nevertheless, even if Mr. Trump’s order to eliminate the CPP were to go into effect, his administration is required by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling to regulate carbon dioxide. Moreover, the EPA’s rules are themselves not easy to reverse by a stroke of the presidential pen, especially given another 2009 EPA finding that GHGs “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations”.
      • Still, the recent moves by its President are a clear signal that the U.S. is no longer interested in curbing GHGs to stabilise the climate and neither is it keen to meet its Paris commitments.
    • That a major emitter is retreating from its former commitments is of course a danger to the world’s climate, but this may not be a big step back if other countries persist with their efforts and if renewables continue to get more affordable as they have recently.

  • Role of sub-national actors

    • Global agreements are often tenuous and need support and pressure from other actors within and across countries who function at many levels: states, territories or provinces within a country, cities, policy think tanks, scientists, philanthropists, local communities, civil society organisations, investors, transnational groups and multinational industries.

  • Climate change, like democracy itself, requires vigilance and participation by both state and non-state actors.

The appeasement of none – OPINION – The Hindu

  • We must move beyond the minority-majority binary

    • Communal politics, which ironically passes for secularism in this country, has been the bane of Indian politics
    • It can be traced back to the British policy of ‘divide and rule’, the result of which was Partition
    • The Constitution was a repudiation of these ideas and the politics that perpetuated them. It rejected the suggestions for a separate electorate for the minorities and the proportional representation system, which it felt would lead to a perpetually enervated nation
    • But in most policies that have been followed until now, we have seen furtherance of vote-bank politics

  • Defining minority

      • While Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution guarantee certain rights to minorities for protection of their culture, script, and languages, the Constitution has not defined or identified religious and linguistic minorities.
      • The question of who will determine which group is a minority was also left unanswered until the Supreme Court settled this in TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka , wherein it held that the unit for the purpose of determining the definition of minority would be the State, not the whole of India.
      • The setting up of a Minorities Commission was envisaged in 1978 to ensure that minorities are able to enjoy the safeguards provided for them in the Constitution and various Central and State laws
      • The National Commission for Minorities Act was passed in 1992 to give a statutory backing to the Commission. According to Section 1 (ii) of the Act, it extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir, and as per Section 2 (iii), ‘minority’ means a community notified as such by the Central government. Using this power, the Central government through a gazette notification dated October 23, 1993 notified Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) as ‘minorities’ for the purpose of this Act. Jains were declared as a minority later.

  • Though the Act nowhere makes it mandatory for States to have a Minorities Commission of their own, 18 do

  • Further, the SC in Bal Patil v. Union of India had said the National and State Minorities Commissions should direct their activities to maintain the unity and integrity of India by gradually eliminating the minority and majority classes.

The best laid plans – OPINION – The Hindu

  • NITI Aayog’s shift away from five-year plans requires more substance

    • The Five Year Plans — the last one ended on March 31 — were relegated to history, to be replaced by a three-year action plan

  • This was to be part of a seven-year strategy that would in turn help realise a 15-year long-term vision.

    • When the Aayog’s Governing Council that includes the Prime Minister and all Chief Ministers met, it was hoped that the fine print as well as the big picture of the new planning approach had been worked out. However, all that was handed out was a draft action agenda for the three years till 2019-20, with 300 specific action points

  • India’s GDP will rise by Rs. 332 lakh crore in the next 15 years, the Aayog reckons

    • Without the larger strategy and vision in place, the three-year action plan is likely to be more of an abstract wish list that Chief Ministers will now evaluate and revert on.
    • Effectively, till it is ratified by the Council, there is a vacuum in India’s policy framework — similar to the delayed starts of past Five Year Plans

  • Meanwhile, the PM’s message to States to speed up capital expenditure and infrastructure development is important as pump-priming the economy is not only the Centre’s task

    • All the same, asking the States to take the initiative on switching India’s financial year to match the calendar year is unusual as it requires the Centre to take the lead by making public the report of the committee that has recommended this

  • To make cooperative federalism truly effective, the Council, or Team India as Mr. Modi calls it, must meet more often — a nearly two-year gap in doing so is a recipe for communication breakdown.