IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th March, 2020


U.N. rights body to move Supreme Court on Citizenship Amendment Act

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) comments:

-       It plans to file an application in the Indian Supreme Court, asking to be impleaded in the petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

-       The amicus curiae will focus on providing an overview of relevant and applicable international human rights standards and norms to support the Court’s deliberations in the context of its review of the CAA.

-       UN body had shown “great concerns over the CAA”.

Government arguments:

-       The United Nations body had no right to file a petition that will ask the court to appoint the Commissioner for Human Rights as an assistant or ‘amicus curiae’ in the case.

-       The Citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and it is sovereign right of the Indian Parliament to make laws.

-       Government strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.

-       Government is confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Honourable Supreme Court.

Experts comment:

●      The CAA has to be tested on the touchstone of the Indian Constitution and not some U.N. Convention.

●      If such interventions as 'amicus curiae' are allowed, it will set a wrong precedent.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

-       It is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations that works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

-       The office is headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who co-ordinates human rights activities throughout the UN System and acts as the secretariat of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

-       The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people.

-       UN Human Rights is part of the United Nations Secretariat, with a staff of some 1300 people and its headquarters in Geneva, as well as an office in New York.

Provisions of the CAA:

-       The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, by wanting to grant citizenship to illegal non-Muslims (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians) from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.

-       The Bill proposes that all such migrants will be eligible for citizenship if they came to India before December 31, 2014.

-       All pending legal cases pertaining to citizenship-related matters against them will stand abated.

-       The Bill says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrants” for violating provisions of the Passport Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946.

-       The Bill reduces the mandatory requirement of continuous stay in India from 12 years to five years for “many persons of Indian origin including persons belonging to the minority community from the neighbouring countries”.

-       The Bill says the amendments will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, which are included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland that are protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/un-rights-body-to-move-supreme-court-on-citizenship-amendment-act/article30970693.ece


Centre working on exclusive body for river-linking projects

Government proposal:

-       The Central government is working on the establishment of an exclusive body to implement projects for linking rivers.

-       It will be called as the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA).

-       The proposed body is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects.

-       It will also make arrangements for generating up funds, internally and externally.

Current Inter –Linking project:

-       Six ILR projects :

-       The Ken-Betwa, Damanganga- Pinjal,

-       Par-Tapi-Narmada,

-       Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga,

-       Mahanadi-Godavari

-       Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut).

-       With regard to the peninsular rivers:

  • The Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link than the earlier proposal to link the Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery Rivers.

About Interlinking of Water:

Since the 1980s, the interlinking project has been managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA) under the Ministry of Water Resources.

Components of the Project:

-       Northern Himalayan Rivers interlink component.

-       A southern peninsular component.

-       An intra-State rivers linking component.

Pros of interlinking of water:

-       Interlinking of rivers will help areas having shortage of water areas to have water throughout the year.

-       This will cut farmers dependence on monsoon rains by bringing millions of hectares of cultivatable land under irrigation.

-       Crop productivity would increase and so would revenues for the State.

-       The river linking project will ease the water shortages in western and southern India while mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in eastern India.

-       India needs clean energy to fuel its development processes, and river water can be leveraged for this.

-       Fulfilling water needs impact socio-economic life of people, which will help to end poverty.

Potential benefits to transportation through navigation, as well as broadening income sources in rural areas through fishing.




-       Interlinking of rivers is a very expensive proposal.

-       The river interlinking project will adversely affect land, forests, biodiversity, rivers and the livelihood of millions of people.

-       The Ken-Betwa link threatens about 200 sq. km of the Panna tiger reserve.

-       Interlinking of rivers will lead to destruction of forests, wetlands and local water bodies, which are major groundwater recharge mechanisms.

-       Less than positive experience that other countries have, like diversion of Amu Darya and the Syr Darya or the Australia’s experiments in its Murray Darling basin.

-       It causes massive displacement of people. Huge burden on the government to deal with the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people.

-       Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life.

-       The Shah committee pointed out that the linking of rivers will affect natural supply of nutrients for agricultural lands through curtailing flooding of downstream areas.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/apex-body-on-river-linking-in-pipeline/article30976264.ece

Centre in talks with States wary of NPR

Government comment:

-       It was in discussion with States that had expressed concerns about the updation of the National Population Register (NPR) from April 1 to September 30.

-       No document would be collected during the exercise.

-       The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be updated/collected during the exercise of updation of NPR.

State government apprehension:

-       They have objected to the new fields in the NPR such as “the place of birth of parents” as sometimes in villages, and even in cities, people may not be aware of even their own place of birth.

About NPR:

-       The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of the usual residents of the country.

-       It contains information collected at the local (village/sub-town), sub district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

-       The process of updating NPR will be carried out under the aegis of the Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.

Usual resident of India:

Is a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more, or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months.

About Registrar general of India:

-       Ministry of Home Affairs was founded in 1961, for arranging, conducting and analysing the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-in-talks-with-states-wary-of-npr/article30975434.ece



Punjab and Haryana High Court orders demolition of structures in catchment areas of Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake

Court order:

-       Fined Punjab and Haryana ₹100 crores each for causing damage to Sukhna’s catchment area.

-       Ordered the demolition of all commercial, residential and or other structures in Sukhna’s catchment area.

Court observations:

-       The acts of the States of Punjab, Haryana have caused permanent damage to the catchment area of Sukhna Lake.

-       It is the duty of the States of Punjab and Haryana to restore the catchment area.

-       The State government has also failed to take precautionary measures to save the catchment area.

-       The damage caused to the catchment area is enormous.

About Sukhna lake:

-       Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, India, is a reservoir at the foothills (Shivalik hills) of the Himalayas.

-        This 3-km² rainfed lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills.

-       The lake was created by Le Corbusier and the Chief Engineer P L Verma.

-       Corbusier insisted on two things:

-       To forbidden motor boats to circulate in the water,

-       Vehicular traffic to be prohibited on top of the dam (promenade).

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hc-orders-demolition-of-structures-in-catchment-areas-of-sukhna-lake/article30975742.ece

Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers

Finding of scientists at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG):

-       Black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste.

About Black carbon:

-       Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass.

-       The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide.

-       It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2.

-       However, unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.

-       The concentration varied from a minimum of 0.01μg/cubic metre in winter to 4.62μg/cubic metre during summer.

-       India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades.

Black Carbon and Climate Change:

-       Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere.

-       When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/black-carbon-levels-spike-at-himalayan-glaciers/article30974301.ece#:~:text=Black%20carbon%20absorbs%20solar%20energy,the%20snow%2C%20and%20hastening%20melting.


COVID-19 | The SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, say scientists

Comment of top scientist at CSIRO:

-       They have analysed the 115 published genome sequences from the current COVID-19 outbreak to understand how changes in the virus affect its behaviour and impact.

-       Some of these ‘errors’ in the virus known as ‘mutations’ may be significant for the development and evaluation of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, so it is very important for us to understand it.

-       They are investigating the physical and molecular characterisation of this virus to find differences and similarities with other known corona viruses.

-       Global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), backed by the Indian government is Department of Biotechnology, is working with the CSIRO to establish animal models to test vaccine candidates.

-       CSIRO is in the process of testing new potential vaccines for the epidemic, which has emerged as the single biggest threat to the world economy amidst plummeting stock markets as the virus is marching to new geographies.

About Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations:

-       The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is a "public-private coalition that aims to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines.

-       It is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum, the governments of Norway, Germany, Japan and India.

-       Its aim is to develop early phases of vaccines without knowing the details for the form in which the infection will appear, cutting down the time for initial development and deployment, while allowing the vaccine to be progressively tailored to improve its effectiveness for the particular epidemic.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-mutation-significant-for-development-of-diagnostics-and-vaccines-say-scientists/article30972925.ece