The Hindu Newspaper Analysis for UPSC
The Hindu Newspaper Analysis 19 December 2022
- After four years of fractious talks, nearly 200 countries, including India, approved a historic Paris-style deal on Monday to protect and reverse dangerous loss to global biodiversity, following an intense final session of negotiations at the UN COP-15 summit here in Canada.
- The Chinese-brokered deal is aimed at saving the lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and climate change. Monitored wildlife populations have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to the Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022 of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
What is the Convention on Biodiversity(CBD)?
- The CBD is an international legally binding treaty, which commits governments worldwide to safeguard biodiversity.
- It covers all life on Earth – ecosystems, animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms and focuses on achieving sustainable development – that is, human progress without threatening biodiversity.
- The CBD was signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.
- The governing body meets every two years to review what has been achieved and what still needs to be done to protect biodiversity around the world.
- A recent statement by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar that India can play a “stabilising” and “bridging” role, at a time when the world no longer offers an “optimistic picture”, is intriguing. He stated that India can contribute towards the “de-risking of the global economy” and in political terms, “in some way, help depolarise the world”.
- Far from evolving into a “world leader”, India, for instance, should become an active participant in a world that is no longer defined by parameters such as “superpowers” or “great powers” exercising “world leadership”.
- Foreign policy is no longer just foreign: when we think of foreign policy, we must also think of its domestic implications. The ultimate purpose of any country’s foreign policy is to promote the security and well-being of its own citizens.
- Our External Affairs Minister meets annually with his Russian and Chinese counterparts in the trilateral RIC; he adds Brazil and South Africa in BRICS; subtracts both Russia and China in IBSA, for South-South co-operation; and retains China but excludes Russia in BASIC, for environmental negotiations.
- According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2021, India has about 100 million casual workers and 50 million salaried workers with no written job contract. This gives us an estimate of 150 million contract workers — or about 30% of the total labour force in the country.
- In the Annual Survey of Industries, the share of contract employment in total industrial employment increased from 24% in 2004 to 38% in 2017.
- In the Public Enterprises Survey 2021, the share of casual/contract workers in public sector units (PSUs) was 17.1% in 2011-12, which increased to 19% in 2015-16 and 37.2% in 2020-21.
- Apparently, the cost to the company (CTC) is lower for contract employment when compared to permanent employment. This is considered beneficial for the economy as reduced CTC has not only improved profits for India Inc., but also attracts foreign investment.
- A major saving in CTC comes from wage suppression. It is a known fact that contractors somehow manage to pay less than minimum wages to labour.
- Since underpaid contractual workers cannot afford adequate health care for themselves and their family members, the country’s overall human capital declines.
- As nobody invests in the upskilling of contractual workers, the labour productivity of the economy is also adversely impacted. Low in morale, contractual workers are not as interested in improving the quality of the product and services, thus affecting the export competitiveness of the economy.
- India is home to the largest adolescent population in the world. The National Family Health Surveys indicate that a significant proportion of Indian teenagers are sexually active.
- According to an analysis by Enfold Proactive Health Trust, ‘romantic cases’ (where the relationship was consensual, according to the girls, their family members, or the court) constituted 24.3% of the total cases registered and disposed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act between 2016 and 2020 by special courts in Assam, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
- While POCSO’s objective is to protect children below 18 years from sexual abuse, its unintended effect has been the criminal prosecution and the deprivation of liberty of young people in consensual relationships.
- The law is also used by parents of adolescent girls to curtail sexual expression and “safeguard family honour”.
- The law casts adolescent girls as “victims”, thus rendering them voiceless. These girls are institutionalised in children’s homes when they refuse to return to their parents.
- According to Crime in India, 2021, 92.6% of cases under the POCSO Act were pending disposal. Consensual cases among these are overburdening the criminal justice system.
- Comprehensive sexuality education is needed to bridge knowledge gaps, build positive skills and attitudes so as to enable adolescents to make informed decisions and navigate through interpersonal relationships, while also realising the importance of their health and dignity.
- An amendment needs to be considered to the POCSO Act and the Indian Penal Code to decriminalise consensual acts involving adolescents above 16 years, while also ensuring that those above 16 years and below 18 years are protected against non-consensual acts.
About the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act:
- The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development led the introduction of the POCSO Act in 2012.
- The Act was designed to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography offences, as well as to provide for the establishment of Special Courts for the trial of such offences.
- The Act was amended in 2019 for enhancing the punishments for specific offences in order to deter abusers and ensure a dignified childhood.
- A gender-neutral law: The POCSO Act establishes a gender-neutral tone for the legal framework available to child sexual abuse victims by defining a child as “any person” under the age of 18.
- Not reporting abuse is an offence: Any person (except children) in charge of an institution who fails to report the commission of a sexual offence relating to a subordinate is liable to be punished.
- No time limit for reporting abuse: A victim can report an offence at any time, even a number of years after the abuse has been committed.
- The Supreme Court has disposed of 6,844 cases since Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud took over as the country’s top judge on November 9. The court has also received 5,898 new cases in the same period of one month and seven days. It is a rare feat on the part of the court that the rate of disposal of cases has exceeded the rate of institution of new cases.
- The pace of disposal of cases under Chief Justice Chandrachud has also increased, even as the CJI has said that every little cry for justice will be heard by the Supreme Court. The court under Chief Justice Chandrachud’s immediate predecessor, Justice U.U. Lalit, had disposed of over 10,000 cases during his 74-day tenure.
- all 13 Benches of the court had been hearing 10 cases each of bail and transfer petitions first thing every morning before their board of regular cases listed for the day.
- India’s economic growth is likely to be subdued in the coming year, but inflation will also subside partly due to monetary policy effects and partly due to base effects, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council member Poonam Gupta said on Monday, mooting steps to buffer the economy from recurrent shocks like high inflation, oil prices or capital outflows.
- India’s inflation acceleration to close to 7% this year has been mainly driven by high vegetable prices, which is a domestic issue and not an ‘external’ one, she said.
- “It is really sad in a way that our monetary policy is held hostage by vegetable prices. And monetary policy is a blunt instrument to address that kind of inflation,” she underlined, suggesting price ‘stabilisation’ efforts to balance domestic demand and supply issues for vegetables.
- Members of the European Union last week agreed in principle to implement a minimum tax of 15% on big businesses.
- EU members have agreed to implement a minimum tax rate on big businesses in accordance with Pillar 2 of the global tax agreement framed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year. This is to ensure that big businesses with global operations do not benefit by domiciling themselves in tax havens in order to save on taxes.
- Article six of the 2015 Paris Agreement provides for the use of international carbon markets by countries to fulfil their nationally determined contributions (NDC) to keep global warming within 2°C.
- Carbon markets are essentially a tool for putting a price on carbon emissions — they establish trading systems where carbon credits or allowances can be bought and sold.
- A carbon credit is a kind of tradable permit that, as per UN standards, equals one tonne of carbon dioxide removed, reduced, or sequestered from the atmosphere.
- There are also concerns about ‘greenwashing’ — companies may buy credits, simply offsetting carbon footprints instead of reducing their overall emissions.