10th December 2019 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure shot 

No. 1.

Question – What do you understand by climate change policies?Can there be an alternate approach to formulate them? If so, what can be an alternate perspective?(250 words)

Context – The climate change policies and their outcome.


What are climate change policies?

  • Climate-change policy encompasses policies formulated specifically to tackle climate change and can be local, national or international in scope. These broadly fall into two categories; those designed to minimise the extent of climate change – climate change mitigation – and those intended to minimise risks and seize upon new opportunities – climate change adaptation.
  • With global emissions are reaching record levels and showing no sign of peaking, several climate change policies have been signed and formulated. The most recent being Climate Action Summit 2019 organised by the UN with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.
  • The Climate Action Summit reinforced the global understanding that 1.5℃ is the socially, economically, politically and scientifically safe limit to global warming by the end of this century, and to achieve this, the world needs to work to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The Summit also demonstrated the need to urgently update and enhance their short-term commitments by 2020, and the mid-term commitments by 2030, that will be captured in their national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.
  • But the policy problem is that the Climate Treaty considers symptoms (emissions of greenhouse gases), rather than the causes (use of natural resources). India, which is responsible for just 3% of cumulative emissions, is the most carbon efficient and sustainable major economy.
  • The logic is who is using the most is generating waste the most and hence is polluting the most. For example, the West which is in size a fifth of the world population uses half of the global material use and is hence a major contributor to climate change.
  • Just because India and China are producing doesn’t mean that they are polluting agents alone, the ones who use the resources are the polluters too. So Excessive resource use by a fifth of the world population in a small part of the planet in the West is still responsible for half of global material use and the cause of climate change, while Asia with half the world’s population is responsible for less than half of material use, and living in harmony with nature.

How has the use of natural resources changed over the years?

  • Three shifts in natural resource use have taken place in the last 400 years:
  1. from agriculture to industry; 
  2. rural to urban; and, 
  3. livelihood to well-being.
  • Colonialism and its aftermath of multinational corporations was the driver of the first shift, infrastructure of the second, and societal notions of progress of the third.
  • Now, the societal notions of progress are very different in the West than in India and China. In the West it is more defined by materialism while in India and China it is more focused on societal well-being. This also shapes the consumption patterns of the people in both the parts. The West uses more than us.
  • Now understand that the climate change treaties are aimed at addressing the emissions caused due to production but India and China can show an alternate approach.

What is the alternate approach?

  • The alternate approach is modifying the resource use. For example, even though India and China are producers (production leads to emission) but their consumption is such that it cuts out their contributions through emissions.
  • For example, India and China, civilisational states with a population of nearly eight times that of the U.S., have re-defined progress. In China, electricity consumption per-capita is a third of the European Union (EU) and a sixth of the U.S. Residential energy consumption.
  • China also has less than a sixth of the number of cars with respect to population than the EU, while the U.S. has nearly two times that number. In China, nearly 40% of the distance travelled is by public transport, which is two times that of the EU. 
  • While the number of cars in China is projected to double by 2040, half the new cars are expected to be electric vehicles. China has the world’s most extensive electric high-speed rail system. In Beijing, three-quarters of public transport buses are already electric. Asian household savings as a percent of GDP are two times that of the U.S.
  • So, measures for global sustainability should draw lessons from India and China. For example, transport emissions are the fastest growing emissions worldwide, projected to become half of global emissions, and in the future more polluting than coal use. India and China are global leaders in sustainability, not only because of their low per-capita resource use but also because of their contribution to peak oil around 2035 as they adopt electric vehicles supported by solar and wind renewable energy. By then, India and China are expected to have half the global renewable capacity and electric vehicles.
  • By 2040 more than half of global wealth is again going to be in Asia; but despite the wealth, the low carbon social development model (i.e. emitting less carbon) adopted by India and China will become the world system, ensuring global sustainability.

Way ahead:

  • The alternative perspectives about climate change like drawing a relationship between consumption and climate change rather than production and climate change need to be promoted and paid attention to so that we can understand climate change properly, understand the contributors and effectively formulate policies that address all aspects rather than only the symptoms.


No. 2.

There is another article on the Criminal Justice System in India and rape. The following are the major highlights:

  1. The Indian criminal justice system increasingly reflects the idea of power rather than justice.
  2. We, in India, continue to follow a “culture of control” and a tendency to “govern through crime”.  Today police seems to be judge and media is behaving like court. 
  3. Blood lust has become the norm in preference to due process and constitutional norms.
  4. Chief justice of India instantly ruled out this instant justice model. 
  5. The court observed in Om Prakash & Ors vs State Of Jharkhand & Anr on September 26, 2012: “Such killings must be deprecated. They are not recognised as legal by our criminal justice administration system. They amount to state terrorism.”
  6. Is India moving from rule of law towards rule of gun. 
  7. India is also bound by Resolution 1989/65 of May 24, 1989 which had recommended that the principles on the “Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra Legal. Arbitrary and Summary Executions” annexed to the Resolution be honoured by all governments.
  8. The UN General Assembly subsequently approved the principles. It resolved that the principles, “shall be taken into account and respected by governments within the framework of their national legislation and practices, and shall be brought to the attention of law enforcement and criminal justice officials, military personnel, lawyers, members of the executive and legislative bodies of the government and the public in general”. We have not done much in disseminating these guidelines and norms among our police and security forces.
  9. The UN Human Rights Committee, in many reports, has said that “encounters are murders”. Encounter killings are probably the greatest violation of the most precious of all fundamental rights — the right to live with human dignity. Many a time these killings are fake and are so orchestrated that it is difficult to conclusively prove them wrong.
  10. Punjab – The Government of India itself admitted that as many as 2,097 people had been secretly cremated in Amritsar alone; in spite of the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court, just 30 cases were registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation. 
  11. Similarly, in Kashmir about 8,000 people who were apparently in police custody were eliminated in a similar manner though the government contests this figure and says some may have even crossed the border.
  12. In February 2009, in its judgment on a writ petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee in the context of 1,800 encounter deaths (1997-2007), the Andhra Pradesh High Court (of united Andhra Pradesh) recognised that encounter deaths are, prima facie, cases of culpable homicide. Thus in all cases of encounter deaths a first information report must be registered, and an independent and impartial investigation ensured. The state’s plea of self-defence has to be established at the stage of trial, and not during the stage of investigation.

Way forward/ what should be done:

  • The right thing to do in rape cases is to appoint senior judges in fast track courts; no adjournments should be permitted, and rape courts should be put under the direct control of High Courts; the district judge should not have any power to interfere, and the trial must be completed within three months.

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