INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 17TH DECEMBER 2019

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ISSUE: POLICE LATHICHARGE AT JAMIA UNIVERSITY

NEWS: The images and videos of the Delhi Police rampage on the Jamia Millia Islamia campus following students’ protests against the new citizenship law in the national capital on Sunday underline an awful, dispiriting dissonance.

At Jamia police barged into the campus without permission, forced its way into the canteen, mosque and library, dragged and beat up students, rounded up and detained them, using as pretext acts of arson and vandalism outside the university — is part of the problem.

Editorial highlights that the Narendra Modi government is yet to find the language to talk to those who protest and disagree. And this absence, this lack, becomes more glaring, more grave, when it is confronted with restive students.

PM through his speech is trying to  discredit the students’ protest by painting their criticism of a citizenship law that discriminates against Muslims as anti-national and pro-Pakistan.

Such talk is in tune with the spirit of the law that this government has steamrolled through Parliament, a law that virtually closes India’s doors to illegal immigrants who are Muslim because they are Muslim.

CONCLUSION

On Monday, the Prime Minister said no “vested interest group” would be allowed to “divide us and create disturbance.” Hopefully, those words are meant to reassure all — irrespective of what they wear.

ISSUE: FRESH APPROACH TOWARDS RESERVATION

NEWS: The debate on reservation is highly polarised and, usually, brings out the worst in us. Arguments made by all the sides are logical and extremely passionate. It can be challenging to evolve a middle path that includes opposing perspectives.

On the one hand, there is a school of thought that derides reservation and advocates a merit-based order.

On the other hand, there are ferocious supporters of reservation who consider any debate around reforms as blasphemous.

Merit is contextual and means different things to different people. Caste creates networks and upper castes, through years of institutional linkages, have established an infrastructure that invariably helps in mentorship and handholding.

This is missing for the Dalits. Even the exceptionally skilled and competent Dalits are first treated as Dalits, everything else becomes secondary.

A study by Sukhadeo Thorat and Paul Attewell in 2010 had reportedly observed that “for equally qualified SC and upper caste (about 4,800 each) applicants, SCs had 67 per cent less chance of receiving calls for an interview. What is more disturbing is that the high percentage of less qualified high castes (undergraduate) received calls compared with the more qualified SCs (post-graduates).”

Political reservation was never intended to perpetuate the interests of a single family. The case of Lok Janshakti Party is peculiar. Ram Vilas Paswan, Pashupati Paras (brother), Chirag Paswan (son) and Prince Raj (nephew) are in Parliament from reserved constituencies. The community can see through this hypocrisy.

NEED FOR REFORM

Reforms to reservation have become the need of the hour. A section of SCs and STs have benefitted, and are constantly benefitting from reservation. It is time we transcend our selfish interests and advocate a rethinking of reservation that is more inclusive.

The idea of preferential treatment in sectors that are still underrepresented must be explored objectively. The civil society, industry, media, higher judiciary and the upper echelons of bureaucracy still lack social diversity and, therefore, the empathy required to address the concerns of the community.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development, through a recent notification, has asked the IITs, IIMs and other premier institutions, to follow the reservation norms in faculty recruitment: People from marginalised communities did not have any leadership role in these institutions for so long.

We need fresh dialogue and thinking on reservation. Including the excluded will be the real tribute to not just Ambedkar, but the Constitution of India.

ISSUE: CRITICISM OF THE CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT

AGAINST THE VISIONS OF THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS

The first Home Minister of India Sardar Patel, while arguing for a broad based, non-discriminatory criterion for citizenship, said “There are two ideas about nationality in the modern world, one is broad-based nationality and the other is narrow nationality. It is not right for us to take a narrow view.”

Even after being witness to the horrors of Partition, the framers of our Constitution did not budge in favour of religion-based criteria.

After the Constitution was enacted, Patel again appreciated the framers for adopting an “enlightened modern civilised” approach to citizenship while stating the ethnicity-based citizenship as outdated. Unfortunately, the duo from Gujarat who swear by Patel is destroying the vision of the Constitution.

Making religion a criterion for offering citizenship and excluding one religion from it is an insult to the legacy of this country’s freedom struggle, a fraud on our constitution and most importantly, a nefarious attempt to institutionally otherise Muslims and plunge them into precarity and fear.

AGAINST SECULAR REPUBLIC

This Act, along with many other previous decisions of the central government, is part of a larger design of the RSS-BJP combine to make India a Hindu-Rashtra. It should be pointed out repeatedly, that every freedom fighter, from Maulana Hasrat Muhani to Subhas Chandra Bose, from Bhagat Singh to Chandrashekar Azad, made sacrifices and devoted their lives for the cause of a secular democratic India, not for Hindu-Rashtra.

The choice of three countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan – is arbitrary. If the central government is really concerned about persecuted minorities, then why not extend this gesture for the Tamils from Sri Lanka and Rohingya from Myanmar? Similarly, Hazaras in Afghanistan, and Ahmadiyyas, Shias and Balochs in Pakistan are being persecuted. Atheists are regularly targeted in many theocratic countries. The Act will only distort India’s humanitarian credentials. The CAA is drawing flack internationally already, including from the UN.

VIOLATES ARTICLE 14

The CAA is in complete violation of Article 14, as our Constitution specifically prohibits any kind of discrimination on the basis of religion.

 

ISSUE: WHY COP 25 COLLAPSED?

NEWS:

The 25th annual talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), referred to as the Conference of Parties (COP), ended in Madrid on Sunday (December 15) morning, some 40 hours after its scheduled close.

The two weeks of negotiations — COP25 was the longest Conference of Parties ever as the planet hurtles towards environmental catastrophe — were a spectacular failure.

The failure of the talks underlined starkly the massive gap between what scientists say the world’s nations need to do on climate change, and what the most powerful political leaders on the planet are prepared to even discuss, let alone actually do.

There was only one major agenda for the Madrid talks to negotiate and decide — the rules for a new carbon market to be set up under the Paris Agreement. That would have completed the Paris Agreement rulebook that was finalized in Katowice in 2018, without the provisions related to carbon markets on which countries had major disagreements.

Two other issues came to dominate the discussions at Madrid — one relating to the demand to enhance climate actions being currently taken, and the other about the need to make developed countries accountable to their climate obligations in the pre-2020 period.

A number of countries — mainly the ones most threatened by climate change, such as small island states, but also some developed countries and civil society organisations — had been demanding that countries commit themselves to taking more climate actions in view of recent scientific assessments that the world was not doing enough to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

These countries and organisations had been pushing for provisions in the Madrid agreement that would call upon all the countries to update their climate action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, with greater commitments by next year.

Countries such as India, China, and many others have been strongly resisting this.

They have been arguing that it was more important to start delivering on the commitments already made in the past than make fresh commitments. It was in this context that these countries repeatedly raised the issue of unfulfilled promises of developed countries in the pre-2020 period.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the predecessor to the Paris Agreement, developed countries were mandated to make targeted cuts in their emissions, and also provide money and technology to the developing countries to help them fight climate change. But the developed countries have been way short of meeting these obligations.

As a result, developing countries led by India, China and Brazil had been pushing for provisions that would hold the developed countries accountable to their past promises.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, for example, said they would not accept an agreement that acknowledged the Oceans report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but ignored the Land Report by the same organisation.

The provisions related to carbon markets have been deeply contested with India, Brazil, China and some other developing countries aligned on one side, and the developed countries, many small island countries, and civil society groups on the other side.

 

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