The burden of injustice

t is a shocking reflection on the flaws in our criminal justice system that less than one out of three people lodged in Indian jails is a convict. The vast majority of the prison population, as many as about 2.5 lakhs or 70 per cent, is made up of undertrials awaiting justice. As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, many of them have been in jail “for periods longer than they would have served had they been sentenced.” The Law Commission of India’s 78th report on the “Congestion of undertrial prisoners in jail,” submitted in 1979, also has a topical feel about it.

The situation today is not unlike what it was then — people languish in jail for the want of resources to seek bail, for the lack of proper legal aid, and the hopelessly sluggish pace at which the judicial system moves. Coupled with this is the presence of a police force that seems less interested in securing convictions than in making summary arrests, effectively using custody as a form of preventive detention.

If the problem of undertrials has proved so intractable, it is because it is a manifestation of fundamental and deep-rooted flaws in the criminal justice system.

The immediate task is to identify those who are eligible for bail and ensure their release. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2005, those accused of offences for which the death penalty is not prescribed are entitled to be released if they have been in detention for more than half the stipulated period of imprisonment. Also, the majority of the undertrial population is behind bars for petty offences and, by the Centre’s admission, “is under lock up in the absence of trial.”

Chief judicial magistrates have been asked by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan to identify such cases and it is imperative that this exercise is carried out expeditiously so that these undertrials can be released on personal bonds. A more serious look at plea bargaining, introduced by the 2005 amendment for cases where the sentence is less than seven years, is called for. This could benefit many undertrials languishing in jails.

However, such immediate measures can address only a part of the problem. The fact that there is such a vast population of undertrials is closely linked to a larger issue — that of the lethargic pace of the criminal justice system, reflected in the world’s biggest backlog of pending cases. Dr. Manmohan Singh hit the nail on the head when he urged that “the expeditious elimination of this scourge… should constitute the highest priority for all of us.”

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Challenge of food inflation

The government’s concerns over high food prices are reflected in a number of recent policy announcements. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the empowered group of ministers on drought, has reiterated that if need be the government will import commodities that are in short-supply. The ban on the export of certain essential items will continue. Although there are enough buffer stocks, the shortfall in kharif production might fuel food inflation. Urgent measures are needed to save the standing crops. Clearly, there is a sense of urgency in not only ensuring food availability but also in moderating inflationary expectations.

Already, food prices are ruling high, as reflected in various consumer price indices — the headline inflation, however, remains in negative territory due to statistical aberration. The appropriateness of taking the wholesale prices-based inflation index as the sole reference point for policy formulation has once again been called into question. From a monetary perspective, it is clear that the traditional policy measures to combat inflation such as varying the interest rates will not be wholly effective in India. Food items that are assigned heavy weightage in consumer price indices are susceptible to supply side shocks due to the monsoon vagaries. That has been amply demonstrated this time.

High food prices have also weighed with the government in determining the minimum support prices (MSP) for paddy and a number of other crops. The MSP for paddy has been hiked by Rs.100 a quintal. However, the new rate at Rs.950 a quintal for “common paddy” — and at Rs.980 for finer varieties — is, in effect, only Rs.50 more than what was paid in 2008-09 if the bonus of Rs.50 is taken into reckoning. This is in contrast to the hefty Rs.125-155 increase sanctioned during the previous two seasons.

The MSPs for other crops that are in short supply, except for a few varieties of cereals, have been frozen. The government’s efforts at balancing the interests of the consumers served through the public distribution system with those of the producers will be particularly challenging this season. A shortfall of 10 million tonnes is expected in the kharif rice output.

Since market prices are bound to be higher than the floor set by the MSP, farmers are more likely to sell their produce to private trade than to the public distribution system. Adding to the government’s woes, the States that contributed most to its stockpile last year — Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — have had significantly deficient rainfall so far.

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महिला आरक्षण विधेयक

पंद्रहवीं लोकसभा के पहले सत्र मे 4 जून 2009 को राष्ट्रपति प्रतिभा पाटिल ने दोनों सदनों की संयुक्त बैठक मेंघोषणा की कि सरकार विधानसभाओं और संसद में महिलाआरक्षण विधेयक को शीघ्र पारित कराने की दिशा मेंसौ दिन के भीतर कदम उठायेगी. संसद के दोनों सदनों को संबोधित करते हुए राष्ट्रपति प्रतिभा पाटिल ने महिलाआरक्षण को लेकर सरकार की मंशा सामने रखी.

राष्ट्रपति के अनुसार महिलाओ को वर्ग, जाति और महिला होने के कारण अनेक अवसरों से वंचित रहना पड़ता है. इसलिए पन्चायतों और शहरी स्थानीय निकाय में आरक्षण बढ़ाकर महिलाओं को 50 प्रतिशत आरक्षण देने केलिए अगले 100 दिन में संवैधानिक संशोधन करने के क़दम उठाए जाएँगे ताकि अधिक से अधिक महिलाएँसार्वजनिक क्षेत्र में प्रवेश कर सकें. सरकार अगले 100 दिनों में केंद्र सरकार की नौकरियों में भी महिलाओं काप्रतिनिधित्व बढ़ाने की कोशिश करेगी. इसके साथ-साथ बेहतर समन्वय के लिए महिला सशक्तिकरण पर एकराष्ट्रीय मिशन स्थापित करने का क़दम उठाया जाएगा.

15वीं लोकसभा ने कई मायनों मे इतिहास रचा है। नारी सशक्तीकरण अब राजनीतिक गलियारों का मुद्दा नही, बल्कि 15वीं लोकसभा की हकीकत है। यह पहला मौका है, जब संसद में प्रवेश करने वाली महिलाओं की संख्या 50 से अधिक है। यही नहीं सबसे बड़ी बात यह है कि भारत के इतिहास में पहली बार एक महिला को लोकसभाअध्यक्ष बनने का मौका मिला है। संसद में महिला आरक्षण का प्रश्न आज प्रत्येक व्यक्ति की चर्चाका विषय है।संसद और विधान मंडलों में महिलाओं को भी 33 प्रतिशत आरक्षण दिए जाने के उद्देश्य से 14वीं लोकसभा मेंवें संविधान संशोधन विधेयक ने देश के जनमत को फिर चैतन्य कर दिया था 108

महिलाओं को राजनीतिक सशक्तीकरण और लैंगिक असमानता दूर करने के उद्देश्य से राज्यसभा में रखा गयाविधेयक इस रास्ते का पहला प्रयास नहीं था। तत्कालीन प्रधानमंत्री राजीव गाँधी ने प्रधानमंत्रित्वक काल में भी इसमोर्चे पर चिंतन हुआ था। पंचायती राज संस्थाओं और स्थानीय निकायों को संविधान में स्थान देने की योजनाबनाते समय संसद और विधान मंडलों के लिए भी ऐसे ही कदम की रूपरेखा बनी थी। बाद में प्रयास फलीभूत नहींहुआ।

महिला आरक्षण की त्रासदी
देश मे आधी आबादी (महिलाएं) पिछले एक दशक से अपना प्रतिनिधित्व बढाने की मांग कर रही हैं लेकिन पुरूषप्रधान राजनीति संसद में महिला आरक्षण विधेयक पारित नहीं होने दे रही। यह अप्रत्याशित और सुखद है किपन्द्रहवीं लोकसभा में उपेक्षित महिला वर्ग का प्रतिनिधित्व बढा है। यह पहला मौका है जब 58 महिलाएं लोकसभामें पहुंची हैं, जो अब तक का सर्वाधिक आंकडा है। इस बार कुल 556 ने चुनाव लडा था। उत्तर प्रदेश से सबसे ज्यादापश्चिम बंगाल से 7 और राजस्थान से 3 महिला सांसद चुनी गई हैं।
14वीं लोकसभा में देशभर में 355 महिला उम्मीदवार चुनावी रणक्षेत्र में कूदी थी। इनमें से महज 45 लोकसभा मेंपहुंच पाई, जो 543 सदस्यीय सदन का 10 फीसदी भी नहीं है। नई लोकसभा में पिछली की तुलना में 13 महिलाएंज्यादा है 12,

दस साल पहले महिलाओं को विधानसभा और संसद में 33 फीसदी आरक्षण देने का शिगूफा छोडा गया। यह घोरविडंबना है कि महिला आरक्षण का ज्वलंत मुद्दा पिछले करीब एक दशक में किसी किसी तरीके से लम्बित होतारहा है। राजनीतिक दल भी गाहे--गाहे, महिला आरक्षण का राग अलापते रहे हैं। लगभग सभी पार्टियों के चुनावीघोषणा-पत्र में महिला आरक्षण पर अमल का वादा किया जाता है। प्रधानमंत्री रहते एच.डी. देवेगौडा और अटलबिहारी वाजपेयी ने महिला आरक्षण बिल पेश किया। पास कराने की कोशिश भी हुई, लेकिन सफलता नहीं मिली।सरकारें आती जाती रहीं, प्रधानमंत्री बदलते रहे। यह विधेयक 1996 से अब तक कई बार लोकसभा में पेश हो चुकाहै, लेकिन आम सहमति के अभाव में यह पारित नहीं हो सका। 12वीं और 13वीं लोकसभा में दो बार बिल कोराजग शासनकाल में प्रस्तुत किया गया। यूपीए सरकार के कार्यकाल में महिला आरक्षण विधेयक आगे नहीं बढा।आम सहमति बन पाने को कारण बताकर महिला विधेयक को एक प्रकार से ठण्डे बस्ते में डाल दिया गया।

आज भी महिलाओं को संसद और विधानसभा में उचित प्रतिनिधित्व प्राप्त नहीं हैं। अन्तर संसदीय संघ (इंटरपार्लियामेंटरी यूनियन) के अनुसार विश्वभर की संसदों में सिर्फ 17.5 प्रतिशत महिलाएं हैं। ग्यारह देशों की संसदोंमें तो एक भी महिला नहीं है और 60 देशों में दस प्रतिशत से कम प्रतिनिधित्व है। अमरीका और यूरोप में बीसप्रतिशत प्रतिनिधित्व है, जबकि अफ्रीका एवं एशियाई देशों में 16 से 10 प्रतिशत। अरब देशों में महिलाओं काप्रतिनिधित्व सिर्फ़ 9.6 प्रतिशत है। महिलाओं को प्रतिनिधित्व देने के मामले में 183 देशों में रवांडा पहले नम्बरपर है। वहां संसद में 48.8 फीसदी महिलाएं हैं। संसद में महिलाओं को प्रतिनिधित्व देने के मामले में भारत दुनियामें 134वें स्थान पर है।

अधिकांश पुरूष सांसद महिला सशक्तिकरण की बात जरूर करते हैं, पर समाज की "आधी आबादी" के लिए त्यागकरने के लिए तैयार नहीं हैं। इस मुद्दे पर राजनीतिक दलों की कथनी और करनी में अंतर दिखता है। आरक्षण सही राजनीतिक दल महिलाओं को ज्यादा से ज्यादा टिकट देने लगें तो भी महिलाओं की संख्या संसद में बढेगी।पन्द्रहवीं लोकसभा इसका उदाहरण है।

महिला आरक्षण क्यों?
भारत में महिलाओं को सम्मान और समानता की विचारधारा उतनी ही सशक्त रही है जितनी कि इनके साथअसमानता की। समय बीतने के साथ पुरुष प्रधान समाज ने ना मालूम कैसे रवैये में परिवर्तन कर लिया और नारीभी इसकी आदी हो गई। सती सावित्री, अहिल्या देवी, महारानी लक्ष्मीबाई, रानी दुर्गावती, अदिति पंत, बछेंद्री पाल, किरण बेदी, कल्पना चावला भारतीय महिलाओं के रोल मॉडल हैं। वह कौन-सा कार्य है, जो 'प्रस्तावित 33 फीसदीवर्ग' ने नहीं कर दिखाया है। पंचायती राज और स्थानीय निकाय संबंधी 73वें और 74वें संविधान संशोधन विधेयकके अधिनियमित होने के बाद तो महिलाओं की आवाज इस मुद्दे पर और सशक्त हो चली है। धरातली संस्थानो में तोमहिलाओं के लिए आरक्षण है, किंतु इनके लिए कानून बनाने वाले संस्थानों में नहीं। महिला आरक्षण के लिए तर्ककम वजनदार नहीं हैं। महिलाएँ, त्याग, समर्पण, संसाधनों के पुनर्चक्रण (रिसाइक्लिंग) के बेजोड़ उदाहरण सामनेरखती हैं। संसाधनों का इस्तेमाल पुरुषों की तुलना मे महिलाएँ अधिक बेहतर ढंग से करती हैं। पंचायती राजसंस्थानों में 'मैडम सरपंच' के लिए स्थान बनाते समय इन्हीं बिंदुओं पर गंभीरता से विचार हुआ था। अबसंवैधानिक संस्थानों के लिए भी ऐसी व्यवस्था जोरदार ढंग से अनुभव हो रही है। समाज की तरह राजनीति में भीपुरुष वर्चस्व है और वर्चस्व के इस दंभ ने स्त्रियों को बढ़ने नहीं दिया। महिला अपने बल पर कहीं पर खड़ी हो, यहउसे बरदाश्त नहीं होता।

महिलाओं के उत्थान के लिए यह विधेयक आवश्यक है। लेकिन इसमें भी संशय है कि यह सिर्फ आम बिल बनकररह जाएगया महिलाओं को हक दिलाने में कारगर भी होगा। इस बिल के पेश होने के बाद उम्मीद है कि महिलाएंअब आत्मविश्वास के साथ अपने हक की मांग करें। अपने अधिकारों को कानूनी रूप से प्राप्त करने के लिए वे स्वयंआगे आएं। कितने आश्चर्य की बात है कि इतने चुनावों के बाद भी महिलाओं की सत्ता में भागीदारी नगण्य है।

ऊंचे ओहदों पर सिर्फ इक्का-दुक्का महिलाएं मिलती हैं। जब भी महिलाओं को कुछ देने की बात आती है, चाहे वहनौकरी हो, शीर्ष पद हो या उनके अन्य अधिकार, हम उन्हें कृपापात्र बना देते हैं। हम उन्हें उनका हक भी ऐसे देते हैं, जैसे खैरात दे रहे हों। अगर व्यावहारिक रूप से अपने समाज के अंदर ही देखें, तो हम पाते हैं कि महिलाओं कोउनके कानूनी हक देना भी हम गवारा नहीं करते, देते भी हैं, तो एक कृपा के तौर पर। बेटी अगर पिता की संपत्ति मेंअपना हिस्सा मांगती है, तो कहा जाता है कि कैसी बेटी है। लालची है। लोग उस पर उंगलियां उठाते हैं। जबकि यहउसका कानूनी अधिकार है। पर अमूमन समाज में होता यही है कि संपत्ति सिर्फ बेटों में बांट दी जाती है और बेटियोंको 'पराया धन' मानकर उसी दिन घर से अलग कर दिया जाता है, जब उनकी शादी होती है। यही हाल विधवा कोअधिकार देने में है। इसमें भी समाज कोताही करता है। दरअसल, महिलाओं को अधिकार तो चाहिए, लेकिन कृपाके अंतर्गत नहीं, बल्कि उन्हें यह न्याय के अंतर्गत चाहिए। दरअसल, समाज की तरह राजनीति में भी पुरुष वर्चस्वहै और वर्चस्व के इस दंभ ने स्त्रियों को बढ़ने नहीं दिया। महिला अपने बल पर कहीं पर खड़ी हो, यह उसे बरदाश्तनहीं होता। पंचायती राज में महिलाएं ग्राम प्रधान तो बनीं, लेकिन वे कितना स्वतंत्र निर्णय लेती हैं? इस दृष्टि से तोमहिलाओं को 33 प्रतिशत आरक्षण मिल जाता है, तो भी यह नाकाफी है। क्योंकि अभी तक महिलाओं और पुरुषोंकी बराबरी की भागीदारी में बहुत भारी अंतराल है।

महिलाओं को पचास प्रतिशत की भागीदारी मिलनी चाहिए, तभी इस खाई को समतल करने की दिशा में बढ़ा जासकता है। जब महिलाओं को आधा जगत कहा जाता है, सृष्टि ने जब उन्हें बराबरी का हक दिया है, तो हम उन्हेंआधा हिस्सा क्यों नहीं दे सकते? स्त्रियों को कृपाभाजन बनाने की प्रवृत्ति और मानसिकता को त्यागना होगा। सृष्टिका असंतुलन दूर करने के लिए उन्हें उनका उतना हक साधिकार देना होगा, जितना उनके विकास के लिए जरूरीहै। राजनीति में स्त्री को जब भी कोई पद मिलता है, तो उसे या तो पति के दिवंगत होने पर मिलता है या पिता केदिवंगत होने पर। बड़ी से बड़ी सत्तासीन महिलाओं को उनका पद इमोशनल कारणों से मिलता है। अनुग्रह की वजहसे मिलता है। यह स्त्रियों के स्वाभिमान पर चोट है और उनके लिए अपमानजनक है।

स्त्री जब भी अपने अधिकार के लिए आगे आती है, तो उसे वह स्थान नहीं मिलता। वह चाहे राजनीतिक पार्टियों केटिकटों के बंटवारे का मामला हो या फिर नौकरी में आरक्षण का। किसी महिला को महत्वपूर्ण जगह मिल भी गई, तो उसे पुरुषवादी मानसिकता का चतुर्दिक सामना करना पड़ता है। उसे उसी पध्दति के भीतर रहना पड़ता है। वहअपनी आवाज उठाती है, तो उसे महत्वपर्ण जगह से हटा दिया जाता है। किरण बेदी के साथ भी तो यही हुआ। यहस्थिति तब तक बनी रहेगी, जब तक समाज के नजरिये में फर्क नहीं आएगा। समाज का मौजूदा नजरिया तोस्त्रियों को बर्दाश्त करने वाला है। कन्या भ्रूण हत्या के मामले आते रहते यदि यही सोच पूरे समाज की हो गई, तोउसके अस्तित्व का संकट भी हमारे सामने है। समाज की मानसिकता बदलने की जरूरत है। समाज को बदलने कीपहल भी महिलाओं को ही करनी होगी। महिलाओं को शिक्षित होना पड़ेगा। शिक्षा से साहस आता है।

इसलिए महिलाओं और समाज को भी साहसी होना पड़ेगा। महिलाओं को जोखिम उठाना होगा। आज महिलाओंको 'अच्छी महिला' होने का प्रमाण पत्र लेने के लिए तमाम कष्ट उठाने पड़ते हैं। वे अपने समर्थन के सुरक्षा चक्र मेंघूमती रहती हैं। जाने कितनी रूढ़ियां उनके खिलाफ खड़ी हुई हैं, जो पूर्णत: पुरुषवादी हैं। लेकिन जब हम वृहत्तरसमाज के बारे में सोचते हैं, तो उसकी प्रगति के लिए जरूरी है कि एक भागीदारी तो सुनिश्चित हो। इसके लिएआरक्षण जरूरी है। जहां तक इस विधेयक की बात है, तो संदेह है कि इसे स्वीकृति मिल भी गई, तब भी यहप्रभावपूर्ण तरीके से लागू हो पाएगा। क्योंकि महिलाओं को अधिकार देने की बात आती है, तो उसके पक्ष में कमऔर विपक्ष में बहुसंख्य लोग खड़े हो जाते हैं। कानून हमारे यहां हैं, लेकिन उनकी परिणति क्या होती है? बलात्कारजैसे जघन्य अपराध की एफआईआर तक को प्राथमिकता नहीं दी जाती। सच कहें, तो स्त्री को अधिकार मिलने मेंकानून, कागज और कार्रवाई के बीच बड़े अंतराल हैं। इन अंतरालों को हमें पाटना पड़ेगा। कोई कानून तभी प्रभावीहोता है, जब सदिच्छा से उसे लागू किया जाए।

बाधायें
वर्तमान राजनीतिक समीकरण में रोचक तथ्य यह है कि संप्रग के समर्थन में राजग प्रमुख भाजपा अपना समर्थनलिए खड़ी है। वामदल भी आरक्षण विधेयक के समर्थक हैं। राजद, द्रमुक, पीएमके दलित, पिछड़ा वर्ग औरअल्पसंख्यक महिलाओं के लिए भी आरक्षण चाहता है। सपा भी कोटे में कोटे की पक्षधर है। इस विधेयक के रास्तेमें कई तकनीकी परेशानियाँ हैं क्योंकि यह संविधान में संशोधन करने वाला विधेयक है. ग्यारहवीं लोकसभा मेंपहली बार विधेयक पेश हुआ था तो उस समय उसकी प्रतियां फाड़ी गई थीं. इसके बाद 13वीं लोकसभा में भी तीनबार विधेयक पेश करने का प्रयास हुआ, लेकिन हर बार हंगामे और विरोध के कारण ये पेश नहीं हो सका था. महिला आरक्षण विधेयक एक संविधान संशोधन विधेयक है और इसलिए इसे दो तिहाई बहुमत से पारित कियाजाना ज़रूरी है.

राजनीतिक दल और महिलाएं
महिला मतदाता और महिला प्रत्याशी के साथ एक और बात की चर्चा होती है, वह है राजनीतिक दलों के घोषणापत्रों में महिलाएं। अर्थात पार्टियां महिलाओं के जीवन में कितनी खुशहाली लाने का वादा करती हैं। यह भी सच हैकि महिलाएं घोषणाएं पढकर मतदान नहीं करतीं। बहुत कम महिला मतदाताओं को चुनावी घोषणा का अर्थ पताहै। दरअसल किसी भी पार्टी का घोषणा पत्र उसका ऎसा दस्तावेज होना चाहिए जो समाज के हर क्षेत्र के बारे में पार्टीका दर्शन, दृष्टि और कार्यक्रम प्रस्तुत करे। घोषणा पत्र से मनसा, वाचा, कर्मणा उसका संकल्प प्रकट हो, पर ऎसाहोता कहां है। अधिकांश राजनीतिक दल स्वयं अपने घोषणापत्रों के बारे में विशेष चिंतित नहीं रहते। उन्हें भीमालूम है कि घोषणा पत्र के आधार पर उन्हें वोट नहीं मिलने वाले हैं। जहां तक इन चुनावी घोषणा पत्रों मेंमहिलाओं के लिए की गई घोषणाओं का सवाल है- प्रमुख पार्टी (सत्ताधारी) कांग्रेस के घोषणा पत्र (2009) में सारेके सारे बिन्दु वही रहे जो वर्ष 2004 के घोषणा पत्र में थे। जैसे लोकसभा और विधानसभाओं में आरक्षण पहलीघोषणा है। उसमें साफ लिखा था, "अगला लोकसभा चुनाव महिलाओं के 33 प्रतिशत आरक्षण मिलने के आधारपर ही करवाया जाएगा।" 2009 के चुनावी घोषणा में लिखा था- "लोकसभा और विधानसभा में महिलाओं के लिएएक तिहाई सीटें आरक्षित करने के लिए संविधान में संशोधन की कोशिश की जाएगी।"

दोनों संकल्पों में विषय एक है, आस्था बदली हुई। 2004 के लोकसभा चुनाव में संकल्प था। पांच वर्षों में संकल्पपूरा करने के लिए प्रयास भी नहीं हुआ। 2009 के घोषणा पत्र में "कोशिश करने" की बात लिखी गई अन्य 4 बिन्दु भी मिलते जुलते हैं। कमाल की बात है कि कांग्रेस के घोषणा पत्रों में महिलाओं के खाते में पांच बिन्दु हीनिश्चित हैं। क्या इतने से महिलाओं की समस्याएं समाप्त हो जाएंगी? सच तो यह है कि महिलाओं की विभिन्नसमस्याओं की ओर विशेष ध्यान ही नहीं दिया गया है। वरना समस्याएं स्थायी कैसे होतीं पाच वर्ष शासन करने केबाद भी लगभग उन्हीं पुराने बिन्दुओं को घोषणा पत्र में डालने की विवशता क्यों पिछली घोषणाओं में से कितनीपूरी हुई, इस बारे में कोई जानकारी नहीं है।

दूसरी प्रमुख राष्ट्रीय पार्टी है भाजपा। इस दल ने भी संसद में महिला आरक्षण को ही प्रथम घोषणा बनाया , परन्तुभाजपा ने महिलाओं की झोली में 14 बिन्दु दिए हैं। पिछले दिनों राजस्थान, .प्र. और छत्तीसगढ सरकारों द्वारासंचालित महिला लाभकारी योजनाओं को भी केन्द्रीय स्तर पर लेने का वादा किया गया। वहीं लैंगिग समानता केलिए समान नागरिक संहिता बनाने का वादा दुहराया गया। अन्य 12 बिन्दु भी विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में महिलाओं केजीवन को सशक्त बनाने का संकल्प दुहराते हैं। कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी (एम) ने भी अपने घोषणा पत्र में संसद में महिलाआरक्षण को ही प्राथमिकता दी थी। इनके छह बिन्दुओं में आर्थिक विकास के लिए अनुदान, बलात्कार के विरूद्धकानून, दहेज और कन्या भ्रूण हत्या का खात्मा, महिला बजट को बढाना, विधवाओं और महिला द्वारा संचालितपरिवारों को विशेष सुविधा देने के वादे दुहराए गए

विपक्ष का काम है कि वह संसद में सत्ता पक्ष को उसके वादों का स्मरण करवाए। एक और बात की ओर ध्यानदिलाना आवश्यक है। महिलाओं की क्षेत्र विशेष की समस्याएं भी होती हैं। अर्थात् उनकी सरकारों से अपेक्षाएं। इसपर विशेष ध्यान नहीं दिया जाता। घोषणा पत्रों के निर्माण के पूर्व महिलाओं की प्रतिनिधियों को विश्वास में नहींलिया जाता। उनसे संवाद ही नहीं होता। फिर तो घोषणाएं हैं, घोषणाओं का क्या जिन महिलाओं को मतदान कामहत्व ही नहीं पता वे घोषणाएं जानने-समझने का अपना अधिकार भी नहीं समझतीं। यह स्थिति बदलनीचाहिए।

घोषणापत्रों के निर्माण के पूर्व महिलाओं की प्रतिनिधियों को विश्वास में नहीं लिया जाता। उनसे संवाद ही नहीहोता। सत्य तो यह है कि महिला आरक्षण की चर्चा केवल दिखावटी है। कोई भी दल नहीं चाहता कि जिनका वे सदासे शोषण करते आए हैं वे उनके साथ आकर खड़ी हो जाए। इसी कारण २० साल से यह विषय मात्र चर्चा में ही है। नाकोई इसका विरोध करता है और ना खुलकर समर्थन। उसको लाने का सार्थक कदम तो बहुत दूर की बात है। उनकोलगता है कि नारी यदि सत्ता में आगई तो उनकी निरंकुशता कुछ कम हो जाएगी, उनकी कर्कशता एवं कठोरता परअंकुश लग जाएगा तथा महिलाओं पर अत्याचार रोकने पड़ेंगें आज समय की माँग है कि नारी को उन्नत्ति केसमान अवसर मिलें और खुशी-खुशी उसे उसके अधिकार दे दिए जाएँ।

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An Essay: Legalising Prostitution in India

Introduction
Welcome to a world trapped between 'illegal' and 'immoral': Prostitution might be illegal in India, but the business of life goes on. Calling it illegal is a superfluous formality and denouncing it as an immoral blotch on society. Recognizing it as a profession will at least reduce the real illegalities that come with it, like child prostitution, drug abuse, and crime.

National scenario
Societies in which prostitution is legal have concluded that it is best to regulate a profession, which will never disappear. India should learn from these societies, rather than pretend that prostitution doesn't exist here. Especially when figures reveal that the business of sex-workers takes a dip when it is vacation time for colleges. There are over 2.5 million prostitutes in India and a quarter of them are minors! Child prostitution is one of the issues facing our country today. The increasing incidence of the HIV virus is on the verge of a threshold, which, if crossed, could see the epidemic affecting, perhaps, everyone in the world. This profession makes the sex-worker the most vulnerable.

Global scenario
Globally prostitution is legal in Canada, France, Wales, Denmark, Holland, most of South America, including Mexico (often in special zones), Israel, Australia, and many other countries. It's either legal or tolerated in most of Asia; Australia has a sex-service company whose stocks are traded on the stock exchange.

Pros of legalisation
No governments, no matter how hard they have tried, have been successful in abolishing prostitution. Prostitution is a reality and the chances of eliminating it are practically nil. By legalising prostitution, we also legalise the fight against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the AIDS epidemic. Just like laws have managed to do with untouchability, legalising prostitution will give dignity to sex-workers and save them from living as second grade citizens. A separate hub can be created for it and health of sex workers can be monitored. Legalisation will deter police from extorting money from the helpless sex workers who are forced to give a part of their income to the policemen to let them live in peace. Legalisation of the profession will at least give a human face to the profession, where prostitutes are, otherwise, are treated as outcastes.

Norms should be laid out for registration in terms of space, hygiene and medical facilities available. There should be periodical medical check-ups, and it must be made mandatory for every individual in the profession to possess a proper health certificate. Brothels should also be taxed like any other business house, and a certain amount should be earmarked by the government for providing medical facilities to sex workers. Their families and especially their children should be taken care of. A rehabilitation programme for sex workers wanting to opt out should also be worked out. Sex workers should be made to work only in the alloted areas or zones. Brothels must be situated away from residential areas and educational institutions.

In India women are forced into prostitution due to poverty and illiteracy. So women in this profession become carriers of AIDS and other deadly diseases. To combat with this situation, women’s organisations can be brought in to work at the grass-root level and to form a link between the sex workers and the government.

Cons of legalisation
As it is said, “Every coin has two sides.” Legalisation too has some shortcomings: Legalising prostitution would benefit the facilitators and the pimps, not their victims. In India, where women are coerced into the trade and kept in it almost like bonded labour, such a move will not benefit them. Commercial sexual exploitation is a form of slavery and slavery cannot be legalized. India should not compare itself with other Wesren countries, where prostitution enjoys legal status because our societal customs are most unlike those in the West. Since abortion is illegal in India, there is no question of legalising prostitution. So giving this business a legal status only means society is giving approval to the flesh trade. Some critics say, prostitution wrecks personality and affects marriage relationships. Prostitution affects family life, communicates diseases and thus brings social disorganization.

Conclusion
Closeting the flourishing profession of prostitution as a morality issue not only amounts to ignoring the exploitation of the commercial sex-workers, who feed on the income they generate, but the larger issue of AIDS. What is required is a practical approach. By according legitimacy to the sex-worker, millions of women who enter into this trade to feed their families will be freed from the clutches of pimps, brothel-owners and cops on the take. Legalising prostitution will see these women, who live life on the edge everywhere, gaining access to medical facilities, which can control the spread of AIDS. Timely sex education to sex workers can make them aware of venereal diseases attached with this profession. Employment opportunities for women, who have no alternative than to enter this profession, can play wonders. Removal of widow marriage, the social custom that is still followed in most of the Indian villages, can help curb prostitution.

There is a very strong need to treat the sex industry as any other industry and empower it with legal safeguards, which would rid this workplace of exploitative and unhealthy practices. The rising number of AIDS cases in India and the number of innocents being forced into the flesh trade are alarming. The time has come for lawmakers to be more serious about this issue. Legalisation is the answer.

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An Essay: Child Labour in India

Introduction

Child Labour, consisting of children below 14 years of age, is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as “the type of work performed by children that deprives them of their childhood and their dignity, which hampers their access to education and acquisition of skills and which is performed under conditions harmful to their health and their development”. Children are the greatest gift to humanity and the same gift is being misused for personal gains as child labour. They constitute 36% of India’s population but a large majority of children in the age group of 5-14 years continue to remain in distress and turmoil. One in every five children below the age of 14 is a labourer. The flower (Child) withers before it blossoms.

Magnitude of the problem

Child labour is more a rural phenomenon than an urban phenomenon. Due to acute poverty poor families residing in rural areas send their children to urban areas for bread and butter. In urban areas, to survive in a cutthroat competition, manufacturers have lowered the real wages for adult workers in order to employ child workers on low wages. The problem is very much vast in its dimension. Children are forced to work in the most hazardous, unhygienic conditions, where they are vulnerable to many severe health problems.

Causes of Child Labour

In a country like India where over 40 percent of the population is living in conditions of extreme poverty, child labour is a complex issue. Following are some of the causes of child labour.

First Extreme poverty is the chief cause of child labour. The children either supplement their parents’ income or are the only wage earners in the family.

Second Child labour is deliberately created by vested interest to get cheap labour.

Third Low level of parental education is also an important factor in determining the incidence of child labour.

Fourth A majority of parents prefer to send their children to work rather than to school at the school-going age, primarily on account of their need for a supplementary income.

Measures to combat Child Labour

Child labour is a universal problem and as a citizen of India we must strive to take stern actions against child labour.

Role of NGOs: NGOs have an important role to play in the elimination of child labour. Government does not have the infrastructure to reach every section of the society and particularly the millions who work and live in remote areas. NGOs can act as a bridge between hard-to-reach areas and the government.

Role of Media: The role of media in elimination of child labour is one of the most important components of the process of total human development. The media should expose defaulting firms or business houses that clandestinely employ children and violate laws relating to child labour.

The government should give certain monetary or if need be non-monetary incentives to the families that live Below Poverty Line (BPL) to avoid child labour so that their children can be sent to school.

Effective state intervention to eliminate inequities, including class and caste barriers to employment and other opportunities in areas such as health and education, will put an end to child labour.

Conclusion

Child labour is an international evil. It requires cumulative efforts to wipe it out. Toiling long hours for a pittance, these little breadwinners accept exploitation as a way of life. The government on this front has also taken a few steps. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the International Programme for Elimination of Child Labours in 1991 and India was the first to join the same in 1992. But still the problem persists due to poor implementation of the plans and programmes. The need of the hour is to expand the machinery for enforcing the various laws on child labour. There is a plethora of laws but nothing can eradicate child labour unless there is awareness among parents and children, which will go a long way in saving the future of millions of working children in India. Lastly instead of blaming the "supply side", we must focus on the "demand side".

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An Essay: Corruption in India

Introduction

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It is not easy to define corruption. But in a narrow sense, corruption is mostly concerned with ‘bribery’ and it takes several forms. Corruption is a global phenomenon and it is omnipresent. Corruption has progressively increased and is now rampant in our society.

National scenario

Corruption in India is a consequence of the nexus between Bureaucracy, politics and criminals. India is now no longer considered a soft state. It has now become a consideration state where everything can be had for a consideration. Today, the number of ministers with an honest image can be counted on fingers. At one time, bribe was paid for getting wrong things done but now bribe is paid for getting right things done at right time.

Effects of corruption

Indian administration is tainted with scandals. India is among 55 of the 106 countries where corruption is rampant, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2004 Report released by Transparency International India. Corruption in India leads to promotion not prison. It is very difficult to catch ‘big sharks’. Corruption in India has wings not wheels. As nation grows, the corrupt also grow to invent new methods of cheating the government and public.

Causes of corruption

The causes of corruption are many and complex. Following are some of the causes of corruption.

· Emergence of political elite who believe in interest-oriented rather than nation-oriented programmes and policies.

· Artificial scarcity created by the people with malevolent intentions wrecks the fabric of the economy.

· Corruption is caused as well as increased because of the change in the value system and ethical qualities of men who administer. The old ideals of morality, service and honesty are regarded as an achronistic.

· Tolerance of people towards corruption, complete lack of intense public outcry against corruption and the absence of strong public forum to oppose corruption allow corruption to reign over people.

· Vast size of population coupled with widespread illiteracy and the poor economic infrastructure lead to endemic corruption in public life.

· In a highly inflationary economy, low salaries of government officials compel them to resort to the road of corruption. Graduates from IIMs with no experience draw a far handsome salary than what government secretaries draw.

· Complex laws and procedures alienate common people to ask for any help from government.

· Election time is a time when corruption is at its peak level. Big industrialist fund politicians to meet high cost of election and ultimately to seek personal favour. Bribery to politicians buys influence, and bribery by politicians buys votes. In order to get elected, politicians bribe poor illiterate people, who are slogging for two times’ meal.


Measures to combat corruption

Is it possible to contain corruption in our society? Corruption is a cancer, which every Indian must strive to cure. Many new leaders when come into power declare their determination to eradicate corruption but soon they themselves become corrupt and start amassing huge wealth.

There are many myths about corruption, which have to be exploded if we really want to combat it. Some of these myths are: Corruption is a way of life and nothing can be done about it. Only people from underdeveloped or developing countries are prone to corruption. We will have to guard against all these crude fallacies while planning measures to fight corruption.

· Foolproof laws should be made so that there is no room for discretion for politicians and bureaucrats. The role of the politician should be minimized. Application of the evolved policies should be left in the hands of independent commission or authority in each area of public interest. Decision of the commission or authority should be challengeable only in the courts.

· Cooperation of the people has to be obtained for successfully containing corruption. People should have a right to recall the elected representatives if they see them becoming indifferent to the electorate.

· Funding of elections is at the core of political corruption. Electoral reforms are crucial in this regard. Several reforms like: State funding of election expenses for candidates; strict enforcement of statutory requirements like holding in-party elections, making political parties get their accounts audited regularly and filing income-tax returns; denying persons with criminal records a chance to contest elections, should be brought in.

· Responsiveness, accountability and transparency are a must for a clean system. Bureaucracy, the backbone of good governance, should be made more citizen friendly, accountable, ethical and transparent.

· More and more courts should be opened for speedy & inexpensive justice so that cases don’t linger in courts for years and justice is delivered on time.

· Local bodies, Independent of the government, like Lokpals, Lokadalats, CVCs and Vigilance Commissions should be formed to provide speedy justice with low expenses.

· A new Fundamental Right viz. Right to Information should be introduced, which will empower the citizens to ask for the information they want. Barring some confidential information, which concerns national and international security, other information should be made available to general public as and when required. Stringent actions against corrupt officials will certainly have a deterrent impact.


Conclusion

Corruption is an intractable problem. It is like diabetes, can only be controlled, but not totally eliminated. It may not be possible to root out corruption completely at all levels but it is possible to contain it within tolerable limits. Honest and dedicated persons in public life, control over electoral expenses could be the most important prescriptions to combat corruption. Corruption has a corrosive impact on our economy. It worsens our image in international market and leads to loss of overseas opportunities. Corruption is a global problem that all countries of the world have to confront, solutions, however, can only be home grown. We have tolerated corruption for so long. The time has now come to root it out from its roots.

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An Essay: Role of media in a democracy

Introduction

Democracy means ‘A system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives’. Media came into existence in 1780 with the introduction of a newspaper namely ‘The Bengal Gazette’ and since then it has matured leaps and bounds. It has been playing a very important role in shaping human minds.

Role of media

Media plays a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy. It is the backbone of a democracy. Media makes us aware of various social, political and economical activities happening around the world. It is like a mirror, which shows us or strives to show us the bare truth and harsh realities of life.

The media has undoubtedly evolved and become more active over the years. It is the media only who reminds politicians about their unfulfilled promises at the time of elections. T.V news channels’ excessive coverage during elections helps people, especially illiterates, in electing the right person to the power. This reminder compels politicians to be upto their promises in order to remain in power.

Television and radio have made a significant achievement in educating rural illiterate masses in making them aware of all the events in their language. Coverage of exploitative malpractices of village heads and moneylenders has helped in taking stringent actions against them by attracting government’s attention.

The media also exposes loopholes in the democratic system, which ultimately helps government in filling the vacuums of loopholes and making a system more accountable, responsive and citizen-friendly. A democracy without media is like a vehicle without wheels.

In the age of information technology we are bombarded with information. We get the pulse of the world events with just a click of a mouse. The flow of information has increased manifolds. The perfect blend of technology and human resources (journalist) has not left a single stone unturned in unearthing rampant corruption in politics and society. We all are well aware of what tehelka did. Thanks to technology that has brought a kind of revolution in journalism.

Impact of media

The impact of media is really noteworthy. Excessive coverage or hype of sensitive news has led to communal riots at times. The illiterates are more prone to provocations than the literates. Constant repetition of the news, especially sensational news, breeds apathy and insensitivity. For instance, In Dhananjoy Chatterjee case, the overloaded hype led to death of quite a few children who imitated the hanging procedure which was repeatedly shown in most of the T.V. news channels. There is a plethora of such negative impacts. Media should take utmost care in airing or publishing such sensational news.

Commercialization has created a stiff competition in media. In order to outdo each other print media has often gone one step further in publishing articles, cover stories, etc. on sex.
Media experts say this is one of the means of attracting readers who are glued to T.V. news channels, which have cropped up swiftly in a recent past and they believe this is a cheap form of journalism.

Conclusion

No one is perfect in this world and so is the media. Here I am not degrading the media, rather I would say there is still a lot of scope for improvement by which media can raise upto the aspirations of the people for which it is meant. I cannot think of a democracy without active and neutral media. Media is like a watchdog in a democracy that keeps government active. From being just an informer it has become an integral part of our daily lives. With the passage of time it has become a more matured and a more responsible entity. The present media revolution has helped people in making an informed decisions and this has led to beginning of a new era in a democracy.

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An Essay: Tsunami

"I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me" - Abraham Lincoln.

Magnitude of the disaster

The Tsunami has once again demonstrated the fury of nature and the tragedy it can cause. It showed us that nature could be as harsh as it is benevolent. The Tsunami, an extraordinary calamity of unprecedented proportions, is a reminder that no matter how much wealth or power man acquires, he is still at the mercy of the elements. The havoc created by tsunami can never be forgotten. The most powerful earthquake in 40 years quickly turned into one of the worst disasters in a century, as walls of water crashed ashore across South Asia. The number of human casualties, mostly children and women, is horrible and is increasing with the passage of time. Every person you meet in the tsunami-hit area has his own story to tell but no one is there to listen him or her.

In poor countries, living is so hand-to-mouth that there is scant time to think about the distant future. This dreadful disaster of such a vast dimension has led to outbreak of diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis, hepatitis B, malaria, and dengue fever. It (tsunami) ravaged some of the most fragile economies in Burma, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Religion and Science

Today, in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, we are caught up in the same debate between traditional beliefs and scientific solution. The fisherfolk, despite devastation caused to them by the sea, are offering traditional prayers to the goddess called Gangamma, believed to be their protector. They think that sea goddess is angry due to their past sins and now needs to be appeased. Fisherfolk is badly riddled with ancient superstitions.

Role of India

India refused aid from foreign governments and assured them that India has enough to meet its requirements. In expression of neighbourly solidarity and sympathy, India offered a helping hand to affected neighbour countries despite It's own problems. The loss of critical infrastructure of less developed countries is a double blow. It makes getting assistance to victims that much more harder. Lack of coordination between government and relief agencies creates chaos and makes the mockery of the disaster management.

Corruption and disaster

Corruption has made its presence felt everywhere and everytime. It could be noticed in the leakage of foodgrains meant for tsunami victims into the open market. People with power have not let this opportunity go from their hands in exploiting the poor masses. It is disturbing to find officials insisting on death certificates for the payment of compensation to the family of those killed. Such administrative bottlenecks should be avoided. The humanitarian concerns are often absent in our government's policies of disaster management, as well as functioning of its agencies, which are supposed to provide relief to victims of disasters.

Role of defence forces

Defence forces played a crucial role in all aspects of the disaster. The active roles of defence forces that came to the rescue of the victims and helped build confidence among the affected people

Role of media

Media played an important role in tackling the agony and the pain of the tsunami victims. It is the media because of whom many people could get united. Star News, a TV news channel operating in India, went one step further. It put an L.C.D near a relief camp, which helped victims lessen their mental pain and distress. The media could have played a vital role in dispelling the impression of cynicism generated in the sections of Western media when India declined foreign aid.

On the other side of the fence, print media also violated the dignity of the dead by showing images of mass burial. The relatives of the affected people fiercely condemned this act. The excessive coverage of the visits of VIPs and famous personalities often hinders the relief work. Media should give minimum coverage to visits of these people so they will automatically stop coming because of lack of reward.

Conclusion

The need of the hour is to put the human back into humanitarian. Relief cannot be measured solely in monetary terms, because only a miniscule fraction or at times nothing reaches the needy. The boycott of used clothes and packet-food indicate that the victims need emotional and psychological touch and not just monetary and material relief. The victims desperately require a human contact to resettle their shattered emotional lives. The trauma of the disaster has engulfed the lives of affected people and they need to be given psychological counselling to help them come out of their severe trauma.

The lesson that I learnt from this dreadful disaster is that the Tsunami has reunited people and thrashed the inner egos. Tsunami removed the status-based divisions, having spared no section of the community. Individual acts of heroism, collective efforts that saved lives, nations coming together in the relief efforts are signs of hope.

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Legal Provisions for Protection and Conservation of Wildlife in India

The illegal trade in wildlife is a global issue. From animal parts, like tiger bones and musk glands to live reptiles, birds and ivory, poachers and smugglers illegally poach and traffic a variety of wild plant and animal species. The two major categories of traded items are live specimens of wildlife species and products from wildlife species.
The wildlife products mostly traded illegally from our country are musk, ivory Rhino horns, Tiger and Leopard skins and bones for oriental medicines and food; Snakes and Monitor Lizard skins, feathers for decoration turtle for meat and soups and Tibetan Antelope for shawls.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
 The Government enacted a comprehensive legislation “Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972” with objective of effective control by poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products.
 The Act has been amended in 1982, 1986, 1991, 2002, and in 2006 to make the provisions of the Act more stringent. Hunting of all species was banned in 1991.
 Realizing the global nature of the illegal wildlife trade, the “Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora” was signed at Washington on 3rd March, 1973. The Government deposited the instruments of ratification on 20th July, 1976. The provisions of the Convention and the export policy of the country if effectively used, provide the Government with adequate legislative powers to deal with illegal wildlife trade.
Legal Protection Measures against Hunting
Hunting of wild animals is prohibited except for exceptional circumstances. The Wildlife Act prescribes stringent punishment for hunting and illegal trade from fine to imprisonment. These includes:
i. For hunting and illegal trade in wild animals belonging to Schedule I and Part II of the Schedule II – Minimum 3 years imprisonment extendable to seven years and a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000/-
ii. For hunting and illegal trade in wild animals belonging to other Schedules – Imprisonment upto three years or a fine upto Rs. 25,000/- or both. Such offences can also be compounded, the amount of composition not exceeding Rs. 25,000/-
iii. For offences in relation to zoos, the punishment prescribed is imprisonment for upto six months or a fine of upto Rs. 2,000/- or with both.
iv. In addition to the above punishments, the court trying the offence may also order the forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon to cancel any wildlife license or permit held by the person, as well as cancel the Arms license and debar for an Arms license for a period of five years.
v. There is also a provision for Forfeiture of Property of offenders who are awarded sentence of three years or more of imprisonment.
Steps to Curb Poaching and Illegal Trade
The Government has taken many steps to curb poaching of wildlife and illegal trade.
A special co-ordination committee under the chairmanship of the Secretary (E&F) has been constituted. The CBI has been empowered to investigate wildlife offence cases as per the decision of this committee.
The States of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Meghalya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Tripura, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have formed the State level/District level co-ordination committees for the control of illegal trade, smuggling, trafficking of Wildlife and its products.
Special training is organized for the wildlife officers at the Sardar Vallabhai Police Academy, Hyderabad.
Regional meeting of Chief Wildlife Wardens, Southern states is periodically held to work out a joint strategy for protection of elephant and meetings with Principle Secretaries (Forests) and the Chief Wildlife Wardens of the States is held regularly in the Ministry to discuss the matters relating to wildlife conservation and prevention of illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Conservation and Protection Measures
By amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006, the Directorate of Project Tiger has become National Tiger Conservation Authority. It is to give impetus to the existing initiatives against illegal trade in wildlife especially tigers.
The Government has set up four Regional Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai to control illegal trade in wildlife and its products. These offices are responsible for import and export of wild animals and plants from the major airports and seaports. In addition, there are 3 more sub-regional offices located at Amritsar, Guwahati and Cochin to assist these regional offices in the responsibilities of controlling illegal trade. These offices have seized many important wildlife and products of precious and endangered wild animals, which were meant for trade in international market.
India is also a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and trade in wildlife and its product is governed by the Convention. Most of the endangered Indian wild animals species are covered under CITES Appendices and trade is permitted only after due consideration by the management and the technical authorities of the country.
A Special Co-ordination Committee with Secretary (Environment & Forests), as Chairman and Special Secretary (Home), Director, CBI and representative of the Chairman, Central Board of Excise & Customs has been created to ensure better co-ordination in the efforts to curb smuggling of wildlife products.
Training and Workshops of various enforcement agencies for effective intelligence gathering and law enforcement are also being conducted regularly.
India is a signatory to many international conventions responsible for protection of bio-diversity and its habitat. Important conventions include:

i. Convention on Biological Diversity
ii. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
iii. World Heritage Convention
iv. Convention on Migratory Species and
v. Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention)

Co-ordination with Neighbouring Countries
India has signed a Protocol with Republic of China for taking up joint measures to crack down illegal activities of poaching of tigers, smuggling and selling of tiger bones and their derivatives. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Nepal to establish a Joint Task Force to check Trafficking across borders.
Infrastructure-The problem of poaching has been compounded by the financial stringency prevailing in most of the states due to which total ban on new recruitment have been imposed and in certain case, there are 30 to 40 percent vacancies in the forest department. Funds for recurring expenditure like patrolling, maintenance of vehicles, sets and sometimes even for supply of uniforms are not available.
The modus operandi- Attracted by lucrative prices, organized mafias have entered the field of poaching and illegal trade of wildlife and its products. Shooting of animals by guns has given place to poisoning of animals. The carcass or the body parts of dead animals are then expeditiously transported to certain metros for processing and smuggling outside the country. The presence of forest department outside forest boundary is very notional and it is therefore likely, that significant number of cases go undetected.
As per the provisions of the amendments made in 2006, ‘National Tiger Conservation Authority’ has been formed. The constitution of National Wildlife Crime Bureau is also now included in the wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, through this amendment.
National Wildlife Crime Bureau (NWCB)
The Bureau is envisaged as a multi-disciplinary approach to combat the organized crime against wildlife and trade in wildlife and its derivatives. It will be headed by Additional Director General of Forest and will have its Headquarters at New Delhi and Regional Offices at Jabalpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata, Guwahati, Imphal and Amritsar.
Objectives of NWCB
1) To act as a multi agency unit with full time officer from Forest and Wildlife Departments and various para military forces ( Police, DRI, CBI, IB, ITBP, BSF), Customs.
2) To develop a National Level Policy for containing the trade, enforcement and capacity building of the State Forest Departments to carry out enforcement and investigation in a professional manner.
3) To implement the resolutions and decisions taken under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
4) To co-operate with the Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group, the World Customs Organisation, the CITES Tiger Enforcement Task Force and various other Law Enforcement Agencies inside the country.
5) To gather and analyze intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and Regional Enforcement Agencies for swift action to apprehend the criminals.
6) To undertake joint operations with counterpart agencies in other countries.
7) To maintain a data bank related to wildlife crimes .
8) To monitor trade and advise the on changes required in policy and legislation from time to time.
9) To develop infrastructure and capacity for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure better success of cases related to wildlife crimes.
There are five regional offices and five Border Units of the Bureau. The regional centers are at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and five border units are at Guwahati, Chandigarh, Bareilly, Siliguri and Gorakhpur.

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TAPPING SOLAR ENERGY

India is a sunny country with a solar energy potential of 20 mw every square km. At present, only a tiny fraction of it is being tapped. Solar energy can be used directly in two forms – producing heat or light. Production of light and electric current from the sun’s rays uses ‘photovoltaic technology’, which involves direct conversion of sunlight into electricity.

The thermal form, which is used for cooking, water heating or purification, drying and fruit ripening, distillation or producing steam for power generation, is more economical. Solar cookers are already well-known and popular. Solar cooking has been recommended even in the Rig Veda which says: ‘All edibles ripened or cooked in the sun’s rays change into super medicine, the amrita”.

Solar energy has every thing to recommend it. Unlimited and non-polluting. It will neither drain our mineral resources nor submerge large tracts under dam waters. If only it could be tapped cheaply. That is what technicians are trying to do the world over.

New Schemes

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy supports Research, Design and Development (RD&D) activities in New and Renewable Energy including solar energy in the country. Comprehensive guidelines for supporting and accelerating pace of Research, Design and Development leading to eventual manufacture and deployment of various Renewable Energy Systems including solar energy have been put in place.

An amount of Rs. 600 crore has been tentatively allocated for Research, Design and Development in the Energy Sector for the 11th Five Year Plan. During the last Five Year Plan period, Rs. 72.65 crore were spent for the same activities. The Ministry has financially sported about 600 RD&D Projects particularly in Solar Energy Sector.

New schemes have been launched by the Ministry in addition to implementation of ongoing schemes to encourage large-scale use of solar energy in the country during the 11th Five Year Plan Period. The new schemes include ‘Development of Solar Cities’ and ‘Demonstration Programme on MW size Grid Solar Power Generation’. In addition, Research and Development thrust areas for solar and other New and Renewable Energy Technologies for the 11th Five Year Plan period have also been identified and publicised through newspaper and website advertisements for further intensifying research and technology development in this area. Promotional measures taken by the Government and other associated agencies include publicity and awareness campaigns, amendment of building bye-laws for making the use of solar water heaters mandatory in certain categories of buildings, rebate in property tax/electricity tariff to the users of solar water heaters, etc.

Solar Energy Plants

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy promoted deployment of nine Solar Energy Plants during 2007-08 in six States of the Country. Out of this, Maharashtra tops the list with three Plants where as Jammu & Kashmir got two such Plants. Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Orissa and West Bengal each got one power plant during this period. The total capacity sanctioned for these plants is less than 2000 kwp. The capacity under implementation is more than 800 kwp.

Out of different Plant Projects, all the six States have received one Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant Project. The State of West Bengal has been sanctioned highest capacity of 945.0 kwp followed by Chhattisgarh with 646.8 kWp. Besides these Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra, each have been sanctioned Building Integrated Power Plants (BIPV) with total sanctioned capacity of 18 kWp and one each SPV Power Pack of total sanctioned capacity of 8 kWp.

The Ministry is promoting deployment of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants in different parts of the country under various programmes including remote village electrification programme by providing partial financial support. These projects are implemented through the state implementing agencies in their respective states. The total funds released to the state agencies are to the tune of Rs. 40 crore which includes funds for four ongoing projects also. These projects are likely to be completed during 2008-09.

The projects for installation of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants are considered by the Ministry on the basis of proposals submitted by the States, as per provisions of the scheme and availability of funds.

Non-polluting, requiring little maintenance, free from wear and tear caused by moving parts, solar power is the most promising form of energy for the future.

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