The North-Eastern part of India has for a long time been isolated from the rest of India. This is due to various factors like geographical terrain and ethnic differences. The Government of India in recent times has increased its presence through developmental projects while gradually reducing the military presence in the region. Despite these measures, the numerous separatist groups are uniting with each other for the coordinated achievement of their goals. This is a challenge to India as their presence is hindering economic development in the region. An efficient peace negotiation is a need of the hour.
Lok Sabha, in July this year, had passed Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in order to hasten the water disputes between the States. India occupies 2.4% of the World’s total land area and it consists of 18% of the world population with only 4% of the world’s renewable water resource. Furthermore, India’s water distribution is uneven – a situation favourable for an increase in the possibility of water-related conflicts. Due to these disputes, the local issues are prioritized of the superior issues of national importance. The sense of unity among the people of India is being jeopardized by these irksome issues. Thus, Inter-State Water Dispute (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a need of the hour as existing Act as not addressing the issue with needed efficiency.
The 14th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was held in September this year. India, along with the rest of the world, is facing crisis due to land degradation and desertification. The land degradation is not only affecting India economically but is also exacerbating the climate change events in the country. This conference seeks to answer the question on how to slow down the loss of land and biodiversity that threatens the global food security and hastens the climate change. Cooperative effort to combat land degradation is essential at this juncture as it is either directly or indirectly affecting the whole of the world. Taking this into consideration, the signatories of the Paris Agreement of 2015 have requested the IPCC to study the link between the land and climate change. According to these findings by the IPCC, the land degradation and climate change are inter-linked and unified efforts must be taken by the world to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
India and the US in the recent trade negotiations in New York have failed to even arrive at a limited trade deal. The deal staggered over the duties imposed by India on Information and Communication Technology Products. The US wanted the 20% duty on mobile and ethernet switches to be reduced or eliminated. Also, America had called for greater access to the Indian market for medical devices, diary and agricultural products. These are sensitive products in the political perspective for India as the current government has promised to make them affordable. If the Indian government loosens trade restriction on these products, the price of these products will be increased. India, on the other hand, had called for the restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences. As for the full-scale trade talks, it would involve sensitive issues like H1B visas, intellectual property and e-commerce. Currently, even limited trade deal between India and the United States seems to be a challenge. Both sides must put aside these minor differences for achieving the common strategic interests of both the nations.
India and Myanmar have recently signed an MoU after holding talks on a range of issues on joint military exercises and training provided to Myanmar Defence Services in India, joint maritime security surveillance and cooperation in new infrastructure projects. These talks are of vital importance given the growing influence of China in the region.
The democratic form of government ensures the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and opportunity, fraternity as well as the right to participate in political decision-making. Participation and control of governance by the people of the country, when the powers of the state are decentralized to the district, block and village levels form the core of Democratic Decentralization. Here, people can sit together, discuss their problems and suggest solutions and plan, execute as well as monitor the implementation of the programmes. It is called democratic decentralization.
The NITI Aayog, in 2017, had called for Competitive Cooperative Federalism to define the relationship between the Centre and the States. This concept puts the burden of transforming India into the hands of the State governments. In recent times, this concept has gained prominence following the participation of the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories in the presentation of the best practices in each of their jurisdictions. However, NITI Aayog must take the necessary steps to analyse the ground reality so as to provide equal grounds to all the states – including those that are economically and socially marginalized.
The Supreme Court recently criticised the verdict delivered by its two-judge bench in March 2018 that had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act and asked whether a judgement could be passed against the spirit of the Constitution.
Indicating that it would make certain orders to “bring-in equality” as per the provisions of law, the top court said people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are subjected to “discrimination” and “untouchability” even after over 70 years of Independence.
Taking a serious view of manual scavenging situation and deaths of SC/ST people engaged in such work, the top court said nowhere in the world people are sent to “gas chambers to die”.