Policy Briefs

The Global Politics of Indian Climate Policy

Ahead of the upcoming landmark Conference of Parties (COP – 21) in Paris in December 2015, India’s positionwill be under close scrutiny by the domestic as well as the international community. Being the third largestemitter of carbon dioxide, India owes a critical responsibility to the global community to engage in greenhousegas reductions, both substantively as well as symbolically. Historically, India’s position in the internationalclimate negotiations has been shaped by the development and justice arguments. With about 289 million peopleliving below the poverty line1 and a rapidly rising population, India’s long-held position in the United Nationsclimate change negotiations has been that it cannot afford to compromise with its economic developmentpriorities by leaving its vast sections of economically vulnerable population in a lurch.Underlying this argument is the rationale that the atmospheric carbon space needs to be justly appropriated bythe countries, based on considerations of justice and equity, as set forth in the principle of Common ButDifferentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDRRCs). There are two main arguments Indiahas put forward to undergird its position. First, historically, since the developed countries have appropriatedmassive amounts of carbon space in order to develop, they cannot now claim an equal share of it vis-a-vis thedeveloping countries. Second, presently, the distribution of emission rights should be determined in accordancewith the nature of emissions, that is, the survival emissions of the developing countries versus the luxuryemissions of the developed world2.

The Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2015

PART I. INTRODUCTION The Human DNA Profiling Bill was conceived by the DNA Profiling Advisory Committee established by the Department of Biotechnology in 2003. The first draft of the Bill was made in 2007 but was not tabled in the Parliament.[i] In 2012 a new version of the Bill was leaked into the public domain. According to media reports the latest draft of the Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2015 will be presented to Parliament in the current monsoon session. This Bill aims to create a National DNA data bank which would contain DNA samples of offenders, inter alia. The objective of the DNA Profiling Bill is to simplify criminal investigation at the outset, as there would now be a repository of DNA samples of offenders. These samples will also be used for identifying missing persons, unknown deceased persons, volunteers and suspects. Additionally there is an implicit suggestion throughout the Bill that the DNA profiling will be used beyond its intended purpose of just assisting Law Enforcement Agencies in their investigations and identification of missing persons. The provisions of the Bill further explain in detail about the functioning of the DNA data bank, maintenance of DNA samples, training of the staff in DNA laboratories and penalties in case of mishandling of the DNA samples. [i] Article (2012), ‘Rethinking DNA Profiling in India’, The Economic and Political Weekly, October 27, 2012. Available at http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/rethinking-dna-profiling-india.html (Accessed 31.7.2015)

Land Ordinance-2015

AMENDMENT OF LAND ACQUISITION ORDINANCE Key MessageAll restraints on taking land have been removed. As a result, a very large number of farmers and poor people will be thrown out oftheir land. The benefits they receive under the law will also be severely curtailed because of the exemption of the bulk of landacquisition from having to identify negative impacts on people through Social Impact Assessment. The overall impact of theOrdinance will be to increase social unrest arising from a massive increase in immediate displacement without careful considerationand mitigation of adverse impacts.The BJP led NDA Government, in order to appease its allies, incorporated some amendments to the Land Bill before introducingit in the Lok Sabha. Thus, the Right to Fair Settlement and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement(Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha on March 10, 2015. However, it was never introduced in theRajya Sabha. One day before the first Ordinance was to lapse, another Ordinance was re-promulgated on April 3, 2015 with PresidentPranab Mukherjee giving his assent to it.

NDA Government's Social Security Schemes

PART I: CONCERNS ABOUT NDA GOVERNMENT’S SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEMES Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)With the launch of the PMJDY, an attempt was made to take financial inclusion a step forward, however there is a lack of clarity on various aspects of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. There are concerns regarding:

  • Duplication of accounts: People who enrol under the PMJDY may have accounts elsewhere and could have been persuaded to open new ones because of the attached insurance cover.
  • Funding the overdraft facility: The scheme promises every account holder a RuPay debit card and an overdraft facility of Rs.5,000. But there is no clarity on how the expenses for this service would be met. It has been suggested that the overdraft facility will be guaranteed by a Rs 1,000 crore fund from NABARD. But this may not be sufficient if the overdraft facility really takes off. Assuming one account each for 7.5 crore households, an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 each amounts to Rs 37,500 crore. Even if one is to assume a risk proportion of 20-25 percent, it would imply a minimum of Rs7,000 crore loss to the banking sector.
  • Lack of clarity over the insurance cover – There exists lack of information on two important aspects: 
    1. the maturity of the insurance cover is not specified
    2. who would bear the burden of the premium  is uncertain

NDA Government’s “Smart City” Scheme

NDA’S SMART CITIES MISSIONOn the 25th of June 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three government flagship schemes aimed atchanging the face of urban India -Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and UrbanTransformation (AMRUT) and Housing for All Mission—with an expected expenditure of around Rs.4 trillionover the next few years.Some Important Features of the Smart City Mission are:

Union Budget & Allocation to DONER

Budgetary Allocation to Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) The total expenditure in DoNER has increased by Rs. 537.29 crore from Rs. 2362.74 crores in 2014-15 (RE) to Rs. 1825.45 crore in 2015-16 (BE). This shows about 29.4% rise in Ministry of Development of North East Region.DONER Ministry’s share in total expenditure of Union Budget also has increased marginally from 0.11% to 0.13% during 2014-15 (Rs. 1681158 crore) to 2015-16 (Rs. 1777477 crore) (See Table 1 below).

Issue Brief-Anti-SC ST Policy Actions of NDA Government

KEY MESSAGES1. The NDA Government is actively reversing the Pro SC/ST Policies of the UPA government and focusing all its energies on Pro-Industry Policies.2. The anti SC/ST actions of the NDA government have left these groups even more vulnerable.3. They have created space for people to carry out atrocities against the vulnerable sections of society, i.e. the SCs & STs, with greater impunity.4. By withdrawing certain government policies and starving others of funds, the NDA government is making a deliberate effort to perpetuate the existing social order of caste supremacy, and actively preventing the egalitarian change that is required to create a just social order based on equality.The following actions taken in the last one year are proof of the real intent of the NDA government as far as the SC/ST communities are concerned:

Union Budget 2015-16 and Allocation for Ministry of Women & Child Development

Key Messages The total expenditure in Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD) has drastically declinedby 45.1% from Rs.18 thousand crores in 2014-15 (RE) to Rs. 10 thousand crore in 2015-16 (BE). The decline in the total expenditure is mainly on account of decline in the plan expenditure (45.3%decline). The total plan expenditure has now been divided into two broad components namely, Total CentralAssistance to State Plans and Major Programmes under Central Plans. In the case of Central Assistance to State Plans (CSAP), it is seen that all schemes related to Women &Child Development have together seen a decline in allocation of Rs. 8746.24 crore from the year 2014-15(RE) to the year 2015-16 (BE), i.e. a 49.5% decline. 

Juvenile Justice Bill 2014

ISSUEThe Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill 2014 was introduced in Lok Sabha and referred to theParliamentary Standing Committee (PSC). The proposed bill includes a regressive proposal to set up a transfer system thatwill enable children, alleged to have committed heinous crimes transferred to the adult criminal justice system, andpotentially be sentenced to life in prison. The PSC in its report rejected the provision of transfer proposed by the 2014 billand concluded that the existing juvenile system was reformative and rehabilitative in nature while recognizing the fact that16-18 years is an extremely sensitive and critical age requiring greater protection. This Bill, if passed by Parliament, willrepeal the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, and will mark an important reversal of more than150 years of progressive jurisprudence increasing protection to children in conflict with law.KEY MESSAGES(1) The proposal of the NDA Government to allow “transfer” of juveniles aged 16-18 to the adult criminaljustice system poses a grave danger to society

Risks of Internet Voting

INTERNET VOTINGIndia took its first steps towards internet voting in the 2011 Gandhinagar municipal elections in Gujarat. However, the move forinternet voting gained momentum when a Non Resident Indian (NRI), Samsheer V.P., filed a PIL challenging Section 20(A) of theRepresentation of the People (Amendment) Act of 2010, which requires NRIs to be physically present at their electoral constituenciesto cast their votes, and termed it discriminatory and a violation of his Fundamental Rights. The growing “engagement” with theIndian diaspora, their interest in policy and its impact, their propensity to contribute financially to elections in the country has furtherled to a strong call being made for internet based voting. Taking this issue forward the previous CEC had announced that voting viathe internet could be possible in the future, and while he did not give a time frame he did say that the Election Commission had beeninformed by the IT Ministry that India had the capacity to implement online voting within three weeks.1However, in a 2014 report by the Committee for Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors, constituted by the ElectionCommission, the committee rejected the use of internet technology for voting by overseas voters in either the short-term or mediumtermuntil security concerns were addressed.National political parties in India have expressed different views on the use of internet for voting. While the BJP has supported an“easier voting mechanism” for NRIs in the past, the Congress and the Left Parties opposed the use of internet technology for Indiansliving abroad citing security concerns, violation of secret ballot and resultant disparities in facilities provided to all voters.