The HINDU Notes – 10th July 2019 - VISION

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 10th July 2019

πŸ“° ‘Draft Education Policy gives boost to research, innovation’

Annual grant of ₹20,000 crore for research; Professional education to be part of higher education

•K. Kasturirangan, chairman, Drafting Committee, National Education Policy 2019, on Tuesday said the draft education policy has recommended merger of 900 universities and 40,000 colleges into around 15,000 large, well-resourced, vibrant multidisciplinary institutions and the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country would move towards becoming three types of universities.

•Speaking on ‘Revitalising Higher Education in India: Recommendations of Draft National Education Policy 2019’ at a symposium organised by the Forum of Former Vice-Chancellors of Karnataka at University of Mysore here, he said the three types of universities include research universities which give equal focus on research and teaching; teaching universities that will lay primary emphasis on teaching with significant focus on research and autonomous degree granting colleges which will look into undergraduate education and research.

•He said the draft policy has laid strong emphasis on catalysing and energising research and innovation in all academic disciplines with particular focus on State universities and colleges. A fund to encourage research in all universities and colleges has been recommended. An annual grant of ₹20,000 crore for research has been recommended which will be increased with time, the former ISRO chairman added.

•He said the National Research Foundation will fund research across all disciplines and expand research and innovation at all universities and colleges, including private institutions.

•Dr. Kasturirangan said school teacher preparation will be done at multidisciplinary universities and departments of education will be set up in universities to offer a four-year integrated, stage-specific B.Ed. The current two-year B.Ed. programme will continue until 2030. After 2030, only those institutions offering a four-year teacher education programmes can offer the two-year programme and no other kind of pre-service teaching preparation programmes will be offered. Substandard and dysfunctional teacher education institutes will have to be shut, he explained.

•On the empowered governance and autonomy in higher education institutions, the chairman of Karnataka Knowledge Commission said the policy sees independent and self-governed HEIs. All HEIs will be governed by independent boards that will have complete academic and administrative autonomy. He said the affiliation will be stopped as affiliated colleges will be developed into autonomous degree granting colleges and the affiliating universities will be developed into vibrant multidisciplinary institutions.

•Dr. Kasturirangan said the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) will become a single regulator for higher education, including professional education. The UGC will transform into Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC). A new General Education Council will develop national higher education qualification framework and specific standards for general education. All other regulatory bodies – MCI, AICTE, NCTE, BCI and others – will become standard setting bodies. There will be common regulatory regimes for public and private institutions.

•Professional education will become an integral part of the higher education system and all institutes offering either professional or general education must develop into institutions offering both by 2030, Dr. Kasturirangan explained.

•FVCK chairman S.N. Hegde, secretary R.N. Srinivasa Gowda, V-C G. Hemantha Kumar and Registrar Lingaraja Gandhi were present.

‘Committee to study inputs after July 31’

•The Drafting Committee of the National Education Policy 2019 will examine feedback and suggestions submitted from across the country in response to its recommendations after July 31.

•“Suggestions will play a critical role in the formation of the policy. The inputs on the draft can be submitted till July 31 and thereafter the committee will examine them,” said K. Kasturirangan, chairman, Drafting Committee, National Education Policy 2019. He added that 10-20% change in the draft policy was expected because of the inclusion of some valuable inputs. “Thereafter, the policy needs to be taken forward for the implementation.”

Policy favours spending 20% of GDP on education

•Dr. Kasturirangan, said the draft National Education Policy - 2019 has suggested investing 20% of the country’s GDP on education. “We are hopeful that the policy will facilitate higher education reach its optimal level in the next ten years,” he added.

•The former ISRO chairman was responding to a question on making higher educational institutions (HEIs) world-class and bringing quality with scarce funding, during an interactive session after a talk by him on the draft NEP 2019 at the University of Mysore. The symposium on the draft policy was organised by the Forum of Former Vice-Chancellors of Karnataka (FVCK).

•Answering questions from retired V-Cs, academicians, teachers, and others, Dr. Kasturirangan defended the recommendation of trifurcating the university system and said that the move would help improve higher education.

•Trifurcation of the universities had become inevitable with research universities focussing on research and innovation, teaching universities laying emphasis on teaching and autonomous institutions looking at undergraduate education. The number of teaching universities will be more than research universities, he added.

•The former ISRO chairman said the policy has made the community an integral part of the education system with the local community involved in the affairs of school and higher education as well.

•The chairman of Karnataka Knowledge Commission said the drafting committee has tried to address the concerns expressed over the proliferation of fake colleges and universities in the country. Some 1,000-plus such institutions had been identified and the MHRD would consider action against them.

πŸ“° SC to study Centre’s query on ‘refugee’ status for illegal immigrants

Court was hearing petitions filed by two Rohingya men against proposal to deport their 40,000-strong community back to Myanmar

•The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a “substantial question” put forth by the Union government as to whether illegal immigrants can even be considered for ‘refugee’ status.

•A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was hearing petitions filed by two Rohingya men against the government’s proposed move to deport their 40,000-strong community back to their native land of Myanmar, where ‘discrimination and possibly summary executions await them’.

•Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the primary prayers made in the petitions were to stop any proposed deportation and allow the community rights under the international law.

•“But first decide whether they are refugees... Whether illegal immigrants can even be allowed the status of refugees... This is the substantial question here,” Mr. Mehta submitted.

•The court said it would examine the issue and asked the parties and intervenors to complete pleadings by the next hearing.

•The Rohingya, who fled to India after violence in the State of Rakhine in Myanmar, are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan. 

•The petitions said the Centre’s move violated the constitutional guarantee that the Indian State should “protect the life and liberty of every human being, whether citizen or not.”

NHRC issues notice

•The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had even issued notice to the government on the proposed deportation.

•Panic struck the refugee community following media reports of a statement made by then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in Parliament that the Centre had directed the States to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingya.

•The petitions filed in the Supreme Court submitted that the 40,000-odd Rohingya were registered and recognised by the UNHCR in 2016 and granted refugee identity cards. The pleas said their deportation would violate India’s commitment to international conventions that recognise the ‘Principle of Non-Refoulement.’ This principle of customary international law prohibited the deportation of refugees to a country where they faced threat to their lives.

•During the hearing, Justice Aniruddha Bose, on the Bench, asked if there were any formal guidelines, legal norms or policy decisions to determine a refugee.

•Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, for the petitioners, said the UNHCR conducted intensive questioning of the immigrants to determine whether they had fled persecution or if they had crossed across for sheer economic interests. If the former, they were granted refugee status. 

•“Sixty to seventy percent of Rohingya have got to be refugees,” Mr. Gonsalves submitted.

•The UNHRC report of 2016 on rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar had noted successive patterns of serious rights violations, violations to the right to life, liberty and security of the Rohingya by State security forces and other officials in Myanmar. The violations included summary executions, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, forced labour, arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of Rohingya, including women and children.

πŸ“° UN report backs India’s stand on Pakistan-based militant groups: activists

Activists urge New Delhi not to entirely reject the human rights panel’s report

•While India has rejected the ‘Update’ of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on Jammu and Kashmir, human rights activists have pointed out that it includes several unprecedented references to rights violations and constitutional changes undertaken by Pakistani authorities and militant groups, that actually support India’s narrative.

•Urging India not to rejected the ‘Update’ in its entirety, the activists have called on India to “engage” with the OHCHR’s findings released on Monday.

‘Take first step’

•“The govt should engage with this process to acknowledge the violations, take steps towards accountability, and call for Pakistan to ensure and end to militant abuses [as well]. Often upholding rights is the first step towards ending the cycle of violence,” said Human Rights Watch South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly.

•She added that the government’s “knee jerk denial” of all the UN findings ran counter to the fact that official Indian inquiries “have flagged violations and made recommendations similar to those by OHCHR.”

•The MEA maintains that its objections to the OHCHR report are based on human rights violations the report has accused India of. “We are only concerned with those baseless allegations that pertain to us,” an official said, declining to comment on the other references to Pakistan.

Welcome new references

•Other activists point out that the OHCHR report includes certain new references to human rights violations by militant groups that should be welcomed by New Delhi.

•“It is important to note, that for the first time, the United Nations is taking note of child soldiers being used by militant groups, for example. The report also remarks that Kashmiri groups have been charged with sedition and arrested in both Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Islamabad,” pointed out peace activist Sushobha Barve, who works in Jammu and Kashmir as a part of the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.

•“In its haste to reject the report for what it says about Indian actions, the government is also ignoring violations on the Pakistani side, that should be highlighted as well,” she added.

•The MEA maintains that its objections to the OHCHR report are based on HR violations the report has accused India of. "We are only concerned with those baseless allegations that pertain to us," an official said, declining to comment on the other references to Pakistan.

Child soldiers issue

•The OHCHR report released on July 8, that catalogued alleged violations on both sides of the Line of Control and International boundary in Jammu and Kashmir from 2018-2019, said that Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba had all been “accused of recruiting and deploying child soldiers in Indian-Administered Kashmir”. It also mentioned strictures passed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against Pakistan for not curbing terror financing by these groups.

•In specific allegations against Pakistani intelligence agencies (ISI and IB) the OHCHR report blamed “Pakistani intelligence officials” for threatening those who criticise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Gilgit Baltistan, and for “disappearances of journalists and activists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and G-B.

•It criticised Pakistani authorities for charging 19 activists of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front with “treason” for organising a rally in Kotli area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, that demanded both Pakistan and India should “leave Kashmir”, and for a series of cases against other students groups and journalists.

•“Journalists in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir continue to face threats and harassment in the course of carrying out their professional duties,” the report concluded, and also noted that Islamabad’s decision to carve out a special status for PoK (called Azad Jammu and Kashmir or AJK in Pakistan) and for G-B had met with protests in both places as they “failed to address the main elements that restrict the full enjoyment of all human rights for people living in these regions.”

•In its response to the report, the Ministry of External Affairs had not referred to any of the violations pertaining to Pakistan, and protested what it called the “false and motivated” actions and “prejudiced mindset” of the OHCHR. Pakistan has welcomed the report, while adding that the human rights concerns in Pakistan administered Kashmir should not be equated with the Indian side.

πŸ“° Maratha reservation is more appeasement than justice

Maratha reservation borders on class legislation rather than signifying reasonable classification

•Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), once considered to be just a party of upper caste Hindus, is beginning to expand its social base. And a party that has consistently criticised the Indian National Congress for its so-called appeasement policies including sub-quotas for minorities within Other Backward Classes (OBC) and reservation for OBC Muslims is no longer hesitant in extending reservation to newer castes.

•In keeping with this line, one has seen it introduce reservation for politically dominant castes such as the Gujjars in Rajasthan, Patidars in Gujarat and the Marathas in Maharashtra. The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has included 17 OBC castes in the Scheduled Castes list. Even the judiciary that has so far been quite concerned about the ‘merit’, ‘efficiency in administration’ and interests of ‘general candidates’, has sent out mixed signals on invoking the strict scrutiny test in examining the constitutionality of a reservation policy. The Supreme Court has refused to stay the Central government’s decision to grant 10% quota in jobs and education to the economically-weaker sections and the Bombay High Court has now upheld reservation for the Maratha community.

Influential reach

•Anyone familiar with Maharashtra will know that the Maratha community is an influential and politically dominant caste which has not faced any systematic social discrimination or exclusion. Most of the State’s Chief Ministers have been Marathas. While the Mandal Commission identified Marathas to be a ‘forward’ community, two State Backward Class Commissions, namely the Khatri Commission (1995) and Bapat Commission (2008), recommended not to include them within the OBC category. After the High Court had stayed the 16% reservation made on the basis of the recommendations of non-statutory Narayan Rane Commission (2015), the matter was referred to the M.G. Gaikwad Commission in 2017, which submitted its report in 2018. The Bill was passed and brought into force in less than two weeks.

•The Mandal Commission had 11 yardsticks to determine backwardness. On certain parameters, the Gaikwad Commission did go beyond Mandal; some of the yardsticks it adopted were controversial. For example, the Commission noted that of the total farmer suicides of 13,368) 2,152 Maratha farmers had ended their lives. It ignored the fact that these were not due to backwardness but because of agrarian crises. The Commission also attached great importance to its finding that while 69% Maratha families sought medical treatment for jaundice, 9.65% sought treatment from tantriks while 0.54% left it ‘to the mercy of god’; superstition, and ‘blind vows’ were factored in as proof of backwardness though such irrational practices or beliefs are prevalent even among the higher castes as well. The Commission also found that a large number of Marathas in Mumbai are engaged in the business of dabbawallas. Acceptance of food from them shows that people do not consider them low caste. The finding of 71% Marathas owning land of less than 2.5 acres was considered a sign of backwardness but such small holdings are due to fragmentation of land as a result of inheritance laws rather than it being a sign of backwardness. The Maratha share of 19.5% in government jobs too cannot satisfy the constitutional requirement of inadequacy of representation; even the finding that Marathas constitute 30% of the State’s population is suspect as the Commission excluded Muslims, Jains, Sikhs and unreserved categories in its population count. In fact on most parameters, Marathas are on a par with other forward castes and the OBCs. Singling them out for reservation is appeasement and not justice. Moreover, the Commission had recommended 12% to 13% reservation which the BJP government enhanced to 16%. The sample size was too small and it considered just 950 urban families; it also excluded Mumbai.

On classification

•After all, social and educational backwardness are but an aspect of backwardness and must therefore fall within the OBC classification. Even conceding that Marathas are backward and need reservation, they should have ideally been included within the OBC. But the High Court upheld the creation of a distinct class of socially and educationally backward class with just one caste (Marathas) included under it. The issue of Gujjar reservation was struck down in Captain Gurvinder Singh (2016) though along with Gujjars, four other castes were also given the benefit. Jat reservation, in Ram Singh (2015), was declared unconstitutional because only one caste was favoured. Maratha reservation thus borders on class legislation rather than reasonable classification. Article 14 prohibits class legislation.

•Since the National Commission for Backward Classes was not consulted, the constitutionality of Maratha reservation is suspect but the High Court observed that the NBCC had in no way taken away the powers of the State commission. Similarly, the Uttar Pradesh government has ignored the National Commission for Scheduled Castes in according SC status to 17 castes.

•The weakest part of the judgment is ignoring the 50% upper limit of reservation by relying on the small window of exception permitted in Indra Sawhney, i.e. the factor of remote or far flung areas and an absence from national main stream. None is available to the Marathas.

•Let the BJP not deviate from its stated policy on appeasement and do justice to all including Marathas and Muslims.

πŸ“° The malaise of malnutrition

India needs to double yearly rate of fall in stunting cases to achieve its 2022 target

•A new report, ‘Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019’, authored by the Government of India and the United Nations World Food Programme, paints a picture of hunger and malnutrition amongst children in large pockets of India. This punctures the image of a nation marching towards prosperity. It raises moral and ethical questions about the nature of a state and society that, after 70 years of independence, still condemns hundreds of millions of its poorest and vulnerable citizens to lives of hunger and desperation. And it once again forces us to ask why despite rapid economic growth, declining levels of poverty, enough food to export, and a multiplicity of government programmes, malnutrition amongst the poorest remains high.

A trap of poverty, malnutrition

•The report shows the poorest sections of society caught in a trap of poverty and malnutrition, which is being passed on from generation to generation. Mothers who are hungry and malnourished produce children who are stunted, underweight and unlikely to develop to achieve their full human potential.

•The effects of malnourishment in a small child are not merely physical. A developing brain that is deprived of nutrients does not reach its full mental potential. A study in the Lancet notes, “Undernutrition can affect cognitive development by causing direct structural damage to the brain and by impairing infant motor development.” This in turn affects the child’s ability to learn at school, leading to a lifetime of poverty and lack of opportunity.

•Another study in the Lancet observes, “These disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.” In other words, today’s poor hungry children are likely to be tomorrow’s hungry, unemployed and undereducated adults.

•The findings in the report are not new: many studies over the last five years have exposed the failure of the Indian state to ensure that its most vulnerable citizens are provided adequate nutrition in their early years. India has long been home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world. Some progress has been made in reducing the extent of malnutrition. The proportion of children with chronic malnutrition decreased from 48% percent in 2005-06 to 38.4% in 2015-16. The percentage of underweight children decreased from 42.5% to 35.7% over the same period. Anaemia in young children decreased from 69.5% to 58.5% during this period. But this progress is small.

An ambitious target

•The government’s National Nutrition Mission (renamed as Poshan Abhiyaan) aims to reduce stunting (a measure of malnutrition that is defined as height that is significantly below the norm for age) by 2% a year, bringing down the proportion of stunted children in the population to 25% by 2022. But even this modest target will require doubling the current annual rate of reduction in stunting.

•The minutes of recent meetings of the Executive Committee of Poshan Abhiyaan do not inspire much confidence about whether this can be achieved. A year after it was launched, State and Union Territory governments have only used 16% of the funds allocated to them. Fortified rice and milk were to be introduced in one district per State by March this year. But the minutes of a March 29 meeting showed that this had not been done, and officials in charge of public distribution had not yet got their act together. Or, as the minutes put it, “The matter is under active consideration of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution”. Anganwadis are key to the distribution of services to mothers and children. But many States, including Bihar and Odisha, which have large vulnerable populations, are struggling to set up functioning anganwadis, and recruit staff.

•The key to ending the tragedy of child nutrition lies with a handful of State governments: the highest levels of stunted and underweight children are found in Jharkand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Malnutrition is a reflection of age-old patterns of social and economic exclusion. Over 40% of children from Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are stunted. Close to 40% of children from the Other Backward Classes are stunted. The lack of nutrition in their childhood years can reduce their mental as well as physical development and condemn them to a life in the margins of society.

•Stunting and malnourishment starts not with the child, but with the mother. An adolescent girl who is malnourished and anaemic tends to be a mother who is malnourished and anaemic. This in turn increased the chances of her child being stunted.

The problem is access to food

•As Amartya Sen noted, famines are caused not by shortages of food, but by inadequate access to food. And for the poor and marginalised, access to food is impeded by social, administrative and economic barriers. In the case of children and their mothers, this could be anything from non-functioning or neglectful governments at the State, district and local levels to entrenched social attitudes that see the poor and marginalised as less than equal citizens who are meant to be an underclass and are undeserving of government efforts to provide them food and lift them out of poverty.

•A lot of attention has focussed on the government’s aim of turning India into a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. Whether this will achieved is a matter for debate. But these declarations only serve to obscure a larger reality. There is a large section of society, the poorest two-fifths of the country’s population, that is still largely untouched by the modern economy which the rest of the country inhabits. As one part of the country lives in a 21st century economy, ordering exotic cuisines over apps, another part struggles with the most ancient of realities: finding enough to eat to tide them over till the next day.

πŸ“° U.S., Taliban talks end after rival Afghans agree on ‘roadmap for peace’

The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centred on a U.S. promise to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.

•The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan wound up on Tuesday the seventh round of talks he has held with the Taliban in Qatar, after signs of progress in efforts to end the longest war the United States has ever fought.

•The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, met Taliban officials briefly a day after a delegation of Afghan citizens and the militants agreed on a “roadmap for peace”, in particular a joint call to end civilian casualties in the 18-year war.

•“Khalilzad will now brief his bosses and they will make an announcement. The seventh round has ended,” said a senior official privy to the talks.

•The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centred on a U.S. promise to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.

•Last week, Mr. Khalilzad said the latest round of talks, which began on June 28, was the “most productive” since the effort began late last year, with progress on a counter-terrorism assurance, a troop withdrawal, dialogue between rival Afghans and a ceasefire.

•Mr. Khalilzad, in a post on Twitter, said he was heading to China and then back to Washington “to report and consult on the Afghan peace process”.

•Taliban officials were not immediately available for comment.

•Senior Western officials and diplomats in Kabul who are privy to the talks, said the U.S. government was expected to make an announcement after a briefing from Mr. Khalilzad.

•“The stage is now being set for a political settlement between the U.S. and the Taliban,” said a senior western official who is privy to the negotiations.

•While a deal between the United States and the Taliban might let the United States extricate itself from a war President Donald Trump is eager to end, it might not bring peace between the U.S.-backed government based in Kabul and the militants.

Zero civilian casualities

•The Taliban have refused to negotiate with the government, denouncing it as a U.S. puppet, but in an effort to foster Afghan reconciliation, a 60-strong delegation of citizens met the Taliban for two days of talks in Qatar from Sunday.

•The two sides said in a joint statement late on Monday they had agreed to a roadmap and were both “committed to respect and protect the dignity of people, their life and property and to minimize the civilian casualties to zero”.

•The two sides also promised to guarantee the security of public institutions such as schools, hospitals and markets.

•But on Sunday, as the Afghan rivals sat down for talks in Qatar, Taliban fighters detonated a car bomb outside a government compound in the central town of Ghazni, killing 14 and wounding more than 100, including scores of children in a school.

•Seven civilians were killed in a government air strike in the north late on Monday, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement, adding that strike was conducted for the “elimination of the enemy”.

•According to the United Nations, 3,804 civilians - including more than 900 children - were killed and 7,000 wounded in 2018, the deadliest year for civilians in the conflict.

•The Taliban control and influence more territory than at any point since they were ousted in 2001.

•Mr. Trump said he wanted to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan but was concerned that without a U.S. military presence, it could be used as a base for terrorist attacks on the United States.

•U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently the United States wanted a deal with the Taliban by Sept. 1 - ahead of an Afghan presidential election due at the end of the month.

πŸ“° France to impose green tax on plane tickets from 2020

The move, which will take effect from 2020, will see a tax of €1.5 imposed on economy-class tickets on internal flights and those within Europe, with the highest tariff applied to business-class travellers flying outside the bloc.

•The French government is to impose a tax of up to €18 on plane tickets for all flights from airports in France to fund less-polluting transportation projects, a Minister said on Tuesday.

•The move, which will take effect from 2020, will see a tax of €1.5 imposed on economy-class tickets on internal flights and those within Europe, with the highest tariff applied to business-class travellers flying outside the bloc, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said.

•The new measure is expected to bring in some €182 million a year which will be invested in greener transport infrastructures, notably rail, she said, adding that it will only be applied on outgoing flights and not those flying into the country.

•A similar tax was introduced in Sweden in April 2018, which imposed an added charge of up to €40 on every ticket in a bid to lessen the impact of air travel on the climate.

πŸ“° CPCB pulls up 52 firms over handling of waste

They have not set collection targets

•The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 52 companies — including Amazon, Flipkart, Danone Foods and Beverages and Patanjali Ayurved Limited — for not specifying a timeline or a plan to collect the plastic waste that results from their business activities.

•The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, (which was amended in 2018) prescribed by the Union Environment Ministry, says that companies that use plastic in their processes — packaging and production — have a responsibility to ensure that any resulting plastic waste is safely disposed of.

•Under this system — called the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) — companies have to specify collection targets as well as a time-line for this process within a year of the rules coming into effect on March 2016. The plastic waste can be collected by the company or outsourced to an intermediary.

•The Rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators and retailers to manage such waste.

•A notice posted on the website of the Cental Pollution Control Board, a Ministry body, said these 52 companies hadn’t yet registered at the online portal and disclosed their disposal plans.

•“Failing to do so would invite action against the defaulters,” the notice warned. This action can include fines or imprisonment under provisions of the Environment Protection Act. The companies were to have registered more than a year ago.

•Inspite of these laws, India has made little progress in managing its plastic waste. According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates in 2015, Indian cities generate about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day and about 70 per cent of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste. Nearly 40 per cent of India’s plastic waste is neither collected nor recycled and ends up polluting the land and water.

•Plastic packaging has been singled out as one of the key contributors to plastic waste though there isn’t any number on its relative contribution. However like the companies, states too have come in the CPCB’s firing line.

•The National Green Tribunal earlier this year hauled up 25 states and union territories for not following its orders on submitting a plan by April 30, 2019, on how they would comply with the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016. They stand to potentially pay a fine of Rs 1 crore.

πŸ“° ‘Indian tariffs not acceptable’

It has long had a field day putting tariffs on U.S. items: Trump

•U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched a fresh attack on India for imposing tariffs on American products and said it was “no longer acceptable”, days after he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and agreed to sort out the traderelated issues.

•Mr. Trump, championing his ‘America First’ policy, has been a vocal critic of India for levying “tremendously high” duties on U.S. products.

•“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

•Trump’s terse comment within a fortnight after his meeting with Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28 where the two leaders aired their concerns over the bilateral trade disputes and agreed for a meeting of their Commerce Ministers to sort out the issues.

•Later this week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Energy Secretary Rick Perry are scheduled to address a major India centric conference in Washington.

•India has raised tariffs on 28 items, including almond, pulses and walnut, exported from the U.S. in retaliation to America’s withdrawal of preferential access for Indian products.

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