Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 02 May 2022
- India must use markets to decarbonize
- Making the most of the diplomatic attention
- Revisiting death penalty jurisprudence
Climate change is bound to impact human lives and the global economy at an exceptionally high scale in the not-so-distant future. The solution to the problem calls for government intervention.
GS-III: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Dimensions of the Article
- Carbon intensive nature of India’s Energy Ecosystem
- Climate change as a feature of market failure
- What can be done?
- Way Forward
Carbon intensive nature of India’s energy ecosystem
- After China and the United States, India, which releases 2.44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, is the third-largest emitter of this GHG, making it a key player in emissions reduction.
- The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2017 Report estimates that India will account for nearly one-fourth of the global energy demand by 2040.
- As per the IEA’s India Energy Outlook 2021 Report, India’s energy system is highly dependent on fossil fuels — coal, oil and bioenergy — that supply about 90 per cent of the country’s demand.
- Low electrification: About 38 per cent of primary energy is consumed for power generation, implying that the level of electrification is still low in the country.
- Power generation is highly dependent on coal — about 78 per cent of it comes from this fossil fuel — and, transportation is almost entirely dependent on oil.
- The Indian energy ecosystem is, thus, highly carbon-intensive.
Climate change as a feature of market failure
- Market failure due to climate change: Economic activities by consumers (driving or air-conditioning, for instance) and by producers (such as electricity generation and manufacturing) cause emissions, leading to pollution and global warming.
- Negative externalities: These negative externalities, causing outcomes that are not efficient, are not reflected in the costs incurred by consumers or producers.
- The true costs to the consumers, producers and society are not reflected in the market interactions.
- This leads to an uncontrolled rise in emissions and also breeds apathy towards mitigation efforts.
What can be done?
- Government intervention: Achieving economic growth sustainably requires a strategy for reducing carbon emissions aggressively while also focusing on efficiency, equity, fairness and behavioural aspects.
- The solution to the problem of market failure calls for government intervention.
- Limits of emission: The most natural option of government intervention for reducing emissions is by fixing limits of emissions through regulation, taking into consideration the Nationally Determined Contribution targets set by the country under the Paris Agreement.
- Experts have shown that the wrongly set emission levels could lead to cost-inefficient outcomes.
- It makes it difficult for the regulator to obtain the information about each firm’s abatement-cost and damage-cost schedules in advance.
- Therefore, setting emission targets and regulating emissions through command and control might be good only during the initial phase of the mitigation strategy.
- Why Carbon tax is a better option? The carbon tax is a better option than regulating the pre-fixed levels of emissions.
- The marginal cost of abatement rises as the firms keep on reducing the emissions further, and the firm will stop reducing emissions and choose to pay tax at the point when the cost of abatement becomes higher than the rate of tax.
- This option will lead to near-efficient outcomes.
- The trading scheme will bring in higher efficiency as the price of certificates will be determined by allowing firms facing low and high abatement costs to compete in the free market as per their own abatement and damage cost schedules.
- The emissions trading scheme will determine the optimal and cost-efficient levels of emissions reduction by providing a choice to the firms to either mitigate or trade — the net effect of this will be a reduction in emissions.
- The low abatement-cost firms will keep reducing emissions as they would profit by trading the certificates.
- Equity in energy access: The issue of equity in energy access must be addressed by channelling the revenues generated from carbon pricing to households and firms impacted by the carbon trading and carbon tax — these could be through incentives or lump-sum transfers.
The socio-economic impact of decarbonizing the economy and the way humans live would be crucial in setting our priorities. We have limited time and our resources are scarce.
Source – The Indian Express
India has witnessed a flurry of diplomatic activity during the past week with a long line of ministers, senior military officers and diplomats from a number of countries visiting Delhi and engaging with their Indian counterparts.
GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Dimensions of the Article
- Highlights of this year’s Raisina Dialogue
- What should be India’s approach toward West?
- Why India should recalibrate its ties with Russia?
- What more can India do?
- Way Forward
Highlights of this year’s Raisina Dialogue
- The senior-most official and inaugural speaker was Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
- The European presence was prominent.
- China and Russia were absent from among official delegates, which is a pity.
- The European presence was prominent. China and Russia were absent from among official delegates.
- The focus narrowed down to the Ukraine war and, more specifically, India’s posture on Russia’s increasingly brutal assault on the hapless people of Ukraine.
- It fell to the external affairs minister to deflect the expectations of India on this score.
What should be India’s approach toward West?
- India will need the West more than it has in the recent past, whether in building up its deterrent capabilities or accelerating its own economic and technological transformation.
- India’s Quad partners the US, Japan, Australia, its partners in Europe and several ASEAN countries, see India as an anchor that could help stabilise the international situation.
- They have a stake in India emerging as an influential power and are willing to contribute to that end.
- The temptation to indulge in criticising each other should be avoided.
Why India should recalibrate its ties with Russia?
- Assumptions about Russia-China ties: A key assumption in India’s Russia policy has been that as a great power, Moscow would be unlikely to accept a junior partnership with China.
- It was also assumed that in the long run, Russian and Chinese interests would not be aligned and, therefore, India should maintain a close relationship with Moscow.
- Even if the Ukraine war had not erupted, the February 4 Sino-Russian Joint Declaration should have led India to question the continuing validity of these assumptions.
- There are valid legacy reasons for maintaining positive ties with Russia just as some European countries have had to do.
- The reality is that India-Russia relations are not a continuation of the old Indo-Soviet ties.
- That strategic partnership that helped India cope with the Cold War and the Chinese and Pakistani threats evaporated with the end of that war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- Moscow no longer saw Beijing as its main security challenge but for India, China became a bigger challenge.
- Marginal economic and trade relations: India’s economic and trade relationship with Russia has become increasingly marginal.
- Defence relationship diminishing progressively: Even the defence hardware relationship has diminished progressively as India has rightly tried to diversify its sources of supply.
- The legacy in this respect, too, is of diminishing relevance.
- India may have its issues with the existing order but what is envisaged in the Joint Declaration is not the alternative which would enhance India’s interests.
What more can India do?
- Remain engaged with Russia and China: In a shifting geopolitical landscape, it is in India’s interest to remain engaged with Russia and China as two leading powers in the world.
- Such engagement is important to gauge how these powers are themselves adjusting to the changing geopolitical equations across the world.
- The US has shaken off the taint of its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan but its domestic politics is unpredictable and this calls for caution.
- Europe will likely emerge as a more coherent and cohesive entity, anchored in German power, and playing a role more independent of the US than hitherto.
- Deepen partnership with Europe: All the more reason why India must deepen its all-round partnership with Europe, build a shared vision of an altered geopolitical landscape and encourage Europe to play a greater role in the Indo-Pacific.
The attention being paid to India is substantive. A rare but perishable opportunity has presented itself to significantly advance India’s long-term prospects. It must be grasped with single-minded tenacity.
Source – The Indian Express
On April 22, a Bench of the Supreme Court of India, led by Justice U.U. Lalit, decided to critically examine the routine and abrupt way in which trial judges often impose the death penalty on convicts.
GS-II: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability, E-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; Citizens Charters, Transparency & Accountability and institutional and other measures.
Dimensions of the Article
- Individualistic Approach
- Background of the humane and reformist framework
- Is the Bachan Singh doctrine followed?
- Issue of misuse and overuse
- Social Implications
- What can be done?
- Way Forward
- The challenge before the Court in the instant case of Irfan vs State of Madhya Pradesh was to identify the mitigating circumstances and to ensure a convict-centric approach so that the imposition of capital punishment becomes rarer, fairer, and principled.
- According to the Court, “a ‘one size fit for all’ approach while considering mitigating factors during sentencing should end”.
- Mitigation expert: The Bench indicated the need for mitigation experts to assist trial courts in reaching a correct conclusion on whether one should be sent to the gallows or not.
- The Court seemed to think that an individualistic approach that examines the social, economic, emotional, and genetic components that constituted the offender rather than the offence, would go a long way in evolving a just and judicious sentencing policy.
- An analysis of the possible reasons to avert the death penalty is reflected in a series of recent verdicts such as Lochan Shrivas vs State of Chhattisgarh (2021) and Bhagchandra vs State of Madhya Pradesh (2021).
- These reasons might include socio-economic backwardness, mental health, heredity, parenting, socialisation, education, etc.
Background of the humane and reformist framework
- The special reason: According to Section 354(3) in the Code of Criminal Procedure, while imposing the capital punishment, the judge should specify “the special reasons” for doing so.
- It was in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980) that the Constitution Bench suggested a humane and reformist framework in the matter.
- Bachan Singh requires the trial courts not only to examine the gravity of the offence but also the condition and the ‘reformability’ of the accused.
- Not unconstitutional: The Court, in Bachan Singh, refused to declare the death penalty as unconstitutional.
- It abundantly implied that no person is indubitably ‘irreformable’.
- It had the effect of practically undoing the death penalty provision, if taken in its letter and spirit.
- Person-centric approach: This person-centric approach, for its materialisation, needs a different judicial acumen that recognises the convict in her multitudes.
Is the Bachan Singh doctrine followed?
- The Bachan Singh principle was followed more in its breach than in compliance even by the Supreme Court.
- In Ravji vs State of Rajasthan (1995), the Supreme Court said that it is the nature of the crime and not the criminal which is germane for deciding the punishment.
- Several other cases also were decided by ignoring the Bachan Singh doctrine, as noted by the Supreme Court itself in Santhosh Kumar Satishbhushan Bariyar vs State of Maharashtra (2009) and Rajesh Kumar vs State (2011).
- This egregious judicial error will have to be kept in mind while the Court revisits the issues related to mitigating factors and individual-centered sentencing policy in the Irfan case.
- Shortcomings of Bachan Sing: Bachan Singh did not, in concrete terms, elaborate on the mitigating factors and the methods to gather them to avert the death penalty.
- Nor did it explain the issues such as burden of proof and standard of proof in detail.
Issue of misuse and overuse
- Misuse of sedition provision: The Indian experience shows that whenever the Court tries to dilute the harshness of penal provisions by a balancing approach, instead of striking down the provision, the instrumentalities of the state (including the police, the prosecution and the court) continue to overuse or misuse the provisions.
- The Supreme Court endorsed the validity of the sedition law (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code) with a rider that it could be invoked only when there is an incitement to violence.
- But the state seldom acts based on interpretation of the law.
- Many were booked for the charge of sedition since then for mere words, innocent tweets or harmless jokes.
- Disproportionate effect on the poor: In India, as elsewhere, the poor, rather than the rich, are sent to the gallows.
- Ineffectiveness of legal assistance: In Williams vs Taylor (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court said that failure of the defence lawyer in highlighting the mitigating factors that could lead to avoidance of capital punishment makes the legal assistance ineffective.
- Therefore, it infringes constitutionally guaranteed rights.
- In the Indian scenario, the legal assistance received by the poor facing serious charges is far from satisfactory.
- Mitigating factors not placed: And in the matter of sentencing too, the mitigating factors are either not placed before the trial court or not persuaded adequately to convince the trial judge to avoid the death penalty.
What more can be done?
- Taking empirical lessons from the fate of Bachan Singh, the Supreme Court may have to now ask the more fundamental question posed and negatived in Bachan Singh — the question of the constitutional validity of death penalty.
- Comprehensive report: The Court, in the instant case, will have to evolve a legal device for procurement of a comprehensive report dealing with the socio-economic and hereditary backgrounds of the accused from experts in the fields of social work, psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, etc.
- Violation of Article 21: The Court may have to revisit Bachan Singh itself in so far as it refused to declare the death penalty as violative of the right to life envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Across the world, 108 nations have abolished death penalty in law and 144 countries have done so in law or practice, according to the Amnesty Report of 2021.
- Judicial errors: In the Indian context, where judgmental error is quite frequent and the quality of adjudication is not ensured, what is required is a judicial abolition of death penalty.
The present matter will have to be referred to a larger Bench, with a view to rectify the foundational omission in Bachan Singh — of not explicitly declaring capital punishment as unconstitutional.
Source – The Hindu