The Hindu Daily Editorial Discussion 20/2/19 By - Ashish Singh
Page 8 Page 9 .The importance of being humane Opposition parties must make a new anti-torture legislation part of their common programme 'We can defeat terrorism by upholding the unity of our society' .The former diplomat on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, India Pakistan ties, and the security situation in Kashmir The Saudi-India-Pakistan triangle New Delhi should not be overly optimistic about prying Riyadh away from Islamabad Interim bailout A system for sharing the RBI's surpluses with the Centre must be quickly institutionalised Clean power A viable financial mechanism must be evolved to remove pollutants in power plants Real tests of leadership Where does Rahul Gandhi stand on jobs, secularism and democracy?
The importance of being humane GS PAPER 2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. GS PAPER 4 ETHICS
Custodial torture is global, old and stubborn. Dismemberment was a method of torture practised with vigour in ancient India, crushing-by-elephant-foot another. . The Arthashastra prescribes mental torture through swear-words with or without physical assaults. Death by a thousand cuts was ancient China's speciality. . The Tang Code (652 CE) describes judicial torture in detail. Ancient Japanese methods of torture numb the human imagination. Their modern avatar in Japan's World War Il of biological and chemical experimentation on humans- prisoners, mainly Chinese in Unit 731 stop the blood-flow to one's heart.
It certainly shows that the inflicting of pain is an inseparable part of human history. More specifically, the history of power, of authority and control. The practice of custodial power is about men and sometimes, women - who are in positions of power, even if for a brief while and over a limited terrain, having custody over a powerless person, It is about the use of custodial opportunity to torture the captive's bodv and mind.
. Custodial death, when not 'natural', is the extreme end-point of custodial torture. . The death penalty, notwithstanding 'due process', is a close kin to this lawless and heartless game. In Greece, the pinnacle of culture, Socrates was in 399 BCE sentenced to death by hemlock, which was known to act slowly, incapacitating the person in stages, climbing from the lower extremities limb by limb to the heart. . A little further to the east, around 30 CE took place what is ironically the only hallowed case of plain torture. After being stripped and scourged, the victim's palms, known in anatomy to be among the most sensitive of human limbs, were nailed to the cross's horizontal beam, his feet to the vertical. "I thirst." Marv's son said
.Torturers are invariably sadists. Mary Surratt is not a well-known name. She was the first woman to be hanged in the U.S,, in 1865, under due process. Her crime: being part of the conspiracy that led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Minutes before her end, she complained to the hangman that her handcuffs hurt. They won't hurt long, he said. Peering down the 'drop', she then said she hoped they would send her down neatly. Sure thing, they said Sure enough they botched it. Her frame doubled up. "She makes a Food bow" the hangmen jested. Lincoln must have screamed in his grave.
Hitler's torturing of his prisoners would shame Satan, if such a creature exists. He was as real as his poison gases, tooth-extractors. Stalin's, Pol Pot's, 'Papa Doc' Duvalier's examples would have embarrassed Hell, if such a place exists. The power-centres of these tyrants were hellishly real. Apartheid South Africa had its torturers trained in Algeria to inflict pain without leaving any signs on the body. Imam Haron, Steve Biko and the Naidoo family are among the better known of the many less known and unknown brutalised by the apartheid regime.
The butchering last October of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi tells us custodial torture and killing are no country's, creed's or culture's monopoly. Nor that of any clime-time. Torture seems to be, like the roach, co-terminus with Time. And co extensive with homo sapiens. Custodial torture is about the here and now. As I write and the reader reads this, we can be sure that not far from wherever we are, someone is being tortured by somebody. I am not referring to criminals torturing their captives, but of that somebody who has ephemeral custody, semi-legal, pre-legal, legal, over that someone's body and mind.
India has practised and continues to practi impunity. ise the third degree' with Let only him deny it who has cause to hide it. But if torture is real, human revulsion with torture is also real And it has shape, definition. It has scope. in 1
. Meeting on December 10, 1984, the UN General Assembly stirred the world's conscience It adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Better known as the UN Convention against Torture, it sought to prevent torture around the world More specifically, it "required states to take effective measures to prevent torture and forbade them from transporting people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured (refoulement Most significantly, the Convention made state parties to undertake that "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" will be "invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict" In other words, it foresaw every possible subterfuge and subversion by states.
India's non-ratification of the Convention is both surprising and dismaying. What is the constraint? A state which signs the Convention has to have a domestic law on the subject to outlaw and prevent custodial torture. Without such a law, there is no meaning to signing the Convention. And so, late as it was, the UPA Il government introduced a Prevention of Torture Bill in the Lok Sabha in 2010 and had it passed in 10 days. The bill as passed by the Lok Sabha was referred to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha.
The nature of these amendments has not been delineated and so, almost nine years after the report of the Select Committee and 21 years after signing the Convention, India is yet to legislate a law that will outlaw torture an enable it to ratify the Convention. What is the constraint? Why is the Indian state unwilling to say, 'no custodial torture in India'? The answer can only be that the power over a captive's body and mind is not easily given up
The Saudi-lndia-Pakistan triangle GS PAPER2 Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests
. There seems to be much exultation in New Delhi that the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS (left in picture), will lead to further strengthening of Saudi Arabia-Indian ties, a process that had begun with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Riyadh in 2016. Some of this jubilation is based on rational calculations regarding Saudi interest in expanding trade and investment in India and collaboration in the energy sector. Saudi Aramco is interested in partnering with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in developing an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture with Indian public sector involvement. Saudi Arabia is already one of the three largest suppliers of oil to India.
However, much of the euphoria is based on wishful thinking and vague statements such as Riyadh's declaration that India is one of eight countries with which it wants to intensify its strategic partnership in various fields. The Indian self-delusion is demonstrated, above all, by the speculation in policy-making circles in New Delhi that the Saudi stance on Kashmir has now changed and its tilt toward Pakistan corrected. . The latter assumption is nothing more than a pipe dream. The Saudi Foreign Minister's statement in Islamabad during MBS's visit that Riyadh is committed to "de-escalating" tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir must not be read as an endorsement of the Indian stand but as an attempt to intervene in the dispute rather than accept its bilateral nature.
The Iran angle Iran is Saudi Arabia's chief adversary in West Asia. The Saudi-Iranian rivalry is being played out across the region, from Syria to Yemen. Riyadh perceives Pakistan as a major asset it can use to check the spread of Iranian influence despite the Nawaz Sharif government's refusal to commit Pakistani troops in the Yemen war on behalf of the Saudi-led alliance. It sees Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (right in picture) and Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa as more amenable to Saudi persuasion.
Moreover, Pakistan's relations with Iran, never easy, have hit a new low following the recent terrorist attack in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei pointed the finger at "the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries", an obvious reference to Pakistan and the U.S. The commander of the IRGC said, "The government of Pakistan must pay the price of harbouring these terrorist groups and this price will undoubtedly be very high."
Aid bailout Saudi economic largesse matters greatly to Pakistan, which is in dire economic straits and has been forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans that are bound to come with strict conditionalities. Over and above the $6 billion already promised by Saudi Arabia, MBS has promised a further $20 billion in Saudi investment in Pakistan. A large part is earmarked for investment in the construction of an oil refinery in Gwadar on the Makran coast, which is being developed as a strategic port by China and features prominently in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan.
In the context of this strategic and economic nexus between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, it will be unwise for New Delhi to seriously believe that it will be able to wean Saudi Arabia away from Pakistan. India should take advantage of any benefit that accrues from India's economic relations with Saudi Arabia but should not pin much hope on Riyadh in the political-strategic sphere.
Clean power GS PAPER 3 environmental pollution CLEANPOWER
The effort to clean up India's thermal power plants running on coal has never really taken off, despite the Ministry of Environment notifying emission limits for major pollutants such as suspended particulate matter, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury in December 2015. Considering that the cumulative impact of these pollutants on the health and well-being of people is severe, the Centre should have followed up the notification with a viable financial plan to help power plants acquire pollution control technologies. . The economics favours such an approach for the larger plants, while for the smaller, older units, scaling down generation during the winter months when pollutants accumulate may prove beneficial
. India's coal use represents just over 54% of the present energy mix and the fuel will continue to retain a high share of the overall generation. The challenge, therefore, is to identify the right instruments to fund the entire exercise, in the interests of pollution control and the wider social objective of extending electricity access to the unreached. . There could be a positive spin-off from sulphur-removal, since it carn yield commercially significant quantities of synthetic gypsum. But even if little else accrues from the effort, the benefits of clean air to public health would make the investment well worth the effort.
. The decision of the central board of the Reserve Bank of India to transfer an interim surplus of 28,000 crore to the Centre should come as a big relief to the Modi government. Together with the 40,000-crore final surplus share for 2017-18, which the Centre received in the first half, the total receipts from the RBI this fiscal will be a tidy 68,000 crore. For a government strapped for finances and struggling to meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 3.4% of GDP, the RBI's largesse will be handy.
This is because the Centre had in the Interim Budget bumped up receipts under this head from the central bank, nationalised banks and other financial institutions to 74,140 crore from the original estimate of 54,817 crore made in the 2018-19 Budget. Clearly, the Finance Ministry knew what it wanted. There will, hopefully, be a system and a structure in place once the committee under former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, that is now reviewing the economic capital framework for the RBI, submits its report. It was constituted to de-personalise and institutionalise a system for the sharing of the RBI's surpluses with the government, and is expected to come out with its recommendations by the end of the next month.
They could not find him. It was the National Disaster Response Force that found his body after an eight-hour search Reports of deaths in similar circumstances appear regularly in the local press in different cities. They attract public attention for a day or two, but fail to sustain it.
Reports identified Kishan Lal as a 'contract worker The meaning of this term has grown and the scope of its use has greatly expanded over recent decades Depending on who your contractor is, you could have a vastly different experience of work under a contract. There was a time when the term was used only in the context of private sector employment because the government alone gave 'permanent' appointments. Economic reforms introduced under liberalisation changed that.
In the case of sanitation, contract work means gross vulnerability and exploitation. The terms of contract are minimalist, and a contractor feels free to enhance his own share of the contract with impunity, by nibbling away the worker's share. Though the government is supposed to regulate the functioning of this contract, it does not show much active interest in doing so. It has been following the general policy of privatisation as a matter of faith, without putting in the effort it takes to work out the details for different sectors and departments.
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