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5th September – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents

  1. Parliament stifled, business, and a word of advice
  2. Tripura and first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh
  3. Amazon tribe talking to Indians about Blood Gold

PARLIAMENT STIFLED, BUSINESS, AND A WORD OF ADVICE

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

  • The upcoming monsoon session of Parliament is emblematic of the issues faced by legislatures during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • Parliament will maintain physical distancing, has truncated the Zero Hour (in which members raise issues pertinent to their constituents and of wider public interest), and cancelled Question Hour (in which Ministers have to answer questions raised by members).

Click Here to read more about Question Hour

A slew of notifications

  • Parliament will be meeting after 175 days, the longest gap without intervening general elections and just short of the six-month constitutional limit.
  • Parliamentary committees did not meet for about four months, and after that have had only in-person meetings, which have led to low attendance, given travel risks and restrictions.
  • The absence of a functioning Parliament or Committees implies that there has been no check or guidance on government action.

Court interventions

  • The lack of parliamentary oversight has been compounded by judicial intervention in many policy issues.
  • For example, the government’s actions related to the lockdown and the hardships caused to migrants should have been questioned by Parliament.
  • Discussions in parliamentary forums would have helped the government get feedback on the ground situation across the country and fine-tune its response.
  • However, this was taken to the Supreme Court.

Short session, much business

  • The fact that the two Houses are working in shifts to use the same physical space limits the scope of extended sittings on any day.
  • In the period since the last session, the government has issued 11 ordinances.
  • Five of these relate to the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown: extending tax filing dates, moratorium on new insolvency cases, protection for health workers, and temporary cuts in salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament and Ministers.
  • Of the other six, two relate to supersession of the Boards of the councils that regulate homoeopathy and Indian systems of medicine, one allows the Reserve Bank of India to regulate cooperative banks (a similar Bill is pending in Parliament), and three relate to agricultural markets (allowing contract farming and trading outside mandis).

Conclusion

  • The absence of Question Hour and a shorter Zero Hour restricts the ability of Members of Parliament to hold the government accountable and represent public interest.
  • That said, Members of Parliament must use other available interventions to ensure that new laws and expenditure proposals are passed only after detailed discussion.
  • Parliamentarians have a duty towards Indian citizens to fulfil their role in scrutinising the work of the government and guiding policy.
  • Despite the curtailed session and the constraints due to the coronavirus, they should make the best of the limited time to do so.

-Source: The Hindu


TRIPURA AND FIRST-EVER INLAND WATERWAY WITH BANGLADESH

Focus: GS-II International Relations, GS-I Geography

Introduction

  • Tripura opens its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh from Sonamura (about 60 km from Agartala) in the Indian side, and Daudkandi of Chittagong in Bangladesh.
  • This project was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes agreed up in 2020.
  • The ambitious project has already been projected by Tripura’s incumbent BJP-IPFT government as a major catalyst to catapult Tripura into a gateway to the North-East.

Tripura’s foreign trade

  • Tripura’s cross-border trade commenced in 1995 and currently, the state exports a handful of goods and materials worth Rs 30 crore to Bangladesh annually, but imports good worth Rs 645 crore.
  • This huge trade deficit is due to abnormally high import duty apparatus in Bangladesh and the absence of many commodities abundant in the state in the list of goods allowed for export as well as port restrictions.
  • Consecutive state governments have nudged Dhaka to smoothen processes for flow of goods.
  • Now, the forthcoming Agartala-Akhaura rail project, Indo-Bangla bridge over River Feni and a second Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Sabroom are also aimed at taking up the quantum of trade between the two sides.

Tripura’s first Inland waterway: River Gomati

  • River Gomati connects with Meghna in Bangladesh via a 90-km stretch of water from Sonamura till Daudkandi.
  • The plan for launching inland waterways connectivity on River Gomati included dredging the riverbed to make way for small ship and boats from Sonamura till Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh.
  • Dredging was deemed necessary given the shallow depth of riverbed and constant sedimentation in the areas where the river meanders below hills.

Making Gomati navigable

  • River Gomati is the largest and longest river of Tripura and is also considered a sacred river and devotees converge along its banks at Tirthmukh every Makar Sankranti.
  • Gomati is also a regulated river. Due to the high altitude of in its upper catchment and Dumbur dam built in 1974 as part of the Gumti hydro-electric power project, the river erodes a lot of sand and rocky particles in its upper segment.
  • Gomati riverbed remains navigable for less than four months a year, that too only during monsoon days.
  • For rest of the year, scanty rainfall in the hills results in low volume while accumulating sediments raise the average riverbed, rendering Gomati even shallower.

-Source: Indian Express


AMAZON TRIBE TALKING TO INDIANS ABOUT BLOOD GOLD

Focus: GS-I Geography

Introduction

From the remote rainforests of Brazil, a little-known tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians – to stop the import of gold by the government and companies saying that “gold which has come from Yanomami territory is Blood Gold, gold at the cost of indigenous blood”.

The Yanomami peoples

  • The Yanomami live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and are, according to Survival International, the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America.
  • The Yanomami are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into North America perhaps 15,000 years ago, and travelled southward to their home in the Amazon.
  • Survival International says the tribe numbers around 38,000 today, and its members live in contiguous forested territory in Brazil.
  • The Yanomami practise an ancient communal way of life.
  • They live in large, circular houses called yanos or shabonos, some of which can hold up to 400 people.
  • It is a Yanomami custom that a hunter does not eat the meat he has killed.
  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief.

Gold rush in Yanomami country

  • Since the 1980s, the Yanomami have been facing an onslaught from illegal gold miners.
  • A fifth of the Yanomami population perished in just seven years.

Why the appeal to Indians?

  • They say that gold mined illegally in Yanomami land has most likely been coming to India since at least 2018 – “but it could be earlier than this as it has been traded on the black market for years”.
  • In 2019, it was reported that one of the states with Yanomami people had exported 194 kg of gold to India since 2018 – and this is concerning as the state in question (Roraima) has NO legal gold mines, but is the state where most of the illegal gold is mined.
  • The report said India was “the fourth largest importer of Brazilian gold in the world”.
  • A report on the Yanomami said a third of the gold produced in Brazil is sold as jewellery in India and China, and that it was difficult for buyers to distinguish between legal and illegal gold.

-Source: Indian Express

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