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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 21 February 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 21 February 2023


Contents

  1. Climate change may green the Thar Desert  
  2. Examining the UAPA’s Purpose

Climate Change May Green The Thar Desert


Context

  • BN Goswami of the Department of Physics at Cotton University in Guwahati and PV Rajesh of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune recently proposed that the Thar desert’s extinction is a real possibility as a result of global warming.
    • They used rainfall and climate data, concentrating on the so-called Indian Ocean Warm Pool, to support their theory (IOWP).

Relevance

GS Paper-3: Climate Change and its impacts.

Mains Question

Describe the warm pool in the Indian Ocean. Analyze how the IOWP has affected the distribution of the monsoon in India. (150 Words)


Highlights

Although climate change has many negative effects, on the other hand, it might be good for the Thar desert.

In the direction of the Thar Desert becoming greener

  • The Indian Ocean Warm Pool (IOWP), which is located in the Indian Ocean, has been known to exist for many years.
  • In the majority of regions, the Indian Ocean warm pool (IOWP), which is comprised of sea surface temperatures (SST) values > 28 °C, is significantly growing.
    • The IOWP is moving westward in response to climate change.
  • Ocean surface evaporation is cooled by atmospheric winds, which occasionally causes deeper, colder waters to rise to the surface. This occurrence is referred to as “upwelling.”
  • This occurs in the western Arabian Sea during the summertime close to the Somalian coast.
    • As a result, the area’s waters are cooler, leaving another location with a “warm pool.”
  • Evaporating water rises at the warm pool’s western edge, but the earth’s rotation pulls it diagonally across India.
  • As a result, the northeast receives precipitation for 150 days while the northwest only receives rainfall for 70 days.
  • The ‘length of the rainy season’ would increase by 50–100% over the semi-arid northwest of India as a result of the IOWP moving further west.
    • As a result, the Thar desert might experience plentiful rains and gradually turn green.

The Thar Desert

  • The Thar Desert, also referred to as the Great Indian Desert, is a sizable and arid region in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent.
    • It is roughly 200,000 square kilometres in size.
    • It creates a natural border between Pakistan and India.
  • About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 15% is in Pakistan.
    • It is split between Punjab and Sindh (Sind) provinces in eastern Pakistan and Rajasthan, Gujarat state, in northwestern India.
    • Sand dunes encircle an undulating sandy plain.
    • There is very little rainfall in this area—less than 150 mm annually. It is rapidly growing due to population migration, changes in the rainfall pattern, the spread of sand dunes, and unscientific plantation drive, along with the gradual destruction of the Aravalli ranges. It has an arid climate with little vegetation cover.

Convention of the United Nations to Combat Desertification

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is an international agreement that aims to stop desertification and lessen the effects of drought through national action plans that include long-term plans backed by partnerships and international cooperation.
  • The Convention was adopted in Paris, France, on June 17, 1994, and went into effect in December 1996. It is the only convention that directly refers to Agenda 21 from the Rio Conference.
  • It is the lone international legal agreement established to deal with the issue of desertification.
  • It is founded on the fundamentals of good governance and sustainable development—participation, partnership, and decentralisation.
  • In 2019, COP14 took place in New Delhi.

Expected Timeline

  • Although it is impossible to predict whether it will occur in 50 or 100 years, the Indian monsoon will continue to move west as long as global warming persists, at the very least through the end of the century.
  • The increased rainfall dispersed over a longer season will aid in the growth of taller vegetation. The length of the monsoon season is predicted to increase from approximately 70 days to approximately 90 days by that time.
    • If water is not made available to the plants during the dry winter months, such as by irrigation or water table elevation, they could perish.
  • Therefore, if the run-off from the monsoon season could be harvested, greening would be hastened.

Conclusion

  • Over time, the increased rainfall has the potential to significantly boost local food production and green the desert.
  • To increase groundwater reserves in the short term, it is necessary to plan for harvesting the extra water.

Examining the UAPA’s Purpose


Context

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, India’s comprehensive anti-terror law, has recently been the focus of two cases. There has never been a constitutional review of UAPA. Our constitutional principles are undermined by its persistent violations.

Relevance

GS Paper-2: Indian Constitution – historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Mains Question

There has never been a constitutional review of UAPA. The constitutional principles are undermined by its persistent violations. critically assess (250 words)


Key Points:

  • Since the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in 2002 and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in 1985, the extraordinary nature of anti-terror laws has continued to be a subject of intense political debate.
  • TADA and POTA were notorious for their protracted pretrial detention, in-custody abuse, fabricated charges, and coerced confessions.
  • The UAPA version from 2004 was intended to be a more compassionate version of its forerunners.

UAPA Provisions

  • Act of 1967 to Prevent Illegal Activities Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, is primarily an anti-terror law that aims to deal with terrorist activities and more effectively prevent some types of unlawful behaviour by people and organisations.
    • The Act’s most important provisions: o The Act gives the federal government unrestricted authority. It may publish an official gazette designating a particular activity as illegal.
  • The highest penalties under the act are the death penalty and life in prison.
    • Both Indian and foreign nationals may be charged under the act. Even if the crime is committed on a foreign country’s territory outside of India, it will still apply to the offenders in the same way.
    • Within a maximum of 180 days of the arrests, the investigating agency may submit a charge sheet. If additional information is provided to the court, this time frame may be extended.
    • 2019 Amendment: The amendment gives the Central Government the authority to label people as terrorists based on specific criteria.
      • When the case is being investigated by the agency, it gives the Director-General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the authority to approve the seizure or attachment of property.
      • It also gives NIA officers with the rank of Inspector or higher the authority to look into cases of terrorism in addition to those that are looked into by state officers with the rank of DSP, ACP, or higher.

Courts’ roles:

  • The Supreme Court developed many protections for how TADA and POTA were applied through judicial interventions.
    • Setting up state and central review committees to prevent the abuse of TADA and classifying TADA detainees into four different brackets to grant bail (Shaheen Welfare Association v. Union of India, 1996) were two such significant judicial innovations (Kartar Singh v State of Punjab, 1994).
    • But in the UAPA era, the court has not been able to offer sufficient safeguards against arbitrary detentions, malicious prosecutions, and protracted pretrial detentions. The ruling in NIA v. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali (2020) has made issuing bail all but impossible.

Examining the Purpose of the UAPA:

  • The discussion of the UAPA must go beyond the legality of a few specific provisions. The intent and reach of the law must be carefully considered. Proportionality, a fundamental principle of our Constitution, is the main concern.
    • The Court must decide whether the scope and effects of UAPA are noticeably disproportionate to its stated objectives. The definitions of terms like “terrorist act,” “illegal activity,” “advocacy,” “conspiracy,” “likely to threaten,” and “likely to strike terror” are ambiguous and seem to give agencies arbitrary power.
    • Although concepts like “terrorist act” are ambiguous and subject to interpretation, the proper parameters for judicial decision-making can be established.
      • The most important thing is to have a law that effectively fights terrorism while upholding the Constitution’s requirements. The ability to locate, eliminate, and prosecute terrorists should take precedence.

Conclusion:

  • The UAPA has one of the lowest rates of successful prosecution. Less than 3% of arrests connected to the UAPA between 2015 and 2020 resulted in convictions, according to a PUCL report from 2022.
  • In accordance with the report, only 1,080 of the 4,690 individuals detained under the UAPA between 2018 and 2020 received bail. Several petitions challenging the legality of the 2019 amendment, through which the government can now label people as terrorists, are currently pending before the SC.
  • The Court must take advantage of the chances presented by these challenges to clearly define the goals of the law.

June 2024
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