Thursday, 22 May 2014

International Biodiversity day , 2014

Today(May 22,2014),UP Biodiversity Board celebrated  International Biodiversity Day at Lucknow,Uttar Pradesh ,India.The venue was Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University ,Lucknow.The chief guest was  Dr. S. W. A. Naqvi,Director, National Institute of Oceanography,Goa,India.The other invitees included Dr. Gurdeep Singh,Vice Chancellor  of the law University,Sri B.C. Chaudhury, Sri Deepak Apte, Smt Meetali  Kakkar, Dr. Rauf Ali, Dr. A. R. Tirunavukarsu,Dr. Dhruv Sen Singh.Here below is the gist of what I said:
                    The issues related to ecology , environment  and climate change  are becoming really urgent , as each day passes.There are a large number of tuberculosis cases reported in Sonbhadra  district of Uttar Pradesh, due to the contamination and pollution of drinking water supply , caused by the effluents discharged by Thermal Power Plants , Coal mines , Cement plants and a few large industries in that district  .National Green Tribunal has passed orders for supply of pure drinking water  through tankers , and also installation of Reverse Osmosis Plants  at the sources of drinking water .This situation shows the need for taking urgent action on the model of development that we must choose .Any development model must take ecology and environment into account.Otherwise it could be at the cost of health of the citizens.This urgency was also emphasized by Al Gore in The Inconvenient Truth.
                                 While the theme of International Biodiversity Day , 2014  has been declared as Island Biodiversity, and I have no doubt that it is important to conserve biodiversity of islands.But I decided to focus on biodiversity issues in general , with special reference to Uttar Pradesh.I was sure that chief guest and other speakers will cover the theme of Island Biodiversity.There is a need to preserve and coserve the endangered species like Vultures,Dolphins,Turtles , Ghariyals and Lions in U.P.But equally important is the conservation, preservation and governance of biodiversity , in general in every nook and corner of the state.
                      While the Biodiversity Act of 2002 is over 11 years old , the awareness of its importance is yet to reach in all over one lac villages of Uttar Pradesh.Local  Biodiversity Management Committees  have to be set up in all the 53000 Gram Sabhas.Also People's biodiversity  registers have to be made in each gram Sabha, by biodiversity resource mapping.Thirdly , commercial exploitation of natural resources requires regulation , and also there is  a need for equitable  distribution of profits.
                For good biodiversity governance, we must involve:
1.Government departments and agencies.
2.local communities.
3.local self governance institutions  and local bodies like municipal corporations and district Panchayats, etc.
4.Government supported institutions such as Joint forest management committees and Eco development councils.
5.Companies and businesses.
We also need to manage our Protected areas better.After intellectual , legal and technical discussions , we need to take biodiversiy issues to the masses.
        With the  partnership of Centre of Environment Education(CEE) and state agencies like UP Pollution Control Board ,UPO Biodiversity Board and Lucknow Zoo , we have decided to take three initiatives:
1.Running of a Biodiversity Bus to schools.
2.Environment youth leadership awards.
3.Setting up of a state of the art Interpretation Centre at Lucknow Zoo.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjaya Baru

At the outset,let me say that Sanjaya Baru  deserves to be complimented  for writing a book which is thrilling , fast -paced and unputdownable.The hardbound edition(Penguin/Viking) has 300 pages.The subtitle of the book  is:The Making and Unmaking of Man Mohan Singh.
                          The book gives glimpses of the working of the Prime Minister of India , Man Mohan Singh mainly during UPA-1 rule(2004-2009) as seen by the author from the ring side.Sanjaya Baru was handpicked by Man Mohan Singh as his Media Advisor ,in the rank of Additional Secretary but reporting direct to the latter.The book is essentially journalistic and subjective , and therefore cannot be said to be based  purely on evidence.In that sense, it is not a piece of research on Indian governance system , the working of PMO , or the PM .But it does provide us confirmation about what persons interested in Indian governance system have guessed  all along .
            The main one achievement of Man Mohan Singh , in his ten years tenure as the PM of India was signing of Indo-US nuclear Pact  on July18,2005.Sanjay Baru gives ,in a convincing way ,the credit for this to Man Mohan Singh.
                         The book focusses on the making and unmaking of Man Mohan Singh , especially during the four years (2004-2008).The role of Dr. Singh as Finance Minister of India has been mentioned in  a short para.It also touches only summarily the remaining six years (2009-2014) of  the ten years when Man Mohan Singh was the PM .Thus it is only the part of the story of the making and unmaking of  Man mohan singh as accidental Prime Minister.
                    The book gives an interesting insight into the subjective  and political manner in which  the important posts like Deputy Chairman and Members of bodies like  Planning Commission are handpicked and appointed.It mentions how the PM was forced not to appoint Sanjaya Baru himself as his Advisor , despite the PM himself wanting  it and having invited him .The PM said ;"I am sorry about what happened.You see,you must understand  one thing .I have come to terms with this.There cannot be two centres of power.That creates confusion.I have to accept that the party  president is the centre of power.The government is answerable to the party".(page 270).Dr. Singh's general attitude  towards corruption in public life  seemed to be that he would himself maintain the highest standards of probity in public life  but he turned  a blind eye on the misdeeds of his ministers(page84).This complete surrender to the party president and not taking the responsibility of controlling the corruption of his ministers ,  point to fatal  flaws of Man Mohan Singh , not withstanding his competence as an economist .
                 I recommend you to read this book .It forces you to ask this question:What to do now, to  give India a good governance (political and administrative) system ,which  our country desperately  needs?