December 30, 2013
( Today, there were only few important articles, hence more emphasis is given on thinking about these issues & development from different dimensions.
P.S: if you think we have missed out on any important article please do share)
Railways ‘safety’ high on alert
- Railway accidents in India is on the rise .Recently a three-tier air-conditioned coach of the Bangalore-Nanded Express was engulfed in flames near Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), claiming 26 lives in the early hours of December 28.Preliminary investigation has revealed that, an electrical short circuit in the coach may be the reason behind the tragedy.
- Fires in running trains are not new to the Indian Railways, but the unfortunate fact is that when it happens in the dead of night and that too in an enclosed air-conditioned coach, the chances of survival are bleak.
- Similarly, in July 2012, 47 passengers were killed when a coach of the Tamil Nadu Express caught fire near Nellore, also in Andhra Pradesh. Derailments, collisions, fire and accidents at unmanned level crossings account for the bulk of railway calamities in India.
- This calamity can be overcome by use of non-combustible and non-inflammable materials in railway coaches. On these lines, the Railway Ministry had decided to make the shift, and coach production units were asked to go in for fire-retardant material. But the major drawback over here is- it’s a slow process and only ‘new coaches’ could be made with them. The problem persists with the old coaches still in use.
- Also a major drive to check passengers carrying stoves or inflammable materials was launched, and to a certain extent this was successful. Two other major sources of fire incidents relate to overheating wheels and electrical short circuit.
- Now with advances in technology, it should be possible for the Indian Railways to detect such hazards in time to prevent a fire.
- Smoke detectors and circuit breakers have become commonplace and can easily be installed in trains. Though fire extinguishers exist, it is seldom operational and it must be made sure that every railway station is equipped to fight fires.
- Several inquiries and Commission reports have pointed to gaps in safety measures and suggested follow-up action. The ‘Kakodkar committee on safety’ in 2012 had pointed to an “implementation bug” and recommended a massive Rs.1 lakh crore programme over five years to ensure complete safety on the wheels. It had also suggested an allocation of Rs.20,000 crore a year, which can also be generated by means of a safety cess on passengers.
- It is high time that more importance must be given to ‘safety’ of the passengers and funding the required measures. Preventive measure is anytime better than curative measures.
- What are the reasons for frequent railway accidents? Suggest some measures to overcome the mishaps.
- What are the steps taken by the govt. in this regard?
- Committee’s appointed by the govt. in order to improve the working of railways (for example: karkodar committee etc.- their recommendations)
- Should railways be privatized? Your views.
Middle-income countries key to future development
- With Globalisation being the engine of emerging economies’(Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Mexico, Colombia etc.) growth, trade has increased exponentially, but the performance of these economies has slowed down in the last couple of years (since 2011).
- About 1,500 covert protectionist measures’ have been introduced by G20 members since 2008 and amid stagnant wages, high unemployment, and anaemic growth, support for globalisation has been on the decline in advanced economies.
- Also there has been threat to sustainability across the globe – Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are now 46% higher than they were in 1990, and the International Energy Agency estimates that existing policies will result in long-term warming of between 3.6°C (38.5°F) and 5.3°C well into the zone where catastrophic climate tipping points could be triggered, potentially wiping out progress made on poverty reduction over the past 15 years.
- Yet, decisive action(s) have not been taken to halt these trends due to frequent disagreements and concerns about competitiveness.
- Efforts to formulate new international development targets to succeed the millennium development goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015 are emerging as a key indicator of what the future holds.
- Countries across the globe have agreed at 2013 U.N. general assembly that the post-2015 goals should be universal, targeting not only the 1 billion people living in absolute poverty, but all 7 billion of the world’s inhabitants.
- But the reality is that, the new development agenda calls for important role of ‘middle-income’ countries, since they form the majority of the population and also they are much ‘less reliant’ on foreign assistance than they were when the MDGs were agreed upon. Of course, middle-income countries still face huge development challenges (with majority of poor people, illiteracy, health issues among others)
- If global world is thinking of eliminating poverty by 2030 (the probable headline target of the post-2015 goals), limiting global warming to 2°C, or move to more sustainable and inclusive globalisation, then there is a strong urge for a new global partnership with middle-income countries fully on board.
- Concept of ‘balance of power’ in the contemporary world.
- What are MDGs? Achievement of India in this regard.
- Bring out 3 major issues faced by the global world. What measures are taken to tackle these issues (by the developed and developing countries)? How successful have these measures been?
- Difference between ‘growth’ and ‘development’?
- Impact of globalisation on the developing countries (India in particular).
- Do you think post-2015 goals should be ‘universal’? Your views and suggestions.