Insights Daily Current Events, 22 November 2014
SC approves new wildlife board
The Supreme Court has approved the Centre’s reconstituted National Board for Wildlife.
Implication: it has paved the way for the clearance of over 140 big infrastructure projects.
In August, the apex court had restrained the newly-constituted standing committee under the National Board for Wildlife from clearing any project falling in and around national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves.
National Board for Wildlife:
It is a statutory organization constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It was constituted under the provisions of amended Wildlife (Protection) Act replacing the Indian Board for Wildlife.
Purpose: to review all wildlife related matters and approve the projects in and around the National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.
- Its recommendations are Advisory in nature.
- It is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.
- Minister of Environment and Forests is its Vice chairman.
Members: It has 47 members including the Chairman. Amongst these, 19 members are ex-officio members. The members other than ex-officio members include
- 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok Sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha)
- 5 NGO’s and
- 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and Environmentalists.
The term of office of members other than those who are members ex-officio expires after three years from the date of the constitution/re-constitution.
- The Board is responsible for promotion of conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
- It helps the Central and State governments in framing policies and advices on conservation and promotion of wildlife.
- It carries out impact assessment of projects in areas inhabited by Wildlife.
- It recommends the state governments on alteration of boundaries of a sanctuary or National Park.
- No alteration of boundaries of a tiger reserve can be made except on recommendation of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the National Board for Wildlife.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, envfor.nic.in.
250,000 Indians to benefit from Obama plan
U.S. President has announced his intention to carry out a “lawful” executive action to fix the country’s “broken” immigration system. It seeks to significantly liberalise the visa regime for students, professionals and budding entrepreneurs, as the US tries to stop those with high potential and specialised skills from leaving its shores.
- This measure would offer three-year deferment of deportation proceedings and the right to work legally in US to nearly four million undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before the age of 16.
- Among the four million immigrants who stand to gain from this policy action will be a number undocumented Indian citizens in the U.S., whose total population the Department of Homeland Security estimates to be 250,000.
Among the broad areas of policy change that the executive action would bring about are three main themes, namely
- more resources for policing the U.S.’ borders to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants;
- the deferred deportation of certain immigrants; and
- a more streamlined process for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to the U.S. economy.
How will this help the Students?
- Students pursuing courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programmes in US universities can look forward to a prolonged stay, compared to the 29 months they are currently entitled to under the optional practical training (OPT) programme, till they secure work visas.
- Also, the OPT programme will be expanded to cover more courses. Typically, the programme is for 12 months, extendable by 17 months for students pursuing STEM courses.
- Clarity on L-1 visas, largely used by Indian software companies to send workers with specialised skills to the US
- Directions have been given to hasten processing of green cards for skilled individuals & allowing change of employer while waiting for approval
How the US will be benefited?
- These measures will help attract and retain talent in the US by addressing some of the operational and social issues, alleviating skills shortages to some extent.
Sources: The Hindu.
Asia-Pacific declaration ignores sexual rights of women
The Asian and Pacific ministerial declaration, on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, was unanimously adopted by the Countries present at the conference. But key aspect of the Beijing declaration and platform for action adopted in 1995 on sexual rights was left out after objections by some countries.
Objectives of the Conference:
- to assess and review the Beijing goals, recommit to the centrality of gender equality and strengthen social institutions
In the Beijing declaration and platform for action, Section 96 had said: “The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relationships between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behaviour and its consequences.”
What is the real issue now?
- In the declaration adopted, sexual rights have not been acknowledged in the section on women and health, and the reference is only to protection of reproductive rights for all.
- The declaration has left out the concerns of adolescents, and issues of cybercrime, date rape, sexual assault in educational institutions.
- Activists say that it has diluted an otherwise comprehensive ministerial outcome.
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, approved in September 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, is a global pledge to attaining equality, development and peace for women worldwide. The Platform for action requires immediate action by all to generate a just, humane and peaceful world based on fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Aim: it aims at removing all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making at home, in the workplace and in the wider national and international communities.
The Beijing Platform concentrates on 12 “critical areas of concern” that require attention in order to achieve gender quality and women’s empowerment:
- violence against women
- human rights of women
- women and armed conflict
- women and poverty
- education and training of women
- women and health
- women and the media
- women and the economy
- women in power and decision-making
- institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
- women and the environment
- The girl child
The Beijing Platform for Action requires all governments to develop policies and national plans of action to implement the Platform locally. The National Plans of Action for each country outline specific activities that the national governments will undertake to advance the situation of women, including addressing violence against women.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, www.un.org.