Why the Election Commission’s strategy to name and shame voters won’t help
(GS-II: Constitutional bodies (powers, functions and responsibilities))
Election Commission had signed MoUs with over 1,000 corporate houses undertaking to monitor the “electoral participation of their workforce” and publish on their websites and notice boards those who do not vote.
Cause of concern:
These developments raise serious issues surrounding voters’ rights, compulsory voting, the secrecy of voting and debates around privacy and coercion.
Probable reasons behind lower voting:
Migrant workers are not registered as voters at their place of work
Out of conviction or for ideological reasons some people don’t vote.
More importantly, there are millions of daily wage workers, and many homeless and ill.
How the above developments Violates the law of the land?
Section 79 D of the Representation of People Act, 1951 defines “electoral right” to mean the right of a person to… vote or refrain from vote at an election”.
The law completely enables, but does not force, citizens to vote.
Section135B of the Representation of People Act, 1951, grants a paid holiday to every person employed in any business, trade, industrial undertaking or any other establishment.
Employers at best can cut the wages of those who take leave but don’t go to vote.
Article 14: Protection of the elector’s identity and affording secrecy is integral to free and fair elections and an arbitrary distinction between a voter who casts and a voter who does not cast his vote is violative of Article 14.
Supreme court judgements: The Supreme Court, in PUCL vs Union of India, 2013, (popularly known as the NOTA judgment) has held that abstention from voting and negative voting is protected as freedom of expression — a fundamental right (Article 19).
How to enhance Voter participation:
Systematic voter education, amply demonstrated by the ECI in elections in all the states and Union territories since 2010 when a voter education division was set up. This soon evolved into its SVEEP programme.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the 67 . 3 per cent turnout beat all previous records. Many states have reached close to 90 per cent turnout and above.
Motivation and facilitation: rather than compulsion, are the best ways to address the issue, has been clearly vindicated by ECI.
Involving institutional participation: such schools and colleges to take the registration facility to the doorstep by introducing voter clubs, campus ambassadors and youth icons and placing drop boxes in colleges for new applications.
Employers have been encouraged to create similar facilities in their offices.
Strictly enforcing the law: Employers are legally obliged to close their establishments on poll day, but this is seldom enforced.
Instead, employers are asked to allow the employees a couple of hours off to enable them to go and vote.
A new lease of LIFE for climate action
(GS-III: Environmental pollution and degradation)
The United Nations Chief Antonio Guterres is on a three-day visit to India, during which he will attend an event relating to the Mission LiFE with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Current threats the world is facing:
Triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Global warming: Nine of the warmest years on record have come in the past decade alone.
This year’s record-breaking heat waves, floods, droughts, and other extreme forms of weather have forced us to face these increasingly devastating impacts.
Climate change is a disruption multiplier in a disrupted world, rolling back progress across the global Sustainable Development Goals.
Ukraine’s war fuels devastating energy, food, and cost-of-living crisis.
Stepes taken to deal with the crisis:
The Paris Agreement and the COP26 summit in Glasgow represent urgently, collective steps countries are taking to limit emissions.
Commitments we have now will not keep warming below the 1 . 5 °C target that gives us the best chance of averting catastrophe.
Lack of consumer participation: As governments and industry carry the lion’s share of responsibility for responding to the crisis, we as consumers play a large role in driving unsustainable production methods.
The Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. The prime minister called upon global leaders to join the movement for safeguarding the environment by adopting environment-friendly lifestyle.
It recognises small individual actions can tip the balance in the planet’s favour.
But we need guiding frameworks, information sharing and the scale of a global movement.
It recognises that accountability is relative to contribution.
Emissions across the poorest half of the world’s population combined still fall short of even 1% of the wealthiest.
Differentiated approaches: Each ‘Pro Planet’ stakeholder is nudged according to differentiated approaches.
Mindful choices cultivated by LIFE animate this spirit — actions such as saving energy at home; cycling and using public transport instead of driving etc. and leveraging our position as customers and employees to demand climate-friendly choices.
Nudging: Many of the goals of LIFE can be achieved by deploying ‘nudges’, gentle persuasion techniques to encourage positive behavior.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) employs proven nudging techniques such as discouraging food waste by offering smaller plates in cafeterias; encouraging recycling by making bin lids eye-catching.
According to the UNEP, more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to household consumption and lifestyles — thus it requires widespread adoption of greener consumption habits.
India’s track record:
India has a proven track record of translating the aspirations of national missions into whole-of-society efforts.
For instance, the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which mobilised individuals and communities across socio-economic strata to become drivers of collective good health and sanitation.
From the Panchamrit targets announced by Modi at COP26, to support the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and South-South cooperation platforms etc.
Onus on the developed world:
The average carbon footprint of a person in a high-income country is more than 80 times higher than that of a person in a least-developed country.
It is common sense and only fair to call on the developed world to shoulder a proportionate share of this transition.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
India is an excellent place to start. With over 1.3 billion people, if we achieve a true Jan Andolan here, the momentum generated will be enormous. As India leads, we see the world increasingly follow.
Swadesh Darshan 2
The government is planning to launch Swadesh darshan scheme 2.0 with chosen destinations from 15 States.
Swadesh Darshan scheme:
It was launched by the Centre in 2014-15 for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
Implementing body: Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to respective state governments and UTs.
Some of the prominent circuits launched under this were the Buddhist tourist circle, Ambedkar Tourist Circle and the North-East Tourist Circle.
Swadesh Darshan scheme 2.0:
From December, the revamped scheme would be launched.
One Health Joint Plan of Action (2022-2026)
(GS-III: Environment Conservation)
FAO, UNEP, WHO and World Organization for Animal Health have together launched One Health joint plan of action to address health threats to humans, plants and the environment.
One Health is an approach calling for “the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment”, as defined by the One Health Initiative Task Force.
Enhance capacities to strengthen the health system
Reduce risk from zoonotic epidemics and pandemics.
Control and eliminate zoonotic, neglected tropical and vector-borne diseases
Assess, manage and communicate effectively food safety risks
Curb Antimicrobial Resistance ( termed as ‘silent pandemic’)
Environment and health Policies must be integrated into One Health.
Need for One Health:
Human health cannot be considered in isolation– It depends highly on the quality of the environment in which people live: for people to be healthy, they need healthy environments.
Increasing temperatures are supporting range expansion for disease vectors, with the resulting spread of vector-borne diseases expected in humans and animals.
Temperature-related mortality alone is expected to rise to rival current levels of obesity- and diet-related illness.
COVID-19 and intersections with the climate-health crisis
Growing water and food insecurity and safety hazards
What more needs to be done?
Mainstream health into climate change and biodiversity agendas and fund health programs within the UNFCCC.
Integrate health impact assessment in all development project appraisals
Assess and quantify the health co-benefits of proposed environmental investments (e.g. REDD+)
Increase application of existing climate and health forecasting tools and early warning systems for human and animal health (such as those promoted by the WMO-WHO joint office)
The ecosystem-based approach to Healthcare exists at the interface between the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems and recognizes the inextricable linkages between the health of all species and their environments. A basic tenet held is that health and well-being cannot be sustained on a resource-depleted, polluted, and socially unstable planet.