International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
The United Nations’ International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed every year on August 23 to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade, the largest deportation in history.
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in many countries, in particular in Haiti, on August 23, 1998, and in Senegal on August 23, 1999.
Significance of the day:
The day is commemorated to pay tribute to all those who fought for freedom and worked hard to abolish the slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the actions used to fight against the system of slavery had an impact on the human rights movement.
Steps taken by the UNESCO:
To honour the history of the slave trade and its abolition, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 2017, added to its World Heritage List the Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola) and the Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil), as an acknowledgement of their “outstanding universal value.”
UNESCO also started an initiative in 1994 known as the ‘Slave Route’ project to contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, issues and consequences of slavery in the world.
The Haitian revolution:
The night of August 22-23, 1791, in Saint-Domingue, in what is Haiti and the Dominican Republic today, saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
Men and women sold into slavery, revolted against the slave system to obtain freedom and independence for Haiti. The rebellion weakened the Caribbean colonial system, sparking an uprising that led to abolishing slavery and giving the island its independence.
It marked the beginning of the destruction of the slavery system, the slave trade, and colonialism. The large and well-organized uprising, better known as the Haitian Revolution, lasted 13 years and ended with the independent nation of Haiti.
In 1888, nearly 85 years later, Brazil became the last nation in America to abolish slavery.
Outcomes and impact:
The success of the rebellion, led by the slaves is a deep source of inspiration today for the fight against all forms of servitude, racism, prejudice, racial discrimination and social injustice that are a legacy of slavery.
Source: The Hindu
Sweden launches ‘feminist foreign policy’ manual
Sweden has released a handbook of its “feminist foreign policy” for rights groups and foreign governments, showcasing lessons from the Scandinavian nation’s flagship approach to promoting women’s rights globally.
Highlights of the manual:
The manual is derived from four years of work to place gender equality at the heart of the country’s international agenda.
Sweden began its feminist foreign policy “in response to the discrimination and systematic subordination that still mark the daily lives of countless women and girls around the world”.
Its goals include the promotion of economic emancipation, fighting sexual violence and improving women’s political participation.
Projects cited in the manual include an action plan for five war-torn and post-conflict nations — Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and the Palestinian Territories — building in targets for women’s rights and empowerment for the first time.
The handbook highlights Sweden’s work in Congo to promote “positive masculinity” in the country, where it is has run initiatives such as promoting social media debate on men’s role in society.
It’s “too early” to draw any conclusions about whether the feminist approach leads to significant change. While gender equality was “an object in itself”, it is “essential” in achieving more general government objectives, like peace, security and sustainable development.
Source: The Hindu
Odisha approves proposal for legislative council
The Odisha government has approved a proposal for setting up a legislative council in the state. A resolution will be brought in the monsoon session of the Odisha legislative Assembly.
The proposed legislative council will have 49 members. The members of the proposed council will get salary and allowance as given to the members of the legislative Assembly.
What are the Legislative Councils, and why are they important?
India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament. At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.
A second House of legislature is considered important for two reasons: one, to act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House and, two, to ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
Why do we need a second house?
Opposition to the idea of Legislative Councils is centred on three broad arguments. One, they can be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election. Two, they can be used to delay progressive legislation. Three, they would strain state finances.
Opinion in the Constituent Assembly was divided on the question of having a Legislative Council. The idea was backed on the above grounds; it was also suggested that having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.
Creation of a legislative council:
Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.
Strength of the house:
As per article 171 clause (1) of the Indian Constitution, the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall not exceed one third of the total number of the members in the legislative Assembly of that state and the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall in no case be less than 40. (The exception is J&K, where the Legislative Council has 36 members vide Section 50 of the constitution of the state.)
How are members of the Council elected?
About 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly, another 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers, and 1/12th by registered graduates. The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service. Legislative Councils are permanent Houses, and like Rajya Sabha, one-third of their members retire every two years.
Do Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishads have similar powers?
Not really. The constitution gives Councils limited legislative powers. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack the constitutional mandate to do so. Legislative Assemblies have the power to override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
Also, while Rajya Sabha MPs can vote in the election of the President and Vice-President, members of Legislative Councils can’t. MLCs also can’t vote in the elections of Rajya Sabha members.
Source: The Hindu
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna
The Centre has approved construction of nearly 1.12 lakh more affordable houses for urban poor in eight states under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, with Andra Pradesh bagging the largest share of over 37,000 housing units.
According to the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, which is mandated to implement the scheme, the total number of houses being funded under the PMAY (Urban) is close to 55 lakh across the country so far.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
Source: The Hindu
SCO Peace Mission Exercise
The 2018 SCO Peace Mission Exercise is being held in Russia.
The previous SCO counter-terrorism drills were mainly limited to the Central Asian nations. But due to the entry of India and Pakistan, the SCO’s counter-terrorism mission has expanded to South Asia.
The 2018 exercise will be the first for India and Pakistan since becoming full members of the SCO in 2017. It also will be the first time India and Pakistan take part in a military exercise together since their independence, though their militaries have previously worked on United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, also known as the Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Apart from Uzbekistan, the other five countries have been a part of the Shanghai 5 since 1996. The cooperation was renamed to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation after Uzbekistan joined the organisation in 2001.
New members: India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members in June 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The SCO’s main goals are: strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
Source: The Hindu
Commute-related pollution: Kolkata shines among megacities
A report, titled ‘The Urban Commute and How it Contributes to Pollution and Energy’, compiled by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has been released.
The report is an analysis of 14 cities in India on how they fare when it comes to pollution and energy consumption from urban commuting.
Basis for ranking of the cities:
In the study, with an aggregate of toxic emissions from urban commuting practices, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, the cities were ranked based on calculations of heat trapping (CO2). The study took two approaches to rank the cities one based on overall emission and energy consumption and the other on per person trip emissions and energy consumption.
Performance of various cities:
Concerns and causes:
Motorization in India is explosive. Initially, it took 60 years (1951-2008) for India to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles. Thereafter, the same number of vehicles was added in a mere six years (2009-15).
According to the report, though metropolitan cities scored better than megacities due to lower population, lower travel volume and lower vehicle numbers, they were at risk due to a much higher share of personal vehicle trips.
Lessons from the study:
Importance of public transport: Kolkata provides a resounding message that despite population growth and rising travel demand, it is possible to contain motorization. This is possible only with a well established public transport culture, compact city design, high street density and restricted availability of land for roads and parking. Both Kolkata and Mumbai have grown with a unique advantage of a public transport spine well integrated with existing land use patterns.
Independent of income levels: Mumbai had the highest GDP but a lower rate of motorization compared with other megacities, proving that income levels were not the only reason for deciding a population’s dependence on automobiles.
Meanwhile Chennai was the first city to adopt a non-motorized transport (NMT) policy in 2004 that aims to arrest the decline of walking or cycling by creating a network of footpaths, bicycle tracks and greenways.
Source: The Hindu
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