PARLIAMENTARY NEWS

UNINTERRUPTED CONNECTIVITY FROM RAJGHAT TO VIJAY GHAT

Uninterrupted connectivity from Rajghat to Vijay Ghat to be available by September,2015

There is no shortage of Barat Ghars and Community Centres in Delhi. This information was given by the Minister of State for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Babul Supriyo to Lok Sabha today. In a written reply, the Minister stated that based on the information furnished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board(DUSIB), there is no shortage of such facilities. DDA has received five proposals from the Delhi Government for allotment of land for construction of Community Halls/Barat Ghars. DUSIB has received a proposal for construction of a Barat Ghar in JJ Colony, Madangir under MLA Fund.

Shri Babul Supriyo also informed the House that uninterrupted connectivity between Rajghat and Vijay Ghat will be made available by the end of September next year. He stated that such connectivity is already available between Rajghat and Shakti Sthal and work is in progress to extend it to Shantivana, Rashtriya Smriti and Vijay Ghat.

The Minister informed the House that DDA is making efforts to refund the security deposit to the unsuccessful applicants of the DDA Housing Scheme, 2014 with in one month of the draw held on 25.11.2014, though the guidelines provides for 90 days for such refund. Shri Supriyo informed that if there is a delay in making refund, simple interest of 8% per annum will be paid on the deposit.

FORECASTING OF NATURAL CALAMITIES

India is vulnerable, in varying degrees, to a large number of hazards. More than 58.6 per cent of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity; over 40 million hectares (12%) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion; close to 5,700 km, India’s 7,516 km, long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis; 68% of its cultivable area is vulnerable to droughts; and, its hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches. Moreover, India is also vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made hazards. Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities associated with changing demographics and socio-economic conditions, unregulated urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, other developmental constrains, epidemics and pandemics.
Earth System Science Organization-India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD) is responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of Cyclones. ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS), Hyderabad is responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of Tsunami due to sea-bed earthquakes and storm surges associated with cyclone landfall. ESSO-National centre of Seismology (ESSO-NCS) is responsible for monitoring, detection of Earthquakes along with operational research in pure and applied seismology and earthquake precursory phenomena, earthquake processes and modelling.

ESSO-IMD is also responsible for monitoring, detection and forecasting of other severe weather phenomena like norwesters (severe thunder storms), dust storms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., which cause destruction of life and property. ESSO-IMD also operates Flood Meteorological Offices (FMOs) at ten locations, viz. Agra, Ahmedabad, Asansol, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jalpaiguri, Lucknow, New Delhi and Patna. FMOs provide valuable meteorological support to the Central Water Commission (CWC) for issuing flood warnings in respect of the 43 rivers of India: i)Agra – Lower Yamuna and Betwa ; ii)Ahmedabad – Narmada, Tapi, Mahi, Sabarmati, Banas and Deman Ganga; iii)Asansol – Ajay, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati; iv)Bhubaneshwar – Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baiterini, Bruhaba-lang, Subernarekha, Rushkulya and Vansdhara; v)Guwahati – Brahmaputra and Barak; vi)Hyderabad – Godawari and Krishna; vii)Jalpaiguri – Teesta; viii)Lucknow – Ganga, Ramganga, Gomti, Sai, Rapti Ghagra and Samda; ix)New Delhi – Upper Yamuna, Lower Yamuna, Sahibi; x)Patna – Kosi, Mahananda, Baghmati, Kamla, Gandak, Buri Gandak,North Koel, Kanhar, PunPun and Upper Sone. The floods in plains are forecasted about 6 hours to 30 hours in advance by CWC.

Except for earthquake for which no warning system exists. ESSO-IMD operates 24X7 monitoring of satellite based weather monitoring over the potential cyclogenic zones of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea for detecting the cyclogenesis. Commissioning of the high performance computing (HPC) system has provided opportunity to assimilate satellite radiance, Doppler Weather Radar (DWR), OCEANSAT (scatterometer, total precipitable water content) data, etc. of global oceans in to the global (22km grid scale)/meso-scale(9Km grid scale) forecast systems.

Data generated from all observing systems viz. surface and upper air observations, satellite observations, aircraft observations, DWRs etc. are fully used by various forecast models to generate most representative initial state 3-D structure of the atmosphere and high resolution (9km grid scale) forecasts over India to predict heavy rainfall occurrences. Further, DWR network is primarily employed to improve the severe weather surveillance capability and for operating now-casting (very short range up to 6h in advance) service (operated for about 147 locations across India).

As and when the cyclone systems move in to the 500 km surveillance range of DWRs, identification of strong wind zones and pockets of heavy rainfall within the core cyclone area is carried out and their rapid changes are monitored on continuous basis. ESSO-IMD currently operates 5- Doppler Weather Radars (DWR) at Chennai, Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Sriharikota on the east coast, 675 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and 1210 Automatic Rain Gauges (ARG) have been commissioned covering all districts of India. With the commissioning of the state-of-the-art observing, monitoring/ early warning and data visualization/information processing and communication technologies, several manual operations have been fully automated.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has formulated various hazard specific guidelines for protection of life and property during natural as well as manmade disasters. Loss of life and damage to property due to various hazards could be considerably reduced through proper planning and implementation of pre and post-disaster preparedness and management strategies by respective State and Central Government agencies in a coordinated manner. NDMA regularly conducts Mock Drills on various disasters taking all stakeholders on board for capacity building and preparedness. Annual Mock Exercise Plan is drawn in advance and Mock Exercises are conducted in State/ UTs in coordination with concerned State Disaster Management Authorities.

Further, as part of pre-disaster preparedness measure, Government of India has also completed seismic microzonation studies of some of the major cities in the country such as, Jabalpur, Guwahati, Bangalore, greater Bharuch in Gujarat, Jammu in J & K, Shillong in Meghalaya, Chennai in Tamilnadu and Sikkim state. These studies demarcate the zones of least to most damage prone areas within the urban clusters so as to help the respective town and country planning agencies to formulate perspective planning within the overall earthquake impact minimization efforts. The Government has implemented various programmes to educate and raise awareness amongst school children and general public on various aspects of hazards, their impacts and measures to mitigate losses.

This information was given today by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in a written reply to Lok Sabha question.

 

Government has approved the Integrated Himalayan Meteorology programme in August 2014. Currently efforts are on for launching procurement of all envisaged observing systems and hence no expenditure is incurred so far.

This information was given today by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in a written reply to Lok Sabha question.

SUSHMA SWARAJ IN LOK SABHA ON PRIME MINISTER’S RECENT VISITS ABROAD

Following is the text of the Suo Motu Statement by External Affairs Minister and Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Smt. Sushma Swaraj in Lok Sabha today on Prime Minister’s recent visits abroad:

Madam Speaker,
I rise to make a statement on Honourable Prime Minister’s foreign visits and our external engagement more broadly, since the last session of the Parliament.
As Members are aware, the outcome of the historic general election in India has rekindled international interest and restored global confidence in India. Indeed, at a time of uncertainty and turbulence in the world, the new Government in India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is seen as one of the positive developments in the world. There is unprecedented optimism about India’s rapid progress under Prime Minister’s leadership; and, widespread expectation of effective and meaningful contribution from India for advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the world.

 

Madam Speaker, Prime Minister has consistently advocated a proactive and innovative approach to foreign policy that is aligned with our Government’s primary goal of accelerating national economic development. India needs access to capital, technology, resources, energy, markets and skills; a secure environment, a peaceful neighbourhood and a stable world; and, an open and stable global trading system.
Our approach is also rooted in our inheritance of a timeless tradition of global engagement and peaceful co-existence; and, dictated by the evolving imperatives of a globalised world.
In the past six months, we have moved with speed and resolve, rarely seen in Indian external engagement, to rebuild our partnerships across the world. We have set new milestones and reached new frontiers in India’s foreign policy. The global response has been just as unparalleled.
Madam Speaker, since the last session of the Parliament, Prime Minister has visited Japan, the United States, Myanmar, Australia, Fiji and Nepal, besides participating in the United Nations General Assembly. We were honoured by the visits of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping to India in September. During the course of these few months, Prime Minister has met around 45 international leaders from every inhabited continent of the world. He has participated in India-ASEAN Summit, the East Asia Summit, the G20 Summit and the SAARC Summit – each of which is crucial to the future of our region, Asia and the world.
Despite our shared democratic values with Australia and her enormous potential to become a vital strategic and economic partner for India, it took 28 years for the Prime Minister of India to visit Australia. Although Fiji is an influential country in the Pacific region and 37% of its population is of Indian origin, his visit to Fiji was the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 33 years.
Prime Minister became the first Indian leader to host a meeting of Pacific Island countries during his visit to Fiji. The Pacific islands share our challenges and also collectively constitute an influential voice in international forums. This pioneering initiative received a rousing response from the island countries. It marks the beginning of sustained Indian partnership with the Pacific region.
Prime Minister had the honour to address the Joint Session of the Australian Parliament – the first Indian Prime Minister do so – and became the first international leader to address Fiji’s recently elected Parliament under the new Constitution that restored democracy to the island country. Both addresses were extremely well received in the host countries and the world.
In each visit, Prime Minister reached out to people in every walk of life, on a scale rarely seen before during visits by Indian leaders. It reflected our belief that in the modern era, relations between nations go well beyond national capitals and official engagements.
Madam Speaker, our external engagement stands out not merely for the symbols of honour that he received, but also in terms of outcomes.
We have elevated our relations with Japan to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership; tangibly deepened our relations with China, while bringing more focus on outstanding issues; restored the momentum in our strategic partnership with the United States; charted a new course in our relations with Australia; and, translated a hesitant Look East Policy of the past into a proactive Act East Policy.
As our Government prepares to meet the infrastructure gap in India with the next generation infrastructure and develop India’s manufacturing sector, we have received a commitment from Government of Japan of facilitating public and private funding of 3.5 trillion Yen – or approximately 35 billion U.S. dollars – over the next five years; agreements with China on two industrial parks and intended investments of 20 billion U.S. dollars; an estimated investment plans of 42 billion U.S. dollars from U.S. companies over the next five years.
With Australia, we have signed the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and other agreements to strengthen our energy security. With the United States, we have signed a significant partnership agreement to use renewable energy for rapidly expanding rural access to energy.
With Nepal, we have entered a new era of cooperation that has eluded us for decades. Nearly two decades after signing the Mahakali Treaty with Nepal, we have finally constituted the Pancheshwar Development Authority for the 5600 MW multipurpose Pancheshwar Project. In addition, we have entered into a new Power Trade Agreement with Nepal; two Indian companies have received Project Licence for two hydropower projects for 900 MW each; and, we have signed the long overdue Motor Vehicles Agreement, which will make travel and tourism easier for people of both countries.
Our engagement with the United States also helped secure our interests on food security in the WTO and advance the negotiations on the Doha Development Round of WTO. This initiative has contributed to strengthening the global trading regime, which is of direct interest to India, without in any way diluting our fundamental obligation to protect the interests of our poor.
Our focus has been not only on infrastructure and manufacturing.
At the heart of Prime Minister’s engagements abroad has been efforts to promote cooperation on skill development; advanced medical research for diseases, like the agreement on research for malaria and TB with the United States; food security, such as our work with Australia on agricultural research for the benefit of our farmers; education, such as the agreement to collaborate with the United States on a new generation Indian Institute of Technology and to bring up to 1000 top university teachers from the United States annually to teach in India. Kyoto-Varanasi twinning arrangement, Ahmedabad-Guangzhou and Mumbai-Shanghai sister city agreements, or the agreement with the United States on developing three smart cities will provide impetus to our efforts to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of India’s rapid urbanisation.
Multilateral and regional forums are key platforms for advancing our national interests. Prime Minister’s speech in United Nations General Assembly in Hindi was a matter of great national pride for India. His call for accelerating reforms of the United Nations Security Council has imparted urgency to our efforts and his call for declaration of International Day of Yoga in the United Nations has met with widespread support.
At the G20 Summit in Brisbane, where there was immense interest in India’s economic reforms, Prime Minister put the spotlight on the need for collective international action against black money; gave innovative suggestions on promoting collective action for cost-effective and sustainable solutions to infrastructure in the developing world; proposed a new global initiative on renewable energy; and, cautioned against regional trade initiatives becoming instruments of political competition and fragmentation of the global trading system.

The ten-nation ASEAN is one of the world’s largest economies, with the third largest population and the third fastest growing economy behind China and India. At the India-ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, there was a new level of enthusiasm and optimism among our ASEAN partners that a reformed and a reinvigorated Indian economy would provide a stronger foundation for a deeper partnership between India and ASEAN in the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in our shared region.
Prime Minister also took the opportunity of his visit to Nay Pyi Taw to pledge to Myanmar’s leadership a stronger partnership with one of our most important neighbours.
Prime Minister’s strong belief in a shared future of our neighbourhood is reflected in several concrete steps – the participation of leaders from neighbouring countries at the swearing in ceremony on May 26; his choice of Bhutan as his first foreign destination; and his visit to Nepal, which was, sadly, the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 17 years to our closest neighbour.
Prime Minister reiterated his vision of shared prosperity in South Asia at the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 26-27. He articulated India’s determination to lead the efforts, as the region’s largest and most centrally located country, towards greater cooperation and integration in South Asia, both through SAARC and outside it. Prime Minister’s vision and initiatives for the region has sparked a new wave of optimism in our South Asian partners.
Madam Speaker, Prime Minister has stated on a number of occasions that we can build a prosperous future only the strong foundation of a secure India.
On every occasion, Prime Minister clearly articulated India’s expectation of a stable and peaceful Asia and the surrounding ocean regions, predicated on universal acceptance of international law and norms and peaceful resolution of disputes. This also includes maritime security. Prime Minister also highlighted the emerging challenges of cyber security and space security.
India shares the international concerns on developments in West Asia, including with regard to Islamic State, and its global ramifications. At the same time, Prime Minister stressed that the global challenge of terrorism requires a comprehensive global strategy against all terrorism, without drawing distinction between terrorist groups and their supporters; willingness to isolate sponsors of terrorism and to help nations willing to fight it; a need for all those who believe in humanity to stand together; and, to make every effort to delink terrorism from religion. Our external engagement has helped deepen security cooperation with key partners.
Madam Speaker,
The excitement, energy and confidence in the Indian community abroad about India mirror the national mood in India after the election. Prime Minister has paid special attention to reach out to the Indian community abroad on a scale that is unmatched. Our decisions on PIO and OCI have been widely welcomed by the Indian community abroad. The Indian community today not only feels more connected to India, but has responded enthusiastically to his call to participate in India’s transformation.
Madam Speaker,
In the last few months, Prime Minister has laid out a clear vision of India’s role and place in the world; signalled willingness to assume leadership expected from the world’s largest democracy; and, demonstrated ability to turn commitments into action and convert opportunities into outcomes. We have revived important relationships that have long suffered from neglect. We have shown our will to speak clearly on our security interests and defend them robustly. Our pursuit of global aspirations has been accompanied by global engagement.
There is a new global confidence in India. In turn, Prime Minister’s visits have advanced our pursuit of a secure and stable environment that we need to accomplish our development goals. It will also contribute in a significant measure to our mission of accelerating economic growth, boosting investment, creating jobs and transforming the quality of life of our people.
Thank you.

WIDOWS CONTINUE TO FACE SEVERE STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION

December 3: – Widows and single women from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka met together with
government representatives and international organizations in New Delhi to address current gaps in policies and
programmes that prevent them from claiming their rights.

‘There are an estimated 245 million widows worldwide, 115 million of whom live in poverty and suffer from
social stigmatization and economic deprivation largely because they have lost their husbands. However, UN
Women strongly believes that we can harness the potential of widows as change agents!’ said Patricia Barandun,
Deputy Representative of UN Women.
According to the UN Women study on ‘Empowering Widows: an Overview of Policies and Programmes in India,
Nepal and Sri Lanka’, widows in Asia are still relegated to a status of the ‘unwanted insiders’. They often face a
‘triple burden’, in the form of stigma associated with widowhood, severe constraints on access to resources, and
sexual vulnerability, which makes them one of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in this region.
This is a stark contrast to their male counterparts, who are not subject to similar socio-economic exclusion within
households and society at large.
Mr. Dhana Bahadur Tamang, Secretary Ministry of Women, Children & Social Welfare, Nepal highlighted that
‘Widows are the most vulnerable group of women and they are discriminated in many ways in the South Asian
society’
‘Women lack access to resources, they face discrimination when it comes to inheritance rights, the situation is
even worse for single women and widows’ said Ms. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Chairperson, National
Commission for Women, India.
Ms. Chaggi Bai, a widow from Rajasthan said ‘I faced violence and discrimination as a widow but I continued to
fight for my rights and the rights of widows in my community’ UN Women’s study also highlights that widows are not a homogeneous group. Their situation changes considerably, depending on age, social and cultural practices, their geographical location, educational levels and also on who their husbands were. The different schemes in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka do not reflect this diversity.
In India for instance, only widows between 40 and 60 years of age can have access to pension under the Indira
Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) introduced in 2009. In Sri Lanka, widows whose husbands
were not part of the government system are excluded from the pension programme and although Nepal has an
inclusive pension policy, challenges in implementation deprive many widows of their entitlements.

South Africa’s Supreme Court makes Arcelor Mittal toe the line on transparency

3122014

South Africa’s Supreme Court makes Arcelor Mittal toe the line on transparency about environment-related information

Dear all,
The South African Supreme Court of Appeal has recently ruled that Arcelor Mittal, that country’s steel production giant make environmental information in its custody accessible to the people. On 26 November, 2014, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by Arcelor Mittal, South Africa (AMSA)challenging the judgement of the High Court which directed it to disclose information about its compliance with environmental regulations to an NGO. Readers may recollect that Arcelor Mittal is headed by Mr. Lakshmi Mittal of Indian origin who was dubbed one of the richest men in the United Kingdom a few years ago.
What was this case all about?
In December 2011, Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) filed an information request with Arcelor Mittal under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) demanding access to their Environmental Master Plan including details of how the Vanderbijlpark site would be rehabilitated. Later in February 2012, VEJA filed a second request under PAIA demanding a wealth of information about compliance with the environmental laws and regulations relating to the Vereeniging site also known as Vaal disposal site. Under PAIA, any citizen may seek information from a private entity such as AMSA for the protection of any right recognised in law. VEJA’s lawyers explained in their request that they had a right to get all this information in order to ascertain whether the AMSA was complying with all environmental laws and regulations. They argued that the information was being sought in public interest.
AMSA’s lawyers responded late explaining that the festive season had caused the delay. Later they delayed a proper reply stating that AMSA required more time for internal consultations on whether to disclose all the said information or not. Even later they asked what was the mandate of the VEJA’s lawyers to demand information and how they could usurp the role of environmental regulatory authorities. However to its credit, AMSA, did give some copies of information such as environmental authorisations and consents that they had been given in relation to their operations.
Finally, in February, AMSA formally conveyed its refusal to part with other information sought by VEJA arguing that they had not clearly established the nature and scope of the right that was sought to be protected by disclosure of information. They also argued that VEJA had not satisfactorily shown how disclosure of such information would help in the protection of the right they had claimed, namely, the right to environment guaranteed by Article 24 of the Constitution.
VEJA challenged this decision before the High Court as there was no provision for an Information Commission(er) under PAIA then, to appeal such rejections. The Appeals Court upheld VEJA’s right to get copies of the information they sought. The main grounds on which the judge recognised the right of access to information are described in the attached judgement (1st attachment). Not satisfied with this decision, AMSA filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
How did the Court Rule?
The Supreme Court accepted the public interest argument that VEJA had put forward for seeking the information even though AMSA tried to discredit it by terming it as vague and amounting to usurping the role of the environmental regulatory authorities. It also argued that the Environmental Master Plan was obsolete and based on wrong data and had never been accepted by the company. Instead the data had plan had been revised through the commissioning of newer studies later on. It also argued that inspection reports from the envvironmental authorities had testified to the fact that it had cleared up some of the sites where pollution was found earlier. Further, AMSA argued that being a private company it cannot be made subject to the stringent requirements of PAIA like State departments and agencies covered by that law.
The Court found that AMSA had in its Annual Report of 2010 declared its intention of engaging with key stakeholders including environmental NGOs, government, community and the media in relation to its industrial operations. So, the refusal to part with information was not justified in any way. Determining the meaning and test needed to satisfy the word ‘required’ contained in Section 50(1) of PAIA, the Court ruled that it meant ‘reasonable requirement’ i.e., adducement of reasonable facts why the information was required which VEJA had adequately done so in its requests. VEJA had pointed to the past history of AMSA as a polluter in the area because of which obtaining such information was essential to ascertain further compliance. The Court noted at para #52 of its judgement that AMSA was ‘a major polluter, if not the major polluter’ in the area where it conducts its operations.
The Court noted that the constitution and other environmental laws guaranteed every person including associations of persons to come together to protect the environment, so VEJA was not usurping any regulatory role. Instead it was exercising its rights under the law of the land. In response to AMSA’s argument that they cannot be subject to stringent requirements of transparency like public authorities, the Court said: “Corporations operating within our borders, whether local or international, must be left in no doubt that in relation to the environment in circumstances such as those under discussion, there is no room for secrecy and that constitutional values will be enforced. AMSA espoused environmental sensitivity in its Annual Report but adopted an obstructive approach when it came to disclosing information that would assist a collaborative effort.” The Court held that the information sought by VEJA does not fall in the category of trivial or frivolous. Instead the Court said: “it concerns us all”. As AMSA had committed itself to dealing with environmental issues in a participatory and consultative manner, its objections to disclosure could not be justified. The appeal was dismissed as being without merit.
The South African judgement is a major victory not only for environmental activists in South Africa but also for advocates of transparency in the operations of private corporations across the world.
Right to Environmental Justice in India
In India the Courts have passed several orders requiring transparency and accountability of public and private companies companies that pollute the environment. In the case of Essar Oil Ltd. vs Halar Utkarsh Samiti and Ors. [AIR 2004 SC 1834] the Supreme Court of India declared that people’s right to know was an inseparable part of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution (2nd attachment). The Court observed: ” Besides the citizens who have been made responsible to protect the environment have a right to know. There is also a strong link between Article 21 and the right to know particularly where secret Government decisions may affect health, life and livelihood. The role of voluntary organisations as protective watch-dogs to see that there is no unrestrained and unregulated development, cannot be overemphasised. Voluntary organisations may of course be a front for competitive interests but they cannot all be tarred with the same brush… Organisations have championed the cause of conservation and have been responsible for creating awareness of the necessity to preserve the environment so that the earth as we know it and humanity may survive.”
Arcelor Mittal has major operations in India as well. Its leading lights are often photographed in the company of ministers and lawmakers at public functions. Some think of such companies as the saviours of the economy who will bring unprecedented development under the new Government in Delhi. Whether the prosperity they bring will be equitable, whether their operations will leave the environment unharmed remains to be seen. The rush with which labour laws, environmental laws and land acquisition laws are sought to be amended and the speed with which environmental clearances are being given to corporations to set up or expand operations in India in recent months seem to make environmental justice more difficult to attain in India.
Venkatesh Nayak
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Hunger Falling, But One in Nine People Still Affected

  

Chronic Hunger Falling, 

But One in Nine People Still Affected

 

New Worldwatch Institute analysis examines

global trends and progress in battling chronic hunger

 

Washington, D.C.—-Although the proportion of people experiencing chronic hunger is decreasing globally, one in nine individuals still does not get enough to eat, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute (www.worldwatch.org), in the latest Vital Signs Onlinearticle. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 805 million people were living with undernourishment (chronic hunger) in 2012-14, down 209 million since 1990-92.
Undernourishment is defined as an inability to take in enough calories over at least one year to meet dietary energy requirements. It can lead to undernutrition, a broader term that describes a condition caused by a deficient or imbalanced diet or by poor absorption and biological use of nutrients within the body. Undernutrition can in turn lead to impaired physical functions and has high social and economic impacts. The combined cost of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies is equivalent to US$1.4-2.1 trillion per year, or 2-3 percent of gross world product.

 

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies because of biological factors (such as pregnancy or rapid growth) and social inequities.Women’s low educational levels, unequal social status, and limited decision-making power can influence both their own nutritional status and that of their children. Globally, undernutrition contributes to more than one third of child deaths.

 

Climate change presents an unprecedented challenge to nourishment through associated disruptions in supply chains, increases in market prices, decreases in assets and livelihood opportunities, reduced purchasing power, and threats to human health. The market sensitivity to climate change was highlighted recently by several periods of rapid increases in food prices following climate extremes-such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires-in key producing regions. Food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems due to climate change disproportionately affect poorer populations.

 

Because poverty is the main determinant of hunger, access to food is determined by incomes, food prices, and the ability to get social support. Food prices have fluctuated greatly, although they generally have been rising since the late 1990s.

 

Food aid programs peaked in 2000-01. The 1999 Food Aid Convention (FAC), a multilateral donor cooperation treaty that aimed to contribute to world food security, saw a drastic drop in annual food aid shipments from 10.5 million wheat ton equivalents in 2000-01 to 5.7 million wheat ton equivalents in 2011-12. The Food Assistance Convention, which replaced the expired FAC in 2013, includes not only commodities (such as food and seeds) but also cash-based assistance. The impacts of the Food Assistance Convention remain to be seen.

 

The hunger target of the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 1c (MDG-1c)-to halve the proportion of the population in developing countries who are hungry from the 1990 base year to the 2015 target year-is within reach. The prevalence of chronic hunger has fallen from 18.7 percent in 1990-92 to 11.3 percent in 2012-14, less than 2 percent above the MDG-1c target. The world is not on track to reach the more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit target, which aimed to reduce the actual number of hungry people to 412 million by 2015 (from a 1996 baseline of 824 million).

 

The fundamental human right to food, which is codified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must be protected through social, economic, and political policies on food and health. Through investments, sound policymaking, strong legal frameworks, stakeholder involvement, and evidence-based decision making, the food security and nutrition environment can be improved to eradicate hunger worldwide.

 

Regional Highlights:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean has shown the greatest reduction in undernourishment, with the prevalence of chronic hunger falling by almost two thirds since the early 1990s.Economic growth, political stability, and agricultural and economic incentives have helped Latin America reach its hunger reduction target.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has by far the highest prevalence of undernourishment of any region. While this share has declined from 33.3 percent in 1990-92, one in four people is still chronically hungry. High poverty rates, deteriorating rural infrastructure, and slow income growth contribute to ongoing low food availability and distributional access, resulting in the greatest food security challenge worldwide. Inadequate safe drinking water and sanitation facilities have limited people’s ability to absorb and use the food that is available.
  • In 2014, certain areas of West Africa experienced restricted trade flows and market disruptions due to the Ebola virus outbreak. The effects of Ebola on food prices are not yet clear in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the most affected countries.
  • Because of Asia’s large population, the region is home to two out of three of the world’s undernourished (526 million people). In West Asia, political and economic instability, due mainly to conflicts in Iraq (where the proportion of chronically hungry surged from 7.9 percent in 1990-92 to 23.5 percent in 2012-14) and Syria, have contributed to an increase in the prevalence of hunger.

Panel Discussion onThursday, 4th December 2014 @ 6:00pm.

Cultural Program

To

Undisclosed Recipients

Dec 2 at 2:55 PM

7th ​Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015

7th ​Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015 is scheduled to be held from 11th to 13thJanuary 2015 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat .

This Summit is an ideal convergence for other states and other countries to showcase their strengths, highlight business opportunities, facilitate knowledge dissemination etc. It also provides an attractive opportunity to its participants to understand the potential of Gujarat in various sectors. Besides, it provides platform to interact with policy makers, industry leaders, and renowned academicians from all over the world.

Oct 2014 Gross Bank Credit grows at 11.2%

 

 

Oct 2014 Gross Bank Credit grows at 11.2%

 

On a year-on-year basis, gross bank credit stands at 11.2% in Oct 2014 as compared to 8.7% in Sep 2014. The growth of food credit stands at 13.6% in Oct 2014 as against 11.1% in Sep 2014 and the non-food bank credit increased by 11.1% in Oct 2014 as compared to 8.6% in Sep 2014.

 

The credit to NBFCs decreased by 7% in Oct 2014 as compared to (-)4.4% in Sep 2014. The credit to agriculture increased by 20.3% in Oct 2014 as compared 18.8% in Sep 2014.  

 

The gross bank credit stands at Rs. 58,690 billion as on Oct 2014 as compared to Rs. 52,796 billion as on Oct 2013, posting a growth of about 11.2%.

 

       Monthly trend in growth of gross bank credit (%)                                                                              (YoY)

   Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from RBI

 

Credit to industry increased by 7.8% in Oct 2014 as compared with 6% in Sep 2014. Deceleration in credit growth to industry was observed in major sub-sectors, barring construction, glass and glassware, beverages and tobacco and mining and quarrying.

 

The services sector credit increased by 8.9% in Oct 2014 as compared with 5.3% in Sep 2014.Personal loans stand at 16.3% in Oct 2014 as compared with 13% in Sep 2014. Growth in the components of personal loans in Oct 2014 stood at housing (16.2%), advances against fixed deposits ((-) 2.1%), advances to individuals against shares, bonds, etc. (23.8%), education (8.2%) and vehicle loans (20.9%).

 

       Deployment of Gross Bank Credit by major sectors                                                                                           (Rs. Billion)

Sector

September

2014*

October

2014**

September  2014^

(Y-O-Y growth)

October  2014^^

(Y-O-Y growth)

(%)

(%)

Gross Bank Credit

57569

58690

8.7

11.2

Food Credit

1054

984

11.1

13.6

Non-food Credit

56515

57707

8.6

11.1

Agriculture & Allied Activities

7248

7447

18.8

20.3

Industry (Micro & Small, Medium and Large)

25142

25402

6.0

7.8

Services

13218

13578

5.3

8.9

Personal Loans

10907

11281

13.0

16.3

Priority Sector

19050

19363

15.8

16