Higgs Boson : The God Particle

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The standard model of particle physics hypothesized about Higgs Boson in 1964. The discovery of Higgs particle was announced at CERN on 4 July 2012. The discovery has been called monumental because it appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field, which is pivotal to the Standard Model and other theories within particle physics. As scientists are busy finding out the details of the Higgs Field, let’s have a quick look at some of the most perplexing questions based on Higgs particle.

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WHY IS THE HIGGS PARTICLE CALLED THE “GOD PARTICLE”?

The nickname is pure invention. There’s nothing in the mathematical equations, in the interpretation of the physics, in any philosophy, or in any religious text or tradition that connects the Higgs particle or the Higgs field with any notion of religion or divinity. Professor and Nobel Prize Winner Leon Lederman, allowed his book on the Higgs particle to be assigned this attention-getting title, and thus the name!

FIELD VS WAVES VS PARTICLE

A field is normally made up of waves. An waves are made up of particles. The least-intense possible wave that a field can have is called a particle. Applying the concept in Higgs Field : Higgs particle is the smallest possible Higgs wave, and a Higgs wave is a ripple in the Higgs field.

WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT THE HIGGS PARTICLE?

Finding the Higgs particle is the first big step toward the main goal: understanding the properties of the Higgs field and why it has a non-zero average value.

WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT THE HIGGS FIELD?

The Higgs field has a non-zero average value. And because it does, many elementary particles have mass. Remember that the electric field has zero average value. Discovery of Higgs field would explain why some fundamental particles have mass when the symmetries controlling their interactions should require them to be massless. It would also explain why the weak force has a much shorter range than the electromagnetic force. The discovery of a Higgs boson should allow physicists to finally validate the last untested area of the Standard Model’s approach to fundamental particles and forces, guide other theories and discoveries in particle physics, and potentially lead to developments in “new” physics.

LARGE HADRON COLLIDER

Higgs Boson

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Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was built to figure out what the Higgs field is (or Higgs fields are), how it works (or they work), and whether it is (or they are) elementary or composite. In-fact LHC was built to do much more than discover the Higgs Boson, such as…

  • Identify dark matter
  • Search for extra dimensions of space and microscopic black holes
  • Look for signs of unification of fundamental forces
  • Find “evidence” for string theory
  • Find the Higgs Boson
  • Understand antimatter
  • Learn about the fundamental forces that have shaped the universe since the beginning of time, and will determine its fate.

THE HIGGS FIELD IS NOT THE UNIVERSAL GIVER OF MASS TO THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE!

Ordinary matter’s mass is mostly from atomic nuclei. That doesn’t come entirely from the Higgs field.The Higgs field gives mass to most of the elementary particles, but not to bigger composite particles. This means even if there is no Higgs field, there would have been protons and neutrons, which of-course has mass. So Higgs field is not the universal giver of mass to things in the universe.

HIGGS FIELD IS NOT THE SOLE MASS GIVER EVEN TO ELEMENTARY PARTICLES!

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The Higgs field is not the universal giver of mass to all elementary particles. The Higgs particle itself gets its mass, at least in part, from elsewhere, may be from dark matter.

PS: Now it is true that the W and Z particles, the quarks, the charged leptons and the neutrinos must get their mass from a Higgs field. It’s not possible for them to have masses any other way. But this is not true of the Higgs particle itself.

NB : The mass-less particles are photons, gluons and gravitons.

BEYOND THE HIGGS BOSON

The standard model of particle physics hypothesized about Higgs Boson. In fact this hypothesis states that the Higgs Field is made up of elementary particles called Higgs Bosons. But in reality there might be more than one Higgs Field made up of particles other than Higgs Bosons too.

 

Parliamentary Committees in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

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You all are familiar with Parliament as a major organ of the state dealing with law making. Parliament is also the authority to check the Executive (government). Every Executive is answerable to the Parliament. Our discussion and analysis on Parliament will be incomplete if we don’t touch the Parliamentary Committees. These are committees, with MPs as members, for specialized work on behalf of the entire Parliament.

Why Parliamentary Committees?

The work done by the Parliament in modern times is considerable in volume and varied in nature. The time at its disposal is limited (Remember that our Parliament normally meets only for 3 sessions, that too only for around 100 days each year!). It cannot, therefore, give close consideration to the details of all the legislative and other matters that come up before it. Hence Parliamentary Committees are necessary for detailed study on specific matters.

 

Types of Parliamentary Committees

  • Based on purpose and duration.
  1. Standing – Advisory and Enquiry.
  • Based on composition.
  1. Select – Single House, ie either LS or RS.
  2. Joint – Both Houses.
-COMMITTEE TYPES- STANDING  COMMITTEE ADHOC COMMITTEE
SELECT COMMITTEE Eg: Estimate (LS),Ethics Committee (RS) Committees on Bills (Select)
JOINT COMMITTEE Eg : PAC Committees on Bills ( Joint)

Ad hoc Committees vs Standing Committees

Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.

Examples of ad hoc committees

  1. Committees on Bills (Select and Joint).
  2. Railway Convention Committee.
  3. Committees on the Draft Five Year Plans.
  4. Hindi Equivalents Committee.

Standing Committees are permanent committees. Each House of Parliament has Standing Committees.

Examples of standing committees:

  1. Business Advisory Committee.
  2. Committee on Petitions.
  3. Committee of Privileges.
  4. Rules Committee.

How Parliament transacts its business with Parliamentary Committees?

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  1. When a Bill comes up before a House for general discussion, it is open to that House to refer it to a Select Committee of the House or a Joint Committee of the two Houses.
  2. A motion has to be moved and adopted to this effect in the House in which the Bill comes up for consideration.
  3. In case the motion adopted is for reference of the Bill to a Joint Committee, the decision is conveyed to the other House requesting them to nominate members of the other House to serve on the Committee.
  4. The Select or Joint Committee considers the Bill clause by clause just as the two Houses do. Amendments can be moved to various clauses by members of the Committee.
  5. The Committee can also take evidence of associations, public bodies or experts who are interested in the Bill.
  6. After the Bill has thus been considered the Committee submits its report to the House.
  7. Members who do not agree with the majority report may append their minutes of dissent to the report.

Standing Committees in Loksabha (Select)

  1. Absence of Members from the sitting of the House
  2. Business Advisory Committee
  3. Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes
  4. Empowerment of Women
  5. General Purposes Committee
  6. Government Assurances
  7. House Committee
  8. Library Committee
  9. Papers Laid on the Table
  10. Petitions
  11. Private Members Bills and Resolutions
  12. Privileges
  13. Rules Committee
  14. Subordinate Legislation
  15. Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

Standing Committees in Rajysabha (Select)

  1. Committees to enquire—

(a) Committee on Petitions;
(b) Committee of Privileges; and
(c) Ethics Committee.

  1. Committees to scrutinise and control—

(a) Committee on Government Assurances;
(b) Committee on Subordinate Legislation; and
(c) Committee on Papers Laid on the Table.

  1. Committees relating to day-to-day business of the House—

(a) Business Advisory Committee; and
(b) Rules Committee.

  1. House Keeping Committees—

(a) House Committee;
(b) General Purposes Committee; and
(c) Committee on Provision of Computers to Members of Rajya Sabha.

PS : The 12th committee in Rajya Sabha is Committee on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme.

Sl. No. Name of the Committee No. of members in the Committee
1. Business Advisory Committee 11
2. Committee on Papers Laid on the Table 10
3. Committee on Petitions 10
4. Committee of Privileges 10
5. Committee on Rules 16
6. Committee on Subordinate  Legislation 15
7. Committee on Government  Assurances 10
8. General Purposes Committee Not fixed
9. House Committee 10
10. Ethics Committee 10
11. Committee on Provision of  Computers for Members of Rajya Sabha 7
12. Committee on Members of  Parliament Local Area Development Scheme 10

Joint Standing Committees

All Department related standing committees are joint. Also two of the three Financial committees are Joint (PAC and PUC). In addition to these the below mentioned are the important joint committees in Parliament.

(a) Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
(b) Committee on Offices of Profit.
(c) [Parliamentary Committee to review the rate of dividend payable by the Railway Undertaking to the General Revenues] (Railway Convention Committee).
(d) Committee on Empowerment of Women.
(e) Library Committee.
(f) Committee on Food Management in Parliament House Complex.
(g) Committee on Installation of Portraits/Statues of National Leaders and Parliamentarians in the Parliament House Complex.
(h) Committee on Security Matters in Parliament House Complex.

Department related Standing Committees (Joint)

Out of the 24 Committees, 18 Committees are serviced by the Loksabha Secretariat and 6 Committees by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Each of these Standing Committees consists of not more than 45 members—30 to be nominated by the Speaker from amongst the members of Lok Sabha and 15 to be nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha from amongst the members of Rajya Sabha. A Minister is not eligible to be nominated to these Committees.The term of members of these Committees is one year.

DEPARTMENT RELATED STANDING COMMITTEES (LS)

SL NO. NAME OF THE DEPARTMENT RELATED STANDING COMMITTEE (LS)
1 Committee on Agriculture
2 Committee on Chemicals & Fertilizers
3 Committee on Coal & Steel
4 Committee on Defence
5 Committee on Energy
6 Committee on External Affairs
7 Committee on Finance
8 Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution
9 Committee on Information Technology
10 Committee on Labour
11 Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas
12 Committee on Railways
13 Committee on Rural Development
14 Committee on Social Justice & Empowerment
15 Committee on Urban Development
16 Committee on Water Resources

DEPARTMENT RELATED STANDING COMMITTEES (RS)

SL NO  NAME OF THE DEPARTMENT RELATED STANDING COMMITTEE (RS)
1 Committee on Commerce
2 Committee on Health and Family Welfare
3 Committee on Home Affairs
4 Committee on Human Resource Development
5 Committee on Industry
6 Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice
7 Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests
8 Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture

Functions of Department Related Standing Committees

The newly constituted departmentally related Standing Committee System is a path-breaking endeavour of the Parliamentary surveillance over administration. With the emphasis of their functioning to concentrate on long-term plans, policies and the philosophies guiding the working of the Executive, these Committees will be in a very privileged position to provide necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the Executive. With reference to the Ministries/Departments under their purview, the functions of these committees are:

  1. Consideration of Demands for Grants.
  2. Examination of Bills referred to by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha as the case may be.
  3. Consideration of Annual Reports.
  4. Consideration of national basic long term policy documents presented to the House and referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be.

NB: These Committees do not consider matters of day-to-day administration of the concerned Ministries/Departments

INTERNAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT

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INTERNAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT

In the Arthashastra, Kautilya wrote that a state could be at risk from four types of threats – internal, external, externally-aided internal, and internally-aided external. He advised that of these four types, internal threats should be taken care of immediately, for internal troubles, like the fear of the lurking snake, are far more serious than external threats. The most dangerous enemy is the enemy within.
Kautilya’s teachings on internal security and his skillful expression of the warp and weft of internal and external security has great relevance in the globalised 21st century. Destabilising a country through internal disturbances is more economical and less objectionable, particularly when direct warfare is not an option and international borders cannot be violated. External adversaries, particularly the weaker ones, find it easier to create and aid forces which cause internal unrest and instability. India’s history is full of such experiences. Since Independence, we have faced many such situations, initiated by China, Pakistan and others in the Northeast and even in the western sectors of the country since the mid-60s. But only after the events of 11
September 2001 has the world has started looking at these external and internal linkages more seriously.
Presently, almost all the countries of South Asia – India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan and Afghanistan – are experiencing internal security problems, due to insurgency movements, ethnic conflicts, religious fundamentalism, or just cussed political polarization. India has a unique centrality in the South Asian security zone. It has special ties with each of its neighbours: ties of ethnicity, religion, language, culture, common historical experience, and of shared access to vital natural resources. However, apart from the advantages that these special ties offer, they often make it easier for external forces to exploit any internal dissent. Within the country, these special ties also tend to encourage Indian secessionist groups in establishing safe sanctuaries across the borders in neighbouring states; trans-border illegal migration, gun-running and drug-trafficking. Situated as we are between the ‘Golden Crescent’ and the ‘Golden Triangle’, secessionist groups taking to violence find little difficulty in indulging in drug trade and obtaining small arms within the country.
India is a country exemplified by diversity – over one billion people are spread over approximately 3.1 million square kilometers of territory. The people of the country speak 16 major languages, in over 200 dialects. There are about one dozen ethnic groups, seven major religion communities with several sects and sub-sects, and 68 socio-cultural subregions. When a socio-political and socioeconomic equilibrium is maintained in such a scenario, there is unity in diversity. But if there is even the slightest imbalance, we have more diversity and less unity.
This has been a hallmark of India’s history and it has always been exploited by external elements. Even after 65 years of independence, our secular, Internal troubles, like the fear of the
lurking snake, are far more serious than external threats open and pluralistic society continues to be vulnerable to several internal contradictions. Some specific issues that we are faced with, which have an impact on our internal security are:

  • Problems of national assimilation and integration, particularly of the border areas in the North and Northeast.
  • Porous borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, which enable illegal trans-border movements and smuggling of weapons and drugs. It is presumed that erecting fences on the international borders can stop all illegal trans-border movements. That is not so. First, it is not possible to guard or police every metre of the land, sea and air borders. Second, the construction of a fence along land borders is expensive and requires a tremendous amount of manpower for effective surveillance. Border fencing can assist in checking infiltration to an extent, but it does not and cannot eliminate it.
  • Weak governance including an ineffective law and order machinery and large-scale corruption. An ever-increasing section of the population is getting disenchanted with social justice, or the lack thereof. There is a continuous decay of the political, administrative, and security institutions of the country. Efforts to stem the rot have failed so far. Declining political and public values have led to consistent and persistent political interference.
  • Nexus between crime, insurgency and politics.

At the annual internal security conference of Governors and Chief Ministers in 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged that the internal security threat to India is a major cause of concern. Currently, about 45 percent of India’s geographical area, covering 220 districts, is facing internal security problems at various levels. On 23 December 2009, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, while delivering the 22nd Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture, stated, “India in the twenty-first century has turned out to be the confluence of every kind of violence: insurrection or insurgency in order to carve out sovereign states; armed liberation struggle motivated by a rejected ideology; and terrorism driven by religious fanaticism. Never before has the Indian state faced such a formidable challenge. Never before have the Indian people been asked to prepare themselves for such fundamental changes in the manner in which the country will be secured and protected.”
Internal security problems in J&K and Northeastern states are well known. However, two additional problems which serve to highlight the seriousness of the internal security situation in the country are as follows:

NAXAL/MAOIST INSURGENCY
In October 2003, 55 districts in nine states were affected by Naxalite violence. It has now spread to about 180 districts in 17 states. Most of the severely affected districts are situated in Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra; eight of them are critical. More than 13,000 civilians and 5,500 security personnel have been killed as a result of Naxalite violence since 1990. In that, 2009 was the bloodiest year till date.
The origins of the Naxal movement can be traced back to the 1960s, when Naxalites started operating from various parts of the country. However, Naxalism emerged as a real security threat when armed groups like the Peoples’ War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre joined hands in 2004 and formed the CPI (Maoists) to fight against the Indian state. One of the basic objectives of the Naxal movement is the overthrow of the existing state machinery in India. Naxals do not believe in parliamentary democracy. In fact, they consider it an aberration. While projecting the state as well as its armed forces as the “enemy”, the Naxal movement calls upon its members to take up arms and defeat the enemy decisively. The movement believes that the state is merely an agent. The bane of our counter-Naxalite strategy, even after the lessons from Nepal in recent years, has been the lack of lucid analysis and consistency in formulating and implementing a viable strategy. Centre for land warfare studies victory through vision of the elitist class and does not cater to the interests of the lower strata of society.
A statement issued by CPI (Maoist) on 14 October 2004, stated, “We hereby declare that the two guerilla armies of the CPI (ML)[PW] and MCCI have been merged into the unified Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army. Hereafter, the most urgent task, i.e. the principal task of the party is to develop the unified PLGA into a full-fledged liberation Army and transforming the existing Guerrilla Zones into Base Areas, thereby advancing wave upon wave towards completing the New Democratic Revolution.” The statement further said: “The new party will also continue to support the struggle of the nationalities (Kashmiris and tribals of India’s Northeast) for self-determination, including their right to secession and condemn the brutal state repression on these movements.”
The recent large-scale Naxalite/Maoist attacks on railway stations, police posts and patrols in West Bengal (Silda), Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere, and the recovery of sophisticated weapons like semi-automatic rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, and training material, should give an idea of their strength, motivation, and potential. By spreading their movement to 17 states, and the latest declaration to take the war to urban areas, the Maoists have shown that they mean business. Till recently, it has been considered more as a law and order problem of the states and less an issue to be dealt with by the central government. The states have used inadequately armed, equipped, trained and motivated police forces and other resources in a ‘switch on’ and ‘switch off’ mode. The bane of our counter-Naxalite strategy, even after the lessons from Nepal in recent years, has been the
lack of lucid analysis and consistency in formulating and implementing a viable strategy. It is evident that the central government has woken up to the problem now, but the desirable synergy with state governments is yet to be achieved. Besides, there are many powerful NGOs in civil society and the media, who still consider the Maoists as nothing more than modern avatars of Robin Hood.

COMMUNAL TERRORISM

Communal terrorism, induced, by and large, from outside our country, poses yet another grave threat to India’s sovereignty and integrity. It subverts the fundamental rule of law, denies basic rights to citizens, endangers the social fabric, and threatens political and economic stability. The primary objective of terrorists has been to trigger communal riots in communally-sensitive areas. Since the mid-1980s, India’s share of terrorist-related incidents and civilian casualties has risen to become the second highest in the world. The terrorist organisations seem to have perfected their modus operandi. Serial, high-intensity blasts in crowded places in metropolitan cities gets them the best results – maximum damage and the loudest message. Such incidents require strategising, meticulous planning, extensive logistic support and trusted execution. Only large, well-organised outfits with considerable means, expertise and support at their disposal can carry out such deeds.

ANALYSIS OF INTERNAL SECURITY POLICIES

It is apparent that existing internal security policies and the primary instruments for tackling law and order and internal security have not been able to cope with these growing challenges. In many troubled states, the Army has been employed in large numbers (of units) to create a semblance of law and order and conditions wherein elections can be held for the elected representatives to govern the state. But once committed, these forces have usually had to remain deployed for several decades.
Three points merit elaboration here:

  • Military pressure alone cannot resolve matters unless there is good governance, with a strong thrust on socio-political and socio-economic issues. The political leadership and civil administration have to govern the states and the country with greater commitment and efficiency.
  • Protracted and excessive employment of the Army leads to the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’ for several reasons. First, an over-dependence on the Army reflects lack of trust and faith in the capability of the state and central armed police and paramilitary forces. Second, with the passage of time, the locals start treating the Army as just another police force. Third, such deployments and prolonged duties have an adverse impact on the Army’s discipline, morale and operational effectiveness. And fourth, during a war/war-like situation, the Army requires public support. It cannot afford to alienate the localpopulation as is currently happening in Manipur, and to some extent, in J&K and Assam.
  • Reduction in Army deployment will be possible only if the paramilitary, central and state police forces can be revamped. There is a need to modernise these forces, improve their leadership, training and man management capabilities.

CENTRE-STATE SYNERGY

Law and order is a state subject. Policing authority, therefore, is vested with state governments. Thus, the central government cannot directly influence the quality of policing, a source of much of the problems in the management of internal security. Unfortunately, the state governments devote little attention to this important issue, and very often, refuse to recognise the basic linkages between normal policing and the maintenance of internal security. They have neither the resources nor the inclination to upgrade the quality of the state police or to raise extra forces, without substantial financial help from the centre. There is, thus, a tendency to let the situation deteriorate till it blows out of their control. At the operational level too, as observed in many states recently, synergy is lacking, particularly when the central and state governments are run by different political alliances.
Recently, the Finance Commission allocated a substantial amount of money to the states for the purpose of police training. But these police forces are still in deplorable shape. In many areas, the actual number of police personnel is much lower than the posts sanctioned. Thus, a large number of police posts lie vacant. There is far too much of political interference in the professional functioning of police organisations in these states. As a result, law enforcement agencies across the country, without exception, are in a state of utter disrepair. Unless these are re-invigorated and energised, the desired results from internal security operations cannot be achieved. The ‘responsibility without resources’ attitude at the state level, and the lack of accountability at state and central levels, needs to be resolved. Although the centre has built up large central police organisations, which stands at about six lakh personnel in 354 battalions (of which 220 battalions are meant for border guarding duties), it has been insufficient and ineffective. The government must implement the recommendations of the National Police Reforms Commission of 1979 and the Supreme Court’s directives in 2006 in letter and spirit. We need synergised centre-state strategies and doctrines to deal with different aspects of internal security, including insurgencies and terrorism. These would cover the afore-mentioned law and order-related reforms, better coordination as well as the broad-based domains of national and state policies like accelerated economic development and social justice, security and media policies in affected areas. For example, the root causes of the Naxal problem in the tribal areas are the loopholes in the Forest (Conservation) Act, the Mines Act, and land acquisition laws, among others. Until and unless the necessary measures are adopted by the government to
reform these acts, it will not be possible to uproot the Naxal movement or any other extremist movement in India.

OPERATIONAL SYNERGY AMONG CIVIL AND MILITARY FORCES

Greater liaison, coordination and inter-operability for operations amongst agencies responsible for internal security is essential. It is time to think in terms of integrated capabilities and synergy among forces, for the optimum utilisation of police and military power. Synergy can be ensured only when the aims, goals, resources and techniques are harmonised by a single internal security doctrine.

Many years ago, the Army had proposed revamping the state armed police, central police forces and paramilitary forces, by the lateral induction of trained Army personnel with 8-10 years of service. This would result not just in the inculcation of Army ethos and culture, but also reduce training expenses. The laterally inducted personnel would benefit by serving longer terms (more savings due to late receipt of pension) and being able to serve within their own states. The Army would also benefit by maintaining a younger age profile. It would be a win-win situation for all. After keeping this proposal under consideration for over a decade, the government has now declared its intention to implement this proposal in a modified form.

Considering the length of India’s borders, the border holding forces will always remain inadequate. They have to be supplemented with ‘Home and Hearth’ units or village guards of the kind employed in Arunachal Pradesh. These ‘Home and Hearth’ units, staffed with as many local exservicemen as possible, can be raised wherever border holding forces are thin on the ground.
In the Northeast, the Assam Rifles had been raised primarily for deployment in that area and comprised personnel from that region. Its composition was eventually changed to that of an all-India force. The force, thus, lost its excellent rapport with the local people, which is essential for intelligence gathering and maintaining law and order. Ideally, about 65-70 percent of this force should be recruited from the Northeast.

INTELLIGENCE

India’s track record on internal security and counterterrorism makes it obvious that the intelligence establishment in the states and the centre require revamping. Our inability to pursue intelligence leads vigorously and to book the culprits to a logical conclusion is evident in most terror related cases. The intelligence agencies have yet to develop new tradecraft and techniques for the penetration of nonstate actors through human and technical moles, for the collection of intelligence, greater expertise in collation, analysis, and better coordination between intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This effort is underway now and should produce better results in the future.
Counter-intelligence continues to be a weak point in the Indian intelligence infrastructure. The regularity with which penetrations take place in sensitive departments and intelligence agencies is a disturbing development. A review and revamping of counter-intelligence capabilities is an urgent need.
In 2001, the Intelligence Task Force had recommended the establishment of a Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) for counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. On 31 December 2008 – rather belatedly – MAC and subsidiary-MAC (in each state capital) were established through an Executive Order. In these new establishments, relevant information or intelligence gathered by every participating agency is analysed and the analysis is shared with each participating agency. The MAC-SMAC State Special Branch network has been a welcome step. Since its establishment, it has been able to provide more information and better intelligence to the Intelligence Bureau and the state security systems.

SYNERGY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, LEGAL AND JUDICIAL SYSTEMS

Another positive measure taken recently to ensure synergy in the investigation of terrorists’ activities is the promulgation of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and notification of Special Courts under Section 11(1) of the NIA Act.
Synergy between law enforcement and legal and judicial systems is essential. Insurgency, proxy war and terrorism are acts of war. To tackle these problems, tougher anti-terrorism laws are required. Legal punishments to terrorists, their active or logistic supporters, and corrupt officials who enable smuggling of arms and explosives into India, need to be made prompt and severe. The prosecution of the perpetrators of terrorist acts needs to be expedited. The United States and the United Kingdom have provisions in their anti-terrorism laws that are much tougher than India’s.

PROPOSED MEASURES BY HOME MINISTER

While delivering the 22nd Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture on 23 December 2009, Home Minister Chidambaram outlined a series of measures – organisational and systemic – for revamping India’s internal security architecture and greater synergy in internal security operations:
Transparent Police Recruitment: The central government has devised and commended to the states a transparent recruitment procedure that will be technology-based and free of any human interference. According to the Home Minister, the central government has implemented the new procedure in the recruitment to the CPOs and PMFs.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS): With no system of data storage, sharing and access, the police stations in the country today are virtually unconnected islands. To overcome this gross deficiency, the central government is implementing an ambitious scheme called the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS). This system will facilitate the collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at thepolice stations and between the police stations and the state headquarters and the CPO.

Community Policing: To encourage community policing, a toll-free service will be established, under which any citizen can provide information/lodge a complaint. The myriad bits of information flowing from such different sources can then be sifted, analysed, matched, correlated and pieced together to make actionable intelligence.

National Database Grid: Currently, each database stands alone, with its owners having no access to other databases. As a result, crucial information that rests in one database is not available to another agency. In order to remedy this deficiency, the central government has decided to set up NATGRID, under which 21 sets of databases will be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence/ enforcement agencies.

Unified National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC): At present, there is no single authority to which myriad counter-terrorism organisations are supposed to report.There is no single or unified command which can issue directions to these agencies and bodies. The NCTC will perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations to counter any type of terrorism. All intelligence agencies would be represented in the NCTC. MAC would be subsumed into the NCTC. An Operations Wing of the NCTC – absent at present – will give it an edge in counter-terrorism, including preventing a terrorist attack and responding to a terrorist attack, should one take place. CCTNS and NATGRID will then come under the jurisdiction of the NCTC.

Division of Work in the Ministry of Home Affairs: Given the imperatives and the challenges of the times, subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate Ministry or brought under a separate Department in the MHA under an independent minister.
These are only proposals at this stage, which will be discussed, analysed and further reformed. What must be appreciated, however, is that the Home Minister has shown the vision, will and determination to create a need-based organisation to synergise efforts in internal security operations.

CONCLUSION
Synergy is essential to deal with India’s complex internal security operations. Post 26/11, there appears to be a conscious effort to ensure better networking of agencies involved in these operations. Strategically, India cannot afford to be perceived to be buckling down under internal security or externally induced terrorist pressures. That would be disastrous. Neither can it afford to depend on other nations to take care of its internal security problems. Hard decisions, based on hard analysis of options in the current trend of internal security activities, have to be taken.
We need a comprehensive centre-state strategy to deal with different insurgencies and communal terrorism. It should include broad-based domains of national and state policies
including accelerated economic development and social justice, security and media policies. Most importantly, it should address dedicated and effective governance through good administration, prompt and fair judiciary and a law and order machinery that inspires public confidence.
Courtesy:CLAWS

The Big Bang Theory

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Big Bang Theory is about the origin of Universe. It suggests that about 1370 crore (13.7 billion) years ago, all matter and energy in the universe was concentrated into an area smaller than an atom. AT THIS INSTANT, MATTER, ENERGY, SPACE AND TIME WERE NOT EXISTENT. Then suddenly with a bang, the Universe began to expand at an incredible rate and matter, energy, space and time came into being. As the Universe expanded, matter began to coalesce into gas clouds and the stars and planets. Some scientists believe that this expansion is finite and will done day cease. After this point in time, the Universe will begin to collapse until a Big Crunch occurs.

Just before the Big Bang

No one knows what the universe was like at this time. The best current theory, the “inflationary universe” model assumes that all of space is filled with an extremely concentrated, unstable form of energy that will be transformed into particles of matter at the instant of the Big Bang. But no one knows how space and time came into existence in the first place.

The first few minutes to next thousand years

After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the FORMATION OF SUBATOMIC PARTICLES, INCLUDING PHOTONS, ELECTRONS, PROTONS AND NEUTRONS.Though simple atomic nuclei formed within the first three minutes after the Big Bang, thousands of years passed before the first electrically neutral ATOMS formed. The majority of atoms that were produced by the Big Bang are hydrogen, along with helium and traces of lithium.

PS :  If the universe had remained this hot and dense for much longer, the hydrogen would all have been cooked into other chemical elements. Without hydrogen, there would be no water, and therefore no life as we know it!

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Earlier Opaque Universe vs Later Transparent Universe

PHOTONS (light) being elementary particles would have been formed soon after the Big Bang. But these photons would have been scattered by the early electrons. As the Universe continued to cool, it would have eventually reached the temperature where electrons combined with nuclei to form neutral atoms (recombination). Before this “recombination” occurred, the Universe would have been opaque because the free electrons would have caused light (photons) to scatter the way sunlight scatters from the water droplets in clouds. But when the free electrons were absorbed to form neutral atoms, the Universe suddenly became transparent. Those same photons – the afterglow of the Big Bang known as COSMIC BACKGROUND RADIATION – can be observed today.

PS: Opacity of the early Universe before recombination is, in effect, a curtain drawn over those interesting very early events. Fortunately, there is a way to observe the Universe that does not involve photons at all. Gravitational waves, the only known form of information that can reach us undistorted from the instant of the Big Bang, can carry information that we can get no other way. Two missions that are being considered by NASA, LISA AND THE BIG BANG OBSERVER, will look for the gravitational waves from the epoch of inflation.

Rate of Expansion of Universe is not decreasing, but increasing due to Dark Energy!

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It had always been assumed that the matter of the Universe would slow its rate of expansion. MASS CREATES GRAVITY, GRAVITY CREATES PULL, THE PULLING MUST SLOW THE EXPANSION. But supernovae observations showed that the expansion of the Universe,RATHER THAN SLOWING, IS ACCELERATING. Something, not like matter and not like ordinary energy, is PUSHING THE GALAXIES APART. This “stuff” has been dubbed dark energy, but to give it a name is not to understand it. Whether dark energy is a type of dynamical fluid, heretofore unknown to physics, or whether it is a property of the vacuum of empty space, or whether it is some modification to general relativity is not yet known.

Question of Equilibrium : Answer in Inflationary model

Our investigation shows that THE EARLY UNIVERSE WAS TOO HOMOGENEOUS. How could pieces of the Universe that had never been in contact with each other have come to equilibrium at the very same temperature? This and other cosmological problems could be solved, however, if there had been a very short period immediately after the Big Bang where the Universe experienced an incredible burst of expansion called “inflation.” For this inflation to have taken place, the Universe at the time of the Big Bang must have been filled with an unstable form of energy whose nature is not yet known. Whatever its nature, the inflationary model predicts that this PRIMORDIAL ENERGY would have beenUNEVENLY DISTRIBUTED in space DUE TO A KIND OF QUANTUM NOISE that arose when the Universe was extremely small. This pattern would have been transferred to the matter of the Universe and would show up in the photons that began streaming away freely at the moment of recombination.

Proofs of Big Bang

  1. EXPANDING GALAXIES:Hubble in 1929, noted that galaxies outside our own Milky Way were all moving away from us, each at a speed proportional to its distance from us. He quickly realized what this meant that there must have been an instant in time (now known to be about 14 billion years ago) when the entire Universe was contained in a single point in space. The Universe must have been born in this single violent event which came to be known as the “Big Bang.”
  2. COSMIC BACKGROUND RADIATION:Those early photons – the afterglow of the Big Bang known as cosmic background radiation – can be observed today.

Missions to study Big Bang

  1. COSMIC BACKGROUND EXPLORER (COBE) : NASA has launched two missions to study the cosmic background radiation, taking “baby pictures” of the Universe only 400,000 years after it was born. The first of these was the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE).
  2. WILKINSON MICROWARE ANISOTROPY PROBE (WMAP): The second mission to examine the cosmic background radiation was the Wilkinson Microware Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). With greatly improved resolution compared to COBE, WMAP surveyed the entire sky, measuring temperature differences of the microwave radiation that is nearly uniformly distributed across the Universe. The picture shows a map of the sky, with hot regions in red and cooler regions in blue. By combining this evidence with theoretical models of the Universe, scientists have concluded thatTHE UNIVERSE IS “FLAT,”meaning that, on cosmological scales, the geometry of space satisfies the rules of Euclidean geometry (e.g., parallel lines never meet, the ratio of circle circumference to diameter is pi, etc).
  3. PLANCK:A third mission, Planck, led by the European Space Agency with significant participation from NASA, was launched in 2009.  Planck is making the most accurate maps of the microwave background radiation yet. With instruments sensitive to temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree, and mapping the full sky over 9 wavelength bands, it measures the fluctuations of the temperature of the CMB with an accuracy set by fundamental astrophysical limits.

Telescopes: Today NASA spacecraft such as the HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE and the SPITZER SPACE TELESCOPE continue Edwin Hubble’s work of measuring the expansion of the Universe.

The Big Bang Theory in Laymen Language

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In the beginning there was only energy. This energy got converted to small particles (like photons). As there were earlier free electrons too, these earlier photons got scattered by first electrons. The result : a dark universe! But later, when electrons combined with protons and neutrons (atomic nuclei), atoms were formed. As then there were no free electrons to scatter photons then the Universe became transparent!

Some unknown energy kept particles pushing apart. Meanwhile the universe started too cool too. Atoms like Hydrogen were formed. Atoms formed molecules, molecules combined to form compounds and so on. The final result : all the big objects like what we see today planets, stars, galaxies and so on! But now when we analyse the universe, the shape of the universe is flat, ie as if explosion taken place on a 2 -dimensional table!

The two theories which formed the basis of the big bang theory are : (1) Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and (2) The Cosmological Principles, which states that the universe is homogeneous through out. Hope at least the basics of the ‘not-so-easy-to-understand’ Big Bang theory of energy to mass conversion is clear! If not, have a look at 2-3 reference documents.

  1. Timeline of the Big Bang.
  2. Shape of the universe.
  3. Beyond Big Bang Cosmology.

Woes and Worries of Public Distribution System

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Woes and Worries of Public Distribution System

India may be the second fastest growing economy in the world, but Global Hunger Index 2011 prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that India ranks 67th in a list of 81 nations and lags behind both China and Pakistan. Hunger, however is not a problem of lack of food. West Bengal has the highest percentage of households (10.6%) not getting enough to eat during some months of the year as per report of NSSO survey 2004-05. In the category of household remaining hungry throughout the year West Bengal and Odisha jointly occupy the second position; each having 1.3% of starving population rural household during all months of the year. The reason being the high percentage of starving population would apparently seem to be lack of food availability. But unfortunately it is not. There are low foodgain producing states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh with some almost no starvation like Haryana and Punjab. Thus there is not much correlation between starvation and per capita food gain availability. Hence the problem is not of production but of distribution.

The Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) had, inter alia envisaged that Public Distribution System would “have to be developed so that it remains hereafter a stable and permanent feature of our strategy to control prices, reduce fluctuations in them and achieve equitable distribution of essential consumer goods.” The Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was introduced w.e.f. June 1 1997. TPDS envisaged that the Below Poverty Line (BPL) population would be identified in every state and every BPL family would be entitled to a certain quantity of food grains (20 Kg. w.e.f April 2000) at specially subsidized prices. While BPL population were offered food grains at half the economic cost, the Above Poverty Line (APL) population, who were not to have a fixed entitlement to food grains were to be supplied grains at their economic cost from the transitory allocation i.e. quantity in excess of BPL entitlement.

To assess its efficiency and effectiveness in achieving the objectives and independent evaluation of performance was conducted by Programme Evaluation Organization, Planning Commission in 2001.

The study finds that about 58% of the subsidized food grains issued from the Central Pool do not reach BPL families owing to leakages and diversion. Over 36% of the budgetary subsidies on food are siphoned off the supply chain and another 21% reaches the APL households. The PDS is supposed to become an important instrument of policy aimed at poverty alleviation; the cost of income transfer to poor through it is much higher than that through other modes. It suggests that for one rupee worth of income transfer to poor the Government of India spends Rs. 3.65 indicating that one rupee of budgetary consumer subsidy is worth only 27 paise to poor. The implementation of TPDS is plagued by targeting error, prevalence of ghost cards and unidentified households.

There are high exclusion errors implying low coverage of the target group ex- Assam (47%), Gujarat (46%), Maharashtra (33%). It also suffers from division of subsidized grain to unintended beneficiaries (APL households) because of Error of Inclusion, which constitute a large proportion ex- Tamil Nadu (50%), Karnataka (42%), Andhra Pradesh (36%), Kerala (21%), Himachal Pradesh (20%). A section of the APL households holding BPL cards actually do not lift their ration quota. Thus a part of the entitlement of the APL households holding BPL cards is actually leaked out of the PDS supply chain. Secondly, the Government machinery has not done well in identifying the poor.
Planning Commission estimates poverty by using annual household survey data gathered by National Sample Survey Organisation. The poverty line defines or is supposed to define, in rupees the minimum amount of calories required to sustain an individual. Those with an income below it are labeled as poor. The NSSO survey collects reported household expenditure. However, higher expenditure may not reflect a movement out of poverty, as daily wage earners often pay 200-300 per cent more for their food items by buying in small quantities. Besides many households grow and consume their own food which is difficult to convert into expenditure value due to price related data problems. The findings of the study suggests that large sections of population who have kept out of the target group because of their income level are potentially food insecure household.

Similarly many poor marginal/small farmers who produce a part of (or full) their cereal consumption needs and have been issued BPL cards do not need the full quota of subsidized grains from TPDS. Poverty figure do not identify the poor with social, economic and geographical characteristics. So, there is a need to de-link BPL identification survey from official methodology of poverty estimates. Poverty research must not only know how many are poor but also who are the poor and how to identify them.

The report reveals that share of BPL cards in the total cards handled by an FPS (Fair Price Shop) is much below the share of total number of BPL cards in the total number of ration cards in circulation in almost all the states implying the existence of ghost BPL card. Moreover, owing to irregular delivery schedule of FPS quota and several other reasons like irregular income, wage payment in food grains and low market price in harvest season etc. many BPL families do not lift their ration quota regularly/fully. Thus in most states the average off take by BPL cardholders is less than their entitlements. Also many APL families who have been included in the target group do not regularly lift ration grain in some states because the prevailing market price of the same quality of food grains is less than the economic cost. The beneficiaries of these leakages are primarily the retail FPS owner.

To minimize leakages and divisions of subsidized grains there is need for bringing down the Economic Cost of grains through rationalization of cost structure of handling food grains (procurement, storage, transport etc.) through public agencies, the report suggest.
One of important revelation of the report was that only about 22.7% of FPS was found to be earning a return of 12% on capital and financially viable. The rest remain in business through diversion of subsidized grain. The Government should take measure to make FPS financially viable which will minimize leakage and bring transparency.

Thus the two factors contributing to failure of the system are identification of BPL families and flaws in the delivery mechanism. The second factor is more important and there is collusion between the various agencies to divert a large part of the subsidized grain from supply chain of PDS.

In this connection it is important to see the characteristics of the delivery mechanism of those states that have shown relatively low leakages at FPS level (interestingly West Bengal is one of them). Some of these factors are the general awareness level and existence or otherwise of strong grass root level organization, etc. as in the case of Tamil Nadu.
Elimination of private retail outlets from supply chain would also improve the distribution system. Further, doorstep delivery to retail outlets authenticated by the pros, release of ration quota to the beneficiaries in weekly installment and efficient monitoring system will also improve the delivery system.

Supreme Court scraps 214 coal blocks, gives companies 6 months to wind up

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Supreme Court scraps 214 coal blocks, gives companies 6 months to wind up

The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled 214 of the 218 coal blocks allocated by the successive governments since 1993 and gave the companies awarded coal licences six months to wind up their operations.

Four blocks run by the central government agencies have been spared the axe. “214 coal block allocations have been cancelled. Four coal blocks remain, two of which belong to Steel Authority of India and the National Thermal Power Corporation,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said.

“The Supreme Court has said that the government can auction all cancelled blocks at the end of six months in March, 2015,” Rohatgi said.

“The Supreme Court has also asked the companies running the coal blocks for the next months to pay Rs.295 per tonne of coal they extract. They also have to pay the same amount per tonne for the coal they have already extracted from the blocks,” senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said.

In a landmark verdict last month, the apex court had said that licences to the blocks were illegal and arbitrary, and a transparent process for their bids was not followed.

“…the entire allocation of coal block as per recommendations made by the Screening Committee from July 14, 1993 in 36 meetings and the allocation through the government dispensation route suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and legal flaws. The Screening Committee has never been consistent, it has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it,” a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha had said in its 163-page verdict.

The allocation of the coal blocks to various companies had been at the centre of what has come to be known as the Coalgate scandal, said to cost the exchequer Rs.1.86 lakh crore according to a 2012 audit report.

The CBI, which is investigating the multi-crore scam, has alleged that for several years, mining licences were given arbitrarily to private companies without a transparent bidding process.

The Congress faced a huge embarrassment during the UPA II regime with investigation into coal scam directly implicating the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who briefly held the coal portfolio

Facts About India

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Facts About India

India never invaded any country in her last 100000 years of history.

When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization)

The name ‘India’ is derived from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the early settlers. The Aryan worshippers referred to the river Indus as the Sindhu.

The Persian invaders converted it into Hindu. The name ‘Hindustan’ combines Sindhu and Hindu and thus refers to the land of the Hindus.

Chess was invented in India.

Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus are studies, which originated in India.

The ‘Place Value System’ and the ‘Decimal System’ were developed in India in 100 B.C.

The World’s First Granite Temple is the Brihadeswara Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite. This magnificent temple was built in just five years, (between 1004 AD and 1009 AD) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.

India is the largest democracy in the world, the 7th largest Country in the world, and one of the most ancient civilizations.

Child Labour In India

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India is home to the largest child population in the world. ‘Child Labour’, as defined by the International Labour Organization, refers to work that leads to the deprivation of one’s childhood and education opportunities. Effects include a loss of potential and dignity in self, which is harmful to a child’s physical and mental development. The term child labour is defined as ‘the work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity and, that is harmful to their physical and mental development’.

The definition of a child as given under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 defines, ‘child means a person who has not completed his fourteen years of age’, however, mere defining this can’t solve the issue. The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal for amending the Act, to ban employment of children aged up to 14 in any form of industry. It will be an offence to employ such children not only in factories or industries, but also in home or farms, if their labour is meant to serve any commercial interest. The Cabinet also approved another amendment to define those children aged 14-18 as ‘adolescents’ and prohibit their employment in mines, explosive industries, chemical and paint industries, and other hazardous establishments. The government’s decision is in line with the convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which prohibits any form of child labour until the age of 14.

According to HAQ(meaning Rights in Urdu): Centre for child rights, child labour is most prevalent among schedule tribes, Muslims, schedule castes, and OBC children. The persistence of child labour is due to the inefficiency of the law, administrative system, and because it benefits employers who can reduce general wage levels. HAQ argues that distinguishing between hazardous and non-hazardous employment is counter-productive to the elimination of child labour. Various growing concerns have pushed children out of school and into employment such as forced displacement due to development projects, such as Dam construction at Narmada and Tihri; loss of jobs of parents due to economic slowdown, farmers’ suicide; armed conflict, and high costs of health care. Girl child is often used in domestic labour within her own family. There is a lack of political will to outlaw the child labour.

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FOLLOWING ARE THE CONDITIONS, UNDER WHICH AN ACTIVITY SHALL BE RECOGNIZED AS CHILD LABOUR: 

• is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
• interferes with their schooling by:

I. depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
II. obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
III. Requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

ARTICLES RELATED TO CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA

1. Article 14 (No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other dangerous employment.
2. Article 39-E ( The state shall direct its policy towards securing that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused, and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuitable to their area and strength.
3. Article 39-F (Children shall be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that childhood and youth shall be protected against moral and material abandonment.
4. Article 45 (The state shall endeavor to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of the constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. The main legislative measures at the national level are The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act – 1986 and The Factories Act – 1948.

CAUSES OF CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA

POVERTY:

Poverty can be termed as the main reason for child labour in India. Though the country has achieved commendable progress in industrialization, the benefits of the same have not been effectively passed on to the lower strata of society. In order to keep costs down, even large companies employ unorganized workers through contractors, who get uneducated and unskilled and semi-skilled people at very low wages.

This helps the industries to keep their labour costs down at the cost of the poor labourers. In effect, what happens is that, the children of these poor unorganized labourers have to find some work to help run the family. They cannot afford to go to school when they do not have food to eat, and when their other brethren go hungry. Hence, children from such deprived families try to work as domestic servants, or in factories that employ them, and remain uneducated and grow up that way becoming perennial victims of this vicious cycle of poverty and suppression.

HIGH COMPETITION FOR JOBS

The industrialists in India have been successful in taking advantage of this disadvantage faced by job seekers. Due to high population, the job seekers are not in a position to bargain a higher wage. As a result, the poor remain poor working for low wages.

ILLETERACY AND LACK OF EDUCATION

Illiteracy is a situation when a person is not able to read and/or write. This is when the person is not in a position to get even primary education. Lack of education is another aspect which is a result of illiteracy and lack of information. An uneducated person is one, who is generally unaware of things which an average person is required to know. Such people are normally unaware of their human rights and the rights of their children too. The children of such people normally become child labourers around their homes.

IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDE OF EMPLOYERS

A general sense of irresponsibility towards society is seen among the employers in India, who are least bothered as to how their employees survive. In spite of being aware of the high cost of living and inflation, they are least bothered and least ashamed to pay wages, which are much below sustenance levels. Also, if the employers were responsible, they in the first place would not employ children at all.

The following are some of the situations in which children are engaged in work:

• Agriculture- children working long hours, and under severe hardships on the fields. They are also exposed to the hazards of working with modern machinery and chemicals;
• hazardous  industries/  occupations-  like glass making, mining, construction, carpet-weaving, zari-making, fireworks, and others, as listed under the Child Labour Act;
• small industrial workshops and service establishments;
• on the streets-  rag-pickers, porters, vendors etc;
• Domestic work- largely invisible and silent, and hence face higher degree of exploitation and abuse in the home of employees.

THE STEPS TAKEN FOR ERADICATION OF CHILD LABOUR 

PREVENTION: 

According to the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, children of any age may be employed, provided employers adhere to restrictions, including a maximum of 6-hour workday with a 1-hour rest period, at least 1 day off per week, and no night or over-time work. The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act bars children from age 14 to 18, from hazardous occupations and 65 hazardous processes, such as handling pesticides, weaving carpets, breaking stones, working in mines, and domestic service. The Factories Act bars children under age 14 from working in factories. Employing children under age 14 in a hazardous occupation or process can lead to fines and imprisonment. Additionally, the government must either compensate the family of the child, or find employment for an adult member of the family. State governments also have the authority to pass legislation establishing a minimum age for work. In 2012, the State of Rajasthan passed legislation establishing a legal minimum working age of 18 years.

However, gaps remain in legal protections for working children. The lack of a national minimum age for employment increases the likelihood that very young children may engage in activities that jeopardize their health and safety.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act prohibits employers from exploiting juvenile employees under age 18, through practices such as keeping them in bonded conditions or garnishing their wages. Violators may be fined or imprisoned.

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act outlaws bonded labour in India and provides for district-level vigilance committees to investigate allegations of bonded labour, and release anyone found in bondage. The Act also provides for rehabilitation assistance payments for released bonded labourers. Persons found using bonded labour may be fined and face imprisonment. In April 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was passed, which amended the Indian Penal Code to protect children and adults from being trafficked into exploitative situations, including forced labour situations. Penalties include fines and up to lifetime imprisonment. In 2012, the government passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act. The law protects children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography and establishes special courts for trials of these crimes. The amendment includes penalties for those who employ children or adults who have been trafficked. Penalties include fines and up to lifetime imprisonment. The Information Technology (Amendment) Act of 2008 includes penalties of fines and imprisonment for any person, who publishes, collects, seeks, or downloads child pornography in electronic form. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act No. 61 makes it illegal to cause any person, including children, to produce or deal in narcotic or psychotropic substances; punishment consists of fines and imprisonment.

Education is free and compulsory up to age 14. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) lays out the country’s commitment to provide universal access to primary education with a focus on children from disadvantaged social groups. The RTE provides for free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14. The Act prohibits denying admission to children who lack a birth certificate, allows children to transfer schools, requires local authorities to identify out-of-school children, forbids discrimination against disadvantaged groups, and prescribes quality education standards. In 2012, the RTE was amended to include children with disabilities. Research has shown that disabled children, who face barriers to education, may be at greater risk of working in hazardous occupations.

Government is taking various proactive measures towards convergence of schemes of different Ministries like Ministries of Human Resource Development, Women & Child Development, Urban Housing & Rural Poverty Alleviation, Rural Development, Railway, Panchayati Raj Institutions etc. so that child labour and their families get covered under the benefits of the schemes of these Ministries. Some are listed below:

• Ministry of Women and Child Development; for supplementing the efforts of this Ministry in providing food and shelter to the children withdrawn from work through their schemes of Shelter Homes, etc.
• Ministry of Human Resource Development, for providing Mid-day meal to the NCLP school children, teachers training, supply of books, etc under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and mainstreaming of NCLP children into the formal education system.
• Convergence with Ministries of Rural Development, Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Panchyati Raj, for covering these children under their various income and employment generation scheme for their economic rehabilitation.
• In each State one officer from the State Department of Labour has been nominated as Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) to act as link officer for co-coordinating with Ministry of HRD in that state, for prevention of trafficking of children. CBI is the nodal anti-trafficking agency.
• Convergence with Ministry of Railways for generating awareness and restricting trafficking of children.   Further the Ministry is implementing a pilot Project Converging against child labour – support for India’s Model in collaboration with International Labour Organization, SRO Delhi funded by US Department of Labour, with the objective to contribute to the prevention and elimination of hazardous child labour, including trafficking and migration of children for labour. The Project is covering two districts each in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa for duration of 42 months.

RESCUE & REPATRIATION: 

• During inspections and raids, children identified are rescued, and rehabilitative measures are set forth in motion by way of repatriation, in case of migrant child labour, and providing bridge education with ultimate objective of mainstreaming them into the formal system of education. Besides pre-vocational training is also provided to the rescued children.

REHABILITATION: 

• With regard to educational rehabilitation, the government is implementing National Child Labour Project Scheme (NCLP) in 266 child labour endemic districts in 20 States. Objectives of the Scheme are:

I. This is the major Central Sector Scheme for the rehabilitation of child labour.
II. The Scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations & processes in the first instance;
III. Under the Scheme, survey of child labour engaged in hazardous occupations & processes has been conducted;
IV. The identified children are to be withdrawn from these occupations & processes and then put into special schools in order to enable them to be mainstreamed into formal schooling system;  and
V. Project Societies at the district level are fully funded for opening up of special schools/Rehabilitation Centres for the rehabilitation of child labour.

• Under the Scheme, children found working in hazardous occupations are withdrawn from work and put into bridge schools, where they are provided with formal/non-formal education, vocational training, health care, mid-day meal, and stipend of Rs.150 per month, with ultimate objective of mainstreaming them into formal educational system.
• At present, 7311 special schools are in operation with enrolment of 3.2 lakh children. Under the Scheme, about 8.52 lakh children have been mainstreamed into formal system since inception.

INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS FOR ELIMINATING CHILD LABOUR

The National Authority for Elimination of Child Labour is a high-level governmental body, chaired by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE). It reviews, monitors, and co-ordinates policies and programs on child labour. The National Steering Committee on Child Labour is a tripartite committee, that guides and monitors child labour policy, with members representing government agencies, employers, and workers. The Secretary of Labour and Employment chairs the Central Monitoring Committee, which is responsible for reviewing the prevalence of child labour and monitoring the actions taken to eliminate child labour. The Core Group on Child Labour, which is composed of eight ministries and chaired by MOLE, co-ordinates the convergence of social protection schemes to reduce child labour.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is charged with monitoring implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act. The NHRC monitors state level action against bonded labour, through its review of quarterly reports by state governments on bonded labour, and through exploratory and investigative missions. The NHRC maintains an office to monitor the progress of cases involving bonded labour and child labour that are pending with authorities throughout the country. Despite the rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labourers, prosecutions have not always taken place.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) is charged with co-coordinating anti-trafficking policies and programs for women and children. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Anti-Human Trafficking Cell continues to implement the Government’s nationwide plan to combat human trafficking by co-coordinating with states to establish Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs), and training thousands of officials to combat human trafficking. During the reporting period, 194 AHTUs have been established, and the MHA provided an additional $1.5 million to establish 110 more AHTUs. In January 2012, the Central Bureau of Investigation established an AHTU with a mandate to conduct operations to arrest traffickers of women and children.

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) investigates cases that may involve a violation of a child’s rights or a lack of proper implementation of laws relating to the protection and development of children, including those related to child labour.

While MOLE provides oversight and co-ordination regarding the country’s labour laws, state governments employ labour inspectors to enforce these laws. Between January and August 2012, the Ministry of Labour reported that 25,040 child labour inspections took place. During this same period, there were 589 prosecutions and 167 convictions. During the reporting period, children were rescued from hazardous work during raids in several areas, including Delhi, Gujarat, and Karnataka. When child labour prosecutions are launched, it may take years before a case is resolved, because the judicial system is back-logged and over-burdened.

Eight state governments adopted State Action Plans for the elimination of child labour. In 2012, the Jharkhand State Action Plan became the latest of these. The Jharkhand plan calls for stronger enforcement mechanisms as well as the rescue and rehabilitation of children. Complaints about hazardous child labour can be made through a toll-free helpline, Child Line, which operates in 193 cities across India. In 2012, Child Line expanded to 68 additional cities. Complaints are then given to the police to investigate and rescue children.

Under India’s federal structure, state and local police are also responsible for enforcing laws pertaining to human trafficking. The Government of India has invested more than $400 million to establish the Crime and Criminal Tracking and Networking System to connect all of India’s 15,000 police stations. This will enable police to better monitor trends in serious crimes, including trafficking. As of 2012, this system was still in the process of being completed. It is not known whether the tracking system will disaggregate its data to include child trafficking victims, and this data is not currently being collected or made public through other mechanisms.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

• Elimination of poverty, free and compulsory education, proper and strict implementation of the labour laws, abolishment of child trafficking, among others, can go a long way in solving the problem of child labour.
• After the 86th Amendment of the Constitution in the year 2002, the provision for free and compulsory education between the age group of 6 to 14 years has been included as fundamental right under Article 21A. Children irrespective of their race, caste, sex, economic condition, religion, place of birth, and parents to whom they are born of, need to know how to read and write.  They need social and professional skills that only a school and nurturing environment can provide.
• The NGOs also have a big role to play in this regard. Various NGOs are working for the cause of child labour. MVF in Andhra Pradesh is a striking example. They have been working for the welfare of children in various respects.
• Compulsory education can help eradicating the problem of child labour up to a large extent. Statistics also show that education has helped in reducing child labour in western countries up to a large extent.
• Organizing literacy and awareness programme to prevent children from employment.
• Amendment and Modification into Social Security Legislation governing Child Labour.
• Control on Population growth to eliminate Poverty, which is the basic cause of Child Labour.
• Mandatory on industrialists for equal pay without discrimination as to age, status, religion etc.
• Adequate health services for children at large, living in the society.
• Need to provide training and education to the child workers during their free time.

The National Land Records Modernization Programme

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The National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) was launched by the Government of India in August 2008, aimed to modernize management of land records, minimize scope of land/property disputes, enhance transparency in the land records maintenance system, and facilitate moving eventually towards guaranteed conclusive titles to immovable properties in the country.

Objective of NLRMP

The main objective of the NLRMP is to develop a modern, comprehensive and transparent land records management system in the country with the aim to implement the conclusive land-titling system with title guarantee, which will be based on four basic principles, i.e.,

  • (i) a single window to handle land records (including the maintenance and updating of textual records, maps, survey and settlement operations and registration of immovable property)
  • (ii) the ―mirror principle, which refers to the fact that cadastral records mirror the ground reality
  • (iii) the ―curtain principle which indicates that the record of title is a true depiction of the ownership status, mutation is automated and automatic following registration and the reference to past records is not necessary
  • (iv) title insurance, which guarantees the title for its correctness and indemnifies the title holder against loss arising on account of any defect therein.

Major Components of the NLRMP Programme

The major components of the programme are :

  1. computerization of all land records including mutations.
  2. digitization of maps and integration of textual and spatial data.
  3. survey/re-survey and updation of all survey and settlement records including creation of original cadastral records wherever necessary.
  4. computerization of registration and its integration with the land records maintenance system
  5. development of core Geospatial Information System (GIS) and capacity building.

Activities under NLRMP Project

  • Scanning, digitization, updation of mussavies/ cadastral maps
    · Geo-linking of RoR data with updated digitized maps
    · Scanning of old Revenue documentsfor virtual record room
    · Survey/Resurvey using ETS
    · DGPS Survey
    · Satellite data processing

Benefits of NLRMP Project

  • a modern, comprehensive and transparent land records management system in each state.
  • a single window system to handle land records, including maintenance and updating of textual records, maps, survey and settlement operation and registration of immovable property.
  • up-dated land records and push them into public domain so that people can access the records with ease.
  • integration of the diverse processes in land administration and provide an integrated land records information system.
  • land value assessment.
  • preparation of field level soil health cards.
  • smart cards for farmers to facilitate e-governance and e-banking.
  • settlement of compensation claims
  • land acquisition and rehabilitation
  • crop insurance
  • grant of agricultural subsidies
  • community/ village resource centres
  • precision farming etc.

NB: An example of a state which implemented NLRMP with satellite data is Haryana.

Genetically Modified Crops in India

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Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species like resistance to certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, herbicides etc. Genetic Modification is also done to increase nutritional value, bioremediation and for other purposes like production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels etc. More than 10% of the world’s crop lands is planted with GM crops.

Concerns regarding Genetically Modified Crops

Many believe that FOOD on the market derived from GM crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food. However, opponents have objected to GM crops  on several grounds, including environmental concerns, safety of GM foods, the business interests behind GM crops, intellectual property laws etc.

Arguments in favor of GM Crops:

The proponents, argue that the GM technologies have been around for about 15 years and they have been in use across the world including in countries such as Brazil and China. During a visit to India in March 2005, Norman Borlaug – widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution – supported producing genetically modified (GM) food to eradicate hunger from the world. “It is better to die eating GM food instead of dying of hunger,” said the Nobel laureate, who passed away in 2009.

  • Former prime minister, Manmohan Singh, saw biotechnology as key to food security and warned against succumbing to “unscientific prejudices”.
  • “The concerns over their (GM crops) perceived risks should be addressed by following internationally accepted procedures for assessing safety parameters. ICAR, which is involved in developing useful products and technologies in this field, must contribute to the public discourse and provide clarity on this sensitive issue,” – President Pranab Mukerjee.
  • Indian intelligence agency names anti-GM groups such as Greenpeace India and Gene Campaign as one of the many “anti-national” foreign-funded NGOs hampering India’s economic progress.
  • Agriculture scientists from research institutions including IARI, ICAR and various Universities demanding “field trials” for GM crops, arguing that “confined field trials are essential for the evaluation of productivity performance as well as food and environmental safety assessment”.
  • A group of prominent scientists had met under ‘father of green revolution’ MS Swaminathan at National Academy of Agricultural Sciences ( NASA) and issued a 15-point resolution in favour of GM crops.
  • “A brinjal crop normally requires up to 30 sprays of insecticides. This goes into the human consumption indirectly. If we grow and consume Bt brinjal, we will consume some of the genes that have been built into the seeds to make the crop pest- and herbicide-resistant. Ultimately, we have to see which of the two is less harmful for consumption” – S.S. Gosal, Director of Research, Punjab Agriculture University.

Arguments against GM crops:

Organisations such as Greenpeace argue that the GM crops don’t yield better results, but push the farmers into debt. They lose their sovereign right over seeds as they are forced to buy GM seeds and technologies from multinational corporations. The increasing incidence of suicide by farmers cultivating Bt cotton is cited as an example of the perils of GM crops in a country such as India. Besides the suspect merits of GM crops, what the opponents also say is that once they are released into the environment, it’s irreversible.

Regulatory Mechanisms in India

The top biotech regulator in India is Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). The committee functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF). It was earlier known as Genetic Engineering Approval Committee. Under the EPA 1986 “Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989″, GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experimental and large-scale open field trials and also grant approval for commercial release of biotech crops.

The Rules of 1989 also define five competent authorities i.e. the Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSC), Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) and District Level Committee (DLC) for handling of various aspects of the rules.

PS: A Biotechnology Regulatory Authority was proposed, but the bill got lapsed due to the dissolution of 15th Loksabha.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  1. The Committee shall function as a Statutory Body under the Ministry of Environment & Forests for approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous living microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle as per the provisions of rules 1989.
  2. The Committee shall also be responsible for approval of proposal relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials as per the provisions of Rules, 1989.
  3. The Committee shall be responsible for approval of proposals involving the use of living modified organism falling in the risk category Ill and above in the manufacture/import of recombinant Pharma products or where the end product of the recombinant Pharma products per se is a living modified organism.
  4. The Committee may co-opt other members/experts to the GEAC in accordance with the provisions of Section 4, para 3 of the Rules, 1989 as necessary.
  5. The Committee may also appoint subgroups/sub-committees/expert committee to undertake specific activities related to compliance of biosafety.
  6. One third members of the GEAC will constitute the quorum for convening the meeting.
  7. The members of the GEAC will be required to sign a ‘Statement of Declaration of Independence’ and ‘Statement of Confidentiality’ (as per enclosed proforma).
  8. The Committee shall function for a period of three year from the date of issue of this notification.
  9. With the approval of the Chairman GEAC, if required, representative of other Ministries and other experts may be invited as ‘Special Invitees’ to participate in the meeting of the GEAC depending on the issues to be discussed.

Major companies interested in Genetically Modified crops in India include Monsanto India, Mahyco and BASF. The industry body — Association of Biotech Led Enterprises- Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG) wants a progressive push to the march of GM technology in India.

Genetically Modified Crops in India

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The country has yet to approve commercial cultivation of a GM food crop. The only genetically modified cash crop under commercial cultivation in India is cotton.

Bt Cotton

For the time being, the only genetically modified crop that is under cultivation in India is Bt cotton which is grown over 10.8 million hectares. Bt cotton was first used in India in 2002.

Bt Brinjal

The GEAC  in 2007, recommended the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, which was developed by Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company) in collaboration with the Dharward University of Agricultural sciences and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. But the initiative was blocked in 2010.

Controversies and Moratoriums associated with GM Crops in India – Timeline

  • 2002 – Bt cotton introduced in India.
  • 2006 – Activists filed a PIL against GM crops in the Supreme Court.
  • 2010 – The then environmental minister Jairam Ramesh blocked the release of Bt Brinjal until further notice owing to a lack of consensus among scientists and opposition from brinjal-growing states. No objection certificates from states were made mandatory for field trials.
  • 2012 – Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, in its 37th report asked for an end to all GM field trials in the country.
  • 2013 July – New crop trials have been effectively on hold since late 2012, after a supreme court-appointed expert panel recommended suspension for 10 years until regulatory and monitoring systems could be strengthened. Though the SC panel suggested moratorium on GM trails, there was no official verdict from the Supreme Court on this issue.
  • 2013 July – Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan put on hold all trials following SC panel suggestions.
  • 2014 – Her successor, Veerappa Moili cleared the way for trails. (NB: Two of Manmohan Singh’s own environment ministers had stalled GM trials earlier, but Veerappa Moily took an opposite stand and the process of approving the one-acre field trials restarted.)
  • 2014 March – GEAC (UPA government) approved field trials for 11 crops, including maize, rice, sorghum, wheat, groundnut and cotton.
  • 2014 July – 21 new varities of genetically modified (GM) crops such as rice, wheat, maize and cotton have been approved for field trials by the NDA government in July 2014. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — consisting mostly of bio-technology supporters — rejected just one out of the 28 proposals up for consideration. Six proposals were rejected for want of more information.
  • There are as many as 20 GM crops already undergoing trails at various stages.