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Why we need humanitarian law in disaster management

The origin of humanitarian law suggests its close linkage to human sensitivities. Law is an outcome of collective rationality of ‘we the people’, which is the real sovereign.

Amita Singh

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In one of the consultative meetings of the World Food Programme on disaster management organised by Sphere India recently, somebody raised objections to the role of humanitarian law in disaster management on the logic that this is already a part of the regular legal responsibility of governments. Should this be or not be? How would governments demand compliance to humanitarian responsibilities (not law) of the State when their own track record on human rights has always been a concern?

The dilemma reminds me of Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be, or not to be” in contemplating death and suicide or bemoan the suffering due to the pain and unfairness of life? Hamlet’s mind, while envisaging an answer to the question, muses on… “Whether it’s nobler in the mind to suffer, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune… The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks, that flesh is heir to… For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause…” He reconciled that the alternative to suffering was worse. The humanitarian laws or its robust cousin, the human rights laws, are alternatives to a charitable State where charity finds meaning only within the province of the State so the logic for alternatives becomes strong.

It would be clear in subsequent arguments that by questioning humanitarian laws in disaster management, one would prevent deepening government action and resilience building at the most vulnerable levels. The UN Charter prohibits war and use of force to resolve conflicts. Should then nations stop war preparations and formulation of rules that regulate and terminate armed conflicts? Wars have not been completely outlawed as wars in the shape of internal armed conflicts continue incessantly. So a mere existence of rules and Acts on disaster management does not prevent the State from bypassing, overlooking, or skirting liabilities related to human rights. Whatever happened to the rural poor migrant workers during the pandemic is a public tragedy.

Those who built the big cities and special economic zones which filled State treasuries with FDI and FII, built smart cities, and a stamp of progress across the country’s metal road network was made to flee from cities without any help and on top of it, a Chief Minister treating them as pathogens even sprayed them with sanitising chemicals as a condition to any further mobility. These citizens of India have been given rights to the free passage under Article 19 of the Constitution and also protected against starvation, death, disease and abusive action by government authorities under Article 21. Yet it was all done against a vulnerable poor with disproportionate power against the State.

Jurisprudential evidence depicting the stark reality of legal abuse of vulnerable sections by States is enormous. NATO bombed Yugoslavia in the early morning of 23rd April 1999 in response to the conflict in Kosovo region of Serbia. The bombing killed 16 people in the radio and television station, Radio Televizije Srbije (RTS) in Belgrade. Six citizens, who approached the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, were the daughters of the first and second applicants, the sons of the third and fourth applicants and the husband of the fifth applicant who were killed, and the sixth applicant who was injured. They alleged violations of Article 2 (Right to Life), Article 10 (Freedom of Expression) and Article 13 (Right to an Effective Remedy) of the European Convention.

The court dismissed their claim by taking an extremely narrow and limited recourse to a pre-colonial law which segregated between  ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ rather than adopting the true spirit  defined in The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, more commonly known as the European Convention of Human Rights, which explicitly states in its Preamble that one of its purposes is to “take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain rights stated in the Universal Declaration.” This is one of the most misconstrued and egregious cases in the history of humanitarian law but on the other hand, just a few years later this court actually evolved to match the spirit of human rights.

Soon after, a group of citizens approached the same European Commission under the same Article 2 of the European Convention to allege that the State failed in its responsibility to provide them protection against natural hazards that caused deaths in Tyrnauz during July 2000. The court, in addressing this case of Budayeva vs Russia 2008, turned to State failure, first in maintaining mud-protection engineering facilities, notably to restore the mud-retention dam damaged in 1999 and to clear the mud-retention collector blocked by the leftover debris, secondly, in maintaining a public warning (or Early Warning System) about the approaching disaster that would help to avoid casualties, injuries and mass panic.

In contrast to the previously referred Bankovic case, the court ordered that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into Russian roubles at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable on these amounts:

(i) EUR 30,000 (thirty thousand euros) to the first applicant;

(ii) EUR 15,000 (fifteen thousand euros) to the second applicant;

(iii) EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros) to each of the third, the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth applicants;

(iv) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;

The origin of humanitarian and human rights law tells a touching mission of humans with higher than normal sensitivity towards life. During the mid-nineteenth century, Europe’s two goriest battles of Solferino (1859) and the Crimean War (1853-1856) the traditional aristocratic frame of the Army that always stood up to block humanitarian legal reforms gave way. Both these wars were iconic failures in their planning strategies and in medical aid. An author of Russian history Alexis S. Troubetzkoy (2006) describes the Crimean War as ‘a notoriously incompetent international butchery’ by the French alliance with Ottoman Empire, UK and Sardinia against lone Russia.

The cause of the war was to protect Christian minorities in Palestine which was part of the Ottoman Empire. This deadly war led by Napoleon III provoked rules for the care of the vulnerable in wars. The two English nurses Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole were described as great healers who left behind any best surgeon in care and treatment of wounded in the battlefield. The Solferino battle saw the same military alliance standing against the Austrian army which abandoned its position by afternoon as the haunted battlefield was strewn with 6,000 dead and 40,000 injured crying for help which was nowhere possible.

Henry Dunant’s account as a war reporter shocked the conscience of the civilised world but it was this account that launched (i) International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (ii) creation of humanitarian law to protect the vulnerable due to wars or human calamities. The Geneva Conventions also grew from a minimalist to broader terrain starting with the first in 1864 for military victims of warfare to the second in 1899 for wounded and sick in sea warfare, in 1929 on prisoners of war, in 1949 on war victims, combined with Protocols additional to Geneva Conventions in 1977.

While both the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the Human Rights Law (HRL) prescribe to the protection of life, health and dignity to human beings, the former focuses on obligations of the State towards war victims but the latter indicates those primordial rights inherent in human beings that define and limit boundaries of State power. It is believed that the two are complementary as HRL does not stop during wars nor does IHL turn away when other warlike devastating disasters occur.

The origin of humanitarian law suggests its close linkage to human sensitivities. Law is an outcome of collective rationality of ‘we the people’ which is the real sovereign. Any constitution, however voluminous or concise such as the Indian Constitution with 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules, US Constitution with just seven Articles or the UK Constitution with none, would not assign a threshold for government’s observance of humanitarian law. This field is growing with human knowledge and sensitivities. The identification of the vulnerable and their vulnerabilities increase with evolving human sensitivity as that which started with wounded soldiers today extends to enemy spies and victims of civil wars, racism and religious minorities.

As the dust of ignorance and biases gradually gets wiped off, the same civilisations, which killed and persecuted lepers, women, slaves, Blacks, disabled, and atheists, become human rights campaigners. Since sensitivity is a constantly evolving domain of humanity, it is likely to evolve further and discover more areas of abuse and cruelty to be prohibited by law. Notwithstanding the Non-Human Rights Project, which had petitioned before the US Supreme Court on rights of animals against their encaging, abuse and experimentation, Justice Barbara Jaffe of the Manhattan Supreme Court even granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two non-human plaintiffs, Hercules and Leo – chimpanzees used for medical experiments at Stony Brook University on Long Island. Several rulings from Indian courts have acknowledged the rights of pet and homeless stray animals.

Courts in India have bestowed rights to even rivers and trees notwithstanding eyes which shut on sobbing and screaming hens transported in stuffed cages, disrobed in markets like public rape of young girls. I cannot insist that law be made to reclaim hen’s legal protection against what I see as a crime as ‘this is my sensitivity, may not be yours’ but I retain my right to sustain my level of sensitivity that suggests co-existence, will set a direction for evolution in law. Despite a nation with an embedded philosophy of Buddhism, Vaishnavism and Jainism proscribing animal slaughter, brutality, and their enslavement, yet it took our Constitution three decades to add two austere words ‘compassion’ and ‘coexistence’ in Articles 48-A and 51-A and that too as mere suggestive guidelines, not as law. This reveals the inertia of the State towards ideals belonging to higher sensitivities in contrast to authority driven diktats.

Why humanitarian law and, for that reason, why women’s law, environmental law or law for the differently-abled? Under what law would the State take note of the fact and also make houses for the 15% homeless human population (2011 census) with 4 lakh children and 8 crore dogs and cats on streets (Report of State of Pet Homelessness Index 2020) shivering in freezing temperatures and enduring rains and winds in the open. Their death is also insignificant to governments. In 2020, except for Delhi, Maharashtra and Kerala, those 16 States with 40% homeless made no mention of them on the contrary have forcefully evicted more than 2,60,000 people with homes in 2017 alone for city beautification and infrastructural development projects. The 2022 World Inequality Report uncovers how global inequality has been exacerbated due to the Covid-19 pandemic in which the top 1% took 38% of all additional wealth accumulated since 1995 with an acceleration in 2020.

As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither internal nor external controls on the government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this; you must first enable the government to control the governed and the next place, oblige it to control itself.” So how would citizens oblige the government to control itself? That is where a need for ‘rule of law’ enters body polity justifying humanitarian laws as an indispensable prerequisite in war, in peace and in disasters.

The author acknowledges with thanks inputs from the rich discussion she had with two colleagues from JNU, Dr P. Puneeth and Dr Deepa Kansra.

The author is president of Network Asia Pacific Disaster Research Group (NDRG), Senior Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), and former Professor of Administrative Reforms and Emergency Governance at JNU. The views expressed are personal.

As James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither internal nor external controls on the government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this; you must first enable the government to control the governed and the next place, oblige it to control itself.” So how would citizens oblige the government to control itself? That is where a need for “rule of law” enters body polity justifying humanitarian laws as an indispensable prerequisite in war, in peace and in disasters.

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Opinion

GOVERNMENT ACTS SWIFTLY, MOVES ERRANT IAS OFFICERS OUT OF DELHI

Pankaj Vohra

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The Centre on Thursday night acted swiftly against two IAS officers, Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife, Rinku Dugga by moving them out from Delhi to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh respectively. The action came after the Indian Express published a report which stated that the IAS couple had misused their position to get the Thyagraj Stadium vacated every evening so that they could do their daily walking on the tracks meant for training athletes. How this was happening should also be a subject of an inquiry since there could be involvement of some more officials in this glaring dereliction of duty. The stadiums are meant for sportspersons and the top priority should always be given to their training and preparedness. However, this particular IAS couple, perhaps intoxicated by the immense power they wielded used it to intimidate everyone so that they could follow their walking regimen on a daily basis. There could be numerous other examples of senior civil servants abusing their positions to show their clout to their peers and others. There was an example of a Delhi police official who was known for getting the petrol from his official car transferred to his personal car.

He would many times get police recruits to line up outside his house and chant Zindabad with his name. The government at that time had taken a lenient view of his deviant behaviour and allowed him to continue in his position in the national capital till he was routinely transferred out to another post. There are stories of how so many IAS officers manage to write books when they should be serving the people at that time. Instead of clearing their files, many of the bureaucrats have secretarial assistance available to them and use that help to dictate the drafts of books which later get published by willing publishers who get these books picked up by various agencies of the government itself. The government of the day has on earlier occasions too acted against civil servants who have been overstepping their boundaries to assert their positions.

The primary task of the bureaucracy is to assist the elected representatives in discharging their duties based on the stipulated policies of the government. The bureaucrats cannot be bossing their political bosses which is very often happening, primarily because a large number of politicians are totally at sea when it comes to understanding the nuances of the administration and are heavily dependent on civil servants. Gone are the days when integrity and civil service were synonymous with each other. Unless and until the political will is strong, the bureaucrats shall always continue to exploit the situation. Delhi has always attracted a lot of attention and therefore, those who get posted here must be carefully selected.

The new Lt. Governor has recently been appointed and shall now have to ensure that the postings and transfers are done carefully and by going through proper background checks. Many IAS officers are back in the city and are awaiting postings. They would obviously get their new assignments shortly. So far as the two deviant IAS officers are concerned, they should be strictly dealt with in accordance with the service rules applicable to the civil servants

Editorial Director: Prof. M.D. Nalapat; Managing Editor: Pankaj Vohra; Editor: Joyeeta Basu; Executive Editor: Bikash C Paul; Printed and Published by Rakesh Sharma for and on behalf of Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd.; Printed at: Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd, Khasra No. 39, Village Basai Brahuddin Nagar, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, (U.P.-201301); Published at: S-I, 2nd Floor, Green Park, Opp Canara Bank, New Delhi-110016; The Editorial offices: 275 Captain Gaur Marg Sriniwaspuri Okhla, New Delhi – 110065; Mumbai Office: Juhu Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Santa Cruz-West, Mumbai-400049; Chandigarh Office: SCO-7, Sector 17-E, Chandigarh- 160017; RNI Registration No: Applied For; Title Code No: DELENG19869; For Subscriptions and Circulation Complaints Contact: Delhi: Mahesh Chandra Saxena Mobile:+ 91 9911825289, CISN 0976 – 0008

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Nitroex Coin Moves Towards Its Targets

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Nitroex Coin

NTX Token is the native token of the Nitroex cryptocurrency exchange. People who buy Ntx coins will have a 25% discount on the transaction fee they will give in every trading transaction on the nitroex crypto money exchange.

What are the NTX Token Advantages?

In addition to purchasing NTX Tokens, there are many other services, such as the NitroEx Wealth System, which offers its users a share of the company revenues from trading fees that NitroEx generates by providing exchange services. The company sells 25% of the shares and distributes profits as NTX every quarter. Thanks to this system that NTX won, users also get many privileges. Since NTX Token will be used as fuel, inflation and deflation over price are kept under control. You can benefit from NitroEx privileges by being included in the system.

With the Wealth System project, NitroEx Company distributed a total of $1,852,312 worth of NTX Tokens among users who were included in the system in 4 different periods for 1 year. Although Asset System project purchases are currently closed, distributions continue within the scope of the project. It is eagerly awaited by users that the company will start working on new purchases for the project.

How Much is the NTX Token Supply?

Maximum Total Supply of NTX at 11,000,000,000 NTX. The Circulating Supply of NTX is 3,500,000,000 NTX. 250,000,000 NTX Tokens burned. After the token was burned, the Total Supply was 10,750,000,000.

What are NTX Coin’s Achievements in 2021?

  • NitroEx distributed a total of $1,852,312 worth of NTX Tokens to Wealth System investors in 4 different periods during 1 year in the Wealth System project.
  • NitroEx Mobile Application, which has a user-friendly interface, was launched on the Google Play Store and App Store on July 6, 2021.
  • NitroEx Exchange and NTX Token were listed on CoinMarketCap in 2021. Data flow was provided to users for NTX Token.
  • NTX Token was listed on CoinGecko on February 19, 2021.
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  • NitroEx celebrated its 1st anniversary on June 27, 2021 and distributed its awards to its investors. In order to better serve its users in its new era, it accelerated its work and organized the NitroEx Listing Festival.
  • NTX Token was listed on ProBit Exchange on October 5, 2021 and ranked in the top 50 on CoinMarketCap. NTX Token is traded on the NTX/USDT pair.
  • The first NTX Token was burned on the Ethereum blockchain by NitroEx on October 9, 2021. By incineration, 50,000,000 NTX was removed from circulation from the total supply of 11,000,000,000 NTX. Public burning is proven on Etherscan.
  • A big step was taken by burning a total of 200,000,000 ntx coins on March 11, 2022. The exchange will burn 20 percent of the total supply and remove it from the market.
  • NTX Token was listed on the LBank Exchange on October 26, 2021 and ranked in the top 25 on CoinMarketCap. NTX Token is traded on the NTX/USDT pair.
  • The announcement was made for the second NTX Token burn. After the preparations are completed, the NTX Token will be burned.
  • Investors using the NitroBot App made 8% profit from their funds in 2021.
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  • NTX Token increased from 0.0007 USDT to 0.0019 USDT in 2021 according to CoinMarketCap data.
  • As we approach the new year, NTX Token is preparing to make new listing announcements on the top 50 exchanges on CoinMarketCap.

He stated that Ntx coin will continue to progress by taking successful steps in 2022.

On Which Exchanges Is Ntx Coin Available?

You can trade Ntx coins from the following exchanges.

  • Probit Global
  • lbank
  • hotbit
  • Nitroex.io
nitroex coin

The Future of NTX Coins

ntx coin, which is among the promising altcoins of the last period, continues to attract the attention of investors. It is promising for the future of ntx coin that it was last listed on the world-famous cryptocurrency exchange hotbit on March 5 and that the company officials continue their negotiations with the gate.io stock exchange. Regular burning of Ntx coin and listing on many exchanges will contribute to the valuation of ntx coin.

What are the NTX Coin 2022 Plans?

What are the plans for ntx coin 2022, one of the important fuel coins;

  • Entering the top 20 exchanges in the market
  • Reaching the 0.1 cent target within the year
  • Using the fuel coin feature in trade (using it as a payment method in companies such as shell, Bp)
  • To be able to use in world famous fuel and energy companies
  • Increasing the discount rate within the exchange (paying less fees)
  • Increasing social activities and growing the community
  • Increasing transaction volume
  • Increasing the number of whales (holders)

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Opinion

IDEA OF INDIA: FACILE BAD-MOUTHING OR MUCH MORE

Nitin Mehta

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Around 500 delegates, 50 of whom were from abroad, took part in the conference. The conference was called ‘The Idea of India’ and took place in London from 18 to 20 May 2022. It was organised by Bridge India Foundation which registered as a charity in the UK in 2019. It describes itself as a ‘progressive non-profit think tank which will help India watchers to understand India better’. The conference was ostensibly to deliberate on issues like investment, education and green technology. Pushpraj Deshpande, one of the sponsors of the event and founder of the Samruddha Bharat Foundation, said, “the conference was organised to change the narrative in India which was not casteist or communalist.” He further said, “the West is very worried, the UK especially, about racism and communalism in their societies. No UK political party would want to be seen to endorse the systematic targeting of minorities, so how can the West sit silently on what is happening in India? They expect India to be a regional antidote to China. Are they really expecting us to be a regional antidote when we are going the China and Russian way?” Deshpande is a supporter of the Congress Party and his organisation was actually launched by Rahul Gandhi.

Amongst those present at the conference were Gandhi, Communist leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress leader Salman Kurshid, and Mohua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress. Sam Pitroda and Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India were amongst the speakers. Gandhi, in his address to the conference, said, “India was not in a good place and PM Modi does not listen. There is kerosene all over the country and all it needs is one spark.” Gandhi continued that mass action is required to free India from ‘deep state’ organisations like RSS and even CBI! He also remarked that some European bureaucrats complained that the Indian Foreign Service has completely changed and the officers are arrogant! Gandhi also spoke at an event organised by Dr Shruti Kapila, assistant professor of History at Cambridge and Fellow of Corpus Christi College. Dr Kapila is a Congress supporter and has stated that Veer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) is the Father of new India, presumably under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In her speech, Moitra emphasised, “India needs a multicultural Indian government, not a uni-dimensional narrow one. I do not have to prove my patriotism every time I open my mouth.”

According to The Times of India, meetings were held behind closed doors with senior left-wing politicians and shadow ministers in the UK as well as business leaders, activists, and academics. Amongst the trustees of Bridge India are Suprio Chaudhuri, Chief Learning Officer, ATMC; Ashwin Kumara Swamy, Investment Director Mercia Management; and Raquib Islam, a British civil servant. Author Salil Tripathi and Santosh Bhanot of the Asian Circle are amongst the advisers. The Bridge Foundation is a sponsor of the Asian Achievements Awards. For an organisation which professes to encourage exchange of ideas, there was no one from the BJP among the speakers. No one remotely sympathetic to the ruling party, which has won two elections, was among the speakers. It is obvious that this conference was a coming together of failed left-wing politicians, academics, and evangelical groups. These groups have paid lip service to disadvantaged groups for decades and the overwhelming numbers of people in India have seen through their fake stomach thumping!

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Opinion

Transforming slums via upgradation and delisting: Odisha’s approach

The model for slum upgradation by Government of Odisha, utilising public resources during the ongoing pandemic and ensuring better preparedness against similar health crises in the future, has the potential to be scaled up to other states within the country.

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By Shubhagato Dasgupta, Anindita Mukherjee, Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar

Slums are not a new phenomenon. They have been concomitant to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation as populations boomed . These pockets of informal settlements are characterised by overcrowding, insanitary, unhealthy, and dehumanising living conditions, insecure land tenure, lack of access to basic civic services, education, and health care, among others. While the challenges faced at the slum level are not new, the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated their substandard living conditions while preventing them from practicing seemingly simple preventive measures such as frequent handwashing and maintaining social distancing, threatening more than one billion people worldwide in slums as well as in the non-slum urban areas at large. Those living in slums and informal settlements are also most vulnerable to the economic consequences of a widespread lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic, through its various peaks, has further heightened the need for a more robust and immediate solution for improving living condition and access to service in slums. Integrating slums within city fabric by slum upgradation has the potential to be one of the crucial interventions that can foster inclusive and resilient cities as we ‘build back better’.

The approach to slum upgrading has changed considerably from the 1950s to the 2000s. Beginning in 1972, the World Bank launched urban upgrading projects to improve services, infrastructure, and housing in hopes of reducing poverty and meeting basic needs (Corburn & Sverdlik, 2017). In the 2000s, the slum upgradation programmes became more comprehensive, calling for an enabling approach combining good policies, community participation, engagement of the private sector and strategies to prevent future proliferation of slums. Through the years, slum upgrading initiatives in countries across the world like Bandung, Indonesia, and Vietnam, among others, have been considered relatively successful; however, upscaling projects from small neighbourhoods to the city and to the state scales remained a challenge.

Slum upgrading is a complex phenomenon as several interrelated components requires to be addressed to implement it successfully. It is not simply about providing basic infrastructures or housing but also about integrating the economic, social, institutional, and community activities that are needed to turn around downward trends in an area . The two most important factors for a slum upgrading programme to be successful are strong political will on behalf of the government and a strong buy-in from communities. However, in most cases, achieving some coherence in the community, finding solutions for a wide range of needs and sustaining political will across government terms remain primary challenges.

Odisha’s approach to the challenge

Although one of the least urbanised states in India, Odisha grew at a rate double that of its overall population during the 2001-2011 period. Moreover, one in every four urban dwellers in Odisha was living in slums (Census 2011) and lacked access to basic infrastructure while occupying only 2- 4% of the urban land . Against this background, Odisha embarked on its journey of providing land rights to slum dwellers and enacted the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act in September 2017, followed by launch of Jaga Mission or the Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission in 2018. By 2021, the GoO distributed more than 70,000 Land Rights Certificate (LRC) across 109 small and medium urban local bodies (ULBs) while according more than 99,000 Land Entitlement Certificate (LEC).

However, as mentioned above, mere according land rights do not improve the living quality in these urban informal settings. The continuum of land rights, from de-jure to de-facto presented a range of opportunities to incrementally transform urban slums and the lives of the people who live there. Accordingly, a ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Slum Upgrading and Delisting in Odisha’ designed to integrate the urban poor settlements into the mainstream city fabric and transform the slums into liveable habitats called Biju Adarsh Colonies (BACs). It was launched on 28th September 2020 amidst the pandemic, and the work was initiated immediately. It intended to benefit the slum dwellers by jointly identifying with the communities the key infrastructure gaps and subsequently filling those gaps by process of upgradation. It focused on improving access to six civic infrastructures i.e. i) in-house water supply, ii) paver roads, iii) pucca stormwater drainage, iv) street lights, v) individual household toilets (IHHL), vi) in-house electricity, and common social infrastructures i.e. vii) Parichaya, signature community centres viii) Open space development including ix) development of childrens’ play areas. The state government’s effort through asset creation and improved service delivery aimed to address the demands of urbanisation and bridge the gap between developmental outcomes and the growing needs of people in the state. This, in turn, translated into increased infrastructure resilience and reduced vulnerability towards health risks like the ones posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Community engagement has been one of the key features of the programme. By stimulating and fostering the capacity of community-based organisations namely the Slum Dwellers’ Association (SDA) and Self-Help Groups (SHGs), the government ensured that not only they become the beneficiaries of the development but also becomes the partner in the process of development instilling a sense of ownership of the process. Moreover, the projects supported climate-sensitive infrastructure development by mandating paver blocks for new roads, LED bulbs for Street Lighting, construction of toilet with Septic Tank, and encouraging the use of solar-powered street lights. These technologies are expected to result in positive environmental impact by subsoil percolation & groundwater recharge, energy conservation, reduction in carbon footprint, groundwater contamination, waterbody contamination, and eventual decline in health hazards.

Complementarity of other infrastructure programmes

Convergence with other ongoing state and central government schemes has been another key constituent of the program. Various government schemes like Urban Wage Employment Initiative (UWEI)/ Mukhyamantri Karma Tatapara Abhiyan Yojana (MUKTA), Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA), Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), and UNNATI funded the public works component of the slum upgradation under JAGA Mission, covering all parts of the project. While the water supply component is complemented by Mission BASUDHA, which seeks to provide piped drinking water supply to all households in Odisha, Swachh Bharat Mission was leveraged for individual toilets and CT/PTs. It also went ahead to integrate community participation and wage employment scheme with the slum upgradation process to reduce social, economic, and infrastructural vulnerability among the urban poor. The participation was further bolstered by the UWEI scheme launched initially for six months as a COVID-19 response to provide livelihood opportunities to around 450,000 urban poor families. The scheme was converged with JAGA Mission to provide employment to the urban poor by engaging them in creating urban infrastructure for slum upgradation. It not only provided gainful livelihood opportunities to urban poor families during the ongoing pandemic but also created community assets, strengthened community institutions, enhanced ecological resilience, and applied innovative technologies to enhance the sustainability of welfare schemes and measures.

Way Forward

While slum upgrading benefits a city by fostering inclusion, promoting economic development, addressing overall city issues, and improving the quality of life of the urban poor, there remain other challenges with mainstreaming. The upgraded slums, most often than not, remains unaccounted for in the city planning exercise and the upgradation wears off with time perpetuating the slum like situation. Odisha’s slum upgradation program is uniquely designed to tackle this challenge as well. The slums, once upgraded, are delisted and are integrated into the city fabric, thus bringing them within the purview of the statutory planning exercises. This is a step towards making the program sustainable in the long term. Another major challenge is the sustained flow of funds, which the Odisha government also addresses by amending its Odisha Municipal Act-1950 and Odisha Municipal Corporation Act-2003 to provide for internal earmarking of 25 percent fund for urban poor under the head of capital expenditure in all ULBs of the State. This allocation of sum for delivering basic services and infrastructure to slums in the ULB budgets aims at providing for the fiscal requirements and planning needs for the urban poor in the state. Internal resource earmarking aimed to channelize the municipal spending to become inclusive and pro-poor in their approach and functioning.

Informal settlements typically suffer from a lack of access to basic civic and social amenities and remain characterized by dilapidated built structures – increasing their vulnerability considerably. Hence, building forward better from this pandemic will necessitate integrating slums within the city fabric, further fostering inclusive and resilient cities envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). With access to all basic infrastructures backed by a strong local body, communities can be more cohesive, more resilient, and better placed to confront economic and social challenges. The model for slum upgradation by GoO utilising public resources during the ongoing pandemic and ensuring better preparedness against similar health crises in the future has the potential to be scaled up to other states within the country. Partnership between government and community along with a demand driven approach is the key to success of programs like JAGA Mission. The only key to this up scaling is to build continued complementarity with other state and national level urban development programmes and develop community partnerships.

Shubhagato Dasgupta is a Senior fellow, Anindita Mukherjee is an Associate Fellow and Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Views are personal.

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Opinion

UKRAINE IS NOT AFGHANISTAN, BUT…

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Ukraine-crisis is likely to be prolonged with a similar objective responsible for Afghanistan-war lasting for years. Geographically, culturally, histo rically and at numerous other levels, there is no comparison between Afghanistan-wars fought at different periods by United States as well as former Soviet Union and the ongoing Ukraine-war. Ukraine is not Afghanistan. The only similarity is that people have suffered and are suffering the most in both countries. But when superpower and/or major powers’ key interest is their own agenda, why should they be expected to be worry about grievances of common citizens in targeted countries?

Seriously, diplomatic promises, claims, assurances and so forth voiced by any power- which itself cannot claim to be above board in the same area- only sound hollow, including United States as well as Russia. Notwithstanding claims made by US and its allies about former’s aid to Ukraine, helping this country gain an upper edge against Russia, several key factors cannot be side-lined. It is astonishing, US waited for Russian strikes against Ukraine to begin and then started supplying weapons to latter. Weapons and not diplomatic cards have been (and are being) made use of. Secondly, this suggests a motive of Washington was and perhaps is continuance of Russian-Ukraine war. The limited or practically no importance being accorded to diplomatic negotiations for an end to this conflict indicates this. United States is apparently more concerned about continuance of Ukraine-crisis till Russia weakens more. It is equivalent to expecting history to repeat itself. Afghan-ploy was also responsible for collapse of Soviet Union.

Ukraine-crisis, it is feared, spells dangerous signals for other European countries. This refers to plans of Finland and Sweden to backtrack from their policies of military non-alignment and join NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that such a move “would certainly provoke our response.” Notwithstanding diplomatic legitimacy and/or credibility of this stand, what needs greater attention is the havoc that even a minor military move from Russia against these countries can lead to. Chances of American soldiers stepping in to confront Russian soldiers to check such a move may be viewed as non-existent. Those talking of Ukraine-crisis leading to third World War had probably envisaged such a situation, that of American soldiers actually helping Ukraine.

Geographically, terrain of these countries, including Ukraine is different from that of Afghanistan. Besides, spill-over of Afghanistan-war’s negative impact into Pakistan cannot be forgotten. It is difficult to assume that rest of Europe would not be affected by continuance of Ukraine-crisis and if other countries are caught in similar situation. Geographical proximity of Finland and Sweden to Russia cannot be ignored.

Diplomatically, United States is close enough to issue periodic assurances and perhaps also help with weapons. But that’s it. It is high time that European countries judged the situation as per their standing and not as laid out by other powers. Rather than risk facing any war or war-like situation and/or waiting for any external power to decide their diplomatic strategy, it may be more practical of Finland as well as Sweden to have one-to-one talk with Moscow. Waiting for third world countries to help them out may take too long a time and perhaps only worsen the situation.

NATO-diplomacy, inclusion in NATO and other similar diplomatic vibes sound great. But their limitation in spelling peace and relief as well as not permitting conflicts to take place standout by continuation of Ukraine-crisis. Yes, claims have been made by Ukrainian soldiers about having “made it to border” with “enemy state.” Their counter-offensive operations have been described as a “success”. NATO countries are going all out to boost Ukraine’s confidence by appreciating its success against Russia. These are definitely great diplomatic moves but of limited relevance when war is showing no sign of coming to an end. Chances of it spreading further stand out too markedly to be ignored.

Once a war begins between neighbouring countries, prospects of it coming to a quick end may be viewed as remote unless they mutually agree to give greater importance to diplomacy. Ukraine is caught in this trap. United States probably wants this “war,” as suggested earlier, to further weaken Russia, which would according to speculations be viewed by Washington as a major victory. But at what cost?

– Nilofar Suhrawardy

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Why India-Japan relations matter in the 21st century

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One should make good people their friends. One who keeps good friends, benefits, and lives in peace. – Rig Veda

Time, when in a span of 15 days (March –April 2022), 11 high-level delegations from foreign countries (including the Chinese foreign minister) visited India, and India is visiting Japan to strengthen the Quad, showing the rise of a new economic coalition or something more or something else?

There have been murmurs on the sidelines about Quad Plus. What about Supply Chain Resilience Initiative? What is this Quad, Quad Plus, and why have Japanese ties become so relevant in recent times under the recent geopolitical environment?

Starting from the historic perspective, relations between India and Japan have been strong for centuries on account of Buddhism which originated in India and spread through entire Japan.

In the last century, in Auust 1942, one of the greatest Indian leaders, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indian National Army (INA) with Japanese support and the Japanese-captured Indian prisoners of war.

The offensive from this army (INA) and their grit along with Satyagraha from within led by Mahatma Gandhi, severe losses (suffered by Britishers in WW II), the huge quantum of debt (raised by the UK to fight the war), and the massive cost of maintenance of a plundered nation forced Britishers to give India Independence in 1947.

Just before the Indian Independence in Feb 1946, the soldiers, officers, and personnel who were captured by the Japanese belonging to the Royal Indian Navy (one of the bravest contingents of Indian fighting for Allied forces posing a strong opposition to the Japanese invasion in the Indian Ocean during World War II) and were eventually freed by Japanese (post-WW II) raised a revolt and organized a mutiny to overthrow British.

Indian hearts and Indians’ minds by now were aligned to India and Indian Independence and eventually, Independence came in.

Fast-forward 75 years to the present day, the official reason why the Prime Minister of India visited Japan was to be part of the second physical meeting of Quad. A group of 4 countries, the US, Japan, Australia, and India.

Initiated in 2007 and finally taking shape in 2017, Quad or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue came into existence. Today what is perceived as “Asian NATO” the Core thought process of Quad came into existence in 2004 on account of the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed 2.28 lac people in 14 countries.

From a humble humanitarian helping hand approach Quad has turned now out to be a formidable force to contain the influence of the reign of China in the Asia Pacific region.

Over the last 2 decades with the rise of China, there has been a steep fall in allies China. All 4 founding or Core members of Quad have or continue to have challenging relations with China.

AUSTRALIA, INDIA & CHINA

Starting with Australia. Australia’s largest trading partner is China, Australia is the largest exporter to China (37%) by a mile (the second largest being Japan with 11% exports) and now Australia wishes to reduce its export dependence on China.

Why this change in mind, change in alignment, change in future strategy?

In May 2020, Australia called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, infuriating China. In April 2021, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne cancels two MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) signed by the state of Victoria in 2018 and 2019 with China’s National Development and Reform Commission on Chinese participation in infrastructure projects under China’s Belt and Road initiatives.

In April 2022, Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton accused China of paying bribes to win international deals. Why this distrust, mistrust, and unease between Australia and China, When Australia’s largest output is absorbed by China?

It’s a long story in itself and it all started with espionage by Huawei – the largest manufacturer of telecom, equipment, smart devices, and consumer electronic items. On the recommendation from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) concerned with cyber security & espionage, in 2010, Australia’s National Broadband Network quietly rejected Huawei’s bids for the creation of the national broadband network. In 2018 Huawei and ZTE (Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer) were banned from constructing Australia’s 5G network and the saga started.

Once a friend, now a foe, seeking more de-alignment. Somebody’s loss is always somebody’s gain. As Australia was looking to de-align itself from China, India emerged as a formidable, credible, ethical, all-weather partner to Australia.

Swiftly, in April 2022, India strengthened its ties & alliance with Australia by signing the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that aims at doubling bilateral trade in the next five years to USD 45-50 billion from USD 27 billion as of FY 22.

Presently India is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner, Australia wants India to be top three export markets by 2035. ECTA was historic in the way that tariffs were removed on more than 85% of Australian goods exported to India. In return, Australia agreed to Indian terms of 96% of Indian goods arriving in Australia to be duty-free.

On the Oil side, India is tying deeply with UAE giving UAE companies equivalent status as compared to Indian businesses for sourcing done by the Indian government on the other hand, with Australia India is finding an ally that shares common insecurity & challenges with another Asian giant China.

Australia on an ongoing basis has backed the US, stating that there is ‘no legal basis to several Chinese claims in the disputed South China sea.

THE UNITED STATES, INDIA & CHINA

The US (United States of America), the second formidable partner in Quad wishes to control its trading partner China’s might and influence in the Asia Pacific region by Quad. Also, the US is an ally of Taiwan and in case of aggression by China to annex Taiwan which China believes is part of the People’s Republic of China will need assistance from Quad allies.

To make the geo-political situation a little more chaotic, a latest news coverage by a reputed publication suggested that the Chinese President, aged 68, is suffering from a cerebral aneurysm, a condition when a bulge forms in one of the blood vessels in the brain with a 50% probability of mortality and Chinese President publicly vowed in 2019 that Taiwan must and will be reunited with China and that China reserves the right to use the force. In such a scenario, the US finds India’s largest military as a natural ally against the largest military in the world.

INDIA

India welcomed its way into the Quad as it enabled India both in terms of economic ties as well as a forging formidable force in case of aggression. India had in the past and recently witnessed conflicts with China (in 2020) in the Galwan Valley, the Eastern region of Ladakh. For decades, India continues to fight and reclaim its rights and control over parts of Aksai Chin, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and Ladakh that are illegally controlled and occupied by China.

On the economic front, India had an import of 100 billion USD from China with India’s trade deficit with China clocking a whooping USD 69.38 billion in 2021. India surely wishes to replace this as quickly as it can. Quad surely can do wonders.

JAPAN, INDIA & CHINA

The next pillar of Quad, Japan has been India’s oldest ally in development, and both have deep social as well as historic links as covered in the earlier part of the note.

The Japanese investments in India touched USD 32 billion between 2000 and 2019, across all core sectors including automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, chemical, insurance, pharmaceutical, etc. What was done in 19 years, nearly one-third more (USD 42 billion) will be done in the next 5 years as investments by Japan in India (Intent & actions remain so)?

In 2014, India and Japan entered into a strategic global partnership, a unique and first of its kind in the world whereby it was agreed (other things as well) that in a specific period of the next 5 years Japan’s foreign direct investment and the number of Japanese companies operating in India to double and the target was met.

As India is important to Japan for its slow or DE growing economy with an aged population to rely on the huge market like India, India is dependent on Japan for its cheap capital to build infrastructure to grow its economy on a fast track and provide large scale employment to Indian Youth who need jobs to sustain the family and country.

China remains Japan’s largest trading partner but the conflict continues with China despite economic ties. The conflict started in 2012, when Japan nationalized the Senkaku islands (the Senkaku Islands are a group of uninhabited islands in the East), sparking widespread protests across China. Since then, China has affected a strategy of active non-acquiescence to Japan’s occupation of the islands.

Though Quad was largely formulated and constituted before Covid, Covid expedited the Vaccination diplomacy, Where Russia (not in the context of Quad) China, India, and the US-led the vaccine manufacturing largely.

In a couple of meetings virtually in 2020, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Brazil, and Israel, most of which are allies of the US took part and there have been murmurs of having these other nations, which share common anxiety against China can be brought in the group known as Quad Plus.

Covid was handled by all countries differently as per their capacity and wisdom and unique amongst it was and are China, where one witnessed zero-tolerance policy on something which is beyond human control.

Thus world which is largely dependent on China across most goods & services found India as a strong ally and thus came China + 1 policy for the world.

Witnessing the disruptions in the Supply chain caused by Covid and to handle any other equivalent situation better and reduce vulnerability and dependence on China, thus came the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) is a trilateral agreement that was led by Japan, Australia, and India. The core idea of this initiative was to create a “virtuous cycle” of strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth throughout the Indo-Pacific region by sharing best practices, investment promotion, and buyer-seller matching events for supply chain diversification.

Quad, Quad Plus, SCRI are some of the reasons why India visited Japan, but more importantly, to, strengthen ties to fast-track cheap capital flows into India from Japan so that India can continue to remain the Engine of growth for the World, clocking CAGR of 8% real GDP growth.

Interestingly Japan chose India from thousands of miles away as a partner for growth and a friend, and India relied upon a nation far away instead of its neighbours.

As one says, one cannot choose neighbours but surely can choose whom one remains friends with.

Siddhartha Rastogi, Managing Director & COO, Asset Management Vertical of a leading full-service Investment Bank. (The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view or position of any company or sister concerns or Group company where the Author is presently employed.)

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