Current Affairs (10th August 2021)
Net-zero emissions target
- Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report in which it warned that a 1.5 degree warming was likely even before 2040.
- It emphasies on immediate cuts on global greenhouse gas emissions. For India, it is likely to translate into increased pressure to agree to a net-zero target, a deadline by which it should be able to bring down its emissions to a level that equals the absorptions made by its carbon sinks, like forests.
- IPCC produces assessment reports that are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of earth’s climate.
- IPCC assessment reports are not policy prescriptive. They do not tell countries what to do. But their science forms the basis for climate action across the globe, and foundation for international climate negotiations.
- Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC does not itself engage in scientific research. Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up the logical conclusions.
- So far, five assessment reports have been produced, the first one being released in 1990. The fifth assessment report had come out in 2014 in the run up to the climate change conference in Paris.
Highlights of Report:
- For the first time that the IPCC has said that the 5 degree warming was inevitable even in the best case scenario.
- The most ambitious emission pathways would lead to the warming be achieved in the 2030s, overshoot to 1.6 degree C, before the temperatures drop back again to 1.4 degree C by the end of the century.
- This is important because the worst impacts of climate change are projected to get manifested in extreme events — rainfall, drought, heat-waves, cyclones and others — and the frequency of such events is expected to rise sharply. In a way, extreme events would no longer also remain rare. They are likely to get normalised very soon.
- Several countries, more than 100, have already announced their intentions to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. These include major emitters like the United States, China, and the European Union.
- India, the third largest emitter in the world, has been holding out, arguing that it was already doing much more than it was required to do, performing better, in relative terms, than other countries, and that any further burden would jeopardise its continuing efforts to pull its millions out of poverty.
- The IPCC said that a global net-zero by 2050 was the minimum required to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. Without India, this would not be possible. Even China, the world’s biggest emitter, has a net-zero goal for 2060.
- But other countries would feel the heat as well. For the purposes of global warming and its impacts, the pathways are as important as the destination.
- Immediate emission cuts and a steady pathway to net-zero is expected to bring better benefits than a business-as-usual scenario and a sudden drop in emissions towards the end to meet the target.
- Even for the countries that have pledged a net-zero target, the substantial part of their emission cuts is planned only for 2035 and beyond. The new evidence in the IPCC report is likely to put pressure on them as well to reconsider their pathways.
Passport and Govt job rejection
- A recent circular issued by the police in Kashmir has asked field intelligence units to look into the past record of involvement in stone-pelting incidents and other street protests whenever someone applies for a passport or a government job.
- Security clearance can be denied to applicants if the police find evidence of any criminal activity in their records.
- The development brings to the fore the circumstances in which applicants can be refused a passport or a government job based on their antecedents.
Can antecedents of an applicant be used to deny a government job?
- It is fairly well-known that verification of the character and antecedents of a person is part of the recruitment process for government jobs.
- This is usually based on a form filled up by the applicants themselves in which they will have to say whether or not they have been arrested, detained or prosecuted in the past, as well as state whether any criminal proceedings are pending against them.
- While the presence of a criminal record is not an automatic disqualification, it can be used to cancel the applicant’s candidature.
- Case law from various High Courts and the Supreme Court shows that the employers are not bound to appoint anyone with a criminal record, but they do have the discretion to consider the nature of the pending proceedings or concluded cases and make a decision.
- However, suppression of relevant information on one’s criminal record is considered quite grave, and can lead to both criminal prosecution and cancellation of candidature, if yet to be appointed, or termination of services, if already recruited.
- If there is a long delay between the appointment of a person and the surfacing of the truth about a past incident,
- An inquiry will be required to establish the circumstances in which the facts were suppressed before a confirmed employee’s services are terminated.
- The Supreme Court summarised principles culled out from a series of judgments over many decades and set out some guidelines in Avtar Singh vs. Union of India (2016).
Grounds on which the passport authority deny an applicant a passport:
- Under Section 6(2) of the Indian Passports Act, 1967:
- The passport authority can refuse to issue a passport for specific reasons such as:
- The applicant being not a citizen of India;
- The applicant may engage, outside India, in activities prejudicial to the country’s sovereignty and integrity,
- The applicant’s departure may be detrimental to the country’s security;
- The person’s presence abroad may prejudice India’s friendly relations with a foreign country.
- The passport authority can refuse to issue a passport for specific reasons such as:
- Refusal of passport may also be related to a person’s antecedents.
- Conviction for any offence that involves “moral turpitude” with a sentence of not less than two years in the five preceding years would mean denial of passport.
- Denial Grounds:
- It can also be refused if any proceedings are pending in a criminal court against the applicant; and
- If any arrest warrant or summons for appearance is pending.
- There is a general power to deny a passport or travel document to anyone if in the opinion of the Central government, it is not in public interest.
Legal remedy for rejected applicants:
- Section 22 of the Indian Passports Act, 1967:
- IT confers power on the Union government to exempt any person or class of persons from its provisions by way of notification.
- On August 25, 1993, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a notification to provide relief to citizens against whom proceedings are pending before a criminal court.
- Under this notification, they can be issued a passport or travel document if they produce an order from the court concerned permitting them to depart from India.
- If the court specified a period in its order, they could be issued passports with validity for that period, or, if no period was specified, it could be given for one year.
Court observations on these provisions:
- In January 2016, the Delhi High Court upheld the validity of Section 6(2)(f) of the Act, which allows the Centre to refuse a passport to anyone against whom criminal proceedings are pending.
- The senior advocate, the petitioner in this case, appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court.
- His main contention was that the clause makes no distinction between serious and non-serious offences, or even bailable and non-bailable offences.
- It is, therefore, unreasonable and arbitrary.
- The 1993 notification is also under challenge in the same case for imposing an ‘arbitrary’ one-year limit for the validity of a passport issued on the basis of a court order.
- Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E), in collaboration with NeGD, developed the ‘PM-DAKSH’ Portal and Mobile App to make the skill development schemes accessible to target groups.
- Pradhan Mantri Dakshta Aur Kushalta Sampann Hitgrahi (PM-DAKSH) Yojana is being implemented by the MoSJ&E from 2020-21.
- It is a National Action Plan for the marginalized persons of SC, OBC, Economically BC (EBC), Senior Citizens, De-notified Tribes (DNTs), Safaikaramcharies including waste pickers, and women.
- Through this scheme, MoSJ&E empowers the socially, educationally and economically marginalized sections of the society, by providing skill development training programmes to the eligible target groups on,
- Short Term and Long Term Training Programmes, and
- Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).
- These training programs are being implemented through Government Training Institutes, Sector Skill Councils constituted by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and other credible institutions.
- The following Apex Corporations functioning under the MoSJ&E provide loans at concessional interest rates and skill development training to the above target groups for self-employment,
- National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation,
- National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation,
- National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation.