Q1.. What is the significance of the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case?
The verdict concluded that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute. The verdict said the President should exercise the power only after his proclamation (imposing his/her rule) is approved by both Houses of Parliament.
Till then, the Court said, the President can only suspend the Legislative Assembly by suspending the provisions of Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly.
“The dissolution of Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation,” the Court said.
The case put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government. And the verdict also categorically ruled that the floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor, who is often referred to as the agent of the Central government.
“The Chief Minister of every State who has to discharge his constitutional functions will be in perpetual fear of the axe of Proclamation falling on him because he will not be sure whether he will remain in power or not and consequently he has to stand up every time from his seat without properly discharging his constitutional obligations and achieving the desired target in the interest of the State,” the Court said.
In one of the first instances of the impact of the case, the A.B. Vajpayee government in 1999 was forced reinstate a government it dismissed. The Rabri Devi government, which was sacked on February 12, 1999 was reinstated on March 8, 1999 when it became clear that the Central government would suffer a defeat in the Rajya Sabha over the issue.
And later whenever the case of a hung Assembly, and the subsequent exercise of government formation, came up, the Bommai case would be cited, making it one of the most quoted verdicts in the country’s political history.
Q2. Government has publicised three documents that can shape the environment and forest governance in India. Comment
In the last two months, the government has publicised three documents that can shape the environment and forest governance in India. Interested citizens have been given a few days to read and respond to a draft forest policy, amendments to the 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification and the draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) put out by the Environment Ministry.
A policy, a law, and a programme
The draft forest policy was made available on the ministry’s website in mid-March. The policy is focused on raising commercial plantations. It undermines two major gains of the last few decades; understanding forests as a complex ecological system, beyond their timber value and recognition to community-led conservation through new legislation. The timeline to receive comments was one month.
The draft amendments to the 2011 CRZ notification are presently open for comments. The proposed changes encourage real estate, tourism and other infrastructure development on the coast. These could significantly alter the existing land use on the coast, especially common use areas like fishing or grazing. The Ministry generated these amendments through discussions with expert committees and state governments.
The third document is the NCAP that has been drafted in response to widespread demand by citizens for long-term action to reduce air pollution. The government has put out its two-year vision in this proposal. There are several long-term scientific studies and technological models proposed, with a few steps as targeted measures to combat the high levels of pollution.
Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio declaration acknowledged, “environmental issues are best handled with participation of all citizens concerned, at the relevant level.” But this participation has to be enabled and facilitated through appropriate access to information and adequate deliberation by signatory governments. The approach of the current Environment Ministry does none of the above.
The Ministry has put out these three documents, seeking written comments within the proposed tight timeframe. However, these documents are fully formed drafts that are based on a number of assumptions and make very specific suggestions on how to move forward.
Such documents are not open-ended and seem already invested with ministerial backing. This makes it difficult to critique the fundamental premise in them. It also pushes citizens into acknowledging these as ‘a good start’, ‘a first step’ in the interest of enabling a dialogue. Instead, deliberative discussions on the main issues, gaps or problems would allow greater public engagement and generate a wider set of perspectives that would be otherwise unavailable to the government.
For example, the 2011 CRZ notification was drafted, following a series of public meetings to discuss various aspects of coastal governance. These were organised in 2009-10 by the government, in collaboration with an NGO.
Public participation based on deliberation requires long and careful discussions before decisions are taken. But the advantage of these processes is that there is greater acceptability of the final outcomes.
The Environment Ministry can still consider building into its approach, wide public consultations on these key governance issues. At present, the process of review is extremely short and there are no options, but to communicate through written responses. The draft forest policy and the draft NCAP are open to comments for 30 days and the CRZ amendments have a 60-day review.
Participatory processes also involve accountability of those who have engaged in it. The Ministry’s review mechanisms are set up as a one-way street. The call for public comments in the present form creates an illusion that anyone with access to these documents can become a part of reforming environment law and policy.
Q3. What are cyclones. Explain mid-latitude cyclones in detail.
Cyclones can be the most intense storms on Earth. A cyclone is a system of winds rotating counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere around a low pressure center. The swirling air rises and cools, creating clouds and precipitation.
There are two types of cyclones: middle latitude (mid-latitude) cyclones and tropical cyclones. Mid-latitude cyclones are the main cause of winter storms in the middle latitudes. Tropical cyclones are also known as hurricanes.
An anticyclone is the opposite of a cyclone. An anticyclone’s winds rotate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere around a center of high pressure. Air comes in from above and sinks to the ground. High pressure centers generally have fair weather.
Mid-latitude cyclones, sometimes called extratropical cyclones, form at the polar front when the temperature difference between two air masses is large. These air masses blow past each other in opposite directions. Coriolis Effect deflects winds to the right in the Northern Hemisphere, causing the winds to strike the polar front at an angle. Warm and cold fronts form next to each other.
Most winter storms in the middle latitudes, including most of the United States and Europe, are caused by mid-latitude cyclones.The warm air at the cold front rises and creates a low pressure cell. Winds rush into the low pressure and create a rising column of air. The air twists, rotating counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Since the rising air is moist, rain or snow falls.
Mid-latitude cyclones form in winter in the mid-latitudes and move eastward with the westerly winds. These two- to five-day storms can reach 1,000 to 2,500 km (625 to 1,600 miles) in diameter and produce winds up to 125 km (75 miles) per hour.
Like tropical cyclones, they can cause extensive beach erosion and flooding.Mid-latitude cyclones are especially fierce in the mid-Atlantic and New England states where they are called nor’easters, because they come from the northeast. About 30 nor’easters strike the region each year.
Q4. Throw light on the different types of Peasants’ revolts in India?
Types of Revolts
The peasants’ revolts of British India can be roughly classified into five types as discussed below. This is a rough classification by anthropologist Katherine Gough. There are no strict lines between these types and many rebellions can be categorised into more than one category. A further classification divides them into Ethnic movements, Agrarian movements and Political Movements.
These revolts aimed to drive out the British and restore earlier rulers and social relations. One early example is of Raja Chet Singh of Banaras. When Warren Hastings demanded money from Chet Singh and when the latter failed to give it, he was arrested. However, his subjects supported him and protested against the colonial rule. Similarly, the Bishenpur revolt of 1789 was led by the local ruler and supported by local people. Between 1799 and 1800 Poligars, who were deprived of their military power adopted Guerrilla warfare to thwart the authority of British rulers.
The Santhal rebellion was another revolt which was not focussed on driving the British out but on restoring their traditional rights.
These revolts aimed for liberation of region or ethnic groups under new form of government or religious conflicts. Such revolts started as early as Aurangzeb’s puritan rule. Early example of such revolts was by Satnami religious sect in Narnaul in 1672. During British era, the revolts belonging to this category include Kuka Revolt; Moplah Rebellion etc.
This included rebels by individuals living on the edges of rural societies by robbing and plundering. They were often seen by ordinary people as heroes or beacons of popular resistance. The examples of such revolts include Sanyasi Revolt by Sanyasis and Fakirs of Bengal in late 18th century. Another example was dispossessed military chief Narasimha Reddi and his followers in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, in 1846-47. The banditry by Lodhas of Midnapore and tribal Kallars of South India.
This included killing for meting out collective justice. Examples include raids of Lushai Kukis into Sylhet and Cachar in the first half of the nineteenth century and killing of British by Moplah.
These included the spontaneous and abrupt uprisings commonly without any leader or organizational base. Most of them were temporary in nature and came to sudden end. Examples include revolt in Rangpur and Dinajpur of 1783 and the Deccan peasant uprising of 1875.