11 July 2020: The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
1) Court must rule-
- In the Vikas Dubey case, the sequence of events casts the onus(responsibility) on the Uttar Pradesh police to prove its innocence.
- A day after the dreaded gangster was arrested in a temple in Ujjain, he was shot by the police as he purportedly(allegedly) tried to escape from custody.
- Just like five of his alleged accomplices(supporters) in the past few days. Dubey died later in hospital, but grave questions remain.
- The official narrative of the events of Friday morning — a car accident, an attempted escape and a police firing in self-defence — invites distrust.
- This was a drama starring a criminal who, by all accounts, knew too much.
- There are signs of police complicity(role) in the gangster’s success in evading the law so far, and loud talks of his connections to politicians in high places.
- There is, also, a thriving “encounter culture” and police impunity(protection) in UP.
- Such culture is sanctioned by the ruling regime. There is also lack of popular outrage(anger) at extra-judicial killings.
- There is aslo impatience with fundamental principles of criminal justice.
- Indeed, in a country governed by the rule of law, the UP Police has much to explain.
- But if it resists and refuses — as police forces in these situations do — the court must step in.
An extrajudicial killing (also known as extrajudicial execution) is the killing of a person by governmental authorities or individuals without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial killings often target leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures.
Vineet Narain vs Union of India
ROLE OF COURTS:
- In the past, the court has spoken on encounters and extra-judicial killings in which there is a perverse(bad) inversion of the norm — the FIR is usually filed against the killed, not the killers.
- Andhra Pradesh is a state that has a bloody record of encounter killings.
- In 2009, a 5-judge bench of the AP High Court, made it mandatory for the police to register an FIR against police officers after every “encounter” death and held that a judicial magistrate would decide the next steps.
- The Supreme Court framed guidelines to be followed in “encounter” cases in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra, (2014).
- But ambiguity(confusion) in wording, and a hard-to-get requirement of government sanction to prosecute police officers have conspired to ensure that police impunity is not dented(harmed).
- Other countervailing institutions have not lived up to their role.
- The National Human Rights Commission, for instance, laid out guidelines of its own in such cases in 1997, but these have not been taken seriously.
- The culprit, in part, is the NHRC’s inadequate infrastructure, and partly institutional listlessness.
- Almost 27 years after it came into existence, it fits the cliché(remark) most often used to describe it — “toothless tiger”.
ONUS ON COURT:
- It falls on the Court, therefore, to follow through.
- The SC already has a template — in cases of corruption, the court stepped in to direct systemic overhaul(repair), and to mandate judicial oversight of prosecution.
- Its decision in Vineet Narain vs Union of India in 1998 set an example.
- It has asserted its(SC) power to monitor investigations, pass interim orders, appoint amicus curiae, continually hold investigative agencies accountable.
- This should be emulated(copied) in the case of the extra-judicial killing and police excess.
- Otherwise, each encounter death is, effectively, the police — and the state — thumbing their nose(disrespect) at the court and the rule of law.
2) A reality check-
- Economic activity in India has rebounded from the lows observed in April with both demand and supply side indicators exhibiting a steady improvement in the subsequent months.
- But while the worst may well be over, even as the normalisation of economic activities to pre-COVID levels is still far from done, there are indications of a plateauing at relatively lower levels.
- Thus, the government’s optimistic(positive) talk of “green shoots” needs to be tempered with a dose of hard reality.
- On the consumption side, GST collections have risen from Rs 32,300 crore in April to Rs 91,000 crore in June.
- While part of the rise in the June collections may be on account of payments for previous months, the sharp rise in e-way bill generation signals a pick-up in activity.
- On the production side, the PMI manufacturing index has risen to 47.2 in June, inching closer to the 50-mark that distinguishes between a contraction and expansion.
- Similarly, power demand has picked up, as have e-toll collections.
- The services sector, though, continues to fare poorly, suggesting a two-paced recovery.
- There are also signs of healthy rural economic growth, with area under kharif sowing seeing an increase.
- Sales of two-wheelers and tractors — barometers of rural demand — have risen.
Purchasing Managers' Index
PMI or a Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity -- both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before.
SLOW PACES RECOVERY:
- However, data also suggests that the pace of recovery may be slowing down.
- The unemployment rate, which had spiked to 23.5 per cent in May as per CMIE, is down to 11 per cent in June, but the declining trend appears to be flattening out.
- A similar trend is observed in Nomura’s google mobility index.
- It is possible that the spurt in growth observed over the past month or so is temporary, driven by the ramping(increase) up of production facilities to replenish(refill) the stocks that had run dry during the lockdown.
Restrictions on activity owing to localised lockdowns, and self-imposed curbs by individuals, may lead to the economy operating at below pre-COVID levels, at least in the short-run.
3) Cool Roofs and other solutions-
GS 3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- India is among the most rapidly urbanising countries in the world.
- In 2018, nearly 34% of the country’s population lived in the cities — this is expected to increase to 40% by 2030, contributing 75% of the GDP.
- Driven by growing urbanisation, the real estate sector contributed 6-7% of the GDP in 2017 — will increase to 13% by 2025, notwithstanding(despite) temporary setbacks due to the pandemic.
- The exponential growth in urbanisation implies using up most of the open spaces in urban and semi-urban areas and creating more of paved surface cover, heat-trapping roofs, buildings and roads.
- The term "heat island" describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings.
- In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C). Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water pollution.
BUILDINGS- MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS:
- Often, buildings are one of the major contributors to incremental heat generation.
- More than 60% of the roofs are made of concrete, metal and asbestos, all of which tend to trap heat.
- Over time, these hot surfaces worsen the heat island effect and drive temperatures higher.
- Further, buildings account for more than 30% of India’s electricity consumption and a significant share of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
- It is thus imperative that any effort towards energy conservation must include a focused approach to urban areas and more specifically on buildings and built-up areas.
MERCERS QUALITY OF LIVING INDEX:
- Hyderabad has been rated as the best city in India in the Mercers Quality of Living Index for the last six years.
- Hyderabad, since the second quarter of 2019, is also the fastest-growing real estate market in the country.
- The commercial/institutional office space, which was 100 million square feet in 2015, is likely to double by 2021.
- In the short-term, it’s crucial to ascertain how to respond to extreme heat and urbanisation challenges during a major pandemic.
- In the medium and long-term, we need proactive pre-disaster actions to reduce risk and to invest in forward-looking plans, policies and programmes to ensure we make the right choices to balance urban growth and sustainable development.
- In the context of the urban built-up space, there is an opportunity upfront by ensuring the buildings are built smart.
- Telangana has taken steps to ensure energy efficiency in its buildings by incorporating the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)’s Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC).
- ECBC sets minimum efficiency standards for all commercial buildings, including categories such as multiplexes, hospitals, hotels and convention centres.
- This will go a long way in ensuring the environmental footprint of the sector is controlled.
COOL ROOFS- LOW COST:
- Additionally, there exist low-cost solutions to reduce the heat stress in homes and offices and bring down the dependence on air conditioners.
- Cool roofs, for example, offer a simple and a cost-effective answer to urbanisation challenges.
- Cool roofs reflect sunlight and absorb less heat.
- Depending on the setting, they can help lower indoor temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius as compared to traditional roofs.
- These roofs also potentially lead to less air pollution since they save energy, especially on cooling appliances, such as fans and air conditioners.
TELANGANA COOL ROOFS PROGRAMME:
- The Government of Telangana, realising the importance of low-cost cool-roofing technology, has already undertaken several meaningful interventions.
- Telangana tested these technologies through pilots undertaken in 2017.
- As part of the state’s building energy efficiency programme to implement a cool roofs pilot in low-income neighbourhoods to showcase the benefits and impact of cool roofs in the city.
- The project focused on a set of 25 low-income households.
- Dupont India supplied a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cool roof coating membrane called Tyvek.
- The results found that indoor air temperatures were observed to be lower by an average of 2 degrees Celsius in the homes with cool roofs as compared to similar homes without cool roofs.
- Working with knowledge partners, the Telangana Cool Roofs Programme has been designed and is ready for implementation.
- The programme is a target-based initiative to increase the percentage of cool roofs in the state.
- The programme will aim to install cool roofs in low-income housing and slum communities in the initial years, where the thermal comfort of the occupants is of paramount importance.
- Commercial buildings are also an important segment, given the rising footprint of the commercial activity in the state.
- While cool roofs have already been included in the prescriptive requirements of the state’s energy conservation building code, the government will eventually look to mandate the adoption in the latter years of the programme.
- A robust awareness generation and capacity building campaign is also a part of the programme.
- While it is important to focus on targets, the realisation of those targets has to be ensured through a well-functioning ecosystem of suppliers and installers.
- What is required at this stage is large scale marketing of the concept to make builders and owners aware of the advantages in terms of energy and cost savings.