The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 19 January 2021

Prisons and the pandemic

  • We have all heard that social distancing and hygiene is very crucial during this pandemic, but we know that none of this takes place in the Indian prisons. Various other nations like the UK and the USA there is continuous monitoring of all this with demand of statistics along with public opinion being sought, this also leads to influencing the policy making in the country.
  • In Indian society and in particular with the prisons we see nothing of this kind and the human rights of the prisoners is not demanded or in simple words, there is less human rights activism about the human rights of the prisoners in the country.
  • It took us a scenario like that of Varavara Rao’s arrest to understand that the scenario in jails looks like this. With this the author tells us the prisons can act as breeding grounds viruses and diseases to grow.
  • With this we must understand that the prisons in India are governed by the Prisons Act of 1894 and they are under the state list meaning that they are under the purview of the State Govt.
  • The scenario of the prisons is getting to be bettered with them being called as correctional homes and over 60 minimum security or open prisons are being established. We also must note that out of the 4.5 lakh prisoners, 3.3 lakh are under trail according to the NCRB data and are kept so in accordance with the Section 167 of the CRPC.
  • There are several problems that plague the prisons in the country, like:
    • Over crowding
    • Poor living conditions
    • Poor health care
    • Torture from various aspects
  • This allows the prisoners to be exposed to the viruses and diseases 10 times more than normal citizens which is outright injustice.
  • Several changes or amendments have to be made in this regard where we are seeing one change that the undertrials are being released on personal bonds and on the condition that they have served half of the jail term that they were prescribed.
  • This can help in decongestion of the prisons and this must be done in a fair manner and in nationwide changes are needed, the human rights of the prisoners must be considered, and they must be treated as normal citizens.
  • If prison is state subject, so is public health and proper consideration is needed to make sure the issue is set right through center and state cooperation.

Mining and its prospects

  • The author in this article speaks about mining and calls the mineral resources in the country as inherited wealth and presents this in the backdrop of intergenerational equity and sustainable growth.
  • He says that we are busy in extracting the natural resources of the nation like gas, oil, minerals among others and this we tend to sell to make more monetary wealth. But we need to understand that in this process that the mineral resources remain just a commodity and not an inherited wealth that we should value.
  • In this process political interference, lobbying, corruption and such aspects come into picture and this remains no sustainable growth at all.
  • He quotes the report of the IMF that the resource rich nations in the world are becoming poorer and this can be attributed to the practice of unsustainable mining that they practice and sell this innumerable wealth in a way which is a loss and not profit also the money that they make are not used in the right way even the environment like the tribal and the animals is not considered.
  • The solutions provided by the author are this way:
    • There should be proper accounting that should set moral and legal standards
    • Minerals must be treated as an inheritance which will help avoid losses, theft, wastage and illegal consumption
    • He provides several examples, one Norway where the money got from selling minerals should be saved n future generation fund which is provided to upcoming generation of people. India can adopt this in the National Pension Scheme.
    • In 2014, the Supreme court provided for Goa to setup the Goa Iron ore pension fund which would be the corpus to provide an equitable dividend to the citizens thereby promoting equality.
  • The benefits of the above are as follows:
    • Sustainable capital will be maintained
    • Savings rate would rise
    • Long term domestic capital would be available
    • We will be able to diversify the risks
    • We can improve returns
    • India can adopt this for universal basic income which will help reduce inequality, also make the tax administration more efficient
  • All in all, it will benefit the economy well
  • We have set certain principles which can be constitutional in nature also will work on moral and ethical grounds. We need to promote justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.
  • We need to limit the growth of corruption, capitalism, and illegal activities as well.
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