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  • 14 Sep 2019
  • 16 min read
Biodiversity & Environment

UN Convention to Combat Desertification: COP 14

The 14th edition of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) ended on 13th September 2019.

  • Held in Greater Noida, this was the first time that India hosted an edition of the UNCCD COP.
  • The theme of the Conference was ‘Restore land, Sustain future’.
  • India being the global host for COP 14 has taken over the COP Presidency from China for the next two years till 2021.
  • India is among the select few countries to have hosted the COP of all three Rio conventions on climate change, biodiversity and land.

Key Takeaways

  • Delhi Declaration: Commitment for a range of issues, including gender and health, ecosystem restoration, taking action on climate change, private sector engagement, Peace Forest Initiative and recovery of five million hectares of degraded land in India.
    • The country parties have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030, a national target for action.
    • Peace Forest Initiative: It is an initiative of South Korea to use ecological restoration as a peace-building process. It aims at addressing the issue of land degradation in conflict-torn border areas and would go a long way in alleviating tensions and building trust between communities living there and between enemy countries in particular.
  • Drought Toolbox: It is launched as a one-stop-shop for all actions on drought. It is a sort of knowledge bank which contains tools that strengthen the ability of countries to anticipate and prepare for drought effectively and mitigate their impacts as well as tools that enable communities to anticipate and find the land management tools that help them to build resilience to drought.
  • International coalition for action on Sand and Dust storms (SDS): The coalition will develop an SDS source base map with the goal of improving monitoring and response to these storms. SDS affects approximately 77% of UNCCD country Parties or approximately 151 countries.
  • Initiative of Sustainability, Stability and Security (3S): Launched by 14 African countries to address migration driven by land degradation. It aims at restoring land and creating green jobs for migrants and vulnerable groups.
  • Cooperation From Youth: The global Youth Caucus on Desertification and Land convened its first official gathering in conjunction with the UNCCD COP14 to bring together youth advocates from different parts of the world, to build their capacity, share knowledge, build networks and to engage them meaningfully in the UNCCD processes.

High-Level Segment Meeting of the COP14

  • The Prime Minister of India inaugurated and addressed the high-level segment meeting of the COP-14.
    • India seeks to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.
    • India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty-one million hectares to twenty-six million hectares between now and 2030.
    • India has proposed to set up a global technical support institute for the member countries of the UNCCD for their capacity building and support regarding the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program.
    • India called upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a global water action agenda which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality strategy.
    • India advocated on the need to eradicate the menace of single-use plastic.

Source: PIB


National Conference on ‘Criminal Activities and Radicalization in Jails’

Recently, a National Conference on ‘Criminal Activities and Radicalization in Jails: Vulnerability of Inmates and Jail Staff and their Protection’ was held in New Delhi.

  • The two-day conference was organized by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).
  • The conference will focus on the following issues:
    • To consider vulnerabilities at individual and gang levels and to suggest safety measures for the same.
    • To understand various facets of radicalization as well as de-radicalization in prisons.
    • To analyze and formulate the security and protection standards for prison staff.
    • To provide an interdisciplinary platform for correctional personnel to exchange and share their experience on prison reforms.
  • The conference enforced an aspect of “Correctional Administration” in Prison reforms.

Correctional Administration

  • A program that prepares individuals to plan and manage institutional facilities and programs for housing and rehabilitating prisoners in the public and/or private sectors.
  • Correctional Administration includes:
    • Programme of the welfare of convicts/undertrials
    • Rehabilitation after release.
    • Involvement of Community.
  • It also emphasized to convert the prison as a centre of reformation.
  • Challenges addressed during the conference include:
    • Aggravation of sufferings during the process of imprisonment.
    • Rehabilitating and streamlining convicts back into society,
    • Overcrowding in prisons,
    • A large number of under-trials,
    • Inadequate prison infrastructure,
    • Criminal activities and radicalization in jails,
    • Safety of women prisoners and their young children,
    • Shortage of funds and staff for proper prison administration.

Rights of Prisoners

  • Article 21 of Indian Constitution enforces “Right to Life” as a Fundamental Right.
  • The Imprisonment itself is a punishment for a convicted person thus prison conditions should not be an additional punishment.
  • Imprisonment deprives someone of their liberty and impacts on certain other rights, such as freedom of movement, but human rights and fundamental freedoms of convicts shall not be restricted.

Prison Administration in India

  • Article 39(A) of Indian Constitution states that State shall ensure Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid for poor.
  • Prisons being a State subject, its modernisation is undertaken by respective State Governments.
  • In a number of judgements on various aspects of prison administration, the Supreme Court of India has laid down three broad principles:
    • A person in prison does not become a non-person.
    • A person in prison is entitled to all human rights within the limitations of imprisonment.
    • There is no justification in aggravating the suffering already inherent in the process of incarceration.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is supporting the States/UTs in implementing the E-Prisons Project and has issued the Model Prison Manual.
    • E-Prisons Project.
      • It aims to introduce efficiency in prison management through digitization.
      • It supplements the Prisoner Information Management system (PIMS), which provides a centralized approach for recording and managing prisoner information.
    • Model Prison Manual
      • It mentions Legal Aid, provides detailed information about the legal services available to prison inmates and also free legal services available to them.
      • It is intended to provide assistance to under trial prison inmates.
  • The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) had also launched a web application to facilitate the under trial prisoners for providing them with free legal services.

Source: PIB


Jan Soochna Portal

The State Government of Rajasthan has recently launched the first-ever public information portal named “Jan Soochna Portal-2019”.

  • The portal aims to provide information to the public about government authorities and departments empowering them with access to useful information.
  • The portal was developed by the government officials in close collaboration with the IT professionals and civil society groups.
  • It initially gives information of about 13 government departments on a single platform.
  • Information related to the availability of food grains & ration shops, implementation of schemes and their beneficiaries, land records and social security pensions, inter alia, will be available on a real-time basis on this platform.
  • Information kiosks in village panchayats and self-service e-Mitra centres in the towns will be established to enable the people to access the information.
  • The Department of Information Technology will serve as the nodal department for the development, operationalization, and maintenance of the JSP.
    • The norms and standards are laid down through the digital dialogue by the advisory group. And, to ensure that the responsibilities are carried out smoothly, the advisory group will be the monitoring agency.
    • Grievance redressal officers will be appointed so that citizens can keep a check upon the accountability aspect of the State government.
  • The launch of this portal is in accordance with the true spirit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and ensures compliance with Section 4(2) of the RTI Act that mandates the public authorities to proactively disclose information in the public domain.

Right to Information (RTI) Act

  • RTI Act was enacted in 2005 with the aim to secure the citizens' access to information which is under the control of public authorities.
  • The primary purpose behind this enactment was to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  • Section 4 of the RTI Act requires suo-moto disclosure of information by each public authority.
  • In 2018, an amendment was proposed to the RTI Act that aimed at giving the Central government the power to fix the tenure and salaries of state and central information commissioners, which are statutorily protected under the RTI Act.
    • The proposed move may dilute the autonomy and independence of Information Commissioners.


  • Jan Soochna Portal (JSP) is a remarkable achievement in advancing the Right to Information (RTI).
    • Now, the people would not need to file applications separately under the law to obtain information. They could freely access the information publicly
  • JSP is unique for it ensures both- transparency accompanied by accountability.


  • The digital divide is a serious problem in India. To bridge this gap, utmost care must be taken to ensure that access points are open and free for all.
  • There are huge challenges with regard to the maintenance issues and ensuring that there is no abatement in the availability of information.

Way Forward

  • The need is to host the JSP in decentralized locations, right down to the municipal ward and panchayat levels. This will ensure that people have access to welfare schemes, revenue activities such as mining, and other service delivery issues such as health and education.
  • The portal would eventually turn out to be an effective medium for the digital dialogue with the people as well as a strong instrument for ensuring transparency in governance.
  • The need of the hour is that other State governments must follow the Rajasthan government’s pioneering initiative and make people, including the marginalized sections, a part of the governance process.

Source: TH

Important Facts For Prelims

Maritime Communication Services

Recently the Government of India has launched Maritime Communication Services.

  • Maritime Connectivity will enable high-end support, access to Voice, Data and Video services while travelling on sailing vessels, cruise liners, ships in India, using satellite technology.
  • Nelco is the first Indian company that will provide broadband services through global partnerships, infrastructure including transponder capacity on the satellite of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization).
  • Maritime Communication Services will help:
    • To enhance the operational efficiency of Energy, Cargo and Cruise vessels
    • To improve crew welfare as well as to enable customer services.
  • Ministry of Communications has also notified the Flight and Maritime Connectivity (FMC) Rules, 2018 permitting Inflight and Maritime Telecom Connectivity (IFMC).
    • It intends to open the airspace and territorial waters for telecommunication services for the general public.
    • It also envisages the creation of satellite gateway within India for providing telecom services in aircraft and ships through Indian licensed service providers.
    • Only the authorized IFMC service provider, can provide wireless voice or data or both types of services on ships within Indian territorial waters and on aircraft within or above India or Indian territorial waters.

Important Facts For Prelims


The INTERPOL has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi's brother Nehal in connection with the multi-billion dollar Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.

  • INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.
    • The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an intergovernmental organization that helps coordinate the police force of 194 member countries.
    • Each of the member countries hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB). This connects their national law enforcement with other countries and with the General Secretariat.
    • The General Secretariat provides a range of expertise and services to the member countries.
    • It is headquartered in Lyon, France
  • Notices can also be used by the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for committing crimes within their jurisdiction, notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Source: ToI

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