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Syllabus GS II Separation of Powers

Syllabus GS II Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions. 

Enumerate the basic differences between referendum and plebiscite .

It is quite common to hear the words plebiscite or referendum when the political situation of a country gets unstable and is approaching an unacceptable stage.

  1. A referendum is the phrasing which describes what the vote is about.
  2. A plebiscite is actually the vote itself, that is, the election for the referendum.
  3. Referendum is the voting process which is staged if there is a demand from a prescribed number of citizens, for example by petition signing.
  4. Plebiscite, however, is in many cases used for those votes that were held in genuinely undemocratic conditions and in many countries gives a bad impression about the democracy situation of a country.
  5. A referendum is a provision that permits the voters to either accept or reject a policy question or a public policy measure at a formal election.
  6. A plebiscite is the vote by the people for a question given to them. This is more or less similar to a referendum but the term plebiscite has been recently used more commonly in context with a change in sovereignty.
  7. A major difference between the two forms of voting on a particular issue is the initiation. Referendums are termed initiatives for a reason. Whereas the initiation of a referendum may not always involve those in power, as has been the case in citizen initiated referendums in the past, a plebiscite can only be initiated by the representative authorities. The citizens do not have the power to initiate a plebiscite.
  8. Referendums cannot always be used to give further decision making power to the authorities. Plebiscites, however, are sometimes used for the sole purpose of legitimising a particular government decision by the people who would otherwise oppose it.

A plebiscite and Referendum are both commonly used terms in the subject of law. Both these aim at bringing betterment for a state and bringing in a change in people’s lives. Even though both the plebiscite and the Referendum emerge from the same roots, they do have their differences between them.

~Source The Hindu

Syllabus GS III Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

2. Discuss the significance of the Environmental Performance Index and also explain the reasons for India’s opposition to the index.

The EPI, a biennial index, was started in 2002 as Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Centre for International Earth Science Information Network.

Significance of EPI:

  • EPI indicators provide a way to spot problems, set targets, track trends, understand outcomes, and identify best policy practices.
  • Good data and fact-based analysis can also help government officials refine their policy agendas, facilitate communications with key stakeholders, and maximise the return on environmental investments.
  • The EPI offers a powerful policy tool in support of efforts to meet the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to move society toward a sustainable future.
  • Overall EPI rankings indicate which countries are best addressing the environmental challenges that every nation faces.
  • Going beyond the aggregate scores and drilling down into the data to analyse performance by issue category, policy objective, peer group, and country offers even greater value for policymakers.
  • This granular view and comparative perspective can assist in understanding the determinants of environmental progress and in refining policy choices.

Reasons behind the India’s opposition:

  • The Environment Ministry has opposed the use of a new indicator in the climate policy objective is ‘projected GHG emissions levels in 2050’.
  • This is computed based on the average rate of change in emission of the last 10 years instead of modelling that takes into account a longer period, the extent of renewable energy capacity and use, additional carbon sinks, energy efficiency, etc. of respective countries.
  • Forests and wetlands of the country are crucial carbon sinks but have not been factored in while computing the projected GHG emissions trajectory up to 2050 given by EPI 2022.
  • Historical data on the lowest emission trajectory has been ignored in the computation.
  • The index computes the extent of ecosystems but not their condition or productivity. It did not include indicators like agro biodiversity, soil health, food loss, and waste even though they are important for developing countries with large agrarian populations.
  • The weight of the indicators in which India performed well has been reduced and the reasons for such change have not been explained in the report.

Way forward:

  1. Good policy results are associated with wealth (GDP per capita), meaning that economic prosperity makes it possible for nations to invest in policies and programs that lead to desirable outcomes.
  2. The pursuit of economic prosperity – manifested in industrialization and urbanisation  often means more pollution and other strains on ecosystem vitality, especially in the developing world, where air and water emissions remain significant.
  3. High scorers exhibit long-standing policies and programs to protect public health, preserve natural resources, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

~Source The Hindu