Current Affairs August 17

How Taliban took Kabul without fight?



  • Though the Taliban overran most of the country within days, the road to their final victory started from the agreement they signed with the U.S. in February 2020.
  • The Trump administration appointed a special envoy for Afghanistan, held direct talks with the Taliban bypassing the Afghan government and signed an exit agreement.
  • In the agreement, the U.S. could not extract any concession from the Taliban towards a political settlement in Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban did not even agree to a ceasefire
  • This provided the Taliban a sense of victory, while demoralising the Afghan troops.
  • Since the Doha agreement, the U.S. airstrikes went down drastically, in return for the Taliban stopping attacks on American forces completely
  • Ghani, a former World Bank economist who has specialised on failed states, could not build an administration that commands over at least all the anti-Taliban forces.
  • The Ghani administration was internally divided. The last two presidential elections — 2014 and 2019 — were disputed.
  • After both elections, the U.S. had to interfere, striking a deal between Mr. Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, to stitch together the unity government.
  • The Afghan government had the provincial centres under its control and set up outposts across the rural areas, which were provided supplies by air.
  • Biden withdrew not just American air support but also the intelligence agents and contractors who were serving Afghanistan’s war planes and helicopters.
  • This has, besides the psychological and political impacts of the withdrawal, debilitated the Afghan air force, the only superiority the Afghan troops had in the war.



Tribunal reform bill



  • The Supreme Court challenged the government to produce material showing its reasons for introducing the Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021, which abolishes nine appellate tribunals
  • The Bill replaced the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021.
  • The provisions in the ordinance regarding conditions of service and tenure of Tribunal Members and Chairpersons were struck down by the Supreme Court.
  • However, the provisions re-appeared in the Tribunal Reforms Bill

About Ordinance

  • The Centre has abolished several appellate tribunals and authorities and transferred their jurisdiction to other existing judicial bodies through the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021.
  • This Ordinance has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
  • The Ordinance has met with sharp criticism for not only bypassing the usual legislative process, but also for abolishing several tribunals such as the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal without any stakeholder consultation.
  • Despite the Supreme Court’s direction in Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank (2019), no judicial impact assessment was conducted prior to abolishing the tribunals through this Ordinance
  • Further, the Centre is yet to constitute a National Tribunals Commission (NTC), an independent umbrella body to supervise the functioning of tribunals,
  • Appointment of and disciplinary proceedings against members, and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the tribunals.
  • The idea of an NTC was first mooted in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997)
  • main reasons that has motivated the idea of NTC is the need for an authority to support uniform administration across all tribunals.
  • The NTC could therefore pave the way for the separation of the administrative and judicial functions carried out by various tribunals



Third party funding



  • Third party funding in arbitration, or litigation funding, is a concept where an unrelated party to a dispute finances the legal cost of one of the parties.
  • The speculative investor receives part of the damages owed or recovered by the financed party in exchange for the funding.
  • This form of funding is widely used in commercial arbitration and various litigations around the world.
  • It is believed that this form of financing improves access to justice by providing advance funding and support against a lengthy and expensive litigation process
  • The practice of third party funding must become prevalent in India. This is not only because third party funding plays an instrumental role in opening access to the court system but also helps businesses manage their litigation risks in a better manner



The big opportunity


  • According to various international studies, the median age in India would be 28 years by 2022-23, in contrast to 37 in China and 45 in western Europe.
  • This is not an ageist remark, but rather an enormous growth opportunity as India will have the highest number of people in the workforce.
  • In other words, India’s non-working population would be outnumbered by the working population, leading to a favourable demographic dividend.
  • The World Bank notes that we would be witnessing deep global recessions fuelled by lowered investments, displacement of human capital owing to lost jobs and schooling, and a disintegration of global trade and supply chains.
  • Increased use of non-degradable plastics, bio-medical waste and impediments to ongoing climate repair programmes have further exacerbated climate change deterioration.
  • The effects of an increased use of plastics during the pandemic (which would end up in oceans or landfills) would cost fisheries, tourism and maritime transport industries an additional $40 billion, according to a UN Environment Program report.
  • Hence, COVID-19 is an ongoing challenge that is further aggravating bigger concerns like economic recession and climate change.
  • The economic growth brought on by a change in the structure of a country’s population.
  • This leads to an increase in the labour force and, in turn, more people are working and being productive.
  • This accelerates urbanisation and the growth of industries.
  • Also, as the purchasing power of the populace increases, it opens up a bigger domestic market (which is already sizeable in the case of India), thus attracting more investment and increasing opportunities.
  • The younger the population the more climate-conscious they are. This can simply be explained by younger generations seeing the real-time impact of climate change — from increasing natural disasters to lessening natural resources.
  • This makes them more inclined to act towards a greener tomorrow
  • Need of the hour is for public–private partnership (PPP) models to work in conjunction to bridge the gap.
  • Education and skilling are also key components in enhancing the capabilities of the growing young population and helping them realize their full potential.
  • Moreover, labour-intensive sectors need to be better supported for further job creation.
  • The rising young population provides India with a great opportunity for growth.
  • To be able to best utilise this boom, policies must ensure that they


Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules



  • The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules notified by the Centre on August 12 acknowledge the gravity of pollution caused by plastic articles of everyday use, particularly those that have no utility beyond a few minutes or hours.
  • Under the new rules, the manufacture, sale and use of some single-use goods made with plastic, polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene, such as earbuds, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping and packing films, are prohibited from July 1 next year,
  • While others such as carry bags must be at least 75 microns thick from September 30, 2021, and 120 microns from December 31 next year, compared to 50 microns at present.
  • The decisions follow recommendations made by an expert group constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals two years ago
  • At about 34 lakh tonnes generated in 2019-20, India has a staggering annual volume of plastic waste, of which only about 60% is recycled.
  • What is more, a recent study of the top 100 global producers of polymers that culminate in plastic waste found six of them based in India.
  • The international view is changing, however, and support for a UN Plastic Treaty is growing; the majority of G7 countries too are supportive of cleaning up the oceans through a charter in the interests of human wellbeing and environmental integrity
  • Considerable amounts of plastic waste cannot be recycled because of lack of segregation, leading to incineration, while mixing newer types of compostable plastic will confound the problem.
  • Patchy regulation has led to prohibited plastic moving across State borders



The message from the IPCC report


  • Global surface temperature is now higher by 1.07oC since the pre-industrial era.
  • The impact of climate change on the atmosphere, oceans and land is unmistakably of human origin and this impact is picking up pace.
  • It is a striking fact that there is no part of the inhabited world that is now untouched by the impact of global warming.
  • Carbon dioxide is the dominant source of warming. Aerosols contribute to reducing the impact of warming by other greenhouse gases, by almost a third.
  • Methane reduction, while needed overall, is particularly significant only as part of the endgame as the drastic reduction of aerosols actually leads to an increase in warming
  • increase in carbon dioxide concentration translates into long-term surface temperature rise — is now pinned down to the range of 2.5oC to 4.0oC, with a best estimate of 3 oC, compared to the Fifth Assessment Report range of 1.5oC to 4.5oC
  • The report is clear that it is the cumulative emissions in reaching net zero that determine the temperature rise
  • “historical cumulative emissions are the cause of the climate crisis that the world faces today.”
  • “Developed countries had usurped far more than their fair share of the global carbon budget.”
  • The limitations of the remaining carbon budget for 1.5oC are so stringent — a mere 500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide for an even chance of keeping to the limit — that they cannot be met by promises of net zero 30 years from now.

Case of India

  • India has contributed less than 5% of global cumulative emissions to date, with per capita annual emissions a third of the global average.
  • India is also the only nation among the G20 with commitments under the Paris Agreement that are even 2oC warming-compatible.
  • India needs its development space urgently to cope with the future, one where global temperature increase may be closer to 2oC.
  • With India’s annual emissions at 3 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent terms, even the impossible, such as the total cessation of emissions for the next 30 years, with others’ emissions remaining the same, will buy the world less than two years of additional time for meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
  • The prospect of keeping almost a sixth of humanity in quasi-permanent deprivation for the rest of the century as a consequence cannot even be contemplated.