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Don’t Blame Migratory Birds But centre-State Legal Mechanism in India

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Authors: Partha Pratim Mitra and Prakash Sharma*

Post 2003-04 bird flu outbreak, migratory birds have become the soft target for spreading of avian influenza or contiguous diseases. The geneses of this thought emerge from the year 1996, which continuous to re-emerged thereafter on regular basis and spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, resulting in several hundred human deaths. The occurrence of avian influenza ((H5N1, H5N2, H5N8, H7N8, H7N9 etc.)has captured global attention too. There are studies that suggest, “avian influenza may be the most likely candidate for the next influenza pandemic”. At the same time, several scientific research claim that migratory birds are not always liable for spreading avian flu among local birds and domestic birds.

Robert Boardman of Dalhousie University opines “birds are also vulnerable and may spread disease, as in the effects in the early 2000s of the adenovirus on the Alaskan oldsquaw or long-tailed duck and deaths of kakapo parrots on some New Zealand islands resulting from soil bacteria”. Birds too like other species compete for resources. Nevertheless, there are factors other than migratory birdsthat can be associated for the spread, for instance the H5N1 avian flu virus in Japan, China, Indonesia and other countries in 2005–2006 had analogous connection with the environmental factors. Others factors can be the anthropogenic changes in land use and agriculture, movement of people, etc.

Talking about the global attention, perhaps the major concern emerges when avian outbreak affects several species of food producing birds, for e.g. chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc. resulting in “global public health concern”. The present article examines the current international as well as national laws governing the arena of migratory birds and their affect on food producing birds and poultry products.

Role of the World Organisation for Animal Health

The World Organisation for Animal Health, formerly the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) is an intergovernmental organization coordinating, supporting and promoting animal disease control. It is recognized as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and had a total of 182 member states. The OIE’s objectives is to promote transparency and understanding of the “global animal disease situation” to protect “public health, and to ensure the safety of world trade in animals and animal products”. “The science-based standards, guidelines and recommendations issued by the OIE are designated as the international reference in dealing with avian influenza”.

Over the years, OIE has strengthened international coordination and cooperation in the control of avian influenza through joint collaboration with other global organization, namely the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). These organizations exchange follow-up information on three priorities areas including the global zoonotic influenza situation.

India is a member country of the OIE, and abides by the International Animal Health Code (Code). The Code provides standards for the improvement of animal health and welfare and veterinary public health worldwide, including through standards for safe international trade in terrestrial animals (mammals, reptiles, birds and bees) and their products. Interestingly, the Code demands that veterinary authorities of importing and exporting countries to provide for early detection, reporting and control agents that are pathogenic to animals or humans, and to prevent their transfer via international trade in animals and animal products.

Whereas People’s Republic of China has failed to provide correct information and take necessary measures to curb the spread of deadly COVID-19 to the world. India out rightly informed that there was no risk of coronavirus spreading through migratory birds. Without going into the intent, no doubt there was lack of performance of legitimate duty on part of People’s Republic of China (and it is a matter of further revelations), however the pertinent concern is: doesn’t COVID-19 experience undermines OIE’s importance?

Impact over poultry farming in India

India’s poultry farming industry operates under the unhygienic conditions and become common victim at the time of outbreak of avian flu. Poultry is one of the fastest growing sectors in India, being world’s 5th larg­est egg producer and 18th largest producer of broilers. Economic losses due to infectious and contagious diseases of animals could be enormous besides posses serious threat to the public.

The Indian Constitution deals with protection of animals from diseases under Entry 15 (State List) relating to animal within the territory of state and Entry 29 (Concurrent List) about moving animals extending from one state to another state. Again Entry 29 (Concurrent List) is more widely applicable to ani­mals including men and plants. The same item was also under ‘Provincial Legislature List’ of the Government of India Act, 1935 under Entry 20 with wider subject. However, neither the Centre nor many State governments do have adequate law to regulate these sectors. Only two States in India have enacted statutes concerning poultry production, namely Punjab Poultry Production Act, 2016 (apart from the Punjab Livestock and Bird Diseases Act, 1948) and Gujarat Poultry Farm Registration and Regulatory Authority Act, 2007.

In the absence of any specific legislation, and Central regulation to deal with the issue of disease in poultry related birds and products, theLaw Commission of India has recommended to government of India in its 269th Report for making of rules for protection of hens and broiler chickens according to section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Besides, in Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, section 33A was inserted after the Amendment Act of 1991,which gives legal obligation to Chief Wildlife Warden to take action for immunization of cattle in or within 5 km of sanctuary. Government through notification of byelaws is required to prescribe the measures of such immunization process. But till date no regulation has been framed in this regard.

Legislative initiatives to combat with the situation

Certain earlier legislations were present to control diseases of animals and birds. Currently, two laws, the Destructive Insects and Pests Act, 1914, and the Livestock Importation Act, 1898, regulate the import and export of plants and animals with a view to control pests and diseases.  Under these laws, the authorities are required to ensure that infectious diseases and pests do not cause widespread damage to the environment, crops, agricultural produce and human beings, i.e. the agricultural biosecurity of a country. Both the laws (the Act of 1914 and the Act, 1898) has been proposed to be repealed and replaced by the Agricultural Biosecurity Bill, 2013.The Bill aimed to establish an “integrated national biosecurity system covering plant, animal and marine issues to combat threats of bio- terrorism from pests and weeds”.

Apart from this, the Insecticides Act, 1968 was passed to regulate manufacture, sale, transport, import, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to prevent risk to human beings as well as animals. The Act of 1968 constituted the ‘Central Insecticide Board’ to register insecticides after thorough examination for safety and efficacy. Further, the Customs Act, 1962 empowers the Central Government to prohibit or regulate the import or export of goods of any specified description for the purpose of, inter alia, protection of human, animal or plant life or health. The Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009was passed by Indian Parliament after repealing two old statutes the Dourine Act, 1910 and the Glanders and Farcy Act, 1899. The Act of 2009 seeks to provide prevention, control and eradication of infectious and contagious diseases affecting animals for pre­vention of outbreak or spreading of such diseases from one State to another. The Act of 2009deals with the control of scheduled diseases and a Schedule of the statute mentioned several types of infectious and contagious diseases.

Concluding remarks

The present structure of multilateral organizational control is faulty. This has been revealed harshly by the COVID-19 experience. There are gaps in the existing enforcement mechanisms, which do as much of damage to the health of birds as it does to the other living beings on earth. Of course, the spreading of infectious diseases must be prevented and strict measures should be adopted under contrasting levels of governance. However, given the intricacies involved it is perhaps suggested that nation-states must sit together and construct an international policy on conservation efforts concerning migratory birds during emergence of unscientifically drawn potential role of migratory birds in the dispersal of the viruses. To this extend, all efforts must be made towards timely dissemination of information which is crucial to containing outbreaks.

* Prakash Sharma, Assistant Professor, VSLLS, Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi.

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New Social Compact

The Death News of Sidharth Shukla: In the remembrance of Sidnaaz

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For most individuals, the death news of Sidharth Shukla seems implausible. Sidharth Shukla, popular actor, and 13 winner Bigg Boss died on Thursday 2 September suffering a severe cardiac arrest at Cooper Hospital in Mumbai.  Actor Sidharth constantly challenged the odds in his profession. For many in the TV and movie sector, it is a last-ditch and sometimes fruitless effort to stop a slide into irrelevance in the popular reality program Bigg Boss. But Shukla was the household name that became a feather reality TV sensation for himself who won the 13th show edition in 2019. For the first time, Shukla entered the television limelight, working on BalikaVadhu (2012), in which he tried the part of District Collector Shivraj Shekhar. Shukla portrayed the character throughout the space of three years and won several accolades. A few whiles later, in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), he was reputed to a costar, once again receiving acclaim. Born and reared up in Mumbai, Shukla began as a model by taking a position as a leader in the Manhunt and Mega model Gladrags contests and then starred in Bajaj and ICICI Banking television commercial campaigns. Shortly thereafter, he premiered on Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na, followed by a range of dramatic TV shows such as CID and Aahat, which include criminal dramas. In 2016 Khatron Ke Khiladi won Fear Factor as well. Shukla has also been a popular television host with such series as Savdhaan India and the Got Talent 6 of India. His death caused a shock to the television and film industries.

Police authorities in Mumbai claimed that at around 9 a.m. before death, Shukla complained about cardiac pressure in his home in Oshivara, Mumbai.  At that time, his sister, his mother, and brother-in-law were in the house. A physician who came to the house found that he was pulseless. “The family went to Dr. RN Cooper hospital and requested an ambulance. They reached about 9.45 am and before admission he had been proclaimed dead.” The Forensic department leader, Dr. R Sukhdev, verified that on Thursday morning, Shukla was brought dead. The afternoon postmortem exam was performed. No external damage on his body was detected before the autopsy by physicians and police. The Dean of Dr. RN Cooper Hospital, Dr. Sailesh Mohite, refused to comment on the autopsy findings.

Many Celebertities Condolences

“Siddharth, gone too soon. You’ll be missed…” said Actor Salman Khan, who gave him the trophy of Bigg Boss. Kapil Sharma TV comedy host tweeted, “Oh god, it is truly shocking, my condolences to the family, and prayers for the the departed soul” Several TV and film fraternity members, like Rajkummar Rao, came to Mumbai to pay their final honors in Shukla Residence. On Friday his last rites will be conducted.

Shehnaaz Gill on Sidharth Shukla death

Sources close to the actor and individuals who went to his house and told Sidharth Shukla’s family that Shehnaaz is in a condition of shock and cannot cope with his loss today. Source further stated Shehnaaz was deeply impacted by the untimely death of the Balika Vadhu actor. Shehnaaz was very near to Sidharth, and she frequently publicly demonstrated her affection for him. Her compassion and caring for him never shied away. She said she was even in love with him openly. Fans liked their duo much after BB 13, and invented their moniker with affection, Sidnaaz. In two recent programs, Back-to-Back Bigg Boss OTT and Dances Deewane 3, the reported couple had featured.

Sidharth Shukla breathed his last in Shehnaaz Gill’s arms

Sidharth was still complaining of discomfort, and Shehnaaz and his mother begged him to relax. Sidharth was unable to sleep, on the other hand; thus Shehnaaz was requested to remain with him and pat on his back. Sidharth lay on the lap of Shehnhaaz at 1:00 a.m., and the latter walked away gently. She slept, too, and when she woke up at 7am, she found Sidharth sleeping in the same position without moving, and he didn’t stir when she tried to wake him up. From the 12th story to the fifth level, where his family resided, Shehnaaz was terrified and hurried. She notified Sidharth’s sister and phoned their doctor of the family, who told Sidharth that he hadn’t been there anymore.

Ye ‘Dil’ hai Muskil

Why are young people suffering from heart attacks? The death of Siddharth Shukla, 40 years old, has stunned everyone. Initial stories indicating that a heart attack is the reason for Thursday’s death were killed, along with the big boss winner Season-13. In recent times, heart disease has been a worry for health professionals among young Indian people. The question is why in very young age groups in India there has been an increase in cardiac attack.

Concluding Remarks

The greatest way I can escape the trap of thinking that you have anything to lose is to remember that you will die. No excuse to not follow your heart. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to die. Such people don’t even want to die to go to paradise to get there. And yet death is our common destination. Nobody has ever avoided it and this is why death is perhaps the finest invention of existence. Life is the agent of transformation. The old one is clearing way for the new one.

Death is, however tragic, probably God’s most beautiful creation. Death is merely another trip; birth and life will never take place without death. It’s unavoidable to lose somebody. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, illustrates this wonders: Death is transitory and the meaning of life and death. Death is temporary. Death is a normal part of life, we have to realize. Death gives life its full significance. Let life be like summer flowers, let life be lovely and death be like fall leaves. But would it not be much easier to face our own mortality, rather than being unhappy, knowing that our life has been fully and without regret? Even if we don’t want to go to die, it’s just as unavoidable for the sun at night. In conclusion, when your time comes, you don’t have to die happy but you need to die satisfied, since from start to finish you have lived your life.

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4.1 billion lack social safety net

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More than four billion people live without any welfare protection today to cushion them from crisis, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday, while highlighting how the COVID-19 crisis has pushed up government spending by some 30 per cent.

Leading the call for countries to extend social safety nets far more widely than they do now, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder insisted that such a move would help future-proof workers and businesses in the face of new challenges.

“This is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems,” said Mr. Ryder.

“These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope. We must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.”

In a new report the UN body acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis had led to greater social protections worldwide, albeit mainly in wealthy countries.

It noted that only 47 per cent of the global population are covered by at least one social protection benefit, while only one in four children has access to national welfare safety nets.

Newborns’ needs unmet

Further research indicated that only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash benefit, while only one in three people with severe disabilities receive a disability benefit.

Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower, ILO said, with only 18.6 per cent of jobless workers effectively covered globally.

On retirement welfare, the UN body found that although nearly eight in 10 people receive some form of pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas and women and men.

Regional imbalances

The ILO report underscores the significant regional inequalities in social protection.

Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people having access to at least one benefit.

Countries in the Americas are also above the global average (64.3 per cent), in stark contrast to welfare roll-out in Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent).

Highlighting differences in government spending on social protection, ILO said that high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent of national turnover (above the 13 per cent global average, excluding health), while low-income countries budget just 1.1 per cent.

Billions more needed

The UN body noted that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have had to increase spending massively to ensure minimum social protection for all, by around 30 per cent.

And it maintained that to guarantee basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional $77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional $362.9 billion and upper-middle-income countries a further $750.8 billion annually. That’s equivalent to 15.9 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.

“There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now,” said Shahra Razavi, Director, ILO Social Protection Department.

Underscoring the multiple benefits of social welfare protection, Ms. Razavi insisted that it could promoted “better health and education, greater equality, more sustainable economic systems, better managed migration and the observance of core rights…The benefits of success will reach beyond national borders to benefit us all”.

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New Social Compact

Hell for Women?

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35-years-old woman and her daughter were raped by rickshaw driver and his accomplice in Lahore; On independence day of Pakistan, a TikToker was sexually harassed in Lahore; woman on rickshaw was harassed publically in Lahore and people were cheering; Noor Mukadam, daughter of a Diplomat, was brutally bumped off in Islamabad; a female school teacher was raped by owner of the school; a minor girl was raped by principal of seminary; a woman was gang raped by robbers in front of her family in Sheikhupura; a man with his three friends gang raped his fiancée and snatched jewelry; 16-years-old girl was raped by her stepfather in Lahore; mother of four children was raped in Bhagatpura; a 10-years-old was raped in Manwan; 17-years-old girl was raped after being promised a job; a minor girl was raped and sent to cemetery in Korangi; a woman was abducted and gang raped; an elderly woman was tortured, dragged and attempted to rape. Few cases have been quoted here. Sorrowfully, numerous other cases are remaining to be mentioned here. Unfortunately, a tiny figure of cases have been reported, still beaucoup cases are unreported.

Given obnoxious incidents give women sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Wretchedly, women in our society are deemed as prey and an open invitation by mad dogs (rapists) which they cannot evade and leave no stone unturned to assault them. The exponential rise in gender-based violence has proselytized our society into a hell for women, where they are considered as inferior segment of the society. This abysmal picture of our society adversely impacts our international image.

 The study conducted by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, despite improving in women’s perception of community safety, still ranks Pakistan fourth among the worst countries for women to live in.

In accordance with the official data- collected from law enforcement agencies and human rights commission of Pakistan- at least 11 rape cases are reported regularly in Pakistan. More, the last six years data unearthed an icky tally of 22,000 cases registered to police in Pakistan. Dolefully, the conviction rate stood at 0.3% of total figure. 

Research conducted by Geo News revealed that only 41 per cent of cases have been reported to the Police. A police official estimated the actual number could be as high as 60,000 in last five years.

Furthermore, the Cyber Wing of the FIA in Lahore told that they have received 6,168 sexual harassment complaints out of total 14,108 in less than eight months. It further explained that mostly the complaints were lodged by University and College students relating to blackmailing by peers through the use of doctored videos and photographs.

Regarding violence against women, Punjab made up to 73 per cent of total cases, Ministry of Human Rights Toll-free helpline data showed. Besides, recent data by Punjab police divulged 1,890 rape cases and 88 gang-rape cases have been registered just in first six months of this year.

The reasons behind alarming rise in rape cases, which are mostly opined and observed personally, are rivalries, perpetrators remain scot-free, and incompetency of police.

In rivalries, various women have been raped because perpetrators think that it is better mean to smirch antagonist and avenge. As of the June of this year, when a boy tied love knot with daughter of an influential person, in avenge his mother 50-years-old was kidnapped, tortured, dragged, burned half-naked body with cigarette butts and attempted to rape by that influential people in Mazaffargarh. Exclusively, in village sides, women are raped in compensation, if victim’s father, brother or guardian has raped any girl.

Besides, since 2015, more than 22,000 cases of harassment have been registered to police, more than 4000 cases are still pending in the courts and only 18 per cent cases have managed to reach prosecution. Backlog of cases, takes too much time to provide justice to women and deter others to execute same. Thereby, executors remain unpunished and rape another woman with impunity. In some cases, rapists are granted pre-arrest bails. Afterwards, they threaten victim and her family to withdraw case; which fingers out the competency and justice of honorable courts and provides free space to those rapists to continue harassing women.

Apart from this, various cases are not reported due to family or social pressure, because they have to undergo another victimization. Karachi-based organization, War Against Rape (WAR), exposed that women who report the crime are coerced to visit male-dominated police stations and asked unnecessary questions that is why people remain silent and do not register complaints to shun answering gratuitous questions, which creates obstacle in the way of justice by sparing space to rapists.

Apart, victim blaming also desists victim to register complaint. Victim’s character is questioned, she is blamed for the rape and some misogynists and advocates of patriarchal society put allegations on victim giving illogical reasons. In consequence, victim find it easy to be silent rather than being pilloried countrywide and does not register her complaint, which indirectly paves the way for rapists to feel free from being brought to book and harass women whenever and wherever they want.

To counter this evil, Punjab Police has launched a safety App that will enable women to contact police through a message and it will enable Police to trace location of complainants through smart phones. Senior Police official assured that App will be launched in all districts of Punjab soon and a special squad will be formed soon in this regard. This initiative is praiseworthy and can be fruitful, if cooperated. All women should download this App so that in any emergency they can contact Police easily.

Additionally, separate courts for rape cases should be operational as soon as possible in order to evade years of pending cases. More medico-legal officers should be appointed to speed up medical process. Police should enforce all anti-harassment, anti-rape and anti-crimes against women laws and all women should be acquainted to these laws so that they can report crimes easily and immediately.

To sum up, society will remain hell for women, until our society is patriarchal and culprits remain scot-free. No society can be stable and prosperous, if women of that society are not secure and honored by every individual. If mentioned laws are implemented effectively, women of our society can live respectfully and society can be a heaven for them.

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