The Supreme Court has struck a blow for personal liberty, granting interim bail to television anchor Arnab Goswami through an order that one wished was also passed in the case of many others incarcerated without sufficient cause, and with the same priority, consideration and speed.
The accusation that Mr. Goswami and two others abetted the suicide of an interior designer by denying him payments due to him was indeed something that could have been investigated and prosecuted, if evidence was found, without arresting them.
Mr. Goswami rushed to the Bombay High Court even before the Sessions Court could hear the matter.
The High Court cannot be faulted for rejecting his bail request, as he had an effective alternative remedy in the form of a regular bail petition before the lower court.
It is quite common for superior courts to ask remand petitioners to exhaust their remedy before lower courts first.
Even those arrests in which political vendetta or misuse of power is quite demonstrable, the Supreme Court has granted bail only after courts below had dismissed them on merits.
Further, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s observation, “If we don’t interfere in this case today, we will walk on a path of destruction,” seems out of place in a case that clearly does not relate to Mr. Goswami’s journalistic work.
Surely, a scrutiny of why such consideration or sympathy has not been shown for others held mainly for their political beliefs or journalistic work is warranted.
One hopes the detailed judgment would shed light on the circumstances in which the Supreme Court can override regular bail hearings in lower courts; and on whether it is expected that magistrates and sessions judges should also grant same-day interim bail in appropriate cases.
The Court’s recent record of evading and postponing hearing on many matters concerning fundamental rights and constitutional questions that affect the rights of large sections of society is a veritable story of judicial abdication.
Media regulation that is quite over the top
The government’s move bringing online news and current affairs portals along with “films and audio-visual programmes made available by online content providers” under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is as brazen as it is wily.
It is clubbing the only sector of the media which has pre-censorship, namely films (through the Central Board of Film Certification), with the news media which has so far, at least officially, not been subject to pre-censorship, although media practitioners know the grave post-publication consequences of airing news or views critical or adversarial to the government of the day.
In fact the excuse given by the government for this annexation of the digital media by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is that the self-regulation proposals given by the sector were not satisfactory.
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are a fundamental right and a basic feature of the Constitution that no executive or legislature can tamper with or nullify.
It seeks to divide and rule the press by creating an artificial distinction between the new-age digital media (the stand-alone news portals which are already struggling to stay afloat) — which is the media of the future, the media of the millennial generation — and the older print and TV news media.
The explanation that the print media have the oversight of the Press Council of India and the TV media of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), and therefore the digital media needed a regulatory framework — no less than that of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting — is both lame and laughable.
More legislation and government control of these dynamic new media sectors at a time when we need less regulation.
Registration of digital businesses and control over online content and free speech are both problematic.
While the first is near impossible to implement given the many differing contours of digital content, and also puts Indian firms at a disadvantage to foreign entities, the second would be tantamount to censorship.
If that happens it would be a backward step in a democracy already slipping on media freedoms, with journalists being arrested for alleged sedition, while large numbers of websites are blocked and internet shutdowns imposed year after year.
The I&B minister had, in fact, pointed out then that the PM saw media in India as one of the very important pillars of democracy, rightly adding that “in Indian media, self-regulation is done in various layers – first by a journalist and then by editors … the government believes in self-regulation by the media.”
Digital India still has a window to successfully compete with the best in the world.
Government control and censorship of online content could stifle this particular Make in India dream.
Guardians of the environment | Telegraph
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has observed that supporting pastoralist systems would contribute directly to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals
Elimination of poverty
Achieving zero hunger
Promoting good health and well-being
Aiding economic growth
Ensuring responsible consumption and production
Bolstering climate action and the biodiversity of life on land
In 2019, the government of Mongolia proposed to observe the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists in 2026.
The international community is of the opinion that awareness of the importance of rangelands and pastoralists to livelihoods, healthy ecosystems and the adoption of climate change resilience strategies could be heightened by such an event.
Pastoralism has been the most sustainable form of production, livelihood, and land use in most of the world’s arid and semi-arid areas.
Pastoralism, it is believed, is practised in more than 75% of the world’s nations by around 500 million people.
Pastoralists contribute massively to the preservation of biodiversity, improving soil quality and preventing desertification.
Recent research has also shown that pastoral landscapes could have a neutral carbon balance as emissions from animals are offset by carbon sequestration in soils and plants.
The fodder insecurity is a critical challenge that threatens the well-being of their animals and disrupts the ecological balance.
In India, pastoralists are estimated to number 13 million, forming 1 per cent of the total population.
There are some 46 castes or communities that have specialized pastoralist identities.
The pastoralists chiefly rear cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, yak, ducks, guinea fowl, pigs, horses, and donkeys.
For centuries, pastoralists’ knowledge of the management of natural resources has involved the adoption of practices that effectively conserve the diversity of vegetation, livestock species, vegetation cover, soil quality and water recycling.
They have adopted selective breeding strategies so that indigenous livestock species can adapt to local climatic conditions and possess resistance to diseases, drought, and parasites.
In India, pastoralists have been estimated to own 395.3 million livestock.
The value of manure from their livestock as a source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is said to be a massive $45 billion a year.
If it were not for their livestock recycling nutrients and clearing weeds from fields during the non-farming season, then India would have been forced to rely on synthetic fertilizers.
The ecological and economical costs of these fertilizers would have been perilously high.
Government data since 2012 suggest that the pastoralist sector produced milk worth $2.7 billion and meat worth $2.2 billion annually in the formal sector alone.
Nomadic livestock is a major supplier of organic meat and milk.
This is because the rangelands remain the primary source of nutrition and pastoralists choose not to add minerals, vitamins, pro-vitamins or genetically modified supplements to their animal feed.
In the arid and the semi-arid regions with frequent droughts, these healthy animal-source foods have ensured food security to pastoral communities.
The IYRP could put the concerns of pastoralists back on the policy agenda of the nation and the world.
Climate change makes it even more important to acknowledge and encourage the environmental services of pastoralists.
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