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Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Divided we fall

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The Hindu Editorial: Divided we fall

Title: Divided we fall 

(The debate on the Finance Commission’s terms of reference needs reshaping) 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks vested interests are behind the “baseless” allegation that the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission are biased against certain States or a region. 

The southern States are concerned that the Commission is switching from the 1971 Census to the 2011 Census. This means States that have done relatively better to control population growth could see their allocations, as a fraction of the total resources, reduced. 

However, speaking in Chennai Mr. Modi said a State like Tamil Nadu would actually benefit from the Commission’s mandate as the Centre has mooted incentives for those who have done well on population control. 

One will have to wait till October 2019, when the Finance Commission’s final recommendations come in, to assess the actual impact on States’ cash flows, but framing the issue as a southern vs northern States debate is not constructive. 

The 14th Finance Commission had also given a 10% weightage for the 2011 Census in its calculations and there was no discernible impact on allocations to the more populous States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 

Also, there are other States whose share of India’s total population has declined between 1971 and 2011, including West Bengal, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Finally, it is misleading for State governments to assume that all positive changes in demographics are a result of their own actions or policies — there are a variety of factors at play when individuals make decisions about procreation. 

For the Commission, it is more critical to ensure that resources reach those who need them the most and that the genuinely needy are not deprived, wherever they may be. 

Final Words:- 

States may spend their energies better by seeking more clarity on the Commission’s other terms of reference, especially the incentives proposed for shunning populism and the move to give the Centre a larger share of the resources to build the New India it envisions by 2022. 

Title: Preventing accidents 

(Fixing road design and enforcing safety protocols should be priorities) 

Bald data on Indians killed or injured in road accidents put out annually by the Centre obscure the human impact of the carnage on national and State highways, as well as urban and rural roads. 

If the deaths this week of at least 23 children and many others in a school bus crash in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, or of the 18 labourers in a lorry accident in Maharashtra, or of nine people in a truck mishap in Uttar Pradesh are mere blips on the radar of administrators. 

Bringing sanity to the roads of a fast-motorising country seems to be nobody’s responsibility. 

The response of the Centre and the States has been far from responsible. Take the issue of safety black spots on roads that were identified on the basis of fatal accidents between 2011 and 2014. 

The Union Road Transport Ministry stated in March this year that only 189 out of 789 such spots had been rectified, while funds had been sanctioned for another 256, and the rest were either under State jurisdiction or awaiting sanction. 

Incremental approaches such as this result in the shameful national record of about 150,000 dead and several hundred thousand injured annually. 

The apex court has directed that the performance of district committees should be reviewed periodically. 

This should ideally follow mandatory public hearings every month for citizens to record road risk complaints. Forming the much-delayed National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board, with a provision for State governments to participate, has to be a top priority. 

Without expert help, executive agencies such as the Police and Public Works Departments are unable to conduct a technical investigation into an accident. Only a scientific system can stop the routine criminalising of all accidents. 

The present investigative machinery does not have the capability to determine faults, enabling officials responsible for bad road design and construction and lax traffic managers to escape liability. For accident victims, there is also the heavy burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on medical treatment. 

Final Words:- 

Ultimately, road safety depends on enforcement of rules with zero tolerance to violations, and making officials accountable for safety. 

Vocabulary words: 

Vest (verb) = Confer or bestow someone (निहित) 

Clamour (noun) = A loud or confused noise (कोलाहल) 

Moot (verb) = Raise(a question) for discussion (विचार करना) 

Wade (verb) = Intervene in something forcefully 

Discernible (adj) = Able to be discerned, noticeable (प्रत्यक्ष) 

Shun (verb) = Avoid, ignore (त्यागना) 

Pander (verb) = Gratify, encourage (बढ़ावा देना) 

Obscure (adj) = Unclear, uncertain (अस्पष्ट) 

Carnage (noun) = The killing of a large number of people (नरसंहार) 

Inure (verb) = Accustom to something (त्रस्त) 

Ghastly (adj) = Extremely unwell, terrible (भयानक) 

Lapses (noun) = Faults, mistakes (खामियों) 

Lax (adj) = Not sufficiently strict 

Requisite (adj) = Necessary, required (अपेक्षित) 

Hereafter (adv) = Henceforth, from now on (इसके पश्चात) 

Solicitor (noun) = Legal practitioner, lawyer (वकील) 

Refugee (noun) = Displaced person (शरणार्थी) 

Leniency (noun) = Mercy, forgiveness (उदारता) 

Distil (verb) = Extract the essential meaning of (अनिवार्य अर्थ निकालना) 

Dictum (noun) = Saying, proverb (वाक्य) 

Prerogative (noun) = Entitlement, right (विशेषाधिकार) 

Dire (adj) = Extremely serious or urgent (भयानक)

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