Skip to main content

A gathering crisis in Poland (thehindu)

The European Union on Wednesday gave Warsaw a dressing down over concerns about the erosion of the rule of law in Poland. And with good reason. The conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, which runs the government, has repeatedly tinkered with and undermined the institutions of democracy in the country, progressively tightening its grip over them. The EU’s patience is running out, and it could eventually strip Poland of voting rights in the European Council, an unprecedented action. This is a reflection of grave concerns over the developments in Poland, especially the actions the PiS has taken since it came to power in October 2015 to control the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland’s highest court. In July, the EU made recommendations aimed at protecting the independence of the judiciary. These have been largely ignored. Examples of PiS action that have impacted judicial functioning include publishing judgments selectively (without which they do not have legal standing) and passing legislation to temporarily appoint the head of the Constitutional Tribunal. On Monday, Andrzej Rzeplinski, the outgoing president of the court, alleged that the government was out to destroy the tribunal. While concerns are focussed around judicial independence, they are by no means limited to this.

Among the government’s moves are the replacement of heads of public bodies with its loyalists, a ban on abortions (which was rolled back following widespread protests), a campaign to control NGOs, and curbs on media freedom. About 100 journalists from state media organisations have been fired, and the government, until Tuesday, was proposing to ban most journalists from entering the lower house of Parliament in 2017. This resulted in an opposition sit-in in the main hall of Parliament, while thousands protested outside, preventing the passage of the 2017 Budget. This led to the government passing the Budget in an anteroom, a move that has, understandably, not gone down well with the opposition. The EU has given Poland two months for a course correction. PiS was elected on a populist platform a little over a year ago, ousting the centre-right Civic Platform (PO). The party was aided by the relatively benign economic conditions when it came to power, but the economy is slowing down even as chaos and unrest continue. The government, thus far unmoved by the interests of civil society and democracy, may be forced to tread a bit more carefully.


Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…