Upholding the right of an accused to information and putting a check on the authority of the police to deprive a person of his liberty, the Supreme Court recently ordered States and Union Territories to upload, on police or government websites, First Information Reports (FIRs) within 24 hours of their registration in police stations.
A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan directed the implementation of this step to usher in transparency in police work. It said an accused had every right to know what he was accused of. “Where liberty of a person is at stake and the criminal law is set in motion, the accused should have all the information,” the Bench observed.
It said access to the FIR would help the accused prepare his defence and “seek redressal of his grievances.”
The court order came on a writ petition by the Youth Bar Association of India earlier this year seeking such a direction to the Union government, States and UTs.
The Bench however exempted from publication FIRs in certain cases. These include cases of insurgency, child abuse, sexual offences and terrorism. The FIRs registered in these categories would continue to be away from the public eye owing to issues of privacy and national interest. The court agreed to a submission by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, that the list of such sensitive cases should be illustrative and not exhaustive.
The decision to not post the FIRs in such cases would be taken by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police or the District Magistrate, either of whom would have to communicate the decision to the jurisdictional magistrate.
In case of complaint against such non-publication of FIRs, the Superintendent of Police in rural areas and Police Commissioner in metros, will form a committee of three officers, which will decide on the complaint in three weeks.
In areas where Internet access is limited, the Bench extended the deadline for publishing the FIR on websites to 48 hours, which can still further be stretched to a maximum of 72 hours. Accused persons cannot take advantage of delay in uploading of FIRs and seek anticipatory bail on that ground, the court specified.
The Delhi HC in its judgment on December 6, 2010, had upheld the right of the accused to get copies of FIRs even before the local Magistrate ordered the police to do so under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
ACs – Environmental Criminals ?
The now increasingly ubiquitous air-conditioner (AC) in our houses would easily make it to the list of the top environmental criminals.
Just consider these facts. In Delhi, a mere 1°C drop in temperature leads to a 400 MW drop in demand for electricity.
This is because ACs account for some 30 per cent of Delhi’s electricity demand and over 60 per cent of its peak demand, according to the data of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
In fact, the peak demand hour for electricity is changing. Now instead of evening—traditionally this is when people reach home and switch on lights—it is late afternoon. This is when the household and commercial electricity-usage hour is coinciding.
So it is ACs that determine electricity demand and will determine energy efficiency and security.
So how efficient are the ACs sold in India?
More importantly, if they are rated to be energy-efficient do they perform as efficiently?
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) decided to find out by getting branded ACs rated five-star by BEE tested for performance. The tests reveal that there was a dip of 2.5 per cent in energy efficiency for every degree rise in temperature. In this way, a five-star AC performed worse than a one-star AC when temperature was 45°C.
Why does this happen?
Quite simply because we have adopted test standards that do not suit our temperatures. The International Organization for Standardization has three different standards for testing the performance of ACs: mild, cold and hot weather conditions.
India’s ISI standard has been derived from this, but by adopting mild weather conditions. This means ACs are rated for energy efficiency based on their performance in 35°C ambient temperature and 27°C inside.
The same machine is also tested under maximum (46°C) conditions, but this is not to determine its energy efficiency. In this way, when you buy your AC, remember BEE/BIS, which sets the standard, has only certified that it will work with certain efficiency when the temperature outside is 35°C.
This is when the National Building Code (NBC) data shows that out of the 60 cities surveyed, 41 cities, including Delhi, had temperatures over 35°C for 175 hours in a year—these are hours that determine peak loads.
This is bound to increase, with heat islands growing in cities because of concrete and micro-climatic changes. Clearly, the testing method needs to be changed.
But this is not all that determines the energy efficiency of ACs. In 2006, BEE started its energy standards and labelling programme.
In 2010, energy-efficiency standards for ACs, set in terms of the energy-efficiency ratio, were made mandatory and the last revision was in 2014. What is shocking is that Indian AC standards remain way below global benchmarks.
The specious argument is that we are a poor country, and so, I assume, we should continue to be swamped with outdated technologies by Indian and multinational companies. Last heard BEE was “revising” these standards upwards but the revision is delayed. So the AC energy-efficiency standard, which was to expire in 2016, is now notified by BEE to continue till 2018.
Worse, when BEE “certifies” that an AC is star-rated, it does this based on the manufacturer’s self or third party efficiency report. Amazing trust! Amazing regulations!
This is not all in the AC story. The usage of these machines has to do with us and our idea of comfort. According to NBC, thermal comfort lies in the temperature zone between 25°C and 30°C, with optimal conditions at 27.5°C.
What is never told is what will happen to the energy efficiency of our machines and their operating cost if we crank down temperatures.
CSE’s study found that running ACs at low temperatures of 20°C has huge energy penalties—2 per cent drop in the energy efficiency ratio for every degree temperature lowered below the 27.5°C optimal comfort level. In this way, the performance of a five-star AC becomes equal to that of a two- or three-star AC when we run it at 20°C, normal for most of us.
This is also because comfort is determined, not just by what we set AC temperature at, but also by the amount of ventilation we have and, of course, the clothes we wear. If you work your air-conditioner with a conventional room fan your comfort goes up, simply because there is more breeze, hence more thermal comfort.
But who designs modern buildings with ventilation? This is the age of sealed and centrally air-conditioned buildings. Fans are considered not-so-cool. In lifestyles we have been sold as modern, it is the wow factor that works and we over-cool our spaces and then wear climate-inappropriate clothes—suits and ties in summers.
If we are really cool then let’s get AC maths and our clothes right. That is the real energy game-changer.
Maharashtra gives reserved forests status to mangroves
Maharashtra has notified 15,087.6 hectares of mangroves across the state as reserved forest, becoming the first state in the country to do so. The notification, however, comes over a decade after Bombay High Court asked the state government to declare mangroves as forests in 2005.
As per a Forest Survey of India report of 2013, mangroves constitute around 462,800 hectares or 0.14 per cent of India’s land area, with Sundarbans in West Bengal accounting for almost half of it. As per the report, six of Maharashtra’s districts have mangrove cover: Mumbai city, Mumbai suburbs, Raigarh, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Thane. Raigarh has the largest mangrove cover at 6,200 hectares.
Mangroves are a salt-tolerant plant community found in tropical and sub-tropical regions that receive high rainfall. Increasing industrial activity in coastal areas are negatively affecting mangrove forests, making their conservation essential, said a Forest Survey of India report.
Google Think-tank and Counter ISIS’s Online Propaganda
Few months ago , a noted scholar , observed that , that propaganda can not be stopped, instead what is needed is not to stop the propaganda which is technically impossible , but the bast way forward to stop terrorist recruitment propaganda is to do counter propaganda.It is best to beat them in their own game technically than to play hide and seek under the veil of law.
Although tech firms have been labouring for years to counter ISIS’ digital propaganda machine, the latter has set a new standard for aggressive online recruitment. Twitter has suspended several accounts only to see them arise again while other services like YouTube and Facebook have fought an endless war of content removal to keep the group’s videos offline. Entering this scenario to help is Jigsaw, the Google-owned tech incubator and think tank, recently known as Google Ideas.
Jigsaw has been working over the past year to advance a new program which will use a blend of Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube’s video platform to target aspiring ISIS recruits in order to deter them from joining the group.
The program, termed the Redirect Method and about to be launched in a new phase this month, places advertising alongside results for any keywords and phrases that Jigsaw has determined people attracted to ISIS commonly search for.However to persuade the people already drawn into ISIS, instead of creating anti-ISIS messages Jigsaw curates them from YouTube.
In the previous two months, more than 300,000 people were drawn to the anti-ISIS YouTube channels. The viewers spent more than twice as long watching the most effective playlists than the best estimates of how long people view YouTube as a whole.
Jigsaw picked more than 1,700 keywords that activated ads leading to the anti-ISIS playlists. The selected terms are believed to be the ones searched by the most committed ISIS recruits including phrases like “jihad in Syria” along with names of extremist leaders who had preached ISIS recruitment. The ads, however, took a light-touch approach, with phrases like “Is ISIS Legitimate?” or “Want to Join ISIS?” rather than obvious anti-ISIS messages.
Redirect Method, is not meant to track potential ISIS recruits for arrest, the main intention being education. Jigsaw in that sense is fighting the battle of countering the jihadi indoctrination to prevent the rise of recruits in ISIS
A heart-shaped grassland in the heart of India
The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites, put into orbit since 1988 by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), have been used extensively in monitoring and management of natural resources.
IRS satellite images, at times, bring out captivating appearance of landforms reiterating the beauty of our country. One such image is of LISS-4 picture that reflects a ‘heart’ shaped landscape amidst the swaying grasslands of Kanha National park in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh.
Kanha National Park became a Tiger Reserve in 1974 and consists of open grasslands which sprung up in fields of abandoned villages. The area has many species of grass, some of which are important for the survival of Barahsingha(Stag).
Kanha is home to more than one thousand species of flowering plants, which, one should ideally have the pleasure of seeing in real between November to June when the National Park welcomes its human visitors.
Grassland are known by myriad names across the world – prairies (US Mideast), pampas (South America), steppes (Central Eurasia), savannas (Africa) and so on.
A land where grass is the most dominant vegetation is a designated area that transitions between the forests and the desert; primarily a land, which receives neither too much nor too little rainfall. Open and fairly flat, grasslands are of two types: tropical and temperate. Tropical grasslands are warm all year round but the temperate ones are more dry and windy.
In India grasslands are found at various altitudes and in many geographical regions under disparate climatic conditions. Each of these grasslands has their own distinct characteristics. The most widespread are Imperata grasslands. The majority of the grass species found in India belong to Andropogoneae (30 per cent), Paniceae (15 per cent), and Eragrosteae (9 per cent) sub-groups. Home to some of the most endangered and endemic species including antelopes, tigers, bears, Indian leopard and bustard, India’s grasslands also abound in a large variety of bamboo.