The article originally appeared on India Today.

Pakistans federal cabinet has decided to observe Friday as Kashmir Solidarity Day against the killing of 13 militants on April 1. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir today.

Continuing the anti-India Pakistani propaganda, he addressed the state legislature telling that Pakistan would soon send delegations to different countries to apprise them about so-called deteriorating situations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Emphatically stating that Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with the Kashmiri people for their right to self-discrimination, he demanded plebiscite in J&K under the UN Security Council resolution, a stand that India does not recognise.

The UNSC mandate required Pakistan to remove its troops from PoK and to hold the plebiscite which Jawaharlal Nehru had agreed to. However, Pakistan didnt remove its troops. Instead, it chose to give Indian Territory under its occupation to Indias rival, China.

Primarily, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was legally part of India with the Instrument of Accession (IoA) signed by ruling king of the state Maharaja Hari Singh.

Calling Indian occupation of J-K a reign of terror, the Pakistani PM said that Indian forces in the valley have been threatening the people. He added that separatist voices and protests have always been there and Pakistan is politically united to support them.

He said Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute and is a challenge to the conscience of the international community and demanded that India should allow the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate if there are cases of human rights violations in the state.



Framers of our Constitution had realized a developing India, as the time moves on, will present before its citizens many issues that were immaterial or unheard of in those days. And that is why they gave us a comprehensive document that touches every part of our society, the individual, the community, the administration and the government. What is remarkable is the fact that every new challenge, every new issue can be interpreted in terms of the guidelines mentioned in the Constitution as mentioned in its preface, “Constitution is a living document, an instrument which makes the government system work.”

One such issue is environment. Pollution has reached to threatening levels in our country with 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities being Indian. Pollution is not something that has come into public psyche just now. It has had history of its own, especially in the aftermath of the industrial revolution in Europe in 18-19th Century coupled with the advent of fossil fuels. The world can never forget the Great Smog of London in 1952 that killed over 4000.

The framers of our Constitution deliberated on these issues and gave us safeguards that would continue to defence us, through the custodians of the Constitution, the Judiciary, even if the governments continue to fail us on environment and pollution. What can be a more apt testimony to this ‘Constitution is a living document’ spirit than the fact that our courts, including the Supreme Court, have, from time to time, have reminded the government and the industry that, though not directly mentioned, ‘Right to Environment’ is a Fundamental Right under Article 14, 19 and 21.

The Constitution empowers the citizens and the courts by ensuring ‘remedies for enforcement of rights it confers’ as defined by the Article 32 – “The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part (Fundamental Rights) is guaranteed” – or by the Article 226 in case of the High Courts.

Apart from the Fundamental Rights, our Constitution also comprehensive lays down guidelines to protect the environment at each level – be it an individual or society (Fundamental Duties) or the administration and government level (Directive Principals of State Policy).


Article 51A (G): It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—

• To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;


Article 43: The State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.

Article 47: The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

Article 48A: The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country.


District Planning Committee
Article 243ZD (3A): Every District Planning Committee shall, in preparing the draft development plan — have regard to —
(i) matters of common interest between the Panchayats and the Municipalities including spatial planning, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation.

Metropolitan Planning Committee
Article 243ZE (3): Every Metropolitan Planning Committee shall, in preparing the draft development plan — have regard to—
(ii) matters of common interest between the Municipalities and the Panchayats, including co-ordinated spatial planning of the area, sharing of water and other physical and natural resources, the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation.




This case was a first where the Supreme Court, concerned by environmental degradation and ecological imbalance it could have caused, passed a landmark order to stop illegal mining. Through this judgement, the apex court tried to define the limit up to which natural resources (here forest) could be exploited to meet the demands of industry and development.

The case goes back to 1980s. Decades of mining in limestone quarries of the Dehradun Valley stripped the Himalayan Mountains of green vegetation in the state of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttarakhand) against which the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, an NZGO, wrote a letter to the Supreme Court in 1983.

The court treated the letter as a writ-petition starting thus a series of hearings which finally ended in a verdict that for the first time dealt comprehensively with environment review, assessment of national needs from mining activities in the Dehradun Region and reforestation of the area. Pressing on the need to assess ecological balance and pollution due to the limestone quarries, the court had also appointed an Expert Committee.

The court came down heavily on the mining industry of the area, closed their operations and said it was a price that had to be paid to ensure the right to healthy environment, “The consequence of this Order made by us would be that the lessees of lime stone quarries which have been directed to be closed down permanently under this Order or which may be directed to be closed down permanently after consideration of the report, would be thrown out of business in which they have invested large sums of money and expanded onsiderable time and effort. This would undoubtedly cause hardship to them but it is a price that has to be paid for protecting and safeguarding the right of the people to live in healthy environment with minimal disturbance of ecological balance and without avoidable hazard to them and to their cattle, homes and agricultural land and undue affectation of air, water and environment. “

The apex court also put the government’s responsibility in clear terms while passing the order under the recently enacted Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, “Maintenance of the environment and ecological balance was the obligation of the State and the Central Governments.”



Though India had formally recognized Israel in 1950, it took decades before it established full diplomatic ties with the country in early 1990s. The foundation of India’s policy towards Israel and Palestine was laid by Mahatma Gandhi who, though sympathised with the Jews for their persecution, was never in favour of a forced state of Israel in Palestine against the wishes of Palestinians and Arabs. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister religiously followed this line and India voted against the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly for partition of Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews that led to formation of Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948.

Before the scheduled day of UN vote on November 29, 1947, the Jewish leaders were holding hectic parleys and were lobbying with the UN member countries to vote in favour of the partition. To gain India’s support, the Jewish leadership convinced the best known Jewish face of the time, Albert Einstein, to bring India on board. Nehru respected Einstein as a scientist and humanist.

According to an analysis of communication between Nehru and Einstein on the issue, analysed by Israeli professor and historian Benny Morris, published in The Guardian, the Jewish leaders urged Einstein to write to Nehru hoping it could do the “miracle of persuading India to vote in favour of a Jewish state.”

Einstein wrote to Nehru on June 13, 1947. His four page letter touched themes like persecution of the Jews since the ancient times and recent massacre by Adolf Hitler and compared the Jews with the untouchables of India, something that Mahatma Gandhi had written about in past. Praising India for abolishing Untouchability, he called India to stand for the rights “an ancient people with roots are in the East who have been victims of persecution and discrimination for centuries”, invoking “justice and inequality”.

Though Einstein was not in favour of a nation state and had long advocated for an Arab-Jewish state than a Jewish state where the Arabs and the Jews would live together in peace, the communication says he was forced to change his opinion, “The Jewish people alone has for centuries been in the anomalous position of being victimised and hounded as a people, though bereft of all the rights and protections which even the smallest people normally has. Zionism (the movement to establish Israel) offered the means of ending this discrimination. Through the return to the land to which they were bound by close historic ties, Jews sought to abolish their pariah status among peoples.”

Making the case of Jewish settlement in Palestine, Einstein wrote that “one of the most extraordinary features of the Jewish rebuilding of Palestine was that the influx of Jewish pioneers resulted not in the displacement and impoverishment of the local Arab population but in its phenomenal increase and greater prosperity.”

But Einstein’s appeal failed to convince Nehru to leave India’s principled stand for the Palestinian cause and vote in favour of Palestine’s partition for the proposed Jewish state.

In reply to Einstein’s letter, he wrote back on July 11, 1947, “I confess that while I have a very great deal of sympathy for the Jews I feel sympathy for the Arabs also. I know that the Jews have done a wonderful piece of work in Palestine and have raised the standards of the people there, but one question troubles me. After all these remarkable achievements, why have they failed to gain the goodwill of the Arabs? Why do they want to compel the Arabs to submit against their will to certain demands [i.e., partition and Jewish statehood]?”

Nehru also made it clear to Einstein that apart from India’s principled stand, it was also because of India’s policy concerns on domestic and international developments which could not allow India to vote in favour of Israel, “National leaders, unfortunately, had to pursue essentially selfish policies. Each country thinks of its own interest first. If it so happens that some international policy fits in with the national policy of the country, then that nation uses brave language about international betterment. But as soon as that international policy seems to run counter to national interests or selfishness, then a host of reasons are found not to follow that international policy.”

India, which was going to celebrate its first Independence Day a month later, on August 15, 1947, had a sizeable Muslim population which was opposed to the Jewish occupation of Palestine. Besides, the wounds of India’s partition along the religion lines were still fresh. Also, a war with Pakistan was looming large and India needed international support including from the Arab nations.

The UNGA resolution on division of Palestine was passed with a mandate of 33 votes while 13 member countries, including India, voted against it. All six Arab member countries of the UN staged walk-out highlighting the fact that the partition was not acceptable to the Arab nations.

10 countries along with Britain abstained from voting. The British stand was bizarre because it was an ill-conceived and half-baked British document only, known as 1917 Balfour Declaration that gave rise to the whole Palestine-Israel issue as we see it today. The British stand was that anything inimical to the interests of the existing non-Jewish communities would not be acceptable while advocating for Jewish homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine, something that made it to abstain from voting 30 years later. Nehru’s was also against the Balfour Declaration because it sought to create a Jewish nation in Palestine which was not “empty and uninhabited and was already a home to Arabs.”



The article originally appeared on India Today.

Wars, homegrown armed civil conflicts and disasters left 65.6 million people displaced in 2016 a United Nations report released on the World Refugee Day on June 20 says. “Global Trends: Forced Displacements in 2016“, released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that “20 people are newly displaced every minute or one person every three seconds.” It puts the global refugee count at 22.5 million, internally displaced at 40.3 million and asylum seekers at 2.8 million. Be it wars being waged by humans or against nature, the human crisis is getting deeper.

Syrian civil war that is in sixth year with no signs of cessation of hostilities continues to force people out of their homes and country with 12 million Syrian refugees scattered across countries and continents. They are followed by 7.7 million displaced Colombian refugees, 4.7 million Afghan refugees and 4.2 million Iraqi refugees. Children make for around 31 per cent of the world’s population but 51 per cent refugees today are children including those 75,000 asylum seekers who were left alone or were separated from their families.

To make matters worse, South Sudan, that gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after years of civil war, has emerged as the new crisis spot to produce refugees. Despite independence, civil war has continued and according to the report, 3.3 million South Sudanese were forcibly displaced by the end of 2016. The report says that “South Sudan became the biggest new factor when peace efforts broke down in July 2016 resulting in some 737,400 people fleeing by the end of the year”. South Sudan, in fact, has replaced Syria as the country with the fastest-growing displacement of people in the world. It is among the top three countries along with Syria and Afghanistan accounting for 55 per cent of refugees worldwide.

And it’s the poor and developing countries support them the most. They are home to about 84 per cent of refugees and asylum seekers. In fact, according to the report, “one in every three people, roughly 4.9 million people, were hosted by the least developed countries in 2016.”

Europe saw millions of refugees and migrants reaching to its countries in 2015. But since then, the rich western nations have tightened their procedures to take in refugees and asylum seekers after a series of terrorist attacks involving refugees, migrants or their dependents. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations’ migration agency, the number of migrants and refugees that entered Europe by sea routes saw further drastic reduction this year. 73,189 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 whereas the corresponding figure for January-June 11 was 211434, almost three times. In 2015, European countries had received 1,321,560 asylum claims.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has lauded the role of poor and developing countries saying “it is so inspiring to see countries with the least doing the most for refugees.” At the same time, the UN report has warned on this huge imbalance that can create instability in the host countries saying “the figure illustrates the need for countries and communities supporting refugees and other displaced people to be robustly resourced and supported.”



The article originally appeared on India Today. 

As it was widely expected, US President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a global climate pact to deal with emission of greenhouse gases under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 195 countries signed the agreement document in December 2015 and 147 countries have ratified it so far and the agreement came into effect on November 4, 2016, days before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016.

US withdrawing from it is certainly a bad news as the country is the second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases. China, the European Union and the US account for more than half of the glbal greenhouse gas emissions, an analysis from the World Resources Institute says. And the US exit is bound to affect the norms and goals of the Paris accord even if other larger emitters including India, Russia, European Union and China has reiterated their commitment.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President. Trump and his associates would refer to the Paris deal “a bad idea” that would be detrimental for the US economy and therefore for the US jobs. During the recently held G7 Summit in Sicily, Trump behaved on the issue like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it.

During his recent visit to European countries and to the Vatican, European leaders and Pope Francis urged him stay with the climate pact. During the G7 Summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal. But his final decision says he had already made up his mind.

It is the second occasion when the United States has walked out of a global climate deal after endorsing it and on both occasions, it was a decision by a Democrat president that was overturned by his Republican successor.

In 2001, then US President George W Bush, a Republican, had withdrawn from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, that was accepted by his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton. The agreement document was signed by former US vice-president Al Gore but could not be ratified by the US Senate. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was also aimed at reducing emission of greenhouse gases that are chiefly responsible for global warming. Like Trump says about the Paris Accord, Bush would say the same about the Kyoto Protocol that it “would have wrecked the US economy”.

This time also, it is a Republican president who has overturned a decision by his Democrat predecessor Barack Obama. The Republican controlled US Senate would never ratify the deal and therefore the agreement document signed by Barack Obama is considered an executive agreement as a traditional international treaty would require ratification by the US Senate, media reports in the US said. Under the Obama curated deal, the US had agreed to cut its 2005 emission levels by 26 to 28 per cent by 2025. Since the Paris Agreement was not ratified by the US Senate, its many provisions were not binding on the US. And since it is an “executive agreement”, Trump is well within his authority to withdraw from it.



The article originally appeared on India Today. 

When it comes to lying in plain sight, no one can match Pakistani politicians and military officials and the sham this time have come from none other than its army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to a Radio Pakistan report, Bajwa called up Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani on Sunday to express solidarity with Afghanistan on its fight against terror and to condole the loss of lives in terror attacks. Claiming Afghanistan and Pakistan being ‘brotherly countries’, ‘he expressed sympathy with families of the victims and empathized on the tragic series of events that have befallen people of the both the countries over the last many years’, the report said.

The report quoting an official Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) release said that ‘Bajwa emphasized that Pakistan had come a long way in its fight against terrorism of all hue and colour and had eliminated all safe havens in the process’.

Now that is a claim that no one is going to buy including Afghanistan, a country that as recently as January 10 saw big terror attacks in Kabul, Helmand and Kandahar that killed dozens including the UAE Ambassador and four other UAE diplomats. Afghanistan blames Pakistan for continued terror attacks in the country and has raised the issue of Pakistan promoting terror in Afghanistan and harbouring terrorists in its backyard on every international platform. During the Heart of Asia Summit held at Amritsar in December, Ashraf Ghani had called for international intervention to check and stop cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

While shedding crocodile tears, claiming it is the biggest terror victim, Pakistan uses terror as state policy very conveniently, exporting terror to India and other parts of the world and providing safe havens to dreaded terrorists from across the world, be it Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and its other members or Taliban and its chief Mullah Omar or the Haqqani network or India’s most wanted like Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim or even terrorists operating in China’s Xinjiang region. It all-weather ally China is reportedly going to seal its Xinjiang border with Pakistan to control terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

India, the biggest victim of Pakistan sponsored terror, has been voicing its demand to dismantle the terror infrastructure in Pakistan. There are many launch-pads and at least 17 terror camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that keep on feeding the terror machinery active in India. The SAARC Summit to be held in Pakistan in November was cancelled after other nations of the South Asian grouping had refused to join the Summit blaming Pakistan’s continued use of terror as state policy.

The US has always blamed Pakistan for fomenting terror in Afghanistan and has blamed it for giving safe havens to terror outfits like Taliban factions, Al Qaeda, LeT and the Haqqani network. James Mattis, US President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for his Defence Secretary, has warned Pakistan ‘to expel or neutralise externally-focused militant groups that operate within its borders’. In October last year, in its first ever public warning, the US had said it will go alone in destroying terror networks operating from Pakistan if Pakistan couldn’t do that and had named its all powerful spy agency ISI for actively colluding with the terror groups.

Yet, Pakistan keeps on ranting, shamelessly, that it has destroyed all terror safe havens and has no terror elements acting and spreading terror from its soil, as General Bajwa has done again.



My face is just an access to the mirror
Otherwise there is a deep disconnect
Perpetuated by years of dependence
Perpetrated by countless hours together
We never realized what would be the life
When reflections will tell different stories
Now there are colours to mix in yours
And there are colours to fade in ours
The mirror shows us those tales to plead
But I find you adrift, lost in yesteryears
And how would I not know the eventual
You are as I am, lost in time and its stories
My face, like yours, lost in each other, is,
Just an access to the mirror, not its stories

Entrapped by Loss


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –




©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The crisis further deepens.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is quoting senior lawyers and constitutional experts K. K. Venugopal and Gopal Subramaniam on Ministry of Home Affairs’s (MHA) gazette notification calling it an unconstitutional act by the Government of India.

Former solicitor general of India is of the view that Kejriwal and his cabinet has legitimate rights to appoints ‘civil servants’ and functionaries for their own government, against the MHA notification that makes it the exclusive domain of the Lieutenant-Governor. “Such an exercise may be assailed in a court of law as a fraud on the Constitution or a colourable exercise of authority…It singularly lacks propriety when the President is still seized with the question. It is illegal and unconstitutional; and presumably, it has been issued without the requisite presidential approval” – the Times of India quoted him saying.

His views were echoed by senior lawyer K. K. Venugopal. He, too, termed the MHA notification unconstitutional and ‘void’. He backed Arvind Kejriwal on Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment.

The latest controversy in ‘chief minister Vs lieutenant-governor’ story began with the appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as the acting chief secretary of Delhi as Delhi’s K. K. Sharma was on a personal leave for 10 days.

Gamlin wrote to the L-G that the Delhi government was sitting on the appointment even if she completed all requirements and norms. She even figured in the list sent to the L-G by the deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.

Reasons best known to Kejriwal, though he officially said that he didn’t like Gamlin as she was backing corporate interests and he even wanted to remove her from the office of the power secretary, made the Delhi government sat on the file for three days before her appointment by the L-G.

The row that began with Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment saw heads of other civil services officials roll in an ugly public display. Subsequently, officers held a meeting. Both, the Delhi CM and the Delhi L-G met the President separately. Kejriwal tried to drag in the Union government. Though Narendra Modi has not, so far, spoken on the issue, even if Kejriwal has blamed his government for ‘running Delhi by proxy’, his Home Ministry under Rajnath Singh, has issued a notification backing the L-G.

The MHA notification says the power to appoint the civil servants rests with the L-G and consulting the CM depends on the L-G’s discretion. The notification also says the Anti-corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government cannot take cognizance of offences committed by the central government employees.

And Kejriwal is not going to take it. In fact, the notification has given him another opportunity to squeeze in the political mileage. The party met today and has called a special session of the Delhi assembly on May 26 and 27 to further discuss the notification.

So far, we have not heard a written reply by the President. Constitutional experts are divided over the issue. Those consulted by the AAP support the party’s stand. There are others including Subhash Kashyap who support the stand taken by the L-G.

The MHA notification has further exacerbated the issue. And it is expected to figure prominently in the public dialogue organized tomorrow at Connaught Place on completion of 100 days of Kejriwal government in Delhi.

The row, effectively, has been converted into a political slugfest now.

Kejriwal terms the notification a ‘nervous’ move by the Union government. Manish Sisodia is alleging a section of officers behind it who were behind the ‘transfer-posting’ industry that the AAP government shut down. The AAP leaders and spokespersons are seeing ‘collusion’ behind the latest row. They are still trying to make it ‘Modi Vs Kejriwal’. They are asking the government the constitutional provisions that allow sweeping powers to the L-G in the case.

On his part, Najeeb Jung has not spoken much, apart from issuing written missives. Rajnath Singh said Kejriwal and Jung should sit together and resolve the issue. Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders have blamed the AAP for high handedness, constitutional impropriety and trying to suppress the laws that govern Delhi.

So, what does the Constitution of India and related laws say?

It is to be seen which third party response the AAP would accept – the President’s or the court’s. Let’s see if the President comes up with a written response on the whole issue and let’s see if that is acceptable to the parties involved, now that there central government is also involved.

Or is it heading to the legal opinion of the court as the last resort?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –