1) Tobacco companies in SC
It refers to the former attorney general and senior advocate arguing in the Supreme Court for tobacco-companies that any further tightening rules for pictorial warnings on packs of cigarettes and tobacco will hurt the business of the tobacco companies overlooking the fact that public-health is far more important than business-income of tobacco companies. The government spends much more on tobacco-related diseases than earned from taxes on tobacco products. Even presently, the proportion of pictorial-warning area on cigarette packs in India is lowest in the world with Brazil even having 100 per cent area on both front and back panels of cigarette packs. In fact, pictorial-warnings, however, bigger or stringent are totally useless and ineffective for smokers.
However, Mukul Rohatgi was perfectly justified in demanding cautioning to be printed on chocolates that consumption may lead to diabetes. Rather all sweet-packs must have similar statuary-warning printed on sweet-packs putting sweets in 28 per cent GST-slab.
The only remedy for effectively curbing smoking is to follow sensible countries like Bhutan and Ireland by imposing a complete ban on the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the country. Even family members of smokers will support such a bold step because it is the family which suffers from the death of persons caused by smoking. Smoking is an addiction started out of fashion at the young age when initial puffs even cause discomfort. If self-regulation is the policy to check human evils, then the Union Government should withdraw attempt-to-suicide from Indian Penal Code. Likewise, using helmets by scooterists should also be made self-regulatory rather than being forced as compulsory.
– Madhu Agrawal
2) Misuse of RTI Act
It refers to Central Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad being strongly critical in the misuse of RTI Act bombarding College of Art (Delhi Government) with too many RTI applications because the daughter of the petitioner could not be qualified for getting admission at the college. Yashovardhan Azad is amongst those Central Information Commissioners who has saved the RTI Act through passing stringent strictures against those misusing the transparency Act saving several departments of the Government of Delhi being saved from the regular bombardment of RTI applications by many misusers resulting in the huge saving of manpower and resources of concerned public authorities. It was Yashovardhan Azad who while hearing a case against the GB Pant Hospital did not mince words in passing strictures against a petitioner who wanted research study to be done by Professors at the Hospital through RTI application.
India’s most popular RTI Act having a high global-rating for its effectiveness should be saved by preventing it from misuse. RTI fees should be uniform for all states and competent authorities at RS 50 that may include copying charges for first 20 copied pages of documents for saving to both public authorities and petitioners on demanding and remitting copying charges, eliminating non-serious petitioners filing irrelevant petitions only because of a negligible fee of just Rs 10. RTI fees and copying charges are already nil for petitioners from ‘Below-Poverty-Line’ (BPL) category. To prevent RTI applications being filed under fake names, ID proof should be compulsorily enclosed with RTI application in tune with para 23 of verdict dated 02.11.2012 in the matter “Fruit and Vegetable Union versus Unknown” (CWP 4787 of 2011). Repeated CIC-recommendations for the issue of RTI stamps in denominations of Rs 2, Rs 10 and Rs 50 should be accepted to prevent heavy government-spending in handling postal-orders generally used to pay RTI fees. Post-free RTI applications addressed to central public-authorities should be extended to all about 1,60,000 post-offices in the country rather than just about 4,500 post offices presently.
– Subhash Chandra Agrawal
3) Mumbai menace due to unplanned development
Mumbai hitherto was known for its rains and people waited with bated breath for monsoons to enjoy the delicacies of the seasons at Marine drive and the beaches. Unplanned development over the years have spoilt the fun and today the challenge is to cope with potholes, manholes and other innumerable worries which we have to encounter daily as the city floods even during slight drizzles. Commuting is a big problem in the city and a 10 km travel can even take 2 hours during peak hours as 90 per cent of Mumbai is dug up for one reason or the other.
City’s infrastructure has collapsed and people in slums are the worst sufferers as their homes resemble a lake with valuables underneath the water. Diseases too are on the rise and Leptospirosis deaths a matter of grave concern. Tree felling deaths are a shocker as even the trimming of trees remains a challenge which is should act as an eye-opener in a city which is the commercial capital of our country. Corruption rules roost which is the reason for the sorry state and citizens equally responsible for electing corrupt governments and participating in bribes which are accepted only when they are paid!
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)