[Editorial Analysis] A ‘reform wave’ Lakshadweep could do without

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation
Mains level: Devolution of powers

Context:

• A slew of reforms being introduced by the new administrator of Lakshwadeep is being talked about in the given article.

What is the issue?

• Draft laws introduced like the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021; the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA); the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 and Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021.

• Minister said he intends to develop Lakshadweep like neighboring Maldives, “a renowned international tourist destination”.

The IDA framework:

• Specially constituted Island Development Authority (IDA), in Kavaratti in 1988, approved a framework for the development of India’s island territories.

• It held “an environmentally sound strategy for both island groups hinges on better exploitation of marine resources coupled with much greater care in the use of land resources”. Published in 1989, the report carried six recommendations for Lakshadweep.

• Lakshwadeep had its own decentralised political entity from the adoption of panchayati raj much before the constitutional amendments of 1993, in which the Island Development Council, was mandated to advise the Administrator on development.

• It gives India a vast and exclusive economic zone with three distinct ecosystems: land, lagoon and ocean.

• Fishery is a primary occupation here. The language, except in Minicoy, is Malayalam; in Minicoy, Mahl is spoken, a language akin to the 17th century Divehi of the Maldives.

• The society in all islands is matriarchal. The religion is Islam of the pristine Shafi school of law.

• Vatteluttu was the earliest script used with its heavy Sanskrit component. With the introduction of Islam, Arabi-Malayalam, with Malayalam in Arabic script and associated with the literature of the Mappilas developed on the mainland.

• Earlier Prime Minister like Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to Lakshwadeep was concerned about the development agenda for these ecologically fragile territories.

A ‘no’ to the Maldives model:

• Specifically rejecting the Maldives model, the plan for Lakshadweep required that the industry had to be people-centric and enrich the fragile coral ecology.

• Lakshadweep today has rainwater harvesting facilities, first introduced in government buildings on every island and now accessible in every home.

• Solar power, which covers 10% of lighting needs, makes Lakshadweep a pioneer in India’s present flagship initiative.

• All islands have been connected by helicopter service since 1986, and high-speed passenger boats were purchased in the 1990s by an international tender.

• A study by the National Institute of Oceanography found practical applications, helping a redesign of the tripods reinforcing the beaches against sea erosion, and ensuring piped water supply especially designed to draw from the freshwater thus saving the fragile ecology.

• The islands boast total literacy. Minicoy had among the country’s first Navodaya Vidyalayas.Vernacular building traditions, they are the theme of all government housing projects undertaken in the islands in the 1980s, with leading architects providing the designs.

• Although the poverty line in terms of GDP is only slightly higher than the World Bank’s poverty threshold, Lakshadweep today has no poor people with good calory intake.

• Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Finance Commissions (1984-2005), this established, in the words of the last of these Commissions “speedy and accurate generation of accounting information that might be needed for purposes of better planning, budgeting and monitoring”.

• There is much room for improvement. Income disparities have grown. Indiscriminate trawling endangers the coral, as experienced in the Maldives and now banned there.

• The Government recognises the need to develop policies for enhancing employment opportunities, environment-friendly management of fisheries, sanitation, waste disposal and widening access to drinking water.

• Revenue from tourism has declined with the closure of resorts (including at Bangaram) from litigation. A clear policy must include conservation and natural resource management arrived at after wide consultation.

• Youth, having acquired a modern education, preferring salaried jobs over pursuing traditional occupations.
• Maldives is hardly a suitable model. Water bungalows — an expensive concept and also hazardous to the coral — favoured by the NITI Aayog, may collapse in Lakshadweep’s turbulent monsoon.

Way ahead:

• Pursuit of ‘holistic development’, using the ‘claim’ that there has been no development in Lakshadweep for the past 70 years author argues is wrong.

• Preventive detention law undermine tribal land ownership, with judicial remedy denied, with also plans for road widening on the islands where the maximum road length is 11 km is fragile for ecology.

• Provision to allow the mining and exploitation of mineral resources which could convert the islands into a hub for cement manufacture is not suitable for the island’s geography.

• Panchayat rules designed to restrict the population growth in a territory where, according to the National Health and Family Survey-5 (2019-20), the total fertility rate is 1.4 and relaxing prohibition, extant in the Union Territory because of public demand.

• Relaxation of quarantine restrictions for travel have introduced the novel coronavirus into a pandemic-free archipelago.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the tobacco use, consider the following statements:
1. The National Health Policy 2017 has set an ambitious target of reducing tobacco use by 30% by 2025.
2. Theme for “World No Tobacco Day” 2021 is “Commit to Quit”.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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