Citizens' Issues
Punishment for Honest Mistake
The law allows a lot of leeway
 
Event 1: A boy of 15 is offered a choice of presents. An Agfa camera or a Diana air rifle. The father prudently advises against the camera, photography being an expensive hobby. It is early 1957. One day, the boy wants to discharge the only pellet in the gun. He casually aims it at a metal corrugated door. He fires. The bullet ricochets and hits the father, standing next to the boy, in the chest. Fortunately, little damage is done: except a ‘birth-mark’. The father sets the boy down and tells him a story.
 
Event 2: This is his story. A kid of 10 years, son of the father’s friend, was fond of the game of darts. Innocent fun. The board was hung on a door curtain, separating two rooms in the home. One day, the boy throws a dart. His sister, entering the room, shifts the curtain. The dart penetrates her eye. She is blinded, in that eye, for life.
 
Event 3: A world-renowned athlete deified for his disability, a grown-up man, fires his high-powered rifle into a closed bathroom door, of his own home. The gun is aimed at the toilet. The shots kill his girlfriend. He claimed that he thought his girlfriend was in bed at the time and he mistook her for an intruder. The trial court finds him guilty of culpable homicide. It means death without intent to kill. Minimal punishment.
 
You be the judge.
Event 1 saw, thankfully, small damage. Moreover, the law was not as developed then as it is now. Event 2, the kid was too young to foresee the danger, though his parents should have. Family matter; end of story.
 
Event 3 saw ups and downs. In an appeal preferred by the South African state, the man is convicted of murder. The verdict hinged on the ‘Doctrine of Intent’, in the form of dolus eventualis, or manifest intention, or reasonable knowledge, that an action would have necessary consequences. The law allows one to protect his life and property; but not rashly. The reaction to the threat needs be measured. It must be just enough to protect oneself, disarm the aggressor or neutralise the threat. Here, one is reminded of Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’. It has a delightful piece called ‘Let the punishment fit the crime’. In the same way, let the response suit the danger. No more. Shooting several times, through a locked door, not stopping on hearing screams, is definitely an over-reaction, even to a supposedly perceived threat. 
 
 “A man’s home is his castle. He can, and must, protect it with any means at his disposal.” Brave words, quoted by many. Yet, bravado must not blinker sense. To be sure, the time between threat and response is, often, a micro second. Reflexes outrun rational thought. One shoots first and asks questions later. That could lead to trouble. 
 
What should a person do under such difficult circumstances? Unfortunately, there is no formula; there never will be. The normal answer, to a sudden fraught situation, is reaction. If attacked, an unarmed man will raise his hand in self-defence. He may take shelter behind a tree or a wall or under a table. He may turn about and run, if the situation permits and he is capable.
 
Or he may hit back. It’s this hitting back, and the intensity of the counter-attack, that weighs in court. And, if the defendant is proved to be short of temper or prone to aggression, the scale will not tilt in his favour. 
 
The law distinctly allows for a genuine mistake. It also allows for an exaggeration of the threat, if it is unseen or unfathomable. If the attack is in the dead of night, one cannot gauge the danger. Is the attacker bare-handed or armed? If armed, does he have a gun or a knife? Is he alone or with someone? Or are there many? Thought, at the speed of light, may be too slow. Quicksilver response is the need of the hour; rather, of the split second. Preservation is the overwhelming emotion. In such cases, the court understands. 
 
A word of caution, though. Do not take the court for granted.
 

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Nifty, Sensex struggling to head higher – Wednesday closing report
Nifty may head higher, if it closes above 7,450
 
We had mentioned in our Monday closing report that Nifty, Sensex may rally subject to dips and that as long as Nifty is above 7,400, the index may rise. The indices of Indian equity markets ended flat at close of Wednesday’s trading, as investors were in a wait and watch mood on account of global cues and macroeconomic factors. The trends of the major indices in the course of Wednesday’s trading are given in the table below:
 
Caution over the upcoming rate-setting meeting of the US Fed's FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) scheduled for January 27-28, coupled with a weak rupee dented investors' sentiments in the Indian equity markets on Wednesday leading to major indices in the Indian equity markets closing the day's trade flat. Initially, the bellwether indices opened on a flat-to-positive note in sync with their Asian peers and firm closing of the domestic markets on Monday. Moreover, short-coverings were supported by firm oil prices and expectations of healthy roll-over figures from the F&O (Futures and Options) expiry slated for Thursday. The weakness in rupee subdued sentiments too. The rupee value weakened to 68-level against a US dollar during intra-day trade. The weakness in the rupee value indicates the massive outflow of foreign funds from the Indian equity and debt markets. On Monday, the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net sellers. According to data with stock exchanges, FIIs divested Rs91.15 crore. 
 
HDFC on Wednesday said it would raise Rs450 crore from private placement of secured redeemable non-convertible debentures. In a regulatory filing of the term sheet for the issue of the said security under Series O-012, HDFC said the mode of raising the Rs.450 crore is through private placement mainly to augment the long term resources. The company said the issue proceeds would be used for financing and refinancing its housing finance business. The debentures carrying a coupon rate of 8.60 percent will have a tenor of three years and one month. The issue opens and closes on January 28, 2016. HDFC shares closed at Rs1,167.70, down 0.55% on the BSE.
 
HCL Infosystems on Monday said it posted a standalone net loss of Rs7.49 crore for the quarter ending December 2015. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, losses reduced by 87.8% in Q3 2015-16 compared to Rs61.47 crore losses posted in Q3 2014-15. According to the standalone results posted on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), HCL Infosystems posted an income of Rs745.3 crore in the quarter under review against Rs1,015.63 crore posted in the quarter ending December 2014. Total expenses fell to Rs746.37 crore in Q3 2015-16 from Rs1,015.34 crore incurred in the like quarter of 2014-15. The company reported losses on a consolidated basis as well, it reported a consolidated net loss of Rs65.71 crore for Q3 2015-16 against a loss of Rs50.82 crore in Q3 2014-15. Losses rose by Rs14.89 crore at the rate of 29.29%.Consolidated income fell to Rs1,146.58 crore from Rs1,450.52 crore in Q3 2014-15 while the company incurred a total consolidated expenses of Rs1,184.53 crore in Q3 2015-16 against Rs1,483.64 crore in the year ago quarter. The shares of the company closed at Rs45.05, down 3.53%, on the BSE.
 
With global crude oil prices in free fall through most of 2015, the World Bank has sharply revised downwards its forecast for oil price in 2016, at an average of $37 a barrel from $51 predicted in October, in the context of the continuing supply glut and low demand prospects from emerging economies. “World Bank is lowering its 2016 forecast for crude oil prices to $37 per barrel in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook report from $51 per barrel in its October projections," the multilateral lender said in a release here on Tuesday. In this regard, the bank also scaled down its growth forecast for emerging and developing economies to 4% in 2016, from an expected 4.6 percent previously, and said the prediction was "subject to considerable downside risks in a fragile global environment". 
 
Chinese shares tumbled heavily on Wednesday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index nose-diving more than 3% immediately after midday break. Tokyo shares ended the trading Wednesday sharply higher on rises in oil prices, but investors' sentiment remained cautious ahead of decisions of the US and Japanese central banks. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average surged 455.02 points, or 2.72%, from Tuesday's 17,163.92. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange jumped 40.47 points, or 2.98%, higher at 1,400.70. All issues on the main board gained ground, leading by finance stocks, pulp and paper as well as banks. The turnover was around $20.72 billion.
 
The US dollar decreased against most major currencies on Tuesday as investors were awaiting the Federal Reserve statement due out Wednesday. In late New York trading, the euro rose to $1.0849 from $1.0837 in the previous session, while the dollar bought 118.48 Japanese yen, lower than 118.49 yen of the previous session.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 

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70 percent of urban India's sewage is untreated
There are four years left for the government target of ensuring all Indians use toilets, but in urban India alone, no more than 30 percent of sewage generated by 377 million people flows through treatment plants.
 
The rest is randomly dumped in rivers, seas, lakes and wells, polluting three-fourths of the country’s water bodies, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of various data sources.
 
An estimated 62,000 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage is generated in urban areas, while the treatment capacity across India is only 23,277 MLD, or 37 percent of sewage generated, according to data released by the government in December 2015.
 
Further parsing of this data reveals that of 816 municipal sewage treatment plants (STPs) listed across India, 522 work. So, of 62,000 MLD, the listed capacity is 23,277 MLD but no more than 18,883 MLD of sewage is actually treated.
 
That means 70 percent of sewage generated in urban India is not treated.
 
While 79 STPs don’t work, 145 are under construction and 70 are proposed, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s Inventorization Of Sewage Treatment Plants report.
 
No improvement over the years; towns, cities pollute their own water
 
India’s towns and cities contaminate their own water, with no improvement over the years.
 
Sewage generation in India from class-I cities (with a population more than 100,000) and class-II towns (population 50,000-100,000) is estimated at 38,255 MLD, of which only 11,787 MLD (30 percent) is treated, according to the Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) report by Water Aid, a safe-water and sanitation advocacy, quoting a 2009 CPCB report.
 
The untreated sewage is dumped directly into water bodies, polluting three-fourth of India’s surface water resources, the FSM report said. Up to 80 percent of water bodies could be polluted, the report said.
 
Operation and maintenance of existing treatment capacity is below par, with 39 percent plants not conforming to environmental rules for discharge into streams, the CPCB report said.
 
An estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of water pollution is from domestic sewage, discharged untreated into local water bodies.
 
A general, growing shortage of (working) sewage-treatment plants
 
Of the 522 working STPs across India, the maximum are in the northern state of Punjab, which has 86. But no more than 38 work.
 
Uttar Pradesh has the most working STPs, 62, followed by Maharashtra (60) and Karnataka (44).
 
About 85 million in urban India lack adequate sanitation - more than Germany’s population
 
About 17 million urban households lack adequate sanitation facilities in India, with 14.7 million households without toilets, the FSM report said.
 
If you consider five people per family, that means about 85 million people - or more than the population of Germany - are without adequate sanitation in urban India.
 
In terms of rural households, only 48.4 percent (87.9 million) have toilet facilities as on December 7, 2015, according to a reply in the Lok Sabha.
 
Around five million (7.1%) urban households having pit latrines that have no slabs or are open pits, and about 900,000 toilets dispose off faeces directly into drains.
 
Only 32.7 percent of urban households that have sanitation facilities use toilets connected to an underground sewage network.
 
As many as 30 million urban households (38.2 percent), of the 79 million households with septic tanks, have no clear method for sewage disposal.
 
Open defecation remains a major challenge
 
About 12.6 percent of urban households defecate in the open. This number is higher for slums, with 18.9 perceent of households defecating in the open.
 
Around 1.7 percent of households across India defecate in the open despite having toilets, the government informed the Lok Sabha in a reply last month, based on a 2012 National Sample Survey report.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, around 22.5 percent urban households defecate in open spaces, followed by Tamil Nadu (16.2 percent), Uttar Pradesh (14.8 percent), Gujarat (8.7 percent), Maharashtra (7.7 percent) and Delhi (3 percent).
 
A staggering 55 percent of rural households defecate in the open, according to data tabled in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015. Odisha tops list, with 86.6 percent of rural households defecating in the open. In Kerala, no more than 3.9 percent of households defecate in the open.
 
The global story: Open defecation has fallen by half over 25 years
 
The proportion of people practising open defecation globally has fallen almost by half, from 24 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2015.
 
About 68 percent of the world’s population had access to improved sanitation facilities, including flush toilets and covered latrines, in 2015, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
However, nearly 2.4 billion people across the world lack basic sanitation facilities, such as toilets or latrines. Of these, 946 million defecate in the open, according to the WHO.
 
Will building toilets address the issue? The jury is out
 
The Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, launched by the National Democratic Alliance government on October 2, 2014, aims to make India open-defecation-free by October 2, 2019.
 
The government plans to construct 2.5 million individual household toilets in urban areas by 2015-16, of which 882,905 were constructed upto December, 2015, according to latest data available.
 
As many as 32,014 out of 100,000 community and public toilets have been built under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The rural sanitation programme, in its first year, saw the construction of 8.8 million toilets, against the target of 6 million.

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COMMENTS

D S Ranga Rao

10 months ago

Yes, not having proper mechanism in place for disposal or recycling of waste of all kinds is the biggest bane of our country. Wonder how long more it may be for us to learn about "Wealth from Waste" of the Scandinavian countries. However, 'wealth' is stealthily made from municipal waste/dust bins by some enterprisingly skilled persons! The only solution appears to be a direct link from homes to treatment plants for the disposal of waste.

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