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Daily Current Affairs for IAS & UPSC Preparation

All current affairs available date-wise and month-wise. Watchout for Back2basics and Notes4students.


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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan Bilateral Relations

India to join anti-terror meet in Pak.

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RATS

Mains level: SCO is seriously focusing on the issue of counter-terrorism.


News

Legal experts to discuss counter-terror strategy among  Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) members

  1. India is sending senior representatives to discuss legal modalities of counter-terrorism for a meeting that Pakistan will host along with the members of the SCO
  2. India, China and other member countries will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) that will be meeting in Islamabad from May 23 to 25

Why is this meeting important? 

  1. The event will be the first such time Pakistan will host India and other members of SCO to discuss a response to terrorism

SCO focus on counter terrorism

  1. As members of the SCO, countries are expected to be active in the SCO Secretariat and also participate in the RATS, headquartered at Tashkent
  2. Counter-terrorism has been on the agenda of the SCO since its inception in 2001 but has been boosted since membership was granted to India and Pakistan in 2017

Background

  1. The RATS held its meeting in the first week of April to finalise a draft for counter-terror cooperation for 2019-’21
  2. The organisation also held a discussion in Delhi during January 31 to February 2

Back2basics

Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)

  1. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism
  2. The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term
  3. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS

How agri credit is missing those who really need it

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Priority Sector Lendings

Mains level: Issues in lending to small and marginal farmers and institutional bottlenecks.


News

Small farmers are getting only 30-40% of loans meant for the sector, says RBI report

  1. As per information provided by the Reserve Bank of India showed that the small and marginal farmers are receiving only 30-40% of loans meant for the sector
  2. As per a report submitted by the RBI to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in response to its queries, only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-17 went to small and marginal farmers

Only 35.5% of total agri credit to Rural Farmers

  1. The RBI data backs up this assertion, showing that only 34.5% of agricultural credit outstanding as of 2017 has gone to rural farmers
  2. The remaining has gone to semi-urban, urban, and metropolitan farmers
  3. The data also shows that the onus of providing agricultural credit is falling on the public sector banks, with 12 out of 23 of the private sector banks for which data is available having failed to meet the 18% lending target for the agricultural sector in 2017

There are two ways of seeing this

  1. One is that it is not equitable, where some farmers, the larger ones and the ones closer to urban areas, are over-represented in terms of access to credit
  2. Secondly, so far as the priority sector lending mandates are concerned, the mandate is not to reach a particular type of farmer. So, the programme itself is not targeted

Lending costs- Is it the real cause of discrepancies in such lending?

  1. The RBI’s rules are that 18% of a bank’s Adjusted Net Bank Credit must go to the agricultural sector and within this, 8% must go to small and marginal farmers
  2. While the banking sector has overall met this limit, there is still an inherent targeting problem arising out of the costs of lending to the sector
  3. The priority sector lending mandate is in place because it is felt that banks would not otherwise lend as much to this sector
  4. What then happens is that banks choose to lend to those areas where the cost of lending is lower, such as those close to urban areas, or to those farmers who are more credit-worthy. That is, the medium and large farmers

What are the issues associated with such lendings?

  1. The point is that these farmers would get credit even without the priority sector lending mandate
  2. It tells us that this calls for a deeper examination of the priority sector lending mandates
  3. Maybe the limit can be reduced, but the rules can be made stricter about to whom the loans are given to
  4. The data also shows a great disparity of performance between states, with some states such as Meghalaya giving 93.6% of its agricultural credit to small and marginal farmers, while other states like Sikkim have this proportion as low as 1.67%
  5. While some of this could be explained by the distribution of farmer types in these states, a large part of the discrepancy could be due to a targeting problem
Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

EC to launch app to help voters share malpractice proof

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the App

Mains level: Steps for assuring free and fair elections


News

Model Code of Conduct Violation Reporting App

  1. The Election Commission will launch a multi-lingual mobile application empowering people across the country to share evidence of malpractice by political parties, their candidates and activists ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, directly with the electoral body
  2. The application helps prevent abuse of money and muscle power, allows for sharing of photos and short audio and video clips from the spot itself along with geolocation
  3. Through this mechanism, EC intends to encourage larger public participation in checking corrupt practices and ensuring a free and fair election process

Recent trials

  1. Such an application was made available for the first time in Bengaluru in the run-up to the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly polls
  2. As part of the implementation, the application will also be made operational in the coming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh

Tackling social media

  1. The growing abuse of social media bots for influencing public opinion has emerged as another major challenge for the Election Commission and plans are on to devise a counter mechanism
  2. These bots are automated accounts often active on popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which use Artificial Intelligence to trigger and influence political debates with an objective to shape public opinion.
  3. A social media cell is already functional in order to address such challenges in the cyber world
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] International trade tensions: a worry for Asia

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and Trade Related Aspects of Investment Measures (TRIMs), etc.

Mains level: There is a (so called) trade war going on between the US and China. The newscard discusses its possible implications on the Indian Economy.


News

Context

  1. The uncertainty in the global trade environment does not bode well for Asian economies that are heavily dependent on international trade and investment as a means of sustained growth

The growth decade between 2002 and 2017

  1. Between 2002 and 2017, economic growth in Asia averaged about 6% annually which expanded about 4% on an average
  2. Consequently, Asia’s share of GDP rose from 25% in 2002 to about 35% in 2017
  3. Asia’s share of global exports spiked from about 29% in 2002 to 38% in 2017,
  4. while its share of global imports increased from about 22% to 31% during the period

The tit-for-tat tariff threats by the US and China

  1. The Donald Trump administration announced the imposition of tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese imports
  2. This was in addition to the more general tariffs imposed on washing machines, solar panels, steel and aluminium imports on China and its other trading partners
  3. China, in turn, has threatened retaliatory tariffs worth $3 billion of goods from the US with 90% in food-related products and the rest in steel tubes and aluminium products

Both parties have a role to play in the US-China and overall global trade tensions

China is not following the WTO rules for its aspirations

  1. China is working on the “Made in China 2025” (inspired by Germany’s “Industry 4.0 plan”) which aims to develop world-class dominance in 10 domestic tech-manufacturing industries
  2. In so doing, critics have argued that China has failed at times to respect the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and Trade Related Aspects of Investment Measures (TRIMs)
  3. Counter view: Others have argued that the WTO itself is ill-equipped to deal with the unique challenges posed by a rising China with its unique economic structure

The US has undertaken aggressive unilateralism

  1. The US  administration has undertaken aggressive unilateralism due to its “diminished giant syndrome”
  2. The trade threats make it look as if “America believes in the law of the jungle rather than the rule of law”

Possible implications for Asia

  1. For now, the global trade environment will be much less buoyant and much more uncertain than it was in the past
  2. This does not bode well for Asian economies, particularly those, which are heavily dependent on international trade and investment as a means of sustained growth
  3. For the rest of Asia, it is critical that they reaffirm the importance of an open, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system,
  4. while pushing forward with greater intra-regional trade initiatives that are of mutual benefit
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc. Infrastructure

[op-ed snap] The Invisible Majority: Women form 80 per cent of urban migrants

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached stories

Mains level: The newscard discusses some women specific issues related to the Urban Migration. As women form 80 per cent of urban migrants, we need a public policy to address their issues.


News

UN report on urban migration in India

  1. The report says India is on the “brink of an urban revolution”, as its population in towns and cities are expected to reach 600 million by 2031
  2. Fuelled by migration, megacities of India (Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata) will be among the largest urban concentrations in the world

Women as urban migrants

  1. The 2011 Census reveals that women form almost 80 per cent of internal migration
  2. An Indiaspend analysis of Census shows that women migrating for work grew by 101 per cent — more than double the growth rate for men (48.7 per cent)
  3. However, both the Census and National Sample Survey Office have failed to capture this trend
  4. These continue to cite marriage as the primary reason for women migration
    The main issue
  5. Consequently, such surveys treat women as secondary earners and ignore her other motivations for migration and her labour participation post migration

The problems faced by women migrants

  1. They remain mostly discriminated in the workforce and invariably suffer economic exclusion
  2. Denied maternity benefits or special care and more vulnerable to sexual harassment, these women migrants are more likely to be paid less than male migrants and non-migrant women
  3. In addition to low pay and inhuman working conditions

Low-skilled women migrants often get work that is saddled with health hazards

  1. According to a study by Cividep, garment workers in Bengaluru, comprising 90 per cent women migrants
  2. They often suffer from respiratory illness, tuberculosis, ergonomic problems like back pain, mental health problems such as depression
  3. and reproductive health issues such as white discharge, irregular periods and excessive bleeding

What should be done?

  1. The first step should be better data collection
  2. Capturing the complex dynamics of gender-specific migration would improve the visibility of women as economic actors and help the state respond better to their needs
  3. Aadhaar card to women migrants can ensure her access to basic needs, opening of Jan Dhan accounts and availing benefits of the National Health Protection Mission

We can learn from other countries

  1. India can learn from countries such as Austria, Belgium, Norway, Romania, UK, etc which provide vocational training to improve employability of women migrants and access to support services
  2. The “We the Women” programme of Vietnam that helped create job opportunities for women migrants is also worth studying
    Indian Example
  3. States should emulate Kerala which provide insurance and free medical treatment for its 30 million migrant workers

The way forward

  1. Women migrants have a right to equal access to employment, adequate income and social protection
  2. An inclusive National Urban Policy should integrate migration and the needs of migrants(in particular women migrants)
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Miles to go: The bankruptcy code

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached stories

Mains level: The issues discussed in the newscard regarding the IBC.


News

The new bankruptcy code yields its first success

  1. Tata Steel acquired 73% stake in the bankrupt firm Bhushan Steel for about Rs. 35,000 crore last week, making it the first major resolution of a bankruptcy case under the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)
  2. Bhushan Steel was one among the 12 major accounts referred to the National Company Law Tribunal at the behest of the Reserve Bank of India last year to ease the burden of bad loans on banks

Expectations of the Finance Ministry from Banks

  1. The Finance Ministry now expects banks to recover more than Rs. 1 lakh crore from the resolution of the other cases referred by the RBI to the NCLT
    Possible benefits
  2. If the banks do indeed recover funds of this scale, it would considerably reduce the burden on taxpayers
  3. Even more important, speedy resolution would free valuable assets to be used for wealth-creation

Many challenges are still there

  1. The resolution of one high-profile case, however, should not deflect attention from the many challenges still plaguing the bankruptcy resolution process
  2. The IBC, as the government itself has admitted, remains a work in progress

Some issues with the present IBC

  1. The issues such as the proposed eligibility criteria for bidders have left it bogged down and suppressed its capacity to help out creditors efficiently
  2. Also, the strict time limit for the resolution process as mandated by the IBC is an area that has drawn much attention,
  3. and it merits further review in order to balance the twin objectives of speedy resolution and maximising recovery for the lenders

The way forward

  1. Going forward, amendments to the bankruptcy code should primarily be driven by the goal of maximising the sale price of stressed assets
  2. This requires a robust market for stressed assets that is free from all kinds of entry barriers

[op-ed snap] The impact of rising oil prices on Indian economy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Impact of rising crude oil prices on CAD, fiscal deficit, etc.


News

India was a key beneficiary of falling crude oil prices between 2013 and 2015

  1. Some research had indicated that almost the entire reduction of about 0.6% of the GDP in India’s fiscal deficit between FY14 and FY16 could be attributed to the sharp fall in crude prices
  2. Lower crude prices also contributed to the narrower current account deficit
  3. But the pass-through of the fall in crude prices to retail consumers was limited
    (the government retained a large part of the benefits by hiking excise duty on retail fuel products)

Risk of rising crude prices

  1. With the US’ decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal and to re-impose sanctions on Iran, upside risks to crude prices cannot be ruled out

Possible impact of higher crude prices on the Indian economy

  1. We can conclude that higher crude prices will adversely affect the twin deficits of the economy(fiscal and current account deficit)
  2. It will also have impact on the monetary policy, and consumption and investment behaviour in the economy

Possible reasons behind this increase

  1. According to the recent World Economic Outlook (WEO) by the IMF, roughly 80% of the recent oil price increase was caused by deterioration in supply conditions
  2. This, however, is not the only study on the factors leading to higher crude prices
  3. The “Oil Price Dynamics” report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that less than two-fifth of the rise in oil prices since the beginning of 2018 was on account of supply-side factors
  4. These contrasting studies lead to uncertainty regarding the sustainability of higher crude prices

Data on fiscal conditions

  1. An increase of $10 per barrel in crude prices will lead to an increase of about Rs17,000 crore (or $2.5 billion at an exchange rate of 67/$) in fuel subsidies, equivalent to 0.09% of GDP
  2. In the Union Budget 2018-19, the government had budgeted for petroleum subsidy of Rs25,000 crore, similar to that in FY18

Impact on Current Account of deficit

  1. An increase of $10 per barrel in crude oil prices will lead to an adverse impact of $10-11 billion (or 0.4% of GDP) on current account deficit
  2. There are two opposite forces at work in current account deficit. Higher oil prices will push the import bill higher;
  3. however, it will be partly offset by higher oil exports and better remittances

Possible impact on inflation

  1. With a weightage of only 2.4% in headline CPI, the adverse impact will entirely depend on the extent to which higher crude oil prices are passed on to the consumers
  2. Considering the general election next year
  3. and thus, the direct impact on CPI inflation is likely to remain muted

Camera traps record rare black panther in Odisha

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the black panther

Mains level: The recording of the presence of the Panther is an important incidence.


News

Recording the presence of Black Panther

  1. The wildlife wing of Odisha’s Forest and Environment Department has recorded the presence of a black panther in a forest in Sundargarh district
  2. The photographs make Odisha the ninth State in India where the elusive and rare big cat has been seen

Why is it important?

  1. Although the presence of black panther was reported 26 years ago, no scientific or pictorial records could establish the claim

Some important facts regarding the panther

  1. The leopards’ skins vary in colour and the jet black melanistic form is called black panther
  2. It is as shy as a normal leopard and very difficult to detect
  3. It is mostly found in densely forested areas of southern India

Presence of the panther is also reported from other parts of the country

  1. Black panthers have also been reported from
    (1) Kerala (Periyar Tiger Reserve),
    (2) Karnataka (Bhadra Tiger Reserve,
    (3) Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve and Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary),
    (4)  Chhattisgarh (Achanakmar Tiger Reserve),
    (5) Maharashtra (Satara),
    (6) Goa (Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary),
    (7) Tamil Nadu (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve),
    (8) Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

Back2basics

Black panther

  1. A black panther is the melanistic color variant of any big cat species
  2. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (Panthera pardus),
  3. and those in the Americas are black jaguars (Panthera onca)
Indian Missile Program Updates

India successfully test-fires BrahMos missile along Odisha coast

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the BRAHMOS missile, Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

Mains level: Strategic importance for India to expand its missile programme


News

New Indigenous Technology in BrahMos

  1. India successfully test-fired the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a test range along the Odisha coast to validate some new features
  2. The missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher stationed at Launchpad 3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur
  3. The trial was conducted to validate its “life extension” technologies developed for the first time in India by DRDO and team BrahMos
  4. The world-class BrahMos is the first weapon system whose life has been extended from 10 years to 15 years
  5. The successful test will result in huge savings of replacement cost of missiles held in the inventory of the Indian Armed Forces

Old variants

  1. Induction of the first version of BrahMos missile system in Indian Navy began with INS Rajput in 2005
  2. The two-stage missile—first being solid and the second one, a ramjet liquid propellant—has already been introduced in the Army and Navy

Induction in IAF

  1. India successfully launched the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30 MKI combat jet for the first time against a target in the Bay of Bengal in November 2017
  2. At least two Su-30 squadrons with 20 planes each are planned to be equipped with the air-launch variant BrahMos missile, 500kg lighter than land/naval variants

Expanding range after MTCR

  1. Increasing the missile’s range from 400km to further 800km is now possible after India’s induction into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016
  2. Prior to that, India was bound by restrictions that limited the range of the missile, which is an Indo-Russian joint venture product, to less than 300km
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries Space Technology

Nasa prepares drone for 2020 Mars rover mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the chopper

Mains level: Importance of the mission


News

The Mars Helicopter

  1. It will be a small, self-flying aircraft designed specifically for the Red Planet
  2. It will be included in the NASA’s next rover mission in 2020 to beam back a birds-eye view of Martian terrain
  3. According to the NASA, the chopper is “a high-risk, high-reward project”

Controlling system of the chopper

  1. Each of the planned flights on Mars will last as long as 90 seconds
  2. The Nasa aircraft will be controlled through commands relayed from the rover, and will be powered by solar-charged batteries

Why is this mission important for future manned missions?

  1. The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers
  2. The views from a helicopter flying across Mars will also provide Nasa with a stellar public relations tool as it seeks international support for sending humans to the planet in the 2030s or later

MHA agency to ensure crime scene videography

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the COB

Mains level: Aim of the COB


News

Central oversight body (COB)

  1. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set up a central oversight body (COB)
  2. Aim: To ensure use of videography at crime scenes and video-recording of statements of witnesses in an effort to prevent botch-up at the crime scene and hostile witnesses, particularly in high-profile cases

Implementation strategy for the first phase

  1. The Home Ministry will ensure use of videography at crime scene in the selected cities and states within the next three months
  2. Cities with a population of 50 lakh or more, along with at least one district of every remaining state or Union Territory, will be taken up for the project in its first phase

Centre’s proposal for the state

  1. As per the proposal, the states will have to introduce digital cameras and establish secured portals, and investigation officers can email photographs taken at the crime scene to these portals
  2. The MHA has also suggested that the states set up an oversight mechanism, an independent committee to study CCTV footage installed to check human rights abuse at police stations
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc. Basic Sciences

[op-ed snap] Electric vehicles don’t need a government push

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The newscard discusses some issues related to the (possible) early adoption of the EVs in India.


News

Context

  1. EVs are the future, but the investments are still risky and rushing the change could leave us with an overpriced fleet of early-generation vehicles

Government is considering some exemptions

  1. Government has recently announced that the government is considering
    (1) exemption from permits, concessional toll,
    (2) a rate of depreciation of 50% as against the prevailing 15% for conventional vehicles,
    (3) lowering of the goods and services tax on batteries and
    (4) a rule mandating taxi aggregators to have a certain percentage of EVs in their fleet
  2. Government has spoken about making the public transport system fully electric through the second phase of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) scheme
  3. It’s possible that some of these plans will not materialize

Important issue related to the EVs: Pricing

  1. EVs are superior to internal combustion engines, but also expensive
  2. Therefore, incentives to purchase EVs, as well as procurement of EVs for public transport, could be fiscally expensive, and we might end up with an overpriced fleet of early-generation vehicles
  3. Suggestion: Just like early smartphones, a better idea would be to wait until the rich nations buy sufficient volumes of the products on offer, and bring prices down

An all-electric fleet of buses is an expensive solution to the problem: A World Bank study

  1. A World Bank study on the cost effectiveness of electric and hybrid buses in developing countries concluded that
  2. in order to tackle air pollution, the policy goal should be to incentivise more people to leave their cars at home

Government should be cautious

  1. The government should avoid regulating the supply of infrastructure with arbitrary prescriptions and subsidies
  2. While everyone agrees that charging infrastructure is essential to the success of EVs, whether there should be a charging station at every five kilometres or 10 cannot be known in advance
  3. Factors such as the driving range of vehicles, private charging capabilities of users and charging speed will determine the number and location of charging stations
  4. Similarly, shifts in technology(such as wireless charging, solid state batteries or a transition to hydrogen fuel cells) will have to be anticipated as these might render existing infrastructure obsolete

The way forward

  1. The government needs to focus on the less appealing, but more effective solutions
  2. Choosing new technologies is the task of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, not the government
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc. Human Resource Development

Online resource for academicians soon

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMMMNMTT

Mains level: Initiatives towards improving the accessibility of educational resources to enhance research and teaching


News

A Portal to connect with experts, access books and journals in their fields of study

  1. University and college teachers across the country will soon be able to connect with experts in their fields of study and also pose queries on academic questions that they wish resolved through suggestions offered by these experts or other teachers of their discipline.
  2. A National Resource Centre, envisaged as a one-stop point for Indian academicians to enhance their research and teaching skills, will make such cooperation across universities possible with the launch of a portal within months from now
  3. The National Institute of Educational Research and Planning (NIEPA) is in the process of rolling out the centre
  4. The initiative is part of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Training (PMMMNMTT)

Particulars of the Portal

  1. The center will enable college and university teachers to access a detailed database of academic resources, including lists of books, top journals and subject experts in their area of interest
  2. It will also suggest a mechanism to higher education institutions to assess students’ satisfaction with teaching and research in the institutions so that the faculties are able to figure out what students think about their college/university and make improvements
  3. NIEPA will hold a series of intensive workshops with experts in various disciplines in the next two months to put together an effective resource centre, said an official who did not want to be named
  4. The PMMMNMTT calls for a National Resource Centre to be “set up with the vision of developing teachers who are able to enhance their potential and push the frontiers of knowledge through research, networking, and sharing of existing resources in the competitive knowledge world”
  5. The portal will be launched with detailed information on resources in some key subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology
  6. Education and Management will also feature among the chosen disciplines
President’s Rule Indian Polity

What is the S.R. Bommai case, and why is it quoted often?

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Polity| Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Particulars of the SR Bommai Case Judgement, Art. 356

Mains Level: Issues about the use and misuse of Art. 356. (Attached story will help understand the issue better)


News

Who was S.R. Bommai?

  1. S.R. Bommai was the Chief Minister of the Janata Dal government in Karnataka between August 13, 1988 and April 21, 1989
  2. His government was dismissed on April 21, 1989, under Article 356 of the Constitution and President’s Rule was imposed, in what is then a mostly common mode to keep Opposition parties at bay
  3. The dismissal was on grounds that the Bommai government had lost majority following large-scale defections engineered by several party leaders of the day
  4. Then Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah refused to give Bommai an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly despite the latter presenting him with a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal Legislature Party

What happened then?

  1. Bommai went to court against the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule
  2. First, he moved the Karnataka High Court, which dismissed his writ petition
  3. Then he moved the Supreme Court

What did the Supreme Court do?

  1. The case, which would go on to become one of the most cited whenever hung Assemblies were returned, and parties scrambled to form a government, took almost five years to see a logical conclusion
  2. On March 11, 1994, a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court issued the historic order, which in a way put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments under Article 356 by spelling out restrictions

What did the judgment say?

  1. The verdict concluded that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute
  2. The verdict said the President should exercise the power only after his proclamation (imposing his/her rule) is approved by both Houses of Parliament
  3. Till then, the Court said, the President can only suspend the Legislative Assembly by suspending the provisions of Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly
  4. The dissolution of Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course
  5. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation

What happens if the Presidential proclamation is not approved by the Parliament?

  1. In case both Houses of Parliament disapprove or do not approve the Proclamation, the Proclamation lapses at the end of the two-month period. In such a case, the government which was dismissed revives
  2. The Legislative Assembly, which may have been kept in suspended animation gets reactivated
  3. Also, the Court made it amply clear that a Presidential Proclamation under Article 356 is subject to judicial review.

What is the significance of the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case?

  1. The case put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government
  2. And the verdict also categorically ruled that the floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor, who is often referred to as the agent of the Central government

When the verdict’s impact was first seen?

  1. In one of the first instances of the impact of the case, the A.B. Vajpayee government in 1999 was forced to reinstate a government it dismissed
  2. The Rabri Devi government, which was sacked on February 12, 1999, was reinstated on March 8, 1999, when it became clear that the Central government would suffer a defeat in the Rajya Sabha over the issue
  3. And later whenever the case of a hung Assembly, and the subsequent exercise of government formation, came up, the Bommai case would be cited, making it one of the most quoted verdicts in the country’s political history
President’s Rule Indian Polity

Governor’s discretion cannot be arbitrary or fanciful: SC Constitution Bench

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Art. 180(1), Powers and discretion of Pro-tem Speaker

Mains level: Frequent issues concerned with Hung Assembly


News

Appointing a pro-tem Speaker

  1. Article 180 (1) of the Constitution gives the Governor the power to appoint a pro-tem Speaker
  2. The Article says that if the chair of the Speaker falls vacant and there is no Deputy Speaker to fill the position, the duties of the office shall be performed “by such member of the Assembly as the Governor may appoint for the purpose”
  3. The Supreme Court ordered the appointment of a pro-tem Speaker to conduct a floor test to decide the majority in the hung Karnataka Assembly

Article 180 (1) is silent about the extent to which the Governor can use his discretion

  1. The Governor’s appointment of Mr. Bopaiah is being defended by quoting Article 163(2) of the Constitution
  2. The latter part of this Article mandates that “the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion

What SC ruled out in Nabam Rebia Judgement, 2016

  1. The Rebia case dealt with the problem of the Arunachal Pradesh Governor advancing the date for the sixth Assembly session in the northeastern State.
  2. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar in the Nabam Rebia judgment of 2016 ruled that Article 163 does not give Governors a “general discretionary power” as is often misunderstood
  3. The area for the exercise of his (Governor) discretion is limited
  4. Even this limited area, his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered by caution
  5. In his speech on the constitutional role of Governors, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar described how a Governor should use his discretion not as “representative of a party” but as “the representative of the people as a whole of the State” 

Issues with the Speaker’s Appointment

  1. One of the issues which may arise is whether or not the discretion of the Governor can be judicially reviewed by the Supreme Court
  2. But a Constitution Bench judgement in 2006 in the Rameshwar Prasad Case has held that the “immunity granted to the Governor under Article 361 (1) does not affect the power of the Court to judicially scrutinise the attack made to the proclamation issued under Article 361(1) of the Constitution of India on the ground of mala fides or it being ultra vires”

Justified the Powers of Pro-tem Speaker

  1. The powers of a pro-tem Speaker are wide
  2. The Bombay High Court in its 1994 judgment in the Surendra Vassant Sirsat Case holds that a pro-tem is Speaker of the House “for all purposes with all powers, privileges and immunities” until the Speaker is elected
  3. The Odisha High Court also agreed in the Godavari Misra versus Nandakisore Das, Speaker, Orissa Legislative Assembly case when it said the powers of the Speaker pro-tem are co-extensive with the powers of elected Speaker
  4. The proceedings of the Legislature chaired by the Speaker pro-tem are as much protected under the Constitution as those chaired by the elected Speaker
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