International Org. | Part 4 | BRICS and India


Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are leading emerging economies and political powers at the regional and international level.

When? 2008. They had their first official meeting in 2009

Origin:

  • The acronym, BRIC, was coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs way back in 2001
  • He predicted that by year 2050, Brazil, Russia, India and China would become bigger than the 6 most industrialized nations in dollar terms and would completely change the power dynamics of the last 300 years
  • It was pointed out that high growth rates, economic potential and demographic development were going to put BRICS further in a lead position

Why is BRICS suddenly so important?

The idea of development bank (NDB) and Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) has strengthen BRICS as a grouping

Both of these concepts were formalised over in 2015 (@BRICS summit at Fortaleza and Brasilia) and this was seen as a strong signal to the challenge of western dominated discourses in some forums (IMF, WB)

We will get to these details in a short while but since these developments happened in 2015, the IAS aspirants from 2016 onwards are required to sweat blood in order to be on top of this theme (kidding!)

What prompted the need for emergence of BRICS? 

Most multilateral institutions were designed in the era when the West dominated the world. The US and Europe are over-represented in the IMF and the World Bank. Together with Japan, they control most regional development banks as well! That’s a big bad bully in making, right?

The main reason for co-operation to start among the BRICs nation was the financial crises of 2008

The crises raised scepticism on the dollar dominated monetary system and the need for participation by non-G7 countries became evident. If you don’t know about G7, click this wiki page to know the countries involved

What reform did BRICS want out of the multilateral institutions?

Since their inception in 1944, the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and World Bank) had not reformed their governance structure, to give more voting and voice to emerging economies. Both dominated by USA and developed countries. Both were out of sync with the new dynamics of world economy

The BRICs called for the “the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play

BRICS managed to push for institutional reform which led to International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform in 2010 (although, it met with limited success as United States Congress did not ratify)!

Three new terms? Bretton Woods, Quota reforms, 2008 financial crisis. We will get to them later.

So, essentially, BRICS opened up a possibility for countries of the global South to challenge the global North. When the quota reforms were quashed in 2010, BRICS moved towards enlarging their spheres of cooperation. We will talk about the BRICS bank at a later stage.

Advantage India?

Now that NAM (Non-alignment) is almost defunct and very little wealth is left in the Commonwealth, BRICS provide a great alternate for India to build its global profile.

But don’t we have a G 20 group to further India’s interest in the global arena? Yes, that’s another big one (besides UN).

G 20 is a bloc of developing nations established on 20 August 2003. The G-20 accounts for – 60% of the world’s population, 70% of its farmers and 26% of world’s agricultural exports.

India has tried to use BRICS as a forum to engage China as the latter has become the largest market for the fast-industrializing countries of East Asia. India wants to resolve the age-old mis trust and complicated relationship between the two countries since the 1962 war between them.

What are the factors that will bolster co-operation among BRICS members?

Firstly, the common need among developing countries to construct economic order that reflects current situation will drive the BRICS’ efforts. In this matter, the idea of NDB and CRA are defining and will have a huge geo-economic and geopolitical impact

Secondly, the BRICS alternative idea in the landscape of global governance will attract support from other countries. There have been suggestions by political analysts that BRICS may expand its member quota

Thirdly, the expansion of BRICS interaction to other sector will make it more strong partnership

Lastly, Chinese support to BRICS will make sure that group remains a force to reckon with in the future

Chinese support – interesting point. Some would say that a lot depends on how China carries its might behind BRICS for the time to come.

Some concerns regarding the future of BRICS

  1. Competition within themselves – The BRICS countries aspire to be regional powers and hence at some point will compete with each other
  2. Different forms of governance – They have different political systems with Brazil, India and South Africa being democracies while Russia and China having authoritarian characteristics. It would be interesting to see how policy consensus is brought about!
  3. Trade conflicts, maybe? Brazil and Russia are commodity exporting countries and thus benefit from high commodity prices while India and China are commodity importers that benefit from low commodity prices
  4. Territorial Issues – China and India have outstanding territorial issues to resolve and India looks askance to any institution that has Chinese domination. Russia looks suspiciously at China’s interest in its sparsely populated far eastern of Siberia
  5. The big daddy China – China spearheads three other major initiatives in this region – One Belt One Road (OBOR), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and SCO. You should know that the 7th BRICS summit was held as a joint summit with SCO. BRICS has to find a reckoning space among them to keep china’s interests alive!

Parting words on BRICS (more mirch masala)

All that UPSC want from an IAS aspirant is: Analysis, analysis, analysis. These are some of the fodder points that you can use in any answer involving BRICS and world arena.

Engaging China has been one of the important components of India’s foreign policy in recent years, considering that co-operation and negotiations with China is imperative to clearing the mistrust between the two countries.

Geostrategically, BRICS are now represented on all continents of the global south. In bilateral and regional agreements, the BRICS emphasize south-south solidarity and horizontal cooperation in contrast to western dominance.

Yet, in global fora such as G20, UN Security Council or World Climate Conferences, BRICS claim to speak on behalf of the developing world (whether they actually do represent these countries is disputable) and gradually challenge western supremacy in international politics.


 

Phew. This was a long one! Did we cover everything? Nope. We will cover later

  1. Latest BRICS summit
  2. All about the BRICS Bank (NDB) & Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA)
  3. Comparison of BRICS Bank with AIIB (another master stroke by China)

Want to read more?


 

UPSC ke sawaal

#1. With reference to a grouping of countries known as BRICS, consider the following statements: (IAS Prelims 2014)

1. The First Summit of BRICS was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2009.
2. South Africa was the last to join the BRICS grouping.

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
#2. The ‘Fortaleza Declaration’, recently in the news, is related to the affairs of ((IAS Prelims 2015)
(a) ASEAN
(b) BRICS
(c) OECD
(d) WTO

#3. With reference to BRIC countries, consider the following statements (IAS Prelims 2010)
1. At present, China’s GDP is more than the combined GDP of all the three other countries.
2. China’s population is more than the combined population of any two other countries.
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

 

International Org. | Part 3 | SCO & India

This post is a part of an ongoing series to help IAS aspirants prepare for International Relations.

As of July 2015, India has been accorded full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Pakistan at its Ufa summit held in Russia.

  • SCO is a Eurasian economic, political and military organisation
  • HQ: Beijing, China
  • Established: 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders 6 countries viz. China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
  • Since 2005, India was having an Observer status of SCO and had applied for full membership in 2014. India would be finally ratified in the member list by 2016

Connecting the dots with SCO

Per Chinese and Russian scholars, creation of SCO helped address the security problems and enhance economic cooperation in the Central Asia region. The Western discourse, however, has tended to see the SCO as a mechanism to counter-balance the influence of the United States in the region. Both are correct!

SCO is considered and tagged as anti-west. Behind the veils, it is alleged that SCO is going to be a NATO like military alliance in East. You might expect a question on that line and be asked to put India’s context in place.

However, China exaggeratedly says that the SCO was founded on a principle of non-alignment and functions as an effective stabilizer for regional security and peace. China has always maintained that the focus of SCO is on combating the “three evil forces” – terrorism, separatism, and extremism – and other unconventional security menaces.

Advantage India?

There are multiple benefits for India as well as the SCO which is concerned with security and stability in the Eurasian space.

  1. India’s presence will help moderate the anti-West bias of the grouping, which will calm Washington’s nerves to a considerable extent
  2. Greater engagement with India will also aid the organisation’s capability to improve regional economic prosperity and security
  3. Membership will give India an opportunity to play an active role in China’s Silk Road initiative which plans to link a new set of routes from the north and east of the country to an old network of routes in the greater Eurasian region.
  4. Indian interest in International North-South Transport Corridor to connect Mumbai with Abbas port in Iran. This route is shorter than the existing Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea
  5. SCO may also serve as guarantor for projects such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipelines, which are held by India due to security concerns.

India’s entry is also likely to tip the balance of power in favor of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Challenges ahead for SCO?

It is naive to expect that India’s differences with China regarding the border or its ties with Pakistan will magically disappear. The inclusion of Pakistan in the SCO will also make it difficult for India to enjoy a level playing field.

Pakistan, which is embroiled in a domestic political crisis, may not be so willing to challenge hardliners in its country, and go along with India in promoting peace and stability in the Eurasian space. We have seen how Indo-Pak presence in SAARC makes it difficult to ink key pacts.

The clash of interests in a post – 2014 Afghanistan makes prospects of cooperation difficult. There is also a possibility that China may collude with Pakistan to suffocate India’s voice in the decision making process.

Other than that, India will have to balance the geopolitical ambitions of China and Russia to evolve a mutually beneficial framework.


 

Further readings:

SCO becomes a reasonably hot topic post India’s accession to the member status. If you are comfortable with IR, try these articles  –

International Org. | Part 2 | SAARC (30+ years in existence)

We discussed MGC and BIMSTEC in the last post here. We covered both of them in one single post and there is a reason for it.

Rule of thumb for assigning importance to an organisation (for IAS Mains or Pre)

  • Who are the participating countries? Are they heavyweights?
  • Any observers? When an international organisation catches interest, lot of countries line up for an observer status. This is a litmus test for the growing importance and credibility of an organisation because the world is starting to take notice!
  • Was the organisation in news recently? A mild yes? Prelims worthy. If embroiled in some controversies (prolonged dialogues), then Mains worthy!

As of Feb 2016, MGC has 6 member countries & 0 observers. BIMSTEC has 7 member countries & 0 observers.

But our next guest – SAARC, has  8 member countries and 9 observers (including China, US, EU, Japan).

The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) completed 3 decades of its existence in 2015. While it is impossible to compress its evolution in a single post, we will do well to get you upto speed and be aware of the major controversies surrounding SAARC (analysis, analysis and more analysis).

When? 1985

Origins:

Member countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC as its eighth member state in April 2007.

Observers – States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States

After independence, the countries of South Asia, which under British colonial rule, functioned like a composite whole that had both transport linkages and economic inter-dependence, wanted to portray a more independent image.

They began functioning as autonomous economic units with protective trade regimes for the fear of political, economic autonomy in the region. These countries were often mired in bilateral conflicts (Indo – Pak, Pak – B.Desh) and that took a toll on region’s growth and prosperity. Hence, SAARC charter was build around a common goal of improving the foreign relations within the region.

As a founding philosophy, SAARC prudently kept bilateral contentious issues out of the scope of the regional cooperation. It was believed that the inclusion of bilateral issues would hamper multilateral initiatives. SAARC was not set up as a bilateral dispute settlement mechanism. Did that really help evolve SAARC into a better organisation? We shall see.

Why do nations come together to form groupings?

Short answer – Economics & power struggle!

Long answer

  1. Nepal – had difficulties with India on various issues. Harnessing Nepal’s river water was one of the key considerations. Nepal wanted to diversify technical cooperation on hydroelectricity with other countries (to avoid complete dependence on India)
  2. Bangladesh – Another country which was suspicious of India and wanted to diversify its foreign relations. At that time Bangladesh had serious problems with India on the issue of the sharing of the Ganga water. Even though bilateral struggles were kept outside the purview of SAARC, Bangladesh had a hope to become a major player in the region
  3. Sri Lanka – was initially reluctant to join SAARC. However, due to its own ethnic crisis it became interested in the association expecting it would help assuage some of its apprehensions regarding India
  4. Pakistan – Only one goal – counter India’s influence
  5. Bhutan & Afghanistan – Let’s leave them for time being!

Feel good about India’s overarching influence in the region for a moment.

What were the mandates for SAARC and how far has it come to fulfill them?

The SAARC Charter clearly lays down that cooperation among member-states will be based on sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence and non-interference in internal affairs.

The Charter further states that such cooperation will not be an obstacle to other bilateral or multilateral cooperation or be inconsistent with them.

Brings us back to the point that SAARC chose to keep bilateral disputes out of discussion and focus on the multilateral (economic, strategic) issues. This did not always work in its favour. Smaller member countries often found it difficult to overcome their political goals and limited national agendas. This often stalled progress.

Want to read about one such issue with SAARC?

How does SAARC carries on with its activities?

On the administration side, the SAARC Secretariat established in Kathmandu is supported by Regional Centres established in Member States. They are quite a few and not so relevant for your exam prep. Suffice to say that, SAARC members are supposed to meet every year (Annual Summits).

In the last 30 years, we have witnessed 18 summits. The last one was held at Kathmandu in 2014 and the motto was – ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’.

 The 19th SAARC summit is to be held in Pakistan sometime in 2016.

How did the 18th Summit (2014) go?

  1. The theme of the summit was “Deeper Integration for peace and prosperity.” But member countries failed to sign two major agreements on rail and road connectivity
  2. The pact on energy was signed though! This will enable greater cooperation in the power sector
  3. Why were the rail and road connectivity agreements not signed? Pakistan held back, saying it still had to complete its “internal processes” regarding these pacts
  4. Any new initiative proposed by India? 
    • India promised to launch a satellite for the region by SAARC Day in 2016
    • Set up a Special Purpose facility in India to finance infrastructure projects in the region
    • Ease business visas by launching a SAARC business traveller card
    • Suggestions for establishing a SAARC regional Supra Reference laboratory to fight common diseases (TB, HIV)

China’s intrusion into SAARC?

  1. Pakistan called for a more prominent role for observers in the future—mostly China
  2. Nepal and Sri Lanka also support this, and China itself is actively seeking a greater role in SAARC
  3. India responded by saying that economic cooperation between the existing members must be strengthened before expanding membership. Close shave!

Comparing ASEAN with SAARC

#1. SAARC is a lost cause – The motivation for launching these two forums – ASEAN (for south east asia) & SAARC (for south asia) were almost similar. Both were guided by a common hope to resolve disputes and a thirst for economic growth.

Asean members had serious interstate disputes which they decided to forget. On the other hand, Saarc members insisted that disputes be resolved first, before economic cooperation could start. Asean nations were inclined to be trading nations; Saarc nations were inclined to be warlike. Asean moved to conflict-avoidance mechanisms; Saarc refused to discuss bilateral disputes.

Saarc had to suffer an Indo-Pakistan war at Kargil started by Pakistan in 1999, which prevented three Saarc summits from taking place. India has given Pakistan the most favoured nation status but Pakistan has not reciprocated.

#2. It’s unfair to compare SAARC with ASEAN – The ASEAN countries did not have contested ideologies, such as the one based on two-nation theory (Indo-Pak). The countries comprising ASEAN came together to defend themselves from the communist threat. Such external threat was absent in the case of SAARC. Rather as you see above, India was considered as a threat by some member countries.

Fair enough! Let’s move to the economics of SAARC.

South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and the complexities surrounding it

New to FTAs/ PTAs/ trade agreements in general? Read about the different types of trade agreements.

Safta was signed by the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries in January 2004, in Islamabad. The agreement was a migration from SAPTA to SAFTA (Preferential to Free).

India allows duty-free access to goods from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.We also reduced the ‘sensitive list’ it maintains for these countries to 25 items.

South Asian countries in general have competitive economies. The trade structure is mostly tilted towards primary goods. The countries of the region in general target their finished goods to foreign markets. Primary products are goods that are available from cultivating raw materials without a manufacturing process.

SAFTA was expected to bring down illegal trade

It was expected that SAFTA would bring much of the illegal trade in the region to the official level boosting all-round regional trade figures. Due to the lowering of tariff, many of the high custom duty items that are smuggled would become part of official trade. But that did not happen (to the satisfaction).

As reality would have it, SAFTA faces an existential dilemma

  1. The volume of trade in actual terms (between SAARC nations) could is very small
  2. Intra-regional trade is still at a dismal 5% — compared to 66% for the EU and about 25% for the ASEAN. Read more – here
  3. The countries of South Asia have long negative lists and their protective trade regimes inhibit free flow of goods. Negative lists = lists of items kept outside the purview of agreement
  4. Such obstacles and restrictions have given rise to smuggling and unofficial trade
  5. The ‘rule of origin’ is a problematic clause since there are no efficient mechanisms to monitor and certify goods originating from the member countries

What’s the silver lining for SAARC?

Thankfully, with India pursuing its “Act East policy” with a new vigour, all is not lost. If you have been a regular with the Civilsdaily App’s Newscards, we have been closely following Indo-SAARC updates:

If you have 20 minutes to spare, watch this RSTV sponsored discourse on 30 years of SAARC


 

This post is a part of an ongoing series – An IAS Aspirant’s guide to cracking International Relations

International Org. | Part 1 | Mekong Ganga Cooperation and BIMSTEC

This post continues from the series on International Relations for IAS Prep. Read the essential posts here –

Of late, UPSC has developed a knack of asking factual questions involving India’s membership status/ important reports/ foundation year etc. Here’s a quick mind map to set you up with bare basics of the asia region. We will cover each and every one of them in great detail to help you understand their origins and evolutions (wrt. India).


#1. Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC)

When? 2000

Origins: An initiative by 6 countries – India and 5 ASEAN countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam

Relevance and Evolution

Both the Ganga and the Mekong are civilizational rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contacts among the people inhabiting these two major river basins. Key areas of cooperation under MGC were tourism, culture, education, and transport & communications.

Despite ASEAN’s rhetoric and posturing, it remains a weak organisation incapable of handling serious challenges, economic or strategic. There has been a proliferation of trade groups carrying many (confusing!) acronyms.

With India’s elevated status in ASEAN by 2012, the time is ripe to enter the Mekong Region. Apart from reinforcing India’s security, it will remove economic isolation of the North East Region (NER).

There is a lack of connectivity between India, Myanmar and beyond and hence a need to build connecting corridors. Unlike the European Union, with nascent Asian economies we have to follow the “hub and spoke” process which impedes in the trade process.

Latest developments:

India hosted the 6th MGC Ministerial Meeting on September 4, 2012. New Areas of Cooperation added in the 6th MGC –

  1. Conservation of Rice GermPlasm – A new area of mutually beneficial cooperation in rice production techniques and downstream processing projects
  2. Enhancing cooperation among SME – India circulated a concept paper
  3. Health – Aim is to strengthen the region’s capacity to respond to the menace of drug resistant malaria and other such emerging public health threats
  4. Common Archival Resource Centre (CARC) at Nalanda University

#2. Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

When? 1997 | HQ: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Origins: BIMSTEC started off as the Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation Group in 1997. Myanmar joined in 1997, while Nepal and Bhutan joined in 2004 when the first summit was held in Bangkok.

Relevance and Evolution

BIMSTEC is said to have been encouraged by India’s Look East Policy (LEP) and Thailand’s Look West Policy.

BIMSTEC was seen as a vital bridge between SAARC and ASEAN. Myanmar and Thailand are already in ASEAN while Japan is Thailand’s second-biggest export destination.

But in the present context, when the members of BIMSTEC have acquired memberships in various other regional/sub-regional organisations which also promote cooperation at different levels, it might not end up being that fruitful an organisation (that it was intended up to be).

BIMSTEC identified 14 priority areas where a member country takes lead. India is lead country for – 

  • Transport & Communication
  • Tourism
  • Environment & Disaster Management
  • Counter Terrorism & Transnational Crime

Advantage India?

Pakistan and China do not form member countries and this grouping provides India an opportunity to increase its sphere of influence.

India should be more proactive towards BIMSTEC to make its LEP 3.0 a success. BIMSTEC could help India to further increase its cooperation with countries located around the Bay of Bengal along with two of its adjuncts, namely Malacca Straits and Andaman Sea.

Transport & Communication being one of the priority focus areas – Better integration with North East region & East Asian economies is a theme to look forward to.

What has India done for BIMSTEC?

India and Thailand are the two main (rich) partners of BIMSTEC. With Thailand mostly embroiled in controversies, India is looked upon to take a lead and act as a catalyst. Remember the lead areas with India? Transport, Tourism, Environment  & Terrorism.

The last meeting (3rd Summit) @Nay Pyi Taw (New Capital of Myanmar) did not see any major outcomes, but a few of worth of mentioning here are –

  1. 2015 was declared as the Year of BIMSTEC Tourism
  2. The framework agreement on the BIMSTEC FTA was signed in 2004, but it is not yet fully operational. Read more here
  3. Ratify conventions related to other areas of responsibilities

TIP: Whenever you think about the advantage of our associations with our north eastern neighbouring countries, think of two things –

  1. Transportation woes
  2. Fighting crime syndicates (terrorism, smuggling, narcotics and what not)

Consequently, our associations with them will look to establish new roads, routes and pacts to counter them. Of course, there is a lot in common with culture and agricultural produce etc etc. but you get the bigger picture right?

One such project is Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar. It was supposed to be completed by 2015, but sigh.

Time to Energize BIMSTEC

How long can SAARC (30+ year old organisation) wait for India and Pakistan to sort out their bilateral issues and push forward for the broader agenda of regional economic cooperation?

Given the current state of India-Pakistan relations, it is unlikely that Pakistan will agree to even a minimal set of economic cooperation arrangements within the SAARC framework, as was evident in Kathmandu when it refused to sign the multi-modal road and rail transport agreement. (Source – The Diplomat).

The most important driver is going to be the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area. While a Framework Agreement has been signed, it has yet to come into force. What is FTA? Read this post on trade agreement first. 

Point being that India needs to reallocate its priority with the new surge @ Act East and get the best out of these regional groupings where it can play a natural leader.


UPSC ke sawaal

#1. In the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, an initiative of six countries, which of the following is/are not a participant/ participants? (Pre 2015)

  1. Bangladesh 
  2. Cambodia 
  3. China 
  4. Myanmar 
  5. Thailand

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only  (b) 2, 3 and 4  (c) 1 and 3  (d) 1, 2 and 5

#2. “Compared to the South Asian Trade Area (SAFTA), the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation Free Trade Area (BIMSTEC FTA) seems to be more promising.” Critically evaluate. (Mains 2011)

 

Economics | Current Account Deficit Explained

Countries trade with one another to buy goods not produced in domestic economy. With the advent of globalization, investment to and fro have also increased many fold. A country’s trade and other economic exchanges with the world are recorded on its external account in the form of balance of payment (BoP) transactions.

There are two components of BoP

  1.  Current Account
  2.  Capital Account

Let’s understand about these 2 accounts in detail and analyse what happens in case of deficit or surplus in any of the accounts.

#1. Current Account – It deals with current, ongoing, short term transactions like trade in goods, services (invisible) etc. It reflects the nation’s net income.

For instance, if you a buy a laptop from US, it will be a current account transaction and it will be debit on current account as you have to pay to US.

There are 4 components of Current Account-

  1. Goods – trade in goods
  2. Services (invisible) – trade in services eg. tourism
  3. Income – investment income
  4. Current unilateral transfers – donations, gifts, grants, remittances

Note that grants might appear as component of capital account but are included in current account as they are unilateral, create no liability. Recipient does not have to give anything back in return.

#2. Capital Account – It deal with capital transactions i.e. those transactions which create assets or liabilities. It reflects the net changes in the ownership of national assets.

For instance, if you buy a stocks or property in US, it will be a capital account transaction and it will be debit on capital account as you have to pay to US to buy the asset.

Components of Capital Account

  1. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  2. Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI)
  3. External Borrowings such as ECB
  4. Reserve Account with the Central Bank

Note here that foreign investment is under capital account but dividends and income from investment comes under current account in the category income from abroad as dividend is transferred periodically, does not result in creation of asset or liability.

Balance of Payment (BoP) = Current Account + Capital Account = 0

Why?

Current Account and Capital Account always balance each other because a country always has to pay for its imports. It does so by exports or other two components of current account. If it can not, it runs deficit on current account and has to pay off by drawing off on its assets i.e. running capital account surplus.

What is Current Account Deficit?

  • It’s simply deficit on all 4 components of current account.
  • (Export – Import) + Net income from abroad + Net Transfers
  • (Export – Import) is trade deficit
  • CAD = Trade Deficit + Net Income From Abroad + Net transfers

Note that Trade Deficit and CAD are not one and the same. Trade deficit is only a component of CAD.

What does deficit on Current Account imply?

If we forget income and transfers for a moment, what it means is that we import more than what we export.

How do we pay for that extra import?

Either we get more foreign investment (FDI & FII) and pay via that or we borrow from foreign banks (ECB) or we will have to dip into our external reserves to pay for that amount and in the process our forex reserves come down. When forex reserves come down below a critical level, country appears on the brink of BoP crisis.

So, is CAD such a bad thing?

Depends on what you do with those extra imports and how you finance the deficit!

CAD is bad because –

  1. If a CAD is financed through borrowing, it is unsustainable because borrowing lead to high interest payments in the future
  2. Attracting capital flows (hot money, FII) to finance the deficit is risky as when confidence falls, hot money flows dry up, leading to a rapid devaluation and crisis of confidence. Eg. East Asian Crisis
  3. Run a CAD necessarily means running a surplus on the capital account. This means foreigners have an increasing claim on your assets, which they could redeem any time

However a current account deficit is not necessarily harmful

  1. CAD during a period of inward investment particularly stable long term FDI may not be a bad things as investment can create jobs. Investments will lead to higher growth will be able to pay debts back
  2. Developing countries may use CAD to buy Capital goods and later export consumer goods and thus repay the debt

Moderate current account deficit (2% of GDP) financed mainly by stable foreign investments which creates jobs and infrastructure in the economy can be helpful in the long run as it improves productivity.

What is this twin deficits?

Current Account Deficit and Fiscal Deficit together are knows as twin deficits and often both reinforce each other i.e. High fiscal deficit leads to higher CAD and vice versa.

Now it’s time to answer a few questions-

#1. which of the following constitutes/constitute the Current Account?

  1. Balance of trade
  2. Foreign assets
  3. Balance of invisibles
  4. Special Drawing Right

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 4

#2. The balance of payments of a country is a systematic record of

  1. all import and export transactions of a country during a given period of time, normally a year
  2. goods exported from a country during a year
  3. economic transaction between the government of one country to another
  4. capital movements from one country to another

#3. Which of the following constitute Capital Account?

  1. Foreign Loans
  2. Foreign Direct Investment
  3. Private Remittances
  4. Portfolio Investment

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 1, 2 and 4
  3. 2, 3 and 4
  4. 1, 3 and 4

Want to read more –

  1. Budget Deficits Explained 
  2. GDP Calculation 
  3. Beggar thy neighbour

Different levels of Diplomacy | Track 1, Track 2, Track 3

The Ministerial Session of the eighth edition of Delhi Dialogue, the pre-eminent annual Track 1.5 dialogue process for brainstorming on all aspects of the ASEAN-India relationship, took place in the evening of 18 February 2016 at New Delhi.

We will talk at lengths on the ASEAN-India relationship as we develop our introductory series on IR for IAS further, but today let’s understand diplomacy in its tracks!

Traditionally, the term “diplomacy” referred to interaction between nation-states. More recently, however, scholars have delineated several levels of diplomacy. Tracks 1 and 2 are the most frequently used terms.


 

#1. Track 1 Diplomacy:

Official discussions typically involving high-level political and military leaders and focusing on cease-fires, peace talks, and treaties and other agreements. Heads of states meet, have hi-tea, discuss issues and release joint statements etc.


 

 

#2. Track 2 Diplomacy:

Unofficial dialogue and problem-solving activities aimed at building relationships and encouraging new thinking that can inform the official process.

Since it is unofficial –  you can expect to see influential academic, religious, and NGO leaders and other civil society actors who can interact more freely than high-ranking officials. Think of Baba Ramdev and Amir Khan trying to chit chat with officials of Pak Foreign ministry, cajoling them into buying an idea (hopefully for more peace and er. yoga!)

Here’s where we see the emergence of term – Track 1.5 to denote a situation in which official and non-official actors work together to resolve conflicts. Read this press release from MEA in the light of this definition – Ministerial Session of Delhi Dialogue VIII


 

#3. Track 3 Diplomacy:

People-to-people diplomacy undertaken by individuals and private groups. It would not be further from truth if we say that the “aam aadmi” of India does not really hate his counterpart at Pakistan. Beyond the media and political blur, there are a lot of initiatives which get people closer (do we hear bollywood).

Pakistan loves our films and actors, we love their cuisine and musicians!

Normally focused at the grassroots level, this type of diplomacy often involves organizing meetings and conferences, generating media exposure, and political and legal advocacy for marginalized people and communities.


 

#4. Multitrack Diplomacy:

A term for operating on several tracks simultaneously, including official and unofficial conflict resolution efforts, citizen and scientific exchanges, international business negotiations, international cultural and athletic activities, and other cooperative efforts.


 

Reference – UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE

What is economic integration and what are the different types of trade agreements?

This is an oft confused sphere of economics and often impedes with your understanding of the world affairs. We often read terms like FTA, PTA, Economic Union in articles related to WTO, bilateral talks etc etc. and breeze past them with a rough understanding or what they might mean.

  • FTA (Free Trade Agreement) – Free mein trade? Possibly no money to be paid for trade barriers etc etc.
  • PTA (Preferential)? Some kind of preference, maybe
  • CEPA, CECA – God knows what!

This rough understanding may not be always correct. To give you an example – PTA is almost similar to FTA (every PTA eventually becomes an FTA), CECA and CEPA are quite similar.

What is economic integration & why go for it?

Economic integration refers to trade unification between different states by the partial or full abolishing of customs tariffs on trade taking place within the borders of each state.

  1. The objective of this integration is to increase the combined economic productivity of the countries – easier access of goods and services
  2. Other by-product of integration is competitiveness. If 4-5 countries come together to form a closely knit family (of sorts), they would create barriers to entry of an external (possibly much larger player) to disrupt the region with cheaper goods

What is a trade agreement?

A trade agreement is a contract/agreement/pact between two or more nations that outlines how they will work together to ensure mutual benefit in the field of trade and investment.

This can be bilateral (2 countries) or multilateral (2+ countries). 

Once a trade agreement is finalised, we get to read about these Trade Blocs – a type of intergovernmental agreement, where regional barriers to trade, (tariffs and non-tariff barriers) are reduced or eliminated among the participating states.


 

All the gyan about FTA, PTA, CECA/PA, EU!


#1. PTA – Preferential trade agreement

A preferential trade agreement, is a trading bloc that gives preferential access to certain products from the participating countries.

This is done by reducing tariffs but not by abolishing them completely. A PTA can be established through a trade pact. It is the first stage of economic integration. 

Some examples:

  • Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA): formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement, was signed on 31st of July 1975 as an initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
  • India-Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA): Mercosur is a sub-regional blogs with its member countries – full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

#2. FTA – Free trade agreement

A free-trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free-trade agreement (FTA), which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most (if not all) goods and services traded between them.

Please note that you cannot distinct PTA and FTA by just saying that the former has fewer barriers and later has no barriers at all. FTA does not mean everything is free! PTA closely follows FTA.

  • Evolution of SAPTA to SAFTA (South Asian PTA to FTA)
  • ASEAN FTA (Trade agreement within the Southeast asian nations)

What would happen if countries want to move more closer (beyond material trade)?

When the countries go beyond FTA and agree for a greater degree of economic integration which includes improving the attractiveness to capital and human resources, and to expand trade and investment, it would result in CECA or CEPA.

  • CEPA = Comprehensive Economic partnership Agreement
  • CECA = Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

CECA and CEPA have very minor differences, if you will. While CECA comes first with elimination of tariffs, CEPA comes later including trade in services and investments. CEPA has a bit wider scope than CECA.


#3. Customs Union

An agreement among countries to have free trade among themselves and to adopt common external barriers against any other country interested in exporting to these countries.

Some examples:

  • Southern Common Market – Mercosur (Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Paraguay; Uruguay; and Venezuela)
  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
  • East African Community (EAC) – composed of 5 countries in the African Great Lakes region in eastern Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

#4. Common Market

A type of custom union where there are common policies on product regulation, and free movement of goods and services, capital and labour.


 

#5. Economic Union

An economic union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a common market with a customs union. The participant countries have both common policies on product regulation, freedom of movement of goods, services and the factors of production (capital and labour) and a common external trade policy.


#6. Economic and monetary union

When an economic union involves unifying currency it becomes a economic and monetary union. Eg – Euro!

Geography | Water in the Atmosphere

Its important to analyze the role of water in the atmosphere. Water is present in 3 forms – namely gaseous, liquid and solid.

Lets go through some simple but important definitions

  1. Humidity : A generic term to refer to the amount of water vapour present in the atmosphere.
  2. Absolute Humidity : Its the actual weight of the water vapour(grams) present per unit volume(cubic meter m^3) of the atmosphere. This gives us an estimate of the actual amount of water present in a given atmosphere.
  3. Relative Humidity : The % of water vapour present in the atmosphere compared to its full capacity at a given temperature is called Relative Humidity.
  4. Condensation : Transformation of water vapour into water is called condensation. It releases heat.
  5. Sublimation : When the water vapour directly condenses into solid form, it is called sublimation.

Now, you would’ve guessed, water vapour in the atmosphere is a function of temperature. As you increase the temperature of the air, you increase its water holding capacity. This relationship is best described by the graph below. You can make out, its not linear.

02d

We come to the most important concept of this topic – SATURATION. We will be required to understand what it means, what it can do and most importantly what are the different ways it can happen.

Water in the atmosphere is mostly lying idle. However all the magic happens when saturation point is reached. By Saturation we mean air, at that temperature is incapable of holding any additional moisture. The temperature at which saturation occurs in a given sample of air is known as dew point.

How can we bring about saturation? Well, the most logical thing to say here would be by increasing the amount of water vapour. Thats correct. Another important method would be to bring down the maximum holding capacity of the air by bringing down the temperature of the atmosphere to dew point. The next section will explain why the second method is the most preferred one.


 

CONDENSATION

After Saturation, Condensation takes place. And when it happens, one of the following will be formed – dew, frost, fog and clouds. Lets see how –

  1. Add Moisture – Pretty obvious. You add more moisture, the relative humidity increases till the saturation point reaches.
  1. Cooling by removing heat – If I remove heat from the atmosphere, I’ll most certainly bring down the temperature to dew point and saturate the air. When condensation takes place within itself on dust particles, its called fog.
    • Radiation Fog : Occurs on clear nights on land. As we’ve studied earlier, during the night we have relatively cool earth because its not being heated by the sun and much of its infrared radiation can escape to space. Thus fog if formed near the earth’s surface.RadiationFog
    • Advection Fog : Occurs over cold ocean currents. When we have an already cold surface and moisture laden winds pass through it, they condense. The only difference between Advection and Radiation is the method of cooling. In the first case, we had the surface that was getting cooled while in the second we already had a cool surface to begin with.  All cold currents of the world with warm air blowing over them will experience this.  Also remember, sea-smoke is almost the opposite of this – when we have cold air and warm water. AdvectionFog
    • Dew : Mostly observed in early morning. When the saturated air comes in contact with cold surfaces like that of leaves, trees, grass, etc.
    • Frost : Same as above, but in this case the Due Point is below 0^C. This leads to the formation of ice-crystals instead of droplets.
  1. Cooling by adiabatic expansion – If we make the air just rise, it will expand, lose heat and saturate.
    • Leads to the formation of clouds
    • Vortices
    • Supersonic flight

Lets come to one of the most interesting topics – Clouds. Repeating what we’ve already established – adiabatic cooling is responsible for the formation of clouds. Clouds will always have water. If they don’t then its just air, its not a cloud. Its interesting to note that though all clouds have water, they might not rain(precipitate would be a more correct term to use). However for every rainfall there has to be a corresponding cloud.

CLASSIFICATION OF CLOUDS

The general classification of clouds was proposed by Luke Howard in 1803. It was descriptive based on shape and height.

A. On the basis of Shape

Cumulus – A heap or a pile of cotton mass. They look like cotton wool. They are formed at a height of 4K-7K m. They exist is patches and have a flat base.

There’s an timelapse video where you can observe the process happening. The air doesn’t rise much higher than the ground, forms clouds and descends. And these clouds appear and disappear.

Stratus – As the name implies they are layered clouds covering large portions of the sky. Formed due to loss of heat of mixing of air masses.  They are spread out and mostly found in the lower heights (as shown in the video).

Cirrus – Cirrus clouds are formed at high altitudes (8K-12K m). They are thin and detached clouds having a feathery appearance.


B. On the basis of Height

As low clouds, middle clouds and high clouds.

In this classification, Luke Howard very intelligently re-uses the terms defined in A. How ?? He notices that all low clouds are generally Stratus and all high clouds are generally Cirrus. Meaning he didn’t have to look for separate words for low and high clouds. Eg. A high Cumulus cloud becomes – cirrocumulus. Similarly a low cumulus cloud becomes stratocumulus.

He, however had to coin a term for middle – ‘Alto’. Eg. Altostratus, Altocumulus implies clouds of middle height.


Nimbus : It is used as an adjective to the above clouds to indicate that these clouds are black or grey suggesting they are rain-bearing. Eg. cumulonimbus clouds are those huge clouds that lead to thunderstorm and lightening.


PRECIPITATION

As we had earlier pointed out, clouds alone cannot give precipitation. While the theory behind cloud formation is understood in science, what happens after cloud formation to result in precipitation is not so clearly understood.

We know one thing for sure, for precipitation to take place, the cloud droplets (10 microns) need to grow in size. A raindrop has 100 times the radius of a cloud droplet. So the cloud droplets have to grow that large in order to overpower the force of gravity and upward turbulence and finally come down.

There are 2 theories proposed in this regard :

I. Collision Coalescence : It assumes that you have differently sized droplets where the large ones collide with the small ones and form bigger particles. Why? the larger ones will be moving at a different pace, hence they are bound to collide with the smaller ones coming in their way. It’s not a very efficient process most of the time, because more often that not, you will have similar cloud droplets, not varying too much in size. There’s not enough of a range of large to small particles to get this going. But on occasion, especially over tropical oceans, this mechanism is thought to dominate.

II. Ice Crystal Formation Theory : Before we discuss this in detail, lets see the different forms in which water exists.

T>0 : Water

-40<T<0 : Supercooled water (This is water thats not frozen but will freeze as soon as it comes in contact with a nuclei)

T<-40 : Ice

This theory assumes that you have supercooled water droplets in the cloud. This could happen because lets say the whole of the cloud or a part of it is below the freezing point. Now some of this supercooled water freezes and becomes ice crystals. Now these ice crystals have the tendency to attract water droplets.

Supercooled water condenses on these ice crystals. This forms the snowflakes. Once this starts falling, it may collide with other water droplets or ice crystals forming Hail. Similarly as they fall and experience a warmer atmosphere, they may melt and convert to rain.

winter-graphic

 


FORMS OF PRECIPITATION

As we noted above, after condensation, the release of moisture is known as precipitation. It can occur in the following forms.

  1. Rain : Precipitation in form of water is called rain.
  2. Drizzle : Is spray like rainfall which is very slow with water droplets having .mm diameter. They mostly happen via stratus clouds.
  3. Snow : As discussed above, when ice crystals come down.
  4. Sleet : When the falling water experiences a cool atmosphere just before touching the earth and freezes forming a sheet.Screen-Shot-2014-11-13-at-10.03.53-PM
  5. Hail : Is the most complex of all precipitation. It mostly originates from the cumulonimbus clouds as a result of active turbulence and vertical air currents.

 


RAINFALL

We will study in detail, the most common form of precipitation – Rainfall.

Rainfall can be classified on the basis of its origin.

  1. Convectional : When air is being heated, it rises up and cools adiabatically. When such cooling appears, it saturates. This leads to cloud formation which may in turn lead to shedding of excess moisture in form of Rain. Such rain doesn’t last long. As you saw, the precondition for such rainfall was the air being heated. Hence this type of rainfall is mainly a feature of equatorial regions particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.
  1. Orographic : It is due to a topographic barrier. When the moist air hits the windward side of a mountain, it is forced to rise which cause it to adiabatically cool and saturate. Hence the windward side receives rain. The cool air descends towards the leeward side making that area dry.

images

  1. Frontal : Frontal rainfall is a feature of middle latitudes. It will be more clear when we’ve gone through what fronts are in the topic Atmospheric circulations. Just for some conceptual clarity, we say fronts are boundary of two different air masses say warm air mass and cold air mass. When these two airs masses meet, rain might occur. This type of rainfall is called frontal rains.

Rule of Law v/s Rule by Law

This blog is part of the series Constitution simplified 

This article focuses on bringing clarity on the two very different concepts which looks similar at face value.  Sir Ivor Jennings, the famous constitutional historian, characterised Rule of Law as ‘an unruly horse’.

First, let’s be clear with what Rule of Law is not?

Rule of Law should not be equated with law and order. The breakdown of law and order is a temporary phenomenon.

Breakdown of Rule of Law means collapse of good governance and breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State.

Now, let’s see what Rule of Law is?

It may be difficult to define the concept with precision but in essence it signifies commitment to certain principles and values. Generally, the rule of law is the principle that no one is above the law and treated equally among citizens.

Rule of law symbolises the quest of civilised democratic societies to combine that degree of liberty without which law is tyranny with that degree of law without which liberty becomes licence.

However high you may be, the law is above you.

For instance, One may be the Prime Minister or the Speaker or the Imam or the Archbishop or a judge or the Sankaracharya or whoever, all are equally subject to the law. That imparts the element of non-discrimination in the concept of the Rule of Law.

What are the principles of Rule of Law?

It was A.V. Dicey, the English Professor and Constitutional expert, who  developed this concept. He defined 3 principles that govern the rule of law.

  1. Supremacy of Law
    No man shall be punished or made to suffer in body or goods except for the violation of law. Such a violation must be established in an ordinary court of land and in ordinary legal manner.
  2. Equality before Law
    No man is above the law and everyone, whatever his condition or rank is, is subject to the ordinary laws of the land. <It means a person can sue or be sued in a court of law>
  3. Predominance of Legal spirit
    The result of the ordinary law of the land is constitution. It indicates that the general principles of the constitution are the result of judicial decision of the courts in England. <However, this principle does not apply in case of written constitution. It stands modified in India, where it reads that the constitution is the supreme law of land & all other laws in order to be legally valid shall conform to constitution>

What is the importance of Rule of Law?

Rule of Law is essential for the protection of human rights.

This concept changed the mode of administration from “King was Law” to “Law is King”. It is quite essential for the healthy functioning of democracy.

In its path breaking judgment in Keshavanand Bharti’s case, our Supreme Court ruled that Rule of Law is part of basic structure of the constitution.

The Constitution in order to preserve the rule of law, has conferred the writ jurisdiction under Art. 32 and Art. 226 on Supreme Court and High Court respectively.

How Rule of Law is different from Rule by Law?

It is important not to confuse Rule of Law with rule by law.

The existence of a law is necessary but that is not sufficient. The law must have a certain core component which guarantees the basic human rights and the human dignity of every person.

Rule by law can become an instrument of oppression and it can give legitimacy to the enactment of laws which may grossly violate basic human rights.

Let’s see with examples, how rule by law can be misused

Nazi Germany put Jews in concentration camps and thereafter sent them to the gas chambers. The justification offered was that there was a law which empowered such acts to be done. But that was rule by law, not Rule of Law.

During the apartheid regime in South Africa, repressive and racially discriminatory laws against the black majority were sought to be justified on the basis of enacted laws.

Let’s see the relevance of Rule of Law in India

In India, this concept is implicitly mentioned in the fundamental rights of our constitution. The equality before law (Article 14) includes Rule of Law in itself.

Indian Constitution grants some exception to the Rule of Law.

What are the exceptions to the Rule of Law in India?

  1. The President/Governor is not answerable to court of law in discharge of his executive functions.
  2. No criminal proceedings whatsoever can be instituted against President or Governor of state, while he is in office.
  3. No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed can be filed against President or Governor except after a expire of a 2 month notice that is served on him.

Under International laws, the visiting heads of state, heads of govt, ministers, officials and foreign diplomats who are posted in country are not subjected to jurisdiction of local courts in discharge of their official functions.

What are the concerns regarding Rule of Law in India?

Legal experts have raised their concerns regarding the implementation of Rule of Law in India. A free democratic society like India cannot have recourse to measures that violate the very essence of rule of law.

For instance, a law that permits the killing of suspected terrorists or enables indefinite detention without prior hearing in the absolute discretion of the executive is destructive of the rule of law. Fake encounters have no place in a govt professedly based on the rule of law.

Therefore, we should strive to instill the rule of law temperament and culture at home and in educational institutions. The aim should be that rule of law becomes the secular religion of all nations based on tolerance and mutual respect.


 

Published with inputs from Pushpendra 

Indian Polity | Timeline : States and UT Reorganization

After India became independent, its constituent units were classified into 4 distinct categories – Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D. Their composition is as follows

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 2.35.51 AM

Part C states were administered by the President through a Chief Commissioner or Lieutenant-Governor.

1956 : States Reorganization Act. Abolished the above 4-fold classification. Part A and Part B were merged. Part C territories – HP(including Bilaspur), Delhi, Manipur, Tripura were made UTs and the rest of them were merged with their adjoining states. Part D(Andaman & Nicobar Islands) was made a UT. As a result we had 14 States and 6 UT.

1960 : Bilingual state of Bombay was divided into Maharashtra and Gujrat. Gujrat becomes the 15th State.

1961 : Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Portuguese colony till 1954 was converted into a UT by the 10th Constitutional Amendment Act. Dadra and Nagar Haveli becomes the 7th UT.

1962 : Goa, Daman and Diu acquired from Portuguese by means of police action in 1961. Constituted as UT by the 12th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1962. They come 8th and 9th UT respectively.

1962 : State of Nagaland carved out from the state of Assam by 13th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1962. Nagaland becomes the 16th State.

1962 : 4 French establishments – Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam where handed over to India in 1954. Made a UT by the 14th Constitutional Amendment Act in 1962. Puducherry becomes the 10th UT.

1966 : Punjab was bifurcated to create Haryana. UT of Chandigargh was formed. Hilly Areas of Punjab were merged with Himachal Pradesh. Haryana becomes the 17th State. Chandigargh becomes the 11th UT.

1970 : HP elevated from status of UT to the status of state. HP becomes the 18th State. Total UT-count comes down to 10.

1971 : Political Map of NE underwent a major Change. Manipur, Tripura and Meghayala elevated to the status of state. The total State-count becomes 21.

1975 : Referendum held in Sikkim and Sikkim became an integral part of India. 36th Constitutional Amendment made it the 22nd full-fledged state.

1986 : Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh elevated from status of UT to the status of state. The total State-count becomes 24. Total UT-count comes down to 8.

1987 : Goa elevated from status of UT to the status of state. Becomes the 25th State. Total UT-count comes down to 7.

1991 : Delhi becomes the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

2000 : Chhattisgargh(from MP), Uttarakhand(from UP) and Jharkhand(from Bihar) carved out to form independent states. The total State-count is 28.

2014 : Andhra Pradesh bifurcated to form Telangana. Becomes the 29th State.

 

 

History | Gandhiji’s 4 Satyagraha

After his successful stint in South Africa, it was time for Gandhiji to try his tactics in his homeland, India. He tries to experiment with Satyagraha at a smaller scale before he goes for a mass movement. All his experiments were a huge success and thus lay the foundation of the Non-Cooperation movement which shook the British Raj.

  1. Champaran Satyagraha – 1917

Gandhiji was persuaded by Raj Kumar Shukla to study the conditions of the Indigo Plantation workers in Champaran, a district in Bihar.

The system prevalent in the Indigo Plantations was the Tinkathia System*. In this system, the peasants were required to mandatorily cultivate indigo in 3/20th of their land holdings.

Gandhiji did his research. At the same time, the Govt. appointed a Commission of Inquiry to go into the whole issue and nominated Gandhiji as one of its members. Needless to say, it found the Planters guilty of exploitation. A compromise was reached and Planters were ordered to refund 25% of the amount they had illegally taken.

  1. Ahmedabad Satyagraha – 1918

This time Gandhiji was dealing with the workers. Due to plague, the mill owners had increased the pay to 75% to attract workers. However, once the plague conditions subsided, the mill owners wanted to bring down the pay to 20%. The workers didn’t agree with this reduction and wanted 50% of the pay to remain. The logic they sited was that WW1 had increased the prices. Gandhiji didn’t want the interest of the industrialist class to be hurt. He tried hard to persuade Ambalal Sarabhai who was his friend but failed. Left with no option, he asked workers to go on a strike. When Gandhiji saw the strike subsiding, he went on a fast. This put pressure on the mill owners who agreed for the 35% increment.

  1. Kheda Satyagraha – 1918

This is where Gandhiji teams up with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to help the cause of peasants. The peasants were in extreme distress as their crop produce had been 1/4th of the original. As per the revenue code, they were entitled for a full concession. However, the Govt. wasn’t willing to let go of their revenues and kept pressurizing the peasants.

Gandhiji urged all farmers to fight unto death against this injustice of the British. He appealed the rich farmers to support to the poor farmers by not paying revenues despite having the capability. Later the British came out with a policy asking the rich farmers to pay their due voluntarily. (which backfired as no rich farmer willingly wanted to pay revenue)

  1. Rowlatt Satyagraha – 1919

British, in the name of curbing terrorist violence, had introduced a Bill that severely curtailed the liberties of the Indians. It had provisions for arrest without warrant and detention for 2 years. Gandhiji called for a nation-wide hartal accompanied by fasting and praying. The Movement went in a different direction than what was expected. There were events of violent outbreaks which feared the Govt.

The Rowlatt Satyagraha was withdrawn on 18th April, 1919 because of the Jaliawala Bagh Massacre that happened on 13th April 1919.

Gandhiji called it a ‘Himalayan Blunder’. It should be noted that NCM was not the first Nationwide Movement, it was the Rowlatt Satyagraha.

 

*There were two main systems of indigo cultivation – nij and ryoti. A detailed explanation of the same is given in NCERT.

Ref : http://www.ncert.nic.in/ncerts/l/hess103.pdf

History | Our Legislature through the ages

What we know as the Parliament today had humble beginnings as the Governor General’s Council.

Regulating Act of 1773 : The Gov of Bengal was made Gov General of Bengal. He was assisted by 4 people. This 4+1 becomes became Supreme Council of Bengal (source), also known as the GG’s Exec Council.

Pitt’s India Act of 784 : We see a shrinking of the Council from 4 members to 3 members. Hence 3+1 is the renewed GG’s Executive Council. Can you tell us why? 

Charter Act of 1833 : Gov General of Bengal became the Gov General of India. The Supreme Council of Bengal became the Council of India. This Act. was the first law to distinguish between the executive and legislative powers of the Gov General. A 4th member was introduced who could only discuss and vote only on legislative matter.

Council of India = [(3+1) +  1(4th member also called the Law Member)]

The first such Law Member was Macaulay. This Council of India was, to a certain extent, the Legislature. Strength of the Executive remained 3+1 .

Charter Act of 1853 : From here on, we see a gradual increase in the membership of the Council and further separation of powers. The 4th member (Law Member)was included as a full-time Member in the GG’s Executive Council. His position was taken by 6 Members referred to as Legislative Councillors.

Council of India = [(4+1) + 6(Legislative Councillors) + 1 Commander-in-Chief]

6 Councillors were,

  • 1 Chief Judge of SC of Calcutta.
  • 1 Judge of SC of Calcutta
  • 4 members of the ICS

Q. Who was the Commander-in-Chief?

Indian Councils Act of 1861 : After 1861, the Council was called Imperial Legislative Council(ILC) or Indian Legislative Council(ILC). The Executive was further enhanced by 1 member. The Viceroy now had the power to Nominate 6 – 12 Non-Official members in the Legislature who would be holding the office for 2 years.

ILC = [(5+1) + (Additional Members -> Minimum 6, Maximum 12)]

The composition of Additional Members was as follows:

  • 50% Nominated Official Members
  • 50% Nominated Non-Official Members

The Act thus sowed the seed  for the future Legislative as an independent entity separate from the Executive Council.

Indian Councils Act of 1892 : Due to the excessive demand of the Congress, the Additional Members were increased. Additional Members -> Minimum 10, Maximum 12.

ILC = [(5+1) + (Additional Members -> Minimum 10, Maximum 16)]

The composition of Additional Members was as follows:

  • Nominated official members (those nominated by the Governor General and were government officials)
  • 5 Nominated Non-Officials (nominated by the Governor General but were not government officials)
  • 4 Nominated by the Provincial Legislative Councils of Bengal Presidency, Bombay Presidency, Madras Presidency and North-Western Provinces.
  • 1 Nominated by the Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta.

Indian Councils Act of 1909 : The Morley-Minto reforms. It introduced for the first time the method of election.

The additional members of the Governor-General Council were  increased from 16 to a maximum of 60.

The composition of Additional Members was as follows:

  • Nominated official members (those nominated by the Governor General and were government officials)
  • Nominated non-official members (nominated by the Governor General but were not government officials)
  • Elected Members (elected by different categories of Indian people)

Indian Councils Act of 1919 : The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms. Central Legislature thereafter called the Indian Legislature was reconstituted on enlarged and more representative character.  It consisted of the Council of State consisted of 60 members of whom 34 members were elected and the Legislative Assembly  consisted of about 145 members, of whom about 104 were elected and the rest nominated.  Of the nominated members about 26 were officials.  The powers of both the Chambers of the Indian Legislature were identical except that the power to vote supply was granted only to the Legislative Assembly.

The Government of India Act 1935: It marked the next great stride in the evolution of the Legislatures.  The Federal Legislature was to consist of two Houses, the House of Assembly called the Federal  Assembly and the Council of States.  The Federal Assembly was to consist of 375 members, 250 to represent Provinces and 125 to represent the Indian States, nominated by the Rulers.  The representatives of the Provinces were to be elected not directly but indirectly by the Provincial Assemblies. The term of the Assembly was fixed as five years.  The Council of State was to be a permanent body not subject to dissolution, but one-third of the members should   retire   every   three   years.  It was to consist of 260 members.  104 representatives of Indian States, six to be nominated by the Governor-General, 128 to be directly elected by territorial communal constituencies and 22 to be set apart for smaller minorities, women and depressed classes.  The two Houses had in general equal powers but demands for supply votes and financial Bills were to originate in the Assembly.

 

  • The information has been compiled from various sources, in case you find any discrepancy, please note it in comments.

Internal Security | Assam Riots and Demand of Bodoland

As we move forward to cover up Internal Security topics, we should have look for North-eastern region. So, we will see various linkages between developments and demands from North-eastern region. Let’s know Assam Riots and Bodoland demand in brief!

Let’s know historical timeline of events?

  • In 1960s, Bodos started demanding autonomy, varying from separate statehood to outright sovereign status.
  • In 1980s and 1990s, militant Bodo movement peaked during this period large scale killings and human displacement.
  • In 2003, the signing of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) Accord between Militant Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) led by leadership of Hagrama Mohilary on one side and Centre-state government on the other side.
  • Under this accord, Bodo Liberation Tigers surrendered their weapons, and Hagrama was made the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Bodo Territorial council (BTC).
  • Nowadays, violence in bodoland is become a common feature in region.
  • In past 5 years some 3,500 riots have been reported, most recent being the December 2014 Violence by NDFB (songbijit) against adivasis and retaliatory violence.
A Bodo student with painted face shouts as hundreds of thousands of Bodo tribal people gather demanding the creation of a new state of Bodoland during a mass rally at Ghoramara in Somitpur district of Assam state, India, Aug. 20, 2013. India’s ruling coalition recently endorsed the creation of a new state called Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh state. The endorsement triggered other regions with the same demand in the country to stand up for their own states as well, including Bodo tribals. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A Bodo student with painted face shouts as hundreds of thousands of Bodo tribal people gather demanding the creation of a new state of Bodoland during a mass rally at Ghoramara in Somitpur district of Assam state, India, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Then, what comprises BTC or Bodo Accord?

It consists of 4 districts of Assam –

  • Kokrajhar
  • Chirang
  • Baksa
  • Udalguri. (Total 35% area of Assam.)

[ Demography of bodoland: 30 % of the population is Bodos (who are STs) and rest comprises of tribals, Bengali Muslims and Hindus and Assamese.]

BTAD


Why were there resentment outbreaks among Bodos and Non Bodos?

Bodos side’s demands –

  • The Bodos, constitute the largest tribal community out of a total of 34 tribal communities in Assam.
  • They feel they have been neglected, exploited and discriminated against for decades, look at this accord as a historic opportunity to fulfil their longstanding demands.
  • But due to the changing demographics of the BTAD and the consequent land alienation, they fear they may become a minority in their own state and in hitherto Bodo-dominated areas.

Non-Bodos and Muslims side’s demands –

  • They resents the fact that Bodos constitute a meagre 25 per cent of the total population in the BTC area and believe that Bodos should not be given the right to rule over the other three-fourths.
  • Number of villages with minority Bodo population were included in the BTAD to make it a contiguous area.
  • The non-Bodos want such villages to be taken out of BTAD so that they do not feel insecure where they are clearly in the majority.

So, was there any problem in the Bodo Accord?

  • The Bodo Accord, seeks to protect the land rights of the indigenous Bodos while allowing settler Muslims (both legal and illegal) to freely acquire land at the same time.
  • The Bangladeshi migrants easily sneak in the area, illegally procure relevant documents like ration cards to establish Indian nationality.
  • Taking advantage of the provisions in the BTC Act, such migrants are freely procuring land in the BTAD, which only adds to the woes of indigenous Bodos.
  • Both sides are demanding the review / revocation of BTC act because on one hand, Bodos feel their rights are not protected.
  • On the other hand, Non-bodos feel that Bodos are getting way too many benefits.

Are there some concrete reason behind violence?

  • Demand for a separate state of bodoland.
  • Occupation of their land by illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
  • Illegal migration from Bangladesh who have settled on their land (loss of land rights).

Adivasis demand to be included in ST list –

  • They argue that 34 of the 40 seats of BTC are reserved for STs. Now bodos having ST status dominates it, although they are only 34% of population.
  • This is opposed by Bodos who don’t want to lose power.

Can we have some solutions on a table?

Security measures

  • Have permanent security forces here.
  • Intensify operations against the militants.
  • Curb the proliferation of illegal weapons.
  • Seek amicable and strategic cooperation from Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Solve underlying reasons

  • Stop illegal migration and update land records – [e.g. National Population Register, Aadhaar / similar biometric cards.]
  • Ensure equal rights and opportunities to all socio-religious and ethnic communities in the area.
  • If need arises then review the BTAD model, where the minority Bodos rule over the majority non-Bodos.

Way forward

Union and State Government need to solve it en masse and take proactive action against violence in this conflict region, unless proactive action with political will of leaders in region should come into action, there is no way out for hope to resettle from such domino effect.

Have a look to Domino effect happened all over the country following the spirit for statehood.

Domino_effect_statehood


What do you think on domino effect and spirit of statehood? Let us know!


 

Published with inputs from Arun | Image: BTAD

Internal Security | Salwa Judum 2.0

Let’s move to our next topic of Internal security.

In may 2015, formers leaders of Salwa Judum formed Vikas Sangharsh Samiti in Dantewada of Chhattisgarh to carry forward the work of salwa judum in bastar. i.e. to finish Maoism in Bastar and bring development. Let’s know it in brief!

Let’s first know about Naxalism?

  • Naxalism originated as a rebellion against marginalisation of the poor forest dwellers and gradually against the lack of development and poverty at local level in rural parts of eastern India.
  • It began in 1967 with an armed peasant uprising in Naxalbari village in West Bengal. The term ‘Naxal’ came from the name of the village.
  • The origin of the Naxals was a result of the split that took place in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1967.
  • It led to the formation of Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist).
  • West Bengal being the centre of the movement initially, Naxalism spread to the lesser developed areas like Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Now, Let’s clear some air from – Salwa Judum?

SalwaJudumhubs


  • Senior Indian National Congress (INC) party leader Mahendra Karma launched the Salwa Judum in 2005 as a counterinsurgency measure to tackle the Maoist threat.
  • Salwa Judum meaning “Peace March” or “Purification Hunt” in Gondi language.
  • It is a militia mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the region.
  • It was started as a people’s resistance movement against the Naxalites.
  • The militia, consisting of local tribal youth, received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government.
  • Salwa Judum was followed in 2009 by Operation Green Hunt – which was actually just a more organised version of the Judum, minus the mass rallies and the forcible regrouping.

Then, Why did Supreme Court intervene in campaign?

  • In 2011, Nandini Sundar v/s State of Chhattisgarh case, SC declared it illegal and unconstitutional and ordered its disbandment.
  • The petitioner had alleged that the State of Chhattisgarh was actively encouraging a group called Salwa Judum, a civil vigilante structure, to counter Maoist insurgency, and that had resulted in violation of human rights.
  • The SC had declared that the recruitment and arming of tribal people as Special Police Officers (SPOs), as a counter-insurgency measure, was illegal and unconstitutional.
  • The SC forbade the state government from supporting any civilian vigilante force and declared that it was the responsibility of the state to prevent the operation of any such group.

How did Salwa Judum version 2.0 or Vikas sangharsh samiti (VSS) came into picture?

  • Chhavindra Karma, former leader of anti-Maoist militia Salwa Judum and son of the founder of the militia, Mahendra Karma, has formed Vikas Sangharsh Samiti in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on 25 May, 2015.
  • Vikas Sangharsh Samiti or Salwa Judum-2 born in Bastar again. [Yes, it is Salwa Judum version 2.0]
  • The Samiti carry forward the work of Salwa Judum in Bastar.
  • Today, the Vikas Sangharsh Samiti is offering the same justification that was given by the state of Chhattisgarh earlier, that tribal volunteered to fight against the Maoists.

Is there any Way forward to Salwa Judum 2.0?

  • A Salwa Judum 2.0 could survive constitutional challenge only if its role is restricted to helping out the state machinery during natural and manmade disasters, and to the regulation of traffic.
  • The employing and arming of untrained tribals in the fight against Maoists is unconstitutional and illegal — it doesn’t matter whether it goes by the name “Salwa Judum”, “Vikas Sangharsh Samiti” or any other.

Is Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Division of Home Ministry helpful?

  • LWE Division was created w.e.f. October 19, 2006 in the Ministry of Home Affairs to effectively address the Left Wing Extremist insurgency in a holistic manner.
  • The LWE Division implements security related schemes aimed at capacity building in the LWE affected States.
  • The States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are considered LWE affected, although in varying degrees.

What concrete steps should be taken by Government in such Naxalites area?

  • The Central government should form a separate ministry which will undertake the development of areas affected by Naxal activities.
  • Ensure the safety of the civilians by stopping the Salwa Judum campaign and ensuring that no counter insurgency measures are taken by risking the lives of the civilians.
  • Checking instances of human rights violation by the security forces and the Salwa Judum.
  • Registering the crimes perpetrated by the security forces, Salwa Judum and the Maoists and bringing them to justice.
  • Banning of Bal Mandal (The child division of Naxalites) with immediate effect.
  • Ensuring safety of those who surrendered and those who lived in camps or were related with Salwa Judum activities.

Do you find any solutions on such impasse? Let us know!


 

Published with inputs from Arun | Image: Salwa Judum Hub

Indian Polity | Speaker of the Lok Sabha

This blog is part of the series Constitution simplified 

The office of the Speaker is more than merely a presiding officer of the LS. One thing you will notice is that you will not find an exhaustive list of rules and procedures for the Officers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. That’s because these are offices of trust. We take for granted that when a Member is appointed a speaker, he/she keeps his party allegiance aside and acts in an impartial manner.

Powers of the Speaker

The Office of the Speaker is a very powerful one. He derives his powers from three sources – a. The Constitution, b. The Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha and c. The Parliamentary Convention(residuary powers that are unwritten or unspecified).

 

  1. He is the sole authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. This decision of his cannot be challenged.

The present Parliament is the best example to demonstrate how important this power can be. The Govt. enjoys a majority in the LS but not in the RS. Hence they are unable to get a lot of Bills passed. Our FM remarked that certifying the Bills as Money Bills are the only way to get them passed.

*The Speaker has to consult Article 110 to mark a Bill as Money Bill. So it’s not entirely his discretion.

  1. He presides over the joint setting of the two houses. This privilege doesn’t belong to the Chairman of the RS. If the Speaker is absent, it goes to the Dy. Speaker of the LS. If the Dy. Speaker is absent, it goes to the Vice Chairman of the RS.
  2. The Speaker enjoys a special relationship with the Parliamentary Committees. All the Joint Parliamentary Committees are appointed by the Speaker and they report to him directly. Further, the Speaker nominates various members to these committees. If the Speaker himself is a Member, he becomes the ex-officio Chairman.
  3. The Office of the Speaker is retained till the 1st meeting of the next LS. All other Members cease to be in office once the LS dissolves.
  4. Special Role in Anti-Defection law. The Speaker has to accept the resignation of any Member of the House. This is to ensure that the resignation is voluntary. This decision is final but is open to Judicial Review. Ref: PRS India

 

Internal Security| National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

It’s time to learn some basics from GS-IV paper as its Internal security part is significant to score. We will cover series of articles on Internal security with some contemporary topics.

What’s the NATGRID?

The National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID is the integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.

Why do we need NATGRID ?

  • 26/11 attacks on Mumbai led to the exposure of several weaknesses in India’s intelligence gathering and action networks.
  • “NATGRID” data transfer system unveiled by Home Minister P. Chidambaram in December 2009 and operational now.

How does it work?

NATGRID will integrate 21 categories of data from agencies like

  • Banks,
  • Railways and airlines,
  • Income tax department,
  • Credit card companies etc.
  • Visa and immigration
  • This combined data will be made available to 11 central agencies including the R&AW, the National Investigation Agency(NIA), the CBI, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau(IB), the Narcotics Control Bureau(NCB) and the Enforcement Directorate(ED) to help them prevent terrorist attacks and criminal activities.

Is there any Privacy and misuse issue?

  • Some people are concerned about the protection of individual privacy and misuse of information by law enforcement agencies.
  • NATGRID is only the technical interface for intelligence agencies and not an organization in itself. If the agency initiating the inquiry is not authorized to get that information, it cannot get it.
  • It has strong information protection technology and external audits Security and intelligence agencies will not be able to use the
  • NATGRID system to access information for any purpose other than that of countering terror.
  • It will not “store” any personal data, but only facilitate transfer.

Will it be a concerning thing as Wikileaks does?

  • SIPRNET is a computer network connecting US Defense and State Departments (similar to our NATGRID).
  • One Soldier Bradly Mannins, accessed the SIPRNET, copied all the US diplomatic documents and sent them to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
  • Similar fiasco could happen with India’s NATGRID.

Published with inputs from Arun

Internal Security | National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC)

Let’s move to a next topic of Internal security –National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC).

Why there was a need of NCTC ?

  • After the 26/11 attacks, Government felt the need to setup a separate body to deal with terrorism.
  • NCTC will derive its powers from the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA), 1967.
  • The basic idea is to prevent confusion regarding intelligence inputs and also ensure that none of the police forces from the states enter into a blame game regarding intelligence sharing as one got to see during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
  • The standing council of the NCTC will consist of anti-terror agencies in states.
  • The body will have 3 divisions dealing with collection and dissemination of intelligence, analysis and operations.

How did the proposal to set up the NCTC originate?

  • The NCTC has been designed on the lines of the American NCTC and UK’s “Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre”.
  • Home Minister P. Chidambaram and former National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan visited USA in 2009 to study the working of the American NCTC.

What will NCTC do?

  • It will have the power to conduct searches and arrests in any part of India.
  • It will collect, collate and disseminate data on terrorism.
  • It will also maintain a database on terrorist and their associates including their families.
  • In short, NCTC will serve as a single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures.

But, What is the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC)?

It is platform to share varied intelligence inputs coming from various agencies like –

  • Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)
  • Economic Intelligence Agency (EIA)
  • Enforcement Directorate (ED)

How is it different from US and UK model?

  • USA’s NCTC which deals only with strategic planning and integration of intelligence without any operational involvement.
  • UK‘s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which too plays a purely coordinating role.
  • But the Indian NCTC will have not only intelligence functions but also powers to conduct operations, raids and arrests in any part of India.

What is the problem with NCTC?

NCTC was to start working from March 2012, but it could not be launched due to opposition from a group of Non-Congress chief ministers who say that NCTC is against the federal structure of the country.

Power to Arrest without informing State Government

  • Non-Congress CM’s allege that the NCTC has been empowered to search and arrest people without informing the state government, police or anti-terror squad in the loop.
  • The role of the state becomes redundant with such powers and states would have no say or role to play in the fight against terrorism.
  • This would have a bearing on the rights and privileges of the states as enshrined in the Constitution.
  • To curb this fear, Home Ministry had altered the rules.
  • Now, the senior most police officers in all states – the Director Generals of Police and the chiefs of anti-terror squads of all states will be members of the Standing Council of the NCTC.

Overlapping with NIA

  • National Investigation Agency (NIA) was established after the 26/11 attacks.
  • So, the establishment of a new NCTC would only add to the bureaucratic tangle in intelligence sharing and counter terrorist action.
  • However, Mr. Chidambaram had assured that NIA is merely a predecessor of NCTC. (so, once NCTC comes into operation, the NIA will function under it or will be submerged into NCTC)

What is the Centre’s stance on this?

  • The UPA, however, has defended the setting up NCTC arguing that it will not trample on the rights of the states.
  • Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that terror is a real threat and “it is necessary to bring together all elements of national power in real in order to surmount a formidable challenge to it.”

Published with inputs from Arun

Indian Polity | Types of Majorities

This blog is part of the series Constitution simplified 

There are 4 main types of Majority. The last one being Special Majority that has 3 sub-types.

The most important Majorities will be Simple Majority and Special Majority of the 2nd kind. We will use current strength of the Lok Sabha = 545 in the examples to explain.

  1. Absolute – More than 50% of the Total Strength of the House. Meaning

1/2 x 545 = 273 or more. 

This majority is never used anywhere but has a huge significance. If a political party has an Absolute Majority, it means it gets to form the govt., there is stability in the house.  

  1. Simple – Also called functional majority. It means Majority of more than 50% of members present and voting.

Lets assume the members present and voting is 300 (out of 545). We have –

1/2 X 300 = 150 or more

Usage

  • When not stated what type of Majority in the Constitution, this majority is assumed.
  • Passage of Ordinary, Money and Financial Bills.
  • Passage of No-Confidence Motion, Confidence Motion, Vote of Thanks to the President, Censure Motion, Adjournment Motion, Calling Attention Motion.
  • Election of the Speaker, Dy. Speaker, Dy. Chairman of RS.
  • Passage of approval to President’s Rule and Financial Emergency.
  • Approval by LS for discontinuance of Emergency.
  1. Effective – Means Majority of the Effective Strength of the House where Effective Strength is defined as Total Strength – No. of Vacancies. Vacancies arise due to 3 reasons – Death, Disqualification, Resignation. Some sources mention Absenteeism as a vacancy but that is incorrect.

Lets assume Number of Vacancies are 6. We have

1/2 X (545-6) = 270 or more

Usage

  • Removal of the VP. Initiated by the RS, requires Effective Majority in the RS, thereafter Simple Majority in the LS. (this procedure is assumed since the Constitution doesn’t explicitly state it. Actual text available here)
  • Removal of the Speaker, Dy. Speaker and Dy. Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
  1. Special – This majority has 3 sub-types that require some attention.

1st kindNot less than 2/3 of the Members present and voting.

Usage (only in 2 conditions)

  • Passage of Resolution under Art. 249 and Art. 312. What are they and when have they been used? 

 

2nd kind : Fulfills the following criteria

i) Not less than 2/3 of the Members present and voting.

ii) Majority of the Total Strength of the House.

Eg. Out of 545, 450 Members are present and 300 vote in favor. Both the above conditions are satisfied – 300 is more than 2/3 of 450 and 300 is more than 1/2 of 545.

To make it simpler to remember, it is Special Majority of First kind + Absolute Majority.

Usage

  • Passage of Constitutional Amendment Bills under Art. 368.
  • Approval by both Houses for the continuance of Emergency.
  • Removal of Judges of SC, High Court, CAG, CEC.
  • Approval for the creation of State Legislative Council of a State under Art. 169.

3rd kind :  This is used only once – during the impeachment of the President of India. Is mentioned in Art. 61 of the Constitution.

2/3rd Majority of the Total Strength of the House.

2/3 X 545 = 364 or more

 

As a rule of thumb, you should never mention Special Majority in any answer as it could mean any of the 3 Special Majorities. 

 

Indian Polity | A Quick Brush up with Our Emergency Provisions

This blog is part of the series Constitution simplified 

Very quickly then, most of us are familiar with the 3 types of emergencies.


 


 

We will study them under 3 heads –

#a. When can they be imposed?

#b. Features

#c. Effects


 

#1. Art. 352 – National Emergency

a. When can it be imposed?

3 conditions – War, External Aggression, Armed Rebellion

Note1: Armed Rebellion was changed from Internal Disturbance on the recommendation of the Shah Commission. Internal Disturbance was a vague term prone to misuse.

Q1: What’s the difference between War and External Aggression?

No technical difference! The President makes a “Proclamation of Emergency”. If it says its a war, its a war likewise of external aggression.

b. Features

Flashback : Lets go back to the time of the Emergency. All it took then was an oral instruction by the then PM Indira Gandhi to President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (who received a lot of criticism).

To understand National Emergency, we need to examine the 44th Amendment Provisions whose sole purpose was to put a check on such powers of the President.

  • Can only be proclaimed on the written advice of the Union Cabinet (not the PM). Perhaps, this is the only place where Union Cabinet has a role.
  • Expires in 1 month from its issue unless approved by a Special Majority (of the second kind*) – Not less than 2/3rd of the Members present and voting + Absolute Majority – in both the houses of the Parliament.
  • If the LS is dissolved, then RS shall approve it within 1 month and the re-constituted LS shall ratify within 30 days.
  • Once approved, the proclamation is extended for 6 months, which can be extended again for 6 more months.
  • Not less than 1/10th of the Members of the LS(this can only be initiated in the LS) may give notice in writing to the Speaker or President (when LS is not in session). If there is no session, a special sitting of the LS shall be held within 14 days. If the resolution, the President has to revoke the Emergency.

c. Effects

  • Executive : State Govt. is not suspended. Union Govt. can issue orders to the State Govt. on subjects on the State List (something that it can’t normally do).
  • Legislature : State Legislature is not suspended. However, Parliament can make laws on the State subjects. Such laws remain valid for 6 months after the Emergency ceases to be.
  • Financial : Distribution as per the President’s will subject to approval by the Parliament.

Effect on FR (2 clauses here)

  • Art. 19 automatically suspended (only in case of War and External Aggression)
  • President by a further order can specify other FRs that wont be operative, excepting Art. 20 and 21.

Art. 20 and 21 are fundamental of the FRs and cannot be suspended. Interested readers can read the story of Judge Khanna’s courage here.



 

#2. Art. 356 – President’s Rule

a. When can it be imposed?

If the President is satisfied that there exists a situation where the State Admin. cannot be carried in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, he can make a Proclamation of Failure of Constitutional Machinery in a State.

Ambedkar had envisaged Art. 356 to remain a dead letter in the Constitution. Much to his surprise it has been used not less than 119 times during the first 63 years.

b. Features

Such a proclamation lapses after 2 months, unless approved by the Parliament by a simple majority. Once approved, it lasts for 6 months which can again be extended for 6 more months subjected to maximum of 3 years.

To extend it beyond 1 year, 2 conditions must be fulfilled

  • National Emergency should be in operation (in whole of India or whole or any part of the State).
  • ECI certifies that elections cannot be conducted in the state.

c. Effect

The President can

  • declare Executive powers of the State rest with him. He can also delegate the same to any other authority (like the Governor) as per his liking.
  • dissolve or suspend the State Legislature. If suspended, the Parliament can exercise its legislative powers. (or delegate it to any other authority)

Effect on FR : No Effect


 

#3. Art. 360 – Financial Emergency (^Never imposed till date)

a. When can it be imposed? 

If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, he may by a Proclamation make a declaration to that effect.

b. Features

It will ordinarily remain in force for 2 months, unless its is approved by both the houses. If LS is dissolved in this period, similar clause as that of the National Emergency applies.

c. Effect

The financial autonomy of the states is transferred. The President can

  • suspend distribution of financial resources.
  • issue directions to follow canons of finance.
  • direct the State Govt. to reduce the Salaries of their employees.
  • direct the governors to reserve all financial and money bills for his consideration.

Effect on FR : No Effect


Now is the time for 2 quick questions

  1. Attempt the following table. You need to give me the dates corresponding to A,B,C,D,E,F.
Type Date of Issue Last Date of Approval Last Date of Validity
352 1/1/2016 A B
356 1/1/2016 C D
360 1/1/2016 E F

  1. Mention that checks and balances put in place to curb the improper use of Art. 356.

Hint : R. Bommai vs Union Of India

Additional Reads 

  1. Click here for everything on the types of Majority.
  2. Justice Khanna’s Courage 

 

PJ Nayak Committee for Governance reforms [Comic strip]

A week back or so, we fiddled with the idea of introducing flashcards of basic theoretical terms which bug early stage aspirants when they read daily news. Here’s the post on that.

This time, we are going in a step further. And what better way to deal with complex concepts, than with a comic strip interspersed with conversations and questions! Sounds fun? Here we go.

The rules of this initiative. Only 2, not much! 

  1. We will introduce a module from static or current affairs in the most interesting way that we can conjure up.
  2. We will poke holes in the committee reports, suggestions, policy changes, historical blunders etc etc so that we all pitch in with clarifications and help each other understand the basics of things.

    Over to the topic at hand then…

P J Nayak was entrusted (by none other than Raghuram Rajan) to head an RBI committee on banking governance and present a report, which he did in style:


 

 

Do you know why banks were nationalised way back in Indira Gandhi’s time?

And why it might still be a good idea (according to government) to keep control over them?



 

For newly enthused aspirants, it might be a good idea to go figure the pros and cons of such heavy oversight of FinMin – RBI – CAG – CVC over public sector companies in general (banks or otherwise).


 


 

If you were to represent government’s interest here, what would your rebuttal be? Take a hint from the its seven-pronged strategy called ‘Indradhanush’ to revamp public-sector banks. P J Nayak wasn’t very happy with that!