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[op-ed snap] The road to e-vehicles

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Need for a pan-India policy for smoother transition towards clean mobility.


News

Leading by example

  1. Jharkhand government has recently introduced electric vehicles for official use.
  2. While 20 vehicles have been acquired for the first phase, another 30 are expected to be added to the fleet in the coming weeks.

E-Vehicles integral to Smart Cities Mission

  1. In the current scenario of soaring fuel prices and the spectre of climate change looming large over the planet, it is a welcome step that a Jharkhand government is taking the lead in switching to e-vehicles.
  2. Clean mobility powered by clean energy is our most powerful weapon in our fight against climate change.
  3. It is a well known fact that government officials are tremendous guzzlers of fossil fuel.
  4. It is very realistic opinion that they could exchange their petroleum-based vehicles for electric ones.

Motivation for others

  1. If other States and the Centre were to follow the example set by Jharkhand, it would have two positive spin-offs.
  2. First, it would encourage the spread of a transportation infrastructure specific to e-vehicles.
  3. And second, it would spur the early adoption of e-vehicles by first-time buyers, generating consumer momentum for India’s stated goal of ensuring that by 2030.
  4. This is not far-fetched as quite a few countries, such as Norway and France, already have a substantial percentage of their vehicles running on either electricity or alternate fuels.

Way Forward

  1. Electric vehicles are also an integral component of smart cities, as they are an automatic assumption in frameworks of smart transportation.
  2. Meanwhile, the government needs to speed up the formulation of rules for e-vehicles as a category.
  3. The policy makers must come up with an India-specific road map for a transition that needs to be smooth if only because it is inevitable.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

[op-ed snap] An ongoing quest for equality

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Constitution| Historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fundamental rights involved

Mains level:  The oped clears doubts over dissenting opinion shared by Justice Indu Malhotra.


News

Context

  1. Recently the Supreme Court delivered a 4:1 verdict, in Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, opening the doors of the Sabarimala temple to women of all ages.
  2. However the dissenting opinion raised by Justice Indu Malhotra speaks to a different, and constitutionally plausible, vision.
  3. The Supreme Court will soon have the opportunity to consider, once again, the differing visions offered in

Art. 25, 26 put through questions

  1. The judgment raises several thorny questions.
  2. It questions the court’s authority to decide ethical choices made by a community of believers.
  3. It raises questions to judge the integrity behind the religious practices and whether they susceptible to conventional constitutional standards of justice and equality.

The scope of Article 26

  1. The respondents in favor of entry ban justified the ban on entry of women chiefly at two levels.
  2. First, the temple, they argued, enjoyed denominational status under Article 26 of the Constitution, which allowed it to determine the manner in which it managed its religious affairs.
  3. Second, prohibiting women of menstruating age is supported by the temple’s long-honoured custom for the deity’s celibacy concern.
  4. Further ban was supported by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965.
  5. The court repudiated the validity of Rule 3(b), which, it said is at the core of discrimination.

Essential practices doctrine

  1. The real centre of the dissent lies in Justice Malhotra’s principled critique of the essential practices doctrine to which the court has virtually assumed constitutional perspective.
  2. Ordinarily in determining whether a religious command is constitutionally protected, the courts have sought to test whether such a belief is essential to that religion.
  3. The issue of what constitutes an essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide.
  4. CJI found that entry ban dispensable, in that the “nature” of the Hindu religion would not be “fundamentally altered” by allowing women to enter the temple.
  5. Justice Malhotra notes that there may well be practices that are so pernicious and oppressive which might well demand the court’s interference.
  6. For example, denial to women of the right to serve as priests, or to be ordained as bishops, be considered oppressive.

Judging the rationality of faith

  1. The judgment leaves us wondering how far the right to freedom of religion can really extend.
  2. And to what extent a group’s collective liberty can influence an individual’s equal right to freedom of religion.
  3. The court must look beyond the essential practices doctrine and examine claims by applying a principle of “anti-exclusion”.
  4. Where a religious practice causes the exclusion of individuals impairing the dignity or hampers the access to basic goods of individuals, the over-arching values of a liberal Constitution must come to picture.

Way forward

  1. When a religious practice goes so far as to deny women equal status in society and when notions of purity and pollution are employed to perpetuate discrimination, the Constitutional mandate must prevail.
  2. The real test is to assess whether an exclusion founded on religious belief, essential or otherwise, encroaches on a person’s basic right to dignity.
  3. Discrimination couched as plurality cannot be allowed to undermine the Constitution’s basic “quest for equality”.
Temple entry for women : Gender Equality v/s Religious Freedom

WTO, IMF, World Bank seek ‘urgent’ international trade reforms

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WTO

Mains level: Decline of WTO regime in global trade and prospects for India


News

Joint report raises concerns

  1. The World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank had issued an emergency call to reform the multilateral trading system as the US retreats from prior agreements.
  2. The slow pace of reforms since the early 2000s, fundamental changes in a more interconnected modern economy and the risk of trade policy reversals call for urgency to re-energize trade policy reforms.

American arrogance on rise

  1. US has harshly criticized globalism in general and questioned America’s participation in multilateral institutions like the WTO during the UNGA meeting.
  2. The fallout from the escalating US-China trade conflict led the WTO to cut its trade growth forecast.
  3. WTO also warned that a full-blown trade war would knock around 17% off global trade growth, and 1.9% off GDP growth.

Focus on E-commerce

  1. The WTO, IMF and World Bank jointly called for new rules to address the expanding role of electronic commerce along with investment and services trade in the 21st century.
  2. The opportunities provided by information technology and other fundamental changes in the global economy are yet to be reflected in modern areas of trade policy.
  3. The three institutions also advocated the more so-called use of plurilateral talks to help unblock trade negotiations that have failed to advance at the multilateral level.

Emphasis on Plurilateral Accords

  1. Plurilateral accords are deals negotiated among a group of like-minded members that are limited to certain sectors of goods or services.
  2. Such agreements are typically easier and faster to negotiate than multilateral accords, which require a consensus among the WTO’s 164 members.

Revitalizing the Dispute Settlement Mechanism

  1. The joint report urged WTO members to work together to fix the impasse in the WTO dispute settlement system, which risks paralysis due to the Trump administration’s refusal to appoint appellate body members.
  2. Over the past year the US has cited a pattern of judicial overreach at the WTO and has blocked the appointment of experts to the appellate body, which has the final say in WTO dispute rulings.
  3. If the US continues to oppose new appointments to the panel beyond December 2019, the body will not have enough panelists to sign off on rulings.
  4. The WTO will lack the ability to fully adjudicate trade disputes involving the world’s largest companies.

Try to collect  few points for:

What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? (15) (CSE Mains, 2018)

WTO and India

Initiative to stop terrorist travel launched on UNGA sidelines

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mandate of the GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative

Mains level: Cross-border terrorism and ways to control it.


News

Context

  • The United States and Morocco launched the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Terrorist Travel Initiative.
  • The initiative brings together stakeholders to share expertise on how to develop and implement effective counterterrorism, watchlisting and screening tools.

GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative

  1. The initiative was announced on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
  2. The program will be run by the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), a multilateral organization founded in 2011 by the European Union and 29 nations, including the United States and Russia.
  3. Reinforcing Resolution 2396, which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council in December 2017, the initiative will reinforce methods for countries and organisations to stop terrorist travel.
  4. Terrorist travel is being curbed at the moment through Advanced Passenger Information (API), Passenger Name Record (PNR), and biometrics that have been prescribed in Resolution 2396.
  5. The initiative will convene a series of four regional workshops in 2018 and 2019 to develop recommendations, to be endorsed by a GCTF ministerial in 2019, according to the release.

Back2Basics

Global Counterterrorism Forum

  1. The Global Counter-terrorism Forum is an informal, apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism (CT) platform that was launched officially in New York on 22 September 2011.
  2. The GCTF’s mission is to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ civilian capabilities for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.
  3. The Forum works with partners around the globe to identify critical civilian needs to effectively counter terrorism, mobilize the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhance global CT cooperation.
  4. One of the key goals of the GCTF is to support and catalyze implementation of the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
  5. In pursuance of this goal, the GCTF works closely with UN bodies and with other relevant international and regional organizations, to reinforce, complement, and support multilateral CT and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts.
  6. The GCTF’s Coordinating Committee, which meets twice per year and provides strategic guidance on how best to address the evolving terrorist threat.
  7. Both India and Pakistan are founding members of this forum.
Internal Security Trends and Incidents

Govt forms committee on Corporate Social Responsibility

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CSR Provisions in India

Mains level: Reviewing the success of CSR activities in India and making proper modifications.


News

Context

  1. The government has constituted a High Level Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility-2018 (HLC-2018) under the Chairmanship of Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
  2. It is aimed to review the existing framework, guide and formulate the roadmap for a coherent policy on CSR.

Reviewing the CSR Framework

  1. According to MCA, the Committee will review the existing CSR framework as per Act, rules and circulars issued from time to time and recommend guidelines for better enforcement of CSR provisions.
  2. It will also analyse outcomes of CSR activities/programmes/projects and suggest measures for effective monitoring and evaluation of CSR by companies.
  3. Suggestions are also expected on innovative solutions, use of technology, platform to connect stakeholders, and social audit.

CSR Framework in India

  1. The provisions of section 135 of Companies Act, 2013 pertaining to CSR w.e.f 2014 with a view to promoting responsible and sustainable business through inclusive growth.
  2. As per the said section, the companies having Net worth of INR 500 crore or more; or Turnover of INR 1000 crore or more; or Net Profit  of  INR  5  crore  or  more  during  any  financial  year  shall  be  required  to  constitute  a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board
  3. The four years of implementation have enabled compilation of data on the number of companies complying with CSR provisions, funds allocated and spent across various sectors, geographical spread of CSR spending, etc.
  4. The existing provisions of in Companies Act, 2013 with respect to CSR fully empower the Board of a Company to decide on their CSR Policy, approve projects and oversee implementation.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Issues & Development

[pib] Government constitutes Competition Law Review Committee to review the Competition Act

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Competition Commission of India (CCI)

Mains level: Mandates and Functioning of various quasi-judicial bodies and their functioning


News

Context

  1. To ensure that Legislation is in sync with the needs of strong economic fundamentals, the Government has constituted a  Committee to review the Competition Act.
  2. During the past nine years the size of the Indian Economy has grown immensely and India is today amongst the top five Economies in the World and poised to forge ahead further.
  3. In this context, it is essential that Competition Law is strengthened, and re-calibrated to promote best practices which result in the citizens of this country achieving their aspirations and value for money.

Competition Commission of India

  1. The Competition Act was passed in the year 2002 and the Competition Commission of India was set up in pursuance of the same.
  2. A need was felt to promote competition and private enterprise especially in the light of 1991 Indian economic liberalisation.
  3. The Commission started functioning in right earnest from 2009 and has contributed immensely towards the development of competition and fair play practices in the Indian market.
  4. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition).

Tasks of assigned to the Committee

  1. To review the Competition Act/ Rules/ Regulations, in view of changing business environment and bring necessary changes, if required;
  2. To look into international best practices in the competition fields, especially anti-trust laws, merger guidelines and handling cross border competition issues;
  3. To study other regulatory regimes/ institutional mechanisms/ government policies which overlap with the Competition Act;
  4. Any other matters related to competition issue and considered necessary by the Committee.

[pib] Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  MGISC

Mains level: Nearing success of SBM-Rural.


News

Context

  1.  116 foreign delegates including sanitation ministers visited select sites related to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi on the “Gandhi Trail”.
  2. The “Gandhi Trail” is a trip to Gujarat, where the delegates will visit the Sabarmati Ashram and see Swachh Bharat at work on the ground in Punsari village.

Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention

  1. The President has inaugurated the MGISC organised by the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry to mark the beginning of the 150thbirth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.
  2. The MGISC is a four-day convention which includes more than 160 international representatives from 68 countries.
  3. It aims to share sanitation success stories and lessons from the participating countries.

 Reality Check on ODF status

  1. India is close to becoming open defecation free.
  2. The rural sanitation coverage of India has increased significantly, from 39% in October 2014 to 94.44% as of 30 September 2018.
  3. Nearly 86.5 million household toilets have been constructed under the Mission.
  4. 25 States/Union Territories, 509 districts, and 500,000 villages have declared themselves free from open defecation.
  5. The number of people practicing open defecation in rural India has gone down from 550 million in 2014, to less than 150 million till date.
Swachh Bharat Mission

MCC to kick in right after premature dissolution of Assembly: EC

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Model Code of Conduct

Mains level: Read the attached story.


News

MCC in Telangana

  1. The Election Commission has issued an order on the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct from the date a state dissolves its Assembly and seeks early elections in Telangana.
  2. Telangana CM K.C. Rao has recommended dissolution of the House to avoid possible clubbing of the Assembly elections in the state with Lok Sabha elections.

In context of SR Bommai Case

  1. The EC issued the order keeping the Supreme Court’s observation in S R Bommai Vs Union of India (1994) case.
  2. It said neither the caretaker state government nor the central government shall announce any new schemes and projects in respect of the state or undertake any of the activities prohibited under the Part-VII of the MCC.
  3. The EC said in case of premature dissolution of legislative assembly, the provisions of Part-VII (Party in Power) of the MCC shall come into operation with immediate effect in the state concerned.
  4. The MCC shall continue to be in force till the completion of the election to constitute the new legislative assembly.

Back2Basics

Model Code of Conduct

  1. The MCC is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections.
  2. It is mainly regulated with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
  3. These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit.
  4. MCC comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections.

Highlights of the Codes

  1. Government bodies are not to participate in any recruitment process during the electoral process.
  2. The contesting candidates and their campaigners must respect the home life of their rivals and should not disturb them by holding road shows or demonstrations in front of their houses. The code tells the candidates to keep it.
  3. The election campaign rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic.
  4. Candidates are asked to refrain from distributing liquor to voters. It is a widely known fact in India that during election campaigning, liquor may be distributed to the voters.
  5. The election code in force hinders the government or ruling party leaders from launching new welfare programmes like construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc. or any ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
  6. The code instructs that public spaces like meeting grounds, helipads, government guest houses and bungalows should be equally shared among the contesting candidates. These public spaces should not be monopolized by a few candidates.
  7. On polling day, all party candidates should cooperate with the poll-duty officials at the voting booths for an orderly voting process.
  8. Candidates should not display their election symbols near and around the poll booths on the polling day. No one should enter the booths without a valid pass from the Election Commission.
  9. There will be poll observers to whom any complaints can be reported or submitted.
  10. The ruling party should not use its seat of power for the campaign purposes.
  11. The ruling party ministers should not make any ad-hoc appointment of officials, which may influence the voters in favour of the party in power.
  12. Before using loud speakers during their poll campaigning, candidates and political parties must obtain permission or license from the local authorities.
  13. The candidates should inform the local police for conducting election rallies to enable the police authorities to make required security arrangements.

For further reading on MCC, navigate to this page:

Model Code of Conduct: Evolution, Enforcement, Effects, Legal Status

Electoral Reforms In India