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July 2019

Delhi Full Statehood Issue

[op-ed of the day] The primacy of the elected


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing MUch

Mains level : Puducherry Governance Crisis should be resolved as soon as possible.

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.


1.Federalism Endangered

Dismantling the Planning Commission and transferring its power to make state grants to the Finance Ministry; introducing terms of reference to the Finance Commission which threaten to lower the revenue share of the southern States; and the partisan use of the Governor’s office to appoint Chief Ministers in cases of hung Assemblies.

2.President’s Rule

  • The most blatant abuse of power was the imposition of President’s Rule in Opposition-ruled Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, decisions the Supreme Court subsequently held as unconstitutional.
  • Further, through the Lieutenant Governor (LG), the Centre ran a protracted war with the Delhi government which brought its administration to a stalemate until the Supreme Court affirmed the primacy of the elected government.
  • A similar long-running battle between the LG and Chief Minister of Puducherry has now reached the Supreme Court.

Distinct provisions in Puducherry


  • Since the appointment of Kiran Bedi as the LG in May 2016, Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy has protested her continual interference in the daily affairs of the Puducherry government and running an alleged parallel administration.
  • When this was legally challenged, the Madras High Court quashed the clarifications issued by the Union government and ruled that the LG must work on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers and not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the government.
  • The Union government challenged this decision in the Supreme Court where a vacation Bench passed interim orders recently restricting the Puducherry cabinet from taking key decisions until further hearing.

Puducherry and Delhi comparison

  • Puducherry, like Delhi, is a Union Territory with an elected legislative Assembly and the executive constituted by the Lieutenant Governor and Council of Ministers.
  • However, Puducherry and Delhi derive their powers from distinct constitutional provisions.

1.Article 239 A and 239 AA-

While Article 239AA lays out the scope and limits of the powers of the legislative assembly and council of ministers for Delhi, Article 239A is merely an enabling provision which allows Parliament to create a law for Puducherry.

No restrictions – Interestingly, while Article 239AA restricts Delhi from creating laws in subjects such as police, public order and land, no such restriction exists for Puducherry under Article 239A.

Broader lawmaking power than Delhi – In fact, the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 which governs Puducherry vests the legislative assembly with the power to make laws on “any of the matters enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List”. Hence, the legislative and executive powers of Puducherry are actually broader than that of Delhi.

2.Limited power of LG –

After analysing the laws and rules governing Puducherry, the Madras High Court held that the LG has very limited independent powers.

Article 239B – Under Article 239B, the LG can issue an ordinance only when the Assembly is not in session and with the prior approval of the President.

On the difference of opinion – If there is a “difference of opinion” between the LG and the cabinet on “any matter”, like in Delhi, the LG can refer it to the President or resolve it herself if it is expedient.

Only in exceptional” situations – However, the Supreme Court in the NCT Delhi case held that “any matter” shall not mean “all matters” and it should be used only for “exceptional” situations. Hence, there is no legal basis for the LG to exercise powers independently and bypass the elected government of Puducherry.

Way Forward

Respecting federalism

Primacy of elected government – The Supreme Court, in the NCT Delhi case, rightly employed a purposive interpretation of the Constitution to hold that since representative government is a basic feature of the Constitution, the elected government must have primacy.

Upholding High Court’s Order – Given this precedent and the fact that Puducherry has lesser legal restrictions on its powers, the Supreme Court should uphold the Madras High Court judgment and ensure that the LG acts only as per the aid and advice of the elected government.

Upholding Federalism –  While Puducherry may not be a “State” under the Constitution, the principle of federalism should not be restricted to States but also include the legislative Assemblies of Union Territories and, arguably, councils of local governments.


As more centralising measures such as simultaneous elections to Parliament and State Assemblies are being proposed by the Centre, it is important to reaffirm the values of federalism at every forum.

Explained: Hong Kong political crisis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Decolonization of Asian countries and its aftermath


  • Hong Kong held one of its biggest rallies in recent years earlier this month to honor the hundreds or possibly thousands killed in the army assault.
  • The events in the former British colony mark possibly its biggest political crisis since its handover to Chinese rule in 1997.
  • The demonstrations follow the 30th anniversary of China’s bloody suppression of the student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
  • This march for democracy poses a profound challenge to Chinese rule under Communist Party.

About Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China.
  • It became a colony of the British Empire at the end of the First Opium War in 1842.
  • Sovereignty over the territory was returned to China in 1997.
  • As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains governing and economic systems that are separate from those of mainland China.
  • The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration guarantees the Basic Law for 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty.
  • It does not specify how Hong Kong will be governed after 2047, and the central government’s role in determining the territory’s future system of government is the subject of political debate and speculation.

The controversial legislation

  • The furious mob broke out against the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposed by the Hong Kong government.
  • Concerns are raised over the removal of the firewall of the legal systems between Hong Kong and Mainland China.
  • With the law being passed, Hong Kong citizens and foreign nationals passing through the city could fall victim to the Chinese legal system where the courts are under political control.

A scuffle with West

  • The disturbances pose a challenge to Western governments at a particularly fraught moment in global affairs. Relations between the US and China are on a knife’s edge over trade and other issues.
  • This includes sales of sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan, tightening sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, moves to bar the telecommunications supplier Huawei from building 5G networks of US allies, including Australia, and a confrontational approach to China in Washington more generally.

Chinese stance

  • China perceives these activities to be foreign-inspired.
  • Beijing’s moves to tighten its grip over Hong Kong which was promised the right to maintain its own political, economic and social institutions for 50 years following the end of British rule.
  • Be it human or political rights issue is very much contested in China.
  • Certain controversial events and political movements are often described by China as the “subversion of state power” and “protection of state secrets”.

Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

US Ban on Baloch Liberation Army


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • The U.S. on July 2 designated the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) as a terror organisation.
  • The BLA, the armed wing of the Baloch movement, has carried out several violent attacks in Pakistan.
  • It has about 6,000 cadres spread across the Balochistan Province and in the bordering areas of Afghanistan.

The Baloch Freedom Movement

  • The BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan against the state atrocity.
  • In the seven decades of the Baloch movement, the BLA has survived the longest.
  • It is borne out of the tradition of armed militants who were earlier indirectly supported by the Marri, Bugti, Mengal and other clans or sardars.
  • The Baloch movement was influenced by the Soviet Union and radical Marxist ideology in the past and some of their leaders were trained by Moscow.
  • The BLA continues to draw from the same revolutionary spirit but has added that to the younger generation of fighters.

Why is ban imposed?

  • The BLA has often been accused of launching attacks on Pakistan’s military targets and on Chinese-built infrastructure.
  • The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also passing through Balochistan.
  • In 2017, a group of labourers were targeted by Baloch militants. The attack that led to at least 15 deaths was widely condemned as it targeted labourers.

The ideology

  • BLA rebels claim that Pakistan has been exploiting the resources of the Province without giving the due share to the locals and the indigenous Baloch tribes.
  • In recent years, the BLA has emerged as a movement with a network of supporters in both urban and rural areas of Balochistan, and has created a space for itself away from the traditional hold of the sardars of tribes.
  • BLA rebels have claimed that they are aiming for both freedom from Pakistan and internal reform of the Baloch society.
  • They are opposed to the traditional sardar or Kawailey system at home.

Reason behind popularity

  • As a result of its non-traditional approach, BLA has become more popular among young and educated Balochis.
  • The Free Balochistan Movement and the Baloch Republican Party are led by scions of the Marri and Bugti clans.
  • Both the Marris and the Bugtis have suffered in the hands of the Pakistan military but do not espouse a direct military confrontation with the Pakistani state.
  • Observers say that the BLA has jolted not just the grip of Pakistan over Balochistan but also undermined the hold of the traditional tribal chiefs over the Baloch society.

India’s ties with Baloch rebels

  • It is established that BLA commanders, in the past, had sought medical treatment in India’s hospitals, often under disguise or with fake identity.
  • In one such case, a militant commander in charge of Khuzdar city was based in Delhi for at least six months in 2017 when he underwent extensive treatment for kidney-related ailments.
  • Pakistan has blamed India for supporting the Baloch rebels as many secessionist leaders in exile are trying to seek political asylum in India.
  • It is known that the Baloch sardars like the late Akbar Bugti and Ghaus Bukhsh Bizenjo maintained warm personal ties with various Indian political figures.
  • However, visits by militants are often under assumed identities unlike those by prominent well known leaders.

Implications of the ban

  • Pakistan is expected to make it difficult for commanders and module chiefs of the BLA to travel in the region.
  • The fighters are also likely to find fund-raising more difficult.
  • Baloch rebels, however, have indicated that they are planning to intensify the struggle against Pakistan as they remain “the most popular” militant organisation in Balochistan despite Pakistan military’s crackdown.

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

Minimum Support Price (MSP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSP

Mains level : various initiatives for doubling farmers income

  • Even as the slow movement of the monsoon has drastically affected the Kharif crops across the country the Union Cabinet has announced a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of 14 Kharif crops.

Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • MSP is a form of market intervention by the Govt. of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.
  • MSP is price fixed by GoI to protect the producer – farmers – against excessive fall in price during bumper production years.

Who announces it?

  • MSP are announced at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on recommendations by Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) and announced by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the PM of India.

Why MSP?

  • The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution.
  • They are a guarantee price for their produce from the Government.
  • In case the market price for the commodity falls below the announced MSP due to bumper production and glut in the market, government agencies purchase the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced MSP.

Historical perspective

  • Till the mid 1970s, Government announced two types of administered prices:
  1. Minimum Support Prices (MSP)
  2. Procurement Prices
  • The MSPs served as the floor prices and were fixed by the Govt. in the nature of a long-term guarantee for investment decisions of producers, with the assurance that prices of their commodities would not be allowed to fall below the level fixed by the Government, even in the case of a bumper crop.
  • Procurement prices were the prices of kharif and rabi cereals at which the grain was to be domestically procured by public agencies (like the FCI) for release through PDS.
  • It was announced soon after harvest began.
  • Normally procurement price was lower than the open market price and higher than the MSP.

Crops Covered

  1. Government announces minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 mandated crops and fair and remunerative price (FRP) for sugarcane.
  2. The mandated crops are 14 crops of the kharif season, 6 rabi crops and two other commercial crops.
  3. The list of crops is as follows:
  • Cereals (7) – paddy, wheat, barley, jowar, bajra, maize and ragi
  • Pulses (5) – gram, arhar/tur, moong, urad and lentil
  • Oilseeds (8) – groundnut, rapeseed/mustard, toria, soyabean, sunflower seed, sesamum, safflower seed and nigerseed
  • Raw cotton
  • Raw jute
  • Copra
  • De-husked coconut
  • Sugarcane (Fair and remunerative price)
  • Virginia flu cured (VFC) tobacco

Exception for Sugar

  • The pricing of sugarcane is governed by the statutory provisions of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 issued under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955.
  • Prior to 2009-10 sugar season, the Central Government was fixing the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) of sugarcane and farmers were entitled to share profits of a sugar mill on 50:50 basis.
  • As this sharing of profits remained virtually unimplemented, the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 was amended in October, 2009 and the concept of SMP was replaced by the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane.
  • A new clause ‘reasonable margins for growers of sugarcane on account of risk and profits’ was inserted as an additional factor for working out FRP and this was made effective from the 2009-10 sugar season.

With inputs from:

Surrogacy in India

Cabinet clears Bill banning Commercial Surrogacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Surrogacy

Mains level : Surrogacy regulation in India

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 to ban commercial surrogacy in India.


  • India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries.
  • There have been reports concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, and rackets involving intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes.
  • The 228th report of the Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.

What is Surrogacy?

  • Surrogacy is considered one of many assisted reproductive technologies.
  • It is an arrangement, often supported by a legal agreement, whereby a woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another person(s) who is or will become the parent(s) of the child.
  • People may seek a surrogacy arrangement when pregnancy is medically impossible, when pregnancy risks are too dangerous for the intended mother, or when a single man or a male couple wishes to have a child.

About the Bill

  • The Bill proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the State and UTs.
  • It aims to prohibit commercial surrogacy and allows surrogacy services only for married Indian couples who have no children.

Why such bill again?

  • The Bill had been passed by the 16th Lok Sabha but lapsed after it did not clear the Rajya Sabha.
  • There have been several reports about the exploitation of surrogate mothers, who are confined to “hostels” during pregnancy.
  • They are not allowed to meet their families and were forced to do it for a paltry amount, putting their own bodies at risk.


  • The benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country.
  • While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the infertile couples will be allowed on fulfillment of conditions.
  • It will also prohibit exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

Assist this newscard with:

Explained: Altruistic Surrogacy


Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Coral Rehabilitation Programme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coral Rehab Programme

Mains level : Artificial coral reefs

Melted plastic rocks: A bad idea

  • The National Centre for Coastal Research’s (NCCR) proposed for dropping ‘melted plastic rocks or slabs’ on the seabed for growing coral reefs and address the problem of disposal of plastic waste.
  • This has drawn criticism from the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) Marine National Park, which has been implementing coral rehabilitation programme since 2002.

Why criticism?

  • The NCCR suggested that plastic waste materials could simply be wound around as hard substrates as a way of disposing of them and help build coral colonies.
  • Worn out tyres were tried as artificial reefs in Florida and Costa Rica, but they turned out to be disastrous.
  • The clustered old tyres initially attracted many marine organisms but they later collapsed and littered beaches.
  • Corals in the GoM were already stressed and bleached under climate change and the NCCR’s idea would turn the reefs into graveyards.
  • The structures might support proliferation of algae in the beginning, but would destroy corals eventually.

About the Coral Rehabilitation Programme

  • The GoM Marine National Park had been implementing the corral rehabilitation programme since 2002.
  • It has so far covered eight sq km areas in GoM region, where coral reefs suffered bleaching and degradation due to climate change and high temperature.
  • The program employs ‘concrete frame slabs’ method.
  • As the sea would be rough during the southwest monsoon season, they commence the insertion of slabs after the end of the season.
  • Corals would start growing in 60 days using the concrete frames as sub-state. The acropora coral species grow by 10 to 12 cm per year on these slabs.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] Kisan Credit Cards for Fishermen


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kisan Credit Card Scheme

Mains level : Easy credit facilities for Farmers

  • The GoI has extended the facility of Kisan Credit Card (KCC) to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs.

KCC facility for Fishermen

  • The KCC facility will help fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to meet their short term credit requirements of rearing of animals, poultry birds, fish, shrimp, other aquatic organisms and capture of fish.
  • Under this, for the existing KCC holders the credit limit is Rs. 3 lakh including animal husbandry and fisheries activities whereas the KCC holders for animal husbandry and fisheries have the credit limit of Rs. 2 lakh.
  • It would help them to meet their working capital requirements for animal husbandry and fisheries activities.
  • Under KCC facility, Interest subvention is available for animal husbandry and fisheries farmers @ 2% per annum at the time of disbursal of loan and additional interest subvention @ 3 % per annum in case of prompt repayment as Prompt Repayment Incentive.


Kisan Credit Card Scheme

  • The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme is a credit scheme introduced in August 1998 by Indian banks.
  • This model scheme was prepared by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on the recommendations of RV Gupta to provide term loans and agricultural needs.
  • Its objective is to meet the comprehensive credit requirements of the agriculture sector by giving financial support to farmers.
  • Participating institutions include all commercial banks, Regional Rural Banks, and state co-operative banks.
  • The scheme has short term credit limits for crops, and term loans.
  • Kisan Credit Card (KCC) offering credit to the farmers in two types viz, 1. Cash Credit 2. Term Credit ( for allied activities such as pump sets, land development, plantation, drip irrigation).

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Urban Floods

[op-ed snap] Mumbai marooned


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Urban Floods in Mumbai


Mumbai once again struggled to stay afloat after the first heavy spell of rain this year, bringing back memories of the July 2005 flood. Each massive rainfall event is making it evident that the city is putting on a brave front and projecting resilience, but the failure of the Maharashtra government to upgrade its tattered infrastructure is taking a heavy toll and weighing down on the financial capital.

Impact of monsoon

  • A single day of rain has killed 22 people in a wall collapse in north Mumbai, while many more died in Pune and elsewhere.
  • In Ratnagiri, a dam gave way creating a catastrophe; flights have been cancelled and normal life is affected.
  • Clearly, the State government should have regarded the 94 cm of rain that paralysed Mumbai in one day 14 years ago as the baseline disaster to prepare for.

Ineffective Administration

  • That it could not manage 37 cm in 24 hours, that too after incurring a massive expenditure on management projects, shows a lack of resolve among political leaders, rampant inefficiency and lack of integrity in the administrative machinery.
  • As one of the wettest metropolises in India getting about 210 cm of rain annually, it should have been a top order priority to restore rivers and canals to manage floods.
  • The government s needs to explain why Mumbai is yet unprepared to cope, especially when rainfall is projected to become erratic in coming years, and when scientific insights point to intense rainfall in a short span of time, driven by warmer oceans and hotter cities.

CAG’s Report on ineffectiveness

  • In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor General identified prolonged delays in the upgrading of storm water drain infrastructure in Mumbai.
  • On the other hand, after the deluge of 2005, the consensus was for the flood-carrying capacity of the Mithi river in the city to be increased.
  • But the choked and polluted river was again overflowing this year.

Change in monsoon rainfall pattern

  • Beyond the sclerotic management of flood waters that relies on storm drains in Mumbai, and several other Indian cities, there is a need for a new urban paradigm.
  • For one thing, Mumbai, Thane, Ratnagiri and Raigad have, during the last century, displayed a high seasonality index, indicating a relatively small monsoon window bringing a lot of rain.
  • This is in contrast to steady, prolonged rain in the central districts in Maharashtra.
  • So a new climate change-influenced normal could mean fewer days of torrential rain and erratic monsoons.

Way Forward

  • Managing them calls for a new approach that is ecological, and makes restoration of existing urban wetlands and creation of reservoirs and water channels a high priority.
  • The water question is the biggest challenge for Indian cities today, as both drought and flood are common.
  • State governments should give it priority and address it by making urban planning people-centric. A strong framework is needed to manage water, starting with Mumbai.