[op-ed of the day] India’s foreign policy needs rework in the next five years

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Changes required in India's Foreign Policy


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.

CONTEXT

In the coming five years, a host of geopolitical and economic issues need to be reconciled.

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained a frenetic pace, renewing contacts with world leaders ever since the results of general election 2019.
  • G-20 – He was the cynosure of all eyes at the G-20 meeting in June, in Osaka.
  • BRICs informal meeting – At the BRICs informal meeting, also in Osaka, he called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation and for a global conference on terrorism. He discussed counter-terrorism and climate change issues at separate meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
  • Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping – He participated in the Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping, arguing for a “rules based order” in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • He met with U.S. President Donald Trump, to discuss the future of India-U.S. relations.

Present Situation

  • The global situation has altered.
  • Rivalries among nations have intensified.
  • There is virtual elimination of the middle ground in global politics, and it has become far more adversarial than at any time previously.
  • Even the definition of a liberal order seems to be undergoing changes.
  • Several more countries today profess support for their kind of liberalism, including Russia and China.
  • At the other end, western democracy appears far less liberal today.

China, U.S. and Asian realities

1.South Asia –

  • South Asia, in particular, and the region of our highest priority, according to the new External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, needs close attention.
  • The region is one of the most disturbed in the world and India has little or no say in any of the outcomes taking place.
  • Pakistan – India-Pakistan relations are perhaps at their lowest point.
  • Afghanistan – India has no role in Afghan affairs and is also excluded from current talks involving the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, the U.S. and even Russia and China.
  • India might have recouped its position more recently in the Maldives, but its position in Nepal and Sri Lanka remains tenuous.

2.China

  • Across much of Asia, China is the major challenge that India has to contend with.
  • BRI – Smaller countries in the region are being inveigled to participate in China’s programmes such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India and Bhutan are the only two countries in this region that have opted out of the BRI, and they seem like the odd men out.
  • The challenge in the coming years for India is to check the slide, especially in Asia, and try and restore India to the position it held previously.

3.USA

  • New Cold War – Deepening India-U.S. relations today again carry the danger of India becoming involved in a new kind of Cold War.
  • Not to be a paw – India must ensure that it does not become a party to the conflicts and rivalries between the U.S. and a rising China, the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and also avoid becoming a pawn in the U.S.-Iran conflict.
  • National Defence Authorisation Act  – There is little doubt that current India-U.S. relations provide India better access to state-of-the-art defence items; the recent passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act in the U.S. makes India virtually a non-NATO ally. However, such close identification comes with a price.
  • Tensions between India and China – Closer relations with the U.S. also carries the risk of aggravating tensions between India and China, even as China and the U.S. engage in contesting every domain and are involved in intense rivalry in military matters as well as competition on technology issues.

The U.S.-China-Russia conflict –

  • The U.S.-China-Russia conflict has another dimension which could affect India adversely.
  • The strategic axis forged between the Mr. Putin’s Russia and Mr. Xi’s China will impact not only the U.S. but also India’s position in both Asia and Eurasia, with India being seen as increasingly aligned to the U.S. Hence, India needs to devise a policy that does not leave it isolated in the region.

Disruptive Technology domain

  • Dominant power – Today, disruptive technologies have tremendous danger potential and nations that possess these technologies have the ability to become the dominant powers in the 21st and 22nd Centuries.
  • Lagging Behind others – A major challenge for India will hence be how to overcome our current inadequacies in the realm of disruptive technologies rather than remaining confined to the purely military domain.
  • Cyberspace – The U.S., China, Russia, Israel and few other countries dominate these spheres as also cyberspace and cyber methodologies.
  • Growth in disruptive technology matrix – New policy parameters will need to be drawn up by India, and our capabilities enhanced in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber methodology, all of which constitute critical elements of the disruptive technology matrix.

Focus on Economy

Notwithstanding India’s ambition to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, the reality today is that the economy appears to be in a state of decline. Jobs, especially skilled jobs, are not available in sufficient numbers and this should be a matter for concern.

Conclusion

The looming challenge for India in the coming five years, therefore, would be how to build a strong economic foundation, one that is capable of providing the kind of power structure needed for an emerging power, and also one possessing the best liberal credentials.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations

[op-ed snap] Karnataka conundrum

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Issues in Anti-defection


CONTEXT

The Supreme Court’s decision to ask the parties to the political crisis in Karnataka to maintain the status quo until it examines the questions of law involved, is pragmatic and expedient.

Details Of Order

  • The Speaker has been asked not to decide the issue of MLAs’ resignation or disqualification.
  • An order has been passed when one of the questions to be decided is whether the court can give such a direction to the Speaker.
  • It now transpires that legislators can be prevented from resigning by claiming that they have incurred disqualification.

Order of events

  • It was argued in court that “the rebel MLAs are trying to avoid disqualification by tendering resignations.”
  • This is astounding, as the penalty for defection is loss of legislative office.
  • Quitting the current post before joining another party is a legal and moral obligation.
  • Defection is condemnable, especially if it is to bring down one regime and form another.
  • But politicians cannot be tied down to parties against their will by not letting them leave even their legislative positions.
  • Even if it can be argued that two MLAs had pending disqualification proceedings against them, what about the rest?
  • They say they tried to meet the Speaker, but could not.
  • They may have been wrong to rush to the court without getting an appointment with the Speaker, but in the few intervening days, their parties issued a whip to all MLAs to be present in the House and vote for the government.
  • Converting resignation into a disqualification matter is an attempt to deny a member’s right to quit his seat in the legislature before joining another party, even if the crossing-over is a politically expedient measure.
  • The logic seems to be that a disqualified member cannot become a Minister without getting elected again, whereas one who resigns can be inducted into an alternative Cabinet without being a member.
  • Accepting a resignation is a simple function of being satisfied if it is voluntary, while disqualification is decided on evidence and inquiry.
  • The two should not be mixed up.

Constitutional Issue

  • The ongoing proceedings represent an increasingly common trend in litigation on constitutional issues: the propensity of the political class to twist and stretch the law in their favour and leave it to the court to set things right.
  • The Speaker already enjoys extraordinary powers under the Constitution.
  • In addition to immunity from judicial scrutiny for legislative matters, such as whether a Bill is a money bill, presiding officers get to decide whether a member has incurred disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • Though the decision is subject to judicial review, many Speakers have evaded judicial scrutiny by merely not acting on disqualification matters.

Conclusion

  • The question whether the Speaker’s inaction can be challenged in court is pending before another Constitution Bench. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have instances of Speakers not acting on disqualification questions for years.
  • The current crisis in Karnataka has exposed a new dimension to such partisan action.
Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

[op-ed snap] Ecological perils of discounting the future

Mains Paper 1 : Urbanization, Their Problems & Remedies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Managing urban water bodies


CONTEXT

  • In a report last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) called the Chennai floods of 2015 a “man made disaster”, a pointer to how the encroachment of lakes and river floodplains has driven India’s sixth largest city to this ineluctable situation.
  • The Chennai floods are a symbol of consistent human failings and poor urban design which are common to most urban centres in India if not urban centres across the world. Now, Chennai is in the midst of another crisis — one of water scarcity.

Urban Situation

  • Unlike issues such as traffic congestion or crime which are visible, environmental degradation is not what most people can easily see or feel in their every day lives.
  • Therefore, when the consequences of such degradation begin to wreak havoc, it becomes difficult to draw the correlation between nature’s vengeance with human failings.
  • In Chennai, more than 30 waterbodies of significance have disappeared in the past century.
  • Concretisation or the increase in paved surfaces has affected the percolation of rainwater into the soil, thereby depleting groundwater levels to a point of no return.

Urbanisation without vision

  • Chennai, however, is not alone in terms of suffering from the consequences of human folly.
  • Urbanisation at the cost of reclaiming water bodies is a pan-India if not worldwide phenomenon.
  • There are examples in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and even Mexico city.
  • In Bengaluru, 15 lakes have lost their ecological character in less than five years according to a High Court notice to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s administrative body responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets.
  • The lakes, which are now encroached areas, find use as a bus stand, a stadium and, quite ironically, as an office of the Pollution Control Board.
  • In Mexico city, what was once a network of lakes built by the Aztecs in the 11th and 12th centuries, has given way to a downtown city centre.
  • Parts of the city, especially downtown, sink a few metres every year causing immense damage to buildings.
  • Mismanaged urbanisation and encroachments: Chennai continues to lose out on its water resources

     

    Case study of Telangana

  • In Telangana, the byzantine network of tanks and lakes built by the Kakatiya dynasty has disappeared over the years.
  • However, the question is not about what follies were committed in the past, but about what we can do in the present and, more importantly, for the future.
  • In Telangana, “tanks have been the lifeline of the State because of its geographical positioning”.
  • The State’s “topography and rainfall pattern have made tank irrigation an ideal type of irrigation by storing and regulating water flow for agricultural use”.
  • The Telangana example of water rejuvenation
  • The Chief Minister of Telangana launched a massive rejuvenation movement in form of “Mission Kakatiya” which involves the restoration of irrigation tanks and lakes/minor irrigation sources built by the Kakatiya dynasty.
  • From the perspective of inter-generational justice, this is a move towards giving future generations in the State their rightful share of water and, therefore, a life of dignity.
  • The city of Hyderabad is now moving towards a sustainable hydraulic model with some of the best minds in the country working on it.
  • This model integrates six sources of water in a way that even the most underdeveloped areas of the city can have equitable access to water resources and the groundwater levels restored in order to avoid a calamity of the kind that has gripped Chennai now.

 

International Examples

  • When Mexico city can create a new executive position of a “resilience officer” to save its sinking urban sprawls, Bengaluru can reclaim Kundalahalli lake (once a landfill) through corporate social responsibility funds in a Public Private Partnership model, and Hyderabad and the larger state of Telangana rebuild its resilience through a combination of political will and well-designed policies such as the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme and Mission, what stops us from learning from each other?
  • Why should other urban centres shy away from adopting, remodelling and implementing some of the best water management practices to avoid disaster?
  • The answer perhaps lies in the tendency of policymakers to discount the future and of their obsession of focussing on the here and now.

 

Conclusion

  • It is estimated that in just 30 years from now, half of India will be living in cities.
  • If we truly envision a great future for this country, how can we possibly risk the lives of half of our people and the next generations who could be facing a life in cities parched by drought, stranded by floods, mortified by earthquakes or torn by wars over fresh water?
  • What has happened in Chennai now or what happened in Kerala last year in the form of floods are not a case of setting alarm bells ringing, but one of explosions.
  • If we do not wake up now, we have to be prepared to face the consequences of nature wreaking great havoc on humanity.
  • We would not need nuclear bombs for our obliteration.
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Explained: Overseas Bond

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Overseas bond

Mains level : Financial implications of Overseas bonds


News

Context

  • Finance Minister announced in her Budget speech plans to raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets.
  • The government and the RBI will reportedly finalise the plans for the overseas issue of sovereign bonds by September.
  • While several commentators have argued that this is a risky move, the government itself is convinced that it will help boost private investment in the country.

Bonds

  • A bond, also known as a fixed-income security, is a debt instrument created for the purpose of raising capital.
  • They are essentially loan agreements between the bond issuer and an investor, in which the bond issuer is obligated to pay a specified amount of money at specified future dates.

Overseas Bond

  • A government bond or sovereign bond is a form of debt that the government undertakes wherein it issues bonds with the promise to pay periodic interest payments and also repay the entire face value of the bond on the maturity date.
  • So far, the government has only issued bonds in the domestic market.
  • According to FM, India’s sovereign external debt to GDP ratio is among the lowest around the world, at less than 5%.
  • Against this background, the government will start raising a part of its gross borrowing programme in external markets in external currencies.

Why issue such bonds?

  • Government borrowing is at such a level that there are not enough funds available for the private sector to adequately meet its credit and investment needs.
  • If the private sector cannot borrow adequately, then it cannot invest as it wants to, and that cripples one major engine of economic growth.
  • Government borrowing accounts for about 80-85% of domestic savings.
  • The overseas borrowing programme allows the government to maintain its gradual reduction of the fiscal deficit.
  • Borrowing overseas allows the government to raise funds in such a way that there is enough domestic credit available for the private sector.

Pricing of the bonds

  • The appetite of the international market for Indian bonds and their price will say a lot about how India is viewed globally on the risk factor.
  • For example, if the rate at which India can borrow overseas is low, then this would mean the global market assigns a low risk to India defaulting.

Risks associated

  • Several economists have expressed their concerns over the fact that India might follow the path of some Central and South American countries such as Mexico and Brazil.
  • In the 1970s, several of these countries borrowed heavily overseas when the global market was flush with liquidity.
  • But then, when their currencies depreciated sharply a decade later, these countries were in big trouble as they could not repay their debt.
  • India is not likely to be viewed as a risky proposition by the international market and so is likely to fetch an attractive rate for the bonds.

I. Limitations on borrowing

  • Cheap and plentiful funds should not encourage the government to borrow too heavily from abroad.
  • Another risk to India from overseas borrowings is that this would lead to a quicker increase to its foreign exchange reserves, which would lead to a stronger rupee at a time when it is already appreciating against the dollar.
  • This would be an adverse outcome.

II. Uncontrolled Imports

  • A stronger rupee would encourage imports at a time when the government is trying to curb them, and discourage exports at a time when they are being encouraged.
  • On the other hand, rupee depreciation for whatever external reason would prove even more disastrous as it would make it far more expensive for India to repay its external debt.

III. Less Control over Inflation

  • Another problem with an overseas bond issue is that the government would not be able to inflate itself out of trouble.
  • That is, in the domestic market, if the government does ever reach the stage where it is finding it difficult to repay its debt, it can simply print more money, let inflation rise quickly and repay its debt.
  • This is not an option in an overseas bond issue. The Indian government cannot print foreign currency to repay its debt.

IV. Impact on Domestic market

  • According to the government’s own reasoning, there are not enough funds in the domestic market to cater to its needs as well as those of the private sector.
  • This shallowness of the bond market is not a good thing, especially at a time when the government needs the bond market to finance several of its commitments.
  • The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, for example, involves State governments taking over the debt of State power distribution companies and issuing bonds to repay that debt.
  • A shallow bond market would make it difficult for the government to expand any of these schemes.

Conclusion

  • Ideally, the government should have enough revenue that it does not need to borrow as much.
  • However, at a time when both direct and indirect tax collections have disappointed, the government is forced to borrow to finance its expenditure.
  • In such a scenario, it is a welcome move for the private sector that the government is leaving it room to borrow in the domestic market.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

Law Commission

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Law Commission if India

Mains level : Mandate of the Law Commission


News

  • With the country left without a Law Commission since September 2018, the Law Ministry has initiated the process of setting up the body which gives advice to the government on complex legal issues.
  • The three-year term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31 last year. On at least one occasion, the Ministry had moved the proposal to reconstitute the panel.

Law Commission of India

  • It is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. First law commission of independent India was established post the Independence in 1955.
  • The Cabinet approves reconstitution of the law panel for a period of three years. It is usually headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Composition: Chairman, 1 Permanent Member, 1 Member Secretary, 2 Part-time Members, 2 ex-officio
    members. (21 st Law Commission Chairman: Justice BN Chauhan)
  • Tenure: 3 Years
  • Function: Advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice for “Legal Reforms in India”
  • Recommendations: NOT binding
  • First Law Commission was established during the British Raj in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833 under Macaulay.
  • It recommended for the Codifications of the IPC, CrPC etc.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

Mains level : Various initiatives for water conservation


News

  • PM in his latest Mann ki Baat emphasized on the need for dedicated efforts towards water conservation and ‘Jal Shakti, Jan Shakti’ initiative which is inspired from Jalyukta Shivar scheme of Maharashtra.
  • Such regional schemes can be a benchmark for their replication at pan India level.

Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

  • Jalyukta Shivar is the flagship programme of the Maharashtra government launched in December 2014 which aims to make 5,000 villages free of water scarcity.
  • The scheme targeted drought-prone areas by improving water conservation measures in order to make them more water sustainable.
  • It envisaged to arrest maximum run-off water, especially during the monsoon months, in village areas known to receive less rainfall, annually.

Initiatives under the scheme

  • Under the scheme, decentralized water bodies were installed at various locations within villages to enhance the groundwater recharge.
  • Besides, it also proposed to strengthen and rejuvenate water storage capacity and percolation of tanks and other sources of storage.
  • Dedicated committees were formed to assist in construction of watersheds like farm ponds, cement nullah bunds alongside rejuvenating the existing water bodies in the villages.

Why such scheme?

  • About 82 per cent area of Maharashtra falls is rainfed sector while 52 per cent of area is drought prone.
  • This, when coupled with natural rainfall variability and long dry spells during the monsoons, severely hampers agriculture activities.
  • Since 2014, hundreds of villages in Marathwada, central Maharashtra and Vidarbha have experienced droughts for consecutive years.
  • For instance, when the scheme was launched in 2014, a total of 23,811 villages in 26 out of the total 36 districts were declared drought-hit.
  • The scheme, thus, aimed at addressing these water issues mainly by building decentralized water bodies at local levels that could aid in better groundwater recharge especially in areas where water scarcity was very high.

 How does this intervention work?

  • Under the scheme, water streams in a locality are deepened and widened, which would later be connected to the newly constructed chains of cement nullah bunds in the village.
  • Besides, efforts would be made to arrest and store water in small earthen dams and farm ponds in such areas.
  • While new interventions are made, maintenance of existing sources like canals and all kinds of wells would be undertaken.
  • Activities like desilting of water conservation structures and repairs of canals are undertaken to help improve water storage and percolation at the site.
  • Additionally, recharge of dug and tubewells would be taken up in specific locations.
  • A mobile-app developed by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) for quick monitoring of the scheme is functional in this respect.

Expected Outcomes

  • While there are both short and long-term outcomes envisioned by the government, the purpose remains to strengthen the rural economy, which continues to be largely agriculture-driven.
  • The government plans to achieve this goal of improving farmer income by addressing the basic problem pertaining to availability of water for farming or irrigation purposes.
  • Included in the immediate outcomes of the scheme are reduction in the run-off water and diverting it to some kind of storage, increasing water storage capacity, increasing the rate of groundwater recharge, enhancing soil fertility and ultimately, improving farm productivity.
  • The long-term outcomes after the scheme matures, include reducing water scarcity in villages that have limited natural supply, improving in risk management or becoming drought resilient and improving water availability through effective management.
  • Through such timely interventions, the government aims to address the food and water security of its villages.

Progress card of the scheme

  • More than 11,000 villages where Jalyukta Shivar was introduced are declared drought-free.
  • The water storage capacity has been improved to 1.6 lakh Trillion Cubic Metre (TMC).
  • The overall scheme has so far benefitted 20 lakh hectares of protected irrigated land, which increased the cropping intensity to 1.25 to 1.5 times than before.
  • The overall agriculture productivity jumped up 30 to 50 per cent from areas where the intervention measures reached.
  • Importantly, the water tanker dependency in these areas has also dropped.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Explained: Draft Model Tenancy Act

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Model Tenancy Act

Mains level : Tenancy Laws in India


News

  • Recently the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach

Provisions of the Model Tenancy Act

  • The Model Act lays down the obligations of tenants and landlords, and provides for an adjudication mechanism for disputes.
  • It is intended to be an Act to balance the interests of owner and tenant by establishing adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to hear appeals and for matters connected to rental housing.
  • Its stated aim is to promote the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and working professionals, mainly through private participation.
  • The Act mandates that no person will let or take any rental premises without an agreement in writing, in both urban and rural areas.
  • Within two months of executing such an agreement, the land owner and tenant are required to intimate the Rent Authority, who will issue a unique identification number to both parties.
  • Agreements can be submitted through a dedicated digital platform.

Tenant and landlord rights

  • The Model Act lays down various rules, including that the security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’ rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent for non-residential property.
  • It lists the kinds of repairs each party would be responsible for, with the proviso that money for repairs can be deducted from the security deposit or rent, as applicable, if a party refuses to carry out their share of the work.
  • The Rent Court can allow repossession of the property by the landlord if the tenant misuses the premises, after being served a notice by the landowner.
  • Misuse of the premises, as defined, includes public nuisance, damage, or its use for “immoral or illegal purposes”.
  • If the tenant refuses to vacate, the landlord can claim double the monthly rent for two months, and four times the monthly rent thereafter.

Why such Act?

  • A/c to the Census 2011 1.1 crore houses are lying vacant.
  • The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing and discourage owners from renting out their vacant houses due to fear of repossession.
  • The Model Act would bring these into the rental market, and would promote the growth of the rental housing segment.
  • One of the potential measures to unlock the vacant house is to bringing transparency and accountability in the existing system of renting of premises and to balance the interests of both the property owner and tenant in a judicious manner.

Expected Outcomes

  • The Model Act, if adopted and enforced by the states, will lead to a better regulated private rental housing market for the middle and higher income segments.
  • In 2015, before the Housing for All by 2022 Mission (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban) was launched, it was decided that 20 per cent of the two crore houses that were to be created should be exclusively for rent.
  • The decision was based on a 2013 report by a Union government Task Force for Rental Housing, which held that affordable rental housing addresses the issues in an even more direct manner than affordable ownership housing.
  • However, when it was rolled out in late 2015, the mission promoted only ownership housing — with no mention of rental stock.
Land Reforms

HR 1044

Mains Paper 2 : Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India'S Interests |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HR 1044

Mains level : Changing visa norms by US and its implication on Indians


News

HR 1044

  • The US lawmakers passed a Bill titled Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (HR 1044).
  • It is aimed at lifting the current seven per cent country-cap on issuing Green Cards, a development which would benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

What the HR 1044 means for India?

  • A change in the existing law can mean that immigrants from countries like India and China seeking permanent residency could expect shorter wait times.
  • Indian IT professionals, who under the existing law would have to wait up to 70 years as some studies suggest, can now hope for a fairer system with lesser processing time.
  • Apart from removing caps for employment-based Green Cards, caps for family-based categories have also been increased to 15%.
  • A US based institute released a study in 2018 saying, that based on current law and backlog, Indian nationals holding advanced educational degrees may have to wait over 150 years in order to get a Green Card.

Back2Basics

What is a Green card?

  • A Permanent Resident Card, also known as a ‘Green Card’, allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America.
  • Green Card holders can qualify for US citizenship generally after three to five years.
  • Over 10 lakh migrants from around the world are known to receive Green Cards yearly.

Popular Green Card categories

  • Categories of employment-based visas under which Indian professionals are known to apply are the:
  1. ‘EB-1’, or priority workers with extraordinary ability
  2. ‘EB-2’ or those holding advanced degrees, and
  3. ‘EB-3’ or skilled workers.
  • The EB-2 category generally sees the most number of applicants.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

Mains Paper 2 : Statutory, Regulatory & Various Quasi-Judicial Bodies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NGT

Mains level : NGT and its jurisdiction


News

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a legal question whether the National Green Tribunal (NGT), established to deal with cases pertaining to environmental issues has the power to take cognizance of a matter on its own.

About National Green Tribunal

  • The NGT has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  • It aims for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • It has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” and & “damage to the environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution).
  • It follows principles of Natural Justice.
National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions