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Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains level : Key propositions of the bill and their necessity


News

  • Minister for Road Transport and Highways has been in the news as he pushes the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Parliament.
  • The amendments proposed by the government to the existing Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 essentially focus on improving road safety.

Key elements of the proposed amendment

Minimum Compensation

  • The Bill proposes to increase the minimum compensation for hit and run cases.
  • In particular, in case of death, such compensation would vary from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 Lakh.
  • In the case of grievous injury, it would vary from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000.
  • Beyond road safety, the Bill also increases penalties for several offences such as driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Cashless treatment of victims

  • The Bill also enables the Central government to develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during the “golden hour” (first 60 minutes following the injury during which doctors have the best chance of saving a life).

Accident Fund

  • The government’s insurance scheme is likely to be funded through a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund that the central government is expected to constitute to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
  • This fund will be available for the treatment of the injured.

Defining Good Samaritan

  • The Bill also defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident.
  • However, to be seen as one, such assistance must have been given in good faith, voluntarily, and without the expectation of any reward.
  • If these conditions are met, such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in assisting the victim.

National Road Safety Board

  • The Bill also proposes a National Road Safety Board which will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
  • The Bill also enables the central government to order a recall of motor vehicles if it is found that they are defective and can cause harm to other road users or the environment.
  • In case of such a recall, the manufacturers would either have to replace the faulty vehicle or pay full compensation to the customer.

Regulating digital intermediaries

  • The Bill also attempts to plug a policy gap that has been introduced by the emergence of shared economy concepts and technology.
  • As such, it defines taxi aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes.
  • These aggregators will be issued licenses by state, but, they must also comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Private members

Mains level : Private member’s Bill


News

  • A nominated MP has introduced a private member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha, seeking to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.

Population Regulation Bill, 2019

  • The bill introduced in the Upper House, suggests that people with more than two living children should be “disqualified” from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self government after the commencement of the Act.
  • Similarly, it suggests that government employees should give an undertaking that she or he will not procreate more than two children.
  • It says those government employees who have more than two children on or before the commencement of the Act should be exempted.
  • Other penalties include reduction in subsidies on loans and interest rates on savings instruments, reduction in benefits under the public distribution system, and higher than normal interest rates for availing loans from banks and financial institutions.
  • The provisions also list out several benefits for Central and public sector enterprise employees who adopt the two-child norm “by undergoing sterilization operation himself or of the spouse”.

Why such bill?

  • According to UN population projections, India is expected to become the most populated country by 2050.
  • The Bill as stated is intended to create a balance between people and the resources, human resources as well as natural resources.
  • 72 districts in the country have a total fertility rate of more than four children per woman.
  • There is also a case of regional imbalance….while the southern and western states are better off, in the northern and eastern states of India, birth control is either not accepted or not applied.

Back2Basics

Private member’s bill

  • Members of Parliament other than ministers are called private members and bills presented by them are known as private member’s bills.
  • A private member bill can be introduced by both ruling party and opposition MPs.
  • They can introduce a bill in the parliament after giving prior notice of one month.
  • The bill needs to be passed in both houses of parliament.
  • Once passed in both the houses, bill needs to get assent of the president to become an act.
  • By set tradition, President can easily exercise his absolute veto power against such bills.
  • In Lok Sabha, the last two and a half hours of a sitting on every Friday are generally allotted for transaction of “Private Members’ Business”, i.e., Private Members’ Bills and Private Members’ Resolutions.

Centre to streamline labour laws into set of 4 codes

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Minimum Wages



News

  • The government in its second term would streamline several existing labour laws into a set of four labour codes in a move aimed at reducing disputes.

Set of four labour laws

  • The government is proposing to streamline multiple labour laws into a set of four labour codes.
  • The government wants to concise 44 labour laws into four broad codes on wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations.
  • This will ensure that process of registration and filing of returns will get standardised and streamlined.
  • The Bill will replace the current Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  • It provides that the Central government will fix minimum wages for certain sectors, including railways and mines, while the states would be free to set minimum wages for another category of employment.
  • The code also provides for setting up of a national minimum wage.
  • The Central government can set a separate minimum wage for different regions or states.
  • The draft law also says that the minimum wage would be revised every five years.

Beginning with wages

  • The first of these labour codes– Wage Code Bill –will likely be enacted in the ongoing budget session, paving the way for benchmarking minimum wage for different regions.

For more reading, navigate to:

New Code on Wages Bill

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

New Code on Wages Bill

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Minimum Wages. MGNREGS

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

New Code on Wages Bill

  • The Union Cabinet has cleared the new version of Code on Wages Bill, which seeks to define the norms for fixing minimum wages.
  • It will be applicable to workers of organised and unorganised sectors, except government employees and MNREGA workers.
  • It will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

New determining factors of wages

  • As per the Bill, minimum wages will be linked only to factors such as skills and geographical regions.
  • At present, minimum wages are fixed on the basis of categories such as skilled, unskilled, semi-skilled, high skilled, geographical regions, and nature of work such as mining.
  • These are applicable for 45 scheduled employments in the central sphere and 1709 scheduled employments in states.
  • This is expected to effectively reduce the number of minimum wage rates across the country to 300 from about 2,500 minimum wage rates at present.

Floor Wage

  • A National Floor Level Minimum Wage will be set by the Centre to be revised every five years, while states will fix minimum wages for their regions, which cannot be lower than the floor wage.
  • The current floor wage, which was fixed in 2017, is at Rs 176 a day, but some states have minimum wages lower than it such as Andhra Pradesh (Rs 69) and Telangana (Rs 69).

Importance

  • An effective minimum wage policy is a potential tool not only for the protection of low paid workers but is also an inclusive mechanism for more resilient and sustainable economic development.
  • A simple, coherent and enforceable Minimum Wage System should be designed with the aid of technology as minimum wages push wages up and reduce wage inequality without significantly affecting employment.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[pib] Parliament passes the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the bill, President's assent

Mains level : Particulars of the Bill


News

  • The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Bill, 2019 has been passed by both the houses of Parliament.
  • The Bill will now be sent for President’s assent.

About the Bill

  • The Bill replaces the “The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Ordinance, 2019”.
  • The new bill considers the University/College as one unit restoring earlier reservation system based on 200 point roster.
  • No longer will ‘Department/Subject’ be treated as one unit.
  • This decision will:
  1. Allow up of more than 7000 existing vacancies in Central Educational Institutions and pave the way for filling up 3 lakh vacancies in the Government (Central and State) Educational institutions by direct recruitment in Teacher’s Cadre.
  2. Ensure compliance of the Constitutional Provisions of Articles 14, 16 and 21.
  3. Ensure full representation of the Scheduled Castes/ the Scheduled Tribes, the socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Economically Weaker Sections in direct recruitment in teachers’ cadres.
  • This decision is also expected to improve the teaching standards in the higher educational institutions by attracting all eligible talented candidates belonging SCs/STs/SEBCs/EWS.
  • It will also ensure providing of 10% reservation to EWS.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Cabinet clears Bill banning Commercial Surrogacy

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Surrogacy

Mains level : Surrogacy regulation in India


News

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

Background

  • 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.

Benefits

  • 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

 

Surrogacy in India

Explained: Why govt wants to bank DNA

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over the proposed legislation


Context

  • The Union Cabinet cleared the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill once again, paving the way for its reintroduction in Parliament.
  • The Bill had been passed by Lok Sabha in January this year, but could not get the approval of Rajya Sabha before general elections.
  • The fresh clearance by the Cabinet is the third attempt since 2003 by the government to enact a law to regulate the use of DNA technology in the country.
  • The text of the Bill has undergone several changes over the years to address some of the concerns on privacy and the possibility of abuse.

DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill

  • The Bill seeks to create a regulatory framework for obtaining, storing and testing of DNA samples of human beings, mainly for the purposes of criminal investigations, and with the objective of establishing the identity of a person.
  • DNA testing is already being used for a variety of purposes, such as criminal investigations, establishment of parentage, and search for missing people.
  • The proposed law seeks to bring in a supervisory structure to oversee these practices, and frame guidelines and rules so that the DNA technology is not misused.
  • To achieve these objectives, the bill proposes to set up two institutional structures — a DNA regulatory board, and a DNA data bank — at the national level.
  • Regional centres of the board as well as the data bank can be set up at the state level as well.

Supervisory structure

  • The DNA regulatory board, which is proposed to be the main regulatory authority, would frame the rules and guidelines for DNA collection, testing and storage.
  • The data bank would be the repository of all DNA samples collected from various people under specified rules.
  • The Bill proposes that testing of DNA samples can be carried out only at laboratories that are authorised to do so by the regulatory board.
  • The bill also specifies the circumstances under which a person can be asked to submit DNA samples, the purposes for which such requests can be made, and the exact procedure for handling, storing and accessing these samples.

DNA Regulatory Board

  • The Regulatory Board will comprise 12 members.
  • Some of them will be experts in the field of biological sciences, whereas the others will be the director-general of the NIA, the directors of the CBI, the heads of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, and a member of the NHRC.
  • The principal responsibility of the Board will be to accredit DNA-testing labs from which data can be collected for the databank and ensure they maintain high quality standards at all times.

Collecting DNA samples

  • DNA samples can be collected from the objects found at the crime scene, or from the body of the accused or volunteer.
  • The samples, collected by an authorised technician or medical practitioner, would have to be sent to an accredited laboratory for tests and analysis.
  • The information generated from these tests would have to be mandatorily shared with the nearest DNA data bank, which in turn, would be required to share it with the national data bank.

DNA data banks

  • Under the provisions, the data banks are required to store the information under one of the five indices — a crime scene index, a suspect or undertrial index, an offenders’ index, a missing persons’ index, and an unknown deceased persons’ index.
  • Although information from DNA can yield a lot of information about the person, the data banks are supposed to store only that information that is necessary to establish the identity of the person.
  • While the information in the crime scene index can be stored permanently, entries in other indices can be removed through processes prescribed.

Removal of information

  • People whose DNA samples have been collected, either from the crime scene, or through voluntary written consent, can also request the removal of their information from the index.
  • DNA samples of people who are not suspects or undertrials cannot be matched with already stored information in the suspects/undertrial index or the offenders’ index.

Using DNA samples

  • According to the provisions of the proposed law, police can ask for DNA samples of the person accused of an offence to facilitate their investigation.
  • But unless the offence is of a very serious nature, punishable by death or by imprisonment for at least seven years, the DNA sample can be obtained only on the written consent of the accused.
  • It can be also be obtained if an authorised magistrate is satisfied that a DNA test is absolutely necessary for investigation of the crime.
  • People who are witness to a crime, or want to locate their missing relatives, or in similar other circumstances, can volunteer to give their DNA samples, again through written consent.

Criticisms  of the bill

I. Over matter of Consent

  • Written consent is required from everyone for their DNA samples to be collected, processed and included in the database except from those who have committed crimes with punishment of 7+ years or death.
  • However, a similarly specific instruction is missing for the collection of DNA samples for civil matters. Such matters include parentage disputes, emigration or immigration and transplantation of human organs.
  • The Bill also doesn’t state that the consent has to be voluntary.

II. Civil Disputes

  • Second, it’s not clear if DNA samples collected to resolve civil disputes will also be stored in the databank (regional or national), although there is no index specific for the same.
  • If they will be stored, then the problem cascades because the Bill also does not provide for information, consent and appeals.
  • If a person’s DNA data has entered the databank, there is no process specified by which they can have it removed.
  • All of these issues together could violate the right to privacy.

III. Authenticity of DNA Labs

  • There’s also the question of whether the DNA labs accredited by the Regulatory Board are allowed to store copies of the samples they analyse.
  • And if so, how the owners of those samples can ensure the data is safe or needs to be removed from their own indices.
  • It’s unclear if the Regulatory Board will oversee other tests performed at the accredited labs.
  • This could become necessary because, unlike one’s biometric data or PAN number, the human genome contains lots of information about every individual.

IV. Overreaching access to identity

  • So a test undertaken to ascertain a person’s identity by analysing her DNA will in the process also reveal a lot of other things about that person, including information about their ancestry, diseases to which they are susceptible, etc. – i.e. information that the individual has a right to keep private.
  • The Bill does not specify which parts of an individual’s DNA can be analysed to ascertain their identity.
  • The more parts are subjected to analysis, the more conclusively a person’s identity can be established.
  • But this can’t be used as a license to parse more than is necessary, because then the DNA lab is also likely to reveal more information than it has the right to seek.

Govt. stance on this

  • The government, on the other hand, has been arguing that since DNA tests are already happening, and frequently used as the most reliable tool to establish identity.
  • It would be better to have regulatory safeguards so that it is carried out only in prescribed manner and by authorised personnel and institutions.
  • The government has also claimed that very limited information is proposed to be stored in the indices — just 17 sets of numbers out of billions that DNA samples can reveal.
Right To Privacy

[pib] Space Activities Bill

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Space Activities Bill

Mains level : Promoting private space activities in India


News

  • India has begun prelegislative consultations on a “Space Activities Bill” that is designed to encourage domestic private rocket and satellite companies to offer services for Indian and global customers.

About the Space Activities Bill, 2017

  • The Bill will address the liability issues arising from their space activities, in a suitable/ rational manner, in line with international practices.
  • The government first introduced the Bill in 2017.

Key propositions of the Bill

  • The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
  • A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
  • The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licensing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
  • The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
  • It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
  • It will ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of a space activity.
  • It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

Why reconsider the Bill?

  • The current space policy does not cover liabilities for damage to third party space assets although the country is a signatory to the UN Treaties on Outer Space activity.
  • The Bill will help formulate necessary rules under the Space Activities Act to deal with damages under the liability provisions and the mode of securing financial guarantee to compensate for damages.
  • This bill would address a long-pending concern on covering liabilities in the event of a mishap or damage to spacecraft.

For tapping global opportunities

  • India’s PSLV has emerged as the preferred rocket to hurl small satellites globally.
  • India is also working on a small satellite launch vehicle that is designed to tap the global opportunity to carry satellites of less than 50 kg into space.
  • The US, France and the EU have legislations that underwrite costs of damage if it exceeds insurance when a private satellite launch goes awry or a rocket hits another object in space.

With inputs from: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/the-hindu-explains-what-is-the-space-activities-bill-2017/article20680984.ece

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arbitration

Mains level : NDIAC


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Bill New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019 for introduction in the ensuing session of Parliament.

About the Bill

  • In view of the provisions of the Article 107 (5) and 123 (2) of the Constitution, the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019 is proposed to be introduced in the Parliament.
  • The Bill provides for setting up of an independent an autonomous body for institutional arbitration.
  • It aims to acquire and transfer the undertakings of International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) to New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC).

New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC)

  • The NDIAC will be headed by a Chairperson, who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration, law or management,
  • He is to be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
  • Besides, it will also have two Full-time or Part-time Members from amongst eminent persons having substantial knowledge and experience in institutional arbitration in both domestic and international.
  • In addition, one representative of a recognized body of commerce and industry shall be nominated on rotational basis as a Part-time Member.
  • The Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, Financial Adviser nominated by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and Chief Executive Officer, NDIAC will be ex-officio Members.

Aims and objectives of NDIAC

  • bring targeted reforms to develop itself as a flagship institution for conducting international and domestic arbitration
  • provide facilities and administrative assistance for conciliation, mediation and arbitral proceedings;
  • maintain panels of accredited arbitrators, conciliators and mediators both at national and international level or specialists such as surveyors and investigators;
  • facilitate conducting of international and domestic arbitrations and conciliation in the most professional manner;
  • provide cost effective and timely services for the conduct of arbitrations and conciliations at Domestic and International level;
  • promote studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution and related matters, and to promote reforms in the system of settlement of disputes; and
  • co-operate with other societies, institutions and organisations, national or international for promoting alternative dispute resolution.

Impact

  • The benefits of institutionalized arbitration will be manifold for the Government and its agency and to the parties to a dispute.
  • This will result in quality experts being available in India and also an advantage in terms of cost incurred.
  • It will facilitate India becoming a hub for institutional arbitration.

Back2Basics

International Arbitration in India

  • It has been the endeavor of the Government of India to establish an independent and autonomous institution for resolving International and domestic commercial disputes expeditiously by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
  • In this regard, a HL Committee headed by Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, was constituted in the year 2017.
  • The HLC recommended that the Government may take over the International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), an existing institution which has been established in the year 1995 using the public funds and develop it as an Institution of National Importance.
  • Taking into consideration the HLC’s recommendations, a Bill, namely the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill 2018 was approved.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism – NCA, Lok Adalats, etc.

[pib] Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : E-Governance |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the amendment

Mains level : Aadhaar and associated issues


News

  • In a major move aimed at making Aadhaar making people friendly, the Union Cabinet has approved “The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019” to replace the earlier ordinance.
  • The Ordinance amongst other things envisaged strengthening of the Aadhaar Act as per the directions of the Supreme Court and recommendations of Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee.

Details of the Amendment Bill

The salient features of the amendments are as follows—

  • Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar  number holder;
  • Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number or its alternative virtual identity.
  • Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years;
  • Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority
  • Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002;
  • Proposes deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities;
  • Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication;
  • Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund;
  • Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, and appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act.

Impact:

  • The decision would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar.
  • No individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Draft NEP proposes formal education from age of three

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anganwadis

Mains level : Features of New Education Policy



News

Draft NEP on early childhood education

  • All Indian children could soon enter the formal education system at the age of three, with the draft National Education Policy (NEP) projecting an expansion of the RTE Act.
  • It aims to cover the three years of preschool before Class 1.
  • It wants early childhood education to be overseen and regulated by the Ministry of HRD as part of the school system.
  • This will be in addition to the private pre-schools and anganwadis that currently cater to the 3-to-6 years age group.
  • The draft Policy suggests a new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discovery, and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards.

Upheaval of Anganwadi System

  • The NEP could result in an upheaval in the anganwadi system which has been overseen by the Ministry of WCD for more than four decades.
  • Additional costs will come in the form of teacher recruitment and training, infrastructure and learning materials, as well as nutritional aspects (including the proposal to provide breakfast to young children).
  • The draft Policy praises the contribution of anganwadis to improving health and nutrition, but notes that their record in education is not so strong.

Flaws in Anganwadis

  • They are currently quite deficient in supplies and infrastructure for education.
  • As a result, they tend to contain more children in the 2-4 year age range and fewer in the educationally critical 4-6 year age range.
  • They also have few teachers trained in or specially dedicated to early childhood education.

Anganwadis can do better

  • The new framework would be implemented by training and strengthening anganwadi capabilities and linking them to a local primary school, co-locating anganwadis and pre-schools with primary schools, or building stand-alone pre-schools also linked to a local primary school.
Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Cabinet approves promulgation of Ordinance to amend SEZ Act

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  SEZ Policy (2005)

Mains level:  Reconsidering the SEZ Policy in India


News

Trusts can set up SEZ

  • Trusts now can approach the government to set up units in special economic zones as the Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance for amendment to the SEZ Act, 2005.
  • The definition of “person” as defined in the SEZ Act would now to include trust.
  • The present provisions of the Act do not permit ‘trusts’ to set up units in SEZs.

Benefits

  • The amendment will enable a trust to be considered for grant of permission to set up a unit in SEZs.
  • The amendment would also provide flexibility to the central government to include ‘trusts’ in the definition of a ‘person’, any entity that the central government may notify from time to time.
  • This will facilitate investments in SEZs.

Defining a person for SEZ

  • Currently, the definition of “person” includes an individual, whether resident in India or outside India, a Hindu undivided family, co-operative society, a company, whether incorporated in India or outside India, a firm, proprietary concern, or an association of persons or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, local authority and any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by such individual.

Back2Basics

SEZs

  • SEZs are major export hubs in the country as the government provides several incentives including tax benefits and single-window clearance system.
  • The developers and units of these zones enjoy certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as no licence requirement for import; full freedom for subcontracting; and no routine examination by customs authorities of export/import cargo.
  • They also enjoy direct and indirect tax benefits.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

[op-ed snap] The ambiguity of reservations for the poor

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the 103rd Constitution Amendment Act.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the recently passed 103rd Constitution Amendment Act and the challenge in its effective implementation, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The 103rd Constitution Amendment Act introducing special measures and reservations for ‘economically weaker sections’ (EWS) has been perceived as being unconstitutional by some experts.
  • However, the strongest constitutional challenge might not be to the amendment itself but to the manner in which governments implement it.

Special measures provided by the 103rd Constitution Amendment Act

  • Article 15 stands amended enabling the state to take special measures (not limited to reservations) in favour of EWS generally with an explicit sub-article on admissions to educational institutions with maximum 10% reservations.
  • The amendment to Article 16 allows 10% reservations (and not special measures) for EWS in public employment and does so in a manner that is different from reservations for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
  • The amendment leaves the definition of ‘economically weaker sections’ to be determined by the state on the basis of ‘family income’ and other economic indicators.
  • Also critical to this amendment is the exclusion of SC/STs, OBCs and other beneficiary groups under Articles 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) as beneficiaries of the 10% EWS reservation.

Indra Sawhney Case

  • To start the constitutional examination of the recent amendment let us take the Supreme Court’s view on reservations based purely on economic criteria.
  • Eight of the nine judges in Indra Sawhney (November 1992) held that the Narasimha Rao government’s executive order (and not a constitutional amendment) providing for 10% reservations based purely on economic criteria was unconstitutional.
  • Their reasons included the position that income/property holdings cannot be the basis for exclusion from government jobs, and that the Constitution was primarily concerned with addressing social backwardness.

103rdAmendment will be tested against the Basic structure doctrine

  • However, the decision in Indra Sawhney involved testing an executive order against existing constitutional provisions.
  • In the current situation, we are concerned with a constitutional amendment brought into force using the constituent power of Parliament.
  • The fact that we are not concerned with legislative or executive power means that the amendment will be tested against the ‘basic structure’ and not the constitutional provisions existing before the amendment.
  • The pointed question is whether measures based purely on economic criteria violate the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution?
  • Experts believe, it is a sufficient answer to say that ‘backwardness’ in the Constitution can only mean ‘social and educational backwardness’.
  • It is difficult to see an argument that measures purely on economic criteria are per se violative of the ‘basic structure’.
  • EWS reservations might not able to alleviate poverty but that is not really the nature of ‘basic structure’ enquiry.
  • Economic criteria (if seen as poverty) forms the basis for differential treatment by the state in many ways and it would be a stretch to suddenly see it as constitutionally suspect when it comes to ‘special measures’ and reservations in education and public employment.
  • Poverty inflicts serious disadvantages and the prerogative of the state to use special measures/ reservations as one of the means to address it (however misplaced it might be as a policy) is unlikely to fall foul of the ‘basic structure’ doctrine.

Challenges to the amendment

  • A challenge to the amendment may lie in the context of Article 16 by virtue of shifting the manner in which reservations can be provided in public employment.
  • Under Article 16(4), reservations for backward classes (SC/STs, OBCs) are dependent on beneficiary groups not being ‘adequately represented’ but that has been omitted in the newly inserted Article 16(6) for EWS.
  • The amendment through Article 16(6) ends up making it easier for the state to provide reservations in public employment for EWS than the requirements to provide reservations for ‘backward classes’ under Article 16(4).
  • Supreme Court might have its own views on this. On the one hand, it is confronted with the reality that ‘backward classes’ like SC/STs and OBCs are disadvantaged along multiple axes.
  • On the other, it is now far more difficult for the state to provide reservations to these groups compared to the EWS.
  • The response might well be that ‘representation’ is not the aim of EWS reservation and questions of ‘adequacy’ are relevant only in the context of representation claims like those of the backward classes under Article 16(4).

Breaching the 50% ceiling

  • In many of the responses to the amendment, breaching the 50% ceiling on reservations has been cited as its greatest weakness.
  • It is hard to see the merit of that argument because the amendment by itself does not push the reservations beyond 50%.
  • While it might be a ground to challenge the subsequent legislative/executive actions, the amendment itself is secure from this challenge.
  • But even beyond this narrow technical response, the 50% ceiling argument is far from clear.
  • In Indra Sawhney, the majority of judges held that the 50% ceiling must be the general rule and a higher proportion may be possible in ‘extraordinary situations’.
  • Fundamentally this argument stems from an unresolved normative tension in Indra Sawhney.

Reservations are not an ‘exception’ but a ‘facet’ of equality

  • While committing to the constitutional position that reservations are not an ‘exception’ but a ‘facet’ of equality, the majority in Indra Sawhney also invokes the idea of balancing the equality of opportunity of backward classes ‘against’ the right to equality of everyone else.
  • When governments implement the EWS reservations and push quotas beyond 50%, the Supreme Court will be forced to confront this normative tension.
  • If reservations further equality, what then are the justifications to limit it to 50% when the identified beneficiaries constitute significantly more than 50%?
  • The answer to that question might lie in Indra Sawhney’s position that the constitutional imagination is not one of ‘proportional representation’ but one of ‘adequate representation’.
  • However, as discussed above, if abandoning the ‘adequacy’ requirement per se is upheld for EWS reservations, the basis for a 50% ceiling becomes unclear.

Way Forward

Hardest test will be its implementation

  • While the constitutional amendment by itself might survive the ‘basic structure’ test, the hardest test for governments will be the manner in which they give effect to the amendment.
  • The definition of ‘economically weaker sections’ will be a major hurdle because the political temptation will be to go as broad as possible and include large sections of citizens.
  • But broader the definition, greater will be the constitutional risk. For example, if beneficiaries are defined as all those with family income of less than ₹8 lakh per annum, it must necessarily fail constitutional scrutiny.
  • To justify that an individual ‘below poverty line’ and another with a family income of ₹8 lakh per annum belong to the same group for purposes of affirmative action will involve constitutional jugglery at an unprecedented level.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.