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Explained: Forest Rights Act case

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Forest Rights Act

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

Background

  • Districts with sizeable tribal populations saw several protests and demonstrations.
  • The protests were organised by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan. There were two issues that the demonstrators were decrying.
  • One, the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927; the concerned amendments to the IFA have been sent to states for consultation.
  • Two, a move to oust forest-dwellers from forest land; a case to this effect concerning the Forest Rights Act (FRA) comes up for its next hearing before the Supreme Court.

What is the FRA case before the Supreme Court?

  • In Feb this year, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (or FRA), 2006, had been rejected following a three-tier process.
  • Later, the SC temporarily put on hold the eviction by an order giving state governments time to file affidavits on whether due process was followed before claims were rejected.
  • In the next hearing the Centre and states are expected to file affidavits regarding the implementation of the FRA.

What are the proposed amendments to the IFA?

  • The FRA, enacted in 2006, envisions the forest rights committee of a village as the central unit in managing forest resources.
  • The proposed IFA amendments will revert to giving overriding powers to Forest Department officials.
  • The greater policing powers to the Forest Department include the use of firearms, and veto power to override the FRA.
  • Further, if rights under FRA are seen as hampering forest conservation efforts, the state may commute such rights through compensation to the tribals.
  • The changes also propose to open up forest land specifically for commercial exploitation of timber or non-timber forest produce.
  • Across India, tribal rights activists are of the view that the proposed IFA amendments will divest tribals and other forest-dwelling communities of their rights over forest land and resources.

Who are the petitioners, and what is their contention?

  • The petitioners are Wildlife First, Nature Conservation Society, and Tiger Research and Conservation Trust.
  • They contend that the protection of forests has been severely affected due to bogus claims under the FRA.
  • The bogus claimants continue to occupy large areas of forest lands, including inside national parks and sanctuaries, despite their applications being rejected under the appeals process of the FRA.
Tribal Development

Explained: What changes are being brought in medical education?

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Medical Commission (NMC)

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

Background

  • Union Health Minister has introduced the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill in Lok Sabha.
  • An earlier version of this Bill was introduced in the 16th Lok Sabha, and had passed the scrutiny of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare.
  • However, that Bill lapsed at the end of the term of the last Lok Sabha.
  • Once the NMC Bill is enacted, the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, will stand repealed.
  • The existing Act provides for the Medical Council of India (MCI), the medical education regulator in India.

Why is Medical Council of India being replaced?

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare examined the functioning of the MCI in its 92nd report (in 2016) and was scathing in its criticism.
  • The MCI when tested on the above touchstone (of producing competent doctors, ensure adherence to quality standards etc) has repeatedly been found short of fulfilling its mandated responsibilities.
  • Medical education and curricula are not integrated with the needs of our health system.
  • Many of the products coming out of medical colleges are ill-prepared to serve in poor resource settings like Primary Health Centre and even at the district level.
  • Medical graduates lack competence in performing basic health care tasks like conducting normal deliveries; instances of unethical practice continue to grow due to which respect for the profession has dwindled.

How will the proposed National Medical Commission (NMC) function?

  • The NMC Bill provides for the constitution of a 25-member NMC selected by a search committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, to replace the MCI.
  • The Bill provides for just one medical entrance test across the country, single exit exam (the final MBBS exam, which will work as a licentiate examination), a screening test for foreign medical graduates, and an entrance test for admission in postgraduate programmes.
  • The Bill proposes to regulate the fees and other charges of 50 per cent of the total seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.

Medical Advisory Council

  • It will include one member representing each state and UT (vice-chancellors in both cases), chairman of the UGC, and the director of the National Accreditation and Assessment Council — will advise and make recommendations to the NMC.
  • Four boards — dealing with undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, medical assessment and rating board, and the ethics and medical registration board — will regulate the sector.
  • The structure is in accordance with the recommendations of the Group of Experts headed by Ranjit Roy Chaudhury set up by the Union Health Ministry to study the norms for the establishment of medical colleges.

Change in regulatory nature

  • The Bill marks a radical change in regulatory philosophy; under the NMC regime, medical colleges will need permission only once — for establishment and recognition.
  • There will be no need for annual renewal, and colleges would be free to increase the number of seats on their own, subject to the present cap of 250.
  • They would also be able start postgraduate courses on their own.
  • Fines for violations, however, are steep — 1.5 times to 10 times the total annual fee charged.

What are the changes in the 2019 Bill?

  • One, it has dropped a separate exit examination.
  • Two, it has dropped the provision that allowed practitioners of homoeopathy and Indian systems of medicine to prescribe allopathy medicines after a bridge course.

The National Exit Test (NEXT)

  • A single National Exit Test (NEXT) will be conducted across the country replacing the final year MBBS exam, and the scores used to allot PG seats as well.
  • It will allow medical graduates to start medical practice, seek admission to PG courses, and screen foreign medical graduates who want to practise in India.
Medical Education Governance in India

Explained: Why are parliamentary standing committees necessary?

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various Parliamentary Committees

Mains level : Functions and importance of various parliamentary committees


News

Context

  • Eleven of the 22 Bills introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament have been passed, which makes it a highly productive session after many years.
  • But these Bills have been passed without scrutiny by parliamentary standing committees, their purpose being to enable detailed consideration of a piece of legislation.
  • After the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, parliamentary standing committees have not been constituted as consultations among parties are still under way.
  • Partly as a result of this, the Bills were passed without committee scrutiny.

Parliamentary committees

  • They are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.
  • They also monitor the functioning of the executive branch.
  • The Parliamentary committees are of two kinds – Standing or permanent committees and Ad hoc committees.
  • The former are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous basis.
  • The latter are created on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they are dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them.

What are the types of committees?

  • Most committees are ‘standing’ as their existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis; some are ‘select’ committees formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to deliberate on a particular bill.
  • Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist. Some standing committees are departmentally related, an example being the Standing Committee on HRD.
  • A Bill related to education could either be considered by the department standing committee or a select committee that will be specifically set up.
  • The chair uses her discretion to refer a matter to a parliamentary committee but this is usually done in consultation with leaders of parties in the House.
  • Financial control is a critical tool for Parliament’s authority over the executive; hence finance committees are considered to be particularly powerful.
  • The three financial committees are the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.

Its origins

  • As is the case with several other practices of Indian parliamentary democracy, the institution of Parliamentary Committees also has its origins in the British Parliament.
  • The first Parliamentary Committee was constituted in 1571 in Britain.
  • The Public Accounts Committee was established in 1861. In India, the first PAC was constituted in April 1950.
  • The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees.
  • Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinise in detail some very important bills, but this was few and far between.

Nature of their recommendation

  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
  • Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters related to governance.
  • Bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value addition.
  • Parliament is not bound by the recommendations of committees.

Why need Parliamentary Committees?

  • In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament has broadly two functions, which are lawmaking and oversight of the executive branch of the government.
  • Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will. Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.
  • Given the volume of legislative business, discussing all Bills under the consideration of Parliament in detail on the floor of the House is impossible.
  • Committees are platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.
  • At least in principle, the assumption is that the smaller group of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better informed discussions.
  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips which allow them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views.

Importance of such committees

  • Disruptive changes in technology and the expansion of trade, commerce and economy in general throw up new policy challenges that require a constant reform of legal and institutional structures.
  • While lawmaking gets increasingly complex, lawmakers cannot infinitely expand their knowledge into ever expanding areas of human activities.
  • For instance, we live in an era of metadata being generated by expanding connectivity. The laws and regulations that are required to govern a digital society cannot be made without highly specialised knowledge and political acumen.
  • Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into lawmaking.

Enhancing executive accountability

  • Executive accountability to the legislature is enforced through questions in Parliament also, which are answered by ministers.
  • However, department standing committees go one step further and hear from senior officials of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.
  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

Explained: When a juvenile is tried as an adult, when not

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 : Juvenile Justice in India and issues associated with it


News

Background

  • In 2016, a 17-year-old was booked for the murder of his three-year-old neighbour in Mumbai.
  • The city Juvenile Justice Board as well as a children’s court directed that he be tried as an adult under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
  • Last week, the Bombay High Court set aside these orders and directed that the accused be tried as a minor, saying the Act is reformative and not retributive.

When is a Child tried as an Adult?

  • The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 was amended in 2015 with a provision allowing for Children in Conflict with Law (CCL) to be tried as adults under certain circumstances.
  • The Act defines a child as someone who is under age 18.
  • For a CCL, age on the date of the offence is the basis for determining whether he or she was a child or an adult.
  • The amended Act distinguishes children in the age group 16-18 as a category which can be tried as adults if they are alleged to have committed a heinous offence — one that attracts a minimum punishment of seven years.
  • The Act does not, however, make it mandatory for all children in this age group to be tried as adults.

How?

  • Trial as an adult is not a default choice; a conscious, calibrated one; And for that, all the statutory criteria must be fulfilled, said Bombay High Court
  • As per Section 15 of the JJ Act, there are three criteria that the Juvenile Justice Board in the concerned district should consider while conducting a preliminary assessment to determine a child be tried as an adult.
  • The criteria are whether the child has the mental and physical capacity to commit such an offence; whether the child has the ability to understand its consequences; and the circumstances in which the offence was committed.
  • If the Board finds that the child can be tried as an adult, the case is transferred to a designated children’s court, which again decides whether the Board’s decision is correct.

Why was this distinction made?

  • The amendment was proposed by the Ministry of WCD in 2014 (effective from 2015).
  • This was in the backdrop of the gang-rape of a woman inside a bus in Delhi in 2012, leading to her death.
  • One of the offenders was a 17-year-old, which led to the Ministry proposing the amendment (although it could not have retrospectively applied to him).
  • The then Minister, Maneka Gandhi, cited an increase in cases of offenders in that age group; child rights activists objected to the amendment.
  • The J S Verma Committee constituted to recommend amendments also stated that it was not inclined to reduce the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16.

Why is the issue under debate?

  • The statute permits a child of 16 years and above to stand trial as an adult in case of heinous offence, it did not mean that all those children should be subjected to adult punishment.
  • Essentially, the trial in the regular court is offence-oriented; in the juvenile court, it is offender-oriented.
  • In other words, in the children’s court, societal safety and the child’s future are balanced.
  • For an adult offender, prison is the default opinion; for a juvenile it is the last resort.
Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act

Explained: Can India really deport illegal immigrants after the final NRC list?

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRC, Assam Accord

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

Context

  • Recently Home Minister in Rajya Sabha informed that the government would deport illegal immigrants from “every inch of the country’s soil”.
  • This comes weeks ahead of the scheduled publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

NRC Issue: Quick Recap

  • As per directions of the SC, the Registrar General of India (RGI) published the final draft list of NRC on July 30 last year.
  • It aimed to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam from those who had illegally entered the State from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
  • Nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from Assam’s final draft published last year.
  • The NRC is fallout of the Assam Accord, 1985. As many as 36 lakh of those excluded have filed claims against the exclusion, while four lakh residents haven’t applied.
  • There are around 4 lakh residents who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from the final draft of the NRC.

How many face deportation?

  • The number of people being left out of the NRC is not yet final, and it is not clear if any of them can be deported at all.
  • The final draft NRC had left out 40 lakh applicants. Another 1 lakh, originally among the 2.89 crore included in that draft, were removed after subsequent verification.
  • There could be more deletions as objections have been filed. There are likely be some additions, too.
  • The final NRC is scheduled on July 31. Those left out will have a series of options for appeal, which is a long haul.
  • Only after that will the question of deportation come up, if at all.

What makes deportation so uncertain?

  • For a country to be able to deport a mass of individuals to another country, the second country has to accept that they were its citizens who entered the first country illegally.
  • According to government data until February 2019, Assam has since 2013 deported 166 persons (162 “convicted” and four “declared”) including 147 to Bangladesh.
  • The NRC context is vastly different: this is not about a few hundred but lakhs of individuals, many of whom have lived in Assam for decades and been identifying themselves as Indian citizens.

Bangladeshi un-acceptance

  • Over the years, Bangladeshi leaders have frequently been quoted in the media as denying the presence of its nationals in India.
  • Besides, there have been no visible recent efforts by India to push the matter with Bangladesh.
  • In fact, India is understood to have conveyed to Bangladesh, just before the final draft NRC was published, that there was no talk of deportation.
  • This was an effort directed at addressing a friendly neighbour’s concerns about the prospect, even if it was a theoretical one, of being flooded with a mass of deportees.

If not deportation, then what?

  • The various points of appeal imply that the process of establishing citizenship or illegal stay in Assam could take years, if not decades.
  • First, there are the quasi-judicial Foreigners Tribunals, which those left out of the final NRC will approach.
  • If their claim is rejected again, they have the option of approaching the High Court and the Supreme Court.
  • In between, there is the prospect of being sent to one of the six existing detention camps, or one of the 10 being planned.
  • These have often come into focus for lack of basic facilities, and the apex Court recently allowed conditional release of those who have completed three years in detention, against a bond.

Way Forward

  • For lakhs of people, what the future holds is uncertain as ever.
  • Only a long court battle is certain, while a stateless identity with curtailed rights is a possibility.
  • Deportation, if it ever happens, appears a long way away.
  • The deportation to detention camps is very inhumane. They should be given basic human rights.
  • Identity of such persons should be digitally recorded and they should not be allowed to claim Indian citizenship in other states.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Why Assam is prone to floods and what’s the solution

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Controlling Floods


CONTEXT

Assam is in the grip of yet another flood, with 57 lakh people displaced, all 33 districts affected, and 36 people killed besides hundreds of animals. This is the first wave of floods this monsoon, and flood control experts expect at least two more.

Why are floods so destructive in Assam?

At the crux is the very nature of the river Brahmaputra —dynamic and unstable. Its 580,000 sq km basin spreads over four countries: China, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan, with diverse environments.

In terms of sediment yield, two spots along the Brahmaputa’s course were at second and third places in 2008, behind the Yellow River whose annual sediment yield is 1,403 tonnes per sq km.

The Brahmaputra’s annual sediment yield was 1,128 tonnes per sq km at Bahadurabad of Bangladesh, and 804 tonnes per sq km at Pandu of Guwahati.

Assam, Assam floods, Assam flood news, Assam weather, Assam news, Assam rain news, Assam floods army, Baksa, Baksa assam, Kaziranga National Park, indian express, latest news
Assam floods: The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates.

How do these characteristics of the river relate to flooding?

  • The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates. “That region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river.
  • By the time the river enters Assam — a state comprising primarily floodplains surrounded by hills on all sides — it deposits vast amounts of this silt, leading to erosion and floods.
  • As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment.
  • Again, because of the earthquake-prone nature of the region, the river has not been able to acquire a stable character.
  • Following the devastating earthquake of 1950, the level of the Brahmaputra rose by two metres in Dibrugarh area in eastern Assam.
  • Besides these natural factors are the man-made ones — habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China) — which lead to higher sedimentation.
  • For example, the sediment deposition itself creates temporary sandbars or river islands.
  • It is common for people to settle in such places, which restricts the space the river has to flow. When rainfall is heavy, it combines with all these factors and leads to destructive floods. This happens very frequently.

Has the government tried to address the factors that cause floods?

  • In its master plan on the river in 1982, the Brahmaputra Board had suggested that dams and reservoirs be built to mitigate floods.
  • The idea of dams, however, has traditionally been a double-edged sword. While one of their objectives is to regulate the release of flood waters, the release when it comes can sometimes be beyond the capacity of the channels downstream.
  • In the Brahmaputra basin, locals and environmentalists protested against dam-building plans on grounds of displacement and destruction of evology, preventing the plans from moving forward.

Building embankments

  • As such, the government has been using only one approach towards floods: building embankments on the river. “Embankments were proposed only as an interim and ad hoc measure for short-term mitigation,” said Aaranyak’s Das. Their lack of durability has often been on display.
  • “Most embankments built in the 1980s are not strong enough.
  • Since they were temporary measures, the government did not spend on high-specification embankments. These are weak and are regularly breached.

Dredging

The government also considered dredging, basically digging up the riverbed and making the river “deeper”. However, experts have strongly advised against this simply because the Brahmaputra sediment yield is among the highest in the world.

But, is there a long-term solution?

  •  For a sustainable solution, there needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem.
  • An “integrated basin management” system that should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board
  • Addressing the issues only in Assam when the flood strikes isn’t the solution — one needs the countries to come to an understanding about taking measures in the catchment areas.
  •  For that, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are important.
  • Flood-plain zoning, which is done the US. “Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories, and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house etc,”
  • That is one option. We can’t help the rain but we can certainly control the damage caused by floods.”
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Explained: How films are certified, why it causes dispute

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CBFC and its composition

Mains level : Censoring and underlying issues


News

  • Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court pulled up the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for refusing to give a ‘U’ certificate to a Children’s film. The CBFC had given it a U/A certificate.

CBFC organizational set-up

  • The CBFC is headed by the Chairperson.
  • The board comprises up to 25 members and 60 advisory panel members from across India, appointed by the I&B Ministry.
  • While the board members are usually film and TV professionals, members of the advisory panel are often from outside the industry.
  • The chairperson and board members serve for three years, and advisory panel members for two years.
  • The CEO is chiefly in charge of the administrative functioning but the regional officers are part of Examining Committees that certify films.
  • Once a filmmaker applies for certification, an Examining Committee is appointed by the Regional Officer.
  • In case of short films, it consists of a member of the advisory panel and an examining officer, one of whom has to be a woman.
  • Else, it has four members from the advisory panel and an examining officer of who two persons are to be women.

How do they certify films?

  • Certification— unrestricted public exhibition (U), parental guidance for children below age 12 (U/A), adult (A), or viewing by specialised groups (S) — is decided by the Regional Officer based on reports by Examining Committee members.
  • In case of a divided opinion, the case rests with the chairperson.
  • Certification is often decided on individual inclinations in the Examining Committee, whose members come from various walks of life.

What if the applicant is not satisfied?

  • In most such cases, the CBFC shares a list of “suggested changes”.
  • If the applicant is unhappy with the certification or the list of changes, he or she can apply to the Revising Committee, which is made of the Chairperson and up to nine committee members from both the board and the advisory panel.
  • The committee cannot have a member from the advisory panel who may have already viewed the film.
  • A similar process is followed at this stage, with the final word resting with the Chairperson.
  • The last point of appeal is the Appellate Tribunal, an independent body, members of which are appointed by the ministry for three-year terms.
  • Any further dispute can be taken to a court.

Criticism of CBFC

  • CBFC is a certification board and not the censorship board anymore with wider intervention by judiciary.
  • Their job is to certify films based on this and the guidelines are fairly wide.
  • It is in consonance with Article 19 of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of the Cinematograph Act.

What is Section 5(b)?

  • It states that a film shall not be certified if any part of it is against the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite commission of any offence.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Explained: Huawei controversy and 5G rollout in India

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 5G technology

Mains level : Huawei Row


News

  • The telecom minister has said that India would conduct field trials for 5G telephony in the first 100 days of the new government.
  • One question that has been asked is whether Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei will be able to participate in the trials.
  • Huawei was blacklisted by the US government for American companies to do business with after it was alleged that the company shared data with the Chinese government through the backdoor.

Why did US blacklist Huawei?

  • Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment and the No. 2 vendor of smartphones, ahead of Apple Inc.
  • However, notwithstanding its dominance, the US has effectively banned Huawei from selling its products after a 2012 congressional report stated that Huawei could be a security risk.
  • According to the US, Huawei’s owners have close links with the Chinese military and, as such, the company cannot be trusted with data.
  • The treatment of Huawei has become a massive reason for further straining the already fraught diplomatic relations between the US and China.

India stand on the Huawei controversy

  • Following Huawei’s blacklisting several countries were asked to take a stand on whether or not to allow the company to operate.
  • Certain countries such as the UK did not follow the US and cited benefits to operators from Huawei’s cost-efficient technology as the reason behind not banning the firm.
  • While India is yet to take a stand on whether or not to allow Huawei in 5G trials, officials at the telecom department have indicated that a decision will be taken in consultation with the MHA and MEA.
  • Huawei, however, has said that it is ready to sign a “no-backdoor” agreement with the Indian government and telecom companies to ensure that no snooping is allowed on its network.

Where does India stand on the rollout of 5G vis-a-vis other countries?

  • Deliberations are still on whether to give spectrum for 5G in the 25 GHz and 28 GHz bands.
  • This is one of the factors causing a delay in the auction of airwaves necessary for 5G deployment.
  • In February last year, Airtel and Huawei conducted a lab trial for 5G during which a user throughput of 3 Gbps was achieved. However, not much has moved since then.
  • A committee of the telecom ministry recently cleared the proposal to allow few Indian companies to conduct 5G spectrum trial.

What happens after field trials are conducted?

  • Field trials allow operators and equipment makers to prove that the network they have built in a laboratory also works outside in a field.
  • Even after conducting the field trials, operators will have a long way to go before commercial rollout primarily because of the lack of availability of the necessary spectrum.
  • Some telecom companies, however, have questioned the need for rolling out 5G in India given that focus is still on the propagation of 4G services, especially in the hinterlands of the country.
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Explained: Changes in NIA (Amendment) Bill 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIA and its mandate

Mains level : Impact of the proposed amendments



News

  • Recently Lok Sabha has passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a heated debate in the House.
  • It is a move to foster ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy towards terrorism and other crimes.

About NIA

  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realized.
  • The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008 Headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The conviction rate of this anti-terrorism agency is currently 95 per cent as it has managed to convict 167 accused in the 185 cases registered by it since its inception.

What are changes introduced in the NIA (Amendment) Bill?

There are three major amendments to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008:

I. Type of offences

  • Under the existing Act, the NIA can investigate offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
  • The latest amendments will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

II. NIA’s jurisdiction

  • Under the Act, for the offences under its purview, NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these extend across the country.
  • The Bill amends this to give NIA officers the power to investigate offences committed outside India.
  • Of course, NIA’s jurisdiction will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.

III. Special trial courts

  • The amendment seeks for special trials courts for the offences that come under NIA’s purview or the so-called “scheduled offences”.
  • The existing Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials.
  • But the Bill enables the Central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for such trials.

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

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

Explained: Anti-Defection Law

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anti-defection Law

Mains level : Role of ADL


News

  • Cases of defection have been reportedly rising from various states like Goa, Karnataka, Telangana etc.

Anti-defection law in India

  • For a long time, the Indian political scene was clouded by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability in the political system.
  • The infamous “Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram” slogan was coined against the background of continuous defections by the legislators.
  • Legislators used to change parties frequently, bringing about chaos in the legislatures as governments fell.
  • In sum, they often brought about political instability. This caused serious concerns to the right thinking political leaders of the country.
  • The ‘anti-defection law’ was passed through an Act of Parliament in 1985 by the government under Rajiv Gandhi.
  • Passed as the 52nd Amendment Act, it added the law as the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

What all does the Law cover?

  • It states that members who do the following will lose their membership any House (which could be at the Centre or in a State) if they:
  1. Voluntary resign from their political party from which they have been elected
  2. Vote against the direction of their political party (in legislature)
  3. Does not vote/abstain from voting (in legislature) despite having a direction to vote from their party.
  • and 3. do not apply if the member has prior permission from his/her party or the party condones the member’s action within 15 days of the voting.
  • Members independent of any political party will lose their membership if they join one after their election to legislature.
  • Nominated members will lose their membership if they join a party within 6 months of their nomination to legislature.

Certain Exceptions to the Law

  • The law provides exceptions from being disqualified as a member of legislature on the following grounds:
  1. When political parties merge with each other entirely
  2. When a political party splits into other parties, subject to not less than a third of the members splitting
  3. When two-thirds (or more) of members belonging to a party join another party without both their parties explicitly merging
  • The Speaker or the Chairman of the concerned Houses (as applicable) makes decisions on defection matters.
  • If the Chairman or the Speaker defects, the decisions shall be made by a member elected by the House.

Has the law changed since inception, and if so, how?

  • Yes, the law was amended in 2003.
  • When it was enacted first, there was a provision under which if there occurs a split in the original political party and as a result of which one-third of the legislators of that party forms a separate group, they shall not be disqualified.
  • This provision resulted in large scale defections and the lawmakers were convinced that the provision of a split in the party was being misused. Therefore, they decided to delete this provision.
  • Now, the only provision which can be invoked for protection from disqualification is the provision relating to the merger, which is provided in Paragraph 4 of the 10th Schedule.

Is the law, as it stands now, open to interpretation?

  • The first ground for disqualifying a legislator for defecting from a party is his voluntarily giving up the membership of his party.
  • This term “voluntarily giving up the membership of his party” is susceptible to interpretation.
  • As has been explained earlier, voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party.
  • The Supreme Court has clarified this point by saying that the presiding officer, who acts as a tribunal, has to draw a reasonable inference from the conduct of the legislator.

How far has the law succeeded in achieving its goal?

  • The law certainly has been able to curb the evil of defection to a great extent.
  • But, of late, a very alarming trend of legislators defecting in groups to another party in search of greener pastures is visible.
  • The recent examples of defection in state Assemblies and even in Rajya Sabha bear this out.
  • This only shows that the law needs a relook in order to plug the loopholes if any.

Conclusion

  • This law has served the interest of the society.
  • Political instability caused by frequent and unholy change of allegiance on the part of the legislators of our country has been contained to a very great extent.
  • That is a story of success of one of the most important legislation that the Indian Parliament has enacted.
Electoral Reforms In India

Explained: How PIB accreditation helps journalists

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PIB accredition

Mains level : Freedom of Press


News

Context

  • The Union Ministry of Finance has justified recent restrictions on the entry of journalists, even those holding a Press Information Bureau (PIB) card, in the Finance Ministry.
  • This has been done for streamlining the interactions between the media and the government.
  • Many journalists holding a PIB cards are feeling aggrieved over the decision.

What is PIB Card?

  • A PIB accreditation is only given to journalists who live in Delhi or its periphery, and works with a media organisation that has been functioning continuously for at least a year and if 50 per cent of its content is news or commentary of general public interest.
  • The content should also include news and information emanating from the headquarters of the Government of India.
  • According to the Central News Media Accreditation Guidelines, 1999, PIB accreditation “shall not confer any official or special status on news media representatives, but shall only recognize their identity as a professional working journalist”.
  • The guidelines define accreditation as recognition of news media representatives by the Government of India for purpose of access to sources of information in the Government and also to news materials, written or pictorial, released by the PIB and/or other agencies of the govt.

A sort of security pass

  • The PIB card given to all accredited journalists mentions on its back that it is “valid for entry into buildings under MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) security zone”.
  • Since a PIB card comes after security clearance from the Home Ministry, accredited journalists are allowed to enter the premises of most Union government ministries without prior appointment.
  • They are not required to register or record their presence at the reception, or with any other official in any ministry.
  • This firewalls the journalists from attempts at finding out when and on how many occasions they have visited the premises of an office, and which officers they have met.

Who is eligible for PIB accreditation?

  • To be eligible for PIB accreditation, a journalist needs to have a minimum of five years’ professional experience as a full-time working journalist or a cameraperson in a news organisation, or a minimum of 15 years as a freelancer.
  • Journalists working full-time for a news organisation seeking accreditation must be earning a minimum salary of Rs 4,500 per month.
  • A newspaper or periodical needs to have a minimum daily circulation of 10,000, or 75,000 if it is part of a chain, and news agencies must have a gross annual revenue of a minimum Rs 20 lakh for their journalists to be eligible for accreditation.
  • Similar rules apply for foreign news organisations and foreign journalists.
  • Applications for accreditation are vetted by a Central Press Accreditation Committee headed by the DG, PIB.
  • After a journalist applies for a PIB accreditation, there is a mandatory security check conducted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which also includes on-site verification of the journalist’s residence by the police.

Benefits

  • As such, PIB accreditation has several advantages. First, in certain events involving senior public functionaries such as the President, the Prime Minister, and other ministers, only a PIB accredited journalist is allowed entry.
  • Second, journalists accredited with the PIB are eligible, along with members of their family, for subsidised health services under the Central Government Health Scheme, meant for employees of the Union government.
  • Third, and most importantly, a PIB accreditation helps a journalist carry out her professional responsibilities. It does so by helping a journalist protect her sources.
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Explained: What does it mean for India to become a $5-trillion economy

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • It is now clear that the main goal of the government will be to make India a $5-trillion economy by the end of this term.
  • But what does it mean for India to become a $5-trillion economy? How likely is India to achieve the target? Will every Indian gain from it?

What is the meaning of becoming a $5-trillion economy?

  • In 2014, India’s GDP was $1.85 trillion. Today it is $2.7 trillion and India is the sixth-largest economy in the world.
  • Essentially the reference is to the size of an economy as measured by the annual GDP.
  • As a thumb rule, the bigger the size of the economy, the more prosperous it can be expected to be.
  • The GDP of an economy is the total monetary value of all goods and services produced in an economy within a year.
  • For most international comparisons, GDP is calculated via the production method (that is, adding up the value-added at each step) and the monetary value is arrived at by using current prices in US $.
  • In other words, GDP is a way among countries (economies) to keep score about who is ahead.

Global comparison

  • The first column of the table alongside provides a snapshot of where India stood as of 2018 according to World Bank.
  • In terms of overall GDP, this data shows that India is very close to overtaking the United Kingdom.
  • It also shows that Indonesia’s GDP is almost one-third of India’s.

Are Indians the sixth-richest people in the world?

  • That India is the sixth-largest economy does not necessarily imply that Indians are the sixth-richest people on the planet.
  • The GDP is the first and most rudimentary way to keep score among economies.
  • If one wants to better understand the wellbeing of the people in an economy, one should look at GDP per capita.
  • In other words, GDP divided by the total population. This gives a better sense of how an average resident of an economy might be fairing.

Income Inequality in India

  • If one looks at the GDP per person data in the second column of the table, it reveals a very different, and indeed a more accurate picture of the level of prosperity in the respective economies.
  • For instance, on average, a UK resident’s income was 21 times that of an average Indian in 2018.
  • Still, the richest 1% of Indians own 58.4% of wealth. The richest 10 % of Indians own 80.7 % of the wealth.

Can India achieve the target by 2024?

  • The answer would depend essentially on the assumption about economic growth.
  • If India grows at 12% nominal growth (that is 8% real GDP growth and 4% inflation), then from the 2018 level of $2.7 trillion, India would reach the 5.33 trillion mark in 2024.
  • However, there’s a glitch. Last year, India grew by just 6.8%.
  • This year, most observers expect it to grow by just 7%. So India must keep growing at a rapid pace to attain this target.

How will GDP per capita change when India hits the $5-trillion mark?

  • If by 2024 India’s GDP is $5.33 trillion and India’s population is 1.43 billion (according to UN population projection).
  • India’s per capita GDP would be $3,727.
  • This would be considerably more than what it is today, still it will be lower than Indonesia’s GDP per capita in 2018.

Explained: Economic Survey 2019 — new ideas to policy prescriptions

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the Economic Survey

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

What is Economic Survey?

  • Each year, a day before the presentation of the full-fledged annual Union Budget, the country Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) releases the Economic Survey.
  • However, notwithstanding the close proximity of its release with the Union Budget, the Economic Survey is not exactly a predictor of the Budget proposals.
  • Still, it is a very important document because it provides an authoritative, detailed and official annual summary of the current state of play in the Indian economy.

What it consists of?

  • Beyond the summary, the ES paints a variety of future scenarios, highlighting likely challenges and pointing to possible solutions.
  • In the past few years, the ES has been presented in two volumes.
  • Volume 1 focussed on research and analysis about the challenges — both contemporary and long-term — facing the Indian economy.
  • Volume 2 provided the more descriptive review of the fiscal year, encompassing all the major sectors of the economy.

Importance of Economic Surveys

  • Apart from providing a comprehensive snapshot of the various sectors of the economy, the ES is also used as a sounding board for introducing new policy ideas and triggering fresh debates.
  • As the years have rolled by, successive CEAs have used every aspect of the Economic Survey to convey some key idea.
  • For instance, the colour of the 2018 Survey’s cover — pink — was chosen “as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women, which spans continents”.

Key takeaways from Economic Survey 2018-19

Slowest projection of growth

  • The ES has projected that economic growth in the current fiscal year could rise to 7% from the 6.8% in 2018-19 — the slowest rate of growth in five years.

Macroeconomic Indicators

  • The survey has flagged the challenges on the fiscal front following an economic slowdown impacting tax collections amid an expected surge in agri-spending.
  • It has underlined the need for India to shift gears to accelerate and sustain a real GDP growth rate of 8% in order to achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • It flags the need for a “virtuous cycle” of savings, investment and exports to be catalyzed and supported by a favorable demographic phase required for sustainable growth.
  • Private investment has been highlighted as a key driver for demand, capacity, labor productivity, new technology, creative destruction and job creation.

Era for behavioral change

  • The Survey lays out an agenda for behavioral change by applying the principles of behavioral economics to several issues.
  • It includes gender equality, a healthy and beautiful India, savings, tax compliance and credit quality.
  • It highlights a transition from ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ to ‘BADLAV’ (Beti Aapki Dhan Lakshmi Aur Vijay Lakshmi), from ‘Swachh Bharat’ to ‘Sundar Bharat’, from ‘Give it up” for the LPG subsidy to ‘Think about the Subsidy’ and from ‘Tax evasion’ to ‘Tax compliance’.

Policy prescriptions

  • The Survey flags the case for intervention in the case of “dwarfs” (firms with less than 100 workers) despite being more than 10 years old, account for more than 50% of all organized firms in manufacturing by number.
  • In this context, it calls for a sunset clause of less than 10 years, with necessary grand-fathering, for all size-based incentives and deregulating labor law restrictions to create significantly more jobs.
  • It calls for a need to ramp up capacity in the lower judiciary, including a focus on delays in dispute resolution.
  • Contract enforcement biggest constraint to improve EODB ranking; much of the problem is concentrated in the lower courts.
  • It also calls for policy changes to lower overall lifetime ownership costs and make electric vehicles an attractive alternative to conventional vehicles.

Problem areas

  • While the investment rate was expected to pick up following improvement in consumer demand and bank lending, the GST, farm schemes will all pose challenges on the fiscal front.
  • Fiscal deficit has been pegged at 3.4% of GDP for 2018-19.
  • There are apprehensions of slowing growth, which will have implications for revenue collections.
  • Crude oil prices are projected to decline in 2019-20, which could push consumption.
  • Flags need to gear up for ageing population; necessitating more healthcare investment, increasing retirement age in a phased manner.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

Explained: Privilege Motion

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Privileges Motion

Mains level : Breach of Privileges of Parliamentarians


News

  • A MP from West Bengal has moved a breach of privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against a private news channel and its editor.

What is a privilege motion?

  • Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can “effectively discharge their functions”.
  • When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
  • A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
  • Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.

What are the rules governing privilege?

  • Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook govern privilege.
  • It says that a member may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee thereof.
  • The rules however mandate that any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House.
  • Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.

What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?

  • The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion.
  • The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
  • If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.

What is the privileges committee?

  • In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths.
  • A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report.
  • The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
  • A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed.
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.
Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

Explained: Hong Kong political crisis

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Decolonization of Asian countries and its aftermath


News

Background

  • 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”.

Explained: Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RIIN, ILP

Mains level : Citizenship issue in Nagaland


News

  • Four years after Assam started revising the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Nagaland government has initiated a move to implement its own version of citizenship register, albeit only for indigenous communities of the state.

Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN)

  • The Government of Nagaland has decided to set up a Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN) with the aim of preventing fake indigenous inhabitants’ certificates.
  • The RIIN will be the master list of all indigenous inhabitants of the state.

How will the list be prepared?

  • The RIIN list will be based on “an extensive survey”.
  • It will involve official records of indigenous residents from rural and (urban) wards and would be prepared under the supervision of the district administration.
  • The preparation of the list will start from July 10, 2019, and the whole process will be completed within 60 days from the start.
  • Designated teams of surveyors will be formed within seven days from the date of publication of the notification, and thereafter these teams will be sent across each village and ward.
  • The database will note each family’s original residence, current residence as well as the concerned Aadhaar

What is the review procedure?

  • Respondents will be given an opportunity to make their case before the authorities.
  • Eventually, respective Dy. Commissioners will adjudicate on the claims and objections based on official records and the evidence produced.
  • This process will be completed before December 10, 2019.

Unique identity through Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate

  • Based on the adjudication and verification, a list of indigenous inhabitants will be finalised and each person will be given a unique ID.
  • The final list or the RIIN will be created and its copies will be placed in all villages and ward.
  • Electronic copies of the list will also be stored in the State Data Centre. A mechanism or electronic and SMS-based authentication will be put in place.
  • All indigenous inhabitants of the state would be issued a barcoded and numbered Indigenous Inhabitant Certificate.
  • The process will be conducted across Nagaland and will be done as part of the online system of Inner Line Permit (ILP), which is already in force in Nagaland.

The Inner Line Permit (ILP)

  • ILP is an official travel document required by Indian citizens residing outside certain “protected” states while entering them.
  • The ILP is issued by the Govt. of India and is obligatory for all those who reside outside the protected states.
  • With the ILP, the government aims to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
  • ILP’s origin dates back to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which protected the British Crown’s interest in tea, oil and elephant trade.
  • It prohibited “British subjects” or Indians from entering into these protected areas.
  • After Independence, in 1950, the word “British subjects” was replaced by Citizens of India and the focus of the ban on free movement was explained as a bid to protect tribal cultures in northeastern India.

How will be the process monitored?

  • The entire exercise will be monitored by the Commissioner of Nagaland.
  • In addition, the state government will designate nodal officers of the rank of a Secretary to the state government. Their role will be to monitor the implementation.
  • However, they will have no say in the adjudication process.
  • The nodal officers will submit monthly reports of their visits and their assessments to a permanent committee set up under the Home Department to monitor the whole exercise.

How will the RIIN be updated?

  • Once the RIIN is finalised, no fresh indigenous inhabitant certificates will be issued except to newborn babies born to the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland.
  • In case anyone who is left out of the RIIN, he/she will need to file an application before Home Commissioner who will get the matter verified and take necessary action for updating the RIIN if needed.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: The enduring legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Misls

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • Recently a statue of Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was inaugurated in Lahore. June 27 is his death anniversary. His legacy endures for Punjabis around the world.

Ranjit Singh: Life and times

  • Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan.
  • At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls.
  • Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
  • He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death.
  • His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
  • At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.

Held a powerful and modernized Army

  • Ranjit Singh’s combined the strong points of the traditional Khalsa army with western advances in warfare to raise Asia’s most powerful indigenous army of that time.
  • His army was a match for the one raised by the East India Company.
  • He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernise his army.
  • He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops.
  • During the Battle of Chillianwala, the second of the Anglo-Sikh wars that followed Ranjit Singh’s death, the British suffered the maximum casualties of officers in their entire history in India.

His quest for empire

  • Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar.
  • The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast.
  • His empire extended till Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
  • During his regime, Punjab was a land of six rivers, the sixth being the Indus.

His legacy

  • The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his Darbar.
  • The Sikhs take pride in him for he turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
  • Right at the doorstep of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is a plaque that details how in 1830 AD, the maharaja did sewa over 10 years.
  • He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Global recognition

  • In 2016, the town of St Tropez in France unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • Today, his throne is displayed prominently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  • Exhibitions on his rule are frequent in western countries home to the Punjabi diaspora.
  • Last year, London hosted an exhibition that focused on the history of the Sikh Empire and the international relations forged by the maharaja.
History- Important places, persons in news

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