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Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

Legislative Councils and its abolitionStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Legislative Councils

Mains level : Need for Legislative Councils


The Andhra Pradesh Assembly recently passed a resolution to abolish the state’s Legislative Council (LC).

Legislative Councils

  • The LC or Vidhan Parishad is the upper house in those states that have a bicameral legislature; the lower house being the State Legislative Assembly.
  • Its establishment is defined in Article 169 of the Constitution of India.
  • Each Member of the State LC serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one third of a State Legislative Council’s membership expire every two years.
  • This arrangement parallels that for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.
  • Q member of LC must be a citizen of India, at least 30 years old, mentally sound, not an insolvent, and must be enrolled on the voters’ list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election.
  • Under Article 171, a Council cannot have more than a third of the number of MLAs in the state, and not less than 40 members.

Representation in an LC

MLCs are chosen in the following manner:

  • One third are elected by the members of local bodies such as municipalities, Gram panchayats, Panchayat samitis and district councils.
  • One third are elected by the members of Legislative Assembly of the State from among the persons who are not members of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • One sixth are nominated by the governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in fields such as literature, science, arts, the co-operative movement and social service.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons who are graduates of three years’ standing residing in that state.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.

Abolition of LC

  • Article 169(1) of the Constitution allows Parliament to either create or abolish a Council in a state “if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect.
  • The resolution must by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.

Councils in the Constitution

  • Under Article 168, states can have either one or two Houses of legislature. Article 169 leaves the choice of having a Vidhan Parishad to individual states.
  • The Constituent Assembly was divided on having a second chamber in the states.
  • It was argued that a second House can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House, and also enable non-elected persons to contribute to the legislative process.
  • However, it was also felt that some of the poorer states could ill afford the extravagance of two Houses.
  • It has been pointed out that the Councils can be used to delay important legislation, and to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

Councils in other states

  • Besides Andhra Pradesh, five other states have Vidhan Parishads — Bihar (58 members), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), UP (100).
  • Jammu and Kashmir had a Council until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  • In 1986, the M G Ramachandran government in Tamil Nadu abolished the Council.
  • The DMK government passed a law revives it, but the subsequent J Jayalalithaa-led government withdrew it after coming to power in 2010.
  • The Odisha Assembly has passed a resolution for a Legislative Council. Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in Rajya Sabha.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Punjab’s new Right to Business BillStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Right to Business

Mains level : Various mover for the MSME sector


The Punjab Cabinet this week gave its approval to a Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020, a law aimed at ensuring ease of doing business for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020

  • Under the law, an MSME unit can be set up after ‘In-Principle’ approval from the District Bureau of Enterprise, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, working under the guidance of the State Nodal Agency, headed by the Director, Industries.
  • Approval for units in approved Industrial Parks will be given in three working days.
  • For new enterprises outside approved Industrial Parks, the decision on the Certificate shall be taken by the District Level Nodal Agency within 15 working days, as per the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee.

What is the timeframe for unit owners to comply?

  • Unit owners will have three and a half years after setting up the unit to obtain seven approvals from three departments: the sanction of building plans; issuance of completion/occupation certificate for buildings; registration of new trade licences.
  • The industries involving hazardous processes will have to obtain a Fire NOC and get approval for the factory building plan before setting up the unit.
  • All units will have to get environmental clearance from the Pollution Control Board beforehand.

Why was a law needed, rather than an executive order?

  • According to the government, the Act will have overriding powers over various Acts of different departments that make approvals necessary before the setting up of small and medium units.
  • This purpose could not have been achieved by an executive order.
  • How the law actually works on the ground remains to be seen, however.
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Meghalaya ordinance on non-state residentsStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ILP, NRC, CAA

Mains level : Read the attached story


The Meghalaya Cabinet by an Ordinance approved the amendments to The Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016.

What is the Ordinance about?

  • The existing 2016 Act deals with registration and documentation of non-state residents living in Meghalaya.
  • The Ordinance seeks to extend similar rules to cover all non-state residents visiting or living in the state.
  • This Act is indicative only for those people who are interested in visiting Meghalaya as tourists, labourers or for education and business.
  • With the Act in place, they will need to comply with guidelines to be prepared in the form of rules.

The point of the amendment

  • It came in the backdrop of the NRC process in Assam, which led to concerns among civil society and political leaders that people excluded from the Assam NRC might try to enter Meghalaya.
  • Besides, political parties and activists in Meghalaya had long been demanding replication of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, which has now been extended to Manipur.
  • While the ILP-regime states are exempt from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), practically the whole of Meghalaya is exempt by virtue of special protections under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The Ordinance itself was not a fallout of the citizenship legislation, but a precautionary measure in view of the Assam NRC.
Railway Reforms

Silver Line Railway Project in KeralaPrelims OnlyStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Silver Line Project

Mains level : High speed railway connectivity in India: Prospects and Challenges


The Ministry of Railways granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project, a proposal of the Kerala government that involves laying of semi high-speed trains between the two corners of the state of Kerala.

The Silver Line project

  • The Silver Line project aims to connect major districts and towns with semi high-speed trains that will run on their own tracks.
  • The 532-km corridor is projected to be built at a cost of Rs 56,443 crore. Trains would complete the journey at four hours instead of 12, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
  • The corridor will be built away from the existing line between Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur.
  • The semi high-speed trains will traverse through 11 of the state’s 14 districts, Alappuzha, Wayanad and Idukki being the exceptions.
  • There are also plans to connect the corridor with the international airports at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by 2024.

Implementation  

  • The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis, will be the nodal agency.
  • The government is believed to be looking at external funding agencies.
  • An initial investment is likely to be made by K-Rail for acquiring land. A Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be commissioned soon.

Need for such project

  • Kerala’s road networks are clogged and experience dense traffic during peak hours.
  • According to a data, less than 10% of the state’s roads handle nearly 80% of the traffic.
  • This also gives rise to accidents and casualties; in 2018, Kerala recorded 4,259 deaths and 31,687 grievous injuries.
  • Experts have been demanding faster transportation options including railways and waterways
  • The current railway network is congested with a large number of trains, level crossings and sharp curves.
  • The project will result in direct and indirect employment opportunities for 50,000 people, and the project once completed would create direct employment for at least 11,000 people.
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

JAGA MissionGovt. SchemesStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : JAGA mission

Mains level : Problems of Slum Dwellers



World Habitat Mission has recognised the Odisha state government’s Jaga Mission that uses drones to survey slums. The Odisha government has become the first in the country to bag this award.

Jaga (Land) Mission

  • Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission “JAGA” is a society under Housing & Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha, headed by the Chief Secretary, Odisha as Chairman.
  • “JAGA” aims at transforming the slums into liveable habitat with all necessary civic infrastructure and services at par with the better off areas within the same urban local body (ULB).
  • It would work continuously to improve the standard of the infrastructure and services and access to livelihood opportunities.
  • It is the world’s largest slum land title project.
  • It involves the government surveying and awarding slum dwellers a legal land title.

Why land rights for slums matter

  • More often than not, slums are seen as encroachments and slum dwellers, even if they stay in slums for decades, are not provided with any legal rights over the land.
  • This illegality further condemns slums — which are an urban reality in Indian cities — to unsanitary conditions. Formal recognition of land rights allows for cleaner cities and better living conditions for slum dwellers.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Exemption categories under CABStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAB and its various prospects

Mains level : Issues over citizenship amendment bill



In the protests in the Northeast against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019, the outrage has been most intense, sustained and widespread in Assam as its larger part is under CAB.

Exemption categories under CAB

There are two categories that have been given exemption — states protected by the ‘Inner Line’, and areas covered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Inner Line Permit (ILP)

  • This is a special permit that citizens from other parts of India require to enter a state protected by the ILP regime.
  • Without an ILP granted by the state government, an Indian from another state cannot visit an state that is under the ILP regime.

Sixth Schedule

  • The Sixth Schedule relates to special provisions in administration of certain Northeastern states.
  • It provides special powers for Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in these states.
  • ADCs have powers to enact laws in areas under their jurisdiction on a variety of subjects, one of its objectives being to boost self-governance by tribal communities.

State by state

Assam: The state has three Autonomous District Councils, two of which are geographically contiguous. While these are protected, CAB will be in effect in a larger area.

Meghalaya: This state too has three ADCs. Unlike in Assam, the ADCs in Meghalaya cover almost the entire state. Only a small part of Shillong is not covered. CAB will be effective in that part of Shillong while the rest of the state is protected.

Tripura: One ADC covers around 70% of the state’s area. However, the remaining 30% holds about two-thirds of the population. CAB is effective in the smaller, more densely populated regions.

Arunachal Pradesh: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB.

Nagaland: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB. So far, only Dimapur used to be outside the regime. Now, ILP has been extended to Dimapur, too, so the whole state is now exempt.

Mizoram: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB. Additionally, the state has three ADCs that are also protected under the Sixth Schedule.

Manipur: Entire state gets new ILP protection. The state was not protected under either option, but following the introduction of CAB in Parliament, the government has introduced ILP in Manipur too.

Citizenship and Related Issues

Areas where Citizenship (Amendment) Bill does not applyStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAB, ILP

Mains level : Citizenship issues in NE India



In the revised version of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) which is set to be introduced, the Centre has exempted certain areas in the Northeast, where the Bill has been facing protests.

CAB exempted states

In effect, it exempts the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, almost the whole of Meghalaya, and parts of Assam and Tripura, but keeps all of Manipur under its ambit.

Why are three states totally exempted?

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) states: “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inter Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.”
  • The Inner Line Permit (ILP) system prevails in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. In Nagaland, Dimapur town is not under ILP as of now.

How does the ILP system work?

  • ILP is a special permit that citizens from other parts of India require to enter the three states. It can be obtained after applying online or physically, and specifies dates of travel and areas which the ILP holder can travel to.
  • When the regime was introduced under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873, the objective was to protect the Crown’s own commercial interests by preventing “British subjects” (Indians) from trading within these regions.
  • In 1950, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India”, to address local concerns about protecting their interests.

What does this exemption mean for beneficiaries under CAB?

  • In ILP states, there are already a large number of migrants from other Indian states. They live and work there equipped with long-term ILPs, and renew these.
  • The question now being asked, therefore, is whether a person who becomes an Indian citizen through CAB can, or cannot, apply for an ILP and work in such states, just like any other Indian citizen.
  • Also, multiple restrictions and regulations exist on entry and stay of “outsiders” (Indian citizens from outside that state/area) in areas under the Inner Line system or the Sixth Schedule.
  • These existing rules are expected to put the same restrictions on someone who has acquired citizenship through CAB.
  • The exemptions appear to imply, however, that no immigrant non-citizen living in these areas can be regularized as an Indian citizen through CAB.
  • The exemption means that no… Bangladeshi will be allowed to settle in Mizoram and other ILP states under CAB.

What is the Sixth Schedule, and which areas are exempted from CAB?

  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, described in Articles 244(2) and 275(1), relates to special provisions in administration of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram and provides special powers for Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in these states.
  • ADCs have powers to enact laws in areas under their jurisdiction on a variety of subjects, with the objective of ensuring development of tribal areas and boosting self-governance by tribal communities.
  • Mizoram is covered under the ILP regime in any case.
  • Among the other three states that have areas protected under the Sixth Schedule, tribal-majority Meghalaya has three ADCs that cover practically the entire state, except for a small part of Shillong city.
  • Assam has three ADCs and Tripura one, all with Sixth Schedule powers.

So, why has Manipur been an exception to both these kinds of regimes?

  • Manipur, like Tripura, was a princely state. When they joined the Indian Union (both in 1949; they became full-fledged states in 1972), they were out of the scheme of the Sixth Schedule.
  • Only from 1985, the Sixth Schedule was implemented in Tripura’s tribal areas.
  • When Tripura was given, the Centre had said that even in Manipur it would be extended shortly —but it never turned out to be a reality.

What about Manipur’s tribal areas?

  • Manipur has two geographically distinct areas. The valley, which includes Imphal, constitutes roughly 10% of the geographical area but holds around 60% of the state’s population.
  • These belong mostly to the dominant Meitei community. The remaining 90% is hill areas, home to the other 40% that include a wide range of tribes, including Nagas and Kukis.
  • The Centre, while granting statehood, was aware that certain problems could come up for tribals and hence introduced Article 371C.

But what is Article 371C?

  • It mentions special provisions for Manipur.
  • The powers granted through this provision protect the tribals of Manipur in the Assembly, primarily through the Hill Areas Committee of the Manipur State Legislative Assembly — which comprises MLAs from the hill areas of the state.

Are there any other provisions for Manipur?

  • The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971, passed by Parliament, paved the way for establishment of six Autonomous District Councils in Manipur in 1972.
  • However, that without the Sixth Schedule in place, these Councils have much lower powers in comparison to ADCs under the Sixth Schedule.
  • Last year, the Manipur People Bill, 2018 was passed by the Assembly. Said to be awaiting presidential assent, it proposes to several regulations on “outsiders” or “non-Manipuri people” in the state.
  • The Bill had undergone series of negotiations on defining the “Manipuri” people, after which a consensus was reached on 1951 as the cut-off year.

What about other states in the Northeast?

  • In November this year, the Meghalaya Cabinet approved amendments to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016, which will lead to laws that require non-resident visitors to register themselves.
  • The move came in the backdrop of demands for an ILP-like regime and concerns expressed by civil society and political leaders that people excluded from the NRC in Assam might try to enter Meghalaya.
  • In Assam too, there have been demands by certain sections for the introduction of an ILP regime.
Sugar Industry – FRP, SAP, Rangarajan Committee, EBP, MIEQ, etc.

Harvesting and Transportation (HnT) charges on SugarcaneStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HnT

Mains level : Sugar industry in India


  • Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner has introduced two crucial changes during the crushing season of 2019-20, and both of them are expected to change the way the industry functions.
  • While millers have expressed strong reservations about the changes, some of them feel the move will help streamline the payment system for farmers.

The changes 

  • Farmers can transport their own cane
  • Mills have to make harvesting and transportation costs public

Harvesting and Transportation (HnT) charges

  • Starting this season, officers of the Sugar Commissionerate will publish HnT charges of individual mills in an area.
  • The list will have the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) net after deducting the HnT of individual mills, which is the real cane payment received by farmers after selling their produce to those mills.
  • Farmers will also be allowed to harvest and transport their own cane. Seemingly simple, these changes have serious implications for both cane growers and millers.
  • Unlike their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh, mills in Maharashtra arrange for harvesting and transportation of cane from the farmers’ fields till the mill gate.
  • Based on the date of planting of cane, mills draw up their harvesting calendar to ensure the availability of cane across the season to maximise their operations.
  • In lieu of this service, mills deduct the HnT charges from the final cane payment to the farmers.

Advantages of the new system

  • The current system seems to be working out in favour of both millers and farmers.
  • The farmer doesn’t have to bother about transporting the cane while the mills are ensured quality harvested material for their operations.
  • The harvesting is done by migrant workers who travel to the mills at the beginning of the season and leave once it is over.
  • In case the harvested cane is mixed with other non-sucrose items such as leaves, mills report a dip in the sugar recovery.
  • One of the main reasons why Maharashtra’s sugar recovery is higher than that of Uttar Pradesh is because the mills arrange for harvesting and transportation of cane.

 Disadvantages of the new system

  • The decision of the mill to levy average HnT charges may be advantageous to some farmers, but it works out against other farmers.
  • On an average, mills procure cane from within a radius of 50-60 km around them.
  • For farmers whose fields are further away from the mills, the transportation of cane is an advantage, but not so much for farms closer to the mills, which can transport the cane and save the HnT charges.
  • But HnT charges for mills in Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Marathwada, which account for around 40 per cent of the state’s total sugar production, have started charging HnT in the range of Rs 800-900 per tonne.
  • This is a substantial amount of the total earnings of the farmers. These mills, meanwhile, cite the extra distance they have to cover to procure enough cane to justify higher HnT charges.
  • But farmer have alleged that the millers are inflating the HnT charges and going out of their way to favour relatives, friends and supporters of the mill directors, whose fields are located further away.

What has the Sugar Commissioner done and why are mills apprehensive?

  • The commissioner has decided to make the HnT charges of mills public and also allow farmers to harvest and transport their own cane.
  • The commissioner is hopeful that making the HnT charges public will help farmers choose which mill to sell their cane to, and where their realization will be maximum as mills will not deduct the HnT charges in such cases.
  • This move may also help build up pressure on mills to streamline their HnT charges and avoid procuring cane from financially unviable distances.
  • But millers have said the process will have operational hurdles and expressed doubts about the farmers’ ability to arrange for harvesters and transportation of cane.
  • They fear that this will eventually affect the sugar recovery of mills. Millers have also pointed out that the current system has been in place for a long time and cautioned that any bid to change it may backfire.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Gujarat terror lawStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Definition of "Terrorist Act"

Mains level : Curbing terror related activities in India


The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Act which received President’s this month comes into effect on December 1.

An edge over MCOCA

  • The anti-terrorism law, which three Presidents had returned to the state, draws heavily from The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999, with two significant differences t.
  • The checks on interception of communication that are part of the Maharashtra law are missing in the Gujarat law; and the definition of “terrorist act” in the GCTOCA also covers “intention to disturb public order”.
  • These differences make the Gujarat law tougher and broader in scope than MCOCA.

Interception in MCOCA

  • Five MCOCA sections (13, 14, 15, 16, and 27) deal with the interception of communication.
  • The law states that the interception, if approved by the competent authority, cannot be for more than 60 days and that an extension would require permission.
  • The application for extension must include a statement of the results of the interception thus far, or a reasonable explanation for the failure to obtain results.
  • Extension, if granted, cannot be for more than 60 days.
  • The law provides for a panel to review the orders of the competent authority, and stipulates a prison term of up to a year for unauthorized interception or violation of the rules of interception.
  • The analysis of the utility of the interceptions must be submitted to the Maharashtra Assembly within three months of the end of the calendar year.

Who can intercept the calls?

  • A police officer of the rank of SP or above is required to supervise the investigation and to submit the application seeking authorisation for the interception of electronic or oral communication.
  • The law specifies various details that the application must mention.
  • Interception is allowed only if the investigating agency states that other modes of intelligence gathering have been tried, and have failed.
  • The competent authority shall be an officer of the state Home department, not below the rank of Secretary to the government.
  • In urgent cases, an officer of the rank of Additional DGP or above can authorise interception, but an application must be made to the competent authority within 48 hours of the ADGP’s order.

How is GCTOCA more powerful?

  • The Gujarat law deals only with the admissibility of evidence collected through interception, and do not mention the procedure for intercepting communication.
  • Its section 14 mirrors a corresponding section of MCOCA, and adds: “Notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC, 1973 or in any other law for the time being in force, the evidence collected shall be admissible as evidence against accused in the court during trial of case.”
  • “Any other law” is not defined.
  • GCTOCA also has no provision similar to the annual report mandated in the MCOCA.

Definition of ‘terrorist act’

  • The Gujarat law’s definition of a “terrorist act” is similar to the one in the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002, but includes “an act committed with the intention to disturb public order”.
  • A prosecutor in Gujarat said that the widening of the definition “allows, say, the Patidar agitation to be described as an act of terrorism, allowing stricter punishment”.
  • This prosecutor underlined that The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, India’s main central anti-terror law, “does not allow an agitation of such form or scale (to be called) ‘terrorism’, and is instead covered under IPC sections, (and) the law of sedition, (which) is not effective enough for stringent punishment”.
  • The Gujarat law defines a terrorist act as “an act committed with the intention to disturb public order or threaten the unity, integrity and security of the State or to strike terror in the minds of the people or any section of the people”

Argument for Gujarat law

  • The government could, while framing the Rules, introduce the checks and balances that are absent in the Gujarat terror law.
  • In case this is not done, there is also the provision where the court can ask the state government to frame Rules to this effect.
  • The constitutional validity of the law can be challenged on a “case-specific” basis.
  • With respect to GCTOC, there is a competing interest of law and order versus privacy. However, only time will tell how communication interception is used, and is interpreted.”
  • The definition of “terrorist act” was “very wide” — however, there were mechanisms built into the law to limit it.
  • The first check is the registration of FIR that can be done by an officer of rank SP or above. Ordinarily, if the power to register FIR is given to a sub-inspector- or inspector-level officer, it can be misused.
  • Secondly, assuming that the FIR is registered with a political motive, there is the provision that after submission of chargesheet, sanction from the state government is required before the court takes cognizance.
  • While the GCTOC Act does grant power to the executive with respect to the investigation process, there were similar provisions under previous laws TADA and POTA, both now repealed.
Tribes in News

Mizoram revokes Forest Rights ActStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FRA, Art. 371

Mains level : Special status to various states


The Mizoram government passed a resolution revoking the implementation of the ST and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA).

How did it revoke?

  • Under Article 371 (G) of the Constitution, Mizoram has a special provision.
  • It makes mandatory for all legislations of Parliament pertaining to land ownership and transfer to be first passed by the state’s assembly through a resolution before it can be implemented in the state.
  • The revoking of FRA using the special status provision of the Constitution by the Mizoram government is very similar to how the enactment of FRA was prevented in Jammu and Kashmir using Article 370.

Why such move?

  • A big chunk of forests in the state is owned by the Lai, Mara and Chakma Autonomous District Councils.
  • According to the 2017 State of Forest Report by the Forest Survey of India, around 20 per cent of the total 5,641 square kilometres of the forest land in Mizoram is “Unclassed Forest” which is under Autonomous District Councils.
  • The area of unclassed forest is lowest in Mizoram, among all North Eastern states.
  • This also means that the potential for FRA implementation is also the highest in the state.

Back2Basics

Explained: Forest Rights Act

Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Bill on protecting mediapersonsStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Freedom of Press



  • President has given assent to a legislation passed by the Maharashtra Assembly in 2017 that makes violent attacks on mediapersons a non-bailable offence.
  • Maharashtra is the first State to pass such legislation.

Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions Act, 2017

  • The Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2017, also has a provision of imprisonment and a fine of ₹50,000.
  • It was passed by the Assembly in 2017, but received the President’s assent in October after the Union Home Ministry scrutinized the legislation and consulted all concerned Ministries.
  • The MHA had returned the Bill to the Maharashtra government last year to seek clarification.
  • The Bill has a provision that any offence against a mediapersons will be investigated by a police officer above the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Why need such law?

  • There are rampant instances of violence and attacks against mediapersons and damage or loss to the property of media institutions.
  • There is strong demand to prevent such violence against mediapersons or damage or loss to the property belonging to mediapersons or media institutions and check the recurrence of such incidents in the State.
  • In 2017, the MHA also issued an advisory to all States to ensure the “safety and security of journalists”.
  • The advisory was issued days after Bengaluru-based journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead near her home.
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Registration mandatory for non-resident visitors to MeghalayaStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA)

Mains level : Citizenship issues in NE India



  • In a bid to protect the interest of tribal citizens, the Meghalaya cabinet approved the amendment to an act that seeks mandatory registration of outsiders for entering the State.

Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA)

  • The State cabinet approved the amended Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016.
  • Any person who is not a resident of Meghalaya and intend to stay more than 24 hours in the State will have to furnish document to the government.
  • Employees of the Centre, State and District Councils are exempted from the purview of the Act.
  • Any person, who willfully fails to furnish the information or provide false document will be liable to be punished under various sections of the IPC.
  • The original act was passed as part of comprehensive mechanisms to check illegal immigration, instead of the Inner Line Permit (ILP).

Why such a move?

  • There was an increasing demand to enhance vigil against influx of non-indigenous people in the hill state, following the implementation of the NRC in Assam.
  • The updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was released in August this year.
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

History of Naga flag and its relevance nowPriority 1States in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Naga flag

Mains level : Naga peace process



Context

  • The deadline for a final Naga peace accord passed on amid assertions from both sides that peace talks would continue.
  • Among the issues that have been contentious is the demand for a separate Naga constitution and use of the Naga flag, for decades a symbol of Naga nationalism.

The Nagas & the Indian Union

  • In a memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, representatives of Naga tribes demanded that Nagas be left free after Independence and not be included in the Indian Union.
  • Ahead of Independence, a nine-point agreement was signed between the Government of India and the Naga National Council.
  • This included an experimental coexistence with India for a period of 10 years to be reviewed at the end of that period.
  • While the Nagas saw this provision as temporary, with a right to self-determination after 10 years, Naga historians say the Indian government has interpreted the “trial period’’ as accession to the Indian Union.

Independence celebration

  • The tallest leader of the Naga struggle, Dr A Z Phizo, met M K Gandhi in Delhi on July 19, 1947.
  • According to Naga historians, Gandhi agreed that the Nagas would celebrate their independence a day ahead of India, on August 14, 1947.
  • To this day, Nagas across Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh celebrate August 14 as Independence Day.

The Naga flag

  • In the Naga narrative, passed down generations by word of mouth, the Naga flag was not designed by a mortal but is of divine origin.
  • As Naga groups battled the Indian armed forces, the legend goes, Phizo and his closest colleagues had a vision — a rainbow, in a startlingly blue sky that had appeared after a storm.
  • A woman of the Rengma tribe, one of the tribes under the Naga umbrella, was commissioned to weave the flag.
  • It was hoisted for the first time in Parashen in Rengma on March 22, 1956.
  • The flag has a blue background, representing the sky. A red, yellow and green rainbow arches across the centre.
  • The Star of Bethlehem adorns the top left corner of the flag; Nagas are predominantly Christian.

Where it stands today?

  • The flag remains a symbol of the Nagas’ struggle for over 60 years, of their religious faith, of the aspirations of the Naga people, and of their identity.
  • It helps bind all the different Naga tribes together.
  • Outside Nagaland state, in particular, the flag continues to elucidate strong emotions of identity from Nagas.
  • Inside the state, common citizens are today divided on it. Certain sections believe that with secession from the Indian Union no longer possible, the Naga flag has lost some of its relevance.

What are the secessionist tendencies today?

  • The moderates have supported a complete inclusion in the Indian state, for access to the latter’s development project, infrastructure, and its education and health facilities.
  • But a large section of the Nagas still holds dear the idea of the Naga identity and of their tribal roots.

Conclusion

  • The Naga struggle claimed thousands of lives over decades and devastated countless homes, all over the idea of a sovereign Naga nation.
  • If the NSCN (I-M) accedes to economic and political packages alone, without a separate flag and constitution, it remains to be seen whether it will be seen as a solution, or as a defeat.
J&K – The issues around the state

Bifurcation of Jammu and KashmirStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Minutes of the bifurcation

Mains level : Administrative changes in J&K



Context

  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be officially bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh from today.
  • Beyond the symbolic importance October 31 is the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — the day will mark the beginning of the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level.
  • The period between August 5 and October 31 has been used by the state administration and the Home Ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the J&K Reorganization Act.

Changes after Bifurcation

What happens on October 31?

  • In terms of events, the Lt. Governors of the two UTs will take oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
  • Last week, the Union government appointed serving IAS officer of Gujarat cadre G.C. Murmu as the LG of Jammu and Kashmir, and retired bureaucrat of Tripura cadre Radha Krishna Mathur as LG of Ladakh.
  • On the ground, the two UTs will get their own Chief Secretaries and other top bureaucrats, their own police chiefs and key supervisory officers.
  • While Dilbagh Singh will continue to be DG of J&K police, an IG-level officer will head the police in Ladakh. Both forces will remain part of the J&K cadre which will eventually merge with the UT cadre.
  • For full-fledged bifurcation, the Reorganization Act gives a period of one year.
  • Reorganization of states is a slow process that at times can take years; issues relating to reorganization of erstwhile Andhra which was bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana in 2013, are still being brought to the Union Home Ministry for resolution.

What will happen to other officers already posted in the undivided state?

  • An apportionment of posts in both UTs has been done. While the bureaucratic structures are in place, the staffs of the state administration are yet to be divided.
  • The government had asked all staff to send in applications for their preferred posting between the two UTs. This process is still on.
  • The basic idea is to have minimum shifting between the two UTs, sources in the state administration said, with preference being given to regional affinities.
  • Those from Ladakh prefer being posted in the region and those from Kashmir and Jammu want to stay put.
  • The only issue is there aren’t enough Ladakhi staff to fill in all posts there. So some people from Jammu and Kashmir may have to go there.

What happens to the laws that governed the state of J&K?

  • Legislative restructuring is a work in progress, with a lot remaining to be done. While 153 state laws are to be repealed, 166 have been retained.
  • Then there is the cosmetic exercise of repealing Acts that mention “applicable to all of India but not the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
  • As of now, the state administration has implemented all that is mentioned in the Reorganization Act as it is.
  • But it is also saddled with the massive legislative exercise of arriving at and making state-specific insertions into the 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two UTs.

New laws

  • For example, the state used to have its own Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which would now be replaced by the central CrPC.
  • Unlike the Ranbir Penal Code, which is practically a replica of the Indian Penal Code, Kashmir’s CrPC has many provisions different from the Central CrPC.
  • It will have to be seen if any modification needs to be done to suit the state. But a final decision in all these aspects would be taken by Delhi.
  • Similarly, there are state-specific insertions that may be done in laws relating to the protection of women and children that have been replaced by the POCSO Act of the Centre.
  • While the quota for economically weaker sections has already been added through an amendment, the Centre may want to make some insertions drawing from central Acts.

Which are the laws that may require state-specific insertions?

  • A major bone of contention with regard to the Juvenile Justice Acts of the Centre and the state is the age limit.
  • While the central Act takes those above the age of 16 as adults, the state Act’s age limit is 18.
  • The argument has been that given the special situation in Kashmir where teenagers are often found to be part of violent protests, the central Act could jeopardize the future of many.
  • As far as the state’s reservation laws are concerned, they do not recognise reservation according to caste.
  • The state has provided for region-wise reservation such as quota for those living near the LoC and the International Border and a quota for backward regions.
  • While the state population includes 8% SCs and 10% STs, there are regional differences such as Ladakh having no SC population but a high tribal population.

How will assets be shared?

  • A far more complicated task than sharing of assets is financial restructuring.
  • Because of the decision coming in August, the administration is saddled with a middle-of-the-year financial restructuring which is proving to be a massive bureaucratic exercise.
  • The government constituted a three-member advisory committee under the chairmanship of former Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra to divide the assets and liabilities of the state between the two UTs. The committee is yet to submit its report.
  • Three more committees — on personnel, finance and administrative matters — were constituted at the state level for the purpose of reorganization.
  • The three committees are learnt to have completed their work but their recommendations have not been made public yet.
  • Notably, while the total budget for Union Territories is Rs 7,500 crore, the budget for Jammu and Kashmir is in excess of Rs 90,000 crore.
  • This could also necessitate continuance of the Kashmir division in the Home Ministry.
Tribes in News

Explained: Rising tensions between Nagas and KukisExplainedStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kuki Tribals

Mains level : Anglo-Kuki War


  • Few groups of the Kuki militants have sought the intervention of PM Modi to subdue the rising tension between the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur.

What is the cause of recent tensions?

  • Tensions between the Kukis and Nagas are not new, and in light of them building up again, the Manipur government ordered that the stone memorials be taken down.
  • The centenary the Anglo-Kuki War was celebrated by a Committee under the aegis of Kuki Inpi Churachandpur (KIC).
  • The KIC which is the apex body of Kuki people in various northeastern states, asked all Kuki villages to install memorial stones with the inscription,
  • But Naga bodies objected to the Kukis installing these stone memorials on the Naga’s ancestral land.

The Anglo-Kuki War

  • Before the British came in, the Kukis had been one of the dominant tribes of hill areas surrounding Imphal during the rule of the Maharajas of Manipur.
  • The Kukis exercised full control over their territory until then.
  • Therefore, the Anglo-Kuki War was essentially a war for the independence and liberation of the Kukis from the imperialists.
  • The war had unified the efforts of Kukis living in northeast India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • Even so, the state of Manipur had already lost its independence to the Britishers in 1891 and became free only after India became independent in 1947.
  • The Anglo-Kuki War began when the Britishers asked the Kukis to get enrolled in their labour corps in France and the latter resisted.

Naga claims it as rebellion

  • The Nagas claimed that the Kukis have been trying to distort history as there has been no “Anglo-Kuki War” but a “Kuki Rebellion” in 1917.
  • The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of the Nagas of Manipur, asserted that the Kuki rebellion against the British was for labour recruitment drive under the Labour Corps Plan.
  • Following this, the Nagas conveyed to the state government to take appropriate steps such that the history of Manipur is not distorted.

What has been the reason for Kuki-Naga clashes in the past?

I. Reorganization of Manipur

  • After the conclusion of the Anglo-Kuki War in 1919, for administrative and logistical ease, the state of Manipur was divided into four areas.
  • It included Imphal, Churachandpur, Tamenglong (that was inhabited by the Kukis, Kabui Nagas and Katcha Nagas) and Ukhrul (that was inhabited by Kukis and the Tangkhul Nagas).
  • The reorganization of Manipur is cited to be the most central result of the war.
  • The Kuki chiefs who were not used to any bureaucratic control in the earlier now had to function bureaucratically.

II. Identity

  • Furthermore, it is believed that Kukis came to Manipur in the late 18th/early 19th century from neighbouring Myanmar.
  • While some of the Kukis settled next to the Myanmar border, others settled in Naga villages, which ultimately became a contentious issue between the two tribes.
  • The relationship between the two worsened during the colonial period and reached a low point during the Anglo-Kuki war, referred to as a “dark period” in the oral history of the Tangkhul Nagas.
  • Essentially, identity and land govern their ethnic conflict.
History- Important places, persons in news

Dutch royal couple in KeralaStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dutch connection of Kerala

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima has arrived in Kochi.

On a state visit

  • King Willem-Alexander, who ascended to the throne in 2013 after the abdication of his mother, and Queen Maxima are in India on their first-ever state visit to the country on the invitation of President Kovind.
  • As part of their five-day tour in India, the royals are flying down to Kerala, a state that has a long cultural relationship with the Dutch on account of European colonization.

The Dutch connection to Kerala

  • After gaining independence from Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch initiated attempts to establish colonies across the world and one of their main targets was southern India due to the presence of spices.
  • Seeking to get their share of the pie, ships carrying Dutch merchants and generals arrived on the shores of Malabar in the early 17th century.
  • They were bolstered by the Portuguese, who had by then set up extensive trade relationship with the local kings in Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.
  • Dutch generals were greeted warmly in Malabar by the king and the local people as the latter had begun to be frustrated with the Portuguese.

Quest with Portuguese

  • The first trade treaty between Dutch Admiral Van der Haghen and the Zamorin of Kozhikode was signed in 1604.
  • Over the next century and a half, the Dutch fought several wars with the Portuguese in a bid to annex territories such as Cochin (now Kochi) and Quilon (now Kollam) and establish their own fortresses and trading ports.
  • The most striking effects of the Dutch rule in Kerala can be seen in Kochi, which had emerged as an important hub for spice trade.
  • Dismantling the Portuguese-built structures, the Dutch established their own symbols, paving streets named after flowers and redesigning the town.

Popular culture

  • A marvellous palace in Mattancherry, gifted by the Portuguese to the Cochin Kings in 16th century but renovated by the Dutch, is now popularly known as the Dutch Palace.
  • It is built with ‘nalukettu’ in Kerala style of architecture and has a temple dedicated to a Goddess in the middle.
  • It underwent extensive renovation ten years ago and houses extensive murals and portraits of the Cochin Kings.
  • The Palace on Bolghatty island was built by the Dutch as a residence for its commander in 1744 and is considered to be one of the oldest existing palaces built by the Dutch outside the Netherlands.
  • Today, it is a heritage holiday resort run by the state tourism department. The Dutch cemetery in Fort Kochi, consecrated in 1724, is also a marker of the Dutch occupation of Kochi.
Direct Benefits Transfers

Public Finance Management System (PFMS)States in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PFMS

Mains level : DBT to farmers


  • The Punjab govt has directed all government procurement agencies to link the bank accounts of farmers with the Public Finance Management System (PFMS) portal before the procurement of paddy begins.
  • This has angered the arhatiyas (commission agents), a large number of whom want the government to roll back its decision.

Public Finance Management System (PFMS)

  • PFMS is an online platform developed and implemented by the office of the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) under the Union Ministry of Finance.
  • The PFMS portal is used to make direct payments to beneficiaries of government schemes.
  • In the present case, the idea is to monitor the accounts of farmers to ensure they get the payment for their crops from the arhatiyas, who pay farmers only after selling their produce and receiving the money from the buyers.

Background

  • PFMS initially started as a Plan scheme named CPSMS of the Planning Commission in 2008-09 as a pilot in four States of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Mizoram.
  • It was for four Flagship schemes e.g. MGNREGS, NRHM, SSA and PMGSY.
  • In December, 2013 the Union Cabinet approved the national roll out of PFMS for all States
Panchayati Raj Institutions: Issues and Challenges

Village Secretariat Programme in APStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Village Secretariat Programme

Mains level : Strengthening Panchayat Raj enforcement



  • The Andhra Pradesh government launched its Village Secretariat programme, under which 1.26 lakh new government employees will begin working.

Village Secretariat Programme

  • Under the new system, the AP government, one Village Secretariat has been set up for every population of 2,000, with each one comprising close to a dozen village officials from various departments like police, revenue, etc.
  • The idea behind it is to ensure that its services reach people on the ground, and also to strengthen the existing Panchayat Raj system.
  • The cost of hiring about 1.26 lakh new employees is going to be roughly about ₹2,200 crore a year for the AP government.
  • Aside from this, the state has also hired another two lakh Village Volunteers, with each of them being paid ₹5,000 per month.
  • Their job will to assist people in availing government services (each volunteer to look after 50 households).
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Scientists find ‘ancient river’ in UPStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the river

Mains level : Paleochannels and their significance in groundwater recharge


  • The Union Water Ministry has excavated an old, dried-up river in Allahabad that linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

About the river

  • The “ancient buried river” is around 4 km wide, 45 km long and consisted of a 15-metre-thick layer buried under soil.
  • The newly discovered river was a “buried paleochannel that joins the Yamuna river at Durgapur village, about 26 km south of the current Ganga-Yamuna confluence at Allahabad.
  • The paleochannels reveal the course of rivers that have ceased to exist.

Significance of this river

  • Knowledge on subsurface connectivity between Ganga and Yamuna rivers will play a very crucial role in planning of Ganga cleaning and protecting safe groundwater resources.
  • The aim is to develop it as a potential groundwater recharge source.
  • The evidence from paleochannels also suggests that the mythological Saraswati river did indeed exist.
Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

High rate of farmer suicides in Punjab’s MalwaStates in News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malwa region (in MP and Punjab)

Mains level : Farmers suicides prone regions


Context

  • Over the past few years, ‘farm debt’ has been one of the main reasons behind farmers and farm labourers committing suicide in Punjab.
  • Data has indicated that 97% of farmer suicides are taking place in the Malwa region only.

More suicides in Malwa region

  • According to report farmer suicides due to debt drastically increased in the late 1990s.
  • The maximum such suicides are taking place in the Malwa region (97.45 per cent), which falls south of the Sutlej, and has 14 of the state’s 22 districts.
  • Malwa has a majority of ‘small and marginal’ farmers’, who have 1-5 acres land.

Reasons for suicide

  • Of around 97 per cent suicides that has taken place in the Malwa region — 94 per cent were due to ‘farm debt’.
  • Majority of them are small and marginal farmers having 1-5 acres of land.

Total number of such suicides

  • The Punjab government’s data states that 3,330 farmers have taken their lives due to farm debt since 2000 till date, of which 698 committed suicide in the past four years, most of them in the Malwa region.
  • It also states that 97 farm labourers committed suicide since 2016, before which no records were maintained of the same.

Why Malwa region?

  • Exorbitant lease land rentals is one of the factors behind the high rate of farmer suicide in Malwa.
  • Farmers cannot get alternative employment opportunities in Malwa, hence small and marginal farmers fall in the trap of debt.
  • If the crop turns out bad, it only adds to their mounting debt.
  • In the Malwa region, a large number of farmers have to spend a chunk of their earnings on health issues including cancer, which is quite common here.
  • There is even a train that carries mostly cancer patients from here to a hospital in Rajasthan.
  • Several reasons have been attributed to high number of cancer patients here, including highly contaminated groundwater.

Why are lease land rentals high?

  • In Malwa, the number of ‘landless’ and ‘marginal farmers’ is very high against the availability of farmland.
  • Cultivation of land is the only way available to them to earn their living.
  • For taking land on rent, they are dependent on big land lords and ‘sahukaars’ who have also become owners of agricultural lands of most small and marginal farmers, who could not pay their debts.
  • Poor farmers think that even if their entire earnings go in paying rent, they will at least get grain for a whole year for their families.
  • On the other hand, in Doaba, which is the NRI belt, and Majha, a large number of farming households either have one member abroad or in government jobs or armed forces from where they get an assured regular income.
  • Even small farmers are running subsidiary occupations like dairy. Also, they prefer to plant three crops in a year including wheat, paddy and vegetables.
  • In the Doaba, large farm lands of NRIs are available to fellow farmers for cultivation due to which lease rentals are 20-30 per cent down here.

Solutions

The report suggests following measures to relieve farmers in the region:

  • streamlining of ‘land lease rentals’,
  • waiving farm loans at least once,
  • providing compensation to the tune of Rs 10 lakh to each family that loses a farmer or farm labourer to suicide,
  • continuation of free power, crop diversification, insurance for crops and health of farmers and labourers, development of dairy sector etc.
  • profitable employment for one family member of farmers and labourers, rold-age pension to farmers and labourers,
  • streamlining of banking sector and curtailing unscrupulous activities of micro-finance agencies and moneylenders etc.