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1. What are the provisions of Draft Data Centre Policy 2020? Discuss the importance of such policy in light of the growing digital economy?
India is witnessing a transition from an emerging to a developed market economy and the digital sector is slated to play a key role in this journey. The digital sector is not only catalysing economic growth across all sectors but also forms the bedrock for providing better services to citizens, enabling social and financial inclusion, enhancing productivity and helping create a connected ecosystem.
In this light, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has released the Draft Data Centre Policy 2020 to make India a Global Data Centre hub, promote investment in the sector and propel digital economy growth.
Provisions of Draft Data Centre Policy 2020
1. Enable Ease of Doing Business
• The central government should accord ‘infrastructure statuses to data centre parks. This will help in facilitating long-term credit from domestic and international lenders at easier terms.
• There should be a single-window, time-bound clearance system to set up a data-centre park.
• Formulation of Data Centre Incentivization Scheme (DCIS) for promotion of Data Centre Parks / Data Centre.
2. Favourable Ecosystem for the Operations of Data Centres
• Facilitate the availability of uninterrupted, clean and cost-effective electricity for Data Centres.
• MeitY to work with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to facilitate robust and cost-effective connectivity backhaul.
• Data Centres to be declared as an Essential Service under “The Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968 (ESMA)”
3. Setting-up of Data Centre Economic Zones
• Demarcation of specific zones with necessary infrastructure such as roads, running water and electricity to set up data centre parks.
• The Government of India also proposes to set-up at least 4 Data Centre Economic Zones (DCEZ) in the country, as a Central Sector Scheme – DCEZ Scheme.
4. Promote Indigenous Technology Development, Research and Capacity Building
• Promote and encourage the use of indigenous hardware (IT as well as non-IT equipment) & software products used in Data Centres, thereby reducing overall import burden of the country.
• Collaborate with the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and leading academic institutes to impart large scale training to the workforce on Data Centre, Digital and Cloud technologies, and facilitate sector linkages for such trained workforce.
5. Institutional Mechanism for Policy Governance
• An Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee (IMEC) to be set up under the Chairmanship of Secretary, MeitY to facilitate the implementation of various measures as defined under this policy framework, enabling ease of doing business in the sector.
• An independent Data Centre Industry Council (DCIC) is also proposed to be set up, which would act as an interface between the sector and the Government.
Need For Such Policy
● With over a billion mobile phones and more than 700 million internet subscribers, India has also witnessed an exponential growth in digital-commerce, digital entertainment and use of social media.
This policy intends to accelerate the projected Data Centre growth and investments in the sector.
● This need for data centre parks is further stimulated by the adoption of emerging technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, internet of things etc
● The size of the digital population in India and the growth trajectory of the digital economy necessitates a strong growth of Data Centres, which has the potential to fulfil the growing demands of the country.
● Need for Data Centre infrastructure within the boundaries of the country is further necessitated by the data localization provisions of the proposed Data Protection Act and for protection of the digital sovereignty of the country in an increasingly connected world.
● This need for Data Centre infrastructure in the country opens up a potential opportunity for investments of the order of USD 4.9 billion by 2025.
The size of the digital economy in India is estimated to grow from $ 200 billion in 2017-18 to a staggering $ 1 trillion by 2025. To achieve this, it is important to remove impediments to its growth such as lack of infrastructure or Industry status of the Data Centres, complex clearance processes and time-consuming approvals, high cost of power, etc.
This policy framework will go a long way in accelerating the growth of a secure digital economy and give an impetus to the government’s Digital India initiative.
Data Centre: It is a dedicated secure space within a building/ centralized location where computing and networking equipment is concentrated for the purpose of collecting, storing, processing, distributing or allowing access to large amounts of data.
Data Centre Economic Zone (DCEZ): It would be concentrated and specialized Data Zones, with the most conducive non-IT and IT infrastructure, connectivity, power and regulatory environment.
Data Centre Incentivization Scheme: It is a projected scheme outlay that will be published by MeitY to provide the scheme details to provide the fiscal and non-fiscal benefits to the Data Centre sector and Cloud Service providers.
2. Recently Maharashtra government announced the setting up of a desalination plant in Mumbai, becoming the fourth state in the country to experiment with the idea. In this light discuss what are desalination Plants and the challenges associated with their implementation?
Worldwide, desalination is seen as one possible answer to stave off water crisis. A desalination plant turns salt water into water that is fit to drink. The most commonly used technology used for the process is Reverse Osmosis (RO) where an external pressure is applied to push solvents from an area of high-solute concentration to an area of low-solute concentration through a membrane. The microscopic pores in the membranes allow water molecules through but leave salt and most other impurities behind, releasing clean water from the other side. These plants are mostly set up in areas that have access to sea water.
Desalination in India
• Desalination has largely been limited to affluent countries in the Middle East and has recently started making inroads in parts of the United States and Australia.
• In India, Tamil Nadu has been the pioneer in using this technology, setting up two desalination plants near Chennai in 2010 and then 2013. The two plants supply 100 million liters a day (MLD) each to Chennai. Two more plants are expected to be set up in Chennai.
• The other states that have proposed these plants are Gujarat, which has announced to set up a 100 MLD RO plant at the Jodiya coast in Jamnagar district. There are also proposals to set up desalination plants in Dwarka, Kutch, Dahej, Somnath, Bhavnagar and Pipavav, which are all coastal areas in Gujarat. Andhra Pradesh, too, has plans of setting up a plant.
Challenges in the Implementation
A Costly Affair: Desalination is an expensive way of generating drinking water as it requires a high amount of energy. On an average, it costs about ₹900 crore to build a 100 MLD-plant. To remove the salt required, there has to be a source of electricity, either a power plant or a diesel or battery source. It is estimated that it cost ₹3 to produce 100 liters of potable water.
Deposition of brine: Because RO plants convert seawater to fresh water, the major environmental challenge they pose is the deposition of brine (highly concentrated salt water) along the shores. Ever since the Chennai plants have started to function, fishermen have complained that the brine being deposited along the seashore is triggering changes along the coastline and reducing the availability of prawn, sardine and mackerel.
• Hyper salinity along the shore: Environmentalists are saying that hyper salinity along the shore affects plankton, which is the main food for several of these fish species.
• Loss of marine resource: Moreover, the high pressure motors needed to draw in the seawater end up sucking in small fish and life forms, thereby crushing and killing them — again a loss of marine resource.
• Usage of Groundwater: Construction of the RO plants required troves of groundwater. This was freshwater that was sucked out and has since been replaced by salt water, rendering it unfit for the residents around the desalination plants.
• Lack of vital minerals: There were concerns that desalinated water was short of vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium and carbonates, collectively referred to as TDS.
Higher quantities of these salts in desalination plants tend to corrode the membranes and filtration system in these plants. So ideally, a treatment plant would try to keep the TDS as low as possible. Highly desalinated water has a TDS of less than 50 milligrams per litre, is pure, but does not taste like water. Anything from 100 mg/l to 600 mg/l is considered as good quality potable water.
• Low-temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) technique: It uses the thermal energy sourced from the ocean. LTTD technique works on the principle that water in the ocean 1,000 or 2,000 feet below is about 4º C to 8º C colder than surface water. So, salty surface water is collected in a tank and subject to high pressure (via an external power source). This pressured water vapourises and this is trapped in tubes or a chamber. Cold water plumbed from the ocean depths is passed over these tubes and the vapour condenses into fresh water and the resulting salt diverted away.
• Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: While the LTTD technique draws power from diesel sets, this will draw power from the vapour generated as a part of the desalination process. This vapour will run a turbine and thereby will be independent of an external power source. While great in theory, there is no guarantee it will work commercially.
For one, this ocean-based plant requires a pipe that needs to travel 50 kilometers underground in the sea before it reaches the mainland. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has in the past had significant problems in managing such a pipe.
• The desalination needs identified include reducing costs, ensuring the quality of reclaimed saline water, and enabling the disposal of concentrate. Reduction in the cost of the desalination process is especially critical for small towns.
• Efforts must also be made to control the amount of organic or biological materials that remain in reclaimed water. Disposal of concentrate is of particular concern to inland cities. A possible solution is to develop beneficial uses for the concentrate.
3. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has recently released a report ‘averting a Lost COVID Generation’. Highlight the findings of the report.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently released a report titled ‘averting a Lost COVID Generation’. It is the first UNICEF report to comprehensively highlight the growing consequences of the pandemic for children.
Findings of the Report
• Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a belief that the pandemic does not have a significant effect on the children. However, data shows that this is not true.
• The report shows that while symptoms among infected children are mild, infections in children are rising.
• As of November, 2020, in 87 countries, children and adolescents under 20 years of age accounted for 11 per cent of the 25.7 million infections reported by these countries.
• Globally, 90% of children were impacted due to school closures because of Covid-19, including 743 million girls. More than 111 million of them are in the least developed countries.
• As of October 2020, 265 million children were still missing out on school meals globally.
• The report states that schools are not the main reason of community transmission, and children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.
• Moreover, there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open are higher than the costs of closing them.
Impact on Health and Social Services
• As per data from UNICEF surveys across 140 countries, Covid-19 related disruptions to critical health and social services for children are the most serious threats to children.
• Globally, the number of children living in multidimensional poverty – without access to education, health, housing, nutrition, sanitation or water – is estimated to have increased by 15 per cent, or an additional 150 million children by mid-2020.
• Around one-third of the countries analyzed, witnessed a drop of at least 10 per cent in coverage for health services such as routine vaccinations, outpatient care for childhood infectious diseases, and maternal health services.
• There is a 40 per cent decline in the coverage of nutrition services for women and children across 135 countries. Further, more than 250 million children under 5 could miss the life-protecting benefits of vitamin A supplementation programmes.
• An estimated 2 million additional child deaths and 200,000 additional stillbirths could occur over a 12- month period due to interruptions to services and rising malnutrition.
Findings from India
• Nearly 12% of Covid-19 infections in India are among children and adolescents under 20 years.
• In India, 1.5 million school closures have impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary education, and 28 million children who were attending pre-school education in Anganwadi centres. This is in addition to more than 6 million girls and boys who were already out of school prior to the covid-19 crisis.
• In 2019, 18 million people in 53 UNICEF-supported districts in India accessed toilets for the first time.
• UNICEF and partners are now supporting the Ministry of Education to enable access to safe sanitation, water supply and hygiene spaces for children in 150,000 vulnerable schools across the country.
• However, the socio-economic stress and migration due to the Covid-19 has put this access and practice of using toilets at risk.
• To respond to this crisis, government and development partners across the world should make efforts to ensure that learning of all children continues and that there is a reduction in the digital divide.
• Access to nutrition and health services should be guaranteed, along with protecting the mental health of children and young people.
• All efforts should be made to reverse the rise in child poverty and to ensure an inclusive recovery for all.
Failure to take corrective measures will have a long-term impact on the education, nutrition and wellbeing of an entire generation of children and young people, and will put the future of an entire generation at risk.
4. The Supreme Court recently laid down guidelines to follow in maintenance/alimony related cases. Delineate existing provisions for maintenance cases along with the guidelines specified by the Court.
• The Supreme Court recently laid down uniform guidelines for family courts, magistrates and lower courts to follow while hearing the applications filed by women seeking maintenance/alimony from their husbands.
• The judgment was given in a matrimonial case on the question of payment of maintenance by a man to his wife and son under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
• Alimony or maintenance is the financial support (ordered by a court) that a person has to give to their spouse during separation or after divorce.
• There is no provision in the Hindu Marriage Act with respect to the date from which an order of maintenance may be made effective. Similarly, Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, does not provide the date from which the maintenance is to be awarded.
• Section 125(2) of CrPC is the only statutory provision which provides that the Magistrate may award maintenance either from the date of the order, or from the date of application.
• In the absence of a uniform law, there is a vast difference in the practice adopted by the Family Courts in the country, with respect to the date from which maintenance must be awarded.
• Usually maintenance cases have to be settled in 60 days, but in reality, it takes years to settle such cases, due to legal loopholes.
• The Supreme Court held that wives and children are entitled to alimony/maintenance from the husband from the date they apply for the maintenance in the court.
• In order to prevent the dependent spouse from undergoing financial hardships, it is necessary that maintenance is awarded from the date on which the application is filed.
• Both the applicant wife and the respondent husband have to disclose their assets and liabilities in a maintenance case. Any earlier case filed or pending under any other law should also be revealed in court.
• In contemporary society marriages do not last for a reasonable length of time, due to which it would not be fair to order a husband to pay his wife permanent alimony for the rest of her life.
Factors for Deciding the Amount of Maintenance
• The court ruled that in a marriage of long duration, the duration of the marriage would be a relevant factor in deciding the amount of maintenance.
• On termination of relationship, if the wife is educated and professionally qualified, but had to give up her employment opportunities to look after the needs of family, this factor would also be considered.
• The Court noted, that if the wife is earning, it cannot be a reason for not giving maintenance. The Court has to determine whether the income of the wife is sufficient to maintain her.
• Serious disability or ill health of a spouse, children from the marriage/dependent relative who require constant care and expenditure, would also be a factor while deciding the maintenance amount.
• Strict proof of marriage will not be a pre-condition for grant of maintenance.
• The expenses of the children, including their education, basic needs and other vocational activities, should be considered by courts while calculating the alimony.
• Education expenses of the children must be normally paid by the father. If the wife is working and earning sufficiently, the expenses may be shared proportionately between the husband and the wife.
Enforcement of Orders:
• An order of maintenance may be enforced/ executed under Section 28A of the Hindu Marriage Act, Section 20(6) of the Domestic Violence Act or Section 128 of CrPC.
• Further, an order or decree for maintenance may be enforced as a money decree under the Code of Civil Procedure.
• Non-payment of maintenance could lead to arrest and detention of the husband and may even lead to confiscation of his assets and their auction to give maintenance to the wife.
The guidelines will go a long way in alleviating the problems faced by women in the country who have to suffer for years during which they do not get the maintenance they deserve for their own and children’s up keep along with acting as a deterrent that may prevent scenarios where they are abandoned at the drop at the drop of a hat.
5. The Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) was recently put under moratorium by the government. Delineate the reasons for imposing a moratorium on LVB and the measures announced by RBI for LVB, along with the impact of recent failures in the banking system.
The government recently announced that the Lakshmi Vilas Bank has been put under moratorium (temporary suspension of activity).
Reasons for Putting LVB under Moratorium
• The financial position of The Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd. has been deteriorating, as the bank has been incurring continuous losses over the last three years.
• The bank’s gross non-performing assets (NPAs) are at 25.4% of its advances (loans) as of June 2020, compared to 17.3% a year ago. Further, the bank is also experiencing continuous withdrawal of deposits and low levels of liquidity.
• It has also experienced serious governance issues and practices in the recent years which have led to deterioration in its performance.
• The bank was placed under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework in September 2019. Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) is a framework under which financially weak and mismanaged banks are monitored by the RBI.
• Moreover, the bank has not been able to raise adequate capital to address these issues. Due to these developments, the RBI applied to the Central Government for imposing a moratorium under section 45 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
Measures Announced By RBI for LVB
• Under the moratorium the RBI has restricted withdrawals by depositors at Rs 25,000 from savings and current accounts, and expenditure on any item at Rs 50,000 per month.
• The RBI has also superseded the Board of Directors of LVB, for a period of 30 days, in order to protect the depositors’ interest.
• The central bank also appointed TN Manoharan, former non-executive chairman of Canara Bank, as administrator of LVB.
Merger of LVB with DBIL
• RBI has announced a scheme to merge LVB with DBS Bank India Ltd (DBIL), an Indian subsidiary of Singapore’s DBS Bank. DBIL will bring in additional capital of Rs 2,500 crore, to support credit growth of the merged entity.
• Due to comfortable level of capital, the combined balance sheet of DBIL would remain healthy after the proposed merger.
• With the approval of the Central Government, the Reserve Bank will try to implement the scheme before the expiry of the moratorium, so the depositors do not have to face hardships for a long time.
Recent Failures in the Financial System
• The collapse of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) in 2018 led to liquidity issues and loan defaults in the overall financial system.
• Punjab & Maharashtra Co-op Bank was hit by a loan scam involving Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) and the bank is yet to be bailed out.
• After a while, the collapse of Yes Bank in March 2020 had a significant impact on the financial system. Impact on Depositors
• These failures have raised concerns and have an impact on the confidence of depositors. However, the RBI has assured depositors of LVB that their interests will be protected.
• Further, there is a safety net for small depositors, the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), an RBI subsidiary, which gives insurance cover on deposits up to Rs 5 lakh in banks.
Impact on Investors
• Shareholders in Yes Bank lost significant wealth as the stock price crashed significantly. Shares of LVB have also dropped significantly after the announcement of the moratorium.
• In the case of LVB, equity capital is being fully written off. This means existing shareholders face a total loss on their investments unless there are buyers in the secondary market.
• In the case of Yes Bank, too, some individual investors faced a total loss on their investments in Additional Tier-1 bonds.
• The various steps taken by the RBI in the recent past show that the regulator is keen to proactively step in to deal with risks to wider financial sector stability.
• However, irrespective of the health of steps taken by the RBI the health of the overall finance sector remains a significant concern, as the wide-ranging damage due to the COVID-19 pandemic has put a significant stress on the financial system.
Hence, the RBI has its task cut out in ensuring it keeps the crucial engine of credit ticking over as the economy strives to revive, along with maintaining a heightened vigil over scheduled commercial banks as well non-banking financial companies, due to the threat of a systemic downfall from a failure.
6. The internal working group (IWG) of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its report recommended that large Corporates and industrial houses may be allowed as promoters of banks. Highlight the reasons for the recommendation along with the issues associated with it.
• The internal working group (IWG) of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its report recently gave a recommendation that large Corporates and industrial houses may be allowed as promoters of banks.
• This should be done after necessary amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and strengthening of the supervisory mechanism for large conglomerates.
• The IWG was constituted by the RBI in June, 2020 to review ownership guidelines and corporate structure for Indian private sector banks.
Reasons for the Recommendation
• Even after three decades of rapid growth, the total balance sheet of banks in India still constitutes less than 70 per cent of the GDP. This is significantly lower compared to China, where this ratio is close to 175%.
• Domestic bank credit to the private sector is just 50% of GDP when in economies such as China, Japan, the US and Korea it is more than 150 per cent. In other words, India’s banking system has not been able to meet the credit demands of a growing economy.
• There is only one Indian bank in the top 100 banks globally by size. Further, Indian banks are also one of the least cost-efficient.
• Moreover, public sector banks are losing market share to private banks and are struggling with high non-performing assets. On the other hand, private banks are more efficient and profitable.
• The Indian economy, especially the private sector, needs money to grow. Government finances were already under stress before the Covid-19 crisis.
• A significant drop in economic growth and reduction in government revenues has reduced the ability of the government to push for growth through the public sector banks. However, large corporates have huge financial resources to fund India’s future growth.
• Thus, to address the above mentioned issues and to increase the capacity of the banking sector to fund India’s growth, the IWG suggested changes to boost private sector banking.
A. Increased Risks
• In the past, RBI has been against the idea of allowing large corporate to establish banks, as an increase in the number of private banks is risky. This was evident during the global financial crisis of 2008.
• A predominantly government-owned banking system tends to be more financially stable because of the trust in government as an institution.
• Moreover, even in private bank ownership, past regulators have preferred that one single owner does not have high ownership stake in the bank, to reduce the risks.
B. Issue of Connected Lending
• Allowing large corporate to establish banks can lead to conflict of interest and connected lending.
• Connected lending refers to a situation where the promoter of a bank is also a borrower, as it is possible for a promoter of the bank to divert the depositors’ money into their other companies.
• There are various ways of violating the regulations on connected lending and due to complex structures of entities it is difficult to prevent connected lending.
• Connected lending has been happening for a long time and the RBI has found it difficult to stop it.
The recent episodes in ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, DHFL etc. were all examples of connected lending.
• The ever-greening of loans (where one loan after another is extended to enable the borrower to pay back the previous one) is often the starting point of such lending.
C. Other Issues
• Assessing ‘fit and proper’ status of the promoters and its large number of group entities is very difficult. India has already seen a number of bank promoters who passed a fit and proper test at the time of licensing but deteriorated later. Bailout costs of such banks will add to the financial burden of the government.
• Even if banking licenses are allotted fairly, it will give undue advantage to large business houses that already have the initial capital that is required initially to form a bank.
Thus, corporate entry into banking will further increase the concentration of economic and political power in certain business houses and will increase the importance of money power even more in the politics, and make it more likely to succumb to authoritarian cronyism.
Other Recommendations by IWG
• Well-run large non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), with an asset size of Rs 50,000 crore and above, including those which are owned by a corporate house, may be considered for conversion into banks.
• The committee further said that such NBFCs, with at least a 10-year track record, may be allowed to convert into banks.
• For payments banks wanting to convert to a small finance bank (SFB), the IWG recommended reduction in the track record of experience as payments bank to three years from five years now.
• The committee has also proposed a review of the “fit and proper” norms, which is the deciding factor in the regulator allowing or rejecting an application for a bank.
Shareholding and Minimum Initial Capital Requirements
• The RBI committee has also recommended that after 15 years, promoters should be allowed to hold up to 26% stake in the bank, instead of the current limit of 15%.
• The panel also suggested that the current rule where the promoters of a bank have to hold a minimum of 40% in the bank for the first five years should continue. The promoters could choose to reduce their holding after the five-year period.
• On non-promoter shareholding, the panel has suggested a uniform limit of 15 per cent for all types of shareholders.
• The minimum initial capital requirement for licensing new banks should be enhanced from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore for universal banks and from Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore for small finance banks.
7. Do you agree with the statement that G-20 has become less relevant over the period of time?
Justify your position.
• Established in 1999, G20 was elevated to a premier global forum for international economic cooperation in 2008 to effectively respond to the global financial crisis of 2008.
• However, in recent years, the G20 has struggled to maintain its influence as some members shift from multilateralism to more nationalistic policies. This has led to a perception that G20 has outlived its usefulness.
G20 Has Outlived Its Usefulness
• It failed to revive the sluggish global growth and falling trade between global economies. It failed to find a solution to tariff war between US and China.
• In recent times, it has been observed that the rivalry between the United States and China hijacks the agenda of this multilateral gathering.
• The summit often talks of wanting to open up new horizons for development without giving any indication on how this would be done. Buenos Aires declaration of 2018 or Osaka declaration of 2019 support this fact.
• So far, it has failed to check the rising tendency of protectionism and xenophobia which are evident from BREXIT, termination of GSP by USA and from statements of US President Trump.
• Reducing the reliance on credit rating agencies by finding alternate methods was one of the prime objectives of G20. It has not been able to devise the alternate mechanism.
• Reform in IMF, WTO is the need of the hour. However, it has failed to such financial reforms.
• For the participating leaders, the lack of an overarching focus has meant the G20 was used mainly to burnish bilateral ties. This was seen at the recently concluded Osaka Summit.
G20 Is Still Relevant
• Significant Weight – G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.
• Promotes Multilateralism – the G20 is better positioned than older groups to navigate the divide between developed and emerging economies, and the practice of rotating the chair gives them all a chance to shape the global agenda.
• A number of overarching themes –Summits usually have a number of overarching themes. In Buenos Aires last year, these were “the future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future”.
• It has gradually broadened its global economy focus to areas like counterterrorism, Climate change, North Korea and Iran.
• The G20 was also credited with helping avert a shift to protectionism post-global financial crisis in 2008, tripling the International Monetary Fund’s budget and giving development banks more remit.
• United Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic – In March 2020, G-20 virtual summit was called to discuss the global challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak. The leaders pledged to inject $5 trillion into the global economy to reduce the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
• They also agreed to contribute to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund on voluntary basis. This contribution would be in addition to the pledged amount of $5 trillion.
• There is need to persuade leaders that the task begun in November 2008 is not over. A slowdown is around the corner, a recession in some countries is a few quarters away.
• The tensions and so-called new cold war make organisations like the G20 even more important as a venue for direct contact among leaders.
• Above all, the current pandemic has created a worldwide economic slowdown which makes G-20 even more relevant.
G20 Summit 2020
• 15th G20 Leaders Summit was held virtually on November 21, 2020. The two-day summit was convened by Saudi Arabia, current chair of G20.
• Theme – “Realizing Opportunities of 21st Century for All”
• Indian PM Modi also participated in the summit.
• The main objective of the G20 Summit was to focus on enabling an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID 19 pandemic and its impact.
• Italy would take over the G20 presidency in 2021. It was decided that the G20 Presidency will be held by Indonesia in 2022, India in 2023 and Brazil in 2024.
• Indian PM called for a new Global Index for the Post-Corona World that comprises four key elements –
- Creation of a vast Talent Pool;
- Ensuring that Technology reaches all segments of the society;
- Transparency in systems of governance; and
- Dealing with Mother Earth with a spirit of Trusteeship.
• India also highlighted the fact that the time has come to focus on Multi-Skilling and Re-skilling to create a vast Human Talent Pool. This would not only enhance dignity of citizens but would make our citizens more resilient to face crises.
• It also asserted that any assessment of new technology should be based on its impact on Ease of Living and Quality of Life.
• Noting that ‘Work from anywhere’ is a new normal in the post-COVID world, India suggested creation of a G20 Virtual Secretariat as a follow up and documentation repository.
8. India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable. In this context, highlight the significant role of India in UN Peacekeeping Operations. Do you think reform in the UN Peacekeeping Operations is the need of the hour?
India has been actively participating in peacekeeping right from 1950 when it supplied medical personnel and troops to the UN Repatriation Commission in Korea. As one of the founding members of the UN, India’s contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security has been second to none.
Contribution of India in UN Peacekeeping
• India has participated in 51 of the 71 missions and contributed over 2 lakh personnel.
• It has troop deployment in Lebanon, Golan Heights, Congo and South Sudan in addition to staff officers in other missions. India has also set up 2 field hospitals in South Sudan and one in Congo.
• As of January 2019, India had suffered the highest number of fatalities (164 out of 6,593 personnel) among countries that have sent forces to the United Nations peacekeeping mission since 1948.
• Nearly 80% of the Indian peacekeepers are deployed in hostile regions such as Central African Republic and South Sudan in various sections.
• India has developed a well-rounded policy for participation in UN peacekeeping operations. Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping was set up in September 2000 under the aegis of the United Service Institution of India in New Delhi, with the support of the MEA.
• This Centre besides overseeing the training of contingents earmarked for peacekeeping operations, has undertaken conduct of training courses. These courses have now been formally endorsed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN HQ.
• In April 2019, a total of 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have received medals of honour for their dedicated service and sacrifice.
Reform in UN Peacekeeping: Need of the Hour
• There is a difference of opinion between the countries of the Global North and South with regards to the scope and mandates of peacekeeping operations.
• For instance, countries of the South often demand more aggressive peacekeeping. They condemn the North for not intervening adequately in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Congo, yet at the same time they accuse them of interventionist policies.
• Northern countries also hesitate to engage their troops with the UN due to its deficiencies and, also refuse to finance the measures needed to improve the UN.
• The countries of the north are asking for more robust peacekeeping mandates, while countries of the south fear that this may threaten their sovereignty.
• The peacekeepers are demanding more resources, whereas Global South fears that this would divert resources better spent on fighting poverty.
• The Security Council is accused of using these operations only in areas, which are geopolitically significant to them, and ignoring the rest.
• Acknowledging India’s contribution, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said that it would be an understatement to say that India’s contribution to global peace has been remarkable.
• India’s spontaneous and unreserved participation in UN peacekeeping operations over the years has been a clear demonstration of the country’s commitment to the objectives set out in the UN Charter.
• This commitment has been widely acknowledged and the image of the Indian forces in the international arena is that of highly competent and well-trained professionals.
9. Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post Cold War international scenario.
India started following the ‘Look East Policy’ in the early 1990s when at the end of the cold war it sensed a change in the locus of world economic power from ‘west’ to the ‘east’. It focused on strengthening ties between India and the ASEAN countries by increasing economic and commercial ties. Over the years, it also focused on strategic and security aspects in the East and South East Asia region. E.g.: South China Sea.
Under the strategic thrust of this policy, India firmed up strategic relations with the countries of ASEAN and East Asia through extensive consultations on regional and global security issues and consistent cooperation in defence sector. India’s strategic vision for the East extends to the whole of Asia-Pacific region as India has manifested both its willingness and capability to play a critical role in the emerging strategic dynamics and architecture for this region.
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and India has helped in deeper economic integration. ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner. Further, RCEP and FTA for Investments and Services will bolster economic engagements between the two. With the economies of India and the ASEAN growing and their energy needs going up, maritime security and enhanced cooperation in combating terrorism and piracy also become concern areas.
India further bolstered its Look East Policy with the announcement of the ‘Act East Policy’ in 2014, through which it seeks to revive and reinvigorate its relationship with ASEAN and expand beyond the region to encompass Koreas, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh as well as countries in the Far East. Now, instead of merely ‘looking’, India is ‘engaging’ and ‘acting’ with East.
10. ‘The long-sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations has disappeared on account of its new found role in the emerging global order.’ Elaborate.
As the founding member of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), India propagated its vision among the newly independent countries of the colonized world to not align with any of the power blocks as these newly independent countries were weak in terms of military, economics and development aspects.
These ideas of Non Alignment, Peaceful Cooperation and Co-existence, End of Imperialism and Colonialism have made India one of the leaders of the marginalized nations.
The leadership and idealistic credentials of India was sustained and can be seen:
- During the cold war era.
- Upholding the interests of the smaller economies in Doha round of WTO.
- Supporting the cause of vulnerable nations during the Climate change negotiations.
Shift in India’s approach towards its strategic foreign policy perspective:
- Economic Development is now a major agenda of India’s growth as a world power, which is now reflected in India’s foreign policy.
- This trend was observed in NAM Summit Havana 2006, where India focused on anti-terrorism, nuclear disarmament, energy security, investing in Africa and such issues which are vital to India’s growth and doesn’t resemble priorities of developing or marginalized countries.
India has actively supported the cause of developing and marginalized nation in Climate Change negotiations by thrusting on “differentiated responsibility” but recently diluted its stand in Paris negotiations.
- India has also been blamed for interfering in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, for instance, Nepal, which led to friction in relations between the two nations.
- In regional forum SAARC, India has hard pressed its agenda of boycotting Pakistan, which resulted in the non-functioning of SAARC, which may result in delaying of development projects of SAARC in our smaller neighbouring nations.
- India’s involvement in QUAD, its focus on Indo Pacific Regional Growth and countering China has become its top priority.
These inferences are pointing towards shift in India’s approach from the leader of the oppressed countries to a great power in its own terms. India’s approach is shifting from Idealism to Realism and is prioritizing its national interests over the collective interests of the developing countries.
11. What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India?
World Trade Organization (WTO) officially commenced in 1995 after replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). WTO intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. But recent trade wars, initiated by USA with China, India and other countries, evoke the need of reform in WTO if it has to survive in the present context. The key areas of reforms are:
Dispute Settlement System: There are suggestions regarding bringing transparency, shortening of time frames, permanent panel body, special and differential treatment for developing countries etc. India can benefit from the reforms if proposals specific to developing countries are accepted
Reducing Trade Costs: Though WTO has come out with Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in this regard, but it mainly addresses the trade of goods. India being a major service provider would benefit if reforms are carried out in trade facilitation of services. It is expected that there are considerable economic benefits from the better movement of people across borders.
Modalities of Negotiations: Some progress has been made, as the ‘single undertaking’ nature of negotiations is all but discarded. There are proposals to make them more flexible.
India is one of the prominent members of WTO and is largely seen as leader of developing and under developed countries. More than 40% Indian economy is exposed to international trade. If we want to achieve a double-digit growth over a sustained period and create jobs, our external trade has to grow at more than 15% a year, which is not possible in an uncertain trading environment. Therefore, India should call upon all WTO members, including the US, to undertake a systemic reform in the above-stated crucial areas of the WTO’s functioning.
12. “Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in India and growing interference in the internal affairs of several member-states by Pakistan are not conducive for the future of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).” Explain with suitable examples.
In the 31 years since the organization’s founding in 1985, SAARC’s efficacy in the region has been limited by tensions and disagreements between India and Pakistan. SAARC has largely been defunct for the last few years because of India-Pakistan friction and could soon become non-functional.
This was highlighted in the aftermath of an attack by militants that crossed the Line of Control into India-administered Kashmir to strike at an Indian Army camp in Uri. Since the attack, the Indian government has strongly condemned Pakistan and looked to isolate Islamabad on the world stage. This was followed by India pulling out of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016. Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh also followed suit.
By pulling out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad, India tried to achieve two ends: sending a tough message in the wake of the Uri attack but also that it is going ahead with its plan for ‘SAARC minus Pakistan’ instead. Some believe that SAARC minus one can better address South Asian challenges because the civil-military dissonance on Pakistan’s policy towards India is making it difficult for Pakistan to relate to other states of the South Asian region. Also, Pakistan has been singularly stalling the process of economic integration through its policy of disallowing connectivity through its territory. Two most recent examples have been the talks on trade liberalisation and cross-border trade in energy during the last years where Islamabad pulled back just when the agreements were ready for signature. Pakistan also walked away from agreements on road connectivity which resulted in a ‘sub-regional cooperation’ called BBIN framework between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. Further, India is looking at the BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) as an alternative to SAARC as was witnessed with the BIMSTEC summit on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit.
All of the above limit the ability of SAARC to prosper as a regional organization. However, without effectively engaging Pakistan, the multiple challenges faced by SAARC countries on the economic and security fronts cannot be met satisfactorily. Much of the security challenges emanate from Pakistan because it uses terrorism as an instrument of its state policy. It stands between South Asia and Central Asia and holds the key to intra as well as inter-regional trade and commerce. Therefore, it is difficult to address the aforesaid challenges without roping in Pakistan into the SAARC framework for regional cooperation.
13. The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyse India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian countries.
Indian economy is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. To sustain the high economic growth of around 8% in the coming decades, energy security is of paramount importance to India. Despite India’s efforts to develop its domestic energy capacity, it is dependent on imports for 80% of its oil needs, of which roughly 55% is sourced from the Persian Gulf region and more than 80% of gas supplies. This highlights the need for energy policy cooperation with the resource rich West Asian countries. Consequently, India has adopted a ‘Look West’ or ‘Link West’ policy in this regard.
Saudi Arabia is India’s second largest source of oil. Iraq is also a major source of Indian energy imports. Further, the energy imports from Iran picked up in the recent past after the easing of sanctions by US. India has also enhanced its bilateral engagement with countries like Oman and UAE and also at institutional level with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).
Though countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Qatar will continue to be its major suppliers of oil and gas, India is trying to walk the diplomatic tight rope in West Asia by partnering with Israel in its Leviathan natural gas filed in the East Mediterranean Sea.
India’s energy relation with West Asian countries are intricately related with the Central Asian countries. Thus India has developed Chabahar port in Iran to access the Central Asian energy market. Besides energy infrastructure projects like TAPI gas pipeline and International North South Corridor will have ripple effects on the India’s energy engagements with the West Asian Nations.
India’s energy policy engagement with the West Asian region is also related to providing maritime security in the region as most of the shipping vessels pass through Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Other major powers like China have increased its footprint in the region. Thus India must also take stock of this geopolitical game in order to secure its own energy security.
14. “What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s National self-esteem and ambitions” Explain with suitable examples.
In 2016, the United States designated India as ‘major defence partner’, a status unique to India. However, recently, the US foreign and economic policies have started to appear against India’s self-esteem and ambitions. There are several issues that introduce friction into what US considers its global strategy and what India envisages as its self-esteem and ambitions.
West Asia: The US’ West Asia policy is aligned in line with that of Israel and Saudi Arabia which stands adversarial to that of Iran. But for India, a strong, united and peaceful Iran holds significance not only for its oil imports but also for the Chabahar port and International North-South Transport Corridor (INTC) that will enable India to have a reach to Central Asia and counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, this stands opposed to the US policy of restricting Iran’s influence in the region. The US has pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement and subsequently imposed sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Iran.
Afghanistan: Political developments in Kabul have always had its implications in New Delhi. Situation in Afghanistan also poses security risks for India given Pakistan’s close proximity to the Taliban. This is more so given India’s huge investments in Afghanistan to bring peace and stability there. But the US policy has moved to focus on its withdrawal of troops. Any peace deal with the Taliban, an insurgent body, will legitimise the terrorist activities and hurt India’s interests.
Russia: India’s strategic relations with Russia have historically been very significant and useful given Russia’s veto power at the Security Council. Russia is also the major defence partner of India. It is also emerging as a major option to meet India’s energy requirements. But, as bequeathed by the Cold War, the US considers Russia as its adversary and it has brought Russia under the CAATSA. This stood opposed to India’s defence deals with Russia involving the S-400 missile systems.
Trade relations: Being a developing country, India wants to bring millions of its masses out of poverty and to have a strong economic footprint globally. The US is a major trade partner in this context and it Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has been a useful mechanism for India. But the US’ policy to bring back jobs home and to restrict China’s growth trajectory has negative fallout on India. The US has accused India of not opening the Indian economy for American trade by means of tariffs, intellectual property regulations, subsidies, etc. and has clamped tariffs on Indian exports to America.
Moreover, the USA’s National Defense Strategy 2018 marked Russia and China as its central challenge and for the US India is an ideal balancer against rising China. In this context, India must convince the US that a strong India is in concurrence with the US’ interest. Besides, India must follow strategic hedging i.e. simultaneous engagements with major powers because in international relations, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.
15. In what ways would the ongoing U.S-Iran Nuclear Pact Controversy affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to this situation?
The unilateral US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the historic nuclear deal between the permanent members of the UN Security Council, E.U. (P5+1) and Iran, which limited Iran’s nuclear programme and lifted the crippling economic sanctions, will have serious ramifications for nations having strategic interests in the West Asia.
India’s relations with Iran extend beyond the geopolitical and geo-economic binary. The cultural relations between India and Iran extend centuries, but the recent US behaviour has led India on crossroads. This controversy would affect India in following ways-
Strategic Autonomy – Strategic Autonomy has been the guiding principle of Indian foreign policy since independence. India maintains that it abides by only UN sanctions and not unilateral sanctions by any one country. In this case, US is coercing India and other countries to sever ties with Iran. This has direct implications on autonomous policy making.
Oil Supply – Iran has been one of the top three oil suppliers to India. Sanctions on Iran, which would be the next logical step by the Trump administration, will disrupt the crude oil supplies. US have presented India with shale imports, but the Gulf region has regional proximity to India. The withdrawal will also raise the crude oil prices; this fluctuation has a direct impact on the Indian economy (inflation, Balance of Payment, Current Account Deficit).
Indian Investments – India’s plans to acquire stakes in Iranian natural gas field build pipelines as well as develop the Chabahar port – a key Indian connectivity initiative – all stand to be seriously affected.
Indian Diaspora – In case this spirals out into direct confrontation between US allies and Iran, then lives Indians living in the Gulf region would be at stake. Their protection and evacuation would be a huge diplomatic and military manoeuvre.
Terrorism – Instability in the region has already resulted in rise of extremist group and more uncertainty will only provide them with more safe havens. This might have a direct effect on India’s national security.
Other partners of the agreement are willing to move forward despite the US withdrawal. India is an important stakeholder in the issue. So, India should work with likeminded countries to defuse the situation and if possible, bring US back to the table if not, then prepare a separate mechanism for dealing with Iran including other stakeholders.
India has always maintained that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy by respecting Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy international community’s strong interest in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Q16. What are the various mechanisms for exercising parliamentary control over the Union executive?
- The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, both at the Centre and in the states. Articles 74 and 75 deal with the parliamentary system at the Centre and Articles 163 and 164 in the states. A parliamentary form of government is one in which the Executive is responsible to the Parliament for its policies and acts. By its very nature, the parliamentary system establishes a responsible government. The ministers are responsible to the Parliament for all their acts of omission and commission.
VARIOUS MECHANISMS OF PARLIAMENTARY CONTROL OVER UNION EXECUTIVE
- The Parliament exercises control over the Executive through question-hour, zero hour, half-an-hour discussion, short duration discussion, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion, censure motion and other discussions.
- The ministers are collectively responsible to the Parliament in general and to the Lok Sabha in particular. The council of ministers can be removed from office by the Lok Sabha by passing a no-confidence motion. The Lok Sabha can also express lack of confidence in the government in the following ways:
- By not passing a motion of thanks on the President’s inaugural address.
- By rejecting a money bill.
- By passing a censure motion or an adjournment motion.
- By defeating the government on a vital issue.
- By passing a cut motion.
- It also supervises the activities of the Executive with the help of its committees like committee on government assurances, committee on subordinate legislation, committee on petitions, etc. Therefore, the parliamentary control over the Executive in financial matters operates in two stages:
- budgetary control, that is, control before the appropriation of grants through the enactment of the budget; and
- post-budgetary control, that is, control after the appropriation of grants through the three financial committees.
- No tax can be levied or collected and no expenditure can be incurred by the Executive except under the authority and with the approval of Parliament.
- It approves all the three types of emergencies (national, state and financial) proclaimed by the President.
- All the ordinances issued by the president (during the recess of the Parliament) must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks after its reassembly. An ordinance becomes inoperative if it is not approved by the parliament within that period.
- The Parliament makes laws in a skeleton form and authorises the Executive to make detailed rules and regulations within the framework of the parent law. This is known as delegated legislation or executive legislation or subordinate legislation. Such rules and regulations are placed before the Parliament for its examination.
Therefore, “the first function of Parliament can be said to be to select the Executive which is to form the government, support and sustain it in power so long as it enjoys its confidence, and to expel it when it ceases to do so, and leave it to the people to decide at the next general election.”
Q17. What is so fundamental about fundamental rights?
- Fundamental rights are claims that are essential for the existence and development of individuals and are recognized by the State, and enshrined in the Constitution. These rights are fundamental because of two reasons. First, they are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the land and the second, these are justiciable, i.e. enforceable through the courts. They are ‘fundamental’ also in the sense that they are most essential for the all- round development (material, intellectual, moral and spiritual) of the individual.
FEATURES OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
- Some fundamental rights are available only to the citizens while others are available to all persons whether citizens, foreigners or legal persons like corporations or companies.
- They are available against the arbitrary action of the State. A few are available against the State’s action as well as against the action of private individuals.
- Some of them are negative in character, that is, place limitations on the authority of the State, while others are positive in nature, conferring certain privileges on the persons.
- They are justiciable in nature and people can move to courts for their enforcement.
- They are defended and guaranteed by the Supreme Court. Hence, the person can go directly to the Supreme Court, not necessarily by way of appeal against the judgement of the high courts.
- They are not absolute, but qualified i.e. that the state can impose reasonable restrictions on them. However, whether such restrictions are reasonable or not is to be decided by the courts.
- They are not sacrosanct or permanent. The Parliament can curtail or repeal them but only by a constitutional amendment act and not by an ordinary act. Moreover, this can be done without affecting the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
- They can be suspended during the operation of a National Emergency except the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21.
- Their scope of operation is limited by Article 31A (saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc.), Article 31B (validation of certain acts and regulations included in the 9th Schedule) and Article 31C (saving of laws giving effect to certain directive principles).
- Their application to the members of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies and analogous services can be restricted or abrogated by the Parliament (Article 33).
- Their application can be restricted while martial law is in force in any area. (Article 34)
- Most of them are directly enforceable (self-executory) while a few of them can be enforced on the basis of a law made for giving effect to them. Such a law can be made only by the Parliament and not by state legislatures so that uniformity throughout the country is maintained (Article 35).
The Fundamental Rights guarantee civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. These are common to most liberal democracies, such as equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, etc. These basic human freedoms are inevitable for the growth of a nation and its people.
Q18. Criminalization of politics is proving fatal to the effective working of largest democracy.Disucss the role of Representation of peoples act in curbing the criminal elements and ensuring the free and fair elections
- The proportion of Candidates contesting Parliament or state election, with criminal cases against them stood at 15% in year 2009, and has risen up to 19% in 2019, as reported by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)
- Indian law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting the elections, those facing trial even for serious crimes find free to contest
- As the Indian judiciary is also already over-burdened and can take years to resolve a case, every political party in the country feels emboldened to unhesitatingly and unashamedly field any number of candidates with a criminal record if their chances of winning are bright
- How criminalisation of Politics affects effective functioning of democracy?
- The ADR analysis shows that candidates facing criminal charges had double the chances of winning as compared to those with a clean record
- The Voters’ right to choose their representatives, has been reduced to harsh reality
- The democracy of India would now be in hands of the criminal who are not capable any way to hold the post if legislature
- Political aspects and criminal elements nexus is dangerous, as Politicians resort to using Muscle power to draw votes
- It leads to Institutionalisation of Corruption
- The Representation of peoples act helps in curbing the criminal elements and ensuring the free and fair elections through the following features:
- Section 8 of Representation of Peoples Act 1951, deals with Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences
- The acts lays down following disqualification provisions for person contesting election:
- He must not have been found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
- He must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years.
- He must not have failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time
- He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State
- He must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
- He must not have been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati
- The Courts in India have strengthened the RPA provisions with the following landmark Judgements:
- On a petition filed by Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari NGO, where ADR also intervened, the Supreme Court stated that if a sitting MP/MLA is convicted (not only charged) then he/ she would be disqualified immediately and the seat would be declared as vacant, setting aside the Clause 8(4) of the Representation of People Act. The Clause 8(4) had provided special privilege to MPs/MLAs to hold the office even after conviction if an appeal has been filed in a higher court within the span of 3 months
- The Supreme court has recommended setting a deadline for the lower courts to complete trial of cases involving lawmakers
- On a petition filed by ADR, the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Government of India and the Election Commission to monitor election expenditure of political parties
- The Election commission too has taken steps to Decriminalise Politics in India:
- EC effectively implements the Model Code of Conduct
- EC has made declaration of Income tax returns for five years, declaration of foreign assets, PAN Mandatory for candidates contesting elections
- Despite these provisions in RPA, Criminalisation of Politics hasn’t reduced. Hence, the Supreme court recently eft it to the Parliament to ”cure the malignancy” by making a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena
Q19. Pressure groups helps in positive democratization of citizens and helps in keeping the administrative machinery accountable. Analyze.
- A pressure group is a group of people who are organised actively for promoting and defending their common interest, as it attempts to bring a change in the Public policy by exerting pressure on the Government
- Role of pressure groups in positive democratization of citizens:
- It acts a liaison between the Government and its members
- They do not contest election and do not try to capture Political power; Instead their activities are confined to the protection and promotion of the interests of their members by influencing the Government
- The ‘All India Trade Union Congress(AITUC)’ has been objective since its inception in 1920, to promote Socialist Policies, as it promotes workers’ welfare and doesn’t allow Government to pass an anti-labour Policies
- The pressure groups influence the policy-making and policy implementation in the government through legal and legitimate methods like lobbying, correspondence, publicity, propagandising, petitioning, public debating, maintaining contacts with their legislators and so forth
- The ‘Bharatiya Kisan Union’ has been instrumental in addressing farmers’ concerns related to Low agricultural prices, increase in electricity rates, addressing their Poverty issues
- The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan’s efforts are best known for its successful struggle and demand for Right to Information Act(RTI)
- Environment Protection groups have led movements Narmada Bachao Andolan and Chipko movement, to voice the native concerns against vagaries faced by Developmental projects, and show their responsibility towards environment
The Pressure groups keep the administrative machinery accountable, by resorting to three techniques for securing their purposes:
- Electioneering: placing persons in public office whoa are favourably disposed towards their interests
- Lobbying: By persuading Public officers, whether they are initially favourably disposed toward them or not, to adopt and enforce the policies that they think will prove most beneficial to their interests
- Propagandizing: By influencing Public Opinion and thereby gain an indirect influence over government, since the government in a democracy is substantially affected by public opinion
The pressure groups have also come under criticism for following reasons:
They are biased in favour of their own interest and not present a balanced agreement
- Members are often very passionate, they may resort to undesirable tactics like violence or criminal behaviour to promote their cause
- This is evident in the secessionist demand for state autonomy in North Eastern states, which has led to tussle between Government and Pressure groups
- Strikes damaging Public property with their violent activities are a common sighting in India
- Opinions held by Pressure groups, have polarised to communal overtones. This is seen with the groups supporting particular religions’ progress to achieve their aims
- Hence, there is a need for better organisation and influence of pressure groups, with clear defined aims, to be able to make difference
Q20. What do you understand by ‘The doctrine of separation of powers’? Do you think this doctrine is absolutely rigid as per our constitution?
- Separation of powers is a doctrine of constitutional law under which the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are kept separate. This is also known as the system of checks and balances, because each branch has separate powers and functions and generally each branch is not allowed to exercise the powers of the other branches. The main objective as per Montesquieu, is that there should be a government of law rather than the whims of the official.
Concept of Separation of Powers explained by Wade and Phillips, it means three different attributes:-
|That the same persons should not form part of more than one of the three organs of Government, e.g. the Ministers should not sit in Parliament.||Not followed. But yes, only a portion of MPs are part of Executive and hence Executive is a subset of the legislature, in terms of personnel overlap. No member of Judiciary is part of either Executive or Legislature.|
|That one organ of the Government should not control or interfere with the exercise of function by another organ, e.g. the Judiciary should be independent of the Executive or that Ministers should not be responsible to Parliament.||Not followed. Responsibility of CoM to LS is at the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy.|
|That one organ of the Government should not exercise the functions of another, e.g. the Ministers should not have legislative powers.||Not followed. There is practice of delegated legislation or subordinate legislation in India.|
NATURE OF THIS DOCTRINE AS PER CONSTITUTION
- Indian constitution does not envisage strict separation of powers between organs of the state. Instead there is functional as well as personnel overlapping between the organs.
- Article 50 puts an obligation over the state to separate the judiciary from the executive. However, it is part of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) and hence is not enforceable.
- Articles 121 and 211 The legislatures cannot discuss the conduct of a judge of the High Court or Supreme Court except during the process of their impeachment.
- Articles 122 and 212 The courts cannot inquire the validity of the proceedings of the legislature.
- Article 361 The President and Governors enjoy immunity from Judicial proceedings.
- Supreme Court in Ram Jawaya Kapur v. State of Punjab (1955) opined that the Constitution has not recognized the doctrine of separation of powers in its absolute rigidity, but the functions of different parts or branches of the government have been sufficiently differentiated.
- In Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1994), the court clarified the basic postulate under the Indian Constitution that the legal sovereign power has been distributed between the legislature to make the law, the executive to implement the law and the judiciary to interpret the law within the limits set down by the Constitution.
- Executive in India is a subset of legislature and virtually there is a fusion between them, thus generally no friction arises between them.
- Indian Constitution does not contemplate separation as embodied in the pure doctrine, it rather perceives and accords to it in its central sense, that is to say, not in its literal sense, rather in its purposive sense, i.e. non conferment of unfettered powers in a single body of men and to motivate checks and balances.
- Parliament is provided with law making powers under various Articles, in the recess of which President promulgates ordinance, which is a law-making function. Similarly, the President has been given with executive powers under Article 72 to grant pardons, reprieves, respite or remissions, which is discharged upon judicial pronouncement. Alikely, the Judiciary has been given with the powers of passing a decree for doing complete justice under Article 142, which is an exceptional provision enabling the judiciary to act in public interest when the executive & legislature fails in performing its duty.
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