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Daily Current affairs 27 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

State Funding of Elections

12

2

Companies bill tightens CSR compliance

12

3

Heritage bye-laws for Purana Qila, Sher Shah Gate, Khair-ul-

Manazil tabled

02

4

SC stands firm on razing Kerala flats

08

5

Second shot at power (Editorial)

10



 

Title

1. State Funding of Elections (The Hindu, Page 12)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II – Polity & Governance

Theme

 State Funding of Elections

Highlights

State funding of Elections

  • Electoral process forms the bedrock of representative democracy. However, to fight elections and run their routine activities, political parties in India seek donations from all possible sources including “illegal” and “interested” money. 

  • This has serious ramifications in preserving the integrity of Indian democracy. An increasing number of countries, meanwhile, have taken the path of public subsidies and direct funding of parties and political activities—aiming to reduce dependence on interested money, equalise political opportunity, and bring greater transparency and accountability to democratic processes.

 

What is state funding?

  • It means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections.

  • Indirect public funding includes: access to publicly owned media, use of government buildings for meetings and rallies, free or subsidised public transportation for candidates and key party personnel for campaigning, free printing and distribution of ballot papers, etc.

  • Under the direct funding scheme, the state provides money directly to political parties or candidates to fully or partially meet their expenses.

 

Why needed?

  • Financial superiority translates into electoral advantage and so richer candidates and parties have a greater chance of winning elections. This also increases illegal and corrupt practices by candidates and political parties. This puts other candidates on a lower footing and denies them a fair opportunity to fight elections on equal grounds.

  • Use of money encourages widespread prevalence of unaccounted money, bribery and quid pro quo corruption which involves business groups who then expects a high return on their investment through suitable policies and preferable treatment as kickbacks.  

 

Recent news

A private members’ bill in Rajya Sabha known as Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, makes two key proposals. One, the current per candidate expenditure limit of Rs.70 lakh should be lifted and two, there should be state funding to ensure a “cleaner polity”, which is a public good.

Earlier recommendations related to state funding

The Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998) endorsed state funding of elections, seeing “full justification constitutional, legal as well as on ground of public  interest” in order to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money. The Committee recommended two limitations to state funding. Firstly, that state funds should be given only to national and state parties allotted a symbol and not to independent candidates. Secondly, that in the short-term state funding should only be given in kind, in the form of certain facilities to the recognised political parties and their candidates. The Committee noted that at the time of the report the economic situation of the country only suited partial and not full state funding of elections.

The 1999 Law Commission of India report concluded that total state funding of elections is “desirable” so long as political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources. The Commission concurred with the Indrajit Gupta Committee that only partial state funding was possible given the economic conditions of the country at that time. Additionally, it strongly recommended that the appropriate regulatory framework be put in place with regard to political parties (provisions ensuring internal democracy,  internal structures and maintenance of accounts, their auditing and submission to Election Commission) before state funding of elections is attempted.

“Ethics in Governance”, a report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008) also recommended partial state funding of elections for the purpose of reducing “illegitimate and unnecessary funding” of elections expenses.

About Private Members’ Bill

 

A Member of the Parliament who is not a Minister (i.e. not a member of the Government) is regarded as a Private Member. A Bill introduced in either house of Parliament by any such Member of Parliament is called a Private Members’ Bill; Bills introduced by Ministers are called Government Bills. 

 

A Private Members’ Bill is introduced in the Parliament by giving prior notice of one month along with a copy of the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ wherein the Private Member explains her/ his rationale for the introduction of the Bill. The final order of introduction is decided by a ballot system to ensure fairness. On the day allotted for such Bills, the Speaker/ Chairman of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha calls out to individual Members who then introduce their Bills.

There is also a Parliamentary Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions which allots time to different PMBs and goes through all of them (particularly those seeking to amend the Constitution). It also helps in classifying these Bills based on their nature, urgency, and importance. This classification, in turn, determines which of the introduced Bills are discussed first.

 

 

Title

2. Companies bill tightens CSR compliance (The Hindu, Page 12)     

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II - Polity & Governance 

Theme

 Companies Act Amendment 

Highlights

Aim: Furthering ease of doing business for companies ensuring better corporate governance and making the law company friendly.

 

  1. Tightening the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) compliance

  • India has become the first country to make CSR spending mandatory through a law.

  • Companies registered under the companies act having net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, or turnover of Rs 1000 crore or more or a net profit of Rs 5 crore of more during any financial year will have to spend 2% of the average of net profits of the company made during three immediately preceding financial years, in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy.

  • Companies will have one year to firm up the CSR proposal and another three years to spend funds. In case money remains unspent for one plus three years, it will have to be moved to an escrow account.

  • Under the Act, if companies which have to provide for CSR, do not fully spent the funds, they must disclose the reasons for non-spending in their annual report. 

  • Under the Bill, any unspent annual CSR funds must be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act (e.g., PM Relief Fund) within six months of the financial year.

  • However, if the CSR funds are committed to certain ongoing projects, then the unspent funds will have to be transferred to an Unspent CSR Account within 30 days of the end of the financial year and spent within three years. Any funds remaining unspent after three years will have to be transferred to one of the funds under Schedule 7 of the Act. 

  • Any violation may attract a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,00,000 and every defaulting officer may be punished with imprisonment of up to three years or fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,00,000, or both. 

  • Central Government has been empowered to give such general and special directions to a company or class of companies as it considers necessary to ensure compliance of provisions of CSR and companies will have to comply with such decisions.

 

  1. Debarring Auditors by NFRA

  • Enable the National Financial Reporting Authority to perform its functions through divisions and executive body.

  • Under the Act, the National Financial Reporting Authority debar a member or firm from practicing as a Chartered Accountant for a period between six months to 10 years, for proven misconduct.  

  • The Bill amends the punishment to provide for debarment from appointment as an auditor or internal auditor of a company, or performing a company’s valuation, for a period between six months to 10 years.

 

About National Financial Reporting Authority

  • NFRA is an Indian statutory body constituted under section 132 of the Companies Act 2013.

  • It works for the establishment and enforcement of accounting and auditing standards and oversight of the work of auditors.

  • Functions - recommending accounting and auditing standards, ensuring compliance with them and overseeing the quality of service of the accounting and audit professions.

  • It has also been given the power to investigate matters of professional misconduct by chartered accountants or CA firms, impose penalty and debar the CA or firm for up to 10 years

  • It shall consist of a chairperson, who shall be a person of eminence and having expertise in accountancy, auditing, finance or law to be appointed by the Central Government and such other members not exceeding fifteen consisting of part-time and full-time members

  • It shall have the power to investigate, either suo motu or on a reference made to it by the Central Government, for such class of bodies corporate or persons, into the matters of professional or other misconduct committed by any member or firm of chartered accountants, registered under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. It shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court

 

Title

3. Heritage bye-laws (The Hindu Page 02)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II –Polity & Governance

Theme

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act

Highlights

Context: The heritage by-laws for Purana Qila, Sher Shah gate and  the Khair-ul-Manazil mosque drafted in accordance with the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, have been tabled in parliament. 

Need for Heritage by laws 

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) can only carry out repairs in the 100 metre-area from a protected area, which is called the prohibited area.

  • The area starting from 100 metres from such a monument till 300 metres away from it is the “regulated area”, as per the Act.

  • For the regulated areas, the NMA is drafting heritage by-laws for each monument or group of monuments that will determine the nature of new construction activity.

  • The proposed by-laws will lay down restrictions on the height of new constructions, among other features.

  • The by-laws would be aimed at ensuring new constructions are “in harmony” with the protected monuments.

About National Monument Authority (NMA):

  • Established in 2010, based on provsions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 (AMASR Act, 2010).

  • To stop the rampant encroachment and construction around the monuments and other sites of archaeological importance.

  • It is the highest body to oversee functions under the Act, particularly consideration of NOC applications for construction or repair and renovation in prohibited and regulated areas.

  • Functions under Union Ministry of Culture.

 

Purana Qila (Old Fort) is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. 

  • The site has been continuously inhabited for 2,500 years and remains dating from the pre-Mauryan period have been found. 

  • The massive gateway and walls of Purana Quila were built by Humayun and the foundation laid for the new capital, Dinpanah.

  • The work was carried forward by Sher Shah Suri, who displaced Humayun.

 

Sher Shah Gate- Built in the 16th century by Sher Shah Suri, the structure is a fine example of Ashlar and rubble masonry work.  

  • The gate is mostly built with red sandstone but with use of local grey quartzite in its upper storey, hence called the Lal Darwaza (red gate).

Khair-ul-Manazil is a historical mosque built in 1561 in New Delhi, India. 

  • The mosque is situated in the opposite of Purana Qila , south east to Sher Shah Gate. 

  • The gateway of the mosque was made by red sandstone following Mughal architecture, but the inside structure of the building was made in Delhi Sultanate pattern.

 

Title

4. SC stands firm on razing Kerala flats (The Hindu Page 08)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS III – Environment

Theme

Coastal Regulation Zone Regulation 

Highlights

Context: The Supreme Court has recently ordered the demolition of five apartment complexes in Maradu municipality in Ernakulam, Kerala, for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The order came on a special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA). While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union Environment Ministry, implementation is supposed to be done by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities. The states are also supposed to frame their own coastal zone management plans in accordance with the central Rules. But there has been parity between development and environmental conservation.

What was the issue?

  • In 2006, the permission to construct the buildings was granted when Maradu was a panchayat. The building permission, in violation of CRZ was, however, cancelled

  • when the Panchayat was elevated to the municipality level. The reason behind the move was that the permit was granted by the panchayat to the builders without obtaining the concurrence of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority (KCZMA) who is the authority to grant approval for construction within a CRZ area.

  • Builders had challenged the municipality’s decision in the Kerala High Court where the verdict went in their favour. After this, the KCZMA filed a writ petition in the SC.

  • On November 27, 2018, the SC passed an order seeking an expert committee to

  • report on whether the area wherein the apartments were sanctioned and

  • constructed comes under CRZ II or CRZ III.

  • The committee submitted its report stating that as per the CRZ notification of 1991 and Kerala Coastal Zone Management Plan (KCZMP) 1996, the area in question came under CRZ III. As per the CRZ notification 1991, no construction is permitted within 200 metres from the coastal line in CRZ III.

 

What are Coastal Regulation Zones?

For regulating development activities, the coastal Zones within 500 metres of High Tide Line on the landward side are classified into four categories.

Category I /CRZ I: Areas that are ecologically sensitive and important, such as

national parks/marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wildlife habitats,

mangroves, corals/coral reefs. Areas likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level

consequent upon global warming and such other areas as may be declared by the Central Government or the concerned authorities at the State/Union Territory level from time to time. Also the areas that lie between Low tide line and High tide line.

Category-II (CRZ-II): The areas that have already been developed upto or close to the shoreline.

Category-III (CRZ-III): Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those which do not belong to either Category-I or These will include coastal zone in the rural areas (developed and undeveloped) and also areas within Municipal limits or in other legally designated urban areas which

are not substantially built up.

Category-IV (CRZ-IV): Coastal stretches in the Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep and small islands, except those designated as CRZ-I, CRZ-II or CRZ-III.

 

Why coastal management is important?

  • India’s Second National Communication submitted to the United Nations

  • Framework Convention on Climate Change, the sea level is projected to rise by 3.5 to 34.6 inches between 1990 and 2100, which may result in saline coastal groundwater, endangering wetlands and inundating valuable land and coastal communities.

  • According to the Indian government, the most vulnerable stretches along the western Indian coast are the Gulf of Khambhat and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Mumbai, and parts of the Konkan coast and south Kerala. Hence coastal area management is must.

 

Evolution of Coastal Regulation Zone Rules

CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline.

CRZ Rules, 1991

First CRZ Rule was mandated under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, framed in 1991. They sought to restrict certain kinds of activities, like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, or reclamation and bunding, within a certain distance from the coastline. 

Lacunas: The Rules would not allow simple things like building decent homes for

people living close to the coast, and carrying out basic developmental works.

Created hurdles for industrial and infrastructure projects.

CRZ Rules, 2011

The 2011 notification tried to address (in how much ever limited manner) this

lacuna by creating the District Level Coastal Committees (DLCC), a space for

coastal communities to participate in some aspects of regulatory decision-making on the coasts. While the exact role of these committees was not specified, and in  many states the committees were not fully functional.

Lacunas: There was mismatch between economic development and coastal

ecosystem conservation.

 

CRZ 2018

The Environment Ministry in 2014 set up a six-member committee under then Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh Nayak to give suggestions for a new set of CRZ Rules. 

The proposed CRZ 2018 rules will lead to enhanced activities in the coastal regions thereby promoting economic growth while also respecting the conservation principles of coastal regions. It will not only result in significant employment generation but also to a better life and add value to the economy of India.

 

Salient features of CRZ 2018 Rules

Allowing FSI as per current norms in CRZ areas: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II (Urban) areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been decided to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects, as prevailing on the date of the new Notification. This will enable redevelopment of these areas to meet the emerging needs.

 

Densely populated rural areas to be afforded greater opportunity for

development:

a) For CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have now been stipulated as below:

b) CRZ-III A - These are densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have a No Development Zone (NDZ) of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the High Tide Line stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011 since such areas have similar characteristics as urban areas.

c) CRZ-III B - Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.

 

Tourism infrastructure for basic amenities to be promoted: Temporary

tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also now permissible in the “No Development Zone” (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas as per the Notification. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.

CRZ Clearances streamlined: The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level with necessary guidance.

 

A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been stipulated for all

Islands: For islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land, in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions, bringing uniformity in treatment of such regions, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.

 

All Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance:

Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.

 

Pollution abatement has been accorded special focus: In order to address

pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible

activities in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.


 

Title

5. Second shot at power (Editorial) (The Hindu Page 10)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS II –Polity & Governance

Theme

Concept of Whip

Highlights

Context: 

Karnataka Governor asked Chief Minister to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly before 1.30 pm on Friday. The vote to decide the fate of the JD(S)-Congress government was not held earlier amid a demand by Congress Legislature Party leader that the motion be deferred until the Speaker was able to decide on the fate of his whip. The Supreme Court had said the previous day that the 15 rebel MLAs “ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House”.

 

What is a whip?

  • A whip in parliamentary parlance is a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way. The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line. In India all parties can issue a whip to their members.

  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.

 

KINDS OF WHIPS:

  • The importance of a whip can be inferred from the number of times an order is underlined. A one-line whip, underlined once, is usually issued to inform party members of a vote, and allows them to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.

  • A two-line whip directs them to be present during the vote.

  • A three-line whip is the strongest, employed on important occasions such as the second reading of a Bill or a no-confidence motion, and places an obligation on members to toe the party line.

 

DEFIANCE OF WHIP:

  • The penalty for defying a whip varies from country to country. In the UK, MPs can lose membership of the party, but can keep their House seats as Independents; in India, rebelling against a three-line whip can put a lawmaker’s membership of the House at risk. The anti-defection law allows the Speaker/Chairperson to disqualify such a member; the only exception is when more than a third of legislators vote against a directive, effectively splitting the party.

  • In case of disqualification, the rebels will have to wait until the results of the bye-elections are announced to become ministers. However, if the Speaker accepts their resignations, then the rebel MLAs can become ministers immediately but they will have to win the bye-elections to continue holding the ministries.

 

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  2. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: PMFBY- key features.

For Mains: PMFBY performance analysis, shortcomings and ways to address them.

 

Context: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) envisages use of improved technology to reduce time gap for settlement of claims of farmers.

Accordingly, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, through Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC), has involved 8 agencies/ organizations to carry out pilot studies for Optimization of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) in various States under PMFBY

 

About PMFBY:

Launched in April, 2016, after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.

 

Objectives:

  1. Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  2. Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  3. Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  4. Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

 

Challenges at present:

Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.

Data constraints: With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies.

Low payout of claims: The reason for the very low payout of claims is that only few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.

Gaps in assessment of crop loss: There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages. There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling

Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance, Inadequate and delayed claim payment.

High actuarial premium rates: Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates. If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.

Poor capacity to deliver: There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY. PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.

 

Mains Question: Discuss technology’s benefits for crop insurance in India.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. economics of animal-rearing.

 

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Rashtriya Gokul Mission – features and significance, significance of the dairy sector.

 

Context: In order to complement and supplement the efforts made by the States and Union Territories for enhancing milk production and productivity of bovines, Government has been implementing Rashtriya Gokul Mission throughout the country for development and conservation of bovine population thereby enhancing their production and productivity.

 

About Rashtriya Gokul Mission:

To conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds, government has launched ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ under the National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBD).

 

The Mission is being implemented with the objectives to: 

  1. a) development and conservation of indigenous breeds.
  2. b) undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock.
  3. c) enhance milk production and productivity.
  4. d) upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi.
  5. e) distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service.

 

Implementation:

Rashtriya Gokul Mission will be implemented through the “State Implementing Agency (SIA viz Livestock Development Boards). State Gauseva Ayogs will be given the mandate to sponsor proposals to the SIA’s (LDB’s) and monitor implementation of the sponsored proposal. All Agencies having a role in indigenous cattle development will be the “Participating Agencies” like CFSPTI, CCBFs, ICAR, Universities, Colleges, NGO’s, Cooperative Societies and Gaushalas with best germplasm.

 

Gokul Gram:

  1. Funds under the scheme will be allocated for the establishment of Integrated Indigenous Cattle Centres viz “Gokul Gram”.
  2. Gokul Grams will be established in: i) the native breeding tracts and ii) near metropolitan cities for housing the urban cattle.
  3. Gokul Gram will act as Centres for development of Indigenous Breeds and a dependable source for supply of high genetic breeding stock to the farmers in the breeding tract.
  4. The Gokul Gram will be self sustaining and will generate economic resources from sale of A2 milk (A2 milkis cow’s milk that mostly lacks a form of β-casein proteins called A1 and instead has mostly the A2 form), organic manure, vermi-composting, urine distillates, and production of electricity from bio gas for in house consumption and sale of animal products.
  5. The Gokul Gram will also function as state of the art in situ training centrefor Farmers, Breeders and MAITRI’s.
  6. The Gokul Gram will maintain milch and unproductive animals in the ratio of 60:40and will have the capacity to maintain about 1000 animals. Nutritional requirements of the animals will be provided in the Gokul Gram through in house fodder production.
  7. Gokul Gram will also be set up near to metropolitan cities for managing urban cattle. Metropolitan Gokul Gram will focus on genetic upgradation of urban cattle.

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Amendments to The Companies Act

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the companies act, need for amendments and significance.

 

Context: Govt introduces bill to amend companies law in Lok Sabha. It amends the Companies Act, 2013. 

 

Need:

The amendments aim to ensure more accountability and better enforcement to strengthen the corporate governance norms and compliance management in corporate sector.

 

Key features of the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  1. Allows companies to transfer their unspent CSR funds to a separate account and the same has to be spent within three financial years. In case, the money remains unspent, then it should be transferred to any fund specified in Schedule VII of the Act.
  2. Provides more teeth to the central government to deal with violators and reducing burden on special courts.
  3. Seeks to enable the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to perform its functions through divisions and executive body.
  4. Seeks to empower Registrar of Companies (RoC) to initiate action for removal of a company’s name if the latter is not carrying out business activities as per the Act.
  5. Proposes to transfer some functions from NCLT to the Central government such as dealing with applications for change of financial year and conversion from public to private companies.
  6. In order to curb the menace of shell companies, the Bill proposes making non-maintenance of registered office and non-reporting of commencement of business grounds for striking off the name of the company from the register of companies.

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

POCSO court

 

What to study?

For Prelims: POCSO Act provisions.

For Mains: Sexual abuse of children- prevention and need for stringent provisions, causes for delay in pending cases.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to set up special courts in each district across the country that have over a 100 cases of child abuse and sexual assault pending trial under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

 

Need for special courts:

Present Slow pace of action on protection of children from sexual predators. As per available data, number of victims compensated under Pocso were 3% in 2015, 4% in 2016 and 5% in 2017. Around 1.5 lakh cases are pending trial before 670 designated courts.

Though the Act mandates trial to be completed in one year, the deadline is impossible to achieve as each designated trial judge is saddled with a few hundred cases in addition to the trial of other cases.

 

Guidelines by the SC for Setting up of special courts:

  1. Such courts will be funded by the central government. The fund will not only take care of the appointment of the presiding officer but also appointments of support persons, special public prosecutors, court staff and infrastructure, including creation of childfriendly environment and vulnerable witness court rooms.
  2. Awareness: WCD ministry shall facilitate screening of “short clips intended to spread awareness of the subject in general, namely, prevention of child abuse and prosecution of crimes against children, in every movie hall and could also be transmitted by various television channels at regular intervals.
  3. A child helpline number should also be displayed in such clips and at schools and other public places.

 

Background:

Kerala has the worst judge-case ratio, as it has set up just three designated courts for 14 districts with each required to deal with 2,211 cases.

Chhattisgarh and Punjab have the lowest average of 51 cases per designated court.

 

Recent amendments proposed:

Union Cabinet has approved the Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

 

Key changes proposed:

  1. It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
  2. It includes provision of death penalty in cases of sexual offences against children.
  3. The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonmentto curb child pornography.
  4. Amendments are also proposed to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and in other situations where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. RPA related issues.

State poll funding

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: State funding of elections- need, issues and feasibility, electoral reforms in general.

 

Context: Equating the expenditure limit on election expenses with prohibition, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda has moved a private member’s bill- Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill– in the Rajya Sabha that seeks removal of the limit and state funding of elections as part of reforms to the way polls are financed in India.

 

Why remove the expenditure Limit?

The limit on expenditure is seen as counter productive and only helped those with black money to bribe individual voters and crippled honest candidates.

 

What needs to be done- proposals made in the bill?

  1. Instead of imposing a limit, transparency should be brought in. The candidates should be allowed to legitimately raise funds.
  2. Ensure state funding– The bill proposed a National Election Fund, under which each political party could be allotted funds according to their recent electoral performance.

 

What is state or public funding of elections?

This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections.

Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean.

 

Why public funding is good?

  1. Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  2. Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  3. Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  4. In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates. If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

 

Why are some people opposed to this idea?

  • Those against this idea wonder how a Government that is grappling with deficit budgets, can provide money to political parties to contest elections.
  • They also warn that state funding would encourage every second outfit to get into the political arena merely to avail of state funds.
  • Also, given that state expenditure on key social sectors such as primary healthcare is “pitifully small”, the very idea of the Government giving away money to political parties to contest polls, is revolting.

 

Why it is difficult to go for public funding?

  1. The funds that a political party advances to its party candidates in an election vary from one candidate to another, and there is much variation across political parties in this regard.
  2. Assuming that there are five contending candidates in a constituency, and even if each one of them does not spend as much, but just half of their elected counterpart, an amount of about ₹15 crore will be spent in each constituency, which with about 4,215 MLAs in India works out to an about ₹13,000 crore per annum.
  3. While the legal limit that a Lok Sabha candidate can spend is ₹70 lakh, a victorious candidate on an average does not spend less than ₹10 crore for the purpose. Suppose we assume again an average of five candidates per constituency, and halving the amount to losers, about ₹30 crore will be spent in each Lok Sabha constituency, and given 543 members of the Lok Sabha, about ₹3,300 crore per annum.
  4. Then there are elections to the Upper Houses, both at the Centre and in some States, and the local governing bodies. Hence, it is argued that public funding places unnecessary burden on the exchequer.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Red Mud:

Context: Ministry of mines organises a workshop on Effective utilization of Red Mud.

Red Mud is a solid waste generated during the aluminium production process.

Concerns: This is an environmental concern due to presence of impurities such as caustic soda and others minerals.

Background: Global generation of red mud is more than 150 million tons and there exists a global inventory of more than 3 billion tons. Red mud generation in India is around 9 million tons per year.

 

Hyperbola-1:

Context: iSpace, a Chinese startup, has launched first commercial rocket of China- Hyperbola-1– into the Earth’s orbit.

Hyperbola-1 is carrying the CAS-7B CubeSat (microsatellite). It is an amateur radio mission which is developed by the Beijing Institute of Technology.
Hyperbola-1 is also carrying a satellite for Aerospace Science and Technology Space Engineering Development Co. Ltd.

About Hyperbola-1: It is around 68,000 pounds (31 metric tons) with three lower stages burning pre-packed solid propellants, and a liquid-fueled upper stage for a final orbital injection maneuver.
This rocket is able to deliver up to 573 pounds (260 kilograms) of payload mass to a 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) sun-synchronous polar orbit.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

Compulsory voting:

Context: The Compulsory Voting Bill, 2019, has been introduced by a ruling party MP in Lok Sabha.

 

Attempts in the past to make voting compulsory:

The idea of making voting compulsory was rejected by Dr. B R Ambedkar on account of practical difficulties during the discussion on the People’s Representation Bill in Parliament in the year 1951.

Since then, many committees have discussed the issue and one such committee was Dinesh Goswami Committee (1990).

Many Private member’s bills were introduced for making voting compulsory.

 

Arguments in favour of compulsory voting:

  1. Strengthen democracy- If compulsory voting was introduced, Parliament will be able to reflect more accurately, the will of the electorate. Compulsory voting will ensure that people take politics more seriously and will begin to take more proactive role. Further, citizens who live in a democratic state have a duty to vote, which is an essential part of that democracy.
  2. Benefits the prevention of extremist and special interest groups from grabbing power. Otherwise if less number of people vote then it becomes easier for the special interest groups to motivate a small section of people and influence the outcome of the election process.
  3. Financial resources can be saved as Election Commission no longer needs to spend money in convincing people about the need to vote.

 

Arguments against making voting compulsory:

  1. Practical difficulties such as remoteness of polling booths, difficulties faced by certain classes of people like daily wage labourers, nomadic groups, disabled, pregnant women etc. in casting their vote. 
  2. Compulsory voting may be in violation of the fundamental rights of liberty and expression that are guaranteed to citizens in a democratic state. So every individual should be able to choose whether or not he or she wants to vote. Active participation in a democratic set up must be voluntary, and not coerced.
  3. The expenditure increases with enforcing compulsory voting. For instance, the cost per voter in 2009 LokSabha elections is Rs.12. If in case a large number of voters who do not want to vote presses NOTA button, then it becomes an unnecessary expenditure without any decisive outcome on the election.

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