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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 July 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 July 2019


Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act, 2019 or HR 1044

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: What is green card? Recent changes proposed and impact of these changes.

 

What is it? It is a Bill passed by the US lawmakers aimed at lifting the current seven per cent country-cap on issuing Green Cards.

 

Key changes proposed:

  • As per the present system, out of the total number of family-based immigrant visas to be given by the US in a particular year, the people of a country can be given a maximum of seven per cent of such visas. The new Bill seeks to increase this seven per cent per-country limit to 15 per cent.
  • Similarly, it also seeks to eliminate the seven per cent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas.
  • It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.
  • The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a per centage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers) and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals from other than the two countries that get the largest number of such visas.
  • As per another provision of the Bill, not more than 85 per cent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

 

Impact:

The Bill will create a first-come, first-served system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling the US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs, regardless of where they were born.

 

How will this law help the Indian IT professionals working there?

Lifting the per-country cap on Green Card would mainly benefit high-tech professionals on H-1B work visas from countries like India, for whom the wait for Green Card is more than a decade.

Under current rules, citizens of India are getting about 25 percent of all the professional employment green cards each year. If this bill becomes law citizens of India will get more than 90 percent of the professional employment green cards.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

1.Indian Constitution- Important amendments and parts.

2.Salient features of RPA.

 

10th Schedule of the Constitution

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of 10th schedule of the constitution, dismissal, exceptions and judicial review of the decision.

For Mains: Significance of anti- defection law, concerns associated with its misuse and measures to improve its transparency.

 

Context: 10 MLAs from Karnataka may face disqualification for anti-party activities and defying whips. The ball is now in speaker’s court as he has powers to invoke the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the Anti-defection Act.

 

What is the anti-defection law?

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.

It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.

The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.

The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

 

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  1. Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  2. Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

 

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

 

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

 

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  • Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  • Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  • Promotes party discipline.
  • Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  • Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  • Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

 

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

  1. Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to following cases:

A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party

A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.

 

  1. Law Commission (170th Report)

Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.

Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection

Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

 

  1. Election Commission:

Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

Mains Question: What are the main features of India’s anti-defection law? Also examine interpretations and recommendations made by the courts and committees on the law. Do you think, instead of the Speaker, the decision on defections should be decided by an external neutral body such as the Election Commission? Comment


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Concerns and issues associated with the proposed two- child policy.

 

Context: A nominated MP has introduced a private member’s Bill- Population Regulation Bill, 2019- in the Rajya Sabha, seeking to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

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

 

Criticisms related to two- child policy:

  1. India is a country with a booming technology industry, one that relies on young people. There is fear that, by restricting the number of children that can be born, there will not be enough educated young people in the next generation to carry on India’s technological revolution.
  2. Critics also argue that the population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated.
  3. There are already well-documented problems with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys and millions of undocumented children who were born to parents that already had their one child. These problems risk being replicated in India with the implementation of their two-child policy.
  4. By interfering with the birth rate, India faces a future with severe negative population growth, a serious problem that most developed countries are trying to reverse. With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for the social services. In this case, taxes must be increased and young people risk contributing way more than they will receive in the future.
  5. The law related may also be anti-women. Human rights activists argue that, not only does the law discriminate against women right from birth (through abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and babies), but divorce and familial abandonment are at risk of increasing if a man with a large family wants to run for political office. In addition, women in India are, by and large, uneducated and illiterate and, as such, are often unaware of the two-child policy.
  6. A legal restriction to two children could force couples to go for sex-selective abortions as there are only two ‘attempts’. A significant proportion of such women, especially those from lower socio-economic strata, would be forced to go for unsafe abortions because of issues of access and affordability. Besides being inhumane, this is bound to create gender imbalances.

 

Are urgent and aggressive steps to control population required for India?

  • It is indeed a fact that population of India is growing and will continue to grow for the next couple of decades. This is because, as compared to the past, there is a higher proportion of people in the marriageable age group who will produce children, and people are now living longer.
  • However, the fertility rates are also declining. The average number of children that a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime is called the total fertility rate (TFR). A TFR of about 2.1 is considered as replacement-level fertility – if achieved, it will lead the population to stabilise in the long run.
  • As per National Family Health Survey data, the country-level TFR in India is 2.23, which is not hugely above the desired level of 2.1.
  • Twenty states/UTs have achieved the replacement-level TFR, another five have got it below 2.2, with the remaining 11 states (including Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) having a higher rate. Though these 11 states/UTs accounts for 42% of country’s population, they are already showing a fall in their TFRs.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Mains Question: In 2050, India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion, which will be higher than that of China. Do you think with Population Regulation Bill, India be able to handle its overpopulation crisis? Critically analyse. 


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

 

Global MPI 2018

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of MPI.

For Mains: Highlights, key findings and significance of the report, concerns for India and measures needed to reduce the poverty.

 

Context: Global MPI 2019 Report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

In the 101 countries assessed– 31 low income, 68 middle income and 2 high income –about 1.3 billion people are “multi-dimensionally poor“.

 

Definition of MPI poor: 

Multi-dimensional poverty defines poor not only on the basis of income, but on other indicators, including poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence.

 

Key findings:

India specific:

  1. Incidence of multidimensional poverty almost halved between 2005-06 and 2015-16, climbing down to 27.5%, indicating that the number of poor people in India fell by more than 271 million within ten years.
  2. Incidence of multidimensional poverty halved in India due to faster progress among the poorest in the country. Among states, Jharkhand had the greatest improvement, with Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland only slightly behind.
  3. However, Bihar was still the poorest state in 2015- 16, with more than half of its population living in poverty. In 2015-16, the four poorest states – Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh – were home to 196 million multidimensional poor people – over half of all the people living in multidimensional poverty in India.
  4. Least poor regions also saw reduction in poverty. Relative to their starting levels, they netted some of the highest rates of reduction. For example, Kerala, one of the least poor regions in 2006, reduced its MPI by around 92%.
  5. The positive trend of pro-poor poverty reduction was seen also across religions and caste groups. In both cases, the poorest groups (Muslims and Scheduled Tribes) reduced poverty the most over the ten years from 2005-06 to 2015-16.
  6. The poorest district is Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh, where 76.5% of people are poor – the same as Sierra Leone in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only eight countries have higher rates of MPI.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

Draft tenancy law

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the draft and need for a law in this regard.

 

Context: Centre has proposed a Model Tenancy Law to regulate renting of premises.

 

Highlights of the draft:

  • It mandates the landowner to give a notice in writing three months before revising rent.
  • It advocates appointing district collector as rent authority and heavy penalty on tenants for overstaying.
  • According to it, tenants overstaying will have to pay double the rent for two times and four times thereafter.
  • The security deposit to be paid by the tenant in advance will be a maximum of two months’ rent.
  • Both landlord and tenant will have to submit a copy of rent agreement to the district Rent Authority which will also have the power to revise or fix rent following a request either by landlord or tenant.
  • States will be free to adopt the law owing to land being state subject.
  • States will be required to constitute rent courts and rent tribunal.
  • If the landowner refuses to carry out the required repairs, the tenant can get the work done and deduct the same from periodic rent.
  • A landowner cannot enter the rented premises without 24-hour prior notice to carry out repairs or replacement.
  • Landowner cannot cut power and water supply in case of a dispute with the tenant.
  • Rent Authority may direct for compensation on the person responsible for cutting off or withholding the essential supply.
  • The Rent Authority may levy a penalty be paid to the landowner or tenant if it finds that the application was made frivolously or vexatiously.

 

Significance:

It is an important piece of legislation that promises to ease the burden on civil courts, unlock rental properties stuck in legal disputes, and prevent future tangles by balancing the interests of tenants and landlords.

 

Need for a law in this regard:

Young, educated job seekers migrating to large metropolises often complain of onerous tenancy conditions and obscene sums of money as security deposits that they are asked to fork out to lease accommodation. In some cities, tenants are asked to pay security deposits amounting to 11 months of rent. Also, some house owners routinely breach tenants’ right to privacy by visiting the premises unannounced for sundry repair works. Whimsical rent raises are another problem for tenants, many of whom complain of being squeezed as “captive customers“.

Besides, Tenants are often accused of “squatting” on the rented premises, or trying to grab the property.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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

LaQshya 

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features, objectives and significance of the programme.

 

Context: Government of India has launched “LaQshya” (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres in public health facilities.

 

About LaQshya:

It’s a multipronged approach focused at Intrapartum and immediate postpartum period.

Aim: To reduce preventable maternal and newborn mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity Operation Theatre and ensure respectful maternity care.

Objectives

  1. To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to hemorrhage, retained placenta, preterm, preeclampsia and eclampsia, obstructed labour, puerperal sepsis, newborn asphyxia, and newborn sepsis, etc.
  2. To improve Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care, stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals, and enable an effective two-way follow-up system.
  3. To enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.

 

Following types of healthcare facilities have been identified for implementation of LaQshya program:

  1. Government medical college hospitals.
  2. District Hospitals & equivalent health facilities.
  3. Designated FRUs and high case load CHCs with over 100 deliveries/month (60 in hills and desert areas)

 

Facts for Prelims:

 

‘Kharchi Puja’ Begins in Tripura:

The annual “Kharchi Puja” and festival is meant to cleanse the sins of mortal souls.

Originally a Hindu tribals’ festivity, it is now observed by all communities and religions.

The festival features 14 deities – Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesha, Brahma, Abadhi (God of water), Chandra, Ganga, Agni, Kamdev and Himadri (Himalaya).

This year the Kharchi Puja mela will be celebrated with the theme of ‘Nesha Mukta Tripura and Save Water’.

 

Gafa tax:

What is it? It is a legislation — dubbed the GAFA tax — an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – passed recently by France Parliament.

With this, France has become the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants.

The new law aims at plugging a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits.

The law will levy a 3 per cent tax on total annual revenues of the largest tech firms providing services to French consumers.

 

What is Merchant Discount Rate and why does it matter?

Merchant Discount Rate (alternatively referred to as the Transaction Discount Rate or TDR) is the sum total of all the charges and taxes that a digital payment entails.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

Picking out plastic: on recycling and waste management:

Context: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has put 52 producers, brand owners and importers on notice, for failing to take responsibility for their plastic waste.

 

What’s the issue?

It is eight years since the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was incorporated into the Plastic Waste Management Rules, but municipal and pollution control authorities have failed to persuade commercial giants to put in place a system to collect and process the waste.

Tighter rules in 2016 and some amendments two years later put the onus on producers and brand owners to come up with an action plan for the retrieval of waste within six months to a year, but that too failed to take off.

 

Concerns:

Mountains of garbage with a heavy plastic load have been growing in suburban landfills, out of sight of city dwellers. Without determined steps, the crisis is certain to worsen.

Given the role played by packaging, the waste management problem is likely to become alarming.

 

Need of the hour:

  • The two prongs of the solution are packaging innovation that reduces its use by using alternatives, and upscaling waste segregation, collection and transmission.
  • Recovering materials from garbage should be a high priority, considering that India is the third highest consumer of materials after China and the U.S.; the Economic Survey 2019 estimates that India’s demand for total material will double by 2030 at current rates of growth.
  • Plastics may be less expensive than other inputs in manufacturing, but recycling them into new products extends their life and provides a substitute for virgin material.
  • Keeping them out of the environment reduces clean-up and pollution costs. Companies can form waste cooperatives in India, employing informal waste-pickers.
  • Making municipal and pollution control authorities accountable is also equally important.