Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 16 September 2019
Table of contents:
GS Paper 2:
- Collegium of Supreme Court judges.
- Hindi to help unite the country.
GS Paper 3:
- Package to Boost Exports and Revive Housing Sector.
- How waived loans impact states?
- International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
- Central Adverse List.
Facts for Prelims:
- Him Vijay exercise.
- UN Mission in support of the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA).
- Samudra Laksamana.
- Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).
- ‘Jaldoot’ Exhibition.
GS Paper 2:
- Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
What to study?
For Prelims: Collegium system for the appointment of judges, selection and removal of SC judges, overview of NJAC.
For Mains: Issues with Collegium system and why was NJAC struck down? Need for urgent reforms.
Context: The recent controversy over the transfer of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani, to the Meghalaya High Court has once again brought to the fore a long-standing debate on the functioning of the ‘Collegium’ of judges.
What is the Collegium system?
The Collegium of judges does not figure in the Constitution. It is the Supreme Court’s invention.
Constitution says judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President and speaks of a process of consultation.
Therefore, Collegium is a system under which judges are appointed by an institution comprising judges.
Collegium also recommends the transfer of Chief Justices and other judges.
How did this come into being?
- ‘First Judges Case’ (1981) ruled that the “consultation” with the CJI in the matter of appointments must be full and effective. However, the CJI’s opinion should have primacy.
- Second Judges Case (1993) introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation” really meant “concurrence”. It added that it was not the CJI’s individual opinion, but an institutional opinion formed in consultation with the two senior-most judges in the Supreme Court.
- Third Judges Case (1998): SC on President’s reference expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, comprising the CJI and four of his senior-most colleagues.
Procedure followed by the Collegium:
- The President of India appoints the CJI and the other SC judges.
- For other judges of the top court, the proposal is initiated by the CJI.
- The CJI consults the rest of the Collegium members, as well as the senior-most judge of the court hailing from the High Court to which the recommended person belongs.
- The consultees must record their opinions in writing and it should form part of the file.
- The Collegium sends the recommendation to the Law Minister, who forwards it to the Prime Minister to advise the President.
- The Chief Justice of High Courts is appointed as per the policy of having Chief Justices from outside the respective States.
- The Collegium takes the call on the elevation.
Appointment of CJI for High Courts:
- High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges.
- The proposal, however, is initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior-most colleagues.
- The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Union Law Minister.
Common criticism made against the Collegium system:
- Opaqueness and a lack of transparency.
- Scope for nepotism.
- Embroilment in public controversies.
- Overlooks several talented junior judges and advocates.
Attempts to reform:
The attempt made to replace it by a ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’ was struck down by the court in 2015 on the ground that it posed a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
- A transparent and participatory procedure, preferably by an independent broad-based constitutional body guaranteeing judicial primacy but not judicial exclusivity.
- It should ensure independence, reflect diversity, demonstrate professional competence and integrity.
- Instead of selecting the number of judges required against a certain number of vacancies, the collegium must provide a panel of possible names to the President to appointment in order of preference and other valid criteri
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
What to study?
For Prelims: Constitutional provisions in this regard.
For Mains: Should Hindi be made the common language, need for, concerns and challenges ahead?
Context: During an event associated with the Hindi Divas, the Union Home Minister said that Hindi is the only language that can unify the country and the language needs to be promoted.
Why he said so?
- It is important to have a language of the whole country which should become the identity of India globally. Hindi can unite the country since it is the most spoken language.
- There is a huge influence of English on the citizens of India. Loss of languages due to foreign influence is a cultural issue. A language can survive only if the new generation feels proud in speaking it. Hence, Hindi should be promoted.
Why this may not be a good idea?
India is a country of unity in diversity and has never banked on one language for its existence.
- According to Census-2011, only 60% of total Hindi-speakers speak the native Hindi dialect. Only 26% have native Hindi as their mother tongue.
- The people of non-Hindi speaking states fear that the plan to promote Hindi might make them secondary citizens and undermine the country’s integrity.
According to Article-343, Hindi (in Devanagari script) is the official language of the Union.
Under Article-351, it is the duty of the Union to encourage the spread of the Hindi language so that it may serve as a medium of communication.
India is a nation of many cultures and traditions and home to a heterogeneous people speaking many languages and their dialects. Their cultural identities are not to be submerged in this overtly political move to promote Hindi as a national language.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key highlights of the package.
For Mains: Why the economy is slowing down, need for reforms and ways to address the challenge?
Context: Centre has announced a third set of government decisions to revive the economy. The new package aims to boost exports and revive a housing sector.
The decisions follow two previous mega announcements to encourage private sector investment and to bring further stability into the banking system through several public sector bank mergers.
For housing sector:
- Special window to provide last-mile funding for stalled housing projects.
- Who can avail special window? Non-NPA (Non Performing Assets) and non-NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) projects and worth positive in affordable and middle income category.
- Funding: The government may contribute to the Rs 10,000 crore fund for the special window. The rest of the funds will be from the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and other institutions and private capital from banks, sovereign funds, etc.
- External commercial borrowing (ECB) guidelines will be relaxed to facilitate financing of home buyers who are eligible under the PMAY, in consultation with RBI.
Measures for exports sector:
- It came in six different silos and covered steps that would address comprehensively tax and duties refunds for exporters; improve credit flow to the export sector and launch of a special free trade agreement (FTA) utilisation mission.
- India will also now host annual mega shopping festivals in 4 places.
- A new attractive scheme for remission of duties or taxes on export product (RoDTEP) to replace the existing Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) from January 1 next year.
Definition of affordable housing:
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the definition of affordable housing is categorised into three parts, as per the minimum area of habitation.
- For the Economically Weaker Section, affordable housing is defined with an area of habitation between 300-500 sq ft. The Lower Income Groups have a minimum area of 500-600 sq ft, while Middle Income Groups are allotted between 600-1,200 sq ft.
Without enacting any major supply-side reforms like land and labour reforms that can raise potential growth, it is hard to see how greater spending can raise growth for very long.
- The government may believe that the present slowdown, marked by five consecutive quarters of dropping growth, is merely a cyclical one.
- But given the size of its victory in two consecutive elections, the government should aim higher by trying to push through long-pending structural reforms that can raise India’s growth trajectory to the next level.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
What to study?
For Prelims: Which states have announced loan waivers in Recent past?
For Mains: Need for, challenges and the best way out.
Context: The report of an Internal Working Group (IWG), set up by RBI in February, has been released.
The group was set up to look at, among other things, the impact of farm loan waivers on state finances.
Since 2014-15, many state governments have announced farm loan waivers for a variety of reasons including relieving distressed farmers struggling with lower incomes in the wake of repeated droughts and demonetisation, and the timing of elections.
Several observers of the economy including the RBI warned against the use of farm loan waivers.
- Farm loan waivers have dented state finances.
- In the past five years, just a handful of states have already waived three-times the amount waived by the central government in 2008-09.
- The actual waivers peaked in 2017-18 — in the wake of demonetisation and its adverse impact on farm incomes — and amounted to almost 12 per cent of the states’ fiscal deficit.
- A farm loan waiver by the government implies that the government settles the private debt that a farmer owes to a bank. But doing so eats into the government’s resources.
- This leads to one of following two things: either the concerned government’s fiscal deficit (or, in other words, total borrowing from the market) goes up or it has to cut down its expenditure.
- A higher fiscal deficit, even if it is at the state level, implies that the amount of money available for lending to private businesses — both big and small — will be lower.
- It also means the cost at which this money would be lent (or the interest rate) would be higher. If fresh credit is costly, there will be fewer new companies, and less job creation.
- Governments — both central and state — should avoid resorting to farm loan waivers.
- Governments should undertake a holistic review of the agricultural policies and their implementation.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of current subsidy policies with regard to agri inputs and credit in a manner which will improve the overall viability of agriculture in a sustainable manner.
These findings imply that farm loan waivers, as such, are not considered prudent because they hurt overall economic growth apart from ruining the credit culture in the economy since they incentivise defaulters and penalise those who pay back their loans.
Besides, state-level finances are just as important as the central government finances for India’s macroeconomic stability and future economic growth.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key facts on Montreal protocol and Ozone day.
For Mains: Significance of the Ozone layer and the need for protection.
Context: The International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer (or World Ozone Day) is observed every year on September 16 for the preservation of the Ozone Layer.
World Ozone Day 2019 Theme: 32 Years and Healing.
Significance of the day:
In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
What you need to know about the Ozone layer?
- Absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet light which is harmful to human life and other life forms.
- Absorbs about 97 to 99% of ultraviolet rays and maintain the ozone-oxygen cycle.
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer:
- Designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer.
- The original Montreal Protocol was agreed on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.
- The Protocol includes a unique adjustment provision that enables the Parties to the Protocol to respond quickly to new scientific information and agree to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol.
- These adjustments are then automatically applicable to all countries that ratified the Protocol.
Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform).
Sources: the hindu.
Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
What to study?
For Prelims and mains: The list, composition, need for and significance.
Context: The Centre has removed from the Central Adverse List names of few foreign nationals involved in anti-India activities.
What is Central Adverse List?
It is a list maintained by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The list contains:
- Names of individuals who supported the Khalistan movement in 1980s and 90s but left India to take asylum in foreign countries.
- Names of those individuals who are suspected to have links with terrorist outfitsor have violated visa norms in their previous visit to India.
- Names of those persons who have indulged in criminal activities or have been accused of sexual crimes against children in their respective countries.
The list is not restricted to Punjab or the Khalistan movement.
How is it used?
Used by all Indian Missions and Consulates to stop the individuals named in it from entering India. This is done by not granting visa to such persons. It is a step taken by the Indian government to maintain internal security.
Used to keep serious offenders outside India as somebody may commit a crime in his native nation and then apply for an Indian visa to escape prosecution.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Him Vijay Exercise:
Context: Indian Armed Forces are planning to deploy their latest American weapons systems including M777 ultra-light howitzers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in the war games to be carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, close to borders with China.
Codenamed HimVijay, this exercise planned by India in the northeast will mainly test the war fighting abilities of the newly-raised 17 Mountain Strike Corps in Arunachal Pradesh. The exercise will also involve the Indian Air Force (IAF) which would provide the aerial elements for the real war-type drills.
UN Mission in support of the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA):
UN Secretary recently announced the appointment of Abhijit Guha, a retired Indian lieutenant general as the head of the UN mission in Hodeidah, Yemen.
Roles: Besides leading the UN Mission in support of the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), Guha will be also assume chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), tasked with redeploying forces of the Yemeni warring parties in accordance with their agreement.
- On 16 January 2019, the UN decided to establish United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA).
- It is a special mission to oversee governorate-wide ceasefire, mine action operation and redeployment of forces.
- It was authorised for an initial period of 6 months to lead and support functioning of Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), assisted by a secretariat staffed by UN personnel.
The Indian Navy and Malaysian Navy had recently participated in the bilateral exercise ‘Samudra Laksamana’.
Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) system:
This is a project undertaken by the DoT for addressing security, theft and other concerns including reprogramming of mobile handsets.
Objectives of the project:
- Blocking of lost/stolen mobile phones across mobile networks thus discouraging theft of mobile phones.
- Facilitate in tracing of such reported lost/stolen mobile phones.
- Prevention of mobile devices with duplicate and fake IMEIs in the network.
- Curtail the use of counterfeit mobile devices.
- Reduced health risks to the users with the control of use of counterfeit mobile phones.
- Improved QoS and reduced call drops with reduction in use of counterfeit mobile devices.
It is a travelling exhibition arranged by Regional Outreach Bureau, Pune under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It is a Travelling Exhibition on Jalshakti Abhiyan.
Jal Shakti Abhiyan is a collaborative effort of various Ministries of the Government of India and State Governments, being coordinated by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
- It is a time-bound, mission-mode campaign that would focus on 1,592 “water-stressed” blocks in 257 districts.
- The campaign will run through citizen participationduring the monsoon season, from 1st July, 2019 to 15th September, 2019.
Also known as Tiger Dance, it is a folk art of Kerala, performed on the fourth day of Onam festival.
Artists wear a tiger mask, paint their bodies like tigers and dance to the rhythm of traditional percussion instruments such as thakil, udukku and chenda.