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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 18 March 2021

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically. 

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Appropriation Bill gets the nod of Lok Sabha.

2. Demarcate how amici curiae can help: SG tells top court.

3. MMDR Amendment Bill, 2021.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Universal basic income.

2. Don’t privatise Railways, says Opposition.

 

GS Paper 4:

1. Who will police the police, asks Haryana court.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Central Motor Vehicles (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2021.

 


GS Paper  :  1


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Appropriation Bill gets the nod of Lok Sabha:


Context:

The Lok Sabha has cleared the Appropriation Bill, allowing the Central government to draw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India for its operational requirements and implementation of various programmes.

  • The Bill was passed after Speaker Om Birla put it through guillotine, a legislative mechanism to approve the fast-tracking of the passage of outstanding demands for grants without discussion.

What is Appropriation Bill?

  • Appropriation Bill is a money bill that allows the government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet its expenses during the course of a financial year.
  • As per article 114 of the Constitution, the government can withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund only after receiving approval from Parliament.
  • To put it simply, the Finance Bill contains provisions on financing the expenditure of the government, and Appropriation Bill specifies the quantum and purpose for withdrawing money.

 Procedure followed:

  1. The government introduces the Appropriation Bill in the lower house of Parliament after discussions on Budget proposals and Voting on Demand for Grants.
  2. The Appropriation Bill is first passed by the Lok Sabha and then sent to the Rajya Sabha.
  3. The Rajya Sabha has the power to recommend any amendments in this Bill. However, it is the prerogative of the Lok Sabha to either accept or reject the recommendations made by the upper house of Parliament.
  4. The unique feature of the Appropriation Bill is its automatic repeal clause, whereby the Act gets repealed by itself after it meets its statutory purpose.

What happens when the bill is defeated?

Since India subscribes to the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, the defeat of an Appropriation Bill (and also the Finance Bill) in a parliamentary vote would necessitate resignation of a government or a general election. This has never happened in India till date, though.

Scope of discussion:

  • The scope of discussion is limited to matters of public importance or administrative policy implied in the grants covered by the Bill and which have not already been raised during the discussion on demands for grants.
  • The Speaker may require members desiring to take part in the discussion to give advance intimation of the specific points they intend to raise and may withhold permission for raising such of the points as in his opinion appear to be repetition of the matters discussed on a demand for grant.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Appropriation vs Finance bills- similarities and differences.
  2. Scope of discussion and amendments to appropriation bill.
  3. Powers of Rajya Sabha wrt to Appropriation Bill vs role of speaker.
  4. Procedure to be followed while passing appropriation bill vs financial bills.
  5. Consolidated vs Contingency funds.
  6. Guillotine- applicability and implications.
  7. Components of annual financial statement.

Mains Link:

Differentiate between appropriation bill and finance bill under Article 110 of the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Demarcate how amicus curiae can help: SG tells top court:


Context:

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has made a strong appeal to the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to rein in lawyers appointed as the court’s amici curiae in various cases, especially sensitive ones.

Need for guidelines:

  • Court-appointed amici curiae are stepping beyond their assigned role. They tend to even interfere in the “running” of organisations such as the CBI.
  • In some cases, they are even running the administration or dictating the executive.

Who is an amicus curiae?

Amicus Curiae, which literally translates as friend of the court, is a neutral lawyer appointed by the court to assist it in cases which require specific expertise.

  • They are advocates appointed to assist the court in adjudication of important cases.

Roles and functions:

  • India, thus, if a petition is received from the jail or in any other criminal matter if the accused is unrepresented, then, an Advocate is appointed as amicus curiae by the Court to defend and argue the case of the accused.
  • In civil matters also the Court can appoint an Advocate as amicus curiae if it thinks it necessary in case of an unrepresented party.
  • The Court can also appoint amicus curiae in any matter of general public importance or in which the interest of the public at large is involved.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who can be an amicus curiae?
  2. Roles and responsibilities.
  3. Guidelines by Supreme Court in this regard.

Mains Link:

Discuss the roles and functions of Amicus Curiae.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

MMDR Amendment Bill, 2021:


Context:

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 introduced in Lok Sabha.

  • The Bill amends the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

Highlights of the Bill:

Removal of restriction on end-use of minerals: The Bill provides that no mine will be reserved for particular end-use.

Sale of minerals by captive mines: The Bill provides that captive mines (other than atomic minerals) may sell up to 50% of their annual mineral production in the open market after meeting their own needs.   The central government may increase this threshold through a notification.

Auction by the central government in certain cases: The Bill empowers the central government to specify a time period for completion of the auction process in consultation with the state government.  If the state government is unable to complete the auction process within this period, the auctions may be conducted by the central government.

Transfer of statutory clearances: The Bill provides that transferred statutory clearances will be valid throughout the lease period of the new lessee.

Allocation of mines with expired leases: The Bill says that mines (other than coal, lignite, and atomic minerals), whose lease has expired, may be allocated to a government company in certain cases. The state government may grant a lease for such a mine to a government company for a period of up to 10 years or until the selection of a new lessee, whichever is earlier.

Significance:

  • This will speed up the process of implementation of projects, ease of doing business, simplification of procedure and benefit all the parties in areas where minerals are located.
  • It will create an efficient energy market and bring in more competition as well as reduce coal imports. India imported 235 million tonnes (mt) of coal last year, of which 135 mt valued at Rs 171,000 crore could have been met from domestic reserves.
  • It might also put an end to Coal India Ltd’s monopoly in the sector.
  • It would also help India gain access to high-end technology for underground mining used by miners across the globe.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are major and minor minerals?
  2. How they are regulated?
  3. Who grants permissions?

Mains Link:

Write a note on Mines and Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Employment related issues.

Universal basic income:


Context:

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has released the Trinamool Congress manifesto for the 2021 Assembly election.

  • The manifesto, among other things, promises universal basic income for every family.

As per the announcement:

  • Under the income scheme, all the 1.6 crore families under the general category will get ₹500 a month and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population ₹1,000 a month.
  • The direct transfers will be in the name of the women head of the family.

What is Universal Basic Income?

It is a programme for providing all citizens of a geographic area (a country or state) with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status.

  • The main idea behind UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens.
  • The essential principle behind Universal basic income is the idea that all citizens are entitled to a livable income, irrespective of the circumstances they’re born in.

UBI has the following important components:

  1. Universality (all citizens included).
  2. unconditionality (no prior condition).
  3. Periodic (Payments at periodic regular intervals).
  4. Payments in cash (not food vouchers or service coupons).

Benefits of Universal Basic Income (UBI):

  1. Provide secured income to individuals.
  2. Reduce poverty and income inequality in society.
  3. Increase the purchasing power of every poor which will further increase aggregate demand.
  4. Easy to implement because no identification of the beneficiary is involved.
  5. Reduce the wastage of government money because its implementation is very simple.

Supporters of the idea:

  • The Economic Survey of India 2016-17 has advocated the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty.
  • Other Supporters of the UBI programme include Economics Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides, and tech leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

Challenges in Implementing Universal Basic Income in India:

  • High cost involved in implementing UBI is a major factor contributing towards lack of political will in working towards the universal basic income in India.
  • It would reduce the motivation for work and might encourage people to live off assured cash transfers and it is simply unaffordable.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Components of UBI.

Mains Link:

Examine the arguments in favour and against introduction of universal basic income in India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Railways.

Don’t privatise Railways, says Opposition:


Context:

Opposition parties severely criticised the Modi government for concentrating their efforts in ‘privatising’ the Railways in the last seven years.

The Concern:

  • The Opposition leaders said privatisation of various railway infrastructure would only benefit corporates and loss of revenue for the railways, pushing it to the brink like the Air India and the Indian Airlines. It would also mean rise in fares.
  • Besides, privatisation did not always mean improvement in efficiency. The catering services were privatised almost two decades back yet there were complaints from passengers.

Recommendations by Bibek Debroy Committee:

The Bibek Debroy Committee, which was set up to suggest ways to mobilise resources for the Indian Railways and restructure the Railway Board, had favoured privatisation of rolling stock: wagons and coaches.

Rail Privatisation:

Pros:

Improved Infrastructure– It will lead to better infrastructure which in turn would lead to improved amenities for travellers.

Balancing Quality of Service with High Fares–  The move would foster competition and hence lead to overall betterment in the quality of services.

Lesser Accidents–  Because private ownership is synonymous with better maintenance, supporters of privatisation feel that it will reduce the number of accidents, thus resulting in safe travel and higher monetary savings in the long run.

Cons:

Coverage Limited to Lucrative Sectors – An advantage of Indian Railways being government- owned is that it provides nation-wide connectivity irrespective of profit. This would not be possible with privatisation since routes which are less popular will be eliminated, thus having a negative impact on connectivity. It will also render some parts of the country virtually inaccessible and omit them from the process of development.

Fares –  Given that a private enterprise runs on profit, it is but natural to assume that the easiest way of accruing profits in Indian Railways would be to hike fares, thus rendering the service out of reach for lower income groups. This will defeat the entire purpose of the system which is meant to serve the entire population of the country irrespective of the level of income.

Accountability –  Private companies are unpredictable in their dealings and do not share their governance secrets with the world at large. In such a scenario it would be difficult to pin the accountability on a particular entity, should there be a discrepancy.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. When were Railway and General budgets merged?
  2. India’s first private train.
  3. Bibrek Debroy Committee is related to?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of privatisation of railways and challenges involved therein.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  :  4


 

Topics Covered: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance.

Who will police the police, asks Haryana court:


Context:

A Court in Haryana has acquitted washerman in a bicycle theft case and said ‘botched-up probe’ has shaken court’s conscience.

  • It has also recommended stringent action against the erring policemen.

What’s the case?

In a bicycle theft case, a police officer manipulated the entire police system and investigating authorities to settle personal vengeance against an innocent person.

What’s the concern?

It was an exemplary case of an “absolute ill-motivated” and “botched-up investigation”, where some police officers misused their powers to harass an innocent person for the simple reason that he dared to file a complaint against one of their colleagues and succeeded in getting the officer punished by a court of law.

  • This leads this court to a certain question, who will police the police and what will happen if the protectors of society and law themselves behave in a manner which cannot be termed less than illegal?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Central Motor Vehicles (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2021:

Context: Released recently.

As per the rules:

  • Automakers may face fines of up to ₹1 crore from April 1 for defects in vehicles they fail to voluntarily flag.
  • A recall of more than six lakh two-wheelers, one lakh-plus four-wheelers and more than three lakh three-wheelers and quadricycles would attract a penalty of up to ₹1 crore.
  • For recalling up to 6,000 two-wheelers, a manufacturer would have to pay up to ₹10 lakh.
  • For two-wheelers, with annual sales of up to 3,000 units, the government would order mandatory recall if 20% of vehicle owners report an identical problem.
  • For those with up to 6,000 units in yearly sales, there would be a recall if the complaints equal 11% to 30% of total sales.
  • The threshold for passenger buses and trucks is 3% of annual sales.

 


Articles to be covered tomorrow:


  1. Serious issue if 3 cr. ration cards were cancelled, says SC.
  2. NRIC.

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