Polity: Booklet-B  

Lateral entry into civil services

Lateral entry into civil services

  • Context: The Centre asked Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to submit proposals on allowing lateral entry from academia and the private sector at the joint secretary level.

Benefit of Lateral entry

  • Lateral entry is necessary to push the IAS out of their comfort zone and challenge them.
  • To bring in sector specific expertise in the public functioning.
  • Shortage of officers: The Basawan Committee (2016) had pointed out that the bigger states like Bihar, MP and Rajasthan have a deficit of over 75 to 100 officers. Lateral induction is, therefore, being seen as a small step towards essential housekeeping in central government staffing.
  • Shift from uniformity of centrally planned economic policy to diverse demands of competitive federalism requires specialized skills and knowledge for informed policy making.

Example of lateral entry: C. Rangarajan as governor of RBI
Constitutional provisions related to Civil servants

  • Article 309 of Constitution "Recruitment and conditions of service of persons serving the Union or a State.
  • Article 310 deals with the tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State.
  • Any member of a defence service or of a civil service of the Union or of an all India service holds office during the pleasure of the President.
  • Every person who is a member of a civil service of a State or holds any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor of the State.
  • Article 311 deals with Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
  • Member of a civil service of the Union or an all India service or a civil service of a State or any person who holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall not be dismissed or removed by a authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.
  • Above mentioned civil servants shall not be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges. This clause shall not apply.
  • Where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on a criminal charge; or
  • Where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank ins satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry; or
  • Where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State, it is not expedient to hold such inquiry
  • The decision thereon of the authority empowered to dismiss or remove such person or to reduce him in rank shall be final.

Article 312

  • If the Council of States has declared by resolution supported by not less than two thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest so to do, Parliament may by law provide for the creation of one or more all India services (including an all India judicial service) common to the Union and the States.
Organic food products

Organic food products

Context: Food regulator FSSAI has come out with a draft regulation for organic food products, seeking to ensure that these food items are actually organic.

What is organic food?

  • Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming.
  • Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general features practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Benefits of organic food

  • Organic produce contains fewer pesticides.
  • Organic food is often fresher because it doesn't contain preservatives that make it last longer
  • Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices
    • reduce pollution
    • conserve water
    • reduce soil erosion
    • increase soil fertility
    • use less energy
  • Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.
  • Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts. Thus anti biotic resistance could not develop in humans
  • Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
  • Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.
NRIs permitted to vote through proxy

NRIs permitted to vote through proxy

Context:

  • Cabinet approve the proposal to amend the electoral laws to allow NRIs to vote in the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections through a proxy.
  • Earlier, this was permitted only to service personnel.

Proxy voting for defence personnels

  • Armed forced can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf.

Proxy voting for NRIs

  • Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election - one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter.

Challenges with proxy voting

  • Violates right to equality : It gives special privilege to person who have migrated abroad but not to people who have domestically migrated.
  • Difficulty in checking illegal practices
  • Violates the principle of secrecy of voting

Arguments in favor

  • Citizens have a democratic right to choose their legislators irrespective of their place of residency.
  • Policies at home country also impact the NRIs. Therefore they should be provided with proper mechanism for voting.
  • With the rapid increase in cross-border migrations, the concept of nationhood and political membership is increasingly being decoupled from territorial locations.
Delimitation of constituencies

Delimitation of constituencies

Context:

  • India might need a new building for Parliament altogether due to the likely increase in number of seats in both Houses after the lifting of the freeze imposed by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976, which is due in 2026.
  • Issue will arise about how these additional seats will be allocated to the States, and how to address the differential interstate population growth concerns which necessitated the freezing of the allocation of seats on the basis of the 1971 Census figures.
  • The Home Ministry has proposed an increase in the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40.

Delimitation provision and its background in India

  • Article 82 (Readjustment after each census) makes provision for delimitation of the electoral boundaries. It is the process of allocation of number of Seats and their demarcation into territories.
  • Under Article 82, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census.
  • Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission.
  • This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.
  • Delimitation commissions have been set up four times in the past viz. 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under Delimitation Commission acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • Delimitation in the J&K is done under the state constitution.

Purpose of delimitation

  • To maintain Population-Seat ratio within the state and throughout the Union. In other words to rationalize the structure and composition of the electoral constituencies, on the principle of " One vote and one value".

Ban on Delimitation

  • The 42nd Amendment Act 1976 had put a ban on any further delimitation of the Constituencies till the year 2000.
  • So after the 42nd amendment act 1976, the total number of seats in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha has remained the same.
  • Reason for such ban were
  • To prevent the states to get more seats in the Lok Sabha on the basis of a large population.
  • So, indirectly this was done so that states may not be biased towards the family planning measures.

Delimitation and 84th Amendment Act 2002

  • Freeze the fresh delimitation till 2026. This was based upon the calculations of the population planners that by 2026 India will be able to stabilize the population.
  • Allowed to readjust the seats : it was also decided to undertake readjustment and rationalization of territorial constituencies in the States, without altering the number of seats allotted to each State in the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the States, including the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes constituencies.
  • Base year : This readjustment of seats was done on the basis of the population ascertained at the census for the year 1991. This was done Because .
  • To remove the imbalance caused due to uneven growth of population/electorate in different constituencies.
  • The year 1991 was later altered to 2001 by 87th amendment act 2003.

About Delimitation commission in India

  • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
  • It is a statutory body.
  • Composition: consists of the Chief Election Commissioner of India and two judges of Supreme Court or any of the High Courts in India.
  • The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible.
Making India hub of  arbitration

Making India hub of arbitration

Context:

  • The High-Level Committee to review the institutionalization of arbitration mechanism and suggest reforms has recently submitted its report.
  • This High Level Committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N.Srikrishna, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India.

Benefits of efficient arbitration process

  • Minimize court intervention
  • Bring down costs of conflict resolution
  • It fix timelines for expeditious disposal
  • It also ensure neutrality of arbitrator and enforcement of awards.
  • Encourage foreign investment
  • Improve ease of doing business

Present legal statute dealing with arbitration in India

  • The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015.
  • International Centre for Alternate Dispute Redressal(ICADR).

Recommendation of committee

  • Setting up of an autonomous body called Arbitration Promotion Council of India(APCI), having representatives from all the stakeholders for grading arbitral institutions in India.
  • National Litigation Policy must promote arbitration in government contracts.
  • Declare the ICADR as an Institution of national importance.
  • Create the post of 'International Law Advisor' (ILA) to advise the Government and coordinate dispute resolution strategy for the Government in disputes arising out of its international law obligations, particularly disputes arising out of BITs.

About ICADR

  • It is an autonomous organization with its headquarters at New Delhi.
  • The Regional Centres of ICADR are fully funded and supported by the respective State Governments.
  • It was set up by the Department of Legal Affairs as an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • The Minister for Law & Justice is the Chairman of ICADR.
  • Objective: To popularise and propagate Alternative Dispute Resolution to facilitate early resolution of disputes to reduce the burden of arrears in the Courts.
Co-operatives in India

Co-operatives in India

  • Cooperative Movement in India is one of the biggest cooperative movements in the World with over 8 Lakh Cooperative Societies in India.
  • About cooperative
  • A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
  • Cooperatives as business enterprise possess some basic interests such as ownership and control but these interests are directly vested in the hands of the user.
  • Therefore, the need for profitability is balanced by the needs of the members and the wider interest of the community.

Constitutional Provisions :

The 97th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2011 gave a constitutional status and protection to co-operative societies. In this context, it made the following three changes in the constitution:

  • It made the right to form co-operative societies a fundamental right (Article 191).
  • It included a new Directive Principle of State Policy on promotion of cooperative societies (Article 43-B2).
  • It added a new Part IX-B in the Constitution which is entitled "The Cooperative Societies" (Articles 243-ZH to 243-ZT).
Bureau of Indian standard Act, 2016.jpg

Bureau of Indian standard Act, 2016

Why in News?

Recently the Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 was brought into force which repealed the existing Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.

Key Features of the BIS Act 2016

It establishes Bureau of Indian Standards as National Standards Body of India to formulate, implement and certify certain standards of quality for goods, services, articles, processes and systems.

E-SAMIKSHA

E-SAMIKSHA

What is it?

  • It is a online monitoring and compliance mechanism for tracking the progress on projects and policy initiatives on a real-time basis.

Benefits

  • E-Samiksha portal is designed
  • to enhance efficiency
  • to bring transparency
  • to increase accountability
  • to improve the communication between Government to Government, Business to Government and vice versa
Meghalaya social audit law

Meghalaya social audit law

  • Meghalaya became the first state in India to operationalise a social audit law- 'The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017'.

What is social audit?

  • Social audit is a process of reviewing official records and determining whether state reported expenditures reflect the actual money spent on the ground.

Objectives of Social Audit

  • To assess the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources available for local development.
  • Creating awareness among beneficiaries and providers of local social and productive services.
  • Increasing efficacy and effectiveness of local development programmes.
  • Scrutiny of various policy decisions, keeping in view stakeholder's interests and priorities, particularly of rural poor.
  • Estimation of the opportunity cost for stakeholders of not getting timely access to public services.

Benefits of social audit

  • Brings in transparency in governance
  • Held public servants accountable
  • Reduce corruption
  • Empower common masses
  • Leads to increase in efficiency and productivity in government expenditure

Social Audit in India

  • In India, social audits were first made statutory in a 2005 Rural Employment Act and government also issued the Social Audit Rules in 2011 under the MGNREGA Act.
  • Important Facts about Social Audit:
  • Social audits are generally supervised by autonomous bodies consisting of government and nongovernment representatives.
  • The 73rd Amendment of the Constitution empowered the Gram Sabhas to conduct Social Audits in addition to other functions.
  • CAG not empowered to conduct Accounting Audit of PRIs in the whole country.
  • There is no central policy or regulation making accounting audit and social audit mandatory.

About social audit councils

  • It lay down a systematic audit practices.
  • It advise the State Government on all matters concerning the implementation of this Act.
  • It review the monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism from time to time and recommend improvements required.
  • It prepare annual reports to be laid before the Assembly by the State Government on the status of the implementation of the programmes and schemes.
North east rural livelihood project

North east rural livelihood project

What is it?

  • It is a central sector externally aided multi-state project which was launched in 2012 with World Bank assistance
  • It is being implemented in four states - Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim with an aim of assisting over 10,000 Self Help Groups
  • The project has four major components namely -
  • Social empowerment
  • Economic empowerment
  • Partnership development management
  • Project Management

Objective:

  • To improve rural livelihood, especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged.
  • Capacity building for self-governance, bottom up planning, democratic functioning with transparency and accountability.
  • Increasing economic and livelihood opportunities especially tribal and non-tribal groups in remote areas.
  • Developing partnership of community institutions for natural resource management, microfinance, market linkages etc.
Two tier security for Aadhaar

Two tier security for Aadhaar

Context:

  • In the wake of a report of an alleged breach of the Aadhaar database published in a newspaper, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has rolled out a new two-tier security process that will come into effect from June 1.

Two tier system

  • Virtual ID:
  • An Aadhaar holder can use vitual ID in lieu of his/her Aadhaar number at the time of authentication, besides sharing of 'limited KYC' with certain agencies.
  • It is a 16 digit temporary number (like an OTP) which can only generated by Aadhaar holders in place of Aadhaar numbers to validate their identity.
  • Limited KYC:
  • To address the issue of storage of Aadhaar number within various databases, the UIDAI has brought in the concept of limited KYC.
  • It has categorised its AUAs into Global AUAs and Local AUAs
  • Global AUAs: Agencies whose services, by law, require them to store the Aadhaar number will be qualified as Global AUAs and will enjoy access to full demographic details of an individual along with the ability to store Aadhaar numbers within their system.
  • Local AUAs:
  • They will neither get access to full KYC, nor can they store the Aadhaar number on their systems.
  • Instead, they will get a tokenised number issued by UIDAI to identify their customers.
  • UID token will be a unique 72-character alphanumeric string for each Aadhaar number for each particular AUA entity.
Bharat ke veer

Bharat ke veer

What is it?

  • It is a web portal and mobile application to enable people to contribute towards family of martyrs from central paramilitary forces.
  • This online donation platform is technically supported by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and powered by State Bank of India (SBI).
  • Beneficiary: The amount so donated through it will be credited to the account of 'Next of Kin' of those Central Armed Police Force or Central Para Military Force soldiers.
  • To ensure maximum coverage, a cap of Rs. 15 lakh is imposed on donation and donors will be alerted if amount exceeds, so they can choose to divert par t of the donation to another account or the corpus.
  • Bharat Ke Veer corpus will be managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior Government officials. The committee will decide to disbursement of fund equitably to braveheart's family on need basis.
Ancient monument sites bill

Ancient monument sites bill

  • The Bill amends the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • Construction in 'prohibited areas': The Act defines a 'prohibited area' as an area of 100 meters around a protected monument or area.
  • Rationale of the amendment: To meet the demand of expanding urbanization.
  • UNESCO world heritage sites in India

Cultural (28)

  1. Agra Fort (1983)
  2. Ajanta Caves (1983)
  3. Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)
  4. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
  5. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
  6. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)
  7. Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
  8. Elephanta Caves (1987)
  9. Ellora Caves (1983)
  10. Fatehpur Sikri (1986)
  11. Great Living Chola Temples (1987,2004)
  12. Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
  13. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
  14. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
  15. Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013)
  16. Historic City of Ahmadabad (2017)
  17. Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  18. Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
  19. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
  20. Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008)
  21. Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)
  22. Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen's Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014)
  23. Red Fort Complex (2007)
  24. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
  25. Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)
  26. Taj Mahal (1983)
  27. The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)
  28. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)

Natural (7)

  1. Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
  2. Kaziranga National Park (1985)
  3. Keoladeo National Park (1985)
  4. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
  5. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988,2005)
  6. Sundarbans National Park (1987)
  7. Western Ghats (2012)

Mixed (1)

  1. Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)
Delimitation of constituencies

Global Democracy Index

Why in news?

  • India world's largest democracy was ranked 42nd among 165 independent states on annual 2017 Global Democracy Index (GDI).
  • India's rank has slipped from 32nd in 2016 GDI.

About the index

  • The index ranks 165 independent states and 2 territories on basis of 60 indicators grouped in five different categories viz.
  • electoral process and pluralism
  • civil liberties
  • the functioning of government
  • political participation and political culture.
  • It categories countries into four broad categories viz.
  • full democracy
  • flawed democracy
  • hybrid regime
  • authoritarian regime
  • based on their score on a scale from 0 to 10.
  • It is released by Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU), a research and analysis division of UK- based media behemoth The Economist Group
Zero hunger programmee

Zero hunger programmee

What is it?

  • It is India's ambitious programme to achieve Zero Hunger through interventions in farm sector will be launched on occasion of World Food Day.
  • It will be initiated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in association with
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),
  • The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
  • The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • The concerned state governments will also be involved in the programme

Why in News?

  • Three districts --Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha and Thane in Maharashtra- have been chosen for its launch

Strategy

  • It will focus on agriculture, health and nutrition in a symbiotic manner to develop an integrated approach to deal with hunger & malnutrition.
  • It will consist of organising farming systems for nutrition, setting up genetic gardens for biofortified plants crops and initiation of a `Zero Hunger' training
  • There will be intensive training programme in order to identify the nutritional maladies in each district and the appropriate agricultural/horticultural and animal husbandry remedies.
  • It will work in addition to the government's other plans to make India malnutrition free by 2022 and attaining the SDG (No. 2) for 'Zero Hunger'.
Private member bill

Private member bill

Provision

  • Members of Parliament other than ministers are called private members and bills presented by them are known as private member's bills.
  • A private member bill can be introduced by both ruling party and opposition MPs.
  • They can introduce a bill in the parliament after giving prior notice of one month.
  • The bill needs to be passed in both houses of parliament.
  • Once passed in both the houses, bill needs to get assent of the president to become an act.
  • By set tradition, President can easily exercise his absolute veto power against such bills.
  • In Lok Sabha, the last two and a half hours of a sitting on every Friday are generally allotted for transaction of "Private Members' Business", i.e., Private Members' Bills and Private Members' Resolutions.

Facts

  • Only 14 private members bill have been passed by both Houses and become law in the history of Indian Parliament.
Article 35A of Indian constitution

Article 35A of Indian constitution

Why in News?

  • Four petitions against Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is being heard by the Supreme Court that say that this constitutional provision violates the fundamental rights including the right to equality.

What is it?

  • It empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define "permanent residents" of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
  • This discrimination by state government does not attract a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution.
  • A woman from outside the state shall became a permanent resident on marrying a male permanent resident of the state but a daughter who is born state subject will lose the right on marrying an outsider.
  • It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370(1) (d) of the Constitution and not by the parliament.
  • The Article bars non-J&K state subjects to settle and buy property in J&K.

Facts

  • Article 370 in Part XXI of the Constitution grants a special status to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). According to it all the provisions of the Constitution of India do not apply to J&K.
  • J&K is also the only state in the Indian Union which has its own separate state Constitution.
  • Part IV (dealing with Directive Principles of State Policy) and Part IVA (dealing with Fundamental Duties) are not applicable to J&K.
NABARD amendment bill, 2017

NABARD amendment bill, 2017

What is NABARD?

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex development financial institution in India.
  • It is headquartered at Mumbai with branches all over India.
  • NABARD was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaraman Committee.
  • It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).
  • It is a statutory body created by NABARD act,1981.
  • Functions:
  • Serves as an apex financing agency for the institutions providing investment and production credit for promoting the various developmental activities in rural areas.
  • Takes measures towards institution building for improving absorptive capacity of the credit delivery system, including monitoring, formulation of rehabilitation schemes, restructuring of credit institutions, training of personnel, etc.
  • Co-ordinates the rural financing activities of all institutions engaged in developmental work at the field level and maintains liaison with Government of India, state governments, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other national level institutions concerned with policy formulation.
  • Undertakes monitoring and evaluation of projects refinanced by it.
  • NABARD refinances the financial institutions which finances the rural sector.
  • NABARD partakes in development of institutions which help the rural economy.
  • NABARD also keeps a check on its client institutes.
  • It regulates the institutions which provide financial help to the rural economy.
  • It provides training facilities to the institutions working in the field of rural upliftment.
  • It regulates the cooperative banks and the RRB's

Highlight of the Bill

  • Increase in capital of NABARD: Bill allows the central government to increase its capital from Rs 5000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. The capital may be increased to more than Rs 30,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the RBI, if necessary.
  • Transfer of the RBI's share to the central government: The Bill transfers the share capital held by the RBI and valued at Rs 20 crore to the central government.
  • Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME): The Bill includes terms 'micro enterprise', 'small enterprise' and 'medium enterprise' as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006.
  • Consistency with the Companies Act, 2013: The Bill substitutes references to provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 under the NABARD Act, 1981, with references to the Companies Act, 2013.
NOTA in Rajya sabha elections

NOTA in Rajya sabha elections

Why in news?

The Supreme Court ruled that the 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option introduced by the Election Commission three years ago, would stay put for the Rajya Sabha elections 2017.

How does the NOTA work in RS elections?

  • In Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.
  • If a voter (MLA) defies the party directive and votes for someone else or uses NOTA option, he cannot be disqualified as a legislator.
  • But the party is free to take disciplinary action including expulsion. The defiant voter can continue to be an MLA and his vote can also not be invalidated for defying party directions.

Composition of Rajya Sabha

  • Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250,
  • Out of which 12 members are nominated by the President
  • 238 are representatives of the States and of the two Union Territories.
  • The present strength of Rajya Sabha, however, is 245,
  • out of which 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry
  • 12 are nominated by the President.
  • The members nominated by the President are persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.

Eligibility

  • Article 84 of the Constitution lays down the qualifications for membership of Parliament. A person to be qualified for the membership of the Rajya Sabha should posses the following qualifications:
  • he must be a citizen of India
  • he must be not less than 30 years of age
  • he must possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed in that behalf by or under any law made by Parliament.

Other facts about Rajya sabha election

  • Any person, who is registered as an elector anywhere in India can now be elected from a Rajya Sabha seat in any state or union territory.
  • Rajys sabha election are conducted by the open ballot system
  • The candidates are elected by the Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation.
National Human Rights Commission

National Human Rights Commission

The Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is an autonomous public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.It was given a statutory basis by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993

Composition

  • A Chairperson, should be retired Chief Justice of India.
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Two members to be appointed from among persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights.
  • Ex-officio members: In addition, the Chairpersons of four National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women and Minorities) serve as ex-officio members.
  • The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.
  • Appointment of chairman and members.
  • The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
    • The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
    • The Home Minister
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
    • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
    • The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)

The specific objectives of the establishment of the commission are:

  • To strengthen the institutional arrangements through which human rights issues could be addressed in their entirety in a more focussed manner;
  • To look into allegations of excesses, independently of the government, in a manner that would underline the government's commitment to protect human rights; and
  • To complement and strengthen the efforts that have already been made in this directions

Other facts

  • The commission has limited role, powers and jurisdiction with respect to the violation of human rights by the members of the armed forces.
  • The commission submits its annual or special reports to the Central government and to the state government concerned.
  • The functions of the commission are mainly recommendatory in nature.
  • It has no power to punish the violators of human rights, nor to award any relief including monetary relief to the victim.
Malimath Committee report

Malimath Committee report

Why in news?

  • The Committee's report was discussed at the annual Directors General of Police (DGP) conference held at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, or the Justice Malimath Committee, was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000.
  • It was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts.
  • The Malimath Committee report submitted in 2003 made 158 recommendations on crime investigation and punishment but these were never implemented.

Key Recommendations:

  • Confessions made before a Superintendent of Police rank officer be admitted as evidence in court of law.
  • Standard of 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' followed in criminal cases be done away with.
  • Stringent punishment needed for false registration of cases.
  • It had suggested that Section 54 of Evidence Act be substituted by a provision to the effect that in criminal cases, evidence of bad character and antecedents is relevant.
  • The Committee also suggested constituting a National Judicial Commission and amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult.
  • The Committee however, feels that the aberrations in the conduct of judges can be checked or even corrected if the problem is noticed at the earliest and efforts made to correct them.
Electoral bonds

Electoral bonds

What are they?

  • The electoral bonds scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017 with an aim for increasing transparency in political funding.
  • It makes India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for electoral funding.
  • These bonds are bearer instrument in nature of promissory note and interest-free bank ing instrument.

AIM

  • It aims at rooting out current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to generation of black money in the economy.
  • Electoral bonds will ensure cleaner money coming from donors, cleaner money coming to political party and ensure significant transparency in political financing.

Eligiblity

  • A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond. The bond will not carry the name of the payee.

Provisions

  • Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India.
  • The purchaser will be allowed to buy electoral bonds only on due fulfilment of all the extant KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account.
  • The bonds will have a life of 15 days (15 days time has been prescribed for the bonds to ensure that they do not become a parallel currency).
  • Eligibility of political party .
  • Registered political parties that have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last election to the Lok Sabha or Assembly.
  • The bond shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorized bank.
Should states have their own flag

Should states have their own flag?

  • Karnataka has set up a nine-member panel to study legal provisions of having a state flag.
  • The move by the Congress government in Karnataka comes amid rising public sentiments against the Centre's alleged move to impose Hindi on the Kannada-speaking people of the state.

Arguments in favour

  • No prohibitions in law: Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and even Flag Code of India, 2002 does not impose prohibitions on a State flag.
  • Culture: In India, State boundaries are demarcated on the basis of linguistic homogeneity. This has naturally generated aspirations in the States for promoting their own languages and cultures. A flag, which is both a benediction and a beckoning, serves this purpose better than any other symbol.
  • Promote Federalism: A separate flag for each State would strengthen the federal structure and serve as a symbol for a much more specific identity.
  • Other Organisations : The Army, Navy, Air Force, and paramilitary forces have separate flags. They use these regularly in all their official functions, in national parades, and on Republic Day.
  • Examples from world: All the 50 States in the U.S. have separate and distinct flags, apart from the national flag. In the U.K., the political units of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own flags without offending or affecting the integrity of the U.K.

Argument not in favour

  • Promote regionalism and tendency to secede: India is the land of diversity and flag provide symbol of region which can, in future , transformed into demand for separate country from India.
  • India is not a federalism: India was conceived as a union of states and not as a federation. Therefore, these federal units cannot aspire to have distinct political symbols that compete with national political symbols.
All India Whip's conference

All India Whip's conference

  • The 18th All India Whips' Conference was recently inaugurated at Udaipur, Rajasthan.
  • The conference provides a platform to Whips of various political parties - ruling as well as opposition at the Centre as well as the States to exchange their views and experiences and discuss the challenges facing them in discharge of their Parliamentary duties.
  • It is one of the functions assigned to the Ministry of Parliamentary affairs
  • The purpose of this conference is to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, its institutions and ultimately serve the people at large.

What are whips?

  • The office of 'whip', is mentioned neither in the Constitution of India nor in the Rules of the House nor in a Parliamentary Statute.
  • It is based on the conventions of the parliamentary government.
  • Every political party, whether ruling or Opposition has its own whip in the Parliament.
  • He is appointed by the political party to serve as an assistant floor leader.

Function of whip

  • Ensure party discipline in a legislature.
  • Ensure that their members in Parliament and legislature vote in line with the party's official policy on important issues and make sure that the members turn out for important votes.
  • They have a central role in 'Floor Management' in both the Houses of Parliament.
  • He is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the attendance of his party members in large numbers and securing their support in favour of or against a particular issue.
  • He regulates and monitors their behaviour in the Parliament.
  • The members are supposed to follow the directives given by the whip. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken.
Bharatmala project

Bharatmala project

Why in news?

  • The Union government recently launched Bharatmala project.

What is Bharatmala?

  • It is an umbrella project under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • Under the plan the government intends to develop 83,677 km of highways and roads at an investment of around Rs 7 lakh crore over the next five years.
  • It focuses on the new initiatives like
  • Development of Border and International connectivity roads,
  • Coastal & port connectivity roads
  • Improving efficiency of National Corridors
  • Economic corridors and others.

Benefits

  • It will subsume unfinished parts of National Highway Development Program (NHDP).
  • Job creation: National Highways Development Project (NHDP) to potentially generate 10 million jobs and result in a 3 per cent bump-up in the gross domestic product.
  • Bring Investment: In Bharatmala programme, the focus is on economic corridors (9,000 km) is expected to ensure that investments are targeted at economic returns.
  • Economic growth: The ambitious project also plans to create new industrial corridors and urban centres, which should enhance economic activity in the country.
  • It is expected that 70-80 per cent of freight traffic will move on national highways, up from 40 per cent now.
Sagarmala Project

Sagarmala Project

What is it?

  • Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented investment initiative of the Government of India

Objectives

  • To develop port infrastructure in India that results in quick, efficient and cost-effective transport to and from ports.
  • Last mile connectivity: It also includes establishment of rail / road linkages with the port terminals, thus providing last mile connectivity to ports.

Four Pillars of Sagarmala Project

  • Supporting and enabling Port-led Development.
  • Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  • Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.
  • Coastal community development.

Key Activities

  • Port-led industrialization
  • Port based urbanization
  • Port based and coastal tourism and recreational activities
  • Short-sea shipping coastal shipping and Inland Waterways Transportation
  • Ship building, ship repair and ship recycling
  • Logistics parks, warehousing, maritime zones/services
  • Integration with hinterland hubs
  • Offshore storage, drilling platforms
  • Specialization of ports in certain economic activities such as energy, containers, chemicals, coal, agro products, etc.
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Projects with base ports for installations
  • Modernizing the existing ports and development of new ports.

The administrative framework

  • National Sagarmala Apex Committee
  • At apex level, a National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) will be created to provide overall policy guidance.
  • It will be headed by shipping minister.
  • Sagarmala Development Company (SDC).
  • Indian Government has incorporated the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) under Companies Act, 2013.
  • It would be having initial Authorised Share Capital of Rs. 1,000 Crore and a Subscribed Share Capital of Rs. 90 Crore.
  • This company will serve as a special purpose vehicle {SPV) in project development and also as a nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of sagarmala project.
  • Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee.
  • At national level, the government will constitute a Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee (SCSC) under Cabinet Secretary with
  • Secretaries of the Ministries of Shipping,
  • Road Transport and Highways,
  • Tourism,
  • Defence,
  • Home Affairs,
  • Environment, Forest & Climate Change,
  • Departments of Revenue, Expenditure, Industrial Policy and Promotion
  • Chairman, Railway Board
  • CEO, NITI Aayog as members
  • This committee would provide coordination between various ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan, Detailed Master Plans and individual projects.
Project CHAMAN

Project CHAMAN

Why in news?

  • This project is being implemented by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) using remote sensing technology and is likely to be completed in March 2018.

What is project CHAMAN?

  • CHAMAN is a pioneer project in which remote sensing technique is being used for strategic development of horticulture sector as also to increase the farmers' income.
  • It gives methodology for preparing reliable estimates of horticulture crops.
  • Objective
  • To increase farmer income: The income of farmers will increase by growing selected crops in the high suitable areas identified under CHAMAN in the current Jhum /waste lands.
  • Post harvest management: the Post-Harvest damages of farmers would be significantly reduced by creation of desired Post Harvest Infrastructures like cold storages etc.
  • In addition the Geo-Spatial Studies like crop intensification, orchard rejuvenation and aqua-horticulture would further help the farmers' to grow their horticultural crops in a profitable manner which will help doubling their income.
Perform, Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT)

Perform, Achieve and Trade Scheme (PAT)

What is it?

  • A market-based mechanism to enhance the cost-effectiveness in improving the Energy Efficiency in Energy Intensive industries through certification of energy saving which can be traded.

How it works?

  • Units which are able to achieve specific energy consumption (SEC) level that is lower than their targets can receive energy savings certificates (ESCerts) for their excess savings.
  • The ESCerts could be traded on the Power Exchanges and bought by other units under PAT who can use them to meet their compliance requirements.
SANKALP and STRIVE scheme

SANKALP and STRIVE scheme

  • SANKALP stands for Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion
  • STRIVE stand for Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement
  • These schemes are World Bank supported.

Objective :

  • To boost Skill India Mission

About STRIVE :

  • STRIVE scheme will incentivize ITIs to improve overall performance including apprenticeship by involving SMEs (Small Scale Enterprises), business association and industry clusters.
  • It will develop robust mechanism for delivering quality skill development training by strengthening institutions-
    • National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)
    • State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs)
    • Sector Skill Councils
    • ITIs
    • National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) etc.
  • It is also aligned to flagship Government programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan.

About SANKALP scheme :

  • SANKALP scheme envisages setting up of Trainers and Assessors academies with self-sustainable models.
  • It will focus on greater decentralization in skill planning by institutional strengthening at State level which includes setting up of SSDMs and states to come up with State and District level Skill Development Plans.
  • It also aims at enhancement of inclusion of underprivileged and marginalized communities including women, Scheduled Castes (SCs)/Schedule Tribes (STs) and Persons with Disabilities (PWD).
  • It will also develop a skilling ecosystem that will support the country's rise in Ease of Doing Business index.
Nagaland women ULB reservation issue

Nagaland women ULB reservation issue

Why in News?

Nagaland women are demanding 33% constitutional reservation for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Nagaland.

Issue :

There is a conflict between women demanding political representation and the customary law which allows only the men to run the institutions of governance.
Constitutional Provisions of 74th amendment related to women reservation

  • Article 243T (3) - Not less than 33% of the total seats by rotation are reserved for women in direct municipal elections.
  • Article 243T (4) - Reservation of women for offices of Chairperson of municipalities would be decided by law by the State Legislative Assembly.

What is Article 371A (1)?

  • Deals with special provision for the state of Nagaland
  • No Act of Parliament in respect of the following
    • Religious or social practices of the Nagas
    • Naga customary law and procedure,
    • Administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
    • Ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

Shall apply to the Nagaland unless it's Legislative Assembly by a resolution so decides

About Nagaland :

  • Nagaland is a state in Northeast India.
  • It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east, and Manipur to the south.
  • The state capital is Kohima
  • Nagaland became the 16th state of India on 1 December 1963
Public finance management system(PFMS)

Public finance management system(PFMS)

Why in news?

Government has made use of PFMS mandatory for Central Schemes.

What is PFMS?

  • PFMS is an electronic fund tracking mechanism.
  • It compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes.
  • It will significantly provide government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.
  • In addition it allow government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.

Benefit government?

  • Promote transparency and will bring about tangible improvements in overall Central Government Financial Management as well as in implementation of various Central Government Schemes across the country.
  • The PFMS aims to help in complete tracking and monitoring flow of funds to implementing agencies and ensuring timely transfer of funds.
  • It will help government to ascertain actual status of utilization of funds by multiple implementing agencies of central and the state governments.
  • It will also cut need for paper work and in long way help in monitoring and tracking of any unnecessary parking of funds by implementing agencies, thus minimising cases of delay and pending payments to large extent.
  • It will help to plug leakages in system and help to manage and maintain data that government can use to develop more scientific approach.
  • The Public Financial Management System (PFMS) after implemented on full scale will help Union Government to save a significant amount on interest costs.
  • It will also be integrated with IT network of the GST.
MPLAD scheme

MPLAD scheme

Why in news?

As per the data provided by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), only 5.4% of the total fund has been utilised for the Financial Year 2014-15.

About MPLAD scheme :

  • It was introduced in 1993
  • MPLADS is a centrally-sponsored plan scheme fully funded by the government of India.
  • The funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  • It empowers every Member of Parliament (MP) to spend a certain sum of amount on the development of his/her constituency on various social development areas such as health, education, drinking water, electricity, family welfare, sanitations and so on.
  • The scheme essentially entitles every MP (Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha Members) to recommend spending Rs. 5 crore every year on works of development nature.
  • The MPs can recommend the work(s)
    • in their constituency in case of Lok Sabha
    • and anywhere in the state from where they are elected in case of Rajya Sabha.
  • Non-lapsable Fund
    • The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
    • This means that if the funds for a particular is not spent in that year, it will be carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
Finance commission

Finance commission

Recent news:

N.K.Singh has been appointed as the chairperson of 15th Finance Commission.

About commission :

  • Article 280 provides for a Finance Commission as a quasi-judicial body.
  • It is constituted by the President every fifth year or even earlier.
  • It is required to make recommendations to the President on the following matters:
    • The distribution of the net proceeds of taxes to be shared between the Centre and the states, and the allocation between the states, the respective shares of such proceeds.
    • The principles which should govern the grants-in-aid to the states by the Centre (i.e., out of the Consolidated Fund of India).
    • The measures needed to augment the Consolidated fund of a state to supplement the resources of the panchayats and the municipalities in the state on the basis of the recommendations made by the State Finance Commission.
    • Any other matter referred to it by the President in the interests of sound finance.

Report of Finance Commission in Parliament :

  • Article 281 says that President shall cause every recommendation made by the Finance Commission under the provisions of this Constitution together with an explanatory memorandum as to the action taken thereon to be laid before each House of Parliament.

Recommendations of 14th finance commission :

  • Tax devolution to be based on area, population, demography, income distance & forest cover.
    • Highest weight of 50 per cent is given to distance from the highest per capita income district
    • population (1971 census) at 17.5 per cent
    • demography (2011 census) at 10 per cent
    • area at 15 per cent
    • forest cover at 7.5 per cent.
  • Rail tariff authority: Replace the advisory body with a statutory body, through necessary amendments to the Railways Act, 1989.
  • National small saving fund (nssf): States be taken away from operation of NSSF with effect from next financial year.
  • Boost for states' share in net proceeds of tax revenues: The commission has recommended states' share in net proceeds of tax revenues be 42 per cent, a huge jump from the 32 per cent recommend by the 13th Finance Commission.
  • Tax devolution be primary route of transfer of resources: The panel has recommended tax devolution be the primary route of transfer of resources to the states.
  • Grants for local bodies be based on 2011 population: The commission has recommended distribution of grants to states for local bodies using 2011 population data.
    • Grants will be divided into two broad categories on the basis of rural and urban population -
      • grant constituting gram panchayats and
      • grant constituting municipal bodies.
  • Grants be in two parts - basic and performance: The panel has recommended the grants to states for local bodies be in two parts, a basic grant and a performance grant.
    • The ratio of basic to performance grant is 90:10 with respect to panchayats and 80:20 in the case of municipalities.
  • States' share in disaster relief should stay unchanged
  • The Commission is of the view that sharing pattern in respect to various Centrally-sponsored schemes need to change. It wants the States to share a greater fiscal responsibility for the implementation of such schemes.
  • Other recommendations: The Finance Commission has also made recommendations on cooperative federalism, GST, fiscal consolidation roadmap, pricing of public utilities and public sector undertakings.
Interstate council

Interstate council

Why in News?

The Inter-State Council and the standing committee of the Inter-State Council have been reconstituted recently

Background :

  • Article 263 of the constitution provides for the establishment of an Inter-State Council (ISC).
  • Sarkaria commission in its report in 1988 recommended that
    • A permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council (IGC) should be set up under Article 263.
  • Thus, in 1990, Inter-State Council was established.

About Article 263 :

  • Article 263 It shall be lawful for the President to establish an ISC for inquiring, discussing and advising upon:
    • disputes which may have arisen between States;
    • subjects in which some or all of the States, or the Union and one or more of the States, have a common interest; or
    • such subject and, in particular, recommendations for the better co-ordination of policy and action with respect to that subject.
  • Its function is complementary to Supreme Court's jurisdiction under Art 131 to decide a legal controversy between the governments

About Interstate council :

  • It is a recommendatory body on issues relating to inter-state, Centre-State, and Centre and Union Territory relations.
  • It is not a permanent constitutional body but it can be established 'at any time' if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council.
  • The council may meet at least thrice in a year
  • Composition
    • Prime Minister as the Chairman
    • Chief Ministers of all the States
    • Chief Ministers of Union Territories having Legislative Assemblies
    • Administrators of the Union Territories not having Legislative Assemblies
    • Governors of the States under the President's rule
    • Six Central Cabinet Ministers, including Home Minister, to be nominated by the PM.
  • Even though the president is empowered to define the duties of an interstate council, Article 263 specifies the duties that can be assigned to it in the following manner:
    • enquiring into and advising upon disputes which may arise between states;
    • investigating and discussing subjects in which the states or the Centre and the states have a common interest; and
    • making recommendations upon any such subject, and particularly for the better co-ordination of policy and action on it.
  • The Standing Committee of the Council was set up in 1996 for continuous consultation and processing of matters for the consideration of the council.
    • The Committee consists of following members-
  • Union Home minister
  • Five Union Cabinet Ministers
  • Nine Chief Ministers
    • The Committee is assisted by Inter-State Council Secretariat, set up in 1991 and headed by a Secretary to Government of India.
Parliamentary session

Parliamentary session

  • The president from time to time sumons each House of Parliament to meet.
  • But, the maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months.
  • In other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year. There are usually three sessions in a year, viz,
    • the Budget Session (February to May);
    • the Monsoon Session (July to September); and
    • the Winter Session (November to December).

What is parliamentary session?

  • A 'session' of Parliament is the period spanning between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation (or dissolution in the case of the Lok Sabha).
  • During a session, the House meets everyday to transact business.
  • The period spanning between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called 'recess'.

Election Commission recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

  • The Election Commission has recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs of Delhi Assembly on charges of holding an 'Office of Profit'.
  • The 20 AAP legislators have been accused of being unconstitutionally appointed as parliamentary secretaries to aid various ministers of the Delhi government.
  • The president is bound to act on advice of Election commission.

Basics:

Office of profit:

  • The term office of profit has not been defined in the Constitution.
  • But, articles 102 (1) and 191 (1) - which give effect to the concept of office of profit - prescribe restrictions at the central and state level on lawmakers accepting government positions. Any violation attracts disqualification of MPs or MLAs, as the case may be.
  • According to Article 102 (1) (a), a person shall be disqualified as a member of Parliament for holding any office of profit under the government of India or the government of any state, "other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder".
  • Article 191 (1) (a) has a similar provision for the members of state assemblies.

Principles of declaring Office of Profit :

Few principles have been evolved by different rulings of Supreme Court (Jaya Bachchan case 2006) and high court for determining whether an office attracts the constitutional disqualification.

  • Whether the government exercises control over appointment, removal and performance of the functions of the office.
  • Whether the office has any remuneration attached to it.
  • Whether the body in which the office is held has government powers (releasing money, allotment of land, granting licences etc.).

Reason for disqualification for holding office of profit:

  • The aim of this provision is to preserve the independence of the legislature by keeping its members away from any temptations from the executive.
  • Makers of the Constitution wanted that legislators should not feel obligated to the Executive in any way, which could influence them while discharging legislative functions.

Other provisions for Disqualification :

Under the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified for being elected as a member of Parliament:

  • if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a court.
  • if he is an undischarged insolvent.
  • if he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance to a foreign state; and
  • if he is so disqualified under any law made by Parliament.
    The Parliament has laid down the following additional disqualifications in the Representation of People Act (1951):
  • He must not have been found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
  • He must not have been convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years. But, the detention of a person under a preventive detention law is not a disqualification.
  • He must not have failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time.
  • He must not have any interest in government contracts, works or services.
  • He must not be a director or managing agent nor hold an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25 per cent share.
  • He must not have been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
  • He must not have been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
  • He must not have been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
    On the question whether a member is subject to any of the above disqualifications, the president's decision is final. However, he should obtain the opinion of the election commission and act accordingly.

Disqualification on the grounds of Defection:

  • The Constitution also lays down that a person shall be disqualified from being a member of Parliament if he is so disqualified on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
  • The question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is decided by the Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha (and not by the president of India).
  • In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Chairman/Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review.
Program to train elected women representatives of panchayati raj institution

Program to train elected women representatives of panchayati raj institution

What is it?

  • It is capacity building program organized by National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) of WCD Ministry.
  • It aims to train approximately twenty thousand Elected Women Representatives(EWRs) covering nearly 50 EWRs from each district by March 2018.

Significance :

  • It will help prepare women as political leaders of future.
  • This program will help them assume leadership roles expected of them and guide their villages towards a more prosperous future.
  • Women empowerment:
    • The Capacity building of EWRs is critical to empower women to participate effectively in governance processes.
    • The training will also include simple engineering skills to give them insight into women's issues as well as focus on education and financial matters.
Section 29A of RPA

Section 29A of RPA

Why in News?

The Supreme Court has recently decided to examine the powers of Election Commission in terms of disqualifying convicted persons from forming political parties or becoming office-bearer of a party.

Recent Issues :

  • It is argued that if a convicted person in a criminal case gets disqualified to contest election, he should not be allowed to head a political party, a stance which stands conflicted by the Section 29A.
  • Allowing a convicted person to be an office bearer may in long run be dangerous for the inner party democracy.

About Section-29A :

  • Section 29A of Representation of People's Act, 1951, lays down various provisions in regards to the registration and recognition of political parties in India.
  • It was introduced in RPA,1951 in 1988.
Island development agency

Island development agency

Why in news?

  • The second meeting of Island Development Agency (IDA) was held in New Delhi.
  • It reviewed concept development plans and detailed master plans for holistic development of 9 islands.
  • These 9 islands include
    • four in Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Smith, Ross, Long, Avis)
    • five in Lakshadweep (Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli).

About agency :

  • The IDA was set up in June 2017 following Prime Minister's review meeting for the holistic development of islands.
  • Its first meeting was held in July 2017 were directions were given to identify and execute infrastructure and connectivity projects together with provisioning of water and electricity.
  • The meetings of the agency are chaired by the Union Home Minister.
  • Members of IDA include cabinet secretary, home secretary, secretary (environment, f orests and climate change), secretary (tourism) and secretary (tribal welfare)
Totalizer machines

Totalizer machines

Why in news?

  • Recently, Attorney General and Election Commission opposed Central Government's stand against 'totalizing' of votes for counting after elections.
  • Election commission has been demanding introduction of totalizer machines in election process since 2008.

What is a totalizer machine?

  • It is an interface, to which a cluster of EVMs can be connected simultaneously and the consolidated result of the group of EVMs can be obtained.

Advantage :

  • Prevent disclosing the votes polled by a candidate polling-station-wise.
  • Therefore, it prevent victimization of voters of polling station who voted against the winning party (for e.g. delaying infrastructure developing or other welfare activities).
  • It will add an extra layer of security to the voting process thus upholding the basic principle of secret ballot as the present EVMs do not provide any avenues for mixing of votes. Mixing of votes is analogous to physical mixing of votes as mandated under the Rule no 59A of the Election Rules.

Argument against totalizer machines :

  • It has been argued that it camouflages the booth-wise performance of candidates which is essential for parties to devise "booth-management" strategies (working at booth level to mobilise voters).
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