Polity & Governance
- Karnataka political crisis
Government Schemes & Policies
- Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm
- Draft model tenancy law proposes cap on security deposit
Issues related to Health & Education
- Govt has launched ‘LaQshya’: Labour room Quality improvement initiative
- India records fastest reduction in multi-dimensional poverty in 2006-16
- Budget proposal of not to charge MDR will hurt payment industry
Bilateral & International Relations
- US House passes bill removing cap on issuing green cards
Art & Culture
- Centuries-old ”Kharchi Puja” begins in Tripura
Key Facts for Prelims
- Operation Thirst
- France passes legislation taxing digital giants
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Polity & Governance
Karnataka political crisis
Several politicians face disqualification for anti-party activities and defying whips in Karnataka.
What is anti-defection law?
- The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, which added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
- The main intent of the law was to combat the evil of political defections.
- Aaya Ram Gaya Ram was a phrase that became popular in Indian politics after a Haryana MLA Gaya Lal changed his party thrice within the same day in 1967. The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.
Main Features of the Anti-Defection Law
Disqualification of MLA:
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party:
– Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
– Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
- If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
Power to Disqualify:
- The Chairman or the Speaker of the House takes the decision to disqualify a member.
- If a complaint is received with respect to the defection of the Chairman or Speaker, a member of the House elected by that House shall take the decision.
- A person shall not be disqualified if his original political party merges with another, and:
– He and other members of the old political party become members of the new political party, or
– He and other members do not accept the merger and opt to function as a separate group.
- This exception shall operate only if not less than two-thirds of the members of party in the House have agreed to the merger.
Advantages of Anti-Defection Law:
- Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
- Ensures that candidates elected with party support and on the basis of party manifestoes remain loyal to the party policies. Also promotes party discipline.
Disadvantages of Anti-Defection Law:
- By preventing parliamentarians from changing parties, it reduces the accountability of the government to the Parliament and the people.
- Interferes with the member’s freedom of speech and expression by curbing dissent against party policies.
Recommendations on Anti-defection law
- Disqualification should be limited to cases where (a) a member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, (b) a member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence.
- The issue of disqualification should be decided by the President/ Governor on the advice of the Election Commission.
- The words ‘voluntarily giving up membership of a political party’ should be comprehensively defined.
- Restrictions like prohibition on joining another party or holding offices in the government be imposed on expelled members.
- The term political party should be defined clearly.
- Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification should be deleted.
- Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection law.
- Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.
- Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
- Defectors should be barred from holding public office or any remunerative political post for the duration of the remaining term.
- The vote cast by a defector to topple a government should be treated as invalid.
- The Bangladesh, Kenya, Singapore and South Africa has anti-defection laws.
Government Schemes & Policies
Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm
The Population Regulation Bill, 2019 suggests that people with more than two living children should be disqualified from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self-government.
About Population Regulation Bill, 2019:
- It seeks to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.
- It suggests that people with more than two living children should be disqualified from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self-government.
- It suggests that government employees should give an undertaking that she or he will not procreate more than two children.
- Those government employees who have more than two children on or before the commencement of the Act should be exempted.
- Other penalties include reduction in subsidies on loans and interest rates on savings instruments, reduction in benefits under the public distribution system, and higher than normal interest rates for availing loans from banks and financial institutions.
About India’s Two-Child Policy:
- Under the policy, people running in panchayat elections can be disqualified if they have not adopted the two-child policy. The idea behind the law is that ordinary citizens will look up to their local politicians and follow their family size example.
- There are laws in some states that create disincentives for non-politicians to have more than two children.
- Examples of these disincentives include refusal of government rights for the third or higher children, denying health care for mothers and children, denying nutritional supplements for women pregnant with their third or higher child etc.
- As per critics, by restricting the number of children that can be born, there will not be enough educated young people in the next generation to carry on India’s technological revolution.
- Critics also argue that the population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated. There are already problems associated with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys. These problems pose risk for implementation of two-child policy in India.
- Another criticism about India’s two-child policy is that the laws are anti-women.
- Some argue that, not only does the law discriminate against women right from birth, but divorce and familial abandonment are at risk of increasing if a man with a large family wants to run for political office.
- In addition, women in India are, by and large, uneducated and illiterate and are often unaware of the two-child policy. There have been cases where women with many children try and run for political office only to be turned away because of a law they didn’t know existed.
Consequences of Negative Population Growth:
- By interfering with the birth rate, India can face negative population growth.
- With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for the social services.
- In this case, taxes must be increased and young people risk contributing way more than they will receive in the future.
- In China, this problem is known as the 4-2-1 problem (four grandparents, two parents and one child). This problem places a heavy burden on the child to support his parents and grandparents both directly and indirectly.
Draft model tenancy law proposes cap on security deposit
The Centre has proposed a model tenancy law to regulate renting of premises, including setting a maximum of two months’ rent as security deposit, a three-months’ notice for hiking rent and appointment of rent authorities.
Key Highlights of Draft on tenancy law:
- Advance security deposit for residential properties would be capped at two months’ rent and one months’ rent for non-residential properties.
- A compulsory notice in writing three months before revising rent.
- A grievance redressal mechanism in the form of a Rent Authority, Rent Court and Rent Tribunal would be set up.
- Only the rent court and no civil court will have the jurisdiction to decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant.
- Within two months of executing the rental agreement, both landowner and tenant are required to intimate to the Rent Authority about the agreement and within seven days a unique identification number will be issued by the Rent Authority to the both the parties.
- The District Collector would appoint an officer of the rank of Deputy Collector and above to be the Rent Authority in the area.
- Tenants overstaying will have to pay double the rent for two times and four times thereafter.
- In the event of tenant’s refusal to carry out agreed repairs, the landowner shall get the repairs done and deduct the amount from the security deposit. A landowner cannot enter the rented premises without 24-hour prior notice to carry out repairs or replacement.
- A landowner cannot cut power and water supply in case of a dispute with the tenant.
- It will enable creation of adequate rental housing stock for various income segments of society including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, professionals, students etc.
- It increases access to quality rented accommodation, enable gradual formalization of rental housing market. It will also help overhaul the legal framework vis-à-vis rental housing across the country.
Need of such law:
- The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing segment and discouraging the landowners from renting out their vacant premises.
- People who are migrated to large metropolises often complain of onerous tenancy conditions and huge sums of money as security deposits for leasing of accommodation.
- In some cities, tenants are asked to pay security deposits amounting to 11 months of rent.
- Also, some house owners routinely breach tenants’ right to privacy by visiting the premises unannounced for repair works.
- Excessive rent raises are another problem for tenants many of whom complain of being squeezed as captive customers.
- Some landlords are complaining about Tenants rented premises being trying to grab the property.
- The rental market in India is currently dominated by two major segments – increased demand from the migrated working class and rising demand-supply gaps in student housing.
Issues related to Health & Education
Govt has launched ‘LaQshya’: Labour room Quality improvement initiative
Government of India has launched “LaQshya” (Labour room Quality Improvement Initiative) to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres in public health facilities.
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the ‘LaQshya’ programme aimed at improving quality of care in labour room and maternity Operation Theatre (OT).
- Through this program, Govt. also want to enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.
- Under the National Health Mission, the States have been supported in creating Institutional framework for the Quality Assurance – State Quality Assurance Committee (SQAC), District Quality Assurance Committee (DQAC), and Quality Team at the facility level. These committees will also support implementation of LaQshya interventions.
- To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to hemorrhage, retained placenta, preterm, preeclampsia and eclampsia, newborn sepsis, etc.
- Improvement the Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care,
- stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals
- Eenable an effective two-way follow-up system.
Following types of healthcare facilities have been identified for implementation program:
- Government medical college hospitals.
- District Hospitals & equivalent health facilities.
- Designated FRUs and high case load CHCs with over 100 deliveries/month ( 60 in hills and desert areas)
India records fastest reduction in multi-dimensional poverty in 2006-16
As per United Nations Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, India has recorded the fastest reduction in multi-dimensional poverty between 2006 and 2016.
India Specific highlights of Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019
- India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016 recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values during the period with strong improvements in areas such as assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition.
- Out of the 10 selected countries for which changes over time were analysed, India and Cambodia reduced their MPI values the fastest.
- In India, Jharkhand improved fastest by reducing the incidence of multidimensional poverty from 74.9 per cent in 2005-06 to 46.5 per cent in 2015-16. Bihar was still the poorest state in 2015-16, with more than half its population in poverty.
- India (along with Peru and Ethiopia) significantly reduced deprivation on all 10 indicators.
- Poverty reduction in rural areas outpaced that in urban areas which is an indicator of pro-poor development.
- The poorest district is Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh where 76.5% of people are poor.
- 50% of people belonging Scheduled Tribes were still poor.
- Across 101 countries, 23.1 percent are multidimensionally poor.
- Half of the 1.3 billion multidimensionally poor people are children under age 18.
- There is little or no association between economic inequality and the MPI value.
- In the 10 selected countries for which changes over time were analysed, deprivations declined faster among the poorest 40 percent of the population than among the total population.
- In South Asia, 22.7 percent of children under age 5 experience intra household inequality in deprivation in nutrition.
- Child poverty fell markedly faster than adult poverty in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, India and Peru.
- Worldwide, one in three children is multidimensionally poor, compared to one in six adults.
About Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019
- The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019 has a special focus on Child poverty in South Asia.
- The report identifies 10 countries to illustrate the level of poverty reduction. The 10 countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam.
About the Multidimensional Poverty Index :
- The global MPI was developed in 2010 by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the flagship Human Development Report.
- It is an international measure of acute multidimensional poverty covering over 100 developing countries.
- It defines Multidimensional poverty not simply by income but by a number of indicators, including poor health, poor work quality, and the threat of violence.
- It complements traditional monetary-based poverty measures by capturing the acute deprivations that each person faces at the same time with respect to education, health and living standards.
- Child mortality
- Drinking water
- Years of schooling
- School attendance
- Cooking fuel
Budget proposal of not to charge MDR will hurt payment industry
The payments industry has raised concerns over the Budget proposal to levy zero MDR on all merchants and has said it will lead to the collapse of the payments acquiring industry.
What is Merchant Discount Rate (MDR)?
- Merchant Discount Rate, alternatively referred to as the Transaction Discount Rate or TDR, is the sum total of all the charges and taxes that a digital payment entails.
- For instance, the MDR includes bank charges, which a bank charges customers and merchants for allowing payments to be made digitally.
- Similarly, MDR also includes the processing charges that a payments aggregator has to pay to online or mobile wallets or indeed to banks for their service.
What was the Budget announcement?
- The budge proposes that the business establishments with annual turnover more than 50 crores shall offer low cost digital modes of payment to their customers and no charges or Merchant Discount Rate shall be imposed on customers as well as merchants.
- In other words, the government has mandated that neither the customers nor the merchants will have to pay the Merchant Discount Rate (or MDR) while transacting digital payments.
Who will bear the MDR costs?
- RBI and Banks will absorb MDR costs from the savings that will accrue to them on account of handling less cash.
- Necessary amendments will be made in the Income Tax Act and the Payments and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 to give effect to these provisions.
What is the problem?
- If banks pay for the MDR, it will adversely affect their likelihood to adopt the digital payments architecture.
- Moreover, many payments providers apprehend that the banks will find a way of passing on the costs to them. In turn, this will negatively impact the health of a sector that needs nurturing.
Bilateral & International Relations
US House passes bill removing cap on issuing green cards
The US passed a Bill aimed at lifting the current seven per cent country-cap on issuing Green Cards, a development which would benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.
What is green card?
- A green card allows a non-U.S. citizen to gain permanent residence in the United States.
- Those who have a Green Card are allowed to emigrate to the USA and stay there for as long as they like.
- The official name of the US Green Card is ‘Lawful Permanent Resident Card’.
What is the current law?
- Under current U.S. law, each country is limited to seven percent of all green cards for foreign workers.
- For example, if the total number of green cards issued to foreign workers for a fiscal year was 100,000, workers from a particular country like India could only receive 7,000 of them.
What changes have been made?
- By passing the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, or HR 1044, US eliminates per-country caps on green cards.
- The new bill seeks to increase seven per cent cap per-country for family-based immigrant visa to 15 per cent.
- Similarly, the bill also seeks to eliminate the seven per cent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas.
- It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.
- The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a per centage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers) and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals from other than the two countries that get the largest number of such visas.
- As per another provision of the Bill, not more than 85 per cent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country.
- Indian IT professionals, who mostly go to the US on H-1B work visas (allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers), are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system (7 per cent per country quota).
- Some of the recent studies have said the waiting period for Indian IT professionals on H-1B visas is more than 70 years.
- It would considerably reduce the wait for talented professionals from countries like India seeking permanent work and residency permits in the United States.
- Lifting the per-country cap on Green Card would mainly benefit high-tech professionals on H-1B work visas from countries like India, for whom the wait for Green Card is more than a decade.
- Under current rules, citizens of India are getting about 25 percent of all the professional employment green cards each year. If this bill becomes law citizens of India will get more than 90 percent of the professional employment green cards.
Art & Culture
Centuries-old ”Kharchi Puja” begins in Tripura
Tripura Chief Minister inaugurated the seven-day famous Kharchi Puja in the state’s erstwhile capital Puran Habeli.
About Kharchi Puja:
- Kharchi Puja is one of the most popular festivals in Tripura.
- It’s a week-long royal Puja which falls in July on the eighth day of the new moon.
- It is the biggest festival for the Hindu tribals in the northeastern region.
- This festival is the worship of the dynasty deity of Tripuri people, the fourteen gods.
- It is celebrated at Agartala (Puran Agartala) in the temple premises of fourteen gods.
- The word Kharchi is derived from the word Khya which means earth. Kharchi Puja is basically done to worship the earth.
- The kharchi puja is performed to wash out the sins, to clean up the post menstrual uncleanly ness of earth mothers menstruation. That is why it is performed for seven consecutive days.
- Animal sacrifice is also an important part of this festival and includes sacrificing of goats and pigeons.
- In 1949, the erstwhile princely state of Tripura came under the control of the Indian government after a merger agreement was signed between maharani of Tripura and the Indian Governor General.
- The merger agreement made it mandatory for the Tripura government to continue the sponsorship of 14 temples run by the Hindu princely rulers.
- After 2012, a division named Public Place of Worship (PPW) or Debarchan Vibhag – under district magistrates in four of Tripura’s eight districts now bears the responsibility and the entire expenditure of these temples in Tripura.
- The king Krishna Manikya Bahadur shifted the capital of erstwhile Tripura from southern Tripura’s Udaipur to Puran Habeli in 1760.
- In 1838, the capital was shifted to Agartala from Puran Habeli by king Krishna Kishore Manikya Bahadur.
Key Facts for Prelims
- It is an all- India drive launched by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to curb menace of selling unauthorised packaged drinking water in railway stations.
France passes legislation taxing digital giants
France became the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants by passing the legislation in defiance of a probe ordered by U.S. President that could trigger reprisal tariffs.
What is the GAFA tax?
- The GAFA tax refers to an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
- It will levy a 3% percent tax on total annual revenues of the largest tech firms providing services to French consumers.
- It is levied for the development of taxation on data in order to finance France’s futures public services and creation of a fairer tax environment.
The GAFA tax targets two large sectors:
- Digital platforms, i.e. companies that receive commissions for putting customers and companies in contact with each other. A company that puts its own products on sale on its website is not be subject to the tax.
- Online advertising, in particular activities to do with advertisement targeting and resale of personal data for advertising purposes.