Polity & Governance
- Haryana speaker disqualifies five INLD MLAs under anti-defection law
- Punjab CM and his ministers approve ordinance to exclude CM’s advisors from office of profit
- Access to Internet is a basic right, says Kerala High Court
Government Schemes & Policies
- Home Minister launches citizen centric services in Chandigarh
- Corporate income tax rate cuts and what it means
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Delhi: ‘62% of stubble pollution from 11 districts in Punjab & Haryana’
Art & Culture
- Joint Unveiling of Buddha Statue by Prime Minister and President of Mongolia
Science & Technology
- ISRO plans to launch sun mission Aditya-L1 by 2020
Key Facts for Prelims
- International Day of Peace: Theme of 2019: “Climate Action for Peace”
- Centre allots world’s second-largest coal block to West Bengal
- PM to be honoured with ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for Swachch Bharat Abhiyan
- Delhi Police launches new app where you can pay traffic challan, file online FIR
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Polity & Governance
Haryana speaker disqualifies five INLD MLAs under anti-defection law
The speaker of the Haryana assembly disqualified five Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLAs from the membership of the assembly for supporting other parties while being elected legislators of the INLD under the anti-defection provision of the Indian Constitution.
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.
Punjab CM and his ministers approve ordinance to exclude CM’s advisors from office of profit
Under fire from opposition for appointing six advisors to Punjab Chief Minister, the state Cabinet on decided to bring an ordinance to exclude their appointments from the ambit of the office of profit.
What is the issue?
- The Council of Ministers of Punjab decided to bring an Ordinance to exclude Advisor to Chief Minister from the ambit of ‘The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952’.
- The Ordinance will amend the law to add these posts to the list of posts that are not considered office of profit for the purpose of disqualification of MLAs.
- With the amendment, these MLAs will not be disqualified.
- The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952’ has undergone minor amendments from time to time. However, such amendments have not taken into account the complexity of modern day governance.
- Further, the amendments to the said Act have not taken into account the reports and studies of various parliamentary committees which addressed the issue of office of profit.
- Therefore, the Cabinet felt the need to amend section-2 of The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952.
- The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1952’ had been enacted in terms of Article 191 of the Constitution of India, to declare certain offices of profit as not disqualifying the holders of such office from being Members of the State Legislature.
What are the basic criteria to disqualify an MP or MLA?
- Basic disqualification criteria for an MP are laid down in Article 102 of the Constitution, and for an MLA in Article 191.
They can be disqualified for:
- Holding an office of profit under government of India or state government;
- Being of unsound mind;
- Being an undischarged insolvent;
- Not being an Indian citizen or for acquiring citizenship of another country.
What is the concept of ‘office of profit’?
- MPs and MLAs, as members of the legislature, hold the government accountable for its work.
- The essence of disqualification under the office of profit law is if legislators holds an ‘office of profit’ under the government, they might be susceptible to government influence, and may not discharge their constitutional mandate fairly.
- The intent is that there should be no conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member.
- Hence, the office of profit law simply seeks to enforce a basic feature of the Constitution- the principle of separation of power between the legislature and the executive.
What is an ‘office of profit’?
- If an MLA or an MP holds a government office and receives benefits from it, then that office is termed as an office of profit. However, the word ‘office’ has not been defined in the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act of 1951.
- A person will be disqualified if he holds an office of profit under the central or state government, other than an office declared not to disqualify its holder by a law passed by Parliament or state legislature.
What constitutes an ‘office of profit’?
- In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the test for determining whether a person holds an office of profit is the ‘test of appointment’.
- Several factors are considered in this determination including factors such as:
- Whether the government is the appointing authority,
- Whether the government has the power to terminate the appointment,
- Whether the government determines the remuneration,
- The source of remuneration
- The power that comes with the position.
What does the Constitution say about holding an ‘office of profit’?
- Under the provisions of Article 102 (1) and Article 191 (1) of the Constitution, an MP or an MLA is barred from holding any office of profit under the central or state government. The articles clarify that “a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of profit under the government of India/any state by reason only that he is a minister.
- The Constitution specifies that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister has to be within 15% of the total number of members of the assembly (10% in the case of Delhi, which is a union territory with legislature).
- Provisions of Articles 102 and 191 also protect a legislator occupying a government position if the office in question has been made immune to disqualification by law. In the recent past, several state legislatures have enacted laws exempting certain offices from the purview of office of profit.
- Parliament has also enacted the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, which has been amended several times to expand the exempted list.
Access to Internet is a basic right, says Kerala High Court
In a landmark judgment, the High Court of Kerala declared that right to access internet is a fundamental right forming part of right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution and also forms part of right to education.
- A petition was filed by a student challenging restrictions on usage of mobile phones in a girls’ hostel.
Highlights of the Judgement of High court
- Restriction placed on access to internet by curtailing the use of mobile phones amounted to a violation of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
- Internet, accessible through mobile phones or laptops, provided an avenue for the students to gather knowledge as well as to express themselves.
- United Nation’s General Assembly had declared right to internet to be a human right in 2014.
- When the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, in 2016, describe internet access as a basic human right, a rule/instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of law.
- Kerala Government had recognized ‘right to internet’ as a human right in 2017.
- UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, states that Concern for the safety of women students must not be cited to impose discriminatory rules for women in the hostels as compared to male students.
- It should be left to the students to choose the time for using mobile phone. The only restriction that can be imposed is that they should not cause any disturbance to other students.
- In the backdrop of a judgement given in Rengarajan and others v. P. Jagjivan Ram (1989). the fundamental freedom under Article 19(1)(a) can be restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency.
Government Schemes & Policies
Home Minister launches citizen centric services in Chandigarh
Union Home Minister launched three citizen-centric services of the Chandigarh Police. The services include the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS-Dial 122), e-Beat Book’ and e-Saathi’mobile application.
About Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)
- ERSS provides a single emergency number (112), computer-aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress.
- It has been designed to play a pivotal role in mitigation or preventing escalation of crime, especially against women and children.
- It is one of the key projects of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under the Nirbhaya Fund.
- The ‘Dial-112’ emergency response service is also an initiative to end confusion amongst distress callers, who at times end up dialling 100 in fire or medical emergency cases.
About E-Beat Book
- The ‘E-Beat Book’ is a web and mobile-based application which will ease the collection, updation and analysis of the information related to crime and criminals in a real-time.
- It would be linked with Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), which would help in a real-time updation of crime/criminal data.
- The citizen can directly approach the ‘Atal Sehbhagita Kendra’ for redressal of their grievances.
About ‘E-Saathi’ App
- The ‘E-Saathi’ App would help the general public, including senior citizens, to remain in touch with the police and also give suggestions to facilitate participative community policing.
- The beat officer would be able to provide services like passport verification, tenant verification, character certification etc. through the app, without the people needing to visit the police station.
These valuable public services would effectively reduce the response time of police to address the distress calls of the public and strengthen the police-public interface endeavour of community policing (‘Your Police at Your Doorstep’ initiative).[Ref: Business Standard]
Corporate income tax rate cuts and what it means
In a Mini-Budget of sorts, Finance Minister announced major changes in corporate income tax rates to revive growth in the broader economy.
What has the government done? (Amendments in Income Tax Act)
- The government has decreased the corporate income tax rate from 30 percent to 22 percent for all companies. As of now, tax rate for corporates having annual turnover less than ₹400 crores is 30 per cent, while for others it is 25 per cent. The effective tax rate for these companies shall be 25.17 per cent inclusive of surcharge & cess. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT).
- Newer companies, which are set up after October 1, 2019, will be subjected to an even lower effective tax rate of 17 percent. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay MAT.
- For companies who continue to avail exemptions/incentives, the rate of minimum alternate tax (MAT) has been reduced from 18.5 percent to 15 percent.
- Higher surcharge, announced in the Budget in July, will now not be applicable to capital gains on sale of equity made by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) as well as individuals and other classes of investors.
- In order to stabilise the flow of funds into the capital market, enhanced surcharge introduced by the Finance Act, 2019 will not apply on capital gains arising on sale of equity share.
- Also, there will be no tax on buyback of shares by listed companies that have announced buyback plans before July 5, 2019.
Need for announcing such measures
- The Indian economy is currently going through its worst deceleration in six years.
- The Indian economy grew 5 percent in April-June 2019, from 8 percent in the same quarter in 2018, implying that people are putting off purchases on aspirational items such as cars and televisions.
- Passenger vehicle sales declined during April-June. Vehicle sales across all categories declined by 12.35 percent during this period compared to last year.
- The substantially lower rates would imply that many corporates will able to achieve no profit no loss situation much earlier (break even) than what would have been the case with the earlier rates.
- Lower taxes will result is higher profit margins. Some of these companies will be able to pass on the higher margins in the form of lower product prices to consumers.
- Lower corporate income tax rates and the resultant change in profitability will likely prompt companies to invest more, raising their capital expenditure (capex).
- Additional capacities will prompt these companies to hire more employees.
How will these measures help revive consumer demand?
- Lowering corporate income tax rates addresses the supply side issues. But, these could raise consumption demand through what is called the wealth effect.
- Wealth effect is a behavioural economic phenomenon where consumers start spending more because of greater confidence driven by higher values of their financial and physical assets. For instance, households feel richer if the value of their real estate portfolios rise quickly, even though their fixed investment values have remained the same.
- This pushes up their confidence and prompts them to spend more.
What is the corporation tax?
- Corporation tax is a tax imposed on the net income of the company.
- Companies, both private and public which are registered in India under the Companies Act 1956, are liable to pay corporate tax.
How do these rates compare globally?
- The new corporate income tax rates in India will be lower than USA (27 percent), Japan (30.62 percent), Brazil (34 percent), Germany (30 percent) and is similar to China (25 percent) and Korea (25 percent).
- New companies in India with an effective tax rate of 17 percent is equivalent what corporates pay in Singapore (17 percent).
How will the corporate tax cuts be funded?
- The government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3 percent of GDP for 2019-20. However, Lower tax revenues, though lowering corporate tax, could upset the fiscal math.
- The government may fund part of the revenue foregone because of corporate tax cuts through the additional transfer of surplus from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- There is heightened expectations that the government will propose major changes in the individual income tax rates and slabs in the next budget for 2020-21 to be presented in February 2020.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Delhi: ‘62% of stubble pollution from 11 districts in Punjab & Haryana’
As many as eight districts in Punjab and three in Haryana have been identified as contributing around 62% of the total crop burning emission, as per an analysis done by a team of experts at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D).
- Pollutants get trapped in Delhi during winter months because of problems with dispersion.
- Tackling local issues, such as road congestion and vehicular emissions, would help control pollution levels in the national capital.
- The Punjab needs to control emissions that are affecting people within the state first and the neighbouring states after that.
- People not switching to new technologies that are alternatives to crop burning, despite repeated attempts, can be given a window of a couple of hours in a day within which they burn it as a last resort.
- Applications could be developed that help farmers give away or sell their paddy straws that would otherwise be burned.
- Ahead of stubble burning season, the Delhi government recently announced it would enforce the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme in November to curb pollution.
What is Stubble burning?
- Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested.
- Stubble burning contributes significantly towards the air pollution in north India every winter.
- Open stubble burning emits large amount of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like Methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Although burning of straw residues emits large amounts of CO2, this component of the smoke is not considered as net Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and only concludes the annual carbon cycle that has started with photosynthesis.
Why do farmers burn the stubble?
- Stubble burning usually required in areas that use the combine harvesting method which leaves crop residue behind.
- Combines are machines that harvest, separate the grain, and also clean the separated grain, all at once.
- The problem, however, is that the machine doesn’t cut close enough to the ground, leaving stubble behind that the farmer has no use for.
- There is pressure on the farmer to sow the next crop in time for it to achieve a full yield. The quickest and cheapest solution, therefore, is to clear the field by burning the stubble.
Problem of crop residue burning in India
- The problem of crop residue burning has been intensifying over the years, with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the major burning hotspots.
- Increased mechanization, declining number of livestock, long period required for composting and no economically viable alternate use of residues are some of the reasons for residues being burnt in field.
- This not only has implications for global warming, but also has an adverse impact on air quality, soil health and human health.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Art & Culture
Joint Unveiling of Buddha Statue by Prime Minister and President of Mongolia
Indian Prime Minister and President of Mongolia, jointly unveiled a statue of Lord Buddha and his two disciples, installed at the historic Gandan Tegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar.
About the statue of Lord Buddha
- The statue was installed at the Gandan Monastery recently during the third edition of SAMVAAD dialogue held in Ulaanbaatar, which brought together Buddhist religious leaders, from to deliberate on contemporary issues related to Buddhism.
About Gandan Tegchenling Monastery
- Founded in 1838, Gandantegchinlen Monastery (Gandan Khiid) is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery and a treasure house of valuable Buddhist heritage.
- Ulaanbaatar is a capital and largest city of Mongolia. It is situated on the ‘Tuul’ River.
Science & Technology
ISRO plans to launch sun mission Aditya-L1 by 2020
After launching its moon mission-Chandrayaan-2 to study the south pole of the Moon, where nobody has gone so far, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned to launch its sun mission Aditya-L1 to study the sun for the first time.
About Aditya-L1 mission
- Aditya-I is India’s first dedicated scientific mission to study the sun.
- It will be inserted in a halo orbit around the L1 (Lagrangian point 1) of the Sun-Earth system which has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
- It was conceptualised by the Advisory Committee for Space Research in January 2008.
- It will be launched in 2020.
Payloads and their science objectives
- Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) (most important): To study the solar corona (outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere).
- Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT): To image the spatially resolved Solar Photosphere and Chromosphere in near Ultraviolet
- Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX): To study the variation of solar wind properties
- Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya (PAPA): To understand the composition of solar wind
- Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS):To monitor the X-ray flares for studying the heating mechanism of the solar corona.
- High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS): To observe the dynamic events in the solar corona and provide an estimate of the energy used to accelerate the particles during the eruptive events.
- Magnetometer: To measure the magnitude of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field.
Other Missions related to Sun
- Other missions such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the ESA (European space agency)-NASA joint project, Solar Orbiter, which is due to be launched in 2020, will study the structures of the Sun’s atmosphere.
What is Lagrangian point?
- A Lagrangian point, also known as Liberation point or L-point, is a position or location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies is equal to the centrifugal force that is felt by a third body which is relatively smaller.
- The lagrangian points are named after an eighteenth century astronomer and mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange.
- Lagrange wrote about these points as a solution to the ‘three body problem’ for the Earth, Moon and Sun.
- A major body (planet or star) has five lagrangian points around it. Out of these five points, three points lie along the line that connects the two large bodies.
- L1 – These points are used for the satellite to cancel sum of the sun’s gravitational pulls. It is good position to monitor the Sun.
- L2 – Similar effect which causes L1, also occurs on the ‘night’ side of Earth beyond Earth’s orbit. L2 is a great place from which to observe the larger Universe.
- L3 – It offers the potential to observe the far side of the Sun.
- L4 and L5 – To study the objects such as dust and asteroids tend to accumulate in these regions.
Key Facts for Prelims
International Day of Peace: Theme of 2019: “Climate Action for Peace”
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace.
About the International Day of Peace:
- The International Day of Peace, also called World Peace Day, is observed every year on September 21.
- It was first recognised by the United Nations in 1982.
- The theme for International Day of Peace 2019 is “Climate Action for Peace“.
Why this theme?
- In its message for International Day of Peace, the United Nations said 2019’s theme on climate action has been chosen as the global climate emergency is a threat to security and stability.
- Coastal areas and degraded inland areas are becoming uninhabitable and millions of people are being forced to seek safety and better lives elsewhere.
Centre allots world’s second-largest coal block to West Bengal
The centre has entered into an allotment agreement with West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL) for coal block allocation
About the Coal block allocation to WBPDCL
- In accordance with the provisions of Coal Block Allocation Rules, 2017, made under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957, WBPDCL has been allocated the block located in West Bengal.
- The coal block given is named as ‘Deocha Pachami Dewanganj-Harinsingha’ coal block, which is the world’s second largest coal block.
- The project is slated to generate both direct and indirect employment in West Bengal considerably and also contribute to the socio-economic development of the region.
- Further, the project envisages addressing immediate as well as the forthcoming coal and power requirements of the region. It can supply coal for the next 100 years.
- Under the provisions of Coal Blocks Allocation Rules, 2017 made under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the Central Government can specify the maximum number of coal blocks/amount of coal reserves or both that may be allocated to a company.
- Similarly, under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Rules, 2014, the Nominated Authority may specify the maximum number of mines or coal reserves or both that may be allocated to a company.
PM to be honoured with ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for Swachch Bharat Abhiyan
Indian Prime Minister will be honoured with the prestigious ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for his leadership and commitment to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan.
About Global Goalkeeper Award
- Global Goalkeeper Award are presented to leaders and individuals for their efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It is given annually by Bill and Melinda gates foundation.
- It is given in five categories: Progress, Changemaker, Campaign, Goalkeepers Voice and the Global Goalkeeper.
Delhi Police launches new app where you can pay traffic challan, file online FIR
Making it easy for Delhiites to file an online FIR (e-FIR) or pay traffic challans easily from their mobile phones, the Delhi Police has released a new app called ‘Tatpar’.
About Tatpar App
- It is a mobile application designed by the IT ministry along with the National e-Governance Division.
Features of the app
- The app is a one-stop destination for access to over 50 citizen-centric services like theft e-FIR registration, motor vehicle theft e-FIR registration, payment of traffic filing a lost report, checking complaint status, reporting of stolen mobile phones, applying for police clearance certificates, tenant/domestic help verification, searching for stolen vehicles etc.
- It amalgamates all the websites and mobile applications of Delhi Police.
- It has SOS button which enables the user to place a call on an emergency contact number (SOS) of their choice or reach out to the Police Control Room (PCR).
- It has Geoinformatics Technology for the first time to provide directions to nearest Police Station.
- Over the last three years, various units of Delhi Police developed web and mobile-based applications to facilitate delivery of citizen-centric services.
- However, these applications were required to be installed separately by the intending user and in order to access the web-based service delivery portals, the correct URL was required to be remembered.