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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 7th August, 2015

  • IAS baba
  • August 7, 2015
  • 4
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs August 2015, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs- 7th August, 2015

 

NATIONAL

 

Banning Internet Pornography :Is a right violated??

  • Following Department of Telecommunication(DoT) order, Internet Service Provider’s(ISP’s) blocked 857 porn sites in India.
  • The DoT order said that content hosted on porn sites relate to morality and decency and is, therefore, subject to “reasonable restrictions” on the Fundamental Right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • In order to block the sites, the DoT relied on Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act.
  • Section 79 lays down conditions under which ISPs or intermediaries are exempt from culpability for offensive content uploaded by a third party. It obligates the intermediaries to exercise “due diligence”, and to act on the orders of the court or the government and its agencies to qualify for immunity.
  • Section 79(3)(b) states that intermediaries would not be entitled to exemption from liability if they failed to “expeditiously” remove or disable access to objectionable material “upon receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the government or its agency that any information… residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary” was being used to commit unlawful acts.
  • Also DoT used section 292 of the Indian Penal Code which relates to “morality and decency” to issue an order, as pornography would be an act of obscenity.

Background :

  • In 2013, an Indore lawyer filed a PIL in supreme court demanding for an action plan and an exclusive law to contain the proliferation of pornographic sites on the Internet, especially in view of their adverse impact on children.
  • In April 2013, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Ministries of Information Technology, Information and Broadcasting, and Home Affairs regarding the above issue.
  • In August 2014, the government expressed difficulty in blocking porn sites, saying many of these servers were located outside India. The government also told the court that a Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee had been constituted under the IT Act, and the availability of porn on the Internet would be deliberated upon.
  • On 31stjuly2015 , DoT issued orders to ISP’s asking for the block of pornographic sites.
  • The DoT order said that content hosted on porn sites relate to morality and decency and is, therefore, subject to “reasonable restrictions” on the Fundamental Right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitutiongurantees individual freedom,Article 19(2) allows the state to impose “reasonable restrictions” on its exercise “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence”.

 Is a right violated??

  • A bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu said: “Let us keep in mind the possible contention of a person who could ask what crime have I committed by browsing adult web sites in private within the four walls of my house. Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law”.
  • Section 292 of the IPC which codifies the offence of obscenity has been outdated and failed to amend itself with the modern community standards.

Now it is left to the apex court to the decide on whether the right to access to pornographic content is a fundamental right?

Iasbaba’s views:

  • Just mere blocking of some pornographic websites, do not stop the sexual violence activities that’s taking place against women and children.
  • Rather adopting a curative approach ,government may try adopting preventive approaches like making background check compulsory when hiring employees in education and other private organisations, sensitising employees towards feelings of women , imparting sex education to children in schools etc.

Connecting the dots:

  • Is Individual freedom guaranteed under article 19 of the constitution absolute? Comment.
  • Laws in India have failed to amend themselves in changing societal conditions. Critically analyse.

 

Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) :Slimming Down

  • A NitiAayog taskforce chaired by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister has apparentlygraph3-min recommended that 25 per cent of the funds under Centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) be made available to states as untied monies.
  • This recommendation should be viewed in the context of the fairly substantial changes proposed to the CSS policy framework, as well as the 14th Finance Commission (FFC) recommendations on devolution of tax revenues.

 

What are Centrally Sponsored Schemes?

  • Centrally Sponsored Schemes arespecial purpose grants extended by the Central Government to States to encourage and motivate State governments to plan and implement programmes that help attain national goals and objectives.
  • There were other types of Central Assistance before 2015-16, but almost all of them are discontinued as states got higher revenue after the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.
  • These are extended by the Union Government to States under Article 282 of the Constitution.

What is the Importance of Article 282?

  • The article 282 of the Constitution is an insightful saving provision.
  • Its purpose is to enable the governments to meet unexpected public purpose contingencies.
  • The Union or a State may make any grants for any public purpose, notwithstanding that the purpose is not one with respect to which Parliament or the Legislature of the State, as the case may be, may make laws.

What is the current status of centrally sponsored schemes?

  • At present, there are 72 CSS, including six new schemes introduced by the NDA government.
  • During the UPA regime, the number of CSS was reduced from 147 to 66.
  • Rationalization of CSS is important as Centre has decided to raise state’s share in taxes to 42 per cent from 32 per cent.
  • In line with the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission ,Modi government decided to discontinue support to eight centrally-sponsored schemes, bringing their number down to 58, as it gears up for greater devolution of central funds to the states, in line with its vision of cooperative federalism.

What is a Finance Commission?

  • It is a body set up under Article 280 of the Constitution.
  • Its primary job is to recommend measures and methods on how revenues need to be distributed between the Centre and states.
  • Besides suggesting the mechanism to share tax revenues, the Commission also lays down the principles for giving out grant-in-aid to states and other local bodies.
  • In the case of 14th Commission, these principles will apply for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2015.

What kind of work a Finance Commission has to do?

  • The commission has to take on itself the job of addressing the imbalances that often arise between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the states, respectively.
  • Primarily, it has to ensure a sense of equality in public services across the states.
  • The head of the latest i.e. 14th Finance Commission is Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Mr. Y.V. Reddy, is the Chairman.

Are the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission unanimous?

  • It appears there is a dissent. The report is believed to contain a dissent note from Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen.
  • It has recommended an increase in the share of states in the centre’s tax revenue from the current 32 per cent to 42 per cent.
  • This is indeed the single largest increase ever recommended by a Finance Commission.

What does it means to States?

  • As against a total devolution of Rs. 3.48 lakh crore approximately in 2014-15, the total devolution to the States in 2015-16 will be Rs. 5.26 lakh crore approximately, a year-on-year increase of Rs. 1.78 lakh crore approximately.
  • “The higher tax devolution will allow States greater autonomy in financing and designing schemes as per their needs and requirements,” says the report.
  • Practically, it will give more power to states in determining how they spend this money.

Connecting the Dots:

  • What is the difference between centrally sponsored scheme and Central Sector Scheme?
  • What are the recommendations of the Chaturvedi committee with regard to CSS?
  • What are the issues concerning CSS? And how is it affecting the Centre-State relationship?

 

ECONOMICS

 

Generic drugs ban prompts India to freeze EU trade talks

  • A firm India put off its negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with theMedicines Agency-min European Union (EU), scheduled for this month (August), following an import ban imposed by the latter on 700 drugs tested by Hyderabad-based GVK Biosciences.
  • The GOI also said that it has been trying to pursue the matter across various regulatory bodies in the European Union (EU), and added the pharmaceutical industry was one of the country’s flagship sectors with a commendable reputation for sound research and safety protocols over the years.
  • However, EU has stressed that the ban on 700 generic drugs was based on scientific and not trade considerations.
  • The India-EU trade talks, formally known as the Broad- based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), remain stuck as both sides are not satisfied with each other’s offers.

Background:

  • India and EU have been negotiating for the proposed free-trade agreements since 2007. The talks have seen set backs due to differences regarding lack of access for Indians to EU’s labour market and high taxes imposed on liquor and car imports from Europe. The latest development comes as yet another setback for the talks to progress further.

What is free trade agreement?

  • The EU and India are committed to further increase their trade flows in goods and services as well as bilateral investment and access to public procurement through the Free Trade Agreement negotiations that were launched in 2007.
  • Substantial progress has been made so far, and key areas that need to be further discussed include improved market access for some goods and services, government procurement and geographical indications, and sustainable development.

What is Broad- based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)?

  • India and the European Commission (with a negotiating mandate from the European Council) initiated negotiations on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in 2007.
  • As of March 2015, negotiations remained deadlocked after failing to resolve differences related to matters such as the levels of permissible FDI, market access, domestic-sourcing obligations in multi-brand retail, manufacture of generic medicines, anti-dumping safeguards, greenhouse gas emissions, civil nuclear energy generation legislation, farming subsidies, replacement of traditional cash-crops with sterile genetically-engineered and patented variants, regulation & safeguards for the financial and insurance sectors, cooperation on tax evasion & money laundering, overseas financing and monitoring of NGOs in India, work visa restrictions, technology transfer restrictions, cooperation on embargoes (Russia[40] & Iran), etc.

 

How will this Ban affect Indian Economy?

  • The ban will affect India’s annual exports of $15 billion. According to Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), India could lose about $1-1.2 billion worth of drug exports because of the decision taken by the European Commission to ban the drugs. In 2014-15, out of the total exports of pharmaceutical products, Europe accounted for 20%.
  • The ban is to come into effect from August 21 and will apply in all the 28 member-nations.
  • There was also temporary ban, proposed by the European Commission, includes mangoes, eggplant, the taro plant, bitter gourd and snake gourd in the past.
  • The two-way commerce between the two sides stood at about $99 billion in 2014-15.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Though India and EU have been negotiating for the proposed free-trade agreements since 2007, they are often met with setbacks. What were/are these setbacks till date? What measures have been taken by both the governments in this regard?
  • How important is the pharmaceutical industry to India’s economy?
  • Write a note on India-EU-28 cooperation.

 

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