IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 6th September, 2016
TOPIC:General Studies 1
Salient features of Indian Society, diversity of India
Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Key requirements for sustainable poverty reduction
Poverty in India
Since independence, the country has registered a significant overall growth rate, and there has been a progressive increase in the per capita income, yet there has been a deterioration in the living standards of a large section of the population.
The world’s ability to end extreme poverty by 2030–a key element of the Sustainable Development Goals–hinges on India’s ability to make strong and sustained inroads in reducing poverty.
According to World Bank report India is hometo26% of the global extreme poor. The poverty challenge in India remains broad, and sometimes contradictory.
The country is home to the largest number of poor people in the world, as well as the largest number of people who have recently escaped poverty. Despite an emerging middle class, many of India’s people are still vulnerable to falling back into poverty.
India’s performance on key non-monetary indicatorsof well-being such as child nutrition and improved sanitation facilities lags behind countries at similar stages of development, India’s middle income peers such as China, Vietnam, Brazil and Turkey.
Nonetheless, the story of India’s transformation remains one of optimism. Although the full potential of economic growth to reduce poverty is yet to be unleashed, the links between growth and poverty reduction have become stronger than in the previous decade. In addition, the manner in which growth has impacted poverty in urban and rural areas, as well as in different sectors, has changed significantly.
Lessons from the past
India has made tremendous progress in reducing absolute poverty in the past two decades. Now, to sustain progress and bring about deeper changes for sustainable poverty reduction and shared prosperity in India, following are the key requirements:
Accelerating rural poverty reduction:
With four out of every five of India’s poor people living in rural areas, progress will need to focus on the rural poor.
It’s not just about agricultural growth, which has long been considered the key driver of poverty reduction. In fact, rural India is not predominantly agricultural and shares many of the economic conditions of smaller urban areas.
Capitalizing on growing connectivity between rural and urban areas, and between the agriculture, industry and services sectors, has been effective in the past two decades and holds promise for the future.
Creating more and better jobs:
The road out of poverty in India has been built on the performance of the labor market, but also benefited from rising transfers and remittances, and favorable demographics among other factors.
Future efforts will need to address job creation in more productive sectors, which has until now been lukewarm and has yielded few salaried jobs that offer stability and security.
Focusing on women and Scheduled Tribes:
The most worrying trends are the low participation of women in the labor market and the slow progress among scheduled tribes.
India’s women have been withdrawing from the labor force since 2005 and less than one-third of working age women are now in the labor force. As a result, India today ranks last among BRICS countries, and close to the bottom in South Asia in female labor force participation.
Scheduled Tribes started with the highest poverty rates of all of India’s social groups, and have progressed more slowly than the rest.
Women and Scheduled Tribes are at risk of being locked out of India’s growth and prosperity.
Creating more “good” locations:
Where people live largely shapes their prospects in life. India’s states continue to see large and growing differences in poverty levels and basic opportunities.
More and more of India’s poor are concentrated in the poorest states, and even within relatively prosperous states, certain pockets of deprivation persist where people are unable to share in the state’s successes.
Improving human development outcomes for the poor:
This is central to improving their quality of life and income earning opportunities.
The recent past shows that some problems, such as undernutrition and open defecation, are endemic and not only confined to the poor but others too, and have not improved with economic growth.
Better health, sanitation and education will not only help raise the productivity of millions, they will also empower the people to meet their aspirations, and provide the country with new drivers of economic growth.
The Indian economy is changing and so is the relationship between economic growth and poverty reduction. The process of structural transformation of the economy has intensified. As this process continues, the country can be expected to increasingly turn to growth in its urban and non-agricultural economy to drive future poverty reduction. What needs to be remembered is that, elimination of poverty is not merely a question of economic upliftment but is a social and a political issue. It related to the level of the politico-social awareness of people which will help the country to sustain progress and bring about deeper changes.
Connecting the dots:
After a long neglect of the poor during the British rule, the measurers adopted after independence signify recognition of poverty and the social responsibility for alleviating it. How far we have succeeded? Discuss.
Separation of powers between various organs , dispute redressal mechanisms and institution
Structure, organization and functioning of Executive and Judiciary.
Judicial activism and violation of separation of powers
Judiciary squashed a unanimously passed parliamentary bill (NJAC) without giving a chance for judicial transparency.
A tussle is going on between judiciary and the legislature over judicial appointments.
Recently, the judiciary has taken some unconventional decisions like:
Banning registration of diesel cars above 2000cc
Imposing environment cess
In USA, judicial activism and “ideological judging” have reached new heights- the federal judges once, contradicting their previous positions, proceeded to decide a presidential election.
Thus, the role of judiciary today seems to be powerful than ever.
Evolution of separation of power
According to French philosopher Montesquieu– judiciary occupies a unique position within the separation of the power process.
German scholar Karl Loewenstein interpreted Montesquieu – judicial function should be confined to policy execution and not extend to policy decision and policy control.
However, the judicial function has undergone a massive change since the 18th century.
Many modern constitutions, including of India and Pakistan give position to judiciary that is at par with executive and legislature.
The new classes of constitution accord strong inter-organ controls toward executive and legislature through-
Supervising and controlling the administrative activities of executive with their conformity with statutory provisions.
Judicial review of the constitutionality of a legislation passed by the parliament.
Judicial Activism in India
Introduction of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) has seen umpteen number of cases where the judiciary issued orders which, by convention, was done by the executive.
Few examples are
Ban on supply of loose 2T oils at petrol pumps
Restrictions on school buses
Construction of inter-state bus terminals in the north and south-west tips of Delhi
Compulsory wearing of seatbelts and parking charges
Cleanliness in housing colonies, etc.
The most radical of all judicial pronouncements is Supreme Court’s direction that the rivers of India shall be inter-linked within 10 years.
Thus, this is the proof that judiciary has linked itself to technology, scientific inputs, urban planning etc., which is handled by executive or any technical branch of the government.
Public Interest Litigation
The purpose of origination of PIL was to give legal aid to disadvantaged or poor sections of the society.
Thus, landlords, businessmen, corporations and affluent persons were not the only clients of courts. With PIL, the common man, the disadvantaged and marginalised sections of society had also easy access to the Court with the help of social activists.
However, over the years, social dimension has been diluted and ‘public cause litigation’ has emerged which involves correcting the actions or omissions of the executive or public officials or departments of government or public bodies.
Environment cess by SC- Violation of constitution of India?
Recently, a two judge bench imposed an environment compensation cess equal to 1% of the ex-showroom price of diesel vehicles above 2000cc.
This makes it compulsory for the vehicle manufacturers to pay the environment cess without which they cannot register the vehicle with the motor vehicles department.
Further, the Supreme Court also directed the CPCB to create a bank account in a PSB specifically for this purpose.
But, the question is- If judiciary is allowed to impose a cess?
Article 265 of the Constitution of India
Art 265 states that no tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law.
A tax is a compulsory exaction of money by a public authority for public purposes enforceable by law and is not a payment for any services rendered.
Cess is a tax and is generally used when the levy is for some specific administrative expense, suggested by the name of the cess (eg. Swachh Bharat Cess and Krishi Kalyan Cess).
Authority of lawà SC explained this in 2001 case (Saurashtra cement vs Union of India)
The tax proposed to be levied must be within the legislative competence of the legislature imposing the tax
The law must be validly enacted
The law must not be a colourable use of or a fraud upon the legislative power to tax.
Thus, art 265 makes it clear that only the legislature has the power to impose any form of tax which includes a cess as well.
Hence, the SC imposition of cess violates the doctrine of separation of powers and ignores the limitations on judiciary as provided in the Constitution of India.
But, environment pollution is a serious issue which needs to be addressed. Assuming that, if CPCB imposes a similar environment cess on diesel vehicles above 2000cc, a vehicle manufacturer could challenge this cess and case is before the Supreme Court.
What the law says:
As a general rule, the levy of tax can only be done by the legislature.
However, if the legislature permits levy by a subordinate authority, such is a valid tax/cess.
In the above assumption, CPCB is not permitted by legislature to levy environmental cess on diesel vehicles above 2000cc.
The Supreme Court will have to strike down the levy as it being unconstitutional for want of authority of law.
There have been several cases wherein SC has held that a statutory body cannot levy tax unless permitted by the legislature. Thus, judiciary is well aware that if such levy is upheld, it will give rampant power to executive.
Thus, the main concern of environment conservation and protection will remain unaddressed.
By ignoring all precedents, SC has levied the environmental cess which is a power enjoyed by the legislature.
It is encouraging to know that the highest court of Indian judiciary is concerned for the environmental protection. However, within its purview, it could have directed the legislature to take up the matter in parliament to impose such cess and order the executive to diligently implement it when enacted.
Judiciary is the custodian of principles of constitution and it cannot afford to overreach its boundaries. Hence, no method of judicial activism justifies SC order which violates the fundamental principle of Constitution of India.
Connecting the dots:
Judicial activism is not a part of ‘basic structure’ of constitution. However, if the executives are not successfully carrying out their duties, is judicial activism justified? Critically analyse.
Judicial review is accepted but judicial activism is violation of separation of powers which forms one of the core values of constitution of India. Do you agree? Substantiate.