IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 7th September, 2016
TOPIC: General Studies 2
Bilateral, regional, and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Effect of policies of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
11th G-20 Summit-Towards revival of world economy
In its 11th meeting G20 was held in Hangzhou, China (4th to 5th Sept 2016) to discuss efforts to reform global economic governance.
With the lessons from the global economy financial meltdown in 2008 policymakers at the G20 summit explored new ways to reboot global growth.
2016 theme: “Building an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”
Highlights of G20 Summit
The leaders committed to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement by the end of 2016 and call on other WTO members to do the same.
The agreement was aimed at promoting global trade through easing Customs procedures, addressing cross border financial flows derived from illicit activities, including deliberate trade mis-invoicing, which hampers the mobilization of domestic resources for development.
Leaders Pledged to continue to work for a globally fair and modern International tax system, foster growth and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies
Leaders vowed to go ahead on the ongoing co-operation on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), exchange of tax information, tax capacity-building of developing countries and tax policies to promote growth and tax certainty.
SDG (Sustainable Development Goals):
G20 leaders will continue to prioritize its work on food security, nutrition, sustainable agricultural growth and rural development as a significant contribution to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Strengthening labour market institutions and policies which can support productivity and promote decent work, and therefore higher, sustainable wage growth, in particular for the low-income workers
To work for ensuring the benefits from economic growth, globalization and technological innovation widely shared, creating more and better jobs, reducing inequalities and promoting inclusive labour force participation
They agreed at the summit that refugees are a global issue and the burden must be shared. They called for strengthening humanitarian assistance for refugees.
Support policies that encourage firms of all sizes, in particular women and youth entrepreneurs, women-led firms and SMEs, to take full advantage of global value chains
Bone of contention:
China and the US ratified the Paris Agreement ahead of the G20 summit and handed over their countries’ instruments of joining the agreement to UN Secretary-General Ban-ki-moon. India is not ready in terms of domestic actions to ratify before 2016 end, but will do so at the earliest.
In global slowdown, issue of protectionism is the big concern for foreign investors, with increasing difficulty of doing business in China, driven by its new laws and policies.
Excess steel capacity in China resulting in a flood of cheap imports into India, the UK and other economies. This has hit the sales and profits of domestic steel producers and also impacted their liquidity, which in turn has affected their capacity to repay loans. The cascading effect of this is the number of NPAs with the banks.
No agreement reached by Russia and USA over Syria.
The group has expanded its agenda and activities dramatically since first G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2008, yet it remains an informal group with all flexibility and ease that implies.
In its 11th Summit numerous low-key objectives shared by multiple G20 members, such as strengthening enforcement against international tax avoidance and advancing cooperation on Base Erosion Profit Shifting certainly got a shot in the arm.
Yet there is no comparison to the patchy and vague nature of progress in these smaller goals to the collaboratively evolved financial regulation architecture that emerged from the ashes of the 2008 meltdown and put the brakes on excessive risk-taking by banks.
Whether these things can really help the G20 take charge of the global order remains a moot point.
Connecting the dots:
How far G20 as an institution relevant in present time? Is it time to re-examine the G20’s purpose and recast its vision and mission entirely? Discuss.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Enhance Voter Secrecy- Use of ‘Totaliser’ machines
In news: SC has set deadline for union government to decide on introducing the totaliser machines.
In 2008, Election Commission of India (ECI) had proposed for introduction of totaliser machines which was backed by Law commission.
Rationale: The current system (booth-wise counting) revealed the voting trends in each polling station which made the voters in that vicinity open to harassment, intimidation and post-election victimisation.
Law panel noted: Before the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs), as provided under Rule 59A of the Conduct of Election Rules, counting of votes used to take place by mixing of ballot papers in light of apprehended intimidation and victimisation of electors. The totaliser machine is based on similar lines.
Similar to the existing Rule 59A, the Commission proposed to amend Rule 66A to empower the ECI to decide when and in which constituency and polling booths, to employ a totaliser, after taking into consideration various factors and the overall context of the elections.
Involvement of government
Recently, based on a writ petition, Supreme Court directed the union government to take final decision on introduction of totaliser machines.
The law ministry being the administrative ministry for the poll body (ECI) is of the view that no electoral law will have to be amended to introduce totalisers and amendment to Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 will suffice.
Totaliser machines- Enhancing principle of ballot secrecy
Totaliser machine mixes votes from various booths before counting. As per the ECI’s suggestion, the results of votes polled in a group of 14 EVMs (hence, in 14 polling stations) would be calculated and announced together. Thus, there will be an overall,not booth-wise result after polling.
The totaliser is expected to prevent disclosure of voting patterns across polling stations, thus furthering a level of secrecy in voting.
This will allay the fears of voters against any pre-poll intimidation or post-poll reprisal by any candidate or political party.
The party workers devise a strategy of mobilising voters, motivating them, and facilitating their arrival at the polling station to cast their ballot.
Caste card– The parties try to have workers, as far as possible, from the same castes managing the booth as the dominant castes of voters in that particular booth.
These strategies increase their chances of winning.
The counting at booth level gives the parties and candidates get a fair sense of who voted for them and who did not.
It helps the parties and candidates to plan strategy for booth level for next elections.
If the booth level results were used for such limited but useful political purpose, there was no problem in continuing with present system of booth level counting.
However, there have been numerous instances of pre-poll intimidation and post-poll reprisal by candidates and political parties of voters which has necessitated the introduction of totaliser.
Effect of Totaliser
Maintenance of secrecy– Even when a lone voter casts his vote, he/she can be assured of secrecy of his ballot, as against previous booth-counting which would reveal his voting preference.
No more harassment– there have been incidences of losing candidates and polling parties harassing the voters who have voted against them.
Freedom of choice- without any worries of post poll intimidation, the candidate can freely cast this vote.
On Political Parties
The political parties should not hamper devising of their booth-level mobilisation strategies as they have information by means of:
Local party workers give a fair sense of the social composition of voters of specific booths.
Poll surveys also give a good sense of a particular community leaning towards which party, ahead of an election.
Empirical evidences have suggested that voters also have a fair sense of which party cares for the interests of their caste and community.
Booth results gave the parties an opportunity to increase their voter base by analysing the voting pattern. Now, the parties will have to depend on largely indirect basis.
The party may find difficult to devise strategic plan for upcoming elections for any change in voting pattern.
The increased secrecy has the power to change the voting patterns. The caste based and religion based voting may experience withdrawal and thereby paving way for welfare and development oriented voting.
EVMs were also doubted for its utility in such a vast country when they were introduced. Now their significance is beyond dispute.
The introduction of EVMs has made a huge difference to the voting exercise and drastically reduced malpractices such as proxy voting. To avoid discrepancies that crop up time to time, systematic and periodic upgradation is necessary.
Thus, the refining of rules of conduct of elections is a fair play, given the social diversity of Indian voters and the frequency of elections at various levels.
However, the totaliser machine should be introduced in a phased manner after ascertaining its foolproof functioning with necessary trials.
Though, the totaliser may not completely eliminate the possibility of victimisation of voters but it is a way forward towards enhancing the basic principle of secrecy of vote.
The political parties should embrace the new reforms for greater democratic accountability.
Connecting the dots:
Should booth level results be replaced by totaliser machines? Critically examine.
How is secrecy of ballot related to free and fair election? Discuss.