IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 30th April 2018
All villages in India are now electrified
Part of: Mains GS Paper II, III- Government interventions, Inclusive growth
- All villages in India have now been electrified, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The milestone was achieved 12 days ahead of the 1,000-day deadline set by the government on August 15, 2015.
- Leisang in Manipur’s Senapati district became the last village to be connected to the national grid.
- As per official data, there were 18,452 villages without electricity when the NDA government took office in May 2014.
- The work of bringing power to India’s 597,464 census villages had been undertaken under the government’s Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana.
- According to government data, 1,236 villages are uninhabited and 35 have been notified as grazing reserves.
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- Inter-State Water Dispute
Inter-State frictions: Rejuvenating the Inter-State Council
A federal feud that has broken out over how taxes are to be shared between different states.
This highlights the stark problem—India does not have adequate institutions to manage conflicts between states.
The southern states have been complaining that the terms of reference of the Fifteenth Finance Commission are, in effect, punishment for their better economic performance.
The government thus needs to breathe life into the moribund Inter-State Council.
The Inter-State Council:
- It is a constitutional body that has representatives of the Union government as well as chief ministers of states.
- The council is chaired by the prime minister, and it also has a few Union ministers as permanent invitees.
- The Inter-State Council was set up in 1990 following the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. The constitutional roots of the council are to be found in Article 263, which recommends that the President of India set up such a council to deal with federal issues.
Reasons the Constitution gives for setting up the institution are:
- It will be useful when it comes to “inquiring into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between states”.
- To discuss subjects for which the components of the Indian union have common interests.
- To figure out how to coordinate policy.
Most of the institutional architecture of Indian federalism is focused on relations between the Union government and the states.
Even Articles 258 and 258A, which made their entry into the Constitution after the Seventh Amendment in 1957, can be seen as an attempt to provide space for state governments to legislate in areas that are usually the territory of the union, and vice versa.
There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions, especially since the Rajya Sabha is no longer treated as a council of states but as a parking lot for unelectable leaders of political parties.
Regional divergence could lead to further inter-state tensions—and matters could get worse once the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies is unfrozen in 2026.
Rejuvenating the Inter-State Council:
A rejuvenated Inter-State Council will have an important role to play in the coming years, especially since its members are the political leaders of their respective states.
- The council is now just a discussion group, but it should have a greater say in federal coordination in the future.
- The GST council has an innovative voting structure, with the Union government having a third of the vote while the states share the rest equally, irrespective of the size of their population or economy.
This is one option for a more empowered Inter-State Council.
- If the Inter-State Council is to emerge as the key institution to manage inter-state frictions, it first needs to have a regular meeting schedule.
- The council also has to have a permanent secretariat which will ensure that the periodic meetings are more fruitful.
There is an institutional gap in the Indian union right now—and it needs to be filled before inter-state frictions get out of control. This gap can be fulfilled by rejuvenating the Inter-State Council.
Connecting the dots:
- There is an institutional gap in the Indian union and it needs to be filled before inter-state frictions get out of control. This gap can be fulfilled by rejuvenating the Inter-State Council. Discuss.
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
India-China: Wuhan Summit
An ‘informal’ summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan concluded recently.
Significance of the summit:
- The summit was a much-needed one and has added to the ongoing attempts to bring the bilateral relations between the two Asian giants back on track.
- The Wuhan summit has underlined the necessity of an entente cordiale between the two countries, which have become increasingly distrustful of each other.
- The summit was about the desire to return to the negotiating table, not about negotiating anything specific.
India-China relations have been under great stress in recent years.
The 2017 military standoff at the Doklam tri-junction vitiated a relationship that was already reeling under a great deal of pressure.
However, the recent diplomatic activities including the Wuhan summit reflects a clear change of tone in Beijing and New Delhi, reflects a positive rethink on bilateral ties and a desire to avoid future military standoffs.
China is unlike India’s other neighbors. It is India’s biggest trading partner, and in many ways unavoidable from an economic and geopolitical point of view.
Wuhan Summit- Outcomes:
The summit’s outcomes may have been limited but are very valuable to stabilize the relationship.
- The most significant outcome pertains to the contested border.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi “underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region.
They decided to “issue strategic guidance to their militaries to strengthen communication”, essentially to avoid another Doklam-like confrontation.
- On the bilateral front, both sides addressed measures to better balance the ballooning trade deficit of about $52 billion (of about $84 billion bilateral trade), mostly by encouraging agricultural and pharmaceutical exports to China.
- Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi discussed a joint project in Afghanistan.
The proposed joint economic project in Afghanistan could be instrumental in mitigating the trust deficit between the two sides.
- They attempted to reduce the heat over unresolved issues and so-called “irritants” in the relationship, such as China’s block on India’s NSG membership bid or the UN’s terror designation for Pakistan-based groups, and India’s opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative or its use of the Tibet issue.
For this, existing mechanisms of dialogue will be strengthened, not allowing broader bilateral movement to be hit.
The message from Wuhan is an overarching one: that despite bilateral and geopolitical differences, India and China can resolve differences peacefully and through prolonged dialogue.
The Wuhan summit has recommitted India and China to managing bilateral relations in a manner that creates the conditions for the “Asian Century”, and Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi are well-placed to proceed along that path.
Much will depend on whether the understanding developed can prevent skirmishes and drives both the countries toward mutual cooperation.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the significance of the Wuhan Summit between India and China.
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