IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 20th July 2018
About No-Confidence Motion
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian Polity; Parliament
What is a No-Confidence Motion?
- According to the rules of the Indian Parliament, a government must always have majority support in the Lok Sabha in order to remain in power.
- This means that the government must demonstrate its strength on the floor of the House.
- If a member of the House feels that the government does not enjoy this majority, then they can move a ‘no-confidence’ motion.
- A minimum of 50 members have to accept the motion. If not, then the motion fails and the member who moved the motion is informed about it.
If the motion is accepted, then the onus is on the government to defeat the motion in order to prove its majority.
If it is passed by the House, then the council of ministers has to resign. Conversely, the prime minister can also move a ‘confidence’ motion in order to prove the strength of the government in the Lok Sabha.
Israel adopts Jewish nation law
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Affairs
- Israel’s Parliament adopted a law defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- This move has provoked fears that it could lead to discrimination against Arabs.
- Arab lawmakers and Palestinians called the law “racist” and said it legalised “apartheid”
- The legislation, adopted by Israel’s parliament makes Hebrew the country’s national language and defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest.
- Arabic, previously considered an official language, was granted only special status.
- Legislation stipulates only Jews have right of self-determination in the country
Article 371A of the Indian Constitution: Special status to Nagaland
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Indian Polity
- Article 371 (A) is a special provision granted to the state of Nagaland as a partial fulfillment of the 1960 agreement that later created the State in 1963.
- In this regard not only the customary law, social practice and belief of the people of Nagaland but also the resources of the state is verdantly remain safeguarded from the intervention of the union government and its various policies unless the State Assembly so decides by resolution.
The part XXI of the Indian Constitution Article 371(A) – Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland states that –
Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, –
No Act of Parliament in respect of –
- religious or social practices of the Nagas,
- Naga customary law and procedure,
- administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law,
- ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides;
The Governor of Nagaland shall have special responsibility with respect to law and order in the State of Nagaland for so long as in his opinion internal disturbances occurring in the Naga Hills-Tuensang Area immediately before the formation of that State continue therein or in any part thereof and in the discharge of his functions in relation thereto the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken.
India to expand polar research to Arctic
Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the Indian government now focusing priorities to the other pole — the Arctic.
It has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) as National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
About National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR)
- Since 1998, NCAOR is charged with conducting expeditions to India’s base stations to the continent.
Do you know?
- Countries bordering the Arctic Ocean are: Russia, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the United States.
- India is in talks with some of the Arctic circle countries to establish new observation systems in Arctic region.
- Currently, India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.
- India has three bases in Antarctica.
- India is already an observer at the Arctic Council — a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood and, in 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.
- IndArc is the country’s first moored-underwater observatory in the Artic.
2018 BRICS Media Forum, South Africa
Key decisions at BRICS forum:
- decision to establish a BRICS Media Academy and a BRICS news portal
- theme — ‘Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order’
- Forum to commemorate former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary
- Japan start-up is developing the world’s first artificial meteor shower.
- ALE, based in Tokyo, is in the final stages of developing two micro-satellites that will release tiny balls that glow brightly as they enter the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower.
- Each satellite will be able to carry 400 tiny balls whose chemical formula is a closely-guarded secret.
- Ejected from the satellite, the balls will glow as they plunge through the atmosphere.
Animal in news: Dhole
Part of: Prelims – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation
- Dhole – Indian wild dog
- IUCN Status : Endangered
- Dhole is already extinct in about 10 Asian countries
- It is a canid native to Central, South and Southeast Asia
- less than 2,500 individuals surviving in the wild globally
Factors contributing to this decline include habitat loss, loss of prey, competition with other species, persecution due to livestock predation and disease transfer from domestic dogs.
They occur in most of India south of the Ganges, particularly in the Central Indian Highlands and the Western and Eastern Ghats. In northeast India, it is present in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, and West Bengal and in the Indo-Gangetic Plain’s Terai region. Dhole populations in the Himalaya and northwest India are fragmented.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Plight of farmers
The below article presents the failures of present regime, especially with regard to farmers and rural development.
- There has been a successive sluggish agricultural growth during this NDA regime.
- Agricultural production suffered due to consecutive droughts.
- Data on farmer suicides has not been released from more than 2 years.
Farmers of India have expressed their vote of no confidence against this government.
Status under NDA regime: unmet promises
Government has failed to act on any of its major election promises in 2014.
- Failed to give highest priority to agricultural growth
- Failed to increase farmers income
- Failed to give highest priority to rural development
Economic Survey 2018 had also highlighted that farmers’ real income has “remained stagnant”.
- The concrete promise of higher public investment in agriculture did not materialise and in fact it has declined in terms of its share of GDP.
- The new farm insurance scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, has consumed thrice as much money as earlier schemes without either increasing the proportion of farmers who benefited from it, or giving a fair claim to the farmers.
- The promise of “welfare measures” — for farmers above 60, small farmers and farm labourers — was forgotten.
- The National Land Use Policy was never enacted.
- The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act was not reformed.
The next big promise was of ensuring “50% profit over the cost of production” to the farmers. After refusing to implement this promise on 2015, the government shifted the goalpost in the 2018 Budget by changing the definition of cost of production for the purpose of calculating the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
- Here again the Government failed to fulfil its promise of “cost+50%” as MSP, it did not even maintain the routine annual increase in MSP.
- Even the recent hike in MSP this year is lower than the year-on-year increase announced by the previous UPA government in 2008-09.
- The government’s failure to implement the MSP that it announced forced the farmers into distress sale of Kharif and Rabi crops in 2017-18.
- Lackadaisical response by the government to nationwide droughts in 2014-15 and 2015-16
- Revision of eligibility cap for compensation and cuts in contribution to States from the National Disaster Relief Fund.
- Poor response to declaration of drought, improvement in ration delivery, or response to drinking water crisis
- government’s lack of political will in implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
- Modi government’s ill-advised and shoddily implemented policy of demonetisation dealt a severe blow to agricultural markets, especially to fruit and vegetable markets, just when the farmers were recovering from the consecutive droughts.
- Government’s crude attempt to regulate livestock market by imposing ban on livestock movement and its protection to those guilty of lynching the suspected “cow smugglers” has disrupted livestock economic cycle, leading to loss of income on the one hand and aggravation of the widespread problem of animals destroying crops on the other.
- Government has diluted the Forest Rights Act and various other environmental and forest conservation laws substantially in order to help the transfer of common land and water resources from the adivasis to industry.
All these have hit the rural poor in general and farm labourers in particular. This government has justly acquired the reputation of being the most anti-farmer government in the history of independent India.
Connecting the dots
- The condition of farm sector and farmers is stubbornly stagnated despite several support measures. What could be the possible reasons for it? Analyze each reason and suggest alternative, if any.
- With farmers’ agitations and suicide on rise, India is surely facing an agrarian crisis. Discuss the root cause of the crisis. Also elaborate on what changes should be made in our agricultural policy so as to improve the livelihood of farmers as well as to ensure food security.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Government Budgeting
State of state government finances
State governments collectively spend much more than the Union government every year, but state budgets do not attract the attention they deserve. However, at the aggregate level, the state of state government finances has wider implications.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently released annual study of state government finances. It shows that states missed the fiscal deficit target of 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the third year in a row.
The fiscal deficit of states is estimated to be at 3.1% of GDP in 2017-18. This higher fiscal deficit at the state level in recent years has moderated the benefit of fiscal consolidation by the Central government.
Do you know?
After the implementation of the fiscal responsibility and budget management rules (FRBM) in the last decade, state governments improved their finances significantly.
What is FRBM act?
(FRBM) became an Act in 2003. The objective of the Act is to ensure inter-generational equity in fiscal management, long run macroeconomic stability, better coordination between fiscal and monetary policy, and transparency in fiscal operation of the Government.
- The FRBM rule specifies reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2008-09 with annual reduction target of 0.3% of GDP per year by the Central government. Similarly, revenue deficit has to be reduced by 0.5% of the GDP per year with complete elimination to be achieved by 2008-09.
- It is the responsibility of the government to adhere to these targets. The Finance Minister has to explain the reasons and suggest corrective actions to be taken, in case of breach.
- FRBM Act provides a legal institutional framework for fiscal consolidation. It is now mandatory for the Central government to take measures to reduce fiscal deficit, to eliminate revenue deficit and to generate revenue surplus in the subsequent years. The Act binds not only the present government but also the future Government to adhere to the path of fiscal consolidation. The Government can move away from the path of fiscal consolidation only in case of natural calamity, national security and other exceptional grounds which Central Government may specify.
- Further, the Act prohibits borrowing by the government from the Reserve Bank of India, thereby, making monetary policy independent of fiscal policy.
- The Act bans the purchase of primary issues of the Central Government securities by the RBI after 2006, preventing monetization of government deficit. The Act also requires the government to lay before the parliament three policy statements in each financial year namely Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement; Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement and Macroeconomic Framework Policy Statement.
- To impart fiscal discipline at the state level, the Twelfth Finance Commission gave incentives to states through conditional debt restructuring and interest rate relief for introducing Fiscal Responsibility Legislations (FRLs). All the states have implemented their own FRLs.
Why there is shortfall in the finances recently?
- The deterioration in 2015-16 and 2016-17 was largely due to the takeover of debt of power distribution companies under the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) scheme, government finances in the last fiscal were affected by factors such as a shortfall in revenue, implementation of pay commission recommendations and farm loan waivers.
- Fiscal slippage in recent years has also led to deterioration in the quality of expenditure, with a rise in revenue expenditure which means that higher fiscal deficits have not augmented state capacity, which can push growth.
- Expenditure on loan waivers cost state governments’ budget to the extent of 0.32% of GDP. It also affects the ability of the state to undertake capital expenditure which can affect growth in the medium term.
- State governments are increasingly raising resources from the bond market; higher issuance can complicate fiscal management. This could further raise the cost of borrowing and affect their ability to undertake development work.
- The proportion of state deficits in the general government deficit has gone up in recent years. Large general government borrowing keeps interest rates elevated and affects private investment.
The way ahead
The states have to resist populist farm loan waivers so that their finances could be in much better shape. Instead the governments can provide world class logistical infrastructure in the form of transport, adequate cold storage facilities, and better price discovery and so on
The government needs to significantly improve its tax to GDP ratio to be able to serve its running cost without borrowing and thus maintain a primary surplus.
Primary deficit remains vulnerability for India. It signifies India’s state and Central governments are not collecting enough revenue to cover their running costs.
India needs better fiscal management at both the state and Central levels to avoid crowding out the private sector. This will enable higher investment and help attain higher sustainable growth.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Which of the following country is not a member of this council?
- United states of America
Q.2) Consider the following countries:
- Russian Federation
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Which of the above are the members of the ‘Arctic Council’?
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 3 and 5
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 4 and 5
Q.3) ____________ is situated at 66½° south of the equator
- Arctic Circle
- Tropic of Capricorn
- Antarctic Circle
- Tropic of Cancer
Q.4) Consider the following statements:
- A no-confidence motion need not state the reasons on which it is based, unlike a censure motion.
- There is no mention of a No-Confidence Motion in the Constitution of India.
- The Leader of the Opposition decides whether a No-Confidence Motion is in order or not.
- A No-Confidence Motion is moved only against the Council of Ministers
Choose the correct statement/s from the code below.
- 1 and 3 only
- 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 4
Q.5) Consider the following and select the correct match:
- Article 371-A: Special provision for Nagaland
- Article 371-C: Special provision for Assam
- Article 371- G: Special provision for Mizoram
Select the correct code
- 1 only
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Should WhatsApp be held accountable for lynchings?
Dangerous law: on Israel’s ‘nation state’ law
Lynching & the law
Making it difficult to ‘Other’ the Muslim
Diluting a right
The MSP Illusion
A lesson from Arunachal Pradesh