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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th December 2019

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  • December 7, 2019
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th December 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th December 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Fifteenth Finance Commission

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Polity

In News

  • The 15th Finance Commission submitted its interim report on devolution formula for the financial year 2020-21 to President Ram NathKovind.
  • The devolution formula spells out how the Centre plans to share the taxes collected by it with the States.
  • Since, the formula is to be applied in the new Budget, the award has not been made public.
  • Now, the report will first be studied and then a final view will be taken by the Cabinet following which it will be tabled in Parliament just before the Union Budget next year. Only after that will the contents be made public.
  • Normally, the government accepts the award in toto, however, it is free to accept or reject other suggestions in the report.

Do You Know?

  • The Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution on 27th of November 2017 to make recommendations for a period of five years from 1st April 2020 to 31 March 2025.
  • However, the Gazette Notification dated 27 November 2019 mandated the Commission to submit the report for the financial year 2020-21 by 30 November 2019 and then the final report for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2026 by 30 October 2020.
  • This extension has been necessitated after Article 370 of the Constitution was amended. Following this the State of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Thus, there was a need to change the terms of reference and extension of the term.
  • The last time an interim report was submitted was during the term of 11th Finance Commission (2000-05), when the new States of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh were created. 

India State Level Disease Burden Initiative (ISLDBI) 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III –Health & Environment

In News

  • Union Environment Minister stated in Lok Sabha that there were no Indian studies that showed a “direct correlation” between pollution and mortality. However, this is in contrast with the report of ISLDBI which was funded by Union Health Ministry
  • India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative is a venture of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Some of the findings of ISLDBI 2018 report are:

  • India, with 18% of the world’s population, has 26% of the global premature deaths and disease burden due to air pollution.
  • One in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017.
  • Over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age.
  • In 2017, 77% population of India was exposed to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 above the recommended limit by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), attributable to air pollution in India in 2017 for major non-communicable diseases were at least as high as those attributable to tobacco use.
  • The average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher had the air pollution levels been less than the minimal level causing health loss
  • The highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.

Mission Parivar Vikas (MPV)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II- Government Schemes

In News

  • Mission Parivar Vikas (MPV) was launched by Union Health Ministry in 145 high focus districts having the highest total fertility rates(TFR) in the country
  • These 145 districts are in the seven high focus, high TFR states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam that constitute 44% of the country’s population. 
  • The main objective of ‘Mission Parivas Vikas’ will be to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
  • Data suggests that these 145 districts have TFR of more than/equal to 3.0 and are home to 28% of India’s population (about 33 Crores). 
  • The scheme aims for immediate, special and accelerated efforts to reach the replacement level fertility goals of 2.1 by 2025
  • These districts also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators as about 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts Moreover, 115 of these districts (79%) have high percentage of adolescent mothers.

Train18

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In News

  • One of the main reasons the Indian Railways decided to halt the production of Train18 rakes at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is that the self-propelled train set is heavier and consumes more power compared to Shatabdi Express on the same route and speed
  • Train18 rakes, later launched as Vande Bharat Express, are running successfully connecting New Delhi with Varanasi and Katra, the Railway Ministry is looking at a light weight version that could conserve power
  • Thus, the government plans to float global tenders to procure the train sets and not from the ICF that indigenously built Train18 in a record 18 months.
  • All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF) has stated that the move to halt production and float global tenders to procure production from foreign players had hit the morale of the skilled workforce in the ICF.

About Train 18

  • It is India’s first engine-less train. It doesn’t have a locomotive to pull the coaches, rather it is a self-propelled trainset.
  • The semi-high-speed trainset can reach a maximum speed of 200 km per hour.
  • The 16-coach trainset has world class amenities such as on-board Wi-Fi to GPS-based passenger information system, ‘touch-free’ bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points etc.

Blue Water Force

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Security

In News

  • On December 4, Navy Day, the office of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called Indian Navy is the Formidable Blue Water Force.
  • A Blue Water Navy is one that has the capacity to project itself over a much bigger maritime area than its maritime borders. Simply put, it is a Navy that can go into the vast, deep oceans of the world.
  • However, while most navies have the capacity to send ships into the deep oceans, a Blue Water Force is able to carry out operations far from its borders, without being required to return to its home port to refuel or re-stock.
  • While it is evident that Blue Water navies belong to the most powerful nations, there is no one internationally agreed upon definition. Owning one or more aircraft carriers is sometimes seen as a marker.
  • Navies are classified in terms of colours. A navy whose operations are restricted close to the shore, where the water is muddy, is called a Brown Water Force. A navy that can go farther out is called a Green Water Force. And then there is a Blue Water Force.

Palestine-India techno park

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – International Relations

In News

  • India releases one more tranche of funds worth $3 million, for the construction of a Palestine-India Techno Park.
  • In total, India has made a commitment of investing over $12 million, part of India’s broader framework of capacity building in Palestine. The Indian government pays $3 million on a half-yearly basis.
  • Once completed, the Technopark will serve as an IT hub in Palestine with complete IT facilities offering a one-stop solution to all IT-related service requirements, providing state-of-the-art technology, hosting IT companies and foreign companies benefitting local business, Universities and other institutions
  • The park will be located next to the Birzeit University Academic Campus located in West Bank near Ramallah.
  • In 2017, the park became a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), a global network of science and technology parks.

India-Palestine Relationship

  • In 1974, India became the first non-Arab state to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
  • India maintained its support for the two-state solution and championed a “sovereign, independent, united” Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem. 
  • In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the State of Palestine in Gaza, which was shifted to Ramallah in 2003. 
  • In July 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine.
  • Trade between India and Palestine stands at roughly US $40 million and spans automotive spare parts, medical tourism, agro-products, textiles, agro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals among others.

(MAINS FOCUS)


POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism

Creamy layer in SCs, STs 

Context:

  • The Narendra Modi government’s demand for a review of a 2018 Supreme Court verdict in Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case has brought focus back on the exclusion of ‘creamy layer’ within the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) categories from reservation benefits.
  • Asserting that the creamy layer concept, which distinguishes between the affluent among disadvantaged sections, should not apply to SCs/STs, the central government has demanded that the matter be referred to a seven-judge bench.

What does creamy layer mean?

  • The concept has its genesis in a 1992 Supreme Court judgment in the Indira Sawhney vs Union of India case. Since then, two other significant Supreme Court judgments — one in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India and another in the Jarnail Singh case — have laid down the law in this regard

The Mandal Commission case

  • The Mandal Commission was set up in 1979 under Article 340 of the Constitution by the Janata Party government when Morarji Desai was prime minister with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backwards”. It laid down 11 indicators or criteria for determining social and economic backwardness. 
  • In light of this report, the government provided 27 per cent reservation in central government jobs for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in 1990. 
  • This was challenged in the Supreme Court by several writ petitions.
  • A nine-judge bench in the Indira Sawhney case had upheld reservations for OBCs in 1992, but ruled that creamy layer among the backward class of citizens must be excluded “by fixation of proper income, property or status criteria” by the central government. 
  • The court asserted that on these specifications, people falling in the creamy layer would not get the benefit of reservations. The Supreme Court also held that reservations in appointments — under Article 16(4) of the Constitution — do not apply to promotions.

The 1993 creamy layer norms

  • Following the SC judgment, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had laid down categories under the creamy layer in 1993.
  • According to the 1993 order, sons and daughters of Group A/Class I Officers of All India Central and State Services (direct recruits), Group B/Class II Officers of Central and State Services (direct recruits), employees of Public Sector Undertakings etc. and armed forces fall within the creamy layer, and, therefore, they would not be entitled to reservation benefits. 
  • The order also included within the creamy layer sons and daughters of people with a gross annual income of Rs 1 lakh above or possessing wealth above the exemption limit as prescribed under the Wealth Tax Act for a period of three consecutive years.
  • It, however, clarified that income from salaries and agricultural land will not be clubbed, and asserted that the income criteria in terms of rupee will be modified taking into account the change in its value every three years.
  • However, the ceiling has been revised only four times since 1993 — the last time it happened was in September 2017 when the cap was raised to Rs 8 lakh per annum.

The amendments that followed

  • Meanwhile, in order to change the effect of the judgment in the Indira Sawhney case, there were some amendments to enable the government to make laws regarding reservation in promotion for SCs and STs.
  • The first of these amendments was when the Parliament enacted the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995, inserting Article 16(4A), thereby enabling the government to make laws providing quota in promotion for SCs and STs.
  • Article 16(4B) was also inserted, providing that reserved promotion posts for SCs and STs that remain unfilled can be carried forward to the subsequent year. While the SC judgement in the Indira Sawhney case capped the reservation quota at 50 per cent, the government’s amendment ensured that the 50 per cent ceiling for these carried-forward unfilled posts does not apply to subsequent years.
  • Another instance was when Article 335 of the Constitution was amended during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 2001. While Article 335 specified that reservations have to be balanced with the “maintenance of efficiency”, the 2001 amendment stated that the Article will not apply to the government if it relaxes evaluation standards in matters of promotion.
  • ‘Maintenance of efficiency’ is a constitutional limitation on the discretion of the government in making reservation in promotion for SCs and STs.

Creamy layer to SCs & STs

  • These amendments led to the 2006 Supreme Court judgment in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India, where a five-judge bench approved Parliament’s decision to extend reservations for SCs and STs to include promotions with three conditions.
  • It required the government to provide proof for the backwardness of the class benefitting from the reservation, for its inadequate representation in the position/service for which reservation in promotion is to be granted and to show how reservations in promotions would further administrative efficiency.
  • The judgment also held that the creamy layer concept was applicable to SCs and STs. 

Creamy layer shouldn’t bag all coveted jobs: SC

  • The M. Nagaraj case judgment was challenged in the Jarnail Singh case via two reference orders, the latest one having been issued in November 2017, stating that it needed to be referred to a seven-judge bench.
  • The top court refused to refer it to a larger bench, asserting that even though it had not expressly chosen to apply the creamy layer principle to SCs and STs in its verdict in the Indira Sawhney case, the principle can still be applied in view of the principles of equality enshrined in Constitution.
  • The court also asserted that the SC and high courts would be well within their jurisdiction to exclude creamy layer from getting reservations, rejecting the central government’s submissions that only the Parliament can exclude or include people from SC/ST lists. 

Conclusion:

  • “The whole object of reservation is to see that backward classes of citizens move forward so that they may march hand in hand with other citizens of India on an equal basis. This will not be possible if only the creamy layer within that class bag all the coveted jobs in the public sector and perpetuate themselves, leaving the rest of the class as backward as they always were,” 

Connecting the dots:

  • Supreme Court’s order on anti-atrocities law is a caution against entering legislative domain. Comment

POLITY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; 
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Governor’s role during fractured verdicts

Context:

  • Governors of many states are breaking the cardinal rules and provoking controversy by entering into the thick of everyday politics. 
  • A combination of several factors has brought on the changing role and functions of the governor. 
  • Today the men who occupy the Raj Bhavans are mostly superannuated politicians and party men unwilling to abandon their loyalties which causes a number of problems.

Hung Assembly

  • The Constitution envisages that the Governor act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, except in those situations in which he is, by or under the Constitution, required to act in his discretion (Article 163). 
  • It is clear that in identifying a candidate who, in his opinion, is in a position to command a majority, the Governor has to make his own decision, subject, of course, to democratic norms.
  •  This is why one often sees the Governor of a State inviting leaders for discussions as part of efforts to explore the possibility of forming a government. When the Governor appoints the Chief Minister in this way, it is accompanied by a stipulation that the appointee prove his or her majority within a specified time on the floor of the House.

Is there a preferred order for this process?

  • The Governor may invite the leader of the largest single party first. However, if it is clear that the largest single party has no potential ally or enough independent members to ensure a majority, he may also invite the leader of the largest pre-poll combination or alliance.
  • If there is no combination or alliance, he may invite leaders one by one in the order of their size in the new Assembly. During this process, a post-poll combination may emerge, if any one of them agrees to form a government. 
  • The Governor may insist on letters of support from those outside the leader’s party who are willing to join or extend support to him.

The Sarkaria Commission on inter-State relations has dealt with this question. 

  • The Commission’s report suggests the following orders for Governors to follow: 
  1. An alliance formed prior to the election; 
  2. The largest single party staking claim with the support of others, including independents; 
  3. A post-electoral coalition, with all partners joining the government; 
  4. A post-poll coalition, with some joining the government, and others extending support from outside.

As general principles, the Sarkaria Commission says the Governor should look for a party or combination that commands the widest support in the Assembly, and that “his task is to see that a government is formed, and not to try to form a government which will pursue policies which he approves”.

Governor ascertain majority

  • Decades ago, there were instances of party leaders parading legislators supposedly supporting them in Raj Bhavan, and Governors doing a headcount or verifying signatures. This approach has been deprecated by courts, and there is consensus now that the floor of the Assembly is the only place where the majority is to be decided. 
  • The Sarkaria Commission recommends that a person, who has been appointed Chief Minister without a clear majority, should seek a vote of confidence in the Assembly within 30 days. “This practice should be strictly adhered to with the sanctity of a rule of law,” it says.
  • Similarly, when the majority of the Chief Minister is contested by a significant number of legislators, the Governor should not risk a determination of his own outside the House, and it would be prudent “to cause the rival claims to be tested on the floor of the House”. In this, the Governor may advise the Chief Minister to summon the Assembly, if it is not in session, to demonstrate his support. 
  • Normally, under Article 174, the Governor summons the House only on the advice of the Council of Ministers, but will be within his constitutional rights to cause the House to be convened if there is reason to believe that there is a doubt about the incumbent’s majority.

Principles evolved by the Supreme Court:

  • Some seminal judgments of the Supreme Court have dealt with these issues. The key principle that ought to guide the Governor is set out in the S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India case (1994). 
  • The proper course, the court said, for testing the strength of a ministry is a floor test. “That alone is the constitutionally ordained forum …,” it observed. 
  • Even though this verdict was in the context of the imposition of President’s rule in different States, the principle holds good for any situation in which Governors have to decide on the appointment of a Chief Minister or continuance of a regime based on its numerical strength in the House.
  • In Rameshwar Prasad (2005), the court ruled that there was nothing wrong in installing a post-poll combination, and that the Governor could not decline the formation of a government on the ground that it was being done through unethical means.
  •  (Jagdambika Pal vs. Union of India and Ors), the Supreme Court ordered a ‘composite floor test’ involving two rival claimants — Kalyan Singh and Jagdambika Pal. The Governor had dismissed the former and installed Ms. Pal in office. Kalyan Singh won the floor test that day. A significant aspect of the court’s order was that it was made clear that the floor test would be the only item on the agenda of the House.
  • Karnataka (2018) and Maharashtra (2019) are instances of the court ordering a floor test in a situation in which the Assembly had not yet been convened after the general election. Therefore, the legislators were yet to take their oaths. The court directed the appointment of a pro tem Speaker, to be followed by the administration of oath to the new members and, thereafter, a floor test..

Connecting the dots:

  • Governors break cardinal rules, provoke controversy by entering into everyday politics. Analyse

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Finance Commission

  1. The Finance Commission is constituted by the President of India under Article 280 of the Constitution
  2. The 15th Finance Commission has submitted its interim report on devolution formula to President which is the first time in history where a Finance Commission has submitted an interim report.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Mission Parivar Vikas (MPV) 

  1. It is being implemented by Union Health Ministry all across India
  2. The objective of the mission is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Consider the following statements about India State Level Disease Burden Initiative’s (ISLDBI) 2018 report

  1. It was released by World Bank in association with NITI Aayog
  2. According to report, the average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher had the air pollution levels been less than the minimal level causing health loss

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Train 18

  1. It is India’s first engine-less train which doesn’t have a locomotive to pull the coaches, rather it is a self-propelled trainset
  2. The Indian-made trainset was completed at Pune’s Integral Coach Factory.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Consider the following statements about Blue Water Force

  1. Indian Navy is not considered asBlue Water Force as it is unable to carry out operations far from its borders because it needs to come back to Indian ports for refuelling or re-stocking
  2. Owning one or more aircraft carriers is sometimes seen as a marker of Blue water force.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 06 DEC 2019 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 D
3 A
4 C
5 A

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