GS 2: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Recently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told a special court in Mumbai that the arrested assistant police inspector Sachin Waze, now suspended from Mumbai Police, was not cooperating in the probe against him and was insisting on his lawyer being present during interrogation.
Separately, Waze filed an application seeking to be allowed to meet his lawyer in privacy while he is in police custody.
Across the world, various rights are available to a person while in custody of an investigating agency to prevent him or her from being forced into giving self-incriminating statements through means including torture.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights affirms the right of an accused to be informed of the reasons for an arrest, the charges against him and the right to be provided legal assistance.
The “Miranda rights” or “Miranda warning”, as they are referred to in the US, require a police officer to inform a suspect being arrested that he has the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before being questioned and the right to have a lawyer with him during questioning.
International Day of Forests
GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
The United Nations observes March 21 as the International Day of Forests, commemorating the green cover around the world and reiterating its importance.
The theme of the International Day of Forests for 2021 is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012.
The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On this day, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree-planting campaigns.
The Day is celebrated by the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organisations in the field.
GS 1:Medieval Indian History Indian Art Forms.
The government has recently formed a Maharaja Anangpal II Memorial Committee to popularise the legacy of 11th-century Tomar king, Anangpal II.
Crediting him with giving Delhi its present name and also repopulating it, the National Monument Authority — which functions under the Ministry of Culture — has embarked on a mission to present “correct history” to the people through the works of historians, academics and archaeologists.
He belonged to the Tomar dynasty that ruled parts of present-day Delhi and Haryana between the 8th and 12th centuries.
The capital of Tomars changed many times from being initially at Anangpur (near Faridabad) during the reign of Anangpal I (who founded the Tomar dynasty in the 8th century), to Dhillikapuri (Delhi) during the reign of Anangpal II.
The Tomar rule over the region is attested by multiple inscriptions and coins, and their ancestry can be traced to the Pandavas (of the Mahabharata).
Every person may have to live on less water as per capita reservoir capacity decreases: UN
GS 3: Conservation
Built water reservoir capacity per person is decreasing globally as reservoir expansion has not been able to keep pace with population growth, said the United Nations World Water Development Report released on March 22, 2021 observed as World Water Day.
While the world population is expected to reach nine billion by 2040, the projected reservoir volume seemed to be stabilising to be around 7,000 billion cubic metre.
The stabilising trend was visible since the 2000s, even as the population was on the rise.
Why in News: –
Government announces details of vehicle scrappage policy
GS 3: Environmental Pollution & Degradation; Infrastructure; Indigenization of Technology
Although it will take until April 1, 2022 for vehicles belonging to the government and the public sector to be scrapped, another year thereafter to identify junk heavy commercial vehicles through mandatory fitness checks, and finally other vehicles by 2024, it is a constructive road map.
The details for the country’s long-awaited vehicle scrapping policy in Parliament, explaining that the absence of a fitness certificate will mean an automatic cancellation of registration for commercial vehicles that turn 15, and that the registration of a private vehicle will be for 20 years, with renewal requiring proof of fitness.
the government plans to incentivise owners of old vehicles to scrap these through registered scrap centres.
India’s long-pending voluntary vehicle scrapping policy for phasing out of old vehicles considered to be more polluting has been in the works since 2016, but was announced by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget for 2021-22. The policy of scrapping old, polluting and fuel-guzzling vehicles is an attempt to reduce pollution and road congestion.
It was sent to the Cabinet Secretariat to be put up before the cabinet for its approval in February 2020.
What is the proposed Vehicle Scrappage Policy?
The private vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years, can be scrapped voluntarily.
To run these vehicles on the road, a fitness certificate (FC) will be mandatory.
Automated vehicle fitness centres belong to the government will issue certificates after conducting fitness tests.
Each fitness certificate is valid for five years. After that vehicle will undergo another fitness test.
If a vehicle fails the fitness test, the government will not provide renewed Registration Certificates (RC) for those vehicles. As per the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, driving a vehicle without an RC is illegal in India.
Each vehicle is permitted to have three failures in the fitness test. After that, the vehicle might be forwarded to vehicle scrapping.
The government is expected to provide monetary incentives to the owners scrapping the vehicles.
Need of the Policy: –
India’s automobile ecosystem is complex, with dominant, legacy motors spanning fossil-fuel driven vehicles and a nascent EV segment.
The industry’s share pre-COVID-19 was about 7.5% of GDP with significant downstream employment, but it also imposes a fuel import burden.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), by 2025 India will have over two crore old vehicles nearing the end of their lives.
The scrappage policy will reduce the congestion on the roads.
IIT Bombay’s conducted a multi-city study in 2014. The study estimated that pre-2005 vehicles were responsible for 70 per cent of the total pollution load from vehicles.
The scrappage policy will be a shot in the arm for these polluting vehicles.
Benefits of the Policy: –
Stimulate the domestic automobile and automotive industry.
Provide a massive opportunity for players in the organised scrappage and recycling industry.
The scrapping will provide recovery of steel, aluminium, plastic etc. and boost the industries associated with it.
Reduce the pollution level by 25 percent as compared to old commuting vehicles.
The Scrappage policy will reduce the pollution level and also fulfil India’s commitment to reduce CO2 levels to tackle Climate Change.
The scheme shall provide strong incentives to owners of old vehicles to scrap old and unfit vehicles through registered scrapping centres, which shall provide the owners with a scrapping certificate.
Heavy commercial vehicles, which contribute disproportionately to pollution — 1.7 million lack fitness certificates — pose the biggest challenge.
Many of these cannot be replaced quickly in the absence of financial arrangements for small operators, who have opposed the new measures.
States are not entirely on board, and has the difficult task of ensuring that the scrappage plan gets their support, and the backing of manufacturers who stand to benefit from a spurt in demand.
Failure to prioritise fuel efficiency and mandate even higher standards and enhance taxes on fuel guzzlers will only repeat the mistakes of vehicle exchange programmes abroad, where full environmental benefits could not be realised, and taxpayers ended up subsidising inefficiency.
To put in place a credible system of automated fitness checking centres with help from States to assess whether commercial and private vehicles are roadworthy after 15 and 20 years, respectively, as the policy envisages.
Equally important, enforcement will be key to get them scrapped once they are found unfit for use and to stop them from moving to smaller towns.
States must also come on board to provide road tax and registration concessions, while the automobile industry is expected to sweeten the deal with genuine discounts on new vehicles.
The Centre has to arrive at a balance and have incentives that reward manufacturers of vehicles that are the most fuel-efficient.
Ecological scrapping, as a concept, must lead to high rates of materials recovery, reduce air pollution, mining and pressure on the environment.
Value -Addition: –
India has 17 lakh medium and heavy commercial vehicles that are older than 15 years without any valid fitness certificate, 51 lakh light motor vehicles older than 20 years and 34 lakh light motor vehicles older than 15 years, according to the transport ministry.
The average age of commercial vehicles is over 10 years and the private ones, 10-15 years.
The automobile industry is projected to grow at an annual rate of 22% if this policy is implemented properly.
According to an estimate, taxes from the automobile sector will amount at Rs 10,000 Crores, if scrappage policy is implemented properly.
How the Vehicle scrappage and replacement is seen internationally as a route to rejuvenate COVID-19-affected economies by privileging green technologies, notably electric vehicles (EVs). Discuss how the scrapping policy is seen as an initiative to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century under Paris Agreement commitments?
Why in News: –
A new research conducted by Pew Research Center has found that the coronavirus pandemic has pushed about 32 million Indians out of the middle class and increased poverty in the country.
GS-2:Important International Institutions; GS 3: Inclusive Growth
COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately deleterious impact on living standards in India and China in 2020, with the sharp economic contraction in the former pushing as many as 7.5 crore people into the ranks of the poor (those who earn $2 or less a day).
The poverty rate in India likely rose to 9.7% in 2020, up sharply from the January 2020 forecast of 4.3%.
In absolute terms, the number of poor in India is posited to have swelled to 13.4 crore, reversing the gains made in the preceding nine years when the country cut the number of poor by more than three-fourths to an estimated 7.8 crore in 2019.
The middle class in India is estimated to have shrunk by 3.2 crore in 2020.
The vast majority of India’s population fall into the low-income group.
This group shrank from 119.7 crore to 116.2 crore per day, with about 3.5 crore dropping below the poverty line.
India’s poverty growth
Owing to Covid-led recession, the number of people in poverty in India were estimated to have increased by 75 million.
This accounted for almost 60 per cent of the global increase in poverty.
From 2011 to 2019, the number of poor in India was estimated to have reduced to 78 million from 340 million.
However, in 2020, the number increased by 75 million which “claws back several years of progress on this front for India”.
Global poverty rate increases by 10.4%
The coronavirus crisis also exacerbated the state of poverty in the world.
The number of ‘global poor’ are estimated to have increased to 803 million in 2020, which is a significant increase from 672 million, the pre-pandemic prediction.
The global poverty rate also increased to 10.4 per cent last year after witnessing a steady decline over the years.
It was previously expected that the poverty rate would decrease to 8.7 per cent in 2020.
From 2011 to 2019, global poverty decreased at an average rate of 49 million each year, wherein the number of global poor fell to 691 million from 1.10 billion.
“The pandemic, by adding 131 million to the rank of the poor, has set the progress on poverty back by several years, and the poverty rate is estimated to have increased from 9 per cent in 2019 to 10.4 per cent in 2020,” the report said.
Comparison With China:
In China, the population of the poor likely inched up to 40 lakh, matching the 2019 level. Similarly, the numbers of India’s middle class — those with a daily income of $10.01–$20 — are projected to have shrunk by 3.2 crore to about 6.6 crore, compared with the number this income cohort would have reached absent the pandemic.
Here again, China likely experienced just one-third the level of contraction, with the population of those deemed as middle income set to have narrowed to 49.3 crore compared with the pre-pandemic projection of 50.4 crore.
What is Pew Assessment?
The Pew assessment, which is based on an analysis of the World Bank’s Povcal Net database, does, however, acknowledge the multiple assumptions that inform the study.
These include varying base years for income/consumption figures — with India’s from 2011 and 2016 for China.
Still, the study serves as a stark reminder of the economic disparities, both within India and at a comparative level with its northern neighbour.
The latest report once again spotlights the widening inequality in India, exacerbated by the pandemic, as the lower income populations have disproportionately borne the brunt of job and income losses in the wake of the multiple lockdowns.
The fiscal policy response to redress this massive increase in precarity has also been underwhelming, especially when viewed from the perspective of the pre-pandemic tax cuts that the government handed to corporates in an attempt to revive private investment and rekindle growth.
That the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme has been seeing record levels of demand is testimony to the struggles those in the rural hinterland have been facing in finding gainful employment since the onset of the pandemic.
Way Forward: –
With the number of COVID-19 cases once again rising disconcertingly across the country, there is a clear and present danger that not only could any nascent economic recovery be stymied even before it gains traction but that the number of those sliding into poverty could jump dramatically.
The policy responses to the rising wave of infections could well test the government’s ‘lives versus livelihoods’ playbook to the hilt.
“India’s social inequality keeps a significant section of the population poor forever despite the country’s impressive economic growth.” Critically evaluate.
Doubling down on a resilient India
Why in News: –
Asia watchers observing China are, above all, missing the real economic shift at play — that this is India’s economic decade.
GS 3– Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
Google, Facebook, Walmart, Samsung, Foxconn, and Silver Lake have been just a handful of the firms that made big ticket bets on India in 2020.
As a result, even as India experienced one of the world’s sharpest economic contractions, it also saw the fastest growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows among all the major economies last year.
India’s $60 billion-plus tally for new annual FDI equity inflows was its largest-ever haul and a milestone.
That India should emerge as a leading destination for FDI might strike some observers as an unexpected outcome.
Indeed, a significant share of India’s FDI inflows arose from foreign investments directed solely at Reliance Jio.
Meanwhile, India’s latest FDI totals still lags behind the highest tallies in other markets such as China and Brazil.
The Indian Market:
Three decades after its economy was liberalised, India remains a complex and challenging place to do business.
Frequent shifts in the policy landscape and persistent market access barriers are standard complaints levied against India by the business community.
Meanwhile, the Modi government’s push to build a “self-reliant” India has also rattled restive investors and smaller companies that lack the resources to navigate on-the-ground hurdles.
Still, leading corporate investors see the Indian market differently.
They recognise that doing business in India — or any emerging market for that matter — comes with inherent risks but that adaptation in approach is critical to success.
Most importantly, they have the vision to understand that these are risks worth taking given the scale of the India Opportunity.
Core Dynamics: –
Four core dynamics drive this calculus and explain why multinational companies are making India an essential part of their growth story.
FIRST, sheer demographics.
What India offers through its nearly 1.4 billion people and their growing purchasing power is uniquely valuable for multinationals with global ambitions.
No other country outside of China has a market that houses nearly one in six people on the planet and a rising middle class of 600 million.
Failure to compete for a share of Indians’ wallets is not just a missed strategic opportunity; it’s borderline malpractice at the boardroom level.
SECOND, shifting geopolitics.
Rising U.S.-China competition is redefining the global landscape for investment and manufacturing, forcing multinationals to rethink their footprints and production hubs.
Savvy countries such as Vietnam have capitalised on this opportunity to great effect, but India is finally getting serious about attracting large-scale production and exports.
Major multinational companies such as Samsung have invested billions in the Indian market, and manufacturers such as Cisco, Nokia, Ericsson, and Flex are reportedly weighing new investments that take advantage of fresh incentive programs.
THIRD, rising digital connectivity.
Cheap mobile data have powered a revolution across India’s digital economy and connected an estimated 700 million Indians to the Internet.
As Mr. Modi has said, more than 500 million Indians still remain offline, and the rise of these ‘next gen netizens’ is a key reason why leading global tech companies are investing in India and weathering acute policy pressure.
Domestic Indian companies have also demonstrated their ability to innovate and deliver high quality services at scale.
The partnerships and FDI flows linking multinationals and Indian tech firms will continue to unlock shared market opportunities for years to come.
FOURTH, national resilience.
Despite facing the scourge of the novel coronavirus head on, India has managed the pandemic better than many of its western peers and restored economic activity even before implementing a mass vaccination programme.
These are remarkable developments, and yet they speak to India’s underlying resilience even in the face of historic challenges.
This ethos will serve India well as it navigates the complex challenges of the 21st century, and global investors are clearly taking note.
Success should not be measured by valuations but value creation.
Valuations are merely a function of the value a startup is able to generate for its customers, shareholders, business partners, the society and economy as a whole.
Many such extremely valuable companies are acquired by corporates and other strategic partners even before they reach the ‘Unicorn’ status.
The World and India, in particular, is on the cusp of another information revolution.
India is witnessing a tremendous opportunity to create new value, as we can bypass the industrial economy to leap-frog into the information age.
The last decade has seen many companies leveraging the power of the internet and digital technology.
This trend will continue and accelerate as we witness re-invention of entire industries which are driven by the young population of India, a growing digitally-native economy – who are reaching out to use more efficient digital-first products and services to fulfil their dreams.
Of course, unlocking opportunities in the Indian market cannot take the form of a one-way wealth transfer, and companies should not expect a warm welcome without continuously demonstrating their commitment to India.
Successful companies do this by placing shared value creation at the heart of their business strategy.
They tie corporate success to India’s growth and development.
They forge enduring partnerships and lasting relationships, elevate and invest in Indian talent, align products with Indian tastes, and ultimately tackle the hardest problems facing India today.
Way Forward: –
Charting a path forward in this dynamic growing market will require corporate executives to make new commitments and navigate choppy waters.
But for leading companies with global ambitions and a willingness to make big bets, the rewards of investing in the Indian market are substantial and well worth pursuing.
Justify the need for FDI for the development of the Indian economy. Why there is gap between MOUs signed and actual FDIs? Suggest remedial steps to be taken for increasing actual FDIs in India.
Delhi Bill will sow the seeds of absolutism
Why in News: –
Bill to amend GNCTD Act is a rollback of the notion of representative government.
GS-2:Polity and Governance
The new bill seeks to address ambiguities in legislative provisions related to the administration of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
The elected government of Delhi had always been a local administrative body to be headed by the L-G as an administrator and the recent bill only tries to rectify any ambiguities regarding the same.
Indian Constitution and Delhi: –
In India, the Constitution, and not Parliament, is supreme; yet, at times, parliamentary enactments give the indication that the latter can do anything.
At a time when the Freedom House report has downgraded India as a “partly free” country and V-Dem’s report has rubbed salt on our wounds by terming India an “electoral autocracy”, the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, introduced in the Lok Sabha recently, will further dent our international reputation.
Administrative tug of war:
Delhi has been witnessing to administrative tug of war between the Delhi government and Delhi Lieutenant Governor (L-G).
The L-G refused to send files regarding three reserved subjects — land, police and public order — to the Chief Minister’s office.
Several orders issued by the Delhi government related to matters such as transfer of bureaucrats, setting up of Commissions of Inquiry and the administration of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), were either declared void or reversed by the L-G citing procedural lacunae ranging from lack of approval from his office to not being constitutionally empowered to take such decisions.
Provisions of The Bill:
Under the new bill, modifications have been proposed to four sections of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991.
The amendments seek to promote “harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive”.
It provides for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be “consistent with the rules of the House of the People” or the Lok Sabha.
The Bill seeks to define the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor along the constitutional scheme of governance of the NCT interpreted by the Supreme Court in recent judgments regarding the division of powers between the two entities.
The amendments also propose to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to exercise powers entrusted to him under proviso to Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution provides for a Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister for the NCT to “aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor” in the exercise of his functions for matters in which the Legislative Assembly has the power to make laws.
Seeds of absolutism:
The overriding powers given to the Governor-General in the Government of India Act, 1935 was opposed by the leaders of our freedom movement, and this opposition prevented the legislation from being enforced at the Centre.
Such Bills could strengthen the international perception of India becoming an electoral autocracy. This ill-timed move not only negates cooperative federalism but also upturns the fundamental principles laid down by the five-judge bench judgment of the Supreme Court in 2018.
While the court was hopeful of a “constitutional renaissance” in the country, the Bill if passed in the current form would sow the seeds of absolutism.
Justice D Y Chandrachud had, in fact, noted in his concurring judgment that democracy is in danger due to authoritarian tendencies in several countries.
The Bill takes away almost all the powers of elected representatives.
LG Or Nominated LG:
The clear message of the judgment was that Delhi’s LG is just an “administrator” and an administrative head bound by the “aid and advice” rendered by Delhi’s Council of Ministers.
The LG, according to this verdict, has no independent powers and has to go by the advice of the council of ministers or comply with the orders of the President on matters referred to him.
His concurrence is not needed in every matter and he can refer matters to the President only in exceptional situations and not in a “routine or mechanical manner”.
The apex court had reversed the judgment of Delhi High Court which had held the LG to be a master of his own, not bound by the “aid and advice” of his ministers.
The then CJI also talked of “constitutional objectivity” as the key to checks and balances between the legislature and executive — one that ensures that the two operate within their allotted spheres since “legitimate constitutional trust” is based on distribution and separation of powers with denial of absolute power to any one functionary being the ultimate goal.
The Court, therefore, held that “any matter” in Article 239AA(4) does not mean “every matter”.
In other words, the LG cannot refer any matter to the President; he has to employ “constitutional objectivity” and exercise this power in the rarest of rare situations for sound and valid reasons.
The LG does not have the power to change every decision or differ with every decision of the Council of Ministers.
In an equally authoritative concurring opinion, Justice Ashok Bhushan had favoured vesting real powers in the representative government rather than in the nominated LG.
That the LG must reign and not rule is the core principle of the cabinet system of governance.
A two-judge bench of the apex court in 2019 did concede that as far as the anti-corruption bureau is concerned, the LG will have exclusive powers but on the issue of services, the two judges differed and the matter was referred to a larger bench.
The Delhi Bill stipulates that the government of Delhi will mean the LG.
It goes one step ahead and does not require the LG to act on the advice of the council of ministers.
Way Forward: –
The legislative assembly or its committees can no longer make rules to enable itself or its committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration or conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.
Making the law retrospective, the Bill provides that if such rules have been framed, they will become void.
The Bill also makes it incumbent on the Delhi government to take the LG’s opinion before taking any executive action, virtually taking away almost all powers of the elected government.
Courts need to take recourse to pragmatic interpretation to further the spirit of Constitution, rule of law and participatory democracy.
The Bill should be referred to a select committee and not passed in haste like the Farm Bills.
Evolving consensus in such matters would be consistent both with federalism as well as the high principles laid down by the Supreme Court.
Discuss how the move to render the elected representatives to function with lesser autonomy marks the taking back of the right of Delhi’s citizens to vote for those they deem fit to administer them?