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GS 2

Amid protests, Yeddyurappa takes oath as CM

News

  1. BJP State President of Karnataka B.S Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the 29th Chief Minister on Karnataka.

Important Facts:  

  1. Other parties protested as their alliance had a bigger strength than BJP. They called the governor’s decision as “unconstitutional and unprecedented”.

3.The Congress has approached the Supreme Court against the Governor’s decision to invite the State leader of BJP to form the government.

  1. The Governor has given Mr BS Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority after which the Cabinet Ministers would be sworn in.
  2. This is the third time Mr B.S Yeddyurappa has been sworn in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
  3. After being sworn in, Mr B.S Yeddyurappa, he promised to waive farm loans and weaver’s loans from cooperative and nationalised banks upto Rs 1 lakh within the next 48 hours.

The East Asian reset

News:

  1. Pallavi Aiyar, a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, observes that China-Japan relations which are usually tensed have being reset and on an upswing.

Important News:

  1. Recently, China is trying to improve its relation with India as well as Japan
  2. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Japan on May 2018 is significant because of two reasons:
  • It was the Premier’s first visit to Japan since assuming office five years ago.
  • It was the first top-level bilateral visit after the Senkaku and Diaoyu Island disputes in the East China Sea of 2012 turned their relations sour.
  1. During the visit,
  • Chinese Premier met the Japanese Emperor Akihito.
  • Signed a deal with Japan to deliver a pair of ibises since Japan’s last wild crested ibis dies in 2003
  1. Recent developments in China-Japan relations:
  • In September 2017, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese leader in 15 years to attend the Chinese Embassy’s annual National Day celebrations in Tokyo.
  • Both Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.
  • Recently there is resumption of high level economic dialogue after eight years.
  • China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Japan in April 2018.
  • In early May 2018, the PM of Japan called up the Chinese PM to discuss the new developments taking place in the Korean Peninsula.This was the first phone call ever between the two leaders.
  1. Issues between China and Japan:
  • China is still bitter with Japan’s invasion of China before the Second World War. China feels Japan has not yet paid for its brutality.
  • After the Second World War, Japan became an ally of USA, who China considers as its rival.
  • Rival claims over the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands of the East China Sea.
  • Both the countries compete for increasing their influence in the region, especially in Southeast Asia which is emerging as a field for both the countries to compete.
  • China has eclipsed Japan as a global geostrategic player, taking the role onto itself.
  1. Complementarity of China-Japan ties:
  • Both China and Japan are economically intertwined.
  • Japan was a major contributor to China’s rise as an economic superpower. From a backward agrarian economy China transformed into a global manufacturing powerhouse.
  • According to The Japan External Trade Organisation, China-Japan trade stands at about $350 billion (by comparison, India-China trade is $84.44 billion).
  • Japan led Asian Development Bank is exploring co-financing projects with China led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
  1. According to Shin Kawashima, a China scholar at the University of Tokyo, the following are the reasons behind Japan’s hand of friendship to China:
  • An unpredictable policies of U.S:

(i)Trump’s America First Policy and tariffs slapped on $60 billion worth of Chinese products have impacted Japan.

(ii)Japan, an ally of U.S did not get any exemption from new duties on steel and aluminium.

(iii)US has been going back on many of its major international commitments.

(iv)US policy towards Japan and the wider region has increasingly become “fragile and vague”

Thus, Japan needs to engage with China in an unbiased manner till it is sure of USA’s  Intentions.    

  • North Korea:

(i)Japan hopes that China would use its influence in North Korea to highlight Japan’s concerns.

(ii)Japan feels that it is not playing as significant a role as China, in the events which are taking place in its own neighbourhood. This is eclipsing Japan’s hopes of becoming an Influential regional player.

(iii)Japan is worried that in an effort to improve ties with Korea, USA might forget about  the 12 Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970’s and ‘80s who still remain unaccounted for.

  • Business interests:

The Japanese business groups who have invested in China have sometimes suffered due to tension in ties. These groups have always wanted stronger bilateral ties.

  1. Reasons behind China’s hand of friendship to Japan:
  • Japan asking for China’s support in North Korea enhances China’s International clout.
  • In the backdrop of the simmering trade war with US and China’s trade ties with Japan would be economically beneficial.
  • China is trying to get Japan to go along with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Japan had initially hesitated but said it would join China’s BRI as long as the infrastructure projects were open, transparent, fair and economically feasible.
  1. The Political Analyst, Pallavi Aiyar, feels the present China-Japan alignment is a tactical and provisional affair born out of geopolitical compulsions. This thaw in ties is not long-term and strategic. It is more of a pause in the tensed relations rather than resolution of conflict.Just like in the case of India-China reset, it would only be temporarily beneficial to both countries as the underlying issues have not yet been solved.

Arbitrary, capricious

News:

  1. The Governor of Karnataka invited the President of State BJP-Karnataka to form the government in spite of the presence of a coalition which was bigger than BJP.

Important Facts:

  1. Some analysts feel that the Governor acted in a politically partisan manner which goes against the Constitutional feature of neutrality of office.
  2. Mr B.S Yeddyurappa, the leader of BJP Legislature Party showed no proof of winning the majority but was invited to form the government and then given time to prove majority within 15 days.
  3. Political analyst feel that the coalition with majority would have formed a stable government. The present choice of the Governor would open doors to horse trading and defections.
  4. The Constitution provide the Governor with a certain amount of discretion in selecting the Chief Minister. But this power was not meant to be used in capricious or arbitrary manner.
  5. The BJP has said that the present action of the Governor is in line with the S.R Bommai judgement:
  • In which the Governor can use his/her discretion when the Chief Minister loses majority in the House. The judgement does not talk about post-poll alliance but just observes that the Governor had to “invite the leader of the party commanding majority in the House or the single largest party/group to form the government.”
  • But the S.R Bommai Judgement does not in anyway give preference to the single largest party over the largest group to form the government.
  1. In Manipur and Goa, the single largest party- the Congress was not allowed to form a government. Preference was given to the largest post-poll coalition. Which is just the opposite of what has happened in Karnataka.
  2. The Supreme Court has asked the Attorney General to produce before it, the letters written by Mr B.S Yeddyurappa to the Governor in support of his claim to form the government.

Should we do away with the I&B Ministry?

Debate

  1. The Hindu Newspaper debates on whether India should do away with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

For:

  1. Jaipal Reddy, a former I&B Minister is of the opinion that the I&B Ministry has to go as no advanced democracy has an I&B Ministry.
  2. Sardar Vallabhai Patel was also the Minister of I&B apart from being the Home Minister.
  • He used his I&B portfolio efficiently to reach out to the people with important messages during post-Partition riots, settling of migrants from Pakistan, integration of Princely States etc.
  • It was an important link between the government and the people as the literacy rate and the circulation of newspapers was low.
  • All India Radio(AIR) was the only institution which could pass on the government’s message to both the officials and the people.
  • All India Radio made an important contribution to India’s culture by

(i)Collecting all available information on classical music in the country.

(ii)Getting Carnatic and Hindustani music recorded by Maestros.

  • All India Radio also played a crucial role in bringing about the Green revolution by propagating new agricultural methods to the farmers directly.
  1. Providing autonomy to public broadcasting:
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1949, said that the government’s final goal should be to endow AIR with the same autonomy and strength like BBC.
  • B.G Verghese Committee was set up in 1970’s to look into the question of autonomy for AIR and Prasar Bharati.But its recommendations were took shape only in 1990’s.
  • The Prasar Bharati(Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act was passed in 1990 which gave it more autonomy.
  1. No advanced  democracy has a Ministry called Information and Broadcasting. Instead they have independent Commission. For example, The Federal Communications Commission of USA.

6.No institutions, especially, the Prasar Bharati, cannot enjoy true autonomy without financial independence. Citizens pay fees directly to the BBC which ensures its financial autonomy and ultimately independence.

7.Some people feel that the demand for autonomy is not as relevant today as it was a few years ago when the private channels were neither available nor as effective as they are today. But in other democracies, the presence or absence of private channels does not affect the autonomy of the public broadcasting agencies.

8.The autonomy of the public broadcasting service cannot be ensured as long as there is a Minister.

NO

9.Bimal Julka a former Secretary in the I&B Ministry and current Central Information Commissioner is of the opinion that instead of abolishing the I&B Ministry, the government should instead try to shape public perceptions through this channel to reflect the current realities.

10.The I&B Ministry is an apex body of the government to formulate and administer the rules, regulations and laws relating to information, broadcasting policy, and administration as enshrined in the transaction of business rules.

11.There has been proliferation of private media outlets such as television, FM radio, Web portals, and print and social media.

12.In the backdrop of growing private presence in the media field,the government, through the I&B Ministry with its vast information and broadcasting infrastructure, should ensure the optimal utilisation of this world and engagement with all the stakeholders.

13.The need for I&B Ministry:

  • The government’s plays a crucial social role in reaching out to the people in inaccessible areas.
  • Public perception,public order and national security are closely linked. This is being affected by sensational news being spread on the social media. Government must use the platform provided by the I&B Ministry to play a responsible role.
  • Public perception is to be shaped so that they reflect the current reality and amplify the effectiveness of governance.
  1. Issues plaguing the I&B Ministry:
  • Outreach of AIR and Doordarshan
  • Efficient use of  manpower
  • Budgetary issues
  • Issues relating to the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill of 2011;
  • Cross-media ownership/cross-media monopoly in various segments;
  • Coordination issues with cable and satellite channels;
  1. Responsibilities of the I&B Ministry:
  • Taking up the role of the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity and its spread amongst small, medium, and regional language newspapers.
  • Ensuring that the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune becomes a centre of excellence in filming.
  • Expanding the FM radio network.
  • Increasing the spread of community radio services.
  • Formulating a policy for introduction of mobile television
  • Rationalisation of spectrum requirements for various broadcasting services
  • Conversion of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication into an international media university
  • Liaising with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, and the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council to integrate issues in TV programming and time bands.

16.Media should play a more sensitive and responsible role. Certain events cannot be ignored:

  • The broadcasts by media during 26/11 helped the terrorists.
  • Interviews with people after the hanging of Yakub Memon were regarded to be insensitive.
  • The way media portrays crime against women and children are insensitive and irresponsible.

17.The present Central Information Commissioner feels that this is the right time for the I&B Ministry to prepare,plan and evolve a media strategy utilizing the vast pool of talent in the Ministry.The strategy can be implemented to achieve the objectives of the Ministry through various media platforms.

IT’S COMPLICATED:

18.Manish Tiwari, a former I&B Minister feels that the questions should not be whether the Ministry should be junked but how it should be reformed.

19.The Ministry with its present structure and role has outlived its utility to even effectively service the needs of the Union Government.

20.The primary functions of the I&B Ministry include:

  • Administration of the print industry, the private broadcast industry, films and Prasar Bharati.
  • Monitoring many autonomous institutions ranging from film institutes to the Registrar of Newspapers.
  • Communicating to the people through the Press Information Bureau.
  • Acting as the principal outreach mechanism of the government of the day.

21.Two arguments over media control.

(i)Against Media control

  • The entire media space should be liberated from the control of the government.
  • Everyone should be free to start any print, broadcast or digital media vehicle.
  • Reasonable restrictions given in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and the legal framework are enough to deal with errant media.

(ii)For Media control:

  • Some people want every element of the media space to be controlled.

22.Mr Manish Tiwari feels that the solution lies in the middle path- in reforming certain aspects of the Ministry and thereby transforming it completely over time. Reforms should be done slowly and incrementally.

23.Issues to be debated and discussed:

  • Whether the present Ministry is to be replaced by an autonomous and overarching media regulator which would look into both techno-economic issues as well as content.
  • What about the cinema sector that is currently administered by the Ministry through the Central Board of Film Certification, the Censor Board regulated by the Cinematographic Act of 1952?
  • What should be done about the Registrar of Newspapers for India which regulates the newspaper industry and controls the Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867?
  • What about the current efforts to regulate the digital media space?

24.Suggestions:

  • The Cinematographic Act can be repealed and the Censor Board  replaced with a Programme and Advertising Code similar to the television industry.
  • Two sets of regulators can be brought in for the private television industry and radio—

(i)A Broadcast Regulatory Authority of India to perform licensing and other techno-commercial functions but with very restricted penal powers so as to preserve  the autonomy of the industry.

(ii)A self-regulatory framework with statutory backing to monitor content.

25.There can be no autonomy for Prasar Bharati as the funding continues to be routed through the Ministry, and the Minister remains accountable to Parliament for both its omissions and commissions.

GS 3

States petition Kovind on 15th finance panel

News:

1.Finance Ministers of six States met President Ram Nath Kovind and submitted a memorandum demanding 13 amendments to the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission.

Important Facts:

2.The Memorandum stated that “the terms of reference violate the federal principle as enshrined in the Constitution, erode the autonomy of all States and bring significant financial hardship to all States.”

3.The Memorandum was submitted by the Finance Ministers of Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

  1. The amendments requested in the Memorandum:
  • Population data of 1971 should be used by the Finance Commission. Using the 2011 data would be akin to penalising these states for taking measures to control the population. States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar would be awarded for their lack of initiative.
  • Deletion of the clause in the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission which seeks to control “populists measures”. They argue that it is for the popularly elected government to decide what is “populist” and what is not.
  • Deletion of the reference to Direct Benefit Transfer in which the Finance Commission said that the States would be assessed on the progress made by them in promoting DBT. DBT is not the right measure of development.
  • The state share must not be decided on the achievement in implementation of flagship schemes of government of india. Popularly elected state government should get autonomy to decide its own programs and schemes.

Making life easier for small savers

News:

  1. The Government setting up of Government Savings Promotion Act by merging the Public Provident Fund (PPF) Act of 1968, the Government Savings Banks Act of 1873 and the Government Savings Certificates Act of 1959.

Important Facts:

  1. This move would strengthen the objective of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’.
  2. The main objective is to make implementation easier for the depositors through this Act. As the existing benefits being accrued to the depositors would not be taken away by this Act.
  3.  The Act would have certain new benefits such as:
  • Earlier, a PPF account could not be closed before 5 years. Now, premature closing of account has been introduced for Small Saving Schemes to deal with medical emergencies, higher education needs and other contingencies.
  • investment in SSS can be made by a guardian on behalf of minor(s). In addition, now ,  the guardian may also be given associated rights and responsibilities.
  • Unlike earlier, a provision has been proposed to promote a culture of savings among children.
  • A succession certificate need not be obtained if a minor dies without a nomination. The balance amount automatically goes to the guardian.
  • The Bill has clear provisions on the operation of accounts in the name of physically infirm and differently abled persons.

180 days too long for resolving insolvency, says IBBI member

News:

  1. A member of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) said the current time limit to resolve insolvency cases was more than adequate. This needs to be examined in the backdrop of increasing demands for more time to resolve cases filed for bankruptcy.

Important Facts:

  1.  A case admitted in the National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT)  has to be resolved within 180 days. If not the company goes into liquidation.
  2. In some exceptional cases the NCLT will give 90 days extra for resolution.
  3. The IBBI Member is of the opinion that “In the present era, we have professionals with technology and offices that are increasing in efficiency.” thus 180 days is too long.
  4. The sooner the cases are dealt with, the sooner the business sector would move ahead.
  5. RBI has concentrated its attention on large and big accounts because they constitute more than 25% of the defaulters.
  6. When a loan is not repaid, the default is automatically considered as a criminal conduct under the Code. But there could be situations where the default is purely a result of market forces. Thus all defaults must not be considered as a crime.

Banks under PCA will get over legacy issues soon, says Goyal

News:

  1. Financial Minister said that the 11 banks placed in the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) plan would overcome their ‘legacy’ issues and emerge stronger within no time.

Important News:

  1. The banks under PCA are Dena Bank, Allahabad Bank, United Bank of India, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Bank of Maharashtra.
  2. Indiscriminate lending by the banks are largely responsible for them being placed under the PCA framework.
  3. PCA is the process or mechanism to ensure that bank would not collapse. Under PCA, RBI has put in place some trigger points to access, monitor, control, and take corrective actions on banks which are weak and troubled.

4.Under the PCA, banks face restrictions on distributing dividends and remitting profits.

5.The Centre ensures help to the banks to come out of the PCA framework as quickly as possible.

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