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1.What is Foreign Trade Policy(FTP)? Do you think that FTP review would be affected after the roll-out of GST? (GS 3)

The Hindu

Foreign trade policy :-

  • These are the Policies enacted by the government sector of a domestic economy to discourage imports from, and encourage exports to, the foreign sector. The three most common foreign trade policies are tariffs, import quotas, and export subsidies.
  • In India The recent FTP for 2015-2020 aims at building foreign trade around $900 billion and laid special emphasis on emerging markets. Trade facilitation is the key aspect of this policy.

Yes it would be affected:-

  • At least three different schemes the advance authorisation, export promotion capital goods (EPCG) and duty free import authorisation  would cease to exist once GST rolled out.
  • Exporters who were getting refunds through many schemes as export incentives are worried that their competitiveness may now be eroded.
  • The exporters will now have to pay taxes on transactions, though they can seek a refund.
  • Tax exemptions have been removed to ensure continuity in the GST chain.
  • Under the GST if exempt goods become inputs for products used finally for exports, export credits will not be provided for those products.
  • The ministry or its agencies issue a scrip to an exporter to be used for payment of central taxes such as Customs duty or excise duty and service tax on future procurement of goods and services. Such modes of payment would not be allowed after the GST regime begins.
  • MEIS benefits are also given to exporters for the processing part, i.e any loss incurred due to inefficiencies in the government processing part of the export. On that note, any major changes to the scheme will affect exporters significantly.
  • Also, states have to be on board, since benefits under the state GST would be routed through them so what will happen to the benefits being given in some backward areas is unknown.

No it will not be affected:-

  • GST is aimed at reducing of existing duty exemptions, is one argument. Proponents of this view say that as exports are anyway zero-rated (i.e. output is not taxed and input credits are allowed), the refund of input taxes would always be available.

2.“It is time for some introspection within the judiciary on the manner in which judges are chosen.” Critically examine. (GS 2)

The Hindu

Introduction:

  • Recently with Justice Karnan ‘s case the much neglected issue of appointment of judges has come to the forefront again. There is no doubt that the personal record and reputation of those who sit in judgment does shape people’s view of the judicial system.
  • India’s 24 high courts should have 1091 judges. However, as many as 470 positions are vacant.

Yes:-

  • The absence of a mechanism to discipline recalcitrant judges is another glaring lacuna in the existing system.
  • With the Constitution prescribing impeachment by Parliament, a long-winded and cumbersome process, as the sole means to remove a judge, Chief Justices of the High Courts are at their wits end when it comes to dealing with refractory judges who are not amenable to any discipline or capable of self-restraint.
  • Collegium system:
    • It is seen as a closed-door affair without a formal and transparent system. Judges, hopeful of going higher, have to please the members of the collegium.
    • This system overlooks several talented junior judges and advocates.
    • Sometimes, collegium gets stymied, when old rivalries between its members see each other’s favourites getting vetoed.
    • Sometimes collegium meetings become examples of bargaining within the collective, and consensus emerging from a division of the spoils.
    • collegium system may result in the abuse of power by the judiciary and the whole system of “Judges appointing Judge is itself a strong depiction of aristocracy and elitism which stands contrary to the heart of the Constitution for not only being against equality but also against democracy as a whole.
    • system like this where the judiciary itself decides who becomes the part of the judiciary is highly susceptible to favouritism.
  • This does not mean, however, that the executive-based model of judicial appointments is free of such tendencies. In the pre- collegium era, appointments were indeed made to the higher judiciary which were seen as undesirable and nepotistic by many. In fact, this situation may be more troublesome than that of judicial aristocracy considering how an important function.

However instead of changing the whole system

  • The CJI said that the government and its agencies have a say in the present collegium system and their views are also taken into consideration for appointment of judges.
  • Even now no name is finalized until it gets clearance from the law minister, the Prime Minister and the President and in the whole mechanism, inputs from intelligence bureau, respective high courts and eminent people, are taken into consideration.

What can be done?

  • Vacancies in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts need to be filled up. Most High Courts are functioning with half or one third the sanctioned strength.
  • Persons of doubtful integrity who might have been appointed by the mistake of the collegium have to be weeded out. A method has to be found without the process of impeachment, and voluntary retirement could be an option.
  • South African model:
    • Rigorous interviews of candidate becomes an important criteria for determining judicial appointment as compared to a closed-door system of collegium.
  • Accepting applications for appointments as High Court judges should be followed. This is followed in the U.K. and can be adopted in India too.
  • Minimum eligibility criteria for consideration need to be laid down, including appearances in important cases.
  • Parliament should also enact changes to provide a uniform retirement age for judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, so that the present practice of some of the judges seeking to be in the good books of the existing or prospective members of collegiums in the Supreme Court is avoided. This will also obviate the argument of expectation based on seniority for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court.
  • All the three organs of the state should also introspect as to why there has been no or inadequate representation in the higher judiciary from amongst women.
  • The executive should be given a limited veto that can only be used in special circumstances (South African and British Model respectively).
    • Lastly, the executive interference should only be limited to appointment and should play no role in transfer of Judges and appointment of Chief Justice. The Indian judiciary has come a long way, but there is a long road of judicial reforms ahead
  • A transparent, fair, and open system of appointment is central to ensuring that people have faith in the legal system, which is essential for functional democracy, doing business, and ensuring development.

3.Do you think that bans by the government can solve any social evils? Discuss. (GS 1)

Live Mint

Introduction :-

  • Ban on sale of cows for slaughter in animal markets, ban on alcohol sales in shops close to highways, ban on sale of alcohol across the state.

Yes,they help :-

  • Bans serve some immediate benefits to their proponents. It is a clear display of “right intentions”.
  • In the short term, some of the bans do show positive results. The vast majority of alcohol consumers are occasional drinkers.If any hurdles are placed in their path to consumption, many of them will curtail their drinking behaviour.
  • In the initial months of prohibition in the US, there was a 30% drop in alcohol consumption and decline in arrests for drunkenness.
  • The liquor bans in a few States have resulted in a slow-down in consumption of branded liquor the industry, which was poised to grow at 6%, slowed down to a 0.2% year-on-year growth because of  prohibition on liquor in Bihar and the restrictions placed on the liquor supply chain in Kerala.

No,they don’t :-

  • As soon as prohibition was announced, whether it was in the US or in Gujarat or in Meghalaya, the liquor trade moved underground.
    • As the underworld which now took over the business got more and more organized, the consumption levels went back to original levels and new problems like spurious liquor, gang wars and sale of other narcotic substances increased.
  • When any social problem becomes more of an individual action in a private space, the ability of the government to intervene to solve the problem becomes more difficult.
  • It absolves the individual of the responsibility of solving the social evils he indulges in and hands over that responsibility to law enforcement agencies.
    • For example, despite having a zero-tolerance attitude towards the drug menace, locking up millions in prisons and spending more than $50 billion a year on enforcement, the drug menace continues to haunt policymakers in the US.
  • A ban on a relatively harmless vice like gambling has resulted in a significant amount of money being invested in other, more serious crimes.This leads to more thugs, more guns, more hit-jobs, more extortion and more anarchy.
  • Some experts say that while the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SITA) allows the exchange of sex for money, organised prostitution and solicitation are illegal. Brothels are technically illegal.
    • It is exactly the sort of grey area that creates the opportunity for harassment and, therefore, forces helpless prostitutes to turn towards those engaged in organised crime for ‘protection’ and business.

What needs to be done?

  • One of the key aspects of the strategy was that Portugal decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001everything from marijuana to heroin. By this masterstroke the authorities made sure that the problem was not driven underground.
  • The new strategy was focused on the individual drug user.
  • Recreational users, occasional users of drugs are asked to appear before a dissuasion panel consisting of legal, social and psychological experts. They suggest motivational counselling to opiate substitution therapy. The drug dealers and traffickers of course were sent to jail.

The philosophy of Portugal’s drug policy was to treat it as a public health issue and not as a criminal issue and ban it. So India can also emulate this experience.

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