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Q.1) What are the causes behind disputes over land acquisitions in India. Would Land acquisition (second amendment) bill prove to be effective in dealing with these disputes? provide valid arguments in favour of your views(GS-2)

Answer: Land Acquisition has been a contentious issue in Indian development scene.

Reasons for disputes over land acquisition:

  1. Most of the times, the displaced are not made partners of development.
  2. The compensation is often in the form of cash or land not as fertile as the acquired land. It cannot fully compensate for the losses of the displaced.
  3. Rehabilitation does not consider the social and cultural costs of development. Particularly for tribals attached to the land for their way of life, displacing from their native land is equal to death.
  4. The calculation of compensation is not done at market cost. Also, there is inadequate representation of locals in determining the rightful compensation.
  5. The people often facing the displacement are tribals or villagers. The development benefits life dams or infrastructure highways seldom suit their needs. This brings the case of prioritizing one’s needs over other.
  6. Displacement for projects life hydropower dams not only has economic cost, but also bring in huge ecological damage to the locals. They pose the risk of submergence of villages.
  7. The Impact Assessment process is not representative and highly bureaucratic. Most of the times, vested interests play a dominating influence over the outcomes of the process.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 amends the Act passed in 2013. Provisions of the bill:

  1. It enables the government to exempt five categories of projects from the requirements of: (i) social impact assessment, (ii) restrictions on acquisition of multi-cropped land, and (iii) consent for private projects and public private partnerships (PPPs) projects.
  2. The five categories of projects are: (i) defence, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors, and (v) infrastructure including PPPs where government owns the land.
  3. The Act would apply retrospectively, if an award had been made five years earlier and compensation had not been paid or possession not taken.

The bill speeds up the process of :and Acquisition as a process. It thus makes the development of infrastructure across India speedy. This is in line with the government’s development agenda of Transforming India. But it fails to cater to the demands of the people involved in it.

Problems with the bill:

  1. The five types of projects being exempt from the provisions of social impact assessment, restrictions in case of multi-cropped land and consent are broad and may cover many public purpose projects.
  2. The Act requires consent of 70% of landholders for PPP projects, and 80% for private projects.  Acquisition, is different from purchase and implies that landowners are unwilling to part with the land.  Requiring consent from them may be impractical.  Also, it is not clear why the consent requirement depends on who owns the project.
  3. It gives preference to speedy acquisition over building consensus in the citizens.


Q.2)  There needs to be a road map to rescue private Industrial Training Institutes from their weak state. Explain. Also suggest measures for skills development in India.

Answer:  The recent parliamentary report on private ITIs has exposed a scam on the Quality Council of India’s approval for thousands of private ITIs. The number of private ITIs has grown from under 2,000 to over 11,000 in five years. Sharda Prasad committee points to the poor state of skill training going on in these institutes.

Other Problems with private ITIs:

  1. Failure to align with global standards.
  2. Lack of regulation and monitoring to keep a check on the quality of training.
  3. Policy changes make the governmental affiliation mandatory to start operation and ministry often introduces new conditions.
  4. The complex set of rules, regulations and laws governing the sector makes it difficult to setup and run an institute in India.
  5. Huge entry restrictions life working capital requirements.
  6. Poor results in the form of placements of trained candidates. This can be due to lack of industry tie ups and also due to adoption of poor skill standards.

Measures for skill development in India:

  1. More industry – institute tie ups can be promoted to cater to the skills demanded by industry.
  2. Simplifying red tape to enable private sector participation in developing skills.
  3. Separate stream for vocational education (in secondary education), creating vocational schools and vocational colleges for upward mobility, and having a Central university to award degrees and diplomas. China has such a separate stream after nine years of compulsory schooling, and half the students choose VET at the senior secondary level.
  4. The Sharada Prasad Committee had recommended that the number of SSCs should correspond to the National Industrial (Activity) Classification.
  5. Enhance employer ownership, responsibility in skill training.
  6. Periodic surveys through National Sample Survey Office, to collect data on skill providers and skill gaps by sector can guide evidence-based policy-making.

 

Q.3) Highlight the need for Universal Social Security Scheme in India. Discuss the major government interventions for old ages in India.

Answer:  Recently, the govt has proposed a comprehensive social security system to provide retirement, health, old-age, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits to the 500 million workers.

Need for a universal social security scheme in India:

  1. India’s workforce stands at 450mn of which around 10% belong to the organised sector and get social security of some sort. Every year, more than 10 million people are added to the workforce but most don’t get even the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security coverage.
  2. About 83% of the employed persons are in unorganised sector. The labour law coverage for unorganised sector is lacking in the country.
  3. A number of existing schemes already exist on insurance, disability benefits etc run by both the central as well as state governments.
  4. Agricultural labourers are not covered under any kind of social security so far.
  5. Lack of a social security measure pushes people into poverty while facing any kind of emergency.

Government interventions for old aged:

  1. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) – All unclaimed amounts from small savings accounts, PPF & EPF are to be transferred to this fund. Aids and assistive living devices are provided to senior citizens belonging to BPL category who suffer from age related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities.
  2. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) – It extends social assistance for poor households- for the aged, widows, disabled and in the case of death of the breadwinner. Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided to person of 60 years and above and belonging to family living below poverty line.
  3. The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana(PNVVY) – On payment of an initial lump sum amount, subscribers will get an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum payable monthly/quarterly/half-yearly/annually.
  4. National Program for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) – to address various health related problems of elderly people.

Q.4) Street Vendors Act (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending), 2014 aimed at changing the status quo of street vendor but the implementation gap are defeating the very purpose of the Act. Discuss.

Answer: Street Vendors Act was brought with the intention of regulating the profession and guaranteeing the street vendors certain amount of social security.

Provisions:

  1. The Bill aims to protect the livelihood rights of street vendors as well as regulate street vending through demarcation of vending zones, conditions for and restrictions on street vending.
  2. Any person intending to undertake street vending needs to register with the Town Vending Committee (TVC). He may then apply for a vending certificate that will be issued based on various criteria.
  3. The state government shall frame a scheme for street vendors. The local authority shall, in consultation with the planning authority, frame a street vending plan once every five years.
  4. The TVC comprises of the municipal commissioner, representatives of street vendors, local authority, planning authority, local police, resident welfare association and other traders associations.

Challenges in implementation:

  1. Many states did not form vendor committees at the district and city levels. In the absence of rules, town vending committees are formed unscientifically.
  2. Many states are yet to notify the rules. The delay has put on hold any welfare initiatives for street vendors.
  3. Vendors are often at the mercy of municipal corporations which resort to road expansions. Though the Act prohibits authorities from evicting street vendors until and unless the survey and ID card distribution are completed, vendors’ associations have accused the authorities of evicting them.
  4. While the Street Vending Act asks planning laws to take cognizance of the requirements of street vending and align state planning laws to vending needs, little has been done in practice to achieve this.
  5. It also needs to be examined whether some vending spaces can be made available for multiple use, allowing more than one vendor in different time slots. Eight-hour slots can be another plausible solution to enable a larger number of vendors to earn their living.
  6. Improved work conditions for street vending must be put in place. Vendors should have access to facilities such as safe drinking water, hygienic toilets, electricity and storage facilities. These amenities will not only increase the productivity of the vendors but also help in maintaining sanitary conditions in the area.
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