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Q.1) The government has recently launched the the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya Scheme.  In this context,What are the major problems of power sector in India? What are the causes of these? (GS-3)

Context:

  • The Government of India has launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or Saubhagya Scheme.

What is Saubhagya scheme?

  • The Saubhagya scheme was launched on September 25th, 2017.
  • The scheme will provide electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December 2018.

What is the need for the scheme?

  • Village electrification programme like Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, launched in July 2015, realised that a large number of household is still remaining without access to electricity.
  • Moreover, the scheme aims at ensuring the coverage of households as opposed to only villages.
  • A village is declared to be electrified if 10% of the households are given electricity along with public places such as schools, panchayat office, health centres, dispensaries and community centres.

How this scheme will make a difference?

  • The scheme will help to meet its global climate change commitments as electricity will substitute kerosene for lighting purposes.
  • Easy access to electricity in turn will also help in improving education, health, connectivity with the multiplier effect of increased economic activities and job creation.

What is Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana?

  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana is a Government of India scheme, launched on 25th July 2015.
  • The DDUGJY is one of the flagship programmes of the Ministry of Power.

Objectives:

  • Ministry of Power, Government of India has launched Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana for rural areas having following objectives:
  • To provide electrification to all villages,
  • Feeder separation to ensure sufficient power to farmers and regular supply to other consumers,
  • Improvement of Sub-transmission and distribution network to improve the quality and reliability of the supply and
  • Metering to reduce the losses.

The power sector of India: a quick glance:

  • India’s ranks third globally in terms of electricity production.
  • Sources of power generation in India range from conventional sources such as coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydro and nuclear power to viable non-conventional sources such as wind, solar, and agricultural and domestic waste.
  • Electricity comes under the concurrent list.

Problems of power sector in India:

  • The deeply troubled power sector accounts for almost one-tenth of all bank loans in India.
  • The power sector is also facing significant technological challenges as the cost of solar energy continues falling.
  • Increasing power generation costs due to limited fuel availability, poor financial health of State Discoms, high AT&C losses have contributed in suppressed demand projections by State Discoms
  • Power plants and utilities face major constraints and delays regarding the availability of land and obtaining the requisite environment and other clearances for the projects.
  • Apart from these, there is a significant amount of shortage of manpower and machinery equipments.

Government initiatives:

  • The Ministry of Power, Government of India, has taken various measures to achieve its aim of providing 24X7 affordable and environment friendly ‘Power for All’ by 2019.
  • The Government of India has initiated 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects order to achieve India’s ambitious renewable energy targets by the year 2022.
  • The revised Tariff Policy was notified by Ministry of Power with a focus on ‘4 Es’ i.e. Electricity for all, Efficiency to ensure affordable tariffs, Environment for a sustainable future, Ease of doing business to attract investments and ensure financial viability.

Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for urban areas provides for:

  • strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution networks in urban areas;
  • metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers in urban areas; and
  • IT enablement of distribution sector and strengthening of distribution network.

Operationalization of Power System Development Fund (PSDF) shall be utilized for the project proposed by distribution utilities for:

  • creating necessary transmission system of strategic importance;
  •  installation of shunt capacitors etc. for improvement of voltage profile in the grid;
  • installation of standard and special protection schemes; and
  • Renovation and Modernisation of transmission and distribution systems for relieving congestion; etc.
  • Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme has been launched for operational and financial turnaround of Discoms.

Q.2) Although the strength of India ,socio-economically, is rooted in agriculture,But since decades the country has been witnessing the distress of the rural economy to a considerable extent. What are the major problems of rural indian economy? What are the drawbacks of rural wages programmes in India? (GS-1)

Context:

  • Rural wages in India over the past few years seems to get over looked.
  • This collapse and stagnation deserves a closer look than it has received thus far.

Rural economy in India: An overview:

  • India is known as an agricultural country, as most of the population of villages depends on agriculture. Agriculture forms the backbone of the country’s economy.
  • The agricul­tural sector contributes most to the overall economic development of the country.

The features of Indian rural economy are as follows:

Commercialization of Agriculture:

  • In the present days, a large part of rural economy has been opened up, which has made commercialization of agricul­ture possible.

Rural Society under the positive impact of Urbanism:

  • Many industries have been flourished in rural areas, which are rich in the resources needed for the setting up of industries.
  • Urbanism also brought development of rural roads and transport and communication.
  • Contacts with the urban areas have created awareness among the rural masses about consumer goods.
  • Also, due to green revo­lution, the income levels of the rural people have increased, which encourages such consumption of goods possible.

Government initiatives:

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):

  • MGNREGA attempts to address two of the key concerns related to poverty in India: unemployment and a flagging agriculture sector.

The present policy frame of MGNREGA is based on three-pronged accomplishment to alleviate and reduce poverty in the country which constitutes:

  • Stepping up of economic growth
  • Direct strike on poverty through employment, income-generating programmes and assets creation for the poor and
  • Human and social development policies for the poor and the needy.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana or DDU-GKY:

  • It is Government of India youth employment scheme.
  • It aims to target youth, under the age group of 15–35 years. DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.

Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP):

  • Jobs created by the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), generates employment in rural and urban areas by initiating new micro enterprises and small projects.
  • Make in India Programme: The main aim of the Make in India programme is to generate employment in the manufacturing sector.
  • Startup India: Under this programme, the government encouraged banks to provide finance to young entrepreneurs to start their own business ventures.

What are the problems of rural wages?

  • Lower income of the people in rural areas is because of the low prices of agricultural products.
  • Most new jobs in the rural are for unskilled workers, so the wages and nature of the work are unattractive.
  • There is a strong gender disparity, where the female worker is paid only 70% of what the male worker earns.
  • With the advent of Green Revolution, money wage rates started increasing, but with the raise of prices, real wage rates did not increase.
  • Increase in wages, unaccompanied by productivity increases, could lead to a wage-price spiral, thereby offsetting the positive impact of initial increase in real wages on welfare.
  • If increase in wages in one sector leads to subsequent increase in wages across the economy, the competitiveness of the economy could be negatively impacted.

What are the drawbacks of rural wages programmes in India?

  • Objectives of one program conflict with those of others, and there is no institutional mechanism for reconciling them.
  • Poor norms of fixation, enforcement, implementation and coverage in various parts of the country are other important drawbacks.
  • Different wages are fixed for the same work in different sectors. Thus there is no justification of labour cost.
  • The funds which are allotted for a particular wage program is not supervised. Hence, it is not used with honesty.
  • There is ardent insufficiency of manpower, training and efficiency to run these rural wages programmes.

Q.3) The Supreme Court has successfully managed to bring down its case backlog below 60,000 through concerted efforts. In light of the above statement, discuss the reasons behind the case backlogs in the Indian judiciary. What are the various factors worsening the situation in India? What are the suggested ways to improve the present situation? (GS-2)

Reasons behind the backlog

Vacancies of judges

  • With about 30 million cases pending in various courts across the country, Indian judiciary is struggling to clear a huge backlog. If on an average three persons are involved in a case, then there are at least 90 million people waiting for justice.
  • Bulk of these cases is pending in subordinate courts thronged by poor litigants – who bear the brunt of the snail-paced system.
  • Of late, the problem has been compounded by the unprecedented increase in judicial vacancies across the three tiers of Judiciary. Official figures show, the SC is short of five judges, 24 High Courts have 464 vacant judges post and 4,166 at the subordinate courts.

Tiff between Judiciary and Government

  • Appointment to the Supreme Court and high courts are done by a collegium of the top court. But judges in the subordinate courts are appointed by the state high court. The stand – off between the government and the Supreme Court collegium over a memorandum of procedure has made things worse for judicial appointments in the higher judiciary.
  • The tussle between the government and the Supreme Court has adversely affected the efficiency of the judiciary. The arrears are mounting and new appointments are not being made.

Judge-population ratio

  • With a sanctioned strength of 21,000-odd judges, subordinate courts are under tremendous pressure as almost a quarter of the posts remain vacant, thanks to lack of advance planning and a poor recruitment policy.
  • The Law Commission and the Supreme Court recommended that India should have 50 judges per one million people, but the ratio continues to be abysmally low at 17 judges per one million people.
  • The Department of Justice has said the problem of shortage of judges is being addressed through a two-pronged strategy. Firstly, by filling up the large number of vacancies and secondly, increasing the sanctioned strength of judges.

Increasing literacy

  • Albeit at a slow pace, the number of cases being filed every year is increasing. An interesting reason for the same, apart from depleting moral conscience, is increased awareness, with increased
  • literacy. Kerala, for example, gets 28 new cases per 1,000 people. It has a literacy rate of over 90%. Jharkhand, which has a literacy rate of around 53%, gets four cases per 1,000.

Lower Courts

  • According to the National Judicial Data Grid website as on December 31, 2015, 2.6 crore cases are pending only in lower courts of which 41.38% cases have been pending for less than two years and 10.83% have been pending for over 10 years. This is a resultant of rampant bribes for bail and postponing dates.

Reason for it getting worse

  • Although the number of judges increased six-fold in the last three decades, the number of cases too shot up 12-fold, as per the 2012 report of the National Court Management Systems (NCMS).
  • Even by conservative estimates, the number of cases reaching courts will touch 15 crore, requiring at least 75,000 judges in the next three decades, the report said.
  • With growing literacy and income, more and more people are likely to approach courts, contributing to the burgeoning backlog of cases.

Solutions

  • There is a need to have access to high resolution data on judicial processes at both the high court as well as the lower court level. A number of courts do not have data under the “Date filed” column, the most crucial piece for identifying delays.
  • Fast track courts have proved their mettle, & their importance cannot be emphasized enough. On the recommendation of the 11th Finance Commission, 1734 Fast Track Courts of Sessions Judges were sanctioned for disposal of old pending cases and the said scheme was to end on 31-3-2005.
  • Out of 18,92,583 cases, 10,99,828 have been disposed of by these courts. Keeping in view the performance of Fast Track Courts and contribution made by them towards clearing the backlog, it can be further put to use.
  • Mobile courts that help taking justice to the door-step of the rural would significantly help in fighting the backlog.
  • The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. To achieve that objective, Lok Adalats are being held at various places in the country and a large number of cases are being disposed of with lesser costs.
  • Mobile Lok Adalats are presently in place in different parts of the State of Bihar and on the lines of steps taken by the High Court of Patna of holding mobile Lok Adalats, the other High Courts need also work on the same lines so that speedy and affordable justice could be made available to the litigants at their doorsteps.
  • Ministry of Law & Justice is going to draw a Gram Nyayalayas Bill with an objective to secure justice, both civil and criminal, at the grass-root level to the citizens, which would be the lowest court of subordinate judiciary and shall provide easy access to justice to litigant through friendly procedures, use of local language and mobile courts wherever necessary.
  • No judge specific metrics are available. With simple metrics like frequency of case disposal per judge or categorisation of subject matter with respect to judges, a great deal of accountability and trust would be brought into the system.
  • New technology should be leveraged, and not just technology for data collection. Artificial Intelligence is fast maturing and with further advances in machine learning, standardised data collection can assist judges in forming judgements. A software developed by Nine Research Institute in China helped 300 judges handle 1,50,000 cases, reducing their workload by a third.
  • Significant progress has been made towards computerisation of courts. However, computerisation must include within its ambit the standardisation of data collection across courts and not merely computerisation within silos.
  • Video conferencing is statutorily provided but rarely available in practice and infrequently used even if available. Accountability needs to be fixed on individuals causing repeated delays in dispensing justice.
  • Case management hearings should be introduced after pleadings have been completed by both parties where timelines are set and the court should impose sanctions against parties that fail to adhere to these timelines.
  • Indian judiciary should also consider a consolidated “Adjournment Manual” applicable across all courts which codifies the conditions under which adjournment should be granted in order to reduce arbitrariness.
  • Economic uncertainty in decision making is further compounded by periodic encroachment by the judiciary in the domain of the executive. Two recent examples are the high court of Tamil Nadu asking the state government to waive farmers’ loans and the highway liquor ban imposed by the Supreme Court. The short term perspective furthered by these encroachments is severely impacting long term predictability, consistency, and clarity of policies.
  • The high pendency in courts can decline only with effective measurement, process overhaul, constant feedback, and by equipping the judiciary with technology and modern tools. This alone can enable the emergence of a new and modern judicial system with the capacity to dispense justice speedily.

The Law Ministry’s Department of Justice discussed ways by which pendency of cases can be reduced.

  • The deliberations revealed that the Centre and the States were responsible for over 46% of the 3 crore plus cases pending before the Courts across the country. While all States have formulated State Litigation Policies, a National Litigation Policy is still underway. This Policy will be aimed at providing mechanisms to ensure reduction in Government litigation, and will lay emphasis on exploring alternative means of dispute resolution.

Suggestions

  • The Department went on to suggest the following ways to reduce pendency-
  • Appointment of a nodal officer in every department at the Joint Secretary Level to coordinate effective resolution of the disputes.
  • Nodal Officer to regularly monitor the status of the cases.
  • Promotion of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Encouragement of mediation as the preferred form of dispute resolution in service related matters.
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