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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
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9 PM for Main examination
- The South Asian-Gulf migrant crisis
- Governor’s role vis-à-vis the Chief Minister
- Importance of triangular relation – India-Russia- China
- Supreme Court’s ruling on power of speaker
- Compensating States – Fostering Cooperative Federalism
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.The South Asian-Gulf migrant crisis
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-1- Society
Context: The Kerala High Court recently issued notice to the Central and State governments on a petition seeking to set up a mechanism to assist NRIs who had lost their jobs abroad and had returned to India.
About South Asia-Gulf migration corridor
- It is among the largest in the world. South Asians account for nearly 15 million in the Gulf.
- According to the World Bank, in 2019, total remittances to South Asia was about $140 billion, of which India received $83.1 billion.
Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on South Asian migrants in Gulf Countries:
- Unsanitary living conditions and exposure to Covid-19: Most of the migrants are single men living in congested labour camps which are overcrowded and have unsanitary living conditions. There has been a spike in Covid-19 cases in these camps.
- Aggravated the plight of migrants:South Asian migrants in Gulf countries have no safety net, social security protection, welfare mechanisms, or labour rights. The pandemic, the shutdown of companies and the exploitative nature of the Kafala sponsorship system have aggravated their plight.
- Shortage of Medicines: Since medicines are expensive in the GCC, migrants often procure them from India and stock up for a few months. However, the suspension of flights caused an acute shortage of medicines.
Indian government Initiatives:
- Vande Bharat Mission: It is a multi-agency mission that will see the operation of 64 flights to bring back Indian nationals from Gulf countries, US, UK among other nations.
- SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) Initiative:It aims to create a database of Indian citizens returning from overseas under the Vande Bharat Mission based on their skill-sets and experience to tap into and fulfil demand of Indian and foreign companies.
- Dream Kerala: It aims at the rehabilitation of returning expatriates and the state’s overall development.
Initiatives by Other South-Asian Countries:
- Bangladesh:the government has announced a special package for the resettlement of return migrants which includes money on arrival, money to launch self-employment projects, and compensation for the families of those who died abroad from COVID-19.
- Pakistan: The Overseas Employment Corporation has come out with special programmes to upgrade the skills of returnees.
Conclusion: The Covid-19 pandemic induced crisis has provided an opportunity to voice the rights of South Asian migrants and to bring the South Asia-Gulf migration corridor within the ambit of SAARC, the ILO, and UN conventions.
2.Governor’s role vis-à-vis the Chief Minister
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-2- Polity
Context: Office takes cue from the constitution and not from the centre but the Rajasthan Governor’s role in the current crisis appears to be opposite from this statement.
The political turmoil in Rajasthan
- Rajasthan’s governor held back the government’s recommendation for an assembly session citing the COVID-19 situation among other reasons.
- The repeated queries and the delay in convening the assembly by the office have raised questions about office’s commitment to follow the constitution.
- Raj Bhavan has the power to summon, “The House or each house of Legislature to meet at such time and place as the governor thinks fit” which is given by the Articles 163 and 174 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court on Governor’s Role
- Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Deputy Speaker (2016):The Supreme Court referred to discussions in the Constituent Assembly and observed that the governor was a nominee of the president. The apex court told that such a nominee cannot have overriding powers over:
- The representatives of the people who constitute the House ( house of state legislature)
- The executive government functioning under the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head.
- Politicisation of the office became more frequent when it became common for individuals still active in politics to be established in Raj Bhavans in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Bommai judgement : The Supreme Court laid down clear limits of the governor’s authority in the landmark Bommai judgment to find a way to curb the misuse of Article 356 to unseat state governments led by parties opposed to the ruling party at the Centre.
The Supreme Court’s interventions show that no matter how cloudy Rajasthan’s crisis might be politically, its legal and constitutional aspects are crystal clear. The governor’s office should take its cue from the constitution and not from the centre and should be completely unbiased in its approach.
3.Importance of triangular relation – India-Russia- China
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Context – A westward shift in India’s foreign policy appear misplaced as engagement with Russia and China does matter for various interests.
Evolution of relations among India-Russia- China
- Initial Years– In the early 2000s, the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
- Anti-US versus Non-west construct– It was not an anti-U.S. construct. The RIC shared some non-West perspectives on the global order, such as an emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity, impatience with homilies on social policies and opposition to regime change from abroad agenda.
- Bilateral Relation– The advent of President Vladimir Putin reinforced the political, defense and energy pillars of the India-Russia strategic partnership.
- With China, the 2003 decision to bring a political approach to the boundary dispute and to develop other cooperation encouraged a multi-sectoral surge in relations.
Key irritants in India-Russia- China Relation
- India –USA Relation
- India-USA – Enhanced Relation – India’s relations with the U.S. surged after 2002, and it encompasses trade and investment, a landmark civil nuclear deal and a burgeoning defense relationship.
- India-China – Deteriorated ties – With India’ closeness to USA, China went back on the 2005 agreement, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighborhood and expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean.
- India-Russia – Troubled ties– As India-U.S. collaboration widened and U.S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014 (after the annexation/accession of Crimea), Russia’s pushback against the U.S. included cultivating the Taliban in Afghanistan and enlisting Pakistan’s support for it was not taken well by India.
- Balance of Power in Indo-Pacific
- Chinese perspective– China sees our Indo-Pacific initiatives as part of a U.S.-led policy of containing China.
- Russian perspective– Russia’s sees the Indo-Pacific as an American ploy to draw India and Japan into a military alliance against China and Russia.
Significance of Russia-India-China engagement
- Dilution of the Russia-China duopoly in central Asia – Growing Chinese influence in central Asia is testing the informal Russia-China understanding that Russia handles the politico-security issues in the region and China extends economic support. It is important for India to shape the Russia-China dynamics in this region, to the extent possible.
- India –Russia – Defense and energy pillars of India’s partnership with Russia remain strong. Access to Russia’s abundant natural resources can enhance our materials security.
- India –China– With China, while the recent developments should accelerate our efforts to bridge the bilateral asymmetries, disengagement is not an option. We have to work bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of issues, even while firmly protecting our interests on the border, in technology and the economy.
- Indo-Pacific– For India, it is a geographic space of economic and security importance, in which a cooperative order between India-Russia should prevent the dominance of any external power including China.
Way Forward – India’s quest for autonomy of action in foreign policy needs to be based on its geographical realities, historical legacies and global ambitions — not a residual Cold War mindset.
4.Supreme Court’s ruling on power of speaker
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-2- Polity
The Supreme Court granted the permit for the withdrawal of the Special Leave Petition filed by the Speaker of the Rajasthan State Assembly without any ado.
Background: The Rajasthan High Court temporarily ordered status quo on disqualification notices against Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress legislators. The petition in which this status quo order came to be passed is yet to be finally decided.
Kihoto Holohan judgement
- The point of arguments will be constituted from the Kihoto Hollohan decision of the Supreme Court delivered in 1992.
- The constitution bench was split by two opinions:
- The majority upheld the constitutionality of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution
- The minority challenged it by stating that it violated the basic structure of the Constitution and should have been circulated to all the state legislatures and should have received the approval of their majority.
Present Case: role of Rajasthan high court
- “The correctness of Kihoto Hollohan needs to be considered” the bench had commented in the brief hearing before the Supreme Court.
- It would have required a seven-judge Bench to be constituted in respect of the constitutionality of the Tenth Schedule, if the bench’s suggestion is undertaken and for the majority opinion to be overturned.
- The chairman or speaker has the final authority of whether any member(s) of Parliament or a legislature has become subject to disqualification. The high court may not have the authority to unsettle Kihoto Hollohan and must apply its ratio.
- However, the Rajasthan High Court chose to exercise its extraordinary constitutional power under Article 226 to test whether the Kihoto Hollohan judgement had tested the legal authority of Para 2 (1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule in the context of “intra-party dissent”.
- This Para presumes disqualification of a member of house belonging to any party that has voluntarily given up his membership of a political party.
- This is against the opinion of the SC in paragraph 21 of the Kihota Hollohan case that says paragraph 2 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is valid.
- Further, the Rajasthan High Court also rejected the following on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction :
- the prayer for “upholding the status of the petitioners as members of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on account of them continuing to be members of the Indian National Congress” and
- declaring that alleged actions of the petitioners as members of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly do not have the scope of disqualification under para 2 of the Tenth Schedule. However, the status quo was later restored.
The high courts and the Supreme Court have routinely refused to interfere in matters where the concerned authority has merely issued a show cause notice or granted an opportunity of being heard. This is an inviolable tenet of natural justice and the Rajasthan high court will ultimately have to decide on the acts of Supreme Court.
5.Compensating States – Fostering Cooperative Federalism
Syllabus – GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment
Context – With GST collections set to shrink in this fiscal year, the Centre must find new ways to compensate States.
Compensation Cess – The GST Compensation Cess collected by the central government is distributed to the manufacturing-heavy states or origin states to compensate for the possible revenue losses due to implementation of the consumption-based GST regime.
Calculation of the Compensation Cess Amount
- Base Year – Revenue for the FY 2016-17 is considered as thebase revenuefor the state in consideration.
- Compensation cess – Growth rate of the state is assumed to be 14% per annum for the 5-year period over which GST cess is applicable. Based on this, projected revenue for a FY that a state could have earned in the absence of GST is calculated.
Compensation cess = Projected revenue for the FY- Actual revenue collected by a State in the same FY
Challenges associated with state’s revenue
- Low GST collection in FY 2020– With economic activity likely to remain well below pre-COVID levels, state GST collections will fall well short of expectations.
- Low compensation cess– Collections through the compensation cess will not be enough to offset the shortfall in states’ revenues as measured against their protected revenue growth. For instance, Compensation cess under GST last year was almost RS 70,000 crore less than the payments due to States.
Challenges GST council is facing
- Fulfilling obligation of paying compensation cess– How to compensate states for the greater than expected shortfall this year is a major challenge with GST Council this year.
- Extension of time-period– Whether the compensation cess should be extended beyond the five-year period that was originally agreed upon is another major contention.
Way Forward – Given that states are at the forefront of fighting the COVID, the GST council must ensure adequate flow of resources to them and reduce the uncertainty in state finances.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
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