9 PM Daily Brief – May 13th ,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

1.National Security versus Individual Rights

2.Performance of Rajya Sabha

GS-3

3.Issues with JAM based financial inclusion

4.Why are Covid-19 cases in India less?

5.Is Disaster Management Act unconstitutional

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.National Security versus Individual Rights

Source The Hindu

Syllabus – GS Paper 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context – Supreme Court recently sent the question of restoring 4G connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir for a review to the very authorities who imposed the restriction in the first place

Reasons for imposing restrictions on use of 4G connectivity:

  1. To prevent terrorists misusing it to disturb peace and tranquility
  2. Spike in incidents of terrorism — 108 incidents, in fact, between August 5, 2019 and April 25, 2020

Implications of imposing the restrictions:

  1. Fundamental rights violated
    • Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression – It also includes freedom to disseminate and receive information through any means including internet.
    • Right to practice any profession and trade.
    • Human Rights Council of the UN has found right to access to Internet is a fundamental freedom
  2. Loss of revenue to state and disruption in economic activities–According to Kashmir Chamber of Commerce due to the imposition of restriction on internet there has been loss of 1.4$ Billion.
  3. International Image is tarnished– India’s diplomatic capital gets negatively affected with such steps. Also, questions are being raised on India’s credibility as a democratic nation since India had largest such restriction worldwide in 2019 as reported by Internet shutdown tracker. This in turn impacts the investor’s confidence in economy and thus investment is negatively impacted which affects the employment, output and growth of state and nation.
  1. Telecom service providers (TSP) – According to one estimate, TSPs in Uganda lose up to USD $23 million a day due to internet shutdowns. Thus, the loss in India is more due to the wider subscription which add to their current woes.
  2. E-Governance in tatters – The restriction imposed impacts the telemedicine, tele -legal services and tele-education services provided for citizens welfare.

Way Forward- Supreme Court in Anuradha Bhasin case held that any such restriction on internet must meet test of proportionality which includes legitimate aim for restriction, rational nexus between aim and restriction and proof that it is least restrictive restriction to achieve aim.

2.Performance of Rajya Sabha

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS PAPER 2 – Separation of powers between various organs

Context – Emergence of debate on utility of Rajya Sabha in Indian Parliamentary system

Comparing Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Parameters  Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha
1. COMPOSITION 552 Members

2 Nominated from Anglo-Indian community

250 Members

12 Nominated by President

2. TENURE 5 YEARS

(It can be dissolved earlier by passing no-confidence motion)

PERMANENT
3. HEAD SPEAKER CHAIRMAN (VICE-PRESIDENT)
4. FUNCTIONS All bills originate in Lok Sabha mostly and after passing through Rajya Sabha, they are returned for Lok Sabha approval. It plays a major role in legislation. Rajya Sabha has special powers to announce that it is required and expedient in the national interest that Parliament may make laws with respect to a matter in the State List or to create by law one or more all-India services common to the Union and the States.

 

No power with respect to money bill.

Issues with Rajya Sabha

  1. Deadlock over Bills– Parliament held only three Joint Sittings to resolve differences between both the Houses. In all three instances Rajya Sabha did not pass the bills.
    • 1961 – Dowry Prohibition Bill, 1959
    • 1978 – Banking Services Commission (Repeal) Bill, 1977
    • 2002 – Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2002
  1. Regressive attitude – Two instances when bills to bring socio-political changes were obstructed by Rajya Sabha:
    • 1970 – Constitution (Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 1970 for abolishing privy purses to   erstwhile rulers.
    • 1989 – Constitution (Sixty-fourth and Sixty-fifth Amendment) Bills seeking to empower local government.
  1. Productivity – Rajya Sabha till 1997 had a productivity of 100% and above and the past 23 years have thrown up a disturbing trend of rising disruptions.
    • 1998-2004 – Productivity fell to 87%
    • 2005-2014 – Productivity fell to 76%
    • 2015-2019 – Productivity fell to 61%
  1. Oversight function– Rajya Sabha holds the executive accountable with Questions, Calling Attention Notices etc. Time share of this important Oversight function has been declining since 2005 due to frequent disruptions:
    • 1978-2004 was 39.50%.
    • 2005-14 – 21.9 %
    • 2015-2019 – 12%

Way Forward – Despite the challenges it has, Rajya Sabha performs important function in coordination with Lok Sabha. Thus, need of the hour is to bring necessary reforms for evolution of Rajya Sabha as second chamber.

3.Issues with JAM based financial inclusion

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

Context: For some years now, the so-called JAM trinity (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) has been suggested as a dream cash-transfer infrastructure for India. But for effective cash relief in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the government must think beyond the Jan Dhan Yojana.

Myth of JAM:  

  • Expectation: There was a prediction of supreme rise of mobile transactions and this idea was taken up by a familiar bandwagon of Aadhaar champions, software businesses, digital-payment companies, fintech wizards and embedded economists. The Aadhaar-enabled mobile banking became the supreme goal.
  • During the coronavirus crisis:JAM was viewed as a possible tool of emergency relief. But poor people have relied on old-fashioned bank accounts to collect their meagre benefits. There are long bank queues and related hardships especially in rural areas where the density of banks is relatively low.

Comparing women’s JDY accounts with another possible basis for cash transfers, at least in rural areas can be the list of households that have a National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) job card. The numbers of accounts are roughly comparable: about 14 crores for NREGA job cards and 12 crore or so for women’s JDY accounts in rural and semi-urban areas.

Whether JDY has poor approach for cash relief purposes?

  1. Disorder of JDY accounts:
    1. Transparency: The NREGA job-cards list is far more transparent and well-organized than JDY.
    2. Ignoring Banking Norms: During the initial JDY wave, banks opened JDY accounts in large numbers to meet the targets. Many accounts were opened without informed consent, duplicate accounts flourished and Aadhaar numbers were seeded without any safeguards.
    3. Dormancy of accounts: A large proportion of JDY accounts (40% in March 2017, down to 19% in January 2020) went “dormant” as customers were unable or unwilling to use them.
    4. Failure to complete e-KYC: Some accounts were blocked because the account holders were unable to complete timely ex-post biometric authentication (“e-KYC”) of the Aadhaar numbers.
  2. Exclusion errors:
    Coverage of poor Households: According to a recent Yale study, less than half of poor adult women have a JDY account (an even lower proportion, 21%, know that they have a JDY account). Whereas the NREGA job-card list is likely to have much better coverage of poor households.
  3. Larger inclusion errors in the JDY approach:
    1. While Job cards are meant for rural workers, JDY accounts are for everyone.
    2. An earlier survey data suggests that the probability of having a JDY account is more or less the same for poor and non-poor households.

What is the difference in Reliability of NREGA and JDY payments?

  • Issue of Aadhar: There have been significant issues (e.g. delayed, rejected, blocked or diverted payments) with NREGA payments often related to Aadhaar. But even the numerous “direct benefit transfer” schemes have faced similar problems. Transfers to women’s JDY accounts are unlikely to be more reliable than transfers to job-card holders.
  • Effective Payment: There is an argument in favor of the NREGA job-cards list: unlike JDY accounts, it lends itself to the “cash-in-hand” method (on-the-spot payment in cash) as a possible fallback.
  • Identification of Beneficiary: The job-cards list is a household list with village and gram panchayat identifiers while the list of JDY accounts is an opaque list of individual bank accounts.
  • Cash in hand method: The NREGA has cash in hand method and there are examples of effective use of the cash-in-hand method like in Odisha for pension payments and in various states for NREGA wage payments.

Way Forward

There is nothing compelling about the use of women’s JDY accounts for cash relief. During corona crisis some of its weaknesses has come forward. The JAM trinity need some changes to bring positive effect in lives of people.

4.Why are Covid-19 cases in India less?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3-Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Context: The COVID-19 has caused severe disruption across the world. However, there are variations both among and within countries in the number of cases. In general, Europe and the U.S. have borne the brunt of the infection while Asian and African countries including India have been relatively less affected so far.

Some of the patterns associated with case identification:

South Korea and Germany tested widely in an effort to identify cases, whereas some countries including India offered testing (at least in the initial stages) to only those with a history of foreign travel or with close contact with a known case.

What are the Possible reasons for differences in cases in Europe and Asia?

  • Low temperature and low absolute humidity:It has been suggested that a low temperature and absolute humidity influence transmission. But this theory needs further proof.
  • Genetic variations:During the 2003 SARS epidemic, specific genetic variants that provided resistance or susceptibility to infection were identified in different populations. The case may be the same now.
  • Population-specific differences: Such as Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors (which permits virus to enter the body) may partly explain the differential infection rates of COVID-19. It is also possible that some Asian and African populations have been exposed to a multitude of coronaviruses previously which has provided some cross-immunity.
  • Early Preventive measures by India: India closed its doors to foreign travelers early in the outbreak and has not seen the surge that could potentially have been expected.

What should be the approach in Easing of Lockdown?

  • Rural centric approach: The Current approaches are largely urban-centric with little focus on rural dynamics.
  • A decentralized approach: It is required to manage the large rural population and the success in Kerala may serve as a useful model. Governments may consider mobilizing and training a range of healthcare providers in responding to this situation.
  • Current practice of Isolation is not sustainable: The current practice of isolating all cases in hospital settings is not sustainable if cases increase.
  • Case definition based on symptoms and epidemic patterns: It may be used to diagnose suspected COVID-19 cases as it would be impractical to test everyone with symptoms.
  • Community Centers for isolation: If cases cannot be managed at home, community centers may be deployed for isolation.
  • To be lifted in Phased Manner:One approach would be to ensure that the vulnerable are protected beyond initial lockdown periods while restrictions are lifted for the healthy population.
  • Gradual exposure: The herd immunity may develop through gradual exposure among healthy individuals.
  • Promoting hygiene measures: While lockdown measures are lifted in a controlled manner, government public health agencies need to continue to promote hygiene measures. Public health messages need to be locally tailored and consistent.

Way Forward

The approach to the management of COVID-19 needs to blend acute disaster management strategies with longer-term public health measures including economic measures.

 

5.Is Disaster Management Act unconstitutional?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

 GS 3-  Issues related to Disaster and disaster management.

 

Context: The Central government has issued guidelines to states under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic during lockdowns. The Centre has directed the State governments to carefully enforce every set of guidelines. The States can only increase and not dilute the restrictions. This centralized approach has raised questions on the federal structure of India.

Examples of Problems between Centre and states:

  1. Problem in Dividing zones by Centre: Some States/UTs objected to the classification of certain areas/districts as red zones on the ground that these areas are very large.
  2. Case of Kerala: The Central government did not trust the wisdom of the State government and asked state to refrain from relaxing restrictions.

Whether the guidelines issued by the Centre to states for dealing with Pandemic are legal as per Federal Scheme?

  • As per Seventh Schedule:
    • Disaster management as a field of legislation does not find mention in either State List or Concurrent List nor in any entry in Union List specifically deal with this. Thus, the DM Act could only have been enacted by Parliament under Article 248 of the Constitution read with Entry 97 of List I in exercise of its residuary powers.
  • As per Judiciary:
    • The Supreme Court applied the rule of harmonious construction in a number of judgments including in Godfrey Phillips v. State of U.P. & Ors (2005) and dictates that in event of any overlap between two or more entries, the specific subject matter contained in a particular entry must be deemed to have been excluded from another entry which may deal with a more general subject matter.
  • Executive Powers:
    • As per Articles 73 and 162, the executive power of the Centre and the States is alike with their respective legislative powers which means that they can only take executive actions in matters where Parliament and State legislatures have powers to legislate.
  • Using it For Pandemic:
    • The Act’s definition of disaster is quite broad and literally include a pandemic too.
    • The ‘public health and sanitation’ is a specific field of legislation under Entry 6 of State List. This implies that States have the exclusive right to legislate and act on matters concerning public health.
    • Thus, the Centre’s guidelines and directions to the States for dealing with the pandemic trench upon a field of legislation and executive action that is exclusively assigned to the States — public health.
  • Availability of other law:
    • The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 has the objective of preventing “…the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.”
    • Under which the State governments which have the authority to take appropriate measures for arresting the outbreak or spread of a contagious or infectious disease in their respective States.

Way Forward

As per federal feature of the Constitution, powers are divided between the centre and states. If any of the directions/guidelines issued by the Central government is against the federal character, states are well within their rights to challenge them before the apex court.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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