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- Disability issues
- Parliament and its panels
- The Independence of the Supreme Court
- Economic trilemma- Capital inflows, High inflation and Currency appreciation
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Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2- Society
Context: Disabled professionals in the legal world.
What is SCC and barriers to its access?
- SCC is the only database of India which supplies the true copies of judgements accepted in Indian courts.
- SCC Online has many accessibility barriers:Such as unlabelled links, search filters which cannot be applied with screen readers and the text of judgments being inaccessible due to security settings.
What are the various challenges that people with disability face?
Two fundamental issues that prevent the disabled from leading lives of equal dignity and productivity:
- an exclusionary mindset and
- the inability to recognise the disabled as rights-bearing citizens, entitled to demand fair and equal treatment from every service provider, public or private.
- The Supreme Court of India held last year, in V. Surendra Mohan vs. State Of Tamil Nadu:Tamil Nadu’s policy, of reserving the post of civil judge only for people whose percentage of blindness does not exceed 40-50%, was rational and reasonable.
- It ruled that a judicial officer has to possess a reasonable amount of sight and hearing to discharge her functions.
- It accepted the claim that impaired vision makes it impossible to perform the functions required of judicial officers’.
- The misconception in this line of thinking:A blind person is as much entitled as anyone else to freely choose what profession they wish to pursue.
- But, it starts on the idea that the existing ways of doing things will always remain the way they are, so tough luck to those whom they exclude.
- The case of B.K. Pavitra vs. Union of India: The Supreme Court held that if the benchmark of efficiency is grounded on equal access, our outcomes will reflect the commitment of the Constitution to produce a just social order.
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016: Section 46 of the Act requires all service providers, public or private, to comply with the rules on accessibility framed by the Central Government within a period of two years from the date of their declaration. This two-year period expired in June 2019.
- Each one of us should be firmly committed to the idea of implementing the two fundamental changes mentioned above.
- We should pause to reflect on what it is that makes it so hard for them to succeed in the first place and what we can do to reverse this state of affairs.
2.Parliament and its panels
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus:Gs2: Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
Context: There were speculation in the media that the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is keen on amending the rules to give Department-related Standing Committees a fixed tenure of two years.
What are DSCs (Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees)?
- The Department-related Standing Committees were constituted in 1993.
- The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees have a tenure of one year.
- There are 24 Department-related Standing Committees, each with a membership of 31 (10 of the Rajya Sabha and 21 of the Lok Sabha).
- Ministers cannot be members of these committees.
- They can accommodate 240 members of the Rajya Sabha and 504 members of the Lok Sabha.
How tenures were fixed?
- No fixed tenure in Rajya Sabha: The standard prescription relating to the constitution of those committees’ states that the committee shall hold office until a new committee is nominatedand that the casual vacancies in the committee shall be filled in by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
- One-year tenure for important committees in Lok Sabha: According to the Lok Sabha rules, Most of the committees have a tenure of one year, except a fewfor which no tenure has been prescribed.
What does the rule say?
- According to the Lok Sabha Rules and the Rajya Sabha Rules,the term of office of the “members” of the committees shall not exceed one year.
- It is the term of office of the membersand not that of the committees per se that is one year.
- The tenurial issue has to be looked at against the backdrop of the fact that the Rajya Sabha itself undergoes partial biennial renewal, since one-third of its members retire every two years by virtue of clause (1) of Article 83of the Constitution.
- As far as the Lok Sabha is concerned, it has a fixed tenure of five years, unless sooner dissolved. Given these facts, Vice President’s suggestion is in consonance with the biennial partial reconstitution of the Rajya Sabha.
What are the challenges in changing the tenure?
- Mismatch between election schedule: There is mismatch between the election schedule of the Rajya Sabha (every two years) and the Lok Sabha (every five years)
- Concurrence of both houses:Only Rajya Sabha cannot amend the tenure alone. Since these are joint committees of the two Houses of Parliament, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha also has to concur.
What amendment are needed in the rules of the houses?
- Different tenures:Tenure of members can be two years for the Rajya Sabha members and for the Lok Sabha members, it may be coterminous with its life. Hence tenure of members can be amended and it should be in consonance with the tenure of the Houses.
- Role of Presiding officer:The Rules could also provide that casual vacancies may be filled in by the Presiding Officers. Presiding officers should also be empowered to reconstitute the membership of their respective Houses in the committees.
- Members should not be forced to do double duty:once a member is nominated to a committee, based on his expertise and/or preference, he should be allowed to continue till he retires or discontinues the membership in order that the committee is able to benefit from his experience and expertise.
There is a need to rethink the tenurial prescription for reconstitution of Department-related Standing Committees and make it more effective.
3.The Independence of the Supreme Court
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 2- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Context- Some people have confused judicial independence with the tendency to strike down legislation or executive action.
What is the role of Judiciary?
- The Judiciary is the system of courts that interpret and applies law in legal cases in the name of the state.
- The function of the judiciary is to be accountable by dispensing justice.
- Judicial independence goes hand in hand with judicial accountability.
- Judicial independence is one of the basic features of the Constitution of India.
- It is the guardian and protector of our fundamental rights.
What are the recent examples which demonstrate how the Judiciary stood contrary to the Government?
In Indian Constitution there is feature of Separation of Powers among the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. So, that each of them may work without any interference from the outside. The following are the examples of judiciary independent verdicts that were not favourable to the government-
- Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
- Supreme Court lifted the ban from Goa mining sector.
- Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar, while affecting the then-nascent fintech industry.
- Supreme Court struck down the Reserve Bank of India’s framework resolution plan for debt recovery which was proposed to ease the pains related to stranded assets.
- The quashing of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) appointment.
- The quashing of spectrum allocation or striking down allocation of coal mines.
Thus, observing the rule of law and calling out illegality is not bias. These verdicts were not a political decision instead they were an act of calling out the loot of India’s resources.
How does the government intervene with the judiciary and violates separation of power?
Some politicians try to influence the independent feature of the judiciary in the name of “legitimate criticism. Such as-
- Issuing threats such as impeachment for deemed “misbehaviour”.
- Imputing motives to judges for their decisions.
- Referring to the judge’s caste.
- Saying that judiciary was subservient to the government.
- Toeing the party’s lines or agendas in the judiciary’s actions.
For Instances- The following are the prime examples of the government using judiciary for ulterior motives and creating doubt where none exists-
- Justice Loya case.
- Public Interest Litigation on Assam’s detention centres.
The Supreme Court is an independent organ of the state, not a political organ. The need of the time is that people should be able to distinguish between a narrative of distrust being peddled for personal and political gains from reality. It is the duty of the court to observe the rules and laws while giving the verdicts and under no circumstances appease the aspirations of political proxies or lawyers for their personal ambitions. The Court should rule out strict laws to deal with the attacks on its integrity and independence.
4.Economic trilemma- Capital inflows, High inflation and Currency appreciation
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context- Capital flows can bring numerous benefits to emerging markets, but they can also lead to macroeconomic imbalances.
What are the issues in front of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with respect to capital inflow?
- Macro-economic imbalances-
- Currency appreciation– A typical concern associated with capital inflows is that they lead to currency appreciation pressures— via inflation under fixed exchange rates, and via nominal appreciation under more flexible exchange rate regimes— resulting in overvalued exchange rates.
Such appreciation raises competitiveness concerns and even if temporary, could do lasting damage to the export sector through “hysteresis” effects.
- High inflationary-A common concern of emerging market policy makers is that large inflows lead to economic overheating, and result in positive output gaps and high inflation.
What are possible causes for capital inflows, currency instability and high inflation?
- A net outflow of foreign portfolio investment [FPI] due to the lockdown.
- The combination of weak economic growth, lackluster domestic demand and low oil prices has shifted the current account balance from deficit into surplus. Imports have fallen more than exports.
- Capital has also been flowing to India in the form of external commercial borrowing (ECB)by Indian corporations.
- Capital flow– Relaxation in the capital account and lack of intervention by the RBI in regulating foreign capital inflows are also the reasons. Mostly short-term in nature, these capital flows have played a major role in strengthening the rupee.
- Exchange rate appreciation will further damage the already hard-hit export sector.
- Perception– Positive growth prospects among major economies created expectations that the rupee would appreciate. This encouraged capital inflows, particularly into the equity market. This was with the expectation that any rupee appreciation would also result in a proportionate increase in return on investment.
- When the RBI buys dollars in the FX market, it sells rupees. This increases the domestic money supply and is therefore inflationary.
What are decisions taken by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to counter the COVID-19 impact on economy?
RBI opted following measure in order to provide relief for the ongoing pandemic in India-
- Reduced its policy interest rate to negative levels in real terms-
- By cutting the repo, reverse repo rate and reducing cash reserve ratio.
- RBI also undertakes Long Term Repo Operation and allowing further liquidity with the bank.
- Bought government securities to push down long-term interest rates-
- RBI buys long-term government securities and sells short-term bonds in order to lower the yields on the longer end of the maturity spectrum.
- Allowed large capital inflows, then intervened in the foreign exchange market to prevent the appreciation of the rupee.
However, these actions are incompatible and will eventually generate a serious policy dilemma.
The constraints of the trilemma have tightened. The government and the RBI should step in to correct the misalignment in the exchange rate and allow the rupee to depreciate to move towards its true value. Moreover, RBI needs to give up either on its exchange rate objective or its inflation objective.
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