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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 25, 2021

Good evening dear reader

Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

About Factly- The Factly initiative covers all the daily news articles regarding Preliminary examination. This will be provided at the end of the 9 PM Brief.

Dear Aspirants,

We know for a fact that learning without evaluation is a wasted effort. Therefore, we request you to please go through both our initiatives i.e 9PM Briefs and Factly, then evaluate yourself through the 10PM Current Affairs Quiz.

We plan to integrate all our free daily initiatives to comprehensively support your success journey.
Happy Learning!

 

President’s rule in Puducherry: Issue in constitutional and legal provisions for Union Territories

Source: The Hindu

Synopsis: President’s Rule has been imposed in Puducherry after all parties failed to make government. Legal and constitutional provisions related to UTs contribute to the destabilization of government there.

Background

  • President rule has been imposed recently in Puducherry after the Narayanasamy government lost majority support in the assembly.
  • This incident is not new. It is very common especially when Union Territories with assemblies and Central government are ruled by different parties.
  • Present constitutional and legal provisions for Union territories facilitate this destabilization.

How the present constitutional set up makes it easier to destabilize Union Territories

Constitution of India under article 239A provides for Legislature and Council of Ministers in Union territories. The intent behind this move was to fulfill the democratic aspirations of the people of these UTs. In other words, the rule of the President under article 239 through administrator is not in line with democratic needs.

However, certain provisions are working as hurdles in achieving the real intent behind these provisions.

  1. First, Article 239A provides that a local Legislatures or Council of Ministers (CoM) or both can be created for Union territory. It means there can be a Council of Ministers without a legislature or with it or vice versa.
    • In our constitutional scheme, either CoM or legislatures can work alone. The legislature is a law-making body and CoM proposes these laws.
  2. Second, constitutional provisions provide that legislature to be a partly elected and partly nominated body. Center through a simple amendment can create a legislature with more than 50% nominated members.
    1. In the case of Puducherry, the Center can nominate 3 members to 33 members in the Puducherry Assembly. Thus, the Centre nominated 3 members of its party to the assembly. This move was challenged in SC. However, SC ruled that the Centre is not required to consult the State government for nomination and nominated members have the same right to vote as regular members.
    2. Rajya Sabha also has nominated members, but, under clause (3) of Article 80, some qualifications are mentioned for such nominations. It ensures enrichment of quality of debates.
    3. However, it is not the case with Puducherry assembly. No qualifications are mentioned for nominations.
  3. Third, Lieutenant Governor in the UTs restricts the autonomy granted to UTs. Center can interfere in every decision of the Council of Ministers through LG and President.
    1. Article 239 AA(4) and section of UTs act vests the power in the administrator. He or she can express disagreement with any policy matter and refer the matter to the President. Then, he or she can take all actions he or she deems fit in the matter.
    2. In Puducherry too, conflicts between the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister were perennial.

Thus, past experience proves that the UTs with legislatures have ultimate control vested in the central administrator. It is not workable.


Issue of Bail under anti-terrorism cases

Source: The Hindu

Synopsis: Bombay HC granted bail in UAPA case on health grounds. It will set a new example of upholding the individual’s right in anti-terrorism cases.

Background

  • Bombay High Court granted bail to poet Varavara Rao on medical grounds. He was jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for the Bhima Koregaon case.
  • Recently, Varavara Rao was admitted to the Nanavati Hospital after his condition deteriorated due to some ailments.
  • NIA was of the opinion that there is a statutory bar under Section 43D (5) of the UAPA on providing bail if the accusation against a person is prima facie true. Also when the accused has access to treatment in a government hospital. Bail on the health grounds will attract a flood of such petitions.
  • However, HC ruled that even provisions of anti-terrorism law cannot curb the right to life under Article 21.

Grounds for Bail in Anti-terrorism cases

  1. Supreme Court ruling in 2019 made it nearly impossible to grant bails in the cases of UAPA. It is possible only in the case when one could prove charges against him to be prima facie untrue.
  2. However, recently, SC held that prolonged imprisonment without any near possibility of completion of the trial is a ground for bail.
  3. In this case, too, HC observed the same situations before granting the bail. It was observed that there was no possibility of early completion of the trial. Moreover, charges are yet to be framed.

This HC judgment will set a new precedent of valuing human Rights over National Security Laws.


Issue of adultery in Civil Services and Army

Source: The Hindu

Synopsis: SC decriminalized the act of adultery in the Joseph Shine vs Union of India case. However, it is still not clear whether adultery is the right ground for departmental enquiries against Civil Servants or Army officials.

Background

  • Members of All India Services (AIS) are governed by a moral code of conduct. It requires them to “maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty” and do “nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the service”.
  • Similarly, the Army Act also contains penal provisions for displaying “unbecoming conduct” or “disgraceful conduct”.
  • However, the terms “unbecoming conduct” or “unbecoming of a member of a service” are not defined anywhere. It leaves the scope for employers or disciplinary authorities to define them as per their own understanding.
  • It is the reason that there is doubt whether illicit or adulterous relations are covered under these definitions or not.
  • This issue has become more prominent after SC decriminalised adultery in the Joseph Shine vs Union of India case. The Centre has filed an application for clarification with the SC that whether this judgment applies to armed forces or not.
  • The matter has been referred to the constitutional bench. However, Justice Nariman made an observation while issuing the notice. He observed that even if the law is scrapped, the act of adultery will still be an ‘unbecoming conduct’.

Earlier High Court judgment on adultery and misconduct

  1. The above observation of Justice Nariman is in contrast to earlier High Court judgments.
  2. Calcutta High Court in Rabindra Nath Ghosh in a case of adultery held that the head constable who was living with another woman is not guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties.
  3. Allahabad HC in In State of U.P. vs BN Singh (1989) held that the act of adultery by a government servant cannot be covered by default within the definition of ‘personal immorality’. For that, there should be a relation between the act of adultery and the reduction of his utility as a public servant.
  4. Rajasthan High Court in Mahesh Chand Sharma vs State of Rajasthan (2019) held that “no employer can be allowed to do moral policing on its employees which go beyond the domain of his public life”.

Various HC has declared that adultery is not a sufficient ground to initiate departmental proceeding if it is not interfering with official functions.  Whereas Justice Nariman has provided a different interpretation. Thus it becomes utmost important to define the terms like “misconduct” and “immoral act”.


PM Modi’s acknowledgement of role of private sector

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3 -Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

Synopsis: Future growth in India should be led by the private sector. The government should encourage the private sector as a central part of its strategy.

Introduction

Recently the Prime Minister acknowledged the role of the private sector. Now it is up to the private sector to grow their business, pursue excellence, follow the law of the land and pay taxes.

Why the role of the private sector is critical in India?

  • India has limited capital and the private sector is the best provider of capital in the economy. The private sector will deliver the most benefit in terms of growth or return on capital employed.
  • Private sector focus on wealth creation. The PM also praised the wealth creators with a logic that if you can’t create wealth, you won’t be able to distribute it. The creation of wealth is essential for growth, employment and the reduction of poverty.
  • India’s successes in many fields linked to the private sectors. Sectors such as banks, airlines, insurance, telecom, IT services, IT-enabled services etc were created a huge growth after they have been open up to private players.

What can be expected from PM speech?

The Prime Minister’s speech has raised the expectations that more positive reform for the private sector is around the corner.

  • First, the government can now bring in policy and future economic reforms in India as it has recognised the private sector’s role in parliament.
  • Second, India has been making worthy steps in the Ease of Doing Business. It is easier now to start a business in India than it was a decade ago. A government  willing to listen gives a good head start to solving those problems.
  • Third, the success of the Mudra Yojana and Start-up India has proven the new wave of innovation and enterprise in young India. India is now willing to look at other sectors such as space, defence, aeronautics etc.
  • Fourth, Private involvement in the India stack (Stack is a combination of technological projects that comprises all the technologies required to operate for any particular sector) has revolutionised the fintech sector. Now the digital health stack will likely to do the same for the health tech sector.

Suggestions:

  • The private sector should now follow the law of the land and pay taxes. They should also become good corporate citizens of India or else the mistrust of the private sector might affect the sector.
  • The upcoming entrepreneurs will be the strong foundations of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The recent Union Budget has made it clear that the government will pursue economic reform and go for growth.

Strengthening decentralisation for improving human capital

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2 – issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers

Synopsis: The poor performance of India in human capital indicators can be improved if the 3 tier decentralized structure of governance gets strengthened. 

Background:

  • India has secured a poor 116 rank in the World Bank’s human capital index. Further, the data of the National Family Health Survey – 5 for 2019-20 highlights the poor performance in the domain of malnutrition.
  • Similarly, issues in learning outcomes are highlighted by the National Achievement Survey 2017 and the Annual Status of Education Report 2018.
  • Moreover, these statistics are expected to further worsen due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, the focus should be on enhancing the investment in human capital. This would require better decentralisation among 3 tiers – Centre, States and Local Bodies.  

Why should there be a focus on a decentralised approach?

  • First, the government has launched various programs like Poshan Abhiyan and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. But they have failed to deliver optimum results.
  • Second, international studies show there is a positive correlation between decentralisation and human capital formation.
  • Third, India spends only 4% of its GDP on human capital which is very less in comparison to its peers. This means these minimum funds should be spent in the most optimum way. It is possible with decentralisation.

What are the existing mechanisms for decentralization in India?

  • The Constitution allows the Centre to support States in their fiscal domain. This can be done through tax devolution and grants in aid. In addition, the Centre can make ‘grants for any public purpose’ under Article 282 of the Constitution.
  • Education was moved from the state list to the concurrent list by the 42nd amendment in 1976. It ensured better coordination between Centre and States.
  • The enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendment gave constitutional status to municipalities and panchayats as the 3rd tier of government. Further various domains like education, health and sanitation are given to them under the 11th and 12th schedule.
  • The 14th Finance commission (FC) called for distributing 42% of Centre’s taxes among States, an increase from earlier 32%. This was effectively retained by 15th FC as well.

Challenges to decentralisation:

  • First, significant fiscal support by Centre to States is in the form of grants-in-aid and centrally sponsored schemes (CSS). As per SC ruling in Bhim Singh vs Union of India, these routes are for special, temporary or ad hoc schemes under Article 282. 
  • Second, States have been reluctant to transfer their power to local bodies under the 11th and 12th schedule.
  • Third, the municipalities and local bodies are not fiscally empowered. This can be seen by low property tax collection which is under 0.2% of GDP, compared to 3% of GDP in some other nations. 
  • Fourth, even state finance commissions (SFCs) are not constituted on time by respective states for recommending tax devolution and grants-in-aid to the third tier.

Way Forward:

  • The Centre must use the route under Article 282 in a cautious way as it is listed as a ‘Miscellaneous Financial Provision. It should give maximum fiscal support using Articles 270 and 275, which fall under ‘Distribution of Revenues between the Union and the State.
  • The Centre should also encourage knowledge sharing between the States which would help them in improving their fiscal potential.
  • The 15th FC’s recommendation should be duly implemented. It recommended giving no grants to any State after March 2024 if it doesn’t constitute SFCs. 
  • The 3rd tier of government should be vested with all the functions mentioned under the 11th and 12th schedule.

Thus, the need is to leverage the true potential of our multi-level federal system that would help in developing human capital.


Flaws in Corruption Perception Index

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Synopsis– Corruption Perception Index as a measure of corruption cannot be used as a base for policymaking.

Introduction-

  • Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an index published annually by Transparency International [TI] since 1995.
  • The index ranks countries by their perceived levels of corruption as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
  • India’s ranking– 86th with an overall rating of 40.
  • Experts argue that there are shortcomings in CPI as it fails to highlight the key issues.

What are the major flaws in CPI?

  1. CPI lacks representativeness– TI uses only expert reviews and surveys of business owners. It does not use public polling.
      • The index has been under criticism for substantial bias from the powerful elite.
      • It ignores the perception of the poor.
  2. The index is not able to distinguish between a bribe and a customary act. For example– Global businesspersons may consider Diwali gifts as corruption  which are customary for locals.
  3. Not all countries are part of the index- It requires 3 surveys per country. As a result, it is not possible to have many countries in CPI.
      • For example- In 2003, only 133 countries were ranked by the CPI.
      • Makes the ranking order irrelevant– A country’s rank can also change because new countries enter the index and other drops out.
  4. Changing methodology– Data cannot be compared from year to year as TI uses different methodologies and samples every year. This makes it difficult to evaluate the performance of the country.
  5. Perception rating depends on media coverage- Anti-corruption drive in a country has often translated into declines in that country’s CPI score in the following year. For example- In 2011, the year of the massive anti-corruption movement, India’s CPI rating declined. While Countries that suppress a free press may escape with this.

Conclusion-

CPI is a flawed instrument of corruption measurement, capable of only measuring ambiguous corruption proxies. CPI would be meaningful if used alongside other indices such as the Global Corruption Barometer, Press Freedom Index, and Rule of Law Index.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 25, 2021

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