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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 23, 2021

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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.

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NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill is against the spirit of Federalism.

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers.

Synopsis: The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 gives more powers to the Lieutenant governor(LG). Further, It is against the principle of representative democracy.

Evolution of The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) act 1991

  1. India follows Parliamentary democracy with a cabinet form of government. This is a basic structure of the Indian Constitution.
  2. When the Constitution came into force, there were four kinds of States. (Parts A, B, C and D States)
  3. The states under C and D were directly administered by centrally appointed Chief Commissioners and Lieutenant Governors. They don’t have any elected Assemblies. Delhi came under Part C.
  4. But in 1951, a Legislative Assembly was created with an elected Chief Minister for Delhi.
  5. However, issues of jurisdictions and functional autonomy between the Chief Minister and chief commissioner of Delhi was always present. This led to the resignation of the 1st chief minister in 1955.
  6. In 1956, following the States Reorganisation Act, only two categories(States and Union Territories) remained in the Indian Union.
  7. Delhi became a Union Territory. Also, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi was abolished. Then, Delhi was administered by an Administrator appointed by the President.
  8. In 1966, the Delhi Administration Act 1966 provided a limited representative Government in Delhi. But there were repeated political demands that demanded a full statehood to Delhi.
  9. To resolve this, the Balakrishnan Committee was set up in 1987. Consequently, the committee made the following recommendations
      • Delhi should continue to be a Union Territory.
      • But there must be a Legislative Assembly and Council of Ministers responsible with appropriate powers to ensure stability.
  10. Based on this report, the Constitution (69th) Amendment Act and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCT) Act, 1991 were passed.
  11. This act provided Delhi with a Legislative Assembly, a Council of Ministers and an elected Chief Minister.

Why Delhi is kept under the control of the Union Government?

  1. First, our Constitutional makers feared that Delhi will acquire a predominant position compared to other States if Delhi had statehood. So they included Delhi under Part C.
  2. Second, Delhi is the National capital. So Parliament decided to keep Delhi under Union Government on the basis of national interest.
  3. Third, to avoid federal disputes and provide for smooth administration in Delhi. For example, If full statehood is provided to Delhi, then two different political parties at the centre and Delhi will result in higher conflicts than the present ones.

Salient provisions of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill:

The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill has few significant provisions. They are,

  1. The bill reduces the power of representative government. It provides enormous powers to the Lieutenant governor (directly appointed by the centre).
  2. It makes the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor mandatory for taking any executive action.

Challenges with the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill:

  1. The Bill is against federalism (basic structure of the constitution). It gives more powers to the centre.
  2. The bill is against the provisions of representative democracy. It limits the power of the people. On the other hand, it gives more powers to the directly appointed administrators.
  3. The Bill aims to hand over the accountability of Delhi to an unelected, centrally appointed government functionary.
  4. The bill also violated the directions given by the Supreme Court. The SC provided a balanced approach. It mentions the LG has to ‘aid and advice’ the matters on which the Delhi Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists.

The government must reconsider the NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill as per the advice of the Supreme Court.


Concerns with the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis:

The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has few important concerns. But the move is a welcome step to the Insurance sector.

Introduction:

The Lok Sabha has passed the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill had earlier been cleared by the Rajya Sabha also. Now it only requires the presidential assent to become a law.

About the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021:

  1. The Bill amends the Insurance Act,1938. The Bill seeks to increase the maximum foreign investment allowed in an Indian insurance company from 49% to 74%.
  2. However, such foreign investment may be subject to additional conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government. The conditions include,
    • The majority of directors on the Board and key management persons in health and general insurance companies has to be resident Indians.
    • At least 50% of directors of the Insurance companies have to be independent directors.
  3. The bill also removes restrictions on ownership and control.

Click Here to Read more about the Insurance (Amendment) Bill

Concerns with the Insurance (Amendment) Bill:

There are certain key concerns raised by the critics of the bill. These include,

  1. The present actual share of FDI in the insurance sector is less than the current limit of 49%. Further, the present target was aimed to achieve within 5 years. But that is not achieved so far. Hence, there is no justification for increasing the limit to 74%.
  2. Infusion of market funds in the insurance sector is not viable. The critics mention the time when financial institutions like DHFL, Yes Bank have collapsed, infusing market funds might lead to the collapse of insurance institutions also.
  3. The Bill does not have a provision to prevent financially weak foreign companies from entering into the Indian insurance sector.
  4. Many Indian insurance companies are already in Joint Venture with foreign companies. Hence, the Government’s claim that foreign investment is needed for bringing newer technology to the country is not substantiated.

Government’s response to the concerns:

  1. The bill is aimed at solving some long-term capital availability issues in the insurance sector.
  2. The banking and insurance industry fall under the strategic sectors according to the government’s strategic disinvestment policy. The 74% cap is just a limit posed on the FDI. Hence, there should be no apprehension on privatization.
  3. The bill will increase competition in the insurance sector. This will in turn facilitate affordable schemes for middle-class people.
  4. Half of the market share of the Indian insurance sector is already held by private companies. The public sector insurance market share is merely 38.78%. On the other hand, the private sector enjoys 48.03% of the market share. So the increase in FDI is essential to improve the insurance penetration further.

The Insurance (Amendment) Bill might facilitate insurance penetration among middle-class Indians. But the adequate safety mechanisms have to put in place to check the insurance companies.


Speculation about the disengagement agreement is baseless

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs-2 India and its Neighbourhood- Relations.

Synopsis: The allegations against India’s disengagement agreement at Pangong Tso is baseless. Rather, we need to appreciate the efforts of India’s negotiators for ensuring a successful border disengagement

Introduction:

After the India-China disengagement agreement both agree to withdraw from the Pangong Lake area. The disengagement agreement ended the nine-month-long military stand-off between both countries. But, there are few speculations over the gain and loss for India.

What are the speculations against the disengagement agreement?

There are many speculations around the India-China disengagement agreement. They are,

  1. Mutual withdrawal amounts to the creation of a buffer zone on Indian territory. It is perceived as a loss of Indian territory.
  2. The withdrawal amounts to the surrender of Indian territory. Especially the Finger 4 Region in Pangong Tso.
  3. Some questioned the rationality of withdrawing from the Kailash range on the South Bank of Pangong Tso. India had an advantageous position there while signing the disengagement agreement.
  4. There was also criticism over the inadequate budgetary allocation for the defence sector.
  5. There was also speculation about the lack of priority towards national security. The persons who support this mentions India’s “two-front situation”.

Why these allegations are baseless?

  1. India has accorded top priority to national security by increasing Military modernization, indigenization and defence exports. For example,
    • Building of strategic Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DSDBO) Road, Atal Rohtang Tunnel, etc.
    • India implemented the defence reforms recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee. The implementation includes,
      • The creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA),
      • The appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff,
      • Ongoing efforts to build integrated Theatre Commands.
  2. There is also a false assumption like patrolling by both sides will result in a buffer zone prevailing entirely in India. This is incorrect. India has neither accepted the unilateral definition of China’s so-called Line of Actual Control (LAC) of 1959 nor its subsequent amendments.
    • India still accepts the modified “Colombo Conference Proposals” mooted by six non-aligned countries after the 1962 war,
    • Further, India still conceives the whole of Aksai Chin as an integral part of India’s territory.
  3. The allegations that India has surrendered some parts of Indian territory is not correct. India has not surrendered any land in Galwan, Pangong Tso or Depsang since the border crisis broke out.
    • More importantly, the disengagement agreement resulted in ceasing the Chinese patrolling areas between Fingers 4 and 8 for the first time in several decades.
    • Also, China agreed to relocate its forces to the east of Finger 8. Thus, it is pulling back from its claimed “customary boundary line”.
    • This is in line with India’s consistent demand to restore the status quo ante. Further, It has provided an advantage to India on the South Bank.
  4. Questioning the rationality of withdrawing from the Kailash range on the South Bank of Pangong is illogical. Because, if India’s objective is to achieve status quo ante, India too would logically be required to revert to its pre-April 2020 status.

So the Disengagement agreement at Pangong Tso was a significant step. This agreement will act as a basis for resolving the remaining issues along the LAC.

Our military and External Affairs Ministry negotiators need to be appreciated for their efforts. Bilateral differences are best negotiated from a position of strength as has been done at Pangong.


Shortcomings of the ‘In House inquiry Procedure’

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary

Synopsis: The shortcomings of the ‘in house inquiry procedure’ of the Supreme Court has again come to the limelight. This time over the appointment of the future CJI itself. The upcoming CJI is facing serious allegations of misconduct, but there is no clarity of ‘In House inquiry Procedure’ in the concerned matter.

Background:

  1. The upcoming CJI will assume office as the 48th CJI (Chief Justice of India) on 24th April 2021. 
  2. This would make him master of the roster and give him the power to constitute benches in every case of the Supreme court. This includes the creation of inquiry committees for the In House inquiry Procedure also. 
  3. Thus allowing him to constitute a bench in his own case as well. This will give rise to the development of bias and undermine judicial impartiality.

What are the allegations? 

  1. The current CM of Andhra Pradesh has accused the upcoming CJI and one other Judge of abusing their judicial position. The CM also wrote a letter to the present CJI in this regard in October 2020.
  2. The allegation related to the creation of favourable benches to support the opposition party in Andhra Pradesh.
  3. In 2017 as well, a senior Supreme Court judge had addressed the upcoming CJI in the same issue. He also wrote a letter to the then CJI.
  4. Nonetheless, the issue has certainly highlighted the shortcomings of the In House inquiry procedure of the Supreme Court.

In House inquiry Procedure:

  • It was formulated by the higher judiciary in 1997. It helps in determining whether a judge has acted against accepted values of judicial life or not.
  • Under this, a compliant of misconduct may be filed by any person to CJI or the President of India.
  • The CJI will then examine the complaint, he/she may constitute a 3 member committee for inquiry or dispose of the complaint as per his discretion.

Shortcomings of the ‘In House inquiry Procedure’:

  1. There are no timelines for the completion of the inquiry. So the inquiry time is getting unnecessary delays.
  2. The procedure gives wide discretionary powers to CJI. This can breed favouritism in Judiciary. 
  3. Further, the procedure doesn’t forbid the CJI from being part of his/her own complaint of misconduct. Thereby undermining the principle of natural justice.
  4. There is no need to disclose the report of the inquiry into the public domain or to the complainant. This is against transparency in the Judiciary.

Suggestions to improve the In House inquiry procedure:

  1. As the issue revolves around high constitutional offices, the allegations deserve a thorough, expeditious and transparent inquiry.
  2. Post inquiry a remedial measure should be taken like:
    • Inducing the concerned judges to resign if he is guilty of misconduct. Further initiation of removal proceedings can also be started if judges don’t honour the resignation request.
  3. Citizens should be informed regarding the inquiry committees outcomes. This would strengthen trust in the functioning of the judiciary. 

The Bar Council of India has failed to demand greater transparency in the inquiry process. Now, the masses are the last hope to reform the self-serving and non-transparent judicial setup.


Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 23, 2021

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