9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 5, 2021

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Government’s Apathy towards Migrant communities

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Synopsis: The government is not showing any Apathy towards Migrant communities to address the challenges faced by them. It is despite their increased vulnerability to the shocks in the economy.


  • The second wave of the Pandemic has once again led to the enforcement of Strict to moderate lockdowns in states.
  • This has resulted in a loss of jobs for Informal workers employed in many industries. Majority of the migrants work in the informal sector.
  • Despite their increased vulnerability in the informal sector, government efforts to support them through policymaking have been inadequate.

About Migrants

  • Migrants are ‘mobile by default’, They are a product of growing rural distress and inadequate official policies failing to support the ailing rural economy.
  • They benefit the urban economy by providing cheap labor to manufacturing units and cheap services to households.

What are the challenges faced by the migrant population?

  • Unemployment in urban areas due to Pandemic induced Economic distress.
  • Lack of access to accommodation.
  • A lack of sustainable income and savings to ensure food due to near insolvency.
  • Reverse migration by paying exorbitant costs for travel.
  • Falling victim to COVID-19.
  • Lack of livelihood opportunities in their hometowns in the rural economies.
  • Lack of new job opportunities, due to shrinking National Rural Employment Guarantee Act allotments by the government.
  • Lastly, Lack of legal status as a working population.

What needs to be done?

The recent official announcement of a free ration of 5 kg cereals to 80 crore families is the only benefit visible so far. However, it is not sufficient;

  • Government should strive to calculate the official estimate of migrant workers, either incoming or reverse. This will help in objective policy planning.
  • Need to alleviate rural distress by providing support to the ailing agriculture economy.
  • There is a need to provide some short-term relief for migrant workers and their families to support their livelihood during the Pandemic.
  • Migrant workers should be provided with legal backing.
  • Modifications  in the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 are required to strengthen the health and safety conditions of workers in establishments

Impact of the Pandemic on India’s foreign Policy

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Synopsis: The consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic second wave have far-reaching strategic implications on India’s Foreign policy.

What are the likely impacts on India’s foreign policy?

  • First, India’s Supremacy at the regional level (in South Asia) will decline in the future.
    • India’s traditional primacy in the region was built on a mix of material aid, political influence, and historical ties.
    • The Pandemic has reduced India’s ability to materially help its immediate neighborhood for development assistance and political autonomy.
    • As a result, South Asian states are likely to shift towards China for financial support.
  • Second, India’s geopolitical ambitions to become a leading power will be impacted.
    • The pandemic could adversely impact India’s ability to contribute to the Indo-Pacific and the Quad
    • For instance, COVID-19 will prevent any ambitious military spending or modernization plan.
    • It further limits the country’s attention on global diplomacy and regional geopolitics.
    • With reduced military spending and lesser diplomatic attention to regional geopolitics, India’s ability to project power and contribute to the growth of the Quad will be uncertain.
    • India’s inability to take a lead role and China attracting smaller states away from the Indo-Pacific with aid and threats can change the balance of power in favor of China.
  • Third, the shift in focus on domestic politics in the coming years by the ruling government will reduce India’s willingness for new foreign policy innovation or initiatives.
    • For instance, Economic distress, a fall in foreign direct investment and industrial production, and a rise in unemployment will compel the center to focus on COVID-19 recovery. This will limit India’s strategic ambitions in global space.
  • Fourth, India might become more appeasing towards China. The mismanagement of the second wave has limited India’s ability to stand up against China.
  • Fifth, India’s foreign policy may also become more accommodative, reconciliatory, and cooperative in the neighborhood. (SAARC nations).
    • The Pandemic has forced India to reimagine, the friend-enemy equations in global geopolitics. While the US was hesitant to assist India during the pandemic Pakistan and China offered aid to India.
  • Sixth, India’s freedom to pursue Strategic autonomy might be reduced. For instance, a post-COVID-19 India might find it harder to resist demands of a closer military relationship with the U.S.
  • Seventh, as every crisis opens up the possibility for change, one good outcome will be the opening up of new regional opportunities for cooperation under the SAARC framework.
    • SAARC nations should collectively focus on ‘regional health multilateralism’ to promote mutual assistance and joint action on health emergencies.
    • Further, geopolitics should be brought in par with health diplomacy, environmental concerns, and regional connectivity in South Asia.

West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA) is Unconstitutional: SC

Source: The Times of India

Syllabus: GS-2: Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions.

Synopsis: The court struck down the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017 as unconstitutional. The court also clarified that the legislations by the Parliament and state government are on the concurrent list.


The central government enacted the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act to regulate the Real Estate sector in India. West Bengal government also enacted a parallel Act known as the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017. Recently the Supreme Court held the West Bengal legislation Unconstitutional.

Background of both legislations:

Contracts and the transfer of property falls under the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule.

  • In 1993 West Bengal government has enacted the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act on the above two subjects.
  • But, to bring transparency and safety in the market for consumers of residential and commercial projects the Central government enacted RERA in 2016. With the enactment of RERA, the 1993 Act was repealed.
  • In the same year, West Bengal notified the draft Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2016.
  • Instead of finalizing the rules the state government went ahead and enacted West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) in 2017.
  • Forum for Peoples Collective Efforts filed a case against the State of West Bengal regarding the WB HIRA

Recent Supreme Court Judgement on West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act:

The Supreme Court held in Forum for Peoples Collective Efforts v. State of West Bengal case held that the WB HIRA was unconstitutional. Further, the court also mentioned the following things.

  • Both the statutes refer to the same subjects (contracts and the transfer of property) in the concurrent list.
  • Article 254 (2) allows for a conflicting State law on a concurrent list subject to prevail over a central law if it receives the assent of the President. But the WB HIRA neither reserved for the consideration of the President nor the Presidential assent was obtained.
  • The court also held that If any areas have been left out in the central legislation, the state legislatures can provide cognate(related) legislation. Such State legislation can incidentally deal with the provisions of Central legislation. But, The HIRA encroaches upon the authority of the Parliament.
  • But in the case of clause-by-clause comparison between the two laws, the court observed that 95 to 98%, the WB HIRA is a complete copy-paste of the RERA. This is an attempt to establish a parallel regime by the State government.
  • Furthermore, the court also observed that in a few critical aspects, WB HIRA is in direct conflict with RERA.
  • The court also observed that there was a “doctrine of repugnancy” between WB-HIRA and RERA. (Repugnancy –  inconsistency or contradiction between two or more parts of a legal instrument.) Such as,
    1. WB HIRA has failed to incorporate valuable institutional safeguards
    2. The WB HIRA does not have provisions intended to protect the interest of homebuyers
    3. The court observed these repugnancies of the state legislature as against the public interest.
  • The court also elaborated on the tests of repugnancy. The three tests of Repugnancy as stated by the court are
    1. Where the provision of State legislation is directly in conflict with a law enacted by Parliament. In such cases, compliance with one is impossible along with obedience to the other.
    2. The second test of repugnancy is based on the intent of Parliament to occupy the whole field(contracts and the transfer of property) covered by the legislation.
    3.  The subject of the legislation enacted by the State is identical to Parliament, then does the State law enacted prior or later to the central law.
  • Since the State law is completely repugnant to the Central law, it was constitutionally impermissible


The court based on the above explanations struck down the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WB HIRA), 2017, as unconstitutional. Further, the court also held that striking down the present law will not result in the revival of the 1993 WB HIRA. This is because the 1993 Act was repealed after the enactment of RERA.

The Court also clarified that the striking down of WBHIRA will not affect the sanctions permissions granted prior to the delivery of the judgement.

The Case of EC’s Demand for Restriction on Media

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 2

Synopsis: The Election Commission had asked the court to not let the media cover its verbal hearing. It should withdraw its request to recover some of its moral high ground.


The Election Commission of India is a constitutional body that draws its mandate to conduct free and fair elections from Article 324. It has built a desirable reputation for impartiality and public trust. However, the EC has appeared too weak to political pressures amid a pandemic.

  • The election commission approached the Supreme Court against the sharply critical observations by the Madras High Court about its management of elections. 
  • The HC said that possibly EC should face murder charges. EC complained in the apex court by stating that these comments are blatantly critical and derogatory. It further suggested that a line should be drawn so that such remarks are not reported by the media. 
    • The complaint shows disregard for an open and democratic public sphere.
  • The Supreme Court in its response rightly said that it is essential for constitutional bodies to take criticism from other constitutional bodies in the right spirit.
    •  The people have a right to be informed. The media has a duty to cover the unfolding of debate in the court of law not just its final verdict.

Where did the election commission go wrong?

The EC should take a moment to pause and do an honest introspection. It has invited serious questions from the start of the poll exercise.

  • Firstly, the eight-phase schedule for the West Bengal polls was overstretched especially during a pandemic. The EC ignored requests by opposition parties to shorten the election duration by clubbing together the last few phases.
  • Moreover, the segregation of phases and geographies seemed to favor a specific political party. 
  • Secondly, the EC made only casual attempts to make sure that COVID protocols were followed by candidates and parties. The COVID curve rose up in West Bengal and the rest of India. 
    • India crossed daily cases of 1 lakh on April 4. The daily cases to over 3 lakhs by registering 3,32,730 on April 22. 
  • Thirdly, the EC only banned roadshows and public meetings of over 500 after the Prime Minister’s announcement of the cancellation of his election meetings scheduled for the next day. 

What should the election commission do?

  • The EC had gained the trust of people over the years. It should focus on maintaining it. This will require constant awareness and work. The EC must know that the impression is growing of late that it has let itself go. 
    • The EC needs to act to regain and restore its hard-earned credibility. It should begin by withdrawing its self-indulgent and ill-conceived petition from the Supreme Court.
  • In a time when a stout executive does not hesitate to weaponize its mandate, the independence of monitorial institutions is especially precious and needed. 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 5 May, 2021

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