TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. SC questions passage of Aadhaar Act as Money Bill 3. Collegium puts off decision on pressing Joseph’s case INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Maintain peace along China border, Army HQ tells troops C. GS3 Related ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT 1. Pollution dipped in 2017, says Environment Ministry ECONOMY 1. Policy for domestic workers ready 2. Govt. approves sugarcane subsidy of ₹5.5 per quintal 3. Telecom revival key to $100 bn goal D. GS4 Related E. Editorials HEALTH 1. An unhealthy statement INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. The Wuhan window F. Prelims Fact G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
- Countering the Centre’s argument that the sole intent of the Aadhaar Act is to act as a weapon for delivering subsidies to targeted beneficiaries, the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra pointed to Section 57 of the Act.
- This provision contemplates the use of Aadhaar card as an identification document not only by the government but also by any body corporate or person.
- Venugopal submitted that the Act’s Preamble itself encapsulates its objective as a legislative “tool” to provide “good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.” The expenditure for these welfare activities would be drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India.
Below poverty line
- Venugopal said the Act might have several “ancillary provisions,” but taken in its entirety the Aadhaar Act comes within the ambit of the definition of Money Bill under Article 110 of the Constitution.
- The AG countered that the Act contemplates the plight of 300 million people in the country living below the poverty line. “Money has to come necessarily from the Consolidated Fund of India to cover the expenditure of the delivery of targeted subsidies. Not a single provision in the Act is unnecessary or unrelated to the main purpose/pith and substance of the Act, which is giving subsidies,” Mr. Venugopal argued.
- The AG was countering arguments raised in a petition by Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh that the Aadhaar Act of 2016 was passed as a Money Bill to “by-pass the scrutiny of the Rajya Sabha.”
- Ramesh, represented by senior advocate P. Chidambaram, had earlier argued that a Bill is declared as a Money Bill only in six specific circumstances or matters incidental to them as enumerated in Article 110. The Aadhaar law does not relate to any of these circumstances.
- The petition had termed the passage of the Aadhaar law a “constitutional fraud.” On March 11, the Aadhaar Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha after the Speaker ruled it as a ‘Money Bill’. It was then transmitted to the Rajya Sabha. The Upper House had on March 16 returned the Bill with five amendments moved by Mr. Ramesh.
- The five-judge collegium led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Wednesday deferred its decision on the government’s objections to the elevation of Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court K.M. Joseph to the Supreme Court.
- The collegium, which met briefly in the evening, parted on an inconclusive note. It has not recorded a date for its next meeting. However, one may be scheduled next week for discussing in detail “all issues” on the agenda.
Ravi Shankar clarifies
- Later in the evening, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government’s objection to Justice Joseph had nothing to do with the judgment he authored in 2016 quashing President’s rule in Uttarakhand and restoring the Congress government in the State.
- The collegium’s agenda on Wednesday was “to reconsider the case of Mr. Justice K.M. Joseph, Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court, pursuant to letters dated 26th & 30th April, 2018, received from Ministry of Law & Justice” and to “consider the names of judges from Calcutta, Rajasthan, and Telangana & Andhra Pradesh High Courts for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court, in view of the concept of fair representation.”
- The collegium has not zeroed in on any High Court judges whose parents are the three.
- The next meeting would also consider whether Justice Joseph’s name, after reiteration, should be first sent back separately or in a batch along with the other recommendations from the three High Courts under consideration.
- The source said judges of the Supreme Court have taken strong exception to the government “circulating” to the media its confidential letter on Justice Joseph and breaching protocol.
- If the collegium reiterates its recommendation of Justice Joseph, it would be binding on the government.The collegium, also comprising Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had unanimously recommended Justice Joseph in a resolution on January 11.
- The government had recently cleared Indu Malhotra’s name while returning Justice Joseph’s file for re-consideration, though both names were sent together.
- The Army headquarters has issued fresh instructions to field formations along the China border to preserve peace while maintaining the sanctity of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries.
- A senior officer said the instructions, issued in the wake of the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, have explicitly directed that there should not be any aggressive behaviour at young officer level. It has also instructed the field formations that all their conduct should be within the protocol laid out in 2005.
- According to the protocol signed between the two sides on “Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas on April 11, 2005, there is a set conduct prescribed to ensure peace and tranquillity.
- The protocol says if border personnel come to a face-to-face situation because of differences over the alignment of LAC they shall exercise self-restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid an escalation of the situation.
- As result of violations of the protocol there have been fisticuffs, stone throwing and other such rowdy behaviour along the border in recent years, threatening the long-held peace along the 4,056 km border.
- According to Army sources, field formations have also been instructed that they “should not” contribute to any unnecessary events along the border.”
- Meanwhile, sources said National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat met on Wednesday to review steps to be undertaken in the wake of the Wuhan summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi during which the two leaders agreed to issue “strategic guidance to their respective militaries” to improve the situation along the border.
- The post-Wuhan initiatives to improve the situation was also visible on Tuesday, when to mark the Labour Day, a Special Border Personnel meeting was held at the Chusul-Moldo point on the Chinese side.
- An Army officer said troops and families of both armies were part of the celebrations which were conducted in “an atmosphere of bonhomie and friendship.”
- The officer said such meetings “indicate the upward trend of relations between the two nations and building of trust between the two armies deployed on the border.”
C. GS3 Related
- Responding to the air pollution data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday, the government claimed that various measures have led to pollution levels actually falling in 2017.
- At 143 microgrammes per cubic metre, Delhi’s PM (2.5) levels in 2016 — as reported by the WHO — made it the sixth most polluted city in the world. The government, citing Central Pollution Control Board data, said it was 134 microgrammes per cubic metre in 2016 and 125 microgrammes per cubic metre in 2017.
- The CPCB data, based on Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS), also noted that PM (10) figures were 289 microgrammes per cubic metre in the year 2016 and 268 microgrammes per cubic metre in the year 2017.
- The WHO had cited numbers from the CPCB, along with other peer-reviewed sources, to assess pollution levels in Delhi in 2016.
- WHO’s global urban air pollution database measured the levels of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from more than 4,300 cities in 108 countries, according to which ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
- Kanpur and Varanasi led the list of the world’s most polluted cities, with Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurugram, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur also figuring in the 20 most-polluted cities in the world.
The draft national policy for domestic workers, likely to be announced this month, will leave it to States to set up boards to register workers, to bring them into the social security net and to notify minimum wages and work timings, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
- Domestic worker unions and NGOs, who have been demanding a Central legislation, providing for inter-State registrations of domestic workers, with Centrally-set norms for wages, working hours and social security benefits, expressed disappointment at the draft.
- There is no Central board being proposed. The boards of registration could be set up at State, district, or even residents’ welfare association level. These boards would administer social security benefits for workers, including Provident Fund contribution by employers and medical insurance.
Nod in two weeks
- The official said the draft policy would make recommendations on working hours, leave norms and wages, but would leave it to States to notify them in accordance with their legislations.
- The States should also set up mechanisms to register and regulate placement agencies for domestic workers, said the official, adding that the draft is likely to be approved within the next two weeks.A national policy for domestic workers has been discussed for at least a decade.
- The government has approved a subsidy of ₹5 per quintal of sugarcane crushed in the 2017-18 season to help sugar mills clear more than ₹19,000 crore in dues to cane farmers.The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday, an official statement said.
- The assistance will be paid directly to the farmers on behalf of the mills. It will be adjusted against the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of ₹255 per quintal set by government as the rate that mills must pay to cane farmers, as well as the arrears of payments pending from previous years.
- Any subsequent balance will be credited into the mill’s account, the statement said, adding that assistance will be provided to those mills which fulfil the government’s eligibility conditions.
‘More steps needed’
- The subsidy will work out to ₹1,550 crore to ₹1,600 crore for the current season, said Abinash Verma, director-general of industry body, Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA). He welcomed the decision but added that “this can be taken as a first step towards various other initiatives and financial assistance that the government has to take very soon” to help the mills and the farmers.
- Sugar production has hit record highs this year leading to a crash in prices. The ISMA estimates that wholesale sugar prices have fallen by ₹9 a kg over the past five months, and the mills are now incurring a loss of ₹8 a kg of sugar.
- Restoring the financial health of the telecom sector will be crucial for attracting investments of $100 billion as envisaged in the new national telecom policy draft, according to the industry.
- The draft ‘National Digital Communications Policy 2018’, released late on Tuesday evening, envisions attracting $100 billion investments into the country’s digital communications sector, providing broadband access for all with 50 mbps speed and creating 40 lakh new jobs in the sector by the year 2022.
Data protection regime
- The draft policy also stresses on the need for a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications to safeguard privacy, autonomy and choice for individuals. It lists ensuring “net neutrality principles are upheld” as a key objective.
- The policy, which was drafted after consultation with all stakeholders, has largely been welcomed by the industry and analysts. However, they have raised concerns over its implementation.
- The policy has taken into account inputs from all stakeholders. It really is a good policy document. The next step is to make sure it is implemented.
- The policy talks about investments of $100 billion. The telecom industry is going to be the principal engine that is going to attract that type of funding. Therefore, the sooner the industry’s financial health is improved, the quicker we can go about attracting that investment.
- Given the present plight of the sector, it is very difficult to get anybody who is interested in our networks and our companies.Much of what has been articulated in the policy depends on the robust nature and quality of the networks.
- The draft proposes to review the levies and fees — including License Fee, Universal Service Obligation Fund levy and spectrum usage charges — which is expected to help the debt-laden telecom sector.
- The policy’s success would depend on implementation which he said posed some challenges. Firstly, some of the proposals will require tinkering with the current license regime which will impact the current players.
- Secondly, reduction in levies to have any meaning will have to be substantial, which will mean loss of revenue to the government, at least in the short term.
- A lot of the objectives listed in the draft policy are not entirely in the hands of the government and would require private participation, including the provision of broadband access for all.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Why in news?
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently opened a Pandora’s box by condemning the allopathic doctors of the country during an interaction called Bharat ki Baat, Sab ke Saath with the diaspora in London.
- PM Modi condemned the Indian doctors on charges of corruption and malpractice. He emphasised on the doctor-industry nexus and shared concerns on the fallout of such a relationship.
- Privatisation of healthcare, not just doctors, is to blame for corruption in the sector.
Points of importance
- The PM condemned the Indian doctors on charges of corruption and malpractice. He emphasised on the doctor-industry nexus and shared concerns on the fallout of such a relationship.
- The Indian Medical Association and other similar outfits have condemned the PM’s remarks largely because they were spoken on British soil, a country where nearly 50 per cent of doctors in the National Health System (NHS) happen to be of Indian origin.
- Broadly, the PM is not wrong but to believe that his regime (like his political predecessors) hasn’t contributed to this decay of medical ethics healthcare in the country is absurd.
To analyse the debris of the ethical healthcare delivery system, it is essential to see the complete picture.
- The decay in the ethics is the result of corporatisation of healthcare by a greedy industry and politicians.
- A large number of private medical colleges in this country are owned by politicians or their kin.
- The overall health market in India was estimated to be $100 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow to $280 billion by 2020, at an annual growth rate of nearly 30 per cent.
- The disturbing aspect of this statistic is the fact that most of this growth is happening in the private healthcare sector. In fact, there has been substantial cost-cutting in public healthcare.
- It was the current government which in its first budget in 2014 cut health expenditure by around 20 per cent.
- In fact, under the present government, we became one of the nations which were spending the least on its health as a percentage of its GDP less than even Ethiopia and Bhutan.
- A Lancet report in 2016 mentioned that 80 per cent of India’s healthcare is now delivered by the private practitioners, the very doctors whom the PM now condemns as corrupt.
- The destruction of public healthcare in the country has resulted in this extremely lopsided situation and hence the increasing likelihood of the malpractices about which the PM spoke in London.
Prime minister’s mention on the capping of implant prices
- This is a welcome step but we were told that capping of total knee implants would be followed by capping of prices of the total hip implants, ocular lenses, and many other such items.
- Government will have to show haste in capping prices of other implants as well.
- There is no doubt that significant numbers of doctors are involved in unethical practices.
- It is also true that doctors and pharmaceutical companies form an unholy alliance.
- But to paint the entire profession with the same brush country is a matter of serious concern, especially when it comes from the highest quarters.
- We live in extremely dangerous times where violence against doctors is on the rise. Such imprudent statements coming from the top embolden those who resort to violence.
- The powers that be should realise that the only effective way to reduce corruption in healthcare is to strengthen the public healthcare delivery system.
- Corruption is not the handiwork of individuals alone, it is also systemic. Repair the system and the corrupt will melt away like snow under the sun.
- India and China held their first ever “informal summit” in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on April 27 and 28.
- Modi-Xi summit gives India the chance to expand its diplomatic options in the neighbourhood and beyond.
What’s in news?
- Xi is clearly the chief architect of China’s external relations.
- Modi has a strong belief in the value of personal diplomacy and leader-to-leader engagement.
- There is a mutual recognition that each has the stature to reorient the India-China relationship in a new direction.
- One hopes that the several hours of summit-level engagement did result in a shared understanding of the rapidly transforming regional and global geopolitical landscape, how these changes impact on the prospects of emerging powers like India and China and to what extent the two countries are willing to mitigate the competitive component in their relations to better cope with an uncertain and unpredictable world.
- One, there is no doubt that India and China are responding to recent regional and global developments, which have injected a heavy dose of uncertainty and unpredictability in the external environment of both countries.
- China has been blind-sided by developments on the Korean peninsula, with the two Koreas engaging in a détente process unmediated by the great powers, in particular, China.
- This is the first time that China found itself on the margins of dramatic changes on the peninsula and had to scramble to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Beijing to show that it remains a key actor.
- If Kim’s forthcoming summit with US President Donald Trump produces significant results, China’s marginalisation will be patently on display.
- After Xi’s visit to Mar-a-lago for a summit with Trump in March 2017, the Chinese appeared to have become over-confident of their ability to fend off a trade war with the US by promising to play a constructive role on Korea.
- But trade retaliation from the US has commenced and may worsen in the coming months. China will likely retaliate but this will only worsen the political relationship.
- If Trump walks out of the Iran nuclear deal later this month and severe sanctions are reimposed on Iran, China, like India, will find itself in an uncomfortable political and economic situation.
- The nervousness which we had found among the Chinese soon after Trump was elected is now back in acute form.
- A sharpening of US-China tensions will also make the prospect of the India-US-Japan-Australia quad a more threatening development for China than now.
- In sum, the persistent Chinese belief in the uncontested and upward linear trajectory of the country towards great-power status has now been seriously shaken.
- This backdrop is important to understand the dynamics at work at Wuhan.
- Continuing a confrontational and overtly adversarial posture towards India could exacerbate the challenge China now has to face in a worsening geopolitical landscape.
- To the extent that India too is challenged by these new developments, a more benign relationship with China would be equally helpful.
- India has obviously made some moves to reassure China. There is a reversion to the policy of abjuring any official relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
- If recent reports are to be believed, India is not inviting Australia to the Malabar naval exercises this year so the next logical step in crystallising the quad process has been stalled for the time being.
- While India has not changed its stand on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative (BRI), the report of a joint India-China development project in Afghanistan does soften the Indian opposition.
- It is also likely that the two sides will take some visible steps to energise their economic and commercial relationship, which would also make sense given the threat of rising protectionism from the US.
- The one specific outcome announced at the summit is also one of the more significant, coming in the wake of the Doklam crisis.
- This is the joint commitment to maintain peace and tranquillity over the entire India-China border and the direction given by the leaders to their respective militaries to observe restraint, scrupulously implement Confidence Building Measures and strengthen communication links at all levels.
- The avoidance of provocative behaviour by both militaries deployed at the border is critical to maintaining the overall relationship on an even keel. This understanding augurs well for the future.
In the past with respect to present
- In 2005, India and China had agreed that their coincidental emergence as emerging economies had imparted a “global and strategic character” to their relationship.
- However, as the power asymmetry between India and China began to expand in subsequent years, China saw India in a lesser league, benchmarking itself instead with the US.
- There is now a recognition by China that it may have been too hasty in assuming the inevitability of a G-2 world dominated by China and the US and that perhaps there is still some value in maintaining a strategic relationship with other major emerging economies like India.
- This may be a temporary shift but it has opened up the possibility of expanding India’s own diplomatic options and should be taken advantage of.
- China is unlikely to reverse its penetration of India’s periphery and the Indian Ocean but one may see a greater sensitivity to Indian concerns than before.
- This may be the time to enhance our neighbourhood engagement and this includes relations with Pakistan.
- An improvement in India-China relations diminishes the potency of the China card our neighbours flaunt at us. Let us take advantage of an opening that may well close sooner than later.
- India-China relations must be managed through a mix of competitive and cooperative policies and regular leadership-level interaction. The Wuhan Consensus reflects this understanding.
- But at the end of the day, the only effective instrument for managing India-China relations will be a significant, sustained and rapid development of India’s economic and security capabilities, thus narrowing the power gap between the two Asian giants.
F. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
To be updated shortly!
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
India has made determined efforts to restore peace in Korean Peninsula. Explain.
- Draft National Policy for Domestic Workers complicates the laws instead of addressing the concerns of Domestic workers. Critically comment.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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