# UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis Oct04

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Forgo S-400 system, U.S. tells India
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. First State water grid portal launched in Jaipur
2. Kerala not to file review plea against order on Sabarimala
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Kamarajar Port gets nod for expansion from panel
2. ‘Don’t have mandate to give special status’
3. ‘NHAI rapped for not maintaining green cover along highways
4. Floor price for rabi crops hiked
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Gujarat acts to save its pride
2. Guterres lauds Modi for climate action
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. The scope of constitutional morality
2. The creamy layer of social justice
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

1. Forgo S-400 system, U.S. tells India

Note to Students:

• Apart from the deal surrounding the S-400, students are advised to go through some of the recent developments between India and US, in particular the 2+2 dialogue and the overarching idea behind the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act)
• We at BYJUs have covered an extensive video analysis of the recently concluded 2+2 dialogue which puts the relationship between India and the US into better perspective.
The link is as below:

Larger Background:

What is CAATSA?

• CAATSA stands for “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”
• This punitive act was signed reluctantly by President Donald Trump in August 2017 and forced his administration to impose sanctions on any country carrying out significant defence and energy trade with sanctioned entities in North Korea, Iran and Russia.
• CAATSA is a law that the US Congress had put into position last year (2017), this was done in August 2017. This law came into effect in January 2018. This is an act by the Congress, thus the President of the United States of America doesn’t have too much of authority over it.
• Thus, if the President of the United States wanted to give some waivers to some countries, or to some entities, then the possibilities were very limited. Since the Congress was convinced that Russia had interfered, and had meddled in the US Presidential Elections in 2016, meant that some actions should be taken against it so that it would hurt those agencies and organizations which had meddled in the US elections. Further, it meant that the countries who would be dealing with those entities would also be put under sanction.

Where does India come into the picture?

• Now, the question to ask here is: Where does India come into the picture?  Well, India comes into the picture as she is looking at importing at least 5 systems of the S-400 ballistic defence system which would be costing anything between 4-5 Billion dollars.
• Thus, discussions have been going on as far as this is concerned, and in the next annual summit that is due to take place between India and Russia in October 2018, it is expected that this agreement would be signed.
• The act would have acted against the possibility of India going and buying this defence system for itself, and India had said that this is something very critical and crucial as far as our own security was concerned.
• As a result, Jim Mattis Secretary of Defense, and Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State, decided to change the provisions a bit in an effort to make it possible for India to also be able to buy these systems, without having the impact of sanctions.

The News:

• In a sudden turn of events, the U.S. on 3rd October, 2018 urged India to forgo its proposed deal to buy the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.
• The U.S. warned that the deal could attract American sanctions.
• It was expected that India and Russia were to announce the deal this week during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two-day visit to India.
• As discussed above, the U.S. administration is required under a domestic law, Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, to impose sanctions on any country that has “significant transactions” with Iran, North Korea or Russia. President Donald Trump has the power to waive these sanctions.
• In a recent development, a State Department spokesperson has revealed that this waiver might not be available to India and the S-400 deal falls in the category of “sanctionable transactions.”
• He further added that there are strict criteria for considering a waiver and that the waiver is narrow, intended to wean countries off Russian equipment and allow for things such as spare parts for previously-purchased equipment.

1. First State water grid portal launched in Jaipur

Larger Background:

A Note on the Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan:

Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan, is the Rajasthan government’s flagship water conservation project.

Program Objective:

• Emergence of self water reliant villages
• Increase in groundwater level, availability of surface flow in the main stream of watershed and availability of drinking water
• Increase in irrigated area, cultivable area and crop production
• Change in the cropping pattern
• Reduction in suspended sediments in flowing water of main streams and reduction in depletion of groundwater

Features of the Campaign

1. Making villages self-sufficient in water & creating “Islands of Excellence”
2. Four year program, each phase of one year
3. Launched across 295 Blocks of 33 districts
4. People’s participation
5. Mobilizing financial resources from multiple sources- Line Departments, NGOS, Corporate houses, Religious Trusts,Nonresident villagers, Social groups etc.
6. Use of technology
7. Construction of low cost water harvesting structures on watershed approach

The News:

• The first water grid portal of the state of Rajasthan was launched along with the start of fourth phase of the Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan.
• The Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan campaign has led to construction of about 4 lakh water harvesting structures in over 12,000 villages.
• Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said the success of the campaign had changed the scenario in the desert State by ensuring an active participation of voluntary groups, common people and elected representatives.
• This development is important as the National Green Tribunal had suggested its replication in other States.
• Further, the NITI Aayog had given an improved ranking to Rajasthan in water management index.

2. Kerala not to file review plea against order on Sabarimala

Note to Students:

As part of the larger background to this particular news topic, it would be important for students to briefly go through some of the salient aspects of this topic. Pursuant to this, we have taken the liberty of elaborating on the recent judgement by the Supreme Court which would lend a larger perspective.

Larger Background:

• Recently, the Supreme Court’s ruled, in a 4:1 majority, that the exclusionary practice of women in the 10-50 age group from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, violates the rights of women devotees.
• The apex court was assessing the constitutionality of the Sabarimala custom of excluding women in their ‘menstruating years’. The custom was allowed by Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship Act, 1965.

Analysis:

• It is believed that this verdict of the Supreme Court establishes the legal principle that individual freedom prevails over purported group rights, even in matters of religion.
• It is important to note that the state of Kerala had supported the entry of women into the temple, arguing that the “custom” of excluding women violated their rights.
• However, on the other hand, the Travancore Devaswom Board had supported the custom of not allowing women into the temple, saying that temples across the country do not allow women who are menstruating. The Ayyappa Seva Sangham had argued that the court has to find a way to uphold this custom so that other “similar customs” are not disturbed.

A look at the majority view:

• The majority held that devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that the prohibition on women is not an essential part of Hindu religion.

A look at the dissenting view:

• Justice Indu Malhotra was the lone dissenting voice.
• Justice Indu Malhotra chose not to review the religious practice on the touchstone of gender equality or individual freedom.
• Her view that the court “cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship of a deity” accorded greater importance to the idea of religious freedom as being mainly the preserve of an institution rather than an individual’s right.
• She asserted that issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily be interfered by the court.
• Further, she went on to add that the court should not interfere unless if there is any aggrieved person from that section or religion. What constitutes essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide, not for the court.

Some salient remarks:

• The Court had attempted to grapple with the stigmatisation of women devotees that is largely based on a medieval view of menstruation as symbolising impurity and pollution.
• To Chief Justice Dipak Misra, any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional.
• Further, devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender.
• Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asserted that stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability.
• CJI Misra also went on to add that the devotees of Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination.
• Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said the fundamental rights claimed by worshippers based on ‘custom and usage’ must yield to the fundamental right of women to practise religion. The decision reaffirms the Constitution’s transformative character and derives strength from the centrality it accords to fundamental rights.

The News:

• The Chief Minister of Kerala has said that the state will execute the SC’s verdict; cites equal rights of men and women.

• The Kerala government has decided to not file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the lifting of the ban on women of all age groups entering the Sabarimala temple.
• Even the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) also decided not to file a review petition.

C. GS3 Related

1. Kamarajar Port gets nod for expansion from panel

Larger Background:

A Brief Note on the Kamarajar Port:

• The Kamarajar port is located on the Coromandel Coast about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai. This port is the 12th major port of India, and the first port in India which is a public company.
• The port was declared as a major port under the Indian Ports Act, 1908 in March 1999 and incorporated as Ennore Port Limited under the Companies Act, 1956 in October 1999.
• The Kamarajar Port is the only corporatized major port and is registered as a company.

The News:

• There were proposed expansion projects under Phase–III of the Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL).
• The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment has recommended environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the proposed expansion.
• The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) sought detailed deliberations on certain critical aspects of the project and referred it for re-appraisal for non-compliance of certain conditions laid out.

Analysis:

• As per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) guidelines, the mangroves present near the project area were not to be disturbed and an action plan to conserve them was sought.
• The regional office of the MoEFCC had noted that Kamarajar Port Ltd  has left the mangrove area untouched and would transfer the cargo through elevated closed conveyors with dust control measures.
• There was also initially an intention raised by Kamarajar Port Ltd. to convert more than 1,000 acres of intertidal wetlands, including salt pans, into industrial real estate.
• However, later, the port management submitted that it has no intention to convert these into industrial real estates. They asserted that “All development activities are planned beyond CRZ area in the land owned by KPL after obtaining Environment & CRZ clearance from authorities”.

Important Terms:

Intertidal wetlands:

• An intertidal wetland is an area along a shoreline that is exposed to air at low tide and submerged at high tide. This type of wetland is defined by an intertidal zone and includes its own intertidal ecosystems.
• Intertidal wetlands are under threat from a range of anthropogenic causes, some site-specific, others acting globally. Globally acting factors include climate change and its driving cause, which is the increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Salt Pans

• Salt flats are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun.
• Salt pans form in the desert and other arid areas where large water bodies have dried up over thousands of year leaving behind salt and other minerals as remnants.

2. ‘Don’t have mandate to give special status’

Larger Background:

Brief historicity:

• The very concept of a special category state was first introduced in 1969.
• This was done so when the 5th Finance Commission sought to provide certain disadvantaged states in India with preferential treatment in the form of central assistance and tax breaks.
• Initially there were three states which were granted this status. They included: Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir. But since then eight more have been included (Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand).
• The rationale for special status is that certain states, because of inherent features, have a low resource base and cannot mobilize resources for development.

Criteria:

Some of the features required for special status are:
(i) hilly and difficult terrain;
(ii) low population density or sizeable share of tribal population;
(iii) strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
(iv) economic and infrastructural backwardness; and
(v) non-viable nature of state finances.

What do Special Category Status (SCS) States receive?

• In centrally sponsored schemes and external aid special category states get it in the ratio of 90% grants and 10% loans. For the rest of the states as per the recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission, in case of centrally sponsored schemes only 70% central funding is there in the form of grant.
• They receive preferential treatment in federal assistance and tax break.
• Further, these states avail themselves of the benefit of debt swapping and debt relief schemes (through the enactment of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act) which facilitate reduction of average annual rate of interest.

Changed Dynamics after Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC):

• Subsequent to the constitution of the NITI Aayog ( which was formed after the dissolution of the Planning Commission) and the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC), Central plan assistance to Special Category Status (SCS) States has been subsumed in an increased devolution of the divisible pool to all States (from 32% in the 13th FC recommendations to 42%) and do not any longer appear in plan expenditure.

The News:

• The 15th Finance Commission made it clear on Wednesday that it did not have the mandate to recommend grant of special category status (SCS) to States but assured that its recommendations would be “sympathetic and positive” as far as the needs of Bihar were concerned.

3. NHAI rapped for not maintaining green cover along highways

The News:

• The National Green Tribunal on 3rd October, 2018 came down heavily on the National Highways Authority of India for not maintaining green cover along national highways.
• It is important to note that there exists a policy to maintain a mandatory green cover along the highways.
• A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel questioned the idea of construction along the highways instead of planting trees.

Larger Background:

The NHAI had assured that its Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy will be implemented.

A Note on the Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015:

• The aim of the policy is to promote greening of Highway corridors with participation of the community, farmers, private sector, NGOs, and government institutions.
• 1% of the total project cost of all highways projects will be kept aside for the highway plantation and its maintenance.
• This policy aimed at generating employment opportunities for about five lakh people from rural areas.
• There would be a strong monitoring mechanism in place by using ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems.
• The Green Highway Policy was conceived towards helping in making India pollution free. It will also seek to help in curtailing the number of road accidents in India. The vision of the policy is to provide dignified employment to local people and communities.

4. Floor price for rabi crops hiked

The News:

• On 3rd October 2018, the Union Cabinet approved raising the minimum support prices of rabi crops such as wheat, barley, gram, masur, rapeseed and mustard, and safflower for 2018-19.
• This step is being looked upon as one that should come as a boost to farmers.
• The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all rabi crops for 2018-19 to be marketed in 2019-20 season.
• This initiative will give additional return of ₹62,635 crore to the farmers by way of increasing MSP of notified crops to at least 50% return over cost of production and will aid in doubling farmers’ income.

‘Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA)

• Giving a major boost to the pro-farmer initiatives of the Government and in keeping with its commitment and dedication for the Annadata, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a new Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA).
• The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.

Components of PM-AASHA:

• The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of:
• Price Support Scheme (PSS),
• Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
• Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).
• This is an unprecedented step taken by Govt. of India to protect the farmers’ income which is expected to go a long way towards the welfare of farmers.
• The Government of India has already increased the MSP of kharif crops by following the principle of 1.5 times the cost of production.
• It is expected that the increase in MSP will be translated to farmer’s income by way of robust procurement mechanism in coordination with the State Governments.

Concerns Raised by the RBI:

• The increase in MSP for rabi crops comes just ahead of the RBI monetary policy announcement.
• It is important to note that the RBI, in its August policy statement, had indicated MSP increase among possible factors that could influence its outlook on inflation.
• The latest move on MSP could further escalate the concerns of the Reserve Bank over inflation.
• Crucially, the RBI, in its last policy statement had said that there is a considerable uncertainty and the exact impact would depend on the nature and scale of the government’s procurement operations.

1. Gujarat acts to save its pride

The News:

• There has been an alarming development where many Asiatic lions have died in the Gir forest.
• 23 lions since September 12, 2018 have died.
• The Gujarat government, had initially insisted that the lions had died due to infighting for territorial domination.
• Currently, the government has sprung into action and launched not only rescue efforts but also called experts from outside, including London, and imported a vaccine from the United States.

Steps Taken:

• Currently, more than 500 lions have already been screened to detect viral infections in the Gir forests and revenue areas. This has been done so because as Asiatic lions are spread in as many as eight districts in the Saurashtra region.
• It is important to note that the Gir forests, are the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world.
• The lions are famously known as Gujarat’s pride.

Analysis:

• Apart from the 23 lions that have died since September 12, 2018, as many as 36 are battling for their lives.
• A deadly outbreak of the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and tick-borne Babesiosis is killing these lions.

2. Guterres lauds Modi for climate action

The News:

• On the 3rd of October, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred the Champions of the Earth Award by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a ceremony.
• Mr. Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were among others conferred the Champions of the Earth Awards.
• The Champions of the Earth Awards is the UN’s “highest environmental honour.”
• Mr. Modi and Mr. Macron’s prizes were announced last week, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, in the ‘Policy Leadership’ category.
• They won this prize for their “pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action, including Mr. Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Mr. Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate single-use plastic in India by 2022.
• The Cochin International Airport also received the UN award for ‘Entrepreneurial Vision, and for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy.’

Other Distinguished Winners:

• Mr. Modi is the third Indian after Tulsi Tanti, the Chairman of the Suzlon Group, and Afroz Alam, a lawyer who led the clean-up at Mumbai’s Versova beach, to be given the award.

Background on International Solar Alliance:

• International Solar Alliance (ISA) is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

Scope of this Alliance:

• There is no specific body in place to address the specific solar technology deployment needs of the solar resource rich countries located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Most of these countries are geographically located for optimal absorption of the sun’s rays.
• There is a great amount of sunlight year-round which can lead to cost effective solar power and other end uses with high insolation of almost 300 sunny days in a year. Most of the countries have large agrarian populations. Many countries face gaps in the potential solar energy manufacturing ecosystem. Absence of universal energy access, energy equity and affordability are issues common to most of the solar resource rich countries.
• In conclusion, the International Solar Alliance is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries where the global community, including bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders, can make a positive contribution to assist and help achieve the common goals of increasing the use of solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

1. The scope of constitutional morality

Background:

Although this article primarily deal with the issue of the rights of sweepers and scavengers, it is important to briefly go through important terms such as Manual Scavenging and Government interventions in this area.

• Scavenging has been an occupation imposed upon certain citizens of the country by the society, which later on continued as a traditional occupation where a section of people among Scheduled Castes was ordained to clean the  night soil and carry it manually on their heads. This class of citizens of India is known as Manual Scavengers.
• Manual scavenging exists primarily because of absence of water borne latrines. Using a broom, a tin plate and a drum, they clear and carry human excreta from toilets, more often on their heads, to dumping grounds and disposal sites.
• They are exposed to the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections that affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.Their children are also caught up in this quagmire. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible for their children to become educated. Mostly, the women of the families of the scavengers are engaged in scavenging. Even though, in modern times these people desire to leave the profession, their social, economic, educational and cultural aspects have made it difficult for them to find an alternate profession. The social stigma of untouchability continues to stick, in one form or the other largely because of the unclean nature of their occupation.

A Note on the ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’:

• The Parliament passed the ‘Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’
• This Act came into effect from 6th December, 2013.

This Act intends to, inter alia, achieve its objectives to:-

1.         i)       Eliminate the insanitary latrines.
2.         ii)      Prohibit:-

a) Employment as Manual Scavengers

b)      Hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.

iii)     Survey of Manual Scavengers and their rehabilitation, within a time bound manner.

Main features of the Act:

(i)     Definitions of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines widened to cover not only dry latrines but other insanitary latrines as well.

(ii)   Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable and attract stringent penalties.

(iii) Vigilance/Monitoring Committee at sub-Division, District, State and Central Govt. levels.

(iv) National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) would, inter alia, monitor implementation of the Act  and enquire into complaints regarding contravention of the provisions of the Act.

(v)   Provision of construction of adequate number of sanitary community latrines in urban areas, within three years from the date of commencement of this Act to eliminate the practice of open defecation.

Analysis:

• It is important to note that the abolition of untouchability in all its forms, including scavenging, remains an unrealized constitutional right.

• Critics have remarked that the issue of the rights of sweepers and scavengers has never entered the mainstream legal consciousness in the country.

• Unfortunately today, there has been a steady rise in deaths of conservancy workers, and a risk to life they bear on a daily basis.

A Note on Article 17 of the Constitution of India:

• It states that “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”
• It is important to note that this is a fundamental right (under Part III of the Constitution) and is therefore justiciable and enforceable by courts, which shall call governments to account.

Legal Precedents:

• In 2009, the Delhi High Court, in Naz Foundation v. NCT of Delhi, invoked Babasaheb Ambedkar’s delineation of constitutional morality.
• The Delhi High Court asserted the urgency of decriminalising consensual sexual relations proscribed by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
• Further, the Court cited a second provision as well.
• The Court cited Article 15(2) which prohibits any form of horizontal discrimination drawing again from the experience of untouchability that obstructed the universal use of public places, restaurants, water sources, etc.
• Last month, we witnessed a triumphal return of constitutional morality as a guiding principle for constitutional interpretation. The Supreme Court of India read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
• A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, deployed this framework to reaffirm the rights of LGBTQ and all gender non-conforming people to their dignity, life, liberty, and identity.

Judicial empathy

• It is vital to consider the importance of judicial empathy.
• Unfortunately in our country today, we have people, largely from India’s oppressed castes living a life without dignity, losing their lives in the sewers of cities.
• The time for the expression of judicial empathy is now.
• Currently, despite constitutional and statutory protections, people are losing their lives. Thus, it is important to right these historical wrongs, or at least set the course for the future.
• It is important to note that outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had set out four cardinal corners of the Constitution.
• These are a) Individual autonomy and liberty;
1. b) equality sans discrimination;
2. c) recognition of identity with dignity; and
3. d) right to privacy.

He also underscored the centrality of fraternity to the constitutional value system. These signposts require us to think and act on the meanings and expressions of “intrinsic dignity” for conservancy workers and safai karamcharis.

In conclusion,  there is recognition by the court that majoritarian governments/sections work hard to keep oppressive structures in place, and that it is the duty of the court to place questions of liberty, equality, and dignity out of the reach of majoritarian impulses.

2. The creamy layer of social justice

Editorial Analysis:

• There are certain expectations on any verdict on public policy by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court.
1. Firstly, it must hold whether the underlying principle(s) is/are consistent with the Constitution of India.
2. Secondly, such a verdict must end governance paralysis.
• Critics believe that unfortunately, the court didn’t accomplish this objective in its recent verdict in Jarnail Singh v. Lachhmi Narain Gupta case.
• In this case, the court held that the government need not collect quantifiable data to demonstrate backwardness of public employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) to provide reservations for them in promotions.

Crux of the Issue:

• The crux of the issue here is whether or not the ‘creamy layer’ among SC/STs should be barred from obtaining promotions through reservations.
• In its verdict in 2006 in the M. Nagaraj v. Union of India case, the Court had observed the need to collect quantifiable data.
• However, in the recent judgement, the court set aside the requirement to collect quantifiable data that was stipulated by its 2006 verdict in M. Nagaraj v. Union of India as it ignored the reasoning of a nine-judge bench in Indra Sawhney (1992) that any discussion on creamy layer “has no relevance” in the context of SC/STs.
• Critics allege that since the court has taken more than a decade to correct an anomaly in the Nagaraj case which brought in a creamy layer filter for promotions for SC/ST employees, this resulted in thousands of employees being denied their due promotions.
• Unfortunately, the matter cannot be treated as settled even today. This is because, a two-judge bench of the top court is considering a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Samta Andolan Samiti that seeks the removal of creamy layer among the SC/STs in job reservations.
• This is being done in spite of the fact that a nine-judge Constitution Bench had settled the matter long ago and also this matter has just been settled by a five-judge Constitution Bench.

Important Observations:

• The court merely removed the government’s responsibility to collect quantifiable data on backwardness. However, the Court reasoned that the creamy layer test would be consistent with the equality principle.
• The court did not question reservations in promotions for SC/ST employees, but grappled with a different question: Which section or class among the SC/STs is more entitled?
• When one does a close reading of relevant constitutional provisions and the verdict in Indra Sawhney case, one finds that it is clear that the SC/STs are given job reservations not because they are poor but because they are excluded.

A Note on Article 335:

• The first part of Article 335 stipulates job reservations for SC/STs as a right of representation, not as a welfare measure.
• However, the creamy layer among SC/ST employees helps fulfil the second part of Article 335 that requires maintaining the “efficiency of administration”.

Current Practices that need a relook:

• Currently, an SC/ST candidate does not have the right to reject reservations.
• Thus, he/she is merely required to state whether she belongs to the SC or the ST category and a response in affirmation automatically puts him/her in the queue for reservations.
• Further, it is also a punishable offence to withhold one’s caste status while seeking government employment.
• Some experts believe that a simple administrative decision to allow SC/ST candidates to compete in the general category would have helped thousands to leave the space for the less privileged among them.
• Some have observed that the presence of the creamy layer works as a safety valve.

They assert that the rationale behind the demand to prohibit elite or privileged sections from accessing quota posts is that these sections are as well qualified as general candidates, if not more, and numerous enough to warrant their removal.

• However, there exists a catch here. A well-qualified and large SC/ST group having to compete as non-reserved candidates would corner a substantial number of open posts. At the same time, their less privileged cousins would fill the quota.
• Thus, in theory, SC/STs would end up getting more posts than their proportion in population. This begs the question on the rationale behind the litigation.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements regarding, ‘intertidal wetlands’,

1. An intertidal wetland is an area along a shoreline that is exposed to air at low tide and submerged at high tide.

2. This type of wetland is defined by an intertidal zone and includes its own intertidal ecosystems.

Choose the correct option:

1. i) only
2. ii) only
3. Both i) and ii)
4. None of the above

See

Question 2. Consider the following statements,
1.  The Champions of the Earth Awards is the UN’s “highest environmental honour.”
2. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is headquartered in India and has its Secretariat located in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gwalpahari, Gurgaon, Haryana.

Choose the correct option:

1. i) only
2. ii) only
3. Both i) and ii)
4. None of the above

See

Question 3. Consider the following statements regarding the,
“Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification &
Maintenance) Policy, 2015”  

1. The aim of the policy is to promote greening of Highway corridors with participation of the community, farmers, private sector, NGOs, and government institutions.

2. 1% of the total project cost of all highways projects will be kept aside for the highway plantation and its maintenance.

Choose the correct option:

1. i) only
2. ii) only
3. Both i) and ii)
4. None of the above

See

Question 4. Consider the following statements regarding
“Minimum Support Price (MSP)”?
1. MSP is form of agricultural market intervention undertaken by Central Government in order to insure agricultural producers are protected against any sharp fall in farm prices.
2. The prices are decided by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
3. The cost of production is an important factor that goes as an input in determination of MSP, but it is certainly not the only factor that determines MSP.

Choose the correct option:

1. i) and ii) only
2. ii) and iii) only
3. Both i), ii) and iii)
4. None of the above

See

• Question 5. Consider the following statements regarding the “Gir National Park”,
1.  Besides Africa, Gir National Park in Gujarat is the only place in the world where you can spot lions roaming free in the wild.
2. The entire forest area of the Gir National Park is dry and deciduous.
3. The Gir forests, are the only abode of Asiatic lions in the world.

Choose the correct option:

1. i) and ii) only
2. ii) and iii) only
3. Both i), ii) and iii)
4. None of the above

See

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

1. What do you understand by judicial empathy? Enumerate with examples.
2. The idea of Minimum Support Price (MSP) has come under criticism for being a factor contributing to inflation. Do you agree? Justify your answer.
3. International relations is a delicate balancing act. Elaborate in the light of recent developments between India, the US, and Russia.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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