President appoints Governors
Context: By exercising his authority under Article 156 of the constitution, President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed new Governors for Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Governors of States in India:
- Governor is the nominal head of a state, unlike the Chief Minister who is the real head of a state in India.
- According to an amendment in the Constitution of India (7th Constitutional Amendment Act), brought about in 1956, the same person can be the Governor of two or more states.
Appointment and removal:
- The governors and lieutenant-governors are appointed by the president for a term of 5 years.
- The term of governor’s office is normally 5 years but it can be terminated earlier by: Dismissal by the president on the advice of the prime minister of the country, at whose pleasure the governor holds office or Resignation by the governor. Thus, the term is subject to pleasure of the president.
- There is no provision of impeachment, as it happens for the president.
- Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor.
- Like the President of India, the Governor of any state in India is vested with certain executive, legislative and judicial powers.
- He or she also possesses certain discretionary or emergency powers.
- But one major difference in the powers enjoyed by the President and those enjoyed by the Governor is, the Governor does not have any diplomatic or military powers.
Some discretionary powers are as follows:
- Governor can dissolve the legislative assembly if the chief minister advices him to do following a vote of no confidence. Following which, it is up to the Governor what he/ she would like to do.
- Governor, on his/ her discretion can recommend the president about the failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.
- On his/ her discretion, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the state legislature for president’s assent.
- If there is no political party with a clear-cut majority in the assembly, Governor on his/ her discretion can appoint anybody as chief minister.
- Governor determines the amount payable by the Government of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to an autonomous Tribal District Council as royalty accruing from licenses for mineral exploration.
- Governor has discretion to refuse to sign to an ordinary bill passed by the state legislature.
Problem with constitutional design:
The governor is merely appointed by the president on the advice of the Central government.
Unlike the president, a governor does not have a fixed term. He/she holds office at the pleasure of the ruling party in the centre. Both the manner of the appointment and the uncertainty of tenure conspire to make the incumbent an object of the Central government in politically charged circumstances.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to provide for road safety.
- Compensation for road accident victims: The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour. The central government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance.
- Compulsory insurance: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
- The fund will be utilised for: (i) treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, (ii) compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident, (iii) compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and (iv) compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government.
- Good samaritans: The Bill defines a good samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident. The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) voluntary, and (iii) without the expectation of any reward. Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.
- Recall of vehicles: The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
- The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to: (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.
- National Transportation Policy: The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with state governments. The Policy will: (i) establish a planning framework for road transport, (ii) develop a framework for the grant of permits, and (iii) specify priorities for the transport system, among other things.
- Road Safety Board: The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification. The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including.
- Offenses and penalties: The Bill increases penalties for several offenses under the Act.
- Taxi aggregators: The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). These aggregators will be issued licenses by state. Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Context: The Ministry of Tourism, under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, has identified tribal circuit as one of the fifteen thematic circuits for development of tourism infrastructure in the country with the objective of showcasing tribal culture, art, handicrafts and providing livelihood and enhance employment opportunities for tribal populations in the country.
About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
Tourism Ministry launched the scheme.
Objective: to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of the individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalized on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
- A National Steering Committee (NSC)will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in the identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stakeholders.
- PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
Context: Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas signs contracts for 32 blocks awarded under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Rounds – II & III.
What is Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)?
The OALP, a critical part of the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, provides uniform licences for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbons, enabling contractors to explore conventional as well as unconventional oil and gas resources.
Fields are offered under a revenue-sharing model and throw up marketing and pricing freedom for crude oil and natural gas produced.
- Under the OALP, once an explorer selects areas after evaluating the National Data Repository (NDR) and submits the EoI, it is to be put up for competitive bidding and the entity offering the maximum share of oil and gas to the government is awarded the block.
- NDR has been created to provide explorers’ data on the country’s repositories, allowing them to choose fields according to their capabilities. Data received through the National Seismic Programme, an in-depth study of 26 sedimentary basins are continuously being added to the NDR.
The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replacing the erstwhile New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was approved in March 2016 and the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) along with the National Data Repository (NDR) were launched in June 2017 as the key drivers to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
The main features of HELP are Revenue Sharing Contract, single Licence for exploration and production of conventional as well as unconventional Hydrocarbon resources, marketing & pricing freedom, etc.
What was the need for the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)?
- In 2015-2016, India’s crude oil import dependence rose to 81% from 78.5%. In the last five years, India has seen an overall decline in exploration and production of conventional resources.
- New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) created in 1997 ended the state dominance and created a competitive environment leading to liberalization of oil and gas exploration and production industry. However, it failed to keep the momentum of production growth and attracting the foreign investment.
- Bureaucratic hurdles like multiple approvals and sanctions, cost overruns, and disputes led to some oil majors leaving their awarded blocks and exit from the space.
Sources: The Hindu.