Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project- PIB news
About the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project:
The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi and later to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
Significance: According to GAIL, with the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.
Background: GAIL has built a network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km. With Urja Ganga project, this number will further increase by 2540 km.
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
About National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):
- The NSAP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under the Ministry of Rural Development. It came into effect from 15th August,1995.
- It represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the DPSP in Article 41 of the Constitution. In particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development.
- It aims to provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
- Coverage: It currently covers more than three crore people who are below the poverty line (BPL), including about 80 lakh widows, 10 lakh disabled and 2.2 crore elderly.
Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely:
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
- Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).
- Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS).
- National Family Benefit Scheme NFBS).
Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976
Context: Low conviction rate under the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Possible reasons for low conviction:
- General social bias.
- Nature of bonded labour being migrants, absentism of Witnesses due to their migratory Nature.
- DM/SDM Courts not as proficient in trial as judicial Courts.
About the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976:
The Act is being implemented by the concerned State Govts./UTs.
The Act provides for an institutional mechanism at the district level in the form of Vigilance Committees.
For the purpose of implementing the provisions of this Act, the State Governments/UTs may confer, on an Executive Magistrate, the powers of a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or second class for trial of offences under this Act.
Government of India has introduced a revamped Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers- 2016, under which financial assistance to the tune of Rs.1.00 (one) lakh, Rs.2.00 (two) lakhs & Rs. 3.00 (three) lakhs are provided to released bonded labourers based on their category and level of exploitation along with other non-cash assistance for their livelihood.
Bonded Labour or bandhua mazdoori was historically associated with rural economies where peasants from economically disadvantaged communities were bound to work for the landlords. In the present times, however, bonded labour is found to exist in both rural and urban pockets in unorganised industries such as brick kilns, stone quarries, coal mining, agricultural labour, domestic servitude, circus and sexual slavery.
Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna- PIB news
About Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna:
The Employee’s State Insurance (ESI) has approved this scheme for Insured Persons (IP) covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.
Aim: It aims to financially support those who lost their jobs or rendered jobless for whatsoever reasons due to changing employment pattern.
Its beneficiaries will be insured persons covered under Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 for period of two years continuously.
Cash assistance: Under the scheme, relief will be payable in cash directly to bank account of insured persons in case of unemployment. This financial assistance will be given to insured persons even while they search for new engagement. Beneficiary insured workers will be paid money, from their own contribution towards ESI scheme, in cash through bank account transfer.
Under this scheme, workers will be able to draw 47% of their total contributions towards ESIC after remaining unemployed for at least three months from date of leaving their previous jobs. They can choose to receive the cash at one go or in instalments. It will be applicable to all factories and establishments employing at least 10 workers.
The eligibility conditions and other features of the scheme are as under:
- The Insured Person should have been rendered unemployed during the period the relief is claimed.
- The Insured Person should have been in insurable employment for a minimum period of two years.
- The Insured Person should have contributed not less than 78 days during each of the preceding four contribution periods.
- The contribution in respect of him should have been paid or payable by the employer.
- The contingency of the unemployment should not have been as a result of any punishment for misconduct or superannuation or voluntary retirement.
- In case the IP is working for more than one employers and is covered under the ESI scheme he will be considered unemployed only in case he is rendered unemployed with all employers.
ESI is self-financing social security and health insurance scheme for Indian workers.
It is autonomous corporation by statutory creation under Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.It is managed by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) according to rules and regulations stipulated there in the ESI Act 1948.
Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)
Context: The total number of employees benefited under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) from 01.04.2016 to 31.03.2019 is 1.18 crore.
About Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana:
The scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana” (PMRPY) was announced in the Budget for 2016-17.
The objective of the scheme is to promote employment generation.
The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment.
The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.
Significance of the scheme:
PMRPY has a dual benefit –
- The employer is incentivised for increasing the employee base in the establishment through payment of EPF contribution of 12% of wage, which otherwise would have been borne by the employer.
- A large number of workers find jobs in such establishments.
A direct benefit of the scheme is that these workers have access to social security benefit through Provident Fund, Pension and Death Linked Insurance.
Finance Commission of India
Context: Cabinet approves extension of the term of the Fifteenth Finance Commission up to 30th November, 2019.
What is the Finance Commission?
The Finance Commission is constituted by the President under article 280 of the Constitution, mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.
Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the States respectively and equalization of all public services across the States.
What are the functions of the Finance Commission?
- It is the duty of the Commission to make recommendations to the President as to:
- the distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes which are to be, or may be, divided between them and the allocation between the States of the respective shares of such proceeds;
- the principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
- the measures needed to augment the Consolidated Fund of a State to supplement the resources of the Panchayats and Municipalities in the State on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State;
- any other matter referred to the Commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.
- The Commission determines its procedure and have such powers in the performance of their functions as Parliament may by law confer on them.
Who appoints the Finance Commission and what are the qualifications for Members?
The Finance Commission is appointed by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution. As per the provisions contained in the Finance Commission [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act, 1951 and The Finance Commission (Salaries & Allowances) Rules, 1951, the Chairman of the Commission is selected from among persons who have had experience in public affairs, and the four other members are selected from among persons who:
- are, or have been, or are qualified to be appointed as Judges of a High Court; or
- have special knowledge of the finances and accounts of Government; or
- have had wide experience in financial matters and in administration; or
- have special knowledge of economics.
The recommendations of the Finance Commission are implemented as under:
Those to be implemented by an order of the President: The recommendations relating to distribution of Union Taxes and Duties and Grants-in-aid fall in this category.
Those to be implemented by executive orders: Other recommendations to be made by the Finance Commission, as per its Terms of Reference
When was the first Commission Constituted and how many Commissions have been Constituted so far?
The First Finance Commission was constituted vide Presidential Order dated 22.11.1951 under the chairmanship of Shri K.C. Neogy on 6th April, 1952. Fifteenth Finance Commissions have been Constituted so far at intervals of every five years.
Why is there a need for a Finance Commission?
The Indian federal system allows for the division of power and responsibilities between the centre and states. Correspondingly, the taxation powers are also broadly divided between the centre and states. State legislatures may devolve some of their taxation powers to local bodies.
Formula used for distribution:
The share in central taxes is distributed among states based on a formula. Previous Finance Commissions have considered various factors to determine the criteria such as the population and income needs of states, their area and infrastructure, etc. Further, the weightage assigned to each criterion has varied with each Finance Commission.
The criteria used by the 11th to 14thFinance Commissions are:
- Population is an indicator of the expenditure needs of a state. Over the years, Finance Commissions have used population data of the 1971 Census. The 14th Finance Commission used the 2011 population data, in addition to the 1971 data. The 15th Finance Commission has been mandated to use data from the 2011 Census.
- Area is used as a criterion as a state with larger area has to incur additional administrative costs to deliver services.
- Income distance is the difference between the per capita income of a state with the average per capita income of all states. States with lower per capita income may be given a higher share to maintain equity among states.
Forest cover indicates that states with large forest covers bear the cost of not having area available for other economic activities. Therefore, the rationale is that these states may be given a higher share.
Besides the taxes devolved to states, another source of transfers from the centre to states is grants-in-aid. As per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, grants-in-aid constitute 12% of the central transfers to states. The 14th Finance Commission had recommended grants to states for three purposes: (i) disaster relief, (ii) local bodies, and (iii) revenue deficit.
Need for permanent status:
- Finance commissions have over the past several decades adopted different approaches with regard to principles of tax devolution, grants to be given to states and fiscal consolidation issues. In other words, there has to be continuity and change between finance commissions.
- There is a need to ensure broad consistency between Finance Commissions so that there is some degree of certainty in the flow of funds, especially to the states. This has become even more critical in the post GST scenario.
- If it is given permanent status, the Commission can function as a leaner entity in the intervening period till the next Finance Commission is set up in a full-fledged manner. During the intervening period, it can also address issues arising from implementation of the recommendations of the finance commission.
International Court of Justice
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: All about ICJ and comparison with ICC, Jadhav’s case and what can India do now in this case?
Context: International Court of Justice (ICJ) has directed Pakistan to review conviction order of Kulbhushan Jadhav and, until then, put his death sentence on hold. ICJ has also asked Pakistan to allow India consular access at earliest.
Key observations made by the ICJ:
Islamabad has violated Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963, by not informing India about Jadhav’s arrest immediately after Pakistan Army had taken him into custody.
India had been deprived of ‘right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation’.
What is it?
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN.
Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter.
It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.
Members of the Court:
The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.
In order to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three years. Judges are eligible for re-election.
Who nominates the candidates?
Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State. Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.
Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality. Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.
What are the qualifications of ICJ judges?
- A judge should have a high moral character.
- A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.
- A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.
The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:
- Three from Africa.
- Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
- Three from Asia.
- Five from Western Europe and other states.
- Two from Eastern Europe.
Sources: the hindu.
International Solar Alliance
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: ISA- key facts, significance and India’s solar power potential.
Context: Palau has become 76th signatory country to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
The agreement of the International Solar Alliance was open for signature during the COP22 at Marrakech on November 15, 2016. The signatories of the agreement include India, France, Australia, UAE, UK, Japan amongst others.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 122 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, now extended to all members of UN.
The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.
Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.
Sources: the Hindu.
Karnataka crisis: What was SC’s Kihoto Hollohan order of 1992, what is the role of Speaker?
Context: In the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case related to the political crisis in Karnataka, advocate has cited the landmark judgment in Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others (1992), in which the court upheld the sweeping discretion available to the Speaker in deciding cases of disqualification of MLAs.
What was the Kihoto Hollohan case?
The law covering the disqualification of legislators and the powers of the Speaker in deciding such matters became part of the statute book in 1985 when the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution was adopted.
A constitutional challenge to the Tenth Schedule was settled by the apex court in Kihoto Hollohan.
The principal question before the Supreme Court in the case was whether the powerful role given to the Speaker violated the doctrine of Basic Structure — the judicial principle that certain basic features of the Constitution cannot be altered by amendments by Parliament, laid down in the landmark judgment in Kesavananda Bharati vs State Of Kerala (1973).
What is the extent of the Speaker’s powers?
Paragraph 6(1) of the Tenth Schedule describes the Speaker’s sweeping discretionary powers: “If any question arises as to whether a member of a House has become subject to disqualification under this Schedule, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Chairman or, as the case may be, the Speaker of such House and his decision shall be final.”
What did the Supreme Court rule in Hollohan?
- The majority judgement:
The Speakers/Chairmen hold a pivotal position in the scheme of Parliamentary democracy and are guardians of the rights and privileges of the House. They are expected to and do take far reaching decisions in the Parliamentary democracy. Vestiture of power to adjudicate questions under the Tenth Schedule in them should not be considered exceptionable.
The Schedule’s provisions were “salutory and intended to strengthen the fabric of Indian Parliamentary democracy by curbing unprincipled and unethical political defections.”
- Minority view:
The tenure of the Speaker, who is the authority in the Tenth Schedule to decide this dispute, is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and, therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority.
An independent adjudicatory machinery for resolving disputes relating to the competence of Members of the House is envisaged as an attribute of the democratic system which is a basic feature of our Constitution… [the Speaker’s] choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.
Sources: Indian Express.