Note: The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination
News Analysis: 18-02-2019
General Studies-II : Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Supreme Court’s split decision flags the need to address complexities in Centre-UT ties
The Supreme Court’s split decision on the question of whether the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD) has executive control over those in its service points to the inherent complexity of the relations between the Delhi government and the Centre.
The disadvantages of not having full statehood status has been felt by many elected regimes in Delhi. But under Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government, and with the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the extent of acrimony has been severe.
Battles have been fought in the political and judicial spheres over whether some subject or the other falls under the Delhi government or is the exclusive preserve of the Centre.
A Constitution Bench ruling last year provided a framework to resolve such issues. It held that the Lt. Governor has to act either on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, or abide by the decision of the President on a reference made by him.
The power to refer “any matter” to the President did not mean “every matter” should go that way.
Specific issues were left to a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, which has resolved most issues.
It has upheld the Delhi government’s power to appoint prosecutors, levy and revise stamp duty on property transactions and issue notifications under the Delhi Electricity Reform Act.
Both judges agree that there is no ‘service’ in the Delhi government, as all its employees come under the ‘Central services’.
Its civil servants are drawn from the DANICS cadre, a service common to various Union Territories. Justice Sikri believes that going by a Constitution Bench decision last year, the NCTD would indeed have the power to deploy officials within its own departments.
However, the absence of a public service in Delhi means Entry 41 in the State List (services; service commissions) would imply that it is a matter inapplicable to ‘Union Territories’, and therefore, the LG need not act on the Delhi government’s aid and advice.
Therefore, he favours a solution under which transfers and postings of officers in the rank of Joint Secretary and above could be directly submitted to the LG, and those of others be processed by the Council of Ministers and sent to the LG.
In case of any dispute, the LG’s view will prevail. Justice Bhushan, on the other hand, has ruled that once it is accepted that there is no ‘service’ under the NCTD, there is no scope for its government to exercise any executive power in this regard.
A larger Bench will now decide on the question relating to control over the services.
The more significant challenge is to find a way out of the complexities and problems thrown up by the multiple forms of federalism and power-sharing arrangements through which relations between the Centre and its constituent units are regulated.
General Studies-II : Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
States allocation: panel sticks to 2011 census
The 15th Finance Commission will not alter its approach on solely using the 2011 Census for population figures in its calculations for allocations to States, Chairman N.K. Singh said in an interview.
However, he added that other measures would be included that would ensure that States that have performed well by controlling population growth would not be penalised.
The recommendations of the Commission, especially to do with the quantum of devolution to the States, will have a bearing on not only the Central Budget but also those presented by the States for the year 2020-21.
In general, State finances are in a weaker position than the Centre’s, but we need not be in a celebratory mood regarding the Centre’s finances either. he said.
Perhaps for very good reasons, they have kicked the can on the fiscal deficit and debt targets down the road.
The Chairman, however, said the Commission had not yet finalised whether it would be altering the previous Commission’s recommendation that 42% of the Centre’s tax revenue be shared with the States.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-III : Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
‘Policies biased against rainfed agriculture’
Three out of five farmers in India grow their crops using rainwater, instead of irrigation. However, per hectare government investment on their lands may be 20 times lower, procurement of their crops is a fraction of major irrigated land crops, and many of the flagship agriculture schemes are not tailored to benefit them.
A new rainfed agriculture atlas released this week not only maps the agro biodiversity and socio-economic conditions prevailing in such areas, but also attempts to document the policy biases that are making farming unviable for many in these areas.
There has been “negligence” toward rainfed areas, which is leading to lower incomes for farmers in these regions, admitted Ashok Dalwai, CEO of the National Rainfed Area Authority. He also heads the government’s Committee on Doubling of Farmers’ Income.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on revitalising agriculture in rainfed areas, he said farmers in such areas are receiving 40% less of their income from agriculture in comparison to those in irrigated areas.
Lands irrigated through big dams and canal networks get a per hectare investment of ₹5 lakh. Watershed management spending in rainfed lands is only ₹18,000-25,000 and the difference in yield is not proportionate to the difference in investment.
It’s not just the quantum, but also the nature of investment that needs to change, he added.
Flagship government schemes, such as seed and fertiliser subsidies and soil health cards, are designed for irrigated areas and simply extended to rainfed farmers without taking their needs into consideration
For example, many hybrid seeds notified by the government scheme need plenty of water, fertilizer and pesticides to give high yields and are thus not useful to most rainfed farmers. Commercial fertilizers will simply burn out the soil without sufficient water. “The government has no system to channelise indigenous seeds or subsidise organic manure in the same way,”
A more balanced approach was needed to give rainfed farmers the same research and technology focus and production support that their counterparts in irrigation areas have received over the last few decades.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
Donald Trump’s latest move further undermines American democracy
Declaring a state of national emergency is hardly a trivial decision. While the U.S. has done so in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and similar exigencies, President Donald Trump has opted for this measure in the context of what he has described as “an invasion of drugs and criminals” from across the border with Mexico.
The move has further polarised Washington and put the strident immigration debate front and centre again.
The context for the emergency is the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history, for 35 days, that resulted in the shuttering of nine government agencies and the furlough of 800,000 government workers.
The primary cause was Mr. Trump’s refusal to sign off on Congressional appropriations bills unless lawmakers agreed to hand over $5.7 billion to fund his plan to construct a border wall with Mexico.
As the cost to the U.S. economy of the shutdown soared close to $11 billion by late-January, Mr. Trump backed down on his demand, yet warned that unless Congress yielded on the border wall funding, “I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the U.S. to address this emergency.”
Now he appears to have made good on that statement, probably on the basis that during national emergencies U.S. law permits the diversion of funds from military or disaster relief budgets to tackle the “crisis” at hand.
This begs the question of how real the emergency is and why the White House is devoting its considerable political capital to this one policy issue.
Mr. Trump frequently alludes to the migration crisis that he believes has engulfed the southern border.
It is true that more than 2,000 people were turned away or arrested at the border each day during November 2018, numbers that U.S. immigration hawks have seized upon to press the argument for a wall.
Yet this figure has decreased considerably over the past decade, and border crossings by undocumented migrants are at an all-time low, down from 1.3 million in 2001 to about 40,000 in 2018. If this is then a purely political move that panders to Mr. Trump’s conservative voter base, it may stand on wobbly legal foundations.
Already, the first few lawsuits challenging the emergency declaration are working their way through the courts.
Further, Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, may under their constitutional powers vote to terminate the emergency.
This would put the Republican-controlled Senate on the back foot by requiring it to clarify its position on the status quo, by either supporting or defeating such a resolution.
While Mr. Trump’s supporters are doubtless celebrating their Commander-in-Chief’s chutzpah for this move, the truth is that it will only take the U.S. further away from the ideal of peaceful coexistence within a pluralistic democracy.
Source: The Hindu
Other issues in News:
J&K administration withdraws security to separatist leaders
In the backdrop of the Pulwama attack by a suicide bomber in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed, the Governor’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday issued orders to withdraw all security personnel and government facilities provided to five separatist leaders in Kashmir.
The separatist leaders included Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, his two close aides Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Ghani Lone.
Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Shah, who remains behind bars after the Enforcement Directorate arrested him in July 2017, and Democratic Liberation Party chief Hashim Qureshi, one of the accused in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in 1971, are also among those whose security stands withdrawn.
Source: The Hindu
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