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08 August, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Delimitations of Constituencies
A law for those who testify
An intervention that leads to more question
National Medical Commission Bill
GS-III GI tag gets Odisha’s Rasagola
GS-II :
Delimitations of Constituencies

GS-II: Delimitations of Constituencies

Context

  • Since the bifurcation of J&K State into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, delimitation of their electoral constituencies has been inevitable.
  • While the government has not formally notified the Election Commission yet, the EC has held “internal discussions” on the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, particularly its provisions on delimitation.

What is Delimitation? Why is it needed?

 

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
  • In this process, the number of seats allocated to different states in Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change.
  • The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • It also aims at a fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.

Legal status

  • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission (DC).
  • The Constitution mandates that its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.

How is delimitation carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a DC made up of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective State Election Commissioners.
  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes these are where their population is relatively large.
  • All this is done on the basis of the latest Census and, in case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.

Implementation

  • The draft proposals of the DC are published in the Gazette of India, official gazettes of the states concerned and at least two vernacular papers for public feedback.
  • The Commission also holds public sittings.
  • After hearing the public, it considers objections and suggestions, received in writing or orally during public sittings, and carries out changes, if any, in the draft proposal.
  • The final order is published in the Gazette of India and the State Gazette and comes into force on a date specified by the President.

How often has delimitation been done in the past?

  • The first delimitation exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission).
  • The Constitution at that time was silent on who should undertake the division of states into Lok Sabha seats.
  • This delimitation was temporary as the Constitution mandated redrawing of boundaries after every Census. Hence, another delimitation was due after the 1951 Census.

Why more independence to DC?

  • Pointing out that the first delimitation had left many political parties and individuals unhappy, the EC advised the government that all future exercises should be carried out by an independent commission.
  • This suggestion was accepted and the DC Act was enacted in 1952.
  • DCs have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Why was there no delimitation then?

  • The Constitution mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states.
  • Although unintended, this provision implied that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament.
  • The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
  • Despite the embargo, there were a few occasions that called for readjustment in the number of Parliament and Assembly seats allocated to a state.
  • These include statehood attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and creation of new states such as Uttarakhand.

Why postponed till 2026?

  • Although the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment postponed this until 2026.
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.
  • So, the last delimitation exercise — started in July 2002 and completed on May 31, 2008 — was based on the 2001 Census and only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.

History of Delimitation in J&K

  • Delimitation of J&K’s Lok Sabha seats is governed by the Indian Constitution, but delimitation of its Assembly seats (until special status was abrogated recently) was governed separately by its Constitution and J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • As far as delimitation of Lok Sabha seats is concerned, the last DC of 2002 was not entrusted with this task. Hence, J&K parliamentary seats remain as delimited on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • As for Assembly seats, although the delimitation provisions of the J&K Constitution and the J&K RP Act, 1957, are similar to those of the Indian Constitution and Delimitation Acts.
  • They mandate a separate DC for J&K. In actual practice, the same central DC set up for other states was adopted by J&K in 1963 and 1973.
  • While the amendment of 1976 to the Indian Constitution suspended delimitation in the rest of the country till 2001, no corresponding amendment was made to the J&K Constitution.
  • Hence, unlike the rest of the country, the Assembly seats of J&K were delimited based on the 1981 Census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and no DC was set up by the state government after the 2001 Census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on fresh delimitation until 2026.
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GS-II :
A law for those who testify

GS-II: A law for those who testify

Context

Maharashtra came out with the Maharashtra Witness and Protection and Security Act 2017. However, the Centre and most other states are yet to act on the directive.

Background

  1. Supreme court gave its assent last year to the Witness Protection Scheme drafted by the Centre.
  2. The scheme was meant to be a measure in force only until the government brought out its own law on the issue.
  3. The objective of the scheme is to ensure the safety of witnesses so that they are able to give a true account of the crime without any fear of violence or criminal recrimination.

Poor implementation

  1. Though the scheme provides for police personnel to be deployed to protect the witness, it is silent on the punishment to be given to those policemen who themselves threaten the witnesses.
  2. Criminals continue to get support from the police. The shadowy politician-police nexus is so strong that no policeman dares take any action against his ‘master’.
  3. The Witness Protection Scheme calls for more elaborate and stricter laws to be incorporated so that criminals find no loopholes that can be exploited to their advantage.

The sooner the Centre comes up with legislation codifying the protection to be given to witnesses, the better it is for India’s criminal justice system.

 

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GS-II :
An intervention that leads to more question

GS-II: An intervention that leads to more question

Context

Defence Minister tweeted that India’s ‘future’ commitment to a posture of No First Use of nuclear weapons ‘depends on the circumstances’.

Background of NFU

India is one of the two countries that adhere to a doctrine of No First Use (NFU) along with China.

India has maintained that it will not strike first with nuclear weapons.

But India reserves the right to retaliate to any nuclear first strike against it (or any ‘major’ use of weapons of mass destruction against Indian forces) with a nuclear strike ‘that will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage’.

How it benefited us

NFU simply raises the nuclear threshold in order to bring stability to a volatile environment.

The adoption of the nuclear doctrine came soon after Operation Parakram (2001-02).

The public adoption of the doctrine an attempt by India to restate its commitment to restraint and to being a responsible nuclear power.India used this restraint to repulse the intruders in Kargil and regain occupied land. despite India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests of 1998.It gave India the space for conventional operations and gained it sympathy in foreign capitals despite the fears of nuclear miscalculation.India’s self-proclaimed restraint brought it into the nuclear mainstreamthe initial application for the waiver in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group ongoing attempts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Need for change in stance

  • Revoking the commitment to NFU does not necessarily equate with abandoning restraint
  • Many advocate a more muscular nuclear policy for India. Bharat Karnad, a member of the first National Security Advisory Board considered NFU ‘a fraud’ which would be ‘the first casualty’, if war were to break out.

 

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GS-II :
National Medical Commission Bill

GS-II: National Medical Commission Bill

Context:

The National Medical Commission Act 2019 has been passed by both Houses of Parliament is historic and path-breaking.

 What is the NMC Bill?

The National Medical Commission Bill seeks to improve the medical education system in the country by ensuring availability of adequate and high-quality medical professionals, periodic assessment of medical institutions, adoption of the latest medical research by medical professionals and an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

 

The Bill has the following key features:

  1. The Bill proposes to set up a medical commission, both at the national and state level, within three years of the passage of the legislation.
  2. The Bill also has a provision for setting up a Medical Advisory Council by the Centre. The council will act as a channel through which the states/Union Territories can convey their views and concerns to the NMC.
  3. The legislation also talks of conducting a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to under-graduate medical education in all medical institutions regulated under the Bill.
  4. The Bill proposes to hold the National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the licence for the practice. The test will also allow students to take admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions under this legislation.
  5. The Bill says that the NMC will have the authority to grant a limited licence to certain mid-level practitioners connected with the modern medical profession to practice medicine.

NMC

  1. The Bill aims to set up a National Medical Commission with 25 members.
  2. These members will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a committee.
  3. The members will include a chairperson, who must be a senior medical practitioner and academic with at least 20 years of experience, 10 ex officio members and 14 part-time members.
  4. The ex officio members will include the presidents of the undergraduate and postgraduate medical education boards, the director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, and a director of one of the AIIMS, among others.
  5. Part-time members, on the other hand, will include experts from the field of management, law, medical ethics, etc. and nominees of states and union territories.

 Functions of NMC:

  • The NMC will frame policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals, assessing the requirements of healthcare-related human resources and infrastructure, and ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Bill.
  • Besides this, the NMC will frame guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50 per cent of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Bill.

 Why doctors are so much against it?

  1. Section 32 of the bill authorises the government to allow non-medical degree holders to practice medicine as community health providers. This provision has been vehemently opposed by Indian Medical Association that says it will legalise quacks in the country.
  2. This will allow anyone with limited exposure to modern medical system to recommend medicines.
  3. Compared to the present 70 per cent figure of elected representatives in the Medical Council of India (MCI), only 20 per cent members of the NMC will be elected representatives.
  4. Unlike MCI, whose decisions were not binding on state medical councils, the NMC Bill allows the commission’s ethics board to exercise jurisdiction over state medical councils on compliance related to ethical issues.
  5. Also, while action can be taken against the MCI president only on the direction of a court, the NMC Bill enables the central government to remove the chairperson or any other member of the commission.
  6. National Exit Test (NEXT) has been conceptualised as a single test, which will act as a common final-year undergraduate medical exam and be used for granting medical licence as well as admission to postgraduate courses. It has been argued that a single exam is being accorded too much weightage, and it can have an adverse impact on the career of medical aspirants.
  7. The Bill allows the commission to “frame guidelines for determination of fees and all other charges in respect of fifty per cent of seats in private medical institutions and deemed to be universities”. This increases the number of seats for which private institutes will have the discretion to determine fees. At present, in such institutes, state governments decide fees for 85 per cent of the seats.

 Positive aspects of the bill:

Unlike MCI, the members of NMC will have to declare their assets at the time of assuming office and when they leave. They will also have to submit a conflict of interest declaration.

 Need of the hour:

If the government wanted to improve the health services in the rural areas then it should strengthen the existing paramedics. Nurses and midwives are trained for administering injections and similar functions and the government should try to tap this trained manpower. Primary care can be taken by these paramedics and only complex medical problems should be referred to a doctor with specialised knowledge. This kind of model has worked in other countries where doctors only treat complex problems.

 Challenges ahead:

  1. The primary issue in Indian healthcare is availability of doctors. Bulk of 78,000-odd doctors that pass out of medical colleges seem to find greater attraction in metros, not remote locations where trained, qualified and specialist clinicians are most needed.
  2. The second challenge involves addressing the issue of standardisation and high quality with uniformity across the country. While the bill seeks to address some of these issues, there remain unanswered questions on the design, definition and the transparent execution of the bill and some of its provisions.
  3. The fact that elected members to NMC itself and to its three principal bodies – committees on syllabus and curriculum, accreditation and medical ethics – can be inefficient, if not bad, there is still no guarantee that nominated persons will be any better.

 Background:

India has a doctor-population ratio of 1:1456 as compared with the WHO standards of 1:1000. In addition, there is a huge skew in the distribution of doctors working in the Urban and Rural areas with the urban to rural doctor density ratio being 3.8:1. Consequently, most of our rural and poor population is denied good quality care leaving them in the clutches of quacks. It is worth noting that at present 57.3% of personnel currently practicing allopathic medicine does not have a medical qualification.    

 

 

 

 

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GS-III :
GI tag gets Odisha’s Rasagola

GS-III: GI tag gets Odisha’s Rasagola

News

The Rasagola, a popular dessert of Odisha has received the geographical indication tag from the Registrar of Geographical Indication.

About Odisha’s Rasagola

  • The registration was conferred to ‘Odisha Rasagola’ under Section 16(I) or of authorized Section 17(3)(c) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999.
  • The GI number 612 has been registered in favour of the Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Limited), a government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti, a traders’ organisation, in the foodstuff category.
  • According to the application submitted to the Registrar of GI, ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is a sweet from the state of Odisha made of chhena (cottage cheese) cooked in sugar syrup.
  • Colour development of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is very specific, where without addition of external colour, various intensely-coloured rasagolas are prepared using the principle of caramelisation of sugar with specific methods of preparation.

Geographical Indications in India

  •  Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the WTO enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement.

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