09 September, 2019
0 Min Read
|GS-II||Criticizing executive, judiciary and bureaucracy cannot be called sedition: SC Judge|
|Ration Card Portability|
|Throttled at the grass roots.|
|Privatizing public sector banks||Economic Issues|
GS-II: Criticizing executive, judiciary and bureaucracy cannot be called sedition: SC Judge
Justice Deepak Gupta, judge of Supreme Court, opined about the chilling effect caused by sedition law on legitimate criticism on the organs of state. As citizens, Indians have the right to criticize the government, and criticism cannot be construed as sedition, he said, adding that stifling such criticism will make us a police state.
Sedition and Right to dissent
Why is dissent important?
Every society has its own rules, and over a period of time, when people stick to only age-old rules and conventions, the society degenerates; it doesn’t develop.
New thinkers are born when they disagree with well-accepted norms of the society. If everybody follows the well-trodden path, no new paths will be created and no new vistas of the mind will be found.
A right to expression
He said that in a secular country such as India, a non-believer, an atheist, an agnostic, ritualistic or a spiritualist person all has the right to expression.
When we talk of dissent, it reminds of Justice H R Khanna in the habeas corpus case.
That dissent is more important than any decision that may have come before or after it. Today, it is the rule of law.
Judiciary not above criticism
GS-II: Ration Card Portability
The government is showcasing the rollout of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme as one of the biggest achievements of its first 100 days in power.The launch of the nationwide food security net is scheduled for June 2020, but several challenges remain before migrants can take advantage of full portability.
A ration card is issued to the head of the family, depending on the number of members in a family and the financial status of the applicant.
It is used by households to get essential food grains at subsidised prices from designated ration shops (also called fair price shops) under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
Over the years, different types of ration cards were issued depending on the level of deprivation.
Later, in 2013, when the National Food Security Bill was passed, different ration cards were compressed to just two priority and Antyodaya (for the most poor).
One Nation One Ration Card scheme
Beneficiaries of the scheme
The main beneficiaries of the scheme are the country’s migrant workers.
According to data from the Census 2011, there are more than 45 crore internal migrants in India, of whom more than half have not completed primary education, while 80% have not completed secondary education.
Registering for ration cards at their new location is an arduous process, especially if some members of the household still remain in their original home.
What is needed to make it work?
The scheme involves the creation of a central repository of NFSA beneficiaries and ration cards, which will integrate the existing databases maintained by States, UTs and the Centre.
Aadhaar seeding is also important as the unique biometric ID will be used to authenticate and track the usage of ration by beneficiaries anywhere in the country.
Currently, it is estimated that around 85% of ration cards are linked to Aadhaar numbers.
For the scheme to work, it is critical that all fair price shops are equipped with electronic point-of-sale machines (ePoS), replacing the old method of manual record-keeping of transactions with a digital real-time record.
Progress so far
GS-II: Throttled at the grass roots.
25 years after the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, very little actual progress has been made in this direction. Local governments remain hamstrung and ineffective; mere agents to do the bidding of higher-level governments.
About 32 lakh peoples’ representatives are elected every five years to the local bodies.
Devolution is not mere delegation. It implies that governance functions are assigned by law to local governments, along with adequate transfer of financial grants, taxes, and staff so that they carry out their responsibilities.
Local governments are to report primarily to their voters, and not so much to higher-level departments.
The Constitution mandates that panchayats and municipalities shall be elected every five years.
States are mandated to devolve functions and responsibilities to them through law.
Issues remain – Finance
The volume of money set apart for them is inadequate to meet their basic requirements.
Much of the money given is inflexible; even in the case of untied grants mandated by the Union and State Finance Commissions, their use is constrained through the imposition of several conditions.
Local governments do not have the staff to perform even basic tasks.
As most staff are hired by higher-level departments and placed with local governments on deputation, they do not feel responsible for the latter; they function as part of a vertically integrated departmental system.
Problems with centralisation
A decentralisation is always a messy form of democracy, but it is far better than the operation of criminal politicians at a higher level. We can keep track of corrupt local government representatives; at a higher level, we will never know the extent of dirty deals that happen.
Gram sabhas and wards committees in urban areas have to be revitalised.
Consultations with the grama sabha could be organised through smaller discussions where everybody can really participate.
Even new systems of Short Message Services or social media groups could be used for facilitating discussions between members of grama sabha.
GS-III: Nilgiri Tahr
In more good news for the State animal, the Nilgiri tahr, its sightings in the Mukurthi National Park have risen from 568 in 2018 to 612 this year.
Why a good news?
There was a decrease in tahr numbers in 2017, when a population of only 438 was recorded, down from 480 in 2016.
This was the second consecutive year that an increase in the population of the animal had been recorded in the park, meaning the population of the Nilgiri tahr, also known as the Nilgiri ibex, has risen by 132 since 2016.
IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered
The Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) aka the Nilgiri ibex or simply ibex.
It is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Southern India.
It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu.
The Nilgiri tahr inhabits the open montane grassland habitat of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests eco-region.
At elevations from 1,200 to 2,600 metres (3,900 to 8,500 ft), the forests open into grasslands interspersed with pockets of stunted forests, locally known as sholas.
Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population of this Tahr.
GS-III: Privatizing public sector banks
Former RBI governor D. Subbarao raised the question of whether India needs public sector banks at all in this day and age.
Reasons for privatization
Problem with interest rate benchmarking:
Cause for privatization
The sector’s health requires banks to assess and price risks properly. For this, bankers need to act diligently in the interest of profit-seeking shareholders. This would be better enabled by privatization.
Challenges with privatization
With all the challenges above, the state could argue it needs to retain ownership control as well. Immediately, at least the appointment of public sector bank chiefs must be freed of state control.
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