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18 July, 2019

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GS-II :
India needs a free and independent media for its own well-being.

GS- II Paper : India needs a free and independent media for its own well-being.

Context

Journalists are facing heightened threats around the globe, according to the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters without Borders. 

Issue

 India’s rank fell by two places on global freedom press index to be ranked 140 out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters without Borders.

Index is topped by Norway, finds an increased sense of hostility towards journalists across the world.

About

  • Violence against journalists including police violence, reprisals by criminals groups or corrupt politicians is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of this index.
  • Six Indian Journalists were killed in the line of their work in 2018.
  • Hostility towards the media is a defining feature of hyper-nationalist politics in many countries.

        Background

    Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), or Reporters without Borders, is a     non-profit organization that works to document and combat attacks on journalists    around the world.

In its 2019 index, RSF finds that hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear around the world.

World  Freedom  Index  And  India:

For a country that prides itself on the strength of its democracy, India’s record in upholding the freedom of press has been consistently poor.

  • The physical violence against journalists is largely responsible for India’s low ranking.
  • Any investigative reporting that annoys the ruling party or any criticism of Hindutva, elicits a torrent of online insults and calls for the death of the reporter or writer responsible, most of it coming from the troll army.
  • Coverage of sensitive regions, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
How MGNREGA transformed into a monument of failure

GS-II Paper: How MGNREGA transformed into a monument of failure

Context

  • There is now a plethora of evidence that the economy has been cooling down over the last three years.
  • Official data was slow to pick up the trend, but data from private sources on indicators such as sales of consumer durables and automobiles clearly show that it is largely a result of declining demand, particularly in rural areas.
  • However, it was a missed opportunity, with no effort being made to increase spending in rural areas, except for the electoral promise of cash transfer to farmers.

Effect of decline in Allocation to MGNREGA

  • Also disappointing was the government’s approach in dealing with most rural development programmes.
  • These not only directly contribute to creating rural infrastructure and assets, but also indirectly help increase rural demand and employment. For most of these programmes, the budget expenditure was kept constant or lowered.
  • Of particular importance is the all-India scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Its budget allocation has fallen compared to the revised expenditure of last year, and is insufficient, given the wage-payment arrears.

Weakening of MGNREGA

  • The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) showed apathy towards the rural and agricultural sectors during its first term in government, and in many ways is continuing the flawed policies of the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
  • The UPA, which enacted MGNREGA and reaped political dividends for its successful rollout during its first term, contributed to the weakening of the programme as well as the changing of its basic character.
  • The government kept the budget allocation low and created administrative bottlenecks that stifled the programme. This trend has continued under the NDA.
  • This alliance also altered the basic character of the scheme.

Original Vision for MGNREGA

  • MGNREGA was envisaged as a provider of rural employment to casual workers at government-mandated minimum wages set above market wages.
  • This was the case at its 2006 launch.
  • The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) has been tracking wages received by casual workers employed under MGNREGA and private markets since 2007-08, when it introduced a separate category for MGNREGA work.
  • This has been retained even in the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the report of which was released recently.
  • In 2007-08, the second year of MGNREGA implementation, wages under the programme were 5% higher than market wages for rural male workers and 58% higher for rural female workers.
  • This was one of the reasons that the programme attracted almost 50% female workers, in contrast to the trend of declining female workforce participation since 2004-05.

Ineffective MGNREGA at present

  • However, the political slugfest and flawed policies of the government have led to a situation where MGNREGA, lacking of its original character is unable to provide a stimulus to the rural economy, despite the strong evidence of it having pushed up rural wages and incomes during the first five years of its implementation.
  • It also created rural infrastructure and provided much-needed employment to the country’s rural population.

Source: Live Mint

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GS-II :
How to make the Surrogacy Bill more inclusive?

GS-II Paper: How to make the Surrogacy Bill more inclusive?

The Surrogacy Bill (Regulation) Bill,2019

The Surrogacy Bill introduced by Harshvardhan in Lok Sabha.

What is Surrogacy Bill?

The bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.

Regulation of surrogacy

  • The bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy.
  • Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expense and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.
  • Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.

Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted

 Surrogacy is permitted when it is:

  • For intending couples who suffer from proven infertility.
  • Altruistic
  • Not for commercial purposes.
  • Not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation
  • For any condition or disease specified through regulations.

Eligibility criteria for intending couple

  • The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  • A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
  1. A certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board.
  2. An order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court.

Certificate of eligibility

  •  The couple being Indian citizens and married for atleast 5 years.
  • Between 23 to 50 years for wife and 26 to 55 years for husband.
  • They do not have surviving child( biological,adopted or surrogate) .
  • This would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from like threatening disorder or fatal illness.

 Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother

  • A close relative of the intending couple .
  • Married woman having a child of her own.
  • 25 to 35 years .
  • Surrogate only once in her lifetime.

Registration of surrogacy clinics

  • Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.
  • Clinics must aplly for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Floor Test

GS-II: Floor Test

News

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea filed for an immediate floor test in Karnataka Assembly.

What is a floor test?

  • A floor test is primarily taken to know whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
  • It is a constitutional mechanism under which a Chief Minister appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • As per the Constitution, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor of the state.
  • When a single party secures the majority of the seats in the house, the Governor appoints the leader of the party as the Chief Minister.
  • In case the majority is questioned, the leader of the party which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting.
  • The Chief Minister has to resign if they fail to prove their majority in the house. This happens both in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies.
  • In situations when there are differences within a coalition government, the Governor can ask the Chief Minister to prove majority in the house.

What is composite floor test?

  • There is another test, Composite Floor Test, which is conducted only when more than one person stakes claim to form the government.
  • When the majority is not clear, the governor might call for a special session to see who has the majority.
  • The majority is counted based on those present and voting. This can also be done through a voice vote where the member can respond orally or through division voting.
  • Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote.
  • In division vote, voting can be done through electronic gadgets, ballots or slips.
  • The person who has the majority will form the government. In case of tie, the speaker can also cast his vote.

Governors’ discretion

When no party gets a clear majority, the governor can use his discretion in the selection of chief ministerial candidate to prove the majority as soon as possible.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III :
The Terrorist tag

GS-III: The Terrorist tag

News

India needs tough laws to combat terror, but the proposed amendments could be misused. The idea of designating an individual as terrorist , as the latest amendments to the Unlawful Activities(Prevention)Act. However ,designating an individual as a terrorist raises serious constitutional questions and has the potential for misuse there is  no set procedure for designating an individual a terrorist.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill,2019

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill,2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha.
  • The bill amends the Unlawful Activities(Prevention) act,1967.
  • The act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

 Features of the Bill

Who may commit terrorism

 Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:

(i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism

(ii) Prepares for terrorism.

 (iii) Promotes terrorism.

 (iv) Is otherwise involved in terrorism. 

The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.  

Approval for seizure of property by NIA

If the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of properties that may be connected with terrorism.

Investigation by NIA

 Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.  The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).  The Bill adds another treaty to the list.  This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Source: The Hindu

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