19 November, 2019

17 Min Read

Representation in Rajya Sabha

Syllabus subtopic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

News: On the occasion of its 250th session, Rajya Sabha MPs have made the following suggestions:

  1. Giving all States, irrespective of their population and size, an equal number of seats in the Rajya Sabha.
  2. All members, irrespective of their parties’ strength in the House, the same amount of time to speak in debates.

Prelims focus: Rajya Sabha- elections, composition and functions.

Mains focus: significance of Rajya sabha, issues, challenges and solutions.

Need for Rajya Sabha:

  1. The Upper House of the Indian Parliament traces its direct history to the first bicameral legislature introduced in British India in 1919 as a consequence of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.
  2. Unlike the US Senate which ensures equal representation for all federal units (each state having two representatives), India’s Rajya Sabha does have more members from populous states.
  3. Even though Indian states are ‘mere administrative units’ which don’t enjoy a constitutionally-assured permanence, their continued existence over all these years and the constitutional separation of power has given them the nature of autonomous units in their own spheres. Therefore, the ‘state-wise’ identity cannot be ruled out completely.
  4. India’s Rajya Sabha has equal powers to the Lok Sabha except for money bills, where it has no jurisdiction.

Arguements that favour abolishing Rajya Sabha

  1. The contemporary argument against it comes from two primary angles:
  2. The first one suggests that a Lok Sabha that has representation from several regional parties more than adequately represents a federal country.
  3. The second argument charges that the Rajya Sabha has become a haven for losers in elections, crony capitalists, compromised journalists and party fundraisers.

What can be done?

It is virtually impossible to abolish the Rajya Sabha without adopting a new Indian Constitution. The bicameral nature of the Indian Parliament is likely to be interpreted as a “basic structure” of the Indian Constitution, rendering it incapable of being amended. Even if this were to be tested, it would be ensnared in a judicial process for a very long time. It is much more practical to try and reform the Rajya Sabha than seeking to abolish it.

Reforms needed:

  1. Have members of the Rajya Sabha be directly elected by the citizens of a state. This will reduce cronyism and patronage appointments.
  2. This step should be combined with equal representation for each state (say, five members) so that large states do not dominate the proceedings in the House.
  3. This streamlined Rajya Sabha should remain deliberative, but there should be deadlines set for responding to bills initiated in the Lok Sabha.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : Haryana
Haryana’s Panchayati Raj amendment

Syllabus subtopic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

News: The Haryana Cabinet has taken an in-principle decision to bring an amendment in Section 31 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, allowing devolution of powers to the Gram Sabha to ban liquor within the local area of a Gram Panchayat.

  • The quorum of the Gram Sabha meeting for passing such a resolution shall be one-tenth of its members.

Prelims focus: About panchayati raj

Mains focus: Issues associated with their functioning, need for more powers.

About Gram sabha

  • The term Gram Sabha is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b).
  • Gram Sabha is the primary body of the Panchayati Raj system and by far the largest.
  • It is a permanent body.
  • The power to annul a decision of the Gram Sabha rests with the Gram Sabha only.


  1. Persons, those who are above 18 years of age.
  2. Living in the village.
  3. Whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.

Powers and functions:

Constitution mentions that Gram Sabha exercises such powers and performs such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

Important and specific functions of Gram Sabha:

  1. To help implementation of the development programmes and schemes of the Panchayat.
  2. To identify beneficiaries for different programmes and schemes. However, if the Gram Sabha fails to identify such beneficiaries within a reasonable time, the Gram Panchayat shall identify the beneficiaries.
  3. To solicit support — in cash or kind or both and voluntary labour — from the public for community welfare programmes.
  4. To support the programmes of mass education and family welfare.
  5. To promote unity and harmony among all sections of the society in the village.
  6. To seek clarification from the Mukhiya, Up-Mukhiya and other members of the Gram Panchayat about any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure.
  7. To discuss and recommend appropriate action with regard to reports of the Vigilance Committee.
  8. Other related matters brought to the notice of the Gram Sabha.
  9. To consider levy of taxes, rates, rents & fees & enhancement of rates thereof.
  10. To consider all such matters as may be referred by the Gram Panchayat for its decision.

Source: The Hindu

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Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

News: According to a survey, the PMMVY has been able to reach less than a third of the eligible beneficiaries.

Prelims and Mains focus: Key Highlights of the PMMVY, funding and beneficiaries, challenges present and ways to address them.

Key concerns:

  1. The scheme has failed to reach at least 49% of all mothers who would have delivered their first child (an estimated total of 123 lakh for 2017 according to the researchers).
  2. Given the stipulated conditions, the scheme brings under its ambit 23% of all births and pays full benefits to a mere 14% of all births, which was at 270.5 lakh for 2017.
  3. Only 66% of pregnant women and 69% of nursing women knew about the scheme. Only 8% of pregnant women and 23% of nursing mothers received some benefits.

Challenges in implementing the scheme:

  1. An application form of about 23 pages, a slew of documents such as mother-child protection card, Aadhaar card, husband’s Aadhaar card and bank passbook aside from linking their bank accounts with Aadhaar.
  2. The requirement to produce the husband’s Aadhaar card results in excluding women who may be living with men they are not married to, single mothers and those who may be staying at their natal home.
  3. Women must also have the address of their marital home on their Aadhaar card, which often results in newly weds being either left out or forced to go from door-to-door when pregnant and needing rest and care.

About PMMVY:

  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010.
  • The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women.
  • It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.
  • They receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three instalments on fulfilling the respective conditionality, viz. early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.
  • The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.

Exceptions: The maternity benefits are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

Funding: The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

Way ahead:

Under-nutrition continues to adversely affect majority of women in India. In India, every third woman is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic.

An undernourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle since the changes are largely irreversible.

Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right up to the last days of their pregnancy.

They resume working soon after childbirth, even though their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impeding their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.

Source: The HIndu

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Why Satellite Internet is the New Space Race

Syllabus subtopic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

News: SpaceX, the world’s leading private company in space technology, has launched 60 satellites into the low earth orbit, under the Starlink network project

Prelims focus: Different orbits, about the Starlink network project.

Mains focus: Significance of the project and challenges present.

About Starlink Project:

  • The Starlink network is one of several ongoing efforts to start beaming data signals from space.

  • Under the project, the company intends to evolve into a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites.

  • The aim is to provide low-cost and reliable space-based Internet services to the world.

  • The project announced in 2015, has now 122 satellites in the orbit.

Significance of the project:

The project ensures that reliable and uninterrupted Internet services are universally available in every part of the globe.

  • Currently, about 4 billion people, more than half the world’s population, do not have access to reliable Internet networks.
  • And that is because the traditional ways to deliver the Internet — fibre-optic cables or wireless networks — cannot take it everywhere on Earth.
  • In many remote areas, or places with difficult terrain, it is not feasible or viable to set up cables or mobile towers.
  • Signals from satellites in space can overcome this obstacle easily.

Why use low earth orbit (LEO) instead of geostationary?

Geostationary orbit is located at a height of 35,786 km over the Earth’s surface, directly above the Equator. Satellites in this orbit move at speeds of about 11,000 km per hour, and complete one revolution of the Earth in the same time that the earth rotates once on its axis. To the observer on the ground, therefore, a satellite in geostationary orbit appears stationary.

Advantages: Signals from geostationary orbit can cover a very large part of the Earth. Signals from one satellite can cover roughly a third of the planet — and three to four satellites would be enough to cover the entire Earth. Also, because they appear to be stationary, it is easier to link to them.


  • There is a time lag — called latency — between a user seeking data, and the server sending that data.
  • And because data transfers cannot happen faster than the speed of light (in reality, they take place at significantly lower speeds), the longer the distance that needs to be covered the greater is the time lag, or latency.
  • A transmission from a satellite in geostationary orbit has a latency of about 600 milliseconds.

How low earth orbit seeks to solve this issue?

A satellite in the lower orbit, 200-2,000 km from the Earth’s surface, can bring the lag down to 20-30 milliseconds, roughly the time it takes for terrestrial systems to transfer data.

Concerns over LEOs:

Owing to their lower height, their signals cover a relatively small area. As a result, many more satellites are needed in order to reach signals to every part of the planet.

Other issues include: Increased space debris, increased risk of collisions, and the concern of astronomers that these constellations of space Internet satellites will make it difficult to observe other space objects, and to detect their signals.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III : Economic Issues Others
IMD World Talent Ranking- 2019

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

News: The 2019 World Talent Ranking was released.

Prelims focus: About the rankings

Mains focus: Issues and concerns highlighted by the report.

About the rankings:

  • It is released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). IMD is a business education school based in Switzerland.

  • The ranking is based on the performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.

Performance of countries:

  • The top of the table is still led by European small and mid-size economies. These countries all share high levels of investments in education and a superior quality of life.
  • Switzerland in the first and Denmark in the second position firmly lead the ranking for the seventh year in a row, followed by Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg.

India’s performance:

  1. India has slipped 6 places to 59 rank.
  2. This is due to low quality of life and expenditure on education.
  3. India is also lagging behind fellow BRICs countries – China ranked 42nd on the list, Russia (47th) and South Africa (50th).
  4. India also witnessed one of the sharpest declines among Asian economies owing to low quality of life, negative impact of brain drain, and the low priority of its economy on attracting and retaining talents.
  5. The drop is a combination of several factors including expenditure on education (per student) and the quality of education which may be linked to the GDP growth.
  6. There are other issues such as the effectiveness of the health system and women’s participation in the labour force.

Source: Indian Express

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