29 July, 2019

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The limits of anti-defection

GS-II Paper: The limits of anti-defection


  • The political crisis that began in Karnataka with the resignation of 15 MLAs that took five days and multiple missed deadlines to be put to vote
  • This underscored the tortuous working of India’s anti-defection law and threw up a range of associated legal and constitutional questions.
  • The incident calls for an interpretation of the three provisions of the Constitution: Article 190 (vacation of seats), Article 164 (1B), and the Xth schedule of the Constitution.

Anti-Defection Law

The Tenth Schedule of Indian Constitution is popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act. Original constitution had no such provisions. It was included in the Constitution in 1985 by the Rajiv Gandhi government. The main intent of the law was to deter “the evil of political defections” by legislators motivated by the lure of office or other similar considerations.

Grounds for disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law

  • If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party;
  • If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.

As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident.

The 2003 Amendment

  • The last step in the legislative journey of the anti-defection law came in 2003.
  • A Constitution Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament by the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address some of the issues with the law.
  • A committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee examined the Bill.

Pranab Mukherjee Comittee Observations

  • It is observed that the lure of office of profit plays dominant part in the political horse-trading resulting in spate of defections and counter defections.
  • The one-third split provision which offered protection to defectors was deleted from the law on the committee’s recommendation.
  • The 2003 Amendment also incorporated the 1967 advice of the Y B Chavan committee in limiting the size of the Council of Ministers, and preventing defecting legislators from joining the Council of Ministers until their re-election.


  • The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides.
  • However, this law also restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate.
  • Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.
  • The long drawn-out events in the Karnataka Vidhan Sabha have shown that even after three decades, the anti-defection law has not been able to stop political defections.

Source: Indian Express

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Having the last word on ‘population control’.

GS II Paper: Having the last word on ‘population control’.


There should be a clear understanding that offering choices and services rather than outright state control works best.

On 11 July, World Population Day , a union Minister expressed alarm over population explosion in the country, wanting all political parties to enact population control laws and declare the voting rights invalid of those having more than two children. Third child policy should not be allowed to vote and enjoy facilities provided by the government.

Scars of the past

  • The damage done when mishandling issues of population growth is long lasting.
  • Men used to be part of the family planning initiatives but after the excess of forced sterilisations ,they continue to remain completely out of family planning programmes even today.
  • The government now mostly work with women and child health programmes.

Policy of choice

  • National population policy was introduced in 2000 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.
  • The essence of the policy was the government’s commitment to voluntary and informed choice and consent of citizens while availing of reproductive health care services” ailing with “target free approach in administering family planning services”.

Crucial Connections

  • National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) women in the lowest wealth quintile have an average of 1.6 more children than women in the highest wealth quintile translating to a fertility rate of 3.2 children while 1.5 children moving from the wealthiest to the poor.
  • The number of children per women declines with a woman’s level of schooling.
  • Women with no chooling have an average 3.1 children ,compared with 1.7 children for women with 12 or more years of schooling.

Source: The Hindu

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The makings of a digital Kleptocracy

GS-II : The makings of a digital Kleptocracy


  • There has been public furore over the delay in the release of data, for example farmer suicides, suppression of data such as on employment, bungled migration data in the Census, and controversy over the methodology used to calculate GDP growth rates.
  • These data are the backbone of policy making in India.

Suggested Use of data

  • These three — information obtained through the RTI Act, administrative data and data collected by the statistical machinery of government — are examples of “data as a public good”.
  • Instead, its focus is on the expanding digital footprint of people, falling costs of data generation and storage and the growing data mining industry.
  • The thrust is on how to monetise these data, for example by selling data that we share with the government in trust.

Problems with Data usage


  • Somewhere along the line, your mobile number and/or email ID got sold in the data market.
  • Even as most of us delete these, others get trapped.
  • A former Chief Justice of India was duped of ?1 lakh recently as a result of a fraudulent email.
  • In Mumbai, identity fraud was perpetrated by accessing personal data (address, phone number and Aadhaar).

.2. Similar treatment like public services

  • The Survey treats personal data (such as date of birth, mobile numbers and addresses) the same way as data on rainfall, temperatures and road networks.
  • In the examples above, the fraudsters had to get access to people’s data. The Survey is proposing that these be sold for a price.
  • Imagine the consequences of your health data being sold to private health insurance companies or your data on your earnings being sold, or data being used in the way Cambridge Analytica did.

Other faultlines

If data can be toxic, centralising and consolidating it, as advocated by the Survey, increases its toxicity exponentially.

1.Centralising the data –

  • Contrary to the widely advocated principle of decentralised/disaggregated data silos as a first line of defence by data security experts, the Survey portrays decentralisation as an obstacle.
  • With decentralised data, data mining companies employ sophisticated tools to combine distinct data silos to create profiles of individuals.
  • Consolidating it, for example if a unique number such as Aadhaar links them, reduces the company costs for profiling and targeting.

2. Without Consent

  • Often they are collected and shared without our consent or knowledge, for example, CCTVs or web browsing histories.
  • When our data are used by opaque algorithms to make crucial decisions about our lives, such as shortlisting for jobs, getting health insurance or whether you were speeding, we cannot question them.

Case study of Aadhar

  • Given the government’s track record on Aadhaar, these laws are unlikely to protect citizen’s rights adequately.
  • Further, privacy and data protection laws will face unique implementation challenges in India.
  • This is on account of low levels of tech-digital and legal literacy combined with pre-existing social inequalities which directly bear upon power relations between us (as citizens/consumers) and them (government/corporations).


  • Even where such laws have been put in place, those societies/economies are grappling with the fallout of corporations whose practices can best be described as “digital kleptocracy”.
  • The literature documents unscrupulous use of algorithms to identify vulnerable targets such as search histories of single African American mothers in the United States that are used to sell them home or education loans which it is clear they are unlikely to be able to repay.
  • Thus, digital kleptocracy is a means by which rich tech companies mine poor people’s data,in fact, steal in most cases the person is unaware of their data being harvested and used for profit.

Source: The Hindu

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International Tiger Day

GS-III: International Tiger Day


Global Tiger Day, often called International Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July.

It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.

The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

India has achieved the target of doubling tiger population four years before the 2022 deadline

Concerns and Challenges

  • India has one of the lowest per capita forest areas in the world. Forests as carbon sinks are deemed to be a major mean of controlling climate change. Depletion of forests is responsible for reduction of tiger habitats.
  • Reduced food base: As forestlands fall to development projects, habitable land for animals that make for the tiger’s food base are also reduced.
  • Poaching: Another issue that has hindered tiger conservation in India and globally is poaching, which will persist as long as there is an illegal market for tiger body parts.
  • Climate change: Rising sea level as a result of climate change is on the verge of wiping out Sundarbans, one of the last remaining habitats of the Bengal tigers.

All India Tiger Estimation

  • The tiger count is prepared after every four years by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) provides details on the number of tigers in the 18 tiger reign states with 50 tiger reserves.
  • However, this time the census also included data collected from the rough terrains of north-eastern states which was not possible due to logistic constrains before.
  • The entire exercise spanned over four years is considered to be world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage and intensity of sampling.
  • Over 15, 000 cameras were installed at various strategic points to capture the movement of tigers. This was supported by extensive data collected by field personnel and satellite mapping.
  • Taking a step further, authorities have attempted to digitize the records by mandating the use of a GIS based app called M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) developed by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India.

Way Forward

There are several infrastructure projects that will cut through tiger corridors and habitats. The future of the big cat is uncertain if we continue to violate their habitat. Unless tigers have inviolate habitats where they can breed and flourish and there are corridors linking these breeding populations, we are isolating tigers in very small reserves which is fatal in the long run.

Source: The Hindu

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TOI 270


TOI 270

  • It is the name of the dwarf star and the planetary system recently discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
  • TOI 270 is about 73 light years away from Earth, and is located in the constellation Pictor.
  • Its members include the dwarf star, which is 40 per cent smaller than the Sun in size and mass, and the three planets or exoplanets (planets outside the solar system) that have been named TOI 270 b, TOI 270 c, and TOI 270 d.
  • These three planets orbit the star every 3.4 days, 5.7 days, and 11.4 days respectively. In this system, TOI 270 b is the innermost planet.

Nature of the planets

  • Researchers expect it to be a rocky world about 25 per cent bigger than Earth.
  • It is not habitable since it is located too close to the star — about 13 times closer than our Solar System’s Mercury is from the Sun.
  • On the other hand, TOI 270 c and TOI 270 d are Neptune-like planets because their compositions are dominated by gases rather than rock.
  • Planet d, which is suspected to have a rocky core covered by a thick atmosphere, offers a surface unfavourably warm for the existence of liquid water, thereby rendering the planet potentially uninhabitable.

About Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

  • TESS is NASA’s latest satellite to search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.
  • The mission will spend the next two years monitoring the nearest and brightest stars for periodic dips in their light.
  • TESS is expected to transmit its first series of science data back to Earth in August, and thereafter periodically every 13.5 days, once per orbit, as the spacecraft makes it closest approach to Earth.
  • These events, called transits, suggest that a planet may be passing in front of its star.

Source: Indian Express

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