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Daily News Analysis 23-07-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

India protested US sales: Sushma (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     The govt said India has conveyed concerns to the US over its approval of military sales including attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles worth nearly a billion dollars to Pakistan.

2.

Mandarin lessons for ITBP (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     Taking forward its intention to avoid any conflict at the Line of Actual Control, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force is not only making its men well-versed in Mandarin, but also giving them lessons in the Tibetan language.

3.

No pressure from India on Port City project (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The Sri Lankan government denied reports that the Indian government is exerting pressure on it to stall the $1.4 billion Colombo Port City Project.

4.

US air strike kills al-Qaeda leader in Syria (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     The Pentagon said that US-led coalition air strike earlier this month killed the leader of an al-Qaeda off-shoot in Syria that American officials accuse of planning attacks against the US and its allies.

5.

RS panel backs majority of GST Bill proposals (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Though the Opposition forced adjournments in both Houses of Parliament, the chances of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill (meant to introduce the Goods and Services Tax) clearing Parliament in the current session brightened, with the Rajya Sabha Select Committee endorsing almost all its provisions.

6.

An atonement gone too far? (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)    The radical nature of judicial intervention along with the sweeping nature of orders against governments gives rise to irresistible inference that public interest litigation was the Supreme Courts way of atonement for its genuflection before government during the Emergency.

7.

Privacy not a right, Aadhaar legit: Centre (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

a)     Facing the question of whether making a citizen part with vital personal data under the Aadhaar scheme does not amount to intrusion of privacy, the Centre replied in the Supreme Court that privacy was not a Fundamental Right.

8.

A case for mercy (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The rejection by the Supreme Court of a curative petition by Yakub Abdul Razak Memon (the only one sentenced to death for involvement in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts) marks the exhaustion of his last judicial remedy.

9.

Rural electrification scheme to be launched on July 25 (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, PM Modi will launch the governments flagship Deendayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Programme on July 25 in Patna.

10.

Time  to  abolish  the  MRP (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The fixed maximum retail price is an outdated and dysfunctional mechanism that hurts both retailers and the consumers it seeks to protect.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

India protested US sales: Sushma (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     US aid to Pakistan

c)     Chinas aid to Pakistan

d)     China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

e)     Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK)

a)     The govt said India has conveyed concerns to US over its approval of military sales including attack helicopters and Hellfire missiles worth nearly a billion dollars to Pakistan.

b)     In a written reply to a question in Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma said India had noted the State Departments decision to go ahead with the defence sales, which were announced in April this year. The sales included 15 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 1000 Hellfire missiles, engines, targeting and positioning systems and other equipment worth $952 million.

c)     The decision to arm Pakistan was particularly upsetting as President Obama had announced an aid outlay of $1 billion for the year, as well as a six-fold increase in Foreign Military Financing to $265 million within days of visiting India in January this year.

d)     India also took up Chinas announcement of a $46 billion package for the CPEC, that included funding development projects in PoK when PM Modi met Premier Li in Beijing in May, and Sushma had raised concerns over the Russian offer of Mi-35 helicopters to Pakistan when she met Deputy PM Rogozin in 2014.

2.

Mandarin lessons for ITBP (Page 13)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Line of Actual Control (LAC)

d)     Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF)

 

a)   Taking forward its intention to avoid any conflict at LAC, the ITBPF is not only making its men well-versed in Mandarin, but also giving them lessons in the Tibetan language.

b)     For first time, a Chinese Language Cell has been created at ITBP Academy in Mussoorie to teach Mandarin. Official said this is primarily being done to bridge communication gap between our men and the Chinese PLA.

c)     On many occasions, there has been friction between the Chinese PLA and the ITBP personnel due to a lack of understanding of each others language.

d)     Language barrier was an obstacle during various meetings with Chinese PLA. The need to learn Tibetan stemmed from the fact that a large number of locals move around in the vicinity of LAC.

3.

No pressure from India on Port City project (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas Colombo Port City Project

b)     Chinese projects in Sri Lanka

c)     Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

a)   The Sri Lankan government denied reports that the Indian government is exerting pressure on it to stall the $1.4 billion Colombo Port City Project.

b)     According to the Indian High Commission in Colombo, the previous and the present Sri Lankan governments are aware of our views on the project.

c)     In March, a week ahead of Indian PM Modis visit to Sri Lanka, the govt ordered the suspension of the project. Three months later, the Central Environmental Authority had been directed to commence immediately a complete EIA of the project.

4.

US air strike kills al-Qaeda leader in Syria (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Al-Qaeda

b)     Khorasan group

c)     US National Counterterrosim Centre

d)     UNSCs al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee

a)     The Pentagon said that US-led coalition air strike earlier this month killed the leader of an al-Qaeda off-shoot in Syria that American officials accuse of planning attacks against the US and its allies.

b)     Muhsin al-Fadhli was allegedly the leader of the Khorasan Group, a group of senior al-Qaeda members who have travelled from Central Asia and elsewhere in West Asia to Syria to plan attacks on the West.

c)     Officials said his death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the US and its allies and partners.

d)     The US National Counterterrosim Centre has said he had become al-Qaedas senior leader in Iran. The UNSCs al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee cited him in 2005 for his role in planning, facilitating and financing al-Qaeda attacks.

5.

RS panel backs majority of GST Bill proposals (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Goods and Services Tax (GST)

b)     Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill

c)     Rajya Sabha Select Committee

d)     Lok Sabha

e)     Parliament

 

a)     Though the Opposition forced adjournments in both Houses of Parliament, the chances of Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill (meant to introduce the GST) clearing Parliament in current session brightened, with Rajya Sabha Select Committee endorsing almost all its provisions.

b)     The Bill (which the Lok Sabha has already approved) will now have to be taken up for passage in the Rajya Sabha. As it is a Constitution amendment Bill, it will have to be approved by two-thirds of the members in Upper House, where the ruling BJP does not enjoy a majority. The govt will have to depend upon support of regional parties and allies.

c)   In its dissent note, Congress demanded that a provision capping GST rate at 18 percent be added to the Bill to insulate consumers (especially the poor) from any unfair burden. The Congress opposed the plan to allow States to levy 1 percent additional manufacturing tax.

d)  Significantly, the committee rejected Oppositions demand for lowering the Centres say in GST Council. It recommended that the representation in this decision-making body be retained at the proposed level of one-third of total for the Centre and two-thirds for the States.

e)     On the States demand for the levy of 1 percent additional tax over and above the GST on inter-State supply of goods, the committee recommended an amendment. As the proposed levy was likely to have a cascading effect on taxes, it should be on all forms of supply made for consideration.

6.

An atonement gone too far? (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)

b)     Judicial independence

c)     Judicial review

d)     Fundamental rights

e)     Article 21

f)     Article 359 of the Constitution

g)     Supreme Court

a)     In ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case, the Supreme Court of India held in the height of the Emergency that detenus under the MISA could not approach judiciary if their fundamental rights were violated. Not only was the law laid down unconscionable, but it also struck of a Court more executive-minded than the executive, complicit in its own independence being shattered by an all-powerful government.

b)     So deep has been the impact of this judgment that the Supreme Courts current activist avatar is widely viewed as having its genesis in a continuing need to atone. Expressions of such atonement have created another Court made to measure - this time not to the measure of the govt but rather the increased self-image of some of its judges.

c)     In ADM Jabalpur, the four judges in the majority handed down a judgment that was faulty in law. Given that the consequences of their error were entirely to the govts advantage, it was widely viewed as the death of an independent judiciary.

d)     The legal question before the Court was whether as a consequence of a presidential order suspending fundamental right to life and personal liberty (Article 21) during operation of the Emergency under Article 359 of the Constitution, detenus (who had been put behind bars under the provisions of MISA without any reasons being provided) could challenge their detentions as unlawful in a court of law.

e)     The majority held that Article 21 of the Constitution that had been suspended was the sole repository of life, personal liberty and judicial review in Constitution. Further, that the rule of law in an Emergency would be entirely what the govt said it should.

f)     On both counts, the judges were entirely mistaken. While it is an arguable proposition whether there is a right to life and personal liberty in natural law, (outside the Constitution) there can be no debate on the proposition that the power of judicial review, i.e. the power of Supreme Court to examine the legality of executive action does not depend on Article 21.

g)     Thus, whether a detention order under MISA was validly issued in terms of statute itself is a question that the Court must remain competent to adjudicate on notwithstanding emergency at hand. In legal terms, the rule of ultra vires (that the act of govt cannot go beyond the power vested in it by the legislature) is hardly a creature of Article 21; it is a principle of common law that predates the Constitution.

h)     Second, as a court of law, the Supreme Court was called upon in this case to balance the interest of public order in an Emergency with the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed to every person. 9 High Courts called upon to perform the same function had found a nuanced answer by which they had held that the right to life cannot be absolutely subservient to public order only because the govt declared so. However, Supreme Court reversed this view and made right to life and personal liberty literally reward of govt.

i)   Noted scholars have inferred that the Supreme Courts activist avatar in the 40 years since and particularly prominent today, can directly be traced to this dark episode in its history. Coupled with the sweeping nature of orders against elected govts, the radical nature of the judicial intervention makes the inference irresistible that public interest litigation was the Courts clever and humanist atonement for its genuflection before govt during Emergency.

j)     Today, while public interest litigation has restored the independent image of the Supreme Court, it has achieved this at cost of quality, discipline and constitutional role judges are expected to perform. The Court monitors criminal trials, protects environment, regulates political advertising, lays down norms for sexual harassment in the workplace, sets guidelines for adoption, supervises police reform among a range of other tasks of govt.

k)   Finally, the Courts activism adds to a massive backlog of regular cases that makes Indian justice delivery mechanism slow, unreliable and inefficient for the ordinary litigant. As on March 1 2015, there were over 61,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court alone. It might be worthwhile for the Court to set its own house in order, collaterally with telling other wings of govt how to do so.

7.

Privacy not a right, Aadhaar legit: Centre (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     National

a)     Aadhaar scheme

b)     Right to Privacy

c)     Fundamental rights

 

a)     Facing the question of whether making a citizen part with vital personal data under the Aadhaar scheme does not amount to intrusion of privacy, the Centre replied in the Supreme Court that privacy was not a Fundamental Right.

b)     Attorney-General Rohatgi said the right to privacy had been a vague concept all these years, a subject of varying conclusions from the Supreme Court. He quoted a majority 1962 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Kharak Singh case that held that privacy was not a guaranteed right under the Constitution.

c)     The submissions came during the hearing of a batch of petitions seeking to stop the implementation of the scheme. A petitioner said that iris scans, fingerprinting and so on for registering for Aadhaar are an invasion of privacy.

8.

A case for mercy (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Death penalty

b)     Mercy petition

c)     Curative petition

d)     Mumbai serial blasts 1993

e)     Supreme court

a)     The rejection by Supreme Court of a curative petition by Yakub Abdul Razak Memon (the only one sentenced to death for involvement in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts) marks the exhaustion of his last judicial remedy. However, hanging him will be cruel and inhuman, for more than one reason.

b)     With the masterminds Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon (Yakubs brother) remaining out of the reach of Indian authorities, it will only give the impression that the lone man available among the many brains behind the horrible act of terrorism is being singled out. The other 10 men who had planted explosives were also handed down death sentence by Designated Court, but Supreme Court commuted those to life.

c)     As he made financial and travel arrangements for other accused who later planted the explosives, it said Yakub held a commanding position. He cant escape consequences of his role, but whether hanging him will be appropriate punishment is something to be studied over.

d)   In the overall circumstances of case, it is certainly debatable whether Yakub Memons case would fall in the category of the rarest of the rare cases the Supreme Court itself laid down would merit the death penalty.

e)  Yakubs upcoming execution on July 30 may not take place as scheduled, as he has shot off another mercy petition to the President. Under a landmark ruling in Jan 2014, the Supreme Court has humanised the way the state deals with death row convicts. In terms of that judgment, a convict cannot be executed for 14 days after the rejection of a clemency plea.

f)     There will be an inevitable debate on how a man who played a significant role in the serial blasts could be shown any mercy. The only way to avoid this endless debate is to abolish the cruel and irreversible punishment of death itself.

9.

Rural electrification scheme to be launched on July 25 (Page 9)

a)     National

b)     Social issue

a)     Deendayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Programme  

b)     Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY)

a)     Ahead of the Bihar Assembly elections, PM Modi will launch the governments flagship Deendayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Programme on July 25 in Patna.

b)     The Rs. 43,033 crore rural electrification scheme (which will replace the RGGVY) was approved by the Cabinet last November.

10.

Time  to  abolish  the  MRP (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Maximum Retail Price (MRP)

b)     Standards of Weights and Measures Act (Packaged Commodities Rules) 1976

a)     The MRP that is printed on all packaged commodities that consumers purchase was introduced in 1990 by Ministry of Civil Supplies, Department of Legal Metrology, by making an amendment to the Standards of Weights and Measures Act (Packaged Commodities Rules) 1976. It was meant to prevent tax evasion and protect consumers from profiteering by retailers.

b)     While the intention to protect consumers in a pre-liberalised India can be lauded, continuing the system today does not make any sense. The practice of MRP in India is unique, outdated and dysfunctional. India is perhaps the only country in the world to have such a system, where it is punishable by law to charge a price higher than printed MRP.

c)     More often than not, the rule of MRP is violated rather than honoured. First, the MRP applies only to commodities and not services. Second, most essential commodities are not packaged and do not fall under MRP rule. Third, even packaged commodities are not usually sold at MRP. Fourth, many shops charge for services that are not covered by MRP. Fifth, producers sometimes print an MRP so ridiculously high that product can be sold at an actual price that is up to 90 percent discounted, thereby making printed MRP redundant in its ability to signal value.

d)     The responsibility of checking whether products are being sold at a rate higher than the printed MRP lies with the state legal metrology department officials. 

e)    By providing a focal point for retailers, the MRP becomes a real uniform price and creates retail price collusion. Thus, MRP often ends up hurting very consumers it sought to protect.

f)     One justification that is often given in defence of MRP is that it is meant to protect consumers in remote locations who do not have the choice to go to different stores in search of right price. Another defence for maintaining the MRP system is that it eliminates information asymmetry and provides a benchmark to illiterate consumers. 

g)     Finally, it has to be asked whether it should be the right of manufacturers to set the price at which a product will be sold to the end user. In doing so, the manufacturer gets to decide the profit margins of retailer, which is essentially contradictory to a free market system. Just as a consumer has the right to buy a product at a particular price, retailer should have a right to sell his product at any price.

h)     MRP system has existed in India without being questioned for too long now. It is time to give free markets a chance.

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