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Daily News Analysis 31-07-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

PMs US trip to have digital, diaspora focus (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     An Indian community gathering and a Digital India conclave, and a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama in New York will be the highlights of PM Modis visit to the US in the last week of September.

2.

Modi may meet Mexican President during UN visit (Page12)

a)     I.R

a)     Official said the Mexican govt hopes to have PM Modi visit Mexico City after he travels to the US in September.

3.

Ultras came from Pak,  Rajnath tells RS (Pages 1,12)

a)     I.R

a)     The Union govt said that conclusive evidence linked the recent Gurdaspur terror attack to Pakistan.

4.

Beijing slams US for militarising South China Sea (Page 14)

a)     International

a)   China has criticised the US for militarising the South China Sea and escalating tensions that have been fuelled by maritime disputes in these waters, which are vital for the conduct of international trade.

5.

Tsipras seeks referendum within Syriza on bailout (Page 14)

a)     International

a)    Greek PM Tsipras called on his divided Syriza party to ballot its members on whether Greece had any alternative to accepting a tough bailout, setting up a showdown with far-left rebels threatening to split party.

6.

Afghan Taliban confirms Mullah Omars death, picks deputy as successor (Pg 14)

a)     International

a)     High-ranking officials from the Afghan Taliban confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and said the groups top council has elected his successor.

7.

Congress rejects GST Bill draft (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)    Soon after the govt took on board several of the suggestions made by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha on the GST regime, the Congress made it clear that the Bill cleared by the Union Cabinet for introduction in the Upper House was unacceptable.

8.

Clearing roadblocks (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has taken one more step towards the implementation of the GST (set to come into effect in April 2016) by dealing with several issues regarding the regime.

9.

Interpretive remedies in NJAC case (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The argument is often made that NJAC causes the same kind of opacity that the collegium is criticised for. The Supreme Court could address these concerns by prescribing a set of standard operating procedures for the NJAC.

10.

Yakub Memon hanged on birthday (Pg 1,13)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was hanged, after a Supreme Court Bench rejected his last-ditch attempt to postpone his execution.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

PMs US trip to have digital, diaspora focus (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – US relations

b)     United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

c)     Digital India

a)     An Indian community gathering and a Digital India conclave (which will assemble CEOs, tech-entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, researchers and professionals in Silicon Valley) and a bilateral meeting with President Obama in New York will be the highlights of PM Modis visit to the US in the last week of September.

b)     US and Indian officials are trying to schedule a meeting between PM Modi and President Obama on sidelines of the UNGA and the Summit on UN Peacekeeping in New York on September 28.

c)     Modi is likely to schedule a series of other bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA during his stay in New York. A likely meeting with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif will be of significance.

2.

Modi may meet Mexican President during UN visit (Page12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Mexico relations

b)     Trade ties

c)     G-20

d)     UNGA

 

a)     Mexican Ambassador to India said the Mexican govt hopes to have PM Modi visit Mexico City after he travels to the US in September.

b)     The last time Indian and Mexican leaders exchanged visits was in 2007-08.

c)     He said that despite the fact that India and Mexico were both G-20 members, their bilateral engagement was too little. Though Mexico had exports of $400 billion a year, its trade with India was only about $7 billion, half of which were oil exports to India. Even so, Mexico was the largest Latin American FDI investor in India, and the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations.

3.

Ultras came from Pak,  Rajnath tells RS (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     LoC

d)     Terrorism

e)     Gurdaspur terror attack

f)     Ravi river

a)     The Union govt said that conclusive evidence linked the recent Gurdaspur terror attack to Pakistan. However, Pakistan sharply denied the statement, and accused India of making unsubstantiated and unwarranted assertions that could prove a threat to peace and security in the region.

b)     Home Minister Rajnath Singh said preliminary analyses of the data from the GPS units recovered from the militants indicated that the terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan through areas near Tash in Gurdaspur, where the Ravi river entered Pakistan.

c)     Despite the angry words on both sides (which has only added to tensions between India and Pak over border and LoC firing), both Indian and Pak diplomats insist talks process agreed to by Modi and Sharif in Ufa will go ahead as planned. Sources said that both sides had discussed possible dates in the second half of August for Pakistans NSA Sartaj Aziz to travel to Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval.

4.

Beijing slams US for militarising South China Sea (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     China – US relations

b)     US pivot to Asia

c)     South China Sea

a)   China has criticised the US for militarising the South China Sea and escalating tensions that have been fuelled by maritime disputes in these waters, which are vital for the conduct of international trade.

b)     Chinas Defence Ministry accused US of staging patrols and joint military exercises. At the heart of sharpening rhetoric is the territorial dispute in South China Sea which has pitted China with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

c)     Military activity in the Pacific has been accelerating following President Obamas Asia Pivot or Rebalance doctrine, which has led US to position 60 percent of its forces in the Pacific. In Beijing, the Asia Pivot doctrine is seen as a China-containment policy.

d)     The Chinese have been especially irritated by lastweeks surveillance mission undertaken by US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift, who flew on a reconnaissance mission aboard a P-8A plane in the South China Sea.

5.

Tsipras seeks referendum within Syriza on bailout (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greece debt crisis

b)     Syriza party

c)     European Union (EU)

d)     European Commission

e)     European Central Bank (ECB)

f)     International Monetary Fund (IMF)

a)    Greek PM Tsipras called on his divided Syriza party to ballot its members on whether Greece had any alternative to accepting a tough bailout, setting up a showdown with far-left rebels threatening to split the party.

b)     He referred to the proposal as a referendum within the party, although it would be a vote by Syriza members rather than general public. The vote in three days effectively throws down the challenge to the Left Platform of the party, which has become increasingly vocal in its opposition of Tsipras. 

6.

Afghan Taliban confirms Mullah Omars death, picks deputy as successor (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Taliban

b)     Afghanistan situation

a)     High-ranking officials from Afghan Taliban confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and said the Taliban Shura or Supreme Council chose Mullah Akhtar Mansoor (a senior figure who served as the reclusive mullahs deputy for the past three years) as the new leader.

b)  Mansoor is considered close to the Pakistani authorities and his election could further divide an already-fractured Taliban as he is believed to have links to opposing councils within the movement. Taliban is believed to have splintered under pressure to enter into peace talks with the Afghan govt after almost 14 years of war.

c)     The peace process suffered a blow earlier, first when the Afghan Taliban indicated they were pulling out of negotiations with the Kabul govt and later, when Pakistan foreign ministry confirmed the talks hosted by Islamabad were postponed.

7.

Congress rejects GST Bill draft (Page 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Goods and Services Tax (GST)

b)     Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill

c)     Section 246A

 

a)    Soon after the govt took on board several of the suggestions made by Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on GST regime, the Congress made it clear that the Bill cleared by the Union Cabinet for introduction in the Upper House was unacceptable.

b)     While Congress is yet to firm up its floor strategy for the Bill, the partys objections could further stall the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which seeks to lay the ground for the nationwide rollout of a unified GST which has been in making for over a decade now.

c)     Being a Constitutional Amendment, the House has to be in order for the Bill to be put to vote. The Congress wants a ceiling rate to be specified in Section 246A so that the GST rate does not exceed 18 percent.

8.

Clearing roadblocks (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Economy

a)     Goods and Services Tax (GST)

 

a)     The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has taken one more step towards the implementation of GST (set to come into effect in April 2016) by dealing with several issues regarding the regime that have served as substantial roadblocks to its implementation.

b)     The first of these has to do with quantum of compensation to be paid to the States in case the revenue generated as GST falls short of what they have so far been earning through the existing tax system. Earlier, the Central government had agreed to provide States compensation at the rate of 100 percent for 3 years, 75 percent in fourth year, and 50 percent in the fifth year.

c)     However, in June 2015 the States raised a fresh demand of full compensation for all five years, which at the time the Centre termed as a move that could potentially delay the roll-out of GST as scheduled.

d)     Another major sticking point was the 1 percent additional tax on the supply of goods. This provision was added to the Bill on insistence of the States that lead on the manufacturing front. Many States opposed this additional tax saying that it went against the spirit of the GST system and that it would have a cascading impact on prices.

e)     The Cabinet cleared an amendment by which the States will get to fulfil their wish of full compensation for 5 years, a move that should bring most of them on board without any of the reservations they currently hold. Regarding the 1 percent additional tax, the Cabinet took a more circumspect route, exempting stock transfers within group companies from the additional tax on inter-State supplies, but keeping the overall tax in place.

f)     Nevertheless, these represent significant steps towards the implementation of GST by April 2016 deadline, as they are solutions to the most significant hurdles faced by the Bill. The govt and Cabinet must be commended on their speedy handling of these issues since GST represents one of the most significant rounds of tax reform to be implemented, and it has the potential to benefit all those involved - the Centre, States, private sector, and consumers.

9.

Interpretive remedies in NJAC case (Page 10)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)

b)     Collegium system

c)     CJI

d)     Law Minister

e)     Supreme Court

a)     After 31 days of argument, a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court has reserved judgment in what will rank amongst the most significant constitutional cases before the Court in recent years.

b)     Since the Supreme Courts decision in the Second Judges Case in 1993, appointments to the Court have been made through what has come to be known as the collegium system, in which the three most senior judges of the Court play a decisive role in appointments process. The collegium system faced increasing criticism, and Parliament attempted to replace it with an appointments process led by a NJAC through a constitutional amendment, and a statute that gives effect to the amendment.

c)     The amendment provides that the NJAC will consist of six people - the CJI, the two most senior judges of Supreme Court, the Law Minister, and two eminent persons. Supreme Court is now tasked with deciding the constitutionality of the amendment and the statute.

d)     As with the NJAC case, on most occasions when the law is challenged on the basis that it is unconstitutional, the challenge is conceived of in terms of a binary, whether to strike down or not strike down the law. However, the matrix of remedies available to the court is far more complex than this.

e)     In the NJAC case, the Supreme Court has several intermediate options falling short of the strike-down power. This piece will consider four interpretive possibilities, which can be distinguished based on whether they address the composition or the functioning of the NJAC.

f)     Defining eminent persons more narrowly: Amongst the arguments that the petitioners have made is that constitutional amendment makes no attempt to define who the two eminent persons on the NJAC will be. It is argued that this can give rise to concerns about nomination of people with favourable political leanings or people who clearly lack the credentials to judge the performance of candidates.

g)     The Supreme Court could seek to remove these concerns by specifying a set of criteria that the eminent persons would need to hold. These criteria could include a degree in law or allied disciplines, a minimum number of years of practice before the Supreme Court, or a designation of seniority by the Supreme Court or High Courts.

h)     Modifying the eminent persons appointments process: The constitutional amendment provides that eminent persons on NJAC are to be appointed by a Committee consisting of the CJ, the PM, and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha. The argument here is that the politicians could collude to nominate a person who (in the opinion of the CJ) lacks the credentials to be part of NJAC.

i)     The Supreme Court may seek to avoid this situation by interpreting the provisions to the effect that the CJ has a veto power in the appointment of eminent persons. This would mean that the CJ would always need to be in the majority, and a 2-1 decision (with a dissenting note from the CJ) would not result in an appointment.

j)     An exclusive veto power for the judges: Neither the constitutional amendment nor the statute giving effect to the amendment make it clear how the six-member NJAC is expected to take its decisions. Presumably, the ideal scenario is for decisions to be made by consensus. But where consensus is not possible, the alternative is likely to be a majority decision-making procedure.

k)     The statute specifies that no person shall be recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court if any two members disagree with the appointment. Arguably, the Law Minister together with one or more of the eminent persons could exercise their veto against independent-minded candidates.

l)     In order to grant the judges a degree of primacy in the process, the Supreme Court could interpret this provision as applying only to judges. This would mean that assuming that all six members of the NJAC participate and vote, a successful appointment would require the concurrence of at least two of the three judges on the Commission.

m)     Standard operating procedures for appointments: Once again, neither the constitutional amendment nor the statute specifies procedures that the NJAC is expected to follow while making decisions on appointments. Instead, important issues such as the level of publicity to be given to reports of the Commission, the quorum for Commission meetings, and whether rejection of candidates requires reasoned explanation, has been left to the domain of rules and regulations.

n)     The argument that is often made against the NJAC is that it causes the same kind of opacity that collegium is often criticised for. Supreme Court could seek to address these concerns by prescribing a set of standard operating procedures that the NJAC would need to follow in order to comply with constitutional requirements.

o)     In prescribing these procedures, the Supreme Court would have to balance the competing considerations of ensuring an open and transparent system of appointments on the one hand, and protecting the integrity and standing of candidates on other.

10.

Yakub Memon hanged on birthday (Page 1 and 13)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Death penalty

b)     Mercy petition

c)     Mumbai serial blasts case 1993

d)     TADA court

e)     Supreme Court

a)     The 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was hanged, after a Supreme Court Bench rejected his last-minute attempt to postpone his execution.

b)     While recommending the rejection of fresh mercy petition of Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon, the Home Ministry reportedly told President Pranab that there were no strong circumstances warranting a rethink on it.

c)    In April 2014 the then UPA Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde first recommended the rejection of the mercy petition of Yakub. The President (who is bound by the aid and advice of the Home Ministry) went by the Ministrys recommendation.

d)     On June 30 2015, Yakub filed a 14-page fresh mercy petition stating among other things that the TADA court issued a death warrant and informed him only 15 days prior to his hanging thereby limiting his chances to seek any legal remedy.

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