Current Affairs - Polity & Governance
- On 12th November, 2019, the President approved a proclamation imposing President’s Rule in Maharashtra, following a recommendation from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
- The decision came after the Governor sent a report to the Union government saying President’s Rule must be imposed since no party or alliance was in a position to provide a stable government in the state,after the State Assembly election in October, 2019. As for now, the State Assembly has been kept under suspended animation.
- This 3rd time when the President’s Rule is being imposed in Maharashtra since the formation of the state.
- President’s Rule implies the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre. This is achieved through the invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution by the President on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers. This is popularly known as ‘President’s Rule’. It is also known as ‘State Emergency’ or ‘Constitutional Emergency’.
- For the first time, the President’s Rule was imposed in Punjab in 1951.
S. R. Bommai V. Union of India Case , 1994
Supreme Court’s Verdict
Significance of the Case
Provisions regarding the President’s Rulefinds its mention in the Part XVIII of the Indian Constitutions:
- Article 355 imposes a duty on the Centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution
- Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives President of India the power to suspend state government and impose President's rule of any state in the country if "if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution".
Ground for Imposition
- President’s rule is proclaimed in a state on account of failure of the constitutional machinery of that state. It gives the President power to assume control of the state in question.
- Article 356 empowers the President to issue a proclamation; if he is satisfied a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Notably, the president can act either on a report of the governor of the state or otherwise too (i.e. even without the governor’s report).
- It says that whenever a state fails to comply with or to give effect to any direction from the Centre, it will be lawful for the president to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
- A proclamation imposing President’s Rule must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
- If approved by both the Houses of Parliament, the President’s Rule continues for six months. It can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of the Parliament, every six months.
- A proclamation of President’s Rule can be revoked through a subsequent proclamation in case the leader of a party produces letters of support from a majority of members of the Assembly, and stakes his claim to form a government. The revocation does not need the approval of Parliament.
- In the wake of State Emergency, the President can take up the functions of the state government and powers vested in the governor or any other executive authority in the state. He can declare that the powers of the state legislature are to be exercised by the Parliament.
- The President dismisses the state council of ministers headed by the chief minister. The state governor, on behalf of the President, carries on the state administration with the help of the chief secretary of the state or the advisors appointed by the President. This is the reason why a proclamation under Article 356 is popularly known as the imposition of ‘President’s Rule’ in a state.
- Further, the President either suspends or dissolves the state legislative assembly. In this case, the Parliament passes the state legislative bills and the state budget.
- It is to be noted thatany law made by the Parliament or president or any other specified authority continues to be operative even after the President’s Rule. This means that the period for which such a law remains in force is not coterminous with the duration of the proclamation.
- However, theconstitutional position, status, powers and functions of the concerned state high court remain same even during the President’s Rule.
Recommendations of Major Committees on President’s Rule
Sarkaria Commission (1983)
Punchhi Commission (2007)
- Article 356 gives the Centre ample powers to assert its rule over a state if the constitutional machinery fails and that state doesn’t possess the means to regain the constitutional machinery.
- The fundamental function of this article is to give more powers to the Centre and assist the state in times of dire crisis. But it has always been used to dissolve the state government governed by political rivals. It is perceived by many as a peril to the structure of democracy.
- But at the same time, it is this article that comes to the rescue when there is genuine turmoil and breakdown of constitutional machinery. Guidelines provided by the Bommai judgment should be strictly adhered to ensure wise usage of this article.
- After all, effectiveness of any law is entirely dependent on its proper enforcement in the proper perspective. Howsoever significant a law may be, it cannot serve the purpose, or it may not be prevented from being controversial unless and until it is implemented in its letter as well as spirit.
- Recently, the Standing Committee on Labour has invited suggestions on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code, 2019.
- To consolidate and amend the laws regulating the occupational safety, health and working conditions of the persons employed in establishments across the country.
- The OSH Code, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in July, 2019, pursuant to the Report of the Second National Commission on Labour on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions of the Workers.
- It is one of the four codes that are part of the Centre’s labour reforms agenda.
- The four labour codes - on Wages, Industrial Relations, Social Security and Occupational Safety, and Health and Working Condition, intend to provide workers with wage security, social security, safety, health and grievance redress mechanisms.
- The Code has been drafted after amalgamation, simplification and rationalisation of the relevant provisions of the 13 Central Labour Acts. After the enactment of the Code, all these Acts being subsumed in the Code will be repealed:
- The Factories Act, 1948
- The Mines Act, 1952
- The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986
- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
- The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
- The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
- The Inter-State Migrant workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
- The Working Journalist and other News Paper Employees (Conditions of Service and Misc. Provision) Act, 1955
- The Working Journalist (Fixation of rates of wages) Act, 1958
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
- Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976
- The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
- The Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers Act, 1981.
- It would be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more workers, where any industry, trade, business, manufacture or occupation is carried on, including, IT establishments or establishments of service sector.
- Threshold of applicability has been made uniform at 10 workers for all establishments except mines and dock where the Code would be applicable even with 1 worker.
- Definition of Working Journalists and Cine worker have also been modified to include workers employed in electronic media and all forms of audio visual production.
National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board(NOSHAB)
- It mandates for establishment NOSHAB which will be of tripartite nature, having the representation from trade unions, employer associations, and State governments. This will result in reduction in multiplicity of bodies/committees in various Acts and simplified and coordinated policy-making.
Single Registration Mechanism
- It proposes one registration for an establishment instead of multiple registrations. This will create a centralized data base and promote ease of doing business. At present, separate registration is required to be obtained under 6 Acts.
Duties of Employers
- Providing ahazard free workplace
- Providing free annual health examinations to employees.
Rights and duties of Employees
- Taking care of their own health and safety
- Complying with the specified safety and health standards
- Reporting unsafe situations to the inspector.
- Every employee will have the right to obtain from the employer information related to safety and health standards.
Special Provisions for Factories
- Government can declare any place wherein manufacturing process is being carried out as a factory, and for any persons working at such premises to be classified as workers.
- As opposed to the earlier threshold of 30 women workers prescribed under the Factories Act, a creche facility is now required to be provided by all Establishments (including factories) where more than 50 workers are ordinarily employed.
Special Provisions for Women Employees
- Women permitted to work beyond 7 PM and before 6 AM subject to the safety, holidays, working hours or any other condition as prescribed by appropriate government in respect of prescribed establishments, only after taking their consent for night work.
Special Provisions for Contract Labour
- It introduced the concept of work specific license for contractors, if they do not meet the criteria to be prescribed by the Government for grant of license for supply of contract labour or for execution of work through contract labour.
Offences and Penalties
- An offence that leads to the death of an employee will be punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine up to five lakh rupees, or both.
- For any other violation where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be penalised with a fine between two and three lakh rupees.
- If an employee violates provisions of the Code, he will be subject to a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
- Providing Broad Legislative Framework: The Code provides basic broad legislative framework with enabling provisions for framing rules, regulations, standards, and bye-laws as per the requirements of different sectors. This would result in simple legislation with flexibility in changing the provisions in tune with emerging technologies and makes the legislation dynamic.
- Ensuring Safety of Workforce: It promotes health, safety, welfare and better working conditions of workforce by enhancing the ambit of a dynamic legislation as compared to the existing sectoral approach limited to few sectors.
- Resource Efficiency: It rationalises the compliance mechanism with one license, one registration and one return for the establishments under the ambit of the Code thereby saving resources and efforts of the employers. Thus it balances the requirements of worker and employer and is beneficial to both the constituents of the world of work.
- Consolidation of Activities: It allows consolidation of activities commonly carried out prior to and during the operation of factories, such as building, construction or expansion of factories, etc., which is expected to help manufacturing companies as they can obtain a common registration and comply with the safety and welfare requirements of the Code, as opposed to duplicity of provisions under the Current Laws.
Criticism of OSH Code
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)
- The RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has condemned the Code, denouncing it as as a "cut-and-paste job" with no universal application.
- According to BMS, the safety provisions have been diluted and many of the burning issues with the Contract labour Act, Factories Act, journalists' law, transport workers law etc. have not been addressed.
- Another objection is towards the absence of equal-wage-for-equal-work, as mandated by the Supreme Court and a universal principle for equity in the labour market that the trade unions have been demanding for long, in so far as contract labour is concerned.
- Clause 22 of the Code provides discretionary power to the government to set up Safety Committee, while this is a statutory requirement for every hazardous unit under the Factories Act of 1948.
- Clause 83 gives state government power to "prescribe" maximum permissible limits of workers' exposure to chemical and toxic substances, while the 'second schedule' of the Factories Act of 1948 specifies this.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
- According to CII, extending the provisions of the OSH Code to smaller enterprises will increase their costs and hurt margins, impacting the sector badly. It would also adversely affect expansion, which is seen to have a strong relationship to creation of new jobs.
- As per the Factories Act, establishments must appoint welfare officers if they employ manpower of more than 500 persons. The Code cuts this to 250 employees, which would impose a high cost burden on MSMEs, now coming in this ambit.
- Safety, Health, welfare and improved working conditions are pre-requisite for well-being of the worker and also for economic growth of the country as healthy workforce of the country would be more productive and occurrence of less accidents and unforeseen incidents would be economically beneficial to the employers also.
- Codification is necessary to rationalise proximate labour laws, but this should not lead to bundling together of diverse and unique laws concerning disparately positioned categories of workers, which are yet to mature into meaningful pieces of legislation (for example, the law on building and construction workers) in their own right and hence need respective suitable amendments.
- In view of widespread criticism against the Code, the government should address the concerns raised by various organisations and must ensure that the Code provides safer and healthier conditions of work to worker, instead exposingthem to greater risks.
- The Ministry of Steel on 8th November, 2019, came out with a Steel Scrap Recycling Policy in a bid to ensure quality scrap for the steel industry in India.
- To reduce imports, conserve resources and save energy.
- To help all stakeholders engaged in collection, dismantling, processing, and transportation in order to ensure the sustainable development of scrap-based steel industry.
Need for Policy
- Non-Availability of Scrap: The availability of scrap is a major issue in India and in 2017 the deficit was to the tune of 7 million tons due to which the government had to import scrap worth Rs. 24,500 crores in 2017-18.
- De-incentivising pre-2005 Vehicles: As per estimates, there are about 2 crore pre-2005 built vehicles that are plying on Indian roads and there is needs to be de-incentivise such vehicles in view of about 10 to 25 times higher pollution emission by them under the new emission norms. Even if those old vehicles are maintained properly, they will be polluting more with more emissions and will prove to be a hazard for road safety.
- To Channelise Scrap Industry: With the increase in consumption of steel in the recent past and End of Life Vehicles (ELVs), the generation of scrap is likely to be increased considerably. This scrap has to be channelized so that the same can be utilized for steel production in an environmental friendly manner.
To Promote Circular Economy
- The policy envisions promoting circular economy in the steel sector. The high grade steel scrap shall be recycled to produce high grade steel again, to be used in the industries such as equipment manufacturing, automobiles and other downstream industries.
Hub and Spoke Working Model
- A hub and the spoke model is promulgated in order to address the issue of collecting such end of life products for increasing scrap generation.
Structuring Formal and Informal Recycling Sector
- Promotion of a formal and scientific collection, dismantling and processing activities for end of life products as well as structuring the informal recycling sector based on environmental and scientific fronts is mandated in the policy.
Extended Producer Responsibility(EPR)
- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and the Department of Heavy Industries are working towards ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ by requiring the vehicle manufacturers to incentivise scrapping of unfit vehicles in exchange for price discounts for purchase of new vehicles.
Creating Effective Treatment Mechanism
- It aims to decongest the Indian cities from reuse of ferrous scrap, besides creation of a mechanism for treating waste streams and residues produced from dismantling and shredding facilities in compliance to Hazardous & Other Wastes (Management &Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 is proposed in the policy.
Evolving a Responsive Ecosystem
- Development of an organized scrapping / shredding industry through a self- regulatory ecosystem based on a system of shared responsibility (SR) to beevolved, for collection, dismantling and disposal of ELVs, White Goods and otherscraps, involving all the key stakeholders such as aggregators, scrappingcenters, manufacturers (OEMs), owners and Government.
Impact of the Policy
- The policy will help make India a producer of high quality ferrous scrap for quality steel production thus minimising the dependency on imports.The gap between demand and supply can be reduced in the future and the country may be self-sufficient by 2030.
- It will help India emerging as a hub for automobile manufacturing as key raw material available from scrapping like steel,aluminium and plastic are bound to be recycled, bringing down automobile prices by 20-30 percent.
- The use of every ton of scrap shall save 1.1 ton of iron ore, 630 kg of coking coal and 55 kg of limestone. There shall be considerable saving in specific energy consumption by 16-17%.
- Operating on the 4+1 hub and spoke model, where 4 collection and dismantling centres were to cater to the 1 scrapprocessing centre then 400 jobs would be created by one such composite unit. And for 70 units producing a total of 7 MT of scrap the potential for employment generation would be of 2800 persons. If the country was to produce 70 MT, as if expected as per NSP 2017, the employment generation could be in the range of 3 lakh jobs.
- The setting up of scrapping centres near highways, industrial corridors, railway sidingsand in the close proximity to Sagarmala project shall help in development ofmultimodal logistics parks.
- The policy will contribute in adopting the principle of 6 Rs i.e. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Redesign and Remanufacture to avoid any adverse impact on the environment.
- The saving in energy will help reduce the water consumption and Green House Gas (GHG) emission by 40% and 58% respectively.
- It can contribute to promotion of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by developing recycling zones.
- However, the policy comes at a time when countries worldwide are seeking an outlet for waste metals after China's tightening of mixed metal imports. It could result in a surge of mixed metal (unprocessed) scrap into India.
- Employees in facilities that recycle metal scrap are exposed to a range of safety hazards associated with material handling methods, hazardsassociated with the metals themselves (as dust or fumes), and with thehazardous substances used to process or recover these metals, leading to several health related issues.
Challenges in Scrap Recycling
Following challenges, which adversely impact the areas of scrap metal supply, industry growth, pollution, quality, safety, revenue and transparency in different steps of steel scrap recycling.
- Steel is a material most conducive for circular economy as it can be used, reused and recycled infinitely.
- In the National Steel Policy (NSP)-2017, the importance of scrap was realised. This Scrap Policy only promotes the role envisaged in the NSP-2017 to ensure scrap segregation (quality wise), collection, processing and recycling.
- However, following China's toughened stand on waste material imports into the country since 2017, countries like Japan were finding alternative venues for its mixed metal scrap, which included places like Vietnam, Malaysia, and recently India.
- After China, Japan was sending mixed metal scrap to Malaysia and Vietnam. But the governments there are making it difficult now too. In this changing scenario, India seems to be another preferable venue for dumping of mixed scarp metals.
- Therefore, the government must ensure to set up a sound regulatory and management system in order to make India self-sufficient in scrap availability and make steel sector resource efficient, rather than turning India into a scrap dumping ground.
- Opting out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will likely result in India missing out on the regional and Global Value Chains (GVC) crisscrossing this region.
- Due to the fragmented nature of global trade which is best captured in the phrase Global Value Chain, ignoring the RCEP might be a big mistake by India.
What is a Global Value Chain?
- It is a chain of separate but inter-linked and coordinated activities, which can be undertaken within a single firm or be divided among multiple firms in different geographical locations to bring out a product or a service to complete production and delivery to final consumers.
- According to the World Bank, “a GVC is the series of stages in the production of a product or service for sale to consumers. Each stage adds value, and at least two stages are in different countries.
- For example, a bike assembled in France with parts from Germany, Italy, and Malaysia and exported to the Arab Republic of Egypt is a GVC.
- So according to this definition, a country, sector, or firm participates in a GVC, if it engages in (at least) one stage in a GVC.
Difference between Value Chain and Global Value Chain
- A value chain can be contained within a single geographic location or even a single firm (for ex.a fruit that is grown, packaged, sold and consumed within one country).
- Value chains become “global” when their component activities are geographically dispersed across borders to multiple country locations.
- The GVC Initiative is particularly interested in understanding value chains that are divided among multiple firms and spread across several locations, hence the term global value chain.”
Importance of GVC
- Tool to Economic Growth: GVCs are a powerful driver of productivity growth, job creation, and increased living standards. Countries that embrace GVC grow faster, import skills and technology, and boost employment.
- Diversifying Country’s Export Sector: It provides opportunities for developing countries to diversify their exports and intensify their integration into the global economy.
- Access to International Market: Participation in GVCs provides important opportunities for firms to access international markets, absorb new technology, and rapidly expand their economies of scale.
- Magnifying Trade Scenario: Itallows resources to flow to their most productive use, not only across countries and sectors, but also within sectors across stages of production. As a result, GVCs magnify the growth, employment, and distributional impacts of standard trade.
- Boost to Development Process: With GVC-driven development, countries generate growth by moving to higher-value-added tasks and by embedding more technology and know-how in all their agriculture, manufacturing, and services GVCs provide countries the opportunity to leap-frog their development process.
- Boon to Developing Countries: Global value chains have been a boon to developing countries because they make it easier for those countries to diversify away from primary products to manufactures and services.
India and GVC
Reasons for Low GVC IntegrationPoor Trade Infrastructure
- In current time, around 70 percent of the world trade is structured within GVCs of multinational corporations.Harnessing the potential of GVCs for broad-based economic development requires active and purposeful policies. It also requires an understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of GVCs across different regions and industries.
- For many countries, especially developing and low-income countries, the ability to effectively insert themselves into GVCs is a vital condition for their development. This supposes an ability to access GVCs, to compete successfully and to “capture the gains” in terms of national economic development, capability building and generating more and better jobs to reduce unemployment and poverty.
- To strengthen the benefits that countries obtain from participating in GVCs, it will need to support the upgrading process by strengthening the business environment, supporting investment in knowledge assets such as R&D and design, and fostering the development of important economic competencies, notably skills and management.
- GVC participation leads to job creation in developing countries, provided it occurs with increased and high-skill based value addition. So, to gain a part of GVCs, countries like India need an education system based on skilldevelopment. As well as a competition policy enhancing rivalry, and a tax system and intellectual property laws encouraging investment.
- GVC is a world-wide phenomenon. It works effectively when there is active participation from different economies in various stages of growth. It has a strong foundational link to roles, regulations, products and services, and processes across markets. So understanding it’s functioning and assimilating it is crucial for countries like India, that are ready for next level of growth.
- On 4th November, 2019, during the 3rd Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) meeting in Bangkok (Thailand), India decided not to join the RCEPuntil significant outstanding issues were resolved.
- Remaining 15 countries involved in the negotiation decided to sign the mega trade deal in 2020.
- Negotiations for this agreement have been ongoing since 2013, with several countries, including India, trying to resolve problems with other countries with regard to tariffs.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP)
- RCEP is a trade deal that involved the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the five countries with which the ASEAN bloc has free trade agreements (FTA).
- The ASEAN, which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, has FTAs with Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.
- To create an integrated market spanning all 16 countries, making it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across the region.
- To boost economic growth and equitable economic development, advance economic cooperation and broaden and deepen integration in the region.
- It was billed as the largest regional trading agreement ever these countries account for almost half of the world’s population, contribute over a quarter of world exports, and make up around 30% of global Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced in a year).
- The deal would have created the world's largest trading bloc. These 16 countries account for about half of the world’s population, 25 percent of global GDP, nearly a third (30 percent) of global trade and the 26 percent of world foreign direct investment flows (FDI).
Why India decided not to Join RCEP?
Below are the reasons which forced India to walk off the RCEP trade deal:
- India's economy is passing through a difficult time. The rate of GDP growth has been slowing down for five consecutive quarters, that is, since January-March 2018.
- In such adverse scenario, a massive free trade pact like RCEP would have exposed the Indian businesses and agriculture to unequal competition from countries which are lurking like giant sharks in the export arena.
- India has massive trade deficits with almost all economic powerhouses of the world. Of the 15 RCEP countries, India has serious trade deficits with at least 11.
- India's trade deficit with these countries has almost doubled in the last five-six years - from $54 billion in 2013-14 to $105 billion in 2018-19.
- Of India's $105 billion trade deficit with RCEP countries, China alone accounts for $53 billion, which is one of the major reasons for India not to join.
No Resistance against Import Surge
- Signing RCEP could force India to cut duties on about 90 percent of the goods that are currently imported to India over the next 15 years as a result India will be flooded with cheaper imported goods, particularly from China, hitting hard its domestic market.
Concern over Non-Tariff Barriers
- RCEP countries, like China have used non-tariff barriers in the past to prevent India from expanding its exports to the country.
Concern over Rules of Origin
- Another issue is threat of circumvention of Rules of Origin due to tariff difference.India wanted strict rules of origin to prevent Chinese goods from flooding the country through member countries that may have lower or no duty levels.
- Chinese garments are making their way into India through the duty-free route under the South Asia Free Trade Pact and the Duty-Free Quota-Free window from Bangladesh.
Issue over Base Year
- India is opposed to the proposal that 2013 be treated as the base year for reducing tariffs, effectively implying that member countries should slash import duties on products to the level that existed in 2013.
- India is pushing for 2019 as the base year, given that import duties on many products such as textiles and the electronic products have gone up in the last six years.
Lack of Market Access for India
- There were no assurances on getting access to markets like China while the trade pact would have opened up India's market.
Most Favoured Nations
- India also raised the unviability of Most Favoured Nation obligations where India would be forced to give similar benefits to RCEP countries that it gave to others.
What India Wanted?
Auto- Trigger Mechanism
- India wants an auto-trigger mechanism to be institutionalised in the pact which would serve as a kind of protective mechanism that a member country can invoke to safeguard in case of an unexpected flow of imports after RCEP comes into effect.
- India wants exemptions built into the ratchet obligations as part of the pact. A ratchet obligation implies that a member country cannot raise tariffs once the pact comes into effect. An exemption would imply that a country will be able to erect restrictive measures later on grounds of protecting national interest.
- India wants all countries to have the rights to protect data. This would imply that countries can share data only where it is necessary to achieve a legitimate public policy objective or necessary in the country's opinion, for the protection of its essential security interests or national interests.
- China needs greater access to Indian market to sustain its manufacturing industries. A failure to find a market will have cascading effect on Chinese economy.
- RCEP has come up as a Chinese game plan to save its manufacturing industries from crumbling under their own weight. Several industrial players in India red-flagged the Chinese agenda of flooding the Indian market using the RCEP countries as a connecting network.
- India, with its 1.3 billion population, offers the biggest free access market to the Chinese companies that are feeling the pinch of US-China trade war with Donald Trump administration taking on the manufacturing giant in the past one-and-a-half years.
- Critics are also not confident that India would be able to take advantage of the deal, given its poor track record of extracting benefits from the FTAs with these countries. India’s trade gap with these countries may widen if it signs the RCEP deal.
- However, joining the RCEP would have given more substance to its Act East policy. The economic pillar of this policy has remained weak compared to those pertaining to political ties, strategic and security aspects and people to people relations.
- Opting out of the RCEP implies there is need for greater exertion now on strengthening connectivity, trade and investment bilaterally.
- On 29th October, 2019, the government constituted aCommittee of Secretaries (CoS) to study financial stress being faced by the telecom sector in the country.
- The Committee, headed by the Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and representatives from the ministries of finance, law and telecom, is expected to submit recommendations in a time-bound manner.
- To examine the financial stress of the telecom sector and recommend measures to mitigate it.
- To look at ways of creating a favourable investment environment for the sector.
- The Government’s move came in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s order on the calculation of Aggregate Gross Revenue (AGR) in favour of the government.
- Following the order, the telcos may have to pay the government Rs. 1.42 lakh crore within three months. This came as a huge blow to the industry that is already reeling under a debt of about Rs. 4 lakh crore.
- The top court rejected the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) proposed by telecom operators that excluded revenue from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend and interest income, marking the end of a 14-year-long legal tussle between the department of telecommunications (DoT) and operators.
- While the dispute over the definition of AGR has been on since 1999, the important aspects are the Annual License Fee (LF) of 8 percent and Annual Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) of about 1-6 percent of AGR payout to be made by the TSP (along with interest and penalties), which are likely to throw the TSPs into a debt trap.
Current Issues in Telecom Sector
- Noting the gross revenue of the industry had fallen between 2017-18 and 2018-19, the price of data for the customer at an average of Rs 8 per GB, the lowest in the world.
- Additionally, the average revenue per user per month has declined from Rs 174 in 2014-15 to Rs l13 in 2018-19.
Issues to Consider
- The Committee will work out a relief package for the telecom sector in order to mitigate the impact of the more than Rs.1.4 lakh crore that the telcos may need to pay the exchequer.
- Will look into the demand of telcos for deferment of spectrum auction payment dues for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22 in order to ease cash flow.
- Will review various demands made by the industry, reduction in spectrum usage charges and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) charges.
Aggregate Gross Revenue(AGR)
Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Suggestions
- TRAI is expected to examine prescribing a minimum charge for voice and data services to ensure long-term viability and robust financial health of the sector.
- It has suggested that USOF charges - paid to make telcos take their services to rural areas- be 3 percent, and not 5 percent.
Suggestion by Telecoms
- Telcoshave suggested that both sides- the government and telcos -enter a bipartite agreement about the amount to be paid and a plan on how it can be paid. It offered to pay only the disputed dues without the high penalty and interest.
- It suggested a staggering payment schedulewhich is more than three months.
- To provide relief in the future by reducing the license fee.
- To adjust the input tax credit is available with the government in order to provide relief as for now.
Source: Business Standard
- The government has fast-tracked reforms in the telecom sector and continues to be proactive in providing room for growth for telecom companies.
- Considering the current situation, faced by the telecom sector, the government is considering a floor price for telecom services as part of the relief measures proposed for the industry.
- Further, help and support extended to telecom service providers (TSPs) with regard to duties, levies, and installments will enable them to have better cash flows and investible surplus for the orderly growth of the sector.
- The newly constituted panel can give an immediate relief package to ensure financial viability of both the operatorsas well sector.
- Recently, the government decided to constitute a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAPHR) as mandated under the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
- The move is aimed to improve India’s human rights records.
- In UPR-1 and UPR-3, UN recommended that India should have NAPHR covering issues such as the rights to health, education, food security, and housing; aspects related to custodial justice; and measures against the trafficking of women and children
- In the third UPR of UN in 2017, India accepted 152 out of 250 recommendations on human rights pertaining to sustainable development goals related to eliminating poverty, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and improving protection for women and
- India refused to accept some recommendations, including those related to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
About Task Force
- The task force will have 10-20 members and it will examine the plans of other countries before preparing its final draft.
- It will include the Union Home Ministry and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), with representations from other Ministries, including Social Justice and Health.
- Apart from these, civil society organisations will also be consulted at a later stage.
- Strengthening Social Justice System: Once implemented, NAPHR will help mitigate the criticism India faces at international level when it comes to its human rights record as well as strengthen the social justice system.
- Strengthening of Human Rights Institutions: The move will help to establish a stronger administration of justice, strengthening of human rights institutions, and linking of rights with development.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Headquarters: New Delhi
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
Institution-Building Package of UNHRC
Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
- The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
- It is a state-driven process which provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.
- It is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground.
- Improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.
- To provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.
- The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States.
- Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs.
- The documents on which the reviews are based are:
- Information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”.
- Information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities.
- Information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
- Cycles of the UPR: A review cycle is a four-and-half year period within which all UN Member states’ human rights records are reviewed. The working group convenes three two-weeks sessions per year, or 14 sessions over the course of an entire cycle.
- First Cycle: 2008-2011
- Second Cycle: 2012-2016
- Third Cycle: 2017-2021
- Addressing Human Rights Concern: It is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when human rights situations are assessed with the ultimate aim of improving them and addressing violations.
- Equal Treatment for All: It is a significant innovation which is based on equal treatment for all countries which also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe.
- Recently, the Tamil Nadu Government introduced its first-ever electric vehicle (EV) policy.
- The Tamil Nadu Electric Vehicle Policy, 2019, provides for various concessions to manufacturers of e-vehicles.
- Tamil Nadu, known as the Detroit of South India, accounts for 6.4% of the electric vehicles sold in the country as of July 31, 2019.
- To promote electric mobility in the state
- To build a comprehensive Electric Vehicle(EV) ecosystem
- To create a robust infrastructure for electric vehicles, including adequate power supply and network of charging points.
- To create a pool of skilled workforce for the Electric Vehicle industry.
- To recycle and reuse used batteries and dispose of the rejected batteries in an environment-friendly manner to avoid pollution.
- To create a conducive environment for the EV industry and research institutions to focus on cutting-edge research in Electric Mobility technologies.
- To promote E-Mobility and green mobility innovation for automotive and shared mobility by providing the ecosystem and infrastructure.
Key Features of the Policy
- Host of Services: Various incubation services will be offered in the form of office space, common facilities and mentoring support in order to encourage start-ups in the EV sector.
- Establishment of EV Parks: The government will set up exclusive EV parks in major auto-manufacturing hubs and also in areas that have the potential to attract EV investments. These EV parks will enable the creation of a vendor ecosystem that will serve original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
- Creation of EV Venture Fund: An EV Venture Capital Fund will be created to offer financial support to EV start-ups to enable them to scale up their business.
- Exemption from Electricity Tax:EV-related and charging infrastructure manufacturing units will be provided 100% exemption on electricity tax till December 2025.
- Subsidy on Land Cost: It offers to provide investors a 50 percent subsidy on the land cost if the investment is made to obtain land from government agencies in southern districts, while in other districts it is just 15 percent, valid till 2022.
- Higher Capital Subsidy Provision for EV Manufacturers:The government will provide a higher capital subsidy of 20% of the eligible investment over 20 years in cases where units are engaged in making EV batteries.
- New Job Opportunities:It is expected to attract massive investment of Rs.50,000 crore in the state and will help to create 1.5 lakh new jobs.
- Making Tamil Nadu EV Hub:It will help the Tamil Nadu state in emerging as a leader in the EV space.
- Boost to Vision 2023: It will provide a major boost to the Tamil Nadu government Vision 2023 initiative which aims to develop various infrastructure projects in six major sectors viz. energy, transport, industrial and commercial infrastructure, urban infrastructure and services, agriculture and human development.
Central Government Initiative for EV
1. National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020
- Launched in 2013, NEMMP is a National Mission document providing the vision and the roadmap for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing in the country.
- Under the NEMMP 2020, there is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles by the year 2020.
- To enhance national fuel security
- To provide affordable and environmentally friendly transportation
- To enable the Indian automotive industry to achieve global manufacturing leadership
Source: The Economic Times
2. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) Scheme
- As part of the NEMMP 2020, Department of Heavy Industry formulated FAME Scheme in 2015 to promote manufacturing and sustainable growth of electric and hybrid vehicle in the country.
- Started in 2015 and was completed on March 31st, 2019.
- It focused on four essential areas namely (i) Demand Creation, (ii) Technology Platform, (iii) Pilot Project and (iv) Charging Infrastructure.
- Started from April 1st, 2019, will be completed by March 31st, 2022.
- The emphasis will be on electrification of public transport that includes shared transport; demand incentives on operational expenditure mode for electric buses will be delivered through state/city transport corporations (STUs).
Significance of the FAME Scheme
- It will encouragefaster adoption of Electric and hybrid vehicle by way of offering upfront Incentive on purchase of Electric vehicles and also by way of establishing a necessary charging Infrastructure for electric vehicles.
- It will help in addressing the issue of environmental pollution and fuel security.
Need for Adoption of EV in India
- Climatic Change: The concern of rapid global temperature increase has created the need for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the associated emissions. Adoption of EV will help India to cut its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
- Increasing Pollution in Cities: Economic development, especially in emerging economies, is creating a wave of urbanization as rural populations move to cities in search of employment. While urbanization is an important component of the process of economic development, it also stresses upon the energy and transport infrastructure leading to congestion and pollution. According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities inthe world. Electric vehicles (EVs) can improve the environment by reducing concentrations of pollutants released from fossil fuels.
- Less Dependency on Fossil Fuels:India depends largely on oil imports to meet its energy needs. The percentage of oil import is likely to reach 92% of the total demand by 2020.High import dependence along with continuously increasing prices of oil poses a serious challenge for India’s future energy security. Switching to EV will make India less dependent on fossil fuels, providing a major thrust to its economy.
- The Indian Electric Vehicle Industry could cumulatively add about $300 billion by 2030 according to NITI Aayog. This is a massive opportunity for a wide range of Indian businesses-both large and small, and in all main value chain sectors -manufacturing, trading and services.
- A successful transition to electric vehicles will significantly improve India’s energy security;improve its balance of payment position creating a growth-friendly environment for the economy and make Indian cities, which top the pollution charts, more liveable.
- Recently, Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs launched the biggest tribal movement to promote tribal enterprise through Bamboonomics in the country under the 4P1000 initiative.
- The event was held on the concluding day of the 14th session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
- To provide job security to the tribal population for their better growth and development.
- The initiative is launched under the Central government's Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) through bamboo cultivation project under Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan scheme. The initiative has been launched jointly with a German company named
- Two high-powered committees chaired by Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation (TRIFED) will monitor the on-ground delivery of the bamboo project and linkages at the national and international level.
- TRIFED will integrate its Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojna (PMVDY) with this new global environmental intervention termed as TRIFED’s Initiative to Combat Desertification (TICD).
- It proposed a business model to supplement the income of tribal community.
Van Dhan Yojana(VDY)
Ecological Importance of Bamboo
- Bamboo has a higher carbon sequestration potential compared to other trees and can help restore fertility of degraded land. It is a pioneering plant and can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor population.
- It is a natural water control barrier. It’s wide spread root system and large canopy helps in reducing rain runoff, thus preventing massive soil erosion.
Impact of Bamboonomics
- The importance of indigenous community in combating desertification and for environmental upgradation is crucial as the tribal community has lived in a very eco-friendly manner for generations in and around the forest areas and they have never degraded the forest lands. So, their expertise and experience should be taken into consideration.
- The initiative will involve the tribal community of India for rehabilitating the degraded land without compromising the income of the poor in the garb of environmentally friendly development.
Challenges Faced by Tribals
Loss of Control over Natural Resources
- Tribal people survival depends on the land they have lived in harmony with for generations and by taking away forest lands for industries and plantation forestry instead of preserving natural species that provide livelihood to these people, the government is depriving them of the basic means of livelihood.
- Majority of tribes live under poverty line. Primary occupations, lack of resources and industrialization, derogated social and economic life, illiteracy are the various factors related to it. It gives rise to other problems like malnutrition, high crime and death rate, physical and psychological disorders,etc.
- Malnutrition is the most common health problem among tribals. In addition, they are prone to variety of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, etc.
Displacement and Rehabilitation Issues
- Tribal are usually the most affected amongst the displaced due to government plan such as construction of dam or industries. Displacement further increases their poverty due to loss of land, home, jobs, food insecurity, and loss of access to common property assets, mortality and social isolation.
- The tribal culture is entirely different from the way of life of the civilized people which make them suspicious towards the civilized people. They are clinging tenaciously to their customs and traditions which is also a major hindrance in their growth and development. Further, the cultural gap is hindering the integration of the tribal people into the mainstream of the national life of India.
- There are ample numbers of state government and central government schemes under which the funds flow to the tribal welfare. But, still the basic facilities like health, education, accessibility and livelihood has remained the major challenge in the tribal areas.
- There is a need to take up massive awareness creation activities among the tribal to make them realise their development potential, which is the way forward for the tribal development.
On 26th August, 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, acknowledging the progress that has been made to implement Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019, extended the timeline to invite comments on it till 24.09.2019.
Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy
The Draft NREP envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land), and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity.
It aims to implement resource efficiency across all resources including both biotic and abiotic resources, sectors and life cycle stages.
- Reduce primary resource consumption to sustainable levels, in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
- Create higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches
- Minimize waste creation and loss of embedded resources at the end-of-life of products
- Ensure security of material supply and reduce import dependence for essential materials
- Create employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration
Salient Features of NREP
- It mandates setting up of National Resource Efficiency Authority
- (NREA) to drive the agenda of resource efficiency across the country. An inter-ministerial National Resource Efficiency Advisory Board (NREAB) will provide necessary guidance on the aspects critical to the implementation of resource efficiency across all sectors.
- Establish resource efficiency targets(based on 6Rs principles) for material recycling, reuse and landfilling targets for various sectors, in order to steer the country towards the circular economy.
- Set standards and guidelines for reuse of secondary raw materials to address concerns regarding material quality, for product design to make products more durable, make use of secondary materials, and easy to repair and/or recycle.
- Create and maintain database of material use and waste generated, recycled and landfilled, across various sectors and life cycle stages and across different regions (states/zones). To this purpose NREA will design database templates which will be fed in by concerned government agencies.
- Establish audit mechanisms with deterrent penal provisions regulated by law, which will be undertaken by the concerning government agencies.
- Provide training and capacity building to key actors responsible for undertaking or overseeing resource efficiency plans and strategies.
Resource Efficiency (RE)
- It is a strategy to achieve the maximum possible benefit with least possible resource Fostering resource efficiency aims at governing and intensifying resource utilization in a purposeful and effective way.
- It is the ratio between a given benefit or result and the natural resources use required for it.
Circular Economy (CE)
- It is an alternative to the traditional linear economy in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value, recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
- Circular Economy along with RE are important goals and central principles for achieving sustainable development.
These principles arekey to drive resource efficiency and refer to:
Need For Resource Efficiency in India
Benefits of Resource Efficiency
- It brings about multiple benefits along the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental.
Government’s Role towards Resource Efficiency
- NITI Aayog in collaboration with the European Union delegation to India released the Strategy on Resource Efficiency in 2017. The strategy aims to promote resource efficiency in India.
- Besides, the government should:
- Set-up in house resource efficiency institution(resource efficiency cell) in their ministry/region to work and coordinate the tasks on resource efficiency in their concerned sector/region.
- Implement the resource efficiency strategies, for their concerned sector/region.
- Develop and implement policy instruments and enabling regulatory frameworks for resource efficiency in their concerned sector and/or region.
- Facilitate b relevant datasets for their concernedsector/region.
- Facilitate setting-up of infrastructure for recovery and recycling eg. setting-up of Material Recycling Zones (MRZs) that co-locate recyclers and end use producers with common facilities and shared infrastructure.
- Institutionalize product labelling requirements that include relevant information about product with information on its safe usage and disposal.
- Implement green public procurement that includes procurement of product manufactured from recycled scrap materials, use of recycled materials etc.
- Implement waste segregation at sources in all its offices, residential areas and other establishments.
- Incentivise production and consumption of resource efficient products through appropriate fiscal incentives in order to correct for market failures.
- Natural resources form the backbone of any economic development. Resources not only help in meeting our basic needs, but also fulfill human aspirations for a better quality of life, higher standards of living.
- Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that the potential trade-off between growth and environmental well-being can be minimized.
- Owing to current grim situation, the NREP, 2019 seeks to create a facilitative and regulatory environment to mainstream resource efficiency across all sectors by fostering cross-sectoralcollaborations, development of policy instruments, action plans and efficient implementation and monitoring frameworks.