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11th January Current Affairs

How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)

In News:

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh’s newly formed party Punjab Lok Congress has received its party symbol – Hockey stick and ball.

Firstly, how are symbols allotted to political parties?

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.

Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Powers of Election Commission:

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols.

Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.

The EC is also the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.

How many types of symbols are there?

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:

Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.

Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.

What are the Election Commission’s powers in a dispute over the election symbol when a party splits?

On the question of a split in a political party outside the legislature, Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, states: “When the Commission is satisfied that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party the Commission may decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”

This applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties (like the LJP, in this case). For splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.

Please note that before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

Jan Dhan Yojana

(GS-III: Inclusive growth and issues arising out of it)

In News:

The finance ministry data has revealed that deposits in bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have crossed the Rs 1.5 lakh crore mark.

Performance of the scheme (as of 2021):

The number of total PMJDY accounts stand at more than 44 crore.

54 crore Jan Dhan accounts were held in rural and semi-urban bank branches.

Nearly 24.61 crore account holders were women as of December 29, 2021.

Benefits like scholarships, subsidies, pensions, and COVID relief funds are credited to the bank accounts, including Jan Dhan Accounts, through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

About PMJDY:

Announced on 15th August 2014, PMJDY is National Mission for Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner.

Objectives:

To ensure access of financial products & services at an affordable cost.

Use of technology to lower cost & widen reach.

Basic tenets of the scheme:

Banking the unbanked – Opening of basic savings bank deposit (BSBD) account with minimal paperwork, relaxed KYC, e-KYC, account opening in camp mode, zero balance & zero charges.

Securing the unsecured – Issuance of Indigenous Debit cards for cash withdrawals & payments at merchant locations, with free accident insurance coverage of Rs. 2 lakhs.

Funding the unfunded – Other financial products like micro-insurance, overdraft for consumption, micro-pension & micro-credit.

The scheme is Based upon the following 6 pillars:

Universal access to banking services – Branch and Banking Correspondents.

Basic savings bank accounts with overdraft facility (OD) of Rs. 10,000/- to every household.

Financial Literacy Program– Promoting savings, use of ATMs, getting ready for credit, availing insurance and pensions, using basic mobile phones for banking.

Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund – To provide banks some guarantee against defaults.

Insurance – Accident cover up to Rs. 1,00,000 and life cover of   Rs. 30,000 on account opened between 15 Aug 2014 to 31 January 2015.

Pension scheme for Unorganized sector.

Extension of PMJDY with New features:

Focus shift from Every Household to Every Unbanked Adult.

RuPay Card Insurance – Free accidental insurance cover on RuPay cards increased from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs for PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018.

Enhancement in overdraft facilities – OD limit doubled from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000; OD upto Rs 2,000 (without conditions). Increase in upper age limit for OD from 60 to 65 years.

Semiconductor Chip shortage

(GS-III: Science and technology)

In News:

Experts have warned that Shortage of semiconductor chips would continue following the rapid spread of Omicron variant of COVID-19 across the world but the supply disruptions would not worsen in 2022 as the Omicron surge should have a milder impact on chip supply chain.

What next?

The good news is that the companies have started learning how to deal with increasingly common shortages by building buffer inventory and exploring alternative sourcing to deal with the situation.

Semiconductor Chips:

Semiconductors are materials which have a conductivity between conductors and insulators. They can be pure elements, silicon or germanium or compounds; gallium, arsenide or cadmium selenide.

Significance of Semiconductor Chips:

They are the basic building blocks that serve as the heart and brain of all modern electronics and information and communications technology products.

These chips are now an integral part of contemporary automobiles, household gadgets and essential medical devices such as ECG machines.

Recent Increase in Demand:

The Covid-19 pandemic-driven push to take sizable parts of daily economic and essential activity online, or at least digitally enable them, has highlighted the centrality of the chip-powered computers and smartphones in people’s lives.

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns across the world also forced shut crucial chip-making facilities in countries including Japan, South Korea, China and the US.

Its shortage causes cascading effects, given that the first one creates pent-up demand that becomes the cause for the follow-up famine.

India’s Semiconductor Demand and Related Initiatives:

India currently imports all chips and the market is estimated to touch $100 billion by 2025 from $24 billion now.

The Union Cabinet has recently allocated an amount of ₹76,000 crore for supporting the development of a ‘semiconductors and display manufacturing ecosystem’.

India has also launched the Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) under which a budget outlay of Rs 3,285 crore is spread over a period of eight years for manufacturing of electronics components and semiconductors.

Challenges ahead:

  • High Investments Required.
  • Minimal Fiscal Support from Government.
  • Lack of Fab Capacities.
  • Insufficient Grants under PLI Scheme.
  • Resource Inefficient Sector.

Krishna River water dispute

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

Fearing invectives, both judges on a Supreme Court bench—Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna—created a record of sort by recusing from hearing the Krishna river water dispute case just because they hailed from Maharashtra and Karnataka, two litigants in the case apart from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Need for:

Though the judges take oath to render justice without “fear or favour”, apprehensions over insulting or abusive criticism forced their recusal from the Krishna water dispute case.

Dispute in the court:

Karnataka had sought the vacation of a November 16, 2011, order of the Supreme Court that stopped the Centre from publishing in the Official Gazette (under Section 6(1) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956) the final order of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT) pronounced in December 2010, allocating the river water to Karnataka, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The publication of the tribunal order is a necessary pre-condition for its implementation.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) award:

The dispute began with the erstwhile Hyderabad and Mysore states, and later continuing between successors Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In 1969, the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act, 1956, and presented its report in 1973.

The report, which was published in 1976, divided the 2060 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water at 75 per cent dependability into three parts:

  • 560 TMC for Maharashtra.
  • 700 TMC for Karnataka.
  • 800 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

Revised order:

As new grievances arose between the states, the second KWDT was instituted in 2004.

It delivered its report in 2010, which made allocations of the Krishna water at 65 per cent dependability and for surplus flows as follows:

81 TMC for Maharashtra, 177 TMC for Karnataka, and 190 TMC for Andhra Pradesh.

Why the order hasn’t been published yet?

After the creation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, Andhra Pradesh is asking to include Telangana as a separate party at the KWDT and that the allocation of Krishna waters be reworked among four states, instead of three.

What is Judicial Disqualification or Recusal?

Judicial disqualification, referred to as recusal, is the act of abstaining from participation in an official action such as a legal proceeding due to a conflict of interest of the presiding court official or administrative officer.

Grounds for Recusal:

  • The judge is biased in favour of one party, or against another, or that a reasonable objective observer would think he might be.
  • Interest in the subject matter, or relationship with someone who is interested in it.
  • Background or experience, such as the judge’s prior work as a lawyer.
  • Personal knowledge about the parties or the facts of the case.
  • Ex parte communications with lawyers or non-lawyers.
  • Rulings, comments or conduct.