Article 35A and related issues
The Supreme Court has said that it would take an “in-chamber” decision on listing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
‘In-chamber’ decision refers to a process of decision making where the orders are issued from the Justice’s chambers without a formal court proceeding.
In August last year, the top court adjourned hearing on a batch of petitions challenging Article 35A till January this year, after taking note of submissions of the Centre and the state government that there was a law and order problem in the state.
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court which says Article 35A was against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it created a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. It said restricting citizens from other States from getting employment or buying property within Jammu and Kashmir is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.
The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.
How did it come about?
Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
The controversial Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered into between Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah, which extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Presidential Order was issued under Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution. This provision allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
So, Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
Critical side of Article 35A:
It treats non-permanent residents of J&K as ‘second-class’ citizens.
Non-permanent residents of J&K are not eligible for employment under the State government and are also debarred from contesting elections.
Meritorious students are denied scholarships and they cannot even seek redress in any court of law.
Further, the issues of refugees who migrated to J&K during Partition are still not treated as ‘State subjects’ under the J&K Constitution.
It was inserted unconstitutionally, bypassing Article 368 which empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution.
The laws enacted in pursuance of Article 35A are ultra vires of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution, especially, and not limited to, Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (protection of life).
This matter requires the active participation of all stakeholders. It is necessary to give confidence to the residents of J&K that any alteration in status quo will not take away their rights but will boost J&K’s prosperity as it will open doors for more investment, resulting in new opportunities. Article 35A, which was incorporated about six decades ago, now requires a relook, especially given that J&K is now a well-established democratic State.
Source: The Hindu
The detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed ₹5,900 crore Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project was submitted by Karnataka to the Central Water Commission.
About Mekedatu dam project:
Being set up by the Karnataka government, the project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu. Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.
Presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
Entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
Headed by a Chairman, with the status of Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India.
Now, the DPR will be placed before the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and after its approval, will be brought before the Advisory Committee of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.
The DPR will be examined in specialised directorates of CWC including the Inter-State Matters Directorate, and if found acceptable, will be submitted to the Advisory Committee of Irrigation and Multipurpose Projects of the Ministry of Water Resources, for acceptance.
On the basis of the note prepared by CWC and deliberations during the meeting of the Advisory Committee, a decision on acceptance of the project will be taken.
Why is Tamil Nadu opposing?
Tamil Nadu has been vehemently opposing the project and the CWC’s decision to grant permission for Karnataka to prepare the DPR.
Arguments of TN:
Proposed reservoir violates the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Cauvery Tribunal. The Supreme Court had noted that the existing storage in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka should be taken into account for ensuring water releases to Tamil Nadu during the period of June to January.
The centre says that the DPR submitted by Karnataka was subject to the amicable resolution of connected inter-State matters. However, Kerala, referring to the Guidelines of Submission, Appraisal and Acceptance of Irrigation and Multipurpose Project of 2017, argued that inter-State aspects had to be dealt with even at the stage of preparing the pre-feasibility report on the project.
Facts for Prelims- Cauvery River:
River rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in south-western Karnataka state.
It flows in a south-easterly direction for 475 miles through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, the river breaks into a large number of distributaries.
In the upper course, at the Krishnaraja Sagara, the Kaveri is joined by two tributaries, the Hemavati and Lakshmantirtha, where a dam was constructed for irrigation.
Upon entering Tamil Nadu, the Kaveri continues through a series of twisted wild gorges until it reaches Hogenakal Falls. There the Mettur Dam was constructed for irrigation and hydel power.
The Kaveri’s main tributaries are the Kabani (Kabbani), Amaravati, Noyil, and Bhavani rivers.
Source: The Hindu
CMAI to help govt. in ‘Size India’ project
The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) will work with the Union Ministry of Textiles in the “Size India” project, which is expected to be launched next month.
CMAI will conduct a study across India to arrive at standard sizes.
About ‘Size India’ project:
The ‘Size India’ project will help create a India-specific size chart for the textiles and garment industry.
Aim: To arrive at standard Indian sizes for apparels.
Significance: The project will reduce overall prices and the consumers will stand to benefit from it.
Details of the project:
Under the project, anthropometric data will be collected from 25,000 sample (with men and women in equal numbers) population in age group 15 to 65 years across six major cities.
It will create database of measurements that will result in standardized size chart which is representative of Indian population and can be adopted by apparel industry.
Why have standard size?
Apparel retail is one of the important drivers of modern retail in India, with its total size estimated to be $72 billion.
Developed countries such as the U.S. and U.K. have standard sizes for apparels. Having standard sizes will reassure customers when they purchase a product, both online and at outlets, and will reduce wastages for the apparel manufacturers.
At present, large percentage of population face difficulty in finding clothes that fit them perfectly according to their body measurements. This is mainly due to differences in anthropometric built of people in different geographical regions across the country.
Source: The Hindu
Debt-to-GDP ratio of Centre and states
The centre has released a Status Paper on Government Debt for 2017-18.
The Centre’s total debt as a percentage of GDP reduced to 46.5% in 2017-18 from 47.5% as of March 31, 2014.
The total debt of the States has risen to 24% in 2017-18, and is estimated to be 24.3% in 2018-19.
In absolute terms, the Centre’s total debt increased from ₹56,69,429 crore at the end of March 2014 to ₹82,35,178 crore in 2017-18, representing a 45% increase. The total debt of the States increased from ₹24,71,270 crore to ₹40,22,090 crore over the same period, an increase of almost 63%.
While the Centre is moving in the right direction in terms of meeting the N.K. Singh Committee recommendations on public debt, the States are moving in the opposite direction.
Outstanding liabilities of States have increased sharply during 2015-16 and 2016-17, following the issuance of UDAY bonds in these two years.
The increase in the debt stock at the State level is worrying because they don’t have the wherewithal to service the debt if it goes beyond a certain point. They could then start getting into a debt trap situation.
Recommendations by N.K. Singh committee:
The N.K. Singh-headed FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Review Committee report had recommended the ratio to be 40% for the Centre and 20% for the States, respectively, by 2023.
It said that the 60% consolidated Central and State debt limit was consistent with international best practices, and was an essential parameter to attract a better rating from the credit ratings agencies.
Way ahead for states:
The States do have some fiscal space to reduce their borrowing in the coming years due to the large cash surpluses they hold. This indicates scope for reducing the quantum of market borrowings by State governments in case they bring down their cash surpluses (parked as investment in treasury bills of the Central government).
State governments as a group have exhibited a tendency to hold large cash surpluses/investments in Cash Balance Investment Account on a consistent basis while at the same time resorting to market borrowings to finance their GFD (Gross Fiscal Deficit).
Source: The Hindu
ILO Commission’s Future of Work Report
The Global Commission on the Future of Work released its report on Jan 22. The document calls on governments to take steps to address the challenges caused by unprecedented transformations going on in the world of work.
Concerns and challenges highlighted by the report:
Due to the unprecedented transformational change in the world of work, there are several transformational challenges that are bound to occur.
Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will lead to job losses, as skills become obsolete.
Among the 10 recommendations are:
A universal labour guarantee that protects fundamental workers’ rights, an adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.
Guaranteed social protection from birth to old age that supports people’s needs over the life cycle.
A universal entitlement to lifelong learning that enables people to skill, reskill and upskill.
Managing technological change to boost decent work, including an international governance system for digital labour platforms.
Greater investments in the care, green and rural economies.
A transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.
Reshaping business incentives to encourage long-term investments.
Need of the hour:
It is time for a vision for a human-centred agenda that is based on investing in people’s capabilities, institutions of work and in decent and sustainable work.
Countless opportunities lie ahead to improve the quality of working lives, expand choice, close the gender gap, reverse the damages wreaked by global inequality. Yet none of this will happen by itself.
Governments, trade unions and employers need to work together, to make economies and labour markets more inclusive. Such a social dialogue can help make globalization work for everyone.
About Global Commission on Future of Work:
The formation of a ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work marks the second stage in the ILO Future of Work Initiative.
Its job is to undertake an in-depth examination of the future of work that can provide the analytical basis for the delivery of social justice in the 21st century.
Its job also includes identifying the key challenges facing the world of work and making practical recommendations about how these may be addressed in the future.
Source: The Hindu
Arrow 3 interceptor system
Arrow 3 interceptor system was recently successfully tested.
Arrow 3 is intended to serve as Israel’s highest-altitude missile interception system.
It is jointly funded, developed and produced by Israel and the United States.
The system is designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere.
Israel’s Arrow system, partly financed by the United States, was developed and produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries in partnership with Boeing.
Concern: Arrow 3 may serve as an anti-satellite weapon, which would make Israel one of the world’s few countries capable of shooting down satellites.
Global Talent Competitive Index 2019
Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for 2019 has been released.
GTCI, launched in 2013, is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.
The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 68 variables such as ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.
Ranked at 80.
India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent.
There is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.
Switzerland followed by Singapore, the US, Norway and Denmark were in the top five on the list.
China emerged as the best performer among the BRICS countries, with an overall position of 45th.