Strengthening the CSR framework is a profitable idea
(GS-II: Development process and the development industry-the role of NGOs, SHGs and various other groups and associations, donors, charities etc)
Since the establishment of the CSR regime in India under Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, CSR spending in India has risen from ₹10,065 crores in 2014-15 to ₹24,865 crores in 2020-21.
CSR data for companies:
There is no data to verify whether the increase is commensurate with the increase in profits of Indian and foreign (having a registered arm in India) companies.
Zero spending: There were 2,926 companies in 2020-21 with zero spending on CSR.
Prescribed limit: Companies spending less than the prescribed limit of 2% rose from 3,078 in 2015-16 to 3,290 in 2020-21.
Participation: There was also a decline in the number of companies participating in CSR.
Private companies have registered their own foundations/trusts: To which they transfer the statutory CSR budgets for utilization.
It is unclear if this is allowed under the Companies Act/CSR rules.
Ashoka University’s Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy: It says that 54% of CSR companies are concentrated in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat (receiving the largest CSR spending)
The populous Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh receive little.
Only 9% was spent on the environment compared to education(37%) and health and sanitation(29%).
The Standing Committee on Finance observed that the information regarding CSR spending by companies is insufficient and difficult to access.
National-level platform centralized by the MCA: Where all States could list their potential CSR-admissible projects so that companies can assess where their CSR funds would be most impactful across India.
Invest India’s ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Projects Repository’ on the India Investment Grid (IIG): It can serve as a guide for impactful efforts.
Companies need to prioritize environmental restoration: In the area where they operate, earmarking at least 25% for environmental regeneration.
Involvement of locals: All CSR projects should be selected and implemented with the active involvement of communities, district administration and public representatives.
J&K delimitation orders have acquired the ‘force of law
Delimitation orders notified in the official gazette, redrawing Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir have acquired the “force of law”.
Previously, the commission increased the number of Assembly seats from 107 to 114 in Jammu and Kashmir. However, it was challenged in the supreme court as being unconstitutional and ultra vires.
The Center derived its powers to form, and fix the scope and tenure of the Delimitation Commission under Section 3 of the Delimitation Act of 2002.
Constitutional Basis for Delimitation:
Under Article 82: the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
Under Article 170:States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
The delimitation commission is an independent body constituted under Article 82 after the Parliament enacted a Delimitation Act after every census.
Who is Included in a Delimitation Commission?
The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
Free trade Agreement
Trade officials from India and the United Kingdom will try to seal India-UK FTA soon, however, U.K. Prime Minister’s new Home Secretary suggested that she would not back the deal if it involved increased immigration to the U.K.
Previously Theresa May( in 2016) had said that “Any increase in visas to Indians would have to co-relate to the “speed and volume of the return of Indians with no right to remain in the UK”.
What is an FTA?
FTA is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
FTAs can be categorized as:
Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)
Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)
It is the international movement of people to a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle as permanent residents or naturalized citizens.
Parliamentary committees, their leaders and their role in law-making
(GS-II: Indian Polity: Parliamentary committee)
Recently, 22 Standing Committees were reorganized.
Parliamentary Standing Committees are permanent committees, it is constituted every year, and work continuously as against non-permanent Ad-hoc committees.
The necessity of Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSC):
For upholding government accountability: Increased volume of work, time constraints, disruptive changes, and complexity of work make Parliament not very effective in upholding the accountability of the executive.
PSC through detailed scrutiny increases the Parliament’s ability to scrutinize government policies and help in the informed debate in the legislature.
Personal Data protection bill was sent to the joint parliamentary committee for detailed review
For upholding Fiscal prudence: PSC examines budgetary allocations for various departments and other policies of the government. It ensures fiscal economy and efficiency in public expenditure
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence last year pointed out that over 35% lower allocation on defence may impair the Armed forces’ weapon acquisition plans
For free and non-partisan debate: PSC provides the Platform for ‘closed door’ meetings and members are not bound by party whips, thus allowing them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views.
For protecting citizens’ rights e.g. the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology grilled two Twitter India representatives this year (2021) over concerns about safeguarding people’s rights on the social media platform.
For all-around engagement with relevant stakeholders: E.g. On the subject of demonetization, the RBI governor was summoned by the Finance Committee.
For acting as the link between Parliament and the People and between Administration and the Parliament: PSC seeks Public feedback to make laws more holistic and farsighted.
PSC acts as Mini-Parliament:The members represent smaller units of MPs from both Houses, and across political parties.
They are not bound by populist demand, remain informal and work away from public and media glare. Thus they are better suited for providing holistic and non-biased advice and scrutiny of the bills.
Measures to reform PSC functioning:
Committee referrals: It should be made mandatory for all the bills and budgets to be examined by PSC by convention
For this rules of procedure in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be amended
Increase the tenure: Some constitutional experts argue to increase the PSC tenure from 1 year to two years, to give them more time and gain more expertise in their respective areas.
Expert support for committees: Institutional research and expert support will allow committees to better scrutinize the bills and recommend innovative solutions to the government
Mandatory Discussion of all major reports:Major committee reports should be discussed in Parliament esp. for the reports where there is a disagreement between a Committee and the government.
NCRWC recommended Periodic Review of PSC: DRSCs should be periodically reviewed on their utility
Recommendation of former President Pranab Mukherjee: Parliamentary Standing Committees should scrutinize Ministries that are not audited by PAC.
Thus strengthening the committee system and bringing changes in the passage of bills will ensure greater quality of legislative work and minimize potential implementation challenges. Also, concerned ministers should be made to appear before the committee to explain and defend the government policies (as is done in other countries). This will help in ensuring Representativeness, Responsiveness, and Accountability in the Parliamentary working.