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9th September Current Affairs

Minimum support price (MSP)

(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices)

In News:

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the increase in the MSP for all mandated Rabi crops for the Rabi Marketing Season 2022-23.

Details:

This will ensure maximum remunerative price for farmers and also encourage them to sow a wide variety of crops.

What is MSP?

MSP is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers. Currently, it fixes MSPs for 23 crops grown in both Kharif and Rabi seasons.

How is it calculated?

The MSP is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers, and is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.

The Union Budget for 2018-19 had announced that MSP would be kept at levels of 1.5 the cost of production.

The MSP is fixed twice a year on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which is a statutory body and submits separate reports recommending prices for kharif and rabi seasons.

Which production costs are taken in fixing the MSPs?

The CACP considers both ‘A2+FL’ and ‘C2’ costs while recommending MSP.

A2 costs cover all paid-out expenses, both in cash and kind, incurred by farmers on seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, hired labour, fuel and irrigation, among others.

A2+FL covers actual paid-out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.

The C2 costs account for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets respectively, on top of A2+FL.

The limitations of MSP:

The major problem with the MSP is lack of government machinery for procurement for all crops except wheat and rice, which the Food Corporation of India actively procures under the PDS.

As state governments procure the last mile grain, the farmers of states where the grain is procured completely by the government benefit more while those in states that procure less are often affected.

The MSP-based procurement system is also dependent on middlemen, commission agents and APMC officials, which smaller farmers find difficult to get access to.

Supreme Court Collegium

(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

The Supreme Court Collegium has approved 10 additional judges of the Karnataka High Court and two from the Kerala High Court for appointment as permanent judges of these courts.

Significance of the move:

The Collegium is pushing hard to fill vacancies. There is likely to be a steady flow of recommendation of names for filling vacancies in the 25 High Courts, which have over 465 vacancies. This is over 41% of the total sanctioned judicial strength of 1,098 in the High Courts.

Who appoints judges to the SC?

In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the appointments are made by the President of India.

The names are recommended by the Collegium.

Eligibility to become a Supreme Court judge:

The norms relating to the eligibility has been envisaged in the Article 124 of the Indian Constitution.

To become a judge of the Supreme court, an individual should be an Indian citizen.

In terms of age, a person should not exceed 65 years of age.

The person should serve as a judge of one high court or more (continuously), for at least five years or the person should be an advocate in the High court for at least 10 years or a distinguished jurist.

Is the collegium’s recommendation final and binding?

The collegium sends its final recommendation to the President of India for approval. The President can either accept it or reject it. In the case it is rejected, the recommendation comes back to the collegium. If the collegium reiterates its recommendation to the President, then he/she is bound by that recommendation.

Common criticism made against the Collegium system:

  • Opaqueness and a lack of transparency.
  • Scope for nepotism.
  • Embroilment in public controversies.
  • Overlooks several talented junior judges and advocates.

Reforms needed:

A transparent and participatory procedure, preferably by an independent broad-based constitutional body guaranteeing judicial primacy but not judicial exclusivity.

It should ensure independence, reflect diversity, demonstrate professional competence and integrity.

Instead of selecting the number of judges required against a certain number of vacancies, the collegium must provide a panel of possible names to the President to appointment in order of preference and other valid criteria.

Jharkhand House clears Bill for 75% quota for locals

(GS-III: Issues related to employment)

In News:

‘The Jharkhand State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2021’ was recently passed by the state Assembly.

Details:

It provides 75% reservation for locals in private sector jobs with a monthly salary of up to ₹40,000.

Once notified, Jharkhand will become the third State, after Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, to pass such a law.

How does the bill define private sector jobs?

The bill will treat shops, establishments, mines, enterprises, industries, companies, societies, trusts, Limited Liability Partnership firms and any person employing ten or more persons as the private sector and an entity. Moreover, the same may be notified by the government from time to time.

Highlights of the Bill:

Every employer needs to register employees on a designated portal who are receiving gross monthly salary or wages not more than Rs 40, 000 — or as notified by the government from time to time — within three months of this bill (after turning into an Act) coming into force.

No person should be engaged or employed unless the registration process is complete on the designated portal.

No local candidate will be eligible to avail 75 per cent benefit without registering herself in the designated portal.

The employer may claim exemption where an adequate number of local candidates of the desired skill qualification or proficiency are not available.

The employer will have to furnish a quarterly return about vacancies and employment on the portal which will be examined by an Authorised Officer (AO), who is a District Employment Officer, who can call any records for the purpose of verification.

The aggrieved employer may also file an appeal within 60 days of an order passed by the AO or DO in front of an Appellate Authority — the Director, Employment and Training, Government of Jharkhand.

Concerns and issues associated with this policy:

  • Violates constitutional provisions- Article 16.
  • Impacts ‘Unity in Diversity’: This policy can lead to a situation of locals vs non-locals in an area, thus posing a threat to the integration of the country.
  • It might discourage capital investment in the region.
  • Impacts freedom of a business.
  • Against the spirit of competition.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

(GS-II: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these)

In News:

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has adopted a resolution urging the Centre to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. With this, Tamil Nadu has joined states like Kerala and West Bengal in passing resolutions against CAA.

Reason: The state said the law is not in tune with the secular principles laid down in our Constitution and also not conducive to the communal harmony that prevails in India.

Background:

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was notified on December 12, 2019 and came into force from January 10, 2020.

It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired.

It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of the territory into India.

About CAA:

The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in their respective countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds.

Exceptions:

The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.

Also areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act’s purview.

Issues surrounding the law:

It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.

It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.

It makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.

It allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.