News & Editorial Analysis 9 January 2023


News & Editorial Analysis 9 January 2023


The Hindu News Analysis

1 – Abortion rules in India:

GS I Topic Women Empowerment

Context:

Shalini, a resident of Mumbai, attempted to seek an abortion at the government-run J.J. Hospital in December of last year but was turned down. Doctors at the hospital determined that her case was complicated legally. She was single, more than 20 weeks along, and the pregnancy was due to “failure of contraception.” She then proceeded to the charitable Wadia Hospital, but was once again turned away.

What is the Indian law regarding abortion?

Historical Summary:

According to Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, a woman who had an abortion before the 1960s may be sentenced to three years in prison and/or a fine (IPC).

In the middle of the 1960s, the government formed the Dr. Shantilal Shah-led Shantilal Shah Committee and asked the group to look into the topic of abortions and assess whether India need a law for the same.

Based on the Shantilal Shah Committee’s recommendations, a medical termination bill was introduced to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and adopted by Parliament in August 1971.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, which applied to all of India with the exception of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, came into force on April 1st, 1972.

Additionally, even if the expectant mother consents to the miscarriage, Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 renders purposefully “causing a miscarriage” illegal unless it is done to save the woman’s life.

This suggests that anybody involved in an abortion, including the woman herself, could be charged.
Two stages of medical pregnancy termination were permitted by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971:

One doctor’s approval was all that was necessary for abortions up to 12 weeks after conception.
Two medical opinions were required for pregnancies between 12 and 20 weeks to determine whether continuing the pregnancy would endanger the mother’s life or seriously harm her physical or mental health, or whether there was a high likelihood that the child would be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities that would qualify it as “handicapped.”

Recent alterations:

In 2021, Parliament amended the law to allow abortions for pregnancies up to 20 weeks based on a single doctor’s recommendation.

The revised guideline now calls for the recommendation of two doctors for pregnancies that are 20 to 24 weeks along.

Seven categories of women were also specified in the recommendations as being eligible to request an abortion under section 3B of the regulations created under the MTP Act for pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks. rape, sexual assault, or incest survivors Minors,

changing one’s marital status during pregnancy (divorce and widowhood), women with physical constraints, and (major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016)

ladies who suffer from mental disorders like mental retardation,

the likelihood that a child may be born with severe physical or mental disabilities or a foetal anomaly that provides a serious risk of being incompatible with life

Pregnant women who are affected by crises, disasters, or humanitarian situations may be designated by the government.

What are the concerns?

Unsafe abortion cases: Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) State of the World Population Report 2022. More than 8 women die every day from illnesses linked to improper abortions.

Low-income, single, and unmarried women are frequently forced to use unsafe or illegal means of ending unwanted pregnancies.

According to a 2018 research in the Lancet, India has 15.6 million abortions yearly as of 2015.
Only gynaecologists or obstetricians are authorised to perform abortions in accordance with the MTP Act.

However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s 2019–20 Rural Health Statistics report reveals that there is a 70% shortage of obstetrician–gynecologists in rural India.

Maternal Mortality as a Result of Illegal Abortions: Because the law outlaws spontaneous abortion, it drives women to access illegal abortions in risky situations, increasing maternal mortality.

How to Proceed:

India’s legal system is widely seen as progressive in comparison to many other countries, such as the United States, where abortion restrictions are rigidly upheld both historically and today.

Additionally, public policy needs to be thoroughly rethought in order to take into account all the stakeholders and prioritise women and their reproductive rights rather than establishing limitations on what doctors can and cannot do when performing abortions.


2 – Council of Ministers:

GS II Topic Parliament related issues

Context:

Congress must balance the interests of the many regions, castes, and factions while introducing new talent into the Cabinet during expansion.

After Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Mukesh Agnihotri took their oaths of office as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, the expansion of the 28-day-old government is scheduled for four weeks. To appease his supporters and the faction of State Congress Chief Pratibha Singh, Mr. Sukhu must go through a challenging process.

About:

While Article 74 of the Constitution deals with the position of the council of ministers, Article 75 of the Constitution deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibilities, qualifications, oath, salaries, and allowances of ministers.

The three categories of ministers that comprise the COM are cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers. All of these ministers are listed underneath the Prime Minister.

Government Ministers These people are in charge of the major divisions of the Central Government, including as the divisions of home, defence, finance, and external affairs.

The Cabinet is the principal policy-making body of the Central government.

Ministers of State: These people can either be attached to cabinet ministers or given independent responsibility for specific ministries or departments.

Deputy Ministers: They assist cabinet members or ministers of state in carrying out their legislative, political, and administrative duties.

Sometimes, the COM will also have a deputy prime minister. Politics plays a major role in choosing the deputy prime ministers.

Constitutional provisions:

According to Article 74, the President’s advice from the Ministers is not susceptible to judicial review (COM to assist and advise President).

The President is required to abide by the suggestion made after the COM’s review of the President’s request for the review of such advice.

Article 75 states that the President shall appoint the Prime Minister and that the President shall appoint the other Ministers on the suggestion of the Prime Minister (Other Provisions as to Ministers).

The Prime Minister and a maximum of 15% of the entire membership of the Lok Sabha are eligible to serve as ministers in the COM.

This section was inserted by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.

If a minister misses six consecutive months of the Parliament (either chamber), they lose their position.

According to Article 77 (Conduct of Business of the Government of India), the President is required to make laws for the more practical conduct of the Government of India’s business and for the allocation of said business among Ministers.

Article 78 (Prime Minister’s Duties) COM decisions regarding the administration of Union affairs and legislative measures shall be communicated to the President.

According to Article 88, each minister is entitled to speak and take part in any proceedings of either House, any joint sitting of the Houses, and any Committee of Parliament of which he may be named a member (Rights of Ministers with Respect to the Houses). However, he won’t be able to cast a ballot.

Ministers’ obligations:

Individual Responsibility: The COM is jointly and severally liable to the Lok Sabha in accordance with Article 75. As a result, the Lok Sabha would jointly be responsible for all of each minister’s actions, both good and negative.

Individual Responsibilities: The concept of personal accountability is also included in Article 75. This section states that a minister may be fired by the President at any time, even if the COM has the support of the Lok Sabha. According to the saying, ministers work at the president’s pleasure.
But the President will only remove a minister on the Prime Minister’s advice.

State Council of Ministers: The Council of Ministers in States is structured and performs business in the same way as the Council of Ministers at the Center, in accordance with Articles 163 (COM to assist and advise Governor) and 164 (Other Provisions relating to Ministers).


3 – Census:

GS II Topic Government Policies and Interventions

Context:

The deadline for setting administrative boundary freezes had been extended until June 30, the administration informed the States. The yearly census process has been put off until at least September as a result.

It is only three months after the boundaries of administrative divisions like districts, sub-districts, tehsils, talukas, and police stations have been frozen that a census may be conducted, per the rules. It is necessary to take into account any changes in jurisdiction between two successive censuses before deciding on administrative unit borders. The most recent census was conducted in 2011.

About Census:

The process of acquiring, compiling, analysing, and disseminating statistical data on the population is known as a census.

It comprises statistics about the population, the economy, and society as of a particular date.

What is the purpose of the census?

To collect data for the planning and policy-making processes of the federal and state governments.
The census indicates our nation’s identity and future direction.

It supports government decision-making regarding the distribution of funds and help to cities and states.

The census data is extensively used by numerous national and international organisations, academics, businesses, manufacturers, and other parties.

What is the significance of the census?

This most trustworthy information source offers data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Language, Religion, Immigration, Disability, Economic Activity, Literacy, Housing & Household Amenities, Urbanization, Fertility and Mortality, as well as many other socio-cultural and demographic data.

Delineation of constituencies and reservations: The Parliament, the Assembly, the Panchayats, and other Local Bodies use the demographic data from the Census to make decisions as well.

Administration: The census provides the framework for assessing the country’s development during the past 10 years and maintaining a record of the ongoing Government Schemes.

Future planning: It provides ways to organise, handle problems, and develop. The government analyses the census data and creates future policies in line with it.

In-depth analyses: Since a census guarantees to count every Indian, even the best sample surveys cannot compete with it. It will be challenging for the state to conceal or ignore the data when it relates to every individual during a census.

Welfare programmes: Developing identification and confirming it over time depend on identifying the actual recipients through a census.

Statistics from the census allow for simple cross-temporal comparison.

India’s most recent census:

In India, the Maurya dynasty, which was a very long time ago, was when the first censuses were first conducted.

Since it has been running consistently since 1881 despite being organised from 1865 to 1872, it is a dependable source of information.

Despite diseases, wars, Partition, and other turmoil from 1881 to 2011, India regularly performed decadal censuses, with COVID-19 being the lone exception.

The 2011 Census marks the fifteenth nationwide count in the nation.

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is dropping quickly and is expected to stabilise, according to the census.

The 2011 Census also refuted the notion that divorce rates varied between urban and rural India.

According to census data, the divorce rate in urban areas (0.89%) is roughly identical to that in rural areas (0.82%).

Why was the 2021 census that was supposed to take place delayed forever?

The Ministry of Home Affairs notified the Lok Sabha that the arrival of the Coid-19 epidemic was to blame for the massive, decennial exercise’s premature termination in August 2021.

What was the original schedule for the Census, and why was it postponed?

a publication in the Gazette The Center planned to conduct the Census in 2021, according to a notice that was issued in The Gazette of India on March 28, 2019. The exercise was to be completed in two phases, with the housing Census taking place in April 2020 and the population count concluding on February 9, 2021. but it was prevented by the spread of COVID-19.

A different timeline following COVID-19: A Parliamentary subcommittee was given a draught alternative schedule by the Home Ministry in March 2021. It stated that the fieldwork for the first phase, which would provide data on housing conditions, household amenities, and assets possessed by households, is anticipated to take place in 2021–2022, while the fieldwork to count the population and collect data on demography, religion, Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC/ST), language, literacy, and education, economic activity, migration, and fertility would be finished in 2023–2024, it said.

Said The Ministry stated that preliminary statistics will be released in 2023–2024 prior to the following general elections. More detailed tables with village-level data on specific indicators will often continue to be made accessible after the key information is released.

Effect of the 2021 census delay:

Targeted public distribution system: Under the National Food Security Act of 2013, 50% and 75% of rural residents, respectively, are eligible to receive government-subsidized food grains (PDS).

According to the 2011 Census, India has over 121 crore people, hence the PDS covered about 80 crore people.

If we used the predicted population of 137 crore, more than 10 crore people would continue to be denied access to subsidised food benefits. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where 2.8 crore and 1.8 crore expected exclusions, there would be the largest discrepancies.

Welfare programmes: Although the Government intended to use SECC data, the anticipated expansion’s funding allotment fell short.

Although the majority of programmes do not base their beneficiary selection on census data, planning, budgeting, and policy implementation do.

Several programmes must use the disaggregated age and fertility data to assess their effectiveness as demographics change over time.

Significant lag in migration data: COVID19 lockdowns revealed that it was impossible to identify the numbers, causes, and migration trends using the most recent 2011 Census data.

The D-tables on migration from the 2011 Census were only made available to the public in 2019, therefore when they were released, they were already out of date.

Except for the One Nation, One Ration card programme, which now allows food subsidy benefits to move anywhere, the migration data is actually not used all that much in general economic policy and planning.


4 – Joshimath Town:

GS I Topic Places in News

Context:

Residents of Joshimath are calling on the government to relocate and provide new dwellings for everyone who lost their properties in the town where they had put their life savings and are attributing their plight on significant electricity and road development projects. A Himalayan pilgrimage site called Joshimath seems to be sinking. Representatives from the National Disaster Management Authority are expected in the town on Monday to assess the situation and offer guidance to the State government.

How is the general public reacting?

Hotels have been closed, families have been evacuated, residences have developed cracks, and the ropeway service has been discontinued. People are furious.

Location:

The settlement near Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib, which is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand at an elevation of 6,000 feet, is in seismically active “Zone-V.”

It is at the top of the Main Central Thrust (MCT) line.

The ground is unstable throughout the entire state of Uttarakhand. Additionally, Joshimath in particular is constructed on old land deposits.

Therefore, Joshimath is constantly at risk for landslides. Joshimath locals find fractures in their homes and farms every year as a result.

One of the most important sites in Hinduism is located here, the Jyotirmath Hindu monastery.
Also nearby is one of the closest military installations on China’s border.

About the MCT line (Main Central Thrust):

Simply defined, the MCT is a geological fault or crack in the Himalayas.

It is the result of the interaction between the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates.

The region underneath the MCT is particularly vulnerable because of frequent tectonic activity.
Therefore, seismic activity is relatively common in MCT locations.

Over 2200 kilometres of the MCT cross the Himalayas in a northwest-southeast direction. Joshimath is positioned above the MCT.

Who is responsible?

Both natural phenomena and human action contributed to Joshimath’s predicament.

Nearly all of Joshimath’s wards have structural flaws and damage as a result of ground subsidence, which causes the earth’s surface to gradually settle or suddenly sink as a result of the removal or relocation of underlying components.

The Tapovan-Vishnugad hydro project’s tunnelling and slope cutting, as well as the current construction of the Helang bypass, are regarded to be some of the main sources of sinking.
According to the 1976 Mishra Committee report, significant development activities should be forbidden since “Joshimath stands atop an ancient landslide.”

Actionable suggestions:

More construction should only be done there after the stability of the site has been determined, and excavation down the slope should be forbidden.

No trees should be cut down or rocks removed using blasting or excavation in the landslide zone.

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The Hindu Editorial Aanalysis

Political Parties Are Not Like Companies

Introduction:

Political watchers frequently hold the belief that political parties are like businesses and their leaders are like CEOs, especially in the days following important elections. The analogy is used to emphasise the argument that political party leaders should also be held accountable for disappointing election results, just as CEOs should be for a poor quarter.

This analogy is flawed and gives the wrong impression of how political parties function. This is particularly problematic in India because there is little possibility for negotiation and compromise in politics there, as opposed to, say, the United States. Therefore, an understanding of political party behaviour is crucial to understanding Indian politics.

Differences:

A key distinction between the two is that whereas businesses have employees, political parties have candidates and volunteers. Every aspect of the two entities’ operations and decision-making are impacted by this distinction. The objective of a political party is to take over the state in order to further a specified social agenda.

The party must be seen as a microcosm of society, with its organisation being populated by volunteers rather than paid employees, in order for this goal to be justified.

Because of this, even though all parties employ some paid personnel, honorary positions like area presidents and in-charges give their holders the opportunity to make political decisions and assume executive authority. Despite this, there are many applicants fighting for each position, regardless of the reputation or position’s authority.

On the other hand, the vast majority of private companies operate in a constrained, apolitical market. Politics in the sense of expressing a value judgement about the direction society is taking and the trade-offs that arise is not part of a corporation’s duty.

Although political judgement plays a part in how the business runs, it is used at the highest levels rather than by specific employees at their level. Paid employees who perform clearly defined, non-overlapping roles and have the reasonable expectation that their professional abilities will be sufficient for their task make up the entirety of a company’s workforce.

It is obvious that comparing a political party to a company doesn’t make much sense given the aforementioned context. A political party must forge agreements, broker deals between numerous conflicting interests, and then rally the electorate behind its chosen narrative. This ecosystem is less defined than one where predetermined goods and services are exchanged for profit.

The fact that there are many applicants for each position will surely muddy the pitch for the party’s activities. Even while the power of dissidents is frequently curbed, political parties are by their very nature open to the public, so it is not wise nor practical to forbid people from participating in how the organisation is conducted.

Political parties are in the business of generating opinions, especially in an environment where elections are competitive. As a result, internal conflict and conflicts of interest have a direct impact on how well a party performs.

Examples include a lack of action, leaks and sabotage, dissident candidates, and contradictory statements made by party leaders during important campaigns. Every aspect of the party’s operations, from fundraising to outreach, is affected when such internal factionalism is made public.
It is now possible to suggest that a political party may allay these worries by enforcing “discipline.” Political functionaries cannot be “fired” like workers because many of them were never employed in the first place.

This is so that, in addition to performing their duties as political functionaries, they can represent a variety of interests. Therefore, the ability to enforce discipline throughout a political party is directly impacted by the leadership’s ability to consolidate control at the top.

This emphasises a crucial difference between a political party and a business: authority in a political party is more loosely structured and variable than in a business. Hierarchy, compartmentalization, professionalisation, discipline, and responsibility are examples of organisational ideas that do not translate well within a political setting.

In a corporation, the promoter can assign management to a “professional” without worrying that they will lose control as long as they own the majority of the shares. A political party’s delegation of power could be lost, nevertheless, if the represented interests realign.

Current trends:

It is feasible to spot trends towards the “corporatization” and “professionalisation” of political parties given these anomalies in how they run. Political parties are starting to exclude political judgement from a number of positions, including spokespersons, whose presentation of the party opinion is completely unrelated to actual decision-making authority.

Similar to this, the anti-defection act limits elected officials to the whip and grants party leadership complete authority over all decisions, robbing them of their political freedom.

Chief Ministers who avoid Ministers by using the bureaucracy and the hiring of political consultants who avoid the party machinery are two further examples of the professionalisation of political parties.

Instead of enhancing efficiency, this has instead contributed to a worsening of the public good. Political discretion has been taken away from positions, which has affected the negotiation abilities of persons in those positions and made them replaceable like employees.

Thanks to the “professionalisation” of politics, political bureaucrats are now able to move parties like workers changing employment. This reduces the legitimacy of the political system as a whole.

Conclusion:

Politics is ultimately a pursuit of values. Corporateization of our parties is not the way to go, even though we should demand competence and accountability from political representatives.

Political Parties Are Not Like Companies Differences Current trends #India #World #Daily #The_Hindu_Editorial_Analysis #IAS #UPSC #Stact_PSC #Prelims #Mains #Geo_IAS


The Indian Express Editorial Analysis

Intrest Rate Hike For Small Savings Schemes

Present circumstances:

In response to rising returns on government assets, the Finance Ministry last week raised the interest rates for a few small savings programmes by 20-110 basis points for the quarter spanning January to March.

Even though the boost will protect against rising interest rates and inflation, the tiny savings rates remain below ideal levels.

Rates of small savings have risen:

For the second consecutive quarter, there has been an uneven increase in the rates for small savings plans. While the interest rates on a 5-year recurring deposit, the Sukanya Samriddhi plan, and the public provident fund scheme have kept the same.

For the months of January through March, rates have increased for time deposits with maturities of one, two, three, and five years as well as the senior citizens savings programme.

The Finance Ministry raised interest rates on some of the modest savings programmes in the months of October through December by 10 to 30 basis points after holding them stable for nine consecutive quarters.

Interest rates were slightly raised for time deposits with durations of two and three years, as well as the elderly citizens programme and the Kisan Vikas Patra.

Increasing interest rate cycle:

In view of rising interest rates and growing inflation, it is thought that increasing the small savings rate is essential to protecting savers, particularly senior citizens.

The ministry contends that it is crucial to strike a balance between the interests of senior citizens and those who invest their money in non-tax-favored vehicles. It also stresses the importance of keeping small savings interest rates in check because, otherwise, the government will end up paying more in interest when it borrows money from the National Small Savings Fund.

The rate tier is set:

Interest rates for small savings plans are modified every three months to reflect changes in benchmark treasury bonds of a similar term.

Small saving rates typically follow yields on benchmark government bonds, but during the past two years, despite changes in G-sec yields, interest rate adjustments have not quite followed yield changes.

The reference period for small savings rates for the January-March quarter is September to November, when the yield on five-year government securities grew by almost 15 basis points.

Are the raises enough?

Investors in small savings programmes are concerned about the real rate of return.

When both inflation and interest rates are high, savings have a low actual rate of return.

The retail inflation rate was over 6% for the majority of last year and only marginally fell to 5.88% in November.

After the Reserve Bank of India raised the key policy rate by 225 basis points, the repo rate is now 6.25 percent.

Prior to the start of the previous quarter, the majority of small savings plans earned interest rates of less than 6%.

The RBI’s Monetary Policy Report, released on September 30, shows that the revised small savings rates were 44–77 basis points lower than the implied rates in the calculation.

Consequences for savers:

Unlike conservative investors and those who have already retired or are about to do so, who mostly rely on small savings plans, monthly income plans, or fixed deposits, younger investors can access the equity markets through mutual funds to grow wealth.

Despite some rate rises on some instruments being excellent news for investors, all other modest savings instruments currently yield negative real returns with the exception of PPF, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, and senior citizens’ savings plans.

Even the senior citizen savings plan has a negative net profit for someone paying the highest tax rate.

Since retail inflation is only approximately 6%, the post-tax return on the majority of small savings instruments won’t even be enough to keep up with inflation for people in the highest tax bracket.

What options do investors have?

A decrease in inflation and interest rates will be advantageous for stocks. Those who are comfortable with stocks should look to them when it comes to investing for retirement.

High-rated debt securities and debt mutual funds are both more tax-efficient investments for those in the highest tax bracket. Stocks are still the best investment to guard against inflation, though.

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