Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

UPSC: Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

The document Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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1. Tenures of CBI & ED Directors Extended

Why in News

Recently, the President promulgated two ordinances that would allow the Centre to extend the tenures of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate from two years to up to five years.

  • The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act,1946 and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003 have been amended to give the government the power to keep the two chiefs in their posts for one year after they have completed their two-year terms. 
  • The chiefs of the Central agencies currently have a fixed two-year tenure, but can now be given three annual extensions.

Key Points

(i) Amendments in DSPE Act:

  • Provided that the period for which the Director holds the office on his initial appointment may, in public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee (the committee led by the Prime Minister and leader of Opposition and CJI as members) and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time.  
  • Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment.

(ii) Amendments in CVC Act:

  • Provided that the period for which the Director of Enforcement holds the office on his initial appointment may, in public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee (comprising of CVC chief, Revenue and Home Secretaries among others) and for the reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time. 
  • Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment. 

Central Bureau of Investigation

(i) The CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

(ii) The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964)

(iii) The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the DSPE Act, 1946.

(iv) The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.

  • It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal. 
  • It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.

(v) The CBI is headed by a Director. 

(vi) The CBI has jurisdiction to investigate offences pertaining to 69 Central laws, 18 State Acts and 231 offences in the IPC. 

Enforcement Directorate

(i) Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
(ii) On 1st May 1956, an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed, in the Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

  • In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.

(iii) ED enforces the following laws:

  • Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 (FEMA) 
  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA)

2. MPLADS Scheme

Why in News

The Union Cabinet has approved the restoration of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for the remaining part of Financial Year 2021-22 till 2025-26.

  • It will be co-terminus with the period of the 15th Finance Commission. 
  • The scheme was suspended for two financial years (2020-21 and 2021-22).

Key Points

(i) About:

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme which was announced in December 1993.

(ii) Objective:

  • To enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets in the areas of drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation and roads, etc. primarily in their Constituencies. 
  • Since June 2016, the MPLAD funds can also be used for implementation of the schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), conservation of water through rain water harvesting and Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana, etc.

(iii) Implementation:

  • The process under MPLADS starts with the Members of Parliament recommending works to the Nodal District Authority. 
  • The Nodal District concerned is responsible for implementing the eligible works recommended by the Members of Parliament and maintaining the details of individual works executed and amount spent under the Scheme.

(iv) Functioning:

  • Each year, MPs receive Rs. 5 crore in two instalments of Rs. 2.5 crore each. Funds under MPLADS are non-lapsable. 
  • Lok Sabha MPs have to recommend the district authorities projects in their Lok Sabha constituencies, while Rajya Sabha MPs have to spend it in the state that has elected them to the House. 
  • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country

(v) Significance of Restoration of the Scheme:

  • It will restart fulfilling the aspirations and developmental requirements of the local community and creation of durable assets, which is the primary objective of the MPLADS. 
  • It will also help in reviving the local economy. ¾ Issues with MPLADS: 
  • Implementation Lapses: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has flagged instances of financial mismanagement and artificial inflation of amounts spent.

3. Mineral Conservation and Development (Amendment) Rules, 2021

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Mines has notified the Mineral Conservation and Development (Amendment) Rules, 2021 to amend the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules (MCDR), 2017.

  • The MCDR has been framed under section 18 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 [MMDR Act]. 
  • They provide rules regarding conservation of minerals, systematic and scientific mining, development of the mineral in the country and for the protection of the environment.

Key Points

(i) Compulsory Drone Survey:

  • Rules prescribed that all plans and sections related to mine shall be prepared by combination of Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS) or Total Station or by drone survey in relation to certain or all leases as may be specified by Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM, Nagpur). 
  • A total station is an optical instrument commonly used in construction, surveying and civil engineering. It is useful for measuring horizontal angles, vertical angles and distance.

(ii) Digital Image Submission:

  • New Rule inserted to provide for submission of digital images of mining areas by lessees and Letter of Intent holders. 
  • Lessees having annual excavation plans of 1 million tonne or more or having leased area of 50 hectare or more are required to submit drone survey images of leased area and up to 100 meters outside the lease boundary every year. 
  • Other lessees submit high resolution satellite images.  
  • This step will not only improve mine planning practices, security and safety in the mines but also ensure better supervision of mining operations.

(iii) Reduction of Compliance Burden:

  • Provision of daily return omitted to reduce compliance burden. Power of taking action against incomplete or wrong or false information in monthly or annual returns given to IBM, in addition to State Government.

(iv) Penalty Provisions:

Penalty provisions in the rules have been rationalized. Amendment in the rules categorized the violations of the rules under the following major heads: 

  • Major Violations: Penalty of imprisonment, fine or both. Z
  • Minor Violations: Penalty reduced. Penalty of only fine for such violations prescribed. 
  • Decriminalization of Rules: Violation of other rules has been decriminalized. These rules did not cast any significant obligation on the concession holder or any other person.

(v) Financial Assurance:

  • Provision of forfeiture of financial assurance or performance security of the lease holder added in case of non-submission of final mine closure plan within the period specified. 

(vi) Increased Employment Opportunity:

  • Allowed engagement of a part-time mining engineer or a part-time geologist for small mines which will ease compliance burden for small miners. 
  • Diploma in mining and mine surveying granted by duly recognized institute along with a second class certificate of competency issued by the Director General of Mines Safety is added in qualification for full time Mining Engineer. 
  • Also, qualification for part time Mining Engineer added.

4. Minerals Concession (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2021

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Mines has notified the Minerals (other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Mineral) Concession (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2021.

  • It will amend the Minerals (other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Mineral) Concession Rules, 2016 [MCR, 2016]

Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Key Points

(i) Amendments:

Sale from Captive Leases:

  • New rules inserted to provide a manner of sale of 50% of minerals produced from the captive leases. 
  • With this amendment, the way for releasing of additional minerals in the market by greater utilization of mining capacities of captive mines has been paved.
  • Captive mines are those that produce coal or mineral for exclusive use by the company that owns the mines, while non-captive ones are those that produce as well as sell the fuel. 

Disposal of Overburden (OB):

  • Provision added to allow disposal of overburden/ waste rock/ mineral below the threshold value, which is generated during the course of mining or beneficiation of the mineral. 
  • This will enable ease of doing business for the miners.

► Area for Grant of Mining Lease:

  • Minimum area for grant of mining lease has been revised from 5 ha. to 4 ha. For certain specific deposits, minimum 2 ha. is provided.

► Part Surrender for all Cases:  

  • Part surrender of mining lease area allowed in all cases. 
  • Earlier, part surrender was allowed only in case of non-grant of forest clearance.

► Transfer of Composite Licence:

  • Rules amended to allow transfer of composite licence or mining lease of all types of mine. 

(ii) Objective:

  • To increase employment and investment in the mining sector, increasing revenue to the States, increasing the production and time bound operationalisation of mines, increasing the pace of exploration and auction of mineral resources, etc. Mining Sector in India

(iii) About:

India holds a fair advantage in production and conversion costs in steel and alumina. Its strategic location enables export opportunities to develop as well as fast-developing Asian markets. 

India is the world’s second-largest coal producer as of 2021. 

  • India is the world’s second-largest crude steel producer, as of 2020. 
  • India has the same mineral potential as South Africa and Australia. It produces 95 types of minerals but despite this huge mineral potential, the mining sector of India still remains underexplored. 
  • The mining sector contributes around 7 to 7.5% of the GDP of countries like South Africa and Australia whereas it is only 1.75% in India. 
  • 11 states account for 90% of the total number of operational mines (Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Karnataka).

(iv) Constitutional Provision Related to Mining:

  • The entry at serial No. 23 of List II (State List) to the Constitution of India mandates the state government to own the minerals located within their boundaries. 
  • The entry at serial No. 54 of List I (Central List) mandates the central government to own the minerals within the Exclusive Economic Zone of India (EEZ). 
  • The central government has the ownership over all offshore minerals (ie, minerals extracted from the sea or ocean floor in the Indian maritime zones such as the territorial waters, continental shelf and exclusive economic zones).

(v) Related Schemes:

  • The National Mineral Policy 2019. 
  • Initiatives are being taken to ensure early operationalisation of auctioned greenfield mineral blocks. 
  • Rationalisation of taxes in the mining sector is also being considered. 
  • Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, enhancing private investments in the mineral sector and bringing in other reforms has been announced. 
  • District Mineral Foundation Funds.

5. All India Judicial Service

Why in News

The central government is preparing to give a fresh push to the establishment of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) on the lines of the central civil services.

Key Points

(i) About:

  • The AIJS is a reform push to centralise the recruitment of judges at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states. 
  • In the same way that the Union Public Service Commission conducts a central recruitment process and assigns successful candidates to cadres, judges of the lower judiciary are proposed to be recruited centrally and assigned to states.

(ii) Previous Proposals:

The AIJS was first proposed by the 14th report of the Law Commission in 1958.

  • A statutory or constitutional body such as the UPSC to conduct a standard, centralised exam to recruit and train judges was discussed. 
  • The idea was proposed again in the Law Commission Report of 1978, which discussed delays and arrears of cases in the lower courts. 
  • In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its 15th Report backed the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service, and also prepared a draft Bill.

(iii) Supreme Court’s Stand:

  • In 1992, the Supreme Court (SC) in All India Judges’ Association v. The Union of India directed the Centre to set up an AIJS. 
  • In a 1993 review of the judgment, however, the court left the Centre at liberty to take the initiative on the issue. 
  • In 2017, the SC took suo motu cognizance of the issue of appointment of district judges, and mooted a Central Selection Mechanism. 
  • Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the court, circulated a concept note to all states in which he recommended conducting a common examination instead of separate state exams. 
  • Based on the merit list, High Courts would then hold interviews and appoint judges. Datar submitted that this would not change the constitutional framework or take away the powers of the states or High Courts.

(iv) Benefits of AIJS:

  • Efficient Judiciary: It will ensure an efficient subordinate judiciary, to address structural issues such as varying pay and remuneration across states, to fill vacancies faster, and to ensure standard training across states. 
  • Ease of Doing Business: The government has targeted the reform of lower judiciary in its effort to improve India’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, as efficient dispute resolution is one of the key indices in determining the rank. 
  • Addressing Judges To Population Ratio: A Law Commission report (1987) recommended that India should have 50 judges per million population as against 10.50 judges (then). 
  • Now, the figure has crossed 20 judges in terms of the sanctioned strength, but it’s nothing compared to the US or the UK — 107 and 51 judges per million people, respectively. 
  • Higher Representation of Marginalised Sections of Society: According to the Government, the AIJS to be an ideal solution for equal representation of the marginalised and deprived sections of society. 
  • Attracting Talent Pool: The government believes that if such a service comes up, it would help create a pool of talented people who could later become a part of the higher judiciary  
  • Bottoms-Up Approach: The bottoms-up approach in the recruitment would also address issues like corruption and nepotism in the lower judiciary. 

(v) Criticism:

  • Encroaching States Power: A centralised recruitment process is seen as an affront to federalism and an encroachment on the powers of states granted by the Constitution. 
  • Wont Address Unique Issues: This is the main contention of several states, which have also argued that central recruitment would not be able to address the unique concerns that individual states may have. 
  • Language and representation, for example, are key concerns highlighted by states. 
  • Judicial business is conducted in regional languages, which could be affected by central recruitment. 
  • Not Good For Local Reservation: Also, reservations based on caste, and even for rural candidates or linguistic minorities in the state, could be diluted in a central test. 
  • Against Separation of Powers: The opposition is also based on the constitutional concept of the separation of powers. A central test could give the executive a foot in the door for the appointment of district judges, and dilute the say that High Courts have in the process. 
  • Wont Address Structural Issues: The creation of AIJS will not address the structural issues plaguing the lower judiciary. 
  • The issue of different scales of pay and remuneration has been addressed by the SC in the 1993 All India Judges Association case by bringing in uniformity across states. 
  • Experts argue that increasing pay across the board and ensuring that a fraction of High Court judges are picked from the lower judiciary, may help better than a central exam to attract quality talent.

Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

6. Destination Northeast India

Why in News

Recently, a seven-day cultural festival of the northeast as part of the celebrations of 75 years of Independence under the Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav programme concluded at the National Museum, Delhi

  • It is celebrating the rich heritage of North East India, under the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region & North Eastern Council (NEC)’s initiative titled “Destination NorthEast India”.

Key Points

(i) Aim: To bring the rest of India closer to North East (NE) India.

  • It holds a special presentation of art and craft, textiles, ethnic products, tourism promotion etc. of the eight northeastern states.

(ii) Organisations Involved:

  • Ministry of Development of North-East Region. 
  • North Eastern Council (NEC): It is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the NE Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. It was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament. 
  • National Museum: The blueprint for establishing the National Museum in Delhi was prepared by the Maurice Gwyer Committee in May 1946. 
  • It was initially looked after by the Director General of Archaeology until 1957, when the Ministry of Education declared it a separate institution and placed it under its own direct control. 
  • At present, the National Museum is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Culture.

Importance of NE Region

Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

  • Strategic Location: The NER is strategically located with access to the traditional domestic market of eastern India, along with proximity to the major states in the east and adjacent countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • Links with Southeast Asia: With ASEAN engagement becoming a central pillar of India’s foreign policy direction, NE states play an important role as the physical bridge between India and Southeast Asia.
  • The India’s Act East Policy places the northeastern states on the territorial frontier of India’s eastward engagement.
  • Economic Significance: The NER has immense natural resources, accounting for around 34% of the country’s water resources and almost 40% of India’s hydropower potential.
  • Sikkim is India’s first organic state. 
  • Tourism Potential: Northeast of India is home to many wildlife sanctuaries like Kaziranga National Park famous for the one horned rhinoceros, Manas National Park, Nameri, Orang, Dibru Saikhowa in Assam, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Balpakram in Meghalaya, Keibul Lamjao in Manipur, Intanki in Nagaland, Khangchendzonga in Sikkim.
  • Cultural Significance: Tribes in NER have their own culture. Popular festivals include Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, Pang Lhabsol of Sikkim, etc. Government Initiatives for NE Region.
  • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER): A Department of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) was established in 2001. It was elevated to a full ministry in 2004. 
  • Infrastructure Related Initiatives:
    (i) Under Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP), road stretches aggregating to about 5,301 km in NER have been approved for improvement.
    (ii) The North East has been kept as a priority area under RCS-UDAN (to make flying more affordable).
  • Connectivity Projects: Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Project (Myanmar) and Bangladesh-China-India Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor. 
  • For Promoting Tourism: Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, projects worth Rs. 1400.03 crore have been sanctioned for the NER in the last five years.
  • Mission Purvodaya: Purvodaya in the steel sector is aimed at driving accelerated development of Eastern India through the establishment of an integrated steel hub.
  • The Integrated Steel Hub, encompassing Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh, would serve as a torchbearer for socio-economic growth of Eastern India.
  • North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS): In order to promote employment in the North East States, the Government is incentivizing primarily the MSME Sector through this scheme.
  • The National Bamboo Mission has a special significance for the Northeast.
  • North Eastern Region Vision 2020: The document provides an overarching framework for the development of the NE Region to bring it at par with other developed regions under which different Ministries, including the Ministry of DoNER have undertaken various initiatives.
  • Digital North East Vision 2022: It emphasises leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the north east and enhance the ease of living.
The document Polity and Governance: November 2021 Notes | Study Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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