GS 2- Polity & Governance

Govt. offers to make 8 changes to farm laws

Why in News?

After over seven hours of discussion, the fourth round of talks between the Centre and farmer leaders ended inconclusively. Although the Centre offered to consider eight amendments to the contentious farm reform laws and offered assurances that the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for farm produce would continue, farmer leaders continued to stand firm on their demand that all three laws be completely repealed.

Context

  • Their demands are to scrap the three laws, which they fear will end the MSP regime, and to create a new law guaranteeing MSPs.
  • They also want the government to stop slapping large fines on farmers for burning stubble and to withdraw the Electricity Bill, 2020, which could affect power subsidies for farmers.
  • The Minstry told several areas of concern where the government is willing to consider changes to the laws.
  • These include
    • placing safeguards to ensure that land alienation is not possible via contract farming;
    • Strengthening the State-run mandi system and possibly equalising taxes in these markets and private markets;
    • Allowing grievance redressal in civil courts rather than just in the offices of Sub-Divisional Magistrates;
    • Ensuring registration of private traders beyond the requirement of a PAN card. Issues related to stubble burning and power subsidies.
  • With regard to MSP, we gave an assurance that it was there, is there and will continue to be there
  • Some farmer leaders said a written statement that MSP will continue is also on the table, but not a legal guarantee.
  • Farmer groups say their problems with the laws are more fundamental and cannot be resolved with a few changes.
  • When a law goes wrong in its objectives, then the provisions will also be wrong.
  • The list of all the problems is so long that it is not worth keeping the law.
  • A bad law will only become worse, the only woman on the 40-member farmers delegation, who represents the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch.
  • The government has no ego. It is discussing all the issues with farmers with an open mind.

 

GS 2- Polity & Governance

Convicted legislators can’t be barred for life from polls

Why in News?

The Central government has told the Supreme Court that it rejected the idea of barring convicted legislators for life from contesting elections, forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.

Context

  • An elected representative of the people cannot be equated with public servants who are banned for a lifetime on conviction.
  • The government said disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of the prison sentence and six years thereafter was enough for legislators.
  • The Centre’s stand differs from that taken by the Election Commission, which endorsed a life ban as necessary to “champion the cause of decriminalisation of politics”.
  • That a life ban on conviction should uniformly apply for members of the judiciary, executive and the legislature.
  • There should not be any discrimination of one from the other.
  • An MP or MLA convicted for offences enumerated in Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act should be banned for life.
  • The public servant or a government employee is debarred for life on conviction for offences under the Indian Penal Code, money laundering law, foreign exchange violation, UAPA or cheque cases, among other laws, a legislator is “only disqualified for the same offences for a specified period”.
  • The Ministry however countered that legislators are not bound by specific “service conditions”.
  • They are bound by their oath to serve citizens and country. They are bound by propriety, good conscience and interest of the nation.

Representation of the People Act of 1951

  • It is an act of Parliament of India which provides the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State.
  • The qualifications and disqualifications for membership of House of Parliament and Legislature.

 

GS 2- International Relations

‘Carefully monitoring’ Brahmaputra developments: India

Why in News?

India said it “carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra” river, even as Beijing said it was its “legitimate right” to develop hydropower projects on the lower reaches of the river.

Context

  • A State-run Chinese hydropower firm, POWERCHINA, is planning to build the first downstream dam on the Brahmaputra, known as the Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet.
  • they were eyeing the enormous potential of the river’s “Great Bend” just across the border from Arunachal Pradesh in Tibet’s Medog county, where the river falls over a 2,000-metre drop before turning to flow into India.
  • While China in 2015 operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu in Tibet and is constructing three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha, these are run-of-the-river dams on the upper and middle reaches.
  • The proposed new dam is also likely to be a run-of-the-river hydropower project that will not divert water, but will be the first on the lower reaches.
  • It is China’s legitimate right to carry out hydropower station development in the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river.
  • China has always held a responsible attitude towards the development and utilisation of cross-border rivers and adopted the policy of simultaneously developing and protecting cross-border rivers.
  • Any project we undertake will go through scientific planning and research and we fully consider the impact on the downstream areas, taking into account the interests of both the upstream and the downstream.
  • At present, the development of a hydropower station at the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river is still in the early planning and research stage, and there is no need to interpret too much into it.
  • It remains unclear whether technical feasibility studies will allow construction to go ahead, as POWERCHINA is not the first company to propose a downstream dam and previous projects did not take off.
  • for a long time carried out good cooperation with India and Bangladesh in flood reporting, flood control, disaster relief, and emergency management and will maintain communication with India and Bangladesh through existing channels.
  • The “government carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra river.

User rights

  • As a lower riparian State with considerable established user rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers, the government has consistently conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities and has urged them to ensure that the interests of downstream States are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas.
  • The Chinese side has conveyed to us on several occasions that they are only undertaking run-of-the-river hydropower projects which do not involve diversion of the waters of the Brahmaputra.
  • Various issues relating to trans-border rivers are discussed with China under the ambit of an institutionalised Expert Level Mechanism which was established in 2006, as well as through diplomatic channels.
  • We intend to remain engaged with China on the issue of trans-border rivers to safeguard our interests.

 

GS 2- International Relations

Iran moves to step up nuclear enrichment

Why in News?

Iran’s watchdog body approved a law that obliges the government to halt U.N. inspections of its nuclear sites and step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, if sanctions are not eased in a month.

Context

  • Iran’s top nuclear scientist, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, Iran’s hardline-dominated Parliament approved the Bill with a strong majority, hardening Iran’s nuclear stance.
  • Under the new law, Tehran gives one month to the deal’s European parties to ease sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors, imposed after Washington quit the pact between Tehran and six powers in 2018.
  • It also says the government should resume uranium enrichment to 20% and install advanced centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.
  • The law pushed by hardline lawmakers would make it harder for U.S. President-elect, who will take office on January 20, to rejoin the agreement.
  • The return to the pact and would lift sanctions if Tehran returned to “strict compliance with the nuclear deal”.
  • Iran’s pragmatist President, the architect of the 2015 deal, criticised Parliament’s move as “harmful to diplomatic efforts” aimed at easing U.S. sanctions.

 

GS-3 Economy

Economy firmly on the path of a V-shaped recovery, says govt.

Why in News?

India’s economy is firmly on the path of a V-shaped recovery after the collapse in the first quarter, and further improvement is expected in the third quarter, ‘notwithstanding some moderation’ in November’s indicators, the Ministry of Finance, attributing the recovery to the unlocking process along with ‘astute’ stimulus measures.

Context

  • The prospects of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
  • The key downside risk to the economy, with ‘Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi probably facing their second and third waves’ in November.
  • There is a growing cautious optimism that the steep plunges of April-June quarter may not resurface with significant progress in vaccines and contact intensive sectors increasingly adapting to a virtual normal.
  • The prospects of a vaccine are encouraging but we need to remain on guard till it is approved and permeates to a large section of the population.
  • It added, urging people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and maintain safety protocols earnestly.
  • Arguing that inflation, which had risen to 7.61% in October, may have peaked, the Department of Economic Affairs in the ministry said consumer price inflation was likely to ‘decelerate gradually’ as base effects would kick in, and food inflation was expected to cool thanks to a good kharif harvest.