Current Affairs December 2018

I. POLITY & GOVERNANCE TOPIC: GS II, ASPECTS OF GOVERNANCE 1. The Electoral Bond Scheme Source: The Hindu Why in news:

Recently, the former Chief election commissioner of India has highlighted the disadvantages of the electoral bond scheme in an interview by stating that even the foreign money can come and even a dying company can give money under the scheme.

About Electoral Bond scheme:
  • This scheme was announced in Union Budget 2017 with an aim for increasing transparency in political funding making India first country in the world to have such unique bonds for electoral funding.
  • Under this scheme, interest-free banking instrument are issued which can be bought in the multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.
  • The bonds are issued by notified banks and political party has to encash it into the account which is registered with the Election Commission of India within a short tenure of 15 days.
  • Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.
  • Only the Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the Lok sabha or the Vidhan Sabha, shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.
  • Advantages:
  • The donor to the political party may approach the banks for purchasing the bonds through cheque/digital payment only after fulfilling the KYC norms. This will deter the channelization of black money to the party fund.
  • A bond can only be encashed in a pre-declared account of a political party which means every political party will have to disclose the amount of donations it has received through electoral bonds to the Election Commission.
  • The entire transactions would be through banking instruments. As against a total non-transparency in the present system of cash donations where the donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed.
  • Donor’s name has been kept secret which makes the scheme attractive otherwise the donors would go back to the less-desirable option of donating by cash.
  • These bonds have some built in security features to eliminate chances of forgery or presentation of fake bonds like a random serial number invisible to the naked eye which is not shared by the issuing bank to even government authorities.
  • It ensures that the funds being collected by the political parties are accounted money or clean money.
  • It will also boost digital transactions.
  • Disadvantages:
  • Neither the shareholders of a corporation be aware of the company’s contributions nor the voters will have any idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded.
  • Earlier, the law prohibited companies from donating anything more than 7.5% of their average net-profit over the previous three years which has been removed under the scheme whcih means that even loss-making entities can make unlimited contributions.
  • The requirement that a corporation ought to have been in existence for at least three years before it could make donations under the previous law which intended to stop shell concerns from being created with a view purely to siphoning money into politics has also been removed.
  • In 1957, the Bombay and the Calcutta High Courts warned Parliament of the perils in allowing companies to freely add to party coffers as this will ultimately overwhelm and even throttle democracy in the country.
  • Not only the company’s shareholders, but electors too must know how a party is being financed. A democracy couldn’t function unless the voters had free and complete access to information about the parties for which they were going to vote.
  • The scheme flouts constitutional rights of the citizen because in the absence of complete knowledge about the identitites and amount of money being channelized to the political party the voting will not be fair which makes the democracy to loses its intrinsic value.
TOPIC: GS II, INTERNAL SECURITY 2. Issues related to Naga Separatism Source: The Hindu Why in news:

A breakaway faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), has decided to revoke its decision of unilaterally abrogating the ceasefire agreement with the Union government with immediate effect.

Historical Background:
  • British annexed Assam in 1826, and in 1881, the Naga Hills too became part of British India.
  • The first sign of Naga resistance was seen in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918, which told the Simon Commission in 1929 “to leave them alone to determine for themselves as in ancient times.
  • Naga National Council (NNC) was formed in 1946 under Angami Zapu Phizo who declared Nagaland an independent state on August 14, 1947, conducted referendum” in 1951 with 99% supporting an “independent” Nagaland.
  • Formation of Naga Federal Government (NFG) and the Naga Federal Army (NFA) in 1952 under Phizo and as a result Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 was enacted and imposed in the state.
  • Naga People’s Convention was formed by the moderates who left the path of violence under the leadership of Dr. Imkongliba. It spearheaded the movement to create Nagaland State within the Indian Union with a certain level of autonomy. As a result, 13th amendment in the constitution took place creating Article 371 for ensuring Naga autonomy and a separate state, Nagaland was carved out on December 1, 1963.
  • Shillong Accord:
  • 1. It took place between Indian Government and the NNC in the 1975 under which rebels had to accept the constitution of India without condition, surrender arms and renounce the demand for secession. 2. Some leaders including Isak Chishi Swu, Th Muivah and Khaplang refused to accept this accord and formed Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland NSCN in 1970s which started an underground Naga Federal government having both Civil and Military wings. 3. It further split into NSCN (Isak-Muivah) most formidable insurgent outfit and NSCN (Khaplang). 4. NSCN (Isak-Muivah) abandoned violent means and entered into talks with the government in 1997. Although, NSCN (K) signed ceasefire with the Centre in 2001 but unilaterally abrogated it in March 2015. Demand of NSCN (IM) for Greater Nagalim:
  • A “Greater Nagalim” comprising all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas, along with Nagaland which includes several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar. The map of Greater Nagalim has about 1,20,000 sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km.
  • The Nagaland Assembly has endorsed the ‘Greater Nagalim’ demand time and again in 1964,1970,1994,2003 and recently in 2015.
  • In 2015, the Centre signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) to end the long- drawn Naga insurgency after it agreed to give up the demand for sovereignty.
    3. Issues related to appointment process in various Constitutional and Statutory Bodies
    Source: The Hindu Why in news:

    The Supreme Court has recently asked the centre to respond on a plea that the appointment process of the CBI director and the heads of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Lokpal.

    Issues highlighted in the petition:
    • The CBI, CVC, CIC and the Lokpal had all been limited in their functioning and interfered with by virtue of overwhelming governmental control.
    • The heads of these institutions were not truly independent and transparent.
    • The committees meant to appoint the heads of these institutions function by pure majority, thereby rendering the balancing voice of the minority. The appointments has to be made by a unanimous vote and not a majority one.
    • The Leader of the Opposition has to be a member of the appointing committee but the government took cover under the fact that where such individual was not explicitly recognised, he or she would merely be called upon as an ‘invitee’, thereby subverting the statutory intent.
    • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):
    • The CBI was established as the Special Police Establishment in 1941, to enquire into cases of corruption in the procurement during the Second World War.
    • It was formally established in independent India on the recommendation of Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs and eventually the ministry of personnel eventually took over the responsibility of CBI and now it plays the role of an attached office.
    • It is the premier investigating agency of the Central Government and it derives its legal powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
    • It’s important role is prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration. It works under the overall supervision of Central Vigilance Commission in matters related to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
    • The CVC act provides for a security of two year tenure in office for CBI Director along with the mechanism for the selection of the director of CBI.
    • As per the amended Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the CBI director is appointed on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister – chairperson, Leader of Opposition – member, Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member.
    • Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act lays down guidelines for removal of CBI Director, which mandates that the CBI Director cannot be transferred without the previous consent of a high-power committee chaired by the Prime Minister.
    • Central Vigilance Commission (CVC):
    • In 1964 CVC was established with the aim of addressing corrupt practices within the government.
    • It works in coordination with the government authorities for the betterment of the system.
    • It is not an investigating agency, however it operates in coalition with other investigative agencies.
    • Functions and powers of CVC:
    • 1. Superintendence over the functioning of the CBI with respect to investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
      2. To undertake an inquiry to be made into any transaction in which a public servant working in any organisation, to which the executive control of the Government of India extends, is suspected or alleged to have acted for an improper purpose or in a corrupt manner.
      3. To tender disciplinary and other authorities in disciplinary cases, involving vigilance angle at different stages of investigation.
      4. To exercise a general check and supervision over vigilance and anti-corruption work in Ministries or Departments of the Govt. of India and other organisations to which the executive power of the Union extends.
      5. Inquiring into complaints received under the public interest disclosure and protection of informer and recommend appropriate action.
      Lokpal and Lokayukta:
    • It is the central governing body that has jurisdiction over all members of parliament and central government employees in case of corruption.
    • Whereas, the ‘Lokayukta’ is similar to the Lokpal, but it functions at the state level.
    • Its main function is to address complaints of corruption, to make inquiries, investigations, and to conduct trials for the case on respective state and central government with having responsibility to help in curbing the corruption in the central and state government.
    • Its concept is been taken from Sweden and it derives its powers from Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013.
    • Appointments to Lokpal is made by a selection committee comprising of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition and an eminent jurist chosen by them.
    • Note: More information regarding CBI and CIC has been provided in previous weekly magazines. TOPIC: GS II, ASPECTS OF GOVERNANCE 4. Issues related to Land Acquisition Source: The Hindu Why in news:

      The Supreme court has issued notice to Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand governments for amending their land acquisition laws to the extent that consent of farmers or land owners is not required before their land is acquired for projects like industrial corridors, expressways and highways in the wake of a plea filed challenging these amendments.

      Details of the Petition:
    • It stated that the states allow land acquisition without participation of representative local bodies like gram sabha in social impact assessment studies, without expert appraisal processes, public hearings etc.
    • The amendments violate the core spirit of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.
    • It will allow the private players to take away the maximum share at the profit-making stage in PPP mode of development from the land which has been acquired using public money.
    • About Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) act 2013:
    • The act is applicable to all the land acquisition whether done by the central or state governments except the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
    • It has replace that Land Acquisition Act, 1894
    • Key provisions of the act: A. Definition of Public Purpose: Section 2(1) of the act defines ‘public purpose’ as the project which involves land acquisition for strategic purposes for strategic purposes or national security and defence of the country, infrastructure projects, projects for housing for lower income groups or landless or to persons residing in areas affected by natural calamities or to persons displaced or affected by reason of the implementation of any scheme undertaken by the Government. B. Consent Clause: When government acquires the land directly for ‘public purpose’ consent of the land owner is not required. However, if acquired for private companies, and Public Private Projects, the consent of at least 80% and 70% of the project affected families shall be obtained. C. Limits on acquisition: The act does not allow acquisition of land under multi cropped area and in case of acquisition of such land, an equivalent area of cultivable wasteland shall be developed by the state for agricultural purposes. D. Social Impact Assessment: Before the acquisition process starts the government has to carry out a social impact study along with consultation involving local authorities i.e., Gram Sabha, Municipality etc. E. Land left unused after acquisition: If the acquired land remains unutilized for five years then it has to be returned to the original owners. Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015:
    • Mandatory consent clause of 80% people in case of private projects and 70% in case of PPP projects is not applicable to the newly defined five categories namely (i) defense, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing (iv) industrial corridors (v) infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership.
    • Government may also permit to exempt above categories of land use from Social Impact Assessment clause and from the restrictions of acquisition of multi cropped land clause of LARR act 2013.
    • The period after which unutilized land will need to be returned will be: (i) five years, or (ii) any period specified at the time of setting up the project whichever is later.
    • Issues related to the amendment:
    • Amendment is based on the premise that it would help stalled infrastructure projects. However, according to economic survey data 2015, out of more than 80 % projects stalled only 8% of them were due to issues in land acquisition and rest were stuck due to lack of funds or other bottlenecks operating in the economy thus the amendments have been brought without any proper deliberations.
    • It is important to understand that the land is not purchased but acquired which shows that the owner is not willing to part away from his land. So doing away with the consent clause defies all logic especially when the five categories of land use defined can be extended to comprise any projects under the sun. Critics argue that this amendments seems to be more pro-corporate rather than pro-people.
    • Social impact assessment clause which was the most important tool to make the citizens understand about the overall modalities of the project has been repealed. The concerns of the delay due to SIA requires hitting the root of the problem i.e cutting red tapism and departmental corruption rather than eliminating SIA.
    • Changing the time period for returning the land i.e. any period specified at the time of setting up the project goes against the spirit of public welfare system.
    • TOPIC: GS II, ASPECTS OF GOVERNANCE 5. Citizenship Amendment Bill and Internal Security Source: The Hindu Why in news:

      The Meghalaya High Court has asked the centre to bring in a law to let people of religious and ethnic minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan be given citizenship without any cut-off year or any questions asked.

      About the citizenship amendment bill, 2016:
    • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Parliament on July 19, 2016 which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, and provide citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian.
    • It seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
    • According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, an illegal immigrant is one who enters India without a valid passport or with forged documents. Or, a person who stays beyond the visa permit. Causes for protest against the Bill:
    • It contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which clearly states that illegal migrants heading in from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971, would be deported. Thus it goes against the spirit of ongoing National register of citizens.
    • National Register of Citizens: 1. It is a register containing the list of bona fide (genuine/real) Indian citizens. Those failing to enlist their names in the register would be deemed, illegal migrants. 2. Currently, the list is being updated for the in Assam and it will address the issue of illegal migrants, specifically from Bangladesh. 3. If the bill becomes an act, the non Muslims entered after 1971 in Assam need not go through deportation process.
    • Indigenous people particularly in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram fear that such a Bill would make them a minority in their homeland.
    • If the bill is passed, it will make it easier for Bangladeshi Hindus currently living in India’s north east particularly in Assam and Tripura and Chakma and Hajong living in Arunachal Pradesh to get citizenship. Cause of introduction of the Bill:
    • Many persons of Indian origin including persons belonging to the six “minority communities” of India’s neighbouring countries have been unsuccessfully applying for citizenship under the Citizenship Act of 1955 but are unable to produce proof of their Indian origin and consequently they are forced to apply for citizenship by naturalisation which prescribes 12 years’ residency as qualification.
    • Such a long-drawn process denies them many opportunities and advantages that may accrue only to the citizens of India, even though they are likely to stay in India permanently.
    • The amendment shortens the period of residency from 12 to seven years for gaining citizenship by naturalisation. Argument against the amendment:
    • The bill violates the basic tenets of right to equality enshrined in the constitution by distinguishing illegal immigrants on the basis of religion.
    • The bill can hamper the achievement of Assam National Register of Citizens which does not distinguish on the basis of religion. TOPIC: GS II, ISSUES RELATED 
TO SEPARATION OF POWER 6. Legal Culture in the Indian Judiciary Source: The Hindu Why in news: Recently, a judge of the Meghalaya high court made a political statement taking side of political party which has created controversy. Independence of Judiciary: A. Constitution provides independence to the judges of the courts by ensuring:
    • Fixed salaries.
    • Security of tenure.
    • An appointments process which is insulated from executive control B. Why independence is given in the constitution?
    • So that judges perform their constitutional role independent of personal biases, political and moral beliefs, and partisan ideologies.
    • So that at the time of delivering judgment judges not take political sides.
    • So that judges are bound be loyal to the Constitution and rule of law in terms of legal interpretation of any event. Legal Culture in the Indian judiciary:
    • They are set of unwritten, but explicitly established norms that determine what is and what is not acceptable at the time of making judgments.
    • They are created and nurtured by judges, lawyers, legal experts, press and the citizens with the time and again.
    • It plays a significant role in establishing judicial accountability.
    • It is useful for the Indian judiciary because in Indian judiciary, the judges are more or less accountable only to themselves and their own sense of the limits of their constitutional role and accountability only to oneself is a very weak form of constraint. The temptation to overstep is always immense, more so when such immense power has been placed in one’s own hands. Trend analysis- from judicial activism to judicial overreach: Phase I:
    • During initial years of post independent India, judiciary showed faith in Parliament. Most MPs were freedom fighters, and the court trusted them. Next Page