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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 12th December 2016



  • Front Page / NATIONAL

[1]. Cyclone Vardah heads towards Chennai shores

[2]. Cancel illegal salt pans in Sambhar Lake: NGT

[3]. Parliamentary panel says SC showing a ‘zeal for primacy’

  • INTERNATIONAL

[1]. U.S. arms technologies come closer

  • Editorial/OPINION

[1]. Time to blow the whistle

  • Indian Express

[1]. Binding friendship

  • Live Mint

[1]. Demonetisation for behavioral change

[2]. Don’t cry over dead trade agreements

[3]. Preparing for Policy Implementation 3.0


 

Front Page / NATIONAL


[1]. Cyclone Vardah heads towards Chennai shores

The Hindu

Context

Cyclonic storm Vardah is likely to make landfall by Dec 12 afternoon along north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast, close to Chennai, accompanied by strong winds with speeds of 80 to 90 kmph.

Forecast
• Gradual increase in rain: Rains would gradually increase from the morning of December 12 and were expected to last until the next day in the northern districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram
• Light to moderate rain: Most places along north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts would get to light to moderate rain with possibilities of heavy rainfall of up to 20 cm as the system makes landfall
• High tidal waves: Due to the storm surge, the seas are expected to be rough and the tidal wave will be 1 m higher than normal. Fishermen have been warned not to venture out into the sea

Precautionary measures
• National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force teams have been stationed at Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts as a precautionary measure
• Anticipating their contribution to rescue and relief works in the impact of cyclone Vardah, the Indian Air Force Station in Tambaram has been placed on a state of high alert

Read more: Naming the cyclones

[2]. Cancel illegal salt pans in Sambhar Lake: NGT

The Hindu

Context
The central zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Rajasthan government to cancel allotments of salt pans in the Sambhar Salt Lake that fall within the wetland and run contrary to the mandate of Wetland Rules, 2010.

Backdrop
• Vinod kumar fact-finding report: The illegal business of brine extraction in the Sambhar Lake was first highlighted in the Vinod Kapoor fact-finding report in 2010.
 The report had mentioned that 15-20 borewells were operating in every bigha of land during that period and over exploitation of water resources had lowered the groundwater level by almost 60 metres in the area
• PIL filed: In 2013, a PIL was filed by Naresh Kadyan in the Supreme Court accusing salt manufacturers of digging unauthorised borewells around the lake and exploiting the groundwater.
 However, the court had dismissed the PIL in August 2016 directing the petitioner to approach the NGT.

Bench’s directions
• Bench directed State wetland authority to review the allotments made so far after the submissions of the Vinod Kapoor and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Committee reports and asked it to submit the compliance report within six months
• The bench, in a recent order, also directed the State government not to make any further allotments or permit new salt pans within the wetland areas or in the ‘no construction zone’ identified for the said purpose in accordance with the Wetland Rules, 2010
• The bench, referring to the reports on the matter, directed the authority to examine the sensitive issue in light of observations and recommendations made by the two expert committees in the year 2010.
• The bench gave six months’ time to implement the recommendations which should not be later than the 2017 monsoon.

Petitioner alleged
Petitioner had alleged that in and around the Sambhar Lake, commercial and other activities detrimental to the eco-system of the wetland were being carried out contrary to the provisions of the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules framed under the Environment Protection Acts of 1986 and 2010.

[3]. Parliamentary panel says SC showing a ‘zeal for primacy’

The Hindu

Context
As the Supreme Court and the Centre differ over the delay in appointment of judges in the High Courts, lawmakers have for the first time joined the fray. They have tabled a Parliamentary Standing Committee report accusing the Supreme Court of distorting the original constitutional mandate and showing an “unnecessary zeal” for primacy in judicial appointments.
Backdrop
The committee had taken suomotu cognisance of the “sad state of affairs” caused by the “inordinate delay in filling the vacancies in the Supreme Court and High Courts”. The report may act as a trigger for kick-starting legislative efforts to overcome the impact of the Supreme Court’s October 16, 2015 judgment scrapping the NJAC law.

What has happened?
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievance, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, has directly contradicted the Supreme Court’s judgment on the National Judicial Appointments Committee (NJAC) law, which upheld the concept of judicial primacy.

Recommendations
Committee recommends that,
• The original constitutional position on judicial appointments be brought back. The appointment of High Court judges is “essentially” an executive function and a shared responsibility of the government and the judiciary.
• The distortion in the original mandate of the Constitution arising from the judgments of the apex court in the Second Judges Case and subsequent cases needs to be reversed and the original constitutional position needs to be respected in letter and in spirit, for which the government may take appropriate measures
• The parliamentary report may also have hinted that the NJAC judgment was not heard by a sufficient quorum of judges. It recommended that the Supreme Court ought to set up a Bench of a minimum 11 judges while deciding the validity of a constitutional amendment.

Equal participation
The committee said the Constitution’s makers believed that only an equal involvement of multiple constitutional authorities in judicial appointments would mould an independent judiciary.
• On this, the committee quotes Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who said that “after all, the Chief Justice is a man with all the failings, all the sentiments and all the prejudices which we as common people have”.


INTERNATIONAL


[1]. U.S. arms technologies come closer

The Hindu

Context
With Major Defence Partner status, India will be offered simplified licensing requirements.

What has happened?
US has accorded India, MDP status i.e. Major Defense Partner status
Implications
• Simplification of licensing regulations: With U.S. designating India as a Major Defence Partner (MDP), licensing regulations to acquire sensitive military technologies, such as those that go into the F-16 and F-18 fighter jets, will be simplified

Significance
This comes at a time when India is considering proposals for a new fighter aircraft to be built under the “Make in India” initiative, in significant numbers, with technology transfer. U.S. aerospace majors Boeing and Lockheed have submitted proposals to build their F-18 and F-16 fighter jets. Saab of Sweden has done so for Gripen.

Future trajectory
Officials have expressed confidence that the progress achieved under initiatives such as the Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC) in the Pentagon would continue in the next U.S. administration as it is now enshrined in the U.S. law.

Project announcement by year end
India and the U.S. are expected to announce a major new project under the DTTI. An official said it would be announced by year-end.

Read more: Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI), the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC)


Editorial/OPINION


[1]. Time to blow the whistle

The Hindu

Context
Parliament is considering an amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act which would only end up helping the corrupt. Its passage would administer a big blow to our already weak anti-corruption mechanism.

Issue: Corruption

Backdrop
Prevention of Corruption Amendment bill 2013 was was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2013, following massive anti-corruption protests.
• This Bill had some worrisome provisions. In 2014, government introduced some more of them into the bill to weaken the PCA Act
• Select Committee of Rajya Sabha & Cabinet has cleared the amendments

Provisions

Narrowing down the definition of corruption
Existing provision: Section 13(1)(d) of the existing PCA covers various indirect forms of corruption including the obtaining of “any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage” by illegal gratification or by “abusing his position as a public servant
Proposed amendment: The present Bill removes this section and under new definition, any benefit that is not economic, that is indirect or that cannot be proven to be intentional fraud will not be punished as corruption.

Law commission’s view on this amendment
Law commission studied this proposed amendment and disagreed with the narrow definition. Instead it proposed an even wider definition
• Suggestion: The Law Commission suggested that any “undue advantage” that results from “improper performance of public function or activity” of a public servant should be punishable.

Arguments given against Section 13 (1) (d)
A section of bureaucrats have been demanding deletion of this section as it criminalizes corruption. They reason that this section inhibits fearless decision-making that may involve exercise of discretion and bona fide errors

Raising threshold of proof
The Bill makes it more difficult to hold someone guilty of disproportionate assets as it raises the threshold of proof
• Present situation: As per existing provisions, the possession of monetary resources or property disproportionate to the public servant’s known sources of income is enough to prove corruption.
• New provision: Now the prosecutor will also have to prove that this disproportionate asset was acquired with the intention of the public servant to enrich himself illicitly.

Select Committee’s view
Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha agrees that proving intention should not be made mandatory but final position of the government is not known

Definition of known sources of income
Present situation: Currently, “known sources of income” are limited only to those receipts which had been “intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to a public servant”.
• Backdrop: This provision was made in 1988 in order to cover an earlier loophole, whereby many accused persons would cite fresh sources of income at the stage of trial, resulting in acquittal in a large number of disproportionate assets cases.
New provision: Government has proposed to delete this requirement without any recommendation to this effect from any stakeholder. Thus the big offenders have secured a vital escape route for themselves
Risk for the Bribe-giver: Bribe giving equally punishable
The proposed amendment makes it more risky for a bribe-giver to give evidence against a bribe-taker
Present situation: Under the existing law, if a person makes a statement during a corruption trial that he gave a bribe, it would not be used to prosecute him for the offence of abetment (aiding) of corruption
New provision: The amendment omits this provision and proposes that bribe-taking and bribe-giving will be equally punishable. This would obviously deter bribe-givers from appearing as witnesses in cases against public officials.

Author’s view
Author states that although there is some merit in punishing bribe-givers too but the earlier provision shouldn’t have been completely done away with. Government had other options like,
• Report of 2nd ARC: The report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended a distinction between “coercive” and “collusive” bribing. Those who are coerced into bribing but report it thereafter should be given some protection
• Exemption window: A seven-day window for declaration by the bribe-giver in order to qualify for exemption, can also be considered.

Reduction of punishment chances
Present provision: The existing PCA requires the governments’ or higher officials’ sanction before any serving public servants can be prosecuted under the Act. The basic idea is to protect honest public officials from harassment, persecution and frivolous litigation.
Amendment proposed: The proposed amendment extends this protection to retired public servants, if the case pertains to the period when they were in office. This means that if a private person approaches the government for sanction to prosecute a public servant for corruption, he would now need a court order to this effect. This additional layer of protection for the accused would discourage victims of corruption and anti-corruption activists from prosecuting corrupt public servants

Section 17A
Author states that the most deadly provision of them all is the new Section 17A that would bar investigating agencies from even beginning an inquiry or investigating the offences under this Act without prior approval
Amendment proposed: The amendment proposed by the government said this sanction was to be obtained from a Lokayukta or Lokpal.

Select Committee’s views
The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha makes it worse: it shifts the power to give this sanction to an “authority competent to remove” the person from office.

Author’s views
Author points out that,
Section 19: Section 19 of the Act already protects officials from mala fide litigation. If someone wishes to harass an innocent officer without any credible evidence of corruption, the government can refuse to give sanction for prosecution.

Author states that a requirement of sanction even before an inquiry is initiated against an official means,
• No credible evidence: If Government doesn’t grant sanction then there would be no credible evidence against corrupt official to prosecute him, if he is indeed corrupt.
• Time to hide evidence: If Government gives the sanction then the corrupt officer will get ample time to hide the evidence as he will get to know of the impending inquiry against him

Reactivating the Single Directive
Author states that bureaucracy has thus successfully managed to bring back single directive which refers to an older governmental order that no senior officer (of the rank of Joint Secretary or above) could be investigated without permission from the government
VineetNarain Judgement: In the famous VineetNarain judgment, the Supreme Court had held this order as illegal, in 1997.

2nd time
The government brought it back, this time as provision of law, in 2003.
• In 2014, a Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court held that this provision was unconstitutional, as it violated the right to equality

3rd time
Author states that such is the power of babudom and its hold over netas that it has managed to bring this immunity clause back for the third time.

Conclusion
Author concludes by stating that it is time to bring back the anti-corruption movement

Read More:  PCA Amendment Bill


Indian Express


[1]. Binding friendship

Indian Express

Context
Major defence partner status for New Delhi marks the institutionalization of India-US defence cooperation

What has happened?
US has granted “Major Defence Partner” status to India. This follows the signing of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) earlier this year.

You can read more about LEMOA here & here.

Major Defense Partner status
Major Defense Partner” is based on the concept of the US treating India as its closest ally and partner for the purpose of technology transfer.
• It eases US licensing requirements for Indiaparticularly from the US commerce department on dual-use items. The status hopes that India will become part of all the four export control regimes at the earliest.

Export control regimes
Currently there are 4 Multilateral Export Control Regimes (MECR),
• The NSG
• The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
• The Australia Group
• The Wassenaar Arrangement

These regimes have emerged as the leading forums of the global export controls system and are the oldest multilateral bodies for export controls. Though these are small informal groupings, they derive their importance from the nature of their membership. Most of the major suppliers of high technology or sensitive technology, mostly dual use in nature, are members of these regimes


Live Mint


[1]. Demonetisation for behavioral change

Live Mint

Context

Throwing millions of lives in disarray to seemingly change their cash usage behavior sounds primordial.

In the first few paragraphs, Author has taken up the example of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He states as to how a change in behavior wrt Open Defecation was desired to be achieved by inspiring and creating awareness among citizenry rather than a shock and awe treatment like demonetization.

Initially demonetization as being defined as a move against black money but over the period of weeks, it is being touted as a move to transform India into a cashless society

Open Defecation: A far more serious problem
Author states that 61% of rural India defecating in the open is a far more serious and significant problem than India’s 12% cash to gross domestic product ratio (amount of cash floating in Indian economy right now)
• Culture and habits are a significant reason for open defecation in India. So, if any, altering this behavior of 564 million Indians is far more vital for the future of this nation.
• Author states that this behavioral change is being sought through motivation & awareness rather than coercion

Author’s main line of argument: Removing 86% of a country’s currency overnight and throwing hundreds of millions of lives in disarray to seemingly change their cash usage behavior sounds primitive

Conclusion
Author concludes by stating that in matters of public policy, the means and ends matter equally. The manner in which government has chosen to achieve a cashless economy is truly abominable

[2]. Don’t cry over dead trade agreements

Live Mint

Context

If we can manage our own economies well, new trade pacts will become largely redundant.

Changing scenario
In the first few paragraphs, author has stated that after the WWII there were a host of trade agreements. Most famous of them were the,
• General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
• Treaty establishing World Trade Organization

But, in the present times, with a rising global sentiment against globalization & with events that portray further problems for such trade agreements like BREXIT, Outcome of US presidential elections, there will be a race for smaller agreements now while the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are as good as dead after the election of Donald Trump as US president.

Smaller countries need no trade agreements
Author puts forward his view that we should not worry about the rising sentiment against global trade agreements because,
• Smaller countries need no trade agreements since they have no bargaining leverage over bigger countries. So, for them free trade is the way to go

Bigger countries
Author states that bigger countries enter trade agreements because they can manipulate the world prices of the goods they export and import.
Example: By imposing an import tariff on, say, steel, the US can reduce the prices at which Chinese producers sell their products. Or, by taxing aircraft exports, the US can raise the prices that foreigners have to pay.

Thus, a trade agreement that prohibits such policies can be useful to all countries to achieve collective good

Actual situation: Politics is involved
Author states that above listed rationale for trade agreements is seldom adhered to in reality. In practice, political considerations outweigh the economic interests. Policymakers design such policies which favor certain industries that have a powerful lobbies inside the corridors of power.
So, author argues that, in essence, it is the trade lobby that shapes the trade policies.

In the light of above argument, author raises following questions
• If trade policies are largely shaped by political lobbying, wouldn’t international trade negotiations similarly be at the mercy of those same lobbies?
• Can trade rules written by a combination of domestic and foreign lobbies, rather than by domestic lobbies alone, guarantee a better outcome?

Beggar-thyself policies
Author states that newer trade agreements incorporate rules on “intellectual property”, capital flows, and investment protections that are mainly designed to generate and preserve profits for financial institutions and multinational enterprises at the expense of other legitimate policy goals. Such rules suffer from following problems,
• They come in conflict with public health or environmental regulations
• They make it harder for the developing countries to access technology and diversify their economies through industrial policies

Author points out that trade policies driven by domestic political lobbying and special interests are beggar-thyself policies.

Conclusion
Author states that if we manage our own economies well, new trade agreements will be largely redundant.

[3]. Preparing for Policy Implementation 3.0

Live Mint

Context
The government needs to change its approach to development and policy implementation.

Author has categorized policy implementation into
• Policy implementation 1.0 – It refers to the ability to deliver a standard policy or a product like polio vaccine (with same dose), or a process like elections (with same procedure for voting) across the country
• Policy implementation 2.0 – It refers to the ability to change the behaviour of citizens and obtain cooperation of communities
• Policy implementation 3.0

Policy implementation 1.0
Author states that India has the ability to carry out a standard procedure in millions of locations, many in very difficult conditions
• Elections: It conducts the world’s largest elections, bringing electronic voting machines even to remote places in the high mountains
• Aadhaar project:The issuance of unique, electronic identity cards to all Indians—the Aadhaar project—was the latest illustration of the country’s logistical capabilities in implementing a public policy

Policy Implementation 2.0
In this case, behaviors of the citizenry need to be changed.
Example:
• Sanitation: Large programmes for installing toilets have not been able to change behaviour to eradicate open defecation. Public health programmes invariably require better local governance, rather than central delivery of services. India’s persistent neglect of local governance capabilities is the principal reason for public health in India lagging behind China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and many other developing countries.

Policy implementation 3.0
Author states that complex changes in economy requires a policy implementation 3.0 capabilities. In this case, along with behaviors, several other conditions in the economy must be changed together to improve conditions for enterprises to be productive and to attract more investments into the economy.
• Physical infrastructure must be improved
• An array of regulations and institutions must be streamlined concerning labour management, corporate governance, land acquisition, and other subjects
• Often, financial institutions need change too
Example:
• Industrial policy

Two responses
Author points out that complexity of policy implementation 3.0 generally evokes two responses,
• Leaving it to the market: When market is not generating enough jobs then citizens demand that government should act to create more jobs by inducing more production within their countries. This is the challenge for many ideologically pro-market governments today. In the US and the UK
• Central planning: This approach was adopted by many countries, including India, for industrial development following the example of the Soviet Union. Central planning down to the last level—how much of what will be produced by whom—was basically a Policy Implementation 1.0 approach applied to a Policy 3.0 challenge. It created red tape thereby stifling innovation and entrepreneurship. India liberalized in 1991 and threw out central planning.

Which approach should India choose?
Author states that jobs cannot be planted into the economy top-down by the government (except jobs on government’s own rolls). A jobs policy must stimulate changes in behaviour of entrepreneurs, employees, and investors.
• To do this, it must make many changes in many areas in a coherent and coordinated manner. It must apply a Policy Implementation 3.0 process.

Policy implementation 3.0: Way to go
Author states that policy Implementation 3.0 requires participation of many ministries and agencies, and many stakeholders (trade unions, employers, environmentalists, landowners and communities)

Conclusion
Author concludes that India’s progress will not be as fast as it could be, and needs to be, until governments at the Centre and in the states change their approaches to development and implementation of policies. Less top-down control; more systematic participation. In fact, a principal role of the Centre must be to build capabilities at various levels of governance, in cities, in states, and in the Centre itself, for participative policy formulation and implementation.


 

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Daily Editorial – Anti-corruption mechanism and analysis of Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013

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Anti-corruption mechanism and analysis of Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013


Prevalence and state of corruption in India can be measured from the fact that citizens of India have started to believe that it is an integral part of the administration and inborn feature of the Indian democracy.

Rank of India on Transparency International’s index, 2015

India was placed at 76th position out of 168 countries with a score of 38 out of a possible 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015,

India has been improving its position from 85 and 94 in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

But in terms of score, country’s score was unchanged in 2015 from 38 on a scale of 100.

Anti-corruption mechanism in India

Indian Penal Code, 1860:-

  • Section 169 of IPC, 1860, deals with the cases of public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for property.
  • In this case, public servant shall be punished with imprisonment of upto two years or with fine or both. If the property is purchased, it shall be confiscated.
  • Section 409 deals with the criminal breach of trust by a public servant.
  • The public servant shall be punished with life imprisonment or with imprisonment of upto 10 years and a fine.

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988

  • The Act prohibits any benami transaction except when a person purchases property in his wife’s or unmarried daughter’s name.
  • Any person who enters into a benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment of upto three years and/or a fine.
  • All properties that are held to be benami can be acquired by a prescribed authority and no money shall be paid for such acquisition.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

The Act states that an offence of money laundering has been committed if a person is a party to any process connected with the proceeds of crime and projects such proceeds as untainted property.

“Proceeds of crime” means any property obtained by a person as a result of criminal activity related to certain offences listed in the schedule to the Act.

A person can be charged with the offence of money laundering only if he has been charged with committing a scheduled offence.

The penalty for committing the offence of money laundering is rigorous imprisonment for three to seven years and a fine of uptoRs 5 lakh.

Anti-corruption Agencies:-

The three main authorities involved in inquiring, investigating and prosecuting corruption cases are:-

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI),

And the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

  • Cases related to money laundering by public servants are investigated and prosecuted by the Directorate of Enforcement and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
  • The CBI and state ACBs investigate cases related to corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • The CBI’s jurisdiction is the central government and Union Territories while the state ACBs investigates cases within the states. States can refer cases to the CBI.
  • The CVC is a statutory body that supervises corruption cases in government departments.The CVC can refer cases either to the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) in each department or to the CBI.
  • Prosecution can be initiated by an investigating agency only after it has the prior sanction of the central or state government.
  • All cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are tried by Special Judges who are appointed by the central or state government.

Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

Following are the mains provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988:-

  • If a public servant takes gratification other than his legal remuneration in respect of an official act or to influence public servants is liable to minimum punishment of six months and maximum punishment of five years and fine.
  • The Act also penalizes a public servant for taking gratification to influence the public by illegal means and for exercising his personal influence with a public servant.
  • If a public servant accepts a valuable thing without paying for it, he shall be penalized with minimum punishment of six months and maximum punishment of five years and fine.
  • It is necessary to obtain prior sanction from the central or state government in order to prosecute a public servant.

Present arrangement under section 13(1) of POCA, 1988

Corruption under Section 13 (1) of the Act is defined in four different ways:-

  1. First, a public servant accepts a bribe or makes pecuniary gains without any advantage to the bribe-giver.
  2. Second, both the public servant and some other person benefit.
  3. Third, it is not known whether the public servant has benefited or not, but someone else has benefited.
  4. And lastly, no benefit has accrued to the public servant or anyone else, but a certain act has led to a loss to the exchequer.

Rationale behind proposing amendment

  • It is the 4th definition of the corruption, which has created the problems for civil servants.
  • Prosecuting civil servants for such losses would make large number of civil servants vulnerable to future prosecution.
  • It makes Civil servants prone to political and media pressure.
  • This will make civil servants more and more risk averse.
  • It inhibits fearless decision-making that may involve exercise of discretion and bona fide errors.

Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013

The bill proposes some amendments to the PCA and is pending before Parliament as of now. Following are some amendments proposed:-

  • To establish that the public servant had disproportionate assets, two things would have to be proven:
  1. The possession of monetary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income, and
  2. The intention of the public servant to enrich himself illicitly.
  • The Bill redefines criminal misconduct by a public servant to only include:
  1. fraudulent misappropriation of property under one‟s control, and
  2. Intentional illicit enrichment and possession of disproportionate assets.
  • Government or higher officials’ sanction before prosecuting the serving officers, now has been extended to retired public servants too.
  • Deletion of Section 13(1)(d)(iii), which relates to the public servant obtaining for any person pecuniary advantage “without public interest”.
  • Bill proposes to insert a new Section 17A that would bar investigating agencies from beginning an inquiry or investigating the offences without prior approval.
  • Under the Bill, the burden of proof is transferred to the accused person only for the offence of taking a bribe. In this case, he would have to establish that the reward that he obtained was not a bribe.

Criticisms of POCA, 2013

  • Bill narrows down the definition of corruption.
  • Bill makes it more difficult to hold someone guilty of disproportionate assets as it raises the threshold of proof.
  • The proposed amendment makes it more risky for a bribe-giver to give evidence against a bribe-taker.
  • Additional layers of protection for even retired civil servants would make it difficult to prosecute corrupt public servants.
  • Inserting Section 17A means government will have the power to decide the initiation of prosecution.
  • Major proposed amendment demands prior approval from a “competent authority” even for registering a case under the PC Act against any public servant.
  • Providing civil servants with blanket immunity from either investigation or prosecution is is neither necessary nor in the larger interest of our society and our economy.

Suggestions

To reforms the anti-corruption mechanism, the structure of authorities investigating the cases should be reformed. The following measures should be taken for that purpose:-

  • Making sure that investigating agencies are insulated from extraneous influences.
  • In the present structure, vies of the investigating officers can be suspended without any cogent reason.
  • The culture should be inculcated in the investigating agencies that officers are able to express their views freely.
  • An independent prosecuting agency under a director of prosecution appointed in the same manner as a judge of the high court for the states and a judge of the Supreme Court for the Central investigating agency.
  • Power that vests with the investigating agencies needs to be balanced by ensuring independent scrutiny of evidence by a competent legal mind.
  • Special courts should be set up, to try such cases expeditiously

Conclusion

Not only does corruption in India worsen poverty, it also drags the whole country’s development down by stealing its resources. Hence much more efforts are needed so that all aspects of corruption can be dealt with.


 

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Read the following questions and answer them by clicking on the links in not more than 200 words

Time: 40 Minutes


1.What do you mean by biodiversity? India exhibits a rich variety of ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs. Discuss.

आप जैव विविधता से क्या समझते है? भारत में इस तरह के जंगलों, घास के मैदान, रेगिस्तान, झीलों, मैंग्रोव और प्रवाल भित्तियों के रूप में पारिस्थितिकी प्रणालियों की विविधता को दर्शाती है। चर्चा करें।

The Hindu | Link


2.“Gas is 50 per cent cleaner than coal on carbon emissions, significantly cleaner on sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, and has virtually non-existent PM 2.5 emissions, which is the big issue with respect to air quality.” Discuss.

“गैस 50 प्रतिशत कार्बन उत्सर्जन से कोयले की तुलना में सॉफ है। काफी सॉफ सल्फर आक्साइड और नाइट्रोजन आक्साइड में लगभग न के बराबर PM 2.5 उत्सर्जन है, जो हवा की गुणवत्ता के संबंध में बड़ा मुद्दा है।” चर्चा करें।

The Hindu


3.“Major Defense Partner” is based on the concept of the US treating India as its closest ally and partner for the purpose of technology transfer. Examine this statement.

“प्रमुख रक्षा साथी” अमेरिका की अवधारणा भारत के करीबी सहयोगी और प्रौद्योगिकी हस्तांतरण के प्रयोजन के भागेदारी पर आधारित है। इस बयान की जांच करें।

Indian Express


4.Analyse the various causes of urban floods in India.

भारत में शहरी बाढ़ के विभिन्न कारणों का विश्लेषण करें।

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Must Read News Articles – December 12


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The Hindu


Front Page / NATIONAL


Cyclone Vardah heads towards Chennai shoresCyclonic storm Vardah is likely to make landfall by Monday afternoon along north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast, close to Chennai, accompanied by strong winds with speeds of 80 to 90 kmph.

Cancel illegal salt pans in Sambhar Lake: NGT: The central zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Rajasthan government to cancel allotments of salt pans in the Sambhar Salt Lake that fall within the wetland and run contrary to the mandate of Wetland Rules, 2010.

Parliamentary panel says SC showing a ‘zeal for primacy’: As the Supreme Court and the Centre differ over the delay in appointment of judges in the High Courts, lawmakers have for the first time joined the fray. They have tabled a Parliamentary Standing Committee report accusing the Supreme Court of distorting the original constitutional mandate and showing an “unnecessary zeal” for primacy in judicial appointments.


INTERNATIONAL

U.S. arms technologies come closer: With Major Defence Partner status, India will be offered simplified licensing requirements.


Editorial/OPINION


Time to blow the whistle: Parliament is considering an amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act which would only end up helping the corrupt. Its passage would administer a big blow to our already weak anti-corruption mechanism.


ECONOMY


‘It is time to leave the history of coal behind’: Strict emission standards, an enabling regulatory framework, and a high price on carbon are some of the key ways India can boost its natural gas sector, according to the International Gas Union.


Science and Technology


‘Nano-ceramic’ material for safer, cheaper nuclear reactors: Scientists have created a nano-ceramic material, which may be used in next-generation nuclear reactors that will operate at higher temperatures and radiation fields, producing energy more efficiently and economically.

ISRO signs deal for first privately built satellite: The Indian Space Research Organisation has roped in a consortium of six companies to deliver the country’s first industry-built spacecraft by late 2017.


Indian Express


Binding friendship: Major defence partner status for New Delhi marks the institutionalization of India-US defence cooperation.:


Live Mint


Demonetisation for behavioural change: Throwing millions of lives in disarray to seemingly change their cash usage behaviour sounds primordial.

Back to the worst forms of central planning: The main criterion by which to judge economic policies and institutions is whether they advance human freedom. On this standard, demonetisation is an unarguably regressive move.

Don’t cry over dead trade agreements: If we can manage our own economies well, new trade pacts will become largely redundant.

Preparing for Policy Implementation 3.0: The government needs to change its approach to development and policy implementation.