Categories
9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 24th September 2016

 


Click here to Download 9 PM Daily Brief PDF (24th Sept. 2016)


NATIONAL

 

[1]. No water to spare, resolves Karnataka

 The Hindu

Context

In the light of ongoing Cauvery dispute, Karnataka legislature has passed a resolution stating its inability to release water to Tamilnadu

SC’s order

SC in its order dated 15th September 2016 had directed Karnataka government to release water at the rate of 6,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu from September 21 to 27

The resolution

The carefully worded resolution does not mention the SC’s order. It only observes that it is in “a state of acute crisis” and the storages in the four reservoirs “have reached alarmingly low levels with only 27.6 Thousand Million Cubic Feet (tmcft) of water.

Note – Cauvery dispute will be covered in detail in 1st week of November

 

EDITORIAL

 

[1]. Pushback against civil liberties

The Hindu

Context

In the light of recent atrocities against Dalits and the subsequent demands of diluting the Prevention of Atrocities Act, author presents an analysis as to why government should not cave in.

Author says that in order to examine the demands of dilution we must first understand the very different relationships that caste has with the Constitution, society, and state.

Caste and Constitution

Author states that Indian constitution does not deal with the issue of caste directly. A constitution by its very nature is designed to portray a country in a best possible light. It is what a nation aspires to be and not what ii actually is. So, by its very design a constitution cannot address the problem of caste directly.

  • Article 15, a fundamental right, prohibits discrimination on basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Sections 2a & 2b under Article 15 prohibit discriminatory restriction of access to “shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment” and “wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resortmaintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public
  • Article 17 abolishes untouchability

In all of the above cases, caste has been dealt with rather obliquely except in Section 2a & 2b wherein discrimination on the basis of caste has been prohibited directly. Under Article 15 also, the problem of caste has been mentioned amongst other sources of discrimination.

In the end author sadly surmises that caste has been mentioned as a special or exceptional circumstance only and not dealt in detail in the constitution.

Discrimination as dominance

Author states that Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoAA), 1989 and its older version Protection of civil rights Act 1955 are special laws in the sense that they deal with special class of citizens who have been subjected to inhumane forms of discrimination like eating obnoxious (extremely unpleasant) substances, being paraded naked and so on.

  • Author further states that when dominant caste feels it has little prospect of economic and social mobility (moving upward in social & economic terms), its self-esteem and identity becomes increasingly dependent on the unequal social relationship it shares with the lower castes

Explanation – When a person of high caste is left with no option of growth in economic and social terms, his self-esteem and identity at that point becomes more and more dependent on the relationship with lower caste person. His only source of self-worth is the sense of superiority he feels with regard his position in society vis-à-vis lower caste.

  • Hence, in such a condition if a lower caste person witnesses economic or social growth, it is seen as a decline in the status of the dominant caste

The caste-state relationship

State is not a uniform entity. State requires constitution for its legitimacy i.e. without a constitution a state won’t exist. Also, a constitution requires a state for its implementation. Now, a state is run by politicians who themselves are from the society leading to a prevalence of prejudices in the state itself but as the state is bound by the constitution of the land it cannot always act on the social biases. For eg: A political leader from the higher caste might harbor prejudices against lower caste people but he cannot act on his whims without a total disregard of the constitution, which will elicit punitive measures. He might be able to get away in certain cases but overall he his bound by the law of the land.

As it is clear from the above, state can act in wide variety of ways with respect to caste.

Returning to the claims being made to dilute the PoAA, author alleges that,

The demands are mainly coming from political parties representing regionally dominant castesin two states of Tamilnadu and Maharashtra. Both states have seen Dalit mobility owing to their economic development. This has enraged dominant castes who are arguing that the PoAA is being misused.

  • It has been used against every special scheme or law intended to empower vulnerable groups, including reservations, laws against dowry, sexual harassment and rape, and even the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA)
  • Actual evidence to support the ‘misuse’ argument is absent. On the contrary, reports from activist groups show that it is hard for ordinary Dalits to get cases registered, and extremely difficult to get them placed under the PoAA.

Demands to dilute PoAA in Maharashtra can be seen in the backdrop of the recent rape case where a 14 year old victim belonging to dominant caste was raped & murdered. The accused are Dalits.

Conclusion

Author contends that given a chance even Dalits can turn to oppressors but the obvious question is that whether they are getting that chance. Going by the nationwide evidence on the frequency of atrocities on Dalits, it doesn’t seems so.

 

[2]. Under the weather

 The Hindu

Context

India has scored poorly in an index that ranks countries on their performance on a range of health-related indicators.

The index has been prepared through a collaborative study by more than 1,700 researchers from around the world, under the aegis of the Washington-based Global Burden of Diseases. The study is based on 47 indicators relevant to health to create a composite index. As per the index,

  • Overall, India is placed 143 in a list of 188
  • Safe hygiene practices – India scores an abysmal eight on a scale of 0 to 100
  • Sanitation – India scores 48
  • Access to water – India scores a lowly 22
  • Malaria eradication – India scores 10 points. Sri Lanka and war-ravaged Iraq, Syria and Libya score the maximum on this yardstick as they have eradicated malaria

Dismal public health spending

Author states that India has missed out on the opportunity to leverage its growth story to target universal health for its citizens. Public health spending in India is just 1% of the entire GDP.

  • Public spending on healthcare in Sri Lanka is around two per cent of the country’s GDP
  • In China it’s three per cent
  • In the UK it’s eight per cent
  • In Iceland, the top ranker in the Global Health Burden of Diseases study, nearly eight per cent

 

[3]. Six wise persons

 

Indian Express

 

Context

A monetary policy committee (MPC) was constituted which will decide on the monetary policy rate, a function which was performed until now by the governor himself.

Structure of the MPC

It is an executive body of 6 members headed by the Governor of RBI. It will decide on the monetary policy rate for RBI.

Out of 6 members,

1). 3 are from Reserve Bank

2). 3 others are nominated by the government. These members will hold office for 4 years.

  • Each member will have one vote each
  • RBI governor will have a casting vote in case of a tie meaning he won’t be able to veto a majority decision

What is mandate of MPC?

The MPC is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy rate (repo rate) to contain inflation within the target level of 4+/- 2%

Author states that constitution of MPC would increase,

  • Transparency& accountability – MPC would lead to a more transparent method of determining interest rates, based on the opinion of not one, but six wise persons

 

ECONOMY

 

[1]. GST council sets exemption threshold for tax at Rs.20 lakh

The Hindu

Context

GST Council has decided the exemption limits for the businesses under the GST regime that is set to be implemented in India from 1st April 2017

GST Council decided on following major issues

1). Exemptions for businesses

In Northeastern and hill states:  Annual turnover < Rs 10 lakh

For the rest of India: Annual turnover of Rs 20 lakh

2).Administrative control over indirect tax assesses – The States would have sole jurisdiction over assesses (currently in the Value Added Tax [VAT] net at present) having a turnover of Rs.1.5 crore or less, while the administrative control of businesses with a turnover exceeding that limit would be jointly with the Central and State governments

3).Service tax assesses – Existing 11 lakh service tax assesses will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Centre. Since the GST will allow the States to also tax services, over time the revenue officials in the States will be trained after which they will begin assessing assesses in the services sector.

A higher threshold is a good news

Higher exemption limit means that many small scale traders and service providers would be saved from undertaking GST compliances. It will further reduce a substantial burden for tax authorities to assess small time dealers

Compensation formula

The compensation that the Centre would pay to the States for losses of revenue because of the transition to the new regime would be routinely, quarterly or bi-monthly. The Council agreed to settle for 2015-16 as the base year for calculating the compensation

 

Print Friendly