28th December 2020

Powers of Governor in calling an Assembly Session

Recently, in a tug-of-war between Governor and Chief Minister of Kerala, the Governor has turned down a request to summon a special sitting of the Assembly to debate the new three central farm laws.

Constitutional Provisions for summoning a session of an Assembly

  • Article 174 says that the Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit.
  • The provision under Article 174 also puts on the Governor the responsibility of ensuring that the House is summoned at least once every six months.
  • Article 163 provides that it is the Governor’s prerogative to summon the House.
  • The summoning of the house by the Governor under Article 174 implies that the summoning of the house is not of Governor’s own will but on the aid and advice of the Cabinet.
  • The power vested with the Governor under Article 174 to summon, prorogue and dissolve the house(s) must be exercised in consonance with the aid and advice of the chief minister and his council of ministers.

Power of Governor to act against the will of Chief Minister

  • It has been observed in few instances where the Governor can summon the House despite the refusal of the Chief Minister who heads the Cabinet. 
    • When the Chief Minister appears to have lost the majority and the legislative members of the House propose a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister, then the Governor can decide on his or her own on summoning the House.
  • The actions of the Governor executed with the use of his discretionary powers can be challenged in the court.

Viewpoint of Judiciary on Governor’s Power to Summon an Assembly

  • The number of rulings by the Supreme Court has settled the position that the Governor cannot refuse the request of a Cabinet that enjoys majority in the House unless it is patently unconstitutional.
  • The landmark 2016 Constitution Bench ruling in which the Supreme Court looked into the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh after the Governor had imposed President’s Rule in the state.
  • The court read the power to summon the House as a “function” of the Governor and not a “power” he enjoys.

 

Zero Coupon Bond

Recently, the government has used financial innovation to recapitalize Punjab & Sind Bank by issuing the lender Rs 5,500-crore worth of Zero Coupon Bond valued at par.

  • The zero-coupon bond is a bond that pays no interest and trades at a discount to its face value.
    • It implies that the investor purchasing a zero coupon bond profits from the difference between the buying price and the face value, contrary to the usual interest income.
  • It is also called a pure discount bond or deep discount bond.
  • A Zero Coupon Bond is a non-interest bearing, non-transferable special Government of India securities which has a maturity of 10-15 years.
  • The Zero Coupon Bond is issued by the Central Government specifically to a particular institution.

Significance of Zero Coupon Bond

  • The market participants term it both a ‘financial illusion’ and ‘great innovation’ by the government where it is using Rs 100 to create an impact of Rs 200 in the economy.
  • The lender has kept the Zero Coupon Bond in the Held-to-Maturity (HTM) bucket, not requiring it to book any mark-to-market gains or losses from these bonds because these bonds are not tradable.
  • The government has found an innovative way to capitalise banks, which does not affect the fiscal deficit while at the same time provides much needed equity capital to the banks.
  • The funds raised through issuance of Zero Coupon Bond can deployed to capitalise the state-run bank.

Concerns associated with Zero Coupon Bond

  • Zero coupon bonds are subject to interest rates risk if sold prior to the date of maturity.
  • The value of zero coupon bonds is inversely related to the rise in the interest rates i.e. with rising in interest rates there is a decline in the value of these bonds in the secondary market.
  • The sensitivity of long-term zero-coupon bonds to interest rates exposes them to duration risk which implies that higher a bond’s duration, the greater will be its sensitivity to interest rate changes.

Zero Coupon Bonds issued by Private Firms

  • The zero coupon bonds issued by private companies are normally issued at discount, but the zero coupon bonds of the government are special bonds which are not tradable as these can be issued at par.

 

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution

Recently, the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directing the Andhra Pradesh government to argue on the ‘breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state’ is shocking as it opens up the possibility of use or even misuse of Article 356 by the judiciary.

Genesis

  • No liberal democratic Constitution in the world has a provision such as Article 356 that gives the central government the power to dismiss a democratically-elected State government.
  • The provision of President’s Rule was borrowed by the Government of India and Pakistan from the Government of India Act, 1935.
  • The provision which leaders had opposed during the freedom struggle was incorporated in the Constitution strangely in the name of democracy, federalism and stability.

Constitutional Provisions of Article 356

  • Article 355 imposes a duty on the Centre to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
    • It is this duty in the performance of which the Centre takes over the government of a state under Article 356 in case of failure of constitutional machinery in state.
  • The President’s Rule can be proclaimed under Article 356 on two grounds:
    • Article 356 empowers the President to issue a proclamation, if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
    • Article 365 says that whenever a state fails to comply with or to give effect to any direction from the Centre, it will be lawful for the president to hold that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Parliamentary Approval and Duration of Article 356

  • The proclamation imposing President’s Rule must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months from the date of its issue.
  • If the proclamation of President’s Rule is issued at a time when the Lok Sabha has been dissolved or the dissolution of the Lok Sabha takes place during the period of two months without approving the proclamation, then the proclamation survives until 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha after its reconstitution.
  • The President’s Rule continues for six months when the proclamation is approved by both the houses of Parliament.
  • The President’s Rule can be extended for a maximum period of three years with the approval of the Parliament, every six months.
  • The resolution approving the proclamation of President’s Rule or its continuation can be passed by either House of Parliament only by a simple majority.
  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision to put restraint on the power of Parliament to extend a proclamation of President’s Rule beyond one year.
    • It provided that, beyond one year, the President’s Rule can be extended by six months at a time only when the following two conditions are fulfilled:
      • A proclamation of National Emergency should be in operation in the whole of India, or in the whole or any part of the state; and
      • The Election Commission must certify that the general elections to the legislative assembly of the concerned state cannot be held on account of difficulties.

Scope of Judicial Review of President’s Rule

  • The 38th Amendment Act of 1975 made the satisfaction of the President in invoking Article 356 final and conclusive which could not be challenged in any court on any ground.
  • The above provision was subsequently deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 implying that the satisfaction of the President is not beyond judicial review.

 

Monpa Handmade Paper

Recently, the committed efforts of the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) have brought the Monpa Handmade Paper back to life once again.

Monpa Handmade Paper

  • It is a 1000-year old heritage art of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is a fine-textured handmade paper which is called Mon Shugu in the local dialect.
  • It is integral to the vibrant culture of the local tribes in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries.
  • The Monpa handmade paper will be made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng which has medicinal values too.

KVIC’s efforts to revive Monpa Handmade Paper

  • The KVIC has commissioned a Monpa handmade paper making unit in Tawang which not only aims at reviving the art but also engaging the local youths with this art professionally and earn.
  • The KVIC has deputed a team of scientists and officials of Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, (KNHPI) at Tawang to set up the unit and training the locals.
  • The Monpa handmade paper unit will also serve as a training center for the local youths.
  • The KVIC will provide marketing support and explore markets for the locally manufactured handmade paper.

Monpa Tribe

  • It is one of the most prominent tribes of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.
  • The traditional dress of the Monpa is based on the Tibetan Chugba, although people generally wear woolen coats and trousers as well.
  • The Monpa are an ancient ethnic group of descent in the Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh located in the districts of Tawang and West Kameng.
  • The Monpa society is patriarchal i.e. the man is the head of the family and is the one who takes all decisions.

 

Ayushman Bharat SEHAT Scheme

Recently, the Prime Minister has launched the Ayushman Bharat SEHAT Scheme.

Key Features of Ayushman Bharat SEHAT Scheme

  • It promises health insurance cover to all 1.30 crore people of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The free treatment under the Ayushman Bharat SEHAT scheme will not be confined to only government and private hospitals in J&K but in 24,000 hospitals across the country.
  • The scheme will provide free-of-cost insurance cover to all residents of the UT of J&K.
  • It will extend financial cover of up to ₹5 lakh per family on a floater basis to all residents of the UT.

Significance of Ayushman Bharat SEHAT Scheme

  • The scheme will ensure universal health coverage and focus on providing financial risk protection to the population of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The scheme is aimed at ensuring quality and affordable essential health services to all individuals and communities.
  • The scheme will operate on insurance mode in convergence with Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).
  • The benefits of the scheme will be portable across the country because the hospitals empanelled under the PM-JAY scheme shall provide services under this scheme as well.
  • With the launch of AB-PMJAY SEHAT, all residents of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their socio-economic status, will be covered under the scheme.

Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

  • It is the largest health assurance scheme in the world as part of Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
  • It aims at providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families.
  • The households included are based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas respectively.

 

Kisan Fasal Rahat Yojana of Jharkhand

The Jharkhand government is set to replace the Prime Minister’s insurance scheme for farmers with Kisan Fasal Rahat Yojana.

  • It is a compensation scheme aimed at providing security cover to Jharkhand farmers in case of crop damage due to natural calamity.
  • It will cover both land owning and landless farmers.
  • The Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Co-operative will be the implementing agency of the scheme.
    • The Department will work in association with a project management unit, which will be a consultancy firm that will take care of technical requirements.
  • Food safety, crop diversification, rapid development in agriculture and paving the way for competition are among the aims of the scheme.
  • It is not an insurance scheme where premiums are paid.
  • The damage due to wild animal attack and preventable risks such as unscientific farming by farmers will not be considered under the scheme.

Need for Kisan Fasal Rahat Yojana in Jharkhand

  • Jharkhand is home to around 38 lakh farmers cultivating 38 lakh hectares of land.
  • The state government says that among them around 25 lakh farmers are small or marginal landholders.
  • The irregular monsoon has affected the Kharif sowing season and as Jharkhand is mostly a single crop (paddy) state, the scheme will primarily target this group of farmers.

Reasons to replace Prime Minister’s insurance scheme

  • Every year a large amount is paid as premium to the insurance companies.
    • Jharkhand paid a total of Rs 512.55 crore in the last three years while the compensation claim settlement was only Rs 82.86 crore, which was only 16 per cent of the total premium.
  • The number of farmers benefited as compared to the actual cover is also hugely disproportionate.
    • In the last three years, out of a total of 33.79 lakh registered farmers, only 2.25 lakh farmers have benefited from the scheme.

Assessment of Crop Damage

  • The crop damage will be assessed through a ‘ground truthing’ process, which will be a combination of sample observations.
    • In the case of post-harvest damage, assessment will be done on the basis of sighting.
  • The role of the gram sabha is important in the initial reporting of crop damage received from the farmers.
  • Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and other geological processes fall under the category of natural calamities which will be covered under the scheme.

 

BBX11 Gene-Greening of Plants

Recently, the researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have identified a gene called BBX11.

BBX11

  • It is a gene that facilitates in the greening of plants by playing a crucial role in regulating the levels of protochlorophyllide.
  • Using genetic, molecular and biochemical techniques, the researchers found a mechanism where two proteins oppositely regulate the ‘BBX11’ gene to maintain optimum levels of ‘BBX11’.
  • The study highlighted that the amount of protochlorophyllide synthesised needed to be proportional to the number of enzymes available to convert them to chlorophyll.

Significance of Identification of BBX11

  • The study could have tremendous implications in the agriculture sector in tropical countries like India.
    • It can help provide leads to optimise plant growth under stressful and rapidly changing climatic conditions.
  • The rapidly changing climatic conditions often lead to severe distress among the farming community as indicated by the high number of farmer suicide but the knowledge of new gene would optimise plant growth under the stressful conditions such as severe drought, high temperature and high light.

Protochlorophyllide

  • It is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of the green pigment chlorophyll.
  • The plants make a precursor of chlorophyll called ‘protochlorophyllide’ in the dark in order to facilitate quick synthesis of chlorophyll.

 

Inner Line Permit (ILP)

Recently, the Union Home Minister has said that the Inner Line Permit (ILP) had been the Centre’s biggest gift to Manipur since its statehood.

  • The central government highlighted that denying ILP will be an injustice to the indigenous people of Manipur.
  • In December 2019, the central government has given the inner line permit to the state of Manipur.
  • The pressure groups in the northeast view ILP as a shield against the entry of illegal immigrants.

Inner Line Permit

  • It is colonial-era concept of separating the tribal-populated hill areas in the Northeast from the plains.
  • It has its origin from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873.
  • During the British rule, the BEFR prohibits an outsider’s i.e. “British subject or foreign citizen”, entry into the area beyond the Inner Line without a pass and his purchase of land there.
    • After Independence, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India”.
  • Its aim is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the States where ILP regime is prevalent, in order to protect the indigenous/tribal population.
  • It is valid in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.
  • It is issued by the concerned state governments.
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