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Current Affairs 10 December 2022

CONTENTS

  1. Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022
  2. Overseas Citizenship of India
  3. Election security deposit
  4. Exit polls

Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022


Context:

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has introduced the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Intervention

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill
  2. Key features of the bill
  3. Concerns

About Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill

  • By amending the Energy Conservation Act of 2001, the Bill gives the central government more authority to designate a carbon credit trading system.
  • A percentage of the energy demands of designated users may need to come from non-fossil fuels.
  • India made promises pertinent to efforts to increase energy efficiency at the COP-26 meeting in 2021.
  • In light of this, in August 2022, the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was presented to Lok Sabha.

Key features of the bill

Carbon credit trading:
  • The Bill empowers the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme.  
  • Carbon credit implies a tradable permit to produce a specified amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse emissions.
Obligation to use non-fossil sources of energy:
  • The Act empowers the central government to specify energy consumption standards for designated consumers to meet a minimum share of energy consumption from non-fossil sources. 
  • Designated consumers include:
    • industries such as mining, steel, cement, textile, chemicals, and petrochemicals,
    • transport sector including Railways,
    • commercial buildings, as specified in the schedule.
Energy conservation code for buildings: 
  • The bill empowers the central government to specify norms for energy efficiency and conservation, use of renewable energy, and other requirements for green buildings.  
  • Under the Act, the energy conservation code applies to commercial buildings:
    • erected after the notification of the Code,
    • having a minimum connected load of 100 kilowatt (kW) or contract load of 120 kilo volt ampere (kVA).
Standards for vehicles and vessels: 
  • Under the bill, the energy consumption standards may be specified for equipment and appliances which consume, generate, transmit, or supply energy. 
  • The Bill expands the scope to include vehicles (as defined under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988), and vessels (includes ships and boats).
Composition of the governing council of BEE: 
  • The Act provides for the setting up of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). 
  • The Bureau has a governing council with members between 20 and 26 in number.

Concerns

  • Carbon credit trading aims to reduce carbon emissions, and hence, address climate change. 
  • The question is whether the Ministry of Power is the appropriate Ministry to regulate this scheme.
  • A further question is whether the market regulator for carbon credit trading should be specified in the Act.
  • Same activity may be eligible for renewable energy, energy savings, and carbon credit certificates.
  • The Bill does not specify whether these certificates will be interchangeable.
  • Designated consumers must meet certain non-fossil energy use obligation. 
  • Given the limited competition among discoms in any area, consumers may not have a choice in the energy mix.

-Source: The Hindu


Overseas Citizenship of India


Context:

The Delhi High Court has sought a response from the central government on a petition against the cancellation of a person’s Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who is an Overseas Citizen?
  2. Benefits to OCI Cardholders
  3. Limitations

Who is an Overseas Citizen?

  • An OCI is a category introduced by the government in 2005.
  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain categories as specified in the Citizenship Act, 1955 are eligible for being OCI cardholders.
  • Some of the benefits for PIO and OCI cardholders were different until 2015 when the government merged these two categories.
Definition:
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as a person who:
    • Was a citizen of India on or after 26th January 1950; or Was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January 1950; or
    • Is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
    • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Benefits to OCI Cardholders:

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO).
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she is eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, buy the non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.
  • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.

Limitations:

  • OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government job and purchase agricultural or farmland.
  • They cannot run for public office either, nor can they travel to restricted areas without government permission.

-Source: The Hindu


Election Security Deposit


Context:

A political party based in New Delhi lost its election deposit for most of its candidates in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance (Representation Of People’s Act)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is an election security deposit?
  2. Is the amount same for all elections?
  3. When is a candidate said to ‘lose’ their security deposit?

What is an election security deposit?

  • An election security deposit is an amount that is to be deposited with the Returning Officer when a candidate files their nomination.
  • This is to be submitted either in cash, or a receipt must be enclosed with the nomination paper, showing that the said sum has been deposited on the candidate’s behalf in the Reserve Bank of India or in a Government Treasury.
  • The main purpose of this practice is to ensure that only genuinely intending candidates end up filing the nomination to be a part of the electoral process.

Is the amount same for all elections?

  • No, it depends on the particular election being conducted, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951 mentions different amounts depending on the level of election:
    • In the case of an election from a Parliamentary constituency, meaning a Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seat, the amount is Rs 25,000 and Rs 12,500 for a Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidate.
    • In the case of an election from an Assembly or Council constituency, meaning at the level of legislative bodies in the states, it is Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 for an SC/ST candidate.
    • Even in the case of Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections, a deposit of Rs 15,000 is to be made.

When is a candidate said to ‘lose’ their security deposit?

  • As per the same Act, the deposit has to be forfeited at an election if the number of valid votes polled by the candidate is less than 1/6th of the total number of valid votes polled.
  • Or, in the case of the election of more than one member, it would be 1/6th of the total number of valid votes so polled divided by the number of members to be elected. This refers to elections by proportional representation method, as is the case in Rajya Sabha.
  • If the candidate does meet the threshold, “the deposit shall be returned as soon as practicable after the result of the election is declared.”
  • If a candidate withdraws their nomination or passes away before the polls, the amount is returned.
  • The Act adds that “if at a general election, the candidate is a contesting candidate in more than one parliamentary constituency or in more than one assembly constituency, not more than one of the deposits shall be returned, and the others shall be forfeited.”

-Source: Indian Express


Exit Polls


Context:

 In India, results of exit polls for a particular election are not allowed to be published till the last vote has been cast. While exit polls generate a lot of curiosity and sometimes predict election results most accurately.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance (Representation Of People’s Act)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are exit polls?
  2. Issues with exit polls
  3. Rules governing exit polls in India

What are exit polls?

  • An exit poll asks voters which political party they are supporting after they have cast their votes in an election. In this, it differs from an opinion poll, which is held before the elections.
  • An exit poll is supposed to give an indication of which way the winds are blowing in an election, along with the issues, personalities, and loyalties that have influenced voters.
History of exit polls in India
  • In 1957, during the second Lok Sabha elections, the Indian Institute of Public Opinion had conducted such a poll.

Issues with exit polls

  • Some common parameters for a good, or accurate, opinion poll would be a sample size that is both large and diverse, and a clearly constructed questionnaire without an overt bias.
  • Political parties often allege that these polls are motivated, or financed by a rival party.
  • Critics also say that the results gathered in exit polls can be influenced by the choice, wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn.

Rules governing exit polls in India

  • In India, results of exit polls for a particular election are not allowed to be published till the last vote has been cast.
  • The issue of when exit polls should be allowed to be published has gone to the Supreme Court thrice in various forms. 
  • Currently, exit polls can’t be telecast from before voting begins till the last phase concludes.

-Source: Indian Express


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