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Current Affairs 11 June 2024

  1. Household Consumption Expenditure Survey
  2. First Past The Post vs. Proportional Representation
  3. Delhi High Court’s Ruling on CIC’s Jurisdiction Over MPLADS Funds
  4. Duty Drawback Scheme
  5. Operation Bluestar
  6. Biopharmaceutical Alliance


Context:

Recently, the detailed report of Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) 2022-23 was released by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey?
  2. Highlights of the Recent Household Consumption Expenditure Survey
  3. National Statistical Office (NSO)

What is the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey?

  • Conducted by:
    • The Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) is carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO) every five years.
  • Purpose:
    • It aims to collect data on household consumption of goods and services.
  • Usage:
    • The collected data helps derive various macroeconomic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), poverty rates, and Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Calculation:
    • The average Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) is calculated at 2011-12 prices.
  • Coverage:
    • The survey includes the entire Indian Union, excluding some inaccessible villages in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Previous Survey:
    • The last HCES conducted in 2017-18 was not released due to concerns over data quality.
  • Information Provided:
    • It provides insights into typical household spending on goods (food and non-food items) and services.
    • It also assists in calculating MPCE and analyzing the distribution of households and individuals across different MPCE categories.

Highlights of the Recent Household Consumption Expenditure Survey

  • Food and Beverages:
    • Beverages, Refreshments, and Processed Food are major parts of food expenditure, especially in Tamil Nadu, with the highest spending percentages in both rural (28.4%) and urban (33.7%) areas.
  • Milk and Milk Products:
    • High expenditure in states like Haryana (rural 41.7%, urban 33.1%) and Rajasthan (urban 33.2%).
  • Egg, Fish, and Meat:
    • Kerala has the highest spending in this category, in both rural (23.5%) and urban (19.8%) areas.
  • Food Expenditure:
    • Food accounts for about 46% of total household consumption expenditure in rural areas and 39% in urban areas.
  • Non-Food Expenditure:
    • Significant shift towards higher spending on non-food items, rising from 40.6% in 1999 to 53.62% in 2022-23 for rural areas and from 51.94% to 60.83% for urban areas during the same period.
  • Top Non-Food Expenditures:
    • Conveyance: Highest in Kerala for both rural and urban settings.
    • Medical Expenses: High in Kerala, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh for rural areas; and West Bengal, Kerala, and Punjab for urban areas.
    • Durable Goods: Highest spending noted in Kerala in both rural and urban settings.
    • Fuel and Light: Significant spending observed in West Bengal and Odisha.
  • State-wise Variations:
    • Spending preferences vary across states, reflecting cultural and regional economic differences.
  • Increase in Consumption Expenditure:
    • There has been a significant increase in consumption expenditure over the past decade.
    • Rural monthly consumption per person increased by 164% from 2011-12 to 2022-23, while urban monthly consumption per person grew by 146%.
    • The rural MPCE has grown faster compared to the urban sector.
    • The gap between urban and rural MPCE has decreased from 90% in 2009-10 to 75% in 2022-23.

National Statistical Office (NSO):

  • Formation:
    • Established in 2019 by merging the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).
  • Origins:
    • Proposed by the C. Rangarajan Committee as the central body for core statistical activities.
  • Administrative Placement:
    • Operates under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).
  • Functions:
    • Collects, compiles, and disseminates accurate, unbiased, and pertinent statistical data.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

The results of the Lok Sabha elections were declared last week. The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has won 293 seats with a 43.3% vote share while the Opposition bloc INDIA (including Trinamool Congress) has secured 234 seats with a 41.6% vote share. Other regional parties and independents polled around 15% but ended up with only 16 seats in total.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the First Past the Post System?
  2. What is Proportional Representation?
  3. Way Forward

What is the First Past the Post System?

  • Definition: The First Past the Post (FPTP) system is used for elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies in India. In this system, the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate in a constituency wins the election.
  • Adoption in Democracies: This system is commonly used in countries like the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.
  • Advantages:
    • Simplicity: It is straightforward and easy to implement, especially in a large country like India.
    • Stability: FPTP tends to provide greater stability to the executive branch in a parliamentary democracy, as it allows the ruling party or coalition to hold a majority in the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly without needing more than 50% of the votes across all constituencies.
  • Issues:
    • Representation: FPTP can lead to over or under-representation of political parties relative to their share of the vote. For instance, after India’s independence, the Congress party won nearly 75% of seats in the Lok Sabha with only 45-47% of the vote share, as shown in past elections.

What is Proportional Representation?

  • Definition: The Proportional Representation (PR) system allocates seats to political parties based on their share of the vote. The most common form is ‘party list PR,’ where voters vote for parties rather than individual candidates. Parties then receive seats in proportion to their vote share.
  • Eligibility: Typically, a party must secure a minimum of 3-5% of the vote to be eligible for seats.
  • Application in India:
    • Federal Implementation: Ideally, PR should be applied at each State/Union Territory (UT) level in India.
    • Election Results Example: Applying PR to the 2024 election results would have led to different seat distributions across states. For example, in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, the NDA would have secured 23 seats instead of 64, reflecting their 62%, 60%, and 53% vote shares, respectively. Similarly, the INDIA bloc would have had representation in Tamil Nadu with a 47% vote share, unlike the current FPTP system where they secured all 39 seats.
  • Criticisms:
    • Instability: PR could lead to instability, as no single party or coalition may secure a majority to form the government.
    • Proliferation of Parties: It may result in the formation of numerous political parties based on regional, caste, religious, and linguistic lines, potentially promoting divisive voting patterns. However, the current FPTP system has also not prevented such formations.
Balancing Stability and Representation
  • Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR): This system combines elements of FPTP and PR. Under MMPR, one candidate is elected through the FPTP system from each territorial constituency, with additional seats filled based on the parties’ percentage of votes. This approach aims to balance the need for stable governance with fair representation.

International Practices

  • Presidential Democracies: Countries like Brazil and Argentina use the party list PR system for elections.
  • Parliamentary Democracies: Nations such as South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain also employ the party list PR system.
  • Germany: Utilizes the Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR) system. In the Bundestag (equivalent to Lok Sabha), 50% of the 598 seats are filled from constituencies under the FPTP system, while the remaining 50% are allocated to parties that secure at least 5% of the vote, based on their vote share.
  • New Zealand: Out of 120 seats in the House of Representatives, 60% are filled through the FPTP system from territorial constituencies. The remaining 40% are allocated to parties with at least 5% of the vote.

Benefits: This system aims to balance stability in a parliamentary democracy with proportional representation, ensuring that all parties are represented according to their vote share.

Way Forward

  • Law Commission’s Recommendation: In its 170th report (1999), the Law Commission recommended experimenting with the MMPR system. It suggested that 25% of seats could be filled through a PR system by increasing the strength of the Lok Sabha.
  • Federal Consideration: The report recommended implementing the PR system at each State/Union Territory (UT) level, considering India’s federal structure.
  • Delimitation Exercise: The next delimitation exercise for increasing the number of seats is due after the first Census conducted post-2026. The population growth over the past five decades has been uneven across regions, making proportional seat allocation based solely on population potentially problematic and against federal principles.
  • Proposed Approach: In the event of increasing seats during the delimitation exercise, the MMPR system could be used for incremental seats or at least 25% of total seats filled from each State/UT. This approach could address concerns of southern, northeastern, and smaller states in the northern region, mitigating the dominance of larger states that would otherwise gain more seats through the FPTP system alone.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Delhi High Court has ruled that the Central Information Commission (CIC) has no jurisdiction to comment on the utilisation of funds under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background of the Court’s Ruling
  2. MPLAD Scheme

Background of the Court’s Ruling

  • 2018 CIC Order: The Central Information Commission (CIC) raised concerns about Members of Parliament (MPs) strategically saving their MPLADS funds until the final year of their term. The CIC suspected this tactic was used to gain an unfair advantage during elections.
  • MoSPI Suggestion: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) was advised by the CIC to prevent this “abuse” by implementing guidelines to ensure the funds were distributed equally over each year of the five-year term.
  • Legal Challenge: The MoSPI filed a legal challenge in the Delhi High Court against the CIC’s ruling related to a Right to Information (RTI) application.
Court’s Ruling
  • No Jurisdiction: The Delhi High Court ruled that the CIC does not have jurisdiction to comment on the utilization of funds by MPs under the MPLADS.
  • RTI Act Scope: The court noted that the RTI Act is limited to providing access to information under the control of public authorities.
  • Section 18 of RTI Act: According to Section 18 of the RTI Act, the CIC can only deal with issues related to the information sought under the RTI Act or any issue leading to the dissipation of such information.
  • Publication of Details: The Court upheld the CIC’s instruction for public authorities to publish details of the funds, MP-wise, Constituency-wise, and work-wise under the RTI Act.

MPLAD Scheme:

MPLADS is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94.  The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.

Nodal Ministry:

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.

Features

  • The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
  • MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  • In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions).
  • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Expenditure on specified items of non durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.
Release of Funds:
  • Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
  • The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
  • The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
Execution of works:
  • The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned district authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned state government.
  • The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) recently started automatic electronic payment of duty drawback amounts directly into exporters’ bank accounts.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Duty Drawback Scheme
  2. Key Facts about Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)

About Duty Drawback Scheme

  • Administration:
    • Managed by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to support exports.
  • Function:
    • Rebates Customs and Central Excise duties on imported and excisable materials used as inputs for export goods.
  • Legal Framework:
    • Governed under the Customs Act, 1962.
  • WTO Compliance:
    • Ensures exports are zero-rated, avoiding the burden of specified taxes.
  • Purpose:
    • Assists exporters in offsetting costs incurred during the export process, especially within the supply or value chain.
  • Eligible Goods:
    • To export goods imported into India
    • To export goods imported into India after having been taken for use
    • To export goods manufactured/produced out of imported material
    • To export goods manufactured/produced out of indigenous material
    • To export goods manufactured /produced out of imported or indigenous materials.
  • Claim Criteria:
    • Claimant must be the legal owner of the goods at the time of export.
    • Customs duty on imported goods must have been paid.
    • Applicable to most goods where customs duty was paid upon importation and subsequently exported.

Key Facts about Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)

  • Affiliation:
    • A part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Oversees all indirect tax-related matters in India.
    • Formulates policy for the levy and collection of Customs duties, Central Excise duties, Central Goods & Services Tax (CGST), and Integrated Goods & Services Tax (IGST).
    • Manages the prevention of smuggling and the administration of Customs, Central Excise, CGST, IGST, and narcotics.
  • Structure:
    • Acts as the administrative authority for its subordinate organizations, including Custom Houses, Central Excise and Central GST Commissionerates, and the Central Revenues Control Laboratory.
  • Compliance and Collection:
    • Ensures that taxes on foreign and inland travel are administered in accordance with the law.
    • Guarantees that the collection agencies deposit collected taxes to the public exchequer promptly.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Slogans favouring Khalistan (sovereign state for Sikhs) were raised recently in the premises of the Golden Temple complex in Punjab’s Amritsar during the 40th anniversary of ‘Operation Bluestar’.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Operation Bluestar

  • Overview: Operation Bluestar was a military action initiated by the Indian government in June 1984 under the direction of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Its primary objective was to expel militant Sikh separatists who had taken control of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, a site of immense religious significance to Sikhs.
  • Key Figure: The operation targeted a group led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a prominent Sikh fundamentalist and the former head of the Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal. Bhindranwale was a central figure in the rising Khalistan separatist movement.
  • Operation Goals: The mission aimed to reclaim control of the Golden Temple complex while attempting to minimize civilian casualties.
Timeline of the Operation:
  1. June 1-3, 1984: The Indian Army began deploying troops around the Golden Temple. Bhindranwale and his followers put up fierce resistance, resulting in intense gunfights.
  2. June 3-6, 1984: The Army escalated its assault using heavy artillery, tanks, and helicopters, causing significant damage to the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikh authority, and other parts of the Golden Temple.
  3. June 6, 1984: The operation concluded with the Indian Army gaining control over the Golden Temple complex.
Aftermath:
  • Reactions: Despite the army’s success in achieving its immediate goals, the operation sparked outrage among many Sikhs, who viewed it as a direct attack on their faith.
  • Casualties: Official reports state that around 400 people were killed during the operation, including 87 soldiers.
  • Assassination of Indira Gandhi: In retaliation for the operation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards five months later.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Biopharmaceutical Alliance was recently inaugurated in San Diego during the Bio International Convention 2024, the world’s largest biopharmaceutical exhibition.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Biopharmaceutical Alliance:

  • Formation: An alliance of India, South Korea, Japan, the US, and the European Union aimed at developing a resilient supply chain in the biopharmaceutical sector.
  • Purpose: Emphasis on the need for a reliable and sustainable supply chain; agreement to coordinate biopolicies, regulations, and R&D support measures.
  • Production Acknowledgement: Recognition that essential raw materials and ingredients are concentrated in a few countries; commitment to collaboratively create a comprehensive pharmaceutical supply chain map.
  • Response to Crisis: Established in response to drug supply shortages experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Inauguration: Launched during the Bio International Convention 2024 in San Diego.
    • Convention Details: The Bio International Convention is a premier event in the biotechnology industry, attracting over 20,000 global leaders.
    • Representation: Encompasses the entire biotech ecosystem, including public pharmaceutical companies, biotech startups, academia, non-profits, and government agencies.

-Source: The Hindu


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