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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 19 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. No consensus on limiting Speaker’s powers
  2. RBI panel moots law to regulate digital lending
  3. ASEAN objects, China wants Myanmar junta to join summit
  4. India dips by five spots in global bribery risk rankings
  5. ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on DILRMP

No consensus on limiting Speaker’s powers

Context:

The All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC) ended with the delegates failing to reach a consensus on whether the Speaker’s powers under the anti-defection law should be limited.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Legislature)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Speaker of Lok Sabha
  2. Powers and Duties of the Lok Sabha Speaker
  3. Anti-Defection law and concerns over the misuse of Speaker’s powers
  4. Highlights of the All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC)

Speaker of Lok Sabha

  • The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha (Or the Legislative Assemblies of the States), and its representative and his/her decision in any Parliamentary matter is final.
  • He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, apart from being the principal spokesman of the House.
  • Usually, a member belonging to the ruling party is elected Speaker. The process has evolved over the years where the ruling party nominates its candidate after informal consultations with leaders of other parties and groups in the House.
  • This convention ensures that once elected, the Speaker enjoys the respect of all sections of the House.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha derives his powers and duties from three sources:
    1. the Constitution of India,
    2. the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha
    3. the parliamentary precedents, within the House.

Powers and Duties of the Lok Sabha Speaker

  • He maintains order and decorum in the House for conducting its business and regulating its proceedings. This is his primary responsibility and he has final power in this regard.
  • He is the final interpreter of the provisions of
    1. the Constitution of India,
    2. the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha
    3. the parliamentary precedents, within the House.
  • He adjourns the House or suspends the meeting in absence of a quorum. The quorum to constitute a meeting of the House is one-tenth of the total strength of the House.
  • He does not vote in the first instance. But he can exercise a casting vote in the case of a tie. In other words, only when the House is divided equally on any question, the Speaker is entitled to vote. Such vote is called casting vote, and its purpose is to resolve a deadlock.
  • He presides over a joint setting of the two Houses of Parliament. Such a sitting is summoned by the President to settle a deadlock between the two Houses on a bill.
  • He can allow a ‘secret’ sitting of the House at the request of the Leader of the House. When the House sits in secret, no stranger can be present in the chamber, lobby or galleries except with the permission of the Speaker.
  • He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not and his decision on this question is final. When a money bill is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for recommendation and presented to the President for assent, the Speaker endorses on the bill his certificate that it is a money bill.
  • He decides the questions of disqualification of a member of the Lok Sabha, arising on the ground of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision of the Speaker in this regard is subject to judicial review.
  • He acts as the ex-officio chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Group which acts as a link between the Parliament of India and the various parliaments of the world. He also acts as the ex-officio chairman of the conference of presiding officers of legislative bodies in the country.
  • He appoints the chairman of all the parliamentary committees of the Lok Sabha and supervises their functioning. He himself is the chairman of the Business Advisory Committee, the Rules Committee and the General-Purpose Committee.

Anti-Defection law and concerns over the misuse of Speaker’s powers

  • The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
  • Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House.
  • The office of Speaker has been criticised time and again for being an agent of partisan politics especially in the context of power for the disqualification. The Speakers who are expected to maintain political neutrality have been criticized for taking actions favourable to the ruling governments and helping them maintain a majority in the legislature by the misuse of powers under the anti-defection law.
  • The Supreme Court too while looking into the issue of Speaker’s powers had questioned, “why a Speaker – who is a member of a particular political party and an insider in the House, should be the sole and final arbiter in the cases of disqualification of a political defector”. The Supreme Court has also held that the decision of the presiding officer is not final and can be questioned in any court. It is subject to judicial review on the grounds of malafide, perversity, etc.

Proceedings at the All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC)

  • Amid increasing instances of disruptions of the house proceedings, a resolution stating that there should be no disruptions during Question Hour and the President’s and Governor’s address to the House was adopted during the meet.
  • The Lok Sabha Speaker reiterated the need to increase the number of sittings of legislative bodies. He has called for a definite action plan in this direction to ensure that the people’s representatives have sufficient time to discuss major issues of their State and country.
  • The Speaker also called for drastic changes to the functioning of Standing Committees, including changes to their rules. He suggested that the presiding officers should hold annual evaluations of the committee working to make them more accountable.
  • The Lok Sabha Speaker also suggested that the tradition of Zero Hour should be started in all State legislatures to give members the chance to raise urgent matters pertaining to their constituencies.
  • Though the report on reviewing the anti-defection law was placed before the delegates, they failed to reach a consensus on whether the Speaker’s powers under the anti-defection law should be limited.
  • The report was prepared by the committee formed in 2019 to examine the role of the Speaker in cases of disqualification on grounds of defection.

-Source: The Hindu


RBI panel moots law to regulate digital lending

Context:

A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Working Group (WG) on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps, has recommended a separate legislation to oversee such lending as well as a nodal agency to vet the Digital Lending Apps.

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Cyber security related issues), GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Introduction to Digital Lending
  2. Benefits of digital lending
  3. Issues with digital lending
  4. Steps Taken by RBI
  5. Recommendation of the RBI Working Group (WG) on digital lending

Introduction to Digital Lending

  • Digital Lending is basically lending through web platforms or mobile apps, by taking advantage of technology for authentication and credit assessment.
  • India’s digital lending market has seen a significant rise over the years. The digital lending value increased from USD 33 billion in FY15 to USD 150 billion in FY20 and is expected to hit the USD 350-billion mark by FY23.
  • Banks have launched their own independent digital lending platforms to tap in the digital lending market by leveraging existing capabilities in traditional lending.

Benefits of digital lending

  • Digital Lending helps in meeting the huge unmet credit need, particularly in the microenterprise and low-income consumer segment in India.
  • It also helps in reducing informal borrowings as it simplifies the process of borrowing. Indians continue to borrow from family and friends, and moneylenders, sometimes at unreasonably high interest rates, primarily because these loans are more flexible and convenient.
  • It decreases time spent on working loan applications in-branch. Digital lending platforms have also been known to cut overhead costs by 30-50%.

Issues with digital lending

  • There is a growing number of unauthorized digital lending platforms and mobile applications.
  • These unauthorized digital lending platforms charge excessive rates of interest and additional hidden charges.
  • They adopt unacceptable and high-handed recovery methods.
  • They also misuse agreements to access data on mobile phones of borrowers.
  • They attract borrowers with promise of loans in a quick and hassle-free manner.

Steps Taken by RBI

  • Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) and banks need to state the names of online platforms they are working with.
  • RBI has also mandated that digital lending platforms which are used on behalf of Banks and NBFCs should disclose the name of the Bank(s) or NBFC(s) upfront to the customers.
  • The central bank had also asked lending apps to issue a sanction letter to the borrower on the letter head of the bank/ NBFC concerned before the execution of the loan agreement.
  • Legitimate public lending activities can be undertaken by banks, NBFCs registered with the RBI and other entities who are regulated by state governments under statutory provisions.

Recommendation of the RBI Working Group (WG) on digital lending

  • A separate legislation should be enacted to oversee such lending.
  • Setup a nodal agency to vet the Digital Lending Apps.
  • A Self-Regulatory Organisation should be set up for participants in the digital lending ecosystem.
  • Develop certain baseline technology standards and compliance with those standards as a pre-condition for offering digital lending solutions.
  • Disbursement of loans should be made directly into the bank accounts of borrowers and servicing of loans should be done only through the bank accounts of the digital lenders.
  • All data collection must require the prior consent of borrowers and come ‘with verifiable audit trails’ and the data itself ought to be stored locally.

-Source: The Hindu


ASEAN objects, China wants Myanmar junta to join summit

Context:

A Chinese envoy has lobbied Southeast Asian nations to let Myanmar’s military ruler attend a regional summit being hosted by China’s President next week but has met stiff opposition.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Important International Groupings, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)   

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  2. Developments in the Myanmar Coup
  3. About the recent call on ASEAN participation

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Ten Countries in Southeast Asia.
  • In 1967 ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • ASEAN is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN is the 3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets.
  • A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific.
  • Members of ASEAN
    1. Indonesia
    2. Malaysia
    3. Philippines
    4. Singapore
    5. Thailand
    6. Brunei
    7. Vietnam
    8. Laos
    9. Myanmar
    10. Cambodia

ASEAN’s Objectives:

  • To promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.
  • To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations.
  • To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  • To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.

Developments in the Myanmar Coup

  • The February Coup triggered a massive uprising, bringing hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets to demand a return to democracy, while civil servants have boycotted work in a bid to shutter the junta’s administration.
  • The military has deployed lethal force to quell the anti-coup movement, killing more than 720 people.
  • The international community has largely condemned the generals for use of force against unarmed civilians — imposing targeted sanctions against top military brass, their families and army-linked businesses.
  • The military chief’s invitation to the meeting of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations has drawn scorn from activists and former lawmakers who have urged foreign leaders not to formally recognise the junta.

About the recent call on ASEAN participation

  • Myanmar’s standing as a member of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been thrown into the spotlight by a coup, when its military ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking bloody turmoil.
  • In an unprecedented decision, ASEAN leaders blocked Myanmar’s military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from an ASEAN summit.
  • Four diplomatic and political sources in the region said Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore wanted Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to be banned from a China-ASEAN meeting being hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

-Source: The Hindu


India dips by five spots in global bribery risk rankings

Context:

A global list by TRACE, an anti-bribery standard setting organisation, measures business bribery risk in 194 countries, territories, and autonomous and semi-autonomous regions.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Accountability and Transparency in Governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Bribery Risk Matrix
  2. Highlights of the Bribery Risk Matrix 2021
  3. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
  4. Other steps in India that help reduce corruption

About the Bribery Risk Matrix

  • The Bribery Risk Matrix 2021 by TRACE, an anti-bribery standard setting organization aggregates relevant data obtained from leading public interest and international organisations, including the United Nations, World Bank, V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg and World Economic Forum.
  • It was originally published in 2014 to meet a need in the business community for more reliable and nuanced information about the risks of commercial bribery worldwide.
  • Score is calculated on the basis of four factors:
    1. Enforcement and anti-bribery deterrence.
    2. Business interactions with the government.
    3. Government and civil service transparency.
    4. Capacity for civil society oversight which includes the media’s role.

Highlights of the Bribery Risk Matrix 2021

  • North Korea, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Eritrea pose the highest commercial bribery risk, while Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand present the lowest.
  • Over the past five years, the business bribery risk environment in the United States worsened significantly when compared with global trends.
  • From 2020 to 2021, all of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries saw an increase in commercial bribery risk.
  • India has slipped to 82nd position in 2021, five places down from 77th rank in 2020.
  • Pakistan, China, Nepal and Bangladesh are ranked lower with lower score compared to India. However, Bhutan secured 62nd rank.

The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act clearly criminalizes the act of giving bribes and will help check big ticket corruption by creating a vicarious liability in respect of senior management of commercial organizations.
  • Under PCA, 1988 the Central Government has the power to appoint judges to investigate and try those cases where the following offences have been committed
    1. Offences punishable under the act
    2. A conspiracy to commit or an attempt to commit the offences specified under the act.
  • Offences under the PCA, 1988
    1. Taking gratification other than legal remuneration
    2. Taking gratification with the purpose of influencing a public servant, through illegal and corrupt means
    3. Taking gratification with the purpose of wielding personal influence with public servant   
    4. Act of criminal misconduct by the public servant

Other steps in India that help reduce corruption

  • Disbursement of welfare benefits directly to the citizens under various schemes of the Government in a transparent manner through the Direct Benefit Transfer initiative.
  • Implementation of E-tendering in public procurements.
  • Introduction of e-Governance and simplification of procedure and systems.
  • Introduction of Government procurement through the Government e- Marketplace (GeM).

-Source: The Hindu


‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on DILRMP

Context:

The Ministry of Rural Development inaugurated ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP).

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, Central Sector Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP)
  2. Other Initiatives launched:
  3. Benefits following the developments in ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on DILRMP

About the Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP)

Background to the DILRMP

  • The Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme (DILRMP), previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP), was launched in 2008 with the purpose to digitize and modernize land records and develop a centralised land record management system.
  • The official land records of mapped and unmapped will enable the government to give access to basic facilities and rights to the land owners.
  • The DILRMP is the amalgamation of two projects:
    1. Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and
    2. Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR).
  • The implementation of the DILRMP programme across states have experienced significant shortcoming, according to the reports submitted by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

Important Points regarding the DILRMP

  • Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme (DILRMP) is a Central Sector scheme that has been extended to 2023-24, to complete its original targets as well as expand its ambit with a slew of new schemes.
  • It is being implemented by the Department of Land Resources (Ministry of Rural Development).
  • It aims to develop a system of:
    1. updated land records,
    2. automated and automatic mutation,
    3. integration between textual and spatial records,
    4. inter-connectivity between revenue and registration,
    5. and also to replace the present deeds registration and presumptive title system with that of conclusive titling with title guarantee.
  • An appropriate Integrated Land Information Management System (ILIMS) across the country is one of the primary components that the DILRMP attempts to develop. This step will build upon the commonalities that exist in the arena of land records in various States.
  • The ILIMS system contains information on parcel ownership, land use, taxation, location boundaries, land value, encumbrances and many more.

The various components of the Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) are:

  1. Computerization of land records
  2. Survey/re-survey
  3. Computerization of Registration
  4. Modern record rooms/land records management centres at tehsil/taluk/circle/block level
  5. Training & capacity building.

Other Initiatives launched:

National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS)

  • NGDRS is an in-house advanced software application for doing registration. This system is configurable and compatible with state-specific needs in India.

National Land management Award-2021

  • National Land Management Award-2021 was initiated by Department of Land Resources, in order to appreciate and encourage the good work done by the State Governments. Department will also provide a national level ranking of States on the basis of best practices for land acquisition for infrastructure projects.

Unique Land Parcel Identification Numbers (ULPIN)

  • Unique Land Parcel Identification Numbers (ULPIN) is like Aadhar Number of land parcels. In this unique system, a unique ID will be generated on the basis of Geo-coordinates of the parcels. Unique ID is assigned to the plots. This system has been implemented in 13 States and has been pilot-tested in another six. The Department seeks to complete the process of assigning unique IDs in entire country by the end of financial year 2021-22.

Benefits following the developments in ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on DILRMP

  • Following all the launched initiatives real-time land ownership records will be available to the citizen. Free accessibility to the records will reduce interface between the citizen and the Government functionaries, thereby reducing rent seeking and harassment.
  • The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode of service delivery will further reduce citizen interface with Govt. machinery, while adding to the convenience.
  • The single-window service or the web-enabled “anytime-anywhere” access will save the citizen time and effort in obtaining RoRs (Record of Rights), etc.
  • Automatic and automated mutations will significantly reduce the scope of fraudulent property deals.
  • Conclusive titling will also significantly reduce litigation.
  • The initiatives will also permit e-linkages to credit facilities.
  • Reliable and Data-based information on eligibility for Government programs will also be available.

-Source: PIB

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