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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Government decides to repeal the three farm laws
  2. HC urges Centre to speed up Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
  3. SC verdict on real estate Act benefits homebuyers
  4. India largest recipient of remittances in 2021: World Bank

Government decides to repeal the three farm laws

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the repeal of three contentious farm laws, assuring farmer groups protesting against them for the past year that the legislative process for the repeal would be completed in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Storage, transport & marketing of agro-produce and related issues & constraints; supply chain management), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of Policies), GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key provisions of three bills
  2. Why did the farmers protest?
  3. How does repealing a law work?
  4. Process to repeal a law
  5. Way forward

Key provisions of three bills

I: The Bill on Agri Market

  • The trade of farmers produce:  it seeks to allow farmers to sell their produce outside APMC ‘mandis’ to whom they want. Anyone can buy their produce even at their farm gates. Such trade can be conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, i.e., any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages.
  • Electronic trading: The Ordinance permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. 
  • Market fee abolished: The Ordinance prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.

Significance:

  • It will not shut down the APMC but to expand the farmers choice.
  • If a farmer believes a better deal is possible with some other private buyer then he can take that option instead of selling in the APMC mandi.
  • The farmers will get better price through competition and cost cutting on transportation.
  • The farmers will get out of the clutches of the monopoly of APMC mandis and evade the rent-seeking behaviour of the traditional intermediaries (called arhatiyas).

II: The Legislation on Contract Farming

  • Farming agreement:  it allows the farmers to entre into a contract with agri business firms or large retailers on pre agreed price of their produce. The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season, or one production cycle of livestock.  The maximum period is five years, unless the production cycle is more than five years.
  • Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement.  For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement. 
  • Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes.

Significance:

  • It will help the small and marginal farmers as the legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.

III: The Essential commodities (Amendment) bill 2020

  • Regulations of food items:  it seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion and potatoes from the lists of essential commodities. It means the legislation will do away with the imposition of stock-holding limits on such items except under extraordinary circumstances such as war and natural calamities.
  • Stock limit: The Ordinance requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.

Significance:

  • The economic agents to stock food articles freely without the fear of being prosecuted for hoarding.  This will create a competitive environment in Agri Market.
  • It will also attract the private sector and foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.

Why did the farmers protest?

  • The legislations are likely to impact influential commission agents in mandis, who do not want their grip over farmers to be weaken.
  • The state governments of Punjab and Haryana will be affected most because of loss of mandi tax, a good source of revenue.
  • The middle men will not only lose their commission but traditional business.
  • The protesters fear that it will end the MSP regime in due course.
  • It will make APMC (mandis) as irrelevant.
  • The farmers may risk of loosing land rights under contract farming.
  • Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana where MSPs are more prominently employed, are suspicious of what the markets will offer and how the “big companies” will treat them.

How does repealing a law work?

  • Repealing a law one of the ways to nullify a law.
  • Legislations can also come with a “sunset” clause – which is a measure within a law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless the law is extended by legislative action.
  • For laws that do not have a sunset clause, Parliament has to pass another legislation to repeal the law.

Process to repeal a law

Article 245: Extent of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States:

  • Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India, and the Legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or any part of the State.
  • It is from this article Parliament draws the power to repeal a law.
  • A law can be repealed either in its entirety, in part, or even just to the extent that it is in contravention of other laws.

Either by use of an ordinance, or through legislation

  • In case an ordinance is used, it would need to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament. If the ordinance lapses because it is not approved by Parliament, the repealed law can be revived.
  • The government can also bring legislation to repeal the farm laws. It will have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect.
  • Usually, Bills titled Repealing and Amendment are introduced for this purpose.

Way forward

  • Consultative decision making would always be more sustainable and easier to enforce.
  • Further moves on agriculture sector reforms must also draw lessons from the making of laws, and now the repeal, of the three farm laws.
  • Therefore, in the future, the government should rebuild trust among the stakeholders to plant the seeds of reforms.

-Source: The Hindu


HC urges Centre to speed up Uniform Civil Code (UCC)

Context:

Stating that the Uniform Civil Code “is a necessity and mandatorily required today” the Allahabad High Court has called upon the Central government to forthwith initiate the process for its implementation.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Government Policies and Initiatives)

 

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?
  2. Positive aspects of Uniform Civil Code include
  3. Challenges in Implementing Uniform Civil Code Include
  4. Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?
  5. Is there one common personal law for any religious community governing all its members?
  6. How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?

What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

  • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India proposes to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen.
  • The constitution has a provision for Uniform Civil Code in Article 44 as a Directive Principle of State Policy which states that “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

Article 44 is one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.

Fundamental Rights are enforceable in a court of law. While Article 44 uses the words “state shall endeavour”, other Articles in the ‘Directive Principles’ chapter use words such as “in particular strive”; “shall in particular direct its policy”; “shall be obligation of the state” etc.

Article 43 mentions “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation”, while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44. All this implies that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.

Positive aspects of Uniform Civil Code include

  • UCC will divest religion from social relations and personal laws and will ensure equality in terms of justice to both men and women regardless of the faith they practice.
  • There will be uniform laws for all Indians with regard to marriage, inheritance, divorce etc.
  • It will help in improving the condition of women in India as Indian society is mostly patriarchal
  • Informal bodies like caste panchayats give judgements based on traditional laws. UCC will ensure that legal laws are followed rather than traditional laws.
  • It can help in reducing instances of vote bank politics. If all religions are covered under same laws, politicians will have less to offer to communities in exchange of their vote.

Challenges in Implementing Uniform Civil Code Include

  • Implementation of UCC might interfere with the principle of secularism, particularly with the provisions of Articles 25 and 26, which guarantee freedom relating to religious practices.
  • Conservatism by religious groups, which resist such changes as it interferes with their religious practices.
  • It is difficult for the government to come up with a uniform law that is accepted by all religious communities. All religious groups- whether majority or minority have to support the change in personal laws.
  • Drafting of UCC is another obstacle. There is no consensus regarding whether it should be a blend of personal laws or should be a new law adhering to the constitutional mandate.

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters — Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act, etc.
  • States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and, therefore, in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws. Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.
  • If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a Uniform Civil Code, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List. But “personal laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.
  • In 2020, the Law Commission concluded that a Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor desirable.

Is there one common personal law for any religious community governing all its members?

  • All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians. Not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and the French remain operative in some parts.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir until August 5, 2019, local Hindu law statutes differed from central enactments. The Shariat Act of 1937 was extended to J&K a few years ago but has now been repealed. Muslims of Kashmir were thus governed by a customary law, which in many ways was at variance with Muslim Personal Law in the rest of the country and was, in fact, closer to Hindu law.
  • Even on registration of marriage among Muslims, laws differ from place to place. It was compulsory in J&K (1981 Act), and is optional in West Bengal, Bihar (both under 1876 Act), Assam (1935 Act) and Odisha (1949 Act).
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws.
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram. Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.

How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?

  • Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion; Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”; Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture. An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to fundamental rights, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights.
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting Uniform Civil Code in the fundamental rights chapter.
  • The matter was settled by a vote. By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of Fundamental Rights and therefore the Uniform Civil Code was made less important than freedom of religion.

-Source: The Hindu


SC verdict on real estate Act benefits homebuyers

Context:

The Supreme Court affirmed that the provisions of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) are applicable to projects that were ongoing and for whom completion certificates were not obtained at the time of the enactment of the law, in effect interpreting that the law is retroactive.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure, GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Provisions of Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016
  2. Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)
  3. Why was the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act Needed?
  4. About the SC’s views on Retroactive Implementation issue

Provisions of Real Estate Regulation and Development Act, 2016

  • The Act provides for State governments to establish more than one regulatory authority with the following mandate:
    • Register and maintain a database of real estate projects; publish it on its website for public viewing,
    • Protection of interest of promoters, buyers and real estate agents
    • Development of sustainable and affordable housing,
    • Render advice to the government and ensure compliance with its Regulations and the Act.
  • The Act provides for State governments to establish more than one regulatory authority with the following mandate:
  • Register and maintain a database of real estate projects; publish it on its website for public viewing,
  • Protection of interest of promoters, buyers and real estate agents
  • Development of sustainable and affordable housing,
  • Render advice to the government and ensure compliance with its Regulations and the Act.

Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)

  • Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) is a Statutory Body established in each state by the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, which came into effect fully from 1st May, 2017.
  • The Act seeks to protect home-buyers as well as help boost investments in the real estate sector by bringing efficiency and transparency in the sale/purchase of real estate.
  • The Act requires any project that has 8 dwelling units or is at least 500 sq m in area to be registered with the RERA. (Only the Projects coming up after the act was passed are covered).
  • RERA is established in each state for regulation of the real estate sector and also acts as an adjudicating body for speedy dispute resolution.

The Mandatory Functions of RERA are:

  1. Registering and maintaining a database of real estate projects
  2. Publishing the database on its website for public viewing
  3. Protection of interest of promoters, buyers and real estate agents
  4. Development of sustainable and affordable housing
  5. Render advice to the government and ensure compliance with its Regulations and the Act.

Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in Real Estate Appellate Tribunal.

Why was the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act Needed?

  • Until RERA Real estate sector had been largely unregulated and there was no standardization of business practices and transactions.
  • Issues like delay in delivery of flats, pricing issues, quality of construction problems were prevalent.
  • Cases where developers cheated property buyers were rampant and there was No grievance redressal mechanism.
  • There was also the issue of generation of black money in real estate sector.

About the SC’s views on Retroactive Implementation issue

  • The SC affirmed that the provisions of the RERA 2016 are applicable to projects that were ongoing and for whom completion certificates were not obtained at the time of the enactment of the law.
    • Under the Act, registration of real estate projects was mandatory.
    • It mandated that for projects that were ongoing on the date of commencement of the Act, specifically projects for which the completion certificate had not been issued, the promoters shall be under obligation to make an application to the authority for registration of the project.
  • SC also held that the amount invested by the allottees, along with interest as quantified by the regulatory authority or the adjudicating officer, can be recovered as arrears of land revenue from the builders.
  • It is mandatory for real estate developers to deposit at least 30% of the penalty ordered by the regulator, or the full amount as the case may be, before they challenge any RERA order. This is expected to ensure that only genuine appeals are filed and homebuyers’ interests are protected.

-Source: Indian Express


India largest recipient of remittances in 2021: World Bank

Context:

India received $87 billion in remittances in 2021, and the United States was the biggest source, accounting for over 20% of these funds, the World Bank said in its latest report.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Human Resource, Indian Diaspora)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are remittances?
  2. World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief
  3. Highlights of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief
  4. Reasons for Remittance Growth
  5. Way Forward

What are remittances?

  • A remittance is a payment of money that is transferred to another party.
  • Broadly speaking, any payment of an invoice or a bill can be called a remittance. However, the term is most often used nowadays to describe a sum of money sent by someone working abroad to his or her family back home.
  • Remittances represent one of the largest sources of income for people in low-income and developing nations, often exceeding direct investment and international development assistance.

World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief

  • The World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief is prepared by the Migration and Remittances Unit, Development Economics (DEC)- the premier research and data arm of the World Bank.
  • The brief aims to provide an update on key developments in the area of migration and remittance flows and related policies over the past six months.
  • It also provides medium-term projections of remittance flows to developing countries.
  • The brief is produced twice a year.

Highlights of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief

  • According to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, India has become the world’s largest recipient of Remittances, receiving USD 87 billion (a gain of 4.6 % from previous year) in 2021.
  • India is followed by China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Egypt.
  • The United States being the biggest source, accounting for over 20% of all Remittances.
  • Remittances registered strong growth in most regions. Latin America and Caribbean (21.6 %), Middle East and North Africa (9.7 %), South Asia (8 %), Sub-Saharan Africa (6.2 %), Europe and Central Asia (5.3 %).
  • Remittances to India are projected to grow 3% in 2022 to USD 89.6 billion, because of a drop in overall migrant stock, as a large proportion of returnees from the Arab countries await return.
  • In East Asia and the Pacific, remittances fell by 4 % – though excluding China, remittances registered a gain of 1.4 % in the region.
  • Factors: In Latin America and the Caribbean, growth was exceptionally strong due to economic recovery in the United States and additional factors, including migrants’ responses to natural disasters in their countries of origin and remittances sent from home countries to migrants in transit.

Reasons for Remittance Growth

  • Migrants’ determination to support their families in times of need, aided by economic recovery in Europe and the United States which in turn was supported by the Fiscal Stimulus and employment support programs.
  • In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Russia, the recovery of outward remittances was also facilitated by stronger oil prices and the resulting pickup in economic activity.
  • The severity of Covid-19 caseloads and deaths during the second quarter (well above the global average) played a prominent role in drawing substantial flows (including for the purchase of oxygen tanks) to the country.
  • Flows from migrants have greatly complemented government cash transfer programs to support families suffering economic hardships during the Covid-19 crisis.

Way Forward

  • To keep remittances flowing, especially through digital channels, providing access to bank accounts for migrants and remittance service providers remains a key requirement.
  • Policy responses also must continue to be inclusive of migrants especially in the areas of access to vaccines and protection from underpayment.

-Source: The Hindu

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