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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 27 April 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Delhi HC: Fill up vacant post of NCM chairperson
  2. India ranked 49th in CGGI
  3. Changes in the second wave of Covid-19

Delhi HC: Fill up vacant post of NCM chairperson

Context:

  • The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to fill up the vacant posts of chairperson and five other members of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) by July 31.
  • The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is now down to just one member. There is only one vice-chairperson, who is currently functioning in the Commission.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Statutory Bodies, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-II: Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
  2. Formation of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
  3. Functions of the NCM
  4. Composition of the NCM
  5. Constitutional Provisions

About National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  • The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Hence, the NCM is a Statutory Body.
  • Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India.
  • The term “minority” is not defined in the Indian Constitution. However, the Constitution recognises religious and linguistic minorities – The NCM Act defines a minority as “a community notified as such by the Central government.”
  • The NCM adheres to the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992 which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”

Formation of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  • In 1978, setting up of the Minorities Commission (MC) was envisaged in the Ministry of Home Affairs Resolution.
  • In 1984, the MC was detached from the Ministry of Home Affairs and placed under the newly created Ministry of Welfare, which excluded linguistic minorities from the Commission’s jurisdiction in 1988.
  • In 1992, with the enactment of the NCM Act, 1992, the MC became a statutory body and was renamed as the NCM.
  • In 1993, the first Statutory National Commission was set up and five religious communities viz the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) were notified as minority communities.
  • In 2014, Jains were also notified as a minority community.

Functions of the NCM

  1. Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
  2. Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  3. Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  4. Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
  5. Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
  6. Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
  7. Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
  8. Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
  9. Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.

Composition of the NCM

  • The NCM is mandated to have seven members, including a chairperson and vice-chairperson, with a member each from the Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi and Jain communities.
  • Total of 7 persons to be nominated by the Central Government should be from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity. The Ministry for Minority Affairs recommends the names to the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Each Member holds office for a period of three years from the date of assumption of office.

Constitutional Provisions

  1. Article 15 and 16: Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Citizens’ right to ‘equality of opportunity’ in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, and prohibition in this regard of any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  2. Article 25 (1), 26 and 28: People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. Right of every religious denomination or any section to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its own religious affairs, and own and acquire property and administer it. People’s freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
  3. Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same. It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities. However, the Supreme Court held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as use of the word ‘section of citizens’ in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.
  4. Article 30: All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).
  5. Article 350-B: The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

-Source: The Hindu


India ranked 49th in CGGI

Context:

India has been ranked 49th in the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI), which classifies 104 countries in terms of government capabilities and outcomes.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions for Transparency and Good governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Governance?
  2. Understanding Good Governance
  3. Strategies for good governance
  4. What is the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI)
  5. Highlights of the CGGI

What is Governance?

In 1993, the World Bank defined governance as the method through which power is exercised in the management of a country’s political, economic and social resources for development.

In simple words, Governance is the process and institutions through which decisions are made and authority in a country is exercised.

  • Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
  • Thus, governance focuses on the formal and informal actors and institutions involved in decision-making and implementing those decisions.

Government is one of the key actors in governance.  Other actors may include political actors and institutions, interest groups, civil society, media, non-governmental and transnational organizations. The other actors involved in governance vary depending on the level of government.

Typically, the stakeholders of governance at national level can be categorised into three broad categories –

  1. State – includes the different organs of then government (Legislature, Judiciary and Executive)  and their instrumentalities, independent accountability mechanisms etc. It also consists of different segments of actors (elected representatives, political executive, bureaucracy/civil servants at different levels etc.)
  2. Market – includes the private sector – organised as well as unorganised – that includes business firms ranging from large corporate houses to small scale industries/ establishments.
  3. Civil Society – is the most diverse and typically includes all groups not included in (a) or (b). It includes Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Voluntary Organizations (VOs), media organisations/ associations, trade unions, religious groups, pressure groups etc.

Understanding Good Governance

Governance’ by itself is a neutral term while `Good Governance’ implies positive attributes and values associated with the quality of governance. Good governance is a dynamic concept and there is much subjectivity involved in defining the aspects of good governance.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognizes eight core characteristics of good governance:

1Participation:  Participation of all section of society is cornerstone of good governance. Participatory governance provides opportunities for citizens to take part in decision making, implementation and monitoring of government activities. 
2Consensus oriented Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus on o what is in the best interest of the whole community and o how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. 
3Rule of Law Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities and vulnerable sections of the society. 
4Transparent Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available in easily understandable forms and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media. For example, in India the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been a powerful instrument in the hands of people to ensure transparency in the decision-making process of executive. 
5Accountable Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies. The components of accountability are answerability, sanction, redress and system improvement. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law. 
6Responsive Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe. Redressal of citizen grievance, citizen orientation, citizen friendliness and timely delivery of services are key component of responsive governance. 
7Effective and Efficient Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results into the optimum use of resources at their disposal. Thus it also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment. 
8Equitable and Inclusive A society’s wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members feel they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being. 

Strategies for good governance

  1. Reorienting priorities of the state through appropriate investment in human needs
  2. Provision of social safety nets for the poor and marginalized
  3. Strengthening state institutions
  4. Introducing appropriate reforms in the functioning of Parliament and increasing its effectiveness
  5. Enhancing Civil Services capacity through appropriate reform measures
  6. Forging new alliances with civil society
  7. Evolving a new framework for government-business cooperation

What is the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI)

  • The Chandler Good Government (CGGI) Index measures 104 governments’ effectiveness and capabilities in almost 90 per cent of the world’s population.
  • The index uses 34 indicators, which are organised into seven pillars: leadership and foresight; robust laws and policies; strong institutions; financial stewardship; attractive marketplace; global influence and reputation; and helping people rise.
  • It taps over 50 publicly available global data sources such as the World Trade Organisation, United Nations and World Bank.

Highlights of the CGGI

  • India has been ranked 49th amongst the 104 countries indexed.
  • Finland came tops with 0.848 points ahead of Switzerland and Singapore.
  • Venezuela was at the bottom of the log at 104, followed by Zimbabwe at 103 followed by Nigeria at 102.
  • The report noted that countries that have done well under this pillar are all market economies with sound property rights and stable business regulations.
  • It added that the ability to effectively tackle corruption is the indicator with the strongest correlation with overall good government rankings.

-Source: The Hindu


Changes in the second wave of Covid-19

Context:

The rise in case numbers has been exponential in the second wave – it has shaken the country and is more devastating than the first wave.

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points regarding the Second Wave of Covid-19
  2. Reasons for the Spike of the Second wave of Covid-19

Key Points regarding the Second Wave of Covid-19

Like the 1918-20 Spanish flu, the second all-India surge of the Covid-19 pandemic has been more devastating than the first.

  • A combination of a large asymptomatic population and the presence of more infectious variants of the virus during the second wave, which is much steeper than the first wave that peaked in September 2020, continues to transmit the virus even to those who are staying indoors.
  • The infection is spreading at a faster pace in every age group. At present, there is very little data that shows how long immunity lasts in the younger population.

Reasons for the Spike of the Second wave of Covid-19

  1. When cases started declining, people just broke out of the protocol of wearing a face mask, washing hands regularly and maintaining social-physical distance. – Gatherings began becoming large particularly January 2021 onwards.
  2. Rules were relaxed. Penalties were not enforced. The pattern was seen across the country allowing the novel coronavirus to create a second and possibly stronger wave.
  3. The queues outside polling booths and gatherings at the election rallies of all the parties defied Covid-19 protocol. This sent a confusing message to the public and also the grassroots-level functionaries of the government. It weakened the vigil against the pandemic.
  4. India has recorded over 1.2 crore cases of Covid-19 yet the pandemic is still mostly concentrated around cities, especially the bigger cities. These cities have greater mobility giving more opportunities for the virus to spread from one person to another when the guard is lowered.
  5. In the current wave, the marking of the containment zone has been less strict. In cities, the government has asked civil authorities to adopt micro-containment, with perhaps just a floor or a house defined as a containment zone.
  6. Besides the human factors, the evolution of coronavirus is among the major reasons for the second wave. Scientists have detected numerous mutations in the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Some of these mutations have produced what they call is Variants of Concern (VOCs).
  7. Increased testing is another reason why India is detecting more cases in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  8. Asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) person, who carries the virus, would have spread the infection. In India, 80-85% of the population are asymptomatic.
  9. India also failed to seize the opportunity to augment its healthcare infrastructure and vaccinate aggressively.

-Source: Indian Express

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