- Electoral bonds
- IndiaSkills 2023-24
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has referred petitions challenging the 2018 Electoral Bonds Scheme to a five-judge Constitution Bench.
- While the Centre has termed the scheme “a big step towards electoral reform” which “will ensure transparency” and “accountability”, petitioners have contended that it affects transparency in political funding.
GS-II: Polity and Governance (Governance and Government Policies)
Dimensions of the Article:
- What are Electoral Bonds?
- Why have they attracted criticism?
- Government’s response defending the Electoral Bonds scheme
What are Electoral Bonds?
- An electoral bond is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India.
- The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
- The bonds are similar to bank notes that are payable to the bearer on demand and are free of interest.
- An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque.
Why have they attracted criticism?
- The central criticism of the electoral bonds scheme is that it does the exact opposite of what it was meant to do: bring transparency to election funding.
- For example, critics argue that the anonymity of electoral bonds is only for the broader public and opposition parties.
- The fact that such bonds are sold via a government-owned bank (SBI) leaves the door open for the government to know exactly who is funding its opponents.
- This, in turn, allows the possibility for the government of the day to either extort money, especially from the big companies, or victimise them for not funding the ruling party — either way providing an unfair advantage to the party in power.
- Further, one of the arguments for introducing electoral bonds was to allow common people to easily fund political parties of their choice but more than 90% of the bonds have been of the highest denomination (Rs 1 crore).
- Moreover, before the electoral bonds scheme was announced, there was a cap on how much a company could donate to a political party: 7.5 per cent of the average net profits of a company in the preceding three years. However, the government amended the Companies Act to remove this limit, opening the doors to unlimited funding by corporate India, critics argue.
Government’s response defending the Electoral Bonds scheme
- The Government said that the Electoral Bond Scheme allowed anonymity to political donors to protect them from “political victimisation”. The earlier system of cash donations had raised a “concern among the donors that, with their identity revealed, there would be competitive pressure from different political parties receiving donation”.
- The Ministry of Finance’s affidavit in the top court had dismissed the Election Commission’s version that the invisibility afforded to benefactors was a “retrogade step” and would wreck transparency in political funding.
Recently, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has launched IndiaSkills 2023-24 and commended the World Skills Competition (WSC) 2022 winners.
GS II: Government policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- IndiaSkills 2023-24
- WorldSkills Competition
- Objective: IndiaSkills 2023-24 is a skill development competition designed to enhance and nurture individuals’ skills in various domains. It prepares participants for both national and international skill competitions.
- Precursor to WorldSkills: IndiaSkills serves as a precursor to the WorldSkills competition. Outstanding participants at the national level in IndiaSkills move on to compete at the global event, WorldSkills.
- Aligning Skills with Market Needs: Emphasizes the importance of developing employable skills that are in sync with industry requirements.
- Bridging Skill Gaps: Aims to identify and bridge skill gaps by focusing on mapping industry-specific skills, reducing the disparity between academic qualifications and practical competencies.
- Competency Development: Provides equal emphasis on developing competencies, applied knowledge, and practical training to equip individuals to excel in the 21st century.
Organizer: The WorldSkills Competition is organized by WorldSkills International and is held every two years, involving participation from 86 member countries.
Benchmark for Excellence: It serves as a benchmark for evaluating vocational excellence, offering an objective means to assess high performance in various skills.
India’s Performance in WSC 2022:
- India took part in 50 skills and achieved its highest-ever ranking, securing the 11th position.
- India earned 2 Silver Medals, 3 Bronze Medals, and 13 Medallions for Excellence in various skills such as hotel receptionist, mechatronics, mobile robotics, water technology, bakery, web technologies, and more.
- The Indian competitors were selected through the IndiaSkills Competition 2021 and received training under WorldSkills India Experts and trainers.