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bharat ias - The Whistle Blowers Protection

The Whistle Blowers Protection

The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015   Highlights of the Bill The Bill amends the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014.   The Act provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants. The Bill prohibits the reporting of a corruption related disclosure if it falls under any 10 categories of information. These categories include information related to: (i) economic, scientific interests and the security of India; (ii) Cabinet proceedings, (iii) intellectual property; (iv) that received in a fiduciary capacity, etc. The Act permits disclosures that are prohibited under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923. The Bill reverses this to disallow disclosures that are covered by the OSA. Any public interest disclosure received by a Competent Authority will be referred to a government authorised authority if it falls under any of the above 10 prohibited categories. This authority will take a decision on the matter, which will be binding.   Key Issues and Analysis The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that the 10 prohibited categories are modelled on those under the RTI Act, 2005. However, this comparison may not be appropriate. Unlike the RTI Act, disclosures under the Bill are not made public but in confidence to a high level constitutional or statutory authority. With regard to the 10 prohibited categories, the RTI Act allows (i) the public authority to disclose information if he considers it to be in public interest; and (ii) a two stage appeal process if information is not made available. The Bill does not contain such provisions. A Competent Authority is required to refer a prohibited disclosure to a government authority for a final decision. However, the Bill does not specify the minimum qualifications required or the process of appointment of this authority. Whistleblower laws in other countries also prohibit the disclosure of certain types of information. These include information related to national security and intelligence, received in a fiduciary capacity, and any disclosure specifically prohibited by a law. ...

Publishes on : 05-Jan-2017 11:45 AM
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bharat ias - Gold schemes introduced by government of india

Gold schemes introduced by government of india

  The schemes are as follows: Gold MonetisationScheme Sovereign Gold Bonds National gold coin Objective: The idea is that by reducing the whopping quantities of imports, the government can try to narrow India’s current account deficit and trade deficit Gold MonetisationScheme : Features Under the scheme, individuals who deposit their gold (there is no upper limit to how much) in authorised bank, receive interest. The customer will have to give the gold to the assaying agent who will then certify the purity of the gold and it will then be given to the refiners who will melt the gold and issue a certificate in lieu the gold deposited The depositor will then have to take the certificate and deposit with the bank. At the time of redemption, the depositor will get the value of the gold at current market prices along with the interest (around 1-2 percent annually) earned on it. The return from these deposits is tax-free. The scheme is being designed in such a manner that banks will not handle physical gold. The depositor will have to bring in a certificate from the refiner after handling over the gold jewellery. The deposited gold will be melted and made available for jewellers as raw material so as to restrict India's increased dependence of imported gold. The gold jewellery will be melted and converted into gold bars, which will mean that the weight of the jewellery will reduce as they accept only the pure gold It works somewhat like a fixed deposit, with a minimum tenure of one year, but with provision for premature withdrawals should the need arise  Merits will drive orderly recycling and enhance transparency, benefiting millions of households and the macro economy, as it has the potential to translate gold savings into economic investments Critical evaluation of the scheme: 1.Cultural issue: getting Indians to part with their gold, especially when it is in jewellery form, is very difficult. Under the scheme, the depositor has to make clear in the beginning whether he/she wants to redeem it in cash or in gold. Even if it is in gold, it will be in standardised gold bars — the banks will not return the same necklace and earring set you deposited. That is likely to meet with a lot of reluctance. The interest rate has been fixed at 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent on gold deposits to ensure the Scheme’s success. The problem here is that rather than encouraging individuals to part with the gold they already hold, it will encourage more canny entities to import large quantities of gold and deposit them with Indian banks as the returns will be high. If that happens, then the entire purpose of the Gold Monetisation Scheme is negated. According to the Scheme, the banks can lend or sell this gold to jewellers or other banks that are part of the Scheme, but gold is not as fungible as cash. A cash deposit can then be given to anybody — everybody goes to banks for cash. But a gold deposit can only go to those looking specifically for gold. Thus, there is a non-zero chance of banks finding it difficult to match gold borrowers with gold depositors. That means there could be a situation where banks don’t have enough interest accruing to them to cater to the interest they have to pay gold depositors. It is an unlikely scenario, but is still worth thinking about. Another potential deterrent is the widespread ‘under-carating’ in India, i.e., jewellery and other gold retail products are less pure than what they should be. Depositing these gold items, and thereby getting them refined, would mean that depositors are effectively crystallising these losses in the purity of their gold holdings. Sovereign Gold Bonds Proposed Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) is part of government’s budget proposal along with Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS)   Features: ·         SGBs intend to convert the investment demand for physical gold into paper demand. ·         If subscribed fully in the first year, SGBs could result in saving of $2 billion on gold imports at current prices ·         The bond tenor is for eight years, with a minimum lock- in of five years. ·         The bonds will be issued in 2, 5 and 10 gram of gold or other denominations ·         It is restricted for Indian entities and the maximum allowable limit is 500 grams per person per year.   Merit: ·         the sovereign gold bond scheme will allow savers to sell or trade bonds easily on commodity exchanges and key features, such as the ability to use them as collateral for loans and capital gains tax treatment similar to gold   Critical evaluation of the scheme: ·         The price of gold internationally is linked to the dollar. The new gold bonds, if made attractive enough, could become a substitute to rupee bonds. Basically, Indians will start putting their money into a type of dollar bond rather than rupee bonds. This might exert an upward pressure on interest rates. ·         Unless gold prices rise sharply and there is more awareness about gold schemes, it will be a while before Indian households put money into gold schemes         Gold Coin scheme: ·        It is supposed to recycle gold sourced from the monetisation effort. It will clearly succeed only if the deposits prove a hit. If not, it could actually end up adding to the country’s bullion imports   ...

Publishes on : 05-Jan-2017 11:43 AM
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bharat ias - SURROGACY IN INDIA

SURROGACY IN INDIA

  What is surrogacy : A surrogacy arrangement is the carrying of a pregnancy for intended parents SURROGACY STATUS IN INDIA: The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) industry has evolved into a multi-billion rupee industry. India is internationally known as a booming centre of a fertility market. The industry is growing fast because of cutting-edge technology, trained medical staff, availability of rented wombs, and the fact that it offers very competitive pricing. India is among a handful of countries — which includes Georgia, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and a few States in the US — where women can be paid to carry a couple’s genetic child through a process of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryo transfer. The Indian surrogacy market is pegged to be around Rs. 900 crore. Reason for india becoming a attractive destination for surrogacy: Cheap medical facilities, advanced reproductive technological knowhow, poor socio-economic conditions lack of regulatory laws in India ISSUES IN SURROGACY: Indian surrogate mothers are mainly from poor backgrounds or driven by circumstances, including unemployment, domestic distress, etc, They offer their wombs on commercial terms. Once the baby is born and delivered, the surrogate mother is forgotten, the implications on her health and mind are of no concern. Recently, a surrogate mother in Ahmedabad died because of medical complication. At present, in India, there is no separate law to regulate the Egg donation and surrogacy clinics. There are regulated by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines. There is no centralized database of surrogate clinics or surrogate mothers. Problems may arise if something goes wrong, for example baby is born with some defects and the ‘biological parents’ refuse to accept him/her, then Who is legally required to keep the child? Who is the mother? Who is the father? What rights does each possess, including future property disputes? There must a law to clearly provide the answers. The surrogacy debate started with the Baby Manji Yamadacase in which the commissioning parents divorced during the pregnancy and the commissioning mother refused to accept the baby. The court finally granted custody to the baby’s grandmother. citizenship of surrogate babies IS ANOTHER ISSUE it has also led to ethical questions? What happens when a surrogate develops an emotional bond with the child she is carrying and doesn’t want to give it up? The traditional feminist argument opposes commercial surrogacy because it treats the bodies of women as commodities PRO SURROGACY Surrogate mother is asserting her independent agency to make choices to better her life and those of her family If Government  makes a law to ban surrogacy in India, then market will go underground and the surrogate mothers would be ART BILL:2015- ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY BILL The Bill narrows the services to Indian couples or a foreigner married to an Indian citizen. Defining a couple as a married man and woman, the proposed Bill shuts the door on homosexuals and people in live-in relationships. proposes a National Advisory Board, State Advisory Boards and National Registry for the accreditation, regulation and supervision of assisted reproductive technology clinics and the assisted reproductive technology banks to oversee all related matters. Following cases in the past where the commissioning couple refused to accept one baby of twins born to the surrogate and disputes arising from the baby being born with disabilities, the draft says that the commissioning couple will be “legally bound” to “accept the custody of the child or children irrespective of any abnormality that the child or children may have. surrogate will have to be a married woman between 23 and 35 years old, have at least one live child of her own who is three years or older and shall not act as a surrogate for more than one successful live birth in her life and with not less than a two-year interval between two deliveries. A local guardian will be appointed for the surrogate until completion of the process and the mother and baby will be insured at the cost of the commissioning couple for any medical complications that arise. In support of ART BILL Will end the present confusion and help regulate the functioning of IVF centres, besides ensuring quality checks and accountability of ART clinics. End the exploitation of the poor women who are most vulnerable in surrogacy Against ART BILL the proposed Bill will lead to discrimination among Indian and foreigners and directly affect medical tourism in India. It is against ART 14 OF THE CONSTITUTION since it debars transgender and people in live in relationship  from adopting  the child The Indian surrogacy market is pegged to be around Rs. 900 crore which will be effected. ART Solution: The more pragmatic approach would be to make a law hedged with safeguards, checks and balances. The appropriate and desirable method would be to create a mechanism to judge the suitability of proposed surrogate parents rather than to debar all single and foreign persons. Diagrammatic representation of ART BILL-2015        ...

Publishes on : 05-Jan-2017 11:41 AM
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bharat ias - Contract farming

Contract farming

Contract farming It is For both subsistence and commercial crops. Namely The commercial crops like sugarcane, cotton, tea, coffee etc. Even in the case of some fruit crops and fisheries, contract farming arrangements, involving mainly the forward trading of commodities have been observed. However, in the wake of economic liberalization, the concept of contract farming in which national or multinational companies enter into contracts for marketing of the horticultural produce and also provide technologies and capital to contract farmers has gained importance. According to this, bipartite agreements are made between the farmer and the company and the latter contributes directly to the management of the farm through input supply as well as technical guidance and also markets the produce. The main features of this type of contract farming are that selected crops are grown by farmers under a buy back agreement with an agency engaged in trading or processing. In such cases, the centralized processing and marketing agencies supply technology and resources, including planting materials and occasional crop supervision. Under such contracts, the farmer assumes the production related risks, which the price risk is transferred to the company. In some cases, the company also bears the production risk, depending on the stage of crop growth at which the contract is made. If the contract is made at flowering or fruiting stage, the company bears the production risks also. In any case, the company bears the entire costs of transaction and marketing. It is this variant of contract farming which is said to be one of the ways by which small farmers can participate in the production of high value crops like fruits, vegetables, flowers etc. and benefit from market led growth. How can small farmers benefit from Contract Farming ? Small farmers in India are generally capital starved and cannot make major investment in land improvement and modern inputs. Contract farming can fill up this gap by providing the farmers with quality inputs, technical guidance and management skills. Although the company deals only with the contract crop, the farmers' overall management skill may improve, thereby helping him to raise the yields of both contract and non-contract crops. From the standpoint of corporate bodies, farming reduces the supply risk, while the farmers enter into contractual arrangements with companies in order to minimize price risks. The company and the farmers enter into contracts to supply or purchase a specified quantum of the commodity at agreed prices. The agreed contract may be either formal or informal and may cover supply of inputs and marketing of output. By entering into contract, the company reduces the risk of non-availability of raw material and the farmer reduces the risk of market demand and prices of his produce. The inputs and services supplied by firms may include seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, credit, farm machinery, technical advice, extension etc., or may involve only the supply of hybrid seeds and marketing of produce. APMC Act and Contract Farming ? The Model Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act circulated by the Central Government to the States in 2003 for implementing marketing reforms has provisions for the registration of contract farming sponsors and recording of contract farming agreements with the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) or a prescribed authority under the Act, protection of title or rights of the farmers over the land under such contracts, dispute settlement mechanism and a model draft agreement suggesting various terms and conditions. To help States in the formulation of Rules in this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture has also circulated a set of Model APMC Rules to them for adoption. By now, relevant provisions have been made by several State Governments/ UTs in their respective APMC Acts for providing a legal framework to contract farming. Success Stories of Contract farming in India ? Contract farming is becoming an increasingly important aspect of agribusiness, whether products are purchased by multinationals or by smaller companies. There are few success stories on contract farming such as Pepsico India in respect of potato, tomato, groundnut and chili in Punjab, Safflower in Madhya Pradesh, oil palm in Andhra Pradesh, seed production contracts for hybrids seed companies etc. which helped the growers in realization of better returns for their produce. Other success stories of contract farming are Amul and NDDB for milk procurement, sugarcane cooperative in Maharashtra, and prawn-acqua culture in Andhra Pradesh. In our country this approach has considerable potential where small and marginal farmers can no longer be competitive without access to modern technologies and support. The contractual agreement with the farmer provides access to production services and credit as well as knowledge of new technology. Pricing arrangements can significantly reduce the risk and uncertainty of market place ISSUES WITH CONTRACT FARMING IN INDIA? Studies have highlighted a significant problem in some cases wherein Both firms and farmers breached contracts when market conditions provided arbitrage opportunities. Firms rejected more contracted produce on quality grounds when market prices dipped below contracted prices Farmers engaged in side-selling in open markets when market prices rose higher than contract prices. Companies prefer medium and large farmers because of transaction costs. They want farmers to dedicate a minimum acreage, say, five acres [one acre is 0.4 hectare] of land, to the contract crop. In India, 85 per cent of the farmers are marginal or small, operating less than two acres. In fact, 66 per cent operate less than one acre each. How many will have such land to give for contract crops? Contract farming can work if there is a collectivisation of small farmers. For instance, 10 to 15 farmers get together, form a group, and sign a group contract. It brings down the transaction costs, the farmers are better protected, and it is essentially a win-win situation for both the farmer and the corporate. It has been successful in Thailand. In fact, the Thai government planned it out and made it a part of the country’s national development plans. How can contract farming be successful? It will work if the farmers have better bargaining power. They have to be legally protected. Furthermore, in contract farming, it is extremely important to understand the contracting operations. The terms and conditions of the contract are crucial. It has been found that quite often the farmer had not even seen the contract and did not know what the terms and conditions were. The contracts need to be more transparent. When and how did this form of farming evolve in India, where agriculture practices have largely been traditional? Contract farming has been there since the 1960s in seed production, in both private and public sectors. Also, since the Land Ceiling Act does not permit non-farmers to own land, there is no other way to get specified produce than through contract farming. So as market demand changed in the 1980s and 1990s, contract farming became more common, starting with Pepsi in Punjab in tomatoes and potatoes in the mid-1990s as a first case of perishable-produce contract farming, other than a few other cases in some other crops elsewhere in India. Further, the amendments to the APMC [Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee] Act at the State levels in the last decade, which made contract farming legal, led to its widespread adoption across crops and regions and companies. What are the risks and benefits the farmer faces in contract farming? One is simple procurement; The buyer provides some inputs and takes the crop according to the terms and conditions of the contract The buyer provides inputs and planting schedules and is more involved in the agricultural process. The last one carries the most liability for the company. The pros are the high yields and fixed prices. The cons, however, are there as both production risk and market risk. Production costs in contract farming are higher as the standard expected is higher. No company offers protection for crop failure. No crop insurance is given and thus production risk is not covered most of the time. As said earlier, many companies take advantage of the clauses in the contract in case the harvest does not meet their requirement; they tend to buy it at a lower price or reject it altogether. Thus, market risk is also not covered fully, especially when the contract prices are based on market prices, as we know that the market prices vary substantially during the season or even during the day. If your contract document is not fair, how can your practice be fair? Can CORPORATE farming be a reality in India? Legally, corporate farming cannot exist in India. A non-farming entity is not allowed to own land. The Land Ceiling Act does not permit it. It has not been viable most of the time. There have been some companies that have attempted to lease land and cultivate crops but have not met with as great a reward as expected. Some States have leased out so-called wastelands to some companies for corporate farming but owing to local opposition, this has stopped now.     farming1 copy...

Publishes on : 05-Jan-2017 11:30 AM
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bharat ias - Bill to give more muscle to panchayat bodies in State

Bill to give more muscle to panchayat bodies in State

  The State government introduced a comprehensive amendment bill in the Assembly, seeking to strengthen the panchayat system by delegating greater administrative and financial powers to them. The bill, introduced by Rural development and Panchyat Raj Minister has proposed to rename the existing Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 as the Karnataka Grama Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act A majority of the recommendations of the K R Ramesh Kumar committee set up to bring in reforms in the panchayat system in the State have been incorporated in the bill, Changes proposed Giving minister of state rank status to zilla panchayat presidents. All three-tier panchayat bodies - gram panchayats, taluk panchayats and zilla panchayats - will have powers to prepare their own development plan under bottom-to-top approach. Planning committee A district-level planning committee is proposed to be set up to consolidate plan documents prepared by taluk and gram panchayats, monitor the progress and ensure quality in implementation. Panchayats will get powers to prepare their own bye-laws. But the government will have the power to either modify any bye-law or annul it. The bill has proposed to delegate a large number of powers as far as development activities are concerned. Panchayats will have powers to prepare their annual budget, provide relief in natural calamities and remove encroachments of public properties. Most of the powers are now concentrated in zilla panchayats. Panchayat bodies will also get a lot of financial powers if the bill is implemented. The bill not only provides for devolution of funds based on the recommendations of State Finance Commission, but stipulates that not less than 20 per cent of it should be untied grants. panchayat bodies will be empowered to mobilise their own resources. They will have powers to collect property tax, levy fee on entertainment, vehicle parking, markets and registration of cattle Several amendments have been proposed to empower the State Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections to panchayat bodies. Financial powers Gram panchayats can impose property tax on residential and commercial buildings, industries, factories, IT park, hardware park, textile park, bio-tech park, power plant, hydro, thermal, solar plant, wind mill and airport. Can impose tax on advertisement hoardings, mobile towers, wind mill and solar park. Collect parking fee from buses, lorry, car, light motor vehicles, motorcycles, every two-wheeled vehicle with springs constructed to be drawn by one or more horses, bulls and bullocks; carts, bicycles or tricycles; road-cutting charges for laying optical fiber cables.\ Other changes Panchayat members have to declare assets and liabilities Violation of code of conduct during elections shall be cognizable and non-bailable offence No confidence motion against president and vice-president can be moved only on specific charges of abuse of power. The term of president and vice president fixed at five years Panchayats to kill stray dogs Gram panchayat can make bye-laws for regulation of public places Constitution of the commissionerate of panchayat raj Constitution of the Karnataka panchayat administration service Provision for community contract to self-help groups ...

Publishes on : 05-Jan-2017 11:24 AM
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