Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020
Current Affair 1:
‘Study of State Budgets’ report 2020 – Part 2
Yesterday, we have seen RBI’s assessment on the impact & spatial dimensions of COVID-19 in various states as per its ‘Study of State Budgets’ report 2020.
Today, we will look at the other factors which influenced the spread of COVID-19 in India across the states and also about the impact of COVID-19 on different areas – employment, businesses, financial transactions etc.
Now, see chart given below. We observe few things:
- Most of the higher income states also have a higher share of the population suffering from ailments that are linked to COVID-19 co-morbidities. In contrast, the lesser income states have a lesser share of population who suffer from such ailments.
- While the presence of high-risk population contributed to a greater number of COVID-19 cases as seen in Maharashtra, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc., the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is comparably lower in most of these states.
- This can be attributed to the availability of better health infrastructure (public as well as private) in these states.
- Kerala, which has the highest share of old age population along with higher share of population with risk conditions, has managed to keep COVID-19 infection to moderate levels with a very low CFR. This can be attributed to the higher healthcare spending.
Second most important thing we observed was reverse migration.
- The RBI refers to ILO’s (International Labour Organization) report that around 40 crores workers in the informal sector are at the risk of falling deeper into financial scarcity.
- It observes that COVID-19 situation has resulted in large scale migration as a result of job losses post lockdown.
- This has prompted the migrant labourers to go back to their native places and also had an effect on the labour shortages in the places they had left. The push factors which have caused the reverse migration due to COVID-19 include – loss of employment, lower earnings, limited access to social unemployment benefits, uncertainty etc.
The flow of these migrants is majorly out of UP, Bihar, Rajasthan & Odisha and into Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal etc.
Third important thing we observed was increase of work demand under MGNREGA
- As per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s data, there has been a sharp increase in the unemployment during April-May 2020 i.e. during the lock down period.
- The unemployment rate was back to pre-lockdown levels post lockdown i.e. with a gradual improvement during the different unlock phases.
- MGNREGA data shows an increase in the demand for employment during May-June’2020 compared to same period in previous years. This clearly means loss of current employment and therefore the reliance on government to provide employment.
- The loss of jobs can also be understood from the fact that the states which are major employers through MSMEs (Medium, Small & Micro Enterprises) are also the states which are majorly hit by COVID-19.
- The lockdown measures and the other factors in these states could have had an impact on the employment, further triggering the reverse migration.
Fourth thing what we observed was disparity among states regarding digital preparedness
States like UP, Bihar along with few of the North-Eastern states are below the national average in terms access to Banking facilities. Now, this is important as lack of digital preparedness creates a situation where in the beneficiaries in respective states are not able to take advantage of the assistance being extended by the governments.
Another important thing what we observed was disparity among states with respect to the change in usage of digital transactions during the lockdown period i.e. Q1: 2020-21. Few of the states were unable to facilitate the switch to digital transactions due to the lack of infrastructure. Digital Payments have created a scope for businesses to restart and continue their business during the pandemic in view of the social distancing norms.
The data provided by National Payments Corporation of India, shows:
Current Affair 2:
CBI vs States:
Recently, we have seen multiple states have proceeded to withdraw their consent to CBI investigation in connection with the ongoing cases in their jurisdiction. Amongst the several issues of constitutionality, credibility, and political interference faced by the CBI the issue of general consent is at the core of the crisis edging towards a slow death of the institution.
- Karnataka is one state that withdrew the general consent multiple times in the past.
- In November 2018, Andhra Pradesh withdrew general consent owing to the State's ruling party TDPs fears that the BJP was misusing its powers by influencing the central agency to target the ministers of the ruling party.
- Chhattisgarh became the third state during the BJP reign to withdraw the general consent in January 2019 during the CBI and Alok Verma row.
- Following the league, Rajasthan withdrew general consent on January 2020 after BJP called for a CBI investigation in the state against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on leakage of audio tapes with regard to horse trading charges.
- In a recent turn of events, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government withdrew general consent owing to dissatisfaction of the interference of the Central Government in opting CBI investigation. This was in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput case and the TRP scam.
Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 requires the CBI to obtain the consent of the state government before conducting investigation in a particular state thereby limiting its jurisdiction.
What is the concept of “General Consent”?
In case of 'general consent' the CBI does not have to obtain the prior permission of the state government before investigation. When a state withdraws general consent, CBI officers lose the powers to conduct investigation in the concerned state. In order to register a new case, the agency has to seek specific consent from the State government. As a result, it stalls registration of new cases. And over the years, general consent has been used as a tool of political rivalry between the centre and state.
So, finally what happens? Judicial Intervention. And then we blame Judiciary violating the principles of Separation of Powers.
Withdrawal of general consent will not influence the functioning of the CBI beyond measure as the judiciary can always step up to provide a middle ground by directing CBI investigation in a state (as held in State of West Bengal v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights. This endangers the concept of separation of powers requiring judicial intervention over executive action on a regular basis.
Separation of Power:
The essence of federalism lies in the sharing of legal sovereignty between the centre and states, which is facilitated through the demarcation of the legislative and executive powers. This is the idea behind the three lists in the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution – the union list, state list and the concurrent list. Entry 2 of the List II made 'Police' a state subject conferring exclusive domain to the state to make laws regarding the same. However, the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which establishes the CBI continues to function as a central agency carrying out its functions as 'Police'. This was one of the contentions in Navendra Kumar v. Union of India which challenged the constitutionality of CBI.
What is the way forward?
This can be resolved on compartmentalizing the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders involved in the matter.
- Defining the circumstances where the cases will be transferred to the central agency for investigation thereby following a structure of complementary jurisdiction would resolve jurisdictional ambiguity surrounding the CBI.
- Following the European principle of subsidiarity, framing definite grounds on which state governments can restrict general consent or transfer cases to CBI for a higher-level investigation can aid in reducing the friction between the central and state governments.
- Most importantly, giving statutory recognition to CBI (CBI is not a statutory Body) will provide it with constitutional recognition independent of its existence from DSPE Act. A comprehensive system involving the co-operation of legislature, executive and judiciary can revamp and revive the lost glory of CBI.
Current Affair 3:
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)
To achieve the objective of making available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all, ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ was launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India in November 2008 across the county. Now, the ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ has been revisited and renamed as ‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana’ (PMBJP). The Scheme is being implemented through a registered society namely Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) which is working under the administrative control of Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India.
Objectives of the Scheme
- To make available quality medicines consumables and surgical items at affordable prices for all and thereby reduce out of pocket expenditure of consumers/patients.
- To popularize generic medicines among the masses and dispel the prevalent notion that low-priced generic medicines are of inferior quality or are less effective.
- Generate employment by engaging individual entrepreneurs in the opening of PMBJP Kendras.
Quality of Medicines under the Scheme
The medicines listed in the product list of PMBJP are procured only from the World Health Organization – Good Manufacturing Practices (WHO-GMP) certified suppliers for ensuring the quality of the products. Apart from this, each batch of the drug is tested at laboratories accredited by the ‘National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories’ (NABL). Only after passing the quality tests, the medicines are dispatched to PMBJP Kendras.
Savings to the common man
A medicine under PMBJP is priced on the principle of a maximum of 50% of the average price of the top three branded medicines. Therefore, the price of Jan Aushadhi Medicines is cheaper at least by 50% and in some cases, by 80% to 90% of the market price of branded medicines.
The Scheme is being implemented through the Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertaking of India (BPPI). It is an independent society, registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and set up by the pharma PSUs with a major objective to have focused and empowered structure to implement the Janaushadhi Campaign initiated by the Department of Pharmaceuticals.
- Decided to include AYUSH products, specifically 75 Ayurvedic drugs in the product basket.
- On 7th March of every year, Janaushadhi Diwas is being celebrated.
- Decided to re-name the BPPI as the Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices Bureau of India (PMBI) and to set up a Pharma Bureau as a “Single point interface of the Department of Pharmaceuticals with Industry”.
Current Affair 4:
Six new sites have been identified under Project Lion
Six new sites apart from the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary have been identified under Project Lion that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi August 15, 2020, on the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant.
The programme has been launched for the conservation of the Asiatic Lion, whose last remaining wild population is in Gujarat’s Asiatic Lion Landscape (ALL).
The six new sites identified for possible lion relocation in the future include:
Why we need Lion relocation from Gir to other regions?
About Asiatic Lions:
Listed as ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List. Its population is restricted to the state of Gujarat in India (Gir National Park).
Current Affair 5:
Tele-Law in India
Tele-Law has touched a new milestone on 30th October 2020 with 4 Lakh beneficiaries having received legal advice under this through CSCs (Common Service Centres).
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