Modi launched the platform via video conference during the inaugural session of the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT)-2018. Nasscom also inked an agreement with the ministry of electronics and IT for strengthening re-skilling initiatives
The plaform aim to skill and up-skill about two million technology professionals and skill another two million potential employees and students over the next few years
The platform offers skilling and up-skilling in Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, robotic process automation, Internet of Things, big data analytics, 3D printing, cloud computing and social and mobile.
India test-fired its medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of 2,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
The 20-mt-long Agni-II ballistic missile has a launch weight of 17 tonne and can carry a payload of 1,000 kg over a distance of 2,000 km.
Agni-II is a two-stage missile, equipped with advanced high accuracy navigation system and guided by a unique command and control system was propelled by solid rocket propellant system.
The missile is part of the Agni series of missiles which includes the Agni-I with a 700 km range, Agni-III with a 3,000 km range, Agni-IV and Agni-V both having long range capabilities. The first prototype of the Agni-II missile was carried out on 11 April 1999 and last launch was a user’s trial on 4 May 2017.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. India and France initiated the International Solar Alliance
The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the ISA and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
The initiative was launched by PM Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015. The ISA aims to mobilize more than $1000 billion in investments by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy, pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of moving to a fossil-free future and keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C by the end of the century. India has committed itself to having 175,000 MW of renewed energy in the grid by 2022.
The Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 121 countries have joined. As part of the agreement, India will contribute $27 million (₹175.5 crore approximately) to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
Fly ash is ejected mostly by thermal power plants as byproducts of coal burning operations. Fly ash pollutes air and water and may cause heavy metal pollution in water bodies. It affects vegetation as a result of its direct deposition on leaf surfaces or indirectly through its deposition on soil.
Fly ash in the air slowly settles on leaves and crops in fields in areas near to thermal power plants and lowers the plant yield. It is now being used for making bricks and as a land fill. Its particles are oxide rich and consist of silica, alumina, oxides of iron, calcium, and magnesium and toxic heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cobalt, and copper.
Major oxides are present are Aluminium silicate (in large amounts), silicon dioxide (SiO2) and calcium oxide (CaO)
Use of Fly Ash is environmentally friendly as the waste materials from industries are effectively being used to create quality building materials. Fly Ash has very small particles which makes the concrete highly dense and reduces the permeability of concrete. It can add greater strength to the building.
The concrete mixture generates a very low heat of hydration which prevents thermal cracking. Fly Ash concrete is resistant to acid and sulphate attacks. The shrinkage of fly ash concrete is very less. The use of fly ash gives concrete good work ability, durability and finish
The quality of fly ash can affect the quality and strength of Cement concrete. Poor quality fly ash can increase the permeability of the concrete and cause damage to the building
The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has launched Gangotri Swachh Iconic Place project and Swajal, a community owned drinking water programme in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
These both projects will create cleanliness, provide basic amenities to the people of Ganga bank villages and will also generate employment. Moreover, Bagori Ganga Gram’ project was also announced for Bagori village, which was declared open defecation free (ODF).
The project was inaugurated at Bagori. It is community owned drinking water programme for sustained drinking water supply. It has budgetary support of more than Rs. 32 lakh.
It aims to make Gangotri as Swachh Iconic Place (SIP). For this, CSR funds of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) will be used for making Gangotri SIP. The SIP project is coordinated by Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation (MDWS), in collaboration with Union Ministries of Housing & Urban Affairs, Tourism, Culture, state governments, municipal and local agencies.
The project is a solid and liquid waste management scheme with total expense of Rs 11.88 lakh. Bagori is one of 24 pilot Ganga Villages chosen to be transformed into Ganga Grams this year.
Accountability on the floor of the House (Question Hour) :Question Hour allows Members of Parliament (MP s ) to pose questions to ministers relating to government policies , and hold the government accountable for its actions . Certain questions must be answered orally on the floor of the House , while others receive written replies from the relevant ministry. For example, MPs may ask about the performance of a scheme of the government, the action taken by the government on a matter of public policy
Parliamentary Debates and motions :Debates and motions play a central role in parliament’s oversight function by allowing MPs to initiate discussions and seek clarifications on government policies . There are two major type s of discussions which are used by MPs to raise issues on the floor of the Parliament: (i) debates, which do not require a vote at the end of the discussion, and (ii) moti ons, which require a vote at the end of the discussion. During Short Duration Discussions (Rule 193 in the Lok Sabha/ Rule 176 in the Rajya Sabha) , an MP can raise a matter of public importance, which is followed by a discussion with other MPs a nd a statement by the relevant m inister. Similarly, Calling Attention is used to elici t a response from the relevant m inister on an urgent issue, however, without discussion with other MPs. Where clarity is required on an answer provided in Parliament, a Half - an - Hour Discussion may be initiated. Finally, in case an MP wants to make a statement on the floor of the House on an urgent matter, he may do so through Rule 377 (which corre sponds to Special Mention in the Ra jya Sabha). In this case, the m inister is not required to respond.
Zero Hour :The hour following Question Hour is popularly called Zero Hour and is used by MPs to raise urgent matters. MPs must notify the Speaker /Chairperson, who can decide whether the issue may be raised. Typically, MPs use this time to make statements on urgent issues using Rule 377/Special Mention .
The committee system of Parliament :Given the large number of issues which Parliame nt must address, p arliamentary c ommittees, comprising MPs , examine B ills, budgets of m inistries, and policies of the government . Committees allow for more informed debate in Parliament, and they also provide an avenue for citizens to engage with Parliament. Committees can either be permanent or appointed tempo rarily. Outside of the Parliament, MPs are also part of Consultative Committees, and Parliamentary Fora, which are not governed by the rules of procedure of Parliament and provide more informal spaces to engage with the government and experts.
Parliament’s power to convene itself : Currently, Parliament does not have the power to conven e itself. The Constitution mandates that Parliament be convened by the President at least on ce every six months. Since the President acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers, effectively, Parliament is convened at the behest of the government. The government may therefore convene Parliament for as long as is necessary to address the government’s agenda. In this context, granting Parliament the power to convene at the request of a required number of MPs may allow Parliament to addre ss issues more promptly, ev en du ring inter - session period. However , this require s a c onstitutional amendment.
Role of the opposition :Within the institution of Parliament, the opposition can play a central role in monitoring the government and ho lding it accountable. The 13th All India Whips Conference recommended that opposition parties be given more space to place their agenda on the floor of the House. Opposition parties could play a greater role in deciding the daily agenda of Parliament, or alternatively, time c ould be set aside each week for opposition parties to set the agenda. At present, in India, the Business Advis ory Committee sets the agenda of Parliament and t he ruling party has a greater s ay in deciding the agenda. A Shadow Cabinet system, allows opposition MPs to form an alternative Cabinet, and individual opposition MPs follow or shadow the work of each member of the Cabinet. This practice could strengthen the ability of the opposition to hold the government accountable, through allowing for greater specialistion in tracking the government.
Strengthening Parliamentary Committee system :
Requirement of attendance of m inisters before c ommittees : In current practice, government officials depose before committee s , and m inisters ar e exempt from appearing before c ommittees. This implies that the political executive, which is accountable to Parliament for the decision taken by it, does not clarify and defend its position before the committee. In other countries, such as the UK, ministers are required to depose before committees
Meetings of committees should be opened to the public and press. An option to video conference these proceedings may be also used.
Public participation should be invited more systematically and be institutionalized in the procedures of each departmental standing committee to strengthen the oversight function of committees
Parliaments may establish a general oversight committee to oversee the work of other permanent and ad - hoc committees. 1 These committees can co - ordinate the oversight functions of sector specific committees. They may recommend issues that committees take up to investigate, and other committees may bring matters up before this committee.
Oversight of regulators :G iven the changing role of government, and the establishment of regulators to whom executive functions are often devolv ed, Parliament must develop formal oversight mechanisms for regulators , such as the Reserve Bank of India, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), etc. For example, by law , certain functions that were earlier carried out by the Department of Telecommunications are now under the purview of TRAI . While the relevant m inister answers questions in Parliament, and responds during discussions related to the working of the Department, there is no me chanism for Parliament to directly hold TRAI accountable for its actions. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission made the following recommendations on strengthening Parliament’s oversig ht of regulators : (i) regulators must appear before sector specific p arliamentary committees and explain their policies , and (ii ) an expert group should establish guidelines , once every five years, upon which regulators may be evaluated . The F inancial S ector L egislative R eforms C ommission has also recommended that regulations framed by regulators be placed before a sector specific p arliamentary committee and not a general c ommittee for delegated legislation .
Oversight of intelligence agencies :At pr esent, intelligence agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing are exempt from parliamentary oversight. This implies that there is limited operational or financial oversight of these agencies. As pointed out by the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha in 2010, in other countries, parliamentary oversight over intelligence agencies may: (i) encompass policy and operations (in the US and Germany), (ii) be limited to financial oversight (in the UK), or (iii) focus on human rights violations an d the rule of law (in Norway). In this context, he recommended establishing a permanent parliamentary committee on intelligence agencies to perform oversight over these agencies.
R.K. Talwar was a highly respected banker who was the Chairman of State Bank of India from 1959 to 1974. He was removed from his office for his principled stand against an unjust and unethical interference by the Government in the functioning of the Bank. The government had to amend the laws in the parliament in order to get rid of Talwar, which became well known in banking circles as the “Talwar Amendment.”
There was no doubt whatsoever that the Amendment was introduced with a single purpose of removing Talwar from the office of the Chairman, even though the bill was clothed in general terms and included several other provisions which were not quite significant. What did Talwar do to merit this extreme measure?
The problem in one sense was relatively simple and possibly an everyday occurrence in a banker’s life. One of the borrowers of the Bank, a cement company, became sick with mounting losses and approached the Bank for restructuring assistance. The economy was undoubtedly passing through a difficult phase at that time. The 1971 war with Pakistan on the issue of Bangladesh had left many scars and several marginal companies were facing considerable difficulties. The State Bank of India, being the largest Bank was involved with most such enterprises and was always ready and willing to give a helping hand to rescue these companies.
What made the problem difficult with respect to this specific company was the strong assessment by the Bank that much of the difficulties of the company were brought about due to gross mismanagement, and given this assessment, the Bank insisted that as a condition precedent to implementing the restructuring package, the Chairman of the company who was also the CEO should step down from the management and a professional management should take over the Company’s management.
This was a standard prescription by the Bank in similar circumstances, and it was invariably resisted by the promoters till they reached a stage when it was difficult for them to carry on without the Bank’s help. In this specific case also the promoter strongly resisted any attempt to dislodge him from the management position but the Bank held its ground.
But then this promoter turned out to be different. He was a friend of Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and decided to take his case directly to him. To Sanjay Gandhi who was grappling with more serious affairs of the country, this turned out to be a minor irritant. He called the Finance Minister and asked him to direct the Bank to waive this requirement. As far as he was concerned he had given his decision and that should have seen the end of the matter. But the problem was the Government was dealing with a different person, Talwar who was not used to taking orders from the Government.
The Finance minister amended the State bank of India Act and added a clause which gave it powers to order summary dismissal of the SBI Chairman. This had to be done as Talwar refused to oblige the government and resign from the position.
Children are more vulnerable to crime. Almost 54% of children are victims of some kind of abuse and in majority of cases accused are known persons taking advantage of innocence of children or putting them under fear.
Children are victims of
Child sexual abuse
Child trafficking for begging, sex trafficking, circus, camel jockeying, child labour or forced labour, domestic servitude
Kidnapping of children for ransom
On line harassment like cyber bullying
Majors to be taken pronged strategy
Advocacy or awareness by Parents & teachers on good touch, bad touch and generating confidence in the minds of children to report any abuse to patents
Strict law enforcement Almost all laws are child friendly and stringent punishment is there for offences under acts like
Protection of Children from Sexual offences act 2012- Gender neutral act as applicable to victim girls and boys, penetrative and non penetrative sexual assault defined clearly, 6 months imprisonment for disclosure of Identity of victims, in camera trial in court , special courts gor trial, statement of victims to be recorded by Women Police officer at place of residence of Child or convenience, compensation to child victim from assets of accused provision is there.
Child Trafficking - punishment under 370 A IPC minimum 7 yrs to remainder of natural life of accused, under Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986
Child Pornography, cyber bullying Information Technology Act section 66 , 67
Child marriages- Child marriages Prohibition Act 2006 up to 2 years imprisonment & 1lakh Rs fine
hild labour- punishment minimum 7 years to life imprisonment under 370 A IPC of Huamn trafficking is there for forced or child labour, Child labour prevention act 1986, Juvenile Justice amendment act 2015 section 79, 374 IPC unlawful compulsory labour
Rescued children are children in need of care and protection to be sent to Children home. Below 18 years child out of school to be in school (RTE ) Supreme court order under Article 21 Right to life & RTE act 2010
Prevention, Protection , Prosecution this 3 pronged strategy to be adopted. Prevention of children from becoming victims, protection to rescued children & prosecution of offenders.
Child Sex offenders Registry to be maintained like Kerala state
On line harassment of children to be prevented by teaching Internet etiquette to children like no chatting with unknown people, not to meet unknown net friends without permission of parents, not to post private photos & videos online , not to reveal personal information like password on line, not to accept request of unknown friends on social media. Emergency contact numbers to be informed to children. Like Dial 100 Police, 1098 Child help line
LED bulbs and LED tube lights to be supplied under this scheme.
EESL Rated 5 star fans are also supplied .
Energy savings and benefits under cost reduction to consumers.
Sikkim has been declared the first Organic State of India
Starlink is by elon musk for launching a constellation of 12000 satellites to connect the parts of the earth that are not served by internet.
Instead of transmitting electricity to the farmers, the government wants farmers to use solar energy to power their irrigation pumps. According to the January 2018 report of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, there are about 142,000 solar pumps in India. The government is planning to install one million solar pumps by 2021
To achieve this, the Union Budget 2018 has allocated close to Rs. 48,000 crore to set up the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM). This programme will help set up more than 28 GW of combined solar capacity through these solar pumps. In the Union Budget 2018, the Finance Minister asked governments to put in place adequate procedures to purchase the excess solar power from farmers. The government is also planning to purchase the surplus power through electricity distribution companies. This proposal will almost certainly increase agricultural incomes and reduce electricity losses when transmitting power to remote rural areas. Analysts claim that losses from distribution could fall to about 12% from the current level of at least 23%
The feasibility of purchasing surplus solar power seems problematic. There is a need to address the issue of grid stability that this injection of surplus power is bound to create. The disadvantages currently outweigh the advantages because of the issue of grid stability. All power grids require balancing. This balancing entails meeting the demand with adequate supply 24×7 to ensure there is no blackout. The reason for striking this balance is that electrical energy cannot readily be stored, meaning that power generation ought to work round the clock. Why is the ‘balancing’ needed: wind and solar power sources constantly generate shortfalls and excesses.
Solution: to maintain a consistent round-the-clock power delivery the grid operators will need to have a back-up source of power in the form of coal or oil. During the day as well, they will have to be ready to quickly adjust output to compensate for the rise and fall of solar power generation due to changing weather and rain. More stability can be achieved by integrating the grids into all-India grids. Expected advances in storage technology would also significantly improve grid stability
India will host navies from at least 16 countries for an eight-day mega naval exercise from March 6 with an aim to expand regional cooperation and combat unlawful activities in critical sea lanes. Name of the exercise: ‘Milan’
It is a biennial exercise. It is being organised at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Countries participating in the exercise include Australia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia
‘Milan’ was first held in 1995 with the participation of just five navies. The aim of the initiative was to have an effective forum to discuss common concerns in the Indian Ocean Region and forge deeper cooperation among friendly naviesThe exercise is being hosted by the Indian Navy under the aegis of the Andaman and Nicobar Command
The life and politics of Nagaland are different from the rest of India. The village councils are supreme decision making bodies. These are headed by tribes and the villagers follow the diktats of these bodies.
No village is under the domination of another and the Naga way of life says that all villages are equal. However, during assembly elections the village councils decide to support or boycott a candidate.
They endorse a candidate and all villagers must vote for him. If any other candidate from the village defies this order then he may be banished from the village. The political parties abuse the domination of the village councils by buying their loyalty with money and promises.
The village councils also have to think about the development of their regions and hence allow their loyalty to be purchased in return for development of its region. Political parties have failed to reach out to the people to explain to them the benefits and meaning of one person one vote system. Till electoral reforms and education takes place, the traditional systems will continue to dominate the lives of people in Nagaland.
Transportation of expectant mothers to the nearest delivery points still remains a hard task in view of (i) difficult geographical terrains, (ii) lack of transportation facilities, (iii) natural calamities, (iv) security threats, curfews, hartals, among others. In this regard, the Committee recommended that the central government must discuss with states to build 'pre-delivery hubs', preferably close to the delivery points to take care of such transportation issues. Further, it observed that such hubs would help reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of poor and marginalised families and also reduce maternal deaths.
Functioning of Rastriya Swasthya Bima Yojana : Rastriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is an insurance scheme for the below poverty line families as well as certain categories of unorganised workers. It aims to reduce their out-of-pocket expenditures on health and increase their access to healthcare facilities. The Committee noted the following issues with RSBY’s implementation: (i) exploitation of poor beneficiaries at the hands of private hospitals empanelled under RSBY (in the form of avoidable surgeries, wrong diagnosis, etc.), (ii) low enrolment percentage of households under RSBY indicating lack of awareness among the targeted population, and (iii) varied feedback with regard to quality and accessibility of hospitals. The Committee recommended a mechanism for oversight across all the districts in the country where RSBY is implemented. Further, the Committee also recommended that data pertaining to RSBY be made freely available on public platforms.
Demand for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) : ASHA workers provide support in tracking the health of pregnant women, help them avail benefits (such as Janani Suraksha Yojana entitlements), and aid the grassroot implementation of health programmes. The Committee noted that ASHA workers across the country do not have fixed wages and that they have demanded a fixed wage component within their remuneration in many states. In this context, the Committee recommended a proposal for assured monthly wages not less than Rs 3,000. Further, the Committee also highlighted other issues regarding the training of ASHAs such as dearth of competent trainers, infrastructure, and equipment.
Need for food fortification : The Committee noted prevalence of anaemia among women in rural areas to be worse than in urban areas. This is despite the implementation of National Food Security Act, 2013, Mid-Day Meal scheme, and the Public Distribution System. In this context, the Committee observed that the government priority has been on the issue of increasing the availability of food alone, rather than ensuring nutritional aspects of it, through approaches like food fortification. The Committee recommended that fortification of cereals with iron must be taken up with priority since (i) it does not alter the quality and nature of foods, (ii) can be introduced quickly, and (iii) can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time.
Unsafe abortions : The Committee stated that unsafe abortion is a leading reason for the high percentage of abortion related deaths in the country (eight percent of all maternal deaths per year). It observed that the reasons for it could be the following: (i) awareness about abortion being low, and (ii) women must seek legal recourse if the pregnancy has gone over 20 weeks to terminate the pregnancy; however, a slow judicial process ensures that the pregnancy crosses the legal limit and the woman is unable to get the abortion done, thus, pushing her to the quacks in both rural and urban areas. The Committee recommended amending the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 to raise the permissible period of abortions to 24 weeks with this bar not applying to unborn babies having serious abnormalities. Further, it recommended removing the provision where only married women can get an abortion thereby allowing anyone to get an abortion.
Mental health of women : The Committee noted that due to societal stigma and ignorance, mental illnesses suffered by women fail to get recognised. In this regard, the Committee recommended creating awareness and providing possible remedies to help de-stigmatise mental health issues
National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and creation of one post of Chairperson, three posts of full-time Members and one post of Secretary for NFRA. The decision aims at establishment of NFRA as an independent regulator for the auditing profession which is one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013. The inclusion of the provision in the Act was on the specific recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance (in its 21st report).
The decision is expected to result in improved foreign/domestic investments, enhancement of economic growth, supporting the globalisation of business by meeting international practices, and assist in further development of audit profession.
The jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants and their firms under section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies and large unlisted public companies, the thresholds for which shall be prescribed in the Rules. The Central Government can also refer such other entities for investigation where public interest would be involved.
The inherent regulatory role of ICAI as provided for in the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 shall continue in respect of its members in general and specifically with respect to audits pertaining to private limited companies, and public unlisted companies below the threshold limit to be notified in the rules.
The Quality Review Board (QRB) will also continue quality audit in respect of private limited companies, public unlisted companies below prescribed threshold and also with respect to audit of those companies that may be delegated to QRB by NFRA. Further, ICAI shall continue to play its advisory role with respect to accounting and auditing standards and policies by making its recommendations to NFRA.
Background : The need for establishing NFRA has arisen on account of the need felt across various jurisdictions in the world, in the wake of accounting scams, to establish independent regulators, independent from those it regulates, for enforcement of auditing standards and ensuring the quality of audits to strengthen the independence of audit firms, quality of audits and, therefore, enhance investor and public confidence in financial disclosures of companies
Idea Given by the Padamashri Subhas Palekar on "Zero Budget Natural Farming" must adpoted by the Indian Farmer.
It will lead to saving of Desi Cow from Slaugher House and More Prduction in the Crops, it will also help in making the non-fertile to Fertile land.
Initally Subhas Palekar Adopted the Chemical method to grow the productivity, 3 year later he found in the productivity of land is going down. He invested his time and energy in Organic Method !
Over six years of research, Palekar found that:
Only dung from local, Indian cows is effective on the soil. Dung from Jersey and Holstein cows is not as effective. If one is falling short of dung from local cows, one may use dung from bullocks or buffaloes.
Dung and urine of the black coloured Kapila cow is believed to be the most effective.
To get the most of the cow dung and urine, ensure that the dung is as fresh as possible and that the urine is as old as possible.
An acre of land requires 10 kilograms of local cow dung per month. Since the average cow gives 11 kilograms of dung a day, dung from one cow can help fertilize 30 acres of land.
Urine, jaggery and dicot flour can be used as additives.
The lesser milk the cow gives, the more beneficial its dung is towards reviving the soil.
More than 40 lakh farmers across the country have benefitted greatly from Palekar’s teachings and his method of natural farming. Palekar spends 25 days a month sharing his knowledge of farming through seminar, lectures, workshops and field visits.
In 2016, in recognition of his work and the impact he was creating, the Government of India conferred Palekar with the prestigious Padamashri Award. Palekar also made history for being the first active farmer to receive the award.
Palekar’s Zero Budget Natural Farming has undoubtedly made an indelible mark on farming in India.
It will enable the legal system to deliver on its promise of empowering the masses. As Kautilya said in the Arthashastra, and during that time, when judges delivered a judgment, they did so in an open court. From then until now, the visual setting of the justice delivery mechanism hasn’t changed much. While the Indian legal system is built on the concept of open courts, which means that the proceedings are open to all members of the public, the reality is different. On any given day, only a handful of people can be physically present and are allowed in the courtroom.
Given the technological strides made in every possible field of work, the natural question is, why shouldn’t the legal system benefit from technology?
First, note that live-streaming is neither called for in all types of matters nor in all courts. The emphasis is to make those matters that are of great public importance available for all to see. Therefore, matters which have a privacy dimension, such as family matters or criminal matters, or matters with legal procedural intricacies, such as most trial court matters, are out of its scope. But matters which have a bearing on important public interest issues such as entry of women to the Sabarimala temple, or the scope of the right to the choice of one’s food, or the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, or the legality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, all of which are pending before the Supreme Court, should be available for all to watch.
Further, note that to promote transparency, live-streaming has been allowed for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings since 2004. Similarly, the recording of videos in the highest courts in Canada and Australia, as well as in some international courts, most notably in the International Court of Justice, shows that this exercise is neither novel nor so difficult.
The right to information, access to justice, the need to build the right perception, along with the need to educate common people on how the judiciary functions are all strong reasons in favour of allowing live-streaming of court proceedings. Add to this the need to avoid multiple versions or wrong projections of facts, or the menace of fake news or faulty reporting, and you have a solid case for allowing live-streaming/recording of videos. Objections are weak
Think of the technical glitches (which can be resolved with some effort and proper guidelines), fear of the court being reduced to a spectacle (why fear if the courts are supreme and the judges do their best in every case?), too much information (what does that even mean in a democracy?) and you see why the argument against live-streaming/recording is weak. Lamenting the lack of infrastructure, an overburdened judiciary, or the difficulty in deciding how to implement this should not be rolled out as run-of-the-mill responses.
The role of the judiciary cannot be equated with the roles of the legislature and the executive. While broadcasting parliamentary proceedings may be good for ensuring accountability, this is not the case with the courts. The reason is simple. In democratic governance, the public is sovereign, and the public judges its representatives. But the public cannot judge the judges. Judges are accountable neither to the general public nor to the sovereign. They are accountable only to the rule of law and to the Constitution, as established by law.
However well-intentioned it may be, the unwanted public gaze caused by live-streaming will tend to make judges subject to popular public opinion and accountable to the general public. This has its inherent danger in a democratic set-up. While the impetus to act for the executive and the legislature lies in popularity, the courts have to carry out justice even if it involves one person against everyone else. Constitutional courts are meant to protect against the excesses that the legislature and the executive may commit against a minority. The individuality of judges is more likely to become a subject of public debate through live-streaming, creating problems of its own. The focus should be on the judgment delivered.
There is a greater likelihood of lawyers aspiring to publicise themselves through their addresses to the Bench. Advocates debate on the premise of law and logic to assist the court in arriving at a just and rational conclusion. The more dispassionately one gets involved in this debate, the more the likelihood of fairer administration of justice. With live-streaming, there is a strong possibility that lawyers will tend to address not only the judges but also the public watching them. This will only hamper their objectivity.
Another important aspect is that debates inside a courtroom, especially before Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court, require reasonable expertise to be understood. The debate is not like the television debates that we are familiar with. Also, during hearings, judges make oral observations and ask questions which may not be a formal expression of what they are thinking. Many times, contradictory observations are made to elicit the version of rival parties. Live-streaming will do away with the medium of responsible reporting by those lawyers and journalists who are experts in the field. An irresponsible debate on an oral observation of a judge may make the judge conscious, and this will affect the normalcy of the proceedings.
Instead of live-streaming, audio and video recordings of court proceedings would reform the administration of justice. These can be used at the time of review or appeal of a case, especially when the submissions of a lawyer are not properly recorded in the judgment, or a judge is acting in a whimsical manner. The Supreme Court had already passed an order in Pradyuman Bisht v. Union of India (2017) directing all High Courts to ensure CCTVs and audio and video recordings in subordinate courts. This order should be extended to the Supreme Court and High Courts, and a copy of the recordings should be made available to the parties concerned and to the general public under the Right to Information Act.
Those who advocate this remedy are well-intentioned, but live-streaming may not address the root problem for which other proposals may be better suited. They also do not adequately account for the uniqueness of the Indian Supreme Court, its structure and processes, and the underlying problems that impede its effectiveness.
Judges have historically been reticent about live-streaming court hearings. While speaking to a university audience in April 2017, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts was asked to respond to a proposal for the live telecast of proceedings before the Supreme Court. He replied that while oral hearings are open to the public, they are designed for a specific purpose: to help judges reach good decisions. He argued that there is educational value of broadcasting court proceedings. But then, can judges be uninhibited in asking questions — even politically incorrect ones — which would enable them to improve the reasoning advanced in their judgments? He asserted that cameras would invite grandstanding on the part of lawyers and judges, as well as a tendency to play to the gallery.
While the logic employed by those arguing for live-streaming of Supreme Court proceedings has force, the Indian Supreme Court may well be unique in terms of the cases it takes on, and the logistics involved in setting up cameras within it. The Canadian Supreme Court may well have successfully experimented with recording its hearings, but it had an average case load of 500-600 from 2006 to 2016. In each of these 10 years, it decided between 60 and 80 of these cases. The Constitutional Court of South Africa, where this measure has been proposed, decided an average of 20 cases in its first decade (1995-2005) and delivered 51 judgments in 2017. Both courts sit as one body. On the other hand, the Indian Supreme Court on any given day is actually 12-13 panels of judges hearing cases simultaneously, and had more than 55,000 pending cases as of November 2017. It issues a far higher number of judgments than any comparable court. Given the pressure, the judgments issued tend to be hurriedly reasoned and poorly articulated.
Lawyers and judges before the Supreme Court tend to rely extensively on an ‘oral’ culture where much less emphasis is placed on written briefs and documents or on thorough preparation in advance of hearings. Lawyers in India arguably get more time to argue their cases than in any other jurisdiction. Given these realities, it is not clear that televising the proceedings would entail any great benefit to the public, even as it runs the risk of adversely affecting court proceedings. More fundamental reforms
Before we think of cameras in courts, more fundamental reforms need to be effected. These include greater reliance on written briefs and the significance accorded to them, page limits for briefs (and, perhaps, also for judgments), time limits for oral arguments (and for judges to issue judgments), and a greater emphasis on preparation in advance. The judiciary must also employ a press officer to liaise with the media, and issue simultaneously one or two page summaries of its judgments to facilitate greater public understanding.
The government has been making efforts to integrate farmers with agro-industries to ensure that they get better prices for their produce. This is why contract farming has come to be seen as a solution. Contract farming refers to an agreement between farmers and marketing firms for the production and supply of agricultural products under forward agreements, frequently at predetermined prices. The contract between farmers and buyers insulates farmers from price risk, helps them develop new skills, and opens new markets. Nevertheless, contract farming suffers from market failures.
Monopsony: Typically, contract firms enter into an agreement with farmers to grow differentiated crops. This turns the firm into a sole buyer and farmers into price-takers. Contracting firms can exploit this situation to their advantage by offering lower prices to farmers.
Information asymmetry: Contracting firms do not have complete information on productivity and land quality. This can lead to a situation where farmers produce below-quality crops. On the other hand, farmers sometimes do not understand contract specifications like the quantity and quality to be produced, or the effect of price change. These market failures lead to suboptimal outcomes. Buyers may penalize farmers. Similarly, farmers may indulge in side-selling or leak the technology provided by the contracting firm. Therefore, the question is: Is there a role for the government to intervene in the contract farming market, and what should it do to address market failures?
In India, contract farming is regulated under the Indian Contract Act, 1872. The Act has many general provisions that are relevant to contract farming, including the formation of contracts, obligations of parties, and consequences in case of breach of contract. In addition, the model APMC (agricultural produce market committee) Act, 2003 provides specific provisions for contract farming, like compulsory registration of contract farming sponsors and dispute settlement.
The department of agriculture and farmers welfare has now come out with a draft model contract farming Act, 2018. It intends to establish a win-win framework for both farmers and sponsors. Instead, some of the clauses do the opposite.
The model contract farming Act proposes a state-level agency, the Contract Farming (Development and Facilitation) Authority, which would put contract farming outside the ambit of the APMC. The model Act requires the sponsor and the farmers to register the contracts with a registering and agreement recording committee. Registration imposes additional procedures and costs on the parties, and small and medium farmers cannot easily afford these costs. The Act also proposes price protection for farmers by determining a pre-agreed price. This will be counterproductive. How would the sponsors incentivise the farmers to perform if the state provides farmers a perverse incentive to not perform? The entire premise of the model contract Act seems to be aimed at creating a legal infrastructure to ensure that both parties honour the contract. This approach is flawed. The government should correct for problems that lead to contract failures and not put both parties into an “inconvenient marriage”.
Foster more competition : The government needs to create market-based incentives for both farmers and buyers. It should improve farmers’ connectivity to spot markets and mandis across the country. E-NAM (National Agricultural Market) is a great initiative in that direction. This would encourage contracting sponsors to raise their bids and compete to enrol farmers to secure input supplies. The competition amongst sponsors would also incentivise them to offer better terms and services to farmers.
Provide public goods : The government should maintain an information repository of farmers and contracting firms. The repository can provide details about farmers or farmer producer organizations with regard to land availability, default rate, and performance standards. Similarly, details of sponsors can include services provided, requirements of crops, and the default rate. This will help farmers and sponsors to evaluate each other prior to engaging in contracts. Also, the government can facilitate the establishment and enforcement of standards for crops. This will set clearer expectations regarding the contracted crop.
Encourage softer means for enforcement : Incorporating risk-sharing mechanisms in contracts, incentive schemes, repeated contracting and renegotiation options, and simplified and transparent contract terms would help in contract enforcement. The government can educate farmers and make them more aware about contract farming and model contracts.
In conclusion, it may be said that the model Act makes a good move in the direction of promoting contract farming. However, the bureaucratic hurdles instituted in the form of a new regulator to oversee contract enforcement will be counterproductive. The government should focus on providing an enabling environment by fostering competition and bridging information asymmetries between farmers and buyers. Unless this ecosystem is provided, there is very little reason to believe that the new model Act can promote contract farming
An ETS is a market-based mechanism where a cap is set on the amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases that can be emitted by covered entities. The emitters can either reduce their emissions to adhere to the cap or buy additional allowances from other entities to compensate for their deficiency.
One allowance gives the right to the holder to emit one tonne of carbon. Imagine that ‘X’ emits 120 tonnes of carbon per annum. The ETS sets a cap of 100 tonnes of carbon per annum (equivalent to 100 allowances) on it. ‘X’ would have the option to either reduce its emissions to 100 tonnes of carbon or buy 20 allowances to cover the difference.
A separate and independent regulatory authority must be set up to implement the ETS. This would ensure that the ETS is insulated from the political influence of climate sceptics. The authority must strive to educate emitters about ETS and inform them of cheap methods to reduce their carbon footprint. It must act as a ‘technical consultant’ when the emitters submit their ‘compliance plans’ (discussed below). It must also plan for contingencies and be ready to use the tools at hand to prevent market failure.
The ETS must obligate the emitters to design a ‘compliance plan’, setting out its own medium and long-term goals, with an explanation of how it would achieve them. The big emitters must be required to adhere to their compliance plans, and sanctions must be imposed in case of any non-compliance. It is imperative to maintain the price of the allowances within a certain desirable range. If the price of the allowances is too high, it may result in increased non-compliance and force the emitters to reduce output, thereby hurting the economy.
There are three suggested measures for controlling price volatility: safety valve trigger, price-based market stability reserve (MSR), and banking.
A ‘safety valve trigger’ is a mechanism whereby, if prices touch a predetermined level, actions are initiated to drive them down. For instance, under the U.S. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, if the price of the allowances touches $10 after 14 months from the beginning of the programme, the compliance period is extended by one year. This mechanism allows the emitters to average out their emissions. For instance, say emitter ‘X’ (with a cap of 100 tonnes of carbon per annum) emitted 110 tonnes of carbon in the first year (due to sudden increase in the demand in the economy) and 90 tonnes of carbon in the second year. If the safety valve is triggered in the first year, X’s average annual emissions would be 100 tonnes, and X would not be required to buy any additional allowances.
Similarly, in the MSR, a certain number of allowances are released in the market if the price of the allowance hits a predetermined level. Once the additional allowances are released in the carbon market, the supply would increase, leading to a reduction in the price of the allowances.