POLITY & GOVERNANCE
- Expressing concern over the functioning of parliamentary institutions in the country and erosion of public trust in them, the Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu unveiled a 15 point reform charter as the basis for a new political normal to enable effective functioning of the Parliament and State Legislatures.
- He called for a new political consciousness urging all the stakeholders to review their mindset with regard to their roles and responsibilities.
Key Highlights of the Reform Charter
- Political parties need to ensure attendance of at least 50% of their legislators all through the proceedings of the Houses by adopting a roster system.
- Review of the issuance of ‘Whip’ to enable reasonable degree of dissent without impacting the stability of the government.
- Review of the Anti Defection Law
- Measures needed for effective functioning of Department Related Standing Committees with longer tenure instead of the present one year, promoting specialisation by nominating the Members for a longer period etc.
- Detailed framework based pre and post Legislative Impact Assessment
- Need for new consciousness in the form of moving away from the remnants of identity based voting to that of development oriented exercise of voting preferences.
- Need for the governments to be responsive to the concerns of the Opposition and the Opposition to be responsible and constructive during the debates.
- Building consensus on the proposal of simultaneous polls
- Taking forward the legislation in the Parliament for reservation of women in legislatures whose representation is at present only about 13%.
- Making rules that automatically take effect against erring members in case of interruptions and disruptions
- Regular publication of reports by the Secretariats of Legislatures on the attendance of Members and their participation in debates
- To evolve a new political consciousness for addressing the problem of rising number of legislators with criminal backgrounds.
- Setting up special courts/tribunals for time bound adjudication on criminal complaints against legislators and election related matters
Challenges of Indian Parliamentary System
- Declining number of sittings of legislatures
- Persistent disruptions
- Declining quality of debates
- Growing number of legislatures with criminal record
- High degree of Parliament was forced to adjourn many times, due to lack of quorum of the required presence of 10% of the strength of the Houses.
- Inadequate representation of women
- Rising money and muscle power in elections
- Lack of inner democracy in functioning of the political parties
- The present ‘First Past The Post (FPTP)’ system of electing people’s representatives is faulty to the extent that MPs and MLAs are being elected with substantially less than 50% of voter support.
- Parliament of India has played a significant role in the socio-economic transformation of the country by enacting several far reaching legislations.
- With the passage of time, several new and complex challenges are staring at the young and aspiring India.
- Addressing these challenges underscore the need to address certain issues that are denting the functioning of Indian parliamentary institutions.
- There is a need to evolve a new normal for parliamentary institutions so that India can make up for the lost time and opportunities.
- Prime Minister Modi has announced the formation of the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council that will be led by the leaderships of both countries.
- The announcement was made in Saudi capital Riyadh where Prime Minister Modi paid a visit during October 28-29, 2019.
India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council
Who will chair the council?
It will be chaired by the Indian Prime Minister and the Saudi Crown Prince.
The Council would enable regular monitoring of the progress of the strategic partnership and projects taken up by the two countries.
Two Parallel Mechanisms
- The body will have two parallel mechanisms – one under the foreign ministers of the two sides to oversee political and diplomatic relations, and another under the commerce ministers to guide trade and energy ties.
- Both mechanisms will report to the Indian PM and the Saudi crown prince.
Countries having strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia
- Under its Vision – 2030, Saudi Arabia has selected eight countries for forging strategic partnership.
- These include India, China, the UK, the United States, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan.
- India became the fourth nation to sign agreements with Saudi Arabia for establishment of the strategic partnership council.
- The two countries launched a new chapter on people-to-people ties through the launch of India’s Rupay card in Saudi Arabia.
- This would help around 6 Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia as well as those Indians travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj pilgrimage.
- After United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia is the third country in the Gulf region where India’s Rupay card got operationalised.
Other highlights of PM’s Saudi visit
- 12 MoUs related to security, defence, civil aviation, renewable energy sector, & capacity building were signed during the visit.
- PM Modi addressed the Future Investment Initiative Forum (popularly referred to as “Davos in the Desert”) organised by the Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund – the Public Investment Fund.
- The two sides also stressed on energy security and “Strategic Petroleum Reserves” (SPRs).
- ISPRL (Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited) signed an agreement with Saudi Aramco to lease part of the 5 million-tonne Padur storage in Karnataka.
- Indian Oil Corporation has signed a preliminary deal with Saudi Arabia’s’ Al Jeri company for cooperation in the downstream sector, including setting up fuel stations in the kingdom.
- An agreement was signed on bringing coordination between e-migration systems of the two countries.
- Saudi Arabia supplies 18 per cent of India’s crude oil requirements and 30 per cent of its liquefied petroleum gas needs.
- India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.
- PM’s visit to Riyadh was significant amid Pakistan’s rhetoric on Kashmir.
- Saudi Arabia has maintained a neutral stand on India’s decision to abrogate Article 370, expressing a tacit view that the move was internal in nature.
Why in News?
According to a notification by the Department of Economic Affairs on Foreign Exchange Management (Non-debt Instruments) Rules, 2019, the OCIs were permitted to subscribe to the NPS.
News in Detail
- Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has permitted Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to enrol in NPS at par with non-resident Indians (NRIs).
- However, the option of NPS Tier-II account will not be available for both NRI and OCI subscribers.
- OCI willing to subscribe NPS should be eligible to invest as per the provisions of the PFRDA Act and the annuity/accumulated saving will be repatriable, subject to FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) guidelines.
What is NPS?
- The NPS is a government run pension and investment scheme aimed at providing old age security through safe and regulated market-based return.
- It is regulated by PFRDA and allows its subscribers to contribute regularly during their working life.
- To invest in NPS scheme, it is mandatory for the subscriber to open Tier-I account. On the other hand, Tier-II account is optional.
- The subscribers at the time of retirement can withdraw the money in the form of lump sum withdrawal or annuity payments.
- With the latest addition, any Indian citizen, resident or non-resident and OCIs are eligible to join NPS till the age of 65 years.
- The contributions made towards the NPS are eligible for an additional tax deduction under section 80CCD (1B) up to ₹50,000 which is over and above the ₹1,50,000 limit of deduction available under section 80CCD (1).
- In the Union Budget 2019, the tax exemption limit for lumpsum withdrawal on exit/maturity from the NPS has been increased from the present 40 per cent to 60 per cent under section 10 (12A) of the IT Act.
- The remaining 40 per cent of the corpus is already tax-exempt as it is mandatorily utilised for annuity purchase.
[Source: The Hindu, Economic Times]
FACTS OF THE DAY
NATIONAL UNITY DAY (31st OCTOBER)
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel‘s birth anniversary is celebrated as “National Unity Day” or “Rashtriya Ekta Diwas” as a tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’.
- Born on October 31, 1875, at Nadiad in Gujarat, Patel was India’s first Home Minister who is credited for the merger of over 560 states into the Union of India.
- Since 2014, October 31st is observed as the National Unity Day and people from all walks of life participate in the ‘Run For Unity’.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 144th birth anniversary at the Statue of Unity in Kevadiya, Gujarat.
VYAS SAMMAN 2018
- Noted Hindi poet Leeladhar Jagoori received the KK Birla Foundation’s 2018 Vyas Samman for his collection of poems, ‘Jitne Log Utne Prem’.
- The award is conferred especially for contributions to Hindi literature and carries a prize of Rs 4 lakh and a citation.
- The KK Birla Foundation also confers the Saraswati Samman and Bihari Puraskar for literature in Indian languages.