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Simultaneous Elections

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges

Why in the news?

An all-party meeting was held on the topic ‘ 1 nation, 1 poll’. The government has planned to formed a committee to prepare a roadmap for the same.

What are simultaneous elections?

  • Simultaneous elections means the holding of State Legislative Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections together.
  • Presently, the elections are held as and when the five year term of the houses expires. So, there is always an election going on in some parts of the country.
  • This poses an administrative and development challenge as with the election the Model Code of Conduct comes into action and new projects are postponed or frozen till the end of elections.
  • Moreover, the MPs/MLAs are often busy in campaigning in one state or the other and have less time to focus on legislative and executive matters which again leads to policy paralysis.
  • This policy freeze also comes from the engagement of government officials on poll duty at one or the other time of the year, throughout the  year.
  • Also, election expenditure will be reduced with the holding of only one poll as the machinery will have to be engaged only once. The General elections themselves cost the government exchequer more than USD 5 billion and added to them cost of state elections are another huge expenditure.
  • From the point of view of citizens, there is ‘election fatigue’ and enthusiasm may not be the same for multiple elections being held in a year causing turnouts to fluctuate.
  • Thus, there is considerable support for the holding of simultaneous elections.


What are the issues with simultaneous elections?

  • On premature dissolution of the Lok Sabha or State Assembly, holding of elections becomes inevitable and waiting for the ‘one election’ may lead to administrative paralysis itself or lead to extension of the term of the House. This will be in violation of the spirit of democracy.
  • Simultaneous elections are against the principle of federalism. The people may vote for the same party for both national and state elections out of confusion in issues as simultaneous elections will make it difficult to separate national from state issues.
  • Frequent elections also serve as a check on the elected officials as they are brought under scrutiny over unfulfilled promises. This serves as a motivation for elected officials to work. Simultaneous elections may put them in their own comfort zone.
  • Also, it is in basic violation of a citizen’s right to choose their candidates at the national and regional level separately.
  • The logistical exercise will be massive and Election Commission has ruled out the possibility of holding simultaneous elections in the past due to this issue.


PIL for pre-censorship of TV programmes

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic:  Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Why in the news?

  • Madras HC has sought a response of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to a public interest litigation petition for the constitution of a censor board for editing programmes aired by entertainment channels.
  • While pre-censorship exists for movies which are watched only by a select audience, tv shows are outside the ambit of censorship and was watched by the entire country.

What is a Public Interest Litigation?

  • In Indian law, public interest litigation means litigation for the protection of the public interest. It is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party.
  • It is not necessary, for the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, that the person who is the victim of the violation of his or her right should personally approach the court. Public interest litigation is the power given to the public by courts through judicial activism.
  • However, the person filing the petition must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the petition is being filed for a public interest and not just as a frivolous litigation by a busy body.
  • Such cases may occur when the victim does not have the necessary resources to commence litigation or his freedom to move court has been suppressed or encroached upon.
  • The court can itself take cognizance of the matter and proceed suo motu or cases can commence on the petition of any public-spirited individual.


Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

  • The 20th Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held here today under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs.
  • The Meeting reviewed the current global and domestic economic situation and financial stability issues including, inter-alia, those concerning Banking and NBFCs.
  • The Council also held consultations to obtain inputs/ suggestions of the financial sector regulators for the Budget. All the regulators presented their proposals for the Union Budget 2019-20.


What is the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)?

It is an apex level non-statutory body constituted by the Government of India headed by the Union Finance Minister. Its responsibilities include:

  • Financial Stability
  • Financial Sector Development
  • Inter-Regulatory Coordination
  • Financial Literacy
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Macro prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates
  • Coordinating India’s international interface with financial sector bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Financial Stability Board (FSB)and any such body as may be decided by the Finance Minister from time to time.

The institutional structure for India’s Financial Inclusion/ Literacy programme is unique as it has an apex body in the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), headed by the Finance Minister of Government of India, mandated, inter alia, to focus on attaining financial inclusion/ literacy goals.


PM’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC)

Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

Why in the news?

The PMEAC has released a detailed note enumerating its objections to the paper of former Chief Economic Advisor of India Dr. Arvind Subramaniam on India’s GDP growth.

What is the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council?

  • Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PMEAC) is a non-constitutional, non-permanent and independent body constituted to give economic advice to the Government of India, specifically the Prime Minister.
  • The primary role of the PMEAC is to give a neutral viewpoint on economic policy matters that are referred to it by the Prime Minister.
  • Additionally it prepares a monthly report of economic developments that need to be highlighted to the PM. For this purpose it closely monitors national and international economic developments and trends and develops appropriate policy responses for the PM.
  • It publishes reports on the annual Economic Outlook and Review of the Economy of India.


Foreign Direct Investment

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy

Why in the news?

Minister of Commerce and Industry has said that the Central Government will not allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

What is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)?

  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a firm or individual in one country into business interests located in another country. Generally, FDI takes place when an investor establishes foreign business operations or acquires foreign business assets, including establishing ownership or controlling interest in a foreign company.
  • Foreign direct investments are distinguished from portfolio investments(FPIs) in which an investor merely purchases equities of foreign-based companies.
  • Both are the forms of investment made in a foreign country. FDI is made to acquire controlling ownership in an enterprise but FII tends to invest in the foreign financial market. In most cases, the former is given preference over the latter because it benefits the whole economy.


Dispute Resolution Mechanism

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic:  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

  • In a major decision to facilitate the solar and wind energy projects, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC)has approved a proposal to set up a Dispute Resolution Committee to consider the unforeseen disputes between solar/wind power developers and SECI/NTPC, beyond contractual agreement.
  • The move will give further fillip to the smooth implementation of solar/wind energy projects in India. It fulfils a long pending demand of the industry to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements.

Why was the move needed?

  • The Solar and Wind Industry have been demanding setting up of Dispute Resolution Mechanism by MNRE for quite some time, to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers / wind power developers and SECI/ NTPC.
  • The issue was considered and it was felt that there is need to erect a transparent, unbiased Dispute Resolution Mechanism, consisting of an independent, transparent and unbiased Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), for resolving the unforeseen disputes that may arise in implementation of contractual agreements and also for dealing with issues which are beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers/ wind power developers and SECI / NTPC.


Ozone Pollution

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

An analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment has revealed that Ozone pollution is higher in the Delhi -NCR region this year as compared to last year.

What is Ozone pollution?

  • Ozone is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell.
  • When present in the stratosphere in the form of a layer (Ozone Layer), it protects the surface of the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • However, in the troposphere (layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth), when formed, it acts as a pollutant.
  • The majority of tropospheric ozone formation occurs when nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight, specifically the UV spectrum. NOx, CO, and VOCs are considered ozone precursors.
  • Motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and chemical solvents are the major anthropogenic sources of these ozone precursors.
  • Although the ozone precursors often originate in urban areas, winds can carry NOx hundreds of kilometers, causing ozone formation to occur in less populated regions as well.


What are the harmful effects on health due to ozone pollution?

Ozone is known to have the following health effects at concentrations common in urban air:

  • Irritation of the respiratory system, causing coughing, throat irritation, and/or an uncomfortable sensation in the chest.
  • Reduced lung function, making it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously. Breathing may become more rapid and more shallow than normal, and a person’s ability to engage in vigorous activities may be limited.
  • Aggravation of asthma. When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention or use of medication. One reason this happens is that ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens, which in turn trigger asthma attacks.
  • Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.
  • Inflammation and damage to the lining of the lungs. Within a few days, the damaged cells are shed and replaced much like the skin peels after a sunburn. Animal studies suggest that if this type of inflammation happens repeatedly over a long time period (months, years, a lifetime), lung tissue may become permanently scarred, resulting in permanent loss of lung function and a lower quality of life.


Prelims Specific

  • Fort Emmanuel was the first European fort in Kochi, built in 1503 by the Portuguese.
  • Sadikpur Sinauli in UP is an ancient site of the Late Harappan age which is expected to get the ‘national importance’ tag by the Archeological Survey of India. It has the largest necropolis of the late Harappan age.
  • The Government of India has decided to show BTV World, a channel owned by Bangladesh TV, on the Doordarshan Free Dish which will be available for the viewers of Doordarshan in our country. At the same time, DD India would be made available in Bangladesh for being viewed by the people in that country.
  • The Government has also approved the proposal of Prasar Bharati for making available the KBS World, an English 24×7 channel of Government of the Republic of South Korea on the DD Free Dish for the Indian viewers. Simultaneously, people of Korea would be able to view DD India in their country.
  • Carbon quantum dots (CQDs) have been prepared from coal by scientists from Assam that can be used to detect cancer cells in humans.