Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - August 22, 2018

Electoral Reforms

SC scraps NOTA option for RS polls This will revive Satan of defection

What

  • The Supreme Court scrapped the use of NOTA (none of the above) option for Rajya Sabha polls, saying it would usher back the “Satan of defections.”
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, held that the option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not elections held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The option of NOTA may serve as an elixir in direct elections but in the election to the Council of States, it would not only undermine the purity of democracy but also serve the Satan of defection and corruption
  • The court pointed out that in the voting in Rajya Sabha elections, there is a whip and the elector is bound to obey the command of the party.
  • The party discipline... is of extreme significance, for that is the fulcrum of the existence of parties. The thought of cross-voting and corruption is obnoxious.
  • The court held that NOTA in an indirect election would not only run counter to the discipline expected from an elector under the Tenth Schedule but also be “counterproductive to the basic grammar of the law of disqualification... on the ground of defection.”
  • The Supreme Court criticised the Election Commission for introducing NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections.
  • The court observed that while NOTA option looks attractive in Rajya Sabha polls, it actually harms an electoral process where open ballot is permissible and party discipline reigns. More so, where the elector’s vote has value and the value of the vote is transferable.
  • NOTA will destroy the concept of value of a vote and representation and encourage defection that shall open the doors for corruption which is a malignant disorder,

Report/International Organisations

India Wage Report published by International Labour Organisations ILO report flags wage inequality in India

What’s in the report

  • Real average daily wages in India almost doubled in the first two decades after economic reforms, but low pay and wage inequality remains a serious challenge to inclusive growth
  • The International Labour Organization warned in its The ILO has called for stronger implementation of minimum wage laws and strengthening of the frameworks for collective bargaining by workers.
  • This is essential to combat persistent low pay in some sectors and to bridge the wage gaps between rural and urban, male and female, and regular and casual workers.

Enlighten about the report

  • Overall, in 2009-10, a third of all wage workers were paid less than the national minimum wage, which is merely indicative and not legally binding.
  • That includes 41% of all casual workers and 15% of salaried workers.
  • In 2011-12, the average wage in India was about ₹247 rupees a day, almost double the 1993-94 figure of ₹128.
  • However, average labour productivity (as measured by GDP per worker) increased more rapidly than real average wages.
  • Thus, India’s labour share — or the proportion of national income which goes into labour compensation, as opposed to capital or landowners — has declined.

Enlighten about the yawning gap

  • The rise in average wages was more rapid in rural areas, and for casual workers.
  • The average wage of casual workers — who make 62% of the earning population — was only ₹143 a day.
  • Daily wages in urban areas (₹384) also remain more than twice as high as those in rural areas (₹175)
  • Regional disparities in average wages have actually increased over time, with wages rising more rapidly in high-wage States than in low-wage ones.
  • The gender wage gap decreased from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011-12, but still remains high by international standards.
  • The ILO also highlighted the lack of timely data as a hindrance, pointing out that its analysis — and the decisions of Indian policy makers — was dependent on 2011-12 data from the Employment and Unemployment Survey (EUS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), as that was the last year in which the survey was done.
  • State-specific and comparative studies on wages are needed, said the ILO, urging collaborative work between government agencies, academic institutions and expert organisations.

Government Schemes

UDAN International Scheme will enable States to choose routes, provide subsidy to airlines The Centre will grant financial aid only for the actual number of passenger seats that are unsold.

What

  • State governments will be able to encourage tourism on preferred international air routes by offering subsidy to domestic airlines for a period of three years.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has prepared a draft scheme document for “UDAN International” and invited comments from stakeholders till September 4.

Enlighten about the scheme

  • The scheme is designed for State governments that are keen to promote air connectivity on international routes identified by them and for which they are willing to provide subsidy to airlines.
  • The airlines will bid on the percentage of flight capacity for which they require financial assistance, provided that the figure doesn’t exceed 60% of the flight capacity.
  • The entity that quotes the lowest amount will be awarded subsidy for a particular route.
  • The government will grant financial aid only for the actual number of passenger seats that are unsold, even if the airline had sought subsidy for a higher percentage of seating capacity at the time of bidding.

No cap on fares in International Udaan

  • An airline that is awarded a particular route will have exclusive rights to a subsidy on that route for a period of three years.
  • The key difference between this scheme and the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) for domestic routes is that there is no capping of fares.
  • Under RCS, fares are capped at ₹2,500 for one hour of flight on a fixed wing aircraft in order to make air travel affordable

Awards

Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana - 2018

Who

  • Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

  • Born on 22 April 1945.
  • He is grandson of Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi
  • He is retired IAS officer
  • He was United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee for 2017 Vice President of India election and lost with 244 votes against NDA candidate Venkaiah Naidu, who received 516 votes

Enlighten about Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award

  • It is awarded every year on persons for outstanding contribution toward promotion of communal harmony, national integration and peace.
  • It was instituted in 1992 by All India Congress Committee of Indian Nation
  • Congress Party (INC) to commemorate the lasting contribution made by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
  • The award carries citation and cash award of Rs. ten lakhs. It is given on 20 August (birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi
  • 20 august is celebrated as Sadbhavna Diwas (Harmony Day

Former recipients of this award are

  • Mother Teresa, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Lat
  • Mangeshkar, Mohammed Yunus, Sunil Dutt, Kapila Vatsyayan, Dilip Kuma
  • Teesta Setalvad, Swami Agnivesh, K.R. Narayanan, Ustad Amjad Ali Kha
  • Muzaffar Ali and Shubha Mudgal.
  • In 2017, it was awarded to Former Cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin and Retired IAS Officer M.Gopala Krishna

Economy

Centre tells ONGC to list OVL Listing would help govt. raise funds; ‘unlock value’ in oil producer’s overseas unit

What

  • The Indian government has asked its biggest state-owned firm, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), to list its overseas unit ONGC Videsh.

Benefits of the move

  • The move to float the unit — which has investments in 11 producing assets in countries including Russia, Brazil and Iran — is part of a government push to sell state-assets to raise funds.

Improve governance

  • A listing would also help unlock value in the unit by improving its corporate governance and efficiency
  • Any state-owned firm with a positive net worth and no accumulated loss should be listed to unlock value.
  • The listing would help the government meet its divestment targets and make up for a failed plan earlier this year to sell a stake in national carrier Air India.

Enlighten about the disinvestment statics

  • The Government has a target to raise a record ₹1 trillion ($14.25 billion) from the sale of state assets in the current fiscal year ending in March 2019.
  • India holds a 67.45% stake in ONGC Videsh’s parent ONGC and gains from a listing could be transferred to the government via a special dividend.
  • ONGC Videsh, 100% owned by ONGC, suffered losses during the low crude price environment between 2014 and 2017 but its earnings have since recovered.
  • The firm posted a net profit of $152 million and contributed 5% to ONGC’s overall net earnings in the latest fiscal year ended March 2018.
  • ONGC Videsh was formed in 1965 to help India expand its overseas footprint.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB , Indian Express