Centre V/S State In India Part 2: Farm Bills

Centre V/S State In India Part 2: Farm Bills

Recent Farm Bills passed by the Government have opened arena for a Centre vs State tussle, as the state of Punjab has come up with its own Bills to nullify the ones passed in the Parliament.

Crux of the Matter

Punjab Farm Bills
3 Farm bills were recently passed in Punjab, governed by the Congress party. These Bills would nullify the Farm Laws recently passed by the Central Government to some extent.

Interestingly, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rejected the Bill. SAD was an ally of the BJP before separating over disagreements in the Farm Laws.

Centre Laws
Central Government recently passed Farm Laws which:

  • Allow farmers to sell outside the state-regulated Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC).
  • Allow stockpiling of several crops.
  • No provision of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers selling outside APMC mandis to private traders.

For more comprehensive coverage of the Farm Laws read: New Farm Bills In India: Features And Impact

So What Did Punjab Do?
Punjab has passed Bills to nullify the Central laws in the state with following provisions:

  • 3 years imprisonment for traders for “compelling” farmers to sell below the MSP.
  • Private traders would now come under APMC regulations and would have to pay market fees.
  • Punjab Govt may impose limits on stockpiling and decide what comes in the “essential” category.

Issues
The Bills require the approval of the Governor. Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha, has claimed that the Governor has the following options with the Bills:

  • Give or withhold assent.
  • Send bill for consideration to the President of India, who may approve or reject, or even withhold the Bills “indefinitely”.

Kashyap claimed that approval from the Governor is “unlikely”. Moreover, the Bills have been criticized as the Minimum Support Price ‘legal protection’ is applicable only for Wheat and Paddy crops.

We understand these bills require assent from the President to take shape of laws, and we are not very sure about that. We may have to approach the Supreme Court to implement the bills passed by the state assembly.

Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food And Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab
Curiopedia
  • P. Ayyakannu is a lawyer and farmer born in Tamil Nadu. He is famously known widely throughout India for his protest against the central government at New Delhi, demanding the agricultural loan in cooperative banks to be abandoned. 
  • The breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government in 2011 on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act.

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Centre V/S State In India Part 1: CBI

Maharashtra withdrawing its general consent from allowing CBI to investigate into the state has initiated a ‘Centre vs State‘ debate concerning the organization, which has witnessed similar conflicts in the past for several reasons.

Crux of the Matter

Maharashtra Government recently withdrew the ‘general consent’ for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Consequently, the CBI now requires the permission of the Maharashtra State Government to enter the state and investigate.

The case of Maharashtra is an addition to the Centre versus State conflicts regarding CBI. Several states have withdrawn consent in the past, which include Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc.

Reason For Withdrawal
Uttar Pradesh swiftly transferred a TRP fixing case filed in the state to CBI. The move came days after Maharashtra police filed an FIR against Republic TV for TRP rigging. As per analysis of Shekhar Gupta, founder of The Print:

  • TRPs is not state-specific.
  • CBI, investigating TRP case in UP, could have made it “an inter-state case”.
  • CBI could have then taken over “related FIRs in all states” – including Maharashtra.
  • Maharashtra Govt reportedly wants to handle the Republic TV case by itself.

TRP Scandal Timeline

  • Mumbai Police announced involvement alleged involvement of Republic TV in a TRP scam. The announcement came on the basis on complaint by Hansa research group to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
  • Notably, Republic found complaint of Hansa and claimed that no mention of Republic was there and that India Today was mentioned.
  • Mumbai Police filed an FIR against Republic journalists and editorial team for inciting “disaffection” towards police.
    Mumbai Police recently announced owners of Republic TV, News Nation and Maha Movie as accused in TRP scam.
  • Days after Maharashtra police filed FIR against Republic TV for alleged TRP rigging, another FIR was filed, reportedly on behest of an ad company promoter in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. UP govt referred the case to CBI.

CBI ‘Consent’
CBI was established in 1963 and is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

  • Section 6 of the Act: Consent of state Government mandatory for investigating in that state.
  • 2 types of consent: General and Case-specific.
  • General consent: Facilitates smooth investigation in cases concerning Central Government employees in the state. All other cases required case-specific consent.

Impact Of Withdrawal

  • All cases (whether against Central Government employee or any private individual/organization) now require state consent.
  • CBI officers “lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them”.
  • Doesn’t apply on existing cases.
  • No consent required if any High Court or the Supreme Court directs CBI investigation.
  • CBI can still investigate cases involving people from such states if it files case outside that state.

Why Withdraw Consent?
State Governments withdraw General consent after alleging “loss of faith” in the organization, and allege unfair use by Central Government to target State Governments. The Central Government, on the other hand, claims that State Governments withdraw consent to conceal their own corruption and malpractices.

State Of West Bengal V/S Centre: The Case Of CBI

  • November 2018: West Bengal withdrew General consent from CBI.
  • February 2019: CBI went to question then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar – reportedly went without an order from Court. Kumar investigated the Saradha chit fund scam.
  • CBI blamed State police for ‘destruction of evidence’ in the scam.
  • State Police detained CBI officials instead of letting them question Kumar, and released them after questioning.
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Kumar’s house.
  • Banerjee later sat on ‘Dharna’ (non-compliant demonstration) against the CBI.
  • Finally, the Supreme Court directed Rajeev Kumar to appear before CBI in Shillong (a neutral place). It also directed that no “coercive action” (arrest) should be taken against Kumar by CBI.
Curiopedia
  • P. Ayyakannu is a lawyer and farmer born in Tamil Nadu. He is famously known widely throughout India for his protest against the central government at New Delhi, demanding the agricultural loan in cooperative banks to be abandoned. 
  • The breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. This exemption was granted by the government in 2011 on the basis of national security. It was criticized by the Central Information Commission and RTI activists, who said the blanket exemption violated the letter and intent of the RTI Act.

What Is The Quad?

What Is The Quad?

Quad is a quadrilateral security alliance formed by India, Japan, Australia and US. Recently, on India’s invitation, Australia agreed to join the Quad’s flagship Malabar naval exercise. Let’s have a look at how was Quad formed, what are its purposes and how it will play a role in the geopolitics of creating a multipolar world.

Crux of the Matter

What is Quad?
In 2007 Japan, Australia, the US, and India started an informal strategic forum among themselves called the Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD). They organize semi-regular summits, information exchanges, and military drills. Diplomatically, as experts say, it is formed to counter the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2008, the Quad alliance stopped as then Australian President Kevin Rudd withdrew Australia. However, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, four countries renegotiated to resume the Quad alliance. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe intended for the Quad to establish an “Asian Arc of Democracy”. Quad countries are also members of the Malabar Naval Exercise that has also become its flagship military drill.

Role Of Malabar Exercise
In 1992, the Indian and the US Navies initiated Malabar Naval Exercise as part of a bilateral treaty. While the Quad was formed in 2007, in which all four nations joined the Malabar drill, Japan became a permanent participant in 2015. Considering China’s increasing muscle in the Indo-Pacific, Australia has been showing a keen interest in becoming a permanent member. This year, on India’s invitation Australia will take part in the Malabar Drill.

What Is Quad Plus?
Quad Plus is an alliance of Quad nations with other regional countries. Recently, Quad plus – 4 member nations along with South Korean, New Zealand, and Vietnam – teleconferenced about how to respond to the pandemic and realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. This has led to speculation that the US might invite South Korea to join Quad.

There is no policy for expansion of the Quad, though the group is a still somewhat undefined entity in and of itself.

Steve BiegunUS Deputy Secretary of State

Speaking on speculation of the US inviting S. Korea to the Quad, an Indian Foreign Ministry official was of the opinion that India should be at the driver’s seat because the US may resort to forming alliances as per its old template. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, has been emphasizing India’s stand on a Multipolar world, where more than one superpower exists.

Where Is China In All This?
China is a major trade partner for all Quad members. It has already started targeting one of the Quad members – Australia – on the trade front. First, China put a high tariff on barley when Australia asked for an investigation into the emergence of Coronavirus, and now it has increased tariff on cotton coming from Australia. Experts believe that the Quad should not indulge in trade policies or economics because China can then easily pick any nation and target it on trade.

China is also forming one-to-one treaties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region. For instance, China is the largest provider of arms to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.

China cannot prevent gatherings of the four countries by exerting diplomatic pressure. But China has had the initiative in its relations with India, Japan, and Australia, with abundant resources to keep them away from the US’ anti-China strategy.

Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times Editorial
Curiopedia
  • Japan and China have been in a water dispute themselves regarding Senkaku/Diaoyus islands. They are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyus in China. Before 2020, the last crisis took place in 2012 when Japan nationalized the islands as they were privately owned then. A dispute between China and Japan could get heightened as the USA is obliged to defend Japan if it comes under a foreign attack according to Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty.
  • In the month of July, relations between Australia and China escalated when China imposed 80.5% tariffs on barley and banning the import of beef from four major meat processing plants. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and this move has devastated the economy of Australia.
  • India and Japan defense forces organize a series of bilateral exercises namely, JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. Whereas India and the USA conduct Joint Military Exercises namely, Yudha Abhyas. Exercises between India and Australia include PitchBlack and AUSINDEX.
  • Singapore has been the only non-permanent member to be a part of the Malabar exercise in the year 2007

FDI Norms In Media Extended To Aggregators

FDI Norms In Media Extended To Aggregators

In September 2019, India’s Commerce Ministry announced that digital media would also fall under the ambit of FDI laws pertaining to print and broadcast media. However, there was no clarity on whether it would be applicable to news aggregating platforms. The clarification for the same came in recent, with the government bringing aggregators under the FDI norms. Let’s understand how it will affect digital media.

Crux of the Matter

FDI In Media
Until September 2019, there were no limitations on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on digital news platforms in India. Websites like Microsoft, HuffPost, etc, were running almost entirely on foreign funds. In September 2019, Commerce Ministry announced a cap of 26% FDI, that too only after govt approval, on digital platforms uploading/streaming news and current affairs. However, there was no clarity on whether news aggregators like InShorts, and DailyHunt, would fall under this FDI norm.

In India, 26% FDI is allowed in print media, and 49% in broadcast (television) media.

Recent Update
On 16th October 2020, the Indian government clarified the 2019 digital media FDI policy and said that news aggregators would also be required to comply with the 26% FDI norm. According to I&B Ministry officials, the influence and interference of foreign entities on India’s domestic affairs should be checked including Chinese and other overseas funding entities in new digital platforms.

The concern over aggregators was raised by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), as the presence of Chinese and foreign-owned digital media platforms were not required to comply with the FDI norms. As per INS entities like Dailyhunt, InShorts, Opera News, NewsDog, UC News, etc. were included.

Who Will Be Affected?
Indian entities registered or located in the country that are digital media entities streaming or uploading news and current affairs on websites, apps and other platforms will have to abide by the new rules. Popular news aggregators such as Dailyhunt and InShorts are expected to abide by the new rules.

Dailyhunt has received investment from Falcon Edge, Stonebridge Capital, Goldman Sachs, and from Chinese entities such as ByteDance.

InShorts has received investment from Japan’s Rebright Partners and American venture capitalist, Lee Fixel and Tiger Global.  

What Changes For The Aggregators?
Digital news aggregators will have 1 year from the date of issue of clarification to bring down the FDI to 26% with the approval from the Central government. The majority of the directors and CEO of the digital applications must hold Indian citizenship, as it will aid the government to seek accountability. Foreign directors and CEOs will require security clearance.

Impact
These new changes come only a few months after the government re-worked the Press Act, in which they made it mandatory for all online news portals to register with the government. Many experts also see this as an attempt to curb the false narratives on digital media as the platform lacks a self-regulating body, unlike in print or TV. It will also bring uniformity between FDI limits in prints and digital media platforms. 

Curiopedia
  • The Indian Newspaper Society acts as the central organization of the Press of India, an independent body authenticating circulation figures of newspapers. It plays a major role in protecting and promoting the freedom of press in India. The society was founded in 1939.
  • The industries which produce news and entertainment content for the mass media are often called “the media”. In the late 20th century it became commonplace for this usage to be construed as singular (“The media is…”) rather than as the traditional plural. 
  • Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was an English language weekly newspaper published in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the capital of British India. It was the first newspaper printed in Asia and was published for two years, between 1780 and 1782, before the East India Company seized the newspaper’s types and printing press.

BrahMos: Successful Test Fire & History

BrahMos: History & Successful Test Fire

With the latest successful testing of BrahMos missilie amidst border conflict with China, India added another milestone to its missile collaboration, a process continuing for more than 30 years.

Crux of the Matter

Successful Testing
On 18 October 2020, India successfully test-fired its BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. It was launched from INS Chennai, which is a stealth destroyer ship made in India.
The missile has 3 variants: land, air, and naval.

The recent test occurred for the naval variant which has a range of 290 km. It struck the target “with pinpoint accuracy after performing high-level and extremely complex manoeuvres”. It has been developed jointly by India and Russia.

Tests On A Roll
India has successfully tested 11 missiles in the last 2 months. Following are the notable tests:

  • 30 September: Tested Brahmos (surface to surface) – target range of 400 km.
  • 1 October: Tested the Laser-Guided Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).
  • 3 October: Tested Shaurya – hypersonic indigenous missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads
  • 10 October: Tested Rudram-1 – first “indigenous anti-radiation missile” of India.

History

  • It is a supersonic cruise missile developed by ‘BrahMos Aerospace’.
  • It is a joint venture between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia.
  • It was formed in 1988 after India and Russia signed an “Inter-Governmental” agreement, with Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam being the signatory from the Indian side.
  • The name is derived from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively.
  • The first successful test launch occurred in 2001, when the missile was fired from a stationary launcher.
  • 2005: First BrahMos missile was inducted, being inducted in the Indian Navy with INS Rajput.
  • Land, submarine, warship variants of the missile have been successfully tested.
  • 2010: It also became the first cruise missile to be tested at supersonic speed in “steep-dive” mode in the world.
  • 2019: The Sukhoi-30 fighter jet variant was tested. In 2020, the Sukhoi 30-MKI fighter aircraft (equipped with BrahMos) was inducted in the Indian Air Force.

Make In India And Specifications
In 2008, BrahMos Aerospace acquired ‘Keltec’, which is a state-owned Indian firm. The aim of the move was to manufacture its components indigenously. Initially, 10-12% of missile components were made in India. This percentage has increased to 65% as of 2018.

Curiopedia
  • The Philippines is set to become the first export customer of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile. The country will acquire two batteries of the missile, with each battery including three mobile autonomous launchers with two to three missile tubes each.
  • BrahMos-NG (Next Generation) is a mini version based on the existing BrahMos, proposed to be inducted in 2024. It will have the same specifications as Brahmos but will weigh around 1.5 tons, 5 metres in length and 50 cm in diameter, making BrahMos-NG 50 percent lighter and three metres shorter than its predecessor.
  • Agni V is India’s first Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) which can travel up to 5800km – roughly till the northern parts of China.