The conflict over service control and the Delhi government’s ordinance
Syllabus: GS2/Government Policies & Interventions
• Recently, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, was promulgated by the President of India.
More about the ordinance
- The federal government issued an ordinance granting the lieutenant governor of Delhi authority over services related to the administration of the national capital.
- Principally, the authority is to appoint and transfer bureaucrats assigned to Delhi.
- The Ordinance is aimed at nullifying the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision that gave the Delhi government powers over administrative services in the national capital, raises several key questions– questions that are likely to soon be posed before the Supreme Court.
- Creation of National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA):
• The Ordinance establishes the National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) as a new statutory authority.
In addition to the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary of the Home Ministry, the elected Chief Minister of Delhi will lead the NCCSA.
• • The NCCSA will provide the LG with “recommendations” concerning “transfer posting, vigilance, and other incidental matters.”
• All matters requiring a vote by the body shall be decided by a “majority of votes of the members present and voting.”
• This implies that the elected chief minister of Delhi can be effectively overridden by two senior bureaucrats.
• Furthermore, if the LG disagrees with the recommendation, they would be able to “return the recommendation to the Authority for reconsideration,” and if the disagreement persists, “the Lieutenant Governor’s decision shall be final.”
• This effectively reverses the Supreme Court’s ruling, which gave the Delhi government ultimate authority over the matter.
About the dispute over control of services
- According to a few, the Delhi government has no authority over administrative services.
- However, according to others, transfers and postings of Secretaries, HODs, and other officers in the scale of Joint Secretary to the Government of India and above are handled by the Lieutenant Governor, and for other levels, including DANICS (Delhi, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) officers, the files are routed through the Chief Minister to the Lieutenant Governor.
- Centre’s opinion:
- The Centre had requested that the case be referred to a larger Bench, contending that it required the authority to make transfers and postings of officers in Delhi as the national capital and “face of the nation.”
- Opinion of Delhi government:
- According to the government of Delhi, a government cannot function if it lacks control over services, as the exclusion of civil servants would nullify governance and make officials unaccountable to the public.
Issue before the Supreme Court
- Centre’s notification:
- A 2015 notification from the Union Home Ministry stated that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi would be in charge of “services.”
Appeal by the administration of Delhi:
- The Delhi government filed a challenge with the Delhi High Court, which upheld the notification in 2017.
- In response to an appeal, a two-judge Supreme Court bench referred the case to a larger constitution bench.
Conclusion of the Supreme Court:
- Two constitution panels of the Supreme Court have addressed the issue of the Delhi government’s powers in 2018 and on 5 May.
- The interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution, which deals with the governance structure of the national capital, is at issue in both of these decisions.
The decision: The court adopts the following constitutional principles in interpreting Article 239AA:
- Representative democracy,
- federalism, and – to an elected government – accountability
- The court determined that, under the constitutional scheme, Delhi is a Sui Generis (or unique) model, unlike any other Union Territory. It said Delhi exhibits a special constitutional status under article 239AA.
- The ruling favored the government of Delhi.
- The decision also acknowledges that “principles of democracy and federalism” are fundamental elements of the Constitution.
- The court ruled that while Delhi could not be granted statehood, the concept of federalism would still apply to it.
Can a decision of the Supreme Court be undone?
- The current ordinance takes away this power from the Delhi government and places it with a statutory body that comprises the chief minister of Delhi and the Chief Secretary and principal Home Secretary of the Delhi government.
- Parliament has the authority to nullify a court judgment through a legislative act.
- This means that a law can be enacted to remove the basis for the judgment. A law of this type can be both retrospective and prospective.
- However, the law cannot merely contradict the Supreme Court’s decision; it must also address the Court’s underlying reasoning.
In the event of basic structure:
- Parliament cannot pass a law or even a Constitutional amendment that violates the Constitution’s basic structure.
|Article 239 AA & Special Status of Delhi
Groundwater Contamination with Arsenic
Syllabus: GS 2/Health
Recent peer-reviewed research suggests that exposure to low levels of arsenic may impair the cognitive function of infants, adolescents, and young adults.
- It is extensively distributed throughout the environment in the air, water, and land;
- It is highly toxic in its inorganic form;
- It is naturally present in high concentrations in the groundwater of several countries.
- According to reports, the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh in India have the highest levels of arsenic contamination in their groundwater.
• Individuals are exposed to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic through imbibing contaminated water, using contaminated water in food preparation and irrigation of food crops, industrial processes, consuming contaminated foods, and smoking tobacco.
Effects on health
• Arsenic poses the greatest hazard to public health through contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation, and irrigation of food crops.
• Arsenic in potable water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions when ingested over time.
• Cardiovascular disease and diabetes have also been linked to it.
• In utero and early childhood exposure to arsenic has been linked to negative effects on cognitive development and increased mortality in young adults. • Those exposed to arsenic had less grey matter (brain tissue essential for cognitive functions) and weaker connections within key regions of the brain that enable concentration, task switching, and temporary storage of information.
Prevention and Control
- The most essential action in affected communities is the provision of safe water for drinking, food preparation, and irrigation of food crops to prevent further exposure to arsenic.
- Replace high-arsenic sources, such as groundwater, with low-arsenic, microbiologically safe sources, such as rainwater and treated surface water.
- Differentiate between arsenic-rich and arsenic-poor sources.
- Combine low-arsenic water with higher-arsenic water to reach an acceptable concentration of arsenic.Install centralized or domestic arsenic removal systems and assure the proper disposal of the removed arsenic.
- Long-term measures must also be taken to reduce occupational exposure to industrial processes.Education and community involvement are crucial to the efficacy of interventions. Community members must comprehend the dangers of elevated arsenic exposure and the sources of arsenic exposure.
- Arsenic is one of the top 10 chemicals of concern to public health, according to the WHO.
- The World Health Organization’s efforts to reduce arsenic exposure include establishing guideline values, evaluating evidence, and recommending risk management practices.
- The World Health Organization publishes a guideline value for arsenic in its Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
- The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene monitors the achievement of global potable water targets.
- The “safely managed drinking water services” indicator of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires the monitoring of the population with access to drinking water free of fecal contamination and priority chemical contaminants, including arsenic.
• Since the 1990s, the central and state administrations of Bihar and West Bengal have endeavored to combat arsenic contamination.
• C-Veda (Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions) is a multi-university India-United Kingdom research consortium.
o This study seeks to assess the impact of risk – whether biological or environmental – on cognitive development, as well as to compare these effects in industrializing (India) and industrialized (United Kingdom) societies.
o This also entails mapping the brains of study participants and evaluating and comparing their neurological development as a result.
Mand-Pishin Border Market for Food
Syllabus: GS2/International Relations
• In an effort to increase cross-border commerce, Pakistan and Iran inaugurated the first border market at the Mand-Pashin border crossing between Pakistan and Iran.
• The two leaders also inaugurated an electricity transmission line that will provide electricity generated in Iran to some remote regions of Pakistan.In 2021, the two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish six such facilities, marking the first time they made the decision to open border markets.
Marketplace on the border between Iran-Pakistan
- The Mand-Pishin Border Market is one of the six border markets that will be built along the Pakistan-Iran border.It would increase cross-border commerce, stimulate economic development, and create new opportunities for local businesses.
- The Mand-Pishin border has a lengthy history, with Mand serving as a hub for small-scale border business owners from throughout Balochistan, particularly those associated with the food and beverage businesses in Kech and Gwadar districts.
- Food and beverage commodities are imported, stored, and then distributed throughout Balochistan and other provinces of Pakistan from the city’s numerous large warehouses.
Why have Pakistan and Iran decided to inaugurate the border market now?
• The joint inauguration demonstrates Pakistan and Iran’s firm commitment to improving the welfare of residents in the neighboring provinces of Balochistan and Sistan-o-Baluchestan, respectively.
• The inauguration of the two projects has occurred at a time when the political landscape of the West Asia region is shifting, particularly after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran this year, which was facilitated by China.
• It also represents a significant step forward in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.With relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran becoming less acrimonious, the latest development can be interpreted as Pakistan’s attempt to further strengthen their relationship in order to address their ongoing economic crises and enhance border security.
Overview of Pakistan and Iran Relations
- Unstable Relationships: Iran is a Shia-majority country, whereas Pakistan is a Sunni-majority country; both countries have never had a stable relationship, and relations have worsened since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.
- Cross-border attacks and insurgency: Relations between the two countries have deteriorated further in recent years as a result of cross-border attacks by Pakistani militants along their shared border.
- Small separatist organizations have been responsible for Baluchistan’s long-running insurgency against the Pakistani government.
- In recent years, anti-Iran militants from Pakistan have also targeted the Iranian border, heightening tensions between the two countries.
- Despite their differences, the two nations have never severed their ties entirely. Now, they appear to be strengthening their relationship in order to address issues such as their respective economic crises — Iran’s finances are dwindling due to the United States’ stringent sanctions, and Pakistan has been unable to combat inflation.
- The normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran could also be a factor in their newfound closeness.
- Relations with China: China’s emergence as a diplomatic force in West Asia may also play a role. Both Iran and Pakistan have a strong relationship with China; consequently, they must maintain cordial relations with one another.
Syllabus: GS 2/Government Policies and Interventions
• In the Hindenburg-Adani dispute, the Supreme Court made public the report of the court-appointed expert council.
About Justice A.M. Sapre committee
- It is a six-member expert committee established by the Supreme Court in the Hindenburg-Adani allegations case and presided over by former Supreme Court judge Justice A.M. Sapre.
- The panel’s findings provided the Supreme Court with a comprehensive analysis of the situation that could have caused market volatility due to the Hindenburg-Adani dispute.
- The committee also examined two additional issues: investor awareness and whether regulatory failure contributed to the Hindenburg report’s findings.
- It was determined that there was no evidence of a “regulatory failure” on the part of SEBI. However, an effective enforcement policy is required.
RBI stops issuing notes from 2000.
Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & related issues
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to discontinue the circulation of Rs 2000 banknotes.
• The notes will remain valid tender. The RBI has instructed banks to immediately cease issuing Rs 2,000 banknotes, and all Rs 2,000 currency notes must be exchanged by September 30, 2023.
• The RBI has advised individuals to deposit or exchange these banknotes at bank branches.
• One can exchange up to Rs 20,000 worth of Rs 2000 banknotes at once. A non-account bearer of a bank can exchange up to Rs 20,000 worth of Rs 2000 banknotes at any bank branch.
Why were Rs 2000 notes introduced?
• The Rs 2000 note was introduced in November 2016 under Section 24(1) of The RBI Act, 1934, primarily to meet the currency needs of the economy after the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes lost their legal tender status.
Why has the RBI withdrawn Rs 2000 notes?
- Initial Objective has been achieved: The issuance of Rs 2000 notes was discontinued in 2018-19 as a result of the achievement of the initial objective of maintaining an adequate stock of banknotes in other denominations to meet currency requirements.
- Clean Note Policy: Under the ‘Clean Note Policy’ of the Reserve Bank of India, Rs 2000 banknotes have been withdrawn from circulation.
- The Clean Note Policy aims to provide the public with high-quality currency notes and coins with enhanced security features, while removing filthy notes from circulation.
- Previously, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) resolved to remove from circulation all banknotes issued prior to 2005 because they have fewer security features than banknotes printed after 2005.
- However, notes issued prior to 2005 remain lawful tender. They were only withdrawn from circulation in accordance with the standard international practice of not having multiple series of currency in circulation simultaneously.
- Hoarding concerns: The move is prompted by concerns that the highest denomination notes are being used to amass illegal funds.
Women in Science in India
Syllabus: GS3/ Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
• According to recent data from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), women comprised 28% of extramural Research and Development (R&D) project participants in 2018-19, up from 13% in 2000-01.
• From 2000-2001 to 2016-2017, the proportion of female primary investigators in R&D increased by more than fourfold, from 232 to 941. The percentage of female scientists increased from 13.9% in 2015 to 18.8% in 2018.
• In 2008, the Indian Academy of Sciences published Lilavati’s Daughters: The Women Scientists of India, a volume that chronicles the scientific careers of nearly one hundred Indian women.
- Aashima Dogra and Nandita Jayaraj established the website thelifeofscience.com in 2016 to tell the stories of women and non-binary people in India’s scientific community. It would also cast light on the constraints that discourage diversity at India’s most prestigious institutes and laboratories.
Women scientists of India
• Anandibai Joshi (India’s first woman physician), Janaki Ammal (first Indian scientist to receive the Padma Shri Award in 1977), Iravati Karve (India’s first woman anthropologist), Kamala Sohonie (first Indian woman to obtain a PhD in a scientific field), Rajeshwari Chatterjee (First woman engineer from the state of Karnataka), Kalpana Chawla (first astronaut of Indian origin to enter space),
What are the obstacles that hold women back?
- Familial issues:
- Lack of representation, deeply entrenched patriarchy.
- Women tend to drop out when they marry or have children.
- Institutional Issues:
- Workplaces with poor working conditions and sexual harassment.
- Drop at the post-doctoral level:
- We have observed a robust level of participation (of women) up to the postgraduate level. However, there is a decline at the post-doctoral level, where the majority of research is conducted.
- Participation in IIT’s:
- The rate of women’s participation is particularly low across the five IITs in Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, and Roorkee ranging from 9% to 14%.
Measures Taken by the Government
- Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI):
- It is a Department of Science and Technology pilot initiative to promote gender equality in science and technology.
- DST has selected 30 educational and research institutes for the first phase of GATI, with an emphasis on women’s participation in leadership positions, faculty, and the number of women students and researchers.
- Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN):
- The Department of Science and Technology has a strategy to encourage women scientists and prevent them from abandoning research due to family obligations.
- SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research):
- SERB – POWER provides structured research support to assure equal access and weighted opportunities for Indian women scientists engaged in R&D.
- SERB POWER Fellowships and SERB POWER Research Grants provide support for women scientists’ research and development.
- Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE) Programme:
- Women-only universities are supported for the development of research infrastructure and the establishment of cutting-edge research laboratories in order to increase women’s participation in the S & T domain.
- Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine):
- It encourages Indian women scientists and technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in the USA for a duration of 3-6 months.
- Vigyan Jyoti Scheme:
- It encourages girls in Classes 9 through 12 to pursue education and careers in science and technology, particularly in underrepresented fields.
- National Award for woman scientist:
- In order to recognize the contribution of women scientists in the field of Earth System Sciences, the Ministry of Earth Sciences has instituted a special award known as the “National Award for woman scientist,” which is presented annually on the Foundation Day to one woman scientist.
- Setting up of creches:
- Some institutions are establishing creches to allow scientist mothers to continue their research without interruption.
• For a better destiny, we must empower women in STEM fields, as it enables women to pursue their dreams, and science, businesses, society, and therefore nations, stand to benefit greatly from their equal representation.