Delimitation Exercise of Assam
Context:The Election Commission of India has just started the process of delineating Assembly and Parliamentary seats in Assam.
About delimitation exercise in Assam:
- The previous delimitation of seats in Assam was done in 1976 by the then-Delimitation Commission using census statistics from 1971.
- The Centre notified a Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland in March 2020.
- Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland is permitted under Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act.
- Assam’s population was 1.46 crore in 1971.
- In 2001, it was 2.66 crore, while in 2011, it was 3.12 crore.
Current status of representation:
- The state has 14 Lok Sabha seats, 126 Assembly seats, and 7 Rajya Sabha seats.
- The current Assam Legislative Assembly’s tenure will conclude on May 20, 2026.
The EC’s procedure and directives:
- The procedure will be based on 2001 Census data.
- The Commission will consider the following factors throughout the delimitation process:
The physical features,
- Existing administrative unit borders, communication facilities, public convenience, and, to the greatest extent possible, constituencies shall be retained as geographically confined areas.
- The EC also issued a regulation prohibiting the construction of new administrative units in the state beginning January 1 next year and lasting until the state’s delimitation process is completed.
Issues & criticisms:
- The state opposition is asking why the delimitation effort is based on the 2001 Census rather than the 2011 Census.
- According to opponents, the 2011 Census statistics are accessible, and the 2021 Census procedure must also be taken into consideration in order to carry out the delimitation process.
- Concerned pressure groups advocated for a halt to delimitation until the NRC was completed.
- Census numbers (2001) shall be utilised for the purpose of readjustment of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in the State, as specified by Article 170 of the Constitution.
- Seats shall be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in accordance with Articles 330 and 332 of the Indian Constitution.
More about the Delimitation Commission:
- In India, the Delimitation Commission is a powerful organisation whose decisions have legal effect.
- Its orders are not subject to challenge in any court.
- These orders will take effect on a date to be determined by the President of India.
- Copies of its orders are presented before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no changes are permitted.
Article 82: This provides the Parliament with the authority to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census.
Article 170: This provides for the States to get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
- To define the number and borders of constituencies in such a way that, to the greatest extent possible, the population of all seats is the same.
- Identifying seats allocated for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in areas with a big population.
- When members of the Commission disagree, the will of the majority takes precedence.
The President of India appoints the following members to the Delimitation Commission:
- Former Supreme Court justice
- Chief Electoral Officer
- State Election Commissioners, please.
- In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times:
- In 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952
- In 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962
- In 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972
- In 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
Source: The Hindu
CAG Report on the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
Context:A recent audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) on the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam revealed major errors.
The anomalies include the following:
- “haphazard creation” of software for the exercise, making it vulnerable to data manipulation, and flagging undue gains of crores acquired by the system integrator (SI) by breaking the Minimum Wage Act.
National Register of Citizens (NRC):
- It was invented in Assam in 1951.
- The goal was to identify persons born in India as well as migrants from the former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
What was the NRC’s requirement?
- It basically proposes enacting laws that will allow the government to identify infiltrators who have been residing in India illegally, imprison them, and eventually deport them back to their home country.
- Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, on the other hand, will not be harmed if they claim to have come to India to escape religious persecution.
- It effectively indicates that if the proposed countrywide NRC is implemented, every illegal immigrant from a country other than Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Bangladesh will be impacted.
- People from those three countries who are Muslim will be affected as well, because they are not covered in the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Supreme Court Directive (2013):
- It was provided to the Centre and the State to begin the process of updating the 1951 registration in Assam.
- The ruling was issued in response to a petition submitted by an NGO called Assam Public Works.
Final List of NRC:
- It was released in 2019 and includes the names of persons who may demonstrate their Indian citizenship by being Assamese inhabitants or ancestors of Assamese residents prior to March 25, 1971.
- According to the Assam Accord of August 1985, it was the deadline for expulsion of immigrants.
- A total of 19.06 lakh persons were rejected out of 3.3 crore applications owing to a lack of appropriate documentation to verify their citizenship.
- The procedure is now on hold since the Registrar General of India (RGI) has not to announce the final list.
- The project’s completion date was set for February 2015, and the estimated cost was?288.18 crore.
- Due to the additional time required to finish it and modifications in the update software, the cost has increased fivefold until March 2022.
- A review of documents uncovered inconsistencies in the use of funds, including excessive and illegal payments to suppliers.
- The pay provided to the outsourced personnel were 45.59%-64.27% less than what the NRC coordinating committee agreed.
- The SC-directed exercise required secure and dependable software, yet as many as 215 software utilities were added to the main programme. This was done without following the proper software development and vendor selection procedures through tendering.
- Wipro Limited should face criminal charges for breaking the rules of the Minimum Wage Act and paying data operators less than the minimum wage.
- For “excessive, irregular, and inadmissible payments,” action should be taken against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR).
- Fixing responsibility of the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) as the major employer for “not guaranteeing compliance with the Minimum Wage Act”.
Source: The Hindu
Changes in India’s Foreign Policy
Context:India has commemorated 75 years of independent foreign policy and its significance in global architecture.
- The Panchsheel Agreement, signed in 1954, the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty in 1971, the India-Sri Lanka Accord in 1987, and India’s nuclear tests in 1998 all had an impact on India’s foreign policy.
- The world hailed India’s economic liberalisation period under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao (1991-96).
- Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s stronger foreign policy (1998-2004).
- During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s early years, the country saw near-double-digit growth (2004-14).
Drawbacks of previous policies:
- It has been India’s weakest link in its overseas interaction.
- While India was liberated from the constraints of the “Hindu pace of growth” in the post-Cold War period, it was nonetheless plagued by an equally vexing “Indian rate of policymaking,” which was founded in bureaucratic lethargy and inadequate inter-ministerial cooperation.
- The Nehruvian era was preoccupied with idealistic objectives and uninterested with developing armed capabilities capable of coping with difficult neighbours such as Pakistan and China.
- According to the International Monetary Fund, India will overtake the United Kingdom as the world’s fifth biggest economy in 2022.
Highlights in foreign policy this year along with its challenges:
- On the geopolitical and diplomatic scene, India had a challenging year as the options became increasingly difficult given its strategic relationships with the United States and Europe, as well as longstanding ties with Russia.
- India also chastised Western governments for their “hypocrisy” about Russian oil deliveries to India.
- A series of sanctions aimed at the Russian economy by the West resulted in food and fuel shortages and price rises, which concerned India.
- However, India chose to abstain from more than a dozen resolutions at the United Nations Security Council, United Nations General Assembly, International Atomic Energy Agency, Human Rights Commission, and other multilateral platforms seeking to condemn Russia for the invasion and humanitarian crisis.
- The recent foundation of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council, making India the second country after the United States to have such a platform.
- The participation of India in the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which tries to diversify supply chains away from China, is critical in this context.
- The Indian government continues to face criticism for its China policy and the standoff along the Line of Actual Control.
- Despite a visit to India by China’s Foreign Minister and disengagement at several stand-off areas, India-China tensions at the Line of Actual Control remained high, and the year ended with a failed Chinese PLA effort to capture Indian installations at Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh.
- According to the United Nations, India will overtake China as the world’s most populated country in 2023.
- India is in the spotlight as it assumes the leadership of the G-20.
- The G-20 leadership aided India’s multipolar vision and the formation of a viable cooperation among states that, above all, advances the Indo-peace Pacific’s and development.
- Among other significant concerns, India is anticipated to emphasise climate change transitions, “women-led” development, and multilateral reform.
United Nations Security Council:
- India served on the United Nations Security Council for two years.
- India just assumed the chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
- The Shanghai Five (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan) became the SCO.
- With the accession of India and Pakistan in 2017, the SCO developed to become one of the largest international organisations, accounting for about 30% of global GDP and 40% of global population.
Act East Policy:
- The strategy was implemented in the early 1990s as part of an effort to prioritise Southeast Asia (and later East Asia and the larger Indo-Pacific region) in India’s foreign policy goals.
- Regional integration in India has always been dependent on the country’s domestic reform programme.
Revival of FTA’s:
- The Indian government has recently been aggressively negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with a diverse variety of countries.
- India has negotiated trade treaties with the UAE and Australia, and intends to advance discussions with the EU, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Canada.
Relations with neighbours:
- Economic support to Sri Lanka during its collapse was a defining feature of India’s foreign policy.
- Regional trade and energy agreements with Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal might pave the way for the establishment of a South Asian energy grid.
- India has also expanded connectivity relations with Central Asian nations.
- The administration maintained contact with oppressive regimes like as Afghanistan’s Taliban and Myanmar’s Junta.
- India has avoided any criticism in Iran, where protests after the execution of campaigner MahsaAmini have drawn thousands to the streets.
- Relations with Pakistan remain strained, despite a major clash at the United Nations recently between India’s Foreign Minister and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister.
Initiatives of the Government:
- Campaigns by the government: These improvements have been aided by the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat programmes, both of which aim to improve the resilience and competitiveness of Indian industry.
- Government assistance programmes, such as production-linked incentives, which support the development of national champions in strategically important sectors, and the Gati Shakti National Masterplan for Multi-Modal Connectivity, which aims to improve last-mile infrastructure connectivity, have aided in this.
- India aspires to dominate the ‘Global South,’ which includes the developing worlds of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
- India’s foreign minister recently stated in his book that his country is increasingly being likened to Krishna because it weighs all options before deciding on the best one.
- India’s foreign policy has always been focused on the goals of diplomacy, peace, and developing national and global consensus.
- It prefers to forecast greater synergy with states that have common aims such as preserving civil treaties and laws, supporting global peace, battling terrorism and political violence, and laying the groundwork for a peaceful and prosperous world.
Source: The Hindu
Context:The Make in India and Ease of Doing Business policies were developed because Prime Minister Narendra Modi accurately thought that only fast expansion in the manufacturing sector could alleviate the issues of poverty and unemployment. Despite these efforts, manufacturing has yet to see a major boost in growth. Investments in the industry continue to be insufficient.
Background: India’s manufacturing industry
- Individuals create strategies and plans for implementation, as well as carry them out. Repeated failures in this area highlight the importance of uncovering the core causes of why present employees responsible with policy implementation have failed.
What should IAS officers’ roles be in manufacturing?
- To achieve worldwide levels of cost and quality competitiveness in the sector, officials working in policy-making areas in the federal and state governments must grasp how laws, rules, and processes affect industrial competitiveness.
- They should be aware of the numerous ways in which they increase or decrease production costs.
- They must understand the significance of demand generation in allowing industry to reach economies of scale, as well as how policy stability is essential for corporations to undertake long-term investments.
What should be done?
- Profitability and the production of internal resources for expansion must be understood.
- This is only feasible if the relevant civil employees in the ministries have in-depth understanding of the manufacturing sector and understand that the government and businesses must collaborate and trust each other.
Can IAS officers do this function? What are the difficulties?
· While policies are generally developed in Delhi, much of the implementation is carried out in the states.
· Because of our history of solely trusting the public sector and distrusting the private sector, effective implementation has become complicated.
· Many of the legislation and processes were founded on private-sector industrialists’ distrust.
· Similarly, the British-inherited system of checks and balances is founded on suspicion of government officials, leading implementers to prioritise processes and proper paperwork above generating outcomes.
· When it comes to financial difficulties, civil officials are often unfriendly to the private sector. As a result, there are extended delays, greater expenses, and a loss of competitiveness.
How can IAS officers be better prepared to deal with the industrial sector?
- We must change our human resource development system to align it with best global standards.
- A wing be established in the Department of Personnel and Training, as well as its state counterparts. This should be staffed by human resource development specialists whose duty it would be to choose officers from the IAS and other services based on ability and educate them to create and implement manufacturing and industrial development plans.
- Officers might be chosen after they have served for around ten years. Following that, selected officers would need to be taught and assigned to assignments that would allow them to obtain additional knowledge and experience. This might entail officers being sent to chosen private enterprises to gain real-world experience.
- They would then have a greater understanding of the nuances of competing in the marketplace.
- Officers who have received such training should not be transferred to other fields. Professionals might conduct periodic evaluations to identify people capable of progressing to the highest levels to make policies and strategies.
Case Study of Maruti
· In Japan, a technique that was used in Maruti was to decouple compensation scales from work duties.
· The best candidate for a position is chosen, yet his compensation did not increase when he took on more duties, even if his title changed.
IAS officers can generate outcomes provided they are motivated, trained, and given the opportunity to work in their area of specialty. The higher civil service recruiting mechanism assures high-quality recruits. However, this does not guarantee success when applying for positions that need specific expertise and experience. They must be appropriately trained to operate in the manufacturing industry.
Source: Indian Express
Green Hydrogen Industry
Context:In order to reduce emissions and become a significant export player in the area, the government is developing a $2 billion incentive scheme for the green hydrogen industry.
What exactly is Green Hydrogen?
- Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas created by electrolysis of water.
- It is an energy-intensive technique that uses renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
- Green hydrogen now costs between $300 and $400 per kilogramme in India.
Background Information about Hydrogen Energy
- In comparison to hydrocarbons, which have net carbon content in the range of 75-85 percent, hydrogen is a significant source of energy since it has zero carbon content and is a non-polluting source of energy.
- Hydrogen energy is intended to cut carbon emissions, which are expected to increase by 1.5 billion tonnes by 2021.
- It has the most energy by weight and the least amount of energy by volume.
- According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen will account for 6% of global energy use by 2050.
- Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it has significant potential to help in the shift from hydrocarbons to renewables.
Why is hydrogen used?
- Hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odourless, tasteless, colourless, and highly flammable diatomic gas at ordinary temperature and pressure.
- When combined with oxygen, hydrogen fuel produces no emissions. It is suitable for use in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. It is also utilised as a propulsion fuel for spaceships.
- Natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind may all be used to generate hydrogen.
- India is devoted to environmental and climatic causes, with a strong emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- This would be the major enabler of the change. That is why the arrival of hydrogen at the forefront is a good development.
- Hydrocarbons such as natural gas, oil, and coal can be used to make commercially viable hydrogen using methods such as steam methane reforming, partial oxidation, and coal gasification.
- Water, sunshine, and wind may be converted into energy by electrolysis, photolysis, and other thermo-chemical processes.
How is Green Hydrogen generated?
- Green hydrogen is commonly created from water nowadays using electrolysis, a method that employs an electric current to divide water into its component components of hydrogen and oxygen.
- This is accomplished with the help of an electrolyzer, which consists of a cathode and an anode (positively and negatively charged electrodes).
- As a byproduct of this process, only oxygen – or steam – is produced.
- To qualify as “green hydrogen,” the electricity utilised for electrolysis must be derived from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy.
- Green hydrogen generation is now two to three times more costly than blue hydrogen production.
How can green hydrogen be put to use?
· Hydrogen may be utilised in a variety of ways. It may either be burned to generate heat or fed into a fuel cell to generate electricity.
· Electric vehicles powered by hydrogen
· Container ships propelled with hydrogen-based liquid ammonia
· Green steel refineries use hydrogen as a heat source instead of coal.
· Hydrogen-powered energy turbines that can generate electricity during high demand periods to assist stabilise the power system
Green Hydrogen Production Difficulties
- The transition of India to a green hydrogen economy (GHE) is only possible if certain major concerns are solved.
- GHE is dependent on the development of a supply chain that begins with the fabrication of electrolysers and ends with the generation of green hydrogen from a renewable energy source.
- Green hydrogen necessitates the construction of electrolyzers on a bigger scale than has hitherto been observed.
- Extreme pressures or extreme temperatures are necessary, both of which provide technical challenges.
- Because of its low ignition energy and high combustion energy, it is dangerous.
- Although automotive fuels are very combustible, a vehicle packed with hydrogen is more likely to be vulnerable in the event of a catastrophic accident.
- To become competitive, the price of green hydrogen per kilogramme must be reduced to a benchmark of $2/kg. Green hydrogen can compete with natural gas at current costs.
- To fulfil global standards, green hydrogen requires a massive quantity of electricity, which means a massive increase in wind and solar power.
- There are just 500 hydrogen stations in the world. Only a few manufacturers are market participants in this technology.
- User acceptability and societal awareness are low. Creating after-sales support for hydrogen technologies.
Policy and Economic Difficulties
- One of the most significant obstacles for the business in commercialising hydrogen is the economic sustainability of harvesting green or blue hydrogen.
- Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technologies, for example, are in their early stages of development.
- These technologies are costly, which raises the cost of hydrogen generation and necessitates significant investment, putting economic strain on the government.
- Maintenance expenses for fuel cells once a facility is completed might be high.
- Mechanisms for certification, recommendations, and requirements for various system components.
- Hydrogen energy is still in its early stages of development, but it offers enormous promise for facilitating India’s energy transformation.
- The new strategy offers a vision for the future that may help the country not only decrease carbon emissions but also diversify its energy portfolio and minimise dependency on foreign sources.
- India’s transformation can serve as a model for the rest of the globe in terms of achieving energy security without jeopardising the objective of sustainable development.
- The GoI must vigorously pursue the goal of establishing a GHE in order to establish India as a worldwide manufacturing powerhouse and to position itself at the top of the green hydrogen export market.