Sunday, 4 September 2016

All You Need to Know – NJAC

There had been a lot of hue and cry over the constitution of NJAC (National Judicial Appointment Commission). Antagonists argued that it will curtail the independence of the judiciary and the executive i.e. the government will decide the nitty-gritties of the legal system in India. It was considered as a threat to independent judicial system due to apprehensions regarding politicisation of Justice System. Therefore, the importance of this issue lies in few important questions:
  1. Has Judicial activism in the past few years led the political class to interfere?
  2. Whether we are following the concept of division of power between the legislature, judiciary and executive effectively?
  3. Whether Judiciary itself is accountable to anyone?
  4. What are the options available to find a middle path?
For understanding all these things, it is necessary to know about the historical premise

Background of NJAC

The constitution states that CJI shall be appointed by the President and other such judges shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Further it states that apart from consulting Chief Justice of India, the President may consult such of the judges of Supreme Court and High Court while appointing other Judges of Supreme Court.
The SC in SP Gupta vs UOI 1982 held that the opinion expressed by Chief Justice of India under Art 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1) was mere consultation and it was not binding on president. The court held that consultation “does not mean concurrence with the CJI”. And the court also held that a judge of HC can be transferred even against his will. But all consultations with the JI shall be full and effective.
However in SCARA vs UOI 1993, the SC over ruled its earlier decision and held that appointment of Judges to SC and HC is an integrated participatory and consultative exercise to select the most suitable person. Therefore the opinion expressed by Chief Justice of India under all above three articles shall enjoy primacy.
The CJI is the sole authority to initiate the process of appointment of Judges to the SC. He shares this responsibility with the Chief Justice of HC while appointing and transferring the judges of HC. The opinion expressed by CJI is not his personal opinion but the opinion of Judiciary as a whole. Therefore while forming his opinion, CJI must consult at least two of the senior most Judges of SC. All such consultation by CJI shall be in writing. In the event of any contrary opinion between constitutional authorities (President and CJI), the opinion of Judiciary expressed through CJI will prevail over that of president.
In Re-appoitment of Judges 1998 case, the SC in its advisory opinion further clarified the legal position on this issue. It stated that the sole opinion of CJI does not constitute consultation as per the above articles. While forming his opinion, CJI must consult at least 4 senior most judges of SC and transfer the judges of HC.
Therefore, there was a group of Judges including CJI (known as Collegium) that had completely bypassed the President by making the latter only a signatory authority.

Present Status of NJAC

The collegium system was questioned on various grounds leading the government to introduce the constitutional amendment act for the constitution of NJAC
  1. There is lack of transparency in the collegium. It is based on personal affiliations and nepotism. A judge having bad relations with the CJI and such judges of SC in the collegium was not recommended despite being meritorious.
  2. The working is fully opaque. The public used to get the names of Judges promoted or transfers only after it is published in the gazette.
  3. As there are a lot of pending cases and rise of judicial activism (Public Interest Litigations) , the collegium itself is not able to meet properly and thus there has been a rise in the number of vacancies in the higher courts.
  4. The Supreme Court in its Judgement of 1993 has held that the word “consultation” is actually “concurrence”. This means that SC ended up changing the constitution itself which is the sole prerogative of parliament/legislature.
After a lot of debate and discussions including Judges appointment model in other countries; the government brought 99th Constitutional Amendment Act which seeks to establish National Judicial Appointment Commission, henceforth called as NJAC.
A new Article, Article 124A provides for the composition of the NJAC. The NJAC would have consisted of:
(i) Chief Justice of India (Chairperson)
(ii) Two senior most Supreme Court Judges
(iii) The Union Minister of Law and Justice
(iv) Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minster of India and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha)
Of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the SC/ST/OBC/minority communities or be a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.
The Supreme Court struck down the above constitutional amendment on the basis of violation of basic structure of constitution and stated that it violates the principle of separation of power. Antagonists also argue that it will lead to political colours to appointment of Judges. However, they oversee the provision that states that the Chief Justice and two senior-most judges – can veto any name proposed for appointment to a judicial post if they do not approve of it. Once a proposal is vetoed, it cannot be revived. Therefore Judicial independence is maintained. Further, the eminent members appointed are selected by a committee that itself contains CJI and leader of opposition which will do away with any nepotism or political affiliation to the eminent person. Therefore NJAC is one of the great ideas that has been struck down.
Whether NJAC is fool proof and What are the modifications to be made??
So, does it mean that NJAC was fool proof in term of Judicial Appointments? The answer would be a big “No”. The NJAC itself has a few flaws except that it maintains transparency in the appointment and transfer of Judges with due consultation and representation of all the three pillars of the democratic state.
The NJAC will be a great alternative to collegium system if certain changes are made:
  1. The eminent person in the present NJAC does not have any judicial background as a qualification and thus their eminence and expertise can be questioned by others while evaluating a candidate for appointment as a Judge.
  2. The present NJAC system does not call for open competitive merit based applications but rather will select Judges from a list of candidates that have already been under consideration. Therefore, it should be changed to open invitation to all the Judges.
  3. The NJAC, like collegium lacks a secretariat which will act as a back end body to conduct inspection about the Judges and evaluate them on the basis of their past work, Judgements rendered and experience. Therefore a proper secretariat should be made that will provide support to the NJAC.
In lieu of all these things, there are chances that the opaqueness around the collegium and opposition to the NJAC will go away. The backlog of vacancies borne out of transfer and retirement of Judges may also become a thing of the past and will usher in a path of better justice system.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Water Crisis



According to UN report, 1.8 billion people will face absolute water scarcity and 2/3 of the world will be under water stressed conditions by 2025. Water scarcity is when an individual does not have access to safe and affordable water to satisfy her or his needs for drinking, washing or for their day to day life. 

As per World Water Development Report released on World Water Day, there will be a knock down supply of water in sub Saharan Africa and Southeast Asian countries. "Unless the balance between demand and supplies is restored, the world will face an increasingly severe global water crisis," the report says. 




Water scarcity is both a natural and a human-made occurrence. Among the handful factors which lead to water scarcity population growth, industrialization and urbanization are the leading ones. Freshwater on the earth is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.








The data shown below discusses the distribution of water on the earth.

                        
                            


Given that only around 2.5% of the Earth's water is Freshwater. Rest of the water is saline or salt water, mostly found in the oceans. Of the 2.5% of freshwater available for the needs of human life, agriculture, and others, 30.1% is groundwater.

Groundwater is the water stored deep beneath the earth's surface in underground aquifers. Another 68.6% of all freshwater is stored in glaciers and polar caps. Hence only 1.3% of the total freshwater is available on earth in the form of lakes, rivers, and streams upon which human beings and other species rely upon for their biological and economical needs. Again most of the surface water on earth i.e., around 73.1% is found in snow and ice. Surface water found in lakes, rivers and streams accounts for just over another 20%.

Water use has been rapidly growing more than the rate of population growth. Over the last few decades, the rate of demand for water is double the rate of population growth. By 2050, the U.N. projects the global population at 9.1 billion people. 

The most recent WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring program for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) biennial report which aimed towards providing drinking water and basic sanitation under Millennium Development Goal 7 met its target of halving the proportion of such population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation between 1990 and 2015. However, an estimated 780 million still lacked safe drinking water in 2010, and the world is unlikely to meet the MDG sanitation target. 

Around 2,590 farmers in Maharashtra committed suicide in the year 2015. There is no water to drink and to irrigate their fields. The fact remains that severe water stress affecting 1/3 of the world's population is expected to double to 2/3 by 2025 and the people living in river basin areas where the use of water exceeds the supply side will face huge scarcity.

The consensus is that the availability of water will remain same as it is now a days but there will be far more people on the planet which will lead to reduction in the availability of freshwater for all uses and uneven distribution of water across the globe.

The main areas which will have more effect of this are the equatorial regions, which are already among the most water stressed areas. These areas are mostly dependent on rainfall rather than irrigation for agriculture and hence have the risk of crop failure. 

Climate change also has a negative effect on the water supply. Increasing temperatures cause higher evaporation from open freshwater sources which reduce the surface water available for agriculture and household purposes. Some water flows into streams and rivers, taking a greater part of the available water.

FAO estimates that 70% of the world's water is used for agricultural purposes. Water demand is increasing to meet food security in high consumption areas. One recent study revealed that in some places energy production might overtake agriculture as the primary user of water. Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity, a 2012 report by River Network attempts to summarize what is known about the water footprint of various modes of electrical power production. Electricity production by coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants have exceeded their use of freshwater in U.S., accounting for more than about half of fresh surface water from rivers and lakes.

Few solutions to change the face of this crisis is to first educate the people to change the form of consumption of water. Innovating new water conservation technologies. There has been a lot of work in the world of water conservation, but there is also a lot that needs to be done in order to ensure that not only India but rest of the world is able to conserve water.

Every household should build underground storage for rain water. Recycling of waste water and improving irrigation can help close supply and demand gaps. There is no model in India that shows best ways to tackle the waste water generated through the industrial and domestic sectors. Appropriate pricing of water should be done. According to experts from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), raising prices will help lower waste and pollution.

Governments need to redefine their role and enact better policies and regulations, while improving distribution infrastructures and also addressing pollution of water. Only by changing today’s approach to future water management and water productivity, can we ensure a prosperous future. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Sociology : Paper 1 Notes


Sociology is a vast and very interesting subject. Paper 1 consisting of various theories and chapters is related to studies in general perspective unlike Paper 2 which deals specifically with the Indian perspective of sociological studies. 

So, here I am uploading some of my notes that I have typed and copied as well from various sources and compiled them at a single place. These are chapter wise and may not help you clear all your doubts regarding the paper 1.






1. Sociology - The Discipline 


2. Sociology as Science

3. Research Methods and Analysis:

4. Politics and Society:


5. Religion and Society:


6. Social Change in Modern Society






Sources:
1. Mahapatra Sir Notes
2. www.sociologyguide.com
2. Personal notes

Disclaimer
The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Sahil Garg and while I endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the blog or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the blog for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
In no event will I be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this blog.
Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of me. I have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.
Every effort is made to keep the blog up and running smoothly. However, I take no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

WORK PROFILE OF AN AAO IN LIFE INSURANCE CORPORATION OF INDIA.


The AAO exam of LIC conducted by IBPS is around the corner and there have been many questions inter-alia regarding the job profile, major promotional avenues and comparison with banks. Firstly, one should know about LIC as an organisation for that. It is the only Life Insurer in India that is fully owned by the Government of India. The Life Insurance Corporation of India was founded in 1956 when the Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act that nationalised the private insurance industry in India. Over 245 insurance companies and provident societies were merged to create the state owned Life Insurance Corporation.

The organisation has a 4 tier structure and a fifth tier has been added for micro insurance later. At the helm is Central Office, based in Mumbai and then 8 Zonal Offices followed by various Divisional Offices at different locations. The fourth tier is the main coming out of the fact that most of newly recruited AAO will be posted at the fourth tier known as Branch Office and it is here that he/she will be given the independent charge of a particular department.






Departments

In a branch office, there are generally viz a viz Sales, New Business, Policy Service, Claims, Accounts, Office Service and IT departments. The first four are the front end departments and directly deal with the people at large and next three are the back end departments that mainly cater to the needs of employees and daily business of the branch.

Sales:
The sales department has under its jurisdiction, in a layman term, all agents and Development Officers. Generally an Asstt Branch Manager (ABM), having designation equivalent to an AAO, is the head of the department. However, in case of his/her absence, an AAO is also given additional or independent responsibility.

New Business
This is the department where the agent brings the policy for the first time and AAO will be the authority having full discretion whether to accept any insurance or not. You also have discretion regarding charging extra premium on the basis of non-fulfilment of certain conditions. If you have good relations, you generally waive such things on recommendation of Branch Manager.

Policy Servicing
This is the most important department in the sense that, it really helps the common man. Many times the policy premiums are not paid leading to lapsation of policy or people want loan for something. As an officer, you can really help people in this and fast track the things. It is the busiest of all the departments on all days.

Claims Deptt
This department has main work at the end of the month or if any death claim arises. Most of the business of LIC comes in the month end or beginning and thus claims are settled accordingly. However, your vigil and pro-active approach can help you, as an officer in settling things over a period of time as well so as to reduce last minute rush

Accounts deptt
It basically helps in overseeing all the payments made or received and any financial and accounting thing happening in the branch. It is a bit cumbersome and an accounts person is almost the last to leave the office.

Office Service
Office Service department deals with personnel matters such as salary disbursement, income tax deduction, billing etc. Therefore, you are considered the most responsible person in terms of personal benefits.

IT Deptt
IT department generally does not have any AAO at the branch level but they do have AAO at divisional office level.


Training

The training of an AAO consists of 9 months of theoretical and practical training at any of the Zonal Training Centre (ZTC). One MDC (Management Development Centre) at Mumbai has been closed for AAO training. The training is subdivided into 3 sub parts
  • 3 Months Theoretical training at any of the ZTC where you will be attending classes as full salaried employee and will have all benefits like lodging and boarding free of cost.
  • 3 Months Practical Training at any branch office in that zone. Guest houses will be provided to you and each week you’ll go to a different department altogether and learn about everything. Full salary and benefits will be given including meal coupons.
  • 3 Months Theoretical Training: In this, you will again be back to your ZTC and you will present whatever you have learnt and also you will be given a refresher on whatever you did in previous theoretical training.

After all this, you will be absorbed as an officer and will be sent to any branch on preference and on the basis of the availability of vacancies.

Hierarchical Gradation.

There are two branches of LIC personnel department, one is AAO (known as Administration side) and the other is ADO/DO (known as marketing side). Agents are not considered as employees of the organization in terms of they being non-permanent. Both the Administration side and the Marketing side converge at the fourth level of AAO promotion i.e. at DM/MM.

For example, there for DO (Group B), the promotion level is

DO à ABM (Astt Branch Manager) à BM à SrBM (Senior Branch Manager) and convergence.
For AAO (Group A), the promotion level is like
AAO à AO à ADM à DM and convergence






Comparison between LIC and Other Banks

  • Salary: The “in hand” salary of LIC is much more than what a normal Bank PO gets. Further, even if you take the salary of SBI PO after 4 increments, the salary of LIC is more. Further, in first nine months of training, you can just enjoy life as LIC will borne the whole expenditure which is not there in any other bank.
  • Work Pressure: The pressure in LIC AAO is far far less than any other bank except on month end and beginning and year end. Further, on a daily basis, one may go bome by maximum 6pm and you need not worry about anything. Generally public dealing is done till 3pm and after that many departments are not loaded as such.
  • Promotion: This is one of the negative points of LIC given the fact that promotions are not based on any exam and not as fast as banks. It takes almost 5-6 years minimum for any AAO to reach AO.
  • Perks: The perks of LIC AAO are not equivalent to other banks. However, you will not feel the same as that is only a meager amount. Further, LIC Employee association is in talks with higher authorities and better perks will be given in a short span of time.
  • Postings: You’ll most probably get nearby home postings though you will not be able to commute on a daily basis. Certain cases may be there where they will throw you at any far end.
  • Other benefits like good contacts because of large agent base and respect is equivalent to the banks or may be more than that.


Disclaimer:
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Sahil Garg and while I endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, I make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Economic Survey: Chapter 1

The Budgetary process is ongoing and the government has launched Economic Survey. It is one of the cardinal documents because:

  1. It gives a detailed explanation of what all has happened in the recent past year and what can be the future strategies of the government of India. For example, the present economic survey launched 3 days back focussed on the various new schemes started by government like Jan Dhan Yojna and progress made on Aadhar and linking it with LPG subsidies.
  2. It also focuses on the business sense of the policy making and maintaining a sound investment climate for the domestic as well as foreign investors. The survey mentioned about the steps taken in terms of “ease of doing business” and removing the unpredictability surrounding the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT). Steps like these really help improve investor sentiments.
  3. The survey also talks about certain failures like non implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) & elusive disinvestment targets.
  4. The survey is all round document that also focuses on sustainability goals and climate change; new & renewable energy strategies and social and physical infrastructure development that can ead to a new growth story.


The Present article will discuss various chapters of Economic survey in a crisp and eloquent manner in order to give a glimpse to the aspirants about the socio-economic dimension of India. The first chapter deals with Economic Outlook, Prospect and Policy Challenges.

The chapter talks about the present situation of the country w.r.t. the word and what can be the future prospects with regard to policy, growth and all such economic indicators. According to survey, India has a stable macro-economic credentials despite having an overall slowdown in the world economy due to extreme events (that may be, China’s deceleration, Brent oil price crash etc). For sustaining India’s growth story, certain efforts in the form of “reform to transform” shall be taken by the government like fiscal consolidation and incremental growth output through a series of measures.

  1. The economy’s performance with respect to other countries and wrt to its own mid term potential has been encouraging with a fair and steady progress on these fronts, respectively. This is despite the fact that exports have declined due to weak global demand and declining private investment.
  2. This performance is borne out of the fact that corruption has declined palpably due to transparent auction of public assets and non interference by the government. Liberalisation of most of sectors especially insurance has also felicitated this potential. Other efforts include, ease of doing business, fast-track settlement of MAT cases, new public investment program like infrastructure scheme, crop insurance scheme, JAM (Jhan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile), eliminating LPG subsidy to cash based subsidy, new power sector reforms like UDAY scheme etc.
  3. However, certain things like GST remain elusive while the balance sheet of banks is a matter of concern. The rationalization of subsidies has not been achieved fully and substantial population has not given LPG subsidy voluntarily while disinvestment remains a bigger challenge. These factors are creating an impediment to the growth structure of economy which has a potential of 8-10% growth.


For achieving this potential, India needs a push in the form of various initiatives. Though the image of the government has changed from a regulator to facilitator and economy is now a market oriented one to large extent, there is still less competition in the market and entrepreneurship. Further, a well formalized industrial exit policy is required but bankruptcy law, rehabilitating stalled projects, and guidelines for public private partnerships that can help facilitate exit, are still in pipeline. The demographic dividend must be exploited and that requires investment in health and education.
Coming to geo-politics, there is a need for a cooperative federalism between centre and state where states formulate better service delivery mechanisms. India’s agriculture cannot be side-lined in the wake of better opportunities in manufacturing and services sector. The impact of climate change is visible and therefore requires re-orientation of current system of subsidies and incentives for equitable distribution.

India and External Outlook

India has not been impacted by the global turmoil to that extent. However, the risk and fragile outlook will have a complicate test of economic management (like fiscal consolidation, keeping interest rates lower for industrial growth and subsequent job creation). There has been an increase in the frequency of global crises. The intervals of crises like 2008 global slowdown, mini crises of 2013 and china’s provoked turbulence in 2015 direct towards the shortening of intervening time between crises. For having a hedge against such global turmoil, there is a need for more flexible exchange rate (Like China’s has played a card of keeping its currency depreciation in order to improve external outlook scenario leading to crises of China’s stock – it shall not happen) that could moderate the impact of such crises. Further, there is a need for major currency re-adjustment in Asia.

As the foreign demand is weak and thus exports have reduced, India need to find and focus on domestic sources of demand like local investment, new PPP models and consumption at household level. This will have an exponential impact of Indian economy as any external push and pull factors will have negligible impact on demand and supply side constraints. Further focus should be that Monetary Policy and Fiscal policy shall not add to deflationary impulses (this implies that the RBI shall keep interest rates low and the government shall focus on expansionary fiscal policy within the fiscal prudence limit).

India’s Context

The macro-economic resilience on Fiscal Deficit, Current Account Deficit and Inflation has been positive. The inflation has improved by 5.3% point due to steps taken by RBI. The Reserves have shown a minimal growth but can provide hedge against any currency bubble etc. The current account deficit is at confortable levels due to weak global crude oil prices which has remained at an average of $35/barrel and also poised to remain at a maximum of $45/ barrel in the upcoming year. In addition, remittances from gulf have remained consistent and more focus on “Act East Policy” has found good response.

The tax revenue both from direct ad non-tax has increased by almost 10%. The rationalisation of indirect tax structure through GST will open a new arena of tax reforms. The recommendations of 7th Central Pay Commission may add to inflationary pressure due to excess spending but it will also create demand in the local market for which India is thriving.


The Chapter also discusses about Agriculture and WTO agreement and SSM (Special Safeguard Mechanism) that will be discussed later with other Chapters. The trade policy also will be discussed in subsequent chapters.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

INDIA : An Emotion

While there are people debating freedom, nationalism and even whether our flag is anything more than a piece of cloth, there are brave souls fighting for the very nation that is taken for granted by most of us. Fighting for that small piece of cloth which many now feel isn’t so important. Singing that anthem within, for which standing up is being considered unnecessary today.  

While we demand freedom of expression as a fundamental right, we conveniently forget the fundamental duty of respecting the symbols of this Nation.

Constitution, laws and rules apart, where has the conscience of the people gone? Do we really need a written rule to salute the tricolour and stand up for the National Anthem?

It pains to even think that this country which has seen so many patriots born, live and die for its freedom, is now in this state- where political rivalries take the centre-stage pushing nationalism to the corner.

Amidst the debate of what nationalism is, everyone seems to be busy in reinforcing their political ideologies and settling their political scores, and the true sense of nationalism is dying its slow death. Conflicting ideologies and perspectives have overshadowed the common factor that unites us – INDIA. And we, as a society are collectively responsible for it.

The efforts taken to oppose the conflicting opinions easily overpower the efforts taken to justify one’s own. Constructive debates and criticisms have become a thing of the past, and this isn’t a healthy trend for a democratic nation.

We have failed to realise that this country is not about any single ideology or a person or even a political party for that matter. INDIA is an EMOTION. And that is precisely the thing which drives the armed forces at our borders to fight for this country without fear of death.




The current state of things makes one feel that the we Indians sitting within four walls of our homes and debating nationalism are literally emotionless about it. And unfortunately, emotions can neither be taught or enforced. Nor can patriotism be defined and preached, rather it shouldn’t be. They have to come from within.

As Oscar Wilde said - “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Let us not forget..Men may come, and men may go, but INDIA will remain forever.

Remembering Rabindranath Tagore’s beautiful words :

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

From a Proud Patriot.

Jai Hind.