Daily current Affairs 20.03.2021 (Taliban, MMDR amendment Bill, Global Hunger Index)

Daily current Affairs 20.03.2021 (Taliban, MMDR amendment Bill, Global Hunger Index)


1. ‘State resolutions on Central laws are fine’

Merely opinions, they don’t have force of law: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday prima facie found no harm in State Legislative Assemblies, such as those in Kerala and West Bengal, passing resolutions against Central laws like the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act or the new agriculture laws.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, said these resolutions are merely “opinions” of the majority members of a Legislative Assembly and do not have the force of law.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by a Rajasthan-based NGO, Samta Andolan Samiti, that said State Assemblies, such as of Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal, have no business passing resolutions against Central laws that come under the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

The Samiti, represented by senior advocate Saumya Chakraborty, asked the Supreme Court to quash the resolutions and declare them void. The hearing mostly focused on the resolution passed by the Kerala Assembly on December 31, 2019, criticising CAA as a law violating the right to equality. The Assembly had called upon the Centre to abrogate the CAA.

“It is the opinion of the majority in the Kerala Assembly… They have not told people to disobey the law, they have only told Parliament to abrogate the law. It is only an opinion and does not have the force of law,” Chief Justice Bobde addressed Mr. Chakraborty.

But the petitioner said that the Kerala Assembly should not be having an opinion whether the law is “good, bad or indifferent”.

60 petitions

“Since they (State Assemblies) cannot make laws on the subjects in the Union List, they cannot also have a casual opinion on them,” Mr. Chakraborty argued.

He said the Resolution was made even as about 60 petitions were pending in the Supreme Court against the CAA.

“We are with you if you say that Kerala Assembly has no jurisdiction to set aide the law made by Parliament. But do they have no right to express an opinion?” Chief Justice Bobde asked.

The senior lawyer said the Kerala Assembly procedure is clear in mandating that the House should not pass a resolution in matters which do not concern the State.

“How can you say this is not a concern of the state?” the CJI asked.

The court adjourned the case for four weeks, asking the petitioner to do further research on the issue.

Seventh Schedule of Indian Constitution – Article 246 (UPSC Indian Polity Notes)

The 7th Schedule of the Indian Constitution deals with the division of powers between the Union government and State governments. It is a part of 12 Schedules of Indian Constitution. The division of powers between Union and State is notified through three kinds of the list mentioned in the seventh schedule:

  1. Union List – List I
  2. State List – List II
  3. Concurrent List – List III

The key features of Union List, State List & Concurrent List are mentioned in the tables below:

7th Schedule of Indian Constitution – Union List
It originally had 97 subjects. Now, it has 100 subjects
Centre has exclusive powers to makes laws on the subjects mentioned under the Union List of Indian Constitution
The Union List signifies the strong centre as it has more subjects than state list
It contains more important subjects than included in any of the other two lists
All the issues/matters that are important for the nation and those requiring uniformity of legislation nationwide are included in the Union List
The dominance of Union List over State List is secured by the Constitution of India as in any conflict between the two or overlapping, the Union List prevails
Law made by the Parliament on a subject of the Union List can confer powers and impose duties on a state, or authorise the conferring of powers and imposition of duties by the Centre upon a state
There are 15 subjects in the Union List on which Parliament has an exclusive power to levy taxes
88th Amendment added a new subject in the Union List called ‘taxes on services.’
Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and powers with respect to matters in the Union list can be enlarged by the Parliament
7th Schedule of Indian Constitution – State List
It has 61 subjects. Earlier, it had 66 items.
42nd amendment Act 1976 shifted below mentioned five subjects from State list to Concurrent List: Education Forests Protection of wild animals and birds Weights and measures and Administration of justice, constitution and organisation of all courts except the Supreme Court and the High Courts
The laws can be made on the subjects enumerated under the State List of the Indian Constitution exclusively by the State legislatures. However, all these can be done only under ‘Normal Circumstances.’
Article 249 gives Parliament the power to legislate concerning a subject enumerated in the State List in the national interest
Parliament can legislate on subjects that are enumerated under the State List on three conditions: When Rajya Sabha passes resolution During a national emergency (Article 250) When two or more states pass a resolution requesting Parliament to legislate on subjects under State List Note: On states’ resolution, the law made is only applicable to such states that passed a resolution. However, other states can too adopt it by, passing the same resolution. The law made by the Parliament on States’ resolution can be amended or repealed by the Parliament only and not the states: For the implementation of International Agreements During President’s Rule
The matters of regional and local importance and the matters which permits diversity of interest are specified in the State List
There are 20 subjects in the State List on which states’ legislatures have an exclusive power to levy taxes
The 69th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1991 made special provision in relation to National Capital. Laws cannot be made by Delhi government on three subjects under State List named as – Public Order, Police & Land
7th Schedule of Indian Constitution – Concurrent List
It has 52 subjects enumerated under it
42nd amendment Act 1976 shifted below mentioned five subjects from State list to Concurrent List: Education Forests Protection of wild animals and birds Weights and measures and Administration of justice, constitution and organisation of all courts except the Supreme Court and the High Courts
The concept of ‘Concurrent List’ in the Indian Constitution has been borrowed from the Constitution of Australia
Central Government and State Government both can make laws on the subjects mentioned under the Concurrent List
While both Central and State Government can legislate on subjects mentioned under Concurrent List, however, in case of any conflict, the law made by the Central Government prevails
The matters on which uniformity of legislation throughout the country is desirable but not essential are enumerated in the concurrent list
There are 03 subjects in the Concurrent List on which both Central and state governments have the power to levy taxes

Subjects under Union List, State List and Concurrent List

The subjects that are enumerated under the Union List are mentioned below. Aspirants should know the Union List subjects, State List subjects and Concurrent Lists for the prelims and mains exam.

Union List Subjects:

Some of the important subjects are:

  1. Defence
  2. Army
  3. International Relations
  4. Ports
  5. Railways
  6. Highways
  7. Communication

State List Subjects:

Some of the important subjects are:

  1. Public order
  2. Police
  3. Public health and sanitation
  4. Hospitals and dispensaries
  5. Betting and gambling

Concurrent List Subjects:

Some of the important subjects are:

  1. Education
  2. Forest
  3. Trade unions
  4. Marriage
  5. Adoption
  6. Succession

2. ‘Advanced nations failing world on climate change’

They had vowed $100 bn a year: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday admonished advanced countries for failing to keep their financing commitments to help emerging economies cope with climate change, invoking the recent Uttarakhand disaster as an example of the vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

The government, she said, was committed to building infrastructure that would not only revive the economy but also prove resilient to the risks of climate change. “We are looking at innovative systems that can certify [that] the resilience of the infrastructure is established. A global standard for certification for resilient infra is also something we are thinking of,” Ms. Sitharaman said at the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Arguing that advanced economies had failed to fulfil their ‘quantitative commitment’ to provide $100 billion a year to help smaller countries, she pointed out that this amount itself was ‘meagre’, to begin with.

‘Terms in News Related to Climate Change’

1. Black Carbon:

• Aerosol/ soot/ fine particulate matter

• Almost pure carbon

• Due to incomplete combustion- due to anthropogenic activity

• Strongly absorbs by light and convert the energy into heat.

• Global warming- Tropospheric Temperature: Deposited on snow and ice – decreases Albedo

• Public Health – Morbidity: Cancers- respiratory illness

• Life time days to weeks

Fossil fuel Combustion: Climate change, Public health and Economic Development.

2. Project ‘Surya’:

• NGO, project from UNEP, Solar (or biomass) stove and solar lights

• Indoor Air Pollution: Respiratory illness asthma, cancers.

3. Ozone hole:

Ultra Violet Radiation from Sun:

• Adverse effect from human: skin cancer, cataracts

• Adverse effect on Biosphere: inhibiting plant growth and damaging ecosystem.

• Adverse effect on physical infrastructure: degradation of material

4. Carbon Sequestration:

• Carbon uptake

• Carbon capture and storage

• Taking up CO2 from the atmosphere and long term storage.

5. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR):

• Set of a technique that aims to remove CO2 directly from atmosphere, by either – Increasing natural sink for carbon or – Using engineering techniques to remove CO2 with the intent of reducing CO2 concentration.

• Ocean- iron fertilizers

• Land- large scale afforestation

• Technical- direct capture a CO2 from atmosphere by chemical means.

6. Iron fertilization:

• Deliberate introduced of iron on upper ocean surface to enhance biological productivity which can sequester additional atmospheric CO2 in ocean.

• Added advantage- to marine food chain.

7. Carbon Sink: Reservoir that stores carbon containing material for an indefinite period.

Natural and Artificial:


• Forest tropical, mangroves (bio-sequenstration)

• Oceans

• Wetlands

• Geological sequestration: landfill, pumping CO2 directly in oil and gas wells.

• Ocean sequestration: Pumping CO2 deep into the ocean, artificial trees

8. Geo Engineering/ Climate Engineering:

• Broad set of methods and technologies that, aims to deliberately alter the climate system in order to alleviate the impacts of climate change.

• By either,

a) Reduce the amount of absorbed solar energy

b) Increased net carbon sinks at sufficiently large scale to alter climate.

Solar Radiation Management:

• Intentional modification of earth’s shortwave radiative budget with the aim to reduce climate change.

• Artificial injection of stratospheric aerosol

• Cloud brightening

CO2 removal techniques: Denoting a nuclear bomb on the lunar surface.

9. Carbon Credit: A tradable certificate/ permit representing the right to emit one tones of carbon or CO2 equivalent.

Way to earn the carbon credit:

• Produce one tone less of Carbon of CO2 equivalent than the standard level allowed for its activity.

• The credit can be trades in exchanges.

• International emission trading – a ‘Kyoto mechanism’

• 1 billion- multi commodity exchange – Carbon trading.

10. Carbon offsetting: Credit of reduction in GHG emission made at another location mostly from renewable energy projects.

11. Carbon Tax: Direct tax based on amount of the carbon in fossil fuel, equivalent to emission tax on CO2 emission.

Climate change is a global phenomenon that we have to address in a spirit of cooperation taking into account the historical responsibilities and capabilities of countries. The direct fallout of this environmental decline will be borne by the poor and the already deprived. Therefore each action in this context must be seen from the perspective of the most underprivileged. The entire global community has to work towards this issue.

3. Auto firms see scrappage policy boosting sector

‘It will raise demand for green vehicles’

Auto majors have welcomed the new vehicle-scrappage policy saying it would encourage people to replace older vehicles, thus boosting demand in the sector.

The new policy presents a huge business opportunity for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and can significantly cut pollution while bolstering road safety, said Venkatram Mamillapalle, country CEO and MD, Renault India Operations.

Mr. Mamillapalle said it would offer the much needed reprieve for auto, steel and electronics industries that were in need of resuscitation after the ‘onslaught of the pandemic’.

The move will boost the demand for environment-friendly vehicles, said Nagesh Basavanhalli, group CEO & MD, Greaves Cotton.

“Only a joint effort by the government, industry and customers can result in a policy that offers true safety, economic and environmental benefits,” said Satyakam Arya, MD & CEO, DICV.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

  • An electric vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.
  • An electric vehicle may be powered through self-contained battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity.

Need for EVs in India

Climate change

  • Problem of rapid global temperature increase has created the need for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the associated emissions.
  • India has committed to cutting its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Rapid urbanization

  • Economic development leads to rapid urbanization in emerging nations as rural populations move non-agricultural sectors in cities creating environmental problems.
  • According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. EVs will help in tackling this problem by reducing local concentrations of pollutants in cities.

Energy security

  • India imports oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel.
  • EVs can reduce dependence on imported crude oil promoting India’s energy security.


  • It will encourage cutting edge technology in India through adoption, adaptation, and research and development.
  • EVs manufacturing capacity will promote global scale and competitiveness.


  • Promotion of EVs will facilitate employment growth in a sun-rise sector.

Clean and Low carbon Energy

  • The shift towards renewable energy sources has led to cost reduction from better electricity generating technologies. This has introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids.

Cutting edge Battery Technology

  • Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging. Combined with the development of motors with higher rating and reliability, these improvements in battery chemistry have reduced costs and improved the performance and efficiency of electric vehicles.

Challenges for EV Industry in India

  • Lack of a stable policy for EV production: EV production is capital intensive sector requiring long term planning to break even and profit realization, uncertainty in government policies related to EV production discourages investment in the industry.
  • Technological challenges: India is technologically deficient in the production of electronics that form the backbone of EV industry, such as batteries, semiconductors, controllers, etc.
  • Lack of associated infrastructural support: The lack of clarity over AC versus DC charging stations, grid stability and range anxiety (fear that battery will soon run out of power) are other factors that hinder the growth of EV industry.
  • Lack of availability of materials for domestic production: Battery is single most important component of EVs. India does not have any known reserve of lithium and cobalt which are required for battery production. India is dependent on countries like Japan and China for the import of lithium-ion batteries.
  • Lack of skilled workers: EVs have higher servicing costs and higher levels of skills is needed for servicing. India lacks dedicated training courses for such skill development.

Government Initiatives

  • Government has set a target of electric vehicles making up 30 % of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030 from less than 1% today.
  • To build a sustainable EV ecosystem initiatives like – National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) have been launched by India.
NEMMP: It was launched in 2013 with an aim to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.FAME: FAME India Scheme [Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India] was launched in 2015 with the objective to support hybrid/electric vehicles market development and manufacturing ecosystem. The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e. Technology Development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.
  • Organization like Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Department of Heavy Industry, Automotive Research Association of India are devising design and manufacturing standards of EVs, Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSEs) & charging infrastructure to smoothen the advent of in-house production of EVs.


  • The Phase-II of FAME seeks to give a push to EVs in public transport and seeks to encourage adoption of EVs by way of market creation and demand aggregation.
  • It envisages the holistic growth of EV industry, including providing for charging infrastructure, research and development of EV technologies and push towards greater indigenization.
  • Establishment of Charging stations are also proposed on major highways connecting major city clusters on both sides of the road at an interval of about 25 km each.
  • The scheme with total outlay of Rs 10,000 Crores over the period of three years will be implemented with effect from 1st April 2019.
  • FAME 2 will offer incentives to manufacturers, who invest in developing electric vehicles and its components, including lithium-ion batteries and electric motors.
  • The centre has asked states to frame their EV policy and provide additional fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to manufacturers and buyers.

National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage

  • To promote clean, connected, shared, sustainable and holistic mobility initiatives.
  • The Mission will drive mobility solutions that will bring in significant benefits to the industry, economy and country.

Phased Manufacturing Programme

  • Valid for 5 years till 2024 to support setting up of a few large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell-manufacturing Giga plants in India.
  • Creation of a PMP valid for 5 years till 2024 to localize production across the entire Electric Vehicles value chain.

4. Govt. questions Global Hunger Index method

MP asks why India was ranked below countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar

Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala, in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, questioned the methodology and data accuracy of the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report, which has placed India at 94th among107 countries in 2020.

Mr. Rupala claimed that children considered healthy were also counted to determine the ranking.

The Minister said the government had written to the NGO, Welthungerhilfe, which compiles the report, expressing concerns about their methodology, data accuracy and sample size and was yet to hear from them.

Mr. Rupala was responding to a question by Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party who pointed out that the Minister’s written reply showed that India’s ranking had improved from 102 in 2019 to 94 in 2020.

Mr. Singh sought to know why India was ranked below countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, when it was among top 10 food-producing countries in the world.

Mr. Rupala said, “Some NGO in the world has done the survey. We have asked them on what basis have you reached this conclusion? They have not replied yet. Whenever a street dog gives birth in our village, even though it bites, our women provide it with sheera (sweet dish). So, in a country where such a tradition exists when an NGO comes and releases such a report about our children, we should not be sensitive to such reports. As far as these surveys are concerned, even healthy and strong children are counted… there should be awareness in society, our dynamic minister Smriti [Irani] ji has started a jan andolan, and 13 crore events have been done.”

In a written reply, the Ministry stated that according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4, the percentage of wasted, stunted and malnourished children in 2015-16 stood at 21, 38.4 and 35.7, respectively.

It said that compared to NFHS-4 data, the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) of 2017-18 showed an improvement of 4%, 3.7% and 2.3% in wasted, stunted and malnourished children respectively.

The first-ever CNNS was commissioned by the government in 2016 and was conducted from 2016-18, led by the Union Health Ministry, in collaboration with the UNICEF. The findings were published in 2019. CNNS includes only nutrition data, whereas NFHS encompasses overall health indicators.

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that 10 lakh children were malnourished in the country. According to the GHI website, the data for the indicators come from the United Nations and other multilateral agencies, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank. GHI is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide, an Ireland-based humanitarian group, and Welthungerhilfe, a Germany-based NGO, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels. It says the aim of publishing the report is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.

Global Hunger Index

  • The GHI is an annual peer-reviewed publication by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe. 
  • It aims to track hunger at global, regional and national levels. It uses four parameters to calculate its scores.
  • One third of the score comes from the level of undernourishment in a country, which is the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake, and uses Food and Agriculture Organization data. 
  • A third of the score comes from child mortality rate (under the age of five years), which often reflects the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments. 
  • The remaining third of the score is based on child wasting, which is the share of children who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition, and child stunting, which is the share of children who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.

What data is used for calculating the Index?

  • The above parameters use information from the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations
  • All these international organisations draw from national data, which, in India’s case, includes the National Family Health Surveys (NFHS). 
  • There is always a time lag in such data, so the 2020 scores are based on data from 2015-19.
  • This results in a 100-point scale, with zero meaning no hunger at all.

How does India fare on the different parameters in comparison to other countries?

  • In 2020, India falls in the ‘serious’ category on the Index, with a total score of 27.2
  • India is tied at the 94th rank out of 107 countries, sharing the rank with Sudan.
  • This is a definite improvement from the situation two decades ago, when it scored 38.9 and fell into the ‘alarming’ category. 
  • China and Brazil both scored under five, and are considered to have very low levels of hunger. South Africa is ranked 60 with a score of 13.5, indicating moderate levels of hunger.
  • Overall undernourishment, 14% of India’s population does not get enough calories, an improvement from almost 20% in 2005-07. 
  • Child mortality rate is 3.7%, a significant drop from 9.2% in 2000.
  • Child Stunting: Almost 35% of Indian children are stunted, and although this is much better than the 54.2% rate of 2000.
  • Child Wasting: 17.3% of Indian children under five are wasted, which is the highest prevalence of child wasting in the world. There is no change from two decades ago, when it was 17.1%.

What is the main cause for such high levels of child stunting and wasting in India?

  • African babies are usually healthy at birth, but as they grow up into their toddler years, undernourishment starts to kick in. 
  • In contrast, South Asian babies show very high levels of wasting during early years of lives, particularly during the first six months
  • This is because of poor maternal health in South Asian countries like India. Mothers are too thin, too short and too undernourished themselves before they become pregnant and this affects new-born’s health aspects as well.
  • Almost 42% of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have a low body mass index (BMI), while 54% have anaemia
  • Social Factors like Early Marriage: Many women in India and South Asian Countries start their pregnancies in their late teens which impacts not only their health but also that of child born
  • Poor sanitation, leading to diarrhoea, is another major cause of child wasting and stunting. Only 36% of households disposed of children’s stools in a safe manner. One in 10 children underthe age of fivesuffer from diarrhoea.

How do different Indian States compare?

  • Almost one in three children in Jharkhand show acute undernutrition, with a 29% rate of wasting
  • Other large States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka have one in five children who are wasted. 
  • Interestingly, other States that usually fare poorly on development indices, such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha, actually do better than the national average, with 13-14% rates of wasting. 
  • Uttarakhand and Punjab, along with several north-eastern States, have levels of child wasting below 10%.
  • In terms of stunting, Bihar performs the worst, with 42% of children too short for their age. 
  • At the national level, among social groups, the prevalence of stunting is highest amongst children from the Scheduled Tribes (43.6 percent), followed by Scheduled Castes (42.5 percent) and Other Backwards Castes (38.6 percent).

5. LS passes MMDR amendment Bill

Reforms in the mining sector will generate 55 lakh jobs, says Minister

The Lok Sabha on Friday passed a Bill to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act) through a voice vote, with Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi stating that the amendments will create jobs and allow private players with enhanced technology into the mining sector.

“The reform in the mining sector would generate 55 lakh direct and indirect jobs. To enhance mining activity, we will allow the private sector with enhanced technology in mineral exploration,”Mr. Joshi told the Lok Sabha while moving the Bill. He said India produces 95 minerals and has same potential like South Africa and Australia but the mining sector was under-explored and India still had to import minerals like gold and coal.

The Minister said the mining sector right now contributes 1.75% to the country’s GDP but the proposed reforms will raise the contribution to 2.5% as it seeks to make a large number of mines available for auctions by resolving legacy issues.

Mr. Joshi said the Bill removes the distinction between captive and non-captive mines and seeks to introduce an index-based mechanism by developing a National Mineral Index (NMI) for statutory payments. The National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET), to see the functioning of the sector, will be made an autonomous body.

‘Exclude tribal areas’

Taking part in the debate, Congress MP Vincent Pala asked why the Mines and Minerals Bill was being amended every year and said either the officials of the Ministry were incompetent or some lobby was at work. He asked the government asked to exclude tribal areas under the Sixth Schedule.

“We are not against mining operations but we are against the way the hasty auctions which you are doing,” S.S. Ulaka, another Congress MP said. He suggested that a joint committee that included tribal members of Parliament, those from mining areas, besides oficials from the ministries of Tribal Affairs ministry, Environment and Forest ministry and Mines Ministry should be formed.

Extending his support to the Bill, Biju Janata Dal MP, Pinaki Misra said the Mines Ministry and the Environment Ministry should work in synergy to promote the growth of the sector.

National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET)

National Mineral Exploration Trust (MET) is a Trust set up as a non-profit body by the Central Government for the purposes of regional and detailed exploration of minerals using the funds accrued to it and in such manner as prescribed by the Central Government.

The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015, (MMRDA) mandated the setting up of Mineral Exploration Trust. The Rules in this regard were notified by the Central Government on 14 August 2015.

The holder of a mining lease or a prospecting licence-cum-mining lease has to pay to the NMET, two per cent of the royalty paid by it. Such contributions are made to the relevant state government along with royalty payments, and the state government, in turn, transfers the amount to NMET.

State Governments are instructed to report the details of the royalty payments as well as the data on contribution to MET to the Indian Bureau of Mines.

NMET contribution is applicable with effect from 12.01.2015. As on 30.04.2016, a total Rs.168.38 crore has been received by NMET from States.

An inter-ministerial executive committee chaired by the Secretary of Ministry of Mines manages the day to day affairs of the Trust on the basis of the policies set by the Governing Board chaired by the Union Minister of Mines. Composition of Executive Committee and Governing board were notified on 14 August 2015. 

MET is similar to the District Mineral Foundation set up under the same Act, but with different rate of contribution (2% instead of 10-30%), level of operation (boosting exploration effort instead of enhancing welfare of the mining affected) and comes under different jurisdictional authorities (central Government instead of state governments)

Functions of NMET

NMET carries out regional (inter-state) and detailed exploration for minerals including those activities deemed necessary by the Governing Body of NMET. Some such sanctioned activities include:

  • Funding special studies and projects designed to identify, explore, extract, beneficiate and refine deep-seated or concealed mineral deposits; Priority is given to strategic and critical minerals.
  • undertaking studies for mineral development, sustainable mining, adoption of advanced scientific and technological practices and mineral extraction metallurgy;
  • facilitating completion of brown-field regional exploration projects in obvious geological potential areas including conducting high-risk exploration for deep-seated mineral deposits through modern technologies;
  • promoting completion of detailed exploration (G2 or Gl) across India in the areas where G3 stage exploration has been completed;
  • deciding the priorities for exploration after consulting Central Geological Programming Board
  • facilitating geophysical, ground and aerial survey and geochemical survey of obvious geological potential areas and rest of India;         
  • facilitating a national core repository for encouraging research in earth sciences and for evaluation of the mineral prospects;
  • organizing capacity building programmes to raise technical capability of personnel engaged in or to be engaged in exploration;

6. Editorial-1: Delhi undermined

Bill to amend GNCTD Act is a rollback of the notion of representative government

The Centre’s Bill seeking to amend the law relating to the running of the National Capital Territory of Delhi claims that it is aimed at giving effect to the interpretation given by the Supreme Court judgments on Delhi’s governance structure. The proposed changes are the very antithesis of what the Court has said. The Bill, if it becomes law, will wholly undermine the Court’s efforts to strengthen the elected government vis-à-vis the appointed Lieutenant Governor. The Constitution Bench verdict of July 4, 2018, said: “The Lieutenant Governor has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. He has to either act on the ‘aid and advice’ of the Council of Ministers, or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.” The ‘aid and advice’ clause pertains only to matters on which the elected Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists, but with the exception of public order, police and land, and, wherever there are differences between the L-G and the elected government, the former should refer the question to the President. The Court was at pains to clarify that the power to refer “any matter” to the President did not mean that “every matter” should be referred thus. The guiding principle was that the elected government should not be undermined by the unelected administrator. The Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha does violence to this interpretation.

The Bill seeks to declare that in the context of legislation passed by the Delhi Assembly, all references to the ‘government’ would mean the “Lieutenant Governor”. Indeed, Delhi is a Union Territory; but it is somewhat incongruous for a territory with an elected House to be declared the sole domain of the L-G. The apex court had rightly concluded that the scheme set out in the Constitution and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, envisages a collaborative structure that can be worked only through constitutional trust. The proviso to Article 239AA, which empowers the L-G to refer a difference of opinion with the Council of Ministers to the President, does not mean that the administrator is given an opportunity to come up with a different opinion on every decision made by the Ministry. Yet, it is precisely what the Bill proposes to do. And it is quite incongruous that instead of Parliament identifying the matters on which the L-G’s opinion should be sought, the Bill proposes that the L-G himself would specify such matters. The clause that declares void any rule that empowers the Assembly or its Committees to discuss any matter of day-to-day administration or conduct enquiries amounts to a rollback of representative government. The ‘Union Territory’ concept is one of the many ways in which India regulates relations between the Centre and its units. It should not be used to subvert the basis of electoral democracy.

7. Editorial-2: Chasing peace

The Taliban should not be allowed to have its way in talks on sharing power in Afghanistan

The peace conference hosted by Russia in Moscow between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives is the latest example of growing international concern about the future of Afghanistan as the May 1 deadline for the proposed U.S. troops pullout nears. No breakthrough was expected from a single-day conference between the parties that have been fighting each other for nearly 20 years. The Russian plan was to bring together the Taliban and the government, whose Doha peace talks have stalled for months, to jump start the peace process. The U.S. has also called for a UN-led multilateral peace conference. The Afghanistan conflict is a multifaceted one, with its primary actors being the government, the Taliban and the U.S. Others such as Russia, China and India are worried about the conflict’s spillover effects. There is a consensus among all these countries that Afghanistan needs to be stabilised now. U.S. President Joe Biden, who is reviewing the administration’s Afghan strategy, said this week that it would be “tough” to withdraw all U.S. troops by the May 1 deadline as the Trump administration agreed in an accord with the Taliban. On the other side, the Taliban have threatened to launch a new offensive if the U.S. does not leave according to the schedule. It is a stalemate.

Mr. Biden’s dilemma is that he cannot commit troops endlessly to a war that the U.S. is certainly not winning. But if he pulls back without a peace agreement, the civil war could intensify, and the Taliban, already in control of much of rural Afghanistan, could make rapid gains. And if he decides to keep the troops even for a short term, it could trigger a tough response from the Taliban. So, the U.S. administration is trying to put together a new peace process, with other regional actors, which would not just buy time for the Americans but also seek to find a lasting settlement. It seems Russia, China and India are on board. Pakistan, which hosts the Taliban leadership, will also participate in the peace process. The flip side of this diplomatic push is that all the main stakeholders agree that the Taliban would play a critical role in shaping Afghanistan’s future. The U.S. already wants the Afghan government to share power with the Taliban. Russia has asked the Afghan government and the Taliban to make “necessary compromises”. The jihadist group, whose reign of Afghanistan during 1996-2001 was notorious for extremism, violence and suppression of basic rights, is on the cusp of power again. The international actors pushing for peace with the Taliban should at least extract compromises from them. After the Moscow meet, Russia, China, the U.S. and Pakistan said that a peace agreement should “include protections for the rights of all Afghans”. They should make it their top priority in the coming talks.

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