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Daily Current Affairs 21.07.2021 (Pegasus spyware row rocks Parliament, The thread to grasp in the Kitex story, SC annuls parts of co-op amendment)

Daily Current Affairs 21.07.2021 (Pegasus spyware row rocks Parliament, The thread to grasp in the Kitex story, SC annuls parts of co-op amendment)

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1.Pegasus spyware row rocks Parliament

Lok Sabha adjourned for the day amid repeated disruptions; Rajya Sabha discusses COVID-19 situation

The Pegasus snooping controversy led to multiple disruptions in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday before the House was adjourned for the day.

In what seemed to be a different strategy by the Opposition parties for the two Houses, proceedings in the Lower House got washed out while the Rajya Sabha discussed the COVID-19 situation after a couple of hours of disruptions in the morning.

“The government on its own had moved for a discussion on COVID-19 after it was discussed in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC). We didn’t want to give them a chance to say the Opposition doesn’t even want to discuss the pandemic. But the government will find itself cornered in the Lok Sabha. On July 22, farmers have planned some action outside the House and we will raise their voices inside the House,” a senior Congress leader told The Hindu.

Multiple notices

With multiple notices from Lok Sabha members, such as Manish Tewari, Manickam Tagore and Gaurav Gogoi, for the suspension of routine business to discuss the snooping controversy, the Opposition made its intentions clear on the second day of the monsoon session.

Trinamool Congress leaders too had given an adjournment notice after the name of the party’s Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, figured in the list of potential targets for hacking.

As soon as the Lok Sabha proceedings started at 11 a.m., the Congress and the Trinamool started raising slogans and showed placards targeting the government. While some placards showed former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi being in the list of targets, another was about Mr. Banerjee. One of the placards read that while people were suffering from unemployment, the government was busy with jasoosi (spying).

The proceedings lasted for five minutes before the House was adjourned until 2 p.m. When it reconvened, similar scenes were witnessed, prompting the Chair to adjourn it for an hour. After the House assembled at 3 p.m., the Opposition members again started raising slogans, and the Chair adjourned it for the day.

The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of Parliament met to discuss the legislative business and other issues related to the ongoing Monsoon Session. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla presided over the meeting.

In practice, a new Committee after being nominated by the Speaker is constituted and assumes office in the first week of June every year.

The Committee generally meets at the beginning of each Session and thereafter as and when necessary.

The function of the Committee is to recommend the time that should be allotted for the discussion of such government legislative and other business as the Speaker, in consultation with the Leader of the House, may direct to be referred to the Committee.

The Committee, on its own initiative, may also recommend to the Government to bring forward particular subjects for discussion in the House and recommend allocation of time for such discussions.

The decisions reached by the Committee are always unanimous in character and representative of the collective view of the House.

The Business Advisory Committee was constituted for the first time on the 14th July, 1952.

Types of Cyber Attacks

  • Malware: It is short for malicious software, refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network. Ransomware, Spy ware, Worms, viruses, and Trojans are all varieties of malware.
  • Phishing: It is the method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites.
  • Denial of Service attacks: A Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack is an attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users.

    • DoS attacks accomplish this by flooding the target with traffic, or sending it information that triggers a crash.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks: Also known as eavesdropping attacks, occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction.

    • Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.
  • SQL Injection: SQL stands for Structured Query Language, a programming language used to communicate with databases.

    • Many of the servers that store critical data for websites and services use SQL to manage the data in their databases.
    • A SQL injection attack specifically targets such kinds of servers, using malicious code to get the server to divulge information it normally wouldn’t.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Similar to an SQL injection attack, this attack also involves injecting malicious code into a website, but in this case the website itself is not being attacked.

    • Instead the malicious code the attacker has injected, only runs in the user’s browser when they visit the attacked website, and it goes after the visitor directly, not the website.
  • Social Engineering: It is an attack that relies on human interaction to trick users into breaking security procedures in order to gain sensitive information that is typically protected.

2.The thread to grasp in the Kitex story

The saga of the garment maker’s investment relocation points to the bargain between capitalism and democracy

When garment manufacturer, the Kitex Group, recently announced that it was rethinking its plans to make fresh investments in its home State of Kerala, nine other States competed to win its favour. They offered it financial incentives and other sops. The company chose Telangana; the State had not only offered it the “best deal” but also sent a plane for the company leaders to travel to Hyderabad and meet the Minister for Industries. Kerala’s often toxic trade unionism has been the major factor in derailing the industrial ambitions of the State. But beyond the industrial climate of Kerala, the Kitex episode mirrors an ongoing global bargain between capitalism and democracy.

Key questions

The foremost industrial societies are grappling with this question, and the G7 countries have taken the initiative to move towards a global minimum tax on corporations and to obligate companies to pay more taxes where they operate also as opposed to where they are headquartered. At the heart of the debate are two questions. First, how does a capitalist enterprise relate to the political and social organisation in its location? Second, how do different jurisdictions compete for investments, and at what social cost? Now, a recap of the Kitex story with reference to these questions.

Kitex is primarily export-oriented and counts American retail giant Walmart among its global clients. Located in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat near Kochi, the company employs nearly 10,000 people, most of them from outside Kerala. In 2015, the corporate social responsibility activities of the company took a political form. Under the banner ‘Twenty20’ Kizhakkambalam, it fielded candidates in the local body elections, in a sensational move. It won 17 of the 19 seats and took control of the panchayat. In the 2020 local body elections, it captured power in three more panchayats. In the 2021 Kerala Assembly elections, Twenty20 fielded candidates in eight segments and performed well, though nobody won. Along the way, in 2020, the group had announced ₹3,500 crore of fresh investments in the State.

Things suddenly turned turtle after the May Assembly results; the company said that the 11 inspections it had at its sites in the month of June were nothing but harassment. The government said these inspections were in response to specific complaints regarding human and labour rights violations. The company chairman berated the investment climate in Kerala. At the end of it all, Kitex announced its decision to move to Telangana.

Compact of social control

The regulations that cover labour relations, the environment, and natural resources and taxes make up the compact of social control over private enterprises. The social compact between capitalism and democracy is negotiated through elected representatives and bureaucrats. This negotiation turns out in practice to be legal and illegal, and through formal and informal means. Rules are there, but bribes and political donations are also a part of it. In places where democracy is dispersed and political action is multilevel, such negotiations become more complex. For instance, in Kerala, even the Chief Minister is unable to enforce everything that he thinks appropriate — a point that the Kitex chairman has repeatedly made. It is in places where the chief executive has untrammelled power that all decisions are at the ‘single window’.

Based on all these considerations, the investor has to make his decisions at two levels — where to locate the capital, and how to deal with the social and political issues there. As American States began to compete with one another to attract investors, the phrase ‘race-to-the-bottom’ came into use in the early 20th century, denoting the competition to please capital, and overlook other factors such as the environment and labour. This race turned global towards the end of the century. Countries, and jurisdictions within countries, are encouraged to compete with one another. In 2015, India partnered with the World Bank to launch the Ease of Doing Business ranking of States, following the global ranking model.

The investor friendliness of a State is often reduced to its willingness and capability to override the interests of the labour, environment, and indigenous populations. How tax concessions impact State capacity is a linked question. With States losing most taxation powers, tax concessions are not a viable allurement that they can offer any more. Jharkhand is ranked five in the Ease of Doing Business ranking;; Kerala is at 28. The previous government of Jharkhand would jail 3,000 Adivasis who claimed legally guaranteed rights under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The fight for their legal rights led Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy to imprisonment and death in custody at the age of 84, recently. In the poverty score card (out of 100) in the Sustainable Development Goals Index 2019-20, Jharkhand is 28, while Kerala gets 64.

The American example

Before the rise of globalisation, the capitalist had to negotiate with the political system at its base. The influence of corporations in U.S. democracy remains a contentious topic. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed unlimited election spending by corporations and billionaires. They promote or undermine particular causes and personalities. The Kitex group took this model to a step further and directly captured political power in four panchayats, even as complaints of pollution rose against it. Not stopping there, its chairman proposed that bigger companies should follow his model and take over political administration across the country. But controlling four panchayats did not amount to control over the overarching political system. Hence, relocation.

The story of globalisation is a story of capital’s enhanced capacity to flee from the shackles of too much democracy to places that are well-controlled under a strong regime, where all clearances are available at a ‘single window’. Investments moved to places where environmental regulations are lax, wages are low, labour standards are weak, and dissent is answered with an iron fist. This was working perfectly until its ripple effects reached the shores of western democracies. Now the West is waking up to the challenge and the G7 move is an acknowledgment of the crisis. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen now talks about the “working class”. “That global minimum tax would end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation, and ensure fairness for the middle class and working people in the U.S. and around the world,” she said recently. This would also be “encouraging countries to compete on positive bases, such as educating and training our work forces and investing in research and development and infrastructure.”

Need for a national standard

Rather than vilifying Kerala for its alleged hostility to investments and glorifying the opportunism of capital, the need of the hour is to discuss the requirement of a national standard for corporate governance, environment and labour, alongside the forceful implementation of the laws that guarantee the rights of indigenous communities in the development process.

It is ironic that India is encouraging competition among States as a route to development at a time when the most advanced industrial societies are realising the limits of competition and pushing for better global standards in labour, environment and taxation. Turning the development aspirations of States into a modern-day gladiator sport is hardly in line with the slogan that we are asked to repeat — One India.

Introduction

  • The provisions of Part IX of the constitution relating to the Panchayats are not applicable to the Fifth Schedule areas.
  • The Parliament may extend these provisions to such areas, subject to such exceptions and modifications as it may specify.
  • Under this provision, the Parliament has enacted the “Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act”, 1996, popularly known as the PESA Act or the Extension Act.

At present (2019), ten states have Fifth Schedule Areas. These are: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. All the ten states have enacted requisite compliance legislations by amending the respective Panchayati Raj Acts.

Objectives of the PESA Act

  • To extend the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the panchayats to the scheduled areas with certain modifications
  • To provide self-rule for the bulk of the tribal population
  • To have village governance with participatory democracy and to make the gram sabha a nucleus of all activities
  • To evolve a suitable administrative framework consistent with traditional practices
  • To safeguard and to preserve the traditions and customs of tribal communities
  • To empower panchayats at the appropriate levels with specific powers conducive to tribal requirements
  • To prevent panchayats at the higher level from assuming the powers and authority of panchayats at the lower level of the gram sabha

Features of the Act

  • A state legislation on the Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas shall be in consonance with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources.
  • A village shall ordinarily consist of a habitation or a group of habitations or a hamlet or a group of hamlets comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs.
  • Every village shall have a Gram Sabha consisting of persons whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.
  • Every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
  • Every Gram Sabha shall–
  • Approve of the plans, programmes and projects for social economic development before they are taken up implementation by the Panchayat at the village level;
  • Be responsible for the identification of beneficiaries under poverty alleviation and other programmes.
  • Every Panchayat at the village level shall be required to obtain from the Gram Sabha a certification of utilisation of funds for the above plans, programmes and projects.
  • The reservation of seats in the Scheduled Areas in every Panchayat shall be in proportion to the population of the communities for whom reservation is sought to be given under Part IX of the Constitution. The reservation for the Scheduled Tribes shall not be less than one-half of the total number of seats. Further, all seats of Chairpersons of Panchayats at all levels shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The state government may nominate such Scheduled Tribes which have no representation in the Panchayat at the intermediate level or the Panchayat at the district level. But such nomination shall not exceed one-tenth of the total members to be elected in that Panchayat.
  • The Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before resettling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas. However, the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the state level.
  • Planning and management of minor water bodies in the Scheduled Areas shall be entrusted to Panchayats at the appropriate level.
  • The recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be mandatory for grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas.
  • The prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction.
  • While endowing Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government, a State Legislature shall ensure that the Panchayats at the appropriate level and the Gram Sabha are endowed specifically with–
  • the power to enforce prohibition or to regulate or restrict the and consumption of any intoxicant
  • the ownership of minor forest produce
  • the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled A and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawfully alien land of a Scheduled Tribe
  • the power to manage village markets
  • the power to exercise control over money lending to Scheduled Tribes
  • the power to exercise control over institutions and functionary all social sectors
  • the power to control local plans and resources including tribal sub-plans
  • The State Legislations shall contain safeguards to ensure that Panchayats at the higher level do not assume the powers and authority of any Panchayat at the lower level or of the Gram Sabha.
  • The State Legislature shall endeavour to follow the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution while designing the administrative arrangements in the Panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas.
  • Any provision of any law (relating to Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas) which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act shall cease to be in force at the expiry of one year from the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President .
  • However, all the Panchayats existing immediately before such date shall continue till the expiry of their term, unless dissolved by the State Legislature sooner.

Problems with PESA

  • Dilution of role of Tribal Advisory Councils:PESA comes under the Fifth Schedule, which mandates Tribal Advisory Councils to oversee tribal affairs and also gives extrajudicial, extra constitutional powers to the Governors of each State to intervene in matters where they see tribal autonomy being compromised.
  • However, the councils, with the CHIEF MINISTER as their chairperson, have evolved into a non-assertive institution amid the machinations of upper-class politics, and its representatives hardly speak against the State governments’ policies.
  • The Governors, in order to have friendly relations with the Chief Ministers, have desisted from getting involved in tribal matters. Tribal activists have constantly complained that there is not even a single instance where the Governors have responded to their petitions for interventions in threatening crises, such as deepening clashes over land, mining or police excesses.
  • Lack of coordination at Centre:Even if one were to expect proactive intervention from the Centre, PESA would get entangled in bureaucratic shackles. Two different ministries, the Ministry of PANCHAYAT RAJ and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, have an overlapping influence on the implementation of PESA and they function almost without any coordination.
  • Lack of operationalization:In most of the state the enabling rules are not in place more than eight years after the adoption of the Act suggests that the state governments are reluctant to operationalize the PESA mandate.
  • Ignoring the spirit of PESA:The state legislations have omitted some of the fundamental principles without which the spirit of PESA can never be realised. For instance, the premise in PESA that state legislations on Panchayats shall be in consonance with customary laws and among other things traditional management practices of community resources is ignored by most of the state laws.
  • Ambiguous definitions: No legal definition of the terms like minor water bodies, minor minerals etc. exist in the statute books. The states in their conformity legislations have also not defined the term leading to ambiguity and scope of interpretation by the bureaucracy.

3.SC annuls parts of co-op amendment

Verdict significant amid States’ fears over Union Ministry of Cooperation

In a major boost for federalism, the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down parts of a Constitution amendment which shrank the exclusive authority of States over its cooperative societies.

Part IXB, introduced in the Constitution through the 97th Amendment of 2012, dictated the terms for running cooperative societies. The provisions in the amendment, passed by Parliament without getting them ratified by State legislatures as required by the Constitution, went to the extent of determining the number of directors a society should have or their length of tenure and even the necessary expertise.

In a majority judgment authored by Justice Nariman, the court held that cooperative societies come under the “exclusive legislative power” of State legislatures. The judgment may be significant in the background of fears voiced by the States whether the new Central Ministry of Cooperation would dis-empower them. The SC, however, said the Centre had power over multi-State cooperative societies.

Part IX B, which consists of Articles 243ZH to 243ZT, has “significantly and substantially impacted” State legislatures’ “exclusive legislative power” over its cooperative sector under Entry 32 of the State List. In fact, the court pointed out how Article 243ZI makes it clear that a State may only make law on the incorporation, regulation and winding up of a society subject to the provisions of Part IXB of the 97th Constitution Amendment.

“There can be no doubt that our Constitution has been described as quasi-federal in that, so far as legislative powers are concerned, though there is a tilt in favour of the Centre vis-à-vis the States given the federal supremacy principle outlined herein above, yet within their own sphere, the States have exclusive power to legislate on topics reserved exclusively to them,” Justice Nariman wrote in his 89-page majority opinion shared with Justice B.R. Gavai.

“The 97th Amendment which inserts the chapter dealing with cooperative societies has not been so ratified by the States, though an amendment of the Constitution is the exercise of constituent power which differs from ordinary legislative power, such constituent power does not convert Parliament into an original constituent assembly. Parliament being the donee of a limited power may only exercise such power in accordance with both the procedural and substantive limitations contained in the Constitution of India,” Justice Nariman observed.

However, the court did not strike down the portions of Part IXB of the Amendment concerning “Multi State Cooperative Societies” due to the lack of ratification.

“When it comes to Multi State Co-operative Societies (MSCS) with objects not confined to one State, the legislative power would be that of the Union of India which is contained in Entry 44 List I (Union List)… It is declared that Part IXB of the Constitution is operative only insofar as it concerns multi-State cooperative societies both within the various States and in the Union Territories,” Justice Nariman said.

In his dissent, Justice K.M. Joseph said the doctrine of severability would not operate to distinguish between single-State cooperatives and MSCS. The judge said the entire Part IXB should be struck down on the ground of absence of ratification.

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld a 2013 judgment of the Gujarat High Court and struck down certain provisions of the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011.

  • It gave a major boost for federalism as the 97th Amendment shrank the exclusive authority of States over its co-operative societies, a sector considered as a massive contributor to the economy.

Co-operatives

  • According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
  • There are many types of cooperatives such as Consumer Cooperative Society, Producer Cooperative Society, Credit Cooperative Society, Housing Cooperative Society and Marketing Cooperative Society.
  • The United Nations General Assembly had declared the year 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
  • India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.

    • Recently, a separate ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ has been created by the Central Government to give a new push to the cooperative movement.

Key Points

  • Issue:

    • Part IXB, introduced into the Constitution through the 97th Amendment, dictated the terms for running co-operative societies.
    • The provisions in the Amendment, passed by Parliament without getting them ratified by State legislatures as required by the Constitution.
    • It went to the extent of determining the number of directors a society should have or their length of tenure and even the necessary expertise required to become a member of the society.

Other Major Provisions of the 97th Amendment

  • The word “cooperatives” was added after “unions and associations” in Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution. This enables all the citizens to form cooperatives by giving it the status of fundamental right of citizens.
  • A new Article 43B was added in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) regarding the “promotion of cooperative societies”.
  • Central Government’s Argument:
    • It justified that the government was injecting ‘professionalism’ and autonomy into the functioning of the societies.
    • Lack of accountability by the members has led to poor services and low productivity.
    • Even elections are not held on time. Co-operatives need to run on well-established democratic principles.
  • SC’s Ruling:
    • Exclusive Legislation of States:
      • The constitution has been described as quasi-federal in that, so far as legislative powers are concerned, though there is a tilt in favour of the Centre vis-à-vis the States given the federal supremacy principle.
        • Quasi-federalism means an intermediate form of state between a unitary state and a federation.
      • However, within their own sphere, the States have exclusive power to legislate on topics reserved exclusively to them.
      • Part IX B, which consists of Articles 243ZH to 243ZT, has “significantly and substantially impacted” State legislatures’ “exclusive legislative power” over its co-operative sector under Entry 32 of the State List.
      • The court pointed out how Article 243ZI makes it clear that a State may only make law on the incorporation, regulation and winding up of a society subject to the provisions of Part IXB of the 97th Amendment.
    • Not Ratified by the States:
      • It held that the 97th Constitutional Amendment required ratification by at least one-half of the state legislatures as per Article 368(2) of the Constitution, since it dealt with an entry which was an exclusive state subject (co-operative societies).
        • Under Article 368(2), Parliament can amend the Constitution by passing a Bill with a special majority.
      • Since such ratification was not done in the case of the 97th amendment, it was liable to be struck down.
    • Upheld the Validity of Provisions related to Multi State Cooperative Societies:
      • It did not strike down the portions of Part IXB of the Amendment concerning ‘Multi State Co-operative Societies (MSCS)’ due to the lack of ratification.
      • When it comes to MSCS with objects not confined to one State, the legislative power would be that of the Union of India which is contained in Entry 44 List I (Union List).
      • It is declared that Part IXB of the Constitution is operative only insofar as it concerns multi-State cooperative societies both within the various States and in the Union Territories.
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