21 & 22 ,January 2018

Shri Om Prakash Rawat as the Chief Election Commissioner in the Election Commission.

The Union Law Ministry on Sunday appointed seniormost Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat as the next Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) as the incumbent A.K. Joti will retire subsequently.

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering election processes in India.
  • Election Commissioners have a fixed term of six years but have to step down if they reach 65 years of age before their term expires.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, state Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
  • The Election Commission operates under the authority of Constitution per Article 324, and enacted Representation of the People Act.

1.India  admitted to Australia Group
Source :The Hindu

India joined the Australia Group as the 43rd member. India is first South Asian nation to become its full-time member of Australia Group.

The Australian Group:

  • The Australia Group is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) and an informal group of countries (now joined by the European Commission) established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons
  • The group, initially consisting of 15 members, held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium, in September 1989. With the incorporation of India on January 19, 2018, it now has 43 members, including Australia, the European Commission, all 28 member states of the European Union, Ukraine, and Argentina
  • The name comes from Australia’s initiative to create the group. Australia manages the secretariat
  • Coordination among participant countries of Australia Group helps them to fulfil their obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to the fullest extent possible. China, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea are not its members.
  • Today, members of the group maintain export controls on a uniform list of 54 compounds, including several that are not prohibited for export under the Chemical Weapons Convention, but can be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons
  • In 2002, the group took two important steps to strengthen export control
  • The first was the “no-undercut” requirement, which stated that any member of the group considering making an export to another state that had already been denied an export by any other member of the group must first consult with that member state before approving the export
  • The second was the “catch-all” provision, which requires member states to halt all exports that could be used by importers in chemical or biological weapons programs, regardless of whether the export is on the group’s control lists
  • Delegations representing the members meet every year in Paris, France

India’s entry into international groups in recent past:

  • Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR): an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries that regulates trade in sensitive equipment and technologies to ensure there is no proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying payloads above 500kg for more than 300km. India had joined it in June 2016.
  • Wassenaar Arrangement: This is also an informal grouping of 42 countries, exercising control over the export of dual-use goods and technologies in December 2017.

Note:

  • It is understood that the membership will also boost India’s membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group which is being opposed by China.
  • Significantly, China is not member of Wassenaar Arrangement, MTCR and Australia Group.

2.Disqualification of MLAs on grounds of Office of Profit
Source: The Hindu

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the recommendation of the Election Commission to disqualify the 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the national capital, for holding offices of profit.

What is the issue about?

  • The AAP MLAs were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries and a petitioner, in a complaint to the EC and the President in 2015, said being a parliamentary secretary was holding an office of profit and this invited disqualification.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the recommendation of the Election Commission to disqualify 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the ruling party in the national capital, for holding offices of profit.
  • After the President’s decision, the AAP said it would use all legal options available.

What is Parliamentary Secretary?

  • A Parliamentary Secretary assists a Minister, and the office usually comes with perks as well as a measure of political influence.
  • However, in a notification confirming the appointment of the 20 MLAs, the government had said no remuneration or perks would be given to the Parliamentary Secretaries.

What is an office of profit?

  • It is a position in the government which cannot be held by an MLA or an MP. The post can yield salaries, perquisites and other benefits. The origin of this term can be found in the English Act of Settlement, 1701. Under this law, “no person who has an office or place of profit under the King, or receives a pension from the Crown, shall be capable of serving as a member of the House of Commons.” This was instituted so that there wouldn’t be any undue influence from the royal household in administrative affairs.

What do parliamentary secretaries do?

  • In the Westminster system, a parliamentary secretary is a Member of Parliament who assists a Minister in their duties. Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers usually appoint parliamentary secretaries from their own parties.

Why should an MLA or an MP not hold an office of profit?

  • According to Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution, an MP or MLA is barred from holding an office of profit as it can put them in a position to gain a financial benefit. “A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament, (a) if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder,” says the law.
  • Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is grounds for disqualification.

Do other states in India have MLAs holding offices of profit?

  • West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab, Mizoram and Manipur have had similar incidents. In West Bengal, Telangana and Punjab, the respective High Courts called the appointments “unconstitutional” and struck down the appointments.
  • The case regarding appointment of parliamentary secretaries is pending in the Karnataka High Court. In Rajasthan, the State passes a Bill in October 2017 to make the posts constitutional, but the validity of this law has been challenged.
  • Odisha too has appointed MLAs as chairpersons of district planning committees by amending an Act. The Supreme Court struck down The Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004 in July 2017 leading to a wave of resignations in North eastern states.

Reference:

Office of profit: http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/office-of-profit-what-the-why-5032038/

On what basis did the Election Commission give the recommendation? http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/poll-panel-cites-sc-rulings-on-office-of-profit/article22487683.ece

3.Day Light Saving
Source: The Hindu

Many parts of North America and Europe follow what is called Daylight Saving Time (DST).It’s a practice by which all the clocks in these places are moved forward by an hour during the summer months and brought back during the winter.

The reason behind this is to take advantage of the longer-lasting sunlight in summer and save energy.

What is India’s stand?

  • India spans longitudes of 68° at the western end and 98° at the eastern boundary. Given that there is a difference of one hour for every 15° of longitude, the time difference between the westernmost part of India and the easternmost point is approximately two hours. But India follows a single time zone, since 1906 midway at 82.5°.
  • There have been periodical demands from the Northeast region for a separate time zone. In the Northeast, the sun rises as early as four in the morning and in winter it sets by four in the evening.
  • By the time, the offices and school open for the day, hours of daylight are wasted. However, the demands have not been met and India sticks to the IST, which is 5 and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Why are objections raised against DST?

  • Opponents argue that the actual energy saving through DST is debatable. Research proving energy conservation through DST has been limited. DST has mixed effects on health.
  • Though it encourages physical activities in the evening hours, it could alter sunlight exposure and reduce sleep hours. It is also found that road and rail accidents are high in the days immediately following the clock change according to studies conducted in North America.

4.All About CREDIT SCORES
Source: The Hindu

What are credit scores?

A credit score determines how creditworthy a person is and helps banks and financial institutions decide on loans.

Why are credit scores important?

A person with a high credit score enjoys access to credit facilities(loans) without hassles.

Who issues credit scores?

In India, the scores are issued by credit reporting agencies such as CIBIL, Equifax, Experian and the like. These agencies are regulated by the RBI and collect data from banks on their loans and come up with credit scores through use of algorithms. The data is updated frequently. Credit scores in India range from 300-900.

Are credit reports available at no charge?

A credit report may be obtained for free once a year from every credit reporting agency. However, what is free is a matter of debate. More frequent reports cost Rs. 300-Rs. 400 apiece.

Can errors creep in?

Arun Ramamurthy, founder, Credit Sudhaar, a credit advisory, points out that data in the credit bureau is critical to lending and pricing decisions made by banks and errors in them affect credit scores. The errors include:

  • Reporting error: sometimes, banks report wrong client data to the bureau which can, in turn, lead to errors in the credit report.
  • Algorithmic error: the bureau uses a matching algorithm to generate a credit report based on multiple data sets (pertaining to each bank) submitted by banks. Often, due to the lack of unique identifiers, the matching logic can go wrong which can lead to errors
  • Identity theft error: this happens when someone impersonates another person (who has a good credit record) to take a loan and then defaults on the loan.

How does a customer ensure data accuracy?

Mr. Ramamurthy suggests customers monitor credit reports at least once in two months and protect them from identity fraud by using good firewall protection on their devices.If an error is spotted, a customer should write to the bureau concerned for a resolution on the link provided on the respective bureau website.

5.Rooftop solar is still out in the cold
Source: The Hindu

What is a Solar Rooftop System?

In a solar rooftop system, the solar panels are installed in the roof of any residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. This can be of two types
(i) Solar Rooftop System with storage facility using battery, and
(ii) Grid Connected Solar Rooftop System.

What is the status of Rooftop solar installations in India?

  • Against a target of 10,000 MW for March 31, 2018, the achievement as of the last day of 2017 was 923 MW for rooftop solar installation
  • The government of India wants the country to have 100,000 MW of solar capacity by March 2022 — 60,000 MW from large plants and 40,000 MW from rooftops
  • The target for rooftop plants appears unattainable

What are the reasons for poor performance of Rooftop Solar installations?

  1. Not an attractive alternative
  • For individual house owners, rooftop solar is still not an attractive alternative to the subsidized power supplied by the electricity distribution companies (discoms)
  • Discoms find ways of preventing big consumers such as factories, shopping malls from putting up rooftop solar plants and generating their own power because these are the customers from which discoms derive their sustenance
  1. Net metering not allowed/partially allowed
  • Many states disallow ‘net metering’, which measures the power put into the grid by the rooftop plants
  • Others impose a cap on the capacity allowed for net metering
  1. Bias for large size
  • The government-owned SECI , a renewable energy facilitating company, would come out with tenders on behalf of interested discoms
  • The bidders who quote the least tariff will put up the rooftop plants and sell power to the discom
  • By selecting the rooftop plants only through competitive bidding, the proposed policy comes with a bias for large size

What can be done to promote rooftop solar installations?

  • A better approach would be generation-based incentives (GBI), say, ‘50 paise for every kWhr generated, perhaps capped at Rs. 1 lakh for a MW of capacity’.
  • A similar scheme served the wind industry well until it was scrapped last year. The GBI could be limited to, say, the first 10 years, by which time the firm would have serviced its debt. A suitably structured GBI would lower the prices for the discoms to be attracted to it.

FAQ : http://solarrooftop.gov.in/FAQ



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