Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

‘Tele-law services empowering voiceless’

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 08th July-2021

Topics

  • Ministry of Co-operation
  • West Bengal Assembly gives nod to revive Vidhana Parishad after 52 years
  • River Conservation Plans
  • Open Network for Digital Commerce
  • ‘Tele-law services empowering voiceless’

 

  1. Ministry of Co-operation

#GS2 #Government Policies and Intervention # Development Processes and the Development Industry

Context: Recently, a separate ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ has been created by the Union Government for realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through Cooperation)

About the new Ministry of Co-operation:

  • In India, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
  • This ministry will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
  • It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people based movement reaching upto the grassroots.
  • The Ministry will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).
  • With this move, the Government has signalled its deep commitment to community based developmental partnership.
    • It also fulfils the budget announcement made by the finance minister in 2021.

About ‘Co-operatives’:

  • A cooperative is defined as 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.”

-ILO Recommendation 193

  • Cooperatives are important in improving the living and working conditions of women and men globally as well as making essential infrastructure and services available even in areas neglected by the state and investor-driven enterprises.
  • Cooperatives have a proven record of creating and sustaining employment – they are estimated to provide at least 279 million jobs today; they contribute to promoting decent work and advancing sustainable development goals.
  • There are many types of cooperatives such as Consumer Cooperative Society, Producer Cooperative Society, Credit Cooperative Society, Housing Cooperative Society and Marketing Cooperative Society.
  • India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.

Characteristics of Cooperative Society

  • Voluntary Association: The membership of a cooperative society is voluntary in nature, i.e it is as per the choice of people.
  • Open Membership: The membership of a cooperative society is open to all i.e, membership is open to all, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.
  • A cooperative society needs to get registered in order to be considered a legal entity.
  • The members of a cooperative society will have limited liability.
  • They have a Democratic Character with a service motive.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Cooperatives:

  • The Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 added a new Part IXB right after Part IXA (Municipals) regarding the cooperatives working in India.
  • 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”.

Importance of Cooperatives:

  • It provides agricultural credits and funds where state and private sectors have not been able to do very much.
  • It provides strategic inputs for the agricultural-sector; consumer societies meet their consumption requirements at concessional rates.
  • The products that are sold in the cooperative societies are cheaper than the market.
  • The products that are sold in the cooperative societies are cheaper than the market.
    • There is no black marketing involved.
  • It creates a conducive environment for small and cottage industries.

Challenges and Disadvantages:

  • Mismanagement and Manipulation
  • People are not well informed about the objectives of the Movement, rules and regulations of co-operative institutions.
  • Most of these societies are confined to a few members and their operations extended to only one or two villages.
  • The Co-operative Movement has suffered from inadequacy of trained personnel from times.

Road Ahead:

  • Cooperatives can become crucial to eradicate poverty and for economic development. Israel’s success story for their KIBUTZ is world famous.
  • With the formation of new ministry, the country has taken the right step to ensure the a vibrant cooperative sector builds upon the past successes.
  • New areas are emerging with the advancement of technology and cooperative societies can play a huge role in making people familiar with those areas and technologies.
  • Stricter implementation of rules to check irregularities in cooperatives
  • There should be market linkages for agricultural farmers as well as cooperative societies.

 

  1. West Bengal Assembly gives nod to revive Vidhana Parishad after 52 years

#GS2 # Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning

Context: The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to set up a Legislative Council with a two-thirds majority.

About:

  • The revival of the West Bengal Legislative Council was one of the promises featured prominently in the TMC’s poll manifesto before 2021 elections.
  • Currently, six states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka — have a Legislative Council.
  • In West Bengal Legislative Assembly, since the maximum number of MLAs is 294, the maximum number of West Bengal Vidhan Parishad seats is likely to be 98.

When was Bengal Vidhana Parishad dissolved?

  • Bengal had a Vidhana Parishad from 1952 to 1969. The Bengal legislative council was dissolved with effect from 1 August, 1969, during the time of United Front government in the state

How is a Vidhana Parishad (legislative council) created?

  • As per Article 169 of the Constitution, in order to create or dissolve a Legislative Council in a state, a resolution to that effect has to be passed by the Legislative Assembly of the state by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.
  • The passed resolution will now be moved to the Governor for his/her assent.
  • Following that, the matter will have to be tabled before the Parliament for to include the particular state in Article 168 of the Constitution as a state with two houses.
  • Once both Houses of the Parliament clear the resolution, it will go to the President of India for his assent.
  • The changes, however, are not considered as constitutional amendment.

Composition

  • Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total strength of the State Assembly, and not less than 40 members.
  • Like the Rajya Sabha, the legislative council is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution. The tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.

How are members of the Council elected?

  • 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.
  • 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.
  • 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.
  • 1/12th by registered graduates.
  • The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.

Arguments in Favour of Council:

  • A Legislative Council can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House.
  • The Legislative Council also enables non-elected individuals to contribute to the legislative process.

Arguments Against:

  • Legislative Council can delay legislation.
  • It can also be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

Other Legislative Bodies of India Political System:

Legislative Council V/s Rajya Sabha :

  • Limited Power: The legislative power of the Councils is limited. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
  • Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to legislation by the Council.
  • Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President. The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson while a member from the Council itself is chosen as the Council Chairperson.

 

  1. River Conservation Plans:

#GS3 #Conservation related issues #Water Pollution

Context: National Mission for Clean Ganga has released a policy document on the conservation of river Ganga.

Highlights of the policy:

  • Cities situated on Ganga River banks will have to incorporate river conservation plans when they prepare their Master Plans.
  • These “river-sensitive” plans must be practical and consider questions of encroachment and land ownership.
  • There is a need for a systematic rehabilitation plan for such encroaching entities that emphasizes alternative livelihood options in addition to a relocation strategy.
  • The Master Plan shouldn’t mandate specific technologies, but it can “create an environment” for facilitating the use of state-of-the-art technologies (without naming the providers) for river management.
  • The recommendations are currently for towns that are on the main stem of the river Ganga. There are 97 of them encompassing 5 States — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal.

Namami Gange Programme:

  • Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • It is being operated under the Department of Water Resources,River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • The program is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program ManagementGroups (SPMGs).
  • NMCG is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council (set in 2016; which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NRGBA).
    • It is a registered society, originally formed by Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 12th August 2011 under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
    • But now both NGRBA and NMCG are allocated to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation(MoWR,RD &GR).
  • It has a Rs. 20,000-crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects.
  • The main pillars of the programme are:

 

  1. Open Network for Digital Commerce

#GS2 #Government Policies and Interventions

Context:

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has issued orders appointing an advisory committee for its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) project that is aimed at curbing “digital monopolies”.

Key Details:

  • Appointment of advisory committee is in the direction of making e-commerce processes open source, thus creating a platform that can be utilised by all online retailers.
  • Earlier, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs released draft e-commerce rules for consumer protection which seek to bring changes to how e-commerce marketplaces, including Amazon and Flipkart, operate after small businesses complained that they misuse market dominance and deep-discounting to gain an unfair advantage.

What processes are expecting to be open-sourced with this project?

  • The ONDC aims at promoting open networks developed on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols, independent on any specific platform.
  • The project to integrate e-commerce platforms through a network based on open-source technology has been tasked to the Quality Council of India.
  • Sellers will be onboarded through open networks. Other open-source processes will include those such as vendor and price discovery; and product cataloguing.
  • The format will be similar to the one which is used in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Mega e-commerce companies have proprietary processes and technology for these operations.
  • Marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, BigBasket and Grofers will need to register on the ONDC platform to be created by DPIIT and QCI.
  • On ONDC, buyers and sellers may transact irrespective of the fact that they are attached to one specific e-commerce portal.

What is the meaning and significance of making something open-source?

  • Making a software or a process open-source means that the code or the steps of that process is made available freely for others to use, redistribute and modify it.
    • For example, while the operating system of Apple’s iPhones — iOS — is closed source, meaning it cannot be legally modified or reverse engineered, Google’s Android operating system is open-source, and therefore it is possible by smartphone OEMs such as Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, etc to modify it for their hardware.
  • If the ONDC gets implemented and mandated, it would mean that all e-commerce companies will have to operate using the same processes.
  • This could give a huge booster shot to smaller online retailers and new entrants.
  • ONDC is expected to digitise the entire value chain, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiency in logistics and enhance value for consumers.

Quality Council of India

  • QCI was set up in 1997 by the government of India jointly with Indian industry (represented by CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM) as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • QCI establishes and operates the National Accreditation Structure for conformity assessment bodies; providing accreditation in the field of education, health and quality promotion.
  • The Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the industry to the government.
  • Quality Council of India publishes a quarterly magazine known as “Quality India”
  • Quality Council of India is governed by a Council comprising of 38 members including the Chairman and Secretary General.
  • The Council has an equal representation of Government, Industry and other Stakeholders.

 

  1. ‘Tele-law services empowering voiceless’

#GS2 #Welfare Schemes #E-governance

Context: The recent event to mark the coverage of more than nine lakh beneficiaries of the government’s tele-law scheme through Common Service Centres.

  • Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), that serves as the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.

Background of Tele-Law:

  • It was launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2017.
  • Through this initiative, the Department of Justice has partnered with NALSA and CSC e-Governance Service India Limited for mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalised communities through Common Services Centre (CSC).
  • Tele-Law means the use of communications and information technology for the delivery of legal information and advice.
  • This e-interaction between lawyers and people would be through the video-conferencing infrastructure available at the CSCs.
  • The concept of Tele-Law is to facilitate the delivery of legal advice through a panel of lawyers stationed at the State Legal Services Authorities (SALSA) and CSC.
  • The project initiates to connect citizens with lawyers through telephone and video conferencing facilities by the Para-Legal Volunteers stationed at identified 50,000 CSCs.
  • It is presently operating in 633 districts (including 115 Aspirational Districts) across 34 States/UTs through a network of 50,000 CSCs.
  • Even though the Tele-law programme is technology driven, its success is dependent on the working of field functionaries comprising Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs), Para Legal Volunteers (PLVs), State Coordinators and Panel Lawyers.

How does it work?

Significance:

  • It will help provide access to affordable and quality legal advice across the country including those in the rural areas.
  • By improving access to legal advice for women, the facility could also become a source of gender justice and empowerment.
  • Tele-law has the potential to foster inclusive justice delivery and strengthening rule of law across the country.
  • According to a recent report titled ‘Quality of Legal Representation: An Empirical Analysis of Free Legal Aid Services in India’, the majority of the people who are entitled to the free legal aid system see the service as an option only when they cannot afford a private lawyer.
  • This initiative is in line with Sustainable Development Goal-16, which seeks to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

 

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