1. A case of the court straying into the legislative sphere
2. Foreign Trade Policy Revamp
3. State of Fertilizer Sector in India
1. A case of the court straying into the legislative sphere.
Theme : Significance of separation of power, role in judiciary in checks and balances, law making power of Parliament.
Related Paper : GS - 2
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What is Dowry & Impact of Dowry System
- Indian Laws Against Dowry
- Supreme Court Judgment on Dowry
- Judicial Overreach
- Checks & Balances
- Possible Solutions to check Misuse
The Allahabad HighCourt, while allowing two criminal revisions pertaining to a dowry case, took cognisance of the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code(IPC). The High Court expressed its concern over the growing tendency of dowry victims to rope in the husband and all his family members using general and sweeping allegations.
What is Dowry & Impact of Dowry System :
- It is a social evil in society that has caused unimaginable tortures and crimes towards women and polluted the Indian marital system.
- Dowry is payment made in cash or kind to a bride’s in-laws at the time of her marriage.
- The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 was brought to not only to eradicate the dowry system, but also to uplift the status of the girl child by bringing in many schemes.
- However, owing to the social nature of this problem, the legislation has failed to produce the desired results in our society.
Impact of Dowry System:
- Gender Discrimnation: Due to the dowry system, many a times it has been seen that women are seen as a liability and are often subjected to subjugation and are given second hand treatment may it be in education or other amenities.
- Affecting Career of Women: The larger context for the practice of dowry is the poor presence of women in the workforce, and their consequent lack of financial independence.
- The Poorer sections of society who send their daughters out to work and earn some money, to help them save up for her dowry.
- The regular middle and upper class backgrounds do send their daughters to school, but don’t emphasize career options.
- Many Women End Up Being Unmarried: An uncountable number of girls in the country, despite being educated and professionally competent, remain endlessly unmarried because their parents cannot fulfill the demand for pre-marriage dowry.
- Objectification of Women: Contemporary dowry is more like an investment by the bride’s family for plugging into powerful connections and money making opportunities. This renders women as merely articles of commerce.
- Crime Against Women: In some cases, the dowry system leads to crime against women, ranging from emotional abuse and injury to even deaths.
Indian Laws Against Dowry :
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 :
Under this Act, dowry is illegal in India.
The Act also makes any act to take or give dowry punishable in India.
The negotiations for the dowry for a lesser deal from the groom’s side when the bride’s side is unable to fulfill the actual demand/real deal’ and the act of making the bride’s family fulfill demands as compensation for marrying their daughter after the wedding are all punishable under the law.
The punishment for violating the anti-dowry law is imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of Rs. 15,000 or the value of dowry given, whichever is more.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections:
Section 304B deals with dowry death in India.
It states that if a woman dies within seven years of marriage by any burns or bodily injury or it was revealed that before her marriage she was exposed to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any other relative of the husband in connection to demand dowry then the death of the woman will be considered as dowry death.
Section 498A deals with cruelty: It states that if a husband or any relative of him causes mental or physical harm to a woman then they will be held punishable under this section.
Supreme Court Judgment on Dowry :
- Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar vs Union of India(2018):theSupreme Court overturned the judgment of its two judge Bench and held constitution of committees and an embargo on arrest by the police for one month till the submission of report by the family welfare committee, impermissible under the scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC)
- Rajesh Sharma vs The State Of U.P., 2017: It also dealt with the growing misuse of dowry provisions.
- Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (1997): The Supreme Court issued directions to enforce fundamental rights in the absence of law in certain cases of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Judicial Overreach :
- When Judicial Activism goes overboard, and becomes Judicial Adventurism, it is referred to as Judicial Overreach.
- In simpler terms, it is when the judiciary starts interfering with the proper functioning of the legislative or executive organs of the government.
- Judicial Overreach is undesirable in a democracy as it breaches the principle of separation of powers.
- In view of this criticism, the judiciary has argued that it has only stepped when the legislature or the executive has failed in its own functions.
Checks & Balances :
On Judiciary: Impeachment and the removal of the judges. Power to amend laws declared ultra vires by the Court and revalidating it.
On Executive: Through a no-confidence vote it can dissolve the Government. Power to assess works of the executive through the question hour and zero hour. Impeachment of the President.
On Judiciary: Making appointments to the office of Chief Justice and other judges.
On Legislature: Powers under delegated legislation. Authority to make rules for regulating their respective procedure and conduct of business subject to the provisions of this Constitution.
On Executive: Judicial review i.e. the power to review executive action to determine if it violates the Constitution.
On Legislature: Unamendability of the constitution under the basic structure doctrine pronounced by the Supreme Court in Kesavananda Bharati Case 1973.
Possible Solutions to check Misuse :
- In order to check false cases of dowry and avoidable incarcerations, following solutions seem plausible as follows:
- Adherence to guidelines: The police must strictly enforce the Supreme Court’s directions issued in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014) and ensure that there is sufficient reason and credible material against the accused person to necessitate arrest.
- Training and sensitization: The investigating officers must be imparted rigorous training with regard to the principles stated by the Court relating to arrest.
- Departmental investigation: The wrong-doers also need to be punished departmentally.
- Bailable offense: The legislature may deliberate upon and make Section 498A IPC bailable.
- Legislative action: The legislature can amend and make the offense under Section 498A IPC compoundable so that a compromise could be arrived at with or without the permission of the competent court. This will not only save cost to the parties in dispute but also the High Court’s valuable time.
- Institutional support: Once the Mediation Bill, 2021 is enacted, the institutional mediation mechanism may also help in settling the matrimonial dispute through the civil route.
2. Foreign Trade Policy Revamp.
Theme : Indian Economy
Related Paper : GS - 3
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What is Foreign Trade Policy
- New Policy
- Aim & Requirement
The Government will release a new Foreign Trade Policy that could include measures to help push up goods and services exports as well as rein in the runaway import bill.
What is Foreign Trade Policy?
- Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) has been revisited and notified every five years since the 1991 economic reforms.
- It has been delayed since April 2020 and further extended by six months up to September 30, 2022. The last FTP was notified in 2015, since then it has been periodically extended.
- A FTP sets out the regulations for cross-border trade and reveals the government's position on a host of concomitant yet crucial policy variables such as technology flow, intangibles, and so on.
New Policy :
- New FTP to be implemented from October 1 2022.
- The new policy will focus on promoting ease of trade, e-commerce, IT-enablement, R&D and export hubs and lowering transaction costs.
- The new FTP will come with a vision statement and provide a roadmap for reaching $1 trillion exports in goods as well as services by 2030.
- Focus on e-commerce; to help MSMEs , district hubs.
- Promote digitisation, make available facilities online.
Aim & Requirement :
- The current foreign trade policy had certain limitations, which cropped up from time to time. Some export-oriented businesses have been adversely impacted by certain ad hoc, mistimed, and contradictory changes to the 2015 FTP. The 2015 FTP incentivised exports by issuing duty-credit scrips directly in proportion to exports.
- Given the economic hardship caused by the pandemic, exporters are hoping that the new FTP will work in a phased manner to address export constraints, review the regulatory and operational framework to reduce the transit costs and create a low-cost operating environment through developed logistics and utility infrastructure.
- The prime objective of a foreign trade policy is to facilitate trade by reducing transaction and transit costs and time. Due to inadequate upgraded export infrastructure such as ports, warehouses and supply chains, the average turnaround time for ships in India is about three days while the world average is 24 hours.
- The new FTP must enable exporters to leverage technology in the field of foreign trade. This will be particularly beneficial for MSMEs to compete with their global peers.
- India needs to invest in upgrading export infrastructure such as ports, warehouses, quality testing and certification centers to stay ahead of technology-advanced countries such as China, which plans to spend $1.4 trillion on infrastructure between 2019 and 2023.
- Similarly, India also needs to adopt modern trade practices that can be implemented through the digitisation of export processes.This will save both time and cost.
- The government must help MSMEs planning to tap the export potential in existing tariff lines and provide policy support to raise the number of exporting MSMEs and increase MSME exports by 50 per cent in 2022-23.
- It will have to find ways to provide a leg-up to exports and address some of industry’s key concerns, including a buffer against rising interest rates.
- It should be ‘flexible’ enough to deal with various uncertainties and geopolitical challenges that the world has been witnessing over more than two years.
3. State of Fertilizer Sector in India.
Theme : Economic Issues,Allied Agriculture Activities
Related Paper : GS - 3
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Fertilizer Sector In India
- Challenges in Fertilizer Sector
- What is the Issue of Fertilizer Subsidy?
- Steps taken by the Government in Fertilizer Sector
- Road Ahead
The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers will implement One Nation One Fertilizer (ONOF) under the fertilizer subsidy scheme named “Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Jan Urvarak Pariyojna '' (PMBJP).
Fertilizer Sector In India :
- Fertilizers are substances that provide one or more of the chemicals required for plant growth. Fertilizers can be both organic and inorganic.
- The benchmark that the food industry in India has set in terms of annual production is primarily due to the many technically competent fertilizer-producing companies in the country.
- In the present scenario, niti.gov.in states that 56 large plants produce nitrogenous, phosphatic, and complex fertilizers and 72 medium and small fertilizer production units in the Indian fertilizer industry, have single super Phosphate (SSP).
- The main products manufactured by the fertilizer industry in India are phosphate-based fertilizers, nitrogenous fertilizers, and complex fertilizers. With its rapid growth, the fertilizer industry in India is all set to make a long-lasting global impression.
Challenges in Fertilizer Sector :
1.Distortion in use due to price difference
The shift in the composition of fertilizer used: The high price differences among fertilizers (Nitrogen is much cheaper than Potassium and Phosphorus) have disturbed the relative prices of various fertilizers and resulted in a big shift in the composition of fertilizers used in the country in favor of urea and thus Nitrogen.
Further, the composition of total plant nutrients in terms of the N, P, K ratio deviated considerably from the recommended or optimal NPK mix. It was 33.7:8.0:1 in Punjab and 1.3:0.7:1 in Kerala.
2. Increasing fertilizer subsidy
Fertilizer subsidy has doubled in a short period of three years. For 2021-22, the Union Budget has estimated fertilizer subsidy at ?79,530 crores (from ?66,468 crores in 2017-18).
The subsidy is likely to reach a much higher level due to the recent upsurge in the prices of energy, the international prices of urea and other fertilizers, and India’s dependence on imports.
3. Import dependence
Total demand for urea: The total demand for urea in the country is about 34-35 million tonnes whereas the domestic production is about 25 million tonnes.
The requirement for Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) is about 12 million tonnes and domestic production is just 5 million tonnes.
Lesser expansion of Irrigation facilities and consequent low fertilizer consumption leads to low demand and therefore, restricts the growth of the industry.
Use of Obsolete Technology: Most of the fertilizer industry operates under PSUs that are using decade-old technology and thus making huge losses and also the competitive edge.
What is the Issue of Fertilizer Subsidy?
- According to Economic Survey 2016, the fertilizer sector is highly regulated, which causes a major distortion in the sector. The subsidy which is intended to help small farmers benefits a small proportion of them.
- According to the survey, 24 per cent is spent on inefficient urea producers of the remaining, 41 per cent is diverted to non-agricultural uses and abroad; of the remaining, 24 per cent is consumed by large farmers.
- Fertilizer subsidy ultimately goes to the fertilizer company, even though it is the farmer who benefits.
- Before 2018, companies were reimbursed after the material was dispatched and received by the district railhead or designated godown.
- 2018 saw the beginning of DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer), which would transfer money directly to the retailer’s account. However, the companies will be paid only after the actual sale to the farmer.
Steps taken by the Government in Fertilizer Sector :
Nutrient Based Subsidy(NBS) scheme :
- Under the NBS regime – fertilizers are provided to the farmers at subsidized rates based on the nutrients (N, P, K & S) contained in these fertilizers.
- Also, fertilizers that are fortified with secondary and micronutrients such as molybdenum (Mo) and zinc are given additional subsidies.
- The subsidy on Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers is announced by the Government on an annual basis for each nutrient on a per kg basis – which is determined taking into account the international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rate, inventory level in the country etc.
- NBS policy intends to increase the consumption of P&K fertilizers so that the optimum balance (N:P:K= 4:2:1) of NPK fertilization is achieved.
One Nation One Fertilizer Scheme
- The Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers issued a memo announcing the implementation of the “One Nation One Fertilizer” scheme under which a single brand and logo for fertilizers will have to be used by all manufacturers under the Centre’s fertilizer subsidy scheme newly renamed as a Prime Minister’s scheme- “Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna” (PMBJP).
- The single brand name for UREA, DAP, MOP and NPK etc. would be BHARAT UREA, BHARAT DAP, BHARAT MOP and BHARAT NPK etc. respectively for all Fertilizer Companies, State Trading Entities (STEs) and Fertilizer Marketing Entities (FMEs).
- Also, a logo indicating the Fertilizer subsidy scheme namely Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janurvarak Pariyojna will be used on said fertilizer bags.
- Under the scheme, companies are allowed to display their name, brand, logo and other relevant product information only on one-third space of their bags.
- On the remaining two-thirds space, the “Bharat” brand and Pradhanmantri Bharatiya Jan Urvarak Pariyojana logo will have to be shown.
Road Ahead :
- Extend the NBS model to urea: There is a need to extend the NBS model to urea and allow for price rationalization of urea compared to non-nitrogenous fertilizers and prices of crops.
- Improve innovation: To scale up and improve innovations to develop alternative fertilizers.
- Improve fertilizer efficiency: India should pay attention to improving fertilizer efficiency through need-based use rather than broadcasting fertilizer in the field.