Beyond The Editorial
- Electoral bond is a bearer instrument in the manner of a promissory note and an interest free banking instrument whereby a citizen, or a corporate body, in India is eligible to purchase through cheque or digital payments.
- These bonds can only be bought from notified branches of the public sector bank for 10 days each in months of January, April, July and October. The electoral bonds can be purchased for specified denominations and the payee then can bestow it upon a registered political party as donation which can then be cashed in via the party's verified account within 15 days.
- The bonds shall not carry the donor's name, although the payee will have to fulfil KYC (Know Your Customer) norms at the bank. Further, no report is required to be submitted by receiving parties in case of donations received via electoral bonds. In short, neither the donors nor the political parties are obliged to reveal the sources of donations.
- Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via this account.
Objective of electoral bond
- For bringing in transparency in political funding.
What makes electoral bonds controversial?
While Electoral Bond Scheme acts as a check against traditional under-the-table donations as it insists on cheque and digital paper trails of transactions, several key provisions of the scheme make it highly controversial.
- Anonymity: Neither the donor (who could be an individual or a corporate) nor the political party is obligated to reveal whom the donation comes from. This undercuts a fundamental constitutional principle: the freedom of political information, which is an integral element of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.
- Electoral bonds could become vehicle for money laundering for shell companies, for foreign donations
- It become difficult for voters to hold their elected representatives accountable when they cannot see who is financing them
- Transparency: It will also defeat the fundamental principle of transparency in political finance. It will conceal from public scrutiny the identity of the corporates and moneybags who contribute huge amounts to political parties, especially to the ruling parties resulting in more opacity, making it a convenient channel for black money.
- Asymmetrically Opaque: because the bonds are purchased through the SBI, the government is always in a position to know who the donor is. This asymmetry of information threatens to colour the process in favour of whichever political party is ruling at the time.
- Provisions such as elimination of a cap of 7.5% when it comes to corporate donations, elimination of the requirement that corporations must reveal political contributions in profit and loss statements, and the elimination of the requirement that a corporation must be three years in existence undercuts the intent of the scheme and thus any troubled companies, dying companies, shell companies can donate to an unlimited amount, and do so anonymously.
- EBS could become a convenient channel for business to round-trip their cash parked in tax havens to political parties for a favour or advantage granted in return for something.
- National Election Fund can be created by the donation given by individuals and corporations. Such a fund could be declared as the only channel through which businesses and individuals can contribute to political parties. The Election Commission can decide how the donations are shared among parties.
- Another alternative can be the implementation of Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998) report that endorsed state funding of elections, in order to establish a fair playing field for parties with less money. However the mechanics of this process need to be carefully worked out to establish the allocation of money to national parties, State parties and independent candidates.
- Successive governments have promised electoral reforms and have setup committees to look into the matter. It is imperative that the authorities enforce these reforms and cleanse our electoral process of the vicious circle of corruption and black money that threatens the very foundation of our democracy.
- Removal of the cap on corporate donations and the companies must disclose details of their political funding
- Bring political parties under RTI
- Unless drastic and radical steps are taken to cleanse public offices by the government, political parties and people at large, corruption will continue to corrode the vitals of the country.
- State funding of election recommended by Dinesh Goswami committee
Relevance: GS 2 - Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability
RBI and repo rate changes
- After five consecutive rate cuts, beginning February, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to pause its rate cut cycle.
- The inflationary trend in the economy and fiscal slippage are the reasons for leaving the repo rate unchanged
RBI repo rate stands are
- Accommodative stand
- RBI may reduce the rates to boost economy. Its committed when the inflation is under control. It may also indicate slow economic growth.
- Neutral stand
- RBI may increase or decrease the rates according to the need of the hour. It usually denotes stable economic condition.
- Calibrated tightening stand
- RBI may increase or keep the rates unchanged. It’s committed when the economy is in a inflationary situation.
Relevance: Prelims – Indian Economy
Why in news?
The Odisha government has decided to merge its flagship scheme (KALIA) to provide assistance to farmers with the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding from Government of India. It was announced in February 2019.
- Under the Scheme, income support of Rs.6000/- per year is provided to all farmer families across the country in three equal instalments of Rs.2000/- each every four months.
- Definition of the family for the Scheme is husband, wife and minor children. The entire responsibility of identification of beneficiary farmer families rests with the State / UT Governments.
- The fund is directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
- The scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
About KALIA Scheme:
- Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation(Kalia) scheme of Odisha is a direct cash transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers.
- It seeks to provide financial assistance of Rs.25, 000 per farm family over five seasons to small and marginal farmers so that farmers can purchase farm inputs use assistance towards labour and other investments.
- Further, it seeks to provide financial assistance of Rs.12500 to each landless Agricultural Household for carrying out agricultural allied activities.
Relevance: Prelims – Schemes & Initiatives
BRICS remote Sensing Satellite Constellation
Why in news: Space agencies of the BRICS group of nations have been negotiating a framework agreement to formalise the cooperation on building a ‘virtual constellation of remote-sensing satellites’.
About BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation
- 1st BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Consultation Forum was held In Brazil in 2017.
- To intensify cooperation among BRICS members and promote bilateral and multilateral relations.
- To carry out resources sharing in order to improve the efficiency of satellite observations for the BRICS countries.
- The constellation would be implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1: Virtual Satellite Constellation: The purpose of the virtual constellation is to get access to satellite remote sensing data. This could be used by the individual BRICS nations for various applications including natural resources management and disaster management.
- Phase 2: Real Satellite Constellation
- BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies that have similar economic development. The five countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Brazil is the current chair of BRICS
- The acronym was first used in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill.
- In 2010, South Africa was officially admitted as a BRIC nation following an invitation from China and the other BRIC nations, making the current acronym BRICS.
- The BRICS represents 43% of the world's population, 30% of gross domestic product and 17% of global trade.
Relevance: International Relations – Prelims & Mains (GS 2)
GOAL - Going Online as Leaders
- It is a digitally-enabled mentorship initiative of Facebook for empowering tribal youth to become leaders for tomorrow in the respective fields.
- Project is stated to aim at identifying and mobilizing renowned people from industry (policy makers and influencers), known for their leadership skills or roles, to digitally empower and personally mentor tribal youth from tribal communities across multiple locations of India.
- The initiative has been designed to identify and attach 1 Mentor who is expert in their respective fields, to four tribal youth, who will be trained and mentored.
- In the second phase of the program, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Fb together will digitally mentor 5000 young women in India’s tribal dominated districts.
Relevance: Current events of national importance
Why in news: India has requested for an early delivery of Meteor air-to-air missiles from France.
- Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM).
- The missile has a strike range of 150 km and no escape zone of 60 km. The no escape zone of this missile is the largest in the world according to its manufacturers.
- These missiles are to be attached to the Rafale jets.
- These missiles will also provide India the power to take on US supplied AMRAAM missiles possessed by the Pakistan Air Force.
About No-Escape Zone:
- The No-Escape Zone is the zone within which there is a high (defined) kill probability against a target even if it has been alerted.
- This zone is defined as a conical shape with the tip at the missile launch.
Relevance: Prelims – Current events of national importance - Defense