India-China Border Dispute

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Since early May 2020, India and China have again engaged in a military standoff. This time, the centre of the army tension is in Pangong Tso, Ladakh. The Chinese government has objected to the improvement of infrastructure by India in the Galwan River valley area. India has been building roads in this region, and the Chinese military thinks this to be a step in India attacking China. Both countries have deployed extra military force on the Indio-China border to tackle if the situation gets worse.

Military-level talks were held at the Chushul-Moldo region on June 10. The meeting was to discuss a plan to reduce the number of troops deployed on the border by both nations. The Indian defence minister, Rajnath Singh, has stated that these military-level talks with china were ‘positive,’ and both countries have discussed plans to withdraw their troops from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Background

Both the Asian nations have engaged in a border dispute from the Twentieth century over the sovereign control of Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim. The boundary between India and China is ambiguous in many places, causing the dispute.  British India and China agreed upon the Johnson line in 1865. This line puts the Aksai Chin area under Jammu and Kashmir, India. The Chinese denied following this line after Xinjiang became a part of China. China claimed the Aksai Chin area as its own. India continued to follow the Johnson line till its independence. In 1954, Nehru decided to establish a well-marked border between India and China.

  For the border on the east, a conference was held in 1913-14 between British India, China, and Tibet called the Shimla conference. Henry McMohan drew a boundary between Tibet and India, which is known as the McMohan Line. China disagreed on the more-detailed boundary line, and India and Tibet signed the border without China. China argued that Tibet is not an independent state and thus lacks powers to enter into a treaty. India justified this line based on the position of Himalayas, and these regions were heavily influenced by India. China wanted to acquire Indian areas in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tibet because the dynasty that ruled China once had control over these areas.

Facts of the issue

The 1050s

China builds roads connecting Tibet to its Xinjiang province in the 1950s, and part of the road went through Aksai Chin, which was Indian territory. India came to know about this issue in 1957. Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, argued that the Aksai Chin is a part of India as per the Johnson Line, and he explained that it had remained with India for a long time, thus giving China no right to build anything in the area. The Chinese side argued that Aksai Chin was a part of China under the Macartney-MacDonald Line. Officials from both sides met and held talks to resolve the issue. The two countries failed to reach a unanimous conclusion.

1962 war

China won the 1662 Indo-China war held at Aksai Chin and Assam frontiers. China had more strength and weapons than India, then. The major causes of the war included disputes about the border between the two nations and the fact that conflicts between India and China when India gave refuge to Tibetan Dalai Lama in 1959.

1967

Chinese forces launched a dual attack on India in 1967. The first attack at Nathu La pass in September 1967, and the second one at Cho La pass in October of the same year. India fought the opponent’s forces and emerged victorious and managed to protect its territory from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

In 1993, India adopted the LAC. It is a line which roughly demarcates the area controlled by the Indian government and Indian are under the Chinese control. China extended its power during the 1962 war to the Aksai Chin and Gilgit Baltic regions of Jammu and Kashmir, India. In 2015, during his visit to China, PM Narendra Modi urged the Chinese government to clarify the LAC. The proposal was rejected by China.

2013-15

Both countries continued to engage in military standoffs during this period. China kept invading India beyond LAC. This led to tensions between the militaries of both countries, but troops of both nations always withdrew back before anything escalated. China also opposed the development of Indian territory close to LAC.

Doklam Standoff of 2017

This standoff close to the Doka La pass has been the most prolonged standoff between both the nations. The dispute emerged as China started building a road in Doklam, a region considered to be disputed by India and Bhutan. Under an agreement between China and Bhutan, both countries were required to maintain the status quo in the area. The Chinese authorities claimed that India had obstructed a road being built on the Chinese territory. India defended itself, stating that both countries have to maintain the status quo as per the agreement. This dispute continued from June 16 to August 28, when both the countries decided to call back their troops.

Legal provisions:

The international law in border disputes sates that countries involved in the conflict should maintain a status quo. While this status quo for Chinese authorities refers maintain the Line of Actual Control (LAC), keeping their troops in the Chinese occupied Indian regions, for India, status quo means observing the traditional boundary between the states, thus pushing back the Chinese forces back to the Johnson line. International law also requires an in-depth study of the maps issued by both the countries involved in a border dispute. There is no precise official map available from both sides, which can be considered to resolve the issue.

To take maps as evidence for resolving border disputes, it must be proved that the cartographer of the maps did a detailed study of the geography and border between states, and the maps should be accurate even on a larger scale. This favours India. The Indian claims on the boundary between the two nations rest on the natural border, i.e., the Himalayas. The concept of the natural barrier also supports Indian claims to the boundary between India and China. However, only these rationales cannot decide the international border between any countries. Surveys should be carried out, the information should be gathered from the local inhabitants, and cultural and administrative facts should be combined before reaching any conclusion.

India-China relations:

Both India and China have a history of relationships with each other, which is as old as 2000 years. Both countries are among the first civilizations of the world. Being neighbouring countries, the relation between India and China has been diplomatic, economical, and cordial. Both countries are part of the Asian continent, thus share some common culture. Also, both were part of the ancient silk-route, therefore, connecting their ties even more. China and India are both very populous countries and both gain independence at the same time. India was among the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China and establish diplomatic relations with it.

India and China are the fastest-growing economies of the world, have trade relations with most of the world. Both have a strong manufacturing sector and are both big markets also. China has made repetitive attempts to invade and occupy Indian territory and managed to be successful some of the time. China is slowly emerging as a world power, dominating the world. It is trying to defeat the USA. India is a threat to Chinese power because of the rapid economic developments and its significant population. Also, India’s popularity, power, and relations with other countries have increased manifold, threatening China. Most of the world supports India now.

Critical analysis:

China seems to be quite desperate to expand its territory and take away from India important areas like Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. It cites that these areas were part of the Chinese empire before being a part of British India. China has support from Pakistan and recently, Nepal. The Jammu and Kashmir area is critical for India to retain as it has been part of the Indian culture for centuries, and the Himalayas in the region serve as a defensive line, protecting India from attacks by China. This recent military standoff of 2020 can be a sign of China to show the world that it still stands strong after the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Coronavirus emerged from China, and now, many countries have filed legal and compensation claims against the state. The world is against China right now. The pandemic has hindered the Chinese economy and has had a brutal impact on its relations with other countries. The removal of article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, which provided the state with its unique powers, may have also angered the Chinese authorities. The Home Minister of India, Amit Shah, also said in a parliamentary meeting that Aksai Chin remains to be a part of the Indian territory. This declaration may have bothered China. These border disputes can also be seen as a part of China’s ambition of world domination because of the way it is invading and occupying India and the way it is asserting control on the South China Sea.

Conclusion:

There exists no clearly-marked border between China and India. While India follows the Johnson Line and the McMohan Line, China is inclined towards the Macartney-MacDonald line. Both countries do not want to let go of the disputed areas, but the Chinese dream of acquiring every piece of land that may have been a part of the Chinese empire once is not practical. This border issue should be resolved with diplomatic and military level talks, and a clear boundary between the nations is a must. War or the involvement of the army between these two very populous and powerful countries is not a viable solution to resolve the issue. Both the countries should sit and hold meetings and should come to a solution to end this dispute forever, without the use of force.

Author: Yashvi Aggarwal from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.

Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Policy Analysis: Ayushman Bharat

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

According to “The Hindu”, to ensure continued critical care in serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease, the National Health Authority has launched its express efforts to put several private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY).

The Hospital Empanelment Module (HEM) Lite will allow patients with serious diseases including cancer, heart problems, and diabetes, whoever needs continued care, to receive stay in the hospital without fear of the infection. “The mechanism is also going to help empanel specialized hospitals COVID-19,” said a statement. As part of our effort to enhance our capacity to serve AB-PMJAY beneficiaries, we have temporarily planned and launched express empaneling of private hospitals to improve the provision of treatment under the scheme, “Dr. Indu Bhushan, CEO, Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, and National Health Authority quoted the release as saying.

The scheme covers more than 1,500 health insurance packages with secondary and tertiary care services, and hospitals are reimbursed at prefixed rates. The AB-PMJAY, a flagship healthcare scheme, provides around 50 crore poor and vulnerable people with coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually.

PMJAY provides the beneficiary with cashless and paperless access to facilities at the point of care at any (public and private) empanelled hospital in India. In other words, a patient from one state will benefit from anywhere in the country from an empanelled hospital.

Significance of this development:-

The move was in line with Covid-19’s current outbreak situation when a number of medical colleges, civic hospitals and district hospitals, which otherwise handled the bulk of patients with AB-PMJAY, were converted as devoted to Covid-19 facilities in States.

With the introduction of the Hospital Empanelment Module (HEM) Lite, patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, heart issues and diabetes requiring continuous care will be able to continue to seek inpatient services without fear of infection.

The mechanism will also help to empanel dedicated COVID-19 hospitals as well, the National Health Authority (NHA) — the health insurance nodal implementing agency said. Hospitals can use a simple, user-friendly online system available on the scheme’s website www.pmjay.gov.in to empanel themselves for a temporary period of 3 months, it said.

The State Health Agency (SHA), which is the state government’s apex body responsible for enforcing AB PM-JAY in the state, can only sign a MoU for three months with a specifically empanelled hospital. At that time, the empanelment between the hospital and SHA will continue, but only after the thorough empaneling process, i.e. the whole form is completed and the District Implementation Unit ((DIU) and the SHA have checked the details of this process.

According to “The Hindu business line”; As of now, more than 8804 private hospitals are stacked in AB PM-JAY in the country, accounting for 51% (96 lakh hospitalizations) and 64% (Rs.13,000 crore) of hospital enrollment. The claim money is transferred to the hospital within 15 days of receipt and a comprehensive remedial program is available.

While the testing and treatment of Covid-19 are already free in public facilities, the Center aimed to make such services accessible for private players through private laboratories and private hospitals. This is critical as private hospitals in many states could be best prepared to deal with Covid-19 cases – with the requisite isolation beds, ICU equipment, ventilators, or respirator facilities.

According to the National Health Mission, the Gujarat government, 127 private hospitals treat Covid-19 patients in Gujarat, while 1,004 private hospitals are being empanelled under the authority of Ayushman.

There are about 2,269 empanelled hospitals in Tamil Nadu under Ayushman, of which 1,170 are public and 1,099 private hospitals. In early April, 110 private hospitals and about 21 government hospitals were approved to treat Covid-19 patients across the state, according to a release released by the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Tamil Nadu. Yet the number of hospitals in Covid-19 has since scaled up. According to TS Selvavinayagam, additional director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, 169 private hospitals in Tamil Nadu are currently approved to treat Covid-19 patients.

According to “The Hindu Businessline”; Treatment costs, both before and post-hospitalization costs, are covered in the empaneled hospitals on the basis of the defined rate packages. The Center has built and finalized a list of around 1,391 packages. Yet states are given a certain amount of freedom to tinker with package prices. In fact, states that already have their own health insurance/insurance systems in place have been permitted to proceed with their current plan rates. Aside from the cost of treating COVID-19-related symptoms, the package would also include extra ICU bed costs, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other expenses.

Salient features of the scheme:-

Ayushman Bharat is a step towards encouraging, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative aspects of Universal Healthcare through access to primary level health and wellness centers (HWCs) and providing financial support for secondary and tertiary access to curative treatment through interaction with both the public and private sectors. It adopts a continuum approach to healthcare, consisting of two linked elements: the creation of 1, 50,000 health and wellness centers, which bring healthcare to people’s homes. These centers will provide Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC), covering both maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services.

Key features:-

  • Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) will pay for hospitalization for secondary and tertiary treatment up to 5 lakhs per family per year.   
  • PMJAY is an entitlement based scheme. This scheme covers poor and vulnerable families based on deprivation and occupational criteria as per SECC (Socio-economic caste census) data.
  • The eligibility for such benefits will extend to over 10.74 crore needy families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries).
  • In any (public as well as private) empanelled Hospitals across India, PMJAY offers cashless and paperless access to beneficiary services at the point of service. All RSBY and SCHIS beneficiary families have the right to PMJAY benefits.
  • The PMJAY will contribute to reducing catastrophic hospital spending which impoverishes people and mitigates the financial risk resulting from disastrous episodes of health.
  • The States are free to choose the methods of implementation under PMAJY. They can enforce the scheme by insurance or by the trust or company or by a mixed model
  • There is no restriction on family size, which ensures that all members of designated families especially girls and elderly people are covered.
  • Hospitals cannot deny care for all pre-existing diseases covered.
  • Families will be able to use the quality health services they need without facing financial hardships.

Legal basis:-

Every citizen in India has the right to receive healthcare that is safe and of high quality. Under the Sustainable Development Goal, the achievement of universal health coverage is a priority. All UN member states, including India, have committed to trying to provide all their people with universal health coverage by the year 2030.

The central government has, however, launched Ayushman Bharat, which offers coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for those enrolled under the scheme and those who are unable to afford secondary and/or tertiary health care without family size restriction.

In a series of cases, the Supreme Court held that the right to health and medical care was a fundamental right under Article 21, read with Articles 39(e), 41, and 43 of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution provides: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.” Article 47 is one of the principles of the Directive and directs the State ‘to increase the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, as one of its primary duties.’ It is, therefore, the duty of the State to take care of public health.

Objectives and purposes:-

The Ayushman Bharat objective is a highly ambitious, unparalleled and transformational initiative in India’s history. In the Indian healthcare industry, in particular the public sector, there are many crises that trigger a lot of pressure.

The ever-increasing cost of treatment is forcing a large number of people to either skip the treatment or sell their assets for treatment. A lot of vulnerable people have to deal with lifestyle as well as infectious or contagious diseases during this process of health transition and many secondary and tertiary care systems do not have the requisite resources and services to provide quality medical care. The vulnerable are deprived of innovative treatments and the resultant worsening of their life quality faces significant health problems. The Ayushman Bharat Scheme represents a significant phase in addressing the problems facing Indian public health.

This initiative is a government-focused effort to resolve the current challenges in primary, secondary and tertiary health care systems. The key aim is to improve primary health care by addressing the challenging problems and to make innovative services available through the implementation of highly affordable insurance schemes. Proper implementation of this project is the main thing, as its aims are quite positive in nature and innovative.

Different research reports suggest, as a result of the increasingly growing cost of treatment, that around 60 million people are poor. This is an extremely disturbing statistic and the Ayushman project answers the underlying problem of disadvantaged people not being affordable for advanced treatments. That is the 500 million families in India protected by the Government’s Health Programme. About 38% of the population would benefit immensely from the flagship plan.

Criticism:-

As with any other policy, the Ayushman Bharat scheme is not averse to commentaries on its shortcomings. The scheme has been the recipient of several allegations hinting towards its failure such as:

  • It has been pointed out that the financial backing for the scheme has been draining the National Health Mission of its resources which in turn has been reducing its aid towards other schemes such as the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Another shortcoming of the scheme relates to the shortage of personnel in healthcare which is a determining factor in the proper implementation of the scheme. The community health centers have witnessed shortfalls in surgeons, physicians and vital staff over the past year.
  • Awareness regarding the benefits offered under the scheme and the means to avail it is poorly communicated as there is not sufficient realization of the same, especially amongst the underprivileged and illiterate people.
  • Finally, the scheme does not account for those who depend on the unorganized sector with absolutely no access to healthcare or insurance.

Probable way forward:-

Since health seems to have earned priority in India, the opportunity should be used as a catalyst for the transformation and strengthening of the decisive and wider health system. Like every other government program, every year PM-JAY requires updates to ensure the system does not fall behind. To this impact, the Government of India needs to review the processing levels for including large hospitals in the system.

Fix infrastructural defects at the grassroots level. Ensure smooth connectivity in such areas as Kashmir and North-East, boost surveillance at all rates to avoid fraud. Ayushman Bharat has been established as a strong initiative to strengthen and meet the healthcare needs of the Indian community, but a long way to go. The need for India to achieve its sustainable development goals and to be a pioneer is an inter-sectoral collaboration and a political commitment to improve the entire health care system.

Conclusion:-

The AB-PMJAY is the unique opportunity to improve health and eradicate a significant cause of poverty for hundreds of millions of Indians. There are however major challenges that must be addressed to allow Indians to realize these benefits and make a sustainable contribution to India’s development towards the UHC (Universal Health Coverage). The success of the UHC is assessed by the community-wide provision of health care, the quality of services offered and the financial security given to the public.

While the implementation of AB-PMJAY has significant resource constraints, the performance of the scheme – or otherwise – in making progress on these three measures would also rely on overcoming other current and relevant systemic deficiencies in the Indian system such as public and private sector governance, governance, quality control, and the organization of the health system.

Author: Md Atif from Faculty of law, AMU.

Editor: Rashmi Senthilkumar from Sastra University, Thanjavur.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs: Powers and Functions

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The pandemic COVID-19 has compelled the governments all around the world to keep on toes. Assessing the gravity of situation on daily basis, the Government of India has been taking various steps as mitigation measures.

Recently, in order to ensure the supply of essential goods during the period of lockdown, the government resorted to increase the monthly quota of subsidised food grains by 2 kg to all 80 Crore beneficiaries through Public Distribution Systems (PDS). Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government was distributing 5kg per person already that has now been pegged at 7 kg.

Furthermore, the prices of staple grains have been zeroed to Rs. 2/Kg for wheat (against Rs. 27/Kg) and Rs.S 3/Kg for rice (against Rs. 32/Kg), a major step to provide relief to the poorest section of the population.

Those decisions were taken by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The supply is being distributed from the buffer stock of Food Corporation of India (FCI) that contains the food grains above the buffer stock norms. Buffer stock norms are the stipulated quantity that has to be at least maintained at the beginning of each quarter to ensure supply to PDS and other schemes of the government. These limits are set by CCEA. The Committee fixes the minimum buffer norms on quarterly basis: i.e. as on 1st April, 1st July, 1st October and 1st January of every financial year.

Significance of this development

A household keeps a stock of essential resources untouched in a storage capacity that can be accessible in the situation of an emergency. Similarly, a nation has the obligation to keep some resources aside that can be used at the time of any exigency. The Government of India has given the task of procuring buffer stock of essential commodities to National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED), Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC).

 On the outbreak of COVID-19, national lockdown was declared for 21 days which implied that the activities with regards to the production and supply of basic amenities can get ruptured.

Fortunately, the officials from FCI, state government agencies and NAFED have assured that there stays a huge stock of wheat, rice and pulses and that it will further ensure the supply and prices stable.

 FCI and government agencies have 30.97 million tonne rice, 27.5 million tonne wheat and un-milled paddy that stand at 28.70 million metric tons, as on March 1. NAFED currently has 2.5-2.8 million tonne of pulses- chana, tur, urad and moong and another 0.7 million tonne groundnut and mustard. It can be deduced from the figures that the current stock of wheat and rice is higher than the buffer and strategic norms. It was recorded that stocking norm of rice is 13.6 million tonnes while for wheat it is 7.5 million tonnes as on April 1.

Besides increasing the monthly quota of subsidised food grains by 2kg, CCEA has permitted the poor households who are beneficiaries of PDS, to lift the stock of 6 months in one go.

Considering the series of decisions taken by CCEA and other authorities, the question that intrigues is: why are such changes being brought? The primary reason is that there is really an enormous stock of over flowing buffer norms. As on July 1, 2019, grain stocks were almost 81 per cent above the buffer stock and strategic reserve norms. The last time India had more than 70 million tonnes of wheat and rice stocks in July was in 2013. However, it can be considered a boon in the context of present situation. Had this not been under our control, the picture would have been a dismal one.

At the same time, as echoed by FCI Chairman D.V. Prasad, India will have enough food grain stock to feed for the next one and a half year since the stock is being anticipated to bloom after the harvest season this year. It was estimated that the warehouses in India will be filled with 100 million tonnes by the end of April while the annual requirement under welfare schemes is of 50 million to 60 million tonnes. Moreover, it should not be ignored that the storage needs to be emptied for the Kharif crops of the upcoming season, as well.

Amid all this, it is important to discuss about CCEA that has taken the responsibility to ensure sufficient supply of essential commodities in order to obliterate any chances of putting the public in distress. As at present the whole governmental machinery has been working day and night to not to let any other problem rise so as to sabotage the very purpose of lockdown i.e. saving lives of Indians at whatever cost. Therefore, taking measures to provide the food supply to the last person belonging to the marginalised section of the society, becomes the aim of the government. Let no one die of Covid-19 or hunger. 

Salient features of CCEA

The subjects in India are managed by three organs of the government, namely- Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. India having federal features, divides its Executives into State and Union. The executive power of the Union finds its constitutionality from Article 53. Besides that, the Article vests the executive power in the hands of President of India. However, the work is not done by the President in-person but de-facto is done by the Prime Minister and its Council of Ministers. That does not infer that President is a redundant entity. Article 77(3) provides that to make the executive business efficient and convenient, the President is authorized to make the rules. Thus, in 1961, Government of India Transaction of Business Rules, 1961 came into existence for disposal of Government Business, inter-alia and it finds its constitutionality from the said Article.

The rules brought by then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, specify everything about the Cabinet Committees. They mention about two sorts of committees- standing and ad-hoc. While, former is of permanent nature, latter is temporary. The rules enumerate various Cabinet Committees for different work areas  and  Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is one among them.

Constitutional validity

The CCEA is not a constitutional body. It does not find its genesis from the Constitution for there is no mention about it, there. Thus, CCEA is considered as extra-constitutional in nature.

Composition of the committee

The composition of the committee varies from time to time. As per TBR 1961, it can constitute members ranging from 3 to 8. However, the strength of the members entirely relies on the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. In usual business, the members are from the Cabinet who constitute the committee. They add members from different ministries, apart from whom, non-cabinet members as ‘special invitees’ can be added, too.

The CCEA was reconstituted after the India’s General Elections in 2019. Presently, the members consist of-

  1. Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi who chairs the committee;
  2. Minister of Defence, Shri Rajnath Singh;
  3. Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah;
  4. Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Shri Nitin Gadkari;
  5. Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri DV Sadananda Gowda;
  6. Minister of Finance; Minister of Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman;
  7. Minister of Agriculture &Farmer Welfare, Minister of Rural Development and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar;
  8. Minister of Communications and Information Technology; and Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad;
  9. Minister of Food Processing Industries, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal;
  10. Minister of External Affairs, Dr. Subrahamanayam Jaishankar;
  11. Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce &Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal;
  12. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan.

Appointment

The members of not only CCEA but other Cabinet Committees are appointed by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. At present, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah hold the positions.

Nature of work handled

The members in CCEA work on all the matters that come under the ambit of economic field. The mandate to formulate, analyse and review the activities concerned with economic policies stretches out in expansive way. The work ranges from as grass-rooted as rural level to foreign investments that require policy making at the highest level.

Aims and objectives

The sound rationale as to why committees like CCEA were made can be rooted back to why the Cabinet Committees were formed, in the first place. They are instrumental in reducing the workload over the cabinet. The Committees frame proposals for the Cabinet and make decisions that can certainly be reviewed by the Cabinet. Likewise, there are a number of factors that can amount to inefficiency in the working of cabinet members. For instance, differences in views, ineffective co-ordination between departments, just to name a few, can bring the machinery at halt. Thus, the Cabinet Committees comes to the rescue and balm the working of the business. Besides how the machinery works, they also guarantee qualitative policies. They provide an in-depth examination of the policies for departments since ministers from varied areas get to evaluate the same situation.

Therefore, it can be easily inferred that CCEA was made with an aim of reducing the workload from the departments dealing with economic policies. In addition to that, it is meant to smoothen the functioning and furthermore provide for an in-depth examination of policies.

Powers and responsibility

The CCEA is authorised to work in varied spaces in the field of economics. It keeps a check on prices of agricultural products. The activities related to small and marginal farmers that may give an impetus to the rural development, are looked upon by the said committee, too.

The domain concerned with industrial growth is within the competence of CCEA. In addition to that industrial licensing including licensing for establishment of Joint Sector Undertakings are also within the purview of CCEA.

The work does not end, here. It also evaluates the performance of Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) that may include their structural and functional restructuring. As known, if a PSU underperforms, the task of disinvestment including strategic sale and pricing of PSU, are taken up by none other than, CCEA (except to the extent entrusted to an Empowered Group of Ministers). It is important to note that the CCEA also priorities public sector investment and considers only specific proposals for investment, the limit of which is revised from time to time.

The price behaviour, decisions on supply and exports and imports, inter alia, of essential goods are scrutinised by the committee. The price for distributing essential goods in Public Distribution Systems is monitored by CCEA, as well.

Lastly, review of the factual reports from different Departments, Ministries and Agencies is considered in respect of the business allocated to the CCEA.

Conclusion

India, a big country ready to take a giant leap, to meet its aspiration of being one of the robust economies in the global arena, has been trying hard to emerge winner on home turf as well. In order to meet the basic needs of her vast population CCEA came into its existence within a short duration of time after India became an independent republic.

During the lockdown, it can be witnessed that CCEA not only takes care of purchase, procurement and storage of grain in large quantities, it also keeps a check on prices of the food grains. Secondly, it also puts agencies such as NAFED, FCI under observation and PDS also falls under its ambit.  Present scenario has compelled every Indian to appreciate the measures taken by CCEA i.e. to amass food grain in surplus quantities (in routine for years) which has come in good stead when a large population of poor people, has to be fed by the government, for they have no source of income or food due to Lockdown to combat Corona outbreak.

Newspapers and Electronic media is rampant with news about rotting grain for want of proper storage or poor sleeping without food due to no supply, but the relentless efforts by the workers and officials deserve appreciation for keeping the problem to a minimum in the present unprecedented scenario.

Author: Samriddhi Sanga from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Pitampura, New Delhi.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Analysis: Lockdown announced by Prime Minister

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

As we know our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has announced 21 days lockdown on 24th March 2020 due to the spread of novel coronavirus in our country. Considering the current situation PM has done a great job and a smart move was played by him to control the number of infected persons. As we know cases of coronavirus are increasing every day at a very rapid rate every citizen must cooperate and equally participate in fighting against this pandemic. Globally the confirmed positive cases as crossed half million now hence locking down the nation for 21 days and social distancing is necessary to break the chain of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the human lungs and airways.

Centre and different states took various measures to protect their state from coronavirus they are as follows:-

States have been told to ensure timely payment of wages to laborers at their place of work during the lockdown. House rent should not be demanded from laborers for this period.

Orissa HC has instructed the state authorities to make apposite arrangements for providing food, shelter and ensure the medical screening for migrants.

  Andhra Pradesh HC directed the state government to ensure that the health workers have necessary personal protective equipment.

Jammu & Kashmir has passed a series of orders to ensure social distancing, to break the transmission cycle of the deadly virus.

A batch of 275 people evacuated from the coronavirus – hit Iran on Sunday, were taken to the Army Wellness Facility set up at Jodhpur.

Salient features of the lockdown

  • Social distancing is one of the major motives of the lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19.
  • The government notified that during 21 days lockdown the availability of essential commodities and things required for basic necessity will remain the same.
  • This lockdown is like curfew even more strict than ‘Janta Curfew’ because legal actions can take place if anyone violates the conditions of lockdown.
  • The facility of transport service- air, rail, and roadways are suspended during this lockdown.
  • Except for the government and private offices involved in essential services all the offices remain close.
  • The lockdown will lead to economic crisis in the country but the priority was given to save lives as rightly said by the respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”

Sanctions against violation

The lockdown announced by the Prime Minister of India in order to control the increasing number of coronavirus patients and to break the chain shall be followed strictly. However, those who are not taking it seriously shall be liable for violating the lockdown orders given by the public servant under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):-

Section 269 – Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be punished for imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or both.

Section 270 – Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be liable for imprisonment up to two years, or fine, or both.

Section 188 – Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant shall be liable for imprisonment up to six months, and fine up to 1000 Rupees, or both.

While the punishment can vary from fact to fact and case to case, violators could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to 1000 rupees.

Legal provisions

19 states had announced complete lockdown. The Government of India is deriving powers to issue such directives and guidelines provided under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (EDA) and Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA). These are the two acts that provide the statutory basis to the Centre and the State to act against the Coronavirus. These acts contain sufficient provisions to act in a manner to protect the country, due to which Centre found no necessity of declaring an emergency in the country.

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 is a small but important act containing only four sections giving power to both Central as well as State governments to take special measures and prescribe such regulation to prevent the spread of  ” dangerous epidemic disease”. Under Section 2A of the Act, the Central government has the power to take any measures or prescribe regulations to inspect any ship or vessel leaving or arriving in any port and to detain any person planning to leave or arrive in India. The revised travel advisory issued by a group of ministers, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is an example of this.

State governments also have the power under Section 2(1) of the Epidemic Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of dangerous epidemic disease by prescribing regulations to be enforced concerning any person or group of people. An example of this would be the order on March 16 under the Delhi Epidemics Diseases, COVID -19 Regulations, 2020, whereby the Delhi government has restricted gatherings with groups of more than 50 persons till March 31.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005:

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 does not provide any such guidelines and infrastructure to deal with such an Epidemic that’s why the Parliament in 2005 enacted the Disaster Management Act. The definition of a “disaster” in Section 2 (d) of the Disaster Management Act states that a disaster means a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes”.

 To address the current epidemic outbreak, the Central government has included the COVID-19 outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”. Through this act, the government gets access to the appropriate funds so as provide relief and other facilities in such worst conditions. There are three funds: the National Disaster Response Fund, the State Disaster Response Fund, and the District Disaster Response fund.

Under Section 46 of the act, the National Executive Committee and the National Disaster Management Authority can authorize the use of such funds for emergency responses, relief, and rehabilitation.

The State Disaster Response Fund is being used for multiple purposes, such as setting up quarantine facilities, establishing additional labs, covering the cost of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, procuring thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers and consumables for government hospitals including food, clothing and medical care to people isolated there. Besides, they are also used to cover the cost of consumables for sample collection, screening and contact tracing of positive persons.

Constitution validity

 As we know, our Constitution is supreme and consider as a grundnorm. Every enacted law derives its validity from the Constitution of India. Any provision or act which is in contravention with the Articles of the constitution is void ab initio.  The lockdown for 21 days announced by the prime minister is valid. As the constitution grants powers to the PM also Article 256 deals with the obligation of state and the union’s executive power and extending the power of Union of giving necessary directions to the State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for the purpose.

The pandemic that is affecting every country and India as a whole and the declaration of lockdown was in order to prevent the life of the people. Since there is no internal or external aggression the provision regarding emergency was not activate which means that fundamental rights cannot be suspended.

Here the Centre, the state and the citizens came together and agreed on wilfully waving of their right to movement and bound themselves in certain boundaries to fight against this pandemic disease i.e. Coronavirus collectively and it is completely valid as it is for the welfare of the society.

Conclusion

Corona Virus is pandemic in nature and it is widely spreading all over the world, destroying the economic conditions. The Centre has announced 21 days lockdown to control the disaster which is ready to knock down the country. The lockdown is constitutionally valid and it shall be strictly followed by the people otherwise the person shall be legally liable for his acts under IPC.

Author: Anushika Parashar from Mody University, Lacchamangarh.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

US-India relations

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The First Couple of United States have indicated their plans to visit India. As per the news from the Oval office of United States it has been confirmed that the President of the United States Donald J. Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump will visit India for two days in the month of February. The arrival news of the US first couple has been prominently announced in a tweet by the White House. The same tweet marked the strengthening of US-India strategic partnership.

Trump and the First Lady will attend official engagements in New Delhi and Ahmedabad, Gujarat. During the Gujarat visit, the President will interact with people in an event, called “Howdy Trump”. This is portrayed as a repetition of the “Howdy Modi” show that took place in Houston, Texas, during the PM Modi’s US visit in September last year.

Trump and Modi will inaugurate the newly constructed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium and address a gathering which, according to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation officials, is going to be attended by more than 100,000 people, whom the local administration is mustering “not only from the state but also other parts of India.”

History of the India-US Bilateral

Since India’s independence, the relations between both the countries India and United States of America had been inhibited by Cold War. The first half century of the bilateral, in retrospect, has been disappointing. The clash of interests that began during World War II when the Indians and Americans diverged on basic priorities continued through the more forty years of the cold war. The two countries found themselves on opposite sides of major foreign and security policy issues despite their common adherence to the democratic system.

When the cold was over, Indo-US relations could become more positive. It is uncertain, however, that the two governments will take advantage of this opportunity.

Significance of the US for India

The United States has exhibited, through its relative world dominance and power, its significance for India. This significance is in the following forms:

  • For safeguarding India’s national interests.
  • The role of US in UNSC and International Monetary Institutions is of worth to India. India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of UNSC can be achieved through closer ties with the US.
  • The US is also one of the top sources of FDI in India.
  • It also plays a significant role in countering China’s governance in the Indian Ocean Region. Moreover, it also playing a crucial role in providing naval security at the high seas which is critical for India’s oil imports. T
  • he US has a scientific edge in the areas of commerce, aerospace, defence and intelligence. Also having access to this aptitude is crucial for India.

Thus, the diplomatic relationship with the US is not only indispensable for India’s economic growth but also for its national interest.

Significance of Trump’s visit

The visit will provide an opportunity for both countries to strengthen their bilateral ties and further improve their strategic relationship. As per the Indian government officials, Trump’s visit has raised hopes that both countries will work out a limited trade deal to lessen India’s trade surplus with the US. Once at $30 billion, the surplus in India’s favour has now tightened to $16 billion.

Ahead of the visit, New Delhi is expected to commend a $2.6 billion deal for Military Helicopters named, Seahawk helicopters from US defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. This trip of Trump has also raised hopes that he would refurbish some of the country’s US trade inclinations, in exchange for tariff diminutions and other concessions like to lower tariffs on several goods, including Harley Davidson bikes, and withdraw the so-called retaliatory tariffs in return for the US restoring some of the GSP benefits that allowed lower-duty access for Indian products. Besides, an early agreement on medical devices such as knee implants and stents had also been worked out.

Moreover, the mission will hold meetings with Indian officials to discuss policy support for US nuclear exports to India, besides promoting US products and services to Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd and other embryonic customers, the Nuclear Energy Institute said in a statement.

Conclusion

The U.S.-India partnership has its footing in common values, including the rule of law and democratic principles.  The United States and India have shared interests in endorsing global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment, and connectivity. The United States supports India’s emergence as a foremost global power and vigorous partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity.  The strong people-to-people ties between our countries, grounded in shared values, are a remarkable source of strength for the partnership.

This visit signals an important modification in relations between the world’s two biggest democracies. Ever since the 1990s, three American administrations have tried to improve bilateral relations, with mixed results. While annual trade between the countries has soared during this period, from $20 billion to more than $100 billion, annual US-China trade is worth six times more; but the political relationship has had ups and downs.

The two countries have a long history of baffling each other. By definition, any alliance with a superpower is inadequate, so efforts to establish close ties with the United States have long run up against India’s tradition of strategic autonomy. But, the Americans do not view democratic India as a threat. On the contrary, India’s success is an important US interest, and several factors assurance a perkier future for the bilateral relationship.

Author: Charu Shekhar from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow.

Editor: Anna Jose Kallivayalil from NLU, Delhi.

Is ‘food for all’ feasible in India as a government policy?

Reading time: 4-5 minutes.

A very basic fundamental right of every human being is to be able to receive nutritious and healthy food. However, the problem of hunger and malnutrition is prevalent across India and has been the reason for numerous diseases and deaths in the country.

India ranked 103 out of 119 in the Global Hunger Index published in 2018 which is based on child mortality, child stunting, child wasting and undernourishment. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations revealed that India is home to 195.9 million people out of the 821 million undernourished people in the world. This accounts for 24% of the world’s hungry people. It is also estimated that around 19 crore people in India go to sleep on an empty stomach every night.

The most shocking statistics was revealed by the Nation Health Survey, according to which, over 4500 children in India die under the age of 5 years due to starvation and malnutrition every single day. This amounts to over 3 lakh children every year. The same report has also revealed that 38% kids have stunted growth.

Despite the numerous schemes and policies formulated by the government, the problem of hunger, malnutrition and starvation deaths is still prevalent on a large scale in India. This calls for newer and better solutions.

What does the recent PIL filed before the Supreme Court seek to achieve in the direction of ‘food for all’?

A petition has been filed before SC by social activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh, represented by their advocates Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, Ashima Mandal and Mandakini Singh, seeking directions to all states and Union Territories to formulate schemes for establishment of community kitchens to combat the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the country.

The petition relied upon various reports, articles and statistics to prove the problem of hunger in India. These statistics and reports clearly indicate the magnitude of this issue in our country. The petition also quoted the 2010 World Food Programme Report which identified the reasons for hunger and malnutrition in India as increasing urban inequality, increase in slums, workforce with not very remunerative employment and lack of proper health, hygiene and nutrition infrastructure.

What are the directives sought in the petition?

The petitioners urged the Court to direct the Chief Secretaries across the country to formulate schemes for the implementation of community kitchens. It was suggested that implementation of these kitchens be either done through funds from the State or funds from the Corporate Social Responsibility by a Public Private Partnership. The petitioners believe that this is the only way for the poor to overcome food inflation and to ensure that no one goes to sleep on an empty stomach.

They also sought directions to the Central Government to establish national food grid systems so that people without cards and those not covered under public distribution system can be covered as well. Further, they sought issuance of a direction to the National Legal Services Authority to formulate a scheme to minimize the problem of starvation and the consequent deaths caused by it.

What is the Tamil Nadu’s Amma Unavagam model?

Tamil Nadu’s Amma Unavagam,also called mother’s canteen, was considered as the model that the new community kitchens should follow. Amma Unavagam has not only maintained taste but has also taken due care of hygiene and nutrition.

Other states and countries have also implemented similar programmes like soup kitchens, meal centres and community kitchens that help provide food for free or at subsidised rates. A few examples of these are Anna canteen of Andhra Pradesh, Annapurna Rasoi of Rajasthan, Ahaar scheme of Odisha, Aam Aadmi canteen of Delhi and Indira Canteens of Karnataka. Community kitchens like these take help from Self Help Groups to sustain themselves and have not only fed the hungry but also have been able to provide employment to people.

Is right to food a part of right to life?

The petitioners in the PIL contends that Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees every citizen protection of life and personal liberty, does not provide for mere existence but a life with dignity. Moreover, Article 47 of the Constitution states that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of the people in the country. The government has not been able to fulfil this obligation to provide food security to the people. The government also cannot fulfil its primary duty to improve public health unless the problem of hunger is solved.

Even though schemes have been formulated by the Centre and various states to combat the problem of hunger and nutrition, the implementation of these schemes have not shown any substantial result in solving the problem. The deaths due to malnutrition, starvation and hunger are on a rise. It is contended by the petitioners that this is in violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens, especially the right to life under Article 21.

Way forward…

Food is a basic human right. The problems of hunger, malnutrition and starvation that the petitioners have brought forth in the PIL filed are not unknown.  According to a study published in the journal Lancet Global Health in 2015, India has the highest child mortality rate. India is also one among the 45 countries with serious problem of hunger, according to the Global Hunger Index 2018 Report made by Welthungerlife and Concern Worldwide.

In a country with high poverty, it is extremely important that more initiatives like community kitchens and meal centres are undertaken. Good quality food at subsidized rates needs to be provided so that every single person has access to food irrespective of their economic status. It is also the way forward to curb the health care costs that the government has to incur due to food borne diseases that people suffer from by eating unhygienic food.

-This article is brought to you in collaboration with Shreya Bansal from Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat.

All you need to know about the newly announced ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’

Reading time: 3-4 minutes.

Water is one of the basic necessities of human life. The rapidly growing today’s surroundings has led to an increase in demand of water in areas restricted not only to daily usage and agriculture but also to areas like energy, industry, domestic as well as tertiary sector. There are certain crucial issues and problems that are faced by India in the water sector which lead to shortfall of water availability for the Indian population. Such issues include:

  • Uneven distribution of rainfall, leading to floods and droughts in various regions.
  • Inefficient use and management of water.
  • Unregulated groundwater extraction and over exploitation of groundwater leading to groundwater depletion.
  • Water pollution.
  • Depleted and degraded water quality due to poor implementation of waste management laws.
  • Over-population.
  • Poor access to safe and clean drinking water.
  • Pressure of industrialization and urbanization.

What are the major programs for water management that are currently active?

With ever increasing need for water resources and increasing challenges in the water sector has led to this realization that our water resources are in dire need of conservation. The availability of these resources and their supply to the world population is limited adding to the conservation of these resources becoming an even more important step. Several efforts have been made by India time and again to conserve the water resources. Major currently active programs are:

  • National Water Mission.
  • State Specific Action Plan under National Water Mission.
  • National Rural Drinking Water Program.
  • National Mission for Clean Ganga.
  • Interlinking of Rivers.
  • CADWM Program.
  • Flood Management Wing Program.
  • R&D Program in water sector.
  • Dam rehabilitation and improvement program.
  • Base Line Studies for improving Water Use Efficiency (WUE) in Irrigation sector are being carried out as well.

Announcement of new Jal Jeevan Mission by PM Modi: Salient Features

The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 15th of August, 2019 announced from the ramparts of Red Fort that the government of India is going to launch the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’. Under this mission, the main aim is to bring piped water to households across. It has been estimated that the said project would cost somewhere around Rs. 3.5 lakh crore. This program comes when India is facing a severe water crisis. The mission would function under the Jal Shakti Ministry. It aims to make water available to every rural household by 2024. Salient features of this mission are:

  • It aims at ensuring water availability in all rural households by 2024.
  • The first phase of the program would focus on rainwater harvesting and water conservation.
  • The first phase would be carried out in 256 districts initially.
  • It also focuses on renovation of traditional water bodies and tanks.
  • The program also aims to restructure and renovate the ways of reuse of water and recharge structures.
  • Another important step to be undertaken is afforestation.
  • The program will also give importance to watershed development.

The waterways ahead…

It is a fact that 70% of our planet is covered with water. But on the other hand, this is also true that only 2.5% of that 70% is fresh-water that can be used by living beings. This limited resource will need to support a projected population of 9.7 billion by 2050; and by that date, an estimated 3.9 billion or over 40% of the world’s population will live in severely water-stressed river basins.

The excessive use of water has also led to degradation in availability of water for usages. As this life supporting element decreases, the competition to have it or to have access to it has increased. Almost 60% of entire surface water comes from some or the other internationally shared water basins and there are an estimated 592 such transboundary aquifers. Thus, a continuing co-operation and co-ordination between the nations becomes an even more crucial need of the world today.

Some progress has definitely been made on national as well as international level by undertaking various water conservation and management programs and by signing several treaties on the said issue. However, there is still a long way to go towards water sustainability. We hope that the newly launched mission will establish itself as a step in that direction.

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Aprajita Jha from National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.