Maratha quota law unconstitutional: SC
A ﬁvejudge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously declared a Maharashtra law, which provides reservation beneﬁts to the Maratha community taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, unconstitutional.
- There was no “exceptional circumstances” or “extraordinary situation” in Maharashtra, which required the State government to break the 50% ceiling limit to bestow quota beneﬁts on the Maratha community.
- The Marathas are in mainstream of the national life. It is not even disputed that Marathas are a politically dominant caste,”
- It struck down the ﬁndings of Justice M.G. Gaikwad Commission, which led to the enactment of Maratha quota law and set aside the Bombay High Court judgment which validated the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018.
- A separate reservation Maratha community violated Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law).
- It declined to revisit 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment.
- The judgment of Indra Sawhney has stood the test of time. The ceiling of 50% with the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ exception, is the just balance — what is termed as the ‘Goldilocks solution’ — i.e. the solution containing the right balance that allows the State suﬃcient latitude to ensure meaningful aﬃrmative action to those who deserve it and at the same time ensures that the essential content of equality,”
Past judgments on a ceiling for quotas
M.R. Balaji vs State of Mysore (1962):
- The special provision for backward classes, should not normally exceed 50%.
- The order earmarking 68% of seats in engineering, medical and other technical courses was a “fraud” on the Constitution. However, it added that it would not attempt to lay down in an inﬂexible manner what the proper percentage of reservation should be.
- The presumption behind the 50% rule was that equality of opportunity was the norm, and any special provision for socially and educationally backward classes or reservation for backward classes in public employment was an exception.
Kerala vs. N.M. Thomas (1975)
- It disagreed with the proposition made in Balaji judgement.
- It said the special measures in favour of backward classes in Articles 15 and 16 were not exceptions to the rule. On the contrary, these were an emphatic way of ensuring equality of opportunity.
- The 50% norm in Balaji was only a rule of caution and does not exhaust all categories.
Indra Sawhney (1992)
- Even though most judges agreed that reservation was not an exception to the equality norm, the court ultimately laid down the 50% limit.
- It cited Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s opinion in the Constituent Assembly that reservation should be “conﬁned to a to a minority of seats” and ﬁxed the maximum permissible quota at 50%.
- It said that the strict rule could be relaxed in extraordinary situations given the country’s great diversity.
Source: The Hindu
Comprehensive targeted policy response by RBI
- RBI has announced measures to protect small and medium businesses and individual borrowers from the adverse impact of second wave of CO VID19.
- Measures are also aimed at alleviating any ﬁnancing constraints for healthcare infrastructure and services, as well as small borrowers who may be facing distress due to a sudden spike in health expenditure.
Measures taken by RBI
- A Term Liquidity Facility of ₹50,000 crore with tenor of up to 3 years, at the repo rate, to ease access to credit for providers of emergency health services.
- Under the scheme, banks will provide fresh lending support to a wide range of entities, including vaccine manufacturers, importers/ suppliers of vaccines and priority medical devices, hospitals/dispensaries, pathology labs, manufacturers and suppliers of oxygen and ventilators, and logistics ﬁrms.
- These loans will continue to be classiﬁed under priority sector till repayment or maturity, whichever is earlier
Individual and MSME
- Resolution Framework 2.0 for COVID related stressed as sets of individuals, small businesses and MSMEs.
- These categories of borrowers whose aggregate exposure of up to ₹25 crore, who had not availed restructuring under any of the earlier restructuring frameworks (including under last year’s resolution frame work), and whose loans were classiﬁed as ‘standard’ as on March 31, 2021, were eligible for restructuring.
- Individual borrowers and small businesses who availed restructuring under Resolution Framework 1.0, lenders have been permitted to use this window to modify such plans to the extent of increasing the period of moratorium and/or extending the residual tenor up to a total of two years.
- RBI decided to conduct special 3 year longterm repo operations of ₹10,000 crore at the repo rate for Small Finance Banks. The SFBs would be able to deploy these funds for fresh lending of up to ₹10 lakh per borrow er. This facility would be available till October 31,2021.
Source: The Hindu
Disinvestment of IDBI
- Cabinet gave in-principal approval for strategic disinvestment along with transfer of management control in IDBI Bank. It is in line with the Budget announcement.
Share in IDBI
- The central government and LIC together own more than 94% equity of IDBI Bank.
- LIC is currently the promoter of IDBI Bank with management control and has a 49.2% stake.
Decision on disinvestment
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Aﬀairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the strategic sale of IDBI Bank.
- The extent of respective shareholding to be divested shall be decided at the time of structuring of transaction in consultation with the RBI.
- The Budget 2021-22 had announced the privatisation of public sector banks (PSBs) as part of a disinvestment drive to garner ₹1.75 lakh crore.
- The Centre expects the strategic buyer will infuse funds and new technology for development of the bank’s business potential.
Source: The Hindu
State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid19
- State of Working India 2021: One Year of Covid19’, a report brought out annually by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustain able Employment, Bengaluru, has been released.
- This year’s report covers the period March 2020 to December 2020.
- It dwells on the impact of one year of COVID19 on employment, incomes, inequality and poverty.
- The COVID19 pandemic has substantially increased informality in employment, lead ing to a decline in earnings for the majority of workers, and consequent increase in poverty in the country.
- Employment: 100 million jobs were lost nationwide during the April-May 2020 lockdown. Though most of these workers had found employment by June 2020, about 15 million remained out of work
- The fallback option varied by caste and religion. General category workers and Hindus were more likely to move into self employment while marginalised caste workers and Muslims moved into daily wage work. Income: For an average household of four members, the monthly per capita income in Oct 2020 (₹4,979) was still below its level in Jan 2020 (₹5,989).
- Post lockdown, nearly half of salaried workers had moved into informal work, either as self employed (30%), casual wage (10%) or informal salaried (9%).
- Sectors: Education, health and professional services saw the highest exodus of workers into other sectors, with agriculture, construction and petty trade emerging as the top fallback options.
- Labour share in GDP: It fell by 5%, from 32.5% in the second quarter of 2019-20 to 27% in second quarter of 202021.
- Even though most workers were able to go back to work, they had to settle for lower earnings. The study has found a clear correlation between job losses and the COVID19 case load.
- Inequality: While the poorest 20% of households lost their entire incomes in AprilMay 2020. The richer households suffered losses of less than a quarter of their prepandemic incomes
- Households coped with the loss of income by decreasing their food intake, selling assets and borrowing informally. Genderwise: Women and younger workers were more aﬀected. During the lockdown and in the post lockdown months, 61% of working men remained employed while 7% lost their job and did not return to work. But in the case of women, only 19% remained employed while 47% suﬀered a permanent job loss, “not returning to work even by the end of 2020”.
- Poverty: With 230 million falling below the national minimum wage threshold of ₹375 per day during the pandemic, poverty rate has increased by 15% in rural and nearly 20% in urban areas,”.
The fallback option varied by caste and religion. General category workers and Hindus were more likely to move into self employment while marginalised caste workers and Muslims moved into daily wage work.
- These ﬁndings are a serious cause for concern in the absence of an inclusive social welfare architecture.
- Extending free rations under the Public Distribution System till the end of 2021.
- Expansion of MGNREGA entitlement to 150 days.
- “Covid hardship allowance” for the 2.5 million Anganwadi and ASHA workers.
Households coped with the loss of income by decreasing their food intake, selling assets and borrowing informally.
Source: The Hindu
The sixth batch of three Rafale ﬁghee jets arrived in India. With this, the IAF has received 20 of the 36 jets contracted from France.
Features of Rafale jet
- The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach.
- Multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes.
- Comparison with China’s J20
- While China’s J20 Chengdu jets are called fifth generation combat jets, compared to 4.5 generation Rafale, the J20 have no actual combat experience.
- Whereas the Rafale is combat proven, having been used by the French Air Force for its missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. It has also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria.
- Rafale can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.
- The jets come with one of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles. The 190-kg missile has a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) of over 100 km, traveling at a top speed of Mach 4. The F16 jets, used by Pakistan, carry the AMRAAM missile, which has a BVR of 75 km. Rafale can also outperform F16 in dogfights.
- The Rafale jets also come with SCALP, the air-to-ground cruise missile with a range over 300 km. It is a long-range deep strike missile.
- The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR.
- At the last-minute, India has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision guided missile produced by French conglomerate Safran, and can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.
Comparison with China’s J20
· While China’s J20 Chengdu jets are called fifth generation combat jets, compared to 4.5 generation Rafale, the J20 have no actual combat experience.
· Whereas the Rafale is combat proven, having been used by the French Air Force for its missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. It has also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria.
· Rafale can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.
Basic Rafale Specifications:
- Wing span: 10.90 m
- Length: 15.30 m
- Height: 5.30 m
- Overall empty weight: 10 tonnes
- External load: 9.5 tonnes
- Max. take-off weight: 24.5 tonnes
- Fuel (internal): 4.7 tonnes
- Fuel (external): up to 6.7 tonnes
- Ferry Range: 3,700 km
- Top Speed: 1.8 Mach at high altitude
- Landing ground run: 450 m (1,500 ft)
- Service ceiling: 50,000 ft