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September 21, 2023 @ 7:00 am - 11:00 pm


Lok Sabha passes the historic Women’s Reservation Bill

Twenty-seven years after a Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed such a Bill with near unanimity, to amend the Constitution and provide one-third reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies.

The Bill will now be taken up by the Rajya Sabha for passage in the remaining two days of the Special Session of Parliament and might require approval from half of the States.

Calling it “historic legislation”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the members. “I thank MPs across party lines who voted in support of this Bill,” he said in a post on X.


Only two ways

With 454 members of the Lok Sabha supporting the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth) Bill 2023, the constitutional requirement of a “two-thirds majority of the members present and voting” was easily met. Only two members, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel, opposed the Bill.

The Congress made a U-turn from its own 2010 position, leading the demand for a separate quota within the quota for OBCs after conducting a caste census. The Home Minister explained that the decision to implement reservation after delimitation is to ensure that a quasi-judicial body like the Delimitation Commission can decide, after public consultation, which seats to reserve.

 She said there was no need to delay the implementation of the Bill by linking it to a delimitation exercise that is frozen till 2026.

The voting process took nearly two hours as members voted manually, using paper slips.


 Census and Delimitation Work after the Lok Sabha polls, Centre

 Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday that irrespective of the Opposition’s support, the Women’s Reservation Bill will be implemented only after 2029.

According to the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, or the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, reservation of one-third of seats for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies shall come into effect after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken based on figures from the first Census that is conducted after the Act is enacted.

What is the Delimitation Exercise?

According to the Election Commission of India, delimitation means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.

The job of delimitation is assigned to a high-power body. Such a body is known as the Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.

How new Parliament change Delimitation?

The new Parliament building is built to accommodate 888 members, while the current strength of the lower house is 545. This means that if the freeze on delimitation is lifted in 2026 and a census-based redrawing of Lok Sabha constituencies is carried out, there can be more MPs.

When will the next Delimitation Exercise be held?

Mr Shah said in the Lok Sabha that the Census and the delimitation exercise will be conducted immediately after the general election.

However, he did not specify the dates for the delayed Census which has remained under ambiguity since 2021 despite the apparatus being ready.

The last Census was held in 2011. The Centre initially attributed the COVID-19 pandemic to postponing the exercise that was to start in two phases in 2020 and conclude by March 31, 2021.


 In a tit-for-tat, India issues travel advisory to Canada.

 Citing “politically condoned violence”, India on Thursday issued a travel advisory for all Indian nationals in Canada, including students, urging them to register with Indian missions.

 The announcement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came hours after media reports suggested that Canada has issued a travel advisory, especially for Jammu and Kashmir. However, the High Commission of Canada later clarified to The Hindu that the advisory has been in place since the summer of 2021.

“In view of growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution.

Our High Commission/Consulates General will continue to be in contact with the Canadian authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of the Indian community,” the MEA advisory stated.

The bilateral relations have also been affected by the ongoing online activities by Sikhs for Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who has launched a campaign saying, “Indo Hindus Leave Canada”.

Without mentioning the campaign, the MEA advisory said, “Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda.”


 The US President could be the Chief Guest for the Republic Day Celebrations 2024

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited U.S. President Joe Biden to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 next year, U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti said here on Wednesday.

While the U.S. Congress would be in session at the time, Mr. Garcetti said that the invitation is under consideration.

Mr Biden is due to visit India in 2024 for the Quad Summit.

This is the third time the Modi government has issued an invitation to the U.S. President for the Republic Day parade, an honour that normally goes to a different country each year.

Who all US Presidents were the Chief Guests in the past?

In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama became the first American President to officiate at Republic Day, while in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump turned down the invitation for January 2019, due to scheduling difficulties in the U.S. Congress.

Sources said that U.S.-India Defence and Foreign Ministers’ “2+2” is also being scheduled in November in Delhi this year, which will set the stage for the visit by Mr Biden in January.

Praising the government for organising the “best G-20 we have seen”, Mr Garcetti said that the effect of decisions taken during the G-20 Summit in Delhi would be “prolonged”, making a particular mention of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC).

Asked about funding and viability of the corridor, which is expected to run from Indian ports through a rail line across West Asia, and then onto Europe by ship, the American Ambassador said that what had been witnessed in the launch of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) was a “planting of the seed”, and that the details of the corridor, are still to be decided upon.


 Constitution Bench to examine the validity of extending quota.

 A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Wednesday decided to examine if clockwork extensions granted to reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies were constitutionally valid.

Reservation as per the Original Constitution

Originally, the Constituent Assembly had meant reservation for SC/STs only for a period of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution in 1950.

Article 334 of the Constitution

However, Article 334 of the Constitution, which dealt with the time period to cease reserving seats for SC/STs and Anglo-Indians, was amended multiple times over the decades. The deadline to stop the reservation was extended by 10 years or so. Starting with the Constitution (8th Amendment) Act in 1969 and all the way up to the Constitution (104th Amendment) Act in 2019, the deadline was stretched over and over again.

The 2019 Act terminated the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community and fixed 2030 as the deadline to end the reservation for SC/STs in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies.

 By 2030, the SC/ST communities would have enjoyed reservation for 80 years since the adoption of the Constitution.

 On Wednesday, the Constitution Bench decided to examine whether Parliament can use its constituent power to repeatedly amend Article 334 merely in order to keep the reservation of seats for the SC/ST communities in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of the States alive.


 SC to hear a challenge to Section 6A of the Citizenship Act from Oct. 17

 A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Wednesday decided to hear from October 17 a series of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Section 6A is a special provision inserted into the 1955 Act in furtherance of a Memorandum of Settlement called the ‘Assam Accord’ signed on August 15, 1985, by the then Rajiv Gandhi government with the leaders of the Assam Movement to preserve and protect the Assamese culture, heritage, linguistic and social identity.

What is the Assam Accord?

It was an MoU signed (Tripartite Agreement between the CG, SG and AASU) in Assam where the protestors demanded the identification and deportation of all illegal foreigners – predominantly Bangladeshi immigrants.

They feared that past and continuing large-scale migration was overwhelming the native population, impacting their political rights, culture, language and land rights.

The Assam Movement caused the estimated death of over 855 people. The movement ended with the signing of the Assam Accord. The movement started in 1979 and ended in 1985.

What is this Section 6A?

Under Section 6A, foreigners who had entered Assam before January 1, 1966, and been “ordinarily resident” in the State, would have all the rights and obligations of Indian citizens. Those who had entered the State between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971, would have the same rights and obligations, except that they would not be able to vote for 10 years.

The Union government insisted that the Section was valid and urged the court to dismiss the petitions, filed nearly 40 years after its enactment.


 NEET-PG, 2023 cut-off reduced to ‘zero’ percentile.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday directed the National Medical Commission to reduce the qualifying percentile for the National Eligibility-cum- Entrance Test (NEET)-Post Graduate, 2023 to “zero” across all categories.

Currently, the NEET-PG cut-off percentile is 50 for students from general/unreserved categories, 45 for general people with disabilities (PwD) and 40 for students of other reserved categories.

Why was such a bold decision taken?

Harish Gupta, a member of the Delhi Medical Council, said the decision was taken to fill all the clinical and non-clinical seats so that unlike in previous years no seats remain vacant.

What do the critics opine?

The decision has, meanwhile, received flak, with the Federation of All India Medical Association calling it “shocking”. “It’s ridiculous to see zero percentile candidates are eligible for getting a postgraduate seat. This makes a mockery of the standard of medical education and healthcare system in India.”

Anant Bhan, a researcher in global health, health policy and bioethics, said: “The move does raise concerns around quality with respect to PG medical education. It would be good for any such policy decision to be substantiated in terms of rationale, otherwise, it will be seen as a way of protecting the interests of some stakeholders in medical education, like private medical colleges.”

RTI activist K.V. Babu said: “It seems like the government wants to fill all the seats of private medical colleges.”


 Karabakh operation halted: Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan and Armenian forces reached a ceasefire agreement on Wednesday to end two days of fighting in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region that has been a flashpoint for decades.

The escalation raised concerns that a full-scale war in the region could resume between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have been locked in a struggle over the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 Regional Players in the Conflict

The conflict has long drawn in powerful regional players, including Russia and Turkey. While Turkey threw its weight behind Azerbaijan, Russia has taken on a mediating role and brokered the armistice that ended the 2020 fighting.

Its contingent of peacekeepers, in fact, is charged with monitoring that truce, and both sides said on Wednesday that they helped reach the current agreement.



ADB lowers India’s GDP growth outlook for this fiscal to 6.3%

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday pared its forecast for India’s economic growth in the current fiscal year to 6.3%, from 6.4% estimated earlier, citing the impact of declining exports and erratic rainfall patterns that could hit farm output.

The ADB’s economists also raised their inflation forecast for the year to 5.5%, from 5% estimated in April, and retained their real GDP growth projection for 2024-25 at 6.7%, on expectations that private investment and industrial output would increase.

“However, as slowing exports could foment headwinds for the economy, and erratic rainfall patterns are likely to undermine agricultural output, the growth forecast for this year is revised down marginally to 6.3%,” the Bank noted in its Asian Development Outlook update.

Monsoon rainfall under the influence of a developing El Niño has led to erratic weather patterns, including flooding in certain regions and deficient rains, particularly in August.

The erratic rainfall patterns have resulted in damage to the rice crop in particular and lower sowing for pulses in the kharif season,”

The ADB was upbeat on investment prospects in the economy, despite a decline in net foreign direct investment flows in the first quarter to $5 billion from $13.4 billion last year.

‘States spending more

Rana Hasan, the Bank’s regional economic advisor for South Asia, said that investments were currently driven in a big way by the Central government’s capital expenditure push, but the latest quarter’s numbers showed that States had also ramped up investments by 78%.

Moreover, signs of private capex can be gauged from the 19% growth in bank credit in the first quarter with a decline in banks’ non-performing loans, and an uptick in capacity utilisation rates in several industries with a better policy environment for manufacturing,” Mr. Hasan observed.


September 21, 2023
7:00 am - 11:00 pm
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