MICS CURRENT AFFAIRS 29th JAN

1 . “Former Chief Minister” is a “class in itself”-UP Government

The  government in Uttar Pradesh has told the Supreme Court that the State’s former Chief Ministers are considered a privileged class who deserve to enjoy certain benefits even after demitting office.

The Issue

The submissions came on a petition filed by NGO Lok Prahari, challenging the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries and Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act of 2016 and The Allotment of Houses under Control of the Estate Department of 2016.

The NGO has sought action against State authorities for acting in contempt of a Supreme Court verdict in August 2016, directing them to ensure that the former Chief Ministers vacate the bungalows.

The Supreme Court is examining laws enacted by the U.P. Assembly which allow former CMs and Ministers to retain official bungalows and staff at public expense .

UP  Government’s  stand

As the holder of such high posts in a democratic nation as ours, it becomes imperative that even after demitting offices certain privileges are provided to such persons. The holders of other high constitutional posts have been classified as a separate class even after demitting offices, like former Chief Justices and judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court, President, Prime Minster .

In written submissions filed in the apex court, the U.P. government said a “former Chief Minister” is a “class in itself”.

‘Against Article 14’-the other view

In the previous hearing before a Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium submitted that it is a violation of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution to allow former Chief Ministers to retain their official bungalows indefinitely. Once they demit office, they are just ordinary citizens ineligible for special privileges.

 

2 . Panel to press Centre for MPs’ salary hike

The Parliamentary Committee on Salary and Allowances will meet the centre soon to demand that the salary of MPs be at least Rs. 1 more than that of the Cabinet Secretary.

Background

MPs draw a basic salary of Rs. 50,000 and constituency allowance of Rs. 45,000. When Parliament is in session, they get a daily allowance of Rs. 2,000.

The basic salary was last increased in 2010 from Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 50,000. After the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations on January 1, 2016, the Cabinet Secretary, the top-most bureaucrat in the country, gets Rs. 2.5 lakh a month and a Secretary in the Union government Rs. 2.25 lakh.

Why the demand?

1 . Not all MPs are industrialists, or come from well-to-do families. Many of them are dependent on the salary they get from Parliament 2 . Also , according to them, the lawmakers if not treated better than the top bureaucrat, must be treated at least on a par with him.

 

3 . Trans-pacific pact may hurt India 

If India were to join the mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and adopt its norms, they would severely hurt the country’s agriculture, manufacturing, services and the generic pharma industry, according to a new book.

Titled “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: A framework for future trade rules?” the book — co-edited by Abhijit Das, Professor and Head, Centre for WTO Studies (CWS), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) and Shailja Singh, Legal Consultant, CWS — has done an analysis of almost the 5,544 pages of the TPP text. Released on January 27, the book comes in the backdrop of U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement at the World Economic Forum that he was open to the pact provided it offered substantially benefits for his country.

It was under his orders that the U.S. had withdrawn from the TPP early last year. The other 11 countries (Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Vietnam) that were part of the agreement are now expected to ink an amended version in March.

TPP and India’s manufacturing sector

According to the book, if India were to conform to the TPP template of rules on market access in goods, it would pose severe challenges to India’s manufacturing sector. The domestic industry may not be able to face import competition in a duty-free regime .

TPP and India’s agriculture

On the agriculture front, the farmers will be continuously exposed to the risk of being knocked out of the market by cheap and subsidised exports, particularly from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Other Sectors

The TPP template may pose severe challenges to the government in regulating services in the future .

TPP also would severely restrict the entry into the market, or the reimbursement for use, of generic medicine.

If India were to adopt [TPP] rules, it would require significant changes in the domestic regulatory regime.

India’s export prospects in government procurement markets may continue to below, if it entered the pact.

What is Trans-Pacific Partnership?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam signed on 4 February 2016, which has not entered into force. As the United States withdrew from it afterwards, negotiations have started on a new trade agreement called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership .