Parliament passes upper caste quota Bill
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Parliament on Wednesday passed a landmark Constitution amendment bill providing for 10 per cent reservation to upper castes in government jobs and higher educational institutions, with the Rajya Sabha voting it late in the night after rejecting a demand for referring it to a select committee for detailed scrutiny.
 
The House passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 -- which was adopted by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday -- with 165 members in its favour and seven against it in a division amidst broad support from the Congress and other opposition parties despite their reservations over its constitutional validity and the timing in view of the approaching elections.
 
Earlier, the House rejected an amendment moved by DMK member Kanimozhi and CPI(M)'s T.K. Rangarajan for referring the bill to a select committee for indepth scrutiny, with 155 voting against it and 18 for in a House of 244. Several other opposition amendments were also negatived. A constitutional amendment needs a special majority of more than half of the House present and two-thirds of those present voting in favour of it.
 
The AIADMK, which is friendly with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), staged a walkout opposing the Bill with its member A. Navaneethakrishnan saying it violated the basic structure of the Constitution. 
 
Rejecting the opposition criticism that the bill was brought late in the government's tenure with an eye on upper caste votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said the measure had been brought with good intentions and was aimed at justice for the economically weaker sections.
 
He called the bill historic and allayed fears that the legislation would face legal hurdles, saying since it is a constitutional amendment even the Supreme Court would accept it, should there be any challenge.
 
The Minister told the Congress party that unlike the Narasimha Rao government which issued a government order to implement a similar quota, the Modi had taken precaution by bringing in a statute amendment.
 
Intervening in the over eight-hour debate, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the proposed quota would not breach the Supreme Court's cap of 50 per cent on overall reservations.
 
He said the legislation would apply to both Central and state governments.
 
Senior Congress member and an eminent lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said the bill had been brought with "complete non-application of mind" and raised questions over the constitutionality of the bill and its implementation.
 
"If the bill is passed, the implementation of the reservation due to complexities involved and absence of required data with the government would be like demonetisation." 
 
Calling it a "jumla" (gimmick), Sibal said: "Kamal ka hamla, aur ek jumla (attack of lotus, one more gimmick)."
 
"What was the hurry? The bill could have been sent to the Select Committee. There would have been discussions and suggestions before it was introduced (in Parliament)," he said.
 
Earlier, his party colleague and deputy leader in the House, Anand Sharma, welcomed the 10 per cent quota for the upper caste poor but questioned its timing as it comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
 
"We are not opposing it. But the question is why it is being brought all of a sudden. It is the last session (of Parliament)...then there are elections," he said.
 
He asked why the BJP did not bring the bill in its four-and-half years of rule and emphasised that the decision came after the saffron party lost five states in the recently-concluded Assembly elections.
 
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien accused the government of committing a "fraud with the poor and youth" on jobs and "spitting on the Constitution" by moving bills for passage without proper legislative scrutiny.
 
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that since the government had now breached the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations, it should give OBCs the benefit of quota in accordance with their population at 54 per cent.
 
BSP member Satish Chandra Misra backed the bill and demanded that minorities also be given reservation.
 
BJP President Amit Shah, who was present during the entire debate, at one point intervened to accuse the opposition of trying to give quotas for Muslims at the cost of other communities.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Departmental wrangles delay Train-18 launch
The much-awaited launch of the indigenously-built Trainset, the Train-18, is stuck due to a bitter departmental fight within the Railways. It is still to get the full Boards green signal - a must for flagging off any new train.
 
The fight between two traditional rivals - the electrical and mechanical wings of the Railways - is so intense that, despite a conditional clearance from the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) on December 21, the Board is again planning to send it back to to the CCRS to resolve the contentious issue of Electrical Inspector General (EIG) safety certificate.
 
While the mechanical department, which is at the forefront of manufacturing the Rs 100 crore Trainset, has maintained that an EIG certificate is not required as per the law, the electrical department is refusing to come on board without it.
 
Despite the crucial fact that the first semi-high-speed train is expected to be flagged off by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its maiden run to Varanasi, the issue could not be resolved as both sides stuck to their stands at the Railway Board meeting on January 8. The result: The public transporter is considering referring it to the CCRS again, sources in the know told IANS.
 
Manufactured at Chennai's Integral Coach Factory (ICF), the 16-coach train clocked 180 kmph during its trial run and was duly inspected by CCRS during its Safdarjung-Agra trial.
 
Before that, the Railways had already successfully conducted a speed trial of the Train-18 on the Moradabad and Kota sections under the watchful eyes of concerned officials from the Railways' and Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO).
 
In fact, ladoos were distributed when the train clocked 180 kmph between Kota and Kurlasi on December 2. The first sweets were offered onboard to loco pilot Padam Singh Gurjar and his assistant Onkar Yadav.
 
While giving its clearance for running the train at a maximum speed of 160 kmph, CCRS sought safety certification from the EIG and recommended, among other safety measures, sturdy fencing of the tracks at vulnerable locations.
 
"Safety certification for all electrical systems shall be done by EIG of the zonal railway maintaining the rolling stock and submitted to Commission before commercial operations," the CCRS order stated.
 
However, the mechanical department maintained that EIG certification is not required as per the Section 54 of the Indian Electricity Act, 2003.
 
In fact, the electrical and mechanical engineers were jointly involved in manufacturing the first Trainset at ICF and, accordingly, certified that the "train is safe for passengers and all norms have been followed".
 
"The Principal Chief Electrical Engineer of ICF has categorically certified the train's safety and no further safety certification is required from EIG as per the law," sources in the Railway Ministry told IANS.
 
However, though electrical department has maintained that EIG is a must as desired by CCRS, the Board has powers to overrule the CCRS, as happened in the case of the Gatimaan Express's operation in April 2016.
 
Though CCRS had sought fencing of the track between Delhi and Agra before the commercial operation of Gatimaan Express, the Board went ahead with its launch.
 
The Railways could do the same this time too, but the fight is so bitter between the two traditional rivals that both sides are refusing to cede any ground, nothwithstanding the fact that it was hoped Train-18's commercial operation would start before the Kumbh Mela.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Is India Heading toward an Unbalanced Elderly Population Growth?
In the coming decades, the percentage of elderly population in the southern states of India is set to grow at a higher rate than that in the northern and north-eastern states, which will cause the asymmetric income distribution gap to further widen and put divergent pressures on either side of this geographical divide, according to a recent report.
 
“In particular, in coming decades, we can expect  huge migration from ‘Young North-India’ to ‘Elder South-India’ resulting in  imminent pressure on Southern states in terms of infrastructure (both social and physical),” says a research report from State Bank of India (SBI). 
 
 
In any country, an increase in the elderly population (age 65 years and above) leads to a drop in savings and a decline in the labour force leads to a decline in return on investment which reduces the investment rate. 
As more and more people turning older in the selected states will move to old age pensions for subsistence and incur increasing health expenses, the report sees the savings and gross domestic product (GDP) of such states gradually declining. 
 
Indian banks, on the other hand, the report says, will have to innovate to offer lifecycle-based deposit products for consumers. “Also, states that have younger populations would need to set up labour intensive industries to provide support to their young labour force,” it adds.
 
Even though is widely believed that India, being touted as young nation (compared to US and China), will remain young in the coming decades also, regional differences in this trend will become sharper with time. 
 
SBI estimates that India’s elder population will increase to only 15.2% in 2050 from 5.5% in 2011, while the corresponding percentages for China and the US will be 32.6% and 23.2%, respectively, for the same period. India’s population is set to hit 1,780 million as per SBI as against World Bank estimate or 1,730 million of which 270 million will be of age 65 and above. 
 
“Apparently, this will not pose any problem at the macro-level. But if we look at state-wise numbers, the numbers look alarming. By 2050 more than one fifth of total population of the four southern states like states Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will turn elder. Similarly, states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha will see a large percentage of population turning old. With the increase in the elder population in southern states, the asymmetric income distribution gap will widen further,” the report says.
 
SBI says, “We believe that this will have implications on continued inter mobility of labour from east and north east India, which has been happening for last one decade, to South India and even Western India. States like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam, Bihar and Haryana will continue to have significantly young population even in 2050, thus engineering migration of such labour force to states that are ageing.”
 
The report notes that presently some southern States like Andhra Pradesh have started encouraging people to have more children in order to avoid a 'demographic crisis'. However, it will be difficult for some of the States to reverse the declining trend of fertility rate.  
 
“Further, our analysis also reveals (evident from the FY17 State-wise per-capita income data) that the Southern States are already more prosperous than the Northern States and income-gap between the two regions is quite wide. For example, the per-capita income gap between Karnataka and Bihar stands at a whopping Rs 1.1 lakh and between Karnataka and the national average is around Rs57,000. Going forward, by 2050, the elder population in southern states will increase, which will widen the asymmetric income distribution gap further,” the report from SBI says.
 
Interestingly, the New World Wealth Report 2016 says that in south India Bengaluru has largest number of millionaires (7,700) followed by Chennai (6,600 millionaires). As people turn older in the selected States, the savings might initially soar but will eventually take a dip as people start living off old age pensions, with increasing health expenses cutting into their shrinking resources, the report concludes.
 
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COMMENTS

SURAJIT SOM

5 months ago

Earlier we were faced with huge population and its growth. Now growing number of elderly population will make it even more unmanageable and dangerous. Elderly people need all kinds of help and they cost money; pension, housing ,medical expenses for example. in Europe ,America, Japan etc, the economy is at breaking point to meet their needs. Things will not improve , they will worsen over the years. In a poor country like India, the children must take care of their parents. It may be made legally binding. The western model of living separately is absurd .It amounts to economic , financial ,social madness in India. We need to prepare for necessary plan and actions right now but that is unlikely to happen. Netas cant take care of even our current problems !!!!

vinod kumar garg

5 months ago

Amazing analysis

Ramesh Poapt

5 months ago

Very interesting!

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