Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Rajyasabha Elections
- Operation Green
- Geographical Indication
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Rajyasabha Elections
Context : The Election Commission announced elections to 10 Rajya Sabha seats from three States that are falling vacant in July and August.
What is peculiar to the Rajya Sabha polls as far as the electorate is concerned?
- Only elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies can vote in a Rajya Sabha election. The legislators send a batch of new members to the Upper House every two years for a six-year term.
- A third of Members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha (which is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution), from each State retire once in two years and polls are held to fill up the vacancies.
- In addition, vacancies that arise due to resignation, death or disqualification are filled up through bypolls after which those elected serve out the remainder of their predecessors’ term.
- Voting is by single transferable vote, as the election is held on the principle of proportional representation. In other words, a bloc of MPs belonging to one or more parties can elect a member of their choice if they have the requisite numbers. This is to avoid the principle of majority, which would mean that only candidates put up by ruling parties in the respective States will be elected. The Delhi and Puducherry Assemblies elect members to the Rajya Sabha to represent the two Union Territories.
What is the voting process?
- Polling for a Rajya Sabha election will be held only if the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies. Since the strength of each party in the Assembly is known, it is not difficult to estimate the number of seats a party would win in the Rajya Sabha poll.
- For instance, if there are four seats to be filled up, and the ruling party and its allies command a two-thirds majority, and the Opposition a third, it will mean that the election will go three seats to one in favour of the ruling party. In many States, parties avoid a contest by fielding candidates only in respect to their strength. Where an extra candidate enters the fray, voting becomes necessary.
- Candidates fielded by political parties have to be proposed by at least 10 members of the Assembly or 10% of the party’s strength in the House, whichever is less. For independents, there should be 10 proposers, all of whom should be members of the Assembly.
What is Single transferable vote?
- A single transferable vote means electors can vote for any number of candidates in order of their preference. A candidate requires a specified number of first preference votes to win.
- Value of 1 vote : Each first choice vote has a value of 100 in the first round. To qualify, a candidate needs one point more than the quotient obtained by dividing the total value of the number of seats for which elections are taking place plus one. For instance, if there are four seats and 180 MLAs voting, the qualifying number will be 180/5= 36 votes or a value of 3,600. Normally, the results are clear after one round itself. The extra candidate is eliminated for want of enough first preference votes.
- Second round of counting : However, counting may go to the second round, if more than one candidate fails to get the specified number. In such a situation, the second preference polled by the candidates (in ballots where the first preference has gone to those already qualified) will be transferred to their kitty, but with a diminished value. The total value of the votes polled by the remaining candidates both as first and subsequent preferences would be used to decide the winner.
Why do not the Rajya Sabha polls have a secret ballot?
- The Rajya Sabha polls have a system of open ballot, but it is a limited form of openness. As a measure to check rampant cross-voting, which was taken to mean that the vote had been purchased by corrupt means, the system of each party MLA showing his or her marked ballots to the party’s authorised agent, before they are put into the ballot box, has been introduced.
- Showing a marked ballot to anyone other than one’s own party’s authorised agent will render the vote invalid.
- Not showing the ballot to the authorised agent will also mean that the vote cannot be counted. And independent candidates are barred from showing their ballots to anyone.
Why does not none of the above, or NOTA, apply to the Rajya Sabha polls?
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued two circulars, on January 24, 2014 and November 12, 2015, giving Rajya Sabha members the option to press the NOTA button in the Upper House polls.
- However, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down the provision, holding that the ‘none of the above’ option is only for general elections held on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and cannot be applied to indirect elections based on proportional representation.
Does cross-voting attract disqualification?
- No. The Supreme Court, while declining to interfere with the open ballot system, ruled that not voting for the party candidate will not attract disqualification under the antidefection law.
- As voters, MLAs retain their freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
- However, the Court observed that since the party would know who voted against its own candidate, it is free to take disciplinary action against the legislator concerned.
Can a legislator vote without taking oath as a member of the Assembly?
- While taking oath as a member is for anyone to function as a legislator, the Supreme Court has ruled that a member can vote in a Rajya Sabha election even before taking oath as legislator.
- It ruled that voting at the Rajya Sabha polls, being a non-legislative activity, can be performed without taking oath. A person becomes a member as soon as the list of elected members is notified by the ECI, it said. Further, a member can also propose a candidate before taking oath.
2 . Operation Green
Context : The Opposition on Tuesday targeted the Centre’s policies as tomato prices doubled in one month across the country.
About Operation Green
- In the budget speech of 2018-19, a new Scheme “Operation Greens” was announced on the line of “Operation Flood”, with an outlay of Rs. 500 crore to promote Farmer Producers Organizations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
- Operation Greens seeks to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility.
- The scheme was extended during June 2020 to cover all fruits & vegetables (TOTAL) for a period of six months on pilot basis as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
- The Ministry of Food Processing Industries has launched the scheme. NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilisation measures.
- Enhancing value realisation of TOP farmers by targeted interventions to strengthen TOP production clusters and their FPOs, and linking/connecting them with the market.
- Price stabilisation for producers and consumers by proper production planning in the TOP clusters and introduction of dual use varieties.
- Reduction in post-harvest losses by creation of farm gate infrastructure, development of suitable agro-logistics, creation of appropriate storage capacity linking consumption centres.
- Increase in food processing capacities and value addition in TOP value chain with firm linkages with production clusters.
- Setting up of a market intelligence network to collect and collate real time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.
The strategy will comprise of a series of measures as decided by the Ministry which include:
- Short term Price Stabilisation Measures : MoFPI will provide 50% of the subsidy on the following two components:
- Transportation of Tomato Onion Potato(TOP) Crops from production to storage;
- Hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops;
- Long Term Integrated value chain development projects
- Capacity Building of FPOs & their consortium
- Quality production
- Post-harvest processing facilities
- Marketing / Consumption Points
- Creation and Management of e-platform for demand and supply management of TOP Crops.
Pattern of Assistance
- The pattern of assistance will comprise of grants-in-aid at the rate of 50% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs. 50 crores per project. However, in case where PIA is/are FPO(s), the grant-in-aid will be at the rate of 70% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs. 50 crores per project.
- Eligible Organisation would include State Agriculture and other Marketing Federations, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), cooperatives, companies, Self-help groups, food processors, logistic operators, service providers, supply chain operators, retail and wholesale chains and central and state governments and their entities/organizations will be eligible to participate in the programme and to avail financial assistance.
- The applicant fulfilling the eligibility criteria under the scheme is required to submit the online application on SAMPADA portal of the ministry attaching therewith complete documents.
3 . Geographical Indication
Context : The Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai has given tags to seven different products from Uttar Pradesh. ‘Amroha Dholak’, ‘Mahoba Gaura Patthar Hastashlip’, ‘Mainpuri Tarkashi’, ‘Sambhal Horn Craft’, ‘Baghpat Home Furnishings’, ‘Barabanki Handloom Product’ and ‘Kalpi Handmade Paper’ are the products that been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Details of the Products
- The Amroha Dholak is a musical instrument made of natural wood. Mango, jackfruit and teakwood is preferred for making the dholak. Wood from mango and sheesham trees are used to carve the multiple sized and shaped hollow blocks, which are later fitted with animal skin, mostly goatskin, to create the instrument.
- The application for Baghpat Home Furnishings says Baghpat and Meerut are famous for their exclusive handloom home furnishing product and running fabrics in cotton yarn since generations, and only cotton yarn are used in the handloom weaving process.
- According to the details filed for the Barabanki Handloom Product, there are around 50,000 weavers and 20,000 looms at Barabanki and adjoining area.
- Historical details for Kalpi Handmade Paper show that Munnalal ‘Khaddari’, a Gandhian, formally introduced the craft here in the 1940s, though many locals say that Kalpi’s association with paper-making dates further back into history. The handmade paper-making cluster at Kalpi is a huge cluster, engaging more than 5,000 craftsmen and approximately 200 units.
- The Mahoba Gaura Patthar Hastashlip is a stone craft. It is a very unique and soft stone with scientific name, the ‘Pyro Flight Stone’. Gaura stone craft is made of radiant white-coloured stone that is predominantly found in this region. It is used for making craft items.
- Tarkashi, a popular art form from Mainpuri, is primarily brass wire inlay work on wood. It was mainly used for khadaous (wooden sandals), a necessity for every household, since leather was considered unclean. And for the Sambhal Horn Craft, the raw material is procured from dead animals. They are hand-made.
About GI Tag
- GI has its origins in the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. “The protection of industrial property has as its object patents, utility models, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks, trade names, indications of source or appellations of origin, and the repression of unfair competition”
- But it was formalised in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of 1994. GIs are defined as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.”
- India, which is a party to TRIPS, formulated a GI law in 1999, which came into force four years later. India has till now granted 303 GIs, including 11 foreign products like Scotch and Cognac.
- The GIs include twenty nine products which have got two separate GIs each, one for the name and the other for the logo. Darjeeling tea, Kanchipuram silk, Kashmir pashmina, Lucknow chikan craft, Hyderabad haleem and Maharashtra’s Warli painting are some well known products which have been granted a GI. Karnataka is the state with most GIs, accounting for over a tenth of the country’s total.
- It is valid for 10 years after which it can be renewed.
- A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
- In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
- In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.
- Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
- Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.
- Geographical indications registered as collective and certification marks are generally protected for renewable ten-year periods.
- The right to use a protected geographical indication belongs to producers in the geographical area defined, who comply with the specific conditions of production for the product
What rights does a geographical indication provide?
- A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
- For example, in the jurisdictions in which the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can exclude use of the term “Darjeeling” for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the standards set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication.
- However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication.
- Protection for a geographical indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.
Advantages of GI Tags
- Products are legally protected.
- It prevents unauthorized use of GI tag items.
- It enables buyers to obtain high-quality items with desired characteristics while ensuring authenticity.
- Increases the economic success of GI tag product manufacturers by increasing their desire in national and international markets.
- Along with the positives, there are also drawbacks to using GI tags. Recently, there has been an increase in disagreements over the provenance of the goods under examination. A lack of unambiguous historical evidence exacerbates this.
4 . Facts for Prelims
- “Aadhaar Authentication” is a process by which the Aadhaar number along with demographic information (such as name, date of birth, gender etc) or biometric information (Fingerprint or Iris) of an individual is submitted to UIDAI’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for its verification and UIDAI verifies the correctness of the details submitted, or the lack thereof, on the basis of information available with it.
- Aadhaar authentication provides an instant mechanism to prove your identity through online authentication. Therefore one need not carry any other ID proof except Aadhaar number.
Ati Vishsiht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal & Param Vishisht Seva Medal
- Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) is a military award of India given to recognize “distinguished service of an exceptional order” to all ranks of the armed forces. The award is a peacetime equivalent of Uttam Yuddh Seva Medal, which is a Wartime Distinguished Service decoration. The award can also be granted posthumously. Subsequent awards are represented by a bar worn on the ribbon. The awardee can use “AVSM” as post-nominal letters.
- Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM; Great War Service Medal) is one of India’s military decorations for Wartime Distinguished Service. It is awarded for a high degree of distinguished services in an operational context. “Operational context” includes times of war, conflict, or hostilities. The award is a wartime equivalent of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, which is a Peacetime Distinguished Service decoration. Uttam Yudh Seva Medal may be awarded posthumously
- Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) is a military award of India. It was constituted in 1960 and since then it is awarded in recognition to peace-time service of the most exceptional order and may be awarded posthumously. All ranks of the Indian Armed Forces including Territorial Army, Auxiliary and Reserve Forces, Nursing officers and other members of the Nursing services and other lawfully constituted Armed Forces are eligible for the award