Daily Current Affairs :4th and 5th February 2024

Topics Covered

  1. Floor Test
  2. Open Market Sale Scheme
  3. Facts for Prelims

1 . Floor Test

Context: Champai Soren government will face a crucial trust vote in the state assembly. 

What is a floor test? 

  • A floor test is primarily taken to know whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature. It is a constitutional mechanism under which a Chief Minister appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state. 
  • As per the Constitution, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor of the state. 
  • When a single party secures the majority of the seats in the house, the Governor appoints the leader of the party as the Chief Minister. In case the majority is questioned, the leader of the party which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting. 
  • The Chief Minister has to resign if they fail to prove their majority in the house. This happens both in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies. 
  • In situations when there are differences within a coalition government, the Governor can ask the Chief Minister to prove majority in the house. 

What is composite floor test? 

  • There is another test, Composite Floor Test, which is conducted only when more than one person stakes claim to form the government. When the majority is not clear, the governor might call for a special session to see who has the majority. The majority is counted based on those present and voting. This can also be done through a voice vote where the member can respond orally or through division voting. Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote. 
  • In division vote, voting can be done through electronic gadgets, ballots or slips. 
  • The person who has the majority will form the government. In case of tie, the speaker can also cast his vote. 

What are the possible outcomes of a floor test? 

  • In the floor test, the Champai Soren-led coalition government is set to move a motion of confidence. Their aim is to win a majority of votes from the members present in the House.  With the Assembly’s current strength at 80, the Champai Soren-led alliance will need at least 41 MLAs to vote in their favour to form the government. Champai Soren’s letter of support submitted to the Governor had included 43 signatures. 
  • However, in any case, if they fail to garner the trust of majority members in the assembly, the chief minister, in this case, Champai Soren will have to resign. 
  •  In case of a tie, the Speaker has the deciding vote.  

2 . Open Market Sale Scheme

Context: The Kerala government has flayed the Centre’s decision to bar governments and State-run agencies from procuring food grains through the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS). 

What is the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS)?

  • Firstly, the procurement of food grains like wheat and paddy for the central pool happens in Rabi and Kharif marketing seasons by the FCI and State corporations according to procurement estimates finalised by the government of India before the seasons. These purchases happen as per the Minimum Support Price. 
  • From the central pool, the government has to set aside wheat and rice for the 80 crore beneficiaries of free foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), maintain a buffer stock, and have a marketable surplus. 
  • Under the Open Market Sale Scheme, the FCI from time to time sells surplus food grains from the central pool especially wheat and rice in the open market to traders, bulk consumers, retail chains and so on at pre-determined prices. 
  • The Corporation does this through e-auctions where open market bidders can buy specified quantities at the prices set at the start of a cycle and revised routinely. 
  • Usually, states are also allowed to procure food grains through the OMSS without participating in the auctions, for their needs beyond what they get from the central pool to distribute to NFSA beneficiaries.  
  • The idea is to activate the OMSS during the lean season, the time between harvests, to improve and regulate domestic supply and availability of the two grains and bring down their prices in the open market; essentially making the scheme a measure to curb food grain inflation. 
  • The sales have been fairly low during the last few years owing to harvests getting affected by weather conditions as well as lower surpluses when the government distributed additional free food grains under the Garib Kalyan Yojana in the pandemic years. The scheme started during the pandemic has now been merged under the NFSA.  

How has the Centre revised the OMSS?

  • Recently, the Centre decided to restrict the quantity that a single bidder can purchase in a single bid under the OMSS. While the maximum quantity allowed earlier was 3,000 metric tonnes (MT) per bid for a buyer, it will now range from 10-100 metric tonnes (MT).  
  • The rationale given for the same by the Corporation is that the quantities have been reduced this time “to accommodate more small and marginal buyers and to ensure wider reach of the scheme”. 
  • The body contends this move will allow the supplies to the general public immediately. 
  • The objective behind the move is also to curb retail prices as allowing smaller bids should ideally break monopolies of bulk buyers, allowing more competitive bids by small buyers. 
  • Another reason for the move is to meet the FCI’s food security obligations. The Centre said that in recent years, production of agriculture crops was affected due to untimely rains, rise in temperature in the month of March and so on, making it incumbent upon the FCI to release its stocks “judicious manner under the OMSS (D)” so that the overall stock position is maintained at a comfortable level”. 

Why has the FCI discontinued the sale of grains under OMSS to states?

  • First, the Centre had decided earlier this month to reduce the quantity a particular bidder can purchase under the OMSS, but in a notification sent to the States on 2023, it stopped the sale of rice and wheat from the Central pool under the OMSS to state governments, also disallowing private bidders to sell their OMSS supplies to state governments.  
  • The Centre has explained the discontinuation of OMMS grains to the states by giving the same rationale. In order to ensure that the inflationary trends are kept under control while ensuring adequate stock levels in the Central pool it has decided to exclude State governments from the ambit of OMSS(D), as per the revised Policy dated June 13, 2023. 
  • Chairman and Managing Director of the FCI while announcing the FCI’s refusal to look at the request of states to allow more grains under OMSS, that the centre was already meeting its obligations to distribute grains to 80 crore marginalised beneficiaries under the NFSA, and also had an obligation to the 60 crore common consumers who are affected by retail prices. 

How have states reacted ?

  • Besides what is distributed under the NFSA, many states, including those governed by Opposition parties, have their own welfare schemes to distribute subsidised or free grains to sections of the population.  
  • In Karnataka, for instance, the Anna Bhagya scheme to give rice to marginalised families was a part of the recently-election Congress government’s state election promise. Karnataka Chief Minister and other leaders of the party have hit out at the Centre, accusing it of engaging in politics and conspiring to “fail” the State government’s poll guarantee by ensuring the State did not receive the required amount of rice to implement the scheme. It has also called the centre’s measure “anti-poor”. 
  • Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu is trying to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice from government agencies other than FCI. The state runs a universal PDS scheme. 
  • The Kerala government on the other hand does not procedure grains under the OMSS but is planning to take legal steps against the Centre’s overall food distribution policy.  

3 . Facts for Prelims

Personally Identifiable Information

  • PII is any data or information maintained by an organisation or agency that can potentially be used to identify a specific individual. This could include information such as Aadhaar, PAN, voter identity, passport, date of birth, contact number, communication address, and biometric information.  
  • The constituents of PII vary depending on an individual’s home country. However, non-PII in tandem with additional information can be used to identify an individual. 
  • Non-PII information includes photographic images (especially of the face or other identifying characteristics), place of birth, religion, geographic indicators, employment information, educational qualifications, and medical records. 
  • All this information can be used to identify individuals accurately. And while access to one set of PII may be enough to compromise online security, access to multiple databases can be used to identify and target individuals. 
  • Cyberattacks and weaknesses in digital infrastructure can lead to the exposure of citizens’ PII. 

Dynamic NFT (dNFT)

  • NFTs are unique digital objects that exist on a blockchain. Every NFT can be differentiated from another through a 1-of-1 tokenID and its unique contract address. From there, metadata such as images, video files, or other data can be attached, meaning that it’s possible to own a token that represents a unique digital object.  
  • DNFT, a decentralised version of the traditional Non-Fungible Token (NFT), has been positioned as a viable alternative to NFT. 
  • DNFT offers production houses an opportunity to sell the NFT rights of the same to generate additional revenue. 
  • There is a huge demand for copyrighted protected materials at the international level and DNFTs of such materials would definitely find buyers. 
  • In addition to the revenue, the DNFT could help create more publicity for the movies and enhance the international reach by reaching out to crypto currency users worldwide. 
  • For the owners, DNFT will give access to events and special shows hosted by the production houses. Each user would deduct a fixed amount from the DNFT’s current value and the deducted sum will be shared among other DNFT owners. 

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