Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Monetary Policy
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act
- Parliamentary Privileges
- Private Member’s Bill
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Monetary Policy
Context: With elevated inflation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India decided to raise the policy repo rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 5.4%.
Details of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting
- Reserve Bank of India decided to raise the policy repo rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 5.4%.
- Inflation is projected to remain above the upper tolerance level of 6% through the first three quarters of 2022-23
- The RBI retained its inflation and GDP growth projections for the current fiscal year ending in March 2023 at 6.7% and 7.2%, respectively.
- As per MPC with the elevated level of inflation and resilience in domestic economic activity… further calibrated monetary policy action is needed to contain inflationary pressures, pull back headline inflation within the tolerance band closer to the target, and keep inflation expectations anchored so as to ensure that growth is sustained.
- The MPC also said it would remain focused on “withdrawal of accommodation” to ensure that inflation remains within the target, while supporting growth.
- On the external sector Current Account Deficit (CAD) would remain within manageable limits.
- The forex reserves remain strong and RBI will deal with excess volatility of the exchange rate.
About Repo rate and its hike
- Repo rate refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the Reserve Bank of India.
- The hike in Repo rate – the key policy rate of RBI or the rate at which it lends to banks – means the cost of funds for banks will go up.
- When interest rates are raised, it makes money more expensive, thereby resulting in reduction of demand in the economy and bringing down inflation.
Impact of the rising rates
- Loans : Equated monthly instalments (EMIs) on home, vehicle and other personal and corporate loans are likely to go up.
- Inflation : By hiking the Repo rate, the RBI is aiming to keep inflation – which is already close to 7 per cent — at its desired level, and control and monitor money flow into the banking system at a time when the global economy is facing turbulent times.
- Real state sector: The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to raise interest rates will impact housing sales. There are already inflationary trends of primary raw materials, including cement, steel, labor that have recently led to a rise in property prices. Together, these factors will impact residential sales.
- Bank Deposits : Bank depositors will get higher returns on their deposits depending on how banks pass on the new interest rate hike. These deposits include fixed deposits.
Policy Stances of RBI
- Accommodative Stance
- Accommodative stance means the central bank is telling the market to expect a rate cut anytime
- Usually, this policy is adopted when there is slowdown in the economy.
- Neutral stance
- Neutral stance doesn’t have any particular meaning. This means anything can happen anytime means the RBI would have the flexibility to either increase or decrease the policy rates
- Tight and Calibrated Tightening stance
- Tight – It indicates an impending rate hike
- Calibrated Tightening – RBI would either keep the rates constant or increase the rates.
Monetary Policy Committee
- RBI Act, 1934 provides for an empowered six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) to be constituted by the Central Government.
- The first such MPC was constituted in 2016.
- Governor of the RBI;
- Deputy Governor of the RBI in charge of Monetary Policy;
- one officer of the RBI to be nominated by the Central Board;
- Three people to be appointed by the Central Government
- Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is the ex-officio Chairperson of the committee
- Members hold office for a period of four years or until further orders, whichever is earlier)
- It determines the policy repo rate required to achieve the inflation target.
- The MPC is required to meet at least four times in a year.
- The quorum for the meeting of the MPC: four members.
- Each member of the MPC has one vote, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Governor has a second or casting vote.
Direct and Indirect instruments used for implementing monetary Policy
- Repo Rate: The (fixed) interest rate at which the Reserve Bank provides overnight liquidity to banks against the collateral of government and other approved securities under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
- Reverse Repo Rate: The (fixed) interest rate at which the Reserve Bank absorbs liquidity, on an overnight basis, from banks against the collateral of eligible government securities under the LAF
- Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF): The LAF consists of overnight as well as term repo auctions. Progressively, the Reserve Bank has increased the proportion of liquidity injected under variable rate repo auctions across the range of tenors. The aim of term-repo is to help develop the inter-bank term-money market, which in turn can set market-based benchmarks for pricing of loans and deposits, and hence improve transmission of monetary policy. The RBI also conducts variable interest-rate reverse-repo auctions, as necessitated under market conditions.
- Marginal Standing Facility (MSF): A facility under which scheduled commercial banks can borrow additional amount of overnight money from the Reserve Bank by dipping into their Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) portfolio up to a limit at a penal rate of interest. This provides a safety valve against unanticipated liquidity shocks to the banking system
- Corridor: The MSF rate and reverse repo rate determine the corridor for the daily movement in the weighted average call money rate.
- Bank Rate: It is the rate at which the Reserve Bank is ready to buy or re discount bills of exchange or other commercial papers. The Bank Rate is published under Section 49 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. This rate has been aligned to the MSF rate and, therefore, changes automatically as and when the MSF rate changes alongside policy repo rate changes.
- Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): The average daily balance that a bank is required to maintain with the Reserve Bank as a share of such per cent of its Net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) that the Reserve Bank may notify from time to time in the Gazette of India.
- Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): The share of NDTL that a bank is required to maintain in safe and liquid assets, such as unencumbered government securities, cash and gold. Changes in SLR often influence the availability of resources in the banking system for lending to the private sector.
- Open Market Operations (OMOs): These include both outright purchase and sale of government securities, for injection and absorption of durable liquidity, respectively.
- Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS): This instrument for monetary management was introduced in 2004. Surplus liquidity of a more enduring nature arising from large capital inflows is absorbed through sale of short-dated government securities and treasury bills. The cash so mobilized is held in a separate government account with the Reserve Bank
2 . Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act
Context: The Supreme Court said it may loosen the restrictive grip of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act which bars unmarried women from terminating pregnancies which are up to 24 weeks old as it is arbitrary and violative of women’s right to bodily autonomy and dignity.
About the Issue
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 and its Rules of 2003 prohibit unmarried women who are between 20 weeks and 24 weeks pregnant to abort with the help of registered medical practitioners. Wheras termination up to 24 weeks is allowed for married woman
- Rules permit termination of pregnancies of up to 24 weeks in seven specific categories, including survivors of rape or sexual assault, minors, in case of physical disabilities and fetal malformation.
Indian Abortion Laws
How did abortion laws come about in India?
- In the 1960s, due to a high number of induced abortions taking place, the Union government constituted Shantilal Shah Committee to deliberate on the legalisation of abortion in the country.
- To reduce maternal mortality owing to unsafe abortions, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act was brought into force in 1971.
- This law is an exception to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions of 312 and 313 and sets out the rules of how and when a medical abortion can be carried out.
- Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860: It criminalises voluntarily “causing miscarriage” even when the miscarriage is with the pregnant woman’s consent, except when the miscarriage is caused to save the woman’s life.
MTP Act, 1971
- In 1971, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP Act) was introduced to “liberalise” access to abortion since the restrictive criminal provision was leading to women using unsafe and dangerous methods for termination of pregnancy.
- It allowed termination of pregnancy by a medical practitioner in two stages.
- For termination of pregnancy up to 12 weeks: opinion of one doctor was required.
- For pregnancies between 12 and 20 weeks: opinion of two doctors was required.
What is the MTP (Amendment) Act, 2021?
- Under the 2021 Act, medical termination of pregnancy is permitted if it is backed by medical opinion and is being sought for at least one of the following reasons —
- If the continuation of pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman
- If its continuation would result in grave injury to the woman’s physical or mental health
- In the case of a substantial risk that if the child was born, it would suffer from serious physical or mental abnormality
- The pregnancy can be terminated up to 24 weeks of gestational age after the opinion of two registered medical practitioners under these conditions:
- If the woman is either a survivor of sexual assault or rape or incest
- If she is a minor
- If her marital status has changed during the ongoing pregnancy (i.e., either widowhood or divorce)
- If she has major physical disabilities or is mentally ill
- On the grounds of fetal malformation incompatible with life or if the child is born, it would be seriously handicapped
- If the woman is in humanitarian settings or disaster, or emergency situations as declared by the government
- While the law recognizes change in circumstances of the relationship status between a pregnant woman and her spouse — in the case of divorce and widowhood — it does not envisage the situation for unmarried women.
- This is the gap in the law that the petitioner before the Supreme Court falls into.
- Besides, if the pregnancy has to be terminated beyond the 24-week gestational age, it can only be done on the grounds of fetal abnormalities if a four-member Medical Board, as set up in each State under the Act, gives permission to do so.
- The law also provides that where it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, abortion can be carried out at any time by a single registered medical practitioner.
- Under the 2021 Act, Unmarried women can also access abortion under the above-mentioned conditions, because it does not mention the requirement of spousal consent.
- If the woman is a minor, however, the consent of a guardian is required.
Criticisms against the abortion law
- The MTP Act requires abortion to be performed only by doctors with specialization in gynecology or obstetrics. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s 2019-20 report on Rural Health Statistics indicates that there is a 70% shortage of obstetrician-gynecologists in rural India.
- Law does not permit abortion at will; it pushes women to access illicit abortions under unsafe conditions.
- Statistics put the annual number of unsafe and illegal abortions performed in India at 8,00,000, many of them resulting in maternal mortality.
- MTP Act shield RMP from criminal liability, and does not center pregnant woman’s needs, reproductive autonomy, and agency.
- Access to abortion is not at the will of the pregnant woman.
- It is a highly regulated procedure where law transfers decision-making power from pregnant woman to RMP.
3 . Parliamentary Privileges
Context: Rajya Sabha Chairman has said that members of Parliament have a wrong notion that they have parliamentary privilege from action by investigating agencies, while the session is on.
Parliamentary privileges – Concept
- Parliamentary privilege is the total of specific rights enjoyed by each House collectively and by members of each House individually, which outweigh those owned by other groups or persons and without which they could not execute their tasks.
- Some privileges are based purely on Parliamentary law and custom, while others are governed by statute.
Parliamentary Privileges – Constitutional Provisions
- Article 105 and Article 194 grant privileges or advantages to the members of the parliament so that they can perform their duties or can function properly without any hindrances.
Types of Privileges
- These “rights” can be divided into two categories: those extended to Members individually, and those extended to the House collectively. Each category can be further divided.
- The rights and immunities accorded to Members individually are generally categorized under the following headings:
- freedom of speech;
- freedom from arrest in civil actions;
- exemption from jury duty;
- exemption from being subpoenaed to attend court as a witness; and
- freedom from obstruction, interference, intimidation and molestation.
- The rights and powers of the House as a collectivity may be categorized as follows:
- the exclusive right to regulate its own internal affairs (including its debates, proceedings and facilities);
- the power to discipline; that is, the right to punish persons guilty of breaches of privilege or contempt, and the power to expel Members guilty of disgraceful conduct;
- the right to provide for its proper constitution, including the authority to maintain the attendance and service of its members;
- the right to inquiries and to call witnesses and demand papers;
- the right to administer oaths to witnesses appearing before it; and
- the right to publish papers without recourse to the courts relating to the content.
Details of the Privileges
- Freedom of speech and publication under parliamentary authority
- This is defined under Article 105(1) and clause (2).
- It gives the members of parliament freedom of speech and provides under Article 105(2) that no member of parliament will be liable in any proceedings before any Court for anything said or any vote given by him in the Parliament or any committee thereof.
- Also, no person will be held liable for any publication of any report, paper, votes or proceedings if the publication is made by the parliament or any authority under it.
- The same provisions are stated under Article 194, in that members of the legislature of a state are referred to instead of members of parliament.
- Article 105 is an absolute privilege given to the members of the parliament, but this privilege can be used in the premises of the parliament and not outside the parliament.
- Freedom from being arrested
- In civil cases, member of parliament cannot be arrested 40 days before and 40 days after the session of the house. If in any case a member of Parliament is arrested within this period, the person concerned should be released in order to attend the session freely. This privilege is already incorporated under Section 135A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
- In criminal matters, Members of Parliament are not on a different footing than a common citizen. It means that a Member of Parliament does not enjoy any immunity from being arrested in a criminal case, during the session or otherwise.
- Right to exclude strangers from its proceedings and hold secret sessions
- The object of including this right was to exclude any chances of daunting or threatening any of the members. The strangers may attempt to interrupt the sessions.
- Right to prohibit the publication of its reporters and proceedings
- The right has been granted to remove or delete any part of the proceedings that took place in the house.
- Right to regulate internal proceedings
- The House has the right to regulate its own internal proceedings and also has the right to call for the session of the Legislative assembly.
- But it does not have any authority in interrupting the proceedings by directing the speaker of the assembly.
- Right to punish members or outsiders for contempt
- This right has been given to every house of Parliament. If any of its members or maybe non-members commit contempt or breach any of the privileges given to him/her, the houses may punish the person.
- The houses have the right to punish any person for any contempt made against the houses in the present or in the past.
- In K. Anandan Nambiar case, the Supreme Court held that a Member of Parliament can claim no special status higher than that of an ordinary citizen, and is as much liable to be arrested, detained or questioned, even during the Session.
- In State of Kerala Vs. K. Ajith and Others, SC observed, that privileges and immunities are not gateways to claim exemptions from the general law of the land as the criminal law governs the action of every citizen.
4 . Private Member’s Bill
Context: Several Private Member’s Bills were introduced in Rajya Sabha – Empowering state legislatures to establish one or more capitals in a state’s territory, strengthening the 10th schedule of the Constitution, discouraging horse-trading, penalizing threats to women on social media etc.
- A Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (insertion of new article 3A) was introduced to provide state legislatures with explicit legislative competence to establish one or more capitals within their territory.
- The AAP’s MP introduced a Bill seeking to amend articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution to make it more stringent by adding a provision which leads to a further disqualification of six years from the date a member is disqualified under the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law).
About Private Members Bill
- A Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a Minister in the Union Cabinet is called a Private Member. Bills introduced by such members are called Private Member’s Bills.
- A Private Members Bill can be introduced in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Bills introduced by ministers are called Government Bills.
- There are no restrictions as to what a Private Members Bill should be about.
- The scope of a Private Members Bill is the same as that of a Government Bill.
- These bills can deal with any issue and can also be a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- Unlike a Government Bill, a Private Members Bill is not discussed by the Council of Ministers internally.
- The member must provide a one-month notice along with a copy of the ‘Statement of Object and Reasons’.
- Through the statement, the member is required to elaborate on the bill.
- In case there are multiple Private Members Bill being proposed at the same time, a ballot system is used to determine the sequence of bills for introduction.
- There is also a Parliamentary Committee on Private Member’s Bills and Resolutions that goes through all Private Members Bill.
- The committee classifies these Bills based on their urgency and importance, which in turn determines which would be discussed first.
- The successful passing of PMB is perceived by many as incompetence on part of the government and intrusion into the respective ministry’s domain.
- Governments in the past have also at times cut short the path of PMBs. If such a bill is seen getting support in Parliament, the government requests the MP to withdraw it and promises to introduce it as a Government Bill instead. The member who had tabled The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 was requested by the government to withdraw it.
5 . Facts for Prelims
Context: The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on Friday extended the tenure of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba for a period of one year beyond August 30, 2022.
- The cabinet secretariat is under the direct charge of the prime minister.
- The administrative head of the secretariat is the cabinet secretary who is also the ex-officio chairman of the civil services board.
- The appointee for the office is approved by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister, based on the appointee’s ability and the confidence of the Prime Minister.
- The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961.
- He/She facilitate smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.
- This Secretariat provides Secretarial assistance to the Cabinet and its Committees and assists in decision-making in Government by
- Ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination
- Ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments and
- Evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ adhoc Committees of Secretaries.
- The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President, the Vice President and Ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all Ministries/Departments.
Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.
- The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world.
- It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
- The Organization was established in a summit which took place in Rabat, following the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.
- Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.