Indian Express Explained 15/06/2020

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1) Explained: India has its first gas exchange. What it is, and how it will work :- India’s first gas exchange —the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX) — was launched on Monday. The exchange is expected to facilitate transparent price discovery in natural gas, and facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.

How will this exchange work?

The IGX is a digital trading platform that will allow buyers and sellers of natural gas to trade both in the spot market and in the forward market for imported natural gas across three hubs —Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat, and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.

Imported Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will be regassified and sold to buyers through the exchange, removing the requirement for buyers and sellers to find each other.

Will domestically produced natural gas also be bought and sold on the exchange?

No. The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government. It will not be sold on the gas exchange.

2) EDITORIAL :- Fiscal relations in times of COVID 

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS-2 Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Context – Covid exposes limits of centralized approach of government where Finance Commission must reset the balance in fiscal federalism.

The 15th Finance Commission is expected to submit its report in about four months from now and amid the pandemic has to deal with the following issues:

  1. Increased debt to GDP ratio– Factoring in the additional borrowings, the debt-to-GDP ratio may well be over 80 per cent this year. Thus the fiscal consolidation roadmap will have to be reworked, and as per its terms of reference, the Finance Commission will lay out the new path to be followed by both Centre and states. 
  2. State borrowings– Recently, the Centre eased the states’ budget constraint, allowing them to borrow more this year, conditional upon them implementing reforms in line with the Centre’s priorities. Finance Commission, in line with its terms of reference, can go along with the Centre’s stance and recommend imposing conditions on additional borrowing and formalize this arrangement. 
  3. GST compensation cess– The GST council, in which the Centre effectively has a veto, is yet to clearly spell out its views on the extension of the compensation cess to offset states losses beyond the five-year period. At a time when the Centre is struggling to fulfill its promise of assuring states their GST revenues, will the Commission argue in favour of extending the compensation period, as states desire is another major challenge. 
  4. Tax devolution to states– The fiscal multiplier of central government capital spending is greater than that by the states. Also, Centralization of political power may well lead to demands for centralization of resources. Thus, centre would want reduced share of tax devolution.

Way Forward – Any attempt to shift the uneasy balance in favour of the Centre will strengthen the argument that the government’s talk of cooperative federalism serves as a useful mask to hide its centralizing tendencies. As a neutral arbiter of Centre-state relations, the Finance Commission should seek to maintain the delicate balance in deciding on contesting claims.


Public trust in police increases over the years

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Role of civil services in a democracy

Context: IANS-C voter tracking survey showed, public trust in the police has increased from around 30% to almost 70% between 2018 and 2020.

Role of Police during Covid-19 pandemic:

The Indian police has played a multifaceted role during the Covid-19 lockdown which has increased public trust on the institution. The functions played by police during Covid-19 lockdown are as follows:

  • guarding containment zones,
  • monitoring thousands of home quarantines,
  • door-to-door help to elderly and isolated,
  • distribute food to women’s shelters,
  • ferry medication and essential commodities to remote tribal communities,
  • assist stranded workers or facilitate their safe passage home.
  • Launch helplines and conduct awareness programs

Police and Public trust issues:

  • Police misconduct: The lack of effective accountability mechanisms and periodic review of performance has misplaced the public’s confidence in the police.
  • Lack of proper justice:Due to corruption in the police system and poor criminal investigation process, people tend to lose trust on police system.
  • Police Brutality: In the recent years, there have instances of police brutality. For example, Faizancase during the Delhi riots, 2020.

Other issues in the Police system:

  • Archaic Police Act:Police is an exclusive subject under the State List (List II, Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution). Most of the states follow the archaic Indian Police Act 1861 with a few alterations.
  • Low police-to-population ratio:The global average ratio of police-population is 270 to 100,000, where it’s 120 in India. The police system is thus highly understaffed and overburdened.
  • Modernization:  The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report “Compendium on Performance Audit Reviews on Modernisation of Police Force” highlighted that the police force continues to depend on outdated and unserviceable weapons.
Supreme Court directions in Prakash Singh vs Union of India 2006The Supreme Court had put forward a slew of recommendations as follows:·        Constitute a State Security Commission in every state to lay down policy for police functioning, evaluate police performance, and ensure that state governments do not excessively influence on the police.·        Constitute a Police Establishment Board in every state to decide postings, transfers and promotions of officers below rank of DSP.·        Constitute Police Complaints Authorities to inquire allegations of police misconduct·        minimum tenure of at least two years for the DGP·        Separate the investigating police from the law and order police

Way Forward: The challenges faced by the police system requires immediate attention from the government and reforms should be initiated at the earliest. The concept of Strict and Sensitive, Modern and Mobile, Alert and Accountable, Reliable and Responsive; Techno-savvy and Trained (SMART) policing introduced in 2014 is a step-in right direction.

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