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Monday, 16 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Mandate And Allocations

Mahendra Guru
The Hindu Editorial: Mandate And Allocations

Title: Mandate and allocations

(The terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission raise questions about constitutional propriety) 

The Finance Commission, set up in 1951 under Article 280 of the Constitution, basically decides how revenue has to be distributed between the Centre and the States. In addition, the Commission also decides the principles on which grants-in-aid will be given to the States. 

The 15th Finance Commission was constituted on November 27, 2017 and is headed by former Revenue Secretary and former Rajya Sabha MP N.K. Singh. The panel also includes Shaktikanta Das, former Economic Affairs Secretary and Anoop Singh, adjunct professor at Georgetown University 

This Commission is slated to submit its recommendations by October 31, 2019. The recommendations, to be observed for a period of five years, will kick in from April 1, 2020. 

The constitution of each Finance Commission is announced by a gazette notification. The notification comprises terms that list out the Commission’s work and considerations, called the Terms of Reference. 

In the notification issued on November 27, the ToR recommended, “the Commission shall use the population data of 2011 while making its recommendations.” 

Why is the Census important? 

According to the Constitution, there are four areas in which population is used as a factor - Manner of Election of President (Article 55), Composition of the House of the People (Article 81), Composition of the Legislative Assemblies (Article 170) and Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States (Article 330). 

The population figure is also used for the devolution of taxes. 

This does not, however, mean that the entire amount to be disbursed is based on the population - only a certain percentage of the funds. In the case of the 14th Finance Commission, that was 25%. Some of the other factors that the Commission takes into account are per capita income, area, and fiscal discipline. 

What is the significance of the 1971 Census? 

Before the 42nd Constitutional Amendment of 1976, the calculations behind the number of Lok Sabha seats was based on “population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published.” 

But the 1971 Census figures showed a dramatic increase in population, after which the concept of family planning was introduced at the policy level, according to research. This meant that States that complied with policy would lose out on all the areas where population was taken into account. Hence, the 42nd Amendment picked the 1971 Census as the base for all calculations and froze it till the 2001 Census. The 84th Amendment further extended that to the first Census after 2026, which will be the Census of 2031. 

So where does the Finance Commission come into all this? 

According to the Constitution, aside from what is written down, the Union government can “refer any other matter to the Finance Commission in the interest of sound finance”, 

Why are some states opposed to the use of 2011 figures for the devolution of taxes? 

The usage of the 2011 Census is being opposed for the same reason the usage of 1971 Census was made mandatory - to make sure States that have worked on population control do not lose out on benefits. 

This was the population Census of 1971, as against the Census of 2011 (in thousands). 

Title: A golden hue 

(Indian athletes make a mark in diverse sports at the Commonwealth Games) 

The Olympics has a global allure and the Asian Games basks in its continental spread. Compared to these two, the Commonwealth Games may look like an unflattering vestige of Britain’s colonial past. Yet there is no denying the CWG’s relevance as a stepping stone to greater sporting glory. For India, the relatively limited competition means it remains a frontrunner. 

This was underlined over the last fortnight at the Gold Coast in Australia, where India won 66 medals and improved on the haul of 64 from the 2014 edition at Glasgow. Importantly, the number of golds rose from 15 to 26. In wrestling, weightlifting, shooting, boxing, badminton and particularly table tennis, India dominated. There were world-class efforts from the Indians. 

Five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom, two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar, world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, 2016 world junior javelin champion Neeraj Chopra and teen shooting sensations Manu Bhaker and Anish Bhanwala produced splendid performances to clinch gold. 

In badminton, the unexpected gold in the mixed team event, the much-anticipated women’s final featuring P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, and the emergence of some doubles combinations were the high points. From the table tennis arena, India provided the biggest surprises. 

It won a medal in all seven events — an unprecedented sweep of team golds and a historic gold in the women’s singles for Manika Batra, highlighting the hard work done also by the coaching and support team. The 22-year-old Delhi player returned with four medals, including two golds, and proved to be India’s most valuable player. 

However, India’s reputation took a beating when A.V. Rakesh Babu and K.T. Irfan were packed off from the Games for violation of the ‘no needle’ policy after needles were found in their rooms. This aberration must not go unaddressed against the backdrop of successes of other Indian athletes. With the next Asian Games scheduled in August-September in Jakarta, Indonesia, India is expected to build on the gains from the Gold Coast. 

Based on the quality of recent performances, India could improve upon its 2014 tally of 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze medals. 

Considering the Asian standards of table tennis, badminton, shooting, wrestling, weightlifting and field events in athletics, it will be over-optimistic to expect a gold haul anywhere close to what the Indians managed from the Gold Coast. 

Chopra, Chanu, Sushil, the badminton players in singles, besides select shooters, will hope to do well. But India will certainly try to register a better show in hockey where the men’s team will defend its Asian Games title, and automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

Till then, the CWG has held a mirror up to Indian sport and found a refreshing reflection. 

Vocabulary words: 

Propriety (noun) = Justification, decency (औचित्य) 

Conclave (noun) = Assembly, conference (निर्वाचिका सभा) 

Exaggeration (noun) = Overstatement (अतिशयोक्ति) 

Devolution (noun) = Transfer, distribution (हस्तांतरण) 

Substantially (adv) = Considerably (काफी हद तक) 

Consent (noun) = Agreement, permission 

Ramification (noun) = A complex or unwelcome consequence 

Desist (verb) = Stop doing something 

Discretionary (adj) = Optional, voluntary 

Intrusion (noun) = Interruption of, (अनुचित हस्तक्षेप) 

Imperative (noun) = An essential or urgent thing (अनिवार्यताएं) 

Rigorous (adj) = Extremely thorough and careful (कठिन) 

Ironic (adj) = Sarcastic, sardonic (विडंबना) 

Allure (noun) = Attraction, lure (रिझाना) 

Vestige (noun) = Indication, sign (निशान) 

Fortnight (noun) = A period of two weeks 

Hue (noun) = Colour 

Clinch (verb) = Confirm or settle (पकड) 

Unprecedented (adj) = Never done or known before (अभूतपूर्व) 

Aberration (noun) = Recoil, depart (हटना) 

Instance (noun) = Example (उदाहरण) 

Bring down (phrasal verb) = To cause to fall (गिराना) 

Neonatal (adj) = Relating to newborn children (नवजात) 

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