घोषणाओं का सारांश : आत्मनिर्भर भारत अभियान

Summary of announcements : Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

Summary of announcements : Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

On May 12, the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, announced a special economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore (equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP) with the aim of making the country independent against the tough competition in the global supply chain and to help in empowering the poor, labourers, migrants who have been adversely affected by COVID.  Following this announcement, the Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, through five press conferences, announced the detailed measures under the economic package.  This note summarises the key measures proposed under the economic package.

Government Reforms

Policy Highlights

  • Increase in borrowing limits:   The borrowing limits of state governments will be increased from 3% to 5% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the year 2020-21.  This is estimated to give states extra resources of Rs 4.28 lakh crore.  There will be unconditional increase of up to 3.5% of GSDP followed by 0.25% increase linked to reforms on -  universalisation of ‘One Nation One Ration card’, Ease of Doing Business, power distribution and Urban Local Body revenues.  Further, there will be an increase of 0.5% if three out of four reforms are achieved.5
     
  • Privatisation of Public Sector Enterprise (PSEs): A new PSE policy has been announced with plans to privatise PSEs, except the ones functioning in certain strategic sectors which will be notified by the government.  In strategic sectors, at least one PSE will remain, but private sector will also be allowed.  To minimise wasteful administrative costs, number of enterprises in strategic sectors will ordinarily be only one to four; others will be privatised/ merged/ brought under holding companies.3

Measures for businesses (including MSMEs)

Financial Highlights

  • Collateral free loans for businesses: All businesses (including MSMEs) will be provided with collateral free automatic loans of up to three lakh crore rupees.[1]  MSMEs can borrow up to 20% of their entire outstanding credit as on February 29, 2020 from banks and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).  Borrowers with up to Rs 25 crore outstanding and Rs 100 crore turnover will be eligible for such loans and can avail the scheme till October 31, 2020.  Interest on the loan will be capped and 100% credit guarantee on principal and interest will be given to banks and NBFCs.
     
  • Corpus for MSMEs: A fund of funds with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore will be set up for MSMEs.  This will provide equity funding for MSMEs with growth potential and viability.  Rs 50,000 crore is expected to be leveraged through this fund structure.1
     
  • Subordinate debt for MSMEs: This scheme aims to support to stressed MSMEs which have Non-Performing Assets (NPAs).  Under the scheme, promoters of MSMEs will be given debt from banks, which will be infused into the MSMEs as equity.  The government will facilitate Rs 20,000 crore of subordinate debt to MSMEs.  For this purpose, it will provide Rs 4,000 crore to the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises, which will provide partial credit guarantee support to banks providing credit under the scheme.1
     
  • Schemes for NBFCs: A Special Liquidity Scheme was announced under which Rs 30,000 crore of investment will be made by the government in both primary and secondary market transactions in investment grade debt paper of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Housing Finance Companies (HFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).  The central government will provide 100% guarantee for these securities.  The existing Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme (PCGS) will be extended to partially safeguard NBFCs against borrowings of such entities (such as primary issuance of bonds or commercial papers (liability side of balance sheets)).  The first 20% of loss will be borne by the central government.  The PCGS scheme will facilitate liquidity worth Rs 45,000 crores for NBFCs.1
     
  • Employee Provident Fund (EPF): Under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the government paid 12% of employer and 12% of employee contribution into the EPF accounts of eligible establishments for the months of March, April and May.  This will be continued for three more months (June, July and August).  This is estimated to provide liquidity relief of Rs 2,500 crore to businesses and workers.  
     
  • Statutory PF contribution: Statutory PF contribution of both the employer and employee will be reduced from 12% to 10% each for all establishments covered by EPFO for next three months.  This scheme will apply to workers who are not eligible for the 24% EPF support under PM Garib Kalyan Package and its extension.   However, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and State Public Sector Units (PSUs) will continue to contribute 12% as employer contribution.1
     
  • Street vendors: A special scheme will be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit for street vendors.  Under this scheme, bank credit will be provided to each vendor for an initial working capital of up to Rs 10,000.  This is estimated to generate liquidity of Rs 5,000 crore.[2]

Policy Highlights

  • Expediting payment of dues to MSMEs: Payments due to MSMEs from the government and CPSEs will be released within 45 days.1
     
  • Insolvency resolution:  A special insolvency resolution framework for MSMEs under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 will be notified.
     
  • Disallowing global tenders: To protect Indian MSMEs from competition from foreign companies, global tenders of up to Rs 200 crore will not be allowed in government procurement tenders.1
     
  • Reduction in TDS and TCS rates: The rates of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) for the non-salaried specified payments made to residents and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) will be reduced by 25% from the existing rates.  This reduction will apply from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021.  This is estimated to provide liquidity of Rs 50,000 crore.1
     
  • Ease of doing business for corporates: Direct listing of securities by Indian public companies in permissible foreign jurisdictions will be allowed.  Private companies which list Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) on stock exchanges will not be considered listed companies.  NCDs are debt instruments with a fixed tenure issued by companies to raise money for business purposes. Unlike convertible debentures, NCDs cannot be converted into equity shares of the issuing company at a future date.3

Legislative Highlights

  • Definition of MSME: The definition of MSMEs will be changed by amending the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006.  As per the proposed definition, the investment limit will be increased from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore for micro enterprises, from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore for small enterprises, and from Rs 10 crore to Rs 20 crore for medium enterprises.  A new criteria of annual turnover will be introduced.  The turnover limit for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises will be Rs 5 crore, Rs 50 crore, and Rs 100 crore, respectively.   The current distinction between manufacturing and services MSMEs (to provide different investment limits for each category) will be removed.1  
     
  • Initiation of insolvency proceedings: The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 will be amended to provide for the following: (i) minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings will be increased from one lakh rupees to one crore rupees; (ii) suspension of fresh initiation of insolvency proceedings up to one year, depending upon the pandemic situation; (iii) COVID-19 related debt will be excluded from the definition of ‘default’ under the Code for triggering insolvency proceedings.3
     
  • Amendments to Companies Act, 2013: The Companies Act, 2013 will be amended to provide for the following:3
     
    1. Certain offences under the Companies Act, 2013 will be decriminalised.  These include minor technical and procedural defaults such as shortcomings in CSR reporting, inadequacies in Board report, filing defaults, delay in holding of AGM.  Several compoundable offences will be shifted to internal adjudication mechanism.3
    2. Currently, certain provisions from the Companies Act, 1956 continue to apply to producer companies.  These provisions will be included in Companies Act, 2013.  The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) will be granted powers to create additional/specialised benches.  All defaults by small companies, one-person companies, producer companies, and start-ups will be subject to lower penalties.   

Agriculture and Allied sectors

Financial Highlights

  • Concessional Credit Boost to farmers: Farmers will be provided institutional credit facilities at concessional rates through Kisan Credit Cards.  This scheme will cover 2.5 crore farmers with concessional credit worth two lakh crore rupees.2
     
  • Agri Infrastructure Fund: A fund of one lakh crore rupees will be created for development of agriculture infrastructure projects at farm-gate and aggregation points (such as cooperative societies and Farmer Producer Organizations).  Farm gate refers to the market where buyers can buy products directly from the farmers.[3]
     
  • Emergency working capital for farmers: An additional fund of Rs 30,000 crore will be released as emergency working capital for farmers. This fund will be disbursed through NABARD to Rural Cooperative Banks (RCBs) and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) for meeting their crop loans requirements.  This fund is expected to benefit three crore small and marginal farmers.  This is in addition to the financial support of Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to RCBs and RRBs to meet the crop loan demand this year.2
     
  • Support to fishermen: The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be launched for integrated, sustainable, and inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries.  Under this scheme, Rs 11,000 crore will be spent on activities in Marine, Inland fisheries and Aquaculture and Rs 9,000 crore will be spent for developing infrastructure (such as fishing harbours, cold chain, markets).4
     
  • Animal Husbandry infrastructure development: An Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs 15,000 crore will be set up, with the aim of supporting private investment in dairy processing, value addition, and cattle feed infrastructure.  Incentives will be given for establishing plants for export of niche dairy products.4
     
  • Employment push using CAMPA funds: The government will approve plans worth Rs 6,000 crore under the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to facilitate job creation for tribals/adivasis.2  Funds under CAMPA will be used for: (i) afforestation and plantation works, including in urban areas, (ii) artificial regeneration, assisted natural regeneration, (iii) forest management, soil and moisture conservation works, (iv) forest protection, forest and wildlife related infrastructure development, and wildlife protection and management.  Note that the CAMPA funds are currently used for protection of forest and wildlife management. 

Legislative Highlights

  • Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act: The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowers the central and state governments control the production, supply and distribution of certain commodities to avoid scarcity in the country.  Commodities covered under the Act include edible oil and seeds, pulses, sugarcane and its products, and rice paddy.  The Act will be amended to deregulate food items including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato.  This is expected to allow better price realisation for farmers by attracting investments and enabling competition in the sector.  Stock limit will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances such as national calamities and famines with surge in prices.  Further, no such stock limit will apply to processors or value chain participant, subject to their installed capacity, or to any exporter subject to the export demand.4
     
  • Agriculture marketing reforms:  A central law will be formulated to provide: (i) adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at remunerative prices, (ii) barrier free inter-state trade, and (iii) a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce.  Currently, farmers are bound to sell their produce only to the licensees in Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).  The proposed amendments seek to enable free flow of agricultural produce and establish a smooth supply chain providing options of better price realisation to farmers.4
     
  • Agriculture Produce Pricing and Quality Assurance: A facilitative legal framework will be created to enable farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, large retailers, and exporters in a fair and transparent manner.  Risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns, and quality standardisation will form an integral part of the framework.  This is aimed at enabling farmers to predict the price of crops at the time of sowing and will also increase private sector investment in the sector.4

Migrant Workers

Policy Highlights

  • One Nation One Card: Migrant workers will be able to access the Public Distribution System (Ration) from any Fair Price Shop in India by March 2021 under the scheme of One Nation One Card.   The scheme will introduce the inter-state portability of access to ration for migrant labourers.  By August 2020 the scheme is estimated to cover 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states (83% of PDS population).  All states/union territories are required to complete full automation of fair price shops by March 2021 for achieving 100% national portability.2
     
  • Free food grain Supply to migrants: Migrant workers who are not beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act ration card or state card will be provided 5 kg of grains per person and 1 kg of chana per family per month for two months.  Rs 3,500 crore will be spent on this scheme, and eight crore migrants are estimated to benefit under it.2
     
  • Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) for Migrant Workers / Urban Poor: The migrant labour/urban poor will be provided living facilities at affordable rent under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).2  This will be achieved by: (i) converting government funded housing in the cities into ARHCs through PPPs, and (ii) incentivising manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop ARHCs on their private land and operate them.  

Civil Aviation

Policy Highlights

  • Efficient airspace management: Restrictions on utilisation of the Indian Air Space will be eased so that civilian flying becomes more efficient.  This is estimated to allow optimal utilisation of airspace, reduction in fuel use, and time, and save about Rs 1,000 crore per year for the aviation sector.5
     
  • Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for airports: World-class airports will be built through PPP model.   In the first round, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has awarded three airports (Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru) out of six bid for operation and maintenance on PPP basis.  Six more airports have been identified for 2nd and 3rd round of bidding process each.  The private sector investment in these 12 airports is expected to be around Rs 13,000 crore.5

Defence

Policy Highlights

  • FDI limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be increased from 49% to 74%.5
     
  • Make in India initiative will be promoted in the defence sector aiming to make the country independent in terms of production.  A list of weapons/platforms will be released which will be banned for import based on a year wise timeline.  Further, the government has planned to improve the autonomy, accountability and efficiency in Ordnance Supplies by corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board.5

Energy

Financial Highlights

  • Liquidity support for distribution companies (discoms): A liquidity support of Rs 90,000 crore will be provided to power discoms.  These will be in the form of funds from Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation.  Discoms will also be provided with state government guaranteed loans exclusively for discharging their liabilities to power generation companies.[4]
     
  • Coal evacuation:  Rs 50,000 crore will be spent on infrastructure development for evacuation of coal.  This includes Rs 18,000 crore worth of investment in mechanised transfer of coal (conveyor belts) from mines to railway sidings.5

Policy Highlights

  • Safeguarding consumer rights: Inefficiencies of discoms will not be passed on to the consumers.  Standards of Service and associated penalties for DISCOMs will be defined prompting discoms to ensure adequate power and avoiding load-shedding.5
     
  • Regulatory assets: Regulatory assets in the power sector will be eliminated.   Regulatory asset is the fund which belongs to discom due to approved tariff hike.  This is not realised in revenue as it not passed on to the consumers to avoid instability among them.  The discoms are allowed to recover this fund at a later stage from state governments or from consumers in form of an approved surcharge. As of now, significant capital is held in form of regulatory assets across different states which could be used by discoms of the respective states as liquidity.
     
  • Privatisation of power distribution: Power departments/utilities in union territories will be privatised.5
     
  • Commercial coal mining: In March 2020, the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed, which opened up the coal sector for commercial mining.  Auctions will be conducted for allocation of coal mines.  Any party can bid for a coal block and sell in the open market.  Entry norms will be liberalised and nearly 50 blocks will be offered immediately.5

Legislative Highlights

  • Reduction in cross-subsidy: The Electricity Act, 2003 will be amended to ensure a progressive reduction in cross-subsidies in the sector.5  Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) is being planned for providing subsidy to eligible consumers.5

Housing

Financial Highlights

  • Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (MIG): The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group (annual income between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 18 lakh) will be extended by one year up to March 2021.  The government has estimated that this will lead to an investment of over Rs 70,000 crore in the housing sector.2

Policy Highlights

  • Support to real estate sector: COVID 19 will be treated as an event of “Force Majeure” under Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) by states/union territories and their Regulatory Authorities.  An extension of six months will be given on registration and completion dates of all registered projects expiring on or after March 25, 2020 without individual applications, which can be further increased by three more months at the discretion of the Regulatory Authorities.  Partial bank guarantees will also be released by government agencies to ease cash flows.1

Social Sector

Policy Highlights

  • Public health: The investment in public health will be increased along with investment in grass root health institutions of urban and rural areas.3  The lab networks are being strengthened in districts and block levels for efficient management of the pandemic.  The National Digital Health Blueprint will be implemented, which aims at creating an ecosystem to support universal health coverage in an efficient, inclusive, safe and timely manner using digital technology.
     
  • Allocation for MGNREGS: To help boost rural economy, an additional Rs 40,000 crore will be allocated under MGNREGS.  This increases the Union Budget allocation for MGNREGS from Rs 61,500 crore to Rs 1,01,500 crore (65% increase) for 2020-21.[5]
     
  • Viability Gap Funding: Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for social infrastructure projects will be increased by up to 30% of the total project cost.  The total expense for developing the social infrastructure is estimated be Rs 8,100 crore.5
     
  • Technology driven education: PM eVidya will be launched for multi-mode access to digital/online education.  This program will include facilities to support school education in states/UTs under the DIKSHA scheme (one nation, one digital platform).  National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission will be launched by December 2020 to ensure that every child attains learning level and outcomes in grade 5 by 2025.3

Key Measures Taken by Reserve Bank of India (RBI)1

The overall financial package that has been announced also includes the liquidity generated by measures announced by RBI.  Some of these measures include:

  • Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) was reduced which resulted in liquidity support of Rs 1,37,000 crore.
     
  • Banks’ limits for borrowing under the marginal standing facility (MSF) were increased.  This allowed banks to avail additional Rs 1,37,000 crore of liquidity at reduced MSF rate.
     
  • Total Rs 1,50,050 crore of Targeted Long Term Repo Operations (TLTRO) has been planned for investment in investment grade bonds, commercial paper, non-convertible debentures including those of NBFCs and MFIs.
     
  • Special Liquidity Facility (SLF) of Rs 50,000 crore was announced for mutual funds to provide liquidity support.
     
  • Special refinance facilities worth Rs 50,000 crore were announced for NABARD, SIDBI and NHB at policy repo rate.
     
  • A moratorium of three months has been provided on payment of installments and interest on working capital facilities for all types of loans.

Break-up of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan economy package

The table below shows measure components of the entire special economic package:

Table 1: Break-up of stimulus from Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan package

Item

Amount (in Rs crore)

Stimulus from earlier measures

1,92,800

Stimulus provided by announcements in Part 1

5,94,550

Stimulus provided by announcements in Part 2

3,10,000

Stimulus provided by announcements in Part 3

1,50,000

Stimulus provided by announcements in Part 4 and Part 5

48,100

Sub Total

1,295,400

RBI Measures (Actual)

8,01,603

Grand Total

20,97,053

Source:   Presentation made by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, Ministry of Finance, May 13, 2020, PRS.

 

[1] Presentation made by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, Ministry of Finance, May 13, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatmanirbhar%20Presentation%20Part-1%20Business%20including%20MSMEs%2013-5-2020.pdf

[2] Presentation of details of Tranche 2 by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, Ministry of Finance, May 14, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatma%20Nirbhar%20Bharat%20presentation%20Part-2%2014-5-2020.pdf.

[3] Presentation of details of 3rd Tranche by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, May 15, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatma%20Nirbhar%20Bharat%20Presentation%20Part-3%20Agriculture%2015-5-2020%20revised.pdf

[4] Presentation of details of 4th Tranche announced by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, May 16, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/AatmaNirbhar%20Bharat%20Full%20Presentation%20Part%204%2016-5-2020.pdf

[5] Presentation of details of 5th Tranche announced by Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan to support Indian economy in fight against COVID-19, May 17, 2020, https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/Aatma%20Nirbhar%20Bharat%20%20Presentation%20Part%205%2017-5-2020.pdf

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgment of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.   This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

उर्वरक सब्सिडी की प्रणाली

Issues related to safety of women

Standing Committee Report Summary 

  • The Standing Committee on Human Resource Development (Chair: Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya) submitted its report on issues related to safety of women in March 2020.  Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:
  • Strengthening of legislation:  The Committee observed that several laws have been framed for the welfare of women.  In spite of the legislative framework in place, women continue to face inequality, discrimination and violence.  The Committee recommended that laws to protect women should be strictly implemented.   Some ways in which implementation of laws can be improved include: (i) filing of charge sheets within 30 days, (ii) denial of bail to accused, and (iii) trial of pending cases within six months. 
  • Representation of women:  The Committee observed that crimes against women are due to their lack of representation in decision-making positions.  It recommended 33% reservation for women at all levels of government. 
  • Fast Track Courts:  The Committee observed the importance of the timely delivery of justice in reducing crimes against women.  It noted that states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have not given cofirmation for setting up Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs).  The Committee recommended that the Department of Justice should ensure that 1,800 FTSCs become operational across India at the earliest.
  • Further, the Committee observed that there is a skewed distribution of FTSCs across states.  For example, there are 18 FTSCs in Andhra Pradesh, 218 in Uttar Pradesh, 14 in Tamil Nadu, and 31 in Karnataka.  It recommended that there should be a balanced distribution of Courts across states.   Further, there should be one FTSC within a 500 km of radius.
  • Human Trafficking:  The Committee observed that there is no comprehensive law for the prevention of human trafficking.  It recommended that a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau should be established.  It should be composed of police, NGOs, and other stakeholders.  It should have the power to investegate intra-state trafficking cases, and coordinate anti-trafficking efforts with international bodies.  Further, an Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee should be constituted for providing relief and rehabilitation to victims of human trafficking.
  • Nirbhaya Fund:  The Committee observed that the total amount under the Nirbhaya Fund is Rs 7,436 crore for 32 projects and schemes across India.  However, only Rs 2,647 has been disbursed to the concerned bodies for implementation of the projects and schemes.  It recommended that the projects and schemes should be implemented in a timely manner and funds should be utilised effectively.  Further, a Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary should oversee projects and schemes under the fund.
  • Infrastructure:  To address crimes against women the Committee recommended certain infrastructural and institutional mesaures which may be implemented.  These include: (i) setting up of women’s cells in police stations, (ii) increasing the number of women police officers, (iii) setting up a single helpline number for complaints related to women’s safety, (iv) setting up forensic labs in all state capitals to convict offenders, and (v) installing CCTV and panic buttons in all public transport. 
  • Education and awareness: The Committee recommended that textbooks and school curriculums should teach values of respect towards women.  Further, universities should set up Departments of Women Studies which can counsel distressed women.  The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare should educate healthcare workers on dealing with victims of gender based violence.  

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.  This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

 

System of Fertilizer Subsidy

Standing Committee Report Summary

  • The Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers (Chair: Ms. K. Kanimozhi) submitted its report on the subject ‘System of Fertilizer Subsidy’ on March 17, 2020.  The central government provides subsidy to fertilizer manufacturers and importers so that farmers can buy them at affordable prices.  Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:
  • Change in the subsidy policy:  The Committee noted that fertilizer subsidy resulted in a tremendous growth of agricultural productivity, which was necessary for food security of the huge population of the country.   However, it has also lead to negative effects such as over-use of fertilizers, their imbalanced use, and the resultant soil degradation.  The Committee observed that the government is studying the existing subsidy regime and possible mechanisms which can improve the policy further.  In this context, NITI Aayog has circulated its draft report to various stakeholders.
  • The Committee noted that any drastic change in the existing fertilizer subsidy policy would have a huge bearing on the food security of the country.  It recommended that: (i) any such drastic change must be effected only after an in-depth study and wider consultations with all stakeholders (including the concerned central and state government departments, fertilizer industry, and farmers and their associations), (ii) no hasty decision should be taken, (iii) interests of small and marginal farmers should be firmly kept in mind, and (iv) best international practices should be carefully studied.  It also recommended that education and awareness of farmers about the balanced use of fertilizers should be an integral part of the policy.
  • Direct subsidy to farmers:  The Committee observed that many fertilizer manufacturing plants are operating with very old technology and systems, and not at their highest efficiency.   The government bears the cost of their inefficiency in the form of higher subsidy.  The Committee recommended that the companies should be set free to manufacture, supply, and sell fertilizers as per their own system.  A farmer should have the choice of buying from various brands of fertilizers, while getting the subsidy directly in his bank account.  Such a system will push manufacturers to produce and sell fertilizers in the most cost-effective manner, and push the inefficient ones out.  It also recommended that the government should set out a clear and firm roadmap to switch to a system where farmers directly get the subsidy and the manufacturing and importing of fertilizers is set free to the market forces.
  • Delay in paying subsidy dues:  The Committee noted that due to the non-payment of subsidy bills received from companies, there is a huge carryover of subsidy liabilities every year.  At the end of 2017-18, 2,688 subsidy bills worth Rs 19,363 crore were pending for settlement.  At the end of 2018-19, 9,223 subsidy bills worth Rs 30,244 crore were pending.  The Committee noted that scarcity of funds due to an inadequate budget allocation is the major reason for the delay in settlement.  The Committee recommended that the Department of Fertilizers should place before the Ministry of Finance the exact requirement of funds for providing the subsidy, and impress upon the need to make an adequate budget allocation for this purpose.
  • The Committee noted that the government allows the fertilizer manufacturing companies to take loans from banks, against their unpaid subsidy bills, to avert their financial difficulties.  The government bears the cost of interest payable on these loans.  The Committee recommended that to avoid unnecessary expenditure on payment of interest on these loans, a one-time additional budget allocation may be sought from the Ministry of Finance to clear all the pending dues.
  • The Committee noted that very often, the amount held up due to delay in payment of subsidy is fairly high, and in some cases, the delay is unusually long.  As per policy guidelines, the subsidy claims submitted by fertilizer companies are required to be settled within seven working days.  The Committee recommended that the Department of Fertilizers should develop a system by which a certain proportion of the amount of claim (such as 75%) is paid automatically within this period, without any lengthy scrutiny.   The remaining amount should also be paid off in a fixed period of time subject to the submission of all documentation.
  • Expenditure on subsidy:   The Committee observed that over the years, the government’s expenditure on fertilizer subsidy has been increasing.   It noted that while it is necessary to keep providing the subsidy, it is also the government’s responsibility to contain this expenditure by adopting innovative ways without increasing the prices.  The Committee recommended that the government should take all possible steps to reduce its expenditure on subsidy by: (i) modernising fertilizer manufacturing plants, (ii) adopting best practices of manufacturing and strict energy norms, and (iii) building a strong research and development base for continuously upgrading the manufacturing technology, so as to reduce the manufacturing cost.

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.  This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

Parliament functioning in Budget Session 2020

The budget session of Parliament was held from January 31, 2020 to March 23, 2020, with a recess from February 12 to March 1, 2020.  The session was scheduled to have 31 sittings and end on April 3, 2020.  However, considering the public health emergency situation due to the Coronavirus outbreak Parliament adjourned sine die on March 23, 2020 having sat for a total of 23 days. 

Lok Sabha worked for 86% and Rajya Sabha worked for 74% of the scheduled time

 

  • Overall productivity this session was lower than the previous two sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha.  While productivity was high in the first half, in the second half productivity declined due to disruptions in both Houses.  In this session, Lok Sabha sat for 86% of its scheduled time (as per sittings held till March 23, 2020).  In the first half, Lok Sabha functioned for 94% of the scheduled time, and post recess, it functioned for 82% of the scheduled time.
  • Rajya Sabha’s productivity during the entire budget session was at 74%.  In the first half, the Upper House functioned for 94% of the scheduled time.  Post recess, it functioned for 62% of the scheduled time.
     
  • Parliament was interrupted on a few occasions as opposition members raised the issue of lack of law and order in multiple parts of Delhi.  Seven MPs from Lok Sabha were suspended on March 5 for the remaining time period of the session.  This suspension was revoked on March 11.  The issue of law and order in Delhi was later discussed for 4.5 hours each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

Lok Sabha spent 39% of the time discussing budget

  • Lok Sabha spent most of its time (39%) discussing the budget, which is higher than the average of budget sessions in the past 15 years (33%).
     
  • Rajya Sabha spent most of its time (45%) on non-legislative debates, whereas Lok Sabha spent 31% of its time on such debates.  This included the discussion on the President’s address at the beginning of the session. 
  • Lok Sabha spent 15% of its time discussing Bills such as the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020.  This is less than the average time spent by both the Houses on legislative business in the last 15 years.  This could be because the session’s second half, when typically most of the legislative business is carried out, was cut short.
  • In the past 15 years, on average, Rajya Sabha spent 25% of its time on debating Bills.  During this session, Rajya Sabha spent 19% of its time on discussing Bills.

Lok Sabha discussed 17% of the expenditure by ministries for 22 hours

Note: Percentage of demands discussed has been calculated from 2016-17 when the Railway Budget was subsumed in the General Budget.

  • During a budget session, Lok Sabha discusses expenditure of selected ministries after recess.  This session, expenditure of the following Ministries were listed for discussion in Lok Sabha: (i) Railways, (ii) Social Justice and Empowerment, (iii) Tourism, (iv) Health and Family Welfare, (v) External Affairs, and (vi) Housing and Urban Affairs.     Of these, the discussion was held on the expenditure of the Ministries of: (i) Railways, (ii) Social Justice and Empowerment, and (iii) Tourism.  These form 17% of the total expenditure of the central government.  The remaining 83% of expenditure was guillotined (or passed without discussion).  
  • Expenditure of these three Ministries was discussed for 21.9 hours in Lok Sabha.  This is higher than the average of the past 27 years (14.9 hours).
  • Rajya Sabha discusses the working of select Ministries during a Budget Session after the recess.  This session, working of the Ministries of (i) Rural Development, (ii) Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, (iii) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), (iv) Law and Justice, and (v) Railways, were listed for discussion.  Of these, working of the Ministries of Railways, MSME, and Law and Justice were discussed.  

Question hour functioned for 64% of time in Lok Sabha; 43% in Rajya Sabha

  • Question Hour functioned for 64% of its scheduled time in Lok Sabha and, 43% in Rajya Sabha.  
     
  • In Lok Sabha, 24% of the questions were answered orally by Ministers.  In Rajya Sabha, 25% of the questions received an oral answer from a Minister.  On average, in the past 20 years, 15% of the questions in Lok Sabha and 18% of the questions in Rajya Sabha have been answered orally during a session.

This is the longest period in Lok Sabha without a Deputy Speaker

  • Article 93 of the Constitution states that Lok Sabha will choose two members of the House to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker at the earliest possible.
     
  • In the 17th Lok Sabha, the election for the post of Deputy Speaker has not been conducted after 280 days from the commencement of the first session.  
     
  • During the 16th Lok Sabha, this period was 70 days.  Previously, this period was the highest during the 12th Lok Sabha (269 days). 

Note:  Scheduled time has been calculated as per 23 sittings held from January 31, 2020 till March 23, 2020.  

Sources:  Bulletins of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as on March 23, 2020; Statistical Handbook, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 2019; PRS. 

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.   This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

The alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children and society as a whole

Report Summary

  • The Adhoc Committee of the Rajya Sabha constituted to study the alarming issue of pornography on social media and its effect on children and society as a whole (Chair: Mr. Jairam Ramesh) submitted its report on January 25, 2020.  Key recommendations of the Committee include: 
     
  • Definitions:  The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines child pornography as any visual depiction (such as photographs or videos) of sexually explicit conduct involving a child, or appearing to depict a child.  The Committee recommended that the definition of child pornography should be expanded to include written material and audio recordings that advocate for or depict sexual activity with a minor.  It also recommended that the term ‘sexually explicit’ should be defined in the Act. 
     
  • The International Labour Organisation defines ‘grooming’ as the process of building a relationship with a child (online or offline) to facilitate sexual contact with the minor.  The Committee recommended that a similar definition of grooming should be adopted in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.  Further, it should be considered a form of sexual harassment.
     
  • Exceptions for possessing child pornography:  The Committee recommended that minors should not be prosecuted for taking, storing, or exchanging indecent pictures of themselves if the image under certain conditions.
     
  • Further, the Committee recommended two exceptions for adults in possession of child pornography: (i) for the purpose of reporting it to authorities, and (ii) for use in investigations.
     
  • Offences:  The Committee recommended that using a misleading domain name to deceive a minor into viewing obscene material should be considered an offence.  Further, penalties should be included in the Information Technology Act, 2000 for those who give children access to pornography and those who access, produce or transmit child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
     
  • Responsibilities of intermediaries:  The Committee recommended that responsibilities of intermediaries (such as internet service providers and search engines) should be clearly outlined in the Information Technology Act (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.  These responsibilities include: (i) proactively reporting, identifying and removing CSAM, and (ii) reporting identities of persons accessing child porn or CSAM.   The Committee also recommended that a non-negotiable timeframe for reporting and taking down of CSAM should be instituted.  Violations of the timeframe should be punishable. 
     
  • Social Media:  The Committee recommended certain measures that social media sites and apps may take to protect minors and, to regulate and remove CSAM-related content.  These include: (i) age restrictions at the stage of account creation, (ii) banning of users posting child exploitation, and (iii) providing information on illegal content to users in multiple languages.
     
  • Awareness and training:  The Committee recommended that awareness campaigns should be initiated such as; (i) a campaign for parents on early signs of child abuse, and (iii) a nationwide campaign on cyber bullying.  The Committee also recommended training for (i) responders in child abuse investigations, and (ii) media persons reporting on child exploitation. 
     
  • Authorities:  The Committee recommended that an upgraded National Commission on Protection of Child Rights should be designated to deal with issues related to child pornography.  Further, State Commissions on Protection of Child Rights should be constituted in each state.  States may also appoint e-safety commissioners to ensure, (i) implementation of social media guidelines, (ii) flagging of content, and (iii) age verification. 
     
  • International cooperation:  The Committee recommended that India should sign agreements with other countries for sharing information in dark web investigations.  Further, India should employ liaisons in priority countries who can fast-track requests for the take down of online content under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. 
     
  • Research:  The Committee recommended that the National Crime Records Bureau must mandatorily record and report all cases of child pornography.  

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.  This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.

दिल्ली की 7वीं विधानसभा की प्रोफाइल

2020-21 के लिए 15वें वित्त आयोग की रिपोर्ट

Profile of the 7th Delhi Legislative Assembly

Vital Stats

Profile of the 7th Delhi Legislative Assembly

The results of the elections to the 7th Delhi Legislative Assembly were declared yesterday.  There are 70 assembly seats in Delhi.  In this context, we analyse data of the profile of the incoming Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and compare it with the previous Assembly.

62 MLAs are from Aam Aadmi Party; 45 MLAs were re-elected from the same constituency

 

  • In the 7th Delhi Legislative Assembly, 62 MLAs are from Aam Aadmi Party which constitutes 89% of the total assembly seats.
     
  • Eight MLAs are from Bharatiya Janata Party which is 11% of the total assembly seats.
     
  • Of the 70 MLAs who won the 2015 election, 55 contested in this election.  Seven of these MLAs contested from a different political party.     Only one MLA who contested from a different party was re-elected.
     
  • 42 MLAs from AAP and three MLAs from BJP were able to retain their seat.

Sharp reduction in the number of young MLAs

61% of the MLAs have at least a Bachelors degree

Sources: Election Commission of India (results.eci.gov.in); Candidate Affidavits uploaded on ECI; Delhi Assembly Website (http://delhiassembly.nic.in); PRS.

 

DISCLAIMER: This document is being furnished to you for your information.  You may choose to reproduce or redistribute this report for non-commercial purposes in part or in full to any other person with due acknowledgement of PRS Legislative Research (“PRS”).  The opinions expressed herein are entirely those of the author(s).  PRS makes every effort to use reliable and comprehensive information, but PRS does not represent that the contents of the report are accurate or complete.  PRS is an independent, not-for-profit group.   This document has been prepared without regard to the objectives or opinions of those who may receive it.