From lynchings to child rape, key issues in government focus this month
In the monthly government dashboard, HT reporters examine key developments across central government ministries through July and what lies ahead.Updated: Jul 31, 2018 11:42 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The government had a packed July with Parliament in session and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Africa visit. It had to negotiate turbulent ties between Washington and Moscow and had to ensure a strong domestic policy agenda ahead of key state and national elections. In the monthly government dashboard, HT reporters examine key developments across central government ministries through July and what lies ahead.
SIGNIFICANCE: The cooperative element in the India-China relationship remains strong. The two sides have followed up on the terms of their renewed engagement since meeting in Wuhan in April. The two sides had resolved to step up strategic communication between the armies, increase economic ties
WATCH OUT: The next round of boundary talks, scheduled to be held later this year, will take place after Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to India.
SIGNIFICANCE: The move comes after New Delhi conveyed to Washington its inability to sever defence ties with Russia as India is heavily dependent on Russian weaponry. India has brushed aside US concerns about the deal to buy Russian-made S-400 advanced air defence missile systems. It has said the ~39,000-crore deal was in its final stage.
WATCH OUT: India and Russia are likely to finalise the S-400 missile systems deal in October when Modi and President Vlamidir Putin meet in New Delhi.
SIGNIFICANCE: The government faced criticism over the move to declare Jio Institute as an IoE as it is yet to come up. The government insisted the institute was given the status as a greenfield project. Later, it said it was not awarded the status, but only granted a letter of intent subject to fulfilment of certain criteria.
WATCH OUT: The government is likely to approve the Higher Education Council of India Bill to repeal the UGC Act, to focus on separation of the grant- related functions.
SIGNIFICANCE: The Opposition has been targeting the Centre over the issue as fringe Hindu extremist elements have allegedly been involved in cow vigilantism. The fresh lynching in BJP-ruled Rajasthan triggered outrage following allegations of police inaction and delay in taking Khan to a hospital.
WATCH OUT: The panel has been told to make recommendations within four weeks on how to deal with lynchings. A group of ministers will review them and submit a report to Modi.
SIGNIFICANCE: India has 1.3 billion registered Aadhaar cards and the country has the second-largest internet user base. The government set up the committee amid mounting concerns over security and safety of Aadhaar biometrics and demographic data. When enacted, the proposed legislation will be India’s first ever data privacy law.
WATCH OUT: Prasad said the bill will now go through consultations and be debated in Parliament and possibly referred to Parliamentary standing committee.
SIGNIFICANCE: It will be a single-point verification wherein passengers can enrol for DigiYatra program through AirSewa app. A DigiYatra verified passenger can get hassle-free entry at airports through E-Gates. At entry gates, a single token for the passenger will be created.
WATCH OUT: Through public suggestions, the ministry is likely to start the programme by January 2019. Stamping on boarding cards will be removed.
SIGNIFICANCE: The move has sparked a debate. Some believe heinous crimes such as rape warrant extreme punishments, which will also act as a deterrent. Others have argued for an overhaul of justice mechanisms as well as social mindsets apart from punitive measures.
WATCH OUT: The cabinet is likely to clear a proposal to make all child marriages invalid. The current law recognises them as valid but ‘voidable’. But rarely do under-aged brides complain.
SIGNIFICANCE: Many experts believe that rationalising rates would spur consumption and thus help the economy. This also means the government is confident of tax buoyancy. This round of rate cuts leaves only 35 items in 28% tax bracket.
WATCH OUT: This raises hopes of another round of rate cuts once GST collections stabilise further, and the new tax reductions settle in, shrinking items in the highest tax slab.
SIGNIFICANCE: The project stoked a controversy with some online media outlets expressing concern that the regulation would impinge on their freedom of expression. The government had insisted for a need to delineate the sphere of online information dissemination. It said the outlets needed to be regulated on the lines of the print and electronic media.
WATCH OUT: The MeitY panel will look into concerns over lack of regulation of online content. Experts on security and ministries will do the brainstorming on it.
SIGNIFICANCE: Two words: air pollution. Pet coke is a bottom-of the barrel fuel, which releases more carbon and sulphur emissions than coal. Activists allege the dirty fuel is used because it is cheaper than coal. It was also being dumped in India from abroad, notably the US.
WATCH OUT: The ministry is finalising its national clean air programme. The document will reveal how serious the government is about keeping air clean.
First Published: Jul 31, 2018 10:53 IST