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Current Affairs - 04 February 2018

General Affairs 

US Air Force chief flies Made-in-India Tejas aircraft in Rajasthan
  • The US Air Force Chief, General David L. Goldfein, flew a sortie in the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas on Saturday at the IAF station in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

    Goldfein, who arrived yesterday, was accompanied by Air Vice Marshal A P Singh as co-pilot during the sortie, defence officials said.

    "General David L Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, is on an official visit to India. He flew a sortie in #MadeinIndia LCA Tejas aircraft at AF Stn Jodhpur today," the IAF said on Twitter

    "His visit was a gesture of mutual cooperation between the Indian and the US air forces, both of which are considered the best in the world," the official said.

    Earlier, General Goldfein had stressed on the "strong relationship" between the two air forces.

    "We look forward to deepening the relationship between our two air forces," he said in his posts on Twitter and Facebook.

    Had many great meetings with our @IAF_MCC partners to deepen the relationship between our two air forces. The IAF operates the second largest C-17 fleet in the world & continues to mature their fleet.

    The US Air Force chief is the first foreign military chief to fly in the indigenous LCA, a single-seat, single-jet engine, multi-role light fighter, which is being pitched as the replacement of the ageing MIG-21 aircraft.

    The first squadron of Tejas was inducted into the IAF in July 2016. In November 2017, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen flew in a Tejas jet.

J-K govt withdraws stone-pelting cases against 9,730 people, recommends amnesty for 4,000
  • Jammu and Kashmir government today approved the withdrawal of stone-pelting cases registered against 9,730 people, including first-time offenders, between 2008 and 2017. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti confirmed the move by the state government.

    The government action to withdraw 1,745 cases is subject to "certain conditions" and is based on recommendations of a committee constituted to look into the matter, Mufti said.

    She said her government has also recommended to give amnesty to more than 4,000 people, who are said to be involved in minor incidents of stone pelting over the past two years.

    In a written reply to a question in the Assembly, Mufti did not disclose the particulars of first-time offenders due to security considerations for them and their families.

    However, she said 3,773 cases were registered in 2016 and 2017, leading to the arrest of 11,290 people, of whom 233 remained untraced.

    Seven cases were not admitted and 1,692 were chargesheeted, while 1,841 cases were under investigation, Mufti, who hold the home department portfolio, said.

    Intense clashes had rocked Kashmir Valley in 2016 following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July that year, resulting in the death of over 85 people.

    The chief minister said while 2,904 cases were registered and 8,570 people were arrested in connection with stone- pelting incidents in 2016, the number of such cases in 2017 dropped to 869 in which 2,720 people were arrested.

    The highest 2,330 people were arrested in Srinagar followed by 2,046 in Baramulla, 1,385 in Pulwama, 1,123 in Kupwara, 1,118 in Anantnag, 783 in Budgam, 714 in Ganderbal, 694 in Shopian, 548 in Bandipora, 547 in Kulgam and two in Doda districts during 2016 and 2017, she said.

    She said 56 government employees and 16 Hurriyat Conference activists were among the 4,949 people found involved in stone-pelting incidents, while 4,074 were not affiliated with any separatist or militant group.

Value India ties but firm on sovereign rights, says Chinese foreign minister
  • China always values the good neighbourliness and friendship with India, but it is also firm on upholding its 'sovereign rights', interests and territorial integrity, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said today.

    Beijing handled the Doklam standoff with 'restraint', showing the 'emphasis' it places on ties with New Delhi, he said.

    Touching on China's relations with major countries and its diplomatic initiatives last year, Yi, in a lengthy article in the Chinese International Studies journal, dwelt about Sino-India ties, stating that Beijing's diplomatic engagement with New Delhi resulted in India withdrawing its troops and equipment from Doklam.

    The journal is published by China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank attached to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

    The 73-day standoff at Doklam over which Bhutan also has counter claims began in June last year when Indian troops objected to Chinese army building a road close to India's Chicken-Neck Corridor, a narrow corridor connecting north- eastern states.

    The standoff ended on August 28 after Chinese troops agreed to stop building the road following which both the sides agreed on the "expeditious disengagement" of personnel at Doklam, according to the External Affairs Ministry.

    Yi said China always values the good neighbourliness and friendship with India as "we are each others big neighbours and ancient civilisations".

    In the meantime, China is also firm in upholding its sovereign rights and interests and territorial integrity, he said.

    "We handled the Indian border troops trespass into Chinas Dong Long (Doklam) area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint. Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel.

    "This demonstrates not only the value and emphasis we put on relations with India but also our sincerity and sense of responsibility in maintaining regional peace and stability," the foreign minister said.

    "We believe as we continue to engage in in-depth strategic communication and promptly dispel strategic misgivings, the strategic value of China-India cooperation will speak for itself and there will be a prospect of the Dragon and Elephant dancing together and 1+1=11 effect as expected by the leaders," Yi said.

    On Chinese diplomacy in general, he said China will continue to break new ground in pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

    "We will take a longer and broader perspective, and be even more open-minded and resourceful in our diplomacy. We will give more consideration to the overall interests of the world and humanity, and work in a proactive manner," he said.

    China will firmly uphold the existing international system with the UN at the core, and protect and expand the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, he said.

    "We will continue to act as a responsible major country to contribute to world peace, promote global development, and uphold the international order," Yi added.

Karnataka BJP organises cow yagna ahead of Modi’s rally, Congress terms it ‘black magic’
  • A head of the PM Modi’s rally in Bengaluru, the BJP Cow protection cell in the state has organised a 24-hour Cow Yagna for welfare of cows. After the yagna was organised, a war of words broke between Congress and BJP regarding.

    Congress MP BK HariPrasad said, “This is not a yagna, BJP is doing black magic. BJP has lost Rajasthan and they know that they cannot win Karnataka, so they are doing this black magic and not yagna. They are making political issues out of such black magic, that’s why we tell people to be alert from such black magic moves of the BJP.”

    After hearing these strong words from Congress, BJP hit back saying Congress supports killing of cows. Karnataka BJP in charge Muralidhar Rao said there was nothing wrong in talking about cows.

    “If we don’t talk about cows in India? Do we then talk in Pakistan or Bangladesh? What is so anti- national in talking about cows,” said Rao.

    The cow yagna had bhajans, havan, and reading of Ramayana for 24 hours.

    The public gave it a mild response with not many attending the event. State BJP leaders didn’t attend the yagna as well. The state BJP leaders were busy with preparations of PM Modi’s rally.

    Both BJP and Congress, in the last one month, have kept the conversation around cow, beef and Hindu religion in the run up to the elections.

NIA accuses separatist leaders of acting on cue from Pakistan, colluding with terror elements in J-K
  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said in its charge-sheet that stone-pelting incidents in Jammu & Kashmir are not a 'law and order' issue, but these incidents are the outcome of the conspiracy hatched by the Hurriyat leaders.

    The 12,794-page charge-sheet says that Hurriyat orchestrated violence in Kashmir valley forcing security forces to use pellet guns.

    The charge-sheet further says that, separatists use the victims as 'trophies' to highlight the cause of secession of Jammu & Kashmir from India. This is used as an instigation to continue the violence.

    The NIA investigation the nexus between the Pakistani agencies, Hurriyat leaders and terror organisations lays threadbare. It is amply substantiated by the chats retrieved from their email accounts, WhatsApp, Facebook profiles and Websites and also from the statements of the protected witnesses.

    How the terror link of Hurriyat leaders was established

    Email chats retrieved from the phone of Altaf Ahmad Shah Fantoosh, son in law of Separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, included e-mail from LeT Spokesperson, extending his support to the strike by Geelani.

    Letter from Hizbul Mujahideen and some currency was seized from Ayaz Akbar Khandey, close aid of Geelani. Hizbul's letter on its letterhead demanded payment of Rs.5 lakh.

    Khandey's WhatsApp chat with seperatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq contained a joint statement of Geelani, Farooq and Malik that appealed eveyone to 'maintain unity' and 'follow freedom struggle with vision and wisdom'
    Two letters written by Hizbul commander were found in the residence of Nayeem Khan, an accused. 21 blanks letterheads of Lashkar-e-Toiba were also seized.

    Link between Asiya Andrabi, a seperatist leader, and terrorist Hafiz Saeed has been established with several videos and statements made by the Lashkar chief.

    Nayeem Khan, one of the accused admitted before camera during India Today's sting operation that he can fuel unrest in the Valley any time if he is funded adequately. The confessions made by Khan on India Today sting has been used as evidence in the terror funding case.

    The Hurriyat leaders were raising funds from the Pakistan in the name of helping youth injured or killed during the action by security forces. The separatist leaders provided socio-economic benefits to the families of active and killed militants. The Hurriyat is also said to have arranged for higher education for kin of so called 'militant martyrs'.

    WHAT DOES NIA'S CHARGE-SHEET SAY?
    Pakistan High Comission is complicit in fuelling unrest in Kashmir. The High Commission organised functions in New Delhi inviting Hurriyat leaders giving them dIrections and funds to fuel unrest in Kashmir.

    Hurriyat leaders received funds from Pakistan through conduits and Pakistan High Commission directly. The claim is backed by incriminating documents seized from Ghulam Mohammed Bhatt, a close aid of bussinessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah 'Watali'. Watali dealt in cross LOC trade.

    The accused in chargesheet said that seperatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik receive funds from Pakistan. The accused admitted pivotal role of Pakistan High Commission in carrying instructions from Pakistan.

    Hurriyat leaders attend the funeral of killed militants, eulogise them as 'martyrs', hail their anti-India activities and deliver anti-India speeches and motivate youth to join militancy.

    Tehreek-e-Hurriyat led the processions and participated in stone pelting. Investigation established that district Presidents of the organisation collected Rs.5 to 10 lakhs per district.

    Nayeem Khan also stated that the accused Hafiz Mohammed Saeed has supported Geelani by paying him at least 10-12 crores during anti-India agitation after killing of HM Commander Burhan Wani.

    The investigation has revealed that the senior-most officials of the High Commission of Pakistan were in regular contact with the Hurriyat leaders

    The NIA on January 19 had filed a 12,794-page charge sheet against 12 people including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief Syed Salahuddin and top rung separatist leaders.

    The charge sheet says that link between the Hurriyar and terror elements is established and that they are a 'gang of conspirators' waging a war against the Government of India.

    Though Geelani, Yasin Malik, Umar Farooq, Asiya Andrabi, Shabbir Shah and few other Hurriyat leaders are not named as accused in the charge sheet, but it does mention that these leaders are the main organizers of the conspiracy to wage war against India.

Business Affairs

Union Bank of India posts Rs 1250cr loss in Q3 FY17 due to higher NPA provisions
  • Front-loading of provisions for the NCLT accounts led state-run Union Bank of India today report a net loss of Rs 1,250 crore in the December quarter as against a net profit of Rs 104 crore a year ago. In the September quarter also, the city-based lender had reported a massive Rs 1,531 crore losses.

    The bank's bad loan provisions for the quarter jumped to Rs 2,521 crore form Rs 1,582 crore a year ago as its gross non-performing assets rose to 13.03 per cent from 11.70 per cent, and net NPAs inched up to 6.96 per cent from 6.95. Another reason for the higher losses is the additional provisions worth Rs 1,400 crore.

    "Losses include investment depreciation of Rs 700 crore (treasury losses) and provision of Rs 991 crore for the second list of the accounts referred to the NCLT. Even though we had an opportunity to spread the provisions for accounts in the second RBI list for the two quarters, we took an upfront provisioning during this quarter," managing director and chief executive Rajkiran Rai told reporters here today.

    The bank has exposure in 18 of the 28 large stressed accounts mentioned in the second RBI list, which totals around Rs 1.5 trillion in bad assets for the system. During the quarter the bank's treasury income dropped significantly to Rs 155 crore due to the recent surge in bond yields. It had booked a treasury gain of Rs 822 crore in the year-ago period.

    "On an average, we used to earn Rs 500-600 crore from treasury and this quarter it's almost nil. We're not factoring in a very huge benefit from treasury income in the fourth quarter either," he added.

    On a positive note, its domestic net interest margin improved to 2.34 per cent from 2.04 in the year-ago period.

    The fresh slippages increased to Rs 4,187 crore from Rs 3,294 crore due to one account -- Reliance Communication -- which was under strategies debt restructuring but turned NPA towards the end of the reporting quarter.

    The bank also reported divergences in NPAs and provisions of Rs 1,400 crore during the quarter. "We had a total divergence of Rs 2,800 crore for March 2017. Of that, 50 per cent was taken in June and September quarters and the rest Rs 1,400 crore was set aside in Q3," he said.

    Its recovery and upgrades stood at around Rs 700 crore and it expects Rs 1,000 crore more recoveries both from written-off accounts and other NPAs during the March quarter.

    The bank sold one account of Rs 7 crore to asset reconstruction companies in the quarter and put on sale Rs 8,000 crore of NPAs in the fourth quarter. In January, the bank sold its entire 10 per cent stake in Experian Credit Information Company for Rs 82 crore. It is also looking to raise Rs 300 crore from sale of non-crore assets in the current quarter.

    The bank has raised Rs 2,000 crore through qualified institutional placement and will be receiving Rs 4,540 crore infusion from recapitalisation plan announced by government. Domestic business grew 7.5 per cent to Rs 6,72,091 crore, while deposits grew by 4.9 per cent.

Suresh Prabhu kicks-off industry consultation on new industrial policy
  • Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has kickstarted industry consultation on the proposed new industrial policy. The first stakeholder consultation meeting took place at Guwahati, industry body Ficci said in a statement.

    The event, organised by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in partnership with Ficci, was attended by more than 120 industrialists from the northeast in addition to government officials. In his speech, Prabhu highlighted the importance of this exercise being done after 25 years. The new policy will revamp the Industrial Policy of 1991.

    "He (Prabhu) highlighted that this is the first time a policy is being designed that truly listens to and objectively equips Indian industry for the future. The prior attempts in 1956 and 1991 were driven by ideology or formulated at a time of financial crisis," the statement said.

    The minister stressed the focus of the government to make business easier for industry. In this regard, he highlighted multiple initiatives of the government to reduce the burden of regulations for the industry. He also talked about the importance of centre-state co-operation and the need for change even at the district-level, the statement added.

    The meeting was also attended by Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary. The new industrial policy envisions to create a competitive Indian industry that is equipped with skill, scale and technology.

    DIPP in August last year floated a draft industrial policy with the aim to create jobs for the next two decades, promote foreign technology transfer and attract USD 100 billion FDI annually. The department is formulating an outcome-oriented policy that provides direction, and charts a course of action for a globally competitive Indian industry that leverages skill, scale and technology. Among other things, the policy would endeavour to reduce regulations. The next meeting is likely to be held on February 9 in Delhi.

Sebi fines two Nova Petrochemicals officials Rs 10 lakh for fraud
  • Markets regulator Sebi today imposed a total penalty of Rs 10 lakh on two senior officials of erstwhile Nova Petrochemicals Ltd (NPL) in a matter related to fraudulent trading in the shares of the firm.

    The officials are NPL's Chairman Vedprakash Chiripal and Managing Director Shyam Gupta, as per a Sebi order.

    The order comes following an investigation by Sebi in the shares of NPL for the period between November 28, 2005 to March 31, 2006.

    On February 20, 2006, NPL had made a corporate announcement that the meeting of the company's board of directors would be held on March 4, 2006 to consider expansion plan of its poly condensation and power plant.

    NPL had also shown profit for the quarters ending September, December 2005 and March 2006. But the company had suffered "a huge loss" for the financial year ending March 31, 2006.

    In its order, Sebi noted that there was substantial discrepancy in the earning per share as shown in the quarterly results and audited financial results of NPL for the year ending March 31, 2006.

    The regulator said Chiripal and Gupta "made the misleading announcements pertaining to expansion plan and unaudited results showing profits which impacted the price of the scrip of the company (NFL)".

    It also said the facts of the present case clearly bring out the ominous role played by the two senior officials in indulging in an element of fraud, unfair trade practices and manipulation.

    According to Sebi, the misleading announcements and unaudited results were price sensitive information (PSI) and 25 PACs (persons acting in concert), who were the family members and group companies of the officials, sold over 10.15 lakh shares of the firm when the information was not published.

    Noting that the two senior officials communicated the unpublished PSI and had active role in the sale transactions of 25 PACs, thereby, violating PIT (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations.

    For the violations, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on the two officials.

    In a separate order, Sebi imposed a total penalty of Rs 17 lakh on eight former and current promoters of P M Telelinks for violating insider trading norms.

    The regulator has also slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Master Capital Services -- formerly known as MTL Share & Stock Brokers -- for violating norms in the matter of Riba Textiles and Winsome Textile Industries.

JSW Steel-Piramal to bid for Bhushan Steel, JFE Steel opts out
  • JSW Steel and Piramal Enterprises are bidding jointly for Bhushan Steel after Japanese company JFE Steel Corp walked out of the alliance, a source in the know of the matter said.

    JSW Steel had roped in its Japanese business partner JFE Steel and Piramal Enterprises to bid jointly for Bhushan Steel, the maker of auto-grade steel in India undergoing insolvency proceedings for non-payment of dues.

    "JFE has walked out. JSW Steel and Piramal Enterprises will now bid for Bhushan Steel," the source said requesting anonymity.

    The bid for Bhushan Steel closes today.

    E-mail queries sent to JSW Steel and other two companies to seek response remained unanswered.

    Besides JSW Steel, Luxembourg-based multinational steel firm ArcelorMittal and domestic industry major Tata Steel and are said to be in race for Bhushan Steel.

    Asked if JSW Steel could lower its bid as Japanese partner has opted out now, the source said, "JSW is in expansion mode, no matter one partner has gone, JSW can even increase the bid along with Piramal. It will be a 50:50 partnership now".

    JSW Steel reportedly had plans to offer Rs 30,000 crore, double of the liquidation amount, for Bhushan Steel.

    Liquidation value is the minimum value set for a stressed asset by the committee of creditors.

    According to Bhushan Steel's website, the company is the third largest secondary steel producer in the country with an existing steel production capacity of 5.6 million ton per annum.

    JSW Steel is in expansion mode and is also evaluating various opportunities for acquisitions to achieve the target of becoming 40 mt by 2030.

Reliance Industries to invest Rs 2,500 crore in Assam, create 80,000 jobs, says Mukesh Ambani
  • Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani today announced an investment of Rs 2,500 crore in Assam in various sectors, including retail, petroleum, telecom, tourism and sports, creating jobs for at least 80,000 people over the next three years.

    "Today I am happy to announce five commitments for Assam over the next three years. Reliance will invest an additional Rs 2,500 crore to augment its presence in this market," he said at the inaugural function of the Global Investors Summit 2018 here. Under this programme, the company will enhance its retail division's outlet to 40 from existing two, while the number of petrol depots will be increased to 165 from the existing 27," Ambani said.

    "We are also going to open new offices in all 145 tehsil headquarters across Assam. Our approach has always been to create sustainable livelihood opportunities and have generated 20,000 jobs in Assam," he added.

    Assam has always been a low priority market for other telecom operators, but it is a 'Category A' market for Reliance, he added.

    "We now target to increase the sustainable livelihood opportunities by five-fold to 1,00,000 jobs," Ambani said.

    In the tourism sector, the company's CSR wing Reliance Foundation will partner with Assam government to set up a centre at an university to promote "wildlife protection and eco-tourism", he added.

    "In football, ISL is a huge success in Assam. We have decided to establish a top class football academy in partnership with Government of Assam to produce global players from the state," Ambani said.

    Reliance Industries has become the largest private sector investor in Assam by putting in Rs 5,000 crore over the last few years, he said.

    The company's telecom arm 'Jio' has over 30 lakh users at present and aims to increase it manifold in the coming months, he added.

    Complimenting Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for organising the 'Advantage Assam - Global Investors Summit 2018', Ambani said: "Assam's development potential is limitless. In 50's, the state was a developed one with its per capital income more than the national average."

    The Global Investors Summit is happening at an appropriate time with the country also "rising under the leadership of a very popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi", whose thrust on 'ease of living' is touching many other countries, he added.

    Ambani also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his government "presenting one of the best budgets in recent times" by focusing on all segments of the society, including the farmers.

General Awareness

Insights into Editorial: Should India have simultaneous elections?
  • Context:

    Free and fair elections are held for the continuity of good governance in democracy like India.

    A debate which has periodically taken place in this country is about holding simultaneous elections to the state legislative assemblies and the Lok Sabha. Prime Minister said to have time and again supported this idea. PM went a step ahead from what others in the past. While many of the senior members of the Government suggested simultaneous elections to both State legislature and Lok Sabha, Prime Minister wanted to include even the Urban Local bodies and panchayats.

    Meanwhile the reason behind the issue getting traction again is the report by the Standing committee of parliament which had made this suggestion. However political parties are divided on this move.

    As it is an issue of national importance we need to discuss political, practical and constitutional questions relating to the enforcing a uniform election in the country.

    Background:

    Our country’s first general elections were held in 1951-52. There was a simultaneous General Election to Lok Sabha and all State Legislative Assemblies. This trend had continued in three subsequent General Elections held in 1957, 1962 and 1967. But in 1968 and 1969, the cycle got disrupted due to the premature dissolution of some Legislative Assemblies. Similarly in the year 1970, it was the turn of Lok Sabha that it itself got dissolved prematurely. As a result of premature dissolution and extension of the terms of Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the cycle of simultaneous elections got disturbed.

    What are the arguments in favour of conducting simultaneous elections?

    The suggestion for holding simultaneous elections was made time and again as supporters argue that it would ensure consistency, continuity and efficiency in the governance.

    Enforcing a Model code of Conduct during elections time would impact implantation of development programmes.  

    Election expenditure is rising steadily in India. Elections have unfortunately become the root cause of corruption and black money. Supporters who argue for the simultaneous elections say that it would curb corruption and build more conducive socio-economic system.

    The process of conducting elections on such a large scale is tiresome. Entire district administration gets busy and few ministries will become standstill. There are various stakeholders involved in holding elections like security personnel, government teachers etc. So, on the administration front, frequent elections pose a huge burden on resources — both manpower and financial. The opportunity cost of these lost resources is too high to ignore as India is a resource-constrained developing economy. 

    Other argument is disruption of public life with political rallies and noise pollution and the sharpening of caste, religious and communal divide by dishonest politicians looking to garner votes would increase due to recurring polls.

    Till 1967 first four general elections held simultaneously across the country. Now is it possible to bring back the same process?

    Constitution says that the life of the Parliament shall be Five years unless it is dissolved prematurely for other reasons. Same provision is applicable to Assemblies as well. Holding simultaneous polls might be desirable from many points of view but it may not be possible to getting it back in reality.

    The simultaneous elections to Parliament and State legislatures till 1967 were less by design and more due to dominant party system. When that neatness was lost in the 1960s and later in the 1990s, it owed much to the dismantling of the dominant party system. The election cycle became remained same for last few decades due to coalition politics, active role played by state parties and greater power sharing among parties.

    If we enforce the system of simultaneous elections, we would need to curtail the legislature’s power to unseat a government.  An assembly is elected for a period of five years. It can be dissolved only when the government in that state cannot carry on, as per the provisions of the constitution. A no-confidence motion must be passed by the House, and with no alternative government being confirmed. So, the impact on the fundamental instrument of the no-confidence motion is an important question that needs to be answered.

    Other question is that in the event of state government’s premature break down, will these states be under the president’s rule till the next elections? Even if the President carries on the government for the remainder of the period, it means that the States would be penalised for not producing a majority government.

    There is another practical difficulty. Suppose simultaneous elections are held but the government loses its majority in the Lok Sabha, what will happen to those 29 States governments, even if they have an absolute majority?

    What are the recommendations of standing committee?

    The Committee noted that the holding of simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies would reduce: (i) the massive expenditure that is currently incurred for the conduct of separate elections; (ii) the policy paralysis that results from the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct during election time; and (iii) impact on delivery of essential services and (iv) burden on crucial manpower that is deployed during election time.

    Holding of elections in two phases: The Committee recommended that elections could be held in two phases. It stated that elections to some Legislative Assemblies could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha. Elections to the remaining legislative assemblies could be held with the end of Lok Sabha’s term.

    The elections of legislative assemblies whose term ends six months after the general elections to Lok Sabha can be clubbed together. However, the results of such elections can be declared at the end of the assembly’s tenure.

    Holding simultaneous elections is certainly not feasible

    Holding simultaneous elections goes against the spirit of the Constitution and against the spirit of federalism.

    National and local issues are different, and holding simultaneous elections is likely to distort the judgment of the people. There is apprehension that whenever there is a majoritarian government at the Centre, any anti-incumbency in the States is likely to get neutralised if simultaneous elections are held. 

    Implementing simultaneous polls would require a substantial shift from the status quo and would involve amendments to the Constitution and election-related laws. 

    Decisions taken at the local level are driven by local level considerations. Holding simultaneous elections even for local bodies along with Lok Sabha elections is problematic for the simple reason that every election has its own dynamics and its own issues.  

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