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Current Affairs - 24 February 2018

General Affairs 

EC announces biennial elections for 58 Rajya Sabha seats, polling to be held on March 23
  • The Election Commission (EC) today said that it will hold biennial elections to Rajya Sabha on March 23. The election will be held to fill seats of members retiring in April-May 2018. The counting will also be held on March 23.

    The term of office of 58 members of Rajya Sabha elected from 16 states due to expire on their retirement.

    The maximum number of seats is in Uttar Pradesh where the State Assembly will elect 10 Rajya Sabha members.

    Both Maharashtra and Bihar will have 6 members each, while Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka will have polls for five members each. Karnataka will have polls for four seats.

    The notification will be issued on March 5, while the last date of notification will be March 12.

    Meanwhile, a by-election will be held to fill a seat in Chengannur, Kerala that was left vacant after the demise of sitting CPI-M legislator KK Ramachandran Nair.

RSS in rural India will be key to Narendra Modi's victory in 2019, says Mohan Bhagwat
  • At the inaugural session of RSS' two-day 'Samrasta Sangam', chief Mohan Bhagwat said that no matter what the political scenario in the country may be, the RSS will continue to focus on inducting more and more volunteers from rural India into the organisation.

    Issuing an appeal to all volunteers to go into the villages and add young blood to the ranks of the RSS, Bhagwat said that the volunteers should make sure that they wear the Sangh uniform during the meetings.

    Bhagwat also said that eight registration centres have been established in this district of 45 lakh people, where RSS functionaries are preparing uniforms for the volunteers.

    A senior functionary of the Sangh said that the speed at which the Sangh is spreading in the cities is much higher than the speed with which it is spreading in the villages.

    It is the Sangh's effort to bring in more and more rural youth into the organisation that, despite all the modernization, the Indian spirit still lives in the villages. The Modi government's focus is on agriculture and the RSS is also focusing on the rural areas, to ensure that by 2019, every polling booth in the villages is supported by a team of RSS volunteers, thereby helping increase the vote percentage in favour of the BJP.

    During the first day, Bhagwat had a meeting with the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath behind closed doors. It is being speculated that the current scenario of Uttar Pradesh and the country and the growing unrest among the people against the BJP were discussed during the meeting. This is the second secret meeting of Yogi Adityanath with Mohan Bhagwat in the Agra division in the past year since he assumed power in UP.

    Social activist and Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad Chairman Sami Aghai said that the RSS has always said that it is not involved in politics, yet it is a well known fact that the Sangh is the driving force behind the BJP.

    BJP stands to gain a lot if the RSS is able to strengthen its foothold in the villages. This is an alarming scenario as the brand of nationalism that the RSS and BJP are preaching is taking India towards fascism, added Aghai.

    Aghai expressed hope that the people will realize their folly in choosing Modi as the PM and will vote him out in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, otherwise in the coming five-year term, Modi will not be averse from going to extreme measures to ensure that the country cannot escape from BJP's clutches for the coming decades.

Lokpal selection panel chaired by PM Modi to meet on March 1: Centre to SC
  • The Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that a meeting of the Selection Committee is scheduled to take place on March 1 to deliberate on the steps to be taken for the appointment of a Lokpal.

    The committee would comprise of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party and an eminent jurist, according to the Attorney General.

     The jurist would be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Selection Committee, with the Prime Minister as its Chairman.

     Venugopal said this to the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R. Banumathi, which asked the Secretary - Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), to file an affidavit indicating the steps taken for the appointment of a Lokpal.

     Asking the DoPT Secretary to file the affidavit by March 5, the court fixed March 6 as the next date of hearing in the petition by NGO Common Cause.

     The Attorney General informed the court about the scheduled meeting of the committee in the course of the hearing of a contempt plea filed by the NGO.

     The NGO had moved the contempt plea after the government did not act on the April 27, 2017 judgment of the top court, holding that the "Act, as it stands today, is an eminently workable piece of legislation and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension till the amendments, as proposed, are carried out".

     The court's observation came while addressing a question whether the Lokpal law, as it exists today, is so "unworkable" that it (court) should refuse its enforcement, notwithstanding that the Lokpal Act had come into force by a January 16, 2014, notification.

    HURDLES FLAGGED BY CENTRE

    The Centre had flagged two hurdles in implementing the Lokpal law, saying that it provides that the selection panel should have the Leader of Opposition (LOP) as one of its members, but there is no recognised Leader of Opposition in the current 16th Lok Sabha.

     The other hurdle it cited relates to the tenure of the eminent jurist to be appointed by the Selection Committee.

     Referring to the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and the amendments the government wanted to bring, the judgment had said that Sub-Section (2) of Section 4 of the Lokpal Act says that the appointment of the Chairperson or a Member of the Lokpal will not become invalid merely because of the reason of any vacancy in the Selection Committee.

    WAY FORWARD

    Extending this to the appointment of an eminent jurist by the selection panel, the court said: "If, at present, the LOP is not available, surely, the Chairperson and the other two Members of the Selection Committee, namely, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee may proceed to appoint an eminent jurist as a Member of the Selection Committee under Section 4(1)(e) of the Act."

     Speaking for the bench, Justice Gogoi said: "We also do not see any legal disability in a truncated Selection Committee to constitute a Search Committee for preparing a panel of persons for consideration for appointment as the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal" and recommending the same to the President for appointment.

Justin Trudeau gets a PM Modi hug and ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally received Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in New Delhi today. Trudeau arrived in India last week along with his family and has spent the last few days visiting Agra, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Mumbai.

    Today, PM Trudeau was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where he inspected a guard of honour and met Indian officials.

    Soon after the Rashtrapati Bhavan welcome, PM Trudeau and his family visited Rajghat to pay respects at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.

    Trudeau is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with PM Narendra Modi later in the day.

    The Canadian premier's perceived closeness to pro-Khalistani elements in Canada has continued to haunt his Indian visit.

    Trudeau's visit was further engulfed in controversy yesterday after photos surfaced of his wife Sophie standing alongside Jaspat Atwal, a former Khalistani terrorist convicted of attempting to murder an Indian politician in 1986 in Canada.

    Trudeau's India tour began mired in a rather frosty welcome accorded to him, with both Indian and Canadian media noting how Modi has been far from ebullient in his reaction to Trudeau's visit.

    ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRUDEAU VISIT IN 10 POINTS:
    1.Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was given a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the national capital today.

    2.With the visit already shrouded with his amity with pro-Khalistan groups in Canada, visiting PM Justin Trudeau's Indian tour plunged into a major controversy on Thursday, when a convicted Khalistani terrorist was invited to a reception hosted for him at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.

    3.Fire fighting the row timely, the invite to Jaspal Atwal (a former Khalistani terrorist), who was convicted in Canada for an attempt to assassinate a Punjab minister in 1986, was rescinded by the High Commission.

    4.The same day, Justin Trudeau addressed the media on the sidelines of a business event and said that the matter was being taken "extremely seriously" and that Atwal should never have received an invitation.

    5.Jaspal Atwal's presence at the Mumbai event and a subsequent dinner invite at the Canadian High Commission also raised questions on how a Khalistani terrorist was granted an Indian visa to begin with.

    6.With his first official visit to India yielding bilateral investments worth over $1 billion, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday cheered, "This two-way investment will create 6,000 high-quality jobs in Canada and many more jobs here [India], as well."

    7.Addressing the India Canada Business Session in New Delhi, the Canadian PM noted that agriculture and food processing are major areas for Indo-Canadian ties and that bilateral cooperation is underway in creating a cold chain infrastructure in India and setting up mega food parks in the country could be the next area.

    8.Setting aside India's apprehensions with his apparent closeness with Khalistan sympathisers, Justin Trudeau at a Mumbai event, earlier in the week assured that Canada supports a united India.

    9.After his meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday was quoted as saying that Trudeau assured him that concerns about Khalistan sentiments would be looked into.

    10.The Trudeaus have so far visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Golden Temple in Amritsar and Jama Masjid in New Delhi on Thursday, as part of their last leg of the tour.

Mumbai: 70 years after independence, electricity reaches Elephanta Island
  • Electricity connection was made accessible to Elephanta Island (about 10 km from Mumbai), after 70 years of Independence, a 7.5 km long undersea cable brought electricity to three villages Raj Bander, Mora Bander & Shet Bander, ANI reported.

    Elephanta Island that was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1987, finally got power supply on February 22.

    Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis had arrived to inaugurate the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) power supply in Elephanta Island.

    More than 1 million tourists visit Elephanta Islands each year. The Island is known for it's awe-inspiring beauty.

    However, the inhabitants of the area have a completely different story to share. The island has a very poor infrastructure. The locals are deprived of basic medical facilities, clean drinking water, and power supply.

    The monsoons are said to multiply the problems of the inhabitants of the Island manifold. All the activities are put on hold due to heavy rainfall and the tourist flow witnesses a complete dip.

    The residents did not have electricity ever since their power lines were torn down after 1947.

    According to reports, funds were allocated by the former Chief Minister Sharad Pawar for the project but nothing was executed.

    The electricity, which came as a sigh of relief to the inhabitants was celebrated by the locals who were in a festive mood after the inauguration.

    The 7.5 km undersea cables will now supply power 24x7 to the Island.

    For almost thirty years, the Island received power through generators.

    MSEDCL began working on the project in 2015 and it is said that the undersea cables which were laid with the help of technology can withstand underwater pressure.

    The locals had been complaining since a long time since the insufficient power supply directly effected their livelihood.

    The cable project, which cost the state Rs 18.5 crore, came as a major relief to three villages Rajbundar, Morabundar and Shetbundar.

    Elephanta Islands receives electricity after 70 years.
    The new transformers were inaugurated by social activist Dr Appasaheb Dharmadhikari in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule on Thursday.

Business Affairs

PNB comes clean on Virat Kohli ending endorsement, roping in PwC to probe Rs 11,400 crore scam
  • Punjab National Bank (PNB) trashed reports of Virat Kohli stepping down as the bank's brand ambassador. The public sector bank clarified that the Indian cricket team captain is not going to end his advertisement contract with the bank in wake of the Rs 11,400 scam by diamond businessman Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.

    "Mr Virat Kohli is our brand ambassador," the bank said, denying media reports that he is going to discontinue his endorsement with the bank. "The same is again totally false and incorrect," it added.

    PNB also denied reports that it has roped in audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to investigate the alleged fraud by Modi and gather evidence against him and his associates. The media report is "totally incorrect", it said.

    The bank has also issued a statement saying that it has not imposed any withdrawal limits on its customers and normal banking activities are going on. Reports of PNB putting into effect a withdrawal limit of Rs 3,000 per customer were doing the rounds of social media.

    "It is absolutely incorrect; no such limit has been fixed by the bank and normal banking activities are going as usual. No restrictions on the withdrawals have been imposed by the bank," PNB clarified.

    On reports that the Reserve Bank and the government have asked the bank to pay the defrauded amount to other banks, it said, "The report is totally incorrect and the bank confirms not having received any such instructions."

    PNB also denied the report stating that around 18,000 transfers done by the bank recently. Only 1,415 transfers of its employees have been carried out as per its extant transfer policy, the bank said.

    "The work in the branches is going on smoothly and the above transfers are in no way affecting the customer service in the Bank," PNB added.

    PNB reassured that it has the capacity and capability to handle the situation and protect the interest of the institution, customers and stakeholders. It also reaffirmed that the bank is committed to honour all bonafide commitments.

    "Bank has already initiated prompt steps for protecting the financial interest of all the lenders/stakeholders including issuance of advisory to lenders involved and to act swiftly to recover the dues," PNB said.

    It further added, "In pursuant of Clean and Responsible Banking agenda of the government, bank has taken proactive steps to bring the culprits to the books and has initiated strong action against the entities and the staff involved."

    Meanwhile, CII has stressed to bring down government holding in banks to 52 per cent and then gradually to 33 per cent to increase wider private participation. The industry body condemned the malfeasance by 'unethical enterprises'.

    "The current episode of financial fraud shows gaps in supervision and monitoring systems at the bank level which have the potential to become disruptive for the industry and the financial sector both. CII condemns such malfeasance by unethical enterprises, which are allegedly perpetrated in consort with certain corrupt employees of the affected banks," Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said in a statement.

    The industry body has suggested enhancing supervision and monitoring at all levels, infusion of professionalism in bank's management and dilution of government stake in public sector banks (PSBs) to bring them down to 52 per cent in the first phase and then further reduce to 33 per cent.

    "CII strongly feels that the current episode of malfeasance calls for focus and facilitation by the regulator to improve monitoring and supervision at the bank level. On its part, CII will continue to work on corporate governance at the enterprise level to inculcate ethics and values as part of DNA of business practices," Banerjee said.

    Government should consider lowering its stake in Public Sector Banks and increasing the equity spread through wider private participation. This should be accompanied by consolidation of PSBs to result in fewer but stronger institutions of global scale, CII said.

    Last week, Punjab National Bank stirred up a storm when it disclosed a Rs 11,400 crore scam happening in connivance with a few bank officials since 2011 in a stock exchange filing. Some PNB officials allegedly had issued issue fraudulent letters of undertakings (LoUs) to diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his associates for loans from foreign branches of other banks.

    PNB has already filed an FIR in this regard and multi-probe agencies are investigating the matter including the Enforcement Directorate and CBI. As of now, Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the prime accused in the fraud are absconding, along with other accomplices.

PM Narendra Modi calls Canada an 'energy superpower', discusses counter-terrorism with Justin Trudeau
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau in Delhi where the two leaders discussed matters ranging from counter terrorism to clean energy and bilateral trade. On the sidelines of the Modi-Trudeau meeting, six memorandums of understandings were signed between various government departments of Canada and India on matters like information technology, energy cooperation and more.

    With the Khalistan issue clouding Trudeau's first state visit to India, the topic of terrorism featured prominently in the talks between him and PM Modi. "We discussed the entire gamut of bilateral partnership, and identified concrete steps to boost cooperation. We agreed to strengthen our defence cooperation," Modi said, while noting that terrorism and violent extremism were threats for democratic countries such as India and Canada.

    In his statement after the meeting concluded, Modi stated that those challenging India's sovereignty, unit and integrity will not be tolerated. This is being seen as a veiled jibe at the soft approach of Canadian government towards Khalistani operations.

    Energy cooperation

    PM Modi said that Canada is an energy super power and can help India with growing energy needs. Both countries decided to prepare the roadmap for energy cooperation between them. The Indian PM also congratulated Canada for undeterred uranium exports which supplemented civil nuclear power usage and both leaders consented to expand the ongoing mutually-beneficial civil nuclear cooperation by developing collaboration in nuclear science and technology.

    India and Canada agreed to strengthen bilateral and international cooperation to address climate change, implementing the Paris Agreement, and ensure a future with clean energy. The leaders agreed to expand the scope of the Canada-India Ministerial Energy Dialogue to additionally include electricity, energy efficiency and renewables, and agreed to hold the fourth meeting of the Ministerial Energy Dialogue in Canada in 2018.

    Counter terrorism

    India and Canada agreed on Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which will facilitate effective cooperation between the law enforcement and security agencies as well as the legal and policy practitioners of the two countries for curbing terrorist activities. The Framework is meant to expand security cooperation through institutionalization of NSA-level Dialogue and regular convening of Foreign Minister-level Strategic Dialogue.

    The Framework consists of institutionalized cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of the Republic of India and the office of Canada's National Security and Intelligence Advisor, a government statement said.

    The National Security Advisor of India and the National Security and Intelligence Advisor of Canada acknowledged their partnership and commitment to strengthen cooperation in counter-terrorism capacity-building and to contribute to international efforts through the UN mechanisms and initiatives as well as groupings such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum, the Financial Action Task Force, and the G-20.

    Indo-Canada trade ties

    To continue strengthening the government-to-government framework for cooperative economic engagements, the prime ministers welcomed the conclusion of, and progress on, cooperation agreements/MoUs in areas such as civil nuclear science and technology, education, audio-visual co-production, information technology, intellectual property and sports, the statement said.

    To realize the full potential of bilateral trade and investment, both sides will renew efforts to expand and diversify bilateral economic and commercial relations. They will also intensify negotiations to finalize a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and a Bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, it further added.

Reliance Jio lashes out at large telcos, COAI over 'defamatory' remarks
  • Reliance Jio today lashed out at incumbent operators and industry body COAI for their allegations that TRAI's regulations are favouring the newcomer, and demanded a public apology within 48 hours for the 'defamatory', 'slanderous' and 'libelous' accusations.

    In a strongly worded letter to COAI, Reliance Jio Ltd (RJIL) said that the press release issued by the body on February 20, 2018 claiming that the telecom regulator's orders put all but one operator at a serious disadvantage was "intentionally, wrongfully and maliciously made to induce disparaging and inimical opinions against Reliance Jio".

    The statement of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) "warrants criminal and civil action for defamation", Jio said demanding a public apology from the association and its Director General Rajan Mathews within 48 hours.

    It also alleged that the COAI has been "reduced to becoming instrument and mouthpiece of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea", and termed these operators as Incumbent Dominant Operators.

    "The Press Release is motivated by the aim to devalue the esteem, regard and confidence enjoyed by RJIL, thus causing injury to RJIL's repute among the public and in the market," Jio said.

    The full-blown face off between the two sides comes just days after cellular operators under the aegis of COAI alleged that the regulations by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had distorted the market.

    COAI had also alleged that Trai's orders appeared "to be strengthening the ambitions of one particular operator with deep pockets and monopolistic designs at the expense of other operators" although it did not name Reliance Jio which has hit the incumbent operators hard by its aggressive pricing of mobile services, especially data tariffs.

    The association had also stated that majority of its members agreed with the assessment of Trai's regulations, except Reliance Jio which had a divergent view on the matter.

Sun Pharma gets 3 observations from USFDA for Halol plant
  • Sun Pharmaceutical Industries today said the US health regulator has issued three observations after inspecting its Halol facility in Gujarat. The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) conducted the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspection of the company's Halol facility from February 12-23, 2018, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries said in a BSE filing.

    "At the conclusion of the inspection, the agency issued a Form 483, with three observations," it added. The drug firm however did not disclose any detail of the observations.

    The company is preparing the response to the observations, which will be submitted to the USFDA within 15 business days, Sun Pharma said.

    "The company is committed to addressing these observations promptly. The company remains committed to working closely with the USFDA and continues to enhance its GMP compliance on an ongoing basis," it said.

    As per the USFDA, a Form 483 is issued to a firm's management at the conclusion of an inspection when investigator has observed any conditions that in their judgment may constitute violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and related Acts.

    It notifies the company s management of objectionable conditions.

    The company's stock closed with a gain of 5.17 per cent at Rs 570.20 on BSE.

Sensex closes 322 points higher to 34,142, Nifty at 10,479; Tata Steel, Sun Pharma, YES Bank top gainers
  • The Sensex, Nifty rose today, tracking broader Asia after comments from a Federal Reserve official eased worries about faster rate hikes in the United States and sparked a rebound in recently hit sectors such as drug makers. While the Sensex rose 322 pts to 34,142 level, the Nifty  closed  points 108 points higher at 10,491 level.  Top Sensex gainers were Tata Steel (6.26%), Sun Pharma (5.17%), and YES Bank (2.28%).

    Of 30 Sensex stocks, 25 closed higher.

    Midcaps and small cap indexes rose 239 points and 272 points, respectively.

    All sectoral indexes closed higher on the BSE.

    BSE metal and bankex indexes led the recovery gaining 469 points and 356 points to 15,327 and 28,535 levels respectively.

    "US bond yields have fallen and so sentiment is higher," said Anita Gandhi, whole time director, Arihant Capital Markets.

    "Price correction has happened to a large extent in pharma, so market is looking at some value buying."

    Stock markets have been under pressure recently amid continued worries about the fallout from a $1.77 billion fraud that hit Punjab National Bank, and concerns that the central bank could soon move to raise interest rates to contain accelerating inflation.

    The Nifty Pharma index rose 2.64 percent or 233 points in its biggest intraday percentage gain since February 8. It had declined about 8 percent since the start of the year, as of Thursday's close.

    Financials also gained, with HDFC Bank (1.12%) and ICICI Bank (1.46%) among the biggest contributors to the rise.

    Federal Bank climbed as much as 5.2 percent after the bank on Thursday approved buying a stake in financial services company Equirus Capital.

    Global markets

    Shares were mixed Friday, with European stock benchmarks slipping after a day of gains in Asia.

    In early trading, Germany's DAX index edged 0.1 percent lower to 12,454.01 points and France's CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent to 5,303.40. London's FTSE 100 was off 0.2 percent at 7,234.96. On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.3 percent and that for the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent.

    ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 3,289.02 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent to 21,892.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 31,267.17 and Seoul's Kospi rose 1.5 percent to 2,451.52. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 climbed 0.8 percent to 5,999.80 and India's Sensex was up 0.8 percent at 34,099.90. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also gained.

    WALL STREET: Gains in industrial companies and other sectors outweighed losses in banks and health care stocks. Energy companies rose after crude oil prices recovered from an early slide. Bond yields declined from four-year highs amid fears of higher inflation and interest rates. The S&P gained 0.1 percent and the Dow added 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq declined 0.1 percent.

General Awareness

Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Electoral bonds

  • Context: The first sale of electoral bonds will start from March 1 for a period of 10 days at four main branches of State Bank of India in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.

    About Electoral bonds:

    What is it?

    An electoral bond is designed to be a bearer instrument like a Promissory Note — in effect, it will be similar to a bank note that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest. It can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India. The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor.

    How do you use it?

    The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India. They can be bought by the donor with a KYC-compliant account. Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed in via the party’s verified account within 15 days.

    Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via this account.

    Why Electoral Bonds are Necessary?

    India is the largest democracy in the world.  However, despite strengthening various institutions for the last seven decades, India has not been able to evolve a transparent political funding system.  Elections and political parties are a fundamental feature of Parliamentary democracy.  Elections cost money.  The round the year functioning of the political parties involves a large expenditure.  Parties run offices throughout the country.  Staff salaries, travelling expenses, establishment cost are regular expenditures of political parties.  There has not been a single year where election either for the Parliament or State Assemblies have not been held.  Besides expenditure of individual candidates, political parties have to spend money on election campaigns, publicity, tours, travels and election related establishments.  These expenditures run into hundreds of crores.  Yet there has not been a transparent funding mechanism of the political system.

    Issues the with conventional system of political funding:

    The conventional system of political funding is to rely on donations.  These donations, big or small, come from a range of sources from political workers, sympathisers, small business people and even large industrialists.  The conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations in cash and undertake these expenditures in cash.  The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous.  The quantum of money was never disclosed.  The present system ensures unclean money coming from unidentifiable sources.  It is a wholly non-transparent system.

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