Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 23 May 2023

The RBI withdraws Rs 2,000 notes

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to withdraw the Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation. But existing notes will continue to be legal tender, the RBI announced. The central bank has advised the public to deposit Rs 2000 banknotes, which were introduced after Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were withdrawn during the demonetisation exercise six years ago, into their bank accounts and /or exchange them into banknotes of other denominations at any bank branch.

Why has the RBI withdrawn Rs 2000 notes?

  1. The Rs 2000 note was introduced in November 2016 under Section 24(1) of The RBI Act, 1934, primarily with the objective of meeting the currency requirement of the economy expeditiously after the legal tender status of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was withdrawn.
  2. With the fulfilment of that objective, and once notes of other denominations were available in adequate quantities, the printing of Rs 2000 notes was stopped in 2018-19.
  3. The RBI issued the majority of the Rs 2000 denomination notes prior to March 2017; these notes are now at the end of their estimated lifespan of 4-5 years.
  4. This denomination is no longer commonly used for transactions; besides, there is adequate stock of banknotes in other denominations to meet currency requirements.
  5. In view of the above, and in pursuance of the ‘Clean Note Policy’ of the Reserve Bank of India, it has been decided to withdraw the Rs 2000 denomination banknotes from circulation, the RBI said.

What is the Clean Note Policy?

  1. The Clean Note Policy seeks to give the public good-quality currency notes and coins with better security features, while soiled notes are withdrawn out of circulation.
  2. The RBI had earlier decided to withdraw from circulation all banknotes issued prior to 2005 as they have fewer security features as compared to banknotes printed after 2005.
  3. However, the notes issued before 2005 continue to be legal tender. They have only been withdrawn from circulation in conformity with the standard international practice of not having notes of multiple series in circulation at the same time.

 

Kuki homeland again demanded

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Days after clashes between Manipur’s Kuki-Zomi tribes and the majority Meitei community left more than 70 people dead, the state’s 10 Kuki-Zomi MLAs demanded “a separate administration under the Constitution”, saying “our people can no longer exist under Manipur… [and] to live amidst the Meiteis again is as good as a death…”.

A Kuki homeland

  1. The demand for a separate “Kukiland” dates back to the late 1980s, when the first and largest of the Kuki-Zomi insurgent groups, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO), came into being. The demand has surfaced periodically ever since.
  2. In 2012, as it became increasingly clear that the demand for a separate Telangana state would be accepted, an organisation called the Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) announced a movement for Kukiland. KSDC had been calling occasional strikes and economic bandhs even earlierblocking highways, and not letting goods enter Manipur.
  3. The KSDC claimed 12,958 sq km, more than 60% of Manipur’s 22,000 sq km area, for “Kukis and Kukiland’’.
  4. The territory of “Kukiland” included the Sadar Hills (which surround the Imphal valley on three sides), the Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district, Chandel, which has a mix of Kuki and Naga populations, and even parts of Naga-dominated Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
  5. The KSDC and sections of the Kuki-Zomi community have maintained that the tribal areas “are yet to be a part of the Indian Union”.
  6. They have contended that after the defeat of the king of Manipur in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur war, the kingdom became a British protectorate, but the lands of the Kuki-Zomi were not part of the agreement.
  7. The KSDC also said that unlike the Naga demand for a separate country, it was only seeking a separate state within the Indian Union.
  8. The agitation did have an impact — the Congress government of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh declared, in the face of strong opposition from the United Naga Council, the Kuki-dominated Sadar Hills, part of the Naga-dominated Senapati district, as a separate district.

‘Land of freedom’

  1. The Kukiland demand is rooted in the idea of the Zale’n-gam, or ‘land of freedom’.
  2. Some Kuki-Zomi people, especially the insurgent groups, contest the dominant narrative that their ancestors were brought from the Kuki-Chin hills of Burma by the British political agent and settled around the Imphal valley to protect the Manipur kingdom from the plundering Naga raiders of the north. They also contest the idea of the nomadic origins of the Kuki-Zomi.
  3. In the opposing narrative, the Kuki Zale’n-gam sprawled across a large part of India’s Northeast and contiguous areas in present day Myanmar — and under the Treaty of 1834, the British handed over a significant chunk of this land to Burma to appease the Ava or Burmese king.
  4. Over the years though, this imagination of the homeland has shrunk to that of a state created out of the hill areas of Manipur, including those dominated by the Naga tribes.

 

Delhi services verdict and Article 239AA

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Centre promulgated an ordinance extending powers to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor over services in the administration of the national capital, which essentially involves the power to transfer and appoint bureaucrats posted to Delhi. The Ordinance is aimed at nullifying the effect of the Constitution Bench’s verdict, which gave the Delhi government power over administrative services in the capital. Additionally, the SC interpreted Article 239AA, the provision that deals with the governance structure of Delhi, as one that underlies the principles of federalismparticipatory democracy, and collective responsibility.

What is Article 239AA of the Constitution?

  1. Inserted into the Constitution by the 69th Amendment Act, 1991Article 239AA conferred special status on Delhi following the recommendations of the S Balakrishnan Committee that was set up in 1987 to look into Delhi’s demands for statehood.
  2. According to this provision, the NCT of Delhi will have an administrator and a Legislative Assembly.
  3. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly, “shall have the power to make laws for the whole or any part of the NCT with respect to any of the matters in the State List or Concurrent List in so far as any such matter is applicable to Union territories,” except on the subjects of police, public order, and land.
  4. Two Constitution Benches of the Supreme Court, in July 2018 and May 2023, have dealt with the issue of the powers of the Delhi government. Both of these judgments involve the interpretation of Article 239AA of the Constitution, which deals with the governance structure of the national capital.
  5. In 1991, when Article 239 AA was inserted, the Parliament also passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, to provide a framework for the functioning of the Assembly and the government of Delhi.

What has the Supreme Court said about Article 239AA?

  1. In the majority ruling in 2018, the Constitution bench held that although Delhi could not be accorded the status of a state, the concept of federalism would still apply to it.
  2. On 11 May 2023, the unanimous ruling, also penned by CJI Chandrachud, held that with the introduction of Article 239AA, the Constitution created a federal model with the Union of India at the Centre, and the NCTD at the regional level.
  3. In five years, this was the second time that a five-judge Bench of the top court sat down to decide the issue concerning the power tussle between the Delhi government and the Centre.
  4. The Bench held that NCTD (Delhi), just like other states, “represents the representative form of government”.
  5. However, it outlined that “the involvement of the Union of India in the administration of NCTD is limited by constitutional provisions, and any further expansion would be contrary to the constitutional scheme of governance.”

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