1) Tax Devolution: Recently, the Union government has released the 3rd Installment of Tax Devolution to state governments amounting to Rs 1,18,280 crore in June 2023, as against the normal monthly devolution of Rs 59,140 crore.
- Article 280(3)(a) of the Constitution of India mandates that the Finance Commission (FC) has the responsibility to make recommendations regarding the division of the net proceeds of taxes between the Union and the states.
Key Recommendations of 15th Finance Commission:
- Share of States in Central Taxes (Vertical Devolution): The share of states in the central taxes for the 2021-26 period is recommended to be 41%, same as that for 2020-21.
- Horizontal Devolution (Allocation between the States): For horizontal devolution, it has suggested 5% weightage to demographic performance, 45%to income, 15% each to population and area, 10% to forest and ecology and 2.5% to tax and fiscal efforts.
- Revenue Deficit Grants to States: It has recommended post-devolution revenue deficit grants amounting to about Rs. 3 trillion over the five-year period ending FY26.
- Performance Based Incentives and Grants to States: These grants revolve around four main themes – social sector, rural economy, governance and administration, and the power sector.
- Grants to Local Governments: Along with grants for municipal services and local government bodies, it includes performance-based grants for incubation of new cities and health grants to local governments.
2) Governor’s Role in State Legislature: Issues have recently emerged in several Indian states regarding the interaction between Chief Ministers and Governors concerning the passing of bills. Chief Ministers have expressed concerns that Governors have delayed acting on bills presented for their assent.
- Article 153 says that there shall be a Governor for each State. One person can be appointed as Governor for two or more States.
- The Governor is appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal and holds office under the pleasure of the President (Article 155 and 156).
- Article 161states that the governor has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, etc.
- Article 163states that there is a council of ministers headed by the Chief Minister to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except some conditions for discretion, such as in case of failure of constitutional machinery in the State(Article 356).
- Article 200 of the Indian Constitution outlines the process for a Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of a State to be presented to the Governor for assent, who may either assent, withhold assent or reserve the Bill for consideration by the President.
- Article 201 states that when a Bill is reserved for the consideration of the President, the President may assent to or withhold assent from the Bill.
- Under Article 361 of the Constitution, the Governor has complete immunity from court proceedings for any act done in the exercise of their powers.
3) Interlocking System in Indian Railways: An investigation is underway to determine the cause of a devastating train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district. The incident has raised concerns about the electronic track management system used by the railways.
- Interlocking System refers to a crucial safety mechanism used to control train movements and ensure safe operations at railway stations and junctions.
- Electronic Interlocking (EI): It employs computer-based systems and electronic equipment to control signals, points, and level-crossing gates.
- As of 2022, 2,888 stations in India were equipped with an electronic interlocking system — comprising 5% of the Indian Railways network.
- Components of Electronic Interlocking:
- Signal: Signals use light indicators to direct trains.
- Point: Points are movable sections of tracks that enable trains to change lines.
- Track Circuit: Electrical circuits installed on tracks detect the presence of a train between two points.
- Additional Components: Electronic systems, communication devices, and other equipment.
- Functionality of the System:
- Command Reception and Route Setting: The electronic interlocking system receives commands from operators or automated control systems.
- Alignment and Interlocking: Once the route is determined, the system aligns the necessary track switches (points) and interlocks signaling devices.
- Signal for Train Proceeding: Trains are given signals to proceed based on the track’s direction and the absence of obstructions on diverging tracks.
- Collision Prevention: By monitoring track circuits, the system prevents multiple trains from running on the same block or conflicting paths.
- Point Locking: Points (switches) remain locked in position until certain conditions are met, such as the train crossing a specific section of the track or the signal to proceed being withdrawn.
- Failure Indication: In the event of a failure or malfunction, the system alerts operators or maintenance personnel using red light signal.