May 2020


Mains Sure Shot
























GS-1 Mains

  1. 1 The voice of Intellectuals under the unfair restriction can create social threat and anger in society. Define?

Q.2. The climate change and unsustainable resource management have degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity. Discuss the statement in the context of the Asia-Pacific region?

Q-3. Despite of the modern era, certain cruel issues are still prevailing the act of female genital mutilation is an example of it. Point your views?

Q.4. The Water crisis can take a very serious move if the water management moves  unsustainably? State your own points?


GS-2 Mains

  1. 1. The present India-China border is a result of internal silence by the nations paving the way to the others to interrupt?
  2. 2. The virtual technology has a scope to make strong bonds and fill the gaps of effective diplomacy. Discuss the statement in the context of India-Australia relations?
  3. 3. The China’s unopened internal policy can leads to its own destruction. Discuss in the context of China’s One Country Two Systems policy?
  4. 4. The changing world economies can raise saviour ethical issues. Define?
  5. 5. Federalism can bond the unbounded issues, in the context of Jammu and Kashmir define the role of Indian federal structure?

Q.6. The China’s changing strategic diplomacy can results in the difficult external environment?

Q.7. The Pakistan’s internal changes leads to its own destruction, what are the possible concerns that can effect India’s interest?

  1. 8. The standard of education is a prior concern for long time. Discuss the recent SC’s judgement NEET?

Q.9. Discuss the role of cooperative federalism, what are the major concerns related to it?

Q.10. Critically examine the Significance of Rajya Sabha. Discuss the historical references of the Rajya Sabha?

Q.11. Due to the COVID-19 the worlds geopolitical shift can be highlight. What opportunities India can seek from this shift?

Q.12. The holding burden of the pending cases is after the pandemic can be overburden. What are the possible ways to ensure the safety and overcrowd threat of the courts?

Q.13. Discuss the issues related to the PM CARES Fund and the PM’s National Relief Fund?

Q.14. Discuss the laws that enacted during crisis, what are the issues it upholds?

Q.15. What is the role of election commission in pandemic, what are the extra responsibilities it holds during crisis?

Q.16. What do you understand by Weaponisation. Critically comment on its aspects. What is India’s role?

  1. 17. The centric approach always not works, bottom-up approach have significant results to effectively tackle the issues that raised due to the present crisis? Comment?

Q.18. The adaptation of a system of virtual judiciary in cases can reduce the burden or can create new security threat. To balance these state your views?

Q.19. Comment on India’s disease surveillance system. Discuss the challenges?

Q.20. Critically examine the role of BRICS in the current global threat?

Q.21. The global experiences can give the possible solutions to tackle the pandemic. What are the obstacles India still have can Taiwan’s worked measures give India a successful solution?

  1. 22. In the present scenario what opportunities India can see in African continent?
  2. 23. The proper data can give the possible solution, what are dimensions need to address by the data generation policymakers?

Q.24. Comment on south-Asian trajectory of the COVID-19 crisis. Where India stands point out?

Q.25. Beliefs and technology has always contrasted but it has seen from present scenario technologically capable nations cannot protect the lives and health of citizens. Critically comment?

Q.26. State your views to tackle the global pandemic as a supreme agency. Can collective and cooperative partnerships leads to favourable results. Discuss?


GS-3 Mains

Q.1. Weather labour laws are inefficient or the mechanism has failed to address the issues of migrant labours? Define the apex court’s recent judgement?

Q.2. ‘The unresolved border disputes can create new disputes’ is likely to be present conditions with Nepal. State your views?

Q.3. The current intensification of tension between China and India leads to the internal dispute. Discuss?

  1. 4. The deregulation of oil prices is the need of the time to find an alternative. Justify?
  2. 5. Discuss the pros and cons of Atmanirbhar Bharat to make India self-reliant?
  3. 6. Due to current pandemic the issues of workers are at peak, give the possible solutions to address the issue?
  4. 7. What are the prior concerns in agriculture sectors that need to be address. Point out all the possible ways to resolve the agricultural issues by highlighting APMC act?

Q.8. The unsolved border issues are peak concern, define the statement by highlighting the Sugauli Treaty?

Q.9. Due to the global pandemic the social moral standards are deprived by the psych of people in many ways. Point out the reasons of failure?

Q. 10. The slew of reforms in the defence sector to address long-standing strategic and national security concerns. Critically Examine?

Q. 11. What are the major proposals under Atmanirbhar Bharat for power sector? Critically examine the needs and issues to ensure the national energy security?

Q.12. The misuse of criminal laws are unvoiced threat to society and can deprived the moral standards. Discuss?

Q.13. Critically examine the major provisions for farm sector under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative?

  1. 14. State the different steps taken by state governments to review the economy by relaxing labour laws? Point out it’s implications?

Q.15. Due to the current pandemic the inefficient health system has highlighted. If you are agree then state the major concerns and the present possible solutions?

Q.16. What are the prior changes that need to be done in agriculture sector. In the present global threat what are the major concerns that has raised in the sector?

Q.17. To revive the economy MSMEs can play vital role. Address the main issues in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector?

Q.18. What are the major alternatives to restart the Economy. With the present examples explain the judgements of the apex court?

Q.19. With respect to the workers issues evaluate the Labour Laws in India?

  1. 20. Discuss the major reforms taken by the government to recover the economy from the impact of the global crisis?
  2. 21. Point out the major stapes taken by the state governments to ensure and boost the economic activities. Why the governments steps are unwelcomed by the Society?

Q.22. Due to the pandemic the rights of people in India has effected specially related to the migrant workers. Discuss?

Q.23. Critically examine the recent changes in labour laws in the context of India?

Q.24. Examine the different inter-state workers acts, discuss the main provisions of the acts to protect the inter-state workers issues?

Q.25. The global crisis has pave the way for India as an golden opportunity. How India can grab the opportunity?

Q.26. What are the suggested ways to boost the economy. What is the Consol Bond discuss its advantages?

Q.27 What are the expectations of the society and finance system  to fulfil their needs. Do you agree that the system is in contrast. If yes why is it so, if no state the concerns?

Q.28. Due to the global threat what are the necessary changes that need to take to preserve the economic system. What are possible way forwards you can suggest. Point out that?

Q.29. Comment on the role of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Why India is still lacking in food security. To tackle this what measures FCI can take?

Q.30. Comment on monetisation policy of the system, point out its positive and negative aspects?

Q.31. In what ways One Nation One Ration Card policy can give India an instant relief. Discuss the challenges?

Q.32. Point out the relevance of MNREGA, what are the challenges the scheme facing?

Q.33 Why is the locust surge posing a threat to agriculture in India?















GS-1 Mains

  1. 1 The voice of Intellectuals under the unfair restriction can create social threat and anger in society. Define?


  • A feature of public life in Tamil Nadu in the last three decades has been the indiscriminate (done at random or without careful judgement)institution of criminal defamation proceedings against Opposition leaders and the media.
  • It is no surprise, then, that the most comprehensive judgment on the limits of the State’s power to prosecute members of the press for defamation should come from the Madras High Court.
  • The verdict of Justice Abdul Quddhose, quashing a series of defamation complaints filed since 2011-12, is remarkable for applying a set of principles that would firmly deter(prevent) the hasty and ill-advised resort to State-funded prosecution on behalf of public servants.


  • The first principle is that the State should not impulsively invoke(use) provisions in the CrPC to get its public prosecutor to file defamation complaints in response to every report that contains criticism.
  • The court deems such impulsive actions as amounting to throttling(insulting) democracy. It advises the government to have a higher threshold for invoking defamation provisions.
  • It notes that each time a public servant feels defamed by a press report, it does not automatically give rise to a cause for asking the public prosecutor to initiate proceedings on her behalf.
  • The statutory distinction between defaming a public servant as a person and as the State itself being defamed has to be maintained.


  • Justice Quddhose goes on to fault the government for according sanction to the initiation of cases through the prosecutors without explaining how the State has been defamed.
  • He cautions prosecutors against acting like a post office, noting that their role is to scrutinise(examine) the material independently to see if the offence has been made out, and if so, whether it relates to a public servant’s conduct in the course of discharging official functions or not before filing a complaint.
  • So, the court finds that many were cases in which public servants ought to have filed individual cases.
  • An earlier Madras High Court ruling noted that an essential ingredient of criminal defamation must be that an imputation(accusation) was actuated by malice, or with reckless disregard for the truth.


  • A recent judgment by Justice G.R. Swaminathan enunciated(expressed) what is known in the United States as the ‘Sullivan’ rule of ‘actual malice’.
  • While quashing a private complaint against a journalist and a newspaper, the judge said two of the exceptions to defamation given in Section 499 pertained to ‘public conduct of public servants’ and ‘conduct of any person on any public question’.
  • This implied that the legislature itself believed that unless it is demonstrated that reporting on a public servant’s conduct or on a public question was vitiated(spoil the quality or efficiency of)by malice(ill will), the question of defamation does not arise and that even inaccuracies in reporting need not occasion a prosecution for defamation.
  • Within a matter of days, the HC has struck two blows for free speech and press freedom.


  • Reckless filing of criminal defamation cases against the press must end.
  1. 2. The climate change and unsustainable resource management have degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity. Discuss the statement in the context of the Asia-Pacific region?
  • The editorial sheds light upon how, in less than a century, climate change and unsustainable resource management have degraded ecosystems and diminished biodiversity in the seas of the Asia-Pacific region.


Degraded Ecosystems:

  • Escalating strains on the marine environment are threatening to drown progress and way of life in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • For generations, the region has thrived on the seas for food, livelihoods and a sense of identity.

Lack of data:

  • Due to limitations in methodology and national statistical systems, information gaps have persisted at uneven levels across countries.
  • Insights from ‘Changing Sails: Accelerating Regional Actions for Sustainable Oceans in Asia and the Pacific’ (the theme study of this year’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific – ESCAP) reveal that without data, there is lack of clarity about the state of water bodies in the region.
  • Data are available for only two out of ten targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’.

Plastic pollution:

  • Marine plastic pollution in the region’s rivers has contributed to most of the debris flooding the ocean.
  • Asia and the Pacific produces nearly half of global plastic by volume, of which it consumes 38%.
  • Plastics represent a double burden for the ocean:
  • Their production generates CO2 absorbed by the ocean.
  • Also, the final product enters the ocean as pollution.
  • Beating this challenge will hinge upon effective national policies and re-thinking production cycles.

Impact on fishing stocks:

  • Levels of overfishing have exponentially increased, leaving fish stocks and food systems vulnerable.
  • Environmental decline is also affecting fish stocks.
  • The region’s position as the world’s largest producer of fish has come at the cost of over-exploitation.
  • The percentage of stocks fished at unsustainable levels has increased threefold from 10% in 1974 to 33% in 2015.
  • Generating complete data on fish stocks, fighting illicit fishing activity and conserving marine areas must remain a priority.

Way forward:

  • Closing the maritime connectivity gap must be placed at the centre of regional transport cooperation efforts. While the most connected shipping economies are in Asia, the small island developing States of the Pacific experience much lower levels of connectivity, leaving them relatively isolated from the global economy.
  • Efforts must be taken to navigate toward green shipping. Enforcing sustainable shipping policies is essential.
  • Trans-boundary ocean management and linking ocean data call for close cooperation among countries in the region.
  • Harnessing ocean statistics through strong national statistical systems will serve as a compass guiding countries to monitor trends, devise timely responses and clear blind spots.
    • Through the Ocean Accounts Partnership, ESCAP is working with countries to harmonise ocean data and provide a space for regular dialogue.
  • Translating international agreements and standards into national action is also key.
  • Countries and all ocean custodians must be fully equipped to localise global agreements into tangible results.
  • ESCAP is working with member states to implement International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements.
  • Keeping the ocean plastic-free will depend on policies that promote a circular economy approach. This minimises resource use and will require economic incentives and disincentives.


While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced pollution in the seas, this should not be a moment of reprieve. Rather, recovery efforts need to build a new reality, embedded in sustainability. Efforts are needed to steer our collective fleets toward sustainable oceans.


Q-3. Despite of the modern era, certain cruel issues are still prevailing the act of female genital mutilation is an example of it. Point your views?


  • Sudan has criminalized the act of female genital mutilation (FGM).

What is FGM?

  • The World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation (FGM) as involving “the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
  • The practice has no health benefits for girls and women. 
  • FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems in urinating,  cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • According to the UN, over 200 million women in several African countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Djibouti and Senegal, and some in Asia, have been subject to this brutal social custom. 


  • Sudan’s decision to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is a landmark victory for women’s rights in a country that is still in a transition from dictatorship to democracy.
  • The development follows the transitional government’s decision to scrap the repressive social codes and humiliating penalties that targeted women during the nearly 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, which fell last year amid protests. 
  • Under the law, any offenders will serve a punishable sentence of up to three years in prison. 
  • It is a historic move in a country where the United Nations says 9 out of 10 women between the ages of 15 to 49 have been subjected to the practice.
  • The UN estimates that some 87% of Sudanese women have had their external genitalia removed on non-medical grounds during childhood, leaving them with life-long emotional and physical injuries.


  • The new measure, which entails punishment with a fine and a prison sentence, must still be approved by the Supreme Council (made up of civilians and military officials, that oversees the democratic transition). The government’s decision builds on the curbs already in place in a number of provinces, although enforcement has been a concern.
  • While the latest measure has been widely welcomed, campaigners remain cautious about a shift in attitude against this custom, as it is regarded as crucial prior to matrimony.
  • Even in countries where FGM is outlawed, enforcement remains an issue. 
  • In Egypt’s first FGM trial in 2014, six years after Cairo clamped a ban, the doctor who had carried out the procedure, as well as the father of the deceased girl, were acquitted, despite incriminating forensic evidence. 
  • In Somalia, the country with the highest prevalence rate but no legal ban, the death of a girl in 2018 after a similar procedure led to the first prosecution in such incidents. 
  • In Uganda, reports in 2019 of some 300 cases of mutilation within a month shed light on the government’s uphill task to back existing legislation with vigorous awareness campaigns. 
  • In Kenya, where the practice was criminalised in 2011, the government strategy requiring girls to be tested for circumcision raised concerns of victimisation and privacy violation.

Practice of FGM in India:

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised in India by the Dawoodi Bohras, a sect of Shia Islam with one million members in India.
  • The procedure is generally performed when a girl is seven years old and involves the total or partial removal of the clitoral hood.
  • In May 2017 a public interest litigation (PIL) case was raised in India’s Supreme Court, seeking a ban on FGM in India.
  • The petition claimed the practice violated children’s rights under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India.
  • The defendants argue that khafz (FGM) is an essential part of the community’s religion, and their right to practise the religion is protected under Articles 25 and 26.
  • The community believes that male and female circumcision is required as “acts of religious purity”.
  • In September 2018 the Supreme Court referred the PIL to a five-judge constitution bench for further hearing.


  • These practices suggest that legislation alone may not stop this practice that has deep cultural roots. The governments must eradicate it. 
  • While there is ongoing research to rectify the damage, WHO is somewhat sceptical about the effectiveness of recent reconstruction surgeries. 
  • The prevailing scenario thus underscores the need for stronger campaigns and bold actions to stop this social scourge.
  • Sustaining the country’s (Sudan) progressive currents and the democratic transition would be crucial to consolidate the gender reforms it has introduced in recent months.


Q.4. The Water crisis can take a very serious move if the water management moves  unsustainably? State your own points?


World Water Day was observed on March 22nd 2020 with the aim to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater and advocate for its sustainable management.


  • There was recognition of the importance of water in hand-washing and personal hygiene practices, an action that is as important as social distancing and nationwide lockdowns in breaking the circuit of coronavirus transmission.
  • The theme for 2020 was “Water and Climate Change”.

Water and Climate Change:

  • The theme reflects the desire of policymakers to address the impact of climate change on the water sector.
  • Climate change and water are inextricably linked.
  • Water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts trickle down to the community and individual levels, primarily through reduced predictability of water availability.
  • Growing populations and their demand for water increase the need for energy-intensive water pumping, transportation and treatment.
  • It contributes to the degradation of critical water-dependent carbon sinks such as peatlands.
  • Due to climate change, water cycles experience significant change, which reflects in water availability and quality.
  • A warmer climate causes more water to evaporate from both land and oceans; in turn, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water (roughly 4% more water for every 1ºF rise in temperature).


  • Extreme weather events due to climate change are expected to lead to negative consequences in the water sector, with increased precipitation and run-off (flooding) in certain areas and less precipitation and longer and more severe scarcity of water (droughts) in other areas.
  • Wet areas are expected to become wetter and dry areas drier.
  • This influences almost all aspects of the economy including drinking water, sanitation, health, food production, energy generation, industrial manufacturing, and environmental sustainability and ultimately the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • In coastal areas, when more freshwater is removed from rivers and aquifers, saltwater will move farther upstream into the river mouth and the aquifer, which will put pressure on the limited freshwater available on the coast, forcing water managers to seek costly alternatives like desalination plants.

Way forward:

  • India has come up with climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and appropriate policy measures.
  • The government is implementing the ‘National Action Plan on Climate Change’ through eight National Missions, including the Water Mission.
  • However, effective policies need the support of the local governments, corporates and NGOs.
  • Water resources planning must be given due consideration while dealing with climate impacts.
  • As tanks and ponds can store and recharge the excess rainwater to the aquifer, their rejuvenation (desilting) facilitates flood and drought management.
  • India needs to revisit its rich tradition and culture of water wisdom in water resources management.
  • There is a need for more public awareness on the need for climate-resilient actions, including protecting carbon sinks like oceans, wetlands, peatlands and mangroves.
  • Adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques, rainwater harvesting, waste-water reuse, and judicious use of water should be generated and inculcated in each citizen.


  • Water is a common pool natural resource that sustains ecosystems, biodiversity, food security, economies, and society; hence, its judicious use with balancing multiple water needs is significant.
  • In developing countries, a large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, fisheries and forestry for its livelihoods.
  • India cannot afford to let climate change-induced hydrological challenges overtake.





















GS-2 Mains

  1. 1. The present India-China border is a result of internal silence by the nations paving the way to the others to interrupt?


  • Nearly a month after the first skirmishes (small fights)on the LAC between Indian and Chinese soldiers were reported, the situation on the ground still appears to be tense.
  • While there has been no official explanation of what has happened there since May 5, the day the first clash at Pangong Tso (lake) was reported, there is enough information to conclude that this is the most serious such standoff India and China have seen in years.


  • As reported by The Hindu, sources say that the number of Chinese soldiers, the aggression with which they have dealt with Indian soldiers, as well as the number of points of conflict, indicate strategised action by Chinese commanders.
  • While both governments have been careful to keep the tone of their comments sober, the fact that both sides have repeatedly mentioned that talks are on is also proof of an ongoing situation.
  • A full de-escalation(reduction of the intensity of a conflict)will entail(require) soldiers being able to return to their normal LAC patrols.
  • Military officers say it will probably need a high-level political intervention and for the Indian side, an insistence that Chinese soldiers, who appear to have been the aggressors, returning to positions they previously held.


  • In the midst (middle)of these sensitive negotiations, the interventions by the U.S. come as inopportune (untimely)
  • The first comment, last week, by a then senior State Department official accused China of being an aggressor on several fronts and posing a “threat” to its neighbours.
  • It was then followed by President Trump’s offer, this week, to mediate between Delhi and Beijing.
  • Neither comment appears to have been made in consultation with India. India has made it clear that it will not accept Mr. Trump’s offer and has denied his claim that he spoke to PM Modi on the issue.


  • The government’s first priority now must be to end the current standoff, and then for its senior officials to enter serious talks on LAC demarcation.
  • Given all the new infrastructure being built by India, it may also be necessary to negotiate new border management protocols that were last updated in 2013.
  • The government must also investigate how a big build-up of Chinese soldiers was not acted upon earlier.

Beyond this, it must make a full assessment of just what China’s final aims are:

  • Is the summer conflagration(fire)meant to deflect attention from Beijing’s current problems over the coronavirus pandemic;to deter(prevent) India from its infrastructural push for roads and bridges to connect its northern frontiers all the way to the Karakoram pass, or;to “remind” New Delhi of its geographical vulnerabilities as it contemplates a closer maritime relationship in the Indo-Pacific with the U.S.?


  • In all three scenarios, the first steps for the government would be to publicly clarify the seriousness of the situation at the LAC, and to build consensus around its plans for a firm pushback and an assertion of its position along the disputed line.


  1. 2. The virtual technology has a scope to make strong bonds and fill the gaps of effective diplomacy. Discuss the statement in the context of India-Australia relations?


  • In August 1950, one of Australia’s most celebrated jurists, Sir Owen Dixon (who sought to mediate a settlement on Kashmir) wrote to his daughter, Anne, in Melbourne that Delhi was “a place I hope and trust that I shall never again see.”
  • Nearly 70 years later, as the Prime Ministers of India and Australia, Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison, prepare for next week’s virtual summit (June 4), it is not because of any such reservation about India’s capital.
  • Today, New Delhi ranks extremely high on Australia’s diplomatic radar; the new High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell’s appointment is reflective of how far we have moved from Sir Owen’s time.
  • A former Premier of New South Wales and a celebrated public figure, Mr. O’Farrell has already made his presence felt in India through the increasingly ubiquitous(ever-present)world of webinars


  • Almost all of Australia’s recent Prime Ministers, including Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have visited India.
  • Morrison’s visit to India, in January, was postponed because of the devastating bushfires in Australia, and now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • When Mr. Modi travelled to Australia in 2014, 28 years after Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit, in 1986, he electrified the country with his presence, including business leaders from the country in a panel discussion.
  • It is tempting to view the virtual summit only in the context of the turbulent(disturbed)geopolitics of the region.
  • In reality, New Delhi’s relations with Canberra have acquired such spread and depth today that even without the belligerence(aggression)of an increasingly inscrutable(impossible to understand) China, the summit would still have had salience(importance) and similar gravitas.


  • The idea of the Australia-India relationship has well and truly arrived.
  • Virtual summits are no longer a novelty. Mr. Modi convened a multilateral summit to bring South Asia together to face the pandemic, and he spoke online with G-20 leaders on similar issues.
  • But India’s first bilateral summit is with Australia; and it is no longer surprising.
  • The convergence of interests and values has been obvious; but the time has also come to translate that potential into reality.
  • The two countries have sought to reconstruct their increasingly turbulent regional geography into the Indo-Pacific.
  • It sees the Quad (with Japan and the United States) as the most potent instrument to promote cooperation; not surprisingly, causing apprehensions(worries)in Beijing.
  • It is expected that the ‘Mutual Logistics Support Agreement’ will be signed during the summit that should enhance defence cooperation and ease the conduct of large-scale joint military exercises.
  • Last April, Australia and India conducted AUSINDEX, their largest bilateral naval exercise, and there are further developments on the anvil, including Australia’s permanent inclusion in the Malabar exercise with Japan.
  • In addition, it may be prudent too for New Delhi and Canberra to elevate the ‘two plus two’ format for talks from the Secretary level to the level of Foreign and Defence Ministers.


  • But beyond the realpolitik of strategy, is the managing of cooperation in areas that matter to the lives of the people of the two nations: health, food and education.
  • Morrison has emerged as a statesman (during the COVID-19 pandemic) by bringing in the national opposition and reaching out to state leaders in the most effective and efficient display of cooperative federalism.
  • So much so that the Australian writer Richard Flanagan suggested, in The New York Times (May 18,2020), that polarising(dividing)ideologies in Australia were killed by the coronavirus given the united national response.


  • Australia is one of the few countries that has managed to combat COVID-19 so far through “controlled adaptation” by which the coronavirus has been suppressed to very low levels.
  • Two of the leaders of this great Australia-wide effort are Indian-born scientists.
  • Shitij Kapur, of the University of Melbourne, led a community of academics to produce a pathbreaking report, “Roadmap to recovery”;
  • while S.S. Vasan is leading efforts to develop a vaccine in a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) facility in a dangerous pathogens facility in Geelong, near Melbourne.
  • There is much that the two Prime Ministers can share on this front.
  • In terms of health and safe food as well the supply chains that facilitate their delivery, there are important lessons to be learnt.
  • One of Australia’s richest businessman and first patron of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue, recently described the promise of DTC-CPG (direct to consumer; consumer packaged goods) which could transform global supply chains.
  • Here too there is much room for collaboration and new thinking.


  • The recovery of Australia’s universities, most of which are publicly funded and many rank among the top in the world, is still in question, but they are proving to be resilient and pioneers in distance and online learning.
  • Australian universities could well open earlier than most and emerge as a safer destination for quality education than their European or Ivy league counterparts.
  • Till a few weeks ago, the prospect of teaching online a course on Contemporary India to Australian Students from the University of Melbourne seemed daunting(challenging)to this writer.
  • But with slides of Ambedkar, Gandhi and even snippets(pieces)from the movies of Satyajit Ray, the enormous potential of online learning became obvious; the students were excited intellectually by both the robustness of Indian democracy, and the diversity of its experience as a federation.
  • Although the course was on India, the enormous potential of young Australians and Indians working and building fresh order in a turbulent(disturbed)world became obvious.
  • The virtual summit, in this sense, could not have been better timed.


  1. 3. The China’s unopened internal policy can leads to its own destruction. Discuss in the context of China’s One Country Two Systems policy?


  • Protests and violence returned to Hong Kong on May 24.
  • In scenes that became all-too-familiar through much of last year, police used water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray, as a protest march descended into clashes between protesters and riot police.
  • The weekend’s march had originally been planned ahead of a debate in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) on a new national anthem bill, which would punish anyone who insulted China’s anthem with up to three years in prison.


  • The protest assumed significance when two days before the march, China’s central government stunned Hong Kong’s pro-democracy parties by tabling a new national security bill, as the National People’s Congress met in Beijing.
  • The bill, expected to be passed when the NPC’s annual session ends on Thursday, urges Hong Kong’s legislature to pass national security laws “as soon as possible”.
  • Else, the bill leaves open the possibility that Beijing could bypass Legislative Council, declaring that the NPC is “authorized to draft laws” on security for Hong Kong.
  • What has concerned pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong is a new provision for China’s national security organs to “set up institutions” in the Special Administrative Region(SAR).


  • Basic Law that has governed Hong Kong since 1997.
  • SAR has a high degree of autonomy “to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”; only defence and foreign affairs are to be handled by Beijing.
  • Article 23of the law requires Hong Kong to pass national security legislation, but the law makes clear it is Hong Kong’s legislature that enjoys the power to make and repeal laws — the bedrock of the “one country, two systems” model.
  • In 2003, a national security bill allowing the shutting down of seditious(inciting or causing people to rebel against the authority of a state)newspapers and carrying out warrantless searches was withdrawn after protests.
  • Beijing now argues that last year’s protests, blamed on “external forces like US”, underlined the need for a new law to curb “acts of secession and subversion”.


  • Hong Kong’s legislative elections are in September and the pro-Beijing camp fears losing control of LegCo, even if its unusual rules have stacked it with pro-Beijing lawmakers.
  • Only half of the 70 seats are directly elected; the rest are nominated.
  • Yet such is the rising tide of support for pro-democracy parties that Beijing worries it could lose the two-thirds majority needed for any amendments to the Basic Law.
  • The pro-democracy camp swept November’s district council elections, seen as a referendum on the youth-driven protests.
  • A record 70% turnout won the pro-democracy candidates 390 of 452 seats. The elections demonstrated that public support for full democracy is growing.


  • The new piece of legislation is aimed at tightening Beijing’s grip over Hong Kong, but it may well end up having the opposite effect.
  • Hong Kong cannot be won without its people.


  1. 4. The changing world economies can raise saviour ethical issues. Define?


  • President Donald Trump is entering deeper into a political quagmire(trouble)on three related fronts:
  • America’s death toll from COVID-19 is perilously close to the psychologically important mark of 100,000;
  • the economy looks to be on the verge of slipping into a deep recession, if not outright depression, in the wake of the pandemic impact across sectors;

 Basic (recession is widespread economic decline that lasts for at least six months. A depression is a more severe decline that lasts for several years) and his management of both the crises is facing acerbic(sharp) criticism from Democrats even as the 2020 U.S. presidential election draws closer.


  • There is one factor that links all three political hazards he is facing — China.
  • On the pandemic front, Mr. Trump has regularly tweeted to the effect that the novel coronavirus ought to be called the “China virus”
  • While Mr. Trump appeared relatively more mollified(appeased)after a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in late March, he reverted to name-calling a few weeks thereafter.
  • Beijing meanwhile has concertedly(energetically)pushed a campaign around the message that the virus — contrary to any publicly verified evidence — originated outside China.
  • On the economic front, the trade war that disturbed global markets through most of 2019 appeared to be near a resolution when Washington and Beijing inked the ‘phase one’ pact for lower tariffs and trade concessions this January.
  • The pandemic appears to have set that process back considerably:
  • neither side will be in the mood to make concessions given that tens of millions of jobs have been lost in the U.S. and China is far from an economic recovery.


  • It is however the third factor, the presidential poll in November, that could most significantly alter(change)the landscape of conflict-ridden(filled) bilateral ties.
  • China is now a dominant subject in U.S. politics as the election draws closer.
  • Presumptive Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has for several months launched scathing attacks on Mr. Trump’s bungling(incompetancy)in the early phases of viral transmission.
  • Pro-Trump campaign organisations have in turn taken to labelling Mr. Biden, “Beijing Biden”, which gives Democrats the tough choice of either attacking or defending China.
  • If Mr. Biden does either, he will open himself up to political attacks.


  • There is, however, a third way. Some analysts are describing the confrontation between both nations as the potential “New Cold War”
  • If he steps back from the brink of what, based on the understanding that neither side would stand to gain from the cumulative tally of economic and geopolitical conflict, he mayavert(avoid) a clash.
  • In doing so he might win over economically insecure, independent and undecided voters across the U.S., who are important to secure an election victory.
  • Not only the U.S. and China, but the world at large, might stand to gain if he did that.


  1. 5. Federalism can bond the unbounded issues, in the context of Jammu and Kashmir define the role of Indian federal structure?


  • While public attention is focused on COVID-19, Jammu and Kashmir suffers twin lockdowns, rising violence and unilateral government actions, all at the same time.
  • In the 12 months since the Narendra Modi administration returned to office, their Kashmir policy has comprised measures that are perceived(understood)as disasters in the Valley.
  • It has garnered mixed reactions in Jammu and Ladakh, and are welcomed by some in the rest of India.


  • The latest of these actions is the new domicile(residency)rules, notified on May 18, 2020.
  • Based on the Home Ministry’s order of March 31, these rules seek to replace the Jammu and Kashmir State subjects law, recognised under Article 35A of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 35A entitled permanent residents of the State to free education along with reservation of government jobs, and sole rights to land ownership.
  • The new domicile rules entitle anyone who has worked or lived in the State for 15 years, or studied there for seven years, to receive a domicile certificate and the benefits previously reserved for permanent residents.
  • Curiously, they also entitle Union government officials who have served in the State for 10 years to domicile, along with their non-resident children.
  • List of the categories of those eligible:members of the Indian Administrative Services (including those working in statutory bodies), public sector units and banks, central universities and ‘recognised research institutes of the Central government (sic)’.
  • The clear bias to favour not only Union government officials but also their children smacks of instating(establish)privileges that many State and Union governments began to do away with as civil service salaries rose in the early 2000s, and the demographic pressure on urban spaces mounted.
  • That this bias continues to exist in some parts of the country is shameful for any democracy; that it has been imposed on J&K without the acquiescence(conscent)of its elected leaders is an absolute violation.


  • BJP spokesmen argue that the new domicile rules were necessary since many marginalised groups were denied their rights under the State subject law, such as refugees from west Pakistan.
  • The argument is ill-founded. What prevented the Modi administration from expanding the permanent resident category to include these groups, without doing away with it altogether?
  • How can it possibly be necessary for 12 million people to reapply for domicile when the groups to benefit number a few lakhs?
  • Ruling party spokesmen ask what the fuss is about, when their intent was stated in the party manifesto and followed through by the President and Parliament of India.


  • They ignore the fact that the presidential orders and Reorganisation Act of August 2019, including all actions that follow from them, are under constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court.
  • A democratic government that upholds the rule of law would freeze implementation until the court rules, but the Modi administration proceeded to build facts on the ground with astonishing rapidity.
  • Within months of the August announcements, separate committees were set up to divide Jammu and Kashmir’s assets between the two new Union Territories. The State police was put under direct rule by the Union Home Ministry.
  • The Upper House of the Assembly was abolished.
  • Land was requisitioned for sale to industry, national tourist conglomerates were invited to take over what was a flourishing local industry, and mining rights were sold to non-Kashmiri contractors.
  • All the former State’s statutory bodies were dissolved, including the State Human Rights Commission. Power was concentrated in the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor and his advisers, all but one of whom were from outside the former State.
  • The J&K Legislature remains dissolved, many of its political leaders remain under detention and forbidden to speak, a ban remains in force on all public gatherings and the media are intimidated.
  • Even so, protest against the new domicile rules has been voiced by all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, except the BJP.
  • Indications are that their protests will be ignored. BJP General-Secretary calls the new domicile rules a done deal, implying that the Modi administration will not review them.


  • Most people in Jammu and Kashmir saw Article 35A and the State subject law as the last remaining bastion of the State’s internal autonomy, guaranteed under the instrument of accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.
  • Successive Union governments chipped away at the former State’s powers, but none touched Article 35A or the State subject law.
  • Gradually the two grew to be inextricably(in a way that is impossible to separate)tied to Kashmiri identity and, equally importantly, Kashmiri empowerment through education and employment.
  • As armed insurgency rose in the 1990s, many Kashmiri political leaders raised fears of an Indian intention to alter(change)the demography of the Muslim-majority Valley and several Jammu districts.
  • Until 2019, these fears seemed a bogey(evil or mischievous spirit)to intensify Kashmiri alienation(seperatism).
  • However, the August 2019 nullification(cancellation)of autonomy and division of the State, which overrode the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and dismissed Article 35A, turned the bogey into an immediate threat which the domicile rules have now actualised.


  • With the fall of this last bastion, disaffection has exponentially multiplied in Jammu and Kashmir. Armed encounters are on the rise and the security situation is extremely fragile(weak).
  • Blaming it on Pakistan is futile(useless). Pakistan has always taken advantage of disaffection in the Valley, indeed China is now doing so too.
  • As a result of the Modi administration’s Kashmir policy, India will have to face mounting(increasing)security threats on its western front, and the people of J&K the systematic denial of their rights.

Q.6. The China’s changing strategic diplomacy can results in the difficult external environment?


  • The author of the article, Vijay Gokhale, a former Foreign Secretary of India, analyzes the changes in Chinese diplomacy over the years.

Zhou Enlai Era:


  • As against the charismatic Mao Zedong who had famously stated that “power flows out of the barrel of a gun”, Zhou Enlai opted for a more refined approach. Zhou Enlai adopted the strategy of persuasion and compromise to seduce his opponents and challengers both domestically and internationally.
  • The use of force was rare and only when all other means of persuasion failed.
  • The Chinese diplomatic strategy was consistent: avoid isolation, build solidarity with non-aligned countries, divide the West. The tactics were called ‘united front’ which involved isolating the main threat by building unity with all other forces.

Significant events:

War in Korean peninsula:

  • During the war in the Korean peninsula, Zhou Enlai first tried to convey Chinese concerns to the advancing U.S. forces against further advancement. This he tried to convey through diplomatic channels rather than choosing to do so in the public domain. This shows that Zhou Enlai always chose to give diplomacy a chance.
  • When, however, the U.S., regardless of Chinese concerns, crossed the 38th Parallel, the Chinese attacked and brought the U.S. forces to a standstill.

Indochina War:

  • In 1954, the Vietnamese were winning against the French in the First Indochina War, and the Americans were preparing to intervene on the side of the French, fearing an increasing spread of communism.
  • China’s self-interest lay in ending the war while denying the U.S. a foothold in its backyard.
  • Instead of direct confrontation, Zhou’s strategy was to undermine western unity. Zhou’s tactful intervention in placating French concerns played an important role in de-escalating tensions.

Bandung Conference:

  • At the Afro-Asian Conference of 1955 in Bandung, Zhou Enlai deliberately kept a low profile, allowing India and Indonesia to take the lead. This allowed China to create conducive conditions for establishing diplomatic work or diplomatic relations between China and a number of Afro-Asian countries.

Cold war era:

  • Despite being ideologically similar to Soviet Union, China navigated the Cold War deftly by playing the Soviets and Americans against each other.
  • China maintained ties with both blocs.

Taiwan issue:

  • In February 1972, Zhou Enlai persuaded U.S. President Richard Nixon to abandon Taiwan ties and adopt a one China policy, despite the fact that the communists had not exercised actual sovereignty over that island even for a single day since 1949. It was a staggering act of diplomacy.


  • Zhou’s style of diplomacy came to define Chinese foreign policy over the next half-century.
  • This helped China expand its global presence and gain international acceptability.

Deng Xiaoping era:

  • Deng Xiaoping took over the Chinese premiership in the 1980s in the early days of China’s opening up to the outside world.


  • Deng supplemented Zhou’s strategy with a “24-Character Strategy” involving significant aspects like measured response to changes, securing gradually Chinese position in the global order, while hiding its capacities and maintaining a low profile and not claiming leadership.
  • The same strategy was employed by Chinese diplomats who measured their words and kept their dignity even while projecting power.
    • They built relationships by making it a point to engage the less-friendly interlocutors with greater courtesies than friends.
    • They resorted to extensive negotiations to understand the other side better.
    • Though occasionally and subtly they would hold out a veiled threat, their actions rarely offended any country.

Significant events:

  • China played host to many significant global leaders in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • China normalised relations with many nations and won over many nations through general financial help.
    • The successful Chinese diplomacy led to Americans breaking their own sanctions imposed after the 1989 ‘Tian An Men Incident’.
  • Based on Chinese assurances that it would soon transition to a market economy, the U.S. and the European Union helped steer China into the World Trade Organization.

Current era:

  • China has begun to occupy centre stage in world diplomacy, but there have been significant changes in the Chinese Diplomatic efforts.


  • The most distinctive aspects of current Chinese diplomacy are:
    • More assertive approach.
    • Lesser emphasis on persuasion and negotiations and increasing unilateralism.
    • Lesser tolerance of countries taking actions contrary to Chinese wishes.
    • Adoption of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Recent events:

  • The Chinese have pursued unilateralism instead of negotiations in the South China Sea.
  • China has resorted to repeated border skirmishes with neighbouring countries.
  • China has not been accepting blame for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Unilateralism and a one-size-fits-all approach have replaced the Zhou and Deng strategy of persuasion and compromise.
  • The reserves of goodwill earned by China over years are fast depleting.
  • Post-COVID-19, China would be operating in a very difficult external environment.

Q.7. The Pakistan’s internal changes leads to its own destruction, what are the possible concerns that can effect India’s interest?


  • The author of the article analyses how Pakistan is both possibly the leading perpetrator of terrorism and also a victim of terrorism.

Terrorism as a policy:

  • Many of the current terrorist groups were deliberately created by the Pakistani state to serve its purposes.
  • The Pakistani state has involved itself in a deliberate policy of creating and fostering terrorist groups in order to engage in low intensity warfare with its neighbours.


  • Pakistan first operationalized this strategy in Afghanistan following the overthrow of Zahir Shah by his cousin Daud Khan in 1973, and intensified it with the cooperation of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia after the Marxist coup of 1978.
  • It continues to provide support to forces which are fighting against the democratically elected government in Afghanistan.


  • The Soviet withdrawal in 1989 left the Pakistani military with a large surplus of Islamist fighters that it had trained and armed. Pakistan, by pushing these Islamic fighters into Kashmir, has tried intensifying the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley.

Threat by terrorism to Pakistan:


  • The Afghan episode radicalised a substantial segment of the Pakistani population, especially in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab.

Deepened sectarian divisions:

  • The Afghan episode also augmented sectarian divisions, not only between Sunnis and Shias, but also among various Sunni sects, especially between the puritanical Deobandis and the more syncretic and Sufi-oriented Barelvis.

Attacks within Pakistan:

  • With changed positions, wherein the Pakistan government, under American pressure, decided to collaborate with the US in the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, there have been increased terrorist attacks against the Pakistani establishment.
    • Terrorist organizations, like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has ideological affinity with the Afghan Taliban, has fought pitched battles with the Pakistan Army in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and parts of the NWFP (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa).
    • Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) given its ideological and sectarian inclinations has been engaged in launching terrorist attacks on targets within Pakistan as well, especially against the Shias and Sufi shrines.

Fallacy of categorizing terrorists:

  • The Pakistani efforts to support organizations allied with the Pakistani establishment’s interests, while curtailing other terrorist organizations seem to have backfired.
    • Pakistani establishments’ ability to control the various terrorist outfits is uneven and some of them have turned against the Pakistani establishment.
    • The use of terrorist outfits for state objectives involves huge risks given the potential blowback and negative consequences for the stability of the Pakistani state itself.

India’s concerns:

  • A number of terrorist groups have emerged inside Pakistan, which the Pakistan Army has co-opted for its use in Kashmir and the rest of India.

Terrorist attacks on India:

  • Apart from the Mumbai attack of 2008, the attack on the Indian Parliament and other high profile attacks on India, terrorist attacks continue unabated in Kashmir.

Continued support for terrorist organizations:

  • The evidence in the Mumbai attack of 2008 clearly indicates terrorist organizations’ operations are coordinated with the Inter-Services Intelligence, that provides it with intelligence and logistical support in addition to identifying specific targets.
  • The Lashkar-e-Taiba  (LeT) and its front organisations responsible for various attacks in India have continued to receive the Pakistani military’s patronage and support.
  • Hafiz Saeed was, until recently, provided protection by the Pakistani state despite being designated an international terrorist by the UN and the U.S. putting a $10 million bounty on his head.

Non sincere measures against terrorist organizations:

  • The recent sentencing of Saeed to 11 years for terror financing activities seems to be a move to stave off the global anti-terror watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), blacklisting Pakistan as a terror financing state.

Terrorism as a global threat:

  • The terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan poses risks not only for its immediate neighbourhood and the Pakistani state itself, but the whole world at large.
  • Borrowing from the line,  “poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere”, in the case of terrorism it could be stated that “terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere”.

  1. 8. The standard of education is a prior concern for long time. Discuss the recent SC’s judgement NEET?


  • Recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).


  • NEET was initially struck down as unconstitutional in Christian Medical College, Vellore case (2013) by a 2:1 majority. 
  •  In 2016, NEET notifications were incorporated as statutory provisions under the Medical Council of India Act and the Dentists Act.
  • In 2016, a review petition was allowed and NEET was made compulsory even prior to a full hearing by the constitution Bench. 


  • The Supreme Court in its judgment has held that there is no fundamental right violation in prescribing National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions of graduate and post-graduate programs in medical and dental courses across aided and unaided minority professional institutes and has upheld the NEET examination for institutes across the country.
  • The SC has held that a uniform entrance examination like NEET helps weed out evils from the system and various malpractices which have decayed the educational system.


  • The author of the article expresses concerns over the recent judgment and argues that key concerns of NEET have been overlooked by the SC bench.

Disadvantaging students:

  • With NEET and similar other national tests such as the Joint Entrance Examination and Common Law Admission Test, coaching institutes are prospering and gaining undue influence over the coaching industry.
  • The large-scale variation in the syllabus and standards of the Central Board of Secondary Education and State boards place at a disadvantage the students coming from state boards.
  • The author argues that in the case of multiple tests a student tends to gain due to the following reasons:
    • If a student falls ill or has not done well in one test, he/she will still have a chance to qualify in another without losing a year. 
    • It gives a student a right to select an institution of his choice. 

Element of class:

  • Though the SC bench notes that NEET promotes merit, the author argues that true meritocracy requires competition and equality of opportunity. 
    • Since most of the coaching institutes are located in cities, poorer students from a rural background and who have studied in the vernacular medium face a disadvantage. 
  • Empirical research in the United States on standardised common tests has found that these tests are biased against the poorer and underprivileged sections of population, women and minorities. Thus there is an element of class in NEET that the Indian judiciary has so far overlooked.

Minority rights:

  • SC has stated that the minority institutions are equally bound to comply with the conditions imposed under the relevant Acts and regulations to enjoy affiliation and recognition.
  • The author argues that minority rights are not the violation of the equality provision in Article 14 as the Constitution does permit classification. Substantive equality, as opposed to formal equality, mandates differential treatment. 
  • The author argues that the rights of minority institutions are being violated through the regulation measures of the government.
  • Though minority institutions cannot grant admission based on their whims and fancies, but if such an institution follows an identifiable or reasonable methodology of admitting students, the imposition of NEET with mandatory centralised counselling is indeed an unreasonable restriction on these institutions.
  • Even if one concedes the necessity of NEET, centralised counselling due to which several minority institutions and private medical colleges are unable to fill their seats is indeed an ‘intolerable encroachment’ of the rights of minority institutions. 
  • This leads to the denial of Article 30 rights of minority institutions and Article 19(g) rights of private unaided institutions. The Supreme Court has upheld the importance of Article 30 time and again through its numerous judgments.

Lessens autonomy of institutes:

  • The NEET exam is a clear case of centralization in the educational sector.
  • The author argues that NEET lessens the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions, particularly private, unaided ones.

Increasing government domination of the educational process:

  • The author argues that exclusive control of education by the State may have undesirable impacts on the society. Institutions of higher learning controlled and managed by governmental agencies may promote the political purposes of the State. 
  • The author argues that the trend towards the governmental domination of the educational process must be resisted in the interest of democracy.

Other concerns:

  • NEET paper has been leaked twice in the last four years and therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency. 
  • In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation.
  • Some argue that common admission tests cannot measure abilities that are essential for learning such as imagination, curiosity and motivation


Q.9. Discuss the role of cooperative federalism, what are the major concerns related to it?


  • The article examines the strain on the principle of federalism due to the current circumstances in India.


Cooperative federalism:

  • In a traditional sense, federalism signifies the independence of the Union and State governments of a country, in their own spheres.
  • However, while framing the Indian Constitution, the Constituent Assembly carefully studied the constitutions of other federations like the U.S., Canada, Australia and Switzerland and adopted a ‘pick and choose’ policy to formulate a system suited uniquely to India’s need.
  • As a result, India’s Constituent Assembly became the first-ever constituent body in the world to embrace what has been referred to as ‘cooperative federalism’.
    • Cooperative federalism essentially is defined as the administrative cooperation between the Centre and the States, and a partial dependence of the States upon payments from the Centre.
    • Despite a strong Centre, cooperative federalism doesn’t necessarily result in weaker States.


  • The current circumstances under the pandemic crisis have severely strained the principle of federalism in India.

Fissures in cooperation:

  • The central government’s zone classifications into ‘red’ and ‘orange’ zones have evoked sharp criticisms from several States. The States have demanded more autonomy in making such classifications.

Lack of consultation:

  • Despite State consultation being a legislative mandate cast upon the Centre under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, there has been minimal consultation with the states and the guidelines issued so far have been mostly based on a top down approach.
    • The Disaster Management Act of 2005 envisages the creation of a ‘National Plan’ as well as issuance of binding guidelines by the Centre to States in furtherance of the ‘National Plan’. The Act mandates State consultations before formulating a ‘National Plan’, so that the binding guidelines issued under it, also represent the views of the States.
  • The Centre has not formulated a ‘National Plan’, and has chosen instead to respond to COVID-19 through ad hoc binding guidelines issued to States, thereby circumventing the legislative mandate of State consultations.

Centralized decision making:

  • The Centre has directed the State governments to strictly enforce the set of guidelines, prohibiting the States from lowering the Centre’s classifications. The selective application of the Act serves to concentrate all decision-making powers with the Centre.

Lack of funds:

  • The states are facing a huge financial burden:
    • Corporations donating to PM-CARES can avail CSR exemptions, whereas such provisions are not available for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. This disincentivizes donations to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and diverts crores in potential State revenues to PM-CARES and thus, makes the States largely dependent upon the Centre.
    • The revenue streams of several States have dried up because of the liquor sale ban, negligible sale of petrol/diesel, temporary halt of land dealings and registration of agreements.
    • States’ GST collections have been severely affected with their dues still not disbursed by the Centre.
  • This is a major concern given the fact that States act as the first responders to the pandemic, and supplying them with adequate funds is essential for effectively tackling the crisis.


  • The progress of the Indian Republic rests upon active cooperation between the states and the centre. Similarly, India’s success in defeating COVID-19 actively rests upon Centre-State collaboration.
  • The Centre needs to view the States as equals, and strengthen their capabilities, instead of increasing their dependence upon itself.


Q.10. Critically examine the Significance of Rajya Sabha. Discuss the historical references of the Rajya Sabha?


  • The article authored by the Vice President of India analyzes the origin of the Rajya Sabha as the second house of the Indian legislature.


History of legislature in India:

  • The central legislature that came into being under the Government of India Act, 1919, was bicameral with a Council of States comprising 60 members and a Legislative Assembly comprising 145 members. The membership and voting norms for the Council of States were very restrictive.
  • The Government of India Act, 1935 proposed an elaborate and improved version of the second chamber, but this never materialised.
  • The Constituent Assembly, which was formed in 1947, after adoption of the Constitution, became the Provisional Parliament and made laws till 1952.
  • The Rajya Sabha came into being in 1952.

Constituent Assembly debates:

  • The proposal for the Rajya Sabha as a second chamber was subjected to serious argumentation in the Constituent Assembly.

Arguments against Rajya Sabha:

  • Upper House was not essential and it was just a creation of imperialism in India.
  • The second house could stall the parliamentary process of law making and prove to be a “clog in the wheel of progress” of the nation.
  • There was opposition to parity of powers in law-making for the Upper House which had only indirectly elected members as against the lower house which had representatives directly elected by the people based on universal adult suffrage.

Arguments in favour of Rajya Sabha:

  • The second house would help check hasty legislation by allowing for a second thought on important issues.
  • It would lend voice to the constituent units in the legislative scheme of things.
  • It would allow intellectuals and experienced people to enter the legislature who would otherwise not be able to handle the hustle and bustle of direct elections.

Significance of Rajya Sabha:


  • Bicameralism is a principle that requires the consent of two differently constituted chambers of Parliament for making or changing laws.
  • The principle of bicameralism came into operation in 1787 with the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and its appeal has grown in strength over time. At present, 79 parliaments of the world (41% of the total number) are bicameral.

Checks parliamentary tyranny:

  • The second chamber enables a second and reflective expression of representative opinion besides helping impede any instances of parliamentary tyranny.
  • Parliament is not only a legislative body but also a deliberative one which enables the members to debate major issues of public importance and the second house has an important role as a deliberative body.
  • The lower house elected directly by the people is susceptible to passions of the moment and electoral considerations. The second chamber, whose members are expected to be sober, wise and well-informed with domain knowledge, can check parliamentary tyranny.


  • Federalism has been in vogue since ancient times when some states got together to confer the power of law-making on a central authority. But modern federalism is entirely different given the complexity of geographical, regional, social and economic diversities marking the constituent units of a federation or a union.
  • India has a huge degree of diversity with each unit having its own set of unique features.
  • The federal character of a nation comprising constituent units can be reflected in, and secured by a bicameral legislature.


  • As can be gleaned from the Constituent Assembly debates and the experiences of other Parliaments, the mandate of the Rajya Sabha is to revise or delay legislation without becoming a clog in the wheel of progress; to represent the interests of the States as a federal chamber; and be a deliberative body holding high-quality debates on important issues.

Additional information:

  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.


Q.11. Due to the COVID-19 the worlds geopolitical shift can be highlight. What opportunities India can seek from this shift?


  • Emerging geopolitical trends in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The author of the article discusses geopolitical trends which will define the contours of the emerging global order.

Asia ascending, U.S. waning:

Economic aspect:

  • Until the 18th century, Asia accounted for half the global GDP. The Industrial Revolution accompanied by European naval expansion and colonialism contributed to the rise of the West.
  • The 2008 global financial crisis and the resilience of the Asian economies led to the rise of Asia.
  • Current economic forecasts indicate that out of the G-20 countries, only China and India are likely to register economic growth during 2020 despite the global lockdown measures.

Response to the pandemic:

  • Asian countries have demonstrated greater agility and responsiveness in tackling the pandemic and more effective state capacity compared to the United States and Europe. Consequently, Asian economies will recover faster than those in the West.

Isolationist approach by the U.S.:

  • The U.S. had been at the forefront of shaping the global order in the last century.
    • The U.S. had a decisive role in the formation of the League of Nations after World War I, creation of the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions after World War II. It was leading the western world during the Cold War, moulding global responses to threats posed by terrorism or proliferation of weapons or climate change.
  • Recently, there has been the observed trend of retreat of the U.S. from global affairs.
    • The decision to exit from the Paris climate deal, the exit of America from UN agencies and halting of their funding mark the increasing isolationism on the part of the U.S.
  • Recent U.S. decisions and the “America first” policy have also generated resentment. Countries are losing trust in the U.S.’s leadership.
  • The U.S., though still continuing to be the largest economy and the largest military power, has lost the will and ability to lead.

Intra-European fission:

Existing challenges:

  • The European Union has been preoccupied with its very own internal challenges.
    • Ongoing Brexit negotiations.
    • The expansion of membership to include East European states has increased the internal divisions and made it increasingly difficult to reach agreement on political matters like relations with Russia and China. This has led to a North-South divide within the Eurozone.
    • The financial crisis in the Eurozone has also given rise to internal divisions. Strains in the EU showed up when austerity measures were imposed on Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal a decade ago by the European Central Bank, persuaded by the fiscally conservative Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

New challenges:

  • The trans-Atlantic divide in NATO member nations is aggravating an intra-European rift.
  • Rising populism has given greater voice to Euro-sceptics and calls for greater autonomy.
  • There has been a dearth of coordination and collaboration in the EU’s response to the pandemic.
    • European Central Bank (ECB) chief has ruled out lower borrowing rates for the affected member states.
    • Italy was denied medical equipment by its EU neighbours who introduced export controls, which led to China airlifting medical teams and critical supplies.
  • Schengen visa or free-border movement has been affected due to the lockdown and movement regulation measures. Free movement of goods, services, capital and people, which has been the underlying theme of the European Union faces a grave challenge.

Rising China:

  • There has been an emergence of a stronger and more assertive China in the global order.
    • Though China’s growing economic role has been visible since it joined the World Trade Organization, its more assertive posture has taken shape recently under President Xi Jinping’s leadership.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative seeks to connect China to Eurasia and Africa through both maritime and land routes by investing trillions of dollars in infrastructure building. This will give China greater strategic and economic heft in the region and world at large.
  • Chinese assertiveness has raised concerns in its neighbourhood and the world over.

New cold war:

  • The U.S. had initially assisted China’s rise and cooperated with it in the hope that an economically integrated China would become politically more open.
  • However in recent years, the U.S.-China relationship has moved from cooperation to competition, to trade and technology wars and is moving steadily to confrontation.
  • A partial economic de-coupling between the two economic giants had begun and will gather greater momentum in the days ahead.
  • The pandemic has seen increasing rhetoric from both China and the U.S.
    • The U.S. blames the pandemic on a Chinese biotech lab and accuses China of suppressing vital information that contributed to the spread.

Fading organisations:

  • Global problems demand global responses. However, with COVID-19, international and multilateral bodies seem to have been ineffective.
    • The World Health Organization (WHO), best suited to lead global efforts against the health crisis, has become a victim of politics.
    • The UN Security Council (UNSC), the G-7 and the G-20 remain ineffective in ensuring coordination and collaboration.
  • Global and multilateral institutions are witnessing the return of the damaging big power politics.
  • The absence of a multilateral response highlights the long-felt need for reform of these bodies but this cannot happen without collective global leadership.

Energy Factor:

  • The growing interest in renewables and green technologies on account of climate change concerns and the U.S. emerging as a major energy producer have fundamentally altered the energy markets.
  • The looming economic recession and depressed oil prices will exacerbate internal tensions in West Asian countries, which are solely dependent on oil revenues.
  • Long-standing rivalries in the region may now create political instability in countries where regime structures are fragile.

Greater unpredictability:

  • Rising nationalism and protectionist responses will prolong the economic recession into a depression, sharpening inequalities and polarisations.
  • This will lead to greater unpredictability and turbulent times in international relations.


Q.12. The holding burden of the pending cases is after the pandemic can be overburden. What are the possible ways to ensure the safety and overcrowd threat of the courts?


  • Working of the judiciary during and after the national lockdown.


Supreme Court Ruling for virtual functioning:

  • Invoking its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court had issued certain directions for the virtual functioning of courts during the lockdown.
    • A virtual court hearing is one where there is no physical court room. All the participants take part in proceedings using telephone or video conferencing facilities.
  • The Supreme Court (SC) had directed the State officials of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to work with the respective High Courts to formulate a plan for the virtual functioning of courts.
  • The SC had stated that the guidelines for virtual functioning of courts would be formulated by the NIC and sent to the respective courts and lawyers.
  • The district courts would follow the video conferencing rules as formulated by the respective High Courts.


  • The e-filing system was introduced in the Delhi High Court in 2009. In the Delhi High Court, e-filing is mandatory for company, taxation and arbitration jurisdictions. The facility for e-filing of cases pertaining to the Delhi High Court has been recently made available at all the court complexes of the Delhi district courts.
  • About 10 courts in the Delhi High Court function as e-courts. There are 13 e-courts functioning in the district courts attached to the Delhi High Court. Another 11 e-courts will soon be functional.
  • In the Bombay High Court, e-courts started functioning from 2013. Initially only company matters, arbitration and conciliation matters, income tax appeals and suits were allowed in e-courts. Now even writs, suits and testamentary matters are heard by e-courts.
  • In the Madras High Court, the facility for e-filing of cases was initially made available for bail applications. Filing of urgent cases through e-mail is also permitted now.

Current concerns of the judiciary:

Increase in volume of cases:

  • Though currently, there is less pressure on the courts now, this will change once the lockdown is lifted. There is an expectation that there will be a deluge of new cases after the lockdown is lifted.

Threat of infection:

  • Since the COVID-19 crisis is far from over, once the lockdown is lifted, unless the number of advocates/litigants is restricted in open court proceedings, the possibility of the virus spreading is high.

Call for open court system:

  • The Bar Council of India has opposed the continuation of virtual hearings once the national lockdown is lifted. It has argued that 90% of the advocates and judges are “unaware of technology and its nuances”.

Non implementation of SC guidelines:

  • The NIC has not yet notified the guidelines as mandated by the SC.

Challenges to adoption of e-court system:

Lack of necessary infrastructure:

  • International experience with respect to e-court system highlights the need to put in place the necessary infrastructure to facilitate remote court hearings. This is lacking in most courts in India.
  • Though some form of foundation for an e-court system is available in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, they are not available in the subordinate courts, which bear a large burden of the cases.

Lack of knowledge and capability:

  • In India, most advocates and litigants are unaware of and unwilling to use e-filing services.
    • E-filings and e-court processes involve a certain amount of technical knowledge and capability.

Way forward:

  • The courts should formulate plans based on the availability of infrastructure to conduct virtual hearings or actual hearings, or by running courts in shifts.
  • Suitable safety measures with strict social distancing norms must be put in place for conducting proceedings after the lockdown is lifted.
    • Only those lawyers/litigants whose cases are listed for the day’s hearing should be allowed to enter court halls.
    • The lawyers must enter in batches according to the serial number in the list.
    • Thermal image cameras must be installed at the entrance of every court building, to identify risk persons.
    • Every person entering the court premises must install the Aarogya Setu app on their phones.
    • The entrance of every court complex must have an automatic hand wash faucet installed.
    • Protective equipment like masks, gloves and sanitizers should be made available.
  • The judiciary must be allotted sufficient funds. The lack of allocation of sufficient funds to improve and strengthen technical support for the judiciary has resulted in inefficient use of technology in the judiciary


Q.13. Discuss the issues related to the PM CARES Fund and the PM’s National Relief Fund?


  • Setting up of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, or the PM CARES Fund.


  • The PM CARES Fund was set up to tackle distress situations such as that posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Prime Minister chairs the fund in his official capacity and can nominate three eminent persons in relevant fields to the Board of Trustees. The Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.


Contribution guidelines:

  • The fund receives voluntary contributions from individuals and organisations and does not get any budgetary support.
  • Donations have been made tax-exempt and can be counted against a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations.
  • Contributions to PM CARES fund are exempt from the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010, and accept foreign contributions.

Donations collected:

  • In a short frame of time, PM CARES has received a large number of donations.
    • By the first week of its inception, news reports suggested that publicly declared donations added up to at least ₹6,500 crores.


Duplication of efforts:

  • India already has a fund with similar objectives in the form of the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
    • PMNRF was set up in January 1948, originally to accept public contributions for the assistance of Partition refugees but lately, it has also been used to provide immediate relief to the families of those killed in natural calamities and the victims of major accidents and riots and support medical expenses for acid attack victims and others.
    • The Prime Minister has sole discretion for fund disbursal from PMNRF.
    • A joint secretary in the PMO administers the fund on an honorary basis.
    • As of December 2019, the PMNRF had an unspent balance of 3,800 crore rupees in its corpus.

Concerns with respect to contribution:

  • Some of the public and private sector employees, who have donated a day’s salary to the fund, claim that it was done without their permission or knowledge.
  • Protests have been raised against companies such as Reliance which have made major donations to PM CARES even while cutting salaries of their own employees.
  • Allowing uncapped corporate donations to the fund to count as CSR expenditure goes against previous guidelines which state that CSR should not be used to fund government schemes.
    • Such a provision is not available under PMNRF.
  • There is also the provision for unlimited tax-free contributions from major corporates. This provision is liable for misuse.

Lack of transparency:

  • Even though independent auditors will be auditing the fund, it is still not clear whether the fund comes under the ambit of the RTI Act or the oversight of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  • The Centre has neither stated the exact amount of money collected in the PM CARES Fund, nor has laid down clear guidelines on the usage of the collected funds.
  • There is very less information available regarding the names of donors, the expenditure of the fund so far, or names of beneficiaries.


Q.14. Discuss the laws that enacted during crisis, what are the issues it upholds?

  1. India needs to enact a COVID-19 law
  • The editorial throws light upon the lack of coordination between the Union and State governments revealed by the ad-hoc and reactive rule-making, highlighting the need for India to enact a COVID-19 law.

Laws Governing Lockdown:

  • The lockdown has been carried out by State governments and district authorities on the directions of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, which was intended to provide for the effective management of disasters and matters related to it.
    • Under the Act, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up under the leadership of the Prime Minister, and the National Executive Committee (NEC) was chaired by the Home Secretary.
  • The NDMA and NEC issued orders directing the Union Ministries, State governments and authorities to take effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    • It laid out guidelines illustrating which establishments would be closed and which services suspended during the lockdown period.
    • Taking a cue from the guidelines, the State governments and authorities exercised powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 to issue further directions.
  • All these orders constitute the legislative umbrella governing the lockdown.


  • The invoking of the Disaster Management Act has allowed the Union government to communicate seamlessly with the States. However, serious questions remain whether the Act was originally intended to or is sufficiently capable of addressing the threat of a pandemic.
  • Also, the use of the archaic Epidemic Diseases Act reveals the lack of requisite diligence and responsiveness of government authorities in providing novel and innovative policy solutions to address a 21st century problem.
  • Another serious failing is that any violation of the orders passed would be prosecutable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code – an ineffective and broad provision dealing with disobedience of an order issued by a public servant.
  • The ambiguous orders regarding inter-State movement has left the fate of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to be handled by district administrations with inadequate resources.
  • This has also exposed the lack of coordination between the Union and State governments.

Examples from across the globe:

  • Many countries have passed laws, setting out unambiguous conditions and legally binding obligations.

United Kingdom:

  • The U.K. enacted the Coronavirus Act, 2020, which is a comprehensive legislation dealing with all issues connected with COVID-19.
  • The legislation includes emergency registration of healthcare professionals, temporary closure of educational institutions, audio-visual facilities for criminal proceedings, powers to restrict gatherings, and financial assistance to industry.


  • Singapore has passed the Infectious Diseases Regulations, 2020.
  • It provides for issuance of stay orders which can send ‘at-risk individuals’ to a government-specified accommodation facility.
  • As such, under Singaporean law, the violators may be penalised up to $10,000 or face six months imprisonment or both. 
    • In contrast, Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code has a fine amount of ₹200 to ₹1,000 or imprisonment of one to six months.
    • The proceedings under Section 188 can only be initiated by a private complaint and not through a First Information Report.
    • Offences arising out of these guidelines and orders have a weak basis in terms of criminal jurisdiction thereby weakening the objectives of the lockdown.

Way forward:

  • In India, both Houses of Parliament functioned till March 23, 2020, when they were adjourned sine die.
    • There were a number of interventions regarding COVID-19 by opposition members through the session.
    • Also, there has been little clarity on a road map to economic recovery.
  • In past instances, the Union Government has not shied away from promulgating ordinances.
  • These circumstances call out for legislative leadership, to assist and empower States to overcome COVID-19 and to revive their economic, education and public health sectors.
  • A consolidated, pro-active policy approach is the need of the hour.
  • The Union Government must draft or enact a COVID-19-specific legislation that could address all the issues pre-emptively.


Q.15. What is the role of election commission in pandemic, what are the extra responsibilities it holds during crisis?


  • Polls to nine legislative council seats in Maharashtra will be held on May 21, 2020.


  • Uddhav Thackeray took oath on the 28th of November, 2019 as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He is heading the 3 party coalition of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena called Maha Vikas Aghadi. The coalition has the majority in the House.
  • The elections, scheduled to be held on March 26, 2020, were postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic, by the Election Commission (EC), which used its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution, along with Section 153 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.


  • As a non-legislator Chief Minister, the current Maharashtra CM is entitled to occupy his office for a period of 6 months.
  • He is therefore, under a constitutional mandate to get himself elected. If he is unable to do so “he ceases to be a minister”.
  • The issue is that, he completes 6 months in office on the 28th of May 2020.
  • A double application of Article 164 (4) to extend this period for another six months was out of the question as the Supreme Court, in S.R. Chaudhuri v. State of Punjab and Ors (August 17, 2001), had declared that it would be tantamount to a subversion of the principle of representative government.


  • By deciding to hold elections during a pandemic, the EC has taken up a big responsibility.
  • Though only the 288 members of the Vidhan Sabha will be voting in this election, the EC will have to ensure strict implementation of the Health Ministry’s guidelines.
  • A bigger cause for concern for the EC are the upcoming Assembly elections for Bihar (which must be concluded by November 29, 2020), West Bengal (May 30, 2021), Assam (May 31, 2021), Kerala (June 1, 2021), Tamil Nadu (May 24, 2021) and Puducherry (June 8, 2021).

What are the options available?

  • Unlike the Rajya Sabha/Legislative Council elections which can be postponed indefinitely, the EC can postpone elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for a period of only six months, the constitutionally defined limit between two sessions of the House/Assembly (Article 85(1) and Article 174(1) of the Constitution, respectively).
  • For a further period of extension, the executive will be faced with two possibilities.
    1. The first is condition to Article 172(1) whereby during a state of Emergency, an election can be postponed for one year in addition to a period of six months after the Emergency is lifted.
      • The rider, however, is that a state of Emergency can be declared only if there is a threat to the security and sovereignty of the nation, not if there is an epidemic or a pandemic.
    1. The second option is to declare President’s rule in the State, enabled by Article 356(1) of the Constitution.
      • Its limits have been repeatedly defined by the Supreme Court.

Way Forward – South Korea’s Model:

  • It is noteworthy that India will not be the only country to hold elections during this pandemic.
  • According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, nine countries have already held national elections and referendums during this public health crisis.
  • South Korea, being one among them, conducted its national election with 44 million voters in the midst of the pandemic. It is could be a good source of inspiration for the Election Commission.

South Korean Elections:

  • South Korea took to prepare a fool-proof plan.
  • South Korea disinfected polling centres, and mandated that voters practise physical distancing, wear gloves and masks and use hand sanitisers.
  • Voters had their temperatures checked on arrival at the booths.
  • Those who had a temperature above 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit were sent to booths in secluded areas.
  • The interests of infected voters and the interests of those suspected of having the virus were not ignored: COVID-19-positive voters were allowed to mail their ballots.
  • Self-quarantined voters were allowed to vote after 6 p.m.


  • Some experts say that the COVID-19 pandemic could last for two years. Deferring elections for such a long time would be against the spirit of democracy and federalism, which are the basic components of the Constitution. As a result, holding elections seems to be the only way out.
  • The EC has a difficult task of sticking to its goal of ‘No Voter Left Behind’ while also ensuring that the elections do not turn into a public health nightmare.
  • The EC could adopt targeted measures for older voters who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Options like proxy voting under a well-established legal framework, postal voting, and mobile ballot boxes can be explored.


Q.16. What do you understand by Weaponisation. Critically comment on its aspects. What is India’s role?


Post-war Multilateral Order:

  • The underpinning assumption of the post-war multilateral system was that peace and prosperity went hand in hand.
  • Some like-mindedness and a commonly-held purpose were also assumed among members: increasing economic integration and shared prosperity would help enhance these affinities and contribute to peace.
  • Countries with fundamentally different domestic systems of governance did not form a part of this multilateral order, as was the case with the Soviet bloc in the Cold War years.

Weaponisation of Interdependence:

  • None of our multilateral institutions was built for a world where the ties of interdependence, which were supposed to enhance the well-being of all, could themselves be weaponized for nationalistic gain, at the expense of other players.
  • The misuse of existing rules (or loopholes within the existing rules) by several countries, especially by China (e.g. via forced technology requirements, intellectual property rights violations, and subsidies), to gain an unfair advantage in trade relations was already attracting critique in the recent years.
  • But the pandemic has provided some alarming illustrations of how damaging the Weaponisation of global supply chains can be.


  • The pandemic has heightened the crisis of multilateralism, not created it.
  • Amidst the many cracks in the system, it has deepened one especially dangerous fault-line: multilateralism, in its current form, is incapable of dealing with misuse by systemic rivals.
  • As death tolls rose, many countries responded with export restrictions on critical medical supplies. This is almost inevitable given the absence of adequate stocks within countries, and little in the rules to curb export restraints.
  • Recognising the shortages that countries were facing — masks, personal protective equipment, ventilators and more — to deal with COVID-19, China offered to sell these products to countries in need.
  • For instance, when the European Union (EU) put up export restrictions, China stepped in at Serbia’s request.

Weaponisation of supply chain – China’s Diplomacy:

  • When India complained that test kits imported from China were faulty, China slammed it for irresponsible behaviour.
  • When Australia indicated that it would conduct an independent investigation of China’s early handling of the epidemic, China threatened it with economic consequences.
  • Add to this the dangers of using faulty equipment on critical patients, plus the risks that several actors, including the EU and India, see of predatory takeovers of their companies by China.
  • The pandemic is teaching countries, through bitter experience, that weaponised interdependence is not just a theory but a practice that is rapidly evolving.
  • It can have life and death consequences.
  • Against this background, repeated calls by heads of governments and international organisations urging countries to remain committed to multilateralism seems unconvincing.

Way forward:

  • There is a need for reassurance and policies that reflect a renewed commitment to the existence of multilateralism.
    • The United States must demonstrate in word and deed that autarchy is not the way forward and that it remains committed to strengthening global supply chains which are based on the promise of ensuring global stability and the attendant promise of peace and prosperity.
  • There is an urgent need for some strategic decoupling, handled smartly in cooperation with other like-minded countries.
    • A multilateralism that recognises the need for decoupling will necessitate closer cooperation with some and distancing from others.
    • Membership of such renewed multilateral institutions would not be universal; rather, one would limit deep integration to countries with which one shares first-order values — such as pluralism, democracy, liberalism, animal welfare rights, and more.

India’s Role:

  • It is believed that India is uniquely positioned to help resuscitate multilateralism.
  • As some constituencies in the West seek a gradual decoupling from China, they would be well served to look toward India.
  • Countries have lost faith in China because of COVID-19 and the apparent malfeasance and the opaqueness with which it has dealt with the crisis. Its image as a reliable partner has suffered a huge dent.
  • Neither aid diplomacy nor the unleashing of Chinese soft power can easily recover the trust deficit that exists today between China and much of the rest of the world.
  • At a time when China is facing a global crisis of credibility, India may consider an attempt at mediation; to temper what is increasingly seen as Beijing’s unilateralist revisionism; revive the promise of the gradual socialisation of China into the international system; and its acceptance of the norms and rules that regulate the principal multilateral institutions.
  • The current crisis in multilateralism could be a remarkable opportunity for India, a country whose pluralism, democracy, and liberalism have often been underestimated by the West.
  • To make use of the opportunities, for itself and for the provision of certain global public goods, India’s cooperation with like-minded actors will be key.
  • India could work closely with the Alliance for Multilateralism (an initiative launched by Germany and France) to shape both the alliance itself and the reform agenda at large.
    • Working together with a group of countries from the developed and developing world could further amplify India’s voice.
  • With the United States facing multiple internal challenges including the prospects of a deeply divisive Presidential election, India (together with like-minded partners even beyond the usual suspects) could assume leadership in strengthening constructive transnational cooperation.


To reduce the further spread of the virus, to develop effective medical treatments, and to curtail the worst effects of the inevitable recession that is already in the offing, cooperation among nations will be necessary. But the issue is that multilateralism is possibly at its weakest today, when the need for it is more dire than ever before. Unless the fundamental problem is addressed, no meaningful fix would be possible


  1. 17. The centric approach always not works, bottom-up approach have significant results to effectively tackle the issues that raised due to the present crisis? Comment?


  • Kerala’s relatively successful attempt in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Kerala has been relatively successful in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Kerala appears to have flattened the curve with zero fresh cases on three days in May 2020. Over the past two weeks, the numbers of new cases reported have remained either the same or fewer than the number of recoveries.
    • The state has reported only a small number of cases (499) thus far.
    • The recovery rate has been good and there have been just three deaths. The case fatality rate of Kerala stands at 0.6% as against the national average of 3.3%.
  • The ICMR has lauded Kerala for its containment and testing strategies and referred to it as the “Kerala model”.

Reasons behind the success:


  • Kerala state had containment strategies in place even before the first case of novel coronavirus was detected in Kerala.
  • When the number of cases began increasing, even before WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Kerala shut down all educational institutions and entertainment centres, banned large gatherings and appealed to people to avoid visiting religious places.


  • Kerala, which had witnessed a 2018 Nipah outbreak, fully realized the merits of containing virus transmission by quickly tracing all the contacts, and ensured extensive contact tracing and testing, as a result of which, the containment efforts have yielded results.
  • There has been active involvement of all the stakeholders who have complemented each other during the crisis.
  • There has been strict adherence to epidemiology protocols.
  • There has been a close and complete involvement of the government at all levels with the bureaucracy and local community.

Existing scenario in Kerala:

  • Given the legacy of decades-old social revolution and development, Kerala has very good health-care infrastructure in place, down to the primary health-care centres.
  • The health-seeking behaviour of the people and high literacy in Kerala have also played a pivotal role in the war against the pandemic.

Way forward:

  • Despite the impressive performance of Kerala, under no circumstances can the State lower its guard given the possibility of a resurgence of the outbreak.


Q.18. The adaptation of a system of virtual judiciary in cases can reduce the burden or can create new security threat. To balance these state your views?


  • The article evaluates the advantages of adopting a system of virtual judiciary in tax cases.


  • During the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, it has become clear that many activities can be done online.
  • In these exceptional circumstances, ‘work from home’ as a concept has been employed extensively, and it seems to have gained enough traction even in the post lockdown scenario.
  • The author evaluates the advantages of having a virtual judiciary for tax cases in India.

Arguments in favour of a virtual judiciary system:

Speedy disposal of cases:

  • The pendency of cases in various courts in India is huge.
  • The major concern with the present court system is that lawyers on both sides need to be physically present in court. Cases are often adjourned due to various reasons. Virtual judiciary can help address such avoidable adjournments.
  • Important submissions and papers can be submitted via mail. The productivity of lawyers will increase substantially as visits to courts and long waiting hours will be more of an exception than the rule.

Ease of legal access:

  • Thousands of Indians cannot afford to go to court as legal costs are high and legal procedures are complicated.
  • Since most tax cases do not necessitate personal hearings, the system of virtual judiciary can ease legal access to many.

More efficient system:

  • The Economic Survey of 2019-2020 evaluates the huge pendency of tax cases and revenue cases and argues for more court infrastructure and judges to solve the problem of pendency. However, the Survey fails to recognize the fact that the already existing infrastructure is grossly under-utilised.
    • Tribunals, such as the Income Tax Tribunal, function only for limited times. Judges are not accountable for efficiency and performance.
  • In the case of virtual judiciary, judges can decide the case based on all the information available transparently. Virtual judiciary will enhance the quality of the judgment and also eliminate obvious errors.
  • Virtual systems will help increase the efficiency of the judiciary.

Cost savings:

  • A virtual judiciary results in substantial savings in costs for both the judiciary as well as the litigants through the speedy disposal of cases.

Uniqueness of tax cases:

  • The fact that the jurisdiction of a court is defined by geography makes no sense in matters such as taxation and company law. All judges should be empowered to handle any case, wherever it originates.
  • The change to remote, non-personal electronic court hearings will bring several benefits.
    • Better utilisation of manpower and infrastructure by the equitable distribution of work.
    • Malpractices will be limited as there will no longer be familiarity between lawyers and judges in a city.
  • The use of the court hall to decide tax cases is superfluous. Many of these cases can be decided even without going to court. 


Q.19. Comment on India’s disease surveillance system. Discuss the challenges?


  • The author of the article discusses the concerns regarding the so called “silent epidemics” which, despite the high impact on health, receive very low attention.


Issue of Co-morbidity:

  • The available data with respect to COVID-19 cases in India shows that 75.3% of deaths have been concentrated in the age group of 60 years and above, and in 83% of deaths, the deceased were battling pre-existing identified health conditions.
  • The disease is lethal for those with compromised immunity brought on by age, existing respiratory infections, or essentially, malnutrition, and is referred to as co-morbidity in technical medical terms.


Vulnerability of the poor:

  • A large section of the Indian society continues to remain below the poverty line.
  • Poor people are the most affected due to diseases owing to their poor nutritional health which leads to low immunity in this section.
  • The poor have limited access to health care systems and are largely dependent on public health care systems.

Poor health conditions:

  • Despite having a young population, India is plagued by the issue of poor health condition of the vast majority of its population.
    • Respiratory Tract Infection kills over 900 people in India every day.
    • Acute Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (ALRTI), which affects mostly children below the age of five years, has been known to infect approximately 3.40 crore people every year worldwide and had led to roughly 66,000 to 199,000 deaths, with 99% of these deaths being reported from developing countries like India.
    • According to public health experts, one person contracts TB every 10 seconds, and up to 1,400 people in India die every day of the disease.
    • Non communicable and life style diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have a high frequency in India.
  • The large number of hospitalisations, deaths and suffering caused by contagious undifferentiated diseases indicate the prevalence of persistent but undeclared silent epidemics.

Side-stepping of other diseases:

  • The COVID crisis has led to the public health-care system in India prioritizing COVID patients and side-stepping other diseases.
    • Routine functioning, particularly of out-patient department services in public hospitals, has been severely affected, and only emergency cases are being entertained. There have been complaints from patients of high-handedness of hospital staff in the functioning emergency intensive care unit, labour rooms, tuberculosis (TB) wards, etc.
    • Cardiology and neurology departments that cater to elderly sick patients are turning away many in the bid to streamline “critical” cases.
  • There are many among the poor who are battling various diseases but now have little access to major public hospitals in the wake of the lockdown. This might further aggravate the poor health condition of a large section of people in India.

Poor disease surveillance:

  • Many of the adverse medical conditions prevalent among the vast majority of the people in our country are not even identified due to the lax disease surveillance system.
  • The reasons for the poor disease surveillance system in India can be attributed to the following factors
    • A significant number of the infected who are predominantly poor and marginalised people do not have access to health-care facilities and hence fail to report their condition to certified medical practitioners.
    • There is lack of sufficient testing (blood/serum, throat swab, sputum, stool, urine) to ascertain the cause of the diseases.
    • The prevailing practice among pathological laboratories is to categorise diseases on the basis of the pre-existing classificatory system which involves broad classification of diseases. There is no differentiation among pathogens on the basis of variations in groups, subgroups, strains, etc. This results in failure to identify the definitive cause for an illness.
      • Many ailments are simply clubbed together and referred to by generic names such as ‘Respiratory Tract Infection’ (RTI), ‘Urinary Tract Infection’, ‘Acute Febrile Illness (AFI)’, ‘Acute Undifferentiated Fever’, ‘Fever of Unknown Origin’ (FUO).

Lack of definitive knowledge:

  • The Indian health scenario is plagued by non-identification of a definitive cause behind a number of illnesses even though many of these diseases affect lakhs of people every year.

Lack of scientific research:

  • Even if the definitive cause of an illness is identified, it does not necessarily gain the focused attention of scientific research which has an effect on the disease control.
  • This can be owed to the selective, biased approach of mainstream scientific research that is driven by the profits of private pharmaceutical companies, and is the fallout of the lack of priority that governments assign to general health care and diseases of the poor.

Lack of appropriate efforts:

  • The availability of sufficient knowledge about a disease does not necessarily translate into action.
  • For example in case of TB, even though TB has a R0 value (basic reproduction number) and fatality rate much higher than those attributed to COVID-19 so far, it continues to receive limited attention from the health sector.
  • The author argues that since TB is largely a poor man’s disease, it fails to elicit necessary attention among the ruling elite.

Way forward:

  • Given the evidence regarding higher mortality due to COVID-19 among those with pre-existing identified health conditions, it is imperative that the already prevalent diseases and illnesses should not be ignored and these silent epidemics must receive the attention they deserve.

Q.20. Critically examine the role of BRICS in the current global threat?


  • BRICS initiatives in the fight against COVID-19.

Efforts by BRICS member nations:

  • In the global war against the novel coronavirus, member nations belonging to BRICS have reached out to other countries humbled by the pandemic.


  • India has reinforced its credentials as a rapidly emerging pharmacy of the world.
  • As the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, India has recently exported the drug not only to SAARC countries and to its “extended neighbourhood” in the Gulf, but also to Russia, Brazil, Israel and the U.S.
  • India has also extended a helping hand to other nations in the neighbourhood.
  • It has offered to send medical personnel to assist countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives.


  • Despite allegations of a lack of transparency on the origin of the virus, China has played an important role in containing the pandemic.
  • Despite some quality concerns, China has played an important role in providing masks, gloves, coveralls, shoe covers and testing kits to hotspots across the globe, leveraging its position as the workshop of the world.
  • Under its Health Silk Road doctrine, the Chinese has reached out to some of the worst global hotspots.


  • Despite fighting the virus at home, Russia sent its doctors and virologists overseas, including the launch of the famous ‘From Russia with love’ air mission to Italy.
  • Russia also aided the U.S. administration through medical supplies and experts.
  • Since Soviet times, Russia has top-of-the-line emergency services, which are equipped to handle any kind of emergency including biological attacks, nuclear radiation, and chemical weapon attacks.

South Africa:

  • South Africa, the current rotating head of the African Union, is engaged in framing a pan-African response to COVID-19.


  • Among the BRICS nations, only Brazil’s response may need a course correction, as its resistance to breaking the infection chains through travel bans, lockdowns, isolation and testing appears to have led to an infection surge.

Way forward:


  • Having demonstrated their comparative strengths as providers of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), BRICS countries now need to pool and coordinate their efforts, in partnership with the WHO and other affected regions as part of a global fight against the virus.
  • India can forge an inclusive BRICS-driven pharma alliance, which could actively explore the production of vaccines.

Focus on global south:

  • The BRICS interventions could have a special focus on the emerging economies and the global south, which are bound to be more affected by the pandemic and have lesser resilience.

Necessary resources:

  • The BRICS countries have to earmark resources and assets for the response.
  • The Shanghai-based New Development Bank of the BRICS countries has recently allocated financial resources to combat COVID-19. Apart from disbursing a $1 billion emergency loan to China, and subsequently to India, South Africa and Brazil, the NDB had the financial heft to provide $10 billion in “crisis-related assistance” to BRICS member countries.


Q.21. The global experiences can give the possible solutions to tackle the pandemic. What are the obstacles India still have can Taiwan’s worked measures give India a successful solution?

The editorial talks about Taiwan’s strategy in the containment of the spread of COVID-19 and its strategic preparedness to the threat of emerging infectious disease.

  • Despite its proximity to China, Taiwan ranked 123 among 183 countries in terms of confirmed cases per million people. 
  • This has shown that Taiwan’s aggressive efforts to control the epidemic are working.


  • The novel form of pneumonia that first emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019 and has since been classified as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic. 

Threat from infectious diseases:

  • The threat of emerging infectious diseases to global health and the economy, trade, and tourism has not subsided. 
  • Among the most salient examples are the Spanish flu of 1918, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, and the H1N1 influenza of 2009.
  • Intermittently, serious regional epidemics, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and the Zika virus in Central and South America in 2015-16 were also seen. 
  • Pandemics can spread rapidly around the world because of the ease of international transportation. A crisis anywhere readily becomes a problem everywhere. 

Taiwan’s strategy:

  • In the 17 years since it was hit hard by the SARS outbreak, Taiwan has been in a state of constant readiness to the threat of emerging infectious disease. 
  • As a result, when information concerning a novel pneumonia outbreak was first confirmed in December 2019, Taiwan began implementing on board quarantine of direct flights from Wuhan with immediate effect. 
  • Subsequently, Taiwan established a response team for the disease and activated the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) as a level 3 government entity, further upgrading it to level 2 and level 1.
  • The CECC is able to effectively integrate resources from various ministries and invest itself fully in the containment of the epidemic.

Harnessing technology:

  • Taiwan has implemented dynamic plans concerning border quarantine measures, including on-board quarantine, fever screening, health declarations, and a 14-day home quarantine for passengers arriving from nations it has listed under the Level 3 Warning. 
  • Taiwan has established an electronic system for entry quarantine, which allows passengers with a local mobile phone number to fill in health information using a mobile phone. 
  • A health declaration is issued as a text message. This is connected to the community care support management system, which allows government agencies to provide care services and medical assistance. 
  • The travel history of individuals is stored on the National Health Insurance (NHI) card to alert physicians to possible cases and prevent community transmission. 
  • For those undergoing home quarantine or isolation, the government is working with telecom operators to allow GPS tracking of their locations.
  • Quarantine offenders are subject to fines or mandatory placement according to relevant laws and regulations, so as to prevent transmission.
  • Taiwan has increased its laboratory testing capacity, expanded the scope of its surveillance and inspections.

Other significant measures:

  • Taiwan has banned the export of surgical masks. It has requisitioned masks, and expanded domestic mask production. This has helped it achieve an effective allocation of limited resources and meet health-care, epidemic prevention, household, and industrial needs.
  • Taiwan has fulfilled its responsibilities as a global citizen and abides by the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR 2005) in notifying WHO of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 
  • Moreover, Taiwan has communicated with other countries to share information on confirmed cases, travel and contact histories of patients, and border control measures.
  • Taiwan has uploaded the genetic sequence of COVID-19 to the GISAID Initiative, or the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). 


  • Taiwan, though not a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO), cannot stand alone and must be included in the fight against such threats and challenges.
  • Taiwan has long been excluded from WHO due to political considerations. 
  • Taiwan has worked with global partners to respond to the threat of COVID-19 to ensure that global health is not imperiled by a lack of communication and transparency.
  • Echoing the mantra of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, no one should be left behind.
  • Global health security requires the efforts of every person to ensure an optimal response to public health threats and challenges. 
  • WHO should not neglect the contributions to the global health security of any nation.
  • Taiwan hopes that after this pandemic abates, WHO will truly understand that infectious diseases know no borders and that no country should be excluded, lest it becomes a major gap in global health security.


  1. 22. In the present scenario what opportunities India can see in African continent?


  • Africa Day is observed every year on May 25 to commemorate(celebrate) the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (now known as the African Union).
  • India has been closely associated with it on account of its shared colonial past and rich contemporary ties.
  • The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses has hosted an Africa Day Round Table annually for the last four years in order to commemorate the event.
  • This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has marred(disturbed) the celebrations in India.
  • Africa, too, has come to a standstill(halt) due to the coronavirus.


  • The World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse is a biannual analysis of the near-term macroeconomic outlook for the region.
  • In it’s latest report, it assessed that the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked off the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region’s first recession in 25 years.
  • Growth is expected to plummet(decrease)to between -2.1 and -5.1 per cent in 2020, from a modest 2.4 per cent in 2019.
  • With high rates of HIV, malaria, diabetes, hypertension and malnourishment prevalent, a large number of Africans were already faced with a health and economic crisis.
  • The steep decline in commodity prices has spelt disaster for the economies of Nigeria, Zambia and Angola.


  • Precarious fiscal positions have ruled out any major governmental stimulus. Public debt has mounted.
  • According to the World Bank, the SSA region paid $35.8 billion in total debt service in 2018, 2.1 per cent of regional gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Together, African countries have sought a $100 billion rescue package, including a $44 billion waiver of interest payment by the world’s 20 largest economies.
  • The IMF’s debt service relief of $500 million is meant for 25 countries of which 19 are in Africa, but that is a drop in the bucket.
  • It is clear that without outside support, Africa will find it very difficult to meet the challenge.


  • Africa’s rich natural resources, long-term economic potential, youthful demography and influence as a bloc of 54 countries in multi-lateral organisations is apparent.
  • In recent years, several extra-regional economies have strengthened their engagement with African states, with an eye to rising economic opportunities, including in energy, mining, infrastructure and connectivity.
  • China’s engagement of Africa, as elsewhere, is huge but increasingly regarded as predatory and exploitative.
  • Its annual trade with Africa in 2019 stood at $208 billion, in addition to investments and loans worth $200 billion.
  • Traditionally, China’s participation in infrastructure projects has been astonishing.
  • Having famously built the 1,860 km Tanzania-Zambia railway line in 1975, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti and Mombasa-Nairobi lines more recently, China is now eyeing to develop the vast East Africa Master Railway Plan.
  • It is also developing the Trans-Maghreb Highway, the Mambilla Hydropower Plant in Nigeria, the Walvis Bay Container Terminal in Windhoek and the Caculo Cabaca Hydropower project in Angola.
  • At the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (COCAC) in 2018, China set aside $60 billion in developmental assistance, followed by a whopping $1 billion Belt and Road (BRI) Infrastructure Fund for Africa.
  • China has followed up with robust health sector diplomacy in the wake of the pandemic, but its image has been tarnished by defective supplies of PPE gear and discriminatory behaviour against Africans in Guangzhou, leading to an embarrassing diplomatic row.


  • Japan hosted the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in August 2019.
  • Russia hosted the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit last year.
  • Brazil, home to the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, has also sought to develop closer ties.
  • Cuba has sent medical teams to help Africa.


  • In the last few years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has redefined India’s relations with Africa.
  • India-Africa trade reached $62 billion in 2018 compared to $39 billion during 2009-10.
  • After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LOC) worth nearly $10 billion (42 per cent of the total) spread over 100 projects in 41 countries.
  • Ties were boosted at the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in 2015.
  • Forty per cent of all training and capacity building slots under the ITEC programme have traditionally been reserved for Africa.
  • Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in five conflict zones in Africa.
  • Bilateral cooperation includes solar energy development, information technology, cyber security, maritime security, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military training.
  • India has also launched several initiatives to develop closer relations, including the first-ever India Africa Defence Ministers conclave in February this year on the margins of the Defence Expo 2020.
  • India provides about 50,000 scholarships to African students each year. The huge Indian diaspora is a major asset


  • India had planned to host the Fourth India Africa Forum Summit in September this year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause it to be delayed.
  • India has already despatched medical assistance to 25 African countries and PM Modi has had a telephonic talk with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa who is the current chairperson of the African Union, and separately others such as the presidents of Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar has also reached out to counterparts in Africa to reiterate India’s support in the fight against the coronavirus.
  • India could consider structuring a series of virtual summits in zonal groups with African leaders across the continent over the next few months that could both provide a platform for a cooperative response to the pandemic and also serve as a precursor to the actual summit in the future.


  • There are several other ideas that could be pushed to deepen India’s engagement with Africa.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs has already extended the e-ITEC course on “COVID-19 Pandemic: Prevention and Management Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals” to healthcare workers in Africa.
  • The Aarogya Setu App and the E-Gram Swaraj App for rural areas for mapping COVID-19 are technological achievements that could be shared with Africa.
  • Since the movement of African students to India for higher education has been disrupted, India may expand the e-VidyaBharti (tele education) project to establish an India-Africa Virtual University.
  • Agriculture and food security can also be a fulcrum for deepening ties.
  • With the locust scourge devastating the Horn of Africa and the pandemic worsening the food crisis, India could ramp up its collaboration in this sector.
  • India could also create a new fund for Africa and adapt its grant-in-aid assistance to reflect the current priorities.
  • This could include support for new investment projects by Indian entrepreneurs especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors in Africa.


  • Both India and Japan share a common interest in forging a partnership for Africa’s development. The COVID-19 crisis has nudged many countries to engage in new formats.
  • It is time for the Quad Plus, in which the US, India, Japan and Australia have recently engaged other countries such as the ROK, Vietnam, New Zealand, Israel and Brazil, to exchange views and propose cooperation with select African countries abutting the Indian Ocean.
  • After all, the Indo-Pacific straddles the entire maritime space of the Indian Ocean.
  • The pandemic is a colossal challenge but it may create fresh opportunities to bring India and Africa closer together.


  1. 23. The proper data can give the possible solution, what are dimensions need to address by the data generation policymakers?


  • For a country already short of recent large sample survey-based data — nobody knows whether and how much poverty has fallen in the last decade or if consumption of vegetables and protein-rich foods is growing at the same rate as before.
  • The COVID crisis makes matters worse


  • The National Statistical Office (NSO) was to undertake its household consumer expenditure (HCE) survey for 2020-21 from July, which is now practically ruled out.
  • The houselisting phase of the Census, crucial for carving out and assigning “blocks” to field enumerators tasked with collecting household/individual-level information, was scheduled during April-September.
  • Its postponing could have a bearing on the main census slated for February-March 2020.
  • Since the houselisting and enumeration blocks are also used for the rural development ministry’s Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), it points to serious data challenges ahead.


  • The novel coronavirus has, no doubt, created a war-like situation.
  • The census and other surveys being put off by even a year shouldn’t, to that extent, be held against the government.
  • This argument, however, lacks justification when there has been no officially-released HCE survey, normally conducted every five years, after 2011-12.
  • Nor is there a single field survey-based government study capturing the impact of demonetisation, goods and services tax or even programmes such as Mudra and Jan Dhan Yojana on household incomes, consumption and poverty.
  • Contrast this to the 2011-12 period, when there was a surfeit(excess) of information from the census, SECC and the NSO’s HCE and employment-and-unemployment surveys.
  • The NSO carried out an HCE survey for 2017-18, but its report was withheld, apparently for showing a decline in real rural consumption on the back of rising farm distress.
  • Any survey now or even in 2021-22 may throw up similar, if not worse, results. Will that, then, act as a deterrent(thing that discourages)to not release them as well?


  • The time has come for the government to move to a continuous mode (annually and quarterly, as opposed to five-yearly) of doing large sample surveys.
  • Technology (use of handheld GPS-enabled devices) and rotational panel sampling design can easily enable this.
  • If a private data analytics company like the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy can, through its Consumer Pyramids Household Surveys, cover over 1.74 lakh households annually, there’s no reason why the NSO cannot.
  • It has, in fact, made a beginning through its periodic labour force surveys from 2017-18.



  • Informed policymaking requires continuous data generation, for which one shouldn’t wait for a “normal” year that also suits the government

Q.24. Comment on south-Asian trajectory of the COVID-19 crisis. Where India stands point out?


  • A comparison of India’s situation with its neighbours is much more meaningful than the comparisons where India is almost always compared to countries in North America or Europe.
  • It is well known that the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic has varied enormously across countries.
  • While there are no conclusive explanations for this variation yet, age-structure, genetic make-up, universal BCG vaccination, and climate might play important roles.
  • In all these respects, India is similar to its neighbours in South Asia.
  • Hence, a meaningful comparison of India with its largest neighbours — Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — is a much better way to understand the spread of the pandemic and assess the effectiveness of responses to contain it.


  • The pandemic came to south Asian countries at very different times.
  • Sri Lanka was the first to report a COVID-19 case, on January 27.
  • The first case was reported within three days in India, on January 30.
  • Pakistan reported its first case on February 26, and Bangladesh on March 8.
  • The progression of COVID-19 has varied across these four nation-states.
  • Hence, from today’s vantage point, the duration of the pandemic varies in these countries.
  • To assess the pandemic at the same stage of its life cycle, we will identify its beginning in a country on the date total number of cases crossed 50 for the first time.
  • Using this method, we see that, on May 24, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were 54, 75, 69 and 66 days into the pandemic.
  • To make our data comparable, we will, therefore, take the 54th day of the pandemic in the four countries as the point of comparison.


  • A first indicator to understand the spread of the pandemic is the total number of reported cases.
  • On the day 54 of the pandemic, the total number of reported cases were 39,980 in India, 32,078 in Bangladesh, 27,474 in Pakistan and 869 in Sri Lanka.
  • These countries are very different in terms of population size. If we look at the total number of reported cases per million population on the 54th day of the pandemic, we get quite a different picture.
  • Bangladesh has 195, Pakistan has 124, Sri Lanka has 41 and India has 29 cases per million population.


  • One of the most direct impacts of the pandemic can be measured in terms of lives lost.
  • Dividing the total number of reported deaths by the total number of reported cases, we get what epidemiologists call the case fatality(death)
  • On the 54th day, the case fatality rate was highest in India, at 3.25 per cent, and lowest in Sri Lanka at 1.04 per cent.
  • Pakistan and Bangladesh fell in between, with 2.25 per cent and 1.41 per cent respectively.
  • In terms of total cases per million population, India has done better than most of its neighbouring countries — especially during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • When we look at the impact of the pandemic in terms of direct deaths, the picture is completely reversed.
  • India has lagged behind its neighbours in reducing the fatal impact of the pandemic on the lives of its citizens.


  • India, and more so Sri Lanka, have ramped up COVID-19 testing to adequate levels.
  • This is suggested by the fact that the test-positive rate, that is, the number of positive cases per 100 persons tested, has been low and stable over the past several weeks — at around 2 per cent for Sri Lanka and 4 per cent for India.
  • The situation in Bangladesh and Pakistan vis-a-vis COVID-19 testing is very different.
  • Not only do these countries have much higher test positive rates, at over 10 per cent, but it has been increasing over the past weeks.
  • Thus, Bangladesh and Pakistan have yet to reach adequate testing levels.


  • This has an important implication regarding the relative magnitudes of case fatality rates across these countries.
  • Since Bangladesh and Pakistan are not testing at adequate levels, many positive cases are not being reported in these two countries.
  • If they had been reported, the case fatality rates would have been even lower than what we now see.
  • Hence, the “true” gap of Bangladesh and Pakistan vis-a-vis India, concerning the case fatality rate, is higher than currently reported.


  • The daily press briefings of the health ministry paint rosy pictures of the situation in India only because of the largely meaningless comparisons with European and North American countries.
  • Looking at our neighbours will have a much-needed sobering(calming)


Q.25. Beliefs and technology has always contrasted but it has seen from present scenario technologically capable nations cannot protect the lives and health of citizens. Critically comment?


  • Of all the lessons that the pandemic has taught a civilisation that had become improbably confident of its beliefs, perhaps the most unsettling (worrying)is that the most technologically capable nations cannot protect the lives and health of their citizens from a medieval plague.
  • It follows that a political culture and economic system invested in the ideal of ever-increasing GDP must invest more in the health of its citizens, who power the engine of growth.
  • Historically, India has hesitated(reluctant)to invest adequately in school education and health, the twin foundations of a mature society, and these sectors remained neglected even by the reforms process.
  • Now, it appears that even the newest innovation for optimising spaces and communities for growth, the Smart Cities Mission, hasn’t understood the foundational importance of health.


  • Renewed public interest in the question was triggered earlier this month when the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, called on India to open a political conversation with the Taliban.
  • The interest was further amplified(strengthened) by a signal from the Taliban that it is eager for a productive relationship with India.
  • Those calling for direct engagement with the Taliban say that Delhi can’t ignore such an important force in Afghan politics.
  • Opponents say there is no reason for Delhi to join the international stampede(chaos) to embrace(welcome) the Taliban.
  • If and when the Taliban becomes a peaceful entity and joins the quest for a political settlement with Kabul, they argue, Delhi should have no objection to direct talks.


  • For all the interest it has generated, the question of Delhi opening a dialogue with the Taliban is a tactical issue focused on when, how and on what terms.
  • But the Taliban remains an important sub-set of the larger and more strategic Pashtun question that holds the key to India’s enduring (lasting) interest in Afghanistan: Promoting a peaceful, independent and a sovereign Afghanistan that is not a subaltern (lower status) to the Pakistan army.
  • Two basic issues define the Pashtun question and will have a huge bearing on Afghanistan’s political evolution after the impending (about to happen) drawdown of the US forces from the country.
  • One is the problem of reconciling (reunite) the interests of multiple ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
  • The Pashtuns who constitute nearly 42 per cent of the population. The sizeable Afghan minorities include 27 per cent Tajiks, 9 per cent each of Hazaras and Uzbeks.
  • The regimes — the communist government in the 1980s, the mujahideen and Taliban rule that followed in the 1990s and the post-Taliban coalition that took charge in 2002 ruled over the last four decades in Kabul.
  • It is important to construct a stable internal balance which so far has been hard.


  • That problem will acquire a new intensity as the Taliban stakes claim for a dominant role in Kabul. But has the Taliban learnt to live in peace with the minorities?
  • The Taliban, an essentially Pashtun formation, had brutally crushed the minorities during its brief rule in the late 1990s.
  • There are some indications that the Taliban is now reaching out to the minorities but it is some distance away from winning their trust.


  • The problem of constructing internal balance in Afghanistan has been complicated by Pakistan’s meddling(interference).
  • Pakistan would like to have the kind of hegemony(dominance) that the British Raj exercised over Afghanistan.
  • Neither can Pakistan replicate that dominance nor are the Afghans willing concede it to the Pakistan army.
  • Pakistan’s ambitious talk of strategic depth is accompanied by worries about its Pashtun minority. There are more than twice as many Pashtuns living in Pakistan than in Afghanistan.
  • The Pashtun population is estimated to be around 15 million in Afghanistan and 35 million in Pakistan.
  • Although Pashtun separatism has long ceased(ended) to be a force in Pakistan, Islamabad finds the Pashtun question re-emerge in a different form.
  • Pakistan can’t really bet that the Taliban will not put Pashtun nationalism above the interests of the Pakistani state.
  • The Taliban, for example, has never endorsed the Durand Line as the legitimate border with Pakistan. It is by no means clear if Pakistan’s construction of the Taliban as a conservative religious force has obliterated(destroyed) the group’s ethnic character.
  • Meanwhile, Islamabad’s quest(urge) for control over Afghanistan over the last four decades has heaped extraordinary suffering on the Pashtun people on Pakistan’s side of the Durand Line.
  • As the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement seeks a peaceful redressal(solution) of its demands for basic human rights, Pakistan has unleashed massive repression(suppression).


  • Pakistan’s expansive military and political investments in Afghanistan have not really resolved Islamabad’s security challenges on its western frontier.
  • If an Afghan triumph eludes(escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer)) Pakistan, Delhi can’t escape the complex geopolitics of the Pashtun lands.
  • That the Taliban wants to talk to India and Pakistan brands Pashtun leaders as Indian agents only underlines Delhi’s enduring salience(importance) in Afghanistan.


Q.26. State your views to tackle the global pandemic as a supreme agency. Can collective and cooperative partnerships leads to favourable results. Discuss?


  • Everybody agrees that we are living through unprecedented (never happened before) times. The nature and scale of the crisis which the COVID-19 pandemic has led to is unparalleled.
  • In such a scenario, solutions are unlikely to come from past experiences or best practices.
  • The biggest source of strength now is the partnerships we have built over the years.
  • The situation at hand calls for stakeholders to come together, work side by side and support each other.
  • This is precisely what one of the Empowered Groups created by the government for comprehensive action and integrated response to contain the pandemic has been doing since it was formed.


  • The mandate of the group is to coordinate with three key stakeholders — NGOs, the private sector, and international development organisations — and help them in charting the best course of action.
  • The fight against COVID-19 needed as many hands as were available. The job was too big for the government to handle alone.
  • The strategy was to leverage vertical and horizontal partnerships: Vertical partnerships, which the stakeholders have built within their organisations and horizontal partnerships, which the government has institutionalised with stakeholders.
  • The group itself is a partnership as its members are from eight different government ministries/organisations.


  • The NGOs, given their deep connect with spatial and sectoral issues, were a natural partner in this endeavour.
  • There is nobody better placed than the NGOs to understand the pulse at the grassroots and engage closely with communities.
  • Around 92,000 organisations were urged to partner with district administrations and contribute to the response efforts.
  • Chief Secretaries of all states were requested to engage NGOs in relief and response efforts and designate state and district nodal officers to coordinate with them.
  • The approach was to leverage(take advantage) the strength and reach of the local NGOs in identifying priority areas for action and avoid duplicity of efforts.


  • The response from NGOs was heart-warming.
  • They have been actively setting up community kitchens, creating awareness about prevention, and physical distancing, providing shelter to the homeless, the daily wage workers, supporting government efforts in setting up health camps and in deputing volunteers to deliver services to the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, and others.
  • An outstanding contribution of NGOs was in developing communication strategies in different vernaculars(language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region)which went a long way in taking awareness measures to the community level.
  • Akshaya Patra, Rama Krishna Mission, Tata Trusts, Piramal Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Aid, International Red Cross Society, Prayas, Help-age India, SEWA, Sulabh International, Charities Aid Foundation of India, Gaudia Math, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India are some partners who have embodied(included) the whole-of-society approach in COVID-19 response management.


  • The crisis has brought out the best in the start-up space. Many of them have risen to the occasion and accelerated the development of low cost, scalable, and quick solutions.
  • AgVa accelerated the development of ventilators which are low-cost, mobile, low on power consumption and require minimal training for operators.
  • Biodesign has developed a robotic product called ResperAid, which enables mechanised use of manual ventilators.
  • Kaaenaat has developed highly portable ventilators which can be used to serve two patients simultaneously and has a built-in battery, oxygen concentrator, and steriliser cabinet.
  • The products of a few non-ventilator start-ups too came to the aid of the COVID-19 fighting machinery.
  • The AI-enabled analysis of chest X-Rays developed by enables large-scale screening to identify potential cases.
  • GIS and geo-fencing technologies by Dronamaps enabled information cluster strategies for hotspots.
  • AI-powered online doctor consultation and telemedicine platform by Mfine connects diagnostics labs and pharmacies with doctors and patients.
  • The AI-enabled thermal imaging camera developed by Staqu facilitated large-scale screening at low cost.
  • These developments strengthen the argument that low-cost and scalable solutions designed and developed domestically must drive our country’s transformation.


  • The manner in which stakeholders have responded to the pandemic reinforces(strengthens) the power of partnerships. In fact, they have operated through partnerships.
  • The NGO leaderships created momentum throughout their networks and delivered the much needed response. They also brought to the attention of the group the problems from the grassroots.
  • Multiple agencies of international development organisations designed and executed joint response initiatives, leveraging their presence across the country.
  • The coalitions which industry organisations such as CII, FICCI, and NASSCOM have built over the years brought people and resources together, identified problems at multiple levels, channelised ideas and solutions and facilitated innovations.
  • The role played by the government has been facilitative in nature, which was based on the institutional and informal partnerships built with the three groups of stakeholders over the years.


Where do we stand today?

  • Until three months ago, not a single N95 mask or personal protective equipment (PPE) was manufactured in India.
  • Today, we have 104 domestic firms making PPEs and four manufacturing N95 masks. Over 2.6 lakh PPEs and two lakh N95 masks are being manufactured in India, daily.
  • Domestic manufacturing of ventilators has strengthened manifold — orders for more than 59,000 units have been placed with nine manufacturers.
  • While this shows the adaptiveness of Indian industry, the shift to domestic production must happen on a larger scale for a wider set of sectors in the long run, as envisioned(imagined)by Make in India.


  • Civil society, and voluntary and non-government organisations constitute the backbone of the collective articulation of citizen interest in a democracy.
  • As facilitators, mediators, and advocators of this interest, they have put people before everything else during this crisis.
  • Their resource limitations did not slow them down in reaching to those in vulnerable situations.
  • The support provided by NGOs to government initiatives has been timely and invaluable, and their commitment unshaken. They also have worked hand-in-hand with the private sector.


  • We are certain that the vertical and horizontal partnerships built over the decades and strengthened during the joint fight against this pandemic will deliver greater results in times to come.




GS-3 Mains

Q.1. Weather labour laws are inefficient or the mechanism has failed to address the issues of migrant labours? Define the apex court’s recent judgement?


  • It is a matter of relief that the Supreme Court has at last taken cognisance (observation)of the plight(hardships) of millions of inter-State workers looking for transport home and relief from the unrelenting(unending) misery unleashed on them by the lockdown.
  • A three-judge Bench has initiated suo motu (an act of authority taken without formal prompting from another party)
  • Proceedings were based on media reports and representations from senior advocates, observing that there have been inadequacies and lapses on the part of the Centre and States in dealing with the crisis faced by workers.



  • It need not have come to this. This could have taken place seven or eight weeks earlier, when petitions were filed before the top court on behalf of those left without any support.
  • With a kind of self-effacement (quality of not claiming attention for oneself)and self-abnegation (denial or abasement of oneself) not in keeping with its institutional history, the Court had then accepted the government’s sweeping claim that there were no migrants on the roads any more.
  • And that the initial exodus (mass departure of people)of workers from cities to their home States had been set off by “fake news” to the effect that the lockdown would last for months.
  • In an unfortunately limited intervention, the Court merely advised the police to treat the workers on the roads with kindness and directed the media to highlight the Centre’s version of the developments.


  • The Court’s reluctance to intervene may have stemmed from a belief in letting the executive handle the fallout of an unprecedented global crisis.
  • But, in the process, it abandoned its primary responsibility of protecting fundamental rights, especially of those most vulnerable.
  • Such was the resultant dismay that retired judges called it out for apparent abdication(rejection) of its duty.
  • A former High Court judge even said the ghost of ADM Jabalpur was lingering(remaining), in an unflattering reference to an Emergency-era judgment, now mercifully overruled, that held that personal liberty was not absolute during a state of emergency.

Side Notes

  • (The verdict in the ADM Jabalpurvs Shivakant case, popularly known as the Habeas Corpus case, set the tone for countless arrests under the preventive detention law – a provision whereby defendants could not stake a claim to their liberty under extenuating circumstances)


  • Whether it was shamed into taking cognisance of the issue or it felt that the situation is ripe for intervention, one should now expect the Court to take a more critical look at the government’s lapses, and emulate(copy)the stellar(amazing) role that High Courts are playing in holding administrations accountable.
  • The top court must now find out if the Centre, which imposed a stringent lockdown to buy time for preparing the health infrastructure, had discharged its responsibilities.
  • It may even lay down guidelines for planning, coordination and establishment of a mechanism to address the economic and humanitarian consequences of such actions in future.


  • The government should also do more than asking its law officers to fulminate(protest)against activists, denounce the media and question the patriotism of those critical of its actions.
  • A national tragedy requires a more statesmanlike response. After taking note of pandemic-induced crisis, SC must now enforce rights of the vulnerable.


 Q.2. ‘The unresolved border disputes can create new disputes’ is likely to be present conditions with Nepal. State your views?


  • Once again, relations between India and Nepal have taken a turn for the worse.
  • The immediate provocation is the long-standing territorial issue surrounding Kalapani, a patch of land near the India-Nepal border.
  • It is close to the Lipulekh Pass on the India-China border, which is one of the approved points for border trade and the route for the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra in Tibet.
  • However, the underlying reasons are far more complex.
  • Nepali PM Oli’s exploitation of the matter, by raising the banner of Nepali nationalism and painting India as a hegemon, is part of a frequent pattern that indicates that relations between the two countries need a fundamental reset(review).


  • India inherited the boundary with Nepal, established between Nepal and the East India Company in the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.
  • Kali river constituted the boundary, and the territory to its east was Nepal. The dispute relates to the origin of Kali.
  • In Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, there is a confluence of different streams coming from north-east from Kalapani and north-west from Limpiyadhura.
  • The early British survey maps identified the north-west stream, Kuti Yangti, from Limpiyadhura as the origin.
  • But after 1857 changed the alignment to Lipu Gad, and in 1879 to Pankha Gad, the north-east streams, thus defining the origin as just below Kalapani.
  • Nepal accepted the change and India inherited this boundary in 1947.


  • The Maoist revolution in China in 1949, followed by the takeover of Tibet, created deep misgivings in Nepal, and India was ‘invited’ to set up 18 border posts along the Nepal-Tibet border.
  • The westernmost post was at Tinkar Pass, about 6 km further east of Lipulekh.
  • In 1953, India and China identified Lipulekh Pass for both pilgrims and border trade.
  • After the 1962 war, pilgrimage through Lipulekh resumed in 1981, and border trade, in 1991.
  • In 1961, King Mahendra visited Beijing to sign the China-Nepal Boundary Treaty that defines the zero point in the west, just north of Tinkar Pass.
  • By 1969, India had withdrawn its border posts from Nepali territory. The base camp for Lipulekh remained at Kalapani, less than 10 km west of Lipulekh.
  • In their respective maps, both countries showed Kalapani as the origin of Kali river and as part of their territory.
  • After 1979, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police has manned the Lipulekh Pass. In actual practice, life for the locals (Byansis) remained unchanged given the open border and free movement of people and goods.


  • After the 1996 Treaty of Mahakali (Kali river is also called Mahakali/Sarada further downstream) that envisaged(expected)the Pancheshwar multipurpose hydel project, the issue of the origin of Kali river was first raised in 1997.
  • The matter was referred to the Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee that had been set up in 1981 to re-identify and replace the old and damaged boundary pillars along the India-Nepal border.
  • The Committee clarified 98% of the boundary, leaving behind the unresolved issues of Kalapani and Susta (in the Terai) when it was dissolved in 2008.
  • It was subsequently agreed that the matter would be discussed at the Foreign Secretary level.
  • Meanwhile, the project to convert the 80-km track from Ghatibagar to Lipulekh into a hardtop road began in 2009 without any objections from Nepal.


  • The Survey of India issued a new political map (eighth edition) on November 2, 2019, to reflect the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir as two Union Territories.
  • Nepal registered a protest though the map in no way had changed the boundary between India and Nepal.
  • However, on November 8, the ninth edition was issued. The delineation(presentation)remained identical but the name Kali river had been deleted.
  • Predictably, this led to stronger protests, with Nepal invoking Foreign Secretary-level talks to resolve issues.
  • With the Indian Ambassador Manjeev Puri in Kathmandu retiring in end-December and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale retiring a month later, the matter remained pending despite reminders from Kathmandu.


  • By April 2020, Mr. Oli’s domestic political situation was weakening.
  • Under the Nepali Constitution, a new Prime Minister enjoys a guaranteed two-year period during which a no-confidence motion is not permitted.
  • This ended in February unleashing simmering resentment(anger)against Mr. Oli’s governance style and performance.
  • His inept(incompetent)handling of the COVID-19 pandemic added to the growing disenchantment(disappointment).
  • Within the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) there was a move to impose a ‘one man, one post’ rule that would force Mr. Oli to choose between being NCP co-chair or Prime Minister.


  • The re-eruption of the Kalapani controversy, when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh did a virtual inauguration of the 80-km road on May 8, provided Mr. Oli with a political lifeline.
  • A subsequent comment by the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Manoj Naravane, on May 15 that “Nepal may have raised the issue at the behest(request)of someone else” was insensitive.
  • It is because Indian COAS is also an honorary general of the Nepal Army and vice-versa, highlighting the traditional ties between the two armies.
  • Oli had won the election in 2017 by flaunting his Nepali nationalism card, the flip side of which is anti-Indianism. This is not a new phenomenon but has become more pronounced in recent years.
  • Oli donned the nationalist mantle vowing to restore Nepali territory and marked a new low in anti-Indian rhetoric by talking about “the Indian virus being more lethal than the Chinese or the Italian virus”.


  • A new map of Nepal based on the older British survey reflecting Kali river originating from Limpiyadhura in the north-west of Garbyang was adopted by parliament.
  • It got notified on May 20. On May 22, a constitutional amendment proposal was tabled to include it in a relevant Schedule.
  • The new alignment adds 335 sq km to Nepali territory, territory that has never been reflected in a Nepali map for nearly 170 years.
  • This brief account illustrates the complexity underlying India-Nepal issues that cannot be solved by unilateral map-making exercises.
  • Such brinkmanship(art or practice of pursuing a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping, especially in politics)only breeds mistrust and erodes the goodwill at the people-to-people level.
  • Political maturity is needed to find creative solutions that can be mutually acceptable.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often spoken of the “neighbourhood first” policy.
  • He started with a highly successful visit to Nepal in August 2014.
  • But the relationship took a nosedive in 2015 when India first got blamed for interfering in the Constitution-drafting in Nepal and then for an “unofficial blockade” that generated widespread resentment(anger)against the country.
  • It reinforced(strengthened)the notion that Nepali nationalism and anti-Indianism were two sides of the same coin that Mr. Oli exploited successfully.


  • In Nepali thinking, the China card has provided them the leverage to practise their version of non-alignment.
  • In the past, China maintained a link with the Palace and its concerns were primarily related to keeping tabs on the Tibetan refugee community.
  • With the abolition of the monarchy, China has shifted attention to the political parties as also to institutions like the Army and Armed Police Force.
  • Also, today’s China is pursuing a more assertive foreign policy and considers Nepal an important element in its growing South Asian footprint.


  • The reality is that India has ignored the changing political narrative in Nepal for far too long.
  • India remained content that its interests were safeguarded by quiet diplomacy even when Nepali leaders publicly adopted anti-Indian postures.
  • Long ignored by India, it has spawned distortions in Nepali history textbooks and led to long-term negative consequences.
  • For too long India has invoked a “special relationship”, based on shared culture, language and religion, to anchor its ties with Nepal.
  • Today, this term carries a negative connotation — that of a paternalistic(relating to or characterized by the restriction of the freedom and responsibilities of subordinates in their supposed interest)India that is often insensitive and, worse still, a bully.
  • 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship was sought by the Nepali authorities in 1949 to continue the special links it had with British India and provides for an open border and right to work for Nepali nationals.
  • It is hardly surprising that the treaty now is viewed as a sign of an unequal relationship, and an Indian imposition.
  • Yet, Nepali authorities have studiously avoided taking it up bilaterally even though Nepali leaders thunder against it in their domestic rhetoric.


  • The urgent need today is to pause the rhetoric on territorial nationalism and lay the groundwork for a quiet dialogue where both sides need to display sensitivity as they explore the terms of a reset of the “special relationship”.
  • A normal relationship where India can be a generous partner will be a better foundation for “neighbourhood first” in the 21st century.


Q.3. The current intensification of tension between China and India leads to the internal dispute. Discuss?


  • The current intensification of tension between China and India following the escalation of Chinese troop build-up in Ladakh is but one sign that Beijing is increasingly feeling beleaguered (put in a very difficult situation).
  • In response, it has embarked on a strategy of brinkmanship(the art or practice of pursuing a dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping, especially in politics)with several goals in mind.
  • External adventurism(the willingness to take risks in business or politics; actions or attitudes regarded as reckless or potentially hazardous), when cloaked in the garb of ultra-nationalism, can shore up a regime’s legitimacy at home.
  • This is particularly the case when an authoritarian regime whose legitimacy rests primarily on its economic performance is faced with a situation where growth is expected to plummet(drop).


  • Simultaneously, it can act as a diversionary measure to escape international opprobrium(disgrace), similar to what China is facing currently because of Beijing’s attempt to cover up the spread of the coronavirus during the crucial early weeks when it could have been more easily contained.
  • Many countries hold China responsible for the huge cost in human lives and suffering as well as the unprecedented economic distress.
  • In the face of such criticism, the Chinese regime is increasingly using jingoistic(characterized by extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy)jargon to build up domestic support.
  • President Xi Jinping’s recent speech to the PLA is an outstanding example of this strategy.
  • He exhorted the Chinese armed forces to “prepare for war” in order to “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty” and “the overall strategic stability of the country”.


  • This is a sign that the Communist Party of China (CPC) feels increasingly threatened both domestically and externally.
  • China’s relations with the U.S. have been going downhill almost since the beginning of the Donald Trump presidency.
  • Washington has periodically imposed economic sanctions on China and Beijing has retaliated in kind.
  • Trade talks have faltered(lose strength or momentum)because of growing protectionist sentiments in the U.S. and Chinese inability to adequately respond to them.


  • Tensions between the U.S. and China have also increased for other reasons.
  • The chipping away at Hong Kong’s autonomous status by Beijing and the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has led to severe criticism by the U.S. administration and in the Congress.
  • Differences over the issue of Taiwan have added to tensions, with China viewing the U.S. as the primary impediment preventing Taiwan’s integration.
  • The Trump administration has significantly increased support to Taiwan with arms sales that have added to China’s concern.
  • Above all, the U.S.-China rivalry in the South China Sea acts as the potential flashpoint that may well lead to a shooting war.
  • In the past decade, China has vigorously advanced its territorial claims in the South China Sea by militarising islands it controls, vociferously contesting claims by other regional states and impeding their attempts to access territories they claim.
  • So far, it has been careful that these moves do not trigger a serious confrontation with the U.S.


  • However, it is quite possible that a Chinese leadership that feels besieged could adopt a more provocative strategy, thus increasing the risk of a military confrontation with the U.S.
  • Washington has a strong interest in preventing China from asserting control over the South China Sea as maintaining free access to this waterway is important to it for economic reasons.
  • It also has defence treaty obligations to the Philippines, which has vigorously contested Chinese territorial claims.
  • Further, China’s control of the South China Sea would be a major step toward replacing the U.S. as the foremost power in the Indo-Pacific region.


  • Increased Chinese adventurism could result in an escalation of U.S.-China confrontation in the South China Sea.
  • If that happens, the India-China face-off in Ladakh could become part of a much larger “great game”, with the U.S. trying to preserve the status quo and China attempting to change it to further its objective of regional dominance at the U.S.’s expense.
  • The current India-China crisis should, therefore, be seen in its proper context and not as an isolated event.


  1. 4. The deregulation of oil prices is the need of the time to find an alternative. Justify?


  • Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s recent remark that the Centre is taking a ‘cautious and conscious approach’ of ensuring a balance in fuel prices and aims to use the resultant savings for welfare is on the face of it unexceptionable.
  • With global oil prices still about 45% lower than 2019 closing levels despite coordinated supply cuts by major producers, India had an opportunity to pass on the benefit to consumers and provide a fillip(stimulus)to becalmed(stuck) consumption


  • That the ‘deregulated’ oil marketing companies chose not to reduce pump prices, even when crude tumbled last month, could be attributed to their caution amid a sharp slump(decrease)in demand in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.
  • It is the government’s decision, earlier in May, to raise Excise Duty on petrol and diesel for a second time in less than two months that raises several concerns.
  • For one, subsequent to the latest increase the Centre’s tax revenue on a litre of petrol sold by IOC in Delhi as on May 16 was 1.8 times the fuel’s freight inclusive base price of ₹18.28 and represented 46% of the final retail price of ₹71.26.
  • With economic activity brought to a near standstill by the lockdown the Centre’s overall revenue prospects have come under severe strain, and from that perspective the government’s move to maximise its takings from transport fuels is understandable.
  • Still, the fact that the government has consistently tinkered(made small changes)with the duty structure through recent years of largely benign(kind) oil prices, undermines the benefits from pricing deregulation that ought to have accrued(resulted) to oil companies and consumers.


  • Back in 2018, ahead of key Assembly elections, the Centre had cut the excise duty at a time when global crude prices were on the ascent(rise)in order to minimise any electoral fallout from unchecked fuel costs.
  • The government’s goal of maximising revenue from fuel products to fund welfare measures can only bear fruit if demand for petrol and diesel remains unaffected by the continuing high costs.
  • With curbs on inter-State road transport still in place, contracting automobile sales unlikely to recover any time soon, job losses and pay cuts sure to shrink household budgets, it is hard to see transport fuel demand rebounding to pre-lockdown levels for at least one or two quarters.
  • Add to that the fact that the Centre’s ambitious disinvestment target of ₹2.1-lakh crore for this fiscal had included a stake sale in BPCL, and the petroleum products’ pricing approach gets even more complicated.


  • With potential investors unlikely to be impressed by the lack of autonomy in the sector, it is in the government’s interest not to risk the health of the goose that lays the golden eggs(someone or something that is a valuable source of money, power or other advantages).
  • The increased duty on fuel can fund welfare, but arbitrary methods will have implications.


  1. 5. Discuss the pros and cons of Atmanirbhar Bharat to make India self-reliant?


  • Addressing the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the necessity of a self-reliant India.
  • He said the need was brought home by the absence of domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE) when COVID-19 struck, but India initiated and quickly ramped up PPE production.
  • Modi said there needs to be improvement in quality and domestic supply chains going forward.
  • If this is to happen though, India will have to make major course changes in development strategies.
  • Much has changed since the self-reliance model of the Nehruvian era, so a perspective for Indian self-reliance in science and technology (S&T) and industry in a globalised world is long overdue.


  • Self-reliance in state-run heavy industries and strategic sectors in the decades following independence had placed India ahead of most developing countries.
  • In the 1970s and 80s, however, India did not modernise these industries to climb higher up the technological ladder.
  • The private sector, which had backed the state-run core sector approach in its Bombay Plan, stayed content with near-monopoly conditions in non-core sectors in a protected market.
  • Little effort was made to modernise light industries or develop contemporary consumer products.
  • India’s industrial ecosystem was thus characterised by low productivity, poor quality and low technology, and was globally uncompetitive.


  • India completely missed out on the ‘third industrial revolution’ comprising electronic goods, micro-processors, personal computers, mobile phones and decentralised manufacturing and global value chains during the so-called lost decade(s).
  • Today, India is the world’s second largest smartphone market.
  • However, it does not make any of these phones itself, and manufactures only a small fraction of solar photovoltaic cells and modules currently used, with ambitious future targets.
  • At the turn of the millennium, India embarked on liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
  • The very concept of self-reliance was rubbished(erased), in the belief that it wastantamount(equal) to reinventing the wheel when advanced technologies could simply be bought from anywhere at lower costs.

 Two related ideas have prevailed since then, and neither delivered the desired results.


  • The first was that public sector undertakings (PSUs) are, by definition, inefficient and sluggish(slow)for the competitive globalised scenario.
  • No effort was made to engender(give rise to)either real autonomy or a transition to new technological directions.
  • Instead, PSUs with capability and scale for the task were undermined or abandoned, along with many nascent research and development (R&D) efforts (for instance, in photovoltaics, semiconductors and advanced materials).
  • On the other hand, the private sector displayed little interest in these heavy industries and showed no appetite(hunger)for technology upgradation.
  • With entry of foreign corporations, most Indian private companies retreated into technology imports or collaborations.
  • Even today, most R&D in India is conducted by PSUs, and much of the smaller but rising proportion of private sector R&D is by foreign corporations in information technology and biotechnology/pharma.
  • Given the disinclination of most of the private sector towards R&D and high-tech manufacturing, significant government reinvestment in PSUs and R&D is essential for self-reliance.


  • The second idea was that inviting foreign direct investment and manufacturing by foreign majors would bring new technologies into India’s industrial ecosystem, obviating(removing)the need for indigenous (home grown) efforts towards self-reliance.
  • However, mere setting up of manufacturing facilities in India is no guarantee of absorption of technologies (the ability to independently take them to higher levels).
  • There is no evidence from any sector that this has taken place or has even been attempted.
  • The fact is, foreign majors jealously guard commercially significant or strategic technologies in off-shore manufacturing bases.
  • The key problem of self-reliance is therefore neither external finance nor domestic off-shore manufacturing, but resolute indigenous endeavour (journey)including R&D.


  • Experience and achievements in other countries in Asia attest to this, and also contradict the notion that self-reliance is a hangover from Nehruvian ‘socialism’.
  • Learning from Japan’s post-war success, countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong took huge technological and industrial strides in the 1970s and 80s.
  • South Korea, in particular, climbed determinedly up the technology ladder and value chains in electronic goods, consumer durables, automobiles, micro-processors, personal computers and heavy machinery.
  • It emerged as a global powerhouse in manufacturing, but also in indigenously developed technologies.
  • Taiwandeveloped technologies and manufacturing capacities in robotics and micro-processors, while Singapore and Hong Kong adapted advanced technologies in niche(denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population)
  • These self-reliant capabilities were enabled, among other factors, by planned state investments in R&D including basic research (3-5% of GDP), technology and policy support to private corporations, infrastructure and, importantly, education and skill development (4-6% of GDP).
  • Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam have focused on off-shore manufacturing lower down the value chain and without the thrust on self-reliance.
  • This is useful for job creation but is an unsuitable model for a country of India’s size and aspirations.
  • CHINA— Chinais, of course, unique in scale and in its determination to become a superpower not just geopolitically but also in self-reliant S&T and industrial capability.
  • China advanced purposefully from low-end mass manufacturing to a dominant role in global supply chains.
  • It has now decided on shifting to advanced manufacturing and has set itself a target of becoming a world leader by 2035 in 5G, supercomputing, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, biotech/pharma and other technologies of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.


  • Unfortunately, India may well have missed the bus in many of these technologies in which the U.S., Europe and China have established perhaps insurmountable(which cannot be overcome)
  • Yet self-reliant capabilities in electric and fuel cell vehicles, electricity storage systems, solar cells and modules, aircraft including UAVs, AI, robotics and automation, biotech/pharma and others are well within reach.
  • Large-scale concerted endeavours would, however, be required, since self-reliance will not happen by itself.
  • State-funded R&D, including in basic research, by PSUs and research institutions and universities needs to be scaled-up significantly, well above the dismal 1% of GDP currently.
  • Upgraded and reoriented PSUs would also be crucial given their distinctive place in the ecosystem.
  • Private sector delivery-oriented R&D could also be supported, linked to meaningful participation in manufacturing at appropriate levels of the supply chain.


  • Finally, India’s meagre (very less)public expenditure on education needs to be substantially ramped (increased) up (as against current trends of privatisation which would only shrink access), including in skill development.
  • And no country has developed without a much stronger public health system than what we have in India.


  1. 6. Due to current pandemic the issues of workers are at peak, give the possible solutions to address the issue?


  • The plight(hardships)of migrant workers in recent weeks has invaded television screens and stirred(shocked) the nation’s conscience. Alas, this is just the tip of the wave of hardships that is sweeping(existing) through the country.
  • The situation looks increasingly alarming in the light of a series of surveys conducted by Azim Premji University (APU) and other institutions.
  • The APU survey, for instance, found that 74% of the respondents (thousands of poor households scattered over many States) were “consuming less food”today than before the lockdown.
  • Another survey was conducted by Farzana Afridi and her colleagues in low-income neighbourhoods of Delhi.
  • It found that 80% of the respondents had not earned any income during the lockdown, 90% reported “financial stress”, and about half were too anxious to sleep at night.


  • Thankfully, the Public Distribution System (PDS) is preventing the worst. The same surveys show that an overwhelming(large number)majority of poor households (86% according to the APU survey) are currently receiving food rations.
  • The doubling of food rations for three months was a good move on the part of the central government — there is every reason to extend it beyond the end of June.
  • The PDS, however, leaves out 500 million people, including many who live in poverty.
  • Further, even for those who are covered, the PDS is little more than a protection against hunger. It cannot ensure adequate nutrition, let alone a decent standard of living.


  • To cope with the crisis, poor households urgently need a chance to earn cash beyond smallmercies(showing pity).
  • Unconditional cash transfers are not easy to use for this purpose, because there is no simple way of identifying those in need.
  • Universal basic income is a nice idea, but when you do the maths, anything practical tends to reduce the “basic income” to a pittance(very small or inadequate amount of money).
  • India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) offers an obvious alternative, at least for rural areas: employment on demand at basic wages.


  • The demand for NREGA work is stronger than ever. This is not surprising: most people would prefer to do some work and earn a little than to sit idle with empty pockets.
  • This huge demand contrasts with the resilient(able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions)indifference of rural workers towards NREGA in recent years, due to low wages and erratic(unpredictable)
  • Wages are still low, and payments are still far from timely and reliable; what has changed is that for most workers today, there is nothing better on the cards.


  • We had a telling experience of this renewed demand for NREGA work in a number of deprived villages of Latehar district (Jharkhand) in the last few days.
  • In this area, the idea of work on demand is still alien(unknown)to most rural workers, so few of them take the initiative of applying for NREGA work.
  • But whenever we helped people to prepare work applications, men and women from almost every household in the village flocked to the spot with their job cards to fill the forms.


  • Without assistance, however, most workers would find it difficult to submit work applications.
  • The sad truth is that except in areas where rural workers are relatively empowered, work applications (reflected in “e-muster rolls”) are not generally initiated by the workers themselves.
  • Instead, they are initiated on their behalf by others, who have a stake in activating NREGA works:
  • For e.g, landowners who want some work done on their land, middlemen who take cuts at various steps, government officials who are under pressure to meet targets, and village heads who wish to please or serve their constituency.
  • In other words, NREGA works attract the workers, and not the other way around. That, at any rate, is how it tends to work in the poorer States.
  • In the old days (good or bad), workers were allowed to turn up at the worksite and enrol on the spot. That made things easier for them: applying for work was a right, not an obligation.
  • But now, it has become an obligation: no-one can be employed unless his or her name has been entered in advance in the e-muster rolls. Most workers have no idea how to go about this.


  • This is one reason why the scale of NREGA works remains very low in many States in spite of a huge demand for employment.
  • This situation calls for large-scale opening of NREGA works on a proactive basis.
  • Every village needs at least one major worksite, where a good number of people can work at short notice (with adequate distancing precautions).
  • Ideally, workers should be allowed to enrol at the worksite. Further, large-scale employment generation should continue throughout the monsoon, the hardest period of the year for poor people in large parts of rural India.
  • Averting(avoiding)a humanitarian disaster in the next few months calls for a veritable explosion of NREGA work.

Much can be done to facilitate this:

  • expanding the list of permissible works, hiring more gram rozgar sevaks (employment assistants), simplifying the implementation process, mobilising para-teachers for work application drives, and so on.
  • And of course, top-down orders to expand the scale of works could work wonders. NREGA is not supposed to be top-down, but it does have a long history of top-down orders, and after all, this is an emergency.


  • It is also worth considering a return to cash payment of NREGA wages, at least as an option for the duration of the crisis.
  • This would not only help to ensure timely and reliable payment of wages, but also spare workers the ordeal(unpleasant and prolonged experience)of extracting their wages from overcrowded banks or business correspondents(they are bank representatives).
  • Further, cash payment of wages would act as a tremendous incentive for rural workers to demand NREGA work, whatever it takes.
  • The idea of a return to cash payment of wages is likely to horrify(shock)those who trust digital payments to eliminate(end) But recent experience suggests that this trust is misplaced.
  • The digital payment system has merely changed the modalities of corruption in NREGA: the crooks(miscreant)used to fudge(fake) the paper records, now they fudge the electronic records.
  • The latter may or may not be harder to fudge than the former depending on the circumstances.
  • Even if cash payments are a little more vulnerable to leakages, that may be a tolerable price to pay in an emergency, to protect workers from the hazards of NREGA’sbyzantine(excessively complicated) payment system.
  • These include a payment rejection rate of 4%, according to official data, and the tyranny of “Qwicy”, as the Know Your Customer (KYC) process is known in rural Jharkhand.
  • Of course, the possible hazards(risks)of a hasty switch to cash payments also need to be considered.
  • Funds are not an immediate concern since the NREGA budget for 2020-21 has been raised to ₹1-lakh crore or so. But more is likely to be required to meet the tremendous demand for NREGA work.
  • It is important to ensure that funds never dry up: this happened every year in the last few years, leading to huge wage arrears(liabilities).
  • NREGA is supposed to be a demand-driven programme with an open-ended budget; nothing in the Act authorises the government to impose a budget cap(limit).
  • These are some of the issues that arise in activating NREGA for crisis relief. The main thing is to provide work aplenty and pay wages at speed. This is a matter of life and death.


  1. 7. What are the prior concerns in agriculture sectors that need to be address. Point out all the possible ways to resolve the agricultural issues by highlighting APMC act?


  • The announcement of reforms in agricultural marketing by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in May, has been hailed by some as the “1991” moment for agriculture.
  • While it does not mean much on the ground, it has successfully managed to deflect attention from the pittance(little amount offered)offered by way of fiscal support to the agricultural sector.
  • Even then, the reforms are no more than reiterations(repetation)of earlier announcements.


  • The three reforms regarding agricultural marketing were the reforms in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, the Essential Commodities Act, and on contract farming.
  • All of these have been in discussion for almost two decades, with the APMC Act having already seen substantial reforms in many States.
  • The first comprehensive model act on APMC was proposed during 2003, and since then, similar efforts to push for more reforms have been proposed in 2007, 2013, and as late as 2017 by the present government.


  • The main argument against the APMC Act is that it creates barriers to the entry and exit of traders and makes the sale and purchase of agricultural produce compulsory for farmers as well as traders.
  • Some of the criticism regarding the functioning of the APMC is valid, to which State governments have been responsive; as many as 17 State governments having amended the APMC Act to make it more liberal.
  • In fact, the regulations and the functioning of mandis vary a great deal across States.
  • Kerala does not have an APMC Act and Bihar repealed it in 2006.
  • But several others such as Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh deregulated fruits and vegetables trade, allowed private markets, introduced a unified trading licence and have introduced a single-point levy(charge)of market fee.
  • Tamil Nadu has already reformed its APMC with no market fee.
  • Several others such as Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Rajasthan have undertaken one or more of these reforms.
  • Many States have introduced direct marketing of farm produce, examples being the Uzhavar Sandhai (Tamil Nadu), the Rythu Bazaar (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), the Raitha Santhe (Karnataka), the Apni Mandi (Punjab) and the Krushak Bazaar – Odisha).


  • Despite these reforms, APMC mandis continue to be vilified(defamed)for all the ills(wrongs) plaguing(existing) marketing infrastructure and the low prices received by the farmers for their produce.
  • The problem with mandis is not the regulation per se and the structure of mandis but the political interference in the functioning of the markets.
  • These are more obvious in case of large mandis specialising in commercial crops and fruits and vegetables, where production is regionally concentrated.
  • But even with these deficiencies(flaws), APMC mandis continue to play an important role in providing access to market for farmers.


  • But did the reforms lead to a better outcome for farmers in those States where the reforms were undertaken? The best example is Bihar.
  • The general argument in favour of reforms is that it will allow private investment in marketing infrastructure as well as provide more choices to farmers, leading to better prices received by farmers.
  • In the case of Bihar, while no investment came in building market infrastructure, the loss of revenue due to the repeal(cancellation)of the APMC also led to deterioration(worsening) of existing infrastructure (of the 54 market yards) in the State.
  • The revenue collected from the APMC earlier was used not only for the modernisation of these market yards but also for the laying of roads and construction of other infrastructure to provide farmers better access to markets.
  • But after the repeal, there have been no takers for these market yards, with no investment in creating private mandis.
  • On the other hand, it has led to proliferation(increase)of private unregulated markets which charge a market fee from traders as well as farmers, and without any infrastructure for weighing, sorting, grading and storage.
  • Even in other States where there is deregulation to allow private traders, there is hardly any investment to create market spaces let alone provide other facilities.
  • There is also no evidence that farmers have received better prices in private mandis outside the APMC.


  • While there have been instances of collusion and corruption in the running of the APMC, they continue to provide essential services to farmers.
  • However, the vilification of APMCs has allowed the government to escape the responsibility of creating marketing infrastructure for millions of farmers.
  • As against the recommendation that a regulated market should be available to farmers within a radius of 5 km (a corresponding market area of about 80 sq. km), currently regulated markets cover 457 sq. km.
  • There are more than 7,000 regulated markets and 20,000 rural markets when the need is at least twice these figures. Most of the existing ones require investment in upgradation of infrastructure.
  • Even the argument that the only bottleneck(hurdle)for farmers not receiving remunerative(payment) prices is due to the APMC Act is flawed.
  • More than 80% of farmers, most of whom are small and marginal farmers, do not sell their produce in the APMC mandis.
  • For a majority of farmers, prices received are more a function of the demand for agricultural commodities than access to markets.
  • A good example is the case of decline in milk prices, pointed out by the Finance Minister herself.
  • Despite the presence of cooperatives and private dairies, the collapse of milk prices reflects the decline in demand in the economy, not the distortions in private markets.
  • While it may have exacerbated(worsened) during the national lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that demand was declining even before the lockdown is now well known.


  • For much of the period during the last two years, terms of trade have moved against agriculture, with agricultural commodity price inflation actually being negative for a large part of the last two years.
  • With underlying weakness in demand and obsession(focus)with inflation targeting through fiscal(govt) and monetary(RBI) policies, most agricultural commodities have seen a sharp decline in demand and, consequently, prices received by farmers.
  • The argument for choice of markets is only valid as long as there are buyers with purchasing power in the market.
  • No amount of marketing reforms will lead to higher price realisation for farmers if the underlying macroeconomic conditions are unfavourable to agriculture and farmers.


  • Even before the lockdown, the primary task of the government, especially the Finance Ministry should have been to increase fiscal spending to revive demand in the economy.
  • This has become even more necessary after the sharp decline in incomes, job losses and decline in demand following the lockdown and expected contraction in economic activity for the year ahead.
  • With international prices also showing declining trend, the urgency is to protect the farmers from the decline in commodity prices.
  • As against these, the announcement of these reforms without a draft and without proper consultation with States or other stakeholders is nothing but a smokescreen to deflect attention from the core issue of fiscal support by the government to support farmers’ income.
  • If the government is serious in providing remunerative prices to farmers, it needs to increase fiscal spending to create demand in the economy.
  • These, rather than the hollow announcements of reforms, will go a long way in ensuring higher incomes to farmers.


Q.8. The unsolved border issues are peak concern, define the statement by highlighting the Sugauli Treaty?


  • The inauguration of a road from Dharchula to Lipu Lekh (China border) by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (an event over videoconferencing on May 8) has now been followed by Nepal’s charge claiming that the stretch passes though Nepalese territory.
  • This road follows the traditional pilgrim route for the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra. The conversion of the trekking route(past) to a metalled(now) road is a boon(benefit)to both pilgrims and traders.


  • Nepal deployed its armed police at Chharung, close to Kalapani, in its Sudoor Paschim.
  • While there is nothing untoward in deploying the armed police, whose mandate is to man the borders of Nepal, it is the manner and timing of the deployment that raised eyebrows(concerns)in New Delhi.
  • The Nepalese contingent(army)was dropped to the location by helicopters, very visibly.
  • The Indo-Tibetan Border Police is also located in Kalapani since it is close to the India-China border. Indian forces are not there because of Nepal.
  • The Nepalese government has raised the stakes further and has made a negotiated settlement more complex by authorising a new map extending its territory across an area sensitive for India’s defence.


  • The boundary delineation(action of indicating the exact position of a border)has a long history.
  • Before the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East.
  • Nepal lost the Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.

The Sugauli Treaty stated that:

  • “The Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] hereby cedes(gives away)to the Honourable [the] East India Company in perpetuity(till last long) all the under-mentioned territories”, including “the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Rapti.”

It elaborated further that:

  • “The Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] renounces(gives away)for himself, his heirs, and successors, all claim to or connection with the countries lying to the west of the River Kali and engages never to have any concern with those countries or the inhabitants(people living there) there of.”
  • The present controversy has arisen since the Nepalese contest that the tributary that joins the Mahakali river at Kalapani is not the Kali river. Nepal now contends that the Kali river lies further west to the Lipu Lekh pass.
  • The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China. The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India.
  • Both the Rana rulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary and did not raise any objection with the government of India after India’s Independence.
  • As a reward for the military help rendered by Jung Bahadur Rana in quelling the 1857 uprising, the areas of Nepalgunj and Kapilvastu were restituted to Nepal soon thereafter.
  • The British did not return any part of Garhwal or Kumaon, including the Kalapani area, to Nepal.
  • India did not exist in 1816 when the Treaty of Sugauli was concluded. And India’s present borders, not just with Nepal, but with many of its other neighbours, were drawn by the erstwhile(former)British regime.
  • India inherited the boundaries of British India. It cannot now unravel the historic past.


  • The Nepal-India Technical Level Joint Boundary Working Group was set up in 1981 to resolve boundary issues, to demarcate the international border, and to manage boundary pillars.
  • By 2007, the group completed the preparation of 182 strip maps, signed by the surveyors of the two sides, covering almost 98% of the boundary, all except the two disputed areas of Kalapani and Susta.
  • It also ascertained(make sure of)the position of 8,533 boundary pillars.
  • The remaining issues concerning the boundary are not difficult to resolve unless they are caught up in domestic or international concerns.
  • The next steps are the approval of the strip maps by the respective governments (that of the Nepalese Government is still awaited), the resolution of the differences of opinion over Kalapani and Susta, and speeding up the erection of damaged or missing border pillars.
  • Ind & Bangladesh:India has successfully resolved far more intractable(hard to control or deal with) border issues with Bangladesh not so long ago, covering both the land and maritime boundaries.
  • The land boundary settlement required an exchange of territories in adverse(unfavourable) possession of the two countries, including the transfer of population, and a constitutional amendment (Number 100 of May 15, 2015) to give effect to the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement.


  • The maritime boundary issue was even more difficult.
  • India agreed to go to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, knowing well that if the Court applied the principle of equity, India would lose up to four-fifths of the disputed area.
  • India had established its claim on a baseline that took into account the curved nature of the India-Bangladesh shoreline, thus boxing Bangladesh’s maritime claims to within Indian and Myanmar waters.
  • The Court ruling accepted much of Bangladesh’s claim. Despite the Indian member of the tribunal giving an adverse(unfavourable)entry, the government of India accepted the ruling.
  • Compared to what was accomplished between India and Bangladesh, the India-Nepal border issues appear more easily solvable, so long as there is political goodwill and statecraft exercised on both sides.
  • The way to move forward is to formally approve the strip maps, resolve the two remaining disputes, demarcate(separate)the entire India-Nepal boundary, and speedily execute the work of boundary maintenance.


  • India’s leadership and the Indian people have been conscious of the self-respect and pride of the Nepalese people.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in The Discovery of India as also in Glimpses of World History that Nepal has been the only truly independent country of South Asia.
  • Nepal, in turn, has in the past responded to India’s needs as a friendly neighbour. Its political leaders contributed to India’s struggle for freedom.
  • The only time since Independence that foreign troops were deployed on Indian soil was when, in 1948-49, Nepalese soldiers came to India’s northern cantonments, depleted(empty)by deployments in Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad.
  • The people-to-people relationship between India and Nepal is unmatched. In the far corners of India, sometimes locals turn against those from other Indian States, but seldom against the Nepalese.
  • It is the government-to-government relationship that generally lags. There is nobody in India that wishes ill for Nepal.


  • For India’s Chief of Army Staff, to charge that Nepal, at someone else’s behest(request), has objected to India laying a road connecting the Lipu Lekh pass, was ill-advised.
  • It widens the door for that someone else to foment(produce)more trouble. This is a matter best handled bilaterally, through quiet diplomacy.
  • The Official Spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs has said recently that India and Nepal have an established mechanism to deal with all boundary matters.
  • He has affirmed that India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue, in the spirit of India’s close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal.
  • The best is to activate the existing mechanisms as soon as possible, before any further damage is done.


  • The more the trouble festers(grows), those who stand to gain by deteriorating(worsening)India-Nepal relations will benefit. There is need for the two countries to lower the temperature and defuse the issue.
  • They must invest time and effort to find a solution. Raking(bringing)up public controversy can only be counterproductive to the relationship.


Q.9. Due to the global pandemic the social moral standards are deprived by the psych of people in many ways. Point out the reasons of failure?



  • The novel coronavirus is a global threat, but the pandemic has had an uneven impact across countries and within countries.
  • Historically, social inequality has always been extreme in India. However, the lockdown has sharpened the edges of inequality even further, especially because of the way it has been implemented.
  • What is more, the largest lockdown in the world with hardly any safety net (like pension, insurance)was imposed at a four-hour notice.
  • The sudden decision deprived (taken away)countless people of jobs and livelihoods. This has strained the fragile(weak) social and economic fabric far more than it needed to.


  • Nobody is safe from the virus, but some classes are more protected than others. Class and wealth inequality means COVID-19 may pose greater risks to some as it poses a double threat to them.
  • In India, the lockdown favours the “balcony classes(rich)”, with no regard of its consequences for others.
  • Lockdown has exposed the precarious(severe)existence of millions of migrants who operate the levers(wheels) of the informal economy.
  • It has hit the workers in the informal economy as it has left them with no income, no food and no shelter.
  • The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that about 140 million people have lost jobs since the lockdown.


  • Worldwide, the defining images of India’s lockdown are the caravans(group)of migrant workers walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes.
  • Bereft(no support)of substantive support from the government or their employers, they want to escape the city and get back to their villages and families.
  • The SaveLife Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to prevent road accidents, has recorded nearly 2,000 road crashes and 368 deaths from March 25, when the lockdown began, to May 16.


  • The Union Home Ministry had asked shops, industry and commercial establishments to pay wages to workers during the lockdown but it offered no financial support should this not happen.
  • Social activist Harsh Mander asked the Supreme Court to order the government to pay wages. As expected, the apex court refused to intervene.
  • However, the Court intervened and asked the government not to resort to any coercive(forceful)action against private companies that have not paid their workers full wages during the lockdown in accordance with a government order in March.
  • Since then, the government has dropped the crucial order.
  • Clearly, the Court has readily accepted the government’s assurance that it was looking after migrant labourers.
  • But all that the government had done was take small steps such as providing dry rations and a paltry(small)sum of ₹500, the first of the three instalments of a sum of ₹1,500 relief, to Jan Dhan accounts of women.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in one of his national addresses, asked each citizen to help nine poor families during the lockdown. This puts the responsibility for containing the consequences of the pandemic/lockdown squarely on the citizens, instead of instituting a government-backed social support system.
  • While the call to compassion is unremarkable, it has two implications — it minimises the urgency of state intervention required to deal with the economic crisis and it passes on the responsibility to citizens with an emphasis on citizens’ duties as against citizens’ rights.


  • Quite the reverse is happening in many other countries which have introduced huge relief packages.
  • It involves large amounts of government expenditure to provide money for workers’ wages for up to three months, giving money to companies, unemployment allowance or direct benefit transfers.
  • The Spanish government unveiled sweeping reforms that led to nationalisation of all private hospitals.
  • The U.K. extended a worker furlough (grant leave of absence to)programme that pays people idled by the pandemic till the end of October. This is similar to the Paycheck Protection Programme in the U.S.
  • Both seek to preserve jobs rather than resorting (falling to)to mass lay-offs(temporary suspension).


  • In India, transfer of cash in the past two months of lockdown could have mitigated(lessened)the most heart-breaking migrant crisis since the Partition in 1947. This was the basic requirement of justice.
  • But the government failed to transfer money to the distressed people or to small businesses and commercial establishments.
  • Failure to do so has exposed the heartlessness of the BJP government. It refuses to embrace the welfare state path adopted by most governments which believe radical change is essential for restoring a social balance underlying the welfare state of earlier years.
  • In the event, acute(severe)distress and disempowerment of the most vulnerable has further deepened existing social inequalities of Indian society.
  • The government’s lack of sympathy and concern for the stranded(trapped)migrant workers clearly shows that the system doesn’t work for everyone.
  • No wonder, migrant labourers across India have told reporters they won’t return to see such humiliation(insult)


  • Seen against the scale of distress, the government’s economic stimulus package is niggardly(miserly)based on minimal fiscal cost and minimum social spending.
  • Just about everything is included in the fiscal stimulus ranging from repaying tax refunds to loans. At this rate, even a good monsoon can be considered fiscal stimuli.
  • The immediate relief to the people is not more than 1% of the GDP. The stimulus package has been rightly dismissed by almost everyone outside the government as too little, too late.
  • Most shocking is the slew(series)of controversial reforms announced by the Finance Minister in the last episode of her five-part serial on the government’s stimulus package.
  • Instead of addressing the migrant worker crisis, the government has embarked on greater privatisation and further opening the economy to foreign capital. It has thrown open coal, defence production, space travel, among other areas, to the private sector.
  • These contentious pieces of economic reforms wouldn’t be counted as rescue package anywhere; moreover, it is wrong and unethical to push them under lockdown without parliamentary oversight.


  • The much-derided(ignored)Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and National Food Security Act (NFSA) have come to the rescue of the people.
  • Ironically, both schemes are legacies of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and both were hugely criticised by the BJP. MGNREGA was described as a “living monument” of Congress failure in addressing poverty.
  • Now the government has decided to allocate an additional ₹40,000 crore to MGNREGA. This is welcome as it will provide a semblance(likeliness)of relief during distress in rural India.
  • But in cities migrant workers do not have even thismodicum(small amount) of social security. The one important lesson that this pandemic has underlined is the urgent need for an urban employment guarantee scheme.
  • In the meantime, generous cash transfers can provide economic security. However, for this to happen, we need a more humane government responsive to the basic needs of its people

Q. 10. The slew of reforms in the defence sector to address long-standing strategic and national security concerns. Critically Examine?


  • Finance Minister had recently announced a slew of reforms in the defence sector to address long-standing strategic and national security concerns.

Key Stats

  • India, in the last one decade, had the dubious record of being the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for about 12% of global arms imports.
  • Saudi Arabia jumped to first place in 2018 and 2019, but India still takes over 9% of global imports.


  • This external dependence for weapons, spares and, in some cases, even ammunition creates vulnerabilities during military crises.
  • There are a range of platforms and subsystems, developed in India and qualified in trials, some of which face hurdles to their induction by our armed forces because of foreign competition.
    • These include missile systems such as Akash and Nag, the Light Combat Aircraft and the Light Combat Helicopter, artillery guns, radars, electronic warfare systems and armoured vehicles.
  • COVID-19 has, once again, focused minds on the impact of supply chain disruptions on both civil and defence sectors.

To find a solution to this ageing problem, we have the new Draft Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2020 and a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) tasked with promoting indigenous equipment in the armed forces.

Draft Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020

  • It aims at increasing indigenous manufacturing and reducing timelines for procurement of defence equipment by removing procedural bottlenecks.

Changes to be introduced


  • In a bid to enhance self-reliance in defence production, the government would notify a list of weapons systems for sourcing entirely from Indian manufacturers.
  • The list will be expanded and widened as and when the capabilities of Indian manufacturers enhance.
  • There would be a separate Budget provision for domestic capital procurement.
  • The government has promised a time-bound defence procurement process, overhauling trial and testing procedures and establishing a professional project management unit.

 2-Indigenization of imported spare parts would also be given priority.

  • It is also imperative that when we import weapons systems, we should plan for the ammunitions and spares for them to be eventually manufactured in India so that we are not driven to seek urgent replenishments from abroad during crises.
  • The same goes for repair, maintenance and overhaul facilities and, at the next level, the upgrade of weapons platforms.


3-Corporatizing the Ordnance Factory Board.

  • Ordnance factories have been the backbone of indigenous supplies to our armed forces.
    • The principal products of the OFB include tanks and armoured vehicles, artillery guns, small arms and weapons of several types and ammunition.
    • It also produces troop comfort equipment like uniforms, tents and boots.
  • Their structure, work culture and product range now need to be responsive to technology and quality demands of modern armed forces. Corporatisation, including public listing of some units, ensures a more efficient interface of the manufacturer with the designer and end user.


4-FDI impact

  • The FDI limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be raised from 49% to 74%.
  • It would open the door to more joint ventures of foreign and Indian companies for defence manufacturing in India.
  • It will also sustain a beehive of domestic industrial activity in the research, design and manufacture of systems and sub-systems.
  • Indian companies, which have long been sub-contractors to prominent defence manufacturers abroad, would now get the opportunity to directly contribute to Indian defence manufacturing.



  • The government has rightly clarified that self-reliance would not be sudden and hasty but gradual.
  • The thrust for indigenous research and development will coexist with the import of cutting-edge military technologies to avoid near-term defence vulnerabilities.


  • The decision to corporatize the OFB would require managing numerous other issues, the most pressing of them being to assuage the anxiety of its workforce, including officers.
    • The Board’s overall financial management could also pose an immediate challenge which, in turn, could become tangled in legal wrangling.
  • Further, an increase in the FDI cap to 74 per cent through the automatic route meets a longstanding demand by overseas companies and investors.
    • But how attractive or financially remunerative would it be for them to invest in India’s military-industrial complex would depend on the fine print and conditions predicated to this liberalisation.
  • The decision to notify and continuously update the list of weapons/platforms whose import would be prohibited seems equally restrictive and limiting.
    • In keeping with the procurement policy since 2016, there is no way the MoD can import material that is locally available or alternately can be indigenously manufactured.
    • It is unclear what additional purpose would be served by banning the import of these items. If anything, it will make it procedurally more complex to import any such item, should its induction become operationally necessary.
  • Other reforms announced by the Finance Minister include the establishment of a Project Management Unit (PMU) to ensure timely completion of the procurement process, facilitating quicker decision-making, formulation of realistic General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) and overhauling the Trial and Testing procedures.
    • It may be recalled that the former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had once publicly declared that some of the military’s QRs appeared to be out of ‘Marvel comic books’, as the technologies and capabilities they specified were ‘absurd and unrealistic’.
    • The April 2012 Defence Parliamentary Committee had also revealed that as many as 41 of the Indian Army’s tenders were scrapped because of the restrictive QRs.

Way forward

  • The armed forces should give industry a clear picture of future requirements, so that the industries can build a long-term integrated perspective plan.
  • DPP 2020 should incorporate guidelines to promote forward-looking strategic partnerships between Indian and foreign companies, with a view to achieving indigenisation over a period of time for even sophisticated platforms.
  • To give private industry a level playing field for developing defence technologies, conflicts of interest, created by the role of our Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as the government’s sole adviser, developer and evaluator of technologies have to be addressed.


  • Investment, Indian or foreign, will be viable only if the door to defence exports is opened, with a transparent policy.

Q. 11. What are the major proposals under Atmanirbhar Bharat for power sector? Critically examine the needs and issues to ensure the national energy security?



  • Finance Minister’s proposal for reform of power tariff policy as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat package.


  • The DISCOMS have been under financial stress and there have been repeated attempts at improving their condition through various initiatives and schemes from the governments.

Rising costs for DISCOMs:

  • The cost of power purchase has risen to 80% of the total costs of State DISCOMs.


Two part tariff policy:

  • The two-part tariff policy has been mandated by the Ministry of Power since the 1990s.
  • As more private developers came forward to invest in generation, DISCOMs were required to sign long-term power purchase agreements (PPA), committing to pay a fixed cost to the power generator, irrespective of whether the State draws the power or not, and a variable charge for fuel when it does.

Over optimistic projections:

  • The PPAs signed by DISCOMs were based on over-optimistic projection of power demand estimated by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
  • Due to this, DISCOMs locked into long-term contracts end up servicing perpetual fixed costs for power not drawn.
  • Due to the CEA’s overestimates, the all-India plant load factor of coal power plants is only 56%. This leads to underutilization of available capacity and increases the operating cost of the generation plants which invariably leads to higher costs for the electricity.

Renewable energy factor:

  • From 2010, solar and wind power plants were declared as “must-run”, requiring DISCOMs to absorb all renewable power, even in excess of mandatory renewable purchase obligations. The decrease in thermal generation to accommodate all available green power, entailed further idle fixed costs payable on account of two-part tariff PPAs.
  • DISCOMs are having to integrate large volumes of solar and wind energy power at relatively high tariffs (5 Rs./kwh in Karnataka and 6 Rs./kwh in Tamil Nadu for solar power).
  • In 2015 the Centre announced an ambitious target of 175 gigawatts of renewable power by 2022, offering a slew of concessions to renewable energy developers, and aggravating the burden of DISCOMs.


  • The proposal for reform of power tariff is part of the recent comprehensive proposal to amend the Electricity Act, 2003.
  • Significant changes have been proposed in the Electricity Act, 2020.
    • There is a proposal for sub-franchisees under the DISCOM service areas.
      • This in an attempt to usher in markets in the sector which the government hopes will be more efficient and accountable.
    • The amendment proposes greater concessions to renewable power developers.
      • This is in line with India’s climate action initiatives and to increase India’s energy security by making use of the renewable energy potential of India.
    • There is a proposal to eliminate the cross-subsidies in retail power tariff, which means that each consumer category would be charged what it costs to service that category.
      • This would help reduce the steep cross-subsidies in electricity being borne by the industries which make their goods and services costly in the global market.
      • The elimination of cross subsidy would entail more efficient usage of electricity.
      • The provision for direct transfer of subsidies would reduce leakage losses.
    • State regulators will henceforth be appointed by a central selection committee.
      • This is meant to ensure uniformity in appointment processes across states and also ensure the availability of a larger talent pool from across the country for appointments.
    • Establishment of a centralised Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority.
      • This would help ensure faster resolution of disputes and entail lower pendency and associated costs.



  • The sub-franchisees would invariably be private players. Private sub-franchisees are likely to pick and choose the more profitable segments of the DISCOM’s jurisdiction.
  • The Electricity Bill 2020 does not clarify whether a private sub-franchisee would be required to buy the power from the DISCOM or procure cheaper power directly from power exchanges.
  • DISCOMs will be saddled with costly power purchase from locked-in PPAs and fewer profitable areas from which to recover it, which would further deteriorate their financial health.

Renewable energy concessions:

  • The increased concessions and limits of mandatory renewable energy purchase obligations will have a cascading impact on the DISCOM’s idling fixed charges further impacting the viability of DISCOMs.

Elimination of cross-subsidies:

  • The removal of cross subsidization would result in higher tariffs for rural consumers as the rural consumers require long lines and numerous step-down transformers resulting in higher servicing costs.
  • The proposed amendment envisages State governments directly subsidising selected categories through direct benefit transfers. This would further burden State governments that are already struggling with direct power subsidies, and further deteriorate their financial position.

Increased centralization:

  • The appointment of state regulators by a central selection committee jeopardises regulatory autonomy and independence and the concurrent status of the electricity sector.
  • The establishment of a centralised Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority will transfer the power to adjudicate upon disputes relating to contracts away from State Electricity Regulatory Commissions.
  • The implementation of the proposed reforms will weaken the control of States over an industry supplying a basic human necessity such as electricity and mark an increasing centralisation of control over the sector.

Energy security:

  • The proposed changes could destabilize the functioning of the distribution utilities/companies (DISCOM) and have serious consequences for the country’s energy security.


Q.12. The misuse of criminal laws are unvoiced threat to society and can deprived the moral standards. Discuss?


  • The frequency with which journalists have been arrested since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is quite disturbing.
  • The reasons given by the police across India for arresting reporters and editors of news portals indicate that special provisions enacted to prevent the spread of rumour during disasters are being used to suppress reporting on political developments and possible governmental corruption.


  • The most egregious(worst)case involves a criminal provision that governments invariably fall back upon to suppress dissent(disagreement).
  • The arrest of Dhaval Patel, editor of a news portal in Gujarat, on the serious charge of sedition(conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch), is a shocking instance of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate(fear)
  • The case concerned an article speculating(doubt)that State Chief Minister Vijay Rupani may be replaced by the BJP for his alleged inept(poor) handling of efforts to combat the pandemic. The report had even named a possible successor.
  • It is befuddling(confusing)how such a report could amount to sedition, regardless of whether the speculation is true.
  • Oftentimes, the source of such speculation is a disgruntled(unhappy)section of the ruling party itself, and it is excessive to punish reportage with inadequate verification with arrest and prosecution for sedition.
  • Patel has also been charged under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act for allegedly spreading panic through a false alarm concerning a disaster.


  • The Editors Guild of India has seen a “growing pattern” in the misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists. The concern is not misplaced.
  • In the Andamans, a reporter was arrested for a social media post claiming people who had contacted a COVID-19 positive patient over phone were also being quarantined.
  • In Coimbatore, police arrested a news portal founder following a report on alleged corruption in food distribution as part of the local administration’s efforts to handle the fallout of the pandemic.
  • In Delhi, a reporter was summoned(called)in response to a report that claimed that an audio clip purportedly(supposedly) containing a speech by the head of the Tablighi Jamaat was doctored(manipulated).
  • While asking a journalist to join the investigation may not by itself be illegal, the police should not use the power of summons to intimidate reporters or extract details of the source.
  • There ought to be greater restraint while invoking special provisions relating to handling disasters and epidemics.
  • Section 54 only penalises(subject to a penalty or punishment)the spreading of panic relating to the severity or magnitude of a disaster — claiming falsely, for instance, that a dam had breached — and does not extend to mere incorrect reporting.


  • In normal circumstances, the authorities ought to be content with getting their version or response to be carried by the news outlets concerned, and not seek to use the pandemic as an excuse to curb(restrict)inconvenient reporting.
  • Use of sedition law to fight fake news is an attempt to suppress inconvenient reports.



Q.13. Critically examine the major provisions for farm sector under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative?


  • Farm sector reforms announced under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package.


  • The Centre’s moves for farm sector reforms have received both positive and negative feedback from the stakeholders.

Positive steps:

Agricultural infrastructure:

  • Given the lack of adequate cold-storage facilities which was causing large post-harvest losses, especially in perishables, the 1-lakh crore rupees fund to finance agriculture infrastructure projects at the farm gate and produce aggregation points is a laudable step.
  • The government’s proposal to channel the funds to agricultural cooperatives, farmer producer organisations, rural entrepreneurs and start-ups is encouraging as it lays the onus of creating the appropriate infrastructure or logistics solution largely on the principal beneficiaries, the farmers themselves. This would ensure greater effectiveness and accountability.

Promoting food processing units:

  • The 10,000 crore rupees scheme to promote the formalisation of micro food enterprises is a significant step forward.
  • cluster approach focused on different regions on signature produce would assist unorganised enterprises in scaling up food safety standards to earn the products certification and build brand value.


  • The package includes three reform proposals that are aimed at enabling better price realisation for farmers by removing restrictions and facilitating enhanced marketing freedom. It included:
    • Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act
    • Proposal for a federal law to facilitate barrier free inter-state trade of farm products
    • Law for contract farming

Essential Commodities Act:

  • Though the reforms are well-intended, the move to amend the Essential Commodities Act is fraught with risks.
    • The Essential Commodities Act has been a vital tool in the government’s armoury for protecting consumers from irrational volatility in the prices of essentials by tamping down on black marketeers and hoarders.
    • Despite the chances of harassment of even honest traders and exporters under the old act, the total deregulation for foodgrains is fraught with the risk of future inflationary food price spikes.
      • The amendment deregulates cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potato from stocking limits, all of which are essential parts of the Indian diet.

Bypassing APMC Act and contract farming law:

  • The centre seeks to bypass the APMC regime through a central law that would allow farmers the freedom to sell across State borders.
  • There is also a proposal for a framework for farmers to enter into pre-sowing contracts with buyers.
  • The proposed changes, once enacted, could privilege market forces without necessarily safeguarding food security.


  1. 14. State the different steps taken by state governments to review the economy by relaxing labour laws? Point out it’s implications?


  • Under compulsion of reviving the economy, the state governments are amending and relaxing labour laws.

Government’s arguments:

  • The government’s strategy visualises effecting an economic turnaround through improvement of India’s rank in the “ease of doing business” index, thereby attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and enthusing domestic private capital.
  • Industry associations and government are projecting these changes as necessary for enticing FDI relocating from China.
  • Flexible labour and environmental laws are key instruments through which business sentiments are being sought to be improved.
  • The extension of a work day up to 12 hours would help address the problem of labour shortages at a time when social distancing is the norm.


Labour law dilution:

  • There seems to be steady effort at easing labour laws in favour of the businesses.
  • Elements of labour law dilution were already visible in the four labour codes aimed at consolidating 44 central labour laws (on wages, industrial relations, social security and occupational safety, health and working conditions).
  • The COVID crisis seems to have provided an opportunity for the government to amplify its efforts in labour law reforms.

Minimum Wages Act:

Under Labour Code:

  • The Code on Wages, 2019 makes a distinction between national minimum wage and national floor wage.
  • The minimum wage calculated by a government-appointed committee in 2018 was ₹375 per day, whereas, the national floor wage in the same year was ₹176 per day.
  • The State governments, under the wages code, are directed to set their minimum wages only above the national floor wage. Thus, States, vying for private investments, would invariably consider the national floor wage, and this in effect would dilute the idea of minimum wage.

Under COVID crisis:

  • Some states under the current crisis have sought to exempt employers from complying with the Minimum Wages Act 1948.

Industrial Disputes Act:

Under Labour Code:

  • The Industrial Relations Code, 2019, proposes to raise the membership threshold of a trade union from 15% to 75% of the workforce in an establishment, for it to be recognised as the negotiating union.

Under COVID crisis:

  • Some states have sought to exempt employers from complying with the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
    • Therefore, employers can hire and fire workers at will.
    • Employers are allowed to offer “fixed-term” employment without any restrictions on the number of renewals.
  • The M.P. ordinance states that for new establishments, provisions guiding industrial dispute resolution, strikes/lockouts and trade unions would cease to operate.

Labour inspection:

Under Labour Code:

  • The wages code had severely eroded the inspection mechanism by snatching away the power of inspectors to conduct surprise checks. Even when violations in law are detected, they are mandated to advise, provide information and facilitate employers to comply with the law.

Under COVID crisis:

  • Some states under new amendments have sought to exempt factories employing less than 50 workers from regular inspections and allow third-party inspections.

Undemocratic route:

  • The governments have chosen the path of promulgating ordinances and notifying rules, in which labour rights have been suspended without discussion and deliberation.

Period of suspension:

  • The length of suspension of the labour rights varies from 1,000 days (M.P.) to three years (U.P.). There is no basis to expect that the impact of the lockdown will stretch for so long and it appears that State governments are competing to project themselves as investor-friendly.

Doubtful impact:

  • There are doubts over whether the suspension of labour rights, aimed at reducing labour cost, would stimulate private investment and ensure recovery.
  • Past experience does not inspire confidence.
    • The Reserve Bank of India’s policies designed to reduce the cost of borrowing capital has not been able to increase credit takeoff.
    • Reductions in corporate tax made no impact in boosting private capital and reviving growth in subsequent quarters.
  • Banking on private investment for economic recovery when the economy is facing acute uncertainty may turn out to be futile.


Q.15. Due to the current pandemic the inefficient health system has highlighted. If you are agree then state the major concerns and the present possible solutions?


  • Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package.


  • The package of 20-lakh crore rupees announced by the Prime Minister focuses on reviving economic activities, restoring livelihoods, addressing concerns of hunger and starvation, stimulating small and medium enterprises, and enhancing farm incomes. The health sector has not received much attention.


Poor state of healthcare facilities:

  • The healthcare delivery system in most States is extremely fragile given the poor state of primary healthcare facilities.
  • The public provisioning of healthcare has been found to be insufficient, of poor quality and having limited reach.

Poor resource allotment to health sector:

  • The public spending on health has been consistently low at around 1.15% of GDP for well over a decade.

Opportunity cost of COVID-19 pandemic:

  • It is possible that resources allocated for other health programmes are being diverted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The opportunity cost of such diversion of funds could be high.
  • People’s access to routine maternal and child health as well as family planning services in parts of the country has been negatively impacted. Progress made with respect to various diseases could witness setbacks.

Limitations of private sector:

  • India’s private sector in health is sizable.
    • The private sector accounts for 93% of all hospitals, 64% of all hospital beds, and 80-85% of all doctors.
  • Most private healthcare providers seem to be incapable of and unwilling to help even during a national crisis.
    • Rapidly declining revenues and sharply eroding profits are leading to the closure of many private hospitals.
    • Only a few private providers have come forward to extend support to the government.

Way forward:

Strengthening public health:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic experience has brought out the critical importance of the public sector in health provisioning.
  • There is a need to invest in universal health coverage (UHC) by reversing the financial neglect of public healthcare. Nearly every country in the world that has achieved anything like UHC has done it through the public assurance of primary healthcare.

Increasing investments in health:

  • There is a need to urgently and immediately step up investments in health.
  • new ‘health investment plan’ (as part of the stimulus package), at least 1% of the GDP, out of the stimulus package should be earmarked for improving the country’s health infrastructure and strengthening public health service delivery.

Prioritizing primary healthcare:

  • Up to 70% of the additional expenditures should be ring-fenced for primary healthcare and further strengthening health and wellness centres, primary health centres and community health centres. This would enable the State governments to be better prepared to face a second round of the pandemic.


  • Investing in health, apart from improving people’s well-being, is also essential for accelerating and sustaining India’s economic growth.


Q.16. What are the prior changes that need to be done in agriculture sector. In the present global threat what are the major concerns that has raised in the sector?


COVID-19 crisis and Agriculture:

  • Mandi closures and supply chain disruptions caused havoc in agricultural marketing during the national lockdown.
  • The third tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan has listed measures to deal with critical infrastructure gaps and long-pending governance issues that plague the farm sector.

Reforms announced in the farm sector:

  • There has been a focus on long-term issues in the agricultural sector.
    • Financing to strengthen infrastructure
    • Building better logistics and ramping up storage capacities.
    • Major governance and administrative reforms have been proposed in promoting contract farming, inter-state trade of farm produce and deregulation of agricultural produce.

Essential Commodities Act, 1955:

  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 allows the government to control price rise and inflation by imposing stock limits and movement restrictions on commodities, giving States the power to regulate dealer licensing, confiscate stock and even jail traders who fail to comply with restrictions. 
  • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 came into being at a time of food scarcity and famine.


  • Traders have complained of harassment under the Act on the suspicion of hoarding, black marketing and speculation.
  • Food processors and exporters have argued that they may need to stock commodities for longer periods of time as against the provisions of the act making them prone to harassment under the act.
  • The Act has dis-incentivized construction of storage capacity and hindered farm exports.
  • The need to amend or repeal the Act has been going on for almost two decades. 

Measures taken:

  • The Act would be amended to deregulate six categories of agricultural foodstuffs: cereals, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds, potato and onion. 
  • Stock limits on these commodities will not be imposed except in times of a national calamity or a famine.
  • The stock restrictions will not be imposed at all on food processors or value chain participants, which/who will be allowed to store as much as allowed by their installed capacity. 
  • Exporters will also be exempted from stock limitations.


  • The amendment will bring more private investment into warehouses and post-harvest agricultural infrastructure, including processors, mills and cold chain storage. 
  • The amendment is likely to give a boost to farm exports.
  • The farmers would be able to realize better prices for their produce.

Promoting inter-state trade:

Model APMC Amendment Act and concerns:

  • The Central government has been trying to coax State governments into adopting its Model APMC Amendment Act which aims at developing unified State-level markets by offering a State-wide licence and single point levy of market fees while also allowing private markets, direct marketing, ad hoc wholesale buying and e-trading.
  • However, only a few large States have amended their Acts accordingly.

Measures taken:

  • The Centre plans to bring in a new federal law to break the nearly half-century long monopoly of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. The federal law aims to abolish inter-State trade barriers.


  • A National market will bring in more options for the farmer, offering more competitive prices for the farmers.

Contract Farming:

  • Contract farming can be defined as agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products.


  • Contract farming seems to promote the interests of the large corporate player at the expense of safeguarding the small farmer.

 Measures taken:

  • There are plans to ensure a facilitative legal framework to oversee contract farming.


  • Contract farming would provide farmers with assured sale prices and quantities even before the crop is sown and also allow private players to invest in inputs and technology in the agricultural sector.

Infrastructural investments:


  • Reforming governance structures is of no use unless there is adequate infrastructure available for the farmers to back the reforms in the governance structures.
  • There are critical infrastructure gaps in the agricultural sector.

Measures taken:

  • 1-lakh crore rupee agriculture infrastructure fund run by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will help create affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure at the farm gate and aggregation points.


  • This move would help bring better infrastructure and logistics support to fish workers, dairy and other livestock farmers, beekeepers and vegetable and medicinal plant growers.
  • The new scheme also offers support to lakhs of small informal food processors, mostly women, who need technical upgradation and marketing support in order to compete in a changing marketplace.


  • A section of farmers and activists have argued that in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, immediate support and relief in the form of cash transfers, loan waivers, and compensation for unsold produce should have come before long-term reforms.
  • The government’s rationale for the structural reforms was that improving farmers’ income needs long-term investments and changes, rather than a focus on short-term crop loans.
  • Taking the opportunity of a crisis situation, the government has pushed through reforms that the Centre has been trying to implement for years.


Q.17. To revive the economy MSMEs can play vital role. Address the main issues in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector?


  • The Prime Minister has announced a 20-lakh crore rupees economic relief package titled Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. 
  • The relief package is being unveiled in tranches. 
  • The first tranche was aimed at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)DISCOMS and at some individuals.

Financial crisis in MSMEs:


  • The MSMEs are facing a financial liquidity crunch due to the closures on account of the national lockdown.
  • Banks, though flush with funds, have been unwilling to lend to this category of borrowers as they fear that the money will not be repaid. 
  • The small businesses having pledged all their assets already for other loans do not have any more assets to pledge.

Measures taken:

  • The government has proposed to offer collateral-free loans to MSMEs which will be fully guaranteed by the Centre
  • There will be a principal repayment moratorium for 12 months and the interest rate will be capped and there will be no guarantee fee.
  • A total of 3-lakh crore rupees have been allocated for this.


  • The loan amount will act as initial seed money for the small enterprises hit by zero cash flow due to the national lockdown. 
  • The loan amount will help them buy raw materials, pay initial bills and daily wages to employees. In short, this will be like working capital for cranking up their businesses again.
  • About 45 lakh MSMEs are expected to gain from this proposal.

Access to funding: 


  • About two lakh stressed MSMEs are facing the issue of non-performing assets (NPAs).

Measures taken:

Credit guarantee fund:

  • A partial credit guarantee scheme has been extended to enable promoters of MSMEs to increase their equity.
  • A total of 20,000 crore rupees will be funnelled through the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) whereby banks will lend money to promoters which can be infused as equity in their businesses. The CGTMSE will offer a partial credit guarantee to banks.

Fund of funds system:

  • There is a proposal to infuse equity into MSMEs through a Fund of funds system where the government will provide 10,000 crore rupees as initial corpus of the Fund. This will be leveraged to raise 50,000 crore rupees in total. This fund will be used to support MSMEs in desperate need of equity.


  • The increased access to funding will allow the MSMEs to expand their size and capacity and help them get listed on the stock exchanges.

Definition of MSMEs:


  • MSMEs in order to ensure that they continue to receive the benefits available to MSMEs, either run their operations at a reduced level or incorporate multiple units so that turnover is distributed in a way that they remain within the threshold that will give them the benefits. This was limiting the growth potential of the MSMEs.

Measures taken:

  • Henceforth MSMEs will be defined not based on their investment alone but also on their turnover. The definition has been tweaked and the existing distinction between manufacturing and services units has been eliminated.
  • Henceforth, a unit with up to 1 crore rupees investment and 5 crore rupees turnover will qualify as a micro unit, investment up to 10 crore rupees and turnover up to 50 crore rupees will qualify as a small unit, and investment up to 20 crore rupee and turnover up to 100 crore rupees will qualify as a medium enterprise. 


  • The decision to add turnover criteria to investment would ensure that the units that leverage a small capital to post large revenues do not receive the benefits that are meant for MSMEs.

Proposals for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs):


  • NBFCs, housing finance companies and micro finance institutions are finding it difficult to raise debt capital due to a confidence crisis in the debt markets. 

Measures taken:

  • The government has announced a special liquidity scheme of 30,000 crore rupees to buy investment grade debt paper from both primary and secondary markets. Such paper will be fully guaranteed by the government
  • Partial credit guarantee scheme has been extended to cover primary market debt paper wherein the first 20% loss will be borne by the government. A total of 45,000 crore has been set aside for this Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme 2.0.


  • The special liquidity scheme is expected to break the low confidence cycle in the market for lending to the NBFCs, housing finance companies and microfinance institutions.
  • It will help these low rated finance companies to raise debt.

Electricity distribution companies (discoms):


  • Discoms are in a huge liquidity crisis and unable to pay their dues to electricity generation companies. Their cash flow and revenues have been hit due to low demand from industrial consumers for power during the lockdown. 
  • The various State discoms together owe about 94,000 crore rupees to their suppliers, the generation and transmission companies.

Measures taken:

  • The government, through Power Finance Corporation-Rural Electrification Corporation, will infuse liquidity of 90,000 crore rupees to discoms which will be securitised against their receivables from consumers. 
  • The loans will be against a guarantee from the respective State related to the discom. 


  • The emergency liquidity infusion will avert a crisis where generation and transmission companies stop supplies to discoms that are in default.

Measures for the common man:

  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, the government offered to pay the 24% provident fund contribution (employer+employee) for those earning up to 15,000 rupees a month as salary and working in units that employ less than 100 workers for three months. This has now been extended for another three months up to August 2020.
  • The statutory PF contribution for those employed in the private sector and not in the category of establishments as above has been reduced to 10% (from 12% now) for the next three months in order to increase liquidity in their hands. 
  • The rate of tax deducted at source (TDS) and tax collected at source (TCS) has been reduced by 25% for a range of receipts. In the cases where TDS/TCS has been reduced, the tax liability is not reduced. It will be payable while filing a return or while paying advance tax. 


  • The PF proposal is expected to benefit 4.3 crore people and 6.5 lakh establishments and release a total of 6,750 crore rupees liquidity.
  • The reduction in TDS and TCS will offer immediate cash relief to people.


Q.18. What are the major alternatives to restart the Economy. With the present examples explain the judgements of the apex court?


  • Supreme Court Judgment on Liquor sale in Tamil Nadu.


  • Faced with dwindling revenue due to the stagnation in economic activity since the national lockdown began, States desperate to raise money have resorted to restarting liquor sales.
  • Tamil Nadu had restarted liquor sales through outlets of the State-run TASMAC. The Madras High Court initially allowed the State government to open its network of liquor shops, subject to several conditions for maintaining physical distancing. However, after overwhelming evidence of lack of physical distancing, the HC banned across-the-counter sales and directed that only online sale be permitted.
  • Tamil Nadu Government had approached the Supreme Court to obtain a stay on the Madras High Court order.


  • Keeping with its other interim orders on similar petitions from other states, SC stayed the HC order, paving the way for the resumption of sales through outlets.

SC’s take:

  • The State government’s argument that the HC ought not to have interfered in a policy matter seems to have convinced the SC.
  • The SC seems to be mindful of the need to preserve the policy space of States, choosing not to impose its views or ideas on any government. It wants the state to decide on the viability of opening liquor sales without leading to any adverse spread of the pandemic.


  • The number of people testing positive for the novel coronavirus is increasing in Tamil Nadu. The opening of liquor outlets may increase the rate of infection.
  • SC’s observation that online sale is not possible in a State like Tamil Nadu seems to be questionable.

Way forward:

  • The State government has to live up to its promise of preventing overcrowding in the vicinity of the liquor outlets.


Q.19. With respect to the workers issues evaluate the Labour Laws in India?

The editorial argues that labour laws are civilizational goals and cannot be trumped on the excuse of a pandemic.


  • Through the public health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are being abandoned by their employers and, above all, by the state.
  • The workers’ right to go home was curbed using the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • Adequate provisions were not made available for their food, shelter or medical relief.
  • Wage payments were not ensured, and the state’s cash and food relief did not cover most workers.
  • When the centre issued orders permitting their return to their home States, state governments responded by delaying travel facilities for the workers to ensure uninterrupted supply of labour for employers.
  • Employers now want labour laws to be relaxed.
  • The Uttar Pradesh government has issued an ordinance keeping in abeyance almost all labour statutes including laws on maternity benefits and gratuity; the Factories Act, 1948; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Industrial Establishments (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; and the Trade Unions Act, 1926.
  • Several States have exempted industries from complying with various provisions of laws.
  • The Confederation of Indian Industry has suggested 12-hour work shifts and that governments issue directions to make workers join duty failing which the workers would face penal actions.

Thus, after an organised abandonment of the unorganised workforce, the employers want the state to reintroduce laissez-faire and a system of indenture for the organised workforce too. This will take away the protection conferred on organised labour by Parliament.

Colonial exploitation:

  • What India is witnessing today bears a horrifying resemblance to what happened over 150 years ago in British India.
  • The move is reminiscent of the barbaric system of indentured labour introduced through the Bengal Regulations VII, 1819 for the British planters in Assam tea estates.
    • Workers had to work under a five-year contract and desertion was made punishable.
  • Later, the Transport of Native Labourers’ Act, 1863 was passed in Bengal.
    • It strengthened control of the employers and even enabled them to detain labourers in the district of employment and imprison them for six months.
  • Bengal Act VI of 1865 was later passed.
    • It deployed Special Emigration Police to prevent labourers from leaving, and return them to the plantation after detention.
  • Factory workers too faced severe exploitation and were made to work 16-hour days for a pittance. Their protests led to the Factories Act of 1911 which introduced 12-hour work shifts. Yet, the low wages, arbitrary wage cuts and other harsh conditions forced workers into debt slavery.

Evolution of Labour Laws in India:

  • The labour laws in India have emerged out of workers’ struggles, which were very much part of the freedom movement against oppressive colonial industrialists.
  • Since the 1920s there were a series of strikes and agitations for better working conditions. Several trade unionists were arrested under the Defence of India Rules.
  • The workers’ demands were supported by our political leaders.
  • Britain was forced to appoint the Royal Commission on Labour, which gave a report in 1935.
  • The Government of India Act, 1935 enabled greater representation of Indians in law-making.
  • This resulted in reforms, which are forerunners to the present labour enactments.
  • The indentured plantation labour saw relief in the form of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.
  • By a democratic legislative process, the Parliament stepped in to protect labour.

Dignity through democracy

  • The Factories Act lays down eight-hour work shifts, with overtime wages, weekly offs, leave with wages and measures for health, hygiene and safety.
  • The Industrial Disputes Act provides for workers’ participation to resolve wage and other disputes through negotiations so that strikes/lockouts, unjust retrenchments and dismissals are avoided.
  • The Minimum Wages Act ensures wages below which it is not possible to subsist.
  • These enactments further the Directive Principles of State Policy and protect the right to life and the right against exploitation under Articles 21 and 23.
  • Trade unions have played critical roles in transforming the life of a worker from that of servitude to one of dignity. Any move to undo these laws will push the workers a century backwards.
  • Considering the underlying constitutional goals of these laws, Parliament did not delegate to the executive any blanket powers of exemption.
  • Section 5 of the Factories Act empowers the State governments to exempt only in case of a “public emergency”, which is explained as a “grave emergency whereby the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or internal disturbance”.
    • There is no such threat to the security of India now.
    • Hours of work or holidays cannot be exempted even for public institutions.
  • Section 36B of the Industrial Disputes Act enables exemption for a government industry only if provisions exist for investigations and settlements.

No statutory support:

  • The orders of the State governments lack statutory support.
  • Labour is a concurrent subject in the Constitution and most pieces of labour legislation are Central enactments.
  • The Constitution does not envisage approval by the President of a State Ordinance which makes a whole slew of laws enacted by Parliament inoperable in the absence of corresponding legislations on the same subject.
  • Almost all labour contracts are now governed by statutes, settlements or adjudicated awards arrived through democratic processes in which labour has been accorded at least procedural equality. Such procedures ensure progress of a nation.
  • In the Life Insurance Corporation v. D. J. Bahadur & Ors (1980) case, the Supreme Court highlighted that any changes in the conditions of service can be only through a democratic process of negotiations or legislation. 


  • The orders and ordinances issued by the State governments are undemocratic and unconstitutional. The existing conditions of labour will have to be continued.
  • Global corporations had their origins in instruments of colonialism and their legacy was inherited by Indian capital post-Independence. The resurgence of such a colonial mindset is a danger to society and the well-being of millions and puts at risk the health and safety of not only the workforce but their families too.
  • In the unequal bargaining power between capital and labour, regulatory laws provide a countervailing balance and ensure the dignity of labour.
  • Governments have a constitutional duty to ensure just, humane conditions of work and maternity benefits.
  • The health and strength of the workers cannot be abused by force of economic necessity


  1. 20. Discuss the major reforms taken by the government to recover the economy from the impact of the global crisis?


  • Union Finance Minister has announced a slew of measures to help businesses including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister to spur growth and help build a self-reliant India.


  • The PM announced an economic stimulus package for ₹20 lakh crore (estimated at 10% of the GDP), with a clearly defined leap towards economic reforms with an aim to transform the country to Atmanirbhar Bharat, or a self-reliant, resilient India.
  • The package includes the ongoing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), meant to support the poorest and most vulnerable communities during the pandemic, as well as several measures taken by the Reserve Bank of India to improve liquidity.
  • More tranches are expected in the coming weeks.


  • The 16 specific announcements announced in the first tranche cut across sectors that range from MSME and NBFCs to real estate and power distribution and the salaried.
  • The overarching theme was that of infusing liquidity, engineering a pass-through effect that ultimately puts more disposable funds in the hands of both entrepreneurs and employees.

For employees/ tax payers:

  • For salaried workers and taxpayers, relief has been provided in the form of an extended deadline for income tax returns for the financial year 2019-20.
    • The due date has been pushed to November 30, 2020.
  • The rates of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) and Tax Collection at Source (TCS) have been cut by 25% for the next year.
  • Employee Provident Fund (EPF) support, provided to low-income organised workers in small units under the PMGKY is being extended for another three months.
    • It is expected to provide liquidity relief of ₹2,500 crore.
  • Statutory Provident Fund (PF) payments have been reduced from 12% to 10% for both employers and employees for the next three months.

For MSMEs:

  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will get the bulk of the funding.
  • The ₹3 lakh crore emergency credit line announced will ensure that 45 lakh units will have access to working capital to resume business activity and safeguard jobs.
  • For two lakh MSMEs which are stressed or considered non-performing assets, the Centre will facilitate provision of ₹20,000 crore as subordinate debt.
  • A ₹50,000 crore equity infusion is also planned, through an MSME fund of funds with a corpus of ₹10,000 crore.
  • The definition of an MSME is being expanded to allow for higher investment limits and the introduction of turnover-based criteria.
  • In a bid to fulfil the Prime Minister’s vision of a self-reliant or “atmanirbhar” India, global tenders will not be allowed for government procurement up to ₹200 crore.
  • The government and central public sector enterprises will release all funds due to MSMEs within 45 days.

For NBFCs:

  • The government announced Rs 30,000 crore of a special liquidity scheme, under which investment will be made in investment grade debt papers of these institutions.
    • If a government entity directly buys debt papers of these entities, then it would provide major relief.
    • The contours of this scheme are yet to be announced.
  • The government has also extended the partial credit guarantee scheme — under which it guarantees 20 per cent of the first loss to the lenders — NBFCs, HFCs and MFIs with low credit rating.
  • This scheme is estimated to result in liquidity injection of Rs 45,000 crore in debt papers that are rated AA or lower and even unrated securities issued by such entities, including the Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).
  • It is believed that it will improve confidence in the financial system and help institutions raise funds in the debt market, and reduce risk aversion of banks.


  • ₹90,000 Cr. Liquidity Injection has been announced for DISCOMs.
  • The ₹90,000 crore reform-linked injection will help in clearing the outstanding dues of DISCOMs.
    • The dues of DISCOMs to power generation and transmission firms are to the tune of ₹94,000 crore.
    • State-owned Power Finance Corp. (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corp. (REC) will infuse the liquidity by raising ₹90,000 crore from the markets against the receivables of DISCOMs.
    • These funds will be then given to DISCOMs against state government guarantees for the sole purpose of discharging their liabilities.
    • The idea is to clear the payment backlog with concessional loans guaranteed by the respective state governments.

For Real Estate:

  • The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry will advise States and Union Territories and their regulatory authorities to extend the registration and completion date of real estate projects by six months.
  • Six-month extension and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic as an event of force majeure, like a natural calamity, under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act would de-stress the sector and ensure completion of projects.


  • Concerns have been expressed that risk-averse bankers may not extend the loan benefits to all MSMEs despite the government’s 100% credit guarantee.
  • Criticisms have been raised with respect to the economic package not including measures for market development to encourage public spending, employment generation or development of health infrastructure to combat the post COVID situation.
  • It is argued that the government must spend more and should not be unduly bothered about running up a high fiscal deficit. Suggestions have been made that the government could monetise part of the deficit if it reached a worrying level.


  • While the package is unlikely to create much stress for the fiscal exchequer as most of the measures are focused on off-balance sheet support through credit guarantees and tax deferment, the success of the scheme rests on these measures working as a multiplier to improve the risk appetite of lenders and catalyse fresh funding of distressed smaller firms.
  • The announcements break the confidence logjam in the credit market and give the assurance to lenders and borrowers that the government is willing to backstop their commitments.
  • It is believed that, taken as a whole, the measures announced will go a long way in lifting the spirits of the two key and troubled sectors of MSMEs and NBFCs.


  1. 21. Point out the major stapes taken by the state governments to ensure and boost the economic activities. Why the governments steps are unwelcomed by the Society?


With the need for revival of business and economic activity after weeks of forced closure, interests of labourers and workers are being sacrificed. Several States across India are ignoring the welfare laws for workers in the name of boosting economic activity.

  • The government of Uttar Pradesh, last week, introduced an ordinance that has scrapped most labour laws for three years — ostensibly for creating jobs and for attracting factories exiting China following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
  • These laws deal with the occupational safety, health and working conditions of workers, regulation of hours of work, wages and settlement of industrial disputes.
  • They apply mostly to the economy’s organised (formal) sector, that is, registered factories and companies, and large establishments in general.
  • Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have quickly followed suit.
  • Punjab has already allowed 12-hour shifts per day (72 hours per week) in factories without overtime payment to overcome worker shortage after the migrants have left in the wake of the national lockdown.


  • In the wake of the lockdown, India has witnessed unheard of human distress as lakhs of migrant workers continue to desperately trudge to their villages after losing their jobs, livelihoods, and toeholds in cities.
  • Despite overflowing food grain stocks, governments have been miserly in providing adequate food security.
  • Income support to workers to retain them in their places of work has also been lacking.
  • Significantly, migrant labour will be critical to restore production once the lockdown is lifted. In fact, factories and shops are already staring at worker shortages.
  • Instead of encouraging workers to stay back or return to cities by ensuring livelihood support and safety nets, State governments have sought to strip workers of their fundamental rights.
  • Employers’ associations have urged the central government to do away with most labour rights to address temporary labour shortages.

Effects of such measures:

  • Scrapping labour laws to save on labour costs would reduce wages, lower earnings (particularly of low wage workers) and reduce consumer demand.
  • Further, it will lead to an increase of low paid work that offers no security of tenure or income stability.
  • It will increase informal employment in the formal sector instead of encouraging the growth of formal work.
  • Depriving workers of fundamental rights such as freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and a set of primary working conditions (such as adequate living wages, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces), will create a fertile ground for the exploitation of the working class.
  • The rationale for scrapping labour laws to attract investment and boost manufacturing growth poses two additional questions.
    1. If the laws were in fact so strongly pro-worker, they would have raised wages and reduced business profitability.
      • But the real wage growth (net of inflation) of directly employed workers in the factory sector has been flat (2000-01 to 2015-16) as firms have increasingly resorted to casualisation and informalisation of the workforce to suppress workers’ bargaining power, evidence suggests.
    1. Industrial performance is not just a function of the labour laws but of the size of the market, fixed investment growth, credit availability, infrastructure, and government policies.
      • There is little evidence to suggest that amendment of key labour laws by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in 2014 took them any closer to their goal of creating more jobs or industrial growth.

Way forward:

  • India’s complex web of labour laws, with around 47 central laws and 200 State laws, need rationalisation.
  • Reforms need to maintain a delicate balance between the need for firms to adapt to ever-changing market conditions and workers’ employment security.
  • As India battles the economic and social consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many State governments have seized the opportunity to scrap labour laws on the pretext of encouraging employment. Such a decision makes little economic sense, as it will reduce share of wages in output, thereby reducing growth in domestic demand and hurting output expansion.
  • It is amoral on the part of the States to address the need of revival of economic activity by granting sweeping exemptions from legal provisions aimed at protecting labourers in factories and industries. Such ordinances or measures must be revoked.


  • The slowdown is due to lack of demand, not of supply, as widely suggested. With massive job and income losses after the lockdown, aggregate demand has totally slumped, with practically no growth. Therefore, the way to restart the economy is to provide income support and restore jobs.
  • This will not only address the humanitarian crisis but also help revive consumer demand by augmenting incomes.

Food and cash transfers first

  • The immediate need is to provide free food and cash transfers to those rendered incomeless.
  • Providing every household with ₹7,000 per month for a period of three months and every individual with 10 kg of free foodgrains per month for a period of six months is likely to cost around 3% of our GDP (assuming 20% voluntary dropout).
  • This could be financed immediately through larger borrowing by the Centre from the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The required cash and food have to be handed over to State governments to make the actual transfers, along with outstanding Goods and Services Tax compensation.
  • This is doable, as, foodgrains are plentiful, as the Food Corporation of India had 77 million tonnes, and Rabi procurement could add 40 million tonnes.
  • Putting money in the hands of the poor is the best stimulus to economic revival, as it creates effective demand and in local markets. Hence, an immediate programme of food and cash transfers must command the highest priority.

Revamp MGNREGA work

  • The post-lockdown world will be different for several reasons.
  • Millions of migrant workers have endured immense hardships to trudge back home, and are unlikely to return to towns in the foreseeable future.
  • Employment has to be provided to them where they are, for which the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) must be expanded greatly and revamped with wage arrears paid immediately.
  • Work must be provided on demand without any limit to all adults.
  • And permissible work must include not just agricultural and construction work, but work in rural enterprises and in care activities too.
  • The revamped MGNREGS could cover wage bills of rural enterprises started by panchayats, along with those of existing rural enterprises. This can be an alternative strategy of development, recalling the successful experience of China’s Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs).
  • Public banks could provide credit to such panchayat-owned enterprises and also assume a nurturing role vis-à-vis them.
  • The MGNREGS can be used for boosting agricultural growth.
  • Agricultural growth in turn can promote rural enterprises, both by creating a demand for their products and by providing inputs for them to process; and both these activities would generate substantial rural employment.

The urban focus:

  • In urban areas, it is absolutely essential to revive the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Simultaneously, the vast numbers of workers who have stayed on in towns have to be provided with employment and income after our proposed cash transfers run out.
  • The best way to overcome both problems would be to introduce an Urban Employment Guarantee Programme, to serve diverse groups of the urban unemployed, including the educated unemployed.
  • Urban local bodies must take charge of this programme, and would need to be revamped for this purpose.
  • “Permissible” work under this programme should include, for the present, work in the MSMEs.
  • It should imaginatively also include care work, including of old, disabled and ailing persons, educational activities, and ensuring public services in slums.

The ‘care’ economy:

  • The pandemic has underscored the extreme importance of a public health-care system, and the folly of privatisation of essential services.
  • The post-pandemic period must see significant increases in public expenditure on education and health, especially primary and secondary health including for the urban and rural poor.
  • The “care economy” provides immense scope for increasing employment.
  • Vacancies in public employment, especially in such activities, must be immediately filled.
  • The status of healthcare workers such as anganwadi workers must be improved to treat them as regular government employees. They must be given proper remuneration and associated benefits.

Increasing Public Revenue:

  • A combination of wealth and inheritance taxation and getting multinational companies to pay the same effective rate as local companies through a system of unitary taxation will garner substantial public revenue.
  • They will also reduce wealth and income inequalities. A 2% wealth tax on the top 1% of the population, together with a 33% inheritance tax on the wealth they pass on every year to their progeny, could finance an increase in government expenditure to the tune of 10% of GDP.
  • Also, a fresh issue of special drawing rights by the International Monetary Fund (which India has surprisingly opposed along with the United States) would provide additional external resources.
  • These additional resources would suffice to finance the institution of five universal, justiciable, fundamental economic rights: the right to food, the right to employment, the right to free public health care, the right to free public education and the right to a living old-age pension and disability benefits.
  • The broken economy must be rebuilt in ways to ensure a life of dignity to the most disadvantaged citizen.


Q.22. Due to the pandemic the rights of people in India has effected specially related to the migrant workers. Discuss?


  • State governments are in the process of removing and altering labour laws.


Freedom movement:

  • Rights of labour were a predominant theme of the freedom struggle and the labour movements have contributed to the successful freedom struggle.
  • The 1931 Karachi Declaration and Bill of Rights, often considered a fore-runner to the Constitution, place labour rights on a par with ordinary civil rights such as the freedom of speech and expression. It noted that political freedom must also include real economic freedom for the people.

Constitutional history:

  • The normal understanding of the purpose of constitutions has been to limit state power, in order to preserve the freedom of the individual.
  • However, the Constituent Assembly of India in general, and B.R. Ambedkar in particular, argued against such a narrow understanding of freedom.
  • Given the role of private parties — individuals and corporations —over the economic and social life of a nation, B.R. Ambedkar argued that fundamental rights must also consider and eliminate the possibility of the more powerful having the power to impose arbitrary restraints on the less powerful in terms of economic life of the people.

Judicial stand:

  • In 1983, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to address the exploitation of migrant and contract labourers, who had been put to work in constructing the Asian Games Village in New Delhi.
  • The Supreme Court in the PUDR vs. Union of India case made some important observations:
    • SC noted that often, migrant and contract labourers, under the compulsion of economic circumstance, had no real choice but to accept any work that came their way, even if the remuneration offered was less than the minimum wage.
    • The Court held that the compulsion of economic circumstance compelling a person to provide labour or service was no less a form of forced labour than any other.
  • The Court held that the right against forced labour included the right to a minimum wage and insisted on a constitutional guarantee of minimum wages.

Consolidation of labour laws:

  • The Parliament is consolidating 29 existing labour laws into four codes dealing with wages, occupational safety and health, industrial relations and social security.


  • The author of the article argues that the steps being taken by the State governments in removing labour laws are unconstitutional.

Constitutional provisions:

  • The strong ideals and principles of the freedom movement eventually found their way into the Indian Constitution in the form of Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights
    • Article 23 of the Indian Constitution provides for the right against forced labour.
    • The State shall endeavour to provide the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of economic capacity as per Article 41.
    • Article 43 says workers should have the right to a living wage and “conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life”.
    • The State shall take steps to promote their participation in management of industrial undertakings as per Article 43A.

Concept of “force” and “freedom”:

  • Forced labour may not be only due to physical force or threat of physical harm. This constitutes a very narrow understanding of forced labour of freedom per se.
  • Such an understanding ignores the compulsion that is exerted by differences of power, social or economic status. These forces are equally severe as physical force or threat of physical harm. In such circumstances, poor and vulnerable people driven by the need to earn a livelihood can be placed in positions where they have no genuine choices left.
  • K.T. Shah, a member of the Constituent Assembly, had famously written, “necessitous men are not free men”.

COVID-19 crisis:

  • Various State governments are in the process of removing labour laws (for a set period of time).
  • This would lead to a situation where the economic power exercised by capital will be left unchecked. This could lead to increase in hours of work, removal of minimum wages and reduction of wages.
  • The author argues that the steps being taken by various State governments in relaxing labour laws, under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, are grossly unconstitutional.


Market Economy:

  • In a market economy, there is a marked inequality between capital and labour, more so in a country like India with pre-existing inequalities in the society.
  • The inequality results in a lower bargaining power for the labourer class and enables the factory owners to “make the rules” for the labourers. The author refers to this as a form of “private government”, wherein there is unilateral term-setting in the workplace.
  • The recent rise of the platform or gig economy has led to the rise of casualization and precarious employment which further limits labour unionism and deepens the inequality of power.
  • There have been rapid changes in the nature of work which are rendering old concepts of jobs and employments obsolete.

Labour laws:

  • Labour laws aim to mitigate the supposed imbalance of power between capital and labour.
  • In India, there have been a detailed set of laws, covering different aspects of the workplace. These are enforced by the State agencies.
  • India’s labour law structure has been criticised on multiple counts.
    • The labour bureaucracy as envisaged by the labour laws of India is prone to corruption.
    • The adjudicatory mechanisms are inefficient. The judiciary has not been able to ensure the protection of the rights of the labour class.
    • The labour laws predominantly cater to the formal workforce with very less provisions in place for the contract labour or informal employment which account for a majority of the workforce.

Way forward:

  • There is a need for a nuanced debate on the future of labour rights guided by B.R. Ambedkar’s insights, the constitutional guarantee against forced labour, and an understanding of force and freedom that takes into account differences in power.


Q.23. Critically examine the recent changes in labour laws in the context of India?


  • In the light of the economic crisis brought out by the COVID-19 pandemic, many States have made changes to their labour laws.


  • States like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have made changes to their labour laws.
  • The major changes include the increase in maximum daily hours of work, provisions for increase in allowable overtime, reduced compensation for overtime work and reduced regulations for industries with respect to labour laws.
  • The mode of changes made and the applicability period of the exemptions differ from state to state.
    • Most States have used the public emergency provision under the Factories Act and have issued corresponding notifications.
      • The Factories Act allows State governments to exempt factories from the provisions of the Act during public emergencies for a maximum period of three months. A public emergency is defined as a grave emergency whereby the security of India or any part is threatened by war, external aggression or internal disturbance. The states using this provision have interpreted the current situation as an emergency.
    • Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh state governments have issued ordinances to amend existing laws.
      • M.P. has suspended most provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1946 (except those related to retrenchment and layoffs) for 1,000 days for State undertakings.
      • The Uttar Pradesh government has approved an ordinance that exempts establishments from all labour laws for three years with some exceptions.

Legality of changes made:

  • An analysis of the process employed by the state governments to amend the concerned labour laws indicates that the changes made are legal.
    • The states have used provisions enlisted in already existing laws.
    • As per the Constitution, the legislature has the authority to make laws. Such laws could delegate powers to the government which are in the nature of detailing some requirements.
    • The Constitution permits Central and State governments to make laws through the issuance of an ordinance when the legislature is not in session. Such a law needs to be ratified by the legislature within six weeks of the beginning of the next session.


Lack of consultation and scrutiny:

  • While the changes made are lawful, the lack of consultation and scrutiny by the legislature before making such far-reaching changes in labour law provisions is a concern.
  • Usually, any change in an Act must follow a rigorous process of public consultation, scrutiny by committees of Parliament, and debates in the House before being approved.
  • The legitimacy of state action in a parliamentary democracy comes from the fact that there is constant oversight and check by elected representatives.

Counter arguments:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an economic shock which, if not attended to, would severely impact the economy both in the short as well as long term. Given the severity of the crisis, there is a need for drastic measures to revive the economy.
  • Given the emergency, the government has to take quick action and change the response as the situation evolves. Given the urgency for changes, there has been no scope for a rigorous consultation process. However, since most of the changes have a three-month time limit, any extension would need to be approved by the legislature. Also, the issued ordinances will have to be ratified by the legislatures after they convene.
  • The exemptions would be applicable only for a specified period and are not permanent changes.
  • The exemptions are not complete and critical provisions like safety and security of workers, provisions related to employing women and children, payment of wages on time and above prescribed minimum wages, retrenchment and layoffs would still be regulated.

Additional information:

  • As some of the changes made by the state governments override certain provisions of some Central laws, the changes will require the assent of the President.


Q.24. Examine the different inter-state workers acts, discuss the main provisions of the acts to protect the inter-state workers issues?


  • Inter-state migrant labour issue.


Migrant labour issue:

  • The nationwide lockdown has caused immense distress to migrant workers around the country.
  • Many of the migrant labourers have been seen trying to walk home to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha from their places of work in Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat etc.
  • There is growing concern over the welfare of the migrant labourers and the lack of legal protection for their rights.

Labour law reforms:

  • The current administration with the intention to consolidate and reform labour law, has introduced the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019.
  • The proposed code seeks to merge 13 labour laws into a single piece of legislation. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, is one of them.


The Inter-State Migrant Workmen act, 1979:

  • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 regulates the employment, conditions of service and working conditions of inter-State migrants.


  • It is applicable to every establishment that employs five or more migrant workmen from other States; or if it had employed five or more such workmen on any day in the preceding 12 months.
  • It is also applicable to contractors who employed a similar number of inter-State workmen.


  • The act envisages a system of registration wherein the principal employer is prohibited from employing inter-State workmen without a certificate of registration from the relevant authority.
  • Every contractor who recruits workmen from one State for deployment in another State should obtain a licence.


  • The 1979 act has been an important step towards ensuring labour welfare for migrant labourers.
    • The provision for registration creates a system of accountability on the part of employers. It also helps the government keep track of the number of workers employed and provides a legal basis for regulating their conditions of service.
    • As part of the licensing process, contractors are bound by certain conditions. These include remuneration payable, hours of work, fixation of wages and other essential amenities in respect of the inter-State migrant workmen.
    • As per the act the wage rates, holidays, hours of work and other conditions of service of an inter-State migrant workman shall be the same as those extended to other workmen in the same establishment, if the nature of their work is similar. In no case, shall the wages be lower than what is prescribed under the Minimum Wages Act.


Lack of implementation of 1979 act:

  • The lack of serious implementation of the 1979 act has led to the rights of migrant labourers being ignored and they being exploited.

Concerns regarding consolidation of labour laws:

  • The attempt to consolidate laws relating to occupational safety, health and working conditions may lead to the repealing of many separate laws concerning various kinds of workers and labourers.
    • The proposed law seeks to repeal 13 Acts such as the Factories Act, Mines Act, Dock Workers’ Act, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, and other enactments relating to those working in plantations, construction, cinema, beedi and cigarette manufacture, motor transport, and the media.
  • There are concerns that specific safeguards given to migrant workers may be lost as a result of this consolidation.

Provisions with respect to migrant workers:

  • Though the Code contains provisions similar to the 1979 Act regarding registration of establishments, licensing of contractors and the inclusion of terms and conditions on hours of work, wages and amenities and like the 1979 Act envisages the payment of a displacement allowance and a journey allowance to inter-State migrant workers, there are still some concerns.
  • Under the proposed occupational safety, health and working conditions code bill, inter-State migrant workers have been included under the definition of ‘contract labour’.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations to have a separate chapter for migrant workers and have special provisions for them to ensure their safety and health have not been included.

Way forward:

  • The unprecedented distress and misery faced by migrant workers due to the current lockdown indicate the vulnerability of this section and it would be better to have a separate enactment dedicated to the welfare of migrant labourers.


Q.25. The global crisis has pave the way for India as an golden opportunity. How India can grab the opportunity?

Current Geo-political Scenario:

India finds itself in a world that is fragmenting and slowing down economically. The country is in a new geopolitical situation, caused primarily by the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam — in a crowded Asia-Pacific, which is the new economic and political centre of gravity of the world.

    • Rapid shifts in the balance of power in the region have led to arms races and to rising uncertainty, also fuelled by the unpredictability, disengagement and the transactional America First attitude of the President of the United States. 
    • China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence. 
    • As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed. 

What should India’s response be to the new situation? 

  • India must maintain its strategic autonomy.
  • While many suggest that India must enter into an alliance with the U.S., it is to be understood that a common thread running through the foreign and security policies of successive governments of India irrespective of their various political persuasions has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
  • In the current situation that calls for creative diplomacy and flexibility, adjusting to the fast-changing balance of power and correlation of forces around, India, must maintain its strategic autonomy. 
    • The Doklam crisis of 2017 is only the most recent example that shows that no one else is ready to deal with India’s greatest strategic challenge — China. It saw a tepid reaction from the rest of the world. 

The China question:

  • China’s rise is the foremost challenge which could derail India’s quest. But it is also an opportunity. 
  • One possibility for India is to engage China bilaterally to see whether the two countries can evolve a new Modus vivendi (way of coexistence), to replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.  
    • That framework is no longer working and the signs of stress in the relationship are everywhere.
  • The India-China relations are more complex than simple narratives suggest, nevertheless, there is room for both sides to seek a new modus vivendi. 
    • This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.
  • The balance will keep shifting between cooperation and competition with China, both of which characterise that relationship. The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition.
  • The U.S. is an essential partner for India’s transformation. However, since it is withdrawing from the world, it will no longer be the upholder of international order, economic or political. It is less certain as to how it will choose to deal with China.
  • India must work with other powers to ensure that its region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly. It should also ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.

Double opportunity:

  • The China, U.S contention is structural and, therefore, likely to continue for some time with a paradigm shift away from cooperation to increasing contention, despite temporary deals and victories declared by one or both, opens up opportunities and space for other powers.
  • Both China and the U.S. will look to put other conflicts and tensions on the back burner while they deal with each other (their primary concern).
  • Here, India has a moment of double opportunity if it changes its ways. 

Other Concerns for India:

  • In the present world order, there is a deep sense of strategic confusion. For India, that confusion extends to it being not just about the ultimate goal India’s foreign policy should pursue but also over the best means to achieve them.
  • India’s Prime Minister has declared a goal of India to be a ‘Vishwa guru’, or world teacher. This is still a long way away considering the fact that India is an importer of knowledge and technology.
  • At present, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before. It relies on the world for energy, technology, essential goods like fertilizer and coal, commodities, access to markets, and capital.
  • When the new security agenda, the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas is added to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns, there is greater worry or a sense of insecurity.


  • India risks missing the bus to becoming a developed country if it continues business and politics as usual, or tries to imitate China’s experience in the last 40 years, does not adapt, and does not manage its internal social and political churn better. 
  • The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work — introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures. For change is the only certainty in life.


Q.26. What are the suggested ways to boost the economy. What is the Consol Bond discuss its advantages?

With the Government of India looking at avenues to raise money to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the editorial throws light upon the issue of Consol Bond as a compelling solution for the government with the pandemic’s shadow over the economy.


  • As India’s ominous COVID-19 curve stretches further, urgent attention needs to be paid to an economy that is teetering on the edge.
  • In the Budget before the pandemic, India projected a deficit of ₹7.96-lakh crore.
  • The financial deficit number is set to grow by a wide margin due to revenue shrinkage that will most certainly be accompanied by a lack of appetite for disinvestment.
  • In addition to the expenditure that was planned, the government has to spend anywhere between ₹5-lakh crore and ₹6-lakh crore as stimulus.
  • All the RBI’s schemes are contingent on the availability of risk capital, the market for which has completely collapsed.
  • It has been tried several times, to nudge banks into lending to below investment grade micro, small and medium enterprises, but in vain.
  • While the 60% increase in ways and means limits for States is a welcome move, many States have already asked for double the limit due to the shortages in indirect taxation collections from Goods and Services Tax, fuel and liquor.


  • The government and the central bank need to understand that half measures will do more harm than good.
  • It is believed that India must most definitely go beyond current revenue receipts to fund the complete stimulus.
  • In a war like situation, while waging a united war against this virus, it would be interesting to look at war-time methods of raising finances. One such method that has been used as early as the First World War is the Consol Bond.

Consol Bond:

In 2014, the British government, a century after the start of the First World War, paid out 10% of the total outstanding Consol bond debt. The bonds, which paid out an interest of 5%, were issued in 1917 as the government sought to raise more money to finance the ongoing cost of the First World War. Citizens were asked to invest with the advertising messaging: “If you cannot fight, you can help your country by investing all you can in 5 per cent Exchequer Bonds. Unlike the soldier, the investor runs no risk.”

  • Consol bond is a form of British government bond that has no maturity and that pays a fixed coupon.
  • Consols are basically rare examples of perpetual bonds.

Advantages of a Consol Bond:

The traditional option of monetising the deficit by having the central bank buy government bonds is one worth pursuing, but issuing Consol Bonds is considered a better option, given the current scenario, for the following reasons:

  • Consol Bonds ensure citizens’ active participation.
  • Proceeds of the bonds could be used for everything — from Personal Protective Equipment for doctors, to a stimulus for small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • With the fall of real estate and given the lack of safe havens outside of gold, the bond would offer a dual benefit as a risk free investment for retail investors.


  • When instrumented, Consol Bonds would be issued by the central government on a perpetual basis with a right to call it back when it seems fit.
  • An attractive coupon rate for the bond or tax rebates could also be an incentive for investors.
  • The government can consider a phased redemption of these bonds after the economy is put back on a path of high growth.


Q.27 What are the expectations of the society and finance system  to fulfil their needs. Do you agree that the system is in contrast. If yes why is it so, if no state the concerns?

The editorial talks about the expectations around a good stimulus package deal in the backdrop of deep uncertainty and contraction in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights the options, suggestions and constraints in designing the ideal stimulus package.


  • There is this rampant belief that a fiscal stimulus package has to follow the timeline.
    • It is to be understood that the economy cannot be stimulated during a supply-side lockdown.
    • There are ‘announcement effects’ — both good and bad — that go with the stimulus.
  • The government revenues too will be seriously hit.
    • This will be anywhere from 2-3% of the GDP (given that disinvestment target itself is 1% of GDP and the realisation is likely to be close to zero in the current financial year). The effective fiscal deficit is going to be somewhere around 7.5%.
    • While highlighting the fact that the U.S. government has set aside $2 trillion for bailouts or 9% of its GDP, it must be understood that India cannot afford such a stimulus package as India’s starting point is going to be at around 7.5% of GDP fiscal deficit.
    • On top of this, India has to incur the ‘merit expenditure’ on health and direct income support to the poor.
  • It may be worthwhile to bear in mind that from 1947 to 1997, the Central government always routinely monetised its deficit, without leading to high rates of inflation, much less hyperinflation.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) limits are hardly a grand success and routinely all governments have broken the barrier.
    • Other countries with huge debt-to-GDP ratios like Japan (>200%) and the U.S. (125%) get away, but India is pulled up for minor slippages on a 70% debt-GDP ratio.
  • There must be a more nuanced approach to what constitutes a ‘good’ stimulus instead of arguing that bailouts should be based on need and not affordability.
    • Given the data above, India cannot ignore affordability and print money with all the attendant side effects.
    • It could have serious consequences like currency plunge, high inflation and rating agencies downgrading India.
  • There is a lot of liquidity in the economy, but limited credit is flowing due to anaemic lending. Thus, another suggestion is that bank managers should be incentivised to lend and the government should indemnify loans given during this period.
    • It remains to be seen what fiscal support tools the government will use that can ensure that credit flows to various sectors.
    • The government owes about ₹1 lakh crore on tax refunds.
    • The centre also had promised to make up for any difference to the States, if the GST did not grow by 14% per annum.
    • This is the time for it to transfer this to the States as a grant, for one year, to offset the revenue loss to States.
  • There is talk of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
    • It is worth pondering if approaching the IMF is a good idea, when there is no foreign exchange crisis for financing rupee expenditure, as there is a perceived global stigma of doing so.
    • The conditionality-led cure could prove to be worse than the disease itself.


Fate must not be confused with destiny. Fate is what happens to us. Destiny is what we make in spite of our fate. India’s destiny appears relatively safe, if the mind’s eye is cast around the globe. Lifting the lockdown will be the first step towards a good stimulus and one does need to un-handcuff a billion people to save their lives too.


Q.28. Due to the global threat what are the necessary changes that need to take to preserve the economic system. What are possible way forwards you can suggest. Point out that?


  • The author of the article articulates the necessary changes in the economic system in the face of the pandemic crisis.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected the economies and lives, and has challenged the tenets of economics that have dominated public policy for the past 50 years. Such a situation necessitates the redesign of economies, businesses and lives.
  • The author of the article discusses ideas to build a more resilient economy and a more just society.

Idea of De-growth:

  • Traditionally, GDP has been considered the supreme goal of progress. The given scenario, where even the richest countries are failing to contain the damage of the pandemic, calls into question the prominence of GDP as a goal.
  • Goals for human progress must be reset. There is a need for better measures to gauge human development.
    • A five-point ‘de-growth’ manifesto by 170 Dutch academics has recently gained a lot of attention.

Idea of national boundaries:

  • Boundarylessness has been often promoted by hyper-globalizers based on the argument that boundaries impede flows of trade, finance and people. They have argued that removing such boundaries would be good for global growth.
  • The author argues that boundaries between countries are good.
    • Since countries are at different stages of economic development, and have different compositions of resources, they will have to follow different paths to progress. The presence of boundaries allows them to do so.
    • The breakdown of the World Trade Organization serves as an example of the importance of borders. Under the WTO, all countries were expected to open their borders, which caused harm to countries at different stages of development, and their reluctance has been a drag on WTO negotiations.

Necessity of government’s role:

  • The recent past has witnessed the growing importance of market economy, leading to the subsequent decrease in the government’s role. Capitalist corporations have wanted governments out of the way to make it easy for them to do business.
  • However, the current crisis has brought to light the critical role of the government in critical times. Governments are having to bail out businesses. This calls for higher roles for governments in any future system.

Limitations of market economy:

  • Market economy, though allows for higher efficiency, leads to unequal access to resources.
  • Those who have money and power can acquire goods and services from the markets, while the poor do not have money to obtain what they need. The “marketization” of economies has contributed to the increasing inequalities in wealth over the last 50 years.
  • There is a need to revaluate the emphasis on market economy.

Justice and dignity:

  • There are inherent differences between a consumer and a citizen.
  • Citizens have a broader set of needs than consumers. Citizens’ needs cannot be fulfilled merely by enabling them to consume more goods and services. They value justice, dignity and societal harmony too.
  • Traditional economists’ evaluations of the benefits of free trade and competition policy are based on consumer welfare alone, and fail to account for negative impacts on citizens.
  • Citizen welfare must be the objective of progress.

Importance of collaboration:

  • The faith in “Darwinian competition” which propounds the principle of the survival of only the fittest, fails to recognize many deficiencies in modern societies and economies.
  • Competition must be restrained and Collaboration must be promoted. This could involve collaboration among scientists in different disciplines, and among diverse stakeholders, and collaboration among sovereign countries.
  • Improvements in abilities to share and govern common resources have become essential for human survival in the 21st century.

Public ownership of IPR:

  • Recently, there has been an increasing emphasis on recognizing intellectual property rights as a means to promote innovation and development.
  • The author calls for recognizing intellectual property as belonging to the public for the following reasons:
    • The current era of knowledge accords more power and wealth to those who own knowledge. Intellectual property monopolies are producing enormous wealth for their owners, though many were developed on the back of huge public investments.
    • Powerful technologies can be used for benign purposes.
  • The author calls for evolving new institutions for public ownership of technologies and for the regulation of their use.

Way forward:

Structural changes:

  • Unlike the financial crisis of 2008, which was basically a crisis of liquidity in the system wherein the solutions were obvious, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed structural weaknesses in the global economy, and would require structural changes in the system.
  • Though currently global attention understandably is focused on relief and recovery, it is equally important to redesign the entire system for resilience.

Integrated approach:

  • The economic system cannot be redesigned by domain experts devising solutions within their silos. There is a need for an integrated approach to redesigning the system where the new policies complement and supplement each other and increase the effectiveness of the changes.

Innovative approach:

  • Innovations are required at many levels to create a more resilient world. Innovation is essential in the overall design of the economy.
  • Innovations will be required in business models for business survival.

Basic changes:

  • Changes will be necessary in human life patterns, work and consumption habits, and human priorities.


Q.29. Comment on the role of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Why India is still lacking in food security. To tackle this what measures FCI can take?


  • Food Corporation of India’s critical role in countering the challenges posed by COVID-19.


Food Corporation of India:

  • The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been set up under the Food Corporations Act 1964.
  • In the initial decades of its inception, the FCI was praised for being at the forefront of India’s quest for self-sufficiency in rice and wheat following the Green Revolution, managing procurement and stocking grains that supported a vast Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • However, in recent times, there have been many concerns over the organisation.
    • FCI’s operations are regarded as expensive and inefficient. There are long-term concerns regarding the costs of food subsidy.
    • The FCI has witnessed mounting debts which currently stands at an estimated ₹55 lakh crore in March 2020, in the form of National Small Saving Funds Loan.
    • FCI faces serious storage problems and is plagued by the issue of shortage of modern storage facilities. In the 1970s and 1980s, poor storage conditions meant a lot of grain was lost to pests, mainly rats.
    • There have been reports of widespread diversion of grains and high leakage losses.
    • FCI has lacked a “pro-active liquidation policy” for excess stocks which leads to market distortion in some instances. The distribution of subsidised grains is sometimes blamed for depressing food prices and affecting farmers.
    • Some experts have argued that given the increasing role of the market economy, the FCI seems to have long outlived its purpose.


FCI role in the pandemic crisis:

  • Notwithstanding its dubious reputation, the FCI has consistently maintained the PDS, a lifeline for vulnerable millions across the country.
  • Currently, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, FCI with its buffer stocks holds the key to warding off a looming crisis of hunger and starvation, especially in regions where lakhs of migrant workers have returned home with little money or food.
    • The FCI has already moved 3 million tonnes (post-lockdown) to States, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Karnataka and those in the Northeast, where demand outstrips State procurement and/or stocks.
    • The FCI has also enabled purchases by States and non-governmental organisations directly from FCI depots, doing away with e-auctions typically conducted for the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS).
    • Given the extended lockdown, the FCI is uniquely positioned to move grains across State borders where private sector players continue to face formidable challenges.

Way forward:

  • The author of the article discusses a few strategies for the FCI which would enable it to more effectively play its role in countering the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Improving transport logistics:

  • The FCI has been traditionally reliant on rail transport. In 2019-2020 (until February) only 24% of the grains moved was by road.
  • Given the fact that road movement is often better suited for emergencies and for remote areas, the FCI can consider increased road transport of the food stocks.
  • The FCI is also well advised to promote containerised movement of grains which is more cost-effective and efficient. It is imperative to move grains quickly and with the least cost and effort, to areas where the need is the greatest.

Positioning strategy:

  • The coming months will see increased demand of staples from food insecure hotspots.
  • In such a scenario, FCI can adopt “pre-positioning” strategy for regions that are chronically underserved by markets or where markets have been severely disrupted. This strategy involves storing of grains closer to demand hotspots.
  • The FCI already has a decentralised network of godowns. In the current context, it would be useful for the State governments and the FCI to maintain stocks at block headquarters or panchayats in food insecure or remote areas, in small hermetic silos or containers.
  • Such a move, apart from ensuring a sense of assurance and psychological comfort, would allow State governments to respond rapidly to demands.
    • This would provide flexibility to local governments to access grains for contextually appropriate interventions at short notice, including feeding programmes, free distribution to vulnerable and marginalised sections, those who are excluded from the PDS, etc.
    • It can also allow freedom to panchayats, to sell grain locally at pre-specified prices until supply is restored.

Higher allocations:

  • The central government should look beyond the PDS and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and release stocks over and above existing allocations.
  • This should preferably be done at the centre’s expense rather than by transferring the fiscal burden to States.


  • The FCI can consider working in collaboration with the vibrant network of self-help groups formed under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). These SHGs can be tasked with the last mile distribution of food aid other than the PDS.

Change in existing guidelines:

  • The current FCI guidelines prescribe a first in, first out principle (FIFO), that mandates that grain that has been procured earlier needs to be distributed first to ensure that older stocks are liquidated, both across years and even within a particular year.
  • The FCI must suspend this strategy, to enable the adoption of a strategy that costs the least time, money and effort.

Enhanced role:

  • There has been an increasing trend of farmers growing for markets (like horticultural crops), seeking to reach out to consumers directly. The farmer producer organisations (FPOs) have been at the forefront of this development. The current lockdown and restrictions on movement have broken such supply chains.
  • The FCI, along with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), is well placed to rope in expertise to manage the logistics to revive and support direct sales.
  • The FCI can consider expanding its role to support FPOs and farmer groups, to move a wider range of commodities including agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, packing materials and so on.


  • The often questioned relevance of an organisation such as the FCI or of public stockholding has been strongly established by the role of FCI in the current crisis situation.
  • The Shanta Kumar report in 2015 recommended repurposing FCI as an “agency for innovations in Food Management System” and advocated shedding its dominant role in the procurement and distribution of grain.
  • The FCI needs to overhaul its operations and modernise its storage.


Q.30. Comment on monetisation policy of the system, point out its positive and negative aspects?


  • In her interview to this newspaper last week, the finance minister said that she is keeping her options open on monetisation (action or process of earning revenue from an asset, business)of the deficit by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • How the government and the RBI decide on this will have significant implications for India’s economic prospects in the short-term, and indeed in the long-term



  • Monetisation of the deficit does not mean the government is getting free money from the RBI.
  • If one works through the combined balance sheet of the government and the RBI, it will turn out that the government does not get a free lunch, but it does get a heavily subsidised lunch.
  • That subsidy is forced out of the banks. And, as in the case of all invisible subsidies, they don’t even know.


  • Second, it is not as if the RBI is not monetising the deficit now; it is doing so, but indirectly by buying government bonds in the secondary market through what are called open market operations (OMO).
  • Note that both monetisation and OMOs involve printing of money by the RBI. But there are important differences between the two options that make shifting over to monetisation a non-trivial(important)


  • To understand the issue, some historical context will help. In the pre-reform era, the RBI used to directly monetise the government’s deficit almost automatically.
  • That practice ended in 1997 with a landmark agreement between the government and the RBI.
  • It was agreed that henceforth, the RBI would operate only in the secondary market through the OMO route.
  • The implied understanding also was that the RBI would use the OMO route not so much to support government borrowing but as a liquidity instrument to manage the balance between the policy objectives of supporting growth, checking inflation and preserving financial stability.


  • In hindsight, the outcomes of that agreement were historic. Since the government started borrowing in the open market, interest rates went up which incentivised saving and thereby spurred investment and growth.
  • Also, the interest rate that the government commanded in the open market acted as a critical market signal of fiscal sustainability.
  • Importantly, the agreement shifted control over money supply, and hence over inflation, from the government’s fiscal policy to the RBI’s monetary policy.
  • The India growth story that unfolded in the years before the global financial crisis in 2008 when the economy clocked growth rates in the range of 9 per cent was at least in part a consequence of the high savings rate and low inflation which in turn were a consequence of this agreement.


  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act as amended in 2017 contains an escape clause which permits monetisation of the deficit under special circumstances.
  • What is the case for invoking this escape clause now even if it means potentially jeopardising(risking)the hard won gains of the government-RBI agreement?
  • The case is made on the grounds that there just aren’t enough savings in the economy to finance government borrowing of such a large size.
  • Bond yields would spike so high that financial stability will be threatened.
  • The RBI must therefore step in and finance the government directly to prevent this from happening.


  • But there is no reason to believe that we are anywhere close to that situation. Through its OMOs, the RBI has injected such an extraordinary amount of systemic liquidity that bond yields are still relatively soft.
  • In fact the yield on the benchmark 10 year bond which was ruling at 8 per cent in September last year has since dropped to just around 6 per cent.
  • Even on the day the government announced its additional borrowing to the extent of 2.1 per cent of GDP, the yield settled at 6.17 per cent.
  • That should, if anything, be evidence that the market feels quite comfortable about financing the enhanced government borrowing.


  • Both monetisation and OMOs involve expansion of money supply which can potentially stoke inflation. If so, why should we be so wary of monetisation?
  • Because although they are both potentially inflationary, the inflation risk they carry is different.
  • OMOs are a monetary policy tool with the RBI in the driver’s seat, deciding on how much liquidity to inject and when.
  • In contrast, monetisation is, and is seen, as a way of financing the fiscal deficit with the quantum and timing of money supply determined by the government’s borrowing rather than the RBI’s monetary policy.
  • If RBI is seen as losing control over monetary policy, it will raise concerns about inflation. That can be a more serious problem than it seems.


  • India is inflation prone. Note that after the global financial crisis when inflation “died” everywhere, we were hit with a high and stubborn bout of inflation.
  • In hindsight, it is clear that the RBI, on my watch, failed to tighten policy in good time.
  • Since then we have embraced a monetary policy framework and the RBI has earned credibility for delivering on inflation within the target. Forsaking that credibility can be costly.
  • If, in spite of all this, the government decides to cross the Rubicon, markets will fear that the constraints on fiscal policy are being abandoned and that the government is planning to solve its fiscal problems by inflating away its debt.
  • If that occurs, yields on government bonds will shoot up, the opposite of what is sought to be achieved.


  • There are cases when monetisation — despite its costs — is inevitable. If the government cannot finance its deficit at reasonable rates, then it really doesn’t have much choice.
  • But right now, it is able to borrow at around the same rate as inflation, implying a real rate (at current inflation) of 0 per cent.
  • If in fact bond yields shoot up in real terms, there might be a case for monetisation, strictly as a one-time measure. We are not there yet.

Q.31. In what ways One Nation One Ration Card policy can give India an instant relief. Discuss the challenges?


  • The economic crisis precipitated by COVID-19 has focussed the country’s attention on inter-state migrants.
  • Millions of Indians in this diverse, complex group have crossed state borders in search of better economic opportunities.
  • The crisis, however, has highlighted their precarious(difficult)socio-economic condition.


  • Historically, governments have made several attempts to bridge the gap.
  • A key part of that roadmap is the idea of portable(transferrable)welfare benefits, that is, a citizen should be able to access welfare benefits irrespective of where she is in the country.
  • In the case of food rations, the idea was first mooted under the UPA government by a Nandan Nilekani-led task force in 2011.
  • The current government had committed to a national rollout of One Nation, One Ration Card (ON-ORC) by June 2020, and had initiated pilots in 12 states.
  • While intra-state portability of benefits has seen good initial uptake, inter-state portability has lagged.
  • The finance minister has now announced the deadline of March 2021 to roll out ON-ORC.


  • To ensure a smooth rollout, we would benefit from reviewing the challenges thus far.
  • First, the fiscal implications: ON-ORC will affect how the financial burden is shared between states.
  • Second, the larger issues of federalism and inter-state coordination:
  • Many states are not convinced about a “one size fits all” regime because they have customised the PDS through higher subsidies, higher entitlement limits, and supply of additional items.
  • Third, the technology aspect: ON-ORC requires a complex technology backbone that brings over 750 million beneficiaries, 5,33,000 ration shops and 54 million tonnes of food-grain annually on a single platform.
  • These barriers might seem daunting(challenging), but the country has previously dealt with an equally complex situation while rolling out the GST, which was widely touted(considered)as “one nation, one tax”.



  • Just like with ON-ORC, fiscal concerns had troubled GST from the start.
  • States like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat that are “net exporters” were concerned they would lose out on tax revenues to “net consumer” states like UP and Bihar.
  • Finally, the Centre had to step in and provide guaranteed compensation for lost tax revenues for the first five years.
  • The Centre could provide a similar assurance to “net inbound migration” states such as Maharashtra and Kerala that any additional costs on account of migrants will be covered by it for the five years.


  • GST also saw similar challenges with broader issues of inter-state coordination.
  • In a noteworthy example of cooperative federalism, the central government created a GST council consisting of the finance ministers of the central and state governments to address these issues.
  • The government could consider a similar national council for ON-ORC.
  • To be effective, this council should meet regularly, have specific decision-making authority, and should operate in a problem-solving mode based on consensus building.


  • Finally, GST is supported by a sophisticated(advanced)tech backbone, housed by the GST Network (GSTN), an entity jointly owned by the Centre and states.
  • A similar system would be needed for ON-ORC.
  • The Nilekani-led task force recommended setting up of a PDS network (PDSN) to track movement of rations, register beneficiaries, issue ration cards, handle grievances(complaints)and generate analytics.
  • Since food rations are a crucial lifeline for millions, such a platform should incorporate principles such as inclusion, privacy, security, transparency, and accountability.
  • The IM-PDS portal provides a good starting point.


  • At the same time, we should learn from the shortcomings and challenges of the GST rollout.
  • For example, delay in GST refunds led to cash-flow issues.
  • Similar delays in receiving food rations could be catastrophic.
  • Therefore, ON-ORC should create, publish and adhere to time-bound processes, like right to public services legislation that have been adopted by 15 states, and rapid grievance redress mechanisms.
  • MSMEs also complained about the increase in compliance burden especially for those who had to digitise overnight. Similar challenges could arise in ON-ORC.
  • PDS dealers will need to be brought on board, and not assumed to be compliant.
  • Citizens will need to be shielded(protected)from the inevitable(unavoidable) teething issues by keeping the system lenient(easy) at first, providing different ways of authenticating oneself, and publicising a helpline widely.


  • If done well, ON-ORC could lay the foundation of a truly national and portable benefits system that includes other welfare programmes like LPG subsidy and social pensions.
  • It is an opportunity to provide a reliable social protection backbone to migrants, who are the backbone of our economy.


Q.32. Point out the relevance of MNREGA, what are the challenges the scheme facing?


  • The lockdown has resulted in a massive loss of livelihoods, and the 400-million strong unorganised workforce is the worst hit. A significant part of this workforce has migrated to cities from rural areas.
  • With the allocation of an additional Rs 40,000 crore as part of the stimulus package, the Union government has finally acknowledged the importance of MGNREGA.
  • The most important part of MGNREGA’s design is its legally-backed guarantee for any rural adult to get work within 15 days of demanding it.
  • This demand-based trigger enables(makes)the self-selection of workers and gives them an assurance of at least 100 days of wage employment


  • Since 2012, an average of 18 per cent of the annual budgetary allocation(assign)for MGNREGA has been spent on clearing pending liabilities(debts) from the previous years.
  • Even this financial year began with pending wage and material liabilities of Rs 16,045 crore.
  • An allocation of Rs 1 lakh crore for FY 2020-21 would mean that approximately Rs 84,000 crore is available for employment generation this year. This will still be the highest allocation for MGNREGA in any year since the passage of the law.
  • However, the allocation, which amounts to 0.47 per cent of the GDP continues to be much lower than the World Bank recommendations of 1.7 per cent for the optimal(favourable)functioning of the programme.
  • Given the scale and depth of the current crisis, this additional allocation too will be under stress, as both the number of people demanding work and the number of days of work they demand will go up dramatically.


  • Nevertheless, since enough funds are now available to meet at least the immediate demands for work, the government must undertake some immediate steps to ensure the MGNREGA lives up to its potential.
  • First, state governments must ensure that public works are opened in every village. Workers turning up at the worksite should be provided work immediately, without imposing on them the requirement of demanding work in advance.
  • Second, local bodies must proactively reach out to returned and quarantined migrant workers and help those in need to get job cards.
  • Third, at the worksite, adequate facilities such as soap, water, and masks for workers must be provided free of cost.
  • For reasons of health safety, MGNREGA tools should not be shared between workers. The government should provide a tool allowance to all workers — some states are already providing such an allowance.
  • Fourth, procedures for implementing MGNREGA must be simplified but not diluted. The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of decentralised governance.
  • Gram panchayats and elected representatives need to be provided with adequate resources, powers, and responsibilities to sanction works, provide work on demand, and authorise wage payments to ensure there are no delays in payments.
  • Fifth, as per a study by the RBI, more than half the districts in the country are under-banked. The density of bank branches in rural India is even more sparse(less).
  • At this time, payments need to not only reach bank accounts on time, but cash needs to reach the workers easily and efficiently.
  • The limited coverage of bank infrastructure in rural areas must not be made a hurdle. Attempts to distribute wages in cash, sans(without)biometric authentication, must be rolled out.
  • Sixth, there needs to be flexibility in the kinds of work to be undertaken, while ensuring that the community and the workers are the primary beneficiaries.
  • While many governments will possibly prioritise individual land-based works to comply with instructions of physical distancing, it is important to also keep community works going to ensure that landless workers are not crowded out of the programme


  • Over the last few years, MGNREGA had begun to face an existential crisis, engineered(caused)by successive governments capping(restricting) its financial resources, and turning it into a supply-based programme.
  • Workers had begun to lose interest in working under it because of the inordinate delays in wage payments.
  • With very little autonomy, gram panchayats had begun to find implementation cumbersome(difficult).
  • Barring a few exceptions, state governments were only interested in running the programme to the extent funds were made available from the Centre.
  • Allocating work on demand, and not having enough funds to pay wages on time was bound to cause great distress amongst the workers and eventually for the state too.
  • As a result, state governments had begun to implement MGNREGA like a supply-driven scheme, instead of running it like a demand-based guarantee backed by law.


With nearly eight crore migrant workers returning to their villages, and with an additional allocation for the year, this could be a moment for the true revival of MGNREGA. A revival led by workers themselves.


Q.33 Why is the locust surge posing a threat to agriculture in India?


  • Locust invasions being reported from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.


Previous outbreaks:

  • There were 13 locust plagues between 1964 and 1997. From 1997 to 2010, there were five outbreaks that were controlled. The last big locust infestation was in 2010.
  • From 2010 to 2018, there were no major swarms or breeding reported, according to the Locust Warning Organization (LWO), in Jodhpur.
  • In 2019, Gujarat and Rajasthan reported a significant surge in locust infestations. This was partly due to an unusually long monsoon and also because pest-control operations were inadequate which help wipe out nascent populations of the insect.
    • Nearly 3.5 lakh hectares of cumin, rapeseed and mustard were damaged.

Locust monitoring:

  • As a result of the 1926-1931/1932 locust plague in India, the British Raj at the time began research into the desert locust in 1931.
  • A permanent Locust Warning Organization (LWO), with a station in Karachi (undivided India), was established in 1939.
  • Its main job was to keep out an eye for a specific sub-species of the insect, the desert locust, that sprang into the region from the Thar desert. The locust attacks were a major issue during the British rule.
  • After Independence, India established its own centre at Jodhpur, Rajasthan, as a part of the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, under the Ministry of Agriculture.


Indian scenario:

  • The normal locust season in India spans June-November and coincides with the Kharif season.
  • In India in 2020, the existing groups of swarms have continued to move east and to the central States of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Much of these movements were associated with the strong westerly winds of Cyclone Amphan.
  • Several successive waves of invasions are likely until July in Rajasthan, with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Odisha, followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoons.
  • These movements will cease as swarms begin to become less mobile. The swarms are less likely to reach Nepal, and Bangladesh and south India.


  • Locust swarms have been recorded in nearly 50,000 hectares in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and if they continue to thrive as the monsoon arrives, it could cause serious agricultural damage by leading to huge crop losses.
    • The monsoon arrival will lead to a new season of sowing rice, sugarcane, cotton and other crops.
  • India is gearing up for what could be one of its worst locust invasions in decades.


  • The 2020 locust infestation could be because of a chain of climate events, administrative laxity in several countries and the difficult circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Relation between climate change and infestation:

Warming in the Indian Ocean:

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole, in which the western and eastern parts of the ocean warm differentially, tend to have an outsized impact in bringing excessive rains to India and West Asia.
  • 2019 saw one of the strongest positive dipoles with a difference of more than two degrees between the western and eastern parts of the ocean.
    • A ‘positive’ dipole is when the western part is hotter by a degree or more than the eastern.
  • The strong Indian Ocean Dipole resulted in torrential rainfall in India. The monsoons lasted nearly a month more than what is normal.
  • The extended rainfall season continued in several parts of West Asia, Oman, Yemen and in the Horn of Africa — Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya — resulting in high moisture in the mostly dry sands of the region. This seems to have facilitated the formation of several locust swarms.

Wind patterns:

  • The favourable wind pattern seems to have helped swarms to fly and breed in traditional grounds in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Climatic conditions in India:

  • The unusually mild summer of 2020 in India, and several bouts of rainfall over north and western India from March to May also helped the insects breed.

Lack of preventive actions:

  • The traditional spring breeding areas of the desert locusts are in Baluchistan, Indus Valley (Pakistan) and southern coast and parts of Sistan-Baluchistan. These infestations are likely to move to the summer breeding areas along India-Pakistan from Cholistan to Tharparkar.
  • Pakistan has been blamed for not spraying adequate pesticide to stem the nascent population of the locusts.


  • As pointed out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the lack of funds and inadequate monitoring has been a consistent problem. The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to decreased focus on the locust attacks.
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations has been sending alerts on developing swarms.
  • A locust attack has to be dealt with by spraying pest control and plant protection chemicals. The national lockdown has made the availability of pesticide as well as its transportation difficult.
  • Labour also not being available easily due to the lockdown could affect spraying operations and, as a result, allow locusts to cause significant damage.
  • Strong Indian Ocean Dipoles are expected to become more frequent due to the overall trend of warming oceans. This phenomenon could trigger regular locust infestations.

Way forward:

  • There is a need for better coordination between the affected countries to ensure a more coordinated approach to the issue.
  • Given the increasing possibility of locust invasions, there is a need for better monitoring of the nascent populations to ensure minimal efforts for controlling the locust populations.
  • There is a need for increased allocations for locust monitoring.

Additional information:

  • Somalia has announced a national state of emergency due to the outbreak in February 2020, while Pakistan declared a national emergency for the second time in 2020 owing to the locust infestation.



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