April 2021 : The Hindu Editorials Summary Compilation for Civil Services

 

 

Index

GS-1 Mains

  1. QUESTION : The Ilbert Bill controversy was not an isolated phenomenon from British Racist approach and this undermined the dignity of the individual and in fact it was the culmination of that. Discuss with suggested methods to overcome this social evil.
  2. QUESTION : Discuss the significance of climate justice norms when the entire earth planet is facing abrupt climate change and how can climate ethics help to overcome such challenges.
  3. QUESTION : Consider the factor India needs to consider about joining the global chorus on carbon neutrality targets.” Critically evaluate
  4. QUESTION: Give initiatives taken by the Government towards gender equality in India and Why such initiatives have had a limited impact. How the removal of gender issues and women empowerment can reduce the economic inequalities in India?
  5. QUESTION : Discuss the significance of the Ken-Betwa interlinking project and concerns associated with this project.
  6. QUESTION : Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option. However, several challenges in scaling up to commercial-scale operations persist. Discuss.
  7. QUESTION: Evaluate the term carbon trading? Is it an effective strategy to mitigate the effects of global warming? Critically examine.

 

GS-2 Mains

  1. QUESTION : Differentiate the Cooperative federalism and Competitive federalism. In the context of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Amendment Act, 2021, how is cooperative federalism in India affected? 
  2. QUESTION : Discuss the various aspects of the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendations with regard to local governments.”
  3. QUESTION : What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism?
  4. QUESTION : Exemplify the term good governance. Discuss recent findings of Good Governance Index report in Kerala. Suggest some measures to improve the governance in Indians states.
  5. QUESTION : Discuss how is Myanmar the cornerstone in India’s Act East Policy and evaluate the recent ups and downs that are coming in their bilateral relationship ?
  6. QUESTION : Lok Adalat “An alternate dispute resolution”. Comment.
  7. QUESTION : Discuss India’s policy on refugees. How do you think India should react to the Rohingya crisis and there is an urgent need today to clinically address the issue of refugee protection in India and put in place appropriate legal and institutional measures. Discuss
  8. QUESTION : Critically examine the provisions of recently introduced Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and key concerns are arising out of this .
  9. QUESTION : “Trade is unlikely to triumph over politics in South Asia; especially in India-Pakistan relations. This is a curse in South Asia, ” Critically Examine
  10. QUESTION : What do you mean by Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) and its legal backings?  Discuss its significance.
  11. QUESTION : BIMSTEC needs a paradigm shift in raising the level of cooperation and regional integration and how can India help to revive this body ?
  12. QUESTION : Evaluate how India Human Development Survey (IHDS) improves India’s overall  performance with respect to the indicators constitutions the HDI and give effective measures to control the upcoming challenges in the human development sector ?
  13. QUESTION : “The Quad’s ideology of a “diamond of democracies” can only succeed if it does not insist on exclusivity in India’s strategic calculations given that India shares a special place. Comment
  14. QUESTION : List the key impacts on world’s economy due to this ongoing covid-19 pandemic and considering this what are the most expected qualities required from a Civil Servant as far as India is concerned? Critically analyse.
  15. QUESTION : What could be implications of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in the region. In this context analyze need of reform in India’s Afghan policy?
  16. QUESTION : Why doesn’t Election Commission of India require more powers to conduct flawless elections but effective use of the existing powers given to it under the Constitution of India and examine the role of Election Commission in conducting free and fair elections in India.
  17. QUESTION : Critically evaluate the various issues around ordinance making power of President and Governors? Also discuss the safeguards which are in place to prevent misuse of ordinance making power.
  18. QUESTION : Discuss why e-learning isn’t a sustainable solution to the COVID-19-induced education crisis in India and mention positive and negative impact on Indian education as far as this pandemic is concerned.
  19. QUESTION : Describe the significance of 73rd Amendment Act in the Constitution of India. Discuss the extension of this amendment to Schedule Areas and analyse major challenges faced by the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India.
  20. QUESTION : How can judicial federalism be defined in Indian context and elaborate how has it helped during covid-19 pandemic in fulfilling the utmost requirement of oxygen supply.
  21. QUESTION : “Covid-19 immunisation drive for vaccinating all  will be a different rom regular vaccination programs”. In light of the statement analyse the challenges in the development & distribution of Covid-19 vaccine.
  22. QUESTION : Define the term Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement and analyse its implications for India during covid-19 pandemic
  23. QUESTION : Discuss the issue of basic human rights of fishermen of India and Pakistan. In your opinion, what should India and Pakistan do to address problems of their fishermen languishing in each other’s jails.
  24. QUESTION : “COVID-19 pandemic has opened the fractures of the Indian Health Infrastructure “ Critically analyse this statement .
  25. QUESTION : Discuss why is challenge of antimicrobial resistance rising especially in India and give various causes and preventive measures to control the risk of  antimicrobial resistance.
  26. QUESTION : Is state’s control over temples against Indian secularism? Give your views on the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Do they make India a secular state?

 

GS-3 Mains

  1. QUESTION : Land reforms in India, are necessary not only to boost agricultural growth but also to eradicate poverty in rural areas. Discuss the need and challenges of digitization of land records in India
  2. QUESTION : RBI’s monetary policy which is based on inflation targeting needs reform. Explain the significance of inflation targeting while discussing the concerns over the efficacy of inflation targeting. Comment.
  3. QUESTION : Discuss how worsening inequality in income and opportunities impacts some sections disproportionately due to discrimination based on gender, caste, and other factors?
  4. QUESTION : What are the determinants of left-wing extremism in Eastern part of India and how has LWE been a big threat to India’s internal security ? Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE.
  5. QUESTION : Examine the relevance of agricultural policy in India and problems related to productivity in Indian agriculture by giving effective ways to deal with this situation.
  6. QUESTION : How will economic nationalism take a lead in the post-COVID-19 Asia? Discuss in context to the rising tensions among the powerful nations .
  7. QUESTION ; Analyse the scope of green contracts as an institutional tool for Indian corporations to define India’s sustainable growth story and define the term Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) by giving some key examples?
  8. QUESTION : Discuss the need and significance of police reforms in the recent context of rise in crime in our society.
  9. QUESTION : Discuss the mandate of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and procedure of the selection of experts. What has been the impact of NGT in recent years? Examine.
  10. QUESTION : What factors contributed to the race to bottom on the corporate taxes among the countries and its implications?

 

GS-1 Mains

QUESTION : The Ilbert Bill controversy was not an isolated phenomenon from British Racist approach and this undermined the dignity of the individual and in fact it was the culmination of that. Discuss with suggested methods to overcome this social evil.

 Editorial Topic – A ROADMAP FOR TOLERANCE

 WHAT?

  • Racial Discrimination

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris hosted a Global Forum against Racism and Discrimination on March 22, 2021, in partnership with the Republic of Korea.
  • 21st March every year is marked as UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • This provides an opportunity to explore the nuanced causes and consequences of modern racism, and renew an important commitment to combat discrimination.

 RACIAL DISCRIMINATION:

  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
  • Racial discrimination, beyond being a breach of human rights, has harmful effects on human health and well-being, and risks wider disruptions to social cohesion

 TYPES OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA:

  • Direct discrimination: This happens when somebody treats you more regrettable than someone else in a comparable circumstance in view of your race.
  • Indirect discrimination: This happens when an association has a specific approach or method for working that puts individuals of your racial gathering at a disadvantage.
  • Harassment: Harassment happens when somebody makes you feel humiliated, annoyed or corrupted.
  • Victimisation: This is the point at which you are treated very badly on the grounds that you have complained about the racial discrimination faced under the Equality To act or likewise happen in the case when you are supporting somebody who has made a protest of race-related separation.

 FORMS OF RACISM :

  • Current forms of racism and discrimination are complex and often covert.
  • Techno Racism: The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in security raise the spectre of ‘techno-racism’, as facial recognition programmes can misidentify and target racialised communities.
    • Anonymity of the Internet has allowed racist stereotypes and inaccurate information to spread online.
    • At the onset of the pandemic, traffic to hate sites and specific posts against Asians grew by 200% in the U.S. In India and in Sri Lanka, social media groups and messaging platforms were used to call for social and economic boycotts of religious minorities, amid false information accusing them of spreading the virus.
  • Prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory acts, whether subtle or overt, aggravate existing inequalities in societies.
  • WHO has cautioned on the dangers of profiling and stigmatising communities that can lead to fear and the subsequent concealment of cases and delays in detection.

 FACTORS BEHIND DISCRIMINATION:

 Caste Based Discrimination

  • Sense of caste prestige: Feeling of own caste superiority over other castes Is the main factor. It is people’s strong desire to enhance caste prestige. Members of a particular caste or sub-caste have the tendency of developing loyalty to their own caste.
  • Caste endogamy: Caste endogamy refers to marriage within the same caste. Caste endogamy is therefore responsible for the emergence of the feeling of casteism.
  • Belief in religious dogmas: Due to illiteracy, people are governed by belief in religious dogmas, blind beliefs and superstitions. Due to the practice of ‘Jati Dharma’ they take interest in their own caste. It leads to caste feeling and casteism.
  • Social distance: Especially in rural areas, people belonging to the higher caste maintain social distance from the lower castes.
  • Dalits in rural villages are forbidden in Hindu temples and disallowed with their shoes on in higher-caste neighborhoods.
  • They maintain it through different restrictions like inter-caste marriages, Inter-dinning etc.
  • The ideology of an individual is associated with his caste norms and values. This has given rise to casteism.

 RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN  US

  • Trans-Atlantic slave trade: The European colonies imported African slaves to US, for making plantation agriculture in the Americas profitable. It led to poor economic conditions of the blacks which persists even today.
  • Systematized racism: European Americans who participated in the slave industry tried to justify their economic exploitation of black people by creating a “scientific” theory of white superiority and black inferiority.
  • Segregation of population: Cultural and political segregation of the public space continues to occur despite anti-segregation laws.
  • Financial distress: Despit the emancipation of slavery system the black population faces severe problems in gaining employment and attaining standard of living.
  • Law enforcement: Prejudiced law enforcement officials are often seen violating legal norms and being discriminatory towards black population.

 LEGAL MEASURES AGAINST THIS DISCRIMINATION :

  • Article 17 of the constitution abolished the practice of untouchability and made its practice a punishable offence.
  • The legislations focused on the discrimination and oppression of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These include:
    • The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (renamed to The Protection of Civil Liberties Act) was enacted which provided penalties for preventing a person from entering a place of worship or from taking water from a tank or well.
    • The Scheduled Castes And the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • The United Nations (UN) has declared 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
  • After the American civil war, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
    • In U.S, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and employment.
  • The United Nations through the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the right of everyone to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms, without distinction to race, colour or national origin.

 COMPARISON OF RACIAL AND CASTE DISCRIMINATION :

  • Economic condition: Various data shows one-fourth of Afro-American population is at the poverty line, which is much higher than other groups.
    • In India, the condition of Dalits has been extremely pathetic for centuries. They are mostly landless communities and forced to live in small hamlets out of the village.
  • Mob violence: Mob violence is committed against Dalits on the name of animal slaughtering and a disproportionate number of rapes are committed against Dalit women.
    • In comparison, post-Civil War white mob violence against blacks has morphed into state-condoned violence of homicides of African Americans by police.
  • Racial inequality in America has its parallel in caste inequality in India even though by definition, race and caste are not the same thing.
  • According to the United Nations, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), “the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
    • Caste discrimination is recognised by the United Nations as a contemporary form of racial discrimination.

  WAY FORWARD :

  • UNESCO’s actions against racism through education, the sciences, culture, and communication.
  • UNESCO promotes the role of education in providing the space for young people to understand processes that sustain racism, to learn from the past, and to stand up for human rights.
  • Through new approaches to inter-cultural dialogue and learning, youth and communities can be equipped with skills to eradicate harmful stereotypes and foster tolerance.
  • UNESCO also offers master classes to empower students to become champions of anti-racism in their schools and communities.
  • The International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities provides an additional platform for city-level planning and a laboratory for good practices in the fight against racism.
  • A global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination is built first and foremost in the minds of women and men.
  • The Constitutional rights must be protected through stricter implementations of safeguard laws given to these communities.
  • Social awareness must begin with the ‘conscious raising’ of the younger generations inculcating in them values such as equality, humanity, plurality, and fraternity.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Recent and new manifestations of racism and discrimination call for renewed commitments to mobilize for equality and to stand up against intolerance. Racism will not be overcome with mere professions of good faith but must be proactively combatted with anti-racist action in order to expose and redress the overt and subtle indignities that persist across our societies. A global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination is built first and foremost in the minds of women and men.
  • The words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan remain pertinent: “Our mission is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”

 

QUESTION :  Discuss the significance of climate justice norms when the entire earth planet is facing abrupt climate change and how can climate ethics help to overcome such challenges.

Editorial Topic –  REWORKING NET-ZERO FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE

 WHAT ?

  • Climate Change and SDGs as Climate Justice

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Global transformation is affecting the planet, but there is no uniform transformation across the world. Global temperature increased sharply after 1981 with little contribution from the developing countries as their industrialisation and urbanisation had yet to begin.

 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA 2030 :

  • The Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 was adopted and at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.
  • The Prime Minister of India stressed a reframing of climate change to climate justice in the Paris Agreement.
    • The argument was that the developing nations like India and least developed nations should not pay the price for the pollution caused by the West.
    • The Paris Agreement explicitly recognises that peaking will take longer for such countries.
  • India has pledged to meet its Paris Agreement target for 2030, its per-capita emissions are a third of the global average, and it will in future remain within its share of ecological space.

 INEQUITY IN THE AGREEMENT :

 (A) Not considering cumulative emissions:

  • Annual emissions make India the fourth largest emitter, even though the climate of the world is impacted by cumulative emissions.
    • Cumulative carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions represent the total sum of CO₂ emissions produced from fossil fuels and cement since 1751, and is measured in tonnes.
  • India contributing a mere 3% compared with 26% for the United States and 13% for China.
  • The richest 1% of the global population emits more than two times the emissions of the bottom 50%.
    • India has just half its population in the middle class and per capita emissions are an eighth of those in the U.S. and less than a third of those of China.

 (B) Longer term goals without the strategy:

  • The diplomatic history of climate negotiations shows longer term goals without the strategy to achieve them.
    • The solutions require an analysis of drivers, trends and patterns of resource use.

 (C) No  climate justice to the poor:

  • The models on which global policy recommendations for developing countries are based consider achieving ‘reasonable’ not ‘comparable’ levels of well-being.
    • The rising prosperity of the world’s poor does not endanger the planet and the challenge is to change wasteful behaviour in the West.
  • The different means to achieve the goals are not on the agenda.

 ROLE OF INFRASTRUCTURE :

  • The vaguely worded ‘net zero’ emissions could be disastrous for development latecomers like India.
  • This is because the more than half the global cumulative emissions arose from infrastructure, essential for urban well-being.
    • Two-thirds of emissions arise from the demand of the middle class for infrastructure, mobility, buildings and diet.
  • Because of its young population and late development, much of the future emissions in India will come from infrastructure, buildings and industry.
  • India cannot shift the trajectory much to reach comparable levels of well-being with major economies.
    • There is no substitute to cement, steel and construction material.
    • The peak of emissions in India is yet to come, which is expected to be around 2050.

 CLIMATE ETHICS ?

  • Climate ethics is an area of research that focuses on the ethical dimensions of climate change (also known as global warming and concepts such as climate justice. It reinforces article 51 (a)(g) to protect natural environment and compassion for living beings.

 CLIMATE ISSUE AFFECTING THE WORLD FROM THE STANDPOINT OF CLIMATE ETHICS :

  • In the context of global warming the impacts have been huge all around the world with melting of glaciers,rising water level ,inundation of land, threatening food security etc.
  • So the countries have come together in the form of Paris agreement to uphold their commitment of climate ethics and ensure sustainable development.
  • CBDR is one of the mechanisms being worked on to share the environmental responsibilities and to uphold the countries environmental goals and help poorer nations alleviate poverty.
  • Similarly many still believe climate change is overhyped and the recent US withdrawal from Paris agreement strengthens such thinking .But with climate ethics the climate naysayers attitude can be changed.
  • Therefore, climate ethics and justice is an imperative for the world and India is actively participating to uphold these by moving towards renewable energy, commitment towards SDG etc.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • There is a need for new understanding for global goal-shaping national strategy.
  • India must highlight unique national circumstances with respect to the food, energy and transportation systems that have to change.
  • India should work towards elimination of the use of oil and coal, with renewable energy.
  • The new technologies like hydrogen as a fuel for electrification, e-vehicles etc. should be given priority in India.
  • India must collaborate with developed countries to gain international cooperation, technology development and transfer to lower the carbon footprint of the country.
  • The country needs to work towards more region-specific alternatives and green infrastructure.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Climate justice should be incorporated in the global climate framework by understanding the needs and differences of developing and least developed countries. The international cooperation should centre on sharing technology of electric vehicles, hydrogen as a fuel etc. to achieve the goals of Paris Agreement.

 

QUESTION : Consider the factor India needs to consider about joining the global chorus on carbon neutrality targets.” Critically evaluate

Editorial Topic –  DECONSTRUCTING THE DECLARATIONS OF CARBON-NEUTRALITY 

 WHAT ?

  • Pledge to achieve carbon-neutrality

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recently , the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a statement announcing the release of a roadmap to reach net zero by 2050. While the IEA aims at providing an all-encompassing plan, it may not be able to fully capture country-specific issues, especially since countries have different emission levels, different levels of renewable generation and, above all, different levels of economic development.

 COUNTRIES DECLARING CARBON-NEUTRAL :

  • At the latest count by the non-profit Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), at the beginning of April, 32 countries had declared, in some documented form.
  • The impetus for such declarations arises from Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement.
  • It is evident that the balance of emissions and removal of greenhouse gases is not sought on a country-wise basis but for the world as a whole.
  • Both developed country governments and civil society outfits commonly state this as an individual commitment by all countries.
  • The text of the Paris Agreement clearly indicates, based on considerations of equity and differentiation, that this is a global goal.

 TWO CRITICAL AND RELATED ISSUES :

  • The first is the compatibility of the intent of Article 4.1 and Article 2.

 Is the achievement of carbon neutrality compatible with achieving the 1.5°C or 2°C goals?

  • And whether the mid-century carbon neutrality goals of developed countries are compatible with Article 2.2 of the Paris Agreement which focuses on equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

 CURRENT PLEDGES FALL SHORT OF ACHIEVING THE TARGETS :

  • Three-way compatibility between temperature goals, carbon neutrality, and equity is not only not guaranteed, but cannot be achieved for the 1.5°C temperature goal at all.
  • Even for the 2°C goal, the current pledges are highly inadequate.
  • This conclusion is based on the global carbon budget.
  • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report to restrict temperature rise less than 1.5° with 50% world can emit total 480 Giga-tonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) from 2018 onwards.
  • At the current rate of emissions of about 42 GtCO2eq per year, this budget would be consumed in 12 years.
  • To keep within the 480 Gt budget, at a steady linear rate of decline, global carbon neutrality must be reached by 2039.
  • For a 50% probability of restricting temperature rise to below 2°C, the world can emit 1,400 GtCO2eq, that provides considerably greater room for manoeuvre.

 EMISSION OF THE U.S. AND EUROPE :

  • Emissions in the U.S. peaked in 2005 and have declined at an average rate of 1.1% from then till 2017.
  • Even if it did reach net-zero by 2050 at a steady linear rate of reduction, which is unprecedented, its cumulative emissions between 2018 and 2050 would be 106 GtCO2, which is 22% of the total remaining carbon budget for the whole world.
  • This is so high that unless others reduced emissions at even faster rates, the world would most certainly cross 1.5°C warming.
  • Similarly, the European Union, to keep to its fair share of the remaining carbon budget would have to reach net-zero by 2033, with a constant annual reduction in emissions.
  • If the EU reaches net-zero only by 2050 it would consume at least 71 GtCO2, well above its fair share.
  • Regrettably, a section of the climate policy modelling literature has promoted the illusion that this three-way compatibility is feasible through speculative “negative emissions”
  • They have also been promoting the other illusion that not resorting to any serious emissions increase at all is the means to guarantee the successful development of the Third World.

 WHY INDIA SHOULD AVOID NET NEUTRALITY TARGET ?

  • For one, India has to stay focused on development — both as its immediate need as well as its aspirational goal.
  • While sustainability is desirable, the question of how low India’s future low-carbon development can be is highly uncertain.
  • India’s current low carbon footprint is a consequence of the utter poverty and deprivation of a majority of its population, and not by virtue of sustainability.
  • Second, India does not owe a carbon debt to the world for excessive use in the past.
  • India’s emissions (not considering land use and land use change and forest-related emissions) are no more than 3.5% of global cumulative emissions prior to 1990 and about 5% since till 2018.
  • Any self-sacrificial declaration of carbon neutrality today in the current international scenario would be a wasted gesture reducing the burden of the developed world and transferring it to the backs of the Indian people.

 CONCLUSION :

  • India’s approach to eventual net-zero emissions is contingent on deep first world emissions reductions and an adequate and unambiguous global carbon budget. Meanwhile, India must reject any attempt to restrict its options and be led into a low-development trap, based on pseudo-scientific narratives.

 

QUESTION: Give initiatives taken by the Government towards gender equality in India and Why such initiatives have had a limited impact. How the removal of gender issues and women empowerment can reduce the economic inequalities in India? 

 Editorial Topic – ONE SIDE IS GENDER AND THE OTHER IS FINANCE

WHAT?

  • Gender and Finance

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • Gender equality and women empowerment are again highlighting the level playing field in this 21st century
  • Women represent half the world’s population and half of its economic potential.
  • Women hold the key to ending poverty, when empowered with the right resources and tools.
  • Thus, a society cannot have sustained economic prosperity and wellbeing until the central role of women is recognised and their economic health is used as a measure to shape policy.
  • The objective of improving financial health for women is increasingly an area of interest for influential foundations and NGOs who recognize that better financial health amongst women.

 KEY BENEFITS OF WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN FINANCIAL SYSTEM :

  • Achievement of economic growth, greater equality and societal well-being.
  • Enhances their self-confidence and places the power of decision-making in their hands, resulting in large development
  • Reduces the exposure to income shocks and promote more equitable development.
  • Increasing women bank account holders will reduce systemic risks in the economy.
    • When accessible finance reaches women, the benefits are highly productive and sustainable. The positive economic effects include: Higher savings rates, more healthier families, stronger social cohesion and stable business growth is stable.

  SUGGESTIONS FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION OF WOMEN :

 (1) Customised financial products:

  • There is need to study the social and behavioural impediments impacting women and use this knowledge to design customised financial product offerings for them.
    • Incorporating women’s perspective and experience into the design of new and existing products would increase the likelihood of resonance with the women’s market.

 (2) Behavioural and reformist approaches:

  • Problem: Women often face several barriers which limit their financial inclusion: Limited access to mobile phones, lower literacy levels, less confidence in using technology and restrictions on travel or social interaction.
  • Solution: There is to address them through behavioural and reformist approaches, instead of the usual hardware- based approach.

 (3) Easy access

  • Problem: Many women aren’t as confident and knowledgeable about financial matters as men.
  • Solution: Financial service providers need to ensure that women’s engagement with financial service tools are friendly, safe, affordable and convenient.

 (4) Use oral informational management

  • Problem: Women have restricted mobility due to gendered social norms, are sometimes unschooled and are not the sole decision-makers of their households.
  • Solution: There is a need to actively employ oral informational management tools so that these women can transact independently.

 (5) Increase women presence in leadership positions in financial institutions

  • Gender diversity in leadership has shown to bring sustainability and new innovation pathways.
  • Introducing incentives that favor organizations with women in leadership positions could increase the presence of women in leadership.

 (6) Support the creation of women’s business associations and networks

  • Countries should support the creation of women’s business associations through several means to allow them to take the issues affecting women-led business development to the attention of regulators and financial institutions.

 VARIOUS INITIATIVES TAKEN BY THE GOI TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY :

 LEGAL PROVISIONS:

  • Equal Remuneration Act, 1973 provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work of similar nature without any discrimination. In order to ensure social security to the workers, including women in the unorganised sector, the Government has enacted the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008.
  • The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 regulates employment of women in certain establishments for a certain period before and after childbirth and provides for maternity and other benefits.
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 has been enacted, which covers all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and protect them against sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or unorganised.
  • Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, makes women absolute owners of their properties. The Act was amended in 2005 to give equal rights to women regarding inheritance of family property.

 GOVERNMENT SCHEMES AND PROGRAMMES :

  • Support to Training and Employment Program for Women (STEP) to ensure sustainable employment and income generation for marginalised and asset-less rural and urban poor women across the country.
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) to provide microfinance services to bring about the socio-economic upliftment of poor women.
  • National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) to strengthen the overall processes that promote all-round Development of Women.
  • One Stop Centre to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence.
  • Sabla Scheme for holistic development of adolescent girls in the age group of 11-18 years.
  • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) Scheme is being implemented as Conditional Maternity Benefit for pregnant and lactating women to improve health and nutrition status to better enabling environment by providing cash incentives to pregnant and nursing mothers to partly compensate wage loss both prior to and after delivery.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao(BBBP): To address the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and related issues of empowerment of women over a life-cycle continuum. It is a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), (erstwhile Maternity Benefit Programme) to contribute towards better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers.
  • National Nutrition Mission (NNM): aims to attain a “Suposhit Bharat” and has also the objective of improving the nutritional status of pregnant women and lactating mothers and reducing anaemia among women along with children.
  • Mahila e-Haat, a unique direct online digital marketing platform for women entrepreneurs/ SHGs/ NGOs,
  • Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra, which will empower rural women through community participation to create an environment in which they realize their full potential.

 WHY THESE INITIATIVES HAVE LIMITED IMPACT ?

  1. Limited role: Women in Indian culture is shown as one with limited role of homemaker with status of mother, sister and wife. This lead to discrimination of women and inequalities.
  2. Illiteracy: It is a big hindrance for various government initiatives. Lack of education in women has lead to poor literacy leading to the ender gap in literacy rate and higher education. Literacy rate of India in 2011 is 74%. The Male literacy rate is about 82% and Female literacy rate is 65.5% according to Census 2011 showing wide gender gap regarding literacy.
  3. Social bottlenecks: Detrimental cultural practices like after marriage husbands dominating the family, never or rarely considered for any decision making, early marriage, patriarchal attitudes are also contributing factor to the persistent inequality.
  4. Gender equality seen in isolation: Various policies and initiatives focus only on one gender and try to empower women without focusing on the opposite gender. This leads to the continuation of patriarchal mindset and hence inequalities.
  5. Law design: The laws made are gender biased rather than gender neutral laws. Gender neutral laws would have better outcomes in reducing gender gap. For example, maternity benefit act provide provisions only regarding maternity leave and there is no provision for paternity benefits, which is equally important when it comes to nurture a child.
  6. Poor political representation: Without political representation, gender equality can’t be achieved. Political empowerment make women decisive and aware of women’s rights. Hardly any steps for political representation of women. An Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women report, ‘Women in Politics 2017’ report that Lok Sabha have 64 (11.8% of 542 MPs) and Rajya Sabha 27 (11% of 245 MPs) women

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Women literacy gap must be reduced by ensuring the safety of the women in the schools and through better infrastructure.
  • Increasing women’s economic independence through improving financial literacy, access to financial services and assisting women to develop their employment prospects is important.
  • It is important to work on vulnerable populations to enable the realisation of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Skill development through life skills education for low-income women equipping them with knowledge, skills and an understanding of their rights and entitlements enabling them to manage their lives better.
  • Improving the prevention of violence and violence response systems through community-based mechanisms and concerted sensitisation mechanisms.
  • The meaningful involvement of women and men affected by gender-based violence in the design and delivery of services and advocacy and policy response through the provision of technical assistance should be encouraged.

  CONCLUSION :

  • A broader women financial inclusion requires nuanced approach that tackles the interconnected barriers that women face in using financial services.
  • Positioning information and education as core products; building the financial capability of women customers and training staff to listen to women rather than sell to them
  • By recognizing women’s multi-faceted roles, financial institutions have opportunity to not only improve access for a segment that has been traditionally underserved, but to reduce the widening of the gender gap as well.

 

QUESTION : Discuss the significance of the Ken-Betwa interlinking project and concerns associated with this project.

 Editorial Topic – A HUGE , COSTLY MISTAKE 

 WHAT?

  • Ken-Betwa River Interlinking Project

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • The Centre nudging Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh on Ken-Betwa river interlinking project which has been mired in several hurdles.
  • The government has been pushing the concerned states to make progress on the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project.
  • The ₹18,000-crore river interlinking project has been mired in several hurdles. The most recent one is a disagreement between the States on the share of water.
  • The central government is pursuing the interlinking programme in a consultative manner for generating consensus between the concerned states.
  • The Ken is the last tributary of the Yamuna before it joins the Ganga — 87% of it lies in Madhya Pradesh and 12% in Uttar Pradesh. The Betwa is an interstate river that rises in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh — 68% of it lies in that state before it flows towards Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. This too is a tributary of the Yamuna.

 ABOUT THE PROJECT :

  • The project involves building a 77-metre tall and a 2-km wide Dhaudhan dam and a 230-km canal.
  • Originally, this phase envisaged irrigating 6,35,661 hectares annually (3,69,881 ha in M.P. and 2,65,780 ha in U.P.).
  • In addition, the project was to provide 49 million cubic metres (MCM) for drinking water supply en route.
  • The Ken-Betwa Project is a two-part, Rs. 18,000 crore is the first river inter-linking project.
  • The project will transfer the surplus water from the Ken river to the Betwa basin to help to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region and the adjoining areas

 WHY THE KEN-BETWA LINKING ?

  • Scarcity of water: The region of Betwa experience acute scarcity of water for agricultural industrial and domestic use.
  • Varied Water Sources: Water sources are varied and often seasonal, ranging from ponds, tanks, lakes and streams to open wells, bore wells and irrigation canal radiating out from large-small dams.
  • Dependency on Monsoon Recharge: Farmers are highly dependent on the monsoon to recharge these wells.
  • Irrigation: The Ken-Betwa interlinking project aims to diverge the surplus waters of Ken basin to water deficit Betwa basin.

 KNOWING THE HURDLES:

  • This ambitious project has received almost all the major clearances, had hit a roadblock when MP objected to it.
  • The state has raised the concern of sharing of water of the project. Both the states involved are in dispute over how they will share the water.
  • A large part of Panna (a National Park, declared tiger reserve in 1994 under Project Tiger) is going to be diverted for the Ken-Betwa interlinking project.

 MAJOR CONCERNS :

  • More about 20000 people in 38 villages will be affected due to the submergence by Daudhan reservoir and Makodia reservoir.
  • The project will submerge 6,221 hectares of land— 4,141 hectares of it is core forest inside the reserve.
  • It will submerge about 10% of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh which has been feted as a model tiger-conservation reserve.
  • The tiger habitat, vulture nests, and the gharial – the iconic fish-eating crocodile – all of which are in danger of extinction in the region will be endangered by the construction of Daudhan dam.
  • Some experts have even questioned the definition of the Ken as water surplus and Betwa as deficit in comparison.

 ADVANTAGE OF INTERLINKING OF RIVERS:

  • Reducing Drought: River linking will be a solution to recurring droughts in Bundelkhand region.
  • Farmers’ Benefit: It will curb the rate of farmers suicide and will ensure them stable livelihood by providing sustainable means of irrigation and reducing excessive dependence on groundwater.
  • Electricity Production: It will not only accelerate the water conservation by construction of a multipurpose dam but will also produce 103 MW of hydropower and will supply drinking water to 62 lakh people.
  • Rejuvenate Biodiversity: Few are of the view that the introduction of dams inside the water scarce regions of Panna Tiger Reserve(MP) will rejuvenate the forests of the reserve that in turn will pave the way for Rich Biodiversity in the region.

 CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS INVOLVED:

  • Article 262(1) of the constitution deals with the adjudication of interstate water disputes.
  • Article 262(2) holds that neither Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of interstate water disputes.
  • Water being a state subject requires a mutual water sharing arrangement between two riparian states.
  • The NBWL Standing Committee has put some conditions on the project. These are:
  • Compensating direct loss of 105 sq km of tiger habitat: For this Nauradehi, Rani Durgavati and Ranipur wildlife sanctuaries will be integrated with Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • Affected villagers to be rehabilitated at the project’s cost.
  • The dam reservoir area to be retained as core tiger reserve with minimum activities.
  • No fishing to be allowed at the dam site.
  • No new mining leases to be allowed on tiger dispersal routes.
  • A landscape-based plan for the area will be finalized with the National Tiger Conservation Authority assisted by WII, state forest department and the project proponent.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Government should consider multiple water-harvesting and water-conservation methods. It could adequately store and efficiently make use of rainfall the region receives annually, without the need for building a reservoir and dam.
  • Ken Betwa interlinking project can act as a boon to the water scarce districts of the Bundelkhand region where farmers are struggling with their dependency over monsoon.

 

QUESTION : Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth for a cleaner alternative fuel option. However, several challenges in scaling up to commercial-scale operations persist. Discuss.

 Editorial Topic – A FRESH PUSH FOR GREEN HYDROGEN

 WHAT?

  • Green Hydrogen

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Green hydrogen could help significantly in India’s transition to low carbon future. However, there are several challenges in ramping up its manufacturing. The article suggests measures to deal with these challenges.

 INCREASING THE PRODUCTION OF GREEN HYDROGEN :

  • India will soon join 15 other countries in the hydrogen club as it prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM).
  • In 2030, according to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), green hydrogen demand could be up to 1 million tonnes in India across application in sectors such as ammonia, steel, methanol, transport and energy storage.

 DEALING WITH THE CHALLENGES:

  • Several challenges in scaling up to commercial-scale operations persist. Following are five recommendations.

 1) Decentralise green hydrogen production

  • Decentralised hydrogen production must be promoted through open access of renewable power to an electrolyser (which splits water to form H2 and O2 using electricity).
  • Currently, most renewable energy resources that can produce low-cost electricity are situated far from potential demand centres.
  • Producing oxygen at such locations and then shipped, it would significantly erode the economics of it.
  • A more viable option would be wheeling electricity directly from the solar plant.
  • However, the electricity tariffs could double when supplying open-access power across State boundaries.
  • Therefore, operationalising open access in letter and spirit, as envisioned in the Electricity Act, 2003, must be an early focus.

 2)  Ensure access to round-the-clock renewable power

  • To minimise intermittency associated with renewable energy, for a given level of hydrogen production capacity, a green hydrogen facility will store hydrogen to ensure continuous hydrogen supply.
  • Therefore, as we scale up to the target of having 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, aligning hydrogen production needs with broader electricity demand in the economy would be critical.

 3) Blending green hydrogen in industrial sector

  • We must take steps to blend green hydrogen in existing processes, especially the industrial sector.
  • Improving the reliability of hydrogen supply by augmenting green hydrogen with conventionally produced hydrogen will significantly improve the economics of the fuel.
  • This will also help build a technical understanding of the processes involved in handling hydrogen on a large scale.

 4) Facilitate investment

  • Policymakers must facilitate investments in early-stage piloting and the research and development needed to advance the technology for use in India.
  • The growing interest in hydrogen is triggered by the anticipated steep decline in electrolyser costs.
  • Public funding will have to lead the way, but the private sector, too, has significant gains to be made by securing its energy future.

 5) Focus on domestic manufacturing

  • India must learn from the experience of the National Solar Mission and focus on domestic manufacturing.
  • Establishing an end-to-end electrolyser manufacturing facility would require measures extending beyond the existing performance-linked incentive programme.
  • India needs to secure supplies of raw materials that are needed for this technology .
  • Further, major institutions like the DRDO, BARC and CSIR laboratories have been developing electrolyser and fuel-cell technologies.

 THE CASE FOR GREEN HYDROGEN:

 Green hydrogen has specific advantages.

  • Environment Friendly: Green Hydrogen as energy source is seen as the next big thing as its usage would lead to zero emissions
  • Potential to Decarbonise various sectors: It is a clean burning molecule, which can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Efficient utilization of Renewable Energy: Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.
  • Reduced Dependence on Rare Minerals: Green Hydrogen also holds the key to clean electric mobility that doesn’t depend on rare minerals. Green Hydrogen helps achieve long-term vision of reduced dependency on minerals and rare-earth element-based battery as energy storage.
  • Helps Achieve Paris Goal: Green hydrogen energy is vital for India to meet its Nationally Determined Contributions and ensure regional and national energy security, access and availability.
  • Energy Security: Green energy helps reduce import dependency on fossil fuels.

 HOW HYDROGEN BASED VEHICLES ARE BETTER THAN BATTERY BASED ELECTRIC VEHICLES ?

  • EV still has dependence on Coal: India’s electricity grid is predominantly coal-based and will continue to be so, thus negating collateral benefits from a large-scale EV push — as coal will have to be burnt to generate the electricity that will power these vehicles.
  • In several countries that have gone in for an EV push, much of the electricity is generated from renewables — in Norway for example, it is 99 per cent from hydroelectric power.
  • Applicable to multiple sectors: Experts believe hydrogen vehicles can be especially effective in long-haul trucking and other hard-to-electrify sectors such as shipping and long-haul air travel. Using heavy batteries in these applications would be counterproductive, especially for countries such as India, where the electricity grid is predominantly coal-fired.
  • Efficiency: Hydrogen based vehicles enables a refuelling time of just five minutes, compared to 30-45 minutes charging for a Battery based EV. Also, consumers get about five times better energy storage per unit volume and weight

 CONCLUSION: 

  • As the threat of climate change becomes more real and urgent, promotion of Green Hydrogen technologies holds the real promise. Further, this could also be India’s opportunity to lead the world in a cutting-edge, growing space and generate employment in manufacturing, and R&D – in line with India’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign.

 

QUESTION: Evaluate the term carbon trading? Is it an effective strategy to mitigate the effects of global warming? Critically examine.

 Editorial Topic – A GREEN PARTNERSHIP

 WHAT ?

  • Emissions Trading

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • As the world gets closer to the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow in UK, pressure is mounting on countries to restate their climate goals.
  • Many want that countries revise their earlier commitments made at the time of the Paris Agreement, in 2015, and do more to cut emissions.
  • In this context, India is likely to increase its climate commitment. If successful, this could become an important impetus to trigger the development of a domestic market for Greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

  EMISSIONS TRADING ?

  • Emissions trading is a market-based approach to controlling pollution.
  • By creating tradable pollution permits, it attempts to add the profit motive as an incentive for good performance, unlike traditional environmental regulation based solely on the threat of penalties.
  • It is a central element of the Kyoto protocol in the form of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
  • The first emissions trading scheme (1995) addressed acid rain in California and reduced air pollution significantly.
    • Currently, European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) is the largest in the world.
  • Emissions trading for climate change has been going on since 2005, and today, there are at least 45 schemes across the world that put a price on carbon.
  • However, the design of trading programmes is critical to their success, as they will end up determining the transaction costs as well as the risk inherent in the trading system.

  SUGGESTIONS FOR INDIA IN CREATING ITS EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME :

 India should consider below design principles for create

  • India should decide if the scheme is an allowance trading or a credit trading scheme, or both.
    • Credit trading – Allows emissions reductions above and beyond business-as-usual to be certified as tradable.
    • Allowance trading – Works by defining an aggregate emissions cap and authorizes tradable quantities of emissions under the cap.
  • Schemes that have allowed both have been the most successful, though care ought to be taken to reduce the regulatory barriers to credit trading.

 Allow for international linkages

  • Permitting linkages with other international schemes will allow for the discovery of the lowest transaction costs, increase liquidity and options for participation.

Design for flexibility

  • Since the carbon price can vary, allowing mechanisms such as banking of emissions reductions or the use of offsets gives participants flexibility to decide which option to use.
    • Banking of credits over a period of time allows industries the flexibility to decide price of acquisitions, timing of major investments etc.
  • Depending on the scheme, fungibility with other environmental commodities, such as energy efficiency certificates, can be used to meet compliance needs.
    • Fungibility is the ability of a good or asset to be interchanged with other individual goods or assets of the same type.

Keep it dynamic and in sync with the economy

  • India needs to consider its economic condition while framing rules of its emission trading scheme.
    • Example: Carbon credit prices in the EU emissions trading scheme fell to an all-time low in 2013. Due to economic recession and subsequent drop in emissions. It was not until 2018 where appropriate revisions were made.

 Provide enough time to companies

  • One of the shortcomings of the Kyoto protocol is that the commitment period was not long enough.
    • By the time companies started to integrate the notion of a carbon price to their decision-making process, there were only a few years of the market left.
  • In contrast, the EU emissions trading scheme had/has compliance periods that progressively increased, giving companies enough certainty to make investment decisions.
  • Thus, India should also give ample time to companies for the same.

 Make simple and transparent process

  • The transaction costs associated with implementing an emissions trading scheme rise with the number of rules, exceptions to rules and constraints.
  • As transaction costs rise, the number of trades fall and thus, the cost savings achieved by the program also decline.

 CONCLUSION:

  • Carbon markets and international voluntary cooperation are set to play a critical role in meeting climate targets at the lowest costs.
  • As India contemplates the creation of a domestic emissions trading scheme, India should follow several critical elements to achieve its climate commitments such as reduction goal in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity of GDP by 33-35% until 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS-2 Mains

QUESTION : Differentiate the  Cooperative federalism and Competitive federalism. In the context of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) Amendment Act, 2021, how is cooperative federalism in India affected? 

 

Editorial Topic – A STEP THAT ENHANCES COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM

 

WHAT ?

  • Cooperative Federalism

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recently, both Houses of Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the amendments to the Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Act. (GNCTD)
  • The aim of the amendments were to clear ambiguities in the roles of various stakeholders (especially the Lt. Governor of Delhi and the Legislative Assembly of Delhi) and provide a constructive rule-based framework within the Government of Delhi to work in tandem with the Union Government.

 ABOUT GNCTD (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2021:

  • The GNCTD 2021 Amendment Act clearly defines the powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi (L-G) and the Delhi government on the lines of the Supreme Court judgment of 2019 and also gives more teeth to the L-G’s office. [The 2019 Supreme Court verdict upheld the Ministry of Home Affair’s 2015 notifications authorizing the L-G to exercise powers in relation to services and directing the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of police not to take cognizance of offences against Central government officials as “legal”.]
  • One of the changes made was to bring consistency in the definition of the term “Government” in the NCT of Delhi, such that the government was only formalising the definition of a term that the Delhi Assembly itself had already accepted. – Therefore now: The expression ‘Government’ referred to in any law to be made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi shall mean the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
  • The act gives discretionary powers to the L-G of Delhi even in matters where the Legislative Assembly of Delhi is empowered to make laws.
  • The legislation also seeks to ensure that the L-G is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to give her/his opinion before any decision taken by the Council of Ministers (or the Delhi Cabinet) is implemented.
  • It also says that the L-G will not assent any bill passed by the Delhi Assembly that “covers any of the matters which falls outside the purview of the powers conferred on the Legislative Assembly.”

FEDERAL VS UNITARY FORMS OF GOVERNMENTS :

  • Nations are described as ‘federal’ or ‘unitary’, depending on the way in which governance is organised.
  • In a unitary set-up, the Centre has plenary powers of administration and legislation, with its constituent units having little autonomy.
  • In a federal arrangement, the constituent units are identified on the basis of region or ethnicity, and conferred varying forms of autonomy or some level of administrative and legislative powers.
  • In Federal governments such as India, powers are vividly divided between central and regional governments as enshrined in Article 246 & Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution.

 COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM ?

  • ‘Cooperative federalism’ is administrative cooperation between the Centre and the States, and a partial dependence of the States upon payments from the Centre.
  • Accordingly, Indian constitutional law expert Granville Austin remarks that despite a strong Centre, cooperative federalism doesn’t necessarily result in weaker States.
  • In Cooperative federalism the Centre and states share a horizontal relationship, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest.
  • It is an important tool to enable states’ participation in the formulation and implementation of national policies.
  • Union and the states are constitutionally obliged to cooperate with each other on the matters specified in Schedule VII of the constitution.

 

CHALLENGES IN COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM :

  1. Recent Legislations: Many States have shown their displeasure with the way the Centre has been dealing with the States and laws made by the centre. Case in point: recent surge in several States passing resolutions against Central legislations such as Farm laws and Citizenship Amendment Act.
  2. Trend in Legislative powers: While the Union and Concurrent Lists have expanded, the State List seems to have shrunk, and this has led many to question the structure of Indian federalism and to propose its remodelling. As widely recognised, India is quasi-federal, with powers and resources being highly tilted in favour of the Union. The Union list has more items than the state list that enables more taxation power to centre. This acts as a major roadblock to cooperative federalism in India. Excessive central character, reduce active participation of states.
  3. Devolution of Funds: The socio-economic parameters and development of each State in India is different and while a few have made substantial progress in terms of employment, literacy and creating a conducive environment for doing business and investments, there are a few which are lagging. Economically as well, there are deficit states or the backward regions or the states under debt. Such states which are lagging have protested against the uniform approach in funding because of their special situations in which the central government has to provide special funds to these states.
  4. Under-represented in Finance Commission: Recommendations of the Finance Commission are placed before Parliament and States have no role in the debate. There is no provision for an aggrieved State to challenge the FC report or seek its enforcement.
  5. Ineffective Inter-State Council: The Constitution provided for institutions like inter-state councils to serve as a platform for consultation between the centre and the states. The inter-state council has just turned out as a platform of talks with less progress on real issues. Inter-state council has met twice in 50 years, and has not been taken seriously as a vehicle of cooperative federalism.

 

HOW DOES GNCTD 2021 ACT REDUCE COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM (LEUITENENT GOVERNORS’ROLE) ?

  • If a Lt. Governor, for example, wants to frustrate the efforts of the government, he can declare that there is a difference of opinion on any issue decided by the elected government and refer it to the President which in reality means the Union Home Ministry, and the Lt. Governor being its representative, it is easier for him to secure a decision in his favour.

  Example:

  • The recent appointment of prosecutors for conducting the Delhi riot cases in the High Court is a case in point.
  • As per the High Court and the Supreme Court, the appointment of prosecutors is exclusively within the purview of the State government.
  • When the government decided to appoint them, the Lt. Governor referred it under proviso to Article 239AA (4) to the President stating that there is a difference of opinion between him and the government over this matter.
  • In the meantime, the Lt. Governor appointed all the prosecutors whose names were submitted by the Delhi Police and thus the State government’s list was rejected.

 

ASYMMETRIC FEDERALISM PRACTICE IN INDIA :

  1. Special provisions to some states: Special provisions’ applicable to States are mainly in the form of empowering the Governors to discharge some special responsibilities. E.g., Articles 371 to 371J
  2. Union Territories: UTs are directly administered by Centre. Also, there are Union Territories with a legislature, and Union Territories without a legislature.
  3. Special provisions to Scheduled areas: Special provisions regarding the administration of Tribal areas and scheduled areas are given under 5th and 6th schedule.
  4. Economic asymmetry: The Finance Commission Grants, providing funds to local bodies, state disaster relief funds and compensates for any revenue loss to states after devolution of taxes. There is an asymmetry in the devolution of taxes in such cases of funds provided or grants provided – “One size fits all” is not always followed.

 

 COMPETITIVE FEDERALISM ?

  • In Competitive federalism States need to compete among themselves and also with the Centre for benefits. States compete with each other to attract funds and investment, which facilitates efficiency in administration and enhances developmental activities.
  • In Competitive federalism the relationship between the Central and state governments is vertical and between state governments is horizontal.
  • In a free-market economy, the endowments of states, available resource base and their comparative advantages all foster a spirit of competition. Increasing globalisation, however, increased the existing inequalities and imbalances between states.
  • The investors prefer more developed states for investing their money. Union government devolves funds to the states on the basis of usage of previously allocated funds.
  • Healthy competition strives to improve physical and social infrastructure within the state.

 CONCLUSION :

  • It becomes important to ensure there is complete synchronisation between the Union Government and the Government of NCT Delhi and that there is no encroachment in legislative matters.

 

QUESTION : Discuss the various aspects of the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendations with regard to local governments.”

 

Editorial Topic –  STILL NO RECOGNITION OF THIRD TIER

 

 WHAT ?

  • Significance of Local Bodies And Finance Commission

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • There are some lacunas in the recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission with regard to local governments.

 ABOUT FINANCE COMMISSION :

  • The Finance Commission is a Constitutional body that is at the centre of fiscal federalism.
  • Set up under Article 280 of the Constitution, its core responsibility is to evaluate the state of finances of the Union and State Governments, recommend the sharing of taxes between them, lay down the principles determining the distribution of these taxes among States.
  • The Finance Commission has to be reconstituted every five years. The Constitution doesn’t talk about whether it should be continuous or not continuous.
  • It is a quasi judicial body.
  • Its recommendations are advisory in nature.
  • The 15th Finance Commission: The interim report of the 15th Finance Commission (FC) under chairmanship of N.K. Singh has been tabled in Parliament this budget session.
  • The 15th Finance commission makes recommendations for the period of 2020-2025 (5 years).

 

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LOCAL BODIES AND THE FC :

  • The primary task of the Union Finance Commission is to rectify the vertical and horizontal imbalances in resources and expenditure responsibilities between Union and States.
  • Local bodies:
  • The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments includes the third tier of local governments.
  • Part IX and Part IX-A to the Constitution mandates the Union Finance Commission to supplement the resources of panchayats and municipalities on the basis of the recommendations of the State Finance Commission (another institution created by the Amendments).
  • Now, nearly 2.5 lakh local governments and over 3.4 million elected representatives form the real democratic base of the Indian federal polity.
  • COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the significance of local governments, gram sabha and other participatory institutions in containing the crisis and delivering social protection in India.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 15 TH FINANCE COMMISSION :

  • Higher vertical devolution: From a measly share of 0.78% of the divisible pool with an absolute sum of ₹10,000 crore by the Eleventh Commission, the Fifteenth Finance Commission raised it to 4.23% with a reasonably estimated amount of ₹4,36,361 crore.
  • Compared with the Fourteenth Finance Commission there is a 52% increase in the vertical share.
  • Continuity and change should be the feature of a transfer system, which is designed to build a viable third tier to Indian democracy.
  • All the Commissions since the Eleventh Commission have tied specific items of expenditure to local grants.

 ISSUES :

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission has specific items of expenditure to 60% and linked them to drinking water, rainwater harvesting, sanitation and other national priorities in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • However, it reduced the performance-based grant to just ₹8,000 crore and that too for building new cities. It left out the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) altogether.
  • The performance-linked grants introduced by the Thirteenth Finance Commission earmarked 35% of local grants specifying six conditions for panchayats and nine for urban local governments.
  • It covered a wide range of reforms: from the establishment of an independent ombudsman to notifying standards for service sectors such as drinking water and solid waste management.

 o Municipalities are additionally required to publish service level benchmarks for basic services.

 

  • Entry-level criterion
  • An important recommendation of the Fifteenth Finance Commission is the entry-level criterion to avail the union local grant (except health grant) by local governments (strictly speaking, it is performance-linked).
  • For panchayats, the condition is online submission of annual accounts for the previous year and audited accounts for the year before.
  • For urban local governments, two more conditions are specified: after 2021-22, fixation of minimum floor for property tax rates by the relevant State followed by consistent improvement in the collection of property taxes in tandem with the State’s own Gross State Domestic Product.
  • It is not clear why gram panchayats are left out from this.
  • Lack of data:
  • Unlike the previous Commissions, the Fourteenth Finance Commission conducted a sample survey covering 15% gram panchayats, 30% block panchayats and all district panchayats besides 30% municipalities, presumably to ensure quality in canvassing data.
  • Without reliable data we cannot ensure good governance.
  • Articles 243G, 243W and 243ZD demand better public services and delivery of ‘economic development and social justice’ at the local level.
  • Equalisation principle
  • The Alma-Ata declaration of the World Health Organization (1978) outlined an integrated, local government-centric approach with simultaneous focus on access to water, sanitation, shelter and the like.
  • No integrated approach: Although the Fifteenth Finance Commission outlines nine guiding principles as the basis of its recommendation to local governments, there is no integrated approach.
  • The criteria used by the Fifteenth Finance Commission for determining the distribution of grant to States for local governments, it employed population (2011 Census) with 90% and area 10% weightage.

 

WAY FORWARD :

  • The need of the hour is to bring about a holistic change in the lives of beneficiaries among the villagers by uplifting their socioeconomic and health status through effective linkages through community, governmental and other developmental agencies.
  • Government should take remedial action in the interest of democracy, social inclusion and cooperative federalism.
  • People’s demands for the sustainable decentralisation and advocacy should focus on a decentralisation agenda. The framework needs to be evolved to accommodate the demand for decentralisation.
  • It is important to have clarity in the assignment of functions and the local governments should have clear and independent sources of finance.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In sum, if decentralisation is meant to empower local people, the primary task is to fiscally empower local governments to deliver territorial equity. We are far from this goal.

 

QUESTION : What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism?

 

Editorial Topic –  AN ACT OF COLOURABLE LEGISLATION

 

WHAT ?

  • Doctrine of Colourable Legislation and Places of Worship Act,1991

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The Supreme Court sought the Centre’s response on a PIL challenging the Constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
  • The Act prohibits the conversion of a temple into a mosque and vice versa.
  • In agreeing to examine the law, the court has opened the doors for litigation in various places of worship across the country including Mathura and Varanasi.

 PLACES OF WORSHIP (SPECIAL PROVISIONS) ACT , 1991 :

  • It mandates that the nature of all places of worship, except the one in Ayodhya that was then under litigation, shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947, and that no encroachment of any such place prior to the date can be challenged in courts.
  • Aims: It seeks to “prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
  • Section 3 of the Act, bans the conversion of a place of worship or even a section of it “into a place of worship of a different religious denomination or of a different segment of the same religious denomination”.
  • Section 6 mandates a three-year “imprisonment and a fine for contravening the provisions of Section 3”.
  • However, the Places of Worship Act does not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute and to “any suit, appeal or proceeding relating to it”.

 AN INSTRUMENT TO PRESERVE SECULARISM :

  • The Supreme Court observed the Places of Worship Act embodies the secular values of the Indian Constitution and strictly prohibits retrogression.
  • Non-retrogression is a foundational feature of the fundamental constitutional principles of which secularism is a core component.

 KEY POINTS :

  • The concepts of faith, belief and worship are the foundations of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.
  • The petition says that the law bars the remedy of judicial review which is a basic feature of the Constitution, thereby depriving Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains the right to move court to get their places of worship, destroyed or encroached upon by “barbarian invaders”, restored.
  • The law bars the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and furthermore nullifies the Fundamental Right(s) guaranteed by the Constitution of India as elucidated in Article 32 of “enforcement of fundamental rights” which cannot be suspended except as otherwise stated in the Constitution.
  • Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs appropriate for enforcement of all the Fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution.
  • The power of judicial review is an integral part of the basic structure of the Constitution, no Act of Parliament can exclude or curtail the powers of the Constitutional Courts with regard to the enforcement of fundamental rights.
  • The Act of 1991, is appropriately called an Act of colourable legislation. You cannot do indirectly which you are prohibited from doing directly.
  • Ismail Faruqui vs. Union of India had held that a mosque was not an “essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam” and that namaz could be offered anywhere and hence, “its acquisition (by the state) is not prohibited by the provisions in the Constitution of India”.

 

Criticism of the Legislation –

  • Against Secularism
  • Cut-off date of 15th August 1947 is arbitrary and irrational and also confirms status quo determined by the British.
  • Pilgrimage and Burial Grounds are under State List – Centre has no powers to legislate.
  • CONCERN :In case of scrapping of the law, there might be numerous litigations for rebuilding all 40,000 temples which were demolished in the medieval period.

 

DOCTRINE OF COLOURABLE LEGISLATION :

  • This is applied when the legislature enacting the law has transgressed its power as is mentioned in the Constitution.
  • The expression “colourable legislation” simply means what cannot be done directly, cannot be done indirectly too.
  • It is the substance that is material and not the outward appearance.
  • Hence there are certain situations when it seems that it is within the power of the legislature enacting the law but actually it is transgressing. This is when this doctrine comes into the picture.
  • It was applied by the Supreme Court of India in the case State of Bihar vs Kameshwar Singh and it was held that the Bihar Land Reforms Act was invalid.

 

COLOURABLE  LEGISLATION IN INDIAN CONTEXT :

  • In India ‘ colorable legislation theory ‘ implies only a restriction of the legislature’s law-making power. While the government purports to act within its authority, it appears to realize but in fact, it has transgressed certain powers. So, the doctrine becomes valid whenever a statute tries to do what it can not do specifically in an indirect manner. In India parliamentary and state legislatures, legislative powers are delegated by Article 246 and allocated in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution by lists I, II, and III. Parliament has the power to legislate on any of the List II matters, and Parliament and the State Legislatures both have the power to make laws on any of the List III matters, and the residual power of regulation is vested on Parliament by way of Article 248 and Article 97, List I. It is a matter of how legislative power must be exercised between the Center and the States, or it relies only on the relationships between them, to create some legislation or the legitimacy of that rule. The main point is that the government with punitive authority can not invade the field of competency. It’s called the “constitution scam

 

CONCLUSION :

  • The Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution can pass any order to carry out for doing complete justice being in the public interest, while upholding the Constitution of India
  • Therefore, to address legislative transparency for some improvements in the legislative system, colorable legislation is required.

 

 

QUESTION : Exemplify the term good governance. Discuss recent findings of Good Governance Index report in Kerala. Suggest some measures to improve the governance in Indians states.

 

Editorial Topic –  KERALA MODEL AT THE CROSSROADS

 WHAT ?

  • Kerala Model of Governance

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Kerala’s model of Governance prioritise spending on Social infrastructure. It provides greater Economic security even during the time of adversities.

 MORE ABOUT THIS MODEL :

  • ‘Kerala model’ of governance highlights that Human development welfare measures are effective even with low Economic growth.
  • It has also highlighted the importance of the role of the People’s movement. It pressurizes the government to adopt redistributive measures.

 THE GROWTH STORY OF KERALA :

  • Many economists predicted the failure of Kerala model of governance during the economic stagnation in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The reason was that a slow-growing economy will not have enough fiscal capacity to fund its welfare programs.
  • But after the 1980s, the growth in Agricultural income and remittance increased. It provided a long period for economic growth. During this growth period,
    • the workforce engaged in the secondary sector increased from 20% (1988) to 32% (2018-19).
    • The per capita income that was 10% lower than national average during 1990, raised to more than 65% of national average by (2019-20)
    • Health and education indicators improved, social security schemes were expanded.
  • One issue was the quality of infrastructure of public schools and public hospitals. The inadequate facilities forced many people towards the private sector.

 INNOVATIVENESS TO RAISE FUNDING :

  • Kerala’s welfare policies were hampered due to a lack of adequate financial resources due to harsh limits on state borrowings. The passage of GST disallowed states to tax commodities based on their priorities. It affected their avenues for resource mobilization.
  • In this context, KIFB was set up to raise funding from the financial market. The idea was that greater public spending will increase tax revenues by stimulating growth.
  • The government assured repayment of loans by legally committing to pay portion of its revenue from motor vehicle tax and petroleum Cess.

 PUBLIC SPENDING ON SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE :

  • In the last 5 years, Kerala invested large amount in building up infrastructure for public schools and hospitals. For example, greater than 45000 classrooms were made ‘Hi-tech’ classrooms.
  • The investments were sourced through ‘Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board’ (KIFB).
  • The result was, the number of students in public schools increased. The effectiveness of Kerala public hospitals were witnessed during the Pandemic.
  • Apart from public schools, KIFB funding was used to build economic infrastructure such as industrial parks, bridges, Kerala fiber-optic network (K-FON), TRANSGRID 2.0.

 IMPLICATIONS OF INVESTING IN SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE :

  • There are concerns over Kerala’s unsustainable levels of Debt. For example, the debt to gross state domestic product is 36% .
  • Further, Kerala is very much vulnerable to shocks of the economy such as natural disaster (floods in 2018,2019 & the pandemic), job losses in west Asian countries, contradictory fiscal policy of center. All these can adversely impact its economic growth.
  • However, public spending in social and economic infrastructure will create a more skilled, educated, healthier workforce along with quality infrastructure. This will ensure that even at times of adversities Kerala will be in a better position to absorb the shocks of the Economy.

 DECENTRALISATION PAYING OFF IN KERALA :

  • All the above was not made possible by the state government alone.
  • It is the synergy generated by integrating state government plans and programmes with the local governments, the co-operatives, women neighbourhood groups (Kudumbashree) and civil society organisations that make Kerala distinct.
  • The floods and the pandemic have given testimony for the potential of democratic decentralisation.
  • It is a case of multi-level planning with technical committees and groups working at the state level coordinated by the chief minister.

 MEASURES TO IMPROVE THE GOVERNANCE IN INDIAN STATE?

  • Participation: Participation of the people either direct or indirect in the development and decision making process is one of the cornerstones of good governance. Democratic decentralisation should be emphasised which entails power to the Gram Panchayats and people at the lowest level of political hierarchy.
  • Accountability: Important feature of good governance is accountability. From policymakers to implementers all should be held responsible for their omissions and commissions. Everybody should be answerable for allocation, use and control of public fund and other assets.
  • Transparency: For this, information should be easily available. It is important that issues related to RTI must be resolved. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.
  • Responsiveness: The attribute of responsiveness for good governance necessitates that all public institutions and their processes strive to serve all stakeholders within a responsible time frame. States should be encouraged to achieve targets in a time-bound manner.
  • Rule of law: Without rule of law good governance can’t be ensured. It is also important that laws must benefit every individual of the society. Thus states must ensure rule of law in the territory.

  KERALA MODEL FOR UNIVERSAL EDUCATION :

  • Kerala is known for its highest literacy rate in the country and one hundred per cent enrolment of children in primary and secondary education. Reasons for success of Kerala Model are:
  • Roots in Colonial Period: The historic royal rescript of 1817 proclaimed education as the “responsibility” of the state. Simultaneously, it emphasised that “political will” is more important than the political economy to decide the expenditure on education.
  • Strength of Teachers: With around 46 lakh students, 16,000 schools and 1.69 lakh teachers, the student-teacher ratio and student-school ratio reveal a desirable scenario. With more than 20,000 non-teaching staff, the teachers are not burdened with non-teaching or administrative work and are free to concentrate on their pedagogical roles.
  • Consistency of Policies: The total literacy campaign started by the then Left Front government in 1989. The successful implementation of PRISM (Promoting Regional Schools to International Standards through Multiple Interventions) and whooping allocations to develop one school in each assembly segment to international standards is what can be seen as the reason behind the tectonic shift of 2.35 lakh students from private to public schools.
  • Funding: Successive governments in Kerala have increased the capital outlay to education and simultaneously decentralised financing of education through local bodies. The per capita expenditure on education is also on a steady rise.
  • Comprehensive Intervention: The Kerala model shows that comprehensive interventions pertaining to nutrition, health, sanitation, and early simulation can help to achieve sustainable growth in human development.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Overall, Kerala has made significant strides through investing in infrastructure, decentralized governance, and community engagement. Though many challenges remain, it is working towards making health care accessible, affordable, and responsive to an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases.

 

 

QUESTION : Discuss how is Myanmar the cornerstone in India’s Act East Policy and evaluate the recent ups and downs that are coming in their bilateral relationship ?

 

Editorial Topic –  MAYHEM IN MYANMAR

 

WHAT ?

  • Restoring Democracy in Myanmar

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Myanmar’s military is unwilling to give power to the democratically elected government. It is time for the regional countries to put pressure to end the military rule in Myanmar.
  • Myanmar celebrated its Armed Forces Day on March 27. But violence broke out during the celebration. It led to the killing of more than 100 protesters. After the military coup in February this once again brought back the demand for Rule of Law in Myanmar.

 INDIA AND MYANMAR :

  • India maintains a cordial relationship with Myanmar . An Indian representative was sent to attend the Armed forces Day. Along with India, 7 other countries sent representatives to attend the Armed forces’ day celebrations in Naypyidaw. This includes China, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.
  • When the military conducted parades, the police and soldiers in other parts of Myanmar used lethal force against unarmed people. This resulted in the killing of more than 100 unarmed protesters.
  • India condemned the “use of violence”. Further, India also asked Myanmar for the “restoration of democracy”.
  • According to independent agencies, the military has so far killed more than 570 civilians, including 46 children, since the coup. But the protests are increasing day by day and not reducing like the past ones. This is due to the following reasons,
  • The military rule at present followed after a decade of partial democracy. The people enjoyed their freedoms under the elected government for a decade. So, people are opposing military rule at present.
  • The challenge with the banking system. Apart from street protests, the banks in Myanmar are also on the brink of collapse. Most of the bank staff are on strike against military rule. This resulted in a shortage of cash and inflation of essential goods.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was also intensified by the protests of the Industrial Workers.
  • Support of armed insurgent groups for protesters. The insurgent groups oppose the military as they are they take strict measures to control the insurgents. So, the insurgent groups provide support to the protesters.

 INDIA’S PRIMARY INTERESTS IN MYANMAR :

  • To build an economic and security relationship that prevent Myanmar from slipping into the orbit of China.
  • Ensure the Myanmar military’s cooperation in preventing Northeastern militants, most notably Naga insurgents, from using Myanmar as a safe haven.
  • Support the country’s transition into a full-fledged federal democracy.
  • Ameliorate the plight of the Rohingyas as well as ensure the tense relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar do not spiral out of control.

 CHALLENGES :

  • The Indian government is concerned about Rohingya immigrants in the country
  • Negotiations on the deportation of Rohingya to Myanmar are a point of contention.
  • Lack of basic infrastructure and low trading volume at the Indian border.
  • The India Intelligence Agency stated that the smuggling of light arms, drugs and counterfeit currencies have been spotted along the border.
  • Beijing is investing in projects to improve the Sittwe–Kunming route.
  • Momentum of the Belt and Road Initiative may end India’s East Act Policy like Obama’s pivot to Asia.
  • Both sides share a long maritime boundary and land border, which has led to concerns around transnational issues.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MILITARY COUP ?

Impact on Rohingya’s:

  • Rohingya’s are Predominantly Muslim population who are facing Ethnic violence in Myanmar.
  • Currently, a million of them are living in Bangladesh as refugees due to persecution in Myanmar, and are waiting to be repatriated.
  • Though the Myanmar army was against repatriation, recently the democratic government of Myanmar and Bangladesh held talks for repatriation. These efforts, will definitely be impacted by the current coup.

 Impact on Democracy:

  • With great efforts the Suu Kyi’s administration has nurtured the growth of democracy even in the deeper roots of Myanmar. Now the coup is a step back for Myanmar’s democracy.

 WAY FORWARD FOR INDIA :

  • Though India is a torch-bearer of Democracy, the government is also committed to the policy of non-interference in another state’s internal affairs. Therefore, India should cautiously balance its principles, values, interests while dealing with Myanmar based on geopolitical realities and national interest.
  • India and China initially remained silent on the Coup.
  • However, now their stand is changing as unstable Myanmar is not in the interest of any country.

 CONCLUSION :

  • So far, the military Generals are unwilling to give up power. The only way is the involvement of India, China, and other countries in ASEAN to put pressure on the military to restore democracy in Myanmar .

 

 

QUESTION : Lok Adalat “An alternate dispute resolution”. Comment

 

Editorial Topic –  FOR LOK ADALATS, SPEED OVERRIDES QUALITY

 WHAT ?

  • Lok Adalats in India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The Lok Adalats (People’s Court) have been functioning in India since the last 38 years. They have successfully solved lakhs of cases that have reduced the judicial burden. However, some experts question their efficacy as they tend to neglect justice for speedier resolution.
  • Lok Adalats (literally, people`s court) are considered to be a unique contribution of the Indian legal system to world legal jurisprudence. In India, it was first popularized by Harivallabh Parikh in 1949 at Rangpur in Gujarat. He was a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Lok Adalats are an alternative dispute resolution tool and have helped to litigate parties to reach a comprise. Despite providing three-fold benefits which are speedy resolution economic affordability and reduction of pending judicial cases, they are prone to certain issues which need to be addressed on a priority basis.

 

WHAT IS LOK ADALAT ?

  • The Lok Adalats are a system of an informal system of justice dispensation deployed to make justice accessible and affordable to all.
  • The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 gives a statutory status to Lok Adalats. This was done due to the constitutional mandate of Article 39-A, which directs the state to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
  • Lok Adalat takes up Motor-accident claims, disputes related to public-utility services, cases related to the dishonour of cheques, and land, labour and matrimonial disputes (except divorce) cases.

 

FUNCTIONING OF LOK ADALATS :

 Level of Organization

  • The Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 prescribes for several levels wherein Lok Adalats.
  • Serving or retired judicial officials as well as other persons as prescribed by the authority conduct Lok Adalats.

 JURISDICTION

  • The jurisdiction of these Lok Adalats is parallel to the courts organizing them, therefore it extends to any case or matter which is being heard by that court under its original jurisdiction
  • Lok Adalat does not hear matters with respect to offences not compoundable under law.

 POWERS OF LOK ADALATS :

  • After the admission of disputes, the Lok Adalats proceed to hear the case and dispose of the matter by settling or compromise expeditiously.
  • The manner of resolution in Lok Adalats is more towards compromise and less towards conclusive determination.

 

REASON FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF LA:

  • Equal justice and free legal aid: Article 39A of the Constitution states that citizens of India are entitled to equal justice and free legal aid. Hence, the Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to create national, state and district level authorities to establish Lok Adalats.
  • Speedy trial of the disputes: The basic features of Lok Adalat are the procedural flexibility and speedy trial of the disputes. There is no strict application of procedural laws like the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act while assessing the claim by Lok Adalats.
  • Reducing backlog: The other reason was to clear the massive backlog of pending cases in the Indian judicial system as well as to bring speedy justice to all. The matters in Lok Adalat do not linger on for years but are settled within a day.

 

LEVELS AND COMPOSITION OF LA:

  • At the State Authority Level
  • The Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of- a member from the legal profession; a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.
  • At High Court Level
  • The Secretary of the High Court Legal Services Committee would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judge of the High Court and any one or both of- a member from the legal profession; a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or programmes.

 

  • At District Level
  • The Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or programmes or a person engaged in para-legal activities of the area, preferably a woman.

 

  • At Taluk Level
  • The Secretary of the Taluk Legal Services Committee organizing the Lok Adalat would constitute benches of the Lok Adalat, each bench comprising of a sitting or retired judicial officer and any one or both of either a member from the legal profession; and/or a social worker engaged in the upliftment of the weaker sections and interested in the implementation of legal services schemes or programmes or a person engaged in para-legal activities of the area, preferably a woman.

 

ADVANTAGES OF LOK ADALATS :

 (1) Procedural Flexibility

  • At Lok Adalats, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 or the Indian Evidence Act, 1882 are not strictly enforced.
  • This offers procedural flexibility.
  • It allows parties to interact directly through their counsels and settle their grievances.

 (2) No Court Fees

  • There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat, thus benefiting the poor.

 (3) Final and Binding Award

  • Under Section 21 of the Act, the award passed by the Lok Adalats stand final and binding, resulting in the quick and efficient delivery of justice.

 (4) Maintenance of Cordial Relationships

  • Lok Adalats provide a healthy way of dispute resolution. They allow parties to interact with each other and settle their differences. The Adalat here acts as a conciliator and persuades the parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  • If the parties are unable to reach a compromise, the Lok Adalat can refer the matter back to the courts for adjudication.
  • This evidenced by the Supreme Court judgement, in State of Punjab vs Jalour Singh (2008), where it held that a Lok Adalat is purely conciliatory, and it has no adjudicatory or judicial function.

 (5) Reduction in pending cases:

  • As per analysis, it would require 320 years to settle the existing backlog of cases in India`s judicial system.
  • As per the National Judicial Data Grid, 16.9% of all cases in district and taluka courts are three to five years old; for High Courts, 20.4% of all cases are five to 10 years old, and over 17% are 10-20 years old. Furthermore, over 66,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court, over 57 lakh cases before various HCs.
  • Data from the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) show that Lok Adalats organised across the country from 2016 to 2020 disposed of 52,46,415 cases.

 

ISSUES WITH THESE ADALATS :

 (1) Enforceability lies with Civil Court

  • The awards passed by the Lok Adalats are deemed equivalent to decrees of the civil court. Thus, the parties need to apply for enforcement in the civil court to execute the award. This creates an additional burden for the parties.

 (2) Lack of Criminal Jurisdiction

  • The Lok Adalats have jurisdiction over criminal disputes for a limited number of offences. Offences that are compoundable under law. Thus crimes such as petty theft, other small crimes are beyond the purview of Lok Adalats.

 (3) Forced to accept decisions:

  • Since Lok Adalats work on the principle of compromise, there is a concern, that it gives precedence to speedy disposal of cases rather than the idea of justice.
  • Many times, parties settle in Lok Adalats:
    • Lack of financial competence.
    • End long-pending legal proces.

 

WAY FORWARD :

  • The power to enforce needs to be provided to the Lok Adalats itself rather than ratification by the civil court.
  • Also, provide powers to deal with petty crimes.
  • Recently, the first national e-Lok Adalat was conducted both physically and virtually using videoconferencing tools. This provides an alternate approach for justice delivery.
  • Notwithstanding, Lok Adalats both online and offline should focus on the quality of justice delivered.

CONCLUSION :

  • Lok Adalats are an integral part of Indias legal system. They provide numerous benefits to all key stakeholders of the judiciary i.e. the litigants and Indias judicial system.

 

 

QUESTION :  Discuss India’s policy on refugees. How do you think India should react to the Rohingya crisis and there is an urgent need today to clinically address the issue of refugee protection in India and put in place appropriate legal and institutional measures. Discuss

 

Editorial Topic – INDIA DOES HAVE A REFUGEE PROBLEM

 

WHAT ?

  • Refugee Problem In India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • India has a stellar record on the issue of refugee protection. It was once one of the largest recipients of refugees in the world. However, the recent issue of Myanmarese citizens being turned away at the Indian border have highlighted the issues with respect to India`s refugee policy.

 

ISSUES WITH INDIA’S REFUGEE POLICY:

 Lack of appropriate legal provisions:

  • Immigrants as well as refugees in India are viewed as foreigners by the Foreigners Act,1946. Additionally, India is not part of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.
  • One implication is the absence of legal framework increases the possibility of the domestic politicisation of refugee related issues.

 

Ad hocism

  • Absence a legal framework leads to policy ambiguity whereby India’s refugee policy is guided primarily by ad hocism.
  • This allows the government the freedom to choose what kind of refugees it wants.
  • It creates opportunities to admit refugees or not based on geopolitical considerations.

 Issues with 1951 convention:

  • The definition of refugees in the 1951 convention only pertains to the violation of civil and political rights, but not economic rights.
  • Additionally, the Global north is violating the convention in both letter and spirit. They have constituted a range legal and administrative measures such as visa restrictions, carrier sanctions and among others to reduce the inflow of refugees into their countries.

 WHO ARE ROHINGYAS ?

  • Rohingyas are indigenous to Rakhine state (also known as Arakan) in Myanmar settled since the 15th century.
  • Collectively they fall under the Muslim Indo-Aryans, a mixture of pre-colonial and colonial immigrations.
  • However, according to Myanmar government, they are illegal immigrants migrated to Rakhine following Burmese independence and Bangladesh liberation war.
  • They are victims of an organized genocide and are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
  • The population of Rohingyas was around 1.1 to 1.3 million before the 2015 crisis.

 

 HOW SHOULD INDIA TACKLE ROHINGYA CRISIS ?

  1. Resettlement: Resettlement efforts must be made with the Myanmar from which Rohingya are moving out. India has extended 7,000 tonne of relief assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. This was followed by a $25-million development programme to help Myanmar build the necessary infrastructure to rehabilitate Rohingya in the troubled Rakhine State.
  2. Working with neighbours: India must keep continuing work with other neighbouring countries like Bangladesh so that the refugee influx is better managed and does not cause a permanent strain on the resources. For instance, under Operation Insaniyat, India has provided aid to Bangladesh. This aid is given to improve the situation of Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh.
  3. Balancing human rights: The Supreme Court has urged the Indian administration to strike a balance between human rights and national security interests but not stayed the administration’s deportation plans. Thus, India should ensure that human rights are not violated and must provide health, food and temporary shelter to Rohingya.
  4. Identity cards: As Myanmar-India have strong cultural ties, India should take proactive steps in solving the situation. India may introduce identity cards for refugees so as to allow them temporary relief and enhancing India’s security.

 

REASON – WHY INDIA HAS NOT SIGNED CONVENTION AND PROTOCOL ON REFUGEE PROTECTION ?

  • The definition of refugees in the 1951 convention only pertains to the violation of civil and political rights, but not economic rights, of individuals.
  • If the violation of economic rights were to be included in the definition of a refugee,
  • it would clearly pose a major burden on the developed world.
  • This argument, if used in the South Asian context, could be a problematic proposition for India too.
  • India also need to argue that the North is violating the convention in both letter and spirit, and make its accession conditional on the Western States rolling back the non-entrée (no entry) regime.
  • The non-entrée regime is constituted by a range of legal and administrative measures that include visa restrictions, carrier sanctions, interdictions, third safe-country rule, restrictive interpretations of the definition of ‘refugee’, withdrawal of social welfare benefits to asylum seekers, and widespread practices of detention.”
  • In other words, India must use its exemplary, though less than perfect, history of refugee protection to begin a global conversation on the issue.

 

WAY FORWARD : 

  • India should enact a domestic law to provide for temporary shelter and work permit for refugees. This is to provide refugees with essential legal measures, documentation and not treating them as illegal immigrants.
  • India should argue that their accession to the 1951 Refugee convention is conditional on on the Western States rolling back the no entry regime they have established over the past two decades.
  • What is perhaps equally important is that such a domestic refugee law should allow for temporary shelter and work permit for refugees.
  • India must also make a distinction between temporary migrant workers, illegal immigrants and refugees and deal with each of them differently through proper legal and institutional mechanisms.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In spite of not being a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, India has been one of the largest recipients of refugees in the world. However, if India had domestic legislation regarding refugees, it could have deterred any oppressive government in the neighbourhood to persecute their population and make them flee to India.

 

 

QUESTION : Critically examine the provisions of recently introduced Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and key concerns are arising out of this .

 

Editorial Topic – WHY THE PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION BILL MATTERS

 

WHAT ?

  • Personal Data Protection Bill,2019

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Some concerns in the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 needs to be addressed to make it more effective.

 BACKGROUND :

  • After the Pandemic, many people are participating in the digital economy. For example, online purchase of groceries, telemedicine, e-education, etc.,
  • During the same period, the number of personal data breaches from major digital service providers has increased. For example, The recent alleged data breach at MobiKwik (data of 9.9 crore users at risk)?
  • Hence, robust data protection regulations are necessary to prevent such events and the existing data protection regulations in India have become inadequate.
  • The K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India case, established the right to privacy as a fundamental right. Thus, a more robust data protection legislation is desirable.
  • Currently, a revised version of The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, is under scrutiny by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. It can provide adequate protection to users and their personal data.

 ISSUES IN EXISTING DATA PROTECTION REGULATIONS :

  • In India, at present, data protection is governed by the Information Technology Act, 2000, and various other sectoral regulations. However, they are inadequate because of the following reasons,
  • By obtaining users’ consent to processing personal data, entities are able to override the data protection rules.
    • This is problematic because users might not understand the terms and conditions or the implications of giving consent.
  • The current framework while emphasizes data security it does not give importance to data privacy. For example, the provision on users’ preferences on how his personal data can be processed is unclear. As a result, entities could use the data for purposes different to those that the user consented to.
  • The data protection provisions under the IT Act does not apply to government agencies. This limits the efficacy of data protection framework since governments are collecting and processing large amounts of personal data.
  • The current regime has become inadequate in addressing risks emerging from new developments in data processing technology.

 HOW THIS BILL IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN CURRENT REGULATIONS ?

  • Bill seeks to apply the data protection regime to both government and private entities across all sectors.
  • The Bill emphasizes data security and data privacy equally. For example, to protect personal data the entities will have to maintain security safeguards. Similarly, to protect the data privacy of its users, the entities will have to fulfill a set of data protection obligations and transparency and accountability measures that govern how entities can process personal data.
  • The Bill gives users a set of rights over their personal data and means to exercise those rights. For instance, a user will be able to obtain information about the different kinds of personal data that an entity has about them and how the entity is processing that data.
  • The Bill seeks to create an independent regulator known as the Data Protection Authority (DPA) to monitor and regulate data processing activities. The DPA will grievance redressal authority when entities do not comply with their obligations under the regime.

 WHAT DOES PDP BILL PROPOSE ?

  • The B N Srikrishna committee draft had required all fiduciaries to store a copy of all personal data in India, which was criticised by foreign technology companies that store most of Indians’ data abroad. The Bill, however, trifurcates the data into three categories and mandates the storage within India’s boundaries depending upon the type of data.

 The Bill trifurcates data as follows:

  • Personal data: Data from which an individual can be identified like name, address etc..
  • Sensitive personal data (SPD): Some types of personal data like as financial, health, sexual orientation, biometric, genetic, transgender status, caste, religious belief, and more.
  • Critical personal data: Anything that the government at any time can deem critical, such as military or national security data.
  • The Bill removes the requirement of data mirroring (in case of personal data). Only individual consent for data transfer abroad is required.
  • Data mirroring: The act of copying data from one location to a storage device in real time.
  • Personal Data: The Bill requires sensitive personal data to be stored only in India. It can be processed abroad only under certain conditions including approval of a Data Protection Agency (DPA).
  • Critical Personal Data: Critical personal data must be stored and processed in India.
  • Non Personal Data: The Bill mandates fiduciaries to provide the government any non-personal data when demanded.
  • Non-personal data refers to anonymised data, such as traffic patterns or demographic data.
  • The previous draft did not apply to this type of data, which many companies use to fund their business model.
  • The Bill also requires social media companies, which are deemed significant data fiduciaries based on factors such as volume and sensitivity of data, to develop their own user verification mechanism.

 OTHER KEY PROVISIONS OF THIS BILL :

  • The Bill includes exemptions for processing data without an individual’s consent for “reasonable purposes”, including security of the state, detection of any unlawful activity or fraud, whistleblowing, medical emergencies, credit scoring, operation of search engines and processing of publicly available data.
  • The Bill calls for the creation of an independent regulator Data Protection Authority, which will oversee assessments and audits and definition making.
  • Each company will have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who will liaison with the DPA for auditing, grievance redressal, recording maintenance and more.
  • The Bill proposes “Purpose limitation” and “Collection limitation” clause, which limit the collection of data to what is needed for “clear, specific, and lawful” purposes.
  • It also grants individuals the right to data portability and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data. It also grants individuals the right to data portability, and the ability to access and transfer one’s own data.
  • Finally, it legislates on the right to be forgotten. With historical roots in European Union law, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) this right allows an individual to remove consent for data collection and disclosure.
  • The Bill stated the penalties as: Rs 5 crore or 2 percent of worldwide turnover for minor violations and Rs 15 crore or 4 percent of total worldwide turnover for more serious violations.

 CONCERNS REGARDING THIS BILL :

  • It gives wide exemptions to government agencies, and thereby it dilutes user protection safeguards.
    • For example, under clause 35, the Central government can exempt any government agency from complying with the Bill. This allows Government agencies to process personal data without following any safeguard under the Bill. This could create severe privacy risks for users.
  • Enforcement of various user protection safeguards such as rights and remedies could be difficult for users. For instance, the Bill threatens legal consequences for users who withdraw their consent for a data processing activity. In practice, this could discourage users from withdrawing consent for processing activities that they want to opt-out.
  • Technology giants like Facebook and Google have criticised protectionist policy on data protection (data localisation).
    • They fear that the domino effect of protectionist policy will lead to other countries following suit.
  • Protectionist regime supress the values of a globalised, competitive internet marketplace, where costs and speeds determine information flows rather than nationalistic borders.
  • Also, it may backfire on India’s own young startups that are attempting global growth, or on larger firms that process foreign data in India.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In this context, the government policy on data protection must not deter framing any policy for the growth of the digital economy, to the extent that it doesn’t impinge on personal data privacy.

 

QUESTION : “Trade is unlikely to triumph over politics in South Asia; especially in India-Pakistan relations. This is a curse in South Asia, ” Critically Examine

 

Editorial Topic – THROUGH A BACKCHANNEL, STEPS FORWARD

 WHAT ?

  • Indo-Pakistan bilateral relationship

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • The article highlights the key takeaways from Pakistan’s vacillations on resuming the trade ties even in the face of impending economic crisis.

 U-TURN ON RESUMING TRADE :

  • On March 31, Pakistan announced the decision to import cotton, yarn, and sugar from India.
  • However, it took a U-turn on that announcement about resuming trade ties.
  • This highlights the internal differences and the emphasis on politics over economy and trade.
  • It also signifies Pakistan cabinet’s grandstanding, linking the normalisation of ties with India to Jammu and Kashmir.

 3 takeaways from the decision

 1) Immediate economic needs

  • Pakistan’s decision was to import only three items from India, namely cotton, yarn and sugar.
  • It was based on Pakistan’s immediate economic needs and not designed as a political confidence-building measure to normalise relations with India.
  • For the textile and sugar industries in Pakistan, importing from India is imperative, practical and is the most economic.
  • This is because cotton and sugarcane production declined there by 6.9% and 0.4%, respectively.
  • By early 2019, the sugar prices started increasing, and in 2020, there was a crisis due to shortage and cost.
  • Importing sugar from India would be cheaper for the consumer market in Pakistan.

 2) Politics first

  • The second takeaway is the supremacy of politics over trade and economy, even if the latter is beneficial to the importing country.
  • The interests of its own business community and its export potential have become secondary.
  • However, Pakistan need not be singled out; this is a curse in South Asia, where politics play supreme over trade and economy.
  • The meagre percentage of intra-South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) trade and the failure of SAARC engaging in bilateral or regional trade would underline the above.

 3) Emphasis on Jammu and Kashmir issue

  • The third takeaway is the emphasis on Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan to make any meaningful start in bilateral relations.
  • This goes against what it has been telling the rest of the world that India should begin a dialogue with Pakistan.
  • There were also reports that Pakistan agreeing to re-establish the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) was a part of this new strategy.

 CONCLUSION : 

  • Pakistan has been saying that the onus is on India to normalise the process. Perhaps, it is India’s turn to tell Islamabad that it is willing, but without any preconditions, and start with trade.

 

 

QUESTION : What do you mean by Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) and  its legal backings?  Discuss its significance.

 

Editorial Topic –  NOT ON THE SAME PAGE AT SEA 

 

WHAT ?

  • FONOP and India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The U.S. Navy’s FONOP in India’s EEZ highlights the difference in the Indian and American perception on international maritime law (UNCLOS).

 MORE ABOUT :

  • Recently, the USS John Paul Jones carried out freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) in the west of the Lakshadweep Islands. It lies in India’s exclusive economic zone.
  • It was done without requesting India’s prior consent.
  • Some of India’s strategic community members described this as an unnecessary provocation by the U.S. Navy.
  • Whereas the US defended its operation by stating that it is consistent with international law (UNCLOS).

 FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OPERATIONS (FONOP):

  • It involves passages conducted by the US Navy through waters claimed by coastal nations as their exclusive territory.
  • It reaffirms the US policy of exercising and asserting its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms around the world.
  • This communicates that the US does not accept the excessive maritime claims of other nations, and thus prevents those claims from becoming accepted in international law.
  • This is the first time the US Navy has issued a public statement giving details of the operation.

 AMBIGUITIES IN THE UNCLOS :

  • According to the U.S Navy, India’s requirement of prior consent for the passage of foreign warships through Indian EEZs is a violation of UNCLOS.
  • Articles 56 and 58, Part V of the Law of the Sea, entitles U.S. warships to high-seas freedoms in the 200-nautical mile EEZs of another coastal state.
  • Whereas, according to India’s Interpretation, the UNCLOS does not explicitly permit the passage of military vessels in another state’s EEZ. Military exercises in the EEZ require the consent of the coastal State.
  • This position of India is also consistent with India’s domestic law (I) the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone, (II)Other Maritime Zones of India Act of 1976.

 THE WAY INDIA RESPONDED :

  • India understands that FONOPs give the U.S. Navy leverage in the contest with China in the South China Sea.
  • FONOPs in Indian EEZs have been relatively low compared to other countries. For example, since 2016, the U.S. Navy has carried out only three FONOPs through Indian EEZs. Whereas, U.S. warships have conducted eight FONOPs in 2019, and nine in 2020 in Chinese islands .
  • Apart from conducting FONOPs in Indian EEZ the US navy also conducted FONOPs in the territorial seas of the Maldives. It is done mainly to inform China that the U.S. Navy is committed to upholding the rules-based order in the waters of opponents and partners.
  • Choice of Lakshadweep rather than Andaman Nicobar Islands to conduct FONOPs indicates that US doesn’t want to make a rift in India-U. S relation. Because maritime boundaries around the Lakshadweep are more settled than the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 UNCLOS,1982 :

  • The UNCLOS is an international treaty that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world’s seas and oceans.
  • It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources.
  • It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed as a whole.

Ratification:

  • The Convention was opened for signature in December 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  • The Convention entered into force in accordance with its article 308 in November 1994, 12 months after the date of deposit of the sixtieth instrument of ratification or accession.
    • Today, it is the globally recognized regime dealing with all matters relating to the law of the sea.
  • The convention has been ratified by 168 parties, which includes 167 states (164 UN member states plus the UN Observer state Palestine, as well as the Cook Islands and Niue) and EU. An additional 14 UN member states have signed, but not ratified the convention.
  • While India ratified UN Law of the Seas in 1995, the US has failed to do it so far.

 Exclusive Economic Zone

  • According to UNCLOS, the EEZ is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of this Convention.
  • It is defined as generally extending 200 nautical miles from shore, within which the coastal state has the right to explore and exploit, and the responsibility to conserve and manage, both living and non-living resources.

 INDIAN LAW :

  • As per India’s Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976:
    • The EEZ of India is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters, and the limit of such zone is two hundred nautical miles from the baseline.
    • India’s limit of the territorial waters is the line every point of which is at a distance of twelve nautical miles from the nearest point of the appropriate baseline.
    • All foreign ships (other than warships including sub-marines and other underwater vehicles) shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters.
  • Innocent passage: It is the passage that is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of India.

 WHAT CAN INDIA LEARN FROM THIS ?

  • FONOPs normalizes military activism close to India’s island territories. It makes Indian waters vulnerable to incursions by foreign warships. It encourages other regional navies to violate India’s domestic regulations in the waters surrounding the Andaman and Nicobar Island.
  • India should also rethink its stand on freedom of navigation in the EEZs.Because, India’s domestic regulation is not in concurrence with international law (UNCLOS). For example, India’s declaration of straight baselines delineating zones around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a violation of UNCLOS law.

 

CONCLUSION :

  • In this fraught environment, the ever-expanding, worldwide FONOP campaign needs a careful reappraisal by US policy-makers for effectiveness — lest it alienates friends instead of deterring adversaries

 

 

QUESTION : BIMSTEC needs a paradigm shift in raising the level of cooperation and regional integration and how can India help to revive this body ?

 

Editorial Topic –  BIMSTEC NEEDS TO REINVENT ITSELF

 

WHAT ?

  • Revival of BIMSTEC

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recently, the 17th meeting of the foreign ministers of BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) was held virtually.
  • The setbacks to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), BIMSTEC has emerged as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia.
  • However, there are still some issues which need to be addressed to make BIMSTEC more engaging.

  MEANING OF BIMSTEC :

  • The BIMSTEC is an inter-regional grouping consisting of India, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. All the nations are the nations in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Formed in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • The body is headquartered in Dhaka.
  • Annual meetings are hosted by member states based on alphabetical rotation. Sri Lanka is the current host nation.

 

OBJECTIVES :

  • It aims to accelerate economic growth and social progress among members across multiple sectors — trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries, agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counterterrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.

 Important data:

  • The BIMSTEC region is home to roughly 22 per cent of the global population.
  • The combined GDP is over $2.7 trillion.

 KEY AGREEMENTS OF BIMSTEC :

  • Some key agreements signed by BIMSTEC members include a convention for combating terrorism, transnational organised crime and illicit drug trafficking.
  • The BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection, signed during the BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2018, which aims to promote an optimal power transmission in the BIMSTEC region.
  • much has been achieved in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and security, including counterterrorism, cyber security, and coastal security cooperation.

  ISSUES WITH BIMSTEC ?

  • No high-level deliberations: There were no high-level deliberations at the highest political level in recent times compared to most of the multilateral groupings such as G20, ASEAN, SCO etc.
  • Trade: Lack of progress on the trade and economic dossier. Over 20 rounds of negotiations to operationalise the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement (FTA), signed in 2004, are yet to bear fruit.
    • In 2018, India aggressively pushed for the conclusion of a long-pending FTA among BIMSTEC nations but differences between India and Thailand over market access for professionals, duty cuts on traded goods and policy relaxation stalled the process.
  • More focus on security issues: India has led through constant focus and follow-up on security issues with the grouping. Some members have complained about this behaviour.
  • Inter-country relations: Ties between some nations are being affected such as India-Nepal on border dispute, India-Sri Lanka on fishermen and involvement of China, Bangladesh-Myanmar on Rohingya issue etc. This also influences deliberations at affects BIMSTEC meets.
  • Role of other fora: Revival of other fora such as SAARC which mostly comprises of the same members of as of BIMSTEC reduces the zeal to interact.
  • Role of China: China`s growing influence in matters of BIMSTEC countries is in diversion with what India seeks.
  • Domestic events: Domestic events such as Myanmar coup are in contradiction with constitutional values of other countries.
  • Slow: Being a consensus-based organisation, decision taking time is longer as compared to other bodies such as the EU or ASEAN.
  • Failure to achieve milestones: BIMSTEC has come under scrutiny for failing to achieve milestones within 23 years of its inception.

 

ABOUT SAGAR INCENTIVE :

  • SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), articulated by India‘s Prime Minister in 2015.
  • SAGAR meaning that ― All boats (regional countries) rise with the rising tide (together) — was stated in the broader context of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), but is very relevant to the Bay of Bengal countries in context of PM’s―Neighbourhood First Policy.

 With regard to the Bay of Bengal, India‘s specific imperatives are to:

  • Capitalise upon the cost-effectiveness of maritime routes, in both national and sub-regional contexts.
  • Amalgamate India‘s North-Eastern States into the nation‘s socioeconomic development.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Adopting a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement as recommended by the 2018 study carried out by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry would be a game changer for the region.
  • Involve and evolve mechanisms agreeable to all stakeholders.
  • Holding regular annual meets will ensure high level interaction between the leaders as well as ensure goals of the group are achieved in a time bound manner.
  • Gujral Doctrine: India would have to counter the impression that BIMSTEC is an India-dominated bloc, in that context India can follow the Gujral doctrine that intends to chalk out the effect of transactional motive in bilateral relations.
  • Innovative solutions: Like construction of Buddhist circuit by connecting the buddhist nations especially Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan Nepal and Sri Lanka will contribute in deepening the cultural ties among the BIMSTEC nations.
  • Institutional Mechanism: Like BIMSTEC Summit, Ministerial Meeting, Senior Officials Meeting, BIMSTEC Working Group, Business Forum & Economic Forum within BIMSTEC must be utilised as an active forum for bringing more cooperation and coordination among the BIMSTEC members.

 CONCLUSION :

  • BIMSTEC offers a unique platform of linking South Asia and Southeast Asia. Experts opine that the grouping needs to reinvent itself starting from renaming itself to ‘The Bay of Bengal Community’.

 

 

QUESTION : Evaluate how  India Human Development Survey (IHDS) improves India’s overall  performance with respect to the indicators constitutions the HDI and give effective measures to control the upcoming challenges in the human development sector ?

 

Editorial Topic –  INSTITUTIONS , CASTE AND THE VITAL COG OF TRUST :

 

WHAT ?

  • India Human Development Survey

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The article focuses on whether trust in institutions such as state government, judiciary and police varies by caste. It relies on the India Human Development Survey 2015 (IHDS).

 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TRUST :

  • Trust impacts income and growth through markets and public institutions. There is a positive relationship between trust and the development of financial markets.
  • Operation of these markets is contingent on trustworthiness of debtors, as legal methods of recovery of dues are fraught with delays and heavy expenses.
  • In labour markets, higher trust manifests in ‘higher levels of cooperative relations between labour and management and higher levels of unionisation.
  • Firms that have unions representing their employees are better able to adapt to new management methods, and show better productivity.
  • Evidence suggests a strong positive correlation between trust and the quality of the legal system.
  • There is a similar correlation between trust and the quality of governance.
  • One component of trust is shaped by beliefs inherited from earlier generations, and another by a contemporaneous environment.

 KEY FINDINGS :

  • Trust in public institutions is measured in terms of levels of confidence:
  • a great deal of confidence
  • only some confidence and
  • hardly any confidence.
  • Caste hierarchy reflects socio-economic status.
  • Brahmins are at the top, followed by High Castes, Other Backward Classes/OBCs, and then the deprived including Scheduled Castes/SCs and Scheduled Tribes/STs.
  • Hence, General combines Brahmins, High Castes and Others, while other castes are as stated.
  • Although affirmative action (e.g., quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs in education and public sector employment) has benefited these groups, segments of SCs and STs are still among the most deprived and vulnerable to poverty.

 The most trusted was the judiciary, followed by State governments and then police.

  • A vast majority of households surveyed lacked confidence in State governments in 2012.
  • Judiciary: A large majority reported a great deal of confidence, a moderate proportion had only some confidence and an extremely small proportion had hardly any confidence.
  • These findings are indeed surprising given the judicial overload of cases and prolonged delays.
  • The police: A low proportion had a great deal of confidence in it, a majority had only some confidence and a more than moderate proportion had hardly any confidence.
  • In the composite caste category, General, the highest proportion (under half) had only some confidence, under 30% had a great deal of confidence while about a quarter had hardly any confidence.
  • A high proportion of OBCs also reported a great deal of confidence, a much higher proportion displayed a great deal of confidence and a much lower proportion had hardly any confidence.
  • Among SCs, the highest proportion (under 45%) displayed a great deal of confidence, a smaller proportion had only some confidence, and a much smaller proportion with hardly any confidence.
  • STs, however, display a pattern not dissimilar to OBCs.

 

QUOTA AS A REASON BEHIND TRUST OF SCs :

  • SCs display much confidence in State governments. One reason is quotas.
  • SCs are largely reliant on state munificence.
  • STs while also dependent on quotas, are so isolated that they have limited experience of social safety nets.
  • Over 30% displayed hardly any confidence, with the highest among SCs and STs. This is not surprising given rampant corruption and discrimination against lower castes.

 IHDS :

  • The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) is a nationally representative, multi-topic panel survey of 41,554 households in 1503 villages and 971 urban neighbourhoods across India.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a focus on healthcare across the world. This focus is also reflected in India’s national Budget for 2021, which mandates a sharp increase of 137 per cent on health spending. This includes increased expenditure on the provision of health services, particularly those related to COVID, as well as a steep rise in expenditure on drinking water and sanitation. In this context, this month’s newsletter features two papers using IHDS data that showcase significant findings with long-term implications for health policy in India.

 

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX (HDI) :

  • HDI is a statistical tool used to measure a country’s overall achievement in its social and economic dimensions.
  • It is one of the best tools to keep track of the level of development of a country, as it combines all major social and economic indicators that are responsible for economic development.
  • Pakistani economist Mahbub-ul-Haq created HDI in 1990 which was further used to measure the country’s development by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
  • Every year UNDP ranks countries based on the HDI report released in their annual report.

 SOLUTIONS :

  • NEED FOR INCLUSION

 There is a sharp erosion of trust because of 

  • State government policies that are not inclusive,
  • judicial verdicts that do not conform to high standards of autonomy and fairness, and
  • police actions that violate rights of citizens, and are often brutal.
  • Expanding human development – more education of women and girls, more economic empowerment of women, more bargaining power of young girls in households, reduced poverty, etc.
  • Evidence from Colombia to India indicates that financial security and ownership of land improve women’s security and reduce the risk of gender-based violence, clearly indicating that owning land can empower women.

 CONCLUSION :

  • While inculcation of initial beliefs is bound to be slow, transition to a policy environment that is inclusive and transparent is daunting too but growing awareness among the citizens is likely to facilitate it.

 

 

QUESTION :  “The Quad’s ideology of a “diamond of democracies” can only succeed if it does not insist on exclusivity in India’s strategic calculations given that India shares a special place. Comment

 

Editorial Topic –  WHY LESS MAY BE MORE FOR INDIA AND CHINA

 WHAT ?

  • Indo-China Relations

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • India and China should adopt a minimalist approach in their future negotiations. This would give better and realistic results rather than an idealist and unfulfilled expectation.

 BACKGROUND :

  • A track 2 dialogue held recently between China and India. In dialogue, a consensus was aimed at the adoption of a minimalist approach.
  • This approach focuses on low-hanging fruits that are easier to grab, rather than aiming for a full-scale solution.
  • This approach is emphasized because high expectations have failed to deliver credible results in the past.

 HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND UNWANTED RESULTS :

  • In the 1950s, both countries idealized the restoration of pan-Asian civilizational partnership. However, this notion didn’t exist in reality and the two sides were confronting each other in the 1962 war.
  • Two informal summits took place in 2018 (Wuhan) and 2019 (Mamallapuram) aimed at everlasting peace between the countries. However, barely after two years, a grave border confrontation took place in eastern Ladakh.
  • Therefore, the countries must focus on modest goals to improve the relations. The 3 areas that deserve priority in this regard are 1) border dispute, 2)trade, and 3) the role of other countries and multilateral platforms in bilateral relations.

 CURRENT SITUATION OF BORDER DISPUTE :

  • The border clash at Galwan Valley, Eastern Ladakh is going on for ten months.
  • It is the worst violence since 1967 and the de-escalation effort has reached an apparent stalemate.
  • There is no clarity over the withdrawal of armies along the north and south bank of Pangong lake, Eastern Ladakh. Further, no joint statement was released post 11th round of talks between Corps Commanders on April 9.
  • Thus, it appears that China is in no mood for a final settlement of the boundary question.

 Equation on the trade front :

  • There were talks of decoupling Chinese trade post the Galwan valley stand-off. However, the latest trade data shows a different picture.
  • The figure stood at $87.6 billion where Chinese exports amounted to $66.7, making it India’s largest trading partner. Similarly, Chinese company Vivo sponsored India’s biggest cricket tournament.
  • The reliance is so high that complete decoupling is not possible in the near future.

 Role of other countries and multilateral platforms in bilateral relations:

  • The track 2 dialogue made it clear that China views its relationship with India through its relations with the U.S. The country criticized the creation of small circles like QUAD group to undermine its national interest.
  • India too has shown discontent over its exclusion from China led small circles in South Asia and multilateral efforts on Afghanistan.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • The countries must curtail the mistrust between them. On boundary questions, they can at least bring clarity on most sensitive hotspots and do coordinate patrolling over them.
  • They should cooperate in areas that don’t have security implications. This includes infrastructure development, clean energy, etc.
  • A robust policy framework should be drawn for security-sensitive areas like 5G operations. This would protect India from every other malicious country, not solely from China.
  • The countries must leverage shared platforms to discuss their respective concerns pertaining to 3rd countries or any multilateral platform. These platforms are also useful for reviving and strengthening bilateral relations.
  • For instance, BRICS can be used for reviving bilateral cooperation in Afghanistan or developing vaccine initiatives as done by Quad.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Thus, both countries should focus on modest goals that may be more rewarding than misplaced expectations.

 

 

QUESTION : List the key impacts on world’s economy due to this ongoing covid-19 pandemic and considering this  what are the most expected qualities required from a Civil Servant as far as India is concerned? Critically analyse.

 

Editorial Topic – LESSONS FROM THE FIRST WAVE 

 

WHAT ?

  • Second Wave of Covid-19 in India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Partial lockdowns again, are going to widen economic and social inequalities. Every step towards prevention must consider the Lessons learnt from the first COVID-19 wave in India.

 MORE TO KNOW :

  • India’s second COVID-19 wave is more contagious than the first. Many States have imposed lockdowns of various scales. However, political rallies, social and religious events are still ongoing, making these restrictions meaningless.

 UNEVEN GROWTH FROM THE FIRST WAVE OF COVID-19 ?

  • The International Monetary Fund estimated India’s GDP to grow at 12.5% this year, but this growth cannot be inclusive.
  • The technological, pharmaceutical, and healthcare sectors saw the greatest growth. The wealth of billionaires in India increased by 35% even during the pandemic.
  • Sectors including travel and tourism and wellness and hospitality recorded historic lows. The pandemic destroyed the informal and MSME sector. It pushed 75 million Indians into poverty.
  • The unplanned lockdown highlighted the vulnerability of the migrant workers and poor as they had to walk back to their villages.
  • Many economists predicted that India’s revival from the COVID-19 induced depression would be a ‘K-shaped’ curve. It means only a part of our population recovers.
  • COVID-19 has affected the poor the most. Introducing partial lockdowns will limit the movement of goods and laborers. It will considerably reduce industrial productivity and create paths that will widen our inequalities.

 

SUGGESTIONS :

  • Governments will have to account for demand contraction. Thus, It should urgently ensure cash incentive packages at both individual and institutional levels. This will boost consumption and investments.
  • The need to provide additional provisions for job stamps; direct cash transfer and employment guarantee schemes.
  • The NYAY scheme that guarantees a minimum income of ₹6,000 to every household is a solution that needs to be used at this time.
  • Reports indicate that new COVID-19 mutations are challenging even to the younger population. India will have to speed up vaccine production, procurement, and distribution.
  • Open vaccination for all age groups. This would make it easier for the majority of laborers to be present at their workplaces with lesser risks. Students will also be able to attend classes and examinations.

 CONCLUSION :

  • The government should take responsibility for the lapses in the health care system and vaccine shortages. The private sector and NGOs played a huge role in quickly scaling up healthcare infrastructure during the first wave. With political will and public participation, we should now be able to save lives without negotiating on our population’s livelihood.

 

 

QUESTION : What could be implications of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in the region. In this context analyze need of reform in India’s Afghan policy?

 

Editorial Topic –  EXITING AFGHANISTAN

 WHAT ?

  • Afghanistan and US troops withdrawal

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The US Afghan strategy to pull out the US troops without any settlement leaves the Taliban stronger.
  • In 2020, the Trump administration signed a deal with the Taliban to pull off US troops from Afghanistan. Following that, the current President Joe Biden upheld the agreement and agrees to pull off US troops. But there is no settlement reached between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It leaves the Afghan government as a vulnerable stakeholder.

 BACKGROUND OF US -AFGHAN STRATEGY :

  • The U.S. and Taliban signed an agreement for “Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” on February 29, 2020, at Doha. (also called Doha agreement).

 Features of Doha Agreement

  • Troops Withdrawal: The US and NATO will withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. All the troops will be out of Afghanistan within 14 months. The withdrawal will start on May 1, 2021, with a full withdrawal by September 11.
  • Taliban: Taliban will not allow any of its members to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
  • Prisoners: Exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban will be done to build trust.
  • Sanctions Removal: As per the Doha agreement, US and UN sanctions on the Taliban leaders will be removed.

 THE US-AFGHAN STRATEGY UNDER JOE BIDEN :

  • After becoming President Joe Biden ordered a review of the U.S.’s Afghan strategy. This includes the implementation of the Trump-Taliban deal(Doha Agreement).
  • There was also speculation that the current President will delay the implementation of the Doha Agreement. It will have to wait until there is a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This is because of the following reasons.
    • The Biden administration also actively pursued to establish a peace plan between the Afghan government and the Taliban .
    • Under this, the US also initiated an UN-led regional peace conference. It is scheduled to take place in Ankara, Turkey, in the next week.
  • But the Taliban has made it clear that it will not participate in the conference. Further, they also threatened to step up attacks if the US did not meet the May 1 withdrawal deadline. So, the US president upheld the Doha Agreement.

 VULNERABILITY OF AFGHANISTAN GOVERNMENT :

  • There is an ambiguity with the peace conference. It is not clear whether the peace conference will go through without the Taliban’s participation. If it is without the Taliban participation then there is no point in conducting it at all.
  • After September, the Afghan government will not get troop support from the US and NATO. The Afghan government will be on its own to fight the Taliban. The Afghan government depend on US forces driving out the Taliban in the past.
    • For example, whenever the Taliban overran cities, U.S. airpower was crucial in driving them back.
  • The country is also witnessing a series of targeted killings of journalists, activists and other civil society members opposing the Taliban. So, with US and NATO troops are gone this will intensify as the Afghan government is not capable to control the Taliban.
  • So, Once the Americans are gone, the balance of power will shift in favour of the Taliban.

 HOW WILL WITHDRAWAL OF US TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN IMPACT INDIA ?

  • The withdrawal of the US and the NATO troops from Afghanistan will leave India with tremendous concern about the resurgence of the Taliban and a heaven for terrorists.
  • India and Pakistan do not have the luxury of distance that the U.S. has and will remain involved in Afghanistan. Pakistan is too deeply tied to the Taliban to stop supporting them now though it should be concerned about the adverse impact Taliban ideology would further have on Pakistan,” Haqqani said in response to a question.

 HOW INDIA CAN FIND AN ‘OPPORTUNITY IN DISASTER’ ?

  • It is a truism that opportunities are often found in disaster. So in the midst of a US pull out, India can decide to take up the slack in training of the Afghan army by ramping up its existing programs, including with a possible training centre at a neighbouring Central Asian state.

 WHY THE WAR IS STILL GOING  ON  ?

  • Lack of clarity about the US strategy.
  • Taliban have been trying maximise their leverage during peace negotiations
  • an increase in violence by Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
  • Taliban’s connection with Pakistan.

 WHY IS TALIBAN A STRONG FORCE IN AFGHANISTAN ?

  • The group is making money to the tunes of $ 1.5 bn through the drug trade. Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, and most opium poppies – used for heroin – are grown in Taliban-held areas.
  • It also receives money from Pakistan and Iran

 India’s stand on Afghan peace process

  • The peace process has to be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
  • Afghanistan should build national consensus for talks with the Taliban.
  • India was among the countries that had refused to recognise the Taliban regime of 1996-2001, as Taliban’s growth in Afghanistan was being driven by deep state in Pakistan.
  • India’s stand has been that the peace process has to ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-controlled and Afghan-owned’.
  • All initiatives and processes must include all sections of the Afghan society, including the legitimately elected government.
  • Any process should respect the constitutional legacy and political mandate.
  • Establishment of democratic process with respect for human rights, including women’s rights.
  • The peace process should not leave any ungoverned spaces where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

 WHY AFGHANISTAN IS IMPORTANT TO INDIA ?

 Regional Balance of Power: Afghanistan is tied to India’s vision of being a regional leader and a great power, coupled with its competition with China over resources and its need to counter Pakistani influence.

  • India’s ability to mentor a nascent democracy will go a long way to demonstrate to the world that India is indeed a major power, especially a responsible one.
  • India’s interest in Afghanistan relates to its need to reduce Pakistani influence in the region.

 

  • Energy Security : The pipeline project TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), which seeks to connect an energy-rich Central to South Asia, will only see the light of the day if stability is established in Afghanistan
  • Strategic Location: For access to the landlocked Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan.
  • Natural Resources: The country is home to resource deposits worth one trillion dollars, according to the US Geological Survey.
  • Regional Security: A stable Afghanistan is important for regional security in South Asia

 CONCLUSION :

 Despite that, the US Afghan strategy not only lost the war, but it also lost the process of withdrawal also. As there is no clear peace settlement and peace roadmap  between the Taliban and the Afghan Government. This leaves the Taliban a stronger force in Afghanistan.

 

 

QUESTION : Why doesn’t Election Commission of India require more powers to conduct flawless elections but effective use of the existing powers given to it under the Constitution of India and examine the role of Election Commission in conducting free and fair elections in India. 

 

Editorial Topic –  THE ECI CANNOT BE A SUPER GOVERNMENT

 WHAT ?

  • Election Commission of India and MCC

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • There is absolutely no doubt that elections need to be properly and effectively regulated. The Constitution has clothed the ECI with enough powers to do that. Thus, the code has been issued in exercise of its powers under Article 324.
  • However, there exists a considerable amount of confusion about the extent and nature of the powers which are available to the ECI in enforcing the code as well as its other decisions in relation to an election.

  KNOW ABOUT ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA :

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a constitutional body which superintends, directs and controls the conduct of elections.
  • The main duty is to hold free and fair election.
  • The ECI through the Article 324 contains plenary powers to take all necessary steps to achieve this constitutional object.

  MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT(MCC) ?

  • The model code of conduct (MCC) issued by the ECI is a set of guidelines meant for political parties, candidates and governments to adhere to during an election.
  • This code is based on consensus among political parties.
  • Its origin can be traced to a code of conduct for political parties prepared of Kerala government in 1960 for the Assembly elections. It was adopted and refined and enlarged by the ECI in later years and was enforced strictly from 1991 onwards.

 

IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT  MCC:

  • No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.
  • Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and Candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life.
  • Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.
  • There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, Churches, Temples or other places of worship shall not be used as a forum for election propaganda.
  • All parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are “corrupt practices” and offences under the election law, such as bribing of voters, intimidation of voters, impersonation of voters, canvassing within 100 meters of polling stations, holding public meetings during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of the poll, and the transport and conveyance of voters to and from the polling station.
  • No political party or candidate shall permit its or his followers to make use of any individual’s land, building, compound wall etc., without his permission for erecting flagstaffs, suspending banners, pasting notices, writing slogans etc.
  • Political parties and candidates shall ensure that their supporters do not create obstructions in or break up meetings and processions organized by other parties.

  ISSUES WITH MCC ?

  • No Legal Backing: As formed by consensus among political parties, it has no legal backing.
    • Although a committee of Parliament recommended that the code should be made a part of the Representation of the People Act 1951, the ECI did not agree to it on the ground that once it becomes a part of law, all matters connected with the enforcement of the code will be taken to court, which would delay elections.
  • Contradiction: ECI can de-recognize a political part for not observing the model code of conduct in spite of the fact that MCC has no legal backing.
  • Abrupt Transfer of Officials: One issue relates to the abrupt transfer of senior officials working under State governments by an order of the commission.
    • It is actually not clear whether the ECI can transfer a State government official in exercise of the general powers under Article 324 or under the model code.
    • If transfer of officials is a power which the ECI can exercise without the concurrence of the State governments, the whole State administration could come to a grinding halt.
    • Assuming that a police officer or a civil servant will be able to swing the election in favour of the ruling party is extremely unrealistic and naive.
  • Administrative moves: According to the model code, Ministers cannot announce any financial grants in any form, make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities, etc or make any ad hoc appointments in the government. departments or public undertakings.
    • These are the core guidelines relating to the government. But in reality, no government is allowed by the ECI to take any action, administrative or otherwise, if the ECI believes that such actions or decisions will affect free and fair election.

 

IMPORTANCE OF ECI FOR INDIA :

  • The ECI has been successfully conducting national as well as state elections since 1952. In recent years, however, the Commission has started to play the more active role to ensure greater participation of people.
  • The Commission had gone to the extent of disciplining the political parties with a threat of derecognizing if the parties failed in maintaining inner-party democracy.
  • It upholds the values enshrined in the Constitution viz, equality, equity, impartiality, independence; and rule of law in superintendence, direction, and control over the electoral governance.
  • It conducts elections with the highest standard of credibility, freeness, fairness, transparency, integrity, accountability, autonomy and professionalism.
  • It ensures participation of all eligible citizens in the electoral process in an inclusive voter-centric and voter-friendly environment.
  • It engages with political parties and all stakeholders in the interest of the electoral process.
  • It creates awareness about the electoral process and electoral governance amongst stakeholders namely, voters, political parties, election functionaries, candidates and people at large; and to enhance and strengthen confidence and trust in the electoral system of this country.

 

MAJOR CHALLENGES :

  • Over the years influence of money and criminal elements in politics has increased along with violence and electoral malpractices resulting in criminalization of politics. The ECI has been unable to arrest this deterioration.
  • There has been rampant abuse of power by the state government who at times make large-scale transfers on the eve of elections and posts pliable officials in key positions, using official vehicles and buildings for electioneering, flouting the ECI’s model code of conduct.
  • The ECI is not adequately equipped to regulate the political parties. The ECI has no power in enforcing inner-party democracy and regulation of party finances.
  • In the recent years, an impression is gaining ground that the Election Commission is becoming less and less independent of the Executive which has impacted the image of the institution.
  • One of the major institutional drawback is non- transparency in election of CEC and other two commissioners and is based on the choice of presiding government.
  • There have been allegations of EVMs malfunctioning, getting hacked and not registering votes which corrodes general masses trust from the institution.

 

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Legal backing of Model Code of Conduct.
  • Political parties to refrain from freebies and follow the MCC with letter and spirit.
  • Respecting the legal right as presented in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which says that declaration of a public policy or the exercise of a legal right will not be regarded as interfering with the free exercise of the electoral right.
  • The challenge before the commission is to be vigilant and watchful against the collusion at the lower level of civil and police bureaucracy in favour of the ruling party of t he day.
  • There is a need to provide more legal support to the commission’s mandate and the processes that support that mandate.

 

 CONCLUSION :

  • There is no doubt that the ECI, through the conduct of free and fair elections in an extremely complex country, has restored the purity of the legislative bodies.
  • However, no constitutional body is vested with unguided and absolute powers. Neither citizens nor the ECI is permitted to assume that the ECI has unlimited and arbitrary powers.

QUESTION : Critically evaluate the various issues around ordinance making power of President and Governors? Also discuss the safeguards which are in place to prevent misuse of ordinance making power.

 

Editorial Topic – THE ORDINANCE ROUTE IS BAD , REPROMULGATION WORSE 

WHAT ?

  • Misuse of Ordinance making Power

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The ordinance route provided by the Constitution allows the central as well as state governments to make laws when Parliament/state legislatures are not in session. This is an executive function. The main intent is to allow the government of the day to deal with urgent and emergency requirements.
  • However, successive governments have misused the provision. They would frequently bring in laws without Parliament scrutiny, thus subverting its function.

 

MORE ABOUT ORDINANCE :

  • The Article 123 of the Constitution permits the central and Article 213 allows the State governments to make laws when Parliament (or the State Legislature) is not in session through the ordinance route.
  • Article 123 was adopted from Sections 42 and 43 of the Government of India Act, 1935.
  • Article 213 was adopted in the same spirit, which gives state governments the power to issue such ordinances.
  • They key features of both these Articles is that parliament should not be in session, there should be a necessity, and there should be need for immediate action. Further, such ordinance should be ratified by both houses within six weeks of reassembling.

 ISSUES :

  • Frequency of Promulgation: Whereas an ordinance was originally conceived as an emergency provision, it was used fairly regularly. The frequency of issuing ordinances has increased consistently since independence.
    • In the 1950s, central ordinances were issued at an average of 7.1 per year. The number peaked in the 1990s at 19.6 per year, and declined to 7.9 per year in the 2010s. The last couple of years has seen a spike, 16 in 2019, 15 in 2020.
  • Violate Separation of Powers: Ordinance route allows executive to create laws.This violates the separation of powers doctrine.
  • Issue is repromulgation: Repromulgation is not permitted in the Constitution. But in reality such practices are followed by both state and central governments.
    • Re-promulgation only questions the fundamental legislative supremacy the parliament has.
  • Misuse: Ordinances are used to achieve certain political or economic goals.
    • Instances such as issuing ordinances are used to protect convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification were witnessed.

 

ROLE OF JUDICIARY :

  • The Ordinance making power of the President is in reality a power vested with the Union Cabinet or the Council of Ministers. Moreover, the satisfaction of the President regarding the existence of circumstances that render it necessary for him to take immediate action is a subjective matter which cannot be probed or questioned in a court of law; and the precise nature of the action that he may decide to take in such circumstances is also left to his discretion and cannot be challenged.
  • However, under Dr. D.C. Wadhwa & others v. State of Bihar Supreme Court has made following observations:
  • The power to promulgate an Ordinance is an emergency power which may be used where immediate action may be necessary at a time when the legislature is not in session. It is contrary to all democratic norms that the Executive should have the power to make a law; hence such emergency power must, of necessity, be limited in point of time.
  • A constitutional authority cannot do indirectly what it is not permitted to do directly. If there is a constitutional provision inhibiting the authority to do an act, to avoid that limitation by resorting to a subterfuge would be a fraud on the constitutional provision.
  • While the satisfaction of the President as to the existence of circumstances necessitating immediate action by issuing an Ordinance cannot be examined by Court, it is competent for the Court to inquire whether he has exceeded the limits imposed by the Constitution. He would be usurping the function of the Legislature if he, in disregard of the constitutional limitations, goes on re-promulgating the same Ordinance successively, for years together, without bringing it before the legislature.
  • Though, in general the motive behind issuing an Ordinance cannot be questioned, the Court cannot allow it to be ‘perverted for political ends’.

 

WAY FORWARD :

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, in 1986, ruled that repromulgation of ordinances was contrary to the Constitutional scheme. This idea should be respected in letter and spirit.
  • Courts should check the practice. They should issue strict guidelines so as to ensure the concept of checks and balances is maintained as envisaged by the Constitution.
  • Additionally, the court could issue guidelines or setup a dedicated body to oversee the issue of ordinances.
  • Steps need to be taken at levels ranging from the governments to citizens to ensure the provision is not misused.

 

CONCLUSION :

  • During the constituent assembly debate, those in favour believed that ordinance making power would help towards efficiency, in emergencies and for immediate action requirements.
  • However , the statute has given rise to arbitrary and exploitable power to the executive, an opinion which is being proven to be true through the history of ordinances.

 

 

QUESTION : Discuss why e-learning isn’t a sustainable solution to the COVID-19-induced education crisis in India and mention positive and negative impact on Indian education as far as this pandemic is concerned.

 

Editorial Topic –  SAME OLD ROTE LEARNING

 

 WHAT ?

  • Covid-19 and Indian Education

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Pandemic provided a vital opportunity to initiate sustainable reforms in the education system in India. But bureaucrats and administrators failed to take advantage of it.

 INTRODUCTION :

 The pandemic offered an opportunity for bureaucrats and administrators to re-examine the educational system, but nothing has changed.

  • As a result of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, students in schools and higher education institutions have once again been affected, as they were last year.
  • Instead of assisting institutions, faculty, and students in overcoming uncertainty, administrators focused on excessive bureaucratic centralization.

The phenomenon exposed the administrative inadequacies of the past year.

 WHY IT IS A LOST OPPORTUNITY FOR BUREAUCRATS AND ADMINISTRATORS?

 The pandemic provided the bureaucrats and administrators an opportunity to initiate sustainable reforms in the educational system in the following ways-

  • Collaborate with teachers to discuss their concerns –
  • Could consider promoting better student-teacher relationships.
  • The exam system could have been reformed. They could create a better system for determining the qualifying grade for students to progress to the next level of study.

 However, administrators lost this opportunity because-

  • Rigid emphasis on rote learning.
  • Failure to acknowledge that test results are not the only indicators of a student’s skills.
  • Unwillingness to collaborate with teachers.
  • They ignored plans to evaluate the mental health of teachers, non-teaching staff, and students.

 POSITIVE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON EDUCATION :

  • Move towards Blended Learning: COVID-19 has accelerated adoption of digital technologies to deliver education. Educational institutions moved towards blended mode of learning. It encouraged all teachers and students to become more technology savvy. New ways of delivery and assessments of learning opened immense opportunities for a major transformation in the area of curriculum development and pedagogy. It also gives access to large pools of learners at a time.
  • Rise in use of Learning Management Systems: Use of learning management systems by educational institutions became a great demand. It opened a great opportunity for the companies those have been developing and strengthening learning management systems for use educational institutions (Misra, 2020).
  • Enhance the use of soft copy of learning material: In lockdown situation students were not able to collect the hard copies of study materials and hence most of the students used of soft copies materials for reference.
  • Improvement in collaborative work- There is a new opportunity where collaborative teaching and learning can take on new forms. Collaborations can also happen among faculty/teachers across the world to benefit from each other (Misra, 2020).
  • Rise in online meetings- The pandemic has created a massive rise in teleconferencing, virtual meetings, webinars and e-conferencing opportunities.
  • Enhanced Digital Literacy: The pandemic situation induced people to learn and use digital technology and resulted in increasing the digital literacy.
  • Improved the use of electronic media for sharing information: Learning materials are shared among the students easily and the related queries are resolved through e-mail, SMS, phone calls and using different social Medias like WhatsApp or Facebook.
  • World wide exposure: Educators and learners are getting opportunities to interact with peers from around the world. Learners adapted to an international community.
  • Better time management: Students are able to manage their time more efficiently in online education during pandemics.
  • Demand for Open and Distance Learning (ODL): During the pandemic situation most of the students preferred ODL mode as it encourages self-learning providing opportunities to learn from diverse resources and customized learning as per their needs.

 NEGATIVE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON EDUCATION :

  • Educational activity hampered: Classes have been suspended and exams at different levels postponed. Different boards have already postponed the annual examinations and entrance tests. Admission process got delayed. Due to continuity in lockdown,p student suffered a loss of nearly 3 months of the full academic year of 2020-21.
  • Impact on employment: Most of the recruitment got postponed due to COVID-19 Placements for students may also be affected with companies delaying the on board of students. Unemployment rate is expected to be increased due to this pandemic. In India, there is no recruitment in Govt. sector and fresh graduates fear withdrawal of their job offers from private sectors because of the current situation. The Centre for
  • Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates on unemployment shot up from 8.4% in mid-March to 23% in early April and the urban unemployment rate to 30.9% 
  • Unprepared teachers/students for online education-Not all teachers/students are good at it or at least not all of them were pl ready for this sudden transition from face to face learning to online learning. Most of the teachers are just conducting lectures on video platforms such as Zoom, Google meet etc. which may not be real online learning without any dedicated online learning platform.
  • Reduced global employment opportunity- Some may lose their jobs from other countries and the pass out students may not get their job outside India due to restrictions caused by COVID-19. Many Indians might have returned home after losing their jobs overseas due to COVID-19. Hence, the fresh students who are likely to enter the job market shortly may face difficulty in getting suitable employment. Many students who have already got jobs through campus interviews may not be able to join their jobs due to lockdown.
  • Loss of nutrition due to school closure: Mid day meal is a school meal programme of the Government of India which is designed to provide better the nutritional food to school-age children nationwide.The closure of schools has serious implications on the daily nutrition of students as the mid-day meal schemes have temporarily been shut.
  • Access to digital world: As many students have limited or no internet access and many students may not be able to afford computer, laptop or supporting mobile phones in their homes, online teaching-learning may create a digital divide among students. The lockdown has hit the poor students very hard in India as most of them are unable to explore online learning according to various reports.
  • Access to global education: The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector. A large number of Indian students who are enrolled in many Universities abroad, especially in worst affected countries are now leaving those countries and if the situation persists, in the long run, a there will be a significant decline in the demand for international higher education.
  • Payment of Schools, Colleges fee got delayed: During this lockdown most of the parents will be facing the unemployment situation so they may not be able to pay the fee for that particular time periods which may affect the private institutes.

 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ?

 Decision-makers need to learn from previous mistakes and take the following steps to find a sustainable solution.

  1. Bureaucratic administrators should consult with Academic stakeholders before any decisions.
  2. Institutions need to reconsider their approach –

 o Schools and higher educational institutes need to find alternative forms of assessment for promoting students.

 o Need to come up with new ways to assess the teaching and learning process.

 o Make academic evaluation more rigorous and sustainable encouraging students to write creatively. The concept of open-book exams must be considered.

  1. The bureaucracy must acknowledge that ‘one order fits all’ approach to improving educational system is not feasible.

 

Way forward-

  • Administrators need to concentrate on assisting institutions, faculty, and students in overcoming uncertainty. Thus, they should decentralize decision-making.
  • It is important to avoid responses such as cancelling and/or postponing exams and remaining fixated with the completion of the academic term.

 CONCLUSION :

  • COVID-19 has impacted immensely to the education sector of India. Though it has created many challenges, various opportunities are also evolved. The Indian Govt. and different stakeholders of education have explored the possibility of Open and Distance learning (ODL) by adopting different digital technologies to cope up with the present crisis of COVID-19. India is not fully equipped to make educareach all corners of the nation via digital platforms. The students who aren’t privileged like the others will suffer due to the present choice of digital platforms. But universities and the government of India are relentlessly trying to come up with a solution to resolve this problem. The priority should be to utilise digital technology to create an advantageous position for millions of young students in India.

 

 

 

QUESTION : Describe  the significance of 73rd Amendment Act in the Constitution of India. Discuss the extension of this amendment to Schedule Areas and analyse major challenges faced by the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India.

Editorial Topic –  ARISE AND REJUVENATE THE THIRD LAYER OF GOVERNANCE

 WHAT ?

  • Panchayati Raj System

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • There is a need to strengthen the Panchayati raj system to make the participation of the people in governance a reality.

 EVOLUTION OF PRIs IN INDIA :

  • During the Ancient period, the Cholas pioneered the formation of local bodies to oversee the implementation of State plans.
  • During the British period, in 1884, the Madras Local Boards Act was passed. After that, unions in both small towns and big cities were formed to ensure better administration.
  • Gram panchayat laws were enacted in 1920. It allowed people over 25 years of age the right to vote and choose their panchayat members.
  • Gandhiji was one of the pioneers to emphasise the importance of local bodies. He stressed the importance of autonomously ruled villages.
    • He quoted that, “The voice of the people is the voice of god; The voice of the Panchayat is the voice of the people,”
  • Only in 1992, after the 73rd and 74th Amendments, local bodies were given constitutional recognition. This provided many positive changes such as,

 o Powers to grama Sabha,

 o Reservation for the downtrodden and women,

 o Consistency in economic development,

 o Mandatory local body elections once in five years,

 o Formation of the State Election Commission, Finance Commission,

 

Case Study: Apathy towards Panchayati raj in Tamilnadu

  • It is mandatory that Gram Sabhas should meet at least four times in a year, according to the rules framed by the Tamil Nadu government.
  • Also, as per the constitution 73rd amendment, local body elections must be conducted once in a five years.
  • Further, Gram sabhas are empowered to take opinions and the consensus of the people on significant issues.

 However, in Tamilnadu these mandatory norms are being violated. For instance,

 o One, holding of elections to local bodies is being postponed by the government by giving irrelevant excuses. For the first time, in the last 25 years, local body elections were not held.

 o Two, consensus of the people on significant issues such as an eight-lane highway project and hydrocarbon project are not being taken.

 o Third, lack of women’s representation in major administrative roles in the local bodies.

 

CHALLENGES WITH PRI SYSTEM :

 

Lack of Effective Devolution

 o Local government is a state subject in the Constitution, and consequently, the devolution of power and authority to panchayats has been left to the discretion of states.

 o Some of the important subjects like fuel and fodder, non-conventional energy sources, rural electrification including distribution of electricity, non-formal education, small scale industries including food processing industries, technical training, and vocational education have not been devolved in certain states.

 Insufficient Grants/Funds

 o Despite the constitutional empowerment, the local bodies face problems of inadequate finance to carry out various activities assigned to them.

 o Transfers made through the State Finance Commissions are also meagre in most States.

 o In most of the states, most of the GPs are found reluctant to raise their own source of revenue (OSR). Only a few GPs are able to generate OSR in the form of tax or non-tax revenue by renting shops, house tax and clean water fee.

 

Issue of Sarpanch Pati / Pradhan Pati

 o On the Panchayati Raj Day in 2015, the Prime Minister called for an end to ‘Sarpanch Pati culture’. But it is still very much prevalent in the society, mainly due to gender biases, women illiteracy and patriarchal society.

 Infrastructural Challenges

 o Some of the GPs do not have their own building and they share space with schools, anganwadi centre and other places. Some have their own building but without basic facilities like toilets, drinking water, and electricity connection.

 o While GPs have internet connections, they are not functional in many cases. For any data entry purposes, panchayat officials have to visit Block Development offices which delay the work.

 Lack of Support Staff

 o The Standing Committee on Rural Development (Chair: Dr. P Venugopal) in July 2018 observed that there is severe lack of support staff and personnel in panchayats, such as secretary, junior engineers, computer operators, and data entry operators. This affects their functioning and delivery of services by them.

 

Lack of Convergence of Various Government Programmes

 o There is a clear lack of convergence of various development programmes of the Centre and state governments.

 o For example, roads in two different patches are constructed utilising two different sources of funding (e.g. Fourteenth Finance Commission and MPLAD), but it is difficult to find one large activity with funding from multiple sources.

 o Different guidelines by different departments are cited as a major constraint for lack of convergence of activities.

 

WAY FORWARD :

  • Proper allocation of funds,
  • Ensuring the efficiency of administration by making eligible appointments,
  • Ensuring decent remuneration to Panchayat chiefs and councillors.
  • Giving powers to Gram Sabha to revoke appointed members and representatives.

 CONCLUSION :

  • The demand for federal rule in the Centre and autonomous rule in the States should resonate along with the need to have autonomous local bodies too. A peoples’ movement can ensure the strengthening of Panchayati Raj.

 

QUESTION : How can judicial federalism be defined in Indian context and elaborate how has it  helped during covid-19 pandemic in fulfilling the utmost requirement of oxygen supply.

Editorial Topic –  A CASE FOR JUDICIAL FEDERALISM

 WHAT ?

  • Covid-19 Pandemic and Judicial Federalism in India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

 In the face of a de facto COVID-19 health emergency, the High Courts of Delhi, Gujarat, Madras and Bombay have considered the pleas of various hospitals for oxygen supply.

  • The Gujarat High Court issued a series of directions, including for laboratory testing and procurement of oxygen.
  • The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court was constrained to hold night sittings to consider the issue of oxygen supply.
  • It directed immediate restoration of oxygen supply that had been reduced from the Bhilai steel plant in Chhattisgarh.
  • The Delhi High Court directed the Central government to ensure adequate measures for the supply of oxygen.

 TRANSFER OF CASES BY SC :

  • The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the issue in ‘Redistribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic’.
  • The court indicated the possibility of transfer of cases to the Supreme Court, which it has done on various occasions before.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION :

  • Under Article 139A of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to transfer cases from the High Courts to itself if cases involve the same questions of law.

 CONCERNS :

  • Internal democracy in judiciary: The very fact that many from different High Court Bar Associations spoke up against the move to transfer the cases from the High Courts to the Supreme Court is a positive signal that underlines re-emergence of internal democracy within the Bar.
  • Constitutional rights of High Courts: According to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, public health and hospitals come under the State List as Item No. 6.

 o There could be related subjects coming under the Union List or Concurrent List.

 o Also, there may be areas of inter-State conflicts. 

o In L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997), the Supreme Court itself said that the High Courts are “institutions endowed with glorious judicial traditions”.

 o The power of the High Court under Article 226 is wider than the Supreme Court’s under Article 32. In High Court, a writ can be issued not only in cases of violation of fundamental rights but also “for any other purpose”.

 Article 226, empowers the high courts to issue, to any person or authority, including the government (in appropriate cases), directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, certiorari or any of them.

Article 32 affirms the right to move the Supreme Court if a fundamental right is violated.

 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JUDICIAL INTERVENTION :

  • Accountability of executive: In comparison to the legislature and the executive, what the judiciary can deliver in the realm of socio-economic rights is limited.
  • Courts cannot build better health infrastructure or directly supply oxygen; neither are they functionally bound to.
  • But they can ask tough questions to the executive, implement existing laws and regulations, and hold the executive accountable in various aspects of healthcare allocation.
  • In Parmanand Katara v. Union of India (1989), the Supreme Court underlined the value of human lives and said that the right to emergency medical treatment is part of the citizen’s fundamental rights. As such, constitutional courts owe a duty to protect this right.

 NEED FOR AUTONOMY :

  • Judicial federalism has intrinsic and instrumental benefits which are essentially political.
  • The need for a uniform judicial order across India is warranted only in cases of an apparent conflict of laws or judgments on legal interpretation.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • A diverse and large country like India requires a proper balance between the pillars of federalism, i.e. autonomy of states, national integration, centralisation, decentralisation, nationalisation, and regionalisation.

 o Extreme political centralisation or chaotic political decentralisation can both lead to the weakening of Indian federalism.

  • Reforms at the institutional and political level can deepen the roots of federalism in India. e.g.

 o The contentious role of the Governor in suppressing the states for the Centre’s interest needs to be reviewed.

 o Proper utilisation of the institutional mechanism of the Inter-state Council must be ensured to develop political goodwill between the Centre and the states on contentious policy issues.

 o The gradual widening of the fiscal capacity of the states has to be legally guaranteed without reducing the Centre’s share

 CONCLUSION :

 In the COVID-19-related cases, High Courts across the country have acted with an immense sense of judicial responsibility. This is a legal landscape that deserves to be encouraged. To do this, the Supreme Court must simply stay away.

 

 

QUESTION : “Covid-19 immunisation drive for  vaccinating all  will be a different rom regular vaccination programs”. In light of the statement analyse the challenges in the development & distribution of Covid-19 vaccine.

 

Editorial Topic –  UNDERMINING ‘VACCINE FOR ALL’

 WHAT ?

  • Roll-out of Vaccination Drive

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The Government of India has unveiled a completely revamped vaccine strategy. Two key elements are the hallmark of this new strategy, which will be implemented from May 1.

 BACKGROUND :

  • The phased roll-out of the vaccination drive has now been extended to the entire adult population, namely, to those above 18 years.
  • A deregulation of the vaccine market: Vaccine manufacturers have the freedom to sell 50% of their vaccine production to State governments and private hospitals, and at prices that can be substantially higher than that hitherto fixed by the government.

 o Earlier, the central government played the role of a sole procurement agency that helped in driving down prices, thus addressing the issue of affordable access to vaccines.

  • A grant of ₹45 billion to the two vaccine manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, to boost their capacities, has been approved.

 

ISSUES :

  • Vaccine hesitation and exports: Initially India saw a degree of “vaccine-scepticism”, the Government of India promised exports of vaccines to 95 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.
  • Demand-supply gap: According to recent estimates, existing producers in India will be unable to meet the country’s vaccine requirements.

 o In terms of population share, less than 2% has received both vaccine doses, while less than 9% has received one dose.

 o A demand-supply mismatch has begun to appear as the coverage of the vaccine-eligible population expanded.

 o The United States Government had used a Cold War piece of legislation, the Defense Production Act, to restrict exports of vaccine culture and other essential materials.

 o There is a lack of the financial capacity to expand its production, requesting a grant of ₹30 billion from the government.

  • Onus on States: The new strategy shifts the onus onto the State governments, which have to take decisions regarding free vaccination for people above 18 years, while the central government would continue to support vaccination for people above 45 years, and health-care workers and frontline workers.

 o The government has not fixed the vaccine prices and has allowed the producers to pre-declare the prices they would charge from the State governments and private hospitals.

 o The new strategy fragments the market into three layers namely, central government procurement, State government procurement and the private hospitals.

 o This layering of the market would allow the producers to charge high prices from the State governments and private hospitals.

 o The new strategy would shift the burden of vaccination of the young population, namely, those between 18-44 years, entirely on the State governments.

 o Moreover, given their poor state of finances, most State governments may not be able to procure the required number of vaccine doses to meet the demands of the targeted population.

  • Inequity: This implies that the vaccination of a significant section of the population depends on the financial health of each State government, resulting in inequitable access to vaccines across States.
  • India has long championed the cause of access to affordable medicines in international forums.
  • Affordable vaccines: Why the tax-paying public should bear the high prices of vaccines when taxes have been used to support the vaccine producers.

 o This question is more pertinent in India, where access to affordable vaccines is critical for ensuring “vaccination for all”.

 WAY FORWARD :

 o More open licensing: There is a need for more open licensing of this vaccine to scale up production. This would enhance competition in the market, enabling the vaccines to reach every citizen in the country.

 o Duopoly in the vaccine market: The government should have urgently addressed the serious doubts over affordability of vaccines by ensuring a competitive market for vaccines.

 o  India needs more vaccine manufacturers to ensure uninterrupted supply.

 o One positive step that the government has taken in this direction is to increase production of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine through the involvement of three public sector undertakings, including Haffkine Institute.

 o Vaccine-related raw materials can be imported from other countries like USA , it will “ramp up” the vaccine production in India.

 

CONCLUSION :

 There can be no alternative to vaccination for all if we want to overcome the Covid-19 and to ensure that government needs to rethink its new strategy.

 Addressing the issues associated with the development and distribution of vaccines will augment the effort to efficiently get vaccines to hundreds of millions in the shortest period of time.

 

 

QUESTION : Define the term  Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement and analyse its implications for India during covid-19 pandemic

 

Editorial Topic – A PATENTLY WRONG REGIME

 

WHAT ?

  • TRIPS and Patent Regime in India

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The flexibility in World Trade Organization (WTO)’s TRIPS agreement helped the world in fighting against HIV/AIDS, as HIV was considered national emergency in 2001.
  • However, since the onset of COVID-19, the flexibility provision in the TRIPS agreement is not fully utilised as the request for a waiver on patent protections on COVID-19 vaccine are being denied by several countries.
  • Thus, the world has saw the reaffirmation of intellectual property rules that have served as a lethal barrier to the right to access healthcare over the last few decades.

 

BACKGROUND :

  • On 2nd October 2020, India and South Africa (SA) floated the proposal to temporarily waive IPR and patent laws from Covid vaccines, medical devices and protective kits under the 1995 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the WTO.
  • India and SA believes that protections offered by TRIPS impinged on the containment and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Significance (If waiver is allowed): countries can facilitate a free exchange of know-how and technology surrounding the production of vaccines.
  • However, U.S., the European Union, the U.K. and Canada continues to block the move of India and SA.

  TRIPS AGREEMENT ?

  • The TRIPS Agreement lays down minimum standards for the regulation by member national governments of intellectual property such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.
  • However, keeping in mind needs of the developing countries, certain flexibilities are incorporated in the TRIPS Agreement.

 o The TRIPS Agreement allows other persons to exploit a patented product/process without the consent of the patent owner for use of the government or third parties authorised by the government, in case of national emergency or circumstances of extreme urgency.

  • Such exploitation of patented product was initially limited for supply to domestic market only, which was extended for export to developing and least developed countries by amendment of the TRIPS Agreement in January 23, 2017.
  • The members who are yet to accept the amendment have time till December 31, 2021 to implement the amendment and for them the waiver to the TRIPS obligation will continue to apply until a member accepts the amendment and it takes effect for such member.

 

WHAT IS PATENT ?

  • A patent is a conferral by the state of an exclusive right to make, use and sell an inventive product or process.

Patent laws are usually justified on three distinct grounds:

  • On the idea that people have something of a natural and moral right to claim control over their inventions;
  • On the utilitarian premise that exclusive licenses promote invention and therefore benefit society as a whole; and
  • On the belief that individuals must be allowed to benefit from the fruits of their labour and merit, that when a person toils to produce an object, the toil and the object become inseparable.

  PATENT REGIME IN INDIA :

  • In India, the question of promoting invention and offering exclusive rights over medicines on the one hand with the state’s obligation of ensuring that every person has equal access to basic healthcare on the other has been a source of constant tension.
  • The colonial-era laws that India inherited expressly allowed for pharmaceutical patents.
  • However, in 1959, a committee chaired by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar objected to this on ethical grounds. It noted that –

o Access to drugs at affordable prices suffered severely on account of the existing regime.

 o Foreign corporations used patents to suppress competition from Indian entities, and thus, medicines were priced at exorbitant rates.

 o To counter this trend, it suggested that monopolies over pharmaceutical drugs be removed, with protections offered only over claims to processes. The Parliament put this into law through the Patents Act, 1970.

  • This change in rule allowed generic manufacturers in India to grow. As a result, life-saving drugs were made available to people at more affordable prices.

 

CRITICISM OF TRIPS OF WTO :

  • Provides unnecessarily strong protection of intellectual property rights which serves to prevent the ill in developing nations from having access to affordable essential medications.
  • Compulsory licensing clause makes it difficult for developing nations to issue compulsory licenses to quell public health emergency because it would require that the drugs be manufactured in developing countries where little infrastructure exists to support this ultra-sophisticated industry.

 o Under TRIPS, compulsory licensing allows generic drug companies to manufacture patented drugs and sell them at lower price that the patent holders would.

  ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR :

  • Unless corporations are rewarded for their inventions, they would be unable to recoup amounts invested by them in research and development.

 Counter argument: The technology involved in producing the Moderna vaccine in the U.S. emanated out of basic research conducted by publicly funded universities and organisations. Thus, the amount invest in R&D is very much less.

  • Without the right to monopolise production, there will be no incentive to innovate.

 Alternative to above argument: A prize fund for medical research in place of patents can be made. In this, incentives for research will flow from public funds while ensuring that the biases associated with monopolies are removed.

  CONCLUSION :

 Keeping in view suffering of humanity across the globe and how governments are struggling to reduce infections and mortality, WTO needs to cut down procedural and grant universal waiver to all member nations of the TRIPS Agreement

 

QUESTION : Discuss the issue of basic human rights of fishermen of India and Pakistan. In your opinion, what should India and Pakistan do to address problems of their fishermen languishing in each other’s jails.

 

Editorial Topic – A CEASELESS PLIGHT 

 

WHAT ?

  • Issue of Basic Human Rights of Fishermen

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • India Pakistan Agreement on Consular Access is inactive. Hundreds of Indian fishermen have been suffering in Pakistan’s prisons for years with no end in sight.

 BACKGROUND :

  • An Indian fisherman named Ramesh Taba Sosa is the recent victim of an inhuman and crooked system involving India and Pakistan. Sosa died in a prison hospital in Malir Jail, Karachi, Pakistan and his mortal remains have not been returned yet.
  • There is no guarantee when his family in Nanavada, in Gujarat, will be able to conduct his last rites.
  • Sosa was arrested in May 2019 when his fishing boat entered Pakistani waters. His sentence in the Pakistani prison ended on July 3, 2019, but neither he was sent back home nor he was given consular access till his death. This is an issue of basic human rights.
  • In 2008, India and Pakistan signed the Agreement on Consular Access. Section 4 of the agreement states that the governments of both nations would provide consular access. This has to be provided within three months to citizens of another country, under arrest, detention, or imprisonment in the other country.
  • Section 5 of the agreement provides that within one month of confirmation of the national status and completion of sentences both governments should release and return people.

 IMPACTS OF NOT IMPLEMENTING AN AGREEMENT ON CONSULAR ACCESS :

  • More than 300 Indian fishermen are in Pakistan’s custody in Malir jail. The nationality of a person cannot be confirmed without consular access, which is not easily available. There are several instances in which both countries did not confirm nationality for as long as 18 months.
  • In very rare cases, it had happened that a prisoner repatriated the day he completed the prison sentence.

 OTHER SIMILAR CASES :

  • A fisherman named Vaaga Chauhan died in Pakistani custody in December 2015. His mortal remains reached his village in April 2016.
  • Latif Qasim Sama accidentally crossed over to Pakistan in 2018. He was arrested and his sentence ended in April 2019. Latif didn’t get consular access. Ismail Sama returned from a Pakistan jail after 13 years for the same mistake.
  • Fishermen from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat often get arrested when they accidentally cross over into Pakistani waters.
  • Dharam Singh from Kashmir had unknowingly crossed over in 2003. He spent 18 years in a Pakistani prison. He was later punished by 14 years of imprisonment. This ended in December last year but he reached home this month.

WHAT IS SIR CREEK DISPUTE ?

  • Sir Creek is a 96 km (60 mi) tidal estuary in uninhabited marshlands of Indus river delta on the border of India and Pakistan .
  • The Creek opens up in the Arabian Sea and roughly divides the Kutch region of Gujarat from the Sindh Province of Pakistan .
  • It was originally named Ban Ganga, but was later renamed after a British representative
  • Sir Creek dispute between India & Pakistan lies in the interpretation of the maritime boundary line between Kutch and Sindh .
  • India claims that the boundary lies mid-channel according to international law and the Thalweg principle, while Pakistan claims that the boundary lies to the east of the creek .
  • Thalweg Principle states that river boundaries between two Countries may be divided by the mid-channel if the water-body is navigable

 

WAY AHEAD :

  • Both countries should treat it as a humanitarian issue and take necessary steps to release and repatriate fishermen along with their boats .
  • It is also time that the two countries now consider adopting a ‘no-arrest policy’ in the case of fishermen.
  • The fishing community has ended up paying a huge price over the years.
  • Installing tracking devices in the boats can help in sending out disaster alerts or when the boat is seized by another country.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In 2007, India and Pakistan set up a joint judicial committee on prisoners including four retired judges from both sides. The committee used to assemble twice a year to meet prisoners. It facilitated many repatriations. The committee should be revived at the earliest. Delay is costing lots of lives.

 

QUESTION : “COVID-19 pandemic has opened the fractures of the Indian Health Infrastructure “ Critically analyse this statement .

 Editorial Topic – TO STOP A THIRD WAVE, INDIA HAS TO MASK UP

 WHAT ?

  • Covid-19 and India’s struggle

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Mass vaccination will be the best solution to contain Covid19. However, to prevent the 3rd wave of Covid19, measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene need to adhere.

 BACKGROUND :

  • International experience from other countries such as the UK, South Africa, United States already indicated to us about the possibility of recurrence of Second-wave in India.
  • However, preparedness to tackle the second wave was largely ignored.
  • And there is a high possibility of a third wave once the second wave recedes if active measures are not taken to control the spread.
  • Hence, India needs to plan effectively to contain the possibility of a 3rd wave.

 POSSIBILITY OF A THIRD WAVE CAN BE PREVENTED IN THIS WAY :

  • Mass vaccination is the right option. It will help achieve herd immunity and will bring the Pandemic under control.
  • However, vaccinating the entire population will take a considerable amount of time due to the following challenges:
  1. Slow pace of vaccination,
  2. Inelastic vaccine supplies
  3. limited finances with State governments
  • So, along with mass vaccination drive, India needs to follow other methods such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, ban on mass gatherings to reduce community transmission. For instance,

 o According to a study on Beijing households, face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission when they were used by all household members.

 o Similarly, according to the National Academy of Sciences, near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks in combination with complementary public health measures could reduce community spread.

 WAYS TO PERSUADE/CONVINCE PEOPLE TO WEAR MASKS :

  • An experimental study in Bangladesh provides an understanding of how to persuade people to wear masks voluntarily.
  • According to the study by Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, the following interventions helped to increase the percentage of people using masks three-fold.
  • Providing Free masks along with well-designed instructional material.
  • Improvements in mask Quality. Masks should be comfortable to wear in hot and humid conditions, along with effective filters.
  • Reminders from religious and community leaders and volunteers.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Vaccination drive must be processed at mass level.
  • Need to allocate budgetary resource for the cost of supplying free reusable masks.
  • Imaginative and creative communication campaigns are needed to explain the reasons for mask wearing as well as the right way to wear a mask.
  • Community-level leaders, networks of health workers at the village and community levels should be involved in health campaigns.
  • There is a need for a renewed emphasis on following safety protocols. Draconian total lockdowns are no longer necessary. However, there is also need to formulate District Action Plans with a focus on mapping of cases, reviewing of ward/block wise indicators, 24×7 emergency operations centre, incident command system area specific rapid response team and timely sharing of information.

  CONCLUSION :

  • If the country is to reduce the impact of future waves, it is essential that the above measures are put in place.

 

QUESTION : Discuss why is challenge  of antimicrobial resistance rising especially in India and give various causes and preventive measures to control the risk of  antimicrobial resistance.

 

Editorial Topic –  ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE:THE SILENT THREAT

 WHAT ?

  • Antimicrobial Resistance

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Since January 2020, there have been over three million deaths globally on account of COVID-19.
  • Further, the mutated version of COVID-19 increases the health risk. One of the processes that lead to Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is mutation.
  • AMR is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. AMR is already responsible for up to 7,00,000 deaths a year.
  • Unless urgent measures are taken to address this threat, there could soon an unprecedented health and economic crisis of 10 million annual deaths, costing $100 trillion by 2050.

  KNOW ABOUT ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE ?

  • It is the phenomenon by which bacteria and fungi evolve and become resistant to presently available medical treatment.
  • Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.

 CAUSES OF AMR –

  • Misuse of antimicrobials in medicine,
  • Inappropriate use in agriculture
  • Contamination around pharmaceutical manufacturing sites where untreated waste releases large amounts of active antimicrobials into the environment.

  CHALLENGES OF AMR :

  • In the absence of new therapies against AMR, health systems in Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) of Asia and Africa are at severe risk of being overrun by untreatable infectious diseases.
  • AMR has potential to make the current most common surgical procedures useless.
  • No new classes of antibiotics have made it to the market in the last three decades, largely on account of inadequate incentives for their development and production.
    • A recent report found that over 95% of antibiotics in development today are from small companies, 75% of which have no products currently in the market.
  • Gaps in the quantification of transmission rates and the impact of AMR-specific interventions aggravates the risk posed by AMR.
  • Current initiatives against AMR largely target individual issues related to AMR (such as the absence of new antibiotics, inappropriate prescription etc.) and consequently, narrowly defined groups of stakeholders (providers, patients etc.).

  GLOBAL EFFORTS AGAINST THIS AMR :

  • AMR Action Fund: A multi-sectoral $1 billion AMR Action Fund was launched in 2020 to support the development of new antibiotics.
  • United Kingdom: U.K. is trialling a subscription-based model for paying for new antimicrobials towards ensuring their commercial viability.
    • This means that the government will pay upfront for these new antimicrobials, thereby delinking the life-saving value of the drugs from the volume of sales.
  • Peru: Carrying out patient education to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, Australian regulatory reforms to influence prescriber behaviour,
  • European Union: EU’s VALUE-Dx programme aims to increase the use of point-of-care diagnostics.
  • Denmark: Carrying out reforms to prevent the use of antibiotics in livestock, leading to a significant reduction in the prevalence of resistant microbes in animals & improved the efficiency of farming.

  WAY FORWARD :

  • Need for developing new antimicrobials, infection-control measures.
  • A mix of incentives and sanctions to encourage appropriate clinical use.
  • Ensure that all those who need an antimicrobial have access to it.
    • 7 million People worldwide die annually because they cannot access drugs for infections that are treatable.
  • To track the spread of resistance in microbes, surveillance measures to identify these organisms need to expand beyond hospitals and encompass livestock, wastewater and farm run-offs.
  • Need for sustained investments and global coordination to detect and combat new resistant strains on an ongoing basis.
  • Given the critical role of manufacturing and environmental contamination in spreading AMR through pharmaceutical waste, there is a need to look into laws to curb the amount of active antibiotics released in pharmaceutical waste.
  • Need to increase efforts to control prescription through provider incentives.
  • Educate consumers to reduce inappropriate demand of medicines and issue standard treatment guidelines that would empower providers to stand up to such demands.
  • Solutions in clinical medicine must be integrated with improved surveillance of AMR in agriculture, animal health and the environment.
  • International alignment and coordination are paramount in both policymaking and its implementation.
    • Paris Agreement as a blueprint for developing a similar global approach to tackling AMR can be used.

 CONCLUSION :

  • From the global health perspective, AMR is a problem which mandates an integrated multi-sectoral approach with appropriate financial support to find a satisfactory solution.
  • Although some achievements have been achieved by several countries, there is still a long battle to go to keep pace with newly emerging resistance to anti-bacterials and antifungals.

 

QUESTION : Is state’s control over temples against Indian secularism? Give your views on the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Do they make India a secular state?

Editorial Topic –  TEMPLES ARE NOT FIEFDOMS OF THE STATE

 WHAT ?

  • States Control Over Temples Is Against Secularism

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The problem of hierarchical division in Hindu society is prevalent. But the issue of government control of temples is distinct from the issue of throwing open Hindu religious institutions to all classes and sections of society.
  • Currently, 44,000 temples with over half a million acres of land are under the management of the government of Tamil Nadu.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :

  • In 1817, the first Madras Regulation was passed and the East India Company – a corporate – took over the temples. Their idea of a temple was land, gold, diamonds – wealth.
  • Britishers enacted the Religious Endowments Act (Act XX of 1863) repealing the pre-existing Bengal and Madras Regulations.
  • Section 8 of the Act provided that the members of the committee to be appointed from persons professing the religion, for purposes of which the religious establishment was founded.
  • After independence, the Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act was passed.
  • The Tamil Nadu temples are under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) Department.

 STATE’S POWER IN MANAGING RELIGIONS :

  • Article 25(2) grants power to the State to enact law on two distinct aspects.
  • Article 25(2)(a) empowers the state to regulate “economic, financial, political or other secular activities which may be associated with religious practice”.
  • Article 25(2)(b) enables the state to enact law to prohibit the exclusion of ‘classes and sections’ of Hindu society to enter into Hindu temples of a public character and also make law for social welfare and reform.
  • Thus, the control of secular aspects associated with religion and the power to throw open Hindu temples to all classes and sections of society are distinct.
  • The Constitution does not permit the state to assume ownership of properties belonging to religious institutions.

 STATE INTERFERENCE IN RELIGION :

  • The most fundamental criticism against the release of Hindu temples from government control to the society is: To whom will the temples be handed over to? And  Will it not perpetuate class hierarchies?
  • Sovereign control of temples is justified on the grounds that Hindu temples were supervised and managed by kings.
  • On the contrary there are inscriptions, cast in stone, that attest that temples were managed wholly and entirely by local communities.
  • Unbridled corruption; theft and destruction are the reasons behind the objections over state taking over the temple.
    • Last year, the government of Tamil Nadu submitted a report to the Madras High Court stating that in 11,999 temples in the state, there is no pooja or ritual taking place as there is no revenue.
  • The state has assumed the role of religious functionaries to determine who will be heads of Mutts and the authority to conduct poojas.
    • For example, The Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 entrusted the committee appointed by the state with the task of ensuring the performance of seva pooja.
  • The Waqf Act reveals that it applies to charities and specifically excludes places of worship such as mosques. The scheme of the Waqf Act supports the argument that the government should not regulate places of worship.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • In a pluralistic society, the best approach to nurture secularism is to expand religious freedom rather than strictly practicing state neutrality.
  • It is incumbent on us to ensure value-education that makes the younger generation understands and appreciates not only its own religious traditions but also those of the other religions in the country.
  • There is also a need to identify a common framework or a shared set of values which allows the diverse groups to live together.
  • The prerequisites to implement the social reform initiative like Uniform Civil Code are to create a conducive environment and forging socio-political consensus.
  • State can establish religious harmony among citizens rather intensified its control because temples are not fiefdoms of the state.
  • Hierarchical division in Hindu society should be reconsidered with the state government.
  • Less interference in religious affairs by the state as right to profess, propagate and practice of religion is a fundamental right.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In the spirit of equality of all religions, this scheme should be applicable to all religious institutions which would guarantee adequate com- munity representation in the management of their places of worship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GS-3 Mains

QUESTION : Land reforms in India, are necessary not only to boost agricultural growth but also to eradicate poverty in rural areas. Discuss the need and challenges of digitization of land records in India

Editorial Topic- IMPORTANCE OF LAND MODERNIZATION

 WHAT ?

  • Land Records in India

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • The importance of land records became more evident during the pandemic. For access to formal loans and government relief programmes, land records are important. However, the poor availability of clear and updated land titles remains a problem.

 MORE ABOUT NEWS :

  • The land is both an asset and a source of livelihood for poor people in rural areas. Many informal jobs in the urban areas were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This resulted in reverse migration, leading to greater demands for household resources in rural areas.

 HOW GOVT. IS IMPROVING THE LAND RECORDS ?

  • The government of India’s Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DI-LRMP) is the most recent effort to update land records.
  • The poor state of land records is due to the failure of the Indian administration to evolve from British-era land policies.
  • Further, the Land record regulations and policies vary widely across Indian states/union territories.
  • DI-LRMP provides a common framework for reporting the progress of land record management by states/UTs. But the diverse nature of regulations/guidelines for land record management in India makes the progress non-uniform.

 OBSERVATIONS BY  NCAER LAND RECORDS AND SERVICES INDEX :

  • NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) made an innovative effort by launching NCAER Land Records and Services Index (N-LRSI) in 2020. The index evaluates states’ performance on digitisation and quality of land records.
  • States/UTs have made various efforts to make improvements in various parameters of the N-LRSI index. These improvements are clearly recorded in the N-LRSI 2021 findings.
    • Bihar jumped from the 23rd to 8th position in the index. It achieved significant progress in the digitisation of maps, textual records and the registration process.

 CHALLENGES IN LAND RECORDS POINTED BY STUDY :

  • The lack of skilled manpower in the departments of land records. It is one of the major barriers in ensuring regular updating of land records.
  • The N-LRSI study has brought out poor cooperation across land record departments. These are,
    • Revenue department as the custodian of textual records,
    • The survey and settlement department managing the spatial records.
    • The registration department is responsible for registering land transactions.
  • The information from the sources reveals that no state/UT has the facility for online modification of records on the same day as the registration .
  • There is a weak linkage between the revenue department and the survey and settlement department. This creates a huge difference between the land area reported by the textual and spatial record. This can increase the chances of legal disputes over the definition of boundaries and the extent of a land plot.

 SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE LAND RECORDS IN INDIA :

  • Strengthening of various institutions concerned with Land records. It will achieve the desired quality of land records. This can be attained by removing structural rigidities in the system.
  • The easing of the land transactions can also be tried for improvement in land records. For example, Maharashtra lowering stamp duties to meet its increasing demand for housing, infrastructure. These efforts are going to be helpful for the health of India’s rural economy.

 CONCLUSION :

  • In order to successfully, digitize and modernize land records, several changes in existing laws that govern registration and transfer of land will be required, keeping in mind problems of the poor and the gendered aspect of land ownership.
  • Reducing land market distortions is a key step towards making growth more inclusive and achieving double-digit growth.

 

QUESTION : RBI’s monetary policy which is based on inflation targeting needs reform. Explain the significance of inflation targeting while discussing the concerns over the efficacy of inflation targeting. Comment.

Editorial Topic-  PRUDENCE PREVAILS

 WHAT ?

  • Inflation-targeting

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Inflation is still a big worry for policymakers. That is why the government is still willing to retain the inflation targeting.

 INTRODUCTION :

  • The Finance Ministry will continue with the inflation-targeting framework. It will guide the interest rate decisions of the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee over the five-year period.
  • The Department of Economic Affairs notified that the inflation target for the next five years ending on March 31, 2026, will be 4%. The upper tolerance level will be 6% and a lower tolerance level will be 2%.
  • It means no change has been introduced to the framework.

 KNOW MORE ABOUT MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE :

  • It is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • The 6-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) constituted by the Central Government as per the Section 45ZB of the amended RBI Act, 1934. The first meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was held on in Mumbai on October 3, 2016.
  • The Governor of RBI is ex-officio Chairman of the committee. The MPC determines the policy interest rate (repo rate) required to achieve the inflation target (4%).
  • An RBI-appointed committee led by the then deputy governor Urjit Patel in 2014 recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee.

  ITS OBJECTIVES :

  • It is the macroeconomic policy laid down by the central bank. It involves management of money supply and interest rate and is the demand side economic policy used by the government of a country to achieve macroeconomic objectives like inflation, consumption, growth and liquidity.
  • In India, monetary policy of the Reserve Bank of India is aimed at managing the quantity of money in order to meet the requirements of different sectors of the economy and to increase the pace of economic growth.
  • The RBI implements the monetary policy through open market operations, bank rate policy, reserve system, credit control policy, moral persuasion and through many other instruments.

  INFLATION TARGETING ?

  • Inflation targeting is a central banking policy that revolves around adjusting monetary policy to achieve a specified annual rate of inflation.
  • The principle of inflation targeting is based on the belief that long-term economic growth is best achieved by maintaining price stability, and price stability is achieved by controlling inflation.
  • As a strategy, inflation targeting views the primary goal of the central bank as maintaining price stability.
  • All of the tools of monetary policy that a central bank has, including open market operations and discount lending, can be employed in a general strategy of inflation targeting.
  • Inflation targeting can be contrasted to strategies of central banks aimed at other measures of economic performance as their primary goals, such as targeting currency exchange rates, the unemployment rate, or the rate of nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

  TOOLS FOR INFLATION TARGETING :

  • Liquidity Adjustment Facility- With this RBI controls the money supply in the economy. These interest rates and inflation rates tend to move in opposite directions.
  • Open Market Operations– RBI buys or sells short-term securities in the open market, thus impacting money available with the public.
  • Variable Reserve Requirement- Cash Reserve Ratio (CLR) and the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) are increased or decreased in accordance with inflation or deflation .
  • Bank rate- It is the rate at which RBI lends money to commercial banks without any security. When bank rate is increased interest rate also increases leading to inflation.
  • Moral Suasion- If there is a need RBI can urge the banks to exercise credit control at times to maintain the balance of funds in the market.
  • If the central banks could ensure price stability, households and companies can plan ahead, negotiating wages on the basis of expecting low and stable inflation.

  MAINTAINING INFLATION TARGETS BY THE RBI :

  • The RBI’s officials have in recent months maintained an unwavering focus on emphasising the need to retain the flexible inflation targeting framework.
  • In recent, working paper titled ‘Measuring Trend Inflation in India’, the Deputy Governor overseeing monetary policy underscored the importance of ensuring the appropriateness of the inflation target.
  • Observing that there had been a steady decline in trend inflation to a 4.1%-4.3% band since 2014, they said a target far lower than the trend ran the risk of imparting a ‘deflationary bias’ that would dampen economic momentum, while a goal much above the trend could engender expansionary monetary conditions that would likely lead to inflation shocks.
  • The RBI’s researchers authoring its Report on Currency and Finance themed ‘Reviewing the Monetary Policy Framework’ made clear that the framework had served the economy well, attested by a decline in inflation volatility and more credible anchoring of inflation expectations.
  • That the government’s economic officials have heeded these calls will certainly reassure investors and savers that inflation remains a central concern for all policymakers.

  CONCLUSION :

  • The RBI’s researchers Report on Currency made it clear that the framework had served the economy well. The government’s economic officials have noticed that it will certainly reassure investors and savers that inflation remains a central concern for all policymakers.

QUESTION : Discuss how worsening inequality in income and opportunities impacts some sections disproportionately due to discrimination based on gender, caste, and other factors?

Editorial Topic-  THE PILLARS OF AN EQUITABLE POST COVID-19 INDIA 

 WHAT ?

  • Covid-19 and Increasing inequalities

 WHY IN NEWS?

  • Inequality in India is increasing. It needs an immediate solution to enable sustainable economic growth.

 INTRODUCTION :

  • According to a third Pew Research Report, one-third of India’s middle-class has become poor due to the Pandemic. Whereas, poor people earning less than ₹150 per day have doubled.
  • International organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Labour Organization have also warned about rising inequalities in India due to corona Pandemic.
  • Also, many economists suggest India is witnessing a k-shaped recovery with rising inequalities.

 K-SHAPED RECOVERY AS INDIA FACES?

  • K-shaped recovery happens when, following a recession, different sections of an economy recover at starkly different rates or magnitudes. Some sections benefit from it and some bear a loss.
  • While the economy was slowing down even before the Pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 has further increased the inequality gap.
  • Covid-19 intensified the problems of unemployment, low incomes, rural distress, malnutrition, and inequality.
    • For example, the share of wages declined as compared to that of profits. The quarterly net profit of the BSE200 companies reached a record high of ₹1.67 trillion in the third quarter of FY21.
    • Whereas the informal sector and workers suffered the loss of incomes and employment in the last year. Women lost more jobs and many are out of the workforce. Inequalities also increased in health care and education.
  • The impact of the Pandemic is more on India’s large informal sector than any other sector.

 CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH INEQUALITIES :

  • Normalization of Inequalities: Many major economists worldwide try to justify growing inequalities as an inevitable by-product of economic growth that led to the reduction of absolute poverty.
    • Moreover, concerns about inequality could also be easily dismissed as being informed by socialism, which is portrayed as a threat to democracy.
    • Due to this, the distribution of new wealth between capital and labor has become so one-sided that workers are constantly being pushed to penury while the rich are getting richer.
    • Further, the worsening inequality in income and opportunities impacts some sections disproportionately due to discrimination based on gender, caste, and other factors.
  • Creation of Monopolies: Despite its alleged commitment to market competition, the neoliberal economic agenda instead brought the decline of competition and the rise of close to monopoly power in vast swaths of the economy:
  • pharmaceuticals, telecom, airlines, agriculture, banking, industrials, retail.
  • Unsustainable Economic Growth: One of the chief characteristics of economic development is the intensification of energy use. There is an unprecedented concentration of high energy density in all economic development strategies.
    • The bulk of the energy continues to be generated from non-renewable sources.
    • The developed world’s primary objective is to capture energy-generating resources from across continents and put them to use to push their GDP growth to greater heights.
    • This unsustainable economic growth model is against the concept of sustainability, as it sacrifices the need of future generations for the welfare of present generations.

 NEED TO REDUCE INEQUALITY IN INDIA : WAY FORWARD

  • Increasing employment and wages is central to the inclusive growth approach. Investment in infrastructure including construction can create employment. Further, we need to take measures to address the following seven challenges in employment,
  • Creating 7 to 8 million productive jobs per year.
    • Correcting the mismatch between demand and supply of labor. For example, only 2.3% of India’s workforce has formal skill training as compared to 96% in South Korea.
    • Need to make manufacturing the growth engine to facilitate labour-intensive exports.
    • Also, Focus on micro, small & medium enterprises and informal sectors including rights of migrants.
    • Furthermore, Preparedness for automation and technology revolution.
    • Social security and decent working conditions for all.
    • Raising real wages of rural and urban workers and guaranteeing minimum wages.
  • Improving human development by fixing the gap in health and education. Increasing public expenditure on health and education should be the way forward. Need to Prioritise universal health care and increase spending on health to 2%-3% of GDP.
  • Providing social safety nets to absorb shocks in the economy. It can be done by providing a combination of cash transfers and an expanded guarantee scheme. For example,
    • Cash transfers to all women above the age of 20 years.
    • Expanding the number of days provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and a national employment guarantee scheme for urban areas.
  • Increase the income of small and marginal farmers. For that, Farmer producer organizations should be strengthened. States should have a bigger role in agricultural-marketing reforms.
  • The tax/GDP ratio has to be raised, with a wider tax base to increase governments’ revenue. It can be used for spending for the above programs.
  • Resorting to fiscal federalism by reducing the inequalities between the Centre and States in finances. State budgets must be strengthened to improve capital expenditures on physical infrastructure and spending on health, education, and social safety nets.
  • Deepening democracy and decentralization can reduce inequalities. Unequal distribution of development is rooted in the inequalities of political, social, and economic power.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Reducing income inequalities is also important for improving demand that can raise private investment, consumption, and exports for higher and sustainable economic growth.

 

QUESTION : What are the determinants of left-wing extremism in Eastern part of India and how has LWE been a big threat to India’s internal security ?  Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE.

Editorial Topic-  PERSISTENT MINDLESSNESS

 WHAT ?

  • Fighting Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recently 22 security force personnel fell to Maoist bullets in Bijapur, Chhatisgarh and questions were raised not just on possible tactical mistakes by the forces but also on Chhattisgarh’s continued struggle in driving out Maoists from what is arguably their last bastion.
  • Since the 2010 Chintalnar massacre that claimed 76 lives, the Dantewada-Sukma-Bijapur axis has claimed the lives of more than 175 security personnel in Maoist ambushes alone.
  • Since a crackdown on Maoists starting 2005 in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) states, other states have largely tackled the problem. The number of districts declared Naxal-affected is now just 90, down from over 200 in the early 2000s. Yet Chhattisgarh struggles.

 NAXALISM IN INDIA -HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :

  • The term Naxalism derives its name from the village Naxalbari of West Bengal.
  • It originated as rebellion against local landlords who bashed a peasant over a land dispute. The rebellion was initiated in 1967, with an objective of rightful redistribution of the land to working peasants under the leadership of Kanu Sanyal and Jagan Santhal.
  • Started in West Bengal, the movement has spread across the Eastern India; in less developed areas of states such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is considered that Naxals support Maoist political sentiments and ideology.

 REASONS BEHIND NAXALITE MOVEMENT :

  • Tribal discontent: The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 deprives tribals, who depend on forest produce for their living, from even cutting a bark. Massive displacement of tribal population in the naxalism-affected states due to development projects, mining operations and other reasons.
  • Easy Targets: Such people who do not have any source of living are taken into naxalism by Maoists. Maoists provide arms and ammunitions and money to such people.
  • Gaps in the socio-economic system of the country: Government measuring its success on the basis of number of violent attacks rather than the development done in the naxal-affected areas.
  • Absence of strong technical intelligence: There is poor technical intelligence when it comes to tackling naxalism. Infrastructural problems, for instance, some villages are not yet connected properly with any communication network are there which hinders action against naxalites.

 STATE POLICE ROLE IS THE IMPORTANT KEY :

  • Many have argued that Maoism has been defeated only in states where the state police have taken the lead.
  • The obliteration of Maoist violence in Andhra Pradesh – the nursery of Maoism in the country—is largely attributed to the state’s Greyhounds.
  • In Maharashtra, where Maoists held sway over several districts, they have now been confined to border areas of Gadchiroli thanks to local police and the C60 force.
  • West Bengal achieved normalcy through an ingenious strategy adopted by the state police. The Jharkhand Jaguars have gained an upper hand in the past few years, and
  • Odisha has confined Maoist activity largely to Malkangiri thanks to broad administrative interventions in Koraput.

 THE CHATTISGARH CHALLENGE :

  • Trouble in Chhattisgarh started after Maoists began to be smoked out of Andhra Pradesh in the early 2000s. It was also the time when the Maoist movement went through a transformation of being a struggle against a class enemy (landlords) to a tribal movement against the state.
  • It was also a different kind of challenge since Maoists had made strongholds in areas that had not even been mapped, let alone be administered.
  • Between 2018 and 2020, Chhattisgarh has accounted for 45% of all incidents in the country and 70% of security personnel deaths in such incidents.
  • The Chhattisgarh police too have raised a special counter-Maoist force, called District Reserve Guards (DRG). It is, however, relatively new and constituted differently than the Greyhounds. It has tribal recruits from Bastar and employs surrendered Maoists too. It has its advantages vis-à-vis local knowledge and intelligence gathering. They are trained well too. But they lack the sharp combat capabilities of the Greyhounds.

 FACTORS AFFECTING which decisively affect the nature or outcome of left-wing extremism in Eastern part comprising of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal are :

  • Some sections, especially the youth, of the society have a false idea or belief about the Maoist ideology whose central theme is violence.
  • This doctrine acknowledges violence to be the primary means to overpower the existing socio-economic and political-institutional frameworks.
  • Through killings and coercion, they try to interrupt or halt governance processes and the delivery systems; and put the blame for slow convergence and development on the government.
  • Displacement of tribals, corporate exploitation, human rights violations by security forces and others are some issues, they often take up to justify their acts.
  • The Front Organisations are mostly organized and directed by well-read intellectuals having a strong belief in the Maoist insurgency doctrine.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Though the number of incidents of LWE violence has come down in the recent past, continued efforts and focus are needed in eliminating such groups.
  • Innovative measures are required to be employed in preventing IED (Improvised Explosive Device) related incidents which have caused significant casualties in recent years.
  • States play a vital role in maintaining law and order. So, emphasis should be laid on the capacity-building and modernization of the local police forces. Local forces can efficiently and effectively neutralize the LWE organizations.
  • States should rationalize their surrender policy in order to bring innocent individuals caught in the trap of LWE in the mainstream.
  • States also need to adopt a focused time-bound approach to completely eliminate LWE groups and ensure all-round development of the affected regions.
  • For the holistic last-mile development of “New India”, it is necessary to get rid of the menace of such radicalized groups, & the synergized efforts of the Centre and the States are crucial in achieving the same.
  • The strategy to be adopted by them to counter the threat is to deal with left-wing extremism in a holistic manner where there has to be a quite precise modus operandi dedicated to accomplishing objectives, in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities, improvement in governance and public perception management.
  • The planning with the state governments concerned is imperative to develop region-specific action plans to prevent existing extremism and avert its spread in any form.
  • This calls for broad-based political support and local ownership, neutralizing the specific challenges and circumstances in the particular context, and following procedural and institutional principles that could guide a step-by-step process to achieve development goals doing away with any kind of one-size-fits-all model, and to diminish the effects of inequality and imbalance, besides, enhancing the capacity of the state governments to maintain law and order, and tackle the Maoist menace in an intensive manner.

 CONCLUSION :

  • While a military response and recriminations will inevitably follow the ambush, the civil society plea must not be ignored if a long lasting solution to the conflict is to be achieved.

 

QUESTION : Examine the relevance of agricultural policy in India and problems related to productivity in Indian agriculture by giving effective ways to deal with this situation.

Editorial Topic-  PLOUGH TO PLATE , HAND HELD BY THE INDIAN STATE

 WHAT ?

  • Need to support agricultural development

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The current situation of the agricultural sector demands state support to tackle future challenges. This will ensure sustainable benefits for both – farmers and consumers.

 MORE ABOUT TO KNOW :

  • Countries across the globe are focusing on the gradual reduction of state’s role in almost every sector (including agriculture). Their objective is to bring greater economic development.
  • In India, the government’s focus is more on developing the industrial and service sector since the 2nd five-year plan of 1956. Its aim is to move excess people from agriculture into other sectors and attain better growth.
  • However, some experts still believe that state support is necessary for agricultural development.

 FACTORS INDUCING THE STATE SUPPORT :

  • Poor State of Resources: The fertility of agricultural land is declining coupled with scarce water availability.
  • Resistance to other occupation: People in agriculture don’t shut down their farming in case of rising costs. Rather they employ family labour in farm and non-farm activities. This allows them to stick to farming despite lower returns and excessive work.
  • Difficult to streamline the production: The production process can’t be strengthened by building an assembly line. It is connected to the annual climatic cycle which is volatile and makes farming difficult.
  • Size of Farmers: Around 86% of farmers are small and medium. They can’t access good storage, transportation and marketing facilities. This leads to distress sales in agriculture.
  • Price Inelastic nature: It means demand for Agri products will not witness a major change with a change in the price of Agri products.
    • For instance, a bumper crop reduces the price of Agri product as supply gets increased. This is not followed by a corresponding increase in demand that can push the price upwards. Hence, less income is generated by farmers.
  • Tackling Emergencies: State support is desirable to provide quality food grains at affordable price in case of emergencies like drought, pandemic etc.
  • Accommodating the Demographic profile: Despite the push towards urbanization, the UN estimates that around 800 million people will reside in rural areas in 2050. It requires proactive action by the state.

 SUPPORT BY STATE :

  • The state initiated the green revolution in the 1960s. It established the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Agricultural Prices Commission in 1965.

 Positives:

  • Surplus production allowed India to attain food security.
  • Farmers were incentivised to grow as they enjoy a safety cushion based on FCI’s procurement guarantee.
  • Quality grains at low prices through the PDS enhanced consumer welfare.

 Concerns :

  • Post green revolution, a decline in quantity as well quality of water is witnessed.
  • The yield from chemical-based farming is also declining.
  • The sector is mainly growing rice and wheat due to MSP (minimum assured price) availability. This is hampering crop diversification and encouraging more water usage as they are water-intensive crops.
  • Agriculture became unviable in some regions. It led to over 3 lakh farmer suicides in the last 3 decades. This is an unprecedented event for the country.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • The government should diversify the procurement basket. It should include more crops (like pulses, millets etc.) and more regions.
    • It can procure 25% of the actual production of the commodity for that particular season. This was proposed under the 2018 Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) scheme.
  • Further the procurement process should respect the regional agroecology. Eg – don’t procure water-intensive crops from water-stressed regions.
  • The locally procured crops must be linked to Anganwadi and mid-meal centres. This will give a good market to farmers and improve nutrition of children.
  • The government should do greater investment in specific infrastructure for pulses, millets, etc. crops that are low-priced and provide better nutrition.
  • The network of Mandis should be expanded. This will protect farmers from exploitation of large retailers.

 CONCLUSION : 

  • Agriculture can only be reformed by radically enhanced state capacities and qualitatively better regulatory oversight, rather than by opening up spaces for more predatory action by those al- ready entrenched in positions of overwhelming power in the economy.

 

QUESTION : How will economic nationalism take a lead in the post-COVID-19 Asia? Discuss in context to the rising tensions among the powerful nations .

 Editorial Topic- A MULTIPOLARITY, SCRIPTED BY THE MIDDLE POWERS

 WHAT ?

  • Cold war like situation among powerful nations

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Japan, Iran, Turkey and India are well set to shape the emerging world order

 IT SEEMS A NEW COLD WAR AMONG POWERFUL NATIONS :

  • In respect of three crucial relationships, namely China, Russia and Iran, Mr. Biden is following in the footsteps of his predecessor.
  • Biden has also extended his firm backing for the “Indo-Pacific” and the associated alignment — the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad for short.
  • The U.S. continues to view China as its principal adversary on the world stage and that it will use the Quad to challenge China in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The U.S.’s hostility for Russia goes back to the latter’s war with Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea in 2014, followed by allegations of Russian cyber-interference in the U.S. presidential elections of 2016.
  • S. animosity has encouraged China and Russia to solidify their relations.
  • The two countries have agreed to harmonise their visions under the Eurasian Economic Union sponsored by Russia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • This idea has now been subsumed under the ‘Greater Eurasian Partnership’ to which both are committed.
  • Thus, the new Cold War is now being reflected in a new geopolitical binary — the Indo-Pacific versus Eurasia.

 IN THIS WAY , MIDDLE POWERS CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE :

  • Four nations, Japan, Iran, Turkey and India, which, as “middle powers”, have the capacity to project power regionally, build alliances, and support (or disrupt) the strategies
  • But all four seems to be already aligned.
  • Japan and India are part of the Quad and have substantial security ties with the U.S.
  • Iran has found strategic comfort with the Sino-Russian alliance.
  • Turkey, a NATO member, has found its interests better-served by Russia and China rather than the U.S. and its European allies.
  • So, why the uncertainty? The main reason is that, despite the allure, the four nations are not yet prepared to join immutable alliances.

 IMPORTANT REASONS WHY ARE THE MIDDLE POWERS RELUCTANT TO JOIN ALLIANCES ?

 1) India’s China concerns

  • India has been expanding defence ties with the U.S. since 2016, by massive defence purchases and agreements on inter-operability and intelligence-sharing and frequent military exercises, as also the elevation of the Quad to ministerial level.
  • This might have signalled to China that India was now irreversibly in the U.S. camp.
  • But China has a point: while the Quad has made India a valuable partner for the U.S. in the west Pacific, neither the U.S. nor the Quad can address the challenges it faces at its 3,500-kilometre land border with China.
  • Moreover, the U.S.’s intrusive approach on human rights issues ensures that India will need to manage its ties with China largely through its own efforts while retaining Russia as its defence partner.

 2) Sino-Japan relations

  • Japan has an ongoing territorial dispute with China relating to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
  • But there is more to Sino-Japanese relations: in 2019, 24% of Japanese imports came from China, while 19% of its exports went to China, affirming the adage.

 3) Why Iran is reluctant

  • The crippling sanctions on Iran and the frequent threats of regime change make it a natural ally of the Sino-Russian axis.
  • However, its strategic culture eschews long-term security alignments.

 4) Why Turkey is reluctant to join

  • Turkey is steady distancing from its western partners and increasing geopolitical, military and economic alignment with Russia and China.
  • But Turkey still wishes to keep its ties with the U.S. intact and retain the freedom to make choices.
  • Its “New Asia” initiative involves the strengthening of east-west logistical and economic connectivity backed by western powers and China.

 KNOWING BASICS OF THE COLD WAR :

  • During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union fought together as allies against the Axis powers.
  • However, the relationship between the two nations was a tense one.
  • Americans had long been wary of Soviet Communism and concerned about Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s tyrannical rule of his own country.
  • For their part, the Soviets resented the Americans’ decades-long refusal to treat the USSR as a legitimate part of the international community as well as their delayed entry into World War II, which resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Russians.
  • After the war ended, these grievances ripened into an overwhelming sense of mutual distrust and enmity.

 REASONS OF COLD WAR IN THE PAST :

  • Durning the World War Allied countries (US, UK and France) and Soviet Union fought together against the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Japan, Austria). However, this wartime alliance could not workout after World War II, due to multiple factors.

 Potsdam conference

  • The Potsdam conference was held at Berlin in 1945 among US, UK and Soviet Union to discuss :
  • Immediate administration of defeated Germany.
  • Demarcation of boundary of Poland.
  • Occupation of Austria.
  • Role of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.
  • Soviet Union wanted some portion of Poland (bordering Soviet Union) to be maintained as a buffer zone. However, the USA and UK didn’t agree to this demand.
  • Also, the USA did not inform the Soviet Union about the exact nature of the atomic bomb, dropped on Japan. This created suspicion in Soviet Union about the intentions of western countries, embittering of the alliance.
  • This created suspicion in the Soviet leadership.

 Truman’s Doctrine

  • Truman Doctrine was announced on March 12, 1947,by US

 President Harry S. Truman

  • The Truman Doctrine was a US policy to stop the Soviet Union’s communist and imperialist endeavors, through various ways like providing economic aid to other countries.
    • For example, US appropriated financial aid to support the economies and militaries of Greece and Turkey.
  • Historians believe that the announcement of this doctrine marked the official declaration of the Cold War.

 Iron Curtain

  • Iron Curtain is the political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other non communist areas.
  • On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were allies of the US, UK or nominally neutral.

 CONCLUSION :

  • As the clouds of the new Cold War gathers over the world, these four nations could find salvation in “strategic autonomy” — defined by flexible partnerships, with freedom to shape alliances to suit specific interests at different times.

 

QUESTION ;  Analyse the scope of green contracts as an institutional tool for Indian corporations to define India’s sustainable growth story and define the term Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) by giving some key examples?

Editorial Topic- IMPLEMENTING THE GREEN CONTRACT

 WHAT ?

  • Green Contract

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • The increasing concerns about climate change once again point to the need for enhanced efforts towards achieving sustainable growth goals in India.

 NEED FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH :

  • As both consumers and corporations reap the benefits of large-scale manufacturing and services.
  • They must equally share the responsibilities relating to the loss of resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • They can contribute to cutting down emissions through the process of green contracting.

 GREEN CONTRACT ?

  • ‘Green contracts’ are commercial contracts which mandate that contracting parties cut down greenhouse gas emissions at different stages of delivery of goods/services, including design, manufacturing, transportation, operations and waste disposal, as applicable to the industry.
  • A ‘green tender’ defines necessary ‘green qualifications’, which can be considered when awarding the contract to a bidder.
  • These green qualifications can range from
  • using a pre-defined percentage of ‘green energy’ in service delivery to adequate on-site waste management,
  • reducing carbon emissions by a certain level over period of time, etc.
  • The ‘green obligations’ : It is this obligatory nature of green contracts which sets the tone for the parties to cut down emissions.
  • This can be achieved by contractual clauses providing for the
  • use of good quality and energy-efficient infrastructure for production of goods/services,
  • efforts in day-to-day operations such as reducing noise, air and water pollution and
  • ensuring eco-friendly means of transportation like bicycles on site,
  • establishing and maintaining a sustainable waste management system, and so on.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Meeting obligations: The govt. should provide for measurement criteria and audit of the performance of the contractor with regard to these obligations.
  • Planned Strategy: First and foremost is that results are not going to come in three to four years. Operation Flood lasted fo almost 20 years before milk value chains were put on the track of efficiency and inclusiveness.
  • Separate Regulating Bodies: There has to be a separate board to strategize and implement the OG scheme, more on the lines of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for milk, which keeps itself at arm’s length from government control.
  • Need for Market Reforms: The success of operation flood shows that there is a need for market reforms in APMC, overhauling the infrastructure of existing APMC mandis contract farming, etc.

 CONCLUSION :

  • The economic cost of executing green contracts may be greater than a normal brown contract, but global entities operating in a changing environment need to take into consideration the greater environment costs at stake.

 

QUESTION :  Discuss the need and significance of police reforms in the recent context of rise in crime in our society.

Editorial Topic-  STRENGTHENING THE PROCESS OF CHOOSING THE POLICE CHIEF 

 WHAT ?

  • Issues in Appointing State Police Heads

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Recent developments in the Mumbai Police which resulted in the removal of Param Bir Singh from the Mumbai Police Commissioner’s post focus the spotlight once again on long overdue reforms needed in the process of appointing and removing police chiefs.
  • A crucial way in which governments exercise control over the State police is through their unregulated power to decide who the chief will be which needs to be addressed on priority basis.

 MORE ABOUT THIS :

 Constitutional/Legal Provisions

  • The Police comes under the state list as per the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Political executive exercises superintendence and control over the police forces.
  • The Union government too maintains its own police forces. It maintains seven central police forces along with various organisations such as investigative agencies, research and record keeping etc. It is also responsible for policing the Union Territories.
  • Generally, state police forces consist of two arms namely civil and armed police.
  • The civil police focus on day-to-day law and order issues along with controlling crime.
  • The armed police force provides support during violent events such as riots.

 Dual System

  • At the state level, the state government maintains control and superintendence over the state police forces.
  • At the district level, the District Magistrate also gives directions to the Superintendent of Police and supervise police administration.

 Commissionerate System

  • In some metropolitan cities and urban area, the commissionerate system is followed.
  • This facilitates quicker decision-making, help tackle complex law and order situations.

  ISSUES IN APPOINTING HEAD OF STATE POLICE FORCES :

 Independent Vetting:

  • There is no body or process which would assess the suitability of qualified candidates.
  • The government`s assessment is opaque and remains behind closed doors.

 Issues with State Security Commission (SSCs):

  • 26 States and the Union Territories have established SSCs, either through new police acts or amendments or through executive orders, not a single one adheres to the balanced composition suggested by the Supreme Court.
  • In some states the leader of the opposition is not included, while in others independent members are not included.
  • Commissions remain dominated by the political executive.

 Lack of Scrutiny:

  • No scrutiny process has been prescribed to justify removals of Police chiefs from their tenure posts.

  WAY FORWARD : 

 Have an oversight panel: 

  • As suggested by the National Police Commission (NPC), constituted in 1979, a state level oversight body to appoint and remove police chiefs.
  • This body should be made up of government officials, the Leader of the Opposition as well as independent members from civil society, the board provides the additional safeguard of civilian oversight over the appointment process.

 Ensure transparency:

  • The second element critical to police reforms is instituting an independent and transparent selection and decision-making process around appointment and removal, against objective criteria.
  • Clear and specific benchmarks need to be integrated into decision-making processes, both on appointments and removals, to prevent politically motivated adverse actions.

 Inspiration from other countries:

  • Inspiration about processes could be taken from countries such as the United Kingdom.
  • The country has adopted The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, 2011, which introduced public confirmation hearings as an additional layer of check for the appointment of the heads of their police forces.

  CONCLUSION : 

  • Such steps can help ensure fairness in administrative decisions as well as protect the political neutrality of the police. Any further delay in implementing reforms in this are a will continue to demoralise the police and cripple the rule of law.

 

QUESTION : Discuss the mandate of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and procedure of the selection of experts. What has been the impact of NGT in recent years? Examine.  

 Editorial Topic- GREEN AND RAW

 WHAT ?

  • Selection of Experts in NGT

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Centre needs to enact rules for selection of Experts in NGT Tribunals with clarity and objectivity.

 BACKGROUND :

  • The Criteria used for the appointments of NGT members are not clearly defined by the central government, giving way to litigations
  • Recently, the appointment of former IAS officer, Girija Vaidyanathan, as Expert Member in the Southern Bench of the NGT was challenged in the Madras High court.

 ABOUT NGT?

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.

 WHY TRIBUNALS ARE FORMED ?

  • The need for specialisation and expertise to decide complex cases of a technical nature. Experts appointed to these tribunals bring in special knowledge and experience.
  • Tribunalisation’ of justice will be cost-effective, accessible.

 What are the criteria for the appointment of Expert members to the tribunal?

  • As per the NGT act there are two criteria for the appointment of Expert members to the NGT tribunal. A candidate has to fulfil only one of them.
  • Based on qualifications and practical experience: a masters’ or a doctorate in science, engineering or technology, with 15 years’ experience in the relevant field, including five in environment and forests in a national level institution, is needed. The fields include pollution control, hazardous substance management and forest conservation.
  • Administrative experience in the field: This condition is not clearly defined. It merely stipulates 15 years’ experience, of which five should have been in “dealing with environmental matters” in either the Centre or the State or any reputed institution.

 Why the appointment of Girija Vaidyanathan has been challenged?

  • In Ms. Vaidyanathan’s case, she has served in Environmental related sectors for only 28 months that is less than the prescribed criteria of 5 years.

 WHAT COURT SAID :

  • The court opined that the appointment is valid considering her tenure as Health Secretary.
  • However, the court declined to interfere with the appointment, as the jurisdiction of this matter comes under the domain of Parliament.

 WAY FORWARD :

  • Government should redefine the criteria for appointments through administrative experience with clarity and objectivity.
  • Need to implement Supreme Court directions to constitute a National Tribunals Commission to supervise the appointment and functioning of tribunals.
  • Expansion of Regional Benches: NGT benches have to expand manifolds. These new regional benched should have been based in a place that has the highest forest cover or large mineral deposit.
  • System of Larger Bench in NGT: Appeal may be provided against the order of the NGT before a larger Bench of the Tribunal before the matter reaches to the Supreme Court or High Court.
  • Addressing Administrative Inadequacy: Vacancies in NGT, needs to be filled as soon as possible.
  • Collaborative Approach: There is a need for the central and state governments to work in collaboration with the NGT for balancing between environment & economy.
  • NGT should also identify institutions and experts who can help it to scientifically estimate environmental damages/compensation/fines on a case-to-case basis.

 CONCLUSION :

  • Therefore, NGT should not be seen as obstacle to development but a way to sustainable development“. Thus, the government must address all underlying issues related to NGT as soon as possible.

 

QUESTION : What factors contributed to the race to bottom on the corporate taxes among the countries and its implications?

Editorial Topic-  AN IDEA ON TAXATION IS WORTH A TRY

 WHAT ?

  • Issues Related To Corporate Tax

 WHY IN NEWS ?

  • Issue of race among countries to offer low corporate taxes to attract global financial capital and its implications.

 FACTORS CONTRIBUTED TO LOW CORPORATE TAX ?

  • When the Soviet Bloc collapsed in 1990, nations in east Europe were badly hit and needed capital infusion to overcome their economic woes.
  • To attract global capital, they cut their tax rates sharply. This resulted in a ‘race to the bottom’.
  • Global financial capital which is highly mobile has effectively used tax havens and shell companies to shift profits and capital across the globe.
  • This mobility has enabled it to extract concessions from countries by making them compete with each other to match the concessions given by another — that is the ‘race to the bottom’.
  • Nations in Europe were forced to cut their tax rates one after the other to not only attract capital but also to prevent capital from leaving their shores.
  • Also, any country facing economic adversity can cut its tax rates to attract capital and force others to follow suit.
  • India has also cut its tax rates since the 1990s.
  • Most recently in 2019 the corporation tax rate was cut drastically to match those prevailing in Southeast Asia.

 IMPLICATIONS OF LOWER CORPORATE TAX RATE  :

  • The race to the bottom had global implications.
  • Nations became short of resources and cut back expenditures on public services and encouraged privatisation.
  • The developing countries followed suit even though private markets do not cater to the poor.Thus, disparities increased within nations.

 (1) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting

  • The world experienced Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS).
  • Namely, companies shifted their profits to low tax jurisdictions, especially, the tax havens.
  • For instance, many of the most profitable companies like Google and Facebook are accused of shifting their profits to Ireland and other tax havens and paying little tax.
  • EU has levied fines on Google and Apple for such practices.
  • Since all the OECD countries have suffered due to cuts in tax rates and BEPS, initiatives have been taken to check these practices.
  • But they will not succeed unless there is agreement among all the countries.

 (2) Regressive tax structure

  • Another implication of the reductions in direct tax rates has been that governments have increasingly depended on the regressive indirect taxes for revenue generation.
  • Value-Added Tax and Goods and Services Tax have been increasingly used to get more revenues.
  • This impacts the less well-off proportionately more and is inflationary.
  • Direct taxes tend to lower the post-tax income inequality.
  • The rising inequalities result in shortage of demand in the economy and to its slowing down which then requires more investment and that calls for more concessions to capital.

 CALL FOR GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX RATE :

  • It is against this backdrop that United States Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen’s has proposed a global minimum tax rate.
  • But, without global coordination, corporation tax rates cannot be raised.
  • The U.S. is crucial to this coordination.
  • There will also have to be cooperation among countries to tackle the lure of the tax havens by enacting suitable global policies.

CORPORATE TAX :

  • Corporation Tax or Corporate Tax is a direct tax levied on the net income or profit of a corporate entity from their business, foreign or domestic.
  • The rate at which the tax is imposed as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is known as the Corporate Tax Rate.
  • The Corporate Tax rate is based on a slab rate system depending on the type of corporate entity and different revenues earned by each of corporate entities.

 MINIMUM ALTERNATE TAX :

  • At times it may happen that a taxpayer, being a company, may have generated income during the year, but by taking the advantage of various provisions of Income-tax Law (like exemptions, deductions, depreciation, etc.), it may have reduced its tax liability or may not have paid any tax at all.
  • Due to an increase in the number of zero tax paying companies, Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) was introduced by the Finance Act, 1987 with effect from assessment year 1988-89. Later on, it was withdrawn by the Finance Act, 1990 and then reintroduced by Finance Act, 1996.
  • MAT is calculated at 15% on the book profit (the profit shown in the profit and loss account) or at the usual corporate rates, and whichever is higher is payable as tax.
  • All companies in India, whether domestic or foreign, fall under this provision. MAT was later extended to cover non-corporate entities as well.
  • MAT is an important tool with which tax avoidance can be prevented.

 DOMESTIC COMPANY :

  • Domestic company is one which is registered under the Companies Act of India (2013) and also includes the company registered in the foreign countries having control and management wholly situated in India.
  • A domestic company includes private as well as public companies.

 FOREIGN COMPANY :

  • Foreign company is one which is not registered under the Companies Act of India and has control & management located outside India.

 TAX HEAVEN :

  • A tax haven is generally an offshore country that offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a politically and economically static environment.

 CONCLUSION :

 The impact of all this will be far-reaching impacting inequalities, provision of public services and reduction of flight of capital from developing countries such as India and that will impact poverty.

 

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