9 PM Daily Brief – July 20th,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

  1. Make the right call on ‘Malabar’ going Quad
  2. Why a separate anti-torture law?

GS-3

  1. Agricultural-Inputs – Privatization is the key
  2. What India can learn from Korea’s economic boom?
  3. PDS Reforms – Ensuring Right to Food security

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Make the right call on ‘Malabar’ going Quad

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Analyzing the speculation that India could soon invite Australia to join the Malabar naval exercises to be held later this year.

Background:

  • Reports: A key meeting of India’s Ministry of Defense discussed the issue of adding Australia to the trilateral Malabar naval exercise with Japan and the United States in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Quad participation: If Australia participates, it will make it the first time since 2007 that all members of Quad will participate in a joint military drill aimed ostensibly at China.

Quad: The grouping of four democracies –India, Australia, US and Japan– known as the quadrilateral security dialogue or quad, was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.

Points of conflict:

  • Opposition by China for this coalition in the Indo-Pacific region:
    • Containing China rise: The Chinese leadership sees the maritime Quadrilateral as an Asian-NATO.
    • Move directed against China: Due to current strained bilateral ties of India with China. It will have harsh consequences by putting more pressure on China and moving to expand its sphere of influence into the entire Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
  • Overdue movement by India:
    • To shed its traditional defensiveness:In the maritime domain following the stand-off in Ladakh.
    • Realist view: This alliance will be used to counter Chinese moves in the Indian Ocean.
  • Need of caution by India:
    • Sending contrary signals to China: Invitation to Australia to participate in the Malabar exercise at a time when India and China are negotiating a truce on the border in Eastern Ladakh.
    • Needlessly open a new front: If China responded churlishly through aggressive posturing in the Eastern Indian Ocean

The prospect of modest gains for India:

  • Strategic rationale of the military Quad:India’s priority is to acquire strategic capabilities to counter a Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.
  • Anti-submarine warfare tech in exchange for signing up the ‘military-quad’:
    • To deter Chinese submarines: The Indian Navy is yet to develop the undersea capability to deter Chinese submarines in the eastern Indian Ocean.
    • To improve Indian Navy’s deterrence potential: Cooperation with the U.S. and Japan without attendant benefits of strategic technology transfers will not improve it in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • In operational terms:It might be premature for Delhi to initiate multilateral engagement with Quad partners.
    • To be used to draw India into the security dynamics of the Asia-Pacific: As the strategic contest between the U.S. and China in East Asia and Southeast Asia are growing up.
    • Expectation by the US to assist the US Navy in the South China Sea: By its Indo-Pacific partners including India as China has stepped up its naval presence.
    • The U.S. and Japanese navies have little spare capacity for sustained surveillance and deterrence operations in the IOR. Australia is the only one ready and able to partner India in securing the Eastern Indian Ocean.

The China has been cautious so far in the ocean region.

Cautious approach by China:

  • Question of timing:
    • A balancing coalition must come together when the nature and magnitude of the threat is wholly manifest.
    • Challenge by China:
      • Despite a growing presence in the Indian Ocean, the PLAN is yet to physically threaten Indian interests at sea.
      • Not challenged Indian sovereignty: Chinese warships in its territorial waters or ventured close to Indian islands with malign intent.
    • Avoided entanglement with Indian naval ships:
      • In the subcontinental littorals, Chinese Navy has limited its ventures to friendly countries in the region, many of which are happy to benefit from Beijing’s economic and military power.
      • Cautious approach by Chinese maritime agencies: Chinese research and intelligence ships have ensured that operations do not cross the threshold of conflict with India.

Need for careful thought and Way Forward:

  • For India, naval coalition building alone will not credibly deter Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean.
  • Upgrading the trilateral Malabar to a quadrilateral: This without acquiring the requisite combat and deterrence capability could yield gains for India in the short term but would prove ineffective in the long run.
  • New Delhi should not sign up to quadrilateral engagement without a cost-benefit exercise and commensurate gains in the strategic-operational realm. What might appear politically sensible could be operationally imprudent.

2.Why a separate anti-torture law?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2 Human Rights

Context: The alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

Existing Law against Torture:

  • Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.
  • Definition of ‘hurt’ includes psychic torture, environmental coercion, tiring interrogative prolixity, and overbearing and intimidatory methods, among others. However, it does not include mental torture.
  • Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a judicial magistrate inquires into every custodial death.
  • The National Human Rights Commission has laid down specific guidelines for conducting autopsy under the eyes of the camera.

Important Supreme Court Judgements:

  • The Supreme Court judgment in DK Basu v. State of West Bengal was a turning point in the evolving jurisprudence on custodial torture. The Court laid down certain basic “requirements” to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention till legal provisions are made in that behalf as a measure to prevent custodial violence.
  • The SC in Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa made sure that the state could no longer escape liability in public law and had to be compelled to pay compensation.
  • The Court has held in many cases that policemen found guilty of custodial death should be given the death penalty.

Draft Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017: The Bill seeks to provide for punishment for torture committed by government officials. It provided death penalty for custodial deaths. The bill has been criticised on many grounds such as:

  • It is very harsh for the police to discharge its responsibilities without fear of prosecution and persecution.
  • It was inconsistent with the existing provisions of law.
  • It included ‘severe or prolonged pain or suffering’ as a form of torture but that was not defined.
· The 273rd Report of the Law Commission recommended ratification of the U.N. Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (CAT).

· CAT aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world

Way Forward:

  • The prevalent law in India is adequate and well in tune with the provisions of CAT. Thus, it is important to properly implement existing laws to deal with police torture and custodial deaths
  • The investigations, the prosecutions are not fair and these must be rectified at first.
  • The temptation to use third-degree methods must be replaced with scientific skills.
  • Implement recommendations of various commissions to bring in necessary reforms.

3.Agricultural-Inputs – Privatization is the key

Source Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Effects of liberalization and other reforms on the economy

Context – In agriculture-inputs, government should free private sector from unnecessary controls and regulation for market-led growth.

  1. Seeds– Today, India exports seeds to its neighboring countries. Even during the lockdown period, hybrid rice seeds were exported through special trains to Bangladesh by the private sector.

Actions against Private companies – The continuous battle of government against large seed companies, especially multinationals and their Indian joint ventures, on issues such as trait fees has prevented companies from introducing new generation of seeds and “illegal” spread of Bt HT cotton in Maharashtra.

Suggested solution – Privatization of seed production – Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken a bold decision to allow Bt cotton in India in March 2002. That decision made India the largest producer of cotton in the world and the second largest exporter of cotton by 2013-14.

  1.  Fertilizer – In 2019-20, India imported fertilizers worth $6.7 billion. Topping the list is urea ($2.9 billion), followed by diammonium phosphate (DAP, $2 billion) and muriate of potash (MOP, $1.14 billion). We are totally dependent on imports in case of MOP and in case of DAP, we import the rock and the finished product.

Favoring public sector companies– The cost of many of new urea plants in the public sector is going to be more than $400/tonne when the international price generally hovers between $250-300/tons.

Suggested solution – Allowing the private sector plants to compete and expand urea production in a cost competitive manner. This is in addition to, depositing equivalent cash directly into farmers’ accounts, calculated on a per hectare basis, and freeing up fertilizer prices.

  1. Farm machinery– In 1961-62, before the Green Revolution, India produced only 880 tractor units, which increased to about 9,00,000 units in 2018-19, making the country the largest tractor manufacturer as well as largest exporter in the south-Asian region.

Issues for small farmers– In an economy of small landholders, owning a tractor is a high cost proposition as it is not fully utilized. This needs to be made more efficient by creating a market for tractor services.

Suggested solution – The new class of entrepreneurs and start-ups are coming up with special apps for “Uberisation of tractor services” so that farmers can avail of these services at low cost, without owning a tractor.

Way Forward – The private sector is India’s strength which has been proved with 1991 reforms of privatization, liberalization and globalization and the consequences of same. The only thing the government has to do is to unshackle them from the chains of controls and webs of unnecessary regulations. They will make an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

4.What India can learn from Korea’s economic boom?

Source: Live Mint

Syllabus: GS 3-Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

Context: Analyzing what has happened from 1961 when the per capita income (PCI) of India and South Korea was similar to 2019 when the difference has increased many folds in South Korea’s favor.

Background: In the early 1950s, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, and India had comparable PCI.

PCI India South Korea
1961 · $85.4 · $93.8
2019 · $2,104.1 · $31,762

What has happened between the 1950s to now for South Korea?

  • Switched to Outward oriented policies in early mid 1960s:
    • It resulted in wholesale economic transformation.
    • Export oriented policies ensured that South Korea grew at 8.97% per year between 1960-2000 with the GDP (in constant 2010 US dollars) jumping from $23.3 billion to $724.6 billion.
  • Labour-intensive exports:
    • Fast growth: By 1972 it accounted for 72.5% of Korea’s goods exports.
    • Labour-intensive exports: Plywood, woven cotton fabrics, clothing, footwear and wigs. Then in the later years it only intensified with new unexpected items such as wigs and human hair.
    • People moving from agriculture towards the manufacturing sector: Due to expansion of labour-intensive exports which led to the creation of jobs.
    • This led to income levels rising and that created a demand for services. In the process, a large part of the economy was rapidly urbanized.
  • Other steps by Korea for fast growth:
    • The labour markets were flexible.
    • Policy changes weren’t random.
    • Education was given the highest priority.
    • An important reform in 1965 raised deposit interest rates to encourage savings. This change plus rising incomes contributed to increased savings.
    • The higher savings were channelized to build more industry and raise incomes.

India lagged behind South Korea in the same period.

Where did India go wrong vis-à-vis Korea?

  • Until 1991, India had an inward-looking import substitution policy.
  • Even after opening up, India hasn’t been able to get labour intensive exports going.
  • In the last 15 years, India’s engineering exports have been more than labour-intensive exports of leather, textiles and readymade garments, put together.
  • The situation changes only when we add agricultural and allied products exports to the labour intensive exports.
  • In the last two years, engineering exports have been more even after adding agricultural exports.

Lagging of India’s export growth and Way Forward

  • Major reason: Indian firms in manufacturing are small. As the Economic Survey of 2019-20 points out that Most firms face a complex architecture of the Indian governance framework.
  • Time consuming task: Manufacturing units have to conform with 6,796 compliance items. Though, every unit does not have to conform to every item but this is a long list.
  • This is an urgent need of economic reforms with focus on labour intensive exports.

5.PDS Reforms – Ensuring Right to Food security

Source Financial Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security

Context – A World Bank study states two-thirds of India’s current workforce was stunted in childhood, resulting in reduction in GDP per capita income of 13%.

Challenges associated with PDS:

  1. Rising Food subsidy– It comprises of consumer subsidy and the cost of maintenance of buffer reserve.
  • Consumer subsidy =Economic cost – Central issue price (CIP).
  • Economic cost comprises of two elements:

(a) cost of procurement, i.e. minimum support price (70%), and

(b) FCI’s cost of procurement incidentals & operations involving handling/storage/transportation (30%).

  • The government makes grains available to states at CIP. States fix retail price to be charged at fair price shops.
  • Reasons for ever-increasing food subsidy are rising economic costs (increase in MSP), accumulation of large stocks, increase in quantum of offtake, and unchanged CIP.
  1. Leakages– They are food grains not reaching the intended beneficiaries, and are primarily from ‘above the poverty line’ (APL) and ad hoc quotas. All leakages (2011-12, IHDS) are estimated to be costing nearly Rs 50,000 crore annually in today’s rates.
  2. Maintenance cost of excess buffer stocks– By June 1, FCI grain stocks were about 97 MMT, against a buffer stock requirement of 41.12 MMT. Monetizing this ‘excessive stock’ of over 50 MMT will fetch an estimated Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
  3. Interest costs ofstorage– The Centre’s food budget ignores the off-budget financing of Rs 2.54 lakh crore of food subsidy financed through borrowings by FCI from the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF). Thus, carrying excess stocks would entail an additional interest cost of Rs 8,000-10,000 crore per annum.
  4.  Post-harvest losses– They are estimated by the Indian Grain Storage Management and Research Institute (IGMRI) to account for 10% of total food grains at Rs 7,000 crore.

Policy implications of PDS Challenges

  • Absence of equitable distribution of food grain – This is leading to ‘stunting syndrome’. In ‘stunting syndrome’, linear growth retardation in early life is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, reduced physical and economic capacity, and an elevated risk of disease into adulthood.

Suggested solution

  • Weekly DBT through biometric-enabled electronic debit cards – The amount will be the difference between market rates and subsidized price of grains—adjusted for inflation—for the quantum of food grains supplied via PDS.

Pros of weekly DBT –

  1. Right to demand quality– The intended beneficiary decides what and how much food grains (nutrition) to buy to feed herself and her family from an authorized private retail shop or a PDS outlet.
  2. Prevent leakage and wastage– Providing subsidies directly to the poor would bypass middlemen, reduce waste and storing costs of grain.
  3. No misuse– As a weekly transfer, the amount would be too small to be misused.

Way Forward – It is not just the morally required equity that demands action for reforming PDS. It is in our ‘enlightened self-interest’ to take serious policy measures, as it impacts the nation’s growth prospects.


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