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9 PM for Main examination
- Impact of Covid-19 on Women
- A case for Presidential system
- Doctrine of Separation of power
- The big fight
- Re-engineering BOT Model
- Why is integrating with global value chains crucial for India?
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.Impact of Covid-19 on Women
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-1 Role of women and women’s organisations, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanisation, their problems and remedies.
Context: Women have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 pandemic
Impact of Covid-19 on women:
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence cases have increased exponentially during the pandemic due to the following reasons:
- Tension and strain created by security, health, and financial worries
- Confinement and lack of access to alcohol leading to interpersonal violence and abuse.
- Domestic labour becomes taxing during a lockdown if not distributed equally.
- Lack of institutional support, inability to complain during lockdown.
Increase in burden of work: With pandemic induced lockdown, family members are constantly at home and children are being educated online. This has increased the number of hours of unpaid work and enhanced the burden on women.
Sexual Harassment: There are concerns around abduction, wrongful confinement, molestation and harassment even in homes.
Shrinking Livelihood Opportunities: There has been a disproportionate economic exclusion of women both in rural and urban areas. The covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the declining female participation in the labour force and many women might not be able to get back to work again.
Impact on Health: grass roots health workers such as anganwadi and ASHA workers who provide reproductive and maternal services to millions of poor women are overburdened. As a result, women have poor access to family planning services, to institutional support for deliveries, natal and neonatal support or adequate access to hygiene and sanitary items.
Conclusion: The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 seeks to “eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the public and private spheres, and to undertake reforms to give them the same rights to economic resources and access to property by 2030”. India needs to address the issue of domestic violence, economic exclusion, and health issues of women t fulfil its commitment towards gender equity.
2.A case for Presidential system
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2- Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Context: Analysing the need to change the parliamentary system in the backdrop of disgraceful political situations in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- The horse-trading of MLAs has led to switch of allegiances for power.
- Pluralist democracy is India’s greatest strength but its current manner of operation is the source of our major weaknesses.
- Issues of parliamentary system:
- Unqualified legislators: The system has created them who sought election only in order to wield executive power.
- Dependence on legislative majority: They are obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance.
- Distorted voting preference of an electorate: They know which individuals it wants to vote but not necessarily which parties.
- Shifting alliances: The system led to changing sides by selfish individual interests and not guided by vehicles of coherent sets of ideas.
- Focus to remain in power: It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing and obliged them to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions.
- The parliamentary system devised in Britain:
- Which is a small island nation with electorates of less than a lakh voters per constituency and is based on traditions which simply do not exist in India.
- Absence of a real party system: In India a party is all-too-often a label of convenience which a politician adopts and changes easily.
- The voter chooses not between parties but between individuals usually on the basis of their caste, their public image or other personal qualities.
Reason for entering Parliament is to attain governmental office creates specific problems:
- Limits executive posts to those who are electable than to those who are able:
- The PM cannot appoint a cabinet of his choice and he has to cater to the wishes of the political leaders of several parties.
- Talent pool has not been widened: Though he can bring some members in through the Rajya Sabhabut our upper house too has been largely the preserve of full-time politicians.
- It puts a premium on defections and horse-trading:
- The anti-defection Act of 1985 has failed to cure the problem.
- The bargaining has shifted to getting enough MLAs to resign to topple a government and promising them offices when they win the subsequent by-elections.
- Legislation suffers:
- Most laws are drafted by the executive, in practice by the bureaucracy, and parliamentary input into their formulation and passage is minimal.
- Many bills are passed after barely a few minutes of debate.
- MPs blindly vote as their party demands: The ruling party inevitably issues a whip to its members in order to ensure smooth passage of a bill and since defiance of a whip itself attracts disqualification.
- Accountability of the government to the people through their elected representatives is weakened.
- Parliament or Assembly serves as a theatre for the demonstration of their power to disrupt:
- In India’s Parliament, many opposition members feel that the best way to show the strength of their feelings is to disrupt law-making rather than debate the law.
What our present system has not done?
- To ensure effective performance: India’s many challenges require political arrangements that permit decisive action whereas ours increasingly promotes drift and indecision.
- Government stability: By holding the executive hostage to the agendas of a few legislators.
The case for a presidential system has never been clearer.
Case for Presidential system:
- Stability of tenure:A directly elected chief executive in New Delhi and in each state instead of being vulnerable to the shifting coalition support politics.
- Cabinet of talent: The executive would have stability of tenure free and be able to devote his or her energies to governance and not just to government.
- Will represent majority of Indians and not of MPs: The Indian voter will be able to vote directly for the individual he or she wants to be ruled.
- Judging performance: At the end of a fixed period of time, the public would be able to judge the individual rather than on political skill at keeping a government in office.
Issue to Presidential system: Risk of dictatorship: It conjures up the image of an imperious president who is immune to parliamentary defeat and impervious to public opinion.
- Democracy is an end in itself:With the needs and challenges of one-sixth of humanity before our leaders, we must have a democracy that delivers progress to our people.
- Changing to a presidential system is the best way of ensuring a democracy that works.
3.Doctrine of Separation of power
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
Context – Former Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s rebellion against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, has crash-landed in the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court of India.
It has generally been a “hands-off” position as far as the courts interfering in the workings of legislative assemblies or Parliament is concerned. The sole exception is under the anti-defection law — after a final order of disqualification has been passed.
Kihoto Hollohan’s case
- Speaker’s decision is under judicial review– A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Kihoto Hollohan’s case in 1992 held that the Speaker acting in a disqualification matter acts as a tribunal and is subject to judicial review.
- Non-interference by courts– The judgment makes it clear that the Court will not intervene at an interim stage.
- Importance of speaker– The same judgment holds that The Speakers/Chairmen hold a pivotal position in the scheme of Parliamentary democracy and are guardians of the rights and privileges of the House. They are expected to and do take far reaching decisions in a Parliamentary democracy.
Issues with Sachin Pilot Case
- Court intervened at an interim stage– A mere issuance of a possible disqualification notice by the Speaker, has been contested in the constitutional courts, which have not rejected the challenge at the threshold.
- Court gave interim judgment– The Rajasthan High Court reserved its judgment, requested the Speaker to defer further proceedings and proceeded to direct him to await judgment.
Way forward – Constitutional Courts are apolitical but keep getting pulled into political matters, especially in matters of mass defections resulting in regime change. They must therefore not turn of themselves into a third house of Parliament or legislature. The walls of separation between constitutional organs, once breached, cannot be then repaired against future intrusions. Even under a sovereign Constitution, parliamentary and legislative supremacy in their spheres of functioning should be respected.
4.The big fight
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Context: China has retaliated swiftly against US’s decision earlier to close down the Chinese consulate in Houston by ordering the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu in China.
- China had rejected the Trump Administration’s charge that its Houston consulate was engaged in espionage and theft of industrial secrets.
- Downgrading diplomatic ties: This is the first time since the US and China normalizedrelations in 1979.
- Escalation of tensions: By closure of consulates in Houston and Chengdu between the world’s two most important powers and is bound to affect all major actors in the international system.
Relations between China and US:
- Trade war:
- It had begun two years ago with both sides imposing punitive tariffs on imports from each other.
- Continuing negotiations on resolving the dispute:
- The two sides had announced a phase one of the trade deal earlier this year.
- Rapid expansion of the scope and intensity of the conflict:
- By US:
- The Trump Administration charged China with spreading the COVID-19 virus that has infected more than four million Americans and killed nearly 1,50,000.
- Now the Trump Administration accused Chinese hackers of trying to steal US research on anti-COVID vaccines.
- The US stepped up its global campaign against China’s telecom giant Huawei and pressed its allies and partners to reject its technology in rolling out the 5G mobile networks.
- By China:
- Beijing retaliated by alleging that the Trump Administration was blaming China for its own failures in dealing with the pandemic.
- It also floated the theory that the US Army might have been the original source of the deadly virus.
Their conflict enveloping other countries:
- The US Secretary of State rejected Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed waters of the South China Sea as unlawful.
- Sharpened the US tone on Chinese expansionism across Asia: The US has put itself squarely on the Indian side in the unfolding military conflict between Delhi and Beijing in eastern Ladakh.
- Deep concernsin India: Due to the muscular approach of the Trump Administration’s to Beijing about being drawn into the escalating US-China conflict.
- Official response of India: It has been more than careful in its responses to the new US-China dynamic.
Even as India-China tensions on LAC continue, Delhi must also calibrate response to new edge of US-China dynamic.
5.Re-engineering BOT Model
Source – The Hindu Businessline
Syllabus – GS 3 – Investment models
Context – Currently, the economic downturn, the Covid pandemic and stretched balance sheets of companies make BOT the least preferred option.
Focusing on Road Infrastructure
Reasons for inviting bids under Build –Operate-Transfer model
Among the PPP road construction models, the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model lays the least financial burden on the Centre, and therefore the focus is now on attracting bids for these projects.
Challenge in Build –Operate-Transfer model
- Initial cost– Companies have to bear entire cost upfront.
- Absence of significant competition-Fewer orders from government decreases the competition which in turn reduces the incentive for reducing cost and increasing revenue.
- Less revenue– Decline in traffic due to economic slowdown and pandemic induced lockdown.
- Non-performing assets– Banks have been wary of lending to road construction players for some time now, due to the higher re-payment risk.
- Preference to other models– Companies instead prefer the Hybrid Annuity Model, wherein the NHAI bears 40 per cent of the initial construction cost; or the Engineering, Procurement and Construction model, where the NHAI bears the entire cost upfront.
Steps taken by government
- Assessment of revenue– The most important step is to assess the revenue of the project every five years, instead of 10 years prescribed currently, so that the concession period can be adjusted if there is a significant decline in traffic.
- Land acquisition– With many projects held up due to issues relating to land acquisition, the model agreement now lays down that the work order shall be issued only after procuring 90 per cent of the land.
- Dispute –resolution-Setting up a dispute resolution mechanism and requiring the appointment of an independent engineer are other changes made to the agreement.
Way Forward – The Centre need to make other long-term financing options available to companies before making them take on more debt which involves reviving bond market and incentivizing mutual funds to invest in this sector.
6.Why is integrating with global value chains crucial for India?
Source: Financial Express
Syllabus: GS 3-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: The pandemic has triggered a debate as to whether the global value chains (GVCs) may lead to increased fragility of economies actively participating in them.
- GVC:They are production networks that seek to exploit gains from hyper-specialization across countries.
- Experiences during the ongoing pandemic: Major demand- and supply-side shocks to value chains and lack of redundancy planning in such networks.
- Over the last decade: The system of international production has been grappling with challenges arising from:
- Industry 4.0.
- Growing economic nationalism.
- Sustainability concerns.
- The ongoing pandemic has fuelledcalls for further de-globalization of such production networks to reduce industry- and economy-level vulnerabilities.
The graphic shows:
- It is clear that between 2005 and 2015, there has been a steady decline in GVC intensity across all major economies.
- For India, GVC participation peaked at 41.6% in 2008, but has dropped ever since, hitting a low of around 34% in 2015.
The stagnation of GVC trade since the global financial crisis and the unfavorable impact of the ongoing pandemic on GVCs notwithstanding.
There are substantial merits of widening and deepening links to GVCs:
- GVCs can help reduce poverty and continue to augment growth and employment:
- As suggested by the World Bank’s World Development Report 2020 (WDR 20) contingent upon deeper reforms in developing countries and policy continuity in industrial economies.
- Cross-country estimates suggest that a 1% increase in GVC participation can boost per-capita income by more than 1% particularly when countries engage in limited and advanced manufacturing.
- GVC participation can precipitate significant firm-level productivity improvements:
- WDR 20 suggests that GVC firms engaged in manufacturing activities show higher labourproductivity than one-way traders or non-traders after controlling for firm-level capital intensity.
- In particular, firms that engage in both import and export are 76% more productive than non-trading firms as compared with a 42% difference for export-only firms and a 20% difference for import-only firms.
- Backward participation in GVCs can be particularly beneficial for economies:
- A 10% increase in the level of GVC participation could increase average productivity by close to 1.6%.
- As the accompanying graphic shows while China has seen a rise in its forward GVC participation and a corresponding drop in the backward participation, the trend has been just the opposite for India.
- India’s share of foreign value-added content in total GVC trade has steadily increased from 53% in 2005 to 61% in 2014.
- It can capture much of the value addition at the midstream stages: If India can seize FDI looking to relocate from China and create conditions for firms to leverage the labour-cost arbitrage opportunities.
- Deeper reforms: Reforms are needed in labourmarkets, trade infrastructure and improvements in the overall business environment.
- Policies directed towards facilitating vertical GVC linkages between domestic SMEs and larger foreign and domestic firms can go a long way towards strengthening India’s relative position in GVC trade.
- Localizedregimes are more vulnerable to shocks:
- As shown by the OECD METRO Model localizedare less reliant on foreign suppliers.
- It results in a significantly lower level of economic activity and fall in national incomes as compared to the interconnected regimes.
- While interconnected regimes build resilience, stability and flexibility in the production networks, localizedregimes offer fewer channels for adjustment to shocks.
- Estimates for India suggest that a shift towards a localizedregime can decrease real GDP by 1.1%, and reduce import and export demand by 11.4% and 14.8%, respectively.
- Recent policy pronouncement for an AtmanirbharBharat may be antithetical to the spirit of efficiency-seeking economic interdependence typified by GVCs in the long-term.
In the aftermath of the pandemic:
- Regional value chains (RVCs) are expected to gain momentum to strike a balance between localizationand globalization.
- However, if the recent RCEP experience is any indication, facilitating RVCs is difficult and requires intense regional coordination, geopolitical stability and conducive systemic conditions.
- India may need to reassess its regionalizationstrategy: To take advantage of the accelerated momentum towards RVCs. If India intends to strike a balance between managing vulnerabilities in GVCs (similar to those arising from the pandemic) and building resilience.
- Long-term gains from globally connected value chains can far outweigh the benefits from RVCs.
- Instead of a piecemeal approach, India needs to adopt a holistic perspective focused on the ‘whole of the supply chain’, by driving strategic changes in its investment-development paradigm, and through greater integration into the GVCs.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
Click on “Factly articles for 25th July 2020”