9 PM Daily Brief – November 24, 2020

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GS 2

Time for an Asian Century

India- West Asia

Kerala’s new 118A law

Contribution and Criticism of Supreme Court

GS 3

One Health Approach

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Time for an Asian Century

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: The world returning to the centrality of Asian civilisations sharing prosperity, with the U.S. adjusting to a triumvirate.

What is Asian centrality?

  • ‘ASEAN centrality’ rejects the current frame of the West setting the agenda while allowing the West to adapt Asian rules and marking the end of the colonial phase of global history.

How Asian-led world order is emerging?

  • Economic integration:
    • The mega trade deal is led by ASEAN, not by China, and includes Japan and Australia, military allies of the U.S.
    • The new frame goes beyond transfer of goods and services, focuses on integration and facilitating supply chains for sharing prosperity, requiring a very different calculus for assessment.
  • Rise of China and India:
    • Both China and India are breaking the monopoly of the West in wireless telecommunications, AI and other emerging technologies.
    • India has also, in the UN, questioned Western domination calling for a “reformed multilateralism”.
    • RCEP’s new rules on electronic commerce could offset losses in declining trade in goods. ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ will leverage indigineous technological strength, data and population.
  • Declining power of west:
    • Despite its military ‘pivot’ to Asia, the U.S. needs India in the Quad, to counterbalance the spread of China’s influence through land-based trade links.
    • With the ASEAN ‘code of conduct’ in the South China Sea, both the security and prosperity pillars of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific construct will be adversely impacted.
  • The U.S. Congressional Research Service report identifies four key elements to strengthen its global governance:
    • Global leadership.
    • Defence and promotion of the liberal international order.
    • Defence and promotion of freedom, democracy, and human rights; and
    • Prevention of the emergence of regional hegemons in Eurasia.

What India needs to do?

  • Reduce dependence: India needs a new strategic doctrine and mindset.
  • Focus on technology transfer: With the Rafale aircraft purchase, India has recognised that there will be no technology transfer for capital equipment.
  • Modernisation: Military Theatre Commands should be tasked with border defence giving the offensive role to cyber, missile and special forces based on endogenous capacity, effectively linking economic and military strength.
  • Infrastructure development: The overriding priority should be infrastructure including electricity and fibre optic connectivity; self-reliance in semiconductors, electric batteries and solar panels; and skill development.
  • Counter china: Leveraging proven digital prowess to complement the infrastructure of China’s Belt and Road Initiative will win friends as countries value multi-polarity.
  • Joining RCEP: The RCEP already includes India’s priorities such as rules of origin, services and e-commerce also RCEP members have expressed their “strong will” to re-engage India, essentially to balance China.

There are compelling geopolitical and economic reasons for India in shaping the Asia-led order, which is not yet China-led, to secure an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.

India- West Asia

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visited Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

What is the significance of West Asia to India?

  • Socio economic significance: Gulf is a source of oil and a destination for labour exports. The UAE alone hosts nearly three million Indian expatriates and the Gulf as a whole hosts large labour force close to eight million.
  • New opportunities in the Gulf: The Gulf states have embarked on massive economic diversification and are investing in a variety of new projects including renewable energy, higher education, technological innovation, smart cities, and space commerce.
  • Khaleeji Capitalism: Gulf has become the source of capital that has been built on the massive accumulation of oil revenues over the last few decades. For example, sovereign wealth funds in the Gulf dominate several regional sectors from banking and finance to infrastructure and logistics etc.
  • Growing political influence: The Gulf’s financial power is increasingly translating into political influence and the ability to shape the broader regional issues in the Middle East. For example, have normalised relations with Israel, growing ability of the Gulf to influence regional conflicts from Afghanistan to Lebanon and from Libya to Somalia.
  • Reforms in Social order: For example, the UAE recently announced a series of legal changes that make the Emirates an attractive destination for foreign workers such as decriminalization of alcohol use, permission for cohabitation among unmarried couples, criminalization of honour crimes against women, and the institution of long-term visas.
  • Security in Indian ocean: The UAE currently chairs the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), friendly relation with gulf countries can bring scale and depth to its regional initiatives on connectivity and security in the Indian Ocean.

What are the roadblocks in strengthening India-West Asia ties?

  • India’s narrow bureaucratic approach towards the Gulf was incapable of a political engagement with the region’s interests. For example, India viewed gulf countries through the prism of Pakistan.
  • The Indian elite has long viewed the Gulf as a collection of extractive Petro-states run by conservative feudatories.
  • There is a wide gap between the investments that the Gulf is ready to offer and India’s ability to absorb needs. For example, in 2015, Abu Dhabi committed to invest $75 billion in India. Still, India is a long distance away from facilitating that scale of investments.
  • India provided very little attention to the significant reforms unfolding in the Gulf that seek to reduce the heavy hand of religion on social life, expand the rights of women, widen religious freedoms, promote tolerance, and develop a national identity.

How India’s perspectives on the Western Indian Ocean have changed recently?

  • From 2015, India has acknowledged the strategic significance of the Indian ocean island states such as mauritius and Seychelles. Since then, South Block has brought Madagascar and Comoros along with Mauritius and Seychelles into the Indian Ocean Division.
  • India also unveiled a maritime strategic partnership with France, a resident and influential power in the Western Indian Ocean.
  • India became an observer at the Indian Ocean Commission, the regional grouping that brings France’s island territory of Reunion together with Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
  • India has also become an observer to the Djibouti Code of Conduct — a regional framework for cooperation against piracy between the states of the Gulf, the Horn of Africa and East Africa.

With Gulf economies reinventing themselves, India now has every reason to support the Gulf rulers who are trying to reverse course and promote political and social moderation at home and in the region. India needs to discard outdated perceptions of the Gulf and seize the new strategic possibilities with the region.

Kerala’s new 118A law

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Polity – Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Context – The Kerala cabinet recommended to the Governor the promulgation of the ordinance to insert Section 118 (A) into the Act.

What is Kerala’s new 118A law?

The new Section 118A has been introduced in the Kerala Police Act, 2011.

According to the new law– The state government recommendation to amend the police act says that if the government finds any media platform including social media producing, publishing or propagating content that could threaten, insult or harm an individual

  • The amendment proposes three years in prison and a fine of up to ₹ 10,000 for those found guilty.
  • The state officials said this would give law enforcers more teeth to prosecute the guilty, media houses said the law could be used to gag them.

Why the law being criticized?

  1. Threat to free speech– It is being seen as an attempt to stifle not only dissent but also freedom of speech and expression.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court in the  Shreya Singhal case had struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act and Section 118D of the Kerala Police Act, finding both provisions unconstitutionally vague and thus violative of free speech rights. [Article 19].
  1. Vulnerable to misuse– The law is unspecific and indistinct and can be indiscriminately misused by individuals or even the government and the police.
  2. Granted the police untrammelled authority– It empower police to suo motu interpret and deal with “offensive” communication and make arrests without a warrant.
  3. Though the Kerala government claims it is to fight cyber-crimes against women, that has not found any mention in the law either.

What is the way forward?

The amendment would reverse the course of media freedom, muzzle free speech and undermine civil liberties.

  • The greatest danger of such legislation is that if the Ordinance is not withdrawn by the Kerala government, it will act as an example to other states to frame similar laws of their own.

Contribution and Criticism of Supreme Court

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries.

Context- Criticism is the hallmark of a prosperous democracy, but unfounded and unrestrained criticism is harmful rather than contributive.

Why judiciary is the strongest pillar on which the edifice of Indian democracy stands?

  1. India ranks in the top one-third of nations in efficiency of the legal framework to challenge regulations and in judicial independence.
  2. At the cost of being criticized for over-interference, the courts have strained to protect the life, liberty and the quality of life of citizens.
  3. India’s overburdened judiciary has been epitome of a free and independent judiciary worldwide.
  • On the other hand, US Supreme Court only accepts 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases it is asked to review annually. In 2016-2017, only 92 cases were heard by the UK SC.

Read also :- Current affairs

How Indian judiciary system is different from Poland, Hungary and Turkey?

  1. In Poland– The legislative proposal aimed to ban judges from obeying the orders from their own Supreme Court making them liable for prosecution.
  2. In Turkey– Thousands of Turkey’s judges and prosecutors have been sacked or jailed as Erdogan’s government wields the judiciary against its opponents.
  • They have been replaced by loyal and inexperienced newcomers, some in their 20s, plunging the courts into crisis.
  • By a new law, most of the 711 judges of the two highest courts will also be removed.
  1. In Hungary – The Hungarian parliament is planning to establish a government-influenced judiciary system, apart from the ordinary courts, to establish direct political control over the judiciary.

Therefore, such a comparison is unjustified and unfounded to the Indian scenario.

Examples of Supreme Court landmark decision-

  • SC ordered floor test within 24 hours in Maharashtra that led to the resignation of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.
  • Defending LGBTQ and transgender rights.
  • SC rules in favour of permanent commission to women officers and guaranteeing them the same terms of employment as men.
  • Upheld the supremacy of the RTI Act over the Official Secrets Act.
  • SC brought India’s most polarising case to a peaceful close through its Ayodhya judgment.

Way forward-

  • Judicial barbarism is an extremely unjust and unfair description of the conduct of the Supreme Court.
  • Constructive criticism – People should try and strengthen institutions with balanced and constructive critique and not slowly nibble at their foundation by constant badgering and berating.

One Health Approach

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: ‘One Health’ is the optimum approach to counter the impact of antimicrobial resistance.

Discuss  antimicrobial resistance.

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR): It is the resistance acquired by any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc.) against antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics that are used to treat infections.
  • Reason for AMR:
  • The ingenuity and survival instinct of germs.
  • The irrational use of antibiotics in humans and animals.
  • The long-term impact of AMR: AMR is estimated to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050, unless concerted actions are initiated now. It will result in 7.5 % reduction in livestock production and negatively impact the global GDP by 3.5%.

How can we tackle the AMR challenge?

  • Solutions to combat the AMR threat: 
  • Discovery of new drugs, before the emergence of resistance in germs.
  • Prudent use of available antibiotics
  • Challenge in producing new antibiotics: it is an expensive and unpredictable process. No new class of antibiotics has been developed since 1984. The estimated cost for developing a new antibiotic exceeds $1 billion.
  • Only one option: to use the available antibiotics carefully to ensure their efficacy for as long as possible.
  • The World Health Organization Global Action Plan: it provides a road map for tackling this challenge. Almost 80 countries have developed their respective national action plans in alignment with this Plan.

Elaborate on how the one health approach supports focussed actions on the human-animal-environment interface .

  • The ‘One Health’ approach: The rational use of antibiotics in humans, animals, and agriculture warrants coordinated action in all sectors. These multi-sectoral, multidisciplinary and multi-institutional actions constitute the ‘One Health’ approach.
  • It is reinforced by the fact that all the epidemics in the current millennium (SARS, MERS, bird flu and COVID-19) have originated from animals because of unwanted excursion of humans into animal domains.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the urgency of implementing One Health.
  • One platform for experts: This effort utilises existing expertise and infrastructure in various sectors with a focus on inter-sectoral coordination, collaboration, and communication.
  • Human-animal-environment interface: The approach supports focussed actions on the human-animal-environment interface for the prevention, detection and response to the public health events that influence global health and food security.
  • Implementation of One Health: It permits a strong and continuous national narrative on zoonoses. It advocates a multi-sectoral response to public health problems, particularly pandemics, as also to address issues related to AMR.

Way forward

  • There is a need to optimally utilise emerging technologies to improve human health and development. One Health has been acknowledged as the optimum approach to counter the impact of AMR and future pandemics and must be adopted expeditiously.

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