9 PM Daily Brief – September 29th, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Mains examination


  1. India and Neighbourhood
  2. India’s appeal to Sri Lanka to address Tamil aspirations
  3. Multilateralism after COVID-19
  4. Farm Acts and the Federalism


  1. 2020 reforms for Bharat

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.India and Neighbourhood

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- International Relations

Context: India’s neighbourhood policy have perpetually been a policy of problems.

How have India’s relations with the neighbourhood evolved?

  • Pre-Independence:The British Raj exercised ample control not just over the neighbourhood but across the Indo-Pacific in 19th and 20th
  • The British developed new port cities (from Aden to Hong Kong) and constructed trans-regional connectivity through roads and railways to control its neighbourly relations
  • Struggle to sustain its supremacy:
  • It had to constantly fend off its European rivals from encroaching into the periphery of the Raj.
  • The Great Game was about keeping the Dutch, French, Germans, Russians and Japanese at arm’s length.
  • Keeping the Subcontinent safe resulted in frequent military and political disasters.
  • Nehru Era:India signed three security treaties with Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal during 1949-50.
  • 1966 to 1984 – Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi was criticized for the policy of regional domination in South Asia
  • Prime Minister Morarji Desai and his foreign minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee faced the same criticism as Indira Gandhi.
  • No government since then has escaped the charge of mishandling the neighbours.

What were the reasons for problematic neighbourhood policy?

Five reasons stand out:

  • Partition of the Subcontinent:
  • The problems generated by the division of the Subcontinent on religious line still exists. For ex- challenges of settling boundaries, sharing river-waters, protecting the rights of minorities, and easing the flow of goods and people.
  • The arrival of China at the Indo-Tibetan frontier during 1950-51:
  • The emergence of a large and purposeful state on India’s borders was going to be a problem given the ease with which it could constrain Delhi within the Subcontinent.
  • Independent India’s conscious choice in favour of de-globalisation:
  • It led to a steady erosion of commercial connectivity with the neighbours.
  • Integrating India’s regional economic and foreign policy remains a major challenge.
  • The role of domestic politics in India’s regional policy:
  • Former PM did not attend the Colombo Commonwealth Summit in 2013 because leaders from Tamil Nadu opposed the visit by citing the approaching elections.

Way forward

  • There is no one solution to India’s relations with its neighbours. India should have a policy which provides:
    • timely responses to emerging problems,
    • prevent small issues from becoming big, and
    • Align Delhi’s regional economic policy with India’s natural geographic advantages.

2.India’s appeal to Sri Lanka to address Tamil aspirations

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS2: INDIA and its Neighbourhood

Context: Recently, India has appealed to Sri Lanka to address the aspirations of its Tamil minority which will find resonance among the Tamil-speaking populace on both sides of the Palk Strait.

What are the key highlights of joint statement?

  • In the joint statement, India reiterated its stated policy of seeking to ensure “equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka”for Tamils.
  • India also explicitly mentioned the need to carry forward the reconciliation processthrough the implementation of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
  • Sri Lanka also expressed confidence that it would work towards “realising the expectations” of all ethnic groups, including Tamils.
  • However, Sri Lanka linked it to “reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the peopleof Sri Lanka”.

What are the key issues?

  • Past mistakes: When India was backing Sri Lanka after the war resumed in 2005-06, it chose to ignore the de-merger of the northern and eastern provinces. Now, there is little global interest in holding Sri Lanka to its past promises on ethnic reconciliation and justice for war-time excesses.
  • Non implementation of 13thamendment: Sri Lanka in separate statement made no reference to the 13th Amendment, which envisaged power-sharing with the provinces based on the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of 1987. Sri Lanka may heed calls to roll back the provincial council
  • Internal politics of Sri Lanka: Mr. Rajapaksa has the required two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the Constitution, but not the political will to prioritise the issue.
  • Majoritarian politics in Sri Lanka:The Rajapaksas are aware of their mandates and are unlikely to do anything that does not have the approbation of the majority Sinhala community. Also, Rajapaksa administration is planning to undo legislation that had curbed the President’s powers.
  • China’s influence: India wants to limit Sri Lanka’s exposure to China.

3.Multilateralism after COVID-19

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- The present situations demand multilateralism to benefit from global change, countries must have a bold vision and make the right strategic choice.

What are the issues pertaining to multilateralism?

  1. US withdrawal from multilateralism-
  • US has decided to formally withdraw from global agreements ranging from-
  • Paris Agreement on Climate change.
  • UN Human Rights Council.
  • UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty.
  1. The rise of China- China is showing signs of building a new multilateral system-
  • China is creating new institutions such as the New Development Bank- an alternative to the World Bank with the other BRICS countries.
  • China also established a new emergency credit facility that parallels the IMF.
  • Its BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) is a massive international effort to build economic corporation.
  • China’s initiatives to combat climate change, which some have compared to the Marshall Plan to reduce carbon emission.
  1. US- China blame game- The speeches at the regular session of the UN General Assembly brought out the differing perspectives of the U.S. and China.
  • US Allegations
  • President Trump highlighted China’s culpability in the spread of the pandemic. He pointed out that China had banned internal flights but allowed international flights from Wuhan to continue which set the stage for the spread of COVID-19.
  • The World Health Organization also failed to provide early warnings.
  • China’s hypocrisy
  • The donor-recipient relationship between developed and developing countries has ended with China’s pledge to provide $2-billion assistance. This was clearly a reference to existing pledges without bringing additional resources to tackle a crisis which has tipped the world economy into recession.
  • President Xi’s speech sought to project the fight against COVID-19 as a matter of collective responsibility of the international community
  1. Breach of international law by Turkey:  
  • President of France highlighted the problem nearer home posed by Turkey’s intervention in Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, which is breach of international law.
  1. Jammu Kashmir issue-
  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made a detailed reference to the Jammu and Kashmir, saying the issue of Kashmir, “which is also key to the stability and peace of South Asia, is still a burning issue.”
  • The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan brought a particularly uncivil tone to the discourse.

How India can revive Multilateralism?

  • Leadership opportunity– US and West have adopted nationalistic leaning is gradually retreating from global politics. India which is a key G-20 country, the world’s fifth largest economy and with a long tradition of international activism should step into the leadership role by advocating the multilateral approach of tackling the pandemic.
  • Shift from Non Alignment to Multi Alignment– Multi-alignment is the very essence of India’s foreign policy and the economic policy of India today. This presents an opportunity for India to become a global mediator and help in developing a framework on Global Issues.

Way forward-

India needs to support reform not only to expand the permanent members’ category of the Security Council but also to revitalize the role of the General Assembly. The retreat from multilateralism would undermine the UN’s capacity to face diverse challenges.

4.Farm Acts and the Federalism

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2- 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- President gave assent to the farm bills. However, some states refused to implement the new laws and declared their intention to challenge them in the Supreme Court.

What are the arguments for and against the laws?

The government-

  1. Transform Indian agriculture and attract private investment– The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, provides for contract farming, under which farmers will produce crops as per contracts with corporate investors for a mutually agreed remuneration.
  2. Liberating farmers-The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 liberates farmers by giving them the freedom to sell anywhere. 

The protesting farmers-

  1. Corporate web-Fear that powerful investors would bind them to unfavourable and complicated contracts with liability clauses that would be beyond the understanding of poor farmers.
  2. Uncertain issues for the farmers-Possibility of corporatisation of agriculture. The uncertainty of the market and monsoon would determine the destiny of farmers. They argue that farmers can sell outside the APMC even now after paying the required fees or cess.
  3. Loss in tax collection. For instance- Punjab and Haryana could lose an estimated Rs 3,500 crore and Rs 1,600 crore each year respectively.

What is the ground for challenging the constitutionality of these laws?

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 do not mention the Statement of Objects & Reasons and the constitutional provisions under which Parliament has legislated the acts.

However, the judgement of Supreme Court made it clear in Union of India v. H.S. Dhillion (1972) that-

Constitutionality of Parliamentary laws can be challenged only on two grounds-

  • Subject is in the States List
  • It violates fundamental rights.

Where does the question of federalism come in?

Federalism- When both the Centre and states have the freedom to operate in their allotted spheres of power, in coordination with each other.

The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution contains three lists that distribute power between the Centre and states. Further, terms relating to agriculture occur at 15 places in the Seventh Schedule. Such as-

  1. Union List– On which Parliament has exclusive power to legislate.

Entries 82, 86, 87, and 88 mention taxes and duties on income and assets, specifically excluding those in respect of agriculture.

  1. State List- On which states alone can legislate.

Entry 14 – Agricultural education and research, pests, plant diseases;

Entry 18 – Rights in or over land, land tenures, rents, transfer agricultural land, agricultural loans, etc.

Entry 28– Markets and fairs;

Entry 30– Agricultural indebtedness;

Entry 45– Land revenue, land records, etc.

Entry 46– Taxes on agricultural income;

Entry 47– Succession of agricultural land; and

Entry 48– Estate duty in respect of agricultural land.

  1. Concurrent List-On which both the Centre and states can legislate, but in case of a conflict, the law made by Parliament prevails.

Entry 6 mentions transfer of property other than agricultural land;

Entry 7 is about various contracts not relating to agricultural land;

Entry 41 deals with evacuee property, including agricultural land.

However, Entry 27 of the State List is subject to Entry 33 of the Concurrent List-

Entry 33 mentions trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution of domestic and imported products of an industry over which Parliament has control in the public interest.

The Centre could, therefore, argue that it is within its powers to pass laws on contract farming and intra- and inter-state trade, and prohibit states from imposing fees/cesses outside APMC areas.

However, like education, farming is an occupation, not trade or commerce. If foodstuffs are considered synonymous with agriculture, then all the powers of states in respect of agriculture, shall become redundant.

Therefore, it is clear that the Union List and Concurrent List put matters relating to agriculture outside Parliament’s jurisdiction, and give state legislatures exclusive power.

Way Forward

Centre needs to work on resolving the problems by deepening not abandoning the views of the States and the farmers. As these acts are direct encroachments upon the functions of the states and against the spirit of cooperative federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

5.2020 reforms for Bharat

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices

Context: Recently, the President has given his ascent on the three farm Bills.

What are the issues with the bill?

  • No clarity on MSP:the Bill does not specify that the contract price should be above the Minimum Support Price (MSP) declared by the government.
  • Corporatization and private hoarding:Farmers may earn less and consumers may pay more due to private hoarding.
  • Loss of revenue:Governments will lose mandi tax, which is a major source of revenue. Bihar failed in 2006 when APMCs were dismantled, resulting in farmers facing challenges in selling their produce at good price.
  • No security to farmers:according to the Bill, companies are not required to have a written contract with the farmer, making it difficult for farmers to prove terms.
  • Weak positions for farmers:as per bills, contracts need not be registered with the government.

What are the significances of the bill?

  • Widens farmers’ choices:Sell anywhere to anyone at any price.
  • Promote agri-business: farmers and farmer collectives, agri-businesses and traders can manage post-harvest facilities without such interference by the government.
  • Socialistic reforms: Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari believed in maximum individual freedom and minimum interference by the state. These reforms are largely Gandhian.
  • Better prices: reforms will allow farmers to get good prices for their produce at the farm gate.
  • Improve farm practices: Farm advisories will create better crop planning and troubleshooting.
  • Reduce risk: Climate protected farming will reduce the business risk of agriculture. Reduced business risk will encourage the insurers to insure crops.

What are the key dimensions to reform agriculture sector?

  • Ensure MSP:MSP should continue in its current form, till markets show that they can deliver results for the farmers, even without the MSP.
  • Reform APMCs: For APMCs to stay relevant, they should become more competitive and transparent. Start-ups like Ninjacart and Waycool are proving a win-win model by reaching tens of thousands of horticulture farmers.
  • Universal basic income through direct benefit transfer mode: The free-market may increase the market-risk for farmer families in the short-term. Therefore, the government should double DBT from the current level of ₹70,000 crore.
  • e-Nam to become a ‘Unified Payment Interface’ equivalent for agri markets: National Agricultural Market should take learnings from UPI and provide a seamless application programming interface (API) for innovators, generally agri start-ups and businesses.
  • Feedback loop:ensure that the reforms feed into a constructive feedback loop that actually benefits farmers.
  • Policy predictability:it is important to have predictability and consistency in this philosophy. If the government exercises arbitrary power in a coercive manner, the private sector will speak with their money by reducing the investments.
  • Farmer forum for dispute resolution: Contract farming will be a transaction between a weak party called a farmer and a strong party called the corporation. Farmers need a ‘consumer forum’ equivalent at a district or block level.

India needs to combine the power of markets and technology as we have a unique opportunity to change the lives of India’s poor for the better.

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