9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 9, 2021

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Afghan Peace Process and India

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Synopsis: The US is set to leave Afghan as per the mandates of the Afghan Peace process. India should step up to ensure a peaceful, stable, and democratic Afghan government


  • The peace process in Afghanistan is witnessing a crucial moment in its history.
  • In a recent development, Mr. Blinken’s letter (U.S secretary of state) addressed Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.  It confirmed the US intention to fully withdraw all forces from Afghanistan as per the Doha Agreement.
  • Moreover, The continuation of Zalmay Khalilzad as the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation indicated that the US wants to proceed to a final settlement based on the Doha agreement.
  • The withdrawal of the US from the state will worsen the security situation, and it would help the Taliban to make rapid gains.

Dilemma faced by the US

  • The U.S. maintains that its objective is to bring about a just and durable peace through political negotiations. It wants Afghanistan to remain united, sovereign, and democratic.
  • But withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to cut its expenses is a contradiction to its above-stated objectives.
  • Also, the major problem for the US is that it cannot withdraw from Afghan without accepting Pakistan’s terms.
  • But acceding to Pakistan’s terms will not be accepted by Afghan patriots who want freedom for Afghanistan to choose its political direction.
  • Mr. Biden is of the view that Pakistan is strategically more important to the U.S. than Afghanistan.
  • Thus, Instead of pressuring Pakistan, the US is seeking Afghan support for a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban. It would help to enable the exit of U.S. soldiers.

The current plan

  • The U.S. Government is advocating ‘a new, inclusive government’ in Afghanistan. It supports an immediate 50% share for the Taliban in an interim government, as a quid pro quo for a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
  • Ghani is now asked to work closely with a broad consultative group to build consensus for negotiations with the Taliban on power-sharing, governance, and essential supporting principles.

What are the implications for India?

  • India remains fully committed to Afghanistan. The bilateral relations are growing irrespective of political instability in Afghan. For example, recent high-level exchanges between Indian and Afghan leaders.
  • Invites to prominent elders and senior Afghan leaders by India helped it to reconnect with the political forces in Afghanistan.
  • India’s efforts in Afghanistan have attracted support from the Afghan people and government.
  • The patriotic Afghan people have always supported their erstwhile leaders such as Ex-President Najibullah, who are committed to building the nation. And these leaders in turn look to India as a friend and expect solidarity.

What should be the way forwards for India?

  • In the late 1990s when no country was willing to help the democratic forces in Afghanistan. India and Iran voiced their support. A similar situation is arising.
  • India must step up to assist materially those who want to defend the Afghan republic.
  • This will also mark the arrival of India as the super power and as an arbiter in settling international disputes.

The Advantages of Work from Anywhere

Source: The Hindu

GS3: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

Synopsis: The new policy of Work from anywhere gained momentum during the pandemic. It has multiple benefits for all stakeholders.


  • Lack of clarity and flexibility in the US H-1B visa Programme remains major concerns for high-skilled Indian migrants, seeking to relocate to the U.S.
  • This uncertainty was high during the Trump administration, with visa denial rates rising significantly.
  • With the new administration in the US, reforms of the immigration system became a priority.
  • However, bringing reforms will take more time owing to the lack of consensus among the political forces in the U.S.
  • In this scenario, the new Work from Anywhere policy is gaining acceptance among corporates. It has the potential to mitigate the dependence on H-1B visas.

What are the reforms proposed by Mr. Biden to ease the immigration system?

Mr. Biden wants to ease the legal immigration for both family-based and employment-based migrants.

  • First, for the high skilled population, he proposed the removal of country-specific quotas for employment-based visas. A green card for STEM Ph.D. students pursuing from a U.S. institution is also in the proposal.
  • Second, the current H-4 visa holders (spouses and children of H-1B visa holders) will be made eligible for work permits.
  • However, given the partisan divisions in the U.S. legislature, it is unlikely that the proposal in its current form will become a law.
  • But for those skilled workers hoping to access U.S.-based opportunities have an alternative option of Work from Anywhere.

What are the benefits of the Work From Anywhere (WFA) policy?

  1. First, benefits for the workers: It grants individuals the choice to live in their preferred locations without the need of commuting to an office. Whereas the traditional work-from-home (WFH) model allows workers WFH a few days every week.
      • WFA allows workers to relocate to their hometown, be closer to family and friends, manage dual career situations.
      • Workers can also benefit by moving to (or continuing to live in) a lower cost-of-living location.
  2. Second, benefits for the organisation: WFA allows new companies to access a global pool of talent with relatively low investment in office space.
      • It can also help to reduce real estate costs of the organization as the workforce shifts to remote work.
      • Also, it helps to increase the efficiency of workers. For example, According to research, worker productivity under a work-from-anywhere policy increased  4.4% compared to the traditional work-from-home environments.
  3. Third, benefits for the society. Society, too, can benefit, as daily work commutes are a major source of carbon emissions.
      • According to research shifting to remote work cut emissions by their employees by more than 44,000 tons.

TCS case study

  1. Recently, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) announced that its 400,000-plus employees will be 75% remote by 2025.
  2. TCS has rolled out a ‘25-25 remote-work model’:
      • 25% of the workforce will be in a physical office at any one time
      • Also, workers will  be expected to work from an office for  only 25% of their working hours,
  3. The Harvard Business School explored the changes being implemented by TCS and identified the following advantages.
      • One, this model enables TCS clients to access the best talent within TCS, independent of the location of talent.
      • Two, the model also offers TCS employees an opportunity to simultaneously work on multiple projects around the globe. It doesn’t require relocation to the client site or worrying about immigration.

The TCS example shows how work-from-anywhere can help Indian companies and workers mitigate the challenges of immigration.

Revisiting the Reservation Laws in India

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.


The Supreme Court is examining the constitutional validity of the Maratha reservation policy. During the hearing, it mentioned that it will re-examine the landmark verdict in the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case 1992.

What is the Indra Sawhney Case?

  1. The Mandal Commission-
  • In 1979 the Second Backward Classes Commission was set up by the President.
  • The commission report concluded 52% of the population in India are “Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBCs)”. Further, the commission recommended a 27% reservation for SEBCs. This reservation is provided in addition to the previously existing 22.5% reservation for SC/STs.
  • The government accepted the recommendation and provided the 27% reservation.
  • In 1991, the government enacted provisions for the reservation of 10% of jobs for economically weaker sections (EWS) among higher caste people.
  1. Indra Sawhney vs UOI case or The Mandal case:
  • The Mandal Commission report and the government’s decision to reserve 10 percent for the EWS was challenged in the Supreme Court.
  • A nine-judge Bench gave their verdict in 1992.
  • The important intervention of the case includes,
    • First, the criterion for a group to qualify for reservation is social and educational backwardness only. So, the 10 percent reservation to the EWS becomes unconstitutional.
    • Second, a 50% limit to vertical quotas will apply to ensure efficiency in administration unless in exceptional circumstances. The court in its earlier judgments like M R Balaji v/s State of Mysore (1963) and Devadasan v/s UOI (1964) also mentioned the 50 percent reservation limit.

Why is the Supreme Court revisiting the Mandal case?

  • In 2018, the Maharastra government enacted a law to provide 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and admissions. This violated the 50 per cent ceiling mentioned by the Mandal case.
  • But, the Bombay High Court upheld the validity of the quota. But the Court reduced the Maratha reservation to 12-13% (Instead of 16%). This per cent is also recommended by the State Backward Classes Commission. (Both are above 50 per cent)
  • An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court during the case said that it will look into the capping of 50 per cent reservation in the Mandal case.

How does the Maratha reservation relate to the Indra Sawhney case?

The Maratha reservation law is related to the Indra Sawhney case in Many ways such as,

  1. The President power to notify backward classes
    • This power is provided by the 102nd Constitutional Amendment provided powers to the President to notify the backward classes. The Court has to find out whether States have powers to notify the backward classes or not.
  2. Validity of 103rd Amendment, 2019
    • This amendment provides for 10% reservation for the EWS in government jobs and educational institutions from the unreserved category.
    • Thus, the Marathas belong to EWS can attain benefits under the 103rd CAA. But the specific quotas to Marathas will turn into a bad example for communities asking for such reservations. For example, Patels in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh.
  3. The Breach of 50% ceiling set by Indra Sawhney Verdict
    • The Maharashtra law if enacted could make a reservation of up to 68%. Further, it can join states like Tamil Nadu, Haryana which already exceed the 50 percent ceiling.
    • For Example– the Tamil Nadu government reserves 69% of the seats in colleges and jobs in the State government. Further, Tamil Nadu also placed its reservation law in Ninth Schedule

What is Ninth Schedule

  • It excludes the law from the jurisdiction of judicial review under Article 31 A of the Constitution.
  • Laws placed in the Ninth Schedule cannot be challenged on the ground for violating any fundamental right.
  • However, in I R Coelho v/s Tamil Nadu (2007) case the supreme court held that laws in the ninth schedule can be challenged on the ground of violation of the basic structure of the constitution.

The ill effects of Job reservation for locals

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States

Synopsis: Haryana has introduced a new law where it assures 75% Job reservation for locals. This could be a disastrous decision for the Indian Economy.


The Governor of Haryana has approved a law that regulates job reservation in the private sector. This could possibly hamper India’s investment climate and its socio-economic framework.

  • The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act of 2020 seeks to provide for a 75 per cent job reservation for local people in private-sector jobs. The reservation is ensured on jobs having salaries less than Rs. 50,000 a month.
  • Apart from Haryana, States such as Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh also tried to provide Job reservation for locals.

Few major provisions of Haryana’s Law:

  1. Firms and companies need to register all of their employees receiving a gross salary of Rs 50,000 or less on a government portal and update it at regular intervals.
  2. An exemption can be claimed by employers when there enough number of local candidates are not available with the desired skills, qualifications, and proficiency. However, an officer of the rank of deputy commissioner or higher will evaluate such a claim.

What are the issues with Job reservation for locals?

  1. This law is not consistent with the provisions of the constitution. Especially Article 19(1)(g) and Article 16(2).
    • Article 19 (1)(g): Right to freedom of profession or Right to carry on any occupation, trade or business
    • Article 16(2):  State cannot provide discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them. The law imposes difficult and argumentative responsibilities on key personnel of firms in the State.
  2. The Law creates barriers for businesses by attaching severe monetary penalties for alleged non-compliance. The penalties can go up to Rs. 2,00,000 rupees.
  3. Apart from that, the government will have the power to enter firms’ premises for inspections. This could possibly bring back the ‘Inspector Raj’ system. This process discourages employers from operating in the State. Further, It will lead to decreasing local jobs and increasing the unemployment rate in the long run.
  4. Impact on the entire country: The law will be an example for more such laws from State governments. This will lead to a mass departure of investors from India.
    • For instance, a disturbance in the Gurgaon back-office operations of a global firm will damage India’s reputation as a stable, trustworthy investment destination with a talented workforce.
  5. The law is completely against the Prime Minister’s vision such as ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ and ‘One Nation One Market’.

Way forward

  • It is time the Centre discourages job reservation for locals. Because these laws threaten to unleash a ‘work visa’ regime for Indians within the country and also damage crucial workplace diversity.

Concerns associated with Local Reservation Laws

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States

Synopsis: Enactment of local reservation laws by states would have a negative impact on low-income internal migrants. Laws will also fail to go through the constitutionality test.


  • There have been numerous instances of subnational nativism in the past:
    • Mulki rules in Nizam-ruled Hyderabad in the late 19th century
    • Anti-South Indian movements in Bombay in the 1960s
    • Sons of the soil movement in Assam
  • However rarely we saw a formal law supporting local reservation as:
    • The politicians used subnational nativism just to woo voters
    • Constitution prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of place of birth.
    • The report of the Working Group on Migration in January 2017 inferred the Supreme Court’s decision in the Charu Khurana v Union of India case, 2014. As per which the restrictions based on residence for the purposes of employment are unconstitutional.
  • Nonetheless, a rise in the enactment of local reservation laws is witnessed in India.

Recent Local Reservation Laws:

  • Andhra Pradesh became the first state to pass such a law in 2019. It reserved 75% private jobs across all categories in industrial units, factories, joint ventures as well as Public-Private Projects.
  • In March 2021, the Haryana government notified its Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020. It provides for a 75 % job quota for local people in private sector jobs which offer a salary of less than Rs. 50,000 a month.

Problems with Local Reservation Laws:

  • Constitutionality Test: Article 16(2) provides that there cannot be any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them.  
    • Further, it curtails the employer’s choice of recruiting labour from anywhere in the country. It is against Article 19(g) that provides the freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.
  • Flawed Objective: One of the aims is to control interstate migration but census 2011 shows that the majority of migration is intrastate. 
  • Depriving state of cheap labour: Migrants offer better services at cheap prices. Further, the natives are reluctant to engage in some jobs which are taken by migrants. This is evident from Surat’s power loom industry which employs workers from Odisha.
  • Plight of Low-income migrants: He/she already faces the challenge of the uncertain job and portable job security. Now another obstacle of native laws is placed in front of them.
  • Discriminatory Criteria: The income cut-off in Haryana’s law conveys that the rich can move anywhere in India. However, similar opportunities are denied to poorer inter-state migrant workers.
  • Parallel Markets: There is a fear of development of fake local residence certificate markets in order to get jobs within a state.

Way Forward:

  • The law passed by the Andhra Pradesh assembly is already challenged in court. The decision would make it clear whether states can give any local reservation in jobs or not. 
  • Further, the states must realize that a rise in interstate migration will definitely happen. It is evident from the development trajectory of any other country. This was also seen in China during the last 3 decades of its growth.
  • The states shouldn’t indulge in hypocrisy. For instance, the residents of Haryana and Andhra Pradesh have benefited from internal and international migration in the past. But now is restricting migration in their respective states. 

Discouraging protectionism has been the traditional stance of India as evident from the criticism of the Trump administration for enhancing barriers on H1B migrants. The change of Biden administration has brought hope to Indians who want to live the American dream, but local reservation policies at home have certainly discouraged the internal migrants.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 9, 2021

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