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Type: op-ed snap


[op-ed snap] Revival risks

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Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Briefly explains current position of Indian Economy


News

Positive things happening in the India Economy

  1. Improvement in India’s rank on a World Bank index for ease of doing business
  2. The economy is seeing a growth of 6.3% in the second quarter of this year, after slowing for at least four quarters

Is economy fine now?

  1. The official data for the third quarter (October to December) so far suggest that the economy is still facing some issues such as rising oil prices

Growth data of different sectors

  1. After two months of robust 4%-plus growth, industrial activity however slipped in October
  2. This coincides with exporters seeing a 1.1% slump in shipments in October
  3. The IIP has now grown just 2.5% in the first seven months of 2017-18, compared to 5.5% in the same period last fiscal

What is the cause of concern?

  1. With exports,  job creation still needs to pick up
  2. and the latest inflation data set too is cause for concern
  3. Prices at the consumer level rose at the fastest pace in 15 months this November, with inflation touching 4.88%
  4. There is greater concern about the rise in core inflation (excluding food and fuel) and inflation imported through high global prices

Difficulty for Government

  1. The government faces difficult choices
  2. Slashing fuel taxes could calm inflation, but it would hit revenue collections that are already uncertain owing to GST deadline extensions
  3. Not doing so would leave less room for the central bank to lower interest rates
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Looking for balance in power

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the RIC

Mains level: The article comprehensively discusses the issues related to the RIC trilateral group


News

Context

  1. The Russia-India-China trilateral held its 15th meeting recently
  2. Held at New Delhi

Points that shows divergence between India and Russia relationship

  1. Russia and China’s continued attempts to frame global and regional politics through a similar lens
  2. Changed stance: Russia now believes that India can benefit by joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative

From China’s point of view

  1. China has continued to take an aggressive posture on Doklam and its aftermath
  2. China’s official statement at the meet: “China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial friction”

Reasons that are binding Russia and China together

  1. As Russia witnessed a downward slide in its status as a superpower since the end of the Cold War, China emerged as a rising power that saw the U.S. as the greatest obstacle
  2. As a consequence, China recognised the importance of cooperating with Russia to check U.S. expansionism in the world, even if only for the short term
  3. In fact, American policies towards Russia and China moved the two states closer to each other, leading to the formation of a new balance of power against the U.S.

Trilateral meet from India’s point of view

  1. As India was still far from becoming a global power of any reckoning
  2. India saw in the trilateral a mechanism to bring greater balance in the global order as it believed that a unipolar U.S.-dominated world was not in the best interests of weaker states like itself

Consequences of the discussed points

  1. As a consequence, the trilateral did not lead to consequences of any great import
  2. It merely resulted in declarations which were often critical of the West, and of the U.S. in particular
  3. Yet this was also a period which saw significant shifts in Indo-U.S. ties as bilateral relations expanded while Russian and Chinese links with the U.S. have witnessed a downward shift

Changing Situation of the trilateral group

  1. The group had started with an attempt to manage American unipolarity is now being affected fundamentally by Chinese resurgence
  2. Both Russia and India are having to deal with the externalities being generated by China’s rise
  3. While Russia is getting closer to China, India is trying to leverage its partnership with other like-minded states in the wider Indo-Pacific region
  4. As a multipolar world order takes shape, India will have to engage with multiple partners so as to limit bilateral divergences
  5. Moreover, all three countries realised the enormous potential in the economic, political, military and cultural realms if bilateral relationships among them were adequately strengthened

The way forward

  1. The Russia-India-China template comes with its own set of challenges.
  2. India has continued engagement with Russia and China and it suggests that India is today confident of setting its own agenda in various platforms
  3. Just as China engages with the U.S. on the one hand and with Russia on the other, a rising India is quite capable of managing its ties with USA, China and Russia simultaneously
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Changed priorities

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Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Non-performing assets, bankruptcy, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016, CRILC, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India

Mains level: Measures related to tackling NPAs


Context

  1. The 2017 Forbes India List says that the combined net worth of India’s 100 wealthiest stood at a whopping $479 billion
  2. Even then, top corporate borrower groups in India are unable to repay loans and make timely interest payments

Tackling NPAs

  1. The government has taken the high moral ground to deal with the menace of non-performing assets (NPAs)
  2. NPAs have brought many public sector banks on the verge of bankruptcy
  3. Government brought an ordinance on November 23 amending the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016
  4. It disqualified errant promoter from participating in the bidding process

Intent of ordinance

  1. It signals the government’s intent to shift attention away from recovery of bad loans to selling the assets of defaulting corporates
  2. The May 2017 ordinance directed banks to accept deep haircuts on their non-performing loans

Corporates-bank nexus

  1. These corporates have not been downgraded on their creditworthiness parameter although the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been monitoring all large loans through the Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) since 2014

Loopholes in IBC

  1. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is the regulator set up on October 1, 2016, under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  2. The IBBI is assisted by the disciplinary, advisory and technical committees
  3. The resolution professionals entrusted with the responsibility of sorting out the insolvent companies or individuals can be registered with any one of the three insolvency professional agencies
  4. The advisory committees on corporate insolvency and liquidation are chaired by several top corporates
  5. The appointment of corporates as heads of important corporate insolvency advisory committees under IBBI does not inspire confidence in the credibility of the resolution process

Way forward

  1. The recent ordinance may end up being used selectively to defeat the very objective of penalizing the errant promoter
  2. The banks will only lose if resolution is sidetracked by the ensuing power struggle among corporate India to purchase distressed assets at rock-bottom prices
Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc. Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] Gender-based laws: a double-edged sword

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Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Hindu Marriage Act

Mains level: Measures needed to remove gender-based discrimination from society


Context

  1. The Supreme Court’s notice to the government regarding Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), relating to adultery laws, has brought dated assumptions about gender to light

What is the law?

  1. The law allows the husband to initiate criminal proceedings against his wife’s lover
  2. It does not punish his wife since it presumes that only a man can seduce a woman into a sexual act
  3. Also, it is the husband who has suffered due to the sexual relationship of his wife, carried out without his consent
  4. At the same time, the wife is not protected from similar behavior committed by her husband

What is the problem with the law?

  1. The problem with this law is that it treats men and women differently
  2. It perpetuates the notion that women are somehow naive, gullible, and lack the agency a man possesses

Is this the only law doing discrimination?

  1. This caricature can be seen in other laws too
  2. The law criminalizes consensual sex between minors as rape committed by the boy 
  3. Women are legally entitled to maintenance from their father until they get married, while boys are only allowed this until they are 18
  4. If a woman dies without a will, the Hindu inheritance laws put the rights of her husband’s heirs above those of her parents
  5. Women cannot be jailed for not filing their income tax
  6. Marital rape is considered an oxymoron

Ad hoc provisions for women security

  1. In the light of its failure to provide security, the state has resorted to protecting the interests of women through ad hoc provisions
  2. These have proved to be counterproductive
  3. Example: The recent legislation mandating paid maternity leave of 26 weeks and crèche facility in companies hiring more than 50 employees
  4. The law intends to benefit working women, but the second-order effects of the piece of legislation will likely be that firms will hire fewer women, and pay those they hire less salary to compensate for the maternity benefits
  5. The law furthers several stereotypes as well—that all women want to have babies, that all women want 26 weeks of paid leave, that it is only the woman’s job to take care of the newborn

State has used the law to perpetuate cultural practices

  1. If relationships are abusive, it should be easy for the parties to leave them
  2. But till as recently as September 2017, the Hindu Marriage Act required that even couples seeking divorce through mutual consent demonstrate that they had tried to work on their marriage
  3. They should wait for at least six months after they had first filed for divorce
  4. There is, however, still no provision for divorce on grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown of marriage’—a standard practice in other countries

Way forward

  1. In a civilized society, physical strength should not determine your options in life
  2. In the West, more social progress on gender equality has been made because women are relatively freer to live independent lives
  3. The process is likely to be no different in India
  4. It’s time to remove from the law all privileges and disadvantages that are based on gender
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] A job crisis, in figures

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Employment data discussed in the newscard. Employment issue is specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus, and is therfore very important.


News

What is the main issue?

  1. Much of the debate on employment performance over the last few years has been mired in ambiguity due to the absence of high-frequency employment statistics

Step taken by the government

  1. The government has put in place a taskforce to revamp India’s employment data architecture, but new employment numbers are unlikely to come out anytime soon

Statistics which underscore the severity of India’s job crisis
First: Data from the Labour Bureau’s Annual Household Employment survey

  1. It shows a decline in total employment from 480.4 million (2013-14) to 467.6 million (2015-16)
  2. The only sector to have witnessed a significant increase in employment was wholesale and retail
  3. In the manufacturing sector ( both organised and unorganised) employment has declined over the same time period

Second: data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI)

  1. It is an enterprise survey which covers only the organised manufacturing sector
  2. It is found that employment to have increased from 12.94 million to 13.25 million between 2013-14 and 2014-15
  3. Given that there is no ASI data beyond 2014-15
  4. Calculations suggest that between 2014-15 and 2015-16, employment in the private corporate manufacturing sector (PCMS) increased by approximately four lakh
  5. In the following time period (2015-16 to 2016-17), a little over three lakh jobs were created in this sector
  6. Given that this is the organised sector where the “good productive” jobs lie, the pace of job creation is far from adequate

Third: NSSO’s recently-released report, “Unincorporated Non-Agricultural Enterprises” (73rd round)

  1. It provides data on unregistered/unorganised firms in the non-agricultural sector (excluding construction) for the year 2015-16
  2. It is found the total number of workers engaged in unorganised manufacturing enterprises increased from 34.88 million to 36.04 million between 2010-11 and 2015-16
  3. On the other hand, the total number of workers engaged in non-household establishments (which employ at least one hired labourer) declined by 0.67 million
  4. Household enterprises pay lower wages and have lower productivity as compared to non-household establishments
  5. The increasing employment in household enterprises is thus a disturbing phenomenon
  6. It seems to be a consequence of the lack of alternative decent employment opportunities

Fourth: Statistics from various administrative data sets

  1.  A noteworthy source in this context is the government’s recently launched National Career Services (NCS), which attempts to provide a nation-wide online platform for jobseekers and employers
  2. As of March 2016, 36.25 million job seekers were registered on the NCS portal. By October 2017, this had increased to 39.92 million against a mere 7.73 lakh vacancies posted on the exchange
  3. An analysis of the NCS data is fraught with several challenges such as limited coverage
  4. And the fact that job seekers registered on the exchange are often already employed in low paying establishments and are in search of better paying jobs in the organised sectors of the economy

The way forward

  1. The numbers given above reinforce the enormous gap between the pace of job creation and demand for productive jobs.
  2. An examination of multiple datasets reaffirm the acuteness of India’s jobs crisis
  3. It is time we stop citing the lack of reliable and timely data as an excuse for having a meaningful debate on job creation

 

Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc. Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] The outsider: On adultery law

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, Article 15(3) of Constitution, Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

Mains level: Various laws/provisions that treat women as subordinate and need to repeal them


Context

Reconsideration of the law on adultery

  1. By agreeing to have another look at the constitutional validity of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, under which men can be prosecuted for adultery, the Supreme Court has re-opened a question that has been decided thrice in the past
  2. While agreeing to issue notice to the government, the Bench has observed that the provision is archaic

Court’s initial observation

  1. SC has noted that in a case of adultery, one person is liable for the offense but the other is absolved and that the concept of gender neutrality, on which criminal law normally proceeds, is absent
  2. The court has also noted that once the consent or connivance of the husband is established, there is no offense of adultery at all
  3. SC described this as subordination of a woman and something that “creates a dent on the independent identity of a woman”

Past judgments of SC

  1. In the past, the Supreme Court has emphasized that a married woman is a “victim” and the man is “the author of the crime”
  2. It has treated the exemption given to women as a special provision that has the protection of Article 15(3)
  3. It has rejected the argument that it is discriminatory by pointing out that neither a man nor a woman can prosecute their disloyal spouses
  4. It is only the ‘outsider’ to the matrimonial relationship who can be prosecuted, and that too by the aggrieved husband alone
  5. This is made clear in Section 198(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a provision also under challenge

International efforts

  1. Many countries across the world do not treat adultery as an offense any longer
  2. In 2012, a United Nations Working Group on laws that discriminate against women wanted countries that treat adultery as a crime, to repeal such laws

Why is this issue important?

  1. The matter now goes beyond the limited question of the culpability of women involved in a relationship outside their marriage
  2. It raises the related question whether there is an implicit subordination of the will of a woman
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] Two myths about automation

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Automation

Mains level: Automation is an important topic of discussion these days because of its affect on jobs. This article supports automation and suggests some measures which can lessen the affects of it.


News

What is automation?

  1. Automation can be defined as the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance
  2. In other words, Automation or automatic control, is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention, with some processes have been completely automated

Reports on Automation

  1. According to a report, Automation Will Eliminate 9% Of US Jobs in 2018
  2. And one-third Of US workers could be jobless by 2030 due to Automation
  3. Reports like these leave the impression that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically (First Myth)
  4. But there is no evidence of either trend

Are jobs really at risk?

  1. Everyone thinks they know is that previously safe jobs are now at risk (second myth)
  2. Once upon a time, it was possible to argue that robots would displace workers engaged in routine tasks, but not the highly skilled and educated
  3. In particular, machines, are not capable of tasks in which empathy, compassion, intuition, interpersonal interaction, and communication are central
    Automation in law
  4. Machines are already more efficient than legal associates at searching for precedents
  5. But an attorney attuned to the personality of her client still plays an indispensable role in advising someone contemplating a messy divorce whether to negotiate, mediate, or go to court
  6. Likewise, an attorney’s knowledge of the personalities of the principals in a civil suit or a criminal case can be combined with Big Data and analytics when the time comes for jury selection
  7. The job is changing, not disappearing
    Automation in medical field
  8. It’s not that nurses’ aides are being replaced by healthcare robots; rather, what nurses’ aides do is being redefined
  9. And what they do will continue to be redefined as those robots’ capabilities evolve from getting patients out of bed to giving physical therapy sessions and providing emotional succour to the depressed and disabled
  10. Thus, the coming technological transformation won’t entail occupational shifts on the scale of the Industrial Revolution
  11. Important concern: But it will be more important than ever for people of all ages to update their skills and renew their training continuously, given how their occupations will continue to be reshaped by technology

What is the real problem?

  1. In the US, board membership for workers’ representatives, strong unions, and government regulation of private-sector training are not part of the prevailing institutional formula
  2. As a result, firms treat their workers as disposable parts, rather than investing in them (for their skill development)
  3. And government does nothing about it

What is the solution?

  1. Instead of a “tax reform” that allows firms to expense their capital outlays immediately, why not give companies tax credits for the cost of providing lifelong learning to their employees?
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] The power play in peacekeeping

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India is one of the largest (troop)contributors to the UN peacekeeping mission. And it is important to know how China’s involvement will affect India’s interests in this area.


News

Rising contribution of China in peacekeeping mission of the UN

  1. Having made a reluctant entry in peacekeeping (when it sent a small cadre of soldiers to Cambodia in 1992), China has now become the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UNSC
  2. More importantly, China is now the third-largest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and the second-largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget

What does this portend in China’s quest for great power status?
Is the picture that simple for India in geopolitical power play?

  1. In practice, a nation’s voice is in proportion to what it contributes towards the UN, especially funds — India’s contribution is only 0.737% when compared to China’s 7.92% and the U.S.’s 22%
  2. Troop contributions to peacekeeping do not get their due in UN power politics
  3. Pivotal posts in UN missions have always been with major fund contributors
  4. China has many pivotal posts in UN Missions

Selective use of VETO power by China

  1. China has used VETO power twice “over concerns over territorial integrity pertaining to Taiwan”
  2. China was against sending UN peacekeepers to Guatemala and Macedonia because they had established diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Importance of peacekeeping missions for China and its contributions in them

  1. In 2015, China committed a standby force of 8,000 peacekeepers and a permanent police squad for UN operations
  2. In addition, there is a 10-year $1 billion China-U.N. peace and development fund and $100 million in military assistance to the African Union
  3. It is no coincidence that Africa is where China has large economic interests
  4. Peacekeeping is said to be a cover for China to test its strengths in overseas deployments

How will it affect India?

  1. Chinese involvement in peacekeeping(along with its higher funding contributions) will put Beijing in the driver’s seat in formulating peacekeeping mandates
  2. And thereby affecting India in more ways than one

The way forward

  1. The truth is that though our troops have been on the front line of facing danger (168 soldiers lost in UN operations, till May 2017), the returns in UN power play have been low
  2. Peacekeeping missions are the raison d’etre(the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence) of the UN
  3. And India’s generous contributions as far as peacekeeping troops are concerned should be key in its argument to have a greater say in the affairs of the UN. India must demand its pound of flesh
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc. Health

[op-ed snap] Powering rural healthcare

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Public Health Standards, National Health Policy, etc.

Mains level: The article talks about an interesting connection between renewable energy and Indian health care system. The UPSC is known to ask questions on these type of issues. Very important.


News

What is the issue?

  1. Around 38 million Indians rely on health facilities without electricity
  2. Without access to regular power supply, numerous life-saving interventions cannot be undertaken

‘Powering Primary Healthcare through Solar in India: Lessons from Chhattisgarh’

  1. It is a study published by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)
  2. It has evaluated 147 primary healthcare centres (PHCs) across 15 districts in Chhattisgarh
    HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY
  3. It highlights the role of solar energy in bridging the gaps in electricity access in rural healthcare facilities
  4. The Rural Health Statistics 2016 data has found, of the functional PHCs, 4.6% are not electrified
  5. The fourth round of District Level Household and Facility Survey data indicates that one in every two PHCs in rural India is either unelectrified or suffers from irregular power supply
  6. Positive part: The CEEW study found that the solar-powered PHCs in Chhattisgarh admitted over 50% more patients
  7. And conducted almost twice the number of child deliveries in a month compared to the power-deficit PHCs without a solar system
  8. The ability of solar-powered PHCs to maintain cold chains to store vaccines and drugs and operate new-born care equipment has significantly improved

How can renewable power sources help in this situation?

  1. They could help PHCs augment or even substitute traditional grid-based power systems
  2. It can facilitate reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply critical for 24/7 emergency services, deliveries and neonatal care, as well as inpatient and outpatient services

Continuous power supply has improved efficiency of PHCs in Chhattisgarh

  1. Continuous electricity supply must be ensured to cold chains at PHCs, especially in rural Chhattisgarh, which has an infant mortality rate that is higher than the average for rural India
  2. Further, patients showed more willingness to get admitted for treatment at the solar-powered PHCs due to facilities like running fans
  3. Also, 90% of PHCs with solar systems reported cost savings due to lower electricity bills or reduced expenditure on diesel

Can solar systems be scaled up in Rural India?

  1. Scaling-up solar-powered systems across PHCs in rural India is dependent on three factors
    FIRST
  2. To recognise the critical nature of electricity access in the entire health system infrastructure
  3. The Indian Public Health Standards has set minimum service-level benchmarks for all activities of PHCs, indicating that every PHC should have power supply with a back-up option
  4. The National Health Policy 2017 reiterates the commitment to improve primary healthcare by strengthening infrastructure
    SECOND
  5. The second is the ability to adapt solar systems around the local needs and considerations of PHCs including the burden of disease, weather, terrain, and power availability
    THIRD
  6. There must be a focus on making ‘Solar for Health’ a national priority

The way forward

  1. Significant opportunities exist to simultaneously address the multisectoral goals of energy access, energy security, resource management, and health outcomes
  2. Solar power for healthcare in Chhattisgarh is a crucial opportunity
  3. With evidence that scaling this initiative can meet national and regional ambitions for energy access and improved health outcomes
Cashless Society – Digital Payments, Demonetization, etc. Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Perils of going cashless

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Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI), cashless society

Mains level: Government moves to reduce cash usage and its effects on depositors


Context

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI)

  1. The “bail-in” clause of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) has led to worries about the safety of bank deposits
  2. The Bill enables the government to confiscate the deposits of ordinary citizens in order to save troubled public sector banks

Cashless push a bigger threat?

  1. The push by government towards a cashless society is a bigger threat than the FRDI bill

How will this affect depositors? 

  1. Presently, depositors can promptly withdraw their money from the bank by demanding cash
  2. Such an event can lead to severe bank runs and destabilise the banking system because bank deposits are only fractionally backed by actual cash
  3. Such rapid withdrawal of cash deposits, however, may slowly cease to be an option for depositors as the world increasingly turns away from cash and towards digital money
  4. When all, or even a predominant share, of money in the world is digital, there is no question of banks having to meet depositors’ demand for cash
  5. It would also strip depositors of the power to withdraw their deposits in the form of cash to escape any tax or other forms of confiscation by the government

Why more emphasis on ‘cashless’?

  1. Banks have been a major source of funding for governments and their economies across the world
  2. Most of such lending happens through loans which are not backed by savings but instead through fresh money creation
  3. This, in turn, leads to economic crises and bank runs led by depositors
  4. A cashless world makes it easier for banks to carry out their business of credit creation without the risk of having to satisfy the demand for cash from depositors
  5. It also prevents recurrent crises of liquidity that are faced by banks

Other reasons

  1. Policies like negative interest rates, which would otherwise push depositors to rush out of banks to escape the tax imposed on their deposits, become more feasible under a cashless banking system
  2. Under cashless system, depositors are essentially locked in by banks
  3. Depositors in such cases will have no other option but to spend their money to escape a penalty on it
Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

[op-ed snap] In an elite club: On India’s Wassenaar entry

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group

Mains level: India’s nuclear program, NSG bid and way forward


Context

India’s admittance into the Wassenaar Arrangement

  1. This is a big step forward in India’s quest for formal acceptance as a responsible nuclear power
  2. As a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), New Delhi has been at pains to convey to the international community that it adheres to, and is invested in, a rules-based order

About Wassenaar Agreement

  1. The Wassenaar Arrangement was founded in 1996
  2. Its stated aim is “to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.”
  3. It is clubbed with mechanisms such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Australia Group
  4. It comes on the heels of membership last year of the MTCR

Need for quiet diplomacy in sensitive nuclear issues

  1. India did a botched attempt to gain entry to the NSG last year
  2. While India’s efforts at the NSG were stopped by China, which is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, raising the pitch publicly at the time came with costs
  3. It made the task of forging a consensus on membership to the NSG more difficult

Way forward

  1. The Wassenaar Arrangement will embed India deeper in the global non-proliferation architecture and enable access to critical technologies in the defense and space sectors
  2. The Australia Group, which focusses on biological and chemical weapons, may be easier to crack given that China is not a member
  3. As more and more countries are signing on to India’s steadily strengthening credentials in the nuclear area, there is hope that a fresh momentum will be imparted to a future bid for the NSG
Foreign Policy Watch: India-SCO Global Groupings and Conventions

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Indian diplomacy, beyond the canon

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Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bodhi Parva, BIMSTEC, two plus two dialogue,  G-20, East Asia Summit, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Commonwealth forum

Mains level: India’s rising stature in multipolar world


Context

Multi-directional foreign policy

  1. India’s intensive diplomatic engagements this week help us better frame Delhi’s unfolding multi-directional foreign policy
  2.  India can sit with the US and its allies one day and hold consultations with the Russians and Chinese the next
  3. This reflects a definitive pragmatism rooted in the rise of India and the emergence of multipolar world

Bodhi Parva

  1. It was a celebration of Buddhist heritage to mark the 20th anniversary of a Bay of Bengal Forum, the BIMSTEC
  2. It brings together five South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two South East Asian nations (Burma and Thailand)

Idea of minilateralism

  1. Along with cultural, digital and physical connectivity, the idea of minilateralism with multiple partners has become an important theme in Indian diplomacy
  2. Delhi’s support for the renewal of the quadrilateral security dialogue marked its emphasis on ad hoc and flexible arrangements to pursue India’s interests in a more complex world

Multiple engagements

  1. Delhi is hosting the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers this week as part of a continuing trilateral engagement over the last decade and a half
  2. It then holds another trilateral forum with Japan and Australia this week
  3. This supplements the quadrilateral dialogue as well as the on-going trilateral engagement with the US and Japan
  4. Delhi is also holding the first-ever “two plus two” dialogue with Australia in which the foreign and defense secretaries from the two countries sit together

Quad is India’s answer to China

  1. Quadrilateral dialogue with the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan was China’s effort to construct a “new type of great power relations” with the United States
  2. Russia is also interested in a grand bargain with America under President Donald Trump
  3. Thus, India’s commitment to non-alignment can be rested for now
  4. India needs to secure its interests in an increasingly uncertain world

Pragmatism after the Cold War

  1. Delhi looked beyond the Non-Aligned Movement
  2. The opening to the West in general and the United States in particular, the trilateral engagement with Russia and China and the quadrilateral security dialogue were all initiated and advanced by the governments led by P.V. Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh
  3. Today India is part of such diverse organizations like the G-20, East Asia Summit, BRICS, and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  4. Delhi is now looking more positively at the Commonwealth forum that brings more than 50 members together

India’s changed position and way forward

  1. Today as one of the world’s top economies with growing military potential, India is in a position to shape the great power politics and influence the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific and Eurasia
  2. As the weakest among the major powers in the unfolding multipolar world, Delhi needs to advance in all directions and engage more actively with a variety of minilateral and multilateral forums
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Next Door Nepal: Virtues of soft power

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: European Union, Lumbini (relation with Buddhism)

Mains level: Importance of Nepal for India


Context

India-Nepal relations under stress

  1. A major thread that has linked India and Nepal for centuries is under stress
  2. Some refer to it as religious, but the ties that link people to people in the two countries have a strong civilizational and cultural underpinning
  3. This “soft diplomacy” is increasingly weakening

China getting advantage

  1. China seems to have picked up a thread that India abandoned when it began to pursue a radical path in Nepal from 2006
  2. India’s preference for radical political agendas have undermined, and even demolished, the institutions that facilitated cultural linkages between the two countries
  3. This has contributed to the distrust between Kathmandu and New Delhi

What India did?

  1. India, with the support of the European Union, literally dictated Nepal’s political course from 2006
  2. Together, they blocked the efforts of a large but disorganized section of the Nepali populace
  3. People of Nepal wanted contentious issues like the shift from a monarchy to a republic and the adoption of secularism as state credo instead of continuing as a Hindu state to be settled through debate, and if necessary a referendum
  4. India aligned with the Maoists who were waging war against the state and asked its long-term ally, the Nepali Congress to support the Maoists

China leveraging Buddhism

  1. Buddhism has immensely contributed in making Hindu-majority Nepal respectful towards all religions
  2. Hinduism and Buddhism have coexisted in harmony
  3. China’s keen interest to develop Lumbini and build a railway line to Sigatse in Tibet via Kerung is an attempt on the part of Beijing to leverage soft power in bilateral relations
  4. China recognises that Buddhism can be a binding thread between the two countries

Anti-India sentiment in Nepal

  1. The current anti-India sentiment in Nepal, which will also reflect in the mandate, is to a large part due to the 2015 economic blockade the Modi government imposed on Nepal
  2. Nepal had yet to recover from a devastating earthquake
  3. K.P. Oli, then the prime minister, stood up to India and turned to China for help

Way forward

  1. India is unclear about how to repair the damage diplomacy has done to its soft power and the resultant confusion in the bilateral relations
  2. It should try to restore the ties with focus on cultural and religious linkages
WTO and India Global Groupings and Conventions

[op-ed snap] Crunch time at WTO

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Issues related to the WTO(read the attached story)

Mains level: Upcoming challenges in the WTO’s meeting


News

The proposals trade ministers will consider WTO’s 11th biennial Ministerial Conference(in Buenos)

  1. Notable among the proposals trade ministers will consider are those relating to new rules on farm subsidies, the elimination of support for unsustainable fisheries, and the regulation of e-commerce
    Joint Proposals by India and China
  2. With the backing of more than 100 countries, a joint proposal from India and China to eliminate the most trade-distorting farm subsidies worth $160 billion in several industrialised economies
  3. It is arguably the most contentious agenda item at the Ministerial
  4. The two countries see this as a prerequisite to address the prevailing imbalance in the Agreement on Agriculture, which unfairly benefits developed countries

Cautions regarding the joint proposals 

  1. But host Argentina has cautioned that the joint proposal could potentially unravel negotiations

Dispute regarding subsidies and G-33 coalition

  1. The other major dispute centres on finding a so-called permanent solution to the large subsidies that underpin public stock-holding programmes to bolster food security in the developing world
  2. The G-33 coalition, which includes Indonesia, China and India, seeks a complete exemption from commitments to reduce subsidies, such as minimum support prices, from this poverty-alleviation programme
    Support from EU and Brazil
  3. The EU and Brazil have expressed broad support for the G-33 coalition’s position on public stock-holding programmes
  4. But in return they seek agreement on their own proposal to reduce trade-distorting subsidies on a percentage basis, in both advanced and developing economies

A new issue created by the US

  1. The US has been exploring an alternative, unilateral route away from the formal dispute resolution mechanism of the Geneva-based body to settle perceived and real trade conflicts with partners
  2. It has blocked fresh appointments to fill vacancies on the seven-member WTO appellate body
  3. The risk of Mr. Trump’s protectionist rhetoric translating into economic barriers remains real
  4. Trade leaders gathered in Buenos Aires can ill-afford to lose sight of this imperative
Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc. Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] Arbitrary and irrational

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Arguments against fixing criminal liability with cases of Triple Talaq


News

Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill 

  1. The Government has proposed the bill for the winter session of Parliament
  2. With this, a husband who resorts to instant triple talaq can be jailed for up to three years and fined
  3. But the bill needs a closer scrutiny as there is stigma attached to criminal conviction

SC’s comment on the same

  1. The SC in its judgement has said if Parliament wants, it can enact a law on it(Triple Talaq)
  2. But nowhere in its judgment has the top court said that triple divorce is to be criminally punished

Is there any need to enact law against Triple Talaq?(Constitutionally) 

  1. In the Supreme Court judgment, the majority of three judges had already “set aside” triple divorce
  2. Under Article 141 of the Constitution, this is the “law declared by the Supreme Court”
  3. Therefore, there is basically no need for any law as triple divorce no longer dissolves marriage

Why is there no need of enacting a criminal against Triple Talaq?

  1. Since triple divorce no more dissolves marriage, its pronouncement is inconsequential and in no way adversely affects either the wife or society
  2. Thus no legitimate state interest is adversely affected

Two important questions

  1.  Are we going to make triple divorce a ‘strict liability’ offence which would mean that even if the person did not intend to divorce his wife, he would be punished for mere utterance of the word “divorce” thrice?
  2. Since the cardinal principle of criminal law is presumption of innocence and the burden of proof is always on the prosecution which has to prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt
  3. Then, how will the poor wife prove instant triple divorce if declared orally when no one else was around?
  4. The husband will be entitled to acquittal claiming the benefit of doubt

On what basis has the Bill provided for imprisonment of three years?

  1. Why did the government not look at provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which is the general criminal law of the country?
  2. For what crimes does the IPC reserve imprisonment of three years?
  3. For example, Section 148, which is on rioting and armed with deadly weapon, has a provision of three years or with fine, or with both(and other serious cirmes like these)
  4. These serious crimes are in no way comparable to an individual who instead of taking three months to divorce his wife, just took a minute in making all three pronouncements
  5. Thus imprisonment of three years for triple divorce is excessive, arbitrary and irrational, and violative of Article 14

The way forward

  1. Ideally, divorce should not be treated by divorcees as the end of the world
  2. Our women do not need men to lead a dignified life
  3. We must remove the stigma attached to divorces. Triple divorce should be nothing more than civil contempt of the Supreme Court
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