Bills/Act/LawsDOMRExplainedGovt. SchemesHistorical Sites in NewsIOCRMains Onlyop-ed of the dayop-ed snapPIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1SC JudgementsSpecies in NewsStates in News
July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Broader strategic challenge of dealing with China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-China tension and India's response

  • Identifying the nature of the threat posed by China is important to formulate a response. This article discusses the plan of action on the diplomatic, strategic and economic front to deal with Chinese aggression.

Economic angle of China’s expansionism

  • The Chinese growth model needed to find subservient emerging markets.
  • In these markets, China can park huge debts and make investments to keep feeding China’s high growth rates.
  • Friendly foreign debt-investment markets were needed to compensate for over-investment at home.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative was rolled out as a meeting point for China’s geo-strategic and geo-economic interests.
  • China has expanded its global footprint by signing on about 100 countries to the BRI.
  • China has made aggressive moves on most of its non-submissive neighbours in the South China Sea.
  • China has also made moves against its traditional rivals like Japan and Taiwan to independent-minded nations like South Korea and Australia.
  • China sees itself as a global power whose time has come.

India needs to play clearer role

  • Rise of China is shaking up global alignments and shaping new world order.
  • The Trump administration is increasingly being criticised for not providing global leadership.
  • India could afford to be largely non-aligned during the 20th century Cold War.
  • Our size and economic momentum necessitate that we play a clearer role in the Cold War’s 21st-century sequel.
  • India’s foreign policy has lacked a clear vision about China.
  • India has been deepening our strategic relationship with the US but without wanting to alarm China.

India’s relation with neighbours

  • India’s relations with other neighbouring nations have also become a cause of concern.
  • Pakistan has practically become a minion state for the Chinese – the $62-billion CPEC is a case in the point.
  • Nepal is no longer on our list of all-weather friends.
  • Chinese influence is growing in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — both signatories to the BRI.
  • And just last week, Beijing, sent another appallingly stern message to our loyal friend, Bhutan, by making ridiculous territorial claims.

What should be India’s plan of action

  • Dealing with China will require conviction and exercising a range of military, diplomatic and economic options.
  • One forum we need to build on and provide leadership to is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
  •  India should now propose the expansion of the Quad’s scope with a possible exploration of a collective defence architecture like NATO.
  • The membership of the Quad should be expanded to include Vietnam, South Korea, New Zealand, and Malaysia.
  • On the economic front, India must welcome the US proposal to expand G7 to include India, Russia, Australia and South Korea without China as a member.
  • Next area of focus should be strengthening ties with our neighbourhood.
  • Effort must be made to regain the relationship with Russia.

Conclusion

China must be made to choose: Is it willing to push the equally proud, equally numerous, equally historical and glorious civilisation to the south in this long-term direction for a few square kilometres of territory and a round of chest-thumping?

Electoral Reforms In India

Judiciary and criminalisation in politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The SC judgement

Mains level : Paper 2- Electoral reforms

This article discusses the issue of criminalisation in politics and the reasons for its persistence despite several judgements by the Supreme Courts to deal with the issue.

The Feb 2020 SC order

  • In a February 2020 judgement the Supreme Court has asked the political parties to state the reasons for the selection of candidates.
  • The Court also asked to specify as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.
  • If a political party fails to comply, it would be “… in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.”
  • The political party and its leadership would for the first time have to publicly own up to criminalisation of politics.
  • The judgment notes that “ in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them”.
  •  India is the only democratic country with a free press where we find a problem of this dimension.

What did the earlier orders require?

  • (a) each candidate shall submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details and criminal cases.
  • (b) each candidate shall inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her.
  • (c) the party shall put up on its website and on social media as well as publish in newspapers the names and details of such candidates.

Why the problem persists

  • Survey after survey show that people around the country are unhappy with the quality of governance.
  • Given limited choices, they vote as best as they can.
  • Meanwhile, electoral bonds bring secrecy back into political funding.
  • Several laws and court judgments have not helped much, as the data show.
  • There lack of enforcement of laws and judgments.
  • It is also not clear what penalty would be imposed if the recent orders are not followed.

Way forward

  •  Monitoring the affidavits of candidates can help in compliance.
  • Working with the EC to ensure that information is promptly available on their websites.
  • Widely circulating this information to voters using all the social media tools available.
  • Monitoring the compliance with the Supreme Court judgment to see if details of tainted candidates are promptly put up on their websites, and on their social media handles, along with proper reasons for giving them ticket.
  • Voters also need to be vigilant about misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections.
  • The waters will be muddied with fake news, trolling, and fanciful claims, concerted efforts to tackle the menace of fake news are required.

Consider the question “Despite several judgements from the Supreme Court the issue of criminalisation in politics still persists. Examine the reasons for the persistence of the issues. Suggest the measures to deal with the issues.”

Conclusion

we may not see dramatic changes in the quality of candidates. Campaigns may continue to be more and more personal and even abusive. But all these steps are required, however insignificant they may seem.

Contention over South China Sea

Malabar Naval Exercise to include Australia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : QSD, Malabar Exercise

Mains level : Global move to curb Chinese overambitions

India has finally planned to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise that has so far included just Japan and the U.S., in a move that could risk China’s ire.

Go through the list for once. UPSC may ask a match the pair type question asking exercise name and countries involved.

[Prelims Spotlight] Defence Exercises

About Ex. Malabar

  • Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
  • Originally begun in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
  • Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
  • The annual Malabar series began in 1992 and includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through Maritime Interdiction Operations Exercises.

Significance of Australia’s inclusion

  • Earlier, India had concerns that it would give the appearance of a “quadrilateral military alliance” aimed at China.
  • Now both look forward to the cooperation in the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and the strengthening of defence ties.
  • This has led to a convergence of mutual interest in many areas for a better understanding of regional and global issues.
  • Both are expected to conclude the long-pending Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) as part of measures to elevate the strategic partnership.

Back2Basics: Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD)

  • The QSD is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills between member countries.
  • The forum was initiated as a dialogue in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, with the support of Vice President Dick Cheney of the US, PM John Howard of Australia and PM Manmohan Singh of India.
  • The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar.
  • The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to it by issuing formal diplomatic protest.
  • The QSD was recently revived considering the tensions in the South China Sea caused primarily by China and its territorial ambitions.

J&K – The issues around the state

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNCAT, ICCPR

Mains level : UN intervention in Kashmir

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs have made public their third communication forwarded to India expressing concern over alleged excessive use of force, ill-treatment during arrests and detentions.

Practice question for mains:

Q.There is an urgent need for reforming the criminal justice system in India in light of rising cases of custodial torture and killings. Comment.

What is the issue?

The UN urged the Indian government to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment and to prosecute suspected perpetrators under articles 6 and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and articles 7 and 12 of the Committee Against Torture (CAT).

What are the conventions cited by the UN?

1) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

  • The ICCPR is a multilateral treaty adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution on 16 December 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976.
  • The covenant commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
  • As of September 2019, the Covenant has 173 parties and six more signatories without ratification.
  • It is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • It is monitored by the UN Human Rights Committee (a separate body to the UN Human Rights Council).

2) United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)

  • The UNCAT is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the UN and was adopted in 1984.
  • It aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • The convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • Since the convention’s entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary international law.

3) The Committee against Torture (CAT)

  • It is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties.
  • The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.
  • All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented.
  • Upon ratifying the Convention, states must submit a report within one year, after which they are obliged to report every four years.
  • The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations.”
  • Under certain circumstances, the CAT may consider complaints or communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

UAE in support of Open Skies Agreement with India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Open Sky Agreements, OST

Mains level : Not Much

The UAE is keen to have an open sky agreement with India.

Open Skies Agreement! Look how confusing does it sound compared to the Open Skies Treaty between the US and Russia.

What is the Open Skies Agreement?

  • The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, allows the government to enter into an ‘open sky’ air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000-kilometre radius from New Delhi.
  • This implies that nations within this distance need to enter into a bilateral agreement and mutually determine the number of flights that their airlines can operate between the two countries.
  • India has open sky agreements with Japan, Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka.
  • India also has an open sky agreement with the US, among other countries.

Why UAE wants such an agreement with India?

  • There are about 1,068 flights a week between India and the UAE operated by the airlines of the two countries under the bilateral Air Service Agreement.
  • India has open skies policy with SAARC countries and those beyond the 5,000-km radius.
  • UAE wants India to revisit this policy.

Must read:

U.S. set to exit the ‘Open Skies Treaty’ Copy

Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[pib] Mongolian Kanjur Manuscripts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mongolian Kanjur 

Mains level : Buddhist literature

The Ministry of Culture has taken up the project of reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur under the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM).  The first sets of five volumes were presented to the President of India.

Try this question from CSP 2011:

Q.India maintained its early cultural contacts and trade links with Southeast Asia across the Bay of Bengal. For this preeminence of early maritime history of Bay of Bengal, which of the following could be the most convincing explanation/explanations?

(a) As compared to other countries, India had a better ship-building technology in ancient and medieval times.

(b) The rulers of southern India always patronized traders, Brahmin priests and Buddhist monks in this context.

(c) Monsoon winds across the Bay of Bengal facilitated sea voyages.

(d) Both (a) and (b) are convincing explanations in this context.

Mongolian Kanjur

  • Mongolian Kanjur, the Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes is considered to be the most important religious text in Mongolia.
  • In the Mongolian language ‘Kanjur’ means ‘Concise Orders’- the words of Lord Buddha in particular. It has been translated from Tibetan.
  • It is held in high esteem by the Mongolian Buddhists and they worship the Kanjur at temples and recite the lines of Kanjur in daily life as a sacred ritual.
  • The Kanjur is kept almost in every monastery in Mongolia.
  • The language of the Kanjur is Classical Mongolian and it is a source of providing a cultural identity to Mongolia.

About National Mission for Manuscripts

  • The Mission was launched in February 2003 under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with the mandate of documenting, conserving and disseminating the knowledge preserved in the manuscripts.
  • One of the objectives of the mission is to publish rare and unpublished manuscripts so that the knowledge enshrined in them is spread to researchers, scholars and the general public at large.
  • Under this scheme, reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur has been taken up by the Mission.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] Rewa Solar Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rewa Solar Plant

Mains level : Solar tariff issues in India

The PM has inaugurated the 750 MW Solar Project set up at Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. The term ‘Domestic Content Requirement’ is sometimes seen in the news with reference to-

(a) Developing solar power production in our country

(b) Granting licences to foreign T.V. channels in our country

(c) Exporting our food products to other countries

(d) Permitting foreign educational institutions to set up their campuses in our country

Rewa Solar Project

  • This project comprises of three solar generating units of 250 MW each located on a 500-hectare plot of land situated inside a Solar Park (total area 1500 hectare).
  • The Solar Park was developed by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), a Joint Venture Company of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVN), and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a PSU.
  • The Project was the first solar project in the country to break the grid parity barrier.
  • This project will reduce carbon emission equivalent to approx. 15 lakh ton of CO2 per year.

Tariff management

  • Compared to prevailing solar project tariffs of approx. Rs. 4.50/unit in early 2017, the Rewa project achieved historic results.
  • It has a first-year tariff of Rs. 2.97/unit with a tariff escalation of Rs. 0.05/unit over 15 years and a levelized rate of Rs. 3.30/unit over the term of 25 years.

Significance of the project

  • The project is also the first renewable energy project to supply to an institutional customer outside the State.
  • The Delhi Metro will get 24% of energy from the project with the remaining 76% being supplied to the State DISCOMs of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Project also exemplifies India’s commitment to attaining the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by the year 2022; including 100 GW of solar installed capacity.

History- Important places, persons in news

Who was Herbert Kleber?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Herbert Kleber and his work

Mains level : NA

With today’s doodle, Google is remembering Dr Herbert David Kleber, who reframed the field of addiction treatment.

Try this question from CSP 2016:

A recent movie titled The Man Who Knew Infinity is based on the biography of-

(a) S. Ramanujan
(b) S. Chandrasekhar
(c) S. N. Bose
(d) C. V. Raman

Herbert Kleber

  • Born on June 19, 1934, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr Kleber studied medicine, where he discovered that psychology was his calling.
  • He viewed addiction as a medical condition rather than a moral failure.
  • He spent years treating people with drug addiction and realized that the treatment needed a new approach backed by scientific research.
  • His new methods of treatment gained an appreciation and he was appointed as the deputy director for demand reduction at the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the then U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
  • He headed many projects on developing new methods to treat individuals with alcohol, cocaine, heroin and alcohol addictions.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Rewriting the social contract to deal with the pandemic

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gini coefficient

Mains level : Paper 2- Governance in pandemic, role of the government,

The article examines the theoretical basis on which the governments exercise power. That basis is encapsulated in the ‘social contract theory’. The role of government, however, came under the scanner in the pandemic in which the impact of pandemic was different for the different people.

Social contract theory: Then and now

  • In the course of evolution, formed the concept of social groups and resultant rules they would abide by.
  • This is the most rudimentary form of what is known as the ‘social contract theory’.
  • When monarchies and empires prevailed, it was easy to understand a social contract.
  • But democratically elected governments have found it more difficult to derive the same legitimacy.
  • Modern society and modern governments also use the social contract theory to claim legitimacy for their actions.
  • The social contract comprises people agreeing to live as one under common laws and in enforcing those common laws justly.

Modern-day governments’ approach

  • Modern-day governments fundamental credo is that society is best served if a government takes on an executive or sovereign power, with the consent of the people.
  • Governments also use the power democratically invested in them to decide what is in the best interest of the people.
  • Thus, there is a bending of individual free will towards the collective will.
  • So, the social contract is being used by modern governments to justify greater aggrandisement of power in the hands of the sovereign.

Governments role in pandemic and social contract

  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the falsity of this image.
  • Access to information about this pandemic has not been equal.
  • Access to resources to avoid the disease has not been equal.
  • And, of course, access to treatment has not been equal.
  • All this led to uneven impact of the pandemic on people belonging to the different strata of the society.

Inequality and the impact of pandemic

  •  All societies have some measure of inequality.
  • However, in deeply unequal societies, where the Gini Coefficient exceeds 0.4, for instance, different strata of society will have very different needs to deal with a crisis of this nature.
  • We have seen societies with lower Gini Coefficients deal with the crisis far better.
  • This is because a uniform approach works perfectly when society is perfectly equal.

Centralised or decentralised approach: Which is better to deal with pandemic?

  • The social contract which imbues a centralised sovereign with overreaching powers has clearly failed on this occasion.
  • The centralised sovereign will work well against a mighty external aggressor, but not against a microscopic pathogen.
  • What is required is not just a decentralised approach but also a state which is sensitive.

Consider the question “The COVID pandemic has impacted the people with varying intensity and its impact was more on societies with more inequality. This highlights the centrality of the government. Critically examine.”

Conclusion

The novel coronavirus cannot be defeated by a centralised government. COVID-19 can only be defeated by an empowered populace. The social contract requires to be rewritten. It does not require anything drastic such as a revolution or anarchy. Rather, it only needs fundamental introspection and rethinking by the governing classes including bureaucrats.

Digital India Initiatives

Digitising the state

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Overhauling India's digital payments, accounting and transactions.

This article examines the issues with governments account problems and their implications. It also suggests the ways to deal with the problems with data management in India.It is is line with the suggestions made by the CAG in this regard.

Problem with government account keeping

  • The Union budget grew from Rs 197 crore in 1947 to Rs 30 lakh crore last year.
  • Total government expenditure may be higher than Rs 70 lakh crore. (states+union)
  • But the form and manner of keeping accounts have more or less remained unchanged since Independence.
  • Manual transactions and manual payments often lead to manually entered data at different stages in different databases on different systems.
  • This makes data unreliable, violates the principle of “single source of truth”.
  • This also sabotages transparency and good governance.

Issues with computerisation by government

  • Government “computerisation” has often mechanised manual processes rather than “re-engineered processes”.
  • This has created siloed IT systems.
  • It has created various separate databases that lack modern data sharing protocols for organic linking like APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
  • It leaves fiscal data being incomparable as basic as salary expenditure across states.
  • It creates the problem of obscurity in which large expenditures are booked under omnibus head called other.
  • Non-traceable actual expenditure against temporary advances drawn or funds drawn on contingent bills.
  • It creates the problem of misclassification so that grants in aid is classified as capital expenditure and bookings under suspense heads.

3 Steps to deal with the issues

1)  100% end-to-end data capture

  • All receipts and expenditure transactions including demands, assessment, and invoices should be received, processed, and paid electronically.

2)  Data governance for standards

  •  Data standards are rules for describing and recording data elements with precise meanings that enable integration, sharing, and interoperability.
  • Prescribing data elements for all transactions will ensure standardisation.
  • This standardisation will clarify ambiguity, minimise redundant data, and create protocols for integration across different databases across entities receiving government funds.
  • It will also integrate entities collecting revenues on behalf of the government, and those discharging core functions on behalf of the government.
  • Government-wide data standards coupled with real-time data captured end-to-end will enable the use of cognitive intelligence tools like analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning.
  • These tools, will support the establishment of budget baselines, detecting anomalies, data-driven project/activity costing, performance comparisons across departments and agencies, and benchmarking.

3) Technology architecture

  • The element of technology architecture must ensure that all IT government systems should conform to a prescribed open architecture framework.
  • This framework should ensure robust security and maintaining privacy.

How will these 3 steps help

  • It will help in recognising off-budget transactions, the last Union budget took steps towards this fiscal transparency and consolidation.
  • These steps will ensure business continuity: electronic records cannot be lost or misplaced like files or paper records.
  • It will also provide an incontrovertible audit trail.
  • It will enable Parliament and legislatures to draw “assurance” that each rupee due to the government has been collected, and each rupee has been spent for the purpose it was allocated.

Consider the question “Government expenditure has increased manifold since 1947 but the form and manner of keeping data have remained more or less the same. In light of this examine the issues with payments, accounting and transactions data system of the government. Suggest the measures to improve it.”

Conclusion

A citizen-centric view of a single source of truth encompassing every rupee of public money would make the 299 remarkable people who wrote India’s Constitution proud of this 21st-century citizen empowerment innovation.

NPA Crisis

What is a Bad Bank, and why is a proposal to set it up being floated?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bad Banks

Mains level : Asset reconstructions post NPA buzz

The idea of setting up a bad bank often comes up for debate, especially when stress in the banking sector is projected to rise in the near term.

Practice question for mains:

Q. What is a Bad Bank? Discuss how it can rescue the covid induced bad loans in India.

COVID induced NPAs

  • Several economists and agencies project a recession in the Indian economy this year, due to the adverse effects of Covid-19 on economic activity.
  • This will hit the banking and financial sector in particular, as a slump in earnings of companies and individuals could lead to a jump in NPAs, reversing the early trends.
  • Various analysts suggest that in a couple of years, the proportion of stressed assets in the banking system could jump to as high as 18 per cent from around 11 per cent at present.
  • To tackle this upcoming challenge, the banking industry has proposed the setting up of a government-backed bad bank.

What is the Bad Bank?

  • A bad bank is a bank set up to buy the bad loans and other illiquid holdings of another financial institution.
  • The entity holding significant NPAs will sell these holdings to the bad bank at market price.
  • By transferring such assets to the bad bank, the original institution may clear its balance sheet—although it will still be forced to take write-downs.
  • A bad bank structure may also assume the risky assets of a group of financial institutions, instead of a single bank.

What is the recent proposal of a bad bank?

  • The banking sector, led by the Indian Banks Association (IBA), had in May submitted a proposal for setting up a bad bank to the finance ministry and the RBI.
  • The IBA proposed for having equity contribution from the government and the banks.
  • This was based on an idea proposed by a panel on faster resolution of stressed assets in public sector banks headed by former PNB Chairman Sunil Mehta.
  • This panel had proposed an asset management company (AMC), ‘Sashakt India Asset Management’, for resolving large bad loans two years ago.
  • There were talks about creating a bad bank in 2018 too, but it never took shape.

What kind of NPA spike is expected during this outbreak?

  • The impact of Covid-19 and the associated policy response is likely to result in an additional Rs 1,67,000 crore of debt from the top 500 debt-heavy private sector borrowers turning delinquent between FY21 and FY22.
  • Given that 11.57 per cent of the outstanding debt is already stressed, the proportion of stressed debt is likely to increase to 18.21 per cent of the outstanding quantum.

What is the government’s view over Bad Banks?

  • While the finance ministry has not formally submitted its view on the proposal, senior officials have indicated that it is not keen to infuse equity capital into a bad bank.
  • The government’s view is that bad loan resolution should happen in a market-led way, as there are many asset reconstruction companies already operating in the private space.
  • The government has significantly capitalized state-owned banks in recent years and pursued consolidation in the PSU banking space.
  • In the last three financial years, the government has infused equity of Rs 2.65 lakh crore into state-owned banks.
  • These steps, along with insolvency resolution under the IBC, are seen as adequate to tackle the challenge of bad loans.

What is the RBI view?

  • The RBI has so far never come out favourably about the creation of a bad bank with other commercial banks as main promoters.
  • Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had opposed the idea of setting up a bad bank with a majority stake by banks, arguing it would solve nothing.
  • Rajan argued that a government-funded bad bank would just shift loans “from one government pocket (the public sector banks) to another (the bad bank) and did not see how it would improve matters”.
  • Indeed, if the bad bank were in the public sector, the reluctance to act would merely be shifted to the bad bank.
  • Alternatively, if the bad bank were to be in the private sector, the reluctance of public sector banks to sell loans to the bad bank at a significant haircut would still prevail.

Alternatives to a bad bank

  • Many experts argue that the enactment of IBC has reduced the need for having a bad bank, as a transparent and open process is available for all lenders to attempt insolvency resolution.
  • The view is that an IBC-led resolution, or sale of bad loans to ARCs already existing, is a better approach to tackle the NPA problem rather than a government-funded bad bank.

Former RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya has proposed two models:

1) Private Asset Management Company

  • The first model is a Private Asset Management Company (PAMC) which would be suitable for sectors where the stress is such that assets are likely to have economic value in the short run, with moderate levels of debt forgiveness.

2) Setting up National Asset Management Company (NAMC)

  • The second model is a NAMC for sectors where the problem is not just of excess capacity, but possibly also of economically unviable assets in the short- to medium-term, such as in the power sector.
  • The NAMC would raise debt for its financing needs, keep a minority equity stake for the government, and bring in asset managers such as ARCs and private equity to manage and turn around the assets.

Electoral Reforms In India

Postal Ballots in Elections

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Postal ballot

Mains level : Ensuring transparency in elections

The Election Commission has announced that it will allow those above the age of 65 as well as those under home or institutional quarantine to vote using postal ballots during the Bihar elections. Opposition parties are unhappy with the move and termed it unconstitutional.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
  2. Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
  3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognized political parties.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 3 only

What is Postal Voting?

  • A restricted set of voters can exercise postal voting.
  • Through this facility, a voter can cast her vote remotely by recording her preference on the ballot paper and sending it back to the election officer before counting.

Who can avail of this facility?

  • Members of the armed forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force, members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state), government employees posted outside India and their spouses are entitled to vote only by post.
  • In other words, they can’t vote in person. Voters under preventive detention can also vote only by post.
  • Special voters such as the President of India, Vice President, Governors, Union Cabinet ministers, Speaker of the House and government officers on poll duty have the option to vote by post.
  • But they have to apply through a prescribed form to avail this facility.

What about absentee voters?

  • Recently, the Law Ministry, at the Election Commission’s behest, introduced a new category of ‘absentee voters’, who can now also opt for postal voting.
  • These are voters employed in essential services and unable to cast their vote due to their service conditions.
  • Currently, officials of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Northern Railway (Passenger and Freight) Services and media persons are notified as absentee voters.
  • Last month, senior citizens above the age of 65 and voters who test positive for COVID19 or are suspected to be COVID-affected were allowed to cast their vote by post.

How are votes recorded by post?

  • The Returning Officer is supposed to print ballot papers within 24 hours of the last date of nomination withdrawal and dispatch them within a day.
  • This is done so that the ballot papers reach the concerned voter well before the polling date and she has enough time to send it back before the counting day.
  • Postal ballot papers for members of the Armed Forces are sent through their record offices.
  • For members of the armed police force of a state (serving outside the state), government employees posted outside India and their spouses, the ballot paper can be sent through post or electronically.
  • For remaining categories ballot papers can be delivered personally or through the post.

Why political parties are divided over postal ballots?

  • Opposition parties are not against postal ballots.
  • They have objected to the EC’s decision to allow voters aged 65 and above and those infected or suspected to be infected with COVID19 to vote via postal ballots.
  • This change was effected without consulting political parties.
  • They fear that the move will lead to malpractices and foul play by those parties which are in power and having resources.

Issues with the recent move

  • Allowing those aged 65 and above to vote by postal ballot violates secrecy in voting as a large segment of the population is uneducated and they might seek assistance from others.
  • This will end up disclosing their preferred candidate.
  • This also exposes them to “administrative influence or influence by the Government or the ruling party”.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Lithium Nucleosynthesis in Stars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lithium, Nucleosynthesis, Big Bang

Mains level : Formation of stars

A forty-year-old puzzle regarding the production of lithium in stars has been solved by Indian researchers.

Try this question from CSP 2013:

Q.Consider the following phenomena:

  1. Size of the sun at dusk
  2. Colour of the sun at dawn
  3. Moon being visible at dawn
  4. Twinkle of stars in the sky
  5. Polestar being visible in the sky

Which of the above are optical illusions?

(a) 1, 2 and 3

(b) 3, 4 and 5

(c) 1, 2 and 4

(d) 2, 3 and 5

Lithium nucleosynthesis in Stars

  • Stars, as per known mechanisms of evolution, actually destroy lithium as they evolve into red giants.
  • Planets were known to have more lithium than their stars — as is the case with the Earth-Sun pair.
  • However, leading to a contradiction, some stars were found that were lithium-rich.
  • The new work by an Indian researcher shows that when stars grow beyond their Red Giant stage into what is known as the Red Clump stage, they produce lithium.
  • This is known as a Helium Flash and this is what enriches them with lithium.

Studying lithium-rich stars

  • About 40 years ago, a few large stars were spotted that were lithium-rich.
  • This was followed by further discoveries of lithium-rich stars, and that posed a puzzle — if stars do not produce lithium, how do some stars develop to become lithium-rich.
  • The planet engulfment theory was quite popular. For example, Earth-like planets may increase the star’s lithium content when they plunge into [their] star’s atmosphere when the latter become Red Giants.

Findings of the Indian research

  • Indian researchers have been working on this puzzle for nearly 20 years to devise a method of measuring lithium content using low-resolution spectra in a large number of stars.
  • The study demonstrated that lithium abundance enhancement among low mass giant stars is common.
  • Until now, it was believed that only about 1% of giants are lithium-rich.
  • Secondly, the team has shown that as the star evolves beyond the Red Giant stage, and before it reaches the Red Clump stage, there is a helium flash which produces an abundance of lithium.

Back2Basics: Lithium

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • S light element commonly used today in communication device technology, it has an interesting story.
  • It was first produced in the Big Bang, around 13.7 billion years ago when the universe came into being, along with other elements.
  • While the abundance of other elements grew millions of times, the present abundance of lithium in the universe is only four times the original [Big Bang] value. It is actually destroyed in the stars.
  • The Sun, for instance, has about a factor of 100 lower amount of lithium than the Earth.

Tax Reforms

What is Equalization Levy?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Equalization Levy

Mains level : E-commerce and its taxation

The government is not considering extending the deadline for payment of Equalization Levy by non-resident e-commerce players, even though a majority of them are yet to deposit the first instalment of the tax.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Equalization Levy sometimes seen in news is related to:

a) E-commerce

b) Air Travel

c) Imports Substitution

d) None of these

What is Equalization Levy?

  • Equalization Levy was introduced in India in 2016, with the intention of taxing the digital transactions i.e. the income accruing to foreign e-commerce companies from India.
  • It is aimed at taxing business to business transactions.

The following services are currently covered under the EL:

  1. Online advertisement;
  2. Any provision for digital advertising space or facilities/ service for the purpose of online advertisement;

Applicability

Equalization Levy is a direct tax, which is withheld at the time of payment by the service recipient. The two conditions to be met to be liable to the levy:

  • The payment should be made to a non-resident service provider;
  • The annual payment made to one service provider exceeds Rs. 1,00,000 in one financial year.

Why it was introduced in India?

  • Over the last decade, IT has gone through an exponential expansion phase in India and globally.
  • This has led to an increase in the supply and procurement of digital services.
  • Consequently, this has given rise to various new business models, where there is a heavy reliance on digital and telecommunication networks.
  • As a result, the new business models have come with a set of new tax challenges in terms of nexus, characterization and valuation of data and user contribution.
  • To bring in clarity in this regard, the government introduced in the Budget 2016, the equalization levy.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Patrolling Points along LAC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Patrolling points, Galwan River

Mains level : India-China border skirmishes and its de-escalation

The standoffs between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where initial steps towards disengagement have taken place, are around a number of patrolling points or PPs in Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra areas.

Do you know?

The Galwan River flows from the Aksai Chin region occupied by China in the UT of Ladakh.  It originates in the area of Samzungling on the eastern side of the Karakoram Range and flows west to join the Shyok River.  It is one of the upstream tributaries of the Indus River.

What exactly are Patrolling Points?

  • PPs are patrolling points identified and marked on the LAC, which are patrolled with a stipulated frequency by the security forces.
  • They serve as a guide to the location of the LAC for the soldiers, acting as indicators of the extent of ‘actual control’ exercised on the territory by India.
  • By regularly patrolling up to these PPs, the Indian side is able to establish and assert its physical claim about the LAC.

Are all the Patrolling Points numbered?

  • Some of the PPs are prominent and identifiable geographical features, such as a pass, or a nala junction where no numerals are given.
  • Only those PPs, where there are no prominent features, are numbered as in the case of PP14 in Galwan Valley.

Do all Patrolling Points fall on the LAC?

  • Mostly, yes. Except for the Depsang plains in northern Ladakh, where PP10, PP11, PP11A, PP12 and PP13 – from Raki Nala to Jivan Nala – do not fall on the LAC.
  • These are short of the LAC, on the Indian side.

Are these Patrolling Points not manned?

  • The PPs are not posts and thus not manned. Unlike on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the border with China is not physically held by the Army all along.
  • They are just physical markers on the ground, chosen for their location and have no defensive potential or tactical importance for the Army.

How is the claim asserted on LAC?

  • The claim is asserted by the Army or joint Army-ITBP patrols as they show more visible presence in these areas.
  • This is done by physically visiting PPs with a higher frequency, as the deployment has moved closer to the LAC and due to improved infrastructure.
  • As the Chinese may not see when the Indian patrols visit these PPs, they will leave come cigarette packets or food tins with Indian markings behind.
  • That lets the Chinese know that Indian soldiers had visited the place, which indicates that India was in control of these areas.

Who has given these Patrolling Points?

  • These PPs have been identified by the high-powered China Study Group, starting from 1975 when patrolling limits for Indian forces were specified.
  • It is based on the LAC after the government accepted the concept in 1993, which is also marked on the maps with the Army in the border areas.
  • But the frequency of patrolling to PPs is not specified by the CSG – it is finalised by the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, based on the recommendations made by the Army and ITBP.

PP under dispute

  • PPs 10 to 13 in Depsang sector, PP14 in Galwan, PP15 in Hot Spring, and PP17 and PP17A in Gogra are currently being disputed by both sides, where the standoffs have taken place in the past nine weeks.

Housing for all – PMAY, etc.

[pib] Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) for Urban Migrants / Poor

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), AHRC

Mains level : Housing for all

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for developing of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs). for urban migrants  / poor.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

“Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojna’ has been launched for

(a) Providing housing loan to poor people at cheaper interest rates

(b) Promoting women’s Self-Help Groups in backward areas

(c) Promoting financial inclusion in the country

(d) Providing financial help to the marginalized communities

AHRC

  • It is a sub-scheme under PM Awas Yojana – Urban.
  • Under the scheme, existing vacant government-funded housing complexes will be converted in ARHCs through Concession Agreements for 25 years.
  • The concessionaire will make the complexes livable by repair/retrofit and maintenance of rooms and filling up infrastructure gaps like water, sewer/ septage, sanitation, road etc.
  • States/UTs will select concessionaire through transparent bidding.
  • Complexes will revert to ULB after 25 years to restart next cycle like earlier or run on their own.

Beneficiaries of the scheme

  • A large part of the workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, domestic/commercial establishments, and construction or other sectors, labourers, students etc. who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities will be the target beneficiary under ARHCs.

Benefits of AHRCs

  • Usually, these migrants live in slums, informal/ unauthorized colonies or peri-urban areas to save rental charges.
  • They spend a lot of time on roads by walking/ cycling to workplaces, risking their lives to cut on the expenses.
  • ARHCs will create a new ecosystem in urban areas making housing available at affordable rent close to the place of work.
  • Investment under ARHCs is expected to create new job opportunities.
  • ARHCs will cut down unnecessary travel, congestion and pollution.

Back2Basics: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)

PMAY-Urban

The PMAY- Urban Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.

PMAY-Rural

  • In pursuance to the goal – Housing for all by 2022, the rural housing scheme Indira Awas Yojana has been revamped to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin and approved during March 2016.
  • Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of a pucca house to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses.
  • It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house under the project during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
  • The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except for Delhi and Chandigarh. The cost of houses would be shared between the Centre and States.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] Central Sector Scheme: Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSS-AIF

Mains level : AIF

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to a new pan India Central Sector Scheme-Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (CSS-AIF).

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.Increase in absolute and per capita real GNP does not connote a higher level of economic development, if:

(a) Industrial output fails to keep pace with agriculture output.

(b) Agriculture output fails to keep pace with industrial output.

(c) Poverty and unemployment increase.

(d) Imports grow faster than exports.

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

  • AIF aims to provide a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
  • Under the scheme, Rs. One Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans.
  • The beneficiaries will include Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), SHGs, Farmers etc among others.
  • The moratorium for repayment under this financing facility may vary subject to a minimum of 6 months and maximum of 2 years.

Management of AIF

  • Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feedback.
  • The duration of the Scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).

Benefits of the scheme

  • The Project by way of facilitating formal credit to farm and farm processing-based activities is expected to create numerous job opportunities in rural areas.
  • It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for a loan under the fund.

Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMGKAY

Mains level : Assurance of Food Security

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) as part of Economic Response to COVID-19, for another five months from July to November 2020.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss how the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has helped to ensure food security to the vulnerable sections of India during the Covid-19 induced lockdown period.

PM- Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

  • Under the scheme it is proposed to distribute 9.7 Lakh MT cleaned whole Chana to States/UTs for distribution to all beneficiary households under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
  • Thus it would 1kg per month free of cost under for the next five months -July to November 2020.
  • All expenses on the extended PMGKAY are to be borne by the Central Government.
  • About 19.4 crore households would be covered under the Scheme.

Benefits of the scheme

  • Extension of the scheme is in line with the commitments of the GOI to allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of food grains due to disruption during next five months.
  • Free distribution of whole Chana will also ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals during these five months.

Contention over South China Sea

What India should do as a stakeholder in South China Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nine dash line

Mains level : Paper 2-Pushback against China in South China Sea

There is growing pushback from the South China Sea littoral countries against Chinese aggressive behaviour. And as a stakeholder, India should consider the options to assert its rights there.

Legality of China’s ‘nine-dash line’

  • The Philippines invoked the dispute settlement mechanism of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013.
  • Philippines contest the legality of China’s ‘nine-dash line’ regarding the disputed Spratlys.
  • In response, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague decreed that the line had “no legal basis.”
  • China dismissed the judgment as “null and void.”
  • China dismissed the award as “a political farce under the pretext of law.”

Let’s analyse the PCA verdict

  • Verdict held that none of the features of the Spratlys qualified them as islands.
  • There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights.
  • The UNCLOS provides that islands must sustain habitation and the capacity for non-extractive economic activity.
  • Verdict implied that China violated the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

How ASEAN countries are dealing with China

  • Given the power equations, the Philippines did not press for enforcement of the award and acquiesced in the status quo.
  • Not one country challenged China, which agreed to settle disputes bilaterally, and to continue work on a Code of Conduct with countries of the ASEAN.
  • In reality, there is a growing discontent against China.
  • While avoiding military confrontation with China, they are seeking political insurance, strengthening their navies, and deepening their military relationships with the U.S.
  • The Philippines and the ASEAN’s protest is new for China.
  • This does China little credit, and points to its growing isolation.

Instances of  pushback from ASEAN countries

  • Indonesia protested to China about Chinese vessels trespassing into its waters close to the Nantua islands.
  • The Philippines protested to China earlier this year about violations of Filipino sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
  • It also extended the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. which is a strategic setback for China.
  • The Philippines also wrote to the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) in March disputing China’s claim of “historic rights in the South China Sea.”
  • Indonesia too wrote to the UNSG on this issue.
  • It expressed support for compliance with international law, particularly the UNCLOS, as also for the PCA’s 2016 ruling.

India as a stakeholder

  • India’s foreign and security policy in its larger neighbourhood covers the entire expanse of the Asia-Pacific and extends to the Persian Gulf and West Asia.
  • India straddles, and is the fulcrum of, the region between the Suez and Shanghai.
  • The South China Sea carries merchandise to and from India.
  • It follows that India has a stake in the SCS, just as China has in the Indian Ocean.

What should be India’s response

  • India must continue to actively pursue its defence diplomacy outreach in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • As a part of this outreach, India should increase military training and conduct exercises and exchanges at a higher level of complexity.
  • India should extend Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief activities.
  • India should share patrolling of the Malacca Strait with the littoral countries.
  • The Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships could be extended to Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.
  • India must also strengthen the military capacity of the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command. 

Consider the question “The South China Sea is important not just to its littoral countries but to the others as well. But China’s growing inclination to change the status quo there harms the interests of other stakeholders. In light of this suggest the relevant options that India could exercise.”

Conclusion

As a stakeholder in the South China Sea India must explore all the options at its disposal and try to foster respect for international law and rules-based global order.


Back2Basics: Nine-dash line

 

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

Analysing the impact of reservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 16 (4A)

Mains level : Paper 2- Reservations and issues with it

Provision of reservation has helped in correcting the historical injustice in some way. However, the recent decline in government jobs and policy changes could undermine the provision of reservation.

How reservation helped SCs and OBCs: Some figures

  • In the Central Administrative Services, SCs reached 14 per cent of the Class C in 1984.
  • They reached 14.3 per cent of Class B in 2003.
  • In Class C,13.3 per cent in 2015.
  • In the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), their proportion rose from 14.6 per cent in 2004 to 18.1 per cent in 2014.
  • In parallel, the SCs’ literacy rate jumped from 21.38 per cent in 1981 to 66.1 per cent in 2011.
  •  After the Mandal Commission report was implemented, OBCs started to benefit from it.
  • In 2013, OBCs – 52 per cent of India’s population according to the Mandal report – represented 8.37 per cent of Class A in the Central Government Services, 10.01 per cent of Class B and 17.98 per cent of Class C.
  • Their percentage in the CPSEs jumped from 16.6 per cent in 2004 to 28.5 per cent in 2014.

Number of jobs declining

  • First, the number of vacancies has surged, from 5.5 lakh in 2006 to 7.5 lakh in 2014 so far as central government employment is concerned.
  • Second, the total number of employees has dropped between 2003 and 2012, from 32.69 lakh to 26.30 lakh in the Central Government Services.
  • The number of Dalits benefiting from reservations has been reduced by 16 per cent from 5.40 lakh to 4.55 lakh.
  • While the number of OBCs benefiting from reservations had jumped from 14.89 lakh in 2008 to 23.55 lakh in 2012, it has dropped to 23.38 lakh the year after.
  • Reservations have also been undermined by lateral entry into the bureaucracy.
  • This new procedure undermined the reservations system because the quotas did not apply.

Judgements that affect the idea of reservation

  • In one judgment the UGC was allowed to shift the unit of provision of reservations from a university as a whole to the departmental level.
  • Such a shift has reduced the quantum of reserved seats and restricted the entry of lower castes.
  • Small departments, where vacancies are few, would be indivisible — thereby no seats would be reserved.
  • As a result, only 2.5 per cent posts were reserved for SCs, none for STs and 8 per cent for OBCs.
  • However, the impact of the ordinance and the subsequent Bill passed by the Parliament in March and July 2019, reversing the Supreme Court’s judgment, is yet to be seen.
  • In another judgement, Supreme Court ruled that reservation in job promotions was not a fundamental right.
  • This ruling undermined the effect of an amendment to the Constitution that had been introduced by the Narasimha Rao government in 1995 and that had resulted in article 16(4A).
  • Article 16(4A) had circumvented a facet of the 1992 decision of the Supreme Court to allow reservation for SCs and STs in promotions.
  • In 2001 the 85th amendment extended the benefit of reservations in favour of the SCs/STs in matters of promotion with consequential seniority.
  • This time, in 2020, the Government of India has decided not to contest the decision of the Supreme Court.

Policy changes that affect the reservation

  • The National Commission for Backward Classes has issued a notice to the health ministry complaining that the post-Mandal 27 per cent quota was not implemented systematically.
  • The funds earmarked for Dalit education in the Indian budget were reduced by the previous government.
  • While this budget item, within the Special Component Plan is supposed to be proportional to the demographic weight of the Dalits, 16.6 per cent, it fluctuated between 9 and 6.5 per cent.

Conclusion

Reservations have been one of the most effective techniques of positive discrimination in India and helped in the goal of delivering social justice. So, any policy that affects it must be reconsidered.