News & Events
in this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The livemint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition.
1.Jeff Bezos lets go; To create a Himalaya?
American tech billionaires tend to do what eastern spiritual masters urge, without visible impact on local business leaders: let go. Bill Gates left active leadership of the company he co-founded and led, Microsoft, early on. Sergey Brin and Larry Page had not quite entered their dotage when they handed over Google to a professional manager. Now, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, whose divorce settlement has permitted his ex-wife to become one of the world’s most prolific givers to good causes, has given up running his company and decided to become executive chairman. He is not exactly riding off into the sunset but will no longer be centre-stage in the ecommerce giant. Even if he does not quite take off for Mars in a Blue Origin rocket, this is quite dramatic.
Bezos says he wants to focus on interests beyond ecommerce. Besides his space enterprise, he has other ventures, including a climate initiative and The Washington Post. However, it would not be surprising if Bezos comes up with something altogether new, an unknown unknown, with his new portfolio of innovation at Amazon. The division that was founded to help store and manage data for the ecommerce operation, the cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services became the biggest money spinner for Amazon, and the man who ran it, Andy Jassy is the nominated new CEO. Few would have imagined that an enabling ancillary division would evolve into a very profitable stand-alone business.
That could well happen again, if delivery robots and drones that Amazon is toying with access superior artificial intelligence via zero-latency communications on a 5G network. Indian entrepreneurs could also see letting go as a new chapter of entrepreneurship rather than as retirement.
2.Shot in the arm for banking reform
The budget proposals to strengthen public sector banks (PSBs) are welcome. On the one hand, they seek to relieve banks of their bad loan burden by setting up an asset reconstruction company (ARC) and transferring the non-performing assets (NPAs) to the ARC. On the other, it proposes to augment bank capital, eroded by provisioning against bad loans. One route to recapitalise the banks is for the government to put in more capital. Another is to bring in fresh investors and bring the government’s stake below 50%, that is, privatise the banks in question. This is a welcome strategy. Banks would not lend, unless freed of their NPA burden. And retaining ownership of some banks in the public sector and focusing on capital infusion to make them strong, while letting others be owned and controlled by non-State operators, would make them more robust as well.
Raising capital from the public will give the government more fiscal room, reduce the taxpayer burden to recapitalise banks, allow PSBs the freedom to go outside the trail of vigilance and fix their own remuneration plans. Not unexpectedly, bank unions want a rollback of the privatisation plan. The government must engage with the unions. An essential requirement is to improve the regulation and supervision framework that would make the nature of ownership inconsequential for the working of the bank. Raising equity capital from the public is a superior option to burdening the taxpayer for recapitalising banks. Preferential allotment of shares to bank employees could smoothen the transition. Global capital is available now in plenty, and cheap. Strengthening supervision, and internal systems, especially risk management, will inspire investor confidence to draw the capital needed.
But PSBs need to overhaul their current decision-making structure and culture. Market-linked remuneration must replace current, repressed salaries. Fintech and a bond market should keep banks on their toes. Senior bankers’ pay must be tiered, with larger components linked to medium- and long-term performance, subject to clawback.
3.India signals readiness to play a more muscular role in IOR. But we need deeper pockets to play the hard game
Delivering the keynote address at the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) conclave, Defence minister Rajnath Singh said that India had a role to play in the peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all countries, and that it was ready to supply weapons to regional partners. He further elaborated that New Delhi was ready to supply different types of missile systems, helicopters, warships, patrol vessels, guns, tanks and radars. This is clearly a sign that India is willing to play a more muscular role in the IOR in light of China’s aggressive tactics.
There’s no denying that in recent years Beijing has been trying to increase its footprint in the IOR, giving credence to its ‘String of Pearls’ strategy to surround India with a network of naval ports and bases. Plus, Chinese leaders have long obsessed over their so-called Malacca Dilemma, the narrow Malacca Strait through which more than 80% of China’s energy supplies pass and which the Indian navy can potentially choke off in the case of all out war. Hence, China has been really strengthening its naval fleet and today possesses the largest navy in the world.
If India has decided to counter these Chinese designs by boosting defence ties with IOR neighbours, it is welcome. But it must be borne in mind that China has deep pockets to play the hard game. For New Delhi to match this it must quickly boost its economy and aim for a decade of double-digit growth. And that would entail resisting populist pressures and making reforms palatable to the population. Failing to do this will not only give China the upper hand but also create an impression among India’s neighbours that New Delhi can’t walk the talk.
4.The comic gets bail: But Munawar Faruqui should never have been in jail
On New Year Day standup comedian Munawar Faruqui was arrested for a show in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Along with Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav, he was booked under various IPC sections including 295A, which relates to “deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings.”
Even as such cases grow, it is very clear that the outrage in question is highly arbitrary and subjective, and taken to its logical conclusion would silence all jokes and storytelling, leaving the ghost of freedom of expression rattling in a very lonely cage. Nobody should have any doubt that this fate is completely antithetical to the health of India’s diverse democracy, both socially and economically. If citizens cannot voice their disgruntlement and seek redress or laugh about it, their material reality will become painfully worse.
It is in this context that both the arrest of Faruqui and then multiple denials of bail, are causes of high concern. Note that the Indore Superintendent of Police Vijay Khatri was even reported to suggest that lack of proof of Faruqui having voiced religious insults on January 1 didn’t matter because he was going to voice them.
After such a stain on the processes of law and order, it is a great relief that the Supreme Court has today granted interim bail to the comedian. But unless there is accountability for those who have collaborated to keep him in jail for jokes that he seemingly did not even make, it will have a silencing effect on other witty and smart voices in our country. Outside the country, the jokes on us will of course flourish.
5.Reconsider the Seventh Schedule
The sharing of financial resources between the Union and states, and inter se, among states, is key in any federal democracy. The Constitution, through Article 280 to 281, provides for a unique mechanism in the form of finance commissions for devolution of resources. The final report of the 15th Finance Commission (2021-26) is now public. The first thing most states, for whom the finance commission award is a lifeline, look to is the devolution formula. This has been maintained at 41%, which is a slight downward adjustment because of the creation of two new Union Territories.
Each successive finance commission has offered unique recommendations. The 10th Finance Commission, for instance, suggested all central taxes be shared with the states. The 14th Finance Commission was a watershed, having increased the share of states in net proceeds of Union tax revenues to 42% from 32%. There are many forward-looking recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission too. But beyond the report, there is one suggestion articulated by its chairman, NK Singh, that stands out. In an interview, he somewhat provocatively asked if the Seventh Schedule has outlived its utility. This newspaper, like Mr Singh, believes it has.
The Seventh Schedule divides subjects under the exclusive domain of the Union, states and common Centre-state jurisdiction, classifying them into the Union, State and Concurrent List. Over time, the Union has transgressed into subjects assigned to states for various reasons, including the fact some of these are national priorities and the Centre has obligations going beyond the Schedule. Subjects such as employment and education, for instance, are under the domain of states. Yet, India has justiciable legislation on employment (the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) and education (the Right to Education Act), to name a few. The advent of centrally sponsored schemes has necessitated central outlays in other areas, falling within the State List such as agriculture. A thorough legislative appraisal of the Seventh Schedule to keep pace with changing fiscal priorities is overdue. An expansion of the Concurrent List, for instance, could be considered. But this must be managed democratically and consultatively, while keeping the spirit of federalism intact. It must not become an exercise in greater power-accumulation by the Centre, but an exercise in greater burden-sharing. States will be more willing to come on board only if financial obligations are more evenly shouldered.