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.Ramp up testing, genetic sequencing
The vaccination drive and a reduction in the number of active Covid cases should not lull India into complacency: a new wave and new variants are possible. There has been a spike in the number of cases registered in a 24-hour time span in five states. This could, if not addressed, spread to other parts of the country. Even as we ramp up testing, there is every reason to increase testing and, vitally, genetic sequencing of the virus to spot fresh variants. The fatigue from year-long observance of Covid protocols notwithstanding, there can be no relaxation in the use of masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and hand-washing.
On Tuesday, India registered an increase of 0.1% in the total cases from 10,925,710 to 10,937,320. Five states – Kerala (4,937), Maharashtra (3,663), Tamil Nadu (451), Karnataka (438) and Gujarat (263) – registered the biggest jump in cases in 24 hours. India’s five-day moving average of daily rate of addition to total cases stands at 0.1%. The percentage of people tested showing positive for Covid is cause for concern. On Tuesday, of 644,931 persons tested, 1.8% were positive. The total count of tests conducted so far in the country is 207,977,229. Five states with the highest positivity rate by daily numbers for tests and cases added are Maharashtra (9.79%), Kerala (6.64%), Goa (2.99%), Chandigarh (2.04%) and Sikkim (2.04%).
The government has stepped up standard operating protocols for overseas arrivals to limit exposure to new variants. This is not sufficient. Testing for Covid needs to be stepped up and Covid protocols must be enforced. With new variants emerging, and a vaccination roll-out still in the works, and an economy showing signs of recovery, India cannot afford to let its guard down.
2. Mandate tech giants to share revenue
and macro-level views on all contemporary economic, financial and political events.
In the ongoing tussle between the government and tech giants Google and Facebook in Australia over sharing revenue with news media, Google and Facebook have adopted different strategies. While Google is trying to sidestep a direct confrontation by striking deals with the bigger media companies of the region, and elsewhere, by enrolling them in the Google News Showcase and paying them for that participation, Facebook has decided to not let members share news in Australia and bar Australian news elsewhere in the world. Implicit in this aggressive bargaining position is the understanding that Australia is too small a market for the tech giants for its potential loss to force these companies to change their conduct. This is the right time for India to join the battle and bring in a law mandating tech giants that harvest advertising revenue by displaying news stories to share revenue with those who create the content they display.
India is a huge market, as it is. It is an enormous market in the making and no company would willingly forsake a share of this growing pie. The threat that might work against Australia, accounting for $4 billion of Google’s annual $181 billion revenue. But India promises much, much more, whatever its current yield. Google will be persuaded to strike the kind of deal it has struck with French publishers and now with Australian ones with Indian news media as well. True, with the equalisation levy, the government does collect some tax from the likes of Google.
But by mandating the tech giants to share revenue with the content creators, the government would gain additional tax revenue as well, as Indian companies make additional profits and pay additional taxes. But that is not the main point. A financially healthy news media is essential for democracy to function. Discouraging practices that erode news media’s revenues is an essential task of good governance. Microsoft has supported the official Australian stance. A similar law in India would find powerful allies, as well, from within the tech world and outside.
3. Win for #MeToo: Priya Ramani’s fight will encourage women to speak up about sexual harassment
A Delhi court’s acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation complaint filed by celebrity editor-politician MJ Akbar will embolden women survivors of sexual harassment at workplaces to speak up. “The woman has a right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades,” the court said, directly answering those who questioned women coming out with their #MeToo accounts after considerable passage of time, and those who questioned their choice of social media platforms rather than law enforcement mechanisms to air grievances.
Many women will gain confidence from the court believing the testimonies of Ramani and fellow journalist Ghazala Wahab on their harassment. The woman’s struggle to be believed by society, to resist social stigma, to convince herself to recognise the abuse, to overcome the mental trauma and gain confidence to expose the abuser have rightly found mention in the judgment. “The woman cannot be punished for raising voice against the sex abuse on the pretext of criminal complaint of defamation as the right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution,” wrote ACMM RK Pandey.
The court’s privileging of fundamental rights over restrictive legal provisions like criminal defamation that silence victims of injustice and the free press is heartening. To Ramani’s credit she didn’t baulk at having to join a long legal fight. The conversation over sexual harassment and women’s safety at workplaces has come a long way since Supreme Court framing the Visakha guidelines in 1997. Since 2013, India has the Sexual Harassment at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act placing statutory responsibilities upon employers and a clearly defined penal provision criminalising sexual harassment (IPC Section 354A).
Yet, it is still a long, lonely path for women because the harasser is almost always a senior in the organisation, enjoying great power and influence. Ramani told reporters of having to deal with anxiety, stress and fear in her fight as well as the irony of her having to stand in court as the accused. The verdict’s succinct yet powerful recognition of her act of “self-defence” and its empathy towards late complainants – invoked insensitively to detract victims without recognising their difficulty of coping with the trauma of sexual harassment or violence – may well become another clarion call moment like the 2017-18 #MeToo movement.
4.Fortress Punjab: Congress strikes it big in civic polls, positioned well ahead of assembly elections
In a boost for Congress in Punjab, the party won seven out of the eight municipal corporations in civic polls, while emerging as the leader in the remaining Moga corporation. In fact, Congress’s victory particularly in Pathankot, Hoshiarpur and Bathinda – Bathinda will get a Congress mayor for the first time in 53 years – is a big blow for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP that were perceived to be strong in these areas. The polls likely reflect Punjab’s prevailing farm sentiment and attitude towards the Centre’s three new farm laws, with thousands of Punjabi farmers continuing to protest against them at Delhi’s borders.
Plus, the split between SAD and BJP has clearly hurt both parties. While BJP won just 50 wards – down from 248 in 2015 – SAD won 281 fewer than the 870 wards it won last time. Even AAP, which was making its debut in the municipal polls, managed to win only 60 wards. With Punjab slated to go for assembly polls next year, the municipal results bolster the position of chief minister Amarinder Singh. The latter was quick to pass state bills negating the Centre’s farm laws, clearly signalling where he and Congress stood on the issue. Though the farm laws will take agriculture forward, Punjab local polls show those benefits haven’t been adequately or effectively communicated to people.
Regarding assembly elections, Amarinder in 2017 had said it was his last election. But he walked back those comments last year, indicating his desire to contest in 2022. True, he remains Punjab Congress’s tallest leader. But younger leaders like Partap Singh Bajwa and Navjot Sidhu are getting restless for a spot in the limelight. The party, however, fears splits if it promotes a younger face. The civic poll’s outcome certainly boosts Amarinder’s case to head Congress in upcoming assembly elections.
5. The implications of Biplab Deb’s gaffe | HT Editorial
The lesson for Indian leaders, particularly those occupying constitutional positions, is to be more responsible, recognise boundaries, and know that jokes aren’t always funny
Tripura’s chief minister Biplab Deb recently said that home minister Amit Shah — while he was the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — had joked, at a closed-door meeting, that after achieving electoral success domestically, the party would expand in Nepal and Sri Lanka. “We were talking during a meeting at the state guest house when Ajay Jamwal (BJP’s zonal secretary for the northeast) said the BJP was in a good position as it was in power in many states. In reply, Amit Shah said Sri Lanka and Nepal are still left. We have to take the party there and win there as well,” said Mr Deb, with a laugh.
In the absence of a comment from Mr Shah on the issue, it is not possible to know whether he did indeed make such a remark. Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home. But, in the neighbourhood, it is being read as the characteristic arrogance of Indian leaders in assuming that smaller neighbours have little agency of their own and fall within an Indian “sphere of influence” where political ideologies can be exported and political configurations determined. This may not have been the intent, but given the sensitivities on nationalism and sovereignty in the neighbourhood, this reading of the comment is not surprising.
Remember, in Nepal, there is an active conservative constituency which seeks the restoration of monarchy and the Hindu state — and Nepali commentators have been left wondering if the BJP has plans to actively intervene in the country with such an objective in mind. India’s past political interventions in these countries only leads to further apprehensions and has prompted official responses from both Sri Lanka and Nepal. The lesson for Indian leaders, particularly those occupying constitutional positions, is to be more responsible, recognise boundaries, and know that jokes aren’t always funny.