News & Events
In this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,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. Right Move to Look Through Inflation
The decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to keep RBI’s key policy rates unchanged and stance accommodative, despite a rise — transient, it is hoped — in inflation is pragmatic and forward-looking, following a pandemic-induced growth contraction. The MPC has rightly surmised that the inflationary pressures emanate from high global commodity prices and logistics costs, and that softening crude oil prices should reduce cost-push inflation.
It is also welcome that the monetary policy statement has a series of measures to shore up liquidity in the banking system, arrest rising bond yields and also boost credit offtake across the board, but also for specific sectors such as warehousing of agricultural produce, to purposefully tackle the supply-constrained inflationary spiral. The MPC’s accommodative policy stance amounts to flexible inflation targeting so as to policy-induce growth, which makes perfect sense. RBI’s move to step up open-market purchases of government securities would shore up liquidity and hasten the ongoing recovery. The g-sec acquisition programme, or G-SAP 1.0, for ₹1 lakh crore can well be augmented. A similar programme for corporate bonds is surely warranted, for an active and thriving corporate bond market. Next, the extension of RBI’s targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO), designed to raise credit flow to stressed corporates, is also business-like and efficient.
The specific measure to provide additional liquidity support for all-India financial institutions such as Nabard, Sidbi and NHB would better allocate resources for modernisation of agriculture, small enterprises and housing. And, a new committee on the role and function of asset reconstruction companies is timely, indeed.
2. Expand Output of Covid Vaccines
Even as the effort to induce Covid-appropriate behaviour in the population at large intensifies, it is vital to increase the supply of vaccine doses exponentially. India is vaccinating about three million people a day. That might appear impressive. However, if two-thirds of the population, that is, 900 million people, have to acquire immunity to make it difficult for the virus to spread in the community, and assuming that vaccines have an average efficacy of 80%, the number of people to be inoculated is 1,125 million. That many doses have to be produced for the first round of vaccination. At the current rate of vaccination, that will take one year and 10 days. That is not good enough.
Vaccine doses are required for the rest of the world as well. If the virus continues to proliferate among the unvaccinated populations, more and more mutant strains would emerge, against some of which the available vaccines might be impotent. And these strains would travel through the physical links of globalisation to render the vaccinated populations vulnerable to reinfection. The need is for exponential increase in vaccine output from the current levels of 65-70 million doses a month. The supply of vaccines can be increased by giving emergency authorisations for new candidate vaccines, issuing compulsory licences for local production of vaccines such as the one from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax to multiple producers, and fast-tracking approvals for new production facilities. Issues such as the cold storage management plan that has reportedly held up approval of the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine must be sorted out.
The government must help manufacturers with expanding production capacity. Faster clearances are imperative for production facilities such as the Bharat Biotech proposal to repurpose an existing animal vaccine facility for manufacturing Covaxin. The government should also ensure the supply of input material for vaccines. To this end, it must engage with the US to lift export restrictions on chemicals and kit.
3. Salvaging losses: Much judicial time was lost in the pandemic. Judiciary, executive must unite to expedite reforms
After a pandemic year that severely disrupted the functioning of courts, the next Chief Justice of India NV Ramana will take charge amid great challenges. Increased case backlogs, struggles of lower courts to adapt to new technological paradigms, a vexing standoff between Union government and SC over judicial appointments, and pending constitutional bench matters fundamental to citizens demand prioritisation. Inaugurating a new HC building in Goa last week, Justice Ramana had indeed highlighted the need for modernising judicial infrastructure.
The pandemic couldn’t have struck at a more inopportune time. In four months of 2019, India’s lower courts had disposed of more cases than were instituted, giving a glimpse of latent potential if critical inputs like improving litigational procedures, filling judicial vacancies, upgrading courtroom infrastructure, hiring trained support staff and a systemic push to reduce pendency get going. But 2020 was a setback. Both fresh and disposed cases declined from 2019, yet the fall in case disposal was steeper, swelling pendency by nearly 50 lakh cases to 4 crore cases. HCs have 57 lakh cases pending and SC 67,000 cases.
Victims of criminal cases, undertrial prisoners, civil litigants and the economy at large bear the brunt of this dysfunction. Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi admitted as much, remarking that people regret their decision to approach courts. Justice Ramana’s challenge is to work closely with Union law ministry, HC chief justices and state governments to pilot the necessary reforms. Streamlining of modular processes consuming the most judicial time must happen in right earnest. However, ongoing blame games between Centre and SC over apportioning responsibility for delaying judicial appointments risk missing this bigger picture. These disagreements hinder the filling of 411 vacancies, forcing HCs to manage with a working strength of 669 judges.
The last appointment to SC was in September 2019; since then vacancies have risen to five and just one serving SC woman judge remains. In a country where 48% of the population are women, this gender skew in the apex institution dispensing justice must be proactively redressed. SC’s views on pressing contemporary issues like CAA and interfaith marriage laws enacted by multiple states are also keenly awaited. As the saying goes, don’t waste a good crisis. A silver lining has been greater acceptance and adoption of technology. In the same spirit as Centre’s pandemic-induced economic reforms, all stakeholders must unite to change perceptions of a “ramshackle” judiciary.
4.EC’s Bengal challenge: Tuesday’s violence is grim augury for the next five phases. Parties must cool temperatures
The third phase of Bengal polls was marred by an alarming increase in violence with two people killed, at least five candidates from different parties attacked, and even videos of alleged voter suppression surfacing. At Arambagh in Hooghly, TMC candidate Sujata Mondal Khan was attacked with bamboo poles and chased through a paddy field. BJP’s Uluberia South candidate Papiya Adhikary was assaulted when she went to meet some injured party workers at a hospital, and the party’s Tarakeshwar nominee Swapan Dasgupta’s polling agent was also targeted.
All this illustrates the fierce electoral battle underway in Bengal. While the state does have a history of political violence, the current level of polarisation hasn’t been witnessed in years. This has seen the Election Commission of India come under intense pressure, with its neutrality and that of the central forces being questioned by candidates. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has even called on her party’s women supporters to swarm central forces personnel if they are found to be interfering with polling. Casual use of such rhetoric undermines public trust in the electoral process and deepens the humongous challenges EC faces in conducting polls in Bengal.
For the sake of fair elections, EC has to somehow prevent poll violence in the remaining five phases. Trying to police speeches of candidates – as it has done in Tamil Nadu by issuing a notice to Udhayanidhi Stalin for remarks on late BJP netas – must take a back seat. It is a slippery slope anyway. But protecting voters and candidates from physical harm is the most fundamental of EC’s functions. Meanwhile, both TMC and BJP leaderships must cool temperatures. A political contest must not become a blood feud. The sanctity of voting must not be undermined by vicious tactics. In a violence-marred election, it is not democracy that wins.
5. The gulf between Delhi and Moscow
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, have reiterated their commitment to the bilateral relationship. But beneath the story of cordiality is a story of increasing differences on two key issues, visible during the joint press conference of the two ministers on Tuesday.
The first is on the wider relationship with the United States (US) and China. Moscow sees Washington as a belligerent actor out to contain Russian influence and punish it through sanctions. This has pushed it towards Beijing, though Mr Lavrov emphasised, in response to a question from this newspaper, that a military alliance with China was not on the cards. New Delhi sees its partnership with Washington as an important security pillar, and views Beijing as the core problem. India, thus, has chosen to remain more aligned with the US — while keeping up its independent relationship with Russia, especially on defence. Till the US and Russia achieve a degree of rapprochement or Russia and China fall out, none of which are imminent, India will have keep striking this difficult balance.