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.If it’s remote work, do it from India
Covid has seen an uptick in the relocation of people from larger cities to smaller ones in the US: remote working is seen as being practical in a great many sectors that previously had not been considered amenable to it. At the same time, several industries struggle and would love to cut costs further. Together, these combine to offer India’s information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industries new global opportunities. The challenge is to take creative advantage of such openings.
The pandemic has speeded up the societal shift towards digitisation in India, and globally too. Large Indian IT companies posted double-digit growth after a long time, with their workforce swiftly adapting to WFH to service global clients. Rightly, demand from client’s customers has surged in the sector that is the most successful model for remotely provided services even from Tier 2 cities. Last year, a report by Goldman Sachs anticipated the third wave of outsourcing — after the previous waves 2000 (post-Y2K) and 2008-09 (post-global financial crisis) – and an increasing number of technology roles globally finding their way to India, benefiting Indian IT services companies. The order books of Indian IT firms are overflowing now.
Thanks to digitisation, e-commerce companies and the healthcare industry are doing well. Insurance has had to take big hits, as the pandemic materialised assorted adverse events against which the industry had offered protection. Most developed world airlines stay afloat only because of state aid by the billion. Travel and hospitality, too, would love to squeeze out costs. All of them have already outsourced chunks of their activity. The pandemic has helped identify other bits of work that can be performed remotely.
- Total lockdown the last option
The Maharashtra government must opt for measures that are effective rather than expedient. It must consider more creative and flexible alternatives to a lockdown, to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Lockdown is relatively easy to enforce but has massive adverse impacts. The second wave is manifesting as more infectious, but minus a proportionate rise in hospitalisation. The healthcare system is not overwhelmed giving the state government room to contain the spread of Covid without bringing all economic activity to a grinding halt. A lockdown in Maharashtra could send migrant populations back home, lugging economic woe and the virus itself. Rather than a lockdown, states with rising numbers of Covid cases should opt for targeted containment, limiting congregations, using the option of evening/night curfew where it makes sense and aggressive public messaging on observing Covid protocols.
States should identify districts registering the most cases and identify hotspots in the districts. Authorities should develop management plans with appropriate levels of restrictions for these hotspots, limiting public and large indoor gatherings, encouraging offices to opt for work from home wherever possible, stepping up public messaging on wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing, and reminding people that these protocols are essential even after vaccination.
The rate of vaccination must pick up. For India to achieve herd immunity by October, 8.5 million doses need to be administered every day. This will require larger numbers of the eligible population to get vaccinated. This too will require aggressive public messaging. Till Friday, only 26% of those aged 60 or more had been vaccinated. Maharashtra, despite registering the maximum number of daily new cases, has only vaccinated 26% of those eligible. Tamil Nadu has inoculated only 10% of its seniors. The government must ensure a steady and enhanced supply of vaccines, rope in celebrities, religious leaders and other influencers to drive home this message.
- Covid-19: India needs its own version of Operation Warp Speed
A report in The Economic Times says that Bharat Biotech is working on a plan to increase its monthly production capacity of the Covaxin vaccine from the current 5 million doses to 12 million doses. Serum Institute, which manufactures Covishield, is reported to be working on a similar plan.
The arrival of vaccines against Covid-19 in less than a year after the first case was officially reported is on account of an extraordinary collaboration between public authorities and private companies. One measure which encapsulates this collaboration is the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, launched in May 2020, to shorten the timelines for vaccine development by providing upfront capital to spread the financial risk. Both the EU and UK have done something similar.
India too has seen public-private collaboration in the form of Covaxin’s development. However, given the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation, the Indian government needs to dip into the Union budget allocations for fighting Covid to ramp up vaccine production. This can come with capital subsidy to vaccine manufacturers that are tied to quantity and price agreements with the government. Time is of the essence. The only way to compress vaccine development timelines is for the Indian government to underwrite some of the risk. The payoff will be an earlier exit from the cycle of lockdowns.
4. Bengal exposed: Election violence has rendered naked the need for reform of its political culture
With paramilitary forces struggling to keep the peace in Bengal, India’s bloodiest election in recent history is dangerously poised. Violence has steadily escalated with each phase, casting grave doubts on the Election Commission’s decision to do polling in eight phases. Admittedly, more law enforcement and polling officers can be posted in each constituency when polls are staggered. But in Bengal the campaigning is extremely polarising and two sides evenly matched in resources and motivation are locked in a seemingly do-or-die battle. Each blames the other for the violence and is actively prodding mistrust of authorities and communities. So the multiple phases seem to have escalated physical confrontations instead of dampening them.
Rumours and misinformation culminating in the CISF firing at Cooch Behar leading to four deaths highlights Bengal’s present plight. CISF personnel had reportedly helped a boy, but such has been the vilification of central forces by TMC that this was a tragedy waiting to happen. A Bihar SHO lynched in North Dinajpur district was another victim amid a general state of lawlessness.
EC has barred netas from Cooch Behar and extended silent campaigning to 72 hours after issuing notices for Model Code violations served no purpose. Dramatis personae in the battle for Bengal include India’s tallest politicians like PM Modi and CM Banerjee. Policing political statements, unless there’s outright incitement of violence, is inconclusive and often leads to allegations of bias. Amid Bengal’s divisive campaigning, safeguarding the lives and votes of every candidate and elector is the best EC can do for free and fair elections. As for speeches, EC must trust voters to see through demagoguery.
Staggering constituencies within districts across polling phases, instead of completing adjacent regions before moving on, hasn’t helped. As these elections interminably drag on, people’s lives are in suspension awaiting an end to the bloodletting. Meanwhile, Covid trends sharp north. In Bengal today, social distancing would reduce both political violence and fresh infections. At the helm for 10 years, Mamata owns the blame here. With political violence also taking communal overtones, Bengal’s future raises worries, to put it mildly. In the immediate term, the task is wrapping up elections safely. But in the longer term, whoever forms the next government must be held to account for making electoral contests as non-violent as they are in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and other states. Overall the culture of political violence in Bengal is untenable.
5. The arrival of a new force in Tripura | HT Editorial
The Congress’s political fortunes sank further when party chief and a member of the former royal family of the state, Pradyot Manika Deb Burman, quit and set up his own party, The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance.
In India’s mainstream political imagination, Tripura is often on the periphery. This may stem from the tyranny of distance from the national Capital, and its location in the often-neglected Northeast, but the state’s diverse social landscape, strategic location, and history makes it politically crucial. For long, the state’s political history was marked by Left domination — and the presence of Manik Sarkar as a steady hand at the helm of governance. The Congress was the other pole in the state, but in 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprung a surprise by sweeping the state polls in a remarkable victory. The Congress’s political fortunes sank further when party chief and a member of the former royal family of the state, Pradyot Manikya Deb Burman, quit and set up his own party, The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance. This force has now marked its political arrival by winning 18 of the 28 seats in autonomous district councils, ahead of all the other forces in the state.
Mr Burman’s victory is significant for two reasons. One, representing the indigenous tribal community, his party poses a challenge to what has been a polity dominated largely by the state’s majority Bengali-speakers, and has successfully overwhelmed other smaller tribal formations — one of which is in an alliance with the BJP. Two, Mr Burman was among the younger leaders who quit the Congress because of the incoherence at the top of the party, uncertainty over leadership, and its ideologically vacillating positions. But he chose to set up his own force, rather than join an existing outfit. Tripura’s unique social mosaic, and his own background as a royal, allowed him to do so. But it is a lesson to the Congress — if you let talent go, the talent will find a platform but the party will shrink further.