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.Aligning Incentives At Mutual Funds
Amidst buoyant capital markets, sustained inflows of funds from abroad, and a policy-induced low interest rates regime, it is notable that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has tightened norms for compensation of asset managers at mutual funds (MFs). Sebi has mandated that a minimum of 20% of the earnings of key personnel in an asset management company (AMC) should be in the form of units of MF schemes they manage, which does make perfect sense.
The idea is to align the interest of key employees of AMCs with those of the unit holders of MF schemes. The fine print in MF schemes do reiterate that returns are subject to market risks, and further that the past record cannot be a pointer to future performance. Nonetheless, Sebi, rightly, wants fund managers to demonstrate to investors that they have confidence in the very schemes they manage, with skin clearly in the game. The linkage with remuneration would also be proportional to the assets under management in which the key personnel have a role or oversight. A minimum period of three years’ lock-in is mandated for the MF units so offered, along with provision for claw back for non-compliance and violation of ‘Code of Conduct, fraud and gross negligence.’
The assets under management in MF schemes are now over ₹32 lakh crore, and we need transparency on MF returns. Sebi has also, sensibly, revamped the format for reporting MF results. Its latest move may have been informed by the fiasco at six debt funds of Franklin Templeton last March. Reportedly, some employees of the MF are known to have coolly redeemed their holdings just before the schemes’ closure. ‘Market’ based compensation surely needs to be in place for credit decisions of bankers, as well, besides at MFs.
2. Increase Domestic Vaccine Production
India needs to augment its supply of Covid vaccines to inoculate its own population and that of low- and middle-income countries. India, together with South Africa and supported by others, continues to keep up the pressure for a waiver of intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines and therapeutics, and will work for a favourable decision at the G7 meet in June. In the meantime, India must take take the measures open to it to step up vaccine production.
It can and must do four things: authorise more vaccines, help expand capacity of existing manufacturers, start producing vaccines at facilities that are capable of producing vaccines but do not, because they do not have a licence for such production, and, start production in India of the entire range of ingredients that go into vaccine manufacture, by asking industry to get the needed licences, issue compulsory licences where these are not forthcoming. GoI could also do a timebound buyout IPR of the indigenous vaccines to engage other manufacturers to increase supply. Daily vaccine requirement to achieve universal adult inoculation by October would be some nine million doses. India will also have to resume its export commitments, currently hobbled, for the COVAX facility and commercial contract, at full steam. Exports in April were about 1.3 million doses, compared to 64 million between January and March. The Serum Institute of India is contractually bound to cumulatively deliver 1 billion doses to the Covax facility by end of the year. Similarly, there are export commitments for the Russian Sputnik V that is being manufactured in India. So far India has depended on SII and Bharat Biotech, with production capacity of 70 million doses a month.
The indigenous vaccine candidates in advanced stages—Zydus Cadila, Biological E and Gennova—must receive special attention for timely emergency authorisation. The government must provide support through firm orders and investment to expand production capacities right away, especially companies that source or build ingredients domestically.
3.An avoidable tragedy: Scores of patients dying because they couldn’t get oxygen in time points to a failure of governance
A most visible reminder of India’s governance failure on the heels of the second wave of Covid-19 is the constant flow of news about shortage of medical oxygen. Cases of patients dying after hospitals run out of oxygen are being reported from across the country. In the latest tragedy, 24 patients are reported to have died in Karnataka over the weekend after hospitals ran out of oxygen. While the state government says it is examining the exact cause of deaths, what is not in doubt is that there is an oxygen crunch.
The underlying causes of the problem became evident when the Supreme Court recently took up a suo motu writ petition in the backdrop of this humanitarian crisis. In India, steel plants are major suppliers of oxygen. As they are unevenly distributed, allocation of oxygen is decided by the Centre, with states responsible for organising transport. Problems begin here. Oxygen requirement of a state changes constantly depending on the case load. Political incentives to fudge data can’t make this task simple. Moreover, some states may simply not be in a position to lift their supply from far away.
There are heart-wrenching accounts of citizens being left to fend for themselves even as the solicitor general has stated that there’s enough oxygen supply for the country but there’s a shortage in some states. Weeks into this cruel shortage – or allocational mismatch – different administrations remain entangled in bureaucratic faceoffs even though India’s Covid-19 battle is supposed to be underpinned by a “whole-of-government” approach. The capital’s plight is particularly notable. The apex court has asked the Centre to solve Delhi’s problem by the midnight of May 3 after hospitals have been reduced to taking to social media to plead for oxygen day after day, even as erratic supplies cause tragic deaths.
What the recent weeks reveal is that both Centre and states have been woefully unprepared for the second wave. To make matters worse, there appear to have been coordination issues not only between the Centre and states, but also within districts in states. There’s an urgent need to sort out basic logistics and ensure that petty procedural holdups don’t lead to loss of lives. Simultaneously, we need to be prepared for coming challenges. In this context, the Centre’s decision to expand the healthcare force by suspending the medical PG entrance exam is a good step. Governments must stop passing the buck and get their act together.
4. United opposition? Victorious state leaders have their task cut out to challenge BJP at Centre
The most striking feature of the latest round of assembly polls was the strong showing by regional parties and leaders. While Mamata Banerjee’s TMC secured an emphatic victory in Bengal in the face of BJP’s electoral juggernaut, down south it was DMK’s MK Stalin and the LDF coalition’s Pinarayi Vijayan who swept local sentiments. And with these results coming at a time when a vacuum exists in the national opposition space – thanks to Congress’s continuing decline across the country – hopes have been rekindled of regional forces coalescing together to take on the BJP behemoth at the Centre.
Recall that Mamata herself had written a letter to opposition leaders in the middle of the Bengal polls, calling on them to unite against BJP’s alleged subversion of constitutional federalism. In fact, it can be argued that Centre-state relations today are at a low due to BJP’s no-holds-barred electoral approach. Theoretically this has created common cause among regional chieftains to band together. However, historically the third front has needed a national party to serve as an anchor. This was the case with the two United Front governments in the 1990s which were supported by Congress from outside.
Even then internal contradictions among regional formations saw third front governments fall before their time. Therefore, for such an experiment to be revived today sans a formidable national party, a strong regional leader must act as the central pole. With Mamata’s thumping Bengal win, she is a top candidate for this role. If she is serious about the national spotlight, she will have to shed Bengali parochialism and craft a national image for herself. To begin with, she should stop her party workers from engaging in post-poll violence. Only genuine statesmanship can bridge the gap between Bengal’s didi and the nation’s leader of opposition.
5.Election results: Why 2021 is not 2024
The results of assembly elections to West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — where the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) won respectively — have resulted in instant analysis of what this means for 2024. The conventional view is that this marks the beginning of a possible third front challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where regional leaders — especially Mamata Banerjee — will play a critical role. After all, the West Bengal chief minister has shown the model to defeat an aggressive BJP.
There can be no doubt that Ms Banerjee, as well as MK Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan, have performed impressively. There can also be no doubt that the BJP stares at a stiff political challenge because of its management of the second wave of Covid-19. But it would be premature, on the basis of specific state elections in 2021, to speak of possibilities in 2024.
Three years is a long time in politics — and the BJP may well recover some of its lost political momentum in Uttar Pradesh next year if it wins the state polls. But more importantly, the third front experiment has always confronted two challenges. There is rarely a consensus on who should be the leader of such a front, and taking on Narendra Modi in presidential style elections without a leader is a hard task. Any third front idea also instantly collides with the Congress’s ambitions of being the primary opposition force — and till an understanding is developed first among regional parties and then between the regional parties and the Congress, a concerted challenge is unlikely.