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.Why the RBI should buy NBFC bonds
Uday Kotak has stated that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) might inevitably have to expand its balance sheet to support the economy amidst the raging pandemic. The central bank does precisely that when it carries out long-term repo operations. However, there is scope for the RBI to provide direct liquidity support to large non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that play a vital role in meeting the credit requirements of swathes of small and medium industry.
It is true that RBI has shored up liquidity conditions for the banking system in the past one year for onward lending, and is providing further liquidity support this fiscal. Note that the central bank has announced its pathbreaking G-SAP, government securities acquisition programme under which RBI would purchase government paper to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore in the first quarter of FY22. Further, its targeted long-term repo operations (TLTROs) are meant to provide credit to smaller NBFCs, but, again, via bank funding. But NBFCs do have a critical role in India’s credit system, providing, as they do, credit for largely un-banked segments, and the way forward is for the RBI to directly purchase the paper issued by major league NBFCs. It would rightly and speedily step up credit support across the board.
The central bank is in the process of thoroughly revamping its oversight on NBFCs with a four-layered regulatory structure, based on such parameters as operational size, leverage, interconnectedness and nature of activity. The way ahead is for the largest NBFCs to issue bonds for direct subscription by RBI. The central bank needs to phase in making use of corporate bonds in its liquidity management operations, to boost demand for these bonds.
2.The tweaks vaccine policy cries out for
India’s Covid vaccination drive has expanded eligibility for the jab, even as production is yet to ramp up. This means policy must be finetuned to allocate vaccines to those who need them most. First, instead of leaving allocation of vaccines among the states to vaccine manufacturers, the Indian Council of Medical Research must guide vaccine makers, based on transparent parameters such as vulnerable populations size, rate of vaccination, number of Covid cases, positivity rate and record of vaccine wastage. Vulnerability should be measured in terms of both the current pace of pandemic spread and size of both healthworker/frontline worker groups and the elderly population. States should prioritise vaccine delivery by vulnerability.
Second, ICMR must provide clear information on the minimum and maximum gap between the two doses of vaccines being administered. This will help avoid panic among those who have already taken the first shot but are finding it difficult to get the second. Third, the central government must strengthen and simplify the technological backbone of the vaccination drive, the CoWIN app. It must be easy to access irrespective of technological savvy. The app must be programmed to prioritise those who have had their first dose, so that they can get their second jab within the stipulated time frame. Voluntary organisations should help the digitally non-savvy to get enrolled, till vaccine supplies increase to a level when walk-in registration at vaccination centres becomes feasible. Four, map out delivery centres to maximise access and minimise crowding and infections.
Rather than a few big centres, favoured by some states, the focus should be on many smaller centres—using local primary health centres, community halls and other such facilities to set up vaccination centres. Arrangements must be made to whisk away those who develop allergic reactions to well-equipped intensive care units. It will make it easier for people particularly those who are daily wagers and informal sector workers to get vaccinated.
3. Lakshman Rekha: SC upholds the 50% cap on reservations. The real need and challenge is to grow jobs
In an important and welcome development, yesterday a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court upheld the 50% cap on reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. That this ceiling is sacrosanct unless an extraordinary case is made out, was also the essence of the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment by a nine-judge constitution bench, which was challenged but which prevailed. The cap reflects an attempt to balance the state’s prerogative to try to correct historical injustices suffered by some groups, with the right to equal opportunity for all citizens. And given the trend of multiplying demands for reservations, it has great value in returning the focus to actually growing jobs and educational opportunities. Byzantine recuts of a shrinking pie are just eyewash.
So beyond the constitutional dimension, Wednesday’s verdict has political and economic dimensions which actually are at the root of the Maratha reservation legislation that SC quashed for breaching the 50% cap. Following years of lobbying, the Maharashtra government in 2018 enacted a law to provide reservation for the Maratha community despite its social dominance. This law received support from all major political parties. Indeed, when it was introduced in November 2018, it was cleared by both houses of the state legislature on the same day.
Maharashtra is not alone. Similar processes are underway across the country with the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh, Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat, and so on. Communities that are considered socially dominant have begun to demand reservation in the backdrop of a weak economy that is not creating enough opportunities for upward mobility. Aspirational India and economic stagnation are incompatible, but populist rhetoric shifts attention from this. For example, states are reserving jobs for locals, which only worsens their growth prospects.
This challenge will be amplified by the economic damage wrought by the pandemic. The second wave of Covid-19 is worsening distress levels. The new round of lockdowns has triggered fresh job losses, even as last year’s reversals are still hurting. A traditional relief package such as RBI’s extra measures of monetary stimulus announced yesterday can at best limit the damage. But a durable solution lies in a coherent set of measures to create more economic opportunities. That’s the only way to arrest the widening of social fissures which accompany each new agitation for reservation. Breaching the 50% cap will impart neither economic dynamism nor social healing.
4. Ties for new era: India, UK must combine forces to fight Covid, shape Indo-Pacific
fter postponing his visit to India twice this year in light of the pandemic, UK PM Johnson held a virtual summit with PM Modi to mark the reset of bilateral ties for the new era. The two sides unveiled a ‘Roadmap 2030’ for a free trade agreement, vaccine collaboration and a migration accord that will see India take back illegal migrants from the UK in exchange for employment visas for 3,000 Indian professionals annually. In essence, UK’s exit from the European single market and customs union has freed up London to chart a more robust course in its foreign policy. This was exemplified by the review of UK’s foreign policy earlier this year that called for a shift in focus towards the Indo-Pacific and boosting alliances with countries such as India.
In the short term the focus of the bilateral relationship will remain on combating Covid which has wracked both nations – although extensive vaccinations have placed the UK in a much more comfortable position. In this regard, it’s welcome that the two countries have decided to build on the existing cooperation between Oxford-AstraZeneca and Serum Institute to produce the Covishield vaccine, and have pledged to achieve equitable global supply by April 2022.
In the long run though, the two countries must align their interests to jointly shape the Indo-Pacific region and resist China’s belligerent designs. These are also the reason why India and the UK have decided to keep Chinese companies out of sensitive areas like 5G technology. However, China is a reality that can’t be ignored either. Likeminded democracies need to combine forces to reinforce the rules-based order. If London is willing to shed its cautious approach, New Delhi too should drop its protectionist policies for bilateral economic and strategic synergies to flow.
5.Beyond image management
For any government, public communication is an important tool — to outline policies and actions, keep citizens informed, and provide its side of the story in public conversations. In a democracy, political parties running a government have an added incentive to aggressively communicate — for this is tied to shaping the public narrative and determining electoral outcomes. And, therefore, it is not wrong for any government to have internal deliberations on how best to engage with citizens. All regimes do it, and some are more successful than others.
But the focus on controlling the narrative should neither be excessive nor distract the government from what should be its core job. In the middle of the most severe emergency India has ever seen, around 300 officials of the central government, as reported by this newspaper on Wednesday, were pulled in for a workshop on effective communication. The aim was to help create a “positive image” of the government, “manage perceptions through effectively highlighting positive stories and achievements”, and portray the government as “sensitive, bold, quick, responsive, hardworking etc”. The meeting may have been routine, but its singular focus was on projecting the right narrative — something also reflected in the constitution of a group of ministers last year at a time when India was battling the first wave and Chinese incursions (the story about this committee and its suggestions was first broken by this newspaper).