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. Assam discord: On BJP’s brand of identity politics
The BJP’s kind of identity politics is difficult to sustain over the longer term
A combination of welfarism, communalism and smart though daring alliances helped the BJP win a second consecutive term in Assam. The party and its allies, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), won 75 of the 126 seats in the State. A 10-party alliance, or Mahajot, around the Congress-AIUDF axis turned out to be no match for the BJP. A third front of Assamese nationalists, the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal, could win only one seat. The Congress and AIUDF have accused it of helping the BJP. The BJP performed well in Upper Assam, and the Barak Valley, though marginally weaker than its 2016 performance. With its newfound ally UPPL, the BJP outperformed the Mahajot, which had the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) as a constituent in the Bodo region. The AIUDF-Congress alliance swept Lower Assam, but overall, they ended up with a net loss by joining hands. The BJP campaign focused on the imaginary prospect of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal becoming the CM, mobilising two variants of backlash — from the Assamese nationalists and Hindu nationalists. The alliance question posed a dilemma for both parties. They had to choose between the disadvantages of not having a partnership and having one. The AIUDF has now blamed the underperformance of the Congress in Upper Assam as the reason for their defeat; the irony is that the Congress faced the brunt there for its tie-up with the AIUDF.
The winners have their own curse. Communal polarisation in the State fanned by the acrimonious debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has been further reinforced in the outcome. All eight Muslim candidates of the BJP, including a sitting MLA, lost. Of the 29 Congress MLAs, 16 are Muslims. The BJP has dismantled its minority cell in response to the outcome. The key strategist of the BJP, Himanta Biswa Sarma, who curated the party’s agenda, spearheaded its welfare schemes, and managed its alliance, has a rightful claim for the CM’s post. He is certainly more popular than the incumbent CM, Sarbananda Sonowal, in the 60-strong BJP legislature party. The BJP has managed to assemble the support from Assamese nationalists, and Hindu nationalists in a deft balancing act on the CAA, but that ambiguity is difficult to sustain. The party has also promised to revise the National Register of Citizens and exclude more ‘illegal’ residents from it. Assam is a border State, and it has numerous fault lines within its society. The BJP single-mindedly focused on the religious divide that earned it rich dividends. But a political order that excludes a third of the population in a systematic manner is no order at all. The BJP’s victory is built on a deeply divisive and combustive agenda. Before it turns into a whirlwind of strife and chaos, the party must act with political wisdom and douse the fire it has lit.
2. Nursing a success: Kerala’s Covid warriors are trailblazers
Kerala’s success in curbing vaccine wastage and administering 74.26 lakh doses after receiving 73.39 lakh doses is testimony to the resourcefulness of its nurses – if such affirmation was needed despite Kerala’s nurses serving with distinction nationwide. Every Covishield vial can dispense 10 doses and invariably there is wastage but the data indicates that Kerala’s nurses have squeezed every last drop from each vial. When CM Vijayan tweeted his appreciation, PM Modi too joined to applaud.
Of course, a robust primary health centre network that rounded up at least 10 recipients before every vial was opened helped. But the saga of Kerala’s women nurses is bigger than the vaccination miracle. They are the unheralded warriors in Kerala’s low infant and maternal mortality rates, rivalling the developed world. But an offshoot of recording 23.4 active nurses per 10,000 population against the corresponding national average of 10.6 is that many Kerala nurses must emigrate to improve economic prospects.
An early manifestation of Kerala’s socio-cultural milieu that recognised the value of educating the girl child was this out-migrating woman nurse, now a five-decade-long trend. A 2011 survey indicated that for every 100 nurses in Kerala, 43 nurses were abroad and nine lived elsewhere in India. Major destinations abroad were Saudia Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, US and UK. Expat remittances also brought material prosperity to countless families. Now the pandemic has really made Kerala’s investments in public health and human capital the envy of other states.
3. Moment of truth: It’s not just TN that needs CM Stalin to step up
MK Stalin, president of DMK, has had a long wait in the wings. The big moment finally came when he was sworn in as chief minister of Tamil Nadu yesterday. He hit the ground running, as head of a 34-member cabinet. Soon after, he announced the first set of decisions to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and fulfil some election promises. The early days will be crucial. Daily addition of new cases is around 25,000 and health infrastructure is stretched. DMK government took office with a fortnight’s curbs already in place to limit transmission.
Yesterday saw the scope of the state health insurance scheme extended to include private hospitals treating Covid patients. Also, financial support of Rs 4,000 was ordered for economically vulnerable families to offset the economic damage. The situation will test two of his ministers, Ma Subramanian, a former mayor of Chennai who’s in charge of health, and P Thiaga Rajan, the finance minister. Rajan takes office with impressive professional credentials, having worked for global financial intermediaries. But the tradeoffs involved in managing a state exchequer are more challenging.
Of the four new state assemblies which were elected this month, Tamil Nadu is the only one where the incumbent lost office. The performance of its new government is important not just for the state. Tamil Nadu is home to the largest number of factories in India, 16% of the total. The level of economic vibrancy here ripples across its borders through the opportunities it provides. It’s one important reason why Stalin’s chief ministership will matter widely. It’s a baptism of fire, with Covid, a faltering economy and the likely reverberations of the Vanniyar reservation sub-quota to be dealt with. It’s also his moment of truth.
4. The hidden legacy of Ajit Singh
Travel across western Uttar Pradesh, and there is, close to 45 years after his death, deep devotion and admiration for Chaudhary Charan Singh — the first prime minister (PM) of India who came from an entirely rural, agrarian background, and the first and only PM so far from the Jat community. It was this legacy that Ajit Singh, referred to as Chaudhary Saheb by his supporters and rivals alike, inherited from his father. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology and then the Illinois Institute of Technology, Singh worked in IBM before Charan Singh’s ill health saw him plunge into Indian politics in the mid-1980s.
And it was perhaps because of his unique background — of a pragmatism that comes from being rooted to the soil and the exposure that came from a liberal education abroad — that Ajit Singh helped usher in a revolution in India, something that is sadly under-documented. Singh was appointed the industries minister in the VP Singh government in 1989-1990. The era of industrial licensing — or the licence-permit raj — was the still dominant policy consensus. This led to crippling controls over the private sector, where industrialists had to seek bureaucratic permission for every small element of their operations, and had spawned a culture of entrenched corruption. Ajit Singh asked a set of bureaucrats, “Why do we have all these controls?” As economist Rakesh Mohan, who then worked under Singh, has recalled, the minister was clear India could not function this way. This set off an exercise in preparing a new industrial policy blueprint, with an emphasis on decontrolling industry, inviting foreign direct investment, promoting technology, and more — and it was this blueprint which eventually served as the basis for industrial policy reforms of 1991. The fact that AN Verma was the industries secretary under Ajit Singh helped, for Verma was to go on to become the principal secretary to PM PV Narasimha Rao, and push through the changes.