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. Enemy is Covid: Bengal was supposed to focus on this fight at least after the elections. Alas
Bengal’s poor Centre-state relations have taken a turn for the worse with CBI arresting two senior ministers in CM Banerjee’s cabinet in the Narada bribery case. With Mamata landing at CBI’s office and dramatically proclaiming “Arrest me also,” the TMC crowds pouring in have unsettled Bengal’s complete lockdown announced on Sunday. Hopes of the state government finally training its energies on the Covid pandemic after a long and zealous election battle, must await this latest flashpoint subsiding. TMC, meanwhile, is questioning why Mamata’s bete noir Suvendu Adhikari, prominently featured in the Narada sting tape, hasn’t been arrested.
For its part CBI is still living down to its “caged parrot” tag. The years-old Narada case really could have waited until Bengal’s Covid situation was less fraught. Its worrying test positivity rate of 29.7% is eclipsed only by Karnataka among the big states. Bengal is doing less than 700 daily tests per million population, far lower than Bihar at 984 and UP at 1,147. Vaccination rates are also low. Central and state governments need to be working together by pooling resources for treatment, testing and vaccination. But instead, the campaign against Covid continues to take a backseat to hyper-polarised politics.
Having invoked the Disaster Management Act to chaperone state government responses, Centre must ensure minimal distractions from single-minded focus on combating the deadly second wave. Quite to the contrary, another “arrest me too” clamour has arisen in Delhi following police crackdown on posters criticising PM Modi. From vaccines to oxygen there are countless points of view across India. They seek to amplify themselves through different forms of communication. In this play of multiple narratives, government’s most effective means of wooing the citizenry is through effective work.
The ordinary cop has actually served at the frontlines of the anti-Covid fight without a break since early April – at crematoriums, helping people to hospitals and so on. It is a failure of leadership and imagination when these hardworking public servants are burdened with coercive tasks that are counterproductive amid a grave public health crisis. Public anger is a legitimate expression of the trauma being experienced by citizens. They await the public health crisis, economic slump, and the potential third wave getting the priority these deserve. In Bengal this change has now become much unlikelier. With the spotlight having shifted to politics once again, many citizens’ battle with Covid just got lonelier.
2.Spectre of 2012: Retrospective tax amendment needs to be buried for India’s long-term benefit
Pranab Mukherjee’s decision as finance minister in 2012 to retrospectively amend a section of the Income-tax Act was perhaps the most economically damaging decision of UPA-2. Its reverberations continue as NDA clings on to the underlying approach. The most recent fallout of the 2012 amendment showed up last week when UK’s Cairn Energy filed a lawsuit in New York, seeking to enforce an international arbitral tribunal’s award against India. Target is Air India, described in the suit as the “alter ego” of the country. Aim is to seize the airline’s assets.
The retrospective amendment was introduced in the 2012 Budget to nullify a Supreme Court verdict that went in favour of Vodafone International in its income tax dispute with the government. This tax amendment set off a chain reaction. It potentially opened up cases that were done and dusted. One case that was exhumed was a transaction that Cairn Energy had undertaken in 2006. In Cairn’s case, the income tax department even sold its financial assets to realise the tax demand. Both Vodafone and Cairn filed arbitrations abroad claiming the government’s actions violated its bilateral investment treaties with the Netherlands and UK respectively. India lost both cases.
At a legal level, it may be seen as a dispute between India’s sovereign right over tax law and its sovereign commitment to honour international treaties. In both arbitral awards, the commitment to treaties was given precedence. The government disagrees and has challenged the Vodafone award. But this approach is counterproductive. It will have an adverse impact on potential foreign direct investment as it vitiates the investment atmosphere. It also affects Air India’s disinvestment exercise. For India’s long-term economic benefit, the 2012 retrospective amendment needs to be buried. Reputations matter in investment decisions.
3. The Sangh-BJP dynamic
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is grappling with not just the most serious health emergency this country has ever seen, but also an emerging political crisis. For the first time in seven years, there are voices within the ruling party’s ideological and political ecosystems asking tough questions to the government about its preparations for the second wave, the absence of medical infrastructure, and the slow vaccination drive. Supporters of the party — just like other Indian citizens, irrespective of political affiliation — have suffered and lost loved ones, and there is a defensiveness that has crept into the party’s response to the criticism.
In this backdrop, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supremo Mohan Bhagwat, considered the moral guardian of all Sangh affiliates (of which the BJP is one), and who was infected with Sars-CoV-2 himself last month, made his first public remarks on the second wave. Mr Bhagwat claimed that the government, administration and citizens had all become complacent. But that was, broadly, the limits of his criticism, hedged with how society had to share the blame with the State and repeated encouragement to all citizens to stay positive in these difficult times. Mr Bhagwat’s statement has been interpreted as either the Sangh taking a muted, but adversarial, position to warn the government, or a supportive approach, which takes into account the prevailing public sentiment, but actually underscores the need to stay united behind the government in this battle.