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.Picking the best: Armed services should emphasise merit in top promotions, without a hint of politicization
India’s armed services are in the midst of a far-reaching change. To adapt to emerging challenges, the 17 single service commands under the army, air force and navy are to be merged into four theatre commands, each under a single operational commander. The process is expected to take another two years. In this backdrop, there are other changes in the making to bring these organisations in sync with the overarching goal of theatre commands.
A proposal to put greater emphasis on merit and, thereby, not emphasising seniority, at the level of selection for commands is in the works. To be sure, armed forces’ promotions are based on merit as the organisational pyramid narrows sharply. Moreover, chiefs of service are not necessarily selected on seniority. At least two chiefs in the last five years have superseded their colleagues as GoI felt they were the best fit. That seniority need not be the primary criterion to select a chief is not under debate here. The core issue is the selection at the penultimate stage, that of commanders-in-chief.
There are two issues at stake. One, the lack of uniformity in selection criteria between the three armed services. Since the plan is theatre commands under a single operational commander, differences in selection criteria between services need to be removed during the transition. Two, and more serious, is the apprehension that the drive towards a greater emphasis on meritocracy may end up undermining professional ethos of services – in other words, politicisation of senior ranks should not be the unintended consequence.
There can be no argument against a greater emphasis on merit. That’s what underpins promotions in most admired militaries. The way forward is to design a set of criteria that are transparent and geared towards rewarding professional competence. It should be obvious that a professional military cannot afford politicisation. And neither can it ignore a relentless pursuit of merit.
2.More shots please: J&J, SII’s Covovax and Zydus Cadila must get bulk pre-orders to speed up vaccination
with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day.
With emergency use authorisation for J&J’s single-dose vaccine, the next step is to speed up its domestic production. As with reserving 30 crore doses of the under-trial Corbevax with Biological E, which is also reportedly J&J’s India partner, GoI must consider a similar advance for the J&J shot to expedite local manufacturing scale-up. A one-dose jab will be more helpful in meeting the increasingly-tough December 31 target of fully inoculating all adults, neatly halving the effort now centred around two-shot vaccines. The asking rate for daily vaccinations to meet the December target is inching towards the one-crore mark.
That’s why it’s critical there are no delays when other vaccines, in final stages of seeking emergency use authorisation, come up for official greenlighting. These include Zydus Cadila’s three-dose shot, Covovax licensed by SII from Novavax, and Corbevax. News reports indicate October appears to be the most realistic timeframe when these vaccines could come online. However, neither Covovax or Corbevax are part of the vaccination programmes of the US, UK or EU. So greater due diligence is needed, unlike J&J or Moderna that were excluded from local bridging trials on the strength of their global deployment.
Despite EUA, India’s attempts to import foreign vaccines have yielded underwhelming results. An exclusive licence for the first 250 million Sputnik V doses notwithstanding, DRL has struggled to complete an import order for 3 million second doses. Given a strict 21-day gap between two doses, DRL had wisely decided to await the full delivery of second doses, before commencing a mass drive for the first shot.
GoI’s bulk order of 66 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin in mid-July appears to have factored in such contingencies. The fire at SII’s Pune campus and homegrown Covaxin’s continuing production struggles serve warning that much can still go wrong. Over 28 crore partially vaccinated individuals need second shots too, which could drag down further progress on first dosing a wider population, unless production rises significantly. A silver lining is that daily vaccinations averaged 50 lakh last week, from 40 lakh the previous fortnight. With full vaccination becoming a passport for accessing public places, the unvaccinated are, in effect, being discriminated against. Bulk pre-orders of newer vaccines are needed immediately.
3.When the political class unites
The constitutional amendment on OBC reservation was needed. But it also shows the limits of political imagination
The Opposition’s decision to interrupt its disruption of Parliament to support the Centre’s constitution amendment bill to restore the powers of states and union territories to determine backward groups illustrates what ties, and divides, Indian politics. The rare all-party consensus on the bill is a reflection of how reservations have come to be the holy cow of Indian politics — no party can be remotely seen against it. It is also a reflection of the power of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) — each party woos this heterogenous category and is apprehensive of doing anything that may come across as insensitive to their aspirations. And it is a reflection of the limits of the imagination of the political class in candidly acknowledging the need for a revision in the architecture of affirmative action in India.
4.Road ahead from Gogra: on India-China disengagement process
While disengagement happens, a long-lasting solution along the LAC remains a challenge
After the talks on July 31, India and China have taken one more step towards restoring peace and normalcy on the LAC by disengaging at Gogra. It is, however, only one step, and the road ahead towards returning to the status quo of April 2020, before the tensions of last summer upended years of a carefully managed even if uneasy peace along the LAC, remains uncertain. It has taken 12 rounds of military-level talks to see both sides disengage and put in place buffer zones in the Galwan Valley, the site of the June 2020 clash that marked the worst violence since 1967, Pangong Lake, and now Patrolling Point 17 in Gogra. The disengagement process at PP17 took place on August 4 and 5, with a return to permanent bases. The next round of talks will discuss PP15 in Hot Springs. Demchok, where China has transgressed in relatively smaller numbers than the deployments seen in Pangong Lake, also remains unresolved. Beijing has appeared unwilling to discuss the strategically significant Depsang plains, where the Chinese side has been blocking Indian patrols. The buffer zone model, where both sides temporarily cease patrolling in disputed areas, has appeared to work so far in keeping the peace. It is, however, only a temporary measure, and one that India should not accept as permanent as it would prevent India from enforcing its territorial claims and favour the PLA, which can deploy faster in larger numbers owing to more favourable terrain and better logistics.
The next step will be full de-escalation, and a withdrawal of some of the new forward deployments that have come up close to the LAC. India has signalled that it is prepared for the long haul; its message: relations cannot return to normal without a full restoration of normalcy on the borders. While the strategic motivations of China’s border deployments last year are not clear, the tactical objectives are not difficult to ascertain. Since the 2017 Doklam crisis, China has consistently stepped up building new permanent airbases and air defence units closer to the LAC, with at least 13 new positions coming up since then, according to an analysis of satellite images from Stratfor. India has been moving to rapidly upgrade its own infrastructure to close the gap. The result is an entirely changed security dynamic along the LAC. There is a need to come up urgently with new protocols and confidence-building measures, as both sides gradually resume patrolling in the buffer zones. The multiple transgressions by China and the violence of last year have set back years of efforts to carefully manage the borders and thrown into doubt whether the four agreements regulating the behaviour of both sides still remain valid. While the recent moves towards restoring the peace are certainly welcome, finding a more long-lasting solution to ensure peace along the LAC will present a taller challenge.
5.Code red: On IPCC’s warning on climate points
IPCC’s warning on climate points to a small window of opportunity that still exists
The IPCC has issued arguably its strongest warning yet on impending catastrophe from unmitigated global warming caused by human activity, lending scientific credence to the argument that rising wildfires, heatwaves, extreme rainfall and floods witnessed in recent times are all strongly influenced by a changing climate. In a stark report on the physical science basis of climate change contributed for a broader Assessment Report of the UN, the IPCC’s Working Group I has called for deep cuts to carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases and a move to net zero emissions, as the world would otherwise exceed 1.5°C and 2°C of warming during the 21st century with permanent consequences. Climate change is described by many as a far greater threat to humanity than COVID-19, because of its irreversible impacts. The latest report is bound to strengthen the criticism that leaders in many countries have stonewalled and avoided moving away from coal and other fossil fuels, while even those who promised to act, failed to influence the multilateral system. The new report attributes catastrophic events to sustained global warming, particularly the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts, proportion of intense tropical cyclones, reductions in Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost. A phenomenon such as heavy rainfall over land, for instance, could be 10.5% wetter in a world warmer by 1.5°C, and occur 1.5 times more often, compared to the 1850-1900 period.
More than five years after the Paris Agreement was concluded, there is no consensus on raising ambition to reduce emissions, making access to low carbon technologies easier, and adequately funding mitigation and adaptation. COVID-19 had the unexpected effect of marginally and temporarily depressing emissions. The IPCC’s analysis presents scenarios of large-scale collapse of climate systems that future leaders would find virtually impossible to manage. Heatwaves and heavy rainfall events experienced with increasing frequency and intensity are just two of these, while disruptions to the global water cycle pose a more unpredictable threat. Also, if emissions continue to rise, oceans and land, two important sinks and the latter a key part of India’s climate action plan , would be greatly weakened in their ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. The new report sets the stage for the CoP26 conference in November. The only one course to adopt there is for developed countries with legacy emissions to effect deep cuts, transfer technology without strings to emerging economies and heavily fund mitigation and adaptation. Developing nations should then have no hesitation in committing themselves to steeper emissions cuts.