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.SC’s important reminder: The system should not be prying into the privacy of a couple
In response to a habeas corpus petition of the parents of a married woman, a Supreme Court bench has observed that, “As a system, we should not be prying into the privacy of a couple if a man and woman want to live together. We have to respect their decision as adults.”
All too often institutions of the state from police to the courts infantilize married adults, by going along with parents’ opposition to their marriage, even forcibly separating and restraining the consenting adults. Parents, elders and institutions become in effect the gatekeepers and vetoholders of the marriage of consulting adults.
There are even laws joining this attack on individual liberties. Last week the Gujarat High Court stayed key provisions of The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, saying that “Merely because a conversion occurs because of marriage, it per se cannot be held to be an unlawful conversion or a marriage done for the purpose of unlawful conversion.” No law should work on the perverse principle of, guilty until proven innocent.
In India too many forces are constantly conspiring to police individual choices. Young adults can be particularly vulnerable. But when they are bound tight from all directions, how will they ever fly? Let us learn to respect their choices, including the choice of whom to love and marry.
2.Talk often & quietly: GoI’s economic ambition needs good govt-industry relations. This requires an institutional mechanism
This month Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed industry body CII to outline his vision. Among his many observations, two stood out. He asked industry to strengthen its partnership with GoI and also urged entrepreneurs to enhance their risk-taking appetite. His speech needs to be located in a larger global context. Industrial policy, or a government’s attempt to design a coherent package of measures to influence the economic structure, is once again in intellectual vogue. From America’s subsidies to bring back semiconductor manufacturing to India’s production-linked incentives, governments are playing a more activist role in influencing the economic direction. For GoI’s vision to be realised, Modi’s call to strengthen industry-government ties is an essential element. However, some recent developments convey the wrong kind of signals. They suggest that there may be a modicum of trust deficit between GoI and industry.
One such development was commerce minister Piyush Goyal’s reported observation that Indian industry’s practices are not always in sync with national interests. Whatever the trigger for it, such an observation made at a public forum does send mixed signals to entrepreneurs. Separately, the fallout of the problem with the income tax e-filing portal could have been handled with more finesse. GoI should enforce its contractual rights, but when it comes to public messaging there’s need to exercise care. GoI also happens to be the policy maker and enforcer. Therefore, when there are official social media messages that a CEO has been “summoned”, it’s not a great advertisement for harmonious industry-government ties.
Industry has been one of the contributors to the plethora of ideas that GoI has received from different sources. The Bombay Plan in 1944 was an early document produced by a combination of industrialists and technocrats to chart India’s post-Independence development. Industry, therefore, has a role to play in India’s development journey. To realise Modi’s vision, it may be ideal to revive the PM’s Council on Trade and Industry that was favoured by former PMs AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. A more refined version of the council will provide an institutional mechanism to exchange views and clear the air, if necessary. Industrial policy works best when a government’s vision is aligned to entrepreneurs’ capabilities. An institutional mechanism, one that is taken seriously by both sides, will allow not just exchange of ideas, but also act as a forum where differences can be worked on quietly.
3.Staying invested: on India’s relations with Afghanistan
India must retain its traditional and historic interest in Afghanistan and its people
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to ask the MEA to brief all parliamentary parties on the Government’s actions in Afghanistan comes as questions grow about the Government’s planning for contingencies there, with the Taliban’s takeover. Since August 15, when the Taliban militia entered Kabul, the Government, including the MEA and the Defence Ministry, has been understandably occupied with the challenging evacuation of Indian nationals. In addition, the Government’s decision to evacuate the entire embassy staff and security personnel first has made it more difficult to facilitate those Indians, as well as long-term visa holding Afghan Sikhs and Hindus needing to return. With most of the Indians based in Afghanistan returning home, or expected to soon, the Government must face the larger strategic questions over whether the Indian Embassy was evacuated too early. India had undertaken evacuations during the 1990s too, but then the presence of Indian nationals was not as large and Indian stakes in Afghanistan were not so deeply rooted. In the past 20 years, India has built considerable interests, including major infrastructure projects and ongoing development projects, helped script the Afghan Constitution and conduct of elections, as well as enabled the training and education of the next generation of officials, soldiers and professionals. It seems unfortunate, therefore, that this bank of goodwill came to naught as the Government decided it was safer to pull up stakes, emulating neither the U.S. and European countries who relocated their diplomatic outposts to the Kabul airport, nor Russia, China and Iran, which decided not to vacate their embassies there.
Going forward, the Government must explain how it expects to approach the new regime in Afghanistan once it is formed. It is still unclear whether this will be merely a repeat of the brutal regime seen from 1996-2001, or whether negotiations are under way for a more inclusive coalition, including several former leaders of Afghanistan, will fructify into a transitional government. The rise of Taliban power and that of the group’s Pakistani backers is a particular security concern as groups such as the LeT and the JeM could use Afghanistan as a staging base for terror attacks in India. Finally, the Government must explain how it will approach the Afghan people, especially those whose lives could be in danger, including Embassy staff and associates, those working on Indian projects, minorities, including those Islamic sects such as the Hazaras who have been targeted, as well as women. A more open, liberalised visa policy, and more swift processing of the newly launched special “e-Emergency X-Misc” visas would reassure both Afghans and the international community that India’s exit from Afghanistan is not permanent, and it will retain its traditional and historic interests in the country and its people, despite adverse events there.
4. Bonding rites: on Opposition unity
Opposition unity can come only with a more accommodative Congress leadership
A meeting of 19 Opposition parties on August 20 confirmed the sense of urgency that they feel to come together and build a united front against the BJP. It was also a demonstration of the challenges that they face in that task, in terms of programme and architecture. The meeting convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi was attended by leaders of 18 other parties, including four Chief Ministers. These parties have strategic or ideological reasons to be part of a formation against BJP hegemony, and see no harm in aligning with the Congress in the process. All the 19 parties see the BJP as a threat to their own politics; some of them view it as endangering the constitutional values of the country too. There are other non-BJP parties that do not see it that way. The BJD, TRS and YSRCP, ruling parties in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, respectively, see no gain in opposing the BJP or aligning with the Congress. They might also see antagonism with the BJP and affinity with the Congress as detrimental to their politics. Comparable is the situation of the BSP and SP, two influential parties in Uttar Pradesh that elects the largest number of Lok Sabha MPs. Ms. Gandhi has exhorted all parties to rise above compulsions to build a joint front against the BJP, the aim of which is to defeat the BJP in the 2024 general election.
The fact is that the Congress is itself a prisoner of its own compulsions and rigidities such as its institutional antipathy towards the YSRCP and TRS, and the personal fancies of its leader Rahul Gandhi who wields all authority and holds no accountability. Additionally, the Congress of today is vastly diminished compared to its position in the run-up to the 2004 general election when it could bring a host of parties under a coalition. Regional leaders then deferred to Ms. Gandhi, and her command over the Congress was absolute. The disarray in the Congress leadership is a drag on the attempts at Opposition unity. There is also a vast divergence among these parties on identifying the most critical issues in designing the optimal campaign against the BJP. The Congress and Left want to front-load in any Opposition campaign, the use of a spyware by an unknown government entity to snoop on a wide range of individuals. Parties that are more rural think price rise and agriculture distress and unemployment would have more salience among voters. This divergence need not necessarily be disabling for the Opposition. In fact, various parties could appeal to different constituencies and amalgamate their strengths, as it happened in the UPA experiments between 2004 to 2014. That requires significantly more leadership and management skills than available today in the Opposition gallery.
5. Oil palm plantations: Don’t ignore the environmental lens
While there is an economic case for pushing for oil palm, the government must learn from the experiences in Sumatra, Borneo and the Malay Peninsula where oil palm plantations have eliminated pristine forests and pushed out wildlife. A rapid change in land use has also left a deep social impact
On August 19, the Union Cabinet approved a new ₹11,040-crore National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm to boost domestic production. It has identified the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) for the project due to their favourable rainfall and temperature. On Monday, a report said that the Cabinet clearance for the project came in the face of objections raised by India’s top forestry research institute (Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education) against introducing oil palm in biodiversity-rich areas — and in the absence of a detailed study it had proposed.