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.Vax Britannica: UK’s entry barrier for vaccinated Indians is illogical and unfair. It should be reconsidered
A week ago, 5.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administered globally. To put it in context, more Covid vaccines have been delivered in 10 months than all other vaccines put together every year before the outbreak of the pandemic. To drill down further, one in seven Covid vaccines has been administered in India, and most of them were Covishield. This vaccine is manufactured by Serum Institute following technology transfer by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The agreement worked well enough for SII to dispatch 5 million doses to the UK on March 5. Inexplicably, vaccines made here are good enough for Britons, but Indians fully vaccinated by the same vaccine in India are deemed ‘unvaccinated’ when they travel to UK.
UK’s stance can only be termed bizzare when other facts are juxtaposed. Covishield is one among seven vaccines to receive WHO’s emergency use approval. It got the approval independently of the same vaccine that was cleared by WHO when AstraZeneca applied. Therefore, Covishield has been evaluated by an independent body and is good enough to have been exported to 95 countries, UK included. Given this context, when UK raises entry barriers and attendant costs for fully vaccinated Indians who need to visit, there are questions that need to be asked.
GoI has engaged UK for a while to ease entry barriers. No one questions the right of any sovereign to act in its best interests. However, in an interdependent world, linked by both trade and personal contacts, entry restrictions need to be underpinned by a modicum of logic. That is clearly missing in Britain’s forthcoming changes in entry restrictions as it assumes vaccinated Indians are unvaccinated. The UK should reconsider its position and be guided by common sense rather than irrational fear. That’s not a tall order.
2.Bahujan Samaj Parties: The Dalit vote is sizeable and politicians keep finding novel ways to tap into its identity politics
After BJP wooed dominant communities and OBCs with its recent CM and Union Cabinet appointees, Congress has joined the social engineering game with picking Charanjeet Singh Channi as Punjab CM, its first Dalit CM since Sushilkumar Shinde in Maharashtra in 2003-04. Channi’s elevation has given Congress bragging rights in Punjab, also nationally allowing it to showcase a new Dalit icon after decades. Channi could also be pitchforked into UP and Uttarakhand elections where Dalits are 20.8% and 18.7% of the population, respectively.
But the Dalit vote has many claimants today. Congress’s signature welfare measures like 15% reservation and passage of SC/ST Atrocities Act in 1989 are now too distant for contemporary recall. Its Dalit vote could survive the socialist upsurge in the Hindi heartland but not BSP’s entry into UP. Kanshi Ram deftly entered into alliances at various points with SP, Congress and BJP boasting of wider bases and showed to Dalits that here was finally a party of their own, leveraging the community’s strength in numbers to secure political power.
However, his pan-India vision stuttered. An insular Mayawati couldn’t replicate the UP success elsewhere. Wisened mainstream parties steered clear of BSP’s desire for alliances unless in desperation like Akali Dal now. As BSP fumbled, RSS with its cultural reunification project to resolve caste antipathies and BJP through administrative patronage wooed Dalit communities excluded from previous political mobilisations. Even relative newcomer AAP’s initial attraction to poorer Dalits with the “broom” symbol has expanded to a loyal slum vote bank with delivery of free electricity and water, quality public education and foolproof ration delivery, in a city with 17% Dalit population.
Meanwhile, a new generation of Dalit activists like Chandrashekar Azad and Jignesh Mewani are struggling for relevance. Political parties are also increasingly grappling with intra-Dalit divides, which may have prevented their consolidation by BSP in its heyday. UP’s Jatav-non-Jatav, Karnataka’s Chalavadi-Madiga, TN’s Pallar-Paraiyar-Arundhatiyar and Andhra’s Mala-Madiga divides are cases in point. Meanwhile, socioeconomic trends are sharpening. Dalit enrolment in higher education rose by 16% between 2015-20 against 11% in the general populace. But Dalits forming 16% of India’s population account for an estimated one-third of the casual labour workforce, signalling high economic vulnerability. For politicised Dalits, Channi’s symbolic six-month tenure may recall other Dalit CMs from Damodar Sanjivayya to Jiten Ram Manjhi who endured stopgap arrangements. If Congress can win Punjab under Channi and retain him subsequently, that may be the real talking point going into 2024.
3.Welcoming foreign guests
Time the beleaguered tourism industry is revived
With the Covid-19 situation easing significantly in India and the country back to near normalcy as most sectors have been gradually opened, it is apt that the Home Ministry should be keen on allowing foreign tourists in. Of course, their entry would have to be conditional, with vaccination or Covid-negative report of the visitor as also a negative list of nations reporting huge caseloads of infected patients being among the top imperatives. Foreign tourism has been among the most impacted fields since the pandemic broke out and lockdowns were imposed. Importantly, along with it, the related beleaguered hospitality and aviation sectors — employing millions — too stand a chance of revival.
However, with the threat of a third Covid-19 wave looming large, a lot more than just giving the green signal is required to lure tourists. While waiving the visa fees for the first five lakh foreigners is an attractive offer, it can work only in tandem with ensuring a robust medical infrastructure. An urgent sprucing up of the facilities is needed to win the confidence of the coveted guests on this crucial score. Tie-ups of hotels, tourist spots and other stakeholders with hospitals assuring prompt medical attention could be a good selling point.
It is time to take action so as to bring this stressed industry, tottering on the brink of collapse, back on track. Riding on it are multi-billion-dollar implications for India’s economy. The statistics are grim. A massive 97 per cent fall in foreign tourist arrivals was recorded from March to December 2020 in comparison with the same period the previous year. This, in turn, became the main trigger for the 76 per cent decline in Foreign Exchange Earnings in 2020 vis-a-vis 2019. A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research has found that almost 22 million jobs were lost in the three quarters of 2020-21 after the lockdown. The stimulus packages announced by the government have given little succour to the dented incomes of these millions of workers. A lot is definitely at stake.
4.Congress’ Dalit card
Party keen to consolidate SC vote in poll-bound Punjab
In what is probably the Congress’ last roll of the dice before the Punjab Assembly elections, the party has picked Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief minister. He is the first Dalit to occupy the top post in the state, which accounts for the highest proportion (32 per cent) of the Scheduled Caste (SC) population in the country. One of Channi’s deputies, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, is a Jat Sikh, while the other, OP Soni, is a Hindu. Thus, the Congress has tried to tick all the caste boxes. Choosing a Dalit CM had become an electoral compulsion for the party after the Shiromani Akali Dal, which is contesting the 2022 polls together with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), promised that the alliance’s deputy CM would be from the SC community, while the BJP had announced to make a Dalit the CM, if voted to power in Punjab.
Referring emotionally to his humble origins, Channi is already busy projecting himself as the ‘aam aadmi’ a la AAP, a radical departure from what was perceived to be the overly bureaucratic functioning of his predecessor’s government. He doesn’t have much time to fulfil the pending poll promises, with the model code of conduct expected to be enforced by the year-end. More importantly, Channi’s job is to consolidate the SC vote — to the detriment of the rival parties’ poll prospects.
The key question is whether a Dalit CM is just a stop-gap arrangement for the Congress or a long-term commitment. The Opposition pounced on AICC general secretary Harish Rawat’s statement that the party’s election campaign would be spearheaded by Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. BSP president Mayawati dubbed Channi’s elevation as an election stunt, claiming that the Congress was keen on a non-Dalit as the future CM. Even senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, who missed out on becoming the chief minister, stated that Rawat’s ‘baffling’ remark was likely to undermine the CM’s authority, forcing the high command to do some damage control. It will no doubt be a tightrope walk for the Congress, which is striving to fight anti-incumbency with a last-ditch change of guard.