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.Tackling the Maoists: On Left Wing Extremism
The insurgency has weakened but its potency in select areas has not reduced
In a meeting with State leaders and representatives, Home Minister Amit Shah noted that the geographical influence of the Maoists has reduced from 96 districts in 10 States in 2010 to 41 now. The contraction is not surprising. Armed struggle has found few takers beyond select pockets untouched by development or linkages with the welfare state; and far from consolidating its presence — a prospect that seemed possible following the merger of two major Naxalite groups into the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist) — the organisation is limited to the remote and densely forested terrains of central and east-central India. Rather than mobilising discontents with the Indian state by projecting its weaknesses and ensuring inclusion and welfare, the Maoists have privileged armed struggle, invited state repression and sought to use this to recruit adherents. Such a strategy has led to some of India’s poorest people, the tribals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in particular, being caught up in endless violence, and also caused severe losses to the Maoists as well as anti-insurgent security forces. This has followed the predictable path of most Maoist insurrections that retained armed struggle to achieve their aims – in the Philippines and Peru, for example — leaving behind death and violence rather than enabling genuine uplift of the poor. Despite these, the Maoists have not budged from their flawed understanding of the nature of the Indian state and democracy, unwilling to accept that the poor people, whom they claim to represent, seek greater engagement with the electoral and welfare system.
The Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand. These States must focus on expansive welfare and infrastructure building even as security forces try to weaken the Maoists. Frequent skirmishes and attacks have not only affected the security forces but also left many tribal civilians caught in the crossfire. A purely security-driven approach fraught with human rights’ violations has only added to the alienation among the poor in these areas. The Maoists must be compelled to give up their armed struggle and this can only happen if the tribal people and civil society activists promoting peace are also empowered. The Indian government should not be satisfied with the mere weakening of the Maoist insurgency and reduce commitments made for the developmental needs of some districts of concern in States such as Jharkhand, as its Chief Minister has alleged. The Union government and the States must continue to learn from successes such as the expansion of welfare and rights paradigms in limiting the movement and failures that have led to the continuing spiral of violence in select districts.
2.No clear winner: On post-Merkel Germany
Germany looks set for a three-way coalition with Social Democrats most likely at the head
The German elections are known to be a predictable exercise largely dominated by the Conservatives. But this time, even after the preliminary results are out, there is no clarity about which party would form the coalition and who would succeed Angela Merkel, who had announced her retirement well before the polls. There are now two wannabe Chancellors and two kingmakers, and coalition talks are expected to drag on. The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) took a narrow lead with 25.7% of the vote, followed by the bloc led by Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), with 24.1%, their lowest vote share. The Greens won 14.8%, their best performance in a national poll, while the liberal, pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) took 11.5%. Olaf Scholz, who put the trailing Socialists in the lead, has claimed victory and shown interest in working with the Greens. Armin Laschet, the Conservative leader, has also promised to put “every effort” to ensure a CDU-led government. That leaves the Greens and the Liberals as kingmakers. Since the Socialists and the Conservatives, currently coalition partners in the Merkel government, will not be together again, the next government is set to be a three-way coalition.
Over the last 16 years, Ms. Merkel has been the undisputed face of the CDU and one of Germany’s most popular leaders. Her decision to retire has left a vacuum both in the CDU leadership and in German politics. Under the uncharismatic conservative Armin Laschet, the CDU, which ruled 52 of the 72 post-war years of Germany, looked like a pale shadow of itself, while Mr. Scholz, who belongs to the pro-business sections of the Social Democrats, led a campaign focused on social justice, by promising to increase the minimum wage, build affordable houses and raise taxes on the rich. This campaign allowed the Social Democrats to eat into the traditional vote base of the Conservatives. The growing awareness of climate politics led to the rapid and visible rise of the Greens. Mr. Scholz will now seek to bring together the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, the so-called ‘traffic light’ coalition that will have 416 seats, well beyond the 368 needed for majority. But a lot would depend on coalition talks and reaching common ground, as the CDU has also thrown its hat into the ring. When Ms. Merkel took over the reins of Germany in 2005, Europe’s largest economy was stalled with high unemployment. She overcame crises, strengthening Germany’s economic prowess and transforming its role in Europe. But she also saw German politics getting fragmented and the rise of the neo-Nazi AfD, which got a 10.3% vote share in Sunday’s poll. Whoever succeeds Ms. Merkel has their task cut out to offer stable governance, address growing social disquiet and strengthen the EU. And a bigger challenge is to take up this ambitious agenda while leading a three-way coalition.
3.Punjab’s political flux is no longer limited to just INC’s leadership weakness. The state is at a crossroads.
The resignation of Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of the Punjab unit of the Congress party reflects poorly on its national leadership. The underlying issue however has now evolved to a stage where it’s no longer about the ineptitude of the Congress leadership. There’s a more serious problem that is apparent and it’s about the shortcomings of the entire political process in a border state which a generation ago suffered on account of secessionist violence.
Punjab’s former CM Amarinder Singh was widely regarded as the most powerful of Congress satraps who was dealing with the party’s weakest high command in living memory. In this backdrop, if Amarinder had to leave in ignominy it’s because the party rank and file were under pressure from the electorate. On the issues that triggered the pressure- unresolved sacrilege cases, tardy progress in controlling drug mafia and the inability to find a way out in the farmers’ agitation- there is no political party that has either articulated a meaningful solution or has earned the electorate’s trust. The Sidhu resignation episode is directly linked to the inability to even agree on a way to resolve the underlying issues.
The danger now is that a section of the population may be persuaded to believe that the solutions lie outside the political system. It’s no longer about just the Congress party’s ineptitude.
There is an assembly election ahead in less than six months. The political class should be mindful of the risks at the current juncture and tailor messages in keeping with the situation.
4.A jobs problem: Labour data in India is lagged and patchy. But supply-demand mismatch is still clear
India’s economy has been slowing down since 2017-18. Three successive years of dropping GDP growth rate, followed by a contraction last year. Given this context, the big question is what’s happened in the job market? On Monday, GoI unveiled a quarterly report on employment for April-June, which estimates the labour demand of nine handpicked non-farm sectors by surveying establishments with 10 people or more. Release of demand side estimates has been patchy and the latest one has many gaps. The takeaway is not that job creation grew by 29% in seven years, but that only a million jobs have been added annually over the last seven years.
This is troubling. When the demand side estimate is juxtaposed with supply of labour estimated by GoI through household surveys, the overarching trend is one of inadequate non-farm jobs. The periodic labour force survey (PLFS), both annual and quarterly, also shows a marked deterioration in the quality of jobs. While demand and supply side estimates are not strictly comparable because of differing dates, they do provide an overview of the jobs scenario. The annual PLFS (July 2019-June 2020) shows that there is a shift in employment pattern since 2018 towards agriculture and informality.
The quarterly PLFS captures only urban trends and the last available one (October-December 2020) confirms the shift away from salaried jobs. The percentage of salaried jobs in October-December 2020 was 48.7%, lower than the 52.7% during the intense lockdown phase of April-June 2020. The unemployment rate of 10.3% in October-December 2020 was higher than the 7.9% of the corresponding period in 2019. And even more indisputable is the hit female participation in the workforce has taken. GoI’s latest report also confirms that. India has a jobs problem. The first step to dealing with it is releasing data consistently and also reducing lags. The urban PLFS is released with a lag of nine months and the combined one takes longer. This ensures policy-making while flying blind. Second, we need a far bigger industrial manufacturing sector. The second solution GoI recognises. It should recognise the first one, too.
5.The incoherence in the Congress
The Congress leadership — which in the current context primarily means the brother-sister duo of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra — invested their political capital and authority in Punjab. They first decided that Captain Amarinder Singh would not be able to lead the party to victory in 2022 and appointed his arch-rival Navjot Singh Sidhu as party president. The leadership thought this would neutralise anti-incumbency, but all it did was deepen the factional divide. Then, within weeks, they decided that a dual power arrangement won’t work and orchestrated a situation which made Captain Singh’s continuation untenable. After a series of names did the rounds as replacements — Ambika Soni, Sunil Jakhar, and Sukhjinder Randhawa — the party appointed Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit leader, as the new chief minister (CM). It patted itself on the back for what it thought was a masterstroke in creating a Jat Sikh-Dalit Sikh alliance with Mr Sidhu as party chief and Mr Channi as CM, but as this newspaper pointed out last week, the party had possibly sown the seeds of a deeper divide. From two major factions, that of Captain Singh and Mr Sidhu, five factions emerged — that of Mr Sidhu, Mr Jakhar, Mr Randhawa and Mr Channi, besides that of the former CM.
On Tuesday, the leadership’s experiment collapsed with Mr Sidhu resigning as party chief, less than two months after his appointment. The move, apparently driven by Mr Sidhu’s pique over not having his way with appointments, has illustrated the flawed decision-making of the party leadership. The party left a review of the Punjab electoral landscape for too late; it did not display acumen in choosing a party president, for Mr Sidhu has a track record of U-turns and hasn’t displayed the temperament required of political leaders, and depended on his oratory; and in its suspicion of what it sees as the entrenched old guard of the party, relied on advice that did not take into account the complexities of the state.