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.Grim turn: on Srinagar civilian killings
While pursuing terrorists, the administration should also engage with civil society in J&K
The killings of seven civilians in Srinagar in six days mark a grim turn in the situation in the Kashmir Valley. This vicious, mindless violence against commoners, owned up by a group that calls itself the Resistance Front — believed to be a shadow organisation of the Pakistan-based LeT — is yet another reminder of the pathological hatred transnational radical Islamism inspires. The victims include local Muslims who were branded traitors, but the targeting of the Hindu Pandit and Sikh minority communities is unmistakable. Srinagar’s prominent Kashmiri Pandit chemist, Makhan Lal Bindroo, whose decision to stay on through the violent 1990s was seen as a positive omen by the displaced community, was gunned down. The killers used epithets such as ‘RSS stooge’, ‘police informer’ and ‘traitor’ for the victims. Majid Ahmad Gojri and Mohammad Shafi Dar were killed on October 2. On October 7, a Sikh principal and a Kashmir Pandit who had returned to the Valley after taking up a job under the Prime Minister’s special job package for migrant Pandits, were gunned down. Islamist terrorists have sought an ethnic cleansing of the Valley for long. The Pandits had to leave in large numbers in 1990 following violence. After 1994, attacks on minorities became episodic, but not without periodical outrages such as the Wandhama massacre, when 23 Pandits were shot dead in January 1998 and the Chittisinghpura massacre, in which 35 Sikhs were killed in Anantnag in March 2000.
The wave of violence is taking place against the backdrop of an uptick in tourist inflow to the Valley and the Centre’s push to promote a raft of development schemes. The administration is also encouraging the Pandits to return.
2.Simple, but brilliant: on Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Great discoveries can come from simple ideas which are often overlooked
This year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry is for an efficient, “precise, cheap, fast and environmentally friendly” way to develop new molecules using a simple yet novel concept of catalysis — asymmetric organocatalysis. It was awarded to German scientist Benjamin List of the Max Planck Institute and Scotland-born scientist David W.C. MacMillan of Princeton University who independently developed the new way of catalysis in 2000. They came up with “a truly elegant tool for making molecules — simpler than one could ever imagine”. Since then, the process they evolved has led to a “gold rush” in the catalysis field. The multitudes of new organocatalysts developed have helped drive a variety of chemical reactions, in turn accelerating pharmaceutical drug research. The asymmetric organocatalysts have allowed researchers to efficiently produce new molecules with complete certainty of the 3-D orientation or handedness. Molecules naturally present and those synthesised can exist in two forms — right-handed and left-handed, and their properties very often vary depending on their handedness. In the 1950-60s, thalidomide was widely used to treat nausea in pregnant women, but caused severe birth defects. It became clear that the right-handed molecule was highly toxic. But asymmetric organocatalysts allowed the production of molecules of the desired mirror image form. While using other catalysts that require isolation and purification of each intermediate product — leading to loss of substance at every stage — asymmetric organocatalysts allow several steps in molecule production to continue without interruption, minimising waste.
In 2001, the three scientists who first developed asymmetric catalysts won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But such catalysts often use heavy metals, making
3.Fare thee well: AI’s sale is a pivotal moment for GoI and Tata
Almost 90 years after it was founded and after 68 years of nationalisation, Air India is going home. Tata Sons, holding company of the Tata group which started the airline, won the bid to buy out Air India, Air India Express and 50% stake in Air India SATS. The Tata group, which already has a stake in two separate airline firms, valued the enterprise at Rs 18,000 crore, about 39% higher than the reserve price estimated by GoI.
The highlight is the resoluteness and pragmatism shown by GoI. After a botched attempt to sell a majority stake in Air India in 2017, the current privatisation exercise, which kicked off in January 2020 was underpinned by a realistic assessment of the situation. Air India loses about Rs 20 crore a day and has been kept afloat only through government guaranteed debt to offset a negative net worth of about Rs 32,000 crore. Given the situation, GoI’s pragmatism came in the form of retaining Rs 46,262 crore of debt to sell the airline. This debt will be paid off partly by selling the airline’s non-core assets such as real estate.
Opposition to privatisation is often from employees. Here too, a sensible deal has been struck. Jobs will be protected for at least a year, with the promise of a VRS if downsizing is later deemed necessary. GoI will protect post-retirement medical benefits. Air India in many ways was the toughest entity to privatise. Now that a milestone has been crossed, GoI needs to press the accelerator on easier ones such as BPCL and the IPO of LIC. Public finance has to adapt to society’s changing needs. Selloffs in physical capital are essential because the ongoing fourth industrial revolution needs massive investment to upgrade human capital. GoI deserves credit and hopefully Air India will regain its glory.
4.Equal before law: What SC said on Lakhimpur applies cross-party
Justice must be done and must also be seen to be done. It is alright for the law and order machinery to be careful in sorting out all the conflicting narratives in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, which can take time, but this process can only inspire confidence if it investigates all suspects equally. Yesterday, the Supreme Court bench that has taken suo motu notice of the case put its finger on the politically charged question of whether Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son has been getting special treatment.
It urged, “Treat him the same way we treat other persons in other cases.” The long stonewalled pursuit of police reforms is at core about this problem, that the institution’s independence and integrity are terribly compromised by political influences.
Today SP’s Akhilesh Yadav is asking for Teni’s resignation to ensure an unbiased probe, but when he was CM he resisted the calls to fire rape-accused Gayatri Prajapati, who was booked only on a SC directive and then too evaded arrested for nearly a month. In Lakhimpuri Kheri, what SC underlined yesterday is that a very brutal murder of eight people has taken place and usually if a 302 (murder) case is registered police go and arrest the accused. The Yogi Adityanath government says two arrests have indeed been made, but that does not explain why Ashish Mishra has not even been questioned yet.
5. The killings in Kashmir
India has a hard task ahead. Boost security, nab terrorists, ensure communal peace. Figure out a Kashmir strategy that combines democracy, dignity, and rights for all
Relatives of ML Bindroo mourn his death at his residence in Srinagar, October 6, 2021. Bindroo was shot dead Tuesday evening near his shop by militants (PTI) PREMIUM
A Kashmiri Sikh school principal, a Dogra school teacher, a Kashmiri Pandit chemist, two Kashmiri Muslims, and a worker from Bihar in Kashmir have been shot dead in Srinagar in the past week. Each killing is a tragedy, but when each killing is possibly a part of a larger design — to impose a fanatical agenda, to destroy the communal fabric, to trigger a response which would only lead to more bloodshed, and to deepen a conflict — it is not just a tragedy but a larger game-plan, possibly hatched by Pakistan, which has a track record of sponsoring terror, which must be resisted.
Four features of the killings stand out. One, minorities in Kashmir are being targeted for just that — being minorities. This is an eerie reminder of the dark days of 1990 when Kashmiri Pandits were killed, threatened and forced to flee. Two, irrespective of the exact terror organisation that is behind the current set of attacks, its aim is to both challenge Indian sovereignty in the Valley and impose an extreme, violent, and intolerant brand of religious homogeneity. Three, Pakistan or at the very least, some section of the Pakistani establishment, would have, in the most charitable of explanations, been aware of the killings, or in the more likely of explanations, encouraged it. And four, this could well mark the beginning of a season of turbulence in Kashmir. The winter may offer a reprieve but the summer of 2022 will perhaps be vulnerable from the security point of view. Some of the factors behind this are internal: Lack of a mainstream regional political buffer, potential for radicalisation and indoctrination of the young, the fact that terrorists can quite easily generate a sense of fear making the work of security forces difficult. And some are external — an emboldened Pakistan, a more powerful Inter-Services Intelligence than it has been in decades, a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with terror affiliates thrilled to shift focus to Kashmir.