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Editorial Today (English)

in this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The livemint,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. Now, farmers, it is your turn

Little is to be gained by prolonging the ongoing confrontation between a large section of farmers and the central government. The farmers have stuck, so far, to the maximalist demand of repealing the three farm laws the government has newly legislated, whereas the government has made significant concessions. The government has offered to hold the new laws in abeyance for one-and-a-half years, during which all matters can be discussed relating to the new laws. It is up to the farmers to take the government up on its offer to suspend the laws till next June.

Now, it is common sense that holding the laws in abeyance till shortly before important state assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and one-and-a-half years before the next general elections are due effectively means suspending the operation of the contentious laws for the remainder of this government’s term. This is a very major concession. At one point, agriculture minister Tomar is reported to have invited the Unions to negotiate, during the period when the laws are held in abeyance, all contentious issues, including whether to repeal the laws or not. The farmers should match the step retreated by the government from its rigid position and agree to withdraw the agitation pending early negotiations with the government on everything related to enhancing the livelihoods dependent on farming. For the government, the farmers’ agitation is a global embarrassment. For the farmers, to agitate in the cold of the Delhi winter is to suffer extreme hardship, to which, some have succumbed.

The time bought by suspending the agitation and the three farm laws must be utilised to create a vibrant new link between farmers and their end-consumers. The government’s promise to double the farmer’s income by 2022 depends on creating market linkages for agriculture. That means building warehouses that can issue receipts and building a power grid that would supply power even during the day, to fuel a new revolution in rural value addition.

2. Law’s not on whim, fancy or phone call

Comedian Munawar Faruqui, after spending 35 days in Indore Central Jail and being granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on Friday, was released late Saturday night, but not before a Supreme Court judge called up the Indore chief judicial magistrate to check that the bail had been executed. This, after the jail authorities had allegedly refused to comply on Friday as they had ‘not received any official order’ staying an order from the Prayagraj CJM for Faruqui’s production before him. If these proceedings (sic) were not grave, they would have been comic.

The charge levelled — by a Madhya Pradesh MLA, no less — against Faruqui has become rather hackneyed: ‘hurting religious sentiments’. He had also seemingly hurt non-religious sentiments in one of his performances by cracking a joke about a Union minister, something newspaper cartoons do several times a day without being deemed illegal. The defence maintained that the charges filed were ‘vague’ and that due process had not been followed in his arrest, submissions disregarded by the MP High Court but readily accepted by the Supreme Court. How divergence of legal perspective reflects on the working of the high court is a matter of concern.

The law works according to procedures, not on whim, fancy and phone calls. Apart from the fact that the state and its arms need to encourage the development of thicker skins, not of hair-trigger sensitivities, for the sake of a liberal India that can focus on genuine crimes and problems, India should be made to behave less like a banana republic. Otherwise, it runs the risk of becoming a selective banana republic, on the peel of which some people can be made to slip at the behest of others. That would be tragic, not slapstick.

3.Tamil Nadu’s blunder: AIADMK backs agri reforms at Centre, its state farm loan waiver undercuts them

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami last week informed the state assembly that his government will waive Rs 12,110 crore of crop loan issued to 1.64 million farmers by cooperative banks. The loan waiver comes ahead of an assembly election that will take place in summer. Another important context is that Palaniswami is a strong supporter of the central farm laws to reform agriculture and also the leader of a political coalition in which BJP is a junior partner. The state BJP leaders are supportive of their ally’s loan waiver scheme.

These developments show how incoherently political consensus is built to bring about agricultural reforms. A compelling case for central farm laws comes from the distortions that have arisen on account of the existing agricultural subsidy regime. The collateral damage of this regime includes sinking water tables and worsening air quality in north India. Agricultural reform does not mean ending support to farmers. It requires a change in the nature of support from indirect subsidies to more direct ones like income support some states and the Centre provide through transfers into bank accounts.

One of the harmful distortions comes through government subsidies in the form of a loan waiver, such as the one promised by TN. Between April 2014 and September 2019, RBI said 10 states waived farm loans aggregating Rs 2.4 lakh crore. It’s huge, bigger than the two national loan waivers of 1990 and 2008 put together, even after accounting for inflation. Loans that are waived are paid off by the states but over a period of time. This damages the banking system. It spoils the repayment culture and also affects future credit outflow as banks begin to look for safer options.

Political parties can’t have it one way at the Centre and another way in the states. Instead of undermining the case for reforms in this fashion, indirect subsidies should be phased out, which is easy now because the mechanism for direct bank transfers is in place. TN’s loan waiver works out to about Rs 73,706 per farmer, more than 12 times the Centre’s annual income support of Rs 6,000. If this sum had come through a direct transfer, it would have built a case for backing market-oriented reforms, which both AIADMK and BJP support. Instead, we have one more instance of an indirect subsidy which will trigger collateral damage.

4.Problem of plenty: Stream of Trinamool leaders joining it worries BJP in Bengal, and slows

BJP is sensing a huge opportunity in Bengal. On Saturday party chief JP Nadda flagged off the first of five “parivartan” yatras in the state. On Sunday Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited it for the second time in two weeks. In fact BJP is leaving no stone unturned – from laying claim to the legacy of Netaji Subhas Bose to promising new infra projects and new jobs – to make the lotus bloom in Bengal. And most tellingly, the party has seen a steady stream of TMC leaders join its ranks in the last few months.

On the one hand this underlines that BJP has the tailwinds and has potentially solved its old problem of lacking charismatic Bengali faces – especially after former TMC ministers Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee switched sides. On the other hand there is growing disquiet within the party over the new inductees, with the old guard feeling marginalised. This recently forced BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya to announce that the party was halting “mass joinings” of leaders from TMC. Besides, there is a perception that many of the TMC defectors were anyway facing anti-incumbency in their respective constituencies and would not have got tickets for the forthcoming election from their old party.

There are also apprehensions that inducting TMC members accused of corruption and extortion – charges BJP has been levelling against the Mamata Banerjee government – could prove a costly stain on the lotus. Finally, there is resentment among grassroots BJP cadre now having to work with their former political rivals. In fact, there have been several clashes between the BJP old-timers and new entrants. But even as BJP now becomes more circumspect about new inductees Mamata will keep raising headwinds for its project by emphasising that the turncoats have entered “BJP washing machine” black.

5. The need for judicial distance and restraint

On Saturday, at an event to launch a commemorative stamp to mark 60 years of the Gujarat High Court (HC), Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice MR Shah hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “our most popular, vibrant and visionary leader”. Gujarat HC Chief Justice (CJ) Vikram Nath attributed Mr Modi’s popularity to his “sense of fairness and dedication towards his duties” and added that the PM has shown his resolve to ensure “the security of the entire world”. Justice Nath also praised Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani for his “inspirational leadership.” These interventions about the political leadership come in the backdrop of another senior judge of SC, Justice Arun Mishra (now retired), having praised Mr Modi as a “versatile genius” last year.

Judges are also citizens, and, as citizens, within their rights to hold private political views. But judges also have a constitutional responsibility to safeguard the Constitution, a key pillar of which is the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary. They not only have to be fair but also have to be seen as being fair, especially since the government is a key litigant in a range of cases they have to decide on. Faith in the judiciary often rests on the faith that judges will not allow their personal preferences to dictate judicial decisions.

At a time when judicial decisions are increasingly seen as aligned with executive preferences, or when the judiciary has come under criticism for inconsistency or delays, such remarks will only fuel doubts about the independence of the judiciary and whether members of the bench are perhaps too overawed by the leader of the executive branch. Judges must exercise restraint and independence.





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