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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 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. Welcome Move for Pre-Packed Resolution

The government has done well to allow pre-packaged insolvency resolution plans for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with defaults up to ₹1 crore. This debtor-initiated reorganisation plan in advance with creditors on board will give MSMEs a chance to rehabilitate themselves, rather than get liquidated. And those that cannot be restored would have their assets efficiently redeployed. Essentially, pre-packs underline the fundamental purpose of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC): swiftly bring back into a productive framework assets trapped in failing companies, rather than help banks and vendors recover their dues. Speed is vital when a company goes into distress to better the chances of its turnaround as a going concern. So, the time limit of 120 days for completion of a pre-packaged resolution plan is in order. It will help reduce the load on the National Company Law Tribunals.

When the pre-pack process is underway, the management and control will continue with the promoters and directors of the MSME. This will cause minimal disruption in the operations and is, therefore, welcome. However, the Committee of Creditors (CoC), by a 66% vote, can vest the management with the resolution professional (RP) after seeking court approval. If the plan proposed by the MSME is rejected by the CoC or where operational creditors’ dues are impaired, the RP can invite applications for a competing plan (read: akin to Swiss challenge). So, the CoC will be in the driver’s seat. Also, a pre-pack process initiated with an intent to defraud will attract a penalty.

Hardwiring pre-packs into the IBC (through an amendment) to prevent any misuse is fine. This is the first step, and pre-packs should be opened up to bigger MSMEs once the process stabilises.

2.Better Policing, Better Governance

It is welcome that the Maoists have released the lone CoBRA force commando they had taken captive after an ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region that left 22 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force dead. But that does not mean that there is room for any compromise with the Maoists’ rejection of democratic politics and resort to force. What it does show is that there could be non-lethal solutions to left-wing extremism, in the form of surrender by the armed insurgents and adoption of democratic forms of politics.

A villager, it is speculated, tipped off the Maoists about the presence of the security forces, enabling them to strike and kill trained security personnel. At the same time, relations between villagers and security personnel are often fraught. These reflect deficiencies in governance and scope for reform. While romantic notions of the Maoists as liberators of oppressed villagers have little basis, villagers themselves being often at the receiving end of Maoist violence, oppression of villagers is part of India’s sordid reality. This is one reason why Maoists are able to mobilise some support among tribal villagers. It is imperative to address the governance deficit that serves as grist to the Maoist propaganda mill. Similarly, policing should ideally be perceived as an extension of normal governance. In states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana that have successfully combated Maoists, their police force, rather than the paramilitary, took on the task. State police forces speak the language of the local people, know their culture and customs, and are better placed to win their trust and elicit their cooperation.

When mines are opened, roads and pipelines laid or power plants set up in forests, traditional forest dwellers can either be given a stake in the new prosperity coming up on their erstwhile land or they can be cast aside as collateral damage. This is where the democratic imagination had failed in the past and created victims of development. This calls for a paradigm shift, one that also combats left-wing extremism.

3.Fix the design: Indian vaccine drive’s straining, not taking flight. Loosen purse strings for vax companies

With officials in multiple states – including some BJP ruled ones – complaining of vaccine shortages even as the second Covid wave accelerates, the Centre must come clean on vaccine supply. Health minister Harsh Vardhan’s sharp response to Maharashtra’s demand for more vaccines, blaming the state’s containment measures, is unhelpful. States where caseloads are rising sharply must get doses they seek. Centre’s criteria  – those who need the vaccine, not those who want it – isn’t persuasive amid a second wave fuelled primarily by younger people. Bureaucrats deciding who gets what amid several unknowns and variables is a sure recipe for shortages – as indeed are showing up now.

Meanwhile, Serum Institute has asked Centre for Rs 3,000 crore to support efforts to ramp up production. The company’s request signals inability to scale up solely from earnings on Covid-19 vaccine sales. The Rs 150 price point may be choking vaccine production and will likely drive away other vaccine makers. The Centre must recall it had earmarked Rs 35,000 crore in this year’s budget for Covid-19 vaccines. SII’s request is just a fraction of this war chest, while daily economic losses from ongoing movement curbs are several magnitudes higher. SII has shouldered most of the vaccination burden, including a risky Covishield manufacture much ahead of market approval.

The government must take a cue from US’s Operation Warp Speed, accelerating public funding for vaccine companies. The trust in private sector initiative has culminated in President Biden commencing universal adult vaccination from April 19. The Centre could also have allowed parallel vaccine sales in the open market from January, thereby facilitating returns on investment for companies to expand production. Delay in approving other vaccines now being administered to millions across the world, even three months after Covaxin was hurriedly granted emergency use authorisation without completing Phase 3 trials, is another missed opportunity. Even if they are granted approval now, weeks could pass before they are brought to market.

Meanwhile, intensifying movement curbs resemble a limited lockdown. Simplistic, populist solutions damaging the economy without serving any medical or virus suppression purpose – like vaccine rationing and night curfews – make for poor decision making amidst surging cases. Stop the official talk on imposing lockdowns that hurt livelihoods and access to vaccination, harp instead on N95 masking. Further, set up field hospitals and ramp up oxygen supply again, since there’s no knowing how big this second wave will get.

4. Wrong cut: Disbanding appellate tribunal is another blow for filmmakers

Government’s decision to scrap the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal – an appellate authority that filmmakers approach to challenge the decisions of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) – is another blow for the country’s film fraternity. In an ordinance notified earlier this month, government amended the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to clarify that filmmakers aggrieved by the decisions of the CBFC – also known as the censor board – will now have to approach the high courts. This is truly problematic given the huge backlog of cases high courts are already grappling with – they have 57 lakh cases pending.

Thus, it’s difficult to see high courts paying attention to film certification issues with consequent delays mounting costs for film producers. The move also needs to be seen in the context of the film industry’s circumstances since last year. The post-Covid lockdown and restrictions on theatres hit the industry hard. A further jolt was dealt by the Narcotics Control Bureau investigations against certain Bollywood personalities.

All of this is seriously undermining the biggest film industry in the world. Add to this right-wing elements in society frequently filing FIRs for so-called objectionable content – even with respect to content on OTT platforms – and an impression has been created that authorities today take a dim view of the film and entertainment industry as a whole. This is unfortunate because the industry is India’s biggest soft power asset. And at a time of increasingly competitive geopolitics, with the China-Pakistan axis getting increasingly assertive and confronting India with the prospect of a two-front war, soft power can be India’s trump card. Hence, government should be helping the film industry’s creative capabilities to flourish. Rescinding the ordinance disbanding the appellate tribunal would put everybody at ease.

5. Don’t declare a net-zero goal

The US should recognise India’s self-driven progress on the issue, improve its own dismal record of providing green finance and technology, and stop pressuring countries, which are bearing the burden of the historical mistakes of the developed world. That is the way forward in the realm of climate collaboration.

John Kerry, the United States (US) president’s special envoy on climate, was in India this week for discussions on the climate crisis. During his meeting with Mr Kerry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s commitment to meeting its nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, and pointed out that it is among the few countries on track to meet these commitments. Mr Kerry noted that the US would support India’s climate plans by facilitating affordable access to green technologies and finance.

After taking charge, US president Joe Biden announced his country’s return to the Paris climate accord, and is likely to announce a net-zero emission target — the new buzzword in climate diplomacy — for 2050. Achieving net-zero emission implies that all remaining human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are balanced by removing GHGs from the atmosphere. Though diplomatic pressure is building up (58 countries have announced net-zero emission targets), and the US is pushing India to make a similar announcement, New Delhi must resist the pressure, while being constructive. Some believe that such a bold pledge will help India emerge as a climate leader. But this view ignores the fact that under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”, richer countries must lead in paying for their historically high emissions. It also ignores the shift in the Indian mindset on the issue, particularly under this government.






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