DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 06 MAY 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

06 May 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Against Excess

The Hindu

2

From Prison, A Covid Alert

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

RBI's Covid relief

Syllabus– GS 3: Indian economy

Analysis: –

  • To soften the blow of the second pandemic on low-income groups, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will provide Rs 10,000 crore for three years at the repo rate to small finance banks (SFBs) to lend individuals, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), etc.
  • The RBI incentivised SFBs to lend microfinance institutions (MFIs) by granting priority sector lending status to such exposures.
  • Credit will be up to 10 per cent of a bank’s priority-sector portfolio as of March 31, 2021. While the facility is there until March 31, 2022, loans disbursed will continue to be classified as priority-sector lending till the date of repayment/maturity, whichever is earlier.
  • RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the central bank would conduct special three-year long-term repo operations (SLTROs) of Rs 10,000 crore at the repo rate to provide cheap liquidity to SFBs.
  • They can deploy such funds for fresh lending of up to Rs 10 lakh. This facility will be available for SFBs until October 31.
  • While the benefits from the liquidity window are clear, usage may vary.
  • “Eventual utilisation under this window (SLTRO) would depend on the risk appetite of SFBs as these advances are not guaranteed by the government, unlike the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme, which was fully guaranteed,” said Ramya Muraledharan, director (ratings), Brickwork Ratings.
  • Unlike the asset-quality stress cycle five years ago, which involved large companies, this time smaller accounts, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and retail, are more vulnerable to the pandemic’s second wave.
  • Ajay Kanwal, chief executive officer, Jana Small Finance Bank, said cheap funds from the RBI were welcome. The focus of the package is on financial inclusion.

One Nation, One Ration off to slow start

Syllabus

GS 2: Social Issues and Social Justice

Analysis: –

  • Ration card portability has been the cornerstone in migrant labour discussions, including a draft migrant labour policy by Niti Aayog this year.
  • In the backdrop of last year’s migrant crisis, the government held high their efforts to expand the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme, enabling migrant workers to receive their entitled food grains from any fair price shop in the nation using their Aadhaar card.
  • In his June 2020 address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The biggest benefit of the One Nation One Ration Card scheme will be to those poor workers who leave their villages and migrate elsewhere for livelihood.”
  • With local lockdowns gradually increasing and with cities witnessing another migrant exodus, interviews with researchers, field workers, and the migrant workers they work with show the logistical hurdles still facing the programme a year after its initial implementation.
  • Transactions of the scheme, although growing, remain low.
  • In total, only a little over 50,000 transactions have been made across state borders, of which almost 90 per cent has been in the past year, according to the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System portal.

Mains Analysis

Against Excess

Why in News?

A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously declared a Maharashtra law, which provides reservation benefits to the Maratha community taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, unconstitutional.

Syllabus– GS2: Issues related to Fundamental Rights (Reservations).

Background: –

  • In striking down the separate reservation given to Maharashtra’s Maratha community, the Supreme Court has underscored the importance of adhering to the 50% limit on total reservation, as well as the need to justify any excess by showing the existence of exceptional circumstances.
  • In a decision that will be quite unpalatable to mainstream parties, the Court has not only found no merit in the Maratha claim to backwardness but also said the community is adequately represented in public services.
  • It is no surprise that the Maratha quota, given by Maharashtra through a 2018 law, did not survive judicial scrutiny by a Constitution Bench.
  • The Supreme Court struck down the findings of the Justice N.G. Gaikwad Commission which led to the enactment of Maratha quota law and set aside the Bombay High Court judgment which validated the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018. The five-Judge Bench has held that the State has not shown any exceptional circumstance to justify exceeding the limit.
  • The Indira Sawhney judgment had categorically said “50% shall be the rule, only in certain exceptional and extraordinary situations for bringing far-flung and remote areas population into mainstream said 50% rule can be relaxed”.

Why do the politically, socially and economically dominant Marathas want reservation?

  • On August 9, 2016 Marathas under the banner of Maratha Kranti Morcha came together at Aurangabad to protest the rape and killing of a 15-year-old girl in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. Although Kopardi was the trigger, the Maratha consolidation, leading to 58 silent, but massive, rallies across the state between 2016-17, was centred on reservation for the community in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • The mammoth public attendance at the leaderless and apolitical rallies made inroads from cities to villages to taluka levels across Maharashtra
  • In the second phase of agitation between 2017-18, street protests took a violent turn and even led ot some suicides.
  • The first case of suicide demanding Maratha reservation took place in Kannad taluka of Aurangabad district.
  • Marathas proclaimed they would not settle for anything less than reservation. Ek Maratha, Lakh Maratha — was the slogan coined to show their might.

Why was the M G Gaikwad Commission set up?

  • Sensing the growing aggression amongst the Marathas, the ruling BJP government lead by then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis set up a 11-member commission headed by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad on June 2017.
  • After detail study and depositions from various groups and individuals, the commission submitted a report stating Marathas should be given reservation under Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC).
  • Although the commission recommended reservation, it did not specify the quota percentage and left it to state government.

Issue at hand

  • The Supreme Court has underscored the importance of adhering to the 50% limit on total reservation, as well as the need to justify any excess by showing the existence of exceptional circumstances.
  • Court found the Maharashtrian govt’s claim without merit and at the same time said the community is “adequately represented” inn public services.
  • The “Maratha quota”, given by Maharashtra through a 2018 law, did not survive judicial scrutiny by a Constitution Bench.
  • The 16% quota in admissions to educational institutions and jobs in public services — later brought down to 12% in admissions and 13% in jobs through a 2019 amendment — took the total reservation in the State beyond the 50% ceiling imposed by earlier verdicts.
  • The court found no exceptional situation in the state to justify the breach of the ceiling of 50 percent.
  • SC also set aside the ruling of state HC which gave the reason that denial of reservation was pushing the Maratha community deeper into social and educational backwardness.

Constitutional Provisions: –

  • The Constitution Amendment Act had introduced Articles 338B and 342A in the Constitution.
  • Article 338B deals with the newly established National Commission for Backward Classes.
  • Article 342A empowers the President to specify the socially and educationally backward communities in a State.
  • It says that it is for the Parliament to include a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes for grant of reservation benefits.
  • The court had delved into whether Article 342A stripped State Legislatures of their discretionary power to include their backward communities in the State Lists.

Potential challenges

  • Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider the 50% limit set down by a verdict in Indra Sawhney Case (1992) may threaten the continuance of different kinds of reservation in States.
  • Interpretation of the 102nd Constitution Amendment, by which a National Commission for Backward Classes was created, has proved right fears that the national body’s role and power may impact the rights of States.
  • The supreme while giving judgment, had framed six questions of law on the issue; it unanimously agreed on three issues, while on the other three, the verdict was spilt.

Important Issues: –

Issue 1: On Revisiting the Indra Sawhney Ruling:

The key question before SC is whether the 1992 ruling in the Indra Sawhney case had to be revisited.

What is Indra Sawhney or Mandal Case of 1992?

It is a 9-judge bench ruling that upheld the Mandal Commission report by laying down two important precedents:

The criterion for a group to qualify for reservation is “Social & Educational Backwardness”.

It reiterated the 50% limit to vertical quotas reasoning that it was needed to ensure “Efficiency” in the administration

This 50% limit is breached only in exceptional circumstances.

What is the Verdict on this issue?

The state govt in support of the Maratha quota that exceeded the 50% limit argued that the Indra Sawhney verdict must be revisited because an arbitrary ceiling is not envisaged by the Constitution.

In a unanimous ruling, the court declined to revisit the case by saying that although the ceiling was arbitrary in 1992 but now it is Constitutionally recognized.

Issues 2&3: On whether the Maratha law can be saved under the exception.

On the question of Whether the Maratha quota falls under the exceptional circumstances contemplated in Mandal Case.

The court looked into Maharashtra State Backward Commission Report & also the States argument which says it has an 85% backward class population but only a 50% reservation limit.

So the case falls under exceptional circumstances ground.

But the court rejected the argument on grounds that Marathas are dominant forward class & are in the mainstream of National life.

Issues 4,5,6: On State’s power to identify SEBCs, & 102nd Amendment:

What is 102nd Amendment?

The 102nd Constitutional Amendment gives Constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission.

It also empowers the President to notify backward classes.

Several states have opposed the amendment on grounds that it essentially curtails states’ powers.

The supreme court has passed the following judgment on this issues with a 3:2 majority:

The National Backward Classes Commission set up under Article 338B will recommend a new list of SEBCs for states & a central list to the President who say regarding inclusion or exclusion of SEBCs is final.

In case of modification or exclusion from the lists initially published the power lies with Parliament.

Under Article 142, SC also issued a direction that says, Until a new list of SEBCs publishes, existing lists operating in all States & UTs for all purposes continue to operate.

What will be its impact socio-political of the order?

  • Marathas, who constitute 32 per cent of state population, are a major political force to reckon with in Maharashtra.
  • The discontent amongst the community is likely to manifest once again.
  • The divide between rich and poor Marathas could manifest in new form of politics and protests.
  • The complex reservation politics had set the process of polarisation between Marathas versus OBCs.
  • With SC’s order, it is likely to sharpen the divide on reservation.

Way Forward: –

  • The Court has ruled that, there will only be a single list of socially and educationally backward classes with respect to each State and Union Territory notified by the President of India, and that States can only make recommendations for inclusion or exclusion, with any subsequent change to be made only by Parliament.
  • The Court has now ruled that Parliament’s intent was to create a scheme to identify SEBCs in the same manner as SCs and STs.
  • The President alone, to the exclusion of all other authorities, is now empowered to identify SEBCs.

Question: –

Explain how the separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) 21 (due process of law). What is the socio- political impact of the Supreme Court judgement?

From Prison, A Covid Alert

Why in News?

The author talks about the need for urgent attention to check mass infections in Overcrowded jails, where in April alone 5 deaths & 200+ cases are reported in Delhi jails.

Syllabus-

– GS2: Issues related to the Criminal Justice System.

What is the issue?

  • As Delhi continues to face over 25k cases & 300+ deaths daily, its prisons are the most overcrowded & have the highest occupancy rate in the country they have ever been.
  • The prisons of Delhi at present have 20k+ prisoners against the sanctioned 10k strength because
  • During the pandemic, the rate of arrests has been increased.
  • The recommendation to reject extension interim bails & emergency paroles on the backdrop of low positivity rate during Feb.
  • Failures of decongestion efforts as some inmates were not willing to be released as they found prisons to be safer than their home localities.
  • Failure of the criminal justice system to make shifts the pandemic necessitated.
  • The reduced functioning of courts further delayed trials, prolonging the incarceration period of under-trial prisoners.
  • Jail authorities lack data on the current prevalence of testing & reports of inmates being denied COVID tests for days despite exhibiting symptoms.
  • The rising fears of an unchecked spread of infection & death toll loom large.
  • The utter lack of priority being accorded to prisoners today is troubling where the previous assessment of the sufficiency of oxygen concentrators & other medical equipment within jails taken place in Jan.
  • The continued apathy from courts on the prison conditions.
  • Since no orders have come from higher courts, either suo motu or on petitions listed before them seeking measures to ensure the prisoner’s safety.
  • Lack of action by govt even after jail authorizes requests for the temporary release of prisoners.

The India Justice Report 2020 (IJR)

The India Justice Report 2020 (IJR) released last month provides a good analysis that could form the basis of a sustainable programme of decongesting prisons. The report points out that undertrials constitute nearly 70% of all prison inmates. In 35 states and UTs, the share of undertrial inmates was above 50%. Over five years, the share of undertrial prisoners shows an increasing trend in 23 states/UTs

What needs to be done?

  • It is more imperative than ever for authorities to determine the urgent interventions necessary for safeguarding the fundamental right to life of prisoners.
  • The decongestion measure has to be taken
  • by setting up temporary prisons or
  • by issuing new criteria for releasing prisoners provided they are willing & safe passage can be provided to them.
  • Further restricting the interaction of inmates with jail staff is crucial.
  • Since authorities suspect the asymptomatic jail officials have contributed to the virus spread.
  • Periodical release of data on the prevalence of testing, infection & vaccination as well as medical infra status in jails.

Way Forward: –

  • During these times, when the virus is spreading fast, prisoners and their families would be concerned about the safety of each other.
  • The lack of communication makes it worse and leaves a prisoner with uncertainty, anxiety which affects the mental well-being of a person.
  • When the lockdown happened, many people tweeted about how they feel they are in a prison, but all of us in lockdown at least had internet or a phone to connect with our loved ones, play online games, or keep ourselves engaged.
  • A prisoner has none of that and they often don’t even have a TV.
  • Recreational activities are conducted by visiting NGOs, which have also been stopped and there are no educational activities either.
  • At a time of critical shortages in hospital infrastructure & oxygen supply, the state cannot abdicate its responsibility to safeguard prisoners’ lives by forcibly releasing them & leaving them to fend for themselves.
  • The need of the hour is to take proactive steps by govt to safeguard the prisoners by using innovative steps & sustainable ways.

Question: –

At a time of critical shortages in hospital infrastructure & oxygen supply, there is a challenge for state to safeguard prisoners’ lives by forcibly releasing them & leaving them to fend for themselves. Discuss.

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