DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 25 MAR 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

25 MARCH 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Assessing India’s counter to ‘diminishing democracy’

 The Hindu

2

With positive growth rate even during the pandemic, what Bangladesh can teach India

Indian Express

3

Why privatising public assets is poor economics, impetus to greater wealth inequality

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Tactical abstention: on the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lank

Syllabus –

GS 2- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Analysis: –

  • India has abstained from voting in the United Nations Human Rights Council on a resolution on alleged human rights violations by Sri Lanka during the final days of the Tamil Eelam war.
  • India has signalled its unwillingness to upset its neighbour. At the same time, it does not want to be seen as ignoring Sri Lanka’s reluctance to meet the political aspirations of the Tamils or endorsing the country’s stubborn refusal to ensure any sort of accountability for its war-time past.
  • The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR, herein CHR) that had been strongly criticized for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.
  • The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the UN’s special body.

'Double mutant': What are the risks of India's new Covid-19 variant

Syllabus – 

GS 3- Science and tech

Analysis: –

A new “double mutant” variant of the coronavirus has been detected from samples collected in India.
  • Scientists are checking if the variant, where two mutations come together in the same virus, may be more infectious or less affected by vaccines.
  • Like all viruses, the coronavirus keeps changing in small ways as it passes from one person to another.
  • The vast majority of these mutations are inconsequential and don’t alter the way the virus behaves.
  • But some mutations trigger changes in the spike protein that the virus uses to latch on to and enter human cells – these variants could potentially be more infectious, cause more severe disease or evade vaccines.
  • Vaccines against respiratory pathogens like SARS-Cov2, the virus that causes Covid-19, protect us by stimulating our bodies to make antibodies.

Parliament passes National Commission for Allied, Healthcare Professions Bill

Syllabus –

 GS 2- Governance;

Analysis: –

  • Parliament has passed the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2021.
  • The Bill seeks to set up a National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions to regulate and standardize the education and practice of allied and healthcare professionals.
  • The functions of the proposed National Commission include framing of standards for education and practice, creating and maintaining an online Central Register of all registered professionals, providing basic standards of education, and providing for a uniform entrance and exit examination.
  • Under the legislation, only those enrolled in a State Register or the National Register as a qualified allied and healthcare practitioner would be allowed to practice as a allied and healthcare practitioner.
  • The Bill defines an ‘allied health professional’ as an associate, technician, or technologist trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment. Such a professional should have obtained a diploma or degree under this Bill.
  • A ‘healthcare professional’ includes a scientist, therapist, or any other professional who studies, advises, researches, supervises, or provides preventive, curative, rehabilitative, therapeutic, or promotional health services.
  • Such a professional should have obtained a degree under this Bill.

CBSE launches new assessment framework for Classes 6 to 10

Syllabus –

 GS 2- Governance; Education

Analysis: –

  • The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today announced a suggested competency-based assessment framework for classes 6-10 based on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • As per the board, the framework will replace the “existing rote learning model and will focus on assessing students based on their competencies needed to solve day-to-day problems.
  • The framework is the basis for a larger project exercise currently underway where 40 assessment designers, 180 test item writers and 360 master trainer mentors are being trained in using this framework to create a model question bank and collection of ideal lesson plans.

Mains Analysis

Assessing India’s counter to ‘diminishing democracy’

Why in News: –

The first three weeks of March saw major developments in the ongoing drama over international assessment of how New Delhi has overseen the functioning of Indian democracy in the recent past.

Syllabus: 

GS-2: –Features, amendments, significant provisions, basic structure; Comparison of Indian constitutional scheme with other countries’

 

  • The annual reports of the United States-based Freedom House and the Swedenbased V-Dem Institute had downgraded and redesignated Indian democracy.
  • The farmers’ safety and curbs to press freedom in the context of the ongoing protests by farmers were debated in the British Parliament.

Three elements to assess its response: –

  1. Aggressive: –
    • Something more layered is replacing the reliance on hard sovereignty.
    • While the establishment continues to underline the internal nature of the issues raised, it is also beginning to counter the criticisms aggressively.
    • The strongest evidence of this yet came from a discussion in the Rajya Sabha, on March 15, 2021, on racism in the United Kingdom.
    • It appeared to implicate everyone, from the royals to society at large, in systemic racism.
    • India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar noted the concern on behalf of the government and made the assurance that it would be taken up with the U.K. even as India would ‘monitor these developments very, very closely’.
    • Earlier, on March 9, 2021, in response to the debate in the U.K. Parliament on the ‘safety of farmers’ and ‘press freedom’ in India, the Indian High Commission in London had noted the ‘need to set the record straight’ regardless of claims of ‘friendship and love for India’ professed by anyone.
    • The statement was brash, while the location from which it was released was symbolically significant.

 

The response is also becoming fine-tuned.

  • The London statement called India ‘the largest functioning democracy in the world’. The key word here was ‘functioning’.
  • The emphasis had moved from the size of Indian democracy to its
  • Further, the London statement mentioned India’s ‘well established independent democratic institutions.
  • This formulation sought to counter the allegations that authority has become increasingly personalised in India.
  • It asserted the apparent autonomy of Indian institutions.
  • Finally, it has sought to narrow down the scope of the issue and belittle its opponents.
  • A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs on February 3, 2021, arguably put out in response to the celebrity tweets, claimed that a ‘very small section of farmers in parts of India’ had ‘some’ reservations about the farm reforms.
  • It also referred to international critics as ‘fringe elements’ and linked them to desecration of Gandhi statues.
  • This was built upon in the London statement.
  • It referred to the discussion as involving ‘a small group’ of parliamentarians in ‘a limited quorum’.

 

  1. A favourable global situation
    • the assertiveness in the establishment’s response is partly because India currently enjoys a favourable international constellation.
    • Relatively speaking, the novel coronavirus pandemic has spared India and allowed the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer to engage in vaccine diplomacy and position itself as an ‘internationalist’ actor.

Countering Criticisms: –

  • New Delhi has attempted a transference of latitude, leveraging the goodwill generated by ‘Vaccine Maitri’ to counter the criticisms.
  • Thus, in Chennai, Mr. Jaishankar asked what the (presumably western) critics of the Delhi regime had done in comparison with India’s critical health aid to 70 countries.
  • The fact that the western countries have struggled to cope effectively with the pandemic and remain inconsistent as well as, as in Europe, divided in their governmental and medical responses, also makes India look coherent and ‘functional’.

Contemporary crisis within western democracies: –

  • The contemporary crisis within western democracies is deep rooted.
  • While it eludes resolution, the fact is that it has robbed western governments of the reputational privilege and the moral right to criticise what they view as assaults on liberal democratic values.
  • We see governments quiet but streets and legislators vocal.
  • This factor, coupled with their need for India for economic, environmental, and geopolitical reasons, officers New Delhi considerable space for an aggressive response.
  • Finally, the conservative allies in western countries that New Delhi has likely cultivated have also helped it undercut international criticism.
  • Recall the October 2019 visit to Kashmir of about two dozen largely right-wing Members of European Parliament.

 

  1. Key question unanswered
    • In part, as Mr. Jaishankar’s remarks in Chennai showed, it has met facts with rhetoric.
    • In addition, it has questioned the practice of western institutions and civil society of judging and criticising those political processes in non-western democracies that do not match up to western standards.
    • The objection is useful insofar as it checks sorry remnants of western cultural arrogance as well as ‘knowledge imperialism’.
    • But it does not address the fundamental point of the critics, which is that human dignity and freedoms are universal and an assault on them anywhere is an assault on them everywhere.

Way Forward: –

  • New Delhi was well within its rights to offers the sovereignty shrug and say it did not care. But it has engaged the critics, not on facts but on values.
  • If it does not believe that these values apply to all human beings everywhere, regardless of the society and culture in which they find themselves, then it can state it unambiguously.
  • This would deprive its critics of the moral basis for their criticism.
  • Instead of talking about the West let’s talk about the values that we are trying to prove.
  • For in order to effectively counter its critics, the establishment must first confront itself.

Questions: –

To enhance the quality of democracy, India should check the cultural arrogance as well as ‘knowledge imperialism’.  What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful?

With positive growth rate even during the pandemic, what Bangladesh can teach India

Why in News: –

Bangladesh that began as a case study for development is now on top of the global GDP charts.

Syllabus: 

GS-2: India and its Neighbourhood (relations)

Background: –

  • Bangladesh’s GDP growth in 2019 was an enviable 8.4 per centand it is one of the few countries to have maintained a positive growth rate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Its GDP per capita is just under $2,000 — almost the same as India’s.
  • In five years, by 2026, Bangladesh will drop its least developed country tag, and move into the league of developing countries — on a par with India.

Case Study: Vietnam

  • Vietnam instituted market and economic reforms, known as Doi Moi, in 1986, which enabled it to achieve rapid economic growth and industrialisation.
  • It began with the manufacturing of textiles and garments, in which it is now a prominent global player, and moved into making mobiles and electronics.
  • As supply chains diversify from China, Vietnam is a beneficiary.
  • It is now the “+1” in the “China +1” strategy of multinationals and has seen investment rise steadily, especially from Asian countries like Japan and Thailand.
  • Vietnam has been smart in signing trade agreements and inserting itself into global supply chains.
    • It joined ASEAN and that free trade region in 1995.
    • It has free trade agreements with the US and with India, Japan, and China through ASEAN.
  • This enabled Vietnam to skill-up its population for labour-intensive manufacturing produced at scale, thereby bringing down costs and expanding exports.

Bangladesh’s strategy: –

  • Bangladesh enjoys preferential trade treatments with the European Union, Canada, Australia, and Japan with negligible or zero tax.
  • Its rise is directly connected with the textiles and garments industry, which accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s exports.
  • With India too, Dhaka has a zero-export duty on key products like readymade garments.
  • Over the years, Bangladesh has enhanced its agricultural production, power generation, natural gas exploration and production, pharmaceuticals, and foreign remittances.
  • Like Vietnam, its foreign investment regime is investor-friendly.
  • For instance, Bangladesh’s liberal FDI policy allows 100 per cent equity in local companies and no limits on repatriation of profits in most sectors.
  • Indian companies are increasingly present in Bangladesh, and Indian products are popular — an outcome of a strong cultural affinity.

Bangladesh’s Potential: –

  • Bangladesh scores over almost all other developing countries in microfinance — a model it has exported.
  • The world’s most successful and pioneering microfinance organisations like Grameen and BRAC have aided small businesses in the country, and regionally.
  • Many of these schemes, over the years, were directed at women. This has paid dividends not just in financial independence, but also in encouraging them to work outside the home.
  • Consequently, Bangladesh’s workforce in its textiles sector is almost all women — 95 per cent women in an industry which is 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports.
  • Having a woman Prime Minister like Sheikh Hasina as their champion, helps.
  • This, along with government schemes like Pushti Apas (Nutrition Sisters) and community health clinics has helped Bangladesh in the development indices:
    • Bangladesh fares better on infant mortality, sanitation, hunger and gender equality than many countries including India.

Lessons for India, South Asia and the world: –

  • increasing women in the workforce,
  • liberalising internal and external trade
  • making micro lending accessible,
  • being a global hub for the sub region,
  • building special economic zones which requires infrastructure, connectivity
  • a welcoming environment for investors both domestic and foreign.
  • Domestic entrepreneurs create the base for a nation’s small and medium business strength,
  • the jobs and innovation

India- Bangladesh Ties: –

  • On March 26, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Dhaka as the guest of honour for Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary, he will push the button on the long-delayed bilateral connectivity projects, and launch new ones.
  • Ahsan Mansur, chairman of BRAC Bank, said at a seminar last week organised by Gateway House and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, that “both countries have suffered since 1947, without connectivity, at huge cost.

Way Forward: –

  • Now is the time to integrate our power systems, think about free trade, liberalise the visa regime.
  • India need not always carry the burden of South Asia’s development alone.
  • It now has a partner with whom to collaborate effectively towards achieving that goal.

Question: –

Discuss what can India, South Asia and the world learn from Bangladesh’s successful development trajectory?

Why privatising public assets is poor economics, impetus to greater wealth inequality

Why in News: –

The government has adduced no reasons for the proposed privatisation of several public sector assets other than to generate resources for its spending.

Syllabus: 

GS-3: Economy, Investment Infrastructure
  • Current investment expenditure depends on decisions taken in the past and is more or less pre-determined.
  • It is only investment decisions that are taken today for fructification tomorrow that may be scaled down by such a purchase; and if investment decisions taken today are scaled-down, then it is an authentic case of “crowding out” and such a strategy should be avoided anyway.

Concerns: –

  • Selling public sector assets therefore does not “release” any resources from private use for government spending.
  • The resources the government obtains by spending the sale proceeds of public assets are none other than the resources lying idle in the economy.
  • Output that could have been produced by utilising idle capacity and unemployed labour, but is not produced because of lack of demand, now gets produced as demand gets generated by government spending financed by the sale of public assets.

The Scenario: –

  • The government borrows say Rs 100 from banks, uses it for spending, and then sells public assets worth Rs 100 to raise this money and return it to the banks, so that its net indebtedness does not go up.
  • It follows that financing government spending by selling public sector assets is basically no different from a fiscal deficit.
  • In the latter case, the government puts its bonds — directly, or indirectly via banks — in private hands; in the former case, the government puts its equity (held in public sector assets) in private hands.

Fiscal deficit and selling public assets: –

  • The only difference between a fiscal deficit and selling public assets lies in the nature of the government paper that is handed to the private sector, but the macroeconomic consequences of a fiscal deficit on the economy are no different from those of selling public assets.
  • Finance capital, and institutions like the IMF, do not recognise this fact, and treat the sale of public assets on a different footing from a fiscal deficit, for ideological reasons, because they ideologically favour a dismantling of the public sector.

What is wrong with a fiscal deficit?

  • In a situation of demand-constraints, where un utilised capacity and unemployed workers exist aplenty, if an appropriate monetary policy is pursued, it can have no adverse effects whatsoever, except one: It gratuitously increases wealth inequality in society.
  • Abstracting from foreign transactions for simplicity, a fiscal deficit generates an excess of private savings over private investment exactly equal to itself.
  • The government expenditure financed by the fiscal deficit creates additional aggregate demand that increases output and incomes until the additional savings generated out of such incomes exactly match the fiscal deficit.

Savings: –

  • The additional savings accrue to the savers without their having to reduce their consumption, compared to the initial situation (that is, prior to government expenditure increase).
  • Since savings represent additions to wealth, this amounts to putting extra wealth gratuitously into the hands of the rich (who are primarily the savers).
  • If the same government expenditure was financed by taxation, no matter who was taxed, then there would be no addition to private wealth, and hence no increase in wealth inequality.

Avoiding a fiscal deficit: –

  • Avoiding a fiscal deficit is important for this reason, which is why tax-financed government expenditure should always be preferred to fiscal-deficit-financed government expenditure, even when such taxation does not reduce either private consumption or private investment compared to the initial situation.

Selling public assets

  • Selling public assets, which is analogous to a fiscal deficit, also increases wealth inequality quite gratuitously; and it does so by putting into private hands not just wealth in the form of claims on the government (as a fiscal deficit does), but in the form of public assets, and that too at prices well below the capitalised value of earnings (for otherwise private buyers would not accept them).
  • Instead of taxing away the additional wealth that a fiscal deficit puts into private hands, this strategy actually puts public assets into private hands.
  • This increases wealth inequality for two reasons:
    • First, it does so exactly as a fiscal deficit does; and
    • second, the public asset it puts in private hands is under-priced.

The strategic role of the public sector

  • The strategic role of the public sector that should deter privatisation:
    • As a bulwark against multinational corporations’ propensity to arm-twist a third world country; in making loans available (via public sector banks) to a much wider spectrum of the population than would have occurred otherwise (which had made the Green Revolution possible); and so on.
  • The privatisation of public assets for financing government expenditure, is utterly inexcusable.
  • It betrays either poor economics or a determination to increase wealth inequality.

What alternative does the government have?

  1. The obvious one is wealth taxation.
  2. Taxing away the private wealth additionally and gratuitously created by a fiscal deficit leaves private wealth inequality unchanged at its initial level.
  1. Nobody, therefore, should object to it, or even to what comes close to it, namely a larger taxation of profits.
  2. Interestingly, when Elizabeth Warren had suggested wealth taxation during her bid for nomination for American Presidency, 18 top billionaires of that country had backed her and suggested higher taxes on themselves.

Way Forward: –

  • If the government is unwilling to impose higher wealth or profit taxes, it can raise GST rates on several luxury goods, after consultation with the states.
  • Assuming that working people consume what they earn such an increase in indirect taxation matched by an equivalent increase in government expenditure, will still leave post-tax profits in real terms unchanged, while increasing employment and output in the economy.
  • Selling public assets to finance government spending is thus both undesirable and unnecessary.

Questions: –

Critically evaluate the government’s move of privatising the public sector banks.

Started From 14 Mar 2021

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