DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 26 MAR 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

26 MARCH 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Here is why the electoral bonds scheme must go

 The Hindu

2

Net-zero emission with economic growth? Yes, it’s possible for India

Indian Express

3

Remove the wedges in India-Bangladesh ties

The Hindu

Mains Value Addition

In signal to China, U.S. raised India ties during Alaska talks

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.

DFI is required for the next 25 years of growth: Minister

Syllabus –

 GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Analysis: –

  • The Rajya Sabha recently cleared the legislation to establish the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NBFID), which was announced in the Budget speech by Finance Minister as the principal development financial institution (DFIs) for infrastructure financing.
  • Opposition members argued unsuccessfully for sending the Bill to a select committee, saying that in its present form, there was no scope for “external oversight or surveillance”.
  • Finance Minister, however, said all safeguards had been provided for and an audited report would be placed in Parliament every year.
  • It would be a professionally run body, with only the government appointing the Chairperson.
  • The Bill had safeguards, including the provision that the NBFID had to furnish to the Centre and the RBI a copy of its balance-sheet and accounts.

AYUSH Ministry sets up interdisciplinary team of experts to explore the potential of Yoga as a productivity enhancing tool for the population

Syllabus – GS 1- Indian culture

Analysis: –

  • The committee is chaired by Dr. H. R Nagendra, Chancellor, SVYASA and its members include representatives from AIIMS New Delhi, IIM Bangalore, IIT Bombay, various leading Yoga institutions, the corporate sector and the AYUSH Ministry.
  • In the inception meeting held, the committee recognised that there has been an unprecedented surge in the popularity of Yoga in the past five years, globally.
  • The spiritual connectedness and health benefits of Yoga have been widely embraced by its practitioners.
  • But the productivity dimension of Yoga — its role at the workplace in offering benefits to employees to perform better – remains unexplored to a large extent.
  • This dimension becomes especially important given the increasing physical and mental pressures faced by employees, exacerbated by the current pandemic, even as employers grapple with the situation and try to improve workplace wellness.
  • Some of the members highlighted that Yoga for productivity is a critically important aspect in the present context when India’s growth aspirations are at perhaps its highest.
  • One of the primary tasks of the committee, it was recognised, was to review evidence that linked Yoga to productivity and analyse the same.
  • The various possible directions of the productivity dimension could then be identified systematically, and along these directions, protocols could be developed.

Why no decision on list sent by Collegium, SC asks government

Syllabus –

 GS2- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Analysis: –

  • The Supreme Court recently asked the government to clarify on the status of 55 recommendations made by the Collegium for judicial appointments to High Courts six months to nearly a year-and-a-half ago.
  • Of the pending recommendations, 44 were made to fill vacancies in the Calcutta, Madhya Pradesh, Gauhati, Rajasthan and Punjab High Courts.
  • The remaining 10 names have been pending with the government despite their reiteration by the Collegium.
  • They include five for the Calcutta High Court pending for one year and seven months. The recommendations of four names made by the Collegium to the Delhi High Court have been pending for seven months.
  • This is a matter of grave concern. When do you propose to take a decision?” a Special Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.
  • The total sanctioned strength in the 25 High Courts is 1,080. However, the present working strength is 661 with 419 vacancies as on March 1.
  • Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said on the 10 recommendations, some of which date back to a year-and-a-half, that “neither have they been appointed nor have you (government) given us a response”.
  • Justice Kaul, who was accompanying the Chief Justice and Justice Surya Kant, said the “thought process” of both the government and the Collegium should be modulated.
  • He said a time frame needed to be fixed for both the Collegium and the Ministry to complete the appointment process.

Mains Analysis

Here is why the electoral bonds scheme must go

Why in News: –

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its order on a plea seeking a stay on the sale of fresh electoral bonds ahead of state assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Syllabus: 

GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

What are electoral bonds?

  • Announced in the 2017 Union Budget, electoral bonds are interest-free bearer instruments used to donate money anonymously to political parties.
  • A bearer instrument does not carry any information about the buyer or payee and the holder of the instrument (which is the political party) is presumed to be its owner.
  • The bonds are sold in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore, and the State Bank of India (SBI) is the only bank authorised to sell them.
  • Donors can purchase and subsequently donate the bonds to their party of choice, which the party can then cash through its verified account within 15 days.
  • There is no limit on the number of bonds an individual or company can purchase. SBI deposits bonds that a political party hasn’t enchased within 15 days into the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
  • A total of 12,924 electoral bonds worth Rs 6534.78 crore have been sold in fifteen phases between March 2018 to January 2021.
  • At the time of its announcement, in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech in 2017, electoral bonds were understood to be a way for companies to make anonymous donations.
  • However, the fine print of the notification has revealed that even individuals, groups of individuals, NGOs, religious and other trusts are permitted to donate via electoral bonds without disclosing their details.

Why are the bonds being criticised?

  • The key critique is that, for something meant to bring transparency to the system, electoral bonds actually make political funding more opaque – but only for the public.
  • Companies don’t have to say who they are donating money to and parties don’t need to say from whom they’re getting the cash.
  • Moreover, the other changes regarding foreign firms and profitable companies means that electoral bonds could easily be used by shell firms that have no actual business or profit as a way of channeling money into politics.
  • This isn’t a critique just from opponents of the BJP. This is the critique that came from the Election Commission of India, which told the Supreme Court that it will have a “serious impact” on transparency in political funding and could allow for “unchecked foreign funding” of Indian political parties.

 

Why are electoral bonds being so vehemently opposed by transparency activists?

  • The anonymity provided to donors donating electoral bonds is the point of contention here. Through an amendment to the Finance Act 2017, the Union government has exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
  • In other words, they don’t have to disclose details of those contributing by way of electoral bonds in their contribution reports filed mandatorily with the Election Commission every year.
  • This means the voters will not know which individual, company, or organisation has funded which party, and to what extent.
  • Before the introduction of electoral bonds, political parties had to disclose details of all its donors, who have donated more than Rs 20,000.
  • According to transparency activists, the change infringes the citizen’s ‘Right to Know’ and makes the political class even more unaccountable.
  • “Moreover, while electoral bonds provide no details to the citizens, the said anonymity does not apply to the government of the day, which can always access the donor details by demanding the data from the State Bank of India (SBI).
  • This implies that the only people in dark
  • about the source of these donations are the taxpayers. It may also be noted that the printing of these bonds & SBI commission for facilitating the sale and purchase of the bonds is paid from the taxpayers’ money by the central government,” the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), which has moved the Supreme Court against electoral bonds, had said in a recent statement.

How popular are electoral bonds as a route of donation?

  • In less than three years of their introduction, by virtue of the anonymity they offer to donors, electoral bonds have become the most popular route of donation.
  • More than half the total income of national parties and the regional parties analysed by ADR for the financial year 2018-19 came from electoral bonds donations.
  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the biggest beneficiary of this scheme. In the years 2017-18 and 2018-19, political parties received a total of Rs 2,760.20 crore from electoral bonds, of which Rs 1,660.89 cr or 60.17% was received by the BJP alone.

What is the Election Commission’s stand on electoral bonds?

  • The Election Commission, in its submission to the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in May 2017, had objected to the amendments in the Representation of the People (RP) Act, which exempt political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
  • It described the move as a “retrograde step”. In a letter written to the Law Ministry the same month, the Commission had even asked the government to “reconsider” and “modify” the above amendment.
  • Asking the government to withdraw the new proviso, the EC had written, “In a situation where the contribution received through electoral bonds are not reported, on perusal of the contribution report of political parties, it cannot be ascertained whether the political party has taken any donation in violation of provision under Section 29(b) of the RP Act which prohibits the political parties from taking donations from government companies and foreign sources.”

Value- addition: –

  1. RBI also gives a warning

It wasn’t just the Election Commission that raised red flags about the electoral bonds scheme – there was criticism from the Reserve Bank of India as well.

Question: –

In the light of recent controversy regarding the electoral bonds, what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India?

Net-zero emission with economic growth? Yes, it’s possible for India

Why in News: –

Recently 58 countries announced net-zero emission targets. In the next 30 years, they aim to reduce their emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide and other GHGs, and remove what they do emit through planting trees or advanced technologies. Together these countries account for more than half the world’s current GHG emissions.

Syllabus:

GS 3: Environment, Conservation

  • The International Energy Agency predicts that much of India’s future emissions will come from things that have not yet been built — transport infrastructure, industry, and buildings — pointing to the opportunity to build cleaner.
  • The union territory of Ladakh, the state of Sikkim, the cities of Chennai and Bengaluru, and the panchayat of Meenangadi in Wayanad, Kerala are already planning for carbon neutral development.

What is Net Zero Target?

  • A “net-zero” target refers to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by a selected date under which any emission (carbon dioxide or other GHGs) from any source is balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount of emission from the atmosphere.
  • It differs from zero-carbon, which requires no carbon to be emitted.

Benefits: –

  • Our analysis shows that actions to reduce emissions in different sectors could be the foundation of a stronger economy and a healthier population. Most of India’s thermal power plants use scarce freshwater for cooling.
  • As India moves to cleaner sources of electricity, water consumption by power plants will decrease from more than 2.5 billion cubic metres per year to less than 1 billion cubic metres per year in 2050. Actions to reduce carbon dioxide will also reduce other pollution.
  • A strong set of climate actions across multiple sectors can generate 24 million jobs in just 15 years.
  • For example, more ambitious policies to promote electric vehicles along with cleaner electricity and hydrogen electrolysis can create jobs in the auto manufacturing industry and in the electricity and construction sectors.
  • Some jobs may decline in vehicle maintenance and repair, but far more jobs are likely to be induced by government and household spending.

Challenges:

  • The biggest impact comes from greater electrification and using hydrogen as a fuel in industries like cement, iron and steel, and chemicals.
  • Other big contributions can come by commercially producing hydrogen from electrolysis rather than fossil fuels, and if we retire existing coal power plants earlier than scheduled.
  • There is considerable scope to improve energy efficiency in large industries, and their supply chains of MSMEs which have the potential to save energy but lack capital.
  • Such policies would lead to significant fuel savings and dramatically reduce the country’s crude oil import bill in the long run.
  • The catch is that 25 per cent of the Centre’s tax revenue comes from the energy sector, so weaning away from fossil fuels will also deplete the government’s coffers.
  • One way to offset this loss is through a carbon tax on industry, slowly phased in from a small amount roughly equivalent to the existing coal cess (or GST compensation cess) to reach Rs 2,500 per tonne of carbon dioxide by the middle of the century.
  • We must also prepare for the fact that job gains might not occur in the same locations as job losses.
  • Women, whose participation in the workforce has been harder hit in the pandemic, may not easily be able to access certain new jobs. Most new jobs are expected to be non-unionised, often lacking safety nets.
  • Carbon tax revenues may need to be recycled back to poorer households who spend a large fraction of their income on energy.

Solutions: –

  • In order to become self-reliant in power generation and achieving energy transition towards clean energy, Government has inter-alia taken following measures:

(1) The renewable energy capacity to go up to 450 GW.

(2) Phase-wise retirement of old polluting coal based power plants.

(3) Setting up of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to RE developers on a plug and play basis.

(4) Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Surakshaevam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM), Solar Rooftop Phase II, 12000 MW CPSU Scheme Phase II, etc.

(5) Laying of new transmission lines and creating new sub-station capacity under the Green Energy Corridor Scheme for evacuation of renewable power.

(6) Notifying Bidding Guidelines for tariff based competitive bidding process for procurement of Power from Grid Connected Solar PV and Wind Projects.

(7) Declaring Large Hydro Power (LHPs) (>25 MW projects) as Renewable Energy source.

(8) Hydro Purchase Obligation (HPO) as a separate entity within Non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO).

(9) Tariff rationalization measures for bringing down hydro power tariff.

(10) Budgetary Support for Flood Moderation/Storage Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs).

(11) Budgetary Support to Cost of Enabling Infrastructure, i.e. roads/bridges for hydro projects.

Way Forward:

  • Though the pathways to net-zero target are plagued by certain loopholes on the fairness and compliance front, yet it must be appreciated that countries are taking initiatives in pledging their support to mitigate climate change.
  • We need to respect people’s rights to land and common property resources.
  • Just as we need strong climate policies, we also need strong social policies and local institutions to ensure that the clean energy transition is fair and just.
  • Many of the needed policies are already underway. They need to be accelerated with investments of finance and technology.
  • A net-zero emissions future need not be a zero-sum game.
  • Strong environmental policies can create prosperity and well-being.
  • Thus, a more liberal pathway seems to need an hour. However, a proper mechanism for monitoring and accountability of these long term commitment needs to be put in place.

Questions: –

With imaginative policies, robust institutions, and international finance, India will be able to declare its freedom from polluting fossil fuels in the hundredth year of its independence. Discuss

Remove the wedges in India-Bangladesh ties

Why in News: –

Syllabus: 

Gs2 –International relations /India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • The friendship between India and Bangladesh is historic, evolving over the last 50 years.
  • Political stability and policy continuity have helped Delhi and Dhaka deepen bilateral ties over the last decade.
  • In contrast, political cycles in Delhi and Islamabad have rarely been in sync.

Now it is about cooperation:

  • The relationship remained cordial until the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 15, 1975, followed by a period of military rule and the rise of General Ziaur Rahman who became President and also assassinated in 1981.
  • It thawed again between (1982-1991) when a military led government by General H.M. Ershad ruled the country. Since Bangladesh’s return to parliamentary democracy in 1991, relations have gone through highs and lows.
  • However, in the last decade, India-Bangladesh relations have warmed up, entering a new era of cooperation, and moving beyond historical and cultural ties to become more assimilated in the areas of trade, connectivity, energy, and defence.

 

Bangladesh and India Achievement:

  • Bangladesh and India have achieved the rare feat of solving their border issues peacefully by ratifying the historic Land Boundary Agreement in 2015, where enclaves were swapped allowing inhabitants to choose their country of residence and become citizens of either India or Bangladesh.
  • Bangladesh today is India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia with exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 at $9.21 billion and imports at $1.04 billion.
  • India has offered duty free access to multiple Bangladeshi products. Trade could be more balanced if non-tariff barriers from the Indian side could be removed.
  • On the development front, cooperation has deepened, with India extending three lines of credit to Bangladesh in recent years amounting to $8 billion for the construction of roads, railways, bridges, and ports.
  • However, in eight years until 2019, only 51% of the first $800 million line of credit has been utilised whilst barely any amount from the next two lines of credit worth $6.5 billion has been mobilised.
  • Bangladesh accounts for more than 35% of India’s international medical patients and contributes more than 50% of India’s revenue from medical tourism.
  • India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours and security is very much impotent.
  • The much-awaited railway line between Agartala to Akhaura in Bangladesh will be completed by Sept 2021 and the process for acquisition of land and handing it over to the executing agency in both the countries has been completed.
  • The 15.6 km-long Agartala-Akhaura railway link connects Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India and from Nischintapur to Agartala railway station.
  • India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. A bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) has been working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems,
  • Highlighted that regional organisations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) have an important role to play.

 The connectivity boost:

  • Recently, a 1.9-kilometre-long bridge, the MaitriSetu, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, connecting Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • Three landlocked states of India viz. Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura will get access to open sea trade routes from Chattogram and Mongla ports via Indian ports.
  • Tripura will be connected to Chattogram Port through the MaitreeSetu on Feni river at Sabroom in South Tripura and Ramgarh in Bangladesh. While Agartala is 135 kms from Sabroom, Chattogram port is 75 kms from Sabroom.
  • Cargo transportation through IBP waterway route from Kolkata/ Haldia to North East is limited to 2000 ton vessels.
  • Now, larger ships carrying cargo destined for North East can call at Chattogram and Mongla ports thereby increasing trade volumes and reducing logistic costs.
  • Bangladesh allows the shipment of goods from its Mongla and Chattogram (Chittagong) seaports carried by road, rail, and water ways to Agartala (Tripura) via Akhura; Dawki (Meghalaya) via Tamabil; Sutarkandi (Assam) via Sheola, and Srimantpur (Tripura) via Bibirbazar.
  • This allows landlocked Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura to access open water routes through the Chattogram and Mongla ports
  • https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EGROgKcVAAEgk-C?format=jpg&name=small

 

Bones of contention:

  • Despite the remarkable progress, the unresolved Teesta water sharing issue looms large. Border killings are yet to stop. India not only has failed to stop the border killings but at times has even justified them.
  • The year 2020 saw the highest number of border shootings by the Border Security Force. The shots are fired at civilians, usually cattle traders, who are usually unarmed, trying to illegally cross the border.
  • The government’s proposal to implement the National Register of Citizens across the whole of India reflects poorly on India-Bangladesh relations.
  • It remains to be seen how India addresses the deportation of illegal Muslim immigrants, some of whom claim to have come from Bangladesh.

Keeping the momentum going

  • Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, once considered traditional Indian allies, are increasingly tilting towards China due to the Asian giant’s massive trade, infrastructural and defence investments in these countries.
  • India-Bangladesh relations have been gaining positive momentum over the last decade. As Bangladesh celebrates its 50 years of independence on March 26, 1971, India continues to be one of its most important neighbours and strategic partners.
  • As the larger country, the onus is on India to be generous enough to let the water flow and ensure that people are not killed on the border for cattle even if it is illegal when there are appropriate means for justice.

Way Forward: –

  • India ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ has been losing its influence in the region to China. Bhutan also does not abide by Indian influence as evinced by its withdrawal from the BBIN (Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal) motor vehicles agreement.
  • China, in lieu of its cheque-book diplomacy, is well-entrenched in South Asia, including Bangladesh, with which it enjoys significant economic and defence relations.
  • The small but important steps can remove long-standing snags in a relationship which otherwise is gradually coming of age in 50 years. To make the recent gains irreversible, both countries need to continue working on the three Cs — cooperation, collaboration, and consolidation.

Question: –

Bangladesh’s Declaration of Independence from Pakistan 50 years ago and positive changes in India’s relations with Pakistan has been elusive, including the different trajectories of India’s eastern and north-western frontiers. Discuss.

 

Started From 14 Mar 2021

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