Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

01 APRIL 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Still no recognition of the third tier

The Hindu


A step that enhances cooperative federalism

The Hindu


Beyond US foreign policy or against US.                                                      

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

NGT tells committee to look into plea on environmental violations

Syllabus –

GS 3: Environment

Analysis: –

  • The National Green Tribunal on Thursday suspended the environmental clearance granted to the construction of a housing complex adjacent to the Delhi University campus and constituted a committee to study the viability of the project.
  • A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was no application of mind by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) while granting the environmental clearance (EC).
  • Following a plea alleging violation of environmental clearances by a few builders in Gurugram, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed a committee comprising officials from the Environment Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Board to look into the petition.
  • While prima facie the project does not appear to be viable for the reasons already mentioned, we are of the view that least which ought to be done is to suspend the EC, consequential Consent to Establish and further activities of the project proponent and have an independent evaluation conducted in the interest of environment and public health.

States asked to maintain vaccine wastage below 1%

Syllabus –

GS 2: Health

Analysis: –

  • With India opening up the vaccination for all those who are 45 years or more from 1 April, the Centre on Wednesday asked states to keep vaccine wastage below 1%.
  • At present, the national average for covid-19 vaccine wastage is 6%.
  • The government urged states to ensure timely utilization of available stocks to avoid vaccine expiry, and update vaccine consumption data on the CoWIN and eVIN portals.
  • There is no problem in the storage and logistics of vaccines.
  • There is no value in conserving vaccines for the second dose. States must promptly supply vaccines to all government and private hospitals where there is a demand.
  • It said states should conduct regular review of capacity utilization at private covid vaccination centres (CVCs).
  • States may also use geographic information system analysis of CVCs to ensure timely supply of vaccines and ensure the guidelines are followed proactively.

Zones of Excellence in Road Safety can act as models, reduce fatalities

Syllabus – 

GS 2: Government policy

Analysis: –

  • In ‘Mann kiBaat’ this January-end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a special reference to the government’s concern on road crashes and called upon the people to become active stakeholders in road safety activities.
  • It is horrifying to look at the data of road deaths: More than 415 people die on Indian roads every day.
  • The harsh penalties under the new provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act have done more than half of the job, as “enforcement” of a road safety regime would appear to be the first key in this impasse.
  • However, to take this campaign to the next level we must take a fresh look at the issue and explore certain simple steps to bring about a quick impact.
  • A crucial requirement will be the stationing of adequately equipped ambulances and cranes at closer distances to swiftly move away victims and damaged vehicles.
  • A separate emergency helpline for the ZoE/ all ZoEs within a state, operated by the trained staff, is the need of the hour.
  • A three-tier administrative structure can be put in place to run a ZoE in a smooth, war-zone like spirit.
    1. First, for day to day operations, there will be a managing group, comprising middle-level officials from the traffic police, highway regulatory authority, local body of the area, PWD, health, education, electricity and horticulture departments, headed by a senior administrative or police officer with proven performance record. The group will resolve day to day issues of enforcement and management of safe roads.
    2. The second level would have an exclusively earmarked officer from the district headquarters who will very closely monitor the functioning of all ZoEs within the district, and extend urgent help where such intervention is sought by the Group. A committee of seasoned people can also be co-opted to assist in the monitoring processes.
  1. A third tier would comprise the Union/ state minister concerned. Indeed, a separate minister for road safety can be appointed both in the Union and state cabinets.

The return of caste to Bengal

Syllabus –

 GS 1: Society

Analysis: –

  • The new political elite, the bhadralok — who mostly belonged to the three upper castes of Brahmin, Kayastha and Baidya — demanded democratic reforms, but fiercely guarded their own privileged position by denying the middle and lower ranking castes their fair share of power.
  • The latter from the early 20th century began to organise themselves into exclusive caste associations.
  • Among them were several Dalit castes, such as the Namasudras in eastern Bengal and the Rajbansis in the north.
  • These movements worked for their self-improvement and stayed away from Congress politics.
  • In 1937 a Dalit-Muslim alliance in the legislative assembly effectively blocked the Congress from assuming power.
  • While a section of the Dalits under the leadership of Namasudra leader JogendraNath Mandal joined Dr Ambedkar’s All India Scheduled Caste Federation and opposed Partition, another large segment under the leadership of P R Thakur, also a Namasudra, supported the Hindu Mahasabha-Congress instigated campaign to divide Bengal and create West Bengal as a Hindu majority state within India.
  • In the 2011 assembly election, the Matua support went to Trinamool Congress (TMC), as Mamata Banerjee, unlike her communist adversaries, had no qualms in becoming a member of the Matua Mahasangha and touching the feet of Boro ma or Binapani Debi, the widow of P R Thakur and the then head of the sect, in an open public meeting.
  • Historically, Dalit support for mainstream political parties in Bengal had always been strategic, rather than unconditional.
  • Since 2009, the Matuas have been articulating their grievances against the citizenship act, as Dalit refugees faced continuous harassment, some of them even facing prosecution.
  • The Matua Mahasangha is actually an oppositional religious movement that is against Brahmin domination and Vedic Hinduism.
  • So, one would suspect that they would find it difficult to support Hindutva ideology. But not all of them position themselves firmly within a Matua-Hindu binary in everyday life.

Mains Analysis

Still no recognition of the third tier

Why in News: –

In the FC-15 proposals, the goal of fiscally empowering local governments to deliver territorial equity is still far away

Syllabus: –

GS 2: Conditional grants to incentivise the states for reforms
  • The 15th Finance Commission has made significant departures from the previous Central Finance Commissions in its recommendations for urban local governments, in its interim report for 2020-21.
  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission’s (15th FC) ‘interim report’ for the year 2020-21 was made available in public domain on 1 February 2020.
  • Most of the suggestions made in the report for local governments have been accepted by the Ministry of Finance.
  • However, in light of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the tireless efforts of local government officers both in cities and rural areas, we hope that the 15th FC will revise its recommendations in their final report.

15th Finance Commission

  • The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by the President of India in November 2017, under the chairmanship of NK Singh.
  • Its recommendations will cover a period of five years from April 2020 to March 2025
  • The primary task of the Union Finance Commission is to rectify the vertical and horizontal imbalances in resources and expenditure responsibilities between Union and States, which after the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments includes the third tier of local governments.
  • This Commission is the fifth after the incorporation of Part IX and Part IX-A to the Constitution which mandate the Union Finance Commission to supplement the resources of panchayats and municipalities on the basis of the recommendations of the State Finance Commission (another institution created by the Amendments).

Recommendations of 15th Finance Commission

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission’s report for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26 outlines some crucial recommendations for state governments.
  • These recommendations cover tax devolution, grants from the Centre, and the guidelines for the borrowings that they are permitted to incur over the medium-term.
  • The commission has recommended that 41 per cent of the government’s divisible pool of taxes be transferred to state governments.


Higher vertical devolution

  • Compared with the 14th Finance Commission there is a 52% increase in the vertical share.
  • 15th Finance Commission has raised this share to 60% and linked them to drinking water, rainwater harvesting, sanitation and other national priorities in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • It reduced the performance-based grant to just Rs. 8,000 crore — and that too for building new cities, leaving out the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) altogether.


Increased allocations to local governments and urban local bodies

  • It is good that the 15th FC has stepped up allocations for local governments to 4.3% of the divisible pool, as against 3.5% recommended by the 14th FC for 2019-20, and 2.5% recommended by the 13th FC.
  • The 13th FC had also acknowledged the need for providing local bodies with a predictable and buoyant source of revenue. It is good to see the 15th FC taking a similar stand.
  • We do hope that in its final report this will be stepped up to 5% of the divisible pool.
  • The total grants recommended by the 15th FC for urban local bodies (ULBs) for 2020-21 are Rs. 292.5 billion against Rs. 266.65 billion recommended for 2019-20 by the 14th FC. These increases are welcome and in the right direction.
  • The 15th FC has made a very good beginning with this interim report, and we look forward to further increases for ULBs in the final report.
  • We, however, hope that this shift towards higher proportion of ‘tied grants’ (conditional grants), to ULBs is reconsidered in the final report.


Grants- in -aid

Like all other Commissions in the past, this Commission also recommended grants-in-aid which fell into five broad categories:

(1) revenue deficit grants,

(2) grants for local governments,

(3) grants for disaster management,

(4) sector-specific grants and

(5) state-specific grants. Similar grants have been recommended by Commissions in the past.

Grants in their very nature tend to be targeted, focusing on the specific sectors they are designed for.

Some of these grants have been linked with performance-based criteria to promote these sectors in furtherance of national goals.



Entry-level criterion

  • An important recommendation of the Fifteenth Finance Commission is the entry-level criterion to avail the union local grant (except health grant) by local governments (strictly speaking, it is performance-linked).
  • For panchayats, the condition is online submission of annual accounts for the previous year and audited accounts for the year before
  • For urban local governments, two more conditions are specified
  • After 2021-22, fixation of minimum floor for property tax rates by the relevant State
  • Consistent improvement in the collection of property taxes in tandem with the State’s own Gross State Domestic Product
  • Gram panchayats (especially the affluent and semi-urban categories) are left out from this.

The missing focus on sanitation

  • In a major departure from the previous two FCs that provided 80% of ULB grants as ‘untied grants’2, the 15th FC has made all the grants to the million-plus cities as conditional, and 50% of the grants to other cities as conditional.
  • This is, to some extent, in line with the terms of reference pertaining to local governments for the 15th FC, which read, “Provision of grants in aid to local bodies for basic services, including quality human resources, and implementation of performance grant system in improving delivery of services.”
  • For safely managed sanitation, these cities will require implementation of city-wide FSSM plans of services for regular desludging of septic tanks and treatment of the faecal sludge and septage.
  • While the 15th FC has included improvement of ambient air quality, drinking water, and solid waste management in its conditionality, it has completely disregarded this important aspect of FSSM, particularly for smaller

in Fiscal Data

  • 11th Finance Commission published the fiscal data of all tiers of panchayats and municipalities in its report. But the data proved defective.
  • 12th Finance Commission did not publish any local fiscal data.
  • 13th Finance Commission published data online and some researchers did use them.
  • 14th Finance Commission conducted a sample survey covering 15% gram panchayats, 30% block panchayats and all district panchayats besides 30% municipalities, presumably to ensure quality in canvassing data. The results too were not published.
  • Interestingly, neither the Fifteenth Finance Commission nor the earlier counterparts took pains to examine how and where the financial reporting system has failed.

Equalisation principle

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission claims that it seeks to achieve the “desirable objective of evenly balancing the union and the states”
  • Fifteenth Finance Commission outlines nine guiding principles as the basis of its recommendation to local governments, there is no integrated approach.

Way Forward: –

  • The 15th FC has made important recommendations regarding enhancing grant-in-aid to ULBs, and has introduced some new areas, such as improving air quality, recognising the distinct needs of large cities, and focusing on water supply services.
  • Equity is the foundational rationale of a federation. Abandoning tax effort criterion incentivises dependency, inefficiency and non-accountability.
  • In their efforts to “empower local governments”, the 15th FC has made more funds available to ULBs, but bulk of these are as tied grants. Making two-thirds of the grants to ULBs as tied grants is quite in contrast with the approach of previous Central FCs, and goes against the spirit of empowering local governments.
  • In sum, if decentralisation is meant to empower local people, the primary task is to fiscally empower local governments to deliver territorial equity.


Question: –

The 15th Finance Commission’s recommendations will go a long way in strengthening the pillars of fiscal federalism in the country. Critically evaluate.

A step that enhances cooperative federalism

Why in News: –

The amendment to the GNCTD Act defines, without doubt, who represents the ‘Government’ in unique case of Delhi.

Syllabus: –

 GS 2: Co-operative Federalism.


  • In 2015, Legislative assembly of Delhi had passed Delhi Netaji Subash University of Technology Bill and sent it to President assent and defined the term ‘Government’ as the ‘Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi”.
  • In 2017, LG of Delhi returned Delhi Netaji Subash University of Technology Bill 2015 to Legislative assembly of Delhi due to inconsistent definition of the term ‘Government’.
  • Delhi Assembly sent a modified version of the Bill for President’s assent where the definition of ‘Government’ was described as “Lieutenant Governor of NCT Delhi appointed by the President”.

The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill

  • The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill mainly aims to amend four clauses of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (GNCTD Act 1991). They are,
  • Section 21 – This section deals with the restrictions on laws passed by the Legislative Assembly concerning certain matters.
  • The Bill provides that the term “government” referred to in any law made by the Legislative Assembly will imply Lieutenant Governor (L-G).
  • Section 24 – This section deals with assent to Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly.
  • The L-G will reserve the bills for the consideration of the President in a few matters.
  • It includes bills that diminish the powers of the High Court of Delhi, the President directed the L-G to reserve a bill, etc.
  • The NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill requires the L-G to reserve bills for the President that incidentally covers any of the matters outside the purview of the powers of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Section 33- It mentions that the Legislative Assembly will make rules to regulate the procedure and conduct of business in the Assembly.
  • The 2021 NCT bill states that such rules must be consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
  • Section 44 – It deals with the conduct of business. Accordingly, all executive decisions taken by the elected government should be under the L-G’s name.
  • The 2021 bill empowers the L-G to specify his suggestions on certain matters.
  • His opinion has to be taken before making any executive action on decisions of the Minister/ Council of Ministers.

Objective of the amendments: –

  • Aim of amendments were to clear ambiguities in the roles of various stakeholders and provide a constructive rule-based framework for stakeholders within the government of Delhi to work in tandem with the Union Government.
  • Union Government by this transformation provides platforms and frameworks to work together.
  • The creation of NITI Aayog, GST Council and accepting the 15th FC recommendations are clear examples of Union Government viewing states as equal partners.

Delhi’s Current Constitutional Status

  • Delhi’s current status as a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly is an outcome of the 69th Amendment Act. The act introduced Articles 239AA and 239BB in the Constitution.
  • They have created the Union Territory of Delhi with a legislative assembly.
  • Further, the administrator appointed under article 239 gets designated as the Lieutenant Governor. There shall be a council of ministers to aid and advise LG.
  • Lastly, provisions of public order, police and land are not under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. The Centre will maintain these provisions.
  • Article 239AA(4) mandates that in case of a difference of opinion between the L-G and the Council of Ministers, the L-G has to refer the issue to the President.
  • Until the decision is pending before the President, the L-G can use his discretion to take immediate action if urgency requires him/her to take an action.
  • The GNCTD Act 1991 got passed to supplement the constitutional provisions relating to the Assembly and the Council of Ministers in the national capital.
  • The act outlines few important provisions such as:
    • the powers of the Assembly
    • the discretionary powers enjoyed by the L-G
    • duties of the Chief Minister with respect to the need to furnish information to the L-G.

Question: –

Making Delhi Assembly rules consistent with the rules of the Lok sabha or ensuring that the opinion of the LG is taken can only ensure clarity and foster an environment of co-operation. Explain.

Beyond US foreign policy or against US.

Why in News: –

A key instrument in this new paradigm is a system of ‘smart’ sanctions, which does not target countries, but specific individuals, firms & institutions for a variety of alleged transgressions.

Syllabus: –

 GS 2: Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

  • With the arrival of a new President and Government in USA, the wind for paradigm shift has ushered, with more focus on foreign policy.

US & Its Singular Trajectory Foreign Policy:

  • Since decades, US foreign policy analyses are so cut off from the reality of decision making because such analyses are based on the President’s coherent analysis of possible alternatives which results in a rational decision that benefits national interest.
  • This foreign policy type, led to the branding of countries with similar self-interests as friends, even if their national interests does not overlaps that opened up for trade-offs.
  • Similarly, adversaries are branded as foes with pervasive relationships.
  • The main issue with this policy is US overlooked the trade-offs& transgressions by allies if they helped any US self-interests.

The shift in US foreign policy:

  • The new altered US foreign policy that got unnoticed since last decade no longer based on the antiquated friend or foe classification.
  • but shifted categorizing principle based on country’s stance on issues such as trade, human rights, climate change & security.
  • Now US’s bilateral engagement is characterized by competition, cooperation and confrontation based on specific issue, where trade-offs are negligible.


The USA Sanctions:

  • For a long time, Sanctions played a major role to drive the bilateral relations of US, where they are directed against the whole country. FOR Eg US trade sanctions against China.
  • But US learned that blanket sanctions are counter-productive & can rally anti US sentiments in the sovereign.
  • Though Obama administration overhauled the blanket sanctions but the trump administration refined successful sanctions and used extensively.
  • Eg the Magnitsky Accountability Act(2012) which targeted human rights abuses in Russia, in 2017 it extended to all who are corrupt or violate human rights in the world.
  • But now Biden administration brought well-honed system of “Smart Sanctions” do not target countries but specific individual’s firms and institutions for alleged transgressions.
  • The new sanctions system not only prevent US stakeholders for direct transact with sanctioned entities, but also with third parties if found relation with them.
  • The third-party clause has been causing fear among other nations since it can loss access to US.
  • To back the system US has developed an extensive & intricate heavy network of technocracy to implement & monitor the sanctions.
  • In regard to China, US clarified that relationship with china is most important to them and the future may be balanced by both competition & Cooperation.

Impact on India:

  • Until now, two democracies came closer not because of principles but due to common adversaries, this will continue further,
  • But issues like human rights & erosion of democratic institutions can be challenging for mutual national security & economic benefits.
  • India has been victim of US sanctions in post 1996 nuclear test and also faced recent trade specific sanctions.
  • Unlike in previous regime, the image trade-offs are limited because of US’s parallel line engagement with countries & now countries like India can not use the ally card.
  • Now engagement is multifaceted across Trade, IPR, Human rights Climate change etc that limits trade off of the nations.
  • The future US-India relationship nature is depended on the specific issues that decides India is a friend or a foe.
  • The paradigm shift of US foreign policy made it clear India can’t bank on being on its ally. It is high time for India to adapt to this new US foreign policy framework to avoid engagement with US starkly different and surprisingly difficult

Way Forward: –

  • Unlike in the antiquated rational-actor paradigm where there are imagined trade-offs across issues, in the new framework the US engages with countries on parallel lines.
  • Countries are no longer designated as adversaries or allies.
  • Instead, the engagement is multifaceted across trade, intellectual property rights, climate change, security, terrorism, and, importantly, human rights, with limited trade-off across them.
  • Whether cooperation, competition, or confrontation dominate the nature of the engagement will depend on the specifics not whether India is a friend or a foe.

Questions: –

In what ways would the US Sanctions will affect the national interest of India? How should India respond to this situation?

Started From 14 Mar 2021

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