Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

01 June 2021 - Tuesday


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Mains Analysis

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Elected autocrats, their pandemic responses

The Hindu


How Pakistan Plays the world

Indian Express

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ESupreme Court bats for ‘one price for vaccines across nation’

Syllabus–GS 2: Health, Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • The government on Monday claimed it will inoculate the “entire eligible population” by 2021-end, only to be barraged with questions from the Supreme Court about the efficacy of its policy, which allows the Centre to procure just 50% of the vaccines while leaving the States to buy their own.
  • The court also challenged the differential vaccine pricing policy, saying “there needs to be one price for vaccines across the nation”.

Digital divide

  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also asked the government to “please wake up and smell the coffee” about the farfetchedness of an illiterate villager from rural India crossing the “digital divide” to register for COVID-19 vaccination on the COWIN portal where slots disappear in the blink of an eye.
  • Justice Chandrachud said the government should be aware of the ground realities in ‘Digital India’.
  • Vaccination policy today is entirely exclusionary of the rural areas, the court said.
  • One of the judges on the Bench, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat said he had received distress calls from across the country from people unable to register on COWIN.
  • The court asked why the marginalised section should not be treated on par with people having co-morbities for early vaccination.
  • “We want to know if the policy of the country is that all States are on their own to supply tenders,” Justice Chandrachud asked the Centre.

It’s time to define limits of sedition, says SC

Syllabus – GS 2: Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • The Supreme Court on Monday said “it is time to define the limits of sedition” even as it protected two Telugu channels from any coercive action by the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government for their reportage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud flagged indiscriminate use of the sedition law against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing their grievances about the governments COVID-19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.
  • “We are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A (sedition), 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation,” the court noted in its order.

Mains Analysis

Elected autocrats, their pandemic responses

Why in News?

In the U.S., India and Brazil, messianic populism, polarisation and insularity have made the pandemic that much worse

Syllabus— GS2: Health & Governance


Background: –

  • A year and counting into the greatest health crisis the world has faced in over a century we can identify one overwhelming factor that separates the countries that have done relatively well from those that have been complete disasters: elected autocrats.
  • By any measure the most dismal performers in the democratic world have been the United States, Brazil and India.
  • Despite its vast wealth and resources and its low population density, the U.S. has one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world.
  • Brazil has taken denialism to new levels and the novel coronavirus pandemic has been allowed to range so fiercely that the country has become a petri dish for new mutations.
  • India’s first wave numbers were relatively mild (even accounting for underreporting) but the current wave is probably the worst and deadliest the world has seen.
  • Most dismal performers in the democratic world to combat COVID-19 challenge according to author have been the United States, Brazil and India.
  • Despite its vast wealth and resources and its low population density, the U.S. has one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world.
  • Author argues that countries like Brazil and India have gravely mismanaged the situation posed by COVID-19 despite having good economic conditions.

The Reactions

  • In the case of U.S, President Donald Trump initially refused to come to terms with the threat and wilfully downplayed the gravity of the pandemic.
  • The response by US to tackle the pandemic was crippled by policy incoherence, partisan attacks on Democratic Governors and open hostility to the scientific community.
  • The same lackasidal approach was also seen in Brazil where measures to combat the pandemic have come from governors and mayors and have been met with fierce opposition and public mockery from Mr. Bolsonaro.
  • In case of India the leadership never outrightly denied COVID and took decisive measures, imposing a nation-wide lockdown in March 2020. But failed to consult with experts or any of the Chief Ministers that govern India’s federal States.
  • The welfare consequences of the lockdown were severe as tens of millions of urban migrants were forced into a mass exodus back to their villages.
  • The pandemic subsided for some time, experts warned of a second wave driven by new variants, govt. dragged its feet on vaccinations and forged ahead with large-scale election campaign events and religious festivals
  • But of all the policy failures that have led to calls for the government to resign.
  • Government’s decision to stay within its Budget allocations and charge States for vaccines is something not vouced for.
  • Author tries to compare the leaders of these 3 countries by calling them elected autocrats.
  • All three have surrounded themselves with yes-men and ruled from the gut, peddling triumphalism (all three prematurely declared the pandemic vanquished), quack remedies (injecting disinfectants, the waters of the Ganga) and sheer macho bombast.

The Line of nationalism

  • Author argues that these leaders feed on polarisation. All three have championed a virtuous nationalism — rooted alternatively in evangelism in Brazil and the U.S., or Hindutva in India.
  • Ethnicised nationalism works by demoting the “other” — Muslims, Blacks, immigrants, gays, secularists and all those who subscribe to ideals of civic nationalism — to the status of the undeserving and the morally deficient.
  • The author says that in US the leadership colonised immigrants, channelled white supremacy and stoked fears of Blacks invading suburbs.
  • The Brazilian leadership routinely smears opponents as banditos or communists and has a long track record of making homophobic and misogynistic remarks.
  • In India Muslims have been sidelined, and author says that they have been denied political representation thus designating them as “others”.
  • In diverse societies, ethno-nationalism can only fuel social polarisation, and a polarised society is a society that cannot mobilise the trust and solidarity that responding to a pandemic calls for.
  • The most common sensical public health measures — wearing masks, restricting social interaction, testing and getting vaccinated — all became politicised in the U.S., India and Brazil.
  • Author argues that these leaders personalised, centralised and insulated their power.
  • All three have attacked the Constitution, demanded fealty from independent institutions, over-ridden the authority of expert institutions, tampered with data, assaulted the independence of the media.
  • The core tasks of a government in times of a pandemic — coordination across levels of government, clear and consistent communication of basic policies and health measures, support for frontline workers and standing together.


Way forward: –

  • Author argues messianic populism, social polarisation, insularity and centralisation has made the pandemic that much worse and poisoned the waters of democracy.
  • Throughout the crisis, health-care workers and civil society organisations have stepped up where their leaders have failed, and democratic institutions have pushed back.
  • US leader have been shown exit by the voters. The Brazilian Senate has launched a very public investigation into Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic and his poll numbers have plummeted.
  • Central ruling party have lost State-level elections in India and the Indian Supreme Court has called out the incoherence of the government’s vaccine policy.

Questions: –

It is high time to realise that democracies do demand accountability. Thus, pandemic should be handled by keeping these social devise factors at bay and standing together.Comment.

How Pakistan Plays the world

Why in News?

Editorial on Lessons from Pakistan: how to win friends, and influence allies.

Syllabus—GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood Relations

Pakistan’s Diplomacy:

  • During the Cold War, Pakistan’s diplomacy was brilliant in pursuing a special relationship with China even as it signed onto the USA’s anti-communist alliances.
  • In 1971, Pakistan became a bridge between the USA & China, by facilitating secret diplomacy between both.
  • While, India found itself at odds with the US & China & turned to USSR to rebalance.
  • Currently, as Sino-US confrontation unfolds & India’s ties with the US became stronger than ever, Pakistan has less space to negotiate.
  • It can’t abandon its most reliable external partner “China” & also it did not want to be alienated from the USA.

Tracing the Ties:

  • After the partition, both India & Pakistan have chosen different foreign policy paths due to various reasons.
  • Nehru ignored the external threats & desire to be a world leader has declined India’s alliances with other nations.
  • While Pakistan made alliances with other nations due to its insecurities with India.
  • Pakistan signed bilateral security with the US & the SEATO & CENTO that is aimed to fight communism.
  • It gained Pakistan goodwill, though its aim is not end communism but to balance India.
  • China grasped & exploited Pakistan’s insecurities, at the Bandung Conference on Afro-Asian solidarity in 1955, Pakistan & China secretly started their partnership.
  • Pakistan’s relations with the USA are highly volatile, it has greatly disappointed with the US in 1971’s Liberation of Bangladesh war.
  • At the same time, Pakistan & China’s relation has been expanded steadily.
  • Even after the 1971 war, Pakistan embraced the US again when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979.
  • Pakistan helped the US helped to promote jihad against Russian occupation.
  • In 2001, the US & Pakistan reconnected as Washington sought physical access & intelligence support for its intervention in Afghan following the 9/11 attacks.
  • Even it supported the US but it managed to keep the Taliban alive.
  • But, now the US wants Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to accept the peaceful transition to a new political order in Afghanistan.
  • However, Pakistan worries that its leverage in Washington diminishes once the US withdraws from Afghanistan & shifts to Indo-Pacific.
  • It is equally true that Pakistan did not want to get in between China & the US in the Indo-Pacific region & also wants to dent India’s growing importance in the region.

Issues with Pakistan’s Strategic Autonomy:

  1. Pakistan’s relative economic decline.
  2. Its expected aggregate GDP is $300 billion in 2021 that is 10 times smaller than India’s.
  3. Pakistan’s per capita GDP at $1260 is half of Bangladesh’s.
  4. Pakistan’s enduring obsessions with separating Kashmir from India & extending its political sway over Afghanistan.
  5. Both look elusive despite massive political investment.

Way Forward: –

In the 1950s, Pakistan’s prospects are much better than many Asian nations but by neglecting economic development, letting magnificent obsessions & privileging feudal & pre-modern ideologies, Pakistan has fallen rapidly behind its peers.

The main element that complicates Pakistan’s international politics is that turning Islam into a political instrument & empowering religious extremism today has severely constrained the Pakistani state’s capacity to build coherence & widen international options.

Question: –

It is unwise for India to rule out Pakistan’s positive intervention. For now, though Pakistan offers a cautionary tale on the dangers of squandering a nation’s strategic advantages that it had inherited & the powerful partnerships that came it’s way. Illustrate.

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