Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

13 July 2021 - Tuesday


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



The power of scrutiny: SC verdict on Delhi Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony

The Hindu


Taliban 2.0 and the Afghan test

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Prioritising school reopening on the road to recovery

Syllabus–GS 2: Education

Analysis: –

  • Most schools in India have been closed since the national lockdown started in March 2020.
  • Various regions around the world which have been worse hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic than India, have kept their schools, especially primary schools, mostly open.
  • This includes various European countries such as Portugal, France, the Netherlands, etc. The State of Florida (United States) opened schools for in-person classes in late September 2020, and they stayed open through their second wave.
  • On the other hand in India, schools have mostly been shut even as other businesses have opened.
  • The costs of school closure are immense. People make considerable investments in their childrens’ education, as a way toward a better future and a better living standard. Even prior to the pandemic, there was a huge attainment gap across students, especially in higher grades.
  • The bottom half of children passing Class 10 are about two years behind in terms of skills. Prolonged school closure has already widened this gap.
  • Ironically, the poorest families living in dense urban slums, who bore the brunt of the first wave, and are now largely immune from the virus itself ,are the ones suffering the most from school closures.

Mains Analysis

The power of scrutiny: SC verdict on Delhi Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony

Why in News?

SC has struck a blow for inquisitorial powers of legislatures against social media companies

Syllabus— GS 2 Fundamental Rights

Background: –

  • The Supreme Court of India’s verdict last week, upholding the authority of a committee of the Delhi Assembly to summon a senior official of Facebook, is an extremely nuanced recognition of the extent of powers of State Assemblies in matters regulated by an Act of Parliament.
  • The question mark about the powers arose in the first place because Facebook, whose India vice-president Ajit Mohan was repeatedly summoned by Delhi Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony on the subject of the Delhi riots of 2020, argued before the Supreme Court that this was a case of overreach; and that Delhi’s law and order came under the central government.
  • The power question arose in the first place because Facebook, whose India vice-president Ajit Mohan was repeatedly summoned by the Delhi Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony on the subject of the Delhi riots of 2020, argued before the Supreme Court that this was a case of overreach and that Delhi’s law and order was under the control of the central government.

 What’s the issue –

  • The social media platform also stated that it is governed by the IT Act of Parliament and hence is not a matter for state governments to be worried with.
  • In sustaining the summons, the Court did not rely solely on a House’s legislative powers.
  • “The Assembly does not simply perform the duty of legislating; there are many other areas of governance that might constitute part of the Legislative Assembly’s core tasks, and hence the committee,” it correctly stated.
  • It argued that a House’s “inquisitorial” and “recommendatory” powers can be used to improve governance.
  • However, the committee was warned against “transgressing into any fields designated for the Union Government.”

 Way Forward –

  • The notion that social media intermediaries are “merely a venue for the exchange of ideas without performing any meaningful function themselves” was rejected by the Court.
  • It then made a connection between what happens on these platforms and what happens in the real world.
  • The Court stated that misinformation on social media has had a “direct impact on wide areas of subject matter, ultimately affecting state government.”
  • Given the limitations of the Delhi Assembly’s powers in terms of law and order, the fact that the Court found that its committee could still summon a Facebook India official without infringing on the Centre’s territory now opens the door for social media platforms to be scrutinised by other States with significantly greater law and order powers.

Question: –

The verdict comes amid a long phase of discordance over legislative turf between the central government and the Delhi government, something that the Bench led by Justice S.K. Kaul did note amid discussions about the spirit of federalism. Comment

Taliban 2.0 and the Afghan test

Why in News?

C Raja Mohan writes: The quiet satisfaction in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and Rawalpindi is tinged by worries about the longer-term implications of Washington’s retreat from Afganistan. If India is patient, opportunities could open up.

Syllabus—GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood

  • Afghanistan has been witnessing the speedy withdrawal of US troops & matching swift advance of the Taliban across the nation.
  • The Taliban currently has been gaining military ground very quickly.
  • These two developments have moved Afghan into the court of regional powers that now have the burden of managing the US retreat-induced military vacuum.
  • The regional solution ideas to Afghan had always political appeal & divergent regional interests limit the prospect for a sustainable consensus on Afghanistan.

The role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in this regard:

  • The SCO was launched 20 years ago by China & Russia to promote inner Asia stability.
  • Both nations are also driven by fears about US power in the post-Cold war era & the US’s ambition to promote human rights & democracy in the region.
  • Current members of SCO: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan & India.
  • 4 observer nations: Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia & Belarus.
  • In the upcoming days, the regional conclave of foreign ministers under the SCO banner is taking place that should give a sense of the unfolding regional dynamic on Afghan.
  • Geography, membership & capabilities make the SCO an important forum to address the post-American challenges in Afghan.

History of SCO & its members in this regard:

  • SCO was set up around the time when the world witness 2001 terror attacks on the US by Al Qaeda which was sheltered in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
  • The US marched in quickly to oust the Taliban from power & launched the Great War on Terror.
  • This propelled Afghan to the center stage of international politics & became the top agenda of the SCO.
  • US intervention in Afghan during 2001, was unopposed by China & Russia.
  • Though they had no issue with USAs ousting terror outfits in Afghan, however, they were deeply apprehensive about the implications of extended US military presence in Afghan.

The current situation among SCO members:

  • Today, both China & Russia having a good laugh at the USAs Afghan mission failure.
  • Because Russia has not forgotten its 1980s humiliating military retreat from Afghan due to US-backed jihadi insurgency.
  • For China, the US withdrawal from Afghan also reinforces its strongly held conviction that the US s in terminal decline.
  • At a time when China is offering an alternative to the Western model of domestic & international governance, the US retreat will be seen as a great ideological victory for China.
  • Iran has been locked in a confrontation with the US longer than any other nation, has even more reason to see the US retreat by a peg to two in its neighbourhood.

Implications of retreat & Actions by the SCO members:

  • Today all four nations are quite satisfied with the US retreat, however, they also worry about the long-term implications of the USA’s retreat.
  • Neither China nor Russia would want to see Afghan becoming a nursery of international terror again under the Taliban.
  • For China, potential Taliban support to the Xinjiang separatist group is a major concern.
  • Iran can’t ignore the Sunni extremism of the Taliban & its oppressive record against the vulnerable.
  • Pakistan worries about the danger of the conflict spilling over the Durand line & hostile groups gaining sanctuaries in Afghan.

Pakistan-China-Taliban equation:

  • The alliance between Pakistan & China starts with some advantages in Afghan.
  • Pak’s deep connections to the Taliban Combine with China’s massive economic resources could contribute to the Afghanistan transformation.
  • But many imponderables complicate the picture such as:
  • Taliban itself remains a major variable.
  • Taliban’s unwillingness to accommodate the Afghan’s interest would set the stage for civil war in Afghanistan.
  • However, the Taliban leaders have been saying all the right things to key regional actors & are eager for regional & international economic cooperation.
  • The Taliban also stressing it won’t be a proxy for anyone else & it will pursue independent policies.
  • However, there is much lacking clarity in the Taliban’s words & actions because its ground actions on its territories & the ties to terrorist organizations seem to be revival ground for Taliban 2.0.

Implications of retreat on India:

  • For India, the prolonged peace era in Afghan secured by the US came to an end.
  • Now India has new constraints on its ability to operate inside Afghanistan.
  • There is also a danger of nurturing anti-India terror groups under the Taliban in Afghan.

Factors that shape India’s new Afghan Policy:

  • India has to remain active & patient to utilize many cropping up opportunities in the new Afghan phase.
  • India’s lack of direct physical access to Afghanistan, which underlines the importance of India having effective regional partners.
  • Geography has given Pak the capability to destabilize any Afghan govt.
  • However, it does not have the power to reconstruct a stable & legitimate order in Afghan.
  • The only hope for Pak is that Partnership with China & the extension of CPEC into Afghan can address its power deficit.
  • Finally, the contradiction between Afghan & Pak is an enduring one.
  • Because many in Pak wants to turn Afghan into a protectorate while Afghans deeply value their independence.
  • This will push Afghans including the Taliban inevitably look for partners to balance Pak.


Way Forward: –

The need of the hour for India is to actively contribute to the SCO deliberations on Afghan while tempering its hopes for a collective regional solution. It is high time for India to focus on intensifying its engagement with various Afghan groups & finding effective regional partners to secure its interests in a changing Afghanistan.

Question: –

Pakistan has long been a critic of US policies in Afghan, the retreat is a moment of geopolitical vindication because its army has heavily invested in the Taliban. Discuss.

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