Gist of Editorials: A law for those who Testify | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Why has this issue cropped up?

The Centre is yet to act on a Supreme Court directive to legislate on witness protection.

Recent instances of attacks on witnesses

  • witnesses of a rape survivor died in ‘accident’ in UP.
  • A police official assigned to protect murder witness was killed.
  • In Asaram Bapu case three witnesses were killed several attacked.

Supreme Court directive

  • It issued directions to frame laws for protection of witnesses.
  • Following this, Maharashtra came out with a witness protection act.
  • However, the Centre, and most other States, are yet to act.

Witness Protection Scheme

  • Witness Protection Scheme was drafted by the Centre last year on directives of Supreme Court.
  • However, the scheme was meant to be a measure in force only till the government brought out its own law on the issue.

Lax implementation

  • Implementation of the Witness Protection Scheme on the ground leaves much to be desired.
  • It is silent on the punishment to be given to policemen charged with providing security who threaten the witnesses.

Police-politician nexus

  • Criminals get support  from the police.
  • Policeman, for his career progression, does not take any action against political ‘master’.

Way forward

The Witness Protection Scheme calls for more elaborate and stricter laws to be incorporated.

Conclusion

Legislation for witness protection is a must for India’s criminal justice system.


Gist of Editorials: Great expectations | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


The Lok Sabha has recently passed the Surrogacy Bill, 2019.

Surrogacy in India

  • Violations of human rights of underprivileged woman.
  • Plethora of unregulated assisted reproductive techniques (ART) clinics
  • growing domestic demand for surrogacy services.

The Surrogacy Bill provisions

  • surrogate mother can only be a close relative
  • payment to the surrogate for medical expenses and insurance
  • exploiting the surrogate would attract imprisonment and  fine
  • advertising for surrogacy will also attract the same punishment.
  • registration of surrogacy clinics
  • regulatory boards to ensure compliance with the law

The concern with the Surrogacy Bill

  • Lack of specifics in definitions, for example ‘close relative’
  • Exclusion of various groups of people from access to surrogacy; and
  • Seeks to regulate surrogacy before setting the ART house in order.

Way forward

Govt needs to first set up a regulatory framework for ART clinics, which provide the basic technology for surrogacy.

Conclusion

The Surrogacy law has the  possibility of revolutionising the surrogacy sector.


Gist of Editorials: Is Banning Cryptocurrencies the Solution? | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Recently, the Grag panel has  called for a complete ban on private cryptocurrencies in India.

Recommendations of the  Garg panel

  • Fine of up to ₹25 crore and a jail term of up to 10 years for owning or handling private cryptocurrencies.
  • Introduction of a single cryptocurrency for the whole country backed by RBI

Reasons to ban cryptocurrency

  • volatility of private cryptocurrencies
  • not backed by a sovereign government
  • due to anonymity, they can be used to finance criminal activities.

Should crypto currency be banned?

  • if cryptocurrencies are volatile, so are many other asset classes
  • Banning will lead to formaition of underground market.
  • It is not essential that a currency needs to be backed by an institution
  • monetary policy doesn’t face any threat from cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency vs blockchain

The cryptocurrency is just one application of the underlying blockchain technology.

The EU regulations on cryptocurrency

  • The EU is putting in regulations called AMLD-5 to tackle money laundering.
  • It is a bunch of norms to make crypto transactions more secure.

Should govts issue cryptocurrency?

  • It would create a lot of problems in the form of contradictions in existing regulations.
  • A digital currency issued by the RBI that gets misused by criminals can affect trust in the existing fiat currency protocol.

Way forward

  • Whether to invest in an asset or not should be left to the investor.
  • Govt can come up with a regulatory framework.
  • For exploration of the blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies should be allowed to operate.

Conclusion

Regulations on cryptocurrencies could be the best way to go forward rather than putting a blanket ban.


Gist of Editorials: Fortifying the Africa Outreach | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Recently,  Indian dignitaries began their respective visits to Africa.

Economic links with Africa

  • In 2015, India agreed to provide credit worth $10 billion.
  • By 2017, India had cumulatively extended 152 Lines of Credit .
  • India has provided free access to its market for the exports..
  • India was ranked the third largest trading partner of Africa..

Issues in India-Africa relations

  • India’s economic relation with Africa dwarfed by China.
  • Disconnect between Indian developmental assistance economic engagement.
  • India’s developmental footprint in Africa does not produce commensurate empathy.
  • India’s aid being unconditional, the recipients often take it as an entitlement.

Way forward

  • Need to take direct control of our development programme instead of handing our funds to intermediaries such as the African Union.
  • India’s development assistance should prefer the countries with its substantial interests.
  • Prefer aiding countries which are willing to help us.
  • The aided project selected should be compatible with local requirements.
  • For greater transparency, India should prefer its public sector to implement the aid projects.

Conclusion

India’s aid to Africa should be reciprocated by acknowledgement and quid pro quo in terms of goodwill and institutional preference.


Gist of Editorials: Financing Disaster Management | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Heavy rainfall in Kerala led to catastrophic floods which caused substantial loss of life, property, and infrastructure.

The Present Framework for Funding Disaster Management

  • Disaster mitigation to cushion the impact of a disaster much before its onset.
  • Disaster relief includes steps taken immediately before and after the disaster strikes.
  • Disaster reconstruction includes rebuilding destroyed infrastructure.

Funding of disaster management

  • Both GoI and state governments fund disaster management.
  • GoI supports in three ways- budget, grants,and support from foreign countries.
  • State governments have two avenues for support- budget, and private contributions.

The Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005

  • The act establishes three authorities to manage disasters: NDMA, SDMA, and DDMA.
  • The NDMA is chaired by the Prime Minister, SDMA, and DDMA by the district collector.

Thre concerns

  • NDMA has no role in sanctioning funds from the NDRF.
  • Procedure for release of NDRF is subjective and cumbersome.
  • None of the three mitigation funds- NDMF, SDMF and DDMF-have been notified and activated
  • In the wake of the Kerala floods, some countries offered financial support. But the GoI reportedly declined these offers..

Way forward

  • A national consensus is required on how to fund all the three components of disaster management—mitigation, res­ponse and reconstruction.
  • The option of empowering the NDMA to manage both the response and mitigation funds at the national level needs to be explored.
  • The option for permitting foreign contributions for disaster management needs to be considered.
  • It may not be desirable to complicate the GST structure by levying a cess on funding of disaster relief.

Gist of Editorials: Labour in the Indian Economy | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Thus age-old social institutions continue to have a grip on the labour market

Segmentation of labour Market

  • In India, labour markets are deeply segmented along caste and gender lines.
  • There are frequent instances in which workers belonging to oppressed castes are discriminated against.

Capital favoured over labour

  • Globally, economic changes have favoured capital over labour.
  • The inability of present-day capitalism to absorb labour is the reason for the continuing expansion of the informal sector in developing countries.

Informal Work

  • More than 82% of employment in the Indian economy is in the informal sector.
  • Emergence of strong linkages between the formal and informal sectors can benefit the economy as a whole..
  • However, the relation between the formal and informal sectors has been rather weak .
  • Increasing employment of contract workers in place of regular workers reduce plant productivity .

Female labour

  • There has been low rate of female labour force participation in India .
  • Lack of education, lack of facilities such as child care are responsible for this.
  • Further, the society and the economy undervalue the work performed by women within their own households.

Way forward

  • “Demographic dividend” requires investments in education and human development.
  • Creating institutions for improving women’s education.
  • Providing facilities such as childcare to ease the burden of domestic work
  • Creating more employment opportunities in the economy will be crucial to boosting demand for women’s work.
  • Emergence of strong linkages between the formal and informal sectors can benefit the economy as a whole.

Conclusion

It is clear that in a country like India studies on labour will remain central to any attempt to understand the economy. Economists need take up research on questions of labour and employment growth in the Indian context.


Gist of Editorials: Fixed Fate, Free Will | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


NITI Aayog has called upon the state governments to undertake structural transformations of the Indian agricultural sector

Reforming the ECA

Relaxation  of ECA(Essential Commodities Act) will help farmers  get the right price for their produce, while increase in availability will give (price) relief to consumers.

The concern with reforms of ECA

  • Will the commoner lose protection against irrational spikes in food prices?
  • Even with the ECA, governments have not been able to control price volatility effectively..

Can ECA reforms be successful?

  • Amending the ECA is a contagious issue, especially for such crops with fixed administered price.
  • Once the government commits an assured price to the growers, an essential corollary is that it must ensure the offtake of whatever is produced.
  • In the case of crops such as sugar cane, there is a political clout within the sugar milling industry that would resist any relaxation of control

Govt. purpose of modifying the act

The purpose of modifying the actis to encourage the much-needed investments in agricultural marketing.

Conclusion

Agricultural reforms will stand the test of time only if it can create an “enabling environment” for making these reforms work.


Gist of Editorials: Education and the Idea of Common Good | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


The idea of good and education have been symbiotically linked..

Moral Good and Education

  • Moral good has basically two dimensions: common good and individual good.
  • The common good involves human values.
  • These values are integral to the Constitution and find their mention in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) of 2019.
  • These values need to be promoted through education..

The problem

  • The passage to dissemination of such values does not seem to be safe.
  • This is because we are less concerned about restoring the public schools and
  • This is evident in the case of parents moving to private schools and coaching centres.

Way forward

  • We need to eliminate the social distance in the social relations.
  • The elimination of structural inequality is required.
  • The expansion of infrastructure for accessibility is important..
  • Ethics is crucial for orienting those in the education system towards the realisation of these proclaimed values.

Gist of Editorials: Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Finance Minister put thrust on zero budget farming in her Budget speech.

What is Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF)?

  • ZBNF is a method of chemical-free agriculture.
  • It promotes the application of jeevamrutha — a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil — on farmland.
  • A similar mixture, called bijamrita, is used to treat seeds and insect and pest management.
  • ZBNF is against vermicomposting.

What are the benefits of ZBNF ?

  • It will protect environment and fertility.
  • Cost of production could be drastically reduced.
  • It promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, etc.

Why does ZBNF matter?

  • There is a high level of indebtedness of farm households.
  • Central government’s promise to double farmers income by 2022.

Is ZBNF effective ?

  • Sharp decline in input costs and improvement in yields have been found.
  • However, ZBNF returns drop after a few years.
  • Sikkim has seen decline in yields due to organic farming.

Promotion of ZBNF

  • No new funding announced to promote it.
  • RKVY-RAFTAAR scheme and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana allow States to use their funds to promote the ZBNF.

What lies ahead?

  • NITI Aayog has been a promoter of the ZBNF method.
  • Multi-location studies are needed to validate the long-term impact and viability.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research is studying the ZBNF methods practised by farmers in several states.
  • An institutional mechanism could be set up to promote this technology.

Gist of Editorials: A Misleading Presentation of MGNREGA | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


The latest Economic Survey does not take a comprehensive view of the implementation of MGNERGA.

Reasons why Survey’s presentation of MGNREGA is misleading

  • A lack of adequate financial allocation, pending liabilities and low wages have dogged the MGNREGA.
  • Wage payments to MGNREGA workers happen in two stages.While it is true that delays in the first stage have reduced, those in the second stage continue to be unacceptably high.
  • Survey attributes an increase in demand for and supply of work in drought-affected areas to Aadhaar ignoring other crucial factors.
  • Surveywrongfully wholly attributes positive targeting of the MGNREGA —women, Dalits and Adivasis – to the introduction of Aadhaar..
  • It completely ignores numerous instances where technology has resulted in violation of workers’ rights under the MGNREGA.

Conclusion

Overlooking these fundamental issues, cherry-picking studies and using flawed analyses to justify technocracy is an example of ethical paralysis.