Editorial Simplified: Re-Imagining Delhi | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (Governance)

Theme of the article

The governance structure is in need of a drastic remake.


Notwithstanding the importance of the rural sector, it is the cities and towns, that extensively impact the public’s perception of a government’s performance.

Governance issues in urban areas

  • annual inundation of cities,
  • daily loss of lives on roads,
  • frequent infernos highlight,
  • plethora of elected and other agencies
  • migration has steadily risen over the decades.
  • with people pouring into the city and cars on to roads, the outlook for the environment looks grim
  • large number of homeless people
  • large number of population is in slums and unauthorised colonies.
  • High wages with little accountability for actual service delivery make public sector agencies an obvious target for patronage hiring.
  • In most cities, municipalities are viewed as dens of corruption and inaction. Inspectors do not inspect, they only extort
  • Councillors and commissioners don’t regularly move around their wards; they remain inaccessible to people.

Way forward

  • Cities are in need of duly empowered municipalities and institutional systems and processes for closely coordinated and accountable agencies that can deliver in areas such as sanitation, health, education, mobility and housing.
  • We need privatisation of civic delivery services like cleaning of roads and drains.
  • Conservancy services deserve a senior-level exclusive administration.
  • Waste management demands professionalism and technology.
  • The use of biotechnology should help in the treatment and disposal of waste
  • information technology in city planning and service delivery options;
  • energy saving and cleaner technologies in urban transport;
  • high-tech, low-cost materials in building and housing.
  • Economies of scale can be achieved by sharing service areas such as billing and tariff collections, cable laying and maintenance.
  • Common Economic Zone, with a rationalised inter-State tax structure, uniform financial/banking services, telecom facilities and power supply, an integrated education and health policy, rail and road transport network, water supply and drainage system.


The city needs to first address its basic problems before it dreams of striding towards the goal of being really swachh and ‘smart’.


Editorial Simplified: Before Eviction | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (Polity & Governance)

Theme of the article

States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights.

Why has this issue cropped up?

The Supreme Court’s order to evict, over the next five months, occupants of forest lands who failed to make a successful claim for tenure under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, has once again highlighted the dilemma of reconciling inalienable tribal rights with biodiversity conservation.

Non-establishment of claims

  • The Forest Rights Act protected possession and conferred heritability of land to over 23 lakh out of 44 lakh claimants who are either specified Scheduled Tribes, or people who have lived in forests traditionally, relying on forest produce for at least 75 years prior to the cut-off year of 2005.
  • But over 20 lakh other applicants who could not establish their claim through gram sabhas and appellate authorities have now been ordered to be evicted by July 12.

Eviction unjustified

When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed, it was with the wholly welfarist goal of making these communities partners in conservation. They would be stewards of forests that have shrunk and become fragmented over the decades

Way forward

  • The answer in many areas may lie in resettlement.
  • In some well-documented cases, such as in the Western Ghats, alternative land and cash compensation are needed to convince tribals to move out of core areas. s
  • States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights
  • State governments need to pursue such programmes in a humane and vigorous fashion.
  • They must also come forward to declare critical wildlife habitats under the Act. This will aid in formulating resettlement schemes for tribal residents.

Editorial Simplified: Coalition of the Concerned | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II( International Relations)

Theme of the article

Multi-pronged diplomacy is vital to compel Pakistan to end its support for terrorist groups.

Why has this issue cropped up?

In the wake of the Pulwama attack on February 14, the government has iterated once again its plan for the “diplomatic isolation” of Pakistan.

What should India do?

  • Recently, Iran and Afghanistan have faced terror attacks on their security forces along the border with Pakistan. Thus, India should try to repackage its idea of “isolating Pakistan” into one of building a more inclusive ‘coalition against terrorism emanating from Pakistan’. In today’s interconnected world, it is vainglorious to expect countries to join a unilateral plan for isolation.
  • Second, India must focus on the case against Masood Azhar. His banning and prosecution should be pursued.
  • Third, India must prepare for a pushback from Pakistan, most likely in terms of internationalising the Kashmir issue, and linking it to progress in Afghanistan.
  • Next, the government must prioritise action over words. It is better for New Delhi to use India’s considerable diplomatic leverage to ensure action that would shut down the JeM and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) permanently and bring their leaders to justice.
  • India must also press the U.S. to place travel sanctions on specific entities in the Pakistani military establishment unless visible action is taken against the JeM, whose leaders hold public rallies and issue videos threatening India.
  • A similar line of talks must be pursued by New Delhi with Riyadh — which once was a donor to Pakistan’s Islamist institutions, but now is wary of funding extremism — to withhold any funds that may trickle down to charitable wings run by the JeM and LeT.
  • With China, it is surprising that the issue of a simple ban at the UN Security Council has not been made India’s chief demand from Beijing. It is hoped that this will be rectified soon when the next proposal to ban Azhar is brought to the UNSC. More than the ban, however, India must ask China for action against any entities dealing with the JeM in Pakistan, given that China is the partner with the most influence in Pakistan today, and one with the most to lose from terror groups in Punjab operating along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
  • Finally, India must look to its own actions on the diplomatic front with Pakistan. Calling off a formal dialogue process for more than a decade has clearly yielded no desired outcome. South Asia as a region, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) process too have suffered the consequences of this disengagement, without yielding any desired outcomes.


A measured, steady and non-political level of dialogue is a more effective way of impressing India’s determination to root out terrorism than the present on-again, off-again policy.


Editorial Simplified: Safety Nets| GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Economy)

Theme of the article

New rules on unregulated deposit schemes need to be backed up with proper checks.

Why has this issue cropped up?

President  promulgated the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance.

What does the ordinance aim at?

The ordinance bars all deposit schemes in the country that are not officially registered with the government from either seeking or accepting deposits from customers.

How will the ordinance help?

  • The savings of low-income Indian households have traditionally remained unprotected by the government when compared to those of the more affluent economic groups. But that may change now after the promulgation of the ordinance.
  • This attempt to curb unregulated deposit schemes through an ordinance reflects a timely recognition of the need for greater legal protection to be offered for those depositors with inadequate financial literacy.

Provisions of the ordinance

  • The ordinance will help in the creation of a central repository of all deposit schemes under operation, thus making it easier for the Centre to regulate their activities and prevent fraud from being committed against ordinary people.
  • The ordinance allows for compensation to be offered to victims through the liquidation of the assets of those offering illegal deposit schemes.

Popular deposit schemes

  • Popular deposit schemes such as chit funds and gold schemes, which as part of the huge shadow banking system usually do not come under the purview of government regulators, have served as important instruments of saving for people in the unorganised sector.
  • But these unregulated schemes have also been misused by some miscreants to swindle the money of depositors with the promise of unbelievably high returns in a short period of time.
  • The Saradha chit fund scam in West Bengal is just one example of such a heinous financial crime against depositors.

The challenge posed by the ordinance

A potential risk involved when the government, as in this case, takes it upon itself to guarantee the legitimacy of various deposit schemes is that it dissuades depositors from conducting the necessary due diligence before choosing to deposit their money.

Way forward

  • While the intent of the ordinance, which is to protect small depositors, is indeed commendable, the benefits that depositors will eventually derive from the new legislation will depend largely on its proper implementation.
  • Policymakers will have to make sure that the bureaucrats responsible for the on-ground implementation of the ordinance are keen on protecting the savings of low-income households.
  • There must also be checks against persons in power misusing the new rules to derecognise genuine deposit schemes that offer useful financial services to customers in the unorganised sector.


The passing of tough laws may thus be the easiest of battles in the larger war against illicit deposit schemes.


Editorial Simplified: Harmonising NBFCs| GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Economy)

Why has this issue cropped up?

The RBI recently spoke about working towards harmonisation of the various categories of NBFCs involved in credit intermediation. This is a welcome step.

Categories of NBFCs in India

  • Of the more than 10,000 NBFCs operating in India, 95 per cent are non-deposit taking.
  • The others include asset financing, micro-finance, and core investment companies.

Problem with categorisation of NBFCs

Too many categories increase compliance cost for the industry and monitoring cost for the regulator.


  • When the RBI releases the guidelines for harmonised entities later this month, it will recognise only two categories, NBFCs and CICs.
  • The effects of the harmonised regulations could have far-reaching implications for the future growth and business direction of NBFCs.

The issues that need to be addressed

The key questions that the RBI should address are:

  • Should we have the same set of regulations for all NBFCs even as they vary widely in their business focus and sources of funding?
  • How do you enforce prudential risk measures for each asset class, while preventing distortionary anomalies from arising post implementation of ‘activity based’ regulations?
  • And, should banks and NBFCs engaged in similar activities operate under equitable, non-discriminatory regulations?

Way forward

  • Separate regulations for each activity that an entity is involved in would increase compliance cost, which will hit smaller players more.
  • On activity-based regulations, there is a need to differentiate between assets based on inherent risks. Risk weights could then be prescribed based on the quality of asset and tenure.
  • A risk weight mechanism based on the expected losses considering the probability of default, the loss given default, duration and exposure at default is the need of the hour.
  • The RBI must allow the poor to monetise their meagre gold assets better by doing away with the cap.
  • Gold loans given to farmers by banks are classified as priority sector lending whereas gold loans by NBFCs do not get the benefit. Ideally, the RBI can bring all such lending into the priority sector ambit, whether the exposure is by banks directly, or indirectly through NBFCs.
  • There is also a case for considering small ticket gold loans as micro-credit and, therefore, priority sector lending.
  • Lastly, while the RBI is the lender of last resort for banks, the NBFCs currently do not have any such institutional mechanism. To protect the interests of the marginalised borrowers, the RBI should open a direct source of funds for NBFCs, even as a short-term measure till the debt market returns to normalcy.

Editorial Simplified: Mixed Optics | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II( International Relations)

Theme of the article

The Saudi Crown Prince’s visit highlighted the complexities in bilateral ties


The visit  of Crown Prince Mohammed  Salman Bin to New Delhi will be regarded as a diplomatic success, given the numerous outcomes.

Progress of India-Saudi relations

  • India and Saudi Arabia have steadily built bilateral relations and taken great care over the past two decades to ‘de-hyphenate’ them from ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
  • India-Saudi Arabia ties were strengthened into a strategic partnership announced in 2010 in the Riyadh Declaration when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid a visit, and were bolstered by King Salman’s visit in February 2014 and Mr. Modi’s 2016 trip to Saudi Arabia..

The outcomes of the visit

  • Announcement were made for measures to:
    • upgrade the defence partnership,
    • create a “Strategic Partnership Council” to coordinate on security issues, and
    • institute regular talks between the two national security advisers to discuss counter-terrorism, intelligence-sharing and maritime security.
  • Saudi Arabia has also expressed its interest in investing in infrastructure projects worth about $26 billion. This is beyond its already committed investments in India of $44 billion for the existing joint venture with the public sector oil undertakings and public fund investments of $10 billion.
  • The language on terrorism in the joint statement was something of a dampener for those who would have hoped there would be stronger condemnation of the terror attack in Pulwama. But it was significant that the Saudi government agreed to insert an extra clause calling on states to renounce the “use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy”.
  • It also acknowledged that disputes between India and Pakistan must be resolved bilaterally.
  • The prince agreed to increase Haj quotas and release 850 Indians from Saudi jails.


Editorial Simplified: Without Land or Recourse | GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II ( Polity & Governance)

Theme of the article

The Supreme Court order on the eviction of forest dwellers raises very disturbing questions.

Why has this issue cropped up?

The Supreme Court recently issued an order with respect to the claims of forest-dwelling peoples in India — the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers.

Order of the court

The court has ordered the eviction of lakhs of people whose claims as forest dwellers have been rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, or FRA.

Is this order of the court justified?

  • The Xaxa Committee observed that “claims are being rejected without assigning reasons, or based on wrong interpretation of the ‘OTFD’ definition and the ‘dependence’ clause, or simply for lack of evidence or ‘absence of GPS survey’ or because the land is wrongly considered as ‘not forest land’, or because only forest offence receipts are considered as adequate evidence.
  • The rejections are not being communicated to the claimants, and their right to appeal is not being explained to them nor its exercise facilitated.
  • The mere rejection of claims by the state therefore does not add up to a finding of the crime of “encroachment”.
  • The area marked for eviction falls under areas designated under Schedule V and Schedule VI of the Constitution — there is no reference to the implications for governance in the Scheduled Areas and whether the Supreme Court, in fact, has the authority to order evictions of Scheduled Tribes from Scheduled Areas.
  • In a democratic country with citizens (not subjects) and a written Constitution which is affirmed by the people who are sovereign, how can we countenance the dismantling of an entire constitutional apparatus that prescribes the non-derogable boundaries to Adivasi homelands and institutional mechanisms that promote autonomy and restrain interference in self-governance?
  • We are speaking of special protections under the Constitution — even more today than ever before. The presence of Article 19(5) in the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Constitution, which specifically enjoins the state to make laws “for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe”, is vital. How has the Supreme Court ordered the eviction in complete disregard of this core and express fundamental right protection to Adivasis ?
  • Is it not the supreme obligation of the Supreme Court to protect the Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable communities from the grave harms of violent dispossession?
  • In the recent judgments of the apex court on the right to privacy and Section 377, the court has sung paeans to autonomy, liberty, dignity, fraternity and constitutional morality — the pillars of transformative constitutionalism. It is the same court in the same era that has now ordered the dispossession of entire communities protected under the Constitution.


The immediate result will be the forced eviction of over one million people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and other forest communities. We, as citizens, have every reason to worry.


Editorial Simplified: To Create Jobs| GS – III

Relevance: GS Paper III (Economy)

Theme of the article

To create jobs, focus on the small sector Improving the ease of doing business for small and medium business is key to job creation.


The Indian economy is the fastest growing among all major economies in the world. However, last year the unemployment rate touched a four-decade high.

Present economic situation offers no hope to provide jobs

  • With every new generation coming in, fragmentation of farm holdings will continue and migration to urban areas will increase. A sustainable agriculture will have to make do with fewer and fewer cultivators.
  • Large-scale manufacturing projects attract big ticket investments and incorporate latest technologies. Cost of capital to cost of labour has drastically come down in recent years, thus raising the attractiveness of bringing in new technology which will kill jobs.
  • The current rise in digital technologies, automation and robotics has strengthened these trends further.
  • The government sector was once a key source of formal jobs but extensive use of contract employment and outsourcing to private firms, which also hire contract workers, has dealt a severe blow to quality jobs.
  • By far the most potent policy weapon for creating new jobs at the bottom of the pyramid which reduces distress is the rural employment guarantee programme (MGNREGA). But here also allocation as well as attention to glitches are inadequate.

How to address this crisis of joblessness?

  • The place to look for new jobs is businesses at the bottom of the pyramid and the place to begin is small units, even unincorporated ones where the business and the proprietor are financially undifferentiated. A favourable policy environment needs to be created for them.
  • The same potential for growth and job creation exists among the small-scale sector.
  • Thereafter come the small to medium size units which are incorporated and form the bottom rung of the corporate sector.
  • The maximum policy focus has to be on improving the ease of doing business for small and medium business, contrary to the focus so far on the demands of the corporate sector which wields substantial lobbying power.
  • Infrastructure for small businesses has to be available at a minimum. Without adequate and affordable power, water and access to roads, neither business nor jobs can prosper. Here local governments have to take the initiative.
  • While the job potential in agriculture and industry is limited, it is the opposite in the case of services. Accounting for the largest chunk of India’s GDP service sector jobs exist not just in urban and semi urban areas but in the countryside too. Infrastructure is needed to take these urban amenities to rural areas.
  • The one magic key to job creation is skills creation. In this the Indian administrative system has proved to be woefully inadequate. So policies and programmes are there waiting to be implemented.