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Daily News Analysis 19-10-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

Bangladesh Minister pitches for end to Nepal blockade (P 1,12)

a)     I.R

a)    The blockade aimed at Nepal is no longer a matter between India and Nepal as it has the potential to hurt the plans for shared prosperity among the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) members.

2.

New chapter with Nepal (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)    By inviting Nepals Deputy PM Kamal Thapa to New Delhi, India has chosen wisely to begin a fresh chapter with its neighbour with a view to ending the mistrust that has marked the relationship in the past two months.

3.

Engaging with an aspirational Africa (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)    Indias attitude towards Africa cannot remain imprisoned in the dark continent stereotype. Neither can it be defined solely by the legacy of the colonial era. Our language of engagement needs to create a new edifice defined by an aspirational.

4.

Death toll in last stage of Eelam war uncertain (Page 14)

a)     International

a)    Sri Lankas Prime Minister RanilWickremesinghe has acknowledged that there are no definite figures regarding the final estimate of casualties in the last stage of the Eelam War, which concluded in May 2009.

5.

Obama nod to lift Iran curbs (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     President Obama ordered the US government to take steps towards lifting sanctions on Iran, in accordance with the historic nuclear deal struck between six world powers and Tehran.

6.

NJAC judgment ignored basic structure of Constitution: Jaitley (Page1,12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)   Union Finance Minister Jaitley has strongly criticised the Supreme Courts scrapping of the 99th Constitutional Amendment or NJAC Act, saying the Supreme Courts judgment may be final, but it is not infallible and that it privileged a certain tyranny of the unelected in its logic.

7.

Judging the Judge-maker (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)    The four judgments of the majority have reasserted judicial independence, with its concomitant autonomy in appointments, as an integral part of the Constitutions basic structure.

8.

Need for an insurance index to measure financial and social progress in India: study (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)    A joint study highlighted that there is a need to set up an insurance index in India for insurance penetration to be quantified as a measure of financial and social progress as it is not enough to limit study of insurance growth to mere premium figures and policy numbers.

9.

Lower commodity prices indicate a slowdown (Pg 16)

a)     Economy

a)    Falling commodity prices are an ominous development for the global economy, more a double-edged weapon than an unmixed blessing even for India.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

Bangladesh Minister pitches for end to Nepal blockade (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Nepal relations

b)     Nepals new Constitution

c)     Madhesis concerns

d)     SAARC

a)    The blockade aimed at Nepal is no longer a matter between India and Nepal as it has the potential to hurt the plans for shared prosperity among the SAARC members.

b)     Bangladesh Minister of Commerce Tofail Ahmed told that the blockade (which had been hurting Nepals economy) should end at the earliest.He said such blockades were not in spirit of regional cooperation. He has been quite vocal in promoting free trade in the SAARC region.

c)     The first envoy of Nepals new govt(Deputy PM Kamal Thapa) met External Affairs Minister Sushmain Delhi in an attempt to resolve their twin concerns over making Nepals Constitution more inclusive and easing the blockage of more than 2500 trucks on the India-Nepal border that has led to weeks of chronic fuel, food and medicine shortages in country.

d)     According to officials, Indias main concern during the talks was to seek details of how the new govt of PM K.P. Oli would proceed with talks on the Madhesi agitation over the Constitution.

e)     At a Cabinet meeting, he reportedly appointed a special committee to hold talks with the protesting groups and agreed to discuss two key constitutional amendments cleared by his predecessor SushilKoiralas Cabinet. The amendments deal with proportional representation and the delineation of electoral constituencies.

2.

New chapter with Nepal (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Nepal relations

b)     Nepals new Constitution

c)     Madhesis concerns

 

a)By inviting Nepals Deputy PM Kamal Thapa to NewDelhi, India has chosen wisely to begin a fresh chapter with its neighbour with a view to ending the mistrust that has marked the relationship in past two months. By all accounts, the talks between Thapa and External Affairs Minister Sushma took off on right note.

b)     Two short-term objectives (of ending the pile-up of trucks at border in Bihar that Nepal terms an unofficial blockade, and of bringing the new PMOli to Delhi for talks) could soon be reached. In the longer term, the task for the govt is to help Nepal build on its Constitution to assuage the anger of the people of the Terai, without India further antagonising the people of the hills.

c)     If India must have a role in constitutional conflict, it must be that of uniting the political spectrum and encouraging talks - a role it has traditionally had since 1951. The visit by Foreign Secretary Jaishankar in last minute to try and convince Nepal leadership to postpone promulgation of Constitution, and conversations in New Delhi that seemed to favourSushilKoirala over Oli as the new PM, didnot help the situation.

d)    However, in the past week, in both New Delhi and Kathmandu the tone has changed. In an interview, PM Oli reached out with VijayaDasami wishes and a message of reconciliation, while officials in Delhi noted with satisfaction that the new govt has a willingness to address the issue of neglect of Madhesi groups.

e)     Above all, it is time to turn attention to the struggles of the ordinary citizen of Nepal, a country that has been battered by an earthquake and ruptured by internal divisions and brutal clashes. The two countries should meanwhile work to remove mutual mistrust on all other issues as well.

3.

Engaging with an aspirational Africa (Page 10)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Africa relations

b)     Africa-India Summit

a)    According to the author, the views of most Indians about Africa are still largely trapped in stereotypes. They are: Africa is still the land of jungle safaris; the place of Mahatma Gandhis first satyagraha; the continent of Ebola, HIV and tribal conflicts; the home-place of both Idi Amin and Nelson Mandela. Some new stereotypes have also come to shape contemporary views of Africa - it is a growing market for Indian companies but the Chinese have stolen a march over the Indians.

b)     The success of the Africa-India Summit being hosted this month in New Delhi will have to be measured by the extent to which it challenges these stereotypes and encourages greater people-to-people contact between the neighbouring continents.

c) Africa is no longer just about resources. A 2010 McKinsey report found that in the first decade of 21st century, growing consumer spending contributed more to the growth of African economies than commodities boom of that decade. This is one reason the World Bank and other institutions still remain optimistic about Africas economic rise despite the end of commodities super cycle - the long-term decline in commodity prices, especially oil.

d)     Despite the perpetuation of stereotypes at home, Indian businesses have been betting big on Africas rise. Many big Indian companies have already invested in opportunities presented by Africa and, contrary to the widespread perceptions, India is ahead of China at least in terms of private corporate investment.

e)     Investment from India accounted for 6 percent (compared to 3 percent from China) of all greenfield projects in Africa in the period 2009-14. While Europe and North America continue to dominate investment into the continent and still account for over 50 per cent of such projects, their share has been declining over the years while that of China and India has been rising.

f)    An expert attributes Africas economic rise to five factors: an improving political governance; a rapidly growing population; urbanisation; a better-educated and skilled workforce; and, global demographics that will enable Africa (like India) to remain a young continent in an ageing world. Clearly, these factors mimic the Indian development experience.

g)     There is one other key similarity between Africa and India - regional diversity. If India is a sum of its diversities, so is Africa, in every sense of term. Equally, it too is marked by geo-economic diversity. Just as coastal India is more developed than the landlocked regions, coastal Africa is more developed than inland Africa, except where nature has blessed it with oil and other valuable commodities. It may have been a good move for PMModi to invite a mix of State CMs to interact with the African heads of government because the continent-to-continent dialogue is in fact conducted at the level of nations and States.

h)     Indias new middle class may find a better connect with their aspirational African counterparts. Urbanisation is the growth engine for many African nations, spawning a new urban middle class that young India has to discover and relate to. Yet, city-to-city connectivity between India and Africa is virtually non-existent. Better connectivity will boost people-to-people links, a weak link in the growing trans-continental relationship.

i)     Absence of a greater interaction between constituents of a new aspirational Africa and their counterparts in a rising India has meant that the trans-continental relationship has been largely defined by the legacy of a shared colonial past rather than by the potential for a dynamic present and a promising future.

j)     While the language of the new engagement with Africa should build on the foundations of the past (Gandhi, Mandela and Afro-Asian solidarity), it must create a new edifice defined by aspirational Africas quest for a good life. African music (especially that from west Africa and South Africa) has its fan following in India.

k)     Another aspect of Africas diversity is the changing power equations among the continents leaders and laggards. Before the end of Apartheid, it was the nationalist post-colonial leaders like KenyasJomo Kenyatta; Zambias Kenneth Kaunda; Ghanas Kwame Nkrumah; and Ethiopias Haile Selassie who spoke for Africa. Then Nelson Mandela rose to tower over all.

l)    The diversity of the African growth experience, and of the continents geo-economic and geopolitical evolution in the post-Cold War period, has opened up new opportunities for Indian diplomacy and business. It is the interests of a new aspirational, rising and hope-filled continent that India must now address.

4.

Death toll in last stage of Eelam war uncertain (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas internal issues

b)     Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC)

c)     LTTE

d)     Eelam War

a)    Sri Lankas Prime Minister RanilWickremesinghe has acknowledged that there are no definite figures regarding the final estimate of casualties in the last stage of the Eelam War, which concluded in May 2009.

b)    He also hinted that the tally could be less than 40,000, the figure originally mentioned in a report of the UN Secretary Generals Panel of Experts in March 2011.

c)     A report of the Secretary Generals Internal Review Panel on UN Action in Sri Lanka in Nov 2012 statedciting some govt sources that the number was well below some 10,000. However, the LLRC(constituted by the Sri Lankan govt) in its report of Nov 2011 concluded that it is not possible to establish a verified figure given the difficult circumstances of the situation.

d)     The re-establishment of democratic institutions, which had got weakened and were malfunctioning under former President Rajapaksa was the next. As for his countrys ties with India, he said his country had an agreement with India that neither nation will do anything to harm the security interests of the other country.

5.

Obama nod to lift Iran curbs (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Iran – P5+1 nuclear deal

b)     Irans nuclear programme

c)     IAEA

a)     President Obama ordered US govt to take steps towards lifting sanctions on Iran, in accordance with the historic nuclear deal struck between six world powers and Tehran.

b)     He said the measures will take effect upon confirmation by the Secretary of State that Iran has met its commitments under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the accord is known.

c)     Iran notified the IAEA that it would apply a protocol granting inspectors greater access to its nuclear sites, a further step in implementation of the historic deal.

6.

NJAC judgment ignored basic structure of Constitution: Jaitley (Page1 and 12)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

b)     99th Constitutional Amendment

c)     Collegium system

d)     Supreme court

e)     Article 124

f)     Article 217

g)     Parliament

a)   Union Finance Minister Jaitley has strongly criticised the Supreme Courts scrapping of the 99th Constitutional Amendment or NJAC Act, saying the Supreme Courts judgment may be final, but it is not infallible and that it privileged a certain tyranny of the unelected in its logic.

b)     He said the verdict raised several issues in his mind, particularly the fact that politician bashing seems to be the key ingredient of the judgment and this ignored the basic structure of Constitution where parliamentary democracy was central and where the will of the people (as represented by elected representatives) was sovereign.

c)     He said the judgment was based on the premise that the independence of judiciary would be compromised because of the presence of politicians on the judges appointment commission, that judges thus appointed would feel indebted to the politicians.

d)     Jaitleysaid that although unquestionably independence of the judiciary is a part of basic structure of the Constitution, the judgment ignored several other pillars of the Constitution, such as the PM, his Council of Ministers, the Law Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

e)     He also said that the court quashed the 99th Constitutional Amendment. While quashing the same, it re-legislated the repealed provisions of Article 124 and 217 which only the legislature can do.

7.

Judging the Judge-maker (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

b)     99th Constitutional Amendment

c)     Collegium system

d)     CJI

e)     Supreme court

f)     Article 124A(1)

g)     Parliament

 

 

a)    According to the author, till 1993, judges were appointed by the executive in consultation with the judiciary. In good times, consultation with the judiciary went beyond seeking of opinion to attempt a consensus. However, the judicial voice was often neither dominant nor decisive. In bad times, govts made calls for a committed judiciary, attempted to court-pack and sometimes indulged in rank favouritism.

b)     It was in this backdrop, in 1993 during NarasimhaRaos minority govt that a quiet declaration of judicial independence occurred. Justice J.S. Vermas judgment in the Supreme Court Advocates on Record case, gave the CJ and senior judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts the power of making almost binding recommendations, for future appointments of judges in the constitutional courts.

c)     Whenever a vacancy arose in the brotherhood, it would be filled by someone pre-approved by the judges and the executive could only demur in the appointment if cogent grounds existed. If, despite executive demur, the judges insisted on the appointment, the executive would have to confirm it. The Indian judiciary managed to create (by constitutional interpretation) a self-appointing elite. Within that elite, the power to recommend appointments belonged to a super-elite called the collegium.

d)     In 1998, during the Vajpayee Government (on a presidential reference), the Court defined the collegium that the opinion of the CJIhas to be formed in consultation with a collegium of Judges. Presently, and for a long time now, that collegium consists of the two seniormostpuisne Judges of the Supreme Court.The principal objective of the collegium is to ensure that the best available talent is brought to the Supreme Court bench.

e)     Since the collegium comprised of the most senior amongst the judges (who all retired upon turning 65), its composition was never stable. On an average, a senior judge would normally serve in the collegium for three years or less and would head it for less than a year.Hence, securing judicial appointments through the collegium became a deadly game of musical chairs

f)     But the collegium also ensured that judges were not beholden to any politician. A bold judgment could end up unseating the most powerful of politicians or irretrievably damaging them.Politicians of all hues yearned for the early years of strong govts with huge parliamentary majorities, where judges were sometimes seen, but rarely heard of.

g)     Towards the end of the UPA regime, the govt sought to tame judges by demolishing the collegium. It brought in a constitutional amendment to provide for the NJAC - an independent commission with three senior judges, two eminent outsiders and the Law Minister. The UPAs inept parliamentary handling led to a failure of the bill.

h)     A commanding NDA victory in 2014 saw the Modi government revive the proposal and Parliament amended the Constitution brought about the 99th Amendment to provide for the NJAC. Subsequent ratification of 20 States was obtained and it seemed that the collegium was history.

i)     Petitions were filed challenging the constitutional amendment. Going by earlier experiences of judicial standoffs, many men of law expected that a constitutional amendment (almost unanimously passed by Parliament) would be rubber-stamped by the Court. Some were hopeful of judicial creativity finding a via-media which (while upholding the amendment) limited governmental interference.

j)     When the judgment was delivered on Oct 15 2015, it was a decisive blow. The Court by a 4-1 majority, struck down the 99th Amendment. Justice Kehars judgment concluded that the NJAC did not provide an adequate representation, to the judicial component and that clauses (a) and (b) of Article 124A(1) are insufficient to preserve the primacy of the judiciary in matter of selection and appointment of Judges.

k)     It further held that Article 124A(1) is ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution, because of the inclusion of the Union Minister in charge of Law and Justice as an ex officio Member of NJAC. The clause it was held, impinged upon the principles of independence of judiciary, as well as, separation of powers. The clause which provided for the inclusion of 2 eminent persons as Members of NJAC was held ultra vires the provisions of the Constitution, for a variety of reasons.

l)     The four judgments of the majority have reasserted judicial independence with its concomitant autonomy in appointments, as an integral part of the Constitutions basic structure. No parliamentary majority can amend the Constitution to alter its basic structure and hence the 99th Amendment failed constitutional scrutiny. The court has reinstated the collegium as the clearinghouse of all judicial appointments to the constitutional courts.

m)     Justice Chellameshwars dissenting judgment has upheld the constitutional amendment which scrapped the collegium. Like all dissents, his judgment is an appeal to the future and the powerful brooding spirit of the law.

n)     The Court has now opted to take the path to reform, rather than change to an altogether new road created by Parliament. It is to be hoped that the courts choice leads not to the dreary desert sands of dead habit, but into ever widening thought and action.

8.

Need for an insurance index to measure financial and social progress in India: study (Page 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Insurance index in India

b)     Financial inclusion

c)     Indias economic growth

d)     GDP

e)     Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham)

f)     Crisil

a)  A joint study (by Assochamand Crisil) highlighted that there is a need to set up an insurance index in India for insurance penetration to be quantified as a measure of financial and social progress as it is not enough to limit study of insurance growth to just premium figures and policy numbers.

b)     The study pointed out that such an index could also be used by relevant industry players and policymakers to move towards financial inclusion and reach out to potential markets.

c)     At 3.9 percent (2013-14), insurance penetration in India paints a grim picture against the world average of 6.3 percent largely due to limited financial awareness and literacy among masses.Besides, India is also far behind advanced economies on insurance density, which is measured as a ratio of premium to total population unlike insurance penetration, which is a ratio of premium to GDP.

d)     Highlighting the various potential characteristics of an insurance index, the study observed that penetration of various kinds of insurance like micro-insurance, livelihood insurance and others should be considered to ensure inclusive growth.

9.

Lower commodity prices indicate a slowdown (Page 16)

a)     Economy

a)     Global economic situation

b)     Global financial crisis 2008

c)     International Monetary Fund (IMF)

d)     World Economic Outlook (WEO)

a)    The IMF has just released its bi-annual update to its flagship publication the WEO. Having the sub-title Adjusting to Lower Commodity Prices the report is both provocative as well as portentous.

b)  Provocative because it raises some fundamental questions on the assumptions that have guided policy makers around the world recently. It is portentous because scepticism over recent policy assumptions will lead to a different way of looking at the global economy, its strength and weaknesses.

c)     At the macro level low commodity prices are responsible for the lower inflation and dramatic improvement in the current account of balance of payments. Such gains are tangible and though not the only reasons are directly behind improvement in the economic outlook.

d)  However, falling commodity prices are an ominous development for the global economy, more a double-edged weapon than an unmixed blessing even for India.

e)     Declining commodity prices have been considered to be beneficial because they have occurred in tandem with other positives such as rolling back of global liquidity, increase in supply of commodities and certain other developments.

f)    Commodity prices are low because demand is sluggish. Almost all countries both emerging and developed ones are witnessing lower growth, if at all. China is definitely slowing. Europe is stumbling from one crisis to another and Japan is witnessing insignificant growth despite all out efforts by its government to stimulate the economy. Among the advanced economies only the US economy appears to be firmly on the mend after the 2008 global financial crisis.

g)  Emerging market economies have had an uneven ride since the 2008 crisis. In the initial recovery phase, these economies displayed resilience. With China leading the way and India not doing too badly either, the IMF and other world bodies could describe them as growth engines compensating for the slack in advanced economies.

h)     The situation has changed. Nearly all the developing countries which are dependent on commodities are now in doldrums. Falling commodity prices have hurt both importers and exporters of commodities. Brazil, South Africa and Russia, all big exporters of commodities have been hit badly.

i)     The IMF records the fact that for the fifth year in a row the emerging economies put together are in line to post lower growth rate than the previous year.

j)     As for the global economy, the IMFs projection at 3.1 percent for the current year indicates slower growth than last year and a significant 0.4 percentage points lower than its April forecast. A mild recovery of sorts is indicated for 2016. Even the anticipated 3.6 percent growth rate is lower than the corresponding April forecast. Significantly, the update lists a number of downside risks to these projections.

k)     The important message is that the low global demand is the prime reason for low commodity prices. Unless there is a marked revival in demand commodity prices will remain low. This also explains why a highly sensitive commodity like petroleum has not reacted to the worsening the geopolitical situation in the oil producing region.

l)     The slowdown in China, by far the biggest consumer of commodities has been well documented. Its economy is projected to grow by 6.8 percent this year, lower by 0.5 percentage points last year. It will decelerate further by a similar margin next year.

m)     India stands out in this bleak scenario with a growth projection of 7.3 percent in 2015, the same as last year and 7.5 percent in 2016. India overtaking China in a few years has been hyped but can be very misleading. It is going to take many more years of rapid growth to come anywhere near where China, is at the moment.

n)     In fact it might lead to complacency and prevent the implementation of much needed reforms. IMFs October update makes out a case for structural, productivity enhancing reforms. The scope for further conventional monetary and fiscal measures is limited.

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