La Excellence IAS Academy

CEC Law be Struck Down as ‘Arbitrary, Severely Imperiling Independence of ECI’: Justice Nariman

Syllabus:  General Studies-II, Polity and Governance;

Context: Justice (Retired) Rohinton F Nariman, former Supreme Court judge said the recent Bill to regulate the appointment process of the Election Commission of India, be struck down as “arbitrary” and “severely imperiling the independence of ECI”.

Key Features of the CEC bill:

  • Appointment of CEC and ECs: By President on recommendations from a Selection Committee comprising the PM, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Leader of Opposition in LS.
  • Search Committee: led by the Cabinet Secretary will suggest candidates to Selection Committee.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Candidates must have held a post equivalent to the Secretary to the central government.
  • Salary and Conditions: The CEC and ECs will receive salaries and benefits equivalent to the Cabinet Secretary, a change from the previous equivalence to a Supreme Court judge.

Key Highlights of the interview:

  • Need ‘independent’ governors: Referring to the Kerala Governor sitting over eight bills for a period of 23 months, he also batted for Governors with “unimpeachable integrity” to “independently” exercise discretion over giving assent to Bills and to send a report to the Centre if there is a constitutional breakdown in the state.
  • On onslaught on media: referred to the tax raids on the BBC office after it aired a documentary on Gujarat riots earlier this year and said that “the media is our watchdog and if it is killed, then nothing remain”
    • The tax raids should be termed ‘illegal and unconstitutional, if the court finds the independent reporting has led to the same.
  • On collegium: said that the present system is ‘worst’ but ‘there is nothing better’ available.
    • He suggested that for appointment of judges, there should be a collegium of retired judges which could be selected by the practicing advocates in the Supreme Court and High Courts.
  • On CEC bill: According to me, it (CEC Bill) should be struck down for the asking as an arbitrary piece of legislation, because it severely imperils the independence of the working of the election commission. I sincerely hope so. If it is not, it is fraught with the greatest danger to democracy
  • On Abrogation of 370: SC’s judgment upholding abrogation of Article 370 was a ‘disturbing feature’ of this year having ‘tremendous impact on federalism’ and there was a question as to why it was abrogated when there was already a President’s Rule in the state and the centre was administering it.

Source: Indian Express

India, UK Working on Mobility Regime for Service Sector Workers Under FTA : Officials

Syllabus:  General Studies-II, International Relations;

Subject: International Relations;

Topic: India relations with Global Powers;

Issue: India-UK FTA;

Context: The United Kingdom (UK) is not keen on providing easier mobility norms for India’s services industry, a demand that India is seeking as part of the proposed Foreign Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations.


  • While India wants easier visa norms for its companies in the services sector that function out of Britain, the UK has been reluctant given migration concerns.
  • The FTA between India and the UK, originally slated for Diwali 2022, is yet to be finalized as the two sides continue to negotiate on a few unresolved issues, including Rules of Origin, United Kingdom’s demand for tariff concessions on electric vehicles, and norms about services.

What is a Free Trade Agreement?

  • A free trade agreement is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
  • Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.
  • The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.

How a Free Trade Agreement Works?

  • Free-trade policy may simply be the absence of any trade restrictions.
  • A government doesn’t need to take specific action to promote free trade. This hands-off stance is referred to as “laissez-faire trade” or trade liberalization.
  • Governments with free-trade policies or agreements in place do not necessarily abandon all control of imports and exports or eliminate all protectionist policies.
  • In modern international trade, few free trade agreements (FTAs) result in completely free trade.

Status of India’s FTAs:   Strategic Considerations at the core

Peru And Chile : India is commencing negotiations for an FTA with Peru and Chile.

  • From Peru and Chile there is a good possibility of securing critical mineral supply which will help in our energy transition for battery making.
  • So in addition to trade, now, we are looking at FTAs from the point of view of our strategic considerations.

Australia: Agreement talks also include smooth supplies of critical minerals like lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite which are the key minerals used in batteries.

  • Major issues in talks include digital trade, government procurement, and rules of origin.
  • Exploratory discussions are on to include 15 new areas in Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), and that include competition policy, MSME, gender, innovation, agri-tech, critical minerals and sport.

With Canada:

  • 9th round of talks was held last month.
  • Issues in the negotiations include goods, trade remedies, rules of origin and services.

Source: Indian Express

Exports Dipped Again in November, but Trade Deficit eases to 31% from Record High

Syllabus:  GS-III, Economy;

Subject: Economy;

Topic: External sector, Balance of Payments:

Issue: Balance of Payments;

Context:  India’s goods exports slipped back into contraction to drop 2.83% in November to $33.9 billion, while imports fell by a sharper 4.33% to $54.48 billion.


  • Weak Exports: Exports had recorded only their second uptick this year in October, and though the value of outbound shipments was up 1.1% on a month-on-month basis, they still marked the second-weakest level since November 2022.
  • Easing Trade deficit: The trade deficit for November eased sharply beyond expectations to $20.58 billion from the all-time high of $29.91 billion recorded in October.
  • Low merchandise exports: April and November 2023, merchandise exports from India are now 5% down at $278.8 billion, while imports have dropped 8.7% to $445.15 billion.
    • At $166.35 billion, the trade deficit so far this fiscal is 12.1% below the same period last year when several commodity prices had shot up after the conflict in Ukraine.

Balance of Payments:

  • Balance of Payment (BoP) of a country can be defined as a systematic statement of all economic transactions of a country with the rest of the world during a specific period usually one year.
  • Components of BoP: For preparing BoP accounts, economic transactions between a country and rest of the world are grouped under – Current account, Capital account and Financial Account and Errors and Omissions.
  • It also shows changes in Foreign Exchange Reserves.

Trade deficit:

  • A trade deficit is an amount by which the cost of a country’s imports exceeds its exports.
  • It’s one way of measuring international trade, and it’s also called a negative balance of trade.
  • A trade deficit can be calculated by subtracting the total value of a country’s exports from the total value of its imports.

Current Account Deficit:

  • The current account records exports and imports in goods and services and transfer payments. It represents a country’s transactions with the rest of the world.
  • There is a deficit in Current Account if the value of the goods and services imported exceeds the value of those exported.

Major components are:

  • Goods,
  • Services,
  • Net earnings on overseas investments (such as interests and dividend) and
  • Net transfer of payments over a period of time, such as remittances.

It is measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The formulae for calculating Current Account Balance:

  • Current Account Balance = Trade gap + Net current transfers + Net income abroad.
  • Trade gap = Exports – Imports.

Source: The Hindu

Maldives will Not Renew Agreement for Joint Hydrographic Survey with India: Top Official

Syllabus:  GS-II, International Relations;

Subject: International Relations;

Topic: India & its Neighborhood – Relations;

Issue: India-Maldives relations;

Context: The Maldives government has chosen not to renew a hydrographic survey agreement with India, marking a significant change in bilateral relations.

Hydrographic Survey Pact:

  • 2019 Agreement: During Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to the Maldives in June 2019, an MoU was signed for cooperation in hydrography between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
  • Working: These surveys involve mapping water bodies to facilitate safe and efficient maritime transportation.

Activities under the Pact:

  • Joint Hydrographic Surveys: Three joint surveys were conducted in 2021, 2022, and 2023, involving Indian Naval Ships like INS Darshak and INS Sutlej.
  • Objectives: The surveys aimed to update navigational charts and support sectors like tourism and fisheries. They also involved tidal observations and identifying new shoals.
  • Support to MNDF: India provided hydrographic equipment and training to MNDF personnel, aligning with its policy of supporting the Maldives in establishing hydrographic capabilities.

India’s Hydrographic Survey Agreements with Other Countries:

  • India has conducted hydrographic surveys in various countries, including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
  • International Cooperation: The National Hydrographic Office highlights the potential for international cooperation in hydrography, especially in regions with limited capabilities.

Rationale behind Maldives’ Decision:

  • Regime Change: The election of Mohamed Muizzu of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), seen as more pro-China, contrasts with his predecessor President Solih’s India-friendly stance.
  • Geopolitical Dynamics: China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean region, particularly through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has impacted India’s traditional sphere of influence in the Maldives.
  • ‘India Out’ Campaign: Allegations of Indian military presence and the new administration’s emphasis on national security and self-reliance in hydrographic capabilities have influenced this decision.

Possible outcomes:

  • Changing Geopolitical Landscape: The Maldives’ decision reflects the shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Indian Ocean, with growing Chinese influence challenging India’s traditional role.
  • Impact on India-Maldives Relations: This development could signify a recalibration of the Maldives’ foreign policy, potentially impacting India’s strategic interests in the region.

Source: The Hindu