IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 30th August, 2016
TOPIC:General Studies 2
Indian Constitution, significant provisions and basic structure- Cooperative Federalism
Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
To unleash economic reforms: Strengthen Indian democracy
It is an undisputed fact that if a reform has to be effective and make sense in the larger scheme of things, it needs to be backed with a viable partnership between a liberal state and a constantly watchful civil society.
With much diversity and ‘peaceful’ existence even in a neighbourhood tortured with evergreen trouble, Indian democracy definitely calls for its celebration but while celebrating, this nationalistic fervour paves way for a blindfold on the ‘eyes of the mind’ and we forget to take a hard look at the state of our democracy.
2016 coincided with 25 years of India’s liberalization project but we still see discussions on how the economy needed to be unshackled from the tyranny of the licence raj, and about how we still are in requirement of a series of institutional reforms to unlock the economic potential of the country.
Huge gaps that need to be addressed urgently—
Ignorance on the part of political parties over two reports of the Law Commission—on Electoral Disqualifications (2014) and Electoral Reforms (2015; strong recommendations for curbing the flow of black money into electoral financing, as well as taking action against the phenomenon of ‘paid news’ used as electoral propaganda).
Recently, with an ironical touch, an amendment was brought to retrospectively alter the definition of what counts as a ‘foreign entity’—a move that benefits the top political parties in the country that had been in potential violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) until then.
State’s ham-handed response to dissent-
The law, as it stands, attracts a penalty of life imprisonment. In colonial times, this law was used to silence dissident Indians but today it is used freely to silence legitimate dissent.
But today, criticizing a political leader, a particular ideology or even expressing praise for a foreign nation can attract provisions of the law.
While the GST is being appreciated by all economics commentators, the implications for federalism have been largely left unclear. We should not forget that progress by states will have a much greater impact on India’s economic future than what happens in Delhi
There seems to exist a systematic erosion of the power of state governments to govern according to their priorities and there has been no reform in the structure of the Centrally-sponsored schemes (were openly criticized by Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat)
Steps need to be taken to promote cooperative federalism:
Reactivation of the Centre-State Council: Under Article 263, this council is expected to inquire and advise on disputes, discuss subjects common to all states and make recommendations for better policy coordination.
While competition between states, reflected in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, has generated interest, this must be a continuing exercise. But states not doing well on the index, complain of infirmities of process and procedure and these needs to be made more acceptable and transparent.
On issues like international treaties, a WTO obligation, or the environment, an institutional mechanism must be evolved where important decisions are appropriately discussed with states. As India becomes globally more interdependent, these potential contentious issues must be resolved.
Neglect of the democratic decentralisation process:
Issues plaguing both urban and rural local governments: poor resources and poor leadership, and an institutional framework that has not been reformed to keep up with the mounting responsibilities entrusted to local bodies.
In the past, there have also been a slew of steps taken by the government that has eroded local-level democracy.
Example: States such as Rajasthan and Haryana have hurt local governance by introducing questionable eligibility criteria for contesting elections; Nitish Kumar’s Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 empowers the District Collector to impose fines on a village/town (presumably with no involvement of the panchayat); in Maharashtra (and elsewhere), the forest department has violated the rights of tribal communities to manage their forests.
Connecting the Dots:
Enumerate the loopholes/issues plaguing the Indian polity that shatters the faith of our Constitution makers and political luminaries.
Do you think political and economic freedoms go hand in hand? Discuss
Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
India-China synergy to strengthen G20, BRICS
It is an annual gathering of the leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies.
Member states: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and EU.
Thus, it is a global mechanism that allows developed and developing countries to take an equal part in global economic governance.
In news: G20 Summit 2016 will be held in Hangzhou, China (September 2016)
Summit Theme: “Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”
Agenda of G20
Innovation: to highlight that innovation should become the new driving force of economy.
Sustainable development: to encourage G20 members to take lead in implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and set an example for international community.
Structural Reforms: to solve the deep-rooted problems in the global economy.
Trade and investment: to set up trade development strategy, global investment guidelines, guard against trade protectionism and there by reinvigorating dual engines of trade and investment.
Anti-corruption cooperation: to adopt specific and detailed measures to enhance international cooperation on anti-corruption.
Essence of the topics
They are in line with interest and needs of developing countries.
They are consistent with the trends of world development.
To shift G20 from a crisis-response mechanism to a platform attempting long-term governance.
The summit aims at broad strategy for global growth but it is likely to be overshadowed by focus on other topics.
USA and Japan may corner China on ongoing territorial disputes.
China is suffering from extensive trade protectionism with countries like UK. Hence, instead of forwarding talks, there is likelihood of shifting to dispute settlement.
The countries should strive for bringing out solution to the problems when a stark opportunity of discussion is provided on a global platform.
It is an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
In news: 8th BRICS summit will be held in Goa, India (October 2016)
The BRICS members have engaged actively recently:
Meeting of the Board of Governors of BRICS New Development Bank (NDB)
Meeting of Science and Technology Ministers to strengthen mutual cooperation
Meeting of BRICS working group on Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency
Anti-Drug Working Group meeting of Heads of Drug Control Agencies of BRICS countries
Consideration of arbitration mechanism for BRICS members
India and China are rising forces among BRICS countries.
Together, the BRICS countries have to address multiple issues
Some pessimistic views have been floating on BRICS nations’ development prospects.
Also, some BRICS countries are facing downward economic pressure.
Countries are facing internal political upheaval (Brazil), South Africa and Russia are shrinking economies and China’s growth is also slowing.
Dedicated efforts are required by members to make BRICS the strongest representative of developing economies.
Success of summits
The world has to engage more with developing countries. Hangzhou summit is expected to have representation from Laos (ASEAN chairman), Chad (African Union Presidency), Senegal (Presidency of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development), Egypt and Kazakhstan (major developing countries representative).
The countries have to adhere to principle of common but differentiated responsibilities on development issues to achieve affordability, accessibility and availability for people of developing economies.
Also, India and China have to work together to ensure the success on bilateral and global platforms.
Chinese foreign minister had conducted strategic communication with the India during his visit. The cooperation between two countries is sought to enhance solidarity among developing countries and elevate the status of emerging markets in global governance.
In particular with BRICS, it will re-energise successive summits held and thereby strengthen the position of bloc as the representative of emerging economies.
India is 7th largest and China is 2nd largest world economy.
India is 1st and China is 2nd in growth rate.
India is 3rd and China is 1st in contribution to world economic growth.
With Asia becoming the new global economic centre of gravity, India and China have critical role to play in becoming the driving force of the global economy.
India and China share more common interests than differences. More than competition, there has to be cooperation.
Deng Xiaoping was the Chief Architect of China’s reform and opening up policy. He had said 28 years ago that Asian century is possible only when India and China are developed. Today, his words are close to becoming reality.
India and China have to support each other in ensuring the success of the two Summits, in a bid to enhance cooperation and solidarity among developing countries and elevate the status of emerging markets in global governance.
The need is to put differences on specific issues in bilateral relations in a proper place so that they won’t impact the overall friendship and cooperation.
Dialogue and consultations have to be the medium of engagement.
Connecting the dots:
India and China share multiple concerns when it comes to security and trade engagements. Multilateral and regional summits provide a platform to discuss these issues. Critically analyse.