News & Editorial Analysis 7 January 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – National Statistical Office (NSO):
GS II Topic Government Policies and Interventions
The National Statistical Office (NSO) on Friday released the First Advance Estimates of National Income for the year, which predicts that India’s real GDP will increase by 7% in 2022–23, down from 8.7% in FY22.
The advance estimate estimates that after the GDP expanded by an estimated 9.7% in the first six months, growth will decrease to 4.5% in the second half.
The government has created the NSO, a governing body, by fusing the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Computer Center, and Central Statistical Office (CSO).
NSO was originally intended by Rangarajan Commission to carry out and uphold statistical standards and coordinate the statistical activities of Central and State agencies as stipulated by the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
The Secretary would be the NSO’s director (Statistics and Programme Implementation).
The CSO creates statistical guidelines and coordinates all national statistics programmes.
The NSSO is in charge of conducting extensive sample surveys at the national level in a number of different industries.
Child Ministry: The statistical section of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI).
The national statistical office’s main responsibilities are:
develops and supports norms and standards for the area of statistics, including concepts and terminology, data collection methods, data processing, and results distribution. It serves as the focal point for the country’s planned growth of the statistical system.
in addition to generating national accounts, produces annual estimates of the national GDP, government and private consumer expenditure, capital formation, savings, estimates of the capital stock, and consumption of fixed capital
keeps in touch with international statistical organisations like the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), etc.
executes the Annual Survey of Industries and creates and publishes monthly “quick estimates” of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) (ASI)
organises and conducts annual business surveys and economic censuses across all of India. Go to https://www.adda247.com/upsc-exam/national-statistical-office-nso/ for more information. for additional details.
2 – Minimum Support Price (MSP):
GS II Topic Indian Agriculture
In the agricultural market yards of Andhra Pradesh, up to 13,000 jaggery farmers and their families are anticipating the execution or official announcement of the projected minimum support price (MSP) of 5000 per 100-kg lump of jaggery.
A committee led by B. Brahmananda Reddy, a farmer leader based in Kurnool and consultant to the AP State Agriculture Marketing and Cooperation, issued the MSP recommendation in October of last year after consulting with the jaggery growers and traders in the Anakapalli borders.
The rate at which the government buys crops from farmers is known as the MSP, and it is calculated as being at least 1.5 times the farmers’ production expenses.
Any crop the government determines to be profitable for farmers and hence deserving of “assistance” has a “minimum price” (MSP) established for it.
According to the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices, sugarcane is one of 22 required crops and one of the MSP-recommended crops (CACP).
CACP is the name of a division within the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
The list of necessary crops consists of 14 crops for the kharif season, 6 crops for the rabi season, and 2 more commercial crops.
Additionally, the MSPs for de-husked coconut and toria are established using the MSPs for copra and rapeseed/mustard, respectively.
Conditions for Proposing the MSP When determining the MSP for a product, the CACP considers a number of criteria, including the cost of cultivation.
The dynamics of supply and demand for the commodity, price trends on both the domestic and global markets, parity with respect to other crops, consumer effects (inflation), environmental effects (soil and water consumption), and trade agreements between the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors are all taken into account.
There are three various production cost types: For each crop, the CACP calculates three different types of average production costs at both the state and national levels for India.
‘A2’: Covers all of the farmer’s direct costs, including fuel, irrigation, hired labour, leased land, pesticides, fertiliser, and seeds.
“A2+FL” stands for A2 plus an imputed value for unpaid family labour.
“C2”: This cost is more thorough and includes fixed capital assets, interest forgone on owned land, and rentals in addition to A2+FL.
CACP considers both A2+FL and C2 costs when advising MSP.
The return cost is simply estimated by CACP as A2+FL.
However, C2 costs are primarily used by CACP as benchmark reference costs (opportunity costs) to assess whether the MSPs they recommend at least cover these costs in some of the major producing States.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Union government makes the ultimate decision on the MSP level and other recommendations made by CACP.
Why is MSP necessary?
Due to the twin droughts of 2014 and 2015, farmers have been forced to deal with declining commodity prices since 2014.
The rural economy was hurt by the simultaneous shocks of demonetization and the implementation of the GST, especially the non-farm sector but also agriculture.
Due to the epidemic, the decline in the economy after 2016–17, and other issues, the majority of farmers still live in insecure situations.
Cost increases for fuel, energy, and fertilisers have only gotten worse.
What Issues Concern India’s MSP Regime?
limited scope Despite the official release of MSPs for 23 different crops, only two commodities—rice and wheat—are purchased because they are distributed through NFSA (National Food Security Act).
The rest is mostly incidental and unimportant.
Ineffectively Implemented: According to the 2015 Shanta Kumar Committee study, just 6% of the MSP could be received by farmers, meaning that 94% of farmers nationwide did not benefit from the MSP.
More of a Purchase Price The current MSP policy has no impact on domestic market prices. It serves as a procurement price rather than an MSP because its primary function is to satisfy NFSA requirements.
Results in Paddy and Wheat Farming’s dominant industry Farmers are prevented from producing other crops and horticulture goods because of the overproduction of rice and wheat brought on by the unbalanced MSP system, which may increase farmers’ revenue.
Smaller farmers may find it challenging to get in touch with the middlemen, commission agents, and APMC officials who are necessary for the MSP-based procurement system.
How to Proceed:
True MSPs demand that the government step in if market prices fall below a predetermined level, usually when there is an excess of production and supply or when external factors have caused a price collapse.
MSP can also be a motivating price for many of the products that are desirable for nutritional security, such as coarse cereals, as well as for pulses and edible oils for which India is dependent on imports.
Spending more money on nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, together with fisheries and animal husbandry, is the way to wisdom.
The best way to invest is to give companies financial incentives to build valuable value chains based on cluster strategies.
A transitional plan for agricultural pricing must be developed by the government, in which some agricultural pricing should be supported by the government and some should be decided by the market.
One method to accomplish this would be to create a shortfall payment plan modelled after the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) of Madhya Pradesh.
3 – International Labor Organization (ILO):
GS II Topic International Relations
During the COVID-19 epidemic, temporary employment, work-sharing agreements, and other means of job retention helped to reduce the quantity of work and maintain jobs, according to a report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) that was made public on Friday. According to the study Working Time and Work-Life Balance Around the World, flexible working hours helped individuals as well as firms, enterprises, and industries to collectively reduce the number of hours worked. This trend was already established before the crisis. Due to the economic crisis, rising businesses that were encountering economic bottlenecks, such the pharmaceutical or healthcare sectors, were able to extend their hours of operation.
The International Labour Organization has been the only triangular United Nations organisation since 1919. (ILO). It brings together governments, corporations, and workers from the 187 member States in order to establish labour standards, make rules, and develop initiatives supporting decent work for all women and men.
The Ninth Edition of the ILO Monitor on the World of Work Report was released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in May 2022. The number of hours worked globally decreased to 3.8% below the employment level before the Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2022, according to this data, after seeing strong growth during the fourth quarter of 2021.
What is the Organization’s History?
It was established in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles as a subsidiary organisation of the League of Nations.
became the first affiliated special agency of the United Nations in 1946.
Operational hub: Geneva, Switzerland
The organization’s founding objective is that social fairness is essential for long-term world peace.
promotes the employment of internationally regarded labour and human rights.
A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.
What is the organisational structure of the ILO?
The ILO’s work is done by its three main groups, which are made up of representatives from governments, employers, and workers:
Conference on International Labor: It establishes global policy for the ILO and worldwide labour standards. It holds annual meetings in Geneva. The phrase “international labour parliament” is commonly used to describe it.
There may also be discussions on important social and labour issues.
The governing body is the ILO executive council. Three times a year, it meets in Geneva.
Utilizing ILO policy decisions, it constructs the programme and the budget before presenting them to the Conference for approval.
The work of the Governing Body and the Office is supported by tripartite committees that cover the major industries.
Expert committees on topics like management development, worker education, industrial relations, safety and health at work, as well as particular problems impacting women and young workers, are also a support to the organisation.
4 – Green Bonds:
GS II Topic Government Policies and Interventions
The RBI announced on January 6, 2023 that the first Sovereign Green Bonds (SGrBs) will be issued in two tranches of 8,000 crore each on January 25 and February 9.
The money will be used, according to a statement from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for public sector initiatives that reduce the economy’s carbon intensity.
An example of a “green” project is one that uses renewable energy, ecologically friendly transportation, sustainable water management, etc. A green bond is a sort of debt instrument that is used to raise money for such projects.
Fixed income securities known as bonds represent loans made by investors to borrowers (typically corporate or governmental).
In the past, bonds provided investors with a fixed interest rate (coupon).
Growth: Green bonds were first proposed in 2007 by a small group of development organisations, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. After that, corporates started taking part in 2013, which aided in the growth’s overall expansion.
Regulation: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has developed disclosure criteria for the issuance and listing of green bonds.
Since they show an issuer’s commitment to sustainable development, green bonds enhance an issuer’s reputation.
Capacity of parties to fulfil their commitments under climate agreements and other green undertakings.
The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document outlines India’s stated objectives for its contribution to enhancing the environment and advancing on a low-carbon path.
Raised for Cheaper: Green bonds frequently have lower interest rates than conventional bank loans.
As more foreign investors focus on green initiatives, the cost of acquiring capital could decrease.
Sectors of Sunrise: These green bonds have greatly contributed to India’s sustainable economic growth by increasing capital for emerging businesses like renewable energy.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
The Crisis In International Law:
A judge of the International Court of Justice, Professor Hilary Charlesworth, called international law “a discipline of crises.” Since then, not much has changed. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year once again called attention to the “crisis” aspect of international law, just when the world was starting to get past the suffering caused by COVID-19.
About international law:
The majority of nations concur that the corpus of law known as international law is enforceable among them. For countries, it creates normative norms and a shared conceptual framework in a number of areas, including conflict, diplomacy, economic ties, and human rights.
The adoption of the United Nations Charter, which specifically forbade war, served as one of the fundamental pillars of the post-World War II international legal system.
The UN Charter serves as the intergovernmental organization’s guiding document. The six primary UN system bodies are the Secretariat, General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, and Trusteeship Council. At this point, the goals, guiding ideals, and general structure of the organisation are also specified.
According to the UN Charter, member nations and the organisation are required to uphold international law, maintain global peace and security, improve living conditions for people, address “economic, social, and health issues,” and advance “universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
Its provisions apply to all members and take precedence over those of other agreements because it is a charter and constituent treaty.
The U.N. Charter has been successful in preventing future global conflicts, but it has failed to do so with regard to intrastate conflicts. The limitations of international law will be tested this year due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as a number of other causes that will emerge during 2019 and beyond.
The geoeconomic difficulty:
Following World War II, a “capitalist” America and a “communist” Soviet Union competed for supremacy in a divided world. The Soviet Union’s collapse and the demise of communism were both caused by the conclusion of the Cold War. According to C. Raja Mohan, this “unipolar” period boosted multilateralism and ushered in a three-decade-long period of “relative concord” among the main powers.
While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombarded Kosovo, Western forces attacked Iraq in flagrant defiance of the U.N. Charter. According to Ralph Wilde, these U.S.-led military operations did not elicit a substantial international response like the Russian invasion of Ukraine did.
During the “relative concord” era, universal human rights were more widely acknowledged, democracy was expanded, and independent international tribunals and multilateral organisations arbitrated disputes.
International law securitization:
However, the multipolar world we now live in and the securitization of international law have put these fundamental foundations in danger. The great powers are at odds with one another.
The emergence of “autocratic” China and “expansionist” Russia, as well as the decline of the “liberal” and “capitalist” West, have changed the contemporary landscape of international law.
Beijing is now asserting its influence as a result of China’s rapid expansion, including by utilising international law as a weapon. China sees the law as a tool at the disposal of the government. The rule of law doctrine, which contends that the goal of the law is to restrain unchecked governmental authority, which is pervasive in liberal democracies, is in contradiction to this.
The Westphalian understanding of international law, which was said to safeguard the territorial integrity of nations and the rule of law on a global scale, competes with Chinese and Russian interpretations, which hold that international law can be utilised to further national interests.
National sovereignty and territorial integrity aren’t especially important in Chinese and Russian beliefs.
For instance, the Russian interpretation of international law asserts that the diversity of cultures and civilisations, rather than universality, is the foundation of international law. The Russian interpretation of international law makes a distinction between states with true sovereignty and states with nominal or limited sovereignty, like Ukraine, in flagrant violation of the UN Charter. In 2023, this conflict between opposing theories of international law will get worse, compounding the current calamity.
There is no economic regulation worldwide:
The concomitant development in economic protectionism is a significant outcome of the establishment of the geoeconomic order. The United States is concerned about China’s rise due to its strong desire to maintain its status as the world’s preeminent power. The neoliberal consensus of interdependence and non-discrimination in international economic law was painstakingly constructed by Washington over the previous three decades, but it is now crumbling.
The United States has strenuously disagreed with recent World Trade Organization (WTO) panel reports that found the nation’s industrial protectionist policies, which were passed off as national security goals, to be illegal.
The U.S. has obstinately obstructed the nomination of the members of the Appellate Body, suffocating the WTO’s efficient dispute resolution process. In 2023, all of these issues will only get worse, severely destabilising the global economy.
The barrier of populism:
Even if populist and ethno-nationalist leaders like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have left power in nations like Hungary, Turkey, Poland, and Israel, populist and ethno-nationalist governments will still pose problems for international law in 2023.
Populists disdain international law and treat it as “foreign law,” which is detrimental to their country’s interests. Some people also doubt its legitimacy. In the populist view of the world, international law is sometimes reduced to a simple law of coordination. This law of coordination strives to maintain a restricted relationship between nations with comparable ideological foundations rather than encouraging international collaboration to build and advance universal principles.
Various perspectives on international law:
Researchers use a variety of terms to refer to the international law crisis. If imperialism is not handled, there will be a crisis in international law, according to B.S. Chimni.
On the other hand, the late James Crawford claimed that international legal crises happen because there is “no other constitutional system, other than the constitutional order of States.” One could contend that this elevates nationalism above international law.
Some people, including Jan Klabbers, claim that the current worldwide legal controversy is a crisis in liberal democracy.
Regardless of how it is described, the liberal international legal order is under attack from a number of angles. In 2023, how will the world react to the ongoing challenges that populism, protectionism, and securitization pose to the universal values that international law upholds?
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Electoral Bonds Scheme:
Recent SBI information provided in response to an RTI request was as follows:
The New Delhi branch of the State Bank of India redeemed 83% of the Rs 232.10 crore in electoral bonds that were sold during the window of sales in December 2022, with the Mumbai branch selling nearly half of them.
To cover the commission and printing costs of the Electoral Bonds (EBs) issued to finance political parties, the government has spent Rs 9.53 crore from taxpayer funds. An amount of Rs 1.90 crore, inclusive of GST, has been levied to the government thus far for printing of Electoral Bonds, as was previously disclosed in Reply to RTI by SBI.
Even two NGOs, Common Cause and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), previously filed a PIL in the SC contesting the scheme and accusing it of “distorting democracy.”
Elections that are free, fair, and transparent are essential to a healthy democracy. Numerous problems, such as the criminalization of politics, caste- and religion-based politics, and the secretive funding of political parties, interfere with the electoral process.
Accordance to Article 327 of the Indian Constitution.
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may from time to time by law make provisions regarding all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to either House of Parliament, to the House or to either House of the Legislature of a State, including the creation of electoral rolls, the delineation of constituencies, and all other matters necessary to ensure the proper constitution of such House or Houses.
Therefore, in 1951, Parliament created the Representation of People Act (RPA) to promote electoral transparency.
How do election bonds function?
The following statements were made by then-finance minister Arun Jaitley during his address on the 2017 Union Budget:
The country has not been able to create an open system for financing political parties, which is necessary for the system of free and fair elections, even 70 years after its creation.
Political parties still receive the majority of their funding in the form of cash from anonymous donations. Therefore, a campaign to purify the Indian political finance system must be launched.
An electoral bond scheme to “clean the country’s system of political fundraising” was included in the Union Budget for 2017–18.
In order to contain provisions introducing electoral bonds, the Finance Act of 2017 revised the Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934, the Representation of Peoples Act of 1951, the Income Tax Act of 1961, and the Companies Act.
Anyone can donate money to recognised political parties via an election bond, a bearer banking instrument. In multiples of 1,000, 10,000, one lakh, ten lakh, and one crore rupees, these bonds are being sold.
It can be obtained through authorised State Bank of India branches.
Therefore, a donor must pay the authorised SBI branch with a cheque or another type of electronic payment (cash is not permitted).
The donor may then donate this bond to one or more political parties of their choosing (if the bond is worth Rs. 1 lakh or more, only one party; otherwise, up to ten).
In order to cover their election-related expenses, political parties have the option to redeem such bonds within 15 days after receiving them (the bond’s maturity date).
Throughout the electoral bond process used to finance political parties, it is made sure that the donor’s name is kept a secret.
Which Political Parties Are Eligible to Receive Donations Through Electoral Bonds?
A political party that received at least 1% of the votes cast in the most recent general election for the House of the People (LS) or the Legislative Assembly and that has been registered in accordance with Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) is regarded as eligible.
The amount of money that a political party may accept from unidentified sources was reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000 as another measure to promote open political fundraising.
Among those who oppose the electoral bond programme are:
The electoral bonds programme is primarily criticised for having the exact opposite effect from what it was designed to have, namely promote election financial transparency.
The fact that these bonds are being sold by a bank that is owned by the government (SBI) enables the government to pinpoint the precise sources of funding for its enemies. Consequently, the government is then given the chance to either target big businesses as punishment for not backing the government or to exert influence over them.
Advantages for the governing party:
The one (ruling) party that receives the lion’s share of political funding is: The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information claims that more than 75% of all electoral bonds went to the BJP, which is in charge at the federal level.
Increases Political Funding’s Opacity: Since the bonds increase the anonymity of political donations, the general public is unable to ascertain who is contributing how much money to which political party.
Furthermore, even though more than 90% of the bonds have been of the highest denomination, one of the reasons for the creation of electoral bonds was to make it simple for the general population to support the political parties of their choice (Rs 1 crore).
It raises the possibility of misappropriation of corporate funds: Prior to the establishment of the electoral bonds system, a company could donate up to 7.5% of its average net profits over the previous three years to a political party. The government altered the Companies Act to eliminate this restriction, enabling corporate India to accept an unlimited amount of capital.
After the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was modified to allow political parties to take donations from foreign companies that own the majority of Indian companies, unrestricted foreign fundraising is now permissible. It could lead to foreign corporations influencing Indian policy.
Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Common Cause and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), have filed legal challenges to the assertion that the introduction of electoral bonds in India is “distorting democracy”:
What advantages come from funding elections?
Previously, the great majority of political donations were made in secret, and this law limits the amount of money political parties may raise through campaign donations. It opens the door to crony capitalism or the establishment of an unholy alliance between political parties and those who finance illicit activity.
because the major objective of the plan is to conceal the donor’s identity, it shields the donor from political prosecution. As a result, investigations are conducted to determine whether the provider of political party funds has been a victim, and the individual’s identity is kept a secret at all times.
As it necessitates payment by check or digital methods while correctly abiding by KYC laws, it is also a potent tactic for eliminating shady political fundraising. It also ensures that the beneficiary political party must disclose its receipt of the funding and provide an explanation of it within a predetermined time frame.
A way to proceed:
The government’s commitment to promote political funding openness is a positive step forward because it guards against donors facing retaliation for supporting a certain political party.
However, political parties must act with greater accountability and transparency by making public disclosures of the financial information they have received while maintaining the anonymity of the donors and submitting ITRs on time.
The commission and printing costs should also be covered in proportion to the quantity of Electoral Bonds (EBs) that the political parties receiving them received.
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