Important Articles from The Indian Express September 15, 2020

The significance of reading newspaper for IAS Exam has increased tremendously in past few years. Out of the many newspapers available in the market for UPSC Preparation, Indian Express stands out with its enormous and effective coverage of crucial issues. Time and now, many coaching institutes or even students have tried to substitute newspaper reading with some local study material, but it all lands down on the fact that there is no real substitute for standard sources be it a book or a national newspaper like Indian Express.

What you will gain while reading the first-hand news in Indian Express can never be replaced or even enhanced by any sources. So, try to be focused and loyal to Indian Express. It has proved to a game changer for many toppers and the same can be achieved by you.

One more vital know how is to identify where to focus within special editions and how to utilise it in coherence with the IAS preparation. Here, we have provided a table with all the sections to focus on while going through special edition sections and also how it will help you enhance your notes.


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1) The Dog Whistle-

GS 2- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

The Delhi Police says that neither CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury nor Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, neither economist Jayanti Ghosh nor Delhi University professor Apoorvan and, or documentary film-maker Rahul Roy, are named as accused or co-conspirators in a supplementary charge sheet filed in connection with its probe into the February riots in Northeast Delhi.

CRUDE ATTEMPT AT VICTIMIZATION:

The Delhi Police is right — and wrong.

It is true that the two political leaders, two professors and one filmmaker have only been mentioned in disclosure statements, legally inadmissible in court, of three students, facing serious charges for their alleged role in the flaring (causing) of the violence.

But what is also true, and reprehensible(disgraceful), is the Delhi Police’s biasness.

This is part of a chargesheet filed in the case of the murder of an 18-year-old, a chargesheet that has glaring discrepancies (errors) still to be addressed.

So, what was the justification of including these names other than the police’s — and its political masters’ — crude attempt at victimising those who expressed their opposition to a discriminatory law by linking them to the violence.

The unvarnished(plain) message is this- all those who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which, for the first time, makes religion a criterion and excludes Muslims from the list of minorities that are promised fast-tracked citizenship, can be harassed by a police force with a political view.

Police that is now trampling(crushing) over vital distinctions in a democracy, and equating the protester with the rioter.

One that is acting — and being seen to act — as a force that will not stop at weaponising laws to criminalise the dissenter.

BEARING THE BRUNT:

The investigation of the Delhi Police into the violence in Northeast has started with a conclusion — that a conspiracy was afoot(going on) to defame(disrepute) and destabilise the elected government.

And that it included and involved those who were protesting at the time against Muslim exclusion and relegation in the CAA and proposed nation-wide NRC.

It matters little, in this narrative, what the facts are — the victims of the violence were those whom it seeks to cast in the role of perpetrators, the brunt(harm) was borne(suffered) by the Muslims.

It matters little, too, whether the police is eventually able to find the evidence — it won’t, against individuals with as impeccable(flawless) and distinguished credentials in public life as Yechury or Yadav.

But in the meantime, it can unleash the due process as punishment.

And send out a chilling signal, not just to Muslims, but to all those who speak for a more inclusive India, that they can speak freely, and criticise the government openly, at their own peril(risk).

CONCLUSION:

Delhi Police must remember that at stake is its endangered(risk of extinction) credibility as a professional force in a country where — and here is a distinction that will not and cannot be obliterated(destroyed) — there is rule of law, not merely rule by law.

Names of Opposition politicians, civil society members, in riot chargesheet criminalises protest, corrodes(harms reputation) democracy.

2) Road from Doha-

GS 2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

There was no shortage of irony when the Taliban and the Afghan delegation took their place at the table for the “intra-Afghan talks” in a palatial(luxurious) setting in Doha, Qatar on September 12.

It was a coincidence that the talks began a day after the 19th anniversary of 9/11, the day of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York that shook the world, and ended Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

TWO INCOMPATIBLES:

The US is now hurrying to end that war with a forced marriage between two incompatibles- a western-style presidential Islamic democracy backed by the international community, and medieval fundamentalist Islamist militants.

President Donald Trump wants to take home most American troops in Afghanistan just before the presidential elections.

After two decades, the Taliban see themselves as having won this war.

The Taliban delegation at the talks calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name of its 1996-2001 government.

It does not recognise the Afghan government, whose negotiators are referred to as the Islamic Republic delegation.

In any case, the Taliban delegation seems more government-like than the government’s, whose composition reflects the pulls and pressures on President Ashraf Ghani.

The government delegation has said it wants a ceasefire(peace) first, but the Taliban would hardly want to surrender their most powerful card at the get-go.

Just in the first week of September, Taliban fighters were busy making forays(attacks) into territory that is not under their control, for instance in the Panjshir province in the north.

With all these elements swirling in the mix, the uncertainties ahead are unfortunately easier to foresee(predict) than any outcome that can herald(signal) real peace.

INDIA’S DILEMMA:

India, which has a long relationship with Afghanistan and its people, has been an onlooker in the process.

The reason is that Pakistan, its ability to deliver the Taliban to the talks table, was more valuable to the US than anything India, with its suspicion of Taliban as a proxy of the Pakistan Army and ISI, could offer.

India has so far said it will not engage with the Taliban until they enter the political mainstream.

But with his virtual participation in the opening ceremony of the talks, and his remarks reiterating Delhi’s backing for an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led” settlement, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has sought to signal that India remains an important regional player.

But at the moment Delhi has little choice but to wait and watch, see how far the process goes, and how it might reshape the region.

CONCLUSION:

Uncertainties ahead are unfortunately easier to foresee(predict) than any outcome that can herald(signal) real peace in Afghanistan.

3) Diminishing Parliament-

GS 2- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

The decision to go without “Question Hour” during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, beginning September 14, has evoked(rose) serious concerns about the democratic functioning of the institution.

Question Hour is not only an opportunity for the members to raise questions, but it is a parliamentary device primarily meant for exercising legislative control over executive actions.

It is also a device to criticise government policies and programmes, ventilate(express) public grievances(complaints), expose the government’s lapses, extract promises from ministers, and thereby, ensure accountability and transparency in governance.

PAST PRECEDENT:

The annals(record) of history of parliamentary proceedings and functioning in India remind us of the strength and scope of Question Hour as an effective armour(weapon) to raise the concerns of the people.

A classic illustration of this role can be gleaned(obtained) from this exchange in the Lok Sabha in November 1957.

Ram Subhag Singh (Congress): “Whether LIC had purchased large blocks of shares from different companies owned by Mundhra?”

Deputy Minister of Finance: “Towards the end of June 1957, the corporation had invested Rs 1,26,86,100 in concerns in which Shri HD Mundhra is said to have an interest.”

Supplementary question by Feroze Gandhi (Congress): “May I know whether it is a fact that a few months ago shares were purchased at the higher price than the market of those very shares on that particular day.”

T T Krishnamachari (Union Minister for Finance): “I have been told that no such thing has happened.”

RELEVANCE:

These words soon came to haunt the minister himself and cost him his job in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet.

Dissatisfied with the minister’s reply, Feroze Gandhi initiated a half-an-hour discussion on the subject.

This single instance points out the poignant relevance of the half-an-hour discussion and the contributing character of Question Hour in the proceedings.

In the discussion, Feroze Gandhi unfolded the story of murky(involing corruption) deals involving LIC.

The government was forced to appoint a commission of enquiry headed by Justice M C Chagla.

Feroze Gandhi promptly offered to be a witness and was the first to testify.

Justice Chagla upheld Feroze Gandhi’s contentions and said that the finance minister should take moral responsibility for what had happened. Krishnamachari resigned.

This incident shows the strength and scope of the Question Hour.

The Narendra Modi government is in dire need to avoid these type of situations.

The time has come to grill this government on different issues such as its failure in handling the pandemic, the unprecedented decline in GDP and its impact on the economy, the New Education Policy, tensions at the border, rising unemployment, the miseries of migrant labour and so forth.

The government is duty bound to respond to these questions in Parliament.

By doing away with the Question Hour, the Modi government has opted for a face-saving measure.

BEFORE INDEPENDENCE:

The right to question the executive has been exercised by members of the House from the colonial period.

The first Legislative Council in British India under the Charter Act, 1853, showed some degree of independence by giving members the power to ask questions to the executive.

Later, the Indian Council Act of 1861 allowed members to elicit(gain) information by means of questions.

However, it was the Indian Council Act, 1892, which formulated the rules for asking questions including short notice questions.

The next stage of the development of procedures related to questions came up with the framing of rules under the Indian Council Act, 1909, which incorporated provisions for asking supplementary questions by members.

The Montague-Chelmsford reforms brought forth a significant change in 1919 by incorporating a rule that the first hour of every meeting was earmarked for questions.

Parliament has continued this tradition.

In 1921, there was another change. The question on which a member desired to have an oral answer, was distinguished by him with an asterisk(mark), a star. This marked the beginning of starred questions.

DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS:

These are democratic rights members of Parliament have enjoyed even under the colonial rule.

The sad part is that this right is being denied to the elected representatives of Independent India, by the present government.

This, however, is not an isolated action in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

For instance, the government passed important bills in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha before the formation of department-related standing committees.

Even the Constitution Amendment Bill on J&K was introduced without circulating copies to the members.

Several important bills were passed as Finance Bills to avoid scrutiny(examination) of the Rajya Sabha. Standing committees are an extension of Parliament.

Any person has the right to present his/her opinion to a Bill during the process of consideration.

CONCLUSION:

The government’s actions erode the constitutional mandate of parliamentary oversight over executive actions as envisaged under Article 75 (3) of the Indian Constitution.

Moreover, such actions prevent the members of Parliament from carrying out their constitutional obligations of questioning, debating, discussing and scrutinising government policies and actions.

It needs to be understood that these actions are a planned covert attempt by the government to diminish(reduce) the role of Parliament and turn itself into an “Executive Parliament”.

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