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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 15TH FEBRUARY 2020

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ISSUE: REMOVAL OF INDIA FROM USTR LIST OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES?

WHY IN NEWS?

The office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) has updated its list of developing and least-developed countries, removing India from the list of countries that are designated as developing.

What is the USTR list of developing and least-developed countries?

In the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), the US Congress had amended the CVD law in order to confirm US obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM). Under this SCM agreement, countries that had not yet reached the status of a developed country were entitled to special treatment for purposes of countervailing measures. This meant that imports from the member countries included in the list by USTR were subject to different thresholds for determining if countervailing subsidies are “de minimis” (too trivial or minor to merit consideration) and whether import volumes are negligible.

What changes for India?

In 1998, the USTR published an interim final rule (1998 rule), which designated Subsidy Agreement countries eligible for special de minimis countervailable subsidy and negligible import volume standards under the CVD law. This essentially means the lists USTR had prepared as per the 1998 rule helped it to determine if they were eligible for preferential treatment against CVD investigations or not.

Now, the USTR has revised the lists in the 1998 rule and removed the rule itself terming it “obsolete”. Further, for the purposes of the de minimis threshold, there will be no distinction between developing and least-developed countries, since both such countries will be subject to the same threshold.

Until February 10, 2020, India was on the USTR’s list of developing countries, making it eligible for preferential treatment against CVD investigations and de minimis thresholds. It will no longer get this benefit.

ISSUE: RECENT STEP BY SUPREME COURT FOR DE -CRIMINIALIZATION OF POLITICS

WHAT SUPREME COURT HAS SAID?

Supreme Court using its power under Article 142  make it mandatory for parties to publicise the number of serious cases which their candidates face, but also to justify their choice over other hopefuls who may be legally unencumbered. Further, the court has dictated that “winnability” cannot be the sole criterion for selection.

Editorial highlights that by doing this Supreme Court has infringed upon other democratic institutions.

In trying to contain the growing presence in legislatures of members accused of serious crimes, it is in danger of overstepping limits and boundaries that it has, by and large, respected. Undoubtedly, criminality in politics exists, and that it flourishes so many decades after Independence is certainly a disgrace. In 2004, about one in four members of Parliament had criminal cases against them, but between 2009 and 2014, the frequency grew to about one in three, and in 2019, it was much closer to one in two.

The Supreme Court does well to reiterate its concern about this development, but it could have drawn the line there, limiting itself to exerting moral force on political parties, which are clearly in error.

Even more problematic is the requirement to justify the choice of candidates. An election is an issue to be decided between parties, candidates and the voters. The courts should have no say in the matter, except in particular cases where the Representation of the People Act is violated. Besides, the suitability of candidates is a subjective matter, and the justification required by the Supreme Court can only be an opinion, and not an objective fact, making the court’s order effectively unenforceable. Perhaps the SC has ventured too far beyond its remit, and while its goal is obviously in the public interest, it could ponder the means further.

 

ISSUE: RISHI SUNAK

WHY IN NEWS?

On Thursday, Sajid Javid unexpectedly quit as UK’s finance minister amid a reshuffle of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet and became the shortest-serving chancellor of the exchequer since 1970. Javid has been replaced by Indian-origin finance minister, Rishi Sunak ahead of the Budget next month.

Who is Rishi Sunak?

Sunak previously worked as a top-level executive at the investment bank Goldman Sachs, a hedge fund and then went on to found an investment firm managing multi-million-pound ventures. He went to school at the exclusive private school at Winchester College and has degrees from Oxford and Stanford University. In 2015, he was elected to the British Parliament from the Richmond (Yorkshire) constituency and was re-elected in 2017.

Among the Conservatives, Sunak is considered to be one of the rising stars and has been endorsed by Conservative Party leader Lord William Hague of Richmond who has said the following, “Rishi has proved to be a diligent constituency MP and it was no surprise to see him re-elected with an increased majority in 2017. He is an exceptional individual and I believe he will continue to be a strong and effective advocate for our community”

Sunak has also called for closer ties with India and other Commonwealth countries. Sunak lives in Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton. In July, Sunak was one of the three Indian-origin ministers in Johnson’s cabinet, when he was appointed as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury then.

Born in the UK to a general practitioner father and pharmacist mother, Sunak made news in India upon his marriage to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy and author Sudha Murthy.

 

 

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