News: India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council(UNSC) for a two-year term.
- The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations including the United Nations Security Council(UNSC).
- Other organs are UNGA, ECOSOC, Trusteeship Council, ICJ and UN secretariat.
- UNSC is composed of 15 Members:
- Five permanent members: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
- The only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
- Determines the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and recommends what action should be taken.
- Power to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression.
- Can suspend economic and diplomatic relations between countries, impose blockades and can authorize collective military action.
News: Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has proposed new guidelines for Housing Finance Companies(HFCs).
- What are Housing Finance Companies(HFC)? It means financing for purchase, construction or repair of residential dwelling units and some other activities including giving loans to corporates and government agencies for employee housing projects.
- All other loans including those given for furnishing dwelling units, loans given against mortgage of property or renovation of the existing dwelling unit will be treated as non-housing loans.
- Qualification for HFC’s: To qualify as a housing finance company, 50% of net assets should be to real estate lending of which at least 75% should be towards individual housing loans.
- Classification: RBI has classified housing finance companies(HFC) as systemically important and non-systemically important:
- Non-deposit taking HFCs with asset size of ₹500 crore and above and all deposit taking HFCs irrespective of asset size will be treated as systemically important HFCs.
- HFCs with asset size below ₹500 crore will be treated as non-systemically important HFCs.
- Minimum Net Owned Fund: RBI has proposed to double the minimum net owned fund(NOF) requirement for housing finance companies to Rs 20 crore.
- Lending: HFCs can either lend to the group company in real estate business or lend to retail individual homebuyers in the projects of group entities but not to both.
News: US President has authorised sanctions against International Criminal Court(ICC) officials involved in investigations into possible war crimes by US troops or those of its allies.
- International Criminal Court(ICC): It is a permanent judicial body created by the 1998 Rome Statute which entered into force on July 1,2002.
- Jurisdiction: It has thejurisdiction to prosecute individuals for a) international crimes of genocide b) crimes against humanity c) crime of aggression and d) war crimes.
- Members: 123 nations are States Parties to the Rome Statute and recognise the ICC’s authority.The notable exceptions being the US, China, Russia and India.
- Headquarter: The Hague, Netherlands
- Funding: The court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties.It also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, corporations and other entities.
News: World Investment Report:-
Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released the World Investment Report 2020.
- The World Investment Report focuses on trends in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worldwide, at the regional and country levels and emerging measures to improve its contribution to development.
- Global Scenario:
- According to the report, global FDI flows are forecast to decrease by up to 40% in 2020, from their 2019 value of $1.54 trillion.
- This would bring global FDI below $1 trillion for the first time since 2005. The FDI is projected to decrease by a further 5% to 10% in 2021.
- Developing economies are expected to see the biggest fall in FDI because they rely more on investment in Global Value Chain (GVC) based industries, which have been severely hit due to Covid-19 pandemic.
- They have also not been able to put in place the same economic support measures as developed economies.
- However, the investment flows are expected to slowly recover by the start of 2022.
- Global FDI flows rose modestly in 2019, following the sizable declines registered in 2017 and 2018.
- The rise in FDI was due to the waning of impact of the 2017 tax reforms in the United States.
- India’s Investment Scenario:
- India jumped from 12th position in 2018 to 9th position in 2019 among the world’s largest FDI recipients.
- In 2019, the FDI inflows into India jumped over 20% to $51 billion.
- The report also observed that FDI into India may decline sharply in 2020 because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown measures, supply chain disruptions and economic slowdown.
- In India the number of greenfield investment announcements declined by 4% in the first quarter of financial year 2020-21. The Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) also contracted by 58%.
- A greenfield investment is a type of FDI in which a parent company creates a subsidiary in a different country, building its operations from the ground up.
- However, the report mentioned that India’s large market will continue to attract market-seeking investments to the country.
- India’s professional services and the digital economy could see a faster rebound as global venture capital firms and technology companies continue to show interest in India’s market through acquisitions.
- Investors concluded deals worth over $650 million in the first quarter of 2020, mostly in the digital sector.
- India jumped from 12th position in 2018 to 9th position in 2019 among the world’s largest FDI recipients.
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 to promote development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy.
- UNCTAD is a permanent intergovernmental body headquartered at Geneva in Switzerland.
- Some of the reports published by it are:
- Trade and Development Report
- World Investment Report
- The Least Developed Countries Report
- Information and Economy Report
- Technology and Innovation Report
- Commodities and Development Report
- The efforts need to be put to increase the investment and also countries need to deal with Covid-19 pandemic strategically.
- To deal with the current slowdown, India can provide its poor with direct cash, which will increase the demand in the economy. This will subsequently lead to increase in investment and production in the economy.
Multilateralism post COVID-19
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the desire for greater global cooperation amongst most states.
The COVID-19 outbreak has placed all international institutions under a magnifying glass. Most have not performed as per expectation.
Issues in current Model of Multilateralism:
- Belied the ability to update swiftly: This happened even when there was great power cooperation rather than great power rivalry like now. For example, Resolution 50/52 adopted unanimously by the UN to amend the Charter for deleting the ‘enemy State’ clauses from some articles has still not seen action even after 25 years.
- Underperformance of such institutions: Such as the General Assembly now passes resolutions through no objection procedure.
- Reverted to multilateralism 0.1: Though they require reforms and adapt to new realities, the pursuit of change by threatening to leave multilateral institutions is a phenomenon that was witnessed only during the period of the League of Nations which ultimately failed it.
There has been growing stress over the influence of China in such institutions.
Whether there is Over influence of China in such institutions?
- No over representation: China is not over representedin terms of staff positions as claimed by critics though China contributes nearly 10% of the UN’s budget.
- Peacekeeping: If the head count of senior staff from UN regular and peacekeeping budgets is taken together, the staff percentage falls dramatically, although China contributes 14% of the peacekeeping budget.
- Voluntary contributions by China: They usually encompass all contributions like bilateral and multilateral. But by other indices, many contribute much more.
- Better promoting its interests:China has warded off attacks against it in multilateral fora even with the aid of the heads of these organisations. But it is yet to display an ability to set the multilateral agenda and dominate the discourse on an array of issues like that of U.S.
Capture of the existing multilateral order by a new hegemon is antithetical to the ethos of multilateralism.
Changes Required in Multilateralism:
- Global Norm setting: Multilateral institutions must work towards norms which are inclusive rather than working for particular countries.
- Better multilateral architecture: They should place more importance to functions rather than on processes.
- Enhanced engagement: COVID-19 crisis has increased emphasis on sovereign decision of states. There will be a need for more cooperation between states in issues having global effects.
- Global acceptance of norms: There should not be coalitions for own benefits in such institutions. Their norms must be accepted by all.
India visualises the world as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and should neither permit capsizing of the order nor allow it to be captured by any superpower.
2.Dealing with China
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-India and its neighbourhood- relations
Context: Many Indian soldiers were killed in Galwan Valley’s violent face-off between India and China.
India’s own reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir has affected threat parameters for India. Beijing issued a statement calling it an attempt to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. These changes are part of wider strategic thinking of China.
Wider conflict of “five fingers of the Tibetan palm”
- According to the strategic thinking by China, Tibet was China’s right palm and it was its responsibility to “liberate” the five fingers defined as Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, or Arunachal Pradesh).
- China’s territorial claims: The government of India was worried over China’s claim of Indian territories even after signing the Panchsheel agreement in 1954
- Propaganda war against India: Launched by Chinese press and radio especially after the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. China began to demand “self-determination in Kashmir”. The Chinese government allowed refuge and training to Naga and Mizo dissidents.
India need to bring some changes in its policy to provide an effective counter to China’s five finger policy.
How should India manage China by changing its foreign policy?
- Push for building border infrastructure and governance:
- In the mid-1950s the government piloted a project to build the Indian Frontier Administrative Services (IFAS) for overseeing NEFA and other areas along the India-China frontier.
- A special desk was created in the MEA for officers who would tour all the regions from NEFA to Ladakh in order to make suggestions for the rapid development of these areas.
- Though India’s border infrastructure is now catching up with the infrastructure of China, its base was made during the brief period the IFAS existed before it was wound up in 1968.
- Revisiting the IFAS idea: Especially as areas along the frontier continue to complain of neglect and a lack of focus from the Centre.
- Outreach and treaties:
- India signed treaties with Nepal and Bhutan which built unique relationship with them. Over time, the treaties have outlived their utility.
- Renegotiation of treaties: China has been able to make inroads into Nepal but not with Bhutan as the government renegotiated its 1949 Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship of 1949 with the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty in 2007 dropping an article that had committed Bhutan “to beguided” by India on its external affairs policy. Same has not done with Kathmandu.
- The Tibet issue:
- Though India has sheltered the Dalai Lama and lakhs of his followers since 1959, there is a need to look intothe future of its relationship with the Tibetan refugee community in India as well as with its future leadership.
- Future of political leadership of Tibetan: After the current Dalai Lama which has the loyalty of Tibetans worldwide currently.
- China will try to force its own choice on the community given that it is home to so many Tibetans. India must chart a more prominent role in this discourse.
As India grapples with its next steps at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), it must cast a grand strategy to renew its compact with each of those areas today.
3.Maternal health crises in Pandemic
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.
Context – The lockdown period saw the state abdicating its responsibilities towards the welfare of pregnant women who were deprived of the basic maternal healthcare services.
- India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio– The Maternal Mortality Ratio is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers before, during, and after childbirth per country worldwide. It came down to 122 deaths per 1,00,000 live births from 167 per 1,00,000 births in 2011-13.
- Much effort and investment over many years have led to this decrease. The schemes and policies to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio:
- Janani Suraksha Yojana– It aims to reduce maternal mortality among pregnant women and infant mortality by encouraging women to deliver in an institutionalized set-up such as hospitals.
- The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)- Itprovides fixed-day assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care universally to all pregnant women on the ninth of every month.
- As India struggles to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the hard-won gains of the last 15 years can be erased with one stroke. The challenges associated with ensuring maternal health in the crises are:
- The Stigma and paranoia regarding the virus and its fallout upon pregnant women and infants – This has led to hospitals turning away pregnant women from their premises and thus depriving them of healthcare services they need.
For instance -There was the 20-year-old in Telangana with anaemia and high blood pressure, who died after being turned away by six hospitals.
- Complex guidelines of government– The government belatedly issued a set of guidelines a month after lockdown started which only compounded the confusion. Recent guidelines require Pregnant women to be tested and certified COVID-19-negative to enter a ‘general hospital’. It was not clear how this can happen once they are in labour, as the test results need a day’s turnaround at the very least.
- Overstretched and under-resourced healthcare system– Public healthcare is overloaded with COVID cases in cities which make such women to seek services in private sector, which makes maternal services expensive.
- Role of Private Sector – 80% doctors and 64% beds are in the private sector. The clinics have closed downand private hospitals have stepped back fearing infections, while larger hospitals have begun charging exorbitant amounts. The role of the private sector therefore needs to be scrutinised.
Way Forward – United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 is aimed at “Good health and well-being” for all which involves reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030. State, thus, need to fulfil its duty of protecting the vulnerable, in this case pregnant women, from any challenge in coming months by initiating public-private partnership in maternal healthcare.
4.Public- Private Partnership In Healthcare
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context – In handling the pandemic, there is a clear need to get the public and private sectors into a functioning partnership.
Current Status of Private Sector in tackling Pandemic
- Lack of policy – No clear policy guidelines to use private sector resources that could complement public sector efforts, and how the payments for their services made.
Reasons for their non-participation
- Employee reluctance – This is due to pay cuts, the fear of sealing, the future consequences to brand value of hospitals identified with the pandemic, the lack of established protocols and protective gear.
- Bureaucratic hurdles – Example in Telangana, administration instructed private sector hospitals to refer viral patients to government facilities
- Cost of treatment – The high cost of treatment (includes testing kits, hospitalisation and quarantine care) reduces demand of private healthcare. This also affects their business viability.
- Nationwide lockdown– This has lead to falling revenues and footfalls, accompanied by new expenses and risk.
Contribution of Private Sector:
- The private sector provides approximately 70% of the healthcare services in India.
- Private sector’s share in hospitals and hospital beds is estimated at 74% and 40%, respectively.
Reasons for public-private participation in tackling COVID –
- Removing stigma– Because of the labelling and stigmatisation of those diagnosed with COVID-19, the public are reluctant to come to hospital and may come late or die at home. The public needs to be ensured that hospitals will provide good quality care for COVID-19, at affordable cost and ensuring confidentiality.
- Burden on public healthcare system – Private enterprise owns almost three out of every four hospital beds in India, and almost eight out of 10 ventilators, but they are handling less that 10 per cent of those critically ill with virus, thus all burden falls on public health institutions. To ease the burden on fellow doctors and paramedics, they need to join the battle.
Steps to ensure for public-private participation in tackling COVID –
- Incentivise participation– All private hospitals which have the potential should take care of COVID-19. They should be given requisite incentives and subsidies to that end.
- Access to all patients– Every patient should be able to access medical care for COVID-19 from a private or public hospital and only patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 pneumonia should be admitted.
- Focussing on less -critical cases– ICU care should be prioritised for COVID-19 patients who have potentially reversible illness. Also city hospitals should pool their ICU resources for the care of COVID-19 pneumonia.
- Ensuring privacy– The confidentiality of the patient should be protected by adequate law.
- Affordability of services– The government should support the basic cost of COVID-19 care in private hospitals as well.
- Taking care of the warriors– The staff providing COVID-19 care, should receive adequate training and be provided appropriate PPE, and families of staff who die due to COVID-19 should receive appropriate compensation.
Way Forward –Since 1991, LPG reforms government has helped private sector to grow in India. Thus, in the times like coronavirus pandemic private sector needs to adopt policy of compassionate capitalism to serve the citizens and lend helping hand to government.
5.Ordinances introduced to bring changes in agriculture
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3-Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Context: The government announced Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 to facilitate trade in agricultural produce.
Aim: Providing for barrier-free trade of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state agricultural produce market laws.
Issues in introducing ordinances rather than bills: The Parliament is not in session, so the government used ordinance route.
- Pressure by PMO: For instant delivery of achieving outcomes as India could not change the positions of the depressed farmers.
- Lack of consultations: Bills would require to be placed in the public domain for comments and consultations would be held with farmers and states whose powers and revenues were being curtailed.
- Due to the unionisation of middlemen, politicians in the states have been reluctant to amend agriculture marketing laws which are exploitative and don’t allow farmers to receive a fair price.
The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 will pave the way for creating ‘One India, One Agriculture Market’. It will create an ecosystem where farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce.
The recent ordinances bring changes to agricultural laws which have far reaching consequences.
Effect of the ordinances on the Agriculture:
|· Increase Formalisation: The largest informal sector in the country will begin to get formalised and new business models will develop.||· Not Coaxing the states financially to correct market: An unregulated marketplace has been created where 15 crore farmers will be exposed to the exploitations of traders.|
|· A different class of aggregators will create the much-needed competition to the existing monopoly of local traders.||· Limited the powers and revenues of the state: States will lose vital revenue to even upgrade and repair rural infrastructure.|
|· No commission legally for the sale of produce: When farmers sell agricultural produce outside of APMC market.||· Ambiguity: The recent changes has not curtailed the powers of bureaucracy and leaves space for wrong interpretations as before.|
|· Less obstruction: The produce derived from contract farming operations will not be subject to any obstructionist laws.||· “The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020” cast a shadow on the legal recourse for the farmers because of tedious legal proceedings. They did not allow farmers to seek legal options.|
For a long time, the government’s efforts aren’t bearing fruit for farmers. There should be increased accountability for the policies made by the government to improve conditions of farmers.