News & Events
In this section, we are presenting our readers/aspirants compilation of selected editorials of national daily viz. The Hindu, The live mint,The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, PIB etc. This section caters the requirement of Civil Services Mains (GS + Essay) , PCS, HAS Mains (GS + Essay) & others essay writing competition
1.Captains for courses: Shared leadership is actually much more widespread than we tend to think
Smart organisations undertake leadership innovation when the going is good, instead of struggling with a messy succession only when driven to it by adversity. In the case of cricket, several countries have distributed the captaincy of different formats among different players. For England both Joe Root and Eoin Morgan have delivered well. Were India also to give charge of the white-ball game to Rohit Sharma while Virat Kohli helmed our Test aspirations, it would be a welcome experiment.
Split captaincy would indeed not be new to India. Kohli and MS Dhoni shared it in the past, and before them Dhoni and Anil Kumble. Yet, the great Kapil Dev suggested a few months ago that this is not “in our culture”. Such misremembering flows from the pervasive mythology of a singular centralised leadership. Facts of course speak otherwise. In Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma maintained impressive equilibrium of authority for five years, until transitioning to new titles this year. In Tamil Nadu an interesting experiment is underway, with new chief minister MK Stalin empowering new finance minister Palanivel Thiagarajan to do the state’s economic messaging. Leaders too ensnared in their personality cult can fail to note shifting ground. A classic example is Winston Churchill’s shock defeat in 1945, as voters ditched his wartime successes for a peacetime prime minister who would focus on jobs and housing.
Dara Khosrowshahi has not drowned in Travis Kalanick’s shoes at all. Sergey Brin and Larry Page recruited Eric Schmidt to run Google’s business after their first successes. Brokerage firms can pay higher salaries to star traders than CEOs. A techie might demand the same at a startup, where funders often give way to professionals as the business grows. The important thing is to be open to leadership experiments. As they say, race different horses for different courses.
2.Regulatory limbo: Digital markets are fast expanding. We need an umbrella law for platforms
One consequence of lockdowns imposed across the world to cope with Covid was the quickening pace of economic transactions shifting from physical to digital marketplaces. Eighteen months since the pandemic hit societies have irrevocably moved towards more engagements online. However, regulatory architecture hasn’t kept pace. It has large gaps when it comes to dealing with digital markets. This isn’t new. The regulatory architecture always lagged technological advances. But now we have reached a stage where the slow pace of regulatory retooling may have an adverse impact on the nature of digital markets.
Digital markets have a set of unique features that make the need for a new regulatory architecture essential. They offer hitherto unavailable economies of scale where following a high initial cost, incremental customers can be added at practically no cost. This makes for the so-called network effect: Increase in the number of participants concurrently enhances the value of a service. Also, the ability to accumulate huge amounts of data on users offers economies of scope inconceivable for a dominant firm in a traditional industry like steel or cement. To illustrate, Amazon started as an online bookstore less than three decades ago and is now among the world’s top five firms by sales.
If unique features of digital markets allow for a remarkable pace of growth, they also confer a set of advantages to first movers that can potentially choke competition. In this context, the danger comes from large digital platforms that start off as mere intermediaries but later also compete against businesses using their platform. There’s an inherent conflict of interest in simultaneously being player and referee. These platforms, or digital gatekeepers as they are referred to, have been the focus of standalone laws. It’s an area where India’s regulatory architecture is non-existent.
There’s one key piece of the architecture that’s in limbo. The Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2019 and referred to a joint committee of both Houses. After 66 sittings, a report still hasn’t come in. The inaction in regulatory space means that early-mover advantages accruing to some firms may weaken the competitive nature of the market. Ad hoc regulations covering platforms in standalone areas such as e-commerce may create new distortions. A sector-specific approach is a bad idea. What India needs is a comprehensive umbrella legislation to cover digital platforms. A delay could lead to irreversible distortions.
3.The structural shift in Indian agriculture is worrying
The increase in wages as a component of the income basket shows that farmers are not moving into a higher-paying, stable, productive economy but are becoming more reliant on informal labour to sustain their incomes
In an authoritative official study of the transformation in Indian agriculture, the National Statistical Organisation (NSO) has published a report — Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Holdings of Households in Rural India — based on a survey conducted in 2019. The headline numbers seem attractive. Farm incomes have risen by 57% between 2012-13 and 2018-19, at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3%. The share of agricultural families in debt has decreased from 51.9% to 50.2% in the same period.
But a closer look shows worrying trends. Adjusted with rural inflation, growth in incomes in this period is actually 16.5%, at a CAGR of 2.5%. More significantly, the basket of income sources has changed. In 2012-2013, wages contributed 32% of the income; in 2018-19, they contributed 40% of a farmer’s income. Cultivation contributed 48% of a farmer’s income then, it is now down to 38%. Farm incomes from animals contributed 12% of the income in 2012-13; this number is now up to 16%. And non-farm business incomes have dipped from 8% to 6%. This means that in real terms, income from cultivation has actually dipped by 8.9%. On farm loans too, while the share of families in debt has dipped, the average amount of outstanding loans has increased by 57%; in real terms, this increase is 16.5%.
To be sure, diversification of sources of income is inevitable as the economy changes. But the increase in wages as a component of the income basket, with a decrease in income from both cultivation and non-farm businesses, shows that farmers are not moving into a higher-paying, stable, productive economy but are becoming more reliant on informal labour to sustain their incomes. Indian agriculture needs a more planned structural transformation; the risk of millions with depleted incomes, in debt, reliant on informal seasonal jobs can have a destabilising impact.
4.Fast-track food labelling
SADLY, addressing the important issue of proper labelling on packaged food products — it has a direct bearing on the consumers’ health — in our country tends to be an indeterminately prolonged affair, plunging, meanwhile, lakhs of people into the financially and mentally straining rut of being disease-ridden. The authorities drag their feet on striking an acceptable balance between the protection of consumers’ right to precise information of ingredients and the powerfully rich manufacturers’ lobby. It is widely known that the intake of the addictive ultra-processed food items, being overly packed with harmful sugar, salt, sodium and fats, is linked to the proliferation of diabetes and heart ailments. That India worrisomely ranks at number two in such diseases and their prevalence is growing should have goaded the Food Safety Standards Authority of India to fast-track its decisions. But even eight years down the line, it is still debating whether the labelling should include a health warning along with the quantity of sugar, salt, sodium and fats (that consumers want) or just mention their amount (that producers want) on the packet. There is still a long way to a resolution, draft proposal and final issuance of norms, covering manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.
Particularly impacted by the inordinate delays in the enforcement of such guidelines are the estimated 1-3 per cent of the population dependent on information warnings of food allergens such as gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye, barley), milk, soybean, egg, nuts, seafood etc. The intake of even minuscule quantities of the allergen may be enough to trigger a flare-up and cause huge misery to the patients and their families. Food allergies cause nearly 30,000 emergency treatments and 100 to 200 deaths per year in India.
There is much to learn from some western countries that have imposed food labelling rules for over 15 years now. Equally impressive are the high awareness levels there, ensuring allergen-sensitive hospitality by hotels and restaurants. Another related field begging for our government’s consideration is the compensation doled out by Italy to celiac disease patients for their life-long medically prescribed dependence on expensive gluten-free diet..
5.BJP’s CM stratagems
The replacement of chief ministers is becoming par for the course in BJP-ruled states, underlining the unquestioned dominance of the party high command. – File photo
The replacement of chief ministers is becoming par for the course in BJP-ruled states, underlining the unquestioned dominance of the party high command. In Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat made way for Tirath Singh Rawat in March; four months later, Pushkar Singh Dhami took over from Tirath Singh. Karnataka saw veteran leader BS Yediyurappa being replaced by Basavaraj Bommai. Now, first-time MLA Bhupendra Patel has been sworn in as the Gujarat CM after his predecessor Vijay Rupani’s resignation. The change of guard has been effected in Uttarakhand and Gujarat primarily with an eye on the Assembly elections. The hill state goes to the polls early next year, while the latter’s turn will come in December 2022.
The BJP’s stakes in Gujarat are obviously very high, being the home state of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The party has handpicked a leader of the Patidar community, an influential vote bank which calls the shots in education, realty and cooperative sectors in the state. Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who was considered a front-runner for the top post, seems to have stoically accepted the party’s decision. Rupani, too, has managed to put a brave face on his unceremonious exit. However, the fact that the BJP is resorting to course correction in one state after another indicates rumblings of discontent and infighting. The top brass is in no mood to give a long rope to underperformers or non-performers, even as it’s apparent that some state governments are being remote-controlled by the central leadership.
The BJP’s drastic and desperate moves are driven by electoral considerations, but the top-heavy party has to ensure that all the chopping and changing do not impact governance and the respective state government’s stability. The revolving-door policy is a double-edged sword: it keeps the high command in the driver’s seat and at the same time enfeebles the state leadership. It’s up to the top brass to consider the larger picture — strengthening the party at the grassroots level by grooming prospective leaders — or to simply concentrate on winning one election after another at any cost. Particularly impacted by the inordinate delays in the enforcement of such guidelines are the estimated 1-3 per cent of the population dependent on information warnings of food allergens such as gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye, barley), milk, soybean, egg, nuts, seafood etc. The intake of even minuscule quantities of the allergen may be enough to trigger a flare-up and cause huge misery to the patients and their families. Food allergies cause nearly 30,000 emergency treatments and 100 to 200 deaths per year in India.
There is much to learn from some western countries that have imposed food labelling rules for over 15 years now. Equally impressive are the high awareness levels there, ensuring allergen-sensitive hospitality by hotels and restaurants. Another related field begging for our government’s consideration is the compensation doled out by Italy to celiac disease patients for their life-long medically prescribed dependence on expensive gluten-free diet.