- In search of a global solution to the problem of untouchability and caste discrimination
- Over the barrel: How India reformed its petroleum sector
- Is globalism dead?
- Importance of Civil Society
- Dismantlement of the licence raj and state control
GS (M) Paper-2 Topics:
“Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.”
“Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.”
In search of a global solution to the problem of untouchability and caste discrimination
For years, the Government of India has opposed efforts to place the issue of caste discrimination on the agenda of the international community.
India’s 200 million Dalits – formerly known as ‘untouchables’ – continue to suffer appalling forms of discrimination.
In search of a global solution to the problem of untouchability and caste discrimination:
- When birth-based discrimination against these groups was sought to be taken to the United Nations Organisation Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia in 2001, in search of a global solution to the problem of untouchability and caste discrimination, there was huge opposition from upper caste forces.
- At that time, the non-Hindutva upper caste intellectuals, considered to be liberals, argued that taking the caste and untouchability issue to the UN is morally unethical and politically anti-national. The main opposition party, the Congress, also argued on similar lines.
- Since 1996 the Government of India has also argued that caste falls outside the scope of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
- However, the draft UN Principles and Guidelines make completely clear that caste discrimination is prohibited by international human rights treaties, to which India is a party, including ICERD.
World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia:
In 1997, the General Assembly decided to hold the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
- In 2001, the conference was held at Durban, South Africa.
- The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is acting as the preparatory committee for the World Conference.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention.
A third-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races.
- The convention was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965 and entered into force in 1969.
- Now, it has 88 signatories and 177 parties.
- The Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
- Controversially, the Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations.
- The Convention also includes an individual complaints mechanism, effectively making it enforceable against its parties. This has led to the development of a limited jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Convention.
GS (M) Paper-3 Topic: “Effects of liberalization on the economy”
Over the barrel: How India reformed its petroleum sector
Before 1991, there was growing recognition of the inefficiencies of a state- controlled, public sector dominated energy sector.
The bureaucrats’ dilemma was how to resolve the seemingly conflictual dynamics of the market and competitive forces on the one hand and political concerns on the other.
Reforms in petroleum sector since 1991:
- Upto 1989, most politicians and bureaucrats had espoused the Nehruvian view that energy was part of the commanding heights of the economy and that its custodianship should be entrusted only to the 100 per cent state-owned enterprises. They had a vested interest in the status quo.
- Post 1989, and following the economic reforms of 1991, the petroleum ministry mandarins acknowledged that the time had come to reorder the petroleum sector.
- The inefficiencies of the existing system had by then become evident. Production of oil/gas and coal was on a downward trend; the public distribution system for subsidised kerosene and LPG had become a sieve for black marketing and the administered price differential between naphtha, petrol, diesel and kerosene had created incentives for distributors and dealers to adulterate transportation fuels.
- The government set up the “R” (reforms) group in 1995 under the chairmanship of the then petroleum secretary Vijay Kelkar to recommend measures for creating a world-class petroleum industry.
Key recommendations of the “R” (reforms) group:
- The committee proposed a phased “soft landing”. In the first phase they recommended the liberalisation of those segments of the petroleum value chain that did not interface with the public. Thus, they suggested that refining be opened up to private investment and that the price of intermediate products like naphtha, aviation fuel and bitumen be determined by the market.
- They suggested that the politically sensitive segments like the marketing of petrol and diesel and the pricing of kerosene and LPG be deregulated in incremental steps over four years.
- Their generic recommendation was that the petroleum sector should be fully unshackled from administrative oversight over this period.
The cabinet approved these proposals in 1998 and a gazette notification pronounced that the sector would be deemed fully deregulated on April 1, 2002.
After 2002 notification:
- The government knew that the current system and structure was generating huge avoidable costs. But they could not convert their intent into action because of vested interests and lack of political will.
- The first casualty was disinvestment. The labour unions were opposed to this idea and they successfully lobbied to stall the sale of IBP and HPCL.
- The next casualty was free market pricing. Politicians, nervous about asking the consumer to bear the burden of rising international oil prices, persuaded the government to reimpose administrative pricing and the companies to bear the consequential subsidy burden. All petroleum companies had, by then, got listed on the stock exchange.
Interestingly, the government did not revoke the gazette notification. And so from April 1, 2002 to recently, the industry operated in the netherworld of de jure free market but de facto administrative control.[Ref: Indian Express]
GS (M) Paper-1 Topic: “Effects of Globalization”
Is globalism dead?
In some of the major advanced economies, current trend seems to suggest the alarming possibility of the death of globalism.
What is globalism?
- Globalism is the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.
The concept of globalism now is most commonly used to refer to different ideologies of globalization.
Globalism vs Nationalism:
What is the current inherent threat?
- In some of the major advanced economies, globalism seems to be dead or buried at the hands of a resurgent provincialism, parochialism, and even xenophobia.
- For example, the rise of Trump and former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, as well as the recent decision by British voters to exit the European Union, seem to suggest the alarming possibility.
Who support them and why?
- Many, although not all, of Trump’s and Sanders’ most ardent supporters, and the most fervent Brexiteers, comprise white, blue-collar workers, mostly men, who have seen their wages and employment opportunities stagnate, or worsen, in the past quarter-century or more: exactly the period we associate with the rise of globalization.
- These individuals are not wrong to believe that increasing integration into the global economy, through reduced trade barriers, outsourcing and the rest, bear some responsibility for their current plight.
The current trend, which involves turning inward and retreating from the global economy, would do more harm than good.[Ref: LiveMint]
Importance of Civil Society
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:
“The presence of a strong and freely operating civil society is the hallmark of successful and stable democracies.”
“Civil society always acts as a counterweight against the state in a democracy.”
Larry Diamond, a leading contemporary scholar on democracy:
“A healthy democracy requires a vibrant civil society as it plays a crucial role in monitoring and restraining the exercise of power by the state and in holding it accountable.”
Dismantlement of the licence raj and state control
To herald the dismantlement of the licence raj and state dirigisme, in 1991, the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh invoked Victor Hugo:
“no power on earth can hold back an idea whose time has come”