09 November 2020
- Prelims Quiz
- Comparison of Indian and American Constitution (Polity and Governance)
- Convergences and Divergences in INDO-US Ties (International Relations)
- Strategic Comfort with Maldives 09 Page 08
- No deaths due to Dengue (Science and Technology)
- Covid-19, climate and carbon neutrality 09 (Environment)
UPSC Current Affairs: Joe Biden pledges to Unite|Page 1
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper II – Constitution
Sub Theme: Comparison of Constitutions| UPSC
There are certain similarities as well as differences between American Federalism and Indian Federalism-
Both United States and India which are considered as the largest democratic countries in the world are based on federalism in their political structure. The US gained the status of Federal Republic State in the year1789; whereas India occupied the status of Socialist, Sovereign, Secular, and the Democratic Republic by enacting its Constitution in the year 1950. Thereby both countries had attained dominion status in which several smaller states got associated with a strong central government which is known as Federal Government in the US and Central Government in India. Thus, both states became Federal Republics.
During framing of the Constitution, the drafting committee headed by Dr.Ambedkar, borrowed many features from Constitutions of other countries including US which was adopted in the Indian context. Hence, both U.S and India, even though federal in character have certain similarities as well as differences between them.
Similarities between the federalism of US and India
The Constitution of both US and India is a written Constitution, which provides for a federal political structure where both the governments exercise their respective powers. The Constitutions of both the countries provide for amending the Constitution to meet the changing circumstances and the growing political, economic, social needs and demands political and economic needs and demands of their respective countries.
Bill of Rights and Fundamental Rights
The US Constitution has given its citizens fundamental rights such as the right to equality, freedom, right against exploitation, freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property, and the right to Constitutional remedies etc. by means of ‘The Bill of Rights’, Part III of the Indian Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of the people as given in Articles 14 to 34.
Supremacy of the Federal or Union Government
In both the countries, the federal government works at the centre in which various states have acceded to. In the US, there are 50 states who have associated them to the federal government and in the Indian Union, as many as 29 states and 8 Union territories have accepted this form of government. Both in US and India, states which have accepted the Federal set up have no individual power to separate from the Central Government or the Union Government. While both the Central as well as State Government is empowered to makes laws on subjects given in the concurrent list, the law enacted by the Federal or Union Government will prevail over the law enacted by the states on the same subject in case of dispute. Thus, Federal or Union Government is supreme in the present federal structure.
Separation of powers
Both US and Indian Constitutions provides for separation of powers among three institutions namely executive, legislature and judiciary. Each division is empowered with a separate power. The executive governs the country, the legislature makes laws, and the judiciary ensures justice. President of US is the chief executive head of US, whereas the Union cabinet headed by the Prime Minister is the real chief executive body in India. Both US and India have a bicameral legislature. The upper and the lower houses of US legislature are called as the House of Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, and the Indian Parliament has Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as its Lower and Upper house respectively.
Powers of Checks and Balances
Though there is a clear-cut separation of powers between executive, legislature and judiciary in both countries, still there can be overlapping of these powers. There are chances of abuse of power or arbitrariness. Thus, there is a need for a system of ‘checks and balances’ prevalent in both countries.
The President having chief executive power appoints the members of his ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ and he is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Army, Navy and the Air Force. He is empowered to appoint the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. He enters into treaties with other countries. However, his treaties must be approved by the House of Senate. Otherwise, the treaty will not come into force.
Similarly in India, it is the Prime Minister and his cabinet who exercise real power. They can be removed from power by a successful no-confidence motion passed by both houses of parliament. The policy decisions become laws only after obtaining the requisite majority of the parliament. However, the laws enacted by the parliament are subject to the judicial review of the Supreme Court of India.
Thus, the powers of checks and balances have been the efficient method both in the US and in India in protecting the democracy in both countries.
Differences between the federalism of US and India
There are certain differences that exist between the federalism of US and India. These differences have been created by the architects of the Indian Constitution. The US federalism is very strong and more rigid as envisaged in their Constitution by its leaders. It is more federal than unitary in character. Whereas, India is more unitary than federal and we can even say that it is a quasi-federal state.
UPSC Current Affairs:India and Biden Page| Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: India-USA|UPSC
context: While U.S. Democratic Party contender and former Vice-President Joseph Biden still needs to tie up some loose ends for an official seal to his victory, it is clear that New Delhi is now preparing to work with a new U.S. administration.
Although relations appear to be getting more transactional in the ‘America First’ and ‘India First’ era, the primary structural impediments to an India–US strategic partnership have eroded over the past two decades. Most notable is the removal of US sanctions on India after 2005 for its nuclear weapons program. The United States has become the second largest defence equipment provider to India by value after Russia and has supported India’s membership in major international organisations.
The trade relationship, which has grown from US$64 billion to US$88 billion over the past five years, underestimates the interconnectedness of the two economies. Nearly 2000 US-based multinational companies now operate in India, many conducting important research and development. US-based multinationals are major job creators in India. Indian investment in the United States has risen almost ten-fold over the past decade. For US tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon, India often represents their largest or fastest-growing user base.
Furthermore, in contrast to US relations with adversaries such as China and Russia or allies and neighbours such as Germany and Mexico, US ties with India have remained on an upward trajectory despite the transition from the Obama to the Trump administration. Cooperation on counterterrorism, maritime security in the Indian Ocean, infrastructure coordination, defence technology and energy has deepened. There are also hints of some convergence on future telecommunications technology.
Both countries have become more vocal in their support for freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea. They both have concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative and share similar views about the normative basis of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific as an underpinning for regional order. Given China’s continuing assertiveness and rising concerns about the arc of instability stretching from Pakistan to Yemen, the strategic logic of the relationship is being propelled forward.
However, the strategic elements of the relationship are not always on the same plane as bilateral relations. There are four big challenges that confront the relationship today. These topped the agenda during both Pompeo’s and Trump’s meeting with Modi.
The most important concerns differences over trade, many of which predate Trump’s election. Since his election, Trump has repeatedly called out India for its high tariffs and trade surplus. Changes to India’s data localisation norms and a draft e-commerce policy provoked a major response from Washington. The United States moved to suspend tariff-free exports from India under the Generalised System of Preferences scheme. India duly retaliated. While this tit-for-tat has only affected a small proportion of India–US trade, spiralling trade difficulties risk the future of the broader relationship. Efforts will be required to stem that tide.
The second challenge concerns Russia. Russia is the largest supplier of Indian military hardware despite considerable diversification. Russia provides India with critical spares and maintenance for existing platforms and certain technologies — such as nuclear-powered submarines — that others do not. New Delhi also sees the partnership with Moscow as critical for engagement with Central Asia and for balance in the Indo-Pacific, putting it at odds with Washington.
A recent deal to acquire Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system made India eligible for US sanctions intended to punish Russia. The US Congress has created room for a presidential waiver for India but it is by no means guaranteed. The longer-term issue of India–Russia military-technological relations will remain. It is compounded by the increasingly incompatible security implications of US and Russian military technologies operating in tandem.
The third challenge relates to renewed US hostility towards Iran following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The resumption of US sanctions on Iran has had consequences for oil prices, Indian energy companies and Indian investments — especially in the strategically important Iranian port of Chabahar. Oil market stabilisation, high secondary costs, Indian energy diversification, shifting political alignments and US carve-outs for India have already helped address most of these challenges.
Finally, cracks are likely to emerge in the US and Indian approaches to Afghanistan. Both New Delhi and Washington agree on the broad objective of a stable and democratic Afghan government in Kabul. Both have engaged in considerable state-building efforts there. But New Delhi remains concerned about possible concessions that Washington might make in an effort to finalise a peace agreement with Taliban negotiators.
None of these challenges have come to a head yet. The first two are fundamental in that they predate and are likely to survive Trump. On each set of issues, plausible solutions are within the realm of possibility. But amid a broader strategic convergence, both countries will have to navigate their differences if relations are to continue on a positive track.
UPSC Current Affairs: ‘Strategic comfort’ with the Maldives| Page06
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains: GS Paper-II– International Relations
Sub Theme: India-Maldives| UPSC
CONTEXT : Under Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih, bilateral cooperation, especially on the economic front, has become a ‘model’ that New Delhi can adopt to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ a sustained success.
Indian Assistance to Maldives
- Operation cactus - In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership under Operation Cactus.
- 2004 Tsunami - India had provided assistance to Maldives and had also supported it during the drinking water crisis in 2014
- COVID -19 - India rushed $250 million aid in quick time
- India has also rushed medical supplies to the Maldives, started a new cargo ferry.
Concerns in India – Maldives Relationship
Although India and Maldives enjoy a healthy relationship, there some areas of concern between the two nations.
Enhanced Chinese Presence:
- Maldives signed its first country-specific FTA with China in 2017 and thereby becoming China’s 2nd FTA in South Asia after Pakistan.
- It raised concerns that it will deepen the debt trap to China, wherein more than 70% of Maldives’ foreign debt is owed to China.
- There has growing trend of Chinese companies and individuals acquiring land in Maldives. The land grab is seen in excess of what East India Company had acquired during the colonial period in Maldives.
- This land grab has raised concern of Maldives being increasingly falling into an economic neo-colonial influence of China.
- The new government of President Solih has affirmed that Maldives will scrap the FTA with China and investigate the Chinese land grab in Maldives.
President Yameen Hangover:
- President Yameen had earlier declared an emergency in Maldives and halted the functioning of Maldives Parliament (Majlis) and arrested several opposition leaders. This was opposed by India and several other countries.
- Apart from this, President Yameen augmented relations with China without taking India into confidence. This led India-Maldives relations to decline.
- Although the New Government under president Solih has welcomed Indian support, The previous President Yameen and his party has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign against New Delhi’s massive developmental funding for creating physical, social and community infrastructure.
- There have been protests for early release of Mr. Yameen — sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a money laundering case, pending appeal.
- There is a growing presence of ISIS/Daesh in Maldives and has been seen with growing influence of Saudi philosophy of Wahhabis.
- Moreover, due to the continuous defeat of Daesh, these fighters have been returning to Maldives and pose a threat to security of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
UPSC Current Affairs: No deaths due to dengue |Page - 03
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General science |
Sub Theme: Health & Diseases | UPSC
UPSC Current Affairs: COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality |Page 09
UPSC Syllabus: | Mains – GS Paper III – Environment
Sub Theme: COVID and Climate| UPSC
CONTEXT - In this article former union minister and present Rajya sabha MP Jairam Ramesh , presents how Human health is interlinked to environmental health. Keeping in mind this fact he calls for India to make best use of Covid-19 economic disruptions as an opportunity to reset recalibrate and rethink its shift towards an environmentally conscious green economy.
Jairam Ramesh suggests that plenty evidence and scientific studies in recent times have suggest fact that Public health science and environmental science are two sides of the same coin.
As can be seen by studies that suggest-
- Air pollution exacerbates the impacts of COVID-19.
- Loss of biodiversity and ever-increasing human incursions into the natural world have contributed heavily to the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases
Thus he calls for a need to understand the three Es — evolution, ecology and the environment — as a key for identifying potential pandemics.
Climate change is a reality
A recent report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’ points to the need for making our future science and technology strategy anchored on the understanding of the impacts of climate change. To avoids situations such as what may be a solution at one point of time but becomes a problem at another point.
For example - HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, that were at one time seen as the panacea to fix the depletion of the ozone layer. The depletion of the ozone layer has been fixed more or less, but HFCs are a potent threat from a climate change perspective since their global warming potential is a thousand times that of carbon dioxide.
- In September 2018, the American State of California became the first to commit itself to carbon neutrality by 2045.
- In December 2019, European Union followed California’s example but with the year 2050 in mind.
- In September 2020, China stunned the world by declaring its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.
- And just a few weeks ago, Japan and South Korea joined the club by announcing their intention to do so by 2050, like the EU.
Carbon neutrality in simple terms refer to a situation when a country’s, carbon emissions are equal to absorptions in carbon sinks.
India has to begin thinking very seriously in this regard.
At present at the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, India has committed to having 40% of our electricity-generating capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030.
But attainment of carbon neutrality in India will have to be consciously engineered through massive scientific invention and technological innovation.
- Post-COVID-19 world presents an opportunity for us to switch gears and make a radical departure from the past to make economic growth ecologically sustainable. For much of the infrastructure i.e. 70% of the infrastructure required in India by the year 2050 is waiting to be established.
- GDP growth must, without doubt, revive and get back to a steady 7%-8% growth path. However, in this post-COVID-19 world, we should make efforts to ensure that the ‘G’ in GDP is not ‘Gross’ but ‘Green’.
India can and should show to the world how the measurement of economic growth can take place while taking into account both ecological pluses and minuses.