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The Hindu Epaper Analysis 16 February 2024 for UPSC
SC strikes down electoral bonds scheme, calls it unconstitutional: Page I
- Supreme Court declares electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional and manifestly arbitrary
- Scheme provides blanket anonymity to political donors
- Amendments to Representation of the People Act, Companies Act, and Income Tax Act violated voters’ right to information about political funding
- Scheme promotes corruption and allows unrestrained influence of corporates in electoral process
- Contributions made by companies are purely business transactions aimed at securing benefits
- Scheme promotes economic inequality by giving corporations unsurpassable advantage in electoral process
- Fundamentals of free and fair elections and political equality violated
- Court dismisses government’s argument that anonymity incentivises financial contributions through banking channels
- Chief Justice distinguishes between donations by corporates for favours and contributions by individuals as support for political beliefs
- Court rejects government’s claim that scheme was meant to curb black money in electoral process
- Amendments introduced via Finance Act 2017 removed restrictions on political funding disclosure
- Amendments allowed complete exemption for political parties to publish contributions received through electoral bonds
- Restrictions on corporate donations lifted, allowing unlimited and anonymous contributions
- Government companies allowed to make contributions, and distinction between profit-making and loss-making companies removed
Modi invites Qatar’s ruler to visit India: Page 1
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi invites Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to visit India
- Invitation extended during their interaction in Qatar
- Modi expresses gratitude for release of eight Indian Navy veterans accused in espionage case
- Visit aimed at strengthening India-Qatar friendship and cooperation in trade, investment, technology, and culture
- Modi thanks Qatar for hospitality
- Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra expresses India’s gratitude for release of individuals
- Seven of the eight individuals flown back home earlier in the week
- Modi’s visit to Qatar follows his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates
- Modi meets Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jasim Al-Thani in Qatar
- Despite tensions over Navy veterans’ case, India and Qatar seal $78-billion deal on supply of liquefied natural gas to India
- Qatar is an important energy supplier to India
‘India has rejected demand for data exclusivity in drug development in FTA talks’: Page 1
- India rejects demand for ‘data exclusivity’ in ongoing discussions with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) for a free trade agreement
- Data exclusivity clause entails a minimum six-year embargo on clinical trial data for drug development
- Manufacturers would need to generate their own data or wait before selling copycat products in India
- India’s generic drug industry could be affected as it provides affordable versions of expensive drugs globally
- Demands for data exclusivity have been made by the European Union and EFTA since 2008
- India consistently rejects these demands
- Leaked draft of Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) suggested inclusion of data exclusivity clause
- India stands with its generic drug industry and rejects the demand
- Ministry’s stance welcomed by Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) South Asia
- MSF expresses concern over potential harm from accepting data exclusivity provisions
INSAT-3DS mission to be launched from Sriharikota tomorrow: Page 6
- GSLV-F14 carrying INSAT-3DS scheduled for launch from Sriharikota at 5.35 p.m. on Saturday
- Earlier scheduled launch time was 5.30 p.m.
- GSLV-F14 is 16th flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and 10th flight with indigenous cryo stage
- Seventh operational flight of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic stage
- INSAT-3DS satellite to be placed in geosynchronous transfer orbit
- Mission designed for enhanced meteorological observations, monitoring land and ocean surfaces for weather forecasting and disaster warning
- Primary objectives include monitoring Earth’s surface, oceanic observations, providing vertical profile of meteorological parameters, and satellite aided search and rescue services
Unbonded: Page 10
- Supreme Court’s verdict on electoral bonds recognized the threat to democracy and transparency in political funding
- Found entire Electoral Bond Scheme unconstitutional, violating voters’ right to information
- Also deemed amendment to Companies Act, removing cap on company donations without disclosure, as manifestly arbitrary
- Mandated disclosure of donation details since 2019
- Verdict aligns with previous judgments promoting voter rights and election integrity
- Court’s reasoning based on proportionality and connection between anonymous corporate donations and policy decisions
- Extends principle of voters’ freedom of expression to include access to information on corporate donors
- Raises questions about validity of scheme and impact on policy decisions and campaign funding
- Calls for interim stay on scheme issuance to prevent potential misuse of funds
Strongman at the helm: Page 10
- Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto likely to win Indonesia’s presidential election with over 57% of votes.
- Expected to continue policies of predecessor Joko Widodo, including non-alignment and building new capital city.
- Early trends suggest support from younger voters, influenced by social media image makeover.
- Subianto’s political career transformed from rival to trusted aide and Defence Minister.
- Persistence of populist leadership reminiscent of Suharto era hindering Indonesia’s democratic progress.
- Subianto known for populist policies, support for Islamist extremists, and denigration of minorities.
- Criticism of nepotism, evident in appointment of Widodo’s son as running mate despite age threshold.
- Indonesia’s strategic importance and potential for economic progress at risk if succumbs to populist nativism led by authoritarian rulers.
An intervention that will help strengthen legal education: Page 10
- Parliamentary Standing Committee submits report on legal education with significant recommendations
- National law universities (NLUs) introduced in the 1990s to improve legal education
- Despite NLUs, many law schools in India lack excellence in legal research
- Committee suggests limiting Bar Council of India’s (BCI) role in regulating legal education
- Proposal to establish National Council for Legal Education and Research (NCLER) for regulating post-graduation level education
- Emphasis on promoting research in legal education to develop critical thinking among students
- Need for state funding and recruitment of top researchers to bolster research ecosystem in law schools
- Recommendations to globalize legal education through curriculum, exchange programs, and exposure to different legal systems
- Leadership in law faculties should inspire and support younger academicians
- Complete academic freedom and autonomy necessary to boost culture of legal research
- Stakeholders urged to collaborate for improving quality of legal education in India
What is behind Ladakh’s unrest?: Page 12
- Ladakhis demand full Statehood and inclusion in the Sixth Schedule for protection of land, culture, language, and environment.
- Resentment grew after Ladakh became a separate UT following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
- Initial support for UT status turned to caution and anger due to concerns about loss of identity, resources, and bureaucratic overreach.
- LAB and KDA led protests demanding constitutional safeguards, full-fledged legislature, separate Lok Sabha seats, and job reservations for locals.
- Concerns about demographic changes and environmental impact due to industrialization led to protests.
- LAB and KDA demand extension of Ladakh’s territorial control up to Gilgit-Baltistan and reservation of seats for the area.
- Lack of job opportunities and political representation fueled the unrest.
- Union Minister of State for Home Affairs scheduled to meet representatives from Ladakh on February 19 in New Delhi.
Why did Kosovo face delays in Schengen approval?: Page 12
- Kosovo faced delays in Schengen approval due to strong opposition from several EU members who do not recognize its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.
- The European Commission cleared Pristina’s preparedness for Schengen entry in 2018, focusing on tackling illegal migration and corruption.
- Admission to Schengen is not mandatory for EU members; however, 23 of the 27 EU states are part of the passport-free area.
- The Schengen area comprises 27 countries, including four non-EU members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway.
- Schengen faced strain during the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, migrant arrivals, and anti-immigrant politics.
- The EU attempted to balance asylum protection under the Dublin Regulation while maintaining Schengen’s integrity.
- Advantages of the EU’s border-free policy include freedom to travel with a single Schengen visa and symbolizing European integration.
Global meet urges India to augment pulses production to meet nutritional needs: Page 16
- Global Pulses Conference urges India to increase pulses production
- Ministers Arjun Munda and Piyush Goyal emphasize the need for improving pulses cultivation
- Conference jointly organized by NAFED and GPC
- Pulses production increased by 60% from 2014 to 2024
- Goyal highlights government’s measures to support pulses cultivation, including increasing MSP regularly
- MSP set at 50% over actual cost of production, leading to attractive returns for farmers
- Significant increases in MSP for various pulses compared to a decade ago
- India self-reliant in chickpeas, efforts ongoing to achieve self-sufficiency in other pulses by 2027
- Focus on increasing cultivation of tur and black gram
- GPC president mentions benefits of sharing best practices and technological advancements from other countries
New drug to treat chronic kidney disease gets approval: Page 16
- CDSCO approves Jardiance (empagliflozin) 10mg tablets for chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment
- Approved to reduce risk of sustained decline in patients with end-stage kidney disease, cardiovascular death, and hospitalization in adults with CKD at risk of progression
- Nephrologists and cardiologists can use Jardiance for CKD treatment in eligible patients
- Not recommended for CKD treatment in patients with polycystic kidney disease
- Boehringer Ingelheim (India) manufactures Jardiance
- Gagandeep Singh Bedi, managing director of Boehringer Ingelheim (India), expresses excitement about the approval and potential of empagliflozin
January trade deficit narrows to 9-month low of $17.5 billion: Page 17
- January trade deficit reduces to 9-month low of $17.5 billion
- Exports increase by 3.1%, reaching $36.92 billion, slightly lower than December’s figures
- Imports grow by 3% to $54.4 billion, 6.6% lower than the previous month
- Services exports estimated to rise by 17.5% to $32.8 billion
- Total exports in January amount to $69.72 billion, marking a 9.28% increase compared to the previous year
- Despite challenges such as the Red Sea crisis and weak demand in advanced nations, exports show resilience
- Ministry of Commerce and Industry takes measures to support exporters, including facilitating credit extension and addressing non-tariff barriers
- Efforts underway to identify new export markets and products with global demand
- Cumulative merchandise exports for the first 10 months of 2023-24 stand at $353.9 billion, down 4.9% from the same period last year
- Merchandise trade deficit during April-January 2023-24 declines by 9.66% compared to the previous year
- Positive growth in export sectors like iron ore, tobacco, meat, dairy, poultry products, and spices
- Decline in import sectors including fertilizers, project goods, and raw cotton
India, Nepal sign pact to link UPI, NPI for faster remittances: Page 17
- RBI and Nepal Rastra Bank sign Terms of Reference (ToR) for integrating fast payment systems
- Integration aims to link India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Nepal’s National Payments Interface (NPI)
- Goal is to facilitate faster and cheaper cross-border remittances between India and Nepal
- Collaboration expected to deepen financial connectivity and strengthen historical, cultural, and economic ties between the two countries
- Necessary systems will be implemented based on the exchanged ToR to establish the UPI-NPI linkage
- Formal introduction of the linkage and commencement of operations to follow shortly
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