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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

25 Dec, 2020

69 Min Read

BREXIT Trade Deal

GS-II : International Relations Britain

BREXIT Trade Deal

Context: Brexit is a highly important topic in UPSC Mains Examination 2021. It is also important for UPSC Interview 2020.

What is the European Union?

  • The EU is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries. It allows free trade, which means goods can move between member countries without any checks or extra charges.
  • The EU also allows free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose.
  • Headquarter of European Union is in Brussels, Belgium.
  • The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community) and it will be the first member state to withdraw.

Chronology of Events

  • Margaret Thatcher was one of the first leaders to propose Brexit.
  • David Cameroon said we won’t follow migration law, human rights law and minimum shelter. European Union rejected the idea.
  • Art 50 said within 2 years, UK can withdraw from EU. UK took referendum in 2016 and won by 52%. David Cameroon lost and then resigned.
  • UK Parliament was divided on the methods of exit and issues like Market access, compensation, formula of trade. Eventually, Theresa May got defeated in Parliament in 2019.
  • Then Boris Johnson took over in July 2019 and he promised Brexit as Do or Die by 31 Oct 2019 in favor of UK otherwise UK will exit without any deal.
  • Leaving European Union without any deal promises would be a chaos for both UK and European Union especially regarding Citizenship, Trade, Migration, Illegal detention etc.
  • Boris Johnson won in Britain in the 650 member House of Commons. He turned the poll into a de-facto Brexit referrendum that only a stable conservative government could take the UK out of EU quickly. He promised radical expansion of the State, with plans to tax the rich, increase public spending and nationalize utilities etc.

What caused Brexit to happen?

  • Immigrants: Faced with rising immigration locals worried about their jobs and the erosion of the English way of life wanted their government to clamp down on immigration. This was a revolt against unrestricted immigration from poorer Eastern European states, Syrian refugees residing in the EU and millions of Turks about to join the EU.
  • Elites: Faced with decades of economic malaise, stagnant real wages and economic destitution in former industrial heartlands ever since the rise of “Thaterchism” and the embrace of Neoliberal policies by Tony Blair’s New Labour the non-Londoners have decided to revolt against the elite. This isn’t just about being against the EU as it stands, and its free market and free movement of peoples.
  • Bureaucracy: Faced with Brussel’s asphyxiating amount of red tape the English people decide to “take back control” of their country’s bureaucracy.

What is the news?

  • Britain has officially left the European Union (EU) and has become the first country to leave the 28-member bloc.
  • The UK stopped being a member of the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020.

What happens after Brexit day?

  • After the UK formally leaves the EU, there is still a lot to talk about and months of negotiation will follow.
  • While the UK has agreed the terms of its EU departure, both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.
  • During the 11-month transition period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.
  • UK will leave the single market and customs union at the end of the transition. A free trade agreement allow goods to move around the EU without checks or extra charges.
  • If a new agreement cannot be agreed in time, then the UK faces the prospect of having to trade with no deal in place. That would mean tariffs (taxes) on UK goods travelling to the EU and other trade barriers.
  • Aside from trade, many other aspects of the future UK-EU relationship will also need to be decided. For example:
  1. Law enforcement, data sharing and security.
  2. Aviation standards and safety.
  3. Access to fishing waters.
  4. Supplies of electricity and gas.
  5. Licensing and regulation of medicines.

What is the Brexit deal?

  • The transition period and other aspects of the UK’s departure were agreed in a separate deal called the withdrawal agreement.
  • Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK - EU decided on a transition period until the end of 2020, during which UK will participate in EU's Customs Union and in the Single Market and to apply EU law, even it is no longer a Member State.
  • Whole UK will leave the EU. But Northern Ireland will stay in EU’s single market for goods.
  • Northern Ireland would be governed by EU regulation even as it legally remains within UK.
  • UK can impose tariffs on goods entering Northern Ireland from 3rd countries as long as they are not at risk of entering the EU market. If they are at risk of entering EU market, EU tariffs will be applied.
  • There will be customs border between Great Britain and island of Ireland.
  • 1998 Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement separated Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland and Ireland and UK.
  • UK will pay a 39 billion pounds ‘divorce Bill’.
  • Right of UK people living in EU and EU people living in UK to be guaranteed.
  • Most of that was negotiated by Theresa May’s government. But after Mr Johnson replaced her in July 2019, he removed the most controversial part – the backstop.
  • The backstop was designed to ensure there would be no border posts or barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit. If needed, it would have kept the UK in a close trading relationship with the EU.

Analysis of Brexit

  • By leaving EU, UK automatically, mechanically, legally, leaves hundreds of international agreements of EU.
  • After the announcement, the pound slid 1.1% against the $ relative to the gains after election results, reviving market anxiety.
  • Eliminating the threat of leaving without an agreement, the party argued, would diminish the government's negotiating position vis-a-vis the EU.
  • The provision risks sidestepping normal democratic channels for industries and trade unions to influence the shape of their future trading relations with the EU, worth 90 billion pounds.
  • Guarantees on labour rights previously included in the withdrawal bill have been removed. This amplifies sceptics' fears about a drift to a low tax low regulation UK economy after Brexit.
  • The new scenario could strengthen demands in Belfast for unification with Dublin, potentially imperillung the UK's constitutional integrity.
  • Brexit has strengthened calls for a second referendum on independence by the Scottish National Party, which won a big majority in UK elections.

Way Forward

  • EU and UK are bound by history, geography, culture, shared values and principles and a strong belief in rules based multilateralism.
  • In the World of turmoil and transition, UK and EU must consult each other and cooperate, bilaterally and in key regional and global fora, such as the UN, WTO, NATO or G20.
  • EU is a group of 27 member states now, it will continue to form a single market of 450 million citizens. EU still is the largest trading bloc of the World and World's largest development aid donor.

Source: TH

A looming health crisis- Antimicrobial resistance

GS-III : S&T Antimicrobial resistance

A looming health crisis- Antimicrobial resistance

GS-Paper-3 Antibiotic resistance (PT-MAINS)

Context: Antimicrobial resistance is growing exponentially and needs to be tackled before it is late. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our daily lives, a silent pandemic has been brewing in the background for decades. Governments need to factor in new research and bring in businesses and consumers as active stakeholders before it is too late.

Facts

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is growing at an alarming rate. Globally, about 35% of common human infections have become resistant to available medicines.
  • About 700,000 people die every year because available antimicrobial drugs — antibiotics, antivirals, antiparasitic and antifungals — have become less effective at combating pathogens.
  • Resistance to second- and third-line antibiotics — the last lines of defence against some common diseases — are projected to almost double between 2005 and 2030.
  • In India, the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world, this is a serious problem.
  • According to a study published in The Lancet, an estimated 58,000 new-born children die annually from sepsis in India alone because antibiotics can no longer treat certain bacterial infections.
  • We have long known that microorganisms develop resistance to antimicrobial agents as a natural defence mechanism.
  • We have also known for some time that human activity has significantly accelerated the process. The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials for humans, livestock and agriculture is probably the biggest reason for this, but other factors also contribute.

Role of environment and pollution in AMR

  • Once consumed, up to 80% of antibiotic drugs are excreted un-metabolised, along with resistant bacteria.
  • Their release in effluents from households and health and pharmaceutical facilities, and agricultural run-off, is propagating resistant microorganisms.
  • Wastewater treatment facilities are unable to remove all antibiotics and resistant bacteria.
  • In India, there is capacity to treat only about 37% of the sewage generated annually. The rest is discharged into natural water bodies without treatment.
  • An analysis of single wastewater discharge from a treatment facility in India catering to drug manufacturers found concentrations of antibiotics high enough to treat over 40,000 people daily.
  • Water, then, may be a major mode for the spread of AMR, especially in places with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Wildlife that comes into contact with discharge containing antimicrobials can also become colonised with drug-resistant organisms.

Key initiatives

This issue has been on the radar of scientists for several years.

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified antimicrobial resistance as one of six emerging issues of environmental concern in its 2017 Frontiers Report. In that same year, the UN Environment Assembly pressed the need to further understand the role of environmental pollution in spreading AMR.
  • UN agencies are working together to develop the One Health AMR Global Action Plan (GAP) that addresses the issue in human, animal, and plant health and food and environment sectors.
  • The Centre and State governments in India can strengthen the environmental dimensions of their plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance. It is particularly important to promote measures that address known hotspots such as hospitals and manufacturing and waste treatment facilities.
  • This has started to an extent. Early in 2020, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued draft standards which set limits for residues of 121 antibiotics in treated effluents from drug production units. These standards await finalisation. And in July this year, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and MoEF&CC constituted the inter-ministerial Steering Committee on Environment and Health, with representation from WHO and UNEP.

**Atul Bagai is Head, UN Environment Programme, Country Office, India

Additional notes

  • Antimicrobial resistance is a major public health problem in South East Asian countries. It is known that the infectious disease burden in India is among the highest in the world and burden of poor sanitation and malnutrition exacerbates these conditions.
  • Presently under various national health program there are definite policies or guidelines for appropriate use of antimicrobials like Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) in diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections, but these are not available for other diseases of public health importance like enteric fever and others.
  • During the recent H1N1 pandemic, national guidelines were framed and implemented regarding restricted sale and use of **oseltamivir in the country.
  • Another major issue is that there is no national data based on antimicrobial resistance in different pathogens except for those where there is a specific national health program. Networking of laboratories in the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program in the country generated some useful data on drug resistance in tuberculosis and recently a laboratory network has also been established for antimicrobial testing of HIV under National AIDS Control organization.
  • Meta analyses of the drug susceptibility results of various laboratories in India reveal an increasing trend of development of resistance to commonly used antimicrobials in pathogens like Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio cholerae, Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, N. meningitidis, Klebsiella, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV, plasmodium and others.
  • New resistance mechanisms, such as the metallobeta-lactamase NDM-1, have emerged among several gram-negative bacilli. This can render powerful antibiotics ineffective, which are often used as last line of defence against multi-resistant strains of bacteria.
  • In addition, various studies in South India highlighted the drug resistance pattern like multidrug resistant Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae, Ciprofloxacin resistant Salmonella enteric serovar Typhi, emergence of vancomycin-intermediate staphylococci, fluoroquinolone resistance among Salmonella enteric serovar Paratyphi A, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii resistant to ceftazidime, cefepime and ciprofloxacin.

Problems

  1. Presently there is no national program for prevention of drug resistance and there is inadequacy of quality assured laboratories, insufficient data analysis and dissemination, absence of national guidelines on antimicrobial usage, no control on sale of these drugs for public consumption.
  2. In India, around 5% of GDP is spent on health out of which public health sector contributes to 0.9% and a major portion of the remaining is by the private health sector. Again around 80% share of private health sector contribution comes from out of pocket expenditure mostly for medicines and In private sector, many of the doctors are poorly trained or unlicensed.
  3. Provision of essential medicines by the public sector is one of the measures to prevent antimicrobial resistance. But the non availability of some medicines because of irregular supply and problems related to monitoring the external and internal drug quality will further increase the problem.
  4. Inappropriate and irrational use of medicines provides favorable conditions for resistant microorganisms to emerge and spread.
  5. Prescription of antibiotics by the doctors according to patient needs without any indications and involvement of pharmacists in direct sale of drugs to patients increase the problem of antimicrobial resistance.
  6. Compounding this problem, consumers and public have lack of knowledge regarding appropriate use of antibiotics.
  7. Self medication and poor compliance are the other factors responsible for antimicrobial resistance among consumers. So, behavioral pattern of the health care providers and consumers is of paramount importance in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
  8. Inadequate national commitment to a comprehensive and coordinated response and ill-defined accountability with respect to antimicrobial use and resistance is an issue to be considered. Weak surveillance and regulatory system is also an important determinant of antimicrobial resistance.

AMR results in many consequences.

  1. The patient remains sick for a longer period thus requiring prolonged treatment usually with expensive and at times toxic drugs which results in increased morbidity and mortality.
  2. The burden on health system also increases .Hospital acquired infection in vulnerable patients with resistant strains is another major threat in the Indian context.
  3. The success of treatments such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and major surgery would be compromised without effective antimicrobials for care and prevention of infections.
  4. All these have substantial effect on economy at individual level and society level. Many infectious diseases risk becoming uncontrollable and could derail the progress made towards reaching the targets of the health-related United Nations Millennium Development Goals set for 2015.
  5. Recently the growth of global trade and travel has allowed resistant microorganisms to be spread rapidly to distant countries and continents.

Recent developments

Large number of new initiatives have been launched by various agencies to contain this problem which includes.

India Clen (Indian Clinical Epidemiology Network) which has generated some quality data on AMR in pathogens like pneumococcus, H.influenzae across the country.

  • IIMAR (Indian Initiative for Management of Antibiotic Resistance) launched in March 2008, with WHO support, by a consortium of NGOs to promote prudent use of antimicrobials.
  • INSAR (Indian Network for Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance) a network of 20 laboratories in the private as well as public sector across the country to generate quality data on AMR
  • WHO has supported a few community-based surveillance studies to determine the antimicrobial resistance as well as use of antimicrobial agents and generated some baseline data on Antimicrobial use and resistance in five pilot sites in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Vellore) and South Africa (Durban, Brits).
  • Chennai Declaration” by a consortium of the Indian Medical Societies .
  • Redline campaign for educating public.
  • National Action Plan on AMR 2017.

Challenges

  • Strengthening of Surveillance Data
  • Standard Operating Guidelines
  • Improvement in antibiotic prescription practices
  • Over the counter sale of antibiotics
  • Poor sanitation, endemic infections, malnutrition
  • Limited public awareness and government commitment
  • Lack of coordination and fragmentation of effort
  • Perverse incentives.

Strategies

  • Establish a national alliance against antimicrobial resistance with all key stakeholders as its members. There should be an integrated approach between provider and consumer sides to effectively prevent the antimicrobial resistance. From the provider side policy makers, planners, practitioners and prescribers, pharmacists and dispensers, institution managers, diagnostic and pharmaceutical industries, department of animal husbandry and from the consumer side patients and community is important in this regard.

  • Implement appropriate surveillance mechanisms in the health and veterinary sectors to generate reliable epidemiological information, baseline data, trends on antimicrobial resistance, utilization of antimicrobial agents and impact on the economy and health through designated national and regional reference centre's. Discourage non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary, agriculture and fishery practices as growth-promoting agents.
  • Develop national standard treatment and infection control guidelines and ensure their application at all levels of health care and veterinary services through training, continuous educational activities, establishment of functional drugs and therapeutic committees and hospital infection control committees in health facilities with the focus on proven cost-effective interventions such as isolation, hand washing.
  • To regulate and promote rational use of medicines and ensure proper patient care at all levels, there is a need to take necessary steps to stop across the counter sale of antibiotics without physicians prescription and ensure uninterrupted access to essential medicines of assured quality at hospital and community.
  • vaccination strategies should be improved to further reduce the burden of infections.
  • Conduct of operational research for better understanding of the technical and behavioral aspects of prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance. Utilize the outcomes of these research studies or interventions in policy and program development improvement in the national context.
  • Constructive interactions with the pharmaceutical industry for ensuring appropriate licensure, promotion and marketing of existing antimicrobials and for encouraging the development of new drugs and vaccines.
  • Educational and awareness program for communities and different categories of health care professionals.
  • Strengthen communicable diseases control program to reduce disease burden and accord priority to the discipline of infectious diseases in medical education and health services.

Source: TH

3D Printing a Building

GS-III : S&T 3D Printing

3D printing a building

GS-Paper-3 3D Printing (PT-MAINS)

L&T, the construction major, prints out a 700 sq.ft building which looks like a concrete shell structure. It was prepared using only a 3D printer and a special concrete mix.

Additive Manufacturing (3D printing)

  • Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial production name for 3D printing and a computer controlled process that creates three dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers.
  • Using digitally controlled and operated material laying tools, additive manufacturing can make ‘objects’ from a digital ‘model’ by depositing the constituent material/s. Use of plastic and photosensitive materials.
  • There are 4 main components of Additive Manufacturing:
  1. A digital model of the object,
  2. Material/s that are consolidated from the smallest possible form. Eg liquid droplets, wire, powder to make the object,
  3. A tool for laying materials and
  4. A digital control system for the tool to lay the material/s layer-by-layer to build the shape of the object.
  • Additive Manufacturing Society of India (AMSI): AMSI promote 3D printing & Additive Manufacturing Technologies in India. It is a helps the design, R&D organisations, manufacturing professionals and academics in 3D Printing.
  • Applications: Helmets, Dental meds, Jet Engine parts, Cars and Hearing aid. And now even a house.

Advantages of additive manufacturing:

  1. It reduces waste and cost (when Economy of Scale) compared to machinery.
  2. It reduces capital, space required, carbon footprint and improves customisation.
  3. Present of robust IT sector and to increase connectivity will boost Digital India Campaign.
  4. It is suitable for products in harsh Environmental conditions.
  5. India has the tradition of "use and throw". Parts can be manufactured as needed and product life cycles can be extended.
  6. It is easy to maintain uniform product quality.
  7. Without any tooling complex 3D geometries with internal features can be printed.
  8. Different materials can be mixed during the printing process to create a unique alloy.
  9. Prototypes can be made quicker allowing designers to check different iterations resulting in quicker design cycle phase.

Concerns

  1. It reduces the reliance on Assembly workers.
  2. It bypasses global supply chain.

Conclusion:

For all this to happen we need Govt support: incentives for distribution of manufacturing in smaller towns and for IT industry to work on creating platforms and demands.

Source: TH

Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) by WHO

GS-III : S&T Antimicrobial resistance

Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) by WHO

Launched in October 2015, the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS) is being developed to support the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. The aim is to support global surveillance and research in order to strengthen the evidence base on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and help informing decision-making and drive national, regional, and global actions.

GLASS objectives

  • Foster national surveillance systems and harmonized global standards;
  • estimate the extent and burden of AMR globally by selected indicators;
  • analyse and report global data on AMR on a regular basis;
  • detect emerging resistance and its international spread;
  • inform implementation of targeted prevention and control programmes;
  • assess the impact of interventions.

Source: PIB

A new COVID strain in Nigeria

GS-III : S&T S&T

New strain of COVID-19 in Nigeria

GS Paper III - S&T Coronavirus (PT-Mains-Interview)

Context: Coronavirus is a highly important topic for UPSC Mains and Prelims examination 2021. It is a part of GS Paper II and GS Paper III under Science and Technology.

  • Another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria.
  • The news comes after Britain and South Africa both reported new variants of the SARS­CoV­2 virus that appear to be more contagious.
  • The first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020 (VUI – 202012/01), also known as lineage B.1.1.7, is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in October 2020 from a sample taken the previous month, and it quickly began to spread by mid-December. It is correlated with a significant increase in the rate of COVID-19 infection in England; this increase is thought to be at least partly because of mutation N501Y inside the spike glycoprotein's receptor-binding domain, which is needed for binding to ACE2 in human cells.
  • The new virus strains spread 70% faster with similar lethal effect; Cases reported in South Africa, Australia, Italy, Spain and parts of Europe.
  • This variant includes a mutation in the ‘spike’ protein. Changes in this part of the spike protein may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.

Source: Reuters

AUSTRALIAN SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY PATHFINDER

GS-III : S&T Space

AUSTRALIAN SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY PATHFINDER:

  • Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a new type of radio telescope developed by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
  • Recently, this telescope had helped map around 300 million galaxies in approximately 300 hours to create a ‘new atlas of the universe’.

Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

  • The first light of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder was in October 2012.
  • The first light in Astronomy means the first use of a telescope.
  • The array consists of 36 identical parabolic Antennas.
  • The antennas work together as a single astronomical Inferometer.
  • Every antenna is equipped with a phased array feed.
  • A phased array feed creates beam of radio waves that can be electronically guided to points in different direction without moving the Antennas.
  • This increases the field of view of the telescope.

What is an Astronomical Inferometer?

  • It is an array of separate telescopes that work together as a single telescope to provide higher resolution of images of astronomical objects such as nebulous, stars and galaxies.

Evolutionary map of the universe project

  • The map of the universe is to be created using the telescope to make a Census of radio sources in the sky.
  • By tracing the radio sources the galaxies, black holes and several other Universal bodies can be detected.

Source: ANI

Castes count-Reservation

GS-II : Governance Reservation issue

Castes count-Reservation

GS-Paper-2 Caste and Reservation-Social Issue (Mains-I.V)

Context: A caste-wise survey helps gather quantifiable data, but the aim must be a casteless society. This topic is highly important for MAINS and Sociology students for UPSC mains.

Why in News?

  • The idea of a caste census is back in the realm of public debate, following the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to establish a commission to collect caste-wise data.
  • The move may have been born out of political expediency, in response to the restive pre-election agitation organised by the Pattali Makkal Katchi demanding 20% exclusive reservation in education and government jobs for the Vanniyar community, its main electoral base.
  • However, it is equally true that there is a social and legal necessity for compiling caste-wise data.
  • The Supreme Court has been asking States to produce quantifiable data to justify their levels of reservation, and it would help Tamil Nadu to retain its 69% total reservation.
  • The Gujjars, or Jats or the Patidars, or the Vanniyars, some sections have been linking their prospects of advancement to exclusive reservation.
  • In Tamil Nadu, sections of the Vanniyars, whose violent 1987-88 agitation resulted in the creation of a ‘most backward classes’ category entitled to 20% reservation, are apparently dissatisfied about being clubbed with over a hundred other castes.
  • It is a sobering reflection on how reservation operates that some castes feel crowded out in the competition and aspire for the safety of exclusive reservation.

**The Census of India has not collected caste-wise data since 1931, with the exception of details about SCs and STs.

Present method

  • The Centre conducted a ‘socio-economic caste census’ in 2011, in an attempt to link the collection of caste data along with socio-economic data so that there could be a comprehensive assessment of levels of deprivation and backwardness in society.
  • However, presumably because of the lack of reliability of the data collected, or its political and electoral sensitivity, the caste portion of the SECC has not been disclosed so far.
  • The State government could possibly seek access to this data pertaining to Tamil Nadu as part of its exercise. However, it should not treat this as a politically expedient move to quell a possible electoral setback due to the agitation of one party or community.
  • Rather, it should seek to rationalise and deepen its social justice policy with a true assessment of the backwardness of various castes. After all, progress towards a casteless and equal society ought to remain the state’s ultimate goal.

Facts you need to know, Before reservation debate!!

  • On January 13 2019, the President gave his nod and brought into law .The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill 2019.
  • The Act amends Articles 15 and Article 16 of the Constitution, and adds clauses where the government can make special provisions for economically weaker sections (EWS) of citizens and provide them with reservations up to 10 percent in higher educational institutions including private aided or unaided institutions (other than minority education institutions) as well as in initial appointments in government services.

Reservations: The genesis and evolution

  • Even prior to India’s independence and the provision of reservations in the Constitution, several princely states had in the 19th and early 20th century provided reservations in some form to lower castes.
  • While the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) were able to avail reservations right after Independence; it took much longer for what was mandated in the Constitution to be implemented for the Other Backward Classes ( OBCs).
  • Reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: Article 341 and Article 342 of the Constitution provides for the inclusion of groups under the SC and ST category. In 1956, lower castes from the Sikh community were included and considered as Scheduled Castes, whereas the neo Buddhists were included in 1990.
  • Groups from the previously untouchable castes who converted to Islam and Christianity have not been included in the SC list.
  • Reservations in cases of promotions for SCs and STs: With a constitutional amendment in 1995, reservations were made available to SCs and STs in matters of promotion as well.
  • The validity of this amendment was challenged in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India 2006. The court restricted the scope of the amendment by subjecting it to the concept of creamy layers. This was upheld in a 2018 Supreme Court judgement which upheld the application of creamy layer in matters of promotion.
  • Reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBC): The first commission to investigate the possibility and details of providing reservations to OBCs was set up in 1953. They provided their report to the Central government in 1955, who didn’t act on it, but asked several of the states to set up their lists of backward classes and fix quotas for them. Several states set up Backward Class Commissions, and provided reservations in public services and employment which varied in number from state to state.
  • The Second Backward commission was set up in 1978 which estimated the OBC population in the state to be around 52 percent and recommended 27 percent reservations for them. The report known as the Mandal Commission (headed by Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal ) report was submitted to the government in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1990.
  • Initially, reservations in public services of the central government came into force, whereas reservations in central higher educational institutions were implemented in 2006.
  • Both the steps by the government were strongly resisted by the upper castes, with several mass protests, but got judicial backing. The courts while upholding 27 percent reservations put conditions and restricted the ‘creamy layer’ of OBCs from accessing reservation.

Reservation and Private institutions?

  • The 93rd Constitutional Amendment Act which came into force in 2006 paved the way for reservations in private institutions.
  • The amendments insert a clause in Article 15 of the constitution and the clause states that special provisions can be made “for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to the their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State,” except in minority institutions.

What is the percentage of reservations for various categories?

  • 15 percent and 7.5 percent of positions in central government services are reserved for SCs and STs respectively, while 27 percent are for OBCs. The same percentage also applies to seats in central educational institutions.
  • With the addition of 10 percent for EWS, as per the latest Constitutional Amendment Bill, the percentage of reservations in central government services and educational institutions will now be around 59.5 percentage.

  • In reservation to services and educational institutions at the state level, the percentage for SCs, STs and OBCs vary from state to state based on the demographics.
  • For example, in Arunachal Pradesh there is 45 percent reservation for STs, 1 percent reservation for SCs and no reservation for OBCs as there is no OBC population in the state.
  • Most states in the north-eastern part of the country have higher reservation rates under STs. Himachal Pradesh and Punjab with 25 and 29 percent respectively are two of the state with comparatively higher reservations for SCs.

What has the Court said in the past about reservation exceeding 50 percent?

  • The Congress government under the leadership of P V Narasimha Rao, which came to power in 1991, had added a notification for 10 percent Central reservation to sections of people who were economically backward and not covered under any existing schemes.
  • However, the Supreme Court in the case of Indra Sawnhey vs Union of India 1992, struck this down while stating that economic criteria can’t be the sole factor for backwardness, but it can be considered along with or in addition to social backwardness. In the same judgment, the apex court also said: “Just as every power must be exercised reasonably and fairly, the power conferred by Clause (4) of Article 16 should also be exercised in a fair manner and within reasonably limits – and what is more reasonable than to say that reservation under Clause (4) shall not exceed 50% of the appointments or posts, barring certain extra-ordinary situations as explained hereinafter…
  • The provision under Article 16(4) – conceived in the interest of certain sections of society – should be balanced against the guarantee of equality enshrined in Clause (1) of Article 16 which is a guarantee held out to every citizen and to the entire society. It is relevant to point out that Dr. Ambedkar himself contemplated reservation being “confined to a minority of seats” .
  • No other member of the Constituent Assembly suggested otherwise. It is, thus clear that reservation of a majority of seats was never envisaged by the founding fathers. Nor are we satisfied that the present context requires us to depart from that concept.”
  • However, the judgment also pointed out that while 50 percent shall be the rule, there could be certain extraordinary situations inherent in the diversity of India and its people that call for relaxation of the rule. But for that, extreme caution must be exercised and a special case made out.

Several groups including the Patidars in Gujarat, Jats in Haryana and Marathas in Maharashtra have in the recent past violently agitated for their inclusion in the state reservation quotas. Haryana had in 2016 passed a bill which created reservations for the Jats and five other groups by including them in a new category called ‘backward classes’. This move was stayed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, which stated that reservations would then exceed the 50 percent limit set by the Supreme Court.

Recently in November 2018, the Maharashtra assembly unanimously passed a bill which provided for 16 percent reservation in higher education and public services to the Maratha community. But similar reservation provided to the community in 2014 was stayed by the Bombay High Court, pointing to reservations exceeding 50 percent.

How are selections made for reserved categories?

Applicants who are applying under the various reserved category quotas enjoy certain relaxations in the form of marks, age etc. For example, the University Grants Commission Regulation 2010 provides a 5 percent relaxation in marks to SCs,STs,OBCs at the graduate and masters level in universities for teaching or other staff positions.

What happens when seats for reserved categories are not filled up?

  • In cases of employment in central public services, if during the first recruitment attempt the SC/ST/OBC seats are not filled up, then a second recruitment will be made in the same recruiting year.
  • The seats which remain unfilled during that year will be considered as backlog seats; carried forward to the next year for the reserved categories and treated separately from that year’s list.
  • Backlog seats will get carried on over the years until they are filled.
  • There is a general ban of providing reserved seats to unreserved candidates, but in exceptional situations where a post can’t be allowed to remain vacant in Group A Central Services, reserved seats can be unreserved following certain procedures.
  • Some states have taken a slightly different approach. For example in Kerala if an ST seat remains vacant it can be filled by a member from SC and vice versa.

  • With respect to reservations in educational institutional there have seen some decisions by High Courts in the past, where if the seats for SC/ST/OBC are not filled , then it would be opened up to candidates from the general category. For example in Archana Thakur vs State of HP in 2018, the High Court directed that if reserved seats for SC and ST were unfilled, it should be opened to students from the general category based on merit.
  • Similarly the High Court of Tripura in 2015 had directed that if seats under any reserved category remained unfilled then the exchange method (among reserved categories) shouldn’t be employed and it should be opened to the general category on merit.

What is new about the latest reservation category?

  • EWS is a class-based category, which marks a departure from the other major categories of reservation in the past which have all been based on caste.
  • The indicators which were used to select groups as part of the OBC list by the Mandal Commission and by various State Commissions depended on caste as a leading indicator.
  • With the new introduction, people irrespective of caste can avail reservations under this category if their gross annual family income is less than Rs 8 lakh and if they possess agricultural land below 5 acres and a residential house below 1000 square foot. In urban areas, their residential plot should be below 100 yards in a notified municipal area or below 200 yards in a non-notified municipal area.

Why does Tamil Nadu have 69% reservation?

  • If the lack of clarity on why 50% was a “reasonable limit” was not enough, Tamil Nadu added to the confusion by ensuring the Supreme Court’s judgement in 1992 did not weaken its reservation system, which was more extensive than anywhere else in India.
  • The state’s Assembly passed the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993 to keep its reservation limit intact at 69%. The law was subsequently included into the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution through the 76th Constitution Amendment passed by Parliament in 1994.

Can’t other states emulate Tamil Nadu?

  • In 2014, the Bombay High Court stayed the Maharashtra government’s decision to provide reservation for Marathas since, among other reasons, it exceeded the 50% cap. Attempts by Rajasthan and Odisha to extend reservation to new groups have since been struck down for the same reason.
  • The 50% cap has left Indian politicians with no room to act even as strong demands for further reservation now dominate politics in several states.
  • In Gujarat, Patidars have been agitating, sometimes violently, for reservation for the past two years. In the lead-up to the Assembly election in May, Karnataka’s chief minister promised to raise the reservation cap to 70%.
  • Andhra Pradesh is seeking to raise the limit to 55% and Telangana to 62%.
  • The two Telugu states have already passed laws to try and get immunity from the apex court’s order under the Ninth Schedule like Tamil Nadu.
  • It is not easy, of course, given Tamil Nadu’s own reservation policy is now facing scrutiny by the Supreme Court.

What is Socio Economic caste census?

  • SECC-2011 is a study of socio economic status of rural and urban households and allows ranking of households based on predefined parameters.
  • SECC 2011 has three census components which were conducted by three separate authorities but under the overall coordination of Department of Rural Development in the Government of India.
  • Census in Rural Area has been conducted by the Department of Rural Development (DoRD). Census in Urban areas is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA).
  • Caste Census is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs: Registrar General of India (RGI) and Census Commissioner of India.
  • SECC 2011 is also the first paperless census in India conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts. SECC 2011 also counted other aspects like Manual scavenging and Transgender count in India.
  • Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 was the fourth exercise conducted by Government of India to identify households living below the poverty line (BPL) in India that would get various entitlements.
  • In January 2017, Central Government accepted recommendations to use Socio-Economic Caste Census, instead of poverty line, as the main instrument for identification of beneficiaries and transferring of funds for social schemes in rural areas.

SECC 2011 data will also be used to identify beneficiaries and expand the direct benefit transfer scheme as part of its plans to build upon the JAM (Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana-Aadhaar-Mobile Governance) trinity. Government intends to revamp parameters for the Socio Economic Caste Census-2021 The new criterion, could lead to exclusion of households from flagship schemes.

Source: TH

Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota-Nagraj case

GS-II : Governance Reservation issue

Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota-Nagraj case

GS-Paper-2 Reservation and Cremy layer issue (Mains-I.V)

Context: The Centre has urged the Supreme Court to refer to a larger Bench its decision last year that had applied the creamy layer principle to promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.

What was the case about?

  • In Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018), the court dealt with a batch of appeals relating to two reference orders, first by a two-judge Bench and then by a three-judge Bench, on the correctness of the Supreme Court’s judgment in M Nagaraj & Others vs Union of India (2006).
  • The Nagaraj case, in turn, had arisen out of a challenge to the validity of four Constitution amendments, which the court eventually upheld.

What were these amendments?

  • 77th Amendment: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution, empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.
  • 81st Amendment: It introduced Clause 4B, which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year to find out whether the total quota has breached the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.
  • 82nd Amendment: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs “for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.
  • 85th Amendment: It said reservation in promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employee.

What is Art. 335 about?

  • Article 335 of the Constitution relates to claims of SCs and STs to services and posts.
  • It reads: “The claims of the members of the SC’s and ST’s shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.”

How did the Nagaraj case proceed?

  • The petitioners claimed that these amendments were brought to reverse the effect of the decision in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992 (Mandal Commission case).
  • In that case the Supreme Court had excluded the creamy layer of OBCs from reservation benefits.
  • The court said reservation should be applied in a limited sense, otherwise it will perpetuate casteism in the country.
  • It upheld the constitutional amendments by which Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B) were inserted, saying they flow from Article 16(4) and do not alter the structure of Article 16(4).

Extending to SC’s and ST’s: A directive for the State

  • The SC ruled that “the State is not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in matter of promotions.
  • However if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment.
  • It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, the State will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
  • In other words, the court extended the creamy layer principle to SCs and STs too.

What happened in the subsequent Jarnail Singh case?

  • The Centre argued that the Nagaraj judgment needed to be revisited for two reasons.
  • Firstly, asking states “to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness is contrary to the Indra Sawhney v Union of India case where it was held that SC’s and ST’s are the most backward among backward classes.
  • And it is, therefore, presumed that once they are contained in the Presidential List under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution of India, there is no question of showing backwardness of the SCs and STs all over again.
  • Secondly, the creamy layer concept has not been applied in the Indra Sawhney case to SC/ST’s; the Nagaraj judgment, according to the government, “has misread” the Indra Sawhney judgment to apply the concept to the SCs and STs.

How did the court rule?

  • Last year, a five-judge Constitution Bench refused to refer the Nagaraj verdict to a larger bench.
  • However, it held as “invalid” the requirement laid down by the Nagaraj verdict that states should collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs in granting quota in promotions.
  • It said that the creamy layer principle — of excluding the affluent among these communities from availing the benefit —will apply.
  • The whole object of reservation is to see that backward classes of citizens move forward so that they may march hand in hand with other citizens of India on an equal basis.
  • This will not be possible if only the creamy layer within that class bag all the coveted jobs in the public sector and perpetuate themselves, leaving the rest of the class as backward as they always were, the Bench said.
  • This being the case, it is clear that when a Court applies the creamy layer principle SC/ST’s, it does not in any manner tinker with the Presidential List under Articles 341 or 342.
  • It is only those persons within that group or sub-group, who have come out of untouchability or backwardness by virtue of belonging to the creamy layer, who are excluded from the benefit of reservation.

What happens now?

The Centre, while praying that the 2018 judgment be referred to a larger Bench, has referred once again to the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment, submitting that the Supreme Court then did not apply the creamy layer concept to SCs and STs. The Bench has said it will hear the matter within few weeks.

Source: TH

Reservation in promotion in public posts not a fundamental right: SC

GS-II : Governance Reservation issue

Reservation in promotion in public posts not a fundamental right: SC

GS-Paper-2 Reservation and Cremy layer issue (Mains-I.V)

Context: The Supreme Court has recently ruled that the states are not bound to provide reservation in appointments and promotions and that there is no fundamental right to reservation in promotions.

What has the court said?

  1. Reservation in promotion in public posts cannot be claimed as a fundamental right.
  2. Articles 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) of the Constitution does not confer individuals with a fundamental right to claim reservation in promotion. It only empowers the State to make a reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, only if in the opinion of the State they are not adequately represented in the services of the State.
  3. State governments are not bound to make a reservation and have discretion in providing reservations.
  4. The judgment also noted that even the courts could not issue a mandamus directing the States to provide reservation.

Constitutional basis for reservations- Article 335:

Article 335 recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level-playing field.

Need: Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity. The proviso contains a realistic recognition that unless special measures are adopted for the SCs and STs, the mandate of the Constitution for the consideration of their claim to appointment will remain illusory.

Significance:

The proviso is an aid of fostering the real and substantive right to equality to the SCs and STs. It protects the authority of the Union and the States to adopt any of these special measures, to effectuate a realistic (as opposed to a formal) consideration of their claims to appointment in services and posts under the Union and the states. It also emphasises that the need to maintain the efficiency of administration cannot be construed as a fetter on adopting these special measures designed to uplift and protect the welfare of the SCs and STs.

Indra Sawhney vs Union of India and M Nagraj case:

In its landmark 1992 decision in Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that reservations under Article 16(4) could only be provided at the time of entry into government service but not in matters of promotion.

It added that the principle would operate only prospectively and not affect promotions already made and that reservation already provided in promotions shall continue in operation for a period of five years from the date of the judgment. It also ruled that the creamy layer can be and must be excluded.

  1. On June 17, 1995, Parliament, acting in its constituent capacity, adopted the seventy-seventh amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs. The validity of the seventy-seventh and eighty-fifth amendments to the Constitution and of the legislation enacted in pursuance of those amendments was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Nagaraj case.
  2. Upholding the validity of Article 16 (4A), the court then said that it is an enabling provision. “The State is not bound to make reservation for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets — the backwardness of the class; the inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment; and the general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected”.
  3. The court ruled that the constitutional amendments do not abrogate the fundamentals of equality.

Source: TH

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