Judicial Interventions in Indian Economic decisions
(GS-II: Polity: Indian Judiciary)
Recently, Supreme Court proposed to create an expert committee of the Election Commission, Finance Commission, NITI Aayog, RBI officials and others to look into the economic impact of freebies doled out by the executive.
Issues with judicial interventions in the areas of economic growth:
Disincentivizes investment: E.g., SC cancelling of 2G spectrum and coal licensing led to the private sector becoming sceptical of future investments.
Policy paralysis: The bona fide decisions of the civil servants are being reopened in the courts leading to fear in taking important decisions.
g., In 2021, a two-judge SC bench directed CBI to inquire into the two-decade-old case of strategic disinvestment of Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL), where a preliminary inquiry was closed by the CBI itself.
Former SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri was arrested on a magistrate court’s order, for an asset reconstruction case, long after retirement. Ironically, the right forum to hear that matter was NCLAT.
Violation of Separation of Power: Judiciary decisions that override economic growth or which reopen already settled matters are putting the executive and judiciary at cross-purposes.
Judiciary doesn’t have expertise in policy matters: The governments are accountable to citizens for providing them with a good standard of living but the judiciary is not accountable to people directly. Further, The Judiciary doesn’t have the expertise in many matters.
Issues of judicial overreach: E.g. In the Goa Foundation vs Sesa Sterlite case (2018), the SC halted iron ore mining. Till now a vast number of jobs have been lost.
SC in 2019 suspended the MOPA Airport project’s Environmental Clearance (EC) despite the Environment Assessment Committee and NGT following due process.
What should be done by the judiciary:
Take holistic impact assessment of its decisions: g. In Shiva shakti Sugars Limited vs Shree Renuka Sugar Limited verdict (2017), SC observed that the socio-economic impact of a decision ought to be kept in mind, before delivering judgement.
Applying an economic impact/cost-benefit analysis must become a fundamental process for judges to arrive at responsible and sustainable decisions
Taking help of experts: The SC can constitute an independent committee of experts, that can assist the court to help balance its final assessment by offering quantifiable analysis.
Judicial interventions having economic implications require further deliberation, external expertise, a new assessment framework, and a macro-perspective.
Rankings that make no sense
(GS-II: Issues related to the development of the social sector related to education, NEP, National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) etc)
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)’s ranking of higher education institutions (HEIs), released in July, has received considerable flak.
HEIs are ranked overall, university-wise, college-wise and also under disciplines such as law, medical, pharmacy, management, architecture, and engineering.
Parameters of ranking:
Issues with the Data:
Private institutions placed above NLUs: The NIRF places some private multi-discipline institutions higher than many prestigious national law universities (NLUs) and law departments.
Generally, students who cannot secure a seat in NLUs are admitted to private institutions.
These institutions are not the first choice: NIRF ranking shows that a private law university scored 100% in perception.
Considering this score, it should have been the most preferred place for students.
But the Common Law Admission Test admission choices show different picture-this institution figures below 10 NLUs as a preferred place to study.
Lack of rigorous system: An analysis of the data submitted by some multi-discipline private universities participating in various disciplines under the NIRF provides evidence of data fudging.
Evidence suggests that some private multi-discipline universities have claimed the same faculty in more than one discipline.
Funding in research: Research funding for research projects and consultancy is an essential parameter for ranking.
Data show that research grants and consultancy charges received in other disciplines appear to have been claimed as those in law.
No transparency: The NIRF requires the data submitted to it to be published by all the participating HEIs on their website so that such data can be scrutinised.
Some private multi-discipline universities have not granted free access to such data on their website; instead, they require an online form to be filled along with the details of the person seeking access.
Discrepancy in data:
For instance, the data uploaded on the websites omit details on the number, name, qualification and experience of the faculty.
Same parameters to all institutions: The NIRF applies almost the same parameters to all the institutions across varied disciplines in research and professional practice.
Publication data only from Scopus and web of science: While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gives due weightage to publications in UGC-Care listed journals, the NIRF uses publication data only from Scopus and Web of Science.
Revised methodology: Severe methodological and structural issues in the NIRF undermine the ranking process.
The methodology must be revised in consultation with all the stakeholders.
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan: What east can teach the west
(GS-II: International Relations)
Indo-Bangladesh Relations positive takeaways:
Settlement of border disputes: E.g., 2015 land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh, and the settlement of the maritime dispute.
(Indian government accepted the award of the international arbitrationon settling the maritime boundary dispute between Delhi and Dhaka)
Cooperation in reducing Cross-Border Terrorism: Incidences of support from insurgents in Bangladesh have reduced significantly. This has helped build much-needed political trust between the two national security establishments.
Flourishing Border Trade: India opened the Indian market for Bangladeshi goods, and Dhaka allowed Indian goods to transit to India’s northeast.
Transboundary bus services (Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata ‘Maitri’ (friendship) bus), reopening of railway lines (Bandhan Express), and the revitalization of waterways are restoring connectivity in the eastern subcontinent that was severed.
Growing trade: Bilateral trade touched nearly $16 billion last year. Bangladesh is one of India’s top export markets.
Developed inter-connected power grids facilitating Dhaka’s purchase of power from India. It now imports 1200 MW of power from India, with plans to add another 1500 MW.
Cooperative strategy: Bangladesh has discarded the temptation to balance India. Instead, it has embarked on a cooperative strategy with India, focusing on its economic growth and lifting itself in the regional and global hierarchy.
Issues in the India-Pakistan Relations:
Lessons which can be learnt from India’s good relations with Bangladesh:
Overcome past to build a mutually-beneficial future:g., Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narender Modi have proclaimed a “Sonali adhyay” or “golden chapter” in Indo-Bangladesh bilateral relations.
Reduced defence expenditure can be directed towards social goals: good relations with Bangladesh have significantly eased its security challenges. India’s northeast has seen increased trade and economic engagement.
Common stand on the issue of global governance: South Asia faces a similar issue and is on a similar level of development. Thus, good relations have helped them take a common stand on global issues such as Climate change, WTO governance, UNSC reforms etc.
A lot of issues are still to be resolved in the east between Delhi and Dhaka. For example, protecting the rights of minorities, sharing the waters of more than 50 rivers, promoting cross-border investments facilitating trade and preventing illegal migration, etc. The 75th anniversary of independence offers Delhi and Dhaka a special opportunity to elevate the ambition for their bilateral partnership.