ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Finance Commission Report for 2020–21

The action taken by the union on some of the recommendations of the Fifteenth Finance Commission for 2020–21 is indicative of a major departure from the established practices followed so far. Asking the Finance Commission to review its recommendations on special grants to three states, and grants for nutrition to all the states is totally unprecedented and undermines the stature of the institution of the Finance Commission.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act has generated a political churn in the country. Tagging the updating of the National Population Register, a base document to identify “citizens,” to the forthcoming 2021 population and housing census has raised strong objections from several corners, including some state governments, necessitating the home minister to make a statement in Parliament on 14 March 2020. Linking the census and theNPR raises many questions—technical and operational. It is important to go beyond politics to address these concerns.

Assessing the US–ChinaEconomic and Trade Agreement

The United States and China had signed Phase One of the Economic and Trade Agreement, the process to end the nearly two-year-old trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The agreement reads like a charter of demands that the US has made on China in several key areas. A critical analysis of the agreement and the implications for the two countries are presented.

Engaging Rural Youth Gainfully

India has a high proportion of youth in its population, especially that of rural youth. Harnessing their potential to contribute to the country’s growth would require rural-centric policies that combine the development of appropriate technologies and innovations, skilling of youth, and the creation of an ecosystem for the establishment of own enterprises.

How Prepared Is India to Control the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19, has reached many places in India, from Kerala to Kashmir. With local spread occurring from infection seeded by importations, a nationwide epidemic of unprecedented seriousness is imminent. The Prime Minister should assume leadership immediately and a full-time war-room, run by a task force with the best national experts, must be set up, and immediate, medium- and long-term strategies designed and implemented. We have lost one month already.

Power Looms in Maharashtra

Power looms are the largest producers of cloth in India, but in recent years, some policy decisions seem to have affected its effective functioning. The current crisis of this sector in Maharashtra, the state which has the largest number of power looms in the country, is examined.

Davinder Singh’s Arrest

Vappala Balachandran ( vappala.balachandran@gmail.com ) is a former special secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He was a member of the two-man High Level Committee appointed by the Government of Maharashtra to enquire into the police handling of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

Sounding the Battle Cry

The Supreme Court’s judgment of 17 February 2020, granting women permanent commission in the army, has opened the doors for women to seek benefits and status associated with seniority of rank. Even though the apex court’s ruling is restricted to non-combat or non-armoured corps, it still is a big win for women. However, the idea of women in the armed forces requires deeper engagement. There is a need to understand what should be envisioned and expected from opening the doors of a male bastion for women.

Fighting Polio, Courting Death

Vulnerabilities and risks faced by women health workers in polio eradication programmes are scarcely acknowledged, even as the global polio eradication initiative has unveiled a new gender strategy. Instead of reinforcing cultural stereotypes regarding the distrust about vaccination campaigns, it is essential to address systemic drawbacks. The deaths of women health workers cannot be reduced to being a mere obstacle for the success of the campaign.

National Medical Commission Act

The National Medical Commission Act, passed by Parliament in July 2019, has been billed by the government as the “biggest reform” in the medical profession and a “pro-poor legislation” that shall make quality medical care more accessible to the people. Paradoxically enough, the act ran into severe resistance from the very profession whose lot it was supposed to improve. An examination of some of the provisions of the act in light of these developments makes us think that the act may well be a case of the cure being worse than the malady itself. There is a need for the resistance against this act to be revived.

India’s ‘Three Pest Campaign’

Over the last few years, the central government has declared certain species of wild animals as “vermin” in some states, thus allowing uncontrolled hunting of these animals. This removal of protection raises serious concerns with respect to its legality, constitutionality, and ethics. An analysis of notifications declaring species as vermin shows that this was done in an arbitrary manner without any scientific assessments. There is thus a clear need to review the manner in which wild animals were declared as vermin.

Sabka Vishwas Scheme

Sabka Vishwas Scheme is a dispute resolution-cum-amnesty scheme, with an objective of generating revenue in the short term, by inclusion into the tax net of delinquent taxpayers and those with pending disputes. Such measures renegotiate the contract between the state and its citizens, hurting equity in the tax system. Adherence to such measures reduces the taxable capacity of the state in the long run, by adversely affecting motivation towards compliance.

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