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18th March – Editorials/Opinions Analyses

Contents:

  1. For a floor test first: On Madhya Pradesh crisis
  2. A revival of multilateralism, steered by India

FOR A FLOOR TEST FIRST: ON MADHYA PRADESH CRISIS

Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

  • Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has to prove its majority on the floor of the legislature at the earliest. Delaying tactics by Mr. Nath goes against democratic principles.
  • Also, the Governor’s position that the government will be presumed to have lost the majority unless it takes a floor test immediately is untenable.

How it all started?

The Congress had won a narrow victory in the State in 2018, after a 15-year gap. The resignation of 22 party MLAs has pushed its government into a crisis. These MLAs had won on Congress ticket and now defected with the lead taken by defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress to the BJP

What the SC has said before?

The BJP, the Congress and the rebel MLAs have all approached the Supreme Court which has taken up the matter with urgency.

  • The Court ruling during the Karnataka crisis was that a time-frame for deciding on resignations by MLAs could not be forced on the Speaker.
  • The Court also ruled that MLAs could not be forced to attend the Assembly session by being issued a whip by the party they belonged to, weakening the lynchpin of the Anti-Defection law.

Whatever the outcome, it is not good for democracy

  • While the judiciary will force some solution to end the current impasse, the larger question facing democracy is that of trust and transparency. Assemblies are elected for a five-year term, and the Anti-Defection law was brought to raise the threshold and stop the dismantling of a popular mandate through opportunistic manoeuvres, as it is unfolding in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The situation demands new guidelines by the Court to deal with the now-familiar malaise, beyond setting a reasonably quick deadline for a floor test.

What is a Floor Test?

  • A floor test can be explained as a motion initiated by the government in position seeking to know if it enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
  • As part of this procedure, the chief minister appointed by the governor will be asked to prove majority on the Legislative Assembly’s floor.
  • When a floor test is called for in the assembly of a state, the chief minister will move a vote of confidence and prove that he has the majority support.
  • If the floor test fails, the chief minister will have to resign.
  • The whole idea of a floor test is incorporated in the constitution of India to ensure transparency in the constitutional process.

Motion of No-Confidence

  • No-confidence Motion or Motion of No-confidence is one of different types of motions in Indian Parliament. The constitutional provision behind this motion is Article 75, which says that “Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha”.
  • Thus, a council of ministers stays in office as long as it enjoys the confidence of majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing motion of no-confidence by simple majority.
  • Process of no-confidence motion is mentioned under Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Lok Sabha.
  • Motion of No-confidence can be moved  only in Lok Sabha (Or State Legislative Assembly).
  • Rajya Sabha (Or state Legislative Council) does not have power to entertain such motion since it decides the fate of a popularly elected government.

Passing of No-Confidence Motion in Lok Sabha

  • Such a motion can be moved by any member of the house.
  • The member moving such motion is generally a member of opposition.
  • The motion need support of at least 50 members to be admitted.
  • Once admitted, it has to be passed within 10 days in the house.
  • The motion has to be passed by simple majority.
  • If passed, the Union Council of Ministers has to resign and government at centre falls. There is no impact on health of the government if such motion is not passed.

A REVIVAL OF MULTILATERALISM, STEERED BY INDIA

Focus: GS II – International relations, Foreign Policy of India

Why in news?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the nature of challenges we face today, and what we might face in the future. The nature of these challenges has 2 aspects:

  1. Cross national Character
  2. Cross-domain with strong feedback loop- disruption in one domain cascades into disruptions in others

Example:

The use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides may promote food security but have injurious health effects, undermining health security. Whether at the domestic or the international level, these inter-domain linkages need to be understood and inform policy interventions. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect this awareness.

COVID-19 too is of the same nature. It is a health crisis but is also spawning an economic crisis through disrupting global value chains and creating a simultaneous demand shock. It is a classic cross-national and cross-domain challenge.

Rise of nationalism: absolutely not the solution

The intersection of cross-national and cross-domain challenges demand multilateral approaches with empowered international institutions of governance.

For this, a spirit of internationalism and solidarity, a sense of belonging to a common humanity is required. But over the past decade and more, the world has been moving in the reverse direction – an upsurge in narrow nationalism.

The possible directions now

Interventions to deal with the COVID-19 crisis are so far almost entirely at the national level, relying on quarantine and social distancing. Instead of co-ordination at international level, we see blame game between the US and China.

The long-term directions countries may choose include:

  1. Desirable direction: All countries finally realise that there is no option but to move away from nationalistic urges and embrace the logic of international cooperation through revived and strengthened multilateral institutions and processes.
  2. Undesirable Direction: Nationalist trends become more intense, countries begin to build walls around themselves and even existing multilateralism is further weakened -United Nations and the World Health Organization

What is needed?

A reaffirmation of multilateralism – for this the world needs leadership and statesmanship, both in short supply. The US took up this role after 2008 crisis through the G-20 platform. The newborn platform crafted a coordinated response that prevented catastrophic damage to the global economy.

Is there a role for India today?

Being a key G-20 member , world’s 5th largest economy and with a long tradition of international activism and promotion of rule-based multilateralism, India surely has a role to play.

As the PM of India has pointed out, with the global challenges staring us we have to ‘Collaborate to Create’. The world today is inter-related, inter-connected and inter-dependent. Yet, we haven’t been able to come on a single platform or frame a Global Agenda to end world poverty, to end terrorism, to handle Climate Change issues.

  • Towards this end, India has shed its past policy of ‘Non-alignment’, which meant equal distance from every country. A defensive policy at best. Now, we have embraced a “neutral” policy of ‘Non-alignment’ by having friendship with all countries. This is the very essence of India’s foreign policy and the economic policy of India today.
  • Eg: India’s friendship with Iran and Saudi Arabia, and with the U.S. as well as Russia.
  • The Prime Minister has shown commendable initiative in convening leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations for a regional collaborative effort on COVID-19. This should be followed by an international initiative, either through the G-20 or through the U.N.

India’s foreign policy

India’s Foreign policy is hardly distinguishable from the basic principles of Indian foreign policy since Nehru. India’s non-alignment was anything but defensive. The international peace-keeping contribution that the Prime Minister referred to has its origins in Nehru’s sense of international responsibility.

  • India has always professed its desire to have friendly relations with all countries but has been equally firm in safeguarding its interests when these are threatened.
  • India’s non-alignment did not prevent it from forging strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with major countries. The India-Soviet partnership from 1960-1990 is an example just as the current strategic partnership with the U.S. is.
  • The foreign policy has always been rooted in India’s civilisational sense, its evolving place in the international system and its own changing capabilities.

The Prime Minister’s plea for global collaboration to deal with a densely inter-connected world is in line with India’s traditional foreign policy. A leadership role in mobilising global collaboration, more specifically in fighting COVID-19 would be in keeping with India’s traditional activism on the international stage.

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