- The making of the modern public intellectual
- Religion and freedom: On India and communal violence
- Print money, save economy
- What is India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations?
- Needed: a pandemic patent pool
THE MAKING OF THE MODERN PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL
Focus: GS-IV Ethics
Law is not the source of its own moral authority and legitimacy.
A setback to democracy
- Speaking in the context of the colonial rule M.K. Gandhi reiterated that a law is binding only if it satisfies the unwritten codes of public ethics.
- Democratic regimes ought to respect the right of citizens to dissent.
- The arrests on scholars/activists in recent times are a depressing commentary on the nature of the present government.
- Sophisticated societies respect intellectuals because they subject the present to historically informed investigation, interpretation, critique and prescription. This is integral to the idea of democratic politics as self-critique.
- Politics establishes rules that govern multiple transactions of society. It cannot be its own defendant, judge and jury.
- If politics is, as Aristotle put it, the master science (science for Greeks is knowledge), it has to accept reflective and critical activity.
- Mobs are fickle, their rhetoric is blood-curdling, they hate debate, detest institutions, and hero-worship leaders.
- When intellectuals follow the mob or, worse, the leader, they pave the way for fascism, the destruction of institutions, the emergence of the hero, and pogroms of the minority.
- When intellectuals fail to live up to codes of public ethics, they uphold injustice. Their commitment to truth, reason and justice lapses; they become partners in injustice.
The Dreyfus Affair in history
- The first public intellectual was, of course, Socrates.
- The modern notion of the public intellectual, however, took shape in the tumultuous days of what has come to be known as the ‘Dreyfus affair’ in France in 1894.
- Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish Army officer, had allegedly handed over important government documents to the Germans.
- He was convicted of treason (later exonerated) amidst a roar of revolting anti-Semitism. When Dreyfus was stripped of his medals, the crowd shouted ‘Death to the Jew’. The atmosphere was charged, mob mentality ruled, and sane voices were drowned in the din.
Moral conscience of society
- The Dreyfus affair legitimised the idea that a public intellectual has to denounce injustice despite the power of the mob.
- Since then it has been held that intellectuals are not defined by what they are — professors, writers, artists or journalists — but by what they do.
- Intellectuals have to be reflective, philosophical beings, philosophical in the sense that they think about issues, addresses contemporary social problems and see them as the legacies of previously unresolved issues of social injustice.
- Public intellectuals can be the moral conscience of society, simply because they think.
-Source: The Hindu
RELIGION AND FREEDOM: ON INDIA AND COMMUNAL VIOLENCE
Focus: GS-II Social Justice
Religious freedom is of paramount importance, not because it is about religion, but because it is about freedom.
USCIRF Characterisation of India
- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) characterised India as a country of particular concern, in its annual report.
- The Indian government repudiated the report.
- The U.S. has used arguments of freedom, democracy, tolerance, and transparency as tools in its strategic pursuits, but there is no proof of any uniform or predictable pattern of enforcement of such moral attributes.
- Whether or not the U.S. government acts on its recommendation to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials depends on American strategic interests.
- Such reports contribute to the construction of an image of a country, and the Indian government is cognisant of this pattern.
- In March, the Indian government told Niti Aayog to track 32 global indices and engage with the bodies that measure them, to advance reform and growth.
- India advertises itself as a multi-religious democracy and as an adherent to global norms of rule of law. It also aspires to be on the table of global rule making. For a country with such stated ambitions, its record on religious freedom as reflected through events of the last one year is deeply disconcerting.
- Reputation is important for a country’s economic development and global standing but beyond that instrumental perspective, rule of law and communal harmony are essential for any functioning democracy.
-Source: The Hindu
PRINT MONEY, SAVE ECONOMY
Focus: GS-III Indian Economy
The Major global economies are responding to the COVID-induced recession by adopting unorthodox stimulus measures, including printing money.
The US, the European Central Bank, Japan, and even emerging economies such as Turkey and Indonesia are printing money to bring economies back to life. So, can India.
What is Printing Money?
- Central bank directly buys Govt. debt/bonds
- This injects cash into economy
- Akin to printing new money, though done electronically
- Central bank buys bonds from corporates, lenders
- Seller is able to get rid of illiquid assets and deploy funds elsewhere
What are Major Economies Doing?
- US Fed Reserve: Used it extensively to counter 2008 crisis. Same template in use for COVID crisis.
- European Central Bank: Has removed the limit on bonds it can buy from any single Eurozone country.
- Bank of England: Ready to temporarily lend money to govt., if needed
- Bank of Japan: Will buy unlimited amount of govt. bonds.
What did India do Earlier?
- Debt monetisation by RBI was the norm in 1980s, and up to late 1990s
- Govt deficits were monetised through ad hoc treasury bills
- In 1994, curbs were imposed under a pact between RBI and govt
- Arrangement phased out after 1997
- But this continued in another form — with RBI picking up unsubscribed public debt auction
- FRBM Act, 2003, barred RBI from buying primary issuances of govt debt
What India Can Do?
- Economy needs massive fiscal stimulus
- -ET estimates 9-10% of GDP must be spent
- -This translates into Rs 18-20 lakh crore
- -Budgeted borrowing in FY21 is Rs 8 lakh crore
- Market cannot support this borrowing.
- Interest rates will rise sharply.
- Pvt., sector/other borrowers will be denied credit.
- High interest rates/lack of credit will kill economic activity.
- So, only RBI can provide such funds by printing money.
Returns much higher than Risk
Some economists say injection of fresh demand can distort macro-balance. They point to possibility of:
- High inflation
- High current account deficit
- Currency depreciation
- Reckless spending could fuel NPAs
But massive economic contraction makes these unlikely
- Deflation, not inflation, is real risk with demand crashing
- Current account not a concern as there’s barely any trade
- Crude prices are low, and are likely to remain so
- Risk of credit binge low in current environment of caution
-Source: Economic Times
WHAT IS INDIA’S PERMANENT MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS?
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
India has appointed diplomat T S Tirumurti, currently serving as Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, as its Permanent Representative to the United Nations, succeeding Syed Akbaruddin.
What are Permanent Missions to the United Nations?
- The Permanent Mission is the diplomatic mission that every member state deputes to the United Nations, and is headed by a Permanent Representative, who is also referred to as the “UN ambassador”.
- According to the Vienna Convention: A permanent mission is a “mission of permanent character, representing the State, sent by a State member of an international organization to the Organization.”
- UN Permanent Representatives are assigned to the UN headquarters in New York City, and can also be appointed to other UN offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.
The Indian Permanent Mission at the UN
- The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations is the formal title of the Indian delegation to the United Nations (UN).
- There are currently eight Indians in senior leadership positions at the United Nations at the levels of Under Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General.
- India was among the select members of the United Nations that signed the United Nations Declaration at Washington on January 1, 1942.
- India also participated in the historic UN Conference of International Organization at San Francisco from April 25 to June 26, 1945.
-Source: Indian Express
NEEDED: A PANDEMIC PATENT POOL
Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day.
This year it provided us an opportunity to reflect upon the role of intellectual property (IP) in the ongoing health crisis and dedicate IP to finding a solution.
Vaccines are the only way ahead
- The purpose of creating and recognising patent rights is for the common public good, i.e., innovation should be made public in exchange for a limited monopoly. Thus, patents need to be disclosed to the public in order to enable further research.
- For human life to become normal again, vaccines or medicines are the only permanent solutions. Even by conservative estimates, it will take at least 6-10 months for any vaccine/drug to be available.
Blockades in making Vaccines Available everywhere
- Even when approval for marketing of a vaccine/drug is granted, it will be impossible for it to be made instantly available across the world.
- This is because even after approval for commercial production is granted, say, in one country, in order for the product to be available to the rest of the world, approvals will be required in each and every country.
- Then countries will have to gear up for instant manufacturing and marketing of the drug.
- For this to happen, continuous dialogue has to take place among innovators, manufacturers and supply chains.
- This requires massive efforts by private players, governments and international organisations.
- Innovations may be the subject matter of patent applications around the world.
Will patents create roadblocks or is there a solution?
- Governments and international organisations need to arrive at a consensus in advance to ensure that the system is ready.
- Creating hindrances through exclusivity claims, in the wake of a pandemic, will result in dividing countries, corporations and international organisations.
- Under the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) regime, there are several tools such as compulsory licensing that are available to ensure access to medicines.
Creating a patent pool – Way Forward
- One method by which aggregation and dissemination of innovative products can be ensured is by creating a patent pool.
- Patent pools are usually effective in aggregating, administering and licensing patents related to specific areas of technology.
- Such pools are usually managed by a central agency and the patents which become part of the pool are readily made available for licensing.
- All countries ought to have the right to implement these innovations without further permission from the patent-holders and without resorting to provisions such as compulsory licensing, state acquisition, etc.’
- Creation of a pool and immediate licensing will ensure that there are hundreds of manufacturers across the world. As a result, vaccines and medicines will be quickly available.
- Pooling of patent resources is also in line with the Doha Declaration on Public Health which is a part of the TRIPS agreement. This declaration recognises the need for taking measures to ‘protect public health’ and ‘promote access to medicines’.
- Public-private partnerships (PPP) need to be scaled up. Creation of the ‘PPP-pandemic patent pool’ at a global level, to pool all innovations, is the way forward.
-Source: The Hindu