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Editorials/Opinions Analyses for UPSC 15 December 2021

Contents

  1. Going back to the foundation of the Republic
  2. The NMP is hardly the panacea for growth in India

Going back to the foundation of the Republic

Context:

A recent speech regarding distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva raises a debate that goes back to the very foundation of the Republic, and to the heart of the questions our Constitution sought to answer.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding of the Authority is Important
  2. Liberal Constitutionalism and Indian Society
  3. Rights Granted by the Constitution
  4. Constitutionalism in today’s context
  5. Challenges in front of constitutionalism
  6. Conclusion: Divided between two ideas

Understanding of the Authority is Important

  • The most important contribution of the Constitution to Indian civic nationalism was that of representation centred on individuals.
  • As legal scholar Madhav Khosla explains in his impressive book of legal history, India’s Founding Moment, the political apparatus of establishing a constitutional democracy in postcolonial India involved asking Indians to have a new understanding of authority. They would be liberated from British imperial despotism through submission to a new idea of Indianness that saw them as equal agents.

Liberal Constitutionalism and Indian Society

  • The founders of the republic chose to impose a liberal constitution upon a society that was not liberal.
  • They saw the principles of liberal constitutionalism — the centrality of the state, non-communal political representation, and so on — as essential to Indian democracy.
  • In keeping with contemporary liberal thought, they committed India to a common language of the rule of law, constructed a centralized state, but instituted a model of representation whose units were individuals rather than groups.
  • This was an attempt to free Indians from their prevailing understanding of their place in society and to place citizens in a realm of individual agency and deliberation that was appropriate to self-rule.

Rights Granted by the Constitution

  • The Constitution granted representation not to one’s predetermined religious identity but to one’s individual expression of political agency. That was why the individual vote was so important.
  • Democratic politics could not be reduced to the advocacy of pre-set interests.
  • At the same time, the Constitution acknowledged group rights, such as
    • the right of religious denominations to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes (Article 26(a)),
    • the right of a ‘section of the citizens’ to conserve a distinct language, script or culture (Article 29(1)).
  • There were also provisions to protect the interests of Scheduled Tribes (Article 19(5)) and a specific provision in Article 25 stating that a ‘heavy responsibility’ would be cast on the majority to see that minorities feel secure.

Constitutionalism in today’s context

  • Constitution makers explicitly rejected the notion of religion playing any role in citizenship, arguing that each individual voter exercised agency in the democratic project and should not be reduced to the pre-existing loyalties of religious affiliation.
  • This was far removed from the assumptions that have animated the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the threat to introduce a National Register of Citizens.

Challenges in front of constitutionalism

  • The challenge lies in reconciling restrictions on state power with popular rule — to prevent temporary majorities from completely undoing what the Constitution has provided.
  • The founders of the Indian republic held a conception of democracy that went beyond majority rule. They subordinated politics to law.
  • The rights of Indian citizens could not ‘be taken away by any legislature merely because it happens to have a majority’.

Conclusion: Divided between two ideas

  • This fundamental difference of opinion over religion continues to haunt our politics today.
  • The nationalist movement was divided between two ideas; those held by those who saw the religious identity as the determinant of their nationhood, and those who believed in an inclusive India for everyone, irrespective of faith, where rights were guaranteed to individuals rather than to religious communities.
  • India never accepted the logic that had partitioned the country: our freedom struggle was for all, and the newly independent India would also be for all.

-Source: The Hindu


The NMP is hardly the panacea for growth in India

Context:

The National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) envisages an aggregate monetisation potential of ₹6-lakh crore through the leasing of core assets of the Central government.

But the point is that it only underscores the need for policy makers to investigate the key reasons and processes which led to once profit-making public sector assets becoming inefficient and sick businesses.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) scheme
  2. Significance of NMP
  3. Key Challenges in the NMP scheme

About the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) scheme

  • With the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) launched by the government, it aims to raise $81 billion by leasing out state-owned infrastructure assets over the next four years (2021-25). The funds will then be used to build new infrastructure assets, helping boost economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
  • NMP is envisaged to serve as a medium-term roadmap for identifying potential monetisation-ready projects, across various infrastructure sectors.
  • The framework for monetisation of core asset monetisation has three key imperatives:
    • Monetisation of rights not ownership (this means the assets will have to be handed back at the end of transaction life,
    • brownfield de-risked assets and stable revenue streams, and
    • structured partnerships under defined contractual frameworks with strike KPIs and performance standards.
  • Annual targets under the four-year pipeline have been set at ₹1.62 trillion for FY23, ₹1.79 trillion for FY24 and ₹1.67 trillion in the following year.
  • The top five sectors by value under the government’s asset monetization programme are roads (27%), railways (25%), power (15%), oil and gas pipelines (8%) and telecom (6%).
  • NMP report has been organised in two volumes which were released today in the presence of Vice Chairman (Niti Aayog), CEO (Niti Aayog), and secretaries of infrastructure line ministries.
  • NMP will create employment opportunities, thereby enabling high economic growth and seamlessly integrating the rural and semi-urban areas for overall public welfare.

Significance of NMP

  • The NMP demonstrates that while the government may have constructed assets, the private sector may put them to better use.
  • NMP assists in generating value from idle assets without the Centre permanently relinquishing control of public sector assets to private parties.
  • The Centre has emphasized that the government will retain primary ownership of assets under the NMP.
  • NMP funds will be utilized to build infrastructure as part of the National Infrastructure Pipeline.
  • Private entities will utilize the asset for a specified period of time before returning it to the public authorities.

Essential steps

  • To strengthen public sector businesses by completely revamping their corporate governance structure in order to enhance operational autonomy of governance practices.
  • To revamp the performance monitoring system of central public sector enterprises to make them more transparent, objective and forward looking, based on sectoral indices/benchmarks.
  • To boost domestic production in the steel sector, viz. inclusion of “speciality steel”, incentives under the production linked incentive (PLI) scheme; etc.

Key Challenges in the NMP scheme

  1. Lack of identifiable revenue streams across various assets,
  2. Lack of level of capacity utilisation across gas and petroleum pipeline networks,
  3. Lack of a dispute resolution mechanism,
  4. Absence of regulated tariffs in power sector assets,
  5. Low interest among investors for national highways below four lanes.
  6. High cost for the end-consumer, lack of identifiable revenue streams in various assets, dispute resolution, presence of regulated tariffs in certain sectors are some hurdles NMP needs to cross. 
  7. Slow pace of privatization in government companies and less-than-encouraging bids.
  8. Lack of identifiable revenue streams in various assets, level of capacity utilization in gas and petroleum pipeline networks, dispute resolution mechanism, regulated tariffs in power sector assets, and low interest among investors in national highways below four lanes.

-Source: The Hindu

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