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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 April 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 18 April 2023


Contents

  1. Unrestricted constitutional posts
  2. Droughts Increase as World Warms

Unrestricted Constitutional Posts


Context

  • The Indian Supreme Court recently made remarks that will affect the idea of the independence of the country’s various constitutional authorities.
  • The Court expressed its concern regarding the active role played by governors in state politics during a hearing of the “Sena versus Sena” case, and in another instance, it took a significant step towards ensuring the independence of the Election Commission of India by creating a committee to recommend qualified candidates for these constitutional posts.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Appointment to various Constitutional Posts.

Mains Question

Why are independent institutions necessary in a democracy? How did India’s founding fathers ensure the independence of the country’s various constitutional authorities?


The need of Independent institutions

  • Independent institutions are required in a democracy to prevent the elected government from using its authority arbitrarily.
  • The Constituent Assembly recognised various independent constitutional bodies in India to regulate various national sectors, and the President appoints these bodies while protecting their independence from executive pressure.

The different appointment procedures

  • The Constitution’s authors used straightforward language like “shall be appointed by the President” when appointing the Prime Minister (Article 75), the Attorney-General for India (Article 76), the Chairman and other members of the Finance Commission (Article 280), the Chairman and other members of the Public Service Commission (Article 316), and the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities (Article 350B).
  • Article 324 states that, “subject to any law made on that behalf by Parliament,” the President shall appoint the CEC and ECs.
  • The words “shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal” are used when allowing the President to appoint: o The CAG (Article 148) o The Governor (Article 155) o The judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court (Articles 124 and 217)
  • The President is authorised to appoint the Chairman and members of the National Commissions for SCs, STs, and BCs in Articles 338, 338A, and 338B, which use similar language.
  • However, Article 338 of the original document stated that “the President shall appoint a Special Officer for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”

The Explanation and Issues

  • The Supreme Court held in N. Gopalaswami and Ors v. The Union of India that the President acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, with the Prime Minister serving as the head in all matters which vest in the executive. However, in situations where the appointment of a particular constitutional authority is to be kept independent of the executive, the question arises as to whether such an interpretation would be in line with the thin line that separates the executive from the legis

Choice that is “unbounded and unhindered”

  • Choice that is “unrestricted and unfettered”: The Constituent Assembly emphasised the significance of preserving the independence of important constitutional positions, such as the CAG and Governor of a State, in order to guarantee accountability and transparency in governmental operations.
  • The Assembly agreed that the President should have “unrestricted and unfettered” discretion when selecting candidates for these positions.
  • The discussions resulted in the inclusion of the phrase “by warrant under his hand and seal” in the Article for CAG appointment, which guarantees that the President has full authority to name the CAG free from outside interference.Similar to this, the Assembly ensured that the President has complete discretion in selecting the Governor of a State by rejecting the proposal to limit the President’s choice from a panel of names.This emphasises how important it is to maintain these positions’ independence in order to protect the legitimacy of the democratic process and avoid undue influence on how the government runs.

Both changes were approved.

  • Articles 75, 76, 280(2), 316, and 324(2) of the Constitution specify requirements for candidates to meet in order to be given consideration for appointments made by the President.
  • Because the phrase “To be appointed by the President” is used in these articles, the President must follow the Prime Minister’s advice after ensuring that the necessary qualifications are met.

The Special Status

The phrase “by warrant under his hand and seal” is only used in reference to the appointment of certain constitutional positions, including judges, the chief accounting officer, and governors. This special status sets them apart from other constitutional positions and is meant to protect them from political or executive pressure.

Selection procedure for the Indian CAG

  • While the appointment of judges and ECs has been made free from the influence of the executive, it is still necessary to establish clear criteria and procedures for the appointment of the CAG of India in order to keep in mind the intention of the Constitution’s framers, which is clear from the debates in the Constituent Assembly.
  • The process of choosing a person for this position should start with a committee made up of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India, and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
  • This committee should shortlist names to be considered for appointment, and a panel of three names should be sent to the President for the final selection, as stated in Article 148 of the Indian Constitution.

Conclusion:

Independent constitutional authorities serve as checks and balances under the Indian Constitution, and the Supreme Court has recently emphasised the importance of maintaining their independence for the sake of the country.Every citizen should defend these principles and institutions because maintaining this independence is essential to maintaining the integrity of democracy.


Droughts Increase as World Warms


Context

The study found that flash droughts were more common than slower ones in tropical areas like India, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Amazon basin.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment: Disaster and disaster management.

Mains question

Describe the idea of “flash drought” and how it affects tropical regions’ agriculture and food security. What are the contributing causes of flash droughts, and what steps can be taken to lessen their effects? (250 words)


Key Findings:

  • In particular, in humid regions with agriculture dependent on rainfall, a study finds that human-caused climate change is to blame for an increase in the frequency of rapid-onset droughts known as flash droughts, which can harm crops within weeks.
  • According to the study, which was published in the journal Science, flash droughts will increase in frequency and speed as global warming continues. This could have serious repercussions for people living in humid regions whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed agriculture.

Rapid Onset and Disastrous Results

  • Flash droughts are a severe type of drought that happen when soil moisture is lost suddenly and quickly, causing crop damage within weeks.
    • These droughts typically occur when there should be little rain, but very little rain does.
    • This means that hot, sunny, and windy weather frequently causes large amounts of water to evaporate quickly, causing the land to dry out quickly.
  • Flash droughts are particularly harmful as they can develop very quickly, in just a few weeks, and cause severe harm to crops.
    • Because crops have not had enough time to adapt to the drought-like conditions, their effects are frequently more devastating.

Findings of the Study

  • A team led by hydrologist Xing Yuan of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in China examined data from computer models of soil moisture between 1951 and 2014.
  • To avoid including dry spells that were too brief to have much of an impact, they concentrated on drought episodes that lasted 20 days or longer.
    • The team discovered that in tropical regions like India, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Amazon basin, flash droughts occurred more frequently than slower ones.The researchers also discovered that the onset speed has been increasing, even for slow droughts, indicating a shift towards more frequent and swifter flash droughts.
    • Flash droughts have largely replaced slower droughts in some areas, such as the mid-latitudes of North and South America.

What Part Climate Change Plays

  • According to the study, climate change plays a significant role in the increased frequency of flash droughts.
    • The study found that flash droughts tend to occur more frequently and with greater intensity in regions that used to experience mostly slow droughts, and that more abrupt dry spells could have serious consequences for people in humid regions who depend on rain-fed agriculture.
    • This means that areas where crops depend on rainfall for growth and survival are affected by flash droughts.

Consequences for Agriculture

  • In humid areas, agriculture that relies on precipitation for water supply is vulnerable to sudden droughts.
  • Flash droughts are particularly harmful because they can destroy crops in a matter of weeks. o Farmers are given little time to prepare and take precautions to protect their harvest. o Soil moisture, which is crucial for important ecological and hydrological functions, can also be permanently damaged if exposed to flash droughts, having long-lasting ecological effects.

Conclusion

  • It is crucial for policymakers to address this issue and promote climate resilience in the agriculture sector globally. Flash droughts, a phenomenon that is increasingly brought on by human-induced climate change, pose a serious threat to rain-fed agriculture globally, especially in humid regions of the world.
  • Farmers can also lessen the effects of sudden droughts by implementing appropriate agricultural practises, such as water conservation, appropriate crop selection, and land management techniques.In the end, quick action is needed to lessen the effects of flash droughts on agriculture and way of life in vulnerable areas.

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