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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 January 2022

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 January 2022

Contents:

  1. Why Republic Day is celebrated
  2. For a civic solidarity
  3. Coup in Burkina Faso

Why Republic Day is Celebrated

Context:

The Preamble of the Constitution declares that India is a ‘Republic’. We Indians cherish being a republic every year on 26th January since 1950.

Relevance:

General Studies Paper – II: Indian Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India – A ‘Republic’
  2. Meaning of Republic and its significance
  3. Difference between monarchical and republican forms of government
  4. Republic secures Political Freedom
  5. A Democratic Republic
  6. Who are counted as Citizens?
  7. Way Forward

India – A ‘Republic’:

India describes itself as a ‘Republic’ and it is integral to its political identity. This is not just a descriptive but also a strong, ethical, normative claim. Being republic means that if our political identity loses its republican character, we must quickly act to restore it.

India proudly celebrates its 73rd Republic Day today. The parade and the ritual surrounding it are meaningless unless we get the spirit behind the event.

Meaning of Republic and its significance:

  • What is Republic?
    • The English word ‘republic’ is derived from the Latin ‘Res publica’ — the public thing.
      • Republic primarily means ‘anti-monarchist .
    • Politically it means a transparent decision making in view of all the people.
    • It offers space for the people to put forward their claims about what is good for the community and their collective interests.
    • A republic is ‘government by free and open discussion’. Every laws and course of actions are made after discussing, debating and deliberating upon them.
  • What is Monarchy?
    • The Greeks define monarch as the ‘rule of one’. It is a form of government where one person rules and all others obey. The sovereign authority is vested in one person and all others are his subjects.
    • The Greek definition of the term, also covers rule by modern dictators (autocracy).
    • Indians usually associate monarchy with the hereditary rule of Maharajas and Maharanis
  • What is wrong with the rule of one person?
    • One of the qualities of Monarch is that it subjects people to the whim and fancy of one person, to his arbitrary will which can be harmful.
    • All powers are vested in him. He becomes the supreme lord. He becomes judge and jury, makes and executes laws, decides when they are violated, and rewards and punishes as he pleases.
    • He is the sole authority. His decisions that largely affect people are taken without discussion, mysteriously, privately, and expressed as revealed truth. It is neither transparent nor accountable.
    • It is this tyrannical potential of the rule of one person that is absolute and arbitrary use of power is the main cause of fear.

Difference between monarchical and republican forms of government:

  • Monarchy entails surrender to the arbitrary power of another person, allowing whimsical intrusion in our choices, living at the mercy of the master.
  • People who live for long periods under subjection of others tend to develop slavishness, a mental torpor difficult to dispel. They are rendered without the capacity to think for themselves or take decisions about their own lives.
  • For this reason, Gandhi used the idea of Swaraj to challenge not only political colonisation by the British, but the colonisation of our minds.
  • It is because rule by one makes people unfree and enslaves them that the republic, its alternative, is strongly associated with freedom.
  • To have a republic is to have a free people. This is why Gandhi’s swaraj is an important republican idea.
  • Republican tradition emphasises the importance of citizenship. Being a citizen is citizen is to belong to a political community where one can express oneself and act freely. They enjoy political liberty rather than being mere subjects.

Republic secures Political Freedom:

  • Political liberty: It guaranteed by the Republic does not mean that people have the freedom to do whatever they please. This is often described as ‘negative liberty’.
    • It simply means to live by laws made by the citizens themselves, which is a product of their own will and not the arbitrary will of others.
    • This explains why republics have a constitution generated by a deliberative body of citizens which provides the basic law of the land, the fundamental framework of governance.
  • The phrase “We, the People” in the Constitution is not a mere literary embellishment but central to a republican constitution.
  • The willingness to live by self-made regulations, but enforced by public power or the state also means that those who value a republic are not against states per se but against those that take away our political freedom.

A Democratic Republic:

  • It appears that the word ‘republic’ covers all that is meant by the term ‘democratic’. This was in fact the view initially taken by our constitution makers since the word ‘republic’ contains the word ‘democratic’, it may be unnecessary to use both.
  • However the word ‘Republic’ was made explicit because B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru rightly conceded that since an undemocratic republic is conceivable, a separate commitment to democratic institutions is necessary. It was wise to keep both terms in the Preamble.
  • The idea of the republic conveys that decisions shall be made not by a single individual, but by citizens after due deliberation in an open forum.

Who are counted as Citizens?

  • The idea of the republic conveys that decisions shall be made not by a single individual, but by citizens after due deliberation in an open forum.
  • But this is consistent with a narrow criterion of who counts as a citizen.
  • Non inclusive Republics:
    • Ancient Roman republics were not inclusive.  Ancient India probably had aristocratic clan-republics which were far from democratic.
    • In ancient Greece, slaves, women, and foreigners were not considered citizens and excluded from decision-making.
    • Indeed, for many Greek thinkers, democracy had a negative connotation precisely because it was believed to involve everyone, including plebeians, what we contemptuously call ‘the mob’.
  • The word ‘Democratic’ in our constitution implies that citizenship be available to everyone, regardless of their wealth, education, gender, perceived social ranking, religion, race, or ideological beliefs. The word ‘democracy’ makes the republic inclusive. No one is excluded from citizenship.
    • For example, all have the right to vote. At the same time, if voting, for practical reasons, is restricted only to choosing representatives who, in the name of the people, make laws and policies, then citizens must at least have the right to be properly informed, seek transparency and accountability from their government.

Way Forward:

  • In a Republic, citizens must be vigilant. They should act as watchdogs, monitor their representatives, and retain the right to contest any law or policy made on their behalf.
  • By going beyond mere counting of heads, the term ‘republic’ brings free public discussion to our democratic constitution. It gives depth to our democracy.
  • It is very important that the decisions taken by the representatives of the people be properly deliberated, remain open to scrutiny, and be publicly, legally contested even after they have been made.
  • In the recent example where farmers came out on the streets to peacefully challenge the three farm laws made by the current government, they exercised not only their democratic rights but also exhibited the highest of republican virtues.
  • Such political act of citizens makes the Republic day celebration meaningful.

-Source: The Hindu


For a civic solidarity

Context:

The National Human rights Commission has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an action taken report against the racial profiling and relocation of the Chakma and Hajong communities in the Arunachal Pradesh

Relevance:

General Studies Paper – II: Government Policies & Interventions;

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are Chakmas and Hajongs?
  2. What is the issue?
  3. Chakma/Hajong communities deserve citizenship, not racial profiling
  4. Way Forward

Who are Chakmas and Hajongs?

  • Their history can be traced back to early 1960s, to the construction of the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river. They were the residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in erstwhile East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh)
  • These communities lost their land to the construction of the dam and fled to their homes and sought asylum in India.
  • Since then they have been well integrated in villages in the southern and south-eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Presently, most of the Chakma/Hajong community members were born in the State and have been living peacefully
  • Supreme Court orders related to these Communities:
    • In a Judgement in 1996, the Court had stated that the “life and personal liberty of every Chakma residing within the State shall be protected”.
    • In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the State to grant them citizenship, but this had not yet been implemented.

What is the issue?

  • The Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister had announced, in August 2021, that these communities world be relocated outside the state after conducting a census.
  • The so-called State-driven census would have amounted to a racial profiling of the two communities that have also been the subject of an antagonist and nativist campaign by organisations such as the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union.
  • Also the recent Statement by the Union Home Minister about their relocation has escalated tensions.

Chakma/Hajong communities deserve citizenship, not racial profiling:

  • It can be difficult for the State Government in the North-east to balance the interests of native tribal communities and those of legitimately settled refugees and their progeny, However this is not an impossible task.
  • Misinterpretation of Rights: The Constitution of India has guaranteed these states special rights to protect the tribal people, their habitat and their livelihoods.
    • However, this was often misinterpreted as favouring native Tribals and fanning hatred against refugees instilling democratic fears among the communities such as Chakma/Hajong in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
  • Political Interests:
    • Unfortunately, political forces have also limited themselves to using ethnic fissures for power and sustenance.
  • These communities after seeking asylum in India are well settled in the region contributing to the diversity of culture and the economy.
    • Uprooting these communities would be a violation of their rights and repeating a historic wrong.

Way Forward:

  • Need for concensus: A dialoguebetween the State government, civil society and those of the Chakma/Hajong communities can certainly help in addressing the concerns in implementing the Court judgment of 2015.
  • Implementing the NHRC directive should be a step in the process to reverse that course.

-Source: The Hindu


Coup in Burkina Faso

Context:

Recently the Country’s Army overthrew the democratically elected government of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré in Burkina Faso.

Relevance:

General Studies Paper – II: India and its Neighbourhood, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background
  2. Failure of Democratically elected government
  3. Series of Coups in West Africa
  4. Will Military coup help resolve the crisis?
  5. Way Forward

Background:

  • Burkina Faso is one of the countries in West Africa. Mr. Kaboré was elected as the President in 2015 almost at the same time jihadists, belonging to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, were expanding across the Sahel region.
  • Since then, the Landlocked country has been fighting an Islamist insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali and Niger.
  • Over the last seven years, at least 2,000 people have been killed and over one million displaced in this country of 22 million people.
Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC - 26 January 2022

Failure of Democratically elected government:

  • One of the most peaceful countries is currently stuck in a deadly cycle of jihadist violence demonstrates serious failure of the democratically elected Government to contain the growing instability.
  • The Military and the civilians saw the Kaboré government as ineffective, corrupt and out of touch with the ground reality.
  • The coronavirus pandemic and associated economic crisis has pushed the people into further misery.
    • This was evident in the recent uprising of the people that touched off in the streets and was followed by the mutiny

Series of Coups in West Africa:

  • The region has witnessed a series of successful coups in recent months.
  • Guinea: In September 2021, special forces overthrew the government and captured power.
  • Mali: In May, 2021, the military staged a coup for the second time in less than a year.
  • Chad: The President was killed in conflict in April
  • Sudan: The military throwing out a power-sharing agreement it had reached with civilian revolutionaries and taking the levers of the state in its hands.

Will Military coup help resolve the crisis?

  • The Army has toppling governments and capturing power with ease in all these countries sends warning signals to other elected governments in the continent.
  • Though the Army while taking power promised to conduct elections to reinstate legitimate government soon shifted its focus in tightening its grip on power rather than resolving the crises. This could also be the case for Burkina Faso.
  • The coup in Burkina Faso was welcomed by the protestors with the hope that at least they could tackle the jihadist violence and provide better security.
    • However the support could be short-lived as the Army in quest for power has to face the terrorists spread across the state along with the post-coup political divisions and instability at home.

Way Forward:

  • A military coup without a political legitimacy cannot be a solution to the many crises these countries face. It can worsen the situation even more.

-Source: The Hindu

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