Bangladesh has reached out to the IMF for help
GS Paper 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Prelims exam: About Bangladesh Scenario
Mains exam: Significance of IMF
Why in News?
Bangladesh grew during the pandemic and continues to do so. The problem has been the war in Ukraine, which has badly hit its exports as demand has fallen in the West, and badly hit Bangladesh’s forex reserves.
- According to an IMF press release, Bangladesh will receive economic assistance worth $4.5 billion (around Rs 37,000 crore).
- This is a significant reversal for an economy that overtook India’s in terms of per capita income in 2020 on the back of robust economic growth for the better part of the last two decades, and especially since 2017.
- India that saw their GDP contract in 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic, the economy of Bangladesh actually grew during this period. Its GDP grew by 3.4% in 2020, by 6.9% in 2021, and it is expected to grow by 7.2% in 2022.
What’s wrong with Bangladesh’s economy?
The IMF states that “Bangladesh’s robust economic recovery from the pandemic has been interrupted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, leading to a sharp widening of the current account deficit, rapid decline of foreign exchange reserves, rising inflation and slowing growth.”
Russian invasion of Ukraine has meant four things
- Inflation spiked to uncomfortable levels as all kinds of commodities such as crude oil became costlier. The inflation rate in November was 8.85% as against 5.98% in November 2021. For the 12 months ending November, inflation grew at 7.48% much higher than 5.48% in the 12 months ending November 2021.
- Bangladesh’s current account balance has gone deep into a deficit both in absolute terms as well as a percentage of the GDP (see charts; source IMF). The current account balance looks at the gap between the money coming into a country on account of earnings via the export of goods and services and the money going out of the country via the import of goods and services. Bangladesh has typically been hugely dependent on its export earnings, but as the western economies slow down and their consumers put off their demand for a later date, Bangladesh suffers.
- Bangladesh’s currency, the Taka, weakened partly under the pressure of the surge in the US dollar and partly on account of the worsening current account deficit. A weaker Taka further aggravated the inflationary spiral because all imports become costlier still. In December 2021, it took 86 Taka to buy a US dollar. As of today, the exchange rate has worsened to 105 Taka a loss of more than a fifth of the currency’s value in less than a year.
- The weakness in the external front also resulted in Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves getting depleted. Last December, the forex reserves were valued at $46,154 million. As of now, they are just $33,790 million a fall of more than one-fourth of its total valuation.
How will IMF’s monetary assistance help?
- Creating additional fiscal space through higher revenue mobilisation and rationalisation of expenditures. This will allow the government to increase growth-enhancing spending as well as mitigate the impact on the vulnerable through higher social spending and better-targeted social safety net programs.
- Containing inflation with increased exchange rate flexibility so that the country can buffer external shocks better.
- Strengthening the financial sector by enhancing governance and regulatory aspects.
- Boosting growth potential by creating a conducive environment to expand trade and foreign direct investment among other things.
States can enact laws on uniform civil code
GS Paper: 2- Government Policies and Interventions, Parliament
Prelims exam: uniform civil code (UCC)
Mains exam: uniform civil code (UCC), Freedom of Religion
Why in News?
States are empowered to enact personal laws that decide issues such as succession, marriage and divorce, in their endeavour to secure a uniform civil code (UCC).
What did the law minister say?
- Entry 5 of List-III-Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution relates to personal laws such as intestacy and succession, wills, joint families and partition, marriage, and divorce.
- As a result, the States have the authority to pass laws related to them.
- Additionally, many states have stated in their electoral manifestos that they will incorporate UCC.
What is uniform civil code (UCC)?
- The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The code comes under Article 44 of the Constitution, which lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
UCC vs. Right to Freedom of Religion
- An individual’s fundamental right to religion is stated in Article 25.
- The ability of every religious group to “conduct its own affairs in matters of religion” is upheld under Article 26(b).
- The right to preserve distinctive culture is defined in Article 29.
Reasonable restrictions on the Freedom of Religion
- A group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subject to other fundamental rights, although an individual’s freedom under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality,” and other provisions relating to fundamental rights.
- The subject of including UCC in the fundamental rights chapter caused disagreement in the Constituent Assembly. The issue was settled by a vote.
- By a majority of 5:4, the fundamental rights subcommittee, which is chaired by Sardar Patel, determined that the provision was outside purview of fundamental rights, diminishing the significance of the UCC.
Implementing and Upholding UCC
- A court of law may enforce fundamental rights.
- The phrase “state shall endeavor” appears in Article 44, whereas other articles in the chapter on “Directive Principles” use phrases like “in particular strive”, “shall in particular direct its policy”, “shall be the responsibility of the state”, etc.
- Article 43 states that the “state shall endeavour through suitable legislation” however Article 44 does not include the phrase “by suitable legislation”.
- All this suggests that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.
Important fundamental rights or directive principles
- Fundamental rights are unquestionably more significant.
- Minerva Mills (1980) case: The Supreme Court in Minerva Mills (1980) held that the balance between Parts III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles) is the bedrock upon which the Indian Constitution is founded
- Giving one thing absolute precedence over another would disrupt the Constitution’s balance.
- However, Article 31C, which was added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, states that a law cannot be challenged on the grounds that it violates the FRs under Articles 14 and 19 if it is made to implement any directive principle.
About Personal Laws
- Laws that apply to a certain group of people based on their religion, caste, faith, and belief made after due consideration of customs and religious texts. The personal laws of Hindus and Muslims find their source and authority in their religious ancient texts.
- In Hinduism, personal laws are applicable to legal issues related to inheritance, succession, marriage, adoption, co-parenting, obligations of sons to pay their father’s debts, the partition of family property, maintenance, guardianship, and charitable donations. In Islam, personal laws apply to matters relating to inheritance, wills, succession, legacies, marriage, wakfs, dowry, guardianship, divorce, gifts, and pre-emption taking roots from Quran.
Various customary laws
- There is no one law that applies to all Hindus, Muslims, or Christians in the nation.
- Muslims of Kashmir were governed by a customary law, which in many aspects was at variance with Muslim Personal Law in the rest of the country and was, in fact, closer to Hindu law.
- Laws vary from region to region, even when it comes to Muslim marriage registration.
- There are more than 200 tribes in the Northeast, each having a unique set of customary laws.
- Local traditions of Nagaland are protected by the Constitution itself. Meghalaya and Mizoram enjoy comparable safeguards.
- In spite of codification, even reformed Hindu law protects customary practices.
What will Uniform Civil Code do?
- The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity.
- When enacted the code will work to simplify laws that are segregated at present on the basis of religious beliefs like the Hindu code bill, Shariat law, and others.
- The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all. The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
Hurdles in implementation of UCC
- Due to India’s diversity of religions and cultures, there are practical challenges.
- Minorities frequently view the UCC as an infringement on their right to practise their religion.
- It is often regarded as the state meddling in minority’ personal affairs.
- The timing is not yet right, according to experts, for Indian society to accept such UCC.
These issues, which are currently being entirely disregarded in the noise surrounding UCC, need to be addressed.
- First, how can personal laws be made uniform without affecting the unique characteristics of each and every part of society?
- Second, why do we think one community’s customs are outdated and unjust?
- Thirdly, have disparities that harm our society as a whole been eliminated by other uniformities?
- According to contemporary liberal conceptions, it should be the responsibility of the religious intelligentia to inform the community about its rights and obligations.
- The government must create a favourable climate for the UCC by clarifying the details and importance of Article 44 while maintaining everyone’s trust.
- Social change is a slow-moving phenomenon. They are frequently susceptible to media ills like false information.
- Our country’s social cohesion and cultural diversity must come first.
Social Progress Index (SPI)
GS Paper: 3- Inclusive growth and issues
Prelims exam: Social Progress Index (SPI)
Mains exam: Social Progress Index (SPI), Social development in India
Why in News?
Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister (EAC-PM) will release the Social Progress Index (SPI) for states and districts of India.
What is Social Progress Index (SPI) Report?
- SPI is a comprehensive tool intended to be a holistic measure of the Social Progress made by the country at the national and sub-national levels.
- It has been prepared by Institute for Competitiveness, headed by Dr Amit Kapoor and the Social Progress Imperative, headed by Michael Green.
- The report was mandated by Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.
Objectives of the Report
- With state and district-wise rankings and scorecards, the report aims to provide a systematic account of the social progress made at all levels in the country.
- The report also sheds light on the achievements of the districts that have performed well on the index and the role of the states in achieving social progress.
- A special section of the report provides an analysis of the Aspirational Districts of India, leading to a broader understanding of the social progress at the grassroots level.
- The report will act as a critical enabler and tool for policymakers in the coming years for achieving sustained socio-economic growth.
Components of Social Progress Index (SPI) Report
SPI assesses the performance of states and districts on three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. Within each dimension, there are four components.
- Basic Human Needs: The dimension of Basic Human Needs assesses the performance of states and districts in terms of Nutrition and Basic Medical Care, Water and Sanitation, Personal Safety and Shelter.
- Foundations of Wellbeing: The dimension of Foundations of Wellbeing evaluates the progress made by the country across the components of Access to Basic Knowledge, Access to Information and Communication, Health and Wellness, and Environmental Quality.
- Opportunity: The dimension of Opportunity focuses on aspects of Personal Rights, Personal Freedom and Choice, Inclusiveness, and Access to Advanced Education.
What is the need for Social Progress Index (SPI)?
- GDP is not a holistic measure of a nation’s development: It would be erroneous to say that advancements in the aforementioned areas are entirely unrelated to economic advancements.
- Social outcomes of developmental economics: The SPI’s main objective is to offer a reliable instrument to benchmark progress and stimulate progress within nation
- No single holistic parameter available: Numerous indicators, such as GHI and HDI, go beyond GDP, but only SPI accurately measures social advancement.
- Doing away with biased reports: Even the minor neighbours like Nepal rank higher than India, which does not show a respectable place in the ranking. India holds the lowest rank among the BRICS nations.
India test-fires Agni-V Ballistic Missile amid LAC heat
GS Paper: 3- Science and technology
Prelims exam: Agni missiles
Mains exam: Agni missiles, LAC skirmishes
Why in News?
- Days after Indian and Chinese troops engaged in combat in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India successfully conducted night trials of the Agni V nuclear-capable ballistic missile.
About Agni missile
- The Agni missile is a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles developed by India, named after one of the five elements of nature.
- Agni missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable, surface to surface ballistic missiles.
- The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (lGMDP) and tested in 1989.
- After its success, Agni missile program was separated from the GMDP upon realizing its strategic importance.
- It was designated as a special program in India’s defence budget and provided adequate funds for subsequent development.
Variants of Agni missiles
- Agni I: It has a range of 700–800 kilometres and is a medium range ballistic missile.
- Agni II: It also has a range of more than 2000 kilometres and is a medium range ballistic missile.
- Agni III: it is also a ballistic missile with an inter-medium range of more than 2,500 kilometres.
- Agni IV: It is a road-mobile launcher Inter-Medium Range Ballistic Missile with a range of more than 3,500 km.
- Agni V: Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of more than 5,000 km, it is currently the longest in the Agni series.
- Agni VI: The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the longest range in the Agni series, with a range of 11,000–12,000 km.
Significance of Agni Missiles
- The success of the Agni missiles conforms to India’s stated objective of having “credible minimum deterrent”, which supports the commitment to “No First Use”.
- Agni 5 is an agile missile since it is a “canisterized” missile. It implies that the missile can be launched from platforms of trains and roads, making it simpler to deploy and launch it more quickly.
- The canisterisation gives the missile a longer shelf life, protecting it from the harsher climatic conditions.
- India is one of the few countries with access to ICBMs.
- The Agni VI missile, which is currently under development, is expected to have a range of around 8,000 kilometres.
Ex KAZIND 22
Prelims exam: About Ex KAZIND
Mains exam: Significance of Ex KAZIND
Why in News?
Ex KAZIND 22 begins between India and Kazakh armies to enhance cooperation for UN Peacekeeping Operation.
- The armies of India and Kazakhstan are jointly conducting the training exercise KAZIND at Umroi in Meghalaya.
- The 6th edition of the joint exercise is being carried out from December 15 to 28.
- Exercise KAZIND 22 is witnessing the participation of Indian Army soldiers of the 11 Gorkha Rifles.
- The Kazakhstan Army is being represented by troops of the Regional Command, South. Through this joint exercise, the two armies aim to enhance their ability to operate together while undertaking counter-terrorist operations in semi-urban/jungle scenarios, under a UN peace enforcement mandate.
- The annual military exercise includes a Command Post Exercise (CPX) at the Battalion level and Company level Field Training Exercise (FTX) on sub-conventional operations.
- During the training exercise, troops from both armies will engage in a variety of missions ranging from joint planning, joint tactical drills, basics of special arms skills, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and raiding hostile targets.
- The joint training exercise between India and Kazakhstan army began in 2016 as Exercise Prabal Dostyk.
- In 2018, the exercise was upgraded to a company-level exercise and renamed as KAZIND.
- The India-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) established in 1993 is the apex bilateral institutional mechanism for developing trade, economic, scientific, technological, industrial and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
- Kazakhstan is India‘s largest trade and investment partner in Central Asia.
- As per statistics of Kazakhstan for 2019, total bilateral trade between India and Kazakhstan amounted to US$ 1.56 billion.
- Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre in Nur-Sultan is engaged in various cultural activities, including conducting yoga, dance and music classes; celebration of Indian festivals.