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GS PAPER II NEWS

Afghanistan Peace Talks

Why in News

China will chair a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as Beijing looks to step up its engagement with both Kabul and Islamabad amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Key Points

  • It is the fourth meeting between the three countries’ Foreign Ministers which will be held via video conference which would be chair by China.
  • The trilateral dialogue, started by China, would address “new uncertainties” in the wake of “the unilateral withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces at a critical stage” of the reconciliation process.
  • The fourth dialogue will focus on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghan cooperation, security and counterterrorism.
  • The U.S. Central Command stated that between 30­44% of the withdrawal of troops had been completed and a complete withdrawal would be done by September 11, 2021.

Historical Background

  • The historical Afghan Peace talk rooted their history with the beginning of 21st Century i.e., from 2001, when the U.S.-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in response to the 11th September terrorist attacks.
  • The invasion toppled the Taliban rule, which hosted al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack.
  • After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. President made a request to the Taliban leadership to hand over the prime suspect in the attacks but Taliban refused to do so, demanding evidence of his participation in the attacks.
  • Consequently, the U.S. with its NATO allies launched the United States invasion of Afghanistan, on 7th October, 2001.
  • By 17th December, 2001, the U.S. and its allies had driven the Taliban from power and begun building military bases near major cities across the country.
  • The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was later created by the United Nations Security Council to train Afghan National Security Forces to oversee military operations in the country so as to prevent any resurgence of the Taliban group.
  • The US has been on the ground and directly involved in the war for 18 years. Although al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now considered to be “diminished”, the war with the Taliban insurgents continues.
  • Ending the 18-year conflict has eluded former US presidents, and considered the war too costly.

Afghan Peace Talk

  • On 29th February, 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar which titled the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan.
  • The peace talks aim to bring peace to a country that has suffered four decades of bloodshed.
  • The provisions of the deal include the withdrawal of all American and NATO troops from Afghanistan, a Taliban pledge to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control, and talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
  • The United States agreed to an initial reduction of its force level from 13,000 to 8,600 by July 2020, followed by a full withdrawal within 14 months if the Taliban keeps its commitments.
  • The United States also committed to closing five military bases within 135 days and expressed its intent to end economic sanctions on the Taliban by August 27, 2020.
  • The deal was supported by China, Russia and Pakistan and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council.

India on Afghanistan Peace Talk

  • In March 2021, the Biden Administration framed ‘New Peace Plan’ which could mark the beginning of a new chapter in Afghanistan’s violent contemporary history that has played a major role in South Asia’s regional and international relations.
  • Under this plan, the USA proposed a regional meet under the United Nations auspices with foreign ministers of the USA, India, Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran to discuss a “unified approach” on Afghanistan.

India-Afghan Relationship

  • India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links.
  • The relationship is not limited to the governments in New Delhi and Kabul, but has its foundations in the historical contacts and exchanges between the people.
  • In recent past, India Afghanistan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was signed between the two countries in October 2011.
  • The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the two sides provides for:
  • Assistance to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions,
  • Education and technical assistance to re-build indigenous Afghan capacity in different areas,
  • Encouraging investment in Afghanistan’s natural resources,
  • Providing duty free access to the Indian market for Afghanistan’s exports support for an Afghan-led,
  • Afghan-owned, broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation, and
  • Advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.

GS PAPER : II

Vaccine policy for 18-45 years of age

Why in News

According to the Supreme Court, the corona virus vaccination policy of Government of India has put the onus of giving doses to adults in the below-45 years age group entirely on states and private hospitals is “prima facie arbitrary and irrational.

Key Points

  • Picking holes in the national vaccination policy, the top court held that the liberalized policy introduced on May 1 “conflicts with the constitutional balance of responsibilities between the Centre and states”.
  • The Court stated that due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the central government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first 2 phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18-44 years, is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational.
  • The issue has also sparked a row between some states and the Union government. States such as Delhi and West Bengal stated that they have been left to fend for themselves to secure doses for the under-45 age group, alluding to Centre’s stand that doses can directly be bought from vaccine makers also based outside of India.
  • Several state governments opened bids for purchase orders, but the response has been muted with most key vaccine makers saying they deal only with national governments.
  • The court, which noted submissions may be the Union government on May 9, said that if the Union government’s “unique monopolistic buyer position” was the only reason for it to be receiving doses at a lower price, it was important for the so-called liberalised vaccination policy to be examined under Article 14 of the Constitution since “it could place severe burdens, particularly on States/UTs suffering from financial distress”.
  • Our Constitution does not envisage courts to be silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies. Judicial review and soliciting constitutional justification for policies formulated by the executive is an essential function, which the courts are entrusted to perform.
  • The government decided the doses will be split in a ratio of 50:25:25 between the Centre, states/UTs, and private hospitals. While the Centre is paying manufacturers ₹150 per dose for Covishield, states are buying it for ₹300 a dose.
  • Similar disparity in prices apply to Covaxin as well.

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution

  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution deals with ‘Right to Equality’.
  • It is a part of Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution.
  • It states that the “State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”

GS PAPER III

Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme

Why in News

A high-level committee headed by Union Cabinet Secretary has suggested a revamp of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to boost domestic manufacturing.

Key Points

  • The Committee also suggested making the initiative more investor-friendly by “regular hand-holding” and removing hurdles at the earliest.
  • The panel, in a recent meeting with different ministries, called for setting up an effective “institutional mechanism” to constantly engage with companies that have decided to participate in the ~1.97 trillion schemes.
  • The mechanism will focus on addressing challenges faced by investors including global giants, which have shown interest in participating in the National Democratic Alliance government’s flagship scheme.

Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme

  • In April 2020, the Centre instituted the Productive-linked Initiative Scheme to improve cost competitiveness of locally produced goods, create employment opportunities, curb cheap imports, and boost exports.
  • It is announced as a part of the National Policy on Electronics, the IT ministry.
  • The first three PLI Schemes were approved earlier in March, 2020 and these were named
  • Mobile Manufacturing and Specified Electronic Components,
  • Critical Key Starting materials/Drug Intermediaries & Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, and
  • Manufacturing of Medical Devices
  • In November 2020, the PLI scheme was extended to ten more sectors, including:
  • Automobiles and Auto Components,
  • Pharmaceuticals Drugs,
  • Specialty Steel,
  • Telecom & Networking Products,
  • Electronic/Technology Products,
  • White Goods (ACs and LEDs),
  • Food Products,
  • Textile Products: MMF segment and technical textiles,
  • High efficiency solar PV modules, and
  • Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery.
  • The PLI scheme is designed with four objectives:
  1. Target specific product areas;
  2. Introduce non-tariff measures in order to compete more effectively with cheap imports;
  3. Blend domestic and export sales to make manufacturing competitive and sustainable; and
  4. Promote manufacturing at home while encouraging investment from within and outside India.
  • The application process is not complicated in this scheme, and the incentive offered is very simple and tied to conditions that are specific and easy to calculate. The incentive is 4-6% of incremental sales with a defined base year.

Significance of PLI scheme

  • The idea is to engage with industry regularly, monitor various milestones achieved (as part of the scheme).
  • A system will have to be introduced to enable prompt decision making and look into the “legitimate requirements” of the companies availing of incentives under the scheme.

Conclusion

  • While there has been no formal announcement regarding the easing of norms, a process-driven method to address the industries’ woes can boost investor confidence and promote ease of doing business.

GS PAPER III

International Labour Organization (ILO) report on Global Jobs Market

Why in News

According to the new Report of International Labour Organization, at least 220 million people expected to remain unemployed globally this year, well above 187 million recorded in 2019.

Key Points

  • The United Nations agency forecast the outlook improving to 205 million unemployed next year, still well above the 187 million recorded in 2019 before the coronavirus crisis wreaked havoc.
  • According to ILO models, that equates to a global unemployment rate of 6.3 percent in 2021, falling to 5.7 percent in 2022 but still up on the pre-pandemic rate of 5.4 percent in 2019.
  • According to the ILO report, employment growth will be insufficient to make up for the losses suffered until at least 2023.
  • It is estimated that working hours losses in 2020 relative to 2019 amounted to the equivalent of 144 million full-time jobs in 2020, a shortfall that still stood at 127 million in the second quarter of this year.
  • Unemployment does not capture the impact on the labour market whereas hiring in the United States had resumed after massive job losses, many workers elsewhere, particularly in Europe, remained on reduced-hours schemes.
  • Women, young people and the 2 billion people working in informal sectors have been hardest hit, with 108 million more workers worldwide now categorised as poor or extremely poor compared to 2019.
  • Five years of progress towards the eradication of working poverty have been undone.
  • Schooling has been disrupted in many places due to the need to stem spread of the disease.
  • The ILO estimated that those jobs that are created are likely to be lower quality, with the problem most severe in poorer countries with large informal economies.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards.
  • It was founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations;
  • The ILO consists 187 member states: 186 out of 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands.
  • It headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland, with around 40 field offices around the world.
  • ILO aimed at ensuring accessible, productive, and sustainable work worldwide in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity.

GS PAPER III

Model Tenancy Act

Why in News

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the Model Tenancy Act to be sent to the States and Union Territories to enact legislation or amend laws on rental properties.

Model Tenancy Act

  • The Model Tenancy Act aimed at opening up of the vacant housing stock for rental housing purposes and helping bridge the trust deficit that exists between tenants and landlords by clearly delineating their obligations.
  • To ensure speedy redressal of disputes, the Act calls for establishing a separate Rent Court and Rent Tribunal in every state/UTs to hear appeals for matters connected to rental housing.
  • It also seeks to establish an independent authority in every state and Union Territory for registration of tenancy agreements.
  • Only the rent court and no civil court will have the jurisdiction to hear and decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant and matters connected with it.
  • It calls for disposal of complaints and appeals by the Rent Court and Rent Tribunals within 60 days.
  • Under the Model Tenancy Act, unless otherwise agreed in the tenancy agreement, the landlord will be responsible for activities like:
  • Structural repairs except those necessitated by damage caused by the tenant,
  • Whitewashing of walls and painting of doors and windows,
  • Changing and plumbing pipes when necessary and internal and external electrical wiring and related maintenance when necessary.
  • On his part, tenant will be responsible for:
  • Drain cleaning,
  • Switches and socket repairs,
  • Kitchen fixtures repairs,
  • Replacement of glass panels in windows, doors and
  • Maintenance of gardens and open spaces, among others.
  • The Act will apply to premises let out for residential, commercial or educational use, but not for industrial use.
  • It also won’t cover hotels, lodging houses, inns, etc. This model law will be applied prospectively and will not affect existing tenancies.

Significance of New Model Tenancy Act

  • The new Tenancy Act will help overhaul the legal framework with respect to rental housing across the country, which would help spur its overall growth.
  • It will enable creation of adequate rental housing stock for all the income groups thereby addressing the issue of homelessness.
  • It would also prescribe the norms for lease agreements, deposits, dispute handling and other aspects of rental properties.
  • It will enable institutionalization of rental housing by gradually shifting it towards the formal market and facilitate unlocking of vacant houses for rental housing purposes.
  • The Model Tenancy Act is prospective, which means it won’t affect the owner-tenant relationship as it stands today under the Rent Control Act of the respective state.

Challenges

  • The Act is not binding on the states as land and urban development remain state subjects. It is still a matter of choice for states and Union Territories to repeal or amend their existing Acts.
  • The Model Act is prospectively applicable and will not affect the existing tenancies. The repeal of rent control Acts can be governed by political exigencies.