The Hindu Editorial Analysis- 21st December, 2020 Notes | EduRev

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1. The Right Call-

GS 2- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

Context

  • Andhra Pradesh High Court sought to convene a judicial inquiry into whether there is a “constitutional breakdown” in the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in the State.
  • The Supreme Court on Friday quite rightly stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Court order.
  • The top court’s intervention must be welcomed as it quickly halted an unjustifiable deed by the High Court that might have required the imposition of President’s Rule.

What is the President’s Rule?

  • President’s Rule refers to the suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre. The central government takes direct control of the state in question and the Governor becomes its constitutional head. The Vidhan Sabha is either dissolved or prorogued. Such a situation forces the Election Commission to conduct re-election within six months.
  • Article 356 of the Constitution of India gives the President of India the power to impose this rule on a state on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers. There are some conditions that the President has to consider before imposing the rule:
    (a) If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
    (b) The state government is unable to elect a leader as a chief minister within a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.
    (c) There's a breakdown of a coalition leading to the chief minister having minority support in the House, and the CM fails to prove the majority in the given period of time.
    (d) Loss of majority in the Assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the House.
    (e) Elections postponed on account of situations like natural disasters, war or epidemic.

Separation of Powers

  • The three branches of the government are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Although the three have distinct functions to perform, their scope sometimes meets.
  • In India, a separation of functions rather than of powers is followed. Unlike in the US, in India, the concept of separation of powers is not adhered to strictly.
  • However, a system of checks and balances have been put in place in such a manner that the judiciary has the power to strike down any unconstitutional laws passed by the legislature.
  • Today, most of the constitutional systems do not have a strict separation of powers between the various organs in the classical sense because it is impractical.

Judicial Overreach

  • The Supreme Court has been accused time and again of pronouncing judgements that are often termed as judicial legislation.
  • This happens when in the guise of giving guidelines and creating principles, they assume the powers of the legislature, for instance, by laying down the basic structure doctrine, the Supreme Court has put limitations on the legislature’s power to make and amend laws. 
  • The judiciary through the collegiums system has also been accused of infringing on powers of other branches. The essential function of the judiciary is to interpret the law rather than to be keen in the appointment of judges.
  • After all, ours is a parliamentary form of democracy wherein parliamentarians are elected by people and they have to face the people, they are filling the slogan of “We the People”; as compared to this, judges are enjoying fixed tenure.
  • They are accountable to none as such and they should concentrate on justice delivery rather than the appointments.

Constitutional Breakdown

  • The Supreme Court’s order comes in the wake of incidents pointing to a tussle between the judiciary and the elected government in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had, in an unprecedented letter to the CJI, complained about the alleged hostile attitude of the High Court against him and his government besides making controversial allegations against a senior Supreme Court judge.
  • This was even as the High Court ordered a CBI probe into what it termed was a social media campaign against the judges.
  • The High Court had suo motu called the State counsel to assist in deciding “whether in circumstances prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the court can record a finding that there is constitutional breakdown in the State or not”.
  • This was clearly a case of judicial over-reach by the A.P. High Court.
  • The question of a “constitutional breakdown” or the failure of constitutional machinery is dealt with under Article 356 of the Constitution, whose invoking comes under the prerogative of the executive and not the judiciary.
  • Supreme Court construed the scope of Article 356 in the S.R. Bommai case which allows the imposition of President’s Rule in the States, after being presented with a proclamation by the Union Council of Ministers.
  • These included ascertaining whether objective conditions exist which render it impossible to carry out governance in the State where the proclamation has been made and the process has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before consideration for judicial review.
  • But the A.P. High Court’s order seemed to have reversed the scheme of things by putting the cart before the horse in asking to ascertain if there is a “constitutional breakdown in the State”.
  • The Chief Justice of India noted that the Court found it to be “disturbing” before staying it.

Conclusion

  • The onus is now on the Supreme Court to put an end to the unseemly tussle between the judiciary and government in the State.
  • Ordering an internal inquiry into the Chief Minister’s letter would be a good beginning. A clear nullification of the High Court order will also ensure that such legal adventures impinging upon the separation of powers in the State are not repeated.
  • The A.P. High Court order on inquiry into a ‘constitutional breakdown’ was over-reach.

2. Smoldering Unrest- Violent Protest at New iPhone Facility Calls for New Laws

GS 3- Industrial growth and development

Context

  • On Saturday, global personal technology major Apple placed all fresh production orders on hold for its Taiwanese supplier Wistron.
  • This embargo may affect all Wistron units, but the trigger was one of the biggest expressions of industrial unrest in India in recent years - at a new facility set up by the firm in Kolar, Karnataka, to manufacture iPhones, among other things after several workers raised slogans protesting against non-payment of their dues, a protest that escalated.

Observations

  • In Kolar, Wistron claimed ?437 crores of damages from the incident even as the Centre and the State government reacted with alacrity, given the importance of the project for India to establish its credentials as an alternative manufacturing base to China.
  • Restarting operations may take a while now given that Apple’s own probe has found glaring lapses in Wistron’s treatment of its staffers.
  • Perhaps, if designated officials for hearing labor grievances had reacted adequately when Wistron’s 1,300-odd regular staffers or its 8,000 odd contract workers at Kolar raised a red flag about wages, this may not have come to pass.

Manufacturing Facility – A Boon To India

  • Job creation: The problem of unemployment could have been tackled with news jobs being created as a result of the new facility.
  • Foreign Direct Investment: These investments would lead to a boost in the economy and develop further FDI’s by other countries because of the trust and probability of profit margin in India.
  • Transformation into a manufacturing hub: There has been a stagnated growth in India’s manufacturing sector. Such investments will push India towards reaching the status of one of the global manufacturing hubs.
  • Ease of doing business: More investments in India sends out the message that the restrictions and bureaucratic protocols have been diluted and paves way for inviting future investments.

Way Forward

  • Enforcement of labour laws for employees’ benefit will make India an even more attractive and contrasting alternative to China where labour exploitation is rife.
  • With global firms under pressure to exhibit higher standards in environmental, social and corporate governance, India also needs to up its game on enforcing compliance with the laws of the land and treating labour-employer disputes in an even-handed manner.
  • It may be a good time for the government to rekindle a tripartite dialogue mechanism with trade unions and employers like the erstwhile Indian Labour Conference, not held since 2015.

Conclusion

  • With the country on the cusp of a new labour law regime being marketed as a business-friendly regimen, misgivings about their provisions or unresponsive systems for employees’ grievances can only foment more such unrest.
  • Inequitable labour-capital relations could hit India’s investment destination credo and thus India should move towards a more holistic approach through dialogue and new labour laws to protect the rights of workers to avoid any such incidents in the future.

3. Stopping the Slide of Health Care in India-

GS 2- Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Context

  • India’s health care is a dark echo chamber. It is 70% private and 30% public in a country where 80% people do not have any protection for health and the out-of-pocket expense is as high as 62%.
  • With public spending at 1.13% of GDP and a huge shortage of health-care workers particularly nurses and midwives, policy moves and plans appear like a sound in emptiness.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has revealed the mismatch between the overwhelming presence of the not so well-to-do and private health care with its revenue modelling that borders more on greed and rent gouging.

Associated Challenges With Public Health Systems In India

  • Lack of Primary Healthcare Services: The existing public primary health care model in the country is limited in scope.
  • Even where there is a well-functioning public primary health center, only services related to pregnancy care, limited childcare and certain services related to national health programs are provided. This represents only 15% of all morbidities for which people seek care.
  • Supply-side Deficiencies: Poor health management skills and lack of appropriate training and supportive supervision for health workers prevent delivery of the desired quality of health services.
  • Inadequate Funding: Expenditure on public health funding has been consistently low in India (approximately 1.3% of GDP). As per OECD, India's total out-of-pocket expenditure is around 2.3 % of GDP.
  • Overlapping Jurisdiction: There is no single authority responsible for public health that is legally empowered to issue guidelines and enforce compliance of the health standards.
  • Sub-optimal Public Health System: Due to this, it is challenging to tackle Noncommunicable Diseases, which is all about prevention and early detection.
  • It diminishes preparedness and effective management for new and emerging threats such as pandemic like Covid-19.

Steps To Be Taken

  • Enabling Preventive Care: In order to promote preventive care, the Union government has announced the conversion of primary health care centers into Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs).
  • These HWCs will act as the pillar of preventive care and ‘gateway’ for access to secondary and tertiary health services.
  • Thus, there is a need to accelerate the establishment of a network HWCs, for this extra funding through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be mobilised.
  • Bringing Behavioral Change: There is a need to ensure people eat right, sleep right, maintain good hygiene, exercise, and adopt a healthy lifestyle that necessitates concerted interventions at various levels of the system.
  • In order to catalyse people’s participation for healthy India, there is need for Swasth Bharat Jan Andolan on lines of Swach Bharat Abhiyan.
  • Cooperative Federalism: Given the major role that States have to play in creating strong health systems across the country, allocations provided by the Finance Commission can become the critical catalyst for transforming the nation’s health.
  • State governments should be incentivized to invest in creating a dedicated cadre for public health at the state, district and block levels.
  • More Funding: Public funding on health should be increased to at least 2.5% of GDP as envisaged in the National Health Policy, 2017.
  • Decentralization: There is a need to make nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) part of the core functions of Panchayati raj institutions and municipalities.
  • Creating a Nodal Health Agency: There is need to create a designated and autonomous focal agency with the required capacities and linkages to perform the functions of disease surveillance, information gathering on the health impact of policies of key non-health departments, maintenance of national health statistics, enforcement of public health regulations, and dissemination of information to the public.
  • In this pursuit, NITI Aayog’s National Health Stack is a step in the right direction, which needs to be operationalised as soon as possible.

Conclusion

  • Pandemics such as Covid-19 starkly remind us that public health systems are core social institutions in any society.
  • The government has made several efforts to address the shortfall in the public health system through the schemes like the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act, 2019, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, Pradhan Mantri - Jan Arogya Yojana etc.
  • However, the need of the hour is an adequate investment, for creating a health system that can withstand any kind of public health emergencies, deliver universal health coverage and meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
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