20 March 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

Indian Express Editorial Analysis


1. An election debate not joined

Topic: GS2 – International Relations –
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this analysis delves into India’s foreign policy dynamics. It provides insights into India’s diplomatic successes, challenges, and the role of various stakeholders in shaping foreign policy.

  • In the midst of India’s current general election, a striking observation emerges: while domestic issues spark intense polarization, the realm of foreign policy remains relatively untouched by political argumentation.
  • This apparent absence of debate prompts questions regarding the reasons behind this phenomenon, particularly in light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s perceived success in diplomatic endeavors.

The Triumph of Modi’s Foreign Policy:

  • Prime Minister Modi’s tenure has been marked by a remarkable degree of success in steering India’s foreign policy.
  • Since assuming office in 2014, and bolstering his mandate in 2019, Modi has enjoyed significant control over both his party and the government, affording him greater latitude in shaping foreign relations.
  • Unlike his predecessors who grappled with coalition politics, Modi has operated with relative freedom in the realm of external affairs.
  • India’s growing economic significance has made it an attractive global partner, providing diplomatic leverage.
  • Moreover, a favorable geopolitical climate has presented strategic opportunities to enhance key international relationships.
  • Notably, the appointment of Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, a seasoned diplomat, as the Foreign Minister has further bolstered India’s standing in international affairs.

The Absence of Robust Debate:

  • Despite Modi’s apparent successes, the absence of a robust foreign policy debate raises eyebrows. While some may attribute this to a consensus on Modi’s approach, others argue that it reflects a waning interest in global affairs, particularly within the demoralized opposition.
  • The reluctance of the main opposition party, Congress, to challenge the government’s foreign policy trends underscores this point.
  • Even during instances where dissent could be expected, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi opted to align with the government’s stance, signaling a lack of divergence on critical issues.
  • The Left, which historically provided a counterbalance to mainstream foreign policy narratives, has also receded from the discourse, further diminishing opportunities for substantive debate.

The Evolution of Foreign Policy Discourse:

  • Over the last decade, there has been a notable expansion in popular interest in foreign policy, facilitated by the proliferation of think tanks, retired bureaucrats’ contributions, and increased social media engagement.
  • However, much of this discourse tends to align with the government’s narrative, occasionally veering into hyper-nationalism or partisan rhetoric.
  • Nonetheless, the evolving landscape underscores the need for a more purposeful and inclusive dialogue on India’s role in a rapidly changing global order.

Looking Ahead: Imperatives for a Renewed Discourse:

  • As political parties prepare their manifestos, there is a pressing need to reevaluate India’s foreign policy priorities amidst shifting global dynamics.
  • Four key areas demand attention:
    • first, understanding the changing international order marked by great power rivalries;
    • second, navigating the evolving global economic landscape;
    • third, addressing the complexities posed by a rising China across various domains; and
    • finally, redefining traditional foreign policy concepts such as non-alignment and strategic autonomy in line with India’s aspirations for global leadership and economic growth.


  • The absence of robust foreign policy debate amidst intense domestic polarization underscores the need for a more purposeful engagement with India’s evolving role in global affairs.
  • As the nation stands at a critical juncture, political leadership must transcend partisan divides to chart a coherent and forward-looking foreign policy trajectory that aligns with India’s aspirations on the world stage.

What are the Moral Aspects of India’s Foreign Policy?
  • Panchsheel (Five Virtues): They were expressly stated in the April 29, 1954, Agreement on Trade between the Indian and Chinese regions of Tibet, and they subsequently developed into the cornerstone of international relations practice worldwide.
  • These Five Principles are:
      • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
      • Mutual non-aggression
      • Mutual non-interference
      • Equality and mutual benefit
      • Peaceful co-existence

·       Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The World is One Family): The ideas of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, and Sabka Vishwas serve as its foundation.

    • Put another way, India sees the entire world community as one big family, where everyone lives in peace, collaborates to flourish, and has faith in one another.
  • Proactive and Impartial Assistance: India is prepared to advocate for democracy wherever it sees fit.
    • This is accomplished by actively supporting the strengthening and capacity-building of democratic institutions, but with the concerned government’s explicit consent. (For instance, Afghanistan).
  • Global Problem Solving Approach:On global concerns like the world trade system, climate change, terrorism, intellectual property rights, global governance, and health risks, India promotes a worldwide dialogue and global consensus.
  • India gave 60 million doses under the vaccine diplomacy programme, half on a commercial basis and the remaining 10 million as donations.

PYQ: The long-sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised Nations has disappeared on account of its new found role in the emerging global order”. Elaborate. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2019)
Practice Question:  Discuss the evolving dynamics of India’s foreign policy discourse in the context of changing global realities and domestic political landscape. Critically evaluate the imperative for a renewed foreign policy orientation in light of emerging geopolitical challenges and India’s aspirations for global leadership. (250 words/15 m)

2. The judges’ glass ceiling

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Judiciary
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this article provides insights into ongoing judicial reforms and policy initiatives aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the judiciary.

  • The Chief Justice of India’s recent proposal to reward “super-performing” trial court judges aims to incentivize better performance within the judiciary.
  • However, caution is warranted due to Goodhart’s Law, which warns against the unintended consequences of relying too heavily on a single metric for evaluation.
  • The potential pitfalls of such a system are exemplified by the infamous “Cobra Effect” during British rule in India, where offering a bounty on cobras led to unintended consequences of increased cobra breeding.

Challenges of Performance Incentivization:

  • Relying solely on quantitative measures, such as case disposal rates, may incentivize judges to prioritize quantity over quality, potentially compromising thorough case examination.
  • Moreover, the emphasis on boldness in handling difficult cases may create a pressured environment where extreme measures are taken to demonstrate competence, risking a hostile courtroom atmosphere.

Evaluating Trial Court Judges: Current Mechanisms and Gaps:

  • The evaluation of trial court judges currently relies on Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) prepared by High Court judges.
  • While this provides a foundation for assessment, persistent gaps exist, including the lack of scientific assessment of time and acumen required for different case categories and non-recognition of administrative duties.

Refinement of Evaluation Mechanisms:

  • Rather than scrapping the existing system, there is a need to enhance it by identifying broader, authentic metrics beyond mere quantitative outputs.
  • Emphasis should shift towards a nuanced evaluation considering judgment quality, adherence to ethics, and efficiency in case handling.
  • Widening the scope of persons consulted in assessing judges can mitigate potential bias.

Promoting Accountability and Excellence:

  • Rewarding “super-performing” judges must be accompanied by a commitment to refining the evaluation process.
  • Strengthening the existing mechanism with a broader range of metrics and feedback loops ensures a fair and transparent assessment, promoting accountability, excellence, and continuous improvement.

Addressing the Glass Ceiling in Judicial Advancement:

  • Justice Bela Trivedi highlighted the glass ceiling faced by trial court judges in advancing to High Court positions.
  • Less than one-third of High Court judge positions are occupied by district court judges, undermining the purpose of rewarding high-performing trial court judges.
  • Addressing this glass ceiling is essential alongside changes to the evaluation process.


  • Balancing incentives with a refined evaluation process is crucial for promoting excellence within the judiciary.
  • By addressing existing gaps, removing the glass ceiling, and fostering a culture of accountability, the judiciary can attract and retain the best legal talent, ensuring effective and fair dispensation of justice.

What are some of the significant reforms in the Indian Judicial system?
Some of the significant reforms undertaken in the Indian Judicial System are:

  • National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms (2011): It was launched with the objectives of increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system and enhancing accountability through structural changes.
  • Development of infrastructure facilities for judiciary (1993-94): As of July 2022, Rs. 9,13.21 crores have been released since the inception of the Scheme to improve judicial infrastructure.
  • Filling up vacant positions in judiciary: From 2014 to 2022, 46 judges were appointed to the Supreme Court, and 769 new judges were appointed to the High Courts.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Lok Adalats, Gram Nyayalayas, Online Dispute Resolution, etc., are used to ensure timely justice.
  • Commercial Courts Act 2015 stipulates mandatory pre-institution mediation and settlement of commercial disputes.
  • A Gram Nyayalaya online portal has also been created, wherein the States/High Courts upload data relating to Gram Nyayalayas, including monthly case disposal.
  • Initiatives to Fast Track Special Type of Cases: Fast track courts are being set up to expedite the justice delivery and reduce the pendency of cases involving heinous crimes, senior citizens, women, children, etc.
  • Leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Virtual court system: In the virtual court system, regular court proceedings are conducted virtually through videoconferencing.
  • e-Sewa Kendras: To provide e-filing services to lawyers and litigants to bridge the digital divide.
  • National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG): Under NJDG, lawyers and litigants can access status information of cases and orders/judgments.
  • National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP): It provides technology-enabled processes for serving and issuing summons.
  • Secure, Scalable & Sugamya Website as a Service (S3WAAS) Website: A new divyang-friendly website for e-committee, based on the S3WaaS platform, is available in 13 regional languages including English & Hindi.
  • Virtual Justice Clock: It is an initiative to exhibit vital statistics like case details, pendency, case disposed, etc., of the justice delivery system at the Court level
  • Legal Services Authorities are also part of the campaign to bring justice to the people and ensure that all people have equal access to justice despite various barriers like social and economic backwardness.

PYQ: Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  Critically analyze the proposal to reward “super-performing” trial court judges as a means to incentivize better performance within the judiciary. Evaluate the existing mechanisms for evaluating trial court judges, highlighting persistent gaps and areas for improvement. (250 words/15 m)

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