23 March 2024 : Indian Express Editorial Analysis

Indian Express Editorial Analysis


1. A narrow resolution

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions, agencies and fora – their structure, mandate.

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the roles and functions of international organizations like the UN, and their efficacy in addressing global issues.


  • In 2022, Pakistan proposed a resolution at the United Nations to establish an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.”
  • Despite objections from countries like India, the UN proceeded to declare March 15 as the day to combat Islamophobia.
  • This initial step set a precedent for further actions addressing Islamophobia, culminating in the recent demand for the appointment of a special envoy to combat Islamophobia.

UN’s Response to Islamophobia:

  • The UN’s decision to establish a designated day to combat Islamophobia signifies its acknowledgment of the issue’s global significance.
  • However, this move sparked controversy as some nations argued for a broader scope encompassing all forms of religiophobia.
  • India, in particular, emphasized the need for inclusivity by highlighting instances of discrimination against various religions, not just Islam.

India’s Arguments:

  • India’s representatives raised compelling arguments against singling out Islamophobia, stressing the prevalence of discrimination against multiple religions.
  • Ambassador T S Tirumurti advocated for acknowledging an “abundance of phobias” and incorporating the principle of pluralism into the resolution.
  • India warned against setting a precedent that could divide the UN along religious lines and urged the organization to combat all forms of intolerance and religious violence.

Pakistan’s Hypocrisy:

  • Despite championing the resolution against Islamophobia, Pakistan faces criticism for its own religious intolerance and persecution of religious minorities.
  • The Indian representative highlighted Pakistan’s systematic discrimination against Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and non-Abrahamic religions like Ahmadiyya and Baha’is.
  • Pakistan’s advocacy for combating Islamophobia appears hypocritical given its own record of religious persecution.

Proposed Amendments and Opposition:

  • Several countries, including Belgium, proposed inclusive amendments condemning discrimination based on religion or belief.
  • Suggestions were made to expand the role of existing UN representatives, such as the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, to combat Islamophobia.
  • However, Pakistan, supported by Islamic countries, vehemently opposed inclusive amendments, insisting on addressing Islamophobia exclusively.


  • The UN’s response to Islamophobia reflects both acknowledgment of a pressing global issue and the challenges of addressing it within a diverse international community.
  • While efforts to combat Islamophobia are commendable, criticism of selective attention and hypocrisy among advocating nations underscores the complexities of addressing religious intolerance on a global scale.
  • Moving forward, inclusive approaches that recognize and address discrimination against all religions are essential for fostering tolerance and peace.
Historical Context of Islamophobia
  • The term “Islamophobia” has evolved into a political tool, particularly since the 1980s, utilized by Islamists to suppress dissent and justify violence.
  • Instances like Ayatollah Khomeini’s Fatwa against Salman Rushdie and demands from organizations like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation illustrate the weaponization of Islamophobia discourse.
  • However, the Nahdlatul Ulama declaration from Indonesia highlights internal factors within Islam, such as extremist interpretations, contributing to the rise of Islamophobia globally.


PYQ: 2021 UPSC CSE Prelims:

Consider the following statements:

1. 21st February is declared to be the International Mother Language Day by UNICEF.

2. The demand that Bangla has to be one of the national languages was raised in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)

Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of the United Nations’ declaration of an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” and the subsequent debate surrounding the appointment of a special envoy to address Islamophobia. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the UN’s approach in addressing religious intolerance and propose inclusive strategies for combating discrimination based on religion or belief. (250 words/15 m)

2. Who pays, who wins

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Important aspects of governance: Transparency and accountability.

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the Electoral Bonds Scheme and its impact on transparency and accountability in political funding. It provides insights into the mechanisms through which political parties are funded and the potential implications on democratic processes.


  • The Electoral Bonds Scheme, introduced by the Indian government, has come under scrutiny for its implications on transparency and accountability in political funding.
  • The recent Supreme Court judgment scrapping the scheme sheds light on the nexus between the ruling party and business houses, prompting industry platforms to demand a reversal, citing national interests.

Government’s Attempts to Conceal Nexus:

  • Following widespread exposure of the corporate-ruling party nexus on social media, the government took measures to suppress information by establishing a Fact Check Unit under the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
  • This move aimed to curtail freedom of speech and dissent, but fortunately, the Supreme Court intervened to stay its implementation, preventing potential censorship during the election campaign.

Concealment of Corruption:

  • The ruling party’s concerted efforts to conceal its nexus with business houses highlight the significance of transparency in governance.
  • The RSS’s open support for the scheme adds a layer of political dimension, suggesting a broader ideological alignment with the ruling dispensation.
  • However, transparency remains the biggest threat to such alliances, as it exposes the quid pro quo arrangements between political parties and corporate entities.

Corruption and Abuse of Power:

  • The electoral bond data reveals alarming trends of corruption and abuse of power within the government.
  • Instances of raids and searches by central agencies, followed by frozen cases after receiving donations from tainted business houses, point to systemic flaws and manipulation of state machinery for political gains.
  • This challenges the government’s claims of upholding integrity and accountability in governance.

Need for Electoral Reforms:

  • The issue of funding in India’s electoral system has long been recognized as requiring urgent reform.
  • Various committees have proposed state funding of elections to ensure a level playing field and curb the influence of money power.
  • Additionally, there is a pressing need to impose limits on political party expenditures to prevent undue advantages for affluent parties like the BJP.


  • The Electoral Bonds Scheme and its implications highlight critical issues surrounding transparency, accountability, and corruption in India’s electoral system.
  • The Supreme Court’s intervention and the opposition’s stance signify the ongoing struggle to uphold democratic principles and combat the influence of money power in politics.
  • Urgent electoral reforms are imperative to restore trust and fairness in the electoral process, ensuring that democracy remains inclusive and representative of all segments of society.
What are the Suggestions for Electoral Funding in India?

Regulation of Donations:

  • Some individuals or organisations, for instance, foreign citizens or companies, may be banned from making donations. There may also be donation limits, aimed at ensuring that a party is not captured by a few large donors — whether individuals, corporations, or civil society organisations.
  • Some jurisdictions rely on contribution limits for regulating the influence of money in politics. US federal law imposes different contribution limits on different types of donors. Some other countries, such as the UK, do not impose contribution limits, but instead, rely on expenditure limits.
  • Limits on Expenditure:
  • Expenditure limits safeguard politics from a financial arms race. They relieve parties from the pressure of competing for money even before they start to compete for votes.
  • Therefore, some jurisdictions impose an expenditure limit on political parties. For example, in the UK, political parties are not allowed to spend more than Euro 30,000 (about Rs 30 lakh) per seat.
  • In the US, the Supreme Court’s expansive interpretation of the First Amendment (freedom of expression) has come in the way of legislative attempts at imposing expenditure limits.
  • Providing Public Funding to Parties:
  • The most commonly used method is to set predetermined criteria. For instance, in Germany, parties receive public funds on the basis of their importance within the political system.
  • Generally, this is measured on the basis of the votes they received in past elections, membership fees, and the donations received from private sources. German “political party foundations” receive special state funding dedicated to their work as party-affiliated policy think tanks.
  • A relatively recent experiment in public funding is that of “democracy vouchers”, which is used in local elections in Seattle, US. The government distributes a certain number of vouchers — each of which is worth a certain amount — to eligible voters.
  • Voters can use these vouchers to donate to the candidate of their choice. The voucher is publicly funded, but the decision to allocate the money is the individual voter’s. Put simply, voters get to “vote” with their money before they cast their ballot.
  • Disclosure Requirements:
  • Disclosure as regulation rests on an assumption that the information supply and public scrutiny may influence politicians’ decisions and the electorate’s votes. However, mandatory disclosure of donations to parties is not always desirable.
  • At times, donor anonymity serves a useful purpose of protecting donors. For instance, donors may face the fear of retribution or extortion by the parties in power. The threat of retaliation may, in turn, deter donors from donating money to parties of their liking.
  • Many jurisdictions have struggled with striking an appropriate balance between the two legitimate concerns — transparency and anonymity. This issue was addressed by the Supreme Court in its judgment.
  • The Chilean Experiment:
  • Under the Chilean system of “reserved contributions”, donors could transfer to the Chilean Electoral Service the money they wished to donate to parties, and the Electoral Service would then forward the sum to the party without revealing the donor’s identity.
  • If the complete anonymity system worked perfectly, the political party would not be able to ascertain the sum donated by any specific donor — and would find it extremely difficult to strike quid pro quo arrangements.
  • However, it would be in the interest of donors (who want government patronage) and parties (who need money) to informally coordinate in advance to ascertain the sums donated by those donors. Indeed, as various scandals revealed in 2014-15, Chilean politicians and donors had coordinated with each other to effectively erode the system of complete anonymity.
  • Balancing Transparency, Anonymity:
  • One of the most prominent responses is to balance legitimate public interests in transparency and anonymity. Many jurisdictions strike this balance by allowing anonymity for small donors, while requiring disclosures of large donations.
  • In the UK, a party needs to report donations received from a single source amounting to a total of more than Pounds 7,500 in a calendar year. The analogous limit in Germany is Euros 10,000.
  • The argument in favour of this approach is: small donors are likely to be the least influential in the government and most vulnerable to partisan victimisation, while large donors are more likely to strike quid pro quo arrangements with parties.
  • Establishing National Election Fund:
  • Another option would be to establish a National Election Fund to which all donors could contribute. The funds could be allocated to parties based on their electoral performance. This would eliminate the so-called concern about donors’ reprisals.
  • During the hearing, the apex court, however, flagged a new issue — the possibility of misuse of money received by political parties for activities like funding terror or violent protests, and asked the Centre whether it has any control on the end use.


PYQ: The Right to Information Act is not all about citizens’ empowerment alone, it essentially redefines the concept of accountability.” Discuss. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-4 2018)
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of the Electoral Bonds Scheme on transparency, accountability, and democratic governance in India. Examine the challenges posed by such schemes and analyze the role of political institutions in addressing governance issues related to electoral funding. (250 words/15 m)

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