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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

30- January-2024

1. INTERIM TAKEAWAYS

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Government Budgeting
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about upcoming interim Union Budget for 2024-25.
Context:
  • In the upcoming interim Union Budget for 2024-25, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to provide insights into the government’s assessment of India’s economy and its fiscal outlook.
  • This budget will offer a glimpse into key economic indicators and policy directions.
More about the news: Growth Expectations:
  • The budget is anticipated to reveal the government’s growth projections for the fiscal year.
  • While the last budget assumed a growth rate of 10.5% (nominal) for 2023-24, recent estimates suggest a slower growth of 8.9%.
  • The Finance Ministry’s report suggests a more conservative estimate of 7% growth in the coming year, driven by robust domestic demand and supply-side measures.
  • The report reaffirms India’s aspiration to become the world’s third-largest economy with a $5 trillion GDP in the next three years and aims for a $7 trillion economy by 2030.
Fiscal Consolidation:
  • A critical aspect to watch is whether the government will adhere to its fiscal consolidation path.
  • The Centre has successfully reduced the fiscal deficit from 9.2% of GDP in 2020-21 to 6.4% in 2022-23.
  • Analysts expect the deficit target of 5.9% to be met this year. Sticking to the consolidation path, as outlined by the Finance Minister in 2021-22, implies a significant reduction in the deficit over the next two years, reflecting the government’s commitment to fiscal prudence.
Capital Spending:
  • In recent years, the government has increased its capital spending to stimulate private sector investments.
  • Public sector capital expenditure has surged from Rs 5.6 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs 18.6 lakh crore in 2023-24, marking a remarkable 3.3 times increase.
  • The question arises whether this momentum in public capex will be sustained in the coming year, considering the potential impact of upcoming national elections.
Political Compulsions vs. Long-Term Reforms:
  • Given the proximity of national elections, there are expectations of a targeted focus on specific constituencies such as youth, farmers, and women.
  • While political considerations may influence immediate priorities, the report emphasizes the importance of implementing long-term reforms in areas like skilling, education outcomes, and healthcare.
  • Striking a balance between short-term political imperatives and sustained economic growth remains a key challenge.
Conclusion:
  • The interim budget will serve as a crucial indicator of the government’s economic outlook, growth aspirations, fiscal discipline, and the approach to addressing immediate challenges while laying the foundation for sustained economic development.
  • Balancing short-term political considerations with long-term reform agendas will be imperative for fostering a high-growth trajectory.
 
PYQ: One of the intended objectives of Union Budget 2017-18 is to ‘transform, energize and clean India’. Analyse the measures proposed in the Budget 2017-18 to achieve the objective.  (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2017)
Practice Question:  Analyze how political considerations, especially in the run-up to national elections, may influence economic policies and the sustainability of growth in the coming years. (200 words/12.5 m)

2. NO LOOKING AWAY

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions
Relevancy for Prelims: Genocide, International Court of Justice and UN Relief Agency. Relevancy for Mains: International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ruling- Significance and Challenges.
Context:
  • Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a ruling that places obligations on Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza.
  • The ruling favors provisional measures for Israel to provide humanitarian assistance and basic services to Gaza.
More about the news: About the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Ruling:
  • Ruling Response to South Africa’s Case: The ruling is a response to a case filed by South Africa, holding Israel accountable for violations of humanitarian law. The ICJ accepted South Africa’s standing and found the preliminary submissions credible.
  • High Degree of Consensus: 15 out of 17 judges favored provisional measures, showing a high degree of consensus.
  • Preventing Conditions: Prevents conditions for eliminating Palestinians.
  • Legal Obligation: Legally binds Israel to allow access to Gaza.
  • Moral & Legal Indictment of Israel’s Actions: The ruling is a moral and legal indictment of Israel’s military actions, including bombing health facilities, designated safe zones, and densely populated areas. It aims to prevent conditions that can bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians.
  • Ensuring Compliance and Progress Monitoring: The order makes it difficult for Israel to deliberately not comply. The world community should ensure Israel complies and critically monitor progress.
  • Suspension of Global Aid to UN Relief Agency (UNRWA): The suspension of UNRWA in Gaza is concerning. This happened soon after the ruling based on Israel’s claims against some staffers.
  • Necessary Investigation: A probe into UNRWA staffers is necessary but should not defund humanitarian work. The needs of the people of Gaza are vital right now.
Conclusion:
  • Despite the absence of an explicit call for a ceasefire, the ruling is a momentous one that binds Israel to its obligation to prevent acts of genocide in its ongoing military operations in Gaza.
  • Monitoring compliance and meeting humanitarian needs is a need of the hour. All nations need to pressurize Israel to adhere with the rulings of ICJ.
  • The ICJ’s interim judgment brings attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, challenges political alliances, and underscores the importance of accountability for potential violations of international law.
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
  • It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the UN and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
  • Of the six principal organs of the UN, it is the only one not located in New York, United States.
  • The hearings of the ICJ are always public.
  • Official Languages: French and English
Powers and Functions: The Court may entertain two types of cases:
  • First, it can act as a dispute settlement body between two member States in what are called “contentious cases.” Such disputes may concern, in particular, land frontiers, maritime boundaries, territorial sovereignty, the non-use of force, violation of international humanitarian law, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and diplomatic relations.
  • Second, it can accept requests to issue an advisory opinion on a legal question referred to it by a UN body or specialized agency. These opinions can clarify the ways in which such organizations may lawfully function or strengthen their authority in relation to their member States.
  • The court’s judgments in contentious cases are final and binding on the parties to a case, and without appeal.
  • Unlike the Court’s judgments, advisory opinions are not binding.
  • The ICJ decides disputes in accordance with international law as reflected in international conventions, international custom, general principles of law recognized by civilized nations, judicial decisions, and the writings of the most highly qualified experts on international law.
Composition:
  • It consists of 15 judges, all from different countries, who are elected tonine-year termsby majority votes in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
  • The judges, one-third of whom are elected every three years, are eligible for reelection.
  • Once elected, a member of the Court is a delegate neither of the government of his own country nor of any other State.
  • In addition, the ICJ Statute allows a state partyto a case before it which does not have a judge of its nationality on the bench to appoint a person to sit as judge ad hoc in that specific case.
  • The Court is assisted by a Registry, its permanent administrative secretariat, which is independent of the United Nations Secretariat.
PYQ: ‘India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2018)
Practice Question:  Evaluate the significance of the recent interim judgment by the International Court of Justice on Israel’s actions in Gaza, in upholding human rights principles and its potential impact on the resolution of the conflict in the region. (250 words/15 m)

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