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Indian Express

8- January-2024

1. A god that failed

Topic: GS2 – Governance- Government Policies 
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of legislative reforms, their implications on governance.
Context:
  • The article explores how the Indian Penal Code’s criminal provisions affect employers, highlighting the recently passed Jan Vishwas Bill as a major move in the right direction towards lessening demands for corruption.
  • It makes the case for the need for Jan Vishwas Bill Version 2.0, emphasising the need to go from a retail to a wholesale strategy in order to further decriminalise laws that impact employers following the next general election.
Labour Laws and Regulatory Cholesterol:
  • The article emphasises the burden of regulatory cholesterol, particularly in labour laws, by highlighting the excessive criminal provisions included in laws like the Motor Vehicles Act, the Factories Act, the Legal Metrology Act, and the Electricity Act.
Jan Vishwas Bill 1.0: Innovation and Limitations:
  • The Jan Vishwas Bill 1.0, which amends several laws with an emphasis on getting rid of “bad” jail provisions while keeping deterrents for misconduct, is praised in the article for its creative approach.
  • It does, however, criticise the retail strategy, claiming that it merely addressed a small portion of pertinent laws and maintained the status quo.
Need for Jan Vishwas Bill Version 2.0:
  • The government’s announcement of Jan Vishwas 2.0 is interpreted as a chance to pursue more ambitious goals.
  • The article suggests a change to a comprehensive strategy to determine the standards that would support employer-sponsored jail provisions, overseen by a broad group.
  • It offers a more complete approach by urging ministries to willingly give up any jail provisions that don’t fit the committee’s requirements.
Decriminalization and Judicial Load:
  • The article makes the case that eliminating criminal provisions lessens the workload of judges by citing data from decriminalisation initiatives outside of the Jan Vishwas Bill, such as the Ministry of Company Affairs.
  • Regulatory agencies are now in charge of decriminalised violations, which has improved efficiency and decreased the number of legal challenges.
Challenges and Urgency of Decriminalization:
  • The article emphasises how burdensome rules impede the creation of jobs by harming compliant and successful firms.
  • It highlights how urgent decriminalisation is, especially in light of the overwhelming amount of regulations and how they affect business expansion.
Conclusion:
  • The article concludes by arguing in favour of a fresh approach to modifying the Jan Vishwas Bill in order to combat corruption, advance wage increases, and assist profitable businesses.
  • It argues that this kind of approach fits with India’s goal of uniting popular democracy with mass affluence, setting up the country for long-term economic expansion.
What are the Key Laws Covered in the Bill?
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927.
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The Copyright Act, 1957.
  • The Patents Act, 1970.
  • The Railways Act, 1989.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
 
Practice Question: Examine the challenges posed by excessive jail provisions in Indian legislation, particularly within the realm of employer regulations. Discuss the impact of the Jan Vishwas Bill in mitigating these challenges and propose strategies for a comprehensive Version 2.0. (250 words/15 m)

2. Growth and its discontents

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy- Issues relating to growth  This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of contemporary economic and governance issues in India.
Context:
  • India is optimistic about its macroeconomic prospects as 2024 gets off, with the National Statistical Office projecting GDP growth of 7.3%, the Sensex hitting all-time highs, foreign exchange reserves exceeding $620 billion, and inflation being within the RBI’s target range.
  • India is expected to outperform the other G20 nations in 2023 due to these factors, and IMF predictions indicate that this outperformance will continue in 2024.
  • Shaktikanta Das, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and the Ministry of Finance deserve recognition for their concerted efforts in promoting economic growth, reining in inflation, and preserving financial stability, as evidenced by Governor Das’s receipt of the Governor of the Year award.
Challenges and Concerns: Unsecured Loans and Regulatory Criticisms:
  • Even with these encouraging signs, problems still exist. Governor Das draws attention to the rising risks associated with unsecured loans in the banking sector.
  • While opposition parties highlight problems like high unemployment, inflation, and worries about democratic ideals, some bankers lament the burdensome rules.
  • However, the Modi administration continues to hold onto its confidence and moves forward with the 2024 legislative elections, supported by successes such as the building of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Comparative Economic Performance: Modi Government vs. UPA:
  • Comparing the economic performance of the Modi government over the course of ten years with that of the previous UPA government (2004–05 to 2013–14) is a method of doing a detached economic analysis.
  • The average annual growth during the UPA tenure was slightly higher at 6.8% compared to 5.8% during the Modi government, based on significant criteria such as GDP growth and inflation.
  • It should be noted, nevertheless, that GDP growth was revised down to 6.8% with the new series, from 7.7% during the UPA tenure using the older series.
Poverty Reduction Metrics: UPA vs. Modi Government
  • Reducing poverty is a critical component of assessing governance, going beyond GDP and inflation.
  • According to World Bank data, the rate of decline of extreme poverty (estimated at $2.15 per day/per capita) decreased by 1.12% year during UPA-I (2004–05 to 2008–09) and by 2.46% annually under UPA-II (2009–10 to 2013–14).
  • The rate at which poverty decreased during Modi-I (2014–15 to 2018–19) was very low—1.72% annually.
  • The Modi-II period (2019–20 to 2023–24) had a pitiful 0.3% annual drop, with 2023 recording the largest number of individuals living in extreme poverty.
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI): A Different Perspective
  • Although income poverty presents a worrisome image, multidimensional poverty has been reduced, according to the UNDP’s and NITI Aayog’s national MPIs.
  • Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, the UNDP’s MPI—which takes into account standard of living, health, and education halved, from 55.1% to 27.7%, suggesting that 271 million people were lifting themselves out of poverty.
  • Between 2015–16 and 2019–21, NITI Aayog’s national MPI decreased from 24.85% to 14.96%, removing about 135 million people from multidimensional poverty.
Policy Recommendations: Addressing Income Poverty
  • Income poverty is still unabated even though multidimensional poverty has decreased.
  • It is recommended that policymakers concentrate on promoting employment-intensive growth, especially in rural areas through skill development to facilitate the shift from agriculture to higher-productivity jobs in urban areas.
  • It is recommended to provide direct income transfers to the most vulnerable individuals (antyodaya) in order to reduce income poverty and promote inclusive economic growth.
What is the National Multidimensional Poverty Index?
About:
  • As the MPI’s nodal body, NITI Aayog has been tasked with creating an indigenous index to track how well Union Territories (UTs) and States are doing in tackling multidimensional poverty.
  • An interministerial MPI Coordination Committee (MPICC), comprising Ministries and departments dealing with topics like health, education, nutrition, rural development, drinking water, sanitation, electricity, and urban development, among others, was established by NITI Aayog in order to institutionalise this.
PYQ: Despite Consistent experience of High growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2019)
Practice Question: Analyze the multidimensional aspects of poverty and propose strategies for employment-intensive growth, considering the recent macroeconomic trends. (150 words/10 m)

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