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Indian Express Editorial Analysis

9-March-2024

1. Change in the Valley

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this analysis on governance, leadership, and the role of central and state governments in managing J&K provides insights into the functioning of Indian democracy and the challenges associated with administering conflict-affected regions.
Context:
  • The analysis of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) post-terror-related incidents, particularly in the context of Prime Ministerial visits, offers an opportunity for a balanced examination.
  • This examination encompasses various dimensions, including political, military, social, economic, psychological, and diplomatic aspects.
  • Of these, the psychological domain emerges as the most crucial, given its profound impact on perceptions and attitudes over the years.
  •  Historical Context and Psychological Evolution:
    • The inception of the insurgency in 1989, backed by Pakistan, laid the groundwork for a prolonged conflict in J&K.
    • The psychological landscape has significantly shifted since then, as evidenced by changing sentiments among Kashmiri youth.
    • While slogans advocating for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan once dominated, a notable transformation has occurred, with a growing resonance of “PoJK banega Hindustan.”
    • Despite this shift, a lingering duality in Kashmiri perceptions persists, albeit diminishing gradually.
    Transformation in Security Strategy:
    • Since 1997, the adoption of a “winning hearts and minds” (WHAM) doctrine by the Indian Army has aimed at fostering trust and cooperation among locals.
    • Under Prime Minister Modi’s tenure, this approach has been bolstered by comprehensive socio-economic development initiatives, effectively addressing rural and urban needs.
    • The central government’s assertive role post-August 2019 has facilitated a holistic, “all of government” approach, emphasizing the significance of socio-economic progress in countering insurgency.
    Role of Governance and Leadership:
    • Effective governance, under the administration of an insightful Lieutenant Governor, has played a pivotal role in aligning developmental goals with the aspirations of the populace.
    • Notably, youth and women empowerment initiatives have garnered substantial support, reflected in social media discourse.
    • Moreover, the Army’s integrated outreach efforts, coupled with a reduced “in the face” projection, have contributed to a nuanced approach in managing Kashmir’s aspirations.
    International Perspective and Future Concerns:
    • Prime Ministerial narratives emphasizing Kashmir’s integration into national and international frameworks underscore India’s strategic vision for the region.
    • However, challenges persist, particularly regarding Pakistan’s continued support for separatist forces and the threat of ideological extremism.
    • Despite significant progress, the specter of a resurgence in conflict remains, necessitating vigilant diplomacy and sustained security measures.
    Conclusion:
    • While substantial strides have been made in addressing the multifaceted challenges in J&K, a nuanced understanding of its evolving dynamics is imperative.
    • The abrogation of Article 370 signifies a decisive shift in the political landscape, indicative of a forward-looking approach.
    • However, the journey towards lasting stability and prosperity remains fraught with complexities, demanding continued vigilance, and strategic foresight.
    Article 370 Origins and Inclusion in the Constitution
    • Article 370 came into being as a result of negotiations between the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian government during the process of India’s accession to the Dominion of India after independence in 1947. The provision was incorporated in the Constitution to address the concerns of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, respecting its unique history, culture, and autonomy.
    • On August 5, 2019, the Government of India issued a Presidential Order that replaced the previous order from 1954, effectively subjecting Jammu and Kashmir to all articles of the Indian Constitution.
    • The order was based on a resolution that received a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Indian parliament. As a result, all clauses of Article 370, except for clause 1, were rendered inoperative by a subsequent order on August 6.
    • In addition to this, the parliament also approved the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, which led to the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. This restructuring took place on October 31, 2019.
    • Following the government’s intention to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India received a total of 23 petitions. In response, a five-judge bench was formed to address the legal challenges.
    Article 370 of the Indian Constitution: The Instrument of Accession
    • In October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir at that time, signed an Instrument of Accession, outlining three specific areas in which Jammu & Kashmir would cede its authority to the Indian government. These areas were:
    1. Foreign affairs 2. Defense 3. Communications
    • In March 1948, Maharaja Hari Singh appointed Sheikh Abdullah as the prime minister of the state’s temporary administration. Subsequently, Sheikh Abdullah and three other associates became part of the Indian Constituent Assembly in July 1949. Together, they worked to negotiate Jammu & Kashmir’s unique status, leading to the approval of Article 370. It was Sheikh Abdullah who played a significant role in drafting the contentious clause that granted special autonomy to the state.
    PYQ: To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “Temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss the future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2016)
    Practice Question:  Discuss the multidimensional challenges and evolving dynamics in the region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Also, analyze the implications of recent policy changes and initiatives for the future trajectory of the region. (250 words/15 m)

    2. EVERYONE GETS A VOICE

    Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors GS2 – Social Justice This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the socio-political dynamics of youth participation in elections.
    Context:
    • The forthcoming 18th Lok Sabha election in India underscores the pivotal role of youth participation in shaping the democratic process.
    • As a demographic segment representing a substantial portion of the population, the engagement of young voters carries unparalleled significance, promising to infuse the electoral arena with the spirit of “yuvashakti” and potentially influencing the future trajectory of the nation.
    Enhanced Participation of Youth:
    • In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in youth participation in electoral processes, attributable to heightened awareness among young voters regarding their role in shaping the political landscape.
    • The approaching 2024 general elections present a timely opportunity for the youth to embrace their responsibility as the “Amrit Peedhi,” signaling a generational shift in political engagement.
    Election Commission Initiatives to Mobilize Youth:
    • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has undertaken proactive measures to mobilize young and first-time voters for the Lok Sabha Elections.
    • Initiatives such as the “Mera Pehla Vote Desh Ke Liye” campaign aim to cultivate a sense of civic duty and national pride among nearly two crore first-time voters, emphasizing the importance of their participation in the democratic process.
    Transformation into a People’s Movement:
    • The campaign has evolved into a grassroots movement, garnering widespread support and resonance across all segments of society.
    • Influential voices, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and prominent personalities from various fields, have rallied behind the cause, catalyzing a collective endeavor to promote youth participation in democracy.
    Harnessing Digital Platforms and Educational Institutions:
    • The advent of the digital age has revolutionized outreach efforts, with social media platforms and online forums serving as potent tools for mobilization.
    • Creative competitions hosted on platforms like MyGov aim to harness the digital medium’s reach and engagement potential.
    • Moreover, colleges and educational institutions play a crucial role in mobilizing youth through voter awareness programs and participatory events.
    Building Momentum for Meaningful Change:
    • The “Mera Pehla Vote Desh Ke Liye” campaign epitomizes a collective endeavor to foster meaningful change on a large scale, drawing inspiration from past initiatives like “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” and “Swachh Bharat.”
    • By empowering youth to engage in politics, the campaign seeks to cultivate a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the democratic process, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and representative society.
    Conclusion:
    • The participation of youth in the electoral process is not only desirable but imperative for the health of democracy.
    • By empowering young voters to exercise their democratic rights, India can pave the way for a more inclusive, representative, and responsive political system.
    • As the nation embarks on this democratic journey, recognizing the immense potential of “yuvashakti” to shape its destiny becomes paramount, promising a brighter future for generations to come.
    What can be done to Increase Voter Turnout in India?
    • Voter Education: Given that India embraced voter education relatively late, continued and intensified efforts in this area are crucial. Voter education campaigns should focus on informing citizens about the importance of voting, the electoral process, and the impact of their votes on governance.
    • These campaigns can be conducted through various mediums, including TV, radio, social media, and community outreach programs.
    • Revision of Electoral Rolls: Regular and rigorous revision of electoral rolls, especially closer to the election date, is essential. Removing dead, absent, or duplicate names from the voter list and adding eligible citizens ensures that the voter base accurately reflects the population. Technology can play a significant role in streamlining this process.
    • Accessibility and Ease of Voting: Improve the ease of voting by addressing issues related to the physical accessibility of polling stations, reducing wait times, and making the voting process more convenient for citizens. The use of technology can also help streamline the voting process.
    • Remote Voting: Implementing remote voting options to empower internal migrants who face logistical and financial barriers to voting. This is particularly beneficial in a country as vast and diverse as India.
    • Political consensus and investment in secure and accessible remote voting technology are necessary for this to become a reality.
    • One Nation One Election: Addressing voter fatigue by reducing the frequency of elections, as mentioned in the context of “One Nation One Election” could help sustain voter enthusiasm. Streamlining elections could lead to more focused and engaged voter participation.
    • Campaign Quality: Enhance the quality of election campaigns to make them more engaging and informative. Political parties should present compelling agendas and candidates to motivate voters. This can include debates, town halls, and discussions on pressing issues.
    • Promote Accountability: Emphasise the importance of higher voter turnout in holding lawmakers accountable. Encourage citizens to understand that their votes directly impact the performance of elected officials and the overall governance of the country.
    • Youth Engagement: Target youth engagement and encourage young voters to participate actively in the electoral process. Engage schools and colleges to educate students about their voting rights and responsibilities.
    • Community Mobilisation: Encourage community leaders and organisations to play a role in mobilising voters within their communities. Grassroots efforts can be particularly effective in increasing turnout.
    PYQ: To enhance the quality of democracy in India the Election Commission of India has proposed electoral reforms in 2016. What are the suggested reforms and how far are they significant to make democracy successful? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
    Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of youth participation in democratic processes with reference to the upcoming 18th Lok Sabha election in India. Evaluate the role of government initiatives and grassroots movements in mobilizing young voters and fostering civic engagement. (250 words/15 m)

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