26 December 2020: The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
1) The meaning of merit: Supreme court judgement on the reservation
GS 2- functioning of the judiciary
Recently Supreme court of India, in Saurav Yadav versus State Of Uttar Pradesh case, negotiated the thicket of issues arising out of the reservation.
- Vertical and horizontal reservation: The case before the court arose because of the complications arise from trying to specify the relationship between vertical and horizontal reservation
- Verticle reservation: The verticle reservation is enabled by the Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the constitution based on slotting the population in terms of SC, ST, OBC and General Category.
- The horizontal reservation: it referred to as the class of reservation which cuts across from all categories viz, SC, ST, OBC and general category.
- So horizontal reservation can include reservation for women,differently-abled persons, freedom fighters, army veterans and other categories to whom we may choose to provide reservation
- With a horizontal reservation, a 20 per cent reservation for women in posts for police constables is available.
The major problem before us to specify the relationship between the two categories of reservation.
The case of Anil Kumar Gupta v/s State of Uttar Pradesh:
- court's verdict was that the horizontal reservation ought to be generally understood in compartmentalised terms.
- According to verdict, this horizontal reservation is as a nod to recognition of inequalities within each vertical category.
- This case was different from the current case. In this case, the main matter was about constable posts.
a) There were 3,295 constable posts for General Category from which 188 went to women.
b) During filling this case, OBC women were not considered.
c) There the problem was that the last female candidate selected in General Category secured 274.8298 marks while 21 applicants in the OBC female category scored 276.5949. But the selected candidates were not considered against the available General Category seats because they were OBC.
d) So they were excluded from competing from the General Category positions even though they have scored more only because they were OBC.
High court orders:
The High Courts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh excluded reserved category women for consideration in the general category while Rajasthan and Gujarat included them.
The case before the Supreme Court:
- The apex court in a three-judge bench ruled against the UP government.
- It also clarified the relationship between horizontal and vertical reservations.
- In this case, the judges reiterate the principle that groups eligible for horizontal reservation cannot be excluded from the open category seats because they are from other vertically reserved category communities, like SC or OBC.
- According to the court women from all categories are eligible to be considered for the open category. These open category seats are not meant to be a quota for the non-reserved categories.
- The effect of the UP government’s policy was to declare the open category a quota for upper castes. while the court judgement stops this process.
- In this case, the court contrasted merit with reservation.
- But in general, reservation is an instrument for identifying merit in individuals from historically marginalised communities.
- According to this verdict by excluding the adjustment of OBC women with a higher score against general category seats, the UP government was using theGeneral Category to exclude merit or serious candidates.
AGAINST THE VERDICT OF SUPREME COURT:
- The scholar Gautam Bhatia: in “Horizontal Reservations and the Persistence of the Myth of Merit" worry that the Court’s judgment does not go so far and judgement is still concerned with merit.
- BK Pavitra versus Union of India: In this case, the Court was more radical and deconstruct the logic of merit.
- The court argued that inclusion must not be seen as the antithesis of efficiency and merit. According to court inclusion and substantive equality are the aims of government.
- While according to Saurav Yadav: Inclusion also takes place in the context of criteria of selection. According to him when the Court is using the term merit, it is simply pointing out that certain selection criteria are being used. So Such selection criteria are also within particular reserved categories.
- The defenders of radical inclusion think that social justice can be achieved by displacing merit with inclusion.
- The Court is trying to argue for its purposes, the opposition between merit and reservation needs to be deconstructed. According to the court members of the reserved category must be fully considered as falling under the meritorious.
2) All the world's without a stage – Many artists/performers hit by Covid-19
GS 1 - Society
- The arts sustained many through Covid, but it leaves behind formidable challenges for the artists.
- "During the pandemic, art became an expression of resilience for society.
STATUS OF ARTISTS IN COVID:
- Minimum recognition: Within the expansive spectrum of the creative sector, many are jostling for recognition of their craft in a largely unorganised and ill-defined industry.
- Vulnerability: Already having survived on uncertain incomes, the pandemic aggravated the vulnerable conditions of artists across the board.
- Disrupted income: A British Council, FICCI and Art X Company study on the impact of COVID-19 on India's creative economy reveals that self-employed professionals and MSMEs make up 88 per cent of the industry, 70 per cent of the respondents faced temporary business disruptions and 33 per cent lost up to half of their annual income.
- No financial assistance: Yet, in the government's many financial assistance packages, artists found no mention.
- Closed avenues: But financial distress wasn't the only fallout of the pandemic, it closed avenues for artists self-expression.
- Divide: The pandemic has increased the schism between those who will be more visible and the rest.
- Digital Challenges: Engaging a virtual audience is challenging and going online also requires special skills.
- New collabs: The pandemic has brought to the disorganised artist community some improvements collaboration to create new works, higher online visibility, and the ability to reach audiences and consumers differently.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE?
- In the absence of institutional support, the creative community came together to help their own.
- Among many other organisations, the Cine & TV Artists Association (CINTAA) stepped in to provide rations, funds, emotional and medical support to struggling artists and their families.
WHAT WILL HAVE TO BE DONE?
- Brush up digital skills: Apart from learning new skills, artists will have to address how to reduce piracy, while revisiting settled notions of copyright, which otherwise get lost in a closed Zoom room performance.
- Audience engagement: Digital fatigue and the charm of the live performance, which highlights the symbiotic relationship between artist and audience, should reflect in deeper engagement by the audience.
- Networking: For sustained income avenues, the sector has to innovate by finding stronger connections across related areas like education and health.
- Togetherness: The Indian creative sector is seeing togetherness. But whether the community stands for sustained advocacy with the government and private sector for recognition and support remains to be seen.
- Govt. interest: Governments are increasingly interested in regulating the expression of art online.
- A directory: Governments should make a transparent directory of artists so that grants and other schemes reach the right beneficiaries.
- Policy formulation: Apart from firming up anti-cyberbullying laws, the need of the hour is to recognise gig workers in this sector and strengthen policies that support cultural assets. Not every form of art is economically self-sustainable.
- Philanthropy for the arts has to grow.
- The appreciation for art's contribution in providing society with a semblance of normalcy during these isolated times must be cultivated into respect and value for an artist's labour.
- The arts community has never had it easy but the worry is about life post-COVID-19. The focus on is reducing the already deep divide in the art world between the privileged and underprivileged.
- Else, as a country, we will be collectively responsible for the loss of our cultural lineage.
3) Sowing trust
GS 3- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Almost a month since their laying attack to the national capital, the farmer protests against the Centre’s three agricultural reform laws show no signs of fading.
- On Friday, Prime Minister said that his government was ready to engage with the protesters — including those “with political agenda” and “ideologically against us” — but this could only be based on “facts and logic”.
- In short, there was no question of repealing or even, as suggested by the Supreme Court, withholding the implementation of the three laws.
- The farm unions, on the other hand, have expressed a willingness to return to the negotiation table, provided the discussions relate to providing “legal guarantee” for minimum support prices (MSP) of crops beyond simply the government’s “written assurance”.
- As for the three laws, they would settle for nothing short of outright repeal.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 are the main issue behind farmers' protest.
BENEFITS (AS PER THE GOVERNMENT):
- Farmers have got a new option insofar they will have the freedom to sell their produce outside the APMC (agricultural produce market committee) market and there will be no tax on such trade which will give a higher price to the farmers.
- Farmers can sell their produce within the state or anywhere else in the country and there will be no restriction on this type of trade. This will benefit the farmers that they will be able to sell their produce to the merchant wherever they get a higher price.
- There will be no need for any kind of license for traders to purchase agricultural produce of farmers in the trade area outside the APMC mandi, but also those holding PAN card or any other document notified by the Central government can join this trade. This will facilitate trade in agricultural products and will benefit the farmers.
- In case of any dispute arising in such business, the matter will be settled within 30 days by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
- There are also provisions of heavy penalty for violation of rules and regulations.
DRAWBACKS (AS PER THE FARMERS):
- With this law, mandis operated under the APMC law of the states will be abolished. After the end of the APMC mandis, the farmers will be forced to sell the crop to corporate companies at one-and-a-half price.
- Due to the abolition of the mandi system, there will be no purchase of crops on MSP.
- Farmers' products have been going from one state to another in the past and the provisions of the new law are only for the benefit of the corporate and not for the benefit of the farmers.
- Farmers will be exposed to the risk of fraud due to the entry of people without license or registration.
- In case of any dispute in the business with the corporate buyer, there will be a danger of farmers' interests being ignored.
Besides these, farmers fear losing their land and becoming "slaves" to the corporates as far as The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is concerned. According to the farmers, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 is also in favour of big buyers.
- To build trust among farmers and the states would be to include a mandate for MSP, as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee, within the ambit of the bills. Another would be to plug the holes in the current system instead of trying to dismantle and introduce a new structure.
- The government also needs to make it mandatory for firms to draw up written contracts in vernacular languages and do away with verbal contracts. It may also be necessary to declutter the complexities surrounding export and import of agricultural produce, in alignment with the new bills.
- The agricultural sector could also benefit greatly if the bills achieve harmony with the provisions related to self-help groups and farmer producer organisations to incentivise collectives, aimed especially at marginal and small holding farmers.
- Despite being visionary in intent, the bills come with their own share of loopholes. In rushing the bills through parliament on the strength of numbers, the Union government seems to have handed the short end of the stick to the states and farmers.
- A greater degree of consultation could have provided much needed impetus for the realisation of the vision for transformation. By not considering the voices of important stakeholders, the government has sown the seeds of mistrust and is currently facing a backlash.
- Some states are contesting the bills in the Supreme Court, while others are trying to circumvent their way around them. In order to truly transform agriculture in India, the central government needs to be far more inclusive in their planning and decision-making processes.
- It also needs to assure the farmers that the bills are not an attempt to phase out government procurement. Overall, the bills need significant amendments before vision can turn into reality.