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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 23rd August ’21 | PDF Download

Breaking the logjam, handing over the baton | TH

  • For the first time ever, the Supreme Court Collegium led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) recommended/selected as many as nine persons at one go to be appointed to the apex court.
  • All the nine vacancies in the Supreme Court will be filled up
  • The highest court in the country having its near full strength will ease the pressure on it considerably.
  • CJI T.S. Thakur, in fact, broke down, in 2016
  • It is almost a truism that the selection of judges for appointment to the higher courts, particularly the top court is a complex exercise.
  • The members of the Collegium have to take extra care to ensure that the process of selection remains transparent and the suitability of the persons selected attracts the highest level of approbation.
  • Article 142 (1) contains the concept of ‘complete justice’ in any cause or matter which the Supreme Court is enjoined to deliver upon.
  • While selecting a judge to adorn the Bench, the fundamental consideration should be his/her ability to do complete justice.
  • The merit is the ability of the judge to deliver complete justice.
  • India is a country of bewildering diversity.
  • India is perhaps the only country where the judges select judges to the higher judiciary.
  • The Supreme Court has emphasised the need for maintaining transparency and an openness with regard to the norms of selection.
  • In 2019, a five judge Bench of the Supreme Court, of which the present CJI was also a member, laid emphasis on this point.
  • The Bench observed: “There can be no denial that there is a vital element of public interest in knowing about the norms which are taken into consideration in selecting candidates for higher judicial office and making judicial appointments”.
  • Thus, the essence of the norms to be followed in judicial appointments is a judicious blend of merit, seniority, interests of the marginalised and deprived sections of society, women, religions, regions and communities.
  • The selection of three women judges, with one of them having a chance to head the top court, a judge belonging to the Scheduled Caste and one from a backward community and the nine selected persons belonging to nine different States (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat; all point towards an enlightened and unbiased approach of the members of the Collegium.
  • There is no doubt that there are meritorious people outside this group too.
  • But in a population of 1.3 billion, to select just nine suitable persons to man the highest judiciary is not without difficulty.
  • Considering the merit of the selected persons, one can undoubtedly say that the Collegium has done a good job.
  • The Collegium has started doing its job. Now, it is time for the Government to match the pace and take the process of appointments to its logical conclusion at the earliest.

New, Dangerous Quad Around India | ToI

  • With Taliban well and truly in control in Afghanistan, countries in the region have already started jostling for power and stakes in the new emerging order.
  • Within a day of Taliban taking over Kabul, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that “Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and we welcome this.”
  • Obviously, Pakistan could not have been left behind and PM Imran Khan welcomed Taliban stating on national TV on August 16, “They have broken the chains of mental slavery in Afghanistan.”
  • Iran had maintained old ties with Taliban over time despite its good relations with President Ghani’s government in Kabul.
  • Reacting to the Taliban takeover, a statement from its newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi stated that “defeat” of the United States in neighbouring Afghanistan should be transformed into an opportunity and that Iran encourages all groups in Afghanistan to work towards national unity as a “neighbouring and brotherly” country.
  • Russia was more cautious and restrained in its reaction, but has kept its embassy in Kabul functional to “maintain contacts with Taliban”.
  • Whatever form of government emerges in Afghanistan, it cannot be good news for India.
  • Surrounded by a hostile Pakistan, a belligerent China and yet unsure Iran, India has to remain vigilant to the developing situation.
  • Threat of a military conflict between the US and Iran over attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in May-June 2019, alleged attacks by Iranian drones on Saudi airfields in September 2019, the ongoing Yemen crisis, or the killing of General Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force on January 3, 2020 by a US drone, each of these occasions has posed a diplomatic challenge to India with regards to its relations with Iran.
  • Iran is also critically important to India as the land routes to Afghanistan and the Central Asian region go through Iran only.

  • China’s belligerence against India, especially since the Galwan valley conflict last summer and its publicly stated opposition to India’s participation in the US-led Quad against China in the Indo-Pacific, is unlikely to peter out soon.
  • Pakistan has upped its ante again after India revoked Article 370 in August 2019.
  • From past experience with Taliban, there is always a clear and present danger to Indian interests in the region.
  • The hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814 in December 1999 to Kandahar is still fresh in public memory in India.
  • The fact that Afghan fighters made up to 20-22% of terrorists operating in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s is an established fact.
  • Therefore, notwithstanding the goodwill shown by Taliban in safely escorting the Indian ambassador out to Kabul airport on August 17, India has to remain wary of Taliban.
  • If and when interests of Pakistan, Taliban-led Afghanistan, China and, to some extent, Iran converge and unite to forge another Quad, it could pose a threat right at India’s doorstep, a security threat unapparelled in independent India.
  • Last time Taliban came to power in 1996, China was not in the equation.
  • With China now looking to lock horns, this could well be the biggest threat India has ever faced.
  • Russia, due to its old and traditional ties with India along with military and diplomatic goodwill could be counted as a reliable ally.
  • However, it needs to be remembered that Russia, twice this year, once in March and most recently in August, wasn’t on board on including India in Afghan peace talks.
  • Also, Russia-Pakistan military cooperation in recent times and close coordination between Russia and China are issues of concern to India.

Curbing Delta | TH

  • The overall number of coronavirus cases in India is on a downward trajectory though around 35,000 cases continue to be added almost daily.
  • Nearly three in four of these infections are from Kerala and Maharashtra with the former — once heralded as the model State in tackling the pandemic — contributing close to 60% of the national total.
  • There may be several reasons why this is the case and one of the conjectures is that newer variants may be playing a significant role.
  • A weekly update from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a repository of labs tasked with monitoring variants of the coronavirus, says that the Delta variant remains most responsible for the continuing spread of infections in India.
  • The INSACOG collects a percentage of coronavirus-positive samples for analysis from all States and of the nearly 50,000 samples analysed for their genetic composition, about two thirds 30,230 — were among the internationally classified Variant of Concern or Variant of Interest (VoC/VoI).
  • Of these, nearly 20,000 were the Delta variant (AY.2) and about 5,000, its associated lineages (AY.1 and AY.3).
  • Because they contain mutations that help the virus avoid detection by the immune system, the lineages of the Delta variant are driving spikes in infections worldwide.
  • Globally, there are believed to be 13 sublineages of Delta with characteristic genetic mutations. AY.1, AY.2 and AY.3 are the predominant ones.
  • Concerning as this variant is, it should not be forgotten that the purpose of the existing vaccines is to prevent hospitalisation and mortality, and the limited evidence so far is that vaccine coverage has played a role in keeping hospitalisation in most States to manageable levels as well as allowing normalisation of economic activity.
  • Unless there is a dramatic fall in susceptible hosts globally, it is unlikely that transmission will obliterate itself.
  • India’s Drugs Controller General has now approved a three-shot vaccine, ZyCoV-D, for use in those 12 and above.
  • The interim efficacy data of this vaccine shows that it has only 66% efficacy which is lower than what most of the other vaccines delivered in their trials.
  • Zydus Cadila also has not published phase-3 results from the trials and so it is quite uncertain if the vaccine will meaningfully curb transmission but may well be effective in boosting India’s vaccine arsenal, cutting disease and saving lives.
  • The INSACOG still monitors too few a proportion of coronavirus samples given that India has the second highest numbers globally.
  • Improving coverage and increased vaccination continue to remain the best bets against the pandemic.


  • Govt says, it is committed to safe evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan
  • Indian Air Force special repatriation flight brings back 168 people from Kabul
  • 7 people killed near International Airport in Kabul in attempt to flee from Afghanistan
  • Over 58.14 crore vaccine doses administered across the country so far
  • US to use commercial airlines to carry Afghan evacuees
  • I&B Minister Anurag Thakur to launch ‘Iconic Week’ as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav from 23rd to 29th August
  • President, Vice-President, PM, several leaders express grief over demise of Kalyan Singh
  • Finance Ministry summons Infosys CEO Salil Parekh tomorrow over persistent glitches in Income tax e-filing portal
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to felicitate Olympians from Services at Army Sports Institute in Pune
  • PM Modi to share his thoughts in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on All India Radio on August 29
  • Taliban fire in the air to control crowd at Kabul airport
  • BSF hands over a Pakistani national to Pakistan Rangers who crossed border inadvertently
  • Australia’s PM defends lockdown strategy until majority vaccinated
  • Bangladesh: Daily COVID deaths below 200 for the tenth consecutive day, positivity around 15 percent

Q.) Alok Sharma is the president-designate of which United Nations organistaion?

  1. United Nations Conference of Parties
  2. United Nations Refugee Convention

Q.) Rain fell at he highest point on the ______ last week for the first time on record, scientists said on Friday.

  1. Greenland Ice Sheet
  2. Antarctica Ice Sheet
  3. Bonneville Salt Flats
  4. Dune Boarding

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