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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 27th August ’21 | PDF Download

Beyond Courts | ToI

  • The Supreme Court’s long ongoing effort to fast-track criminal cases against politicians isn’t making progress
  • Criminal cases pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs registered an 18% jump from 4,122 in December 2018 to 4,859 in September 2020.
  • The 2013 SC judgment, which finally allowed the Representation of People Act to instantly disqualify convicted lawmakers, had given urgency to tackle criminalisation of politics.
  • But eight years later, the process is proving quite unwieldy.
  • If cases are never going to reach trial, they deserve closure.
  • The exercise of fasttracking mustn’t descend into a witch-hunt against opposition netas.
  • A related issue that keeps cropping up is the government of the day’s eagerness to withdraw cases against its favourites.
  • SC has prudently ruled that state governments must take high court approval before withdrawal of cases.
  • Setting up special courts to try netas takes away judges hearing matters of ordinary citizens.
  • GoI and SC must requisition the services of retired HC and district court judges with meritorious records.
  • Their retirement at 62 and 60 prematurely lets go of valuable judicial experience amid the struggles to fill judicial vacancies and dispose of long pending cases.
  • Like netas, ordinary citizens also deserve speedier justice.
  • Spare a thought for those who suffer miscarriage of justice in UP: Its average wait time for a convict appealing a trial court verdict is 35 years.
  • Rather than symbolism of special courts, the justice system must scale up for everyone.

What Xi thinks today | Ind Exp

  • In schools and colleges across China, students will now have to sit through lectures on Xi’s “fundamental principles” to “cultivate the builders and successors of socialism with an all-round moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding”.
  • Morality, politics, nationalism, character, everything.
  • These top-down lectures can be counterproductive.
  • As anyone who has sat through an interminable school assembly will attest, students are not swayed by the high-minded tripe that emanates from old men in power.
  • In fact, even the most well-meaning lecture by a school or college principal is instantly satirised by the “back-benchers”.

Risks and rewards | TH

  • Following through on the Budget’s plan to monetise public assets in order to fund fresh capital expenditure on infrastructure, the Government has released an exhaustive list of projects and facilities to be offered to private investors over the next four years.
  • The Government estimates these assets — airports, coal mines, highway stretches, even urban tracts, stadia and hotels — to fetch around ₹5.96-lakh crore through structured leasing and securitisation transactions.
  • This, in turn, could help fund the National Infrastructure Pipeline with new projects worth ₹100-lakh crore, although the Government has said fiscal constraints are not the trigger for this plan.
  • As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has emphasised, these assets or the land therein will not be sold but private players will be asked to pay for operation and management rights and expected to modernise assets that are either languishing or are simply under-utilised.
  • An infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) structure has already been used this year by the PowerGrid Corporation to raise funds against its transmission lines network and could be used for highways, gas pipelines and railway tracks, including the Dedicated Freight Corridor.
  • For ports, mining, railway stations, concession agreements laying out the contours for a PPP are proposed.
  • About ₹88,000 crore is expected from the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) in this year itself, in addition to the ₹1.75-lakh crore already estimated in the Budget from the sale of public firms such as Air India and BPCL.
  • With proposed concession periods running up to 60 years for some assets, NMP deals, by contrast, could pose a long-term headache if they are not structured with end-user interests in mind, balancing the profit and utility motives.
  • The sharing of risk and rewards between the public and private partners needs to be weighed carefully for each sector.
  • Checks and balances are needed for actual infrastructure usage versus projections at the time of bidding.
  • Just like disinvestment deals during a downturn could crowd out new investments and risk the tag of ‘fire sales’, revenue projections for PPP assets could be deflated now leading to lower bids followed by super-normal gains for the operator in the future.
  • Getting the nitty-gritty right is critical for this grand plan.

The clean-up crew we need | TH

  • Vultures are very important scavengers in our ecosystem, yet India lost more than 95% of its vulture population through the 1990s and by the mid-2000s.
  • Today, the country requires urgent conservation efforts to save vultures from becoming extinct.
  • Vultures are often misunderstood as a source of diseases.
  • Given the lack of understanding and knowledge about them, let’s first understand what vultures do and why they are important.
  • Vultures belong to the Accipitridae family whose members include eagles, hawks and kites.
  • They are relatively social birds with an average lifespan of 10-30 years in the wild.
  • Being bulky, they nest on tall trees or rocky cliffs.
  • Vultures are slow breeders and so the survival of every individual is very crucial.
  • With their excellent eyesight and strong sense of smell, vultures can detect the presence of dead animals from great distances.
  • Vultures don’t have a voice box and so they cannot sing.
  • They communicate via grunts and hisses.
  • Generally, vultures rely on other carnivores to open carcasses.
  • Unlike other raptors, vultures have weak legs and claws (talons).
  • They do not carry food; instead, they regurgitate food and feed their young ones.
  • Vultures have a highly acidic stomach that helps them digest rotting carcass and kill disease-causing bacteria.
  • India has nine species of vultures.
  • Many are critically endangered.
  • The main reason for the decline in the vulture population is the use of the drug, diclofenac.
  • Diclofenac, which relieves cattle of pain, is toxic to vultures even in small doses and causes kidney failure and death.
  • Myths about the medicinal healing powers of vultures’ body parts has led to the hunting of vultures.
  • Quarrying and blasting of stones where vultures nest have also caused their decline.
  • Interestingly, studies show that while the vulture population has declined, the feral dog population has increased.
  • The health hazards associated with feral dogs are well known.
  • Removing vultures from the ecosystem leads to inefficient clearing of carcasses and contaminates water systems.
  • If dead animals are left to rot for long durations, it may give rise to disease-causing pathogens.
  • The animals that consume such flesh become further carriers of disease.
  • Very few animals/birds can ingest rotting carcasses.
  • Thanks to their acidic stomach, vultures can.
  • Thus, they play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem.
  • To tackle this problem, India banned diclofenac for veterinary use in 2006.
  • Five States are to get vulture breeding centres under the Action Plan for Vulture Conservation for 2020-2025, approved in October 2020.
  • There are no rescue centres for treating vultures as of now, so this too has been mooted under the Plan.
  • Vulture ‘restaurants’, which exist in some countries, are also a way of preserving the population.
  • In these ‘restaurants’, diclofenac-free carcasses of cattle are dumped in designated areas where vultures gather to feed.
  • Awareness and action must go hand in hand. With International Vulture Awareness Day coming up on September 4, it is important for us to spread awareness about the importance of vultures in our ecosystem.

Safety net | Pioneer

  • The Government has decided to issue only e-visas to Afghan nationals wanting to evacuate to India.
  • This is to prevent mercenaries and terrorists using the chaotic conditions at the Kabul airport to slip into India or any other country as evacuees.
  • The Indian Government’s decision is a practical one, considering that global intelligence agencies, including from the US and the UK, have already alerted their Governments about plans by the Afghanistan-based terror groups to use the opportunity of a hurried evacuation from Kabul to slip in insurgents, fighters, terrorists and sleeper cell members to various countries for future use.
  • The alarm was originally raised by the Pentagon in the United States that terrorists may have successfully infiltrated the thousands of evacuees from Kabul and some of them may have boarded aircraft for Europe, the US and other countries.
  • The western media is reporting that close to 100 evacuees could be on intelligence watchlists as persons of interest or persons suspected of links with terror groups like the IS.
  • The British also found six people deemed a “direct threat” to the UK among the evacuees.
  • All these countries now insist on Special Immigrant Visas available only online for those flying out of Kabul.
  • Security along the borders in Kashmir, Gujarat and Rajasthan has been tightened and modernised.
  • The recent incidents of drone attacks in Jammu have led to a heightened state of alert.
  • The reports of growing instability in Afghanistan in the last few months have alerted intelligence agencies to be prepared for terrorists entering India in the garb of Afghans fleeing the Taliban.


  • At least 60 civilians and 13 US troops killed in suicide attacks outside Kabul airport in Afghanistan
  • US President Joe Biden vows to complete evacuation of American citizens from Afghanistan despite deadly attack
  • New Delhi strongly condemns bomb blasts in Kabul
  • Evacuating Indians from Afghanistan is top priority of the Govt, says EAM at all-party meet
  • India can lead the world with strength of farmers & scientists, says Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar
  • India achieves unprecedented milestone as 50 pct of the eligible population gets inoculated with first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
  • NEP 2020 will prove instrumental in making today’s generation capable of fulfilling needs & aspirations of 21st century: Prez Kovind
  • PM Modi to dedicate to nation renovated complex of Jallianwala Bagh Smarak at Amritsar
  • Anurag Thakur inaugurates, addresses first IBSA Youth Summit through video conferencing
  • India elected to Council of Administration at 27th UPU Congress in Abidjan
  • World Bank halts funding of projects in Afghanistan following Taliban’s takeover
  • Japan suspends use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine due to contamination
  • Venezuela searches for landslide survivors as more rains fall
  • Bangladesh receives 40 more ambulances from India
  • Myanmar govt in exile committed to repatriation of Rohingyas, repeal of discriminatory 1982 citizenship law

Q.Which country dropped India from the Generalised System of Preferences for exports from developing countries in 2019?

  1. US
  2. China
  3. UK
  4. Pakistan

Q.Which Supreme Court verdict declared that ‘creamy layer’ in a backward community should be excluded from reservation so that the more deserving were able to come up?

  1. S.R. Bommai verdict of 1994
  2. Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992
  3. Navtej Singh Johar verdict of 2018
  4. Kesavananda Bharti verdict of 1973

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