The News Editorial Analysis 22nd Jan 2022

The News Editorial Analysis 22nd Jan 2022

The News Editorial Analysis 22nd Jan 2022

Amar Jawan Jyoti now merged with War Memorial flame: govt.

Congress and some veterans oppose removal of tribute to 1971 Bangladesh war

The iconic Amar Jawan Jyoti, which was inaugurated after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was removed on Friday, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the construction of a statue of Subhas ChandraBose, restructuring the symbolism around the India Gate.In the face of protests from the Congress and some veterans, the Centre said the Jyoti was “not extinguished” and only “merged” with the flame at the National War Memorial (NWM). Mr. Modi said that after Independence, new things were constructed only for a “few families” but now, monuments of national importance were being built.At a ceremony presided over by Air Marshal B.R. Krishna, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, a torch with the flame at the Jyoti was carried with full military honours and merged with the NWM flame.The NWM, inaugurated in February 2019, is located at the ‘C’ Hexagon near India Gate and was built in memory of the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country in the post-Independence period. Names of over 26,000 soldiers are inscribed on it.In a change of tradition, before the commencement of the Republic Day parade in 2020, Mr. Modi paid homage to the fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the NWM, instead of at the Jyoti.Since the inauguration of the NWM, all homage ceremonies are being conducted only there. However, defence officials had stated that the Jyoti would be kept burning and used for ceremonial occasions and official visits.

‘No names mentioned’

Downplaying the controversy that emerged on the issue, a government source said it was odd to see that the Jyoti paid homage to the martyrs of 1971 and other wars but none of their names were present. “The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including those in 1971 and others before and after it, are at the NWM. Hence it is a true shraddhanjali to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there,” the source said.India Gate was a “symbol of our colonial past” as it has only some of those who fought for the British in the First World War and the Anglo Afghan War, the source noted. “It is ironic that people who did not make an NWM for seven decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs.”Mr. Modi said on social media: “At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate. This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.”

Wrong remedy

States have rightly raised questions about proposed rule changes on IAS, IPS deputation

That the wrong remedy could exacerbate an ailment and not cure it is a well understood adage. This holds true for the Union government’s (Department of Personnel & Training – DoPT) proposals to amend Rule 6 related to deputation of cadre officers of the IAS (Cadre) Rules 1954. Reports have shown that the deputation from States to the Union government has been uneven. Some States have not nominated officers for deputation adequately to work with the Union government; in this, West Bengal (11 out of the 280 officers are on central deputation), Rajasthan (13 out of 247) and Telangana (7 out of an authorised strength of 208) stand out. This has led to vacancies across Union government ministries. Numbers accessed by The Hindu show that actual deputation as a percentage of the mandated reserves fell from 69% (2014) to 30% (2021), suggesting that there is merit in the DoPT’s identification of shortages in deputation being an issue. But does this necessitate the rule changes proposed by the DoPT, which include acquiring overriding powers for the Union government that will do away with seeking approval from the States for transferring IAS and IPS officers?

Two of the rules are particularly problematic — in case of any disagreement between the Union and State governments, the States shall give effect to the former’s decision “within a specified time”. And in some “specific situations”, States would have to depute certain cadres whose services are sought by the Union government. These changes amount to arm-twisting States and unwilling bureaucrats to be deputed to serve the Union government and also presenting a fait accompli to States for “specific situations” which have not been defined and prone to misinterpretation and politicisation. These proposed changes have unsurprisingly raised the hackles of State governments. As governance responsibilities during the pandemic have shown, States are quite dependent upon the bureaucracy, and deputation to the Union government should not be done at the cost of State requirements. Also, the Union government must address the key question of the reluctance of capable civil servants to be deputed away from the States. Reports have indicated that civil servants have found the top-down culture in Union government offices to be stifling and prefer the relative autonomy at the State level. There is clearly a need for a more qualitative approach that tackles such work culture issues. Besides, a State-by-State look at deputation that disincentivises those States which depute officers much below the mandated numbers to the Union government by adjusting future cadre strength reviews by the Union Public Service Commission should also address the shortage problem. These steps are better than any rule changes that amount to fiats striking at federalism.

Himalayan questions

Environmental issues have failed to dominate the campaign in an eco-fragile Uttarakhand

In the run-up to the February 14 Uttarakhand Assembly elections, temples and development are among the issues raised by politicians. Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s attempt to bring the four shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri as well as other temples under one board ended with the 2019 Act being withdrawn in November 2021, after continued opposition from priests. The new Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, who in July 2021 replaced Tirath Singh Rawat, who had replaced Mr. Trivendra Singh Rawat in March of the same year, carried out a review. Mr. Dhami said while the decision to constitute the board may have been taken with good intentions, it had been rolled back after discussion within the Government. Going into the elections, everyone from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to local leaders in the BJP have touted the redevelopment of Kedarnath as among the achievements of what they call the “double engine” government in the Centre and Uttarakhand. In December, Mr. Modi inaugurated the start of the Lakhwar multipurpose project and ₹8,700 crore-worth of road projects. With the Government backing major infrastructure projects, Mr. Modi termed this the decade of Uttarakhand. While environmentalists have raised concerns over rules being broken for the large infrastructure projects, major parties have not yet raised the environmental concerns.

Issues of national security and the welfare of ex-service members are also dominating the campaign. With a large population of retired soldiers, Uttarakhand politics has always witnessed some grandstanding on issues that appeal to them. The brother of the late Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, Col. (retd.) Vijay Rawat, joined the BJP this week. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has projected another retired colonel, Ajay Kothiyal, as its chief ministerial candidate and promised government jobs to all ex-service members in the State. Mr. Dhami has spoken as the “son of a soldier” and said the BJP alone respects the forces. The BJP is trying to fight anti-incumbency and the impression that it is a divided house, having changed two Chief Ministers within months in 2021. The Congress is hoping to wrest back power, after having lost it in 2017. Infighting and tussles over ticket distribution within the party have come out into the open, with former Chief Minister Harish Rawat being one of the claimants to the leadership position. AAP has joined the race with the promise of development, replicating the Delhi model, and an end to the “power sharing” between the BJP and the Congress. A raft of promises, from free water and electricity to better schools, is being made. What is lacking is an informed debate on a development model that is suitable to the ecologically fragile place that Uttarakhand is.

The ground rules of ‘the one land of many’

Today, some in positions of power in India seem to be questioning those rules — which makes it crucial to reaffirm themThis month we celebrate another Republic Day, the 72nd anniversary of the entry into force of our Constitution. In so doing we reaffirm the essence of Indian nationalism, reified in a constitution adopted after almost three years of debate, and in the process implicitly salute the ‘idea of India’ that emerged from both the nationalist movement and its institutionalisation in the Republic.

A gift and a vision

The idea of India as a modern nation based on a certain conception of human rights and citizenship, vigorously backed by due process of law, and equality before law, is a gift of the Constitution. Earlier conceptions of India drew their inspiration from mythology and theology. The modern idea of India, despite the mystical influence of Tagore, and the spiritual and moral influences of Gandhiji, is a robustly secular and legal construct based upon the vision and intellect of our founding fathers, notably (in alphabetical order) Ambedkar, Nehru, and Patel. The Preamble of the Constitution itself is the most eloquent enumeration of this vision. In its description of the defining traits of the Indian republic, and its conception of justice, of liberty, of equality and fraternity, it firmly proclaims that the law will be the bedrock of the national project.To my mind, the role of liberal constitutionalism in shaping and undergirding the civic nationalism of India is the dominant strand in the broader story of the evolution and modernisation of Indian society over the last century. The principal task of any Constitution is to constitute: that is, to define the rules, the shared norms, values and systems under which the state will function and the nation will evolve. The way in which the ideals embedded in that document were implemented and evolved, in a spirit of civic nationalism, through the first seven and a half decades of India’s independence, have determined the kind of country we are.

To shape a new citizen

Every society has an interdependent relationship with the legal systems that govern it, which is both complex and, especially in our turbulent times, continuously and vociferously contested. It is through this interplay that communities become societies, societies become civilisations, and civilisations acquire a sense of national and historical character. The Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, not only understood this but explicitly hoped the Constitution would help shape a new kind of citizen. ‘I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way affected by any competitive loyalty,’ said the great constitutionalist, ‘whether that loyalty arises out of our religion, out of our culture or out of our language. I want all people to be Indians first, Indian last and nothing else but Indians.’

This was a greater challenge than it might have been in another country than India. It was not just the elements he mentioned — religion, culture and language — that divided Indians and seemed to fly in the face of an idea of shared citizenship. There was, as Ambedkar knew all too well, the dark shadow of caste and social hierarchy. ‘In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?’ Ambedkar famously asked.

Incorporating the underclass

Ambedkar’s eloquent assault on discrimination and untouchability for the first time cogently expanded the reach of the Indian idea to incorporate the nation’s vast, neglected underclass. Ambedkar — a product of Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and principal of the prestigious Government Law College in Bombay — was deeply troubled by the iniquities of the caste system and the fear of many Dalits that national independence would merely lead to the social and political dominance of the upper castes. As an opponent of caste tyranny, and a nationalist, he believed that Dalits must support India’s freedom from British rule but that they must pursue their struggle for equal rights within the framework of the new constitution that he had a major hand in drafting.Despite his own pessimism, Ambedkar’s solution has worked. As I had pointed out in this space, the most important contribution of the Constitution to Indian civic nationalism was that of representation centred on individuals. The establishment of a constitutional democracy in post-colonial India involved an attempt to free Indians from prevailing types of categorisation, and to place each citizen in a realm of individual agency that went beyond the immutable identity conferred by birth. In the process the Constitution transcended all those identities that both defined and divided Indians.The Constitution provided a legal structure to an implicit idea of India as of one land embracing many. It reflected the idea that a nation may incorporate differences of caste, creed, colour, culture, cuisine, conviction, consonant, costume, and custom, and still rally around a democratic consensus. That consensus is around the simple principle that in a democracy under the rule of law, you do not really need to agree all the time — except on the ground rules of how you will disagree. The reason India has survived all the stresses and strains that have beset it for three quarters of a century (and that led so many in the 1950s and 1960s to predict its imminent disintegration), is that it maintained consensus on how to manage without consensus. Today, some in positions of power in India seem to be questioning those ground rules, and that, sadly, is why it is all the more essential to reaffirm them now.

The rule of law

Indian nationalism is thus the nationalism of an idea, the idea of what I have dubbed an ever-ever land — emerging from an ancient civilisation, united by a shared history, sustained by pluralist democracy under the rule of law. What knits this entire concept of Indian nationhood together is, of course, the rule of law, enshrined in our Constitution.

The struggle for Indian independence was, after all, not simply a struggle for freedom from alien rule. It was a shift away from an administration of law and order centred on imperial despotism. It is from this that the idea of ‘constitutional morality’ was born, meaning a national commitment to pursuing desirable ends through constitutional means, to upholding and respecting the Constitution’s processes and structures, and to doing so in a spirit of transparency and accountability, free speech, public scrutiny of government actions and legal limitations on the exercise of power. This was how freedom was intended to flourish in India.

The Constitution’s spirit

Of course, Ambedkar realised it is perfectly possible to pervert the Constitution, without changing its form, by merely changing the form of the administration to make it inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution. Ambedkar argued that constitutional morality ‘is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic’. He insisted that the Directive Principles — an unusual feature of the Indian Constitution not found elsewhere — were necessary because although the rules of democracy mandated that the people must elect those who will hold power, the principles confirmed that ‘whoever captures power will not be free to do what he likes with it’.To recall these basic principles today is to recognise how far we are currently straying from them, and the dangers inherent in the present government’s practice of paying lip-service to the Constitution while trampling on its spirit. This Republic Day, as we gear up to commemorate the 75th anniversary of our Independence a little over six months later, we must remind ourselves of, and rededicate ourselves to, the ideals that lie behind the Constitution whose entry into force we all celebrate on January 26.

3.33 lakh new cases reported

Active cases crossed the 20.18-lakh mark; total number of infections at 3.88 cr.

The country recorded 3,33,238 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a 24% increase from a week ago. The total number of infections has reached 3.88 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 20.18-lakh mark.The figures are based on the State bulletins released until 9.30 p.m. on Friday. However, Ladakh, Tripura, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep had not yet released data for the day.Maharashtra recorded 48,270 infections, followed by Karnataka (48,049) and Kerala (41,668).On Friday, 470 deaths were recorded in India, considerably higher than the average levels recorded in the last week. The total number of recorded fatalities has reached 4,88,899.Kerala reported the most deaths with 106 fatalities, followed by Maharashtrai (52) and Delhi (38).On Thursday, 19.35 lakh tests were conducted (the results for which were made available on Friday), the highest on a single day in the ongoing wave.The test positivity rate (the number of cases detected per 100 tests) was 17.21%. As of Thursday, 90.9% of the eligible population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, while 66.5% have received both doses.In the 15-17 age cohort, 54.7% of the population have received their first dose.Altogether, 92,61,62,594 first doses, 67,80,50,628 second doses, and 71,46,660 booster doses have been administered across India.Gujarat recorded 21,225 new Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths, taking the active cases to 1,16,843 out of which 172 patients are on ventilator support.On Friday, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel held a review meeting in which it has been decided to extend the night curfew in major cities as well as towns in the state.Accordingly, night curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be in place till January 29.Meanwhile, Gujarat’s Revenue and Law Minister Rajendra Trivedi also tested COVID-19 positive on Friday. Earlier, two other Ministers also tested positive and are home quarantined.Telangana tested 120,243 samples and logged 4416 new cases, increasing total cases to 29,127 by 5.30 p.m. on Friday, according to the medical bulletin issued by the Department of Healt

Setting sail for a powerful India-German partnership

The Indo-Pacific, with India as its centrepiece, features prominently in Germany’s foreign policy outreachA military vessel probably will not be your first thought when it comes to Germany’s role in India. Nonetheless, against all COVID odds and with due health precautions in place, the German Navy frigate Bayern landed in Mumbai on Thursday, January 20, 2022. A port call (picture) which might be business as usual for India with regard to many other friendly countries is, on close inspection, a remarkable step for Indo-German relations.

The setting of a new order

Germany has realised that the world’s political and economic centre of gravity is, to a large degree, shifting to the Indo-Pacific region, with India as a key player, strategic partner and long-standing democratic friend at the hub. Here is where a significant part of the future international order is being shaped. The visit of the Bayern shows that we are not just talking. Here is a concrete outcome of the Indo-Pacific Policy Guidelines that Germany adopted in autumn 2020 and the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Strategy published last year. So why did we come up with such guidelines at this particular time?

Germany is determined to contribute to buttressing the rules-based international order at a time when it is exposed to grave challenges. For Europe, just like for India, it is vital that trade routes stay open, that freedom of navigation is upheld and that disputes are resolved peacefully on the basis of international law. India is a maritime powerhouse and a strong advocate for free and inclusive trade — and, therefore, a primary partner on that mission.

The challenges

The Indo-Pacific, with India as its centrepiece, looms large in Germany’s and the European Union’s foreign policy. Why? The Indo-Pacific region is home to around 65% of the global population and 20 of the world’s 33 megacities. The region accounts for 62% of global GDP and 46% of the world’s merchandise trade. On the other hand, it is also the source of more than half of all global carbon emissions. This makes the region’s countries key partners in tackling global challenges such as climate change and sustainable energy production and consumption.As much as India, Germany is a trading nation. More than 20% of German trade is conducted in the Indo-Pacific neighbourhood. This is why Germany and India share a responsibility to maintain and support stability, prosperity and freedom in this part of the world. Europe’s key interests are at stake when championing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The Bayern’s seven-month journey in the region is coming full circle in India. Even before its first port call, the Indian Navy “greeted” the Bayern on the high seas and our troops undertook a joint passing exercise — a strong and warm Indian welcome for Germany to the region. After having visited Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore and other countries in the region, Mumbai is the last station before the Bayern sets course to return to Germany. Our message is one of cooperation and inclusiveness. But inclusiveness does not mean blind equidistance. We will not stand by when the multilateral order is challenged and when attempts are made to try to place the law of power over the power of law. The Bayern participated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union missions Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean Sea and Operation ATALANTA — formally European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia — in the Arabian Sea. On her way from Tokyo to Busan, she helped monitor United Nations sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A chance for coordination

After 16 years of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, Olaf Scholz took the helm of the German government in December 2021. During their inaugural conversation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he agreed that as major democracies and strategic partners, India and Germany will step up their cooperation to tackle common challenges, with climate change on top of the agenda.No global problem can be solved without India’s active involvement. This year, Germany will hold the G7 Presidency, and from December 2022, India will assume the same role for the G20. This is an opportunity for joint and coordinated action.

I am particularly confident about one aspect of our relations: Germany cooperates with India to the tune of €1.3 billion a year in development projects, 90% of which serves the purpose of fighting climate change, saving natural resources as well as promoting clean and green energy. No country receives more such support from Germany than India. What world leaders agreed upon at COP26 in Glasgow, Germany and India are putting into practice. Together we work on a sustainable path for India’s growth that will benefit both our countries. For example, we have been supporting the construction of a huge solar plant in Maharashtra’s Dhule (Sakri). With a capacity of 125 Megawatt, it serves 2,20,000 households and generates annual CO2 savings of 155,000 tons.As India celebrates 75 years of independence, this visit sends a signal of friendship and cooperation. We are setting sail for a powerful partnership, in calm waters and heavy seas alike. And hopefully, we will exceed your expectations, every once in a while.

Stop import of Iranian apples: dealers to Ministry

The illegal sale poses quarantine pest threat to local fruit producing regions, says a joint forumA joint forum of apple dealers from Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand chapters has written a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture to stop “the illegal sale of Iranian apples which is posing quarantine pest threat” to local apple producing regions of the country.“We demand an immediate ban should be imposed on the import of apples from Iran and the duty for other imported apples be raised to 100% with a minimum billing of $1/kg for calculation of duty to avoid dumping of produce in our country,” reads the joint letter submitted to Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar.The joint letter has been forwarded by the Hill States Horticulture Forum, with its Kashmir Chapter headed by Majid Aslam Wafai, the Himachal Chapter by Harish Chauhan and the Uttarakhand Chapter by Praveen Kumar.The letter said if the action was not initiated, it would affect the income of farmers, the fresh fruit sector and the future export potential of these fruits from our country.“Take this communication as an SOS message from the farmers,” the letter said.According to apple dealers of these three regions, fresh fruit traders have started to import Iran’s fresh apples unlike last year and have started to dump them in the Indian market “at unexpected prices”.They are adopting a different strategy by “heavily under-invoicing the bills, thereby reducing the impact of import duty”.This, according to dealers, in spite of Iranian apples posing “a greater threat to our country’s apples after quarantine pest AspidiotusNerii detected from kiwi consignments from Iran in December last year.”According to the letter, the experts at the Sher-i-Kashmir Agriculture University and Science Technology (SKUAST), Srinagar have made it clear that if such pests enter the territory of any apple producing State it would be a catastrophe.

Niti Aayog wants EVs on RBI’s priority lending list

The News Editorial Analysis 22nd Jan 2022

Banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in India have the potential to achieve an electric vehicle (EV) financing market size of Rs 40,000 crore ($5 billion) by 2025 and Rs 3.7 lakh crore ($50 billion) by 2030, said NITI Aayog in a report and proposed the government to include EVs in the Reserve Bank of India’s priority-sector lending guidelines.The report which is prepared with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India notes that given the nascency of EV technology and adoption, financial institutions such as banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) are not lending to EVs due to associated asset and business model risks. “These risks are both real (e.g., uncertainty of resale value) and perceived (e.g., product quality). As a result, if financing is available, EV buyers are unable to obtain terms (i.e., interest rates and tenures) that are comparable to ICE vehicles, the report said.  The report indicates that electric two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and commercial four-wheelers are early segments to prioritise under PSL. Moving forward, the engagement of other ministries and industry stakeholders will be important to ensuring the guidelines designed can effectively enhance EV investment in India.The public and private sector investments and initiatives in the EV ecosystem are accelerating capital deployment towards India’s electric mobility transition. The government’s flagship initiatives FAME II, PLI for ACC batteries and automotive manufacturing amount to total investment of Rs 60,000 crore. However, in terms of sales, EVs represent a little over 1% of the market.

Loving and loathing of foreign donations

22nd January

We love to receive funds from abroad. We are proud when India’s FDI inflows exceed China’s. We are happy to receive billions of dollars as NRI remittances. In the same breath, when civil society organisations (NGOs) receive donations from abroad, we loathe them, view them with suspicion and even ban them.

Why is there such a dichotomy in our perceptions?

For sure, the reasons are political or, rather, ideological, and not due to economics. A study of the policies pursued under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 (FCRA) and how they morphed over the years may be instructive.The FCRA had its roots in the pre-Emergency era when the country was passing through political and social turmoil. Indira Gandhi was under attack and felt politically insecure. These were also the Cold War years when foreign intelligence agencies like the CIA, KGB, MI-6, etc., were rumoured to be engaging in disruptive activities by covertly financing politicians, parties, journalists and academics.The IB had unearthed some instances of anti-national and disruptive character. Several reports of foreign “spying” made their way into the press and whipped up xenophobia. The government swung into action. The Ford Foundation was directed to wind up its operations.Cultural centres attached to foreign missions were required to close down. Many like the British Council or Kennedy Centre chose to get integrated with their embassies. Behind all these convulsions, there emerged a national consensus to adopt legislation to regulate foreign contributions.The FCRA Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 24 December 1973 and forwarded to the joint committee on 19 February 1974. The committee held 33 sittings at different places and took the views of all the political parties and state governments. The Bill was passed by both the Houses a few years later. This is in sharp contrast to how the BJP rushes sweeping changes through both Houses without any discussion.As long as the UPA was in power, the FCRA operated benignly with a broad mandate of national security. Once the NDA (BJP) came to power, the contents of what constituted “national security” changed drastically. The FCRA turned into a draconian instrument to push forward the ideology of the ruling party. It was also an instrument to silence activists.The government cancelled the licenses of 20,000 NGOs. They were viewed by the Centre (home ministry?) as promoting anti-development negativism. Unfortunately, this is a charge that can be levelled against any genuine or well-meaning critic of the government’s policies. As there is neither transparency nor accountability, the affected parties have no recourse to justice.A petition challenging this is pending in the Supreme Court. The government has argued that there is no fundamental right to receive foreign donations; the FCRA does not come under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as the home ministry has argued while answering a petition by a newspaper.I may add here that I was handling the FCRA matters in the finance ministry when the debate was going on. When the Cabinet Paper for introducing the Bill came to us, I G Patel, then secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, doubted whether foreign interference could be controlled through the FCRA. However, he minuted that neither the finance ministry nor the banks should be involved in its administration. Thus, it was entirely left to the home ministry.Once the BJP assumed office, it seized the potential of the FCRA and how its scope could be extended, and the rules and reporting requirements were tightened. Often for routine delays or errors, licences were cancelled. If the MHA on inspection of accounts and records finds any adverse inputs, it can suspend the license. The MHA’s sway over NGOs reached its apogee with the passing of the FCRA Amendment Bill, 2020. It was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha on 21 September 2020 and the Rajya Sabha a couple of days later.It is a body blow to the NGOs functioning in India. The apex body of Indian voluntary organisations VANI said it will be a “death blow to the development relief, scientific research and community work of the NGO community as it prohibits collaboration with other Indian organisations”. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned the adoption of the Bill. The ICJ’s Policy Director Ian Seiderman said, “The spirit of the Bill is to stigmatise certain NGOs and lend credence to the authoritarian voices that have attacked them as ‘anti-national’.”The BJP seems to have learnt from the bitter experience of the UPA government during its second term. Those years were rife with corruption or rumours of graft at high levels. The BJP highlighted this sordid record and assured the voters of a clean corruption-free government. It is quite likely that the government has been able to shut out all rumours. This has been through the ferocious enforcement of the FCRA. The corruption-free record has come with a tattered human rights reputation.

The News Editorial Analysis 21st Jan 2022 

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