Q1. Comment on the rationality of The government recently mooted radical proposal for allocating services and cadres based on the combined marks obtained in the CSE and the foundation course.
Candidates who have cleared the CSE will have to wait till the foundation course is over to know which service and cadre they are likely to get. The government has said that this is a suggestion under consideration and that no final decision has been taken yet. There are good reasons to believe that the new proposal is legally unsound, administratively unfeasible and has not been thought through properly.
- First, Articles 315 to 323 of the Constitution deal with Public Service Commissions of the Union and the States. Article 320(1) says: “It shall be the duty of the Union and the State Public Service Commission to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the Union and the services of the State respectively.”
- Thus, the duty of conducting the CSE is vested only in the UPSC. If the marks secured in the foundation course in the training academy are included for allocation for services, it would make the training academy an extended wing of the UPSC, which it is not. Therefore the new proposal violates Article 320(1).
- Second, the Chairperson and members of the UPSC are constitutional functionaries. Article 316 provides for security of their tenure and unchangeable conditions of service and Article 319 bars them from holding further office on ceasing to be members. These constitutional safeguards enable them to function independently without fear or favour.
- On the other hand, the Director of the training academy that conducts the foundation course is a career civil servant on deputation, and she can be summarily transferred. The faculty members of the training academy are either career civil servants on deputation or academicians. Neither do they enjoy the constitutional protection that the UPSC members enjoy nor is there any bar on their holding further posts.
- This means that the Director and faculty members will not be able to withstand pressure from politicians, senior bureaucrats and others to give more marks to favoured candidates. They will actively try to please the powers-that-be in order to advance their own career prospects. There is also the grave risk of corruption in the form of ‘marks for money’ in the training academy. Politicisation and communalisation of the services are likely to take place from the beginning.
- Third, the training academy has facilities to handle not more than 400 candidates for the foundation course. If this limit is exceeded, the foundation course will have to be conducted in other training academies situated in other cities. With only about 12 faculty members in the training academy in Mussoorie, the trainer-trainee ratio for the foundation course is very high, and it will be impossible to do the kind of rigorous and objective evaluation that is required under the government’s new proposal. Needless to say, the evaluation of the trainees will be even less rigorous and objective when the foundation course is conducted in training academies situated elsewhere. It is well known that competition in the CSE is very intense. The difference of a few marks can decide whether a candidate will get the IAS or, say, the Indian Ordnance Factories Service. Therefore, the inclusion of the highly subjective foundation course marks can play havoc with the final rankings and with the allocation of services and cadres, and ruin countless careers.
- Fourth, while about 600-1,000 candidates are selected every year for all the services put together, nearly 60-70% of the candidates qualifying for the IPS and Central Services Group A do not join the foundation course in Mussoorie as they prepare for the civil services (main) examination again to improve their prospects.
Clearly, it is not possible to evaluate such candidates in the foundation course as contemplated in the new proposal. They cannot be compelled to attend the foundation course because that would amount to depriving them of their chance of taking the examination again. So, the new proposal is administratively unworkable.
Q2. Sustainable development principles were kept at bay while the licences were issued to the tuticorin based Sterlite industries ltd thoothukudi plant.Comment
Sterlite Industries Ltd’s Thoothukudi plant was sealed after the Tamil Nadu government ordered its permanent closure in the wake of last week’s firing that killed 13 people protesting against the plant.
“Under section 18(1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974, in the larger public interest, the government endorses the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and also directs the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently,” an order from the environment and forests department said.
It also said that under the Article 48 A of the Constitution, “the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country”.
Minutes after the government issued the order, Thoothukudi district collector Sandeep Nanduri sealed the Sterlite campus.
The people of the port town, who have been protesting against Sterlite Industries for over two decades, had intensified their agitation in the last few months, when TNPCB issued ‘consent to establish’ licences to the copper smelting unit for its expansion plans that would double Sterlite’s production to 800,000 metric tonnes per annum.
On 22 May, as thousands marched towards the district collector’s office demanding the closure of the copper smelting unit, the protest turned violent and police opened fire. According to the state government, 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
A day after the violence, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court passed an interim order on a public interest litigation (PIL), staying the expansion of the plant. The PIL had demanded cancellation of the environmental clearance, stating that the company had obtained it without conducting a public hearing as prescribed by the Environmental Impact Assessment notification.
The order issued by the state on Monday also highlighted that the TNPCB “did not renew the consent to operate (licence) to Vedanta Ltd’s Copper Smelter Plant” in its order dated 9 April.
Since the last week of March, the unit has remained shut for its annual maintenance, according to the company. TNPCB also disconnected the power supply to the unit on 24 May.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said in Chennai that the state government has decided to shut the plant based on the request of the people who have strongly opposed it.
Q3. India’s planned Rs 40,000-crore deal to buy the sophisticated, long-range S-400 air defence system from Russia would “complicate” building inter-operability between the United States (US) and Indian militaries.Comment
“There is a lot of concern in the US in both the administration and the Congress regarding the S-400 (missile) system. And there is concern that any country, and it is not just India that is looking at clearing it, but any country that acquires that system will complicate our ability to work out inter-operability,” Republican Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services, told a group of journalists in Delhi. So that is completely apart from any sanctions, legislation. I hope the government (of India) will take its time and consider very carefully the acquiring of that system because the difficulties it may pose for us.
The panel oversees the Pentagon, all military services and all departments of defence agencies, including their budgets and policies. Thornberry and three other members of the panel were in Delhi enroute to the 17th Asia Security Summit (Shangri La Dialogue 2018) in Singapore. He said the US was making sanctions against Russia “flexible” for its allies like India to allow them breathing room to continue dealing with Moscow only to maintain their legacy equipment but at the sametime, they must wean themselves off Russian equipment.
The US sanctions against Russian oligarchs and companies, including Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian weapons trading company, has raised concerns in India about a possible impact on India’s military buys from Moscow, particularly the deal to procure S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile systems. The missile system is billed as a game changer by the Indian military for its ability to counter ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft like those China is developing. India and Russia signed an agreement in principle for the S-400 deal in 2016.
India’s deep military and strategic ties with Russia date back to the beginning of the Cold War even as New Delhi led a movement of “non-aligned” countries that declared their tilt with neither Washington nor Moscow. However, India always leaned toward the USSR.
India still buys over 60 percent of its defence equipment from Russia. At present, the Indian armed forces are 70 percent equipped with Soviet or Russian weapons.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is awaiting a Senate nod and was passed by the House on 24 May, would allow the Trump administration to suspend the sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
But the President, in order to seek the waiver, has to make a certification to Congress that the country subject to sanctions and seeking relaxation is altering its relationship with Russia.
The current sanctions bill that was just signed in the law last fall doesn’t really have much flexibility. But the bill that passed by the House on Thursday adds more flexibility for nations like India who have a legacy of Russian military equipment and of course need to purchase spare parts in order to maintain the readiness of that equipment.
There is an understanding both in the administration and in Congress that some additional flexibility in that law is needed and I believe that there will be…we have to take our bill and reconcile it with the Senate version. But I think there will be some additional flexibility that is… It is not just India there are some other nations as well
He said the flexibility at this point allowed the Secretary of Defense some discussion if a country was reducing its dependency on Russia and “has a desire to continue to do so”. Some of the government officials (in India) believe that the language could be improved. I am certainly willing to hear suggestions from not only the Indian government but other governments only.
Q4.Throw light on the importance of informal meet at SOCHI between India and Russia.
With his visit to Sochi to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for a day-long “informal summit”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to set a new normal in his foreign policy outreach. As was his Wuhan meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Sochi visit was aimed at resetting and rebalancing bilateral ties that have weakened over the past few years.
The special understanding between India and Russia has frayed, with India drifting closer to the U.S. and Russia to China.
The personal touches — hugs, handshakes, a boat ride on the Black Sea — projected the impression of two strong leaders addressing each other’s concerns “man to man”. Substantively, Mr. Modi’s visit was premised on a number of new realities facing India.
First, India’s existing dependence on Russian military hardware, with orders for about $12 billion more in the pipeline, must not be jeopardised at any cost. These have been made more difficult by a new U.S. law (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) that would hit India’s big-ticket hardware purchases and energy deals from Russia, and Mr. Modi would have wanted to reassure Mr. Putin that India will not bow to such pressure.
Second, Russia’s recent military exercises and helicopter sales to Pakistan as well as its outreach to the Afghan Taliban have been viewed with deep concern by India, which has sought to extract assurances that this would not in any way hurt its national security interests.
Third, the new push to strengthen ties is driven by the global instability that the Donald Trump administration has set off. India appears to have decided it can no longer depend on consistency in the U.S.’s foreign policy.
As a result, the recalibration of Mr. Modi’s foreign policy from its perceived Western tilt to a more even-handed approach of aligning with all in India’s interests is welcome. Informal summits of the kind in Sochi and Wuhan are also useful to break the ice and reset relations when needed.
But a comprehensive shift in foreign policy must be accompanied by greater transparency. If India is contemplating a turnaround from its earlier postures with world powers, it needs to explain the change of course.