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- The people of Maldives voted for change and brought to power the Opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- They came out in huge numbers with the turnout being 89.2% and dealt a decisive blow to Mr. Yameen.
- The interim results of Sunday’s presidential election in the Maldives have given the joint opposition candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih a victory in the direct contest with the incumbent, Abdulla Yameen.
Positive aspects of the Election with respect to India
- There was a turnout of 89.2% . President Yameen conceded defeat and vowed to ensure a smooth transition.
- New Delhi must stay clear of partisan positioning on the internal politics of the Maldives.
- The larger agenda must be to partner the Maldives in its stability and development rather than engaging in a tug of war with China
Mr. Yameen also fostered closer ties with China and Saudi Arabia, ignoring India and even pulling the Maldives out of the Commonwealth in 2016.
Tilt towards China
- The alacrity with which Mr. Yameen embraced China caught India off guard. During his China visit last year, the two nations signed 12 pacts, including a free trade agreement (FTA).
- Yameen not only fully endorsed China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Road initiative but also made the Maldives the second country in South Asia, after Pakistan, to enter into an FTA with China.
- The Yameen government pushed the FTA through the nation’s Parliament, the Majlis, stealthily, with the opposition not attending the parliamentary session.
- The opposition accused the Yameen government of allowing a Chinese ‘land grab’ of Maldivian islands, key infrastructure, and even essential utilities, which not only undermines the independence of the Maldives, but the security of the entire Indian Ocean region.
- The massive infrastructure growth funded by Chinese debt was a key part of Mr. Yameen’s election campaign but the massive debt trap made it a difficult proposition to be accepted.
- India’s Ministry of External Affairs said Sunday’s election marked not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law.
Challenges ahead for the Maldives
- Democratic institutions have been weakened and a fragile democracy can also be susceptible to radical ideologies if not effectively governed.
- China’s economic presence in the Maldives is a reality that all governments will have to contend with.
Lessons for India
- Yameen’s ouster has certainly produced a favourable outcome for New Delhi and it should seize the moment to rebuild ties with Male.
- If there is one lesson out of the Maldives crisis, it is that political elites in India’s neighbours will come and go but if India can stand together with the aspirations of citizens of neighbouring countries, then the prospects of a long-term sustainable relationship will be much brighter.
- India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of investment in human capital.
- The study is based on analysis of data from government agencies, schools, and health care systems.
- The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list.
- The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
- South Asian countries ranking below India in this report include Pakistan (164), Bangladesh (161) and Afghanistan (188).
- Countries in the region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Nepal (156), Bhutan (133) and Maldives (116).
- India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990.
- The findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP.
- It also shows that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the economy.
- The Supreme Court has held that there was no bar on legislators doubling up as lawyers.
- The writ petition, filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, had argued that legislators donning the lawyers’ robes is a matter of serious concern to the judiciary.
- Upadhyay had argued that lawmakers drew their salaries and pensions from the public exchequer and hence could be classified as employees.
- The Bench dismissed the arguments made in the petition that such legal practice by lawmakers was in violation of Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Act, which forbade an advocate to be full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practise.
- More importantly, the Supreme Court said there is no conflict of interest if the MPs are allowed to practise law in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts before the very judges they have power to impeach.
- The conferment of power on the legislators (MPs) to move an impeachment motion against the judge(s) of constitutional courts does not per se result in conflict of interest or a case of impacting constitutional morality or for that matter institutional integrity.
- The judgment said lawmakers could not be described as full-time salaried employees of the State. They were elected representatives and occupied a unique position in our democracy.
- The judgment by a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud comes as a great relief to many sitting MPs of both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, who are practising lawyers in the Supreme Court and in the High Courts.
- There is a tangled relationship between political effectiveness and criminal strength in Indian politics
- The Supreme Court (SC) was never going to be able to untangle this knot
- In its Public Interest Foundation & Ors. versus Union of India & Anr. judgement SC has wisely recognized this
- Any judicial attempt to broaden the criteria for membership of Parliament beyond the constitutional provisions laid out from Article 102(1)(a) to 102(1)(d) would have been disastrous on multiple fronts
Reasoning behind the judgment
- There are numerous Indian laws that have no place in a modern republic
- These range from Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalizing sedition to Sections 499 and 500 recognizing criminal defamation
- The Indian state—no matter the party in power—has used and abused these laws with abandon
- It should not be handed the tools to lock inconvenient individuals out of the political process
- This is what disqualifying citizens from contesting elections at any stage of a criminal process prior to conviction would amount to
Directives by SC
- The SC has limited itself to mandating that all candidates contesting an election publicise any criminal cases pending against them to the party and to the public at large
- The court assumes that the problem is one of an information gap for voters
Is the SC mandate enough?
- The SC had mandated disclosure of criminals’ antecedents in 2003
- Despite this increase in public awareness, the proportion of members of Parliament facing criminal charges and criminal charges of a serious nature, respectively, grew from 24% and 12% in 2004 to 30% and 15% in 2009 and 34% and 21% in 2014
- Indeed, a candidate facing a criminal case was thrice as likely to win in these elections as one without
Reasons for the criminalisation of politics
- At the heart of politics is the rational principal-agent relationship
- The public agent—the political candidate is not a perfect agent, immune to his own interests and those of the lobbies of several private agents who can put pressure on him
- The principal— the voting public has its own rational interests
- The trick is building institutions that hold out the promise of the right payoffs within the law
- In India, the wrong rules and institutions, along with historical happenstance, have ensured that the rational quest for payoffs leads politicians and voters outside the law
Changes that led to illegal money in politics
- When Indira Gandhi banned corporate campaign financing in 1969, she simultaneously destroyed her party’s local power centres in an attempt to centralize authority
- This ensured that the Congress lacked the ability to raise sufficient funds and had to rely more heavily on illegal money
- . The subsequent warping of Lohiaite politics, paired with state institutions that lacked the capacity to deliver public goods and services, meant that it was in voters’ interests to vote along caste lines for in-group strongmen who could deliver public goods and services to them—and resources to political parties
- Political parties will rarely introduce governance reforms when the payoffs are bigger for not doing so
- But sustaining economic growth is difficult without improving state capabilities and capacities
- Developed economies with lower levels of corruption have undergone the process of cleansing at various historical junctures
- This was not a result of a change in people, but mainly because the rules which were implemented that created a specific pay-off system
- A new study released by Azim Premji University’s Centre for Sustainable Employment named the ‘State of Working India 2018’ confirms the spectre of jobless growth
- The study contends that the divergence between growth and jobs had increased over time
- In the 1970s and 80s, when GDP growth was around 3-4%, employment growth was about 2%
- Currently, the ratio of GDP growth to employment growth is less than 0.1 i.e. a 10% increase in GDP results in a less than 1% increase in employment
Findings of the study
- The study uses government data to show that total employment actually shrank by seven million between 2013 and 2015
- It cites private data to posit that an absolute decline has continued in the years since
- Unemployment has risen to more than 5% overall
- In geographic terms, north Indian States are the most severely affected, while in demographic terms, young people with higher education levels suffer an unemployment rate as high as 16%
- Rural wage growth collapsed in 2014 and has not risen since
- In the organised manufacturing sector, though the number of jobs has grown, there has also been an increase in the share of contract work, which offers lower wages and less job security
Divergence in productivity and wages
- There is a divergence of productivity and wages in the organised manufacturing sector
- Labour productivity in the sector is six times higher than it was 30 years ago but managerial and supervisory salaries have only tripled in the same period
- The production workers’ wages have grown a measly 1.5 times
Caste gap in jobs
- With regard to earnings, the caste gap is actually larger
- Dalits and Adivasis are over-represented in low-paying occupations and severely under-represented in higher-paying ones
- They earn only 55-56% of upper caste workers’ earnings
- The government ought to formulate a National Employment Policy that takes these trends into account
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