24 Oct 2017 Hindu Editorial Analysis

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Brinkmanship in Spain : Catalan Conflict

Brinkmanship in Spain on Catalonia Conflict between catalans & spanish government
Brinkmanship in Spain on Catalonia Conflict between catalans & spanish government

After the referendum happened in Catalonia on 1 October, the conflict between Spanish & Catalan govt is rising because none of the side is ready to compromise & neither Spanish King involves in this matter & takes control of this situation.

Why conflict was happened ?

Catalan govt went ahead with the illegal referendum on 1st October, which completely disregards the Spanish legal norms. To take control of the situation, Spanish govt retaliated with the use of force & also banned any parliamentary activity in Catalonia. In recent decision, Spanish govt also impose the direct rule on Catalonia.

Spain could easily invoke Article 155 of the constitution which allows to for direct rule to be imposed in any of the country’s autonomous regions and effectively allows the Spanish government to forcibly take control of Catalonia’s administrative bodies.

Impact of Conflict between Catalonia & Spain on referendum
  • Current situation has divided population of Catalonia in two Groups, the one who wants to get independence from Spain &  one who wants to stay with Spain.
  • There has been a drop in the demand for apartments and hotels in Barcelona.
  • Sabadell and Caixa, two of Spain’s biggest banks, are shifting out of Barcelona.
  • Spanish government has also facilitated similar moves by allowing companies to expedite shifting out of Catalonia without having to consult shareholders first.
What if Catalonia gain independence ?
  • It would have to set up new, independent institutions of governance to control air traffic, immigration, diplomatic relations and a new currency.
  • It would risk losing European Union (EU) membership, and isolating the Catalan economy
  • Catalonia’s share of Spain’s national debt.
History of Conflict between Catalans & Spanish :- 

In 1714, when Catalonia was first incorporated into the Spanish Empire by King Philip V. & Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Fascist regime in the 20th century reopened this conflict. The clear motivation of Franco’s regime – and his Spanish nationalistic agenda – was the elimination of everything Catalan. He banned public use of the language, education in Catalan and even the use of Catalan names. These totalitarian restrictions were combined with use of force and imprisonment. This has left a lasting feeling of otherness in the Catalans.The memory of Franco is fresh in their minds.

Regardless of the situation, the law is paramount and holds precedence over everything else. Any demand for independence must come from within the structure of the law, and not beyond it. Therefore, as it stands, the Catalan referendum is a violation of the rule of law and democratic principles.

Yet, this is the first time in history that a revolution has begun in an established liberal democracy where citizens enjoy a comparatively high degree of personal rights and freedoms. This highlights the peculiar nature of the conflict and the reasons for discontentment among the people.

Conclusion :- International mediation by the EU seems the most plausible non-violent solution. It is the only solution capable of bringing both sides to the table and having a rational dialogue of demands and counter-demands. A solution must be found before the situation descends into mass violence.

Economic Growth : An Alternative View

India’s decelerating GDP growth rate in the past five quarters has generated panic. A drop in GDP growth rate from 7.4% in January-March 2016 to 5.7% in April-June 2017 is equivalent to ₹2.59 trillion. Most commentators argue that a smaller rate of GDP growth will have a negative impact on the growth of employment, income and livelihood opportunities. 

Sustainability of the economy in the long run can bring significant economic welfare through improvements in environmental quality. Economists concerned about sustainable development advocate low levels of economic growth since with large expansions in national income come negative environmental consequences such as pollution. These adversely affect the environmental quality and economic welfare of individuals and households dependent on the environment for their basic livelihood.

A large number of poor people are dependent on the environment for their day-to-day activities and therefore more focus on improved environmental quality can push income growth on a sustainable basis.

Reforms in Pollution Control :-

Adequate reforms in the area of pollution control with a larger role for market-based instruments such as pollution tax and tradable pollution permits are yet to be carried out in India.

How current method of GDP estimation treats environmental damage as income ?
  • At present, the price of a commodity from a polluting unit covers only the private cost of production, not the damage cost. This makes the commodity relatively cheaper leading to more demand and output, and more pollution and environmental damage cost.
  • Increased output and demand increases the value of GDP, but the corresponding environmental damage cost is not adjusted in the GDP estimation. The GDP still contains a significant amount of damage cost. As a result, the GDP is misleading since an ‘illfare’ is treated as welfare.
  • Similarly, more environmental damage may lead to an increased level of purchase of market goods contributing to expansion of the GDP. When individuals become sick due to water pollution, the demand for medical services will rise, increase in the purchase of these market goods and services will expand the GDP size. So, more pollution damage leads to higher GDP.
Conclusion :-Since GDP growth and environmental damage have a strong positive relationship, lower growth in GDP could afford benefits. A proper assessment of environmental social benefits and social costs of income growth is warranted so that policies can be directed towards setting environmentally sustainable growth rates. Efforts to develop environmental accounting and green GDP for India can help us achieve sustainable development in future.

With or Without Veto 

India should pursue Ms Haley recommendation of UN Security Council Expansion without Veto
India should pursue Ms Haley recommendation of UN Security Council Expansion without Veto

Some recent statements of Nikki Haley, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, suggest that the American position on an expansion of the Security Council is evolving to favour India’s permanent membership without the power of the veto.

Where as India stated that it should have an equal responsibilities like Permanent member of UN security council have but India almost forgot that it had, together with the others in G-4 (Brazil, Germany and Japan), conceded that veto should not be an issue, at least for the present.

History on Expansion of UN Security Council :-
  • When India put forward the proposal for an expansion of the non-permanent membership of the Security Council in 1979, the U.S. opposed it but after the end of the Cold War, when the pressure mounted for expansion of permanent membership, the U.S. took the position that it could live with “one or two” additions to permanent membership, without identifying the countries.
  • Secretary General Kofi Annan had given in his report, “In Larger Freedom” in 2005, the permanent members had supported “Model B”, which did not envisage any kind of expansion of permanent membership. It provided for no new permanent seats but created a new category of eight four-year renewable-term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas.
  • “Model A” was placed in the report at the insistence of the Indian representative, Gen. Satish Nambiar. It provided for six new permanent seats without the veto, and three new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among the major regional areas.
  • During his visit to India in 2010, President Barack Obama had said he looked “forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member”  but the U.S. delegation did not take any follow-up action at the UN.

Conclusion :- Ms. Haley’s statement opens up the possibility of permanent membership for India without veto. A draft resolution circulated by the candidates had already conceded that they would not expect to have the veto at least for 15 years. India should pursue the lead Ms. Haley has given. If nothing else, the present impasse in negotiations will end and there will be new vigour in Security Council reform.

The Gown & The Bench

The Supreme Court has laid down guidelines for designating lawyers in the Supreme Court and High Courts as senior advocates. Until now, the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts had the sole discretion of according this status to advocates. Now, applications will be vetted by a permanent committee known as the Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates that will publish the names of candidates on the respective courts’ websites to ensure transparency.

Political interference in the selection of judges in the third and fourth decades of independent India resulted in the collegium system where judges select judges. However, the opaque system and unsatisfactory selection, transfer, and elevation of judges to the Supreme Court caused disquiet and led to the passing of the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, which sought to give politicians and civil society a final say in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.

In 2015, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court declared these unconstitutional on the ground that the composition of the NJAC did not provide adequate representation to those from the judiciary in the selection and appointment of judges to the higher judiciary and also in the transfer of Chief Justices and judges from one High Court to another. Inclusion of the Law and Justice Minister in the NJAC was faulted on the ground that participation of the executive would erode the independence of the judiciary.

The Permanent Committee :-
  • It will consist of the Chief Justice of India, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court/ High Courts, the Attorney General of India/ the Advocate General of State, and a member of the Bar to be nominated by the above four members.
  • The committee will have a permanent secretariat. All applications for designation of senior advocate will be submitted to the secretariat which will compile all the relevant information with regard to the reputation, conduct, integrity, participation in pro-bono work, reported judgments in which the advocate has appeared, etc. of the candidates.
  • The committee will examine each candidate’s case, interview the candidate, and make its assessment based on a point-based format.
  • This system is transparent and objective, and provides equal opportunity to all candidates.

While this institutional mechanism and selection criteria seem suited to substitute the existing collegium system, the executive and the legislature could also seriously consider introducing a new version of the NJAC which incorporates the salient features of this institutional mechanism. The sooner the judiciary adopts such a mechanism for judges too, the better it is for the institution.

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