Article 370 protests in Delhi
People hold placards as they protest against the revoking of Article 370, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi | ANI Photo
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On dilution, bifurcation and ‘special status’

Faizan Mustafa | Vice chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
The Hindu

Mustafa writes that all the petitions on Article 370, that are being referred to a Constitution Bench by the Supreme Court, call for deep scrutiny. Firstly, the Centre’s move to amend Article 370 could be struck down by the apex court as ‘unconstitutional’ using the very same article. Article 370 “has not been abrogated”, he says. Instead, the government has invoked the article to amend Article 367. J&K was already under President’s Rule, but the Parliament – by exercising ‘powers’ of the Legislative Assembly – gave its license to intervene in Article 370. However, Mustafa says that this may not be upheld by legal scrutiny–“what you cannot do directly, you cannot even do indirectly,’’ he writes.

Secondly, breaking up of J&K into two Union territories is a blow to federalism and may not be constitutionally valid. The state was under President’s Rule and the Parliament is technically just a “night watchman” that cannot pass resolutions to bifurcate the state.

Thirdly, most of the Constitution was already applicable to J&K. In reality, “the ‘special status’ Article 370 conferred was not to J&K but to the Central government”.

Science for disaster management

PK Mishra | The writer is additional principal secretary to the prime minister
The Times of India

Mishra writes that in today’s “interconnected world” there is a pressing need to use technology and science to understand the risks of disaster. The National Disaster Management Authority is working with the scientific community to create a futuristic agenda for this.

Huge improvements have been made in forecasting and understanding incidents of extreme climate, weather and natural disaster. But two challenges still persist. First, the time lag between scientific and technology being available and its actual application. Second, ensuring that scientific research leads to development of tools and methods that shift the focus from disaster to risk management, while still fostering innovation.

Three principles should be followed in the future, the author says. First, a clearer definition of “disaster risk management problems” should lead progressive scientific outcomes. Second, disaster risk management science should be applied at the local level, while also searching for scalable solutions. Third, a multi-disciplinary approach needs to look at the interaction between hazards and its risks. A “responsive government and a risk-aware community” is also key. The upcoming “Global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure” will be an important platform to develop this agenda.

A more precarious citizenship

Sanjib Baruah | The writer is professor of political studies, Bard College, New York
The Indian Express

Baruah writes that the phrase “India’s internal matter” has become commonly used by the country’s diplomacy to ward off criticism over the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. But the phrase was also used by External Affairs minister S Jaishankar in regards to Assam’s NRC issue, during a visit to Bangladesh last week. He assured Bangladesh’s foreign minister, who was worried about consequences of potential deportation to the neighbouring country, that he need not worry.

The 2014 Supreme Court ruling regarding NRC stated that mechanisms would be put in place to deport illegal immigrants. But Jaishankar clearly declared to Dhaka that there would be no deportation, and it is too risky to alienate Bangladesh in terms of foreign policy right now. Legal and regularisation measures would be India’s next option. But defining lakhs of people in the country as non-citizens is a new form of “precarious citizenship” that is dangerous for our democracy. It is likely that the Citizenship Amendment Bill will be brought back to the Parliament and successfully passed. Those once party to the “Assam movement” might rejoice but the future of Assam will be very different” from what they had imagined.

The corrosive effect of corrupt anti-corruption campaigns

Kaushik Basu | Professor of economics at Cornell University and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

Basu writes that the Amazon crisis is an example of the damage which takes place when governments bow to business interests. He also argues that the crisis “highlights an increasingly common phenomenon: the cynical manipulation of anti-corruption efforts to undermine democracy and advance an authoritarian political agenda”.

He cites the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International to argue that “there is a strong inverse correlation between development and corruption”. He also argues that corruption levels change in societies and gives examples of countries like Singapore and Japan which have become some of the least corrupt nations globally.

He writes that addressing corruption is not a straightforward process and many leaders with a genuine interest in controlling it often end up promoting cronyism and damaging democracy. He adds that many motivated “anti-corruption” campaigns entrench existing power imbalances and help undemocratic regimes to rise.

The Welcome Mat’s Out

Cyril Shroff & Smruti Shah | Shroff and Shah are managing partner and partner, respectively at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Inputs by Aviral Chauhan, senior associate with the firm
The Economic Times

The writers discuss the recent changes India has made in its FDI laws. They mention that the government has “relaxed the limits on investment in the entities engaged in the business of coal mining, and contract manufacturing, while relaxing the local sourcing requirements for single brand retail trading (SBRT)”.

They mention that the changes “open up the coal mining sector to foreign investment beyond just captive use”. They also write that while “100 per cent FDI is allowed under the automatic route for the manufacturing sector” there wasn’t enough clarity on outsourcing of manufacturing activities – “that is, contract manufacturing”. They mention that now “a provision for contract manufacturing has been introduced”.

They also provide details of some other measures, and argue that these steps should increase confidence among investors that GoI is committed to attracting FDI and improving the ease of doing business.

Seize the slowdown

Neelkanth Mishra | Co-head of Asia Pacific Strategy and India Strategist for Credit Suisse
The Indian Express

Neelkanth Mishra writes that India is going through a slowdown and the trend gets amplified on several fronts. He writes that the tightening of the financial conditions after a large financial firm defaulted a year back pushed more companies into default. He also mentions that “relatively small fluctuations in end demand can get amplified further up in the supply chain”. Also, any slowdown in economic activity affects government’s revenues.

To overcome economic slowdown, he recommends that the government “needs to take an axe to the system, as a scalpel will no longer suffice”. He suggests large scale disinvestments to address the fiscal shortfall and maintaining government spending growth, particularly on infrastructure.

Sentiments do have real economic benefits

Renu Kohli | The author is a macroeconomist
The Telegraph

Renu Kohli discusses the role sentiments play in economic growth. She writes that an optimistic sentiment encourages consumers to buy and borrow, and businesses are spurred to plan and invest. The reverse happens when the sentiment is downbeat. She writes that the mood of Indian businesses and consumers hasn’t been upbeat for a while. She cites RBI’s recent business and consumer sentiment surveys to substantiate her point. Both surveys show a despondent sentiment.

She writes that the July budget further dented the sentiment when the government announced unanticipated tax surcharges. She writes that the post-budget downturn in sentiment led to a government response and it rolled back some of the measures which were creating fears of tax terrorism. She adds that while this acted as a sentiment booster, it is hard to tell if sentiments will look up from here onwards.

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