Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde
File image of Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the Chief Justice of India | PTI photo
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Raise the bar

Dushyant Dave | Senior advocate, Supreme Court of India

The Indian Express 

Dave writes that the appointment of Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde as the Chief Justice of India “gives fresh hope to all the stakeholders in the administration of justice” at a time when the “Supreme Court’s standing amongst the people has greatly eroded”. He highlights that in recent “politically sensitive cases”, the SC “virtually deferred” the cases “to the executive instead of stepping in to restore constitutional rights and values in letter and spirit.”

Thus, a “new but questionable jurisprudence” has emerged “especially on the review of administrative action”.This also leads to the overshadowing of “outstanding work done by other judges”. Dave argues that an “independent and strong judiciary is the basic feature of the Constitution” but “the Court has allowed itself to be weakened”.

The “behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary”, writes Dave. He adds that Justice Bobde is an “experienced judge and his approach is unbiased, non-political and justice oriented” and will hopefully “dispel any wrong message sent to the judiciary and the nation in time to follow with his decisions and actions.”

Making haste slowly

Aashish Chandorkar | Public policy analyst

The Times of India 

At the third summit meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Thailand, India has sought “satisfactory resolution for its trade, investment, national security and intellectual property concerns”, writes Chandorkar. While some are in favour of India joining the RCEP “for fear of missing out on any export growth” he notes that India’s “objections raised in self-interest are yet not fully addressed”.

He writes that one of India’s “key objections to the RCEP deal structure is not to use a 2014 tariff structure for a deal which will get operationalised only in 2022”. India has also “insisted on applying tariff differentials to all items which are not offered to China” as it seeks “faster access to the Chinese market while opening up its local market for Chinese imports gradually”.

In conclusion, Chandorkar writes, “It is good that India is aiming for a win-win RCEP deal, surrendering neither to the domestic political opposition nor the global advocates of absolute free trade”.

Down, but still a potent terror force

R.K. Raghavan | Former CBI Director

The Hindu 

Raghavan writes that the “dramatic incident” of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death “reminds us of the elimination in 2011” of Osama bin Laden. He observes that both were “dastardly, vengeful and stood for disruption and chaos”.

Baghdadi’s vision in comparison to bin Laden was “narrower and one that confined itself initially to West Asia”. The al-Qaeda and the IS “operated independently although not always at cross-purposes” but they never “complemented each other”, argues Raghavan.

Osama bin Laden’s “appeal favoured a fanatic ideology which considered all non-Muslims as infidels who needed to be dealt with utmost severity” but Baghdadi was “down to earth and materialistic” and believed in the “power of control over geographic territory and the full use of state apparatus”.

The question “that remains unsatisfactorily answered is whether the quality of leadership makes such a lot of difference to a movement that thrives solely on an individual’s spirit of vengeance and does not call for an extraordinary organising capacity”. Finally, Raghavan states that the tasks before security agencies are two-fold – “keep a close eye on the returnees” so they don’t lapse and allow themselves to be “used as sleeper cells” and, to “assist the authorities in deradicalisation”.

India’s real trade battle begins now that RCEP is behind us

R. Jagannathan | Editorial director, Swarajya magazine

Mint 

Jagannathan calls India’s decision to opt out of the RCEP the “right one” given that one, India has a “steep mountain to climb in terms of making itself competitive” and two, RCEP could end up being “dominated by China”.

However, India is the biggest loser among RCEP members given its $105 billion trade deficit with other RCEP members, especially China, he writes. Jagannathan argues that in the meantime, India needs to forge “equitable” bilateral trade deals with countries, be it RCEP members or otherwise.

He also points out how RCEP countries have “benefited from authoritarian governments” and their cultural homogeneity has lent itself to xenophobia. It was therefore the right call to not enter a “closed club” like RCEP that “turn[s] mercantilist when it comes to trade in services.”

How the market reacts to policy changes

G.N. Bajpai | Former chairman of SEBI and LIC

Hindu Business Line 

Bajpai discusses how policymaking and executing policies should be in tandem with market sensitivity. He characterises the market as “sentiment-driven” and refers to how “market cap worth trillions” was wiped out in one day during Lok Sabha elections despite no change in the “fundamentals of the economy”.

The market “responds to the known-unknowns as well as the unknown-unknowns”, he writes and the valuation of a company is directly impacted by how trustworthy its numbers are. Bajpai compares this behaviour to the rising wealth effect. The very fact that “price-sensitive information has to be first announced to the market” shows the importance of sentiments.

The corporate tax cut may have cheered sentiments but policy changes still have the potential to “wreck” the structure of enterprises or an industry at large, writes Bajpai. Any more “premature announcements” by the government should be “well thought-out” and well timed. “Self-goals must be avoided in such a scenario”, he adds.

Running away hurts India

Puja Mehra | Author of Lost Decade (2008-18): How India’s Growth Story Devolved into Growth Without a Story

Economic Times

In her piece, Mehra comments on India’s decision to opt out of RCEP and how it should now focus not only on the ease of doing business but also the “ease of being globally competitive”. In lieu of “growing US and European protectionism”, the aim of the RCEP is not free trade but a way for South Asian countries’ to safeguard their economic growth, access new markets and counter “the challenge of global resistance to immigrants”, she writes.

Following the free trade agreement in merchandise products, India has been dealing with “sluggish” negotiations to remove barriers to trade in services, forcing it to rely on bilateral agreements, writes Mehra. “Faulty commitments and strict rules of origin” are why India’s FTA utilisation rate is one of the lowest in Asia, according to the Asian Development Bank, she explains. Also, India’s large trade deficit with ASEAN countries put its at a disadvantage, which means that not having trade agreements puts it at an added disadvantage in terms of “price competitiveness of its exports.”

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