There are two aspects to news. Knowing the Headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Third Edition we are covering the following news:
1. Coronavirus Erodes Trump’s Re-election prospects
2. The Controversy Surrounding RS Nomination
3. COVID – 19 Effects on Poor
4. COVID 19 – Where is USA’s leadership
5. RBI extends PMC deadline on June
6. Rupee Depreciates against the Dollar
7. Earth finally takes a much needed break

Coronavirus erodes Trump’s Re-election prospects

The past few months have proven great for the US economy. Stock markets were on a rise and unemployment was low. The US economy has shown stubborn resilience throughout the president’s three years in office. The impeachment process had shown greater support for the president. Now, tables are turning with the US economy entering an economic crisis. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin alarmed of 20 percent unemployment, factories are closing and workers are getting out of jobs. The economists at Bloomberg News say that it is plausible for the US economy to a recessionary period and there is 35% chance that it is going to be in the next year. The president is vulnerable in two main aspects: presidential approval ratings and the state of the economy. Surveys by NBC/ Wall Street Journal and Fox News say that Donald Trump has only 43% approval rating. The poll by Fox News proved that Trump lost votes to the other four leaders namely Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris by margins of 6 to 12 points.  This analysis says that Donald Trump might not win the re-election in 2020. On the flip side, there is another group of economists who hold a different theory. The geographical advantage of Trump is powerful enough to keep him standing even if he loses the vote of 5 million people. Moreover, he is raising more than any Democrat and has the backing of a Republican Party apparatus that is working to define his foes as radical and out of touch.

The Controversy surrounding Ranjan Gogoi’s RS Nomination

After barely 4 months after his retirement, former CJI of the Surpreme Court, Ranjan Gogoi, has been nominated to Rajya Sabha by the president after using the powers vested in him by Article 80 of the constitution. This has led to a widespread controversy as opposition leaders have claimed that this amounts to a ‘quid pro quo’. The point that they are trying to make is that the Modi government has rewarded Justice Gogoi for giving out favorable judgments. While this claim is unsubstantiated and largely rhetorical, many eminent jurists (including his own colleagues) have claimed that this move undermines the independence of Judiciary. The argument in favor of Mr. Gogoi’s nomination is that he has marked himself out as an acclaimed lawyer and judge and hence deserves to be rewarded for it. He also claims that he is best placed to act as a conduit between the legislature and judiciary. But that’s pretty much it. The arguments against his nomination are many.

  1. Firstly, the historical precedents do not work in his favor. Former CJI Ranganath Mishra was also elected as a member of congress to Rajya Sabha. This move was widely seen as an attack on the independence of Judiciary as Justice Mishra had acquitted Rajiv Gandhi and his close aides of any involvement in the Anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Former Supreme Court judge, Baharul Islam was also nominated by the congress government to Rajya Sabha after he had absolved a congress chief minister of a major financial scandal. Instead of countering this trend, the Modi administration has given more fuel to the perception that the judiciary can be, and has been, used as a tool of the executive. This government should not have given in to such a shameful historical precedent.
  2. Secondly, Justice Ranjan Gogoi headed the bench of many high-profile cases in which both the government and the opposition had stakes. Most of the times, the decisions were in favor of the ruling dispensation (Ayodhya, Rafale, Kashmir). People have claimed that the government is trying to send out a message. The message is that if a judge is sympathetic to the agenda of the ruling party, then he/she shall be rewarded.
  3. Thirdly, when Ranjan Gogoi says that he will act as a non-partisan conduit between the legislature and judiciary, one must ask, why is this conduit needed? The legislature and Judiciary are two completely different organs of the Indian state and are meant to be checks on each other. This is why both of them have been given their fair share of autonomy and except in extraordinary events; the legislature can’t arbitrarily modify the internal mechanisms of the judiciary.

As for some necessary co-ordination between the two, there are already enough forums and committees doing the job. Hence, the exclusive benefit of this nomination is nowhere to be seen in the face of obvious harms.

COVID-19 Effects on the Poor

The Coronavirus outbreak might just be an epidemic for us but for the poorest of the country and the daily wage earners it means no employment and hence no income. There are a lot of daily wage earners in the country who cannot afford alcohol-based sanitizers and other measures to prevent the virus and hence feel helpless. The centre is drawing up plans to distribute a massive stockpile of foodgrains to the poor to make sure no sleeps with an empty stomach. A good immune system as the doctors have mentioned several times is prerequisite to fight the epidemic. The Chief Minister of Delhi also mentioned that Seventy-two lakh people in Delhi get ration from fair price shops. Ration per person is being increased by 50 per cent. It will be provided free.

The people in the informal sector which form bulk of the workforce have been hit by this economic tsunami the worst. They have little savings and not a steady source of income. What is more important is the fact that many of them have been stranded between the cities where they work and their villages because of the trains being cancelled. The government can make use of the various social security schemes such as the pension schemes and MNREGA scheme in order to pay the pensions in advance or an increase in the wages paid under the MNREGA scheme.

COVID-19 – Where is USA’s leadership?

Ever since the cold war ended, United States of America has been the most influential country in this world. While this fact has been manifested a lot of times through USA’s military and economic prowess, there is another underemphasized avenue where USA has acted as a leader in the international community. That avenue is disaster management which includes containment of epidemics. In 2003, President George Bush established a program to counter the rapid spread of AIDS throughout the world. As part of this program, the US pumped in 90 billion dollars and saved a lot of African lives. Similarly, in the case of Ebola, President Obama led a global effort and organized International level co-ordination to curb the spread of the disease in the third world countries. Compared to this, let’s see what the Trump administration is doing right now under the name of ‘America first’.

  1. Firstly, let alone assume global leadership to prevent coronavirus, his administration has not even been able to contain the spread in his own country. That is partly because, until February, he was quite dismissive of the threat posed by the virus. His naivety and complacency showed in the lack of preparedness of the United States of America to face this disease. The result of this is that the disease has spread like wildfire, with USA reporting 5000+ cases.
  2. Secondly, let alone guiding the world, Donald Trump has expressed an acute taste for taking hasty decisions and not promoting understanding between US and its allies. For example, he did not even consult USA’s European allies before declaring a blanket travel ban on visitors coming from Europe. As for the cancellation of the G-7 summit, he reacted ambivalently to Emanuel Macron’s suggestion of having the summit over a video conference.
  3. Thirdly, his relentless barrage of rhetorical statements against China is not doing anything to solve the problem. One thing that you don’t expect from the leader of the free world is to engage in petty blame-games when the world is in the grips of one of the biggest health disasters ever.

Infact, despite being battered by the virus, China is doing more to help the world that USA. It has already sent medical personnel, equipments and ventilators to Italy. It has sent millions of masks to Belgium and has pledged to do the same for the European Union as a whole. Infact, Jack Ma has even pledged support to USA by promising to send testing kits. In many ways, when the dust settles, this will be seen as the first major global event where China assumed leadership instead of the United States of America. This is the beginning of a baton exchange in international relations.

RBI Extends PMC restrictions till June

On 23 September, 2019, the Reserve bank of India (RBI) placed regulatory restriction on the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act. The reason for the same was that PMC Bank was hiding its bad loans given to real estate developer HDIL and other financial irregularities the bank was involved in. These restrictions were put for a period of six months but a new decision by RBI has extended them for 3 more months. It was feared that the domino effect will be felt all across the financial system, as a result, RBI worked on developing a reconstruction scheme which will revive the position of the bank.

The idea is to sell the securities of the bank as fast as possible and recover the loans. As a result of this extension, the bank cannot accept new deposits or lend money for three more months and will be under the supervision of RBI. This year’s budget also brought an increase in the insurance cover for the depositors. The withdrawal limit was set at Rs 1000 and it continues to hurt the economic position of many traders, self-employed and daily wage earners. This does not affect the financial market or other private or public sector banks as co-operative banks do play a major role in money market but those states that heavily depend on the co-operative banks.

Rupee Depreciates against the Dollar

The Indian Rupee has further fallen against the dollar to 76.16 per US Dollar. The rupee fell to a record low of 76.16 per US dollar, against previous close of 75.19. Selling of Indian stocks by foreign institutional investors has weighed on the rupee despite a sharp fall in global oil prices, which are down at $26.10 per barrel. Stimulus measures by central banks around the world to shield their countries from the economic fallout of coronavirus have not been enough to calm the markets. The RBI would continue to sell dollars aggressively but that may not stop the bleed in rupee. Over the next couple of weeks, there is growing risk of USD-INR inching towards 78.00 levels on spot. Technically, USD-INR needs to respect 74.50 levels, previous all-time high, to keep the bullish bias alive. The dollar rose against major currencies today as the worsening coronavirus crisis accelerated the flight to cash. Analysts say that uncertainty about the spread of the virus is likely to support the dollar in near term as investors have been liquidating positions in safe-havens, including gold, and other riskier investments to keep their money in dollars due to the uncertainty caused by the epidemic.

Earth finally takes a much needed Break

A number of countries have been on a complete lockdown owing to the rather recent Coronavirus outbreak. While the epidemic has turned out to be rather troublesome for the human population in general the planet seems to be enjoying this break from the humans. As reported by NASA in February the concentration of nitrogen dioxide fell significantly in Wuhan the epicenter of the virus outbreak. Nitrogen Dioxide is produced mainly by vehicles and industries. Similar changes have also been observed in Madrid, Barcelona and Italy.

Such a drop in the nitrogen dioxide concentration has not been observed in the recent past. It is extremely important that we maintain the existing levels as this would help reduce pollution. What is extremely important is the realisation of the amount of pollution the human population was causing to the planet as a whole and what will be more beneficial is a long-term commitment to keeping the planet safe.

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