Editorial Summary 26/3

The Hindu: Faster, Sooner

  • comorbidity condition was highly restrictive and also need for a medical certificate made it inaccessible for many
  • making comorbidities unrequired for a vaccine is commendable
  • as vaccines are a tool to promote health equity
  • vaccination programme witnessing lukewarm participation by private medical facilities
  • India has the means and resources to accelerate daily vaccination rate, but political will is missing, absents targets, awareness building exercises, permissibility of walk-ins : overreliance on CoWin platform has made vaccination passive, lack of micro-planning and outreach

Here is why the electoral bond scheme must go

  • electoral bonds allow limitless and anonymous corporate donations to political parties

A blow against democracy

  • SC has upheld right to know in context of elections, is integral to freedom of expression, citizens have the right to vote on basis of full and complete info
  • most important piece of info is who funds political parties because that dictates the party's policy
  • but the electoral bonds scheme keeps this knowledge from the citizens and voters- hence, violates fundamental tenet of Constitution
  • also, to level playing field (so as to not allow the well-resources party to overwhelm the others), political money needs to be either publically funded or capped. Electoral bonds remove all pre-existing limits on political donations
  • essentially this allows well-resourced corporations to buy politicians by paying money, which violates the purpose of democracy as BR Ambedkar pointed out, i.e. to not just guarantee one person one vote but one vote one value
  • also, the electoral bonds lead to asymmetry : because donations are routed through SBI, hence it is possible for the government to find out who is donating to which party but not for the opposition to know, this may be misused through central investigative agency
  • Statistics support this hypothesis: vast majority of donations through electoral bonds has gone to the BJP

Problems with government's defence

  • govt said that electoral bond scheme reduces black money in elections
  • but entirely unclear what donor anonymity has to do with black money, - also, electoral bonds allow foreign donations to a party, hence allowing prospect of institutional corruption by donating through shell companies

Judiciary needs to act

  • courts must be sensitive to laws that skew the democratic process
  • SC disappointing : petition filed in 2018, case which is absolutely vital for health of Indian democracy was left unheard for 3 years, inaction is not neutral but favours the ruling party

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