1] A judgment that must be taken in the right spirit (GS 2 Cooperatives)

Background –

  • The 97th amendment elevated “cooperative societies” to a fundamental right by adding them to the list of protected forms of association under Article 19(1)(c).
  • It also added Part IXB to the Constitution, which outlined the terms under which cooperative societies would be governed in greater detail than was acceptable.
  • The notion that the cooperative sector should be governed at the state level rather than at the national or union level dates back to the Government of India Act of 1919, which included cooperatives in the provincial list.
  • This scheme was carried forward into the Constitution, with Entry 32 of the State List in the Seventh Schedule conferring power on state legislatures to make laws relating to cooperative society incorporation, regulation, and winding up.

Central control –

  • Over the years, the Union government has gradually gained more control over cooperative societies.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has taken over the regulation of cooperative banks. The recently established Union Ministry for Cooperation demonstrates the Union Government’s political intent to take a more active role in the cooperative sector.
  • The statement of objects and reasons for the amendment Bill that resulted in the amendment in question cites the need for greater independence and transparency in the operation of cooperatives and inserts a number of provisions that provide for cooperative society regulation.
  • The 73rd and 74th Amendments, which introduced chapters on panchayats and municipalities, respectively, were used as examples by the court.
  • Those amendments, which had a similar impact on state legislative power, had been passed through a special procedure that required ratification by state legislatures.
  • The court acknowledged that the procedure had not been followed in this case, but clarified that the decision is limited to the procedural flaw and does not address whether the amendment violates the Constitution’s basic structure.

Making a Distinction –

  • After identifying the procedural flaw, the court distinguishes between cooperative societies operating in a single state and multi-state cooperative societies, holding that while ratification by half of the state legislatures would have been required in the case of cooperative societies operating in a single state, they chose not to delve further into the question of whether the amendment also required ratification by half of the state legislatures.
  • According to the minority opinion, the provisions of the newly added part pertaining to multi-State cooperative societies could not exist without the parts pertaining to cooperative societies, and thus the entire amendment should be struck down.

Way forward –

  • The cooperative sector has always been a province or state-run enterprise. The organising principles and mechanisms of these cooperatives vary by region and are dependent on the industry or crop that serves as the cooperative’s fulcrum.
  • Homogeneity in this area would only result in round holes that square pegs couldn’t fit into. They also wouldn’t do much to break the stranglehold that some political interests have on cooperatives.
  • Regardless of the creation of the new Ministry, it is best if the government treats this decision with respect and refrains from further meddling in the cooperative sector.

2] Virulence and variance: On post-pandemic economic strains (GS 3 Economy)

Context –

  • The latest update to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook highlights the rapidly widening gap in global recovery from the pandemic’s economic strains.
  • And vaccine access and vaccination coverage rates are the primary fault lines separating the world’s economies into two groups — those that are recovering from COVID-19-induced restrictions and those that are still struggling.
  • The IMF expects the global economy to grow at the same pace of 6% this year as it did three months ago in April.
  • However, it expects advanced economies to grow faster than previously forecast, while emerging markets and developing economies will recover at a much slower pace.
  • The IMF predicts that Advanced Economies will grow by 5.6 percent in 2021, which is 0.5 percentage point faster than the April forecast.

Impact on India –

  • The biggest stumbling block is India, which has seen its growth forecast cut by three percentage points to 9.5 percent by the IMF.
  • The IMF has warned that “countries lagging in vaccination, such as India and Indonesia, would suffer the most among G20 economies” if a super-contagious virus variant emerges, citing the impact of the ‘severe second wave’ and expected ‘slow recovery in confidence’ as reasons for its downgrade.
  • With just over 7% of the population fully vaccinated, India lags far behind the estimated global average of almost 14%, Brazil’s 18%, and the 50 percent and 55 percent coverage achieved in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively.
  • The IMF was effusive in its praise for India’s “decisive action” in January, when it forecasted 11.5 percent growth for the fiscal year ending in March 2022, before raising it to 12.5 percent in April after the economy appeared to rebound well in the January-March quarter.
  • The fact that it has now downgraded its outlook so dramatically reflects the extent to which the second wave’s momentum has been severely hampered.

Conclusion –

  • With inflation looming as a visceral threat, demand yet to regain traction, and political appetite in the government for more fiscal support low, India’s policymakers have little choice but to rush the vaccine roll-out.
  • Failure to speed up the coverage could be very costly to the country.


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