Learning from Cauvery

(The Hindu)

As the borders begin to close

(The Hindu)

The Corruption Perception Index

(Live Mint)


Learning from Cauvery

(The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of that the strident stands on water-sharing issues have no bearing on election outcomes.

(GS paper II)




  • Recently a special Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, pronounced the verdict on the appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the final award of the Cauvery Waters Tribunal in 2007 on the allocation of water to them.




  • The judgement by and large caused hardly any disruption to life in the river’s principal basin-States, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. This situation is refreshingly different from what was witnessed during many judicial pronouncements since the 1990s, leading to strikes, farmers’ agitations, vandalism and the loss of human life.



The judgment



  • The verdict could be an eye-opener for all inter-State river disputes. The Bench noted that Karnataka is “entitled to marginal relief” and reduced the allocation to Tamil Nadu; it said that there is “no perversity” in the Tribunal’s allocation of water to Tamil Nadu.




  • The judgment has brought joy in Karnataka, and discomfiture in certain sections of Tamil Nadu, as the overall allocation of Karnataka was increased by 14.75 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) at the cost of Tamil Nadu.



  • The enhanced allocation includes 4.75 tmcft exclusively for drinking water requirements of Bengaluru. The increase and decrease have been worked out, keeping the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s final order of 2007 as the reference point.


  • The verdict neither disturbed the allocations for Kerala and Puducherry, the other constituents of the Cauvery basin, nor the basis for apportioning river water or the extent of irrigated areas for the two principal States.


  • In fact, to the relief of Tamil Nadu, the court was unequivocal on the formulation of a scheme to implement the modified final order, and it asked the Centre to draft the scheme in six weeks. The scheme entails the creation of an implementation mechanism, called the Cauvery Management Board (CMB). Regardless of the Centre using the same nomenclature or not, what looks certain is the establishment of a mechanism.


Certain doubts


  • The doubts have been expressed in Tamil Nadu on whether the Central government will see to it that the scheme is put in place within the given period as Karnataka goes to Assembly elections in a few months. This has been complemented with Karnataka Chief Minister’s reiterating his opposition to the idea of the CMB.


  • On this count, other political parties in Karnataka are also echoing the stand of the Chief Minister. Meanwhile, even though there exists only a limited scope for serious objections to the court’s judgment, the Tamil Nadu government is being pulled up by its political adversaries for not having done enough to protect interests of the State.


  • The Competitive politics on matters concerning water are not confined only to Karnataka or Tamil Nadu politicians, as the situation is the same in other parts of the country. Sadly, the leaders do not realise that their strident position on water does not guarantee victory.


  • In July 2004, when faced with a Supreme Court direction to the Centre to ensure completion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, then Punjab Chief Minister got a bill passed by the State Assembly terminating all previous agreements and accords on the Ravi and Beas river waters.


Way ahead



  • It should be obvious to the political class that electoral outcomes are shaped by a combination of complex factors. It is time that water issues are de-politicised and political parties learn to see reason and respect the rule of law without getting carried away by electoral considerations. The BJP-led Central government has got a golden opportunity on Cauvery to set a new, healthy trend.



Question- Explain why water issues need to de-politicised and political parties should learn to see reason and respect the rule of law without getting carried away by electoral considerations.


As the borders begin to close

(The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of migrant remittances in India and world.

(GS paper II)



  • The financial crisis of 2007–2008, was followed by a global economic downturn, the Great Recession. It also had reverberations on both developed and developing world. It is not possible to insulate Indian economy completely from what is happening in the financial systems of the world.


  • However after the global financial crisis, the world has begun looking to developing nations to show the way to high economic growth and development.





  • For example emerging economies like, India and China, have become increasingly involved in influencing global economic policies and voicing their development concerns and priorities in various multilateral fora. These economies have benefited from increasing globalisation and the growing movement of goods and people between countries. Consequently, they are among the largest recipients of global remittances.



  • Around twenty-three countries, led by India and followed by China, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and Nigeria, receive over 80% of global remittances. However, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the top five recipients are smaller nations: Haiti, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Nepal and Tajikistan.


  • In these low- and middle-income countries, remittances have helped lift millions out of poverty and unemployment and enhanced their standard of living and human development. However in this context, India’s case is no different. The positive impact of migration on economic growth and development through increased remittances is well established. Kerala state receives remittances equalling 36.3% of its gross State domestic product.





  • India has witnessed sharp remittance growth since 1991. Since then, the value of remittances to India has seen a modest decline: $68.9 billion in 2015 and $62.7 billion in 2016. There was a slight improvement last year $65.4 billion. However, in a world that is now witnessing a fractious debate on migration, considerable uncertainties about remittances remain.



  • India receives about 56% of its remittances from migrants in West Asia, with the remainder from mainly North America and Europe. Rapid changes in the economy and the socio-political climate in West Asia have had an impact on remittances.


  • Additionally, developments such as Brexit and the Trump presidency in the U.S. have further complicated matters. Simply put, the more a rich nation starts to rely on its own workforce and tightly controlled borders, the less a poorer nation can rely on remittances for its development needs and to achieve the sustainable development goals.

Kerala case


  • Since the 1970s, the Gulf region has attracted millions of Malayalis, with remittances amounting to over 36% of the State’s GDP. Kerala is unique in this sense that no other large State in India depends so much on remittances. This also makes the southern State the perfect setting to study the phenomenon of migration.


  • The Kerala Migration Surveys, conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, have studied migration from Kerala since 1998. In 2016, for the first time in 20 years, the Malayali migrant community got smaller by 10% to 2.2 million. This was on account of nationalisation policies and because decades of migration had made Malayalis educated and skilled enough to aim for more specialised professions.


  • Unskilled and semi-skilled migrants from Kerala were not only replaced by migrants from other Asian countries such as the Philippines and Nepal, but also by other Indian migrants from Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This 10% decrease in migration is expected to result in a similar decrease in remittances to the State.


  •  The State faces the huge challenge of reintegrating and rehabilitating them into the society and the economy. This demands innovative policies targeted at skilling, reskilling and educating both prospective and returned emigrants.


West Asia case


  • The Arab Spring in 2010 and subsequent counter-revolutionary moves by states had an impact. The theme of nationalisation took over the Arab world. Along with declining oil prices and sluggish regional economies, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the regional governments decided to prioritise filling their workforce with their nationals.


  • Among the six GCC countries, only the United Arab Emirates and Oman continue to maintain their erstwhile immigration policy. However, Oman began “Omanisation”, a policy aimed at replacing expatriate workers with trained Omani personnel, back in 1988.


  • The other four, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have tightened their immigration policies to appease increasingly restive youth, many of whom were unemployed and participated in protests during the Arab uprisings.


  • In 2011, the Saudi government enacted “Saudisation”, officially known as Saudi Nationalisation Scheme or Nitaqat system in Arabic, with a view to reducing unemployment among Saudi nationals, with incentives being announced for companies and enterprises performing in accordance with this system.


  • Governments in West Asia have been trying to reduce unemployment and “demographically engineer” the workforce whereby legal, social and political separations between nationals and non-nationals would shift. It is evident that the younger natives of West Asia, who are increasingly becoming educated, will replace migrants in the coming years, in turn leading to a reduction in remittances, especially to the South Asian and Southeast Asian regions.


Europe case

  • Europe is also the largest remittance-sending region in the world, surpassing even West Asia. The recent refugee crisis, the largest since World War II, has unsettled European economies, fuelling xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiments.


  • Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump in the U.S. are also expected to have a drastic impact on migration and the flow of remittances. Data from the U.K. show a large exodus of other Europeans. The popular effect of Mr. Trump’s stronger immigration policies and the temporary ban on immigrants from certain Muslim majority nations are conspicuous in the results of domestic elections and a surge in markets.


  • Migration and remittances will take on a more prominent role in internal and international politics. While the latter part of the last century was commanded by liberal ideas on migration and open borders, the near future seems to be influenced by populist, right-wing ideas.


Way ahead


  • It is imperative that developing nations that have relied on remittances formulate strategies to compensate for the restricted flow of remittances that is expected in the near future. India must remember that with the rapid and large-scale economic and cultural changes in West Asia, Europe or the U.S., the future of emigration and remittances remains uncertain. 


Question Critically analyse the statement, “The more a rich nation starts to rely on its own workforce and tightly controlled borders, the less a poorer nation can rely on remittances for its development needs and to achieve the sustainable development goals”.


The Corruption Perception Index

(Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the recently released the Corruption Perception Index 2017

(GS paper II)




  • India’s ranking in the annual corruption index, released by Berlin-based non-government organisation Transparency International (TI), slid to 81 among a group of 180 countries. The Corruption Perception Index 2017 also singled out India as one of the “worst offenders” in the Asia-Pacific region.



About Corruption Perception Index  



  • Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is released by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).




  • The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.




  • This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43. Unfortunately, compared to recent years, this poor performance is nothing new.



  • This year, New Zealand and Denmark rank highest with scores of 89 and 88 respectively. Syria, South Sudan and Somalia rank lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively. The best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66. The worst performing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34).

India’s performance


  • In 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries. India’s ranking in the index had plummeted in 2013 and 2014 in the wake of the spectrum and coal scams. The ranking has improved since then, but seems to be showing signs of weakening. India’s score remained intact at 40 points in both 2016 and 2017.


  • A majority of the world’s countries scored below 50 on the index with the global average score coming at around 43. India’s score of 40 in 2017 puts it below the global average.


  • Transparency International said the results from the 2017 index show that corruption in many countries is still strong. In some countries across the Asia-Pacific region, journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in worst cases, even murdered, the report stated.


  • “Philippines, India and the Maldives are among the worst regional offenders in this respect. These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths”.


  • In the last six years alone, 15 journalists working on corruption stories were murdered in these Asian countries, TI pointed out using figures reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Globally, more than 9 out of 10 journalists were killed in countries that score 45 or less on the index. TI said it found crackdowns on non-government organisations (NGOs) and media were associated with higher levels of corruption in the world.


Way ahead


Transparency International calls on the global community to take the following actions to curb corruption-


  • Governments and businesses must do more to encourage free speech, independent media, political dissent and an open and engaged civil society.
  • Governments should minimise regulations on media, including traditional and new media, and ensure that journalists can work without fear of repression or violence. In addition, international donors should consider press freedom relevant to development aid or access to international organisations.
  • Civil society and governments should promote laws that focus on access to information. This access helps enhance transparency and accountability while reducing opportunities for corruption. It is important, however, for governments to not only invest in an appropriate legal framework for such laws, but also commit to their implementation.
  • Activists and governments should take advantage of the momentum generated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to advocate and push for reforms at the national and global level. Specifically, governments must ensure access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms and align these to international agreements and best practices.
  • Governments and businesses should proactively disclose relevant public interest information in open data formats. Proactive disclosure of relevant data, including government budgets, company ownership, public procurement and political party finances allows journalists, civil society and affected communities to identify patterns of corrupt conduct more efficiently.


Question The 2017 index revealed that despite attempts to combat corruption, most countries were moving too slowly with their effort. Explain in the context of India’s ranking. Also suggest some measures to curb corruption.