CURRENT AFFAIRS – 06/07/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 06/07/2023

Choose a new palette for India’s creative economy

Digital platforms and technology have enabled Indian artists and artisans to reach wider audiences. However, they face challenges that are related to economic sustainability, market access, the digital divide, crime in the art world and preservation. A collaborative model promoting cultural economy can help encourage India’s soft power by creating an ecosystem of innovative technology-based start-ups, providing guidance, technical support, infrastructure, access to investors, and networking opportunities.

The creative economy is one of the youngest and fastest-growing sectors, with unique challenges that often go unnoticed by public and private investors. There is now growing recognition of the economic importance of the arts sector as it helps in the creation of jobs, economic growth, tourism, exports, and overall societal development.

Recognising the economic importance of culture, the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development (MONDIACULT 2022) was held to address contemporary issues in multicultural societies. The goal was to share a vision for the future of cultural policies and to reaffirm the international community’s commitment to leveraging culture’s transformative power for sustainable development.

Challenges and status of artists

Online platforms, social media, and digital content creation enable artists, writers, film-makers, musicians, and other creatives to engage with audiences, and monetise their talents. While Indian artists and artisans play a vital role in preserving traditional art forms and creating contemporary artworks, they face challenges that are related to economic sustainability, market access, and the preservation of traditional art forms in a rapidly changing society. Government support, cultural institutions, and initiatives provide financial assistance, training programmes, and opportunities for artists to exhibit their work. However, more efforts are needed to promote contemporary artists as brands and ensure equal representation and financial assistance.

There are challenges in the selection of artists for financial assistance in organising cultural events. Lack of transparency in the selection process creates inequality in representation. There is no systematic or rotational mechanism in place to provide this assistance, and the selection process is often random or based on subjective criteria. So, talented artists, particularly those based outside the city, are unable to gain from sponsored platforms. Additionally, unlike in other countries, there are no serious efforts by private or public institutions to promote contemporary artists as brands. Artists and artisans with creative ideas require a market, market research, business facilitation, and a platform.

Crime in the art world includes art theft, copyright infringement, forgery, fraud, and illicit trafficking. Addressing these crimes requires increased security measures, international cooperation, public awareness, and advanced technology for authentication and tracking. Tackling crime in the art world will help foster a healthy creative economy. Artworks depicting or exploring criminal activities, as well as criminal activities within the art industry, pose significant challenges. There is no institutional infrastructure, expertise and technology to verify the original artwork. The gap is leading to injustice towards genuine artists.

These offences affect cultural heritage and cause financial harm and erode public trust. Exploitation of Indian artists, unaccounted money preserved through artworks, and the dissemination of disinformation about cultural history through various media only compound the issue. Solutions include increased security measures, international cooperation, public awareness, and advanced technology for authentication. Regular audits of acquired artworks can enhance trust and preserve a collection’s integrity. An institutional record of incoming and outgoing artworks with a verified identification mark is required.

A workable solution

Having a collaborative model promoting the cultural economy is an effective solution to address the challenges faced by the creative economy and promote the economic contribution of culture.

To promote economic growth, a solution can be to encourage India’s soft power by having a capacity-building centre; this should help create an ecosystem of innovative technology-based start-ups in the arts and crafts sector, providing guidance, technical support, infrastructure, access to investors, and networking opportunities.

The needs of artists must be bridged through training, professional development, market access, and participation in larger communities and networks. A facilitation centre would help foster knowledge sharing, economic empowerment, and sustainable livelihood solutions for artists and artisans. Data analytics should be used to foster creative ecosystems that contribute to a sustainable world. The government along with private players can empower artists, help bridge industry gaps, and contribute to the overall development of the creative economy by providing support, resources, and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, existing institutions should address the various needs of artists, such as training, professional development, material support, access to markets, public validation, and participation in larger communities and networks.

A facilitation mechanism should operate by focusing on fostering knowledge sharing, networking, and economic empowerment for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by offering business training, incubating innovative projects, and connecting them with global marketing platforms, tools, and practices. The centre should also be a platform to provide sustainable livelihood solutions for artists and artisans through participatory models, leveraging the latest ICT tools to enhance their participation in the business ecosystem. It is also time for new data that shed light on emerging trends at a global level as well as putting forward policy recommendations to foster creative ecosystems that contribute to a sustainable world.

Finally, the economic and cultural significance of art, culture, and the creative economy in India, while addressing challenges and proposing solutions, should support the growth and development of artists and artisans as a whole.

A collaborative model can help meet the challenges faced by the creative economy and promote the economic contribution of culture.


Striking a blow against affirmative action in America

In a ground-breaking decision, on June 29, 2023, in Students for Fair Admissions vs Harvard, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) deemed the race-conscious admission policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC) as unconstitutional and violative of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment.

As Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.” This ruling profoundly impacts affirmative action programmes, where ‘race’ has historically been a factor to foster diversity in college admissions, such as in Texas and Michigan. Many believe that the Harvard judgment now makes affirmative action nearly impossible in the U.S.

SCOTUS underpinned its verdict with four reasons. First, it emphasised that the equal protection clause is colour-blind, and the term “equal protection” means identical treatment. Thus, race-based affirmative action contravenes this promise. Second, it affirmed that any such contravention could only be justified if the state has a compelling goal, and affirmative action is absolutely necessary to attain it. The state must articulate this goal clearly to enable judicial scrutiny. The court found Harvard and the UNC’s objectives, such as “training future leaders”, as commendable but vague. Third, the Court reiterated an earlier ruling that affirmative action policies should have a ‘sunset clause’. However, both Harvard and the UNC lacked this. Lastly, the court held that affirmative action should not rely on racial stereotypes or disadvantage anyone based on race — two aspects it identified as problematic in this case.

With Indian courts often drawing upon U.S. judgments, and given shared histories of discrimination based on caste and race (India and the U.S.), it is pertinent to examine the implications of this decision for India. Can this lead to ‘reservations’ being either curtailed or considerably diluted?

Two different Constitutions

The Indian and U.S. Constitutions are poles apart on how they treat affirmative action. The U.S. Constitution is silent on it, prohibiting only the denial of “equal protection”, leading to varied interpretations of this amorphous phrase depending on the sitting Justices. To today’s majority, it means exactly what it meant in the 19th century: colour-blindness. To the dissent, it means consciously treating historically-oppressed races differently.

The Indian Constitution is more clear, thanks to its framers. It expressly allows affirmative action in favour of backward classes in matters of education (Article 15) and jobs (Article 16). Article 16 expressly permits “reservations” in jobs, something that is unique to the Indian Constitution. In fact, this reservation provision was part of the original Constitution as enacted on January 26, 1950, unlike affirmative action in education which was introduced the next year through the First Amendment. India’s courts routinely debate the granular questions: what percentage of seats or posts can the state reserve? How should the beneficiary classes be identified? Unlike the U.S., however, India’s courts do not debate as to whether affirmative action is fundamentally permissible, for the Constitution conclusively answers that question.

Formal versus substantive equality

Another distinction is the notion of equality that lays the foundation for affirmative action in both jurisdictions. The U.S. seeks to eliminate all distinctions based on race universally, the reason being equality cannot mean different things for different individuals. This applies even for affirmative action that may be justified to undo the historic discrimination faced by African Americans or Hispanics (or other groups). Thus, measures which treat one race as distinct from another in any manner, including a preference in education, are viewed strictly and against equality. This narrow view of equality is called a formal equality and prevents U.S. courts from allowing broad-based race conscious measures.

India, on the other hand, does not treat all distinctions of race or caste alike. Certain classes such as the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes who have faced discrimination in the past are not considered on a level field with others. To help them to achieve equal opportunities it is imperative that they have access to reservation. As Justice K.K. Mathew explained in 1976, “the notion of equality of opportunity has meaning only when a limited good or, in the present context, a limited number of posts, should be allocated on grounds which do not a priori exclude any section of citizens of those that desire it.” Thus, reservation is not antithetical to equality, but a tool that furthers equality. This is called a substantive notion of equality and facilitates Indian Courts to pass pro-reservation judgments, in sync with the constitutional mandate. In this context, a decision such as the Harvard University case is unimaginable for Indian courts.

Test for constitutionality

Further, the test to determine whether affirmative action or reservation is constitutional also varies substantially. The U.S. has strict scrutiny of all measures that create distinctions based on race. This means a measure is constitutionally permissible only if it furthers a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve such interest. The only permissible state interest in the U.S. is the need for a diverse student body. Once this is established, it must be proved that the measure closely correlates to diversity. This is a high standard that makes it extremely difficult for universities to devise admission programmes that are favourable to the minority race. Any broad measures are viewed with great caution so that non-minority candidates are not disadvantaged at the cost of minority.

In stark contrast, Indian courts have a very different standard to meet under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. ‘Education’ and ‘public employment’ are already enshrined in the Constitution as legitimate goals for reservation. Thus, the standard adopted by courts focuses on whether the class seeking reservation is socially and educationally backward, and inadequately represented. In employment, this requires proof of quantifiable data from the state. If these two criteria are met, even broad reservation measures are constitutional and the interests of the non-minority are instead taken care of by capping reservations at 50%.

Given India’s constitutional mandate that champions substantive equality and adopts a more reasonable test, Indian courts are unlikely to align with the SCOTUS’s Harvard ruling. Courts have repeatedly sounded caution that foreign decisions should not be relied on without a proper appreciation of the context in which they were rendered. However, the emphasis on a sunset clause, akin to the Indian Supreme Court’s suggestion in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Reservations case, could potentially resonate. Parliament’s receptiveness to this idea remains to be seen.

Given India’s constitutional mandate that champions substantive equality and adopts a more reasonable test, Indian courts are unlikely to align with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harvard ruling.


An inclusive social policy for migrants

According to a recent estimate (Kerala Planning Board Report 2021), Kerala is an employment hub for 34 lakh inter-State migrant workers. Higher wages, regularity of work, and better social and cultural milieu compared to many other States are the key drivers influencing the workers to flow towards Kerala. Kerala has implemented a range of welfare, health, and literacy schemes for migrant workers. These policy initiatives sustain Kerala as a migrant-friendly state. Yet, systematic micro-level enquiries point to various shortcomings. Preliminary observations of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB 2022-25) study titled “Effect of Social Institution and Technological Interventions on Access to Healthcare Among Interstate Migrant Labourers in Kerala” conducted by the Mahatma Gandhi University reveal that the benefits entitled in these policies do not reach a majority of migrant workers. This article details the path towards an inclusive culture of policy-making, in the context of the discussions held at the International Labour Conclave on May 25, 2023, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Migrant labour governance is facing organising trouble, broadly conceived as unity trouble. Unity trouble refers to the absence of a disaggregated assessment of the work and life situations of the migrant labour population. It is widely argued that the official name ‘guest worker’ is an ambiguous symbolic expression, uncritically reproduced by the media and even the research community. Critics argue that this expression fails to account for the nuanced aspects of rights denials. They also argue that current policies lack a comprehensive vision compared to the Interstate Migrant Workmen Act, 1979.

Strikes by migrant labourers over the past three decades in Kerala point to the need for inclusive policy-making. It is crucial that policymakers address the core rights issues raised by the Uzhavoor strike (2012), which aimed to secure better wages; the Athirampuzha strike (2023), which demanded equal pay for equal work; the Etumanoor strike (2023), targeting contractors who denied the rights of workers; the anti-exploitation strike (2016) against the forced collection of union fee in Kochi Metro; and the anti-wage theft strike (2022) against contractors who absconded without paying workers.

Regrettably, the government mechanism failed to address the rights denials highlighted by these strikes. In addition to wage-related issues, these workers are faced with unhygienic living and working conditions and a lack of social security. Physical abuse, as well as verbal and symbolic violences, are frequently reported too. Such situations beckon the need for the protection of the rights and dignity of the workers. The health of workers are constantly at risk due to exposure to hazardous substances and also by diseases and frequent accidents in their workplaces.

Chain of exploitation

Another menace is the phenomenon of the chain of exploitation — a network of wage exploitation activities involving influential members of the migrant labour communities aiding and abetting wage exploitation and theft, which is similar to the infamous colonial indenture labour practices.

Migrant workers have been stripped of their citizenship rights and basic human rights, directly and otherwise, rendering them continually marginalised within society. This predicament aligns with the profound words of Hannah Arendt, who said that every individual deserves the inherent dignity of humanity.

In contemporary capitalist society, without social justice, a systematic disregard for rights emerges, creating disposable populations who are subject to exploitation, exclusion, or even elimination. Kerala can enhance its reputation as a space of inclusivity and sustenance by addressing the social justice concerns of migrant workers.

The way forward

Observations of our extensive fieldwork and discussions with migrant workers of eight districts of Kerala, interactions with policy-makers, trade unionists and NGO activists, have laid bare the key aspects to formulate a rights-based and inclusive policy.

A set of recommendations to address the crucial task of upholding human rights need to be embraced in this context. They are, firstly, a shift from the usual numerical data collection approach to a thematic method to develop a panchayat-wise operatable/functional data bank of migrant workers. Second, it is necessary to ensure, that government decisions regarding the health, employment, cultural life, and social situation of migrant workers are firmly grounded in rights-based principles. Third, mechanisms must be established in collaboration with the origin State of labourers to enhance access to justice for migrant workers. Fourth, there must be promotion of awareness among migrants about their rights and the available legal remedies. Fifth, set up initiatives similar to global efforts to promote cultural exchange, community engagement, fostering mutual understanding etc. to implement inclusive policies for social integration of migrant workers into the local community. Sixth, multi-stakeholder policy and monitoring dialogues for ensuring migrant workers’ rights and welfare must be fostered, and lastly, priority must be accorded to establishing a comprehensive vision for sustainable workers’ human rights in tune with global instruments like Global Compact on Migration (GCM) for the migrant populations in Kerala.

Despite a range of welfare, health, and literacy schemes for migrant workers, Kerala lacks a broader policy that addresses social justice for the community.


‘A global rupee may raise volatility’

As the Government of India presses ahead with its plan to internationalise the Indian Rupee (INR), an Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) of officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have in a report cautioned that internationalisation may result in increased volatility in the rupee’s exchange rate in the initial stages.

“This would further have monetary implications as the obligation of a country to supply its currency to meet the global demand may come in conflict with its domestic monetary policies, popularly known as the Triffin dilemma,” the IDG wrote.

“Also, the internationalisation of a currency may accentuate an external shock, given the open channel of the flow of funds into and out of the country and from one currency to another,” the officials added.

However, the IDG held that the overall benefits of internationalisation in terms of limited exchange rate risk, lower cost of capital due to better access to international financial markets, high seigniorage benefits and reduced requirement of foreign exchange reserves far outweighed the concerns.

In accordance with the terms of reference, the IDG has recommended a roadmap to achieve rupee internationalisation.

The group has also recommended designing a template and adopting a standardised approach for examining the proposals on bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements for invoicing, settlement and payment in INR and local currencies.

It said efforts must be made to enable INR as an additional settlement currency in existing multilateral mechanisms such as the Asian Clearing Union.

“The report and its recommendations reflect the views of the IDG and do not in any way reflect the official position of the Reserve Bank of India,” the central bank observed.


Iran’s induction in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Why will the entry of the SCO’s newest member aggravate its image of being ‘anti-West’?

The story so far:

As Iran joins the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as its ninth member, leaders of the SCO at a virtual summit chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 4 stressed that the formation of a “more representative” and multipolar world order is in the global interest.

What is the SCO?

The SCO was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’ grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which had come together in the post-Soviet era in 1996, in order to work on regional security, reduction of border troops, and terrorism. In 2001, the Shanghai Five inducted Uzbekistan into the group and named it the SCO. The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in Tashkent.

What are the main goals of the SCO?

The SCO describes its main goals as: “strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research and technology and culture… making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.” The latter part of the statement which calls to build a “new international political and economic order” did not sit well with the U.S. and Europe, and has led to the SCO being dubbed as “anti-NATO” for proposing military cooperation. This concern was further heightened when heavy sanctions were placed on Russia for its actions in Crimea and China came to its aid, signing a $400 billion gas pipeline agreement. Since then, through the personal bond between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the SCO has become a platform for Eurasian cooperation in a region rich with energy resources.

Has SCO dealt with bilateral issues?

India and Pakistan joined the SCO as observers in 2005, and were admitted as full members in 2017. Since 2014, India and Pakistan have cut all ties, talks and trade with each other. However, both countries have consistently attended all meetings of the SCO’s three councils — the Heads of State, Heads of Government, Council of Foreign Ministers. Despite the fact that India accuses Pakistan of perpetrating cross-border terrorism at every other forum, at the SCO, Indian and Pakistani armed forces take part in military and anti-terrorism exercises together, as part of the SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. Not only Pakistan, the SCO has also facilitated talks between India and China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border issue.

Why is Iran’s induction significant?

While the SCO’s original goals focused more on stability and security, recent declarations have put the focus squarely on connectivity in the region. For India, that has built its connectivity strategy through Iran’s Chabahar port, where it operates a terminal and through the International North South Transport Corridor that goes through Iran and Central Asia to Russia, the entrance of Iran in the SCO is an important milestone. To begin with, Iran’s presence ensures support for New Delhi’s moves to circumvent land-based trade through Pakistan, which has blocked transit trade for India.

Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that Central Asian states that are double land-locked will seek to build a multimodal trade route via Afghanistan to ports in both Pakistan and Iran. It also allows India to conduct trade with the region while staying out of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In addition, the induction of Iran, a historically close partner of India that has also suffered from terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan will bolster India’s push for an end to terror safe havens. Where the government may find some unease in a more vocal support for Iran is in the fact that the SCO is increasingly seen as an “anti-West” forum, and Iran, like Russia is under severe sanctions. In addition, the U.S. has accused Iran of supplying weapons to Russia, and the expected induction of Belarus next year will only strengthen this image of the SCO, even as India strengthens ties with the Quad, making the Indian balancing act more difficult.


The SCO was built on the ‘Shanghai Five’ grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Despite the fact that India accuses Pakistan of perpetrating cross-border terrorism at every other forum, at the SCO, Indian and Pakistani armed forces take part in military and anti-terrorism exercises together.

While the SCO’s original goals focused more on stability and security, recent declarations have put the focus squarely on connectivity in the region.


Facts about the News 

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.
  • Formed on 15 june 2001 in Shanghai(China)
  • Before the creation of SCO in 2001 , Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
  • Later, it include Uzbekistan and renamed with SCO
  • India and Pakistan JOINED IN 2017.
  • On September 2021 it was announced that Iran would become its full time member.
  • Oficial language- Russian and Chinese.

Members- Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Iran

Observer Countries – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia

Dialogue Partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey

The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.



Chandrayaan-3 integrated with launch vehicle LVM3

Launch window is between July 12 and 19 and the orbital raising will take place soon after

launch; the lander and orbiter will orbit the moon before touching down on the lunar surface

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which is planning to launch the Chandrayaan-3 moon mission in July, integrated the spacecraft with the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) on Wednesday.

The space agency tweeted: “Today, at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, the encapsulated assembly containing Chandrayaan-3 is mated with LVM3.”

The ISRO is yet to announce the date of the launch. However, the launch window is between July 12 and 19. ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said that the space agency would pick the earliest possible date.

Chandrayaan-3, India’s third moon mission, follows Chandrayaan-2, to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface. It consists of an indigenous lander module (LM), a propulsion module (PM), and a rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.

According to the ISRO, the lander has the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site, and deploy the rover, which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility. The lander and the rover have scientific payloads. The main function of the PM is to carry the LM from launch vehicle injection till final lunar 100-km circular polar orbit, and separate the LM from the PM. The PM also has one scientific payload, which will be operated post-separation of the LM.

After its launch in mid-July, the orbital raising will take place. The lander and orbiter will orbit the moon before touching down on the moon. Mr. Somanath had said that the ISRO has added more fuel to the lander. Chandrayaan-3 will be going on the same path as its predecessor and will be landing on the same site.