Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 23 February 2024

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Indian Express Editorial Analysis- 23 February 2024

1. A long institutional road

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Judiciary 
In light of current judicial decisions, the role of the Supreme Court within the constitutional framework, and their implications for democracy and governance, this topic is pertinent for both Prelims and Mains.

– The Supreme Court of India has made two recent rulings that have drawn attention due to their potential effects on electoral democracy.
– The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was declared the winner of the Chandigarh mayoral contest in the second ruling, which ruled that the electoral bonds scheme was unconstitutional.
– In an environment where the Supreme Court’s role in defending democratic principles has been called into question, these rulings are seen as a positive development.
– Even though each of these choices is commendable in and of itself, more research is necessary to fully understand their systemic effects and their capacity to halt the erosion of institutional legitimacy.

Balancing Institutional Legitimacy:

  • Like any other institution, the Supreme Court has to strike a balance between upholding its constitutional obligations and preserving its credibility.
  • Because the preservation of a delicate balance of power is integral to the Court’s legitimacy, it frequently exercises caution in order to avoid upsetting the executive branch.
  • The Court may not question the central tenets of the ruling party’s ideology, even in cases where it rules against the government.
  • Consequently, even though rulings such as those concerning electoral bonds and the Chandigarh mayoral contest are praiseworthy, it’s possible that they don’t represent a significant change in the Court’s dynamic with the government.

Maintaining the Façade of Legitimacy:

  • Occasionally, the Court’s involvement reminds the government that it must uphold the pretence of legitimacy, especially when it comes to democratic values and constitutional requirements.
  • Determinations concerning electoral fairness or flagrant transgressions of fundamental constitutional values underscore the lines that even an arrogant administration cannot cross without jeopardising credibility.
  • The reaction of the larger political culture to these kinds of decisions, however, suggests a normalisation of institutional corruption, where even grave transgressions do not always result in political repercussions for the governing party.

Challenges to Systemic Regeneration:

  • Even in the case of favourable decisions on occasion, there is still doubt about the Court’s capacity to promote systemic change.
  • Expectations of a major shift are dashed by the Court’s past compliance with the executive branch’s agenda and the political culture’s acceptance of institutional degradation.
  • Expectations of accountability are undermined by the fragmented opposition and the absence of persistent civic courage, which normalise institutional breaches.


  • Although the Supreme Court’s recent rulings are encouraging, they shouldn’t be viewed as singular instances of constitutionalism’s façade being validated.
  • Rather, they must be a part of a larger pattern that opposes communalism and authoritarianism wherever they appear.
  • The importance of isolated judicial actions is still restricted in the absence of concerted efforts to hold the government responsible and rebuild institutional integrity.

PYQ: The judiciary, beginning with the creation of the “basic structure” doctrine, has been extremely proactive in ensuring that India becomes a thriving democracy. Consider the statement and assess how judicial activism contributes to the realisation of democratic ideals. (12.5 m/200 words) (2014, UPSSC CSE (M) GS-2)
Practice Question: Examine the recent rulings of the Indian Supreme Court critically, paying particular attention to the ruling that the electoral bonds programme is unconstitutional and the announcement of the Chandigarh mayoral winner. Consider how important these choices are for maintaining democratic values in the face of institutional decay. (15 m/250 words)

2. How to make MSP work

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – MSP 
Given the background information on agricultural pricing policies, in particular the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system, this topic is pertinent to both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– The Minimum Support Price (MSP) system in India has encountered several difficulties since it was established in 1965, including problems with crop inclusion, the MSP formula, efficient implementation, and enforcement.
– Remarkably, protests against the MSP frequently originate in areas where its implementation has gone reasonably well and benefit the greatest number of people.
– The complexities of agricultural pricing policies and their effects are highlighted by this paradox.

Reasons for Focus on MSP:

  • The focus on MSP is a result of a number of factors, such as inefficient and weakly competitive markets, markets’ inability to adjust to the shifting demands of the agriculture industry, the disregard for non-price factors that influence income and productivity, and the direct relationship between prices and farmers’ income.
  • Demands for reforms meant to address agrarian distress and guarantee equitable compensation for farmers have been heightened by these problems.

Evolution of MSP Implementation:

  • At first, only a few states and a few crops—most notably paddy, wheat, and cotton—were able to use the MSP.
  • But worries about declining farm income, unfair trade conditions, and an increase in farmer suicides brought attention to the necessity of compensatory pricing strategies.
  • Among other things, the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers, which was chaired by the Swaminathan Panel, focused on land reform, contract farming, and agricultural market reform.
  • The suggestion that MSP should be at least 50% greater than the weighted average cost of production was especially noteworthy.

Challenges with New MSP Concept:

  • The Swaminathan Panel introduced the “new MSP” concept, which required a minimum of 50% margin over the comprehensive cost (C2) of production.
  • On the other hand, questions were raised about this strategy’s viability and potential effects on market dynamics.
  • The fixed margin and fixation on cost C2 imposed by the new MSP could skew market signals and prevent demand-driven growth in agriculture.

Policy Options and Recommendations:

  • To address pricing challenges, a range of policy options have been proposed, such as assured prices to farmers, deficiency price payment systems, and legal guarantees for MSP.
  • But there are trade-offs and complexity specific to each option.
  • Legalising MSP, for example, might not guarantee successful implementation or deal with market distortions.
  • In a similar vein, poorly designed deficiency price payment systems may encounter both budgetary restrictions and WTO issues.


  • A balanced approach is required to effectively address the issues surrounding MSP.
  • In order to do this, the MSP formula must be reviewed in order to account for variable margins. Additionally, alternative pricing strategies like Assured Price to Farmers (APF), which incorporates a component for farmer profit or margin, must be investigated.
  • Furthermore, enhanced collaboration between the federal and state governments is imperative to guarantee the successful execution of MSP across diverse crop types and geographical areas.
  • In the end, a comprehensive package of reforms is needed to allow markets to give farmers fair prices and lessen their reliance on government intervention.

Various Committees on Minimum Support Price (MSP)
– The goal of the 1965 establishment of the Agricultural Prices Commission (APC) was to suggest MSPs for agricultural commodities. Later on, the organisation was renamed the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The CACP recommends MSPs for 23 different crops, including oilseeds, wheat, rice, pulses, and cotton.
– Farmers’ National Commission (NCF): Under the direction of M.S. Swaminathan, the NCF was founded in 2004 with the goal of addressing farmer issues and recommending policies that would promote their well-being. As MSP, the NCF suggested a minimum profit margin of 50% over the cost of production.
– Shanta Kumar Committee: In order to examine the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and recommend changes, the Shanta Kumar Committee was established in 2014. The committee suggested that instead of providing price-based support for

PYQ: Consider the following stements: (2020)

1) All Indian States and Union Territories are permitted to purchase an unlimited amount of cereals, pulses, and oil seeds at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
2) The MSP for pulses and cereals is set in any State or UT at a price point where the market price will never increase.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: D
Practice Question: Examine the problems and effects of India’s Minimum Support Price (MSP) system critically, paying particular attention to new developments and possible courses of action. Talk about how the MSP has changed since it was first implemented in 1965 and assess how well it has worked to alleviate agrarian hardship and guarantee farmers receive fair prices. (15 m/250 words)

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