The rocket attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, which American military leaders called the largest attack on the highly fortified Green Zone in a decade, have sent tensions in the region soaring.
President Donald Trump and senior leaders of the administration have pointed to Iran, saying that it supplied the rockets.
Mr Trump had reportedly sought options to launch strikes on Iran immediately after his election defeat but was dissuaded by Cabinet colleagues.
Joe Biden, the next President, promising to revive the nuclear deal, there is a window of opportunity to restart the diplomatic process.
But attacks like this threaten to push both the countries into an open conflict.
When the U.S. killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January this year, American officials claimed that the drone strike in the Iraqi capital had reestablished America’s deterrence.
But Iran had launched retaliatory missile attacks on U.S. military camps in Iraq, wounding several soldiers.
And since then, pro-Iran Shia militias in Iraq have launched missile attacks at the Green Zone that houses the Embassy and repeatedly targeted American supply lines inside Iraq.
Mr Trump’s actions derailed a functioning international deal and his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign turned an Iran fully compliant with the deal’s terms more dangerous.
Iran is under pressure to counter the repeated attempts by the U.S. and its allies to scuttle its influence.
Late last month, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top scientist, was killed inside Iran, allegedly by Israeli agents.
But in a quest for revenge, Iran should not sleep-walk into the trap of provocation.
Refer Pesticide Bill to select committee | ET
A close ally of the farmer, the pesticide industry.
Pesticides evoke alarm and distaste and those who make them are seen as peddlers of harm.
Pesticides are vital, the point is to manage them well.
Parliament is considering a Pesticide Management Bill, which would replace the 1968 vintage Insecticides Act.
Why exclude weedicides from the Bill’s nomenclature?
Why exclude chemicals that, for example, extend the life of fresh produce?
Why not call it the Crop Care Regulation and Development Bill?
The industry is some Rs 40,000 crore in size, including exports, and spends almost 10% on R&D, the comparable figure for India as a whole being 0.7% of GDP.
It employs a fair number of people with advanced degrees in chemistry, agriculture and biology.
The Bill fails to propose a regulator with an appellate body, criminalises far too many ill-defined offences and provides for arbitrary stoppage of production and export.
Norms for import of know-how and formulations would appear to be poorly crafted, with little regard for promoting domestic capability.
There is no call to rush the Bill through Parliament. Refer it to a Select Committee.
Hear domestic and foreign industry, and farmers, before finalising the Bill, and consult the Dalwai committee report the government had commissioned.
State legislatures have an abysmal record in terms of number of sittings per year | Ind Exp
The Kerala governor and the government of the state are at loggerheads again.
This is the second major conflict between the two this year.
The first, at the beginning of this year, was concerning the governor’s address to the state legislature.
The governor’s address is written by the government.
Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, while delivering the address in the legislative assembly, stopped before reading out a paragraph of the address.
The paragraph related to the Kerala government’s opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Interrupting the address, Governor Khan said that he was of the opinion that the paragraph did not relate to policy or programmes.
But he went on to read the paragraph to honour the wish of the chief minister despite his disagreement.
The current conflict is with regards to the summoning of the state legislature.
The Kerala government made a recommendation to the governor for summoning the state’s legislature for a one-day session.
The government wanted to discuss the situation arising out of the farmers’ protest in the legislative assembly.
Media reports suggest that the governor turned down the government on the grounds that there is no emergent situation for which the state assembly should be called to meet at short notice.
Earlier this year, the Rajasthan governor had rejected the recommendation of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s government to call a session.
The chief minister wanted a session of the legislature called so that he could prove his majority on the floor of the house.
The Constitution is clear: The government has the power to convene a session of the legislature.
The council of ministers decides the dates and the duration of the session.
Their decision is communicated to the governor, who is constitutionally bound to act on most matters on the aid and advice of the government.
The governor then summons the state legislature to meet for a session.
The refusal of a governor to do so is a matter of concern.
Such events require careful deliberation to prevent them from snowballing into a constitutional crisis.
But the events in Kerala and Rajasthan are an aberration.
They should not distract us from the dismal record of the sittings of state legislatures in the country.
In the last 20 years, state assemblies across the country, on average, met for less than 30 days in a year.
But states like Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka are an exception.
The Kerala Vidhan Sabha, for example, has on an average met for 50 days every year for the last 10 years.
The trend across the country is that legislatures meet for longer budget sessions at the beginning of the year.
Then for the rest of the year, they meet in fits and spurts and pay lip service to the constitutional requirement that there should not be a gap of six months between two sessions of a legislature.
The blame for the decline in the sitting days of the state legislatures rests with the government.
Legislatures are arenas for debate and giving voice to public opinion.
As accountability institutions, they are responsible for asking tough questions of the government and highlighting uncomfortable truths.
So, it is in the interest of a state government to convene lesser sittings of the legislature and bypass their scrutiny.
Lesser number of sitting days also means that state governments are free to make laws through ordinances.
And when they convene legislatures, there is little time for MLAs to scrutinise laws brought before them.
Continuous and close scrutiny by legislatures is central to improving governance in the country.
Increasing the number of working days for state legislatures is a first step in increasing their effectiveness.
One way to do that is by convening legislatures to meet all around the year.
In many mature democracies, a fixed calendar of sittings of legislatures, with breaks in between, is announced at the beginning of the year.
It allows the government to plan its calendar for bringing in new laws.
It also has the advantage of increasing the time for debate and discussion in the legislative assembly.
And with the legislature sitting throughout the year, it gets rid of the politics surrounding the convening of sessions of a legislature.
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EAM Dr S Jaishankar holds virtual meeting with Spanish counterpart Arancha González
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on 23-Dec-2020 held a virtual meeting with his Spain counterpart Arancha González.
Both Ministers exchanged notes on the pandemic situation.
During the meeting, there was detailed review of bilateral relations including cooperation in energy, climate change and infrastructure.
The Ministers discussed regional issues and reformed multilateralism.