This refers to ‘Brexit crisis deepens’ (January 18). The UK-EU relationship has been fractious and over the years it has worsened mainly because of the lack of clarity on the UK’s part. The first referendum “for staying” in the EU came in 1975 and 67 per cent voted in support. This ended up in a split of the Labour party. The second one in 2016 for “leaving EU” was voted 51.9 per cent in favour. The takeaway from this, besides British ineptitude, is the hegemony of a few in the EU that resisted the entry of Britain three decades earlier is proving as intractable now in its exit. The consequences of any third referendum in the UK on Brexit cannot be for the faint-hearted.
Plight of civil servants
This refers to ‘Civil services: Time to introspect’ (January 18). One tends to agree with the writer’s view that a host of factors prevent civil servants from taking bold decisions and it’s indeed time for the top ranking officers belonging to the elite IAS and IPS cadres to introspect. However, it also goes without saying that the 5Cs (CVC, CBI, CAG, courts and CIC) could truly be the biggest inhibitors to decision-making, but then their indecisiveness could also be attributed to some direct/indirect interference by the ‘power that be’. The careers of officers in these institutions often remain hostage to politicians’ self-serving whims and choices.
Also, such indecisiveness is not confined to these two key civil services alone. Most top officials of public sector banks too face it. It’s a different matter the lending officers of banks would always remain answerable for ‘obliging’ their political masters. However, it would also be naive to expect complete removal of “intellectual dishonesty” from amongst those belonging to the IAS/IPS.
It is important that weaker banks attain an optimal structure and avoid over-capitalisation in order to resolve the root cause of NPAs. Easing norms on lending and capital-conservation buffer would only increase exposure to market risks and reduce the cash at hand for the banks/FIs. While infusion of additional capital and consolidation of similar operations can facilitate self-sufficiency and mitigate inherent issues of liquidity/marketability, it is more important to strike a balance between defensive/conservative measures such as PCA/proactive provisioning and aggressive lending strategies like unsecured-lending. This will help boost interest income and improve the asset-quality in the longer- un. Bank-led resolution of stressed assets under IBA and diktats for stringent vetting/end-use monitoring of funds ought to be prioritised for credit-sanction/disbursal to worthy borrowers only. Robust governance, efficient top management, performance-oriented supervision standards and a culture driven by zero-malfeasance are pre-requisites for improving margins. Regulators ought to devise a viable strategy for banks to reduce the working capital gap, implement corporate actions and build a healthy loan portfolio in order to achieve a total turnaround.
Selection of police chiefs
The directive of the Supreme Court that States must select their police chiefs from the list of officers empanelled by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), an institution under Union government, would certainly have implications for the country’s federalism. The perception that the apex court directive militates against the principles of federalism enunciated in our Constitution cannot be faulted.
Law and order is a State subject and it is incumbent upon the State governments to maintain law and order through its police machinery. The involvement of the UPSC in the selection process of police chief in States would only enhance the potential of the Centre to have a dominant foothold in what is an exclusive domain of the States. Long overdue police reforms that aim at preventing the police force from acting on the whims and fancies of their political masters deserve effective implementation.
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