General Studies – 1;
Topic: Poverty and developmental issues
- Every year in the winter, Delhi is choked with high level of air pollution, particularly PM 2.5.
- Among other factors, agriculture is blamed the most for this as Paddy and straw residue burning in nearby states creates pollutant particulate matter which then travel to the land locked areas of Delhi.
- It is an anthropogenic factor and hence can be controlled through effective steps taken at Central level, State level, and by both:
- Technology advancement and mechanization: Providing access to suitable machinery, which can be used for collection, chopping and incorporation of straw into the soil to increase its fertility.
- Alternative methods of straw management:
- Promoting biomass energy production and vermicomposting where the main ingredient is straw which will help in increasing the economic value of straw
- Promoting the use of paddy straw for other industrial purposes such as paper mills, packing industry. This will help in preventing wastage of straw.
- Bio char like charcoal is produced through burning rice straw with no or extremely low levels of oxygen which helps the soil retain nutrients and water which prevents leaching and also creates no ash.
- In most cases it would not be cost-effective for the straw to be transported too far away from the paddy farm. So the plants for producing energy from straw should be near the farms
- Crop Diversification:
- Intercropping should be promoted with incentives and subsidies. Intercropping will prevent extra stress provided to the land and help in increasing the productivity
- Other crops like pulses etc. can also be produced instead of focusing only on paddy crops.
- National mission on Sustainable Agriculture;
- MNREGA for incentivizing very small farm holders for indulging in other activities.
- Subsidy and crop insurance for non-cereals and shift to millets, pulses
- Penalty for eco degradation.
Both center and states need to come together to reform, develop and innovate mechanisms and infrastructure of agricultural methods to check the rising level of pollution due to it.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Functioning of judiciary
- Justice delayed is justice denied.
- Indian Judicial system has millions of pending judgments. Judiciary is the part of the problem and so it must also be the part of solution.
Analysis of the issue:
- Low Strength of judges in all levels of courts
- Frequent transfer of judges takes the interest out of them to hear and decision making gets delayed. Such arrears mustn’t exist.
- Appellate courts are falling short in dealing with the cases hence passing the burden to civil and criminal justice system.
- Inefficient dispute resolution mechanism.
- Filing of the frequent government litigation keeps the courts busy instead of serving justice to the people speedily.
- Often lawyers through various means drags cases for years so that decision is delayed.
Critical Analysis of Steps taken by SC:
- Lok Adalats and Nyaya Panchayats were conducted to reduce pendency cases. However, frequency is less.
- Adoption of fast track courts to expeditiously reduce the pending cases in district and subordinate courts. But, there are allegations that fast track courts are not really fast and many cases take even more than a year.
- Mobile courts: First mobile court was inaugurated in Haryana for easy reach, but was not continued in full swing
- NJAC: much expected NJAC to expedite appointments was stuck down by Supreme court citing breach of independence of judiciary
- Selection and Appointment of Judges: Cooperation with Center to form a mutually agreeable mechanism as against the current Collegium System.
- Discourage mundane PIL cases
- All India Judicial commission: Well-trained and specialized should be placed mainly in subordinate and district court, from where huge appeals pops up.
- National Court of Appeal: Will reduce workload burden of SC but it will also increase an extra level of judiciary whose role and limitations need to be deliberated upon.
- Increase the number of high courts: Currently, there are only 24 high courts for 29 states and 7 union territories
- Increase and strengthen alternative dispute mechanisms like fast track courts, mobile courts, commercial courts
- Usage of IT tools should be promoted to reduce excessive paperwork and create credible and usable database.
- SC being the highest Judiciary authority has the power to manage the large no. of pending cases. But it will have to take revolutionary steps to reform the judiciary.
- Also, it will need an active support of Executive and Legislature in carrying out this reform.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora
- Against the popular prediction of political pundits across the world, Donald Trump has become the President-Elect of USA.
- Having a controversial stand on various issues like Muslim Ban, Immigration, protectionist approach vis-a-vis free trade, international security, etc., his presidency might have a big impact on various countries including India:
Implications on India:
- Immigration policies could be made strict: H1B visas could be curtailed. However new president favors entry of Indian entrepreneurs and students.
- Trade agreements could be renegotiated: Republicans usually favors free market pricing which can help Indian pharmaceutical companies who supplies one third of all drugs in the US.
- Asia pivot policy could see a change: New president elect had advocated about withdrawing US forces from Asia and for making Asian countries like India, Japan and S Korea more responsible for containing china.
- Export of Services could be hit: Trump favors anti outsourcing policy which could affect Indian jobs as companies will start preferring cloud based solutions and automation.
- Uncertainty: There is uncertainty over India’s NSG bid and UNSC permanent membership. A lot depends on US’s china policy.
Implications on US:
- Immigration restriction will increase jobs and security.
- Health sector can see the Obama care will be replaced with new framework.
- Protectionist trade policies will help domestic industries.
- Anti-Muslim approach will increase threats from terror groups.
- Both houses of Congress has Republican majority thus passing any Act will be easy.
Implications on world:
- Iran nuclear deal could be relooked.
- Chinese dominance on Asia if USA withdraws its forces.
- Pro Russia policy will shift balance in power and Syrian crisis could be solved.
- Trade barriers could emerge due to protectionist policies proposed by trump.
- Renegotiation on all trade agreements good for Chinese silk road initiative.
- US fed rates uncertainty not good for world economy.
- Paris treaty could be affected as trump is opposed to agreements which stunts growth
- Though a controversial figure, he now holds the position of president –elect of the most powerful democracy. So his actions will affect the whole world.
- Hence onus is on him to act responsibly for safety and betterment of USA and the world.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas;
4) How does Cross-border tensions between India and Pakistan affect the lives and livelihoods of civilians along the border? What responsibilities does both countries have towards lives of these people? Critically discuss. (200 Words)
For the past 70 odd years, Both India and Pakistan have been in a state of perpetual hostility.
Due to this the major sufferers have the civilians along the border in the form of:
- Casualties: With no proper shelter facilities, civilians get injured at times die, the number jist increases with time
- Trade: With disturbance, their livelihood, economic activities get affected, satisfying their basic necessities become difficult.
- Punjab is located near the “Golden Crescent” area of Af-Pak narcotic trade. 70% of Punjabi youth are drug-addicts. India can’t reap its Demographic dividend if youth is addicted to drugs.
- Terrorism: Anti India Jihadist groups who consistently tries to push terrorist to India through its border areas.
- Education of children also gets affected as school gets closed
- Psychological disturbance: Disturbed times affect them mentally, they consider government to be incapable of settling the issues, brings bad name to the government and our armed forces.
- Migration: Unemployed, with their shelters getting dilapidated, they migrate to cities, unable to get employment; they leave in poverty, become burden on the cities.
- Ratify 4th Geneva convention to safeguard civilians
- Both to ensure resumption of trade without any hindrance. But it will involve mutual trust and responsibility towards the other.
- Both India and Pakistan should involve and continue political and diplomatic level negotiations. But it looks bleak in the current situation of high political hostility.
- Tier II (informal negotiations) should be encouraged from both sides. This step needs to be taken without coming into much limelight of media and public as it will unnecessary create distractions.
- Creation of underground shelters, to help them stay protected during firings.
- Compensation for loss of lives and properties should be provided immediately
- Providing better medical facilities for emergencies.
- Ensure proper rehabilitation of these civilians who have lost their homes, provide them with proper compensation.
- Increase diplomatic engagement so as to ensure peace and stability.
- Both of the countries must consider the effect of such cross border tensions on civilians and should contemplate a comprehensive mechanism to protect them
- It is time to focus on Neighborhood First and Gujral doctrine.
Topic:Indian economy – growtha nd development; Inclusive growth
According to census 2011, approx. 68 % of population lives in rural areas, in this context, their consumption becomes very crucial for the domestic economy. Rural consumption is increasing due to factors like increase in wages, remittances, changing preferences, etc. which has caused more demand and thus more productivity in the economy having inflationary trend too.
Factors responsible of rise in rural consumption:-
- Increase in wages – Government schemes like MGNREGA, NRLM, SHG, Rural entrepreneurship, skill development, better agricultural yield, corporate farming, etc have contributed to the increase in wages of rural population, causing more consumption.
- More remittances – Migration of rural population to cities and other countries like – Gulf countries, USA, etc has caused more inflow of remittance to rural areas, thus more spending for increased consumption.
- Availability, changing preferences and aspiration- Due to more integration through ICT, transportation, ware houses, cold storages, etc. the availability of choices of goods and services to rural population has increased, causing change in preference for food, private education, private health, etc with an aspiration for a better future. This is causing more consumption.
- Role of government and NGOs- Government is focusing on improving the rural connectivity and delivery of quality services to rural population, providing credit to farmer, rural entrepreneur, etc. through Primary sector lending and microfinance. Also, the NGOs are helping in bridging the gap of development, for example – some NGOs work with tribals and teach them how to use natural resources, others employ local rural talent to create products and help them boost their incomes. Thus, they are contributing towards more rural consumption.
Impact of the rise on economy:-
- Better productivity for industries – more demand will increase production in industries leading to increase In India’s GDP.
- Inflationary trend –more money in hand will increase demand for goods and in turn their prices will increase. Along with this, supply side bottlenecks will cause inflationary trend in the economy.
- More investment in rural areas – With more consumption in rural areas, government starts investing in rural infrastructure to attract MNCs, private players, etc. This generates gainful opportunities for employment to rural people. It also helps in reducing regional disparity with more inclusiveness. It will reduce distress migrationfrom rural to urban areas.
- Stress on resources – More consumption causes stress on the scarce resources like Land, water, etc. This leads to tensions, farmer suicides, inter-state disputes like- Cauvery river dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- Cushion to global shock- Amid global slowdown, the domestic demand driven growth has saved India in the past. Domestic consumption acts like a cushion.
Faster, more inclusive and sustainable development was the target of Twelfth five year plan, which is crucial for improving rural consumption. In the background of SDG, INDC targets, India needs to monitor the rising rural consumption, it should be sustainable.
Topic: Linkages of organized crime with terrorism
Background – As per a study done by the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, in 2015, at any given point of time Rs. 400 crore worth fake notes were in circulation in the economy. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2015, various law enforcement agencies seized 1,78,022 pieces of fake Rs 1,000 notes.
Fake Indian currency notes (FICN), which are circulated in the Indian economy are mainly pumped through illegal/crime network in the South and Southeast Asian region enroute Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as per CBI and NIA. These are used mainly for terror financing, human & drug trafficking, arms & cattle smuggling. Thus, demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes was a step taken to put a check on the unaccounted wealth, fake currency notes in circulation. This move impacts terror financing as discussed:
- Fake currencies will become valueless – Large amount of fake Indian currency notes, which were printed in Pakistan as per the Intelligence Bureau report would become valueless as they cannot be used further. Till now, these fake currencies were used for financing terrorist groups, originating in Pakistan.
- More security features – The new notes which will be circulated in future, will have new security features and it would take a long time/would be hard for the terror groups to print an equivalent fake currency with the same security features, causing financial crunch for terror groups.
- Indigenous raw material – Till now, the supplier of raw currency, the ink and the silver thread were same for India and Pakistan. So, it was easy to copy, misuse the raw material for fake currency supporting the terrors groups. Use of indigenous raw material for future currencies will restrict the scope of duplicating and thus financing to terror groups.
- Check to Hawala transaction – Terror funds were channelized through illegal hawala transaction, operating underground. Demonetisation has put check to the flow of money through such transaction, chocking one of the major financial source of the terror groups.
Thus as mentioned above, funding for arms, smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal trade, etc helping terrorist organisation will take a blow since all the money will get back to bank and from there it would be easier to monitor the currency. The money hoarded by terrorist groups in big currencies has become a piece of paper now.
The sudden decision by the government has caused short term problems but in long run it will help in curbing terrorism, black money generation, hoarding, etc. by blocking illegal access to Indian rupees. It will help in checking corruption, real estate prices, gold prices and thus will benefit poor and middle class people too.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Challenges of corruption
Background – India has one of the highest levels of currencies in circulation at over 12% of gross domestic product and of this cash, 87% is in the form of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. Most of this cash has been supporting underground black economies.
The black economies are result of corruption, which has spread its tentacles in the country to such an extent that there is hardly any section of the society unaffected by its repercussion. It reflects decline in the moral fabric of the society and it has ceased to arouse stronger emotions of morality & ethics due to its acceptance by large section of the society.
Demonetization, is a good step in this direction, which is being forced from government side itself, reflecting the political will to end corruption. It will raise the cost of illegal transactions. In corruption, suppose bribe taking, people involved will facilitate cash with bigger denomination, because it is easy to carry. So, here demonetization of bigger notes in short run will check such easy and big illegal transaction.
Removal of large denomination currencies will make several criminal and illegal activities more costly such as tax evasion, human trafficking, drugs trafficking, extortion and terrorism. For example – sectors with larger cash components in their transaction such as real estate, movie production which earlier used to evade taxes, will now come into the purview of the inclusion, thus chances of corruption is less.
The present demonetization has made provision for stringent monitoring of currency flow, people need to show their ID card for exchanging cash at banks, follow KYC norms, etc. Government has put penalty on ill-gotten cash – cash above 2.5 lakh to face penalty of 200% which is an appropriate punitive measure for the corrupt people. In future, it will encourage the use of plastic money and move towards cashless economy, thus more transparency would be maintained. It has raised the confidence of middle class and poor people in the governance and in future they will not support any kind of corrupt practise. It has also caused fear and anxiety in the mind of corrupt people.
However, demonetization will not end crime, but it will force the underground economy to employ riskier and less liquid payment methods. Proposal of new 500, 1000 and 2000 notes in future will further pose the same challenge. As shown by past experiences- demonetization in 1946 and 1978 did not work as people generally find an alternative way for corrupt transactions.
Though, this move would help in reducing corruption in the short term but to remove corruption entirely or to reduce to minimal levels, we need to inculcate values in the society through value based education and promoting ideals of our constitution.