[Insights Secure – 2016] UPSC Mains Questions on Current Affairs: 11 November 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Globalization and its impact on society
1) Economic integration with the world has led to a domestic fragmentation of societies within nations. Critically discuss varying impact of globalization on societies and polities around the world. (200 Words)
- Globalization has immense effect on polity and society-both positive and negative.
- With globalization, the world has become a global village, thereby economically integrating the world.
- But due this, there has been a rise in individualism, consumerism and multiculturalism and modified role which is reshaping the societies across the world.
Positive Impact on Societies:
- Egalitarianism becoming a prominent value: Relations within the societies are becoming more egalitarian from feudal.
- More awareness and self-dependency: State’s role has changed in managing its citizens and they hence have become more aware and self-dependent in this era of market economy.
- Women-led industrialization. Highest absorption of women in workforce has led to cohesion of the labor.
- Economic Growth of the society: Has led to homogenization of society as a consumer.
Negative impact on Societies:
- Rise in Conflicts: Egalitarianism leads to ego clash which reduces compromising tendency in humans.
- Alienation and rise in inequality- Globalization leads to high division of labor thereby alienating individual from the product of his labor.
- Services like education, housing and health have become dependent on market forces.
- Consumerism and Individualism: has led to loss of compassion and bonding in the society.
Positive impact on Politics:
- Democratization of polities- Globalization stresses on democracy as a prominent political arrangement as a result there are nations like Myanmar and Nepal which are becoming democratic.
- Accountability towards the world community- Nations are held accountable for any wrong doings to their people. eg. Srin Lanka being questioned on human rights violation by its army.
- Sharing best practices- Best practices of governance can be shared and inculcated.
Negative impact on politics:
- Unwanted external interference in domestic politics- Integration makes a polity vulnerable to instability due to external factors. Eg. Arab spring causing political turmoil in West Asia.
- There is a reassertion of national and cultural identities, which has created space for populist movements.
- Although there is a rise in the economic prosperity of the nations of the world, the societies have faced turbulence due to globalization.
- In one way they have started drifting apart while on the other the threat on their existence have forced them to unite and save their indignity.
- So there needs to be a balance between integrating and divisive impacts of globalization.
General Studies – 2
Topic:Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Both India and UK are one of largest investors in each other countries.
- With the UK coming out of EU fold, Brexit has provided both the countries with great opportunity to enhance their relations.
The brexit will help the bilateral ties as:
- Free Trade Agreements– India has been holding talks with EU regarding this but talks had stalled which will now continue with Britain exiting from EU. Britain will also be free to discuss a bilateral trade pact with India.
- Investment: After Brexit, uncertainty of EU markets and UK’s support for India’s ‘Smart Cities Mission’ will see Britain increase its investment for various schemes like Make in India, Digital India etc.
- Defense and space cooperation: Post Brexit, both countries would try to leverage the defense market of India and space market of UK.
- UNSC Bid: Britain has supported India’s stand and is certain to continue its support.
- Immigration policies– Brexit could lead to changes in UK immigration policies that would favor only the high-skilled workers from India.
- Complex trade policies of India: Especially in auto sector, Britain wants India to liberalize its trade laws.
- After Brexit, UK is seeking more strong and close partners for business and investment ties and also looking for market.
- In this sense, India is big market with huge opportunities to grow.
- But India will not undermine its relations with EU on cost of deeper ties with UK.
- Thus India needs to be cautious and have a balanced approach to ties with UK post Brexit.
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
- The proposed ETCA, which will replace the CEPA has been in discussion for past few months.
- It is designed to take into consideration the drawbacks of past FTA and to establish an agreement in trade in services and technological exchange.
Potential of change that could be brought by ETCA :
- ETCA is likely to strengthen FDI by both private individuals and institutions for both Srilanka and India.
- It would also help Srilanka in paying off its 9000 billion SriLankan rupee debt. Both countries have sought discussions for details so that the domestic producers are not negatively affected.
- It will also provide employment in both countries
- Share Expertise: Both the countries will share expertise in select services like telecommunication, finance, health etc.
- Strategic: The recent pro-China tilt indicated by entry of Chinese submarine to Sri Lankan port can be balanced by improving relations with the strategically important island nation.
- Diplomatic: Better relations may allow Indian government to persuade the Sri Lankan government on the issue of Human Rights violation of Sri Lankan Tamils
Challenges of ETCA :
- Protectionist measures would not result in better trade engagement.
- Sri Lanka` s less offering list of services as compared to India would make ETCA as lopsided and asymmetric.
- Srilanka’s Trade deficit: Certain Sri Lankan opposse this agreement as they believe that ETCA is in favor of India and not Sri Lanka as the nation has a trade deficit in exports.
- Coalition government of Srilanka is unstable and the president there is still dealing with all parties to come on a single stage.
- Fisherman dispute: Though govt. time to time tried to solve it, but no concrete step has been taken.
- Indian Tamil community: they might oppose it on ground of ill treatment to their Tamil counterparts in Srilanka by their Govt.
ECTA is a way forward to enhance the relations and better coordination through High level meetings along with choosing the items for trade selectively that would NOT create undue advantage to either of the two parties would make the relation better.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Prevention of money laundering;
4) “Demonetisation of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes has some benefits, but it cannot stem the flow of unaccounted income to be generated in the future. Also its push to a cashless economy is premature.” Discuss. (200 Words)
Demonetization scheme of the government has been hailed to curb the black money being generated in the short term.
Demonetization will help in the form of:
- The FICN issue will be addressed and will resolve the shadow economy bringing false inflation.
- The terror funding and other allied activities relied on the unaccounted money will stop
- Growing economic disparities due to such unaccounted money will decrease.
- Prices of real Estate will come down.
- Demonetization is a progressive step towards a clean and cashless economy.
But is not a final blow to curb unaccounted income in the long term as:
- Majority of black money in India is hoarded either in real estate, gold, jewelry or in foreign bank accounts.
- The tax violations on evasion can’t be controlled by issuing new series of legal tender
- Corruption will continue even with the new floated currency until stringent regulations, behavioral change and policy check are not brought about.
Reasons for this step to be a major premature push to a cashless economy:
- Many farmers, small vendors, daily wage workers and people in the rural areas are out of the formal banking system.
- With a major percentage of accounts opened under the Jan Dhan account being dormant shows that either the population doesn’t uses these formal systems or is ill equipped to use them.
- Behavioral inertia among the citizens to use electronic payment systems/e wallets/m wallets. Evident from the lukewarm response towards UPI.
- Most of the formal and electronic initiatives being concentrated in the urban areas.
- Government has been taking steps from Jan Dhan, Payment banks, JAM trinity; UPI etc. to improve financial inclusion and take steps towards a cashless economy.
- Steps should be taken that in the future retail transactions or gold transactions are conducted electronically rather than hard cash in order to check unaccounted income.
- It should now focus to effectively implement these schemes to broader areas.
Topic:Conservation; Environmental pollution
5) What are the objectives of the United Nations conference on climate change which is now under way in Marrakech, Morocco? What’s India’s agenda in this Conference? Also discuss challenges the outcome of this conference would face. (200 Words)
Background- The upcoming United Nations conference on climate change (CoP22) at Marrakesh, Morocco will discuss the actions and policies that are required to implement the Paris agreement (CoP21).
Objectives of the confrence:-
- Finance and technology transfer mechanism – Methodologies and process offinance and technology transfer from developed to developing nations would be taken up.
- Review- onWarsaw International mechanism for loss and damage due to climate change and its impact would be taken up.
- Adaptation mechanisms – in the background of climate change would be discussed and grounds for such mechanism would be dealt.
- Ensure CBDR principle – The government would ensurethat principle of equity and CBDR are upheld at the conference, for giving due space and time to developing and least developed countries in adopting the terms and conditions of the agreement.
- Pushing for regional concern- India wants that the conference should come up with clear statement on loss and damage in line withextreme weather conditions, slow onset events, ecological issues in Himalayan regions.
- Adaptation mechanisms dealing with India’s concern – Indian agriculture is dependent upon the monsoonal rainfall and India has long coastline of 7500 kms. In this context, India’s push for adaptation mechanism would be mainly foragricultural sector and coastal areas.
- Insurance mechanism – India wants that , globally funded insurance mechanism which was proposed to help farmers, to tackle the climate change effects should be also discussed.
- Hegemony of developed countries – There is possibility that developed countries like- USA, Japan, etc might cancel the Paris agreement, as it has happened in the past with respect to Kyoto Protocol. Victory of Doland Trump in presidential elections in USA could also affect, as he had vowed to cancel the Paris Agreement. This will also affect the funding, technology transfer and the whole purpose of the agreement would be defeated.
- Ignoring historical emissions– Paris agreement did not talk aboutcarbon budget system which accounts historical emissions by developed countries. Ignoring such vital issue will pose burden on the developing and least developed countries.
- Finance – The $100 billion fund was envisaged under Paris deal, but it is not clear who will contribute how much. Lack of clarity on this matter will delay the adaptation measures for developing and least developed countries.
Way forward – Keeping in mind the SDG goals, Sendai framework for disaster management and in broader terms the negative impact of climate change, the leaders should seal the opportunity to realise the spirit of Paris agreement. India has already played part via NAPCC and ambitious INDC targets. Need is for support through finance, technology and global coordination to save the earth by mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to contain the rise of the global average temperature in the current century to well below 2° Celsius since pre-industrial levels.
Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
6) Many in the government, including some among the security forces and the media, have claimed that recent operation on Naxalites which killed 30 cadres marked the beginning of the end of the Naxalite movement in the country. Do you think so? Critically comment on anti – Naxalite strategy. (200 Words)
Background – Naxalite/Maoist insurgency is an ongoing conflict, operated in the red-corridor regions of India. The movement started as a peasant revolt, but unfortunately transformed into insurgency threating the democracy of India. In this context, recent killing of 30 Maoists in Malkangiri district of Odisha by joint operations of Security forces of AP(greyhounds) and Odisha( Special Operations Group ) has raised a hope among security forces and media that, the Naxal movement has come to an end in the country.
Shift in the strategy: The recent action shows a shift in the strategy of security forces by adopting an attacking rather than a defensive action. Generally, the security forces retaliate to the provocation by Maoists but, it was one of the rare occasion when they were intercepted and an operation was conducted to kill them. This shows success of security forces in tracking the locations of naxalites, which was a very tough task earlier.
Tackling the ideology: But, Naxalism is more of an ideological battle than a military one, as the movement is still seen as ‘the torch-bearer of idea'(Maoism) and has support from the poor, tribals, university and college students and many other sections of the society. Also,it has radiated out to southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and TN from eastern parts of the country.
The naxal stronghold: Naxalism, still has stronghold in certain naxal-belt regions such as Dantewada, Bastar of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, etc as is evident from a series of attacks on police & security forces from time to time. Also, the capacities of naxal forces should not be underestimated as they have their own small arms factories and well-established arm trails to get state-of-the-art weapons from outside India and expertise in IEDs poses a huge challenge. Thus, giving tough fight to our security forces.
The two pronged strategy – force and development: Earlier, India adopted ‘security only’ approach to deal with Naxalism, but under UPA Government shift was made to ‘Security plus’ approach, which includes stern actions by police and security forces through various operations such as ‘Operation Hunt’, ‘Cordon and Search’ and anti LWE polices to avert the groups from the areas, along with government’s effort through various social sector schemes like Integrated Action Plan, social sector hubs, skill development schemes for LWE.
Loopholes in implementation: But the situation has not reversed because there is less coordination among states in the red-corridor region. Also there has been marginal improvement in social sector policies – Integrated Action Plan was brought under planning commission, no follow up action have been taken after it was abolished. Social sector hubs to focus on schools, hospitals, skill improvement, which were envisioned as part of anti-LWE policy did not show much progress. Also, the stationing of Police forces in the affected areas is very less.
Way forward: To deal with Naxal problem, land reforms should benefit the tribal groups. Local participation should be encouraged along with economic empowerment of the local people in the form of job creation balancing the forest rights of tribal groups. Social empowerment in the form of quality education, free insurance cover, vocational skill training should be done. Though the movement has transformed its original form to destabilizing operation, if central and state governments eliminate the root problems (mainly land and development issue), its radiating nature could be averted.
Topic: Resource mobilization
Nearly 54.5 % of population is engaged in agriculture. Section 10 of the Income Tax Act does not include agricultural income and also no states impose tax on farmers in India. Given the dependence of large proportion of population on agriculture for livelihood and also the falling farmer incomes due to climate extremities, taxing farmers has become an emotive subject
Positive implications of bringing farmers under tax net:
- Access to formal credit: at present, farmers maintain no records about their revenue. This has made it difficult to assess the creditworthiness of farmers by the banks, due to which banks are reluctant to lend loans to farmers for fear of NPAs. Bringing them under tax net will mean they maintain authentic records of their farm incomes which can be assessed by banks to disburse loans. This reduces farmer’s dependence on informal moneylenders who often charge exorbitant interest rates
- Tackling black money: as farm income is exempt from taxation, many farmers are showing their non-farm incomes as farm incomes to avoid taxation. This leads to generation of black money. Recently, government has decided to scrutinize cash deposits of farmers and cross check if this is in line with their land holdings and the corresponding yields. If there is huge discrepancy, the additional income is taxed.
- Augmenting revenue: taxing rich farmers will not be regressive. Also, government will get additional revenue which can be used for welfare expenditure or capital formation.
- Exacerbates farmer distress: at a time when crop failures have become the norm and farmer income falling, taxing farm income will go against government’s aim to double farmers’ income by 2022. distress may lead to more suicides among farmers.
- Selective credit disbursal: now that banks can assess the creditworthiness of farmers by their tax return, banks may resort to favouring rich farmers for providing credit. This deprives small and marginal farmers of formal credit access.
- Anxiety: as farmers have never filed formal tax returns before, it may give rise to anxiety among them. Also, as they are unaware of the procedure of filing tax returns, they may be harassed by intermediaries or even government officials.
- States’ opposition: agriculture being a state subject, states may oppose taxing agriculture incomes fearing displeasing the electorate.
- Administrative costs: even when farm income is taxed, the revenue generated may not be very high given that farm income levels are low. The cost of collecting tax may be higher than the amount realised from the collection
- Suppress rural demand: as farmers will have less disposable income after meeting tax payments.
- Loss of livelihood: many farmers may abandon cultivation and search for informal sector jobs as they feel taxation as a burden and drain on their income.
Thus, considering the negative implications, instead of taxing agriculture income, only the non-farm income can be taxed. The money generated can be channelled into a fund which is utilised for improving productivity of agriculture and thereby ensuring doubling of farmer income.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Moral philospohers and thinkers
Every action has consequences. A truth told with bad intention will result in a bad consequence. One can lie many times yet mean no harm. People lie to escape from punishment, or from guilt (a thief lying to court after stealing money). Virtuous people tell the truth, no matter what the consequences are, to punish the guilty.
However, a person who lacks virtues might tell the truth to bring harm to someone. If his/her intent is to bring harm to an innocent person, this action is unethical. It is unethical because the person who tells truth appears as virtuous person to the outside world, but he/she is filled with malice inside. Telling truth to harm someone is rare and involves premeditation, which shows that the person lacks empathy and integrity. A staff in defence ministry who passes on secret information to enemy country to either get money or to inflict harm on his mother country, is grossly unfair and unjust. At personal level, a person from a political family might want to get his brother jailed by telling truth about his smuggling activities to the police so that he could win ticket to contest elections.
A government can also tell the public a truth with bad intent. For example, a government (dictatorship) might tell the public that it wants to pass a law which would punish (by death) all corrupt people. It involves the truth that it wants to punish the corrupt, but might have an intention to eliminate all opposition leaders so that it could stay in power forever. Though rare, history is replete with such truths told with bad intentions.
If intent behind telling truth is to bring harm to a mass murderer or to a rapist, it can not be termed as unethical. Here more than intention, the truth matters as it aids the law to find culprit and punish them irrespective of who’s telling the truth with whatever intentions. Ultimate consequence of this action would be delivery of justice to victims.
On the other side, telling series of lies might not result in bad consequences as in above cases. As said in the introduction, lies are mostly told to escape from unpleasant situations. Some lies might result harm to others, but a premeditated truth told to harm others is outrightly unethical as illustrated above.