SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 January 2017
NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
General Studies – 1;
1) What impact do you think the Supreme Court verdict on the section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, will have on Indian politics? Also examine significance of this judgement to secularism. (200 Words)
SC upheld in a recent verdict that as per section 123 (3) of RPA seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community and language is a corrupt practice and extends to the electorate as well who vote on the basis of community/religion. India where elections are being increasingly polarized and vote bank politics becoming a salience, this judgement may have a huge impact on Indian politics:
- Judgement strives to make socio-economic development as the main agenda of elections as against garnering votes in the name of religion, caste, community etc. which will eventually help in raising social parameters such as education, health, women empowerment, equality for vulnerable sections etc.
- Judgement seeks to promote peace and harmony between people who were earlier being divided on communal lines by vested interests.
- The judgment is one more step in cleansing the Indian politics which has marred by caste and religious overtones.
- Judgement gives teeth to the Election Commission by empowering it to disqualify candidature as recommended by the 2nd ARC, and could lead to fair elections.
At the same time the dissenting judges have warned that as religion and caste have been integral part of Indian culture and politics, there could not be blanket ban on it in elections. Thus the negative implications of such ban could be-
- Social mobilization as an instrument to bring marginalized sections into mainstream may be hampered as they may not find a platform to assert their upliftment.
- The judgement may undermine the rights of marginalized and minority sections of the population.
- The judgement may hamper the efforts towards ending the caste and religion based discrimination as such a blanket ban would prevent candidates from raising issues related to religion, etc.
- In an Indian context, there are socioeconomic issues specific to particular communities. For example, will campaigning for Dalit empowerment count as caste-based canvassing? such questions are unanswered through this judgement.
Significance of this judgement to secularism-
- It upholds the basic structure of constitution which is secular in nature.
Judgement asserts that the state and religion has to be kept separate as religion is a person’s private affair.
- It gives a wider interpretation to the phrase Free Speech restricting it from promoting enmity between religious groups and caste communities.
- Judgement will encourage secular out look of society in politics.
Although there are mixed view about the judgement, the intention behind the it is indeed noble and in the direction of strengthening secular fabric of the nation.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
2) Critically examine India’s Tibet policy. In the light of Chinese assertion in the region, do you think India should be more aggressive and try to leverage its position in Tibet by being more assertive? Comment. (200 Words)
Tibet presents a most contentious foreign policy challenge to the Indian postcolonial state. Over and above the dilemma between standing for self-determination and upholding the norm of non-interference, Tibet additionally complicates India’s challenges by being locked into India’s own territorial dispute with China. The involvement of Tibet in India’s border dispute with China and its implications for India’s territorial sovereignty, military and ecological security and nuclear preparedness cannot be overlooked in any assessment of India-Tibet relations
India’s Tibet policy-
India respected the authority of China on Tibet when Tibet was captured by China without taking India into confidence. Rather it recognized Tibet as a part of China with an aim to establish strong relationship with China. This could not materialize as China was angered by India’s move to give refuge to Dalai Lama and his followers. India went on to form the policy of “Pancha Sheel-which was to serve as bedrock of India and China relationship. India maintained its stance over Tibet issue thereafter.
However some of the recent actions of India such as permitting Tibetan exiles to stage protests during Chinese President Xi’s visit to India, permitting the Dalai Lama to participate in “spiritual” activities and movements within India have been strongly opposed by china since it views as interference in its “Core interests.
Should India be more assertive in Tibetian Issue?
Notwithstanding the divided opinion, there is overwhelming counsel from the strategic community in India to make Tibet a central plank of the Sino-Indian border negotiations, as well as of the overall relationship. While such counsel merits attention in itself, it fails to take into account the ways in which and the extent to which Tibet remains implicated in India’s own foreign policy image and practice.
While India has been honest to its commitment for respecting China’s sovereignty and to the principle of non-interference, China seems to have deviated from its promise. China is going ahead with its projected China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, despite India’s strong protest that CPEC violates its territorial integrity. Also China has been instrumental in empowering Pakistan militarily and economically as a counter-balance to India. China has been vocal in protesting any activity of Tibetian spiritual leader Dalai Lama despite the India’s assurance that it would not allow Dalai Lama to undertake political activities. Thus Indian government is looming its chances whether to make Tibet as a central plank to deal with Chinese aggression.
This was evident when present Indian government paid no heeds to the protest lodged by China on Dalai Lama’s visit in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Similarly Indian government is allowing Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang region in April. India will have to use Tibetian plank if China does not respects Indian territorial sovereignty and continues to interfere in its internal affairs. Future moves of the Indian government would clarify if India is open to leverage the Tibetian issue against increasing Chinese proximity with Pakistan.
Topic :Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
3) “India’s Act East policy will gain traction only if there is a committed road map for withdrawing AFSPA.” Critically comment. (200 Words)
North-East part of India forms the core chunk of the Act East policy as it is the only region in direct contact with the South-East Asian nations (through Myanmar). Prosperity, peace and stability would most important factors in making North-East to play important role in Act East policy. However the North-East region in India is beset with the problems like lack of connectivity, absence of required infrastructure, political instability and most important presence of insurgents and separatist groups.
To fight with the insurgencies and separatist groups government passes AFSPA in September, 1958 to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam. In the following decades it spread, one by one, to the other Seven Sister States in India’s northeast. However instead of bringing peace and stability the act has brought unrest and turbulence in the North-Eastern region.
Withdrawing AFSPA would give impetus to development and thereby traction to Act East policy due to following reasons-
- The act has hampered the progress and development of the region.
- Economic integration of North East can only take place if it is demilitarized and roads are open for trade and commerce like tourism.
- Infrastructure development and road connectivity with South East Asia is not being developed due to high controls of AFSPA
- Social tensions exist between tribes like Nagas, Kukis and Meiteis and locals with the government over AFSPA.
- International outlook, credit rating & ease of doing business would depend on the freedom of people.
- The act is proving as deterrent to investment in the region from the mainland India and also from abroad.
- The withdrawal of the act would give liberty to the local people to participate in the process of development.
Even though the region is far from peace and tranquility, and security of the region takes foremost priority, it does not give explanation for the continuation of the draconian laws like AFSPA. Union government has failed to create confidence and trust between different communities in the region. Further vested political interests have hampered the peace process. It has also obstructed the overall development of region.
For the success of Act East policy, the existing conditions in N-E region have to be changed. The regions still awaits the true integration with the mainland. The Act East policy can play important role in mainstreaming the region with the rest of the India.
The development of NE and its key role in Act East policy would open the vast ocean of opportunities for the local as well as other people of India. The lacuna of the Look East policy would be removed and region would become the success story for the rest of the world.
Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act
4) Critically discuss views expressed by judges of the Supreme Court in their interpretation of the Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act. Also examine significance of this judgement for citizens and democracy. (200 Words)
Introduction:- The Section 123 (3A) says: “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.]
The judgment:- The Supreme Court on January 2 ruled that politicians cannot seek votes on the grounds of caste, creed or religion. The judgment came after the court revisited earlier judgments, including the one in 1995 that equated Hindutva with Hinduism and called it a “way of life.”
The Court verdict essentially dealt with the question whether a religious leader’s appeal to his followers to vote for a particular political party would amount to electoral malpractice under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act.
The seven judges hearing the case split four to three, revealing the complexity of the issues involved, as well as an inevitable collision of constitutional values. And it all began with a disagreement over a single word: “his”.
The question before the Supreme Court was deceptively simple: did the underlined word “his” qualify only the electoral candidate (and his agent, or persons speaking with his consent)? Or did it also qualify the person to whom the appeal was addressed (the elector)?
But this is a poor judgment in four ways.
- There is the methodological problem. The Court has devoted more pages to explicating purposive interpretation than clarifying the substantive issues.
- Ironically, both the majority and dissenting judgment use purposive interpretation to come to opposite conclusions. This should lend credence to the suspicion that method has, to borrow Stone’s phrase, also become a class of “illusory references”.
- Purposive interpretation, needs to not just look at legislative history, but the case law. How does the law operate in practice? What are the effects of particular words?
- The judgment goes into interpretative philosophy more than the case law of election cases.
NEED FOR EXTENDING SCOPE OF 123(3)
- To curb communal and separatist tendencies in the country
- Allowing candidate to take advantage of voters religious identity for political gains leads to demeaning of the voter and is against public interest
AGAINST (MINORITY VIEW)-
- Religion, caste, language etc are symbols of social discrimination imposed on large segments of society – so discussion on these lines cannot be barred in election
- Many features of constitution are based on these lines to promote a just social order, and social mobilization is key feature of electoral politics in democratic society
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS JUDGEMENT
- Leaders may not be able highlight the discrimination faced by marginalized electorates on caste-based lines
- Inculcating of brotherhood and broader outlook in the society -> progressive and peaceful society
- Increase focus on developmental works done by candidates – focus on merit rather than caste-based politics, would make election process clean.
- Promote secularism in country through ‘universal citizenship’ and supplement other measures like promotion of inter-caste marriage
- Broad interpretation of section however, would produce more uncertainty. It may outlaw parties like the Akali dal whose very name violates the new interpretation, and such restrictions may violate free speech (art.19)
- Further blur distinction between ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’ appeals as done in Hindutva judgement portrayed it as a way of life and not religious appeal (justice Verma), construction of ram temple as historic claim rather than religious one
- Forms case of judicial activism and overreach, as it constitutes to amendment in act passed by executive (rpa,1951)
The effectively of such wider interpretation would get examined in near future. The measure however embodies well with concept of “Positive Secularism” (Sarvo Dharma Samabhav) which comprises our core democratic principles. However, new interpretation does leave scope for more subjectivity, which may cause more harm than good.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – growth and development
5) What do you understand by marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR)? Recently many banks including SBI reduced MCLR. Examine the reasons for and benefits of this move. (200 Words)
Introduction:- The marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) refers to the minimum interest rate of a bank below which it cannot lend, except in some cases allowed by the RBI. It is an internal benchmark or reference rate for the bank. MCLR actually describes the method by which the minimum interest rate for loans is determined by a bank – on the basis of marginal cost or the additional or incremental cost of arranging one more rupee to the prospective borrower.
The MCLR methodology for fixing interest rates for advances was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India with effect from April 1, 2016. This new methodology replaces the base rate system introduced in July 2010. In other words, all rupee loans sanctioned and credit limits renewed w.e.f. April 1, 2016 would be priced with reference to the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) which will be the internal benchmark (means a reference rate determined internally by the bank) for such purposes.
Existing loans and credit limits linked to the Base Rate (internal benchmark rate used to determine interest rates uptill 31 March 2016) or Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR or the internal benchmark rate used to determine the interest rates on advances/loans sanctioned upto June 30, 2010.) would continue till repayment or renewal, as the case may be. However, existing borrowers will have the option to move to the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) linked loan at mutually acceptable terms.
Reasons for introducing MCLR
RBI decided to shift from base rate to MCLR because the rates based on marginal cost of funds are more sensitive to changes in the policy rates. This is very essential for the effective implementation of monetary policy. Prior to MCLR system, different banks were following different methodology for calculation of base rate /minimum rate – that is either on the basis of average cost of funds or marginal cost of funds or blended cost of funds. Thus, MCLR aims
- To improve the transmission of policy rates into the lending rates of banks.
- To bring transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances.
- To ensure availability of bank credit at interest rates which are fair to borrowers as well as banks.
- To enable banks to become more competitive and enhance their long run value and contribution to economic growth.
6) It is said that the new real estate bill would seek to eliminate the current norm of selling homes at a preliminary stage and introduce only build-and-sell model for their residential projects. Discuss the implications of this move on various stakeholders. (200 Words)
Introduction:- real estate regulation act of 2016 (RERA), stipulates that housing project can start only after obtaining the mandatory approvals, making it a lengthy process. this have led to shift in strategy from real estate developers from recent norm of selling homes at pre-launch stage to ‘build-and-sell’ model.
Implication of this move on various stakeholders
- Less market sense :- elimination of pre-launch stage won’t allow developers to get a market sense of pricing, demand and choice preference
- Increased financial burden :-earlier 30-40% of costs were covered by buyers at greenfield stage, but now developers would be required to arrange entire amount and recover amount at brownfield stage
- Slowdown in real-estate :- decrease in size and amount of projects due to high initial investment, and wait-and-watch attitude of customers due to no clarity in regulatory process
- Small developers cornered :-difficult for him to arrange funds of such magnitude and induce ‘stress-sales’ even in unfavorable market conditions, and may increase monopoly of big builders
- Preferred choice :-sales of ready-to-move projects have increased substantially as customers are inclined towards buying completed projects due to growing uncertainty in the real estate market
- Higher price :- prices at pre-launch stages are generally cheaper to create a buzz about the project, while now it will increase due to ‘completion premium’
- Lower waiting time :-most projects booked earlier often surpassed their deadlines and routing of money to other projects, causing increasing hardships to customers
Intermediaries:-financing and regulating authorities
- Lead to greater size of loans (at both stages), and may increase npa from the sector, as in case of low price realization at completion stage small developers may not be able to repay the loan
- On other side, it may improve income of banks owing to interests accrued on higher principle
- Difficulty to ensure compliance by builders especially in smaller cities/towns
- Would need to fast-track approval process to prevent sluggishness in the market, and attract FDI
- Way increase corruption due to increased discretion
Recently owing to demonetization, improved casa ratio of banks has increased their capacity to provide higher credit and thus boost the activity in the sector. in a way, RERA, 2016 is a good move forward to protect consumer’s interest and make developers accountable. However, such measures must be supplemented through faster clearances by authority.