SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 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;
For the first time in the history of Haryana, the sex ratio in the state has touched the 900 mark. It is the fleet of achievement in history of a state which is known for its notorious sex ratio.
FACTORS THAT HELPED:-
- It launched a massive campaign in the state by implementing Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 and Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 and running sensitisation-cum awareness campaigns promoting girl child.
- The government scheme ofBeti Bacho, Beti Padhao Sukanya Samridhi, Aapki Beti Humari Beti were launched in Haryana keeping in mind the Sex ratio at birth of the state. This helped the state improve its ratio to a great extent.
- Diversified strategy:Cooperation from all the districts of the state, their respective departments along with strong political will helped achieve this goal. The entire process was constantly kept in check with CMO involved.
- Health interventions- in terms of better antenatal and postnatal care facilities like through institutional deliveries, mission Indradhanush for vaccination, antenatal checkups to reduce IMR MMR
- Social mediaplayed an important role in this process. Awareness through social media platform was being spread. Initiatives like ‘Selfie with my daughter’ added up to the mass awareness.
- Public awareness:Street plays, rallies in Urban and Rural areas are conducted. Female celebrities of Haryana like Sakshi Malik, Phogat sisters promoted to make the parents understand that girls were no way lesser than boys.
The achievements of Haryana government are laudable. However these efforts need to be sustained over a long period of time and must be replicated in neighboring states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and even at national level .
General Studies – 2
Topic : Powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
2) Currently, all opposition political parties have demanded that the Union budget, scheduled for February 1, 2017, should be postponed till polling ends on March 8. Do you think Union budget just before assembly polls, violates model code of conduct? What’s the view of Election Commission and Supreme Court on the issue of pre-poll promises by governments? Critically examine. (200 Words)
Introduction:- Election Commission of India’s Model Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct. These set of norms has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code in its letter and spirit.The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission for the need of ensuring free and fair elections.
The main points of the code are:
- Government bodies are not to participate in any recruitment process during the electoral process.
- The contesting candidates and their campaigners must respect the home life of their rivals and should not disturb them by holding road shows or demonstrations in front of their houses. The code tells the candidates to keep it.
- The election campaign rallies and road shows must not hinder the road traffic.
- Candidates are asked to refrain from distributing liquor to voters. It is a widely known fact in India that during election campaigning, liquor may be distributed to the voters.
- The election code in force hinders the government or ruling party leaders from launching new welfare programmes like construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc. or any ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
- The code instructs that public spaces like meeting grounds, helipads, government guest houses and bungalows should be equally shared among the contesting candidates. These public spaces should not be monopolised by a few candidates.
DOES BUDGET PREPONDMENT VIOLATE MCC??
- POPULIST BUDGET:-The ruling party now aware of the polling dates, may include more populist policies to appease electorates in these states either directly/indirectly
Past example are UPA Govt. has delayed the budget by a fortnight in 2012, when faced with similar circumstances
- SIGNIFICANT POPULATION~13% of population would go for vote in upcoming months
- RIGHT OF EXECUTIVE :-Union budget is an annual exercise and right and power of the Union government to present the details of its expenditure and income (A.112) coupled with Section 123 (2)(b) of Representation of Peoples Act,1951 it states that such practice would not amount to interference if intent of the Govt. is clear
- EXCEPTION ONLY IN CASE OF LS ELECTION:-As per former CEC’s, Union Budget would have to be cut to a Vote-on-Account only if this was a Lok Sabha election, but this scenario does not recommend any changes to budget procedure
- WHOLE COUNTRY VS STATES :-Budget is for whole country and every year some or other states would go for polling, and budget cannot be deferred for that
- CONDITIONAL VIOLATION :-MCC is only applied on Central Govt. in terms of announcements in these states, and not in their overall working schedule
EC surrendered its right to intervene in such cases in 2001
Harbans Singh Jalal v/s Union of India and others, 2001
In the above case, the EC surrendered the right to intervene before a poll was actually “announced”, even if it was imminent, even when satisfied that such announcements were for expected electoral gain.Earlier, the EC asserted this right any time before an imminent poll, not necessarily after the poll announcement.
It observed wide gaps in exercise of power of EC, and advised both Govt. and EC to frame clear guidelines regarding the demarcation of powers to decrease subjectivity (Subramaniam Balaji v/s State of TN. 2013)
Model Code of Conduct has no mention of Union Budget so EC should come forward with specific guidelines or recent proposal of half the state election at a time along with Union government since states are very high considering voting population and one elected it might the change the future of the state for the 5 years in a row.
Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
3) Examine the significance of the landmark judgment of NALSA v. Union of India delivered by the Supreme Court. Also critically examine whether a recent legislation related to this landmark case does justice to the judgement delivered in this case. (200 Words)
Introduction:- National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India is a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India, which declared transgender people to be a ‘third gender‘, affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India will be equally applicable to transgender people, and gave them the right to self-identification of their gender as male, female or third-gender.This judgement is a major step towards gender equality in India.
The Court has directed Centre and State Governments to grant legal recognition of gender identity whether it be male, female or third-gender:
- Legal Recognition for Third Gender : In recognizing the third gender category, the Court recognizes that fundamental rights are available to the third gender in the same manner as they are to males and females. Further, non-recognition of third gender in both criminal and civil statutes such as those relating to marriage, adoption, divorce, etc. is discriminatory to the third gender.
- Legal Recognition for Persons transitioning within male/female binary : As for how the actual procedure of recognition will happen, the Court merely states that they prefer to follow the psyche of the person and use the “Psychological Test” as opposed to the “Biological Test”. They also declare that insisting on Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) as a condition for changing one’s gender is illegal.
- Public Health and Sanitation : Centre and State Governments have been directed to take proper measures to provide medical care to Transgender people in the hospitals and also provide them separate public toilets and other facilities. Further, they have been directed to operate separate HIV/Sero-surveillance measures for transgender people.
- Socio-Economic Rights : Centre and State Governments have been asked to provide the community various social welfare schemes and to treat the community as socially and economically backward classes. They have also been asked to extend reservation in educational institutions and for public appointments.
- Stigma and Public Awareness : These are the broadest directions – Centre and State Governments are asked to take steps to create public awareness so that Transgender people will feel that they are also part and parcel of the social life and not be treated as untouchables; take measures to regain their respect and place in society; and seriously address the problems such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies and social stigma.
- The Court notes that these declarations are to be read in light of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Expert Committee Report on Issues Relating to transgender people
The Transgender bill 2016 runs contrary to the above judgement as:-
- To start with, the 2016 Bill in many ways falls short in its substantive content. Clause 2(i) of the Bill, which defines the term ‘transgender person’, has been inexplicably borrowed from a provision of the Australian Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013, which defines the term ‘intersex’. This, even though the Expert Committee Report clearly explained the difference between transgender and intersex identities.
- Another problem is the absence of a provision on reservation, running contrary to the NALSA judgment and the 2014 and 2015 Bills which directed reservations for transgender persons.
- While the NALSA judgment is couched in rights language, locating the fundamental rights of transgender persons in the golden trinity of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, the 2016 Bill, though it uses the word “rights” in its title, deviates from a rights-based approach and leaves transgender persons at the mercy of the “benevolent” state.
- Further, the Bill is completely silent on how its content will impact the operation of existing laws. Most laws, including of marriage, adoption and succession, continue to be based on the binary of male and female. Criminal laws, especially those dealing with sexual offences, also continue to be gendered.
- Jurisdictions like the U.K., Ireland, Argentina and Malta, which have legislated on transgender rights, clarify in their laws the impact gender change will have on existing legal institutions that are inaccessible to persons with non-conforming genders. The NALSA judgment too recognises the need for making civil rights accessible to transgender persons. However, the Bill fails to take this into account.
- The bill makes it mandatory for the transgender to get certificate from the district magistrate to certify the identity of transgender person.This is a gross violation of human rights
- The bill attempts to to dismantle the age old tradition of begging the eunuchs engage in, without determining other feasible options.
- The bill does not address the issue of section 377 that is used to harass the transgender people.
The 2016 Bill is the product of an uninterested and insincere attempt at lawmaking. India is within touching distance of enabling the legal empowerment of a hitherto marginalised community and it would be a shame if it squandered the opportunity by passing a bad law. Hence the need of the hour is to make the bill more comprehensive and on the lines of the NALSA judgment.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and his allies on one side and various forces opposing him. The unrest in Syria, part of a wider wave of 2011 Arab Spring protests, grew out of discontent with the Assad’s government and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for his removal were violently suppressed.The war is being fought by several factions: the Syrian government and its allies, a loose alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Salafi jihadist groups (including al-Nusra Front) who cooperate with the Sunni rebel groups, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Currently there are three major faction:- Assad supporter; anti-Assad/free Syrian army/rebels and terrorist group ISIL/Al Nusra.
Due to the lack of conformity between weatern powers and UNSCs’ permanent member, the situation getting worse with time.
Role of western powers:-
- It favoured “assad must go” temperament, and thus supporting opposition group containing rebels, supplying them military and weaponary power to fight against it.
- Via USAID provide monetory assistance.
- It believes in the peace by including Syrian government that is Assad regime [china supporting fully].
- Moscow backs an international “contact group” to handle Syria – bringing in Iran and Saudi Arabia but excluding the UK and France. The UN also likes this idea.
- It want to go with US, but during Camroon era house of commons rejected the support for war strike at Syrian regime. Though against ISIL but favored “moderate” rebel groups.
- It contained mix perception:- where France totally against the regime, Angela Markel of Germany supported Assad’s inclusion before deciding upon future of Syria.
Main point is that, every power either western or regional all are against ISIL.
Role of UN:-
- Annan 6 point peace plan [ United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria]:- to allow freedom of press/freedom of movement/ceasefire of armed violation/release of arbitrary detained persons/allowed humanitarian assistance etc, but it lived for very short period, though first Assad accepted it earlier.
- UNHRC:- after 2013 chemical weapon strike on Syria, it condemned such inherently indiscriminate, inhuman and immoral strike [also against Hague convention’1899/ Geneva protocl’25], bring out dubious state of Syria in front of world.
- UNICEF:- vaccination/clothing/care products to conflicted region.
- Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the global commitment adopted at the 2005 United Nations (UN) World Summit, central to respond to mass atrocity crimes [of international level], seemed failed here in Syria to due its void attempts to bring ceasefire.
- Western powers interfered in Syria to promote their respective interests and not democratic rights of Syrians.
- Earlier revolution like Tunisian were successful as they involved non-violent mass participation rather than extremists groups armed by western powers.
- Many west backed extremists later developed into terrorist organizations like IS and Nusara Front which are now spreading global terrorism.
- American stand of no solution without departure of Assad government ignoring ground realities which were different from Libya and Egypt.
- No military action of ground by western troops prolonged the violent conflict as Syrian extremists not strong enough to defeat Syrian army.
- Failure of UN to build a consensus among US and Russia on possible solution
Common Syrians have become pawn in the strategic game being played between different powers in Syria. It is critical that Russia and US should work together under UN umbrella along with other stakeholders to formulate a solution considering ground realities, welfare of Syrians and refugees across Europe.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
According to the latest (2010-11) landholding census by the Ministry of Agriculture, 67.1% of all landholdings are marginal — smaller than 1 hectare — while 17.9% are small (1-2 hectares). Medium (2-10 hectares) and large (over 10 hectares) holdings are 14.3% and 0.7% of the total respectively.
Statistic released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015-
- More than 72% of farmers who commit suicide have less than two hectares of land.
- Less than 2% of farmers who committed suicide were large farmers with more than 10 hectares of land.
- Medium farmers, who have between 2 hectares and 10 hectares of land, contributed a fourth of the 8,007 farmer suicides in the country in 2015.
- According to the NCRB data, small farmers were 45.2% of all farmer victims, while marginal farmers made up 27.4%.
- Out of 2,195 suicides committed by “Marginal Farmers”, 834 were reported in Maharashtra and 354 in Chhattisgarh, accounting for 38% and 16% of the total.
- Among suicides committed by “Small Farmers” — the largest group among victims of farmer suicides — Maharashtra (1,285 out of 3,618) again topped with a 35.5% share, followed by Karnataka (751 out of 3,618) which accounted for 20% of such suicides.
- A total of 160 “Large Farmers” committed suicides in 2015. Telangana, with 79 such suicides, accounted for almost half the numbers. Chhattisgarh was a distant second with 37 suicides by large farmers.
- Among the states, the data showed, Maharashtra (3,030), Telangana (1,358), Karnataka (1,197), Chhattisgarh (854) and Madhya Pradesh (516) led the table. Karnataka saw a more than three-fold rise in farmer suicides in 2015, as compared to 2014 when around 300 farmers ended their lives.
Causes of the farmers’ suicide in the light of NCRB data-
- Data shows that 80 per cent of farmers killed themselves in 2015 because of bankruptcy or debts after taking loans from banks and registered microfinance institutions. According to National Crime Records Bureau’s latest farmer-suicides data, of the over 3,000 farmers who committed suicides across the country in 2015 due to debt and bankruptcy, 2,474 had taken loans from banks or microfinance institutions.
- According to the NCRB data, “bankruptcy and indebtedness” witnessed the sharpest spike in 2015, registering an almost three-fold increase (3,097) as compared to 2014 (1,163).
- The reason behind more deaths due to formal credit institution and less due to private money lenders could be according to Abhijeet Sen, former member of Planning Commission that moneylenders were more flexible compared to banks and microfinance institutions. “The organized sector is less flexible because rules don’t permit them flexibility. The microfinance sector is worse. They put pressure by telling others in self-help groups that their share would be cut if one person does not pay loans in time. This creates social pressure, as well. Many also send goons to the neighborhood to scare borrowers.
- Other reasons are-
10 per cent farmers had committed suicide due to debts caused by loans taken from both banks and moneylenders — the share of loans from moneylenders under this section was 9.8 per cent.
Crop failure and other farm related issues are also another reason for the spike in farmers’ suicides.
Unpredictable weather, irregular rains thereby leading to droughts have been increasing the distress for farmers in arid and semi-arid regions of the country.
NCRB data highlights very important trend that formal finance systems are too increasingly responsible for causing deaths to farmers. In this scenario it is very important to analyze practices of money recovery by formal institutions. If formal finance institutions are proving to be main reason for suicides then farmers have nowhere to go.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – growth & development; Prevention of money laundering
On November 8, Indian Prime Minister announced ambitious demonetization policy initiative to attack the scourges of corruption, black money and fake currency. Although the motive behind the policy was noble and well understood, there is skepticism over its implementation methods and outcome.
In terms of effectiveness in fighting the menace of black money, counterfeit currency and corruption-
- The move undoubtedly led to uselessness of existing counterfeit notes but this move does not guarantee the future creation of counterfeit currency.
- Though there are evidences of presence of huge quantity of black money in Indian economy, the effectiveness of move to eradicate the black money is questioned. First the majority of black money is in the form of real estates and bullions and its proportion in terms of cash is negligible. Second almost 90% of the demonetized notes had come back to banks by the 1st week of January. This implies that hoarders of black money had found the way to make it to the banks without much difficulty. Further there is no effect on the black money stored in the foreign banks.
- Similarly the move is expected to reduce the corruption but there still no visible gains on this side.
Effectiveness in terms of producing cashless economy-
- Around 98% of the transactions in India take place through the cash. To move all these transactions to digital ones is herculean task.
- The required digital infrastructure in terms of smart phones, internet penetration and digital means is not present in India and particularly in rural areas to move all cash transactions to digital side. In fact the informal economy got badly hit by the demonetization move. The manufacturing and automobile sectors are said to shrink in terms of production and sale.
- Further except from appeals from the leaders, there were no concrete efforts to raise digital literacy which plays an important role in making cashless economy.
- Government is yet to set up strong cyber infrastructure to protect the digital spaces of the citizens.
How efficiently has this been implemented?
- People had to bear many hardships in queuing up hours in front of banks for exchanging and depositing their cash. Government did not have sufficient channels to compete this task considering huge population of India.
- The government did not gauge proportion of the problem of remonetization. Thus it could bring sufficient amount of cash in quick time which dearly hampered the informal economy. Most of the ATMs stood empty due to problem of recalibration.
- Also there were many incidences where bank officials engaged in laundering the cash of black money hoarders. Such behavior of government employees made travesty of common people queuing up in line for hours.
Although well intention behind the demonetization move is generally accepted, the time of the move when digital infrastructure is inadequately present and ill- preparedness of the government is certainly questionable. This has largely affected the effectiveness and efficiency of the whole exercise.
Topic: Resource mobilization
7) What is merchant discount rate (MDR)? Recently petroleum retailers to threatened to stop accepting credit and debit card payments as a protest against the decision by certain banks to levy the merchant discount rate (MDR) of up to one per cent on card payments. Examine why petroleum retailers are worried. Also comment what this issue means to India’s push towards cashless economy. (200 Words)
Merchant Discount Rate (MDR)-
Merchant Discount Rate’ (MDR) is the fee that merchants pay every time a card is used. Each time a card is swiped, a certain percentage of the amount paid goes as charges to the company that has installed the card machine, the network provider such as Visa and MasterCard, and the issuing bank, with the average charge being 1% per transaction.
‘Why petroleum retailers are worried?
- The discount of 0.75% and waiver on MDR announced by government has ended on 31st December leading to impasse between banks and petroleum dealers.
- Banks are charging MDR from petroleum dealers which are living on thin profit margin and thus in no way capable to pay MDR.
- The face-off between Petroleum dealers and Banks may actually hurt consumers. This may indirectly affect the petroleum dealers too.
MDR and India’s push towards cashless economy-
- Petroleum outlets are particularly important for making cash-less economy as they handle nearly Rs. 2 lakh crore of cash a year. Thus if issues of MDR is not solved amicably, it would hamper the efforts of making India a less cash economy.
- To provide digital infrastructure and services, banks invests huge capital. Banks are well within their limit to ask for transactions fees. In the absence of this it would also raise question as to who will pay banks cashless charges, if oil marketing companies and petroleum dealers would be exempted from it.
- This might lead to crisis of confidence in the potential of cashless economy. It might lead to more spats of similar kind in near future as government has asked railways, public sector insurers etc to offer discount or charge lower rates.
- There is need to rationalize the MDR charges.
- Responsibility should be fixed as who would pay MDR charges taking into account concerns of the all stakeholders.
- Central Government along with state governments can create a Digital Transaction Fund which can pay banks costs of using cashless methods for short period. This will relieve merchants from losses they are bearing. Later on, when due to governmental initiatives like Digital India, BHIM App, cashless payments increase, rationalized MDR can again be levied as they would then be profitable in long run.