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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 February 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 04 February 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;


Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies

1) With Indian cities and towns already struggling, the management of rapid urban expansion will remain one of the most important challenges over the next decade. What’s the solution to meet these challenges? Discuss. (200 Words)

Livemint

In the light of recent urban renewal and retrofitting program by GOI such as smart city mission it becomes very important to understand the inherent problems linked with urbanization process in India. According to a survey by UN State of the World Population report in 2007, by 2030, 40.76% of country’s population is expected to reside in urban areas. This highlights the upcoming challenges in urban development for management purpose.

  • Planning- The new challenge today is management of rural urban fringe as the expansion of urban fringes is taking place at rapid place. There is need of immediate long term planning for sustainable development of areas in fringes.
  • Transport and communication- The future challenge will be linked with the urban transport facilities. Roads are congested, rail and metro network is inadequate resulting into movement within the city being slow and tiring.
  • Housing- It has been already observed now the cost of living is too high in metropolitan areas. Crumbling infrastructure in public services has to be managed on far footings.
  • Migration- Migration will continue as urban areas act as a center of economic growth. Problem of slums is about to increase and thus leading to health challenges for public health system.
  • Solid waste management- In case of waste management issue, nuclear, cyber and plastic waste will create a big challenge for clean and pollution free urban environment.
  • Poverty- Urban poverty has a very peculiar character. Street vendors and people in other informal sector, women, children and old age population will suffer most from the deteriorating urban ecology.
  • Environmental challenges: growth in man-made and natural disasters is another challenge because of unplanned cities. Urban island effects have already been observed in urban setup.
    Ex: Chennai flood in 2015
  • Service delivery- Urban local government will have to do a gigantic task of timely service delivery as there is paradigm shift in public administration towards new public management.

Solutions:

  • The first and foremost importance has to be given to the providing human face to urban development. Playgrounds, green belts, open spaces, footpaths, public gardens have to be deliberately created in order to create an environment of sustainability.
  • Digital India program and Information technology solutions must be made available at affordable cost to all segments of society. Bridging the existing digital divide is priority for true democratic setup of urban areas. Harnessing the power of ICT, NeGP, NOFN etc
  • The recent policy proposal by government to focus on fringe areas is a welcoming step.
  • Waste management has to be addressed at point of generation only. The case of Pune can provide some guideline in this case as it has a unique model of contractual system for efficient and segregation of urban waste.
  • Infrastructure has to follow the green norms. Revival of tradition water structure can provide best solutions for water need of urban areas.

Eg; DHAN foundation at Madurai has done an immense work for revival of traditional tank irrigation system in Tamil Nadu.

Cities are living ecosystems. They need to be managed accordingly. Rather than going by populist measures or sticking to the original master plans, local solutions to local problems, innovative, in situ and tailor made solutions should be evolved, adapted and adhered to. Authorities need to be willing to learn, evolve and discard if necessary.


Topic: Role of women; Salient features of Indian society; Social empowerment

2) Recently protests erupted in Nagaland after its government refused to revoke the decision to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in upcoming civic body polls. Examine why there is opposition to women’s reservation and also critically comment on this issue. (200 Words)

Down to Earth

The legal fight of Naga women for their democratic right of representation dates back to year 2011 when Guwahati single judge bench order to hold elections in state and to provide reservation for women. In recent civic body polls the issues got highlighted when government refused to revoke the decision to reserve 33 percent seats for woman.

Basically there are two main constitutional provisions linked with it.  Firstly as per 74th amendment, it has been made mandatory to state to provide 33 percent reservation to women. As an exception to this provision article 371(A) exists which states that no act of parliament in respect of Naga customary law and procedure shall apply to the state of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of the state by a resolution decides to adopt it.

It is equally true that  reservation is not an alien concept there has already 1/4th reservation provided for the women in Village development boards(VDB) since 1989, so the grounds of opposition has their originating roots in other factors like patriarchal mindset  and unwillingness to share fund and power with the women. 

In case of state like Nagaland, the existing conditions differ from other part of country and thus need a conscious attempt by government agencies to implement sensitive issues such as representation.

Providing reservations for woman can guarantee:

  • Gender Equality and Gender participation in decision making process. Hence, elevate their status.
  • Woman will encourage their children of the tribe to get good education.
  • With rising education and development groups like NSCK(M) will face hindrance in their functionality.

Addressing the issue will bring peace in the area generally disturbed by the insurgencies across borders and with the current problems between different groups of the state increases the vulnerability. So, Tribal welfare departments, NGOs and civil society should come forward and try to spread awareness among the people of different tribes about women empowerment and tell them about the developments happening across the country and world.


General Studies – 2


Topic:Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes;

3) Critically evaluate the impact of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana on access to healthcare and financial risk protection. (200 Words)

EPW

The RSBY, the health insurance scheme for BPL(below poverty line) families was launched for the workers in the unorganized sector in the FY 2007-08 and it became fully operational from 1st April 2008. It provides for IT-enabled and smart –card-based cashless health insurance, including maternity benefit cover up to Rs 30,000/- per annum on a family floater basis to BPL families (a unit of five) and 11 occupational groups in the unorganized sector.

Achievements of RSBY-

  • The number of families that are enrolled in RSBY has gone up from 4 million on 31st March 2009 to 34.16 million on 28th February 2013. Beginning with 12,500 hospitalization cases in the financial year 2008-09, it has increased to 1.75 million such cases in 2011-12.
  • There are about 171 million persons living-in-households-with-a-RSBY-Smart Card and 119 million of them are enrolled in the scheme.
  • Enrolment of Females in the scheme has increased by 20% from Round 1 to Round 4. Also, for the enrolled females, the average female hospitalization ratio (total female hospitalization cases/total females enrolled) has increased from 4.53% to 6.6% during the same period.
  • World Bank has observed that “The experience with the design and implementation of theRashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) in particular, is one of the most promising efforts in India to bridge this gap by providing health insurance to millions of poor households. The program is now internationally recognized for its innovative approach to harnessing information technology to reach the poor.”

However the recent assessment conducted by the Council for Social Development and published in its latest report, “India: Social Development Report 2014” observed many drawbacks of the scheme. 

  • Study found that despite high enrolment in RSBY, catastrophic health expenditures (when medical expenses push a family into poverty), hospitalization expenditure have steadily increased, for both in-patients and outpatients, over the last two decades. Government-financed health insurance schemes like RSBY are providing insignificant protection against catastrophic health expenditure.
  • The relatively poor households which are covered under RSBY, reported an increase in out-of-pocket expenditure for hospital care.
  • Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, hospitalization expenses have increased at a much higher rate (9.2%) compared to outpatient expenses (4.5%) or medicines (4.85%). The poorer income sections in RSBY have indeed experienced a rise in catastrophic headcount, a conclusive proof that RSBY and other state run insurance programs have failed to provide financial risk protection,” the report noted.
  • Further the scheme is fraught with exclusion error and inclusion error. The study concluded that RSBY was being used mostly by those who already had better access (to healthcare services) and the most marginalized sections were being excluded further.
  • In many cases doctors and hospitals are found perform unnecessary surgical operations to claim the money of insurance.
  • Major design flaw in RSBY and other such state health insurance programs is their narrow focus on secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.

Conclusion-

The RSBY was launched with the noble intention, but its outcome is not in proportion with its objectives. Strong political Will, bureaucratic maneuverability and active participation of citizens are most important factors for any such welfare scheme to succeed.


Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

4) It is argued that geopolitics rather than geoeconomics predominates India’s thinking on possibilities offered by the revival of the old Silk Road by the Chinese. Do you agree? Critically comment. (200 Words)

EPW

One of China’s most ambitious economic and foreign policy projects is the so-called “One Belt, One Road” initiative, also referred to as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to connect the China with central Asia, west Asia and Europe through a massive program of infrastructure building.

China wants India to be member of this project for its successful operation and obstruction-free working. In return India too will benefit economically as India would get direct connectivity to land-locked central Asia, resource rich west Asia and prosperous Europe. Despite these economic opportunities, India is wary of joining one belt one road initiative. The probable reasons are-

  • At the heart of India’s reluctance to embrace Beijing’s promise of road building and connectivity is strategic mistrust. The country is wedged between two nuclear-armed neighbors and has fought wars against both in the last 60 years. The historical baggage of the1962 war still looms large in India’s imagination. During the brief war, Beijing inflicted a crushing defeat on the unprepared Indian army.
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the key reason why Delhi is hesitant to embrace the initiative. The proposed corridor (expected toconnect Kashgar with the Port of Gwadar in Balochistan) runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan; both are considered by Delhi to be Indian territories. India has lodged regular protests against creating CPEC that challenges sovereignty issue.
  • Indian analysts are also concerned about a lack of operational detail. Paucity of specific information is making some Indian researchers wonder whether the whole project is just a game of deception
  • One of the reasons why Delhi has not endorsed OBOR is because it perceives the move as Beijing’s attempt to expand its influence in the region. China’s plan to expand its presence further in the Indian Ocean region and the Central Asia, however, has caused discomfort in Delhi, which has already been wary of China’s “string of pearls” assets encircling India.
  • There is anticipation that it would serve the China’s interest more and can dominate the trade policies, So India is reluctant of accepting china’s hegemony.

Conclusion-

The current strategic mistrust between Delhi and Beijing will make it very difficult for Indian policymakers to accept the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in its present form. Rajni Bakshi, a senior Gandhi Peace Fellow from Mumbai’s Gateway House, has argued that Beijing has to co-design the new Silk Road with India for it to have any chance of success. If the Chinese government wants to address the trust deficit and get a larger buy-in from Indians, it will have to engage Delhi in designing and implementing “One Belt, One Road.”


General Studies – 3


Topic:  Infrastructure

5) What are the objectives and components of the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme? Comment on this scheme’s performance. (200 Words)

Frontline

Objectives and components of UDAY scheme-

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is a financial restructuring and efficiency enhancing program, aims to reduce the debt burden of the state owned electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs). DISCOMs – most of them are owned by state governments have an accumulated losses of approximately Rs. 3.8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of approximately Rs. 4.3 lakh crore (as on March, 2015). 

Though the main component of UDAY is debt management, other measures like raising operational efficiency are also proposed to permanently settle the debt scenario of DISCOMs.

Four initiatives are designed as part of UDAY to improve the efficiency of DISCOMs:

  • Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs;
  • Reduction of cost of power;
  • Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs;
  • Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances.

The operational efficiency includes compulsory smart metering, upgradation of transformers and meters to reduce electricity lost during transmission and distribution (or theft).

Salient feature of UDAY

  • States shall take over 75% of DISCOM debt as on 30 September 2015 over two years – by 2016-17.
  • Centre will not include the debt taken over by the States as part of fiscal deficit of respective States.
  • States will issue non-SLR including SDL bonds in the market or directly to the respective banks / Financial Institutions (FIs) holding the DISCOM debt to the appropriate extent.
  • DISCOM debt not taken over by the State shall be converted by the Banks / FIs into loans or bonds with interest rate not more than the bank’s base rate plus 0.1%. Alternately, this debt may be fully or partly issued by the DISCOM as State guaranteed DISCOM bonds at the prevailing market rates which shall be equal to or less than bank base rate plus 0.1%.
  • State DISCOMs will comply with the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) with Ministry of Power.
  • States accepting UDAY and performing as per operational milestones will be given additional / priority funding through Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY),Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Power Sector Development Fund (PSDF) or other such schemes of Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • Such States shall also be supported with additional coal at notified prices and, in case of availability through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs).
  • States not meeting operational milestones will be liable to forfeit their claim on IPDS and DDUGJY grants.
  • UDAY is optional for all States. However, States are encouraged to take the benefit at the earliest as benefits are dependent on the performance.

Performance of UDAY-

The performance of UDAY is measured using 14 operational and financial parameters, some of which are reduction in technical and commercial losses, household electrification, smart metering, distribution of LED lights etc. Some of the observations were

  • States have fared poorly on their responsibilities and commitments in UDAY. States like Haryana, Rajasthan have fulfilled only 30-35% of commitments made under UDAY; UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and J&K have below 30% progress. This situation has hampered the overall progress in performance of UDAY.
  • DISCOM’s are reporting losses as they have not been able to raise tariffs significantly of households and agricultural consumers and they are also paying high prices to power generation companies. Nonetheless some DISCOM’s like Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam (DHBVN) are performing well since the inception of UDAY and are making profits.
  • AT&T losses have been decreased from 26% to 23% within 1st year of the scheme.
  • Public sector firm NTPC has taken steps to to bring down the cost of production by 32 paise per unit.

Conclusion-

We cannot expect magical results into limping status of DISCOM’s within one or two years. There have been certain positive traits into the functioning of UDAY scheme. All the state governments have to participate whole heartedly in the scheme for intended results.  


Topic: Conservation; Disaster management

6) Discuss the damages caused by oil spills on marine ecology. What mechanism exist in India to manage and mitigate disasters caused by oil spills? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products.

Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved.

Damage caused by oil spills are:

Oil spills can have disastrous consequences for society; economically, environmentally, and socially. As a result, oil spill accidents have initiated intense media attention and political uproar, bringing many together in a political struggle concerning government response to oil spills and what actions can best prevent them from happening.

  • Poisoning of food chain: land and marine food chain are well integrated and nutrient cycle is main component of this integrated food chain. Heavy minerals can bio-accumulate and then bio- magnify into overall food ecology damaging large number of living organisms.
  • Fire threats: Oil spills may lead to threat of heavy fire incidences that can damage the material and non-material things.
  • Temperature rise: Oil spill cut offs the oxygen exchange between air and water layer. This leads to rise in temperature that threatens the existence of micro flora and micro fauna. A smaller spill at the wrong time/wrong season and in a sensitive environment may prove much more harmful than a larger spill at another time of the year in another or even the same environment.
  • Impact on tourism: Contamination can have an economic impact on tourism and marine resource extraction industries. For example, theDeep-water Horizon oil spill impacted beach tourism and fishing along the Gulf Coast, and the responsible parties were required to compensate economic victims.

Mechanisms present in India to manage and mitigate oil spill effect-
A) National: Indian national center for ocean information Services is mandated to forecast course of an oil spill. Timely reporting can reduce the further harm to biotic environment mainly.

  1. B) National oil spill Disaster contingency plan is updated from time to time for all stakeholders to deal with the issue. Central government funds 50% for pollution response equipment.
    c) International: In addition to this India is signatory to convention for Prevention of pollution from ships, convention on Civil Liability for Bunker oil pollution damage.

Along with institutional mechanisms high perceptual remote sensing can identify and report about large oil spills.

Chennai disaster should prompt the setting up of effective response machinery, local contingency plan, good dissemination system and acquisition of latest technology. A mechanism to deal with oil spills should be made part of our National Disaster Management Policy so as to contain damage more effectively in future.


Topic: Agriculture

7) What do you understand by contract farming? Does India need model law on contract farming? What should be its features? Analyse. (200 Words)

Down to Earth

Contract farming-

Contract farming can be defined as agricultural production carried out according to an agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm product or products. Typically, the farmer agrees to provide agreed quantities of a specific agricultural product. These should meet the quality standards of the purchaser and be supplied at the time determined by the purchaser. In turn, the buyer commits to purchase the product and, in some cases, to support production through, for example, the supply of farm inputs, land preparation and the provision of technical advice.

Contract farming business model-

  • Informal model– This model is the most transient and speculative of all contract farming models, with a risk of default by both the promoter and the farmer”. However, this depends on the situation: interdependence of contract parties or long-term trustful relationships may reduce the risk of opportunistic behavior.
  • Intermediary model– In this model, the buyer subcontracts an intermediary (collector, aggregator or farmer organization) who formally or informally contracts farmers (combination of the centralized/ informal models).
  • Multipartite model– This model can develop from the centralized or nucleus estate models, e.g. following the privatization of para-statals. It involves various organizations such as govern- mental statutory bodies alongside private companies and sometimes financial institutions.
  • Centralized model – In this model, the buyers’ involvement may vary from minimal input provision (e.g. specific varieties) to control of most production aspects (e.g. from land preparation to harvesting). This is the most common CF model.
  • Nucleus estate model– In this model, the buyer sources both from own estates/ plantations and from contracted farmers. The estate system involves significant investments by the buyer into land, machines, staff and management.

Advantages of contract farming-

Contract farming is looking towards the benefits both for the farm-producers as well as to the agro-processing firms. 

Producer/farmer

  • Makes small scale farming competitive – small farmers can access technology, credit, marketing channels and information while lowering transaction costs.
  • Assured market for their produce at their doorsteps, reducing marketing and transaction costs.
  • It reduces the risk of production, price and marketing costs.
  • Contract farming can open up new markets which would otherwise be unavailable to small farmers.
  • It also ensures higher production of better quality, financial support in cash and /or kind and technical guidance to the farmers.
  • In case of agri-processing level, it ensures consistent supply of agricultural produce with quality, at right time and lesser cost.

Agri-based firms

  • Optimally utilize their installed capacity, infrastructure and manpower, and respond to food safety and quality concerns of the consumers.
  • Make direct private investment in agricultural activities.
  • The price fixation is done by the negotiation between the producers and firms.
  • The farmers enter into contract production with an assured price under term and conditions.

Does India need model law on Contract farming-

  • Contract farming arrangements are often criticized for being biased in favor of firms or large farmers, while exploiting the poor bargaining power of small farmers.
  • Problems faced by growers like undue quality cut on produce by firms, delayed deliveries at the factory, delayed payments, low price and pest attack on the contract crop which raised the cost of production.
  • Contracting agreements are often verbal or informal in nature, and even written contracts often do not provide the legal protection in India that may be observed in other countries. Lack of enforceability of contractual provisions can result in breach of contracts by either party.
  • In the absence of uniform law on contract farming, companies may create monopoly threreby increasing dependency of farmers on companies for seeds and equipment.
  • In the absence of clear guideline to maintain agricultural diversity, contract farming may give rise to system of monoculture farming.
  • At present system of contract farming has been adopted by about 22 states but there is no uniformity or homogeneity regarding what kinds of produce come under this or what conditions will have to be met for contract farming to be allowed.
  • Adverse gender effects – without any law to encourage participation of women, in the existing system women have less access to contract farming than men.

Thus India needs model law for contract farming which would minimize the conflict between farmers and buyers and at the same time give impetus to agricultural production.

Following should the features of model contract law-

The law should-

  • Promote sustainable farming practices and not promote reliance on chemicals or expensive seeds, or lead to excessive debts,
  • Lead to higher incomes for farmers than they would otherwise earn, and compared to alternative models,
  • Substantially include women farmers and promote their rights;
  • Promote the land rights of farmers;
  • Apply free, prior and informed consent of those affected in terms of project design and implementation.
  • Should not result in farmers’ overspecialization in certain crops to the detriment of building resilience and contributing to local food security.

Law should in relation to contractual terms (CT)-

  • CT be negotiated transparently and fairly among the parties, providing adequate information at all times on the financial aspects of the project and the risks and likely impacts;
  • CT should consider alternative contract farming models.
  • CT be regulated by a written contract spelling out the details and obligations of both the company  and the out-growers, and which must be written in a clear and understandable way with out-growers given sufficient time to review it;
  • CT be transparent about how the price is determined, the duration of the project and how production inputs and other services are to be supplied and used by farmers;
  • In CT there should be a build in a clause for the renegotiation of the contract at agreed intervals, and specify the sharing of production and market risks among the parties;
  • CT must track and communicate performance to affected stakeholders to build accountability at the operational level;
  • CT must prevent unfair practices in buyer-farmer relations, and not prohibit or discourage farmers from associating with other farmers to compare contractual clauses or to address concerns or problems;
  • CT must have clear mechanisms for settling disputes.

The government should: 

  • Act as a third party, or mediator, between the parties and not be a mouthpiece for the company sponsor.

Conclusion-

Thus clear and uniform guidelines across the country and strong regulatory framework can help both farmers and buyers through system of contract farming.