SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 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; Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands define wetlands as: “areas of marsh, fen, peat-land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters”. It is one of the most ecologically productive zones on our planet.
Wetlands as kidneys of cities –
- Trapping of sediments and excess nutrients- Nitrogen, Phosphorous and pollutants from nutrient rich runoff, sometimes even converting a few chemicals into lesser harmful forms, carbon sequestration/sink.
- Water-volume regulation- absorption of excess flood water. Chennai floods could be prevented with proper conservation of surrounding wetlands and water bodies.
3) Filtration and Purification of water – especially important when the wetland is connected to a ground water or surface water resource that are used by humans for drinking, swimming, fishing etc.
Degradation of wetlands –
Loss of natural wetlands is an ongoing catastrophe in India. A decade ago, the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History released a conservation atlas for all States using space applications, it reported the tragic fact that 38% of wetlands had already been lost nationally; and shockingly, in some districts only 12% survived. The Centre has since issued rules for their conservation and management, and chosen 115 water bodies in 24 States for protection support, but this is obviously too little. Despite rules for conservation and management of wetlands, these sites are heavily polluted. Research studies show that the concentration of heavy metals in such sites is leading to bio-accumulation, thus entering the plants and animals that ultimately form part of people’s food.
Bengaluru ,the city of lakes, has lost an estimated 79% of water bodies and 80% of its tree cover from the baseline year of 1973.
How Wetlands in India are being adversely affected –
- Rampant encroachment- of lake beds and catchment areas for commercial exploitation due to large scale rapid urbanization.
- Pollution- release of sewage, industrial effluents and garbage into wetlands. Eutrophied runoff from farms and urban areas leads to algal bloom thus causing depletion of oxygen leading to death of aquatic flora and fauna.
- Bio accumulation- concentration of heavy metals in wetland sites which enters the food web.
- Soil health- high levels of heavy metals like cadmium are found in nearby areas using water from wetlands for cultivation.
Why wetlands are adversely affected –
- Lack of coordination between agencies- despite multiple agencies setup for environmental protection, there is no coordination amongst them. Disjointed efforts achieving little collectively are causing collapse of environmental management.
- Official indifference – No attention is given to recommendation provided by various research groups regarding conservation of wetlands.
- Unimplementation of legal protection – weak arms of NGT, vested commercial interests.
- Lack of public participation – people are not aware about extraordinary role played by wetlands for ecological balance.
- Strict implementation of waste management rules for both households as well as industries. Increase no. of sewage treatment plants in the city to reduce pollution of wetlands.
- Strict implementation of legal protection measures – removal of land grabbers , ending pollution outfalls into water-bodies.
- Monitor encroachments – Declare certain restricted areas nearby wetlands just like those declared for forests. This will reduce human activity in such sites. Digital,physical mapping for identifying and demarcating surviving wetlands .
- Creation of a single body to oversee wetland conservation, better coordination with other agencies.
- Awareness and sensitization of people, educate them about the benefits of wetlands.Mobilization of local population for wetland conservation, emulating success of environmental movements such as ‘Chipko movement’.
An effective coordination between the local, state and central government with the local population’s active involvement can save our wetlands from further degradation in the name of ‘development’.
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization,
Women, who roughly comprise half of the population of the world’s largest democracy are seen as a rising potential on the stage of democracy.
Various attempts have been made by the government to combat gender inequities in electoral politics such as 33% reservation for women in PRIs and ULBs under the 73rd and 74th Amendment. But, still we are at 130 rank in GII.
Causes of low participation of women in electoral politics –
- Lack of reservation at higher levels- such as Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies. India ranks 20th from the bottom when it comes to women’s representation in the Parliament with merely 4% representation of women in LS.
- Proxy politics- women candidates who generally win elections are due to them being used as proxy by male members in their family, for whom the people actually vote. Ex: pradhan pati (husband of woman sarpanch) in UP local bodies
- Patriarchal mindset- tendency of confining women to the four walls of domestic life, prohibiting them from positions of leadership and decision making. example- lapsed women reservation bill (2008) , opposition to 33% reservation for women in ULBs in Nagaland citing cultural reasons of Naga tribes.
4) Illiteracy- lack of education and political awareness at times prevents women from active participation in the elections.
Role of women in Electoral Politics –
Their participation is crucial in the policy formulation and regulation as they represent nearly half of total population.
- Voice to women through gender sensitive policies- elected women decision makers can better understand women related issues and act on them such as women-safety , reservation-policy, financing SHGs, women health-care etc. Promotion of gender budgeting, gender sensitive policies and programmes. They promise an alternative of development at a time of increasing criminalisation of politics. Radha Devi , sarpanch of village in Rajasthan who tried to focus on education of childdren.
- Fighting social evils- They can easily relate with the ground realities and thus involve in effective decision making in comparison to their male counterpart. Women as decision makers thus can be instrumental in fighting social evils such as child marriage, female foeticide, domestic violence, purdah system, superstitions, etc. Reason being they are the major and easy victims of many social evil practices.Sushma Bhadu, sarpanch of a Haryana village who started campaign of lifting ghunghat (veil) in a largely patriarchial state is an excellent example of this.
- Social transformation- exposure to electoral politics gives women a platform for bringing about social transformation. Ex: Irom Sharmila who fought against AFSPA is now campaigning for election on a bicycle. They could act as role models for women empowerment. Establishing trust and confidence in women of all section towards the govt. policies could be easily achieved.
- Behavioral & attitude changes- change in people’s mindset will come with an increasing number of women coming out of their homes to participate in decision making, respect for women in the society will increase.
- Role of women-voters – they can impact the election process equally as male counterparts through their precious votes and can make positive impact on gender sensitive decision making and policy formulation .
Despite various provisions of the government for enhancing women’s participation in electoral politics, there seems to exist a ‘glass ceiling effect’ that prevents women from being a part of the decision making process. Initiatives like Niti Aayog’s women transforming India are expected to empower and substantiate the role of women legislators.
There is a need to bring about a behavioural change in the society and it’s attitude towards women. Just like the recent instances of success of women’s movement to enter the sanctum sanctorum of dargahs and temples, a similar movement needs to begin to increase women’s participation and entry in the temples of democracy[electoral politics].
General Studies – 2
Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
3) In the years after Independence, the framers’ delicate balancing act — between State and citizen, between rights and public goals, between legislatures and courts — has sometimes come under immense strain, but has survived more or less intact. In recent months, however, that balance is once again under stress, more so because of the Supreme Court. Critically analyse these recent instances involving the Supreme Court and their implications. (200 Words)
Legislature , executive and judiciary are the three pillars of our democracy. Fine balance between them is necessary for survival of our democracy,rightly predicted by our framers and interpreted so by S.C. It included both separation of powers as well as power of judicial review in ‘Basic Structure of constitution’. Overreach of any one arm strains this balance.
After playing a largely “interpretative” role in the 1950s and 1960s, the Supreme Court, starting from the 1970s has been the major force standing up against legislative and executive excesses and inactions. Judicial activism is necessary to ensure that constitutional and legislative powers are not used as tools to aid an authoritarian Government.
However, recently the hyper-activism on part of higher courts, including the Supreme Court has landed them into territories that are constitutionally not theirs. They have begun to redefine their role under the Constitution, transforming itself from the guardian of civil rights to a great, overarching moral and political censor.
The recent instances and implications :
JUDICIAL EXECUTION –
- Parallel Censorship:
Pro-active censorship in case of Jolly LLB-2 curtails freedom of expression, and the court acted over reachingly to protect its prestige.Also, it constrains individual freedom for creativity.
No demonstration of legal framework under which decision is taken.
However, showing of these scenes might have eroded the trust factor of citizens on courts and may also promote use of adventurous ways in court to gain attention (Eg. Hurling of shoe).
But, the way in which defamatory scenes were cut despite clearance from censor board and freedom of expression is curtailed is not setting the good precedent.
- Imposed Patriotism:
Interim order by SC compelling all cinema halls to play national anthem.
Though the motive of court was right as they felt that feeling of ‘nationalism’ was lessening and need to promote social harmony, but order looked more like a ‘Compelled Patriotism’ and the court acted on PIL without any prevailing law to base the decision upon.
A patriotic feeling can only evolve naturally from within than through compulsion. Moreover, Prevention of Insults National Honour Act 1971,does not force anyone to stand up or sing national anthem.
Further it seems to curtail the ‘Right not to express’ (under freedom of expression; Article .19)
- Restrictions on information:
Interim order on prohibiting advertisement regarding pre-natal sex determination.
It infringes freedom of Internet as such step will limit individual freedom access to such sites for research, investigation or curiosity on pretext of PC&PNDT Act.
- Acquiring role of executive in case of BCCI:
While making BCCI more accountable, transparent and democratic, S.C. went beyond its territory and overtook role of executive.
However, the functional vacuum created by executive failure in case of BCCI is largely responsible for court’s over activism.
JUDICIAL LEGISLATION –
Supreme Court is well within authority if Legislative body fails to listen to some genuine public demand or an act of natural justice, but legislating the law at first instance itself, without giving time to legislature would not set a good precedent.
- Ruling regarding Religion and Elections –
While adhering to the secular fundamentalism, S.C. went beyond its role of interpreting the law . It prescribed new law on its own through its ruling, that too without suggesting concrete framework leaving scope for speculations.
JUDICIAL ACTIVISM OR OVER-ACTIVISM :
Judiciary has taken suo moto grievances, safeguarding fundamental and natural rights of citizens. The instrument of PIL has helped Judiciary deliver justice, even at places where executive or legislative failed. There are numerous good examples like rights of inmates, right to good environment, health, education, child rights, etc.
- PIL raj –
People are now taking the route of PIL first instead of first demand at elected representatives hence undermines democracy. Hence it is like creation of third chamber.
However, admitting even private interests as PILs is emerging as unfortunate trend these days. Resolution of corporate disputes, making some practice or reading some literature in schools, etc. should not be allowed to divulge core pursuits of the higher courts of the country.
Courts have transformed themselves into guardian of civil rights to an overarching moral and political censor which was not thought by framers in Original constitution. Past orders like striking of Section 66A of IT Act (freedom of speech), Liberalizing law of obscenity (Prevent arrest of AIB members while also upholding Sec 292,294 of IPC) have done an excellent job at protecting this delicate balance.
Though courts are filling the vacuum created by executive non-performance, the courts must be aware of ‘Judicial Overreach’ which may be detrimental to the delicate balance critical for success of our democracy.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
4) What’s the mandate of the Supreme Court appointed four-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)? Examine the challenges that CoA faces. (200 Words)
Introduction:- The Supreme Court has appointed four eminent personalities from varying backgrounds to a panel of administrators to oversee the running of the BCCI until the board can hold fresh elections for office bearers as per the recommendations of the Lodha Committee.
The mandate for the CoA is clear
- Oversee the adoption and implementation of the Lodha Committee directives by the BCCI and the State associations
- Ascertain and consolidate Indian cricket’s standing in and leverage with the International Cricket Council (ICC)
- Make major decisions related to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and BCCI’s sponsorships
- Introduce a governance structure that serves as a sustainable benchmark for how Indian cricket is to be governed.
Challenges faced by CoA
1)In a span of just a few months, the CoA is expected to accomplish many things.
- The stated objective is to restore the game of cricket to its fans
- CoA has already begun its work of removing the remnants of the earlier regime.
- It ordered the closing of the recently opened New Delhi office of the BCCI
- It relieved the resources of those who had been employed there by the erstwhile administration
- It also sent its representative to the critically important ICC meeting where a proposal to overturn the revenue structure was passed by the ICC
- The CoA is also likely to face a deluge of queries and complaints from the various State associations who are unsure of, or unwilling to accept, the reforms.
2)The IPL issue:- IPL is a major revenue source for the Board
- There are indications that the CoA will mostly maintain the status quo for the IPL this season, given the paucity of time, and the many pending issues that need to be resolved.
3)CoA faces an immediate roadblock as it seeks to modify the IPL’s Governing Council in line with the Lodha Committee directive that requires a players’ association representative. The association has not even been formed yet
4)The CoA will need to speed up on the varied challenges from all fronts: the State associations, the ICC, the potential sponsors, and erstwhile officials.
Conclusion: For now, a dichotomy between power play moves and restoring cricket to the fans in an undiluted form is the immediate takeaway. But that doesn’t mean the CoA can’t or won’t be successful, and the constituents of the CoA have the ideal credentials to give structure to the Lodha Committee’s vision.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
5) Should India allow countries such as the USA, Japan and Australia to help mend its ties with China? If not, why should it alone try to improve its bilateral relationship with China? Comment. (200 Words)
The recent visits by American officials like Rechard Verma to Tawang, his visit followed comments by U.S. Consul General Craig Hall has sparked a debate on whether India should allow countries such as USA, Japan, Australia to help mend its ties with china.
- To allow these so-called middle powers to speak for India is a mistake equal to that of allowing any big power to do the same as:-
- India is not, nor is it likely to be a treaty ally of the U.S., as Australia and Japan are
- Such a coalition would necessarily be considered a front to counter Chinese maritime hegemony
- While Indian naval presence would boost efforts to police the South China Sea, the other members of this coalition would hardly be able to help India on its most prominent frontier with China, the unresolved Line of Actual Control.
India should alone try to improve the ties with china:-
- It will help in increasing trust and credibility in relationship of India and China
- As India China relationship is marked by complex geopolitical issues on three fronts like land boundaries, maritime boundaries and Tibet issue etc interference by other nation will be seen as harmful to chineses interest from china’s point of view.
- Interference by other powers may result in manipulation of Indian interest to some extent as per needs of their agendas to contain china’s rise
- India China shares historic, cultural ties and neighbourhood and hence its in utmost interest to solve bilateral problems by the two countries on their own.
Multilateral approach to solve sino-Indian issues is helpful when it comes to pressurizing china in international areas a healthy bilateral approach is need of the hour.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
Non-Constittional Bodies, Indian Polity – Laxmikanth
Quasi Judicial Bodies:
Quasi-judicial bodies are institutes which have powers analogous to that of the law imposing bodies but these are not courts. They primarily oversee the administrative zones. The courts have the power to supervise over all types of disputes but the quasi-judicial bodies are the ones with the powers of imposing laws on administrative agencies. These bodies support to lessen the burden of the courts. Quasi-judicial activity is restricted to the issues that concern the particular administrative agency. Quasi-judicial action may be appealed to a court of law.
Awards and judgements of a quasi-judicial bodies often depend on a pre-determined set of rules or punishment depending on the nature and gravity of the offence committed. Such punishment may be legally enforceable under the law of a country, it can be challenged in a court of law which is the final vital authority.These organizations generally have authorities of settlement in matters like breach of discipline, conduct rules, and trust in the matters of money or otherwise. Their powers are usually limited to a particular area of expertise, such as financial markets, employment laws, public standards, immigration, or regulation.
Important quasi-judicial bodies in India are as under:
- National Human Rights Commission
- State Human Rights Commission
- Central Information Commission
- State Information Commission
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum
- Competition Commission of India
- Appellate Tribunal for Electricity
- State Electricity Regulatory Commission
- Railway Claims Tribunal
- Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
- Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal
- Central Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
- Banking Ombudsman
- Insurance Ombudsman
- Income tax Ombudsman
- Electricity Ombudsman
- State Sales tax Appellate Tribunal
- They lesson the burden on judiciary which is already facing the pendency of cases and judicial backlogs.
- They have specific jurisdictions of their own. Hence they have expertise in dealing with cases
- They are easily accessible than normal courts. They dispenses justice at a much cheaper and faster rate than usual courts.
- They have flexible approach in dealing with the cases hence are approached frequently by the people.
- They have autonomy of functioning and therefor can take an impartial decisions
- Their suo moto powers can also enhances their credibility of dealing the issues of importance to society.
- People if not satisfied with the decisions of the body always move to courts and hence low administrative efficiency and poor functioning of quasi judicial bodies further increase the burden on courts.
- They don’t have full powers as courts. Their jurisdiction is bounded and they cant exercise their powers widely.
- There is always a possibility of executive interference in their functioning which may result into partial decisions sometimes.
- Now a days multiplicity of bodies and mushrooming of tribunals have made the judicial functioning complex.
- Their recommendations are advisory in nature hence they are called like toothless tigers sometimes.
- They lack manpower and critical infrastructure to speed up their functioning.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies
Non-Constittional Bodies, Indian Polity – Laxmikanth
Basically, a statutory body is an organisation of government which is not demarcated in Constitution of India but it gets its powers, service rules, authority by an act of parliament or state legislatures.
A regulatory body also called regulatory agency is a public authority or a government agency which is accountable for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity.
Statutory bodies are established by acts which Parliament and State Legislatures can pass. These bodies are entities shaped by an Act of Parliament or state legislatures and set up by the government to consider the data and make judgments in some arena of activity.
Regulatory body is established by legislative act in order to set standards in a specific field of activity, or operations, in the private sector of the economy and to then implement those standards. Regulatory interventions function outside executive observation.
- Purpose and functions:-
Statutory bodies are generally established to perform specific functions which a government considers effectively performed outside a traditional departmental executive structure. They fulfil the requirement for some operational independence from the government; funding arrangements that are not dependent on the annual appropriations processes; or to establish a separate legal body.
As the regulations that statutory body adopt have the force of law, part of these agencies’ function is essentially legislative; but because they may also conduct hearings and pass judgments concerning adherence to their regulations, they also exercise a judicial function often performed before a quasi-judicial official called an administrative law judge, who is not part of the court system. Some independent regulatory agencies perform investigations or audits, and some are authorised to fine the important parties and order certain measures.
The example of statuary body is The University Grants Commission, a statutory organization established by an Act of Parliament in 1956 for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education. Apart from providing grants to eligible universities and colleges, the Commission also recommends the Central and State Governments on the measures which are necessary for the development of Higher Education. It functions from New Delhi as well as its six Regional offices located in Bangalore, Bhopal, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.
Important Statutory Bodies:
- National Human Rights Commission
- National Commission for Women
- National Commission for Minorities
- National Commission for Backward Classes
- National Law Commission
- National Green Tribunal
- National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
- Armed Forces Tribunal
Important Regulatory bodies are as under:
- Advertising Standards Council of India
- Competition Commission of India
- Biodiversity authority of India
- Press council of India
- Directorate General of Civil Aviation
- Forward Markets Commission
- Inland Waterways Authority of India
- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
- Reserve Bank of India
- Securities and Exchange Board of India
- Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal
- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
- Central pollution control board
- Financial Stability and Development Council
- Medical Council of India
- Pension fund regulatory and development authority
The functioning of these bodies have acquired huge significance in recent times.
1)RBI- In the wake of demonetization, the role of RBI has generated a lot of interest. RBI is responsible for currency as it is the body engaged with monetary management. so a delay in re monetization and cash crunch led to a questioning of RBI’s credibility.
2)MCI-The medical council of India is responsible for medical education and certification medical qualification in India. The body has been in news for corruption charges and NITI Aayog has recommended the scraping of the body.
3)NGT- In light of climate and environment concerns acquiring center stage , the national green tribunal responsible for resolving environmental disputes has been accused of not taking the lead on environmental concerns.
4)NCW- At a time when there is both greater assertion of women’s right as well as crimes against women are on the rise , the National commission for women is expected to play a stellar role.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy – growth and development
Trade in India has grown significantly since time of independence. Economic survey of India has made following observation to signify the importance of trade in India.
• Trade flows accounts to around 54% of Indian GDP.
• Trade to GDP ratio of India has surpassed China.
• Value addition in Indian trade is also high due to labour intensive services & Indian manufacturing being less connected to global chains.
• FDI in India has grown over time and India’s net inflows is quite normal when compared to emerging economies.
• Private Trade has grown significantly as they have been allowed in sectors like Civil Aviation.
The growing importance of trade can be seen in following areas:-
Indian sensitivity on global issues, Indian interests and Indian business has found more global foothold due to reciprocal trade relations. Indians have been able to influence key decisions in US, UK politics to our favor because of the growing economic importance of Indian Markets to the Powerful business owners from their countries.
Post 1991, Growth of Indian trade allowed us to not only invest more in our own infrastructure, highways, defense, but also to develop integrated markets that draw sustenance from the global markets. FDI in India have led to boom of Indian unicorns like Flipkart, Micromax and others giving employment, decreasing unrest and making us more competitive.
Greater integration with global economy has made Indian more global. Greater contacts with foreign cultures due to trade has given us greater respect for their cultures and adoption of some their ideas. Indians have become more gender neutral, adopted Equality based corporate culture and STRONGLY focused on Meritocracy rather than any rights based ideology .
Increasing trade with our neighbors like China, Bangladesh and Srilanka has given them a stake in Indian well being. Pakistan with whom we have sub par trade relations went to a proxy war against us in 1999. Bangladesh on the other hand has taken notice of our concerns with their terrorist organizations and has lent hand in anti terror cooperation.
Trade has touched every aspect of our lives, from the FARMING techniques becoming more commercial oriented, introduction of genetically modified crops to rise of SERVICE OFFSHORING centres and then also to NUCLEARISATION OF Indian family as globalization gave impetus to self dependent families. The impact of these far reaching changes is yet to be fully evaluated.
Trade unions have lost their power vis a vis the international lobbyists who have a lot of stake in developing the rule of the land in their favour. India has had to balance the well being of it’s people with the interests of big businesses. IPR laws, Forest Laws, Environmental protection laws, Taxation laws etc. have all been influenced by players who aren’t citizens and therefore our democracy has been irrevocably changed.
• Rising of protectionist sentiment in many developed countries which will adversely affect India’s external trade.
• Fragmented internal market has led companies to build suboptimal supply chains. However GST implementation will pave way for market integration.
• Fragmented Indian society still suspicious about private participation.
• Rising separatist tendencies interrupts inter-state trades. Also Art. 302 give power to Parliament to impose restrictions on inter-state trade.
In the end, trade can be a boon, if we are able to utilize it well and not fall into the trap of pawning our sovereignty and environment for the higher digit growth only. Free trade has helped hundreds of millions of Indians to become free from shackles of poverty. As a middle income country India need to shape its domestic and foreign policy to overcome these new challenges.