SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 March 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 : Changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
1) Forest fires are common in the dry deciduous forests of India during summer the months of March and April. Critically comment on policies and methods followed in India to fight forest fires. Suggest an ideal approach to fight forest fires. (200 Words)
The incidence of the forest fires in the country is high. The bulk of forest fires occurs in the tropical dry forests of our country, an umbrella category encompassing scrub, savanna grassland, dry and moist-deciduous forests. Almost 70% of forests in India are composed of these types.
Fires are common in the dry deciduous forests of India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
POLICIES AND METHODS IN INDIA –
India follows no-fire forest policy, wherein all kinds of forest fires are discouraged and controlled .
1.Modern Forest Fire Control Methods:
a)Prevention: Creation of fire lines, training and demonstration publicity.
b)Detection: Construction of watch towers, network of wireless sets, fire finders.
c)Suppression: Hand tools, fire resistant clothing and fire tenders , equipments .
2.National Plan for Forest Fire Management :
To strengthen the Organizations responsible for forest fire management and creation of strong data base of forest.
3.Forest fire monitoring:
Real time forest fire monitoring with the help of satellite data.
Flaws in system:
- One size fits all strategy adopted to deal all types of forests and forest-fires, hence the regional diversity affects the result.
- No-fire Forest policy is proving counterproductive as absence of less severe small fires (which are desirable )giving rise to some disadvantages . Ex. Growth of invasive species like Lantana which acts as fuel. The fires in Bandipur Tiger Reserve were immensely difficult to control because of ample fuel supplied by the alien invasive species Lantana camara. Recent ethnographic and empirical research from the neighbouring Biligiri Rangaswamy Tiger Reserve indicates that a no-fire policy was likely responsible for the spread of Lantana in the first place.
- Administrative difficulties- Forest comes under concurrent list hence state government is responsible for field administration but they lack resources and they rely mainly on centre which causes delay to deal.
- Failure on the ground – Other factors like inadequate fund, early warning system failure, lack of coordination.
WAY FORWARD –
- Joint forest management must be promoted to integratedly protect forest with indigenous knowledge. Local participation of tribals and farmers should be encouraged.
- Strategic small forest fires must be allowed early during onset of summer as this practice reduces chances of hotter and more severe fires later . Such fires confined to few compartments in forest are also beneficial for rejuvenation and regrowth of fodder species , fire-resistant plant species as well as addition of ash to soil as manure.
- Improved and modern management practices should be adopted to deal with forest fires. Special precautions should be taken during the fire season.
To tackle forest fires our forest policy should do away with colonial legacy and inclusive policy must be devolved which includes all stakeholders, modern technology, equipments along with indigenous traditional knowledge.
Topic: Role of women
2) According to a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India and Pakistan have the lowest rates of women’s labour force participation in Asia. Also, in India, rate of labour force participation of women is declining against the worldwide trend. Critically examine the causes of this decline and suggest ways to halt this decline. (200 Words)
REPORT DATA –
According to a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India and Pakistan have the lowest rates of women’s labour force participation in Asia, in sharp contrast to Nepal, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that have the highest, with richer nations like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia falling in between. Moreover, even this low rate of labour force participation seems to be declining. Of the 185 nations that are part of the ILO database, since the 1990s, 114 countries have recorded an increase in the proportion of women in the workforce, and only 41 recorded declines, with India leading the pack.
The National Sample Survey found that while in 1999-2000, 25.9% of all women worked, by 2011-12 this proportion had dropped to 21.9%. This is in stark contrast to worldwide trends.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has brought more rural women into wage labour. Among MGNREGA workers in 2011-12, a whopping 45% were not in wage labour before the scheme was initiated.
1) Decreasing farm sizes and increased mechanisation result in lesser women labourers, as agriculture employs maximum women in India.
2) Family responsibilities are major setbacks for women in India. In family vs career, women are generally compelled to choose family.
3) Patriarchy is yet another reason where husbands or families do not allow women to work. The increase in family income, de-necessitates women-working and make them to focus on family..
4) Unsuitable working conditions such as lack of women safety or facilities for creche.
1) Equal incomes for equal work might push the employment of women in all sectors.
2) Facilities at workplace such as creche, hygienic toilets, easy working hours in case of emergency are necessary.
3) Men should take equal responsibility in caring for family and children.
4) Aspirations of a women are generally forced to take a back seat in case of a conflict between the career of a husband and a wife. This mentality needs to be scrapped.
- Facilitate transition to non agriculture work via education-skilling. Focus on developing women intensive sector like Textile and Leather, Supplemented by work of SHG .
- Recent amendment to Maternity benefit act for extending maternity leave from existing 12 weaks to 24 weeks for two survising child . It will help her by continuing her employment.
- Draft National women policy,2016 – to provide enabling environment to women instead of seeing her as recipient of welfare benefits
- Women Transforming India Campaign launched by NITI Ayog in collabration with UN and mygov
All the above steps should be implemented in letter and spirit.
The Economic Survey 2016-17 expressed concern that the demographic dividend is already receding, reducing the opportunity for the Indian economy to catch up with its East Asian counterparts. However, the numeric consequences of reducing obstacles to women’s full economic participation far exceed the demographic advantages of having a larger pool of young workers. It is thus high time to talk of the gender dividend along with the demographic dividend.
With more than 75% women not contributing to the economy, the nation is not only losing on the economic part but also the development of 50% of our population. The survey report of ILO should be taken as an eye opener. More than the government, the new generation needs to make sure that this falling trend does not last for long.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is a constitutional office established by Article 148 of constitution of India. CAG is the head of Indian Audit and Accounts Department.
Apart from looking into Central and State govt. finances, the CAG is now auditing several public-private partnerships (PPP), the UN Headquarters, and is poised to become part of the new cricket dispensation. This presents new opportunities and challenges.
The role of Office of the CAG has expanded in India due to following reasons-
1) Jurisdiction expansion over private bodies which use public resources after 2014 judgement for telecom companies and BCCI after Lodha Commitee recommendations
2) Technology and big data analytics tools
3) International agreements and data sources like Panama Papers, FATF, BEPS etc which providing vaster sources of information
4) Appointment as chairman of UN Board of Auditors
5) Financial Reforms like demonetization and GST
6) Environmental/Biodiversity audits – Climate change , Flood Control
- Political affiliation – Appointment process recently is not neutral and transparent which may leave room for collusion
- May create frequent strife with political class, which may act detrimental
- Overburdening of already-pressurized CAG workforce may affect quality of audits
- Lack of sectoral experts inside CAG to study multiple links in varied areas like Environment, Sports, Economy
- To garner cooperation from newer constitutional agencies like GST council, and revenue authorities regarding effective data-sharing (Else may lead to exaggerated audit figures)
- Executive slackness and high litigation rates in India may lead to ignorance of many recommendations (Eg- Power DISCOMS).
1.Use of Technology – CAG is expert in conducting audits, and can use Big Data analytics to provide a sharp analysis and highlighting of discrepancies
- Responsible executive – Would decrease corruption/leakages and help in achieving fiscal prudence
- Make citizens more informed regarding working of the Govt.
- International collaboration would assist in technology sharing, optimum risk analysis for effective auditing
- Promote economic growth through effective working of PSU’s
- Promote utilitarian welfare society via monitoring of social schemes and SDG’s
Expansion of scope of CAG in recent years looks quite promising, however, CAG should remain neutral despite increasing facets of politicization/radicalization prevalent in our country to strengthen our democracy.
Further, capacity building measures, reorientation of methodology and development of end-to-end IT solutions must be there to enhance CAG’s efficiency in this overburdened age.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
4) Critically comment on the nature of ongoing conflict in the Korean peninsula, the role of international community in deescalating this conflict and implications of this conflict for regional peace. (200 Words)
In 2016, North Korea carried out 24 ballistic missile tests and two nuclear tests, both of which it claimed tested thermonuclear devices. USA has maintained steadfast opposition to such missile’s test by North Korea.
United States and South Korean troops kicked off the 2017 iteration of their large-scale annual Foal Eagle exercises on March 1. The exercises will run through April and will overlap with the Key Resolve exercise, which begins on March 13. The exercises come amid high tensions between the U.S.-South Korea alliance and North Korea, which conducted its first ballistic missile test of 2017 in February. According to Americans the exercise is a series of joint and combined ground, air, naval and special operations field exercises, and it is designed in the spirit of the U.S.-South Korean mutual defense treaty of 1953.
North Korea has vehemently opposed this exercise arguing that the drills served as a rehearsal for a preemptive strike by the U.S.-South Korea alliance. In retaliation North Korea has launched 4 ballistic missiles in the sea of Japan escalating the tensions in the region. To this USA has started to deploy Terminal High Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) advanced anti-missile system in South Korea.
Nature of the ongoing conflict in Korean peninsula-
- Roots in History- Korean peninsula has witnessed tensions since the Korean war of 1951 which had led to division of Korea. Both South and North Korea see each other as greatest enemy since then. The rivalry has continued throughout the cold war and well into 21st
- Involvement of global powers– South Korea has received support from United States of America and other western powers while North Korea is supported by China and Russia, making Korean issues an international one.
- Geopolitical importance– Korean peninsula is strategically located between sea of Japan and East China sea. It also has ready access to Pacific ocean and Indian ocean. Thus power having control over Korean peninsula would have geopolitical advantage in Asia-pacific region.
- Possession of nuclear weapons- North Korea has developed ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons over the last few years. This has led to both parties possessing war-ready nuclear weapons. Further escalation of tensions in the region could result into actual war threatening global peace.
- North Korean belligerence- North Korea has pursued the path of developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons despite the economic sanctions, international isolation. Even its ally China has criticized the North Korean actions for disturbing regional peace.
Response of international community-
- USA- it has imposed sanctions on North Korea and has maintained constant opposition to its missile testing’s. USA has provided complete support to South Korea and it is being deployed THAAD advanced anti-missile system in South Korea
- China- Although China has been the traditional supporter of North Korea, it has disapproved the North Korean policies. Further it is trying to de-escalate the tensions by appealing both the parties for negotiations. China has asked North Korea to suspend its nuclear project and appealed USA-South Korea to suspend their military exercise.
- UNSC- 15 resolutions imposing sanctions have been adopted by UNSC in relation to the North Korean missileand nuclear program, most recently in November 2016. Sanctions include inspection of all passing cargo to and from North Korea, prohibition of all weapons trade with the country, additional restrictions on North Korean imports of luxury goods, and expulsion of certain North Korean diplomats suspected of illicit activities. The UNO has also condemned human rights violation in North Korea.
Role of international community in de-escalating the situation
The regional rivalry between North and South Korea has assumed alarming proportion due involvement of global powers. But this may prove blessings in disguise as these powers may work towards finding peaceful solution to conflict.
The responsible regional powers like China, India should come together to diffuse the tensions and to ensure the respectable settlement for both the parties.
The UNO carries the legitimacy for resolving the international issues threatening regional and global peace. Thus this platform must be explored for finding amicable solution.
Its duty of international community and world organizations like UNO to not to let global powers to use Korean issues as theatre for their mutual rivalry.
Implications for the regional peace-
- Security implications- The Korean conflict has threatened the peace of the entire Asia-Pacific region and has potential to result into another global war.
- Nuclear race and Armament- The regional rivalry between South and North Korea can fuel the nuclear arms and missile race.
- Human rights violation- Already there have been many cases of human rights violation in North Korea and could result into more if both the neighbors plunge into war.
- Developmental implications- When nations give top priority for armament, development takes back seat and could result into poor standard of living of citizens.
- Hostile groupings- The Korean conflict could lead to the hostile groupings on nations as happened during cold war years. Already the situation in west Asia has placed USA and other western powers on one side while China, Russia and Iran on the other. The Korean conflict could add the fuel for the realization of such groupings.
The current geo-political situation in Korean peninsula is very fluid and unless both parties come together for negotiations, could result into actual war. Thus it is duty of all major powers of the world to ensure peaceful negotiations to resolve the conflict.
Topic: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections
5) For all its successes in giving representation to different social groups, India has a mixed track record when it comes to women’s participation and representation in politics. Critically analyse causes and consequences of India’s mixed record when it comes to women’s participation and representation in politics. (200 Words)
Women’s participation and representation in politics in India-
During the first two decades after Independence, women’s participation in elections lagged behind that of men’s by nearly 20 points. In the recent years, women’s participation has caught up with the average, to the point that in the last round of elections to state assemblies, women outvoted men in 17 states.
That there is gender parity in voter turnout in most states is remarkable — particularly so in a country that suffers one of the world’s worst sex ratios. The fact that women outvote men in many states where their literacy rate is significantly lower than the average (65.46 per cent against 82.14 per cent in 2011) must also be noted.
In the 2014 general elections, women turnout rose from 55.82 per cent to 65.63 per cent, a jump of nearly ten percentage points. The overall gender voting gap shrank to an all-time low of 1.46 per cent. The trend has continued in subsequent state elections.
In spite of such progress, women’s representation in elected assemblies remains abysmally low. In 1952, women comprised 6 per cent of India’s first Lok Sabha. Sixty two years later, the representation of women in the Lok Sabha in 2014 reached an all-time high of 12.15 per cent. The situation is worse at the state level, where the average representation ratio of women is only 7.3 per cent. Some states, Nagaland or Mizoram for example, have no women MLAs. Among the other worst performers are Jammu and Kashmir (2.27 per cent) Goa (2.5 per cent), Karnataka (2.65 per cent) and Arunachal Pradesh (3.28 per cent). India’s best performing state is Haryana (14.44 per cent), followed by West Bengal (13.95 per cent), Rajasthan (13.48 per cent) and Bihar (11.67 per cent).
Reasons for the low representation of women in legislative arena-
Traditional and cultural barriers-
- The social and public life of women have kept limited in India due to parochial mindset. Thus political awareness among women is exceptionally low.
- Lack of decision making power in the family and subservience to the male authority has affected women’s participation in politics.
- It is still almost impossible to lower caste women to stand against caste chains and enter into politics.
- Political parties, who refuse to field a fair number of women candidates.
- Legislative support to women through Women Reservation Bill has not been passed by the Parliament due to lack of consensus among political parties and political will.
- Lack of financial independence to large number of women is fundamental cause for their lower proportion in law making bodies.
- Women literacy is way low compared to men in India. Lack of education or proper educational facilities has resulted into low confidence and courage which is needed for public life.
- Even 33% reservation to women in Panchayat and Urban local bodies has not brought large-scale positive results due to poor implementation of the provisions of the law. Most of the women leaders in local governance act as mere puppet of their husbands. This has not created true women leadership which can rise to the state and national level politics.
- Due to low representation of women in legislative bodies, women’s issues are not properly addressed. Eg Addressing issues like female feticide, women’s security, introduction of injectable contraceptives etc.
- Further deterioration of social and economic condition of women.
- The economic potential of women is not being realized due political sat-back resulting into low labor force participation rate.
- In fact the true meaning of ideals mentioned in our constitution like Justice and equality are missing from Indian democratic system due to lagging behind of women in political sphere.
Changing prejudices and stereotypes in India will remain a herculean task for generations to come. The only way to address it in the short run is through bold legislation, the kind of spectacular gestures the prime minister seems inclined to.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economic growth and development
HEADLINE INFLATION:- Headline inflation is a measure of the total inflation within an economy, including commodities such as food and energy prices (e.g., oil and gas), which tend to be much more volatile and prone to inflationary spikes. On the other hand, “core inflation” (also non-food-manufacturing or underlying inflation) is calculated from a price index minus the volatile food and energy components. Headline inflation may not present an accurate picture of an economy’s inflationary trend since sector-specific inflationary spikes are unlikely to persist.
CORE INFLATION:- Core inflation represents the long run trend in the price level. In measuring long run inflation, transitory price changes should be excluded. One way of accomplishing this is by excluding items frequently subject to volatile prices, like food and energy.
Headline inflation amounts to the overall inflation in economy while core inflation calculate only items excluding food and fuel.
Fluctuations in headline inflation are usually temporary in nature while core inflation gives the expectations for a long run.
Changes in headline inflation have immediate and stronger impact on low and middle classes when compared to core inflation.
THEIR IMPORTANCE FOR ECONOMY:-
- Basic needs – Rapid increase in headline inflation owing to temporary shocks might deprive people from accessing basic needs.
- Consumer Expectations – Change in consumer expectations has a potential to impact the economy.
- Monetary Policy Target – Headline inflation is targeted to absorb any temporary shocks, thus plays a major role in determining the policy rate , money supply etc.
- Repetitive shocks and fluctuations in headline inflation leads to increase in consumer inflation expectations and there by increase the core Inflation.
- Core inflation has long term impact on the economy and individuals as it targets needs such as transport , communications etc.
- Core inflation has huge impact on the industrial sector and there by potentially impact countries exports.
- Though not directly used as a target for monetary policy,it plays a crucial role in determining RBIs policy stance.
- Controlling the temporary rise in headline inflation will help reverting headline inflation level to core inflation which depicts the long term picture.
THEIR IMPORTANCE FOR RBI POLICY STAND:-
- The Flexible Inflation Targeting (FIT) stance fixes medium term target of 4% with a band +/- 2%.
- Since objective of monetary policy is to maintain price stability, hence in FIT it is being used as the target rate of inflation as it reflects the prices of essential consumption goods.
- Core inflation data is useful in blocking effects of supply shocks by anchoring long-term inflation expectations. Hence in FIT framework, the RBI has provided CPI inflation as a nominal anchor to monetary policy.
Topic; Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The Economic Survey 2016-2017, Chapter 9
A basic income (also called unconditional basic income, Citizen’s Income, basic income guarantee, universal basic income or universal demogrant) is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR:-
Poverty and vulnerability reduction :-Poverty and vulnerability will be reduced in one fell swoop.
Choice A UBI treats beneficiaries as agents and entrusts citizens with the responsibility of using welfare spending as they see best; this may not be the case with in-kind transfers.
Better targeting of poor As all individuals are targeted, exclusion error (poor being left out) is zero though inclusion error (rich gaining access to the scheme) is 60 percent5 .
Insurance against shocks This income floor will provide a safety net against health, income and other shocks
Improvement in financial inclusion Payment – transfers will encourage greater usage of bank accounts, leading to higher profits for banking correspondents (BC) and an endogenous improvement in financial inclusion. Credit – increased income will release the constraints on access to credit for those with low income levels.
Psychological benefits A guaranteed income will reduce the pressures of finding a basic living on a daily basis.
Administrative efficiency A UBI in place of a plethora of separate government schemes will reduce the administrative burden on the state.
ARGUMENT AGAINST FAVOUR:-
Conspicuous spending Households, especially male members, may spend this additional income on wasteful activities.
Moral hazard (reduction in labour supply) A minimum guaranteed income might make people lazy and opt out of the labour market.
Gender disparity induced by cash Gender norms may regulate the sharing of UBI within a household – men are likely to exercise control over spending of the UBI. This may not always be the case with other in-kind transfers.
Implementation Given the current status of financial access among the poor, a UBI may put too much stress on the banking system.
Fiscal cost given political economy of exit Once introduced, it may become difficult for the government to wind up a UBI in case of failure.
Political economy of universality – ideas for self-exclusion Opposition may arise from the provision of the transfer to rich individuals as it might seem to trump the idea of equity and state welfare for the poor.
Exposure to market risks (cash vs. food) Unlike food subsidies that are not subject to fluctuating market prices, a cash transfer’s purchasing power may severely be curtailed by market fluctuations.