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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 April 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 11 April 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: Geography; Modern history

1) Write a brief note on the geography of Teesta River and the reasons why sharing of its water between India and Bangladesh has become a dispute. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

Sharing the waters of the Teesta river, which originates in the Himalayas and flows through Sikkim and West Bengal to merge with the Brahmaputra in Assam and (Jamuna in Bangladesh), is perhaps the most contentious issue between two friendly neighbours, India and Bangladesh. The river covers nearly the entire floodplains of Sikkim, while draining 2,800 sq km of Bangladesh, governing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. For West Bengal, Teesta is equally important, considered the lifeline of half-a-dozen districts in North Bengal.

Geography of Teesta River-

  • The Tista River is famous for its emerald green waters. Prior to meeting the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh as a tributary, the Tista River forms the boundary between West Bengal and Sikkim. The river is 196 miles (315) km long. About 115 km of its stretch is situated in Bangladesh. The average monthly flow of the river is approximately 2,430 cumec and the catchment area of the river on the mountains is only 12,500 sq km.
  • Throughout its itinerary, the Tista River has formed canyons and narrow valleys in Sikkim rambling across the mountains with the hill station of Kalimpong situated just on the riverbanks. You will see diverse types of flora beside the itinerary of the river. At lesser heights, you will see tropical broad-leafed plants and bushes encompassing the hills nearby. At higher elevations, alpine plants are noticed. The Tista River has white sands on its side. This is an essential ingredient for the construction industry in the area. Big stones in and around the river waters make it a perfect place for river rafting fans.
  • Amid the townships of Lohapul and Rangpo, the river runs with an extremely mighty flow, which is right for whitewater rafting. Areas such as Melli and Tista Bazaar have amenities for river rafting in groups. In spite of the fact that the Teesta appears similar to a safe river, the underlying flows of the river are quite powerful. G.P. Robertson, the erstwhile Municipal Commissioner of Darjeeling, died after going berserk on the dinghy in the uproar at the time of inspecting the river. The boat hit a partly concealed stone and was drawn by a whirlpool, parting no hint of the riders. During the monsoon months, this modest river expands its riverbanks, both in terms of dimension and flow. Avalanches in these areas frequently block portions of the river in this period.

Brief history of Teesta river dispute-

  • In 1983, an ad hoc water-sharing agreement allocated 39% of the water flow to India and 36% to Bangladesh and remaining 25% was left unallocated for a later decision.
  • In 2011, during the visit of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka, plans had been confirmed of an interim arrangement of 15 years, with India getting 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of the river during dry seasons. The arrangement also included the setting of a joint hydrological observation station to gather accurate data for the future. The plans fell through when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opted out of the delegation led by Dr. Singh to Dhaka, expressing strong reservations against giving Bangladesh a greater share of water.
  • Hopes were renewed during Ms. Banerjee’s visit to Dhaka in February 2015 as the Bengal CM was seemed to be in favor of resolving the issue. Despite her reassurances, she continues to flip-flop on her stance on the share Bangladesh should get. 
  • Again during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015, Ms. Banerjee accompanied the delegation and positive expectations were rife on both sides. The Indian government accepted the new arrangement between India and Bangladesh, but Ms. Banerjee did not. Hence, the deal was not inked despite the willingness of central government. 

Reasons for the dispute over the sharing of water of Teesta River between India and Bangladesh-

  • Bangladesh’ lower riparian state woes- 83% of the river’s catchment lies in India and the remaining 17% in Bangladesh. More than one lakh hectares of land across five districts in Bangladesh are severely affected by upstream withdrawals of the Teesta’s waters in India.
  • Economic reasons- the agricultural and fishing community is dependent on the river in both West Bengal and Bangladesh. The river’s resources are thus a source of livelihood for many. West Bengal is dependent on the river for irrigation activities during dry summer months, a time when the river has a lean flow. On the other side of the border, fishing communities complain of fall in fishing activities, a major source of income for many in Bangladesh.

The Teesta River’s floodplain covers an area of 2,750 sq km in Bangladesh, supporting roughly 10 million people. Estimated one lakh hectares of land across five districts of Bangladesh are severely impacted and face acute shortages during dry seasons. Further 14% crop production is dependent on the flow of the river in Bangladesh.

  • Hydro- politics negotiations have been continued since 1983 when a preliminary arrangement allocated 39% for India and 36% for Bangladesh. The remaining 25% was left for later negotiations. In 2011, negotiations were renewed, but opposition from West Bengal’s government stalled the talks. This led to disillusionment in Bangladesh regarding India’s political will to actually sign an agreement.
  • Hydropower projects on the Teesta- There are about 26 projects on the river in Sikkim. This naturally makes Bangladesh anxious whose external water dependency for water is over 90% as per the FAO.
  • Mythical deterrents- as per observations by the think tank, Observer Research Organization (ORF), the Teesta River is revered as holy and mythical. Superstitious locals have attributed the 1968 flooding of river in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal as being the result of the wrath of the displeased river. Sharing waters of the river, then, for these locals who are highly dependent on the river, is beyond imagination. And public sentiment can hardly be ignored by politicians.

Way forward-

One of the solutions could be construction of giant artificial reservoirs, where the monsoon water can be stored for the lean season. The reservoirs need to be built in India as the country has some mountain-induced sites favorable to hosting dams with reservoirs.

In case of water sharing of Teesta river, India needs to take into account the concerns of the Bangladesh and should behave as ‘Elder Brother’ rather than ‘Big Brother’. The central government should take the quick steps to finalize the water sharing agreement as it would further strengthen the ties between two countries.

 


Topic:Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

2) With reference to the debate on the inclusion of Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in the CBSE curriculum, do you think it’s a right move? Discuss the arguments in favour and against inclusion of Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in schools. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The existing debate whether Sanskrit should be made compulsory part of curriculum shows that an unusually rich and scientifically developed language has not able to retain its acceptance in the land of its origin. Further supporters of Sanskrit argue that the language is more appreciated in other countries than India.

Importance of Sanskrit language-

Sanskrit is considered the most refined among languages. Its usability, as in its heyday, would span the vast arena of academic disciplines — math, physical, natural and material sciences, astronomy, medicine, astrology, philosophy, political science, literature and even the liturgical language of Hinduism, enabling interpretations of ceremonies and rituals.

Many in India reject references to academic works in Sanskrit due to their uneducated perception that these are merely antiquated, unscientific academic concepts; they associate these with religious rituals. It is tragic that with time, treatises on astronomy and mathematical sciences written by luminaries like Varahmihir, Aryabhatt, Bhaskaracharya, etc., became simply instruments for making astrological predictions.

Is including Sanskrit as a compulsory subject a right move?

Arguments in favor-

  • By making it compulsory, it would lead to assessing the relevance, versatility and usability of Sanskrit as a career option for aspiring generations.
  • The ancient history, sociology, politics, culture, philosophy, etc., of India can be understood with some degree of authenticity only with the knowledge of Sanskrit.
  • In the fields of musicology and other performing arts, knowledge of Sanskrit is essential. Sanskrit grammar is mathematical, which makes this language scientific and computer-friendly.
  • Inclusion in school curriculum would generate the interests among the students about Sanskrit language and help in its spread.
  • By neglecting the great language like Sanskrit for over centuries, making Sanskrit compulsory seems the only way for preserving and spreading the reach of the language.

Arguments against-

  • To know and appreciate ancient Indian wisdom, one does not have to learn Sanskrit. Just as, to read Aristotle or Plato, one need not know ancient Greek. Most great Sanskrit texts are available in English translation and in most of other Indian languages.
  • Forcing students to learn something does not work. It goes against every enlightened concept of education and individual choice. And it can only ensure that the student develops an antipathy for the subject.
  • Just having children study Sanskrit for a few years in school will achieve nothing. Even if student scores well in the exams, there is no guarantee that he/she will pursue the language in the future.
  • If Sanskrit is made mandatory, it will only be curtailing a student’s freedom and diminishing his/her joy of learning.

Way forward-

  • Rather than making it compulsory and imposing it on the students, the efforts should be taken to promote awareness about the language so that interested students would move towards it.
  • Career options should be opened in Sanskrit so that more numbers of students move towards it through profession point of view.
  • According to the committee for the revival of Sanskrit language under N Gopalaswami former CEC, if Sanskrit has to become popular, textbooks of all subjects — science, mathematics, social sciences — should be in Sanskrit.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

3) Despite the attempts by the government to bring international students to India, the experience of foreign students in India has been unpleasant. What are the reasons? How should government address this issue? Comment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

Recently foreign students, particularly from African nations have witnesses rise in violent attacks in India. India enjoys high reputation and goodwill among African nations and it is considered as better place for pursuing higher education. However societal and cultural prejudices of Indians have disappointed most of them and have shattered their dreams of enjoying free and open environment in India.

Reasons-

  • Most of the students from Africa face high degree of racial discrimination on account of their skin color. Most of them are tagged as drug peddlers, prostitutes or criminals and are denied even basic services in public places like Hotels, Restaurants, Malls etc.
  • While India has never been institutionally racist, in the way of pre-Civil Rights United States and the segregationist regime in South Africa, but a societal prejudice against the colour black is still deeply rooted and impossible to miss in the Indian psyche.
  • Further there has always been a yawning gap in awareness and education about Africa within our parochial curriculums, such that African countries, cultures and people in practice tend to get lumped into one bunch along with some age old, deeply negative stereotypes.
  • There are no mechanisms in our educational institutions to enable these students to settle down and flourish. The more concerning issue is that university authorities appear to be unaware of the need for these.
  • Majority of Indians suffer from a dark complexion disdain syndrome, where dark skin has long been simultaneously associated with both lower caste and lower class.

How government should address the issue?

  • The first step is that Indian government should accept that there exist deep rooted racial bias among Indians against people of black skin and stop calling attacks on Africans as isolated incidents.
  • State governments must be instructed by the Centre to see that African students are assured of their safety and all educational institutions must with immediate effect double-up the attention they devote to their personal needs, which range from housing to food.
  • India’s educational institutions need to create a sense of community which would create sense of belongingness among foreign students and prevent them from getting alienated.
  • The government really needs to create awareness against racism with the help of the local media in regional languages, the media houses and the radio stations.
  • The universities which attract large foreign student contingents should establish departments for transitions, appoint student counselors, engage in proactive settlement and acclimatization drives, conduct language courses and establish do’s and don’ts for foreign students.
  • The authorities concerned including police and civil administration should be more sensitive to the concerns of foreign students and should not discriminate against them while discharging their duties.
  • The student organization in universities should be encouraged to show a spirit of solidarity and fraternity with fellow students from all nations.
  • India needs institutional mechanism for changing stereotype attitude and discriminatory behavior towards the students from other countries especially from Africa. The institution should be tasked with creating sensitivity, solidarity and goodwill towards the foreign students particularly from Africa.

Conclusion-

By having discriminatory attitude towards the foreign national India does not only risks its international reputation but also its relations with those countries. Further these students contribute to the Indian economy through education, tourism etc. When all African countries are watching and rest of the world is listening, India needs to live up to its promise of providing safe and secure environment to students of all nations.


 

Topic:Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,

4) The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 27, 2017, has been hailed as a momentous reform. In the light of its salient features, discuss what challenges the Bill could face in its implementation and what needs to be done to overcome these challenges. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction-

The Mental Healthcare Bill 2016 seeks to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987. In 2007, India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires signatory countries to change their laws to give effect to the rights of persons with mental illness. It was believed that the 1987 Act did not adequately protect these rights, and a need was felt to provide them with better treatment and improve their access to health services.

What kinds of mental illness are covered under the Bill?

Mental illness was earlier defined as any mental disorder other than mental retardation. The Bill defines mental illness to mean a disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory. Such a disorder impairs a person’s behaviour, judgement, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet ordinary demands of life. This definition also includes mental conditions associated with substance abuse, and does not include mental retardation.

What is the population of the mentally ill in India?

There are no official estimates currently. In 2005, it was estimated that 6-7% of the population suffered from mental disorders, and about 1-2% suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Nearly 5% of the population suffered from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, real numbers could be higher, as mental illness often goes underreported due to the associated stigma. The World Health Organization has recently estimated that 1 in 4 persons will be affected by some form of mental illness once in their lifetime.

What are key rights being guaranteed under the Bill?

  • Manner of treatment:The Bill states that every person would have the right to specify how he would like to be treated for mental illness in the event of a mental health situation. An individual will also specify who will be the person responsible for taking decisions with regard to the treatment, his admission into a hospital, etc.
  • Access to public health care:The Bill guarantees every person the right to access mental health care and treatment from the government. This right includes affordable, good quality, easy access to services such as minimum mental health services in every district. Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment and protection from inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Suicide decriminalized:Currently, attempting suicide is punishable with imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine. The Bill decriminalises suicide. It states that whoever attempts suicide will be presumed to be under severe stress, and shall not be punished for it.
  • Insurance:The Bill requires that every insurance company shall provide medical insurance for mentally ill persons on the same basis as is available for physical illnesses.
  • Bill prohibits the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to mentally ill adults without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia, and contains provisions for care, treatment and rehabilitation for those who have experienced severe stress and attempted suicide.

Implementation challenges-

  • Funding issue- The Bill mandates the central and state governments to ensure access to mental health services in every district. These will include outpatient and inpatient services, hospitals, and community-based rehabilitation establishments. However, the financial memorandum of the Bill does not estimate the expenditure required meeting the obligations under the Bill nor does it provide details of the sharing of expenses between the central and state governments. Without the allocation of adequate funds, the implementation of the Bill could be affected. The Standing Committee examining the Bill had noted that public health is a state subject. Since several states face financial constraints, the central government might have to step in to ensure funds for the implementation of the law.

At the macro level, the proposed health expenditure of 1.2% of GDP in the Budget for 2017-18 is among the lowest in the world. In real terms, public health expenditure has consistently declined since 2013-14. Of the total health budget, a mere 1-2% is spent on mental health.

  • Poor infrastructure- There are only 43 government-run mental hospitals across all of India to provide services to more than 70 million people living with mental disorders. There are 0.30 psychiatrists, 0.17 nurses, and 0.05 psychologists per 1,00,000 mentally ill patients in the country. The case of the Bareilly mental hospital, one of three major mental hospitals in Uttar Pradesh stands out for its poor infrastructure. In this hospital, 350 patients can be admitted and around 200 patients can attend the out-patient department every day. But all these patients would be at the mercy of only one psychiatrist.
  • Lack of reporting of cases- Most of the cases remain unreported as mental disorder is considered as social stigma and lack of awareness among people complicates the problem.
  • Consent and safety issues of women- Often, all women and girls were admitted without their consent. Further Women and girls with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities in institutions are often subject to not just physical and verbal abuse but also sexual violence. The present Bill falls short to solve these problems.

Steps to overcome implementation challenges-

  • Funding- thought not explicitly made provision for funding, government should increase overall funding to health-sector to at least 4% of GDP. Further separate funds under this be allocated to mental healthcare to address problem of low funding.
  • Infrastructure- the dismal state of infrastructure stands as great barrier to the effective implementation of the bill. Government needs to create more Doctors, Nurses, Psychiatrists and Psychologists at least in proportion to the number of patients in the country. Further special attention must be provided to increase the hospitals, advanced equipments and should adopt best practices around the globe.
  • Behavioral changes- the government should promote the awareness about mental health diseases and should engage local organizations and civil society groups to remove social stigma associated with it. This would also increase the reporting of the cases that would truly address the real issue.
  • Safety provisions for women- there is need to increase the sensitivity among doctors and nurses about women patients. Further families of women patient’s needs to be counseled by experts about her well-being. Safety and security of women are most important in hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

 

Conclusion-

At a time when we are adopting rights based approach to the mental healthcare, it is important to see that these provisions are implemented on the ground efficiently. Central and state governments should address the issues of funding and infrastructure in quick time to ensure healthy outcomes of the act.

 


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

5) Discuss importance of bilateral cooperation between France and Australia with India respectively to the construction of a stable maritime order in the Ind0-Pacific region. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Indian Express

Introduction:-

INDIA FRANCE:-

  • At a grand strategic level, France and India’s interests in the Indian Ocean are closely aligned. Both countries have historically played an active custodial and humanitarian role throughout the region.
  • They share concerns over the risks of sea-borne nuclear proliferation, and with regard to malevolent non-state actors. The two republics uphold similar core values when it comes to freedom of navigation, and closely monitor the threats posed by certain revisionist actors to the security of sea lines of communication.
  • France’s interest in helping preserve stability in the Indian Ocean is aptly summarized in the 2013French White Paper, which describes the Indian Ocean as a transit region for international trade, and “at the heart of world strategic challenges.” France maintains a military presence in the Persian Gulf region, with air, naval, and ground forces in Abu Dhabi, as well as in the Horn of Africa, in Djibouti.
  • In addition to the basing of these military assets, Paris recognizes that the Indian Ocean Region’s strategic equilibrium can only be truly maintained once India has emerged as a more powerful naval actor, with a greater capacity for sustained operations at sea and power projection.
  • The annualVaruna naval exercises between India and France should therefore not solely be viewed through the prism of military diplomacy, but also as a deliberate French effort in regional capacity building.
  • In the future, the Persian Gulf is likely to become a region of increased military competition – whether conventional, nuclear or sub-conventional. A more institutionalized strategic dialogue between India and France with regard to Persian Gulf security might provide a good first step.
  • Finally, Paris and New Delhi should seek to enhance their cooperation in the field of maritime domain awareness and intelligence gathering.

Conclusion:-

There is clearly scope for both France and India’s diplomatic and intelligence communities to better coordinate on the challenge posed by dual-use infrastructure that is providing maritime infrastructure with dual access, particularly in Eastern Africa and the Southwestern Indian Ocean. Winning this competition will require the kind of holistic approach the Indian government has shown most recently in the Indian Ocean, using different kinds of tools – economic and developmental – to win over smaller littoral and archipelagic states, which, one must not forget, have their own agency and have proven adept throughout history at playing off one great power against another.

 

INIDA AUSTRALIA:-

  • Maritime watchers point out that Australia’s consistent efforts for a deeper, more purposeful maritime association with India have begun to bear fruit. Last year, at the special invitation of Australia, the Indian Navy sent its latest indigenous warship INSSahyadri to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) in Sydney 
  • It is the decision to hold a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015 that has been the most encouraging development in India-Australia maritime ties – especially since the last time the two navies engaged operationally was during Exercise Malabar in 2007.
  • Still, the maritime interaction between the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has yet to attain the critical mass needed for a self-sustaining relationship. While it is true that the two navies have worked together in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, joint maritime endeavors still lack the momentum needed for a durable partnership. The statements of intent have been encouraging, but they have yet to trigger operational cooperation in all areas of maritime security.
  • It is pertinent that Canberra’s options for maritime partnerships in the Indian Ocean are not limited to New Delhi. Australia recentlyannounced a partnership with Seychelles and Mauritius in a “blue economy” project in the Indian Ocean.
  • The centerpiece of the proposal is a plan for greater hydrocarbon exploration and better Australian technology to harvest renewable energy from the ocean’s waves. Conceivably, this might prove to be an expensive proposition for Australia. Nonetheless, by underwriting marine economy projects Canberra has shown it is willing to think imaginatively in nurturing its Indian Ocean ties.
  • The extent to which Canberra regards cooperation with New Delhi as critical for regional maritime security is clear from Australia’s 2013 Defence White Paper, which prioritizes relations with India and Indonesia. Interestingly, only a few months after the release of the White Paper, Australia released a Country Strategy Document on India thatidentified the Indian Navy as possessing the most potential for a close maritime partnership.
  • he two most important factors driving India-Australia maritime security cooperation are the growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean, and theconcept of the “Indo-Pacific.”
  • The imperative for India to cooperate with Australia is also driven by the fact that the latter is prominent in both the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), two multilateral institutions in which New Delhi has a significant stake.

Conclusion:-

There is a symbolism in the India-Australia maritime relationship that quietly but firmly reiterates New Delhi’s strategic imperatives – a need for presence in the Indo-Pacific, a security role in the region commensurate with India’s international stature and a power-projection capability that helps it secure its long-term commercial interests. More importantly, aligning with Australia in the Indo-Pacific reflects a strong political commitment for sustaining a framework of cooperative security in India’s near and extended maritime neighborhood.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic:Government Budgeting.

6) It is often argued that poor resourcing is part of the problem of poor policing, and that the police require a higher quantum of budgetary allocations. Do you agree? Critically discuss. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction:-

There is perceptible dissatisfaction with policing in India today. It is often argued that poor resourcing is part of the problem, and that the police require a higher quantum of budgetary allocations.

Reasons for such need:-

  • Understaffing:- Already recruited police force are under tremendous strain due to low police to population ration. India has138 police per 1 lack population. Hence there is need to increase manpower in police forces.
  • There is greater need to equip Indian police with the latest weapons, technology, training to deal with new challenges like 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
  • The infrastructure needed for modern day crime in India like cyberwarfare, newer intelligence technologies, forensic analysis requires higher budgetary allocation.
  • Upgradation if age old police stations in India is also a daunting task.

While the police need to be well-resourced, higher allocations by themselves are not enough. The structure of budgetary allocations can have a disproportionate impact on the operations of the department, and consequently on police performance. It is, therefore, useful to analyse how police departments structure their budgets, and the manner in which the budgetary allocations are actually spent.

Case Study:-

In Maharashtra Police. The data on budgets was collected from the Budget Estimation, Allocation and Monitoring System (BEAMS) of the department of finance under the government of Maharashtra. Our analysis suggests that budget outlays for the police only meet the establishment cost. Salary is the main component of budget, consuming almost 90% of the total allocation. The residual amount covers costs of domestic travel, maintenance of motor vehicles and petrol cost. Budgets, as they stand, barely allocate funds for operational expenses of running police stations, or maintenance costs for computer systems, arms and ammunition.

police budgets have focused solely on manpower. On an annual basis, budgets do not have allocations towards capacity building, and are not structured to achieve desired outcomes. The police also suffers from inadequate expenditure management. Expenses on items other than salary are not monitored frequently enough.

Way Forward:-

As with any budget, police budgets too need to be tied to outcomes. Broadly, the desired outcomes of policing are 1) safety and security of citizens; 2) collection of intelligence; 3) investigation of crime; and 4) sound public order. 

  • First and foremost, aligning budgets to these outcomes will require outlays to fully cover the office or operating expenses of the police station.
  • The second input to achieve these outcomes is to build capacity within the police. This may be through focused training to keep pace with the changing nature of crime and prevention techniques, or the creation of IT infrastructure for tracking cases to tackle delays due to mounting pendency.

Conclusion:-

The second input to achieve these outcomes is to build capacity within the police. This may be through focused training to keep pace with the changing nature of crime and prevention techniques, or the creation of IT infrastructure for tracking cases to tackle delays due to mounting pendency. 

 


TopicInfrastructure

7) Discuss the key provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and their significance. (200 Words)

Livemint

Introduction:-

The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to slap heavy penalty on traffic violators, check bogus driving licenses and vehicle thefts, promote e-governance The basic aim of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 is ‘to save human lives’, as a whopping five lakh accidents take place every year claiming around 1.5 lakh lives across the country.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016

 

Highlights of the Bill
  • The Bill amends the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to address issues such as third party insurance, regulation of taxi aggregators, and road safety.
  • Under the Act, the liability of the third party insurer for motor vehicle accidents is unlimited.  The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and at five lakh rupees in case of grievous injury. 
  • The Bill provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which would provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
  • The Bill defines taxi aggregators, guidelines for which will be determined by the central government.
  • The Bill also provides for: (i) amending the existing categories of driver licensing, (ii) recall of vehicles in case of defects, (iii) protection of good samaritans from any civil or criminal action, and (iv) increase of penalties for several offences under the 1988 Act.

Additional information/ significance:-

·        Higher Penalties

The bill increases the penalties for several offences. The minimum fine for being caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000 and for rash driving, it has been increased from ₹1,000 to ₹5,000.

Additionally, people found driving without a seat belt can be fined ₹1,000 and the penalty for driving without a helmet is a fine of ₹1,000 along with a 3-month suspension of the offender’s driving licence.

·        Cashless Treatment for Road Accident Victims

The bill instructs the central government to develop a scheme to provide cashless medical treatment to people injured in road accidents within the first hour of its occurrence. This clause has been included in recognition of the fact that the likelihood of saving the life of a severely injured person is the highest if medical attention is given within the first 60 minutes.

·        Increased Compensation for The Family of The Deceased

If an individual dies in a hit and run case, the central government is required to provide a compensation of ₹2 lakh or more to their family. Currently, the compensation provided for such cases is ₹25,000.

·        Inclusion of Good Samaritan Guidelines

The bill also incorporates the Good Samaritan guidelines which were issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and given the force of law by the Supreme Court on March 30, 2016, in their entirety. These guidelines protect Good Samaritans (bystanders who come forward, in good faith, to help road accident victims) from civil and criminal liability and make it optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.

 

·        National Transportation Policy

Under the bill, the central government is required to develop a ‘National Transportation Policy’ to establish a framework for road transportation planning, for granting of permits, and identify and set priorities for the road transport system. The policy is to be created in consultation with the various state governments.

·        Compulsory Insurance

Apart from new provisions that simplify the process of settling third party insurance claims and put a cap of ₹10 lakh for deaths and ₹5 lakh for injuries for insurer liabilities, one of the requirements in the bill is that the central government set up a ‘Motor Vehicle Accident Fund’. This will provide an automatic cover for all road accident victims in India. This is an incorporation a suggestion which was made by the Supreme Court in 2011 to provide compensation in instances of injuries and deaths due to hit and run cases and to people who just happen to be in a vehicle which meets with an accident.

·        Recognition of Offences Committed by Juveniles

The bill also covers traffic violations committed by juveniles and places the responsibility on their guardians or on the owner of the motor vehicle involved. They will be let off only if it is proven that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that all due diligence to prevent it was exercised. Apart from this, the registration of the motor vehicle in question will be cancelled. Juveniles themselves will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.

·        Automated Fitness Training for Vehicles

One of the new sections included in the bill pushes for the introduction of an automated process to test the fitness of motor vehicles by October 1, 2018. This move should do a better task of keeping unsafe vehicles off the road and reduce corruption in transportation departments. Such automated testing centres have already started coming up in different states and have computer-monitored tests for PUC (pollution under control) certification, speedometer calibration, brake adjustment, suspension testing and wheel alignment.

·        National Registry for Licenses and Registrations

To unify and streamline the process of issuing and documenting registrations and licenses issued, the bill formalises the creation of a ‘National Register for Driving License’ and a ‘National Register for Vehicle Registration’ through the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ existing Vahan (for vehicle registry) and Sarthi (for driving licenses) platforms.Launched in 2007, these online platforms have been working towards the creation of a centralized database and making the process of obtaining licenses and registrations swifter.

·        Electronic Monitoring

The bill has a provision that asks the government to ensure proper electronic surveillance on national and state highways and urban roads. The central government is supposed to create a comprehensive set of rules for this.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance, but does not cap the compensation amount that courts can award.  In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount.
  • Under the Act, compensation for hit and run victims comes from a Solatium Fund.  The Bill creates a new Motor Vehicle Accident Fund in addition.  With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear. 
  • State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines.  Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis.  There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators. 
  • While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified.  It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.
  • The Bill does not address several issues around road safety that have been highlighted by other committees such as: (i) creating road safety agencies, and (ii) improving road design and engineering.

 

Topic: Resource mobilization

8) Critically examine the potential of India’s tourism sector in generating foreign exchange earnings and jobs. (200 Words)

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Introduction:-

 Tourism in India is economically important and is growing rapidly. The World Travel & Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated ₹14.02 lakh crore (US$220 billion) or 9.6% of the nation’s GDP in 2016 and supported 40.343 million jobs, 9.3% of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.8% to ₹28.49 lakh crore (US$440 billion) by 2027 (10% of GDP). In October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020. In 2014, 184,298 foreign patients traveled to India to seek medical treatment

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) travel and tourism competitiveness index, released last week, showed that India had moved up 12 places and now ranks 40th among 136 nations globally. The report also noted that this was the largest leap made by any country in the top 50, thereby making India, with its rich and diverse cultural heritage and natural beauty, a prime candidate to lead the so-called Asian century in travel and tourism.

Critical aspect:-

  • According to the ministry of tourism, India hosted 8.89 million tourists last year compared to only 2.65 million tourists in 2000. But when compared with other countries, India’s performance leaves much to be desired. For example, while India hit an all-time high last year, it was still nowhere close to France, which topped the list of foreign tourist arrivals with 84.5 million visitors. The US (77.5 million) was second, followed by Spain (68.2 million), China (56.9 million) and Italy (50.7 million).
  • India’s foreign exchange earning from tourism has followed a similar pattern. In 2015, for example, India earned more than $23 billion in revenue from international tourism, a significant hike from the $3.5 billion it made in 2000. However, the US earned $204.5 billion from international tourists and China $114.1 billion, in 2015—making India’s $23 billion seem like chump change.
  • India’s many problems, such as cumbersome visa regulations, bad travel infrastructure, poor sanitation, collapsing law enforcement systems and concerns about women’s safety are hindering India from exploring the potential

Initiatives by the government for tourism promotion

  • ‘Hunar se Rozgar’ Programme A special initiative was launched in 2009-10 for the creation of employable skills among youth belonging to economically weaker sections of the society in the age group of 18-25 years (upper age limit raised to 28 years in November, 2010) with the basic objective to reduce the skill gap affecting the hospitality and tourism sector and to ensure the spread of economic benefit of tourism to the poor.
  • Visa on Arrival (VoA) Considering the importance of Visa facilities in enhancing tourist inflow, the facility of „Long Term Tourist Visas‟ of five years duration with multiple entry, carrying a stipulation of 90 days for each visit, has been introduced on a pilot basis for the nationals of the 18 selected countries.
  • Publicity and marketing strategy As part of its domestic and global publicity and marketing strategy to promote tourism and create social awareness through the print and electronic media, the Ministry of Tourism launched campaigns on Clean India, Atithi Devo Bhava and Hunar Se Rozgaar through radio channels. Campaigns highlighting the tourism potential of North-East and J&K were also carried out through Doordarshan. Campaigns were also taken up for “Incredible India” branding on TV during 2nd Formula Grand Prix and London Olympics, 2012, during the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Goa, and during the International India Film Academy (IIFA) Awards 2012 in Singapore.
  • NICHE TOURISM PRODUCTS The Ministry of Tourism has also taken the initiative of identifying, diversifying, developing and promoting the nascent/upcoming niche products of the tourism industry. This is done in order to overcome the aspect of „seasonality‟ to promote India as a 365 days destination, attract tourists with specific interests and to ensure repeat visits for the products in which India has comparative advantage. Accordingly, the following Niche Products have been identified by the Ministry of Tourism for development and Promotion: i) Cruise ii) Adventure iii) Medical iv) Wellness v) Golf vi) Polo vii) Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) viii) Eco- Tourism ix) Film Tourism
  • TIGER TOURISM As per the Supreme Court directions, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has issued guidelines for tourism activities in tiger reserves in the country. As per this guideline, no tourism activity is permitted in the core areas of Tiger Reserves. The Ministry of Tourism is in favour of regulated tourism in Protected Areas of the country. Tourism should be based on scientific carrying capacity and sustainability principles. The Ministry of Tourism does not favour a total ban in protected areas including Tiger Reserves. International Practices / best National practices should be taken into consideration by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in finalizing eco-tourism guidelines for Protected Areas
  • RURAL TOURISM Rural Tourism is essentially an activity which takes place in the countryside. It is multifaceted and may entail farm/agricultural tourism, cultural tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, and eco tourism. As against conventional tourism, rural tourism has certain typical characteristics: It is experience-oriented; the locations are less populated, it is predominantly in natural environments and it is based on the preservation of culture, heritage and traditions
  • AGRI- TOURISM Agri tourism is considered as the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry. The concept has been successfully implemented in states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. It has become a new avenue for earning the income for the rural farmers.
  • TOURISM IN THE NORTH EASTERN REGION The North- East has a wide array of products in the form of its pristine natural beauty, forests and wildlife, rivers and mountains, and a unique multiethnic cultural heritage to offer to the tourist

foreign tourist forex earnings

CONCLUSION

 To sum up, Indian tourism has vast potential for generating employment and earning large sums of foreign exchange besides giving a flip to the country‟s overall economic and social development. Much has been achieved by way of increasing air seat capacity, increasing trains and railway connectivity to important tourist destinations, four-laning of roads connecting important tourist centers and increasing availability of accommodation by adding heritage hotels to the hotel industry and encouraging paying guest accommodation. But much more remains to be done. Since tourism is a multi-dimensional activity, and basically a service industry, it would be necessary that all wings of the Central and State governments, private sector and voluntary organizations become active partners in the endeavour to attain sustainable growth in tourism if India is to become a world player in the tourist industry