Print Friendly, PDF & Email

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 April 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 22 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:  Colonization, decolonization, 

1) “Imperialism’s moral cloak has always been ‘humanitarianism.’” Critically comment. (200 Words)

EPW

Introduction-

Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or any other means. The post-World War II era saw the emergence of a new form of imperialism replacing colonialism. Having suffered huge loss of money and human life in the aftermath of colonial world wars, the colonial nations needed a better way to continue their dominance of the world which should not lead to wars, global or civil, yet again. Strategic acumen called for invoking overt moral rationale of humanitarianism to convince the greater world of their “genuine” intentions of peace and justice.

For all the interventions and colonisations, the big powers gave the rationale of Providential mission. They purported to contribute to the spread of civilization and the so called “Westernization of the Indigenous people”. The colonial powers felt that it was their duty to bring western civilization to what they perceived as backward cultures. Rather than merely governing their colony, they wanted to westernize people in colonies according to the western ideology known as assimilation.

Military intervention by US and other western powers on humanitarian grounds of protecting the civilians from incumbent governments and to wage a war against terrorism that too without UN sanctions. Militarism was the most preferred method for extending one’s control in other’s territory.

However, the imperialism was not only extended through the military power but also through the other means-

Economic imperialism- By economic aid, loans and technology transfer on the grounds of international humanitarian practices to solve the socio-economic problems like hunger and poverty in least developed countries. 

Dominance through the international institutes like IMF, WTO, WB etc where all the conditions of transfer of economic aid were based on capitalist model of development which happens to be the model of most advanced countries. 

Projecting western culture in polity (democracy), in economy (liberal economy) and in society (individualism) as the best order and any deviation from it as abnormal and a temporary disorder.

Data colonialism where NGOs and companies from advanced countries come to third world countries to collect data related to some social problems like malnutrition on the pretext to solve the problem. But use the data to make a lucrative product and sell back to these countries and even regulate trade in these products.

This trend can be seen in the contemporary times as well where super power countries like USA are trying to assert their powers to serve self-interests over resource rich destabilized countries like Afghanistan in the name of democratizing them. Similar cases are there in Iraq, Syria, Libya where self-interests are served wearing the moral cloak of humanitarianism.

The developing countries should work together to resist the humanitarian face of imperialism and to protect one’s sovereignty and integrity.

 


Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

2) What’s political philosophy? Discuss political philosophy of Dr Ambedkar. (200 Words)

EPW

Political philosophy-

  • Political philosophy,branch of philosophy that is concerned, at the most abstract level, with the concepts and arguments involved in political opinion. The meaning of the term political is itself one of the major problems of political philosophy. Broadly, however, one may characterize as political all those practices and institutions that are concerned with government.
  • The central problem of political philosophy is how todeploy or limit public power so as to maintain the survival and enhance the quality of human life. Like all aspects of human experience, political philosophy is conditioned by environment and by the scope and limitations of mind, and the answers given by successive political philosophers to perennial problems reflect the knowledge and the assumptions of their times.
  • Political philosophy, as distinct from the study of political and administrative organization, is more theoretical and normative than descriptive. It is inevitably related to generalphilosophy and is itself a subject of cultural anthropologysociology, and the sociology of knowledge. As a normative discipline it is thus concerned with what ought, on various assumptions, to be and how this purpose can be promoted, rather than with a description of facts—although any realistic political theory is necessarily related to these facts. The political philosopher is thus not concerned so much, for example, with how pressure groups work or how, by various systems of voting, decisions are arrived at as with what the aims of the whole political process should be in the light of a particular philosophy of life.
  • It involves the study of topics such aspoliticslibertyjusticepropertyrightslaw, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should take and why, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Political philosophy of Dr Ambedkar-

  • He closely followed the teachings of the Buddha and philosophical schools that claimed to be inheritors of Buddha’s teachings.
  • His philosophical interest revolved around
    • metaphysical questions such as the nature of the self and being human; relationship of the self with the other; nature and consciousness; causality; human telos; human action and its consequences, etc;
    • epistemological questions such as modes of and approaches to knowledge; the problem of subject and object; intersubjectivity and communication; truth, interpretation and social practices; the nature of scientifi c method; and
    • ethical questions, particularly the relationship between morality and regimes of rights on the one hand, and societal values and human freedom on the other. Certain concerns of political philosophy such as justice, liberty, equality, community, democracy, authority, legitimacy and recognition were his lifelong pursuits.

His philosophies on different topics-

  • Critical review of texts and historiography: Like many other Dalit–Bahujan thinkers, such as Jotirao Phule and Iyothee Thass before him, Ambedkar thought that it is important to reopen the question of interpreting texts and approaches to history. He challenged the credibility of many books and advocated rational thinking while referring any historical text.
  • Human equality: For Ambedkar, human equality is an overriding principle and his writings advance some of the most complex arguments in defence of this principle: The ethical norm of human equality makes place for worth rather than birth; does not assign people to fixed slots in advance; enables struggle against dominance, and advances a level-playing field to all against social prejudices.

Ambedkar was very critical of liberal democracy for its inability to institute equality in any meaningful sense, and sometimes thinks that the rise of fascism has much to do with the yawning inequalities in societies subscribing to this political perspective.

He finds notions such as equality before law and equality of treatment inadequate to encompass equality, and suggests that equality means treating people as equals by factoring in the entire gamut of social relations they are subject to. He also feels that much of inequality is scripted by assigning people to stigmatised groups, and the voices of such groups and their demands are then made integral to considerations of equality.

  • State and democracy: State as an organised power that claims for itself sovereignty can be envisaged as an instrument of dominance but also as a collective resolve for the furtherance of a set of objectives.

In the latter sense, Ambedkar thought that the state can be a civilising agency and a resource to undermine dominance. Since all resolutions could prove tentative, state as the collective power and resolve of the society need to be in place to ensure that the collective resolve is in place.

It makes Ambedkar inveigh strongly against such propositions as the withering away of the state. The principle that should guard over the state is democracy.

Democracy as a way of life charts a course independent of the state, redefining the scope and place of the latter. But democracy also contends against the pervasive presence of power in everyday life and transforms it into self-regulation.

Ambedkar attempted to reformulate the idea of democracy, by trying to rescue it from the economistic binary of liberal and social democracy, and proposing it as the only defensible mode of public life appropriate for human dignity and equality.

Democracy is not merely an institutionalised arrangement, which of course it is, but the only way of life befitting human fulfilment. It makes people reach out to others, and lets others reach out to them, thereby, bringing collective resources to bear on one’s striving.

  • Need for religion: Ambedkar affirmed strongly the “necessity for a religion” and quoted Edmund Burke, to say, “True religion is the foundation of society, the basis on which all true civil government rests, and both their sanction”. He rejected the liberal idea that religion is a private affair, but saw it as the anchor that holds a society together. He felt that religious ideals, in general, have a hold on mankind, irrespective of an earthly gain, that secular ideas never have.

At the same time he distinguished between “true religion” and a false one. The former is based on “principles” while the latter appeals to rules and rituals. The former is centred on society and appeals to morality, while the latter is centred on the individual and makes morality an instrument of one’s purpose. A true religion cannot come in the way of man’s search for himself, dwarfing him against a transcendental benchmark.

  • Cultural question and social relations: Ambedkar did not endorse a position that there are two opposed cultures pitted against each other in India or elsewhere, although culture is widely employed as a mode of dominance and to sustain servility of large masses.

Cultures are not seamless entities out there, but ways of life, beliefs, values and institutions that need to be revisited by foregrounding the human and the principles of equality, liberty, democracy and morality.

Ambedkar thought that power is dispersed across the entire ensemble of social relations. It is manifest in everyday relations either in the way of directing a course of action or simply in the complex structures of everyday life, division of labour, access to resources and opportunities, linguistic usages, signs and symbols. “Religion, social status and property are all sources of power and authority”

  • The self and human agency: Ambedkar, taking a cue from Dewey initially and Buddha later, denied any essentialised conception of the self. We constitute ourselves, in a way, in and through the social world that we inhabit, through all the stimulations that we are exposed to and responding to them in turn.

A society can enhance or mar the prospects of human realisation. It can condemn people to the netherworld of untouchability or slavery, or open up the prospects of human fulfilment by letting people access its resources as equals and extending support in this endeavour through supports.

Above all, there is a celebration of human agency and its transformative potentiality in Ambedkar’s writings.6 While social relations of oppression subdue and even deny human agency there are familial and community relations, protest traditions such as those inspired by the Buddha, Kabir or Phule, and even negative sociality that can prove a trigger not merely to inspire a person to act but precipitate collective transformative action. In this context, it is important to recall his advice to Dalit activism—“educate, agitate, organise.”

 


General Studies – 2


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

3) ‘Recent unfortunate attacks on doctors are not just a law and order problem, rather they should be treated as “wake up calls,” symptoms of a deep health system malaise, embedded in an increasingly troubled social milieu.’ Discuss. (200 Words)

EPW

Context-

Maharashtra has witnessed a spate of attacks by attendants of patients on front line doctors in public hospitals across the state in March 2017. This precipitated a major strike by over 4,000 resident doctors, which was supported by the 40, 000-strong Indian Medical Association (IMA) in the state.

The notable part in this process was that all major parties involved—the doctors’ associations, the government, and the court—treated these attacks purely as a security issue. Thus, government needs to focus into deeper health system issues that must also be addressed.

India’s public health system is plagued with complex issues-

  • The per capita public health expenditure is abysmally low in India. Further these are wide variations among the states. Thus, it has become major reason for poor healthcare services in India.
  • As per the health sector deficiencies there is an inadequacy of hospital staff, beds, doctors, paramedics, along with long queues of patients, which gives an impression of doctor and system apathy to the distressed patient and her family.
  • Low stipend/salaries of resident doctors and long working hours-this leads to lack of empathy and sensitive communication by doctors. Further there are serious shortages of specialist doctors in the public hospitals that are functioning.
  • Rapid privatization of healthcare has kept little incentives for the public healthcare system to improve.
  • It should be noted that massive, unregulated proliferation of the private medical sector has contributed to the situation, where even specialist doctors graduating from public medical colleges are pulled away by the magnet of private hospitals.
  • Another important factor that contributes to the breakdown of communication and trust in the context of public hospitals is the lack of effective patient guidance and redressal systems. Patients and relatives from rural areas, who travel long distances to the district hospital located in an unfamiliar setting, require systematic information and support, which are often lacking.
  • Finally, at a social level, there seems to be a general decline in levels of tolerance and a greater tendency to indulge in group violence, which is manifesting in many forms. It is ironic that with the dismantling of the welfare state through neo-liberal policies, one of the most visible symbols of welfare, namely, public hospitals, are emerging as targets.

Conclusion-

All these points show that attacks on Doctors are in fact attacks on the poor public healthcare system in India. The government should quickly address the issues pertaining to the low and inefficient health delivery system to minimize such attacks in future.

Despite being a state with relatively high per capita income (fifth highest among major Indian states), Maharashtra, spending `831 per capita, figures towards the bottom when states are ranked by per capita public health expenditure

 


Topic:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

4) Discuss critically how cow-slaughter ban affects various stakeholders. (200 Words)

Down to Earth

Introduction:-

 Cattle slaughter in India is a historically taboo subject because of the cow’s traditional status as a respected creature of God in HinduismDairy products are extensively used in Hindu culture and are one of the most essential nutritional components of Hindu meals. Article 48 of the Constitution of India mandates the state to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. On October 26, 2005, the Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in India. 24 out of 29 states in India currently have various regulations prohibiting either the slaughter or sale of cows. Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim are the states where there are no restrictions on cow slaughter.

There are various stakeholders involved in the process and the ban has affected them in various ways:

Cow and milch animals

Cattle rearers /farmers

Supply chain network/middlemen

Slaughter houses

Their customers: Food processing units,

Tanneries, Leather industry, Food Outlets,

Meat retailers

Common man

cow belt

Impact of cow slaughter:-

  • It would directly impact the livelihoods of millions of people involved in this industry ,who would loose jobs and would have difficulties in finding new job as most of them are unskilled.
  • Heavy impact on other industries which depend on cow meat as raw materials such as food processing industry, leather and footwear industry etc. which would be affected by lower supply in market and since most of these are MSME’s and informal sector, the effect would trickle down to the economy as a whole and would discourage investment and modernisation of the sectors which bring huge amount of forex through exports.
  • Farmers will be affected directly as they wouldn’t be able to supplement their income by selling of non productive milch cattle ,which they cannot sustain and thus the increased stray cattle population could further distress the farmer.
  • The lower strata of society which earlier depended on much cheaper beef meat for food had to bear the cost of ban and would be forced to change their food habits.
  • Thus, lower focus on cattle processing sector would lead to under-development of cattle care technologies and would also lead to increase in stray cattle population.
  • The state is reflecting its majoritarian face by divorcing accountability and legitimacy. this is due to fringe elements taking charge of law and getting protection by the very law. Also there is loss of revenue of meat export.
  • Polarization and a sense of hatred is being perpetrated in society. Resorting to violence is one manifestation of this. Bringing religion at society level only divides. So society is at loss because the communal fabric is being disrupted. The cases like Dadri lynching are indications of it.
  • People who are well versed with illegal and underground marketing can take advantage of the situation and create black market which will be even more difficult to regulate. The incidences of cattle smuggling can be seen.

Conclusion :-

In order to protect the religious sentiments of a particular sections of society an altogether ban can’t be justified owing to the fact that over 70 % of Indian population is non vegetarian and such blanket ban will hugely affect all stakeholders. Its better to find out ways through consultation and a regulation is always better than complete ban.

 


Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

5) Recently, the Telangana assembly passed a law increasing the reservation for OBC Muslims in jobs and education from 4 per cent to 12 per cent. Is this law justified? Critically comment. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :-

 Telangana assembly passed a law increasing the reservation for OBC Muslims in jobs and education from 4 per cent to 12 per cent. It asked the Centre to include the 62 per cent reservation in the state in the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule — on the pattern of Tamil Nadu, which has 69 per cent reservation. The 50 per cent cap on reservation is a judicial innovation and is not mentioned in the Constitution. Ninety per cent of Telangana’s population is SC/ST and OBC; so, the 50 per cent limit is irrational in the state’s case. Since two five-judge benches and one seven-judge bench of the Hyderabad High Court had struck down reservation for Muslims earlier, the state government is keen to get its new reservation law inserted in Schedule Nine, which, as the law stands today, gives some protection against, but not complete immunity from, judicial review.

Background:-

  • In 2004, the Andhra Pradesh government directed its Commissionaire of Minority Welfare to submit a report on the social, economic and educational backwardness of the Muslim community. A government order was issued on the basis of the Commissionerate’s report in 2004 providing 5 per cent reservation for the entire Muslim community, treating it as a backward class. The High Court struck down this reservation in the T. Muralidhar Rao case (2004) on the technical ground that the Backward Classes Commission was not consulted.
  • In compliance with the directive, the state referred the issue to the Backward Classes Commission. Based on the commission’s report, the state government promulgated an ordinance in 2005, declaring the entire Muslim community as backward. It provided 5 per cent reservation to the community. The High Court again struck down this reservation in the B. Archana Reddy case (2005) on the ground that while the benefit was extended to the entire Muslim community, the Backward Classes Commission had not identified the community’s social backwardness properly. The five-judge bench, though, reiterated that there was no bar on declaring Muslims, as a community, socially and educationally backward, provided they satisfy the test of social backwardness.
  • To meet these gaps, the state referred the matter to the Backward Classes Commission again and legislated an act in 2007. But the High Court refused to accept the Commission’s recommendations, again arguing that it had failed to evolve scientific criteria to determine Muslim relative backwardness. However, the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case did hold that the “Muslim community as a whole may be found socially backward”.

The law is justified on following grounds:-

  • Technically speaking, the latest legislation cannot be called reservation for Muslims as the benefits will not accrue to all Muslims in the state. They will only be for some Muslim castes such as butchers, carpenters, gardeners and barbers. Similar occupational castes among the Hindus enjoy the benefits of reservation. The legislation passed by the Telangana assembly will thus benefit certain classes identified on the basis of social and educational backwardness. Strictly speaking, such reservation will not be against Article 15(1) of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination “only on the basis of religion”.
  • The Backward Classes Commission headed by B.S. Ramulu approved the findings of the G. Sudhir Commission (2016) which rightly found the 11 yardsticks for determining backwardness laid down by the Mandal Commission, and approved by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case, outdated. The parameters for reservation laid down in the Indra Sawhney case need to be reviewed.
  • In fact, the call for an objective review of the reservation policy. In the Jat reservation case, the apex court has pointed out that new parameters to determine backwardness need to be evolved and we should move away from caste-centric parameters.
  • Accordingly, the Sudhir Commission has come up with an “index of deprivations” of all communities to show that while Hindu SCs/STs have an overall deprivation level of 82.8 per cent in Telangana, Muslims OBCs are next on the index with a score of 69.5 per cent. Hindu OBCs are doing much better with a deprivation index of 50.2 per cent — others have an extremely low deprivation index of just 20.5 per cent. Thus, on most  indicators, Muslims in Telangana have a  relatively high deprivation level.

Issues involved:-

  • It may create a furore among OBCs to improve their stake in the reservation citing that their population in the state is over 50% and they’d hence need a proportional reservation. Same may be the case with people from other minorities asking for their quota to be increased.
  • With Telangana govt taking cue from Tamil Nadu’s 69% reservation and demanding for inclusion in the Ninth Schedule, other states may follow suit and pressurise the Centre especially during elections, thus resulting in votebank politics.
  • There’d be further insecurity amongst the people from the Upper castes who are economically backward about getting admissions into colleges and in government jobs with this increase.
  • As the quota increase is for a particular religion, this may induce polarisation too.
  • Use of 9th Schedule: Now to preclude judicial review states has requested to include the bill in the 9th schedule which is immune from the judicial review. But this type of exclusion encourages the archaic and arbitrary laws.

Conclusion:-

Though this reservation may increase the number of OBC muslims in the govt job sector and in govt colleges, the problem is that once the reservation is provided, it doesn’t come with an expiry date. Just like the way, the caste based reservations aimed at uplifting the marginalized communities which were to stay only for a period of 10 years are still present. Increasing the quota will not address the source of the problem. Successful implementation of better education facilities, healthcare thus improving the overall quality of life would be an ideal way to tackle the problem.

 


Topic:Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

6) Comment on the changes made to Lokpal Act and its delay in operationalisation. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :-

 Since its passage the implementation of Lokpal act has marred with many difficulties like absence of leader of opposition in selection panel, various structural issues, controversy over search committee etc which are causing delays. Now government has amended the act leading to its dilution.

The Lokpal act 2014:-

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters. The act extends to whole of India, including Jammu & Kashmir and is applicable to “public servants” within and outside India. The act mandates for creation of Lokpal for Union Lokayukta for states
  • Composition of Lokpal

The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing. Lokpal is a multimember body, made up of one chairperson and maximum of 8 members.

  • Who can become the Chairperson?

The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either of the following: Either the former Chief Justice of India Or the former Judge of Supreme Court Or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

  • Who can become a member?

Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members. Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC / ST / OBC / Minorities and women. The judicial member of the Lokpal should be__ either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High .The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

  • Who cannot become the chairperson?

The following persons cannot become chairperson of Lokpal: MPs and MLAs Persons convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude Less than 45 years of age Members of Panchayats or Municipality A person who was removed or dismissed from the public service A person who holds any office of trust / profit; if so, he would need to resign from Lokpal A person who is affiliated to a political party Carries on some business / profession; if so, he would need to quit some business

  • Appointment of Chairperson and members

The members are to be appointed by President on the recommendations of a selection committee. This selection committee is made up of_: Prime Minister—Chairperson; Speaker of Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him / her One eminent jurist

  • Term of Office: The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till attaining age of 70 years. The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of chairperson are equivalent to Chief Justice of India and members is equivalent to Judge of Supreme Court. If the person is already getting the pension (for being a former judge), the equivalent pension amount will be deducted from the salary. The source of salary for Lokpal and Members is Consolidated Fund of India. If the chairperson dies in office or has resigned from the post, President can authorise the senior-most Member to act as the Chairperson until new chairperson is appointed. If chairperson is not available for certain functions due to leave, his job will be done by senior most member.
  • Post retirement jobs: Once a Lokpal chairperson / member has ceased to be so, he cannot take up the following jobs: He cannot be reappointed as chairperson / member of Lokpal Cannot take any diplomatic assignment Cannot be appointed as administrator to a Union Territory Any constitutional / statutory post in which appointment is made by President Any other office under the government of India He cannot contest any of the elections such as President / Vice President / MLA / MLC/ Local bodies for 5 years after relinquishing the post.
  • Officials of Lokpal

There are three important officers of Lokpal. They are appointed by Lokpal Chairperson. Secretary to Lokpal Director of Inquiry Director of Prosecution There is one secretary appointed by the chairperson from a panel of names sent by central government. The Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution cannot be below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India. These officials will also be appointed by chairperson.

  • Inquiry Wing of Lokpal

According to the act, the Lokpal would constitute an Inquiry Wing, which is to be headed by Director of Inquiry. Its function is to conduct the preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

  • Prosecution Wing

According to the act, the Lokpal by notification would constitute a Prosecution Wing. This wing will be headed by the Director of Prosecution for the purpose of prosecution of public servants.

  • Jurisdiction of Lokpal

The following come under the jurisdiction of Lokpal: Prime Minister of India, under certain conditions as stipulated in the adjacent box. All ministers of the Union Members of Parliament except for matters related to article 105 of constitution. (that is anything said or a vote given by him in Parliament) Group ‘A’ or Group ‘B’ officers Group ‘C’ or Group ‘D’ officials Any person who is or has been in-charge (director / manager/ secretary) of anybody / society set up by central act or any other body financed / controlled by central government. Any other person involved in act of abetting, bribe giving or bribe taking

  • Lokpal Benches

A Lokpal Bench will be constituted by the Chairperson with two or more members. Every Lokpal Bench has to have at least half members as judicial members. If bench consists of Chairperson, it will be headed by him. If the bench does not consist of chairperson, it will be headed by a judicial member only. The Lokpal benches will sit in New Delhi or any other places as decided by Lokpal. The benches can be constituted and reconstituted by Chairperson time to time.

  • How Lokpal works?

Here is a simple account of how Lokpal works. Lokpal first of all receives a complaint. On receiving the complaint, it needs to decide if it would proceed further. Once it decides to proceed further, it would order a preliminary inquiry by either its own Inquiry Wing or other agency such as Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI). The Preliminary enquiry has to be done within ninety (90) days of receiving complaint. It can be increased to further 90 days for reasons recorded in writing. Thus, preliminary enquiry has to be done in 6 months. The preliminary inquiry would ascertain if there is prima facie a case to proceed further. Now, here is a loop. If the complaint is related to Group A to Group D officers, Lokpal would refer the complaint to CVC. CVC will inquire and do as follows: In case of Group A and B officers, it would make a report and submit it to Lokpal In case of Group C and D Officers, it would itself proceed as per CVC act 2003. The Inquiry Wing or CBI can do the search and seizure operations etc. They would make a report and this report will be taken up by a Lokpal bench of minimum 3 members. This bench will give an opportunity to the allegedly corrupt officer to be heard of. After this, the following three alternatives will be there to proceed for: If the officer is guilty, Lokpal will grant sanction to its Prosecution Wing or CBI to file charge sheet against him. It can also direct initiation of departmental proceedings. If the officer is found innocent, Lokpal would direct the closure of report before the Special Court against the public servant and now would proceed against the complainant for making false complaints.

  • Powers of Lokpal

The Lokpal has following powers: It has powers to superintendence over, and to give direction to CBI. If it has referred a case to CBI, the investigating officer in such case cannot be transferred without approval of Lokpal. Powers to authorize CBI for search and seizure operations connected to such case. The Inquiry Wing of the Lokpal has been vested with the powers of a civil court. Lokpal has powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances Lokpal has powers to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption. Lokpal has power to give directions to prevent destruction of records during preliminary inquiry.

  • Special Courts

On the recommendation of the Lokpal, the Central Government shall constitute Special Courts to hear and decide the cases arising out of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or under Lokpal Act. Such courts are required to finish each trial within a period of one year from the date of filing of the case in the Court. This one year period may be extended for 3 months by recording in writing.

  • Complaints against the Lokpal

According to section 37 of the act, the Lokpal shall not inquire into any complaint made against the Chairperson or any Member of its own institution. The chairperson or member can be removed from his office by President on grounds of misbehaviour after a Presidential reference to Supreme Court on a petition signed by 100 MPs. However, President can also remove the chairperson / members under exceptional circumstances such as if they are adjudged insolvent; or take a paid job or is / are unfit because if infirm mind or body in the opinion of president.

  • Other Important Notes Lokpal will prepare its budget and forward it to central government. All charges related to expenses of Chairperson / members/ Director of Inquiry / Director of Prosecution will be charged on Consolidated Fund of India. The accounts of Lokpal will be audited by CAG. Each member / officer of Lokpal will need to declare his assets on taking up Lokpal Offices. Lokpal will prepare an annual report which it would submit to President who in turn will get the report laid to each House of Parliament. Lokpal is to function as appellate authority for appeals arising out of any other law for the time being in force. Public officials have been given immunity against anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done in the discharge of his official functions or in exercise of his powers. Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal are deemed to be public servants. Lokpal will not entertain any complaint, if the complaint is related to an offense that dates as back as 7 years or more. Civil Courts have been barred in respect jurisdiction of any matter under Lokpal.
  • Lokayukta

Every State shall establish a Lokayukta by an state act, if it has not done so as of now.

  • What is not there in our Lokpal act?

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act is perhaps the only legislation in the history of independent India, which has been so widely discussed, both inside and outside Parliament and has, thus generated so much awareness in the public mind about the need to have an effective institution of Lokpal to tackle corruption. However, the act passed hitherto is verbose, full of negatives and has numerous cross references. Still, here are a few things which are absent from this law: No protection to whistle blowers: This was one of the main demands in the Janlokpal Bill. The recently passed act has not at all provisions for whistle blower protection. We have to have a separate law for that. There is only one section on Lokayukta in the act which says that within one year, the states shall enact the Lokayukta act. However, there is nothing regarding their composition, powers etc. In fact, states are free to define how their own Lokayuktas would be appointed, how they would work and under what circumstances they would serve. The Lokpal act brings the PM under its jurisdiction, yet the Judiciary has been left. Judiciary is NOT subject to Lokpal jurisdiction. The provisions of the act have become anomalous because of Lokpal’s relations with the CBI. Under the provisions of the act, Lokpal has been vested with all powers related to only tose cases which it refers to CBI. Instead, there was a long demand that CBI should be merged with Lokpal. The current provisions are open to misuse. There are no provisions related to Citizen’s charter. There are no adequate provisions to appeal against the Lokpal. Lokpal cannot conduct inquiry against itself.

  • Additional Notes: Prime Minister under Lokpal According to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, the PM comes within the jurisdiction of Lokpal but Lokpal will not inquire the PM if the allegation of corruption is related to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. Further, allegation against Prime Minister can be taken up for inquiry only when the two conditions as follows are satisfied: Full bench of the Lokpal consisting of its Chairperson and all Members considers the initiation of inquiry At least two-thirds of its members approves of such inquiry Such inquiry against the Prime Minister will be done in camera. If the Lokpal concludes that the allegation is false and the inquiry should be dismissed, the records of the inquiry shall not be published or made available to anyone.

Recent changes made:-

  • Asset Declaration: Original law had the provision mandating asset declaration by public servant and her family and related children but amendment bill has empowered the central government to prescribe form and manner for asset disclosure.
  • Parliamentary standing committee: Despite promising the bill is not been sent to the parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny.
  • Prosecution: Original bill had provision pertaining to prosecution in which Lokpal had powers to permit the prosecution of government officials but amended bill has necessitated to take permission from the government to prosecute the government officials working as well as retired.
  • CBI director appointment: Same requirement of LoP was required for the CBI director appointment but bill has amended and appointment has been done, this can be done in appointment of Lokpal also.

Conclusion :- A speedy set up and functioning of Lokpal is the much awaited and need of the hour. Government must shoe utmost political will to implement it without dilution in order to send a strong signal about its commitment to wipe out corruption.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic: Agriculture issues; Inclusive development

7) Are farm loan waivers panacea for the deep-rooted agrarian crisis in general and rural indebtedness in particular? Critically examine. (200 Words)

EPW

Introduction :-

 After two consecutive drought years, though the south-west monsoon was normal in most parts of India, there is a severe drought in particular parts of the country due to the failure of the north-east monsoon. The central government has declared eight states—Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh—as drought-affected. In January 2017, the Tamil Nadu government declared the state to be drought-affected and waived cooperative bank loans of small and medium farmers (who comprise around 92% of all farmers in the state). Later, a high court order directed the state government to waive cooperative bank loans of all farmers (30% of the total cooperative bank loans were given to larger farmers). Today, Tamil Nadu farmers are demanding further relief from the central government in the form of a waiver of farm loans from nationalised banks and better compensation for crop failure. The newly-elected Uttar Pradesh government has declared a farm loan waiver expected to cost the state government ₹36,359 crore.

Loan Waiver:-

A loan waiver is the waiving of the real or potential liability of the person or party who has taken out a loan through the voluntary action of the person or party who has made the loan. Examples of loan waivers include the Stafford Loan Forgiveness program in the United States and the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme in India.

Agrarian crisis in India:-

Starting in the 1990s, agriculture in India — particularly in rural India — has declined at a devastating rate. This has had a calamitous impact on the livelihoods associated with agriculture. Symptoms of this agrarian distress, unprecedented in post-Independent India, is a high rate of suicides amongst farmers. The crisis is characterised by low institutionalised credit to small farmers, predatory lending, lowering farm productivity and deepening indebtedness amongst small farmers.

Between 1995 and 2014 2,96,438 farmers have committed suicide in India. On average, 3,685 farmers in the state took their lives every year between 2004-13.

According to P. Sainath, a leading Indian journalist who reports on the rural India and its unprecedented economic crisis, for the first time as per 2011 Census of India urban India added more to its population than rural India. This implies that millions of people earlier engaged in agriculture are roaming around the India in “footloose migration” search for daily wages. This points to the destruction of livelihoods in the predominantly agrarian rural India. Another evidence for a major agrarian crisis in India is the very high rate in which people are leaving occupations associated with farming

What is Rural Indebtedness?

Indebtedness means an obligation to pay money to another party. In rural India the poor farmers and wage labours etc. when are unable to repay a loan and accumulate it, gives rise to the problem of rural indebtedness.

Rural indebtedness is an indicator of the weak financial infrastructure of our country, which includes inability of our economic system to reach to the needy farmers, landless people in the villages and the agricultural wage labourers. The farmers borrow loan for either agricultural operations or some other uses like supporting the family in the lean season or to buy equipment’s.

Due to lower income or wasteful expenditures when the farmers are unable to pay the loans they are unable to pay off their debts and thus accumulate the debt as well as pending interest on the amount. The weaker ‘financial inclusion’ in India has given the local money lenders an opportunity to exploit such farmers from generations to generations.

Its important to provide waiver sometimes as :-

  • Loan waiver is relief for small and marginal farmers from the indebtedness and they can borrow more for the preparation of the new crop; farmers also can invest in new machinery like water pump etc.
  • Loan waiver also gives breathe for farmers to start new small business such as dairy, fishery etc.
  • Loan waivers in extreme environmental conditions is legitimate owing to governments failures on irrigating lands, scientific advancements in agriculture etc.

Farm waivers are not the panacea for agrarian crisis and rural indebtness as:-

  • As highlighted by RBI governor such steps acts as moral hazard and also deter capable farmers from paying back the loan. Also the cost on exchequer of government is ultimately passed on to the public.
  • A one time farm waiver definitely provides immediate relief but doesn’t provide any mechanism to strengthen the financial position of farmer and initiates a vicious cycle of distress.
  • Conditions like poor milk production in Maharashtra due to drought last year remains unaddressed by such schemes.
  • Reactive schemes like this divert huge government resources and leaves little for infrastructural development in agriculture sector.
  • Indebtedness of farmers is not only due to crop failures but from huge spending on social functions, disease, accidents etc. , hence to make them resilience towards such events multidirectional approach is needed
  • Loan waivers cost very high to government exchequer that money could have routed to structural reforms of agriculture which will increase farmers income.
  • It also gives rise to populist tendencies in government.

 
Also it doesn’t addressed these deep rooted problem in Indian agriculture:-

  • Low farm income:Which is as result of falling land holding, low yield, lack of processing and corruption. Farm waiver is not a solution for this. What we need is better land records& lower population dependency through diversification of rural employment, greater R&D, infrastructure for processing and storing and efficient institutional arrangements respectively to increase farm income and reduce indebtedness
  • Access to Capital: Financial inclusion is a must with a special focus on small and marginal farmers. Local capital at usurious rate is a major cause of agrarian distress and rural indebtedness that needs to be addressed.
  • Insurance:Higher dependency of Indian agriculture on rain coupled with lack of wherewithal to deal with natural disasters warrants higher penetration of a more comprehensive and farmer friendly insurance policy to address agrarian distress and rural indebtedness. This becomes even significant in the wake of impacts of climate change.
  • Lack of diversification: Monoculture with low focus on horticulture, animal husbandry, aquaculture, agro-forestry see poor adoption. This are vital to ensure that farmer has multiple source of avenues and is not affected by agrarian distress in one aspect and further issue of indebtedness.
  • Uneven access to subsidies: small farmers don’t take up subsidy schemes due to lack of awareness and means creating a lacuna between the economic status of small and large farmers.
  • Skewed landownership patterns: because land gets divided among the children of a farmer this leads to skewed small landholdings.
  • Inefficient government schemes: the government usually unaware of the ground realities offer only populist schemes which do very little to change the socio -economic status of the farmer.
  • Less R&D: due to very less R&D in agriculture field, the farmers remain in bad conditions. If proper research is done then such crops can be cultivated which would require less water, will be lesser prone to diseases etc.
  • Low returns: agriculture even though has employs almost 50 percent people yet its share in GDP is very

Conclusion:­

There are a host of other factors that have adversely affected the “balance sheets” of Indian farmers. While costs of production continue to rise, returns remain low and uncertain. Markets for agricultural produce in India and the world over are imperfect and volatile. Dwindling farm incomes and rural indebtedness need to be understood in this light. Unless concerted efforts are made to address these systemic problems, little will be achieved to break this vicious cycle. Loan waivers are band-aid solutions at best. They offer temporary relief. The more permanent solutions remain to be addressed.