SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 June 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: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
Class is a social identity of an individual. Three such prominent identities are – low, middle and high class. Now a new class seems to be emerging from the middle class named as “new middle class”. The huge lower middle class, has led new middle class expansion in quantitative terms.
Definition of middle class itself is not clear and difference between it and it’s new variant is more sketchy. It is largely based on income and consumption level of the person. This class consists of people who spend $2 to$10 per capita per day.
GROWTH of NMC –
- It is attributed to rise in income levels due to open trade, expansion of service economy, rise in average education level, spread of IT, societal reforms, released caste barriers and changed dietary habits.
- It’s growth is not confined to a particular time but is perceived largely since 1991 economic reforms.
- In the initial period between 1999–2000 and 2004–05, growth of the new middle class was modest. In the latter period from 2004–05 to 2011–12, the size of the new middle class almost doubled, totalling over 600 million individuals, or half of India’s population.
- Moreover, this expansion was witnessed across both rural and urban areas, as well as in a majority of the states of India.
The increase in consumption level of individual has resulted into the emergence of this new class. The reasons for emergence of this class are –
- Green revolution-
Due to increase in agricultural surplus the per capita expenditure has increased manifold. Hence the new middle class constitutes majority in Region of Punjab, Haryana and Western UP.
- Socio Economic Reforms-
The various socio economic reforms done by the government after independence and 1991 reforms .
The new services brought by economic liberalisation and the private sector proved as catalyst for income and expenditure of middle class. Private sector increased the per capita income of individual and promoted them to spend more.
- Education and Mass media-
The growth in education resulted in demand for more needs to live in global world of television, advertisements , new products for consumption. It created a lure among people to access those goods to live a prosper life as claimed by the advertisements.
- Role of technology-
Technology made man’s life easier, using the commercial technological goods such as water filter, television, refrigerator, mobile phones , and now internet also. This has increased the consumption expenditure .
CHARACTERISTIC DIFFERENCES –
- Income – The income of a person of new middle class (NMC) ranges from $2 to $10 per capita per day with a bend more towards the upper limit whereas a middle class person has an uncertainty in his income but it is majorly near around $2 to $6 per capita per day .
- Expenditure – People from NMC have many luxury items, plenty of leisure time, accessibility to information and have wide influential power. They have surplus money to accumulate the same for investment whereas a middle class person has only enough to spend on his daily needs with some money to invest on entertainment periodically. They go beyond the basics to high-priced segments in their expenditure and in basics they spend on ultra-modern.
- Caste structure – Qualitatively, the new middle class is quite different from the earlier middle class in India. While the upper castes dominate the new middle class,considerable proportion of lower caste households too have entered the new middle class.
- Occupation structure – There is diversity within the new middle class also in terms of occupation. A large section of the lower middle class is employed in occupations similar to that of the poor, that is, in agriculture and construction activities, whereas several upper middle class households are engaged in new service jobs in finance, insurance and IT sectors.
- Non-homogeneity – The new middle class in India is not a homogeneous entity, but consists of quantitatively and qualitatively distinct subgroups. The lower middle class merits attention for its large size and rapid growth. The upper middle class is important, for it symbolises the global middle class, which other classes below it perhaps aspire to emulate. It is their spending capacity and ability to drive consumption demand that binds these subgroups together into a single class.
- Role in the development – New middle class is the primary beneficiary of liberalisation engaged in high paying new service activities, essentially refer only to the upper middle class. The majority in the lower middle class are perhaps not regular wage earners or well-educated (as they are in agriculture or construction activities), which may restrict their role in the development process usually associated with the middle class.
- Participation of women – the participation of women in the workforce has significantly increased, leading to better income of the family.
In all the spheres, this new class in India could prove driving engine for the socio economic development of the country. Being extremely diverse in its character, this class reflects emerging and inclusive picture of country.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
2) “Regional cooperation in South Asia is difficult not only because of the geographical, historical and cultural complexity of the region, but more so because of the lack of stable leadership emanating from the bigger states like India.” Critically comment. (200 Words)
South Asia is lacking in regional cooperation on issues like security, economic development and cross border infiltration, etc. There is a huge potential that exists in South Asia as being home to world’s one forth population and containing world’s 3.4% land. Despite being geographically unique and enriched with natural resources, South Asia still couldn’t able to achieve prosperity in all spheres. All countries are ranking far poor in Human Development Report, World Happiness Report etc. Region is facing severe challenges in terms of terrorism, drug trafficking, increasing extremism, cross border issues, disputes over marine resources etc. Regional Cooperation groups like SAARC haven’t able to achieve the goals.
Major problems –
- Lack of strong leadership, which is being exploited by countries like china.
- Failure of regional groups like SAARC to bring the issue of state sponsored terrorism on world platform.
- Lack of unity among regional countries on issues like terrorism, cross border infiltration, trafficking etc.
- Huge untapped potential of Indian Ocean.
Due to its inherent structure, big country like India is facing challenges in providing leadership to regional cooperation. The challenges are –
FEDERAL STRUCTURE –
- State level interests are giving challenges to national interest like Tamil Nadu fisherman issue, Teesta agreement, etc.
- Due to era of coalition, union government is not willing to go beyond the interest of states
- Many states are making their own foreign policy based on their narrow interest of foreign investments which sometimes goes against national interest
- Due to highly diverse nature of society, it is getting challenging to bring all states on same boat in arena of foreign policy.
POLICY INSTABILITY –
With change in the government , the policies also change and so do the diplomatic relations. This leads to continuous instability in the stand the government takes.
RELATION WITH NEIGHBOUR-
Our unfriendly relations with Pak need no mention. Pak govt’s restraint in granting India the most favored nation (MFN) trade status, in return India suspended trade dialogue to supply 500MV power to Pak. Also recently India -China relation got strained due to CPEC issue. This reduces support from neighbors in regional cooperation.
Eg. India voted against Sri Lanka in UN human rights council due to protest by Tamilians who empathize with Srilankan Tamils. This strained our relations with Sri Lanka.
India is busy in dealing with domestic threats like Naxalism, Maoism, that foreign policy has taken back seat. Cross border immigration problem aggravate relation with countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar.
eg. conflict between India’s Hindu group and migrated Muslims of Bangladesh.
In southern Asia, every country should rise above their narrow interests and should work towards better regional cooperation. Otherwise as terrorist groups like IS which already started targeting countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan may take advantage of the situation here, just like middle east. Given its strategically important position on global map, and its rapidly growing economy with its magnificent resources and huge demographic potential, India could lead in south Asia. A collaborative and non-conflict-ridden centre-state relationship could do wonders in this.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability
The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 is an excellent example of a grass-roots movement culminating in the promulgation of groundbreaking laws and policies to achieve its ends. Originally envisioned to ensure that entitlements reached intended beneficiaries, the act has been used by citizens across the country to fight for a range of rights and entitlements, fight corruption, carry out research, and usher in a modicum of transparency in the functioning of public authorities.
The Right to Information Act was hailed as a major act towards a strengthened democracy and the following features prove that it has been able to deliver for what it was made –
- FIGHT CORRUTION: Its ability to fight corruption has significantly increased its hold in India.
- ENSURED TRANSPARENCY: The enactment of this act ensured transparency in the bureaucratic systems.
- FIGHTS FOR RIGHTS: It has increased its position as a major incharge for the fight of rights of the people.
Right to Information Act of India is world’s most extensively used transparency legislation. But despite a decade of functionality, this act hasn’t been able to achieve the goals.
- Complex Process of appeal – The procedure that in followed in courts is highly unsuited for appeals under RTI. But recent proposed amendments like written submission to public authority and attach evidences, would make this process more troublesome.
- Pressure on RTI Activists – Almost 375 incidences of attacks on citizens have been recorded who sought information about corruption or wrongdoings in various public authorities.
- Lack of personnel – With increasing number of RTI pleas, seekers are not able to gain timely information due to lack of personnel.
- Section 4 of RTI – Public authorities have been lax in providing information suo moto as mandated by section 4 of RTI. This is certainly increasing RTI queries.
What didn’t work for RTI was –
- STRUCTURAL CONSTRAINTS: There was a news that lack of staff has resulted in lakhs of RTI’ s pending.
- INABILITY TO KEEP PACE: The fact that with mounting pressure and workload the whole system sort of crashed and was not able to keep pace with the growing demand.
- IMPROPER IMPLEMENTATION: With improper implementation, the system was bound to fail and hence proper implementation is what is required.
- Act gave relaxation to political parties , judiciary, even according to OFFICIAL SECRET ACT officers refuse to provide the information demanded.
The following changes can be enforced for the betterment of the situation –
- STRUCTURAL STRENGTHENING: More staff needs to be recruited to ensure that timely answers are given to RTI applicants.
- TIME BOUND IMPLEMENTATION: The implementation of measures should be time bound to ensure success of the project.
So far there has been great enhancement in transparency in public spheres but there are few structural changes which are needed to make this act milestone in good governance in India .
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
4) If medicines are already being sold online, should they be stopped, or is it better to regulate them? If we accept the latter, then will the e-platform proposed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) help, or will it throw up a new set of problems? Critically examine. (200 Words)
The government has proposed a set of rules for regulating the sale of medicines, including those by “e-pharmacies,” platforms that sell medicines online. Retail chemists across India have reacted negatively to these and even went on a one day strike.
Should online sell of medicine be stopped?
Risks associated with e-pharmacies, especially when it comes to the dispensation of prescription drugs without the necessary checks should be taken seriously by regulating authorities. At the same time apprehensions created by traditional retailers about the e-pharmacies are over-hyped and are related to the business. The government cannot turn blind eye to the developments in the digital world.
Further there are numerous benefits of online sell of drugs for both providers and consumers. Thus the government should not stop or ban the online sell of medicines. Therefore it would be imperative for government to regulate and monitor the development of e-pharmacies.
E-platform proposed by MoHFW will help because-
- Increase in reach and service delivery-
As digital literacy and infrastructure rises in the country, it would increase the reach and service delivery for drugs and medicine. The platform can also be used for catering the need of rural areas.
The step would be a major boost in digitization and would ensure that the country is woven delicately in a web-net, ensuring the coverage of all pharmaceuticals and medical facilities under its ambit.
- Quality control:
This would result in increase in quality control and would ensure that fake medicines are not given to the patients.
- Effective management of indiscriminate medical shops:
This would a check on the indiscriminate medical shops that dictate their terms to consumers and earn huge profits.
- Breaking the monopoly-
Traditional pharmacies have created their monopoly over the drug business and consumers have to pay high prices for drugs. Online pharmacies offer better discounts that could benefit the consumer.
- Demotivate self-medication:
The requirement of prescriptions would insure that self-medication is highly demotivated and that people take only those drugs as given by the doctors.
- Track record:
E-platform would help in tracking the records which helps to track the sale of medicines in the country from the manufacturer to the consumer; in managing the essentials of all the medical shops and would ensure their proper utilization in the times of emergency.
Problems that could be faced by e-platform-
- Regulation on Doctors-
There is also a need to look at irrational prescribing practices followed by doctors and curbing high number of quacks working mostly in rural areas.
- Poor connectivity:
The internet penetration particularly in rural areas is lackluster and could hit the efficient functioning of the e-platform for drug delivery
- Lack of digital literacy and awareness:
Even in urban areas poor, conservatives and women are skeptical of using smart phones and internet. In addition to this lack of awareness can prove to be the major hurdle in the success of such initiatives.
- Unregulated over the top medicines:
Even after this measure, some stores would be selling over the top medicines and that has to be checked.
- Increased corruption:
Some stores may demand money from people, to give them tje dicine without the possession of a prescription and this wiuld lead to increased corruption in this sector.
Traditional pharmacies will remain hostile to any move towards the digitalization of medical and drug services. However government should not bow before this pressure and should create an environment where both online retailers and brick and mortar shops are equally placed. This would ultimately benefit the consumers who suffer the most from any mismanagement of the policy.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education,
In an effort to curb antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the drugs into three categories — access, watch and reserve — specifying which are to be used for common ailments and which are to be kept for complicated diseases.
Commonly used antibiotics will be under the ‘access’ category; the second line of antibiotics, slightly more potent, have been categorised under “watch” and potent drugs to be used only as a “last resort” fall under the ‘reserve’ category. This is the biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the 40-year history of the essential medicines list (EML).
- The new WHO list should help health system planners and prescribers ensure that people who need antibiotics have access to them, and ensure they get the right one, so that the problem of resistance doesn’t get worse.
- With a graded approach to the use of antibiotics, under which some medicines are reserved for the most resistant microbes, the WHO list can stop their misuse as broad-spectrum treatments.
- The new categorisation will further guide countries in ensuring access to appropriate antibacterial agents and support antimicrobial stewardship effort.
- Compliance- The governments in different countries are under international pressure to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the new guidelines. This would ensure that benefits reach to larger sections of population.
- Awareness among the masses: Following this move, the governments can make accessibility of essential drugs with right prescription mandatory, thus making the masses aware that they need to take light doses of such medicines to cure themselves.
- Discourage self-medication- Self-medication which is high in India is one of the important factors for increasing anti-bacterial resistance. The WHO’s emphasis on use of anti-biotic only after consultation of doctors and as last resort may reduce the instances of self-medication and frequent use.
The revised WHO classification can mitigate the problem if the many issues associated with use of the drugs can be monitored and regulated. Within the realm of medical practice, the prescription of antibiotics is often guided by such factors as patient demand, competing alternative treatment systems, and even financial incentives. Close scrutiny of these by national stewardship programmes such as those initiated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is needed.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Agriculture issues
Farmers have gone on violent strikes in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh for the demands of loan waiver and other demands related to agriculture. Government of Maharashtra has accused opposition parties for stirring of unnecessary strikes. There have been slew of arguments whether the strikes are result of actual socio-economic sufferings of farmers or are the farmers have been provoked for some vested political gains?
Arguments in favor of socio-economic-
- Agricultural distress-
Farmers are losing dignity and self-respect because of persistence failures in getting good returns on their produce. Vagaries of nature and inherent hardship of the agriculture are making the profession unprofitable. And when production is good, flip-flop policies of the government ruins the hopes of better returns; that is what happening in the current case.
High investment and low returns have indebted the large number of farmers. Loans taken from both the private money-lenders and government banks have piled up for years propelling many of them to suicide.
- Low social status-
Nobody wants to be a farmer anymore. Because it is turning out to be un-remunerative profession and involving relative hard physical work. Girls are reluctant to marry farmers’ son and the children of farmers aspire for a well-paying urban job.
- Less-opportunities in non-farm sectors-
People who are moving out of agriculture sector have no respectful jobs in the non-farm sectors. Lack of quality education and required qualification complicates the issues. This is leading to frustration and sometimes expressed through riots.
It turned out to be hurricane for temporary period, an all-round destructive force. The poor farmers need cash to transact sales, but there was no cash in the system which hampered their profit badly.
Arguments in favor of Political-
- Indian farmers faced two consecutive years of drought in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Such an occurrence — two droughts in a row — only happened five times since 1870, and on three occasions in independent India: The mid-sixties, the mid-eighties and now. Despite this rare farmer tragedy, Maharashtra and MP did not observe any farmer riots during the recent drought years.
- Politicians outside the BJP have been badly hurt. There is little likelihood of an opposition party, or an opposition alliance, coming to power in 2019. Now, even five years may not be enough for an opposition force to arrive.
- Even after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis promised a loan waiver, benefiting the vast majority of the indebted poor, farmer riots have continued.
- Critiques also argue that by highlighting the negatives of demonetization some political parties are trying to cash-in its benefits by inciting the farmers. One of the objectives according to them, is to discredit the government in the eyes of people by showing government as anti-farmers.
Farmers’ strikes are result of number of factors and could not be attributed to any one of them. Though there could be political overtone to the farmers’ strikes, it cannot be denied that farmers are visibly disappointed and angry with the government. In many areas, despite having good production of pulses, farmers could not be benefited because the policy of MSP was not implemented well and they could not reap the benefits of high production. Thus the deep underlying factors for strikes are socio-economic issue and the spark could have provided by some of the political parties.