SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 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: Role of women; Social empowerment
1) Recently, in Haryana’s Rewari district school girls went on indefinite hunger strike demanding that their school be upgraded to a higher secondary school- to which the state conceded. Discuss the significance of this event. (200 Words)
Background :- What a group of gutsy schoolgirls began in the village of Gothra Tappa Dahina in Haryana’s Rewari district is now spreading to other districts in the state. On 10 May, around 80 girls at the government school in the village went on an indefinite fast. They demanded that their school be upgraded to a higher secondary school. They said they could not access the nearest such school some three kilometres away because of lack of transport and the sexual harassment they faced en route. What began as something that the state government expected would fizzle out, instead ballooned into a full-scale crisis as the girls refused to end their fast. Within 10 days, the state government conceded and the village school will now have classes 11 and 12.
CASE STUDY :-
Bihar under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. In 2006, he created something of a mini-revolution when he launched his Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana giving every girl completing class 9 a bicycle so that she could travel to the nearest higher secondary school to complete class 12. Thousands of girls benefited. As a result, the National Bureau of Economic Research noted that 30% more girls stayed on in school after class 9 and the gender gap in enrolment at the higher secondary level between boys and girls reduced by 40%. Since then, several other states have followed Bihar’s example.
Significance of the event :-
- The agitation of these girls was unique in many ways. They are products of a state that does not love its girls. Haryana has the lowest female to male sex ratio in the country, just 877 as compared to the national average of 940. Its 0–6 years sex ratio is even worse, 830. If girls escape being eliminated before or after birth, they barely survive in a society where deeply entrenched conservative attitudes control and constrain their lives.
- The agitation by the Rewari schoolgirls has relevance beyond Haryana. It reminds us of several important aspects of education in this country that are far too readily overlooked and that are not being addressed even as the government basks in slogans like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. There is a wide chasm between such slogans and the reality on the ground.
The government of Haryana can do the following to overcome the above situation.
- Transport facility :- In my home state Andhra Pradesh, our government provides a transport stipend of 300-1000 rupees per month to the parents of students who are far away from schools. This can be replicated across India to ensure enrolment of students specially the girls.
- Providing cycles :- Bihar government and Andhra government have provided bicycles to girls who have passed class 9 , this helps the girls so that they don’t have to walk large distances to come to school. This should be taken on pan-India basis.
- Increase quality schools :- Just like the Delhi government spending more of education budget , To ensure all spend more on education ,we must have a law that that makes it legally binding for governments to spend a particular amount of their budget on education
Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Introduction :- Access to basic amenities such as safe drinking water and sanitation is not only an important measure of socio-economic status of the household, but also a fundamental element for the health of people. The latter is directly linked to the availability of safe drinking water and sanitation. Inadequate and poor quality drinking water not only results in severe morbidity and large-scale mortality, but also augments health costs, causes low worker productivity and declining school enrolment rates.
The various factors affecting quality of drinking water and water-borne diseases are:
- Source of drinking water – With Tap water and borewells being major sources of water in rural and urban areas, the source of water plays a vital role in its quality. Though Borewell is considered safest source for water; over-exploitation and contamination by waste have brought down its quality. Tap water & hand-pumps too faces issues of contamination at source and at end. Water from lakes, ponds etc. too are susceptible to water-borne diseases.
- Income – The income level of a citizen affects decisions like purification-method used, source of water, availability of water etc. Better sanitation and quality drinking water takes up a large chunk of low-income household’s expenditure that, eventually they are forced to use water of lesser quality.
- Family size – Large families in areas prone to water shortage have to recourse to inferior sanitation and drinking water; leading to lower living standards.
- Education – Studies have shown that educated people tend to spend more on better sanitation and better drinking water. They invest on superior water purification methods, since they are aware of the health benefits.
- Occupation – The occupation of the person too plays a vital role as professional or those in formal sector, are provided with better sanitation and drinking water facilities; while those in informal sector are usually denied to such benefits.
- Caste – Caste-system dominated society like India affects the water availability. The upper caste usually has access to good quality of water while lower caste (SC/ST/OBC etc.) face discrimination as the latter are prohibited by the former from using public wells and other utilities.
Conclusion :- As the HDI of World Banks points out, better sanitation and drinking water continues to play a vital role in a nation’s development. Thus, govt. and other utility-providers should focus on providing such a basic necessity; thereby not only improving the health of the disadvantaged but eventually leading to development of the nation.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
3) The pricing of cardiac stents in India has been mired in controversy and allegations of profiteering at the cost of vulnerable patients. Discuss the opinion of various stakeholders on this issue. (200 Words)
Introduction :- A coronary stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, to keep the arteries open in the treatment of coronary heart disease. It is used in a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Stents reduce chest pain and have been shown to improve survivability in the event of an acute myocardial infarction.
Similar stents and procedures are used in non-coronary vessels e.g. in the legs in peripheral artery disease.
Heart patients who require coronary stents stand to get an average benefit of close to `1lakh after the country’s drug pricing authority on fixed a cap on stent prices. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) slashed prices of coronary stents by over 75%, capping the ceiling prices of drug eluting stents (DES) and bio resorbable vascular scaffolds (BVS) at Rs 29,600, and bare metal stents (BMS) at Rs 7,260. Including VAT, these stents are expected to cost Rs 31,080 and Rs 7,623, respectively.
A coronary stent is a wire mesh tube used to clear blockages in the arteries and prevent heart attacks. The ceiling prices notified by the body are applicable to manufacturers, distributors and hospitals billing patients for stents effective February 14, according to NPPA’s notification. It has also made it mandatory for hospitals to bill cardiac stents separately from the procedure package billed to patients.
The regulator claimed that “huge” and “unethical” mark ups were charged on the devices throughout the supply chain.
The reaction from this from various stakeholders is as follows.
- Patients: It’s a welcome move as the storm is one of import and life-saving medical devices making health service more affordable.
- Government : Government is of the opinion that stern is a life-saving medicine and pricing it at 1000% percent profit margin is nowhere acceptable
Thus the care taken of citizens, it’s a rational move as to curb the unrealistic pricing racking by corporates.
- Civil society: The fight for their cause to stop the extortion of money from the vulnerable status has been achieved.
- Manufacturers, hospitals, and doctors: They are of the opinion that they claimed the move would dent India’s industry-friendly image would stifle innovation in stents.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests,
Introduction :- Capitalism could be held responsible for US’s withdrawal from Paris climate deal to the extent that commitment to such protocols puts an obligation upon USA to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. This leads to cut down on fossil fuel use which still drives factories in USA. Therefore productivity of US companies has suffered.
Additionally, with not enough innovation still being done in field of renewable energy, any use thereof is economically costly idea.
However, capitalism isn’t the only reason for this. Nationalistic jingoism has also played its role in US withdrawal from the deal.
For example, lots of American jobs have been outsourced to countries like China which happens to be it’s strategic competitor. Not only has it led to America landing into BoP crisis with high CAD vis a vis China, greater dollar surplus with China has increased China’s leverage into American economy.
Another factor is the rise of isolationism. Greater commitment to global treaties reinforces American commitment to globalisation which Trump doesn’t like. Globalisation also imposes upon USA the responsibility to be an active solution provider to problems like refugee crisis and terrorism. Trump considers them to be an unnecessary drag on USA economy.
Thus it could be said that capitalism is not the sole reason for USA withdrawal form Paris climate deal.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Government Budgeting.
5) Parliamentary scrutiny of public finance is a very important aspect for holding governments accountable to the people. Do you think establishing a Parliamentary Budget Office, an independent and impartial body linked directly to Parliament, is a fitting response to this concern? Analyse. (200 Words)
In present condition the parliament has weak control over the public finance. The quality and comprehensiveness of the budget scrutiny process, through the debate and the standing committees remains inadequate. Due to the lack of analytical knowledge support, members of Parliament (MPs) are unable to properly scrutinize the demands for grants in the respective standing committees. On occasion, MPs seek to reach out to external experts for credible analysis and inputs. Such practices help in adding depth to the committees’ work and their reports. While this results in better assessment of demands, it is an ad hoc way of bridging the gap in knowledge and analysis. An institutional mechanism, such as a parliamentary budget office (PBO), is therefore suggested.
Need of PBO-
- Parliament is considered to be “the guardian of the public purse” and must play a greater role in budgetary governance. As a budget approving body, it oversees the following: presentation of the budget; scrutiny of the budget proposal and demands for grants of various ministries; debate; and consideration and approval of the budget. To carry out such functions effectively, the Parliament requires institutional, analytical and technical competence.
- Representative democracy demands an active role of the parliament in budgetary governance and budget decision making alongside a well-thought-out legislative–executive balance of power. The role of the parliament cannot be restricted only to budget approval and oversight functions. A democratic constitution provides the necessary scope to accommodate the legislature’s participation in fiscal governance.
How Parliamentary Budget office would be effective solution?
- A PBO is an independent and impartial body linked directly to the Parliament. It provides high-quality technical, objective and non-partisan analysis of budgets and public finance to the Parliament and its committees. A PBO is an instrument for addressing bias towards spending and deficits and, more significantly, for enhancing fiscal discipline and promoting accountability.
- Further, it can generate quality public debate on budget policy and public finance, enabling parliamentarians to engage more meaningfully in the budget process.
- Parliament’s failure to exert meaningful influence often results in arbitrary taxation policy, burgeoning fiscal deficit, and an inequitable allocation of public resources among various sectors. Many ordinary laws have been piggybacked as money bills, while the Parliament remains entirely oblivious. The establishment of a PBO would eliminate such malpractice as MPs would have been alerted and appropriate action would follow.
- A PBO could provide the essential substantive information and knowledge support services for parliamentarians and committees. Such timely, accurate, objective, responsive, and non-partisan information is vital for the productive working of the parliament and its members.
- There is an imminent need to establish a PBO, not only as an indicator of good governance, but on the premise that an independent, non-partisan, transparent body can bridge the gap between executive decision-making and parliamentarian involvement.
- In order for the development of a PBO to be effective, there must be momentum for change. Parliamentarians must seek to hold the executive to account regarding fiscal governance, and the PBO is an appropriate mechanism with which to do so. Legislatures may require greater sensitization to the knowledge gap issue in order to develop an impetus for change.
- PBOs can help parliamentarians understand the complex nature of the budgeting process and provide the parliament and its committees with the capacity to contribute to the budget process. Parliamentary scrutiny of public finance is a very important aspect for holding the government(s) accountable to the people.
- However, the Parliament as well as the state legislatures are institutionally fragile and ineffective in fulfilling their oversight and scrutiny functions. Thus there is a legitimate democratic need in this country to strengthen the capacity of Parliament and its members.
To be successful, the PBO requires the broad support of all the parliamentary political parties. In order to maintain this support, the PBO must be non-partisan, independent and mandated to serve all parliamentarians. Furthermore, the core functions of the PBO, including the access to government information and appointments of staff, should be codifi ed in law. The output of the PBO, and the methods by which they are prepared, must be transparent, accessible and understandable. The PBO should also follow the values of scholarship, impartiality and timeliness, which form a part of most parliamentary services.
Establishing a PBO in Parliament will have a positive impact on its ability to carry out budgetary oversight and fiscal decision-making. However, this will not be an easy task. It is likely to attract prime opposition from the bureaucracy or the executive. Universally, any aspect of strengthening the parliament (or the state legislatures) is contentious. It is generally unwelcome and met with reluctance from the executive. Public pressure and political will is needed to overcome such opposition. Parliamentarians spanning all political parties must form the nucleus of the action for change.
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
6) In recent weeks, infiltration bids by Pak sponsored terrorists into India is increasing. The focus of the infiltration seems to be in the Uri area, followed by the Naugam (Lipa) sector and Machil. Should India be worried? How should it manage these infiltrations? Discuss. (200 Words)
Uri is strategically located on the Line of Control which can give easy access to the infiltrators to reach in the Kashmir valley. Tough terrain conditions in Uri sector make it difficult for the security forces to keep strict watch in the area.
Further Uri offers multiple choices for targeting. The distance, of 46 km to Baramulla, has several army camps, labour sites, the National Hydro Power Corporation campus and frequent army convoys — all these offer lucrative targets. In December 2014, a terror attack on an artillery gun position at Mohora, on the Jhelum road, led to large-scale casualties. Infiltrated groups can travel further inwards, along routes which are difficult to monitor, and reach Rafiabad, where they become part of the Sopore and Baramulla terror grids.
This has led to more infiltration from the Uri, machil and nearby areas.
Why India should be worried?
- Terrorists have carried out lethal attacks on India’s security forces in the recent past. The Uri attack 2016, being the latest one. Such attacks take high toll of security forces and demoralize them.
- Infiltrators and terrorists can stir up the unrest or aggravate the existing tense conditions in the Kashmir region.
- There have been numerous instances where infiltrators were actively engaged in recruiting the local youth for terror activities. They use radicalization techniques and train them either in PoK or in Pakistan.
- Infiltrators across the borders are also known to supply arms and ammunition to the local terrorist to fight against the police and other security forces.
- Infiltrators and terrorists also disrupt the civilian life and hamper the local economy.
- State sponsored infiltrators from across the border are the major cause of concern for the Indian government. Such terrorists are well trained and well-funded and have huge potential to create havoc in Kashmir and India.
- Pakistan seems driven by a perception that it has never been strategically stronger — and the situation in Kashmir was never so much in its favor. This makes Kashmir situation more volatile and vulnerable to more attacks.
How should India manage these infiltrations?
- Specially trained commandos-
In a situation where actual war between the two nuclear powered countries seems rare, the infiltrations and terrorist activities have acquired more importance. Thus Indian security forces need specially trained personnel who could take over these infiltrators in an effective manner.
- Advanced equipments-
Advanced equipment like thermal sensors, night vision goggles, bulletproof jackets, better guns should be provided to all the security personnel involved in anti-insurgency operations.
Collecting intelligence forms the core area in fighting effectively against the terrorists in Kashmir. Security forces need to evolve strategies and methods so that infiltration attempts are neutralized without any Indian casualties.
- Better fencing-
The international border remains porous on the many sections which provide easy access to the infiltrators. Further there have been terrorist attempts to enter by destroying the fencing itself. Thus India need better fencing, cameras and other technique to keep fencing in better shape.
- Reaching out to Kashmiri youths-
In the recent years many Kashmiri youths are felling to the false propaganda of the terrorists and separatists of the Kashmir. There is also growing anger against the security forces which was evident from the stone pelting events. This could have detrimental effect in near future. Thus government and security forces should reach out to Kashmiri youths and make efforts to solve their grievances.
Infiltrations in the Kashmir region are proving to be headache for Indian government and to local population. There is visible anger against the administration and state apparatus. Unless and until government addresses these core issues, there will always be incentive for the Pakistan to send infiltrators to generate more unrest. Reaching out to Kashmiri and addressing their concerns should be the top priority.