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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 July 2017

 


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 18 July 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:  Poverty and developmental issues

1) Critically evaluate India’s record in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

Sustainable Development Goals came into being in 2015 with a deadline of 2030. It has a set of 17 global goals and 169 targets, all of which, directly or indirectly, focus on poverty, health, education, climate change and self-sustainability. 

India’s Achievements –

  1. Energy – Government’s commitment to achieve 175GW by 2022, presently India is 4th largest in wind power capacity, rapid increase in Solar energy production and decrease in the cost of unit solar power.
  2. Partnerships for progress and Peace – ratifying Paris Deal, Active participation in Kigali summit for Montreal protocol amendment, Cooperation against terrorism and money laundering, etc.
  3. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – improving ease of doing business, promoting Start-Ups through skilling India, Make in India, Start-Up India etc. India is moving up in Global Competitiveness Index of WEF to 39th position.
  4. Sustainable Communities and cities – Swachh Bharat Mission, clean energy, AMRUT, HRIDAY schemes working to improve cities on water, sanitation and infrastructure aspects.
  5. Climate Action – promoting green initiatives like investments in renewable energy, allowing corporates to issue Masala Bonds, green bonds, etc. and clean development mechanism.

Drawbacks –

  1. 22% of population is under poverty and can reverse the progress achieved. 
  2. Health and Education still needs to be improved in terms of quality and reduction of both communicable and non-communicable diseases, enabling affordable and accessible quality education, as per fundamental rights- Article 21 and 21A.
  3. Gender Equality is still a work in progress as women continue to face problems in access to education, employment, etc., discrimination at household level to work environment. 
  4. Clean Water and Sanitation – contaminated water with metals, polluted and unhygienic environment are major reasons for health issues. 

Conclusion –

It is a long path for India to achieve SDGs and rapid progress is required. Initiatives like International Solar Alliance, doubling of farmer incomes by 2022, farmer welfare schemes like PMKSY, Skilling through PMKVY, Swachh Bharat Mission, DDUGJY, Digital India, education initiatives like Swayam, ShaGun, etc. are right steps in this direction.

 


Topic: Effects of globalization on Indian society

2) Write a critical note on Hyperglobalisation and its effects, especially on India. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Hyper-globalization –

‘Hyper-globalization’ has been used to describe the dramatic increase in international trade witnessed for about a decade and a half from the early 1990s up to the global financial crisis of 2008. It may be referred to as the optimum level of globalization, facilitated by increased inter-connectedness between nations, and an excessively liberalized movement of goods, capital and labour.

The positive effects of hyper-globalization on India have been as follows:

  • Exports of various diversified products, accompanied by a diversification in export markets since the 1990’s.
  • The rise, and continuing dominance of the IT sector, due to the technological, and service-based innovations, over the years.
  • India has been able to meet the demands for goods, such as through imports of crude oil, electronic items, machinery, etc.
  • Increased FDI, leading to the creation of vast amount of foreign exchange reserves.
  • Immigration of Indians to other countries such as USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. have helped provide a positive boost to the economy. As well as diaspora played the role of strengthening relations between India and other nations.
  • Expose outside world to other cultures, creates tourism potential, market for local valuable resources, market for skilled human power and make govt to invest in Human development.

However, certain issues do need to be taken note of:

  • Catering to external demand, has led to a negligence of the growing domestic demand.
  • The excessive dependence on imports, especially in the context of the manufacturing sector, have not allowed India to expand and enhance its own.
  • The excessive reliance on IT-based exports is currently facing strain, more so in the face of rising demand for automation and newer technologies, that India is facing difficulties in adapting to. 
  • Private investment has suffered ever since the global financial crisis of 2008, leading to a sluggish growth in global demand.
  • Rising levels of protectionism, emanating from countries like USA and UK, are a genuine threat to the economic prospects of India.
  • Cultural shock felt is strong which can take the form of radicalism to save national identity by hardliners. Culture and arts preserved through centuries often render valueless.

Way forward –

  • Hyperglobalisation should be on sustainable line.
  • Equal footing to developing nations,
  • Trade should be balanced without huge deficit, investment should be through mutual consent, taxation/evasion should be dealt cooperatively.

 


General Studies – 2


Topic:  Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 

3) Differentiate between regular deliberations of the parliamentary committees and testimonies of important public officials before these committees. Do you think testimonies of public officials before the parliamentary committees should be made public and broadcast live? Comment. (200 Words)

Livemint

 

The regular deliberations of parliamentary committees are those where the legislators meet to discuss on the issues before them, such as new bills, and freely and frankly exchange their opinions, to present their report.

Whereas the testimonies of public official before such committees involve the concerned public officials, who are required to be present before it and present the evidence and information asked for, in its acts on inquiry and investigation into matters of public importance.

The paucity of time in the hand of parliamentarians during the session entail an alternative platform to do detail analysis and discussion over an issue. In that sense, parliamentary committees provide such an alternative platform. But the major limitation of the parliamentary committee is their covert working. Transparency is missing in their sittings, deliberation, discussion and testimonies.

While deliberation and discussions on issues is a common feature of parliamentary committees. But Testimonies are done on some special cases.

For example, the case of RBI chief’s testimony before committee on finance. People at large were stakeholders in the process of demonetization, but the public could not watch the proceedings of the committee.

In contrast, in US the testimony of FBI chief before the senate committee was watched live by people across world. In general, Senate and HRP keeps its committees’ proceedings open to public except for few instances. Similarly, in UK, committee meetings are made transparent for public gaze.

The testimonies, need to be made public, and broadcast live, for the following reasons: 

  • Countries like USA, UK, and South Africa allow for the practice, and emulation in India would be an acceptance of one of such global best practices as regards the legislature.
  • The move will enhance transparency and accountability on the part of the legislators, as well as the administration.
  • The maxim of supremacy of the people, applicable to a sovereign nation like India, would be in conformance with such a move.
  • It will allow greater access to information, deepening the roots of democracy even further.

However, public broadcast might be problematic as:

  • It might reduce the productivity of these committees as the main aim might move towards public gesturing rather than keeping the official accountable.
  • It might also be used by parliamentarians to express their anger towards some public officials such as RBI governor or Economic advisor.
  • It might put issues of national security, economic security under the gaze of unwanted elements.
  • There is no legal provision for this effect.
  • These reforms will not be successful in the prevailing political culture of the country. The legislators in advanced democracies in Europe and North America are free to take their independent positions and they don’t necessarily toe the party line on each and every issue. In India, the political culture has been marred by the whip system of political parties, the anti-defection law and the lack of intra-party democracy. If individual legislators are unshackled from party lines, they will be encouraged to expend more effort in studying the matter to be discussed in committee meetings. They will also be freer to honour the views of their respective constituents rather than be bulldozed by high command fiats.

Conclusion –

Transparency in parliamentary committee will make our democracy more strong but judicious transparency is the need of hour. We should form a policy regarding making committee proceeding public but the concern regarding national interest and other sensitive issues.

 


Topic:  Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,

4) Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government joined the 24×7 Power for All (PFA) scheme, a joint initiative of the Centre and state governments. Discuss the merits and demerits of this move. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

 

Power for all (PFA) is a joint initiative of centre and state, with an objective of providing electricity 24×7 to all unconnected households by 2019. This move is seen as a good sign of cooperative federalism. Now, U.P has joined this scheme.

Advantages: 

  • Many authorized consumers will be having a metered connection. There will be a rise in energy consumption which is an indicator of growth.
  • Electricity availability will improve businesses, efficiencies in business cycle, provide 24*7 services like banking and quality of education can be improved.
  • There will be increase in revenue due to increase in number of metered connections. Power theft will decrease as electricity will be made available to all.

Disadvantages:

  • The already debt laden Discoms will have to bear the additional energy demand, increased infrastructure spending for connecting the households to grid.
  • There is a lot of power theft and operational losses due to inefficiencies in distribution, lack of quality power for industries affects the production.
  • If the demand is more than what the discoms can bear, they will have to procure from outside. This may deteriorate the fiscal health of the state. Since the state government has already taken part in UDAY scheme, the debt of the discoms are already in the state’s kitty and this restricts their fiscal flexibility.

Challenges:

  • The first data of unaccounted households itself is varying with the data collected from PFA and GARV. And nearly two-third of the registered households is not metered.
  • Providing electricity 24×7 to such large number of people needs lot of power procurement, which is predicted to increase 40-50% in 2 years. This needs huge investments from both state and centre for strengthening and expanding the distribution network.
  • The average revenue collection from the domestic household is very low compared to the industrial/commercial sectors and currently the loss experienced by Discoms (which is 31%) is expected to double. Currently the percentage contributed by the Discoms in NPA is 4%.
  • Reducing the electricity theft is major problem, unfortunately in some states its been politically backed which makes it difficult to spot and evade.

Conclusion –

Ultimately connecting all the rural households with electricity is a positive way forward but there are constraints that government should make sure is addressed. UDAY scheme for supporting discom financially is welcome step.

  


Topic:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

5) The recent report of a joint task force on social audit has made unanimous recommendations that have opened the possibilities of social audit. What are its possibilities? How can governments ensure these possibilities are realised? Examine. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

What is social Audit?

A social audit is a formal review of organizations’ endeavors in social responsibility. A social audit looks at factors such as organizations’ record of volunteer activity, energy use, transparency, work environment, and worker pay and benefits to evaluate what kind of social and environmental impact a company is having in the locations where it operates.

A social audit is an internal examination of how a particular business is affecting a society. It serves as a way for a business to see if the actions being taken are being positively or negatively received and relates that information to the company’s overall public image.

Background:

A grass roots organisation of Rajasthan, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) is believed to have started the concept of the social audit while fighting corruption in the public works in the early 1990s. As the corruption is attributed to the secrecy in governance, the ‘Jansunwai’ or public hearing and the right to information (RTI), enacted in 2005, are used to fight this secrecy.

Objectives of Social Audit

  • Accurate identification of requirements
  • Prioritization of developmental activities as per requirements
  • Proper utilization of funds
  • Conformity of the developmental activity with the stated goals
  • Quality of service

social audit

Possibilities of Social audit in Government department:

  1. Empowerment of people: Social audit is most effective when the actual beneficiaries of an activity are involved in it. However, people can only get involved in the process when they are given appropriate authority and rights.  To this end, the 73rd amendment of the constitution has empowered the Gram Sabha to conduct social audit.  This is relevant only in the villages. In the cities, the Right to Information Act empowers the people to inspect public records.
  2. Proper Documentation

Everything right from the requirement gathering to planning to implementation must be properly documented. Some of the documents that should be made mandatory are:

  • Applications, tenders, and proposals
  • Financial statements, income – expense statements.
  • Registers of workers
  • Inspection reports.
  1. Accessibility of Documents

Merely generating documents is useless if they are not easily accessible. In this information age, all the documents must be put on line.

  1. Punitive Action

The final and most important provision, about which nothing is being done yet, is to have punitive actions for non-conformance of the process of social audit. Unless there is legal punishment, there will be no incentive for the people in authority to implement the processes in a fair manner.

Methodologies to realize implementation of Social audit:

  1. There is immediate need of imparting training module on implementation of Social Audit in letter and spirit for Officer training courses.
  2. Conducting regular meetings to review and discuss data/information on performance indicators.
  3. The use of Information and technology can be effectively utilised in order to monitor right implementation of Social audit for purpose of Good governance.
  4. Follow-up of social audit meeting with the panchayat body reviewing stakeholders’ actions, activities and viewpoints, making commitments on changes and agreeing on future action as recommended by the stakeholders.
  5. The findings of the social audit should be shared with all local stakeholders. This encourages transparency and accountability.
  6. Establishment of a group of trusted local people including elderly people, teachers and others who are committed and independent, to be involved in the verification and to judge if the decisions based upon social audit have been implemented.
  7. There should be Clarity of purpose and goal of the local elected body in terms of various indicators and parameters that are expected to be implemented.
  8. It is particularly important that marginalized social groups, which are normally excluded, have a say on local development issues and activities and have their views on the actual performance of local elected bodies.

Case study: Examples of social audit

Micro-development planning as part of social audit

A voluntary development organization Samarthan and PRIA (Society for Participatory Research in Asia) collaborated in a participatory micro-planning exercise with local officials, panchayat members, members of different castes, etc. The process was a way to bring resources to the local community and to increase its involvement in Gram Sabha meetings which took place four times a year.

This led to the identification of several goals. One was to construct a drain. Inspired by the participatory local planning process, the community contributed half the cost of the drain (Rs 50 000). Those who could not give money offered their labour. The rest of the money came from the district office and was mobilized by the Gram Panchayat and its pro-active woman president, the Sarpanch.

Every member of the Gram Sabha developed a sense of ownership of the project. The Gram Sabha monitors the work. Gram Panchayat representatives also hold regular ward-level meetings. The relationship between people and their local representatives developed quickly into one of mutual support.

 


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

6) Discuss the significance of Malabar-17 exercise for the Indo-Pacific region. (200 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction-

The 2017 Malabar exercise was the 21st edition of the exercise and conducted from 10 to 17 July 2017. This edition involved navies from India, USA and Japan. The exercise included a harbor phase at Chennai from 10 to 13 July 2017 and a sea phase from 14 to 17 July 2017 in the Bay of Bengal.

This edition focused on Aircraft Carrier operations, Air defense, Anti-submarine warfare (ASW), Surface warfare, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Search and Rescue (SAR), joint and tactical procedures. There was also joint training between the naval special forces of the Indian and US Navies at INS Karna, Visakhapatnam. A total of 16 ships, 2 submarines and 95 aircraft participated in this exercise. It was the first exercise between the three countries which involved three aircraft carriers

Significance of the Malabar-17 for Indo-Pacific region-

While the Malabar exercise takes place every year – and is, in that sense, a regular naval engagement – the 2017 iteration is significant for multiple reasons.

  • The exercise between India-Japan-US comes against the backdrop of a tense face-off with China in Dokalam at the trijunction of India, Bhutan and China. There is a sense that New Delhi’s refusal to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in May this year upset Beijing, resulting in a Chinese incursion on the eastern border. The Malabar is being seen as an opportunity for India to strike a hard-posture in a place where it perceives a strategic advantage vis-a-vis China — maritime-South Asia.”
  • The trilateral naval drill is being held at a time when the PLA Navy has been increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean – Chinese warships have been regularly visiting Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, even as China’s anti-piracy deployments in the Gulf of Aden have grown in scope and strength. Media reports of the presence of a Chinese submarine and an intelligence ship in India’s near-seas days before the start of Malabar are being seen as a sign of China’s growing confidence in operating in India’s sensitive littorals.
  • This year’s Malabar exercise focuses on submarine hunting and anti-submarine warfare – a fact that assumes importance after recent reports of Chinese submarine being spotted in the Indian Ocean.
  • There is a strengthening China-Pakistan maritime axis in South Asia, with a perceptible rise in Chinese warship and submarine deployments off the Makran coast, with the ostensible purpose of securing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Thus Malabar exercise could be seen as India’s answer to assert its dominance in the Indian ocean region.
  • Malabar 2017 is aimed at strengthening mutual confidence and inter-operability as well as sharing of best practices between the Indian, Japanese and US Navies. The exercise is a demonstration of the joint commitment of all three nations to address common maritime challenges across the spectrum of operations and will go a long way in enhancing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, for the benefit of the global maritime community.”

Conclusion-

Malabar exercise though not aimed specifically against China, it is sure to create skepticism in China due to recent stand-off with India in Sikkim and USA’s aggressive postures in the South China Sea. However India needs to increase its military capacities in the Indo-Pacific region to thwart any threat to its security and sovereignty in the region.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic: Infrastructure

7) Discuss the impact of GST on infrastructure sector. (200 Words)

Livemint

 

Introduction-

The infrastructure sector is the backbone of the Indian economy. The government has been making efforts to boost the sector through various schemes and incentives. Given this, the recent introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) could have significant impact in terms of spending on infrastructure.

Infrastructure sector in pre-GST era-

  • In the pre-GST era, there was dichotomy in the applicable indirect tax regime relevant to infrastructure. While Central laws provided exemptions and concessions, state VAT (value-added tax) and entry tax laws were applicable to goods procured.
  • In addition, the cascading effect of Central and state indirect taxes were a concern, due to a high base for levy of respective taxes and a restrictive credit mechanism.
  • There was also litigation at the Central and state levels on classification of contracts, valuation, jurisdiction of state on inter-state works contracts and other issues.

Probable impact of GST on Infrastructure sector-

  • GST being a concurrent tax on supply of goods and services is expected to bring in predictability for infrastructure projects. There are some changes that would reduce the incidences of indirect taxation such as ‘taxability of works contracts’. As works contracts are limited to only immovable properties, turnkey contracts which do not result in immovable property would now be treated as composite supplies.
  • Further, valuation of goods and services in works contracts, which has typically sparked differences between Central and state indirect tax authorities, would now be put to rest with the legislation laying down unambiguously that works contracts would be regarded as supply of services. Other contracts which do not result in immovable property could be regarded as composite supplies, and depending on the principal supply, tax liability would arise either as a supply of goods or services.
  • While there is apprehension that a flat GST rate of 18% would lead to increased incidence on infrastructure projects, availability of input tax credits would neutralize such concerns. Thus, contractors and suppliers could look forward to a simpler and efficient tax regime.
  • For project owners, the new legislation may not lead to a conducive future. Credit restrictions on works contracts resulting in an immovable property coupled with increase in GST rates could increase cost outlay. Already, exemptions and concessions to infrastructure have been completely withdrawn. This could also lead to increased working capital requirements. Project cost could rise due to increased burden of indirect taxes.
  • Power is an important component of infrastructure. Electricity being outside the purview of GST, power generation companies would continue to have indirect taxes as a significant cost factor. Further, an increase in rate of services and withdrawal of exemptions and concessions for power projects is expected to have an impact on power companies.
  • Similarly, withdrawal of exemptions for road, water supply and sewerage projects sponsored by government and local authorities is expected to increase government spend. However, availability of higher pool of input tax credit in the hands of the contractors could help neutralize such increases.
  • On direct taxes, the government intends to bring down the corporate tax rate in a phased manner and correspondingly phase out profit-linked tax incentives. While most such tax incentives are phased out from 1 April, the industry is yet to witness an impactful reduction. So far, the reduction in the base corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% is for companies with revenue up to Rs50 crore in financial year 2015-16. Infrastructure requires considerable investment and it is likely that it may not be the beneficiary of reduced corporate tax rate.

Conclusion-

So introduction of GST seems to be a mixed bag for the infra sector—predictability and efficiency being the key advantages, while non-inclusion of sub-sectors, higher rate and certain restrictions are negatives.

 


Topic: Employment

8) Discuss the effects of minimum wage on employment. (200 Words)

The Hindu

 

Introduction-

The Union Cabinet is expected to approve a bill that mandates a universal minimum wage. The code would empower the Centre to set a minimum wage to help poor, unskilled workers earn more. However this has raised the debate over what would be the likely impact of the minimum wage on the employment in India.

Effects of minimum wage on employment-

Positive effects-

  • Many low wage, low-skill workers retain their jobs and earn higher wages when minimum wages are increased.
  • Some studies do not find that minimum wages lead to fewer jobs.
  • Living wage policies, adopted by some municipalities in the US, may help reduce poverty.
  • Targeted tax credits do a better job of reaching the poor than minimum wages do.

Negative effects-

  • Compelling evidence from many countries indicates that higher minimum wage levels lead to fewer jobs.
  • Studies that focus on the least-skilled workers find the strongest evidence that minimum wages reduce jobs.
  • Low-paying jobs requiring low skills are the jobs most likely to decline with increased minimum wages.

Research and studies all over the world-

Researchers offer conflicting evidence on whether or not raising the minimum wage means fewer jobs for workers. Studies all across the world have created different opinions.

  • For instance, “Seattle’s Minimum Wage Experience 2015-16”, a 2017 study by researchers at the University of California Berkeley, found that since the city raised its minimum wage in 2015, unemployment dropped from 4.3% to 3.3%.
  • Also famous 1993 study by David Card and Alan B. Krueger had proved that a rise in the minimum wage in New Jersey actually decreased unemployment.
  • Another paper, “Do Lower Minimum Wages for Young Workers Raise their Employment?”, by Claus Thustrup Kreiner, Daniel Reck, and Peer Ebbesen Skov, found that employment among the youth in Denmark decreased by one-third when they attained the age at which their minimum wage increases by 40%. Other economists have found similar evidence suggesting that a minimum wage increases unemployment.
  • Minimum Wage and Restaurant Hygiene Violation”, a 2017 paper by Subir K. Chakrabarti, Srikant Devaraj, and Pankaj C. Patel, found that hygiene violations by restaurants increased significantly after a rise in the minimum wage as the restaurants tried to cut down on cleaning-staff expenses.

Conclusion-

Though the objective and intentions of government behind minimum wage concept are noble and for the good of the workers, it should not create detrimental effects for the worker class a whole. In the absence of any concrete results of effect minimum wage on the employment, government needs to implement the concept on pilot basis in different sectors initially and then should decide the future course of action.

 


General Studies – 4


70 Days ETHICS PLAN

 

Topic: Ethics in personal and professional relations

9) Identify and comment on the personal and professional ethical issues present in the recent event where corruption and malpractices in prisons were unearthed by a lady IPS officer in Karnataka. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Hindu

 

Introduction :- The case of alleging irregularities in the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru where a politician was treated with extraordinary facilities compared to other prisoners highlights following professional and personal ethical issues :-

  • Objectivity & neutrality- favouring a powerful person over other is loss in personal ethics.
  • Trustworthiness- It result into loss in faith of the individual from the system.
  • Courage-A lady officer raising an issue against top notch powerful being shows his courage.
  • Lack of Motivation- officer being transferred without any evidence act as a disappointment for other honest officials and generation to join them.
  • Consciousness-it is a loss in self-respect when one get involve in gruesome incidents like this.
  • Honesty/integrity-it debar other to take stand when something unlawful happening.
  • Favouritism /Equality-favouring the politician and different treatment with others shows disrespect to our preamble and constitution art 14 which talk about equality before law.
  • Transparency & accountability-hiding the issue from the official shows lack transparency & accountability.
  • Moral Turpitude- doing things against law and altering the video footage is before law and erring official should be punished with independent departmental inquiry.
  • Political-bureaucratic nexus-this has resulted into the major cause of failure of the administration system the conundrum that entire society is dealing with.

Abdul Kalam very well said “If you salute your Duty, you no need to salute anybody, but if you pollute your duty, so you have to salute everybody.” The above incident is against work ethics, code of ethics/conduct denigrating the image of the organization and loss in public trust. The Nolan 7 principle some are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, honesty and leadership should be the guiding spirit of any organization or a person.