SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 OCTOBER 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: Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
- In September 1960, Jawaharlal Nehru travelled to Pakistan for a visit amid high expectations all around for the resolution of Kashmir.
- The visit followed the resolution of some major bilateral issues including sharing of Indus waters,
- As former High Commissioner to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan recounts in his book The People Next Door, Nehru and Ayub Khan were going to give the impasse over Jammu and Kashmir a personal push.
- However, matters came to a full stop after Nehru suggested that the “status quo” at the ceasefire line was the only solution.
- For Ayub Khan, this was a non-starter, as he felt the ceasefire line would never be accepted by Pakistan given that it had no political or religious underpinnings.
Vajapayee and Manmohan Singh strategies
- Forty years later, as Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then Manmohan Singh started a similar conversation with Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf.
- The four-step formula, as their version of the talks from 2000-2008 was called, came around to the idea that eventually “borders cannot be redrawn”.
- As Musharraf wrote in his memoirs, and the Prime Minister’s special envoy Satinder Lambah outlined in a speech in 2014, the “out of the box” solution on Kashmir would require greater freedoms and interactions for Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), leading to a lasting peace.
- The cross-LoC bus, which allowed Indian Kashmiris and Pakistani Kashmiris to visit each other, seemed the logical first step forward.
- On the Indian side, the period saw a greater level of engagement between New Delhi and Srinagar, and of the mainstream with separatist thought, even including an abortive attempt for talks with the militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, in 2000.
- The move acknowledges that the solution of the problems in J&K lies in the realm of politics, and not security.
- Second, the open mandate to speak to all parties implicitly indicates that the government is willing to speak to separatists for a “sustained dialogue”, a considerable turn from the hardline policy of the Modi government thus far.
Topic: Salient features of Indian Society; Social empowerment; Poverty and developmental issues; Population – issues
- India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29, according to 2012 Lancet report, which illustrated the need for urgent interventions on this problem.
- According to NCRB data, every hour one student commits suicide in India,several cases being unreported.
- This growing trend of suicide among youth globally and particularly in India is not a sudden phenomenon. It has causes deep rooted in social setup.
- Youth present unique vulnerabilities, not least when a young person feels trapped by circumstances beyond his control.
Importance of youth
- To be an adolescent means that you don’t feel comfortable with what all is going on around you, but older people don’t find it easy to deal with you.
- This is not merely an emotional response to an imperfect world; it is also proof of their fully developed logical capacity. By defying the adults surrounding them, adolescents develop their own identity as individuals. This is not easy, so they depend on their peers to plan and decide.
- Their private fantasies are mostly benign and transformative. We can say that adolescent dreams represent a nation’s wealth. In India, this wealth is mostly burnt up in preparation for examinations.
Reasons for suicides in youth
- Unique character of being young
- The young people are developmentally primed to take risks and behave impulsively is well-recognised.
- It is the result of a unique combination of biological events (such as changes in the brain and puberty) and social expectations (such as those related to completing education and finding a partner) which occur during this period of life.
- These developmental characteristics are essential to prepare the adolescent to successfully negotiate the transition from dependence on one’s parents to being able to face up to the inevitable challenges of adult life.
2.Conflict of values
- In India, customs and traditions which have thrived for centuries are now in conflict with the desires of young people and it is this conflict which is, at least in part, fuelling our astonishing rate of youth suicide.
- Young Indians become more progressive but their traditional households become less supportive of their various choices. Age old customs and tradition are in direct conflict with the desires of young people.
- A vast number of India’s adolescents feel seriously unhappy and resentful. Ignoring or oppressing adolescents is not uncommon in other countries, but India’s case is somewhat extreme.
- Over more than a century, our system of schooling has honed its tools to oppress and defeat the adolescent. The tool used to subdue the rebellious adolescent mind is the Board examination.
- There is tremendous pressure to attain absurdly high grades to secure admission to prized colleges and droves of youth are packed off to tuition factories in places like Kota, which has been in the news for being the epicentre of youth suicides.
- High unemployment rate with dwindling prospects to earn and engage also add salt to the limited career opportunities.
5.Failed romantic relationships accentuated by social restrictions on love
- For some youth, being denied the right to love a person because of their religion, caste, community or sexual orientation, is the most tragic trigger for suicides.
- Conservative social customs are poisoning the lives of our youth, fuelled by forces which champion antiquated views of our society, stratified by class, caste and religion.
- If young people are the hope for our nation’s future, we must bring hope into their lives by entitling them with the freedom to choose how they live and whom they love.
- Government initiatives such as Stand up India, Startup India, MUDRA, skill development, vocational training, entrepreneurship, MGNREGA, are in the right direction which seek to engage youth creatively.
- It is imperative for all the stakeholders to give a healthy environment to the youths so that the future generation is well preserved.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Education was originally a State subject under the Constitution of India and was changed to a Concurrent List only in 1976 via 42nd amendment.
Since the educational past of a state today determines its future, it cannot be denied that education being a state subject before 1976 and even thereafter is shaped majorly by political parties in power and their motives at the time of framing policies.
- Presently literacy rate in West Bengal is just below 80%, above the national average of 74.04%.
- Even with an unfavorable sex ratio of 946/1000, women have partaken in the Education system with men.
- From its very foundation, political elites in West Bengal “neglected primary education and concentrated on higher education which their children would take up”.
- Thus even as schooling at the primary levels in the state stumbled along, West Bengal became host to a number of new and enhanced higher educational institutions: Jadavpur University, University of North Bengal, Rabindra Bharati University, Indian Institute of Management—Calcutta, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and so on.
- Kerala has achieved high literacy, though Kerala already had a fairly high base, with total literacy of 47.18% in 1951 like Maharashtra and West Bengal.According to the 2011 census, Maharashtra is now in 12th place, though it is separated from Kerala by a host of small states, Union territories, and Himachal Pradesh. West Bengal, however, is now in 20th place, with a literacy rate only slightly above the national average.
- The literacy rate at 94% of Kerala is due to its consistent focus on primary schooling and proper implementation of the RTE Act.
- With a Literacy rate of around 84%, it is not far behind in the list from achieving complete literacy.
As happening in several other states in India where investments poured into elite institutions, this focus was maintained in West Bengal even after the Left Front came to power in the 1970s. Even as governments in Kerala and Tripura focused on the most basic levels of education, West Bengal continued, and continues, to build universities.
There are states like Tamil Nadu, which never had a Communist rule but still has a literacy rate of over 80%. Therefore, it would be unfair to wholly give credit or discredit to political parties in case of education.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
- The tragic death of an 11-year old girl in Jharkhand due to lack of seeding of Aadhar reflects the dire situation that poor families in India find themselves in every day.
- Though social security pensions are a lifeline for the elderly poor, the e governance policies being pushed through appear to be more out of a concern for administrative convenience than the right to life.
Issues with e governance in social security
- Cumbersome process for marginalised
- Rajasthan announced that pension forms would be accepted only ‘online’ through ‘e-mitra kendras’ or licensed private sector operators.
- Previously, to apply for a pension, an eligible person could submit pension forms to the panchayat. Now, they have to first go to an e-mitra kendra. The applicant must have with them Aadhaar and Bhamashah cards (a State-level identification platform similar to the UID/Aadhaar system), upload all the documents, submit their biometrics, pay a small fee and wait for verification and sanction.
- Pensioners must also periodically re-verify themselves.
3.Additional cost incurred
- This process is supposed to cost ₹11 but “enterprising” e-mitras charge ₹100.
- For the elderly poor, end-to-end digitisation of social security pension processes is a disaster waiting to happen.
4.Higher digital illiteracy among marginalised section
5. Connectivity still low
6.Distrust in digital money
Why digitisation is required
- Transparency and accountability in the process
2.Minimum leakage in DBT
3.Curb red tapism, fake accounts, corruption
- Evolve a parallel option to digitisation for the time being
- Though effective digital applications exist, the question is to find other, better mechanisms freely available.
- The most sensible policy would be to provide a parallel digital option. The beneficiaries should have the option to choose a payment mode that is convenient to them.
2.Build digital infrastructure
3.Incentives the poor for using digital infrastructure
4.Employ SHG, NGOs to create awareness help poor people so that they are not scared to operate their bank account
Government initiatives like PMGDISHA, BHIM app, BSHARAT NET PROG, VITTIYA SAKSHARTA ABHIYAN are in the right direction to make the society digitally empowered.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian economy
- The government announced a ₹2.11 lakh crore recapitalisation plan for public sector banks in India.
- In funding this plan, ₹1.35 lakh crore is expected to come from the issue of recapitalisation bonds, while the remaining ₹76,000 crore will be through budgetary allocation and market borrowing.
- The three-part package for lenders includes ₹18,000 crore from the Budget, ₹58,000 crore that banks can raise from the market (possibly by tapping the significant room available to dilute the government’s equity that remains well over 51%) and the issue of recapitalisation bonds worth ₹1.35 lakh crore.
Why recapitalisation was necessitated?
- Banks are currently flush with cash which was deposited after demonetisation. Much of that same cash will be used to buy those bonds. The proceeds of the sale of these bonds will be put back into the bank as fresh equity by the government. It’s a neat roundtrip of depositors’ cash coming back as capital. To that extent it is taxpayers who are funding this equity injection.
- Stressed assets due to PPP model
- First, public sector banks have experienced a steady deterioration in the quality of assets. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) noted in its annual report for 2016–17 that as of end-March 2017, 12.1% of the advances of the banking system were stressed.
- These assets are a sum of gross non-performing assets and restructured standard advances.
- This deterioration has been happening since 2009 when in the wake of the global financial crisis, Indian regulators behaved as if this country had a similar crisis and resorted to measures of regulatory forbearance.
- The resultant exuberance in lending to infrastructure projects via the public–private partnership (PPP) model, coupled with governance issues in select public sector banks and associated reports of crony capitalism added to this baggage of non-performing assets.
2.Low credit growth
- India is predominantly a bank finance-led economy, so when bank lending slows down, it surely impacts future growth. Bank credit growth has been at nearly a 60-year low.
- Bank credit growth since 2014–15 has decelerated drastically and stood as low as 8.2% during 2016–17; latest credit growth (at the end of September 2017) on an annualised basis stood at single digits.
- More importantly, credit to agriculture and allied activities experienced a sharp deceleration: it increased by 5.8% in September 2017, lower than the increase of 15.9% a year ago.
- Credit growth to the services sector decelerated to 7% in September 2017 as well, down from the increase of 18.4% in September 2016.
- Governance reform in banks needed
- Apart from recognition, recapitalisation, resolution, reform is critically needed.
- Those reforms are mostly about governance, meaning granting genuine autonomy to banks in their functioning, including all aspects such as lending, recovery, and recruitment decisions.
- Banks have to be accountable to shareholders, including the government, through their respective boards.
- Without reform of credit functioning, culture, treatment of delinquencies and even ownership structure in banking, this recap effort will only be stopgap.
- Structural issues lingering
Burden of bad loans
- On the supply side, the big constraint on fresh lending is the burden of non-performing assets (NPAs). The NPA ratio has been deteriorating for more than six years, and worse is yet to come. The diagnosis of worsening NPAs reveals five different causes, not all caused by the bankers themselves.
- The first is the disproportionate share of loans that went to infrastructure. These projects are of long gestation and long payback period, so unsuitable for bank lending. That creates an asset liability mismatch for banks, since the liability side is of a short-term nature.
- During the UPA regime, public-sector banks were under pressure to fund the ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure vision.
- Normally such projects ought to be funded by long-term bonds or developmental organisations like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank, or the IDBI in its original avatar. But in the absence of those options of development finance, it fell to public sector banks to provide infrastructure finance. This led to over-exposure.
- The second reason for deterioration of loans could be the impact of key judicial decisions like abrupt cancellations of coal mines and spectrum allocation.
- When the same were re-allocated through expensive auctions, it proved to be a fatal burden on respective business models of power, steel and telecom.
Land acquisition and Environemntal clearances
- The third reason for worsening NPA ratios could be the delays caused by land acquisition and environmental clearances. This reason for NPAs was adequately documented in the Economic Survey.
Asset Quality Review of RBI
- The fourth reason is the Asset Quality Review mandated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2015.
- This was much needed, since it put a stop to the “extend and pretend” culture around worsening credit.
- The fifth reason for worsening NPA is an omnibus called “malfeasance”.
- This includes cosy relationships between banker and borrower, crony capitalism, political interference in lending decisions (a legacy of the past), a less than vigorous attempt to recover past dues, careless due diligence, etc.
- Extending duration of loans, debt restructuring, swapping equity for debt
- New insolvency and bankruptcy law.
- Indradhanush scheme focused on banking reforms and recapitalisation of NPA-burdened banks. Two instalments of infusion in the past two years proved woefully inadequate as the NPA ratio continued to mount.
- Expectations towards resolving the banking crisis, however, have been otherwise. It is called “lemon socialism,” wherein losses are socialised and profits are privatised.
- The enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in December 2016 was anticipated to have ushered in a new era, but the reality turned out to be different.
- Sectors like steel, power, or telecommunication continue to be severely stressed.
Topic: Environmental pollution; Industrial policy
- The first draft of a K.R. Rao committee’s effort to revamp India’s national minerals policy – mandated as part of a recent Supreme Court judgement that slammed illegal mining in Odisha – retains the broad structure of the earlier 2008 policy while adding new paragraphs on illegal mining, sustainable development, compensating local tribal populations affected by industrial mining and responsible mine closure.
- As part of its judgment, the bench specifically singled out the ineffectiveness of the 2008 minerals policy while calling for a “fresh and more effective, meaningful and implementable policy”.
Issues and respective solutions of mining industry
- The changes, while helpful, may not do much to shake up an industry that over the last eight years has been marked by illegal and excess mining, environmental violations and unequal distribution of gains.
- E governance against illegal mining
- Over the last few years, it has become clear that mining regulations have failed to clamp down on illegal mining everywhere from Karnataka to Goa. The 2008 policy made only two references to illegal mining, both in a mostly inconsequential manner.
- The preamble of the 2017 policy has been tweaked to acknowledge that an “efficient regulatory mechanism with high penetration of IT, space technology and e-governance” needs to be put in place.
- The advantages of IT and remote sensing technology shall be leveraged for ensuring a monitoring system which is transparent, bias-free, and one that has minimum human interference and effective deterrence effect. An effective follow-up action at various levels through effective coordination among various agencies will ensure prevention and curb illegal mining.
- However, doing away with physical inspections (even in a phased manner) would be unwise.
2.Audit agency against under voicing
- In Goa in 2014, the enforcement directorate’s probe into illegal mining placed under-invoicing as a top priority – in addition to the obvious consequences of tax evasion, under-invoicing also inevitably leads to excess mining.
- What is really needed is a mineral supply chain audit agency that will detect and prevent under-invoicing and other value leakages.
- The first draft of the 2017 policy makes no reference to this even though this practice has become increasingly common.
3.Standards to control corruption
- Another currently missing aspect that civil society stakeholders have pushed for is having India move towards joining the ‘Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative’ – a global standard that is currently an effective practice for controlling corruption.
- It was quickly dismissed by industry arguing that by adopting these standards it would make it difficult for companies to get bank loans.
4.Sustainable development and mining
- The draft mineral policy also adds substantive paragraphs on ecologically-sensitive mining – although the bulk portion of this comes from adding portions of the government’s 2011 ‘Sustainable Development Framework’. This framework was also referenced in the 2008 policy but not added as it would take another three years for it to be finalised.
- The government must ensure that “post-production mine decommissioning and land reclamation” are an integral part of the mine development process.
- Mine reclamation seeks to rehabilitate a mine site to a viable, and wherever practicable, self-sustaining, ecosystem that is compatible with a healthy environment and other human activities. In this context, the government has a role in ensuring the reclamation of currently operating and future mine sites.
- The committee also directs the government to ensure that “comprehensive plans for the reclamation of mined out areas are developed, including the provision of satisfactory financial assurances to cover the costs of reclamation and, where necessary, long-term maintenance”.
General Studies – 4
Topic: ethical concerns and dilemmas
- Ethics forms the base of principles necessary for social cohesion, peaceful co-existence, mutual social trust, collective living and society-building. When ethics are compromised, there is turmoil or the other way around – that is, when there is turmoil, ethics get compromised.
- We are living in a divided World. People are fighting on the basis of religion one practices, colour of one’s skin, place of one’s birth. There is a strong feeling that interest and welfare of diverse people are always conflicting and exclusive to each other. Hence to protect own interest, people harm others.
Ethics in critical times
- But the problem is that ethics is contextual, perceptual .
- Even in turmoil, there is ethics, based on what society in turmoil considers as ethical.
- For instance, Jihadis/Taliban has a different definition of ethics. In rural areas, women engaging in love affairs are labelled unethical.
- In such a situation many argue that ethics are only a theoretical concept and is unable to change these ground realities. Hence there is no use of teaching ethics.
However in turbulent times, study of ethics is even more significant as ethics helps us to
- Ethics teaches us concepts like compassion, empathy.
- We learn to understand our and others emotions through emotional intelligence. This will help us to develop opness and acceptance towards diverse ideas.
- We will understand not to hate those who have diiferent opinions than us.
Rationality and Fairness
- Concepts like Objectivity, Impartiality will help us to made decisions based on merit.
- We are not naturally inclined towards people of our caste, community but towards who makes more sense.
Examples from great leaders
- In ethics we read about lives and ideas of various great leaders like Gandhiji, Swamivivekanand, Plato.
- We understand that violence and force might not necessarily be the best way to solve differences. Rather we try to find common ground and resolve disputes.
- In ethics we are not just reading some abstract philosophical concepts. Rather we learn how to apply them in real life situations though different case studies.
- These case studies takes ethics from textbooks to real life situations. Hence its practicality is very high.
Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said “Darkness cannot stop darkness. Only light can stop the darkness.” Throughout the history, people equipped with only their ethics have waged a war against all the hate and divisiveness of this world.