SECURE SYNOPSIS: 08 JANUARY 2018
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.
Topic: Poverty and developmental issues
- As the problems such as persistent poverty and inequality, poor health, and environmental degradation that the SDGs aim to solve are systemic issues ,there is a need for effective collaboration from multiple stakeholders.
Issues with traditional approach:-
- One size does not fit all does not work.
- The many different capabilities that must be brought together to address systemic issues are unable to collaborate with each other easily on the ground .
- The people, have inadequate voices in the design and management of expert-driven, top-down programmes.
- Strong institutions founded on principles of partnership, cooperation, and universal justice are essential.
- People must have a much greater say in governance.
- Only if local people will take responsibility for implementing the SDGs in their community and their region do we have a realistic change of accomplishing the audacious task set by Agenda 2030.
- Dedicating to a human-centric, rights-based approach across all the sustainable development goals will not only end poverty but also bring dramatic improvements in quality of life, the environment and governance for everyone.
- Hunger can be eliminated better opportunities for farmers are created.
- Technology can help us to fundamentally transform education delivery .
- There is a need to move beyond “first study, then work” to a model based on lifelong learning.
- Content and quality must change, with the emphasis on critical thinking, collaboration and flexibility alongside “hard skills”.
- Business must play a critical role in the constant skilling, reskilling and upskilling of employees and broader communities and focus on the needs of undernourished groups.
- Sustainability means using fewer natural resources to produce food and reducing food waste and loss. Improved nutrition means reducing both hunger and obesity through improved education, and access and availability of quality foods.
- Tackle wastewater especially in towns and cities as 80% of it is currently not treated.
- Accelerating technology, partnership models and financing mechanisms to scale wastewater treatment solutions can create “new” reuseable sources of water for industry and agriculture and free up lots more fresh water for humans and nature.
- Well-functioning and transparent institutions that effectively protect property rights, reduce red tape, combat corruption and keep nepotism in check are essential. Doing this will create a stable and predictable business environment,fuel investment, create jobs and facilitate the production of higher value goods and services in an economy.
- Through a resilient, trusted digital infrastructure 2 billion people could be added to the innovation process. So a collaborative innovation processes focused on eliminating waste of resources instead of replacing labour with technology is needed.
- Healthy oceans :
- There is a need to form new partnerships for fishing, acidification, waste, marine transport
- Forge new forms of regional and global governance to manage blue commons.
- Agriculture needs:
- sustainable intensification and climate-proofing of agriculture
- scaled land-use planning with satellite observation
- ecosystem economics and natural capital modeling
- empowering rural, indigenous and forest people
- sorting land tenure and enforcing law, including for trafficking endangered species.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
- The political funding mechanism developed over the last 70 years has faced widespread criticism as people do not get clear details about how much money comes, from where it comes and where it is spent.
- Nearly 70% to 80% of the funds to the political parties are never reported and they are collected from unknown sources.
- The union government recently announced details of political funding that can be routed by donors to parties through electoral bonds, a scheme announced by it in Union Budget 2017.
Past attempts failure:-
- Corporate donations were legalised in 1985 but the system had grown used to black money and there were neither tax incentives nor privacy laws to aid corporate donations.
- The political system continued to incentivise evasiveness and false declarations.
- For instance, a 2003 law that capped expenditure by candidates but allowed parties and independent supporters to spend on their behalf meant that candidates were under-reporting expenditure.
- Even major political parties were spending four to six times the ceiling.
Electoral bonds scheme :-
- Electoral bonds would be a bearer instrument in the nature of a promissory note and an interest-free banking instrument.
- A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India will be eligible to purchase the bond.
- Electoral bonds can be purchased for any value in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 10 lakh, and Rs. 1 crore from any of the specified branches of the State Bank of India.
- Electoral bonds for political funding can be purchased from SBI for 10 days in January, April, July and October.
- The bond shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorised bank
- The bonds will have a life of 15 days during which they can be used to make donations to registered political parties that have secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last election to the Lok Sabha or Assembly.
- Every political party will have to file returns to the Election Commission on how much funds have been received
- Electoral bonds are essentially bearer bonds that ensure donor anonymity.
How will the Bonds help?
- The current system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent
- The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed
- According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc. After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
- Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.
How it is not an improvement:-
- Analysts said the move could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.
- Electoral bonds make electoral funding even more opaque. It will bring more and more black money into the political system.
- With electoral bonds there can be a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party. If this could be arranged, then a businessman could lobby for a change in policy, and legally funnel a part of the profits accruing from this policy change to the politician or party that brought it about.
- These bonds share two characteristics with tax havens e,secrecy and anonymity.
- Electoral bonds eliminate the 7.5% cap on company donations which means even loss-making companies can make unlimited donations.
- The requirement for a company to have been in existence for three years (paving the way for fly-by-night shell companies) is also removed
- Companies no longer need to declare the names of the parties to which they have donated so shareholders won’t know where their money has gone.
- As for political parties, they no longer need to reveal the donor’s name for contributions above ₹20,000, provided these are in the form of electoral bonds. So a foreign company can anonymously donate unlimited sums to an Indian political party without the EC or the IT department ever getting to know.
- They have potential to load the dice heavily in favour of the ruling party as the donor bank and the receiver bank know the identity of the person. But both the banks report to the RBI which, in turn, is subject to the Central government’s will to know.
- Critics argue that such a solution pushes back decades of work to ensure that the electoral process is not captured by just the rich .
- According to Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi an alternative worth exploring is a National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute.
- The funds would be allocated to political parties in proportion to the votes they get. Not only would this protect the identity of donors, it would also weed out black money from political funding
- The best way to bring about such transparency in political funding is to put a complete ban on cash donations by individuals or companies to political parties.
- Making it mandatory for all parties to receive donations only by cheque, or other modes of money transfer.
- There should be clear provisions for getting tax benefits for all those making such donations.
- Make it mandatory for political parties to submit details of all donations received with the Election Commission and also with the income-tax department.
- State funding of political parties can be considered.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
3) The Supreme Court judgments reinforce the fact that merely enacting legislations to empower persons with disabilities will not suffice. Analyse how the Supreme Court of India is shifting the paradigm on disability rights. (250 Words)
- The Rights to persons with disabilities act was enacted to give effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a convention enacted to change attitudes and approaches towards persons with disabilities. But hardly anything changed in Indian scenario.
Merely enacting will not help :-
- In many cases, this reservation for higher educational institutions was only confined to paper as even established and reputed institutions failed to implement it.
- For example, , the petitioner ( Shamnad Basheer v Union of India case )has highlighted that not even one seat was reserved for persons with disabilities by some national law universities.
- Discrimination, silent judgment and charitable treatment have become all too common for India’s 70 million disabled persons.
- In their everyday lives, the disabled in India are forced to grapple with a lack of autonomy, and a nagging feeling of insecurity and frustration.
How SC is shifting the paradigm on disability rights?
- The original petition in the Disability Rights Group casewas only confined to law schools. However, SC extended the decision to all educational institutions.
- To ensure that the reservation mandated is not confined merely to paper ,the court mandated all institutions to submit a list of the number of disabled persons admitted each year in each institution to the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities or the state commissioner.
- The court also explicitly states that it will also be the duty of the chief commissioner or the state commissioner to enquire if educational institutions are fulfilling their obligation with regard to reservation.
- By creating checks and balances, the court has devised a simple reporting mechanism to prevent institutions from flouting the provisions on reservations in the RPWD Act and
- An audit report in 2016 revealed that not a single public building in India is accessible to disabled people .So SC directed the UGC to complete an accessibility report and study in a time bound manner.
- SC notes that to ensure the level playing field, it is not only essential to give necessary education to the persons suffering from the disability, it is also imperative to see that such education is imparted to them in a fruitful manner.
- In the SC judgments, elements of the social model of disability which recognises them as equal and competent members of society are introduced into the jurisprudence of disability rights discourse in India.
- SC recognised persons with disabilities as individuals with rights on par with their able bodied counterparts, and has opened up the doors to inclusive education
- Real equality does not merely mean absence of discrimination.It is equally imperative for the state to provide the disabled access to opportunities through affirmative action and reasonable accommodation.
- The real reason why the disabled feel handicapped because their ability to realise their full potential is hampered by the inability of society to meaningfully assimilate them into the mainstream.
- It grounded the rights of the disabled in the Constitutional value of human dignity, and held that what the disabled seek is not sympathy, but a recognition of the fact that they too should be allowed to enjoy the freedom on a footing of equality with their able-bodied counterparts.
- What really sets this judgment apart is the court’s nuanced enunciation of the covert forms of discrimination against the disabled that far too often go unnoticed
- Real change occurs only on effective implementation and on tackling the attitudinal barriers of society. The eloquently articulated observations of the Supreme Court are likely to pave the way for the creation of a more egalitarian social order, not just in law, but also in reality.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
- The state of broadcast journalism, irresponsible behaviour of the fourth estate were prime-time broadcasts over the last couple of years ,instances of victim blaming, trial by media, and scant respect for facts shows the sorry state of media in India at present.
- The Indian media have grown rapidly in scale, reach, influence, and revenues. The ethical underpinning of professional journalism in the country has weakened and that the corrosion of public life in India has impacted journalism.
Self regulation is needed:-
- Self-regulation goes beyond the statutory arrangement by having a mechanism for continuous reflection on the craft of journalism.
- This ensures fairness and accuracy in reportage .
- It also actively provides a platform for both readers and journalists to wrestle with a range of dilemmas.
- A newspaper does not just provide credible information but inquisitiveness, reading pleasure and visual experience are of equal importance.
- No statutory framework can address all these elements.
- In India, legal regulation in the form of a statutory body like Press council of India has not served the purpose for which it was constituted.
- It has not been able to ensure press freedom, evidenced by frequent attacks on the press from various quarters
- It has not been able to keep an effective check on the malpractices in the media, evidenced by inaction on several complaints of inaccurate information and paid news against some newspapers.
- It has no way of imposing punishments or enforcing its directions for professional or ethical violations.
- The press in the UK has been governed by self-regulation for the last five decades. The Press complaints commission has been functioning as an independent body administering the system of self-regulation for the press.
- Censorship of news by government is not possible when self regulation is there and media is free to express.
Self regulation is not the solution:-
- Collective self-regulation has failed because it is neither universal nor enforceable. Individual self-regulation has also failed due to personal predilections and the prevailing of personal interest over public interest.
- There is a possibility of self regulating body to overlook some wrong-doings of the press, in order to protect the large interests of the media as an industry.
- The inability of the industry and the Press Council to go public with its report on paid news is also another pointer to the problems of self regulation and the ‘culture of silence’ in the entire industry when it comes to self criticism.
- Irresponsible behaviour of media houses recently during the Pathankot attacks also question the idea of self regulation in India.
- Even in UK ,there are no monetary penalties that can be imposed or suspension of licenses by the PCC.
- For example, the PCC has been considered ineffective in the case of the phone hacking scandal that rocked the British Parliament in the recent years
- The way forward in India could be to empower the Press Council of India, allowing it to take punitive action in the form of punitive monetary penalties, suspension of license, etc.
- Also, PCI must be made more representative of the stakeholders in the media, thus giving them a voice.
- In fact, the British model of PCC may be adopted with members of the press must coming together to draft a code of practice.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
5) The torture of individuals in state custody remains a brazen human rights abuse that mocks our governance even as we claim human dignity as the end objective of the Indian state. Why torture is a cause for concern and what should be India’s stand on this issue? Comment. (250 Words)
Torture is concern in India:-
- India’s NHRC had reported a significant number of torture cases involving police and security organisations.
- It has been urging the government to recognise torture as a separate crime and codify punishment in a separate penal law.
- Judicial stand:-
- In Raghbir Singh v. State of Haryana (1980) and Shakila Abdul Gafar Khan v. Vasant Raghunath Dhoble (2003), the Supreme Court said it was deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture is visible and torture is assuming alarming proportions
- Forcible feeding, sleep deprivation, sound bombardment, electric shocks, cigarette burning, and other forms are forms of torture used by government agencies in India.
- Failure of India to ratify UN convention despite signing it
- Difficulties in extraditing criminals from foreign countries are present due to the absence of a law preventing harsh treatment by authorities.
- Neither the Indian Penal Code nor the Code of Criminal Procedure specifically or comprehensively addresses custodial torture.
- Unlike custodial deaths, the police are not required to report cases of torture which do not result in deaths to the NHRC.
- The Supreme court guarantees that citizens could claim against the police the ‘right against torture’ and declared that it flows from Article 21’s guarantee of ‘personal liberty’.
- Torture increases the hatred towards the state machinery as it does not give an opportunity to the perpetuator to reform
What should India’s stand be:-
- India needs to expeditiously ratify the Convention against torture.
- The government needs to pass the prevention of torture bill 2017.
- The draft Prevention of torture bill, 2017 proposed stringent punishment to perpetrators to curb the menace of torture and to have a deterrent effect on acts of torture. The punishment could extend up to life imprisonment and include a fine.
- An effective mechanism must be put in place to protect victims of torture, complainants and witnesses against possible threats, violence or ill-treatment.
- The State should own the responsibility for injuries caused by its agents on citizens, and the principle of sovereign immunity cannot override the rights assured by the Constitution.
- Police reforms including community policing need to be further encouraged.
- More powers should be given to human right commissions in India to do suo moto proceedings against the machinery responsible.
- Judiciary reforms are needed so that under trials do not spend much time in prisons.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
6) A recent UN report has underlined that fulfilment of national pledges related to carbon emission reductions under the Paris Agreement would be inadequate to keep global warming below 2°C. Thus, a renewed focus on climate governance is imperative. Examine how can India set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process through its actions. (250 Words)
- India is at the top of the list of nations expected to be worst hit by the adverse effects of climate change. India’s climate is warming up at a very fast rate. It is warming at a much faster rate than thought previously. So there needs to be a proactive role played by India.
India’s role :-
- India could set the precedent in deepening the dialogue process through an action-oriented, inclusive, bottom-up approach, involving extensive participation and collaboration of its States.
- Role of Indian states:-
- States play a vital part of the coalition between the Centre, civil society, businesses, and key climate stakeholders.
- India’s State Action Plan on Climate Change supports the integration of national climate change goals into subnational policies.
- Enhancing climate actions is expected to involve routine engagement of the States in the international process.
- The Under2 Coalition, a Memorandum of Understanding by subnational governments to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050, is generating a unique precedent for bold climate leadership, with its member states and regions surpassing 200 in number.
- Currently, Telangana and Chhattisgarh are signatories to this pact from India. Greater representation of Indian States is crucial.
- India must look towards creating knowledge action networks and partnerships under both national and State action plan frameworks.
- Kerala has taken the lead to build such a knowledge network funded by the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
- India has committed to meet its current target of 33% reduction in emission intensity of the 2005 level by 2030, by generating 40% of its energy from renewables.
- Both national and State plans would need to be periodically reassessed and reviewed. A transparent framework for review, audit and monitoring of GHG emissions is needed.
- As State capacities vary significantly, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be applied to allocate mitigation targets in different States, based on the principle of equity.
- India can move to BS-6 by 2020 and give encouragement to electric vehicles which can reduce the vehicular pollution plaguing the country.
- India should invest far more in green energy research and development to boost innovation so green energy will eventually outcompete fossil fuels.
- There is a need to further encourage climate resilient agricultural crops and use water sensibly especially not cultivating water intensive crops in water scarce areas
- Necessary technology has to be incorporated to study the agricultural land and educate farmers regarding the amount of pesticides to be used .
- Organic farming can be promoted
- Citizens of India as a whole need to concentrate on keeping the environment clean
The climate change has humongous impacts all over the world so India needs to actively collaborate with international organisations in tackling this issue.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.; Infrastructure
7) Both central and state governments own huge swathes of land properties whose actual measurement is unclear. Examine critically the issue of land hoarding by government agencies and its impact on economy. (250 Words)
- Various Central Ministries admit to owning only about 13,50,500 hectares of land however disparate official sources suggest that the correct figure is several times more than what is disclosed. So it is necessary to dig this issue in detail
Land hoarding in India:-
- None of the government agencies maintains adequate ownership records.
- For instance, the 13 major ports have failed to produce title deeds for as much as 45% of their land holdings.
- The information provided by the Government Land Information System (GLIS) is both incomplete and patchy.
- Large proportion of government land lies unused.
- Land hoarding by government agencies has created artificial scarcity and is one of the main drivers of skyrocketing urban real estate prices.
- Most Indian cities defy the basic tenets of urban planning. The main reason is the large areas of unused or underutilised government land with an irresponsibly low Floor space index.
- The allocation of unused land is rife with corruption.
- Scams involving the Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, the Srinagar airfield project, and the Kandla Port Trust are a few of the many examples of alleged complicity between private developers and local officials to misuse government land.
- Large part of the unused land is high-value property in prime areas in major cities.
- High land prices also reduce competitiveness by increasing the cost of industrial and development projects.
- The investment per square metre gradient of Indian cities is very low and haphazard. This is bad as solving the problem of wastage could generate employment and pull masses out of poverty, thereby aiding the economy to grow fast.
- Middle and lower class households find it difficult to own house.
- People have the right to know the size and use of land holding by government agencies, since most of the official land has been acquired from them by paying pittance by way of compensation
- The Centre has asked departments to identify surplus land. Unfortunately, agencies are not cooperating .This needs change.
- A comprehensive inventory of land resources and usage patterns for all government branches is needed.
- It should include information on the location of each property, its dimensions, the legal title, current and planned use, and any applicable land use restrictions.
- This will enable effective identification of suboptimal land use, as well as of the land that is surplus
- Surplus land should be utilised to meet the ever-growing demands for services, such as water and waste disposal, as well for government-sponsored housing and transportation projects.
- Case study from Britain:-
- A public-government partnership is necessary .
- The government has pledged to provide details of ownership, location, and intended use for all properties.
- Citizens are invited to contest official land use and suggest alternatives.
Topic: Conservation; S&T
8) With the rate of zoonotic diseases (pathogens that jump from animals to humans) on the rise, migratory animals have been under increasing suspicion of aiding the spread of devastating diseases such as bird flu, Lyme disease and even Ebola. Examine if it’s right to put blame squarely on migratory birds for increase in the rate of zoonotic diseases. (150 Words)
- Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals.
- Emerging zoonoses with pandemic potential are a stated priority for the global health security agenda, but endemic zoonoses also have a major societal impact in low-resource settings. Although many endemic zoonoses can be treated, timely diagnosis and appropriate clinical management of human cases is often challenging.
Blaming the migratory birds is right:-
- Pathogens seem to pose some costs on their migratory hosts, which would reduce the chances of migrants spreading pathogens, but perhaps not enough of a cost to eliminate the risk completely.
- Migratory birds facilitate the movement of ticks to new territories. Avian migration has opened the door for many diseases to spread over vast distances each year by carrying disease vectors such as ticks, or by the birds being themselves infected by the disease and spreading it to others as they migrate.
- According to study by Cohen et al in US In the spring of 2013 and 2014 they captured 3,844 birds, of 85 different bird species that were returning north for the summer. Out of these 137, about 3.56%, were infected with ticks.
Its not right to blame these birds:-
- These suspicions are bad for migrating animals, because they are often killed in large numbers when considered a disease threat. They are also bad for humans, because blaming animals may obscure other important factors in disease spread, such as animal trade.
- Pathogenic microbes are surprisingly bad at expanding their range .Microbes find it difficult to thrive when taken out of their ecological comfort zone.
- For instance Bali might just be a tad too hot for a Tasmanian parasite to handle.
- There is in fact surprisingly little direct evidence that migrants frequently spread pathogens long distances. This is because migratory animals are notoriously hard for scientists to track. Their movements make them difficult to test for infections over the vast areas that they occupy.
- Migratory animals must work exceptionally hard to travel. Migrant animals may have to be at the peak of health if they are to survive such gruelling journeys. If a sick animal can’t migrate, then neither can its parasites
- According to studies migratory shorebirds are exceptionally good at resisting invasion from ingested microbes, even after flying thousands of kilometres .
- There is no doubt that migrants are involved in pathogen dispersal to some degree, but there is increasing evidence that humans shouldn’t jump the gun when it comes to blaming migrants.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in human actions; Attitude; Emotional intelligence
You are in a dilemma now.
- a) Do you think there is merit in arguments made by your friends and professors? Justify.
- b) In case you still want to pursue IAS, give compelling arguments why you want to pursue it. (250 Words)
The ethical dilemmas from the given case study are:-
- Conflict of conscience.
- Responsibility towards parents vs following one’s aspirations.
- Poverty suppressing dreams of the dreamer etc.
A)Based on the arguments put forward by my friends and professors, the following can be concluded.
- Additional burden on my parents if i don’t take up the job is a substantiate argument.
- The job is very good and it would provide me and my parents not only financial mobility but also social mobility
- IAS exam needs time to prepare so not considering the job in the present circumstances is not logical.
- There is lateral entry in Indian government jobs as seen by the appointment of Mr. Raghuram Rajan as RBI governor. With good experience in Google I can come back to India and make some difference to the people.
- Also i can establish a company in India with sufficient expertise in Google providing jobs to youth .
- I can work at Google and in the free time I can always prepare for IAS .But taking the Google job is a priority now.
- Being IAS is not an end but just a means to carry out public service so that can be done even by being in private sector as is visible by the work of Ratan Tata ,Medha Patkar,Kailash Satyarthi etc.
- My dream job is IAS so i will never be satisfied with what i do at Google.
- I can arrange for the financial security of my parents till i clear this exam.
b)Arguments why i want to pursue IAS:-
- IAS gives me an opportunity to work and make a difference at the ground level by lifting many families from poverty, ensuring quality education is provided , face health contingencies , inculcate values in the youth etc.
- As an IAS i can work in multiple fields and gain expertise regarding the compelling issues plaguing the society.
- Due to poverty , I can better understand the plight of millions of poor and do effective programmes for the public.
- I can use technology effectively in the implementation of various government initiatives leading to good governance.
- It gives me an opportunity to project to the society that being a civil servant with integrity, efficiency, good decision making is very important and increase people trust in district machinery especially when corruption is huge.