SECURE SYNOPSIS: 01 FEBRUARY 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.
General Studies – 1
Topic: Urbanisation; Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India)
1) India’s industrialization and urbanization did grow together in the early 1990s. However, in the past decade, share of manufacturing has declined in urban areas and has increased in rural areas. Analyse the causes and consequences of this trend. (250 Words)
- According to Conventional economics industrialization and urbanization go hand in hand as policymakers often adopt an active industrial policy to accelerate growth. Along with it they also embrace an active urban policy since industrialization without urbanization gets stalled.
- However this changed in India as the manufacturing growth in urban areas which was initially concentrated around the mega cities has reduced and share of manufacturing has increased in rural areas.
- Large-scale manufacturing enterprises, that account for 80% of output, are moving into rural areas in search of lower land costs to remain competitive.
- Cheap labour :-
- Huge unskilled labour in rural areas which is suitable for manufacturing enterprises of leather, textile etc
- Labour laws might not be very strictly implemented
- Raw materials and inputs are readily available especially for food processing and agro based processing industries.
- Environmental regulation may not be that strict in rural areas unlike urban areas where stricter pollution norms.
- Government giving impetus by skill development mission, Mudra loans, Startup and standup India
- Employment in the rural areas will increase reducing the burden on agriculture sector leading to increased standard of living as well.
- The gap between urban and rural areas will reduce leading to easing of migration from rural to urban areas.
- Infrastructure in rural areas will improve leading to better education and health facilities.
- India’s future economic growth may not be in its mega cities, which are already dense, but in its secondary cities, where there is substantial untapped potential.
- Next phase of urbanization could result in a four-fold increase in per capita income.
- Provides immense potential for regional and spatial development
- Will lead to De-congestion of urban areas
- Questions whether manufacturing sector moving away from cities will compromise economic growth and job creation, low levels of infrastructure investments in rural areas will slow down the pace of spatial transformation are raised
- The purity of villages would fade away with pollution rising, groundwater contamination increasing
- Threatens food security as due to rise of land prices agricultural land can be sold to industries .
Way forward :-
- Building a smart tier II and tier III city calls for scaling up investments in physical and human infrastructure to make them more competitive, attract new enterprises, and create more jobs.
- India can also draw upon other policy levers to make tier II cities more competitive.
- New technology can play a more dynamic role in urbanization. It can deliver better outcomes to entrepreneurs and citizens. It can reduce congestion costs, make cities green and sustainable, and increase the efficiency of local government programmes.
- Agricultural processing industries can be given impetus in rural areas.
- Connectivity between rural and urban areas can be increased by industrial corridors, Bharatamala scheme etc .
Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
2) India has slipped to 42nd place from 32nd on the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s annual Global Democracy Index and remains classified among “flawed democracies”. Examine on what basis this index is created and why has India slipped in its ranking. (150 Words)
- India world’s largest democracy was ranked 42nd among 165 independent states on annual 2017 Global Democracy Index (GDI) released by UK-based company, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). India’s rank has slipped from 32nd in 2016 GDI .
On what basis this index is created ?
- The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index is based on five categories:
- Electoral process and pluralism
- Civil liberties
- The functioning of government
- Political participation
- Political culture.
- Based on their scores on 60 indicators within these categories, each country is then itself classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy; flawed democracy; hybrid regime; and authoritarian regime.
Why India’s rank slipped?
- Civil liberties:
- The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices.
- In India, media is partially free .The death and murder of journalists
- Rise of conservative religious ideologies.
- Freedom of expression came under question due to intolerance grown against release of some movies, food habits etc
- Targeting people as anti national when they don’t accept the majoritarian perspective.
- Functioning of government and Political culture:-
- Violation of human rights for instance by AFSPA
- Some of the bills in the parliament were passed as the government is in majority
- Parliament sessions delayed
- High criminalisation of politics showing that muscle and money power still dominate the elections. Vote bank identity politics especially in rural areas.
- Dynastic succession in political parties
- Rise of communal incidents across the country
- Journalists are at risk from government, military and non-state actors and radical groups, and the threat of violence has a chilling effect on media coverage.
- India has also become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services.
- Political participation:-
- Political participation of women’s still largely less.
- Even many people are not very enthusiastic in joining politics.
However reforms are being brought out for making the system transparent by moving to cash less economy ,encouraging digitisation, electoral bonds to being transparency in political funding etc.
Way forward :-
- There is a need for the government to build trust among communities and punish the anti social elements very strictly.
- The state governments need to be accountable and not make statements which would further trigger violence like the support of some state governments for the ban of Padmaavat which triggered violence by Karni Sena.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
3) How is India’s Aadhaar different from America’s Social Security Number (SSN)? Do you think going forward Aadhaar will help in better implementation of welfare schemes and administration of subsidies? Comment. (250 Words)
- India’s Unique Identification project is the world’s largest biometrics-based identity programme. Initially, the project had a limited aim to stop theft and pilferage from India’s social welfare programmes by correctly identifying the beneficiaries using their biometrics. But now, the use of Aadhaar is expanding into newer areas, including business applications.
How is Aadhar different from America’s social security number ?
- SSN was created as a number record keeping scheme for government services. Aadhaar was created as a biometric based authenticator and a single unique proof of identity.
- SSN is for citizens and non-citizens authorized to work. Aadhaar is for residents.
- Aadhaar is an identification number. Social Security Number is not.
- Aadhaar authenticates a person. The Social Security Number does not.
- Aadhaar authenticates a person by matching his or her demographics or biometrics with the records in its database.
- Social security number is intended for authentication purposes and has not been built to do this on a national scale. It matches a name and associated Social Security Number against its records only in limited circumstances.
- Aadhaar captures biometrics. The Social Security Number does not.
- Aadhaar collects biometrics, which include the scan of all fingerprints, face and the iris of both eyes.
- The Social Security Number is thus printed on a small paper card and does not carry even a photograph
- Aadhaar links databases. The Social Security Number does not.
- Millions of Aadhaar numbers have been linked to the bank records, ration lists, educational records, and telecom documents of individuals.
- Aadhaar does not have privacy safeguards quite in the same way as the Social Security Number. India does not have a privacy law either at the national or state level
- Aadhaar functioned without a legal framework till recently. The Social Security Number was created through a law.
- The use of Aadhaar is expanding. The use of the Social Security Number is getting restricted.
Benefits of Aadhar:-
- Government schemes are asking for Aadhaar as it helps to clean out duplications and fake accounts, insurance policies and unauthorised mobile connections, and provides accurate data to enable implementation of direct benefit programmes.
- The government claims to have removed millions of fake beneficiaries for government benefits by Aadhaar linking.
- As reported by Mintin May 2017, over 23 million fake ration cards have been scrapped, potentially saving the government Rs14,000 crore in food subsidy every year.
- Another Mint report in August says, three states discovered that about 2,72,000 fake students were availing the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme
- Use of Aadhaar reduces the cost of identifying persons and provides increased transparency to the government in implementation of its schemes.
- When you link your bank account with your Aadhaar, government benefits such as subsidy on LPG cylinders is credited directly to that account.
- The data privacy law will address data privacy and protection in all digital systems, not just Aadhaar.
- Recent initiatives regarding security by UIDAI like Virtual Aadhar are the steps in the right direction.
- Fundamental objection to this linking of services is that all information on an individual will be available at a single place, which could make surveillance easier and also increase the risks if this information is hacked.
- A user’s Aadhaar number and fingerprint are permanent identifiers, and at least the Aadhaar number has been compromised for over 130 million citizens, as per a study by Centre for Internet & Society.
- Users are vulnerable to social hacks. To forcefully and mandatorily link Aadhaar to bank accounts means that their finances are at risk.
- Absence of a clear redressal mechanisms for consumers in case of a data leak, misuse or hack. Not much beyond Regulation 32 has yet been specified by the UIDAI.
- Apart from this, Section 47 of the Aadhaar Act stipulates that only UIDAI or its authorised officers can file a criminal complaint for violations of the Act.
- The UIDAI has been given complete discretion in determining if and when to file a criminal complaint for violations of the Act, and an individual aggrieved by actions of a third person is left to rely upon the bonafide actions of the UIDAI.
- How unbridled, mandatory digitisation is causing immense pain and suffering to the poorest and most marginalised of this country.
- Rajasthan :-
- The inability to open and use bank accounts, seed them with Aadhaar and Bhamashah, and then withdraw pension payments from their accounts using biometric authentication every month is resulting in sanctioned beneficiaries being removed from pension lists
- It is imperative that the issues concerning cyber security breaches, existing architecture loopholes and privacy contravention and violations must be addressed at the earliest before going forward.
- If the UIDAI adopts smart cards, it can destroy the centralized database of biometrics just like the UK government did in 2010 .This would completely eliminate the risk of foreign government, criminals and terrorists using the breached biometric database to remotely, covertly and non-consensually identify Indians
- IT laws have to be modernised and India has to put the liability on the company handling the data so that it is not stolen or shared without consent.
Topic: Functioning of judiciary
4) In India, ehe process of removing a judge – if found guilty of corruption or judicial impropriety – is too elaborate and somewhat cumbersome. Comment on the existing procedure and suggest reforms. (250 Words)
- With an in-house committee concluding that a judge of the Allahabad High Court had committed judicial impropriety serious enough to warrant his removal, the subject of corruption in the higher judiciary is in the news.
Existing procedure :-
- The Constitution of India, through Article 124 (4) empowers the parliament to initiate the process of removal of any supreme court judge. The article says the judge can only be removed from his office on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. Although, it did not define proved misbehaviour
- The first step towards impeachment is for the President and Prime Minister to be intimated of the concerns about the concerned judge. The inquiry committee’s report is then placed on record. This is not crucial to the impeachment process, but could play a role in it. The mandatory steps are as follows:
- There needs to be an impeachment motion in either of the Houses of Parliament. The motion can only be admitted by the Speaker in the Lok Sabha or Vice-President in Rajya Sabha if it has the required levels of support: 100 MPs in Lok Sabha or 50 MPs in Rajya Sabha.
- If the motion is admitted, a three-member committee is set up to investigate the allegations. The committee is made up of a Supreme Court judge, the Chief Justice of any High Court, and a distinguished jurist (read judge/lawyer/scholar) nominated by the Speaker/Vice-President. When serious allegations have been raised in the past against judges, this step was taken.
- However, the remaining steps have not been followed, because during the course of the investigation, the judges have shown the good sense to retire and get themselves out of the public eye.
- Once the committee prepares its report, this has to be submitted to the Speaker/Vice-President, who then also shares it with the other House. If the committee finds that judge is guilty of any misbehaviour, the next step gets triggered.
- Both Houses of Parliament then need to pass an ‘address to the President’ asking for judge to be removed. To succeed, this needs to be passed by a 2/3 majority of the MPs present in each house during the vote, and must also exceed the 50 percent mark in each House. This is the furthest things have ever got in the past, in Justice Ramaswami’s case in 1993, though the motion failed to pass in the Lok Sabha.
- If both addresses succeed, then the President can remove Judge from his position.
Why is it elaborate and cumbersome:-
- The process to impeach a judge of the higher judiciary is incredibly complex, but since this is the only meaningful way to hold these judges accountable.
- The High Courts and Supreme Court are the only institutions that can really take on the government, and hold them to account. It should therefore not be easy for these judges to be removed on the whims of the powers that be.
- However in the recent years there have been instances like the Justice Karnan’s case, Medical bribery case in Uttar Pradesh which raised questions on the impeachment process
- Performance Commission can be instituted. Many U.S. States have constituted such commissions, which examine complaints about the conduct of judges. They are vested with powers to take consequential action. The censure of culpable judges must be governed by the Commission.
- An in-house finding may help hasten it in flagrant cases. That internal mechanisms work with due regard for institutional integrity is something that should be welcomed.
- Judicial accountability bill is necessary.
- There needs to be some thought about giving more teeth to the CJI when it comes to High Court judges especially perhaps by allowing him to temporarily suspend the judge themselves (rather than relying on the Chief Justice of the relevant High Court).
- To prevent it from becoming overreach by the CJI, it could be that such suspensions are restricted to situations where the inquiry committee finds that there has been criminal or otherwise gravely serious misconduct.
- There should also be some sort of similar proceedings to take action against a judge who retires before the impeachment process is completed. Impeachment doesn’t just deal with criminal misconduct, after all, so while this may remain a possibility after a strategic retirement, in many other cases, the impropriety will go unpunished.
- Try and introduce time limits for Parliament to deal with impeachment motions .
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,
5) It is argued that to resolve inter-state river disputes a right, credible and institutionalised practices for enabling inter-State mediation, coordination and cooperation is needed. Comment on the existing policy and elaborate the statement. (250 Words)
Existing policy :-
- In the case of disputes relating to waters, Article 262 provides:
- Parliament may by law providefor the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
- Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may, by law providethat neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.
- At present, the resolution of water dispute is governed by the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956. According to its provisions, a state government can approach the Centre to refer the dispute to a tribunal, whose decision is considered final
- Interstate water dispute act:
- Disputes Resolution Committee: Under the Act, when a complaint is received from a state government regarding a water dispute, the central government may ask the affected states to undertake negotiations to settle the dispute. If the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations, the central government has to set up a Water Disputes Tribunal within a year of receiving such a complaint.
- Time allotted to Tribunal to take its decision: Under the Act, any water disputes tribunal has to give its decision on a dispute within a period of three years. This period is extendable by a maximum of two years.
- Under the Act, if the matter is again referred to the tribunal by a state for further consideration, the tribunal has to submit its report to the central government within a period of one year. This period of one year can be extended by the central government for such a period as it may consider necessary.
- Maintenance of data bank and information: Under the Act, the central government maintains a data bank and information system at the national level for each river basin.
- Disputes have become sites of political mobilisation in multi-party democratic setting. Political partiesoften ride on the emotive associations and notions of identity to animate and escalate disputes.
- With increasing demand for water, inter-state river water disputes are on the rise.
- Under the present Act, a separate Tribunal has to be established for each dispute and there is no time limit for adjudication or publication of reports.
- Only three of the eight tribunals have actually given awards accepted by the states. Tribunals like those on the Cauvery and Ravi Beas have been in existence for over 26 and 30 years respectively without any award.
- When tribunal recommends such mechanisms, states object to these arrangements, as it happened in the Cauvery and Krishna disputes.
Statement elaboration/reforms needed:-
- Inter-State cooperation has always been approached by resolving disputes. Here is a telling contrast. The Act of 1956 for resolving disputes has been amended at least a dozen times since its inception. But the River Boards Act, 1956, drafted simultaneously for inter-State collaboration, has not been amended even once since then.
- A single, permanent tribunal subsuming all the existing tribunals is proposed to be established to resolve grievances of states with speed and efficiency.
- A permanent tribunal to adjudicate river water disputes between States will undoubtedly be a vast improvement over the present system of setting up ad hoc tribunals as it is expected to provide for speedier adjudication.
- An expert agency to collect data on rainfall, irrigation and surface water flows acquires importance and looks like an ideal mechanism to apportion water because party-States have a tendency to fiercely question data provided by the other side.
- The Dispute Resolution Committee, an expert body that will seek to resolve inter-State differences before a tribunal is approached will discourage for needless litigation.
- Water disputes are highly politicised and a strong public opinion forms around these issues. A single tribunal would address this issue as it would not be questioned for being politically biased.
- Institutional mechanisms should be backed by the political will to make them work.
- Public opinion is an important factor that cannot be wished away. The Central government must keep these factors in mind when setting up the proposed tribunal. Without that cooperative approach, India’s water dispute resolution is unlikely to see much improvement.
- The drive for political resolution suggests a welcome realisation to push the envelope beyond legal routes. But the practices need to be structured within the constitutional realm. For example, the mediation practices may be structured under the Inter-State Council, provided by the Constitution for the exclusive purpose of inter-State coordination. .
- River basin commissions, which work in a cooperative manner to manage trans-boundary conflicts, might offer a more workable solution
- The ecosystem has to enable not just inter-State dialogue for collaboration, but also other goals of executing agreements and projects for river development, conservation and restoration
General Studies – 3
Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
6) Increasing the household savings rate and nudging savers to park their surpluses in financial assets have always been high on the agenda of Indian Finance Ministers however with little success. Suggest ideas to encourage citizens to park their money in financial assets. (250 Words)
- In India, both investment and consumption are largely driven by households. Household consumption accounted for 59.4% of the GDP in 2016, according to the World Bank.
- Total savings, which are vital for investment, amounted to 32.5% of the GDP, of which household savings alone contributed 23.6% to the GDP, according to NITI Aayog
Why people do not show much interest in financial assets:-
- Indian savers prefer to bet their surpluses on physical assets such as gold or property, instead of in productive financial assets such as deposits, bonds and shares.
- Tax laws encourage leveraged investments in property by allowing tax deductions on both the principal (Section 80C) and interest repayments (Section 24B) on home loans. But when it comes to financial investments, many popular avenues (bank and post office deposits less than five years, recurring deposits, bonds) receive no tax breaks even on the actual investment.
- Property investments also enjoy more generous capital gains exemptions than financial products. Capital gains earned on selling residential property after three years is not taxed if you reinvest the proceeds in another house. But this reinvestment benefit is unavailable to financial products.
- Capital gains tax rules for financial products are complex
- Flexibility to choose the tax saving instruments is restricted. There’s a restrictive list of ‘approved’ 80C investments that has grown over the years and it distorts choices for savers.
- Present tax laws ignore individual risk-taking ability, and try too hard to push investors towards equities.
- Tax procedures are very complicated
- If a company goes bankrupt, its shares are worthless and any debt it owes may be unrecoverable. The rising volume of non-performing assets indicates that corporate India is struggling to service debt obligations, which means corporate debt is high-risk
Ideas to encourage citizens are:-
- Instead of micromanaging savings under 80C, it would be good if the government did away with the approved list and offered just one deduction for financial investments. That would allow savers freedom of choice based on individual goals.
- Increasing financial literacy of people is the first and foremost thing which is necessary
- Treat equity gains as ‘long term’ only after three years.
- Fraudulent companies shall be dealt with appropriately to develop popular trust.
- In order to promote stock market knowledge among the retail investors, there is a need for promotional activities like TV shows, AD campaigns, documentaries providing information about scheme such as Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Schemes (RGESS) wherein new investors can be attracted towards the capital market.
- To establish a level playing field between physical and financial assets, sale proceeds from financial assets, if held long term, should be allowed to be reinvested without capital gains tax.
- A uniform definition of ‘long-term’ and cost inflation benefits for all financial products, whether they are bonds or bank deposits, would render them more attractive.
- It would be desirable to tax both dividend and interest income at similar rates in the hands of investors. .
- Holding of trade fairs for promoting capital markets in tier II & tier III cities is required. This is another method wherein most of the banks, Non-Banking Financial Corporations (NBFC) and broking companies can put up their stalls and large number of investors can be attracted for such fairs through media campaigns.
- The social media platforms specially Face Book, Twitter, LinkedIn along with e-groups and websites can spread awareness about various options available for the investors in the present market situation. The investor education can play a vital role in improving the active participation of the investors in the market which can help them in the informed investment and in getting good returns.
These measures above will not just nudge savings behaviour closer to the policy objectives. They will also make financial products vastly more appealing to savers, by uncomplicating the tax rules that presently hamper their freedom of choice
General Studies – 4
Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.
According to Immanuel Kant his idea of senses both external and internal say mind was to understand the world around due to which knowledge arises. So this knowledge shapes our mental capability where reason is given the primary importance.
Kant believed moral obligation derived from our free, rational nature. Kant believed that freedom came from rationality, and he advanced roughly the following argument to support this claim:-
- Without reason, we would be slaves to our passions
- If we were slaves to our passions, we would not be free; thus
- Without reason, we would not be free.
Together, we now have the basis upon which to cement the connection between reason and morality.
- Without reason, there is no freedom
- Without freedom, there is no morality, thus
- Without reason, there is no morality.
Reasoning has the highest position because:-
- Even in ethical dilemma situations it is because of reason one makes logical decisions.
- Due to reasoning ,one understands the morality and not follow others blindly .For instance in the communal riots, protests by Karni Sena youth blindly followed their leaders leading to loss of government property.
- It is due to reason that society is moving forward in terms of technological innovation which is making the quality of life better.
- Reason when associated with emotionally intelligence helps you in making good decisions like ho environmental sustainability is imperative now.
However reason without empathy, compassion can have drastic impact:-
- It can lead to intolerance like the persecution of Jews during holocaust.
- People’s life is not valued-refugee issues, human trafficking etc
- Reasoning has to be supported by ethical and moral values to have beneficial impact on the society .If negative emotions affect reasoning it leads to disaster like the religious fundamentalism ideologies of terrorists, staunch right wing groups etc.