SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 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 – problems and remedies
- A price control that limits the amount a property owner can charge for renting out a home, apartment or other real estate. Rent control acts as a price ceiling by preventing rents either from being charged above a certain level or from increasing at a rate higher than a predetermined percentage.
Issues with rent control:-
- Some economists consider rent controls, like other price ceilings, to be market distortions that discourage the construction of more homes by limiting the profits owners can earn from them.
- By discouraging the construction of new housing stock, regulators may create the same housing shortage they sought to prevent by enacting the legislation in the first place.
- Rent control’s inability to restrain housing prices is not surprising given that it doesn’t address the ultimate problem, which is a lack of housing. Instead, it further reduces the quantity of available housing by diminishing the profit incentive to build more.
- The main problem with the prolonged continuation of first generation rent control is that it leads to a consistent degradation of housing stock. When rents are so much lower than prevailing market rates, builders and developers have no incentives to generate more rental housing for urban populations across income levels.
- Property tax revenue falls, administrative costs and burdens rise and with these the potential for corruption also increases.
- Rent controlled buildings are often unkempt and dilapidated because the nominal rents don’t motivate landlords to spend on maintenance.
- Instead, rent controls have given rise to the informal pagdi system in Mumbai, where tenancy is transferred from one tenant to another at property rates a little below prevailing market rates and the landlord pockets around a third of the sum to facilitate the transfer on paper.
Rent control is necessary because:-
- Others believe rent control is a viable method of ensuring affordable housing for renters that prevents landlords from capriciously raising prices.
- The intention of keeping rents at a low level was to prevent speculation and exploitation of tenants.
- In its initial years, the system served the purpose of creating affordable housing at stable rents for thousands of urban citizens.
- Such controls are a must to stabilise land values and ensure mixed-income neighbourhoods.
- Rent control can do much more than provide low-cost housing. It can play an important role in stabilising prices and preventing speculation, thus ensuring affordable housing that benefits even middle and upper-middle income residents.
- Most cities around the world moved beyond first generation rent control by the 1970s and 80s, either adopting to “second generation” rent control systems, rent stabilisation mechanisms, or removing all forms of rent control completely.
- The apt solution to Mumbai’s rental housing problem, according to some planners, is not to abandon rent control but improve the system by moving to some form of second generation control, so that lower-income families can also live within the heart of the city.
- Rent controls must permit landlords to levy enough rents to cover operating and maintenance costs, repairs and a nominal return, but also protect tenants from owners profiteering over the value of property.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
- Cases related to water and sanitation are one of the major causes of death in children under five. Without access to clean water and basic toilets, and without good hygiene practices, a child’s survival, growth and development are at risk.
- As India is undergoing transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are taking policy centre stage in most emerging and developing countries.
- In India, 128 million lack safe water services and about 840 million people don’t have sanitation services
How WASH scheme impacts health of children?
- Studies in Gambian children in the 1990s showed that intestinal inflammation, possibly caused by exposure to faecal germs, is correlated with stunting.So WASH scheme can benefit the health of the children.
- Hygiene and sanitation interventions have had considerable impact on reducing diarrhea and absenteeism rates in school-age children.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, such as provision of clean piped drinking water, enhanced facilities for excreta disposal and the promotion of hand-washing with soap, are frequently implemented to improve health and reduce infectious diseases and may be linked to child development outcomes.
- WASH affects more than just the ability of children to attend school. Many children suffer physical and cognitive damage from water- and sanitation-related diseases that impact their performance at school and their overall educational attainment.
- WASH and economics
- The impact of poor WASH conditions extends beyond health and education, and impacts on the economy through health spending and labour division.
- The world would save around US$263 billion a year if it was able to provide basic, low cost water and sanitation facilities to countries in need.
- WASH will tackle the following issues:-
- Empowering women helps communities reach their full health, economic and educational benefits. Therefore, WASH projects with positive financial benefits for women will contribute to overall community development.
- Women’s full participation in water and sanitation projects is strongly correlated with increased effectiveness and sustainability of these projects.
- Additionally, WASH facilities in schools can improve the lives of schoolchildren by significantly reducing disease, increasing school attendance and contributing to dignity and gender equality.
- When latrines are not available in households, women and girls will seek privacy after dark to defecate outside of their homes, exposing them to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault.
- Out of fear, women and girls may choose to ignore their needs which may increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections, chronic constipation or mental stress.
- In addition, a lack of single-gender sanitation facilities in schools results in low levels of attendance among girls, perpetuating cycles of gender inequality and poverty.
- Drop outs of girls can be prevented as well.
- Also healthy woman would give birth to healthy child.
- In the Bangladesh study the villages saw high rates of both contamination and stunting. Yet the WASH improvements made no difference, which means that other factors could be driving stunting. This heightens concerns that similar mechanisms underlie the association between open defecation and stunting in India.
- Stunting is a complex problem. Children in richer South Asian countries are shorter on average than those in poorer Sub-Saharan African countries, and no intervention so far has closed this gap.
- The problem is that most of the data which show that children in households with poor toilets are more likely to be stunted comes from descriptive studies.
- Another predicament is that for WASH interventions to be truly effective, more than one generation of families may need to adopt them. Most trials do not last longer than two years, given how expensive and logistically challenging they are.
- The capacity for policymaking of State governments thus needs to be further strengthened to cater to the local needs.
- Focus on sanitation needs to increase from school level and within families itself.
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability,
Why do rating agencies fail to inspire confidence in markets and why Credit rating agencies need to be regulated?
- World experiences :-
- Because of allegations of improper and inaccurate ratings occurring frequently. Such agencies have been subject to a range of lawsuits, especially after Enron’s collapse and during the recent subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S.
- Moody’s has been fined across various geographies for non-adherence to standard rating protocols. For instance, Moody’s has raked up fines of $864 million for its role in 2008 crisis, while incorrect rating practices has led to fines of €1.2m in Europe.
- More importantly, such rating agencies can have a global impact, affecting the fiscal fortunes of nations, due to flight of capital, as witnessed during the East Asian crisis of the 1990s where they have been criticised for failing to predict the crisis and then downgrading such countries several notches during the event.
- Indian scenario :-
- Even in India, rating agencies have had a mixed record. Cases such as Amtek Auto and Ricoh India led the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to investigate rating agencies and tighten rules and disclosure norms.
- Numerous studies have showcased that rating agencies seek to provide issuers with non-rating services, along with potentially influencing a higher rating . On average, about 40% of the total revenue of the rating agency stems from non-rating activities.
- CRAs are mainly paid by the companies whose securities they rate. These companies benefit from favourable (high) ratings on them or their securities. Therefore, the compensation arrangement leads to a conflict of interest.
- Some institutional investors have to mandatorily rely on ratings. Despite this, they have little accountability towards investors
- CRAs maintain that while non-rating services do pose conflict of interest challenges, revenues from other services reduce dependence on rating service revenues and thereby enable them to maintain objectivity and independence.
- This would encourage entry into the credit rating business, stimulate innovation and eventually improve the efficiency of capital markets.
- To safeguard investors, SEBI can explore reforms so that credit rating agencies do not provide non-rating advisory services to their clients.
- SEBI should enable and promote the adoption of other models of remuneration for CRAs.
- SEBI should consider promoting the rotation of employees of CRAs in respect of the same issuer, so that long-term relationships do not impede the independence of individuals.
- SEBI should encourage investors to provide them information on the basis of which they can investigate into any irregularities in the functioning of CRAs and take action where appropriate.
- SEBI should also consider incorporating a provision to make CRAs liable for compensating investors for any loss caused to them by negligent or fraudulent rating, with adequate safeguards.
- A fixed operating fee model may also be explored, thereby eliminating incentives to be the lowest-bidder with compromised quality.
- Outstanding ratings and sudden downgrades need to be subjected to greater supervision.
- Corporates should be pushed to change rating agencies on a regular basis.
- The issuer-pays model needs to change to an investor-pays model, with fees being standardised by the market regulator.
Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
4) It is recommended that welfare and other such schemes should either be weeded out or merged for convergence with larger sectoral schemes or be transferred to states, which can then continue with these schemes based on their requirements. Discuss critically the rationale behind this recommendation. (250 Words)
The Union government at present runs hundreds of social welfare schemes (675 Central sector schemes as per Budget 2017-18). There is a need to rationalize existing welfare schemes because concerns are present:
- A large majority of these are small in terms of allocation with the top six to seven schemes accounting for about 50% of total welfare spending.
- States concerns due to earlier approach:-
- There are thousands of other schemes that different state governments run. Implementing such a large number of schemes efficiently, specially by states with weak administrative capacity, puts a tremendous burden on states.
- The actual per poor spending is downward sloping. The poor belonging to a poor district receive less welfare spending than the poor from richer districts.
- States such as Bihar and Jharkhand have often represented that they have limited resources and are not able to provide the state’s share to enable them to access the required funds under CSS.
- States have repeatedly complained that the proliferation of such schemes infringes on their autonomy by reducing their fiscal space as they are expected to co-finance schemes.
- The uniform norms and strict guidelines provided for centrally sponsored schemes further hamper the autonomy of states and can lead to inefficient overlaps.
- One of the components under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme was funding for uniforms for all states. As a result, the Union government increased Bihar’s budget for uniforms under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan by a whopping 200%.
- But by then, Bihar had already spent its own money on uniforms as it already had a separate scheme for uniforms and much of the central allocation was not utilised.
- Many centrally sponsored schemes also require setting up of parallel structures for implementation and fund flows. These tend to bypass state governments, and undermine their authority and monitoring ability.
- The inefficient administrative capacity of poor districts leading to poor implementation of schemes.
- The K. Chaturvedi committee report (2011) had observed that Small outlays anyway do not achieve the objective of making an impact across the states. So its better to merge schemes or leave it to the states
- Allocations to centrally sponsored schemes are very volatile too. The Union Budget allocates funds to schemes, but not to states. Thus, state governments often don’t know in advance either how much money it will get, or even when the money will be released. This causes uncertainty in state finance departments, and at the grassroots
- This approach will lead to:-
- Better implementation at the ground level due to bottom up approach of planning the schemes
- States role will be strengthened with added responsibility and centralization will be reduced leading to cooperative federalism
There is no rationale in the approach as:-
- Centrally sponsored schemes started as a tool by the Centre to assist states in fulfilling their Constitutional responsibilities in areas of national priority like agriculture, health and education.
- Moreover, in some states centrally sponsored schemes became the predominant mode of financing social sector expenditure.
- The mere merger of schemes doesn’t address the deeper problems with centrally sponsored schemes.
- There is wide disparity in the states with many of them lacking infrastructure and without centre support development would be abysmal
- Misallocation of funds and corruption are issues which are predominant at the state level
- The Niti Aayog has requested Union ministries to create an objective formula by which funds allocated to a particular scheme are distributed among states. This is a welcome step if implemented as it will enable states to know how much funding to expect by looking at the Union Budget, reducing uncertainty in fund flows and helping speedy action
Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act;Role of civil services in a democracy.
5) It is said that the country’s first election was an ingeniously indigenous an inventive exercise, with unique challenges and the way bureaucracy rose to the task holds lessons for today. Examine. (250 Words)
- The principle of universal franchise was adopted at the beginning of the constitutional debates in April 1947. It was a significant departure from elections under colonial rule, which were based on a very limited franchise and a divided electorate.
Inventive and indigenous because:-
- The origin of Indian democracy in particular the establishment of its edifice through the implementation of universal adult franchise, was an ingeniously Indian enterprise. It was no legacy of colonial rule, and was largely driven by the Indians.
- The turning of all adults into voters was a staggering democratic state-building operation of inclusion and scale, which surpassed any previous experience in democratic world history.
- People from the margins found meaning and a place for themselves in the new polity based on universal adult franchise, they also understood the potential new power of making group identity claims.
- The SCs and STs ,women turned into voters and everyone was equal irrespective of ascriptive criteria and could now under universal franchise, fully partake in the electoral politics.
- Concerns about inclusiveness led to an innovation, the use of large pictorial symbols, by which illiterate voters could identify their preferred candidate.
- The ECI’s rigorous approach is illustrated by its handling of women who were unwilling to provide their names to register as voters. It used persuasion and made women as voters.
- There was a large gap to bridge in turning this constitutional aspiration into reality at Independence, in the midst of the Partition that led to mass killings.
- The vast majority of the future and largest electorate in history at the time of over 173 million people was poor and illiterate.
- Identities and group cohesion with respective to caste, class posed challenge
How Bureaucracy succeeded in tackling these challenges:-
- The responsiveness of the civil service empowered people to understand that a place in the electoral roll was the most concrete way at the time to secure membership in the new state.
- The bureaucrats of the secretariat replied to every letter that arrived at their desk.
- They took actions to redress the problems that arose.
- In this process, they mentored bureaucrats at all levels and ordinary citizens into the principles of electoral democracy and universal franchise
General Studies – 3
Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
6) In the light of the repeated success of terrorists in infiltrating high-security military complexes within India’s borders, discuss critically why has India failed to prevent such infiltrations and what needs to be done to prevent such future attacks. (250 Words)
- Sunjuwan army base attack is the latest in a series of attacks on military installations over the last few years. The worrisome aspect is the repeated success of terrorists in infiltrating high-security military complexes.
India failed to prevent such infiltrations because:-
- The Sunjuwan attack exposes the vulnerabilities in perimeter security and the scant progress made in improving the security protocol since the attack on the Pathankot Air Force station in January 2016.
- The forces guarding the military perimeters continue to face the same equipment shortfalls that cripple their fight against terrorism.
- Hand-held thermal imagers (HHTIs) are prioritised for deployment along the LoC fence. Sentries on guard duty do not have night sights or weapon sights mounted on their weapons.
- The soldiers were equipped with normal infantry weapons and did not even have bulletproof jackets or night vision devices to help repel a militant strike.
- Bases did not have control rooms or electronic fences that would trigger off an alarm in case of an intrusion.
- There was no clear line of sight of the perimeter and compounds were overgrown with trees that could conceal attackers. They lacked the multi-tiered fencing to keep attackers away from parked assets like aircraft.
- Many bases lacked Quick Reaction Teams that would immediately respond to an attack nor laid down procedures in case of an emergency.
- Of particular concern has been the effectiveness of the 3,323-km-long international border with Pakistan, manned by the home ministry. Recent attacks in Gurdaspur, Samba and Pathankot came through gaps in the border fence along the international border policed by the Border Security Force.
- The Campose Committee report was submitted but its recommendations have not been implemented. It points to several loop-holes including command and control issues, lack of infrastructure and recommended short- and long-term measures. Even identifying a response mechanism in case of an attack-has yet to be notified.
- Many bases along the border are located in tough terrain, and are in close proximity to civilian dwellings, demanding care from the soldier to avoid civilian casualties in crossfire while adhering to the standard operating procedures.
- Failure of coordination:-
- Intelligence agencies and the local police failed to detect the militants. Initial investigations now show they were in India for at least a week.
- A major problem in live situations like Pathankot is the ambiguity in the chain of command when multiple agencies are involved. This proved to be a problem in Nagrota as well.
- India still relies heavily on putting more boots on the ground. There is no holistic approach to make sure that the soldier is fully backed by technology and calibrated security drills.
What is India doing:-
- In July 2017 the government delegated substantial financial powers to the three services to strengthen perimeter security at military installations.
- The Defence Ministry sanctioned Rs. 1,487 crore to strengthen sensitive military installations across the country as per the recommendations of a 2016 audit.
- Defence Minister has also directed the Army to complete its implementation by the end of the year.
- Almost simultaneous to the surgical strikes, India evacuated border villages to prevent civilian casualties from the expected cross-border shelling.
- The Border Security Force (BSF) launched “Operation Rustom” with general idea of stepping up vigil along its Border Out-Posts (BOP) located along the Line of Control and the International Border.
What needs to be done:-
- The Sunjuwan attack underscores the need for speedy measures on the ground, beyond the inquiries and policy announcements, to overhaul the system.
- The Campose committee report submitted to the government :-
- The short-term measures included a revamp of how India responds to intelligence inputs and a new standard operating procedure in responding to terror strikes.
- The long-term measures include induction of more technology, such as smart-fencing for military installations, better equipment for forces and even raising a specialized force to protect bases.
- The border fence needs to be boosted with more modern advances in sensor technology, particularly buried seismic sensors.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour;
The statement shows that superstitions is followed by people who are weak or not rational. To some extent this approach is valid because even in a modern society people still consider it a bad omen when someone sneezes and you are about to go out, people approach godmen for remedies of problems etc.
There have been many inhuman practices in the name of religion. For example, in Maharashtra, there were several cases where people murdered or brutally injured others and held them responsible for some deaths in their families, merely on suspicion.
But totally blaming people who follow superstitions as weak hearted is an incomplete attempt to understand the whole. In aboriginal communities people still believe in magical beliefs. It is not to be forgotten that studies show that the tribes of Nicobar were fast enough to go to the higher reaches of the island to escape tsunami when modern society was so adversely affected.
Also superstition could be based on fact in olden days but the same logic is not valid with changes in the society. For instance many elders in the family believe cutting nails after sunset is bad. In olden days this was prohibited because then electricity was not available and it would be difficult to cut nails as some injury can be caused too but when it is seen in the modern approach the same logic does not hold anymore.
Why Superstition is prevalent in India?
- In India many people link religion with superstitions. Many believe age old beliefs as the truth without necessary rational outlook.
- When some scientists and well educated person believes in superstitions it gives legitimacy to the people to follow it.
- Also In India still many are uneducated. The development and fostering of scientific temper is neglected entirely in Indian education system where reasoning is put behind.
- Moreover people tend to look for godmen to get their problems solved especially in rural areas where adequate public health infrastructure is unavailable.
- Sometimes people who are facing problems and have personal issues etc are superstitious as they want faster resolutions.
- Even hard-core cynics can occasionally fall prey to superstitions like, if the stakes are high and the effort implemented is low, many rational people say they don’t believe, but they also don’t want to take a chance.
- People prefer to take the safer route believing in superstitions in order to avoid any adversity, harm or injury. This is the reason why most superstitions are associated with fear of some harm that may strike the person if he or she does or fails to do a particular thing.
Mystical theories cannot be curtailed without a radical change in the public mind-set. So before questioning and discarding any belief/ritual altogether, we ought to find out the rationale behind them and adopt them only if they have a sound rational and scientific basis