SECURE SYNOPSIS: 06 MARCH 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: Social empowerment; Role of women
1) According to a recent UN report, the average age of death for Dalit women in India is 39.5. Critically analyse the economic and social stresses experienced by Dalit women in India and solutions needed to empower them. (250 Words)
- In the 2011 census, the Dalit population was estimated at 200 million. Assuming the female Dalit population at 130 million, as a group, they would form the 10th largest country. Thus the imperative to focus on the need to empower these women.
Economic stresses faced by Dalit women are :-
- Because of the current structure of labour laws, dis-incentivizing formal labour markets and hiring, India has an extremely asymmetric and disproportionately informal labour market. So Dalit women are also more likely to be trapped at the lowest levels in the informal labour market.
- Lacking the social networks that enable upward mobility in the labour market, they are often relegated to the lowest paying, hard physical labour under exploitative conditions by middlemen.
- The informal sector leaves Dalit women in a poor position to access the economic growth resulting from market liberalization.
- Dalit women record higher work Participation Rate than that of their non-Dalit counterparts but high wage gap between SC and non-SC/ST women, concentration of Dalit women workers in agricultural sector and elementary occupations show that most of the Dalit women are deprived of high-salaried positions. So they stay poor.
- Unemployment rate is higher among the Dalit women with graduate and above degrees and this condition is acute in the rural areas.
- Dalit women earn for their families, but they have no control over their earnings.
- Dalit women are often among the poorest sections of society and tend to have lower access to sanitation, drinking water, or basic healthcare services.
- Caste discrimination:-
- Dalit women and their children are routinely denied medical care as upper castes refuse to treat them.
- Caste system declares Dalit women as impure and untouchables. Most of them work as manual scavengers, landless agricultural labourers, domestic helpers and casual labourers.
- Dalit women in South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) face systematic and structural discrimination thrice over as Dalit, as women and as poor.
- Dalit women are more likely to experience physical and sexual violence at home, in their immediate neighbourhoods, and at the workplace.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau, four Dalit women are raped every day in India.
- Health issues:-
- Low age at marriage and high fertility has a direct impact on the health outcomes. Dalit women record low Body Mass Index (BMI), higher prevalence of anaemia and low access to maternal health care facilities.
- Hardly 35 percent SC women get the facility of institutional delivery during the child birth and a
large number of them rely on indigenous methods and stay at homes during the delivery.
- Mainly husbands and in-laws take decisions regarding their health.
- Despite legislative prohibition of manual scavenging, the state has institutionalised the practice with local governments and municipalities employing manual scavengers.
- The reality of Dalit women and girls is one of exclusion and marginalization, which perpetuates their subordinate position in society and increases their vulnerability, throughout generations.
Measures taken :-
- India has various affirmative policies for the socially marginalised groups and women and also ensures the right to education for all, Stand up India, Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) etc.
Solutions needed are:-
- Sensible labour laws reforms to give exit options to Dalit women trapped in a system.
- Integrating social and cultural transformation with an economic alternative is critical.
- Huge investments will be needed in upskilling and educating women and government needs to create an abundance of new jobs within the formal sector and lowering barriers to job creation
- Increased availability of stable-wage jobs for women is critical to preventing their socio-economic exploitation
- With bridging the deep-rooted biases through sustained reconditioning:-
- It is only possible by promoting the idea of gender equality and uprooting social ideology of male child preferability.
- They should be given decision-making powers and due position in governance. Thus, the Women Reservation Bill should be passed as soon as possible to increase the effective participation of women in the politics of India.
- Bridging implementation gaps:
- Government or community-based bodies must be set up to monitor the programs devised for the welfare of the society.
- Dalit women need group and gender specific policies and programmes to address the issue of multiple deprivations.
- Dalit women require comprehensive policies on health, especially on the maternal and child health
- Make credit available by pooling the women to form self help groups. The example of Kudumbashree model of Kerala can be emulated.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.
2) In the light of inactive SAARC and strained relationship between India and Pakistan, can China become a part of the solution, rather than being perceived as a part of the India-Pakistan problem? Analyse. (250 Words)
- Despite being neighbours India and Pakistan are among the least integrated nations in the world.
- Because of these countries unending mutual hostility, South Asia too has become the least integrated region in the world with questions raised on the effectiveness of SAARC.
Yes, China can play a optimistic role:-
- A three-way India-China-Pakistan cooperation is possible as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) provides a practical framework for such partnership.
- CPEC does not recognise PoK to be Pakistan’s sovereign territory.
- Both China and Pakistan have stated that they are open to India joining CPEC. China has also expressed its readiness to rename CPEC suitably to both address India’s concerns and to reflect the project’s expanded regional scope.
- India can gain land access, through Pakistan, to Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia and western China. In future , the CPEC-plus-India can be linked to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor, thus creating a grand garland of connectivity and integration for the whole of South Asia.
- CPEC is also indispensable for the success of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipelines that are critical for India’s energy security and accelerated economic growth.
- With involvement of China strong new bonds of regional cooperation and interdependence will be created and this could also help resolve long-standing geopolitical problems like terrorism, Afghanistan issues in the region.
- Connectivity, cooperation and economic integration are the only realistic bases for any future India-Pakistan settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Involving China leads to further complications in the already strained relationship:-
- China has become a new factor influencing India’s negative attitude towards Pakistan, both among policy-makers and the common people. Experts suggest that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the BRI, violates India’s sovereignty since it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- There are issues with China itself like
- China blocked the listing of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar with a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions panel
- China blocking India’s bid to NSG group.
- The recent Doklam standoff between the two countries
- China trying to gain naval bases encircling India in the Indian ocean etc.
- Chinese aggressive approach in the south China sea is eroding the trust of Indian people and showing is the perpetrator
- India needs to manage relations with China with prudence but firmness and continue to develop capabilities for the benefit of the countries and the region as a whole.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies; Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
3) A well-informed public can serve as a watchdog more effectively than existing banking regulatory bodies. In the light of recent banking crisis and resultant issues, comment on the statement. (250 Words)
- The Nirav Modi case, Rotomac case of bank fraud has once again brought into focus the deficiencies in procedures and supervisory and regulatory controls in the banking sector. This calls for reforms and including public in the watchdog process.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) June 2017 Financial Stability Report says losses from financial sector frauds rose 72 per cent in the five years to fiscal 2017 to Rs 16,770 crore.
Why public need to be involved:-
- The Indian banking system is already reeling under the pressure of growing NPAs, or non-performing assets which will touch nearly Rs. 10 lakh crore by March 2018. This has already caused a slowdown in disbursal of bank credit, in turn affecting productive investment and then affecting the economy.
- The failure of banking system is occurring at many levels.
- At the level of the bank, some rogue bank employees are involved in the frauds.
- Senior management and auditors are not tracking the problematic transactions effectively.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) did not monitor banks properly and created opacity with new financial instruments.
- The Finance Ministry failed in its oversight and regulation.
- Crony capitalism:-
- Some favoured companies are not declared wilful defaulters even when the investigating agencies find that they are diverting funds.
- Those declared as wilful defaulters are neither punished nor prevented from leaving the country.
- In fact their names are not even made public, so they can continue to access loans from other banks.
- Opacity around the functioning of banks that keeps the public in the dark about the extent and details of wrongdoing.
- Supreme Court in its landmark judgment in Reserve Bank of India v. Jayantilal N. Mistry ruled that the regulatory bodies were not in a fiduciary relationship with the banks that had provided the information to them and people, who are sovereign, need to be made aware of the irregularities being committed by the banks .
- Even Central information commission noted that the information can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interest based on Section 8(2) of the RTI Act
Public will be effective because:-
- If banking crisis takes place common man is the first to suffer and fear the brunt of the crisis.
- Even when government injects recapitalisation in the public sector banking system it is the tax payer’s money so again public is the most affected.
- Since public money is involved they would be more cautious about the manner in which their money is put to use and disclosure of information will increase the transparency in the banking sector and make the regulators take informed decisions in public interest.
- Recovering from this will require stricter adherence to sound banking rules and more transparency and accountability from both public and private players
- The PNB fraud is a call to action for the government to do the right thing and ensure that the scope for such frauds is minimised forever
- This is also about the government having to resolve the conflicts between its role as a owner versus the entity responsible for financial stability.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
4) In the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2017-18 report, which measures the extent to which 113 countries have adhered to the rule of law in that period, the survey found that 71 out of the 113 countries have dropped in score. Does this indicate failure of international bodies, laws and conventions in protecting human rights across the world? Examine. (250 Words)
- World Justice Project along with others such as the Amnesty International Annual Report 2017-18, indicates the serious erosion of international human rights law in recent times.
International institutions and human rights:-
- The ideals of justice, equality, and human rights for all, enshrined in the Universal declaration of human rights and other international treaties, are the building blocks of international human rights law.
- There are concerted efforts to advocate the inclusion of international human rights provisions in the local laws of countries and more effective implementation and monitoring.
- Treaty bodies assess states obligations to incorporate these norms into national laws, review compliance, and provide recommendations.
- Regional and supranational courts such as the Inter-American, African and European courts of human rights oversee the fulfilment of obligations of regional treaties.
- International and mixed judicial tribunals have been established to provide justice in mass atrocities, culminating in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
However international institutions have failed to protect human rights :-
- Protecting human rights focuses on the short-term rather than long term. States are far less willing to engage with protection activities because they impact upon the immediate situation within a country.
- Weakness of UN human rights bodies :-
- While they are set up for dialogue and engagement, they lack the teeth to effectively protect rights where a state is not willing to cooperate.
- Unlike the Security Council, human rights bodies do not have enforcement powers.
- Unlike international financial institutions, the UN human rights machinery does not have any leverage over states that fail to comply with their obligations.
- The multiple institutions lack a common hierarchical superior unlike national courts and thus provide conflicting interpretations of human rights, and cannot compel nations to pay attention to them.
- Failure of UN:-
- The United Nations has often failed to live up to its responsibility to promote human rights, with past incidents of killing and displacement of civilians in Darfur and latest crisis in Syria
- There is little evidence that human rights treaties, on the whole, have improved the wellbeing of people
- Politicisation is the other main failing within the international human rights system
- Failure of conventions and laws:-
- The universal declaration was not a treaty in the formal sense: no one at the time believed that it created legally binding obligations.
- The rights were described in vague, aspirational terms, which could be interpreted in multiple ways, and national governments even the liberal democracies were wary of binding legal obligations.
- The US did not commit itself to eliminating racial segregation, and Britain and France did not commit themselves to liberating the subject populations in their colonies.
- The failure of the international human rights legal regime is rooted in the difficulty of reducing the ideal of “good governance” to a set of clearly defined rules that can be interpreted and applied by trusted institutions.
- Multilateral protections such as the U.N. Refugee Convention and the U.N. Convention Against Torture, and specialized mechanisms such as those protecting people in peril at sea, did not succeed in preventing or containing humanitarian crises, nor in protecting civilians against gross human rights violations, much less in fostering accountability for atrocities.
- The universal declaration was not a treaty in the formal sense: no one at the time believed that it created legally binding obligations.
- Failure of countries to uphold international conventions :-
- Each of the six major human rights treaties has been ratified by more than 150 countries, yet many of them remain hostile to human rights. This raises the question of how much human rights law has actually influenced the behaviour of governments.
- Child labour exists in countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Uzbekistan, Tanzania
- Saudi Arabia ratified the treaty banning discrimination against women in 2007, and yet by law subordinates women to men in all areas of life.
- Philippines, for instance, imposed conditions on the UN Special Rapporteur who was to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers since President Duterte took office.
- In Myanmar, the UN Special Rapporteur who was to investigate the claims of persecution against the Rohingya was denied all access to the country.
- National governments failure:-
- In much of the Islamic world, women lack equality, religious dissenters are persecuted and political freedoms are curtailed.
- The Chinese model of development, which combines political repression and assault on civil liberties and economic liberalism, has attracted numerous admirers in the developing world.
- Political authoritarianism has gained ground in Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Venezuela.
- Backlashes against LGBT rights have taken place in countries as diverse as Russia and Nigeria.
- The traditional champions of human rights Europe and the United States have floundered.
- Europe has turned inward as it has struggled with a sovereign debt crisis, xenophobia towards its Muslim communities and disillusionment with Brussels.
- The United States, which used torture in the years after 9/11 and continues to kill civilians with drone strikes, has lost much of its moral authority. Even age-old scourges such as slavery continue to exist.
- There is increasing hostility towards civil society organisations and hardening of attitudes towards minorities in Poland and Hungary.
- The rise of majoritarian attitudes, hate speech and hate crimes is a growing concern, including in India.
- Mass atrocities (genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) are or have been committed in Iraq, Myanmar, Central African Republic, and Burundi. It is not just the erosion of human rights but the normalisation of it that is of concern.
- Amnesty reported that in 2015 more than 98 states tortured or ill-treated people, and at least 30 countries “illegally forced refugees to return to countries where they would be in danger.” Governments or armed groups in at least 18 countries committed war crimes or other violations of war.
- Effective engagement with international human rights law is necessary in an era where rights are increasingly being stifled in many countries.
Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- Under the Constitution, the primary function of the legislatureis to make law, that of the executive is to execute law and that of the judiciary is to enforce the law. However the relationship evolved over the years.
Relationship between Parliament and judiciary:-
- The Constitution provides for a separation of powers between Parliament and the Judiciary by demarcating their roles and responsibilities. It also lays down various ways by which
- The Judiciary may guard against the unconstitutional exercise of power by Parliament
- Judiciary’s Responsibilities and Powers :-
- The higher judiciary also has the power to strike down laws of Parliament and actions of the Executive as invalid, if they violate the Constitution. This is called the power of judicial review.
- For example, a law may be declared as invalid if it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Supreme Court exercised its power of judicial review and struck down this provision as unconstitutional. It held that Section 66A violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution that protects freedom of speech and expression.
- Judicial independence:-
- The Constitution creates a structure to protect judges from being influenced by Parliament and the Executive.
- For example, the conduct of a Supreme Court or High Court judge cannot be discussed in Parliament unless it is for the purpose of presenting a motion for his removal.
- Judiciary’s Responsibilities and Powers :-
- Parliament may legislate on or act as a check in matters related to the Judiciary.
- Parliament enacts laws, exercises oversight over the Executive, sanctions government expenditure and represents citizens. It also has the power to amend the Constitution
- Immunity from court proceedings:
- To grant Parliament autonomy in its functioning, the Constitution guarantees certain protections to parliamentary proceedings and those participating in them.
- For example, Members of Parliament (MPs) enjoy immunity from court proceedings for anything that they say or any vote that they make in Parliament.
- However over the years the relationship transformed :-
- Limitations on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution
- The Supreme Court has held that Parliament cannot amend the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution in the Keshavananda Bharti case. This ‘basic structure’ principle is not expressly mentioned in the Constitution.
- Experts uphold this interpretation as it is a protection against excessive use by a government with a large majority; for example, this limitation prevents a government holding substantial majority from extending the term of Parliament indefinitely.
- Law making by judiciary:-
- The Judiciary has on occasion laid down the law or directed that laws be made. For example, in Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court framed guidelines on how sexual harassment at the workplace needs to be addressed by employers.
- The Judiciary has generally issued such directions under Articles 32 and 142 of the Constitution. These provisions empower the Judiciary to protect fundamental rights and issue any order to do complete justice.
- One of the important instances of application by the Supreme Court of Article 142 was in the Union Carbide case relating to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy where the Court felt a need to deviate from existing law to bring relief to the thousands of persons affected by the gas leak.
- Judicial Review of Parliamentary Privileges and Proceedings
- In several decisions, the courts have asserted their power to exercise judicial review over parliamentary privileges and proceedings .
- For example, the Supreme Court has held that the Speaker’s decision to disqualify an MP for defection is subject to judicial review as the Speaker is discharging an adjudicatory function.
- Power to appoint judges
- According to the Constitution the President must appoint judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts after consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts
- The term ‘consultation’ has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that judicial appointments recommended by a collegium of judges will be binding on the President (i.e. Executive).
- In 2014, Parliament enacted National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 to replace the collegium with an independent commission. Subsequently the Supreme Court struck down the two laws as unconstitutional, and re-instated the collegium process.
- Experts criticise judiciary that it is on legislative space based on the judgements like 2G judgment on auctions, mining bans, setting up of SIT on black money, The ban on the sale of alcohol along national and State highways etc) but counter argument also states that judiciary had to intervene as legislature has been complacent.
- Limitations on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution
- The balance between the two organs need to be maintained and the doctrine of separation of powers, which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution need to be strongly adhered to.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
6) The India Meteorological Department’s has forecast above-normal maximum and minimum temperatures across the country during the pre-monsoon March-May period. How does this affect public health? How should states prepare to deal with maximum heat and cold situations? (250 Words)
- Human healthhas always been influenced by climate and weather. Changes in climate and climate variability, particularly changes in weather extremes, affect the environment that provides us with clean air, food, water, shelter, and security.
- Increase in temperatures in India have become deadlier and further global warming could take a relatively drastic human toll in the coming years.
- While mean temperatures from 1960 to 2009 increased by around 0.5 C degrees, both heat waves and mortality have increased substantially,
Impact on Public health:-
- Even a marginal rise above the normal will lead to enormous heat stress for millions of people, especially when India accounted for the largest number of people living below international poverty line in 2013, with 30 per cent of its population under the $1.90-a- day poverty measure, according to the World Bank.
- Young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions are less able to regulate their body temperature and can therefore be more vulnerable to extreme heat.
- It can lead to fatal heat stroke in a small percentage of people, while many more could encounter exhaustion, cramps and fainting.
- One scientific estimate of annual mortality attributable to heat waves between 2010 and 2015 ranges between 1,300 and 2,500.
- Climate change increases the risk of illness through increasing temperature, more frequent heavy rains and runoff, and the effects of storms.
- Health impacts may include gastrointestinal illness like diarrhoea, effects on the body’s nervous and respiratory systems, or liver and kidney damage.
- Exposure to extreme heat can lead dehydration, as well as cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease.
- Higher air temperatures can increase cases of Salmonellaand other bacteria-related food poisoning because bacteria grow more rapidly in warm environments. These diseases can cause gastrointestinal distress and, in severe cases, death
- Higher sea surface temperatures will lead to higher mercury concentrations in seafood
- Mental health:-
- Individuals with mental illness are especially vulnerable to extreme heat; studies have found that having a pre-existing mental illness tripled the risk of death during heat waves.
- High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
- Pollen and other aeroallergen levels are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma, which affects around 300 million people
- Vector borne diseases:-
- The geographic range of ticks that carry Lyme disease is limited by temperature. As air temperatures rise, ticks are likely to become active earlier in the season, and their range is likely to continue to expand northward.
- Mosquitoes are highly sensitive to temperature, humidity and rainfall. Environmental and landscape changes coupled with rise in temperature and humidity levels influence vector behaviour and disease transmission.
Measures need to be taken by states to deal with these situations:-
- Community-level interventions need to be taken up to help vulnerable groups.
- The World Health Organisation recommends that countries adopt heat-health warning systems, including daily alerts to ensure that people are in a position to deal with adverse weather, starting with reduction of exposure.
- Water stress is a common and often chronic feature in many States: arrangements should be made to meet scarcity.
- In long term, India has to pursue mitigation of greenhouse gases vigorously, since there is a perceived link between increases in average temperature caused by climate change and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
- Although the impacts of climate change have the potential to affect human health in India and around the world, there is a lot India can do to prepare for and adapt to these changes such as establishing early warning systems for heat waves and other extreme events, taking steps to reduce vulnerabilities among populations of concern, raising awareness among healthcare professionals, and ensuring that infrastructure is built to accommodate anticipated future changes in climate.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration:
Deterioration of human and professional values has become a phenomenon in many nations, including India. Recent instances like in 2017,the arrest of an IPS probationer for cheating in exam, in 2016 the arrest of Regional Provident Fund (PF) Commissioner, Chennai, prove that the canker of corruption has blighted the higher echelons of the civil service. This trend of decline in values does not only pose serious threat to the future course of development of the country but even for its survival, respect and authority itself. So there is a need for imbibing necessary values for effective functioning of public administration.
1.Spirit of enquiry:
Spirit of inquiry is a persistent sense of curiosity that informs both learning and practice. A spirit of inquiry in civil servants engenders innovative thinking and extends possibilities for discovering novel solutions in both predictable and unpredictable situations.
A circulating Whatsapp message warning against child kidnappers has caused widespread panic in Jharkhand, leading to villagers turning violent and resulting in the lynching of seven men in 2017 shos the authenticity of news is not even verified by the people. In these instance civil servants with spirit of inquiry would raise questions and seek creative approaches to problem-solving. A spirit of inquiry suggests, to some degree, a childlike sense of wonder.
2.Professional autonomy :-
Professional autonomy means having the authority to make decisions and the freedom to act in accordance with one’s professional knowledge base.
Autonomy grants civil servants to act in public interest and free from undue pressure leading to successful initiatives like Operation Sulaimani, a decentralized participatory project to address hunger in urban areas in Kerala ,idea of serving food at primary health centers in Medak district of Andhra etc.
Objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings. Policy based / rule based decisions are examples of objective decision because you’re doing them as per the prescribed policy/rule.
When an IPS officer is doing a sensitive murder investigation, he/she should not be bound by emotions but instead work with the merits of the case and be objective.
4.Courage of integrity :-
Integrity is associated with the value of being honest and maintain strong moral principles. Courage of integrity is dare to be yourself in the face of adversity, choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience and truth over popularity. A good example would be an officer who is under ‘peer pressure’ to ‘overlook’ some of the minute details while approving a tender for a private party in return for a bribe, largely because others also do the same but integrity won’t allow him/her to do so.
In integrity, officers do not blindly follow duties. But if one’s conscience permits, one will do it.
5.Political neutrality :-
Civil servant must not be associated with any political party or ideology. Officer is expected to cooperate with any political party in power. He/she must not allow his/her political values/ideology to interfere in day to day work.
Neutrality is required to keep:
- Public confidence in civil services.
- Political executives confidence in civil services after regime is changed. if there is lack of mutual trust, they can’t work for larger interest
- Unfortunately, this vision of civil service neutrality no longer holds good. Changes
in governments particularly at the state level often lead to wholesale transfer of civil servants.
All these values are imperative for the success of civil servants and for them to gain trust in the society and from the public.