SECURE SYNOPSIS: 19 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: Role of women
Why this question?
This is an important dimension vis a vis gender equality. This topic integrates topics from GS-1, GS-2 and GS-3.
Key demand of the question:
Explain the impact of trade on women (rights, opportunities, freedom, fairness, employment etc) and examine measures to make international trade gender-fair.
Examine– Inspect closely how governments and international institutions can make international trade gender-fair. Present supporting facts.
Structure of Answer:
In the introduction, write how women are discriminated in variety of fields in variety of ways. And why recognising and strengthening their role (gender inclusivity) in trade is important.
In the body, there should be TWO main parts: One to explain the impact of trade on women. Explain why it’s discriminatory, how it has affected women entrepreneurship, etc. In the second part, examine measures to make international trade gender – fair: through decision making roles, enabling rural women to participate in trade, etc. Focus on rights-based approach. Talk about strengthening policies (including gender dimension in trade policies at country level). Give data, mention SDGs, treaties, declarations etc. Mention India example too.
In the conclusion write why women in key roles make key contributions to economic growth.
For more, refer to this document (only introduction and first chapter)
Related current affairs/questions/articles: Here
- The World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference in late 2017 had a declaration on gender and trade. India’s gender balance in entrepreneurship and jobs remains among the lowest in the world.
- Gender-related provisions in bilateral FTAs as well as multilateral declarations therefore merit closer examination.
Trade impact on women :-
- Trade liberalisation has no doubt led to an increase in employment opportunities for women particularly in export-oriented sectors such as textiles.
- However, trade liberalisation can also lead to unemployment and the restructuring of labour markets a situation that tends to affect poor and marginalised groups of women more than men.
- The need for flexible workers to respond to market fluctuations has led to a rise in the numbers of informal sector workers, of which a high percentage are women.
- Jobs created for women by trade liberalization are concentrated in lowest-paid and most insecure segments of global value chains, where women work as temporary or seasonal workers.
- Gender wage gaps and the proportion of the gap attributable to discrimination have persisted or widened on account of trade liberalization.
- Women seem to lose their initial advantages as industries upgrade, leading to a defeminization of employment in manufacturing.
- Women entrepreneurs are more dominant in industries that pay lower average wages.
- Women benefit from formal employment created by transnational companies (TNCs), especially in manufacturing, as they gain bargaining power and influence in the household. This change can have positive, long-term developmental effects.
- Increased competition often has more adverse effects on poor and marginalised groups of women more than men, in particular in developing countries, where women are relatively behind men to confront challenges or grasp the opportunities of market integration.
- Feminisation of employment may be temporary and reversed as an
economy moves up the technological ladder. This is particularly obvious in the textile sector, where women tend to be overrepresented.
- In developing countries, women constitute the vast majority of small-scale famers – a group that is particularly exposed to increased competition from other countries.
- The competition puts pressure on the farmers to modernise and move away from food crops to cash crops, and women who have difficulties accessing credit and new technology stand to lose more from this.
- India’s economic liberalization and increased market competition has not eliminated gender segmentation. However, improved physical and human infrastructure, and domestic pro-competitive reforms have reduced gender segmentation.
How to make international trade gender fair :-
- Incorporating pre-ratification conditions into the trade agreement negotiation process to remove legal barriers against women’s equal participation in the economy as well as instituting follow-up enforcement mechanisms, can help to ensure trade benefits women and men more equally going forward.
- Increasing women’s participation in global trade, as both business owners and wage workers, can improve outcomes for women, their families, and their countries.
- Improving the legal environment facing women workers as part of bilateral trade negotiations, using sanctions to discipline countries that legally discriminate against women’s participation in particular sectors and supporting local women’s rights groups to use protections under trade agreements to further the equality agenda.
- Countries should consider the possibility of imposing sanctions on trade partners that fail to conform to international norms on the equal treatment of women in the workplace as specified under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- It is necessary to empower local institutions (e.g., human rights and women’s rights groups, trade unions) that can act as “watch dogs” to ensure proper enforcement of gender-equal provisions in trade agreements.
- International lessons:-
- Canada and the EU have advocated gender inclusivity in trade, by including gender chapters in their FTAs. India can emulate it too.
- Research on gender and trade could indicate the removal of barriers in trade.
- For instance, surveys by the International Trade Centre have shown that as women-owned business tend to be smaller, they are disproportionately affected by non-tariff measures (NTMs) such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recommended the removal of NTMs on this account.
- Make trade policies gender-responsive by sharing information regarding women’s participation through voluntary reporting, collecting gender-disaggregated data, sharing best practices for conducting gender analysis of trade policies and monitoring their effect.
- Gender-sensitive institutions, enabling legal systems and strong market-support systems are required to remove the structural barriers to improved women’s participation in markets and to ensure their rights are upheld as workers, producers and consumers.
- WTO recommendations:-
- Establish a Task Force on gender and trade in the WTO
- Engage in capacity-building on gender and trade within its relevant divisions and training programmes for its staff as well as the governments of member countries, including the national gender and women machineries
- Strengthen interaction with more international agencies concerned with gender and development (UNIFEM, ILO, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNCTAD).
- Empowering half of the potential workforce has significant economic benefits beyond promoting gender equality.This will come in many forms: increased female labour force participation, improvements in productivity, elimination of gender discrimination in access to bank loans, and increased voice and political representation.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Why this question?
ISA is in news. It’s India’s major leadership initiative in the international arena. Very important question for Mains – 2018.
Key demand of the question:
Direct question: Write its objectives and challenges it faces today (domestic and international/ long-term and short-term)
Examine: Write down relevant information to explain objectives and challenges. Don’t comment.
Structure of Answer:
In the introduction write in 2-3 lines significance of ISA for India’s global aspirations and challenges it needs to face and resolve.
Write 1-2 lines about ISA background.
In the body, divide answer into TWO main parts as per demand of the question: First to write about objectives. There are many objectives – write all, but explain only 3-4 important ones. Second part to write challenges – here, based on short-term and long-term nature, categorise into finance, tariff, cooperation, capacity building, governance etc. Within these, try to write about both domestic and international challenges.
In the conclusion, write 1-2 lines about the need for making ISA a huge success in the interest of climate and India’s development too.
- The key idea of the ISA is to harmonize and aggregate demand for solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, research and development, and capacity building. The ISA aims to mobilise $1 trillion low-cost financing for massive deployment of solar energy by 2030 and bring together 121 countries that lie between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn that receive plenty of sunshine and are mostly developing nations.
- Mobilising more than $1 trillion of investments by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy
- Global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity
- Making solar energy available at affordable rates, create solar grids and establish solar credit mechanism
- Reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology
- Enhancing energy security and sustainable development
- Addressing common as well as specific obstacles that lie in the way of rapid and massive scaling up of solar energy in these countries
- Act as a broader platform for deep diplomatic engagement on crucial developmental issues.
- Attracting investments to fund the projects:-
- Though funding is expected to come from individual countries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and multilateral development banks, securing adequate financing will continue to remain a challenge.
- One of the foremost objectives of the ISA has been to undertake joint efforts to reduce the cost of finance and technology, besides mobilising more than $ 1 trillion worth of investments needed by 2030 for the deployment of solar energy. While the cost of solar installations has been decreasing worldwide, it still remains high in many of the ISA countries.
- Increase risks for developers and investors :-
- Developing countries, especially in Africa, are still left out or stuck with low-tech options, despite their significantly larger solar potential. These nascent markets are seen as too disaggregated and high risk for investors.
- Factors continue to block the rapid scale-up of solar energy
- Financing is still too costly for developers
- Solar-related plans and policies are often incoherent
- India can neither supply technology nor provide the financing needed for the massive capacity addition envisaged by the ISA.
- Under pressure from local manufacturers, India plans to slap a safeguard duty on solar equipment imports, but it lacks domestic manufacturing capacity to meet the equipment requirements of the envisaged capacity addition in solar.
- There is insufficient research and development (R&D) investment in solar.
- There is also a perception that the alliance has not transcended into becoming a truly global institution.
- There is a sense that the alliance is more a platform for some countries to showcase their technologies and programmes. Many countries are still trying to figure out how to use the alliance. Many of these countries have poor technical capabilities so they do not know how best to leverage this new platform.
- The more proximate danger is that 121 potential member countries get caught up in a battle over legal form, membership rights, and giving precedence to procedure over pragmatism.
- It is unlikely to give any big push to solar energy itself. This is because mobilising financial resources for additions to global solar capacity has become tougher after the United States backed out from the Paris climate agreement.
- There are concerns about whether the ISA can metamorphose from an idea to a truly international, collaborative, cooperative body that delivers real action and change.
- Despite its rather rapid transition from idea to reality and a roster of programmes, there is a sense that the ISA is not moving fast enough on action.
- The longer-term issue is whether it devolves into a bloated bureaucracy.
- A multi-country foreign exchange hedging facility could remove one of the biggest contributors to higher costs of finance for countries whose currencies are not pegged to internationally traded currencies.
- Investors could also reduce their exposure to risk by investing in bankable but coordinated portfolios of projects across several markets
- There needs to be collaborative, cross-country Research and development, which ISA hopes to facilitate.
- There is great optimism that the solar alliance would help in pushing ‘power for all’ into a more realistic realm. Furthermore, the ISA could be greatly beneficial in boosting technology transfer and emphasising the need for greater storage technologies.
- India too would benefit immensely from the Alliance. Not only would it facilitate it in its endeavor to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, but would also allow it to take a leadership role in the developing world.
Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
3) What are the structural problems that the Indian federalism faces today? What are the consequences of these problems? Has time come to allow each state to have its own model of governance, bureaucracy and local governments? Comment. (250 Words)
Why this question?
Federalism related issues gain prominence whenever there are elections and budgets. However, problems are real and their consequences are visible. Important question for Mains – 2018 (UPSC is fond of asking federalism related questions and essays)
Key demand of the question:
Direct question – what are the ‘structural’ problems, their consequences and your opinion about giving more autonomy to states. Give more weightage to first two parts.
Comment: In the third part of the question, briefly comment why you think states should be given more autonomy
Structure of Answer:
In the introduction write in 2-3 lines how federalism in India has come a long way and is facing new challenges. Write a line about your opinion – whether to give states more autonomy or not.
Briefly define federalism and constitutional background (articles/provisions)
In the body, divide answer into THREE main parts: first to write structural problems; Second to write their consequences and Third to write your opinion regarding giving more autonomy to states with respect to their own model of governance, bureaucracy and local governments. Within each part, categorise and write points. .
In the conclusion, highlight in 1-2 lines the need for union government(s) to empower states to reduce inequalities and bring development to all.
- Indian framers of the Constitution chose federalism because they were looking for a system that seemed to allow their people to have a say in local government while simultaneously stopping the potentially fractious provinces from pulling apart
Federalism in India:-
- The Constitution of Indiagives a federal structure to the Republic of India, declaring it to be a “Union of States”. Part XI of the Indian constitution specifies the distribution of legislative, administrative and executive powers between the Union or Federal or Central government, and the States of India.
- Federalism features in Indian scenario are:-
- Two governments i.e. Union Government and State governments
- Division of powers between the union and its constituents (Seventh Schedule of the Constitution contains three lists such as the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List)
- Supremacy of the Constitution (Basic structure of the Constitution is made indestructible by the Judiciary)
- Independent Judiciary
Structural problems in Indian federalism are:-
- Some of the major contentious issues include
- Article 200 (reservation of State Bills by the Governor for consideration of the President)
- Emergency provisions under Article 352, 356 and 360
- Compulsory compliance by the States with the executive power of the Centre under Article 256 and 257 etc.
- An appointed governor as head of state with discretionary powers
- The all-India services
- Planning Commission
- The introduction of license permit-quota-raj all these eroded the states powers significantly.
- Habitual abuse of Union’s powers for partisan political gain
- Frequent dismissal of elected state governments
- Union’s near complete control of public and private investments, excessive discretion of the Union in resource transfers
- Mass dismissals of state governments in 1977 and 1980 led to serious friction.
- These provisions amount to centralisation of power which has been the major concern among the states and they consider it threat to federalism.
- In the first five decades after independence, federalism was eroded by the Union’s arbitrary and partisan exercise of power. States exercise real power now and yet are severely constrained in delivering outcomes.
- Role of governors:-
- The abuse of the power under Article 356 by the Central Government is replete in the political history of the country. This has resulted in cementing of centralized forces and disaffection of constituent states towards the federal character of the Indian Polity.
- The imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in 2016, while there was an elected government in the State, created a bizarre incidence in the constitutional history of India.
- Absence of fiscal federalism:-
- Asymmetrical sharing of revenue and resource crunch at the periphery results in uneven development across the country. The current Goods and Services Tax measure was criticised by many states to be against fiscal federalism in India.
- Unequal representation:-
- In India, there is no such provision of an equal representation of states in the Rajya Sabha, the Second Chamber and nor the states have any substantial say over the amendments done to the Constitution from time to time
- In certain cases, states concerned are often being ignored by the Union Government in a matter of division of their geographical territory. The recent formation of the State of Telangana is a case in point.
- Considerable preponderance in legislative power for the Union, the financial dependence of the states on the Centre, the administrative inferiority of the states make the states weak.
- A rigid, uniform political model imposed on all states and local governments disregarding local needs.
- Poorly drafted Part IX of the Constitution that created over-structured, under-powered local governments that failed to take root as the third tier of federalism
- A dysfunctional bureaucracy protected by Article 311
- The generalist, all-purpose all-India services that do not bring specialized skills required to manage various services and enjoy a monopoly of all key public offices
- Rigidity in Union legislation on subjects like education with resultant failure to improve outcomes despite vast expenditure.
Consequences of these problems:-
- It is considered one of the significant consequences to structural problems in federalism in India.
- Incidents like Karnataka unveiling a separate state flag take place.
- Out of the 49 relatively large nations with gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $200 billion, India ranks at near bottom on most indicators of basic amenities, infrastructure, education and healthcare.
- The relevant recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on the restructuring of Centre-State relations have not been accepted and implemented in true spirit as a result of which there has been a persistent trend of centralisation of economic and political powers in the country.
Yes, more autonomy to state governments is necessary:-
- A more nuanced third phase of federalism while preserving and strengthening the nation’s unity and integrity, constitutional freedoms, checks and balances and democratic accountability is necessary.
- The one-size-fits-all model cannot deliver the desired outcomes of prosperity, elimination of poverty
- Need more flexible federalism, strengthening India’s unity and integrity, and allowing it to fulfil its potential.
- In no other democracy does the federal constitution impose a uniform structure, electoral system, and bureaucratic apparatus on states and local governments.
- Even in small unitary Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London city have their own electoral systems different from the Westminster model.
- In Canada, the provinces have the right to decide on the electoral system, form of government and local governance structure.
- Only the spirit of “co-operative federalism” and not an attitude of dominance or superiority can preserve the balance between the Union and the States and promote the good of the people.
- There have been excellent initiatives taken by some states to make development inclusive like Aarogyasree in AP, Bhagyalakshmi in Karnataka etc.
- Need to allow each state to have its own model of governance, bureaucracy and local governments, but with firm safeguards to preserve national unity, separation of powers, fundamental rights and democratic accountability.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Conservation, Environmental pollution, Land reforms, Economic growth
4) Does proper implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 act as an obstacle to economic growth? Critically comment. (250 Words)
Why this question?
It’s in news thanks to farmer/tribal rallies. Important question for Mains- 2018.
Key demand of the question:
Comment objectively about the impact of FRA on economic growth and development. Comment whether its true implementation would negatively affect economic growth or not.
Critically comment: Present both sides of the story – but, major part should be on negating the given statement and supporting your arguments.
Structure of Answer:
In the introduction write 2-3 lines about the linkages between agrarian distress, tribal unrest and non-implementation of FRA in letter and spirit, also its dilution in some cases. Then take your stand with respect to demand of the question.
In the body, divide answer into 5-6 categories( such as Reverse migration, conflicts, conservation etc) – each category should be devoted to prove a point that FRA indeed supports economic growth. Provide facts for all your arguments. (you have to think and generate points, you won’t get all in the given link)
In the conclusion, highlight that legislations such as FRA are progressive and must be implemented fully to ensure rights enshrined in the constitution are respected and upheld. (Or write your own very thoughtful conclusion for topics like these)
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or FRA was a landmark legislation that sought to restore the rights of forest dwellers over land, community forest resources and habitats, and the governance and management of forests.
No, it is not an impediment to the economic growth because :-
- In Tripura over 1.91 lakh claims were received from forest dwelling families and of these, over 1.24 lakh families have been benefitted with land ownership due to the successful implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, in the state.
- The Tribal Welfare Department has now taken this to the next level, and converged a multitude of economic schemes with other departments for the benefit of all patta holders. This has been accompanied by impressive economic benefits with thousands of tribal families benefiting from fisheries, horticulture etc
- Implementation of the Forest Rights Act will not only help resolve these conflicts but also help uplift the economic and social status of forest dwellers. This will lead to a inclusive economy.
- It can enhance the livelihood of people and promote sustainable forest management through collective action with legal sanction, scientific inputs and social process.
- Like Pachgaon, there are hundreds of villages across the country which have been empowered under the FRA to access their customary rights over forestland. This can lead to reverse migration .They have proved how the FRA can contribute to their livelihood and sustainable management of forests.
- Minor forest produce, selling bamboo, tribal art and handicrafts along with integration with TRIFED can contribute to economy as well.
- Effective implementation of this act will only increase the development process by permitting the necessary private projects and lead to inclusive growth.
- Sikkim adopted the Integrated Organic Farming Systems (IOFS) approach to stabilize income streams through natural resource management and livelihood diversification in tribal villages by innovation in farming for maximizing production through optimal use of local resources, effective recycling of farm waste for productive purposes, community-led local systems for water conservation, organic farming etc.
However there are challenges in the implementation of the act if corrected will help Indian economy like:-
- Due to the project some of the private projects have been delayed .
- Land and forest rights are not effectively given to the targeted.
- Intermittent delay in coordination is one of the prominent challenges. The verification process requires the coordination of a number of authorities from different departments. Delays happen as coordination among all these officials is sometimes difficult owing to the numerous other responsibilities the officials handle
- Augmenting financial resources is also a challenging task. Plans for expanding beyond the provision of economic benefits and including social benefits such as academic programmes/scholarships for forest dwellers have not materialised yet due to insufficient funds.
- With regard to some economic benefits granted in the implementation of the FRA there may be considerable delay in actually receiving the fruits of the benefits. For example, rubber plantations take seven years to fully mature, and to start generating a revenue.
- In some cases locals were encouraged to deforest areas, for growing food. This objective is achieved by burning trees and ground vegetation, then planting food crops on the ash-fertilised remains. This gave rise to “marginal farming”, which has ended up eroding India’s food security
- The government need to understand the potential of the FRA to address rural distress and not subvert its provisions.
- The state governments across the country should bring amendments to their forest law, especially laws related to minor forest produce, so that millions of forest dwellers will benefit from their access to forest resources.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Human Values; Ethical dilemma; Public services
5) You are preparing for civil services exam. Your parents, who are farmers, do not understand the nature of this exam. They have given up agriculture due to frequent losses. They are forcing you to work and earn some money so that they can sustain themselves with three meals a day. You decide to conduct tuition to rich kids in your area. On applying online, you get 3-4 homes to conduct evening tuitions. These sessions would consume 4-5 hours daily, but help you earn enough to sustain yourself and parents back home. One day you notice that few children of migrant workers are helping their parents near a construction site. You come to know that these children are not going to school. You decide to teach these children too.
- How will you convince parents of these children, and also children themselves to attend your classes?
- In case managing classes to both rich kids and migrant kids becomes hectic and starts affecting your civil services preparation, to which kids you will continue to teach? Justify.
Why this question?
It’s a case study that poses classic ethical dilemma. Similar case studies have been asked previously by UPSC.
Key demand of the question:
In both questions, through practical arguments, justify your stance. Focus should be on making arguments based on ground realities. Both Q 1 & 2 should be given equal weightage – around 175 words each.
Justify: Through illustrations, facts and examples, justify why you want to help a particular section of kids (or both).
Structure of Answer:
Write a general introduction about facts, issues and stakeholders of the case. Also write a line on inaccessibility of quality education to poor children.
Question- 1: No introduction needed.
Write in 5-6 paragraphs, how you will convince parents of these children: focus in ground realities, concerns of these parents, on what arguments they will actually agree to send children etc. (safety, fees, peer group, moving away from exploitation, trafficking, escaping from becoming anti-social elements etc)
Question- 2: One line introduction about your stance.
Justify through 6-7 arguments you stance. For each argument, provide an example/fact etc. Remember all stakeholders – your parents, yourself, poor children, their parents etc, while making arguments.
In a general conclusion highlight the need for ensuring state sponsored initiatives to help these children access education.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. However many children are denied education due to child labour. According to Census data, there are over 82 lakh child labourers (aged between 5 – 14 years) in India. Child labour and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labour of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labour to the end of time.
The stakeholders involved in this case study are myself, my parents, rich and poor children and their parents. The ethical issues involved are priority to my goals vs responsibility towards my parents, having empathy towards the poor children etc.
1 .I would first talk to the parents working at the construction site of the serious implications that child labour has on children, in long run. I will try to counsel them if there has to be a economically bright future for these families, their children must be provided with quality education and skill building.
I will persuade them to take the children out of work and enrol them in my tuitions instead as there will be no financial burden as well, thus helping the children move towards a different and better future.
I will try to make them understand that education makes a person self-dependent , their children wouldn’t have to struggle everyday to make their ends meet or be victims of influence by anti social elements or trafficking or gangs. They will have the ability to stand on their own like Abdul Kalam, Dhirubhai Ambani etc safely. Also i will make them aware that child labour is illegal .
Once the parents are convinced children will be easily sent to my tuitions and i would assure these children that if they want to be a support to their parents they have to study well for a bright future rather than working as helpers to their parents now.
2.Even though my responsibility towards the weaker sections is necessary for a civil servant the act of competency is important too for doing things efficiently. So despite time constraints I have to find a balanced solution which works best.
In this case abandoning the poor kids is not an option as it was me who convinced them to take my tuitions in the first place so neglecting them would mean abdicating the responsibility I endorsed myself on. Similarly abandoning rich kids is not an option as they are means to my family’s survival.
Instead of taking two different classes for these kids I will convince the rich parents that group study would benefit their children, children would learn importance of team effort, equality, compassion etc. Then I will conduct classes for both rich and poor kids together. So the time invested would be the same and I will have time to prepare for my civil services examination.
Therefore it is necessary that strict government measures be taken against child labour in public places especially like construction sites, restaurants etc .People need to be proactive and take responsibility of this cause and work collectively to eradicate this menace.