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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 MARCH 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 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: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues 

1) The Congress was started more with the object of saving the British Empire from danger than with that of winning political liberty for India. Comment. (250 Words)

Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence, Chapter – 4

Background:-

  • Indian national congress was the first organized expression of Indian nationalism on an all-India scale. However the origins of the party have multiple explanations attached to it.

 

Why some experts believe congress is the object of saving the British empire from danger:-

  • Some historians believe that Congress was brought into existence through direct Governmental initiative and guidanc
    • British could use it as an intended weapon for safeguarding British rule against the rising forces of popular unrest and anti-British feeling.
  • Considering the size of the Indian subcontinent, there were very few political persons in the early 1880s and the tradition of open opposition to the rulers was not yet firmly entrenched.
  • Safety valve:-
    • Courageous and committed persons like Dadabhai Naoroji, Justice Ranade, Pherozeshah Mehta, G. Subramaniya Iyer and Surendranath Banerjea cooperated with Hume because they did not want to arouse official hostility at such an early stage of their work.
  • They assumed that the rulers would be less suspicious and less likely to attack a potentially subversive organization if its chief organizer was a retired British civil servant. 
  • Role of moderates:-
    • The moderates in the Congress initially believed that British can bring changes for the benefit of Indians
    • Did not use violent means to address concerns with the British but resorted to petitions
    • They did not believe in mass mobilisation then.

The nationalist nature of congress :-

  • Congress was the culmination of a process of political awakening that had its beginnings in the 1860s and 1870s and took a major leap forward in the early 1880s. 
  • Slowly it became the vehicle of mass movements. It led the movement for freedom, the party that united India and brought people of different religions and languages into a single political project.
  • Leaders who took on British:-
    • It had committed leaders like Naoroji who wrote extensively on drain of wealth,
      Bal Gangadhar Tilak who was among the first Indian nationalists to embrace swaraj as the destiny of the nation, Gandhi etc.
  • They fought in the legislative councils along with organising mass movements like non cooperation, swadeshi etc which were totally anti British.

Conclusion:-

  • The INC functioned as ‘a truly unifying force’ despite a plethora of conflicting circumstances. In other words, if Hume and other English liberals hoped to use the Congress as a safety-valve, the Congress leaders hoped to use Hume as a lightning conductor. And as later developments show, it was the Congress leaders whose hopes were fulfilled.

General Studies – 2


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability; Regulatory bodies

2) While societal attitudes towards gambling have changed in the last century, with gambling now seen as a legitimate form of recreation, Indian laws have not kept pace with the times. Has time come for legalising gambling in India? Substantiate. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Background:-

  • The Law Commission of India’s endeavour to study the issue of whether or not gambling and betting should be legalised in the country is therefore a timely initiative to start the process of a much-needed reform.

Gambling needs to be legalised :-

  • Gambling has been prevalent in society since ancient times and has been accepted as a form of recreation on various social occasions.
  • Gambling is already happening in a massive way and is largely controlled by underworld syndicates
    • Legalising the activity will not only help curtail an important source of black money that is used by criminal syndicates, but also bring massive revenue to the state exchequer, which can be used for various constructive social schemes.
  • Revenue to the government:-
    • Government could earn tens of thousands of crores as tax revenue by legalising sports betting. Additionally, if online gambling and casinos are also permitted, the estimated tax revenue would be much higher.
  • International examples:-
    • In addition to revenue generation, a legal and regulated gambling sector will also help in creating large-scale employment opportunities.
    • Globally, wherever gambling is regulated, it has created a massive avenue for employment generation.
      • For instance, the regulated gambling industry in the U.S. employs over 2.5 lakh people, while over 1 lakh individuals are employed in this sector in the U.K.
    • Cricket:-
    • The United Kingdom and South Africa, both full members of the ICC, amended their legislation to regulate gambling following significant match-fixing scandals in cricket. Since they amended their legislation, neither country has been involved in any significant match-fixing scandals
  • It will ensure that people do not fall prey to the excesses of gambling as awareness campaigns will be  educate d  about the perils of excessive gambling.

 

However some experts argue that  gambling is not morally correct in the Indian context. It is responsible for addiction, loss of livelihoods and bankruptcy. 

 

Way forward:-

  • India can allow responsible gambling, where the government should provide “proper controls and protections” for those who may be damaged by gambling. 
  • Minors, habitual gamblers and vulnerable sections should be excluded from having access to gaming facilities
  • Limits must be imposed on the amounts that can be wagered, based on a person’s financial capabilities.
  • With respect to cricket after legalizing gambling, India should also become a member of the International Association of Gambling Regulators (“IAGR”), in which numerous ICC members participate.
    • India would have the opportunity to discuss gambling regulations and policy issues with other ICC members, cooperate with them on rules and regulations about sports betting, and gain a central point of contact with other countries. 

Conclusion:-

  • Gambling is not an activity which needs to be looked down upon by the people. The people involved  can easily contribute to the economy without harming their own self and their families if they understand their limits.

Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

3) Analyse challenges and solutions that exist in making members of the transgender community part of the mainstream. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background:-

  • The Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment granting India’s transgender community the right to be recognised as a third gender category and  ruled that it was every human being’s right to choose one’s own gender.
  • While in 2014, based on the Census, five million acknowledged their transgender status, activists say their number could be much higher. Over 66% of them live in the rural areas. 
  • The situation of transgender persons is still to be improved and they face multiple challenges .

Challenges:-

  • Historical:-
    • Indian Penal Code enacted by the British recognised only two genders, creating a binary that never existed.
    • Over time, these constructs were absorbed in Indian society. The community has since faced extreme forms of violence for not conforming to socially dictated gender identities.
  • Poverty:-
    • In too many cases, this lack of legal protection translates into unemployment for transgender people.
  • Harassment and stigma:-
    • The community still faces considerable stigma .
    • When the Kochi Metro Rail Limited formally employed 23 transgender persons, eight of them dropped out after being unable to find suitable accommodation based on the monthly wages they drew (between ₹9,000 and ₹15,000). Many households were unwilling to let out their houses to them.
    • Despite recruited in government services like police ,principal etc they drop out due to immense pressure and insensivity by the public.
    • Sex work makes this community a high-risk group for HIV according to India’s National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), compounding the stigma they face 
  • Violence:-
    • The community, especially those who are a part of the ‘guru-chela’ structure in Hijra gharanas and practise the traditions of “mangti” and “badhai”, are often harassed, detained under begging prohibition laws, and forced into begging homes.
  • Barrier to healthcare:-
    • Face barriers to obtaining medically-necessary health services and encountering medical professionals who lacked transgender health care competency.
  • Identity Documents :-
    • The widespread lack of accurate identity documents among transgender people can have an impact on every area of their lives, including access to emergency housing or other public services.
  • Exclusion:-
    • In the case of transgender children, their families, unable to accept their status, subject them to domestic violence, which often compels these children to leave home.
  • Drawbacks in law:-
    • Transgender identity is not yet recognised in criminal law, whether as the third gender or as a self-identified male or female.
    • There is also no clarity on the application of gender-specific laws to transgender persons.
    • Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is applicable to transgender persons (i.e., those who were male at birth). This amounts to double persecution.
  • There are other issues that worry transgender persons such as their right to property, adoption, marriage, pension, and care for the old and the disabled.

Solutions:-

  • Sensitising the workforce in protecting the rights and dignity of the community. 
  • Implement transgender bill effectively :-
    • The Bill recommends the formation of a National Council for Transgender Persons that is tasked with monitoring and evaluating policies formulated for transgender persons. This may pave the way for fulfilling the community’s long-standing demand for representation in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Leading voices from the community have called for vocational programmes in creative fields, a recommendation made by the Standing Committee too.
  • There is need for a comprehensive survey on the socio-economic status of the community.
  • Transgender welfare boards are needed in different States.
  • Transgender persons should take part in the national Census to generate accurate data.
  • Explicit policies on transgender-friendly registration and non-discrimination and healthcare workers need to be trained to provide non-judgmental care.
  • Standing committee recommendations:-
    • Recommended re-drafting the definition of a ‘transgender person’ to make it inclusive and accurate; providing for the definition of discrimination and setting up a grievance redress mechanism to address cases of discrimination and granting reservations to transgender persons. 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

4) Today, what is needed is a credible testing method to assess a student’s aptitude and learning. But the answer may lie not in one all-important examination, but in multiple assessments that achieve the same goal. Discuss in the Indian context. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Background:-

  • With the leak of its annual examination question papers of a few subjects the Central Board of Secondary Education faces a serious erosion of credibility. State board question papers have been leaked in the past. Also the examination system has been criticised of encouraging rote learning rather than creativity in education.

Yes, there is a need to change the examination system because :-

  • The use of a quantitative indicator with rising importance for social decision-making makes it more vulnerable to corruption pressures, and distorts and undermines the very processes it is intended to monitor. 
  • The present system puts excessive stress on the students which is visible in the rising number of suicides, focuses on rote learning rather than learning the subject etc.
  • Such an approach will end the scramble for high scores in a definitive board examination, and the exam stress that the government has been trying to alleviate. It will also limit the fallout of a leak. 
  • Examination reforms that focus on problem-solving, critical thinking and reasoning skills are critical to improving quality at the secondary level.
    • Such reforms will change the teaching–learning processes and improve learning outcomes.
  • In recent years, CBSE has introduced wide-ranging examination reforms in schools affiliated to it ,a system of grading in place of marks has been introduced etc.
  • Instead of having one examination at the end of the annual year if a continuous assessment is done via unit tests, quarterly exams, projects, seminars etc the pressure on students is eased.
  • The class room activities do not provide scope for the child’s creative abilities to flourish. The information in the book is learnt in a monotonous way. This is the flaw in the system
  • The examinations are inadequate to test various other skills in a child. Examinations provide no scope for any creativity and children can only reproduce from memory.

However there are some challenges:-

  • In 1962, there were 309 schools in India under CBSE, while at present, the Board has 18,688 schools affiliated to it, most of which follow varying assessment and report card patterns. This brings in the need to have a uniform system of assessment and evaluation of students and remove any sort of disparity in the system that creates problems for students needing to migrate from one CBSE school to another.
  • Issues with CCE(Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation):-
    • This had put the students under tremendous pressure.
    • Though the new syllabus has given more importance to activity oriented earning. This was aimed at doing away with rote learning system, it appeared that this has not helped to reduce ‘exam fever’ among students.
  • Also teacher quality is not upto the mark so without strengthening teachers knowledge base creative assessment cannot be done effectively.
  • Rural-urban bias might increase as schools in rural areas still lack necessary utilities.

 

Way forward:-

  • The system needs to be one that enables students to truly learn what they are being taught and internalize it and not just mug it up for a few days or months.
  • It needs to be more long term than what the situation is at present.
  • At the same time it also needs to be practical so that the students abilities are properly tested
  • Teachers should be trained to meet the growing requirements in the education sector.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

5) It is said that with the idea of NEXT, a window of opportunity has opened to rectify ills in medical education. Analyse.  (250 Words)

Livemint

Background:-

  • NEXT is the first-ever four-in-one test that will be conducted for MBBS graduates, foreign medical graduates, PG aspirants, the UPSC-CMS (combined medical services) aspirants so as to become eligible to practise medicine in India.

 NEXT is a necessity to rectify the ills of medical education :-

  • The NEXT is primarily aimed at ensuring a minimum quality standardfor the 61,000 odd graduating MBBS doctors that the approximately 479 medical colleges in India produce
  • It intends to bring uniformity in the quality of the MBBS graduatesacross the country
  • In the light of management quota seats in private medical colleges and quality of medical professionals deteriorating there will be a National Licentiate Examination for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice. 
  • This Examination will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.
  • The concepts of competence-based learning, inter-professional education, etc, can be incorporated to achieve the aim of producing an MBBS graduate with the intended skills and training. 
  • It will standardise the medical education in India.
  • Once introduced, the exam will also reduce the burden of multiple exams for medical aspirants.
  • Outcome of NEXT can be a tangible parameter to determine the quality of that college.
  • well-conducted NEXT would help a patient repose confidence in the competence of his/her treating doctor.

Criticism:-

  • Inherent design flawscan reduce it to just another examination that does not deliver on what it aims to do.
  • Already understaffed healthcare sectorwould be further left inadequate of the large number of graduates who might fail to qualify in the NEXT and would not be allowed to practise till they are able to do so.
  • NEXT is similar to  FMGE(foreign medical graduate screening exam) which was introduced through the MCI Screening Test Regulations, 2002 
    • Unfortunately, the FMGE does not test any higher order of learning or clinical skills, and is thus not an ideal template on which to design an exit examination.
  • Confusion that it will replace the MBBS final year examinationand  the degree awarded by the university would  lose its meaning
  • An MCQ-only NEXT will not serve this required purpose  as it could lead to mushrooming  of coaching centers.

Suggestions:-

  • Medical regulators should take the time to plan, design and implement an exit examination modelwhich serves the purpose of assessing whether an MBBS graduate has been trained adequately to be able to serve as an independent skilled practitioner.
  • The testing model should integrate well with the internal mechanisms throughout the MBBS course for medical student assessment, so that there is also attention paid to ongoing comprehensive training throughout the course.
  • It should have both written and clinical components.
    • NEXT needs to test all three domains of education: cognitive, psychomotor, affective. That will further strengthen the students’ need to take existing MBBS examinations seriously.
  • Develop infrastructure:
    • First  establish simulation labs, acquire advanced and adequate mannequins and training staff then it will be meaningful to execute the NEXT
  • Phased implementation:-
    • In the past, sudden examination model changes have hurt the interests of students immensely, and hence it is prudent to take the designing of the NEXT slowly and with caution. India can learn from the phased implementation of the UKMLA. 
    • The United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE), which came into effect from 1992, has become more clinically applied over the years.
      • Since 2015, the USMLE in all its three steps has added components of patient safety and quality improvement, concepts that are only recently making small inroads in pockets of Indian medical education.

Conclusion:-

  • A truly meaningful and well-carved NEXT should be a gold standard test for the production of a stand-alone skilled physician, irrespective of wherever they studied undergraduate medicine in India and not serve as just another gateway to medical postgraduate seats/courses.

General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

6) What are the objectives of introducing the  Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill of 2017? Also discuss its significance. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Background:-

  • The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Specific Relief Act, 1963.  The Act sets out the remedies available to parties whose contractual or civil rights have been violated. 

Why was this bill introduced :-

  • Issues with the act:-
    • Specific performance of contracts under the 1963 law is an alternative only when monetary compensation is not sufficient can the court ask for it. It is also a discretionary relief, that is, it is left to the court to decide whether specific performance should be given to a party asking for it. This gives rise to uncertainty in contracts.
  • The government wants to ensure that there is ease of doing business, and the specific relief law is a hindrance. Uncertainty in contracts often means investors become vary of getting entangled in legal trouble
  • The Act is not in tune with the rapid economic growth happening in the country and the expansion of infrastructure activities that are needed for the overall development of the country.
  • The Bill intends to wean the courts away from the usual practice of closing a case after a grant of monetary damages to the injured party to the contract. Instead, it pushes courts to direct parties to complete the promised project.
  • The 2017 Bill does away with the wider discretion of courts to grant specific performance and to make specific performance of contract a general rule than exception subject to certain limited grounds.
  • Changed times:-
    • Time is ripe for amending the 1963 law as the tremendous economic development since the enactment of the Act brought in enormous commercial activities in India including foreign direct investments, public private partnerships, public utilities infrastructure developments, etc., which have prompted extensive reforms in the related laws to facilitate enforcement of contracts, settlement of disputes in speedy manner.”

 Significance of the bill:-

  • The proposed changes seek to introduce guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive relief.
    • The amendments in Section 20 A and 14 A in the Act warrant that the courts would not grant injunction in any suit related to infrastructure projects if that would hinder its progress or delay its completion.
    • The bar on injunction could apply even at the stage of the tendering process.
  • The Bill also proposes to grant a party right to seek damages from the other side in case of a breach of a business contract.
    • It makes the grant of specific performance of contracts compulsory, by taking away the discretionary power of courts.
  • Reduces uncertainty in projects for infrastructure or those involving huge public investments. The recommendations are aimed at ensuring that public works contracts happen without unnecessary delays.
  • World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business global report places India at the 164th position on the enforcing contracts indicator. The time taken to enforce a contract in India is close to four years (1,445 days), according to the World Bank report. This can be improved now with the passage of this bill.
  • Move is significant as it comes at a time when the Supreme Court and several state high courts are hearing petitions filed by environmentalists and NGOs challenging proposed ventures on the grounds that they damage ecology.
  • Smooth functioning of public works projects can be effectively managed through a monitoring system and regulatory mechanism.
  • The amendment introduces a special categorization of ‘infrastructure projects’.
  • Special courts for infrastructure projects Special courts are proposed for determination of suits relating to infrastructure projects.
  • Fixing time limit of 12 months for case disposal shows the move towards speedy resolution and accountability.
  • Under the existing law, the courts grant monetary compensation in exceptional circumstances. The amendment would bar the courts from issuing interim stays. 
  • The act is a remedy which aims at the exact fulfilment of an obligation or specific performance of the contract rather than grant of a general relief or damages or compensation.
    • For instance the cases of Western Peripheral Expressway and Rani Jhansi Road grade separator in Delhi. They have been delayed due to a series of litigations.
  • Corporate rivalry and tussles between Governments and investors cause projects to be challenged in courts. By the time a case is decided, there is a manifold cost escalation in majority of cases. This can be resolved now.

Topic:  Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; 

7) Better designed Kisan Credit Card can help improve access to institutional credit and ensure crop insurance. Discuss. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Background:-

  • Kisan Credit Card (KCC) is one of the most innovative, widely accepted, highly appreciated and non-discriminatory banking products in India.
  • To achieve the goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 there is need for Access to institutional credit and crop insurance . According to 70th round of NSSO survey (2013), 52 per cent of the farmer households were indebted, of which 60 per cent had accessed formal credit.

Better designed kisan card is needed because :-

  • Farmers access crop loan primarily through Kisan Credit Cards (KCC). 
  • It is observed that the eastern and the north-eastern parts of the country receive proportionately less credit as compared to the western or southern parts.
  • Issues with crop insurance :-
    • Major reasons is the apathy of bankers to deduct the premium amount from the loanee farmers’ accounts in time and transfer the same to the insurer.
    • When banks insure a farmer, they go by his declaration at the time of making the KCC and insure accordingly.
      • There is no attempt to verify which crop has been actually planted and there is no system of asking the farmer to fill some form for crop insurance. As a result, when a crop loss is reported, there is a dispute between the farmer and the insurance company.
    • Farmers who cannot access institutional finance have to seek credit from informal channels, which charge them anywhere between 24 to 36 per cent per annum as interest. In contrast, those who have access to formal bank credit receive it at 7 per cent per annum, 
    • Most of the KCC beneficiary farmers have reported the lengthy and tedious paper work to be the major problem.
    • The insufficient credit limit, higher interest rate, non-availability of loan on time, inflexibility in the number of withdrawals and use of bank branches were other major problems reported by the farmers.
    • One of the factors that inhibited velocity of transactions in the account is the repayment stipulations that:
      • Sub-limits should be repaid before the next withdrawal
      • specific due dates irrespective of the crop marketing are causing procedural difficulties and need to be reconsidered.

What needs to be reformed in KCC are:-

  • The limit of a KCC can be de-linked from the scale of finance of the crop sown and be based on the area of land held by a farmer. This will lead to:-
    • The farmer will not have to make a false declaration to get a higher credit limit. This will result in true declaration of the crop sown and hence, the discrepancy seen in crop insurance will be addressed.
    • It will address the issue of distorted inter-regional credit flow to farmers and will ensure that credit flow to farmers in backward regions increases. 
    • The existing credit limit under KCC needs to be increased to meet the credit needs of farmers for production process.
  • Reduction in the existing rate of interest, incorporation of consumption loan along with crop loan, flexibility in the use of bank branchescould attract more farmers towards the scheme. 
  • Rural areas:-
    • To bring large number of rural farmers under the  scheme, the process of opening bank accounts should be simplified. This can be facilitated by organizing
      village campaigns for the issuance of KCCs
      .
    • There is a need to strengthen the cooperative banking system in the rural areas by infusing more resources. To reduce regional disparity in the performance of KCC scheme, the government should launch awareness generation programmes about the benefits of this scheme. 
  • The government should ensure the timely availability of good quality inputs like seed,  manure, plant protection materials by improving marketing infrastructure so that farmers could properly utilize the loan taken under KCC scheme.
  • Credit limit under KCC can be split into two parts. Part A can consist of 75 per cent of the credit limit and part B the remaining 25 per cent.
    • The farmer can pay an amount equivalent to the price being paid by him from part A or any other source in cash and the amount of subsidy from part B by swiping the card, thus paying the full price upfront.
    • It should be technologically possible to divide the card in two parts by having different PIN numbers for them. The subsidy will be transferred through DBT to part B of the card. This will ensure better targeting and encourage digital transactions.

General Studies – 4


Topic: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions; dimensions of ethics
 

 

 

Answer:-

 

Big Data is producing increased powers of institutional awareness and power that require the development of Big Data Ethics. The Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp shows just how high the stakes can be as huge amounts of data is available.

The scale and ease with which data collection can all be done today changes the ethical framework of data analysis. Developers today can tap into remarkably varied and far-flung data sources.

 

Big Data revolution raises a bunch of ethical issues related to privacy, confidentiality, transparency and identity.

 

The problem is that people’s ability to reveal patterns and new knowledge from previously unexamined troves of data is moving faster than current legal and ethical guidelines can manage.

 

Big data capabilities risk abandoning these values for the sake of innovation and expediency.

Big data analytics can compromise identity by allowing institutional surveillance to moderate and even determine who we are before we make up our own minds.

 

Ensuring privacy of data is a matter of defining and enforcing information rules  not just rules about data collection, but about data use and retention. People should have the ability to manage the flow of their private information across massive, third-party analytical systems.

 

Big data is powerful when secondary uses of data sets produce new predictions and inferences. Of course, this leads to data being a business, with people such as data brokers, collecting massive amounts of data about users, often without our knowledge or consent. For big data to work in ethical terms, the data owners /social media companies need to have a transparent view of how user data is being used or sold.

 

There’s a great deal of work to do in translating these principles into laws and rules that will result in ethical handling of Big Data. Along with strict laws Organizational principles, institutional statements of ethics, self-policing, and other forms of ethical guidance are also needed.