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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 APRIL 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 27 APRIL 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 


TopicSalient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Effects of globalization on Indian society Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

1)Riots in India  disturb the very essence of its democracy and politics.  Critically comment, in the light of major causes of riots in our country.(250 words)

The Hindu

The Hindu

 

 

Why this question

Riots remain a perennial, occasional problem in India. There have been a number of riots in our country, which have resulted into numerous loss of life and property. In recent times, the nature if these riots has changed. The issue is related to GS- 1 syllabus under the following heading-

 

Key demand of the question

The question wants to know our personal opinion on whether riots disturb democracy and politics and how they are linked. We have to justify our opinion by analyzing the causes of riots in India.

 

Directive word

Critically comment- we have to form a personal opinion on the issue and we have to justify our stand by looking deeper into some of the major causes of riots and see how they affect democracy and politics in our country.

 

Structure of the answer

Introduction- quote some relevant figures like major riots and loss of life and property thereof.

Body- divide the body into two main parts. In one part discuss briefly, how riots impact society at large.

In the other part, discuss how causes of  riots are linked with politics. e.g riots increase during election times, role of politicians at various levels in the start and spread of riots, response of police and their political subservience and limited capacity etc.

In the other part, discuss how riots impact democracy. E.g riots increase during election times ( democracy subverted by a democratic process), justice delivery affected, important issues take a back-seat etc.

Conclusion- give a fair, unbiased opinion as extracted out of the above discussion and give some suggestions to prevent riots.

 

Background:-

  • Since Independence, India has been pursuing the ideal of nation-building based on secularism. Even after years of independence, India is still burning under the fire of riots.
  • Government data shows that as many as 111 people were killed and 2,384 others were injured in 822 communal incidents in the country in 2017.

Why are riots still taking place?

  • General reasons :-
  • There have been instances in the past where riots took place which were religion induced for instance godhra riots, Caste induced like in Tamilnadu violence between vanniyars and SC ,ethincity induced like in the North eastern states but recently the nature of riots has changed.
  • Nature of the riots has changed :-
    • Political:-
      • They are being premeditated acts of brutality followed by a sterile weakness of governmental response. Also there is the narrative of legitimacy built in the aftermath of a riot to normalise them.
      • The number of riots seems to double or triple before election year.
      • There is the politics of the route.
        • The control of routes almost becomes the ground for riots. Leaders of riots are leading politicians, including in a recent case a son of a Minister was involved in such incidents.
      • Conventionally, a riot had a short sequence followed by an almost surprising return to normalcy. The new riots have raised a different spectre of violence.
      • Majoritarian logic is based on the premise that the majority religious community can commit any act of mass violence, but that will not be anti-national. What is anti-national is only minority violence.
      • Hate speeches by elected representatives is on rise.
    • Cultural:-
      • Festival is used as a pretext for large pre-mediated riots involving murder, arson and destruction of property. For instance the ram navami procession in Bihar
    • Administrative failure:-
      • The forces of law and order seem lukewarm or ill-equipped to fight such violence. 
      • Police forces under political pressure along with their limited capacity to curb riots , directly or indirectly support riots.
    • Technology:-
      • The Internet is a great carrier of instant rumours. In Nawada, riots were triggered when an idol of Hanuman was found vandalised.

Impact :-

  • Politics :-
    • Riots become a way of dividing society along standard fault lines and intensifying solidarity and suspicion as a way of consolidating vote-banks.
    • Riots have become premeditated acts of violence serving as a prelude and a catalyst for India’s electoral machine. In that sense, riots are challenging the very essence of government and politics in Indian democracy.
    • It goes against the spirit of election and alienate a person from majority section to be get chosen by the minority in elections hence vote bank politics.
  • Democracy:-
    • Riots are the price people pay to keep electoral democracy going. They provide the grease for animosity and keep political suspicion and hate alive.
    • Political irresponsibility tied to weak governance becomes an added incentive for politicians prone to use riots as an act of electoral consolidation.
    • Apart from having effect on the society, it is also a threat to Indian constitutional values, which promotes Secularism and religious tolerance. In that case, citizens don’t fulfil their fundamental duties towards the nation.
    • It becomes a threat for the unity and integrity of the nation as a whole. It promotes only the feeling of hatred in all directions, dividing the society on communal lines.
    • Thus riots are the true enemy in the way of development and democracy ,as bit shifts the agenda from development of the nation to some small factors based on the insecurities that lies within the society based on majority and minority in religion or caste
    • Widens the gap between government and people and people would lose trust on the government and institutions for instance violence after the strike against supreme court order on SC/ST act
  • They Cause Damage to Life and Property. Companies do not show much interest to invest in riot affected areas and so development and growth in these regions is affected adversely.
  • Other than these, minorities are viewed with suspicion by all, including state authorities like police, para military forces, army, intelligence agencies, etc. 
  • It adversely impacts the education of the students living in those regions 
  • Sudden increase in violence against any particular community causes mass exodus and stampede which in turn kills many number of people. For example, this was seen in the case of Bangalore in 2012, with respect to people from North eastern states, which was stimulated by a rumour.

What needs to be done ?

  • Bill like Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 is needed:-
    • The bill provided for a seven-member National authority for communal harmony, justice and reparations.
    • It attempted to safeguard the minority sections.
    • It had provisions for ensuring accountability of the district administration.
    • This has already been recommended by the Sachar committee and Raganath Mishra Commission.
  • Apart from legislative support, administrative efficiency and alertness with the help of modern tools and technology, the major onus lies on the citizens themselves by avoiding communal violence. 
  • There is a great need to work towards eradicating the problem of unemployment among the youths, illiteracy and poverty and that too with honesty and without any discrimination.  This will help in solving many problems, and will create awakening.  The result will be in checking on communalism and riots to a great extent.
  • Implement police reforms to strengthen police capacity to deal with riots.

General Studies – 2


Topic – Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

2)Section 69A of IT Act requires reforms to protect freedom of expression. Discuss.(250 words)

Indian express

 

Why this question

Off late internet regulations have been under much discussion due to issues generated by privacy, govt blocking USP etc. This brings the focus on IT Act and the refinement required in the act to ensure freedom of expression tempered by genuine needs of protecting sovereignty, unity etc

 

Key demand of the question

The focus of the question is on analysing the need, propriety, reforms required in IT Act. We have to explain how section 69A of IT Act is related to freedom of expression, the court judgements in this regard, and the reforms required.

 

Directive word

Discuss – We have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. We have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

 

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain section 69A of IT Act

 

Body

  • Explain how the provision is related to freedom of expression
  • Mention that India tops the list of countries putting up request for blocking URLs
  • Debate should bring out both pros and cons of 69A. Shreya Singhal judgment has to be discussed
  • Reforms have to be mentioned  – best practices of various countries etc

 

Conclusion – mention the importance of securing freedom of expression over the internet in information age and the need to bring detailed guidelines and amendments in law to ensure protection of this fundamental human right.

Section 69A of IT act :-

  • Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, along with its corresponding Rules, set out the procedure for blocking of websites in India.
  • Section 69A of the IT Act, empowers the Central Government to order that access to certain websites and computer resources be blocked in the interest of the defense of the country, its sovereignty and integrity, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence. 

There is no need for reforms in section 69 of IT act as its imposition is justifies due to the following reasons :-

  • Imposing a ban on the Internet in the disturbed areas like Kashmir for a limited period of time may be justified to contain the violence, reduce radicalisation and save lives
  • Supreme court’s judgment in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India:-
    • Unlike in the case of Section 66A, the Court was of the view that Section 69A has inbuilt safeguards.
    • Blocking can be carried out only when the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary and the restrictions sought to be imposed fall squarely within the reasonable restrictions to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(2).
    • It cannot be carried out without the approval of a committee that would take into account the views of all affected parties.
    • The Court also noted that the reasons for the blocking were required to be recorded in writing so that they could be challenged if need be in a writ petition.
  • Blocking of porn websites and websites dealing with sexually explicit content can be justified on the ground of government regulating public decency and morality.
  • In the light of the recent incidents where fake news are spread rapidly, radicalisation on internet is rampant  there is need for blocking the websites.

Why reforms are necessary?

  • Right to filter content under the IT Act is being compromised:-
    • Censorship is being outsourced to an offshore company.
  • In Indian case the services of the filtering company Netsweeper were found installed by major ISPs at 42 locations. 
  • The process is opaque and no one takes responsibility
  • Users are not told what they are being protected from by the state.
  • The internet has flourished because of a culture of openness and transparency, which are completely lacking in the blocking process.
  • In today’s world, blocking is an outdated and antiquated phenomenon. With the Internet providing so many distinct new tools, as well as VPN facilities to bypass the blocking orders, people are increasingly getting tech-savvy.
  • While the rules indicate that a hearing is given to the originator of the content, this safeguard is not evidenced in practice. Not even a single instance exists on record for such a hearing.
  • RTI applications that have requested for further information on the implementation of these safeguards have been unsuccessful . No comprehensive list of websites and the legal orders under which they are blocked exists.
  • Legislature is increasingly viewing the internet as an inherently dangerous medium, one that deserves greater regulation with decreased safeguards for civil rights. 
  • Even the government’s past approach towards blocking orders was criticised given that basic processes and safeguards are flouted.

 

Way forward:-

  • When users encounter a blocked site, they should be clearly informed that it has been blocked by the government or a court. Besides, users should also be told, with transparent reasoning, why they are denied access.
  • Rather than blocking website government can block specific content.
  • The committee reviewing block request needs to consists of lawyers excelled in cyber laws ,judges and multi stakeholders so that inclusive opinion is formed 

 


TOPIC: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

3)The new Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Committee has recommended lowering India’s public debt to 60% of GDP by FY25 (from about 70% now); this can only be achieved if India’s states also keep their deficits in check. Examine.(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The ToR of 15th FC has brought back the focus on distribution of revenues between centre and states and state finances. Economic survey last year had also analysed this topic in detail. With global debt increasing world over, it is important to examine whether the states need to tighten their spending to comply with the requirements of FRBM

 

Key demand of the question

We have to explain the recommendation of NK Singh committee, the rationale behind it, how and why is it important for the states to comply with the recommendations, what’s hampering the states from complying with it, what measures centre has taken to ensure that states are able to complying with the debt limits and what else needs to be done for the same.

 

Directive word

Examine – We have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. The various aspects which has to be mentioned is highlighted in the section above.

 

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain FRBM Act and the recommendation of NK Singh committee

 

Body

  • Status quo – how effectively are states complying  with the requirement
  • Why is it important for states to comply – mention the implications of not complying
  • Roadblocks in the way of states from achieving target – development expenditure, pay commission fulfillment etc
  • Steps that centre has taken to ensure states comply
  • What more can be done to make states comply with the FRBM requirement. Here you can take inputs from 2016-17 economic survey.

 

Conclusion – mention that keeping debt levels in check is critical for the economy and highlight the sensitivity of the issue.

Background :- 

  • The N K Singh Committee has suggested a new Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act to replace the old one.

New FRBM committee :-

  • The committee wanted the existing FRBM Act, 2003, to be replaced by a new Debt and Fiscal Responsibility Act and suggested setting up of a fiscal council to provide forecasts and analysis for fiscal deficit as well as advise the finance ministry on escape clauses
  • The main change in FRBM-2 is to make the public debt-GDP ratio the anchor for fiscal policy.
  • Fiscal deficits will be adjusted annually to achieve an anchor rate of 61%, down from around 70%
  • This will be achieved by lowering the Centre’s ratio from 49.4% to 40%, while leaving the states ratio at 21%.
  • The glide path for the central fiscal deficit will be from 3.0% during 2018-20 down to 2.5% in 2022-23 and thereafter. The revenue deficit is to slide 0.25% every year, from 2.3% in 2016-17 to 0.8% by 2022-23.
  • The states will follow a more complicated fiscal deficit glide path, from almost 3% today to 1.7% by 2025.

States fiscal prudence was good already:-

  • According to experts states have better track record compared to the Centre when it comes to following fiscal responsibility road map and can be given more leeway to meet the deficit targets
  • India’s debt-GDP ratio stands at around 67 per cent, including both the Centre and states. The Centre alone accounts for 49 per cent of this debt.
  • The reduction of the states share in the size of the general government was a direct consequence of better implementation of fiscal responsibility laws by the states relative to the central government
  • While the introduction of VAT and high growth indubitably helped keep revenues buoyant, the fact that revenue buoyancy was seen across rich and poor states indicates that there was a collective effort to achieve revenue targets
  • State governments did not fully utilise their higher revenues to increase expenditures in good times. Rather, they exercised political will and executive restrain

Why states should comply:-

  • The combined debt dynamics necessitate States to run successively lower primary and fiscal deficits just to maintain their combined debt to GDP ratio at the current level. 
    • Despite the higher transfers, the analysis of 18 state budget documents suggests that states, on aggregate, clocked a fiscal deficit of 2.9% in FY18, higher than the budgeted 2.6%.
    • While on aggregate, the overall state fiscal deficit remained under 3% as mandated several individual states breached the 3% target. 
  • The recent marked deterioration in fiscal health of the States
    • The fact that only six States in FY17 were eligible for enhanced borrowing is indicative of States decaying fiscal prudence.
    • The recent spate of farm loan waivers is symptomatic of deteriorating State finances.
  • Almost 60% of overall government spending is done by the states.
  • The rapid rise in state government borrowings has spooked bond markets in recent times and understanding all aspects of the government bond market has become critical for macro stability. 
  • The non-tax transfers to the states have also risen gently over the past year.
  • Increase in expenditure side (which rose by 0.45% of GDP compared with the budgets) led by higher-than-expected salaries/pensions bill, farm loan waivers, impending pay revision and rising interest burden after the steep increase in the issuance of state development loans (SDLs).

 

Role of centre to make states comply:-

  • The Centre’s administrative control over the magnitude of state borrowings has succeeded in keeping the combined fiscal deficits of the latter at substantially lower levels than its own fiscal deficit (as a percentage of GDP) over the last decade.
  • The recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission incentivised the states to restructure their finances towards maintaining a balanced revenue account and curtailing their fiscal deficit to 3% of gross state domestic product (GSDP) by FY2009.
  • The Centre accepted the 14th Finance Commission’s prescription for some flexibility to states for additional borrowing of up to 0.5% of GSDP each year above the annual fiscal deficit threshold limit of 3% upon fulfilment of certain conditions.
    • Accordingly, implicit targets have been set for the states for restricting interest payments at or below 10% of their receipts, curtailing debt below 25% of their GSDP and maintaining a balanced or surplus revenue account
  • These changes will bring the focus back to eliminating states revenue deficit rather than the current focus on restricting the fiscal deficit below 3% of GSDP.

Way forward:-

  • K.Singh committee has suggested escape clauses from the fiscal path in the event of unexpected disasters. In such cases, fiscal deviation of no more than 0.5% for one year will be allowed, after which the normal glide path will resume. 
  • Prudent use of powers defined in the Constitution of India under Clause (3) of Article 293.
    • This makes it mandatory for a State to take the Central government’s consent for raising any loan if the former owes any outstanding liabilities to the latter.
  • Recently, the Union Cabinet has permitted State government entities to directly borrow from bilateral partners for vital infrastructure Incentivising prudent fiscal management is a welcome initiative.
  • There must be symmetry between the cost of borrowing and the quality of financial governance.
  • The Fourteenth Finance Commission’s (FFC) recommendation of adopting a template for collating, analysing and annually reporting the total extended public debt in their respective budgets as a supplement to the budget document must be implemented
  • Emphasising quality of expenditure:-
    • A recent HSBC report notes that quality of state spending has been gradually worsening over the past few years 
  • Given the deteriorating condition of State finances, the Fifteenth Finance Commission could consider restoring fiscal discipline as a determinant for horizontal devolution of funds

TOPIC: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities
of various Constitutional Bodies.

4)Examine Indian response to the appointment of Simon commission. Also, discuss the impacts of Simon Commission.(250 words)

Key demand of the question

In the first part of the question, we have to examine indian response of various political factions to appointment of Simon commission and the reasons behind it. In the second part, we have to discuss the impact that Simon commission had. Impact has to be analysed from multiple perspectives ranging from impact on constitutional scheme , on the freedom movement etc

 

Directive word

Examine – mention the response and probe deeper examining the reasons behind response and the impact of the response.

 

Discuss – Mention the impact and the pros and cons of the impact

 

Structure of the answer

Introduction – explain the context in which Simon Commission was appointed and details of the Simon Commission.

 

Body

  • Mention the response of Congress, Muslim league, unionists etc
  • Also discuss the reasons why they responded the way they did.
  • Discuss the impact that Simon commission had on polity, on federal structure, on the national movement and any other impact you feel it had

 

Conlusion – Summarise your answer which should highlight how critical a role the commission played.

 

Simon commission:-

  • The Simon Commission was a group of 7 MPs from Britain who was sent to India in 1928 to study constitutional reforms and make recommendations to the government.
  • The Commission was originally named the Indian Statutory Commission. It came to be known as the Simon Commission after its chairman Sir John Simon.

Indian response:-

  • None of the Indians was appointedin the commission and the promise of appeasing the Indian opinion seemed to be a bubble. When no Indian was included in the commission, it was like depriving of their right to participate in the determination of the constitution of their own country
  • Congress:-
  • At the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1927, a resolution was passed which advocated the boycott of the Simon Commission .
  • The Muslim League led by M A Jinnah also boycotted it. A certain section of members led by Muhammad Shafi supported the government.
  • The Justice Party in the South decided to side with the government on this issue.
  • When the Commission landed in February 1928, there were mass protests, hartals and black flag demonstrations all over the country.

Impacts of Simon commision:-

  • The Commission’s report was published in 1930. Before the publication, the government assured that henceforth, Indian opinion would be considered and that the natural outcome of constitutional reforms would be dominion status for India.
  • It recommended the abolition of diarchy and the setting-up of representative governments in the provinces.
  • It also recommended the retention of separate communal electorates until the communal tensions had died down.
  • The Simon Commission led to the Government of India Act 1935 which acted as the basis for many parts of the current Indian Constitution.
  • Motilal Nehru presented his Nehru Report to counter its charges that Indians could not find a constitutional consensus among themselves. This report advocated that India be given dominion status of complete internal self-government.
  • The arrival of the Commission gave an impetus to the Indian independence movement by galvanizing leaders and masses.
  • Negatives:-
  • No universal franchise was proposed.
  • The position of governor-general remained unaffected.
  • No financial devolution was proposed

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or
affecting India’s interests

5)Although the historic meet between North Korea and South Korea is full of optimism, nuclear disarmament in the present geopolitical scenario remains a distant dream. Critically analyse.(250 words)

The Hindu

Why this question

After over a decade, North and South Korea have decided to have a bilateral meeting scheduled on 27th April 2018. There are prospects for a historically first-such meting between North Korea and US. This has generated huge optimism around nuclear disarmament. However, there are many interlinked issues which decrease the positivity attached with these meetings. The issue is related to GS- syllabus under the following heading-

 

Key demand of the question

The questions wants us to evaluate the historic N Korea and S Korea meet and the discuss the scope of nuclear disarmament in the near future on behalf of any arrangement/ agreement borne out of such a meet. We have to look into all the related issues linked with nuclear disarmament and then come to a conclusion.

Directive word

Critically analyse- we have to identify all the issues related to nuclear disarmament in the present world order and discuss the scope of the inter Korean meet in achieving the anticipated objective of nuclear disarmament. We have to form our personal opinion on the given issue based on our examination.

Structure of the answer

introduce your answer by mentioning about the N. Korea and S. Korea meet and proposed meet between N Korea and US and mention the hopes associated with these meets.

Body- Divide the answer into two main parts.

In one part, discuss the scope of the inter Korean meet in achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament. Discuss why N Korea would be reluctant for nuclear disarmament.

In the other body, discuss the other associated issues and how they will impact disarmament.

e.g US-Iran nuclear deal, weapons modernization programs of various countries like US, Russia, deteriorating relations between nuclear powers etc.

Conclusion-  form a concise and balanced opinion on the issue and present it as the conclusion.

 

Background:-

  • The recent meet between north and south Korea showed there is considerable optimism that this meeting will mark the beginning of the long-awaited rapprochement in the Korean peninsula, the nuclear domain remains opaque.

World is moving towards nuclear disarmament:-

  • More than 70 years after the world witnessed the devastating power of nuclear weapons, a global treaty has been approved to ban the bombs, a move that supporters hope will lead to the eventual elimination of all nuclear arms.
  • The Iran US deal is working well.

Scope of North and South Korea cooperation and why North Korea would oppose nuclear disarmament:-

  • North Korea has often defended their nuclear program by saying their country doesn’t want to become another Libya or Iraq and is thus all the more determined to maintain its nuclear deterrent.
  • The logic of nuclear deterrence remains . Opinion polls consistently show more than 60% of South Korean citizens supporting the idea of acquiring nuclear weapons in order to counter the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.
  • While all the U.S. nuclear weapons may be long-gone from the Korean Peninsula the American nuclear umbrella over South Korea remains.
  • North and South Korea made ambitious promises for peace recently but made only a vague commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula without specifics on how that key goal would be achieved.
  • North Korea has only told it is suspending further nuclear/missile tests and shutting its test site, there has been no indication that it intends to give up its nuclear arsenal.
  • The term denuclearisation’ in relation to North Korea is being selectively approached for its semantic exactitude.
    • While the U.S. and Japan seek the equivalent of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement, South Korea appears to be prioritising the rapprochement and normalisation of inter-Korean relations even while keeping the nuclear strand on the agenda. 
    • While verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation is a desirable objective for South Korea, Japan and the U.S., it is the critical survival shield for the North Korean
  • More recent developments in relation to the Iran nuclear deal as US termed it as a bad deal have led to a darkening of the global nuclear cloud.
  • Bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia on the one hand and between the U.S. and China on the other becoming increasingly brittle. This has also affected the weapons of mass destruction domain.
  • Consequently, many of the major (nuclear-missile) arms reduction treaties and verification protocols between the U.S. and Russia that go back to the Cold War decades have become moribund
    • More specifically, both the U.S. and Russia have embarked upon major nuclear weapon modernisation programmes and the decision to resurrect the nuclear-tipped cruise missile at sea has very destabilising implications.
    • This capability had been buried given its inherently deterrence destabilising characteristics.
    • The nuclear-tipped cruise missile that can evade current missile detection systems has also been embraced enthusiastically by India and Pakistan.
  • Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons 
    • The treaty establishes no new mechanisms to encourage states with nuclear weapons to dismantle them. Instead, it seeks to delegitimise nuclear weapons as tools of statecraft on the grounds of indiscriminate humanitarian effects. 
    • None of the weapons possessors seems particularly concerned with the stigma created by the prohibition treaty.

Conclusion:-

  • The nuclear war free zone  approach could just be the Trump card that the U.S. can play to finally make progress on this long-running nuclear conundrum.

General Studies – 3


TopicIndian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

6)In order for business to truly serve the society, it is necessary to consider social costs associated with their decision-making. Examine.(250 words)

The Hindu

 

Why this question

In recent times, companies like facebook, google etc have generated a host of controversies around their functioning and ethics. Their claims of serving the society are negated by the social cost of their business decisions. The issue is important for UPSC mains exam. It is related to GS-3 syllabus under the following heading.

 

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to give reasons why considering social costs is important for business decisions. We have to justify the given statement here.

 

Directive word

Examine- we have to probe deeper into the question and find reasons/ arguments/ facts which support the given statement.

 

Structure of the answer

Introduction- introduce your answer by briefly discussing how modern businesses and companies are closely linked to our life, in various forms. E.g social media, online shopping, web search, taxi aggregators etc.

 

Body- discuss in points, why businesses should include social costs in their decision making. We have to explain the negative consequences on the of not doing so. Give as much as examples as possible to highlight the different aspects of the problem.

E.g)

  1. facebook and google for data privacy- here discuss why companies should protect data privacy and insulate its misuse by commercial operations.
  2. uber for taxi driver’s losses- here discuss how such aggregators are hurting local employment, and misusing their large capital base to disturb the competition.
  3. Google for project Maven- here discuss that a company linked to such intricate functions in everyday life of a modern citizen should not build artificial intelligence for warfare. Also discuss scope of misuse of user data for  such AI war- machines.

You can give more examples also.

Conclusion- present your conclusion in the form of suggestions for how social costs could be involved in business decision-making ( e.g better regulation, open disclosure norms, citizen driven efforts to mobilize and form public opinion etc).

Background:-

  • The recent data breach involving alleged misuse of information of Facebook users by data mining and analytics firm Cambridge Analytica has once again highlighted the need for users to treat their digital lives as their physical ones. 
  • Social costs are any cost incurred by a social enterprise above and beyond ordinary business costsin order to fulfil its mission.
  • Examples of the social cost often carried by a social enterprise are:
    • Time spent addressing employees’ personal issues,
    • Employee time spent with job counsellors
    • Employee time spent involved in support groups or other support activate
    • Increased employee turnover
  • In the technological world the combination of using personal data for avenues like shopping , banking, communicating etc shows people’s dependency on modern platforms.

Social costs need to be considered because:-

  • Facebook fiasco :- (Compromise of data privacy)
    • Individual users are increasingly viewed as legitimate targets for mining personal and metadata. Such data can provide an intimate psychological profile including ideological preferences that together help campaign managers target communications and forecast voter behaviour.
    • Data theft and identity crisis:-
      • Data of millions are taken and used when only 270,000 people knowingly or unknowingly gave consent.
    • Individuals do not have much rights over the datathey shared and personal data is considered as the new oil.
    • There are no institutional checks on fake newsand it can irrevocably damage the fabric of consensual democracy.
    • The Cambridge Analytica episode highlights the invisible yet pervasive ways in which public opinion can be shapedin a digital age and transform political destinies.
  • Google’s project Mavern:-
    • Google will help develop advanced Artificial Intelligence capabilities for military drones in US. This was largely criticised as Google platform which impacts human lives in such a drastic manner should not be associated with artificial intelligence for warfare. 
    • Scientists have warned that with advancement in AI potential abuse can come in both areas: manipulation or even alteration of the algorithm; and poisoning the data set from which the machine learns.
    • It is impossible to completely exclude the potential political misuse given the interaction between political surveillance and regulatory privacy issues.
  • Ride-sharing giant Uber has been criticised of impacting drivers adversely :
    • It is leading to lower costs per ride, drivers are forced to self-finance their cars, insurance, and whatever road-safety and occupational-health hazards they encounter on long shifts with volatile pay rates and often inconsistent ride pick-ups.
    • Drivers have to contend with no disability pay, no paid sick days, and no protection from abusive or discriminatory customers.

Lessons to be learned:-

  • Governments:-
    • India needs to have a legal framework for data protection. It will create a vital and necessary framework against which rights and responsibilities can be articulated, and digressions thereof evaluated.
    • A proper data protection law with an effective enforcement mechanism would ensure recognition for India as a trustworthy global destination for data-based businesses and privacy-conscious consumers while also protecting the Right to Privacy of the people in India.
    • Cyber law provisions need to be revised as the current approach of the Indian law is very narrow.
  • Businesses:-
    • Concept of social engineering is needed to made private developers more accountable.
    • They should repeat audits every year, if not every six months, as only full transparency will restore trust back in this system.
    • Online firms should be prohibited from using certain data or using it in such a way that harms users . There should also be stiffer penalties for hacks.
  • The consent of the users need to be mandated.Tech companies large and small must push for social responsibility as a necessary parallel to innovation.
  • Users:-
    • Users should  have the right to have their data destroyed.
    • Data collectors and users should be held more accountable for how they store and managedata, rather than simply obtaining people’s consent to do pretty much as they please. 
    • Users need to be cautious about the data they put in these social media forums and strengthen their privacy by choosing robust passwords and enabling two step verification on all important services, such as email and banking.

Conclusion:-

  • Unless India evolves appropriate policies to counter the side effects of the Digital Plan, this could also lead to the unforeseen e Colonisation of India.