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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 JULY 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 17 JULY 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-Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

1) In recent years, Indian political narrative  has witnessed a marked shift in its stance towards the values of secularism, regionalism and federalism. Comment.(250 words)

Why this question

Although the article is highly subjective (and you are completely free to take whatever stance you want to take),it offers crucial insights into the realpolitik of present India. It also helps us understand the nature of Indian society, and how it associates itself  with secularism, regionalism and federalism.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and discuss how the Indian political narrative has developed in the recent years and whether there is a  marked shift in its stance towards the values of secularism, regionalism and federalism. We have to bring out reasons/ arguments/ facts in support of our answer and according form our opinion.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an opinion thereupon. However our opinion must be backed with valid and proper arguments/ facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few lines about the constitutional status of federalism and secularism, and their role alongwith regionalism in Indian politics( how significant they have been in shaping Indian political narrative).

Body

Discuss how each of the three aspects- secularism, regionalism and federalism has shaped and in turn being shaped by the political narrative in India in recent years. E.g discuss the spurt in sporadic communal events and lack of political will to speak against/ or politicize the issue; decline in the political value of communal strategies; disaffection of Right-wing parties with the incumbent government; rising disaffection of the regional parties with the present party in power leading to regionalism; decline in the political clout of the Congress; issues affecting federalism like the terms of reference of the 15th finance commission, water disputes; special status of AP etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion form a fair and a balanced opinion on the issue.

Background :-

  • India being a big nation with huge diversity, regionalism is inevitable. Regionalism in acceptable levels produce positive results like growth and development of the region.
  • India is country of religions. There exist multifarious religious groups in the country but, in spite of this, the Constitution stands for a secular state of India. There is no official religion in India. ‘Secularism’ has been inserted in the Preamble after 42nd Amendment.
  • The constitution has divided the legislative authority via 7th schedule {Union, State, and Concurrent Lists}. The residuary powers are vested in the Central government.

How is the shift happening :-

  • Secularism:-
    • Muslims and other minorities are becoming increasingly imperiled and marginalized continued widespread communalism and communal violence in several parts of the country which lead to many deaths
    • Protests to ban cow slaughter leading to curtailment of freedom of persons to eat and restricting their freedom to carry on any profession and trade, etc.
    • Certain Political parties in India use religion and caste factors for the promotion of their political interest despite a ban on the communal electorates and use of religion for soliciting votes
  • Regionalism:-
    • The recent trends of increasing regionalism is giving out negative results and has become a threat to the national unity. The following are the ways in which regionalism is posing the integrity of nation:
      • Emergence of regional political parties as a result of secessionist tendencies. This trend is polarising citizens of the country on regional lines.
      • Its effect on legislation and executive is also evident. To maintain majority in the house, the ruling party has to form coalition with regional parties. This is leading to a situation where regional demand is portrayed as national demand.
      • International diplomacy is also affected to a great level due to weak centre and coalition government. Previous governments were forced to abstain from attending commonwealth heads meeting in Sri Lanka due to the animosity between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. 
      • Mass mobilisation for regional causes is taking violent turn. Non violent means to achieve the ends are transformed to violent means. The recent bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh saw violent agitations across the state which caused huge damage to public property. 
      • Regionalism reached that stage where it is equivalent to be an internal security threat to the country. It is causing friction among states.
        • The hostility is being established on grounds of boundary disputes, irrigation issues, etc.
        • The great dispute on sharing of Kaveri river water between states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is never ending. Recent attacks on the Tamil people in Karnataka show how relations between states effect innocent civilians. 
      • Citizen’s fundamental rights are also affected by regionalism. Migrants from one state to another state are attacked on the backdrop of regionalism. This violates the freedom to move and settle anywhere in the country.
        • Examples are present everywhere in different scales, from civilian attacks on North East state natives in the country’s capital to organised ULFA militants against Bihari and Bengali migrants. 
      • Recent demands like four fold-division of Uttar Pradesh and creation of Gorkhaland from West Bengal are instances of aggressive regionalism that pose a threat to federal structure of India.
    • Federalism:-
      • Some of the chief ministers has also been vocal in criticising the Central government for taxing the southern States to spend on the northern States. Terms of reference of the 15th finance commission have been criticised.
        • The Centre’s direction to use the 2011 Census instead of the 1971 Census for population data has riled the south. As the population in these States has stabilised, the concern is that their share of tax allocation would reduce.
      • While the flexible nature of federalism under the Constitution has served India well, the continued existence of provisions such as Article 356 (President’s rule) goes against the grain of federalism
      • States such as Karnataka have asserted their linguistic and cultural rights in the wake of the Centre’s interventions such as a promotion of Hindi.
      • The subject classification in seventh schedule has not been fair, particularly with respect to 11th and 12th schedules (local governments). The third tier of governance is totally dependent on second tier which itself is totally dependent on first tier

Way forward:-

  • There is a need of proper fiscal federalism in real sense up to grass root level. 
  • Centre-state relations should be such that centre interferes in matters of states only in unavoidable national interests. 
  • There should be a system of national education that helps to overcome regional feelings and develop an attachment towards the nation. Obviously, each has its own issues and challenges.

Conclusion :-

  • Finally, unless the concerns regarding fairness are addressed from constitutional, financial and cultural fronts, the fault lines developing in our federation could deepen further.

General Studies – 2


TopicSeparation of powers between various organs; dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

2) Sharia courts as an alternative dispute redressal mechanism, respond to the decline of the civil justice system, and address the needs of the poor. Critically analyze.(250 words)

Indian express

Why this question

AIMPLB has recently received applications to open several Darul Qazas (Sharia courts) across India. Some of these applications have been approved. The SC has also given a ruling on these courts. This makes it is an important issue to delve upon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to dig deep into the issue of shariah courts and bring out whether they are a legal and an effective alternative dispute redressal mechanism which respond to the decline of the civil justice system, and address the needs of the poor. We have to see both the advantages/ strength as well as limitations of these courts. Thereafter it wants us to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Directive word

Critically analyze- We have to dig deep into the issue and bring out the positive points/ advantages/ strengths as well as negative points/ disadvantages/ limitations. Based on our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention the historical existence and form of the shariah courts and then mention the British response of incorporating these courts followed by developments in 1817. Also mention the SC ruling on these courts and its verdict.

Body-

  • Discuss the positive aspects of the shariah courts. E.g an effective and cheap alternative dispute resolution mechanism; high compliance rates of decisions made by shariah courts; more accessible to women; speedy process etc.
  • Discuss the limitations/ negative points. E.g low representation of women; unnecessary projection of decrees as having as divine sanction; politicization of the issue.

Conclusion- form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the overall issue of shariah courts and write a few lines as to what should be done further in this regard.

Background:-

  • India’s 150 million Muslims follow their own laws governing family life and other personal issues such as marriage and divorce, with Sharia courts used to rule on such matters and mediate in disagreements.
  • The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has announced that it will establish Sharia courts in all districts of the country recently.
  • Roughly, the Shariat can be explained as the provisions in the Quran as well as the teachings and practices of Prophet Mohammad. 
  • Even the Supreme court in its landmark judgment in the Vishnu Lochan Madan case (2014) clearly stated that sharia courts are not courts because the Indian legal system does not recognise a parallel judicial system. But the court also refused to deem them unconstitutional.

Why are Sharia courts necessary:-

  • Historical reasons:-
    • Judges during the colonial times were assisted by quazis in the discharge of judicial functions. When the Quazis Act of 1880 deprived the quazis of their judicial powers, there were demands to establish sharia courts.
  • They are type of Alternative dispute redressal mechanism:-
    • Sharia courts are not courts in the strictest sense of the term but counselling or arbitration centres. They are accessible, useful, informal and voluntary institutions that provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the poor.
  • International experiences:-
    • In 2008, the UK set up five sharia courts whose rulings are enforceable with the full power of the English judicial system. Israel too enforces the orders of sharia courts as decrees of the state’s civil courts. ADR is privatisation of justice because parties not only nominate their judges but make their own laws or adopt laws of other countries.
  • Indian experiences:-
    • The sharia courts of Bihar are widely respected for putting in place elaborate procedures for the determination of issues, systematic recording of testimonies and speaking orders.
    • Some of these orders have been quoted with approval by the formal courts.
    • In Bihar, more than 60,000 cases have been amicably resolved by these courts. The cases were disposed of in less than a year’s time. There has been a steady increase over the decades in the number of cases filed with these sharia courts.
    • Very rarely is a sharia court’s decision challenged in a civil court. Such courts were subsequently established in West Bengal and Orissa.
    • Sharia courts of Lucknow and Kanpur and found that 95 per cent Muslim women used it out of their free will. 
  • Women trust them:-
    • About 100 such courts have been functional for decades. These courts provide speedy and inexpensive justice to poor women. No one can be forced to go to such courts.
    • Their orders are not binding and lack legal sanctity. However, it’s perfectly legal if all the parties concerned want to comply with their orders.
    • Unlike the khap panchayats, these courts do not deal with criminal cases and cannot forcibly enforce their orders.
    • Even the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan, which is leading the current movement for reforms in Muslim law, runs its own Sharia courts. 
  • Issues with traditional courts:-
    • In reality, traditional courts have many problems. They are often slow at their best and conduits for gross injustice at their worst. At a more fundamental level, no evidence shows that the adversarial system which judiciary follows is the best way to solve disputes.
    • Whenever parties choose arbitration rather than government courts, it demonstrates that arbitration is making both parties better off.

Criticism:-

  • It’s a de-facto way of dividing the country and creating secession. There’s only one court and one law. Constitution is guiding force and anything outside it cannot be acceptable
  • The special provision of a particular religion is always taken care by the Supreme Court and High Court and hence any other court is not needed.
  • Supreme Court had in 2014 declaredthat Shariat courts and fatwas issued by them have no legal sanctity.
  • Attempt to establish Sharia courts in India is an attempt to establish a private parallel judicial system which cannot be permitted by law.
  • There are many questions unanswered like:-
    • How AIMPLB is going to establish Sharia courts in the country
    • Under what authority will it appoint judges (qazis) and what will be their eligibility in accordance with the law that governs India
    • Under what authority will the courts summon the opposite parties and witnesses. If the other party or witnesses don’t come how will they force them to come before the Sharia court.
  • Establishment of Sharia courts is a blow to secularism which is the basic principle of our Constitution.
  • When the legally-constituted courts in India are addressing the issues of Muslim women and giving them justice through Right to Equality (Article 14), Right to Liberty (Article19) and Right to Life (Article 21) as available to women of other religions, this attempt to set up Sharia courts is a move to hamper the process.
  • There is no rule book (codified law), according to which complaints will be registered, evidence will be taken, cross-examination will be done, judgments will be cited, final arguments will be heard and justice will be delivered. 
  • Without any proper codification of rules, the qaziswill interpret the disputes in accordance to their own social, religious and cultural backgrounds, and will pronounce judgments according to their own whims and fancies.

Way forward:-

  • Each sharia court should ideally have at least one woman. Alternatively, India may have all-woman sharia courts.

Topic-Indian Polity – Issues

3) The curative petition being heard in SC in Naz Foundation 2013 case should be concerned not only with the legality of section 377 of IPC but also with rights of LGBTQ community. Analyze. (250 words)

indian express

Why this question

Section 377 is again in the news courtesy the curative petition in SC, and the opinion of the govt that it would not challenge SC verdict in this regard. Hence this question

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to trace a brief evolution of the court’s position on section 377 critical analysis of the judgment and future course of action that must be taken.

Directive word

Analyze – When asked to analyze, you  have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Trace a brief evolution of the court’s position on section 377 and discuss why this topic is in news.

Body

  • Highlight SC judgment in Naz foundation case which overturned Delhi HC’s progressive verdict
  • Examine why this judgment is a blot on the progressive trend being followed by SC
  • Examine why it is not necessary to just declare Section 377 ultra vires but also focus on the associated rights of LGBTQ community in accordance with judgement in NALSA vs UoI and Puttaswamy vs UoI
  • Discuss what rights are needed by this community

Conclusion – Mention what should be the way forward in this matter.

 

Background:-

  • Recently SC decided to reconsider the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which has been used to de-criminalise homosexuality.

What was SC position earlier and why was it discriminatory:-

  • Section 377 of the IPC refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.
  • In 2009, the Delhi High Court, passed a judgement that Section 377 indeed was violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution as it criminalised the consensual sexual acts of adults in private.
  • The latest petition requires the Supreme Court to reconsider its 2013 judgment in Suresh Kumar Kaushal versus Naz Foundationwhich upheld the legalities of Section 377. The judgment had struck down the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising homosexuality.
  • The people who filed curative petition have argued that they are affected by the judgment and since the Supreme Court has itself declared the Right to Privacy a Fundamental Right, they cannot be denied their right to sexual privacy.
  • They said that they live in fear of the police because of their natural sexual preferences. The petitioners also argued that most nations have decriminalised homosexuality and India should not lag behind on the issue.

The case needs to deal with section 377 and rights of LGBT community:-

  • NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) judgment recognized transgender as a gender identity and ruled that the community deserved immediate remedial action because of the innumerable contraventions to their right to life, liberty and equality.
  • Instead of focusing on the question of validity alone, the Court also needs to concern itself with how current laws impact the lives of the LGBTQ community.
  • The Supreme Court set a precedent with a remarkable and comprehensive 2014 judgment granting India’s transgender community the right to be recognised as a third gender category with accompanying legal rights. This judgment stands as a reminder that rights that ensure inclusiveness, equality, and freedom are the fundamental values of this republic.
  • SC judgment in Puttuswamy case :-
    • It terms the rights of India’s sexual minorities as those founded on sound constitutional doctrine effectively making Section 377 unsustainable. In principle, it maintains that sexual orientation must be protected and lies at the heart of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15 and 21.
  • Instead of merely considering the petition as a narrow legal matter, the court should examine the issue from the perspective of an institution that is committed towards ensuring equality for all.
    • Without these rights, sexual minorities will continue to face unequal treatment, abuse, discrimination in workplaces and housing, violence, and denial of recognition.
  • The Court should also consider closely the fact that individual dignity and freedom cannot be achieved without equal rights. Failure to use a rights-based approach also has serious social repercussions.
  • There is sufficient evidence to show that suicide rates are higher among sexual minorities. Moreover, this lack of rights and protections feeds a homophobic culture that over emphasises and empowers patriarchy and masculinity.
  • Health:-
    • Public health evidence also indicates a clear relationship of a lack of social acceptance and legal rights with substance abuse, violence, isolation, and mental illness. Finally, a rights-based framework is intricately tied up with India’s quest for social and economic development.

Conclusion:-

India’s sexual minorities need not only decriminalisation but rights and protections that help them build productive lives and relationships irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation. They need an anti-discrimination law that empowers them and places the onus on the state and society to change. 

 


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

4) Discuss what do you mean by “constitutional renaissance” and how is it relevant in the present political discourse?(250 words)

Indian express

The hindu

Why this question

In recent several debates have raged over several provisions of the constitution such as Article 370, article 44 etc. Understanding constitutional renaissance is important to resolve such debated happening due to fractious polity.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what constitutional renaissance, explain why it is necessary to be understood due to several debates that have been taking place over the interpretation of the constitution, and how exactly can this doctrine be applied by policy makers to frame more effective laws, policies, regulations etc which are in tune with the directive of the constitution.

Directive word

Discuss – Here in your discussion you need to explain the court’s position on words like constitutional renaissance, associated terms like constitutional morality, purposive interpretation etc and how they are relevant in the present climate.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Examine some of the recent conflicts in interpretation of the constitution such as Article 370, Article 239 AA etc

Body

  • Discuss what is meant by constitutional renaissance – constant awakening as regards the text, context, perspective, purpose, and the rule of law”, an awakening that makes space for a “resurgent constitutionalism” and “allows no room for absolutism” nor any “space for anarchy
  • Examine its implication for the polity – fidelity to the vision, spirit and letter of the Constitution is the supreme obligation of all constitutional beings.
  • Highlight why and how this norm is being flouted in the current discourse and how such debates can be resolved if we stay true to the ideals explicit and implicit in our constitution

Conclusion – Mention why in a constitutional democracy , constitution reigns supreme and how we need to change current practices to ensure better functioning.

Background :-

  • Recently there have been conflicts regarding the constitutional provisions like article 370, article 44,article 239 AA etc.

Constitutional renaissance :-

  • A constant awakening as regards the text, context, perspective, purpose, and the rule of law, an awakening that makes space for a resurgent constitutionalism and allows no room for absolutism nor any space for anarchy. 
  • Reverence for the Constitution is the essential first step towards constitutional renaissance. 
  • This awakening is a constant process. Renaissance has a beginning but knows no end because everyday fidelity to the vision, spirit and letter of the Constitution is the supreme obligation of all constitutional beings.

Relevance:-

  • Constitutional renaissance is necessary especially in the recent times there have been statements by representatives of the people about subverting the constitution.
  • There have been many instances for subverting the provisions of the constitution but the solutions lie in these provisions itself as Indian constitution is one of the finest in the world.
  • Also legislature can take measures to uphold the implicit constitutional provisions like ensuring safety to women, ensuring tolerance in society etc.
  • Similarly executive need to play its role by implementing the laws in public interest. For instance right to life with dignity implicitly provides for availability of food to the poor.
  • Judiciary through the interpretation of constitutional laws can ensure renaissance of the constitution for instance judgments like Vishaka, Puttuswamy judgment, NALSA etc the constitutional intent is revived.
  • The paradox lies in the fact that discourse of constitutional renaissance co-exists with that of subversion of the Constitution. The recent developments in India suggest that constitutional renaissance in the true sense of the term can be the call of popular movements for justice.

Topic: part of static series under the heading – “Various instruments to exercise parliamentary control over executive”

5) Examine the various ways in which parliament exercises control over the executive?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to describe the various areas in which parliament exercises control, and the mechanism of such control.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention that parliament is the apex body in a democracy, represents will of the people and exercises control over executive.

Body

  • Discuss the areas in which parliament exercises control over executive – administrative, legislative, financial, representative, collective and individual responsibility
  • Examine the various tools at parliament’s disposal to exercise such control – question hour, motions and resolutions etc
  • Discuss the impact of such tools

Conclusion – explain the relationship between parliament and executive and why is it necessary for parliament to exercise control over executive.

 

Background:-

  • Through its oversight function, Parliament holds the government accountable and ensures that policies are efficient and in keeping with the needs of citizens. In addition, parliamentary oversight is essential to prevent arbitrary and unconstitutional action by the government.

The way parliament exercises control over executive are :-

  • Accountability on the floor of the House
    • Question Hour
      • Question Hour allows Members of Parliament (MPs)to pose questions to ministers relating to government policies, and hold the government accountable for its actions.  Question Hour functioned for an average of 42% of its scheduled time, largely as a result of disruptions.
      • When Question Hour is disrupted, it is not made up by extending the scheduled time for the sitting or through meeting on additional days. Recently, in order to reduce disruptions, Rajya Sabha moved Question Hour from the first hour of sitting to the second hour of sitting.
    • Debates and motions
      • Debates and motions play a central role in parliament’s oversight function by allowing MPs to initiate discussions and seek clarifications on government policies.
      • In the past, MPs have raised issues such as price rise , improvement of infrastructure in backward areas, to the provision of welfare schemes for vulnerable communities through debates.
      • Motions: motions allow for voting at the end of the discussion. There are three types of motions which assist in the oversight function of the Parliament: No Confidence Motions, Adjournment Motions, and Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha (corresponding to Rule 167 in the Rajya Sabha). The first two can only be moved in the Lok Sabha.
    • Zero Hour
      • The hour following Question Hour is popularly called Zero Hour and is used by MPs to raise urgent matters.
      • Typically, MPs use this time to make statements on urgent issues using Rule 377/Special Mention. This time is also used for laying papers such as annual reports of government institutions, CAG reports, etc.
      • Recently, Rajya Sabha has decided to start the day with Zero Hour, followed by Question Hour.
    • Parliamentary committees which scrutinize government policies :-
      • Given the large number of issues which Parliament must address, parliamentary committees, comprising MPs, examine Bills, budgets of ministries, and policies of the government. Committees allow for more informed debate in Parliament, and they also provide an avenue for citizens to engage with Parliament. Committees can either be permanent or appointed temporarily.
      • Ordinances, proclamation of emergency etc can be done only when parliament ratifies showing the parliamentary oversight on the executive.
    • Administrative Control: 
      • Generally, Parliament does not interfere in administrative matters but if any policy is formed in wrong way, Parliament may ask for explanations.
    • Legislative Control: 
      • While enacting any law in Parliament, the Government needs to explain its all provisions and answer questions asked by the MPs. Thus, it does not allow the executive to enact any arbitrary acts.
    • Financial Control: 
      • The Government is required to pass budget and financial bill in both the Houses. Parliament does not allow the Government to expense unnecessarily. The Government cannot withdraw any amount of money from the consolidates fund without Parliamentary authority.
    • Representative Control:
      • MPs represents different sections of people. They ask questions to the executives as representatives and thus they save the interest of their people through representation.
    • Collective and Individual Responsibility: 
      • The whole council of ministers in answerable to Lok Sabha for any step taken by any of the minister. Even the minister is answerable individually to the Lok Sabha for steps taken by his ministry. If Lok Sabha does not approve the act of the minister. The whole cabinet has to resign, because of collective responsibility.

Concerns:-

  • Ordinances have become the preferred means of introducing legislative enactments that successive governments from every shade of political opinion have made liberal use of this mechanism. So this needs to be under check unless absolutely necessary
  • The passing of bill as a money bill is the one of the executive’s action to bypass Rajya sabha effectively making the bicameral legislature as unicameral. The recent case of introduction of bill related to Aadhar Card is a proof of it. Appointing parliamentary secretaries to assist council of ministers is another case. Thus, the parliamentary secretaries being legislators may not finely balance the role of a legislator and assisting the executive. These need to be avoided.
  • Limits on the number of parliamentary sittings has allowed the executive to avoid demonetisation-related queries, undermining the legislature’s power. Last year’s winter session is for 22 days

How to strengthen the oversight?

  • Allowing Parliament to convene itself
    • Currently, Parliament does not have the power to convene itself. The Constitution mandates that Parliament be convened by the President at least once every six months. In this context, granting Parliament the power to convene at the request of a required number of MPs may allow Parliament to address issues more promptly, even during inter session period. However, this requires a constitutional amendment.
  • Strengthening the role of the opposition
    • Within the institution of Parliament, the opposition can play a central role in monitoring the government and holding it accountable. Opposition parties could play a greater role in deciding the daily agenda of Parliament, or alternatively, time could be set aside each week for opposition parties to set the agenda.
    • Internationally, the UK allows the opposition party to determine the agenda for 20 days of each session of Parliament, and Canada for 22 days.This practice could strengthen the ability of the opposition to hold the government accountable, through allowing for greater specialisation in tracking the government.
  • Revising certain rules of procedure of Parliament related to debates
    • Increasing accountability in Question Hour:
      • At present, the Prime Minister is only required to answer questions that pertain to ministries allocated to him. The UK has a Prime Minister’s Question Time during which the Prime Minister answers question on the government’s policies, across sectors. India can look into this suggestion
    • Strengthening discussions:
      • Currently, the Speaker/Chairman can determine whether to admit a discussion as a debate or a motion. In practice, there is often disagreement between the government and the opposition on the rule under which a discussion is conducted, as motions are put to vote. An alternative practice could be to allow a sufficiently large group of MPs to decide whether an issue should be introduced as a voting motion, or alternatively a debate.
    • Examination of reports
      • Given that a range of parliamentary committee reports are presented in Parliament, institutional mechanisms may be developed to highlight issues raised in these reports.

Conclusion:-

  • Parliament should be a space for policy and not for politics. India needs to undertake reforms to ensure that it is recast as such by ensuring a more robust public representatives  

General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

6) In order to double the farmers income, India should encourage smallholding farmers to boost investment in their farms. Discuss.(250 words)

Economictimes

Reference

Why this question

Doubling the farmers’ income in India by 2022 is one of the top priorities of the present government. However, it is not an easy task, given the plethora of challenges faced by agriculture sector. One of the challenges faced by Indian agriculture today is the lack of investment. It is essential to study why and how smallholding farming families be encouraged  to invest in their farms.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about how and why India should encourage farming families to boost investment in their farms. We have to bring out the reasons as to why such a response is required and how to do the same.

Directive word

Discuss- This is an all-encompassing directive which directs us to dig deep into the issue and write at length about key demand of the question in detail along with all relevant and important aspects, in order to bring a complete picture of the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about India’s objective to double farmers’ income and the imperative to invest in agricultural production,  transport, marketing, warehouses and food processing etc.. Mention that the ministry of agriculture estimates that to double farmer incomes by 2022-23, private investment in agriculture must jump two times to almost Rs 1,40,000 crore.

Body

  • Discuss why smallholding farmers need to be encouraged invest in their farms. E.g Smallholders (with up to 2 hectares of land) run 85% of the total farms in India and own more than 50% of the livestock; due to the low productivity, low production and lack of market incentives, families receive no commensurate return. So, smallholders have, on an average, less than 10% share of the total private investment in farming.; Assured buying, and export demand in some years, stimulated investment in some crops; eagerness to invest in technology based solutions etc.
  • Discuss the strategy as to how farming families can be encouraged  to invest in their farms. E.g by encouraging the entrepreneurial energies/ efforts of small farm holders, which form the vast majority of farmers in India; States must similarly develop and defend agricultural markets that work for smallholders by reducing transaction costs and counterparty risks, and raising price discovery, price transparency and bargaining power.; Strong public extension services; enhanced credit disbursal complemented with proper guidance and policies, etc.

Conclusion– Sum up your discussion in a few lines to form a fair and a balanced conclusion.

Background:-

  • Agriculture, which contributes 17 percent to the $2.3-trillion economy, has remained relatively untouched by reforms with growth rates averaging below three percent over as many decades.
  • Lack of technology, inefficient markets and small landholdings have worsened challenges.
  • The ministry of agriculture estimates that to double farmer incomes by 2022-23, private investment in agriculture must jump two times to almost Rs 1,40,000 crore.
  • Private investments refer to investments made by farmers themselves, inclusive of their own savings and borrowings from institutional and non-institutional sources.

Advantages of encouraging small holding farmers to boost investment in their farms:-

  • This unleashes the entrepreneurial energies of the smallholder farmer, especially those already thinking commercially and sell at least a third of their crop. Such smallholders collectively possess the highest latent energy for moving the needle on agricultural growth.
    • High growth in agriculture springs ultimately from the convergence of profits, knowledge and power in the hands of smallholder commercial farmers.
    • Despite poverty and neglect, they see themselves as entrepreneurs, willing to try new crops, cultivars, livestock and alternative technologies to increase productivity, diversify production, reduce risk and increase profits.
    • It is time to tap into this entrepreneurial energy by creating, and enabling, opportunities for them to invest in a bright future.
  • Smallholders (with up to 2 hectares of land) run 85% of the total farms in India and own more than 50% of the livestock.
  • They are highly cognisant of the need to invest. In Odisha, where 92% are smallholders, each farming family spent on average Rs 1,142 a month on crop production,
  • Due to the low productivity, low production and lack of market incentives, families receive no commensurate return. So, smallholders have, on an average, less than 10% share of the total private investment in farming.
  • Profitability:-
  • Assured buying, and export demand in some years, stimulated investment in wheat, rice, cotton, mentha, guar, a few pulses and sugarcane.
  • Since smallholders till mainly leased land with uncertain and informal tenure, they have little incentive to take long-term capital loans for investments, such as micro-irrigation, which mitigate risk.
  • Smallholders have always been excited about technology. The adoption of hybrid maize by Bihar’s smallholders, hybrid vegetables in Maharashtra, solarpower pumps in Gujarat, for instance, demonstrate their eagerness to optimise profitability and de-risk income when terms of trade turn positive.
  • Strong public extension services can raise returns on this investment. Next comes capital. Nearly 86% of farm investment depends on loans.
  • Smallholders borrow nearly half of their loans from moneylenders, traders and input dealers. Repaying debt is a far more compelling consideration than buying machinery. Deliberate efforts towards financial inclusion, and emphasis on long-term capital, could kick-start the virtuous cycle. Above all, smallholder farming is directly energised by public investment.
  • Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK) is a collective of 4,500 farmers .They have shown that their farming is Small scale, innovative, market-embracing and sustainable.  FTAK has ensured that local market prices never fall below a certain benchmark.

Way forward:-

  • India should relax rules for companies investing in contract farming, transport, marketing, warehouses and food processing,
  • India’s farms should become outsourcing hubs for global supermarket chains.
  • For any improvement in farmers’ income, private corporate investments in farming should at least double from the current 2 percent of total annual investments in agriculture
    • Once the ecosystem for enabling agriculture growth strengthens, the corporate sector, with a 2% current share in the overall investment, will venture closer to the bottom of the pyramid, offering smallholders linkages to technology, services and competitive markets.
  • Markets require the ‘visible hand’ to protect small participants so that they have agency. States must similarly develop and defend agricultural markets that work for smallholders by reducing transaction costs and counterparty risks, and raising price discovery, price transparency and bargaining power.
  • Suitably modified land-leasing laws can encourage investments in land improvement. Likewise, investment in dairy and poultry will increase by the incentives from integration into tight value chains
  • States must similarly develop and defend agricultural markets that work for smallholders by reducing transaction costs and counterparty risks, and raising price discovery, price transparency and bargaining power, strong public extension services, enhanced credit disbursal complemented with proper guidance and policies, etc.
  • The government on its part needs to aggressively pursue innovative agriculture development programs by liberalizing markets, inviting private capital, reinventing agricultural extension, improving roads and other infrastructure.
    • Institutional innovations in input services, land water management and output marketing for marginal and small farmers need to brought into practice.
    • The government also needs to improve and take actions that support agricultural transformation, education, infrastructure, macro policies, doing business, equitable asset distribution and, rural non-farm sector development.
    • Rural infrastructure will also enable small and marginal farmers to compete with other farmers in India as well as in other countries.
  • While each state-level partnership follows a unique model, they share similar guiding principles, which have been developed and validated by countries around the world. These are:
    • Locally owned and aligned with the state’s goals and priorities for the sector.
    • Market-driven with projects led by the private sector and rooted in viable business models.
    • Multistakeholder in their approach, with open and inclusive engagement that includes all relevant stakeholders.
    • Holistic, integrating full value chains that benefit all actors in the food system.
    • Supported by an international network that offers solidarity, connection and resources.

Conclusion:-

  • The future of sustainable agriculture growth and food security of the nation depends on the performance of these small and marginal farmers.

 


General Studies – 4


Topic– Case studies on ethics.

7) One of the partners from an accounting firm, goes to one of the computer technicians, and recommends him to go to one of their clients from the firm and installs a computer program with one of the licenses from the firm. The technician tells the partner that he cannot install the program, because it is illegal to install programs in other computers without the right licensing. The technician also recommended that it would be better for the client to buy the license and that he would install the program for his company. His boss answered that he is one of the most important clients in the office and that the client wasn’t interested in buying the program. Nevertheless, he promised that they would install the program, and that he shouldn’t worry because he would make himself responsible.

What are the possible solutions available to the technician and what should he do?(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question.

The question is an example of a typical problem concerning ethics, that we encounter in our everyday life. Its main purpose is to test our ability to identify the key ethical issues involved in the question and form a practical yet  ethical opinion as to what should be done in this regard.

Structure of the answer

  1. Discuss in points the possible alternative solutions available in this situation. E.g installing the software; not installing the software; installing as well as informing all the stakeholders etc.
  2. Discuss the ethical, legal and professional implications of each of the decisions/ solutions.
  3. Based on your discussion, form a personal opinion as to what should be done in this regard.

 

Answer :-

The above case study deals with the employee facing the ethical dilemma whether to follow his employer’s orders or do the job ethically.

The possible options available to the computer technician are :-

The computer technician can follow his superior’s orders and install the program for the client’s company. This would ensure the job of the technician is not lost and as the employer itself has already told the technician that he would take responsibility if any thing goes wrong so he can install the software freely without any liability.

 

The computer technician can reject his superior’s orders and act ethically by rejecting it. He can make the employer understand the consequences of the move adversely. Even when the employer does not listen then he might reject the order.

 

It would be unethical for the technician to install the software. The technician is being asked to install the software on someone else’s computer, not the computer of the technician’s company. Were it the computer of the technician’s company, the technician could claim that he or she is only following orders for partner’s responsibility. But assuming the software has the customary non transferability clause, meaning the holder of the license cannot extend the license to others, the partner is not only creating liability for the technician but for the client, as well. The partner cannot make himself responsible for doing something that the client is liable for.

As with most property cases this one touches on fairly well developed legal notions. The ethical thing for the technician to do is also the legally correct thing to do: to refuse to carry out the instructions. As a practical matter, the technician probably has to weigh the extent and role of corruption in the situation, the consequences for refusal, and the protections for people who do the right thing. Ethics is not about always doing the right thing, but about being able to know the difference between right and wrong.