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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 JULY 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 30 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 – 2


Topic– mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

1) The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018 renders India a timid follower of a failed carceral approach to trafficking, based on a prosecution-driven raid–rescue–rehabilitation model. Critically examine. (250 words)

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Why this question

The article provides a very organised critical analysis in great depth on one of the important Bills introduced in Parliament – Trafficking of persons Bill. Hence this question is important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to analyze the provisions of the aforementioned Bill and discuss whether it would help in eliminating the growing problem of human trafficking, or whether it marks a business as usual approach that would have limited effectiveness in dealing with this menace.

Directive word

Critically 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give status quo of the problem of human trafficking by giving data on human trafficking.

Body

  • Give features of the Bill such as National Anti Trafficking bureau, its function of surveillance, coordination etc; focus on protection and rehabilitation, search and rescue etc
  • Discuss the positives of the Bill – how it aims to check the increasing incidence of human trafficking. It basically strengthens the surveillance mechanism, enhances penalty, focusses on earlier stick approach utilized in combating trafficking
  • Discuss the shortcomings of the Bill – ignores socio economic realities of trafficked persons, not in tune with the international shift in strategy, scant attention to bonded labourers etc

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view and discuss way forward. Mention that trafficking is a structural problem, with extensive implications on the social, economic, and organisational fabric of our societies. A variety of reasons such as deepening poverty, deteriorating living conditions, persistent unemployment, human deprivation, and hopelessness promote human trafficking, and till the time we aim to combat these basic social problems, the structural cycle promoting human trafficking will continue to exist.

Background:-

  • Anti-human trafficking Bill aims to solve the massive problem of trafficking, and the move was long overdue in India. According to the Global Slavery Index 2016 published by an Australian rights group, more than 18 million people in India are living in conditions of modern slavery.
  • According to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), more than 8,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016. More than half the victims i.e.., 54 percent were trafficked for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploitation.

 Features of the Bill:-

  • Multiple dimensions of trafficking included:-
    • Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical and substance on a person for early sexual maturity. The Bill also includes trafficking for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.
  • Victim protection:-
    • The anti-trafficking Bill aims at maintaining the confidentiality of the victim/witness and the complainant. This helps in trans-border and inter-state rescue operations.
    • The Bill proposes to provide time-bound trial and repatriation of victims. It seeks to provide help within a period of one year.
    • Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of chargesheet.
  • Rehabilitation fund:-
    • A rehabilitation fund would be created for the first time. Rehabilitation would not be based on criminal proceedings initiated against the criminal.
  • Institutional mechanisms:-
    • The Bill aims to have designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of cases.
    • The anti-trafficking Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at the district, state and central levels. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the task of international coordination.
    • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will also perform the task of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person:-
    • Which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
    • The new law also seeks to make way for punishment of three years for a person found to be promoting or facilitating trafficking.
    • Punishmentranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh in cases of “aggravated” crimes
    • In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.

How this bill will solve the issue of trafficking:-

  • Trafficking of Persons Bill aims to look at making India a leader among South Asian nations in combatting human trafficking. It addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of prevention, protection and rehabilitation.
  • More importantly, it creates a distinction between the trafficker and the trafficked, ensuring victims are not wrongfully detained.
  • The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children. The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. 
  • The bill addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation(first to address the issue of victim rehabilitation).
    • Setting up of one or more special homes in each district for the purpose of providing long-term institutional supportfor the rehabilitation of victims is another feature of the Bill.
  • Unlike the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code, the new Bill takes a holistic view and aims to prevent traffickingfor forced labour, beggary and organ transplant, among many others.
  • The Bill also provides for designated courts in each districtfor time-bound trial and repatriation of victims within a period of one year from taking into cognizance. This is welcome move.
  • The Bill also provides for seizing of property located in foreign landswhich is a good effort to deal with such crimes.
  • It is gender-neutral and covers transgender persons.
  • It doesn’t criminalise the victims, but instead provides them with shelter, compensation, and counselling.
  • The Bill also relies on Article 21 of the Constitution, guaranteeing that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
  • The Bill takes note of the fact that India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crimeand its three Optional Protocols, including the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

Criticism:-

  • Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation is left out:-
    • Sex trafficking is one such issue. Even as the number of victims of sex trafficking was as high as 16 million, the Bill does not mention the word ‘sexual exploitation’ or ‘prostitution’ anywhere.
  • Bill neither has any punishment for customers or clients nor does it have a provision to prevent the trafficking of marginalised girls and women.
  • Budget constraints:-
    • The Bill argues to prevent trafficking from the point of prevention, protection and rehabilitation. But it has has no earmarked budget to provide shelter, food, clothing and legal protection to girls and youth of backward classes who are most vulnerable to trafficking.
  • Vulnerability is a big concern:-
    • It has failed to remove Section 8 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) under which women are punished for soliciting in a public place for no fault of their own. The reality is that they are vulnerable because they are hungry, homeless, and unskilled.
  • Legal Vacuum
    • The Bill also proposes to set up special courts for prosecution of offenders. But a similar plan was proposed after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, and the courts have not been functioning as effectively as they were deemed to. Further, the Nirbhaya Fund has also been fairly under-utilised.
  • Missing children not mentioned:-
    • The anti-trafficking Bill does not mention missing children anywhere. However, the NCRB data on missing children is startling. In the year 2016, around 2.90 lakh children were reportedly missing, of whom more than 50 percent are girls. A large number of them are drawn into trafficking.
  • Will be a setback for already marginalised groups, including bonded labourers, child labourers, migrant workers, sex workers etc.
  • The Bill also speaks of repatriation but fails to mention the psycho-socio and economic rehabilitation of the victim.
  • National investigation agency is an understaffed organisation,that is already tackling the gigantic footprint of terrorism across the subcontinent and there are doubts whether it might be in a position to take on and investigate cases of human trafficking.
  • According to experts most of the trafficking is taking place in small towns so focus should be on policing and not NIA.

Suggested amendments that are needed:-

  • Improving Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code’s definition of trafficking of persons. The definition should be based on the UN Protocol that addresses the issue of vulnerability.
  • Prohibiting the purchase of sex and servitude. If the buyers of sex are not punished then the supply will never stop. This industry is a highly demand-driven industry; thus, to solve the problem, even buyers of sex workers should be punished.
  • Section 8 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 criminalises women who are made to stand in public spaces by the traffickers. These women should be treated as victims and not offenders
  • The government must refer the Bill to a standing committee for comprehensive consultations with Indian trade unions and workers groups.

Topic– Part of static series under the heading – “Electoral reforms since independence”

2)State Funding of Election was recommended by Indrajit Gupta Committee. Discuss whether SFoE will help resolve corruption in elections?(250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the recommendation of Indrajit Gupta Committee regarding SFoE  , analyze its pros and cons and give our view on the prudence of this suggestion.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Mention that SFoE has often been suggested to check corruption in elections, but there are several layers to the problem.

Body

  • Discuss the recommendation of the committee along with the checks suggested by the committee.
  • Examine the advantages as envisaged by the committee as well as the support provided by LCI – Total state funding of elections is “desirable” so long as political parties are prohibited from taking funds from other sources. The Commission concurred with the Indrajit Gupta Committee stand on partial funding with the rider that Appropriate regulatory framework be put in place with regard to political parties
  • Examine the problem with SFoE such as those highlighted by EC, 2nd ARC, lack of focus accorded by 2015 LCI Report (supported the current system of indirect in kind subsidies). Highlight the problems highlighted by these committees in implementation of SFoE

Conclusion – give your view on desirability of SFoE to check corruption in Indian elections.

Background:-

  • State funding of elections has been suggested in the past in response to the high cost of elections and as a measure against corruption in the electoral process. Many of the government panels on electoral reforms have expressed their ideas on the issue.
  • The Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections had endorsed partial state funding of recognised political parties and their candidates in elections way back in 1998.
    • This committee endorsed Partial state fundingof elections with some limitations given below.
    • State funds should be given only to national and state parties allotted a symbol and not to independent candidates.
    • In the short-term state funding should only be given in kind, in the form of certain facilities to the recognised political parties and their candidates.
    • The state funding depends upon the economic condition of the country. At the time of report (1998) the economic situation of the country only suited partial and not full state funding of elections.
    • Thus, as per this committee, only partial state funding was possible given the economic conditions of the country at that time.

Meaning of State funding of elections :-

  • This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections. Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean. In some countries, state funding is extended to meeting some specific forms of spending by political parties, not confined to electioneering alone.

State funding of elections is necessary:-

  • Domination of corporate donations:-
    • Corporate donations constitute the main source of election funding in India which is mostly awash with black money, with business and corporate donations to political parties commonly taking this form. The public disclosure system that exists is limited. 
  • State funding is followed in multiple countries:-
    • India’s privately funded election campaign stands in contrast to the trend in most countries, which have partial or full public funding or transparent regulation and financial accountability of political finance as in the U.S.
  • Corruption exists in the present funding system:-
    • Corruption in election finance and the flawed party funding system drive political parties to misuse government’s discretionary powers to raise funds for election campaigns. 
    • Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  • Electoral bonds also failed:-
    • All donations given to a party will be accounted for in the balance sheets but without exposing the donor details to the public.
    • Electoral bonds cannot address the problems that arise from the corporate control over politics and corporate capture of government policies and decisions.
  • Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  • Increases transparency:-
    • Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  • If parties and candidates are financed with only private funds, economical inequalities in the society might translate into political inequalities in government.
  • Resourceful:-
    • In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates.
    • If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

Issues with state funding of elections:-

  • Experience from different countries:-
    • The experience over a period of time in some of the countries like Italy, Finland, Spain, Austria and Israel did not show that the public funding had reduced the election expenditure of political parties.
  • The principal point against the State subvention to political parties was that a political party was a free association of citizens for political purposes and it should be able to demonstrate its independent viability including its financial viability.
  • Complete State Funding is not feasible
    • State Funding of elections depends on economic condition of the country. Currently, India’s economy does not suit to state complete funding.
  • State funding may succeed only when it is total and not partial, because there is no guarantee that even after it was introduced, rich parties and candidates would not pump black money into campaigns to boost their chances of victory. Partial funding leaves scope for the party to use its funds for campaigns of individual candidates would fail to prevent the use of black money.
  • State funding would also result in increased capacity of the political parties to spend on election campaigns making the elections even more costly. It would even encourage the mushrooming growth of parties as such grants would be a great incentive for even non-serious and frivolous organizations to call themselves as political outfits.
  • From various experiences, it is clear that the State funding has neither cleaned the corruption, nor freed the political parties of their financial burden. With mounting expenditure on the Central and State Governments, State funding would be an additional financial burden on them.

Way forward:-

  • Recommendations of Tarkunde committee :-
    • Certain facilities be made available to every constituency at government expense like giving printed cards with the registered number of voters and the polling booths where they may cast their vote, making available school rooms and halls for meetings, sending one communication to each voter free of postage and so on.
  • A strong Lokpal has to be in place to ensure that corruption is reported and redressed. This will instil fear among prospective candidates who will no longer see their election as a money-making opportunity.
  • Without favourable economy and without key reforms in other areas such as decriminalization of politics, introduction of inner party democracy, electoral finance reform, transparency and audit mechanisms and stricter implementation of anti-corruption laws, there is no point moving towards state funding of elections.
  • Government should consider state funding of political parties contesting elections. But such funding should be limited to parties recognised as ‘national’ or ‘State’ by the Election Commission of India, and to candidates directly fielded by such recognised parties.
  • Separate Election Fund with an annual contribution of some Rs 600 crore by the Centre and a matching amount by all States put together should be created. Only those parties which have submitted their income tax returns up to the previous financial year could avail of state funding.
  • Every candidate of the party eligible for state funding should be given a specified quantity of fuel for vehicles during an election campaign and a specified quantity of paper to prepare electoral literature.

Topic – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

3)What do you understand by Local Health Traditions (LHTs). An analysis of India’s public policy demonstrates ambiguity and inconsistency around the ultimate rationale for LHTs . Comment.(250 words) 

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Why this question

LHTs form a huge, but largely informal sources of healthcare in the country. Rise of modern healthcare practices has essentially undermined their role as well as importance. However, given the imperative to improve India’s healthcare delivery, LHTs need to be refined and further developed.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to simply bring out the meaning and scope of LHTs. It then wants us to express our opinion on whether Indian policies have been suffering from ambiguity and inconsistency around the ultimate rationale for LHTs.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon. Our opinion has to be supported by valid and a proper discussion around the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a simple and a comprehensive definition of LHTs.

Body.

  • Discuss the strengths and limitations of LHTs. E.g rich in knowledge vs lack of systemic knowledge; local knowledge complementary to local resources vs lack of data on effectiveness and safety; use of traditional and organic materials for treatment vs lack of quality guidelines, standards etc; less skills required so easier to train people vs low policy priority attached etc.
  • Discuss the evolution of policy responses of India towards LHTs. E.g discuss the importance of LHTs before independence; how they were treated during subsequent periods and the discuss the recent initiatives by the government in this regard. Take the help of the article attached to the question to frame your answer.
  • Discuss the need to systematize, organize and refine and further develop LHTs as an alternative and low cost treatment and health management solutions. Discuss how they can complement the present healthcare system mired in human resource deficit, high cost treatment and elaborate medications further motivated by private profits amid growing corporatization etc.

Conclusion– bring out a fair and a balanced conclusion on the issue and suggest a way forward.

Background :-

  • It has been estimated that over 80% of the world’s population depends on traditional healing systems as their primary source of care.

Local health traditions :-

  • Traditional medicine consists of codified and non-codified streams of knowledge. In India, the codified stream comprises of the official AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Swa-Rigpa and Homeopathy) systems while the non-codified stream comprises of the collective knowledge, practices and beliefs of communities in relation to health that are culture and region specific and has been sustained through oral transmission across generations. This is referred to as Local Health Traditions (LHT). 
  • Revitalization of LHTs and mainstreaming of AYUSH’ has been outlined as one of the goals of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) without any corollary significant policy action towards actual translation on the ground.
  • Many LHT are experience based, where training is based on practice and observation rather than textbook or school learning.
  • LHTS are locally relevant and appropriate in a resource-strained system providing remedies within the vicinity.
  • Less skill is required so it is easier to train people.
  • Local knowledge is complementary to the local resources obtained.

Issues :-

  • While there has been a resurgence of policy interest in traditional health knowledge, particularly indigenous forms of knowledge as LHTs, there does not seem to be a coherent vision of such resurgence. 
  • Haad vaids like pacchamarundhu and parramparika Siddha vaidyars are primary healthcare providers. They have been part of the public health system across the country, yet they operate on the margins as a subaltern practice because of regulations by the Indian medical boards. This is primarily due to state neglect of LHT and increased investments in western biomedicine.
  • LHT is outside the strict legitimacy boundary for the state.
  • The compulsory state professionalisation of medicine has pushed LHTs on the margins. Those belonging to this marginal space practise esoterically. There is an urgent need to formalise LHTS within the health system.
  • There is no concrete data on their effectiveness and safety.

Way forward:-

  • The current slogan of policy documents on revitalisation of LHTS need to take these traditions vibrant nature into account and not literal impositions of standards and practices alien to such traditions.

General Studies – 3


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

4)External commercial borrowings have emerged in the past few years as one of the instruments preferred by Indian companies to raise debt, which comes with its own caveats. Critically analyze.(250 words)

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Reference

Reference

Reference

Why this question

In India, foreign currency borrowing has grown sevenfold, from $20 billion in 2004 to $140 billion in 2014. This has generated concerns about several systemic risks, which need to be discussed in detail.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to Dig deep into the issue of ECB and discuss the need for ECBs, their advantages as well as disadvantages. We have to form an opinion on the overall issue after considering all its important and related aspects.

Directive word

Critically analyze- Here we have to dig deep into the issue and identify and discuss about all the related and important aspects and correlate them to satisfy the key demand of the question. Based on our discussion, we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few lines about the meaning of ECB; its forms and present some statistics highlighting that ECBs have grown at a very fast rate in India.

Body-

  • Discuss the advantages of ECB. E.g tax shield; The cost of funds is usually cheaper from external sources if borrowed from economies with a lower rate of interest; financial leverage; sparing of domestic credit facilities; does not dilute the value of shareholders’ equity by adding to the number of shares outstanding; it is a way of raising capital without giving away any control etc.
  • Discuss the disadvantages of ECB. E.g moral hazard- define and explain it; currency mismatch which can lead to financial crisis; bigger firms have higher chances of getting ECBs while smaller firms have less chances; spill-over effect on the economy especially the exports sector, due to sharp depreciation of INR etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a personal opinion on the issue and suggest a way-forward. E.g mention and reiterate the recommendations of Sahoo Committee, 2013 ; need for adequate hedging; Masala bonds etc.

 

Background:-

  • An external commercial borrowing (ECB) is an instrument used in India to facilitate Indian companies to raise money outside the country in foreign currency
  • External commercial borrowings (ECBs) have emerged as one of the chief conduits for strengthening the Indian corporate debt market.
  • Most of the Indian foreign debt is mainly owned by the private corporate sector, exposing the economy to a higher risk in case of a default. As of 2016, the top two components of external debt had been commercial borrowings (37.3%) and non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits (26.1%) 

External commercial borrowings:-

  • The chief purpose for accessing funds through ECBs has evolved over time, with refinancing being the primary reason in the recent past 
  • Benefits:
    • The cost of funds is usually cheaper from external sourcesif borrowed from economies with a lower rate of interest. Indian companies can usually borrow at lower rates from the U.S. and the Eurozone as interest rates are lower there compared to the home country, India
    • Availability of larger market can help companies satisfy larger requirements from global players in a better manner as compared to what can be achieved domestically.
    • ECB is just a form of a loan and may not be of equity nature or convertible to equity. Hence, it does not dilute stake in the company and can be done without giving away control because debtors do not enjoy voting rights.
      • Another advantage of borrowing is that it is a way of raising capital without giving away any control, as debt holders don’t have voting rights, etc. Debt may also be a more easily hedged form of raising capital, as swaps and futures can be used to manage interest rate risk.
    • The borrower can diversify the investor base.
    • It provides access to international markets for the borrowers and gives good exposure to opportunities globally.
    • The economy also enjoys benefits, as the government can direct inflows into the sector, have potential to grow. For example, the government may allow a higher percentage of ECB funding in case of infrastructure and SME sector. This helps in an overall development of the country.
    • Avenues of lower cost funds can improve the profitability of the companies and can aid economic growth.
    • Another advantage of ECBs is that it does not dilute the value of shareholders equity by adding to the number of shares outstanding.

Issues:-

  • Increase in default risk, bankruptcy risk, and a plethora of interest rate and market risks related to having more debt on a company’s balancesheet
  • RCom, a listed Indian telecom firm with an external debt worth ₹443 billion, defaulted on its interest payments on two outstanding domestic non-convertible debentures on 13 November 2017. It was regarded as case of a high-profile default on international debt.
  • The growing importance of ECBs in the composition of external debt is a cause of concern for the Indian economy as it exposes it to interest and currency fluctuations.
  • Availability of funds at a cheaper rate may bring in lax attitude on the company’s side resulting in excessive borrowing. This eventually results in higher (than requirement) debt on the balance sheetwhich may affect many financial ratios adversely.
  • Impact on rating:-
    • Higher debt on the company’s balance sheet is usually viewed negatively by the rating agencies which may result in a possible downgrade by rating agencies which eventually might increase the cost of debt. This may also tarnish the company’s image in the market and market value of the shares too in eventual times.
  • Exchange rate risk:-
    • Since the borrowing is foreign currency denominated, the repayment of the principal and the interest needs to be made in foreign currency and hence exposes the company to exchange rate ris Companies may have to incur hedgingcosts or assume exchange rate risk which if goes against may end up negative for the borrowers resulting into heavy losses for them.

Conclusion:-

  • ECBs are one of the commonly availed sources of cheaper funds by eligible companies. However, the companies need to be cautious about the exchange rate risk and impact on balance sheet debt to use it effectively.

Topic: Conservation

5)The centrality of tiger agenda is an ecological necessity for the sustainability of our environment. In this context, examine the steps taken by India to conserve tigers?(250 words) 

indianexpress

Why this question

The article on the occasion of international tiger day discusses the tiger conservation programme of India and highlights India’s achievements and challenges going forward. Hence it is important while preparing conservation section of GS 3

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain why focussing on conserving tiger is a prime concern for ecology. Thereafter we need to discuss the steps taken by India in its tiger conservation and the impact it has had. The challenges are to be discussed along with way forward.

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 – Discuss the figure of the latest tiger census and highlight that since 1973, India has been taking several steps for tiger conservation.

Body

  • Mention that tigers are flagship species and top of the food chain, tiger being an umbrella species etc, hence their conservation is critical
  • Discuss the steps taken by India for tiger conservation such as Project Tiger and increase in its coverage, formation of NTCA, M-STrIPES etc
  • Discuss the impact of these steps including increase in numbers. Highlight the new challenge that it poses in terms of paucity of resources, man animal conflict etc

Conclusion – Discuss the way forward to address those challenges.

 

Background:-

  • India is one of the few countries, where tigers have their natural habitat. There are an estimated 2,226 tigers in the country and India has 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population, according to the last tiger census.

Why centrality of tiger agenda is a ecological necessity:-

  • Their protection is human responsibility towards the world and future generations”.
  • An umbrella species, the tiger signifies the health of the ecosystem services which support life on the planet. The carbon locked up in tiger forests provide a great adaptation to the threats of climate change.
  • Carbon trading hardly has kickstarted in tiger range countries, where it is required most. 
  • It is flagship species and is on top of the food chain hence conservation is critical.

Steps taken:-

  • Indian:-
    • Enabling provisions for tiger in the national legislation
    • Creation of National Tiger Conservation Authority
    • India has taken several measures, including bringing out guidelines for tiger safaris, to reduce the pressure of eco-tourism, protect habitats of tigers and conserve its population
    • India had launched Project Tiger in 1973 to conserve tigers.
      • Till now, the coverage of Project Tiger has increased from nine reserves to 50 tiger reserves spread across 18 states.
    • Year-round monitoring of tiger and prey
    • Strict adherence to guidelines for responsible ecotourism in tiger reserves
  • Technological:-
    • SOP to strengthen interstate coordination in bordering tiger reserves. 
    • Smart patrolling and notification of five more tiger reserves
    • Aerial surveillance, Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves.
    • Modern protocol for field monitoring (M-STRIPES)
    • Online database of tiger crime
  • International:-
    • World leaders had signed the St.Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, which also decided to celebrate July 29 as Global Tiger Day.
    • The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) program of the World Bank, using its presence and convening ability, brought global partners together to strengthen the tiger agenda.
    • Global Tiger Forum (GTF), being the only inter-governmental platform of tiger range countries since 1993, has been consolidating Tiger Action Plans of the range countries. It has forged viable partnerships with several like-minded organizations in India and abroad — IUCN, WWF, WCT, WII, IIFM, IFAW, WTI, WCS, USAID, World Bank, Clemson University.  
    • GTF engagement along with partners in areas of Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), Security Audit of Tiger Reserves, Management Planning etc. A special High-Altitude project is ongoing with the IUCN’s support for appraisal of tiger status in High Altitude Ecosystems of South Asia. Several other programmes are on the anvil.

Issues with Indian approach :-

  • India is a long way from achieving the ambitious target set in 2010 of doubling the global tiger numbers by 2022.
  • They share certain overarching common issues of concern such as poaching and habitat loss.
  • All the range countries face the challenge to balance the interests of conservation and development.
  • Four categories emerge in the context of tiger presence and status across the range countries: forest with no tiger or prey, forest with few tigers and abnormal sex-ratio, empty forests etc
  • Paucity of resources
  • Man animal conflict.

Way forward:-

  • Tiger must be secured at three basic levels: field formation, national and international. Though a sovereign issue, international engagements between border countries are important for evolving a common portfolio to address the threat of trafficking.
  • The Key Performance Indicators of the ongoing Global Tiger Recovery Program need adequate resources and more commitment. Donors with green mission need to support regional projects for reducing the threat of trafficking, and addressing resource dependency of locals through gainful portfolios.
  • Citizen’s charter is needed for green development within sustainable tiger landscapes. 

Topic– Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

6)What to you understand by CRISPR Cas9 editing technology? There is growing fear that the promising gene-editing system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use. Discuss.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The article discusses the issue with one of the most important scientific progress and currently under intense focus of the science community – gene editing using CRISPR Cas9 technology. Understanding the technology along with its potentials and pitfalls is important for mains.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what this technology is and what it can do. Thereafter, it wants us to explain the potential applications of this technology which is causing the scientists to rush. Next we need to explain the potential issues that can crop up as a result of the application of this technology which suggests that we should proceed with caution. The way forward needs to be mentioned in the end.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what CRISPR Cas9 technology is.

Body

  • Explain the applications of gene editing in treating genetic diseases etc which makes the technology so lucrative to scientists. Give the advantages such as it has made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • Highlight the issues as discussed in the article which should serve as a cautionary sign for us – CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer, introduces unexpected off-target (outside of the intended editing sites) effects in mice, impact on P53 protein.
  • Highlight how India is going ahead with research in this area

Conclusion – Discuss the way forward for this technology.

 

Crispr CAS 9:-

  • The clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) (CRISPR-Cas9) system has revolutionised genetic manipulations and made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • The technique has gained considerable traction recently to repair defective genes for potential therapeutic applications.
  • Based on this promise, multiple clinical trials have been initiated in the U.S. and China (using the CRISPR-Cas9 system) to produce gene-edited cells for cancer and HIV-1 therapy.
  • However, number of affected individuals is relatively small 
    and the types of mutations are varies according to geographical conditions. Нerefore, the cost of treatment and regulatory approval to develop safe gene-editing tools for each of these diseases may not be permissible.

Why is CRISPR/Cas9 applicable for genetic disorders? 

  • Targeted gene correction has the potential to treat many different  diseases, including clotting disorders such as hemophilia A and B, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, Fabry disease, Hurler and Hunter syndromes and so on.
  • It has made gene editing simpler, faster and easily accessible to most laboratories.
  • Proponents argue that mice with genome-edited cells developing cancer have not been reported and the cells with adverse studies are not the ones currently in clinical trials.

Issues:-

  • Study by Stanford University, U.S. , found that the CRISPR-Cas9 system introduces unexpected off-target (outside of the intended editing sites) effects in mice. The fear that the CRISPR system is being prematurely rushed for clinical use lingers. Three recent reports have exacerbated this fear even further.
  • Studies highlighted that CRISPR-Cas9-edited cells might trigger cancer
  • P53 protein :-
    • CRISPR-Cas9 system induced activation of a protein called P53. This P53 protein acts like a gatekeeper or guardian in the cells to keep them healthy and prevents them (the cells) from turning cancerous. In many cancers, cells lose their ability to repair deleterious genetic changes due to an impaired P53 function.
    • In cells where editing is adequate, the cell’s P53 protein may be dysfunctional. Therefore, a functional pP53 protein is good for the cells to be healthy but makes the Cas9-mediated editing process less effective.
  • May increase the risk of mutations elsewhere in the genome in those cells.
  • Both the mouse and the human gene edited cells suffered from large DNA deletions far from the intended editing sites.
  • Although, CRISPR-Cas9 technology has been successfully used to cure several diseases however, it remains many things are not clear like how we should determine which disease or traits are appropriate for gene editing.
  • Ethical concerns:-
    • In addition, there are concerns with manipulating human embryos for own interest.

Way forward:-

  • India’s current regulatory architecture for approving novel treatments is ambiguous and assigns overlapping functions to different governmental bodies. This framework needs to be restructured to optimize trial approval time while addressing safety requirements.
  • A two-step model wherein the government works with industry and research groups to accelerate clinical research is recommended. This model consists of a national apex committee working in collaboration with existing institutional ethics committees and independent accreditation agencies.

Topic– Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

7)Technological solutions in the domain of government-to-citizen cash transfers are far from perfect. Discuss, in the context of India.(250 words)

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Why this question

DBT has been proposed as a panacea for many of the problems of corruption and extensive delays in release of funds. Although the system has many benefits over the older system, it is still far from perfect and a host of issues are associated with it. This needs to be deliberated so that timely interventions can be made in order to improve the system.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail as to how technological solutions in the domain of government-to-citizen cash transfers are far from perfect. What are the issues involved.

Directive word

Discuss- This s an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. We also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Write a few lines about the important government programmes currently using direct cash transfers to the citizens. E.g MGNREGA, scholarships; maternity benefits; pensions etc.

Body

  • Briefly highlight the benefits of such direct transfers. E.g eliminating corruption, fake beneficiaries; decreasing cost and time of fund transfer; bringing in transparency etc.
  • Discuss in detail about the problems in the present direct cash transfer systems currently operational in India. E.g creation of new intermediaries like payment agencies in the digital payments framework, which are responsible for not only delayed payments but also in corruption, and employ a number of tricks in doing the same; lack of access to data owned by the private intermediaries; transparency only at aggregate levels etc.

Conclusion- based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced opinion on the issue. E.g targeted transparency and developing and enforcing standards of accounting and immediate transfer of these accounts to the public domain; create additional measures of protection for digitally and socioeconomically vulnerable sections; need to create paper trails of payments and transactions that are available to the workers etc.

Background:-

  • In India, payment programmes run by the government include pensions, scholarships, maternity benefits, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • The transfer process is vulnerable to a host of problems like corruption and extensive delays being chief among them.
  • So in the last decade India has witnessed a fundamental shift marked by the introduction of technology-mediated transfers. Propelled by this, the Indian government has recently experimented with several digital methods to reduce the last-mile problem in the payment process.

 

How are these technological solutions far from perfect:-

  • Rural India deficiencies:-
    • Very few villages in India have bank branches, there existed an additional layer of payment intermediaries.
    • Private contractors, known as payment agencies, were tasked with taking cash from the local banks to people in the villages. This led to delay in payments.
  • The payment process, from the nodal bank to the beneficiary, included at least three different agencies, some with their own sub-structures, thereby fundamentally contradicting the assumption that digital transfers are “direct.”
  • Payments were far from instantaneous even in states with the best digital payments infrastructure in India. In a study done in undivided AP, nearly 13% of payments were not disbursed at all, with an average delay of 43.6 days in NREGA.
  • Corruption:-
    • Many beneficiaries reported that payment agencies took bribes
    • In addition, activists were concerned about the possibility of payments being deliberately delayed by agencies in order to earn interest on it.
    • The contractor developed a nexus with a local strongman who advised people that there would be a long delay in payment and offered to pay workers their wage immediately with a commission.
    • Delays were engineered so that the workers would opt for the discounted payment.
  • No accurate information:-
    • In most reports, information on transfers was available only at aggregate levels. While it was easy to find how much money was sent to a bank, there was no information on who was being paid, thus making the process entirely non-transparent from the point of view of the workers.
    • It was impossible to find beneficiary-level information on the payment process, even though the data was available at the backend.
  • Non transparency :-
    • Systematic form of non-transparency has arisen in digital transfers through the involvement of private contractors.
    • Payments that are processed by the bureaucracy are covered by India’s strong Right to Information (RTI) law.Private contractors, however, are not covered by the law, and thus the transfer of the payment process from the bureaucracy to private players has weakened transparency.
  • The introduction of technologies without creating sufficient organisational arrangements has created many new problems in the payment process that citizens did not face earlier.
    • Several problems were introduced because of technology use. These include delays due to data entry errors, errors in authentication in POS devices, and the sheer complexity of the new mechanism that very few people understood.
  • Underpayments:-
    • There are also many cases involving extralegal fees and underpayments since there is no protection for account holders. In Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, for example, there were cases of money being transferred from legitimate account holders to others without the consent or knowledge of the account holders
  • No efficient legal discourse:-
    • In many states, there are no legal means to find out what happened to a payment once it is transferred by the government. This is deeply problematic in the context of corruption

Technological solutions have benefitted as well:-

  • Proponents of digitisation argue that the key benefit of technology is that it enables governments to transfer cash directly to citizens, eliminating intermediaries.
  • It would reduce corruption since intermediaries are often susceptible to bribery and fraud.
  • Digital transfers would be instantaneous, and would also eliminate delays in payments reaching beneficiaries.
  • Use of technology would ensure that the process is fully transparent.

Way forward:-

  • In addition, there is a need for regulations to prevent intermediaries from demanding extralegal fees and denying payments. 
  • Given the poor digital capabilities of most MGNREGA workers and welfare recipients, India also needs to create paper trails of payments and transactions that are available to the workers. In many states, MGNREGA workers do not receive bank passbooks and have no means of receiving updates on their own accounts. Remedying this is critical.