SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 AUGUST 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 – Part of static series under the heading -”CIC – functions and importance”
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to detail out the provisions which ensure independence of CIC. Thereafter, it expects us to examine the proposed amendments to RTI Act and the impact it is likely to have, particularly on the independence of CIC.
Discuss – Here the constitutional and other provisions which ensure the independence of CIC is to be mentioned.
Critically Examine – the impact of the move, pros and cons and way forward needs to be discussed here.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Mention about the role that CIC plays in RTI scheme. Mention that the proposed amendments makes changes wrt terms of service of CIC.
Body – Mention in brief the significance of the role of CIC in RTI Act. Discuss the terms of service of CIC which ensures that the office of CIC is independent such as appointment, salary etc. Examine what changes in terms of service are proposed by the amendment and the impact it will have.
Conclusion – Give your view on the proposed changes, and discuss the way forward.
- The Indian legislation on the right to information is the result of a popular grassroots struggle for effective governance.
- With the objective to empower the citizens and promote transparency and accountability in Government functioning, various awareness programmes on Right to information was organised by the Information Commission.
- Individual got freedom to seek Government related information and appeal, if the information wasn’t provided. It played pivotal role in knowing the working of Government departments and to change old mind set about secrecy in working of Government.
- However recently some amendments have been proposed in the RTI act.
Provisions for ensuring the independence of CIC:-
- The Commission exercises its powers without being subjected to directions by any other authority.
- RTI Act 2005 gives that the Chief Information Commissioner will hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and will not be qualified for reappointment:
- Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 gives that the pay rates and stipends payable to and different terms and states of administration of the Chief Information Commissioner will be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
- The CIC is empowered to receive and inquire into complaints from any person relating to access to information under the control of public authorities and to decide appeals against the decisions of designated appellate officers.
- The Commission shall impose penalties on erring Central Public Information Officers and recommend disciplinary action against those who have, without any reasonable cause, denied access to information under the provisions of the Act or deprived a citizen of his/her right to access information with public authorities in a malafide manner.
- The Commission has powers to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other damage suffered. The decision of the Commission on an appeal is binding and is not subject to further appeal in a court of law.
How the proposed amendments to the RTI act would dilute the independence of CIC:-
- In the latest proposed amendments:-
- The central government considered CIC as less in status than the CEC (Chief Election Commissioner). The RTI Act says it is ‘constitutional right’, while the Bill 2018 considers it is not.
- Proposed amendments seek to do away with the parity given to information commissions with the Election Commission in terms of salary, allowances and conditions of service.
- The proposed amendments also do away with their five years fixed tenure.
- The Supreme Court time and again said that the right to vote and RTI are fundamental rights. Hence the CIC and CEC stand on equal footing and rightly placed at par by RTI Act after thorough debate and consultations
- RTI Act 2005 recognises sovereign authority of states to select their SICs, the bill of 2018 does not allow states to decide their term, status and salary as it proposes the Centre will prescribe it from time to time.
- Proposed amendments to the RTI Act will completely destroy the autonomy of information commissions set up under the RTI Act to adjudicate on appeals and complaints of people who have been denied their rights under the RTI Act.
- The argument that the CIC cannot have the stature of the EC, which is a constitutional body, is flawed as it is the requirement of job done at these commissions
- Cooperative federalism :-
- The proposed amendments are treated as a body blow to the era of cooperative federalism whereby government of India would like to decide how much the state chief ICs and SICs should be paid for work
- Such amendment proposals defeat the very purpose of installing autonomous bodies that judge the correctness of governmental action in denying access to information.
- So before passing the amendments parliament need to consider the importance of the information commissions in upholding the RTI act and act accordingly.
General Studies – 2
Topic– Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Why this question
The SC is currently hearing a writ petition filed by NGO, We the Citizens, which challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370. The SC has hinted refering the issue to the constitutional bench. It is therefore essential to know about the historical context of the article and discuss the implications of abrogating it.
Discuss- This is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question.
Examine-Here we have to probe deeper into the topic, get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to write in detail about how article 35A was added to the constitution, what is its significance. It also wants us to dig deeper into the topic and bring out, what could be the possible implications of abrogating it.
Structure of the answer
Introduction– write a few lines on the nature of Article 35A in terms of what special provisions it creates for the Permanent Residents of the J&K.
- Discuss the historical context of Article 35A. E.g during british rule- not british subjects; In 1927, the then Maharaja of Kashmir, passed the Hereditary State Subject Order which granted the respective state subjects with the right to government office and the right to land use and ownership. These rights were extended solely to the state subjects; After the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union, in October 1947, even though the Maharaja ceded all control to the Government of India, the exclusivity of state subjects remained unchanged. In the 1952 Delhi Agreement, the government of the state and the Union collectively agreed upon the extension of Indian citizenship to all residents of the state but the state would still be empowered to legislature over the rights of the state-subjects, who will now be referred to as permanent residents. Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his cabinet.
- Discuss the positive implications of abrogating Article 35A. E.g closer integration of the valley with the rest of the country; accelerate development and investment in the valley etc.
- Discuss the negative implications- e.g the valley has been tense and unitedly opposing the abrogation; could fuel more violence and estrangement in the valley etc.
Conclusion– Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.
- Article 35A remains as one of the most divisive provisions in the Constitution as mere talk of any alteration to it provokes sharp reactions from parties across the aisle. Recently Supreme Court took up a petition to challenge the validity of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution.
Article 35 A:-
- The Article 35A of the Indian Constitution empowers the state legislation of Jammu and Kashmir to not only define “permanent residents” of the state but also equip them with special rights and privileges. So the people holding the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC), have exclusive right to acquire property in the state and enjoy any state-sponsored schemes.
- These privileges and rights are not extended in any way to any non-permanent citizen. Thus a person from Uttar Pradesh cannot move the courts saying that their right to equality is infringed by a special right given to a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Article is located in Appendix-1 of the Indian Constitution within the text of Presidential Order, 1954.
Historical context behind article 35 A :-
- Prior to 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir came across as one of the princely states, whose citizens were not referred to as the British colonial subjects but as subjects of the state, under the British rule.
- In 1927, the then Maharaja of Kashmir, passed the Hereditary State Subject Order which granted the respective state subjects with the right to government office and the right to land use and ownership. These rights were extended solely to the state subjects and eliminated any availability of the same to the non-state subjects.
- After the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union in 1947 even though the Maharaja ceded all control to the Government of India, the exclusivity of state subjects remained unchanged. In the 1952 Delhi Agreement, the government of the state and the Union collectively agreed upon the extension of Indian citizenship to all residents of the state but the state would still be empowered to legislature over the rights of the state-subjects, who will now be referred to as permanent residents.
Implications of abrogating article 35 A :-
- Closer integration of the valley with the rest of the country
- Accelerate development and investment in the valley
- It will further uphold right to equality and right to reside in any part of the country
- Impact on other orders:-
- Then all 41 subsequent Presidential Orders will then become susceptible to legal challenges because all of these Orders were in essence amendments to the 1954 Order. These subsequent orders have extended 94 out of the 97 entries in the Union List to the state as well as applied 260 articles of the Indian Constitution to the state.
- Such moves only deepen the sense of alienation on the ground and push Kashmiri youths towards militancy .Abrogating Article 35A may permanently alienate the people of Kashmir.
- If India is not going to honour Article 35A, the people of the State of Jammu Kashmir might protest that they are no longer bound by the instrument of accession and state of Jammu and Kashmir would become a sovereign state.
- Land issues:-
- If this Article goes the land in the state of Jammu Kashmir can be purchased by any one from India and with the passage of time the state will lose all its land.
- Business affected:-
- Once the people of India would purchase land in Jammu they would open their businesses in Jammu and the business community of Jammu would be seriously affected.
- Housing issue:-
- Further, the people of Jammu would face shortage of accommodation as most of the slums who will come from other parts of the country would settle in Jammu rather than in Kashmir.
- Employment issue:-
- Presently, most of the educated youth in Jammu Kashmir are unemployed and if protection by Article 35A would have not been given to them. the fate of educated unemployed youth of Jammu Kashmir would be worse.
- The benefit of this provision is that only permanent residents can contest elections and if this Article goes everyone from the country is entitled to contest elections.
- Another implication of abrogation of this article would result cultural aggression and the death blow to Kashmir identity. Thus Kashmir will suffer more culturally and morally while as Jammu will also suffer economically and socially and Ladakh would not be an exception.
- Impact on other orders:-
- Article 370 and 35-A accords special status to the state of Jammu Kashmir within the Indian Union. The special status ensured by these articles makes it different from other states and allows the state to have its own constitution and protects its identity. So Multiple stakeholders need to be involved to take a decision that is the national interest.
Topic– Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Why this question
The Lok Sabha recently passed the Motor vehicles amendment bill which brings in significant reforms in the transportation sector. However, the bill has been criticized on several accounts, which needs to be discussed.
Examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic, get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to look into the provisions of the Motor vehicles amendment bill and find out the positive as well as negative implications, deficiencies of the bill, which it fails to address. Based on our discussion we have to form an opinion on the issue.
Structure of the answer
Introduction– write a few lines about the ‘Road Accidents in India, 2016’ report and relatively high number of road accidents in India. Mention that, in order to make roads safer, the Centre in consultation with State Transport Ministers came up with this Bill to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
- Discuss the positive points of the bill. E.g defines aggregators as “a digital intermediary or market place for a passenger to connect with a driver for the purpose of transportation.”; optional for State governments to follow central guidelines on issuing licenses to such aggregators; higher penalties for traffic violations; National Transportation Policy; caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident; provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which would provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents; Aggregators, however, now have to be compliant with the Information Technology Act, 2000; provides for the recall of vehicles if the defective vehicle is a danger to the environment, the driver or other road users; provisions to harness technology, including CCTV monitoring, to improve road safety etc.
- Discuss the deficiencies and the limitations of the bill and also other issues it raises. E.g Sections 66A and 88A, which will empower the Centre to form a National Transportation Policy through a process of consultation, and not concurrence; Centrally-drafted schemes to be issued for national, multi-modal and inter-State movement of goods and passengers, for rural mobility and even last-mile connectivity; need for strong enforcement with regard to road safety provisions; lack of a professional investigation agency; issue of creating a new fund, with Solatium Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear. ; does not cap the compensation amount that courts can award. In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount etc.
Conclusion- briefly discuss the way-forward that should be adopted in order to enhance the effectiveness and desirability of these reforms.
Motor vehicles amendment bill provisions:-
- The Bill amends the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to address issues such as third party insurance, regulation of taxi aggregators, and road safety.
- The 2016 Bill required State governments to issue licences to aggregators such as Uber or Ola as per “guidelines as may be issued by the Central Government,” but when the Bill was reintroduced in 2017, it became optional for State governments to follow central guidelines.
- Under the Act, the liability of the third party insurer for motor vehicle accidents is unlimited. The Bill caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and at five lakh rupees in case of grievous injury.
- The Bill defines taxi aggregators, guidelines for which will be determined by the central government.
- Increase of penalties for several offences under the 1988 Act:-
- The old Act provided Rs.12,000 for grievous injury and Rs.25,000 for death, while the amendment Bill provides Rs.50,000 for grievous injury and Rs.2 lakh or more for death.
- It makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a driving licence and vehicle registration.
- For deaths in hit-and-run cases, the government will provide a compensation of Rs 2 lakh or more to the victim’s family. Currently, the amount is just Rs 25,000.
- In traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be held responsibile unless they prove the offence was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent it. The registration of the motor vehicle in question will be cancelled. The juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
- The bill has provision for protection of Good Samaritans. Those who come forward to help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. It will be optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.
- A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
- It will be mandatory to alter vehicles to make them suitable for specially abled people.
- Contractors, consultants and civic agencies will be accountable for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads leading to accidents
- A time limit of six months has been specified for an application of compensation to the Claims Tribunal with regard to road accidents.
- The Bill removes the cap on liability for third-party insurance. The 2016 Bill had capped the maximum liability at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injury.
- The time limit for renewal of driving licence is increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
- The government can recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. Manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore in case of sub-standard components or engine.
- Provisions to harness technology, including CCTV monitoring exist in the bill.
- The Amendment Bill is robust and rectifies several systemic issues
- by providing for a uniform driver licensing system
- protection of children and vulnerable road users
- rationalising penalties
- Introducing technology in the licensing procedure.
- A digitised, uniform and centralised driver licensing system will go a long way in ensuring ease of access, efficiency and transparency in the filtering process.
- Bill also proposes to introduce digitisation in the monitoring and enforcement of traffic laws.
- Kerala has a city surveillance and traffic monitoring system’, and automated traffic enforcement systems to detect traffic light violations as well as speeding. The enactment of the Bill will facilitate the replication and creation of such digitised systems for all other States.
- Safety of children:
- The Bill proposes to mandate the use of protective headgear by every person above the age of four driving, riding or being carried on a two-wheeler.
- Similarly, the Bill mandates the use of safety belts and child restraints for those under 14 years and introduces a fine of Rs. 1,000 for the driver or guardian for the violation of the same.
- This Bill promises to rationalise the fines. For instance, the penalty for drunk driving has been increased to Rs. 10,000 for the first offence and Rs. 15,000 for the subsequent one.
- The Centre assumes a direct role in the reforms, since it will introduce guidelines that bind State governments in several areas:
- notably in creating a framework for taxicab aggregators
- financing insurance to treat the injured and to compensate families of the dead in hit-and-run cases
- Road design and engineering:-
- The 2017 Bill provides that any contractor or consultant responsible for the design, construction, or maintenance of the safety standards of roads must follow design, construction and maintenance standards specified by the central government.
- The 2017 Bill also specify certain road design characteristics that the Courts should consider when looking at such cases.
- Road safety agencies:-
- The 2017 Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification
- The 2017 Bill specifies a time limit of three months to submit the accident information report.
- Settlement of claims:
- The 2017 Bill passed by Lok Sabha, provides that the insurance company can process claims on receiving information from the claimant also. Further, the insurance company must settle claims within a time limit of 30 days.
- Removal of Second Schedule:
- The 2017 Bill removes the Second Schedule to the Act. This Schedule provides for the manner of calculation of compensation for road accidents resulting in death or injury.
- The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to strengthen the Act, has attempted to address the issue of liability for road defects.
- For any road crash injury or death caused by defective road design and engineering, the designated authority responsible to construct and maintain the road is to be penalised with a sum capped at Rs.1 lakh.
- The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017aims to rectify several systemic issues by providing a uniform driver licensing system, protecting children and vulnerable road users, rationalising penalties and creating a system of accountability in the construction of roads.
Issues with the bill :-
- Under the Act, compensation for hit and run victims comes from a Solatium Fund. The Bill creates a new Motor Vehicle Accident Fund in addition. With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear.
- State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines. Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.
- While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified. It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.
- Under the 1988 Act, third party insurance is compulsory for all motor vehicles and the liability of the third party insurer is unlimited. The 2017 Bill removes the cap on liability for third party insurance as well.
- States have concernsabout their powers being curtailed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
- Sub-section(3) introduced to Section 166 states that the claim petition has to be filed within six months of the date of accident. In 1988 act there was a similar provision but provision fixing time limit was deleted as per 1994 amendment. Now, that provision has been brought back.
- Application of compensation:
- A time limit of six months has been specified for an application of compensation to the Claims Tribunal with regard to road accidents. The Act did not provide for any such time limits
- In cases where courts award compensation higher than the maximum liability amount, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount.
- Sections 66A and 88A will empower the Centre to form a National Transportation Policy through a process of consultation, and not concurrence.
- There is a need for a accountable and professional police force then only the record of traffic fatalities is likely to change.
- State governments must prepare for an early roll-out of administrative reforms prescribed in the amended law, such as
- Issuing learner’s licences online
- Recording address changes through an online application
- Electronic service delivery with set deadlines.
- To eliminate corruption, all applications should be accepted by transport departments online, rather than merely computerising them.
- Protection from harassment for good samaritans who help accident victims is something the amended law provides, and this needs to be in place.
- There is a need to incorporate the Safe System Approachin all aspects of road design, engineering and construction. This approach takes into account the possibility of human error and ensures that the surrounding environment and infrastructure are designed to save lives.
Topic – Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.
Why this question
Indian law on adultery is a colonial era law which needs a relook, given that it is gender biased and misunderstands the modern notion of marriage.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to express our opinion in favour or against the statement, whether Indian law on adultery needs a revisit and amendments in order to reflect the modern society.
Structure of the answer
Introduction- write a few lines about the salient features of Indian law on adultery. E.g section 497 of IPC; The law as it stands in India is a colonial creation, formulated 158 years ago and mention that it needs an amendment to keep up with the spirit of the times.
- Discuss how Indian law treats adultery.
- Bring Out the reasons as to why the law needs to be revised. E.g The law has moved on in England, where adultery is no longer penalised except as a ground to claim irretrievable breakdown of marriage; Adultery is, in Indian law, violation of one man’s marital home by another, in which women are seen as passive objects wholly devoid of agency etc.
Conclusion- based on your discussion and arguments form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the issue.
- In India the offence of adultery is punishable under Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860. As it stands, this Section makes only men having sexual intercourse with the wives of other men without the consent of their husbands punishable and women cannot be punished even as abettors. Keeping in mind the changing times the law needs amendments.
Why law on adultery needs to be modernized?
- Section 497 of the IPC treats only the man as the offender and the married woman as a victim. They say that in making the husband the only person who can prosecute for adultery, the law is founded upon the idea that the status of the wife in a marriage is akin to that of the property of the husband.
- It does not penalize the sexual intercourse of a married man with an unmarried woman or a widow or even a married woman when her husband consents to it.
- In case the offence of adultery is committed, the husband cannot prosecute his unfaithful wife but can only prosecute her adulterer.
- The Supreme Court said the Victorian provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code treats a married woman as her husband’s “subordinate.”
- The very existence of adultery in the criminal statute is violative of the fundamental right to life and to live with dignity.
- In essence, a woman can neither file a case of adultery, nor can she be prosecuted on the ground of adultery. This cuts gender discrimination both ways, that is, it discriminates against men and women.
- The legal system supports giving a short term and psychological outlet to the parties in a marriage to blame a third person for the breakdown of a marriage.
- Adultery is no more a criminal offence in most European countries but it may still have legal consequences, especially in divorce proceedings. In the U.S., adultery is generally punished in some states only if committed habitually or with public notoriety.
- Adultery amounts to breach of trust between a married couple and should thus qualify as a strong ground for divorce, but should not carry other penalties such as imprisonment.
- With individual autonomy and choices being recognised as an integral part of the right to privacy, there is no justification in retaining a dated adultery law.
- Despite law has moved on in England, where adultery is no longer penalised except as a ground to claim irretrievable breakdown of marriage Indian law still lags behind and needs to be amended.
Topic– Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Why this question
As global consensus over rules based multilateral trading comes under stress, WTO often comes into news. Dispute resolution process at WTO has directly impacted India on several occasions and thus it is important to learn more about this mechanism, and understand the issues involved, as discussed in the article.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to explain in detail the mechanism of dispute resolution at WTO and discuss the issues in the process . We are also expected to suggest measures how the process can be improved to everyone’s liking.
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 – Give a brief history of trade dispute resolution which started with the conceptualization of ITO. Explain the nature of dispute resolution at WTO.
- Off late India has been involved in several dispute resolution process at WTO such as the case of export subsidies, solar panels etc. Highlight that the process of dispute resolution bears a huge impact on trade as well as domestic economy.
- Explain the process of dispute resolution at WTO
- Discuss the issues that are plaguing dispute resolution process – politicisation of the process, non appointment of appellate body members, dealing with complex issues which require expertise which is missing due to the immense stress that appellate body functions under etc
- Discuss some of the reform measures which can help in streamlining the process – revision in voting rights to ensure greater share of developing countries in decision making, consensus building by supporters of multilateral trade like EU, China, India etc
Conclusion – Emphasize on the necessity of having a smooth and fair dispute resolution process and how we can achieve the same.
- Dispute settlement or Dispute Settlement System (DSS) is regarded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the central pillar of the multilateral trading system, and as the organization’s “unique contribution to the stability of the global economy”.
- A dispute arises when one member country adopts a trade policy measure or takes some action that one or more fellow members considers to a breach of WTO agreements or to be a failure to live up to obligations.
- By joining the WTO, member countries have agreed that if they believe fellow members are in violation of trade rules, they will use the multilateral system of settling disputes instead of taking action unilaterally . This entails abiding by agreed procedures like Dispute Settlement Understanding and respecting judgments, primarily of the Dispute Settlement Board (DSB), the WTO organ responsible for adjudication of disputes.
Dispute resolution in WTO:-
- There are two main ways to settle a dispute once a complaint has been filed in the WTO:-
- (i) the parties find a mutually agreed solution, particularly during the phase of bilateral consultations
- (ii) through adjudication, including the subsequent implementation of the panel and Appellate Body reports, which are binding upon the parties once adopted by the DSB.
- There are three main stages to the WTO dispute settlement process:-
- (i) consultations between the parties
- (ii) adjudication by panels and, if applicable, by the Appellate Body
- (iii) the implementation of the ruling, which includes the possibility of countermeasures in the event of failure by the losing party to implement the ruling.
- Role of US:-
- The U.S. has systematically blocked the appointment of new Appellate Body members and de facto impeded the work of the WTO appeal mechanism. With only four working members out of seven normally serving office in July 2018, the institution is under great stress.
- Other WTO members are expressing concerns over the politicisation of the Appellate Body appointment and reappointment process, and the quasi-attribution of permanent Appellate Body seats to the U.S. and the European Union (EU). There is concern that China may be on its way to having a permanent seat.
- The institution is dealing with complex issues which require expertise which is missing due to the immense stress that appellate body functions under.
Way forward :-
- There is a need to revise the voting rights to ensure greater share of developing countries in decision making
- Consensus need to be built by supporters of multilateral trade like EU, China, India etc.
General Studies – 3
Topic- Indian agriculture – issues
Why this question
The article talks about the benefits that have been reaped from BT cotton. The have been several arguments regarding Bt crops said in favour and against. Understanding those arguments is thus critical, hence this question.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to explain the pros and cons of utilisation of bt cotton and give our on opinion on what the government should do regarding the future of bt crops.
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– Explain what Bt Cotton is.
- Mention about the fact that impressed by the advantages offered by Bollgard II, farmers have planted Bt cotton, unapproved, in several parts of the country.
- Discuss the advantages offered for the farmers. Mention that the proof of the advantages reaped lies in the fact that farmers are willing to pay more than the capped amount for purchasing seeds.
- Give other advantages of usage of such technology – increased production and exports , reduction in use of pesticides etc
- Discuss some of the challenges – opposition by farmers welfare group who raise fear of conglomerates like Monsanto, the impact on ecology due to fear of monoculture etc
- Give your view on what according to you should be the future
Conclusion – discuss what the way forward must be.
- Bt cotton, as GM cotton is known, is the only commercialised GM crop in the country. Bt cotton seeds account for 40% of the Rs 14,000 crore national seeds market in India.
How Bt cotton helped Indian economy :-
- Less use of insecticides:-
- To produce the GM Cotton, the gene coding for Bt toxin (Cry-1-ac) has been inserted into cotton, causing cotton to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues. By this, the larvae are killed by the Bt protein in the GM cotton they eat. This eliminates the need to use large amounts of broad-spectrum insecticides to kill various pesticides.
- There is no doubt that the Bt technology has brought down the use of pesticides by about 50%
- Increasing yields:-
- It resulted in increased yield because of superior bollworm control bringing down cost of bollworm control and thereby raising the net incomes of the farmers.
- Reduced infestation of the boll worm.
- Due to the adoption of Bt cotton ensured that India transitioned into a cotton-exporting country from being a net importer
- Loss caused by the pink bollworm infestation have raised questions about the sustainability of GM cotton, which accounts for over 90% of all cotton grown in the country.
- GM crops face strident opposition due to their perceived adverse ecological, bio-safety measures and health implications.
- Cotton is also plagued by use of illegal herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton seeds.
- There was no substantial difference found between Bt and non-Bt cotton for germination and vigour, indicating that there is no substantial difference between transgenic Bt and control non-Bt cotton with regard to their weediness potential.
- Bt cotton hybrids do not have any toxic effects on the non -target species such as sucking pests. The beneficial insects remained active in both Bt and non Bt varieties.
- The growing number of farmers committing suicides in some cotton growing states has re-ignited the protests against the Bt Cotton.
- Bt hybrids:-
- Farmers in rain-fed regions were / are compelled to choose from a long list of Bt hybrids, most of which are late maturing, sucking pest-susceptible hybrids, that are unsuitable for rain-fed region.
- Problem is with late maturing hybrids that do not perform well owing to the late-season moisture deficit in shallow soils, especially when they are sown late.
- High cost of Bt cotton seeds as compared to non Bt cotton seeds.
- Effectiveness up to 120 days, after that the toxin producing efficiency of the Bt gene drastically reduces.
- India is the only country whose intellectual property laws have never prevented its farmers from either saving or selling seeds.
- Over 70 countries that are members of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, for example, allow farmers to reuse seeds from a protected plant variety, but not to sell them.
- Hybrids lose their genetic stability when their seeds are replanted. This compels farmers to repurchase seeds each year, protecting corporate revenues.
- The diffusion of illegal Bt hybrids that hadn’t been cleared for biosafety standards, leading to fears of environmental toxicity. There were more than 1000 varieties of cotton hybrids and uninformed and vague choices on the part of the farmers led to stagnant production these Bt hybrids were unsuitable for rain-fed cotton lands.
- Normal cotton seed is largely unavailable to Indian farmers because of Monsanto’s control of the seed market.
Government should stop resisting this technology because:-
- Given the increased growth of global population and increased urbanization, GM crops offer one of the promising solutions to meet the world’s food security needs in the foreseeable future.
- Switching to high-yield oilseeds engineered specially for India’s semi-arid zones can help India reduce its dependence on imports.
- Several international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have repeatedly confirmed the safety of biotech crops and concluded that foods derived from biotechnology are as safe and nutritious as those derived from conventional and organic methods.
The reasons why government is still resisting this technology are:-
- GMOs carry risks of ‘unintended’ effects and toxicity, which confront India with a double problem as scientists don’t know what to look for, and health impacts become apparent only in the long term, such as cancer.
- HT mustard field trials, which were accessed under the Right to Information Act, are a revelation of regulatory shambles.
- One of the principal reasons for opposition to GM crops is the potential for serious, irreversible damage to human health and the environmen This is especially relevant in the context of crops such as Bt brinjal which involve direct consumption by humans, unlike Bt cotton.
- Lack of transparency in the regulatory process further amplifies apprehensions stemming from a precautionary approach.
- All the safety tests for regulatory approvals are typically conducted by the same party that applies for commercialisation of GM crops
- This conflict of interest was made worse by the refusal of GEAC (in both cases) to publicly release the safety testing data submitted for regulatory approval until GM opponents filed a Right to Information petition.
- This tendency to operate in secrecy has not only created a serious distrust of the government and the promoters of GM crops but is also fuelling the conflict.
- Opposition by farmers welfare group who raise fear of conglomerates like Monsanto.
Way forward :-
- Government must take decisions on GM technologies on the basis of scientific evidence.
- Government should adopt a participatory approach to bring together all stakeholders to develop regulatory protocols that restore trust in the process.
General Studies – 4
Topic-Emotional intelligence-concepts, and their utilities and application in administration and governance.
Discuss- This is 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.
Key demand of the question.
The question wants us to write in detail about the components of emotional intelligence as put forward by the famous author and science journalist, Daniel Goleman.
Structure of the answer
Introduction- Write a few lines about the importance of having a high emotional intelligence in our personal and professional lives.
Discuss in points the five components of emotional intelligence as put forward by Daniel Goleman. E.g
- Internal motivation.
- Social Skills.
Explain the relevance of each of these components in determining the level of emotional intelligence of a person.
Conclusion– sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.
- Emotional intelligence or EI is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Five components of emotional intelligence :-
- According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to it:
- The ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others.
- Hallmarks of self-awareness include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humour.
- Emotional awareness: This deals with knowledge of one’s emotions and their effects. People having this competency are more aware of their feelings and performance.
- Accurate self-assessment: This involves being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses. One is open to feedbacks, new viewpoints, etc.
- Self-confidence: This relates to complete affirmation of one’s worth and abilities. They are usually more confident and are able to make sound decisions despite any uncertainties or pressures
- Ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting. Hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.
- Adaptability: This involves flexible attitude towards change. People with this competency find it easy to handle changing routines, multiple roles and even shifting priorities.
- Innovativeness: This involves getting easy with and open to new information and ideas. People who possess this are able to gather new ideas from multiple sources, set challenging roles and are able to take calculated risks. They evolve original solutions to various problems.
- A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status -which are external rewards, – such as an inner vision of what is important in life, a joy in doing something, curiosity in learning, a flow that comes with being immersed in an activity
- The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.
- Empathy does not necessarily imply compassion. Empathy can be ‘used’ for compassionate or cruel behaviour. Serial killers who marry and kill many partners in a row tend to have great emphatic skills.
- Social skills:-
- Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Hallmarks of social skills include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, and expertise building and leading teams.
Especially in administration emotional intelligence is necessary because:-
- Social responsibility
- When a leader cares about others, he is not a centre of attention and keeps everyone in the loop by making their intentions known.
- Stress tolerance
- To stay focused, stress should be managed and it involves own reactions to stress or the reactions of others to the stress.
- Impulse control
- Independent people evaluate the alternatives and initiate the work by taking appropriate action by executing the right options. People who manage their impulses avoid being distracted and losing control of the situation.
- Optimistic people have a target that they’re aiming toward. These people are confident in their ability to carry out the required actions and meet the target by looking for successful solutions to problems.