SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 AUGUST 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 13 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 – 2


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

1) Examine the reasons behind reduction in number of insured farms, agricultural area under the PMFBY.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

PMFBY is an important scheme of the govt of India, and an instrument of the goal to double the farmer’s income by 2022. The scheme offers huge scope of providing a comprehensive risk cover to farmers in India, which are faced with numerous uncertainties of nature, income and markets. It is important to know the reasons behind apparent/ real failure of the scheme.

Directive word

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 bring out the reasons behind the decrease in the  agricultural land area and the no. of farms (which is correlated with the area covered) which is/ are insured under PMFBY.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Write a few lines about PMFBY and its importance and mention the decrease in no. of farms covered and hence agricultural land covered (30% covered against the target of covering 50 per cent of the gross cropped area by March 2019, under PMFBY.

Body-

  1. Discuss in points the possible reasons behind the poor performance of the scheme. E.g Discuss the concept of Crop Cutting Experiments and the issues involved in it- use of technology to save time and costs, as mandated, is not being implemented; private insurance companies influencing decisions of these experiments and reducing the compensation available to the farmers; States do not have manpower to conduct  the targeted CCEs, poor grievance redressal on part of insurance companies as mandatory under PMFBY; several states are not regular in paying their share of premium citing heavy financial load;  high cost of actuarial premium as it accounts for nearly one-third of the budget of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare under the Union government- which is due to untimely notification by states for bidding by insurance companies and change in the fundamental structure of insurance business etc.

Conclusion- Stress upon the need to remove these anomalies and bring corresponding changes in the scheme in order to achieve the aim of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

Background:-

  • Recently it is found that number of farmers under PMFBY, both loanee and non-loanee, has significantly reduced over the past years
  • The number of loanee farmers, who account for over 70 per cent of those under PMFBY since the insurance is a prerequisite for crop loans, has dropped by 20 per cent. 
  • The extent of insured farms has reduced in last two years and only 30 per cent area is now covered under PMFBY. So there is a need to emphasise the issues with PMFBY and search for solutions.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

  • It is aimed at shielding farmers from crop failures and yield losses due to vagaries of climate through insurance.
  • It compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield.
  • In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield.
  • The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
  • The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks like droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.

Why the programme needs an urgent fix:

  • Making the insurance business sustainable with actuarial premium rates is not going to help raise farmers incomes.
  • Issues with mechanism of involved in claim settlement – crop cutting experiment:-
    • Government in 2016-17 conducted 0.92 million crop cutting experiment against the need of 3 million.
    • Besides, hardly any investments have been made to make crop cutting experiment reliable and timely. 
    • States do not have human power even to conduct half of the targeted CCEs.
    • The way officials conduct CCE has been another bone of contention. PMFBY guidelines say officials must use mobile-based technology with GPS stamping to improve transparency and quality of CCEs. However many states do not have the required number of smart phones. 
  • Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.
  • Data constraints:-
    • With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies
  • State governments:-
    • The reason for the very low payout of claims is that few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.
    • Most states failed to provide smart phones to revenue staff to capture and upload data of crop cutting, which continues to come with enormous delay.
  • There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages.
  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss: 
    • The sample size in each village was not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of crop losses.
    • In many cases, district or block level agricultural department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
    • There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling
    • Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment:
    • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.
    • Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium.
    • Delay in processing of claims is the reason PMFBY is losing favour with farmers. So far, insurance companies have settled only 45 per cent of the PMFBY claims made over the last three crop seasons. 
  • High actuarial premium rates
    • Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates
    • PMFBY guidelines say the notification must be issued at least a month in advance. But this has not been the case.
  • Massive profits for insurance companies
    • If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.
    • There have been farmers protests in various states against compulsory coverage of loanee farmers under this scheme. Farmer activists fear that this scheme might end up benefitting insurance companies more than the farmers.
    • No sufficient grievance redressal.
  • Coverage only for loanee farmers:
    • PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers
  • Poor capacity to deliver: 
    • There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
    • Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY.
    • There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers.
    • Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.
    • Delayed notification by state governments
  • PMFBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.
  • However, merely increasing the budget allocation for PMFBY scheme might not help the farmers.
  • CAG report:-
    • Private companies are not properly monitored and premium subsidy is released to them simply on the basis of affidavits provided by these companies without checking actual situation on the ground.

Way forward:-

  • There is an urgent need to link the insurance database with Core Banking Solution (CBS) so that when premium is deducted from a farmer’s bank account, the bank sends him a message informing about the premium, sum insured and name of insurance company.
  • There is a need for a total insurance package like seed insurance through replanting guarantee programme, crop cycle insurance, prepaid insurance card etc
  • Insurance unit has to be brought down to individual farm level. Instead of bidding every crop season, it should be done once in three years so that insurance firms gain confidence to create infrastructure down to the level of village.
  • Use of drone and low-orbit satellites in place of traditional crop-cutting experiments could also lower payouts
  • Making claims payment fast and transparent
    • There should be strict compliance of timelines with regard to the process of claim settlement to provide adequate and timely compensation to farmers.
  • Danger of discouraging mixed cropping and crop diversification
    • A limited number of crops are notified by states under PMFBY. This can act as an impediment to crop diversification.
    • PMFBY will have to make insurance relevant to farmers by including more and more crops under notification and by allowing insurance for mixed cropping.
  • Improve scheme monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism
    • Toll-free number should serve as a one-stop solution for crop insurance. Farmers should be able to avail of a single window that is accountable to them for all aspects of the scheme.
  • Coverage of losses expanded:-
    • Coverage of tenant and sharecropper farmers should increase
  • Awareness:-
    • Farmers must be informed before deducting crop insurance premium. They must be given a proper insurance policy document, with all relevant details.
  • Capacity building:-
    • Panchayati Raj Institutions and farmers need to be involved at different stages of implementation.
    • Robust assessment of crop loss should be done through capacity building of state governments, involvement of PRIs and farmers in loss assessment, auditing and multi-level checking to ensure credibility of data and testing incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.

Topic– Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

2) Discuss the aim and the working of the CITES. Also discuss the criticism faced by the organization.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Why this question

The international trade of animals and plants stands as one of the biggest threats to many endangered species worldwide. Illegal wildlife trade is approx. worth  USD 175 billion annually. India is unfortunately one of the biggest victims of wildlife trafficking. CITES is an important international institution working towards  and it is important to discuss its aim, structure, functioning as well as issues surrounding them.

Directive word

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 aim and the working of the CITES. Also  it wants us to discuss the criticism faced by the organization.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about the nature of CITES and its aim- CITES  is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.  Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN

Body-

  1. Discuss its working of the organization- CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances, Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival,  Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
  2. Discuss the criticism faced by CITES- e.g many of its member countries lack the strong governance needed to effectively enforce CITES restrictions; Treaty is often criticised for being open to influence by political or emotional motives; The “classic” approach to wildlife protection – law enforcement and protected areas – is holding back conservation in developing countries etc.

Conclusion- sum up your discussion by presenting CITES achievements and the form a balanced opinion on the overall importance and role of CITES.

Background:-

  • The international trade of animals and plants stands as one of the biggest threats to many endangered species worldwide. Illegal wildlife trade (including illegal logging) is thought to generate up to USD$175bn annually, making it almost as lucrative as drugs-, arms- and people-trafficking.
  • The sole global body regulating this trade is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES:-

  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
  • Working:-
    • CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
    • The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
    • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
    • Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
    • This Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
    • For the most part it is the member nations that must enforce CITES regulations in their own countries, although the CITES Standing Committee does have a mechanism to recommend trade suspensions on countries that are persistent offenders.
    • In this year’s CoP member governments were asked to explicitly incorporate corruption into their policies against wildlife trafficking.
    • CITES has been widely regarded as one of the most effective international environmental treaties in existence. Through a permitting system implemented between its 183 member states, the Treaty protects over 35,000 species of plants and animals.
    • A study by TRAFFIC was presented which showcased a 96 per cent drop in the amount of legal ivory openly for sale in Bangkok’s markets subsequent to their inclusion in the CITES-led National Ivory Action Plan process. 

Criticism:-

  • Some maintain that the focus of CITES on the classic approach to wildlife protection law enforcement and protected areas is holding back conservation in developing countries.
  • In 2014, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced a ban of international trade in specimens of five shark species and all manta ray species, including meat, gills and fins. However, the ruling is not enforceable and the trade in sharkfin and manta gill-rakers for TCM soups, potions and other absurd concoctions still goes on. 
  • CITES simply cannot force member countries to take necessary action to combat a highly organised criminal system worth tens of billions of dollars.
  • The recent CITES meeting at Johannesburg did not implement a recommendation to impose sanctions on Madagascar, instead gave the country more time to clean up its act. 
  • Many of its member countries lack the strong governance needed to effectively enforce CITES restrictions.
  • The decisions made by the Parties of CITES are intended to be based on scientific evidence, but the Treaty is often criticised for being open to influence by political or emotional motives.
    • In 2010, for example, the commercially valuable Atlantic Bluefin tuna was denied CITES protection, a decision widely believed to have been influenced by economic self-interest and politics. 
  • CITES has rarely produced results for protected populations on its own. On the occasions where CITES protected species have shown significant improvement, it has almost always been part of a combination of efforts such as habitat restoration, captive breeding, community engagement in species and habitat management and law enforcement.

Topic– Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

3) Despite people’s faith in the police becoming precarious, the pace of police reforms is dismal. Critically comment.(250 words)

EPW

Why this question

This article discusses the need for police reforms in India which has been repeated ad infinitum by several committees in India. Police is still governed by archaic pre independence laws and practices. The need for police reforms is huge, and this question helps you in preparing for it.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the need for police reforms in the country, a peek into the recommendations of committees as well as court’s regarding police reforms, and finally the way forward, along with emphasis on the need for police reforms.

Directive word

Critically comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Critically comment is also forming opinion on main points but in the end you have to provide a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that while governance reforms has taken place in several departments to keep them in sync with the needs of the time, police is bereft of such reforms which has led to the clamouring for such reforms.

Body –

  • Explain the need for police reforms – role of police not in tune with the needs of the society, laws are from pre independence era which needs to be replaced, HR issues, administrative issues, lack of accountability, poor internal management systems etc . Discuss the need for police reforms as highlighted in the recent “Status of Policing Report” 2018
  • Give a peek into the history of police reforms by talking about the suggestions made in the past – By Soli Sorabjee committee, Julio Ribero committee, SC in Prakash Singh vs UoI and Niti Ayog.
  • Examine why such reforms have not been implemented so far and comment on the need for police reforms in the country

Conclusion – In the end, give way forward for implementation of police reforms.

Background:-

  • The “Status of Policing in India” 2018 report which covers six major areas like the crime rate, disposal of cases by police and courts, diversity in the police force, infrastructure, prison data, and disposal of cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/women and children finds that in all these fields police performance weighs in against the marginalised and the minorities. So the people trust in police is abysmal.

Why police needs to be restructured and modernized :-

  • An overburdened police force :-
    • Police force is over burdened especially at lower levels where constabulary is forced to work continuously 14-16 hrs and also for 7 days a week. It adversely impacts their performance.
    • While the  sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016 when the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons. 
    • 86% of the state police comprises of constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service. This could weaken their incentive to perform well. 
  • Improving police infrastructure 
    • Failure of police infrastructure like vehicles, weaponry. Also audits have found that the POLNET network is non-functional in various states.
    • For example, an audit of the Gujarat police force reported that the network had not been  operationalised till October 2015 due to non-installation of essential infrastructure, such as remote subscriber units and generator sets.
    • Funds dedicated for modernisation of infrastructure are typically not utilised fully. For example, in 2015-16, only 14% of such funds were used by the states.
  • Police accountability :-
    • Police forces have the authority to exercise force to enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. However, this power may be misused in several ways. For example, in India, various kinds of complaints  are madeagainst the police including complaints of unwarranted arrests, unlawful searches, torture and custodial rapes.
  • Poor quality of investigation:-
    • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions have been low. So it shows the poor quality of investigation.
    • The Law Commission and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that state police officers often neglect investigation because they are understaffed and overburdened with various kinds of tasks. 
    • Further, they lack the training and the expertise required to  conduct professional investigations.
    • They also have insufficient legal knowledge and the forensic and cyber infrastructure available to them is both inadequate and outdated. In light of this, police forces may use force and torture to secure evidence.
    • Crime investigations may be influenced by political or other extraneous considerations
  • Forensic labs:-
    • Expert bodies have however said that these laboratories are short of funds and qualified staff.Further, there is indiscriminate referencing of cases to these labs resulting in high pendency.
  • Lack of co-ordination between centre and states is matter related to maintenance of law & order results in ineffective functioning of police force.
  • Police force is not in the position to tackle present problems of cyber crime, global terrorism, naxalism because of structural weaknesses.
  • Prevalence of Rank system within the police force results in abuse of powerby top level executive over lower level personnel.
  • According to a recent estimate, crime, terrorism and external threats take a huge toll on economic growth and that these cost India 9 per cent of its GDP, which is a very high figure (China lost only 4 per cent, Japan 3 per cent).
  • Without the police ensuring good law and order in the country, the other services would find it difficult to operate.
  • To transform the colonial police structure of the country into a progressive, modern force sensitive to the democratic aspirations of the people.
  • To eliminate the undue political interference. The police of today are victims of politicization as well as criminalization.
  • To instil the confidence of the people in the institution of police by making police more people friendly.
  • The security of the society and the welfare of the people is dependent on the efficiency of the police.

Police reforms done so far not sufficient :-

  • The Supreme Court gave a slew of directions to ensure that there are no distortions in the appointment of Director General of Police (DGP) of the state.
    • It laid down that the states shall send their proposals three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent DGP
    • That the UPSC shall prepare a panel of three officers suitable for elevation to the post of DGP; that the state shall appoint one of the persons from the panel only
    • That there would be no appointments of Acting DGP
    • That a person appointed as DGP should continue to hold the post for a reasonable period “beyond the date of superannuation”
    • That the UPSC should as far as practicable empanel officers who have got clear two years of service, giving due weightage to merit and seniority
    • That “any legislation/rule framed by any of the states or the Central Government running counter to the direction shall remain in abeyance”
  • Justice Thomas Committee (2010) expressed its dismay over the total indifference to the issue of reforms in the functioning of police being exhibited by the states.
  • Government of India (GoI) came up with the concept of SMART police in 2014 i.e.., police that would be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, tech-savvy and trained. There was, however, no effort to make the concept a reality. 
  • States have constituted security commissions, as directed by the Supreme Court, but their composition has been diluted and their charter curtailed. 

Reforms needed:-

  • Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India :-
    • The Supreme Court ordered the centre and states to set up authorities to lay down guidelines for police functioning, evaluate police performance, decide postings and transfers, and receive complaints of police misconduct.
    • The court also required that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and postings.
  • Investigation :-
    • Experts have recommended that states must have their own specialized investigation units within the police force that are responsible for crime investigation.
  • Independent Complaints Authority :-
    • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Supreme Court have observed that there is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into cases of police misconduct.
    • Example is that of the New York City Police which has a Civilian Complaint Review Board comprising of civilians appointed by local government bodies and the police commissioner to investigate into cases of police misconduct.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that one way to reduce the burden of  the police forces could be to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions(such as traffic management, disaster rescue and relief, and issuing of court summons) to government departments or private agencies.
  • Padmanabhaiah commission :-
    • It has also been recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills given they need to deal with the public regularly.
  • Housing:
    • Importance of providing housing to the constabulary (and generally to the police force) to improve their efficiency and incentive to accept remote postings has also been emphasised by expert bodies, such as the National Police Commission.
  • Community policing:-
    • Janamaithri Suraksha in Kerala 
      • This project is an initiative of the Kerala Police to facilitate greater accessibility, close interaction and better understanding between the police and local communities. For example, Beat Constables are required to know at least one family member of every family living in his beat area.
    • Courts:-
      • The Madras High Court has said that the state government should contemplate giving policemen a day off in a week like other government officials in order to spend time with their families. The court suggested to introduce an 8-hour, three-shift system for police personnel. It will help them rejuvenate themselves and relieve them from stress.
    • Evidence based policing is gaining credibility day by day – Indian police force must be exposed to it.
    • Second ARC recommended that the government should declare certain crimes as “federal” and entrust their investigation to a Central agency.
    • Police need to have the operational freedom to carry out their responsibilities professionally, and satisfactory working conditions, while being held accountable for poor performance or misuse of power.

 


General Studies – 3


Topic– Indian Economy – Issues

4) A plethora of regulations are already in use to combat fugitive economic crimes in India. Examine the legislative void that Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill is trying to fill and analyze its effectiveness?(250 words)

epw

Why this question

In recent years a lot of economic offenders have fled from the country and escaped the judicial system of the country. The investigative agencies rue the fact that the existing legislations are ill equipped to deal with the scenario where the offenders flee the country. The question is based on examining what kind of legislative void exists in the country and how FEOB will improve the situation.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss whether any legislative void exists  in the country. Thereafter, we need to discuss the provisions of the Bill and analyze how the Bill would help us in dealing with economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Moti.

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 .

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

Directive word

Introduction – Highlight the background in which FEOB has been introduced in Parliament.

Body

  • Examine whether any legislative void exists in the country. Argue from both side of the debate and give a fair and balanced conclusion. Mention that the absence of offenders during investigations poses problems for the probing agencies, and discuss the deterrent effect that the legislation creates. On the other side, we can bring out that the implementation of existing laws PMLA etc can only serve the purpose as argued in EPW article
  • Bring out the main features of the Bill and what the Bill is trying to achieve – discuss the expected impact first which is expected to re-establish the rule of law as the accused will be forced to return to India and face trial for his offences. This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions. Discuss how this is expected to be done.
  • Examine the Bill from constitutional, practical, legal perspectives and how the Bill would stand the test of time.

Conclusion – Give your view on whether the Bill would help in resolving the issue and what should be the way forward.

 

Background:-

  • The Government’s move to enact fugitive economic offenders bill 2018 comes in the wake of several high profile industrialists like Vijay Mallya, and diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi duping the banking system and evading the process of law in India by staying outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

Plethora of regulations already exist to combat fugitive economic crimes :-

  • The existing laws on economic offences (such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, among others) provide for confiscation as a punishment for the offence committed, but no deterrence against absconding from Indian jurisdiction for the accused, and that the Fugitive economic offenders bill will address this gap. 
  • There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings. The absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences
    • First, it hampers investigation in criminal cases
    • Second, it wastes precious time of courts of law
    • Third, it undermines the rule of law in India. So the bill ensures to fill these gaps.

Fugitive economic offenders bill :-

  • It is a bill to empower the authorities to confiscate and sell assets of economic offenders, especially bank fraudsters and scamsters who have fled the country
  • The Bill paves the way for confiscation of all assets, including benami assets, both within and outside the country, of declared economic offenders.
  • The proposed law will apply for economic offences with monetary value in excess of Rs.100 crore.
  • All cases under the proposed law will be tried under the PMLA Act and the administrator will sell the fugitive’s properties to pay off the lenders.
  • The proposed law will have an overriding effect over all other pieces of legislation.The offender will not be able to pursue any civil cases in India.
  • The Bill aims to curb the practice of evading the criminal prosecution by the economic offenders who flee from the country to stay out of the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
  • The Bill will give the right to the government to confiscate the property of such economic offenders in India and abroad. The Bill will also be applicable on the proxy-owned properties of the economic offenders.
  • The Bill defines the economic offenders as those against whom a legal warrant has been issued, but they refuse to adhere to the summons of the legal authorities.
  • The law balances itself with a provision that allows the accused to file an appeal in the High Court to state their case.
  • The Bill keeps the banks and other financial institutions at the Centre and seeks to help them recover the amount. The Bill will only be used for economic offences over Rs 100 crores.
  • The Bill makes provisions for a Court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender

Merits :-

  • Strong deterrent to people fleeing the country after committing a crime.
  • The bill is expected to plug gaps and provide a higher deterrent effecton economic offenders.
  • Cases of economic offences involving non-repayment of bank loans impact the financial health of the banking sectorand erode the government’s declared fight against corruption. This can be checked now.
  • The Bill is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences.
  • This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
  • It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad, would coerce the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of Courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences.

Demerits :-

  • The blanket ban on offenders contesting the confiscation of their properties through civil suits, sale of property without trial, and deterioration in value of seized assets and finding suitable buyers are some of the concerns around the new law.
  • An absolute ban is contrary to the basic tenets of justice and fair play, besides being in violation of the Indian Constitution.
  • Sale of property of a fugitive economic offender without adjudicating after a proper trialwhether or not the said person is actually liable for the offence, would amount to violation of the settled principle under the Constitution that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty. Anyone can be prosecuted or property can be acquired without the person being found guilty. These provisions are against the fundamental rights.
  • Being an ex post facto regulation, FEOA cannot resolve the ongoing fiascos, which took place before the new act came into being.
  • Assets confiscated by enforcement agencies and courts are termed as distressed properties, and seldom find buyers.
    • A case in point is Sahara’s Amby Valley, which despite efforts by Bombay high court’s official liquidator has been unable to find suitable buyers for almost a year. 
  • Experts say that flaws in the proposed legislation could be used to challenge the law in courts.
    • The provision that empowers any court to disentitle any person from putting forward or defending any civil action if that he/she is declared as a fugitive economic offender is seen as draconian. A challenge may be made against such provision on the ground that it is disproportionate and arbitrary.
  • Legal experts say the draft Bill that is in public domain does not provide for a situation where the confiscated property is in excess of the claims against the fugitive offender.

Way ahead:-

  • To avoid failed attempts at sale the bill should provide for time limits for disposal and encashment of property, separate limits for movable-immovable property and running business, and any property which would be subject to valuation loss over a period of time must be disposed of quickly.
  • Even key managerial persons can be declared fugitives, if a court has issued warrant against them. To further strengthen it, the bill should separately provide for dealing with siphoning off of funds, round-tripping, and employing any scheme or edifice to cause loss.
  • The capacity of our legal system needs to get better. The issue of lack of time, and domain knowledge and expertise needs to be taken care of.
  • Government needs to focus a lot on how the rules are made and framed in a manner that they reflect the true spirit of the law.
  • Government needs to reach out to different countries with whom we don’t have as yet the arrangement to have enforcement of the provisions under the law. We need to really expand that list to make sure that very few countries are left as a matter of fact no country should be left out of the purview of the contracting laws.

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

5) Several factors have contributed to the slow progress in India’s biodiesel development programme. Critically examine.(250 words)

Reference

Reference

Pib

Why this question

Biodiesel and ethanol are one the most important economically as well as technologically feasible alternatives to fossil fuel use in automobiles. India has not realized the potential in both these fronts. Here we have to concentrate on biodiesel. And it is important to discuss the reasons behind the slow progress in India’s biodiesel programme.

Directive word

Examine- Here we have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any. Based on our discussion we have to form an opinion on the issue.

Key demand of the question

The question wants us to dig deep into India’s BIOFUEL Programme and discuss what are the factors responsible for the slow progress in achieving the desired objectives of the Biodiesel part of the programme. Then we have to form an opinion on the question accordingly.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few lines about India’s Biofuel policy, 2009 and it’s biodiesel component- its target/ mandate of 20% blending of ethanol and biodiesel etc. mention the failure to achieve the set targets.

Body-

Mention that In India, there is a vast potential for the production of biodiesel from Jatropha and the Indian Beech-Karanj, as they occur in plenty in forests and wastelands.Discuss in points the factors responsible for the slow progress of the biodiesel programme. E.g  an acute shortage of Jatropha seeds- due to very poor Jatropha seed yield; limited availability of wasteland and high plantation and maintenance costs rendering biodiesel projects unviable; Trial results with High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of Jatropha for production of biodiesel have not been satisfactory; thus because of limited availability of biodiesel and the volatile nature of its prices, the speed of blending had suffered a setback; higher gestation period of biodiesel crops (3–5 years for Jatropha) results in a longer payback period and creates additional problems for farmers where state support is not readily available; sub-optimal processing and marketing infrastructure and under-developed distribution channels; several existing biodiesel plants shifted operations to adopt multiple feedstock technology; several existing biodiesel plants shifted operations to adopt multiple feedstock technology etc.

Conclusion– Bring out the importance of the success of biodiesel programme in terms of India’s primary reliance on diesel, for transportation and to achieve energy security and reduce energy imports. Write in few lines the way-forward.

Background:-

  • With its domestic crude oil output stagnating and the demand for oil continuing to rise at an ever-increasing pace, India has an opportunity to use substitutes of fossil fuels for both, economic and environmental benefits. Ethanol and biodiesel are some such options.
  • National Policy on Biofuels has a provision for blending mandate of  20% Ethanol and Bio-diesel by 2017.

India’s biodiesel development programme:-

  • In India, there is a vast potential for the production of biodiesel from Jatrophaand Pongamia pinnata as they occur in plenty in forests and wastelands.
  • In December 2009, the Union government launched the National Biodiesel Mission (NBM) identifying Jatrophaas the most suitable tree-borne oilseed for biodiesel production to help achieve a proposed biodiesel blend of 20 per cent with conventional diesel by 2017.
  • Biodiesel procurement started in 2014 and a pilot programme was started in August 2015. It has been extended to six states.

Why there has been slow progress in this programme:-

  • Acute shortage of Jatropha seeds:-
    • Much has been done to initiate large-scale cultivation, increasing Jatrophayield and switching to substitutes. However, much of this has not yielded successful results.
  • Moreover, several existing biodiesel plants shifted operations to adopt multiple feedstock technology.
    • For instance, they use used cooking oils, animal fats and imported crude vegetable oils to produce biodiesel while private producers are encouraged to sell more biodiesel directly to end-users provided they meet the prescribe Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms.
  • Unviable projects:-
    • Several corporations, petroleum companies and private companies have entered into Memoranda of Understanding with state governments to establish and promote Jatrophaplantations on government-owned wastelands or through contract farming with small and medium farmers.
    • However, due to constraints like limited availability of wasteland and high plantation and maintenance costs, biodiesel projects became unviable.
  • Trial results with High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of Jatrophafor production of biodiesel have not been satisfactory.
  • Consequently, because of limited availability of biodiesel and the volatile nature of its prices, the speed of blending had suffered a setback. 
  • Difficulty in initiating large-scale cultivation of Jatropha:-
    • The higher gestation period of biodiesel crops (3–5 years for Jatropha) results in a longer payback period and creates additional problems for farmers where state support is not readily available.
  • An ICAR study also points out that the Jatropha-based biodiesel production programme is bogged down with several obstacles like slow progress in planting, sub-optimal processing and marketing infrastructure and under-developed distribution channels.

Way forward:-

  • A substantial research thrust on the development of second and third generation feedstocks is crucial to address the future bio energy needs of the country.
    • There is an urgent need to undertake research by public sector Oil Manufacturing Companies to achieve higher yield of feedstock, developing short duration crops  and jatropha cultivation through planned varietal improvement programmes, particularly in a few selected  areas of the country to establish its viability.
  • The principal changes in policy required are a multi-feed feedstock approach, an attractive incentive mechanism, both at the feedstock stage as well as biodiesel production stage, and research and development for increasing the yield from feedstock.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “ Earth’s lithosphere and rocks”

6) Explain the three major groups of rocks along with their sub types which are found in Earth’s lithosphere?(250 words)

GC Leong – Ch2: Earth’s crust

Key demand of the question

The question is straightforward in its demand. It expects us to explain the major categories of rocks along with their subtypes. We need to explain the formation, origin, characteristics and subtypes of these rocks.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that earth is made up of different types of rocks, each different from the other.

Body – Explain the origin, formation and characteristics of Igneous rocks along with its subtypes – Plutonic and Volcanic; sedimentary rocks and its subtypes – mechanically, organically and chemically formed sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks. Give examples for each.

Background:-

 

Major groups of rocks found in Earth’s lithosphere:-

  • All the three types of rock namely Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic make up the Earth’s lithosphere, the outermost layer. The lithosphere is solid rock. Sedimentary rocks are the most abundant rock only on the surface of the Earth, but igneous and metamorphic are abundant deeper into the mantle.
  • Igneous rocks:-
    • Igneous rocks come in many varieties. However, all igneous rocks began as molten rock (magma) which cooled and crystallized into minerals. Igneous rocks form when molten rock (magma or lava) cools and solidifies.
    • Igneous rocks may look different because of two factors :-
      • They may have cooled at different rates and the mother magma (original melted rock) was of a different composition. Variations in these two factors have created many different types of igneous rocks.
    • When the magma cools at different rates, it creates different sized minerals. Quick cooling magmas have small minerals (with the exception of obsidian, which is actually composed of silica, but has no crystalline structure).
    • Basalt, for example, has small minerals, most of which can only be seen under a microscope.
    • Magma that cools slowly creates rocks like granite which have large minerals that can be seen with the naked eye.
    • When lava cools very quickly, no crystals form and the rock looks shiny and glasslike. Sometimes gas bubbles are trapped in the rock during the cooling process, leaving tiny holes and spaces in the rock
    • Examples of this rock type include basalt and obsidian.
  • Sedimentary rocks :-
    • Sedimentary rocks originate when particles settle out of water or air, or by precipitation of minerals from water. They accumulate in layers. Generally, sedimentary rock is fairly soft and may break apart or crumble easily.
    • However, sedimentary rocks may also form in dry, desert environments or in association with glaciers.
    • Four main processes lithify sedimentary rock:
      • Cementation – Large solid sediments are then bound together by substances like silica, iron oxide and calcium carbonate.
      • Compression and Compaction – fine sediments are compacted together as overlying sediments and water increase the pressure above them.
      • Chemical Action – Dissolved minerals in water may precipitate out of water, or may be left behind as a result of evaporation.
      • Biological Processes – Many forms of aquatic life like clams, coral, and diatoms die and settle to the bottom of the water. Over time they can accumulate and become compressed into a solid mass.
    • Examples of this rock type include conglomerate and limestone.
  • Metamorphic rocks are igneous, sedimentary, or preexisting metamorphic rocks that have been changed by great pressures and temperatures within the crust and upper mantle of the Earth.
    • Metamorphic rocks result when existing rocks are changed by heat, pressure, or reactive fluids, such as hot, mineral-laden water.
      • Recrystallization – as a result of intense heat and pressure, many rocks will form new crystals, without actually melting.
      • Foliation – this is a layered arrangement of crystals in metamorphic rock. The more intense the heat and pressure, the thicker the foliation.
      • Distorted Structure – many metamorphic rocks display a curving or folding of foliations as a result of exposure to intense pressures.
      • Increased Density – metamorphisized rocks often have a higher density as a result of being exposed to extreme pressures.
      • Contact Metamorphism – when magma (intrusive rock) comes into contact with rock beneath the earth’s surface, the heat metamorphisizes the surrounding rocks.
    • The temperatures were not enough to melt the rock, otherwise, an igneous rock would have formed.
    • The rocks that result from these processes often have ribbon like layers and may have shiny crystals, formed by minerals growing slowly over time, on their surface.
    • Examples of this rock type include gneiss and marble.

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

7) India is the world’s fastest growing domestic aviation market and regional connectivity is critical if this high growth is to be sustained. In this context, discuss the achievements of UDAN-RCS and the challenges lying in front of it.(250 words)

Yojana Magazine, July 2018 issue.

Reference

Why this question

UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme has been quite successful in improving regional connectivity in India, which fares very poor compared to the metropolitan connectivity. It is therefore essential to underline the achievements of the scheme as well as the challenges faced by it.

Directive word

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 achievements of the UDAN-RCS and what are the challenges lying ahead of it.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few lines about the concentration of most of the air-traffic in India at metropolitan airports and write a few lines about the UDAN-RCS- e.g launched in 2017; its aim is to “enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development” etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss the achievements of the scheme. E.g After two rounds of UDAN bidding, routes from following Airports/ Heliports awarded ; • Unserved Airports 56 • Underserved Airports 17 • Heliports 31 ; Till date RCS operations from 30 Airports have been commenced etc.
  2. Discuss the challenges lying ahead. E.g Not all the underserved and unserved airports which were envisaged to become operational have been revived; all the routes for which Airlines had placed their bids have not been started and there is operationally no helicopter service yet; some of the airlines which have participated in the bidding under the  scheme have little previous experience or short on funding and seem to be struggling with the economics and logistics of offering connectivity from remote locations; new number of occupied seats on some routes along with high cancellation rates; till now there has been no scheduled helicopter services anywhere in the country so norms have to be laid down from scratch; soaring oil prices and only a three-year window of viability gap funding available to operators etc.

Conclusion– sum up your discussion in a few lines and form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the above issue.

Background:-

  • India is the fastest growing aviation market in the world now and majority of air traffic is still concentrated at airports in its biggest cities. To sustain high growth there is a need to launch flights to tier 2 and 3 cities and ensuring that fares remain affordable.
  • This not only allows redundant airport infrastructure to become useable but also provides air connectivity to businesses and individuals residing in India’s hinterland. Since the ‘UDAN’ scheme was launched, this is precisely what has been happening.

UDAN scheme:-

  • Small towns, inaccessible hilly regions and the north-east of the country-all these territories are being slowly brought onto the aviation map under the UDAN scheme.
  • Under the UDAN scheme, the state government and the centre are providing subsidy as per a predefined formula as Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
  • Under the VGF there is subsidy for 50% of the seats on each flight, exclusive route monopoly for the airline for three years and host of other concessions.
  • The airline operator is bound to cap fares for the UDAN seats at Rs 2500 per seat per hour or for about 500 kms of flying.

Achievements:-

  • The success of UDAN can be gauged from the fact that in 12 months from the date of launch, the Shimla-Delhi flight has carried about 12,000 passengers in all with average load factor of 90% (number of occupied seats from total available seats).
  • Not just ghost airports, even some airports which have existing flight operations but in a limited way, are seen benefitting under the UDAN scheme.
  • It could lead to development of smaller cities as faster air connectivity will attract infrastructure & investment
  • It could ease passenger pressure from Railways & Roads.
  • It may provide major boost to Tourism industry in India
  • Smaller Airlines could successfully compete with bigger airlines.
  • Moreover, of the 35 crore middle class citizens, only 8 crore people fly. Capping of fares, enhancing connectivity will lead to an increase in the number of citizens who can fly and can take some burden off railways.
  • It will give impetus to India’s ambition of becoming third largest aviation market by 2020
  • Because of RCS Companies have no competition. Companies can work with a pricing model and develop a route and are protected from competitive pressures. Demand can be generated by developing capacities and stimulating the market with a good pricing strategy,

Challenges:-

  • Not all the underserved and unserved airports which were envisaged to become operational have been revived, not all the routes which airlines had placed bids have been started and there is still no helicopter service under the UDAN scheme.
    • None of the 75 helicopter routes connecting hilly terrain and islands have commenced yet
  • Airports not ready:-
    • Of the 56 unserved airports that the government planned to add to the aviation map in a year, only 16 are ready, and 10 of the 25 under-served airports have been developed.
  • Issues with smaller players:-
    • Smaller players like Air Odisha and Air Deccan have struggled to raise sufficient capital for their operations, hire trained manpower and lease planes, and have slowed down the implementation of the scheme. 
  • Infrastructure constraints, too, have checked the pace of implementation of the scheme.
    • Forty unserved and 15 underserved airports are not ready yet for operations.
    • Many airports in round two are unserved [ie where no operations exist] and it is difficult to start flights there because virtually nothing exists there. For example, the airport at Darbhanga is operated by Indian Air Force, where the runway is capable of handling only IAF jets and not commercial aircraft like a Q400.
  • Some airports owned by State governments and private players have been hesitant in participating as there is little for them to gain with RCS flights exempt from paying landing and parking charges and States required to provide land, security and fire services free of cost.
  • Bigger airports have struggled to allocate slots for RCS flights:-
    • In Phase I, Delhi and Mumbai airports could grant only half of the 20 slots sought from each of them by the Ministry.
    • Airport officials say the smaller planes carrying 20-40 passengers take more time on the runway affecting the operational efficiency.
  • Funding issues:-
    • Some of the airlines which came alive under UDAN have little previous experience, are short on funding and seem to be struggling with the economics and logistics of offering connectivity from remote locations.
  • Quality of service:-
    • Then even the quality of service under UDAN is not quite upto the mark. As per DGCA data, some flights had the highest cancellation rates among all domestic airlines and naturally, maximum complaints from passengers.
  • The operators who have bagged the UDAN routes of their choice may find it tough to sustain these after the Viability Gap Funding (VGP) period of three years ends, especially since oil prices are already very volatile.
  • Long term viability:-
    • To make UDAN flights more attractive the government has already begun allowing waiver of the three year exclusivity clause, if the operator working the route does not object, but still concerns on long term viability remain.
  • There are 476 airstrips in the country out of which 90 are in usable state, among which 76 are operational currently. It can be challenging to develop so many airports in the span of 10 years.

Way forward:-

  • Focus of UDAN-3 would be on tourist destinations and Buddhist Circuits etc.
  • As requested by few States UDAN International connectivity to ASEAN/SAARC Countries would be explored.