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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 SEPTEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 24 SEPTEMBER 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– The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country.

1) Discuss the contribution of India to war efforts during world war 1? How was India awarded by the British for war efforts?(250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question

The article highlights the role played by Indian soldiers in liberating Palestine from turkish hold during world war 1. The contribution of Indian soldiers to war efforts on World war 1 is often unrecognised and has come to the forefront only in recent years. This makes it one of the lesser asked questions, yet quite important for history section of GS1.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to answer the following points for this question

  • The situation in India at the time of world war and the response of INC to India’s participation in world war 1
  • The detailed summary of how Indian army contributed to war efforts in World war 1
  • The response of the British post the war – whether they made any efforts for granting self government to India post the war

Directive word

Discuss – Here, your discussion should bring out the situation prevailing in India during world war 1, the conditions for support if any, and the detailed contribution of Indian soldiers to world war 1.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – mention that when war broke out in 1914, India was in a state of growing political unrest. The Indian National Congress had gone from being a group that simply discussed issues to a body that was pushing for more self-government. Before the war started, the Germans had spent a great deal of time and energy trying to stir up an anti-British movement in India. Many shared the view that if Britain got involved in a crisis somewhere in the world, Indian separatists would use this as an opportunity to advance their cause.

Body

  • Mention that these fears were unfounded. When war was declared on August 4th, India rallied to the cause. Those with influence within India believed that the cause of Indian independence would best be served by helping out Britain in whatever capacity India could – including the Indian National Congress.
  • Highlight the contribution of Indian soldiers in world war 1 – India made a huge contribution to Britain’s war effort. It sent staggering numbers of volunteers to fight and die on behalf of the allied forces. Almost 1.5 million Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men from regions such as the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar volunteered in the Indian Expeditionary Force , which saw fighting on the Western Front, in East Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Gallipoli. Volunteering offered a chance to break through the caste system, because becoming a soldier paid well and meant becoming part of the ‘warrior’ caste, which gave high status. However, of these men, around 50,000 died, 65,000 were wounded, and 10,000 were reported missing, while 98 Indian army nurses were killed. The country also supplied 170,000 animals, 3,7 million tonnes of supplies, jute for sandbags, and a large loan (the equivalent of about £2 billion today) to the British government.
  • Discuss how British government “rewarded” India for the war efforts – government of India Act. Mention that because no substantial steps were taken for self government, Gandhi responded with khilafat and non Cooperation movement

Conclusion – Mention that Indian contribution is often unrecognised and it is only recently that India has started creating awareness of the role played by it in both world wars.

Background:-

  • The First World War (1914–18) was a momentous event in world history. It also left a deep impact on India, which was then under the British rule.

Contribution of India to world war 1:-

  • Volunteering:-
    • India made a huge contribution to Britain’s war effort. It sent staggering numbers of volunteers to fight and die on behalf of the allied forces.
    • Almost 1.5 million Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men from regions such as the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar volunteered in the Indian Expeditionary Force , which saw fighting on the Western Front, in East Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Gallipoli. 
    • Volunteering offered a chance to break through the caste system, because becoming a soldier paid well and meant becoming part of the ‘warrior’ caste, which gave high status. 
  • Military:-
    • India contributed with more soldiers than Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa combined. In fact, every sixth soldier fighting for the Biritsh Empire was from the Indian subcontinent. Nearly 800,000 combatants took part in the war.
    • Indian troops of the 15th Cavalry Brigade formed the largest component of allied forces that fought and liberated Palestine from four centuries of despotic Turkish rule.
    • It was Indian jawans(junior soldiers) who stopped the German advance at Ypres in the autumn of 1914, soon after the war broke out, while the British were still recruiting and training their own forces.
  • Financial help:-
    • India provided Rs 457 crore or about ₤305 million to the war effort at the time. The contributions made were in the nature of military expenditure for five years, financial contribution to the British treasury, including Indian war loans, payment of interest on war loans, and contributions to various war funds, etc. 
  • Role of princely states:-
    • The Maharaja of Mysore gave Rs 50 lakh towards the Indian war fund
    • The Maharaja of Scindia gave to the government an interest-free loan of Rs 50 lakh. There were numerous other contributions in cash and kind made by the Indian princes
  • Lives lost:-
    • 53,486 Indian soldiers lost their lives, 64,350 were wounded and 3,762 went missing or were imprisoned
  • Labour:-
    • Not just combatants, there were 43,737 men who worked in the Indian Labour Corps.
  • Ammunition:-
    • Within weeks of the war being declared, India also supplied 70,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 600,000 rifles, motors and machine guns.

How did British reward India :-

·         Indian soldiers won 11 Victoria Cross honours, Britain’s highest military honour. Overall 13,000 medals were won by the Indian Corps.

·         The British Cabinet in 1917, made a historic declaration setting out the goal of British government in India, and the subsequent proposals were contained in Montague–Chelmsford report.

·         However India was not mentioned a single time as a top-of-mind association with the First World War among the 1,215 UK survey respondents.

·         Having made huge sacrifices and demonstrated military valour equal to that of European soldiers, Indians widely expected a transition to self-government  but were dashed by the extension of martial law at the end of the conflict.

·         British belied Indian expectations of self-rule. The oppressors remained oppressors, as demonstrated by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which was committed by a British official in 1919, a few months after the war was over.


Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Climate of India”

2) How far do you agree that the behaviour of the Indian monsoon has been changing due to humanizing landscapes? Comment. (250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the impact that human intervention has had on altering monsoons of India and also requires us to explain how and why those interventions have impacted the monsoons.

Directive word

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. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what humanizing landscape means – Humanizing the landscape can be defined as changing the natural landscape architecture as per requirement of human beings like Urbanization or Industrialization. All these make disturbances in hydrological cycle of atmosphere either reducing or increasing the rate of evaporation and ultimately cause to change the pattern of Indian Monsoon

Body

  • Explain the impact that humanizing landscape has had – bring out the impacts such as destruction of wetlands, deforestation, use of concrete, agriculture, dam construction etc
  • Explain how these factors have impacted the monsoons – explain that Devastation of wetlands in urban areas such as lake or ponds is one of major reason of irregular rain pattern in big cities like Chennai or Srinagar, deforestation has caused changes in carbon budget impacting rainfalls etc

Conclusion – discuss that anthropogenic factors are a major factor leading to climate change.

Background:-

  • The Indian Monsoon is an annual recurring phenomenon that brings vital rain to India. Life in India depends strongly on the monsoon rain and its effects on India’s agriculture.
  • Humanizing landscapes refers to the inference of humans in the natural landscape and changing them to suit our needs. For instance urbanization, industrialization , etc. All these make disturbances in hydrological cycle of atmosphere either reducing or increasing the rate of evaporation and ultimately cause to change the pattern of Indian Monsoon.

Impact on Indian monsoon due to humanizing landscapes :-

  • Due to humanizing landscapes the natural balance has been disturbed. Excessive deforestation, increase in pollution and pollutants, rise of built-up area, global warming, etc. have occurred because of anthropogenic interventions.
  • Increase in the number of condensation nuclei due to increased availability of pollutants and dust particles has led to the urban regions receiving increased rainfall than the rural regions
  • Increased built up area has allowed increased heating of the surface. This increased temperature has caused more vapouration and affected rain patterns
  • Deforestation has had an adverse impact on monsoon.
  • Increased concretization leads to increased run off and less water percolation thereby affecting water cycle and disrupting monsoon cycle.
  • The pressure differences which are vital for monsoonal precipitation have been unbalanced and unpredictable
  • High rise buildings have caused variations in local wind patterns and altered precipitation.
  • Global warming, rise in sea level temperature etc. have made the monsoon erratic and unpredictable. They cause droughts in one region and floods in another. Such extreme whether events have been on the rise primarily due to anthropogenic activities including humanizing landscapes.
  • Devastation of Wetlands:
    • Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification,  flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Devastation of wetlands in urban areas such as 
      lake or ponds is one of major reason of irregular rain pattern in big cities like Chennai or Srinagar. 
  • Concrete Use:
    • Largely use of concrete in urban areas is causes poor recharging of groundwater and 
      change the hydrological cycle of environment which ultimately disturbs the Monsoon system of India. 
  • Agriculture:
    • Large scale use of chemicals and bore well irrigation in agriculture are other examples 
      of humanizing the landscape. 
  • Creation of large dams in hilly areas which have changed the ecological flow of rivers is also an example of humanizing the landscape. 

Other factors which influence Indian monsoon are :-

  • Indian monsoon is very uncertain and yet remains critical to India’s agricultural output and economic density. In the recent years Indian monsoon is changing its behaviour due to numerous factors which include
  • El- Nino:Change in heating and cooling pattern in the Pacific Ocean which is more or less independent of human factors
  • Cloud cover:This is partly due to non-human causes as well as partly due to human causes. Cloud cover over parts of the Indian Ocean affects the monsoon behaviour.
  • Forest cover:Reduction in forest cover due to human exploitation of land resources led to change in climate pattern which in turn is affecting the monsoon pattern.
  • Global warming:This is due to various man-made actions which is affecting the monsoon behaviour by the change in elements responsible for monsoon formation. Differences in heating patterns of Tibetan plateau and Indian Ocean are causing the monsoon change and its seasonability.

General Studies – 2


Topic – Role of civil services in a democracy.

3) One of the neglected areas of reforms of India’s senior civil services relates to the rationalisation of its branching structure and the related debate of generalist vs specialist services. Comment.(250 words)

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Why this question

Civil services in India are in dire need for reforms on various fronts. This article discusses the aspect of inter-services disparity in India higher civil services and discusses the implications of the same as well as how to end this problem practically.

Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.  .

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve into the branching structure and division of India’s higher civil services into generalists and specialists, and express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and bring out the need for reforms in this aspect of civil services.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the need for reform in India’s higher civil services. E.g need to reform method and mode of recruitment and selection, promotion and performance evaluation, tenure and stability, job security and time-bound promotion, lateral entry and equal opportunity etc.

Body-

Discuss the need rationalisation of its branching structure and the related debate of generalist vs specialist services. E.g  The periodic restructuring of individual branches has hardly achieved any objective goal with a long-term reform focus. Essentially, these exercises have been reduced to the rigmarole of inter-service comparison and then trying to ensure career/promotion prospects vis-à-vis other branches, often resulting in increasing the size of the service/branch, and creating a redundant structure and superfluous posts, especially at the senior management level. The result has been that no meaningful or rational end has been achieved, to say nothing of visionary change; Further, as all these services have a theoretical parity with the IAS, the very different reality that actually prevails has a further dampening effect. A recent Government of India study itself has rightly identified that at the national level, the issue of IAS officers occupying most of the senior management-level posts is a cause of deep concern and resentment among other branches; mention that  in this era of highly dynamic social and economic challenges of our country, and also in light of the fact that these challenges are no less humongous or complex than they were at the time of independence etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Background:-

  • The civil services, as a professionally-managed cadre of bureaucrats, has evolved into one of the pivotal institutions of democratic India. It has even been identified as one of the important factors in the deepening of democracy and consolidation of the idea of India 

Neglected areas of reform:-

  • Issues with the present structure:-
    • The present organisation of civil service makes it instantly clear that it is a hotchpotch of one generalist branch and various kinds of specialist branches. Though all of these branches are in theory, treated at par in terms of career prospects, salary and perquisites, opportunity for growth, etc, the reality is quite different. This leads to further inter-service rivalries, competition, power politics and exploitation, resulting in all kinds of bureaucratisation and inefficiencies. 
  • Restructuring and realignment of different branches:-
    • There is an institutional mandate and prescribed procedures for standalone restructuring of different service/branches periodically, to be carried out under the overall guidance and supervision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).However, this has rarely been done. The periodic restructuring of individual branches has hardly achieved any objective goal with a long-term reform focus.
    • Essentially, these exercises have been reduced to the debate of inter-service comparison and then trying to ensure career/promotion prospects vis-à-vis other branches, often resulting in increasing the size of the service/branch, and creating a redundant structure and superfluous posts, especially at the senior management level. The result has been that no meaningful or rational end has been achieved.
  • A recent Government of India study itself has rightly identified that at the national level, the issue of IAS officers occupying most of the senior management-level posts is a cause of deep concern and resentment among other branches .
    • This only highlights the seriousness of the issue, where a large number of officers from various central Group “A” services (mostly non-IAS) forming as much as 80% of total group of civil servants are dissatisfied, frustrated and demotivated.
    • Many of the officers from smaller and lesser-known service branches are demotivated and frustrated by the lack of opportunity, limited exposure and poorer career prospects, which are often accentuated by exercises of stand-alone cadre restructuring.
  • Another important issue is the neglect of “technical service branches” which manage many of the public service delivery and infrastructure provisions.
    • Most of these departments, especially in states, for instance, education, public engineering, public infrastructure, public health and medical services are again staffed by IAS officers at the top. The situation is similar at the central level in departments like energy, minerals and metals, shipping and transports, education, public healthcare, etc. This offers very little opportunity for bright technical specialists at the top, and breeds large-scale resentment and dissatisfaction
  • Structure of the higher bureaucracy has hardly changed and reformed since independence, and it is a fair claim that perhaps the present structure of civil services and its branches do not represent the realities of India, and are poorly equipped to face the complex challenges of modern India.

Way forward:-

  • Rationalised redesign, effected through a mix of mergers, abolitions, and reinvention and with specialised–generalist branches responsible for broad domains of functions, appears to be the most suitable strategy for reform.
  • Structure where competent, professional, and suitable officers are given due recognition and responsibilities, irrespective of their service affiliation is the need of the hour.
  • Generalist conception, superimposed on the specialised knowledge and experience, is likely to be the best for leadership roles in various organisations, and the specialist service branches in India need to be restructured and redesigned along these lines.

Topic – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

4) The National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) stresses on the preventive and promotive aspects of healthcare. Discuss.(250 words)

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Reference

Why this question

Non-communicable and lifestyle diseases have become increasingly common and there is an urgent need to address such diseases along with the communicable diseases. NPCDCS is one of such efforts of the GOI aimed and it is important to discuss in detail as to how the scheme stresses on preventive as well as promotive aspects of healthcare in India.

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 NPCDCS scheme and its salient provisions. It wants us to write in detail as to how the scheme caters to the preventive as well as promotive aspects of healthcare.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the burden of non communicable diseases in india and their increasing prevalence due to lifestyle changes, environmental pollution etc. e.g In 2008, out of the 57 million global deaths, 36 million deaths, or 63%, were due to NCDs, principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries. It is projected that globally NCDs will account for nearly 44 million deaths in 2020.

Body

  • Discuss in detail about the provisions of the  National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). E.g briefly discuss the objectives of the scheme- Health promotion through behavior change with involvement of community, civil society, community based organizations, media etc. Opportunistic screening at all levels in the health care delivery system from sub-centre and above for early detection of diabetes, hypertension and common cancers. To build capacity at various levels of health care for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, IEC/BCC, operational research and rehabilitation. To support for diagnosis and cost effective treatment at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of health care. To support for development of database of NCDs through Surveillance System and to monitor NCD morbidity and mortality and risk factors.
  • Discuss the strategy envisaged by the scheme. E.g Health promotion, awareness generation and promotion of healthy lifestyle Screening and early detection Timely, affordable and accurate diagnosis Access to affordable treatment, Rehabilitation the focus of the programme is on health promotion, prevention, detection, treatment and rehabilitative services at decentralized level up to district hospital under the overall umbrella of National Health Mission for primary and secondary level health care services. The programme division at the national level will develop broad guidelines and strategy for implementation of different components of the programme. The States may adopt and modify these guidelines as per their need and circumstances for implementation of the programme. Involvement of community, civil society and private sector partnership would be vital, and suitable guidelines would be made for the same etc.

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

NPCDCS:-

  • India is experiencing a rapid health transition with a rising burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD)surpassing the burden of Communicable diseases like water-borne or vector-borne diseases, TB, HIV, etc.
  • Therefore, the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) was launched in 2010 in 100 districts across 21 States, in order to prevent and control the major NCDs.
  • The main focus of the programme is on health promotion, early diagnosis, management and referral of cases, besides strengthening the infrastructure and capacity building.

Objectives of NPCDCS :-

  • Health promotion through behavior change with involvement of community, civil society, community based organizations, media etc. 
  • Opportunistic screening at all levels in the health care delivery system from sub- centre and above for early detection of diabetes, hypertension and common cancers. Outreach camps are also envisaged. 
  • To prevent and control chronic Non-Communicable diseases, especially Cancer, Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke. 
  • To build capacity at various levels of health care for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, IEC/BCC, operational research and rehabilitation. 
  • To support for diagnosis and cost effective treatment at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of health care. 
  • To support for development of database of NCDs through Surveillance System and to monitor NCD morbidity and mortality and risk factors.

Strategies applied for preventive and promotive aspects of healthcare :-

  • Health promotion, awareness generation and promotion of healthy lifestyle:-
    • Given that the major determinants to hypertension, obesity, high blood glucose and high blood lipid levels are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, stress and consumption of tobacco and alcohol, awareness will be generated in the community to promote healthy life style habits.
    • For such awareness generation and community education, various strategies will be devised /formulated for behavior change and communication by inter personal communication (IPC),  involvement of various categories of mass media, civil society, community based  organization, panchayats/local bodies, other government departments and private  sector.
    • The focus of health promotion activities will be on: 
      • Increased intake of healthy foods 
      • Salt reduction 
      • Increased physical activity/regular exercise 
      • Avoidance of tobacco and alcohol 
      • Reduction of obesity 
      • Stress management 
      • Awareness about warning signs of cancer etc. 
      • Regular health check-up 
    • Screening and early detection :-
      • Screening and early detection of non-communicable diseases especially diabetes, high blood pressure and common cancers would be an important component.
      • The suspected cases will be referred to higher health facilities for further diagnosis and 
        `treatment.
      • Common cancers (breast, cervical and oral ), diabetes and high blood pressure 
        screening of target population (age 30 years and above,) will be conducted either 
        through opportunistic and/or camp approach at different levels of health facilities 
        and also in urban slums of large cities. 
      • The screening of the urban slum population would be carried out by the local 
        government/municipalities in cities with population of more than 1 million. 
      • The ANMs will be trained for conducting screening so that the same can be also 
        conducted at sub centre level. Each district will be linked to nearby tertiary cancer 
        care (TCC) facilities to provide referral and outreach services. The suspected 
        cases will be referred to District Hospital and tertiary cancer care (TCC) facilities. 
    • Timely, affordable and accurate diagnosis.
    • Access to affordable treatment.
    • Establishment/Strengthening of Health infrastructure 
      • Community health centers and district hospitals would be supported for prevention, early detection and management of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke.
      • Support would be provided for establishing NCD clinics and strengthening laboratory at Community health centers and district hospitals. 
      • Financial support for the essential contractual staff such as doctors and nurses at these units would also be provided under the programme. 
    • Human Resource development
      • Under NPCDCS, health professionals and health care providers at various levels of health care would be trained for health promotion, NCD prevention, early detection and management of Cancer, Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke.
    • Miscellaneous services: 
      • Financial support would be provided to district and CHC/FRU/PHC for procurement of screening devices , essential drugs, consumables, transport of referral cases as per the details annexed for treatment of Cancer, Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke.

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

5) Analyze the factors that have caused weakening of WTO and the impact it would have on India?(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article highlights the various factors that have led to the weakening of WTO and how the policies of WTO have impacted developing countries such as India. At a time when trade war between us and China has had significant bearing on economies of countries such as India and India is in the process of negotiating in mega regional trade deals, the significance, impact and future of WTO becomes important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the the factors off late that have led to dwindling consensus over the principles of WTO, an analysis of what this means for the future of WTO, and how India should respond based on its experiences with WTO.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss the current geoeconomic climate and why consensus over trading principles and institutions is dwindling.

Body

  • Explain the factors that have led to a considerable decline in the status of WTO – bring out the opposition of USA under Trump, lack of any significant achievement even two decades post Doha round, the rising number of bilateral and multilateral treaties etc
  • Give your view on whether the status of WTO has actually declined or is it just a minor blip
  • Discuss the impact that policies of WTO has had on India – on the issue of food security, the issue of solar cells, the multiple disputes at the WTO dispute settlement body, the lack of inroads made in services agreement etc

Conclusion – Give your view on what should be India’s response to this – become a part of multilateral trade deals such as RCEP etc , or resort to protectionism or build consensus over WTO’s policies.

Background:-

  • Since its establishment in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been the focal point of a stable rules-based system guiding the conduct of world trade in goods and services.

Factors leading to weakening of WTO:-

  • WTO is facing existential crisisduring a time when developed economies have adopted protectionist attitude.
  • Earlier instances of US’s patchy compliance with WTO decisions
    • In a dispute where US online gambling sites were noted to be GATS non-compliant, the US offered a $200 million settlement package to Antigua and Barbuda. However, it has only paid $2 million till now. 
    • South Korea has stated that the US has not implemented the WTO ruling on South Korean washing machines 
  • Appellate members:-
    • The U.S. has systematically blockedthe 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
    • If no appointment is made, it will simply be destroyed by December 2019, with only one remaining member to tackle a massive number of disputes that are also increasingly hyper technical
  • Trade:-
    • There is a trade war between US and China despite both being a member of WTO. This negates the core non-discriminatory principle of WTO.
    • US and China have imposed counter-productive duties, accusing each other of harming their domestic interests. WTO has not been able to prevent the trade wars despite best efforts and has been labelled as a talk shop. 
    • In taking unilateral trade action against China under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974, the US gives up even the pretence of acting within the WTO framework
  • The “Overreaching”or judicial activism of United States. The US here tried to separate trade from development and objected to mention centrality for development at the preparation of the declaration.
  • On the pretext of national security:-
    • To restrict trade in steel and aluminium with trading partners, which are long-standing allies of the US in defence and military pacts, cannot be reasonably justified on grounds of national security. The same can be said of the threat to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts on the same grounds. 

Implications:-

  • Positives
  • India has not gained much from being in the WTO and resisted opening up its agricultural sector because of millions of small and marginal farmers who would not be able to withstand competition from abroad.
  • Most of the subsidies India gives to farmers (MSP, fertiliser) come under ‘Amber Box’ and there is pressure to make them ‘Green Box’ compliable. India has had problems with the way the WTO calculates the MSP for Indian farmers.
  • India has also had problem with its food stockholding programme to maintain its food security. But the US has blocked a permanent solution to the problem. China and India have opposed the huge agricultural subsidies that the western nations give to their farmers.
  • India has had problems at the WTO with the EU because under its General Agreement on Trade in Services, temporary workers from India should be allowed to move freely within Europe, especially under Mode 4 (rule), but they are not.
  • In the area of Intellectual property rights under the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, India has been on the defensive at the WTO and the US has had many spats with the Indian industry for not observing IPR rules.
  • Negatives:-
    • If the WTO shuts down, big players like China, the EU and Japan will rule the roost without legal restraints. Smaller countries will resort to protectionism which will reduce their volume of trade and income.
    • With the Appellate Body non-functional, the notification of the decision to appeal would mean that the process of dispute settlement will come to a standstill. If this happens, all the gains of the judicialisation of dispute settlement would be lost, and the WTO will revert to the GATT-era of resolving disputes essentially by means of negotiations
    • US position of ‘America First’, and now slowly dismantling the working of the WTO system, will have long-term effects on global trade.
    • Investment across borders is likely to get impacted
    • Capital flows might get impacted
    • India will have to negotiate mega regional trade deals to fill the void, the impact of which on Indian economy is uncertain etc

Way ahead:-

  • WTO needs to strengthen the dispute settlement mechanismas there are issues in appointment of judges in new appellate body.
    • WTO needs to enhance discussion mechanism by introducing wider consultations. It has been a long-standing complaint by the smaller participants that the consultations or decision making is limited to the green room of DG of WTO.
  • There is a need of free tradeis required more by developing countries like India than developed countries.
  • There is need for the structural reformin the WTO functioning as multilateral trading system. Despite WTO being a democratic organization, there is a need to make it more effective in protecting the interests of small nations against stronger countries. The process of retaliation is ineffective and too impractical for smaller players.
  • So, developing countries must work collaboratively to strengthen WTO to collaborate effectively and learn from the past experiences when India and China led the developing countries in environmental forums, garnering funds in the form of GCF.
  • India’s Role 
    • As the U.S. loses interest in multilateralism in trade, India should actively try to arrest the organisation’s slide
    • India should be more actively engaged to make the WTO a more equitable organisation. 
    • India needs to work on persuading all members of the WTO to return to the table and negotiate on issues like agriculture, industrial tariffs, and services. 
    • India’s positions have much in common with the African nations’ stand; we have to build bridges with Africa. 
    • India needed to quickly forge a larger alliance to counter the moves that are against India’s interests. 
    • India’s journey towards achieving 5 trillion dollar economy is not possible without expansion of our basket of global trade. 

 


General Studies – 3


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

6) Fuel (oil)  pricing in this country is more a political statement than an economic exercise. Critically analyze.(250 words)

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Livemint

Why this question

Oil prices in India have been all time high, dragging inflation and inflicting huge expenditure pressure on the common man. It is essential to understand how oil prices are decided in India and whether there is any need of a change in the regime.

Directive word

Critically analyze-here we  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.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to delve deep into the oil pricing regime in India and discuss in detail as to how it is more a political statement rather than an economic exercise.Based on our discussion we have to form a substantial opinion on the issue as to how should we proceed in this regard.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- Mention about the recent spike in global oil prices which has followed a global slump in oil prices.

Body-

  • Discuss the oil pricing regime in the country. Mention that Fuel price were deregulated in 2010 and 2014. The great global oil price slump of 2014 pushed prices below the levels set by the Indian government. So when India abolished price controls that year, local prices actually fell. The government made the most of oil’s continued tailspin by adding a tax on oil rather than passing on the entire reduction to consumers; In India, fuel is priced as if it, and not crude oil, is imported. Though, in reality, India is a net exporter of fuel, with the export value in 2017–18 being almost 32 times the import value of fuel, thanks to the expansion in refinery capacity. But, premised on the misplaced assumption, the calculation of Refinery Gate Price (RGP) and, hence, losses/profits of oil manufacturing companies/refiners assign higher weightage to the import parity price of fuel.
  • Discuss its impact on the economy and the people briefly. E.g whenever international oil prices rise, the oil manufacturers in India make a windfall gain etc. Also discuss the impact on inflation and rise in prices and cost of living etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue. E.g India could reinstate its formula for subsidizing the fuels by asking upstream companies to share a part of the burden. Currently, prices of gasoline and diesel are fixed through a complex formula, which is not fully understood. It is based on what the government terms “trade parity price,” or the estimated price of the fuel if it were to be imported and exported in the ratio of 80:20. For now, the government is said to have asked the state-owned oil marketing companies to absorb some of the pain and not pass higher costs on to consumers.

Fuel pricing in India:-

  • Fuel price were deregulated in 2010 and 2014. The great global oil price slump of 2014 pushed prices below the levels set by the Indian government. So when India abolished price controls that year, local prices actually fell. The government made the most of oil’s continued tailspin by adding a tax on oil rather than passing on the entire reduction to consumers
  • In India, fuel is priced as if it, and not crude oil, is imported. Though, in reality, India is a net exporter of fuel, with the export value in 2017–18 being almost 32 times the import value of fuel, thanks to the expansion in refinery capacity. But, premised on the misplaced assumption, the calculation of Refinery Gate Price (RGP) and, hence, losses/profits of oil manufacturing companies/refiners assign higher weightage to the import parity price of fuel.

Political issue:-

 

  • A big reason was to relieve the government’s massive burden to subsidize fuel. Subsidies had ballooned to $9.6 billion in 2014. About seven months later, subsidies on diesel were called off.
  • State-run explorers Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd. and state gas utility GAIL India Ltd. also had been paying to subsidize fuel prices, to the tune of $10 billion, by selling crude and fuels to the state retailers at discounts. Making matters worse, the lag in payment of subsidies by the government messed up the finances of state fuel retailers Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., which were forced to borrow heavily to bridge the gap between the selling price and their cost.
  • Incidentally, high petrol and diesel prices are already pinching the middle class. The middle class bore the maximum brunt of demonetization and implementation of GST in the country, and the pricing of petroleum products is again becoming a sore point for them.

Economic issue:-

  • Government could slash fuel taxes, which account for about half the per-litre price people pay. But that would mean a major loss to government revenues.
  • Excise duty and additional taxes are estimated to fetch the government about 2.5 trillion rupees in the year ending March 2019, according to the federal budget document. That’s 77% more than what it collected five years ago. For a government struggling to meet its fiscal gap goals, any reduction in taxes would stretch its finances
  • This may help the government to get more revenues, but will also lead to a price rise. 

Way forward:-

  • India could reinstate its formula for subsidizing the fuels by asking upstream companies to share a part of the burden. Currently, prices of gasoline and diesel are fixed through a complex formula, which is not fully understood. It is based on what the government terms “trade parity price,” or the estimated price of the fuel if it were to be imported and exported in the ratio of 80:20.
  • For now, the government is said to have asked the state-owned oil marketing companies to absorb some of the pain and not pass higher costs on to consumers.

 


Topic-   Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

7) What do you think are the barriers to achieve financial inclusion in India. Discuss. Also discuss the steps taken by India to improve financial inclusion in the country.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

FInancial inclusion is an essential ingredient for an inclusive development and meaningful participation of all the citizens in the economy. India has been striving hard to become an inclusive society. In this context it is essential to discuss what are the challenges faced by the government in achieving financial inclusion as well as discuss various initiatives taken by the government to ameliorate the situation.

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 problems faced in achieving financial inclusion in India. It also wants us to discuss in detail about the initiatives taken by the government to improve the situation.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– briefly discuss the importance of financial inclusion for a modern economy- channelizing household savings, forwarding institutional credit, providing opportunities for development etc.

Body-

  • Discuss the barriers to financial inclusion- e.g  low income, poverty and illiteracy and lack of awareness; e branch proximity, timings, cumbersome documentation and procedures, attitude of the bank staff and language.  Low penetration of financial services, less efficiency of business correspondents also limits the success of financial inclusion. Marginal farmers, landless labourers, oral lessees, self-employed and unorganised sector enterprises, urban slum dwellers, migrants or ethnic minorities and socially excluded groups, senior citizens and women are out of the preview of financial inclusion.  Lack of financial literacy and poor marketing of financial products etc.
  • Discuss the programmes initiated by the GOI to promote financial inclusion in the country. E.g National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC); National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC); National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC);  National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC); National Minorities Finance and Development Corporation (NMDFC). National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC). Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK). MUDRA Yojana etc.

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

Background:-

  • Lack of financial inclusion is costly to society and the individual. As far as the individual is concerned, lack of financial inclusion forces the unbanked into informal banking sectors where interest rates are higher and the amount of available funds much smaller.
  • As far as the social benefits are concerned, financial inclusion increases the amount of available savings, increases efficiency of financial intermediation, and allows for tapping new business opportunities.
  • The census report, 2011 shows that 41.3 percent of the Indian population in urban and rural areas do not have access to banking facilities.

Measures taken :-

  • Jan Dhan Yojna:-
    • With a view to increase the penetration of banking services and to ensure that all households have at least one bank account, a National Mission on Financial Inclusion named as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna  was formally launched 2014.
    • Within a fortnight of its launch, the scheme entered into the Guinness Book of records for opening a record number of bank accounts.
    • Large scale achievement was made by opening 29.48 crores accounts by Mid-August, 2017 out of which 17.61 crores accounts were in rural/semi-urban areas and the rest 11.87 crores in urban areas.
    • More than 44 lakh accounts have been sanctioned overdraft facility of which more than 23 lakh account holders have availed the facility involving an amount around 300 crores.
  • Insurance & Pension schemes:-
    • Pro-poor initiatives include Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jan Suraksha Yojana benefiting 16 crore people.
  • Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna provides formal access of financial facilities to Non Corporate Small Business Sector. The basic objective of the scheme is to promote & ensure bank finance to unfunded segment of the Indian economy.
  • CRISIL Inclusix 
    • India’s first financial inclusion index measures progress on financial inclusion down to the level of each of the 666 districts in the country. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, and the RBI’s steadfast focus on unbanked regions, have really made a difference
    • Financial inclusion has improved significantly in India. As many as 600 million deposit accounts were opened between fiscals 2013 and 2016, or twice the number between 2010 and 2013. Nearly a third of this was on account of Jan Dhan
    • On the credit side, there was a sharp 31.7 million increase in new credit or loan (banks and microfinance) accounts in the two years up to fiscal 2016, which is the most since fiscal 2013
  • The Digital India initiative, payments banks and small finance bankshave all helped improve the reach of formal financial services to economically disadvantaged sections
    • Digital platforms are likely to deliver financial services to both the unbanked and the underbanked population, especially in rural/remote regions, at a low cost, and subsequently increase digital financial access to the vast swathes of the country’s population. The use of digital channels can bring down the transaction costs in a great way
  • RBI has created a Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore to support developmental and promotional activities for expanding the reach of banking services towards securing greater financial inclusion. Special financial literacy campaigns have been designed for the ‘new’ adults (those who have recently turned 18); financial literacy training is being imparted through mass media and by financial education programmes in school curriculum. 
  • National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC), National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC), National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC), National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), National Minorities Finance and Development Corporation (NMDFC), National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC), Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK), Stand-Up India Scheme, venture capital fund scheme, Credit enhancement guarantee scheme etc are other initiatives
  • These schemes highlight the government’s commitment for inclusive empowerment of weaker section of the society.

Concerns :-

  • Failure of government schemes:-
    • Jan Dhan Yojana:-
      • Disquieting feature is that public banks, regional rural banks and 13 private lenders reported that as march 2017 around 90 lakh accounts were frozen under the PMJDY owing to inactivity.
      • Only 33 per cent of all beneficiaries were ready to use their Rupay cards.
      • Merely opening physical accounts as flag posts of financial identity won’t help unless they are actively used by people for managing their money. 
    • Financial literacy:-
      • India is home to 17.5 per cent of the world’s population but nearly 76 per cent of its adult population does not understand basic financial concepts.
    • Insurance policy issues:-
      • On account of lack of awareness and failure of institutions to guide them, people buy insurance policies without planning and give up midway because they don’t have money to pay premium.
      • Aggressive selling prevents agents from assessing the consistency of income streams of the buyers for servicing their policies.
      • Customers end up losing heavily as penalties are harsh. According to insurance regulator, IRDAI, in 2016, Five years after being bought, two-thirds of the life insurance policies are no more.
      • This shows customers are losing huge money on account of bad financial planning.
    • Access to Credit
      • But despite the strong growth, only 200 million borrowers have had access to credit from formal channels This is the reason why the credit penetration index of CRISIL Inclusix remained low
      • There is also a large degree of self-exclusion due to the existence of informal credit sources meeting their convenience. 
    • Digital Connectivity issues :-
      • When most of the rural areas still not having even a reliable internet facility it is difficult to push for cashless economy.
    • From the demand side, the reasons are low income, poverty and illiteracy and lack of awareness. 
    • From the supply side branch proximity, timings, cumbersome documentation and procedures, 
      attitude of the bank staff and language.
    • Remoteness from the financial institutions: 
      • Usually, banks are locating its branches in the high densely populated areas for covering its cost of operations. 
      • Unfortunately, people are scattered in rural India. The population densities of rural areas are very low. The remoteness of the financial institution makes rural people do not utilize such services. They have to travel far to approach these institutions which is again a time and cost consuming process. 
      • Low penetration of financial services, less efficiency of business correspondents also limits the success of financial inclusion. 
    • The complex financial services market offers a wide range of products however lack of awareness restricts the use of these products.
    • Flexibility in terms of financial communication is the biggest roadblock to true financial inclusion in India. 
    • Low and Irregular income:
      • Income level is one of the prominent factors that hinder the underprivileged from availing services from banks. 
      • Majority of the people’s income level in the rural area is low and irregular too. A major portion of people is in seasonal employment. Hence, income level decides the people’s saving and investment avenues. 
    • Inappropriate products: 
      • Generally, banks are targeting educated and a high-income group of people. They develop financial products  based on these target groups’ requirements. The needs of low income and weaker section of people are quite  different. This increases the percentage of financially excluded people in the society. 
      • Marginal farmers, landless labourers, oral lessees, self-employed and unorganised sector enterprises, urban slum dwellers, migrants or ethnic minorities and socially excluded groups, senior citizens and women are out of the preview of financial inclusion. 
    • High Cost:
      • Nowadays banks are operating for profit under the competitive environment. They levy charges for different transactions like minimum balance requirement, charges for usage of ATM services, processing fee etc. People are already suffering from low and irregular income.
      • Therefore paying these kinds of excessive charges make them more burdened. 
    • The attitude of employees: 
      • Employees of the formal financial institutions give differential treatments to dissimilar target groups. The high income group receives overwhelming response whereas low income and rural people suffer from bitter experiences. This affects the self-respect and dignity of the people and hampers the financial inclusion process. 
    • Lack of proper Documents:
    • As per norms of the banks, it is mandatory to submit legal documents at the time of opening an account. 
    • Majority of the poor people like migrants, tribes etc cannot access the formal financial services due to lack of having any legal documents. Getting legal document is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Way forward:-

  • Financial inclusion can spread faster if there is sharper focus on enhancing branch and credit penetration beyond south India. Policy makers need to continue incentivizing branch and credit penetration in districts with low CRISIL Inclusix scores.
  • Cascade training model :-
    • A bank undertook a project to deliver financial education training to young women in rural communities through a cascade training model where core trainers trained peer educators, who in turn trained community members. These examples provide evidence that using a model that involves experiential learning and use of products has greater chances of success.
  • To use financial services to their full potential, low income people need products well suited to their needs and appropriate training and education for adapting to these financial services.
  • To increase cashless transactions:-
  • To venture into the vastly untapped domestic smartphone network which is estimated to cover around 500 million users in the next five years.
  • UPI has the potential to lift service delivery paradigms to the next level.

Conclusion:-

  • The government is committed to its target of increasing the inclusion of every household in the financial system thus strengthening the social contract so that the masses can get all the legitimate benefits arising out of the growth of the country and also provide an extra thrust to lead the path of growth