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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 NOVEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 NOVEMBER 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– Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues

1) Discuss the contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy towards the Indian society.(250 words)

The hindu

Reference

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 contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy towards the Indian society. We have to be as exhaustive as possible, within the prescribed word limit.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about Raja Ram Mohan Roy- his birth and mention that he is considered the first modern man of India.

Body-

Discuss the contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy towards Indian society. E.g Raja Ram Mohan Roy is considered as the pioneer of modern Indian Renaissance for the remarkable reforms he brought in the 18th and 19th century India. Among his efforts, the abolition of the brutal and inhuman Sati Pratha was the most prominent. His efforts were also instrumental in eradicating the purdah system and child marriage. In 1828, Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj, uniting the Brahmos in Calcutta, a group of people, who had no faith in idol-worship and were against the caste restrictions; He advocated the introduction of an English Education System in the country teaching scientific subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and even Botany. He paved the way to revolutionizing education system in India by establishing Hindu College in 1817 along with David Hare which later went on to become one of the best educational institutions in the country producing some of the best minds in India. His efforts to combine true to the roots theological doctrines along with modern rational lessons saw him establish the Anglo-Vedic School in 1822 followed by the Vedanta College in 1826; Ram Mohan Roy was a staunch supporter of free speech and expression. He fought for the rights of vernacular press. He also brought out a newspaper in Persian called ‘Mirat ul Akhbar’ (the Mirror of News) and a Bengali weekly called ‘Sambad Kaumudi’ (the Moon of Intelligence). Etc.

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

Background:-

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy is considered as the pioneer of modern Indian Renaissance for the remarkable reforms he brought in the 18th and 19th century India. The elements of modernity in him and the break  with tradition are of help to discover Rammohan Roy’s image as the ‘Father of Modern lndia’. 

Contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy:-

  • Social reforms:-
    • The abolition of the brutal and inhuman Sati Pratha was the most prominent.
    • His efforts were also instrumental in eradicating the purdah system and child marriage.
    • Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s name is thus etched forever as a true benefactor of women not just for helping abolish the custom of Sati, but also raising his voice against child marriage and polygamy, while demanding equal inheritance rights for women.
    • He was also a great opponent of the rigid caste divisions of his time.
    • He worked for the improvement in the position of women. He advocated widow remarriage and education of women.
  • Educational:-
    • He paved the way to revolutionizing education system in India by establishing Hindu College in 1817 along with David Hare which later went on to become one of the best educational institutions in the country producing some of the best minds in India.
    • His efforts to combine true to the roots theological doctrines along with modern rational lessons saw him establish the Anglo-Vedic School in 1822 followed by the Vedanta College in 1826.
  • Philosophical:-
    • In 1828, Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj, uniting the Bhramos in Calcutta, a group of people, who had no faith in idol-worship and were against the caste restrictions. 
    • He looked back to a tradition in search of monotheism, and looked forward to a sort of Protestant reformation within the Hindu milieu.
    • He implied that every religion has a philosophical core, and as for Hinduism it was Vedanta .The Vedanta provided him with the cultural category while his interpretation of it as monotheistic yielded a comprehensive, holistic theory, which provided a comprehensive critique of culture, society and ideology.
    • Raja’s monotheistic Vedanta provided people with an idea of the paradigms of social change  e.., why one paradigm is better than another. It enabled people to consider the comparative adequacy of ways of life that might claim people’s allegiance. In such humanitarian vision lies Raja’s lure and his share in India’s modernity.
    • He stressed on rationalism and modern scientific approach.
  • Journalistic Contributions
    • Ram Mohan Roy was a staunch supporter of free speech and expression. He fought for the rights of vernacular press.
    • He also brought out a newspaper in Persian called ‘Miratul- Akhbar’ (the Mirror of News) and a Bengali weekly called ‘Sambad Kaumudi’ (the Moon of Intelligence).

Conclusion:-

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his Brahmo Samaj played a vital role in awakening Indian society to the pressing issues plaguing society at that time and also was the forerunner of all social, religious and political movements that happened in the country since.

 


General Studies – 2


TopicStatutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

2) What are the objectives of National Green Tribunal. Also, discuss the challenges and constraints faced by the organization in fulfilling its objectives.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

NGT is an important statutory body with a wide and extensive mandate of protecting and preserving the environment at the national level. With increasing environmental degradation and climate change the importance of the organization increases manifold.

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 objectives of NGT. It then wants us to discuss in detail about the challenges and constraints faced by the organization in fulfilling its objectives.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  NGT. e.g the National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss  the stated objectives of NGT. e.g
  • To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment.
  • Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property
  • And other related matters.
  1. Discuss the challenges and constraints faced by the organization in fulfilling its objectives. E.g There is the lack proper infrastructure as it functions from two different premises; delay in appointments of members; The number of environmental cases has been on the rise but due to lack of benches and infrastructure, the body is unable to pronounce its judgment on time; Despite various proactive support being taken by the tribunal the pollution levels has been continuously rising over the years. This is due to lack of effective support from government both at the centre as well in states. The inefficiency of Central and State pollution control boards is another reason for it. This often results in delays in implementing the tribunal’s decision; The tribunal is not having suo-motu powers which also restricts its ambit in the area of environment etc

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

 

Background :-

  • The NGT was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act . It is a specialized environmental court that deals with cases relating to environmental protection and the conservation of forests
  • It has judicial powers that allow it to exclusively decide civil environmental matters. The tribunal is guided by principles of natural justice and is not bound by the mainstream code of civil procedure

Objectives of National green tribunal :-

  • The objective of establishing a National Green Tribunal are as follows:
    • To provide effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment.
    • Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property
    • And other related matters.

Despite judgments by NGT regarding cleaning of Ganga, Yamuna flood pain etc challenges and constraints faced by NGT remain :-

  • The recent event on Yamuna floodplains saw rampant clearing of the vegetation cover and construction. But NGT instead of taking stringent action just imposed a fine for the event and could do little to prevent the spoiling of this fragile ecosystem.
  • Access to justice is denied by two means in NGT: firstly, by the provision of limitation period and secondly, by virtue of NGT being located in only big cities spread across India.
  • NGT’S critics have also questioned the “lack of environmental finesse” of its expert members. Usually, the expert members are experts of one particular field and not of environment as a whole.
    • For instance, an expert member who has been working on forests for many years would not be able to comprehend the issues arising out of industrial pollution.
  • Conflicts are brewing between NGT and the high courts:-
    • As per the NGT Act, appeals from NGT can only go to the Supreme Court, thus by-passing the high courts.
    • Backlog of cases in NGT is another reason for the institution’s failure to address environmental matters.
  • Lack of infrastructure:-
    • There is the lack proper infrastructure as it functions from two different premises.
    • The number of environmental cases has been on the rise but due to lack of benches and infrastructure, the body is unable to pronounce its judgment on time.
  • Pollution is alarming:-
    • Despite various proactive support being taken by the tribunal the pollution levels has been continuously rising over the years. This is due to lack of effective support from government both at the centre as well in states. The inefficiency of Central and State pollution control boards is another reason for it.
    • This often results in delays in implementing the tribunal’s decision.
  • No suomoto powers:-
    • The tribunal is not having suo-moto powers which also restricts its ambit in the area of environment.

Reforms needed:-

  • There is a need to strengthen it by giving it more powers and by investing in strengthening its infrastructure
  • Judicial review is an important power that must be given to NGT
  • NGT also needs to put certain systems in place for transparent decision-making.
  • NGT needs to establish principles and criteria to estimate fines, damages and compensation.
  • It should also identify institutions and experts who can help it to scientifically estimate environmental damages/compensation/fines on a case-to-case basis.
  • NGT must put internal checks and balances for efficient and transparent delivery of justice.
  • Suomotu jurisdiction has to be an integral feature of NGT for better and effective functioning.
  • There is a need for the central and state governments to work in collaboration with the NGT for an effective outcome.

Topic-  Part of static series under the heading – “Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies”

3) CBI plays an important role in criminal justice delivery system which it can’t do while being a “caged parrot”. Analyze.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the role played by CBI in criminal justice delivery system, criticism of CBI along with reasons why it’s called caged parrot, and suggest reforms that are required.

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 role of CBI along with the acts that govern it and why CBI has been in news off late.

Body

  • Highlight the role played by CBI as the premier investigation agency of the country
  • Discuss criticism of CBI’s role such as corruption, political bias, delays in solving cases etc
  • Discuss reforms required such as autonomy to director, need for a CBI Act etc

Conclusion – Discuss the immense importance of an organisation such as CBI and the way forward.

 Background:-

  • Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)is India’s premier investigating agency that handles all high-profile cases. Its job is to ensure a fair and an impartial probe. But, recently in October 2018, two of the top officials of the agency have been reported to be involved in a major feud. This has led the Government of India to intervene in order to restore the institutional integrity and credibility of CBI.

Role CBI plays in criminal justice delivery system :-

  • Central Bureau Of Investigation CBI is the domestic internal security agencyof India, jointly serves as a criminal investigation and prosecution body. It has played a pivotal role in criminal justice delivery as highlighted in tough cases like Satyam scam investigation, Bhanvari Devi Murder etc. 
  • CBI was established on the recommendation of Santhanam committeeto prevent corruption. It is the main investigating agency of central government
  • CBI is a multidisciplinary investigation agency which undertakes the following:-
    • Investigating cases of corruption , bribery and misconduct of central government.
    • Investigating serious crime having national and international ramification.
    • Investigating cases relating to infringement of fiscal and economic laws.
    • Coordinating activities of anti corruption agencies.
    • Taking up request of state government in a case of public importance.

Why was it called caged carrot :-

  • Politicisation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)has been a work in progress for years.
  • Corruption and Politically biased :
  • This was highlighted in Supreme Court criticism for being a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice.
  • CBI has been accused of becoming ‘handmaiden’ to the party in power, as a result high profile cases are not treated seriously.
  • Since CBI is run by central police officials on deputation hence chances of getting influenced by government was visible in the hope of better future postings.

Controversies related to independence of CBI:-

  • Real problem for the CBI lies in its charter of duties:-
    • These are not protected by legislation. Instead, its functions are based merely on a government resolution that draws its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which makes the CBI the premier investigative arm of the Union government.
  • However myriad of responsibilities over categories like Corruption & fraud , economic crimes , special crimes including terrorist attacks has overburdened it and reduced its efficiency
  • Delayed Case Solving :
    • For instance in Aarushi Murder Case even though the investigations underwent for over an decade there was no concrete conclusion.

What institutional reforms are needed ?

  • The first reform is to ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal frameworkthat has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  • P singh committeehas recommended the enactment of comprehensive central legislation for self sufficient statutory charter of duties and functions.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) also suggested that a new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI.
  • Parliamentary standing committee (2007)recommended that a separate act should be promulgated in tune with requirement with time to ensure credibility and impartiality
    • The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • It is high time that the CBI is vested with the required legal mandate and is given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  • Besides appointing the head of the CBI through a collegium, as recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit. Some experts have even suggested that the CBI should be given statutory status through legislation equivalent to that provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) and the Election Commission (EC).
    • It is also possible to consider granting the CBIand other federal investigation agencies the kind of autonomy that the Comptroller and Auditor General enjoys as he is only accountable to Parliament.
  • new CBI Actshould be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision. The new Act must specify criminal culpability for government interference.
  • One of the demands that has been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  • more efficient parliamentary oversightover the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

Conclusion :-

  • CBI is an agency of Central Government that has wide range of investigating areas and powers.It was formed with a goal to check corruption and other crimes in the nation and so it shall maintain a clean image of itself. Any agency shall have a system of checks and balances and so, intervention of Government, CVC, Courts, etc shall be done if needed.

General Studies – 3


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

4) The central bank policy has to be guided by financial markets rather than by a government headed by politicians with electoral compulsions. Comment in the light of recent RBI controversy.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question

The article discusses the intricacies and dilemmas faced by the RBI in the neoliberal regime. It also discusses the inability of interest rate policy as a tool for achieving the multiple and sometimes even contradictory goals.

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 dig deeper into the ongoing RBI- Govt. controversy and express our opinion as to whether the RBI policy decisions should be simply guided by financial markets without any interference by the government. We have to form our opinion based on a proper discussion and presentation of facts, arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  recent controversy surrounding the RBI and mention sec 7 of the RBI act.

Body-

  1. Express your opinion as to why RBI policy should not be simply guided by the financial markets. E.g This is obviously an undemocratic position, for it amounts to saying that crucial decisions affecting people’s lives should be outside their sphere of intervention through the electoral process; It is also a dangerous position since financial markets are dominated by speculators. As Keynes had pointed out, not only is market incapable of distinguishing between enterprise and speculation, but speculators, far from being “bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise”, create instead a “whirlpool” upon which enterprise itself becomes a mere bubble. The livelihood of over a trillion people cannot be made “a by-product of the activities of a casino”
  2. Discuss why RBI policy should not be simply guided by the government. E.g This would not matter if the government itself was socially accountable through, for instance, being subject to parliamentary oversight; in that case, there would be some restraint on its using control over the central bank for furthering the interests of its crony capitalists. But, as we know, the government is refusing to divulge the contents of Raghuram Rajan’s note on major bank defaulters even to the Estimates Committee of Parliament etc.

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

Background:-

  • Reserve Bank of India has worked as efficiently as any top central bank of the world right from its inception. It was blessed with absolute independence to control or manage monetary liquidity, price stability, exchange rate stability, and later on financial stability also.
  • However recently simmering differences between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central government over issues of public sector bank regulation, resolution of distressed assets and the central bank’s reserves, independent payments bank regulator, easing credit to small firms, Section 7 of RBI act have raised questions about the independence of RBI.

Why RBI policy needs to be guided by financial markets and why it needs to make independent decisions :-

  • Governments sometimes tend to make poor decisions about monetary policy. In particular, they tended to be influenced by short-term political considerations.
  • Before an election, the temptation is for a government to cut interest rates, making boom and bust economic cycles more likely. Therefore arguably, it is better to take monetary policy out of the government’s hands and place it in the central bank’s purview.
  • An independent Central Bank may have more credibility. If people have more confidence in the Central Bank, this helps to reduce inflationary expectations. In turn, this makes inflation easier to keep low.
  • In a central bank dominated by the government, the temptation to tamper with various instruments of monetary policy in order to achieve the government’s objectives would be hard to resist. For instance, the ministry of finance could want to reduce interest rate to push up demand, without considering the impact of rate cut on foreign inflows, depreciation of the rupee and increase in domestic money stock and inflation. There could be many more such examples .To avoid this an independent central bank is necessary.
  • An independent central bank is essential for ensuring stable and sustainable growth in any economy.
  • There are always government entities that are seeking oversight over various aspects of the RBI’s activities. Multiple layers of scrutiny, especially by entities that do not have the technical understanding, will only hamper decision making.

Sometimes RBI needs to balance its working with the government due to the following reasons :-

  • Central bank policy cannot be based only on financial markets because:-
    • Financial markets are dominated by speculators. As Keynes had pointed out, not only is market incapable of distinguishing between enterprise and speculation, but speculators create instead a whirlpool upon which enterprise itself becomes a mere bubble.
  • RBI is autonomous but within the framework of the RBI Act. It is thus clear that the central bank cannot claim absolute autonomy. It is autonomy within the limits set by the government and its extent depends on the subject and the context. 
  • Ultimately, it is the elected representative ruling the country who is answerable to the citizen every five years. The representative while explaining the economy’s performance to own up for everything, including the RBI’s actions, as his own.
  • In a democracy, it is unthinkable that to have an institution that is so autonomous that it is not answerable to the people. The risk of such an institution is that it will impose its preferences on society against the latter’s will, which is undemocratic.
  • RBI is autonomous and accountable to the people ultimately, through the government.
  • The progressive widening and deepening of the activities of the RBI in different sectors of the economy affect the lives of millions. 
  • Nature will ignore the short term effects of their policies on the economy, the brunt of which has to be borne by the Parliament.

Way forward:-

  • International examples:-
    • There has to be a forum within the democratic structure where the RBI is obligated to explain and defend its position.
    • Different countries have taken different routes and by and large each model is appropriately tuned to their specific contexts.
    • US example is a good model to work upon. Presentation by the chairman of the Federal Reserve to the Congress makes for public exposure and transparency but does not take away the chairman’s autonomy.
  • The governor should be responsible and accountable to Parliament and not to a particular government or the ministry of finance, or ministe He can testify to Parliament twice a year. In separate testimony in both houses of Parliament, the lawmakers can ask questions of the RBI Governor and the latter can respond.
  • A better way to sort out these differences and to come to a conclusion is to have a larger debate with technical experts weighing in.
  • On issues of operational autonomy, the central government needs to lay off its pressure on the RBI.
  • On macro issues such as exchange rate management and RBI’s dividend policy, written agreements that clearly demarcate roles and responsibilities can be thrashed out.
  • The Monetary Policy Framework Agreement and the FRBM Act are good illustrations of how a mutually agreed rule-based framework can broker peace between the central bank and the executive arm of government.
  • If the issues are not resolved, the tussle will undermine investor confidence and strengthens fears about institutional erosion when India is already experiencing economic turmoil.

 


Topic – Indian economy : Issues

5) Critically analyze the steps taken by the government to improve the credit situation of MSMEs?(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

This article highlights the steps taken by the government to boost credit availability of MSMEs and analysis of these steps. In the background of IL&FS crisis, RBI vs Govt narrative etc , the issue of credit availability for MSMEs has become a vital one and needs detailed preparation.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to list out the steps taken by the government to boost credit availability of MSMEs and analyze the desirability of such steps in the context of overall problems of MSME and other debates surrounding MSMEs.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Discuss the contribution of MSME sector to the economy.

Body

  • Discuss the steps taken by the government to boost credit availability of MSMEs.
  • Discuss the reasons why such steps were taken by the government – share of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in loans given to MSMEs has gone up in recent year, issue with NBFC sector, impact of demonetization on MSMEs etc
  • Discuss why such steps taken by the government would not act as panacea for the MSME sector – more than 90% of MSMEs operate in the informal sector. These firms largely depend on informal sources of credit at higher interest rates. It is difficult for these firms to get loans from banks because they do not maintain proper documents and records, not in a position to adopt technology to improve productivity. Further, most firms in the informal sector are unlikely to attract skilled labour.
  • Discuss the steps that are needed to improve the situation for MSMEs

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced view and discuss way forward.

Background :-

  • Micro, Small & Medium enterprises termed as “engine of growth “ for India  is the pillar of economic growth in many developed, and developing countries in the world.
  • MSME has played a prominent role in the development of the country in terms of creating employment opportunities. The share of MSMEs in the country’s gross value added is estimated to be about 32%. It also contributes about 40% to total exports and 45% to manufacturing output

Measures already taken:-

  • Apart from improving ease of doing business, the most important announcements were regarding access and cost of credit.
  • MSMEs can now get in-principle approval for loans of up to Rs.1 crore in 59 minutes. Additionally, goods and services tax (GST)-registered MSMEs will get an interest subvention on fresh or incremental loans. Interest rate rebates have also been announced for exporters. 
  • In addition, RBI relief to MSME borrowers with aggregate exposure up to Rs 25 crores, giving 90 day extension for repayments, is likely to lead to a reversal of about Rs 15,000 crores Gross NPA in this segment. 
  • Mudra scheme :-
    • Loans offers to small businesses in the unorganized sector are now covered by a credit guarantee scheme. It also helps bridge the shortfall in loans for these businesses. This helps small entrepreneurs save on the interests that they need to pay.

However lending to them is a challenge due to the following reasons :-

  • Recently according to a joint study by credit bureau Cibil and MSMElender Sidbirisky loans worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore to medium and small enterprises(MSMEs) in the system could potentially create Rs 16,0000 crore worth NPAs by March 2019.
  • Reason for MSME lending from banks remaining flat, or even contracting a bit, is that banks are not best equipped to lend to this sector.
    • The amount of management time required to service an MSME loan is the same as for a larger loan, so banks prefer to focus on larger clients
    • The typical need of a SME is around INR 10-20 lacs, as against a larger corporation which runs into hundreds of crores. The cost of servicing such a small-sized loan from a bank or an NBFC is very high and therefore, financial institutions are likely to avoid such requests.
  • Collateral: 
    • Additionally, to avail loans, one needs to offer collateral – a personal property or manufacturing plant or even machinery. Most the SMEs do have much to offer as collateral; hence lending firms view them as high-risk requests.
  • More than 90% of MSMEs operate in the informal sector. These firms largely depend on informal sources of credit at higher interest rates.
  • Due to demonetization drive, MSMEs were among the worst hit sector as their businesses were cash based. The response was not just limited to demonetization but also during the GST.
  • MSMEs are exposed to market-linked volatility thus the credit risk is high.
  • Recently in his note to Parliament’s Estimates Committee on bank non-performing assets (NPAs), Former RBI governor has flagged three major sources of potential trouble for MSME :
    • Mudra credit, which is basically small-ticket loans granted to micro and small enterprises. The disbursement under Mudra loans alone is Rs. 6.37 lakh crore, which is over 7% of the total outstanding bank credit. These loans have been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.
    • Lending to farmers through Kisan Credit Cards
    • Contingent liabilities under the Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSMEs, run by the Small Industries Development Bank of India.
  • Other challenges like Impact on MSME due to GST:-
    • Costs :-
      • India’s paradigm shift to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will increase their compliance costs and snare a majority of them into the indirect tax net for the first time.
      • GST will have a marginally negative impact because of higher tax rates
    • Input Tax Credit :-
      • Along with the initial confusion and infrastructure glitches that took some time to stabilize, there were reports of delays in receiving Input Tax Credit (ITC), which directly affected the MSME industry.
    • In addition, with most MSMEs not being listed entities, their monthly or quarterly business performance filings are also largely unavailable.
    • The transition to the GST regime affected the MSME sector more than any other, since its players lack compliance infrastructureto map their outstanding inventory with tax invoices. Furthermore, its weak credit profile and risk weightages attached to it by banks, pushed it closer to higher credit change options from the non-banking finance segment.

Way forward :-

  • Financial Reporting: 
    • The SMEs also need to back their loan request with tax-returns, balance sheets and other financial documents which speak about the health of the companies.
  • Priority lending to honest taxpayers
    • The government need to incentivise MSMEs who pay promptly and within timelines. Adding to this, banks and associated financial organisations can introduce priority lending for honest taxpayers based on returns filing. This would improve the working capital for these businesses and have a positive impact.
  • Reducing time limit for reversal of ITC
    • ITC ought to be inverted under the CGST, in case the receiver is unable to pay to the supplier within a time period of 180 days. Ideally, for MSMEs, this time limit should be lowered to 90 days. As, being a part of the working capital and a lifeline for their business, any postponement in the payments is sure to impact business operations at all times.
  • Increasing definition of class of persons
    • The class of person definition has been raised from Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore. An additional increase of Rs 10 crore is recommended because it will then cover MSME service and industrial units, thus, amounting to benefits at large.
  • Adding services to composition scheme
    • About 48 percent of the GDP is contributed by the service sector and there are several SMEs operating service businesses. Thus, it’s vital that services are counted in the composition scheme minus any cap.
  • Adding POS solutions to ‘Digital MSME’ scheme
    • As per the recent changes, taxpayers with turnover of up to Rs 5 crore can file GSTR – 1 on a quarterly basis. The best way to tackle this is to use Point of Sale (POS) solutions that provide end-to-end assistance from generating digital invoices to payments to capturing data.
    • MSMEs with a turnover of Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore can easily use POS, along with the associated digital compliance and filing software, to maintain their data and file on time.
  • And the government can further expedite this process by subsiding POS sales. Under the ‘Digital MSME’ scheme that promotes cloud computing, POS solutions can also be introduced as one of the products.
  • Both MUDRA loans as well as the Kisan Credit Card, while popular, have to be examined more closely for potential credit risk. The Credit Guarantee Scheme for MSME (CGTMSE) run by SIDBI is a growing contingent liability and needs to be examined with urgency.

Conclusion:-

  • As MSMEs become accustomed to a larger compliance climate, a better level of preparedness and discipline in conducting business will gradually be a part of operation. With the government’s commitment to strengthen MSMEs on all fronts, the current challenges will stabilize and gradually take a positive turn to fulfill the nation’s ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ as well as ‘Startup India’ visions.

Topic – Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

6) The only way for the government to deliver on its promise to double the income of farmers, is to ensure the creation of a pan-Indian market for agricultural produce. Discuss.(250 words)

Financial express

Why this question

The decision to Maharashtra government to bring reforms in the mandis by delisting fruits and vegetables is well intentioned but for it to make a significant impact, the need is to create a pan Indian market for agricultural produce. There have been multiple efforts for this and thus needs to be prepared.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the need for a pan Indian agricultural market, discuss the steps taken to so far to create pan Indian agricultural market and the effectiveness of such steps.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the step of delisting fruits and vegetables from the mandis and mention that for such a step to bring about real impact, the need is to create pan Indian market.

Body

  • Highlight the problems of APMC Act and the reasons why reforms are required
  • Discuss the steps taken by the government to create a unified national market for agricultural produce and the limitations of such steps
  • Highlight the steps that are needed still such as creation of accreditation agency to ensure quality assurance through an accreditation agency etc

Conclusion – Highlight the importance of bringing reforms in APMC and create a pan Indian market for agricultural produce and mention that for this to happen both centre and state need to make committed reforms.

Background:-

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

Measures taken for a unified market for agricultural produce by government:-

  • Single national agriculture market (NAM) was launched in 2016 in the country, with a view to enable farmers to get a better price and for consumers to pay a lower price for agri-produce, a win-win situation at both ends of agri-value chains.
    • It was launched with the goal of formulating a unified national market for agricultural commodities by integrating Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees or APMCs across states in India.

Why there is a need to ensure creation of a pan Indian market for agricultural produce :-

  • National Commission on Agriculture (1976) as well as the NCF (2006) had categorically emphasised that higher output alone will not provide higher income to farmers unless it is well marketed.
    • Recent incidents of farmers reportedly dumping their bumper produce of tomatoes and onions and emptying cans of milk into drains is clear evidence of it. So had the markets been integrated, the surplus produce would have been transferred to deficit regions. 
  • The Dalwai Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income has pointed out that the share of farmers in consumer’s price is very low. It generally varies from 15 to 40 per cent.
    • The dominant role of middlemen among others is primarily responsible for farmers not realising a reasonable price for their produce, lowering farm income and profitability. 
  • The Committee of State Ministers, in charge of Agricultural Marketing to Promote Reforms (2013) has highlighted in its report that
    • Covered and open auction platforms exist only in two-thirds of the regulated markets
    • Cold storage units exist in less than one-tenth of the markets and grading facilities in less than one-third.
  • States alone cannot revamp the agricultural marketing sector, primarily due to paucity of funds and technology.
  • Measures taken by government failed:-
    • States role:-
      • Most of the reported transactions are intra-mandi. Inter-mandi and inter-state trading on the platform are minimal. What this means is that the states on e-NAM have not been able to provide farmers with better price discovery in other mandis of the same state or across states.
      • E-payment facility is not available in most mandis, and that there is no competitive bidding reported in these states.
    • Infrastructure:-
      • Even as the Centre works with States to persuade them, infrastructure such as reliable third-party certification for the produce in every mandi and robust computer systems, including uninterrupted web connectivity, need to be put in place.
    • Middlemen influence:-
      • The hold of the middleman, who often is also the financier of the farmer against a pledge of the produce is not completely broken.
    • The challenges posed by present day APMCs :-
      • Fragmentation of Stateinto multiple market areas, each administered by separate APM
      • Separate licensesfor each mandi are required for trading in different market areas within a state. This means that there is  limited first point of sale for the farmer.
      • Licensing barriers leading to conditions of monopoly
      • Opaque process for price discovery
      • An overwhelming majority of farmers still rely on the same broken system of markets under APMC, which is monopolistic and rent-seeking, with high commissions, especially for perishables.
      • APMCs play dual role of regulator and Market. Consequently, their role as regulator is undermined by vested interest in lucrative trade. Generally, member and chairman are nominated/elected out of the agents operating in that market.
      • Exporters, processors and retail chain operators cannot procure directly from the farmers as the produce is required to be channelised through regulated markets and licensed traders. There is, in the process, an enormous increase in the cost of marketing and farmers end up getting a low price for their produce.
    • NAM does not say anything about interstate taxes and levie
    • Dominance of cash:
      • Critical link was creating an electronic payment system that would allow the buyer credit the proceeds directly into the farmer’s bank account. But this has not taken off, and farmers continue to be paid in cash
      • Physical trading is still taking place even in mandis that are integrated with e-NAM.

Way forward :-

  • Following steps need to be taken in a concerted manner :-
    • Unyielding focus on agri-market reforms starting with basics of assaying, sorting, and grading facilities for primary produce as per nationally recognised and accepted standards
    • Creating suitable infrastructure at mandi-level (like godowns, cold storages, and driers) to maintain those standards
    • Bringing uniformity in commissions and fee structures that together do not go beyond, say 2%, of the value of produce
    • Evolving a national integrated dispute resolution mechanism to tackle cases where the quality of goods delivered varies from what is shown and bid for on the electronic platform. This would require significant investments, and changes in state APMC Acts. 
  • Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income under the chairmanship of Ashok Dalwai, in its draft report, justifies the recommendation saying marketing has no boundaries. This necessitates a pan-India operation to meet the demand across the country.
    • Besides, the committee has also recommended rolling out the model Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act 2017 which would facilitate single-point levy of taxes, promote direct interface between farmers and end-users, and give freedom to farmers to sell their produce to whomsoever and wherever they get better prices
  • Creation of accreditation agency to ensure quality assurance .
  • The Economic Survey suggests incremental steps as possible solutions for setting up a national market. 
    • State governments may be specifically persuaded to provide policy support for alternative or special markets in private sector. 
    • In view of the difficulties in attracting domestic capital for the setting-up marketing infrastructure, liberalization in FDI in retail could create possibilities for filling in the massive investment and infrastructure deficit in supply chain inefficiencies. 
  • Roping in the private sector for investments would create jobs and promote efficient agri-value chains.
  • Buying the produce from farmers below the MSP should be made illegal. The ‘model price’ that these markets offer should therefore be replaced with MSP.  

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

7) Discuss the problems faced by the power sector in India and give suggestions on what needs to be done to better the situation?(250 words)

Financial express

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Why this question

Rising NPA in coal and power sector are issues that are bothersome for India for these sector are very important for industrial progress of India. The report of Parliamentary committee identifying the problems in the sector is important and needs preparation.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to highlight the status quo of power sector, analyze the problems faced by them and discuss way forward.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Give a synopsis of the problems faced by power sector.

Body  

  • Discuss the issues faced by the sector such as low availability of coal and other problems highlighted by the Parliamentary standing committee.
  • Discuss the actions taken so far and the impact of such actions Special linkages for some entities by Coal India; The recent move to allow cost pass-through to some entities to relieve them of the burden of increased import price.
  • Discuss the way forward taking inputs from the views of the article along with your views

Conclusion – Harp on the importance of power sector and the need for reforms in the sector.

Background:-

  • India’s power sector is one of the key sectors which form the foundation of the growth of the country. Despite the fact that India has surplus energy, it is facing huge problems which serve as an obstacle for supplying electricity to all needy people. 

Problems faced by power sector:-

  • The troubles of power companies can be traced to structural issuessuch as the  
    • Absence of meaningful price reforms
    • Unreliable fuel supply and
    • The unsustainable finances of public sector power distribution companies.
  • Stressed accounts:-
    • Power sector, which has around 34 stressed accounts worth Rs 1.8 lakh crore, is the biggest worry for the banks since resolution through IBC will erode the true value of assets. This can lead to more bottlenecks in projects as well as operations.
  • The Standing Committee on Energyobserved that development in the power sector has not been balanced. 
    • While delicensing generation helped increased generation activities,the other segments (transmission and distribution) have not been given much attention. 
  • The Electricity Policy does not look into the issuesaround clearances, land acquisition, continuance of old and inefficient plants, instability in FSA policies, and other regulatory challenges and delays. 
  • Cost of supply :-
    • Electricity distribution companies (discoms) in some States(Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) ) are already highly indebted. Their debts account for 17% of accumulated liabilities of the States.
    • Despite continued State subvention (except by Odisha), all these discoms have been consistently running at a loss, accounting for about 47% of the loss in electricity distribution business
    • Existing subsidised lifeline tariffs in these States appear unaffordable to the poor and certainly higher than in States with universal (or high) access. 
    • Average plant load factor (PLF) across the country has fallen to a multi-decadal low of 58%. This implies inefficiency and extra burden of fixed costs.
  • Coal:-
    • Shortage of fuel for power plants has become very critical in recent months. Many of the coal mines sold off in auction, mandated by the Supreme Court verdict, are simply not operational. 
    • Continued and increased dependence on imported coal points to deficiencies in augmenting domestic capacity.
    • Mining in a number of coal blocks was stuck up for want of clearances
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee has identified the following major reasons for the crisis:
    • Insufficient number of power purchase agreements (PPAs) made available by states
    • Inability of the promoters to infuse equity and working capital.
    • Contractual and tariff-related disputes.
    • Delays in project implementation, leading to cost overruns.
  • Measures taken are not sufficient :-
    • The focus, so far, has been to grapple with some of the issues for select few generating companies in the following manner:
      • Special linkages for some entities by Coal India;
      • The recent move to allow cost pass-through to some entities to relieve them of the burden of increased import price.
    • The grid balancing that could have been done through hydroelectric power for renewable energy is now being “enforced” on coal-based power plants.

Way forward:-

  • Standing committee on energy recommended that the process of grant of loan, supervisory mechanism and its subsequent monitoring should be revisited.
  • Supply of coalwill have to be increased by Coal India by following a strategy pursued during 2014-15 and 2015-16, when coal production saw an unprecedented increase
  • Set up a high-levelempowered committee to examine each stressed project and work out a rehabilitation package. Only financial restructuring will not help. The package has to be a comprehensive one. This could even entail change of ownership/management and/or adequate sanction of funds that are required for the projects.
  • Power-generatingcompanies should not be saddled with the burden of cross-subsidising the renewable sector. This can be borne by the society (through taxation) and not by the entities that are already in trouble.

General Studies – 4


Topic– Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems;

8) Discuss the Cantor’s traits for being successful as a public relations officer. Do you think any other traits that should be added to the list. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference

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 traits required to become a successful public relations officer, as forwarded by Cantor. Then it wants us to suggest some other traits that we think should be added to the Cantor’s list.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  importance of public relations management in public services.

Body-

  1. Discuss in points/ paragraphs, under the following headings, about the qualities/ traits necessary for being a successful PRO, as forwarded by Cantor. E.g
  • Response to tension
  • Individual initiative
  • Curiosity and learning
  • Energy, drive and ambition
  • Objective thinking
  • Flexible attitude
  • Service to others
  • Friendliness
  • Versatility
  • Lack of self-consciousness
  1. Discuss some other traits that you think should be added to the list.

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

Background:-

  • Public Relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
  • Public relations is an essential and integrated component of public policy or service. The professional public relation activity will ensure the benefit to the citizens, for whom the policies or services are meant for.
  • Though the organization product or services are good it needs an effective Public Relations campaign for attracting, motivating the public to the product or service or towards the purpose of the programme. It not only encourages the involvement from the public but also results in a better image.

Cantor’s traits for success :-

  1. Response to tension: Most successful public relations executives rather than solving problems by abstract analysis, will reach practical solutions by direct action.
  2. Individual initiative: The successful public relations executive will usually take immediate action before a situation becomes blown out of proportion. He/she takes the initiative to solve the problem; seeks to anticipate and adjust to change; leads the public relations effort.
  3. Curiosity and learning: The public relations professionals should have an inquiring mind, should want to learn everything possible about the product, service, client or organisation, and the competition. Problems are solved by persistence and intelligence. He or she never stops learning.
  4. Energy, drive and ambition: The successful public relations person has energy, drive and ambition. He or she works rapidly and is not afraid to take a calculated risk.
  5. Objective thinking: Public relations executives must be as objective and factual as possible and above all, have excellent judgment. They must know what to do and say, and when.
  6. Flexible attitude: It is crucial that public relations executives have the ability to see things from someone else’s view point.
  7. Service to others: Most successful public relations executives have a natural desire to help people. Pleasure in the success of others is a major motivation for the service behaviour.
  8. Friendliness: Public relations people generally are perceived as likeable, friendly and genuinely interested in others.
  9. Versatility: The successful public relations executive is often able to perform well in a variety of areas because he or she has a venturesome spirit and a lively interest in the world at large. The best practitioners are generalists with a speciality.
  10. Lack of self-consciousness: Successful public relations executives are much less self-conscious than other executives.

 

Some of the other traits which are needed for a public relations officer are :-

  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Passion
  • Dedication
  • Integrity, authenticity and transparency
  • Humility
  • Generosity
  • Respectfulness and courteousness
  • Ability to embrace a service mentality
  • Ability to embrace change