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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 DECEMBER 2018


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 DECEMBER 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 2


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

1) Critically analyze whether the existing surveillance framework in India needs to be revisited. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The government has recently brought out a notification which authorizes several government agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt online communications and data. Besides, there have been several instances like the facebook fiasco which point out the importance of privacy in the modern times. In this context it is essential to analyze the surveillance framework in India and deliberate upon it in detail.

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 dig deep into the surveillance framework in India and bring out its salient aspects and issues arising out of it. Based on our discussion we have to form a personal opinion on the issue.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  growing surveillance tendencies on part of the states. E.g mention the recent notification authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt online communications and data etc.

Body-

  1. Discuss the surveillance framework in place in India today. E.g Two statutes control the field: telephone surveillance is sanctioned under the 1885 Telegraph Act (and its rules), while electronic surveillance is authorised under the 2000 Information Technology Act (and its rules); the procedural structure in both cases is broadly similar, and flows from a 1997 Supreme Court judgment: surveillance requests have to be signed off by an official who is at least at the level of a Joint Secretary etc.
  2. Discuss the problems with the present regime. E.g First, it is bureaucratised. Decisions about surveillance are taken by the executive branch (including the review process), with no parliamentary or judicial supervision; Second, the surveillance regime is vague and ambiguous. Under Section 69 of the IT Act, the grounds of surveillance have been simply lifted from Article 19(2) of the Constitution, and pasted into the law; the regime is opaque. There is almost no information available about the bases on which surveillance decisions are taken, and how the legal standards are applied etc.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue. E.g Any impingement upon the right to privacy must be proportionate. One of the factors of the proportionality standard is that the government’s action must be the least restrictive method by which a state goal is to be realised.

 Background :-

  • Recently the government passed an order  authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt online communications and data .This caused a furore in both Parliament and the wider civil society.

Existing surveillance network :-

  • Telephone surveillance is sanctioned under the 1885 Telegraph Act (and its rules), while electronic surveillance is authorised under the 2000 Information Technology Act (and its rules).
  • The procedural structure in both cases is broadly similar, and flows from a 1997 Supreme Court judgment: surveillance requests have to be signed off by an official who is at least at the level of a Joint Secretary.
  • The latest notification was only issued under the 2009 Information Technology Rules.
  • The powers under the IT Act are broader, and include the power to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received, or stored in any computer resource
  • While the amended Section 69 of the IT Act, and its 2009 regulations, empowered the central and state governments, or any of its authorised officers, to conduct such activities, the notification has empowered 10 agencies (including the Commissioner of Police, Delhi) to do so.
  • The existing statutory framework indicated a case-by-case basis for invoking such surveillance powers, based on authorisation by the “competent authority”.
  • Orders for such digital surveillance actions could only originate after the pre-approval of the Union home secretary or the appropriate state government’s home secretary; law enforcement agencies had no competence to do so. However, the MHA notification denudes the competent authority of such powers and sets up the stage for mass surveillance.

Why the existing surveillance network needs to be revisited :-

  • No parliamentary supervision:-
    • Decisions about surveillance are taken by the executive branch (including the review process), with no parliamentary or judicial supervision
  • Affects privacy:-
    • An individual will almost never know that she is being surveilled means that finding out about surveillance, and then challenging it before a court, is a near-impossibility.
  • Surveillance regime is vague and ambiguous. Under Section 69 of the IT Act, the grounds of surveillance have been simply lifted from Article 19(2) of the Constitution, and pasted into the law.
  • There is almost no information available about the bases on which surveillance decisions are taken, and how the legal standards are applied. Indeed, evidence seems to suggest that there are none: a 2014 RTI request revealed that, on an average, 250 surveillance requests are approved every day.
  • Heavily bureaucratised and minimally accountable regime of surveillance does nothing to enhance security, but does have significant privacy costs.
    • For example, while examining the U.S. National Security Agency’s programme of mass surveillance, an American court found that out of more than 50 instances where terrorist attacks had been prevented, not even a single successful pre-emption was based on material collected from the NSA’s surveillance regime.
  • Government that is not checked in any meaningful way will tend to go overboard with surveillance and, in the process, gather so much material that actually vital information can get lost in the noise. 
  • It is important to assess the balance on the basis of constitutional principles and fundamental rights.
  • After the Supreme Court’s decision in the privacy emphasising the need for necessity and proportionality and Aadhaar cases that allowing disclosure of information in the interest of national security in the hands of a joint secretary is unconstitutional and judicial scrutiny may be necessary, these legal provisions are untenable.
  • Issues with the recent order:-
    • The order does not provide the procedure or the object for such an exercise or the quantum of period for which a person’s private data could be intercepted. 
    • Government has clarified that existing processes will be followed and every case of interception would continue to require permission from the home secretary and review by a panel headed by the cabinet secretary. However, even these processes do not have adequate safeguards against misuse
      • For example, in emergent situations a designated agency can approach a service provider and seek immediate access to electronic information. It would only need to notify the home secretary in three days. In case there is no post-facto approval in seven days, the interception will have to stop. Therefore agencies effectively have a blanket licence to snoop for a period of about ten days.
    • An individual may not even know if her electronic communications are being intercepted/monitored. If such surveillance comes within the person’s knowledge, due to the obligation to maintain confidentiality and provisions in the Official Secrets Act, the person would not be able to know the reasons for such surveillance. This can make surveillance provisions prone to misuse.
  • Goes against the nature of SC verdict:-
    • SC in Puttaswamy judgment had asked the government to always carefully and sensitively balance individual privacy and the legitimate concerns of the state. This has been neglected.

Way forward:-

  • There must be parliamentary oversight over the agencies that conduct surveillance.
  • Surveillance requests must necessarily go before a judicial authority, which can apply an independent legal mind to the merits of the request.
  • Every surveillance request must mandatorily specify a probable cause for suspicion, and also set out, in reasonably concrete terms, what it is that the proposed target of surveillance is suspected of doing. 

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

2) The proposed amendment to section 79 of IT Act would amount to serious curbing of free speech. Critically discuss.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The article analyses the proposed amendment to IT Act and discusses the implications of the amendments on privacy and national security. This is a developing news and needs to be prepared to understand the nuances of the debate.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the proposed amendments to IT act and debate the amendment by bringing out its pros and cons. Finally we need to provide our fair and balanced opinion and discuss the way forward.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain that in an effort to curb fake news etc, central government has proposed stringent changes under the draft of Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) that govern online content.

Body

  • Explain the changes that are proposed.
    • The changes will require online platforms to break end-to-end encryption in order to ascertain the origin of messages.
    • deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying or removing or disabling access to unlawful information or content
    • social media platforms will need to comply with the central government “within 72 hours” of a query.
    • There should be a ‘Nodal person of Contact for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance
  • Discuss the rationale behind such proposed amendments
    • rising incidents of violence and lynching in the country due to misuse of social media platforms
    • Threat to national security etc
  • Discuss how the amendment might be a threat to freedom of speech and expression. Analyze other issues in the proposed amendment

Conclusion – Based on arguments made above, give your view on the issue and highlight what should be the way forward.

Background :-

  • Recently Indian government made a proposal to amend the Intermediary Rules, 2011, that govern how online platforms and internet service providers adhere to the Information Technology Act, 2000.

  

Section 79 of IT act :-

  • Section 79 of the IT Act provides immunity to intermediaries (for example, websites like Facebook) for any illegal content posted by third parties.
  • Under this section and the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) 2011, if an intermediary receives ‘actual knowledge’ of any illegal content posted on it, it is obligated to remove such content within 36 hours.
  • On failing to do so, the intermediary will lose its immunity from being sued. Illegal content under this section is much broader than that under Section 69A. It can include, for example, content that is offensive, obscene or defamatory.

Proposed amendments to section 79 of IT act :-

  • The proposed rules give the government the power to censor a wide range of information it considers objectionable and break the encryption of online content to trace its origin.
  • The proposed amendment makes it compulsory for online platforms to proactively use technology which would enable identifying unlawful content.
  • Another amendment is the requirement to break end-to-end encryption so that origin of messages can be traced.
  • The changes will require online platforms to break end-to-end encryption in order to ascertain the origin of messages.
    • The social media platforms to “deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying or removing or disabling access to unlawful information or content”.
  • As per the amendment, the social media platforms will need to comply with the central government “within 72 hours” of a query.
  • There should be a ‘Nodal person of Contact for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance. The social media platforms will be keeping a vigil on “unlawful activity” for a period of “180 days”.

Why such decision was taken :

  • Instances of misuse of social media by criminals and anti-national elements have brought new challenges for law enforcement agencies, including inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony, incitement of violence, public order, fake news, etc.
  • Incidents of lynchings reported in 2018 were mostly alleged to be because of fake news/ rumours being circulated through WhatsApp and other social media sites.
  • The social media platforms are required to follow due diligence under Section 79 of the IT Act. They have to ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime.
  • The proposed amendments in the draft of the Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018, Rule 3(9) is bound to force social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter to remain vigil and keep users on their toes before posting or sharing anything that is deemed as “unlawful information or content”.
  • The changes proposed by the central government is aimed at curbing fake news or rumours being spread on social media and check mob violence ahead.

Issues :-

  • Security experts fear this could lead to pre-publication censorship, hurting the very idea of free speech on the internet.
  • Government will legally end immunity for online platforms, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for the content which is transmitted and published by end users and this may lead to gross misuse of data by them, especially for political purposes.
  • The proposed changes have once again given rise to a debate on whether the government is intruding into the privacy of individuals, evoking sharp response from opposition parties.

Topic– Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

3) A centralised judicial recruitment process will help in solving the problems in the lower judiciary. Comment.(250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The NITI aayog has recently put forward the idea of a centralised recruitment for judicial posts under the aegis of UPSC. The idea has been mooted as a solution to several problems faced by the lower judiciary in India. It is therefore important to look into the issue and bring out its credibility.

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 express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an opinion as to how/ how not the centralised judicial recruitment process will help in solving the problems in the lower judiciary. Your opinion has to be based on a proper discussion and presentation of valid arguments and facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  problems faced by lower judiciary. E.g delayed justice, high number of vacancies, less use of technology and mention that a central judicial recruitment process under the UPSC is aimed at solving the vacancy problem and that it will lead to a better represented lower judiciary etc.

Body-

DIscuss about the issue in detail so as to form an opinion thereupon. E.g The argument that the creation of the AIJS and a centralised recruitment process will help the lower judicial services is based on the assumption that the current federal structure, that vests the recruitment and appointment for the lower judiciary in the hands of State Governors, High Courts and State Public Service Commissions, is broken and inefficient. On facts, however, this assumption does not hold up; Going by the latest figures published by the Supreme Court in its publication Court News, many States like Maharashtra and West Bengal are doing a very efficient job when it comes to recruiting lower court judges; the problem of vacancies is not uniform across different States. The solution is to pressure poorly performing States into performing more efficiently;  several States already provide for reservations in their lower judicial service etc.

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

Background:-

  • Recently NITI Aayog mooted the creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for making appointments to the lower judiciary through an all India judicial services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in order to maintain high standards in the judiciary.

Why a centralised judicial recruitment process can help :-

  • Centralised recruitment process will help the lower judicial services is based on the assumption that the current federal structure, that vests the recruitment and appointment for the lower judiciary in the hands of State Governors, High Courts and State Public Service Commissions, is broken and inefficient.
  • Argument in support of the AIJS is that its creation, along with provisions of reservations for the marginalised communities and women, will lead to a better represented lower judiciary. 
  • The All Indian judicial service is an attempt to ensure that younger judges are promoted to the SC and HCs. Creating an All India Judicial Service would make judiciary more accountable, professional and equitable. 
  • It will improve the quality of judicial officers in high courts, and one-third of the judges would enter the high courts through the route of promotion from subordinate courts. 
  • Judges of the Supreme Court are drawn from the high courts. In this process, the persons  eventually selected into the judiciary would be of proven competence. 
  • The quality of adjudication and the dispensation of justice would undergo transformative changes across the judicial system, from the lowest to the highest levels. This can have far-reaching impact on the quality of justice and on people’s access to justice as well. 
  • It will attract competent law students to judiciary who currently do not like to go for state judicial  services due to the hassles involved in it. 
  • Given the strength of the judiciary in subordinate courts is over a fifth short of the total number of  the sanctioned posts, such a move is likely to help ease pendency. 
  • Only the judges of proven competence will preside over the benches and it will minimise the scope of aberration, arbitrariness and nepotism in judiciary 
  • In the absence of AIJS, it is very difficult to maintain the required judge strength in district courts and high courts 
  • Recruitment by the Union Public Service Commission would ensure utmost objectivity and 
    transparency in selection. 
  • India can look in to the French model, where the judiciary is operated by a career judicial service. 
  • This will also end the current turf war between the judiciary and the executive over judicial appointments.
  • Instituting an Ail Indian judicial service would mean that nationally dominant SC, ST and OBC groups would be at an advantage as they can compete for posts across the country, which they would otherwise be disqualified from because of the domicile requirement.

Centralisation of judicial process does not help :-

  • States role has been very efficient :-
    • Many States are doing a very efficient job when it comes to recruiting lower court judges. In Maharashtra, of the 2,280 sanctioned posts, only 64 were vacant. In West Bengal, of the 1,013 sanctioned posts, only 80 were vacant. 
    • Several States already provide for reservations in their lower judicial service. For example, at least 12 States, which include Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, provide for caste-based reservation in the direct recruitment examination for district judges from the bar. 
  • Problem of vacancies is not uniform across different States. The solution is to pressure poorly performing States into performing more efficiently.
  • Issue with centralization:-
    • The Indian Administrative Service recruitments are through the UPSC and reportedly has a vacancy rate of 22%, while the Indian Army’s officer cadre, also under a centralised recruitment mechanism, is short of nearly 7,298 officers.
  • This would lead to an erosion of the control of the high courts over the subordinate judiciary, which would, in turn, affect the judiciary’s independence 
  • Issue of conflict is that an all India judicial service may hamper the progression of state judicial service officers.
  • Quality of the subordinate judiciary is by and large average, although there are some bright 
  • Available number of judges is unable to clear the huge backlog of over 30 million cases.
  • There are at least 4,400 vacancies for judges in the subordinate judiciary.

Way forward :-

  • The central government should provide support to improving judicial infrastructure in the State 
  • Provide appropriate manpower and infrastructure to reduce the pendency of cases to three years 
  • There is an urgent need for the judiciary to revisit the manner in which cases are heard and 
  • All disputes below a certain pecuniary value need not be adjudicated by courts at all and could be left to other social devices and institutions.

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

4) The passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 has been criticized by the very community it seeks to protect. Examine.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

The bill had been pending since a long time and was recently passed by the Lok Sabha. The provisions of the bill have been criticized on various fronts. It is essential to analyze the bill in detail and bring out its shortcomings.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the details of the Bill and discuss the reasons why the Bill has faced such criticism. Thereafter, we need to highlight the changes that are required and discuss way forward.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – write a few introductory lines about the  Transgender persons bill passed by the LS recently. E.g the objectives of the bill includes protecting interests of transgenders, defining of the term ‘transgender’, to give them recognition and setting up of a national transgender council.

Body

  • Discuss the provisions of the bill and highlight the issues
    • The Bill fails to legally recognise a self-defined gender identity – which is a cornerstone of the universal battle for transgender rights and has been recognised by the Supreme Court. In 2014, in National Legal Services Authority versus Union of India, the Supreme Court stated that a trans person could choose to identify as male, female or third gender. Explain that the Bill requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “District Screening Committee” to get certified as a trans person.
    • While the Bill prohibits discrimination, it does not explicitly include a definition of discrimination that covers the range of violations that transgender persons face.
    • despite the Supreme Court in 2014 directing the government “to extend all kinds of reservations in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments” to transgender persons, the Bill does not contain any provisions related to affirmative action.
    • Criminalisation of anyone who “compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging” increases the risk that transgender persons – many of whom have limited employment opportunities – will be criminalised because of misuse of the law, as has occurred in several instances.
    • This Bill simply does not go far enough to protect transgender individuals who are subjected to abuses relentlessly, and with relative impunity.
  • Discuss the changes required in the Bill to make it more constructive for the transgender population

Conclusion – Give your view on the Bill and discuss way forward.

Background:-

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted the first-ever nationwide survey of the transgender community in India and found that 92% of the people belonging to the community are subjected to economic exclusion.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 aims at defining the transgender people and prohibiting discrimination against them. This bill was passed with 27 amendments in the Lok Sabha recently.

Transgender bill :-

  • Definition of transgender :-
    • The new definition terms a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities.
  • The Bill aims to stop discrimination against a transgender personin various sectors such as education, employment, and healthcare. It also directs the central and state governments to provide welfare schemes for them.
  • The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.

Constraints in the bill :-

  • Government, however, has refused to address two major issues – decriminalising homosexuality under Section 377 that directly concerns transgenders and reservation for transgender community in educational institutions and government organisations. 
  • The right to self-determination of a transgender has been rightly recognized by the Supreme Court under right to life in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, but the objective means to achieve this has not been focused upon. 
  • The appointment of the District Screening Committee is also against the NALSA judgement which recognized right to self-identity as an inalienable right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India
  • Similarly, the bill is silent in areas of health, affirmative action,and decriminalising activities that marginalised trans communities are compelled to undertake to eke out a living. There are also no penal provisions in the law to guard against the trans community being subjected to atrocities and to protect its members in prisons and juvenile homes.
  • Another shortcoming in the implementation which the Bill will face is lack of mechanism for representation of the transgenders. For example, as we have a National Commission for Women and for lower castes, a similar type of provision ought to be made here too.
  • Although the Bill may come into force, it may still not be effective due to lag in the authorities to act for the rights of the transgenders.
  • Further, some provisions of the Bill are also in conflict with the international conventions on transgenders.
  • Activists had objected to transgender persons not being defined properly and the Bill not having any provision for self-determination of gender.
  • The right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee is demanded by activists.
  • The Bill has prescribed punishments for organised begging. Trans community isn’t begging because that’s what they want to do. Trans youth who don’t find jobs join begging due to systematic discrimination in education, job, and healthcare. 
  • The Transgender Bill does not mention any punishments for rape or sexual assault of transgender personsas according to Sections 375 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is only when a man forcefully enters a woman.

Way forward :-

  • The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological. Gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.
  • Sensitising the workforcein protecting the rights and dignity of the community. 
  • Leading voices from the community have called for vocational programmes in creative fields, a recommendation made by the Standing Committee too.
  • There is need for a comprehensive surveyon the socio-economic status of the community.
  • Transgender welfare boardsare needed in different States.
  • Transgender persons should take part in the national Census to generate accurate data.
  • Explicit policies on transgender-friendly registration and non-discriminationand healthcare workers need to be trained to provide non-judgmental care.
  • Standing committee recommendations :-
    • Recommended re-drafting the definition of a ‘transgender person’ to make it inclusive and accurate; providing for the definition of discrimination and setting up a grievance redress mechanism to address cases of discrimination and granting reservations to transgender persons. 
  • There is a requirement of special courts which can deal with the offences against transgenders speedily and effectively.
  • The Supreme Court has held that the right to self-identification of gender is part of the right to dignity and autonomy under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, objective criteria may be required to determine one’s gender in order to be eligible for entitlements.

General Studies – 3


Topic: Indian economy : Issues

5) Having a standard GST rate for majority of goods will make GST much simpler and take it closer to the idea of one nation, one tax. Critically analyze.(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

The article discusses the recent decision by GST council to prune tax rates on various items and the announcement of the vision of our PM to have 99% of goods in a single tax slab. The idea of having a single rate for majority of goods was one of the initial promises of GST reform. The idea, however, needs to be analyzed in depth to understand its implications.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out the vision of having a standard GST rate, highlight the steps taken off late to achieve this and the pros and cons of such a measure. Finally, we have to provide a fair and balanced conclusion and discuss the way forward.

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 – Highlight the recent step of the GST council and the vision of PM.

Body

  • Discuss that GST was initially promoted as one nation, one tax, and one market. Thereafter, GST council decided to have multiple rates to take care of revenue losses, make indirect taxes more equitable and progressive etc
  • Analyze the advantages offered by having a standard tax rate such as ease of tax administration, simplified taxation structure etc
  • Discuss the issues that a standard rate might lead to – concerns related to revenue losses of the state, make the tax less progressive etc
  • Discuss how such issues can be resolved such as through centre’s assurance to state regarding funds transfer, having demerit and luxury goods in higher tax bracket etc

Conclusion – Give a fair and balanced opinion on the need for a standard GST rate and discuss the way forward.

Background :-

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council recently reduced tax rates on 22 items, of which seven were from the highest slab of 28%.
  • GST was initially promoted as one nation, one tax, and one market. Thereafter, GST council decided to have multiple rates to take care of revenue losses, make indirect taxes more equitable and progressive etc.

Issues with single standard GST rate :-

  • Standard rate might lead to concerns related to revenue losses of the state,
  • Makes the tax less progressive as it treats rich and poor in same way. A single GST rate structure in India would have made an apt case for ‘equality’ in taxes, but would have failed on the grounds of ‘equity’.
  • The revenues loss prospects under multiple slabs will be much less as opposed to the single rate, 

Advantages offered by having a standard tax rate :-

  • Ease of tax administration
    • Would make GST even more simpler to enforce and comply 
  • Simplified taxation structure.
  • Stability in tax regime as it may not be revised frequently.
  • Helpful in making more accurate estimation from tax collection.

How such issues can be resolved :-

  • Centre needs to give assurance to states regarding funds transfer
  • A simpler tax filing regime, fewer slabs and a broader tax base are some things the government needs to address in the year ahead.
  • There are many goods that are still outside the GST net, which comes in the way of seamless flow of input tax credit. Key items outside its ambit are electricity, alcohol, petroleum goods and real estate. This aspect need to be looked into.

Topic – Disaster and disaster management

6) Discuss the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) of the government of India. (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 NCRMP, its  aims and objectives and the strategy enunciated by the project to achieve those aims.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– Write a few introductory lines about the  NCRMP. E.g The Government of India has initiated the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) with a view to address cyclone risks in the country.The overall objective of the Project is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and UT’s of India.

Body

Discuss about the NCRMP in further detail. E.g

  • NDMA under the aegis of MHA implements the Project in coordination with participating State Governments and the NIDM.
  • The Project has identified 13 cyclone prone States and Union Territories (UTs), with varying levels of vulnerability. These States/UT have further been classified into two categories,based on the frequency of occurrence of cyclone,size of population and the existing institutional mechanism for disaster management. These categories are:
  • Category I: Higher vulnerability States i.e. Andhra Pradesh,Gujarat,Odisha,Tamil Nadu and West Bengal; Category II:Lower vulnerability States i.e. Maharashtra,Karnataka,Kerala,Goa,Pondicherry,Lakshadweep,Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The strategies of the project include-

(i) improved early warning dissemination systems

(ii)enhanced capacity of local communities to respond to disasters

(iii)improved access to emergency shelter, evacuation, and protection against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high areas

(iv)strengthening DRM capacity at central, state and local levels in order to enable mainstreaming of risk mitigation measures into the overall development agenda etc.

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

Background:-

  • Cyclones are among the most dangerous and most destructive natural disasters that can occur. They have been responsible for about 1.9 million deaths worldwide over the last two centuries, and it is estimated that 10,000 people are killed each year by these storms. Cyclones tend to do the most damage in coastal areas, where they have been known to alter the landscape and remove forest canopy.
  • 13 coastal states and Union Territories in the country are affected by Tropical Cyclones (TCs). 

National cyclone risk mitigation project:-

  • The Government of India has initiated the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) with a view to address cyclone risks in the country.
  • Objective:-
    • The overall objective of the Project is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and UT’s of India.
  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) will implement the Project in coordination with participating State Governments and the National Institute for Disaster Management (NIDM).
  • The Project has identified 13 cyclone prone States and Union Territories (UTs), with varying levels of vulnerability. These States/UT have further been classified into two categories, based on the frequency of occurrence of cyclone, size of population and the existing institutional mechanism for disaster management.
  • These categories are :-
    • Category I: Higher vulnerability States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
    • Category II: Lower vulnerability States i.e. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Pondicherry, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Project Objectives :

  • The Project development objective of the NCRMP is to reduce vulnerability of coastal communities to cyclone and other hydro meteorological hazards through
    • (i) improved early warning dissemination systems
    • (ii)enhanced capacity of local communities to respond to disasters
    • (iii)improved access to emergency shelter, evacuation, and protection against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high areas
    • (iv)strengthening DRM capacity at central, state and local levels in order to enable mainstreaming of risk mitigation measures into the overall development agenda

Components:-

  • There are several components of the scheme such as Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS, Cyclone Risk Mitigation Infrastructure, Construction of Multipurpose Cyclone Shelters (MPCS), Construction of “Missing Roads and Bridges, Underground Cabling of One City, Technical Assistance for Disaster Risk Assessment and Recovery and Project Management Support Consultancy Services.

Positives:-

  • India’s first automatic Early Warning Dissemination System (EWDS) is commissioned by 2018 in Odisha. The project aims to establish fool-proof communication system to address existing gaps in disseminating disaster warning up to community level.
    • The EWDS is a first-of-its-kind automatic public address system in the country. The project is being implemented under National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project with World Bank’s help.
    • It will help to warn vast population of state residing along its coast from State headquarters through loud sirens from towers installed at 122 locations in six coastal districts in event of occurrence of natural disasters like a tsunami or cyclone.
  • According to the report, West Bengal, the only eastern state to be included in this second phase of the project, and Gujarat have tendered more than 50% of the planned work and begun to implement them. Karnataka and Goa have also issued tenders to build cyclone shelters.

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Disaster and Disaster management”.

7) Bhopal Gas tragedy which still rocks the conscience of the nation was an industrial disaster. Explain what are industrial disasters and discuss ways through which they can be prevented. (250 words)

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to list out and explain the various kinds of industrial disasters along with ways through which we can address them.

Directive word

Discuss – Your discussion should revolve around explanation of various kinds of industrial disasters and how to prevent them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain what industrial disasters are and mention what kind of disaster Bhopal Gas tragedy is.

Body

  • Discuss and explain the various kinds of industrial disasters such as chemical disasters, nuclear disasters, biological disasters, fire related disasters etc. Give examples for them as well
  • Explain the impact of such disasters such as loss of lives, property, harm to surrounding environment etc
  • Discuss ways through which they can be prevented – quality control standards, Inspection and maintenance etc

Conclusion – highlight that of precautions are taken, such disasters can be avoided.

 

Background:-

  • India has continued to witness a series of industrial disasters during the last 33 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy, including a chlorine gas leak in Vadodara (2002) that affected 250 people, a toluene fire at Mohali (2003), a chlorine gas leak at Jamshedpur (2008), and boiler furnace explosion at the Unchahar power plant (2017) which killed 43, affecting more than 80 people.

Industrial disasters :-

  • Industrial disasters are disasters caused by industrial companies, either by accident, negligence or incompetence. They are a form of industrial accident where great damage, injury or loss of life are caused.
  • The industrial and chemical disasters can occur due to accident, negligence or incompetence. They may result in huge loss to lives and property. The Hazardous industries and the workers in these industries are particularly vulnerable to chemical and industrial disasters.
  • The most significant chemical accidents in recorded history was the 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster, in which more than 3,000 people were killed after a highly toxic vapour, (methyl isocyanate), was released at a Union Carbide pesticides factory.
  • There are various kinds of industrial disasters such as chemical disasters, nuclear disasters, biological disasters, fire related disasters etc.

Measures taken in India  and issues thereof :-

  • Preventive measures taken :-
    • While the Bhopal tragedy forced corporate India to take many preventive measures, including undertaking mock-drills and use of better technology, the government too enforced new legislation to deal with its aftermath.
  • Many state governments imposed restrictions on inspection by inspectors, leading to the constitution of inspection teams which could visit any factory once in a year only after getting permission from a competent authority. As a result of this, the number of factory inspections reduced, and in turn, the accident rate increased.
  • Many state governments also set up their own expensive and sophisticated Industrial Hygiene Laboratory, possessing equipment such as noisometer, audiometer, mercury analyser, personal sampler, etc to monitor health parameters at workplace.
    • In some states, these labs have not functioned even for a single day, as the government failed to sanction staff to run it, leaving the costly equipment to simply lie locked up in the store.
  • The Factory Inspectorate finds it difficult to enforce statutory legislations because of manpower shortage.
  • The state government, too, has spared no efforts to lower the morale of this staff. This has reduced the significance of Factories Act whose provisions are being flouted with impunity by powerful industrialists.

How to prevent them :-

  • Chemical disasters, like the one in Bhopal, are preventable if risks are identified and addressed early on.
  • It will take the combined effort of competent authorities, private sector and society to prevent tragic environmental events from happening.
  • Some measures include:
    • Developing policies to ensure that industries operate in accordance with technical and safety standards and allocating resources for risk assessment and monitoring.
  • Most of all, it’s important to adhere to environmental norms. Taking environmental safety and public health risks seriously, and promoting do-no-harm industrial development can make a big difference.
  • There is a clear need to promote clean development that innovatively addresses potential negative impacts on the environment.
  • To prevent future environmental disasters, all sectors could also do more to integrate environmental emergency preparedness and response activities into strategies and sustainable development programs.

General Studies – 4


Topic– Part of the series of Ethics case studies.

8) An undergraduate course required for graduation has a reputation for being extremely hard to pass, much harder than similar courses. When posting materials to the class website, the teacher accidentally posts a test with answers indicated at the end. The teacher notices the error immediately and deletes the test, but before she does so a student downloads the test. The website does not allow the teacher to see whether the test was downloaded, and because she deleted the test with the answers so quickly, the teacher later uploaded the same test without the answers and required students to take the test. The Student Code of Ethics prohibits students from taking a test when there is reason for them to believe they have confidential information regarding the answers to a test they are not supposed to have. Violations of the Student Code of Ethics are punishable.

 

  1. What are the issues of integrity, ethics and law posed in the case study?
  2. What options do the teacher and the student have?
  3. what should they do and why?(250 words)

 

Guidelines for framing the answer

Some of the issues raised in this case study include

  • the reasons why the teacher reposted the same test;
  • the undue difficulty of the course, and whether that or the teacher’s actions justify a student who uses the answers accidentally disclosed by the teacher;
  • the relationship between ethical concerns and the Student Code of Ethics;
  • and the relationship of the student to the teacher and fellow students,
  • and the effect the student’s actions may have on fellow students etc.

This list is not exhaustive and therefore it is directed to critically study the issue and bring out the issues involved therein.

Answer :-

The case study revolves around the concept of responsibility and integrity of the respective stakeholders (teacher, students and the particular student who downloaded the test)

  1. Issues involved:-
    1. Why has the teacher reposted the same test despite being aware that answers were attached to the original test that was posted . This shows the sense of irresponsibility and lack of professional competence of the teacher.
    2. Also in the context of the student who has downloaded the test it is to be seen whether she informs the teacher regarding the issue or she circulates the answers among other students .The latter shows the utter lack of integrity and ethics on the part of the student.
    3. The Student Code of Ethics prohibits students from taking a test when there is reason for them to believe they have confidential information regarding the answers to a test they are not supposed to have. Violations of the Student Code of Ethics are punishable.
  2. Options left with the teacher and the student:-
    1. Teacher :-
      1. The teacher can reload a new question paper. This will be better as there will be no doubts that anyone has downloaded the test .
      2. The teacher need not upload the new test. This would put some doubts whether the test has been downloaded or not .As one of the students has downloaded the test and the teacher is not aware of it.
  • Also the teacher has the option to ask if any of the students has downloaded the answers. But this option does not ensure clarity as students might not reveal the truth.
  1. Student :-
    1. The student need not inform anyone and just prepare the answers downloaded and attend the test. This will not lead to any chaos as teacher and other students are not aware of the issue. But the student can face guilt of cheating and getting marks which is of no use for her in long term. Also the students who have actually worked hard for the exam are affected adversely.
    2. The student can send the answers to other students and this can ensure everyone clear the test but ethical integrity is lacking and in future they don’t gain anything with such utter lack of integrity.
  • The student can go reveal the truth to the teacher.
  1. The course of action :-
    1. The teacher need to ensure that a new set of questions are uploaded as this is the only fool proof mechanism that can ensure the guarantee that none of the students have access to the answers. The teacher need to request the authorities to make the website transparent so that there is more transparency in the system.
    2. The student need to make teacher aware that the answers have been downloaded by mistake and then the teacher can take necessary action by uploading new set of questions. The student is following the code of ethics and he/she will not be punishable for the actions.