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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 FEBRUARY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 16 FEBRUARY 2019


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.


Topic– Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

1) Explain the main issues involved in Rafale deal controversy and discuss CAG’s report in this regard?(250 words)

Reference

Economictimes

Why this question

The controversy over Rafale deal has become a major talking point in newsroom debates and oped pages. It is important to understand the issues involved as well as the details of cag report on the deal.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to highlight the main points of controversy in the Rafale deal. Thereafter, it expects is to discuss the content of CAG’s report and debate it. Finally we need to provide a fair and balanced opinion and discuss the 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 – Explain about the deal and highlight the incessant noise surrounding the deal.

Body

  • Discuss the main reasons why the deal is controversial
    • cost breakdown of Rafale in the original bid under UPA and in the 36 aircraft in the government-to-government deal under NDA are not in the public domain.
    • There was no agreement on the terms of Technology Transfer previously. What was on offer was just Licence Manufacturing technology. Under the current agreement, the 36 Rafale procurement offset proposal supports the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through Article 12 of the IGA. It states that the French Party will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’ by the industrial supplier notably through offsets for 50% value of the supply protocol. Overlooking HAL for a private company appears controversial to some
    • India has managed to negotiate the acquisition of the latest weapons package for the Rafale. These are the new weapons, beyond the standard package such as SCALP and METEOR
  • highlight the details of CAG report
    • CAG found the 2016 deal to be 2.86 per cent cheaper than the deal negotiated by the UPA
    • present government has left a five-squadron gap in India’s defence preparedness, with no arrangement for five out of the seven squadrons, each of 18 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, that the Air Force needs and began the process of procuring in 2001.
  • Give your view on the cost calculation, examine whether such secrecy in public procurement is justified etc

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

The 36-Rafale deal is an offshoot of the tender issued by the Ministry of Defence in August 2007 to buy 126 fighter jets, 108 of which would be made in India by public sector HAL. After extensive trials of six foreign aircraft, the IAF selected the Rafale and Eurofighter jets as having met its requirements.

India’s intention to buy the 36 aircraft in “fly-away” condition was announced by Prime Minister during his visit to France in April 2015 and, a few days later, then Defence Minister had announced that the earlier 126-fighter deal — stalled over price since 2012 — was dead. The deal for the 36 aircraft — a new acquisition — was signed between India and France in 2016.

The CAG report has examined the €7.87-bn deal for 36 Rafale aircraft to assess “if the objectives of Indo-French joint statement and the objectives set out for Indian Negotiating Team by Defence Acquisition Council were achieved”.

Body:

The controversy of the Rafale deal:

  • Lack of Transparency:
    • The present deal as direct government-to-government agreement, as against the earlier open tender, is criticised.
    • Cost breakdown of Rafale in the original bid under UPA and in the 36 aircraft in the government-to-government deal under NDA are not in the public domain.
    • The Government’s refusal to share the price details which was ‘Classified information’, citing the Security Agreement provisions.
    • This was as per the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the Governments of India and France.
  • Accountability to Parliament:
    • The government is duty-bound to share the full pricing details with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament.
  • Pricing Issues:
    • The price for 126 aircraft that was quoted nearly a decade ago, was never finalised, and no contract was signed or executed.
    • The basic price of each Rafale aircraft was said to be around Rs 670 crore.
    • At the time of its signing, the 36-aircraft deal was said to be worth around Rs 59,000 crore (€ 7.878 billion).
    • Breakup given by Top defence officials: the basic cost of the 36 aircraft was € 3.402 billion (approximately Rs 670 crore per aircraft), the weaponry was for € 710 million, spare parts for € 1,800 million, weather and terrain compatibility fits for € 1,700 million, and performance based logistics support for € 353 million.
  • Transfer of Technology:
    • The offset proposal supports the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through Article 12 of the IGA.
    • The current deal states that Dassault will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’ by the industrial supplier notably through offsets for 50% value of the supply protocol.
    • The absence of transfer of technology (ToT) component is raised as an issue.
    • Also, no role is guaranteed for any Indian public sector company, including HAL.
    • c Some India-specific enhancements that were part of the earlier deal do not figure in the 2016 deal
  • Conflict of Interest:
    • The bypassing of procedures, the excessive interest of the Prime Minister’s Office in the deal and the changes made by the government in the terms of the deal and even in the Defence Procurement Policy itself cannot be explained without reference to the offset factor.
    • The offset deal granted to private MNC without any competition has raised eyebrows about lack of transparent bidding.
    • This has increased the suspection of possible chances of Nepotism.

CAG’s report on Rafale deal:

The CAG report concludes that the 2016 agreement is slightly better in terms of both pricing and delivery than the 2007 deal.

The concerns of the CAG’s findings:

  • The 2.86% gain in the aircraft price claimed by the CAG is at variance with the taller claims made by the government.
  • The question of 50% offsets in the deal, which has been at the centre of a major controversy due to involvement of Indian MNC, has not been dealt by the CAG in this report.
  • The CAG report is unhappy about the defence ministry’s repeated demand not to discuss specific prices in the Rafale deal, as not disclosing price was presented as part of the agreement between India and France on the planes.
  • The original issue of bringing down the total acquisition from 126 to 36 aircraft was not given much attention.
  • There is also no answer to the question why the offer of a lower price made by the manufacturers of another shortlisted aircraft, the Eurofighter, was neither considered nor used to bargain for a better price.
  • The CAG’s assessment of savings in India Specific Enhancements (ISE) to be around 17% is also not properly documented and needs deeper examinations.
  • The CAG report makes it clear that the Air Force’s inability to specify its requirements clearly was to blame, in large part, for the delay.
  • It stresses on the fact that the defence acquisition processes in India require reforms and streamlining.

Conclusion:

The report comes amidst varied revelations about possible lapses and deviations in the Rafale deal. The CAG report is less likely to bring closure to the controversy over the deal as it does not clarify all the doubts about the deal. There is a need to deliberate the report in the Parliament in its forthcoming sessions and bring in the required transparency about the deal.


Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

2) Examine whether the National Clean Air policy will help in restoring the air quality?(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

Air pollution has become one of the most stubborn urban challenge that India has to deal with year after year. A national policy for clean air was much required and the article delves deep into the details and an analysis of the policy. This question will help you getting better understanding of National Clean Air Policy.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the details of the policy, examine its need and evaluate how far the policy measures are effective in tackling this problem.

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 – 11/12 cities in most polluted list of WHO were in India. Quote the Lancet report. This reflects the magnitude of the problem and a policy in this regard couldn’t have come any sooner.

Directive word

  • Explain the details of the policy
    • Highlight that the policy acknowledges the severity and urgency of the problem
    • The National Clean Air Policy lays down the road map for Indian cities to clean up their act in the next five years.
    • Cities are declared ‘non-attainment’ if they consistently fail to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM10 (particulate matter that is 10 microns or less in diameter) or Nitrogen Dioxide over a period of five years.
    • Covers various stakeholders such as ministries of road transport and highway, petroleum and natural gas, new and renewable energy, heavy industry, housing and urban affairs, agriculture, and health. Etc
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the policy.
    • Highlight the markers of success such as clear target, drawing learnings from previous measures to tackle pollution etc
    • three-tier mechanism for review of monitoring, assessment and inspection for implementation” under which trained manpower and regular inspection drives will be ensured for “stringent implementation”.
    • Highlight the challenge of implementation

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss the way forward such as strengthening laws to give more teeth to the policy.

Introduction:

                According to a recently released Greenpeace report, 139 Indian cities breached air pollution standards. The report analysed air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The Lancet report in December 2018 said 1.2 million deaths of Indians in 2017 could be attributed to air pollution.

Body:

                The high incidences of polluted cities and increasing mortality due to air pollution pushed the Government to come up with National Clean Air Policy.

The details of the policy

  • NCAP proposes a framework to achieve a national-level target of 20-30 per cent reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
  • The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies.
  • The plan covers 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
  • The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ₹300 crore for the first two years.
  • As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.
  • The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.
  • It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.
  • The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.

Strengths of the policy:

  • Integrated Focus: The NCAP attempts to pull all previous air pollution control plans together under a single strategy that focuses on improving the air quality in 102 ‘non-attainment cities’ across the country.
  • Cross-cutting policy: The policy was launched by the environment minister, but it is massively cross-cutting, involving the ministries of road transport and highway, petroleum and natural gas, new and renewable energy, heavy industry, housing and urban affairs, agriculture, and health.
  • Inclusive: The policy incudes the government think tank NITI Aayog, the central pollution control board, experts from the industry, academia, and civil society as stakeholders.
  • Partnership: The programme will partner with multilateral and bilateral international organizations, philanthropic foundations and leading technical institutions.

Other factors which can make a difference to NCAP

  • The media: In India, the media can be influential when it comes to public health issues, especially those that affect the middle classes and above, and air quality is an obvious campaign issue. Example: Incidences of episodic air pollution during winters in Delhi-National Capital Region in recent years have attracted significant media attention, thus bringing the entire issue of air pollution under regular public scrutiny.
  • Shortcomings of previous actions: Insufficient and higher level of focused time bound initiatives at both city and rural level now appear obligatory to address the issue in comprehensive manner at national level.
  • Clear target: It is to bring down particulate matter 10 and 2.5 levels in the 102 non-attainment cities by 30% by 2024.
  • NCAP recommends support for studies on health and economic impact of air pollution.

The challenges:

  • Teethless: Implementation of NCAP is the biggest challenge as the policy has no teeth, it’s not legally binding. NCAP is a top-down prescriptive approach.
  • The MoEFCC has not drawn upon the precedence of the notification of Graded Response Action Plan or the Comprehensive Action Plan under the Environment Protection Act in Delhi and NCR.
  • One-size doesn’t fit all: NCAP will also have to be more nuanced and adopt appropriate approaches for small and big cities according to their dominant pollution profile while several strategies may remain uniform.
  • It does have a “three-tier mechanism for review of monitoring, assessment and inspection for implementation” under which trained manpower and regular inspection drives will be ensured for “stringent implementation”. But this, disappointingly, is the perhaps the weakest section of this document, too short and vague on specifics.
  • NCAP has not provided for innovative financing mechanism at central and state/city level. The funds allotted are meagre which cannot sustain the grand plans.
  • The ‘polluter pay’ based taxation mechanism to mobilise resources for dedicated funding of pollution control action is also not considered.

Conclusion:

Air pollution control cannot remain only policy intent. Local and national action requires teeth and grit to make a difference and save lives. Within the federal structure, NCAP, while ensuring compliance, will also have to create enough room for tighter action that can be even stronger. State governments and city authorities should be encouraged and enabled to take those extra steps to meet local targets.


Topic – infrastructure

3) Critically analyze the progress made in creating a more efficient transport infrastructure in the country?(250 words)

Livemint

Why this question

The article talks about the progress made in creating an efficient transport infrastructure in the country. One of the chief factors responsible for the takeoff of accelerated growth in the country is on account of poor quality of transport infrastructure. Progress made in this regard would have a key role on taking India to double digit growth. Hence this question.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to bring out why focussing on strengthening the transport infrastructure of the country is important. Thereafter, we need to highlight the progress made and the issues still in strengthening the transport infrastructure of the country. Finally, we need to give our view on the progress made and discuss steps for further improvement.

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 that investments in infrastructure equal to 1% of GDP will result in GDP growth of at least 2% as infrastructure has a “multiplier effect” on economic growth across sectors. Hence the government has focussed on strengthening the same.

Body

  • Highlight the reasons why focussing on transport infrastructure is critical (in brief)
    • Multiplier effect
    • Boost manufacturing thus assist in achieving targets under make in India
    • Enhance public investment and associated Benefits
  • Highlight the progresses made in creating an efficient transport infrastructure in the country
    • Talk about mega projects like Bharatmala and sagarmal
    • Pace of construction of roads and successful implementation of PPP projects
    • Measures taken to enhance road safety
    • Technologically sound projects undertaken etc
  • Discuss the challenges still
    • Highlight that Bharatmala project has been hit by delays and cost overruns as per an NHAI report
    • Implementing the kelar committee report for PPP sector removed several bottlenecks but challenges remain
    • Train routes remain crowded etc

Conclusion – give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

                Infrastructure is a key driver of the overall development of Indian economy. It is seen that investments in infrastructure equal to 1% of GDP will result in GDP growth of at least 2% as infrastructure has a “multiplier effect” on economic growth across sectors. The recent headway made in developing transport infrastructure will prove to be the biggest enabler for growth.

Body:

The reasons for focussing on transport infrastructure is critical because:

  • Infrastructure development helps in poverty reduction due to its high employment elasticity leading to huge job creation capabilities.
  • It also has the trickle-down effect as better transportation infra can lead to access to education, health and other basic necessities.
  • Increasing the manufacturing growth as there is better connectivity, easier movement of goods and services, facilitating private investments
  • It reduces the regional and inter-state disparities and leads to a balanced economic growth by regional equality.
  • Infra sector has huge spill-over effects on other sectors of economy. It has money-multiplier effect too.
  • Better quantity and quality of infrastructure can directly raise the productivity of human and physical capital and in turn growth of nation.

The progresses made in creating an efficient transport infrastructure in the country are

  • At the highest ever pace of construction, more than 35,000 km of national highways has been built in last four and a half years.
  • World-class expressways such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Western Peripheral Expressway.
  • Technologically sound projects which are engineering marvels such as the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge, Chenani Nashri Tunnel and Bogi-Beel bridge.
  • The Bharatmala Pariyojana is unique and unprecedented in terms of its size and design, as is the idea of developing ports as engines of growth under Sagarmala.
  • The development of 111 waterways for transport, FASTags for quicker toll payment and movement of vehicles on highways.
  • The promotion of alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, biofuels, and electricity, as well as innovative modes of travel such as seaplanes and aeroboats. The concept of ‘waste to wealth’ is being employed for generating alternative fuels.
  • Measures are taken to enhance road safety like the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, The Good Samaritan law etc, reducing congestion and pollution levels and providing roadside amenities.
  • Connectivity to our neighbouring countries using an optimal mix of roads and waterways lie Afghanistan and beyond through Chahbahar, or Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand through upcoming highways and waterways.
  • A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Austrian ropeway company Doppelmayr for building ropeways through congested cities and hilly areas.

However, there are still challenges which need to be tackled.

  • Delay in Implementation and execution: While issues around land acquisition and the time required for approvals have seen improvement over the years, India needs to ensure that such problems continue to receive constant attention.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment: Environmental safeguards and guidelines have proven to be one of the major reasons for delay in infrastructure projects, like roads and ports.
  • Given the complexity of infrastructure assets, a “one size fits all” solution will not work. Different models of PPP ownership like Hybrid Annuity, BOT needs to be tried.
  • The capital investments in infra projects are huge, with the NPA crisis seen across public sector banks, credit availability has become difficult. This has in turn lead to twin-balance sheet syndrome with the infrastructure companies also defaulting on their payments.
  • Regulatory issues: Lack of co-ordination between various Government agencies affecting the ease of doing business due to delayed clearances and objections.
  • Absence of a proper dispute resolution mechanism between private players and government agencies leading to pendency of cases in courts as well as the assets in limbo.
  • Poor pre-construction planning: Due to the already adverse effect of various impediments like land acquisition, statutory approvals, delayed financial closure, etc. the pre-construction phase of infrastructure projects is pretty long.
  • Other challenges include Geographical as some regions are unsuitable for infra projects, Ethnic, etc.

Conclusion:

An efficient transport infrastructure is the biggest enabler for growth. India’s growth story should no longer be impeded by a lack of efficient transport infrastructure, and the fruits of this growth should reach everyone in the remotest part of the country.


Topic– Quality of service delivery

4) “Ethical leadership is influencing people through ethics.” Comment.(250 words)

Reference

 

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 about the ethical leadership and express our opinion as to how it is about influencing people through ethics.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  meaning of ethical leadership. E.g write a simple definition of ethical leadership.

Body-

Discuss in points as to how ethical leadership is about influencing people through ethics. E.g

  • Ethical leadership is considered to be one solution for creating a balance between the wellbeing of the subordinates and the wider community, and the organization’s profitability.
  • The leadership theory strongly encourages the leader to place the vision and mission of the organization at the core of decision-making.
  • Ethical leaders explicitly focus attention on ethical standards through communication and accountability processes
  • Ethical leadership encourages and empowers others to take the lead. It has a big mentoring component attached to it, which calls for people to experience the difficulties of leadership etc.

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

Introduction:

                Ethical leadership is a form of leadership in which individuals demonstrate conduct for the common good that is acceptable and appropriate in every area of their life. It is directed by respect for ethical beliefs and values and for the dignity and rights of others.

Body:

The world of business is full of ethical dilemmas, from where to direct scarce resources to serving the local community. Every leader will make ethical decisions, whether or not they acknowledge them at the time. But the decisions they do make can determine whether their leadership is based on an ethical framework or not. Ethical leadership influences the people by

  • Leading by example: A noble quality of a leader is leading by example. As an ethical leader, it’s important to remember that actions often speak louder than words. By practicing and demonstrating the use of ethical, honest and unselfish behaviour to subordinates, ethical leaders may begin to earn the respect of their peers.
  • Champion the Importance of Ethics: One role of an ethical leader is focusing on the overall importance of ethics, including ethical standards and other ethical issues, and how these factors can influence society. As an ethical leader, it’s important to teach peers about ethics, especially in cases where they are faced with an ethical issue in the workplace.
  • Communication and Accountability: Successful ethical leaders tend to be good communicators. It’s an ethical leader’s job to communicate with each member of the team, but also allow for open conversation. It’s important for leaders to build camaraderie with their team. Quality relationships tend to be built on trust, fairness, integrity, openness, compassion and respect.
  • Encouragement and Motivation: Maintaining a positive working atmosphere is an important responsibility of a strong ethical leader. Ethical leaders who lead by example may influence others to do the same. Positive communication among co-workers may help influence job productivity and attitude.
  • Fostering Stronger bonds: Ethical leadership can also involve the management of conduct and collaboration within a team. Typically, morale is higher in the workplace when people are getting along with each other. When co-workers are working as a team, it can help build relationships in the workplace and help the overall performance of the group.
  • Health of the Organization: The importance of maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace has a lot to do with improving the overall health of the organization. An ethical organization can occur when communities of people work together in an environment of mutual respect, where they can grow personally, build friendships and contribute to the overall goal.

Conclusion:

A strong ethical leader has four important characteristics – Values, Vision, Voice and Virtue. The main goal of an ethical leader is to create a world in which the future is positive, inclusive and allows the potential for all individuals to pursue and fulfil their needs and meet their highest potential.


Topic-  Right to Information

5) Information sharing is critical in a democracy. Examine why.(250 words)

 

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to highlight the importance of information sharing in democracy and examine the state of information sharing in our country as well as measures required for improvement.

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 – Explain about the RTI Act and how it ushered in an era of information sharing.

Body – discuss the advantages of information sharing in a democracy such as empowerment of citizens, greater discretion, citizenry is active and involved which deepens the democracy etc. Discuss the current state of information sharing in the country and highlight improvements needed if any.

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

The Right to Information Act, 2005 empowers citizens to get information from any ‘public authority’. The basic objective of the RTI Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. Right to Information Act of India is world’s most extensively used transparency legislation.

Body:

In a representative democracy, average citizens should be able to easily monitor the public actions of their representatives and the politically powerful who seek to influence those representatives. Access to information is one of the keys to democracy. Allowing people to seek and receive public documents serve as a critical tool for

  • Fighting corruption: By reducing the secrecy in which decisions are taken and disclosure of the information and thereby transparency increases. This helps in fighting the corruption and its various evil faces.
  • Making governments more efficient: The responsibility of the governments increases as they have to be accountable to people about their decisions. This brings in the true essence of democracy which enables citizens to more fully participate in public life. The public trust and the credibility of the government will increase.
  • Encouraging investment: It eases the business environment. The investors gain more confidence and are willing to invest and expand better.
  • Empowerment of citizens: Helps persons exercise their fundamental human rights and fight in case it is impinged.
  • Strengthening operations: To strengthen institutions, modernize the public administration and address civil unrest.
  • Reduce Information Asymmetry: To ensure that every citizen is able to access the credible and right information which helps in his overall development.

 

The challenges in information sharing:

  • Structural Constraints: Example: The lack of staff has resulted in lakhs of RTI’s pending. Currently, only seven ICs  are working of which, along with the Chief Information Commissioner, fours ICs are to retire by the end of this year — reducing the strength of CIC to just three, against the mandated strength of 11.
  • Privacy Issues: The Right to Privacy, a fundamental right, has come in the way of information sharing. Issue of fake news and false information through social media outreach is a growing menace leading to volatile situations in society.
  • Geographical reach: Digital divide present in the urban and rural areas hinder the usage of e-Governance tools.
  • Delays in disposing off cases: Example: The number of RTI Appeals with the Information Commissions is growing at a rapid pace year after year. With current volumes of appeals, there seem to be delays in disposing off cases. In Maharashtra SIC, there is a “wait period” of more than 12 months, thus discouraging citizens from filing appeals.
  • Lack of Grievance Redressal: one of the most pressing issues which cuts the link between people and the representatives. The lack of grievance redressal reduces the trust of the people in government authorities as well as impinges their rights.
  • Pressure on Activists: Example: Almost 375 incidences of attacks on citizens have been recorded who sought information about corruption or wrongdoings in various public authorities.
  • Immunities: Example: Act gave relaxation to political parties, judiciary, even according to OFFICIAL SECRET ACT officers refuse to provide the information demanded.
  • Dilution of Laws: Example: Recent Proposal for amendment to RTI act which gives the power to decide the tenure and salary of the ICs to the central government; thereby, directly influencing the independence of the CIC.

Way forward:

  • Repealing of the Official Secret Act as iterated by 2nd
  • Introducing an oath of transparency for bureaucrats and politicians.
  • To use of multi-media campaigns in local languages for awareness of benefits of information sharing.
  • The benefits of setting up regional offices far outweigh the initial capital costs involved in setting them up. So there is a need to set up regional offices to reduce the geographical reach issues.
  • The role of the Centre/State Government is to facilitate the Public Authorities in implementation of the Act. This can happen through providing support to Public Authorities for training, development of software applications, e-Training modules, generating awareness amongst citizens etc.
  • Effective use of Media – print, electronic to reduce the information asymmetry. Increasing the data protection standards to safeguard the privacy of individuals.
  • Social audit as a tool for information sharing and transparency in rural employment programmes should be promoted.
  • E-Governance as a tool at all levels of governance should be adopted to curb corruption, increase transparency and accountability.

Conclusion:

The words of Sir Francis Bacon — “Knowledge is power” — aptly bring out the essence of importance of Information. Information sharing is the key to the Government’s goal of delivering better, more efficient public services that are coordinated around the needs of the individual. It is essential to enable early intervention and preventative work, for safeguarding and promoting welfare and for wider public protection.


Topic-Citizen’s Charters

6) Primarily an adaptation of the UK model, the Indian Citizen’s Charter has certain essential elements and an additional component of expectations from the clients. Discuss.(250 words)

Insightsonindia

 

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 essential elements of a Citizen’s Charter and also how it is different from the primary UK model from which it has been adopted.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Citizen’s Charter. E.g Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in Government of India (DARPG) initiated the task of coordinating, formulating and operationalising Citizen’s Charters.

Body-

  1. Discuss the essential elements of a Citizen’s Charter in India. E.g

-(i) Vision and Mission Statement; (ii) Details of business transacted by the organisation; (iii) Details of clients; (iv) Details of services provided to each client group; (v) Details of grievance redress mechanism and how to access it; and (vi) Expectations from the clients.

  1. Discuss the additional components vis a vis the UK model. E.g
  • Involvement of consumer organisations, citizen groups, and other stakeholders in the formulation of the Citizen’s Charter is emphasised to ensure that the Citizen’s Charter meets the needs of the users.
  • Regular monitoring, review and evaluation of the Charters, both internally and through external agencies, are enjoined.

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

Introduction:

                A Citizens’ Charter represents the commitment of the Organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redress mechanism, transparency and accountability. The concept of Citizens Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users.

                Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in Government of India (DARPG) initiated the task of coordinating, formulating and operationalising Citizen’s Charters.

Body:

The basic objective of the Citizens Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery.

The essential elements of a Citizen’s Charter in India are:

  • Vision and Mission Statement
  • Details of business transacted by the organization
  • Details of clients
  • Details of services provided to each client group
  • Details of grievance redress mechanism and how to access it
  • Expectations from the clients.

India took the cue from UK for the citizen’s charter. However, the Indian model has additional components vis-à-vis the UK model.

  • Citizen-Centric: Expectations from the clients or in other words ‘obligations of the users’.
  • People-Participation: Involvement of consumer organisations, citizen groups, and other stakeholders in the formulation of the Citizens’ Charter is emphasised to ensure that the Citizens’ Charter meets the needs of the users.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regular monitoring, review and evaluation of the Charters, both internally and through external agencies, are enjoined.
  • Charters were required to include standards of service and time limits that the public can reasonably expect, avenues of grievance redress and a provision for independent scrutiny with the involvement of citizen and consumer groups.

Conclusion:

Citizen’s Charter is playing a prominent part in ensuring “minimum govt & maximum governance”, changing the nature of charters from non-justiciable to justiciable & adopting penalty measures that will make it more efficient & citizen friendly.


Topic– Citizen’s Charters

7) Designing Citizen’s Charter is necessary but it also important to ensure that they are meaningful. How can you ensure as an administrator to make Citizen’s Charter a success. Discuss.(250 words)

Insightsonindia

 

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 as to how after framing a Citizen’s Charter, we can ensure that it is successfully implemented.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  Citizen’s charter. E.g mention the purpose of having a Citizen’s Charter.

Body-

Discuss in points as to what should be done to ensure that Citizen’s Charter is successfully implemented. E.g

  • Creating guarantees and redress policies
  • Building service standards into your performance management system
  • Publicizing and comparing performance against the standards
  • Creating awards for meeting tough customer service standards
  • Involve customers in the creation of guarantees, standards, redress policies, complaint systems, and customer service agreements.
  • Educate customers about your services, so they will have realistic notions of what is possible and will understand their own responsibilities.
  • Involve frontline employees in creating standards and other tools – and in figuring out how to meet them – to help them buy in etc.

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

Introduction:

                The main objective of the exercise to issue the Citizen’s Charter of an organisation is to improve the quality of public services. This is done by letting people know the mandate of the concerned Ministry/ Department/ Organisation, how one can get in touch with its officials, what to expect by way of services and how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong. The Citizen’s Charter does not by itself create new legal rights, but it surely helps in enforcing existing rights.

Body:

The citizen’s charter can be made a success by following

  • Creating guarantees and redress policies.
  • Building service standards into your performance management system.
  • Publicizing and comparing performance against the standards.
  • Creating awards for meeting tough customer service standards.
  • Involving customers in the creation of guarantees, standards, redress policies, complaint systems, and customer service agreements: It is  prudent not to assume what the customer wants. Customer surveys are useful here,   but   face-to-face   contact   with   customers   is   even   more  
  • Educate customers  about  your  services,  so  they  will  have  realistic  notions of what is possible and will understand their own responsibilities: Often services won’t work unless customers uphold their end of the deal. Example: tax agencies can’t send speedy refunds if taxpayers don’t fill out their returns completely and accurately.
  • Keep pressure  on  from  outside  the  organization  to  create  meaningful  guarantees, standards, redress policies and complaint systems: Most  organizations  won’t  be  able  to  accomplish  both  setting  meaningful  standards  and  fulfilling  the 
  • Create an outside review process to approve guarantees, standards, redress policies, complaint systems, and the performance measurement processes associated with them.
  • Publicize your   standards,   guarantees,   redress   policies,   complaint   systems, and results: If  people  don’t  know  about  these  policies,  they  will  have  far  less  effect  than  they should. Example: the U.S. Postal Service has publicized its first-class-on-time delivery  standards  (three  days  within  the  continental  S.,  one  day  locally)  and  reported  quarterly  on  its  performance.
  • Involve frontline employees in creating standards and other tools – and in figuring out how to meet them – to help them buy in.

Conclusion:

Thus, it is imperative to develop citizen’s charter which is citizen-centric, people-participative for them to be successful. This will ensure that the guidelines are set for better service delivery by the government.


Topic– challenges of corruption.

8) The real impediments to the fight against corruption are as much the interests of the politico-administrative apparatus as the fatalism and ignorance of the victims. Comment. (250 words)

Reference

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 corruption and express our opinion within the context of the given statement.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  corruption, especially in India.

Body-

Discuss in points as to how corruption is a politico-administrative issue as well as an issue of ignorance of the citizens. E.g

  • Civil servants who refuse to toe the line are removed from office;
  • similarly, businessmen who oppose it are penalised vis-à-vis their competitors.
  • Furthermore, an image of the state has grown up over the years according to which the civil service, far from being a body that exists to implement the rights of citizens – rights that mirror their duties – is first and foremost perceived as the least risky way of getting rich quickly.
  • All of which helps to make corruption seem normal.
  • Public administration in developing countries is often bureaucratic and inefficient. And a large number of complex, restrictive regulations coupled with inadequate controls are characteristic of developing countries that corruption helps to get around.
  • Bring out the importance of information and awareness about one’s rights in cotrolling corruption etc.

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

Introduction:

                India ranks 78 out of 180 countries in the “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018” prepared by global watchdog Transparency International. Not only has it held the economy back from reaching new heights, but rampant corruption has stunted the country’s development.

Body:

Corruption is a result of both politico-administrative issue as well as an issue of ignorance of the citizens.

Politico- administrative issue:

  • Lack of Political will: Many politicians owe their careers and status to corruption and few of them, if any, will take a stand against it, either for fear of upsetting their own careers or the political status quo generally.
  • Use of black money in elections: According to various studies, a Lok Sabha election candidate ends up spending at least 30 Cr. as against the legal limit of only Rs. 70 lakh. In the last 10 year the declared expenditure has increased by more than 400% for the LS elections while 69% of their income came from unknown sources.
  • Criminalization of politics: More than 30% of the legislators in the country have pending criminal cases against them. When law breakers become the law makers, rule of law is the first casualty.
  • Excessive regulations: Rules and regulations which hinder the smooth functioning of the system.
  • Complicated tax and licensing systems: Taxation system which doesn’t follow the cannons of taxation lead to non-compliance. Opacity in the licensing system bolstered with crony capitalism and nepotism.
  • Numerous government departments with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers: Public administration in developing countries is often bureaucratic and inefficient.
  • Monopoly of government controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery. Example: Railways, PDS
  • Lack of transparent laws and processes: Complex laws, delayed judicial processes adds to the woes.
  • Poor salaries to Bureaucrats: low wages in the civil service encourage petty corruption, and the imbalance between the supply of, and demand for, public services likewise creates opportunities for corruption.
  • Colonial bureaucracy: The bureaucracy essentially remains colonial in nature characterized by 19th century laws e.g. Police Act 1861, complex rules, wide discretion, secrecy, moral responsibility devoid of legal accountability and the ivory tower attitude

Ignorance of the citizens:

  • Poverty and Indebtedness: High levels of poverty and indebtedness breeds corruption as they will be forced to pay bribes to get the basic services of education, health, food supply etc.
  • Failure of education system: The value education has failed miserably in India to inculcate the value of empathy, compassion, integrity, equity etc. in the young generation. The lifestyle changes induced by the globalization have further degraded the moral fabric of the society. The low level of education found in underdeveloped countries maintains citizens in a state of ignorance of their rights, barring them from participating in political life.
  • Social discrimination: The poor and marginalized due to their lack of awareness and high dependence on the state become the easy target of exploitation by corrupt officials
  • Changes in lifestyle: Increasing shift towards individualization and materialism has led to increased penchant for a luxurious lifestyle. To earn more money people are willing to adopt even the unethical means with no consideration of others.

Way forward:

  • Strengthening the institutional and legislative framework including the Prevention of Corruption Act, an independent Central Vigilance Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Judges (Inquiry) Act, the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta Act 2013, Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2011, Prevention of Money /Laundering Act, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act which cover a number of areas of criminalization and bribery.
  • Accurate, publicly available information is essential. Example: Implementation of Right to Information Act in its true letter and spirit.
  • E-governance initiatives: e-gov apart from advancing the good governance objectives of accountability and transparency also seeks to reduce the manual interface between state and citizen thus preventing the incidences of bribery.
  • Citizen Charters and Public Service delivery and Grievance Redress Acts in states: Many states like Karnataka (SAKALA initiative) and Rajasthan have enacted such acts to make bureaucracy legally accountable for delivering quality service within stipulate time periods. Bihar is the only state to have a Grievance Redress Act covering all departments.
  • Electoral reforms: Banning the cash donation to political party and imposing limits on the overall expenditure of the political parties. Empowering ECI by giving legal force to MCC and making paid news a criminal offence
  • Bottom-up coalitions work, and work better than individual resistance. Example: Anna Hazare movement – India against Corruption.
  • Social sanctions and economic incentives work better than legal action. Example: Rewarding those who report corruption.