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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 FEBRUARY 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 15 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– Climate change

1) The Green New Deal is the kind of impetus that climate action requires today. Examine. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question

The Green New deal in discussion in USA seeks to address the issues around historical responsibility and the one inevitability of taking action against climate change. The article delves into the details of the deal and examines why it is so important.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain about the green new deal, highlight why it is important in arriving at a solution to the climate crisis, discuss its impacts and talk about the 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 – Highlight about the severity of climate change problems and USA’s reluctance so far in driving the world towards a solution.

Body

  • Explain about the green new deal and the details of it – The Green New Deal “is a four-part programme for moving America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future”.Green New Deal audaciously aspires to make sweeping changes to the environment and economy and meet all of the U.S.’s power demand from clean, renewable and zero emission energy sources by 2030, while at the same time addressing racial and economic justice
  • Highlight why USA is important for climate negotiations and the setback that it gave to global action against climate change by withdrawing from the Paris accord
  • Thereafter, discuss about the implications of the green new deal and how it would provide an impetus to action against climate change

Conclusion – Give your view and discuss way forward.

Introduction:

                The 1.5° report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment identifies the worldwide effects from warming, the disproportionate responsibility borne by the U.S. as a result of its historical emissions, and calls for the country to step up as a global leader.

Green New Deal (GND) is a set of proposed economic stimulus programs in the United States that aim to address climate change and economic inequality.

Body:

Green New Deal:

  • The GND “is a four-part programme for moving America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future”.
  • The name refers to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression.
  • The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.
  • A previous policy similar to the Green New Deal was the 2008 tax incentive for solar panels.

It includes seven goals previously introduced by Ocasio-Cortez:

  • Shift 100 percent of national power generation to renewable sources.
  • Build a national energy-efficient “smart” grid.
  • Upgrade all buildings to become energy efficient.
  • De-carbonize manufacturing and agricultural industries.
  • De-carbonize, repair, and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, especially transportation.
  • Fund massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases.
  • Adopting these goals would make “green” technology, industry, expertise, products, and services a major U.S. export.

USA and climate change:

  • Till date, no U.S. agency or civil society group has publicly acknowledged the responsibility of the country for its historical emissions.
  • USA is the second largest green house gas emitter after China. The increased climate events faced in the last decade is a result of the global warming.
  • At least 100 million people would die from increased heat waves, drought, and infectious diseases. The heat would also kill off 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs.
  • USA pulled out of the UNFCCC’s Paris Deal citing injustice to the developed nations.
  • According to the Energy Information Administration, the share of fossil fuels in total electricity generation in the U.S. in 2017 was 63%, the share of renewables was 17%, and the share of nuclear was 20%.
  • The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, according to which the U.S. ought not to be a signatory to any protocol or agreement regarding the United Nations Climate Convention that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Annex-1 Parties, the wealthy countries, unless developing countries were also similarly required to limit their emissions.

The implications of the green new deal

NGD goals entail dramatic changes in manufacturing, electricity generation, education, livelihoods, sustainable farming, food systems, an overhaul of transportation, waste management, health care, and strong pollution-control measures. It alleviates the fear of the people of USA and ensures their empowerment. The various impacts of GND are

  • Environmental Impact:
    • It states that it is the responsibility of the federal government to create a Green New Deal, which would meet its power demand through renewable sources in 10 years.
    • It calls for a 10-year national mobilisation that would build infrastructure, eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as much as is technologically feasible, and reduce risks posed by the impacts of climate change.
  • Political Impact:
    • It states that the federal government needs to take the full social and environmental costs of climate change into consideration through new laws, policies and programmes.
  • Social Impact:
    • The Green New Deal adds some goals to address income inequality. The effects of climate change are worse on low-income people. For example, droughts raise food prices. Low-income households spend a greater percentage of their earnings on food and can least afford higher prices.
    • It would make universal health care available. It also advocates a universal basic income. This is a government guarantee that each citizen receives a minimum income. It pays enough to cover the cost of living.
    • The Green New Deal calls for a federal jobs guarantee for all.
  • Economic Impact:
    • Businesses can create a profitable competitive advantage by adopting Green New Deal goals. States, like California and Hawaii, have already set goals to become carbon-free.
    • The Green New Deal funds new jobs, including installing solar panels, retrofitting coastal infrastructure, and manufacturing electric vehicles. It asks for new trade rules to stop “the transfer of jobs and pollution overseas.”
    • It recognises that public funds would be needed for these changes and need to be leveraged.
  • Infrastructure:
    • The resolution requires that any new infrastructure spending must address climate change.
    • It wants the government to push for more zero-emissions vehicles and invest in high-speed rail and other public transit.

Conclusion:

The Green New Deal is an acknowledgement by politicians that economic growth, the environment and social well-being go together. It acknowledges the responsibility of the U.S. for its historical emissions and pushes to work for the climate equity and climate justice.


Topic– Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent).

2) Discuss the issues with sugarcane farming in India and suggest way forward?(250 words)

Reference

Why this question

India is the 2nd largest producer of sugarcane in the world and despite that the woes of the sugarcane farmers in India are often in the news. This article gives an in-depth analysis of the issues faced by sugarcane farmers and also discusses the way forward.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss in detail the issues faced by sugarcane producers in the country and discuss solutions to their problem.

Directive word

Discuss – Here the discussion expects you to delve into the problems faced by sugarcane producers of the country and discuss ways to alleviate those problems.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight that India is the second largest sugarcane producing country in the world and despite that fact the woes of the sugarcane farmers are neverending.

Body

  • Discuss the issues faced by sugarcane farmers in the country
    • Non payment of arrears due to  supply demand gap of sugarcane and ineffective policies of the government
    • Resource intensive nature of sugarcane and the problems that it leads to
    • Mill owners barely make profits, thanks to additional GST and transportation costs, among other woes etc
  • Discuss solutions tries by the government for upending the problems such as sugar subsidies, exporting excess production of sugar, production of ethanol from sugarcane to use in cars and buying excess sugar and hoarding it as buffer stock. Highlight that introduction of HYVs has further added to supply demand mismatch. Highlight that Brazil has successfully implemented ethanol production policies to effectively reduce oil import. But implementing the same in India poses a grave threat to groundwater levels, the depletion of which is already a grim ecological catastrophe to be fix.
  • Discuss some potential solutions
    • The Tuteja, Thorat, Nanda Kumar and Rangarajan committees have all contributed to sugarcane price policy in the country
    • striking a balance between ethanol blending policies and shifting farmers away from sugarcane  etc

Conclusion – give your view and discuss way forward.

 

Introduction:

  • India is the second largest producer of sugar (17.1%) in the world after Brazil.
  • Within India, Uttar Pradesh (36.1%), Maharashtra (34.3%) and Karnataka (11.7%) are the three largest producers.
  • Sugar production in India has increased from 24.8 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 32.25 million tonnes in 2017-18 and is expected to touch 35.5 million tonnes in 2018-19. But the domestic demand remains stagnant at around 25 million tonnes.
  • More than 50 million farmers engaging in sugarcane cultivation in over four million hectares of land (with over five lakh employees in sugar mills).
  • Increasing mismatch has further depressed sugar prices, resulting in increasing sugar arrears.

Body:

                               

A high yield sugarcane variety, India witnessed bumper harvests in the last 3 seasons, but sugar prices have fallen and sugarcane farmers have been incurring heavy losses. The issues faced by sugarcane farmers in the country are

  • Multiple Prices:
    • Fixation of Fair Remunerative Price is another bone of contention between the Centre and sugar mills. The Centre decides FRP annually and the states can hike it by issuing a state advisory price or SAP. But mills want the price of sugarcane to be linked to the price of sugar.
    • The higher FRP and SAP poses a grave threat to groundwater levels, the depletion of which is already a grim ecological catastrophe in India.
  • Glut in Production:
    • New seed variety, CO-0238, the country has witnessed bumper harvests in the last three seasons, particularly in 2017-18.
    • But sugar prices have fallen because of the demand-supply mismatch and sugarcane farmers have been incurring heavy losses.
    • 36 MMT of sugar, against consumption of 26 MMT, is being produced since 2018, which involves high risks like high storage costs and spoilage.
  • Unpaid dues to farmers:
    • The sugar production by mills also went up across the country, due to which the sugar prices plummeted so much that the sugar mills in India cumulatively owe Rs 22,000 crore to farmers for cane supplied in 2017-18.
  • Mismanaged policy:
    • In December 2009, the government announced its National Policy on Biofuels, which called for blending petrol with 5 per cent ethanol.
    • In 2015, the target was raised to 10 per cent. But this was never achieved. Brazil, the world’s biggest sugarcane producer, depends on ethanol, and not sugar, as main revenue source from sugarcane and blends 27 per cent ethanol with petrol.
    • There are several impediments to the solutions proposed by the government which include sugar subsidies, exporting excess production of sugar, production of ethanol from sugarcane to use in cars and buying excess sugar and hoarding it as buffer stock
  • Delay in payment of late fees:
    • After the crushing season is over, the mill is supposed to transfer the money to farmers’ bank accounts within 14 days, failing which it should pay 15 per cent interest annually on the amount, says the Union government’s Sugarcane Control Order of 1966. But mills rarely pay on time.
  • Infrastructure issues:
    • Sugarcane is a weight-losing crop which needs to be crushed at the earliest from time of harvest.
    • The poor connectivity, lack of transportation facilities and distant sugar-mills cause huge losses to farmers due to decline in quality of sugarcanes.
  • Miscalculations:
    • In October 2016, Uttar Pradesh announced the average sugarcane yield estimates for every district for 2017-18. These estimates are the basis on which the mills buy sugarcane. Farmers say that these estimates have turned out to be much less than the actual yield.

Way forward:

  • Rangarajan committee (2012) proposed decontrol of sugar industry and linking sugarcane prices with market price of sugar to account for this structural imbalance.
  • Based on the report, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) recommended a hybrid approach of fixing sugarcane prices, which involved fair and remunerative price (FRP) or floor price and revenue sharing formula (RSF). Under this approach farmers’ revenue from sugarcane would be higher if the price of sugar and by-products is high.
  • This is similar to many other committees formed by the government to recommend the sugar industry decontrol. Committees under Mahajan (1998), Tuteja (2004), Thorat (2009) and Nandakumar (2010) had similar recommendations.
  • Ease the market control of government on export and import. The move is to help India (17% of world production) to enable its exports (only 4% of world export), but leaving it all to the market is risky.
  • Do away with minimum distance between mills to enable competition.
  • The new national policy on biofuels 2018, expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice.
  • Policy modifications to increase the ethanol blending vis-à-vis the foreign countries like Australia which has 85% blending. Better prices for ethanol can also help in export of the same.
  • To diversify crops and ensure that sugarcane production falls. This requires long-term investment, and the government will have to encourage farmers to cultivate crops like pulses and oilseeds.
  • Better irrigation techniques to reduce the water usage.
  • Reducing the information asymmetry to improve farmer’s knowledge about the possible output in a year using BigData technique.

Case-study: In2012, the sugarcane-water stories of farmers in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajgoli, Maharashtra, were replete with sour details when International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group intervened along with Olam International and Solidaridad. The collaboration, called ‘Madhu Shree’, recognised water as a key risk-factor, because in 2015, it was rated as the highest global risk by the World Economic Forum, considering its contribution to three of the top five global risks.


Topic– India and its bilateral relations

3) India Saudi ties require the maintenance of a fine balancing act. Analyze. (250 words)

Hindustantimes

Why this question

The upcoming visit of Saudi crown prince to India has brought the focus on India’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and the tightrope of bilateral relations that has had to navigate in West Asia. The article examine India Saudi relationship and helps us in preparing for the same.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to discuss the contours of the bilateral relationship between India and Saudi Arabia and expects us to bring out the fine balancing act that India has had to maintain in its relationship with west Asian countries. The question expects us to discuss the issues and provide a way forward.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the upcoming visit of MBS to India and how this has brought focus on India Saudi relationship.

Body

  • Discuss the contours of the bilateral relationship
    • Modi’s visit to Riyadh in 2016 gave a fillip to security and economic ties with Saudi Arabia. More recently, Modi met MBS on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, and the latter spoke of Saudi investment in India’s national investment and infrastructure fund.
    • India, for its part, has refrained from even a hint of disapproval of Saudi Arabia disastrous military intervention in Yemen or its misguided attempts to isolate Qatar
  • Discuss the tight balancing act that India has had to navigate in West Asia in the context of its relationship with Saudi Arabia
    • India’s own tightrope with Iran, and Pakistan’s recent manoeuvrings with the Saudis create a tricky set of issues for New Delhi to navigate with the Saudis.
    • Discuss the close ties of Saudi Arabia with Pakistan and how saudi stand on terrorism in India has been an irritant
    • Highlight the complexities associated with India Iran Saudi triangle
    • Discuss the humanitarian crises and how India has had to maintain a stoic silence

Conclusion – Give your view on India Saudi bilateral relations and discuss way forward.

 

Introduction:

        Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman’s India visit comes at an important juncture in the geopolitics of southwest Asia as well as in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. India’s own tightrope with Iran, UAE and Israel and Pakistan’s recent manoeuvrings with the Saudis create a tricky set of issues for New Delhi to navigate with the Saudis.

       

Body:

India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. The contours of India – Saudi Arab relations:

The relations between India and Saudi Arabia revolves around two important areas –

Trade and investment

  • The Delhi Declaration signed during King Abdullah’s visit in 2006 called for a closer economic engagement and energy partnership.
  • The two sides re-affirmed their deep commitment to strengthen the ‘strategic partnership’ envisaged in the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ in 2010.
  • Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner after China, US and UAE. It is a major source of India’s energy security requirement that counts for almost 1/5th of India’s crude oil requirement.
  • Saudi Arabia is India’s top supplier of crude oil.
  • India’s major exports to Saudi Arabia include basmati rice, textiles and garments and machinery, while it imports organic and inorganic chemicals, metal scrap, leather, gold and oil from Saudi Arabia.
  • The volume of bilateral trade between both countries during 2016-17 recorded at $25.079 billion.
  • Saudi Aramco is set to partner with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in developing an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture with Indian public sector involvement.
  • Saudi Arabia has investment in India’s national investment and infrastructure fund.

 

Defence and security cooperation

  • Saudi Arabia is home to more than 3 million Indian people.
  • India and Saudi Arabia share common grounds when it comes to maritime security and defence cooperation fight against extremism and terrorism.
  • The Indian government approach to Saudi Arabia has broadly been continuous with the pattern of bilateral relations since 2006.
  • The Indian high level visits to Riyadh in 2016 gave a fillip to security and economic ties with Saudi Arabia. These were followed up by talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
  • A comprehensive security dialogue between the national security advisers of the two nations has been announced, besides a joint working group on terrorism.
  • India, for its part, has refrained from even a hint of disapproval of Saudi Arabia disastrous military intervention in Yemen or its misguided attempts to isolate Qatar.

 

The tight balancing act that India has had to navigate in West Asia in the context of its relationship with Saudi Arabia are

 

  • Saudi’s’ close ties with Pakistan:
    • India maintains neutrality because Saudi Arabia has close military and strategic ties with Pakistan which is often a source of continuing strain for India.
    • Saudi perceives Pakistan as a major asset it can use to check the spread of Iranian influence.
    • Saudi needs Pakistan to contain Tehran’s ability to influence events in Afghanistan after the American withdrawal through its Tajik and Hazara allies.
  • India-Iran-Saudi triangle:
    • Iran is Saudi Arabia’s chief adversary in West Asia. Salman has made containment of Iran his top foreign policy priority.
    • The Saudi-Iranian rivalry is being played out across the region, from Syria to Yemen.
    • India has deepened its engagement with Iran, be it on oil trade or the Chahbahar port.
    • Iran’s Chahbahar port represents a strategic investment for India which hopes to use the facility to connect with the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC) that extends to Central Asia and to bypass Pakistan en route to Afghanistan.
    • With the Trump administration reimposing sanctions on Iran, the Saudis will want to prevail upon countries like India to minimise their dependence on oil imports from Iran, and so squeeze the latter.
    • Saudi Arabia is interested in curbing Iranian influence in Afghanistan.
  • Complex Relationships:
    • India’s tilt towards Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is not a risk-free move. Iran continues to exercise much influence in West Asia and can help shape events in Afghanistan by shoring up the Taliban against the U.S.
    • As tensions rise in West Asia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have coalesced more closely against Iran under the U.S.-sponsored Middle East Security Alliance (MESA).
    • Concurrently, the recent escalation between Iran and Israel on the Syrian front suggests that tensions are unlikely to drop soon.
    • the sectarian-based conflicts and the proxy wars that constantly weaken the Middle East’s security and stability make it extremely complex for India to stabilize its interests in the region
  • Humanitarian crises:
    • India has been tight-lipped about the recent perpetrated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Crown prince.
    • India has also not taken sides on the Yemen war in which Saudi has been a major belligerent.

 

Way Forward:

  • India should take advantage of any benefit that accrues from India’s economic relations with Saudi Arabia but should not pin much hope on Riyadh in the political-strategic sphere.
  • Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia has created a roadmap for social and economic transformation and enabling the private sector is at the heart of it. India can reap this opportunity.
  • Maintaining a close relationship with the Arab world without disrupting the relationship with Iran, and refraining from getting politically involved in any conflict in the region, could be seen as continuity in terms of India’s engagement with the Middle East.

Topic– Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information,

4) Sharing of personal information should be governed by certain rules. What do you think should be those principles. Discuss.(250 words)

Reference

 

Directive word

Discuss- this is an all-encompassing directive which mandates us to write in detail about the key demand of the question. we also have to discuss about the related and important aspects of the question in order to bring out a complete picture of the issue in hand.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to write in detail about the principles which should govern information sharing i.e how governments should regulate information sharing of citizens, customers in the increasingly digital world.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  increasing importance and generation, use of personal information in today’s world and mention the nature of entities holding and sharing such information.

Body-

Discuss in points about the principles which should govern information sharing. E.g

  • Such rules should  provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  • Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  • Seek advice, if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  • Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared.
  • Consider safety and well-being etc.

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

 

Introduction:

        The recent incidents of Cambridge Analytica, hacking of credit cards in India, Wannacry incident show that the personal information of users aren’t secure with private as well as State stakeholders. Although the internet affords a certain level of anonymity, there are increasing ways in which personal information can be at risk.

The right to privacy is a fundamental right which necessitates protection of personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy.

                       

Body:

To an identity thief, personal information can provide instant access to financial accounts, credit record, and other assets. The sharing of personal information should be guided by certain golden rules as given below

  • To provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  • Be open  and  honest  with  the  individual  (and/or  their  family  where  appropriate)  from  the  outset about  why,  what,  how  and  with  whom  information  will,  or  could  be  shared,  and  seek  their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  • Seek advice from other practitioners, or your information governance leads, if you are in any doubt about sharing  the  information  concerned,  without  disclosing  the  identity  of  the  individual  where possible.
  • Wherever possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared.
  • Consider safety and well-being: base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  • Necessary, proportionate,  relevant,  adequate,  accurate,  timely  and  secure:  ensure  that  the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
  • Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it –whether it is to share information or not.
  • All organisations handling personal data need to have comprehensive and proportionate arrangements for collecting, storing, and sharing information.

 

Conclusion:

 There are needs for a greater significance on organisations being transparent and accountable in relation to their use of data. Sharing of information between practitioners and organisations is essential for effective identification, assessment, risk management and service provision. Fears about sharing information cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of users at risk of abuse or neglect.


Topic-  Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information,

5) RTI act  faces several issues and constraints on demand side as well as the supply side in its implementation. Discuss those issues and constraints.(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 issues and constraints faced in implementation of the RTI Act from the point of demand side as well as the supply side.

Structure of the answer

Introduction- write a few introductory lines about the  RTI Act and mention how it has empowered citizens and when was it enacted and implemented.

Body-

  1. Discuss the issues from the demand side. E.g
  • Low public awareness
  • Quality of awareness
  • Constraints faced in filing applications
  • Poor quality of information provided etc.
  1. Discuss the issue from the supply side. E.g
  • Failure to provide information within 30 days
  • Inadequate trained PIOs and First Appellate Authorities
  • Obsolete record management Guidelines etc.

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

 

Introduction:

The Right to Information Act was hailed as a major act towards a strengthened democracy and the following features prove that it has been able to deliver for what it was made –

  • Fight corruption: Its ability to fight corruption has significantly increased its hold in India.
  • Ensure Transparency: The enactment of this act ensured transparency in the bureaucratic systems.
  • Fight for Rights: It has increased its position as a major in charge for the fight of rights of the people.

Right to Information Act of India is world’s most extensively used transparency legislation. But despite 13 years of functionality, this act hasn’t been able to achieve the goals.

 

Body:

 

Demand Side:  This dimension pertains to the information seeker side and follows the issues and constraints faced by the information seeker, while filing for information request.

  • Low public awareness:
    • Section 26 of the Act states that the appropriate Government may develop and organize educational programmes to advance the understanding of the public, especially disadvantaged communities, regarding how to exercise the rights contemplated under the Act.
    • As per the survey it was revealed that only 15% of the respondents were aware of the RTI Act.
    • The awareness levels in Women, Rural population, OBCs and SC/STs were very low vis-à-vis the men, urban population and general category respectively.
  • Quality of awareness:
    • The quality of RTI awareness in common public is significantly low.
    • The Awareness on provisions of appeals and complaints (Section 18) was 48% amongst the citizens who were not satisfied with the response they got from the PIOs. Out of this 48%, who were aware of this provision, only 20% used it.
  • Constraints faced in filing applications:
    • The RTI Act under section 27(1) and 28(1) specifies to the appropriate Governments and the Competent Authorities to make rules pertaining to implementation of the Act.
    • Under Section 6 of the RTI Act, PIOs are required to provide reasonable assistance to the applicant in drafting and submission of the application.
    • Non-availability of User Guides for RTI implementation for information seekers.
    • Inconvenient submission channels for RTI application, payment channels for submission of application fees
  • Poor quality of information provided:
    • More than 75% of the citizens are dissatisfied with the quality of information being provided.
    • The corresponding figure for OBC/SC/ST category of citizens stood much higher with 86% dissatisfied citizens.
  • Constraints faced in inspection of records:
    • Under Section 7(9) of the Act, information is to be provided in the form it is requested in, unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the Public Authority.
    • 89% of the PIOs said that they did not use the provision for inspection of records.

 

Supply Side: This dimension pertains to the PIO, Nodal Department for RTI implementation and Administrative Training Institutes involved in imparting RTI training. This dimension covers the issues and constraints faced by the Public Authority from the point of receipt of a RTI request to the point when information is delivered to the applicant.

  • Failure to provide information within 30 days:
    • More than 50% of the information seekers mentioned that it took more than 30 days to receive the information from the PIO.
    • The experience of citizens from disadvantaged communities was similar to the overall experience levels
  • Inadequate trained PIOs and First Appellate Authorities:
    • An in-depth understanding of the RTI Act is a basic requirement of a PIO to discharge duties effectively.
    • As per the findings of the survey conducted under this study, only 55% of surveyed PIOs had received RTI training.
    • Lack of refresher training and low level of awareness on key SIC judgements are an issue.
    • It was observed that the training provided to the PIOs is restricted to RTI Act and lack of behavioural training.
  • Obsolete record management Guidelines:
    • Ineffective record management system and collection of information from field offices leads to delay in processing of RTI applications.
    • The current record management guidelines at Centre and in most states are not geared to meet the requirements specified under the RTI Act.
    • There is lack of any electronic document management system in any of the Departments (basis the Information Provider Survey)
  • Non-availability of basic Infrastructure:
    • Lack of infrastructure at PAs: The Implementation of RTI requires the PIOs to provide information to the applicant through photocopies, soft copies etc.
    • While these facilities are considered to be easily available at a district level, it is a challenge to get information from Block/ Panchayat level.
    • The use of Information Technology in acceptance or delivery of RTI applications is minimal in the Public Authorities.
  • Lack of motivation among PIOs:
    • In addition to lack of resources, PIOs lack the motivation to implement RTI Act.
    • During the RTI workshops organised in the surveyed states, PIOs cited that there were no incentives for taking on the responsibility of a PIO.

Conclusion:

The second Administrative Reforms Commission has rightly called the RTI as “Master key to Good Governance”. The need of the hour is to weed out the flaws and plug the loopholes to guard this people’s legislation. The words of Sir Francis Bacon — “Knowledge is power” — aptly bring out the essence of the Right to Information Act (RTI).

       


Topic– Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information,

6) Discuss the measures that need to be taken to enhance the accountability and clarity in role under the RTI act, 2005. (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 recommendations that we have for improving the working of the RTI Act and how accountability can be improved and what roles need to be made clear.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  RTI act and how it has increased accountability of the government and the bureaucracy and new roles it has created.

Body-

Discuss the measures that need to be taken to enhance the accountability and clarity in role under the RTI Act. E.g

  • Creation of RTI Implementation Cell by appropriate Governments.
  • Strengthening implementation set-up at Public Authority
  • Annual self assessment by Nodal Departments
  • Conduct branding and promotion campaigns to educate the citizens about the use of RTI Act in order to increase citizen involvement in the decision making process
  • Alternative Channels for submission of RTI requests etc.

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

 

Introduction:

        The Right to Information (RTI) Act, operationalised in October 2005, was seen as a powerful tool for citizen empowerment. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.  It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places and bringing to limelight various scams. The act now faces multiple challenges.

       

Body:

        RTI cannot be satisfactorily implemented until and unless the roles and responsibilities at all the execution and monitoring levels are clearly defined and the monitoring process strengthened. The measures that need to be taken to enhance the accountability and clarity in role under the RTI Act.

 

  • Creation of RTI Implementation Cell by appropriate Governments:
    • To ensure co-ordination between the appropriate Government and the Information Commission in discharging the duties mandated under the RTI Act, it is recommended that there should be an RTI Implementation Cell under the appropriate Government.
    • Conduct national level workshops, inviting CIC, SICs, Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders of RTI to discuss the RTI Progress across the nation.
  • Strengthening implementation set-up at Public Authority:
    • Preparation of “RTI readiness Plan” to assess the current preparedness and plan for the next 3 years.
    • Assess the quality of record keeping and ensure good standards of records management. Coordinate and arrange adequate training for required staff in the authority.
  • Annual self assessment by Nodal Departments:
    • It is suggested that the Centre/State Nodal Departments should carry out an annual self-assessment exercise.
  • Awareness Generation:
    • Conduct branding and promotion campaigns to educate the citizens about the use of RTI Act in order to increase citizen involvement in the decision making process.
    • A massive awareness campaign is necessary to educate the citizens about the RTI Act and encourage citizen involvement.
    • To use of multi-media campaigns in local languages for awareness.
  • Improving convenience in filing requests Recommendation:
    • Alternative Channels for submission of RTI requests like Customer Service Centres, RTI Call Centres, RTI Portal etc.
    • Department of Posts to assist in drafting and forwarding the application/appeal for the State Government
    • A conducive and facilitative environment at Government offices is a necessary condition to ensure that the citizens are able to apply and receive information in a convenient manner
  • Convenient options for collection of Fees:
    • Convenient payment modes for applying from outside the State like Indian Postal Order, Demand Draft etc.
    • Department of Posts should introduce “RTI Envelopes” which would have an inbuilt cost of application fee.
    • Electronic Payment Gateway, which would be required for the payment to be made from the RTI portals
  • Enabling environment & capacity building:
    • Creation of a Knowledge Resource Centre.
    • Capacity Building for Training.
    • Making Record Keeping “RTI Friendly”.
    • Development of Web-based applications for PAs and Information Commissions.
    • Improve Motivation of PIOs.
    • Earmarking Budget for implementing the recommendations
  • Others:
    • Repealing of the Official Secret Act.
    • Introducing an oath of transparency.
    • Opening up the working of parliamentary standing committees for public access.
    • A centralized database of all RTI applicants with their information requests and responses from information providers would enable the Information Commission to publish more accurate numbers in the annual reports.

 

Conclusion:

        RTI Act has transparency, accountability and participation as its mandate and is considered equally important legal document after the Constitution. There is a necessity to undertake the measures to strengthen this powerful tool that can deliver significant social benefits.  It  can  provide  a strong  support  to  democracy  and  promote  good  governance  by  empowering  citizen’s ability  to  participate  effectively  and  hold  government  officials  accountable  rather  than just an information provider.


Topic– Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information,

7) Discuss the role played by key stakeholders under the Right to Information Act 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 key stakeholders in implementation of the RTI Act and define in detail the role played by them.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the RTI Act. e.g mention the huge role played by the RTI Act in giving the citizens of the country access to public information and empowering them.

Body-

DIscuss the role played by the key stakeholders. E.g

  1. Civil Society Organizations.
  • enhancing the reach and awareness of RTI among the masses. I
  • it is mostly with the support of the social activists and Civil Society Organizations that a person in a village is able to use the RTI Act for ensuring his basic rights.
  • However given the geographical size & population, the reach of Civil Society Organizations and social activists is limited.
  • contribution towards training of PIOs and AAs and made them aware of their roles and responsibilities under the RTI Act. Media
  1. Media
  • It has played an important role in generating awareness at a mass scale.
  • While there has been no major media campaign for promoting the usage of RTI Act, nonetheless the awareness on the Act has been generated through news articles based on RTI investigation.
  • Journalists at times have played a dual role – as the users of RTI Act and as watchdogs, monitoring and scrutinizing the implementation of the Act.
  1. Central Government
  • Basic institutional structure/processes has been set up as per the RTI act requirement
  • Department of Personnel & Training has been made the Nodal Department for the RTI implementation at the Central level.
  1. State governments.
  • Various State Governments had already enacted laws for access to information in some form or the other,
  • some State Governments have taken innovative initiatives in line with the spirit of the Act. The key initiatives are: – Jankari Call Centre, Government of Bihar etc.

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

Introduction:

RTI act was enacted with the objective to establish a practical regime for citizens to access information held by Public Authorities. The first decadal study of the working of the Right to Information Act in 2016 revealed the increasing role it has played in the interaction between the people and the government and its agencies.

It has introduced a new awareness about the rights of citizens and highlighted openness and transparency as essential features of governance. It imparted a sense of accountability in official conduct and helped to make public servants responsible for their decisions and actions.

Body:

Based on the secondary research with key stakeholders, the key roles played by various entities are:

  • Civil Society Organizations:
    • Civil Society Organizations and social activists are enhancing the reach and awareness of RTI among the masses.
    • It is mostly with the support of the social activists and Civil Society Organizations that a person in a village is able to use the RTI Act for ensuring his basic rights.
    • However given the geographical size & population, the reach of Civil Society Organizations and social activists is limited.
    • Civil society has also made contribution towards training of PIOs and AAs and made them aware of their roles and responsibilities under the RTI Act.
  • Media:
    • Media has played an important role in generating awareness at a mass scale.
    • While there has been no major media campaign for promoting the usage of RTI Act, nonetheless the awareness on the Act has been generated through news articles based on RTI investigation.
    • In the context of RTI implementation, journalists at times have played a dual role – as the users of RTI Act and as watchdogs, monitoring and scrutinizing the implementation of the Act.
    • Various media entities have contributed to the mass awareness and bringing in transparency through their websites.
  • Central Government:
    • Basic institutional structure/processes has been set up as per the RTI act requirement (like appointment of Information Commissioners, PIOs, section 4(1) (b) etc.)
    • Department of Personnel & Training has been made the Nodal Department for the RTI implementation at the Central level
  • State Government:
    • Post the enactment of the Central Act, some State Governments have taken innovative initiatives in line with the spirit of the Act.
    • Jankari Call Centre, Government of Bihar: Bihar Government has initiated a six seater call centre. This call centre facilitates a caller in drafting the RTI application and the fee is collected through the phone bill. Requisite changes have been made in the rules for acceptance of the application through this channel.
    • RTI Helpline in Bangalore is providing RTI information to citizens.
    • “Train the Trainer” concept in Assam: Assam has adapted a “Train the Trainers” concept, where the Government trains the CSOs/NGOs to impart training to citizens on RTI in order to maximize the reach of RTI and ensure that there is local ownership and sustainability.
    • Review of Public Authorities by Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission.
    • Public hearings at the district headquarters by Kerala State Information Commission

Conclusion:

        RTI Act has the potential to bring in a socio-economic revolution, provided that various agencies take up their responsibilities as per the spirit of the Act.

       


Topic– code of ethics and code of conduct

8) Critically examine whether code of ethics should be made legally enforceable for politicians and civil servants in India? (250 words)

Key demand of the question.

The question expects us to highlight the pros and cons of making code of ethics legally enforceable for ensuring probity in public life. Finally we need to provide our fair and balanced opinion and discuss way forward.

Directive word

Critically 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 . 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.

Introduction – explain about what is meant by code of ethics – Code of ethics represents certain values and norms that standardise one’s behaviour in different aspects of life. It leads to morality in actions and thus ensures fairness and justice to all.

Body

  • Explain why making code of ethics legally enforceable would be beneficial by highlighting what kind of situation can be avoided
    • Prevalence of corruption
    • Lack of probity in public life
    • Horse trading, defections often show lack of integrity and organizational ethics. Officials taking prejudiced decisions or favouring a ideology while discharging official duties
  • Discuss the relevance of code of ethics
    • It helps one in situations of dilemma. One may follow the code and function ethically.
    • Sets benchmark for appropriate behavior. Provides a framework for reference in case discretionary powers are to be used.
    • The relevance is more in present society where values and ethics are on decline either seemingly because of greater awareness or in reality
  • Discuss the limitations
    • A law will have limited utility, improvement of morals is required
    • Add to litigation
    • Not possible to define everything in a code, loopholes will be there etc

Conclusion – give your view and discuss way forward by talking about the recommendations of 2nd ARC

 

 

Introduction:

Code of ethics is a written set of rules issued by an organization to its workforces and management to help them conduct their actions in accordance with its primary values and ethical standards.

 

Body:

Relevance of Code of ethics:

  • Code of ethics defines the minimum requirements for conduct, and behavioural expectations instead of specific activities.
  • Example: if an organization is committed to protecting the environment and “being green”, the Code of Ethics will state that there is an expectation for any employee faced with a problem, to choose the most “green” solution.
  • When faced with ethical dilemmas or debatable situations, what’s articulated in the Code of Ethics can help guide decision making.
  • Sets benchmark for appropriate behaviour. Provides a framework for reference in case discretionary powers are to be used.
  • Code of Ethics regulates the judgment of the organisation and is publicly available.
  • The relevance is more in present society where values and ethics are on decline either seemingly because of greater awareness or in reality

 

Making code of ethics legally enforceable would be beneficial because

  • Code of ethics acts as a moral compass during decision making.
  • Huge Prevalence of corruption and Lack of probity in public life can be reduced.
  • Horse trading, defections often show lack of integrity and organizational ethics.
  • Officials taking prejudiced decisions or favouring a ideology while discharging official duties will affect the socio-economic justice as envisaged by our Constitution.
  • It increases the accountability and transparency of the officers and politicians in their work.
  • Helps to curb the politician- bureaucrat nexus which leads to favouritism, crony-capitalism, conflicts of interest.

 

However, the limitations of Code of ethics are:

  • A forced code of ethics will have limited utility as there is a need for improvement of morals, bring in a behavioural change in the officials and politicians
  • Non-compliance of code of conduct derived from Code of Ethics can add to litigations and burden the already judiciary.
  • Not possible to define everything in a code as the scope is too vast leading to ambiguous situations.

Way forward:

  • The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) had proposed the inclusion of a Public Service Code in the draft Public Service Bill, 2007.
  • The commission outlines the desirable qualities that make the civil services efficient. They include impartiality, integrity, dedication to public service, political neutrality, adherence to the highest standards of probity, objectivity, empathy for the weaker section of the public.
  • It highlighted that efforts made by individuals in leadership positions in organization to inculcate these values in within the organization can make a difference.
  • The Public Service code would facilitate the employees to discharge their official duties with competence and accountability, care and diligence, honesty , without discrimination and in accordance with law
  • The statutory backing through Civil Services bill to the Code of Ethics would guide the civil servants towards behaviours, choices and actions that benefit the community.

Conclusion:

In a democracy, all persons holding authority derive it from the people. All public functionaries are trustees of the people. Thus, a code of ethics must be present, however the legal enforcement is a topic which must be well deliberated before implementation.