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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 APRIL 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 10 APRIL 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: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

1) In view of the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, discuss the advantages that its implementation would lead to and the concerns that it raises.(250 words)

pib

Why this question:

The question is direct and it is debating about feasibility of simultaneous elections in India.

Key demands of the question:

The answer must provide for a detailed discussion on the possibility of Simultaneous elections in India, associated advantages, disadvantages and way forward.

Directive :

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

Highlight why the issue has come up in recent times in your introduction.

Body

Discuss the following aspects in the answer:

  • As per the question’s demand write the advantages of simultaneous  holding of elections in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
  • It will drastically reduce the cost of elections for both governments and political parties, and the administrative burden on the Election Commission to conduct elections.
  • The imposition of the Model Code of Conduct at regular intervals puts many activities of the government on hold and affects governance. The policy paralysis would be done away with.
  • There will be significant impact on delivery of essential services as more time would be devoted to the developmental activities. Political and social workers would have more time to invest in people oriented programme and grass root democracy.
  • Concurrent polls would reduce the burden from central armed forces and manpower that is deployed at regular intervals for election duty.
  • Enumerate the concerns related with the concurrent elections.
  • feasibility of constitutional amendments
  • Many voters may not be able to discern the difference between national and local issues etc.
  • What can be done?

Conclusion

conclude your answer with a balanced approach. You can quote some Committee’s report in the conclusion.

Introduction:

Simultaneous elections refer to holding elections to Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, Panchayats and Urban local bodies simultaneously, once in five year. The idea of holding elections simultaneously is in news after it got a push from Prime Minister and ex-President of India. However, political parties are divided on the issue of holding simultaneous elections

The political parties of Kashmir recently impressed upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold the assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections

Body:

The Law Commission of India has also proposed holding simultaneous state and general elections and has sought public opinion on its recommendations regarding the same. Simultaneous elections were held in India during the first two decades of independence.

Merits of Simultaneous elections:

  • Governance and consistency:
    • The ruling parties will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever.
    • Parties and workers spending too much time and money in electioneering, can make use of the time for social work and to take people-oriented programmes to the grassroots.
    • To overcome the “policy paralysis and governance deficit” associated with imposition of the Model Code of Conduct at election time which leads to putting on hold all developmental activities on that area and also affects the bureaucracy’s functioning.
  • Reduced Expenditure of Money and Administration:
    • The entire State and District level administrative and security machinery will be busy with the conduct of elections twice in a period of five years as per the current practice.
    • Expenditure can be reduced by conducting simultaneous elections.
    • It is felt that crucial manpower is often deployed on election duties for a prolonged period of time. If simultaneous elections are held, then this manpower would be made available for other important tasks.
    • For instance for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which was held along with 4 state assemblies saw the deployment of 1077 in situ companies and 1349 mobile companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
  • Continuity in policies and programmes:
    • Will limit the disruption to normal public life associated with elections, such as increased traffic and noise pollution.
    • Large numbers of teachers are involved in the electoral process which causes maximum harm to the education sector.
  • Efficiency of Governance:
    • Simultaneous elections can bring the much-needed operational efficiency in this exercise.
    • Populist measures by governments will reduce.
  • Curbs Vices:
    • During frequent elections there is increase in “vices” such as communalism, casteism, corruption and crony capitalism.
    • Simultaneous elections can also be a means to curb corruption and build a more conducive socio-economic ecosystem.
    • The impact of black money on the voters will be reduced as all elections are held at a time.

Challenges to simultaneous elections:

  • Illiteracy:
    • Not all voters are highly educated to know who to vote for. They may get confused and may not know whether they are voting for candidates contesting assembly or parliament elections.
    • IDFC study says that there is 77% chance that the Indian voter will vote for the same party for both the state and centre, when elections are held simultaneously.
    • Evidence from Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, the US and Europe supports the idea that elections that are held simultaneously produce greater alignment between national and regional election outcomes.
  • Functional issues:
    • Frequent elections bring the politicians back to the voters, create jobs and prevent the mixing of local and national issues in the minds of the voters.
    • There is a dearth of enough security and administrative officials to conduct simultaneous free and fair elections throughout the country in one go.
  • Changes in Constitution and Legislations:
    • The following constitutional changes need to be made:-
    • Amendments needed in the following articles:-
      • Article 83 which deals with the duration of Houses of Parliament need an amendment
      • Article 85 (on dissolution of Lok Sabha by the president)
      • Article 172 (relating to the duration of state legislatures)
      • Article 174 (relating to dissolution of state assemblies)
      • Article 356 (on President’s Rule).
    • The Representation of People Act, 1951 Act would have to be amended to build in provisions for stability of tenure for both parliament and assemblies. This should include the following crucial elements:
    • Restructuring the powers and functions of the ECI to facilitate procedures required for simultaneous elections
    • A definition of simultaneous election can be added to section 2 of the 1951 act
    • Articles 83 and 172 along with articles with articles 14 and 15 of the 1951 act be appropriately amended to incorporate the provision regarding remainder of the term i.e.., post mid elections,the new loksabha/assembly so constituted shall be only for the remainder of the term of the previous loksabha or assembly and not for a fresh term of five years.
  • Constructive vote of no confidence:
    • The 170th law commission report suggested a new rule i.e., rule 198-A has to be added to rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha and similar amendment to such rules in the state legislatures.
    • The report suggested introduction of motion of no confidence in the incumbent government along with a motion of confidence in the alternative government.
    • To avoid premature dissolution of the house/state assemble in case of Hung parliament /assembly and to advance simultaneous elections the rigour of anti defection law laid under in tenth schedule be removed as an exception.
  • Local and national issues will get mixed up distorting priorities.
  • The terms of different state governments are ending on separate dates and years.
  • Spirit of Constitution:
    • One nation, one election” would make sense if India were a unitary state. So “one nation, one election” is anti-democratic.
    • Simultaneous elections threaten the federal character of our democracy.
    • Frequent elections act as checks and balances on the functioning of elected representatives.

Way forward:

  • Any changes must require both a constitutional amendment and judicial approval that they do not violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
  • A focused group of constitutional experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details.
  • Other alternatives should be explored to reduce election related expenses like
    • State funding of elections
    • Decriminalisation of politics
    • Bringing in transparency in political funding
    • Setting up National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute.
  • One year one election as suggested by Election Commission can be executed by amending Section 15 of the RP Act 1951. If the six-month stipulation is extended to nine or 10 months, elections to all states, whose term is expiring in one year, can be held together.
  • The Law Commission of India in its report of 1999 has dealt with the problem of premature and frequent elections. It had recommended an amendment of this rule on the lines of the German Constitution, which provides that the leader of the party who wants to replace the chancellor has to move the no-confidence motion along with the confidence motion. If the motions succeed, the president appoints him as the chancellor.
    • If such an amendment to Rule 198 is made, the Lok Sabha would avoid premature dissolution without diluting the cardinal principle of democracy that is a government with the consent of the peoples’ representatives with periodical elections.
    • It will also be consistent with the notion of collective responsibility of the government to the House as mentioned in Article 75 (3) of the Constitution.

Conclusion:

Election Commission’s idea of “one year one election” will better suited as it will require fewer amendments to the constitution, it will respect the essence of the exercise of popular will, unlike one nation one election which prioritizes economic costs of elections over the exercise itself, it will avoid clubbing of national and state issues, it will not disturb federalism much, not much issues generated by emergencies like need to hold by-election etc will be addressed by this option.


Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

2) What are the different institutional arrangements in India to promote cooperation between the Centre and States? Critically analyse the role of Inter-State Council to enhance cooperative federalism in India.(250 words)

 

Why this question:

The question is about discussing the role of Inter-State Council in enhancing cooperative federalism in India. On has to analyse the different institutional arrangements that can promote centre – state relations.

Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the necessity of cooperation between center and states.

Why it is important, what steps are needed to enhance it.

Directive word:

Critically analyzeWhen 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, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction

The question is straightforward and conceptual , thus there is not much to discuss, one can start by defining significance of centre-state relations.

Body

  • Write in brief the existing institutional arrangements which enhance Centre-State Cooperation.
  • Then, write the aim of Inter-State Council. Analyse the performance of Inter-State Council since its inception.
  • Give examples wherein the council has catalyzed developmental activities like crucial in the implementation of many of the Sarkaria Commission’s 247 other recommendations, such as altering the states’ share of central taxes. council has helped bridge the trust deficit between the centre and the states

Conclusion

Give concluding remarks for the answer with a way forward

Introduction:

The Constitution of India provides a dual polity with a clear division of powers between the Union and the States, each being supreme within the sphere allotted to it. The Indian federation is not the result of an agreement between independent units, and the units of Indian federation cannot leave the federation. The constitution contains elaborate provisions to regulate the various dimensions of the relations between the centre and the states.

Body:

The various institutional arrangements between centre and state are:

Executive Mechanisms

  • Institutions set up under the Constitution (Article 263): Inter-State Council (ISC)
  • Institutions set up by Parliamentary Act: Five zonal councils under States Reorganization Act 1956 plus North-Eastern Council constituted in 1971
  • Institutions set up by cabinet resolution: NITI Aayog (previously National Development Council (NDC), Planning Commission)
  • Agreements between different orders of governments, e.g. MOUs
  • National Integration Council: intergovernmental with wider scope
  • Civil services especially federally-based All-India Services, a unique feature of the Indian federation1

Legislative Mechanisms

  • There are no formal or informal modes of cooperation between the legislatures of the Union and the states
  • All-India conferences of speakers and presiding officers of the respective legislatures
  • Most important legislative forum of intergovernmental significance is the Rajya Sabha Seats in Rajya Sabha are in proportion to the population of the state like in the popular chamber
  • No house committee either in the parliament or state legislature with oversight on intergovernmental affairs

Other Mechanisms and Techniques

  • Fiscal federal institutions: Finance Commission (Art.280) a constitutional body but not permanent, and Planning Commission (1950) a statutory body but permanent (replaced by NITI Aayog in 2015)
  • Union Agencies with Federal Implications: Election Commission, Union Public service Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Auditor General of India, National Investigative Agency, paramilitary forces
  • Independent Regulatory Authorities in national economy in post-liberalization phase in various sectors like telecom, electricity, banking, insurance, companies’ affairs: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Competition Commission
  • Tribunals set up under Inter State River Water Disputes Act 1956 resolve water disputes: Narmada, Krishna, Godavari, Cauvery, Sutlej-Yamuna and environmental issues (National Green Tribunal), and Constitutional Courts

The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body to facilitate coordination between states and the centre. It was set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution of India by a Presidential Order, 1990 based on the recommendation of Sarkaria Commission.

Functions of inter-state council:

  • Inquiring and advising upon disputes which may have emerged between the States:
  • Investigating and discussing subjects in which the States or the Union has a common interest.
  • Making suggestions on any such subject, for the better coordination of policy and action with respect to that subject.

Benefits of ISC:

  • The ISC is the only multilateral centre-state forum that operates directly within the framework of the Constitution (Article 263 (b) and (c)) where topics like the GST and contemporary issues like disaster management, terrorism and internal security can be taken up.
  • The constitutional backing of ISC puts the states on more solid footing—an essential ingredient in building the atmosphere of cooperation needed for calibrating centre-state relations.
  • The council will help bridge the trust deficit between the centre and the states. If not always a problem solver, it at least acted as a safety valve.

Limitations:

  • It is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects, in which some or all of the states or the Central government have a common interest.
  • The Inter-state council is not a permanent constitutional body for coordination between the states and Central government. Rather, President can establish it at any time if it appears to him that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a council
  • The interstate council is proposed to meet thrice a year. Inter-State Council has had just 12 meetings since it was set up in 1990. There was a gap of a decade between the 10th meeting in 2006 and the 11th meeting in 2016, and the council met again in November 2017.
  • The ISC also has to have a permanent secretariat which will ensure that the periodic meetings are more fruitful.

Conclusion:

The interstate council is the most dynamic platform to discuss policies and strengthen the Centre- State relations. This works as an instrument for cooperation, coordination and the evolution of common policies and acts as a bridge to trust deficit between center and state. The Inter-State Council should become the forum for political and legislative give and take between the centre and states


Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

3) Critically analyse the continued suspicion of political parties in the integrity of the EVM system. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article provides for a detailed analysis of concerns and  about alleged tamperability of ECI-EVM that have been raised frequently by the politicians.

Questioning the integrity of EVM systems.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the significance of integrity of the EVM system and highlight the importance of recognizing its credibility by the political foreground. One has to mainly focus on analyzing what makes politicians criticize the system.

Directive:

Critically analyzeWhen 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, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Briefly discuss  the current scenario – provide for a backgrounder.

Body:

The discussion should have the following points :

  • What are the major problems of the EVM system being pointed at by the politicians?
  • Background of evolution of EVM , various verdicts of courts with regards to credibility of EVMs.
  • Why the doubts amongst politicians?
  • Suggest a way forward.

Conclusion:

Conclude with what needs to be done to overcome the doubts in minds of politicians.

Introduction:

Electronic Voting Machines (“EVM”) are being used in Indian General and State Elections to implement electronic voting in part from 1999 elections. EVMs have replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India.

Political parties have time and again raised voice against the credibility of the ECI-EVMs, alleging tampering of EVMs during the said elections. However, the Election Commission has rejected these allegations.

Body:

Issues and Allegations against EVMs:

  • Alleged tamperiability
  • Alleged hacking
  • EVMs only stores vote. Verification of vote is not possible
  • Technical issues
  • Leads to favouritism: A candidate can know how many people from a polling station voted for him. This may lead to favouritism.

Such concerns, about alleged tamperability of ECI-EVM have been raised earlier also since their introduction including before HC/SC. These allegations have been dismissed. ECI unequivocally reiterate that given effective technical and administrative safeguards, EVMs are not tamperable and integrity of electoral process is preserved.

Reliability of EVMs:

  • EVMs are standalone systems and not connected to internet unlike EVM used in other countries like USA.
  • Program which controls the functioning of the control unit is burnt into a micro chip on a “one time programmable basis”. Once burnt it cannot be read, copied out or altered
  • EVM’s use dynamic coding to enhance security of data transmitted from ballot unit to control unit
  • As an additional precautionary measure, the machines prepared for a poll are physically sealed in the presence of candidates or their agents and guarded by CRPF
  • Allegation regarding modification of votes using an external chip (not much base found by SC and EC)
  • Two-stage randomization is done, to make sure nobody is able to determine constituency-EVM mapping

However, some experts opine that election results could be compromised by inserting a ‘dishonest display’ into an EVM control unit before elections by insiders in-charge of devices. But, EVM’s are kept under strict security protocols and mock voting drills are conducted before releasing the EVM to polling stations, which doesn’t provide much base to the theory.

 Judicial Pronouncements on use of EVMs:

The issue of possible tampering of EVM has been raised before various High Courts since 2001 as mentioned below:-

  • Madras High Court-2001
  • Delhi High Court-2004
  • Karnataka High Court- 2004
  • Kerala High Court-2002
  • Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench)-2004

            All the above High Courts after going into all aspects of the technological soundness and the administrative measures involved in the use of EVMs at elections in India, have held that the EVMs in India are credible, reliable and totally tamperproof.  In some of these cases, even Supreme Court has dismissed appeals filed by some petitioners against High Court orders.

Measures taken by ECI:

  • The ECI has said that if the proportion of EVMs whose vote count will be verified with the help of a VVPAT is increased substantially, the declaration of results will be delayed by up to six days.
  • In 2009, ECI invited sceptics to demonstrate the alleged fallibility of EVMs, using 100 randomly sourced machines from 10 states. The outcome was that none of the persons who were given opportunity could demonstrate that ECI-EVM could be tampered in any of the 100 machines put on display.
  • ECI said that EVMs can neither be reprogrammed nor controlled by the external device. The source code is so designed that it allows the voter to cast the vote only once. The next vote can be recorded only after the Presiding Officer enables the ballot on the Control Unit. In between, the machine becomes dead to any signal from outside.
  • ECI has also offered opportunities more than once to those alleging the tamperability of EVM, no one has been able to demonstrate to the Commission that the EVM with ECI and used in the country’s election process, can be manipulated or tampered with.
  • Following a PIL by Subramanian Swamy, Supreme Court asked EC to introduce VVPAT.

Conclusion:

ECI has put in place an elaborate technical and administrative system of safeguards to ensure error-free functioning of EVMs in elections. ECI says it is thus fully satisfied with the tamper proof functioning of the ECI-EVMs. The Commission does not find any merit in such allegations and reject all such allegations and suspicions raised by some political parties. Therefore, ECI has assured all citizens that EVM of ECI are temper proof and fully satisfied with the integrity of electoral process using EVM.


Topic : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

4) The United States recently moved Iran’s elite military ­Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist. DO you think these are new methods of increasing economic and political pressure on the regime in Tehran? Discuss.(250 words)

Economictimes

Why this question:

The article captures the recent move of  President Donald Trump, he has announced that the United States is designating Iran’s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization.

The move could have widespread implications for U.S. personnel and policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. This will mark the first such designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must cover a detailed discussion on  the economic and political pressure on the regime in Iran that US wants to assert and what will be its implications.

Directive word:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Highlight the situation , explain the background in brief.

Body:

Discussion should have the following dimensions :

  • About the About Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  • The move could have widespread implications for U.S. personnel and policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. This will mark the first such designation by any American administration of an entire foreign government entity.
  • The “unprecedented” move recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.
  • Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not conducted with the IRGC in any material way.
  • The measure would criminalize contact with the Guards and enable the prosecutors to bring charges to those that bring material support to the IRGC.
  • Russia and China may start designating U.S. agencies for punitive actions.
  • Iraq could be caught in a double bind, as it purchases electricity from Iran, including from entities tied to the IRGC etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with possible impacts of such a move on a geopolitical scenario.

Introduction:

USA President Donald Trump recently moved to name Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, in an unprecedented step that drew Iranian condemnation and raised concerns about retaliatory attacks on U.S. forces. The action by Trump, who has taken a hard line toward Iran by withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing broad economic sanctions, marks the first time the United States has formally labelled another nation’s military a terrorist group.

Body:

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps:

  • The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is Iran’s elite military force responsible for protecting the Islamic regime from internal and external threats.
  • A 125,000-man force, it also controls the paramilitary Basij militia, which has about 90,000 active members, and runs the foreign special operations Quds force.
  • The IRGC was established at the end of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution as an elite armed militia whose role was to protect the then embryonic Shiite clerical regime.
  • It also formed an important counterweight to Iran’s conventional military, many of whose leaders were believed to be loyal to the exiled shah.
  • The IRGC initially operated as a domestic force, but expanded quickly after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini gave the group its own ground, naval and air forces.

Significance of Trump’s move:

  • According to Trump, The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.
  • The US maintains sanctions on Iran and the IRGC over the supporting of terrorism, mainly due to their military support for Hezbollah and Hamas
  • The IRGC is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Tehran has warned that it has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 km (1,242 miles), putting Israel and U.S. military bases in the region within reach
  • His administration has long criticized Iran for its influence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
  • Critics of Trump’s decision said it was largely symbolic because U.S. law already carried penalties of up to 20 years in prison for U.S. persons who deal with the IRGC because of its designation under another U.S. sanctions program, the U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.
  • Analysts have argued the IRGC has since become a state-within-a-state, a visible manifestation of what is usually referred to as the “deep state” in other — less authoritarian — countries.
  • The announcement aims to drive a stake through the heart of a central institution in Iran.

Impact of the move around the globe:

  • The designation comes with sanctions, including freezes on some assets and a ban on Americans doing business with the group.
  • The “unprecedented” move “recognises the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
  • Businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct financial transactions are not conducted with the IRGC in any material way.
  • The measure would criminalise contact with the Guards and enable the prosecutors to bring charges to those that bring material support to the IRGC.
  • Russia and China may start designating U.S. agencies for punitive actions.
  • Iraq could be caught in a double bind, as it purchases electricity from Iran, including from entities tied to the IRGC.
  • The designation is likely to complicate U.S. actions in Iraq, where U.S. troops work to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State and where Shiite militias tied to the IRGC operate close by. The IRGC is also tied to Hezbollah in Lebanon, where the political wing of the terrorist group is part of the government.
  • The designation puts further distance between Trump’s policies toward Iran and those of European allies who remain a part of the nuclear deal.
  • The U.S. step, which takes effect on April 15, prompted an immediate response from Iran, whose Supreme National Security Council in turn designated U.S. military forces as a “terrorist organization,”
  • Senior U.S. military commanders long opposed the designation due to concern over a potential backlash against U.S. forces in the Middle East and the problems it could create for U.S. partners who have a relationship with Iran.
  • The only “theoretical benefit” the designation could provide is to make it slightly easier for the Justice Department to prosecute people for providing “material support” to the IRGC
  • IRGC’s involvement in Iran’s banking and shipping industries could complicate matters with U.S. allies including the European Union. The new designation makes it easier to prosecute EU or other companies or individuals that do business with Iran.
  • US troops in Syria and Iraq often find themselves operating in close proximity to members of the IRGC. The US has about 5,000 troops in Iraq and close to 2,000 in Syria. They could face danger.
  • Iran has also threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if the US tries to strangle its economy.

Conclusion:

The designation of IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization highlights that Iran is an outlaw regime that uses terrorism as a key tool of statecraft. This makes it fundamentally different from any other government. But notably, this is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO. Designating a foreign military as an FTO may put the U.S. troops, particularly in the neighbouring Iraq, at risk.


Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

5) Discuss the possible long-term psychological effects of interaction with social machines. Suggest what needs to be done to overcome these challenges?(250 words)

Livemint

why this question:

In the era of rapid proliferation of smart home devices, the article analyses the psychological impact it is about to create in human minds.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must  discuss in detail the growing dependence of social machines, its impact in terms of psychological affects and what needs to be done to overcome it.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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:

write a few introductory lines about the current situation.

Body:

Answers must discuss in detail the following points :

  • Explain how the liability in the age of conversational AI is going to become layered and far more complex.
  • Discuss the wide ranging effects of social machines? To what extent they can harm humanity.
  • Give examples – iPad parenting, depending on smart devices to switch on and off the lights etc.
  • What can be done to overcome it ?

Conclusion –

Conclude with way forward and suggest solutions.

Introduction:

AI systems and devices will soon recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human emotions. A combination of facial analysis, voice pattern analysis, and deep learning can already decode human emotions for market research and political polling purposes.

Body:

Positive of Social Machines:

  • The more we use them, the more they are getting to learn about us, and the world we each uniquely inhabit, until eventually they will be able to respond so convincingly to everything we tell them that they will become indistinguishable from human companions.
  • The conversational devices become the hub for all the connected devices in a home, they will be able to actively monitor the well-being of its inhabitants and guide them verbally on what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Elderly people, particularly those with failing mental faculties, have begun to lean on these devices for answers, knowing that even if they are asking it a question for the 100th time, they will receive the same patient response, something no human caregiver could be expected to provide.
  • Toy manufacturers such as Mattel have seized this opportunity to produce interactive toys that can actively engage with their young owners. The Hello Barbie doll uses cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) to converse with children on topics as divergent as music, fashion and careers as well as abstract emotional topics such as how the child is feeling.
  • Targeted emotional learning systems are also being tested for group settings, such as by analyzing the emotions of students for teachers, or workers for managers.

Challenges posed:

  • These new developments in conversational intelligence are likely to throw up a whole host of challenges, the likes of which we have previously never had to consider.
  • As good as these devices are as caregivers, no one has studied the long-term psychological effects of interaction with social machines, particularly in the context of the very old or very young.
  • Parents, watching their children bark rude commands at digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri, have begun to worry that this rudeness will leach into the way kids treat people, or that kids’ relationships with artificially intelligent machines will interfere with, or even preempt, human relationships
  • Humans seem to relate to AI as we do with most technology, attributing personalities to inanimate objects, imbuing appliances with intentionality, and generally projecting emotions onto the tech we use
  • When the experiences of bonding and belonging are absent in our environments, we are motivated to reproduce them through TV, film, music, books, video games, and anything that can provide an immersive social world. This is known as the Social Surrogacy Hypothesis — an empirically backed theory from social psychology — and it is starting to be applied to AI.
  • According to a survey by the health company Cigna, Generation Z is statistically the loneliest generation, they interact with their peers at record lows and exhibit depressive symptoms at record highs.

The need of the hour:

  • Ethical norms regarding uses of AI and our ability to regulate them in an intelligent and beneficial manner should keep pace with the fast changing technological capabilities.
  • That is why we need AI researchers to actively involve ethicists in their work.
  • Conversational AI programmers have had to collaborate with psychologists to figure out what those responses should be.
  • Some of the world’s largest companies like Baidu, Google, Alibaba, Facebook, Tencent, Amazon, Microsoft are cornering the market for AI researchers. They also need to employ ethicists.
  • Additionally, regulators across the world need to be working closely with these academics and citizens’ groups to put brakes on both the harmful uses and effects of AI.
  • For governments to regulate, we need to have clear theories of harms and trade-offs, and that is where researchers really need to make their mark felt: by engaging in public discourse and debate on what AI ethics and regulation should look like.

Conclusion:

It is clear that liability in the age of conversational AI is going to become layered and far more complex. Perhaps the time has come for us to create a brand new framework within which questions such as these should be asked and answered. The biggest hurdle to finding the right balance might not be achieving more effective forms of emotional AI, but finding emotionally intelligent humans to build them.


Topic :  Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

6) The UK is attempting a radical redesign of the internet through the release of white paper on ‘online harms’, in this context discuss the significance of such regulations in the current era of technology.(250 words)

Reference

Why this question:

UK government has released a white paper on ‘online harms’. These new rules are aimed at limiting harmful online content. Developing a culture of transparency, trust and accountability will be a critical element of the new regulatory framework.

Key demand of the question:

The question is about analyzing the significance of such regulations in the current era of technology.

Directive word:

DiscussThis 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:

In a few introductory lines state the background of the context of question.

Body:

In brief discuss –

  • The highlights of the white paper of UK .
  • In this white paper, the UK government called for an internet regulator with the power to issue fine, to block access to websites if necessary, and to make individual executives legally liable for harmful content spread on their platforms.
  • The government will establish a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services. Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.
  • Companies must fulfil their new legal duties. The regulator will set out how to do this in codes of practice. If companies want to fulfil these duties in a manner not set out in the codes, they will have to explain and justify to the regulator how their alternative approach will effectively deliver the same or greater level of impact.
  • The regulator will have the power to require annual transparency reports from companies in scope, outlining the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and what measures they are taking to address this. These reports will be published online by the regulator, so that users and parents can make informed decisions about online use.
  • Discuss why it came into existence, what are its significance.
  • What lessons should India take from it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of such tools in the rapidly growing age of technology.

Introduction:

The internet has added a new dimension to the spaces of imagination in which we all live, and the problems of the offline world have moved there, too. UK government has released a white paper on ‘online harms’. Online harms such as child sexual abuse, cyber-bullying, cyber-terrorism, radicalising the youths, rising digital divide etc. These new rules are aimed at limiting harmful online content. Developing a culture of transparency, trust and accountability will be a critical element of the new regulatory framework.

Body:

Highlights of the white paper of UK:

  • In this white paper, the UK government called for an internet regulator with the power to issue fine, to block access to websites if necessary, and to make individual executives legally liable for harmful content spread on their platforms.
  • The government will establish a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services. Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.
  • Companies must fulfil their new legal duties. The regulator will set out how to do this in codes of practice. If companies want to fulfil these duties in a manner not set out in the codes, they will have to explain and justify to the regulator how their alternative approach will effectively deliver the same or greater level of impact.
  • The regulator will have the power to require annual transparency reports from companies in scope, outlining the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and what measures they are taking to address this.
  • These reports will be published online by the regulator, so that users and parents can make informed decisions about online use.

Rationale behind the white paper:

  • UK govt said that illegal and unacceptable content and activity is widespread online, and UK users are frequently concerned about what they have seen or experienced.
  • The impact of harmful content and activity can be particularly damaging for children and young people, and there are growing concerns about the potential impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
  • According to the white paper, in 2018 there were over 18.4 million referrals of child sexual abuse material by US tech companies to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Of those, there were 113, 948 UK-related referrals in 2018, up from 82,109 in 2017.
  • As per Online Harms White Paper, Tackling illegal and harmful content and activity online is one part of the UK’s wider mission to develop rules and norms for the internet, including protecting personal data, supporting competition in digital markets and promoting responsible digital design.

Lessons for India:

  • The white paper covers a range of issues that are clearly defined in law such as spreading terrorist content, child sex abuse, so-called revenge pornography, hate crimes, harassment and the sale of illegal goods together with harmful behaviour that has a less clear legal definition such as cyber-bullying, trolling and the spread of fake news and disinformation.
  • India, with its increasing internet penetration is prone to all the online harms mentioned above.
  • The lack of Data Protection law, Right to Privacy (a fundamental right) makes it all the more imperative to take swift action to regulate the online harms.

Conclusion:

Developing a culture of transparency, trust and accountability will be a critical element of the new regulatory framework. India should soon follow suit with bringing in a Data Protection law which is most imperative in today’s Data driven world.


Topic:  Probity in Governance: Work culture

7) What are the various components of organization’s work culture? What are the key issues that need to be addressed in any organization to create a more developmental and performance oriented culture. Discuss. (250 words)

Ethics by Lexicon

Why this question:

The question is about discussing various components of organization’s work culture, the associated key issues and how they need to be addressed.

Key demand of the question:

The answer is straightforward and must discuss in parts the concept of work culture and associated features.

Directive:

DiscussThis 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:

In a few introductory lines write about  work culture in an organization.

Body:

Discuss various components of organization’s work culture.

Enlist issues that need to be addressed for developmental and performance oriented work culture.

Use examples from day to day work life, private and public organizations etc.

Suggest what methods can be used to develop good work culture.

Conclusion:

Conclude with significance of such mechanisms and need for a balanced approach in having a good work culture that harnesses the best potential of the organisation.

Introduction:

Work Culture or Organization Culture is set of collective beliefs, values, rules and behaviour which organisation as whole conforms to. In a layman approach it is culture that a group as an organisation follows. Culture varies with family, region, social class and hence in work environment.

Body:

Various components of Organization’s work culture:

  • History/Folklore: The early years of a company have an enduring effect on culture. The early leaders of a company leave a legacy through stories and legends that are passed on through the years. The tone and message of these stories helps underscore what is valued in the organization.
  • Communications/Symbols: Communications are both formal (e.g., employee newsletter) and informal (what is discussed in the break room). Symbols are communication short cuts that are usually visual (e.g., placing ample visitor parking next to the main entrance is a visual symbol of the importance of customers and partners)
  • Metrics/Rewards/Recognition: What is measured is what matters in an organization. Likewise, what individuals are recognized and reward for is also a clear indication of what is important in the organization.
  • Behavioural Rules/Norms: Behavioural rules evolve over time. These rules define how individuals are expected to interact with each other and how work should be approached in the organization. They are typically unspoken or recorded rules that are evident in the day to day behavior of employees.
  • Valued Skills: The skills that are most evident in senior leaders. The skills which are most important for promotions. These are the skills that are most valued.
  • Valued Traits: Similarly, what traits are most evident in senior leaders? What traits are most important for promotions? These are the traits that are most valued.

The key issues that need to be addressed in work culture are:

  • Maintaining organizational culture: The major challenge for any company is maintaining its healthy organizational culture. It is your own actions that reflect the company’s culture, and it is imperative that it remains a unifying element.
  • Reinforcing it at all times: Organizational culture must also be constantly represented throughout the company. Our values, ethics, and even general work environment must be present and consistent every single day.
  • Office Politics: Office politics is one of the major hindrances in bringing down their productivity. Organisation must put extra effort to check if the employees are not engaged in dirty politics at work. This phenomenon carry and organisation cost and sometimes organisations end up losing valuable talent to the competitor due to unhealthy working culture.
  • Work Pressure: Another survey finding reveals that over 80 per cent of India’s work harder than their bosses.
  • Work-Life Imbalance: There are other qualitative aspects that are a cause of concern for the working professions in this bracket.
  • Lack of Inclusivity: The organizational culture must involve all employees.

Way forward:

  • A clear expectation for behaviour among all members of an organization is the first step towards a more ethical organizational culture.
  • Organizational leaders must be mindful of their actions as others in the organization will likely follow their lead when it comes to ethical behaviour and attitudes.
  • Offering opportunities for recognition, awards, and social reinforcements for desirable ethical behaviours can go a long way to promote the types of ethical culture desired in any organization.
  • Workshops, easy to use reference materials, ongoing and readily available consultation from peers or mentors are just some of the many ways institutions can assist in training students and staff to best use the tools that are available to them to participate in better and more thoughtful ethical decision making.
  • Ethical ambiguities can be reduced by creating and disseminating an organizational code of ethics. It should state the organization’s primary values and the ethical rules that employees are expected to follow.
  • The organization needs to provide formal mechanisms so that employees can discuss ethical dilemmas and report unethical behaviour without fear of reprimand. This might include creation of ethical counsellors, ombudsmen, or ethical officers.