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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 APRIL 2019


SECURE SYNOPSIS: 26 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: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

1) Do you think the CJI enjoys unquestioned authority over allocation of judicial work and over selection of Benches, even in cases where a conflict of interest is to be presumed? Give your opinion with sufficient justifications. (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The article evaluates in detail the need for applicability of due process of law equally to the judicial system of the country amidst recent controversies gathering air around the office of Chief justice of India.

Key demand of the question:

The answer has to capture the significance of the due process of law and how it applies to judiciary as well. One must bring out the bounds and limits of the CJI and that the authority he enjoys is not unlimited.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin with recent controversies surrounding the CJI and judiciary.

Body:

  • What are the recent incidences of conflict of interest that the CJI faced.
  • Explain the controversies of selection of Benches, allocation of work, special hearing and associated discretion etc.
  • Discuss the significance of due process of law.
  • What reforms are required to preserve the integrity of the office of CJI

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting need for overhaul in the system.

Introduction:

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the head of the judiciary of India and the Supreme Court of India. The CJI also heads their administrative functions. The recent allegation of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India (CJI), is now turning into a crisis of credibility, not just for the CJI but the judiciary and our constitutional scheme of government as a whole.

Body:

The recent crises surrounding Judiciary off late:

  • The Chief Justice’s conduct in the sexual harassment allegations has sent a signal that he is above all principles of natural justice, above all due process, above all law and entitled to be a judge in his own cause.
  • The controversies regarding the CJI being the master of the roster and how the cases were allotted to various benches in partisan manner.
  • The issue of 4 senior most judges holding a public press conference wrt the above issue.

There have been many controversies in the recent months about the role and powers of CJI but Supreme Court passed a judgement recently declared the Chief Justice of India an “institution in himself” with “exclusive prerogative” to constitute Benches and allocate cases.

The CJI enjoys unquestioned authority:

  • With respect to the recent allegations against CJI, SC saw the decision to hold an open court hearing is questionable. The bench did not include the two senior-most judges after the CJI; nor was there a woman judge on the Bench.
  • The CJI remarks were more petulant than dignified which has compromised the independence of the judiciary by politicising the case.
  • Alleging conspiracy theories for which they themselves have furnished no evidence does not befit a judge.
  • With respect to the administration of the court the chief justice is the “first among equals”. The chief justice
    • decides when a case may be listed for hearing
    • Also decides which judges will hear it.
  • The authority is entrusted to the Chief Justice because such an entrustment of functions is necessary for the efficient transaction of the administrative and judicial work of the court.
  • There is no constitutional foundation on the basis of which the suggestion that senior judges being part of constitution benches can be accepted
  • This would intrude into the exclusive duty and authority of the Chief Justice to constitute benches and to allocate cases to them.
  • To suggest that one judge is more capable of deciding particular cases or that certain categories of cases should be assigned only to the senior-most among the judges of the Supreme Court has no foundation in principle or precedent.
  • 1998 Supreme Court judgement held that the Chief Justice of a high court was the master of the court roster and said that it applied to the top court as well.

Reforms required to preserve the integrity of the office of CJI:

  • An independent enquiry towards complaints of Sexual harassment is needed to uphold the credibility of the SC.
  • The Gender Sensitization and ICC should inquire into the affidavit of the complainant to ensure justice is done.
  • The focus now shifts to the judges, excluding the CJI, who were all sent a copy of the affidavit and the complaint.
  • Their response, as members of the Supreme Court, is bound to define the path which will guide the institution in dealing with the crisis.
  • The apex court could also respond to the institutional crisis through a full court being convened on the administrative side.
  • In the issue of allocation of cases
    • A just and fair roster must be one that is divided subject-wise among judges according to their experience and expertise in those subjects must be decided.
    • Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court. Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human.
    • For other cases as well, if there is more than one judge dealing with a particular subject then cases belonging to that subject should be randomly allocated among the various judges to whom that subject has been allocated.

Conclusion:

The court’s institutional integrity is at stake here. It’s therefore imperative that the court articulates and espouses a commitment to the rule of law. It needs to show that the principles of due process that it holds applicable to all of us are just as applicable to one of its own. It is integral to the court’s foundations and to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.


Topic :  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

2) India’s health system faces multipronged challenges, with most alarming one being acute shortage of doctors, discuss what are the  constraints and challenges involved and what measures should be taken to combat this issue?(250 words)

NewIndianexpress

Why this question:

Recently Niti Aayog, agreed to a proposal  of Dental Council of India to allow dentists to practice as general physicians after a bridge course. The advancement has come following a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office earlier this month in which it was urged that unconventional methods are to be adopted to address the shortage of doctors in the country, particularly in rural areas.  

Key demand of the question:

The answer must explain the situation of shortage of doctors in the country’s health system and the recent approaches taken by the government to resolve 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:

Introduce by highlighting the fact that India has a shortage of doctors and that the doctor patient ratio is one of the lowest in the world.

Body:

  • As India’s health system faces multipronged challenges, deficiency of doctors has emerged as one of the biggest roadblocks in the making of a new healthcare ecosystem. Currently, there is a shortfall of nearly two million doctors and four million nurses. Moreover, doctors’ numbers are also skewed towards a few States.
  • Quote statistics – India has less than one doctor for every 1,000 citizens, which is less than the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard that prescribes a doctor population ratio of 1:1,000. If Ayush practitioners are included, India has 1.3 doctors for 1000 population. A Medical Council of India (MCI) report suggests that in July 2017, there were a total 10,22,859 allopathic doctors registered with the MCI or with state medical councils. As per the Aarogya Bharat Report, the shortfall of doctors is likely to continue till 2039. India is passing through a critical phase, and to deal with the situation, it needs urgent structural reforms.
  • Explain the causes of the situation of shortage.
  • Suggest what needs to be done and that such steps of bridge course are a welcome step.

Conclusion:

Prioritizing areas with critical shortage of healthcare professionals especially doctors will be important. Moreover, regulations that enable private participation in medical education need to be created. Exploring public-private partnership (PPP) models to enable a rapid increase in medical education seats needs to be given priority. Focusing on primary care can help reduce hospitalization rates. And telemedicine and remote monitoring tools can be used to widen the reach of existing doctors and increase their productivity.

Introduction:

India’s health care system consists of a mix of public and private sector providers of health services. Networks of health care facilities at the primary, secondary and tertiary level, run mainly by State Governments, provide free or very low cost medical services. To address the shortage of doctors in the country, particularly in rural areas, The Centre’s top advisory body, Niti Aayog, has agreed to a Dental Council of India proposal to allow dentists to practice as general physicians after a bridge course.

Body:

The major challenges faced by healthcare system in India are:

  • Doctor-Density Ratio: The WHO reports the doctor-density ratio in India at 8 per 10,000 people as against one doctor for a population of 1,000.To achieve such access, merely increasing the number of primary and secondary healthcare centres is not enough.
  • Shortage of Medical Personnel: Data by IndiaSpend show that there is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care: 10,907 auxiliary nurse midwives and 3,673 doctors are needed at sub-health and primary health centres, while for community health centres the figure is 18,422 specialists.
  • Finance: At about 1.3% of the national income, India’s public healthcare spending between 2008 and 2015, has virtually remained stagnant. This is way less than the global average of 6 per cent. It is a herculean task to implement a scheme that could potentially cost Rs 5 lakh per person and benefit 53.7 crore out of India’s 121 crore citizenry, or roughly about 44% of the country’s population. Over 70 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure is accounted for by the private sector.
  • Crumbling public health infrastructure: Given the country’s crumbling public healthcare infrastructure, most patients are forced to go to private clinics and hospitals. There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%), while only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
  • High Out of Pocket Expenditure: Reports suggest that 70% of the medical spending is from the patient’s pockets leading to huge burden and pushing many into poverty. Most consumers complain of rising costs. Hundred days into the PMJAY, it remains to be seen if private hospitals provide knee replacement at Rs 80,000 (current charges Rs 3.5 lakh) bypass surgery at Rs 1.7 lakh (against Rs 4 lakh).
  • Insurance: India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. Government contribution to insurance stands at roughly 32 percent, as opposed to 83.5 percent in the UK. The high out-of-pocket expenses in India stem from the fact that 76 percent of Indians do not have health insurance.
  • Rural-urban disparity: The rural healthcare infrastructure is three-tiered and includes a sub-center, primary health centre (PHC) and CHC. PHCs are short of more than 3,000 doctors, with the shortage up by 200 per cent over the last 10 years to 27,421. Private hospitals don’t have adequate presence in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and there is a trend towards super specialisation in Tier-1 cities.
  • Social Inequality: The growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are under served while in urban areas and cities, health facility is well developed. The SC/ST and the poor people are far away from modern health service.
  • Poor healthcare ranking: India ranks as low as 145th among 195 countries in healthcare quality and accessibility, behind even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Commercial motive: lack of transparency and unethical practices in the private sector.
  • Lack of level playing field between the public and private hospitals: This has been a major concern as public hospitals would continue receiving budgetary support. This would dissuade the private players from actively participating in the scheme.
  • Scheme flaws: The overall situation with the National Health Mission, India’s flagship programme in primary health care, continues to be dismal. The NHM’s share in the health budget fell from 73% in 2006 to 50% in 2019 in the absence of uniform and substantial increases in health spending by States.

Steps taken up currently:

  • The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 advocated allocating resources of up to two-thirds or more to primary care as it enunciated the goal of achieving “the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation”.
  • A 167% increase in allocation this year for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the insurance programme which aims to cover 10 crore poor families for hospitalisation expenses of up to ₹5 lakh per family per annum.
  • The government’s recent steps to incentivise the private sector to open hospitals in Tier II and Tier III cities.
  • Individual states are adopting technology to support health-insurance schemes. For instance, Remedinet Technology (India’s first completely electronic cashless health insurance claims processing network) has been signed on as the technology partner for the Karnataka Government’s recently announced cashless health insurance schemes.

Measures needed to strengthen the existing state of Health infrastructure in the country are:

  • There is an immediate need to increase the public spending to 2.5% of GDP, despite that being lower than global average of 5.4%.
  • The achievement of a distress-free and comprehensive wellness system for all hinges on the performance of health and wellness centres as they will be instrumental in reducing the greater burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on health.
  • There is a need to depart from the current trend of erratic and insufficient increases in health spending and make substantial and sustained investments in public health over the next decade.
  • A National Health Regulatory and Development Framework needs to be made for improving the quality (for example registration of health practitioners), performance, equity, efficacy and accountability of healthcare delivery across the country.
  • Increase the Public-Private Partnerships to increase the last-mile reach of healthcare.
  • Generic drugs and Jan Aushadi Kendras should be increased to make medicines affordable and reduce the major component of Out of Pocket Expenditure.
  • The government’s National Innovation Council, which is mandated to provide a platform for collaboration amongst healthcare domain experts, stakeholders and key participants, should encourage a culture of innovation in India and help develop policy on innovations that will focus on an Indian model for inclusive growth.
  • India should take cue from other developing countries like Thailand to work towards providing Universal Health Coverage. UHC includes three components: Population coverage, disease coverage and cost coverage.
  • Leveraging the benefits of Information Technology like computer and mobile-phone based e-health and m-health initiatives to improve quality of healthcare service delivery. Start-ups are investing in healthcare sector from process automation to diagnostics to low-cost innovations. Policy and regulatory support should be provided to make healthcare accessible and affordable.

Conclusion:

India needs a holistic approach to tackle problems in healthcare industry. This includes the active collaboration of all stakeholders public, private sectors, and individuals. Amore dynamic and pro-active approach is needed to handle the dual disease burden. A universal access to health makes the nation fit and healthy, aiding better to achieve the demographic dividend.


Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

3) Rising media has facilitated the drawing together of people in tight networks of like-mindedness in the context of recent Lok Sabha elections, evaluate the pros and cons of this new form of emergence of pressure groups.(250 words)

Reference

 

Why this question:

As nearly 900 million Indians engaged in voting over recent weeks to select the country’s next government, social media companies have come under pressure to try to control fake news and misinformation. The question highlights how the social media has come to facilitate forming pressure groups.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must evaluate social media as facilitator of pressure groups and a stage for coming together of like-minded people. One should weigh the pros and cons associated.

Directive word:

EvaluateWhen you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by highlighting the trends of rising social media.

Body:

In brief discuss –

  • Discuss the evolution of social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook ,twitter etc. as a platform for airing views.
  • Discuss how social media and messaging platforms may have accelerated the ways in which people share rumors and mobilize mob violence.
  • Need to tackle the scourge of fake news, rumors, and hate speech online.
  • Quote examples – India has a long history of communal and caste-based violence. Successive central and state governments have failed to prosecute those most responsible, including public officials accused of complicity or dereliction of duty in high-profile cases. For instance, vigilante “cow-protection” groups have killed at least 44 people since May 2015 on suspicions that the victims were trading or killing cows for beef in violation of Hindu religious beliefs.
  • Discuss the need for WhatsApp and other social media and messaging companies to become more transparent, devote more resources to respond to legitimate threats, and work with fact-checkers, nongovernmental groups, activists and journalists on the ground.
  • Discuss and suggest way forward.

Conclusion:

Conclude with necessity of having checks and curbs on such facilitating platforms.

Introduction:

A pressure group refers to any organized group that has members with common interests and these members making joint efforts to pressurize or influence the formal political system to protect and pursue their interests. They can also be described as ‘interest groups’, ‘lobby groups’ or ‘protest groups’. The Social media has given rise to a platform to draw people in tight networks of like-mindedness. On the contrary, Disinformation, ranging from false reports of what politicians said to manufactured photographs depicting an opposition leader meeting with a suicide bomber, is spreading rapidly through social media platforms and regulators are struggling to cope.

Body:

Pros of social media pressure groups:

  • Social media is filling the gap of pressure groups and a free press in tightly controlled countries.
  • The rise of digital media allows social activists to address this challenge, providing new mechanisms to influence public policy.
  • Social media would play a major role in persuading young people to cast their votes. The young voters form a major chunk of the electorate.
  • Electioneering: Social media with its vast reach has helped in placing in public office persons who favour their interests.
  • By means of social media, political parties or politicians can mobilize public and invites them to participate in discussion on some issues of public interest.
  • Lobbying: Persuading public officers to adopt and enforce policies of their interest.
  • Propagandizing: Influencing the public opinion. This has shown its effects in the US Presidential elections recently.
  • Politicians promote their controlled speech and present their point of view without being interrupted by journalists or by media format limitation.
  • By using the social media tools, politicians and political parties interacts apparently with more efficiently with their supporters, beyond institutional and bureaucratic rigors.

Cons of social media pressure groups:

  • The ease of use of specific platforms and their capabilities due to the digital divide.
  • Disparity of information available, issues with trustworthiness and reliability of information presented.
  • The rising “fake news” and objectionable content has negatively influenced the people too.
  • Over the past year, India has seen cascades of rumors spread through WhatsApp with the same techniques used to great effect in Brazil: Public links allow people to join political WhatsApp groups.
  • Ownership of media content, and the meaning of interactions created by social media, sometimes they have biased interests limited to few members.
  • Most Pressure groups except business groups & big community groups do not have autonomous existence; they are unstable and lack commitment, their loyalties shift with political situations which threatens general welfare.
  • India has a long history of communal and caste-based violence. Successive central and state governments have failed to prosecute those most responsible, including public officials accused of complicity or dereliction of duty in high-profile cases. For instance, vigilante “cow-protection” groups have killed at least 44 people since May 2015 on suspicions that the victims were trading or killing cows for beef in violation of Hindu religious beliefs.

Measures needed:

  • It is important that efforts to curtail misinformation do not affect one political party more than the other, or they may skew the elections even further.
  • There are guidelines for the mass media during elections. We need clear guidelines for social media platforms as well.
  • WhatsApp and other social media and messaging companies to become more transparent, devote more resources to respond to legitimate threats, and work with fact-checkers.
  • Election commission of India has recently met the heads of social media platforms and has asked them to provide a mechanism to regulate the fake news related to Elections.

Conclusion:

Regulators, companies and other stakeholders need carefully calibrated strategies to cope with online disinformation — or they risk the very foundations of Indian democracy.


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

4) Evaluate the success of government’s urban development programme of Smart cities mission. Do you think there is much change in the approach of carrying out of the programme? Recommend what more needs to be done to transform India’s urban scenario.(250 words)

Indianexpress

Why this question:

The question is direct and straightforward evaluation of the government’s flagship programme of smart cities mission.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must discuss the salient features of the smart cities mission, discuss its success and achievements along with lacunae, how is the approach different from past projects and what should be the way forward.

Directive:

EvaluateWhen you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidences.  You have to appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming a personal opinion here.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

Introduce briefly the features of the mission.

Body:

  • Explain What is the aim of smart cities? – They always put people first. In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
  • What are the features of Smart City? What’s the progress of Smart Cities Mission? – strategic components of area-based development (ABD) in the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) were city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (Greenfield development), along with a pan-city initiative in which smart solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.
  • What are the reforms required to accelerate the development of India’s smart cities so as to shape the future of urban development and services.
  • Discuss how the approach has changed from the previous projects.
  • Suggest way forward.

Conclusion –

Conclude with significance of such missions and changed approach with growing demands of the country.

Introduction:

A smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to develop city infrastructure and enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology.

Body:

Progress of Smart Cities mission:

  • All 100 Smart Cities have established their SPVs, constituted their City Level Advisory Forum (CLAF) and all cities have appointed PMCs, indicating that all these Smart Cities are in Mission mode.
  • The Smart Cities Mission aimed at promoting cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
  • Citizens are at the core of Smart City Mission and it has the largest level of citizen engagement
  • There are a few cities that have taken the task seriously. Pune has begun by raising funds through the issuance of municipal ‘smart city’ bonds.
  • Bhubaneswar has launched a railway multi-modal hub, a hi-tech transport signal system and an urban knowledge centre.
  • The New Delhi Municipal Corporation has started implementation of mini-sewerage plants, Wi-Fi activated ‘smart’ street lights and city surveillance systems through a command and control centre.
  • But, most cities are still struggling at a primary planning stage, and financial closure to projects is still a long way off.
  • Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) becoming operational in 15 cities has resulted in enhanced efficiency in governance, management of traffic, law enforcement, improved citizen grievance redressal and reduced criminal incidents on city streets and public spaces.
  • Smart Cities and AMRUT programmes have opened up avenues for local industry and global players to participate in the development of cities across such sectors as utilities, housing, mobility, telecommunications, information technology, healthcare, education and recreational facilities.
  • More importantly private investment –has hardly been identified and defined.

Challenges:

  • Smart cities function as special purpose vehicles diverged from regular urban governance structures. It can create islands of development rather than an inclusive all round development of the city.
  • State and local governments lack fine-grained data or the capability to analyse them in order to understand the evolving needs of their communities.
  • Although India’s Smart Cities Mission has identified more than 20 priority areas, interventions by the respective agencies are weak.
  • There is an inadequate emphasis on the functioning of urban local bodies.
  • The Area Based Development approach –development of a sewage system somewhere or a web of roads in another city –will cover just about three per cent of the urban areas associated with these smart cities.
  • Urban local bodies lack both technical and human capacity and professionalism.

Way forward:

  • The solution lies in inclusive urbanization processes that prioritize quality of life for all, focusing especially on the needs of vulnerable urban groups for employment, housing, sanitation, healthcare and education.
  • Planning must incorporate long-term resource sensitivity and community involvement at every step, while benchmarking smart and measurable outcomes for all stakeholders.
  • Making cities ‘Data Smart’ is key in realizing the full potential of technology interventions and innovation ecosystems in cities.
  • Other parameters for Smart Cities must have efficient use of resources; cooperative and competitive federalism; integration, innovation and sustainability; technology and inclusiveness.
  • ICCCs have also reduced traffic violations, improved efficiency in solid/liquid waste management, water and wastewater management as well as air quality management. More such ICCCs should come up.
  • Since the smart cities programme aims at affordable housing and modern transportation, government has to facilitate smoother land acquisition with appropriate rehabilitation and resettlement
  • Citizen participation is important right from policy inputs, implementation and execution because citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of smart cities.

Conclusion:

Clearly, there are a lot of low-hanging fruits on the road to smartness, and a nimble policy approach can tap this quickly. The plan should recognise that the vibrant life of cities depends on variety and enabling environments, rather than a mere technology-led vision. Pollution-free commons, walkability and easy mobility, with a base of reliable civic services, is the smart way to go. With urbanization gaining prominence in the global policy discourse, it is important to focus on local governance.


Topic: Infrastructure: Energy.

5) Amidst global dynamics surrounding Oil rich countries, India is witnessing a continuous non- secular rise in the price of the commodity. Critically analyse and suggest what should be India’s way forward? (250 words)

The hindu

Why this question:

The question is amidst the growing uncertainty of Oil imports for India amidst rising geopolitics that has encircled the oil rich countries and how it has changed the price scenario of India and created feeling of uncertainty.

Key demands of the question:

The answer must discuss the recent oil turmoil, the sanctions imposed by US on Iran – oil rich country, the affect it has on India etc. and it has impacted the secular pricing policy of Indian energy system.

Directive word

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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

Introduce by highlighting the situation.

Body

The body of the answer should address the following dimensions:

  • Current energy crisis – highlight the disbalance in demand -supply equation of global oil system.
  • India’s case – present dependence on oil imports, conditions of other types of energy sources and potential in future.
  • How and why India needs to diversify its oil supplier base and increase domestic sources of energy.
  • Way forward.

Conclusion

Conclude with significance of diversification of energy sources amidst such shortage of oil.

Introduction:

Oil is one of the most important commodities in recent times. Much of the economy depends on oil and this is why prices of oil matter to almost every economy including India. India is one of the largest importers of oil in the world. It imports nearly 70 percent of its total oil needs which accounts for one third of its total imports. For this reason, the price of oil affects India a lot.

Body:

Current energy crisis:

  • India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil.
  • With 85 per cent of its crude oil and 34 per cent of its natural gas requirements is being fulfilled by imports.
  • In 2016, India imported 215 million tonnes of crude oil and at 13 per cent, Iran stood third among India’s biggest oil suppliers, after Saudi Arabia and Iraq at 18 per cent each.
  • India, the world’s seventh-largest economy, was a key beneficiary of falling crude oil prices between 2013 and 2015. The biggest benefit of the fall in oil prices was evident in narrower twin deficits.
  • With the US’ decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal and to re-impose sanctions on Iran, upside risks to crude prices cannot be ruled out.
  • United States announced that it would not extend beyond May 1 the 180-day waiver it had granted to eight countries, including India, to purchase oil from Iran.
  • India will stop importing crude oil from Iran following the US move to end sanction waivers, and will use alternate supply sources such as Saudi Arabia to make up for the lost volumes.
  • Petroleum Minister said the country plans to increase imports from major oil producing nations other than Iran, indicating that it will be acceding to the U.S. plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
  • However, Ratings agency ICRA has estimated that stopping oil imports from Iran could cost Indian refineries as much as ₹2,500 crore.

Reasons for India to diversify its oil sources:

  • Current account deficit:
    • Higher crude oil prices will widen the trade deficit and current account deficit, given that the value of imports goes up with crude oil, and that the quantity imported tends to be sticky in general.
    • According to CARE, a permanent increase in crude oil prices by 10% under ceteris paribus conditions could translate into the current account deficit increasing by 0.4-0.5% of GDP.
  • Rupee:
    • The currency could be impacted if the trade and current account deficits were to widen. An increase in the import bill will tend to put pressure on the rupee.
  • Inflation:
    • There could be significant impact on inflation, given how crude oil prices move and the extent to which the government allows the pass-through to the consumer.
    • The crude oil price could be an important consideration when the Monetary Policy Committee meets for its bi-monthly meeting in June.
  • Fiscal impact:
    • There could be a two pronged impact on government finances both on the revenue side and on the expenditure side.
    • On the revenue side, higher oil prices mean more revenue for the states as tax is ad valorem; for the Centre, though, it may not materially impact the fiscal math as the duty rates are fixed.

Measures needed:

Short and medium term measures:

  • In the near- to medium-term, the government will need to take steps to diversify its supplier base and also work towards increasing domestic sources of energy supplies.
  • Expedite the process of exploring domestic avenues and diversify its sources of oil supply.
  • The strategic oil reserves being set up in cooperation with the UAE and Saudi Arabia are a good step in that direction
  • It is imperative to explore how fuels can eventually be covered under the goods and services tax (GST), which is essential not only to reduce any undue burden on users but also to prevent leakages and achieve efficiency.
  • To begin with, natural gas and aviation turbine fuels (ATFs) may be considered for inclusion, which might not cause substantial revenue loss for states but will foster confidence that other petroleum products will be brought under GST sooner rather than later.

Long-term measures:

Diversify Energy Basket:

  • The National Gas Grid or Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project, it has also been created to have a gas-based economy and enhance the share of gas in the energy basket.
  • To overcome environment pollution, the Centre is promoting the use of environment-friendly transport fuel–CNG– by expanding the coverage of City Gas Distribution (CGD) network in the country.

Renewable energy sector:

  • There is an urgent need for development of renewable sources as a substitute for conventional sources to meet the energy needs.
  • Opening up the renewable energy sector for more investments will also help avoid over-dependence on oil from the global market to meet the country’s ever-increasing energy needs.

Strengthening Public transport:

  • Public Transport should be made available and user friendly so that Individual vehicles reduce and demand for oil decreases.

Expediting the migration to electric mobility:

  • Since the transport sector accounts for around 70% of the total diesel sales in the country, it is an appropriate sphere for a transition from traditional fuels to electric motors.
  • A favourable incentive mechanism (subsidy up to 60% of the total cost of an electric bus) to help the adoption of electric buses gain traction is already in place.
  • The best approach thus is a multi-stage adoption. This calls for first identifying a specific set of routes for electric bus services in a particular big city and ensuring that all infrastructure needed for their seamless operation is in place before considering other sets of routes.

Expanding the biofuel blending in petrol:

  • Increasing the blending proportion of domestically available biofuels in cooking gas and transportation fuel is another way to reduce India’s reliance on imported crude oil.
  • Methanol, produced from coal, should be given more weightage when it comes to blending. Besides, biodiesel supply should be augmented by making jatropha farming more productive through genetic modification.

Conclusion:

Reducing the country’s reliance on oil imports would bode well for energy security, and make our financial markets less volatile in the event of untoward developments in the oil market. And savings from reduced oil imports could in turn be used to finance infrastructure projects, which are crucial for India’s long-term growth prospects.


Topic:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

6) Critically analyse the impact of carbon forestry projects such as REDD+ or the Green India Mission that are based on the neo-liberal principles of privatisation commoditisation, and marketisation on the rights and livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. (250 words)

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Why this question:

The article gives a detailed account of carbon forestry projects and provides for a critical analysis of the impact it has on local livelihoods of forest dependent communities.

Demand of the question:

The answer must evaluate in detail the impact of carbon forestry projects on local forest communities.

Directive word:

Critically analyzeWhen asked to analyse, 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

Start by explaining what you understand by carbon forestry projects.

Body

  • Discuss how Carbon forestry projects such as REDD+, A/R CDM and the Green India Mission are based on the neo-liberal principles of privatization, commoditization, and marketisation.
  • Explain how these market-oriented tools abstract forests from their sociocultural and ecological contexts and reduce their value for carbon forestry.
  • Analyse how such projects promote plantations of fast-growing species and undermine local knowledge and institutions.
  • Take cues from the article and discuss the impact it has on forest communities.
  • Conclude with what needs be done?

Conclusion

Highlight the Indian scenario of carbon forestry efforts and suggest solutions to the concerns posed by it.

Introduction:

Carbon forestry includes instruments to sequester more greenhouse gases (GHGs) and avoid emissions from land use change by afforesting, conserving, and managing land and forest ecosystems. The key tenets of carbon forestry projects include accounting of carbon offsets or emissions avoided and commercialisation of these offsets through the markets or funds.

The available empirical evidence on the carbon forestry projects indicates that these have an impact on the rights and livelihoods of forest-dependent communities adversely.

Body:

Working of Carbon forestry projects:

  • Carbon forestry projects such as REDD+, Afforestation and Reforestation clean development mechanism and the Green India Mission are based on the neo-liberal principles of privatisation, commoditisation, and marketisation.
  • These market-oriented tools abstract forests from their sociocultural and ecological contexts and reduce their value for carbon forestry.
  • These projects promote plantations of fast-growing species and undermine local knowledge and institutions.
  • The reduction of deforestation and degradation of forests in tropical countries, which contribute around one-fifth of the global emissions, is considered to be one of the most cost-efficient and economical methods of mitigating climate change

Market-oriented tools and forests:

  • Due to economic considerations, REDD+ and other carbon forestry projects have gained momentum. It has been reported that more than 800 carbon forestry and land use projects, with an estimated investment of $6 billion, are already being implemented across the globe.
  • The carbon forestry schemes such as CDM and REDD+ are based on creating the excludable and private commodity of carbon credits. In this process, a strong property of “private forests” is created and the rights of investors are protected through fiat and force.
  • Quantification of carbon: Quantification is an important step in the commoditisation of nature. It makes environmental services tradable in the market. Scholars claim that claim that carbon cannot be estimated reliably as forests are complex living systems that are prone to sudden big changes.
  • Technocratic control undermines indigenous knowledge: The process of implementing and realising benefits through carbon forestry projects is very complex. The technocratic processes and the high costs involved in carrying them out alienate local people, and they cannot effectively participate in these projects. Their role is reduced to the mundane tasks of raising nurseries and plantations and they become just lowly stakeholders in the projects.
  • Financial logic: It might seem ironic that the financing of plantations and ecological restoration for “greening India” is based on the diversion of natural forests. It provides a perverse incentive to the state apparatus for forest clearance, leading to the grabbing of wealth and power. E.g.: CAMPA
  • Institutions: The neo-liberal agenda of carbon forestry is extended by co-opting various civil society institutions under the rhetoric of “decentralisation” and “community participation.” It serves two purposes: one, it offloads some of the state responsibilities; and second, more importantly, it pacifies some of the dissonance created by the neo-liberal instruments. But in the case of CDM projects, implementation on the ground belies the stated objectives
  • Natural forests vs plantation forests: On the one hand, there is a drive to divert natural forests for developmental purposes and furthering corporate interests, and on the other, there is a push for increased plantations under different carbon forestry and other schemes. It fails to take into account ecological biodiversity and its connection with social and cultural systems and this often produces adverse social and ecological consequences

Impacts on the forest-dependent communities:

  • The carbon forestry mechanisms shift the burden of reducing GHGs from developed countries to developing countries and binds the latter to a fixed land use which constrains their development
  • The forest-dependent communities and civil society groups worldwide are opposing this market-based approach to forest conservation and climate change.
  • There have been concerns regarding the impact of market-based carbon forestry instruments on the rights and livelihood of forest-dependent communities and biodiversity of forest ecosystems.
  • This resistance is particularly strong in the case of India where a very strong and vibrant civil society is opposing the agenda of carbon forestry.
  • The overzealous effort of safeguarding private interests impinges on the rights of the poor and marginalised communities, who lack social, economic and political capital to acquire property rights over the resources.
  • The indiscriminate plantation on public and common lands could adversely affect the rights of local people in a way that early plantation programmes like social forestry and JFMCs did.

Conclusion:

It is imperative to critically review the theoretical and empirical bases of carbon forestry as a strategy to conserve forests and mitigate climate change as we could end up trading natural forests for plantation forests with serious social, livelihood and ecological implications.


Topic : Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions.

7) There is no virtue without risk-taking.”  Do you agree that by simply doing your job and contributing to the economy in the form of output, you’ll be doing your bit to the country’s development? Explain in the context of the statement .(250 words)

        Ethics by Lexicon publications.

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Why this question:

The question talks about virtues of doing good and the justness it carries to contribute for the society.

Key demand of the question:

The answer must elucidate how virtues come with risks and that individuals can contribute to the society by just doing there bit of service.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

State the importance of virtues.

Body:

Elaborate upon the necessity of virtues in society, what are its importance in public life, why one should contribute to the economy and work for the society.

The main crux of the answer should focus on individual contribution for the society at the cost of some risk. Use examples to justify better.

Conclusion:

Conclude with importance of virtues of contribution .

Introduction:

Virtue is thinking and doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. It is the quality of being morally good. Virtues are important because they are the basic qualities necessary for our well being and happiness. By recognizing the importance of virtues, in our lives, it will lead to better communication, understanding and acceptance between us and our fellow man.

Body:

Virtues and society:

As our country makes progress and we continue to travel the winding and often rocky road of change, it is important to remember that ethics and morality play an important role in any sophisticated society.

A Country’s development is not just measured by its economic might but also its indicators like health, education, equality, gender justice and other such factors.

By simply contributing to the economy in the form of output by working for a firm is no doubt necessary as the demographic dividend of the country will be reaped. Supporters of this argument say that duties of a person is itself a virtue, thus, it is sufficient.

However, we live in a society which is diverse and people with varied values are present. Doing one’s duty and staying to themselves is a good virtue but that is self-centered behaviour. For instance, Corruption may be a human value for some people which can lead to inequalities and further suppression of the poor.

Thus, people with courage, honesty and truthfulness are needed to point out such ills in the society by walking out of their path. The virtue has no value if it is of no use to the society in which we live. Virtues lead to happiness of self as well as others. Gandhiji’s virtues of truth and non-violence shows how he stuck to it despite being aware of the risks it posed to him by British. However, the risk-taking did achieve the ultimate goal of Independence.

Drawing parallel to the above situation, if a person thinks that his vote might not matter much as there are millions voting, then that’s a wrong notion. As a citizen in democracy, every citizen has a responsibility to vote and express his opinion. This in a longer run will help by getting the right government to get elected and serve the people.

Similar explanation works for paying tax, following the traffic rules etc. Civic duties must be adhered to even though it might amount to some risk-taking. Example: Reporting corruption.

Conclusion:

Virtue is not just believing the right things or even trying to do the right things but working out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is important for everyone to actually morally operate by a system of ethics, and ensure that they do not sidestep the issue without risk-taking.