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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 DECEMBER 2019

SECURE SYNOPSIS: 20 DECEMBER 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: secularism; pluralism

1. Pluralism and Secularism are essential for Indian Democracy. Do you agree. Comment. (250 words).

PIB

Why this question:

Pluralism and secularism for their sustenance require a climate of opinion and a state practice that eschews intolerance. With violence raging across the country due to the CAA bill and NRC, there are voices raising to protect secularism and promote plurality which are two of the most defining values of our Indian Constitution.

Key demand of the question:

The question wants us to discuss the significance of pluralism and secularism to our democracy.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start by explaining the concepts of Pluralism and Secularism in Indian context.

Body:

Discuss the significance of Pluralism and Secularism to Indian democracy.

  • Our democratic polity is pluralist because it recognizes and endorses this plurality in (a) its federal structure, (b) linguistic and religious rights to minorities, and (c) a set of individual rights.
  • It is this plurality that the Constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a secular state structure. Pluralism as a moral value seeks to ‘transpose social plurality to the level of politics, and to suggest arrangements which articulate plurality with a single political order in which all duly constituted groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, reflected in the uniformity of legal capacity.
  • Pluralism in this modern sense presupposes citizenship.
  • Secularism has both positive and negative contents.
  • The positive part of secularism has been entrusted to the State to regulate by law or by an executive order. The State is prohibited to patronise any particular religion as State religion and is enjoined to observe neutrality.
  • Religious tolerance and fraternity are basic features and postulates of the Constitution as a scheme for national integration and sectional or religious unity.

Further go on to define how these lead to tolerance and acceptance

Discuss the challenges in today’s India to promote plurality and secularism

Conclusion:

Conclude with balanced way forward.

Introduction:  

Secularism is the “indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations.” Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people.

Pluralism in theory relates to the Co-Existence of various Religious, Cultural and Diverse Groups of people within a definite territory. Indian pluralism has been a source of inspiration to many countries, as, besides the social homogeneity witnessed in Indian Society, Pluralism to also protected by the Constitution of India under Democracy and Secularism.

Body:

Importance of Secularism for Indian democracy:

  • Secularism has both positive and negative contents.
  • The Constitution struck a balance between temporal parts confining it to the person professing a particular religious faith or belief and allows him to practice profess and propagate his religion, subject to public order, morality and health.
  • The positive part of secularism has been entrusted to the State to regulate by law or by an executive order.
  • The State is prohibited to patronise any particular religion as State religion and is enjoined to observe neutrality.
  • The State strikes a balance to ensue an atmosphere of full faith and confidence among its people to realise full growth of personality and to make him a rational being on secular lines, to improve individual excellence, regional growth, progress and national integrity.
  • Religious tolerance and fraternity are basic features and postulates of the Constitution as a scheme for national integration and sectional or religious unity.
  • Positive secularism negates such a policy and any action in furtherance thereof would be violative of the basic features of the Constitution.

Importance of Pluralism for Indian democracy:

  • Ours is a plural society and a culture imbued with considerable doses of syncretism. Our population of 1.3 billion comprises of over 4,635 communities, 78 percent of whom are not only linguistic and cultural but social categories.
  • Religious minorities constitute 19.4 percent of the total. The human diversities are both hierarchical and spatial.
  • It is this plurality that the Constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a secular state structure.
  • Pluralism as a moral value seeks to ‘transpose social plurality to the level of politics, and to suggest arrangements which articulate plurality with a single political order in which all duly constituted groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, reflected in the uniformity of legal capacity.
  • Pluralism in this modern sense presupposes citizenship.
  • Our democratic polity is pluralist because it recognizes and endorses this plurality in (a) its federal structure, (b) linguistic and religious rights to minorities, and (c) a set of individual rights.
  • The first has sought to contain, with varying degrees of success, regional pressures, the second has ensured space for religious and linguistic minorities, and the third protects freedom of opinion and the right to dissent.

Tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society. It must be coupled with understanding and acceptance. We must, said Swami Vivekananda, ‘not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.’

Constraints to pluralism and secularism today:

  • Uniform Civil Code:
    • No progress has been made in the evolution of a uniform Civil Code.
    • There are deep religious sentiments prevailing among different religious communities.
    • It limits the path to a truly secular society in India
  • Politics and Religion:
    • The Supreme Court had observed in the Bommai case that if religion is not separated from politics, the religion of the ruling party tends to become the state religion.
    • During the time of elections most of the political parties completely forget the noble ideal of secularism and woo the voters on communal or cast lines.
  • Communalism:
    • Increasing violence between people of different communities or religions.
    • Rise of fringe elements threatens India’s history of communal harmony and peace.
    • Instances like demolition of the Babri Masjid, anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other places in 1984 are on the rise.
  • Rise of fundamentalism and obscurantism:
    • Religious entities have taken up the radicalisation of youths to promote their religion.
    • This poses grave threat to the harmony and security of the nations.
  • Failure of the Government in Evolving a Just Economic Order:
    • The failure of the government to evolve a just economic order and eliminate poverty also is a setback to secularism.
  • Cultural Symbols and Secularism:
    • Many public rituals like bhoomi pujan, breaking of coconuts on inaugural occasions, performing of ‘aarti’ and applying ‘tilak’ are perceived by Hindus as cultural or nationalistic expressions, but to non-Hindus these are manifestations of Hindu culture.
    • Such rituals are performed even on state functions and therefore, create unnecessary misgivings about the neutrality of the State.
    • Schools today have become havens of social isolation where children of similar economic and social backgrounds are unaware of the kind of social diversity that exists outside their little worlds.

Way forward:

  • Since secularism has been declared as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, governments must be made accountable for implementing it.
  • Define the word “minority”. The concept of secularism is based on recognition and protection of minorities. The two cannot be separated.
  • Setting up of a commission on secularism for ensuring adherence to the constitutional mandate on secularism.
  • Separation of religion from politics. It is of such urgency that no time should be wasted in bringing this about.
  • It is the duty of the secular and democratic forces to rally behind those political forces that really profess and practice secularism.
  • In a secular state, religion is expected to be a purely personal and private matter and is not supposed to have anything to do with the governance of the country.

 

Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government;

2 . The use of Section 144 is the latest weapon used for political purposes against critics at the national and state levels, but it is hardly a new law having first been used during the colonial era against Indians. Critically discuss. (250 words)

Indian Express

Deccan Herald

Why this question:

As protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, continue to gain momentum, the government has resorted to the coercive step of imposing Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in different cities across India. In Bengaluru, Section 144 has been imposed from December 19 to December 21.

Key demand of the question:

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding about the RTI act. The recent proposed changes in the RTI act and how it could lead to subversion of the objectives of right to information.

Directive:

Critically discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, all you need to do is look at the good and bad of something and give a fair judgement.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Define the provision of Sec 144 CrPC. Provide the background of it being applied across various Indian cities.

  • It gives the government the “power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance of apprehended danger”.
  • Administrations frequently cite powers under Section 144 CrPC to prohibit assemblies of five or more individuals, or to order mobile phone companies to block voice, SMS, or Internet communications in one or more small or large geographical areas.

Body:

Discuss the various powers available under this section and how it reminds of the colonial era laws to subjugate citizens.

Discuss how the Sec 144 is misused?

  • Students of different universities are peacefully protesting and registering their dissent against CAA. The imposition of Section 144 in such a scenario is extremely arbitrary.

Discuss how it affects the fundamental rights of individuals. Provide substantiations using SC judgements

  • In a recent judgement in Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan vs Union of India and Anr., the Supreme Court held that it [the order to impose Section 144] was not unconstitutional but the apex court recognised the right to protest and asked the government and police to frame guidelines

Provide measures against the misuse of it

Conclusion:

Based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.

Introduction:     

With rise in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act hitting the streets in large numbers in several states, state governments sought to tamp down on the demonstrations by issuing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. Section 144 was imposed in Bengaluru for three days, while the entire state of Uttar Pradesh remains under this provision.

Body:

Section 144 of CrPC:

  • Section 144 of CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

Reminisces of the colonial past:

  • The history of this Section goes back to British Raj. Section 144 was used for the first time in 1861 by the British Raj, and thereafter became an important tool to stop all nationalist protests during the India’s Independence Struggle.
  • The law is analogous to other

Powers of the administration under Section 144:

  • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management.
  • This usually includes restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully.
  • It is generally believed that assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144. However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual.
  • Such an order is passed when the magistrate considers that it is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquillity, or a riot, of an affray.
  • No order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order.
  • The state government can extend this, but not more than six months.

Issues related to Section 144:

  • The term cases of apprehended danger or nuisance are too broad and wide enough to give absolute power to a magistrate.
  • The immediate remedy against such an order is a revision application to the magistrate himself.
  • An aggrieved individual can approach the High Court by filing a writ petition (article 226) if his fundamental rights are at stake. This however is a time taking process.
  • The rules for suspending telecommunication services, which include voice, mobile internet, SMS, landline, fixed broadband, etc., are the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017. These Rules derive their powers from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, Section 5(2) of which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
  • However, Section 144 CrPC has often been used to clamp down on telecommunication services and order Internet shutdowns
  • Police cannot issue these directions because they are not the proper authorities to permit internet shutdown.

Measures needed:

  • The Supreme Court in various cases like Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya case 1967 has held that “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.
  • The court has held that such a provision can be used only in grave circumstances for maintenance of public peace. The emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave.
  • The spirit of the law must be followed in it’s true spirit.

 

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

3. “With SAARC stalled, India is turning to BIMSTEC to center its foreign policy”. Analyse. (250 words)

The Diplomat 

The Wire

Why this question:

After the Uri attack of 2016, India boycotted the SAARC summit, which was to be held in Islamabad. The summit was called off after other members’ states followed suit. Soon after, India invited BIMSTEC leaders to the BRICS outreach summit in Goa in 2016. Thereafter, the 2018 BIMSTEC summit in Nepal saw the grouping pass a resolution demanding that states that “encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and terror groups” be held accountable.

Key demand of the question:

Answer is about discussing the changing foreign policy scenario of India.

Directive word

Analyse – When 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.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines define the current foreign policy of India.

Body:

Discuss the core points of focus of Indian foreign policy.

Trace the change in trends of India’s foreign policy in the past five years.

How and why is there a shift?

India and its neighbourhood scenario.

India – SAARC, India- BIMSTC relations.

Conclude with what is the significance of such a shift in the policy, India’s role.

Conclusion:

Conclude with way forward.

Introduction:     

The Bay of Bengal is fast becoming a key area of economic and strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific. It’s the largest bay in the world and forms an important part of southern Asia. The limitations of SAARC due to multiple reasons have led to South Asian region being the least integrated region in the world vis-à-vis the European and ASEAN experiences.

BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia. BIMSTEC has gained more favour as the preferred platform for regional cooperation in South Asia

Body:

SAARC has stalled in its activities because:

  • India-Pakistan rivalry: This has become a bottleneck in achieving effective coordination. India has conveyed that terrorism and talks cannot go on simultaneously.
  • Bilateral issues: Long pending issues between members like fishermen issue between India and Srilanka, Teesta water sharing between India and Bangladesh, lack of direct access to Afghanistan to other members except Pakistan have restricted in arriving at common ground for regional integration.
  • Perceived Big-Brother attitude of India: Asymmetry in the region due to sheer size of Indian economy and stature in international arena requires India to play an over active role. However, this is perceived as big brother attitude by other members creating mistrust.
  • Internal Crises: Almost every member is facing numerous internal crises like Tamils issue in Srilanka, Constitutional crisis in Nepal, religious fundamentalism in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Terrorism and instability in Afghanistan. Consequently, there is no much enthusiasm to achieve collaboration in the sub-continent.
  • China’s inroad into SAARC countries: Increasing presence of china in the region and reservations of India with China is creating roadblocks. India cannot match the levels of financing by China. China with its grand plan of BRI has lured the small nations.
  • Poverty- Ridden: Even though the region accounts for 21% of world population, its share in global GDP is just around 3%. Being one of the poverty ridden areas of the world, there is limited avenues to achieve synergy.

BIMSTEC provides an alternative to SAARC due to the following reasons:

  • Connectivity:
    • BIMSTEC serves two purposes for India – it makes it easier for India to share a common regional platform with its neighbours in South Asia (sans Pakistan) and secondly, BIMSTEC also establishes a linkage between South and Southeast Asia.
    • Urgency of promoting regional and sub-regional cooperation via BIMSTEC and BBIN has to be seen in the context of China’s BRI and the compelling strategic challenge posed by China’s muscular geo-economic and geo-political interventions in Asia, particularly in India’s neighbourhood.
    • The development of the North-eastern region, by opening up to Bangladesh and Myanmar, is another incentive for India.
  • Regional Co-operation: Regional cooperation under the ambit of SAARC has become difficult made BIMSTEC more viable:
    • Despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–Motor vehicle agreement, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
    • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016
    • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats. Example: cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
  • Cordial Relationship:
    • The member countries have generally cordial relationships, something patently missing among the SAARC countries.
    • BIMSTEC’s major strength comes from the fact that it includes two influential regional powers: Thailand and India. This adds to the comfort of smaller neighbours by reducing the fear of dominance by one big power.
  • Economic vistas: As a trade bloc, BIMSTEC provides many opportunities.
    • The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$2 trillion and will likely grow further.
    • Trade among the BIMSTEC member countries reached six percent in just a decade, while in SAARC, it has remained around five percent since its inception.
    • Compared to SAARC, BIMSTEC has greater trade potential as well. Among the member countries, India’s intra-BIMSTEC trade is around 3 percent of its total trade.
    • BIMSTEC regional grouping happens to have five nations that are also part of SAARC. The fact that this region is growing at 6.5% per annum, collectively comprises of 1.5 billion people, is the drive behind India’s focus being part of BIMSTEC.

However, there are concerns which need to be addressed:

  • Infrequency of the BIMSTEC summits, the highest decision-making body of the organisation. In its 20 years of existence, the BIMSTEC summit has taken place only thrice.
  • The delay in the adoption of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a framework that was agreed upon in 2004, fuels doubts about BIMSTEC’s efficacy.
  • BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement [MVA] is an instrument that was conceived to transform and facilitate trade. It has not yet been completely successful as Bhutan is worried about security and environmental fallout of such an agreement.
  • In the latest summit in 2018, it was noted that the Motor Vehicle Agreement and the Coastal Shipping Agreement would still need more time for finalisation.
  • Both Thailand and Myanmar are criticised for having ignored BIMSTEC in favour of ASEAN.
  • Region lacks physical connectivity. The tri-lateral highway connecting India-Myanmar-Thailand has been a non-starter.
  • BIMSTEC has identified 14 priority sectors and has signed an FTA (2004) and a Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking (2009). The pace of implementation has been quite sluggish so far.

Conclusion:

Both SAARC and BIMSTEC focus on regions which are geographically overlapping but this does not make them equal alternatives. SAARC is a purely regional organization, whereas BIMSTEC is interregional and connects both South Asia and ASEAN. Hence, SAARC and BIMSTEC complement each other in terms of functions and goals and India has a unique opportunity to connect with ASEAN through 3Cs (Commerce, Culture and Connectivity).

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

4. What is the mandate of New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? Examine whether the coming of NDB and AIIB changes the rules of development financing vis-à-vis the western dominated multilateral financing institutions? (250 words)

Why this question:

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), the latter jointly run by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, were partly born out of frustration with the decision-making structure at big lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, where some developing countries don’t enjoy voting rights that reflect their contribution to the global economy.

Key demand of the question:

The question wants us to talk about the mandates of the two financing agencies – NDB and AIIB. Further go on to discuss how the two institutions differ from the existing multilateral institutions. Provide any examples where they have helped out nations.

Directive word:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

write a few introductory lines about NDB and AIIB.

Body:

Mandates of NDB and AIIB.

  • The NDB has been envisaged as a “dedicated channel of alternate finance” with greater focus on emerging economies and the Global South.
  • The core mandate of the AIIB is to address Asia-Pacific’s acute infrastructural needs. Its mission is “to improve economic and social development in Asia by investing in high-quality, financially viable and eco-friendly infrastructure projects”. It also aims to mobilize private capital to co-finance projects.

Difference between NDB and AIIB and existing multilateral finance institutions.

  • Here you can talk about the reasons for formation, shareholding, voting rights, conditionalities etc.

Mention about any Examples where the AIIB, NDB have taken up the lead if any.

Finally, give an opinion about how AIIB and NDB are changing the dynamics of financing.

Conclusion:

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

Introduction:

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), the latter jointly run by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, were partly born out of frustration with the decision-making structure at big lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, where some developing countries don’t enjoy voting rights that reflect their contribution to the global economy.

Body:

Mandate of New Development Bank (NDB):

The NDB has been envisaged as a “dedicated channel of alternate finance” with greater focus on emerging economies and the Global South.

  • Promotion of infrastructure and sustainable development projects with a significant development impact in member countries;
  • Establish strategic partnerships with other multilateral development institutions and national development banks;
  • Build a balanced project portfolio giving due respect to their geographic location, financing requirements and other factors;
  • Promoting competitiveness and facilitating job creation;
  • Build a robust knowledge sharing platform among developing countries.

Mandate of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB):

The core mandate of the AIIB is to address Asia-Pacific’s acute infrastructural needs. Its mission is “to improve economic and social development in Asia by investing in high-quality, financially viable and eco-friendly infrastructure projects”. It also aims to mobilize private capital to co-finance projects. The creation of the AIIB is a welcome initiative given Asia’s huge infrastructural deficit.

NDB, AIIB vis-à-vis the western multilateral banks:

  • Cause of formation of bank: The establishment of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in 1944. Its initial purpose was to provide finance for the reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War, and to promote development in developing countries. The creation of NDB and AIIB was because of the discriminatory attitude of the West towards the developing countries. this reflects the growing power of the world’s emerging economies, particularly China, and their discontent with the governance of the traditional MDBs, which they view as imbalanced
  • Headquarters: The headquarters of NDB and AIIB are located in China whereas the headquarters of existing multilateral banks are located in USA or Europe.
  • Geographical coverage: Global multilateral finance institutions are considered to have a wide geographical scope across several regions. Regional development banks are defined as extending their operations across one entire region such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB).
  • Distinction between regional and non- regional member: The distinction between regional and non-regional members does not apply if, for example, the structure of the bank is not based on a geographical region (e.g. the global banks like the World Bank)
  • Shareholders: The size of membership varies considerably: from 189 members of the World Bank (IBRD) covering nearly every country in the world, to five for the recently established NDB
  • Voting rights: Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are based on weighted voting system, which provide the rich countries a big say in the management. The BRICS member countries accounting for almost half of the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output have only 11 per cent of the votes at international financial institutions like the IMF. However, in NDB all member nations have equal voting rights.
  • Veto power:
    • Shareholders have veto power if they have a large enough share of votes to block decisions that require majorities. The exact share required for veto power varies. The US, for example, holds veto power in the IBRD with only 16% of the votes because some decisions require a majority of 85%.
    • All five shareholders in the NDB hold 20% of the shares without having veto power – the result of an explicit decision on the part of the founding members.
    • In the newly established AIIB, China has hinted that it would be willing to give up veto power as the bank attracts more shareholders. However, China retains its veto power with a 27% share, as special majority decisions require 75% of the voting power.
    • Board composition: Most banks have non-resident boards of directors. Only the World Bank and two Latin American sub-regional banks have resident boards. The two newly-established AIIB and NDB, are reported to have non-resident boards as a matter of policy to reduce bureaucracy, in keeping with their ‘lean’ banking model.
  • Graduation policies:
    • The graduation policy from IBRD assistance is based on a determination of whether the country has reached a level of institutional development and capital-market access that enables it to sustain its own development process without recourse to Bank funding.
    • For AIIB: In its Articles of Agreement, eligibility to borrowing is open to any agency, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or any entity or enterprise operating in the territory of a member, as well as to international or regional agencies or entities concerned with economic development of the region. In special circumstances, the AIIB can provide assistance to a recipient not listed, but this will require the Board of Governors’ approval and must support the AIIB’s mandate.
    • For NDB: Eligibility based on membership to the UN. No graduation policy
  • Measurement of development effectiveness:
    • AIIB: As yet, there are only results indicators for individual approved projects. No overall development effectiveness framework exists.
    • World Bank: The Independent Evaluation Group employs a number of evaluation instruments: ad hoc major evaluations, country programme evaluations, cluster country programme evaluations, validation of self-evaluations, project performance assessment reports, as well as reviews and impact evaluations. The indicators used vary across different projects.
  • Policy priorities:
    • AIIB: Infrastructure: clean energy, transport infrastructure, irrigation, water resource management and sanitation, sustainable urban development, economic cooperation and integration.
    • World bank: Extreme poverty and shared prosperity
  • Conditionality for loans: AIIB and NDB seek to avoid the strict conditionality of market and structural reform with which loans from the World Bank and IMF have been administered.

 Conclusion:

The creation of the two banks NDB and AIIB is indeed a remarkable development. They reflect changing geo-economic dimension at the global level with the shift of economic power from West to the East. These two institutions have for the first time opened up “a strategic rivalry with Western and Japanese led lending institutions, namely the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), mirroring the broader tussle for power and influence between the developed and developing world”. Indeed, the two banks represent a quest for equality for the developing countries as far as the global financial architecture is concerned.

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

5. Delays and dilutions have derailed regulations of packaged and fast foods. Evaluate.  (250 words)

Down To Earth

Why this question:

The test results of the Environment Monitoring Laboratory at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have unmasked two anomalies:

  • First, food manufacturers blatantly sell products that have unhealthy levels of nutrients.
  • Second, a nexus between the industry and regulating agencies backs this brazen act.

India, therefore, urgently needs a robust law on labelling and disclosure of nutritional information on food packs.

Key demand of the question:

The question is in the backdrop of existing weak and ineffective Food Safety and Standards Regulation. One must evaluate the laws present, find the shortcomings and present measures to strengthen it.

Directive:

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgment 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:

In brief explain what junk food is.

  • A food is classified as junk if it doesn’t offer any or has very little nutritional benefits and is generally high in sugar or fat. The junk foods are also observed to be very low in fibre and very high in calories.

Body:

Then move on to explain the adverse effects of junk food on human health.

Discuss the prevailing laws to regulate the same and their shortcomings

  • The existing Food Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, is too weak and ineffective. Even some-thing as basic as salt is not mandatorily disclosed.
  • In 2013, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s food regulator, set up an expert committee to regulate junk food available in schools following an order of the Delhi High Court.
  • In 2014, the expert committee, comprising doctors, nutritionists, public health experts, civil society and industry, suggested labelling of calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt on the front of food packs, or FoP.
  • It took FSSAI a year to be ready with the draft Food Safety Standard (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018. The draft sought mandatory declaration of salt as sodium chloride. Till now, salt did not figure in food labels.
  • The diluted version came in July 2019, which has seriously compromised public health, is still not acceptable, presumably to the powerful food industry. It is still not notified.

Provide measures to strengthen it.

Conclusion:

Conclude by suggesting what should be the way forward.

Introduction:

Generally, a food is classified as junk if it doesn’t offer any or has very little nutritional benefits and is generally high in sugar or fat. The junk foods are also observed to be very low in fibre and very high in calories. The term HFSS foods (high in fat, salt and sugar) is used synonymously.

The test results of the Environment Monitoring Laboratory at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have unmasked two anomalies. First, food manufacturers blatantly sell products that have unhealthy levels of nutrients. Second, a nexus between the industry and regulating agencies backs this brazen act. India, therefore, urgently needs a robust law on labelling and disclosure of nutritional information on food packs.

Body:

There are certain laws which govern the safety of food products for consumption such as:

  • Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954: Ensures prevention of adulteration of food products.
  • Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006: Formulates the regulations regarding the standards and guidelines with respect to the food and the systems to enforce the standards given.
  • Fruit Products Order,1955: To ensure maintenance of sanitary and hygienic conditions during the manufacturing of fruit and vegetable products.
  • Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947: Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947 along with Vegetable Oil Products (Standards of Quality) Order, 1975 have been replaced by a single Order called “Vegetable Oil Products (Regulation) Order, 1998.” It holds the responsibility to lay the standards for the oil products’ quality during the manufacturing process. The Directorate of Vanaspati, Vegetable Oils and Fats holds the responsibility for implementation of the standards of quality of the vegetable oil product.
  • Meat Food Products Order, 1973: Lays the limit for the heavy metals, insecticides residues, preservatives, and hormones present in the meat products. It also enlists the sanitary standards for the various meat products and is propagated by the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
  • Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011: Requires the labelling of every ingredient which is responsible for characterising the food product, and is expected to be present in the food product by the customer, whose omission could be considered as deceit of the customers

Challenges in the laws and regulations:

  • The existing Food Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, is too weak and ineffective. Even some-thing as basic as salt is not mandatorily disclosed.
  • Due to pressure from the powerful junk food industry and the resultant red tape, the regulations are not seeing the light of the day.
  • In 2013, FSSAI, the country’s food regulator, set up an expert committee to regulate junk food available in schools following an order of the Delhi High Court.
  • In 2014, the expert committee, comprising doctors, nutritionists, public health experts, civil society and industry, suggested labelling of calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt on the front of food packs, or FoP. This would help people make an informed choice about the food they eat.
  • In 2015, FSSAI set up a second expert committee to assess the consumption of fat, salt and sugar and its health impacts. But two years later, this panel too endorsed the recommendations made by the first committee.
  • The draft Food Safety Standard (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018 sought mandatory declaration of salt as sodium chloride. Till now, salt did not figure in food labels.
  • FSSAI has set RDA considering one person requires 2,000 Kcal in a day. The draft proposed to mark red on all nutrients that exceed thresholds. Industry does not want the food to be labelled red, which represents danger.
  • The 2018 draft remained a draft and to find a new way around it, FSSAI announced a third committee.
  • FSSAI came up with the second draft of the regulations in July 2019, it was a much diluted version. The diluted version, which has seriously compromised public health, is still not acceptable, presumably to the powerful food industry. It is still not notified.

Way forward:

  • The need of the hour is to make the Government implement the food safety regulations effectively at the earliest.
  • The doctors, nutritionists, public health experts, civil society should act as a strong pressure group against the junk food industry’s monopoly.
  • The onus of inculcating healthy eating habits also starts at home.
  • Besides taking steps to reduce the intake of unhealthy food, both schools and parents should ensure children get adequate physical activity, which is increasingly being neglected for various reasons.
  • It is a combination of healthy food and regular physical activity that will go a long way in bringing up healthier children.

Conclusion:

Growing up on junk food will lead to improper cognitive development in children, and result in lack of well-rounded intelligent individuals which is very important for a country like India which is banking on their demographic dividend for development. Therefore, the focus of the entire draft is to ensure a healthy future for the children as their health is of primary concern

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

6. If India is to establish itself as a country of doers, containing pollution is one of the first things to be done. Discuss. (250 words)

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Why this question:

According to a report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), based on a study that estimated the impact of contaminants in the air, water and workplace, India tops the world’s chart on pollution-linked deaths, followed by China and Nigeria. More than 2.3 million premature deaths caused by pollution were reported in India in 2017, the latest year for which the figures are available. In comparison, about 1.9 million people died in China, while in Nigeria the death count was 279,318, according to the report.

Key demand of the question

The question is about analysing the worsening pollution conditions in India and the associated concerns. Discuss about the various short-term measures undertaken by the Government and how policymakers have displayed little urgency on the matter. Provide serious measures to tackle the same.

Directive word

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

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines brief upon the worsening pollution conditions in India and the associated concerns.

Body:

       The question must discuss the following points:

  • Present some facts from the report, discuss the causes of the present condition.
  • Impact of the air pollution in Indian cities under various heads like Health, economy, society etc.
  • Provide for a detailed analysis of why have the problems turned into a menace and then move onto suggest measures to tackle the same.

Conclusion:

Give a balanced way forward.

Introduction:

Air pollution in India is not simply an environmental problem, but a major public health concern. It impacts all those breathing in the polluted air —children, the elderly, women and men alike. As Delhi’s Air Quality Index crosses 500, the national capital has officially entered the public health emergency category.

Body:

Current air pollution scenario:

  • According to a report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), based on a study that estimated the impact of contaminants in the air, water and workplace, India tops the world’s chart on pollution-linked deaths, followed by China and Nigeria.
  • More than 2.3 million premature deaths caused by pollution were reported in India in 2017, the latest year for which the figures are available.
  • In comparison, about 1.9 million people died in China, while in Nigeria the death count was 279,318, according to the report.

Challenges posed by air pollution:

  • The role of air pollution in climate change dynamics is a question that must be urgently addressed.
  • For example, the importance of air pollution and greenhouse warming vs. aerosol cooling needs to be discussed with air pollution cooling, dominated by aerosol content
  • Many open questions still remain, such as the measurement and monitoring of air pollution, including the exploration of new technologies and methods like remote sensing and in-situ observations.
  • Air pollution also impacts historic and modern buildings and materials, affecting sites of cultural heritage by damaging structural materials of monuments, statues, and even paintings.
  • Air pollution has become a year-round phenomenon particularly in north India which causes health impacts far beyond the seasonal rise of respiratory illnesses.
  • It is now the leading risk factor for chronic obstructive lung disease in India, and a major contributor to pneumonia and lung cancer.
  • In 2017, air pollution accounted for 12.4 lakh deaths in India, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution.
  • According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), India had the highest share of welfare costs (or a loss of income from labour), of about $220 billion (about ₹1.4 trillion), in South and South-East Asia of a combined total of $380 billion from mortality due to air pollution.
  • In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated global cost of $225 billion in lost labour, and trillions in medical costs, Greenpeace report says.
  • Government is keen to ascend the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” chart, but images of people walking around Delhi in safety masks do little to attract investment.

India’s actions so far:

  • India’s figures highlight the gravity of the crisis we face.
  • While action needs to be taken, policymakers have displayed little urgency on the matter.
  • Most public discourse centres on questionable short-term measures, like an odd-even scheme for private vehicles, while efforts to stop stubble-burning by farmers have yielded very few gains.
  • India, however, has yet to formulate a credible policy mix that could achieve demonstrable results.
  • Cases of respiratory diseases, especially among the elderly and children, are on the rise. Other health complications have arisen too.

Measures needed:

  • Short term measures should be accompanied by measures that increase the forest cover of the land and provide farmers with an alternative to burning the remains of their crops.
  • An innovative approach could be to use climate change funds to turn farm residues into a resource, using technological options such as converting them into biofuels and biofertilizers.
  • Proactive engagements are necessary to persuade and reassure farmers.
  • It is important to find other uses for stubble such as biomass, which may encourage farmers to look for alternative sources of income.
  • India should at least now give high importance to the WHO warning about air pollution being the new tobacco. Sharply escalated, deterrent parking fees can be implemented.
  • From an urban development perspective, large cities should reorient their investments to prioritise public transport, favouring electric mobility.
  • Incentives for adoption of alternate mobility technologies should be promoted.
  • The World Bank has said it is keen to enhance its lending portfolio to tackle air pollution, opening a new avenue for this.
  • Governments should make the use of personal vehicles in cities less attractive through strict road pricing mechanisms like Congestion tax, Green-house Gas tax
  • Need to speed up the journey towards LPG and solar-powered stoves.
  • Addressing vehicular emissions is within India’s grasp but requires a multi-pronged approach. It needs to combine the already-proposed tighter emission norms (in form of BS VI), with a push for shared mobility and public transport and adoption of alternate mobility technologies.
  • NCAP should take precedence from emerging practices in the country—pollution cess in Delhi on truck entry, big diesel cars, and diesel fuel sales and the coal cess—to generate dedicated funds to finance clean air action plan.
  • Tackle road dust by mechanised sweeping and water-sprinkling but what would be more beneficial is if the sides of the roads could be paved or covered with grass that holds the soil together and stops the production of the dust in the first place.
  • Attention to non-technological aspects such as urban planning, to reduce driving, and to increase cycling, walking, and use of public transport are needed.

 

Topic: Aptitude and foundational values for Civil Service, integrity, impartiality and non-partisanship, objectivity, dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections.

7. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another. Elucidate. (250 words).

Ethics by Lexicon

The Conversation 

Key demand of the question:

The question wants us to write in detail about the meaning and importance of empathy as a value and also discuss in detail as to how empathy can be increased among civil servants.

Directive:

Elucidate – Give a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the particular context. You must be defining key terms where ever appropriate, and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction:

In a few introductory lines define what is empathy.

  • Empathy It involves, first, seeing someone else’s situation from his/ her perspective, and, second, sharing that person’s emotions, including, if any, his distress.
  • Empathy, is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  • It occurs when you are truly trying to understand or experience someone else’s emotions, as if they were your own.

Body:

Discuss the importance of empathy.

  • It helps us understand how others are feeling so we can respond appropriately to the situation.
  • It is typically associated with social behaviour
  • Empathy is an interpersonal skill that can be viewed as part of emotional intelligence
  • Empathy can however also inhibit social actions, or even lead to immoral behaviour.

Discuss how empathy can be inculcated/ increased.

  • Some people are genetically inclined to be highly empathic or not.
  • it is possible to increase cognitive, emotional and behavioural empathy through formal training
  • instruction about the benefits of showing empathy, how to identify emotions in others, how to feel those emotions and how to comment appropriately on them.
  • providing models of a person showing empathy in response to something another has said or done.
  • practice at showing empathy etc.

Conclusion:

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

Introduction:

Empathy is the ability to be aware of, understand, and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others. Empathy is “tuning in” (being sensitive) to what, how, and why people feel and think the way they do. Being empathic means being able to “emotionally read” other people.

Body:

Empathy helps in the following:

  • Understands Unspoken content:
  • Demonstrates active listening skills (such as asking probing questions, not interrupting)
  • Picks up signals when others are not feeling comfortable and displays consideration.
  • Has concern for others:
    • Open to diversity of opinion.
    • Probes to understand people’s issues, unspoken thoughts, and feelings
  • Expresses concern for Others:
    • Demonstrates empathy by correctly understanding reactions or emotions of others.
    • Builds trust by demonstrating respect for other’s point of view.
  • Acts as a Role-model:
    • Makes a balanced assessment of a person’s strengths and weaknesses based on a deeper understanding of the individual
  • Creates and provides an environment of Respect:
    • Creates a culture of mutual trust and respect.

Importance of Empathy:

  • Empathy allows people to build social connections with others. By understanding what people are thinking and feeling, people are able to respond appropriately in social situations.
  • Empathizing with others helps you learn to regulate your own emotions. Emotional regulation is important in that it allows you to manage what you are feeling, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Empathy promotes helping behaviours. Not only are you more likely to engage in helpful behaviours when you feel empathy for other people; other people are also more likely to help you when they experience empathy.
  • Despite claims that empathy comes naturally, it takes arduous mental effort to get into another person’s mind and then to respond with compassion rather than indifference.

Conclusion:

While empathy might fail sometimes, most people are able to empathize with others in a variety of situations. This ability to see things from another person’s perspective and sympathize with another’s emotions plays an important role in our social lives. Empathy allows us to understand others and, quite often, compels us to take action to relieve another person’s suffering.