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Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 29 January 2021


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.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic:  Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

1. “If Panchsheel principles are applied not only between various countries but also in international relations generally, they would form a solid foundation for peace and security”. Analyze why despite commitment to Panchsheel, Sino-Indian war happened? (250 words)

Reference: India’s Since Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To analyze the reasons for the outbreak of Indo-China war despite commitment to principles of Panchsheel by both countries.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Write about the aims and objectives Panchsheel.

Body:

Write the five principles of Panchsheel and the context in which they were propounded. Bring out how they would form a solid foundation for peace and security not only between Indo-China but also in the world

Mention the factors why despite commitment to peace, the war broke India and China. Tibet issue, Dalai Lama refugee crisis, incorrect boundary alignment between the two countries and Chinese forces crossing the McMahon Line etc.

Conclusion:

Summarize the lessons learnt from the war of 1962.

Introduction

The Panchsheel agreement or the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence was signed in April 1954 between India and China. As two republics born after the Second World War, Panchsheel was a sensible idea for India and China to disengage from each other’s internal affairs and show the rest of the world their belief in unfettered national sovereignty.

Body

Five principles of Panchsheel

  • Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • Mutual non-aggression
  • Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs
  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • Peaceful co-existence.

Panchsheel in international relations for Peace and Security

  • One cardinal principle of Panchsheel has been equality and mutual benefit, which is opposed to one-upmanship.
  • Multilateralism must be upheld and nations must display sensitivity and reciprocity in multilateral institutions like the United Nations Security Council and the WTO to cooperate for world prosperity.
  • Rhetoric of New Cold War or Cold war 2.0 is on the unveil. Trade war, military aggression in South China Sea has become frequent. Peace co-existence can ensure threat of war.
  • The Panchsheel, in order to be relevant, needs to shed its binary approach of west verses the east recognising the seamlessness of global frontiers, which globalisation has brought in.
  • China can shed its middle kingdom complex and prevent superpower rivalry with USA.
  • Civil wars in Syria, Sudan and Libya and interference by foreign nations in these nations can be curbed.

Reasons for Sino-India war despite 1954 agreement

  • The first sign of discord between India and China came in 1950 when China invaded Tibet. India’s protested, but yet was made fait accompli to recognise Chinese sovereignty over Tibet in 1954. However, harbouring Tibetan refugees antagonized China.
  • The only two points accepted by India and China was that the Karakoram Pass and Demchok, were in Indian territory. Opinion differed on how the line traversed between the two points. Thus, in effect, India and China were faced with a ‘no man’s land’ in eastern Ladakh, where the contentious Aksai Chin lay.
  • China illegally occupied the Aksai Chin and completed construction of their Western Highway through it in 1957.
  • To counter continued Chinese aggression, India embarked on a ‘Forward policy’ of establishing a series of small posts all along its Northern and Eastern borders with China, to prevent further incursions.

Conclusion

India and China are two growing Asian powers and hence a clash of interests is inevitable.  The key is to keep it manageable and not allow it to flare up into another border war such as Galwan Clash. It will be tough test for our diplomacy. However strong commitment to Panchsheel can show the way forward.

 

Topic: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues;

2. The need of the hour is to call out for Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) revitalisation for it to be able to cater to the 21st Century needs of Third World countries more efficiently. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: India’s Since Independence by Bipan Chandra.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 1.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the need to revitalize NAM and to emphasize on its relevance in the 21st century.

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by writing about the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and context it was formed.

Body:

Write about how after the end of the cold war and emergence of multi polar worlds, NAM seemingly lost it relevance. Mentions reasons there for.

Mention the present relevance of NAM. NAM is needed for maintaining independence of action in international relations. To fight against international terrorism and neo­colonialism. NAM continues to be -very popular with developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. NAM has yet to achieve its long term objectives and Climate Change threats etc.

Suggest measures to revitalize the working of NAM. India’s more proactive role, frequent summits, and collective bargaining etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The Non-Aligned Movement was formed during the Cold War as an organization of States that did not seek to formally align themselves with either the United States or the Soviet Union, but sought to remain independent or neutral. The Movement has its origin in the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. “Ten Principles of Bandung”, were proclaimed at that Conference were guiding principles of NAM.

Body

NAM Since end of Cold war

  • With the end of cold war and changing world order NAM is seen as losing its relevance.
  • Several members of the NAM including India have been strengthening their engagement with the developed world to invite capital, technology, better management practices, larger markets etc to improve the economic conditions of their citizens.
  • There has been scant agreement between members on policies required to address challenges related to ensuring peace, security and economic development of developing countries.
  • Alternative platforms like BRICS, IBSA, SCO and G20 etc have emerged with overlapping agendas, reducing need and scope for NAM.

Relevance of NAM in 21st Century

  • World is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. Climate change, environmental degradation, terrorism, radicalisation, poverty, public health emergencies etc are challenges that can only be faced together, not when world is divided.
  • It requires collaboration, not coercion. In short, effective multilateralism remains the only answer. NAM can be that answer.
  • India called for the need for NAM keep pace with the changing times and reform and revitalise the current arrangements and working methods.
  • This will allow NAM to pursue a positive and forward-looking and focused agenda. NAM should not be positioned as ‘for’ or ‘against’ any ideology or groups of nations.
  • Rather NAM should identify select cross-sectoral challenges that require immediate attention.g. counter-terrorism, global governance reform, sustainable development, and South-South cooperation.
  • A democratic, effective, flexible, credible, transparent and representative, multilateral organisation like NAM is imperative for 21 st century world order.

Conclusion

The philosophy and ideology of ”Non alignment” lays emphasis on strategic independence and autonomy, and the ”Non-Aligned Movement” seeks to take a collective position on challenges faced by the developing world. These principles shall always remain relevant.

 

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

3. China should show global leadership, in commitment to international principles of peace and justice, in fighting climate change and achieving sustainable development and avoid going down the path of arrogant superpowers. Comment. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

On January 23, eight bombers and four fighters from China entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the latest warning to Taipei. Recent events have indicated China is resorting to ‘show of muscle’.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the role China can take up as the global leader and avoid becoming an ‘arrogant superpower’

Directive:

Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by giving the context of rise of China as a superpower.

Body:

In the first part, give instances where china has transgressed in the recent past and resorted to show of power. Ladakh, Hong Kong and Taiwan etc. Link that various instances of superpowers abusing their power. Also, mention about the Uyghur crisis.

In the next part, write about how China can assume a role as global leader by adhering to the principles of peace and justice – resolving bilateral disputes with talks, recognizing rights of minorities etc. In leading climate change and sustainable development – commitment to Paris Climate deal, honoring the Carbon neutrality, avoiding trade wars and a new cold war

Conclusion:

Suggest a way forward on how China could make long lasting changes with a peaceful and moral approach to its global ambitions.

Introduction

Amidst a global pandemic, china has been pursuing wolf warrior diplomacy. It is not only India that is dealing with a harder Chinese military posture in the midst of a global pandemic. On January 23, eight bombers and four fighters from China entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the latest warning to Taipei.

Body

China’s aggression and other issues

  • India-China fault lines: In one instance, at the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, China has violated the status quo intruding into territory that is clearly on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control, or LAC.
  • Hong-Kong unrest: The ‘one country two systems’ in Hong Kong is dead and with it, the pretence that the same could be applied for the peaceful unification of Taiwan.
    • Eg: Extension of national security law to Hong-Kong and recent warning to Taiwan on possibility of war if it shores up defence weapons.
  • Taiwan-China conflict: Island encirclement against Taiwan and forceful takeover are becoming more of a reality considering Chinese navy and airforce activities in the region.
  • US antagonism: USA and Chinese navy came within 100 meters of each other in South China Sea. This also comes in the wake of US confrontation with China on coronavirus investigation by WHO.
  • Pandemic: China had to acquiesce in a consensus decision at the recent World Health Assembly on the conduct of an independent investigation into the origin and the spread of the virus.
  • Economic retaliation: China has shown its willingness to retaliate with economic measures as seen against Australia when its interests are hurt.
  • Human rights abuses against Uighyr Muslims in Xinjiang and detention camps are widely criticised. Yet China continues atrocities on the minorities.

China manoeuvres in coming times

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared his country would slightly better its Paris Accord pledge by reaching peak carbon emission before 2030.
  • China has been moving fast towards electric vehicles, solar energy and green technologies. It can help smaller nations adopt these technologies and assume leadership in steering towards sustainable development.
  • India and china, though antagonists on border front, converge on having a multilateral rules-based trade order in WTO. The Developed versus Developing nations dichotomy can be reduced paving way for better trade outcomes.
  • Paris Climate deal and Sustainable Development goals will be defining features of coming decades. It is here that China must ensure adhering to targets even when globally there are no strong initiatives in this regard.
  • China as a permanent member of UNSC, must impartially use the council for ensuring world security and peace.

Conclusion

There are tensions within the Chinese leadership on these issues and how they are resolved will also impact the course of India-China relations. China will have to learn to live with a multipolar Asia and a multipolar world rather than seek singular hegemony.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.

4. Retrospective taxation is causing more harm to India’s interest than the revenue it could yield. Do you agree? Examine in the light of recent developments. (250 words)

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

India’s refusal to settle with Carin energy after their recent arbitration award has opened up a prospect of a private company having to legally seize sovereign property globally, a course of action some of shareholders are starting to recommend.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about retrospective taxation which has done more harm than good.

Directive:

Examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we must 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:

Start by defining what constitutes a retrospective tax and its genesis in India.

Body:

Mention about the need for retrospective taxation in India. Talk about the Vodafone and the Cairns case.

Highlight with examples as to how the retrospective taxation has been more damaging than it has helped. Vicious cycle of arbitration and appeals which are ultimately lost, disincentive investor sentiment, a PR failure, fear of Indian tax regime, using retrospective tax as a tool to meet revenue targets, cost of appeals and now the possibility of seizure of sovereign assists globally which will have repercussions etc.

Put forward the opportunities that arise by moving away from retro tax such as formation of a coherent investment strategy, boosted investor confidence,  ease of doing business and harmonious bilateral investment treaties etc.

Conclusion:

State you balanced views on retrospective taxation while underscoring the need of India to respect the decision of arbitrators.

Introduction

The issue is in context of Cairn energy dispute. India’s refusal to settle with Carin energy after their recent arbitration award has opened up a prospect of a private company having to legally seize sovereign property globally, a course of action some of shareholders are starting to recommend. The cause of the problem is retrospective taxation which India brought in 2012, via its budget.

Body

Retrospective Taxation

As the name suggests, retrospective taxation allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.

  • Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes.
  • While governments often use a retrospective amendment to taxation laws to “clarify” existing laws, it ends up hurting companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.

Cairn Dispute and retrospective taxation

  • In May 2007, Vodafone had bought a 67% stake in Hutchison Whampoa for $11 billion. In September that year, the India government for the first time raised a demand of Rs 7,990 crore in capital gains and withholding tax from Vodafone, saying the company should have deducted the tax at source before making a payment to Hutchison.
  • Vodafone challenged the demand notice in the Bombay High Court, which ruled in favour of the Income Tax Department.
  • Subsequently, Vodafone challenged the High Court judgment in the Supreme Court, which in 2012 ruled that Vodafone Group’s interpretation of the Income Tax Act of 1961 was correct and that it did not have to pay any taxes for the stake purchase.
  • The government came up with the Amendment and onus to pay tax once again fell on Vodafone. This time Vodafone invoked the Bilateral Investment Treaty clause with Netherlands and India, which settled the matter in former’s favour.

Issues with Retrospective taxation

  • Parthasarathi Shome panel had suggested that retrospective amendment of tax laws should occur in exceptional or rarest of rare cases and with particular objectives and apply to matters that are “genuinely clarificatory” in nature.
  • Such taxation policy creation policy instability leading to reduced investments.
  • It deteriorates the confidence of business investors in India, thereby reducing capital inflows into the country.
  • Not only time but huge number of resources are spent on costly litigations and arbitrations abroad. It does not bode well for investor sentiments and acts as a disincentive for prospective investors.
  • When India promised no longer “tax terror”, such policies go against the very fabric of stated objectives.
  • Possibility of seizing sovereign property can lead to big humiliation for India.

Way Forward

  • An investment-friendly business environment would increase economic activity and help raise more revenue over time for the government.
  • It is to be hoped that tax officials’ desire to deny their defeat and to try and hang on to legally untenable revenue finds an unsympathetic hearing from politicians in the finance ministry.
  • India needs to craft meaningful and clear dispute resolution mechanisms in cross-border transactions to prevent the disputes from going to international courts, and save the cost and time expenditure.
  • Improving the arbitration ecosystem will have a positive impact on the ease of doing business.

 

Topic:  Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, Nano-technology, biotechnology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

5. What is an anti-trust law? The question today before the policymakers is how to regulate these Internet firms from abusing their monopoly power while at the same time encouraging the positive externalities and consumer surplus they create. Critically Analyse. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu Business – Standard

Why the question:

There are ongoing investigations worldwide, including in the European Union and the United States, on the abuse of monopolistic power by the Big Tech firms, especially Facebook and Google.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the need to develop balance between checking monopolistic tendencies of internet giants and to create an ecosystem of positive externalities.

Directive:

Critically analyze – 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. 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 judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Begin by defining anti-trust law and the need for it.

Body:

In the first part, write about the limitations which the policy makers face while regulating the internet firms. Non-rival nature, jurisdictional issues, excludable nature etc.

Next, make a case for the regulation of the technological giants. Personalised advertisements, third-party sharing of the personal information, monopoly of some firms, Predatory pricing and erecting entry barriers for rivals etc.

Finally, write about the positive externalities created by these companies and the need to draw a balance between the both. Maps, Searches, Vaccine distributions and logistics etc. Suggest possible solutions like tax subsidy for their orderly behaviour in the marketplace, sharing of Non-Personal Data (NPD), fair payment to content creators etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Antitrust law, also referred to as Competition law, aims to protect trade and commerce from unfair restraints, monopolies and price-fixing.

The Competition Act, 2002 is India’s antitrust law. It repealed and replaced the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.

Body

There are ongoing investigations worldwide, including in the European Union and the United States, on the abuse of monopolistic power by the Big Tech firms Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon for alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

Earlier this year, Google and Facebook, invested in Jio Platforms, the telecom and digital subsidiary of the Reliance Industry Limited. This is the first time that both the global tech giants invested in the same entity anywhere in the world.

Need for Anti- Trust law

  1. The Act prohibits: anti-competitive agreements; abuse of dominant position by enterprises; and regulates combinations (Mergers and Acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
  2. Under the provisions of this act, the central government has established Competition Commission of India in 2003 which acts as a watchdog of free market economy. It ensures that fair competition exists in an open-market economy.

Associated Issues

  1. Economies of Scope: A consequence of these characteristics is the presence of strong “economies of scope”, which favour the development of ecosystems and give digital giants like Google a strong competitive advantage.
  2. Asymmetrical Access to Data: With the diversity of the media landscape and the digital economy, asymmetrical access to data and a lack of transparency harms consumers.
  3. Lack of Options: Global digital platforms have built data ecosystems allowing them to easily obtain consent in exchange for access to their services.

 

Alleged Monopolistic Practices by Google

  1. Google is one of the most important businesses in the digital economy. Due to its innovation it has positioned itself as a leader in the Internet environment worldwide. In perusal of this Google has established dominant digital products. For example:
  • Google’s licensed operating system, android, rules the smartphone market, while the Chrome browser has a dominant market share in desktops and mobiles.
  • The Android dominance allows Google to charge a whopping 30% commission on apps listed in the Android Play Store.
  • Based on this, Google is alleged of using this dominance to promote other businesses it controls.
  • On similar charges, Google was fined a record 3 billion euros in the EUfor anti-competitive practices, and told to offer a choice of four default browsers on the Android.
  1. In 2019, Competition Commission of India had held Google guilty of misuse of its dominant position in the mobile Android market and said the company had imposed “unfair conditions” on device manufacturers to prevent them from using other operating systems.

Way Forward

In order to achieve fair competition in the digital Market regulators all across the globe can take following measure:

  1. Ensuring Fair Balance: Issues emanating from digital markets imply that “the invisible hand of the market” must be supplemented by “the visible hand” of competition authorities or of the legislator.
  2. Need for Data Regulation: Given the significance of data in this new age, there is a need for global convention on Data protection and Privacy regulation.
  3. Fair Digital Taxation: A level playing field needs to be achieved with a comprehensive tax policy response coordinated at international level.
  • The new tax framework should reflect the nature of global digital business models and avoid unfair double-taxation to other players as collateral damage of tax initiatives.
  • Thus, it is essential that governments and businesses work together to develop an efficient tax framework to harmonize international tax rules.

Conclusion

Whenever any sector turns into a monopoly, or becomes highly concentrated in market share, regulators must also ensure competition is not wiped out by unethical means. India’s own Competition Commission needs to consider being more active in the regulation of sectors like telecom, retail, ports, and airports, where such concentrations are occurring.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic:  accountability and ethical governance; strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance;

6. For Mahatma Gandhi, Good Governance meant Sarvodaya – the concept of actions for the common good beneficial to all. Explain. (150 words)

Reference: Ethics by Lexicon publications.

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the Gandhian Concept of Sarvodaya and its relation with good governance.

Directive:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving 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:

Begin the answer by describing about the Sarvodaya concept of Mahatma Gandhi.

Body:

Mention about the Principles of the Sarvodaya and link them with the concept of good goveranance. Elaborate with examples about the Sarvodaya movement and how it impacted our nation. Stress upon the component of Agency of Common Welfare of all.

Conclusion:

Give the relevance of Sarvodaya in the contemporary times.

Introduction:

Sarvodaya is a term meaning ‘Universal Uplift’ or ‘Progress of All’. The term was first coined by Mohandas Gandhi as the title of his 1908 translation of John Ruskin’s tract on political economy, “Unto This Last”, and Gandhi came to use the term for the ideal of his own political philosophy. Later Gandhian, like the Indian nonviolence activist Vinoba Bhave, embraced the term as a name for the social movement in post-independence India which strove to ensure that self-determination and equality reached all strata of India society.

Body:

Gandhi advances the concept of Sarvodaya, which were the based on three basic principles:

That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.

That a lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work.

That is a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.

Simple Living & High Thinking:

Mahatma Gandhi was of the firm view that the earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not for every man’s greed. In the Sarvodaya society of his dream, therefore, every member will be free from any greed for limitless acquisition of material wealth and more and more luxurious living and they will follow the motto of simple living and high thinking. Everyone will, thus, get ample opportunity to produce and earn sufficiently through honest work for decent and dignified living. Consequently there will be no problem of unemployment. Of course, obviously, income of different people may be different, depending on their talent, ability and effort. But those who will earn more will use the bulk of their greater earnings for the good of the society as a whole. In such a society, all wealth, including land, will be assumed as common property to be utilized for the welfare of all. If an individual has more than his proportionate portion, he becomes a trustee of the excess wealth for the benefit of the less fortunate members of the society.

Principles of the Sarvodaya

There is no centralized authority, and there is political and economic atmosphere in the villages.

Politics will not be the instrument of power but an agency of service and Rajnity will yield place to Loknity.

All people will be imbued with the spirit of love, fraternity, truth, non-violence and self-sacrifices. Society will function on the basis on the non-violence.

There will be no party system and majority rule and society will be free from the evil of the tyranny of the majority.

The sarvodaya society is socialist in the true sense of the term. All calling will be the same moral, social and economic values. The individual personality has the fullest scope for development.

The sarvodaya society is based on equality and liberty. There is no room in it for unwholesome some competition, exploitation and class-hatred.

Sarvodaya stands for the progress of the all. All individual should do individual labour and follow the ideal of non-possession. Then it will be possible to realize the goal of: from each according to his work and to each according to his needs.

There will be no private property, the instrument of exploitation and the source of social distinctions and hatred. Similarly, the profit motive will disappear, rent and interest to will go.

The Sarvodaya Movement is based on Truth, Non-violence and Self-denial.

The Sarvodaya Movement makes a sincere and bold attempt to create the necessary atmosphere to bring together such individuals with an unwavering faith in the Welfare of All

The gain to the individual would be small. The development of each quality depends upon every other. If all the qualities are improved a little, then the individual would gain more.

Agency of Common Welfare:

That Sarvodaya is an agency of Service for Common Welfare Sarvodaya sets its face squarely against the politics of power and exploitation. It lays great emphasis on moral and spiritual values. It seeks to create new social and economic values. The concept of possession yields place to the concept of trusteeship. People will work for the good of all and family feeling will animate the entire community. There will be fullest scope for freedom, fellowship and equality.

The state is to be an agency of power. Gramrajya is a base of non-violence. Sarvodaya stands for good of all and not for the good of any particular individual or class. Bhoodan at the early stage, Gramdan at a later stage and Sampattidan will bring about a change of heart. The rich and poor will give up their ideas of attachment to private property and will strive to work for the good of all.

Conclusion:

According to Vinoba Bhave and Jai Prakash Narayan’s philosophy, the Sarvodaya Samaj would be free from coercive centralised authority. Truth and non-violence are the two fundamental principles of the Sarvodaya Samaj.

In Sarvodaya Samaj, there will be no exploitation of man by man. There will be no distinction between rich and poor, high and low and privileged or un-privileged. All the people are to contribute to the service of the State. The rights of minority are not to be exploited by the majority.

 

Topic:  Information sharing and transparency in government, Right to Information, Codes of Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Citizen’s Charters, Work culture, Quality of service delivery, Utilization of public funds, challenges of corruption.

7. The main objective of Citizens Charter is to evolve and lay down a code of conduct for the public utilities, various service providers and other governmental organisations that have an interface with the public, so that when published as a document it can serve as a “Charter”. Discuss. (150 words)

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the main objectives and components of Citizen Charters.

Directive:

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:

Begin by defining Citizen Charter.

Body:

In the body, write about main objectives and components of Citizen Charters. Quality, Choice, Standards, Value, Transparency, Accountability, Coherence between related service providers and code of conduct.

Write about how all these will help the government develop an interface with public and the vision of the charter is fulfilled.

Conclusion:

Conclude by stressing upon the need to make Citizen Charters more effective.

Introduction

The charter is the declaration of commitment to superiority in service to customers of the department. The citizen charter declares the standards for various services offered. It includes expectations of the Organisation from the Citizens for fulfilling its commitment. Citizen charter is available on India post website.

Body 

Objective of the Citizens’ Charter

Fundamental objectives of Citizens’ Charter are as follows:

Goal of Citizens’ Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery.

Six principles of the Citizens’ Charter movement as originally framed were:

  1. Quality: Improving the quality of services
  2. Choice: Wherever possible
  3. Standards: Specify what to expect and how to act if standards are not met
  4. Value: For the taxpayers’ money
  5. Accountability: Individuals and Organisations
  6. Transparency: Rules/ Procedures/ Schemes/Grievances

Later on, these were elaborated by the Labour Government as following nine principles of Service Delivery (1998):

  1. Set standards of service
  2. Be open and provide full information
  3. Consult and involve
  4. Encourage access and the promotion of choice
  5. Treat all fairly
  6. Put things right when they go wrong
  7. Use resources effectively
  8. Innovate and improve
  9. Work with other providers
  10. The Indian Scenario

Salient Features of a Citizen’s Charter

The salient features of a Citizen’s Charter are:

  1. Agreed and published standards for service delivery;
  2. Openness and information about service delivery;
  3. ‘Choice’ and Consultation with users;
  4. Courtesy and helpfulness in service delivery; and
  5. Provision of redressal of grievances.

Standards: The Charter should lay out explicit standards of service delivery so that users understand what they can reasonably expect from service providers. These standards should be time‐bound, relevant, accurate, measurable and specific.

Information and openness: A key attribute of good service is the availability of relevant and concise information to the users at the right time and at the right place.

Choice and consultation: The Charter should provide choice of services to users wherever practicable. There should be regular and systematic consultation with the users of the service to fix service standards and to ascertain quality of service delivery.

Courtesy and helpfulness: The Charter can help embed a culture of courteous and helpful service from public servants.

Grievance redressal and complaints handling: by facilitating and responding to complaints, the causes for complaint can be reduced. Secondly, by identifying ‘trends’ in complaints, the service provider can resolve systemic and recurring problems.

Problems faced in implementing the Charters

The major obstacles encountered in this initiative are:

  1. The general perception was that Citizens’ Charters was the exercise was to be performed because there was a direction from the top.
  2. The consultation process was minimal or largely absent. It thus became one of the routine activity.
  3. The concerned staff was not sufficiently trained and sensitised.
  4. Transfers and reshuffles of concerned officers at the critical stages of implementation of a Citizens’ Charter in an organisation severely destabilised the strategic processes which were put in place and hampered the progress of the initiative.
  5. Awareness campaigns to teach clients about the Charter were not conducted systematically.
  6.  The standards/time norms of services mentioned in Citizens’ Charter were either too negligent or too tight and were impractical.
  7. The notion behind the Citizens’ Charter was not accurately understood.

Deficiencies in the Existing Citizens’ Charters

  1. Lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate publicity, hence loss of trust among service seekers
  2. No training to the operative and supervisory staff
  3. Lack of infrastructure and initiative
  4. Hierarchy gap between the Officers and the Operative Staff-Need of team effort
  5. Different mind-sets of officers and the Staff- Insensitiveness on the part of the Supervisors and the Staff because they are yet to be sensitized
  6. Staff is not prepared to shoulder the responsibility due to lack of motivation and accountability
  7. Non-revision, complicated and restrictive rules & procedures

Guidelines for the Citizens’ Charters in India

  1. List all Offices according to type of services they provide to public – Indicate their location, areas they cover, type of services being rendered to public, and phone numbers.
  2. There should be a separate Citizens’ Charter (i.e., Local Citizens’ Charters) for each office covering the services they provide.
  3. Mention Service Standards – Step-by-step-Procedure based on ‘Where to go; how to proceed’, simple and easy to fill-in Forms,etc.
  4. Minimum documentation, self-attestation and self-declaration.
  5. No duplication – In case desired information and document submitted earlier like proof of residence it should not be asked again.
  6. If promised services are not provided as per specified time schedule, an effective grievance redressal mechanism should be introduced.
  7. Provision of TATKAL (Immediate) Services if somebody is in urgent need (as in the case of Passport, Railways, etc.) to avoid touts, bribery, etc.
  8. Simultaneous changes in the Performa and other requirements to be effected along with the changes made in the Citizens Charter.
  9. Database of frequently required information, like ownership of property, vehicle, etc., tax and dues paid or pending, etc.

Key lessons

The following pitfalls need to be avoided:

  1. A realistic assessment of the capabilities of the service provider must be taken into account in drafting the Charter.
  2. A critical review of the current systems and processes in the department should be undertaken to examine whether they are likely to have an adverse impact on the Charter.
  3. Motivating the staff and involving them in the preparation of the Charter are extremely important.
  4. Departments should ensure user involvement at all stages of preparation and implementation of the Charter.
  5. Independent audit of results is important after a period of implementation of the Charter.
  6. Complex systems for lodging complaints or poor access to officers for redressal of grievances defeat the purpose and the spirit of the Charter.

Conclusion:

A Citizens’ Charter denotes the promise of an organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redressal mechanism, clearness and accountability. Based on the foreseen expectations and aspirations of public, Citizens’ Charters are to be drawn-up with care and concern for the concerned service users. They allow the service seekers to avail the services of the government departments with minimum inconvenience and maximum speed.


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