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[Mission 2023] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 1 May 2023

 

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


General Studies – 1


 

Topic: Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent);

1. Discuss the current status of water bodies in India, and what are the major issues affecting their distribution and utilization? (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HindInsights on India

Why the question:

The article discusses the distribution and utilization of water bodies in India. It highlights that India has a vast network of water bodies, but their distribution is uneven across the country.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the present status of water bodies, major issues affecting their distribution and utilisation.

Directive word: 

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving context of water resources. Cite statistics.

Body:

First, write about the current status of water resources – current status of water bodies in India, including rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands, and groundwater resources etc.

Next, write about the various issues in the above – including encroachment and destruction due to urbanization and industrialization, pollution, climate change, and inadequate water management policies.

Next, write about the steps that must be taken in order to overcome the above issues.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward. 

Introduction

The Ministry of Jal Shakti recently released the report of its first-ever census of water bodies, revealing crucial insights into the country’s water resources. The census provides an extensive inventory of water sources in India, highlighting disparities between rural and urban areas and varying levels of encroachment.

 

Body

Background

  • The census enumerated a total of 24,24,540 water bodies across the country, with West Bengal accounting for the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim the least (134).
  • The report reveals that:
    • West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs
      • The top district in terms of waterbodies is South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.
    • Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks
    • Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes
    • Maharashtra leads in water conservation schemes
  • The report highlights that 97.1% of the waterbodies are in rural areas, with only 2.9% in urban areas.
  • Most of the waterbodies are ponds, followed by tanks, reservoirs, water conservation schemes, percolation tanks, check dams, lakes, and others.

 

Major issues affecting distribution and utilisation

  • Encroachment: The census also collected data on the encroachment of waterbodies for the first time, revealing that 1.6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached, with4% of encroachments in rural areas and the remaining 4.6% in urban areas.
    • A significant percentage of encroachments cover more than 75% of the waterbody’s area.
  • Pollution and non-potable water: Water sources around the city are also polluted due to the direct discharge of domestic sewage into drains and canals.
  • Farming practices: Changes in farming patterns lead to consumption of more water for irrigation and also change the soil profile because of the use of fertilizers
    • The states ranked lowest like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Jharkhand – are home to almost half of India’s population along with the majority of its agricultural produce.
    • There is also a lack of interest in maintaining India’s traditional water harvesting structures.
  • Climate change, leading to much lower precipitation during the winter months. As a result, the natural flow and recharge of water in the region has fallen sharply
  • Unplanned development: Failure of State governments to check unplanned development and exploitation of water resources. There is no attempt at the central or state levels to manage water quantity and quality
  • The vegetation pattern has changed, tree cover is shrinking and unscientific dumping of debris in water streams is rampant.
    • The debris blocks the natural course of water bodies.
    • Increasing number of tube wells resulting in depletion of groundwater.

Measures needed

  • Ground water management is of utmost importance in urban areas where 50% water is drawn from ground. E.g.: Encroachment of flood plains, ground water recharge are areas to work with.
  • Loss of green cover in urban areas and heat island effect are reasons for depleting water sources.g.: Urban forests needs to be created like in Aarey, Mumbai.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources must reconfigure its relationship with other Ministries and Departments (Urban Development, Local Self-Government and Environment).
  • Enhanced integration and coordination are needed through effective land and water zoning regulations that protect urban water bodies, groundwater sources, wetlands and green cover while simultaneously working to enhance waste water recycling and water recharge activities targeting aquifers and wells through rainwater harvesting.
  • Focus: There is a need to shift focus from water supply infrastructure creation to water management, viz. service delivery. There is a need to pay focussed attention and subsequent planning for the efficient usage of fresh water bodies.
  • Management: Managing the demand side of water management is crucial as India cannot increase the per capita availability of water. The country needs to have a specific plan for water-stressed states.
  • Participation: The participation of individuals, NGOs and different communities in the water management process is quite missing.
    • The role of the Jal Shakti Ministry is thereby limited in handling the water crisis situation in the country until the coordination & participation of people is there for using the water prudently.

 

Conclusion

Primarily water is not valued in India. “People think it is free”. In order to meet the future urban/rural water challenges, there needs to be a shift in the way we manage our water systems. An Integrated Water Management approach must be adopted which involves managing freshwater, wastewater, and storm water, using an urban/rural area as the unit of management.

Value addition

Water stress in India

  • India has 4 % of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17 % of the world’s population.
  • Approximately 600 million people or roughly around 45 % of the population in India is facing high to severe water stress.
  • As per the report, 21 Indian cities will run out of their main source of water i.e. groundwater by 2020.
  • Nearly 40 % of the population will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6 % of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.
  • As per NITI Aayog report (CWMI) released in June 2019, India is facing the worst-ever water crisis in history.
  • A disastrous water crisis has been creeping up on us for years. Water tables have declined precipitously, even by thousands of feet in some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Tanks and wells have gone dry.
  • Some rivers have shrunk while other smaller ones have completely dried up.

 

 

Topic: Social empowerment

2. There is an urgent need for effective implementation of laws and policies to eradicate manual scavenging and provide alternative livelihoods to the affected communities. Examine. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

From March 22 to April 26, 2023, as many as eight people have died while cleaning sewers in various parts of the Gujarat, raising concerns about the continuing deaths of manual scavengers despite the fact that the practice has been declared illegal across the country.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the persistent practise of manual scavenging despite being banned and steps needed to stop it.

Directive:

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

Begin by giving context.

Body:

First, write about reasons for lack of effective implementation of the law – lack of alternative livelihood opportunities for affected communities, political will, resources, and capacity-building of government agencies.

Next, write about the steps we can take in this regard – multi-pronged approach that addresses the root causes of the problem, provides alternative livelihood opportunities, ensures effective implementation of laws and policies, and promotes public awareness campaigns to change societal attitudes etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude by writing a way forward.

Introduction

Manual scavenging refers to the unsafe and manual removal of raw (fresh and untreated) human excreta from buckets or other containers that are used as toilets or from the pits of simple pit latrines.

From March 22 to April 26, 2023, as many as eight people have died while cleaning sewers in various parts of the Gujarat, raising concerns about the continuing deaths of manual scavengers despite the fact that the practice has been declared illegal across the country.

Body

Government interventions

  • The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993and employment of manual scavengers was declared unlawful.
  • National Commission for Safai Karamchariswas constituted under the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993, to monitor and recommend specific programs.
  • Nationalaction plan for the total eradication of manual scavenging by 2007.
  • Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers initiated to provide training, loans, and subsidies for alternate occupations in 2007.
  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation, Act, 2013.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of Indiathat “entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations,” and ordered for compensation in cases of death of the worker.
  • The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) was replaced by Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA)in 2014.
  • Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment announced the Draft National Action Plan Framework ‘to eliminate inhuman practicesby 15th August 2022’ and counted sewage cleaning as one such practice.

Reasons for lack of effective implementation of the law

  • Prohibition and Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013– fails to explain what qualifies as “appropriate safety gear”.
    • It does not mention health as a component of rehabilitationand provides a meagre amount of money to the worker in the name of assistance for alternative occupations, which most manual scavengers remain unaware 
    • Nothing in the act mentions provisions related to the death of manual scavengers.
  • Municipalities choose the compensation routeas they mostly outsource the unsanitary sanitation work.
  • Toilets that were built under SBM are dependent on water and a lot of parts of India are not connected by the sewage systemAlso, Septic tanks have engineering defectswhich means that after a point, a machine cannot clean it.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has remained elusive of the health problems of manual scavengers even though the National Health Policy (2017) calls for action on social determinants of health.

Reasons for the Prevalence of Manual Scavenging in India

  • Delayed Implementation– Manual scavenging was banned 25 years ago but it continues to find practitioners.
  • Insanitary Latrines– According to Safai Karmachari Andolan, the occupation persists mainly because of the continued presence of insanitary latrines. There are about 2.6 million insanitary latrines (dry toilets) that require cleaning by hand.
  • Caste-based notions of stigma and deployment of Dalit workers in these occupations in modern contexts reinforces manual scavenging in India.
  • The policymakers’ have a fragmented and a target driven approach(counting numbers of toilets, length of sewerage, etc.,) to sanitation.
  • Privatization of waste management and acute contractualisationof sanitation work has made fixing legal responsibility and identification of the guilty much more difficult.
  • Gender-based occupation– Manual scavenging is not only a caste-based but also a gender-based occupation with 90 percent of them being women. Households with dry latrines prefer women to clean the excreta instead of men as they are located inside the house.
  • Inadequate Funding 

Way-Forward

  • Adopting technology to end manual scavenging– It is not going to be possible to eliminate manual scavenging unless we create the right technologies.
    • Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Boardis using 70 mini jetting machines that can access narrow lanes and smaller colonies to clear the choked sewer pipes.
    • In Thiruvananthapuram, a group of engineers has designed a spider-shaped robot that cleans manholes and sewers with precision.
  • Proper awareness and sensitization of the authorities: It is essential that the authorities are sensitized to recognize the intensity of the issue and see the system as dehumanizing and unconstitutional.
  • Sensitising Women through a nationwide march to make them aware of their right to live with dignity and assure them of ‘sustainable freedom’, by providing an alternative livelihood option.
  • That the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and the Supreme Court’s judgment of 2014 should be duly implemented and applied in all cases of sewer/septic tank deaths.
  • Target driven approach to measure the success of the sanitation policy
  • The underlying caste-based attitude to sanitation work and workers should be identified and strong action taken against it.

Conclusion

To eradicate the profession of manual scavenging, it is important to provide these people with alternate professions. The government could start by giving specific training for vocations like plumbing, gardening etc to those involved in manual scavenging.

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

3. Explain the constitutional provisions related to the appointment, powers, and functions of the CAG. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 2.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the powers, functions and responsibilities of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in India.

Directive word:

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by stating that the Constitution of India provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and relevant articles mentioned in the constitution.

Body:

In the first part, write about the major functions of CAG – responsible for auditing and accounting of all receipts and expenditures of the Government of India and the state governments.

Next, write about its audit functions – performance audits, compliance audits, and financial reviews of various government programs and initiatives.

Next, write about its reports to uphold transparency and accountability – reports prepared by the CAG are presented in the Parliament, and the findings are discussed and debated by the Members of Parliament.

Conclusion:

Conclude by summarising.

Introduction

The Constitution of India provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in chapter V under Part V. The CAG is mentioned in the Constitution of India under Article 148 – 151. He is the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department. He is the guardian of the public purse and controls the entire financial system of the country at both the levels- the centre and state. His duty is to uphold the Constitution of India and the laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration.

Body:

Powers: CAG derives its audit mandate from different sources like:

  • Constitution (Articles 148 to 151)
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971
  • Important Judgments
  • Instructions of Government of India
  • Regulations on Audit & Accounts-2007

Duties:

  • He audits the accounts related to all expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, Consolidated Fund of each state and UT having a legislative assembly.
  • He audits all expenditure from the Contingency Fund of India and the Public Account of India as well as the Contingency Fund and Public Account of each state.
  • He audits all trading, manufacturing, profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other subsidiary accounts kept by any department of the Central Government and the state governments.
  • He audits the receipts and expenditure of all bodies and authorities substantially financed from the Central or State revenues; government companies; other corporations and bodies, when so required by related laws.

Functions:

  • He audits all transactions of the Central and state governments related to debt, sinking funds, deposits, advances, suspense accounts and remittance business.
  • He audits the accounts of any other authority when requested by the President or Governor e.g. Local bodies.
  • He advises the President with regard to prescription of the form in which the accounts of the Centre and states shall be kept.
  • He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of the Centre to the President, who shall, in turn, place them before both the houses of Parliament.
  • He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of a State to the Governor, who shall, in turn, place them before the state legislature.
  • He ascertains and certifies the net proceeds of any tax or duty and his certificate is final on the matter.
  • He acts as a guide, friend and philosopher of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.
  • He compiles and maintains the accounts of state governments. In 1976, he was relieved of his responsibilities with regard to the compilation and maintenance of accounts of the Central government due to separation of accounts from audit.
  • He submits 3 audit reports to the President: audit report on appropriation accounts, audit report on finance accounts and audit report on public undertakings.

Responsibilities:

  • His duty is to uphold the Constitution of India and laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration.
  • The accountability of the executive (i.e., the council of ministers) to the Parliament in the sphere of financial administration is secured through audit reports of the CAG.
  • The CAG is an agent of the Parliament and conducts an audit of expenditure on behalf of the Parliament.
  • Therefore, he is responsible only to the Parliament.
  • The CAG has more freedom with regard to the audit of expenditure than with regard to the audit of receipts, stores, and stock. ―Whereas in relation to expenditure he decides the scope of the audit and frames his own audit codes and manuals, he has to proceed with the approval of the executive government in relation to rules for the conduct of the other audits.
  • The CAG has to ascertain whether money shown in the accounts as having been disbursed was legally available for and applicable to the service or the purpose to which they have been applied or charged and whether the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it.
  • In addition to this legal and regulatory audit, the CAG can also conduct the propriety audit, that is, he can look into the wisdom, faithfulness and economy ‘of government expenditure and comment on the wastefulness and extravagance of such expenditure.
  • However, unlike the legal and regulatory audit, which is obligatory on the part of the CAG, the propriety audit is discretionary.

Conclusion:

CAG helps the parliament/state legislatures hold their respective governments accountable. He is one of the bulwarks of the democratic system of government in India. It is for these reasons Dr. B R Ambedkar said that the CAG shall be the most important Officer under the Constitution of India and his duties are far more important than the duties of even the judiciary.

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4. India’s current development model has resulted in social and environmental degradation, as well as increasing inequality. In the above context, examine the need for a new path prioritizing social justice and ecological sustainability in the context of India’s development. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The HinduInsights on India

Why the question:

The article argues that India’s current development model, which prioritizes economic growth and industrialization, has resulted in social and environmental degradation, as well as increasing inequality. The author calls for a new path that prioritizes social justice, human well-being, and ecological sustainability.

Key Demand of the question: 

To write about various issues in the current model of development and need for an alternative approach to development.

Directive word: 

Explain – Clarify the topic by giving a detailed account as to how and why it occurred, or what is the context. You must be defining key terms wherever appropriate and substantiate with relevant associated facts.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by giving context about the current model of development.

Body:

Firstly, write about the major issues in the current model of development – prioritizes economic growth and industrialization, has resulted in social and environmental degradation, as well as increasing inequality.

Next, write about alternative approach needed to development – prioritizes social justice, human well-being, and ecological sustainability, incorporate traditional knowledge and practices, prioritize the needs of marginalized communities, and promote decentralized, participatory decision-making processes. Mention ways of achieving it.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Body

Issues with current model of development

  • The state of functional literacy and professional skills is poor. Indian graduates have low employability and does not meet changing economic structure or support global competitiveness.
  • In India, a large portion of the population is below the poverty line, therefore, they do not have easy access to primary health and education.
    • There is growing inequality across social groups and income groups which translates itself into poor socio-economic mobility.
  • Lack of socioeconomic mobility hinders human capital development and traps a large section of population to be in the vicious circle of poverty.
  • There is a disconnect between India’s rate of technological growth and ability to distribute the gains from it by adequately focusing on skilling and health.
    • The use of technical advancements has been concentrated in few sectors and benefits accrued by a few elitist sections of the society.
  • India’s high growth rate phase (2004-05 to 2010-11) has created significantly fewer jobs as compared to previous decades of economic growth.
    • Around 47 % of India’s population is still dependent on agriculture which is notorious for underemployment and disguised unemployment.
    • Majority of the workforce is employed by the unorganized sector where workers are underpaid and lack any kind of social security.

 

Alternative approaches to development

  • First and foremost, our policies and actions must be human-centred, to allow people to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity.
    • This approach is not new, it was set out and agreed in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the International Labour Organization’s international membership signed the Declaration of Philadelphia, in 1944.
  • This visionary document set out guiding principles for our economic and social systems, that they should not be turned exclusively to hitting specific growth rates or other statistical targets, but to address human needs and aspirations.
    • This means focusing on inequality, poverty alleviation and core social protection. The most effective way to do this is by providing quality jobs so that people can support themselves and build their own futures — ‘Decent Work for All’, as Sustainable Development Goal 8 terms it.
  • To make all this happen, we need to recommit to international cooperation and solidarity. We must enhance our efforts and create greater policy coherence, particularly within the multilateral system, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, calls it.
  • This is why we need a Global Coalition for Social Justice. This coalition will create a platform to bring together a broad range of international bodies and stakeholders. It will position social justice as the keystone of the global recovery, so that it is prioritised in national, regional and global policies and actions. In sum, it will ensure that our future is human-centred.

Conclusion

We have the chance to reshape the world we live in — economically, socially and environmentally. We must move forward to build the equitable and resilient societies that can underpin lasting peace and social justice.

As we celebrate the past 75 years, flying the national flag in every home, let us also think about our people for whom little has changed in their lives, with a resolve to ensure that poverty and illiteracy do not exist 25 years from now when we celebrate the first centenary of our independence from colonial rule.

 

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

5. Provide a comprehensive evaluation of India’s endeavours in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 while scrutinizing them. Determine the modifications that need to be made to accomplish the objectives.

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, while addressing the first meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors under India’s G20 Presidency, held on February 24-25, 2023, expressed concern that “progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) seems to be slowing down”.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about India’s performance with respect to SDG’s and changes required to achieve the target.

Directive word: 

Evaluate – When you are asked to evaluate, you have to pass a sound judgement about the truth of the given statement in the question or the topic based on evidence.  You must appraise the worth of the statement in question. There is scope for forming an opinion here.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by giving context about 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved by 2030.

Body:

First, mention the important SDGs in brief and write about the various measures taken in order to achieve them.

Next, evaluate India’s performance toward achieving various SDGs by 2030 and mention the shortfalls.

Next, write about the various course corrections that are required in order to ensure that SGDs are achieved by 2030.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Recently, the Lancet journal published a report titled “Progress on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators in 707 districts of India: A quantitative mid-line assessment using the National Family Health Surveys, 2016 and 2021”.

The report has highlighted India’s SDGs performance is not up to the mark and mentioned that India may not be able to achieve at least 19 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

 

Body

Background on SDG’s

  • The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
  • There is a total of 17 interlinked goals; interlinked because they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others and that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
  • They were adopted by a UN General Assembly Resolution in September 2015 (Agenda 2030).
  • Through the resolution, the global leaders pledged to set the world on a new trajectory to deliver meaningful progress for people and the planet through domestic actions in the next 15 years.

Current Affairs 

 

 

India’s achievements in SDG goals

The study found some good things about India’s SDG performance.

  • These include at the all-India level, the one SDG indicator that has already been achieved is related to adolescent pregnancy in the age group of 10–14 years.
  • India is also On-Target to meet 13 out of the 33 indicators, including Internet use, women having a bank account, full vaccination (card), improved sanitation, multidimensional poverty, birth registration, skilled birth attendants, electricity access, tobacco use (women), child marriage of girls less than 15 years of age, under 5 mortality, teenage sexual violence, and neonatal mortality.
  • If efforts continue, India may meet the target of improved water access by 2031, clean fuel for cooking by 2035, lowering teenage pregnancy age by 2039, and partner sexual violence by 2040.
  • Another 11 off-target indicators, including access to basic services and partner violence (physical and sexual), may be met between 2041 and 2062.

Critical analysis of India’s SDG performance

  • India is not on-target for 19 of the 33 SDGs indicators (Sustainable Development Goals) of the United Nations, which is more than 50% of the indicators.
  • Among the 19 off-target indicators, the situation has worsened for three of the off-target goals including those relating to anaemia among women, pregnant and non-pregnant women, between 2016 and 2021.
  • The critical off-target indicators include access to basic services, wasting and overweight children, anaemia, child marriage, partner violence, tobacco use, and modern contraceptives.
  • Off-target districts are concentrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Odisha.
  • The performance of aspirational districts is also not satisfactory. Many districts will never meet the targets on the SDGs even after 2030 due to a worsening trend observed between 2016 and 2021.

Challenges in meeting the goals for India

  • Worsening period: According to the Lancet report many districts will never meet the targets on the SDGs even after 2030 due to a worsening trend observed between 2016 and 2021.
  • Financing SDGs: SDG targets like zero hunger, poverty, etc requires significant investments to eliminate them. Being home to one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extremely poor, the Indian government alone cannot fund these SDG targets.
  • Monitoring & Ownership of Implementation Process: Although NITI Aayog is expected to play an important role, the members of the Aayog have expressed their concerns time and again about the limited manpower they have to handle such a Herculean task.

 

Conclusion and wayforward

  • Appraisal of the policies and programs: India needs to urgently conduct an appraisal of the policies and programs that relate to SDGs, especially those that relate to four SDG targets relating to no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being and gender equality.
  • Identifying and prioritizing districts: On critical indicators of health and social determinants of health, there is a need for a greater degree of precision in identifying and prioritizing districts for intervention. Meeting these goals will require prioritising and targeting specific areas within India
  • Inter-ministerial initiatives: Since the different SDGs fall under tightly organised ministries, there is a need to establish inter-ministerial initiatives, with clear governance structures under the Prime Minister’s Office. Similar structures could be developed at the state level under the respective chief minister’s office.
  • Conduct economic cost-benefit analysis: This will aid in setting priorities and directing more resources to the policy that offers the greatest return for each additional rupee spent. Along with other initiatives, India should also create a strategic road map that will help make sure that the SDGs are met successfully.

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Utilization of public funds;

6. Without transparency, progress towards developmental goals can be slow, inefficient, and undermined by corruption and mismanagement. Discuss with examples. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Why the question:

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

Key Demand of the question:

To explain how transparency associated with utilization of public funds of the country will improve it efficacy.

Directive:

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

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Discuss the importance of transparency and accountability in public funds.

Body:

Explain the lacunae in the country with respect to utilization of public funds such as corruption, nepotism, incomplete works, bad quality work, siphoning funds etc.

Discuss the significance of Transparency and efficiency as tools for monitoring and supervising distribution of public fund.

Explain various mechanisms through which it can be done – Public Fund Management System, Auditing agencies – CAG, Budgeting – Outcome based budgeting, zero base budgeting, Participation and transparency – Social Auditing, Financial Prudence etc.

Conclusion:

Summarize of this will aid in the developmental process of the country as well as reduce corrupt practices.

Introduction

‘Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honour. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labour and poverty.’ – Thomas Paine

Kautilya also wrote extensively on handling public funds in Arthashastra which remains relevant even today. Government and public funds are riddled with corruption and only complete accountability and transparency can rid us of this situation.

Body:

Four principles underpin trust in the public finances:

  • Transparency −accurate records that show where money is raised and spent.
  • Assurance − figures and processes are checked by independent experts.
  • Accountability −decision makers are clearly identified and subject to strict rules and review of performance and outcomes.
  • Objectivity − policies are based on accurate information and rigorous analysis

The question of utilization of public funds has different aspects.

  • The first aspect relates to accountability and efficacy
  • The second aspect concerns the manner of fund utilization.
  • The third aspect relates to the outputs and outcomes which result from the fund use.
  • The fourth aspect is the source of funds.
  • Finally, any fund utilization or expenditure has to meet the audit requirements.

How lack of transparency affects developmental goals

  • Corruption: The large sum of money earmarked for public activities are taken away by officials as well as politicians in form of bribes. This results in funds not able to contribute towards development.
    • Ex: Money allocated for construction of houses for poor is consumed by corrupt officials.
  • Political rivalry:Sometimes political class indulges in act of vendetta where they do not cooperate in allocation or release of funds to their opposition. They hope to reap the anger against their opponents for their political gains.
    • Ex: Government in power not allocating developmental funds to opposition MLAs.
  • Diversion: The funds allocated to one activity is diverted to another in order to meet strict control over finances.
    • Ex: Funds allocated to road repair is diverted to giving freebies.
  • Red Tapism: Colonial bureaucratic attitude sometimes acts as hinderance in carrying out developmental activities. They complicate the process due to which funds are not properly utilized.

Transparency and accountability: Significance

  • Itis vital to uphold the ‘social contract’. Citizens must be confident that they are protected by the law and that public institutions and servants will act in accordance with it.
  • Public institutions with operational independence from political control are more likely to be trusted to act in the public interest.
  • well-informed population is far more likely to be confident about investing for the future. This means both providing appropriate information in ways that are accessible and easy to understand, and educating citizens as well as inviting them to participate in decision making.
  • Effective public financial management requires that decision-makers, citizens and other stakeholders, are able to ‘follow the money’ to see how taxes were raised,why decisions to spend it were made, how the money was actually spent and what was bought.
  • Where government plans and activities are measured against expected outputs and outcomes, citizens and other stakeholders will be able to judge the performance of government. This, in turn, provides the basis for feedback and continuous improvement mechanisms.
  • For the public to believe that public officials will do the right thing, a range of controls to promote integrity and ethical behaviour and to tackle fraud and corruptionare required.
  • Most importantly, the public must believe that individuals will be held responsible for their actions, no matter who they are.
  • A climate for investment is created wheninvestors believe a state is stable, well run and that political and fiscal risks will be managed effectively.

Conclusion

Only transparency and accountability can ensure that public funds are being used for the greater welfare and benefit of the people and society. Weeding out corruption is also necessary to ensure funds are not underutilised or siphoned off illegally. Only when we bring in more openness in working of government can there be real productivity and good governance.

 

Topic: Probity in Governance: Concept of public service; Philosophical basis of governance and probity;

7. Corruption is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that can have far-reaching and detrimental impacts on the society. Analyse. (150 words)

Difficulty level: Easy

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 impact of corruption and measures needed to prevent it.

Directive word: 

Analyse – When asked to analyse, you must examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them in a summary.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining corruption.

Body:

First, write about the factors that aid corruption – opportunity costs, quid pro quo, acceptance of corruption etc. Write about its impact on various dimensions. Substantiate with examples,

Next, suggest various measures to break the cycle of collusive corruption.

Conclusion:

Conclude by Summarising,

Introduction

Corruption is dishonest behavior by those in positions of power. It starts with the tendency of using public office for some personal benefit. Moreover, it is unfortunate that corruption has, for many, become a matter of habit. It is so deeply entrenched that corruption is now considered a social norm. Hence, corruption implies the failure of ethics.

Body

Importance of fighting corruption:

  • Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines rule of law, leads to violations of human rights and allows organized crime to flourish.
  • Corruption in India is not limited to collusive high-level scams.
  • Petty corruption, which affects the delivery of basic services and rights to people, is rampant.
  • Corruption impacts societies in a multitude of ways. In the worst cases, it costs lives. Short of this, it costs people their freedom, health or money. The cost of corruption can be divided into four main categories: political, economic, social and environmental.
  • On the political front, corruption is a major obstacle to democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, offices and institutions lose their legitimacy when they’re misused for private advantage. This is harmful in established democracies, but even more so in newly emerging ones. It is extremely challenging to develop accountable political leadership in a corrupt climate.
  • Economically, corruption depletes national wealth. Corrupt politicians invest scarce public resources in projects that will line their pockets rather than benefit communities, and prioritise high-profile projects such as dams, power plants, pipelines and refineries over less spectacular but more urgent infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads. Corruption also hinders the development of fair market structures and distorts competition, which in turn deters investment.
  • Corruption corrodes the social fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. A distrustful or apathetic public can then become yet another hurdle to challenging corruption. This especially impacts the poor and marginalized, who are most dependent on public provisioning of rations, pensions, health, and education. Serious cases of several big corruptions have surfaced in the last five years, including banking frauds and the Rafale deal. The popular sentiment that helped the incumbent Government in the 2014 general election was resentment against corruption in public life.
  • Environmental degradationis another consequence of corrupt systems. The lack of, or non-enforcement of, environmental regulations and legislation means that precious natural resources are carelessly exploited, and entire ecological systems are ravaged. From mining, to logging, to carbon offsets, companies across the globe continue to pay bribes in return for unrestricted destruction

Measures to curb corruption:

The solution to the problem of corruption has to be more systemic than any other issue of governance. Merely shrinking the economic role of the state by resorting to deregulation, liberalization and privatization is not necessarily the solution to addressing the problem.

  • Adopting effective and coordinated policies against corruption
  • Developing a coherent anti-corruption policy which identifies the causes of corruption and commits to practical, coordinated and effective measures to address these causes is a prerequisite for success.
  • Fair and transparent system of public procurement
  • Establishing a procurement system, built on the principles of objectivity, transparency and competition, is important to both saving public money and to ensuring that the policy and developmental objectives of the government are met.
    • : GeM Government E-market Placeis a step in the right directions. With this, Public Finance Management System also helps in tracking the real-time usage of funds.
  • Strengthened transparency and public reporting
  • An informed society with free access to information is a strong deterrent to corruption.
  • This underlines the importance of transparency, public reporting and access to information in preventing corruption.
  • Right to Information needs to be strengthened to make the public officials and governments more accountable to the citizens.
  • Citizens must be Vigilant: Otherwise, like Plato said “The punishment suffered by the wise who refuse to take part in government, is to suffer under the government of bad men”
  • Institutional monitoring and legislative reforms
  • Prevalent institutional arrangements have to be reviewed and changes made where those vested with power are made accountable, their functioning made more transparent and subjected to social audit with a view to minimize discretionary decisions.
  • Napoleon who said, ‘Law should be so succinct that it can be carried in the pocket of the coat and it should be so simple that it can be understood by a peasant’.
  • The2ndARC recommended that The Prevention of Corruption Act should be amended to ensure that sanctioning authorities are not summoned and instead the documents can be obtained and produced before the courts by the appropriate authority.
  • E-governance
  • The focus should be on e-governance and systemic change. An honest system of governance will displace dishonest persons.
  • Other Reforms
  • All procedures, laws and regulations that breed corruption and come in the way of efficient delivery system will have to be eliminated.
  • The perverse system of incentives in public life, which makes corruption a high return low risk activity, need to be addressed.
  • In this context, public example has to be made out of people convicted on corruption charge

Second ARC guidelines to prevent corruption

  • Vigilance and Corruption:
    • Strengthening pro-active vigilance to eliminate corruption and harassment to honest civil servants including, wherever necessary, limiting executive discretion.
    • Addressing systemic deficiencies manifesting in reluctance to punish the corrupt.
    • Identify procedures, rules and regulations and factors which lead to corruption.
  • Relationship between Political Executive and Permanent Civil Service: Improvements in the institutional arrangements for smooth, efficient and harmonious relationship between civil service and the political executive is needed.
  • Code of Conduct for different organs of Government: This includes Political Executive, Civil Services, etc.

Conclusion

“Rivers do not drink their waters themselves, nor do trees eat their fruit, nor do the clouds eat the grains raised by them. The wealth of the noble is used solely for the benefit of others.”

Corruption needs to be rooted out from the very core of our nation, so that there is justiciable distribution of resources in the country leading to inclusive growth and ‘Sabka Vikas.’


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