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[Mission 2024] Insights SECURE SYNOPSIS: 6 September 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: Social empowerment

1. India faces several complex challenges that contribute to its vulnerability regarding crimes against women. To address these issues, the government and civil society in India must work together to rethink policies and better coordinate efforts to create safer spaces for women. Discuss. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: The Hindu

Why the question:

The article discusses the limitations in India’s calculations related to missing women, highlighting that the existing methods fail to capture the complex dynamics of gender imbalances.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the reasons for unabated crimes against women and steps that are needed to tackle this chronic problem.

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: 

Begin by giving context and mention the NCRB data on increasing cases of rape in India

Body:

In the first part, mention the reasons for this chronic issue. Legal loopholes, social conditioning, culture of violence, Caste dynamics etc.

Write the steps that are the need of the hour. Effective implementation of Laws, investigating agency and prosecution more proficient, awareness, gender sensitisation etc. Debate about provision of death penalty for Rape.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRBpaints a frightful picture of a steady rise in rape cases. India recorded 32,033 rape cases in 2019. This implies that at least 88 women were raped every day. In the past week, three heinous crimes against women were reported in different parts of the country.

These horrific, unrelated crimes point to a common denominator: India remains unsafe for women. The Delhi gang rape of 2012, which led to stricter laws, is now a distant memory, as horrific cases of sexual violence continue to shock the country.

Body

Crimes against Women: Statistics

In 2019, 400,000 cases of crimes against women were reported, up from about 378,000 in 2018. These account for only 10% of the crimes against women. The conviction rate for rape cases is a dismal 30%.

Culture of crimes against women in India

  • Entrenched Patriarchy: India is a deeply patriarchal society. Popular culture equates masculinity with sexual aggression and encourages men and boys to bully and harass women, even rape them, to “tame” them and teach them a lesson.
  • Gender and caste violence: Raping Dalit women takes this misogyny further. A Dalit woman is raped not just to punish and humiliate the woman but also her family and community. It is aimed at underscoring the powerlessness of Dalit men and the larger Dalit community to protect “their” women.
  • Justice system: It is a social fact that the criminal legal system often merely re-arranges a system of illegalities. For example, rape survivors are routinely pressurized to “compromise” illegally and turn hostile in trials, failing which they may be threatened or even killed.
  • Humiliation to victim: Victims, instead of getting justice, had to face several unnecessary humiliating questions.
  • Crime in home: Most crimes still happen within the confines of homes & victims are raped by people they know well like relatives/friends/etc, most of these cases don’t even make it to the statistics.
  • No preventive measures: In case of any crime committed against women, the discussion always goes towards punishment for the crime only, but never towards the prevention of crime.

Rethinking policies to make safer spaces for women

  • Law enforcement must swiftly bring the perpetrators to book and state governments must ascertain areas of high crime rates and double safety protocols in those areas.
  • Men and young boys must be brought into the conversation to dismantle patriarchy and power structures that destroy the lives of women.
  • Plugging Gaps in Justice Delivery: The most severe gaps in the justice delivery system are reporting a police complaint. Therefore, the focus of the criminal justice system needs to shift from sentencing and punishment to the stages of reporting, investigation, and victim-support mechanisms. In this context, the following measures must be ensured:
    • The victim reports a case without any fear.
    • Police to conduct a sound investigation.
    • Victim protection throughout the trial.
    • Making testification as easy and as quick as possible.
    • Allocation of resources and more robust implementation of the law than is currently evident.
  • Sensitisation At a Broader Level: Despite the ever-increasing ambit of the death sentence, there has been little effort to address prejudices in society.
    • Addressing the prejudices in the society against sexual offences requires sensitisation of functionaries of the justice system & more importantly society.
  • Victim protection: Adequate protection must be given to the victim until the case is closed to ensure they are not threatened.

Conclusion

Crimes against women are on the rise in recent times. Safety of women is of utmost important to ensure that the society will prosper. The extent of violence against women in India is shameful, and shows little sign of abating. While, as a community, it is possible to pass laws to criminalise the violence, law alone will not ask men to respect the opposite gender. What needs to be ingrained in the society is this “stronger people don’t put others down; they lift them up”. The year 2012 brought a drastic change in the way the State and society began viewing the epidemic of sexual violence; nine years later, India still has a long way to go.

 

 


General Studies – 2


 

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

2. India’s Constitution establishes a federal system of governance. However, over time, there have been instances where central governments, have been criticized for centralizing power and decision-making potentially affecting the balance of federalism. Critically analyse. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Tough

Reference: Insights on India

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 2 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the centralising tendency witnessed in India and suggests steps to overcome it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining federalism.

Body:

First, write about the various tensions in the centre-state relations in the recent past. Cite examples to substantiate.

Next, mention the centralising tendencies witnessed in India prior to the pandemic – monetary share of the States in Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, imposition of demonetisation without adequate consultation with the States, institutionalisation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), outsourcing of the statutory functions under the Smart Cities Mission, a delay in transfer of GST compensation, ‘One Nation One Ration’,

Next, write about the other side. Mention the various facets that have promoted federalism in the recent past.

Conclusion:

Conclude by giving a balanced opinion.

Introduction

India is a federal state where the Centre and the State are the Cooperating units of the polity. Yet India is an asymmetrical federalism, with the balance of power tilting in the favour of the Centre. Article 256 deals with Union-state relation and State’s obligation while Article 365 mandates the state governments to follow and implement the directions of the Central government. Changing dynamics of party system is shaping the trajectory of Federalism from cooperative to confrontationalist.

 

Body

Centre-state relations: Amidst centralisation

  • State’s dwindling resources: The findings suggest that recent changes in India’s fiscal architecture, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, and increase in state shares for the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) had placed state finances in a precarious position, even prior to the crisis.
  • Increasing dependency on Centre: The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Shortfall in devolution: Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.

Rising unitary tendencies

  • Article 355 enjoins the Union to “… ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
    • Example: When State governments raised concerns about the NPR, the Union insisted that States are under a constitutional duty to implement laws passed by Parliament.
  • Centrally sponsored Schemes: CSS is the biggest component of Central Assistance to state plans (CA), where states don’t have much flexibility.
  • Enforcement of International Treaties and Agreements. This provision enables the central government to fulfil its international obligations (Art. 253). The Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Parliament through the provisions of this particular article.
  • Article 200: Reservation of state Bills by Governor for President’s assent.
  • Article 256 mentions that the executive power of every state shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with laws made by Parliament and any existing laws, which apply in that state, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a state as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
  • Several issues such as trust deficit and shrinkage of divisible pools plague Centre-State relations. Together, they make total cooperation difficult.
  • On one hand the Centre has increased the States’ share of the divisible pool but in reality States are getting a lesser share.
    • For instance, as per the 16th FC recommendations, many south states are on the losing side of their share of tax resources.
    • The allocation towards various social welfare schemes has also come down, affecting the States’ health in turn.
  • Inter-State water disputes like the Mahadayi issue between Goa and Karnataka, Mahanadi water disputes (Odisha and Chhattisgarh) requires cooperation from all quarters (centre and riparian states).

 

Strengthening of Indian federal polity

  • Legislative/Administrative
    • Separation of Power: Schedule 7 of Constitution provides strict delineation of powers between center and state. (Except during emergencies which comes under judicial review)
    • Article 131 of the Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases between states and the Centre. Eg: Chhattisgarh moved SC against NIA Act in Jan 2020.
    • Coalition governments: It has increased states’ bargaining power.
  • Political
    • In relation to the imposition of President’s rule under Article 356 of the Constitution, federalism is far more mature.
  • Financial
    • GST Council: Passing of GST is a shining example of cooperative federalism where States and Centre have ceded their power to tax and come up with a single tax system to realize the dream of one Economic India with ‘One Nation, One Market’.
    • Majority decisions have been based on consensus till now, while states gave 2/3rd of votes.
    • Since 10th FC, state’s share has been continuously increasing till 14th FC by devolving 42%.
  • Other Areas
    • NITI Aayog: Replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission, the Aayog is promoting bottom-up approach to development planning.
    • Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas involves State’s as equal partners of development. There is a move towards competitive and cooperative

 

Conclusion and way forward

  • Strengthening of Inter-State Council: Over the year multiple committees have recommended strengthening of Interstate Council where the concurrent list subjects can be debated and discussed, balancing Centre state powers. There is far less institutional space to settle inter-state frictions therefore a constitutional institution like ISC can be a way forward.
  • Autonomy to states: Centre should form model laws with enough space for states to maneuver. Centre should give enough budgetary support to states so as to avoid budgetary burden. There should be least interference in the state subjects.
  • Democratic Decentralization of administration and strengthening governments at all levels in true spirit. Power should be decentralized based on the principle of subsidiarity.
  • While in certain areas, it might warrant greater powers to the Union(defence, currency etc), on the development front (education, health etc.) the Centre should respect the autonomy of the other two levels of government and consciously avoid the tendency to centralize powers and functions.

 

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

3. What is fiscal federalism? Enhancing fiscal federalism in India requires a comprehensive approach that addresses imbalances, encourages cooperation, and empowers states to manage their finances effectively. Examine. (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 and mentioned as part of Mission-2024 Secure timetable.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about the evolution of fiscal federalism in India, issues in it and measures needed to overcome the issues.

Directive:

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by defining fiscal federalism in India.

Body:

First, give a brief about the development of fiscal federalism in India since independence.

Next, write about the various issues with respect to fiscal federalism in India – opacity, GST issues, FRMBA, impact of the pandemic etc.

Next, write about the measures needed to rectify the above.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

While fiscal federalism in India has a long history, its practice has grown increasingly opaque over the years. Serious attention is required to improve its principles and practices. The India of today, notably through its governance “matrix”, economic development, institution-building and multilateral relations, are vastly different from the India that drafted its constitution in 1950. India is going through a transition in its intergovernmental relations. Boundaries based on linguistic factors and administrative convenience are blurring, given changes brought on by innovation and migration. Socio-economic trends such as technological change, rising mobility and market integration will affect the future of fiscal federalism in India.

Body

Development of fiscal federalism in India

  • Broadly speaking, with the evolution of fiscal federalism in India, there has beenmarked stability in its process and procedures.
  • The annual budgetary processes of both the central and federal governments are independent exercisesand must pass through the Parliament or state legislature.
  • The Finance Commission, which was first constituted in 1951, performs the functions broadly enshrined inArticle 280 of the Indian Constitution.
  • For most of the post-independence era, the existence of the Planning Commission injected centralising dependence in more ways than one.
    • The Planning Commissionbecame a parallel institution for the transfer of resources from the Union of States.
  • While the focus of the Finance Commission remained on the revenue account, the Planning Commission was concerned predominantly with the capital account.
  • Successive Finance Commissions commented on this as being inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution in the devolution of resources.
  • There were other developments, like the73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution in 1992 giving status to Panchayat Raj institutions and Urban Local Bodies with specific functions assigned to them under the 11th and 12th schedules.
  • The Fourteenth Finance Commission decided that 42% of NDP (net divisible pool) should go to the subnational governments by way of devolution, or net proceeds of taxes, and the balance should go to the central government. In addition, after projecting the likely growth rates of individual subnational governments and their likely buoyancy in appropriate cases, a revenue deficit grant under Article 275 was given.

 

Various issues regarding fiscal federalism in India

  • GST: States have lost the autonomy to decide the tax rates of subjects that fall within the State List.
    • Previously, state governments used to fix tax rates by taking into account their spending requirements, revenue base, etc.
    • The inability of states to fix tax rates to match their development requirements implies greater dependence on the centre for funds.
  • Cess and surcharges: Another emerging challenge is that cesses and surcharges are becoming a disproportionate proportion of the overall divisible revenue, withnon-tax revenues being kept outside the divisible pool.
  •  
    • These are worrisome issues, and there should be some mechanism to ensure that the basic spirit of the devolution process should not be undercut by clever financial engineering or by the manipulation of methods that makes them technical and legally tenable, but perhaps not morally so.
  • Increasing dependency on Centre: The dependency of states on the Centre for revenues has increased, with the share of the revenue from own sources declining from 55% in 2014-15 to 50.5% in 2020-21.
    • While part of this is inherent in India’s fiscal structure, wherein states are the big spenders and the Centre controls the purse strings, the situation has been exacerbated by the introduction of the GST.
    • Barring a few exceptions, such as petroleum products, property tax, and alcohol excise, indirect taxes have, to a large degree, been subsumed under the GST regime, eroding the ability of states to raise their own revenues.
  • Shortfall in devolution: Adding to state woes is the significant divergence in past periods between the amount of GST compensation owed and the actual payments made, including for states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand that need greater fiscal support.
    • Even before Covid-19 hit, 11 states estimated a revenue growth rate below the estimated 14% level, implying higher amounts will be owed as GST compensation.
    • With the bulk of the states’ GST coming from goods such as electronics, fashion, and entertainment — all of which have been impacted by the pandemic — these revenues are likely to decline further.

Measures needed

To sum up, for a large federal country of a mind-boggling diversity, India’s ability to fight Covid-19 pandemic largely rests on how well it manages its Centre-state relation.

  • When compared with other large federal countries such as the US, the country has done very well to minimize the frictions and provide a sense of direction to the states.
  • However, tackling Covid-19 as seen from the experience of other countries would require adifferential and agile response across states and the Centre has at best to play the role of a mentor in providing leadership and resource support.
  • The rigid approach as evident in lockdown phase would prove a major hurdle. States must becleared their dues and be given ample fiscal space to ensure economy is revived.
  • States must be allowed to lead in terms of reviving economy, generating income support, jobs while contain the virus at the same time.
  • The next big change will come when the current Centre-state relationship gets redefined in a way that enables the 28 states to become federal in the true sense – as self-sustaining economic territories in matters of energy, water, food production and waste recycling.
  • Our economic geography of production, transport and communication has to change – it has to become distributive rather than being focused towards the Centre.
  • Centrally distributed funds will need to be directed specifically to build the capacities of each state.
    • The instruments will enable them to embark on a sustainable economic recovery whose base is widely distributed across the various panchayats and districts of each state.
    • Driving distributive recovery will be energy, transport, supply chains, public administration, rule of law, agriculture and rural development.
  • a buoyant tax system can ease the battle for resources in our federal system, and hopefully minimize the mistrust that has grown in recent years between the Centre and states.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has thus recommended a slew of fiscal reforms to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio, especially through an overhaul of the goods and services tax.
  • In short, the real cooperative federalism which the Centre has been espousing for many years is now put on test and the Centre must ensure states are given full cooperation to battle the challenge.

Conclusion

It is important now to rethink the design and structure of a genuine fiscal partnership, which should not merely be a race to garner more resources, but a creative attempt to move towards a vibrant Indian value chain that can catapult India’s growth rate closer to the quest for double-digit growth. Times of economic slowdown must be viewed anecdotally as they are transient in nature and cannot impair India’s vision, both with regard to its potential and its historical compulsions. It is necessary to recast the ideology in a more contemporary context; only then will the practice become more transparent, and India will benefit from congruence between its precepts and practice.

 

 


General Studies – 3


 

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

4. Analyse the role of financial inclusion as a policy tool for reducing poverty and inequality in the country by addressing some of the key barriers that prevent individuals and communities from participating in the economy effectively. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The article delves into the significance of financial inclusion in addressing poverty and inequality on a global scale.

Key Demand of the question:

To write about role of financial inclusion as a policy tool, assess its impact, identify challenges, and propose potential improvements.

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 providing context on the importance of financial inclusion.

Body:

First, discuss the role of Financial Inclusion on Poverty Reduction – increased access to financial services can empower marginalized communities, facilitate savings, and foster economic growth.

Next, assess the Role of Financial Inclusion in Reducing Inequality – delve into how financial inclusion measures can bridge economic disparities, expand opportunities, and promote social equity.

Next, write about the challenges Associated with Financial Inclusion – identify barriers, such as limited access in rural areas, lack of financial literacy, and the digital divide, that hinder the effectiveness of financial inclusion policies etc.

 Conclusion:

Comment with a balanced way forward.

Introduction

Financial inclusion may be defined as the process of ensuring access to financial services and timely and adequate credit where needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low-income groups at an affordable cost. Global Findex database found that 71% of adults in developing economies now have a formal financial account compared to 42% in the first edition a decade ago.

Body

Financial inclusion in India: Significance

Increased Access to Banks

  • According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database or Global Findex report (2017), 80% Indian adults have a bank account against the 53% estimated in 2014.
  • The Findex 2017 report also estimates that 77% Indian women have bank accounts, against 43% in 2014.

Multiplier Effect

  • These initiatives have brought about major changes to increase the last-mile connectivity of financial services to its people.
  • By providing access to financial resources to underprivileged and marginalised sections of society, financial inclusion has the potential to reduce poverty, create jobs, among others.

Enhancing Active Participation of Citizenry

  • Earlier, private institutions did not engage with the poor as customers on a significant scale.
  • This has now changed, and there has been an active participation of the private players (payment banks like paytm, airtel money and jio money), as they have also realised that bringing the poor into the financial net is beneficial to their business models as well.

Integration of Financial Services

  • The convergence of JAM trinity with the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme has largely been successful.
  • Due to this, there has been a significant improvement in terms of targeted and accurate payments.
  • It has also helped in weeding out duplication of entries, and bringing down the reliance on cash mode of payments.

 

Key barriers preventing participation in formal economy

  • Lack of Access to Formal Financial Services: Many individuals, especially in rural and remote areas, still do not have access to basic financial services like savings accounts, credit, and insurance. This limits their ability to save, invest, and cope with financial shocks.
  • Limited Financial Literacy: A significant portion of the population, particularly in rural areas, lacks adequate financial literacy. This hampers their understanding of formal financial systems, leading to underutilization or misuse of available services.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure: Limited physical infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, and internet connectivity, can impede economic activities, especially in remote and underserved regions.
  • Unemployment and Underemployment: India faces challenges in providing employment opportunities that match the skills and aspirations of its workforce. Many individuals are either unemployed or engaged in low-paying, informal sector jobs.
  • Gender Disparities: Women often face additional barriers in accessing education, employment, and financial services. Cultural norms and limited mobility can further restrict their economic participation.
  • Caste and Social Discrimination: Discrimination based on caste, religion, or ethnicity can result in exclusion from economic opportunities, particularly for marginalized communities.
  • Limited Access to Quality Education and Healthcare: Inadequate access to quality education and healthcare limits individuals’ ability to acquire necessary skills and maintain good health, both of which are crucial for effective participation in the economy.
  • Lack of Formal Land Tenure and Property Rights: The lack of clear and formal land tenure rights, especially for rural communities, can hinder access to credit and impede investment in agricultural activities.
  • Corruption and Bureaucratic Hurdles: Corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies can deter individuals and businesses from participating in the formal economy, leading to a preference for informal, often less regulated, economic activities.
  • Limited Availability of Credit for Small Enterprises: Small and medium-sized enterprises often face challenges in accessing formal credit, which hampers their ability to grow and create employment opportunities.

 

Financial inclusion as policy tool reducing poverty

  • Access to Formal Financial Services:
    • Savings Accounts: Initiatives like the Jan Dhan Yojana have resulted in a substantial increase in the number of individuals with access to a basic savings account. This enables them to securely save money, and also facilitates the direct transfer of subsidies and benefits.
    • Microfinance Institutions: India has a vibrant microfinance sector that provides small loans to individuals and small businesses, especially in rural areas. This has empowered many to start or expand their enterprises.
    • Credit Access for Micro and Small Enterprises:
    • MUDRA Yojana: This initiative provides financial support to micro and small businesses. It offers loans at different stages of business growth and facilitates financial inclusion for small entrepreneurs, who are often excluded from formal banking channels.
  • Government Schemes and Direct Benefit Transfers:
    • Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT): Linking various subsidies and welfare schemes directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts has reduced leakages and ensured that the intended benefits reach the intended recipients.
    • PM-Kisan: The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana provides direct income support to farmers, which is directly credited to their bank accounts. This scheme has played a vital role in providing financial stability to rural farming communities.
  • Insurance and Pension Schemes:
    • PMJJBY and PMSBY: These are low-cost insurance schemes that provide life and accident coverage, respectively, to individuals. They have contributed to reducing financial vulnerability among marginalized populations.
  • Digital Financial Inclusion:
    • UPI, Aadhaar, and Mobile Banking: The promotion of digital payment systems and the widespread use of Aadhaar for identity verification have enhanced accessibility, convenience, and security in financial transactions.
  • Promoting Financial Literacy:
    • Financial Literacy Camps and Programs: These initiatives aim to educate individuals, especially in rural areas, about the benefits of formal financial services and how to effectively use them.
    • Empowering Women and Marginalized Communities: Jan Dhan Yojana for Women: Special focus has been given to ensure women’s participation in financial inclusion, recognizing their critical role in economic development.

 

Conclusion

Addressing these barriers requires a multi-faceted approach involving government policies, private sector initiatives, and civil society engagement. Efforts to improve infrastructure, enhance education and healthcare access, promote financial literacy, and address social and gender disparities are critical for fostering inclusive economic participation in India.

 

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

5. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a relatively new concept with potential benefits and challenges. Form a critical analysis of its performance and give suggestions for its improvement. (250 words)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Reference: Live Mint

Why the question:

The article discusses the potential for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to introduce an electronic rupee (e-rupee) and suggests that the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) could play a crucial role in this initiative.

Key Demand of the question:

To critically analyse the performance of CBDC and suggest measures to improve it.

Directive word: 

Critically analyze – 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. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a balanced judgment on the topic.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Start by explaining the concept central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Body:

In the first part, write about the benefits of CBDC. financial inclusion, the cashless society, decrease the cost of printing, expanding the digital economy and empowering citizens etc. Cite examples/statistics to substantiate.

Next, write about challenges with regards to CBDC. User adoption, security, complexity, domination by Chinese and Opportunity cost due to RBI’s reluctance etc.

Conclusion:

Conclude with a way forward.

Introduction

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), or national digital currency, is simply the digital form of a country’s fiat currency. Instead of printing paper currency or minting coins, the central bank issues electronic tokens. This token value is backed by the full faith and credit of the government.

Global interest in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is on the rise, with 80% of all central banks investigating their issuance and half having progressed past research to running pilots.

Body

Background

  • The Reserve Bank of Indiais likely to soon kick off pilot projects to assess the viability of using digital currency to make wholesale and retail payments to help calibrate its strategy for introducing a full-scale central bank digital currency (CBDC).
  • Union Finance Minister in the budget speech said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will launch a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2022-23, marking the first official statement from the Union government on the launch of much-awaited digital currency.

Need for a CBDC:

  • The growth of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum etc has raised challenges to fiat currencies.
  • Along with their other vulnerabilities made the central bank of each country explore the possibility of introducing their own digital currencies.
  • 2021 BIS survey of central banks, which found that 86% were actively researching the potential for such currencies, 60% were experimenting with the technology, and 14% were deploying pilot projects.
  • The need for inter-bank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another.

Challenges posed:

  • India is already facing many cyber security threats. With the advent of digital currency, cyberattacks might increase and threaten digital theft like Mt Gox bankruptcy case.
  • According to the Digital Empowerment Foundation in 2018 report, around 90% of India’s population is digitally illiterate. So, without creating enough literary awareness introduction of digital currency will create a host of new challenges to the Indian economy.
  • Introduction of digital currency also creates various associated challenges in regulation, tracking investment and purchase, taxing individuals, etc.
  • The digital currency must collect certain basic information of an individual so that the person can prove that he’s the holder of that digital currency. This basic information can be sensitive ones such as the person’s identity, fingerprints etc.

Conclusion:

There are crucial decisions to be made about the design of the currency with regards to how it will be issued, the degree of anonymity it will have, the kind of technology that is to be used, and so on. There is no doubt that the introduction of National Digital currency prevents the various threats associated with the private-owned cryptocurrencies and take India the next step as a digital economy. But the government has to create necessary safeguards before rolling out. India needs to move forward on introducing an official digital currency.

Value addition

Global situation of CBDC

According to the Bank for International Settlements, more than 60 countries are currently experimenting with the CBDC. There are few Countries that already rolled out their national digital currency. Such as,

  • Swedenis conducting real-world trials of their digital currency (krona)
  • The Bahamasalready issued their digital currency “Sand Dollar” to all citizens
  • Chinastarted a trial run of their digital currencye- RMB amid pandemic. They plan to implement pan-China in 2022. This is the first national digital currency operated by a major economy.

 

 


General Studies – 4


 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

6. What does this quote means to you? (150 words)

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.” ― Swami Vivekananda

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Quotes Wednesdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by explaining the literal meaning of the quote and highlighting its core meaning about selflessness.

Body:

Write about how true happiness and success can come from being selfless – lack of greed, being compassionate, less expectations, less focus on material aspects. Cite examples to substantiate your points.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of the quote in the present day.

Introduction

This quote emphasizes the idea that true success and happiness come from selflessness and a genuine desire to give without expecting anything in return. It suggests that the most successful and fulfilled individuals are those who act out of pure altruism and a genuine concern for others.

Body

Those who give without expecting anything in return, who act out of a sincere desire to benefit others, are the ones who truly prosper. This perspective challenges the conventional notion of success as purely material or individualistic attainment. Instead, it invites us to consider success in terms of the positive impact we have on the lives of others and the broader community. It suggests that the most successful individuals are those who lead with compassion, empathy, and a genuine concern for the well-being of others. In embracing this mindset, we unlock the potential for a deeper, more enduring form of fulfillment that transcends personal gain and leaves a positive mark on the world.

Insights from the quote

  • Selflessness and Altruism: The quote highlights the importance of selflessness, where one’s actions are motivated by a desire to benefit others, rather than seeking personal gain or recognition.
  • Intrinsic Fulfillment: True success and happiness are not necessarily tied to external rewards or material wealth. Instead, they are found in the inner satisfaction that comes from knowing one has made a positive impact on others.
  • Lack of Expectations: The truly successful person doesn’t perform acts of kindness or generosity with the expectation of receiving something in return. Their actions are motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of others.
  • Authenticity and Sincerity: The quote suggests that genuine, heartfelt actions have a deeper and more meaningful impact than actions that are motivated by self-interest or a desire for personal gain.
  • Paradox of Success: It introduces a paradoxical concept of success – that by not actively seeking success in a conventional sense, one can actually attain a higher level of true success and happiness.
  • Empathy and Compassion: The sentiment expressed in the quote aligns with the values of empathy and compassion, as it implies a deep understanding and care for the needs and feelings of others.
  • Long-lasting Impact: Acts of unselfishness and selflessness can have a lasting impact on individuals and communities, creating a ripple effect of positivity and goodwill.

One notable example is Gandhi’s leadership during the Salt March, also known as the Dandi March, which took place in 1930.

Gandhi’s motivation was rooted in a desire to address a pressing issue that affected the common people, particularly the poorest, who were heavily burdened by the salt tax. He did not seek personal gain or recognition from this act; rather, he aimed to advocate for the welfare of the Indian masses.

Throughout the Salt March, Gandhi and his followers faced significant hardships. They walked over 240 miles, enduring extreme weather conditions and fatigue. Along the way, they engaged with local communities, spreading the message of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Gandhi’s unselfish commitment to the cause of Indian independence and his dedication to the welfare of the people were evident in actions like the Salt March. He asked for no personal return; instead, his focus was on the greater good and the well-being of the Indian population.

This example illustrates how Gandhi’s selflessness and genuine concern for the plight of his fellow countrymen were integral to his success as a leader and to the broader success of the Indian independence movement. His actions continue to inspire people around the world to this day.

 

Conclusion

Overall, this quote suggests that true success and happiness are rooted in a selfless, giving nature. It encourages us to focus on the well-being of others and to act with sincerity and genuine concern, rather than being solely driven by personal gain. In doing so, we may find a deeper, more enduring form of success and fulfillment.

 

Topic: Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators;

7. What does this quote means to you? (150 words)

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates

Difficulty level: Easy

Why the question:

The question is part of the static syllabus of General studies paper – 4 and part of ‘Quotes Wednesdays’ in Mission-2024 Secure.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction: 

Begin by explaining the literal meaning of the quote and highlighting importance of education.

Body:

Write about how education is not just about filling the vessel – that is – imparting academic or vocational knowledge but rather developing a inquisitive mind and all round development.. Cite examples to substantiate your points.

Conclusion:

Summarise by highlighting the importance of the quote in the present day.

Introduction

The purpose of education is not to add anything from outside or to dispense degrees that enable a student to earn a living. Besides these external outcomes, the purpose of education is to instil the spirits of humanity and virtues to young mind so that they can grow up to become not just responsible citizen of the world but also leading lights that illuminates the humanity around them.

Education should not be restricted just to dispense the curriculum in a mechanical fashion but must ignite minds.

Body

Education – Filling of a vessel?

  • Modern education is considered very effective if it succeeds in providing the students a degree which fetches them a good job. It has become very much materialistic.
  • Learning is imparted like in industry on an automated assembly line. The whole idea is to produce students who are armed with a degree and get the best highest paying jobs among other similar institutions.
  • The success of several institutions is judged by their placement records. However, the flip side of such system of pedagogy is like pouring water into a pail, filling student’s brain with information, not knowledge. It is like putting in contents into a memory card. This ultimately leads to students losing interest in their studies and making efforts only to gain good marks in the examinations.
  • Often the over-emphasis on the grading system leads to erosion of values among the students. The relative grading system makes students fierce competitors among themselves instead of becoming willing associates cooperating with each other to gain knowledge.
  • At the extremes, it leads to burn-outs in students and some in the premier institutes even commit suicides not being able to cope up with a system devoid of spirits of human values.

Education – kindling of flame

  • Traditional methods of learning have its roots in the earliest endeavours of gaining knowledge and skills for the benefit of the society as a whole. The same philosophy worked in the ancient Indian Gurukul system.
  • Here a student spends considerable part of his life and not just learning but experiencing and contributing to the society around himself. It imparted the beliefs and values that would help in maintaining the system we live in while taking it forward.
  • The education system represented by the teachers must be able to light a fire in the student that should continue lifelong. The love for learning is not just an academic process but a way of life.
  • While filling the bucket is a quantitative aspect, lighting a fire is qualitative in nature. The former has a limit and finite end, the latter has no limits or boundaries just like knowledge.
  • Therefore, an education which lights a fire is much more profound and powerful.

System of Education at the Crossroads

  • The millennial generation and those coming later will be facing the dilemma. With the introduction of vocational studies at every level and the old preference for technological education, there has been no doubt, a giant leap in the field of education as it is practiced today.
  • However, the danger is that, in this process many other thoughts of education such as liberal and alternative education may bear the brunt. The same applies to the study of humanities and certain subjects like the languages and Philosophy may not have any takers.
  • The purpose of education is also to give voice to emotional aspects of life and development of a sensitive personality. The requirement is an all-round development of an individual. Not just mental but also development and growth of spiritual thoughts as well.
  • These developments if not taken up along with the rational development will make for a generation of humanoids who are devoid of any emotional feelings.
  • In fact, many apprehend that this is exactly what is happening as insensitiveness in the world is increasing while the world itself is becoming a global village.

Conclusion

A world without compassion, gratitude and selfless caring of others, will never serve the purpose of any education.


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