SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 FEBRUARY 2018

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SECURE SYNOPSIS: 07 FEBRUARY 2018


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


General Studies – 1


 

Topic:   Urbanisation – problems and remedies

1) Efficient management of urban solid waste has positive implications for global warming. Examine. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Background :-

  • Activities involved in the management of solid waste generate (GHGs) carbon dioxide, methane, and small amounts of nitrous oxide.GHG emissions from solid waste disposal by India increased at the rate of 3.1per cent per annum between 2000 and 2010.

How effective management of urban solid waste has positive implications for global warming:-

  • Benefits of composting:-
    • If biodegradable waste is processed locally through aerobic decomposition with the help of microbes or earthworms (vermin composting) to produce compost or organic fertiliser then the volume of waste sent to the landfill sites can be reduced .
    • Compost helps store carbon back in the soil. Its usage reduces the need for chemical fertilisers which emit large quantities of nitrous oxide and thereby helps mitigate emissions. Compost also improves moisture retention in the soil.
  • Biomethanation generates biogas which is a substitute for fossil fuel and produces slurry which is an excellent organic fertiliser, both helping to mitigate global warming. Local processing also means that biomethanation saves on transportation.
  • Recycling of waste also helps reduce GHG emissions because the energy required to manufacture a product using fresh materials is higher than when using recycled materials. While
  • The non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste other than hazardous waste (batteries, CFLs, etc), can be converted into Refuse Derived Fuel for use in high-temperature furnaces, for example, in cement kilns and power plants.
  • Technologies are also available for controlled incineration and/or gasification for energy recovery from this waste. These are commonly referred to as “waste-to-energy” plants

Solid waste issue at present and challenges that remain :-

  • Biodegradable waste is mixed with other waste at the point where waste is generated. This increases the volume that has to be transported as the waste is hauled all the way to the landfill sites. The increased fuel usage in transportation results in more emissions.
  • Issues with composting:-
    • Mitigation through composting is failing because at most only two per cent of the municipal solid waste in India is composted.
    • The Supreme Court order of 2006 directed fertiliser companies to co-market city compost with chemical fertilisers.
    • However, the government incentive of market development assistance for city compost is very uncompetitive vis-a-vis chemical fertilisers.
  • Very few Indian cities are trying biomethanation because segregation at source and feeding biodegradable waste to the plants in time remain a major challenge.
  • Lack of segregation comes in the way of realising the full potential of recycling. Only 27 per cent of paper in India is recycled.
  • Incineration of mixed waste in the absence of auxiliary fuel can release dioxins and furans which are severe air pollutants. This has to be countered by installing appropriate filters in these plants.

Way ahead:-

  • The Solid Waste Management Rules (2016) have laid down clear guidelines on permissible emission norms. There is a need for real-time monitoring and open access to emissions data to ensure enforcement of the norms.
  • There are lessons to be learnt from other countries:-
    • GHG emissions from solid waste have been declining in Germany and Japan.
    • A ban on land filling of non-pre-treated waste in Germany has led to 47 per cent of the waste being recycled
    • The regulations in both countries ensure that incinerators have state-of-the-art emission control technologies, and the directly landfilled municipal solid waste is as low as one per cent.

Conclusion:-

  • India needs to get its act together to improve its municipal solid waste management with the triple objective of resource recovery, improving public health conditions and mitigating the risks associated with human-induced global warming

General Studies – 2


Topic:   India and its neighborhood- relations

2) The unfolding crisis in Maldives draws attention to the perennial question about whether and when India should intervene in the internal politics of its neighbouring countries. Should India directly intervene and try to solve the Maldives crisis? Critically comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

The Indian Express

 

Background:-

  • Maldives is in the midst of a deep political crisis. President Abdulla Yameen has declared a state of emergency just days after the Supreme Court of Maldives has ordered for the release of political prisoners

India should intervene

  • Earlier instances:-
    • India has often intervened in the internal affairs of other countries for instance the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, the intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war in the late 1980s etc.
  • Doing something would involve political mediation between the government and Opposition, the use of diplomacy and ultimately restore order in Maldives. Such an intervention is likely to get considerable international support
  • The current President of Maldives role:-
    • Ever since he took power in 2013, India-Maldives relations have deteriorated.
    • He went close to China and handed out big infrastructure projects to Chinese companies and also let Chinese naval ships to dock in Male.
    • His relations with Saudi Arabia and the growing trend of radicalization in Maldives have also been areas of concern in India which compel it to intervene.
  • India cannot be a global power if it does not intervene in major crises. The current crisis in the Maldives is an opportunity for India and any global role is always dependent on a country’s performance in the neighborhood first.
  • India’s first priority is to ensure the safety of Indian tourists and workers in Maldives. An Indian intervention can ensure that.

No intervention:-

  • A military intervention today could leave Indian troops in the Maldivian crisis for a long time.
  • It could also prove counterproductive to India’s long-term interests for instance It would push Maldives even closer to the Chinese
  • India’s foreign policy follows no intervention in the internal affairs of other sovereign countries.
  • It would boost perception of India as a big brother and a bully in the region.
  • An Indian military intervention is unlikely to benefit democratic forces in the Maldives in the long run .Even if a democratic government is formed due to Indian intervention such a government would lack legitimacy in Maldivian people.
  • Intervention by India could consolidate public opinion behind the present Maldivian president and ramp up nationalist fervour, giving his actions greater acceptability. 
  • India should also think deeply about the instruments it can use to ensure a favourable outcome in Maldives. The use of a instrument like the economic blockade in Nepal in 2015-16  will not help.

What should be done?

  • India may also take the dispute to and lobby the UN Security Council to bring international attention to the issue.
  • If things go very awry imposition of sanctions can also be done.

Topic:   e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential;

3) The success of digital India and ease of doing business in India starts with ease of using government portals. Comment. (150 Words)

Livemint

 

Background:-

  • E-governance and design of government portals affects how much people trust the government.
  • If a government cannot implement reasonably high-quality digital governance systems especially the portals through which government actions are visible to the public, affects both basic governance quality and citizens and businesses trust in the government’s ability to govern effectively.

Concerns:-

  • The recently launched GST portal has issues for ease of doing business like
    • having to make a payment by manually calculating tax liability before being able to file returns
    • Inability to add or modify uploaded invoices in the offline tool.
  • Failure of government portals leads to the goal of digital India failing as it is one way approach and people are still largely not included especially in rural areas who feel its better to go to office directly than use portals.
  • The expertise to maintain government portals is very less.
  • There is no specific email service for official purpose within the government
  • The problem will only get worse with the push for digitization.
  • When portals don’t make it easy to access information, it is the equivalent of denying the promised services or transparency. This doesn’t just cost citizens. It costs governments as well. 
  • Most of the websites are not GIGW(Guidelines for Indian Government websites, 2009 by NIC) compliant. In 2016, the Standardization Testing and Quality Certification Directorate (STQCD) audited 957 government websites and found that only 31 were fully compliant.
  • In private companies user complaints are taken as valuable feedback for improvement. Government departments have no such compulsion so there is no scope for improvement
  • There is lack of GIGW compliance is based on departmental self-assessment
  • Poor internet access and speeds, lack of literacy, a large number of languages, low awareness, high user use are also issues which hamper the effective service delivery of e-services in India.

Measures needed to improve:-

  • Websites and portals should be more compliable to standardisation. Also local language portals can be established to cater to the needs of diverse Indian population.
  • External audits by NIC and increase of physical infrastructure to increase reach of internet services is necessary.
  • There is a need for bridging the digital gap in rural areas .
  • International examples:-
    • The US government created 18F a fast-moving government agency for digital services .It’s now a 200-person team of engineers, designers, and product managers that serves as the US government’s captive software start-up.
    • The UK government also constituted something similar called the Government Digital Service, a 300-person team that tackles tech projects.
    • An IDS or Indian Digital Service might be the answer.

Topic:  Functioning of the judiciary

4) The new roster for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court, with division of work among the judges according to various subject categories, is a move towards greater objectivity or fairness. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

Background:-

  • This new roster comes in the light of the press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court expressing dissatisfaction at the manner of allocation of cases and the high-handedness of the Chief Justice of India in asserting his supremacy as master of roster to the exclusion of the senior judges of the court

New roster:-

  • Under the new system cases will be allocated based on the subject matter they entail, according to a posting on the official website of the Supreme Court.
  • Under the new roster system, the CJI will hear all special leave petitions (SLPs), and matters related to public interest, social justice, elections, arbitration, and criminal matters, among others. These form a big chunk of the important matters heard by the apex court.
  • Other judges will hear matters related to labour disputes, taxation matters, compensation matters, consumer protection matters etc.

Benefits of the move:-

  • This is the first time in the Supreme Court’s history that a roster for Supreme Court judges has been made public.
  • Making public the roster will make the whole system of allocation of cases transparent and will eliminate a lot of guesswork.

Concerns:-

  • It has given impetus to more speculation and has become a stronger ground for criticism of the prevailing practice at the Supreme Court.
  • The roster aggregates all important cases to the Chief Justice of India .Mundane cases with little political significance have been assigned to the other senior judges.
  • Despite the judges going public with their discontent, there is no change .This will have a long-term bearing on the state of Indian democracy.
  • Many questions arise like whether this roster has been prepared in consultation with senior judges of the Supreme Court or whether  the cases have been allocated according to a particular judge’s expertise in a subject matter or whether the allocation was transparent
  • Experts are concerned that with such move there is concentration of power in the hands of one person and it violates the foundation of Supreme court called as a court of equals and the objective criteria has not been followed.
  • Experts criticised that the allotment of cases in this manner defies all norms of equity and justice and in disregard for principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency.

Way forward:-

  • A just and fair roster must be one that is divided subject-wise among judges according to their experience and expertise in those subjects.
    • Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court. Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human.
    • For other cases as well, if there is more than one judge dealing with a particular subject then cases belonging to that subject should be randomly allocated among the various judges to whom that subject has been allocated.
  • The bedrock of collegiums system is collective decision making. When appointments are a collective function, the allocation of important cases must be done collectively or at least in consultation with senior judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Transparency in the allotment of cases and Supreme court functioning will only yield more authority to the Supreme Court as the supreme custodian of people’s rights.

General Studies – 3


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

5) What is inverted duty structure (IDS)? How has IDS affected manufacturing sector in India? Examine. (250 Words)

The Hindu

 

 

Background:-

  • The globally accepted norm is that customs duty rates on final products are always equal to or higher than the rates on components or raw materials used for the manufacture of the final products. However in India Inverted duty structure is used prominently.

Inverted duty structure:-

  • An IDS means higher duty on intermediate as opposed to final/finished goods.
  • The issue of inverted duty structure arises mainly because:
    • Import duty on finished products is lower than import duty on raw materials
    • Import duty on finished products is lower than duty rates on domestic procurement of raw materials
    • Free trade agreements/regional trade agreements (FTAs/RTAs) with various countries ensure that finished products attract negligible or concessional rates of duty
    • This inversion is not solely because of basic custom duty (BCD) but in some cases a result of other additional duties.

Impact on manufacturing sector:-

  • Such an inverted levy is distortionary and results in tax inefficiencies as the manufacturer builds up unused credits.
  • Natural corollary of an inverted duty structure is that imports of the final products become cheaper, which adversely affects the competitiveness and sustainability of the domestic manufacturing industry.
  • The anomaly created by inverted duty structure affects domestic manufacture in key sectors, in line with the “Make in India” theme.
  • The twin objectives of fostering domestic manufacturing and fostering exports through FTAs which require reciprocal export concessions to be granted to foreign partner countries are however greatly affected by the problem of inverted duty structure
  • Unfortunately, a series of sectors remain adversely impacted by the IDS. Moreover, analysis shows that between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the growth of manufacturing jobs not only first slowed after 2011-12 but also became negative.
  • Chinese/other imports have swamped India’s small- and medium-sized enterprises and large manufacturing companies
  • It has raised the import-intensity of manufacturing as well as dampened job growth by raising capital intensity
  • The share of manufacturing in GDP and employment has not risen since 1991

Benefits:-

  • The inverted duty structure has led to greater competition leading to cheaper products for customers .
  • This also led to innovation to ensure high end at the same time cost effective products giving a diverse choice options for the customers.

Changes are being made:-

  • The goods and services tax (GST), especially the IGST or Integrated GST component, has begun to erode the advantage that the IDS was giving to foreign exporters in Indian markets.
  • Also government took measures which show the beginnings of a reversal of the IDS in electronics.
  • Also in the recent budget manufacturing sectors could get a fillip due to raised customs duties on capital goods and electronics, and silica for use in manufacture of telecom grade optical fibre. These have been among the sectors adversely impacted by the IDS in the past 10 years or so.

Way forward

  • The resolution of the twin balance sheet problems (of companies being over-leveraged and banks unable to lend due to mounting non-performing assets), together with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, should now open the floodgates for new manufacturing investment.
  • It is also advisable and necessary to have greater involvement of all stakeholders while negotiating further RTAs/FTAs/CECAs, so that the interests of all Indian stakeholders are understood and fully protected.

Topic:   Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life 

6) Blockchain is ranked close to the peak of the hype cycle of technologies with inflated expectations and bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies represent the mother of all bubbles. Comment. (250 Words)

Livemint

Background:-

  • Blockchain, the shared database technology that powers cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, has over the past three years developed an almost unchallenged reputation as the next big thing in finance and technology.
  • It is said to have wider applications of making banking sector more secure, can be used in Indian elections to make EVM more effective etc

 

However many concerns have been raised recently :-

  • It lacks the kind of basic common and universal protocols that made the Internet universally accessible (TCP/IP, HTTP, and so forth).
  • Its promise of decentralized transactions with no intermediary authority amounts to an untested
  • Blockchain has existed for almost a decade, and still has mainly only one application:  
  • They are horribly inefficient when compared to traditional, centralized solutions.

Cryptocurrency issues:-

  • Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin do not even fulfil their own stated purpose.
    • As a currency, bitcoin should be a serviceable unit of account, means of payments, and a stable store of value. It is none of those things.
    • No one prices anything in bitcoin and also very few retailers accept it.
    • It is a poor store of value, because its price can fluctuate by 20-30% in a single day.
  • As is typical of a financial bubble, investors are buying cryptocurrencies not to use in transactions, but because they expect them to increase in value.
  • Indeed, if someone actually wanted to use bitcoin, they would have a hard time doing so. It is so energy-intensive to produce, and carries such high transaction costs, that even Bitcoin conferences do not accept it as a valid form of payment.
  • The idea that hundreds of cryptocurrencies could viably operate together not only contradicts the very concept of money.
  • Unless the supply of a currency tracks potential nominal GDP, prices will undergo deflation.
    • That means if a steady-state supply of bitcoin really did gradually replace a fiat currency, the price index of all goods and services would continuously fall.
    • By extension, any nominal debt contract denominated in bitcoin would rise in real value over time, leading to the kind of debt deflation
  • Cryptocurrencies were also linked with wider issues like Black money, money laundering, using them for terrorism finance etc

General Studies – 4


Topic:   Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions;

 

Answer:-

 

Right to life and Right to live with dignity are the fundamental rights provided by the Constitution to every citizens of India. Incidence of increase in custodial deaths (both police custody and judicial custody) in India provides a warning signal to regulate the respective areas.

 

As many as 591 custodial deaths were recorded across India between 2010 and 2015, according to data released by the National Crime Record Bureau. Also in the last 10 months in Uttar Pradesh there have many instances of encounters making experts question it.

 

Police responsibility:-

  • The lack of patience and technical skills drive police to adopt crude methods. Sometimes The proclivity of superior officers and even politicians to shield them prevents action against them. The directives and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and the NHRC on these issues are rarely followed.
  • They forget they are justice delivers for a common man.
  • The statistics shows the misuse of power and the confidence that  they can get away even when they have committed a crime by the authorities and there is lack of sense of responsibility.

Higher level officers:-

  • The responsibility devolves on senior police officers, who need to devise methods to monitor the number of suspects in each police station and the reasons for their detention. Any detention or arrest should be promptly reported to district superintendents, who should, thereafter, ensure that SC and NHRC guidelines are strictly adhered to. 

 

State/central machinery need to ensure that law and order is maintained properly . Authorities need to be reminded that every Human being including prisoners have some basic fundamental rights.Violation of these by the authority which is supposed to protect them is severe blot to  noble constitutional ideas and requires urgent remedies. 

 

Similarly judiciary should ensure the fundamental rights are not violated and justice is delivered.

 

Efforts need to be made to ensure

  • Behavioural change in Police force through training and awareness campaign so that they respect human rights as well
  • Accountability of Police that any such crime must be fast tracked within specified time period through Independent investigation Agency.
  • Improvement of conditions in prison cells can help reduce the traumatic effect on prisoners.
  • It is important that fake encounters and custodial deaths are probed impartially, and if necessary by outside agencies, so that the message goes out to the police that the rule of law can’t be compromised.

 

 The citizens should be made aware of their duties towards a nation and as a society as a whole the individuals,families ,teachers ,government institutions, judiciary everyone should ensure that crime is not committed and misuse of power doesn’t happen when the crimes takes place.