SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A March 04, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Division of Korea
Product of Cold war politics between USA and USSR after the end of World war II (Effectively an Ideological war between Capitalism promoted by USA and communism promoted by USSR)
Korea was liberated by Allied forces from Japan (occupied since 1910), with the defeat of Japan after WW II. Later, US and USSR agreed to temporarily occupy the country , Country was divided along 38th parallel, with Communist USSR administering the northern part and Capitalist USA the South of the parallel. Both countries wanted to increase the sphere of influence, ended up in Korean War – Cemented the division.
Causes of Animosity
- In Korean War 1950, North Korea invaded the South, US and allies helped S.Korea to retaliate, later, USA imposed economic sanctions against North Korea under the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) that continued until 2008.
- US is accused of war atrocities, violation of rules of war, massive bombings that wiped out more than 10% of N.Korean civilian population
- Korea wants to united Korea and rule as Communist regime. US-South Korean alliance made the reunification virtually impossible
- North Korean low standard of living is blamed on USA for its economic sanctions against that Country
- Ideological conflict – between Capitalism of US, Communism of N.Korea
- North Korean alleged acquisition of Nuclear weapons and testing of ICBM (motive to use against USA) — Sanctions sponsored by USA against this move all adds to animosity
- North Korean Close alliance with China and Russia
- Threats of N.Korea to attack US mainland with Nuclear weapons, frequent testing of ICBM capable of carrying nuclear warhead – Instigating USA
Present undemocratic, dictatorial regime of North Korea is threat to global security
- Allegedly possess Nuclear weapon with ICBM and missiles – WMD in the hands of irresponsible, unaccountable and dictatorial regime – More chances of misuse
South Korea and Japan insecure – Arms race in Japan and South Korea and chances of instigating war is more with impulsive yet unaccountable North Korea
- Regime not accountable to People – Low standard of living and social indicators, starvation – If there is any rebellion, the regime could resort to war to divert the inherent issues
- To raise capital, may sell missiles and nuclear warhead to terrorist organizations like ISIS, Al-Quaeda etc., This is greatest threat to global security.
- Young impulsive dictatorial leader, Kim Jong Un may resort war with South Korea, later domino effect pulling major power into conflict – Regional instability
General Studies – 2
Topic: Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
2) It is argued that the source for sustainable long-term growth in any country is the strength of its institutions. Are strong democratic institutions necessary for economic growth and development? Critically discuss their role. (200 Words)
Strong Democratic institutions
Not Just Democratic institutions, but, strong democratic institutions which reflects the popular interest are necessary,
India is diverse multi ethnic, multi religious country – Every voice need to be heard – Consensus need to be formed before every major decision to prevent alienation and secessionist tendencies – Strong democratic institutions are the best option
- It eliminates institutional anomalies which goes against the interest of public like Kleptocracy, Nepotism, Criminal- Bureaucratic nexus, Bureaucrat – Businessmen nexus
- Strong institutions results in the following,
- Accountability (Timely free and fair elections, hence periodical accountability),
- Transparency (Effort to establish legitimacy in the minds of people)
- Strong democratic institutions, which promotes popular interest
- Social audit at Panchayat level – Prevention of Corruption at gross root level, accountability promotes ease of doing business
- Public grievance redressal
- Participation of citizens in policy formulation and decision making, decision in the interest of the masses
These issues along with,
Rule of Law, Independent judiciary (Stability in Law of the land) – But, Judicial activism is unwarranted and delays the process and complicates the decision making
Independent Media (Counterweight against Kleptocracy, Nepotism, Collusion) – Sometimes, due to media trail, breaking news mania, contents to boost TRP results in glorification of trivial issues – long term, it is counter productive
vibrant civil society coupled with established institutions like, CAG, NHRC, CVC, UPSC, Competition commission of India etc., provides stability in policy formulation, stability in taxation, promotes competition and healthy economic market development which are essential for long term sustainable economic growth and development.
Which facilitates, Stable polity, rule of law, stable environment for long term planning(capital, resources, market, manpower) which is preeminent for the long term planning and development of Industry
China, being a communist country without strong democratic institutions, succeeded in lifting millions out of poverty due to quick, rational and responsive decision making with long term planning.
Even certain decisions which are unpopular but, essential for long term development may be easily pushed in governance model like communism regime (eg. Land acquisition for Industrial corridors, displacement for river linking projects, Population control measures), but, very difficult in democratic country like India due to protests, petitions, need for consensus from diverse interest groups which naturally is a hurdle for quick and responsive decisions.
No quick decision making, Organized chaos (Different viewpoint some times irrational may be included)
But, with Strong democratic institutions, opportunities for growth and development outweighs the risks — Perfect model for multicultural country like India to balance the interests.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
3) Discuss the salient features of the Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016. Examine why making it a Money Bill is dubbed as unnecessary and unfortunate. (200 Words)
The salient features of the Bill are:
- The Bill seeks to give statutory backing to the processes of enrolment, authentication and use of data for delivery of various benefits, subsidies and services by the government.
- Made essential for social security benefits
- Information will be stored in a centralized database of biometrics, the Central Identities Data Repository.
- Protection of personal data – Provision for guaranteed safeguarding of information provided to UIDAI
- Privacy of the individual – Upholded – Data access is restricted to higher officials – Data sharing made according to rules. Only official of the ranks of Joint secretary has the power to disclose the information
- Onus of responsibility on UIDAI – to check and protect the biometric data
- An oversight committee consisting of the cabinet secretary and others will overview the decision of the information disclosure.
- Effective public service delivery – Transparent, honest service delivery with direct interface
- Funding – from consolidated fund of India
Making it a money bill – Unnecessary and unfortunate, because
As part of the money Bill, need no approval of the Rajya Sabha, Bypasses the Rajya Sabha (Govt. is in Minority) to make way for passing the legislation in the loksabha
Defeat the very purpose of Parliament = Forum for deliberation of issues of national importance – Suppresses the voice of opposition – escape from legislative accountability (Rajya Sabha) – Undermine the role of Rajya sabha
Legislation without consensus (with opposition parties) may prove hurdle during the implementation of the scheme
May set a bad precedent for the future governments to push their agenda with least regard to opposition views (juvenile justice and workman injury compensation bills passed during 1980s as Money bills)
General Studies – 3
Topic: Government budgeting; Conservation; Environmental pollution
4) “Making a country’s budget green is not about how much money is allotted to tiger or forest protection. It is about integrating it into every aspect of your economy and ensuring there is no wasteful use of natural resources.” In the light of the statement, evaluate how green is the recent union budget. (200 Words)
Greenness of Recent Budget,
- 150 crore allotted to national afforestation program
(But, 150 crore is not sufficient to carry out Afforestation programme to desired extent)
- Efforts to meet the target of 175 GW energy from renewable sources by 2022
(But, funding reduced for Renewable energy projects and MoEF)
- Increasing carbon cess on Coal by 200 rupees per tonne to 400 rupees.
(Effort must be made to replace coal with renewable source, not increased imposition of cess)
- Promote organic farming through ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’
(Carbon sequestration, Sustainable agriculture, Reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, Protection of biodiversity, Reduced dependence on Fertilizers, pesticides – Prevents Eutrophication, nitrate pollution of water sources, biomagnifications etc.)
5. Facility of cooking gas connection for BPL families
(Indoor air pollution checked, use of firewood eliminated)
6. Programme for sustainable management of ground water resources
5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for production of organic manure will be taken up under MGNREGA
(Resource recycling, Compost – Carbon sequestration, Farm pond – Water use efficiency, Ground water conservation)
7. Soil Health Card scheme will cover all 14 crore farm holdings by March2017.
(Prevention of soil pollution, Reduced fertilizer consumption)
8. Green Highways to grow avenue trees along National Highways
But, the budget failed to look into deeper following issues related to green economy
No funds for biodiversity protection: forests,lakes,ponds,wetlands and other biological diversity.
2.No efforts to reduce carbon footprints: Efforts to shift to a low carbon economy are non existent. A low carbon footprint ensures a healthier economy.
Wildlife habitats:No measures to set up national parks and WLS
No dedicated funds:A separate Green Protection Fund should be set up for environmental protection.
R&D:Increase in funds for R&D in environment are lacking. R&D would have led to better Waste Disposal methods, reducing air pollution, increased efficiency of renewable sources of energy
No polluter pays principle – A tax on pollution by industries,cars,etc could have been imposed to foster a greener country.
Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
5) According to World Bank/OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) data on research expenditure, India ranks 8 in the world, spending under one per cent of its gross domestic product on research. Discuss why India needs to spend more on research and why synergy between academia-industry should be improved. (200 Words)
Expenditure on Research is one of the important components for any country’s development.But with respect to India budget spending on research has been stagnant at 0.9% of GDP for the last 10 years which is reiterated by recent OECD data.Stifling bureaucracy,poor quality education at universities,lacking interest of students to pursue research shows the dismal state where India has only 2 lakh researchers out of 1.2 billion population
So there is an urgent need to prioritize research spending because of the following:-
1.Agriculture and food security:
- Appalling state of the farmer’s suicides ,India’s excessive dependency on monsoon increases the need as the involvement of academia can increase the crop productivity,suggest drought resistant crops,groundwater improvement,new ideas like precision farming etc.
- To address the issues of climate change and global warming,suggest measures to have a pollution free environment,using cleaner fuels and renewable energy etc.
- Space research is one of the important components which brings huge benefits to the common man with the remote sensing and communication satellite applications.
- To avoid dependency on patent technology as indigenously developed patents number is at 17 for India when South Korea filed over 4400 patents per one million population for the year 2013.
- to improve the standard of living by making new inventions with respect to mobiles,phones etc.
- To give great insights in reduction of poverty,regional imbalances in such a diversified country,improvement in HDI,drinking water conservation and affordable housing.
- To solve health related issues without depending on other countries,to develop cheaper affordable and quality medicines.
- As India is moving towards Indigenisation,research in labs and companies can provide them a chance to become suppliers of parts and equipment .
- to create own technological and production capacity in conventional arms and in cyber -biology derived offensive and defensive capacity.
6.To avoid Brain Drain:
- Research is needed to avoid talent going abroad.Indian origin scientists all over the world have been Nobel laureates,elevated to top positions in scientist community for example recently Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has been elevated to the president of the royal society.
Reasons for synergy between academia and insustry to be improved are:–
1.companies and industry will ensure availability of funds for academia as paucity of funds has been the main problem to undertake the research.
- The industry and the established education players will have to pitch in as higher education is not in the best shape.Students get industry exposure because of the academical iniatives of internships which prepare them for future challenges
- academia industry linkage would help inculcate research, experimentation and innovation as an integral part of curriculum
3.Reduce the pressure on Government
- relieve pressure from Skill India mission by reducing need to learn skills seperately
- start up india:would create a pool of innovative entrepreneurs thereby enabling Job-Seekers into Job-creator
- to create employment by using the huge demographic dividend for the make in india initiative
4.lessons for international institutions:In the western countries premium educational institutions are actively involved in research funded by the governmental departments.Ex:harvard,MIT
- Academia brings strong insight into the fundamental mechanisms of disease along with the expertise in patient care and clinical practice.Pharma industry possesses the knowledge and tools to translate basic research discoveries into practicality.
- Recently google is helping UNICEF with controlling of ZIKA virus to analyse data from sources such as weather and travel patterns and predict potential outbreaks.This helps NGO’s to decide how and where to focus their time and resources.
6.Handling Rural Issues and Reforms:
- Keeping in view the problem in integrating many different rural development and related programmes at various levels, there is an urgent requirement for constitutional amendments and reformation of administrative executions. A three-in-one programme involving academia-industry-government should be launched for identification, management, and eradication of local rural problems like drought, flood, earthquake or any other natural calamities causing damage to human welfare and our national property. The first step of this programme is the identification of local rural problems by the local universities and state govt. followed by industry invitation for technical support in commercial arena
7.For industry’s benefit:
- industry is keen to work with academia for its own benefit as the quality of manpower in industry cannot be improved without focusing to quality in academia. CII has taken several steps in this direction including increasing the number of Ph.D. fellowships from one hundred to one thousand and funding of global innovation alliance.
- Reduce the cost for industries to invest in research separately.
- private companies can build upon successfully on public funded research .ex:technologies behind i phone like GPS and others were funded by the government.
8.To increase patents:When it comes to patents in India, collaboration between industry and academia is still at a nascent stage as only 0.4% of the patents are a result of such partnership
9.To prevent and be ready for future emergencies and to increase awareness among the common man .
Suggestions to improve research in India:
- Many initiative has been launched towards this end like IMPRINT India,INSPIRE and these need to be complemented through increased budgetary allocation. Government has already set up AIM and SETU to spur the research environment in country .Similarly Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan provides funding for componemt research ,innovation and quality.this has to be effectively implemented.
2.Adopting global best practices:
- global best practice in collaboration, such as the UK’s catapult initiative – a network of world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in seven specific areas and help drive future economic growth and similarly adopting the very successful small business technology transfer program from the US, which encourages small businesses to engage in research that has commercial potential.
- government’s promise to increase support to research and development to 2% of GDP has to be done.Incentives by government like salaries,grants,access to libraries for researchers has to increase.
4.New areas of Research:
- Blue skies research”research without a clear goal”is almost absent in India unlike the west.unanticipated scientific breakthroughs are sometimes more valuable than the outcomes of agenda-driven research, heralding advances in geneticsand stem cell biology as examples of unforeseen benefits of research.this scientific research need to be encouraged in India.
- there is skewed manpower in scientific organisations in India as is seen in the average age of scientists of DRDO – 40 years which is not a healthy structure.so new quality researchers are to be prepared for technological advancements of tomorrow.
Topic: Investment models
6) Despite developing a strong framework for the approval of PPP projects at the central government-level with appropriate oversight, various challenges have arisen along with the acceleration in the pace of the roll-out of PPPs in India. Which are these challenges? What measures has government taken to address these challenges? Discuss. (200 Words)
The use of PPP an as instrument of procurement for creation of infrastructure assets and delivery of public services has been recognized globally. Apart from bridging the deficit in financing of public projects, PPPs also brings new and cost effective technology for creation of infrastructure assets, managerial efficiency, competency for operation and maintenance of the created assets and the contractual accountability on the private party to ensure timely and quality infrastructure service to the end users. PPP is the key component for the private sector which is expected to contribute at least half of the over $1 trillion dollar investment planned in infrastructure in the XII plan (2012-17) .
However recently it has been marred with challenges like:
- Regulatory environment: There is no independent PPP regulator in India currently. In order to attract more domestic and international private funding of infrastructure, a more robust regulatory environment, with an independent regulator, is essential.
- Lack of information: The PPP program lacks a comprehensive database regarding the projects to be awarded under PPP. An online data base, consisting of all the project documents including feasibility reports, concession agreements and status of various clearances and land acquisitions are not available for the bidders.
- Project development: The project development activities such as, detailed feasibility study, land acquisition, environmental/forest clearances etc., are not given adequate importance by the concessioning authorities. The absence of adequate project development by authorities leads to reduced interest by the private sector, mispricing and many times delays at the time of execution.
- Lack of institutional capacity: The limited institutional capacity to undertake large and complex projects at various Central ministries and especially at state and local bodies level, hinder the translation of targets into projects.Many PPP projects are stalled by lack of cooperation between center and states and often find themselves in lawsuits and archaic land acquisition policies
- Financing availability: The private sector is dependent upon commercial banks to raise debt for the PPP projects. With commercial banks reaching the sectoral exposure limits,rising NPA’s and large Indian Infrastructure companies being highly leveraged, funding the PPP projects is getting difficult.
6.Risk Allocation and dependence on private sector:-
- A blockage in the bidding process of some PPP programmes has developed with private sector developers and financiers stating that they will not participate in any project bidding, given the perception that participation has become too risky and because their exposure to projects in implementation that may be in some distress is too high. for example:the risk of collection of revenue in highways lies upon private player because of dependence on traffic.
- Private players ask for ‘viability grant’ from government in case of less collection and government has only two options-either to provide the same or terminate the contract because there is no penalty or investigation in case of failure
- Many private companies enter in to infrastructure projects which are beyond their financial and operational capacity thus resulting into stalled projects
- with slowing down of economy, and unfavorable balance sheets, Private companies are unable to continue their project obligations
- Bidding done by private sector are unrealistically low thus during past five years as economic conditions deteriorated ,the inflation has accelerated thus rendering the contracts meaningless
7.problems with model concession agreement
- renegotiation clause:Model concession agreement which is followed in India does not have any such clause .If a bureaucrat tries to restructure the project,there are risks of being investigated under the prevention of corruption act 1988.So they are highly likely to avoid renegotiation.
- The present MCA ( that sets out terms and condition in a contract) does not allow for changing the terms of concession granted under the contract agreement .This exposes developers to unreasonably high risks and also fail to ensure flexibility in contract as per the prevailing need .
- Delays in environmental clearance along with multiple windows for clearance delays the projects. Land acquisition, forest clearance are not given adequate importance initially which many times lead to serious local protest during implementation of projects
9.Dispute resolution mechanism and right to recourse :
- In case of disputes arising out between parties in projects ,there is hardly any established guideline for dispute resolution or recourse to be taken
- People generally view PPP with caution. Moreover people often do not pay adequate charges and toll which are the only method of revenue generation
Government measures to address these challenges are:
- Following Hybrid Annuity Model under which government provide 40% of project cost along with land clearance, After completion of project by private sector the government itself will collect the toll and allocate it to private player annually over 10-20 years
- Appointing Vijay Kelkar Committee for PPP which advised for amending Prevention of corruption act 1988, against adoption of PPP in case of small projects and framing a National Policy on PPP.
- Amendment to MCA : guidelines for renegotiation of PPP concession agreements will be issued, keeping in view the long-term nature of such contracts and potential uncertainties arising in future as contracts proceed.
- Government mooted for new Credit Rating System of infrastructure projects so that rather than on misplaced perceptions regarding the risks the of the mispriced loans can be minimised with real rating
- Government has come up with 2 web portals ‘infracon’ and ‘e-pace’ to provide all necessary details regarding highway projects. This will boost transparency and efficiency.
- 100% FDI through FIPB route in food processing and manufacture
- Setting up of National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) for funding infrastructure projects.
- Setting up of Indian Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL) for long term funding of projects.
- Viability Gap Funding(VGF) by the government.
Suggestions to improve ppp in india:
- Amendment to PCA( Prevention of Corruption Act 1988) to allow bureaucrats to restructure public projects.A distinction must be laid down for bureaucrats between act of corruption /carelessness and bad decisions /genuine errors in decision making
- Public Utility (Resolution of Disputes) Bill has be introduced this year to fast -rack the resolution of disputes in infrastructure-related construction contracts, PPP and public utility contracts.
Therefore with modification in its strategy India can reap the benefits of PPP as they are very essential for the country to move forward.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance;;
7) “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Discuss the significance of this statement to present day India. (150 Words)
States are too powerful even in democratic set-ups. Even though governments are of the people, by the people and for the people; there are instances when people become victims of state policies or inability of state to provide times justice , or to prevent crimes against its own people. Citizens, who are largely peaceful, are left with the option of either dissent or protest. Most choose the latter in the hope of getting heard. The right to protest peacefully is a constitutional right.
Being a mute spectator towards injustice is being part of the crime itself. From the time Indians raised their voices for Azaadi and Inquilaabs against the injustice of the foreign rule, protests have been taking place against the problems like human rights violation, in privacy, religious intolerance, corruption, discrimination based on gender, caste, class, skin colour and place of birth etc.
However there are many cases where one might feel powerless to prevent injustice for instance in some patriarchial families women who are just subjected to many derogatory social customs are powerless to defend themselves.So protest gives an arena for these women to fight injustice and put their grievances in the wider platform for example recently the Shani Shingnapur protest, pink Chaddi campaign put the gender discrimination issue on the front page.
Similarly the feeling of powerlessness can have its origin in ones inability to gather evidences against the injustice. For example,when one sees rampant cases of bribe demands from officials in a government office . They feel powerless because they don’t have the evidence to prove it but the solution to these people agony comes in the form of protests like anti corruption movement like India against corruption.
Social and developmental issues are put forward by the protests itself as the people who actually suffer because of the systematic apathy shown by the state to suffering of people. For example, Narmada Bachao Andolan against huge displacement of people in the Narmada basin, Caste and Dalit movements, section 377 for LGBT communities.
Sometimes, governments try to impose their ideology and interfere in education system to cleanse it from ideologues who are opposed to its ideology. It’s right of students and intelligentsia to protest against such interference and restore autonomy and rights of educational institutions. This is largely evident in ongoing events in India.
Judiciary has played a major role in considering some protests genuine concern for public as is shown in the case of Right to information,public interest litigations etc. But sometimes protests that turn violent, lead to destruction of public property like Kaapu garjana in Andhra pradesh do not uphold the justice. These should be condemned.
Thus, protest is a means to restore order that’s just and equitable. It’s an inherent right of a citizen to protest against any violation of his rights. Common man is not equipped to prevent injustice, it’s right he/she has vested with the government; all he/she can do is to let government know through peaceful protests.