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SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 05, 2016

SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 05, 2016

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This is a new feature. As feedback from our side on your answers is missing, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise our synopsis and compare it with your answers. We intend to post synopsis of Secure questions every next day of posting questions on website. 

You must write answers on your own and compare them with these synopses. If you depend on these synopses blindly, be sure of facing disaster in Mains. Until and unless you practice answer writing on your own, you will not improve in speed, content and writing skills. Keep separate notebooks for all GS papers and write your answers in them regularly. Now and then keep posting your answer on website too (Optional).  Some people have the tendency of copying content from others answers and pasting them in a document for each and every question. This might help in revision, but if you do not write on your own,  you can’t write a good answer in real exam. This is our experience at offline classes. We have seen many students who think they were regularly following Secure, yet fail to clear Mains. So, never give up writing. 

Also never give up reviewing others answers. You should review others answers to know different perspectives put forth by them, especially to opinion based questions. This effort by us should not lead to dependency on these synopses. This effort should be treated as complimentary to your ongoing writing practice and answer reviewing process. 

These synopses will be exhaustive – covering all the points demanded by question. We will not stick to word limit. You need to identify most important points and make sure these points are covered in your answer. Please remember that these are not ‘Model Answers’. These are just pointers for you to add extra points and to stick to demand of the question – which you might have missed while answering. 

As you might be aware of, this exercise requires lots of time and energy (10 Hours), that to do it on daily basis! Your cooperation is needed to sustain this feature.

Please provide your valuable feedback in the comment section to improve and sustain this initiative successfully. 


General Studies – 1;


 

Topic:Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

1) Does ethno-linguistic diversity – which India is famous for – negatively affect economic progress? Analyse. (200 Words)

Livemint

Yes,It hampers economic progress:

  • Heterogeneous and complex societies see the rise of sectional interests that aim to grab public resources to their advantage.Research by economists showed that the provision of public goods tends to be lower in areas with high ethno-linguistic diversity or polarization because it is difficult for people to agree on the provision of public goods that benefit everyone.
  • Historical or cultural conflicts may often prevent different sub-groups in a region or country from collectively demanding state services that cater to all rather than to special interests.
    • For instance Social heterogeneity negatively affects the provision of government services in US cities. Using a measure of heterogeneity, known as ethno-linguistic fractionalization index, they found that districts that are more heterogeneous spend less on education and infrastructure. 
  • Economists argued that the poor economic performance of most of the African countries is due partly to the large number of different ethnic groups living in the same country and partly to the absurd borders drawn by former colonial powers.
  • concluded that ethnic fractionalization is indeed accompanied by low school attainment, financial depth, and infrastructure quality. Furthermore, they showed that ethnic fractionalization leads to higher market distortions, captured by the black market premium.
  • There is bad public sector performance which leads to reduced economic performance
  • Ethnically fractionalized societies may suffer from rent-seeking behavior by different ethnic groups that have difficulties agreeing on public goods such as infrastructure, education, and good government policy. These imply a non-productive use of inputs and may reduce investments in productive sectors and thus inhibit economic growth.
  • Education:
    • public goods like education may bring less satisfaction to everyone in a society when the country is highly ethnically fractionalized because of disagreements between ethnic groups on issues like the language of instruction, the learning content, location, etc. This may lead the society to invest less in human capital.
    • Schools in particular are treated with suspicion because the minorities believe that the public schools will not educate their children as they do children from the ruling ethnic group.
  • Moreover, ethnically fractionalized societies may produce situations of uncoordinated government ministries, each pursuing its own rent-seeking strategy without taking into account the effect of its actions on others. For example, an overvalued official exchange rate and strict exchange rate controls benefit those in power who resell foreign currency on the black market

No:

  • Economists have compiled rich data on government expenditure on education and health for districts in Zambia. They find that there is a positive association between ethnic diversity and public expenditure, underscoring the point that even though diversity negatively affects public goods provision at a national level, the effect may not be same at the state or district level.
  • The response of the polity and of the state to social division determines collective action or the lack of it.
  • Fragmentation may not necessarily lead to worse state performance if political elites are able to forge a common identity that bridges over social fault line Pointing to the contrasting examples of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, both of which have very heterogeneous populations, Kerala managed to have better outcomes as its elites united under the banner of sub-nationalism from the 19th century onwards to demand public goods and greater spending on social welfare.
  • The sensitivity results show that the effects of ethnicity on economic growth may be conditional on the level of ethnicity and the development status of the countries. Fu
  • Diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down.
    • Industrial revolution Europe –
      • distinctive cultural norms and values which favor individual effort, freedom and the spirit of enterprise.
      • what really propelled Europe and the New World’s economic ascendance was their relative openness to other cultures, which they measure in terms of greater or lesser geographical isolation. 
    • The lack of cultural diffusion and its manifestation in cultural homogeneity and rigidity diminished the ability of the societies to adapt to a new technological paradigm, thereby delaying the onset of their industrialization and, thus, their take-off to a state of sustained economic growth.

General Studies – 2


Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.

2) In the light of present geopolitical realities, provide compelling arguments why India should deepen its ties with Afghanistan. (200 Words)

The Hindu

India should deepen its ties with Afghanistan because of the following reasons:

1.Geopolitical location of Afghanistan:-

  • Afghanistan is at the heart of Asia with a very important strategic location which connects India to central Asia and to Chabahar port.
  • Heart of Asia conference saw participation by 14 states—Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates shows the importance of it
  • especially in light of the rising presence of ISIS in Afghanistan, India has to be careful against any threats that undermine the security and stability of the region

2.Pakistan factor:

  • A Pakistan-supported Taliban takeover of Afghanistan could have serious repercussions on India’s strategic interests, not only in Afghanistan but on the western borders in the future. 
  • The CASA 1000 is a parallel initiative, linking Central Asia and South Asia, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the electricity grid in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

3.Economic reasons:

  • Indian investors remain deeply interested in the many “virgin markets” of Afghanistan, including mining, agriculture and agribusiness, information and technology, telecommunications, and others.
  • India has also funded the construction of other projects, including a Rs 1,500- crore dam in the Herat province in western Afghanistan.
  • The parliament building – part of a $2 billion (Rs 12,800 crore) aid package – is symbolic of India’s support for strife-torn Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan is crucial to India’s energy security, as a pipeline from Turkmenistan to India, the TAPI project, will pass through the country (and Pakistan). Afghanistan also represents investment potential for Indian companies in several sectors.
  1. Afghan internal dynamics threaten security to Indian establishments as well :
  • The government of President Ghani is struggling to hold key districts in Helmand province in the south amid a renewed Taliban offensive there. The government in Kabul
  • is also struggling to hold overdue parliamentary elections this fall amid the worsening security situation
  • deadly attacks in Afghanistan have increased as the Taliban carries out its spring offensive.
  • an Afghan Taliban-claimed attack against a security agency responsible for protecting senior government officials 
  • The attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad
  • No one is fully committed to Afghanistan’s dysfunctional government. Beijing is unwilling to use its leverage over Pakistan, Washington is distracted, while Moscow and Tehran are hedging their bets.So India has to extend its role.
  • New Delhi has an opportunity to build on November’s historic agreement to transfer attack helicopters to Kabul. It should seize it.

5.China Factor:

  • China is stepping up its military role as well. Beijing is making it clear that it wants to have deeper security ties with Afghanistan and there are plans to strengthen counter- terror and intelligence cooperation along with enhancing China’s role in the training of Afghan military and civilian personnel

6.US and NATO withdrawing their soldiers with only around 9000 US soldiers present in Afghanistan increases the importance of regional players role which India should take advantage of as well  

7.Strengthening SAARC Afghanistan is needed


TopicIssues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

3) The Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury expert committee and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in the Rajya Sabha have both recommended structural change through amendments to the Indian Medical Council Act. What are these structural changes? Why are they needed? Examine. (200 Words)

The Hindu

Structural changes in Medical council of India and why these changes are needed:

1.No effective curriculum:

  • Medical council failed to create a curriculum that produces doctors suited to working in Indian context especially in the rural health services and poor urban areas.This has created disconnect between medical education system and health system.
  • Failure to oversee and guide the Continuing Medical Education in the country, leaving this important task in the hands of the commercial private industry.
  • Failure to maintain uniform standards of medical education, both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.
  • Failed to reduce the cost of medical education and increase access in different parts of the country.

2.commercialisation of medical education:

  • There is a devaluation of merit in the medical colleges especially private due to prevalence of excessive capitation fees  which make medical education accessible to rich and not the most deserving.
  • The development of health facilities has long been affected by a sharp asymmetry between undergraduate and postgraduate seats in medicine. There are only about 25,000 PG seats, against a capacity of 55,000 graduate seats

3.Failure in evaluation of doctors:

  • Non-involvement of the MCI in any standardized summative evaluation of the medical graduates and post-graduates.
  • even those MBBS students who pass out from colleges that have been declared unfit to impart medical education are certified.
  • Failure to put in place a robust quality assurance mechanism when a fresh graduate enters the system and starts practicing so competency of doctors is not checked.

4.suspicious system of granting recognition:

  • Failure to create a transparent system of medical college inspections and grant of recognition or de-recognition.
  • newly-opened institute is granted recognition after it has been inspected by MCI for the fourth time and its facilities are found up to the mark even if it failed in the first three inspections.
  • Heavy focus on nitty-gritty of infrastructure and human staff during inspections but no substantial evaluation of quality of teaching, training and imparting of skills.

5.Disparities in college establishment:

  • Failure to guide setting up of medical colleges in the country as per need, resulting in geographical mal-distribution of medical colleges with clustering in some states and absence in several other states leading to disparity in healthcare services across states.
  • More than 40 to 50 batches of students are studying medicine in colleges which have failed to get the MCI nod for admitting students for the second, third and fourth batches.

6.Medical ethics:

  • Failure to instill respect for a professional code of ethics in the medical professionals and take disciplinary action against doctors found violating the code of Ethics.
  • the MCI has been completely passive on the ethics dimension which is evident from the fact that between 1963-2009, just 109 doctors have been blacklisted by the Ethics Committee of the MCI.

7.Issue of NEET:

  • Although the Supreme Court has allowed the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, some States are raising genuine concerns about equity and access.

8.Other reasons:

  • Acute shortage of medical teachers.
  • abysmal doctor-population ratio. 

Measures needed to revamp the MCI:

1.Ranjit Roy chaudhary committee Recommendations:

  • creation of a National Medical Commission to oversee education and policy ,separate boards for undergraduate and postgraduate training ,assessment of institutions and medical ethics.

2.Parliamentary standing committee on health and family planning recommendations:

  1. composition of regulatory bodies and MCI:
    • Inducting non-medical professionals of integrity and community health experts to regulatory bodies would help advance public interest.
    • Even medical professionals appointed to these bodies need to be selected by an independent and rigorous selection process and reasons for selecting them need to be made public.
  2. importance of Doctor – Population ratio:
    • In India it is 1:1674 as against the WHO norm of 1:1000, so a policy in great detail to augment the capacity of production of doctors including specialists and super-specialists required to meet India’s health needs is necessary.
    • State level doctor-population ratio should guide the setting up of new medical colleges and also the increase in UG and PG seats.
  3. converting district hospitals into medical colleges:
    • it will not only be equipped with specialists of all disciplines, providing the healthcare services across the whole spectrum but will also produce some doctors in its area of operation and will thus help reduce geographical mal-distribution of doctors.
  4. checks for graduates:
    • an exit test for medical graduates at the end of their course and before they start practising, as a measure of standardisation across States
    • The PG entrance exam should be held immediately after the final MBBS examination so that the graduate doctor could concentrate on practical skills during his internship.
  5. medical education:
    • The MBBS syllabus has remained unchanged for 14 years, but requires to be revised every four to five years to be in step with developments in the medical profession. 
    • Soft skills (including ethics) should be made one of the cornerstones of the syllabus of medical education.
  6. Physical infrastructure requirement should be pruned downin such a way that it should have just about 30 to 40 percent standing value in the total assessment of a medical college.
  7. clear guidelines for a time bound probe and selection of evaluatorsas so far large number of inspectors in 2014 were from gujarat and Bihar 
  8. The Supreme Court has given the Centre a deserved rebuke by using its extraordinary powers and setting up a three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to perform the statutory functions of the Medical Council of India.It can help the Centre expand the system, especially through not-for-profit initiatives. A reform agenda for the MCI must include an admission procedure that eliminates multiplicity of entrance examinations and addresses issues such as the urban-rural divide and language barriers.

TopicGovernment policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

4) Has introduction of “none of the above”, or NOTA in Indian elections served its purpose? Discuss its significance. (200 Words)

The Hindu

The Supreme Court, in 2013, upheld the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections, saying it would go a long way in cleansing the political system of the country. The apex court directed the Election Commission to have an option of ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers in a major electoral reform.

Significance of NOTA:

  • The voter essentially got a method to register discontent, a protest that became unavailable to the voter with the shift to EVMs. Earlier, voters could deface the ballot paper or leave it unmarked to cast an invalid vote. With EVMs, a vote is deemed to have been cast only when a button is pressed. 
  • Case study:
  • Case study:
    • In the 2013 Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, for example, it was more than 3 per cent of total votes cast — Indicating possibly coercion (whereby a voter forced to cast her ballot beats the effort by invalidating it) or relatively higher alienation.
    • consider an analysis that found NOTA votes are disproportionately higher in reserved constituencies, at the Lok Sabha and Assembly levels, revealing an undercurrent of social prejudice.
  • The SC said negative voting would even encourage people who are not satisfied with any of the candidates to turn up to express their opinion and reject all contestants.
    • Negative voting will lead to a systemic change in polls
    • If the right to vote is a statutory right, then the right to reject a candidate is a fundamental right of speech and expression under the Constitution
  • The judges themselves pointed out that it can widen participation and curb impersonation.
  • This introduction will draw in new voters. The overall voter percentage shall definitely improve in the next elections.
  • This move puts common man on top and shall also give rise to a consciousness among the political parties of being scrutinized for not nominating honest candidates. The main purpose of decriminalization of politics would be served to an extent.

Concerns with NOTA:

  • No utility:
    • Should the number of NOTA votes in a constituency of candidates top even those of the highest-polling contestant, he will still get elected. 
  • When the court ordered the option to be made available here on, it did not provide any solution to the outcomes that it would lead to. 
  • The apex court wants to give people greater choice but it is unlikely to make much of a difference to the electoral process. In fact, the electoral process would be in a shambles because of this verdict.
  • If the rule of probability plays out and no candidate gets an adequate number of votes to win an election, the election commission or the aggrieved party will go to the court and seek necessary permission to conduct a re-election. So, doors of litigation will open again and pendency of cases will increase.

TopicImportant aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

5) What problems does whistleblowers face around the world? Comment on India’s Whistleblower’s Protection Bill amended in 2015. (200 Words)

Livemint

Whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower)is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.

Problems faced by Whistleblowers:

  • The world, government, corporates and even society to an extent do not like whistleblowers and some countries go so far as to call them ‘traitors’
    • The case of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange of Wikileaks proves the point
  • Whistleblowers face legal action, criminal charges, social stigma, and termination from any position, office, or job.
  • vindictive tactics to make the individual’s work more difficult and/or insignificant, assassination of character, formal reprimand, and difficult court proceedings 
  • Unemployment
  • Despite the soaring penalties, whistleblowers are still in a legally fragile situation because whistleblower cases often involve very complex set of facts and employment history. 
  • when one decides to become a whistleblower, isolation is the biggest problem

Whistle blowers protection bill 2015:

Positives :

  • The Act provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants.
  • The Bill prohibits the reporting of a corruption related disclosure if it falls under any 10 categories of information.These categories include information related to: (i) economic, scientific interests and the security of India; (ii) Cabinet proceedings, (iii) intellectual property; (iv) that received in a fiduciary capacity, etc.
  • The Act permits disclosures that are prohibited under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923. The Bill reverses this to disallow disclosures that are covered by the OSA. 
  • Any public interest disclosure received by a Competent Authority will be referred to a government authorised authority if it falls under any of the above 10 prohibited categories. This authority will take a decision on the matter, which will be binding. 

Negatives:

  • The bill in its current format provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption or criminal offences by public servants. Thus, it excludes private companies and private persons from the applicability of the provisions of the act.
    • Currently, it is the corporates and private individuals that are indulging in the practices of money laundering and tax evasion and they need to be held accountable whether in terms of corporate governance practices or through law which the act neglects.
    • The Indian government by framing such a law has perhaps inadvertently skewed the rules in favour of private companies and individuals by keeping only public servants under the purview of the Whistleblower Protection Bill.
  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that the 10 prohibited categories are modelled on those under the RTI Act, 2005. However, this comparison may not be appropriate. Unlike the RTI Act, disclosures under the Bill are not made public but in confidence to a high level constitutional or statutory authority. 
  • With regard to the 10 prohibited categories, the RTI Act allows (i) the public authority to disclose information if he considers it to be in public interest; and (ii) a two stage appeal process if information is not made available. The Bill does not contain such provisions. 
  • A Competent Authority is required to refer a prohibited disclosure to a government authority for a final decision. However, the Bill does not specify the minimum qualifications required or the process of appointment of this authority
    • The independence of this authority may be at risk if the authority is junior in rank to the public servant against whom the disclosure is made.
  • Whistleblower laws in other countries also prohibit the disclosure of certain types of information. These include information related to national security and intelligence, received in a fiduciary capacity, and any disclosure specifically prohibited by a law.
  • Prohibited categories in the Bill exceed those in the 2013 proposed amendments The 2013 proposed amendments prohibited only two categories of information from being disclosed under the Act: (i) that related to sovereignty, strategic, scientific or economic interests of India, foreign relations, or the incitement of an offence; and (ii) proceedings of the Council of Ministers. However, the 2015 Bill prohibits the disclosure of 10 categories of information. 

General Studies – 3


Topic:Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

6) “It is time India switched its policy focus to the efficiency of water use rather than adding to the food mountain. One key element of this switch should be greater incentives for the cultivation of pulses as well as millets.” Discuss why. (200 Words)

Livemint

Reasons why Pulses cultivation need to be encouraged are:

  • Average water footprint for five major crops—rice, wheat, maize, sugarcane and cotton—is far higher than global averages.
  • India is a large virtual net exporter of water because of agricultural products like cereals,tea, coffee , sugar etc which all require vast amounts of water .
  • In 2014-15 India exported 372 lakh tons of basmati which required 10 trillion tons of water I.e.., India virtually exported 10 trillion litres of water
  • The severe drought across India should hopefully help focus attention on the overuse of water in agriculture which can be cured a little by pulse cultivation.
  • pulses as well as millets—not just because they use less water for every unit of output but also as a weapon in the fight against hidden hunger
  • Domestic demand for pulses has anyway shot up in tandem with growing incomes. It is no secret that the rising prices of these pulses are not only a big contributor to high food inflation .
  • No transparent system of price discovery through unified agricultural markets and revival of systems such as forward and futures markets with adequate risk management provisions.
  • Pulses are rich in proteins and found to be main source of protein to vegetarian people of India.
  • It is second important constituent of Indian diet after cereals.
  • They can be grown on all types of soil and climatic conditions.Pulses being legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil.
  • They play important role in crop rotation, mixed and intercropping, as they help maintaining the soil fertility.They add organic matter into the soil in the form of leaf mould.
  • They are helpful for checking the soil erosion as they have more leafy growth and close spacing.Some pulses are turned into soil as green manure crops
  • They provide raw material to various industries.Ex. Dal industry, Roasted grain industry, Papad industry etc.
  • India is losing precious forex (nearly $2.3 billion) while importing pulses from players such as Canada and Australia
  • The lack of drought- and disease-resistant varieties of pulse seeds is alarming.
  • Low genetic yield of Indian pulses and their vulnerability to pests and diseases is a major hindrance to adoption of pulses by farmers.

What is needed ?

  • Government should consider doing away with export duties on pulses. This will prompt farmers to produce more for both the domestic and foreign markets.
  • Recently the Maharashtra government has taken steps to help farmers move away from crops that use water intensively.
    • It will make it more attractive for farmers to grow pulses by offering to pay a guaranteed price that is 5-10% higher than the central minimum support prices (MSPs) for pulses, as well as provide free seeds and fertilizers to farmers who grow pulses.
  • Effective implementation needed:
    • The centre has issued an early directive to the states to project pulses demand and keep hoarding in check.
    • To prevent another full-fledged pulse crisis, a sum of Rs.500 crore was allotted to pulses under the National Food Security Act, and a Price Stabilisation Fund with a corpus of Rs.900 crore was made in this year’s budget exclusively for pulses.
    • Three agencies—Food Corporation of India, Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd—purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of pulses from farmers as buffer stocks during the fiscal year.

The centre and states would also do well to simultaneously focus on insuring farmers, raising yields within water constraints, enhancing food processing and storage facilities and abandoning export controls. A shift in the highly skewed cropping pattern of the country is the need of the hour.

Facts:

  • Pulses in India recorded less than 40 per cent growth in production in the past 40 years while its per capita availability declined from 60 grams a day in the 1950s to 35 grams a day in the 2000s.

General Studies – 4

Topic:Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in human actions

7) Is prenatal genetic screening and testing for birth defects and genetic conditions, or to alter genes, ethical? Justify. (150 Words)

 Livemint