SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 26, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A May 26, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
1) A 2016 World Health Organisation report says 16 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India. The pollution in Indian cities is adversely affecting health of people, especially children. What practical measures should our cities adopt to reduce pollution and its health hazards? Discuss. (200 Words)
Practical measures needed are:-
- Determined efforts needed:
- India has to learn from Mexico City example where odd even formula war earlier implemented.Ther any vehicle that did not qualify was banned. Unlike in India, there were no exemptions for women, children and other sections. Moreover, if you came from out of town, you were stopped at the entrance to the city.
- Awareness of impact lacking:
- Very few understand how minute particulates are destroying their lungs every day. Where there is awareness, it usually leads to buying air purifiers, which might help in enclosed environments but not outside.
- Get people off cars, two-wheelers:
- Push them towards public transport, even bicycles. So India needs bicycle lanes.
- International examples:
- Bogota has an amazing 400 km of private bicycle lanes.
- In Europe, Munich has 1,200 km of marked bike lanes and 22,000 stands. Close to 20 per cent of the city’s traffic is believed to be on bicycles.
- More buses:
- But new generation ones. Bogota has 248 brand new hybrid diesel-electric buses. China has more than 100,000 electric buses, 20 per cent of the total number of buses. Shenzen saw the largest deployment of electric buses
- Move all polluting industries out of the city:
- There’s no choice on this matter.
- Mexico City didn’t just move out the industries but ensured there were better filtration systems introduced into polluting stacks.
- Keep expanding the Metro
- Take alternative transport arrangements seriously:
- Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) network is running well in cities like Ahmedabad, and to some extent, Bhopal.
- Strong demand management measures:
- Highly priced parking for cars is one obvious one, or a variation of congestion pricing.
- Beijing has a lottery system for 20,000 new cars a month. Cities like Singapore have long implemented similar moves.
- Fuel management:
- Reducing sulphur content in diesel is a critical task. As is the leap towards Euro VI (by 2020) or higher emission standards from the current Euro IV norms.
- Laudable as they are, they will take time and cannot be implemented by one city or a set of cities alone. BS IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur while Euro VI will contain 10 ppm.
- Today, India has Euro III norms in most parts of the country and Euro IV in major cities.
General Studies – 2
Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations
India’s mistakes :-
- Absence of a strategic view of Iran:
- India’s ties with Iran were looked as purely transactional, essentially a buyer-seller relationship centred on energy.
- Chabahar complications:
- The Finance Ministry initially applied the brakes on plans for development of the port, insisting that there had to be a certain assured return on investment for the project.
- The strategic import of the project, especially by way of providing access to Afghanistan, did not figure in their calculations.
- The United States’s sanctions on Iran:
- Although the Indian government claimed that it would not adhere to any unilateral sanctions, in practice it took a cautious tack.
- The danger of exposing Indian banks and companies to indirect American sanctions for dealing with Iranian entities bulked large in the government’s thinking.
- India did not rightly understand the strategic importance of Iran:
- The basic point is that Iran has always potentially been the most important power in the region. It has a unique geopolitical location owing to its reach in Central Asia and Caucasus as well as in West Asia and the Persian Gulf.
- The wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 removed the strongest regional counterweight to Iran.
- During this period, Iran also began supporting dissident Palestinian groups such as Hamas as well as anti-Israel outfits like Hezbollah.
- The rise of the Islamic State apart, the disintegration of the region has empowered Iran by driving Iraq, Syria and Russia closer to it.
- If India desires any influence in the region, it must prepare to navigate these tricky geopolitical shoals.
- Ideological differences:
- As far as Afghanistan is concerned, it is clear that Iran does not share India’s opposition to any attempt at reaching out to the Taliban
- Hence, India will remain marginal to the evolving political situation in that country unless India rethinks its approach.
However India always knew the importance of Iran as seen from the following points:
- Chabahar port:
- a contract for the development and operation for 10 years of two terminals and five berths
- the extension of credit lines of $500 million for the port and of Rs.3,000 crore for importing steel rails and implementation of the port
- memorandums of understanding on provision of services by Indian Railways, including financing to the tune of $1.6 billion, for the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line a line that is also part of the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on a transit and trade corridor.
- India started focusing on Chabahar especially to look into the Gwadar port which is under Chinese influence in Pakistan.
- India wants cooperation with Iran for many of the connectivity projects like INSTC,CASA project etc..
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Yes India should be worried :
- If it does so, there would be shifts in the pattern of global fund flows and corresponding readjustments in currency exchange rates. Those effects, and the underlying reasons for the Fed turning hawkish, would require policy makers elsewhere to review their policy stances.
- Portfolio investors may pull some of their corpus out of emerging markets and head for the American bond market instead.
- This could mean a falling rupee. If the rupee falls even as prices of crude oil and gas rise, a larger current account deficit is likely. India’s inflation gauges are already headed high and such a scenario of higher energy prices could lead to higher inflation.
- For RBI there would be less headroom to cut interest rates. The Budgetary assumptions and calculations with respect to the fiscal deficit and to energy and fertiliser subsidies might need to be revisited.
- And if the stock market slides lower, the disinvestment programme would be hit hard.
- Unfortunately, a weaker currency may not be enough to revive exports
- a weaker rupee would help a little in terms of trade competitiveness so long as the fall is not accompanied with great volatility.
- The strengthening of the dollar could have a positive impact on India’s export of goods and services while potentially limiting the growth of imported goods. This first order effect will likely result in an improvement in the balance of trade for India
Topic: Indian constitution – features
- The recent judgment of the Supreme Court rejecting the constitutional challenge to criminal defamation stands as a landmark verdict in the context of the world’s largest democracy.
Yes ,Right to Reputation should be considered a fundamental right:
- There have been several judgements on fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression and their importance in the context of democracy; however, this judgement highlights the other fundamental principles that are equally important and elevates reputation to the status of a fundamental right.
- In the context of harmful content especially in the context of the virtual world reputation has to be protected and it cannot be considered a private wrong. Therefore, there has to be redressal for genuine loss of reputation and the State is obligated to protect the human dignity of an individual.
- The fundamental right to speech and expression includes speech laden with harmful intent, made with reckless disregard as well.Right to reputation is an integral part of Articles 21 and 19(2) of the Constitution. The right to free speech cannot be read to mean that one citizen can defame another.
- The theory of balancing of rights dictates that along with the right to freedom of speech and expression, there is a correlative duty on citizens not to interfere with the liberty of others, as everyone is entitled to the dignity of person and of reputation.
- Nobody has a right to denigrate the others’ right to person or reputation.
- In this context, criminal defamation, which exists in the form of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), is not a restriction on free speech that can be characterized as disproportionate.
- It is pertinent to note that the primary basis for this judgment of the Supreme Court is the balance of right to free speech and the right to reputation, and as a result of this balance, the court upheld the provisions of criminal defamation.
- The recent judgment of the Supreme Court upholding the constitutional validity of criminal defamation has been critiqued as an opportunity lost for striking down criminal defamation from the statute books, primarily because defamation is only a civil wrong, and nothing more.
- The principal argument made on behalf of the petitioners was that to have defamation as a component of criminal law was an anathema to the idea of free speech as enumerated in our Constitution,and therefore an unreasonable restriction on a basic fundamental right.
Perhaps it is time for the legislature to consider the criminality of defamation, and decide as to whether the act of defamation is civil tort or criminal wrong.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
5) China and Pakistan are trying to scuttle India’s efforts to become member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Do you think China has moral right to block India’s efforts? How will its action impact India – China relations? Critically comment. (200 Words)
China does not have a moral right to block India’s efforts :-
- NSG membership doesn’t depend on NPT:-
- India rejected China’s contention that it must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying France was included in the elite group without signing the NPT.
- Membership of the NSG will be the final step in India’s inclusion in the global nuclear order.It is not surprising, therefore, that China is taking such a strong stand on this issue despite the fact that its own non-proliferation track record remains abysmal.
- Pakistan factor:
- In fact, it was China’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear programme that led the way for India’s overt nuclearization.
- China has supplied Pakistan with nuclear materials and expertise and provided critical assistance in the construction of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. The Sino-Pakistani nuclear relationship is perhaps the only case where a nuclear weapon state has actually passed on weapons-grade fissile material and bomb design to a non-nuclear weapon state
- After the 2008 US-India civilian nuclear pact, China made it a point to further enhance nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, despite criticism from other nuclear powers.This action was in clear violation of NSG guidelines that forbid nuclear transfers to countries not signatories to the NPT or adhere to comprehensive international safeguards on their nuclear programme.
- China has relied on an obstructionist argument and called for further discussion on whether “India and other countries” that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can join the NSG.
- China has made NPT signature its central argument to scuttle India’s entry. Beijing is claiming that a “compulsory” requirement for NSG membership is that “the NSG members must be signatories to the NPT”.
- Apart from the rhetoric about the NPT, China has also encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership so as to link New Delhi’s entry with that of Islamabad’s, knowing well that there will be few takers for Pakistan’s case.
- India wants to be part of the decision-making at the highest levels of global nuclear architecture. As a rising and responsible nuclear power, it should be a part of this structure and it will also be good for the NSG if India is part of the decision-making process.
Yes China does have some moral right :
- China suggested that there were political reasons concerning the stability of South Asia to justify the exports echoing Pakistan’s oft-repeated complaint that the US-India nuclear pact had upset stability in the region by assisting India’s strategic programme. That is why it is opposing India’s bid for NSG membership.
Effect of China’s action on India China relations :
- Experts feel China wants to be the supreme uno regional player in Asia and doesn’t want other countries to rise in power
- Shows the China’s refusal to acknowledge India’s role in upholding of nuclear safety tenets.
- It can get into other areas where mutual suspicion might prop up especially related to border conflicts, improving relations with each other armies.
- Affect relations in multilateral forums like BRICS,SCO and the recent banks NDB,AIIB where mutual cooperation is very significant
- India –US :
- The US has been declaring its support for India’s full membership since 2010.
- Can make India act as an important country in U.S pivot of Asia doctrine
- To many in India, this will further reinforce the perception that China is willing to sacrifice a long-term strategic partnership with a rising power for the short-term objective of trying to scuttle its rise. This won’t be helpful for Sino-Indian ties.
- Can make India realise the need to up its military and diplomatic capabilities especially in the light of rejection of terrorist bid against azhar and now this.
Topic: Functioning of judiciary
6) The Supreme Court of India’s expansionist role attempting to orchestrate environmental governance in the case relating to vehicular pollution in Delhi is seen as a problem. Examine why. (200 Words)
- The Supreme Court ordered all diesel taxis to cease operations in Delhi because the deadline for their conversion to CNG had expired.
- However after protests and a fresh hearing, the court agreed to modify its order and allowed already registered taxis to ply, while at the same time preventing fresh registrations.
Reasons why Supreme Court’s in this case is seen as a problem are:
- that repeated persuasion could force the court to change its mind. Nothing could be more antithetical to the dignity of a court of law than an insinuation that it is amenable to entreaty.
- The order of the court to ban diesel taxis in Delhi in the first place was contrary to law, common sense and practical reality.
- In pure legal terms, taxi owners had legitimate expectations that once a commercial licence was issued on particular terms, those terms would be respected.
- For the court, without finding those terms themselves faulty, to have modified them to the detriment of the taxi owners would upset their legally protected expectations.
- Moreover, while the right to a pollution-free environment can be traced to Article 21 of the Constitution, it is neither a problem unique to Delhi nor the exceptional responsibility of taxi drivers to redress.
- In a recent survey, Delhi was found to be behind Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur in the list of polluted cities.
- For the court to justify special restrictions on taxis that requires their banning as well as treating Delhi as a special case, it would have to demonstrate that pollution by diesel taxis in Delhi was somehow of a distinct type warranting particularly stringent intervention.So this looks like a futile exercise.
- The futility of such an exercise also underlines the fact that managing Delhi’s pollution is simply not a task that is within the managerial competence of the judiciary.
- Why is it difficult for judiciary?
- When American Supreme Court tried to effectuate ground-level social change three constraints emerged
- a lack of independence
- the limited text of constitutional rights and the inability to conceptualise
- enforce holistic reform.
- While the Indian Supreme Court may have successfully overcome the first two, it is intrinsic to the judicial function that it is unable to enforce meaningful reform.
- The order to convert all diesel taxis with national permits but operating in Delhi to CNG failed to take into account the abject lack of CNG filling stations in States contiguous to the National Capital Region where such taxis most often travel.
- The combination of an openness to entreaty, a simplistic consideration of legal principles, and not taking its institutional limitations seriously has meant that the Supreme Court is increasingly seen as a court that runs government rather than one that dispenses justice. However, the concern arises not from the fact that the court plays such a role, but how it does so.
- Recent episodes demonstrate that the court has rushed headlong into this task, determined to correct wrongs and uphold rights. It is important to note the incipient costs. Playing such a core governance function means that it is only a matter of time before people expect it to be accountable as government is — to provide in times of need, and to criticise it, perhaps even defy it when needs are not met. The protest by diesel taxi drivers is a warning sign in this regard.
- When American Supreme Court tried to effectuate ground-level social change three constraints emerged
It is imperative that the court picks up on it and introspects on carving out a role in national governance that doesn’t jeopardise its institutional credibility.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy; Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
7) Through payments banks, RBI wants to improve financial inclusion. But, recently licence holders have expressed concerns and some of them have given up their plan to set up a payments bank. Examine why. (200 Words)
- Recently Tech Mahindra announced that it was dropping its plan to start a payments bank.It became the third licence holder, out of 11, to do so.
- the limited scope of business activity, is proving to be the biggest deterrent.
- Those who have backed out have cited competitive pressure on the margins as the main reason. Experts believe that it will take a minimum of three to five years to break even.
- Strict rules :-
- RBI’s restrictions and rules are so tough that it is difficult for a standalone payments bank to make money
- These banks are required to invest 75 per cent in government securities, which will crimp their earnings.
- Technological Advancements :-
- The evolution in technology over the past ten months, after the licences were issued, is another reason that has forced the players to rethink their plans
- And with the new payments solutions (Unified Payments Interface) provided by the National Payments Corporation of India, it is going to be extremely competitive.It is set to completely revolutionise digital money transfer by making sending money as simple as a text message
- The margins and fee structures are going to be low, it gets difficult for these banks to make money
- At the same time, competition in the digital banking space has intensified with banks entering the fray.
- With their captive customer base and deep pockets, they have an edge over other payments banks and digital wallet players.
- Structure of payment banks :
- Payments banks are not allowed to lend and they cannot issue credit cards. This will limit their earning potential as their main source of income will be fee income and not the net interest income as in the case of universal banks.
- Given that in order to woo customers, payments banks may initially have to offer a higher rate compared to the 4 per cent offered by most commercial banks, their net interest margins will come under pressure
- As income channels are limited, payments banks will be under pressure to generate volume
- Challenges by Government initiatives:
- Government initiatives aimed at the unbanked population have considerably reduced the scope of doing business for payments banks
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana that was also aimed at bringing the un-banked population under the established financial system. Since its inception, banks have opened 21.87 million accounts.
- Other challenges:
- challenges in terms of their making any commercial sense of the transactions of procuring customers, having a balance, using that only for the purpose of parking in government securities, passing on incentives on payments from vendors back to the customer.
- Analysts believe that it is mainly the telecom companies that will be able to survive the heat. The Nachiket Mor Committee on these niche banks had stated that the telecom companies that have wide reach and also have a connect with the un-banked population will be able to establish themselves quickly.
- Out of the remaining eight players, three are telecom companies: Aditya Birla Nuvo, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone.
- they can give extra payment options to their customers and therefore stay relevant to them.
- Still, the payments banks remain hopeful, given that in urban areas consumers have more than one bank and therefore there is still scope to reach out to these players.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Moral thinkers
8) “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” Discuss the relevance of the meaning of this quote in public administration. (150 Words)
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