SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A August 10, 2016
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Role of women; Salient features of Indian Society
- India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament.
- Women have held the posts of president and prime minister in India, as well as chief ministers of various states but the political discourse of India in the present days raises many questions about the strength of women in political arena.
Political rise of women leaders in India is attributed to the men around them because:-
- One of the reasons for the rise of leaders like Jayalalithaa, Sonia Gandhi and Ms. Mayawati is often attributed to the men around them like M.G. Ramachandran, Rajiv Gandhi, and Kanshi Ram, respectively.
Political rise of women leaders cannot be entirely attributed to the men around them because:
- The dynasty factor and the support of men to these leaders would not be the only reason for them to come this far.They are clearly now significant leaders in their own right, who can influence not only the decisions of their own parties but even the course of national politics.
- The rise of leaders like Mamata Banerjee who scripted their own path in politicsshows a different view of the political rise.
- Most women politicians have found it difficult to rise within party hierarchies, and have managed to achieve clear leadership only when they have effectively broken out and set up parties on their own.
- Jayalalitha and Mamata Banerjee are clear examples of this
- Yet once these women become established as leaders, another peculiarly Indian characteristic seems to dominate – that is the unquestioning acceptance by the (largely male) party rank and file of the leader’s decisions.
What should change in India to see women occupy powerful posts?
1.Attitude of the men towards women:
- The patriarchal mindset is even visible in the leaders of the country .To criticise a male politician they insult his decisions and policies but to criticise a woman politician they insult her decisions, policies and looks
- For example the recent expulsion of BJP party member for verbally abusing a female politician
2.Recognizing that sharing work and family responsibilities between men and women is critical to women’s involvement in public life
3.Actions political parties can take are:
- Revising party structures and procedures that hinder the participation of women
- Developing initiatives to ensure women participate in all internal policy making structures and electoral nominating processes
- Incorporating gender issues in their political agendas
- Capacity gapsmean women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.
5.There is a need for the Passage of women reservation bill.
6.AWomen agency need to be established
7.Dynastic politics generally prefer men as the leader than woman this has to change performance based politics.
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
Meaning of Urban Sprawl:
- Urban sprawl is characterized by dispersed outgrowth of areas outside the city’s core, engulfing many villages around it.
- It describes the expansion of human populations away from central urban areas into low-density, monofunctional and usually car-dependent communities, in a process called suburbanization
Challenges posed by growing urban sprawl in Indian cities:
- This poses many economic, ecological and institutional challenges. These areas are often characterized by the absence of basic infrastructure and services like water, sanitation, electricity, roads and transportation.
- private developer-led growth in these areas only leads to the development of certain pockets like gated communities, with no attention paid to public infrastructure.
- The recent water-logging crisis in Gurgaon demonstrates how untrammelled development without the provision of basic urban amenities like a proper drainage system can result in an urban dystopia.
- In Bengaluru, the civic woes of peri-urban areas like Whitefield have arguably gotten worse after its amalgamation with the municipal corporation in 2007. While the area of the corporation grew by almost four times, its institutional capacity to respond to the needs of the newly added areas remains weak.
- With changes in land use, as seen in the commercialization of agricultural land, the ecosystem of the region is also threatened. In the midst of such a transformation, the livelihoods of people in peri-urban areas is increasingly become precarious.
- Even when the state takes a proactive role to peri-urban growth through ventures like industrial corridors, the interests of the people living in these areas are often ignored.
- Agricultural land in the urban periphery is acquired for mega-projects from farmers at very cheap rates and then transferred to various business and commercial units.
- The landowners and cultivators are left out of the development process and are often made to relocate.
- Lack of proper institutional framework:
- Even after the passage of the 74th constitutional amendment which sought the empowerment of elected municipal governments, India’s urban governance and planning regime remains paralysed.
- Though the amendment tasked the ULBs and the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) with urban planning, various ‘development authorities’ working under the state governments continue to perform this function in most cities.
- Increased Traffic:
- Populations will begin to use their cars more often, which means that there is more traffic on the roads, and there is also more air pollution and more accidents.
- Health Issues:
- When people use their vehicles, even to go to a very short distance, people are going to be more overweight and are also going to have to deal with ailments such as high blood pressure and other diseases that come about with obesity.
- Environmental Issues:
- Sprawls can also cause certain environmental issues that you may want to be aware of.
- One of the major environmental problems associated with sprawl is habitat loss and subsequent reduction in biodiversity. A review by Czech and colleagues finds that urbanization endangers more species
- Impact on Social Lives:
- People don’t have neighbors that live as close, which means that they won’t really stay as social as they were.
- Environmental benefits:
- Urban sprawl may also benefit the environment. A Congressional report on sprawl states low-density development is better for air quality because it disperses air pollution over a wider area.
- Additionally, low-density areas make more room for green spaces–trees, parks and yards–which help minimize both air and water pollution.
- less expensive land in outlying areasaround cities, people are able to afford larger houses on larger lots.
- Traffic congestion is less in these areas than the cities
- Quality of life is similar to cities but at a affordable and cheap way.
What needs to be done?
- A better approach is to plan for the future by identifying areas for growth and taking steps to ensure that these areas are first provided with basic urban infrastructure and services.
- An interesting venture in this regard is the Urban Expansion Initiative, which promotes a “making room approach” to urban expansion by identifying areas that are projected to urbanize and procuring land for public amenities beforehand.
- In India, the Union government’s National Rurban Mission seeks to provide high-growth rural areas with infrastructural amenities, economic activities and planned layouts similar to those available in cities.
- While the mission aims to develop 300 “rurban” growth clusters, the same principle of providing urban amenities first can be applied to peri-urban areas adjacent to India’s mega-cities which may not administratively come under an urban local body (ULB).
- For responding to a phenomenon like peripheral urban growth, an institutional framework that provides for a metropolitan-level planning and governance mechanism is essential.
- But to ensure that these processes do not get overly centralized, it needs to be supplemented by appropriate mechanisms at the city and neighbourhood level. Hence, each level of urban governance—ward, zone, city and region—needs to be fortified.
- useful framework for multi-scale urban planning is provided under the Union government’s Model Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law, which provides for planning at state, metropolitan and local level.
- Among the world’s top ten urban sprawls by population in 1990,Delhi already the second largest behind Tokyo and will continue to retain second position till 2025, according to a UN projection.
General Studies – 2
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources.
3) “Compared to previous education policies, the new draft NEP 2016 is substantially different in its vision of society, social purposes, understanding of aims of education and their articulation.” Critically discuss. (200 Words)
New Draft National educational policy 2016:-
How is it different?
- The draft National Education Policy prepared by the TSR Subramanian committee after nationwide consultations identifies the gaps in the education system .
- proposed that public spending on education be hiked to six per cent of the GDP.
- proposed independent Teacher Recruitment Commissions and the formulation of transparent and merit based norms and guidelines for recruitment of teachers and principals.
- Unlike the 1986 NPE which was a broad document and offered few specifics, the present draft has an exhaustive list of to-dos for the government. What India’s educational system needed was robust institutions at the national, state and district level to manage and provide technical inputs for schools and colleges.
- Social purpose and goal:
- A quick analysis of the NPE 1968 and NPE 1986 reveals that the social purpose of education in is closely connected with the national goals that are democratic in character, culturally rooted but aware of shortcomings of its own culture, well-integrated internally and secure from outside aggression
- Both the earlier policies are also very clear that to achieve these social purposes, education has to develop certain qualities and capabilities in learners. Only citizens with those capabilities can achieve the defined social purposes.
- Goals : it appears that national goals and educational objectives are same in this policy and educational aims are scattered all over the document
- Vision of society :
- Here the more focus is on knowledge economy and employable skills .knowledge to be imparted to deal with a changing skill environment and life-long learning of skills, to prepare for the workforce and to be productive.
- Experts are criticising the policy saying that it considers people are pliable with the government as citizens and people who question the government are not part of the knowledge economy .
- Cultural heritage is seen as the culture of ancient India. no indication of any other culture is given; the characteristics that are listed are ones claimed for ancient Indian culture.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
- The bill totally bans employment of children below 14 years in all enterprises and occupations except those run by his or her family
- The Bill enhances the punishment for employing any child in an occupation. It also includes penalty for employing an adolescent in a hazardous occupation•
- The penalty for employing a child was increased to imprisonment between 6 months and two years (from 3 months-one year) or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 10,000-20,000) or both.
- The Bill empowers the government to make periodic inspection of places at which employment of children and adolescents are prohibited
- violations have been made a cognisable offence
- The flaw in this legislation is that the line between learning with your parents and economic exploitation is blurred. This is so misleading.
- Section 3 in Clause 5 allows child labour in “family or family enterprises”. Since most of India’s child labour is caste-based work, with poor families trapped in intergenerational debt bondage, this refers to most of the country’s child labourers.
- The clause is also dangerous as it does not define the hours of work; it simply states that children may work after school hours or during vacations
- Bill seems to have brought in a new concept of ‘part-time student, part-time child labour’ along with part-time teachers.poor children They will have no leisure, no time to play or study, leading to serious short- and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences
- It has slashed the list of hazardous occupations for children from 83 to include just mining, explosives, and occupations mentioned in the Factory Act. This means that work in chemical mixing units, cotton farms, among others, have been dropped. Further, even the the ones listed as hazardous can be removed, according to Section 4 — not by Parliament but by government authorities at their own discretion.
- In 2009, India passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE). But the amendments in the new law make it practically impossible to implement the RTE. Its clauses put such a burden on poor low-caste families that instead of promoting education, the Act actually increases the potential for dropouts.
- Not only do the new amendments reverse the gains of the 1986 Act, but actually contradict the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000 that makes it punishable for anyone to procure or employ a child in a hazardous occupation.
- They also contravene the International LabourOrganisation’s (ILO) Minimum Age Convention and UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a signatory.
- The devastating health consequences of the new Act may be the worst blow on India’s poor yet. There are 33 million child labourers in India, according to UNICEF.
- As per the 2011 census, 80 per cent of them are Dalits, 20 per cent are from the Backward Classes. This law will restrict these children to traditional caste-based occupations for generations.
- The Census 2011 shows that 33.9 million children are out of school and vulnerable to labour. Around 1.01 crore children in the 5-14 age group earn for their families. They will not be protected under the proposed amended law.
What is needed ?
- Making children work is not the solution. There is a need for strengthening their families through dedicated poverty alleviation programmes.
Topic: Issues of governance; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
Implications of GST for federalism and how it erodes States autonomy:
- GST council:
- GST Council as a constitutional body impinges on the legislative sovereignty of both Parliament and the State Legislatures. It also completely jeopardizes the autonomy of the States in fiscal matters.
- The existing mechanism of the Empowered Committee of State Ministers which dealt with VAT issues is adequate. No statutory GST Council is required.
- Furthermore, the decision making rule and voting weightage in the proposed Council are completely unacceptable. They give the Government of India an effective veto in the GST Council and no distinction is sought to be made amongst the States in weightage.
- The rates for both, the CGST and the SGST, will be fixed by the GST Council, whose members will be State finance/revenue ministers and chairman will be the Union finance minister. Once the rates are set by the GST Council, individual States will lose their right to tax whichever commodities they want at the rates they want.
- all states have exactly one vote. The express purpose of the GST Bill is to concentrate on manufacturing and achieve excellence so that the same product is not manufactured locally with sub-optimal efficiency in every state for tax reasons.
- That being the case, it is natural there are going to be only a few manufacturing states while the rest will be consuming states.
- To have a council where the manufacturing state has one vote whereas all other states, likely consumers, also have a vote each is unfair.
- Governments that were elected laid an emphasis of social spending. Sometimes they paid for it by levying new forms of indirect taxes. What the GST does is take this power away from a state government.
- The ability to raise tax resources independent of the GST framework is now severely curtailed.
- taking away the discretion of individual states on taxing a range of goods and services.
- What will happen to the panchayat and city finances is an open question.
- Self-defeating ideas like having different rates for goods and services are still being discussed about. The tension between the short-term interests of the states, which are pushing for higher rates, and concerns for inflation which call for lower rates, will need to be resolved. The implementation process will generate some short-term dislocations
- When you move to a GST regime in a federal set-up, some curtailment of the State’s freedom is inevitable.
- All goods and services will be divided into certain categories. The rates will be fixed by category and state cannot shift a commodity from a lower to a higher rate, or put it in the exempt category.
- According to the Constitution, the States have complete autonomy over levy of sales taxes, which, on average, accounted for 80 per cent of their revenue. But with the GST which mandates a uniform rate, even this limited autonomy would be gone.
- Moreover, the restrictions imposed by a uniform tax regime could adversely impact States that may be more committed to welfare expenditures.
- GST regime where each State has a different tax rate for different goods and services doesn’t sit well with the industry demand for a single national market with a uniform tax regime.
- Besides, if rates will be different, the taxes will be dual, and the dual taxes will be administered independently by the States and the Centre,why not just streamline the existing tax architecture instead of erecting a new one.
- Tax rate
- low rate would be a burden to the state exchequer . However high rate would have a huge impact on the wage earning classes
- GST, by subsuming an array of indirect taxes under one rubric, will simplify tax administration, improve compliance, and eliminate economic distortions in production, trade, and consumption.
- By giving credit for taxes paid on inputs at every stage of the supply chain and taxing only the final consumer, it avoids the ‘cascading’ of taxes, thereby cutting production costs, and making exports more competitive.
- GST brings plentiful revenues and significantly higher gross domestic product growth, with lower inflation. Many economists believe it could also give a boost to the country’s growth rate
- The GST council, arguably, makes the states significant decision partners in national-level macro-economic management.
- Collectively, they will have to be mindful of the aggregate national-level macro-economic impact on things like inflation. In short, the states will have to think nationally as well.
- States for a while have considerable leeway on petroleum taxes that form a bulk of their revenue.
- The potential of non-goods and services-related revenue the states can deploy is underestimated. the states have creative capacities to find new sources of revenue if a distortionary mechanism is closed off.
- If the aggregate revenues go up because of the GST, that arguably creates a new kind of spending autonomy.
- New regime will ensure a check on tax evasion and therefore boost revenues.
- It tightens the tax net — currently riddled with numerous holes in the form of multiple rates and exemptions and classifications — in addition to widening it.
Topic: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
How are vulnerable communities affected :
- Vulnerable communities face the brunt of climate change from rising sea levels and extreme weather events to prolonged severe droughts and flooding.
- According to the World Bank, without effective mitigation measures, climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030.
- To help the most vulnerable communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change, financial institutions should support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). In emerging economies, SMEs account for as much as 45% of employment and up to 33% of gross domestic product and these numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included.
- When an SME builds up its own climate resilience, it can have cascading effects in the community around it.
- More vegetation and afforestation need to be encouraged .
- Coastal areas- mangroves , shelter belts and following coastal regulation rules strictly
- Earthquake prone areas – Following proper building norms to withstand earthquakes .
- Drought prone areas- water conservation techniques and aquifer management need to be done to be prepared for rapid climate change having effect on the rainfall.
- Nations have to seriously adhere to the agreements made with respect to climate change internationally.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health
The Bill fills the long-standing gap in the mental health law in India after the country ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requiring it to harmonise its laws with those prevalent worldwide.
Important provisions of the bill are:
- Rights of persons with mental illness: Every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government. The right to access mental health care includes affordable, good quality of and easy access to services. Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal services, access to their medical records, and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care.
- Advance Directive:
- A mentally ill person shall have the right to make an advance directive that states how he wants to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation and who his nominated representative shall be.
- The advance directive has to be certified by a medical practitioner or registered with the Mental Health Board.
- If a mental health professional/ relative/care-giver does not wish to follow the directive while treating the person, he can make an application to the Mental Health Board to review/alter/cancel the advance directive.
- Central and State Mental Health Authority:
- These are administrative bodies are required to
- register, supervise and maintain a register of all mental health establishments
- develop quality and service provision norms for such establishments,
- maintain a register of mental health professionals,
- train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act
- receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services
- advise the government on matters relating to mental health.
- These are administrative bodies are required to
- Mental Health Establishments: Every mental health establishment has to be registered with the relevant Central or State Mental Health Authority.
- Bill also specifies the process and procedure to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals.
- A decision to be admitted in a mental health establishment shall be made by the person with the mental illness except when he is unable to make an independent decision or conditions exist to make a supported admission unavoidable.
- •Mental Health Review Commission and Board:
- The Mental Health Review Commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will periodically review the use of and the procedure for making advance directives and advise the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons.
- The Commission shall with the concurrence of the state governments, constitute Mental Health Review Boards in the districts of a state.
- The Board will have the power to (a) register, review/alter/cancel an advance directive, (b) appoint a nominated representative, (c) adjudicate complaints regarding deficiencies in care and services, (d) receive and decide application from a person with mental illness/his nominated representative/any other interested person against the decision of medical officer or psychiatrists in charge of a mental health establishment.
- Decriminalising suicide and prohibiting electro-convulsive therapy:
- A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code.
- Electro-convulsive therapy is allowed only with the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia. The therapy is prohibited for minors.
- The Bill requires that every insurance company shall provide medical insurance for mentally ill persons on the same basis as is available for physical illnesses.
- Patient with mental illness will not be subject to seclusion and solitary confinement
- Every prison will have a mental health facility
- The financial memorandum of the Bill does not estimate the expenditure required to meet the obligations under the Bill nor does it provide details of the sharing of expenses between the central and state governments.
- Without the allocation of adequate funds, the implementation of the Bill could be affected.
- The Standing Committee examining the Bill had noted that public health is a state subject. Since several states face financial constraints, the central government might have to face the burden of transferring funds.
- The Bill does not prescribe specific penalties for non-compliance with several of its provisions.
- A general punishment of imprisonment up to 6 months or a penalty of up to Rs 10,000, or both, is provided.
- The absence of specific penal provisions might create ambiguities with regard to the implementation of the Bill.
- does not address issues related to guardianship of mentally ill persons.The provisions related to guardianship of mentally ill persons are in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Bill, 2014, which is pending in Parliament.
- While the bill provides for establishment of Central and state mental health authority and committees at the state level, it is questioned where the infrastructure will come from.
- District judges and collectors will have to be involved in several committees which will delay treatment.
Even though some sections of this bill are being criticized but still this bill seems more humane and appropriate in the current situation.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Currently, oil comes to Asia through the Suez Canal and is stored in Singapore, making Singapore the world’s biggest oil storage hub. When the NSR opens up South Korea will emerge as the next hub for oil storage by planning to add tanks for storing almost 60 million barrels of crude and refined products by 2020 — the same as Singapore’s current capacity.
- Korea has also come up with a master plan for the Arctic consisting of three policy goals, four strategies and thirty-one projects connected to the Arctic region.
- Once the FTA comes through, potential tariff concessions on Arctic oil (storage or transport) could help India immensely in the next 10-15 years as at present India is still heavily dependent heavily on fossil fuels
- A strategic trade partnership with South Korea presents an immense opportunity in filling this gap.
- First, going forward India should integrate Arctic resources in CEPA and include provisions for future crude oil trade.
- And second, as an observer state, India should send delegations and get actively involved in Arctic programmes.
- This year China, Japan and South Korea held talks on Arctic issues in Seoul. India is also an observer state on the same legal ground as the other three countries but so far, India has been remarkably missing from talks such as these.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate
- The draft bill aims to establish a world class fully autonomous institution of national importance under MoD which will develop and propagate higher education in national security studies, defence management and defence technology and promote policy- oriented research on all aspects relating to national security, both internal and external.
- The idea is to serve as a think tank contributing to policy formulation and debates on security and strategy.
- The institute will inculcate and promote coordination and interaction not just between the three armed services but also between other agencies of the government, the civil bureaucracy, paramilitary forces, Central Armed Police Forces, intelligence services, diplomats, academicians, strategic planners, university students and officers from friendly foreign countries.
- INDU Bill, 2015 proposes that the new institution will integrate under it the National Defence College, National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and College of Defence Management without diluting their powers or autonomy for award of degrees and diplomas.
- Initially, four new institutions-School of National Security Studies, School of Defence Technology, School of Defence Management and Centre for Distance and Open Learning-are proposed to be set up as INDU’s constituents at the main campus.
- Not only meant to augment existing Professional military education capacities, but to provide the intellectual underpinnings for “jointness” among the different services.
- The US has it, China has it and even Pakistan. About 49 years after the idea of a Parliament-approved university and an integrated thinktank to bring together professional soldiers and security officials with academicians and intellectuals on the same convergent platform was mooted, the idea is again gaining traction.
- jointness cannot be achieved simply by creating additional empires for serving and retired military officers. It requires new ways of thinking and bringing different actors across a wide spectrum to understand and learn from each other and build networks .Presumably a well-designed National Defence University would attempt to do this. Unfortunately, the INDU as currently constituted does not appear to meet this test.
- there has been little public debate over how this institution should be built.The conceptualisation and implementation of the INDU is almost entirely left to the military and the Defence Ministry.
- By handing over the project to an ill-equipped public sector undertaking, which prepared the DPR, any prospect of conceptual creativity is difficult to expect.
- It does address an existing anomaly, the absence of civilian faculty. Indian exceptionalism continues here — among ‘mature democracies’ India is rare in that civilians are denied the opportunity to teach at higher defence colleges.
- The project report for the INDU states that it will eventually require around 300 civilians for its faculty even though currently none of the existing tri-services institutes have any civilian faculty.
What is needed?
- It should broaden the membership of the INDU cell located in the Integrated Defence Staff beyond the military officers who serve on a rotational basis and lack expertise in higher education or professional military education.
- If the INDU is to live to its potential, the complexity of India’s national security challenges needs to be recognised. This means that while the armed forces should have the largest representation, the INDU should not be a monopoly of the armed forces.
- The INDU will only succeed if all relevant organs of the Indian state are sensitised to the intricacies of national security and thereby foster a ‘whole of government’ approach.
- This requires conscious partnering with institutions like the LalBahadur Shastri National Academy for Administration and Sardar Patel National Police Academy, as well as the intelligence agencies. Only then can the INDU emerge as an institution that fosters greater cooperation and understanding between different arms of the Indian state.
- The government should move to appoint an academic council, with broader representation than simply bureaucrats and military officers, and house it in a government-sponsored think tank like the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis.
- It needs to make conscious efforts to learn about best practices in professional military education from other countries.
Unless these steps are taken, the INDU will become another costly retirement home, and India’s security will be its collateral damage.
General Studies – 4
Topic: Moral thinkers and leaders