SYNOPSIS: Insights Secure Q&A August 03, 2016
As we are not giving feedback on your answers, we thought of providing detailed synopsis of important Secure questions on daily basis so that you could revise them and compare with your answers.
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.
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General Studies – 1;
Topic: Urbanization – problems and remedies
- Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that does not quickly soak into the ground.
- Stormwater flows from rooftops, over paved areas and bare soil, and through sloped lawns and fields.
- As it flows, this runoff collects and transports soil, pet waste, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, leaves, litter, and other potential pollutants that ultimately wind up in local bodies of water.
Importance of storm water drainage in a city:
- Because storm water can lead to pollution, erosion, flooding and many other environmental and health issues if not properly understood and maintained.
- The importance of stormwater drainage to a city increases in the context of changing weather patterns such as erratic and uneven rains.They are designed to address high rainfall concentrated in a short period of time.
- Urban growth has also neglected the important environmental functions of natural waterways which have resulted in degraded and damaged drainage systems. Consequently, stormwater often mixes with domestic sewage, reaching rivers after receiving only partial or no treatment.
- Stormwater drainage systems would minimize the amount of runoff by creating a path for water to be managed better, leading to enhancing the concept of water utilization and conservation.
- Incorporating management practices designed to minimize pollution, Stormdrain management need to be included in government policy for water management to prevent and control flooding while providing safe passage for less frequent and larger floods.
- In cities, the source of water that replenishes our aquifers is completely altered. Under natural conditions, aquifers are sustained through the infiltration of clean rainwater into the ground.
- But for urban environments, water from leaky sewers, water mains, septic tanks and landscape irrigation becomes the source for groundwater recharge. Since many of these sources are wastewater, they’re poor-quality sources and can lead to groundwater contamination
Indian cities do not have adequate stormwater drainage:
- According to ministry of urban development survey data for stormwater drains in 13 states, the coverage was below 50%.
- Most of the drains face clogging with garbage and sewage.So, the city gets deluged even if it receives less-than-normal rainfall.
- In India, most urban infrastructure development is unplanned. Illegal encroachments alongside drainage systems often result in an inefficient and ineffective storm drainage system.
- Infrastructure development and regulations have not kept pace with population growth and urbanisation and as a result wastewater management has become a major challenge
- government has made significant efforts to reduce surface water pollution but they remain jeopardised by the lack of wastewater treatment.
- Low Impact Development (LID) combines infiltration, evaporation and transpiration while limiting runoff.LID includes several types of stormwater technologies that together let water infiltrate the ground and evapotranspire into the air.
- Bioretention and rain gardens are other vegetated systems, these on ground level, that allow stormwater to soak directly into the earth.
- Permeable pavements allow stormwater to infiltrate slowly into the ground. These pavements can be used for low traffic roadways and driveways, parking lots and pedestrian walkways.
- In North America, the most popular end-of-pipe approach has been stormwater management ponds that provide temporary storage for stormwater and improve water quality through sedimentation
- Constructed wetlands clean stormwater and remove nutrients like nitrogen
General Studies – 2
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections
2) Recently, Parliament passed the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015. Discuss the objectives and provisions of the Bill. Do you think this Bill would benefit weaker sections of the society?
Objectives and provisions:
- A comprehensive legislation to tackle black money within the country.
- provides for confiscation of benami properties—assets held in the name of another person or under a fictitious name to avoid taxation and conceal ill-gotten wealth.
- The term “property” will cover movable, immovable, tangible and intangible properties. In case of joint ownership of property, the taxpayer will have to show financing sources.
- The Bill seeks to:
- (i) amend the definition of benami transactions
- (ii) establish adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions
- (iii) specify the penalty for entering into benami transactions.
- The Act defines a benami transaction as a transaction where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
- The Bill amends this definition to add other transactions which qualify as benami, such as property transactions where: (i) the transaction is made in a fictitious name, (ii) the owner is not aware of denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or (iii) the person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.
- The Bill also specifies certain cases will be exempt from the definition of a benami transaction. .
- Under the Act, an Authority to acquire benami properties was to be established by the Rules. The Bill seeks to establish four authorities to conduct inquiries or investigations regarding benami transactions:
- (i) Initiating Officer
- (ii) Approving Authority
- (iii) Administrator
- (iv) Adjudicating Authority.
- If an Initiating Officer believes that a person is a benamidar, he may issue a notice to that person. The Initiating Officer may hold the property for 90 days from the date of issue of the notice, subject to permission from the Approving Authority. At the end of the notice period, the Initiating Officer may pass an order to continue the holding of the property.
- If an order is passed to continue holding the property, the Initiating Officer will refer the case to the Adjudicating Authority. The Adjudicating Authority will examine all documents and evidence relating to the matter and then pass an order on whether or not to hold the property as benami.
- Based on an order to confiscate the benami property, the Administrator will receive and manage the property in a manner and subject to conditions as prescribed.
- The Bill also seeks to establish an Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals against any orders passed by the Adjudicating Authority. Appeals against orders of the Appellate Tribunal will lie to the high court.
- Under the Act, the penalty for entering into benami transactions is imprisonment up to three years, or a fine, or both. The Bill seeks to change this penalty to rigorous imprisonment of one year up to seven years, and a fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the benami property.
- The Bill also specifies the penalty for providing false information to be rigorous imprisonment of six months up to five years, and a fine which may extend to 10% of the fair market value of the benami property.
- Certain sessions courts would be designated as Special Courts for trying any offences which are punishable under the Bill.
- unaccounted money lead to the revenue loss to the government, such transactions impact the country’s economy adversely. The new law will go a long way in cleaning up India’s real estate sector.
- Would curb the practice of tax evasion by accounting for such sources.
- The revenue gained by the government can be put to social welfare programmes and uplifting the weaker sections.
- government has taken steps to protect property owned by religious and charitable institutions, adding that it has powers to exempt property owned by such institutions
- it is a step towards curbing money laundering at a local level. This would act as an impetus specifically in tracing benami assets in case of corporate borrowers siphoning funds and defrauding the banking system. Banks would also be able to take advantage of the bill to enhance recovery procedures, once it is established that bank funds have been used to create benami assets.
- Can reduce income inequality to an extent
- Can reduce corruption.
All benami property transactions may not be illegal. Some of them may be due to some restrictions on property purchases in some states.
General Studies – 3
Topic: Resource mobilization
Different from the current regimes and it’s working:
- Currently, India has Value-Added Tax (VAT) systems both at the central and state levels. But the central VAT extends tax set-offs only against central excise duty and service tax paid up to the level of production. CENVAT does not extend to value addition by the distributive trade below the stage of manufacturing
- Even manufacturers cannot claim set-off against other central taxes such as additional excise duty and surcharge.
- Likewise, state VATs cover only sales. Sellers can claim credit only against VAT paid on previous purchases.
- The VAT also does not subsume a host of other taxes imposed within the states such as luxury and entertainment tax, octroi, etc.
- Once GST comes into effect, all central- and state-level taxes and levies on all goods and services will be subsumed within an integrated tax having two components: a central GST and a state GST.
- This will ensure a complete, comprehensive and continuous mechanism of tax credits.
- Under it, there will be tax only on value addition at each stage, with the producer/seller at every stage able to set off his taxes against the central/state GST paid on his purchases.
- The end-consumer will bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages.
What will happen if the parliament passes the bill ?
- The GST would subsume various central indirect taxes like excise duty, custom duty,service tax etc as well as state level indirect taxes like VAT/sales tax, entertainment tax,entry tax, luxury tax etc.
- Once the bill is passed there will be only one national level central GST and a state level GST spanning the entire value chain for all goods and services with some exemptions.
- The GST Council:
- Will consist of the union Finance Minister (chairman) and MoS in charge of Revenue; Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation, or any other Minister, nominated by each state
- decisions will be made by three-fourths majority of votes cast; Centre shall have a third of votes cast, states shall together have two-thirds
- Mechanism for resolving disputes arising out of its recommendations may be decided by the Council itself
- The levy of GST:
- BOTH Parliament, state Houses will have the power to make laws on the taxation of goods and services
- parliament’s law will not override a state law on GST.Exclusive power to Centre to levy, collect GST in the course of interstate trade or commerce, or imports. This will be known as Integrated GST (IGST)
- central law will prescribe manner of sharing of IGST between Centre and states, based on GST Council’s views
- Alcoholic liquor for human consumption ,Petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel are kept out of GST purview for now
- Tobacco, tobacco products. Centre may impose excise duty on tobacco are included in it.
4) Financing technical vocational education and training (VET) is costlier than general education due to its technical nature. What are the challenges of imparting VET in India? Analyse the sources from where finances can be mobilized to finance VET.
Challenges of imparting VET in India:
- Pre-service training requires the installation of equipment and trained instructors to train youth. This raises the cost of training.
- One outcome of the rising need for skilled personnel and limited financing available for skill development leads to firms facing rising input costs on account of human resources. This tends to raise recurrent costs for the firm.
- Yet another outcome of rising skilled labour costs is that large firms decide to invest in machinery, substituting capital for labour, thus reducing the potential for increasing jobs.
There are four ways in which technical vocational education and training (TVET) is financed in India at these four locations:
(a) General tax revenues, used to fund public and private vocational training providers-
- A variant of financing VET from general tax revenues is the provision of tax deduction of the expenses incurred on skills projects.
- The NSDC has been mandated to process applications and send its recommendations to income tax authorities for necessary action.
- There are two problems with this form of financing.
- India’s tax revenue-to-GDP ratio has hardly improved since the economic reforms in 1991 and remains below 17.5 per cent.
- Giving a tax deduction for VET further reduces tax revenues rather than increasing it.
- Second, the Income Tax Act, especially corporate taxes, is regularly criticised for already being too accommodative by providing too many exemptions, reducing the effective corporate tax rate to 23 per cent. Hence, this is not an appropriate method of financing VET.
(b) In-firm financing and provision of training by and for a firm conducting such training
- The second form of financing was confined to merely 16 per cent of all Indian firms in 2009, and still only 39 per cent of firms in 2014,
- Even the smaller of large firms, and certainly the medium and small enterprises, don’t conduct much in-house training. Hence, the problem of shortage of trained personnel continues.
(c) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requirements by the government, mandating a certain proportion of CSR funds to be spent on vocational training
- The Companies Act, 2013, is applicable to companies with an annual turnover of Rs.1,000 crore or more.
- The Act encourages companies to spend at least 2 per cent of their average net profit in the previous three years on CSR.
- However, the provision in the Act is ‘indicative’, not mandatory.
- putting skill development in the category of CSR activity assumes that it is not directly beneficial to the company in its core business.
- Skill development is often undertaken by a company for meeting its own requirements for skilled HR, and the training hence may be overly specialised and may leave the trainee not particularly employable if he or she were to move jobs.
(d) Levy on firms by the government, held in a special fund, resources from which are earmarked for vocational training. This is what is proposed but is currently not the practice in India.
- Here a tax is levied on companies that goes into an earmarked fund meant exclusively for TVET purposes.
- Firms can be reimbursed the costs of training from such a fund.
- A second objective such a fund would serve is to provide a stipend to students who receive TVET, given that the demand for TVET is lower than for general academic education.
- Levies can provide a steady and protected source of funding for training, particularly in the context of unstable public budgets.
- Early training funds (e.g. Brazil) tended to be single purpose aimed at financing pre-employment training.
- conservationists and social justice activists Have differences.
- One group asks for notifying new tiger reserves, anti poaching activities
- while the other group says that in the light of tiger conservation people living in forests are being evicted.
- conservation of the tiger and other wildlife should not be at the cost of the fundamental rights of our citizenry is a common refrain.
- Economic development:
- Government sanctioned the cutting down of forests to build highways, flattened forests for coal and other minerals, and drowned out forests for dams, significantly devastating wildlife and forest dwellers alike.
- Legal loopholes:
- FRA and PESA have been met with severe opposition from conservationists and the forest department largely because of mistrust, fears of misuse, and fear of the dilution of existing powers.
- Compensatory afforestation fund bill
- At present the fund balance now stands at Rs.42,000 crore.
- It is been criticised because it puts too much money in the hands of the forest department, and because it bypasses democratic institutions like the gram sabha
- Habitat loss:
- As their overall habitat amounts decrease, this will cause numbers to continually decline and can eventually lead to the extinction of these Tigers.
- Less genetic diversity leads to extinction of these animals.
- a high demand for parts of these animals and this demand continues to drive poachers to hunt and kill these animals.
However many significant initiatives have been taken for the conservation of tigers in the recent years which led to rise of tiger population. They are:
- The tiger population in India has increased by 30% since 2010.India’s tiger population had risen from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014
- Measures relate to Special Tiger Protection Force, Special Programme for Orphan Tiger cubs,tiger maps, efforts to control poaching and initiatives to minimize human-animal conflict and encroachment.
- India has a Memorandum of Understanding with Nepal on controlling illegal cross-boundary trade. The government also has an established protocol on tiger conservation with China and is currently working on a bilateral protocol with Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar
- India is also a participant of the Global Tiger Forum of Tiger Range Countries—a venue for addressing international issues relating to tiger conservation.
Topic: Resource mobilization
6) Policymakers have long been frustrated by the fact that Indian household savings are disproportionately directed towards unproductive assets such as gold, rather than channelled into formal financial markets. Examine why household savings should be channelled into formal financial markets. What measures has government taken in this regard?
- data reveals that households in states with historically high levels of inflation volatility tend to hold significantly higher amounts of gold.
- based on international experiences if the head of the household experienced high levels of inflation when they were young (age 25) — such households turn out to hold particularly high levels of gold.This is called as post traumatic inflation disorder .
Why household savings should be Chanelled into formal financial markets?
- Indian households can reap numerous benefits from redeploying resources from gold to formal markets
- including a more favourable risk-return profile
- diversification benefits, and liquidity.
- On a more macro level, there are potentially big benefits when the focus shifts from gold towards more productive assets, such as a reduction in the current account deficit from declining gold imports, and the mobilisation of much-needed funds for uses such as infrastructure.
Measures by the government :
- massive increase in duties on gold and physical restrictions in its import
- 80/20 rule to channelize the imported gold to domestic markets but it was scrapped later by the government.
- Measures taken by present government-
- Gold monetization scheme
- It is a scheme that facilitates the depositors of gold to earn interest on their metal accounts. Once the gold is deposited in metal account, it will start earning interest on the same.
- Sovereign gold bond scheme :
- SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold. They are substitutes for holding physical gold. Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity. The Bond is issued by Reserve Bank on behalf of Government of India.
- The SGB offers a superior alternative to holding gold in physical form. The risks and costs of storage are eliminated. Investors are assured of the market value of gold at the time of maturity and periodical interest.
- Small finance banks and payment banks were brought into fore to even bring small savings into the formal financial markets
- Gold monetization scheme
General Studies – 4
Topic: Ethics in human actions
7) Do you think a woman should have the right to seek abortion at any time she pleases? Should the state have a say in an intimate matter of what a woman wants to do with the foetus? What are the ethical issues involved? Critically analyse. (250 Words)